Demelza prays for a miracle - is her handsome house guest the gentleman to save her family?
Demelza Tregorran is desperate to keep her brothers and sister in their ancestral home and to keep the roof above their heads. On the beach early one morning, she inadvertently pushes an autocratic stranger into the sea. She is not impressed by his manners but can't help but admire his appearance.
Dr. Lucas Fairfield is immediately attracted to Demelza and decides to use some of his unwanted inheritance to help her out of her financial difficulties. Demelza agrees to take Lucas in as a paying guest .With her friend Martha as chaperone, who can possibly object to the arrangement?
Lucas is a respectable gentleman and wealthy enough to pay her far more than necessary for his board. Demelza is a simple Cornish maid. What possible interest could such a sophisticated man have in her?
Swinging her bucket, she picked her way to the water's edge. She didn't like leaving the children unattended for too long. Although Tom and Jack would be celebrating their sixth birthday soon, they were full of mischief needed watching. Those two would soon wander off if their big sister was not there to keep an eye on them.
The best place to find shellfish was in the rock pools. The rough water didn't deter her. As she bent to move aside the seaweed, her gaze was caught by something just ahead. She straightened.
She wasn't alone as she'd thought. A gentleman was crouching over the very rock pool she was heading for.
Her bucket dropped with a clatter. She was hardly dressed for meeting company. The man, startled by the noise, stumbled backwards and fell seat first into a shallow pool.
"I beg your pardon, sir, I didn't mean to scare you..."
Periwinkle blue eyes stared at her. Despite their pretty colour, they were not friendly. "Are you going to stand there gawping, girl, or assist me to escape from this wretched water?"
Demelza bristled. He took her for a village maid, but that still gave him no right to be rude. "Are you injured?"
"Of course not. Now are you going to help me or not?"
She smiled sweetly and dipped in a mock curtsy. "Not. I have better things to do with my time, sir, than pull unpleasant gentleman from their backsides. I bid you good morning." Recovering her bucket, she skipped nimbly in the opposite direction.
"Come back here you baggage. Devil take it! " Splashing and further cursing followed her departure.
She would leave the collecting of mussels and crabs until the beach was empty; she had no wish to remain down here now. Her ears still burning, she paused halfway up the steep cliff path and looked back. The man was upright and balancing on one leg to empty the water from a boot. Even from this distance she could see he was a prodigious height, his shoulders broad and his fair—hair worn long so that it curled on his collar.
His manners were poor, but she couldn't fault his appearance. When she walked down to the village later she would discover who he was. In Tregorran, a stranger would be noted immediately. Someone would be able to tell her who he was and what he was doing in Cornwall. He obviously wasn't a customs man; from his apparel he was a man of means. She couldn't remember the last time such a person had come to Tregorran.
She shivered. Maybe she wouldn't go herself but send Serena. For some reason, she was not eager to renew her acquaintance with the formidable stranger she'd inadvertently tipped into the sea.