The Lord Who Played [Flemington #2]

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XXXI. A Marriage Offer

It has been 2 weeks since Darla came back to Norkins where she was not tainted in any way. She was happy to serve and be the headmistress that the orphanage needed and her problems were forgotten.

Until Baron Laderhurst, Ruben Jenkins came knocking down on her door one day.

Darla was still waiting for James to tell her what was his plan. The plan involved their future together and how Darla will not be a tainted lady anymore in the eyes of polite society.

That went down the drain when Ruben was smiling at Darla as he took his seat in front of her desk.

"Welcome back, Ruben. I hope your adventure is well?" she asked for Darla did not know when her feelings for Ruben were nothing more than a friend. But the baron was not getting any hint of that.

"It is well and we did have something that will make my lost time with you be bearable," Ruben said before he was placing his hand on top of Darla's. She excused herself as she was rubbing her arms before Ruben was pulling his hand away.

"Is something the matter, Darla?" he asked before Darla smiled weakly at him.

"Well, I—"

She did not complete her sentence for Penelope was bursting through the door. Darla and Ruben stood up as Penelope was looking at Darla frantically. She was holding a yellow parchment and something dawned on Darla.

Her father was sick again.

She did not realize that she was neglecting her role to her family as James promised that he will come back for her. But it would seem that only a 'gram will be reaching her from now on.

Was I wrong to hope that James has changed his ways?

"Sorry, I did not know that you have a guest," Penelope said before her cheeks were pink. Darla shook her head before making her way to her peer.

"I could come at a different time then," Ruben said before Darla ushered Penelope outside and asked Ruben to stay in her office.

"Penelope, what is the matter?" Darla whispered to her before she handed the 'gram. Darla took it and read it. Then, she read it again before she was gripping the 'gram.

That conniving scoundrel!

Darla turned around before Penelope held her wrist. She turned to look at her before her friend whispered to her.

"Perhaps there is an explanation," she said before Darla snorted.

"If anything involved that scoundrel, there will be no reasoning at all," Darla said before she was moving into her office again. Ruben stood up from his seat as Darla was walking toward him. Ruben raised his eyebrows.

"Is everything alright?" he asked before Darla smiled.

"Yes, everything's fine. It's just something that Penelope cannot wait to share with me," she said as she stole a glance at her friend before Penelope went away. Darla sighed as she was rubbing her temple.

"So, about the marriage prospect that I offered for you a month ago," Ruben stated before Darla looked at him. The baron cleared his throat before sighing.

"Look, Lady Lockwood, you are a great friend and I thought that perhaps you are a suitable candidate to be my wife, but—"

"You found someone else, don't you?" Darla completed for Ruben before the baron turned away. Then, he nodded at her.

"Who is she?" she asked while her hand was gripping the 'gram again.

"She's someone that my parents decided. It's not my choice," Ruben said before Darla shook her head and smiled at her friend.

A friend that she would say yes for James has decided to ditch her to spinsterhood as well.

"I think congratulations are in order then," she said lightly before Ruben smiled at her. He shook his head.

"Well, it is what it is. I cannot defy my parents' last wish," he said before Darla went to embrace Ruben. They stood for a moment before she stepped back and smiled at her longest friend.

"I think she will be a perfect wife for you. Trust your parents' judgment. They know you the best," she said before Ruben smirked as he was looking outside the window.

"But so many things have changed, and I don't know if I was the same boy before they died," he mumbled but smiled at Darla before noticing that her fingers were bare.

"I'm sorry if your tainted reputation was having a hard time for you," Ruben said before she shrugged.

"Eh, it could get worse," she said before they laughed. Yup, it could get worse starting with the murder of James Flemington, she thought before Baron Laderhurst excused himself as Darla was reading the 'gram again.

"You are one conniving scoundrel, James Flemington. Perhaps I should send something to you as well." Darla said before she threw the 'gram into the fireplace as it burned to ashes.


"Are you sure this is safe? I mean it's in the middle of the night, Darla. Perhaps you would like to travel during the day?" Penelope said as Darla was packing up her travel satchel before she was putting on her riding habits.

"It cannot wait, Penelope. I have to confront him and demand some answers. You know he's a rake and I will not let a rake be stomping over my head like I am an easy prey," Darla said before she sighed. She rubbed her temples before Penelope was taking her hand.

"Please be careful. You don't know what will be following you in the middle of the night," Penelope said before Darla smiled.

"I will be careful and I am going to Scatterford first. I will confront my father and demand some answer before I murder him," Darla said as she was fastening her cloak and took the traveling satchel.

"Wish me luck," she said as she ran out of her chambers and went to get Pine from the stable. The groom has prepared for the long journey to Scatterford before she mounted the mare. Darla clicked her tongue and squeezed her knees before Pine was galloping toward Scatterford where answers will be waiting for her.

It has been a few hours since Darla was riding Pine to the fullest. The moon was shining in the night sky as she saw the outskirt of the cultured and art town. Scatterford was her home and it will be for as long as Darla lived.

I thought Fiktown would be my home but I guess I was being too hopeful, she thought as she was making her way to the Cascadian Manor. Pine neighed as the steam was coming out from his mouth.

"We're almost there," Darla stated as she was brushing his mane and went ahead toward the private street that led her to the manor. She was drawing her cloak close to her body before she was looking at the looming manor of her childhood.

"Home sweet home," she said before dismounting from Pine. Darla walked to the stable as the stable hand was shocked to see that his young mistress was home.

"My lady! I did not know that you're home. I would have—"

"Where is my father?" she asked the stable hand before he shook his head. Darla handed the rein to him before taking her stuff and went into the manor. She knocked on the door before the old butler was surprised to see her.

"My lady! Welcome home—"

Darla pushed the butler aside as she was shedding her cloak and riding gloves. Then, she was undoing her bonnet before she passed them to the butler as well as her stuff. Darla made her way to the dining hall but there was no one in sight. Then, she heard music from the library and went to find that her father was sitting in front of the fireplace, listening to the music.

"I know you would come running if that 'gram made into your hands," her father said as Darla was stepping lightly into the library.

"Did you know that James was determined to get your betrothed to be broken? Saying that he had more fun than being tied down to you. I think I know that boy was good for nothing. Only his looks and nothing else," her father said before Darla shook her head.

"You're wrong. He saved me from the bandits. He saved me from being kidnapped and sold on the slave—"

"And it was his idea to leave you when your reputation cannot be tainted any longer. So, tell me, my dear, is he worth fighting for?" her father turned to look at her. His facial expression was hard for her father knew that it would break her heart if James refused to be with her.

Refused to ask for her hands in marriage.

"No," she said as she was shaking her head.

"Darla, my dear—" her father staggered to stand before Darla ran off.

"No!" she screamed as she was pushing her way to get out of the manor. The manor where she first saw him and where she declared that James Flemington was her mortal enemy, not knowing the feelings that she had for him was something else.

Darla ran and ran as the thunder was booming in the night sky before the rain was pouring down on her. She stood at the center of the courtyard of her childhood manor before tears were running down her cheeks.

She laughed before shaking her head. This is not who I am. I fight for what I believe in my cause, she reminded herself that Darla was the headmistress of the orphanage that everyone thought was a dream. She will confront James and tell him to go to hell.

And it was decided that she will be going to Fiktown tonight.

Making her way to the stable again, she took Pine and mounted him, with her wet riding habits and without the proper traveling satchel. Good thing I brought the spare one, she said as she was patting down the one that she left behind.

Then, it was time to ride for Fiktown.
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