To Make You Mine

One slight mistake in her calculations throws Grace into the arms of the very dark and dangerous Sebastian Blackwood, a man recently returned to London. He is in need of a wife in order to smooth his transition back into society and Grace makes for the perfect sacrifice when the two end up alone. Having lost her freedom, Grace swears that she will never belong to him and despises the man. But what happens when his touch turns gentle and she sees a longing in his eyes that could never be faked?

What exactly does Sebastian mean when he claims 'I'll make you mine. Just as I promised then.' Should she trust him when he speaks so kindly to her or is he simply playing her in order to obtain an obedient wife who'll warm his bed at night. What can she do when logic tells her she can' trust him, but her heart begins to react?

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4. Chapter Four


Grace felt the tension floating in the room so thickly that you could cut it with a knife. The three of them were sitting at the dining table ‘enjoying’ a quiet meal. Too quiet...Annabelle and Grace were used to exchanging conversation while they ate together, but neither dared speak around present company. The Earl was seated at the head of the table with Grace on his right, Anna on his left and he seemed content to maintain the silence for the time being. She held back a sigh as she looked to her sister, happy that at least her appetite wasn’t affected by all this.

Grace took another bite of her own meal and felt herself naturally relax. The veal was delicious and cooked so tender that it melted on her tongue. She unconsciously let her eyes drift close and hummed in appreciation. A soft chuckle snapped them back open and she looked over to see Sebastian watching her out of the corner of his eye as he took a sip of wine. Her mood soured once more and she turned her eyes back to her plate, refusing to rise to the amusement she had caught in his eye.

“Are you enjoying the meal Miss Annabelle?” He asked suddenly, making the girl jump as she looked up from her plate. Her green eyes flicked to Grace first then back to the Earl, who was patiently waiting for her response. She bowed her head demurely and in a soft voice answered,

“It is very appetizing my lord. You have a very talented chef on staff.”

Sebastian snorted, almost like he was suppressing a laugh.

“I’m happy that you are satisfied with it and he will be over the moon to hear such praise. He does always complain that I have no sophistication when it comes to the culinary world.” He chuckled again, either oblivious or ignoring the wide-eyed looks he was receiving. The sisters exchanged confused looks, both disbelieving the man had anything resembling a sense of humor. It didn’t fit with the outward appearance. His gaze then turned to Grace and she stiffened as a ghost of a smile touched his lips.

“Grace-”

“Excuse me Cap-Lord Sebastian.” The sudden interruption prevented him from finishing his sentence. A tall man came into the dining hall, dressed as one of the staff. Grace was starting to see a pattern in the people he kept in service, as none seemed to have originated inside society. This man was powerfully built with broad arms and looked even taller than Sebastian. He came closer to the table and bowed his head to the two ladies quickly before holding out a folded missive to Sebastian. He took the message and quickly scanned it, a slight frown forming between his brows before he crumpled the note and rose from his seat.

“Forgive me ladies, but some sudden business has risen that I can’t put off. I had hoped to indulge in a quiet night with you to help ease your transition so I beg your pardon for the interruption. I will bid you both good evening now...Grace…” He turned to her as he said her name, stepping around the corner of the table and leaning towards her. She felt her cheeks flare as his intention became instantly readable. He didn’t flinch as she glared sharply in warning, smiling and placing one finger under her chin tilting it up.

“Won’t my lovely wife send me off with a quick kiss so that this night isn’t completely ruined?” He whispered, but she was sure that Anna could still hear as her green eyes widened and her cheeks turned a soft pink. Grace knit her brows together, but knew that because of the deal she had made that she couldn’t refuse. Not if she wanted to sleep alone tonight. She grit her teeth and lifted herself up just enough to brush her lips along his. It was fleeting and brief, but she couldn’t bring herself to do more with others in the room with them.

“Hmm...I’ll accept it this time as you are still unused to my touch.” He whispered, this time so low that only she could hear. He left them then, followed close behind by the servant that had delivered the late night message. She dropped her head in shame, unable to meet Anna’s incredulous eyes, knowing that her sister would be full of questions. Her appetite had fled as well, leaving a heavy feeling in the pit of her stomach. It was only made worse by the fact that the place where their lips had met was still tingling and sensitive. There had to be a way to prevent her body from reacting to even the smallest touch from that man!

“Sister...What-What was-”

“Not tonight Anna...I’m just too tired to explain it all right now…” Grace whispered, refusing to lift her head as exhaustion began to settle within her bones. She hadn’t been lying when she said she was tired and the last week seemed to catch up to her in a matter of minutes.

