“I had an interesting conversation with your father a little while ago,” he simply stated to get things started.

“I’m sure that you did,” she mumbled.

“Did you know that there is no dowry for you?” he asked conversationally as he watched her every move, waiting for the reaction that he craved.

“Yes,” she said quietly with a slight nod as she continued to stare down at her bathwater.

“You don’t find it curious that a man as wealthy as your father wouldn’t set aside money to see you married?” he asked, anticipation soaring through him as he continued to toy with her.


He cocked his head to the side as he studied her. “And why is that?”

She gave a humorless laugh as she turned her head slightly away from him and as discreetly as possible, wiped at her face. So she was crying, was she? Already trying to manipulate him then. She’d learn very quickly that her tricks wouldn’t work on him.

“You already know why, Robert, so please just leave me alone.”

He pursed his lips up in thought as he considered her request. “No, I don’t think that I will.”

“Can you not gloat about the fact that you now control my inheritance tomorrow?” she asked, a bite of anger lacing her words. “Please just leave me be,” she whispered in defeat, her voice cracking with emotion as she once again wiped at her face.

“What inheritance?” he asked, savoring the moment of her downfall.

She shook her head in disgust. “You don’t need to play these games with me, Robert.”

“You’re absolutely right,” he said, nodding as he decided to end this game and get right to the conclusion. “This game has gone on long enough. So why don’t I explain how things are going to be from this point on?”

He didn’t give her a chance to answer, not that she made any attempts as she continued to sit there in what had to be a cold bath by now. It was best to explain the way things were going to be from now on and then leave her to her fate while he went to one of his clubs and enjoyed himself. Who knows, perhaps he’d follow in his father’s steps and set up a beautiful mistress to see to his needs. He certainly didn’t owe Elizabeth anything, especially his fidelity.

“You will be given a yearly sum to cover your clothing needs and that is all. I will personally see to it that our child is well taken care of. You may have a room of your own and you will see to your motherly duties. Other than that I don’t give a damn what you do as long as you stay out of my way.”

She nodded as though she’d expected as much from him and he wasn’t sure why that grated on his nerves. Did she really think so little of him? Did she believe that he was purposely cruel or did she accept the fact that she’d pushed him to it?

“I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you,” she said on a choked sob, obviously trying to get back in his good graces so that he’d give her part of her inheritance. It actually made him hate her more for the attempt.

“I’m sure that you are,” he said darkly as he glared at her.

“Don’t you have any questions about your inheritance?” he asked, wishing to end this so that he could leave.

After a slight pause, she shook her head. “I’d rather not.”

“That’s probably for the best,” he mused, watching her intently before he broke the news to her. “Since it’s gone.”

“Gone?” she asked, sounding confused as she finally looked at him.

He forced himself to ignore the evidence that she’d been crying as he continued. She would never manipulate him again and she’d be smart to learn that now.

“Of course it’s gone,” he said with a shrug. “You didn’t meet any of the conditions of the will after all.”

“Conditions?” she asked, looking adorably confused.

“There were several conditions. The first one of course was that you were expected to marry well,” he said with a shrug simply to annoy her. “Then of course was the condition placed on your birthday.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked, frowning.

“You were expected to remain chaste in order to receive your inheritance.” When she simply stared at him in confusion, he added, “Untouched.”

She paled at that as she noticeably swallowed.

He reached up and lazily scratched the back of his head as he gave her a careless shrug. “So, you see that whatever plans you had when you decided to keep my child from me wouldn’t have worked. Then again, if you had simply accepted my brother, you would have gained a title and a fortune.”

“But, I don’t love James,” she mumbled absently as she hugged her legs more tightly to her chest as if that would protect her from her new reality.

He ignored the bait that she was trying to hand him. Did she expect him to ask if she loved him? Did she truly believe he was that gullible? She’d learn in time, he supposed as he got to his feet, but he couldn’t leave until he struck the last blow.

“You should probably write your sister and congratulate her,” he said as he returned the chair to its place in front of the dimming fire.

“Why?” she mumbled, sounding sad and giving him what he wanted.

“Because you’ve just made her a very rich woman.”

Chapter 22

“Mary?” she asked, swallowing nervously as she reached out and gripped the sides of the tub, praying that the inheritance that had been meant for her would go to the one sister that would use it wisely.

Mary would use it as Elizabeth had planned. She’d turn the estates that she’d inherited into schools for the poor and unfortunate as well as safe homes where women would be given training and more options in life. The money that she’d inherited would have gone a long way to make sure that all the schools could have run tuition free for many generations to come.

The only estate that Elizabeth had planned on keeping for herself was her north estate. It would have been more than enough for her to live out the rest of her days quietly, but Mary wouldn’t need that and would most likely turn it into another opportunity to help the less fortunate. Heather on the other hand…..

She wouldn’t part with a single quid if it meant that it helped someone that she deemed beneath her. Heather would spend the money on lavish gowns, jewels, parties and every expensive bauble that she could get her greedy hands on. She would never even consider helping anyone but herself.

When Robert had happily announced the loss of her inheritance she’d felt sick. She’d failed, because she’d given into her own greed and made love to a man who hated her. The fact that she couldn’t regret her baby even if it meant the loss for so many made her feel horrible. If Mary were the one to inherit in her place then everything would be okay. Mary would fix this. Mary would make sure that the schools were started immediately. Mary would-

“Heather stands to inherit, of course,” Robert announced, shattering her last hope.

“Oh…..God…..no,” she whispered hollowly.

Robert chuckled as he slowly walked to the door. “Yes, I’m sure that you’re quite upset about that. No doubt that Mary would have given you whatever you wanted, but Heather…….,” he said meaningfully as he paused before continuing, “I doubt that Heather would share so much as a shilling with you.”