Eirin Ch. 06bymeg1©
This is the final installment of Eirin. I would like to thank everyone for all the wonderful feedback I have received as well as your patience. I know it has taken a long time but I think you will find it worth the wait.
Again, thank you and enjoy.
Lord Hawthorn watched Eirin as she tossed and turned in her bed. She had been having bad dreams all night. The healer had given Eirin something to help her sleep shortly after she had come out of her faint, but it hadn't helped with the nightmares. After going over the conversation he had heard in the library and having a long talk with Maria, he had put together most of the events. Now the only question that needed answering was 'Who was she?' She wasn't Phillip's daughter of that he was certain. Even before he had forced Maria to tell him of her suspicions he had come to that conclusion.
His heart clenched as he listened to Eirin once again call out for her father. She had been alternately crying out for him and weeping all night. He crawled into bed with her, fully clothed, and held her, soothing his hands up and down her hair and back. She finally wept before falling into a deeper sleep, whimpering occasionally. He held her all night, unable to fall asleep and wishing he could do more to help her.
Melissa rushed into the house intent on finding her father. He was in the study, already deep, in his cups. "Lissy, me darlin', I do believe we are going to have to move on. Damn shame it is, sure is a damn shame." He finished by emptying his drink in a single swallow and stumbling over to the bar for a refill, still mumbling about how much he had enjoyed this house and was going to miss the allowance.
Melissa looked at him, cursing him silently for being drunk when she needed him. She had stolen a horse from Lord Hawthorn and stopped only long enough to steal another on her ride back from his estate. She had made it in a little more than a day and a half, riding straight through; she was dirty and tired and out of patience. Somehow she still needed to warn him of her slip with Eirin and he needed to be lucid when she did.
Melissa grabbed the glass from his hand, sloshing liquor all over her clothes and the floor. "Phillip, we are in trouble, we need to leave, now!"
"Oh, we have time; he's probably only just arriving there now. If we leave today, we should be far enough away by the time they get back." Phillip stumbled back over to the bar to get another drink. If he had to leave this lush life behind then he wanted to do it in style. Who knew when he would live like this again? Ah, well, that's life. He had spent time in the gutter and he had spent time in a mansion.
Melissa was beyond the capacity to reason or argue with her father. She stomped over to the bar and with one swipe of her arm; she brushed the entire contents onto the floor, causing Phillip to start yelling and slurring curses at her. "What do you mean 'he's arriving their now'? Who is arriving where? What are you talking about old man?"
"It's that uppity solicitor. He was here a few of days ago, insisting on seeing Eirin. I had to tell him that she was with that Lord. Didn't tell him the whole story, but he'll learn it when he gets there for sure. He said he was going to fetch her back." Phillip looked longingly down at the shattered glass and spilled liquor scattered across the floor.
Melissa slowly walked back to the sofa and slumped down on it. "Phillip, we don't have a day. We don't have any time at all. This is much worse than I imagined. We've made a mess of it. We need to leave now, I just left Lord Hawthorn's castle, and I'm sure they have already started following me. If we do not leave now, we will both be jailed and maybe hanged."
Melissa began to shake at the thought that she might have to go to jail. She wouldn't mind Phillip going to jail; he was cut out for it. She on the other hand was not. While she may not have been a well-bred young lady, she was none the less a good girl, and she knew she wouldn't make it in jail. She wished she could just leave without Phillip, but she really needed him.
Two months ago, she might have been able to make it on her own; now she had a child in her and before long it would start to show. No one would take on a mistress carrying someone else's bastard in their belly. Foolish her, she thought. She should have insisted he accept her as his mistress. He just felt so good; she had never had the will to deny him. If he had been her protector instead of just her bedtime partner, she wouldn't be in this situation. It was his fault. If he had been a true gentleman he would have offered her his protection from the beginning.
Melissa looked up as Phillip loomed over her. His face was red and his eyes were cloudy, but his mouth was pulled tight and his hands were fisted. He was drunk and now he was angry, never a good combination. "What do you mean you just came back from Lord Hawthorn's castle? What would you have to do there? How can you be caught there?" Spittle flew from his lips as he tried to get the words out.
Melissa cowered back on the sofa, realizing that she had no escape from him. "I had to go, I have to have money. I can't stay here, I'm in trouble. You wouldn't get any money; the solicitor wouldn't give us any. What was I supposed to do? All you do is drink and play with women, I needed help! We wouldn't be in this situation if you had killed her like I told you to. This is all your fault!"
Melissa was still cowering on the sofa, but slowly she had begun yelling at Phillip as she remembered that it was his fault they didn't have any money.
"What did you tell them?"
"I told them the truth, you killed her father, and she's an ungrateful bitch who couldn't look to anyone but herself. If you had thought more you would have married her. Then we could have had all the money, but no, you couldn't do that. 'I don't do virgins Lissy, they ain't no fun. Why would I marry her when I get her money for free?' That's what you said. Look at us now; we have no money and no way to escape. Kill her, marry her, anything, but no, you are a worthless failure, I don't know why I have stayed with you!"
