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The Mad Marquess


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How long will they have to wait until he’s free of his father’s control?

Jenny Hanson went to visit her good friend Mandy in Scotland, and while there she met Reade Ramsay, heir to the huge Catherwood estate. He followed her back to Houston where they fell in love.

Now he’s brought her back to Scotland with him, but Reade’s father, the aging but still cruel Marquess of Catherwood, makes their life together difficult. He may be senile, but he’s still lord of the manor, and he won’t hear of an engagement. To make matters worse, his two illegitimate sons have his protection and have turned Catherwood into a decadent playground. Reade has to hide his engagement to Jenny while protecting her from both his father and the sordidness that infects Catherwood.

This is book two in the Catherwood series but can be read independently.

Publisher’s Note: This contemporary romance contains elements of mystery, power exchange, and adult themes. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.



Published by
Published 01 March 2020
Reads 1
EAN13 9781645632313
Language English

Legal information: rental price per page 0.0012€. This information is given for information only in accordance with current legislation.

Catherwood - Book 2
LAURA HARTPublished by Blushing Books
An Imprint of
ABCD Graphics and Design, Inc.
A Virginia Corporation
977 Seminole Trail #233
Charlottesville, VA 22901
All rights reserved.
No part of the book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or
mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without permission in writing from the publisher. The trademark Blushing Books is pending in the US
Patent and Trademark Office.
Laura Hart
The Mad Marquess
EBook ISBN: 978-1-64563-231-3
Cover Art by ABCD Graphics & Design
This book contains fantasy themes appropriate for mature readers only. Nothing in this book should be
interpreted as Blushing Books' or the author's advocating any non-consensual sexual activity.C o n t e n t s
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Laura Hart
Blushing Books
Blushing Books NewsletterChapter 1
hat’s a gorgeous ring!” exclaimed Maisie as she studied Jenny’s hand. “You
can see those are top-quality diamonds.”
“Did you think Reade’s mother would have a ring from Shopping Network?”“T
asked Mandy with a laugh and then added, “Is this the permanent ring or just a place
“It’s permanent unless I want something different,” replied Jenny. “Reade said we can
get whatever I want, but I’d kind of like to keep this one. What do you think?”
“I’d keep it,” said Maisie, and Mandy nodded her agreement. “Me too.”
“It’s nice to have a family ring,” added Maisie, “and anyway, it’s a nice size. You won’t
have to worry about anyone planning a heist.”
“It’s not that small!” objected Jenny. “In fact, for me it’s almost a bit on the big side.
You know I like really simple jewelry.”
Then, before either of her friends could answer, she exclaimed, “You should have
seen the ruby ring his mother was wearing the day I met her. It was definitely
“I wonder who gave it to her?” asked Mandy. “Who did you tell us she’s married to
“Some French marquis named de Faucher.”
“Marquis de Faucher,” said Maisie. “Sounds totally French, doesn’t it? What’s he
“He was off in Africa on some kind of hunt when we were there, so I didn’t meet him.”
The look on Jenny’s face made it clear what she thought about hunting. “They’ve been
married for a long time, though, and Reade likes him.”
The three women were huddled around a corner table in Pancho Villa’s, their favorite
Tex-Mex restaurant in Edinburgh, drinking margaritas and enjoying nachos. They were all
there with drivers today, so they could indulge if they wanted and in fact had just ordered
their second pitcher of drinks.
Catherwood, the estate where Jenny was living, was in a neighboring county a good
hour away, so Reade had put a car and driver at her disposal shortly after she’d moved
back to Scotland with him. Mandy and Maisie normally drove themselves into the city, but
since they’d decided ahead of time to indulge in a pitcher (or two) of margaritas, Mandy’s
husband Quinn, had sent them with their own car and driver today, too.
“I can’t believe all this is happening,” said Maisie now as she shook her head slightly.
“You came over for a couple weeks to visit Mandy, bumped into Reade in the woods
totally by accident, and then left again having somehow caused Reade Ramsay, themysterious young Earl of Cranford who just happens to be heir to this enormous estate
and fortune, to fall madly in love with you. Do you have any idea how high you’re going to
“What do you mean, how high?”
