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The Truth

Posted as a gift of my time and thoughts to the readers of my books, thank you for the lovely messages of appreciation,

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 101112131415161718 ,1920212223242526, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,34,35,36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 5455, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61

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Chapter Seventeen

 

Emerald 

“The Earl of Wroxeter, the Countess of Wroxeter and Lady Rosalind Farrow.” The Butler bowed as Emerald rose, her gaze looking helplessly towards her aunt before she looked at the drawing room door. This call was unexpected and unwanted and The Duke and her uncle were out.

She stepped forward instinctively as an older woman walked into the room.

Emerald  had heard the carriage, then looked from the window to see Richard alight and then she had sent her maid for her aunt and run downstairs. She was not dressed for company. No one called this early usually.

“Countess…” Emerald curtseyed deeply. Richard had brought his mother.

Had he come to hound her again? She had not slept last night, not a wink, and she was tired and confused. Her heart thumped out the rhythm of her fear and anger.

Last night, The Duke had told her she was embarrassing him. Slapping a guest and then meeting him in the gardens.” She had been seen by the servants and her aunt had been told. “Your actions imply something occurred between yourself and that man and rumours shall begin to that affect if you carry on with such behaviour.” The Duke had pressed. But he had not asked what did occur, even though she was sure she had blushed. He believed her foolish and pure.

She was neither.

“Wroxeter is a rogue, simply keep away from him.” he had said at the end of his diatribe.

But here he was. As Emerald rose from her curtsey he walked past his mother and took her hand to bow over it as his gaze captured hers for the instant before he bent. Without gloves she felt the warmth and texture of his kiss. When he let go, her other hand covered the spot. She was unsure whether it was to protect his kiss, or comfort a wound.

“Miss Martin,” he stated as she belatedly remembered to bob another curtsey at him.

“Please do sit down,” her aunt stated.

“I shall ring for some hot water for tea,” Emerald used the excuse to turn her back on them and gather herself up from her shock.

When she turned back his mother was seated facing her aunt, and his sister on the sofa where Emerald had been sitting. Richard was standing by the fireplace, in a posture which reminded her of his stature on the poop-deck as he had looked ahead.

“It is an honour…” Her aunt was saying to the Countess, Emerald did not listen as she took her seat, her eyes fixed on Richard. He smiled at her but said nothing.

“My son insisted on coming early. He wishes to resolve this.”

This? Her?

“Have you seen the paper?” The Countess seemed as cold and serious as her son. As her son in his business skin.

“No, I––” her aunt floundered for an answer.

“Well you ought to, Richard is accused of indiscretion and there is enough gossip. I cannot abide more. It is all over the gossip columns, that Miss Martin travelled with him and was then seen to slap him.”

“You are not to care what the papers say,” his sister whispered, leaning closer, covering Emerald’s hand with her own as it rested on the sofa beside her. “Richard has explained everything to me. He told us your mother died and that he knew she was ill and had not told you. We are to plan another public reunion so the gossips will be unable to talk behind your backs.”

Emerald looked at him, but he said nothing as his mother explained the same idea to Emerald’s aunt in more detail.

Emerald faced his sister. “He is presuming then that I want amity between us?”

She laughed. She was dark haired and brown eyed like Richard, but she had none of the stiffness and coldness he and his mother shared. “I do not know what he wishes, this is my mother’s idea.”

“What did the papers say exactly?” Emerald asked looking up at Richard.

“Miss M slapped the infamous Lord W at her own engagement dinner and was then seen to meet him privately the following day.” Richard’s voice cut through the room silencing the other women’s conversation. “Some say, Miss M had a previous relationship with Lord W; they are both lately returned from India.”

Oh. Heat bloomed beneath Emerald’s skin under his unflinching gaze. He knew everything that she knew.

“And how do you intend to repair this?” her aunt asked, of Richard.

“It is not my son’s issue you realise, it is His Grace’s as he is engaged to Miss Martin.”

“His Grace is not at home,” Emerald responded looking from Richard to his mother. She had never imagined Richard having a mother when they had lived in India. He’d been an entity––born of the world not humanity.

 

“My mother has suggested that you join us at the theatre this evening.” It was Richard who placed the invitation and he spoke to Emerald.

She looked at him once more. “I cannot see how my spending time in your company will help the situation.” She felt intensely uncomfortable facing him amongst his family.

