Lord Liar – Roselyn Francis

There was nowhere more pleasing to Lord Owen Bradford, the Marquis of Richmond, than the club. His stunning blonde paramour laid her hands on his shoulders. She was not gentle with her touches, and this sent his desires rising ferociously. Owen laughed as she whispered inaudible promises in his ear to satisfy him. This kind of debauched entertainment had become Owen’s life since his father began pressuring him to marry. Owen was not quite eager to do his father’s bidding. He had spent his younger days at Eton, after which he was enrolled into the militia at the age of one and twenty. He had served his country for six years before he returned home and was rapidly saddled with the responsibilities of being the heir to the Duchy of Everfair—which he had no problem with. Until he was asked to seek out a wife. He was overwhelmed by the demand, as he wished to live freely. He wanted more time to enjoy some merriment before he not only took over the duchy, but began his own family. This was why he had opted for this particular destination—the gentleman’s club. It was where he spent most of his nights, always disappearing in the wee hours of the morning. It kept him away from his father’s reach, as he doubted his father would ever suspect that he was here. This made his avoidance of the older Bradford easy.

“Would you like for us to go upstairs, my lord?” the courtesan asked, her hands rubbing his shoulders seductively. Owen had forgotten what her name was, but he was enjoying her company. He took the last sip of the brandy he’d been drinking and rose. The courtesan rose with him. Owen slipped his hand around her waist as she led him towards the stairs. They walked past other men and paramours who were having their own fun—drinking, playing cards, and all sorts of sinful activities. Owen was a tad tipsy, so he leaned on the courtesan to keep him stable while he walked, for he feared he may soon fall flat on the floor. Just as they approached the bottom of the staircase, the club’s front door was flung open. The sound of the door hitting against the wall resounded, echoing in his ears and making his head ache. Angered by such a mannerless act, Owen turned to reprimand whoever it was.

He was unable to do this, however, because when he turned, his gaze fell on the blazing eyes of his father. Owen swallowed, unable to move as the Duke of Everfair marched towards him. “Father. Pleasure to see you,” Owen muttered, albeit sarcastically. Lord Everfair stared at him disdainfully. “You are drunk. You’ve drank to crapulence,” the duke stated. Owen closed his eyes and smiled. He held on to the courtesan tightly. “No, Father.

I still have my wits.” “Enough! Unhand the lady now. We are going home.” “Father—” “You are dismissed,” the duke directed his comment to the courtesan. Owen clenched his teeth as the courtesan let go of him and walked around them. Lord Everfair narrowed his grey eyes at Owen. “We are heading home, Owen. I have had enough of your roughish behaviour.” Owen did not protest to this. Perhaps because he was too tired to, or because he perceived the impending wrath of his father and knew there was no avoiding it.

Either way, he did not object to his father’s insistence that he come home. After all, he had not seen his father in a while, and it was high time he stopped running and told his father head-on what he wanted out of his own life. An hour later, Owen was seated in his father’s lavish parlour in Everfair Manor. He still felt a slight pounding in his head. What a night it had been. And the night had only been beginning when his father interrupted. The sound of the door opening alerted Owen. He looked up, expecting his father to come in, but he was relieved to see a maid carrying a cup of tea. He stared grimly as the maid set down the tray and curtsied. She walked out immediately.

It was only then that Owen took notice of Mr Jenkins, the longstanding steward of Everfair Manor. He bowed. “His Grace has asked that you have some tea while you await him.” It took all his restraint to hold back the pending retort that sat idly at the tip of his tongue. His father did know how to keep him waiting. This was surely a part of the punishment. Owen took a sip of the tea and it indeed was satisfying, as it helped ease his headache. No sooner had he begun to feel better than his father walked through the threshold. Lord Everfair stared at his son with narrowed eyes as he took a seat. “I assume you’re sober now.

” Owen already knew what this conversation was to be about. And he’d come prepared to state the reasons why he would not do as his father wished. After he had done that, he would return to his townhouse and continue to live his life the way he wanted. “Whatever you’ve brought me here to say, Father, you must understand that I shall not agree—” “You’ve barely heard what it is I have to say.” “It is the same thing you have been saying for the past two years. I shall be trying my luck if I even for a second assume that you might utter anything differently,” Owen said, relaxing into his seat. “Shall you not even ask if I have anything different to say?” “I shan’t. I know you do not.” Lord Everfair heaved while massaging his temple. Owen simulated indifference, even though he itched to rise and walk out.

“I do,” the duke enunciated. “Must be interesting.” “Enough of your insolence, Owen! You will listen to what I have to say,” Lord Everfair snapped. “You have until the end of the Season to bring home a bride, be wed, and produce an heir.” “And if I refuse?” “Then I shall cut down on your allowance.” This unexpected announcement from his father made him sit up with a jerk, his cool and nonchalant mien long forgotten. Surely his father was jesting. He would never truly do that, would he? His thoughts were moving rapidly, and he was unable to stable them. Without pausing to think, he said, “This must be a joke.” “I dare you, Owen.

Allow the Season to go by without finding a wife and see what happens. You shall no longer receive your bountiful allowance. I wonder how you shall be able to maintain your lavish lifestyle without it?” Owen was shocked by what his father had said. “Father, you can’t do that.” Owen sat up. “The decision has already been made, Son.” Owen stared into his father’s eyes and saw that the man was set on this decision. He shook his head slowly while muttering, ”No.” If he had not taken his father’s words seriously before, he did now, and he was petrified of what would happen if his father decreased his allowance. He was terrified of l living without the benefits he currently had.

But agreeing to wed was also not part of his plan. He wanted to live before he was subdued by marriage, which yearned for loyalty. If he eventually got married, he wanted to be faithful to his wife—he was not ready for such just yet. It was a difficult choice to make, choosing to move up his plans for his life, or living without the benefits that aided in maintaining his high-flying lifestyle. Owen could not believe his father would put him in such a difficult position, knowing that either option was not in his favour. Owen felt overwhelmed and enraged by this. If he had known what this meeting had in store, he would never have agreed to come. Owen looked up at his father, eager to make a counter, to make his stance known on what he wanted, but he was stopped by his father’s gaze. He recognized that gaze. It was the same one he had when the duchess had passed away.

It was filled with disappointment, anger, sadness. Owen swallowed. He cast his gaze away. His father would never listen to any counter he brought. And if he left here with a decision to go against his father’s wishes, nothing would end well for him All his partying and merriment would have to stop. No nobleman would even agree to be in business with him, due to his history of being a scoundrel. And in the end, he would have to run back to his father, begging. If it came to that, it would be most unbearable for him. He would be at his worst. No! He could not allow that to happen.

He would rather be wed than have himself scrambling around for a solution to him being penniless. Owen was out of options. However, he looked back at his father in hopes that he would change his mind and rethink this drastic decision. But the Duke of Everfair now relaxed in his seat, claiming the seemingly unperturbed expression that Owen had expressed earlier. Owen knew then that his father meant every word and would not bend his rules for any reason whatsoever. This meant one thing. He had to find a wife. And he had to do so soon. However, Owen feared that he may not be able to come up to scratch by the end of the Season. Even if he tried, everything might still end in his own detriment.


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