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Six years later


Lord Clarges

I am writing to you now in the full understanding that you have formed a new life since last we met. Though I am loathe to intrude upon it, I am compelled to inform you that His Grace, the Duke, your own grandfather, has fallen to ill health, and desires your company as there are issues of estate yet unresolved between you. Please make haste and return to Hartford House at your earliest convenience for his sake.

Sincerely,

Will Graham


Hartford House had not changed any more in six years than it had in the time that he’d been away at war, Hannibal found. Not on the outside, at least, save for the cobbled road that now fed in from those that led to the Capital.

The passing of six years’ time had dulled his anger somewhat, but he still felt uneasy returning. He had not quit this place in any good form and was not proud of how he had behaved since, but he would face what needed to be faced in order to bring peace to his Grandfather. Continue reading

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“Your Grace, Mr. Graham will not be joining the family for dinner tonight,” Mr. Hawkes somberly said. “Mr. Price says that he is taken somewhat ill and out of sorts.”

“Out of sorts?” Hannibal blandly echoed, disgusted. He waved Hawkes away, telling him, “No matter, he is contrary to good appetite.”

“Send him up a tray, please, Mr. Hawkes,” the Duke said, settling to eat. “I  had hoped to have a better meal this evening than last, but that is not to be.”

“Thank that overly dramatic Omega you married me off to,” Hannibal said, attacking his plate with more gusto than he actually felt. “Pouting in his room, no doubt.”

 “He has little reason to be in your presence when you behave so terribly towards him,” Roland pointed out. “You have never in your life been so rude to another. That is hardly the conduct of a gentleman.” Continue reading

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There was no instruction, no familiarization when Will was finally led away, weary and resigned.  The butler, Mr. Hawkes, had his orders to take Will straight to the relative safety of his suite and deposit him there and that was precisely what he did. Will, his eyes wide and frightened and taking in the vast house, moved in his wake, too tired to sort the various scents that vied with those he had already learned.

“Here you are, Mr. Graham. The houseboys have brought your luggage in,” Mr. Hawkes said, opening the door to let him into a lovely suite made up in neutral, pleasant colors, soothing and quiet. “Has your father sent a servant to assist you?”

Will shook his head, cleared his throat, and softly said, “No, he did not. I have never had need of a servant to assist me. I am the youngest child in my family.”

“If I may be so bold, I would like to pick a member of our staff to assist you now that you are here with us,” Hawkes said, giving him a kindly look that brought Will’s uncertain smile to the surface. “Would you prefer female or male?”

Will, vague with too much happening at once, roused himself enough to say, “I would be more comfortable with a male assisting me. My wardrobe is both female and male so it would be more convenient to have someone familiar with such things, if there is any such person who can deal well with an Omega.”

“Of course, you are quite right,” Hawkes said, nodding a little. “I shall send someone up directly to unpack for you while you take some rest. The suite is yours to use as you wish, the washroom is there through that door. The House has all new plumbing that the family is quite taken with, I’m told. Please, feel free here. After all, Hartford House is now your home.” Continue reading

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Over a month had passed before the ducal coach returned bearing several ministers of law with the marriage proxy riding alongside it.

Mina, well warned of their approach, watched with wide eyes from behind the drapes as Will was once more polished to appear in her place.

“My, what a fine seat your proxy has,” she sighed, blushing lightly. “It is too bad that he is not the heir. I should not mind being a Duchess if he were the Duke.”

Will scowled at her, asking with ill humor and with sharpness borne of pure, dreadful anxiety, “And what of Timothy? Or are your affections so fleeting?”

Mina laughed, a floating and lovely sound, and left the window to look him over.

“That is my favorite day dress, don’t get anything on it. Though I suppose it doesn’t matter now.” Continue reading