Flick, aware that the case will see Darius appointed King’s Counsel, with the huge increase in recognition and income that position will afford him, dislikes seeing her beloved com-promise his standards. This is how Darius explains his position to her:
“Flick.” Darius stood as she entered. “This is a pleasant surprise.”
“Is it true?” she demanded aggressively. “Are you representing Cuthbert?”
“Ah, so you’ve heard.” He cupped his chin in his hand. “I was hoping I’d have an opportunity to tell you myself.”
All the air seemed to leave Flick’s lungs in an extravagant whoosh, and she fell into the chair Darius held out for her just seconds before her legs gave out. “I didn’t believe it when Rob told me. I was sure he must have got it wrong.” Distress and disappointment whipped through her but she tamped down her emotions and met his gaze, reminding her-self that he deserved the opportunity to explain.
“No, he didn’t get it wrong,” Darius said softly.
“Why?” she asked, feeling ridiculously close to tears of disappointment.
He didn’t seem able to meet her gaze and stood to stare out of the window. “You don’t understand how these things work,” he said, turning his back to her and clasping his hands behind it.
His attitude infuriated her. He had never patronized her in the past and she was in no mood to put up with it now. “Then perhaps if you use very short words you can make me understand,” she said with a sarcastic smile. “I’ve been your most loyal supporter all these years, encouraging you to continue down the path you chose even when you hit oppo-sition and derision. You owe me the opportunity to understand why you’ve changed direc-tion.”
“Then understand that I have to make a living.” He ran a hand through his hair, still with his back to her. Why was he afraid to look at her? “Fighting for the rights of the less privileged is all well and good but it isn’t enough to support me.”
Flick wrinkled her brow. “But Brightstone Manor? I assumed your estate provided you with a good enough living to underwrite your efforts here.”
Now he did turn to look at her, a bitter smile playing about his lips. “Have you ever really thought about it?” He waved a hand to stop her from answering. “Not that I would have expected you to. It’s really not your concern.”
“But I want it to—”
“My estate now turns a modest profit. It has taken me a while to turn matters round since my father almost destroyed the place with his determination to gamble away every penny he made, and many more that he didn’t have.”
Flick nodded, her temper cooling slightly. “That must have been very difficult for you. No wonder you’re so opposed to gambling.”
“Whatever profit I make is ploughed straight back into the estate. What I make here in London as a barrister is what I must live on, pay my clerk’s wages, the rent on these chambers and ancillary expenses.” He shrugged, looking uncomfortable to be discussing such matters but clearly feeling the need to justify his actions. “My estate is tiny compared to the Hall and I can’t rely on it to fund my career.”
Flick felt terrible for not having considered the matter in that light. “I had no idea,” she said softly.
“There isn’t any reason why you should have.”
There was an air of charged expectancy between them. The atmosphere was brittle with tension, even though Darius still appeared to have trouble meeting her eyes. She could tell he wasn’t happy about the actions he’d taken. It must have trequired a lot of soul searching to abandon his principles. She’d made matters worse by charging in here, hurling accusations at him, when she hadn’t even stopped to consider that he might be acting out of financial necessity. It was kind of Darius not to point out that she’d never had to think about money in her entire life.
“If I do this, if I can somehow pull it off,” Darius said, “it will be the making of my career.”
“You have been made promises?”
“I could become King’s Counsel,” he said with becoming modestly.
Flick’s dwindling anger gave way to a burst of pride. “But you deserve that honour anyway, given the way you’ve devoted yourself to the cause of justice.”
He flashed an engaging smile. “You’re biased,” he said tenderly. “Most people don’t see it that way.”
“Then they are very short sighted indeed.”
They had both run out of things to say. All the words Flick had practised in the car-riage coming over here seemed inappropriate now and, unsettled by her selfishness, she didn’t voice them.
“What are you really doing here, Flick?” he asked.
She lifted her eyes to his face and held his gaze. “I’m tired of playing games, Darius.
All well and good, but there are powerful people out to stop Darius for reasons of their own. They will do whatever it takes, including threatening Darius’s property and Flick’s life…
Thanks for having me here,
The Isle of Wight is full of historic buildings, which is where she acquired her love of history, absorbing it like osmosis. She is the author of nine single-title Regency romances and is excited about her up-coming series charting the fortunes of the Forster dynasty.
When not writing she enjoys reading other people’s books, walking miles with her dog whilst plotting her next scene, and is on a one-woman mission to save the wine industry from the economic slump. Well, someone’s got to do it!
Beguiling the Barrister by Wendy Soliman
Book #2 in the Forsters series
Flick--more properly known as Lady Felicity Forster--was twelve when she decided she was going to marry her handsome neighbor Darius Grantley. Now, embarking on her second season, she's no nearer to that lofty ambition. She commits to making Darius fall in love with her, if only he'd take a break from pleading the case of the common criminal as a barrister at the Old Bailey.
Darius adores the lovely, high-spirited younger sister of the Marquess of Denby, but he's all too aware that Flick is far above him in social status, not to mention fortune. Winning the high-profile Cuthbert case will earn him a promised appointment to King's Counsel and just enough income to provide a home for his well-born lady.
But the cards are stacked against him. Not only do the newspapers trumpet his clients' guilt, but a powerful peer bribes the witnesses and threatens Flick unless Darius sabotages his own case...
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