The day had been non remarkable, really. The Duke, William Somerton was riding that day, and his cousin Joffrey was speaking with him. The Duke was slightly annoyed about the conversation so far, which had reflected his father’s recent passing, and so he had tried to steer the conversation in another way to save himself the heartache of such words. In truth, he did not want to relive it all over again, either through talk or within his own mind.
“Tell me more about the situation in Sussex. I heard that Earl Donnington was caught red-handed stealing from his own dear mother. She had been bedridden for months, is that true?” the Duke asked, knowing the gossip movement and flow was always something of much interest to his beloved cousin.
Joffrey stopped his horse and turned inward, moving his foot out of the blackness of the stirrup for a moment to push his boot on a different way, as if he had a wound underneath it.
“What have you done to yourself, man? The hunt is tomorrow at Somerview. We cannot have you nursing san injury,” said the Duke, becoming annoyed at watching Joffrey looking so frustrated with his foot.
Joffrey looked up and then back down at his boot. “There’s a darn stone in there, and I must get it out before it drives me absolutely insane.”
The Duke watched as Joffrey dismounted his horse and took off his awkward boot. His bay horse stood quietly, as if it understood the necessity of things, just as it should do. William noticed how big the animal was in height and depth, a massive stocky build and just over eighteen hands. The animal had been trained by a brilliant trainer, a man called Thomas Whittaker, who had built a fortune from it, having learned the technique from his own intelligent father.
“Now, what were we talking about, William?” asked Joffrey. He mounted his horse and turned him onto the path once again.
“The Earl in Sussex, although I am already bored just thinking about it.”
“Yes, oh the Earl, he did do everything you heard there. One story was so far-fetched, though, that it stated that he was also trying to end his mother’s life more quickly. That is not true, though. I know the man personally, and he is a scared little mouse I feel. His own kind uncle thankfully depleted the rumours and they are all living quite happily, apart from the rumours which always seem to be raised in whispers. I can imagine it would be quite a draining exercise for the Earl, however, going over and over the same theme, knowing people are speaking ill of you.”
“I think the whole idea of speaking nonsense about another man at social events is ridiculous. I do not understand why people are always so happy to see another fail miserably, or to tarnish their good name. I think we should be discussing politics and other important issues relating to moving society forward,” said the Duke, matter of factly.
“There has to be some rawness, some wildness to make our brains tick over, I agree. But it seems as though the ladies like to talk the most about it all, as if it’s a part of who they are, to know every breadth of what is going on with everyone. I find it quite unamicable but slightly endearing,” said Joffrey.
“Do you? Gosh, I do not think I could bear a woman speaking like that on and on, as if it was a normal thing to do. I think I would rather marry my horse, to be frank,” said the Duke.
“I think that is a ridiculous way of being, William. I mean to say, once you are all tied up and married, well, you can sway your wife to your own dear causes, unless she is high-spirited like Nancy Somerton. I long to court her, but she seems to have many suitors. I hope to see her at Somerview tomorrow,” said Joffrey.
“Hmm, Nancy Somerton. She is rather out of your league, don’t you think so?” the Duke asked, grinning wildly to tease his cousin.
“For you, perhaps,” said Joffrey and then he laughed loudly too.
“I shall race you back to the estate. I long to tell Nancy how you long for her. Do you really think she likes redheads?” asked the Duke, easily bringing his horse to a trot.
“It is auburn, and I will beat you back. However, you owe me a slice of cake. Remember?” asked Joffrey.
“It depends; Mrs Parry has been a little off lately. That lemon meringue was utterly strange. I think the butler had a hand in it. He is losing his sensibilities and his mind of late.”
Joffrey smiled before he picked up the pace to a canter. “It is only strange when you allow the liquor to mix with it my friend. You won’t want to add it in after dinner this evening. The butler is a breath of fresh air, giving you salt instead of sugar. It is your own fault for being an annoying master,” said Joffrey, and he laughed. “The hunt is tomorrow, no drinking tonight.”
“I shall do as I please,” said the Duke, now bringing Wilfred, his steed to a faster canter.
“I shall not accept it,” said the Duke, speaking with his aged butler, Henry.