“The invitation is to yourself and your fiancé. If the Duke is with us people can hardly continue speculating. Will His Grace be willing?”

“I am sure he will,” her aunt answered.

And yet he had expressed often that he hated Richard.

“Then it is settled,” Richard’s mother answered.

It was not settled. She did not wish to spend time in Richard’s company.

A knock struck the open door. “Come, bring the tea in,” her aunt called. “Set it down then go.” As the maid put the tray down on a table Emerald’s aunt looked at her. “Will you pour?”

Emerald nodded and rose. “How do you take your tea Countess, Lady Farrow?”

“She likes it with lemon.” She jumped, rattling the cup and saucer in her hand as Richard spoke near her ear. She’d not heard him move closer.

She poured the tea  and placed a slice of lemon in the cup.

“I’ll take it.” He took the cup from her hand, meeting her gaze as he did so.

She poured her aunt’s next and he returned to take that. “Rose likes hers with milk and sugar,” you know how I like mine, the words were not spoken but she heard them, a reminder of their familiarity.

Her heart steadily thumping she poured his sister’s tea and let him take it then poured filled a cup for him. He he liked his tea strong.

When he came back for his cup he took it from Emerald’s hand, his fingers clearly deliberately grazing hers before he turned away.

Her hand trembled as she poured her own tea.

“Your father will be here soon.” The comment was made by Richard as she retook her seat.

She looked up at him. He was still standing as everyone else sat.

“You will need his consent,” he continued, holding her gaze.

“Miss Martin’s Uncle is her guardian. My sister-in-law gave my husband the right,” her aunt responded, taking exception to the comment.

Richard’s dark gaze past to her aunt, his eyes challenging her response with his cold directness. “Still I know Mr Martin would wish to be present, and I know Miss Martin would not wish to marry when he was not there.”

“My father cannot leave Calcutta,” Emerald answered, her voice shaking as much as her hands had a moment ago.

“You think he will not come?” Richard’s gaze came back to her, his eyes dark onyx pools of reassurance surrounded by rich brown.

She shook her head, “He cannot leave India on a whim.”

“Miss Martin, my experience of your father is that he would move heaven and earth for you. You cannot doubt he will come? When he hears of the loss of your mother…”

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series

106849-fc50

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5

The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75  now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

106848-FC50

Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired  The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3  The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

The Truth

Posted as a gift of my time and thoughts to the readers of my books, thank you for the lovely messages of appreciation,

© Jane Lark Publishing rights belong to Jane Lark,

this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 67, 8, 9, 101112131415161718 ,1920212223242526, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33,34,35,36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 5455, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60

 

Emerald

Anger seared through her blood as Emerald crossed the room, ignoring The Duke’s guests, her heart pounding. Richard’s gaze turned to her when she was feet away. She saw the muscles in his jaw stiffen. The people about him followed his gaze as she walked the last few steps, her hand lifting.

She slapped him hard across the cheek. “You liar!” Her hand balled into a fist at her side as his fingers touched his reddening cheek. “You are the Earl of Wroxeter and you did not say!”

His eyes had become darker and his look was now cold. “I am,” was all he said.

“My dear, you are making a scene.” The words were said in a low voice near her ear, The Duke had come to her, to calm her childish outburst down. His fingers cupped her elbow to turn her away as she became aware of whispers passing like a wave about the room behind her.

“You were not invited, Wroxeter,” The Duke challenged.

Richard bowed slightly. “Your Grace, I have just returned to London. I came to join my family. I recall you agreeing to my calling upon Miss Martin. I did not think there would be an issue.”

She was not waiting here listening to Richard weave more lies about her. Everyone was played with and fooled in Calcutta, why had she thought it was different for her. She lifted her arm away from The Duke’s grip and turned.

She wanted to run upstairs but she did not. She set a false firm smile on her lips and walked over to her aunt, denying the stares of those about the room. Once she was there she glanced back. The Duke was still beside Richard. They looked like an angel and the devil. The Duke’s blonde hair and pale skin stood out against Richard’s deep brown hair and darker skin.

One of the Duke’s friends approached her, and then more of his friends gathered about like moths drawn to a flame, seeking ways to discover the cause of her argument with the man across the room. After a few moments speaking with The Duke, Richard walked out.

