John’s Grandfather’s influence on his life …
“John is doing well, but I wish him to come and stay soon, for a while. He should not lose touch with what he will inherit.”
“He knows his responsibilities. He will do everything he can to make you proud, Father, but you must not set the bar too high for John to reach. He is a good boy but he can never be perfect.” …
Robert walked back to the house a few paces behind Jane while John, at his side, asked for Robert’s opinion on a horse he could take back to Eton. Edward had agreed to John keeping one in stables there. At least their discussion on breeds and what to look for distracted Robert’s Jane-focused brain.
“Sayle!” Robert stopped and looked back at the same time as his nephew. It was the Duke of Pembroke, John’s grandfather, who’d called. He was the only one who used John’s courtesy title.
Robert sensed John stiffen and knew John was afraid he’d done something wrong. Pembroke had spent many deluded years believing he could control his grandson because the boy was his heir.
“Sayle!” Pembroke called again as John waited for his grandfather to catch up.
Robert waited, too, unwilling to leave the boy to the mercy of a tyrant.
“Grandfather,” John stated before bowing deeply as the Duke approached.
“Your Grace.” Robert joined his nephew’s welcome, but only bent slightly.
“How fare you, boy? I have hardly seen you for months. You must come and spend some time with us soon.”
“I am well, Your Grace. I said to Mama I shall spend the last week before I return to Eton with you, if that is suitable for you, sir?”
“It shall not suffice. One must not be miserly with one’s duties, Sayle.”
Robert had never heard the Duke say a good word to his heir. There was no encouragement, no recognition of any achievement – no affection.
“You will return with me today, Sayle. The Duke of Sutton’s widow is not fit company for a boy your age.”
Robert felt the words wind him like a punch in his stomach. What the hell did Pembroke know of Jane? Robert had not heard a single rumor of her in town and even if he had, he was in a position now to deny them all, and he would not let Pembroke insult…
“Your Grace, with respect, the Dowager Duchess of Sutton is a close family friend.”
Pembroke’s measured gaze settled on Robert, clearly questioning his morals.
“Go on ahead, John,” Robert directed his nephew.
John met Robert’s gaze with a look of doubt then glanced at his grandfather for consent.
Pembroke nodded, and once the lad was ahead, Robert said…