“I am sorry, sir, I thought you might like some tea and pepper,” said Henry. “I shall go and change it for you. Would you like me to get your horse instead, sir?”
The Duke was feeling impatient and was delighted when Henry was taken way by the interruption of Roger, the footman, so that Henry could do some errands without getting so confused about it all. He was usually already gone by this time after light tea, but the mix up with the sugar and pepper was a bit of a muddle, with Henry obviously having tried to place the condiments instead of the cook or other scullery maids in the kitchen.
“I want a meeting called, Tabitha,” the Duke said loudly. “Get the other staff here as soon as possible. And for goodness sakes, remove the tea with pepper in it. Dear old Henry has really got himself in a spot this day. Again!”
Tabitha exited quickly, and the Duke could see that her pace was nearly at a run, and so he waited for the staff to assemble, and as he waited, he drank from his small gold flask, with just a hint of rum to settle his mood for the afternoon. It was a usual habit now, just a sip here or there, and a thing he had practiced as if it were a religion since his father’s passing a little over a month ago.
He waited as the staff was fully ready and at attention, all standing still in front of him in the dining room. There were eighteen of them. He watched as Tabitha stepped forward. “Everyone is here except for Thomas and Henry, sir. Although, actually, no, umm … oh yes, Benjamin is still at the stables because he is attending to …”
“Yes, yes, I know, Tabitha, thank you. Joffrey’s horse threw a shoe, so he took the chestnut, Bailey. I am well aware of the goings on in the household at this point in time. I am calling you here as a matter of urgency really, so please be fully present with me as I speak,” said the Duke, quickening his words to get them out as fast as he could.
The staff stood still, and he could see blinking only; they looked as though they were stunned mullets, having just been caught in a wild and vast sea, and the Duke was annoyed at it, because sometimes he felt as though the staff lacked any forward thinking, or enthusiasm to please him, like they seemed to with his father.
“I need you to listen very clearly. The tasks of the household are not being done without quirks, and it is becoming exceptionally difficult for me to watch you all, whilst you are waiting for Henry’s leadership. I need you to know that you can achieve it without his input and guidance, which is faltering at present. And perhaps on a Wednesday when he is running his errands you may have a quick meeting to counteract the plans he has for you. His memory is failing, but I have not got the heart to let him go, and if need be, I will retire him soon. But please, continue as if you are following his instructions, but do your own task setting so that you may be prompt and so that the household feels as if it is not coming undone,” said the Duke, hoping his requests were not falling on deaf ears.
The staff stayed quiet and then the housekeeper, Mrs May spoke, after placing her hand up. “If I may, sir, I want to tell you that Henry, Mr Gifford; well, he really is a kind man. Sometimes his instructions are quite fruitful and other times they really make no sense at all. I propose that I give the instructions, if it is alright with you. And with the help of my housemaids, we might get the instructions to everyone more clearly. If that is sufficient for you, sir. I only propose myself because I have known Henry for nine years, and I already know what he is thinking, even when he cannot put the correctness to those words or actions forward as easily as he used to do.”
“Excellent, yes certainly, that suits me just fine. My father used to run a tight ship here, and I wish to have it running nearly as smoothly, that is all. I expect my dinner to be served without milk instead of gravy, and perhaps some help might be given to Henry if he is struggling to know why he walked into the room. A simple reminder should suffice, and nothing unkempt or derogatory toward him. Mr Gifford has served two decades here, and I will not have him being made fun of, or feeling as if his role might be compromised, either. A man needs to feel like he has a role, and we shall not take that dignity from him. God knows; a man with no dignity is like a bird without wings. Are we all absolutely clear on the matter at hand?” asked the Duke, watching the sea of faces seeming to be slightly more relaxed.
There were nods around the room, and the sheep-type complacency was a little unsettling. He raised his voice to make a point, just to be certain they were all on his trajectory. “I will NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT have anyone laughing or judging that man. If he serves me salt in my tea, then I will scold you all for not being more competent to help him. I will not tolerate the nature of gossip about him either. It is fruitless and cruel, and a man deserves more than hushed words behind his back. So this evening, before you bed yourselves, please take the opportunity in prayer to ask God to give you the strength not to judge or taint yourselves by judging another, lest you be judged too. Am I certainly, utterly clear about the matter?” he asked, hoping his raised voice had solidified his mood on the entire subject.
