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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

 

Richard

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.

“A moment!”

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

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

 

Emerald

A tap knocked on the cabin door. Emerald  knew it was Richard the moment his knuckles struck. No one else aboard the ship knocked with his confidence – as if they owned the ship. But she had not heard that knock for days and her body jumped at the command of it and she rushed to her feet, standing before her bunk. “Come in.”

She was not a coward. She knew she had to face him today. It was simply sooner than she had expected.

“What do you want?” she asked harshly as she stepped forward when the door opened so he did not come in too far.  She had no patience for him. His presence irritated her. But even so, as she faced him for the first time in days, his threateningly handsome features spoke to her heart. He had some sort of invisible force that drew her closer  Her mind flooded with memories of the things they had done together on this ship.

“Your family await you on the dock. I have come to fetch you.”

“Like a dog,” she mocked cruelly, but he had presented her with such a perfect opportunity for spite.

“You are not amusing and I am not in the mood to fight. Are you ready?”

“Yes.” Realisation suddenly sparked through her head. She would not be travelling with Richard… Relief and fear blended. “Who is here?” The man she had come to England to marry… Emerald looked at Rita. They were dressed in bonnets and cloaks prepared to leave – to face an entirely unknown future among strangers.

How long before her father could reach England?

“You are honoured, the Duke of Sunderland has come himself. Yet propriety is met; he is accompanied by your uncle, your mother’s brother, and his wife.”

“Oh.” She glanced at Rita again. She would not hide. This parting must be made. “We are ready.” She wanted to leave Richard and she had to leave the ship. Her heart leapt into a racing beat as she moved to walk past him but he caught hold of her arm to stop her, his mouth opening as if to say something else to her.

“Miss Martin, it has been a pleasure knowing you. I hope the future is good to you,” Mr Bishop stood at the door that Richard had left open, preventing Richard from speaking if that had been his intent.

She slipped her arm free from Richard’s grip, aware that he let her go, and offered her hand to Mr Bishop. Of course it was inappropriate, Mr Bishop was far, far, beneath her family, but he had been kind to her these last weeks. He held and squeezed her fingers gently.

“Thank you, Mr Bishop, for your company and kindness. I have greatly appreciated it.” When he let go of her hand she saw Mr Pritchard come forward behind him. She stepped past Richard and out on to the deck and offered her hand to Mr Pritchard.

He held it. “Miss Martin, it has been a pleasure. I am sincerely sorry about your mother. I hope you find good fortune in England.” He kissed the back of her gloved hand.

Good fortune… She did imagine she would find it in this dull dreary land. If she tried to look into her future now she could only see grey mist.

“Thank you, Mr Pritchard.”

He let her hand go.

She drew in a slow breath, her fingers were trembling.

Richard caught hold of her hand and laid it on his arm, then pressed his hand over it, in a gesture that said he was trying to help. She looked up at him. She would swear he had felt her trepidation but his business mask hid all emotion. He was so clever at that.

“Miss Martin.”

She looked over to face, “Dr Steel.” meeting his gaze. She did not remove her hand from Richard’s arm.

“I am sorry you find it difficult to understand my position, Miss Martin. I would like to part on good terms, but as that is not possible I wish you well regardless.”

“Thank you, for all you did, Dr Steel,” she acknowledged curtly, her pitch expressing the the reminder of all that he did not do. Yet he had saved her life, if not her mother’s.

When she did not offer her hand he bowed deeply. “Goodbye, I wish you well.”

“Thank you, goodbye.” She looked past him, over the edge of the ship,  to the glossy carriage with the crest painted on the side. Her heart beat faster.

“Miss Martin,” Richard prompted, his arm falling from beneath her hand. Instead he gripped her elbow and began to guide her across the deck towards the gangplank.

She wished to cry out suddenly, hold back, wait.

 

There was an odd impatience in Richard.  She ignored it, stepping onto the rough wooden boards of the gangplank and gripping the rope.

He was close beside her, still holding her other arm, and as she walked his grip tried to slow her down. He leant down towards her.“I wish you to know my feelings are unchanged. I am staying in England. I will give you time to grieve,” the words were rushing out of him, as though they had been bottled up for days, “but afterward I will call on you and court you as I should have done before and I beg you to consider me seriously. Do not make any rash decisions. Wait for me. Please give me a chance to make amends.”

They had reached the end of the gangplank, Mr Swallow was there.

“Miss Martin.” Mr Swallow bowed to her, then offered her his hand to help her step from the planks.

“Thank you.”

“It has been a pleasure. I wish you well.”

“And I, you. Thank you.”

Richard’s unrelenting grip on her arm slowed her down again as she took the last few steps towards the carriage. “I love you, believe me,” he whispered urgently, leaning towards her again. “I meant you no harm. I did what I thought best. I was wrong, I am sorry. Yet do not let that spoil what we could have together.”

She looked sideways at him. “What we had was not real, it was built on your lies.” Her voice carried and the footman who held the carriage door glanced at her.

