Scoundrel for Sale is a steamy novella in the Wicked Widows’ League- a multi-author series about widows who are single and looking to mingle with some of England’s most notorious rakes!
He swore he would never touch her…
As his best friend lay dying on the battlefield, Gabriel Davenport made a pair of promises:
- One, that he would make sure Hart’s little sister, Abigail, married another man.
- And two, that Gabe, a notorious rake with a reputation for being a magnificent lover, would never lay a hand on her.
Four years later, Gabe has inherited his great-uncle’s estate, and along with it, his great-uncle’s astronomical debts. He needs to marry an heiress, but there isn’t time to find one. If he can’t produce five hundred pounds immediately, his great-uncle’s creditors are going to seize everything, including his poor great-aunt’s wedding ring.
A scandalous solution…
Gabe can only think of one way to come up with the blunt: put himself up for sale in London’s most notorious bachelor auction. He’ll have to spend the night pleasuring the highest bidder… no matter who it might be.
But what will Gabe do when the unthinkable comes to pass, and the winner of his auction is Abigail, Hart’s now-widowed little sister? It’s his worst nightmare… but also his dream come true. What’s a notorious rake to do?
Read on for a sample of this steamy novella!
Gabe refused to meet Abbie’s eye. “Why do you want to do that with me, anyway?”
This did not seem like a promising moment to inform Gabe that she was fairly certain he was the love of her life. So instead, Abbie said, “We have already established that my marriage bed was unsatisfactory. And, to make matters worse, I may soon be wed to a man who isn’t one whit better.” She heard her voice break at the thought of marrying Nigel, who shared all of her former husband’s failings but lacked George’s great compensatory quality: kindness.
Lifting her chin, she soldiered on. “But before I do, I want to do something for myself. I want to experience pleasure, the kind that can exist between a man and a woman. And I refuse to feel ashamed for wanting that.”
Gabe’s eyes were tender as he stepped forward. “God, Abbie, I would never judge you for that.” He raised a hand to brush an errant lock of hair back from her forehead. “You deserve a competent lover not just for one night, but every—gah!” He jerked back, staring at his hand in horror. “God damn it! I mustn’t do that!”
“Mustn’t do what? Touch me?” She laughed incredulously. “I should like to know how we’re going to make love without touching one another!”
He slashed a hand in front of him. “We’re not going to make love.”
“You were the one who just said I deserved a competent lover!”
“You do. But it will have to be someone else.”
Abbie studied him in the candlelight. To be sure, he was still eyeing her as if she were a rabid dog.
But if the large bulge pressing against the falls of his trousers was any indication, he wasn’t entirely indifferent to her.
Slowly, cautiously, she took a step forward. He took a corresponding step back. She took another step forward, causing him to retreat. They did it again, and again.
“Abbie,” he grumbled.
“Why are we doing this?” she asked brightly.
He bumped into a chair along the wall and was forced to stop. “D-doing what?”
“This dance. The Don’t-Touch-Abbie dance.”
He swallowed thickly, which drew her eyes down to his throat and the open vee of white linen framing his golden chest. “I-I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
She raised a hand and feigned poking him in the shoulder. He dodged to the side, so she repeated the motion on the opposite shoulder. This time he reversed course so sharply he tripped over the chair and had to grab its back for purchase.
He glared at her. “Damn it, Abbie.”
“Now that we’ve established that you’re avoiding me—”
“We’ve established—ugh”—he ducked to the side again, narrowly avoiding her teasing finger and winding up all the way in the corner—“nothing.”
“—you may as well tell me why.”
He crossed his arms. “I confess nothing.”
“Fine!” She waved a hand. “Stand there as long as you like. You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on.”
He leaned forward, his eyes full of challenge. “Maybe I’ll just leave.”
Slowly, sensuously, she leaned forward, too. He recoiled, which she’d been expecting, but she kept going, purposefully placing her hands on the wall on either side of his broad shoulders, trapping him in the corner. She dropped her gaze to his lips. “Go right ahead.”
Of course, there was no escaping without touching her, and Abbie marked the moment he realized his predicament. “Please just let me go.” The consternation on his face was real, and it tore at her heart to see it.
“I will gladly let you go if that’s what you really want. I hope you know, Gabe, that I would never force you to make love to me if you do not want to, in spite of the fact that you put yourself up for sale to the highest bidder tonight.”
“Thank you,” he murmured, his gaze softening.
“But,” she added, casting a significant glance down toward the bulge in the front of his pantaloons, “I am no longer an ignorant virgin. We both know that you’re not entirely indifferent to me.”
