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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 123456789101112131415161718 ,192021222324252627282930313233,34,35,36373839404142434445464748495051525354555657585960616263646566, 67

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Richard

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.”

She smiled.

“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.”

“Coward.”

He laughed.

“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

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.”

“Miss…”

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.”

“Farrow?”

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

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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

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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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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 123456789101112131415161718 ,192021222324252627282930313233,34,35,363738394041424344454647484950515253545556575859606162636465, 66

img_0788

Chapter Nineteen

 

Emerald

“I shall take you to the ladies’ retiring room, to freshen up,” Rose whispered as they left Richard.

Emerald sat in a chair staring at her reflection while a maid repositioned the slipped pins in her hair. Rose remained beside her and when the maid moved away she asked quietly, ‘Did Richard cause your distress?’

‘No.’  He had not upset her, everything had suddenly simply overwhelmed her, everything she missed. His reassurance and comfort had uncorked the pain she had tried to bottle up inside.

Emerald sighed.

Richard had said her father would come and if he believed it, she did, despite his earlier lies.

When they left the room, Rose wrapped her arm about Emerald’s. “He means no harm. He does not relate to people easily,” she said quietly as they walked along the upper landing. “He has not been close to us.” Then she stopped, half turning and looking Emerald in the eyes. “He will not thank me for saying this, but I think I should. Richard was not born the heir. He and my father never got along. Richard was wild in nature, he liked exploration. He would not sit in a school room. He always absconded. My parents hated him. They called him a devil child. He was forever fighting with my eldest brother whom they adored and so he was punished, beaten, made to sit in a chair for hours and tied to it if he would not stay. When he was twelve, scarlet fever struck my family. Three of my brothers and sisters were taken by it, including my eldest brother. Richard became heir then.

“They made him fit my eldest brother’s mould. He was locked away with tutors and beaten more frequently if he did not listen and learn. He was never sent to school or college for fear he would rebel. I am too young to remember it but Amelia is older than Richard, she remembers it all. Once she saw him held down and being beaten. He is not bad, Miss Martin. He was just full of life and they tried to crush him. They did not succeed.

“My mother mourned my eldest brother’s loss for years and my father told Richard he would rather the line ended than pass to him. The day he became twenty-one there was a ball arranged, he did not even stay for it, he had his freedom. He took nothing from Papa but found a position in the East India Company and simply left.

“He is not cold, as he seems, Miss Martin, he does not hold people at a distance because it is his choice. Others have pushed him away. Their lack of love has made him hold people at an arm’s length. Even since he has returned he retired to the country to be alone, until your engagement ball. It has become a way of life for him.

“I wish him happy, Miss Martin. We all do. We think you can make him happy, you draw him out, and I think he would make you happy.”

Emerald did not know what to say.

Rose gripped her elbow. “I should not have spoken. You are in no state to hear it. Forgive me. Let me take you back to your aunt. But please do not think ill of Richard. He is not what he seems.”

***

Rose’s words rang in Emerald’s ears as she sat across from The Duke in the carriage. He is not what he seems. No. Richard had lied to her and pretended to everyone that he had no family. But he had been kind tonight. The carriage rocked gently over the cobbles as it travelled in a swift pace, reminding her of the sway of the sea.

“It was very inconvenient of you to feel unwell,” her aunt complained, Emerald turned to look out through the window, catching glimpses of the houses in the gas light.

“Emma was feeling unwell,” her cousin stated, “it was not a choice.” The Duke had insisted that they all accompany Emerald.

Richard’s words passed through Emerald’s thoughts. ‘That is what you are choosing, a lifetime in a loveless match. You cannot imagine it. You have only known love. You are not happy now. You will be unhappy for the rest of your life.’

She could not do it. She could not marry The Duke.

As they rode through the streets, in silence now, she thought of the words, how she would tell him, and the children would need to be told too. She could not allow this to continue. It was wrong.

The coach drew to a halt in front of The Duke’s townhouse.

Her cousin, stepped down first, followed by her uncle, who turned to take her aunt’s hand. When Emerald descended, The Duke offered his hand palm upwards. She accepted the offer of help and his fingers closed around hers. He did not let go but walked her on into the house.

She would do as Richard had said and sleep before she told The Duke. She was too tired to face any arguments tonight.

“May I speak with you a moment before you retire.” But perhaps it would not be her choice.

“I have a headache, your Grace.”

“Just for a moment,” he asserted. “We will speak in the library?”

Her aunt and uncle looked back as they walked in to the hall. The Duke waved a hand, encouraging them silently to walk on and leave Emerald with him.

A footman moved to open the doors of the library. The Duke walked Emerald through the double doors that were shut in their wake.

She pulled her hand free from his and stepped backwards a couple of paces.  “Your Grace?” They may be engaged but they still ought not to be in a room alone, she looked towards the closed doors.

“I have something important to ask you, Emma, and I am sure you would prefer no one hear this conversation. Sit down.” He pointed at a winged armchair near the hearth. She walked to it and then sat in a rigid position, her hands in her lap, uncertain of what would come next.

