A Lord’s Desperate Love
A Historical Romance Story
No, no! Of course he could not. But where was he to go then? He didn’t know any more.
If Barrington was in town Geoff could go there to talk things out with Robert, but he was not. No one else would understand. Except perhaps Geoff’s elder sister. But he could not call there and wake her husband and her household at this hour.
He left in a daze. His walk home felt like a dream. When he reached his bachelor apartments in St James, he wasn’t even sure how he’d got there. He lay on his bed, without undressing, a hand on his brow as his alcohol addled brain tried to think everything through.
When he woke it was ten in the morning, and his brain felt no less confused than the night before. The very first thought in his head, was, why? The second, where?
Desperation turned his stomach as he dressed. How had he got so caught up with Violet. He’d never expected to get tangled up with a woman, not like this. Yet Violet’s web had wrapped about him this summer and caught him fast.
Why had she cast him out of it so suddenly? I don’t understand.
When he left his apartment he did not know where he was heading, but then his feet took him in the direction of her solicitor’s office. Surely Mr Larkin would know where Violet had gone.
Geoff’s attitude had changed since his assault on her house last night. Last night he had been angry. Today, when he entered the solicitors, he was downtrodden and desolate. He had no expectation. He felt lost. She’d ripped his damned heart out. She’d gone.
It was laughable really. All summer Violet had been busy threatening Lord Barrington with a hard countenance, because she believed Barrington would break her friend’s heart. Now she had done it to him.
“Mr Larkin,” Geoffrey acknowledged as he was invited in to the office.
The man stood and smiled.
Geoffrey had not mentioned why he’d come yet. He could not find the words.
“Do sit, my Lord. How may I help?”
Mr Larkin wouldn’t even know there was a connection between himself and Violet. After all they’d only shared an intrigue. He had no rights regarding her – no right to interfere in her affairs – except that he loved her, and he’d thought she’d tumbled into loving him too. It had not been by design. It had just happened. One night of pleasure had become two, then three and four, and then, and then… he’d hated being separated from her.
Damn her. There was a hole in his chest without her here, and it was painful.
Geoff took a seat facing the solicitor feeling like a gullible idiot. He had been used and discarded – while he’d thought himself happy beyond any expectation.
God, was this what his friend Robert had gone through when he’d dropped out of Oxford all those years ago. Insanity threatened at the edge of Geoff’s conscious thought, he was too anxious, he’d be admitted to Bedlam in a month if he did not get a hold of this internal ranting.
“My Lord,” Larkin prodded.
Geoff sighed. “Look Larkin, I know you manage Lady Rimes affairs for her. She’s left town unexpectedly. I wondered if you knew –”
The solicitor sat back in his chair, frowning, as Geoff spoke, then cut in. “I cannot reveal another client’s details –”
“I know that but –”
“There is no but, my Lord.”
Geoffrey slid forward, to the edge of his chair, with an urge to force the man to listen. “I am worried for her, Larkin. She’s disappeared without a word. When… when I would not have expected it. Something is a foot, something seems wrong. Just tell me where she has gone so I might see her and know all is well?”
Mr Larkin leaned forwards again too, his hand resting on his desk. “If Lady Rimes had wished you to know, Lord Sparks, she would have told you. She has not, sir, and so I must respect her choice.”
The blood drained from Geoff’s head, blurring his vision, while his stomach growled. Stopping to break his fast had not been among his priorities, but the after effects of the alcohol he’d imbibed last night turned his stomach and fogged his head.
He refused to faint like a feeble woman. Resting his forehead on the heel of his palm, his elbow pressing into his thigh, he took a breath. Where the hell had she gone? Why?
The room was weighted with silence. He knew Larkin watched him.
What to do?
“I’m sorry, my Lord, but if that is the only reason you have come…” You might as well go. Geoff heard the unspoken words.
He looked up. “Do you know how long she’s gone for? When will she be back?” Larkin merely shook his head.
In the years Geoff had known Violet, she’d rarely left London. The only times she had gone, were to follow entertainment; like last year, she’d gone to Bath. Perhaps she’d gone to a house party. But this didn’t seem like that. If it was simply a house party somewhere, why hadn’t she said?
The last time he’d seen her, when he’d left her at her bedchamber door, her fingers had run across the stubble growing on his cheek and she’d said, “Goodbye Geoffrey.”
She had not said, I will see you this evening, or, later. It had just been goodbye. They’d made no plans.
It had meant goodbye.