“Yes, sir,” said Mrs May on behalf of the staff. “Thank you for being so open with us all, and if there is nothing more, I might suggest that I have a quick meeting now in the library, so that we may set our trajectory straight before Mr Gifford arrives home again.”
“Yes, however, I want to add that I am trying to expand myself more fully in the community as well. On a social merit and standing. I need to be able to remain focused on that task so that I may gain popularity about topics related to many of the social issues facing the community, both here in London and more widely, perhaps even abroad. It is certainly important that my household backs me with its organised arrangement, and so that my mind can remain fully on my goals at hand and in the future. Mrs May, I leave it in your capable hands to speak with and arrange the staff without Mr Gifford’s knowledge of that fact. And if anything comes to pass that needs my input or jurisdiction, please come to me so that I may deal with it in the first instance, and before it gets out of hand in any capacity. I wish you all a good day.”
The Duke went to sip on his non-existent cup of tea and became amused that no one had thought to bring him another one. It was definitely an ironic state of affairs. His staff had been very confused for at least a period of three months, he recalled, perhaps four. It had been humorous at meal times to see which condiments had been given, and sometimes the salt had been exchanged for sugar, or gravy becoming wine. He and his father had laughed about it when the staff was not present. It had been a whirlwind of uncertainty and strange behaviours like yelling too, which Henry did every so often, making William jump slightly, especially if the day was quiet in nature. It was a symptom of old age so the doctor had said, and there was nothing to be done except true support and occasional reminders here and there, as required.
The night had been an eventful one, with the Duke realising his extensiveness of behaviour, having woken to the sun blaring through the pungent garden and with a direct view of the pink roses above him. It seemed that he had slept in the garden and was loudly woken by the staff banging near the kitchen door.
The brightness pierced through his eyes, and he felt himself wanting to know what the time was, and so he fumbled, easily finding his fob watch in his top pocket, the line of silver chain already poking through. It was a quarter past seven already.
“Good God, I need to ready myself for the hunt!”
The Duke’s words had permeated through his own aching head. From the bottle, he had left only a drop of rum, and his head could feel the after-effects of it, like his brain was somehow swimming in water, and his eyes feeling so sensitive too, as though the sun was mocking him.
The Duke moved slowly now, and he certainly knew he needed breakfast, that was if he could stomach it. Something plain would do, and just enough to bring his energy back. He would need to wash his face first, and then get a move on so he could get himself ready for the hunt. He still felt the pain of his father having died more recently, and it came up sometimes, in a movement of air and a sickly taste he could not bear at times. The liquor numbed it mostly though, and on the days when he could lose that feeling of emptiness through partaking in it, he did. And, the drinking of liquor, it was becoming more often of late, and more commonplace.
The day was destined to be the most exciting for the Duke. He loved to ride and hunt, and this special occasion had been something the community had been excited about since its inception a month prior. He wanted to make headway, speaking after the hunt, so that he might influence some of the more relevant members of the club, aiming their support at different topics of great use. He was already very ready in his mind and had solemnised his mindset with a touch of rum to gear him up for it, having found himself feeling more and more alone these days, without the connection to his intelligent, brilliant father. Jack had always known what the next move to make was, especially in circles of fine company, with the richest men and women being a part of the extensiveness of the hunting club, and now having it become a great scheduled event at Somerview.
The Duke readied himself inside of the vastness of the enormous, high-ceilinged building, and before he made his way out to greet the waiting party, he looked at his own reflection in the mirror. It had dulled some, and he felt as if he was slightly queasy, but not enough not to ride this day, and Joffrey simply would not have it.
“Are you ready there, cousin?” Joffrey asked. “There won’t be the attention of the wonderful ladies until we get back. It is a fast track this time, or so I have been told. I do not think I can wait to start. The dogs are already in excitement, barking and pushing their objective through about their willingness of movement.”
The Duke splashed water on his face, realising that he had forgotten to shave before coming to the estate, which was only a short fifteen-minute ride away. He loved the idea of racing to the end of the course, following the dogs as they ran to get to the end, finding the much-loved prize. It made his adrenalin rush so wonderfully well. He felt extremely wonderful as he lived it each time. It seemed to be something within himself that he longed for, a way to move the slow energy through him, and to keep his mind off of his father’s death that had occurred so abruptly and suddenly, without warning. If at home instead, he might have poured the rum more fluently, reaching for a tumbler, mid-afternoon.
