Chapter 32

Screenshot-118Vaughn was staring at her as if he had just seen a ghost, his expression blank and yet confused.

“So… you really don’t remember anything?”

“Must you keep asking me that? I feel mortified enough as it is!”

Screenshot-82Vaughn turned his head, a wave of thick, ebony hair falling over an eye as he did so. Estelle watched in puzzlement and utter surprise as seriousness suddenly fell upon his features.

“… Sorry.”

Screenshot-72The Viscount heaved a deep sigh and walked slowly to the window. He turned from her to stare out of the glass plane so that she could not read his expression.

“I… really am sorry, you know.”

Screenshot-13Vaughn long remained silent. When he finally did turn back to her, Estelle could not help but swallow. With his cravat undone, sleeves rolled up and waistcoat unbuttoned, he appeared a perfect rake.

She imagined many women had seen him like this. Had felt this way.

Screenshot-19Estelle vehemently tried to ignore the fluttering in her gut.

“… what are you apologising for?”

Still, her voice came out a little more… unsteady than she would have liked.

Screenshot-92The Viscount’s expression remained unchanged, but suddenly Estelle wished she had not spoken, though she could not say why.  For a long, tense moment, he merely looked at her, dark eyes lingering.

Screenshot-50Abruptly he smirked and Estelle recognised that look. It was purposive and appropriately devastating. He about to say something calculated and evasive.

That expression… it reminded her of when they first met. She did not like it.

Screenshot-4“Why didn’t you tell me it was your birthday when you visited my house?”

“I… didn’t suppose you would care to know.” Estelle answered cautiously.

“And why did you suppose that?”

Screenshot-80Estelle sighed and sat down on the bed again.

“Because this is the first time we have held a conversation for weeks. I didn’t think it was appropriate.”

Screenshot-30“Ah, of course, propriety.”

The Viscount chimed in, tone light with amusement.

“My old nemesis.”

Screenshot-97Though tempted to challenge him on that little comment, Estelle found herself simply scowling and opted to take the path less troden.

“Indeed.”

Screenshot-79“Well, if you’re curious with regards to your little bump, Charles has informed me that you received some news from a solicitor that shocked you somewhat. Apparently you fell and hit your head on an antique mahogany table.”

“I… see.”

Screenshot-5It was all Estelle could manage, simply unable to remember a solicitor, an antique mahogany table or anything to do with the event.

The whole thing was rather infuriating.

Screenshot-17She closed her eyes, squinted into the darkness behind her eyelids, reaching out for any clues that placed her here in the guest bedroom of Charles Landgraab’s home. Anything at all that might have happened with a solicitor…

…but what on earth did a solicitor want with her?

Screenshot-89Caught up in her thoughts as she was, she barely noticed the Viscount approach the bed. It was only when she caught the scent of fresh cut grass, summer wind and that elemental male musk that she realised he had sat down beside her.

Screenshot-85Estelle looked away, resolute to avoid his gaze at such close proximity. She tried to summon a degree of aversion to him, but whenever she did in its place rose a longing she simply could not deny.

Screenshot-18All she had to do was keep calm, not panic, and avoid looking at the Viscount at all costs. She could do that.

… couldn’t she?

Screenshot-124She turned toward him. In an instant, something ignited between them. His lips parted, as if to say something, do something, Estelle heard his intake of breath, saw his eyes dart down to her mouth and back again.

Close as they suddenly were, she could feel the heat of his body…

16444638-38e9-45c5-866d-6fbc99fcfbb7_zps840d5019She suddenly remembered what it was like to have his hands on her, drifting over her skin, setting her flesh afire with need.

His kisses, so soft and tender and yet demanding, devastating….

Screenshot-27Abruptly he stood and walked, without another word, to the door. Estelle blinked wildly. Then, she remembering a question she had awoken with, she jump to her feet.

“Vaughn—!”

She had to ask.

Screenshot-22His hand on the doorknob stilled. His expression was intense, concentrated yet unsettled.

He said nothing, waiting for her to continue.

Screenshot-97“Did you.. did you speak to me when I asleep? Only I heard a voice saying the most beautiful things and I thought… I thought it sounded like…”

She swallowed. Breathed.

“It was you…. wasn’t it?”

Screenshot-119The Viscount stared at her. His mouth opened, and for a moment, Estelle thought he meant to answer a question with a question. Instead he simply nodded her affirmation.

“I… thank you.”

Screenshot-15Vaughn held her eyes a moment more.

“You’re welcome.”

Then he abruptly left the room.

Screenshot-24Estelle could only stare. Who was this man?

He was a conceited beast of a man, one who invaded her life, her dreams and plans unapologetically. He infuriated her. He complicated everything and thought nothing of it!

Screenshot-96… yet he was the same man who had comforted her in a storm, one that had saved her from ruin.

He was the same man who had told her she was beautiful and had spoken poetry so softly that it had moved her in ways she did not even want to admit.

Screenshot-71Who was this man?