 

The gossip about the Earl of Wroxeter increased when he had gone. The Duke and his guests were fascinated by the prodigal son they’d carved into myth––the fraud––and now they knew that she knew him they all wanted her to tell them tales from India. She shared none.

Richard

Richard waited on the pavement at the corner of the street, the tip of the walking cane he held tapping against his boot impatiently as he looked at the house. Rosalind had gone in and if she was doing what he had asked at any moment she would come out and come out with Emerald in her company.

If the stupid woman did not refuse. But he had told Rosalind not to mention his presence. He needed a moment to speak with Emerald and he did not think she would agree to it if he had called there. He was also certain her cousin, and betrothed, The Duke, would turn him away if he called at the door.

At last the door opened and two women came out, in their bonnets and cloaks

It was them.

He moved forward instinctively. Rose glanced his way, but Emerald did not notice, her gaze was on the gate of the garden enclosed in its iron railings at the centre of the square. Her hand lifted as she neared it, holding out the key to open the lock.

His steps quickened. “Emerald.” He called as she pushed the gate open. Her head turned sharply as he walked the last few steps to join Emerald and his sister.

‘Rosalind wait here and keep a look out,” Richard said, taking the key out of Emerald’s shaking hand before she had chance to recover from her shock and rebuke him. “Take the key and lock us in.”

“No, Richard,” Emerald shook her head, her eyes casting him as guilty as they had done on the ship, with her quick judgements. Yet last night she had grasped his neck and kissed him.

“We need to talk.” He held her arm and led her into the garden.

“May we cease this nonsense now?” he opened.

 

“We may not,” she answered. “Why did you not tell me?”

“I did not tell you because I did not know. My father died the same week as your mother. I was not the Earl of Wroxeter until I came home.” His hold on her arm kept her walking farther into the garden amongst the high shrubs that would hide them from the view of onlookers peering from the windows about the square.

 

“You were a lord,” she cut back sharply as though that were a sin.

“A lord’s son.”

“A lord’s son still bears the title, my lord, my lord. Did you forget it in Calcutta? I have never heard you called Lord Farrow. Everyone thinks you a self made gentleman there.”

“It is what I am,” he answered on a growl, the thread of his patience shortening.

“It is not,” she responded. “Do you enjoy living out your lies?”

“I am the owner of a trade and shipping company. I am a man. I have established offices and suppliers throughout the world. Are you calling those things a lie?”

“Did your father’s influence help, is that your strength? Is that how you undercut and exclude people so easily in India?”

She was in a caustic mood. It prodded the coals of his anger like a poker. “The people I trade with care for the best price not the details of my birth. I pay them well.”

“And lie to them, as you lied to me.” She pulled her arm free. “I  do not wish to speak to you. Do not seek me out again.”

“So you said to me moths ago and then I return to be asked why I had not come…”

A sudden radiant––empty––smile parted her lips. A smile she had clearly become remarkably good at faking. Her eyes bore no echo of it. “I am sorry for that. But now, good day.”

This was not the vibrant beauty Richard had fallen for. She was bitter, angry and hollow in the middle. She had wilted since he’d last seen her. Emerald needed sun. She needed India. She needed to go back to Calcutta.

Let her rail now he would not be deterred, what had happened first yesterday evening had expressed the truth.

The smile still on her lips, she dropped a deep mocking curtsy. “My Lord,” she chimed. Then she left him there, like her damned fool.

He was her fool. He’d let no other woman, play him like this. She’d caught him in her siren’s snare. He did not even wish to break free. He wanted her.

To be continued…

 

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series

106849-fc50

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all 

The Illicit Love of a Courtesan #2 

The Passionate Love of a Rake #3

The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4

The Dangerous Love of a Rogue #5

The Jealous Love of a Scoundrel #5.5

The Persuasive Love of a Libertine #5.75  now included in Jealous Love, (or free if you can persuade Amazon to price match with Kobo ebooks) 😉

The Secret Love of a Gentleman #6 

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

106848-FC50

Go to the index

For

  • the story of the real courtesan who inspired  The Illicit Love of a Courtesan,
  • another free short story, about characters from book #2, A Lord’s Scandalous Love,
  • the prequel excerpts for book #3  The Scandalous Love of a Duke

Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories, and the author of a No.1 bestselling Historical Romance novel in America, ‘The Illicit Love of a Courtesan’.Click here to find out more about Jane’s books, and see Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click  ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook  page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark

 

 

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