Scandal of Love

By: Janelle Daniels

True, he wasn’t keen on the idea of marrying for money, but there wasn’t anything else to be done about it. He might as well accept his fate and move on as quickly as possible. That much he could do. It was the irony of his situation which he would have a hard time ignoring. He had fled to the continent to escape the loveless marriage his father had tried to trap him into, only to be forced into another one because of his father’s gambling debts.

He would marry Sera and repair his lands with the money she brought into the marriage. In return, he would give her his protection, a title, and her freedom. She had already suffered enough from the scandal, and he had no intention of restricting her once they were married.

“You’re right. This is an excellent opportunity. While I would not have wished her choices to be taken from her, I would be a fool not to act upon what has happened.”

Harold grinned. “You’re right. Now, shall we toast?” He pushed a full glass toward Quinton.

Quinton chuckled. “Why not? My course is set. I am to marry Lady Sera.”

“Here, here!”

Their glasses clinked and Quinton felt the first burst of bubbles on his tongue. His situation would be changing quickly, and while he didn’t harbor any hopes for his marriage, he was optimistic about his future.

Chapter 2

Buying a husband wasn’t something Lady Sera wanted to think about, but she had to. Her father was right, if she did want to get married, she needed to make a decision now if she would settle for a fortune hunter. Was a loveless marriage better than none at all?

Looking out the window of her private receiving room, she watched clouds roll in, squelching the sunshine she had so enjoyed earlier. It seemed fitting to her situation.

A knock sounded at the door before Westly, their butler, entered and announced, “Lady Aubrey for you, my lady.”

Hearing Aubrey’s name announced perked up her spirits. Rising from her chair to greet her best friend, Sera reached out to grip Aubrey’s slender hands. Aubrey’s color was high, showing her distress, but Sera thought the tinge of color on her cheeks was a nice contrast to her pale yellow day dress.

“I just heard an hour ago. How are you holding up?” Aubrey asked, squeezing Sera’s hands.

“As well as can be expected, I guess. I didn’t think you would come. This can’t be good for your own reputation.”

“Please do not concern yourself with my reputation. You know I couldn’t stay away. How could I? If our roles were reversed, I know you would come visit me.” Aubrey’s speckled green eyes staring knowingly into Sera’s.

Sera sighed. She was very grateful that Aubrey was there, but she couldn’t bear the thought of her best friend being tainted by the scandal as well.

They sat on the settee while still clasping hands. The strength that flowed from Aubrey helped her to more easily bear up under the scandal.

“What do you think happened? How could this rumor have gotten started?” Aubrey’s eyebrows furrowed.

Sera knew that her friend would have never put any merit into the rumor. Aubrey had come out into society a month before Sera had, and they had stuck by each other through most of the parties.

Other members of the ton had thought their friendship odd because they seemed so different, but they couldn’t be more wrong. While they differed in looks, they were kindred spirits.

Sera always thought it was a shame that Aubrey didn’t have more dancing partners. It wasn’t that she was plain. Quite the contrary: she was lush, her womanly figure filling out her gowns quite nicely. Her honey-blond hair was glossy in the candlelight, casting a romantic glow over her petite features. She also possessed a stunning intellect and sharp wit that anyone would find appealing.

The problem seemed to be Sera. She had overheard a remark by Lord Denton that when Lady Sera was in attendance, no one could be bothered to pay attention to anyone beside her. It was rubbish of course, but Sera couldn’t help but feel partially responsible for her friend’s lack of attention.

Returning back to their conversation, Sera shrugged. “Honestly, I have no idea. I haven’t even met Lord Devericks. Why my name should even be attached to his is beyond me. Are you acquainted with him?”

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