Sitting at his desk, Nicholas’ hand betrayed the merest hint of impatience, a feeling he’d come to associate with Edward. It wasn’t the solicitor’s fault but Nicholas had deemed the issue of his brother’s will resolved almost a year before. Unfortunately it seemed his brother had spoken to his mistress about the terms of his will and Lady Featherstone was unwilling to accept payment for the sapphires her married lover promised her. She’d made no difficulties for the one year delay, which the law imposed in case of a mysterious death, but now she appeared adamant to not accept money instead of the necklace.
In the end, his brother had not been a rake; these men used women for their pleasure. Edward might have thought himself such a man, but he had merely been a rum cull. The irony. What would he say now realizing his mistress had only remained with him because he had promised this particular piece of jewelry? Nicholas might have laughed if the lady’s impertinence didn’t mean another humiliation for Lucinda, something he was unwilling to impose upon her.
“Have you considered that Lady Featherstone might have something to do with your brother’s passing Your Grace?”
“How do you mean Leighton?”
He knew the rumours surrounding his brother’s death; he had considered foul play even if Edward had taken pleasure in the last moments of his life. From what he’d learned of his brothers since his return to Town, Nicholas wondered how it was that Edward hadn’t died before. There were so many people who hated him both from society and from the poorer neighbourhoods: nobody would have been surprised to find him in the gutter a knife in his guts. But no, he’d died in a woman’s bed, whose identity was ignored.
The house was obviously one where his brother entertained mistresses, maybe several at a time. But the woman or women who attended Edward that evening were nowhere to be found. No evidence of their name had been found.
What Nicholas had discovered of Edward’s appetites and other stratagems had left him nauseous and disgusted. As he’d promised to Lord Harrods every line, every document, which could have been used for blackmail had been destroyed. Leighton had perused through every single documents Edward had stashed away and found the incriminating one: it would have normally required a passel of lawyers but Nicholas insisted Leighton do all the work himself. He would not risk any of his newer employees to be tempted by such information.
Nicholas stood and paced, the heels of his jackboots making a clipping sound on the discoloured marble. Did he truly want to put Lucinda in a situation where she would be the centre of London’s attention, something they’d avoided since their return? Nobody knew yet of their liaison although he imagined that her godfather guessed. Her mourning period would be over soon but they’d been cautious, particularly after Geraldine’s birth.
Still it was a stroke of luck that the Marquess of Hillshire’s impending nuptials to a commoner provided distraction to Society’s terminal boredom. Nobody would be outraged at the alliance and they would merely give them a glossy look once it became clear Lord Harrods validated their match.
And yet, if the woman was actually responsible for his brother’s death, was it not his duty to ensure she was brought to justice? Did he not owe that to his niece, to his parents? Maybe even to Lucinda and himself? Put this to rest and finally be able to leave it behind…
A knock at the door interrupted his thoughts.
Lucinda entered, in a rustle of fabric, a vision in the velvet dark blue gown he’d offered her on the occasion of Geraldine’s birth. Her presence soothed him, as much as it caused him trepidation. He’d never thought himself a man controlled by his desires and needs but she made him doubt that. Everything about her incensed and inflamed his lust and love. By Jove she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
“My Lady.” Leighton bowed.
“I apologize Mr. Leighton, I had not realized you were visiting. Am I interrupting?”
“No.” Nicholas answered. “In fact…”
Did he want to hurt her this way? No, but he wanted her to know he trusted her with every part of their life, even the legal ones.
“My dear, there is something you must hear. Would you take a seat?”
“Are you certain your Grace? Her Ladyship…”
“Needs to know what is happening. I would rather she heard it from me, from us, than from gossip. And you know as well as I that there will be gossip.”
“Aye your Grace.”
So they explained; and Nicholas found another reason to love, admire and respect the woman who would become his wife as soon as her mourning period was over. Only a couple of weeks. If the matter of Lady Featherstone didn’t change the timing of their plan. He didn’t think they would.
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s Wordle #135
1. Sound 2. Terminal 3. Rum Cull (A rich fool, easily cheated, particularly by his mistress.) 4. Knife 5. Gutter 6. Fabric 7. Discolor 8. Gloss 9. Jackboot 10. Passel (a group or lot of indeterminate number) 11. Stroke 12. Impatience
Use at least 10 of the words to create a story or poem
The words can appear in an alternate form
Use the words in any order that you like.