Christina Dodd

“With great care, Amy opened the cellar door.
With ladylike demeanor, she descended the stairs. And as her reward, she had the satisfaction of catching His Mighty Lordship sitting on the cot, his knee crooked sideways and his ankle pulled toward him, cursing at the manacle.
“I got it out of your own castle,” she said.
Northcliff jumped like a lad caught at a mischief. “My . . . castle?” At once he realized what she meant. “Here on the island, you mean. The old ancestral pile.”
“Yes.” She strolled farther into the room. “I went down into the dungeons, crawled around in among the spider webs and the skeleton of your family’s enemies—”
“Oh, come on.” He straightened his leg. “There aren’t any skeletons.”
“No,” she admitted.
“We had them removed years ago.”
For one instant, she was shocked. So his family had been ruthless murderers! Then she realized he was smirking. The big, pompous jackass was making a jest of her labors. “If I could have found manacles that were in good shape I’d have locked both your legs to the wall.”
“Why stop there? Why not my hands, too?” He moved his leg to make the chain clink loudly. “Think of your satisfaction at the image of my starving, naked body chained to the cold stone—”
“Starving?” She cast a knowledgeable eye at the empty breakfast tray, then allowed her lips to curve into a sarcastic smile.
“You’d love a look at my naked body, though, wouldn’t you?” He fixed his gaze on her, and for one second she thought she saw a lick of golden flame in his light brown eyes. “Isn’t that what this is all about?”
“I beg your pardon.” She took a few steps closer to him—although she remained well out of range of his long arms. What are you talking about?”
“I spurned you, didn’t I?”
What? What What was he going on about?
“You’re a girl from my past, an insignificant debutante I ignored at some cotillion or another. I didn’t dance with you.” He stretched out on the cot, the epitome of idle relaxation. “Or I did, but I didn’t talk to you. Or I forgot to offer you a lemonade, or—”
“I don’t believe you.” She tottered to the rocking chair and sank down. “Are you saying you think this whole kidnapping was done because you, the almighty marquees of Northcliff, treated me like a wallflower?”
“It seems unlikely I treated you as a wallflower. I have better taste than that.” He cast a critical glance up and down her workaday gown, then focused on her face. “You’re not in the common way, you must know that. With the proper gown and your hair swirled up in that style you women favor—” He twirled his fingers about his head—“you would be handsome. Perhaps even lovely.”
She gripped the arms of the chair. Even his compliments sounded like insults! “We’ve never before met, my lord.”
As if she had not spoken, he continued, “but I don’t remember you, so I must have ignored you and hurt your feelings—”
“Damn!” Exploding out of the chair, she paced behind it, gripping the back hard enough to break the wood. His arrogance was amazing. Invulnerable! “Haven’t you heard a single word I’ve said to you? Are you so conceited you can’t conceive of a woman who isn’t interested in you as a suitor?”
“It’s not conceit when it’s the truth.” He sounded quite convinced.”


Christina Dodd, The Barefoot Princess
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The Barefoot Princess (Lost Princesses, #2) The Barefoot Princess by Christina Dodd
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