Title: Tira’s Education
Twelve Dancing Princesses Book Eleven
Author: Christine Young
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Book Heat Level: 4
While pursuing her dream of learning how to build ships, Tira never bargained on finding an irrevocable love and a passion for a man who could not fulfill her dreams.
BLURB: Tira's Education
WHISPERS OF EDUCATION
Learning how to build ships is Tira Hepburn's only dream until she meets Jamie Lundin and her world is turned upside down. With her raven black hair and vivid green eyes, she tempts Jamie and pushes him to defy his vows. She never bargains on finding an irrevocable love and a passion to a man who cannot fulfill her dreams despite his burning desire for her.
WHISPERS OF A BARGAIN
Proud and self-assured Jamie is brought up short when Tira captures his heart. All his carefully made plans are put to the test when he decides to teach her the art of ship building if she will spend a week with him alone on his ship. He is unable to deny Tira's intoxicating effect on him. When Tira leaves him behind unwilling to live with him without the benefit of marriage, he races after her. Jamie will risk everything to shelter and protect the innocent debutante who seduces him with her sweet love.
EXCERPT: Tira's Education
“What the devil,” Jamie mumbled after the incessant knocking woke him up from a deep sleep. “The town must be on fire...the docks, the ships.” His heart racing, he slipped on his buckskins and running his hands through his hair then racing down the stairs, opened the front door.
Tira Hepburn, what the bloody eyes was she doing at his front door at five in the morning and what was she doing aping a man? For that matter, what was she doing in Baltimore? Tira must have been the reason her cousin Aidan was inquiring about the ships coming in from London. “Can I help you?” he asked out of politeness but wishing he still lay in bed sleeping.
“I’m here to apply for the job.”
“What job?” Sleepily, he ran his hands through his hair, unable to take his gaze off the woman on his front porch wearing men’s clothing. Even dressed in that ridiculous outfit she mesmerized him. The only job he knew of was the one for an experienced ship builder.
“The one building ships.” She smiled, puffing up her chest and settling her hands seductively on her hips.
Obviously, she had no idea how the simple gestures emphasized her femininity.
If he didn’t miss his guess, she sounded indignant, but for some reason he couldn’t fathom, he didn’t want to end the conversation this instant. He had no choice though. His six-year-old daughter was asleep upstairs and needed breakfast before he could continue with this strange encounter. “Come back at eight o’clock. Not here but at the shipyard. I’ll speak with you then and not a moment before.”
“I went there to begin with but when no one answered my knock, I came to your house. I need this job.” Her voice filled with indignation.
You need this job my ass. “Come back at eight and we can discuss this civilly.” He started to close the door.
“Promise me you won’t give the job to someone else before the interview.” She smiled at him.
“Doubt if anyone in town besides you wants the job. The sign has been up for over a month. Besides, there aren’t very many skilled ship builders in town. Are you skilled?” He challenged, hoping she would back down and he wouldn’t have to be at the office at eight.
“Papa, who is it?”
“Go back to bed, honey. It’s no one you need to concern yourself with.” Yet he suddenly knew what he wanted Tira Hepburn for. She could be Annie’s nanny. He reminded himself none of the Hepburns could possibly need a job. He was eager to find out more, and the upcoming interview with Miss Tira could be enlightening. Getting to the bottom of this made the day a bit more interesting than he thought it would be. Suddenly, he was eager to start the day and discover what would come of this chance encounter.
“Papa.” Annie stood beside him, tilting her head slightly and pursing her lips.
“Who is it?” Tira shifted her position as if she was trying to see beyond his shoulders.
“She’s no concern of yours,” he told Tira a bit too harshly, his protective nature kicking in. Where Annie was concerned, he would guard her with his life and make sure nothing bad happened to her, ever.
“I’m sorry,” Tira said weakly. “I didn’t mean...”
“Of course you didn’t. Come back at eight. I’ll meet you then.” He was surprised at her smile and how that simple gesture affected him, touched his heart in a way he didn’t understand. What on earth was she doing to him?
Awkwardly, she backed away and nearly fell off the porch before she turned and headed away from the shipyard, her hips swaying provocatively as she walked. He felt a crazy urge to run after her and then what? Drag her into his arms and kiss her?
He remembered her from Drake and Ella’s wedding months ago. She’d been the first woman who found a way beneath his hardened heart since his mistress died in childbirth and left him to raise Annie on his own. Tira Hepburn was not a candidate for his mistress, a wife maybe...
Lizzy, his mistress, had never wanted to become his wife and after his first marriage, he sure as hell never wanted to be wed again, but he cared for Lizzie and mourned her loss. Before she died, he promised her he would take care of Annie and make sure she would never have to sell her body to make a living.
He was too awake now to go back to bed, so he walked Annie to her bedroom. It seemed she was awake now too.
“Would you like a big breakfast this morning?” He ruffled his daughter’s hair and delighted in her smile and laughter.
“Pancakes,” she asked, “and bacon too? Anything but oatmeal.”
“What ever you want today but don’t get used to this royal treatment. Get dressed and by the time you get down for breakfast, I should have most of it cooked. We can talk then about the rest of the day.” He loved her more than life itself.
“Who was the lady?” Annie asked.
He chuckled softly. Even his five-year-old daughter knew the person at his door was a woman, not a man. For a quick second the thought of going along with her ruse crossed his mind, but he shrugged it off. Truth was always better than lies, and if he let her work for him, he could risk her life. He wasn’t about to do that. Damian Andrews, her brother-in-law, would have his hide if he hired her. Truth be told, he was more afraid of her sister Amorica.
Annie stopped at the top of the stairs. “Are you going to get dressed before breakfast? Did you know she was staring at your chest, Papa? Why was she doing that?”
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