Flirting with Ruin

Flirting with Ruin by Marguerite Kaye Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: Flirting with Ruin by Marguerite Kaye Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marguerite Kaye
your mind.’
    ‘Yes. He told us a very consoling story, didn’t he? Oh, don’t look like that. Of course I knew it was a story, but I confess, Rosalind, I’m glad he did. Even though I knew that at the very least he had glossed over some of the facts, it helped. In time I may even come to believe it was the truth. Phaedra already does. And Smithers, my father’s valet, says that His Grace slept with the medal under his pillow.’
    ‘Fraser did not mean to deceive you, Kate.’
    ‘Oh, goodness, I know that. He seems like a very nice man. Is he?’
    She had known him less than two days, but Rosalind had no hesitation in answering. ‘He is,’ she said with conviction, ‘very nice.’
    ‘So what happens now?’
    ‘I think I must return to London. I have intruded on your family’s grief long enough.’
    ‘You plan a fresh start?’
    ‘Whatever that means. A change, certainly.’
    Kate stared down into her empty cup, running her index finger round the rim. ‘There will be a fresh start here at Castonbury Park of sorts, soon enough. Father is not fit to look after the estate, and though he has a sound enough manager, William Everett does not own the land. Jamie is—is dead and Giles is now the heir to the dukedom, whether he likes it or not. He must come back from London and take up the reins before his heritage falls to rack and ruin.’
    ‘I did see Giles, a few weeks ago in London. If you’ll pardon my speaking bluntly, Kate, it is he who has gone to rack and ruin. If you can persuade him to come here…’
    ‘It is not a question of persuasion, but one of duty. And it is our father who must see to that,’ Kate said brusquely. ‘You have not answered my question, Rosalind. Does Major Lennox feature in your future plans?’
    ‘You are as tenacious as a terrier.’
    ‘Yes, I am.’
    Rosalind laughed. ‘The truth? I would like him to, but I have no idea what to do about it. Do you have any advice?’
    ‘The truth?’ Kate pushed back her chair and got to her feet. ‘Don’t be like me, Rosalind. Circumstances, combined with my own very ill judgement, have tied me to a life here doing my family’s bidding. You have the means to escape and no ties to keep you. You can have a life of adventure, excitement, passion, if you wish it, or you can lock yourself away from the world and enjoy a life of solitude. Whatever you do, do it on your own terms. That is true freedom. Now, I must go and see how my aunt. She has agreed that we can put off some of our blacks for greys, and that means we must stop off at Ripley and Hall, the cloth merchants in the village, before visiting the seamstress in Buxton.’ Kate surprised her by giving her a quick hug. ‘Today is a fresh start for all of us, it seems.’
    * * *
    Kate had given her much food for thought, but no concrete advice. Telling herself that it was foolish beyond measure to consider any sort of future based on such a very brief—if also exceedingly intimate—acquaintance, Rosalind took herself off to the village in the hopes of another chance encounter with Fraser. Though when she bumped into him coming out of the Rothermere Arms, she forgot all about feigning surprise and simply smiled up at him like a besotted puppy. ‘You haven’t gone,’ she said inanely.
    ‘Did you think I would, without saying goodbye?’
    ‘No. Yes. No. I don’t really know anything about you.’
    ‘You should know enough to be sure that I wouldn’t just walk away without a word, Rosalind.’
    He was serious, and he was also right. ‘I did. I do.’
    ‘Walk with me, wont you?’ He took her hand and tucked it into his arm. ‘Show me some of the parklands at the big house. Tell me how the family do. Did my visit help?’
    Upon this matter, she was able to reassure him. They walked and talked of everything and nothing, noticing little of Castonbury Park’s rusticated landscaping, nor its extensive formal gardens, nor any of the carefully constructed aspects that the architect

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