“I mean rank wise. My God, Jenny, he’s going to be a marquess, which will make you
a marchioness. Mandy and I will be left trailing behind you in humble subservience.”
Mandy laughed, but Jenny looked uncomfortable. “I don’t like to hear that stuff.”
“You’d better get used to it,” returned Maisie. “It’s going to be your new life.”
“But she’s kidding about us trailing behind,” Mandy reassured her good friend.
“Well, literally, yes,” admitted Maisie, “but Reade’s father is really old and could die at
any time. You’ll be a marchioness while Mandy’s still a viscountess. That’s two ranks
higher.” Then she added, “And of course there’s me, with no rank at all.”
Mandy’s husband Quinn was a viscount, making Mandy a viscountess, and someday
he’d inherit the Morleton earldom, making him an earl and Mandy a countess. Maisie,
Quinn’s much younger sister, was married to the second son of an earl, so while she had
the courtesy title of ‘Lady’ because her own father was an earl, she had no title through
her husband.
“But what does it matter?” persisted Jenny. Knowing she wasn’t all that comfortable
with the peerage system, Reade usually underplayed the rank system with her, so she still
didn’t begin to understand it as well as her two friends did.
“It’s hard to explain,” Mandy said now, sloughing it aside. She’d known Jenny for years
back in Houston and knew how unassuming she was, and on a few occasions Mandy and
Maisie had even privately laughed good-naturedly at the idea of Jenny being a
marchioness. She was an all-American girl—cheeky, irreverent and not afraid to crack
jokes about the peerage. Evidently Reade was okay with it, but it was an unusual match.
“So what’s this you said about moving into the manor house?” asked Mandy.
“Reade had a really long talk with his mother while we were in France, and she thinks
he should go back to living there and bring me with him. She said now that we’re engaged,
he shouldn’t be hiding me from the world.”
“I agree,” said Maisie.
“Maybe, but he’s dragging his feet because he doesn’t want his father to meet me.”
“That’s really weird that you haven’t even met the marquess yet,” said Mandy with a
little frown.
“Reade said he’s getting senile. He calls for him a lot and then just yells at him when
he’s there. He never really wants anything except to be bossy and abusive.”
“According to the rumors, he’s always been bossy and abusive,” commented Maisie
with a little laugh.
“Well, I suppose bossy goes with the territory,” agreed Jenny, “but it would be nice to
be bossy about something. Every time Reade comes back after being summoned, he
says his father didn’t really want anything. He just yells and accuses him of lying or
stealing from him. He waves his cane around and threatens him, and once he caught
Reade’s cheek with it. Reade just wants him to hurry up and die.”
“Did he say that?” asked Mandy, surprised.
Mandy looked shocked, but Maisie nodded. “You know, if someone’s been abusive to
you all your life, you’re not exactly going to be their biggest fan. I probably wouldn’t be wildabout someone who’d thrown me in a dungeon.”
When Reade was fourteen, he’d run away, and when he was dragged back, his father
had thrown him into the old dungeon that still existed in the huge manor house. There’d
been rumors about the episode for more than two decades, but Jenny had found out it
was a true story. The marquess had kept his young son locked up in a dank cell for two
weeks, coming every few days to beat him so viciously that there were still a few faint
scars on his back.
“Getting back to your ring, what are you going to do about a wedding?” asked Mandy.
Jenny shrugged. “I don’t know. We haven’t really talked about it.”
“Isn’t that the point of having a ring?”
Jenny giggled. “Yes, but I don’t know what I want, and I really don’t think Reade does
either. I can’t quite imagine a wedding with his father there. I don’t even know if he’d
come. He’s like some crazy old recluse. I’d just as soon go elope somewhere, but Reade
mentioned once that if we’re married, his father has some control over me, and he doesn’t
want that.”
Mandy laughed. “So are you two just going to sit around hoping his father dies soon?”
Jenny shrugged again. “Maybe.”
“It would be a pity to waste your titles on no wedding,” declared Maisie. “I mean, come
on, we want some pageantry here.”
“If you wait until his father dies, you can have even more,” Mandy reminded her, but
Maisie shook her head.
“It’s not necessary. Everyone knows the Earl of Cranford is about to become the
Marquess of Catherwood, not to mention all the other titles that float around in that family.
