The Lady & The Duke

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Summary

She was betrothed before she had a choice; will duty come before love?

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
CannonMama8
Status:
Ongoing
Chapters:
1
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
16+

Prologue

England, 1802

Lord Robert Hawkley walked briskly through the doors of his home his mind on one thing; his wife and child. The missive had reached him hours ago while he was still in London, stating quite plainly that his wife had gone into labor with their first child.

He took the stairs two at a time in order to reach the bedroom door quicker, but the door was blocked by his most trusted butler, George. “George, let me in.” Robert demanded his stark blue eyes etched with worry.

“I’m sorry your grace, but the doctor ordered me to keep everyone out, including you. He said it was for the best.” George said his voice shaking with fear.

Suddenly, Robert’s wife cried out in pain causing Robert to nearly break down the door, but a few seconds later small cries could be heard. Robert quickly pushed George aside and rushed into the room. His gaze reached his wife’s gray eyes and a relieved smile broke out on his face.

Lady Amelia sat among what seemed like a mountain of blankets, her brown hair in a mess of curls around her face. In one arm she held a small bundle of blankets and with her other arm she beckoned her husband to join her on the bed. “Come dear; come meet your son.” She said proudly knowing how much he desired a son. She knew even if it had been a girl, he would have loved her too, but she wanted to please her husband.

Robert came to her bedside and looked down into the innocent face of his beautiful son. The future Duke of Amsden.

~*~

10 years later…

“I think it would be most advantageous if both of our families were united in marriage, but which of our children?” Lord Hawkley sat behind his desk stroking his chin as he stared down the man before him, Byron Ravensdale, a most respected Marquess from the county of Darwin.

“How about our 5-year-old, Grace? Jane, I believe would be too young.” He said sitting forward hoping that at last all this work would not be for nothing. Robert sat mulling it over for at least the next ten minutes, forcing the man before him to sweat. Finally, Robert gave a swift nod and reached his hand forward over the desk to shake on it. Byron swiftly signed his name on the papers that sat on the desk in front of him and passed them over to Robert. “How old is your eldest son now, Byron?” Robert asked conversationally as he walked over to a small table to pour a glass of brandy for both.

“Nearing 15 now; and he is just as headstrong as his father is.” He said, as he graciously took the glass from Robert.

“Well, you must all come and visit us during this fine season we are having.” Robert said as he took a seat in front of the fireplace gesturing for Byron to do the same. Byron nodded thoughtfully and took another long sip his gaze drifting to the blazing fire his thoughts drifting to his wife.

~*~

Lord Byron made his way up the grand staircase of his beautiful home with a heavy heart, he walked across a narrow hallway and opened one of the many doorways. He slipped his head inside light drifting across the way to illuminate a child sleeping in the small bed, a mass of blond curls surrounding her face. He walked over and brushed a few ringlets away from the child’s face and a small smile curved the older man’s lips. His beautiful Grace looked so much like his wife, Judith, that at times it took his breath away. Judith. Had it really been 2 years since his wife died giving birth to their last child, Jane? He sighed heavily and made his way back out of the dark room so as to not wake her, he found his eldest son, John waiting for him in the hallway. The boy’s face had a grim look upon it and Byron sighed heavily.

“Not tonight John, it has been a long day and there is much to do in the days to come.” Byron placed a soft hand on the young man’s shoulders as he passed by to go to his own bedchamber.

“We need to discuss what happened at the Hawkley Mansion tonight.” John crossed his arms tightly, a feeling of protection for his sisters overcoming him.

“It is done, there is nothing you or I can do. You already understand that we are losing money in the estate and the crown is set to take my title away if things do not improve. What I have done will secure both of the girl's future. You, of course, will be taken care of, but those girl’s need to be taken care of as well. It won’t be announced until Grace comes of age, of course, but this will throw Jane into the path of eligible bachelors that will clamor at our door for her hand.” Byron was now in his room undressing himself, having dismissed his manservant for this private conversation.

“I hope you know what you’re doing.” John glanced back at his father wistfully before exiting the bedroom.

Byron sat on the edge of the bed mulling over the nights events before blowing out the burning candle.

I hope so too. He thought as sleep came to claim him.

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