“Are you ready?” asked Joffrey again. “You are a little slow on your feet this day. I shall have to keep an eye on you as we gallop onwards.”
“Yes, you impatient cousin of mine. I am certainly ready. Those dogs are making quite a racket. I am actually as ready as ever, and I do hope Bailey will keep up with my steed. I brought Bronson, so you might have to outstretch him a tad to keep up with us.”
“Nonsense, Bailey is a beast in his own right. I shall give him my passion to move forward, and he will bring us home in a winning finish.” Joffrey laughed and patted the Duke on the back.
The Duke walked outside to see the other men readying themselves. They seemed keener than he was, and his greenness moved into sheer excitement as he mounted his steed, a beautiful gelding called Bronson, which had been his father’s favourite horse too.
“We need to beat Bailey, Bronson. That Joffrey has a big ego, and we need to break it up some, so he can become a little softer for Nancy later this day,” the Duke whispered, keenly laughing under his breath.
Joffrey looked handsome on Bailey, and he seemed as keen as ever to go forward with the hunt as well. They waited for the sound of the horn and then they took off, flying as if they were on-ground birds, needing to be somewhere so evidently and quickly.
The Duke could feel the power of the wonderful beast underneath him; he loved every minute of being on Bronson’s back. The sheer musculature of the creature made his own heart race, and he held on, knowing Bronson had the reins, and understanding how the horse also loved the adrenalin of it all. They cantered now, getting the pace right to go over a brush hedge, watching Joffrey just ahead, with Joffrey also allowing Bailey to have full head to move forward as the creature wished to.
It felt like heaven on earth, listening to the sounds of the hooves pounding wildly on the ground, letting the brilliant flashes of grass and trees flow by as if they were flashes of colourful light that might well belong to a nature painting landscape, by an artist who could modernise such things with flair. It was like dancing on the earth, or flying close to the ground. It was magical, and William longed for the voice of his father, which would usually be calling to him on a day like this one. Hunting had been something his entire family line had done, as if it lived and breathed through their veins, causing a stir in the soul of men like him.
The air rushed past him, and there was a right turn coming up, with about six horses ahead now, including Joffrey on Bailey. The Duke imagined for a moment that his father Jack was there, and he continued with the pace, overtaking Lord Renfrey after the expansiveness of the long turn. He was coming up to meet Joffrey, but he knew he could still stay back and make it work too. In fact, Bronson had real staying power at the end, and he liked letting the horse do all the work, knowing his father had trained it so well. It was like he was just a partaker now, but letting the control stay with his deep-black steed. He could just allow the ‘journey’ to unfold by itself for a change, and not need to push or exert anything, like his opinions in matters of social standing or political viewpoints.
The dogs’ barking was louder now; they had slowed a little as they moved over the small creek bed as if knowing that they were nearer to the prize. The Duke felt the rush of adrenalin as the wind pushed over his face, and he could see Joffrey smiling now, wanting to beat him to the end of the chase.
The Duke felt himself wanting it too, but he knew the horse would solidify it for him, and so he held on as they raced further, cantering and slowing some so as to get through the rocky expanse of creek bed. It was something he longed to do, to ride and hunt as much as possible. It seemed to be his only joy of late, being unable to speak with his father and learn from him more fully. He longed to learn still, but he knew that it was only possible through reading now, and sometimes listening at meetings about political agendas or other social issues which might arise. Some of the men at the hunt also discussed such things, and at an event like this he could enjoy it more fully, being able to share and delight or negate others’ ideas of what should or should not be, or perhaps what might need to be created in the world, including within his own smaller realm, and then beyond that, overseas maybe.
His uncle was a brilliant speaker but had recently moved away last year to be married in France. The Duke had been invited there, but Caroline his new wife had seen to it that her presence was always lingering, mostly so that he and James barely could see each other, as if she were jealous of their camaraderie somehow. It was an annoyance the Duke found astonishing as it had occurred in front of his very eyes, being treated as though he was, in some way, in the ‘middle’ of their marriage. He had travelled there with his father to be polite and enjoy the companionship fully but had been kept from speaking much at all. Caroline had made sure of it, in the Duke’s mind most definitely. In fact, the Duke and his father had ventured out to the expanse of the French countryside to see them, and the whole stay had been boring and insignificant, on a mass scale.
