Desperate times call for devilish measures. When the object of one's passion has eyes for another...it's time to take matters in hand!
Lady Vesta Chambers is accustomed to getting what she wants...and what she wants is Captain Hewett DeVere...
Coddled and pampered since her mother's death, Lady Vesta Chambers is beside herself when her father goes to London to prepare for her come-out and returns with a young bride of his own. With her world turned upside down, Vesta accompanies her godmother, Diana, to town where she is smitten the moment she lays eyes on a certain captain of the Seventeenth Light Dragoons.
But when the object of her passion has eyes for another...
Captain Hewett DeVere, younger brother and heir to Viscount Ludovic "The Devil" DeVere, has returned from the American war scarred, disillusioned, and looking forward to settling down to a quiet and respectable life. But when the handsome and straight-laced captain turns his eyes toward the widowed Diana, Vesta is prepared to take devilish measures to prove just how wrong he is.
And the Devil DeVere looks after his own...
Recruiting the aid of her godfather, Vesta vows to prove to Hew once and for all that she is no longer a little girl, but a woman with the passion of...a huntress.
NOTE: Available in print as part of The Devil DeVere: Vol 1 anthology
While Vesta tried her best to keep her mare in step with Hew and Diana, she had to keep circling her mount that jigged and frothed with nervous energy. Laughing and chatting about some race Hew had once rode on Diana's horse, they seemed to hardly take any heed of Vesta at all. How dare Aunt Di monopolize him like this!
"Are you aright wi' the mare, miss?" Pratt asked her with solicitude not forthcoming from any other quarter.
"I am fine, Mister Pratt. It's just that she has been deprived of her normal gallop since leaving Yorkshire over a sennight ago. She is accustomed to frequent and vigorous exercise and can be a handful when denied."
Vesta continued to fume. Although she could handle her mare just fine, she wondered how they all would feel if some horrible accident befell her. They would both be sorry then!
That's it! Vesta couldn't believe the answer was right before her eyes. It only wanted the proper timing and a distraction for Pratt. Determined to put her plan into action, Vesta held back, letting the others ride farther ahead. When Pratt's head was turned, she saw her chance.
Whispering a prayer of supplication to her mama, her ever-diligent guardian angel, Vesta plucked out her hat pin and tossed the riding cap to the ground. "Oh dear, Mister Pratt," she exclaimed. "I've lost my favorite hat!"
"Ne'er fret, my lady," the elder jockey said, dropping to the ground with surprising agility. In that precious, desperate moment when he knelt to retrieve the hat, Vesta dropped her reins and spurred her mare.
Artemis, who never needed strong incentive to begin with, took off down Rotten Row like a bolt of dappled-gray lightning. Vesta hung over her mare's neck, clutching the mane as if fearing for her very life, but all the while whispering sweet endearments to her most cooperative conspirator. She knew it would be a mistake to look back. Instead, she urged and cooed and waited for the sound of thunder, for her knight in that lovely, crimson crested helmet to come to her rescue and prayed fervently that her savior would not be the grizzled, little Pratt.
When she saw Captain Hew's big bay stallion gaining on the right, Vesta once more thanked her watchful mama. Knowing he would try to grab the bridle to bring her horse to a halt, Vesta nudged the mare, urging more speed, with the cue of her left heel concealed by her voluminous and billowing petticoats. Her hair had fallen in a wind-whipped tangle about her face and neck. She felt the flush in her cheeks and her blood roaring with excitement. It was the most gloriously wild ride she'd ever had, and it was all she could do not to laugh aloud!
"Can you reach the reins," Captain Hew cried, coming upon her.
"No. I'm afraid!" Vesta whimpered.
They approached the entrance to Kensington Gardens with its myriad hedgerows. "Hell and the devil!" he exclaimed, surging forth, but still unable to claim the bridle. "Trust me, Vesta," he commanded. "Let go of the horse!"
Trust him? He was a god among mortals. She would trust him if he said she could fly! And that's exactly what she felt when he swept her off her horse and onto his own. Throwing her arms about him, Vesta burrowed into his neck and simply breathed in the heavenly essence of Captain Hewett DeVere.