Richard stopped. He let go of her arm and held her hand instead. She would have pulled it free but this time he did not let her go.

He bowed his head and lifted her hand. She could feel the warmth of his lips through her cotton glove as he kissed her fingers. Memories stirred; haunting her. She met his gaze as he straightened and looked into his eyes. “If you have need of me,” he said in a harsh whisper. “If there are repercussions. You must write to my shipping office; address it to me here, in Blackwall docks. Do you understand?”

“Yes.” She understood. He meant if she was carrying his child, she had not considered it until now. She could be.

He let her hand fall. “I am sorry the journey has been so difficult for you, Miss Martin,” he said in a normal pitch.

A strange sensation struck her through the heart. It was a sudden sense of loss akin to the feeling she had known when her mother died.

Richard’s eyes looked beyond her. She turned to face a man who stood a few feet away. He was dressed very smartly. Richard held her elbow once more and led her on towards the man.

He was Richard’s height and of a similar age to Richard, though he was broader in stature and his eyes were a piercing blue.

“Miss Martin,” Richard said, “may I introduce your distant relative, the Duke of Sunderland.”

The man removed his hat, revealing thick blond hair and bowed slightly. Emerald’s heart thumped as she curtseyed, freeing herself from Richard once again. This was what her mother had wished for, for Emerald to meet this man – and then marry him. He lifted his hand for Emerald to take. “May I call you Emma, as we are related, all be it distantly.”

Emerald took his hand, her answer a smile. “Your Grace.”

He smiled too. He seemed pleasant, he had a genteel manner, and the kindness in his introduction had quelled her fear, so she was not inclined to receive him unkindly and she put aside judgement.

“Let me help you into the carriage.”

When she looked up into the carriage she faced another man and a woman. She looked away from them as she climbed the step, remembering that Richard had said her uncle and aunt were here. Her mother’s brother. A man who had turned his back on her mother. She looked at him as she sat down. He had her mother’s features, in the shape of his eyes and his mouth. But his expression said his thoughts were uncertain.

Emerald hoped he felt guilty. He should. He had not communicated with her mother for years and now he would never see her again.

“Your aunt and uncle Emma, Mr and Mrs Coomb.” The Duke  leant into the carriage and smiled as he made the introduction. There was confidence in his tone, as there was confidence in Richard’s. “Mrs Coomb will play chaperon to you while you reside in my home. We shall take you there now and then we will discuss what needs to be done and how we shall progress.”

“Mrs Coomb. Mr Coomb.” Emerald bowed her head while inside she wanted to ask why –  why  her father had not been good enough, to a point they had cut her mother? She said nothing, though hurt pride cried out within her. She was reliant on these people now. What would her mother have thought of that?

“I was very sorry to hear about my sister.”

Emerald’s heart bled at the words and the fear returned. She was in a strange land, reliant on people she did not know. She looked out of the window at Richard. As she had felt when she had sailed from Calcutta months ago, and on the deck as her mother’s body had fallen into the sea, she felt the shift of the ground that was ripped from beneath her feat.

“The maid may ride up on the driver’s box,” the Duke was saying to Richard.

“What is your address?” Richard’s voice cut the air, it had grown in command. Her heart swelled at the familiarity of that voice. “I shall call and pay my respects.”

I wish you to know my feelings are unchanged. I am staying in England. Consider me seriously. Do not make any rash decisions. Wait for me.’ His words ran through her head as she watched the Duke withdraw a card holder from his pocket and then give a card to Richard.

Richard bowed and the Duke turned away gripping the carriage door.

Emerald slid over so the Duke could sit beside her.

She hoped Richard did not call. If he did it would extend her pain. She would be reminded and have to cut him out of her heart and part from him again. She had lost her mother,  she had lost India and her father, and now she had lost him.

The carriage door shut and It felt like a lid closing, trapping her inside. Would there be obligation again now? She had been freed from that on the ship. But her mother had agreed Emerald’s marriage to the Duke and Emerald had sworn that she would fulfil her mother’s wishes.

As the carriage turned she looked through the window, leaning forward and looking back to see Richard. He stood beside Mr Swallow with his hands gripping his lean waist. It was a pose she had seen him take often when he had stood on the poop deck. It was a posture that said he was surveying a situation. His eyes were on Mr Swallow but as the carriage pulled away, he looked back and saw her watching.  Their gazes met for an instant and  in that instant she saw the words within him. Don’t leave me. But it was too late.

She lost sight of him after a moment.

He was gone.

She breathed in deeply, fighting panic.

She may never see him again. She had lain with him. She might be carrying his child. And she may never see him again.

Her fingertips had  been prized from a cliff and now she was falling.

Then she remembered Rita was sitting on the driver’s box above. Emerald was not entirely alone. She clung to the knowledge as her gaze passed over the unfamiliar streets.

“I believe you have not been to England previously,” The Duke said.

Emerald turned to look at him.

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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