Dirty Aristocrat

By: Georgia Le Carre

His expression softened. ‘It was an honor to serve Mr. Maxwell.’

I bit my lip. ‘You will stay on, won’t you, James?’

He allowed himself a small smile. ‘I’d be delighted to, Mam.’

‘Thank you.’ I almost cried out with relief. I needed people around me I could trust. The last time I felt this vulnerable was when my mom died and I was all alone in a trailer and medical bills I could not pay. At that time, I had run away from my past, my debts, my pain. I had come to England and found Robert.

‘If you are agreeable I will take upon myself the task of informing the staff of Mr. Maxwell’s passing.’

I exhaled. ‘Yes, thank you. That would be very helpful,’ I said in acceptance of his kind offer.

He paused.

‘What?’ I prompted.

‘It would be prudent for you to inform Lord Greystoke as soon as possible,’ he said quietly.

I felt every cell in my body shrink at the thought.

‘It is what Mr. Maxwell would have expected.’

I nodded slowly. ‘Yes, you are right. Of course I will. I’ll call him right now.’

‘I’ll go and see about your tea.’

When his footsteps died away I walked up to the phone. I knew Ivan De Greystoke’s number by heart. Robert had forced me to memorize it.

‘He is the only one you can trust. No one else is to be trusted. No matter how nice they seem to be,’ he said again and again.

I dialed his Ivan’s number and waited nervously. Some part of me hoped he was asleep and I could just leave a message on his answer phone, but he picked up my call on the third ring.

‘Is he gone?’ His voice was business-like and abrupt. It was so late, I must have pulled him out of bed, and yet he sounded so wide-awake, so unyieldingly hard.

‘Yes,’ I whispered, my hands gripping the telephone hard.

‘I’d like a word with the doctor. Put him on,’ he instructed. No sorry for your loss, or any kind of platitude for the grieving widow.

I closed my eyes. ‘Dr. Jensen left a little while ago.’

Even across the distance I felt his displeasure and irritation. I could imagine exactly the forbidding expression on the most arrogant, aristocratically chiseled, granite-like face I ever had the misfortune to meet. The only redeeming feature in his firmly set, hard face were the surprisingly full and sensuous lips.

Although I had assumed he must have been in bed, in my imagination he was still dressed in a suit or a dinner jacket. I had never seen him in anything else. Each one splendidly cut and terribly civilized, but unable to hide the raw, animal power of the lean, powerful body beneath. At six feet five inches and wide shoulders rippling with muscles he towered over most men.

I heard a woman’s voice, glamorous and trailing, ask, ‘Who is it, Ivan darling?’

His reply was brisk and left no doubt as to exactly what he thought of me, a pain in his neck. ‘No one. This is will only take a few minutes. Get back in bed.’

Stung, I said the first thing that came into my head. ‘I’ll start making the funeral arrangements tomorrow.’

There was a second, pregnant with a disbelieving silence before he spoke again, his voice strangely quiet. ‘Everything has already been taken care of. My secretary, Theresa, will liaise with you so you know where and when to present yourself.’

‘Oh,’ I said, at loss for words.

Of course, how silly of me. Obviously, everything had been done. It was not how it was when my stepfather died, when we ran around trying to arrange everything while he lay in the mortuary. Robert’s funeral would be a well-attended affair requiring much planning ahead.

‘I’ll see you at the funeral,’ he said, and the line went dead.

I replaced the receiver back on its hook and slowly walking to the window stared at the coating of snow on the edges of the windowpane. Ivan De Greystoke had eyes the color of sunlight falling on gray tinsel, but the moment Robert introduced me as his wife, they became glacial.

Expressionlessly, he extended his hand and took mine in a warm, strong clasp. I had not wanted to shake hands with him, not wanted any part of his body to touch mine, but when our skin met, I was overcome with the strangest sensation of wanting to prolong the contact.

The same was not true for him. He had pulled his hand away almost immediately as if he was touching something dirty or repulsive.

‘May I say, Robert,’ he had mocked dryly, ‘you are the envy of every man tonight.’

Robert glowed with pride and happiness, but I blushed, because I knew he did not mean it. He detested me. He thought I was a gold digger and nothing I said or did subsequently made him change his mind. His dislike was eventually obvious even to Robert, so I never understood why he made Ivan the executor of my trust. At first I begged him not to let Ivan be in charge.

▶ Also By Georgia Le Carre

▶ Last Updated

▶ Hot Read

▶ Recommend

Top Books