Stranger in My Arms by Lisa Kleypas

  “Will it get as big as Sir Ralph's?” he asked, naming a stout gentleman of their acquaintance.

  Lara couldn't hold back a laugh. “Good Lord, I hope not.”

  His face turned sober. “Will you still love me after the baby comes, Mama?”

  Smiling with perfect happiness, Lara knelt and put her arms around his slim, straight body. “Oh, yes,” she murmured, hugging him hard. “Always, Johnny.”

  In the early evening, Hunter arrived from an errand in Market Hill and found Lara just as she finished changing for dinner. He came to her and pressed a quick, hard kiss on her lips.

  “I have them,” he replied in response to her questioning glance.

  Lara smiled, smoothing his lapels with her fingertips. “I thought you might have forgotten what we planned for tonight.”

  Hunter shook his head. “I've thought about it all day.”

  “Shall we have dinner first?” she asked softly.

  “I'm not hungry. Are you?”


  He caught her small hand in his and pulled her along with him. “Then let's go.”

  He took her to the outskirts of Market Hill, driving a curricle with a matched pair of chestnuts. They reached a small stone church tucked in a grove of small trees near the rectory. The quaint little building, with its thatched roof and round Saxon tower topped with a belfry, looked like something out of a fairy tale.

  Lara smiled in anticipation as Hunter swung her down from the vehicle. He used a carriage lantern to light their way along a small path, and held Lara's elbow lightly, guiding her across the uneven stones. They entered the quiet church, and Lara surveyed the interior as Hunter lit a pair of candles by the altar. A simple wooden cross on one wall and a circular stained-glass window were the building's only adornments, save for the carving on the sides of the four pews.

  “It's perfect,” Lara said.

  Hunter shot her a skeptical glance. “Lara, I wish…”

  “This is more than enough,” she interrupted, her face glowing in the candlelight. “We don't need an elaborate church, or a congregation, or a minister to hold a proper ceremony.”

  “You deserve so much more,” he grumbled.

  “Come here.” She stood by the altar and waited, her lips curved with a smile.

  Hunter approached her and reached in his pocket, extracting a tiny velvet pouch. Gently he shook the contents into his hand. Lara's breath caught as she beheld the geminal ring, two gold bands fitting together into one. “It's lovely,” she said, watching as he deftly twisted the bands apart and set them on the altar.

  Moved by the sweet serenity of their surroundings, Lara bent her head and prayed silently, her heart filled with hope and joy. She looked up to find Hunter's bright dark gaze on her.

  “Whatever amount of time I have with you,” he said huskily, “it's not enough.”

  Wordlessly she held out her hand, and Hunter took it in a solid clasp. He held it for a moment, then picked up a gold band and slid it onto her finger. “I promise,” he said slowly, staring into her eyes, “to give you my whole self, body and soul…to take care of you…to respect and honor you…and most of all to love you until the day I die…and even after that.” He paused and added with a flare of tender laughter in his eyes, “And I won't complain about all your charitable projects…as long as you remember to spare some time for me.”

  Lara's hand trembled a little as she slid the other band onto his finger. “I promise to be your helpmate, friend, and lover,” she said softly. “I promise to give you all my love and trust, and build a life with you…and help you to forget about the past and cherish each day we have together.”

  “And you'll give me children,” he said, placing a gentle hand over her stomach.

  “Ten,” she said ambitiously, making him laugh.

  “Now I see your plan. You'll keep me in bed all the time, laboring to produce them.”

  “Complaining?” Lara asked.

  He grinned and pulled her close in an ardent hug. “God, no. I'm just thinking…” He took her mouth in a string of passionate kisses. “We'd better…start practicing.”

  Her hands slid around his head, and they kissed lavishly until they were both breathless.

  “Tell me your name,” Lara whispered. “Your real one.”

  She had asked him many times before, and as always, he refused. “No, my curious cat,” he said softly, stroking her hair. “That man doesn't exist anymore.”

  “Tell me,” she demanded, and tugged at the front of his coat.

  He broke her imperious grip by tickling her, making her collapse against his chest with a giggle. “Never,” he said.

  Lara wrapped her arms around his neck. “I'll make you tell me someday, you realize,” she informed him, pressing her lips to a sensitive spot on his throat and making him shiver suddenly. “You haven't the slightest hope of resisting me.”

  “Not the slightest,” he agreed huskily, bending over her mouth once again.

  About the Author

  Lisa Kleypas is the author of nineteen historical romance novels that have been published in twelve languages. In 1985, she was named Miss Massachusetts and competed in the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City. After graduating from Wellesley College with a political science degree, she published her first novel at age twenty-one. Her books have appeared on bestseller lists such as the New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and WaldenBooks. Lisa is married and has two children.

  Please visit her at www.

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  “Delightfully engaging, brimming with intense emotions and hilarious moments, Because You're Mine is a sizzling tale, a non-stop read that will lift your spirits and warm your heart.”

  Romantic Times

  “Vibrant characters, stormy conflict and passionate love scenes make this a satisfyingly romantic read.”

  Publishers Weekly

  “Fine writing, fine plot, encore!”

  Atlanta Journal

  “Written so well, with characters so endearing, that you feel a tug at your heart.”

  Oakland Press (Mi)

  “This seductive and provocative story will heat up those already hot summer nights with its passion and emotional intensity…a book to cherish.”



  “Lushly romantic and deftly characterized…a delicious treat for romance readers.”

  Mary Jo Putney

  “A delightful love story…with touches of humor and pathos to win readers' hearts.”

  Romantic Times

  “Breathless love scenes and emotion…will enchant Ms. Kleypas's fans and win her many more. This book is definitely not one to miss.”


  By Lisa Kleypas

  Secrets of a Summer Night Again The Magic • Worth Any Price Lady Sophia’s Lover • Only in Your Arms Only With Your Love • When Strangers Marry Suddenly You • Where Dreams Begin Someone to Watch Over Me Stranger in My Arms • Because You’re Mine Somewhere I’ll Find You Prince of Dreams • Midnight Angel Dreaming of You • Then Came You

  And the Anthologies

  Where’s My Hero?

  Three Weddings and a Kiss


  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  STRANGER IN MY ARMS. Copyright © 1998 by Lisa Kleypas. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. By payment of the required fees, you have been granted the non-exclusive, non-transferable right to access and read the text of this e-book on-screen. No part of this text may be reproduced, t
ransmitted, down-loaded, decompiled, reverse engineered, or stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval system, in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of HarperCollins e-books.

  ePub edition January 2005 ISBN 9780061752957

  About the Publisher


  HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty. Ltd.

  25 Ryde Road (PO Box 321)

  Pymble, NSW 2073, Australia


  HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

  55 Avenue Road, Suite 2900

  Toronto, ON, M5R, 3L2, Canada

  New Zealand

  HarperCollinsPublishers (New Zealand) Limited

  P.O. Box 1

  Auckland, New Zealand

  United Kingdom

  HarperCollins Publishers Ltd.

  77-85 Fulham Palace Road

  London, W6 8JB, UK

  United States

  HarperCollins Publishers Inc.

  10 East 53rd Street

  New York, NY 10022



  Lisa Kleypas, Stranger in My Arms



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