I’ve heard they have titles from the Continent too. Has Reade talked about them at all?”
Maisie turned to Jenny with the last question, but her friend was frowning.
“Sometimes I wonder what I’m doing here. I’m not at all the right person to be dealing
with all these titles.”
Mandy nodded in agreement. “If you remember, that’s exactly what I used to say. It
can be really scary coming into all this.”
“At least Quinn’s family talked to each other,” replied Jenny. “We can’t have some big
wedding with Reade and his father barely speaking and no mother there to plan anything.”
“Maybe you could go to France and get married,” suggested Maisie. “I’ll bet his mother
and old de Faucher have a lot of friends, and her own family is from there, too, so you
could have all the trappings à la française.”
“I just don’t know,” answered Jenny, sounding a bit down about all of it. “I want to be
married but not go through all the hoopla. Actually, I was quite happy just being together
almost unofficially, but Reade’s mother told him he needs to set the right precedents now
for when he inherits.”
“She’s probably right,” agreed Mandy.
“We could put a huge splash in the paper all about the Earl of Cranford’s new fiancée,”
offered Maisie with a big grin. “How’s that for a precedent?”
Jenny gave her a threatening look. “It won’t do much for keeping the news from his
“If he’s senile, maybe he doesn’t even read the paper anymore.”
“Reade thinks there’s someone feeding him little tidbits, especially ones that stir the
pot,” replied Jenny. “When Reade first came back, his father knew he had a girlfriend inTexas.” Then she laughed. “Of course by the next day he’d forgotten again.”
“You need to meet him so you can tell us all about him,” said Mandy.
“I don’t think so,” answered Jenny. “I figure if Reade wants us apart, there’s probably a
good reason.”
“Your coming to live at Morleton was absolutely boring compared to what Jenny’s
dealing with,” Maisie said to Mandy. “I remember those early days, the family dinners with
my father sitting there stone-faced and you looking terrified, but at least you two were at
the same table and on speaking terms.”
“I was terrified, but at least I wasn’t worried your father would start screaming abuse
and threatening people with his cane.”
Maisie laughed at the idea of her father, the ever-proper Earl of Morleton, losing
control of himself in public and then said to Jenny, “You know that Chinese saying ‘May
you live in interesting times’? I think you’ve got that part down pat. Maybe you should start
a journal so that you can remember everything someday if you want to write about Crazy
Catherwood and the Mad Marquess.”
“How was your outing?” asked Quinn that evening as he and Mandy shared the sofa in
their private sitting area.
“It was fun. I love having Jenny here now, but I wish she wasn’t so far away.”
“She’s a lot closer than she was in Houston.”
“Thank you, Dr. Geography.”
Quinn raised his eyebrows in surprise. He could always tell when Mandy had been with
Jenny, because the Houston cheeky gene popped up.
“What’s going on with Reade and his father?” he asked, changing the subject.
Mandy told him some of what the women had talked about, and Quinn shook his head.
“I don’t envy him, that’s for sure,” he said with a serious look on his face. “He’s in a
really tough spot.”
“You mean because his father yells at him all the time?”
“I expect he’s used to that. I was thinking more of the fact that ordinarily his word
would already be law on the march, second only, of course, to his father. He should have
tremendous power, but if he and his father are at odds, that leaves the staff not sure what
to do. They dare not disregard the marquess, even if he’s not always in his right mind
now, but I’m sure it’s clear to everyone that his days are numbered, meaning they can’t
afford to alienate Reade either, who will himself be the marquess in the very near future.
“I gather from what you say that until now Reade’s basically gone his own way and
didn’t involve himself too much in march affairs even though it’s his birthright. Now though,
if he agrees with his mother’s advice and wants to begin establishing his authority there, it
could lead to some interesting situations which won’t be easy for anyone.” He shook his
head again in commiseration.
“Maisie said that in comparison to the Catherwood saga, my coming here was
downright easy,” said Mandy with a tiny giggle as she scooted closer to Quinn.
“I’d have to agree. My father may have been cool to the whole thing, but he wascertainly in his right mind and always openly supported me as the heir.”
