ago, Alex, a second son, had planned a life together with Lady Patience.
However, when Patience was betrothed to his brother, the heir, Alex left his
family’s estate and joined the military.Alex returns to assume the title Duke of Bedford when his brother unexpectedly
dies. He is unprepared for both his new responsibilities and the reunion with
Patience. The horrors of war are a heavy burden, and when he learns that
Patience never married his brother, he is stunned.Patience withstood the bullying of her fiancé and her father for four long
years. She refuses to marry Alex just because he’s the duke, especially if he
no longer loves her. How would that be better than what she has already
endured? Promises made in their youth are not enough to overcome the changes
life has wrought for them but love can grow and transform, if only Patience
could believe that.
Dragging his thoughts back to the present, he walked from the church graveyard where all the Dukes of Bedford were buried in the family mausoleum, to the Abbey, his boots making a sucking sound in the mud.
He stopped on the stone pathway and studied the building. It looked exactly as it had all his life, and for generations before that. He, however, had changed significantly from the angry, brokenhearted young man who had left. War had carved him into a bitter, bedeviled-by-ghosts man. No softness remained from that addlepated young man in love.
Precisely how he liked it.
Patience, otherwise known as the Duchess of Bedford, would be holding court for the mourners who had come to comfort her on the death of her husband. Since he’d had no contact with his family in the four years he’d been gone, he had no idea if she and Cyrus had children. Of course, there wasn’t a son, or Alex would not have been summoned home to take up his duties as the new Duke of Bedford.
He snorted. One could only hope the pater was spinning in his grave as the prodigal son returned to assume the title he’d held so dear. He no more desired to be the duke than his father would have wanted him to be.
His thoughts returned to the Duchess of Bedford. It seemed nothing had changed since he left. Under the law, as his brother’s widow, Patience was just as off-limits to him as she had been as Cyrus’s betrothed. Of course, he had no reason to believe he still felt the same about her as he had four years ago. That Alex was dead, and he had the vile memories and dark dreams to prove it.
Before he could reach for the front door latch, the door opened. A new butler, unknown to him, stood there, stiff as a board. “Welcome home, Your Grace.”
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