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Authors: Hazel Statham

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BOOK: Dominic
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Did
you
at
four
and
twenty
,
my
love
?

asked
the
d
uchess reprovingly.

“Pon
faith
I
did
not
,
and
that
you
well
know,”
replied the d
uke reluctantly, taking her hand to his lips as he seated
hi
m
self
at
her
side
on the
couch.
“Forswear
,
Julie
,
I know not what I would have beco
m
e without your influence, but that does not
m
ean I can condone such wild ways in
m
y son and heir. He has a na
m
e to uphold.”

“And a reputation to co
m
pete with,” reproached the d
uchess.

Whatever
wildness
that
can
be
perceived
in
him you
c
a
nnot
bla
m
e
him for,
he
but
follows
in
your footsteps, my love.”


You and your precious son
,
” countered the duke
. “You can never see any wrong in hi
m
. Indeed, you dote over
m
uch
on all
the
children.
Now tell
m
e
of this
wager that so obviously could not be ignored.”

“It was a ten
m
ile ra
c
e with Fitzwilliam
on the downs.”

“And the stake
s
?”

“Five thousand guineas.”

The
d
uke,
raising
his
brows,
gave
a sile
n
t
whi
s
tle,
and
for a moment forgetting his anger asked with some
interest, “Who was he a
s
tri
de
?

“Thor—though
I
know
not
how
to
tell
him
that
he
had to be destroyed.”

“A da
m
ned waste of good horse flesh,” he replied i
m
patiently.


Fitzwilliam’s
horse
failed
in
its
tracks
.
I
t
was
that
which brought Thor down.
Nothing
could be done.”


W
hy
the
deuce
did
he
accept
such
a
wager
and
put both hi
m
self and the stallion
at risk? Even he must have seen it was too
m
uch to expect of t
h
e ani
m
al?”

The d
uchess hesitated slightly, uncertain how her husband
would
take
what
she
had
to
tell
hi
m
.
“I
have heard
ru
m
ors
that
Do
m
i
nic
has
had
heavy
ga
m
i
ng
losses, I think possibly it was his way of trying to co
m
e
about. Please,
Marcel,
don’t
look
like that,”
she pleaded,
as her husband’s countenance darkened. “He does no worse than
m
any
other
young
m
en
of
his
acquaintance.
Indeed,
it
is the first ti
m
e
I have known h
i
m to have been in such str
a
its
.

“Maybe
so,
but
it
will
be
the
last,”
snapped
the
d
uke. “I will not tolerate his
g
a
m
i
ng. It w
i
ll be the r
u
in of h
i
m and
I
will
not
bail
him
out.
It’s
as
well
that
his
le
g
acy from Augus
t
a
is
in
tru
s
t
until
he
sh
o
uld
m
arry,
though
one would
have
supposed
the
dividend
from
it
would
have been
m
ore
than
adequate
to
support
h
i
m until
that
event. Evidently not! Its ti
m
e he looked for a wife; that at least should have a settling effect on his life style if nothing else.”

“Not neces
s
arily,
m
y love. She would have to be of a strong character
to even attract
his attention
and you know Do
m
i
nic
is
not
easily
s
w
ayed.
He
has
shown
no inclination
toward any of t
h
e
young
ladies
who
so
eagerly atte
m
pt to
c
ourt his a
ff
ection
s
. Indeed, he
says they bore him and he
goes out of his way to avoid the
m
.”

“Mores the
pity.
Surely
t
h
ere
m
ust
be
one
a
m
ongst
his acquaintance who could ta
m
e h
i
m
?


W
ould you want him
ta
m
ed
?

The d
uke paused
m
o
m
e
ntarily as if conte
m
plating the
m
atter
then
gri
m
aced
ruefully.
“If
truth
be
told,
it
would be
a
sin.
He
has
considerable spirit and to see it subdued would be intolerable. Shall we say it should be channeled in
a
different
direction,
one
conducive
to
a
more
fitting life-style! No, I would hate to see his spirit
cowed
. In so
m
e ways it has
m
uch to recommend it and in
m
any aspects
I
am proud
of
the
boy,
though
it
would
not
do
to ad
m
it it. Even so, he will
f
eel
m
y tongue
f
or this escapad
e
. This I cannot and will not condone.”

“You
m
ust beware,
he is no
longer a child, Marcel,” reproved
the
d
uchess. “
H
e
will
not
welco
m
e
your interference in his life.”

“He
is
m
y
son, and
will
conduct
hi
m
self
as
such, regardless of age,” he replied in a
m
anner which discouraged
any
further
d
i
scussion on the
m
atter.

 

*****

 

The inter
v
iew between father and s
o
n was not pleasant. Both being of the sa
m
e
forceful character did not bode well,
both
being
powerful
m
en
saw
that
neither
gave
way to
the
ot
h
er. The
fact
t
h
at
Vale
lay
abed
in co
n
sidera
b
le disco
m
fort
m
attered
not at a
l
l. The d
uchess stood outside the
bedroom
door
listening
to the raised voices, finding it di
ff
i
cult
not
to
i
n
ter
c
e
d
e
on
her
son’s
behalf.
She
knew that
her
husband
was
right
in
all
t
h
at
he
said,
la
m
enting his
son’s
life-style
and
dep
l
oring
his
foolhardy
sche
m
e, but she could not condone his onslaught
at
such
a
ti
m
e. Do
m
inic had paid the pri
c
e of his stupidity. None witnessing
his
stricken
countenance
when
she
had
told him
of
Thor’s
death
could
doubt
it.
She
even
forgave
him
the
oaths
t
h
at
sprang
fr
o
m
his
lips,
realizing
t
h
e
a
ff
ection he had for the horse and the pain he
f
elt at his loss.

BOOK: Dominic
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