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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2. Chapter Two


Grace was up earlier than usual the next morning. She was already preparing herself for the arrival of her ‘fiance’ and the things they would discuss. Of course, he had no way of knowing the woman waiting for him. She knew all too well what would happen if she didn’t interfere. Her father would happily sell her off the first chance he got, so she had to speak with Lord Sebastian before her father did. She doubted he wanted to marry this way either. Despite his appearance, he was still a Earl and could have his pick of young, available women. Grace was positive that after hearing her proposal he would easily agree and be on his way.

“Miss, there is a gentleman come to call.” Her butler Jacob announced, watching her carefully as she paced about the sitting room. She nodded, silently letting him know to show the man to her and to prepare tea. She had a close relationship with the entire household and they had learned to interpret her silent commands long ago. Just one more reason she wasn’t able to leave at the drop of a hat. She stopped pacing and smoothed her hands down her morning gown, smoothing down the soft, pink material and arranging her skirts into their proper place.

She raised her head when Jacob announced the Earl and the man strode into the sitting room. She was still taken with how imposing he was and how he had an air of intimidation that probably never dropped from around him. He was once more dressed in all black, but she noticed that this time he had forgone the cravat all together and his hair was only tied back with a leather thong. She bit back the snort at his improper dress, but decided it wasn’t worth pointing out because he wouldn’t be there long and it wasn’t her place to speak out. After all, she wasn’t going to be marrying this man.

“Good morning sir.” She said calmly and dipped into a proper curtsy. He bowed to her, but didn’t return the greeting and she felt her eye twitch at his conduct. She reminded herself of her intentions and took a deep breath, waiting until Jacob had left to fetch the tea to speak again. She gave him a polite smile and gestured towards the settee.

“Please have a seat my lord. My servant will return with tea shortly and there is much we have to talk about.” She said, watching for any response her later words may withdraw from the man. But he disappointed her by simply nodding and taking the offered seat, waiting until she sat before sinking into the cushions. Grace was seated across from him, her hands folded gently in her lap as she ran through her words carefully, needing this meeting to go well. Jacob returned at that moment and set the tea tray on the small table between them, bowing when Grace dismissed him with a soft smile and another nod.

She took her time pouring them each a cup of tea, glancing at him through her lowered lashes. He never once took his eye off of her, watching her just as closely as she was him. Grace wondered if he was also thinking of some strategy to get out of the predicament they had landed in. If so, this would all play out that much smoother.

“I hope you like the tea my lord, it is-” She started to say as she handed over the cup, but he quickly took it from her and sat it back on the table, catching her retreating hand and cutting off her words.

“Let’s not play games right now. You know why I am here so there is no need for you to force yourself to play the perfect hostess.” He said and her smile fell, her eyes sharpened as she snatched back her hand.

“Very well then.” She said in a clipped tone and straightened further. Since he wanted them to be straightforward, she saw no reason to beat around the bush any longer.

“If that is what you want then let me make myself clear right now. I will not be marrying you my lord.” She said, waiting for the relief to appear on his face. He surprised her once more when his lips lifted in a genuine smile and he chuckled.

“Really? I was unaware that you had a choice in this matter.” He said and she puffed up in anger at the condescending tone he used. Her hands fisted against her skirts and she glared harder at him.

“Of course I do. I have no wish to marry a man whom I don’t love and I’m sure you are not looking to get shackled so soon after returning to London.”

“Actually my dear, that is exactly why I am here.” He said, leaning back and crossing one leg over the other. She watched the movements and noted how graceful he seemed, every move a calculation on his part, perfectly in his control. She swallowed and continued,

“In any case...I’m sure you do not want a wife such as me. I am far beyond the marrying age and you could easily have a much younger and more docile woman as your bride.” She countered and watched as amusement lit his eye as his smirk remained in place.

“I would like to once more disagree with you Grace. You are still very young and quite beautiful. Any man would happily have you as his bride...Of course they’ll never get the chance as you will be marrying me.”

Her eyes widened at the definitive tone he used and flushed as he pierced her with a look that ordered her to obey. But she had more steele in her than that. She returned his challenging look with one of her own.

