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this novel should not be recreated in any form without prior consent from Jane Lark
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 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, 53, 54, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 65, 66, 67
Richard ate breakfast amongst his family, while upstairs a manservant packed for the journey to India. Only Frederick knew Richard’s intent. His mother would be glad when he was gone but he had no desire to watch her pleasure. But Rose…
His mother and brother stood to leave the table. “Rose…” Richard caught her attention before she could leave with them.
“Do you wish to ask me about Miss Martin?” She moved to a chair nearer his, beckoning a footman to pour her another coffee as the door shut behind the others.
Richard waited for her coffee to be poured and then signalled to the footman to leave them. “No, I do not want to talk about Miss Martin,” Richard answered once they were alone. “But I do have something to tell you. I am leaving England because it is better that I go.”
“Better for whom?” she responded, sitting back as though he had struck her.
“For everyone bar you, I think,” he answered. “But you have Amelia and Alicia, and Frederick, you do not need me, Rose.”
“I will judge that.” She glowered at him, with accusation and pain in her eyes. “What of Miss Martin? Do you no longer care for her after making her cry?”
“Her feelings are not the same as mine. There is no point in my staying here.”
“Not even for your family?”
“I have a business to manage. It will not manage itself.”
“And your lands and responsibilities here will?”
“Frederick has agreed to handle it all, he is very capable.”
“So not even Miss Martin will keep you here, ?”
“I told you, Rose,” he said, more forcefully. “Miss Martin does not wish me to stay. She does not need me.”
Rase’s fingers clasped about his hand. “She cried for you last night, Richard,”
He pulled his hand free and picked up his coffee cup. “She was crying for her mother,” he stated before he drank.
“Someone ought to cry for you, Richard,” Rose said. “You need to let someone care.”
He shook his head and stood. “My things should be packed. I am leaving in half-an-hour.”
“Today!” she stood too. “Why so soon?”
“One of my ships is in dock. It is catching the tide later.”
Her arms were about his neck then, holding him as she kissed his cheek. “I do not want you to go. I want you to be happy here.”
“I am happy when I am away from here.” Or he had been for years, or perhaps not happy but content. But he had been happy on the ship during the days Emerald had come to his cabin. What was it with women and their desire to make a man think his life was incomplete if it was not flooded with happiness. He had his business, he lived well, he did not lack anything––except Emerald––his heart surged with a deep regret.
“You are not happy in India,” Rose answered, her fingers touching his cheek. “You are lonely, but still you will not let anyone close, even your little sister who has adored you since she was three and only wishes good things for you.”
“Only since you were three?” he answered, cupping her chin and kissing her cheek. “I have adored you since you were born.”
“I will miss you, Rose. Considerably. But I cannot stay. Write to me as you have always done.”
“And you will rarely reply, as you have always done.”
“I will try to write more frequently.”
“And forget.” She held his hands. “I will come and say goodbye when you leave. Have you told, Mama?”
“No, you may do it for me when I am gone. I am sure she will celebrate this evening.”
“She will not be happy, you know she will consider it a failing that you are walking away from your responsibility. I presume Frederick knows?”
“He does and I have bid Fred marry and bear heirs. That is what mother wants.”
Rose shook her head, tears filling her eyes and held him again.
* * *
Emerald had slept for hours, it was eleven when she woke fully. As she woke the conversations that had been spoken last night returned to her like whispers spoken across the room.
“Have Rose take you to your aunt. Insist your aunt take you home tonight. Sleep and tomorrow eat. I can see you have not been doing so. When you feel stronger, speak to Sunderland and tell him you want to wait until your father arrives.”
The daylight reached across her middle from a gap in the curtains. She stretched like a cat, for the first time in weeks feeling unburdened. Her father was in the house and she was no longer entangled in an misguided engagement.
“Your father will give you another choice, to go home.”
Emerald sat upright and moved the sheet aside to get up. “Rita!”
Rita appeared from the dressing room. “Miss Emma. You slept late, but The Governor insisted I not wake you.”
“I was tired. Is my father downstairs?”
“He is. Shall I send word to say you have woken?”