He had not sat down but his hands slid behind his back and clasped. “I hope that our privacy will encourage your honesty. What is between you and Wroxeter? You spoke with him tonight did you not? He was not in the ballroom during your absence.”

The sense of a blush warmed her skin. She opened her mouth but could not speak.

“Did something happen on his ship? Were you physical with him? If you were, I would know it?”

“I––.”

“Did he seduce you?”

Not as The Duke was portraying it.

“If there is something between you it cannot go on when we are wed.”

She was certain that the colour in her skin must be growing stronger by the second.

“I will marry you, even if that is the case. My situation is unchanged, I want a wife. You are suitable and I like you. But I will not be made a fool of. I cannot have been the only person who noticed you both gone. If we are to see this through you must end whatever this is with Wroxeter and send him away.”

Like was not enough! “He said my father is coming.” She took a breath and stood, she was tired but she not a coward and his anger was understandable but now was the moment to do as he had asked and speak honestly. “I cannot marry you.”

He looked struck as his lips parted and his eyes widened.

“I am sorry,” she continued.

His expression turned from shock to anger, and then both emotions were secured behind a mask of indifference. “As you will, Emma. I am not sorry as you have proven yourself to be a deceitful woman.”

Had she deceived him? 

Someone struck the library door. “You have a visitor, Your Grace,” a voice called through the wood.

“At this hour?” The Duke turned away. “Enter!”

“Who is it, Wallis?” he said as the door opened.

“It is the Governor of Calcutta, Your Grace.”

“Father!” Emerald rise, clasping the skirt of her evening dress as she did so, lifting the hem away from her feet so she could hurry across the room and out into the hall.

He stood there, in that giant room full of cold marble and stone. Her arms lifted as she neared him and then she was holding him, warm and flesh and real in her arms. “Papa.” Her arms clasped tightly about his neck as tears of joy moistened the collar of his coat. “Mama is dead.”

“I know, sweetheart.” His hand rested on back. “I received your letter and your mother’s along with Farrow’s.”

She loosened her hold and stepped back, all though her hands remained at his shoulders. “How did you get here so quickly? Should it not have taken longer.”

“By steamer, child, and across Egypt. Then I picked up one of Farrow’s ships.” His hand braced her cheek as his eyes swept across her face, looking her over, looking for signs of how she had faired. His thumb wiped away the tears on her cheek.

“I did not think you would come,” she breathed, biting her lip to stop more tears.

“Why on earth not? Of course I would come. I left Calcutta within hours of receiving word.” She held him again and he held her.

“Mr Martin.”

Emerald let her father go, there was a need for introductions she clasped her father’s hand unwilling to let go of him entirely. “Papa, you must meet my Cousin, and Mama’s cousin, The Duke of Sunderland.”

“Your Grace,” Her father said, bowing slightly. “Would you mind if I stay here this evening? I have only just arrived and have had no chance to seek accommodation.”

“Of course,” The Duke answered, all though his colour was high. He looked at Emerald, his blue eyes speaking of his disapproval, but it was not voiced. “I shall leave you in the company of your Father, Emma, goodnight. Goodnight, Mr Martin.”

Her father bowed once more. “Thank you, Your Grace.”

“Thank you,” Emerald lowered in a deep curtsey. Then as he walked away she looked at the footman. “Please have someone prepare a room for my father.” She smiled at her father. “We shall speak in the library until it is ready.”

“You are engaged to him…” her father said as they walked across the hall once the Duke was out of earshot. “I came in on Farrow’s ship and saw Mr Bishop at the dock, he told me the announcement was made a week or so ago.”

“Mr Bishop, is he not on The Rose?” Surely it was not The Rose that had come into dock.

“No, Farrow has grounded him here in London for some misdemeanour. But, tell me Emma, is that true, are you to marry the Duke of Sunderland? Farrow’s quartermaster seemed very concerned. He did not think it a good thing. He believed you to have been very upset when he last saw you.”

“It was a long time ago that I last saw Mr Bishop, but the engagement was real. I did not know what to do, without anyone to turn to here. But I have ended the arrangement this evening. I thought it would make you happy to know I had made a good match, but I realised tonight I could not accept a marriage without affection.”

As they stood in the library alone, he held her hands in his and looked at her face with the affection he had always expressed for her. “What makes me happy, child, is your happiness. I would not have sacrificed you to a loveless match and nor would your mother. She brought you here in the hope you would find affection, she would not have forced your hand no matter how much she wished you married to a peer.”

“Oh father, I have longed for you so often.” She would go home. She could go home.

To be continued…

 

 

 

The Marlow Intrigues: Perfect for lovers of period drama

106849-fc50
The Tainted Love of a Captain #8 – The last episode in the Marlow Intrigues series

 

The Lost Love of Soldier ~ The Prequel #1 ~

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 Secret Love of a Gentleman #6

The Reckless Love of an Heir #7 shortlisted for the UK’s

Historical Romantic Fiction Novel of 2017

Jane’s books can be ordered from most booksellers in paperback

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 ‘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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