“No. I will not. I have too many duties here to just leave with a perfect stranger. What happened last night was unfortunate and an oversight on my part. I have never had a favoring opinion towards marriage and I doubt it will change anytime soon.”

“I understand my dear, but your reputation is still in jeopardy of being ruined if we do not marry soon.” He said, voicing the opinion of the rest of society as was expected.

“It is not my reputation that concerns me…” She said and took in a deep breath, preparing for the speech she had been reciting all morning. She fixed him with a cold look as she explained her position.

“I don’t care what people say about me. They have been tittering behind their fans all my life and it would not make any difference if they continued to...But...but I can’t let the same thing happen to Annabelle.” She whispered and lowered her gaze as she thought of her sister.

“I know that if we don’t marry then Anna’s marriage prospects will lessen and she will be shunned by most of society. I have tried to protect her from the more cruel side of life and would hate for one little mistake I made to affect her future.

“I know that you are trying to make amends for last night my lord and I appreciate the effort. I know that despite what you’ve said...No man would really want me as their wife and that suits me just as well. However, if you truly wish to apologize for what happened, then I ask that you help me protect my sister.”

As she spoke she continued to bow her head to him. It was a calculated move, one designed to make her appear weaker and vulnerable. She needed to play on her feminine whims in this case, provoking his male instincts that secretly wanted to protect someone in her position...Considering he had any.

“What is it you want me to do?” He asked and she felt him lean closer. Grace made sure to hide the tiny smirk that played across her lips as he reacted exactly as she expected.

“If we announce our engagement it will buy some time. During that period I can double my efforts to find Anna a proper suitor. I know she is still young, but if I can find a decent man who can look after her then I will change my position on her marrying right now. Once she is guaranteed a secure and happy life then we can call off the engagement. You can even claim that you were unsatisfied with me as a potential bride.” She said, proud that she had managed to get her plan out while also maintaining her demure appearance. No doubt he would be thinking this over and realizing that he was getting the better end.

If they called off the engagement then her reputation would once more be ruined, but at least Anna would be safe from scrutiny. She would be protected by her own husband and would still be able to move about society, even if she received a few snubs from the higher members of the ton. Grace was already waiting for the day that she wouldn’t have to put on a mask for society. She had a few close friends to keep the shadows of loneliness from swallowing her, so she could forego the company of those that not so secretly judged her.

“No.”

The sharp word made her head snap up, her eyes widening as she watched him slowly rise from his seat. Her mouth fell open, but no words came out as he straightened his stance and bowed his head to her.

“If you’ll excuse me now, I need to speak with your father to discuss the details of this union.” He said calmly and turned to leave. Grace panicked and shot to her feet, racing after him and catching his arm to stop him.

“Wait! You can’t-” She started to say, but he turned suddenly and she shrieked. The arm she had grabbed, lifted up to the side of her neck and the other encircled her waist, drawing her up against him as he had last night. And just as it was then, her body reacted at the man’s proximity.

“Yes I can. And I will. That was very admirable my dear, a very decent attempt at manipulating me to your whims. But you made one slight miscalculation…” He whispered and drew her closer, pressing his hips against hers and she shivered slightly. She wished she could say it was in revulsion, but the pleasant thrum of her blood dissuaded that illusion. He leaned closer and she thought he was going to kiss her so she turned her head to the side, but he kept going until his lips were alongside her ear.

“I knew exactly what I was doing last night when I kissed you. How could I waste such a perfect opportunity to obtain a lovely bride without the hassle of a courtship.” His soft words made her heart skip. Of course. He would have seen the group approaching them and that’s why he had suddenly attacked her. She should have cried out last night against the lies instead of believing she could shift everything in her favor.

He pulled back, giving her a sharp stare as his grey eye bore into hers. She swallowed and wanted to look away, but felt an unnatural urge to hold his gaze. The arm at her waist tightened and the color of his eye darkened.

