A Gamble Worth Taking
By Wendy Stone
Forced into betrothal to relieve a gambling debt, beautiful Lara is reluctant to fall for Matthew Trent's charms. As she succumbs to passion, darker otherworldly forces threaten their future. Is it worth risk to anger restless spirits?
Contains scenes of severe violence
The rough wooden door splintered under the pounding of her fists, gashing her flesh. Pain radiated up her arms but was forgotten instantly as Lara kept beating at the door, praying that someone, anyone, would come and free her from this place.
Someone, or anyone but him.
Matthew Trent, Fourth Duke of Marshalling, was the reason she was behind these doors, locked in a chamber high in the tower of his castle. He was the reason she was trapped here, unable to escape, unable to leave this place of horrors. She was to be forced into marriage, the contract having been signed and validated by powerful people, leaving her no recourse but to be brought to this place.
It was her father's fault. If not for his stubborn refusal to quit the life of a debauched gambler and the debts that he had acquired, she would not be here now, a prisoner of the worst rogues that court had ever seen. Lord Matthew had a penchant for seducing young virgins and leaving them, soiled and spoiled, to be rushed into quickly contracted marriages. He drank and gambled, but, unlike her father, Lord Matthew had a way with a wager, never leaving a table as a loser.
His prowess with both women and cards was legendary, as was his skill with the sword and pistol.
He had come to their home, a small, modest manor very unlike the huge castle that was his own residence He'd come to retrieve what he was owed by her father. Money that they did not have and had no way of acquiring, for her father's friends and family had cut them off without a cent. With his high hat and starched cravat, deep claret-colored coat and fawn-colored breeches, Lord Matthew had been the epitome of the dashing young lord.
In this instance, the clothes didn't make the man, though they did frame well what the good Lord had blessed him with. Black hair, rich and thick, curled past his shoulders, clubbed back and tied with a black ribbon. High cheekbones under taut skin, and a thin, aristocratic nose that sat above lips that were just a trifle too wide. Ebony brows slashed across a wide forehead, and thickly lashed eyes that were a piercing shade of green seemed to see all with barely a glance.
He'd been shown into their parlor by their one servant, a woman who'd been with them since before Lara's mother's death ten years before. She'd taken over raising Lara and her little sister Kathleen, as her father had lost interest in his daughters with the death of his beloved wife. The servant, Mary, was too old to go and find a new post and stayed with the family despite the fact that she hadn't been paid in years.
If Lara had only known, she would have stayed in her room that day instead of investigating the raised voice of her father. The curse of curiosity had been stamped on her early in life, always leading her down the path of trouble, and that day was no different.