The Baron's Cold Proposal

The Baron's Cold Proposal

By:  Alle  Completed
Language: English
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Within a world of manners, petticoats, finely dressed men and grand houses, tension and sexual attraction still rule. The purity of a woman’s reputation is everything whilst a man could be the worst kind of deviant and still walk amongst royalty. Navigating these tricky waters takes skill. A woman could risk it all for such a dangerous man and come away ruined… Follow Athena Thornfield as she starts employment at Fairfax Manor as a landscape designer. The millionaire Baron owner has a scandalous reputation with women. Can Athena complete the contract, learn about her desires and leave with her heart intact? Or will the Baron make her an offer she doesn't know if she can refuse?

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    68 chapters
    Chapter 1
    The gilded hallways and ornate rooms of Haddon Hall were silent. All of Lord Lupton's family and servants were attending the garden celebrations on the terrace. There was nobody to stop his thunderous pace as he stormed out of the bedroom suite cursing under his breath."Where do you think you're going?" a shrill female voice cried after him. He spun around, slapped his broad hand against the wall loudly and exclaimed. "Damn you, Octavia, I have just proclaimed my love and been told I'm of no consequence to you!" Lady Octavia Lupton, a mid-twenties delicate blonde waif of a woman, leaned against the door as she adjusted the bodice of her dress instinctively. Her floor-length lilac gown covered a multitude of sins, including the fact her undergarments were no longer there. 
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    Chapter 2
    The crowd loudly toasted Lord and Lady Lupton to the success of the new hunting lodge and gardens whilst Athena silently observed the group. Their work was complete, and it was time to take their leave to another contract.    She had enjoyed her time at Haddon Hall, although the stress of knowing Craig was pursuing relations with Lady Octavia had certainly dampened the past month.   Still the project had been a success. As usual, her vivid artistic designs coupled with Craig's knowledge had produced a dazzling success. High society wanted to embrace the creativity of metal sculpture and exotic plants from afar and shake off the Georgian style of columns and stark white stone.   "We must give special thanks to our talented designer and artist, our guide throughout the process, Miss Athena Thornfield."   She was startled out of her thoughts and gave a wide smile and polite nod to her hosts. The sp
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    Chapter 3
    The bouncing, jolting carriage journey carrying Athena and Craig to their new start at Fairfax Manor seemed never-ending. A journey of one hundred miles was a severe distance when trying to transport so much equipment, tools and design material.    Though the cousins shared an intense loyalty, Athena had not confided in Craig about her concerns about Baron Oliver. The meeting in the study had seen no further attempts at flirtation and she had decided to regard it as purely a misstep on his part.    She could not help but observe a sly grin on his face throughout her detailed presentation. His rich brown hair had shone in the sun glinting through the window and she shook her head at the recollection.   Nonetheless, contracts had been signed to construct a vast lake complete with an ornate, romantic pagoda at its centre. The extensive mile-long driveway was to be replanted with vivid foliage and in Oliver's words
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    Chapter 4
    An early start saw Athena and Craig leave the inn well before dawn. Whilst he regaled her with tales from his new acquaintances from the Inn, it was her turn to be lost in her thoughts. Whilst she knew the tales Nancy Mellor had spun must be exaggerated she was still intrigued.   Finally, the carriage arrived at Fairfax Manor. A long gravel driveway leads to a dark grey Gothic Manor house. Stark turrets and arched windows looked over the surrounding lawns, meadows and forest.    Both Athena and Craig smiled in excitement as they approached. The change they were going to make was unparalleled.   An arched double wooden door opened as they exited the carriage and two women stepped out to greet them. One in a black senior servant's uniform, her hair in a grey bun. Read more
    Chapter 5