“Besides...Now that I know just who my bride is...I’m not going to willingly give her up.” He whispered low, his voice laced with some hidden emotion. However, Grace only paid attention to the words spoken and all the heat her body had felt before fled in an instant as she regained her senses from before he touched her. Her eyes hardened to gemstones as she glared at him and violently pushed against his chest, falling back from him. Although, he had probably just allowed her to retreat, since he seemed strong enough to hold her prisoner as long as he wished. She was right about him, he was the same as every other man who targeted the Preston sisters. He wanted that pretty penny that their dowry could bring him with marriage. He watched her silently fume for a few minutes, then bowed his head and turned his back to her once more.

“Your father is waiting for me.”

“I won’t forgive you if you take me from my sister!” She hissed, her emotions overflowing and spilling out before she could stop the words. She gasped softly, sealing her lips tightly as she watched him halt in his retreat. But he remained facing away from her and the two stood in a deafening silence, neither speaking right away. Finally his soft voice broke through as he left the study,

“So be it.”

She cursed after him and paced about the room, just resisting the urge to shatter a vase in her frustration. She wouldn’t stand for this! She was not some possession that could just be traded by men without her say. There was no doubt that her father would see no issue in her finally marrying and would be pleased that anyone would take her. Grace snorted and placed a hand to her forehead as she thought her father probably wouldn’t even question the man’s appearance. He would say what all of society would,

‘You should be happy that a man with such a prestigious title would have you.’ As if she was spoiled goods that didn’t deserve such attention. She groaned and sank back onto the cushions of a winged chair facing the fireplace. What was she supposed to do now? All she could in this moment was wait for the call from her father and hope that she could persuade him against this lunacy. And even though the two had yet to speak since last night, she really couldn’t just abandon Annabelle like this. Who would watch out for the girl if Grace wasn’t around? As she sat alone in the silence she rebuilt her determination to prevent all of this from happening. She wasn’t going to wait listlessly for the rest of the world to decide her life.

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

The summon came almost immediately after the Earl had departed, which she had been informed of as well. Grace stood outside of her father’s study and took a deep breath, steeling herself before lifting a hand to knock softly on the oak door. She waited until her father’s stoic response bid her entry. Her eyes drifted around the room, taking in the stale air and dust milling in corners as the cleaning staff rarely had a chance to enter in order to perform their duties. The Viscount rarely left this room, even taking his meals and working late into the night.

“Hello Grace. Thank you for coming quickly.” He stated and she ground her teeth at the formality in his speech. You would think he was talking to a business associate and not his daughter...No...He even spoke to them kinder than he did his children.

“Father.” She whispered and moved closer to the desk he sat behind. His head was bent to her, not even meeting her eyes as she entered. While he continued to work silently, Grace took the time to observe the elusive parent that had avoided contact with her for the past sixteen years. His hair had lost its luster, having dulled from lack of care and age. The grey was slowly seeping into the threads, signalling her father’s advanced years. Her eyes shifted down to the part of his face that she could still see and felt a small stab at the crow’s feet lining his face along his eyes. He was no longer a man in his youth and she mourned the time they had missed and would never reclaim. Especially if he shipped her off with some stranger.

“Please sit Grace. I have something to discuss with you.” He said, still not lifting his gaze so she could see if his violet eyes held any of the light they used to. She sighed softly and clasped her hands before her.

“If it’s all the same father, I will remain standing.” She said and watched as the quill ceased its scratching momentarily before quickly resuming its course. He didn’t respond to her comment beyond that and it pained her how much of a shell he had become.

“Suit yourself. I suppose you know in any case why I’ve called you here. The Earl of Northridge has made an offer for you and I have accepted it.”

“Father-”

“It is about time you settle down and start running a household of your own.” He continued, ignoring her attempt at an interruption. She gritted her teeth and mumbled,

“I already run a house, this one.”

“Also, considering the...events of last night, a hasty ceremony is best. So I expect you to be packed up and ready to move into the Earl’s estate by the end of the week. That is all.” He said, flippantly dismissing her as if she were a retainer of his. Her cheeks flushed in mortification and her hands shook with how hard she was clenching them. She took in a deep breath through her nose and slowly released it past her lips, then fixed her father’s head with a cold glare.

“No.”

Once more the quill stilled, but his eyes didn’t meet hers and it only fueled her anger further.

“Pardon?”