“Yes, please do.” Emerald smiled.
Richard had promised that her father would come, and he had.
A smile lifted Emerald’s lips as she slid off the bed.
Rita poured water into a washing bowl.
Emerald’s smile fell as she remembered other elements of their discussion. “You deceived me,” she had accused him.
“Cease this misunderstanding. If I had told you I would have lied to your mother. I made a promise to her. I did not tell you because it is what she wished.”
She walked over to the water. “And your mistress?”
“I did not have a mistress when I slept with you, I had ended that relationship”
Emerald splashed some of the water on her face, then wiped it off with the cloth beside the bowl.
She undid the buttons at the front of her night gown as Rita lay out her day clothes on the bed.
It was true that he had not intended anything to happen between them on the ship. Nor had she. It had just happened.
She stripped the nightgown off her arms and washed them.
Was it naive to expect a man to have no mistress? Ought she to have known there would have been a woman left behind in Calcutta before she had begun anything with Richard… The Duke… Did he have a mistress? Probably. She had been willing to marry him and he would not have dismissed his mistress for her sake. That marriage would have been an utter lie because nor would she have told him about Richard.
She washed her breasts and then her neck.
She had been naive. If she would never speak of Richard, why then had she imagined Richard would speak of his previous affairs to her?
She slid the nightgown off her hips and let if fall to the floor so she might wash her lower body.
“I love you. It has taken me a lifetime to fall for a woman as I have for you. I did not know what I was lacking until this journey. When I knew, why would I not have made the decision to end a relationship with a mistress?”
Her mother had asked Richard to say nothing. He’d cut off his mistress as soon as he was able when something began. “My love for you is no lie.” Her mind spiralled in such a muddle today. “Forget all else.”
“Forget you lived a lie in Calcutta. You denied your family and your name. I do not know you.”
But she knew him more than anyone in Calcutta or on his ship. She turned and lifted her arms so that Rita could slide a clean chemise over Emerald’s head. It slipped down her body.
Emerald turned again, and held the corset that Rita wrapped about her. Her body jolted as Rita tugged the lacing into place.
“He does not relate to people easily…” Richard’s sister had said. “He has not been close to us… Richard was not born the heir. He and my father never got along.’”
Rita tied the bustle at Emerald’s waist. Then held the dress for Emerald to step into.
Rose’s words whispered through Emerald’s thoughts again as she slipped her arms into the sleeves. “Richard was wild… My parents hated him … called him a devil child.” Emerald thought of the children upstairs, as Rita finished securing the buttons at the back of the dress. The children here had their father’s affection and Emerald had been called wild as a girl but she had always been loved. She could not conceive what it must have been like in Richard’s childhood home.
‘He was punished, beaten…’ How utterly awful his childhood must have been.
“He is not bad… He was just full of life and they tried to crush him. They did not succeed.”
Emerald sat down so that Rita could brush her hair and then pin it up.
“He is not cold, as he seems… he does not hold people at a distance because it is his choice. Others have pushed him away.”
Emerald had pushed Richard away too. Her heart thumped as she stared at her image in the mirror while the brush stroked through her hair. Yet he had still said he loved her. ‘My love for you is no lie. Forget all else.’
‘I wish him happy… We all do. We think you can make him happy.’
Emerald’s breath trembled as she breathed out. She did believe that he loved her. That was the truth. She had always thought him a secretive man in India, a man who held people back. But that was not true, he did not shut people out. He had locked himself away to protect himself from any pour opinion that might hurt him.
The truth was––he needed her more than her cousin’s children. The truth was––he held himself distant from people because he did not known how to get close. The truth was––he had fought so hard to succeed because he had wished to prove his worth to his father.
She stood up, her hair slipping from Rita’s hands. He had said goodbye last night, in a voice that had implied it was a full goodbye and her father had arrived on his ship. Richard was going to leave on it. Last night had been a final attempt to persuade her to forgive him.
“Rita, I must go out.”
Her hair was only half pinned. “Where is my cloak?”
