I know this chapter will be a bit shorter than normal, but this being a raw story, they might not be laid out exactly right, I apologize for that.  If the chapters are short, I might post more than once a day.

Winterhaven
Paranormal Revision © 2013 by: Melissa R. Smith
Original Story © 2008 by: Melissa R. Smith
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
You are free to copy and/or save to read at your leisure, but the characters and situations here are mine and original, please do not claim them for your own.  Any similarities to persons, living, dead or undead are coincidental.
*Note* This is edited to the best of my ability, but still unpolished. It is for the enjoyment of my readers only. Glaring mistakes, typos, etc, can certainly be pointed out for correction if done in a thoughtful manner. Thank you for understanding.

Chapter One

Summer 1982

“You should truly take a wife.” Thomas Sutton, Duke of Waverly stared down his nose at his business partner, Lord John Edward Langley, as his lit his pipe.  “You are a reasonably healthy man. You have considerable wealth, you need heirs.”

John Langley concentrated on the ledgers, writing numbers skillfully with his fountain pen, never bothering to look up.  “Yes, I know.  Your wife has said as much to me over the past months.  She’s become very persistent about it.” The corners of his mouth turned upward.

Thomas was fully aware of the meaning behind that expression and smiled back, knowing he was being far too polite.  His wife Elizabeth could be persuasive on a good day – and certainly pushy on a bad one.  “Nonetheless.  I am sure there are plenty of fine young ladies here in the area, perhaps if you went to socials or to the theatre… anywhere but this stuffy office of yours, you could look for….”

“Who is to say I have not already?”

The more portly, auburn haired man, five years John’s senior, stammered on his last words. “What?  Looked?”

John barely glanced up, “No, found.”

“Well, I’ll be, you’ve been holding out on me.  Who is the fine young woman?”

After a short pause, John answered, “The daughter of Simon Hawkins.” His manner turned detached, almost taciturn.

Thomas studied his friend behind short glasses as he tried to retrieve the name.  Thomas was usually good at names, but blame it all on the hot August weather, he just couldn’t bring himself to recall the man. “Hawkins, Hawkins…I do not seem to remember a Lord Hawkins…”

“He’s not a Lord, and yes, you met him.” John finally took a deep breath, but continued to write.  “The hideously tall, thin, gray haired gentleman from America that made a pest of himself.  If I recall, you mentioned that he was dressed inappropriately disheveled.”

Thomas gasped, “Wait.  Oh, the American…yes, the one that seemed so anxious to talk with you last week?”

“The same.”

“Ah yes, now I recall the fellow.” Thomas took a moment to inhale his pipe. “A strange one he was, at that.  A most unpleasant, pathetic disposition.  But, I was to understand that Mr. Hawkins traveled here alone this past month.”

More writing from John, then, “He did.”

“Then when did you meet the daughter?”

Another impatient pause, the pen slowing down slightly.  “I have not met her.”

“What?”

Finally, Thomas’ perseverance caused John to cease writing the last few entries of his ledger.  He sat his pen down, folded his arms across his chest and eyed Lord Sutton closely, “I said I have not met her.  I was told she is a young widow of thirty-two, a teacher in Delaware.”

Thomas threw his hands in the air, “Have you lost your good senses?  Do you mean to tell me that you intend to marry a woman from America, sight unseen?”

“Yes.”

“And a widow?”

Exasperated, he replied, “Yes, Thomas.”

“For heaven’s sake, why?”

John sighed and leaned forward, “My friend, if I am to marry, then I wish to marry with haste, not bothering with the pitiful trifling of love and courtship that most younger, more innocent, starry-eyed ladies can bring.  Simon Hawkins is a foolish man; he arrived in London with lofty dreams of wealth and instead, gambled away his family’s already small fortune.  He was too ashamed to go home and face them, so he came to me for a loan.  He had nothing to offer, of course, so I immediately refused.  After speaking for a time, I learned from the pathetic man that he had a wife, a son who was recently married in another part of the country and an only daughter named Isabella.”

“And that is when the idea came to you.”

“Yes. Hawkins said the woman was mature, well educated, beautiful….”

“All fathers speak of their children being beautiful.” Thomas immediately interrupted. “Have you seen a photograph?”

“Actually, I have not.” John answered and continued before Thomas could interrupt again, “He agreed to give his daughter to me in marriage and for her dowry; I would pay off his debt, plus a little extra for his trouble.”

“When is this to take place?”

“Within the next month.  He left last week to prepare his daughter for her travel.  I will expect her by the end of the month.  Louis accompanied him with the money to ensure she boards the ship and Dùghall will meet them when they arrive in Southampton.”

“You are not going to meet her yourself?” Thomas raised an eyebrow.  A horrible breach of etiquette by an otherwise proper man.

“No, I am busy with this new merger we are undertaking.  I simply wish to get her here, marry as quickly as possible and be on with my business.”

“You seem quite determined, my friend.  Nothing I can do to dissuade you from this insane notion?”

Finally, John gave his friend a crooked smile, “No, the deal has been struck.”

“I am not sure how you expect to have heirs at that rate.” Thomas snorted as he stood up, then leaned over to tap his pipe in the ashtray.

But Lord Langley was steadfast in his resolve. “I do not need love to produce heirs.”

Thomas slid his pipe in his pocket, walked to the door and said softly, “But it certainly makes it more enjoyable.” Then he left, not caring whether John heard him or not.

But he had.

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