“Let’s retire Grace. I’ll make sure that our apologies are sent for skipping dessert.” Annabelle said, her voice coaxing and exactly what Grace needed in that moment. She nodded silently and they both made to rise, two footmen stepping forward to help pull out their chairs. Grace took note of them, adding to the list of people in the home whose names she would have to inquire after. She had always prided herself on remembering each member’s name in her own household and these people weren’t to blame for her uprooting. Both gentlemen were similar in build and more in the style of normal footmen. Slim physique, gentle eyes and nothing that stood out as dangerous like the last man that had entered. So was it only some that were misplaced in the house or was there more to these two men than she could perceive?

She said goodnight to Annabelle, receiving a quick, encouraging hug from her sister before they parted. Grace stepped into her chambers to find a ladies handmaid waiting for her. The young woman was efficient in her work, helping Grace into a scented bath and setting about disentangling her thick locks while the hot water did wonders. She sighed and ducked further into the tub, wanting to melt into the steaming liquid so she wouldn’t have to worry about anything else. The maid left her alone to relax as she picked out a nightgown and took the laundry off to be cleaned.

“So this is my new room…” Grace mumbled to the empty room, looking around with a feeling of melancholy. There was nothing wrong with it. The peach walls were cute and feminine as expected, while the furniture was light and modeled to appease a woman’s tastes. No...There was nothing wrong with the room itself, but the atmosphere was not hers. She felt like an intruder in a place that was meant for someone else. While her own home was waiting for her to return, wondering why she had abandoned it so suddenly.

There was also one thing out of place that put her even further on edge. A door set off to the right side of her large, canopy bed. She didn’t need to ask to know where it led. This was clearly the Countess Northridge’s chambers so naturally there would be a connecting door to the lord’s room. She wondered if there was a way to block the door, but knew that was impossible. It would seem like an admittance to her weakness and inability to avoid the man residing on the other side. For the time being she would have to trust his word about leaving her be until she consented. With a sharp groan she slid down until only her eyes were above the water’s rim as a more depressing thought snaked through her mind, bringing tears to her eyes.

‘This is my life now.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sebastian was growing more frustrated and irritated as the minutes passed in his study. He looked over the reports again with a calculating mind, already figuring a strategy around this new problem. He sighed and set the parchment aside before pulling a new page and his ink towards him. As the wheels turned in his head, he wished that he could just turn his back on all this nonsense. He hated being on land, it wasn’t where he belonged.

“Still at it eh?”

He looked up as Aiden came in without knocking, something only he was permitted to do, even now. Sebastian nodded in greeting and then went back to writing his orders down.

“We can’t lose another shipment like this again. Luckily it was only some spices, but if they get ahold of one of those ships, I’ll be out much more than a few crowns.” Sebastian said, sharing his thoughts with his first mate. Aiden may be younger than Sebastian’s thirty-two by nearly a decade, but the lad had a sharp wit and level head that Sebastian heavily relied on.

“They were most likely some old pirates we’ve run into, knowing the high merch we move.” Aiden said as he reached for the report that Sebastian had just set aside. He nodded at the man’s suggestion, having thought the same thing as well.

“The next shipment of gems is set to embark in two weeks. We have until then to think of an alternate route that only our crazy crew would be willing to take.” He said as he stood up to retrieve one of the volumes filled with sea charts. He opened it, flipping through pages as he turned and walked back towards his desk. His eye happened to flick up to catch Aiden watching him critically. He knew that the man was waiting for acknowledgement before voicing his question.

“What?”

“Not that it matters Cap...but why are you here right now?” Aiden asked and although Sebastian knew exactly what he was referring to, he still pretended otherwise.

“Because this is the study and where I always conduct this kind of business.” He said and Aiden took the hint to drop the subject. At least directly.

“It’s gonna be weird having a couple ladies in the house now. Should make things a lot livelier though…” He said, watching Sebastian for a reaction. He knew he was being watched, but made sure to keep his focus on the book in his hands. Still Aiden pressed on,

“Wish you had warned me beforehand. I was very surprised to find what beauties they both were. I assumed that Lady Grace would be beautiful, but I never thought her little sister would also be so cute.”

“Aiden, I warned you once today.” Sebastian growled, feeling the corner of his left eye twitch, something that happened when his temper was pricked. Aiden held up his hands in defense and grinned.

“I said I’ll behave, but neither are here right now to hear. This is just between me and my captain. A man whom has never shown much interest in women beyond the brief pleasure they could provide, and only when necessary. I never thought you would get shackled so quickly after returning.”

