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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, 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 ,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26, 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

Chapter Fifteen

 

Emerald 

“Look at this Mr Coomb?”

Emerald looked up as the Duke of Sunderland threw his morning paper across the breakfast table. It landed before her uncle, folded back on a certain page.

“Wroxeter’s son is back,” the Duke said before Emerald’s uncle could begin reading. “The heir. Have you heard the tails of the prodigal son? My father knew old Wroxeter well, the son is an utter bounder? He disappeared when he came of age, letting the old man down. I’d just left Oxford myself. He’d attended Cambridge. My father had no regard for the son. He was a disappointment, he’d no manners nor morals. He was a constant trial to the old man and now he shall inherit. His father must be rolling over in the grave.”

The Duke looked at Emerald then. “The paper says he was in India, did you meet him there?”

“I have never met anyone called Mr Wroxeter.”

He gave her a smile that was indulgent and benevolent – and said he thought her foolish, young and naive. “Lord Wroxeter, and he is the Earl of Wroxeter now.”

She had never heard anyone speak of a man named Wroxeter in India, certainly she’d not known an Earl of Wroxeter. “I did not hear of him in Calcutta.”

“Well then, he cannot have been much in India, can he?” The Duke’s smile broadened. He was annoyingly subjective at times, and yet despite his habit of speaking to her as though she was a child to be taught, he was kind.

Since she had arrived in his home two days ago she had felt as though the world swayed as the ship had done – everything shifted unsteadily. These people were her relatives, they wore black armbands for her mother although they had never known her mother, and the Duke was supposed to be her fiancé. “We shall, of course, wait until the end of your mourning before anything is announced,” he had said. Emerald did not want anything to be announced ever; her whole heart longed for her father to come as Richard had thought he would, and save her from this – no matter that the Duke was kind.

Her aunt had taken Emerald’s purse and jewellery, the things that had belonged to her mother, and put them in a safe, and she was going shopping with Emerald today to buy black crepe to make dresses for Emerald to wear in her mourning.

“Indeed, Cousin,” her uncle said to the Duke, “Wroxeter sounds a very ill-mannered man.” He passed the newspaper back across the table.

“With the audacity to return the week after the old earl was buried, a vulture to pick over his bones. Still he’ll come back to little else but bricks and mortar the earl left everything un-entailed to his younger son.”

“And I am sure this Wroxeter fellow deserves that,” her uncle replied. He seemed to toady to the Duke, saying yes even if an answer ought to be no.

“Yes, certainly, he must deserve it,” her aunt added.

Emerald had noticed that her aunt and uncle constantly flattered the Duke.

Emerald set her knife and fork down. The action drew the Duke’s gaze back to her. “I think I shall go up and see the children. Would you excuse me?” Her mother had never mentioned to her that the Duke had been married before. His first wife had died in childbirth, while bearing twins, a boy and a girl. They were the most charming children. They were eight years old and full of life and laughter and their innocent enthusiasm had eased some of the pain in Emerald’s heart. Playing with the children cheered her as nothing else did.

The children had also made her think about the possibility that Richard had voiced, that inside her there might be a child of theirs. The idea of it had been growing like a planted seed. It ought to frighten her. But a part of her hoped for a child to distract her from the loss of her mother. But if that happened, she would not turn to Richard. He had said he would call here, she hoped he never did. Her father would come before any child of theirs arrived and he would know what to do.

“Stay with us a little longer,” The Duke urged. “I would like to talk to you.” He looked at her uncle, though. “Did you see, as I told you.” he continued their conversation. “He has been left with little beyond stone. The younger son has everything, portraits, porcelain, even down to the pots and pans in his kitchens.” The Duke laughed.

Her Uncle scoffed and clucked his tongue, agreeing with the Duke’s amusement, even though he had never met this man Wroxeter.

Emerald pushed her plate,away. She had begun to feel bilious. But she had hardly slept.

“Cousin? You look pale are you ill?” It was the Duke who asked.

She smiled, weakly. She was not really ill but heart sore.

“You are sad,” he said, presumably seeing it in her eyes. “I shall cheer you up. We will take the children to the park when you have returned from the shops. Open air and sunshine should do the trick?”

