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A Governess for the Brooding Duke

By´╝ÜBridget Barton

Chapter 1



“Are you telling me, Mr Wharton, that there is really nothing at all? My father left me nothing?” Georgette Darrington was so shocked that she felt nauseous.



“I am afraid not, Miss Darrington. It is not that he chose to leave you nothing, my dear. Rather the sale of the house will barely cover the debts he accrued in his lifetime. In truth, he has made it clear that you shall be the sole beneficiary of whatever the residue is after the debts are cleared. Unfortunately, there is no residue.”



“But he will have known this, Mr Wharton. My father would have been very well aware of the size of his debts and the value of his house. He would have known very well that he was leaving me destitute, and yet he chose to say nothing. He chose to give me not one moment’s grace to gather my thoughts and work out what I ought to do next.”



“I daresay things feel awfully raw at the moment, Miss Darrington. It is only a week since you buried your father, and this must be a most distressing time for you.” Mr Wharton delivered what Georgette thought was truly the biggest understatement she had ever heard.



Georgette had mourned her father as much as it was possible for her to do given the relationship they had. His passing had distressed her and had rather given her the feeling of being an orphan, despite being almost one and twenty years of age.



The reading of the will, however, was truly equally as distressing. In many ways, more so, because it was tinged with fear. Of course, when the reality of it finally settled itself within her mind, Georgette Darrington knew that she would no longer be simply afraid but would be rather terrified. Because, if what the attorney was telling her was absolutely true, then she was not simply homeless, but also penniless.



“Raw?” Georgette said, surprised by how calm her voice sounded. “Yes, I daresay.”



“And you have no family to go to?” Mr Wharton was asking a question he already knew the answer to.



The reason Georgette Darrington was the sole heiress to her father’s estate, albeit a non-existent one, was because there were no male heirs, even in terms of extended family. In truth, Georgette was the very last of the Darringtons, and her father had no other family to speak of. If she had any relations remaining on her mother’s side, then Georgette did not know it. And, in any case, nobody, man or woman, would have inherited in Georgette’s maternal family anyway.



In truth, she rather wished that her mother had come from a bigger family. If she had, then Georgette would not be entirely alone and without options at that moment. She would have had, if nothing else, at least a few relations to whom to write and beg for shelter. And it would have been begging in every sense of the word, for it would seem that she would not even have a few pounds a year with which to keep herself. Georgette’s father had spent every last penny and more besides.



Edward Darrington had neither been an easy father nor a hard one. He was simply incredibly detached from his only child, presumably disappointed that she was not a male. It had always struck her that he was further disappointed that she was the one and only child he and his wife had managed to produce in the fifteen years they shared together before Georgette’s mother had died.



Whilst he had not particularly showered the motherless Georgette with affection, he had not specifically made many demands of her either. In truth, she had been rather left to go her own way and, if she was entirely honest, had quite liked it.



Georgette had not especially thought much of marriage beforehand, rather thinking herself to have a good deal of time in which to contemplate the matter. And her father, seemingly having no ambitions for her in that sense, simply left her to herself.



Edward Darrington had not urged her to find a man of wealth or title, nor even one who had neither of those things. In truth, Georgette had been quite grateful for it, for she had known many a young woman with a rather determined family forcing her into the path of a man she did not want.



“Mr Wharton, I have no family,” Georgette said, bleakly. “I have no family; I have no money, and now I have no home. I truly have nothing, do I?” She looked up at him with sorrowful, dark brown eyes.



“Did you have no notion whatsoever of your father’s spending?” Mr Wharton said, although his tone was in no way judgemental.



“I knew that my father liked the card tables and the drink; I just did not know how much. What I mean is, I had no idea how much he was spending on the card tables. It must have been the card tables, after all, for a man could not spend an entire house on drink and live to be fifty, could he?”



“No, indeed.” Mr Wharton shook his head sadly. “Your father, I am afraid to say, is reputed to have developed the habit of bidding rather large amounts. Perhaps he was simply trying to win back enough money to save himself and thought the larger amounts might do it.”

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