He wrapped his arms around Mandy and pulled her against him. “It will be interesting to
see how this plays out. Reade has his work cut out for him, that’s for sure. I just hope
Jenny’s up for whatever happens.”Chapter 2
’m back,” sang out Jenny as she came through the door of the house she and
Reade were temporarily living in on Catherwood. It was a comfortable two-story
eighteenth-century stone structure several miles away from the manor house and“I
had its own private entry from the public road.
“There you are,” said Reade as he got up from a chair in the living room. “I was
starting to wonder if you’d run away.”
Jenny giggled. “Not today.”
Reade reached out and took four books from her that she was carrying. “What are all
“Mandy lent them to me. They’re books about Scottish history.”
“I didn’t realize you were going to become a student of our history,” he replied, looking
“I’m not, but I figure I should know a little bit if I’m going to live here. These are a few of
the books Mandy read when she first came here. They’re historical novels, so they’re
more interesting than straight history books.”
Reade nodded his approval. It might work out really well for Jenny to have Mandy as a
model to follow in making the transition from Texas to Scotland.
“Are you hungry?” he asked.
“Are you kidding? I’m stuffed! We ate for hours.” She giggled again.
“Should we start ordering you some fat clothes?” asked Reade with a twinkle in his
eyes. He wrapped his arms around her and then added, “Yes, I can definitely feel those
nachos and margaritas.”
“How do you know what we had?” demanded Jenny. “Were you spying on us?”
“Hardly, but I spent enough time in Houston to make an educated guess.”
“I need a kiss,” announced Jenny suddenly as she looked up at him.
“What a coincidence. So do I.” He pulled her over to the sofa where he sat down with
her on top of him and then wrapped his arms around her again.
“Mm-m,” said Jenny when she could get a breath. “You’ve been practicing.”
“Did I need it?”
Jenny giggled again. “Maybe.”
“Oh, you’re going to be in trouble,” teased Reade as he tickled her ribs.
“Stop!” cried Jenny as she pushed his hand away. Then she got serious. “You know,
this reminds me of something I was thinking about the other day.”
“Well, I kind of asked you once before, but you just made a joke out of it, but it’s a realquestion.”
“All right, I’m listening.”
“You joke around with me sometimes, and most of the time you’re nice, too. Isn’t that
kind of strange when you grew up with someone like your father?”
The look on Reade’s face became serious. “Just because you live with someone
doesn’t mean you need to be like them.”
“Well, no, not by choice, but usually we absorb ideas and behaviors from our parents
even when we don’t want to. You know, like you say, ‘Oh, I’d never do that,’ and then you
find yourself doing exactly that.”
Reade didn’t answer immediately, so Jenny went on. “I remember in my psychology
classes reading about how having abusive parents scarred people, but you don’t seem to
be scarred. Why is that?”
“That’s a very big question,” he replied. “Maybe I’m old enough to have thought things
through for myself.”
“But that wouldn’t erase your instincts, which should be to copy what was done to
“If you’d rather, I can scream at you and beat you.”
“You already d o beat me,” she answered, frowning at him.
“No, little one, I don’t beat you, and I never will. I told you before, spanking and beating
are very different things.”
“If you say so.”
“Surely you’ve seen movies where someone was beaten. Can’t you tell the
“I guess.” Jenny hated having to back off something once she’d said it, but she knew
he was right.
Reade was silent a minute and then said, “I’m going to tell you something I’ve never
admitted to anyone before. Unfortunately, I probably do have some of my father
programmed into me. It’s most likely unavoidable, so I just have to be aware of it. There
have been a few times in my life when my first instinct was to react much more strongly
than was justified but, thank goodness, I’ve always gone on and had second thoughts that
counteracted that first instinct.”
“So if I made you really mad, would your father come out of you?”
“How do you know?”
“It’s just something I know. I find his behavior reprehensible, and I can’t fit that together
in my mind with the love I have for you. You don’t ever have to be afraid of me, that I can
promise you.”
Jenny gave him a pointed look. “Unless you feel like spanking me, you mean.”
Reade shook his head and smiled slightly. “What am I going to do with you?” he asked
as he tightened his arms around her again.
Just then there was a sound from the kitchen area.
“What’s that?” asked Jenny, looking surprised.
“Moira’s in the kitchen,” answered Reade. Moira Baird was a servant from the manor
house who had been coming every day to clean and bring food.
