Pawn of the Billionaire

By: Kristin Frasier&Abigail Moore

I smiled. “Father, don’t worry about that. They absolutely don’t want to take it over. It’ll cost them a fortune. Anyway, I can pay. You tell them to ring me here tomorrow.” I stood up, beginning to pace around the room.

“They must come up with a full set of proposals, including crediting the cost of any salvage like lead and the peg tiles.” I thought for a moment. “Tell them I’m financing it and they must send me all their documentation directly. I’ll have a team go over it here. I bet if they think I’ll bring a US team over, the quotation will come down a lot.” I had a brainwave. “And I’ll ring the Masons. They’ve had a lot of roofing work done recently. I can find out what it cost them. But, of course lead is expensive and so are handmade tiles now.”

“I suppose you’re right my boy.” Father sounded tired. “But you shouldn’t have to be dealing with it. You’re the younger son, after all. Edward should be taking the responsibility. He’s the heir, he’s going to inherit the Estate.” I could hear that he was pacing around, too.

I could picture him in his library. The dark, book-lined walls, the faded carpets, the old leather chairs. The large windows looking out over the gardens of his Hampshire home. His breathing rasped in my ear. I wondered how his health was. Perhaps I should fly over to England and see him more often.

“I tell you, your brother’s getting into all sorts of trouble. He’ll meet a bad end, I shouldn’t wonder.” His sigh reached me across the line. “I wish you were the eldest son. I’ve wished that for a long time.”

I laughed. “Please don’t put that on me, Father. I tell you, I really don’t want to inherit. I’ve made my life the way I like it. Why would I want to be the Earl?” I glanced out of the window, seeing Lawrence reflected. Still at his desk, he would be waiting to see if anything transpired of this conversation that I’d need him to do.

“So, what is Edward getting up to now?”

“I don’t know.” Father grumbled. “He was gone for nearly a week this time. Came back stoned out of his mind. One of these days he’s going to get arrested for something we won’t be able to keep quiet. Or worse.” He sounded sadder than ever.

“I’m just glad your mother didn’t live to see it. It would have broken her heart.”

I was silent. My mother was just a memory to me now, I’d been so young when she died. But I remembered how beautiful she was, her stately, elegant figure and the way she ruled the Estate with an iron grip. No one got away with anything when she was alive, not even my father. I smiled.

“Maybe Edward would have been different if she’d lived. It was hard losing her when we were so young.”

Father laughed. I was glad to hear it.

“Yes, maybe you’re right. She certainly kept me in hand, didn’t she?”

I grinned at the phone. “You’re right. Even I could see that. And I was only ten.”

His chuckle was tinged with sad memories. “But I loved her so much. I didn’t think I would, you know. My own mother found her for me. She knew just what I needed. I certainly wanted to choose my own wife, but it just wasn’t done. But it all worked out so well.” He stopped.

“I tell you what, my boy, why don’t you find a suitable girl for Edward? One who can keep him in line, make him turn over a new leaf. And someone who could run the Estate as well. Your mother was so good at that.”

I couldn’t help it. I laughed. “Father, life’s different now. And anyway, why on Earth would any girl want that job? Just look at Edward.”

“Oh, go on. He’s Viscount Pineham. He’s going to be the Earl when I’m gone, inherit the Estate. I’m sure he’d be all right once he’d been taken in hand. Any girl would want that job.”

“That’s what you think. The only sort of girl who’d want that would be completely unsuitable.”

“Oh. Well, I’m sure you could find someone with some good breeding in the background, train them up.” My father’s voice was pleading now. “I think it’ll be a really good idea.”

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