“No. I will not be marrying the Earl at any given time.” She stated, her tone leaving no question to her growing temper. Grace mentally screamed at her father to react! For him to match her anger and show that there was still life beyond this room for him, but he disappointed her once more.

“Don’t be ridiculous. It is already decided and I will hear no more. This family can not afford a scandal.”

“You mean you can’t afford it!” She shouted, losing her grasp on everything as tears pricked the corners of her eyes. She shook as she tried to hold back the dark emotions swirling inside her.

“Just say it! You're happy to be rid of me! Finally, you can sell off your eldest daughter and next will be poor Anna’s turn!”

“Grace.” Her father’s voice was laced with warning, but she had lost all ability to care. She reached up in an attempt to stop the tears leaking down her cheeks as she continued to lash out at him.

“Do you even care who takes us away or will you send Anna off with the first man to ask as well? I have to believe so. If you’ll trade me to a man like him, then what will you do my sister!?”

“Grace!” He bellowed, finally giving a real reaction as he shot to his feet and she met his flaming eyes. Only mildly happy to see the violet orbs had not dulled completely, or at least in this moment they looked that way. She  stepped up to the desk and crowded closer to the man behind it, her fiery temper letting loose as she aimed to hurt him as he had her.

“What will you do to the girl that looks like mom’s shadow?”

The sharp crack echoed in the otherwise silent room and Grace stumbled back, covering her stinging cheek as she matched the icy glare of the man that sired her. For that’s all he was at this point, no longer a father that could offer anything to her. He seemed to recover control over himself immediately as the fire left his eyes and he sank back into his seat, his head once more bowed to her.

“We are done discussing this. You are set to marry Lord Blackwood at the end of the week and I expect you to obey.” He whispered and she bit back a sob.

“I won’t leave Anna.” She hissed, preparing to fight him until she was empty of breath if she had to. He grunted and picked up his quill, but the response was not the one she had expected.

“You’re right in this case.”

“W-What?” She stammered, completely lost by the meaning of those words. He raised his gaze just enough that he could peek at her through the tips of his hair.

“The Earl expressed his concern with separating the two of you. Clearly he understands how close the two of you are and that Annabelle is without a proper chaperone if you are absent.”

“I-I...I don’t understand...What does that-”

“He has graciously allowed your sister a place in his home as a personal guest...Now I suggest that you two begin packing so you’ll be ready by the end of the week.” He said, dismissing her with such cold finality that it would have hurt more if her mind weren’t racing in circles about another man.

“I won’t forgive you if you take me from my sister!”

“So be it.”

She had thought he meant that he didn’t care if she hated him. But had he actually been acknowledging her wishes and informing her that he would handle it? Her confusion followed her out of the study and into her chambers where she curled up on top of her coverlet.

A vision of the man...her soon-to-be husband, formed in her mind and she wondered just who he was. This moment of empathy didn’t fit with the portrayal she had begun to paint him with. He had seemed so cold before when they were alone, talking about taking her as a wife because of her wealth...But...was that how he really felt? Had he chosen her because of her family name or because she just happened to be there when the opportunity arose as he also suggested? That seemed closer to the truth, but at the same time there was nagging in the back of her mind that didn’t believe it was that easy. She sighed, wondering if she asked him would he even speak the truth? A small headache began to develop as she continued to dwell on the topic without gaining any insight.

She rolled over to her side and looked around her chambers. She had grown up inside this home and in a matter of days she would have to say goodbye. Goodbye to the wonderful people that had helped her cope with the loss of her mother and all the wonderful memories trapped within the walls. Her throat burned as she forced back the tears threatening to spill from her eyes. Because of the whims of one man, she was about to lose everything that she had built for herself. She had always believed that she could stay here, preserving the memory of the woman that had treasured this place and everyone in it. Although it was childish and pointless, Grace felt like she would be letting her mother down if she didn’t stay.
Her sorrow quickly transformed into frustration though when she was once more reminded that this was all being brought on by one selfish man, and it wasn’t her father. Even if he had shown a small amount of kindness in his accepting Annabelle into his home, he was still very much a cold bastard who did what he damned well pleased. Lord Sebastian was going to wish that he had taken her offer and found himself a more gentile wife. For he would never find that in Grace.

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