Pearla Montgomery is nursing a broken heart. She was set to marry the Duke of Huntly only to have her wedding halted before they finished saying their I do’s. Her intended’s presumed dead wife interrupted the nuptials. In order to get away from the scandal she flees London. She meets a man that she could possibly give her heart to, but is afraid of letting anyone in. Running away starts to become a habit she can’t break.
Damian, Conte Leone falls in love with Pearla the moment he meets her. Even if they met under the worst circumstances. Unfortunately for him he is the brother of the woman who interrupted Pearla’s wedding. A little detail the love of his life can’t seem to forget. Even if he has to chase her to the end of the world and back he will not give up on her. Damian sets out to win her heart and nothing will stand in his way.
They have many obstacles to overcome, but the biggest is Pearla’s own fears. Can Damian convince her to let him into her heart and trust he will keep it safe always?
A small groan filled the silence. Perhaps she should check on her cabinmate. Who knows what they did to the poor soul. Pearla knelt down beside them. She rolled him over onto his back. Sunlight spilled across his face and she sucked in a breath. He had an angry knot swelling across his forehead, but everything else about him was perfect. He had inky black hair that curled around his shoulder. His face was almost too pretty to be considered handsome. She brushed back his hair to get a better look at his injuries. He moaned with her ministrations. His eyes flew open and she once again got the breath knocked out of her. His eyes were so beautiful. They were a silver gray that sparkled in the sunlight.
“Who are you?”
“I should be asking you the same. Why would Captain Blythe toss you in a cabin with me and lock the door?” Pearla shook her head. “What did you do to anger him?”
More importantly what had she done to deserve such ill treatment?
“I had the audacity to disagree with his boss’s treatment of my sister.” His eyes narrowed. “What did you do to anger him?”
She chewed on her bottom lip. “I don’t have any idea.”
“What is your name?” he asked.
She shook her head. “You first.”
He chuckled and then winced with pain. His hand flew to his forehead. “Fair enough. But have pity on me. I have one bloody hell of a headache.”
A smile twitched on her face. “I reserve the right to make life as difficult as possible sir. I do not know you.”
“I think I like you.” A cocky smile filled his face. “I am Damian Leone or Conte Leone if you prefer formality.” He lifted his hand and traced his fingers across her cheek. “If I get a choice I’d have you call me Damian.”
She raised an eyebrow. “Just Damian?”
“Yes. I have a feeling you and I are going to be spending a lot of time together.”
Pearla frowned. “I hope not.”
“Does my company displease you that much?”
No, how was she to explain it had nothing to do with him. This whole mess was not his fault at all. He was quite charming and beautiful to behold. She would have been entranced with him under other circumstances…
“It has nothing to do with you. I have to get out of this cabin.”
“I hate to tell you,” he paused and sat up, “but we are not getting out of this room for some time. The ship is already sailing out of the harbor.”
Pearla cursed and stood up. She headed over to the porthole and looked outside. The blasted man was right. They were already well on their way out of the harbor. How long had she been in the cabin before they tossed him inside with her? It didn’t matter. They were stuck together. She’d just have to make the best of it.
“Come cara and tell me how you found yourself in the company of such disreputable ruffians as those in the employ of Paolo, the Duca d’Sordillo.”
“Who?” Pearla sat down on the bunk and huffed out a breath. “I’m not familiar with that name.”
“No?” Damian frowned. “That doesn’t make sense. Why would they stick you with me? Tell me your story maybe I can figure it out once I have all the information. Why are you on this ship?”
“It’s kind of a long story.”
How to explain her failed wedding to a stranger… It wasn’t something Pearla looked forward to. She didn’t even want to think about it let alone put voice to it.
“I have nothing but time cara.” He waved his hand toward the porthole. “I think it’s accurate to assume we will be confined to each other’s company for the foreseeable future.”
“Quit saying that,” she demanded.
“What?” he asked, confused.
“I am not your darling.”
“Ah” His lips tilted into one of his half cocky smiles. “You have yet to tell me your name. What else am I to call you?”
Why did he have to have a valid point? More importantly why did she still refuse to tell him her name? Maybe it was the fantasy of it. There was a certain romanticism to it all. Instead of telling him her name she told him her story. This was exactly what she needed upon further reflection. A stranger was much easier to talk to then friends. Gemma had meant well but she could see the pity mixed with concern in her eyes.
“Today was supposed to be my wedding day,” she began. When she finished a loud whistle filled the room and then he cursed more colorfully than she had.
“Bloody hell you’re Miss Pearla Montgomery.” He scrubbed his hands over his face. “It all makes sense now.”
“Well I’m glad you understand what is going on.” She crossed her arms across her chest and glared at him. “I sure don’t. I’m as confused as ever.”
Like how the hell did he know who she was? She hadn’t mentioned names. All she told him was her fiancé’s presumed dead wife interrupted her wedding. The desire to leave England had made her jump on the first ship available. Had rumors spread that fast already?
His next words made her heart almost stop.
“Rubina is my sister.”
She had the worst luck of anyone alive. Only she would have the misfortune of being stuck in a room with the brother of the woman who’d ruined her life. Someone out there truly hated her…