He hated all of this. Absolutely any part of it in its entirety.
He mostly dreaded the fact he had to sit through another of his mother’s richly organized dinners now.
At the same time, Callum was glad he wasn’t the one expected to stay until its very end. He didn’t even want to imagine how terrible that would be.
He glanced at Liam- his older brother- who was talking to a sweet, petite blonde girl; her purple dress was covered in frills and ribbons as per the latest fashion.
Callum’s gaze lingered over the lace of her corset for a few moments longer than appropriate before his eyes moved up to the ivory clock on the wall.
The time was showing 9:14.
Callum reminded himself not to check the time so obviously often and looked away, searching for a place to put his eyes on.
The young lady sitting opposite him was still smiling politely, although Callum knew she found his brother as boring as he probably found her in return. However, engaging in conversations to the ones closest to you was- for better or worse- part of the table manners they all had to conform to.
“I haven’t gotten the chance to talk to Sir Charles about his trip to...Where was he again? ” Lord Tennyson was asking, addressing the lady sitting next to him. The woman was almost his parents’ age, and almost as rich as they were.
Lady Oleanna was- in fact- one of the richest women in entre London, so naturally, this was among the reasons why his mother had to send her an invitation to the dinner, regardless of the fact he knew the two women couldn’t stand each other.
Another unwritten rule that had to be followed.
“Oh, dear me, Tennyson. How very kind of you to ask.” Oleanna smiled.
Callum tried not to roll his eyes.
His Father- the Dear Lord Tennyson had one sole reason to inquire after the Sir in question- trade deals.
After the British settled in the province they were now discussing in China, every second lord, baron, merchant, or trader- overall everyone who now belonged to the upper-class society couldn’t wait to lay their hands on the riches, waiting for them there.
“He is still sailing, somewhere near Canton. ” she explained, “He brought me this beautiful necklace as a gift the last time he came back to our summer house in Germany. ”
The women gasped, each of them wanted to check the pretty, greenstone adorning the Lady’s silver necklace.
Callum would categorize the jewel as excessive, but men weren’t supposed to have a say in those matters.
“Great,” his father called the servant standing nearby for more wine and added, “He still trades there, as far as I am informed, correct? ”
And while women did not discuss business, let alone over dinner tables, everyone present knew Lady Oleanna was not just any woman.
She had been the one with the money, her husband - with a title. A great match, considering the current times.
“You are very well informed.” Oleanna said, “But I would suggest, in order not to bore all those charming young ladies here with talks of the hardships of the trade to discuss matters later in the library?”
“Very considerate of you. Well, I suggest we do as advised.”
That was all his father said.
Callum knew Tennyson might have won another partner, or not- that depended on how well he could persuade the woman to cooperate since Charles had refused all connections to his father’s trade years ago.
He glanced at his mother, then.
Lady Charlotte came from a very old English family of royals.
Marrying his father had been another appropriate match at the time; money sought and found money.
Callum was almost sure they had never loved each other, but so far they had respected the deal. In public, at least.
His eyes traveled up to the clock on the wall- it was now nearing ten and he was very much hoping all that parade of fake smiles would end soon, so he could go spend the rest of the night in another company.
Which meant- very far from the Hither end of Portland Place, where the wealthy circles gathered. Callum could find what he was looking for only somewhere in London’s East End.
“You don’t seem to be enjoying your meal, Lord Callum.” The quiet, gentle voice coming from his left said. “Is the dessert not per your taste?”
He still couldn’t understand why young women chased him so relentlessly, but he had learned to quickly get rid of them.
The young lord leaned very close to her, perfectly aware of how inappropriate the move was, and purred in his most silky voice.
“And how would such a fine lady know what my tastes are?”
He looked up and pinned her with his cold blue eyes.
Color immediately blossomed on her snow-white cheeks and she quickly looked down at her small gloved hands, neatly folded in her lap.
Callum leaned back again and saw his brother looking at him, sharp critique in his eyes. The Lord only lifted his glass as a salute in Liam’s direction. He finished his wine and asked the servant to remove the untouched plate in front of him.
The night was just beginning - soon - and he had no intention of spending it in the same company he’d had so far.
At exactly ten he excused himself and apologized for not being able to join the others in the library for more brandy and talks about trade. Liam would have to manage the rest of the evening by himself.
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