He blanched, glancing down and then scanning their surroundings, presumably looking for a pillow or some such to hold in front of his groin. Finding nothing of use, he had to settle for untucking his shirt. “Never mind that.”
“Oh, I mind it. I mind it very much. And although I am willing to let you go, I will only do so after you’ve explained the reasoning behind your bizarre behavior.”
“You’re imagining things—gah!” He dodged as best he could within the confines of her arms as she slowly raised her lips toward the slope of his jaw. But mixed in with the panic, she could see desire, raw and hot, flood his eyes.
“You’re right,” she murmured, her lips an inch away from the spot where his pulse throbbed in his neck. “You don’t want to make love to me, not even a little bit. And all of this is completely normal.”
His eyes took on a pleading look. “Please don’t make me tell you.”
“But I-I—” She blew softly on his neck, and his whole body shuddered. “I promised your brother.”
Her brother? That didn’t make any sense. Hart couldn’t have anything to do with this.
He’d been dead for six years.
The word promise scratched at the back of her brain. He’d promised Hart he would see her married to George. That was the only promise Gabe had made.
Or so she had thought.
Slowly, she raised her gaze to meet his. “What did you promise my brother?”
Gabe’s eyes were sad. The only time she’d ever seen him look so defeated was when they lowered Hart’s body into the ground four years ago. When he spoke, his voice was the merest whisper. “I promised him that I would never touch you.”
Abbie loved her brother and missed him every day.
But what an absolutely cod-headed thing to have done.
Gabe was now staring at the floor, dejected. She wanted to sweep her hand along his jaw and raise his eyes to hers, but of course, he was terrified of her touch. So instead, she said, “Look at me, Gabe.” Once he complied, she asked, “Hart made you promise you wouldn’t touch me?”
He nodded sadly.
“When was this?”
“It was—” He squeezed his eyes closed. “It was at Salamanca.”
“On the battlefield?”
There was a roaring in Abbie’s ears. “After he had been shot?”
He opened his eyes, and his gaze was tender. “Yes.”
“So it was a deathbed promise?” Her voice was rising because that just wasn’t cricket, but she forced herself to modulate her tone. “He asked you to make him a deathbed promise?”
As if her brother had the right to make such decisions for her. Had Hart been alive, Abbie would’ve clouted him right on his pompous head.
No wonder Gabe had been acting so strangely.
Abbie set her jaw. “Tell me what happened.”
“You don’t want to hear about it, Abbie. Trust me, it was horrible. It was the worst day of my life.” He looked down. “I just—I wouldn’t want you to feel sad.”
Abbie vowed right then and there that one day they would discuss it. She knew Gabe was only trying to protect her, but she was stronger than he realized.
That, and she knew all too well the burden of carrying your sadness all by yourself. Being able to honestly share her struggles with Gabe in her letters had been a godsend.
She was determined to give him the same gift.
But this was not the time to press it. “All right, then. But I insist that you tell me exactly what you said. The exact wording of the promise you made my brother.”
Gabe’s brow wrinkled. “He asked me to promise that I wouldn’t touch you. That I would never lay a hand on you.” His eyes were pleading. “That’s the only reason I can’t do this, Abbie. I would never want you to think there’s something wrong with you. There’s not. You’re beautiful, and desirable, and… and”—he broke off, staring across the room—“everything a man could ever want. But I gave your brother my vow. And I don’t mean to break it.” He ran a hand over his face. “I’m sorry. I’ll return your money. But I can’t fulfill the terms of the auction.”
Abbie’s mind was churning, picking over everything Gabe had just said, and—
It was so obvious.
She lifted her chin. “There will be no need to return the money.”
He shook his head. “I wouldn’t feel right accepting it. Not even as a loan. Not after this.”
“There is no need for the money to be a loan. I have the perfect solution. You are going to keep your vow to my brother, and your promise to make love with me.”
“But… but…” Gabe shook his head, looking adorably confused. “That’s impossible.”
Abbie drew up all her courage and closed the distance between them. They still weren’t touching, but their bodies were so close she could feel the heat radiating from his chest. “My brother made you promise you would never touch me,” she whispered. “He never said anything about me touching you.”
Scoundrel for Sale will be available on May 2, 2023, and you can pre-order a copy today. The Wicked Widows’ League series will be released starting in March 2023. Be sure to check out all the great books in this series!
Excerpt from Scoundrel for Sale Copyright © Courtney McCaskill, 2023. All rights reserved. The moral rights of the author have been asserted. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. All inquiries should be made to the author.