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Melissa and the Impossible Frenchie

Author(s): Averil Ireland

Melissa found Andre impossible: he was arrogant, proud and he drove her to distraction, but she could not help her heart leaping every time she saw him.

Andre is haunted by things that Melissa can know nothing of. He knows he must return to France and rescue those he loves. He has no time for romance in his life and he particularly does not wish to be bothered with a troublesome English miss – but Melissa will not be ignored. He becomes involved with her despite his determination to stay aloof but when she forces him to take her on his dangerous mission to France, he is determined to punish her.

Melissa is falling deeply in love, but the Frenchman is impossible and he makes her want to weep. However, she will not give into her distress and is determined to fight back. Despite needing his help on several occasions, she too has her pride.

Can Andre tame the fiery Englishwoman – and can Melissa overcome the impossible Frenchie’s arrogance. Can they find happiness together at the last?

Excerpt


The sky darkened as storm clouds scuttled overhead.  It was almost dusk and the wind was rising steadily, snatching at Melissa’s cloak, whipping it away from her slender body.  Rain was driving into her face, stinging her eyes as she battled her way to her dear Clara’s cottage.

With the gathering darkness the shadows of the trees closed in around her.  Somewhere nearby an owl hooted as it swooped down on its unsuspecting prey.  Melissa shivered and quickened her pace, eager to reach the cottage of her former nurse.

Suddenly out of the shadows a huge dark shape came hurtling towards her through the trees.  She screamed, unable to move, terror holding her rooted to the ground.  Any moment she expected to be attacked by the great panting beast.  Then she heard a shrill whistle and the black dog skidded to a halt, teeth barred and a low growl issuing from his throat.

Melissa held her breath, staring at the dog nervously.  What was he waiting for?  Why hadn’t he attacked her?  Then, as she wondered what to do, a man came striding towards her from the shadows.  He was tall, powerfully built, and dressed for riding in a dark blue coat and cream breeches that fitted his strong thighs like a second skin, with a cloak with three capes thrown over his shoulders.


The stranger was clearly a man of fashion, his long dark hair whipped by the willful wind about a face that looked harsh and forbidding.  His hard, coal black eyes seemed to challenge her, accusing her of she knew not what.


“You are fortunate Duke did not attack you,” he said harshly.  “Who are you and what are you doing on private land?”

“Private land?”  Melissa faced him proudly, her green eyes bright with defiance.   “I have walked here often in the past and no one has challenged my right.”

“What is custom is not always right,” the man said. His features seemed to be carved from granite.  She sensed that her defiant defense of her right to be here had angered him – but why should that be?  This was not his land; it belonged to her friends.  She stiffened as he spoke again, “Who are you?  Tell me that, if you please.”

Melissa tossed her chestnut curls defiantly.  “Perhaps I should as well ask who you are, sir.  These woods belong to Squire Heathersett and you are not he.  I have known the family since I was a child and taken a shortcut to my home through these woods whenever I pleased.  Never before have I been threatened by a fierce dog.”  She glanced uncertainly at the dog, which had begun to growl deep in its throat once more.

The stranger gave a harsh laugh, sending shivers down her spine, for the laughter had no humor but seemed to mock her.  “Methinks you proclaim too much, mistress.  The dog did not attack you, and for that you may thank me.  I ask again for the favor of your name.”

“Melissa Davenport, sir.  I live at Stokely Hall with my uncle, Sir Richard Davenport  - and I am not used to being spoken to so rudely.” Her eyes flashed green fire as she drew herself up to her full five feet.


The stranger’s eyes held a mocking glint and his mouth twitched at the corners as though he found her amusing.  Not surprisingly, this made Melissa even angrier.

“How dare you mock me, sir?” she snapped.  “You are the trespasser here, not I.”

The man continued to stare at her, tapping his riding boot with his whip.  He did not call the dog away nor did he apologize.

Melissa’s eyes narrowed with anger.  Who was this arrogant man?

“Pray call your dog, sir, so that I may continue my journey.  I see that I can expect no apology from you.  You are obviously not a gentleman.”

Her outburst only served to make him smile even more.  “And you, Miss Davenport, are no lady.  Where is your maid?  It is hardly fitting that a young lady of your tender years should be romping through woods like a village lass.  Unless perhaps you are on some secret errand – a clandestine meeting?  Tell me, have you ventured to these woods at this hour to meet your lover?”

The tone of his voice seemed to insult her.  Melissa was enraged.  She took a thoughtless step forward, raising her hand as though she would strike that hateful sneer from his face.

“How dare you say such things to me?  If I were a man I would thrash you.”

“Down, Duke!” the stranger commanded as the dog bristled.  “She is a fiery little virago, is she not?  But methinks we shall let it pass this time.  Perhaps I misjudged you, miss, and I apologize without reserve.”  He grinned suddenly, his first genuine smile, and Melissa realized all at once that he was a man of some charm despite his harsh looks.  He swept her a mocking, laughing bow.   “I am Andre Devante and at present staying with Squire Heathersett.  Not a trespasser, you see, but an invited guest.  Duke and I had been travelling for several hours and came for a walk to take the air.  I was not expecting to meet anyone this late at night, let alone a young lady.”   His voice had lost a little of its harshness but his new manner was perhaps even more threatening.  “A lady who chooses to walk alone at night.”

The rain had ceased at last but Melissa was already feeling very damp, her fine wool gown and cape soaked through, and she wanted to be inside Clara’s cottage, safe and warm by the fire.


“Excuse me, sir, but I am turning chilly…”


“And I have been thoughtless,” Andre said.  “Forgive me.”  Before she knew what he was about, he had taken off his cloak and placed it about her shoulders.  “Come, let me take you wherever you are headed.  Where are you going – to your home?”

“I am visiting my old nurse.  Her cottage is only a short distance from here.  There is no need for you to accompany me, sir.”  She moved as if to throw off his cloak, but he forestalled her, placing his arm about her shoulders.  She wanted to protest but the determined set of his chin told her that she would be wasting her time.

“Come,” he said again.  “You are shivering.  I shall keep you warm as we walk.”

She wished he would just go away and leave her.  She did not like this man with the fierce dog and arrogant manner.  For the moment there was nothing she could do but allow him to walk with her – but she would maintain her dignity and her silence.


Melissa stopped and turned to the man as Clara’s cottage came in sight at last.  “This is the home of my dear friend,” she said.  “I must bid you farewell now, sir.”  She took off his cloak and held it out to him with a determined air.  “Thank you for seeing me safely here, though in truth I had no need of your escort.”

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 978-1-61979-358-3
Genre: Romance
Date Published: 09/22/2012
Publisher: Leap of Faith Publishing


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