But why? There was no point in looking to Larkin for an answer. It was like attempting to draw blood from a stone.
Despondency weighting down his limbs, Geoff stood. “Thank you.” He had nothing to thank the man for but the words just slipped from his lips.
When he left, his feet led him back to Violet’s house. He did not expect to find her there. Yet he had to be there, because, where-else would he go.
The knocker was still in place. That didn’t make sense either. Why pretend she was within when she was not?
He lifted it and rapped it down on the iron plaque beneath it thrice. Then stood back a little.
Selford answered it, his eyebrows rising as he opened the door. “Lord Sparks?” There was a note of pity as well as a question in his voice.
Geoffrey pushed past him to enter, shoving the door aside, just like last night.
He’d got nothing from the solicitor but Selford had said some things yesterday. If he pushed the man perhaps he’d say more…
“Where?” Geoff began as Selford shut the door.
“I do not know, sir.”
“I swear, my Lord, I can tell you nothing other than my Lady has gone.”
Gone. The word had such finality.
“Did she say when she was coming back? How long is she to be away?”
“My Lord…” Selford said pleadingly.
“Selford, you of all people know how things were. I cannot understand this. She said nothing to me. How long has she gone for?”
“I cannot say, my Lord.”
“Give me something. Please, Selford?”
Worry passed across the butler’s stern expression. “My Lord.”
“Selford.” Geoff heard the note of plea in his voice.
The butler frowned and then in a low voice answered, “She is not intending to return, my Lord.”
“Not intending…” A wash of disbelief swept through Geoff. He moved to the stairs and sat on the second step, feeling faint again as the room darkened at the edges of his vision.
Had he done something wrong? He’d never spoken of his affection. He’d believed his feelings returned. Should he have said something? Would she have stayed if he’d spoken? But surely she knew. He’d not hidden it from his eyes, or his touch. Did she just not care?
His gaze lifted to Selford again. “Tell me what she said? Do you know why she has gone?”
“I should not, my Lord…” Selford’s statement ended in silence, but Geoff could see the man’s resolve was weakening. He looked uncertain.
“My Lord, I –”
“Tell me!” Geoff’s pitch grew more forceful.
“Oh.” Selford’s voice dropped to little more than a whisper. He was going to talk. Geoff stood.
“The house is to be shut up, sir. The knocker has been left in place because Lady Rimes asked that it remain so for a few weeks, as if she were still here, and then the house and everything is to be sold.”
Geoff’s brow crumpled. I don’t understand. “She has taken only her personal things though. Has she gone to stay somewhere then?”
“I cannot say, sir.” Because he didn’t know. Geoff could see it in Selford’s expression, the man was worried too, and that was probably the only reason he was talking.
“Her Ladyship took the carriage, but then separated from it at an inn,” Selford continued without prompting, as though now he was talking he was glad to have someone to share this with. “It was sent back, along with the maid, and no word of where her Ladyship might be contacted.”
Geoff felt sick. What on earth was she doing? His hand rubbed over his face. Damn. Damn! He looked at Selford. “She sent the carriage back. May I speak with those who accompanied her?”
“They were dismissed, my Lord. Everyone, bar myself, was given notice and I do not have their forwarding details. I am to be let go once the house is sold.”
Geoffrey’s frown felt deeper. He’d learn nothing more here. “Thank you, Selford. If you hear any more please write and let me know. This is my address.” He handed Selford his calling card and as he did so felt the miniature of Violet he always carried in his breast pocket. He’d claimed it one night when he’d stayed here. He’d taken it off the wall and insisted she let him keep it. She had laughed and conceded, and let him take a tiny lock of her hair too. He’d had that sealed in the back. It had been beside his heart ever since, and she knew it was there. How could she not know his feelings? Was she laughing at his absurd devotion?
“Selford, one more question, when she left did she use the carriage with her coat of arms.”
At least she’d made one error then, if she wished to disappear. There was a chance he’d find her.
This is the story of two of the characters from the 2nd book in the Marlow Intrigues Series ~ The Passionate Love of a Rake.
The true story of a courtesan, who inspired The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, which I’ve been telling every Sunday, will continue alongside this.
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and New Adult Romance stories.
See below on the side bar for details of Jane’s books, and Jane’s website www.janelark.co.uk to learn more about Jane. Or click ‘like’ on Jane’s Facebook page to see photo’s and learn historical facts from the Georgian, Regency and Victorian eras, which Jane publishes there. You can also follow Jane on twitter at @janelark