Edward Cornwall of the North Devon Gazette strolled into the local tavern. He'd heard rumors that Julian Stratford, Marquis of Greystone, had been seen there and around the area. Edward needed to see evidence for himself, as the Marquis had been killed in the Napoleonic war--or so he'd been told. He was on his second ale and about to give up and then he was rewarded for his patience. When none other than Greystone, former heir to the Duke of Linden title, walked through the door.
"Pardon me for this intrusion. I’m Edward Cornwall of the North Devon Gazette. We met a few years past.”
Greystone nodded. “I remember.”
Edward motioned to the empty chair. “Might I join you? I'll buy you an ale."
Edward waited until the Marquis gave him another nod. He settled in his seat and signaled for the bar maid. Once she delivered two mugs, Edward hesitated in continuing until Greystone had his first sip.
"I'm must say, it’s certainly a pleasure to see you again."
When Greystone remained silent and only lifted an arrogant brow, Edward decided not to be intimidated, so he continued. "I had heard rumors, as has the rest of England, that Julian Stratford, Marquis of Greystone, was killed during the war. I've also heard the sad fact that you've lost your father and brother to the plague, which is odd that no one else has succumb to that malady. I hope you might share with me how you have cheated death."
Greystone: “I would like to know that bit of information, as well, Cornwall. I fear there is not much to tell.” He rubbed his left leg. “Besides that, I have plans right now and I don’t have time to discuss this with you.”
Edward nodded and sipped on his own ale. The marquis was wrong, because Edward knew there was a lot to tell. He needed this story. But if he needed to sit on it, someone else may announce that Greystone was alive and well before he did.
"Others have seen you around your estate, that's how I heard of your miraculous recovery and that you were actually alive and well. If I don't write the story, someone else will. I can give you a fortnight to finish with your plans, and then I'm publishing."
Greystone: “All I can tell you is that during my years in the war, not once was my life in danger. Yet, soon after my father and brother’s demise, someone shot a canon at me and my men, nearly killing me.”
“Come now, my good man,” Edward coaxed, “I’m sure there is more to your story than that.”
Greystone: “Nothing I would care to see in the newspaper’s gossip columns.”
Edward shook his head. “I’m assuming you have not heard of my reputation, my lord. I do not write gossip. I tell the truth in my columns, which is why I am here with you now. I don’t want another journalist to write something misleading. Wouldn’t you want people to know the truth, my lord?” Once Greystone nodded, Edward continued, "Since you, your father, and brother are all dead, your cousin Martin Hinsdale has claimed the title of Duke of Linden. Are you going to come forward at some point and reclaim your right to the Dukedom?”
Greystone: “Forgive me, Cornwall, but now is not the time. There are too many lives at stake right now.” He pushed away from the table and stormed out of the tavern.
Slowly, Edward nodded and mumbled to himself, “Indeed, Lord Greystone, there is a story here, and I’m going to discover the truth whether you like it or not.”
Julian Stratford has a plan:
1. Steal the duchess and make her confess that her husband killed for a title.
2. Reclaim the title “Duke of Linden”.
Everything is fine until Julian steals the wrong sister. Now it’s time for a new strategy. Alexandria Templeton is a hopeless wallflower. With his care and nurturing, he’s certain she will blossom into a real beauty. She will also be a great asset to him while trying to find evidence against his cousin for killing Julian’s father and brother. Disaster threatens his well-thought-out plan, but it also threatens to destroy his heart.
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