“It was the easiest way to step back into society. At least enough that it won’t affect my work or the connections my title comes with.”

“Mhm...See, that’s what you're saying, but I know you better Sebastian. We’ve been together for what, five years now? I’ve seen every side of you that there is to show. And I’ve never seen you look at anyone the way you did at Grace today.” Aiden whispered, his voice having lost the earlier teasing.

“I was only being courteous to my new wife. Minding her sensibilities at being in a strange environment.” Sebastian said calmly, not lying entirely. He was worried about Grace adjusting to things smoothly, which is what had led to the deal between them.

“Still...I’m left to wonder if maybe there is more to the story than one can easily read.” Aiden prodded and Sebastian was once more reminded of how intuitive his first mate was.

“It’s not a story you would be interested in…” Sebastian whispered, but knew that his words had still been caught because Aiden tried once more.

“I doubt anything involving your past is boring or uninteresting. Especially if it involves that beautiful woman who put that longing in your-”

Sebastian’s eye twitch further while his good eye narrowed sharply, he turned his full attention on his companion and shut his book loudly. Aiden didn’t jump at the sound, but the sudden wariness in his gaze showed that he knew he had stepped too far.

“Stand down Aiden. This is one topic that I will not be discussing with you.” Sebastian ordered, taking on his normal persona of fearsome sea captain. It was one that fit well and came naturally to someone like him after much practice. Aiden bowed his head in acknowledgement and remained silent for the rest of the time they sat together, only commenting on their current business. When Sebastian finished his plans and wrote out his correspondence he had one more thing to add.

“What’s between Grace and I will remain exactly that. I don’t want to hear a word whispered among the staff or I’ll get rid of the lot of you.”

“Understood. I can’t guarantee there won’t be some gossip amongst the men because they are intrigued by the new Lady Northridge...but I will make sure nothing else beyond innocent curiosity is spoken.” Aiden said, bowing respectfully as he took the orders. Sebastian accepted that, knowing that he couldn’t keep them from saying anything. He just didn’t want something to reach Grace and make her more skittish than she already was. It wouldn’t do for his plans to fall apart because of some busybodies and their idle talk.

He spent a few more hours alone in his study, going over his accounts in order to figure out what he had lost and where he could make up the difference. His brother had always handled the books, while he had handled the dangerous job of getting the goods where they belonged. It was a better suited job for him and Alexander had never pushed him to come back home beyond a short resting period. He sighed as he leaned back against his seat and stared up at the high ceiling. He was so used to seeing a lamp swinging overhead, but now it was nothing but shadows cast by the candles set about the study and the glow of the fireplace.

Having done enough for the night he left his study behind and made his way towards his chambers. Taking in the dark corridors while listening to the dull thud his boots made on the carpet and realizing how uncomfortable he felt being trapped here. It was still too early to expect things to settle within his mind, but he felt completely out of place. This was not his environment and the surroundings were still unfamiliar to him. And in his world, unfamiliar meant dangerous. He was sure that when he had moved about that ballroom he had looked like a caged creature eyeing everyone that came near as a possible threat.

 He had hated every second of it and felt like he was on display for society to pick apart. He sighed deeply and reached up to remove the patch covering his left eye, something he only did when alone. The soft leather had been apart of his attire for the last twenty-four years of his life. He remembered the day it had been handed to him and how the servant had been unable to look him in the eyes. At first it had been to save face with those associated with his family, and then he used it to intimidate those he encountered later in life. He sighed and set it next to the small washbin so he would be able to easily find it in the morning.

He slowly began to disrobe, but as his tunic slid over his head, he heard a soft sound that made him pause. His ears had always been sensitive to the softest of sounds and had only sharpened as he learned to rely on them more than his impaired vision. He waited, wondering if he would hear it again, but only silence followed. Right away he knew what had caused the sound. It was Grace. She must have sighed in her sleep as she rolled over. His eyes remained on the barrier for several seconds before he forced himself to turn away. There was no need to rush things when it would all fall into place as he planned. She was spirited, he would give his wife that. Sebastian had known exactly what he was bringing home, but he was also confident in his ability to tame the willful woman.

That thought made him grin as he finished preparing for bed. Grace would definitely become his by the end of their game, no matter what she may think otherwise. His fingers reached up to brush the scar over his left eyelid and he let his mind wander to that fateful day. He glanced over at the door that hid his prize from him and grinned,

“Just wait Grace...I always keep my promises.”

 

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