“That would be nice. Thank you.”

“We shall ensure you have something to wear immediately then,” her aunt said. “You cannot go abroad without your blacks, and you will need a black bonnet and parasol.” Her tone of voice seemed to make a great show of caring and desire to be a part in both the conversation and the Duke awareness.

“And then tomorrow, I think we ought to begin to prepare you,” the Duke stated.

“Prepare me?” Emerald leant back with surprise. “Why? For what?”

“To be a duchess, my dear,” her aunt said.

“But I thought -”

“You have so much to learn,” the Duke said. “You shall be in the society of the queen when we marry.”

That was what her mother had wanted, for Emerald to achieve the recognition due to her mother’s bloodline. That was what Emerald should think of, that being here was fulfilling her mother’s wishes.

She looked into the Duke’s blue eyes, and imagined brown eyes. He smiled. “What do I need to do?”

“You must practice dancing and deportment,” it was her aunt who spoke, “your singing, of course, and can you even play an instrument?”

Of course she had been taught an instrument, she had been taught all of those things. Her aunt spoke as though Emerald was feral. She had been brought up in India not raised by wolves. She would have said that answer aloud to Richard on the ship, here she kept is silent. “I play the harp.”

“Very well, you will show me and we shall see how suitably. You will be expected to entertain at smaller affairs.”

Emerald looked at the Duke and not her aunt, wondering what his thoughts were. He seemed to think her in need of being taught everything.

“Preparing will take your mind of the loss of your mother,” he said.

That was true. It would do that, and so she committed herself to practicing to be a respectable wife – even though she hoped to never become a wife. She would perform like a monkey in the market in Calcutta, or a puppet dancing on its strings, and practice everything, and hope her father came quickly.

***

A sticky warmth between her thighs made Emerald rise from the bed during the night.

She could tell it was blood.

“Rita,” Emerald whispered into the darkness.

Rita slept in a small bed in the room. Emerald had insisted they stayed close, even though her aunt had considered it an oddity.”Rita.” Emerald was afraid of stumbling into her.

“Miss, Emma…”

Emerald heard Rita sit up.

“I need rags. I am bleeding. Where are they?”

A few moments later the oil lantern was alight and Rita was finding out the rags that they had used on the ship and washed in water on the decks.

The last time that had been done she had not yet shared Richard’s bed. Her mother had died, her innocence had been lost, and she had arrived in a new country since she had last bled.

When she returned to the bed she curled up, bracing her knees, and once Rita had blown out the light and lain down, Emerald let silent tears fall, admitting to herself that she had wanted what Richard had offered, and she had wanted his child… But she could have neither thing. He had lied and the child was lost and now she was truly alone until her father came.

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last book in the Marlow Intrigues series out in May and available to preorder

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, 10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17,18 ,19,20,21,22,23,24,25,26, 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

 

Richard

“And you think you deserve a warm welcome,” his brother spat at Richard, shaking his wrist in a way which implied it still hurt from Richard’s grip. But Richard’s nose still hurt from the punch that had hit.

“Who is it, Frederick?”

Richard looked up to the position of the voice.

He knew the lady on the landing above him. He may not have seen his mother for years and her hair may be grey not black, but she had the same appearance in the essence of her character as she clung to a handkerchief that hovered before her breast. The handkerchief was a part of her love for drama. He remembered that handkerchief very well.

She was wearing black, though, and so was Frederick – and there had been no door knocker in place.

The truth struck Richard like another blow.

“If you have come in answer to the summons I sent you almost a year ago, you are too late. Your father is dead.”

Emotion struck Richard like the wind, rain and sea-spray. In his mind he clung to the poop deck rail as his mother’s eyes continued to accuse him of betrayal.

There was no chance to find accord with his father, no opportunity to address the man who had destroyed him while he was a boy, as an adult who could show him what the child he’d condemned had made of his life.

But now Richard was the Earl. He was a part of the land owning gentry.

The responsibility fell like a ton weight. It tied him with a shackle to the land. “When did he pass?”

“Two weeks ago,” his younger brother answered. “You have missed the funeral.”

“And he died with no ease knowing his eldest son and had not returned to do his duty,” Richard’s mother added.

