Redeeming Miss Marcotte
Redeeming Miss Marcotte
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She wants him back. He'll have anyone but her.
- Second Chance
Mercy Marcotte doesn't deserve a second chance at love. At least, that's what she's believed since jilting Solomon Kennett, the man she loved, when his fortunes took a turn for the worse. But Solomon is back from the West Indies, rich, aloof, and about to offer for Mercy's best friend. Mercy resolves to stay out of it—until her friend runs off with another man. She can't stand by while Solomon is humiliated yet again.
Whatever the past, Solomon Kennett is taking control of the future. He is certain he will get what he wants now that he has proven himself worthy of consideration by even the most fastidious of fathers. When the woman he is supposed to propose to is kidnapped by another man, he feels honor-bound to go after them—only to be followed by Mercy, the woman who spurned him years ago. With end goals, loyalties, and history at odds for all involved, nothing is as it seems. The last thing anyone needs is a love potion to further entangle things. Skeptical in the highest degree and determined not to surrender control to his heart, Solomon finds himself wondering if there isn't perhaps something to the potion after all.
Redeeming Miss Marcotte is a sweet Regency romance inspired by Shakespeare's timeless classic A Midsummer Night's Dream.
Intro to Chapter 1
Intro to Chapter 1
Mercy Marcotte couldn’t bring herself to look Solomon Kennett in the eye, instead training her gaze on the branches of the weeping willow which flowed with the light summer breeze. “I cannot marry you, Solomon.”
His hold on her hands slackened. “What?”
Mercy’s insides writhed wretchedly. But surely he would understand? In the blink of an eye, everything had changed, and her entire future—the one she had hardly been able to believe would be hers just a few days ago—had been pulled from under her.
“Don’t do this, Mercy,” he said, the pain etched into each word. He tightened his grip on her hands again, and she could feel his energy and a hint of desperation in the gesture. “I swear to you that I will do whatever it takes to make a name and a fortune for myself again. I will not let you go wanting. We can postpone the wedding until the ground is more steady under my feet.”
She wavered. This had been so much easier when she had practiced it in her head. But in her head, Solomon had merely listened to her, and she had been so persuasive that he hadn’t been able to help agreeing with her.
She reminded herself what her mother and father had said. “You may as well go live with Aunt Mary’s family—may she rest in peace—if you are to marry a man in Mr. Kennett’s position.” Mercy had never met Aunt Mary or her family, but she had grown up hearing their names spoken with pity—particularly upon Aunt Mary’s death. She knew she had a cousin of similar age— Viola, apparently—but the Marcottes and the Pawnces may as well have lived in different worlds for the width of social gap between them. Was that what Mercy wanted for her own future family?
Solomon put a hand to her cheek, and his intent gaze forced her reluctant eyes to his. “Mercy,” he said. A lock of his hair grazed his forehead with a flurry of wind. “You are young enough still that you cannot possibly know how long I have searched for exactly this—what you and I have together.” He brushed a thumb along her cheek, his head slowly shaking from side to side. “It is unique.” His voice pleaded with her.
She would have agreed with him just three days ago. She’d had no desire then to see what else there was in the world—she had been perfectly content with the future before her, by the side of the man she loved.
But the loss of an entire fortune was no small thing. And though it pained her deeply to hurt Solomon when the loss was no fault of his own, she saw no reasonable alternative.
Had his father known what havoc he was wreaking when he staked what remained of the Kennett fortune? Or was he simply so selfish, so completely unable to control his propensity for gambling that it had never even occurred to him?
She shut her eyes, her brows knitting together, then shook her head ever-so-slightly.
His hand dropped from her cheek, and something shifted in his manner—a stiffness appearing. “I see. You cannot bring yourself to trust me enough to lay your worries at my feet. Do I have your family to thank for this sudden change?”
How was he laying the blame at her door, or her family’s? She was not responsible for the situation in which they found themselves. She had wanted their future together as much as he did.
But the future they agreed to when they became engaged...it no longer existed. And Mercy had to believe that there was still a bright future for her, much as she wished it could have been with Solomon.
“I cannot deny that my parents encouraged me toward this decision—they want what is best for me, of course! But it is nothing against you, Solomon.” She reached for his hand.
He turned away, rubbing at his chin harshly.
“It is not personal.” Her voice sounded small and pathetic even to her.
“Not personal? We are engaged, Mercy—set to tie ourselves to one another for the rest of our days. How can you claim that this is not personal?”
The accusation in his tone raised her hackles, making her feel defensive and misunderstood. “What do you want from me?” she said. “It is not as if I were enjoying this—it is not what I wanted.”
“Then don’t do it!”
She stared at him, her breath coming quickly. Why must he make it so difficult? It wasn’t fair for him to ask such a thing of her.
“Come with me—stay by my side.” He didn’t reach for her hand this time; he merely entreated her with his soft, brown eyes. “Join me in the West Indies, and let me prove myself to you.”
Her eyes widened. “The West Indies?”
His brows knit. “Did you think I had no plan to make back the fortune my father lost? That I would leave it entirely to chance? Or force you to live in penury indefinitely? I have some money left, Mercy. And I am confident that I can multiply it with hard work and determination.” He smiled hesitantly. “It will be an adventure.”
Adventure? That was his plan for regaining his fortune? It was hardly better than the gambling that had lost the fortune in the first place.
No, adventure was not at all what she had envisioned for their future together. She had imagined security and comfort—sitting in the parlor of their country house, holding hands while she read a book and he the newspaper, growing old together and leaving their children with that same security and comfort.
The West Indies were hot and humid, and she had heard of too many men dying there while making their fortunes.
The image struck cold fear into her heart.
“I must protect my future,” she said almost to herself, feeling a bit more confident in her position. She looked up at him and lifted her shoulders, swallowing. “Even if that future is with someone else.”
The thought felt wrong to her, but surely that was natural? It was difficult to imagine someone she could love as well as Solomon, but she had known many women who had fallen in love more than once. It likely wouldn’t feel real until it happened—until she found that gentleman. But when she did? She was confident that she would be grateful she had not settled for less.
Solomon studied her quietly until she shifted under his gaze.
“Don’t look at me in that way,” Mercy said, and the words came out angry.
“In what way?”
“As though I repulsed you.” She fiddled with the finger of her glove. “How can you ask me to continue on as if nothing were different?”
He took another step backward, and it cut her—the increased distance between them, and the way it portended a more stark separation. And still his eyes looked upon her with reproach.
“In marriage, a husband agrees to stay by his wife and a wife by her husband through whatever fortune—good or bad—life brings them.”
“Yes,” Mercy said with a bite to her voice, “but normally the bad fortune is a distant possibility rather than an overpowering certainty—the very stage upon which the marriage is set.”
He looked grave and shook his head. “Perhaps this is for the best after all. I must say—I thought better of you than this, Mercy.” He exhaled. “I wish you the best in your quest for happiness, even if I think you have mistaken where it is to be found. May you find the man...deserving of your fleeting affections.”
He looked at her one more time, then turned, leaving her under the shade of the willow tree, eyes burning and heart throbbing, wondering if she would ever see him again.