The Duke had often pondered over ever finding a woman to marry someday. He was not taken with the usual type who liked to gossip, nor did he enjoy the alpha women who seemed to keep their husbands on leashes like an animal that needed to be tethered and broken in to their ‘exacting’ standards. There was another type of woman he had seen more rarely though, within the community, and it was this type he found the most interesting. They listened intently to others’ views, and only spoke when something intelligent was good enough to come forward.
The Duke’s own mother had been the same; he could discuss things with Agnes, quite similarly to how he did with his own father, and she had taken notice of Jack’s (his father’s) interests and social views from a very young age. It was a usual conversation starter after dinner, where Agnes would act as a very reverent opponent, being able to come forward with her views, whether they were subtle or not. And also with Jack being happy to entertain them as if she were a man that he might speak to within a social occasion.
His mother, Agnes, had a love for anything humane, including the state of the poor in London, and she wished the government might see that money versus one’s ‘lot’ in life should not be a point of unnecessary suffering. She longed to help them, and many of her ideas had fallen on deaf ears due to the greed of most of the elites who could only think about stuffing themselves and their own pockets, albeit most of the time.
About four years ago, Agnes had asked Jack to take her to the poorest parts of London, and then into Ireland for a time as well. The state of the places they had seen had fuelled her passion for change, and she was beginning to start her own charity to compensate for the severe loss of care via both the governments and society which were associated too distantly, in her openly voiced opinion to Jack and him.
Jack Somerton (William’s father) had listened to his wife, and her plight was something he admired very fully, having also experienced the rawness and desperate need of those much less fortunate than they as they had travelled so extensively for a month. He told William about the atrocities he had seen, and about the very many hungry faces they had looked upon, including children and mothers who might give birth at any moment. William had been shocked by it all, even through words, and had longed to take on his mother’s plight more openly, but had not done much of anything since Agnes had passed three years prior, from a very sudden illness after she got home from her calling to witness the poorest people closest to home.
The doctor had not been sure of what had happened exactly, but it had been something that had given her the fever of a lifetime, and many nights of agonising symptoms she tried to fight but could not. She had openly called for William and Jack to move on with love and compassion for all others, seeking God as a refuge without her, should she die that particular night. And then she did pass on, without any complaint, just a longing for the two men in her life to be alright without her.
“God is with me, Jack, William. I know he needs me there now. I shall not want for anything after this time here, for he is calling me to be home again.” She had paused so beautifully, and then, taking a deeper breath inwardly, she had allowed herself to say one last line. “I love you both until the end of time. You shall find me when you come home.”
The men had cried woefully and for the longest time, both not knowing how to cope without the light of her essence, her loving spirit. They had sat in silence many nights, just staring at her chair as if wishing, imagining that she was there with them. William had tried to move forward and help his father more with the estate, but at times it was pointless because his father was so numb from losing the other half of himself, as he would always call her.
“I do not know how I can go on without the other half of myself,” he would often say. “The leases of our land to the graziers shall have to wait. They will have to speak with Charlie. I do not care for any of it now.”
Charlie had been William’s father’s best friend and associate, a very clever man who knew his head in terms of business, in the purest sense with regards to numbers, and also with the uniqueness of being able to ascertain that little ‘bit’ more, so that the graziers might feel as though they were getting something extra, and so that the Somertons’ fortune was also maintained and wealthily abundant. The real riches were already in the bank, and within the richness of the estate, which held over a thousand acres of suitable land and with trees and creeks and fence lines to be utilised well for many leases. It was a beautiful thing, being able to rely on Charlie. And even nowadays, Charlie had remained an important part, piecing together resources and planning ahead to help with the leases, so that William might look further into his political and compassionate forward movements within the wider community and beyond.
