Rescued By a Lady's Love (Lords of Honor, #3)(126)

By: Christi Caldwell

The butler drew them to a stop beside a not unfamiliar parlor.

His palms moistened inside his gloves. For even having been healed, there was still regret that moved beyond his own past sufferings.

“The Duke and Duchess of Blackthorne.” The butler stepped aside and backed from the room.

The flawlessly golden Marquess and Marchioness of St. Cyr stared back. At one time, their united perfection would have grated. It would have served as a reminder of the marks upon his person and his aloneness in the world.

No longer. A small smile pulled at his lips.

Christian stood, stoically silent, then his wife, Lady St. Cyr smiled back. “It is so, so lovely to see you again, Your Grace,” she said with a warmth that met her eyes.

Why would she be so kind? To him? Why, when he’d brought her family nothing but pain? Sketching a rusty bow, Derek spoke in hushed tones. “It is an honor, my lady.” The pall of silence descended and he returned his attention to an immobile Christian. The other man’s face set in a mask gave no hint of his thoughts or emotions. There are so many words I owe him. So many apologies he’s deserving of; useless words that can never right the wrongs I’ve done. “Christian,” his voice emerged garbled. Unable to meet the directness of the other man’s gaze, he glanced down a moment at the head of his new cane; the gold-filled handle, stamped with lilies at his niece’s insistence, represented everything light. Gone was the serpent meant to represent darkness. This new one served a functionality; a sturdiness that represented his and Lily’s future, a joyous one with Flora in it. His throat worked as he looked to his wife’s still flat tummy. A family that would see additional life added to their fold in seven months’ time.

He searched for words.

Lily gave the fingers of his other hand a slight squeeze; an assurance that she was here, that she would always be there, and he found strength in her. In them. Warmth filled his heart and shoving aside his reservations, Derek drew back his hand and limped over to his friend. He held a palm up. “I am so very sorry, Christian.” For everything: for their shattered innocence, for the horrors that would always be with them, for shutting him out, and lamenting his deserved happiness. “I—”

“Do not say another word,” Christian said, his voice hoarse and Derek’s palm wavered.

The mask slipped and a spasm of emotion contorted Christian’s face. He placed his hand in Derek’s. “There is nothing to forgive. There never was.” The muscles of his throat bobbed. “Oh, how I have missed you, friend.”

“And I you,” Derek said, his voice hoarse. A calming peace filled him. There would never be a full freedom from the hell that would forever haunt his nightmares, but there was forgiveness.

There was a healing found in Flora’s effervescent spirit, his friend’s forgiveness, and in his wife’s love.

Derek closed his eye.

After eight long years, he was at last, home.

The End

Coming April 1st, 2016

Lords of Honor Book 4

Tempted By a Lady’s Smile

For first glimpse of the cover, blurb, and excerpt for “Tempted By a Lady’s Smile” and the May 2016, “Heart of a Duke” release, visit or sign-up for my newsletter.