Short Fiction Inspired by the Characters from
The School for Heiresses Series
This exciting collection features “An April Fool’s Forbidden Affair,” Sabrina Jeffries’ delightful historical romance short story which is loosely tied to the School for Heiresses series by Charles Godwin’s radical newspaper, The London Monitor.
Widower Mason Brandt, the Earl of Westville, has been neglecting his duties to his late wife’s sister, Augusta, and brother, Lionel, for one reason only: he’s attracted to Augusta. And that’s forbidden in England–a man may not marry his deceased wife’s sister without going abroad and risking a scandal. But when Lionel engages in an April Fool’s prank of epic proportions, threatening to create an entirely different sort of scandal, Mason and Augusta must step in to save the day . . . and in the process, become April Fools for each other.
Augusta’s breath caught in her throat. Mason had called her sweetheart. Did she dare hope he meant anything by it?
Her heart did a little skip. Which was utterly ludicrous. Mason was too sensible to take up with his deceased wife’s sister. The world considered such unions immoral and scandalous.
Yet she didn’t care. The very idea of being with him built a sweet pressure in her chest that made it increasingly hard for her to breathe.
“Everything’s ready,” said a voice from the doorway, and she forgot to breathe entirely.
Because Mason was back. And he’d never looked so cursedly appealing—chestnut hair tousled by the March winds, cheeks flushed from his exertions, and eyes the silver of moonbeams in the early morning light. Not to mention—
“Where’s your coat?” she asked.
“My tenant’s butler is repairing it. I caught the sleeve on a nail when I fell off the ladder, and ripped it right down to the cuff, along with my shirt.”
“Fell off the ladder! Are you mad?” Her heart in her throat, she rushed over to him. “Why didn’t you let the footmen hang the black crape? You could have broken your neck!”
“Nonsense. I only fell far enough to bruise my pride.” He smiled indulgently at her, a smile that grew strained as she examined his arms. “And the footmen are all busy preparing for the hordes. I figured they could use the help.”
She was so relieved to find no matching gash in the skin beneath his ruined shirt sleeve that it took a moment for her to realize he was staring down at her with what could only be called hunger.
Then a bleak expression crossed his face, and he walked swiftly past her to the window overlooking the street.
Perhaps she’d imagined the that look of hunger. And really, it was disloyal of her to even imagine such a thing. She’d loved her bright and laughing sister, after all, even if Esther had been a flibbertigibbet. She shouldn’t be coveting her sister’s husband.
Still, Esther’s last words to her had been, Take care of Mason, my dear. And how better to do so than to love him as much as Esther had?
Not that she had a choice. She couldn’t stop herself from loving him, worrying about him. Wanting him. She was truly a wicked woman.