My Lovely Moonlight Bride: Episode 10
When the lady had returned, he’d noticed the reddishness on her cheeks; something had happened between those two. Had they kissed? Had they made love? Beau didn’t know for sure. But one thing was certain, if Aldrich found a wife, it would validate his position as Duke of Wandsworth. But if he didn’t find a wife in six months, there was a chance to overthrow him.
Beau also knew about Aldrich’s bet with the baron, whose inheritance he had won. It was common knowledge that the Baron had no inheritance; Beau thought he could use this to his advantage.
For now, he had a piece of information that he would work with. He knew Lucy didn’t like him. She didn’t appreciate his presence either. He bugged her. But he was fine with that. Lucy wasn’t engaged to any man, she only lied to put him off, and he had no problem with that. She did a good thing by lying. He would come between her and Aldrich.
“That is fine by my milady. The man is a very lucky one.” Beau smiled and bowed.
“Yes he is.” Lucy swallowed the liquor from the glass. Beau waved at her, before leaving. Just before he stepped outside the hall, he slipped a note into the butler’s hand.
“Give this note to the Baron of Ox-Dale, Elan Wesley.”
Accompanying the note were some gold coins which made the butler more than eager to accept this errand.
“I will do as you have said.”
One after the other, the men that sought her attention deserted her and she was left alone. Ariana quickly searched the hall for her friend. She found Lucy easily; her dress glowed like a sea of chandeliers. Ariana also noticed the Duke was at a corner discussing with Lucy’s elder brother. It made her wonder what those two had in common. Aldrich was a successful Duke, and Elan was a failed Baron.
Soon, she reached the table stand.
“You never drink, are you alright?” From where she stood, she could smell the scent of alcohol.
Lucy’s heart jolted. She had been too deeply immersed in her thoughts to notice the presence of her friend. The glass almost fell from her hands, but she was able to hold it back. The drink spilled on her pretty dress.
“Did I scare you?” Ariana watched her friend carefully. She had never seen Lucy in this kind of mood before; something was wrong. Her friend wasn’t herself.
Lucy emptied the last contents of the glass and pressed her lips together. This was her moment of confession. It was now or never. Tears stung her lashes, and her lips began to quaver.
“You have been like a sister to me. I didn’t mean to betray you. I swear to you Ariana, I never knew he was the one. Please forgive me,” Lucy begged.
Ariana scoffed, she was lost.
“What are you talking about?”
“Can I have another glass?” Lucy lost the courage to speak, so she quickly called to the waiter to serve her.
“Hell you are not. Do not disgrace yourself, you are a lady.” Ariana slapped her hands and fired the butler an angry stare.
“What is it Lucy? Talk to me.”
A tear scurried down her left cheek. Lucy found it difficult to stare into Ariana’s eyes, even while confessing.
“I kissed Aldrich Claiborne, the Duke of Wandsworth!” Lucy blurted out. Ariana released her hand immediately and stepped back.
At the far end of the hall, Aldrich engaged Elan in a conversation. Aldrich never knew the baron had such a lovely sister, and he was very much interested in her. Though he was meeting her for the first time, he liked her. Lucy was very different from other high born ladies he had met. She was humble, and she smiled often. She wasn’t a snub either.
“How did you see my win Elan? I know you thought I would lose. You have always had a eye for my wealth since you lost yours through gambling. But I failed your test.”
The Baron was quiet. He knew that Aldrich was right. He’d thought Aldrich would fail, so he would give him part of his riches. But the plan had backfired.
“You just got lucky Aldrich, no need to brag.” Elan replied in a gruff tone.
The Duke simply laughed, he knew that his win had hurt Elan.
“I shall ask for my inheritance soon. If you fail to redeem your vow to me, the whole of London shall hear about your failure.” The Duke threatened, and Elan paled. He had no inheritance to give to the Duke, and he couldn’t make use of his sister’s. Lucy would never forgive him.
This was the smartest angle he could attempt, “you cannot risk exposing us like that. We are men of class and we shouldn’t be seen at gaming houses. Would you rather lose your honour?”
Aldrich knew Elan was trying to escape; but he wouldn’t give the Baron that chance, especially now that he was attracted to his sister.
“I am ready to risk anything Elan. In a fortnight, I shall ask for my payment. Everyone knows that I am a man of my word.”
The Duke strolled away majestically. He had not felt happy like this for a very long time. Suddenly, the void of his father’s death was filled with the birth of a new feeling. He wanted Lucy. He couldn’t wait to see her again. One thing he was certain of was that she had enjoyed that kiss they’d share under moonlit sky. He would seek her out and kiss her again.
Elan felt a sharp pain in his chest. He couldn’t allow the Duke subject him to such public disgrace. He had to beg Lucy for her help.
Just as he was about leaving for his carriage, the chubby butler moved towards him with a paper in hand.
“Here, Lord Clairborne sent me to deliver this.”
This message got Elan confused, “but I just met with the Duke. What more does he want?”
“I mean the blue eyes Clairborne. Beauregard.” The butler explained and added vivid description of the man who had given him the note.
The Baron had seen Beau before, but they had never spoken to each other. Of what purpose was this meeting? He couldn’t wait to hear it.
The friends were back in the carriage, and it was taking them to Islington. Lucy died a thousand times over. Since her confession, Ariana had not spoken a word to her. This showed that her friend was secretly in love with the Duke, but she had only been pretending. Lucy felt bad for hurting her like that. Maybe she shouldn’t have confessed. Maybe she was wrong.
Unknown to her, Ariana wasn’t upset that she had kissed the Duke. She was only angry with her own life. Ariana felt nothing for Aldrich. Fine, the Duke was a very good looking man, and he was wealthy too but she wasn’t interested in him.