Who was he?

Screenshot-108“Which waistcoat would you like to wear today, M’Lord?” When no response was uttered, the valet approached sheepishly. “M’Lord?”

“Hm? What?”

“I was just asking your Lordship which waistcoast he would like to wear today…?”

Screenshot-19Vaughn absolutely did not care. In fact, he did not care to such an extent that he was willing to forgo waistcoast and overcoats and any other bloody coat that there was.

He shook his head distractedly. “You choose.”

Screenshot-27“Very good, my Lord.”

The valet confidently marched over to the dresser and began to root through a selection of fine waistcoats in silence. For the past four years he had dressed Vaughn most mornings, ran his errands in the afternoons and was indeed the very same man who carried him safely to bed on his most inebriated of evenings.

Screenshot-44“Is there something on your mind today, Vaughn?”

The Viscount physically jolted out of his thoughts, blinking wildly as if he’d just been shaken out of unconsciousness. He turned to see Charles lingering in the doorway.

Screenshot-72Charles stepped further into the room. “There’s nothing on your mind then?”

Vaughn flashed a tight smile. “Nothing at all.”

“Nothing at all?” Charles repeated. “Not even thoughts of a certain woman sleeping soundly in the guest room at the end of the corridor?”

Screenshot-38Vaughn caught Charles’ expression in the mirrored glass and found it odd, but he chose to ignore it. He was, after all, already choosing to ignore several things which were obstinately weighing on his mind…

screenshot-124_zps61e53bc6Namely, the moment he had shared with Estelle the day before, and the truth he withheld from her. After swearing to himself that he would apologise to her, treat her as nothing but a companion… he had felt a surge of lust for her so acute he could barely stand it.

Screenshot-113No… it was not simply lust, need, desire; there was no word that could encompass how he had felt just then. As he had stared into her eyes, the feeling that came over him was so peculiar that he saw no other option but to flee.

Screenshot-16He’d spent the rest of the day drinking the Landgraab’s good brandy, trying to rationalise his reaction.  And why ever had the governess been even here? What was the reason for it? The truth of it? 

What had she been doing, these past few months, to become a guest at Charles’ manor?

Screenshot-11He had sat there drinking for hours, for the time it took for the light to darken. He sat there mute and aching and thinking furiously in the effort to figure it all out.

What it meant. What they meant. What everything meant.

Screenshot-54“About Miss Murphy,” Charles announced. “Your behaviour has been reprehensible. I cannot think what to say about how you deceive that poor woman, and lead her on, so I will simply say that, under my roof you shall behave honourably in every way.”

Screenshot-36The words fell into a stretch of confused, angry frustration.

“There’s been a mistake here,” Vaughn tried to sound competent and calm. “Miss Murphy and I need to straighten things out. By talking together, privately. I assure you, for your peace of mind, that is not at all what you seem to think it is.”

Screenshot-103“This is far more than a misunderstanding. Bear in mind who you are. If you were a stable-hand you would be free to court who you wish, but you are not, Vaughn. You are heir to a Dukedom and, as such, must observe certain customs, and practice certain… discretions.”

Screenshot-35“It is easy to practice virtue from a distance.” Vaughn replied quietly.

“Who are you to stand on moral high ground and point me out as an imperfect creature? What you condemn you did yourself.”

Screenshot-45Grey eyes lifted and met Vaughn’s squarely and held. For a moment, Vaughn saw past Charles’ quietness and distractibility, into a soul more capable of pain and vaster regret than he had ever suspected.

“How do you think I could ever forget that?”

Screenshot-52“You and I have grown up amongst society’s gossip and intrigues, Vaughn. Estelle has not. Will you let it be said she is your concubine? Or worse, your whore? She will find herself an outcast among politely nodding people.”

With each statement, Vaughn felt the shock go deeper.

Screenshot-105“I’m not intentionally being cruel to you, Vaughn, but it far better to be cruel to you now than to let that poor woman suffer a lifetime of casual cruelty. I know you meant no harm, but we must now see that no harm will come of it. You’ve have behaved as a thoughtless boy.”

Screenshot-61“There are those within the ton who you are not on amicable terms with – I suspect you know who they are. If you expose her this way, Miss Murphy will become their victim for their aims of hurting you.”

Vaughn was rendered silent by the raw truth behind those words.

screenshot-14_zpsaa45439bHis mind drifted to Irving Linwood, with his slimy smiles and sly witticisms. Vaughn thought about how he could turn and speak softly to his hangers-on at a dinner and all would smirk to one another, adding soft, but acid-tongued comment’s to the lordling’s criticism.

Screenshot-41Charles continued gravely: “Think carefully on how much you are willing to offer, Vaughn. Some women are willing to take what a man can offer and content themselves with it. For others, it is not enough – and it will never be enough. Miss Murphy is, or was, a woman of prospects – she is well-educated. I expect that, with help, she will be able to re-establish herself.”

Screenshot-79“I shan’t let what happened to Lily happen to Miss Murphy.