    Athena dressed carefully for dinner, by trying to wear something charming, yet understated yet professional. Finally, she decided on a mint green and white dress with a wide white ribbon tied under the bust. Her hair was loosely up with some curls escaping and falling in delicate tendrils. As she waited in her quiet room for Lily to summon her, the impatience built to a crescendo.   As the time neared nine, she accepted she wasn't being summoned tonight. Her embarrassment at such a start made her cheeks burn and her eyes sparkle. She headed out of the bedroom and headed to the kitchen to find her meal.    As she strode down the corridor and quickly took the stairs she stopped at the sound of voices. It appeared to be a study where at least two people had retired for a drink and a smoke.    Slowing her walk to minimise noise she headed away and to the other end of the hallway. A door behind her banged open sudde
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    Chapter 6
    A daily routine was established by the end of the first week. At dawn, Athena and Craig would quickly go over their aims for the day then after breakfast Craig would join the men in their labours.    Athena would then be based in the library for her drawings and assessments or walk around the grounds trying to gauge the success of the designs from every vantage point. Any issues found or were hers to cost and find solutions for.    Invariably Oliver would appear and entertain her with amusing questions about the design. To humour him she had produced a sketch of a maze area complete with a confused Oliver at the centre. He had guffawed and promised to show Felix. The mention of his name did more to her nerves than all of Oliver's flattery.   Lily and Sophie, anothe
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    Chapter 7
    The Manor was finally brought to life the following Friday as half a dozen carriages containing the guests for the weekend's hunting arrived. Tonight there would be fine dining, music and entertainment followed by a dawn start on horseback.    Athena too had found new energy. The manor had transformed as it hummed with activity, the grey stone walls no longer intimidating, instead, they were a welcome source of strength within the harsh landscape.   Oliver assured Athena during their conversations she could borrow a horse named Tempest. His original promise of accompanying her to the stables had fallen by the wayside, however. She had not chased up his attention though, aware of the implications she could give by hounding him.    Attempting to avoid the buzz of new
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    Chapter 8
    The evening’s festivities saw Athena worrying about what to wear, something she never normally cared about. Lily kindly informed her what the other visiting ladies had taken out for the evening so she could wear a similar style. Out of sheer relief, Athena had wrapped the gentle Lily in a hug, thanking her for preventing her embarrassment. She wore a tightly wrapped purple evening gown. Underneath that layer was a white semi-corset bodice that offered a good hint of cleavage. The sleeves were three-quarter-length but not puffed out as per the trend. Instead, they clung to her limbs, highlighting her youthful figure.  Around her neck, she wore her gold circle locket, and her hair was styled into a stylish nest of curls with sparkling pearl pins placed within.  Read more
    Chapter 9
    Stood silently at the top of the stairs Athena did not dare turn around. The severity of his voice had rendered her frozen to the spot. The sound of heavy footsteps climbing the stairs to reach her pounded in time to her heartbeat. Finding herself fighting a tingling sensation in her lower stomach in anticipation she kept her eyes firmly to the floor.   He quickly completed his ascent. His pace slowed as he stalked around her silently, his body close to hers like a wolf readying for the kill. Her eyes slowly lifted from the ground upon seeing his black leather boots in her peripheral vision. Finally the footsteps stopped, he was stood directly in front of her, and her eyes slowly travelled the full length of his body to meet his own. His dark suit and waistcoat fitted his large figure, he couldn't look more perfect if he tried. Although his jaw was set sternly, his eyes an intensely dark brow
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    Chapter 10
    As the day started and the house buzzed once more with activity, both Felix and Oliver looked for Athena to appear for breakfast. She remained irritatingly absent and Oliver joked that perhaps she had run off to the nunnery instead of riding. Whilst some at the group had laughed Felix had stood up and walked away silently, disappointed in his brother.   Partaking in the hunt were Oliver, Felix, Lord McDonald, Lord Dacre, David Buxton and Harold Lupton who had arrived late. Athena was the only female rider but as the men strolled out of the large doors chatting they found Athena already mounted on Tempest.   Felix could not help noticing her excellent posture upon the horse, her green eyes shining with grim determination. Her hair was tightly pinned under a black bonnet glowing coolly in her ruby red tightly fitted riding habit that w
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