She’s the mistress of illusion; How can he trust her lessons on love?
Lady Olivia Malcolm Hargreaves is a viscountess, a widow, a governess, the adopted mother of a disabled toddler—but above all else, she is a survivor. When the father of the young children she’s been caring for arrives on Christmas Eve, drunk and ranting, his aura and her own sad experience tell her he’s dangerous.
Heart hardened after the murder of his beloved wife, Simon Blair is an industrialist who has no use for another psychic Malcolm. His late wife’s weird family is more than enough interference. But his twin daughters are talking to their mother’s ghost, his son and heir is floating objects that shouldn’t float, and he’s beleaguered by aristocrats who refuse to acknowledge his plebeian existence.
When Simon learns that Lady Olivia is in a position to help him obtain the land he needs for his business, and she recognizes that by helping him, she might regain the home she’s lost, they must fight their respective prejudices and forge an uneasy alliance. It might take a ghost, an army of children, and a criminal gang to force them to recognize that they want far more than real estate.
Simon unsteadily grabbed the door frame. He normally held his whisky well, but to his jaded eyes, he’d walked into Dante’s hell. Illuminated in a pagan circle of light from candles burning in an evergreen branch, his children—his lovely innocent bairns—were playing with the devil’s toys. Enoch without using his hands, naturally, but the twins. . . they were so young that they were barely talking! And now they were witches?
He’d known the governess who had taken his children to this remote outpost was a Malcolm. The duke who owned this blamed monstrous castle was a Malcolm, for all that mattered. Simon’s late wife had been a prescient Malcolm—and she’d died for it. If he never saw another Malcolm again. . .
The governess was another blond, blue-eyed witch like Letitia. Agony rendered him helpless. He wasn’t blotto enough to let his wince show.
The children squealed, shouted, tipped their chairs over, and gratifyingly dashed to his arms. They hadn’t forgotten him. Stooping to claim them, Simon toppled back on his bum. They crawled on his legs, up his arms, and he simply fell backward rather than risk dropping them by standing.
“Children, allow your father to right himself, please, presuming he is able to do so.” The crisp, precise tones bit like nasty midges.
“I am capable of doing so,” he responded roughly, not trying to match her accents but imitating them anyway. “But it is more pleasant to play with puppies on the floor.”
“It is past their bedtimes. I have kept them up in hopes you might arrive as promised.” Scorn and disapproval laced every word out of the prim and proper teacher’s mouth. “Even their nursemaid has gone to celebrate the night of Christ’s birth.”
And the governess had chosen to celebrate with candles and evergreens and probably a burning cauldron, aye, right. Malcolms were descendants of druids, and this was a pagan ritual if he ever saw one.
“I don’t believe the drunken carousal below stairs can be called worship. I had to beat on the kitchen door to gain entrance.” He loved his children, but he was tired, soaked, and furious enough to take umbrage at a mere governess’s disapproval.
“Will you be here in the morning?” the governess asked in tones of ice. “They have gifts for you, and it would be a disappointment if you disappeared before they woke.”
He’d have punched a bloke who spoke to him like that. Curbing his notorious temper, Simon attempted the courtesy his poor ol’ mam had beat into him. “I’ll be taking them with me when I leave in the morn. You’re free to sleep late and go back to your infernal school whenever you choose.”
She froze. Her eyes formed shards of blue ice. “We will speak of that after the children are in bed.”
“Or what? You’ll hex me?” He marched off, thinking he should be wearing his dirk and guarding his back.