I will not let it happen, Vaughn. Not again.”

Screenshot-90Vaughn doesn’t understand this constant breaking and reforming between the two of them, but he doesn’t ask either.

He lets it lie there, unspoken between them. Just as he knows Charles will.

Screenshot-30Both are aware that this situation building between them is nothing less than a lit fuse. Vaughn wasn’t even sure know who held the wrong end, anymore.

His valet glanced between the two Lords uneasily.

A/N: Super late, super delayed but there you have it: chapter 32! Tardiness aside, I’ve clocked up 2300+ words here. That’s a lot of words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

12 responses to “Chapter 32

  • LilyParker

    I’ve missed my boys! ♥ Argh! When are you going to let Vaughn know the truth about Estelle? Charles is really winding him up. I understand Charles’ concerns about Estelle and the reactions of the ton. Sounds like he has a case of deja vu and believes Lily’s death was no accident. People can be so cruel.

    Vaughn is his Charles’ best friend, and Charles loves Estelle. Doesn’t he want them both to be happy, especially now that there’s a baby in the mix? Doesn’t the solicitor’s news open up that possibility?

    • Becki

      But… if I reveal it… surely that’ll be the end of the story? You can’t want that! I don’t!

      I can understand your reaction, but Charles isn’t really baiting him per se (although he was all-guns-blazing in this chapter). I tried to make it like he was… testing the water. Thing is, Charles knows Vaughn REALLY well: he knows his womanising history, that he tends to run from problems and how he’ll (probably) react. He’s just pissed this time because 1) he likes/loves (depending on your interpretation) the girl and 2) it’s all ended up on his doorstep.

      Complicating matters is the fact that Estelle doesn’t remember about the will, or even that she’s pregnant! So he can’t exactly tell Vaughn… yet.

      Anyhu, essay over. Thanks for reading!

      • LilyParker

        OK, you’ve got me there. I don’t want the story to end!!!

        IMO, Charles looooves Estelle. He just knows Estelle loves Vaughn, so it’s one-sided and pointless to pursue her. I suppose he’s in an awkward situation. I should cut him some slack. Man, who’s going to tell her she’s pregnant? That’ll make for some interesting reading. Still hooked, as usual….

  • ERNurse

    Hi there!

    This is my first post here, and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your characters. I got hooked on that first chapter and sat up all night reading the entire series! Estelle and Vaughn, Charles, Marielle, Liddy – they are all just wonderful. Thank GOD for this chapter! I was quite afraid that Vaughn was going to languish at the foot of Estelle’s bed forever 🙂

    • Becki

      Hi!

      Wow, thanks so much for reading (you read through this all in one night?)! Well, I’m glad you enjoyed it that much (at least, so far) 😀

      Haha, of course not! I’m not THAT mean! Anyway, I’ve almost finished typing up chapter 33, so you won’t be waiting soooooooo long for an update this time.

  • parabee27

    Hmm, Charles likes Estelle, Estelle likes Vaughn, and Vaughn loves Estelle back? Interesting… Charles needs to learn that what happened with them, changed their entire relationship (plus the baby!). He’ll probably never get that deep anyway. Late, but worth it. I hope you had a great Chinese New Year!

    • Becki

      OR does Charles love Vaughn…? Lulz, joking aside: I’ve tried keeping Charles’ feelings/thoughts relatively ambiguous. He’s never been POV (that I can recall :P), so it’s always Vaughn’s/Estelle’s (and recently Millerna’s) interpretation of him (as well as the reader’s, of course, which is always interesting).

      I’m sorry for the wait, but 33 is ALMOST done.

      I had an excellent CNY, thanks! Surprisingly, I even received a few red envelopes! But there were tourists… everywhere! Hoping you had an equally amazing time ^^

  • marsar2

    Hmm, it’s interesting to see how these two -rather different- men are in love with the same woman. I liked the conversation between them, it was very descriptive of their respective personalities :D.

    Okay, so I’m not particularly eloquent today, no ramblings from me this time LOL.

    • Becki

      I thought it might be interesting to have that tension between them. The original ‘scene’ was a bit more… explosive, but I toned it down. Vaughn is Charles’ guest right now, after all!

      Haha, yep. You were very concise. Quality not quantity, right? 😉

  • kharliah

    Finally! More Suitor. I was super excited to see a new chapter when I checked your thread today.

    It’s so agonizing reading the scenes between Estelle and Vaughn! One of those stories where you’re screaming “JUST SAY WHAT YOU FEEL” in your head. Love this story – keep up the great work!

  • Becki

    Haha, sorry about the wait! I’m terrible, I know!

    I know, right? But that build-up always makes the get-together all the sweeter in the end! 33 will be up in the next day or so, just adding the finishing touches ^^

  • kharliah

    No worries – life is busy, and like you said, that build up! Haha I always look forward to a new chapter, you could post two a day and I’d be looking for more. Seriously.

    Can’t wait for the next update!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: