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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, 53, 54

 

Emerald

The black lace fan that Emerald swayed beneath her chin was now the only black in her attire, she was in half-mourning, in mauve. She lifted it a little higher to cover her face, so she could stare across the top of it. The ballroom was crowded. Sometimes in this country there so many people they were crushed in, shoulder to shoulder. She could not dance because she was in half-mourning but even if she could she did not think it would be pleasurable in such a tight squeeze

The room felt suddenly suffocating. “I feel faint Aunt Millicent, may we find some air?” It was so thin in here, with so many people breathing it and the noise was becoming irritating. People talking over the orchestra playing in the gallery above and their feet tapping on the parquet floor all intermingled. It had made her head ache.

“Nonsense child. It is too cold to go outside this evening.”

Emerald sighed and turned to The Duke of Sunderland, touching his arm, he was speaking with a friend. He smiled down at her. “Forgive me,” she said to the Duke of Pembroke, whose conversation she had interrupted. Then to her Cousin she said. “I have a headache, may we take the air.”

“And I have told her it is far too cold,” her aunt pressed.

“It is not cold,” The Duke of Pembroke, responded, smiling , “I was outside myself earlier, the cooler air is refreshing. Take Miss Martin on to the terrace, Sunderland. Such a pretty lady cannot be allowed to suffer in this heat.'” The comment was punctuated by a bark of laughter.

“Come then, Cousin. Excuse us.” The Duke of Sunderland lifted his arm towards her, as he gave his friend the slightest of bows.

She laid her fingers on his arm, recalling the times she had accepted Richard’s arm.

Her aunt trailed behind as they began to walk about the hall, passing through the crowd that parted for The Duke.

Women looked at him as they moved out of the way, and then at Emerald with eyes that expressed envy. She should be happy, everyone in this room would be happy to be with The Duke of Sunderland. But she could simply not lift herself out of the doldrums. She had become trapped by unhappiness. It was ungrateful. But she was bored and lonely most of her days and the homesickness that had sometimes whispered on the ship, screamed.

Her friends in Calcutta would have lifted her mood and made her laugh. Her father would have held her.

Perhaps when she could dance she would feel better, life was so tedious when it was constant conversation and everyone said the same thing. Afternoon calls, at-homes, late breakfasts, garden parties, then came dinners and musical evenings and balls. Her cheeks ached constantly from pretending a smile, and her head hurt from trying to maintain a placid conversation when they spoke of her mother who none of them knew.

A footman moved and opened the French door before The Duke could. The cool night air rushed into the room. Her aunt had probably been right, but Emerald breathed in the refreshing air and stepped out beside The Duke. Of course the men were in their shirts and coats, she had bare arms and thin silk gloves.

“Is that better?” The Duke asked as he turned her to the right to walk along the terrace. The sun was setting on the far side of the river and the lawn and trees was gilded with the last throws of sunshine.

“I feel cooler, yes,” she said, as a shiver stirred the arm that held his.

“Would you rather leave early?”

“No.” That would be cowardice, and she was not a coward. This was what her father and mother had wanted her to do. “Thank you. I will be happy to return to the room in a moment.”

He walked to the balustrade and stopped, looking out across the garden, silent. Her aunt stopped and waited behind them.

In her head she stood at the rail on the ship beside Richard, and he was pointing out stars to her, while her heart was breaking over fear for her mother. Where was he? He had said he would come back but he had not. He had lied about that too.

The Duke never spoke to her of his business, he would disappear in the morning after breakfast and leave her with her aunt and uncle. She knew he attended the House of Lords, sometimes he’d speak of it to her uncle, but never to her.

With Richard she had never been bored.

Here, her aunt and uncle told her what she may and may not do, and her Cousin treated her with condescending gentleness. She felt like a child among them. The dumb little bumpkin, raised in India, who must be taught even the merest social act. She should rebel for the sake of her sanity, but she did not have the heart. This was what her mother had wished for.

Another memory of Richard came to her, of him leaning over the charts beside her, pointing out their position and route. Richard had conversed with her as an equal, as her father had. And that had been before they were close.

She missed him suddenly. It was foolish but it was true. Every time she remembered the knowledge swept over her like a high wave crashing over the deck in a storm. Had he returned to India? Her heart ached for India, for her father and for Richard. There it was admitted. But nothing could be done. Perhaps that was why she was letting herself recall her affection, because it was too late. This was her fate.

‘It is a very pretty sky, is it not?’ The Duke commented.

‘It is.’ She turned to look at him. ‘Let us go back.’ Running away would not help.

~

Richard increasingly pushed into her thoughts. He was in her mind every hour now his memory had been unleashed, and despite believing he must have returned to India long ago she started looking for his card in the hall every day and listening for his name when the door knocker struck.

The last words he had spoken to her  played in her mind as she listened to others speaking. “I wish you to know my feelings are unchanged, Emma. I am staying in England. I will give you time to grieve. But afterward I shall call upon you.’

Why had he not come then?

“I love you, believe me. Believe I meant you no harm. I did what I did for the best.”

Was it because she had pushed him away. “What we had was built on a lie. You were wrong.”

To be continued…

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – Available 12 May

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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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

 

 

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