The Mischievous Bride
Author:Teresa McCarthy

The Mischievous Bride By Teresa McCarthy




-Book 4- 


The Clearbrooks



"Oh, you think I am a child, but I'm not. I'm fourteen and going to be fifteen next month."


His lips curved into a mischievous grin. "Indeed. Well, little ballerina, when you are out, may I ask you for a dance?"


Her eyes narrowed. He was making fun of her. "Indeed not! You are too stuffy, by far. Why, you are nothing like your brother at all. He is everything that is proper." She brushed past him and heard him chuckle.


"Good-bye, my little ballerina. I will be looking forward to that dance in a few years."


Before he could say another word, she ran into the hall and disappeared.


She could still smell the spicy cologne he wore and wished she were four years older! But Lord Marcus Clearbrook thought her a . . . a child! How horrid!


Minutes later, she found herself gazing out the tall windows of her beautiful bedchamber, feeling a bit low. Lord Marcus Clearbrook was a gentleman, the brother of a duke, and very handsome indeed.


She threw her hands to her cheeks. How long had he been watching her? Had he seen her kissing her invisible prince? Or talking to thin air?


Well, it didn’t matter what the man thought of her. She was almost his equal. Even though she did not have a lord for a papa, her father was one of the richest men in England! Not very many people in the country could match Papa’s wealth, not even Lord Marcus’s brother, the Duke of Elbourne himself!


Milli stared at the high ceilings and frowned. But money didn’t seem enough for Papa. He wanted his girls to have husbands with titles. Lord Stephen Clearbrook didn’t have riches, but he did have a title, and that’s all Papa wanted. But what about love?


Papa didn’t understand. She wanted to love her husband and have her husband love her. And Lizzie should have the same choice too.


Lizzie. She suspected her sister was already falling in love with Lord Stephen, which made their engagement very agreeable indeed.


As for Stephen’s brother, Marcus, my goodness, Milli thought. She wasn’t falling in love with him! No, indeed! She was in love with him!


Though Lord Marcus had seemed to be laughing at her, he would eventually discover she was no mere youngster. She was a woman fully grown. Well, almost.


She chewed her bottom lip and spread her small hands against her gown. In a year or two, a girl could grow five inches, could she not?


Her heart gave a skip when she recalled those beautiful silver eyes. She would have to act like a woman now and curb her impulsiveness, especially if she wanted to marry the man. He didn’t seem like a person who did anything rash. He was perfect.


A dizzy feeling filled her head.


The handsome lord didn’t know it yet, but she would be his.


She clasped her hands together and smiled. She would prove to Lord Marcus that she was a woman of mystery. A woman of character. A woman every man in London would want to marry.


A warm glow spread through her. Oh, yes, Lord Marcus would yearn for her love! There would be duels and sword fights! Walks in Hyde Park! Rides in the country! And kisses in the moonlight! And dances! With his arms wrapped around her, as if he would never let her go!


She frowned, fingering the ribbon on her gown that encircled her ribcage. Oh, how she wished she were like Lizzie! Her sister was tall, and smart, and had curves where females were supposed to have curves. Lizzie always planned ahead and was hardly ever impulsive, except for maybe that one time when her sister had jumped out the window to elope with Mr. Fennington.


Milli giggled when she thought about that night. It had been a stupid thing for Lizzie to do. It was something Milli would have done, not prim and proper Elizabeth Shelby!


Milli tugged at a stray chestnut curl beside her cheek. With a dramatic sigh, she leaned forward and stared out the window into the gardens. She would have to make a few changes of course. She would have to transform her looks and find the best modiste in London. Moreover, she would have to look a tad older to catch Marcus’s eye.


She groaned, recalling his amused expression.


“At least he didn’t call you an imp,” she mumbled.


Maybe he thought her charming. Maybe even attractive? Hmmm, maybe even sweet?


Not pretty like his sister Lady Emily. Not voluptuous like Lizzie. But sweet?


She bristled. Confound it! She had no wish to be sweet like a piece of candy. She wanted him to want her like a man wanted a woman.


She heard voices outside and dropped her gaze. He was there, beneath the oak tree, talking to a servant! Her body tingled at the very sight of him.


The sun peeked through the clouds, and she pressed her hand against the glass separating them. “I’m going to marry you, Lord Marcus,” she whispered, her eyes locking on his shiny black hair. “You may think I am a child. But in a few years, I will be all grown up, and you won’t be laughing at me then.”