The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Eight Crestwell Abbey, Cumberland, April 17th, 1816 Rowena laid both of her hands on his beloved face. “Alex, I love you so much. I now know that what I felt for Johnston was not love at all, only infatuation. You are my true and only love, Alex, my strong, handsome husband.” Alex had only one question. “What can you have seen in me to have you love me, Rowie?” She had only one answer. “I have seen you, my love. You, the man with the very large heart filled to the brim with love and commitment for everything and …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Eight Crestwell Abbey, Cumberland, April 17th, 1816 Racing after his wife, Alex found her on the verge of closing the door to their rooms. For a few seconds, she stared at him, her cheeks still wet with tears. He stood absolutely still and kept quiet, gazing at her with what he hoped was all the love he felt for her. It was time, he knew. She must know at this very moment that his feelings for her were true and deep. He could not force her to let him in, both to the room or to her heart. She …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Seven (completed) Crestwell Abbey, Cumberland, April 17th, 1816 All this was so unexpected for Rowena that she felt completely baffled. When the door flew open to Lord Carlisle and his constables, she was not even startled as much as she was by the new revelations by Bleak. For the sake of prudency, she took a few steps back. “I find all this a bit far-fechted, Mr Bleak,” Lord Carlisle said, his voice calm but firm. “You seem to have taken your solicitor’s task a bit lightly, do you not agree? Why have you not examined the new will more …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Seven Crestwell Abbey, Cumberland, April 17th, 1816 Alex watched Rowena lift the Holland cover from a small escritoire. It was of Louis XV style in delicate rosewood with mother-of-pearl inlay and had multiple small drawers in its upper part. “Of course, you will find nothing in it, my lady,” Philby warned. “The master made certain that everything was removed before we were allowed to take it from the room.” His wife was touching the inlays with a trembling hand, tears in her eyes, so Alex could not help himself. “We could take it with us if you are fond …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Six (completed) Richard Orme rose from the chair next to Roderick’s bed when they entered. “No change, I am afraid. His pulse is getting weaker and his breathing grows more ragged by the minute. I am so sorry, Rowena, but I will not be able to save him.” “Has he regained consciousness during the past hours, Richard?” With an effort, Rowena endeavoured to keep her tears at bay. “No, my dear, not even a flicker of awareness was seen. I did not expect him to, the pain must be excruciating. His body simply shuts down as to not have …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty-One

Chapter Twenty-Six Crestwell Abbey, Cumberland, April 17th, 1816 Rowena looked at her baby girl while the infant was suckling in blissful contentment. Emma was such a beautiful child. Her dark wisps of hair showed the promise of curls and her eyes, still dark blue would be chocolate like her own. No sign of Peter anywhere, for which she was immensely grateful. Next to her sat Lady Petronella, chuckling and smiling. “That little one grows prettier each day, Rowena. She is positively thriving and quite smart, have you noticed? She already smiles to all and sunder and knows all too well …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Sixty

Chapter Twenty-Five (completed) Alex and Porter entered the grand hall at Crestwell Abbey with Carlisle who immediately signalled to his housekeeper. The tall, thin, middle-aged matron by the name of Petersen directed them to their rooms, where she had their baths ready. He had not felt that filthy since he returned from a battlefield during his army days, Alex mused. The complete exhaustion was equally comparable to that of a soldier coming back from a battle, the numbness rivalling with the depressive apathy that followed the initial euphoria of surviving. One did never recover to the full of having killed. …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Nine

Chapter Twenty-Five He must be losing his bleeding bloody mind, there was no other plausible explanation for it. Rowena, I love you. He had not spoken it aloud, thank heaven for that small mercy, but to even think the blasted word? Love? Alex was certain that, apart from his poor, silly brother, he had never, ever loved anyone. Love was a useless, superfluous and completely nasty emotion that one should avoid at all costs. Love had the ability to overpower one, to wrestle the last bit of sanity from one’s mind and leave him an empty shell. Leave him stranded …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Four (completed) The two men doused themselves with a bucket of water, then tied a wet towel over their noses and mouths. Alex leapt up the steps, Porter following hot on his heels. The hall was large enough not to be completely filled with smoke but from the library door a thick, dark- grey smoke literally spouted into the hall. Alex ran into the room and ducked low to avoid the intense heat that struck him. He looked around and what he saw was not exactly reassuring. Some of the furniture was fiercely ablaze, as were the rugs and …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Four  As they thundered along the hilly countryside road, Alex urged Porter on while kneeing Titan fiercely. He had to call upon every ounce of battle experience just to remain aloof enough to plan ahead. Panic was lurking in the dark corners of his heart, as if a dire foreboding was waiting to spring forth. Rowena was in danger, he could quite literally feel it. In no way would he allow that she be harmed, it was unthinkable. “Major!” Porter’s deep voice boomed him to a standstill. “What?” He scowled at his batman who was glaring at him from …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Five

  Chapter Twenty-Three (continued) Ketteridge, Leicestershire, April 12th, 1816 All in all, Alex was satisfied of his afternoon’s work. Mr Beaumont had pleaded with him to wait until Lord Carlisle would be there to back him up against Bleak solely by pulling rank over the man. It was vital for them to know what happened to the late Lord Daveston’s will before they took measures against Roderick Daveston. Alex would have wanted to go straight away to the shabby little office Bleak kept on the outskirts of town. He would have lifted him off his feet by his neck and …

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Fifty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Three Ketteridge, Leicestershire, April 12th, 1816 It was quite the company leaving Ketteridge House a few days later. There was the travelling coach driven by the coachman-cum-stablemaster, Thomas Anderson, with Rowena, Emma, and Alex. Gregson Mortimer, first footman, was in attendance. A large cart driven by Frank Whitman, Anderson’s head stable boy, carried their luggage, while Porter and David Howe, second stable boy, drove the second coach with the nanny, Bessie Cooper, and lady’s maid Trixie. Reese Mortimer, second footman, stood guard here. The journey promised to be long with some two-hundred-and twenty miles to cover. They would travel …

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