William revered in the feeling of memories flooding back now as if his horse’s galloping through the wind made him seem as though he was in a dream. It was like being in all of the places at once, past, present, and a possible future, as though he had a key to all of it as he rode onwards. Up ahead were the dogs, only a few hundred yards away, having finished the hunt; finding the prize. Joffrey was still ahead and readily looked back with sheer fire in his eyes, knowing that he would win this secret competition that they always had going on. And, in truth, William felt like he was in a world of his own, remembering the past and his own mother’s angelic face, and believing in his father too, even despite the emotional pain of having lost their ‘north star,’ their compass in life.
The Duke finished third for the hunt, and his horse was foaming now, having pushed itself to the limits via its own volition, seeming to enjoy it just as much as his master had. The thoroughbred chestnut being something his father had doted over, spoiling him with time and extra treats, and even chatting with it as if they were the best of friends. William wondered if the horse felt the immense loneliness too, like he did, or perhaps in some other way that he might not fathom, since his father’s passing. For now, Joffrey would be looking to tease him about how slow he had become.
The spread of the lovely afternoon picnic was expansive, on a lawn outside of Reginald’s massive estate. It looked over the wonderment of the strawberry hills, named so because of the trees that looked almost strawberry in colour, and which were dotted high up in the hills as if you might want to pluck them and eat them.
There were more than a hundred guests, with Beau Reginald, a local member of the hunting club placing his financial status into the cause, stating his love for hunting and how it was a much-loved enjoyment, one his own father had enjoyed extensively.
The Duke listened to his speech at the end of the long white table he was seated at. It had wonderful crystal upon it, and silver cutlery as well. There was shade over the expanse of the comforting setting, with the fineness of everything being brought out, all types of foods and fruits as well. It felt good to be amongst other powerful men, and William was glad he could sit at Reginald’s table, with Joffrey on his left and Sarah Reginald to his right. Next to Sarah (Beau’s sister), was another woman, and as soon as the speeches were over with, she began to wag her tongue about the local gossip she thought she could voice.
William was hungry after the long ride and eager to dig into the food that was served so bountifully, as if it flourished from nowhere and enticed you in, delighting the senses through smell and touch and sight. The chicken looked inviting, having been spiced with something he had not tried before, a wonderful taste he savoured as he listened in to the woman he came to understand was called Lady Miranda Parker, having heard Ms Reginald say it to her during the previous conversation.
The Duke listened in to their conversation as he ate so plentifully. “I do not think the Duchess knows of it yet, that her own mother has been scheming behind her back, disempowering her right to choose.”
“I think you might have heard it wrong, Miranda,” said Ms Reginald. “I think the Duchess was lovely, and her mother is just being careful so she makes a good choice about it.”
“Oh no, she even went behind her back and stated it to the Duke, telling him of her daughter’s want to move to France. Apparently, she has been saving money to visit her so-called cousin, Thomas, but he is not her cousin at all. It really is quite a scandal.”
“Oh, my dearest Miranda, you are insatiable sometimes. What if the rumours are not true? What if the Duchess does not have a secret lover? Would you be happy if it were you being talked about!?”
“It is juicy, though. I love hearing of it because it is like reading a novel that is actually occurring in real time. And the best part is we know who the characters are already. It is quite a scandal that I am delighted to hear more on. In fact, Ms Pringle, Agatha, she is quite new to London, but she is the Duchess’ cousin, and she stated, quite openly, that there is no cousin called Thomas at all. And, I know she would know because she is the Duchess’ cousin.”
“Well, the plot thickens,” said William, in jest, making his presence known. “I did not mean to overhear you speaking, but I am quite close and in your vicinity.”
The two women turned suddenly, and Lady Miranda smiled as if she was contented that someone else had heard the gossip. Her wide grin made that fact quite obvious, but the Duke’s eyes moved to Ms Reginald’s, and he noticed the greenness in them.
“Duke William Somerton; pleased to meet you. I do believe you are Beau’s sister, is that correct, and I overheard that you are Lady Miranda Parker?”
The Duke noticed Ms Reginald’s nod, it was graceful and it was lovely too. Miranda was already interrupted by a woman next to her, and so she continued towards her, sparking another gossip-ridden point of conversation. The blue on Ms Reginald’s dress highlighted her brown hair, and William felt as though he had known her for a lifetime. It was hard to explain.
