Ana Hughes always considered herself unlucky until the day her father announced she was to be a duchess. Saved from the shelf – and with a high title, to boot. Short of becoming a princess, there is nothing any better than that.
But this glittering gold is misleading. Ana can’t help but feel that she is nothing but a substitute to her husband.
DISCLAIMER: This book contains elements of power exchange and adult scenes. If these offend you, please do not purchase.
As they grew closer to where her husband-to-be stood, Ana’s grip on her bouquet tightened and her breaths grew shorter. Was she truly about to marry a complete stranger? One she hadn’t said a word to? One she’d never been properly introduced to? One not only feared but highly disliked for his abrasive, cold, arrogant and rude demeanor? One she’d never laid eyes on?
Her father pulled her to a stop and her lungs followed suit. She watched, numb as he took her hand from his arm and placed it in another, far larger than his own. Ana swallowed hard when that dark hand closed around her very pale one. Paler than it was before the chapel doors opened and the wedding march began. He shook her papa’s hand in a hard shake and spoke a few words to him which were returned which did not sound anything like English to her. But her mind was muddled at the moment so there was a strong possibility they were speaking English. Then her beloved papa stepped away and she couldn’t help follow him with her gaze.
The large hand tightened around hers and pulled. “Ah ah. You’re not going anywhere, Miss Hughes. You’re staying here with me.”
Ana’s head jerked up at the lethal whisper. Her eyes widened when they fell upon his hardened face. His lips twitched as if he was fighting a snarl and his eyes were filled with rage. Dear Lord she’d made a mistake!
Ana Hughes Stone
I am Ana Hughes Stone, Duchess of Kelfield.
Quite a title you have there. I’m sure it was quite exciting to learn you were to marry into a high title. How did you feel at that time?
Relief that I was finally to marry. Boastful that I was to be a Duchess, a title higher than that of my sisters or mother. The ugly duckling had scored the golden goose.
Petty but permitted considering all the bully, but, weren’t you even a little bit apprehensive.
Of course I was. The duke, my husband had quite the scandal a few years back that tarnished not only his family’s image but mine as well. I’m sure this marriage has revived old gossip.
What was the scandal about?
My aunt, Angelic… she was to marry into his family-to my husband’s uncle. The rest of the family had decided to remain mum about this but the duke… he isn’t one to be had and made a fool of. He stopped the wedding.
I’m sure that isn’t it. Are you perchance avoiding my question?
Is this perchance an interrogation? Oh very well if you must know. Angelic was… she was my husband’s mistress. She also happened to render her services to the other men in his family. She was the family whore.
You said that your husband wasn’t to be had and made a fool of, but, do you believe that is truly the reason he stopped the wedding?
(She twists her fingers on her lap) Yes, I would like to believe that is so.
You would like to believe? Your Grace, what are afraid of?
(She doesn’t speak, instead stares down at her fisted hands on her lap)
This marriage isn’t one of love but of convenience. I am afraid that i am nothing but a substitute to him. A stand in for the one he truly wants, truly loves.
(She chuckles but there is no joy in it. She looks up and her face is stained with tears)
I will say he might have married the wrong substitute-I don’t share the awed beauty that she, my mother and sisters do. But seeing as how the others were taken, he was otherwise stuck, with me.
One last question, are you happy?
You’ll just have to read the book and find out.