Duty. The inheritance had been a curse in his family. He was not the first born, it was not his by right. His eldest brother had succumbed to scarlet fever at fourteen, he had lost three of siblings then.

His gaze lifted to a large long portrait that hung above where his mother stood. Their had been nine of them in the farcical portrait. They had been dressed in Greek garb with togas and such for the amusement of his father. There were only five of them now. The next brother between him and the title had fallen from a horse at sixteen.

Richard had become his father’s heir at twelve. Richard had already made his plans–– and they had always been in opposition to his father’s. After-all Richard was the one child his father called the devil’s spawn­–– a worthless rogue who could do nothing but fail.

“And now you have come to gloat over us, I suppose,” his mother continued.

He had come because the letter she’d sent him had cut into the conscience he had locked away for years. He regretted that urge to seek forgiveness and his father’s blessing. By choice he would turn about and walk out of this life just as he’d done before. But there were people reliant on his father’s estate, servants, farmers and villagers. All those people now relied on him. He could not just walk away. “I have not come to gloat. I did not even know he had died, my ship only arrived today”

“Still now you are here, I suppose you must stay.”

He stared at her, his evil streak screaming–– the devil child in him. The devil in hims wished to make a point clear and hurt this woman as she had often hurt him. “Is it not my house? I believe it is now my father has died. So in fact I may say who will stay or not.” He was not a child to be belittled.

But he did not really want this house, or this life. He had crafted a life for himself––he intended keeping that life. He neither wanted nor needed this one. This would not become a yoke about his neck he would be the master of it.

“What do you intend to do then? Cast us all out?” His brother’s voice had become childishly sulky as his mother pressed her handkerchief to her lips in distress.

Frederick had been two in the portrait above the stairs. He was six and twenty now. No doubt their father had prayed for Richard’s demise. It was clear that Frederick was a well trained, compliant son.

“I have no intentions and I do not want to create an argument with you.” Frederick carried no blame.

Richard took a handkerchief out of his pocket and pressed it beneath his nose to stem a trickle of blood.

 

“Richard!” Another female voice rang from the landing above.

He knew that face too, his youngest sister. She inelegantly raced past his mother and down the half circle stairs.

“Rosalind.” He held out a hand to her as she ran towards him.

She had written to him through the years. She had been six months old in their portrait. She was four and twenty now, and unmarried. His other sisters were both settled, one older and another younger than him.

He smiled at her and lowered the handkerchief as she flew at him with arms wide, ignoring his offered hand and reaching for an embrace.

Rosalind had made him promise when he had walked out of this house, to write when he reached India . He had written irregularly. She had written constantly.  Every ship that arrived from England had contained a letter from her. She had been his only link to his family.

She threw her arms about his neck and held him firmly.

He held her in return and saw Emerald, younger than Rosalind and alone among those strangers somewhere.

“Oh Richard, I am so glad you came.” Rosalind pressed a kiss on his cheek.

“It is a blessing to see you if nothing else.”

She let go of him but instead held his hand. “What have you done to your face?”

“I walked into the door I was so eager to come in.” He looked at Frederick.

She ignored the awkwardness that silenced everyone else. “I knew you would come. I knew and Mama and Papa did not believe me.” She released one hand but pulled on the other. “Come and have tea and tell us about your journey. How long did it take?”

Richard looked back at the footman. “My luggage is on the pavement. Have someone bring the chest in, and have the staff line up in the hall in an hour. I wish to meet them.” He was taking the reins of this house and he was not going to have to wrestle it from his mother nor Frederick.

The footman’s eyes widened and for a second he hesitated but Richard was used to pressing orders with his eyes and his body language and making it clear that his orders were not to be disobeyed.

As he turned back to follow Rosalind he glanced up at his mother too. “I brought some lengths of muslin and silk from India, they should arrive later. You and Rosalind may have the material made up as you wish and I shall pay the expenses.” He had often sent things back to England for them with no knowledge of how they were received. He’d done it to spur his father. His interests in trade were an embarrassment to them.

His mother said nothing. But in the drawing room Rosalind profusely expressed her gratitude as she poured him tea.

Home, what a strange place.

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last book in the Marlow Intrigues series out in May and available to preorder

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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