Her Highness My Wife

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-10-23
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Women never said no to the dashing Lord Matthew Weston and he never said no to them. But this was the first time he found one tempting enough to impetuously say "I do." Was it any wonder he awoke to discover her gone? And when Matthew learned the enchanting creature he'd married was of royal blood -- and would abandon their marriage bed without a second thought -- he vowed to put her out of his life forever.But even a princess makes mistakes. And now Tatiana's back, asking for the kind of help only he can give her. But is his assistance all she wants or are there secrets the willful royal is keeping from him? Matthew may well lend her his hand but he'll never again give her his heart. Still, he's determined to tame the green-eyed beauty and change her from a perfect princess to his passionate bride.


Her Highness, My Wife

Chapter One

Summer 1819

"Did you miss me?"

The lilting tone with its subtle accent drifted into the stables he'd rented for a workshop on the outskirts of London, and for the span of a pulse beat, Lord Matthew Weston froze.

He'd never thought to hear that voice again save perhaps in his dreams, late at night when his mind was free to remember what he refused to consider in the light of day.

It took every ounce of strength he possessed not to look up from the work before him on the rough-hewn table. After all, hadn't he rehearsed this scene in his head a hundred times? A thousand? He'd practiced the right words, the proper manner. He'd be cold, aloof, indifferent. And why not? Her reappearance in his life was of no consequence.

He hadn't counted on the blood rushing in his ears or the thud of his heart in his chest.

"I scarce noticed you were gone." His voice sounded light, disinterested. Perfect. As if she'd been gone no more than an hour or so. As if he were far too busy to notice her absence.

For a long moment she was silent. His muscles ached with the effort of not acknowledging the significance of her presence and the strain of waiting for her response.

At last her laugh echoed through the stable and rippled through his blood. "I see you are still tinkering. It's most comforting to know some things in this world do not change."

"The world is constantly changing." Matt picked up the mechanism he'd been working on and studied it, as if it were much more important to him than she was. As if he didn't care enough to so much as glance at her. But he did care. More than he'd expected. He drew a breath to steady his nerves. "Constantly evolving. Nothing stays the same."

He straightened and glanced toward the wideopen doors. She was little more than a silhouette against the bright afternoon sun. Not that he needed to see her. He knew her face as well as he knew her laugh or her touch. In spite of his best efforts, everything about her was engraved in his memory as it had once been on his heart. "Nothing at all."

She laughed again and his jaw clenched. "Come now, that is far too philosophical and entirely too serious for a summer's day. Philosophy should be reserved for long, cold winter nights when there is little more to do than comment on the state of the world around us."

"Should it?"

"Indeed it should," she said firmly and stepped farther into the stables. "Odd ... I don't remember you as being at all serious."

A teasing note rang in her voice and he was at once grateful she was not at all serious. Regardless of the countless times he'd gone over this very conversation in his head, right now he wasn't prepared to discuss serious matters. In truth, he wasn't prepared for her.

He placed the apparatus back on the table, picked up a rag and wiped the grease and grime from his hands. "I am surprised you remember me at all."

"Oh, I remember you quite well. How could I not?" She moved closer, away from the glare of the sun, and he could see her clearly now: the delicate shape of her face, the tilt of her nose and, even in the shadowed stables, the vivid green of her eyes. "Why, it has scarce been a year since we -- "

"Fifteen months, three weeks and four days," he said without thinking, surprised to realize he knew exactly how long it had been since he'd last seen her. Last kissed her.

"Yes, well, time passes far too swiftly." She trailed her fingers along the edge of his worktable and glanced at the assorted bolts and screws, odds and ends strewn across the surface. All part of his attempt to refine a device of his own design to effectively heat the air required to lift a balloon without blowing himself up in the process. "Are you still sailing the heavens?"

The phrase caught at him. Sailing the heavens was the whimsical term she'd first called his efforts at ballooning and then what they'd shared between them. It had seemed so fitting once. Not just for his work but for the way she, and she alone, had made him feel. Sailing the heavens. He pushed aside the sentiment.

"I am indeed. Even now, I am preparing for a competition of sorts. A design contest, really. I have some innovations that may prove quite profitable."

"It's dangerous, you know." She glanced up at him. "This business of flying."

"That's what makes it exciting. The risk. The gamble. It's the best part of living, knowing your very existence is at stake." Or your heart. He ignored the unbidden thought and shrugged. "The most interesting things in life have an element of danger to them."

She shook her head; her voice was somber. "A woman in Paris died just last month. Her balloon caught fire and she plunged to her death."

"Madame Blanchard. Yes, I had heard of it." He had met the lady while in Paris last year. She was the widow of a balloonist and had taken up where her husband had left off. "A pity but not surprising. She was given to aerial fireworks and furthermore employed hydrogen for her balloon. Given the flammable nature of the gas, her demise was inevitable."

"Inevitable?" Her gaze met his and concern showed in her eyes. "As is yours?"

"Are you worried about me?" He raised a skeptical brow. "It's a bit late, don't you think?"

"I would hate to see you meet the same fate."


"It would be a shame. A waste." She looked away. "I do dislike waste."

He leaned toward her, the intensity in his voice belying his slow smile. "And would you grieve for me?"

Her gaze snapped back to his and her brows pulled together indignantly. "Of course."

He laughed and straightened. "How gracious of you, considering how little regard you had for me a year ago."

"Fifteen months, three weeks and four days," she said under her breath.

Her Highness, My Wife. Copyright © by Victoria Alexander. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Her Highness, My Wife by Victoria Alexander
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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