The Lord Who Played [Flemington #2]

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XV. Supper of Suffering

The supper was simple as Darla was trying to keep her mouth full all the time so that she didn't have to communicate with people around the table. Especially to the person that was sitting next to her that night.

James was quiet as well when he occasionally answered some of the questions that her father asked him about his occupation right now. She thought that James was only spending his inheritance at the brothels and gambling halls. But it would seem that James has some secrets that even Darla did not about.

Especially when he told them that he was a faculty at the academy in Hamptor.

"Yes, I will be going to Hamptor again after this visit. I'm just here because grandma asked me to accompany her," James said as he was sipping on his wine. Darla was eating the roast beef that the Cook has prepared for their dinner.

"Oh? That is something that the peers had never done before," her mother said as Darla was looking at her. She was surprised to hear that James would rather work than spending his family fortune. After all, Flemington was one of the oldest families in Caga and recently, the heir Lord Magnus Flemington has married the princess of the realm.

Surely, their family's fortune has increased.

"Well, it was something that I love to do and share my knowledge with the younger generation. I think not many people do what I did and I think it would be a shame that the peers would overlook such possibilities at the academy," James told them honestly before Darla was clearing her throat to gain the attention of the table.

"Well, that was something that I would never see you do in your future, my lord," she said as she turned to look at James. He was surprised that Darla was talking to him. James cleared his throat.

"I would love to proceed with everyone's expectations. Won't you agree, Darla?" James said her name as if they were besties. I show you who's your bestie, she thought before Darla smiled sweetly as she was forking the meet with a little too much force.

"Oh, I know how much you like that. In fact, I would not be surprised if you quit as well," Darla said before she bit into the meat, smirking at James. The young gentleman was staring at her but she can see that his jaws were clenched before he was focusing on his plate again.

Darla: one. James: undone.

The supper proceeded as usual with its 3 courses; soup, the main course then dessert. The dessert for that night was custard and Darla had missed the custard that the Cook made for her every night just because she was obsessed with it when she was little.

Nothing has changed from that perspective.

Her father was listening to her mother and the old dowager talking about fabrics and the latest fashion amongst the ladies of gently bred that she saw in Scatterford.

"Can you imagine the scandal that I think Lady Ashborne would bring to us? That ridiculous dress was something that should be burned in a fire pit," her mother spoke before a maid was coming into the dining hall and brought a tray of tarts that Darla almost forgot she bought on her way home.

"Oh! I must have forgotten it in my saddlebag. Thank you," she said as she was looking at the tarts that the maid put at the center of the table. She bought 100 tarts but the maid only put 50 of them on the tray.

The rest should be shared among the staff as well.

"I picked this up at one of the vendors back at the outskirt of Square Union. I tasted and it was so good that I have brought some home," Darla said as her family and visitors were taking one tart each. Then, they bit into them.

"Oh my!" her mother exclaimed. "That was the best tart I ever tasted. Did you remember who was the vendor, darling? I simply must ask her to make for our ball later on," Darla stopped in her action as she turned to look at her mother.

"Ball? What ball?" she asked her mother before Lady Lockwood ignored her and she was talking with Lady Ashley. She turned to look at her father and the baron just shrugged at her.

"Better be prepared, Darla. You might be getting hitch from the ball but I would doubt that considering that you're still ugly little duckling," James murmured to her before she turned to look at her mortal enemy and glared. James smirked before the baron was clearing his throat.

"I think I will retire early now," Lord Lockwood said before his wife was assisting him. Then, her former mentor complained that she will turn in for the night because of a headache. Darla scoffed inwardly as she knew that Lady Ashley was trying to get her alone with James.

As if I will stand to be in his only presence here, she thought and as if reading her mind, her father told the rest of the group should enjoy some music in the painting room. There will be some hot tea and scones to be enjoyed there.

"Well, I think they are trying to make us kill each other earlier," James stated as he was escorting Darla to the painting room as the adults were looking at them. Darla glared at his side profile before she glanced over her shoulder. The adults were watching.

"Do you think they machinate some matchmaking?" Darla asked the rake before James shrugged at her.

"I don't know. Even if they want to machinate our matchmaking together, I don't think you would accept my prospect in marriage. You swore that you will kill me in my sleep if I ever shared your bed, my lady," James said before they entered the painting room.

The fire was crackling in the fire pit and the room was warm. The rain was still splattering against the window as the twilight skies were shining with stars above them. Darla sighed since it was her favorite time when she spent her days at the estate before she went out to venture to Norkins.

"Shall we?" James asked her as he was asking her to take her seat. She took her seat at the divan before James took the sofa that was opposite to her. She served the tea before James was picking up a sconce and tasted them.

"I like your tarts better," he said after Darla put one cube of sugar in her tea and stirred them. She turned to look at James before she arched her eyebrow at him.

"Oh? I don't think that you have the decency to do so politely with me, my lord. It shook me to my bones," Darla said before James was smirking at her.

"I can be polite if I wanted to,"

"Only if that lady would pull up her skirts and spread her legs for you," she retorted before sipping on the hot tea. It cooled her down as she was wiggling her toes in her satin slippers before James was clearing his throat to get her attention.

"So, any gentleman that asked for your hands in marriage?" he asked before Darla was looking at James. Was he trying to know my marriage market or was he trying to make fun of me? she thought before Darla told what he would expect from her.

"I don't have time for the marriage market. I am busy with something else that has been the entire focus of my life right now," she said before she nibbled on the sconce and thought that the tarts earlier were better.

"I would have guessed that no gentleman would want to take you as their wife. You're too...wild and free than most of the ladies that they consider," James said before Darla snapped her head toward him.

"What do you mean?"

"What I meant is that you have been given freedom from an earlier age than you thought you could do something without any help from any lord. They would consider you as someone wild and not fit to enter the polite society as their wife. That's what I would consider anyway," James said before he smirked and sipped on the hot tea.

The nerve of a lad! Darla thought furiously before she put her teacup on the saucer and stared at her mortal enemy that has the nerve to criticize her lifestyle.

"And what about you, my lord? I heard that you still frequent the gambling halls and brothels even when you told us that you're academia now," Darla poked at James and it was working. His jaws clenched before Darla was nibbled on the sconce again.

"It's different for a gentleman. You are a lady and there is a certain age that was considered suitable for the marriage market before they hit the shelves. And I know that you will hit the shelves sooner rather than later considering your beauty as well, Darla," James said before Darla's blood boiled.

"Is that so?" she challenged him before James smirked.

"I know so," he said before the thunder boomed outside that reflected her mind at the moment.

"So, let me get this straight, my lord. It is okay for the gentlemen to go around, dallying with whoever they wanted and then marry someone that was not from those groups so that they can enter the polite society," she said before James nodded at her.

"That is correct,"

"However, if a lady wanted to pursue her cause for the greater good of her community, she would be labeled as someone that is wild and too much freedom that will drive her marriage prospect away and will be put on the shelves by those same gentlemen as well,"

"No, that's not what I—"

Darla stood up abruptly as her skirts rustled around her. Her amber eyes were focused on her mortal enemy with new despise even after 6 years of falling apart.

"Oh, no. I understood exactly what you meant, my lord. Now, if you excuse me, I would love to go and bring my shelf life away from you so you will have a better marriage prospect than me. Good evening, my lord," she said as she walked toward the entrance as her skirts swooshed with every movement.
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