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Except: Saved by the Belle

Dukes fall in love

She wasn’t going to come.

Kit knew this.

And yet he waited, driven by foolish hope that Red would appear.

But why would she? Seven years had passed since that fateful night. They had never even kissed. He didn’t know anything about her, except that she lived somewhere in America.

He gave up his pacing and leaned against the wall, the tickets held in one hand. What had he been thinking to post that Missed Connection in The London List? He’d never posted an ad—and certainly not one like that. To do so was completely out of his character. But it had been the anniversary of the day that they’d first met, and as always, it brought up memories.

It wasn’t as if he was unhappy or lonely, but . . . He couldn’t exactly describe it. Not completely.

He only knew he felt as if he’d missed out on something all those years ago. He’d wondered what if ever since, and on that particular day, he’d been wondering even more than usual. Donning a cloak of anonymity, he ended up posting the ad and then checked it endlessly. He received many responses, but none had been her.

She wasn’t going to come.

The train was due to leave in five minutes. He was headed to Cumbria, or more specifically, to his home, the ducal estate, Ravenglass Abbey. His mother and his younger siblings were expected to arrive on Christmas Eve. He may have been born Christian Wynter, now the twelfth duke of Ravenglass, but to his family . . . he had been—and always would be—Kit. Thank God for that; he had no desire to stand on ceremony.

But Kit had thought to show Red his place, who he really was, and to see if he was right about that night from seven years ago. He had felt a connection to her that he’d never felt before—or hadn’t felt since. He hadn’t even tried to move on, because all women had paled in comparison to one unforgettable American girl.

Perhaps he had made too much of it. Perhaps it was all in his imagination. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps on so many things.

She wasn’t going to come.

Kit had delayed as long as he could from getting on the train and taking his seat. He took one last look in both directions, but no Red.

It wasn’t going to happen.

Realization sunk in, heavy and depressing. He should not have dared to hope. This was why he didn’t let himself indulge—it was bound to end in disappointment.

He would need to move on—somehow—and accept that the missed connection would stay missed. It would be a long journey home. His thoughts would be endless of her, and how he should have left it well alone and never posted the ad. But he would have always wondered. Now, at least, he knew for sure, as painful as it was.

She wasn’t going to come.

And he needed to get on the train.

He turned toward the open doors and placed a hand on the rail, the other holding his carryon. Hesitation slowed his movement forward. Hope continued to beat in every fiber of his being, that he’d hear running footsteps, a furious shout, and—