“Wait a moment, Miss. Let me secure your hair with a comb at least.” Emerald sat again, her hands clasping, the need for haste making her heart race. She had no idea when the tide would be high. What if the ship had already sailed?
“Miss.” Rita moved away to fetch Emerald’s cloak as Emerald stood.
Minutes later Emerald hurried into the drawing-room. “We have to go out, Papa!”
“Your father is not to be ordered, Emma,” her aunt said
“I believe I am the one to decide if I am to be ordered or not, Millicent,” her father answered as he stood and held a hand out towards Emerald. “Now, where is it you wish to go in such a hurry?” The withering stare he had cast on her aunt turned to her and became a soft warmth of appreciation, that offered to do whatever she asked.
“Oh Papa,” she did not take his hand but hugged him briefly and firmly. “I have missed you.”
“And I you, child.” He patted her shoulder.
“Such displays of affection are indecent,” her aunt admonished.
“They are encouraged in my house,” her father threw back, “and I will not hear Emma criticised for it.” It was no wonder that her mother’s family had disliked him, he was not afraid to show his emotion. He looked at her. “I have let The Duke know we shall find other accommodation, Emma, and I have asked Rita to pack your things.” And Emerald’s aunt was no longer needed as chaperone, she would have to give the money back and leave The Duke’s house, it was no wonder she was angry.
Emerald smiled at her father. “May we leave?”
“We may. Rita can bring our things later, once I send word of our address.”
Emerald bobbed a brief curtsey at her aunt because the gesture was too ingrained not to, then grasped her father’s arm and turned him away, giving him no chance to say goodbye beyond the one word, “Millicent.”
“Where is it we are headed, my dear?” he asked, when they were in the hall,
“The Blackwall docks. I have to find, Richard.”
“Richard?” Her father’s hand covered hers on his arm as they passed the butler.
“Mr Farrow. Only he is not Mr Farrow, he is the Earl of Wroxeter, Lord Wroxeter, and I need to speak to him.”
A hired carriage was waiting outside the house. Her father moved away and opened the door for her, calling up to the driver. “To Blackwall docks. We are looking for a ship called The Rose.”
“Richard is not the callous man everyone thinks him, Papa,” she said, as her father climbed into the carriage. He had arrived on Mr Swallow’s ship. She had not known in all the months she had travelled on that ship, that Richard had named the ship for his sister. He had thought of Rose in India.
“I know that,” Emerald’s father stated as he pulled the door shut and sat down.
The hackney lurched forward.
“And had I not known it, I would have when he sent a ship to Alexandria to meet me. He surmised I would take the quickest route.”
Emerald clasped her father’s hand. “Papa, I love him.”
Her father would have said more, but she did not give him chance. “He is not at all as he seems. He lied to all of us, pretending he is something he is not.”
Her father’s other hand covered hers. “Sweetheart, I have always known exactly who and what Richard Farrow is, as did your mother and everyone in the East India Company. We respected his choice not to use his title. He did not lie, sweetheart. Why do you think your mother was always so tolerant of him? She sympathised, having endured the rejection of her own family. You need not convince me he is worthy of you, dear?”
Why had Richard not told her people knew? “Oh, but you should know he had a mistress in Calcutta. He has ended the arrangement.”
“My dear, of course I know of June. He did not keep the arrangement secret. She was a part of his business life. I always thought her pleasant, though clearly she was no more to him than a companion. But I cannot imagine a man so brutally honest as Farrow keeping a mistress if he marries. Still you should not know of such things. I am surprised he told you.”
“He did not, someone else mentioned her on the ship, in my hearing.” Emerald was such a fool, all the things she had been so upset over, her father thought nothing of.
“Oh Papa.” Her arms wrapped about his neck. “I have missed you so much.”
He patted her back. “What does Farrow know of this if he is leaving?”
She pulled away again. “He has declared his love for me numerous times. You cannot be angry with him. But I have been blind and foolish and not dared to trust him. I turned him away. He is leaving because he thinks I do not return his feelings.”
“But you say you do.”
“Yes. I love him.”
To be continued… Only two more episodes to go 😀
The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama
The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series
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