Home > A Wicked Kind of Husband(9)

A Wicked Kind of Husband(9)
Author: Mia Vincy

“Never mind,” he muttered. “I hardly even remember it.”

“You probably don’t even remember my name.”

“Of course I do. It’s Clarissa, isn’t it?”

“Oh, well done, Josiah.”

The door opened and she allowed herself to be assisted gracefully to the footpath. Joshua jumped down and scowled at her. Blasted woman had to stop saying things like that, or he would find himself liking her rather more than was wise.

“Mrs. DeWitt,” he said. “You will leave here tomorrow.”

“I am willing to do whatever you ask, Mr. DeWitt.”


“So long as you do not ask anything that I am not willing to do.”

With this astounding display of insubordination, she swept up the steps of his house and through the door without a backward glance.



Joshua paid off the driver and bounded up the steps, through the door, and into his entrance hall, only to skid to a halt at the sight of Filby and Thomas, one holding the stupid bonnet and parasol, the other holding a green pelisse, both blinking at him with surprise. He went to fling his hat onto the hall table but—

He stopped short, staring at the table.

“What in blazes is that?”

The butler and footman exchanged a glance and did not answer. Joshua prowled around to study the alien object from a different angle. He sneezed and the two servants jumped.

Das appeared in the doorway. “Those colorful, fragrant things are known as ‘flowers’,” Das said. “The vessel that holds them is called a ‘vase’.”

“A vase? Why would I even own such a useless thing?”

He glared at the butler, who summed up the situation in two ominous words: “Mrs. DeWitt.”

Joshua flicked the head of a fat pink flower—devil knew what it was called—and it bobbed cheerfully. The whole exuberant arrangement stood a good two feet tall and was nearly as wide.

“This is a colonization, Das. That woman is colonizing my house. Do you know what that means?”

“Years of bloodshed, oppression, and exploitation, perhaps?”

“I wouldn’t be surprised.” Joshua turned back to Filby, who had thankfully rid himself of the bonnet, and tossed the roll of paper at him. “Put that in the study. Is Newell here too?”

“Yes, sir. Mrs. DeWitt requested that he be treated like a guest.”

“Guest? Ha! If I see him, I’ll fire him. Tell him to make arrangements for that woman to go back home.”

“You mean your wife?”

“That’s the one.”

“Mrs. DeWitt seems very charming,” Das said.

“We are not discussing Mrs. DeWitt.” Joshua glared at the table. Flowers. In a vase. All pretty and useless and taking up space, except the square occupied by the silver salver.

On which sat a letter. Addressed to him.

He couldn’t put his hat there now, could he, so he put it back on his head.

“Das, we have work to do.”

He pivoted again, made for the door, but Filby darted in front of him, brandishing that salver.

“Your brother Mr. Isaac called again, sir,” the butler said. “He left another letter. We were going to send it after you to Liverpool.”

“Send it wherever you please. Come along, Das. Not a moment to waste.”



Back outside, Joshua headed toward St. James. Before long, Das was by his side, reading something as he walked.

Isaac’s letter.

“Send him more money,” Joshua said.

“He has not asked for money. He points out that he didn’t ask for money last time either.” Das’s voice had taken on a provokingly judgmental tone. “He has made progress in his search for your mother and sister. He wants to see you.”

The image of Isaac swam in his mind, as he had been the last time Joshua saw him. Ten years old—Fast legs—Scraped knees—Chattering faster than a magpie. Isaac, eyes bright at the thought of going to sea and not having to go back to school, pointing out that he was intended for the Navy anyway, so being demoted from the Earl of Treyford’s legitimate third son to illegitimate third son made no difference, and he might as well go immediately if Lord Charles could find a position. And now—kicked out of the Navy with a bad leg, at a loose end, young enough to think finding their mother was the answer, but too young to understand that their mother didn’t want to be found. A family reunion was a stupid idea; if they couldn’t hold together fourteen years ago, they were not going to do it now.

“Tell him I’m busy. Send him some money or find him a job or…Tell him that…”

“Perhaps you should write to him yourself,” Das said.

“I never write letters. I hire you and a dozen other secretaries to write letters. If I went around writing letters, I’d be wasting my time and you’d all be out of a job and nothing would get done and we’d all be miserable.”

“But Mr. Isaac is your brother.”

Joshua glared at his secretary, who didn’t flinch. “Do I detect a tone of disapproval, Das?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Do I pay you to disapprove of me, Das?”

“No, sir. I provide the disapproval for free.”

“Remind me to bloody thank you some time.”

He should have just gone to Liverpool, never mind that the trip promised to be dull. Or back home to Birmingham. No inconvenient family members ambushed him there.

“Mr. Isaac also warns you about Lord Bolderwood,” Das added. “Apparently, his lordship is upset over the money lost on the Baltic investment.”

“Everyone lost money on that one. I told him it was speculation.”

“He reports that Bolderwood claims you swindled him and he is plotting revenge.”

“If Isaac wants drama, he can go to Covent Garden,” Joshua said. “Bolderwood is as frightening as a three-legged calf.”

The young viscount was about as useful and sensible as one as well, curse him.

“Is his situation very bad?” he finally asked. “Bolderwood, I mean.”

Das folded Isaac’s letter. “Rumor is he borrowed the money for that investment. From a moneylender.”

“What?” Joshua skidded to a stop. “I told him only to risk what he could afford to lose.”

“I believe he remained optimistic.”

“The devil save us from optimists. Idiots, the lot of them.” He moved on again. “Send Cosway or someone to make discreet inquiries. Not that I want to bail that clown out. These young lords. Receive an estate as their birthright and they give it as much respect as they give their breakfast. To think that could have been me.”

He twirled the signet ring on his little finger. Would he have been like that? If his father’s first wife, Lady Susan Lightwell, had in fact died when Treyford said she had and hadn’t turned out to be living in an Irish convent all those years—if Treyford’s bigamous marriage to Joshua’s mother hadn’t been dissolved—if Joshua was still heir to the earldom as he had been for the first fourteen years of his life…Treyford was in excellent health, promising to be a blight on society for years yet, so would Joshua have been like Bolderwood? Fashionable, profligate, and utterly useless.

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