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The Mistress of Windfell Manor: Windfell Manor Trilogy 1
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But Jocelyn had already availed himself of her shoulder. He leaned heavily on it, more heavily than he had intended. Moving at last, shifting his weight off his injured leg, he found that the wave of agony made a mockery of the pain hitherto. Lord Oliver was pulling his waistcoat and coat back on while Viscount Russell was packing away his pistol and came striding past Jocelyn to retrieve the other one. Her shoulder did not bow beneath his weight. She was rather tall and slender, but she was no weakling.

She was doubtless accustomed to hard manual labor. She was probably equally accustomed to cuffings and beatings for impudence. He had never heard the like from a servant girl. He was well-nigh swooning by the time he reached the blanket the surgeon had spread on the grass beneath an oak tree. I do not like the look of the positioning of that wound, I must confess. Or all the blood. I daresay the leg will need to come off. He spoke as if he were a barber who had discovered a tuft of hair that did not blend well with the rest of the head.

He was a retired army sawbones, supplied by Lord Oliver. Bloodletting and amputation were probably his answer to every physical ailment. There was a chorus of protests from his friends who had gathered around him. Ride in that. You show them what you are made of, old sport. He will have more regard for his future than to suggest sawing off my leg.

Help me to my horse, girl. And everyone will laugh at me when it is known that you contemptuously shot into the air. He was going to black out if he did not concentrate hard. I may shoot you down like the dog you are. Mounting was a daunting task and would have been quite impossible if his pride had not been at stake—and if he had not had the assistance of his silent but disapproving friend.

It amazed Jocelyn that one small wound could cause such agony. And there was worse to look forward to. The bullet was lodged in his calf. And despite his words to the surgeon, he was not quite confident that the leg could be saved.

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Well done. Tresh, old chap. You gave that old sawbones a right setdown. Jocelyn reached for one of the pockets of his coat, only to be reminded that he was still wearing just his shirt and breeches and top boots. But she had turned on her heel and was striding away over the grass, her back bristling with indignation. You would be out here tomorrow morning again for sure.

When Lord Ferdinand Dudley arrives in the village of Trellick to claim the house and estate he has won at a card game, it is May 1 and there are May Day celebrations in progress about the village green. Ferdinand cannot resist joining in the merriment, especially when he spies a particularly pretty young lady with whom to flirt. And for her part, Viola Thornhill, one of the organizers of the celebrations, is intrigued by the handsome stranger who has ridden into the village, and is not averse to a little mild flirtation.

Little do the two of them realize that the following day they will be at daggers drawn when they both lay claim to ownership of the same house. The fortune teller was already doing a brisk business. What Viola had also noticed was that the stranger had strolled over to the throwing booth, which had been popular with the young men earlier in the afternoon. He was talking with Jake Tulliver, the blacksmith, when Viola and Mr. Claypole drew near. The stranger turned his head to look at her.

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He was indeed tall, almost a full head taller than she. His eyes were almost black. They gave his handsome face a somewhat dangerous look. Viola felt her heartbeat quicken. Everyone else has won too, almost without exception. Hence the embarrassing lack of prizes to give away. I daresay the targets were set too close. We must remember that next year, Mr. She raised her eyebrows at the boast and looked at the metal candlesticks—the old set from the church vestry—which had been toppling all too readily before the ball the contestants had been hurling at them.

If you win—four out of the five must fall with just five throws, you understand—then we will return your money. It is the best we can do. Viola touched them and laughed. Claypole cleared his throat. Claypole had taken her by the elbow and was speaking earnestly into her ear. You are drawing attention to yourself. And their interest was attracting more. A number of people were hurrying across the green toward the throwing booth. The gentleman was removing his coat and rolling up his shirtsleeves.


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Jake was repositioning the candlesticks. She gestured toward them and laughed with the crowd. But the stranger, she saw, did not. He was rolling the ball in his hands, concentrating on it, and squinting ahead to the candlesticks, which now looked an impossible distance away. He could not possibly win. She doubted he could knock over even one. But one toppled over even as she was thinking it and the crowd applauded appreciatively.

Jake handed the stranger the ball again, and he concentrated on it as before. A hush fell on the gathered crowd, which had swelled even more in size. A second candlestick teetered, looked is if it were about to right itself, and fell with a clatter. At least, Viola thought, he had not totally humiliated himself. He looked more than handsome in his shirtsleeves. He looked…well, very male. She desperately wanted him to win his bet. But he had set himself a nearly impossible task.

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There was a collective moan from the crowd. Viola felt absurdly disappointed.

Did it state that one had to go down with each throw? Her eyes widened with incredulity and the crowd erupted into a roar of wild cheering as the ball hit one upright candlestick, glanced sideways off it as it fell, and demolished the fifth with a satisfying crack. The gentleman turned, bowed to his audience, and then grinned at Viola, who was clapping and laughing and realizing that this was by far the most exhilarating moment of the day.

She stood still while his fingers detached the small bunch of daisies from her hair.