“Well, I guess it’s a good thing I only wanted a kiss. Would you have warned me if I’d
started stripping off my clothes?”He laughed. “Unless I was too distracted.”
“Maybe she could get us something to drink,” suggested Jenny. “I’m parched. I always
get that way after Tex-Mex.”
“What do you want?”
“An icy cold Coke with the glass full of ice.”
“You’ve got it.” He picked up a small bell on the end table, but Jenny grabbed it out of
his hand.
“Wait! I’d better get it myself. Moira truly doesn’t understand the concept of a glass full
of ice.”
Reade looked amused. “I’m sure she’s capable of learning. Why don’t you show her?”
Jenny got up. “I’ll just go get it myself. Do you want one?”
“Not a Coke, no. Maybe a bottle of ale, though.”
“Okay, but are you really going to drink it from the bottle? That would be a first.”
Reade smiled. “I didn’t mean that. Have Moira show you how to pour it into a glass.”
“I think I can do that without help.”
“Not really. You don’t pour straight down enough.”
Jenny rolled her eyes. “Then you can come pour your own ale.”
She turned and walked out, leaving Reade to shake his head as he got up to follow
her. No wonder he was so crazy about her. He’d been an earl since he was six, and he
couldn’t remember anyone in his life ever treating him so off-handedly, telling him to pour
his own ale. If he ever got too full of himself, she’d shoot him back to earth very quickly.
“What’s this?” asked Jenny as she picked up a drawing lying on a table near Reade, who
was sitting in a chair studying a report.
“Where have you been?” he responded, asking his own question instead.
“I was talking to my mom.”
“Do you want me to fly her over so she can meet me?”
“Not now, but I promised her we’d Skype this weekend.”
“All right.”
“So now answer my question. What is this?” Jenny looked at the paper she’d picked
up that had different colored markings on it.
“It’s a map of Catherwood.”
“So what are all the colors?”
“They’re the smaller houses and some of the other buildings on the grounds.”
“What do the colors mean?”
Reade hesitated. He wasn’t sure how much he wanted Jenny to know about the
situation at Catherwood. “They indicate usage.”
She looked at the drawing more carefully and saw there was a small legend in the
corner showing what the colors meant.
“Which one is our house?” she asked.
Reade took the drawing from her and pointed to a house on the western edge of the
estate.“There’s a lot of orange,” she commented, trying to see the drawing he was still
holding. “What does that mean?”
Reade hesitated. That was exactly what he wasn’t sure he wanted to share with her.
Jenny tried to take the drawing back out of his hands, but he didn’t let go, so she
playfully tugged on it. “Give it back,” she said as she pulled.
“You’re going to rip it,” he warned as she kept pulling it.
“So stop holding on. I had it first.”
And there was that cheeky side that always took him by surprise. Again, who else in
his world spoke to him that way?
“Actually, I had it first. You came over and picked it up.”
“Fine, but I was already holding it when you took it to show me our house. Now I want
it back.”
“And do you always get what you want?”
She giggled. “I try to.”
He shook his head and handed the drawing back to her.
“So what’s all the orange?” she repeated as she looked down at the legend. Then she
read aloud, “Adair and Harold? Aren’t those your half-brothers?”
“Why do they have so many houses? Did your father give them to them?”
“He can’t give them entailed property, but he can let them use them temporarily.”
Jenny frowned. “What’s entailed property?”
“It’s property that belongs to the estate that has to stay together.”
“Well, that’s clear as mud,” she answered, still frowning slightly.
“Property that’s entailed belongs to the estate that’s controlled by law as a single
inheritance for the legal heir.”
“In other words, you.”
“In this case, yes.”
“So these colors don’t mean they own them, only that they’re using them, right?”
“Why? Do they rent them out?”
Reade chuckled in spite of himself. “I doubt it.”
“So what do they do with all those houses?”
“That’s an interesting question.”
“You don’t know?”
“I have some information but not all.”
“So did your father give them permission to use those houses?”
“Probably at some point, but I don’t think he’s capable of it now.”
“You know, this is like Twenty Questions. I ask a question and you give me a tiny
answer. Why don’t you just tell me about them?”
Reade sighed. “Because I’m not sure I want you to know.”
Jenny was suddenly on full alert. “What don’t you want me to know?”
