Eternity by Jude Deveraux - Romance>Romantic Literature
Carrie Montgomery had grown up with seven adoring older brothers, and she was used to getting her way rather easily. Joshua Greene was only looking for a hardworking, practical mail-order bride to help with the farm and feed and clothe his children. Yet from the moment Carrie saw his photograph, saw his devastatingly handsome, sorrowful smile, the petite and pampered beauty knew she was the perfect wife for him.
Josh didn't see it that way. Wed by proxy, he refused to be charmed by his new bride's blond curls and effervescent laughter, or impressed by her trappings of wealth...even if his son and daughter believed she was a fairy princess come to life. He was furious -- and ready to send her packing, until a near tragedy convinced him that her beauty was more than skin-deep. But even after he had yielded to the wild desire that surged between them, Josh could not admit how much he truly needed her. Then an old scandal threatened to re-emerge, and he realized that he could lose her forever....
As Jamie Montgomery walked through the long house, he didn't so much as glance about him, for he had grown up in the house and knew it well. Had anyone else seen the cozy comfort of the house, they would not have guessed the wealth of the family that owned it. Only an art student would have been aware of the significance of the signatures on the paintings that hung from the plaster walls, or of the names on the bronze statues, and only a connoisseur would have recognized the value of the carpets that were worn and stained from years of use by dogs and children.
The furniture had not been selected for its worth but for the needs of a family that had occupied the house for a couple of hundred years. An antiquarian would have seen that the old cabinet against one wall was actually Queen Anne, the little gold chairs were Russian Imperialist, and the porcelains in the cabinet in the corner were Chinese and too old for the comprehension of the young American mind.
The house was filled with pictures and furniture and fabrics from all over the world, the accumulated haul of generations of Montgomery men and women's travels. There were souvenirs from every corner of the globe, ranging from exotic items from the tiny islands of the world to paintings by Italian masters.
Walking swiftly, with a long-legged stride, Jamie went from one room of the enormous house to the other. Twice he patted the little flannel sack that was carefully tucked under his arm, smiling each time he touched it.
At last he came to a door and, with only a soft knock that wasn't meant to be heard, he entered the darkened bedroom. For all that the rest of the house wore a tattered opulence, this room showed every cent of the Montgomery wealth.
Even in the dark, he could see the gleam of the silk bed hangings, draping the huge, four-poster bed that had been carved in Venice, the bedposts fairly dripping with carved and gilded angels. From the top of the bed hung hundreds of yards of pale blue silk, and the walls of the room were upholstered with a darker blue damask that had been woven in Italy and brought back to America on a Montgomery ship.
Looking down at the bed, Jamie smiled, for he could see a blonde head just above the silk-covered, down-filled coverlet. He walked to the windows, threw back the heavy velvet curtains to let sunlight into the room, then watched as the head snuggled deeper into the covers.
Smiling, he went to the bed and looked down at its occupant, but all he could see was one golden curl clinging to the sheet; the rest of her had disappeared beneath the covers.
Lifting the bag from under his arm, Jamie opened the drawstring and withdrew a tiny dog that weighed no more than eight pounds; what body it had could hardly be seen for the long, silky white hair that covered it. The dog was a Maltese, and he'd brought it all the way from China as a gift for his baby sister.
Slowly lifting the coverlet, Jamie put the little dog in the bed with his sister, then grinning in anticipation, he took a chair and watched as the animal began to move about and lick its bedmate.
Slowly, and with great reluctance, Carrie came awake. She always hated to leave the warm cocoon of her bed and put it off as long as she could. Now, she moved a bit, her eyes still closed as she flung the covers down about her shoulders. At the first lick of the little dog, she smiled, then smiled again at the second lick. Only at the tiny bark did she open her eyes, looked into the face of the creature, then sat up, startled, her hand to her throat. Leaning back against the headboard, a carved angel's wing tip poking her in the back,...