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this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Richard’s innards had become cold hard stone. His heart was too heavy to beat. There was no knowing when he would see Emerald next.
“I appreciate you not dismissing Mark.”
Richard turned to Joseph. He was not in a mood to hold any conversation and especially not the one he heard in the tone of Joseph’s voice, but Joseph progressed. “This is not the outcome either of us intended.”
“Is it not?” Richard let the sarcasm that spurred his anger touch his voice and turned back towards the gangplank of the ship.
“It is a–”
“Joseph. I deem you a friend as much as an employee, but on this occasion, pray mind you own damned business,” Richard mounted the gangplank and walked quickly as he called back over his shoulder, “And be grateful you are still the captain of this ship.” It was a threat. He only had so much patience.
“Richard…” Joseph followed him.
“Mr Farrow before the men,” Richard reminded in a low cutting voice.
“If there is anything–”
“To help… There is nothing, I can assure you, you have done enough. Have someone hire me a carriage?”
Within half-an-hour Richard was sitting in a hackney, his hands impatiently tapping out the rhythm of his heartbeat on his thighs. He was alone again. He had spent most of his life with the sense of fighting for himself, with no one else to turn to. There had been many mistresses, and then June, but he had never shared a part of himself before, as he had with Emerald. Only to be rejected. Again. It was why he had learnt not to trust. He should have held on to that belief.
But he was a fool, mixing up now with yesteryear, yet his childhood emotions were colliding chaotically with those of today as the carriage rumbled on over the cobbles, rocking and creaking.
Embarrassment flushed his cheeks. He was not a youth now.
The carriage rolled on through the distantly familiar London streets. He had not been back for years and yet he remembered places that they past, and things that had happened there.
What was Emerald thinking? It was all strange to her. Was she afraid? Her hands had been shaking when she had left the ship. But if nothing else came from their relationship he had given her one thing; he had taught her how to hide her thoughts and feelings. The brave, proud angry woman who had climbed into a carriage amongst strangers must have been screaming with grief and loneliness on the inside. She had left her father behind, lost her mother and then he had stolen her innocence, and now she was supposed to marry a man she did not know. She must be struggling to make sense of it all.
When he’d arrived in India he was only a little older than her, but he had known he was arriving to undertake a job, and he’d had things to prove. He’d proven them.
She had come here against her will, she had wanted more than to just be a man’s wife.
He had taught her not to trust and probably scared her into wanting less. He sighed out in irritation with himself.
He hoped her father’s journey here would be quick and that the strangers would treat her well. But most of all that he would win her back.
The carriage swept about the corner of a street into another square. A square that he remembered in as much detail as the palm of his hand. His gaze reached across the central green park, looking between the trees to the ornate town house on the opposite side. His heart struck with the hard pounding of a blacksmith’s hammer, that beat in his veins.
Was he truly going to do this after all these years. He had promised himself he would never come back.
The carriage rolled on about the square as Richard’s gaze clung to the house.
The warmth and scents of Calcutta came into his mind. It would be the rainy season now. The air would be heavy with the smell of thirst quenched vegetation and the roads thick with mud.
He breathed out the breath he had not realised had trapped itself in his lungs. He was not the youth who had left, he was a man who had seen and done things that others dreamt of and he had made a fortune while doing it.
The carriage pulled up in front of the large, shining black door.
There was no door knocker in place. It could be a reprieve, it could have been taken down because none of the family were in London.
Richard opened the door of the carriage and stepped out. Then turned and looked up and paid his fare. The driver set the break and climbed down to help Richard lift his trunk off the back.
Richard’s father would have an apoplexy if he was watching from a window. But Richard had helped the driver with that in his mind, to deliberately infuriate the old man. Richard had not grown up in all ways.
He left his trunk on the pavement and ran up the short set of steps to the front door, as the carriage driver climbed back up to his seat.
Even if his family were not here a servant would be minding the place.
As the carriage pulled away, Richard knocked on the door.
His hand fell and he stood silently for a moment, his hands curled into fists at his sides.
No one came to open the door.
He knocked again, louder. The servants were probably below stairs. His hand fell once more and he waited.
The door remained resolutely shut.
All his fear and anger about returning to this place irrupted in impatience and he struck the door with the side of his fist, making the wood jolt, until he heard a voice in the hall.
Richard ceased his onslaught.
The door opened but only by a narrow gap. “The family are not receiving.”
Richard’s palm pressed on the door and pushed. He did not recognise the footman, but it had been twelve years since Richard had last crossed this threshold. “I am a part of the family. I am Richard Farrow, eldest son of the Earl.”
The door opened by another foot or so, under the pressure of Richard’s palm.
“Who is it?” An angry masculine growl came from behind the door. But it was not the tone of an old man, not his father. “Have people no respect…” The voice complained.
Richard pushed harder and the footman conceded, stepping back as the door opened wide.
“This gentleman, my Lord, claims to be Lord Richard Farrow.”
Richard looked to where the footman was looking. Something that felt like a fist struck him hard and the pain shot through from his jaw into his skull as he gripped at the door to stop himself from falling. The second blow he was ready for. His hand grasped his brother’s wrist and he stared at Frederick.
Fredrick glared at him with the heartless, vicious anger that Richard had known in his youth – in their father’s eyes.
Richard threw Frederick’s hand aside. “There is nothing like a warm welcome back into the heart of my family…”
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
The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~ A Christmas Elopement began it all
The Scandalous Love of a Duke #4
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)
Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback
Go to the index
- 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