“Yes, I am Ms Sarah Reginald, and my dear friend Ms Parker is already interrupted, it seems, and I do apologise on her behalf.” Her voice became a whisper as she continued, “Lady Agatha can be quite demanding.” The Duke noticed the light in her eyes as she spoke truthfully, and with a hint of cheekiness. He smiled back before taking a large mouthful of wine, and he was taken with her presence and by her voice almost immediately.
“What gossip would you wish to discuss as we eat our luncheon?” he asked, curious to know her mind furthermore.
“Gossip? Oh no, I much prefer talking about humanitarian issues or the plight of our strangers further abroad, and perhaps the problems within our own country, the personal ones.”
“Really?” he asked. “But surely some Earl that you know or perhaps a Lady is having some secret affair, or moving locality to steal another’s fortune from right under their nose, or perhaps wearing a mask of sorts to tell a lie of some kind?”
The Duke watched Ms Reginald’s expression as it became enchanting to him. He noticed the corner of her lip curling up into a half smile, seeming to be amused by the words he had spoken. Her head tilted to the side and then the smile came, outwardly showing her mood now.
He could imagine the likeness of his mother in her somehow, a certain calmness that seemed a little hard to explain inwardly so. He was not sure what it was. He could not ascertain whether or not it was her skin, her hair, her eyes, or perhaps a combination of all of it. It made him feel so at peace as he looked towards her, as if her energy was receiving his, in a way he had only ever felt with the warmth of his wonderful mother. He was waiting to know his feelings more as he listened to her speaking, and so he might know why he enjoyed it so.
“No, well I think that perhaps, yes possibly that might be occurring around us, and I am sure that Ms Parker will enlighten me when it does, but I am much more concerned with the plight of people and how they deal with their day to day lives and emotions. There are so many who never really come to know themselves and that wounding or reverie in a person is what intrigues me the absolute most. I like talking about issues in society and also within the field of psychology. The plight of a human is of great importance.
“How very fascinating indeed,” said the Duke, very caught up in her words and the feeling of her, the warmth.
“Yes, it really is,” said Ms Reginald. “Please forgive me, but I must go and help my brother. It certainly is very lovely to meet you. Go easy on the wine if you can, it is full strength and might have you quite talkative this day.”
“I am banking on it,” he said. “I love to talk about important things.”
“Yes, I can imagine you do. Goodbye for now, Duke Somerton.”
“Please, call me William.”
“Goodbye, William, it was certainly a pleasure to meet you,” Ms Reginald said kindly.
The Duke was so taken by her, and it seemed strange to him at that moment really. He seemed slightly lost when she left him there, even though he had so many others to talk with, and about an array of subjects or topics he might like to contest, explore further or even summarise at great length, as he usually would do. In fact, he could not remember having ever wanted to keep talking to another woman, not other than his own intellectually-sound mother. But right there and then he felt the pull towards her, even though she had to take her leave from his presence.
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After his father’s death, excessive drinking and gambling have become everyday habits for Duke Somerton. Τhe grief had been unbearable, and the loneliness had overcome him. An empty bottle was his only company, while his life the past few months has been a blurred memory. Duke Somerton will deny the consequences of his own afflictions until he finds himself in a battle he cannot face alone. When a fiery Lady will appear aiming to drag him out of his misery, will he give himself a second chance?
Sarah Egerton, secretly known as Lady Villanere to the elite, is desperately unhappy with how boring her life has become as of lately. When she sees the Duke’s plight, she instantly thinks that it’s the perfect opportunity to extend her counselling services with his case. Her task will prove to be more challenging than she expected as the Duke is certain that he needs no help, especially from a woman’s hand. Will she be able to give him his old life back?
When reality hits him, he will still be judgemental of her methodologies which seem to tease and even belittle him at times. The Duke’s health is her main focus, but she finds her overflowing feelings for him too hard to ignore. They are a match made in heaven, but will they finally allow their connection to unfold into all of its glory and madness? And is love enough to keep these two passionate lovers together against all odds?
“Taming the Wicked Duke” is a Regency romance full of passion, forbidden love and adventure. If you like powerful heroines and mysterious lovers, then you’ll adore Lucy Langton’s Regency tale.
“Taming The Wicked Duke” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.