Reade paused and then said, “Remember how Maisie told you there were a lot of
rumors about Catherwood?”
“For many years my father has allowed activities here that shouldn’t be going on, and
Adair and Harold are deeply involved in much if not most of it. I don’t know how much myfather is aware of now, but we’re going back many years. Remember that Adair and
Harold are in their mid- to late fifties, and as far as I can tell, they’ve indulged in
questionable goings-on their entire adult lives. These houses are being used for their
“What kind of activities?”
“I don’t have all the specifics right now, but even if I did, I’m not sure I’d want to share
it with you. There’s no reason for you to hear about all the decadence that Catherwood
has become home to.”
Jenny’s eyes sparkled with interest. “But I want to know. It sounds like a really good
Reade looked serious. “Stories are often more entertaining when they’re not up close
and personal, and what’s happening on Catherwood is very personal, at least to me. I’ve
ignored it for most of my adult life, but I can no longer do so. My mother is right. It’s time
for me to assert myself and take a position on what’s going on here.”
“But if your father says it’s okay, you can’t stop it, can you?”
“Probably not, but the question arises whether or not he’s capable of agreeing to these
things anymore. I don’t know the answer to that yet, but right now I simply need to gather
as much information as I can.”
“Will you tell me what you find out?”
“Not necessarily. I didn’t bring you here to fill your head with ugliness.”
“I’m not a delicate little flower, you know. You can tell me what you find out.”
Reade looked amused. “You may not be a delicate little flower, but neither will anyone
ever confuse you with a hardened woman of the world. Aren’t you the one who, by your
own admission, cries at Hallmark moments?”
Jenny giggled. “Yes, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to hear a good story. Just
don’t make it a sad one.”
“Why don’t we put all this away for now,” said Reade as he managed to take the paper
out of her hands once again and lay it aside. “I have a much better idea on how we can
amuse ourselves.”
“Will I like your idea?” she asked grinning up at him.
“I think you will.” He scooped her up in his arms and started towards the staircase.
“This stairway is really narrow. The last time you carried me up, I bumped my head
“Are you telling me you’d prefer to walk up on your own?”
“No, I’m telling you to be more careful!”
And there it was yet again, that cheeky way of speaking that had first caught his
“Yes, ma’am,” he said with a chuckle. “I’ll do my best.”Chapter 3
ver the next several days Reade spent a good deal of time conferring with the
estate’s property managers, the central finance office, and Findlay, his father’s
closest assistant who had been with the white-haired marquess for decades.O
The conversations were sometimes difficult, for, as Quinn had mentioned to Mandy,
employees on the estate had to deal with a situation of divided loyalties. The aging
marquess had always ruled by fear and intimidation whereas his heir, the young Earl of
Cranford, was far more likable. He was no-nonsense about business, but he treated those
around him with respect, something the marquess had never done.
Reade decided to deal with at least some of the matters head on, so he asked for an
appointment to see his father, something he’d rarely done. Now, with his father’s mental
instability, it would be even more difficult, because there was no way of knowing how
things would be when the appointment took place. That the old man would be belligerent
and threatening went without saying, but beyond that, what? Would his paranoia be on full
display, would he even be interested in what Reade had to say, would he be able to recall
the details necessary to discuss the estate? Reade would simply have to take a chance.
“Good luck,” said Jenny as she watched her handsome fiancé checking his tie in the
“I’m going to need it,” came the reply as Reade gave her a goodbye kiss. So much
would depend on the marquess’ mental state that morning.
“Good morning, Father,” he said some twenty minutes later as he entered his father’s
day room.
The marquess watched his son approach silently, not bothering to return the greeting.
“I hope you’re well this morning,” continued Reade as he neared the old man.
“Why are you here?”
“I have an appointment to speak with you, sir.”
“We have nothing to speak about.”
Reade stopped fairly near his father and waited. He knew better than to sit down
without an invitation, which he probably wouldn’t receive, but at least his father wasn’t
yelling… yet.
The marquess was squinting at his son as if trying to remember something. “Where’s
your mother, boy?” he asked suddenly.
Reade made a point to not show his surprise. “She’s in France, sir.”
“What’s she doing there?”
“She lives there, sir.”
“When is she going to return?”