Melissa began pushing at Phillip to move him back so she could get up. She was furious with him and his ineptitude, and she wasn't going to stay here and let him drag her down again. She shouldn't have come back here at all. She was smarter than him, and she would make it on her own. That was the last thought she had before the left side of her face exploded in a flash of light and pain and her head snapped back to bounce off the back of the sofa.
Phillip did not wait for Melissa to recover as he pulled his left fist back and hit the right side of her head, directly on her ear. He continued hitting her as blood welled out of her right ear and from her split lip. He felt her lose a couple of teeth with one of his hits and split the skin above her left eye with another. Finally, Phillip stopped and looked down at his daughter. She had lost consciousness and was slumped on the sofa. Her hands were bloodied as well so that he assumed she had tried to protect herself, though he couldn't remember her doing so.
He looked around, realizing what he had done and started to panic. She had told them he had killed Lord Somers. He couldn't stay here. He rushed from the house, not even stopping to grab anything to sell for money.
Eirin awoke the next morning to raised voices outside the door. She heard two male voices arguing with each other. She got up and without bothering to change into a fresh dress went out to see what was going on. Lord Hawthorn was standing outside in the hallway arguing with Mr. Prewitt, Eirin's solicitor.
Mr. Prewitt saw Eirin first and hurried to speak in his rather rushed and breathy voice. "Oh, Eirin, thank God you are alright. What are you doing here? I have been looking for you for months. Go and pack now. You can not possibly stay here. What will people think if it is found out that you have been staying with a man, unchaperoned?" With that Mr. Prewitt grasped Eirin's arm and began to move her towards the stairwell.
Lord Hawthorn was furious; he quickly reached out and shoved Mr. Prewitt away from Eirin, causing her to gasp. "Do not put your hands on my fiancé, sir."
This caused Eirin to turn and look at Lord Hawthorn as if he had lost his mind. "Do not lie to this man! If you were ashamed of what you were doing, then you shouldn't have been doing it. You bought me. You used me as your whore. Tell him the truth!" Turning towards Mr. Prewitt, she continued, "I am so sorry, Mr. Prewitt, for all your trouble and worry. However, I see no purpose in going with you. To be honest, I see no purpose in a guardianship at all, there is nothing left to guard."
Eirin had an idea and quickly became excited, "Mr. Prewitt? Can I have any of my inheritance early? This man has paid for some things for me, dresses and such, and I need to pay him back before I can leave."
Before the solicitor could respond, Lord Hawthorn broke in, "You have no inheritance Eirin; your guardian signed over complete ownership of you and all your property to me. You are also not leaving. I now have guardianship of you for the next seven years. You may go now, Mr. Prewitt. Thank you for your attention and I will be in touch."
Eirin struggled against Lord Hawthorn's grasp, but it was no use as he held her firmly while assuring Mr. Prewitt he would have his own solicitor send over the papers showing the transfer of guardianship and property over to him. He quickly called his butler and had Mr. Prewitt shown out of the castle.
Eirin was fuming, "Let go of me you brute! What do you mean you have guardianship of me? And what is this about taking control of my properties? You can't do that!"
Lord Hawthorn managed to get Eirin back into their bedroom before he let her go. "What is your name?"
Eirin just looked at him, her breast heaving with both anger and exertion from trying to free herself from his grasp. Finally, when he just continued to look at her she crossed her arms and glared at him, "Eirin".
Lord Hawthorn kept waiting for her to tell him the rest of her name, but she just stood and glared at him. He sighed, "Your entire name Eirin, what is your last name?"
"Somers, are you going to let me go now?" Eirin spit out at him.
"You are Lord Somers daughter, the Duke of Somers' daughter. Do you know I've been looking for you? Why would I let you go?" Lord Hawthorn managed to suppress his sigh and led Eirin over to the window seat, sitting with her.
"First and foremost. You are the Duke of Somers' daughter, are you not?" Eirin merely nodded her head. "Why did you not tell me this three months ago when you arrived? You knew I thought you were Phillip's daughter."
"No, I didn't. Not until after. . .not until it was too late. By then I didn't think it mattered. Anyway, every time I tried to speak to you, you told me not to lie, so I just gave up. I told you I had accepted my position here, I do not lie. Why did you lie to Mr. Prewitt? We are not engaged and you can not possibly have all my holdings. Those are mine; Mr. Prewitt wouldn't even release them all to Phillip and Melissa."
"We will be married. I will apply for a special license at once and we will be married before the week is over." Lord Hawthorn was caught up in a storm of guilt and elation. He felt guilt from to the way he had treated her when she had been blameless in anything and actually had been a victim the entire time; he felt elation over the fact that she was a true Lady. That was perfect. He had already decided he loved her and wanted to marry her; things were even better now that he had found out that he would be marrying a Lady.
He had never believed he would find a Lady that he would be able to love. He had hated Ladies his entire life, always believing them to be shallow and fickle. Here was the love of his life, and his heart was soaring with the thought that she would be his forever. Lord Hawthorn continued mumbling about his plans and got up to start pacing the room. He wanted to marry her immediately. He wanted her to know how much he loved her and show her his life.
Eirin slowly stood up from the window seat. Nothing had changed. He now knew she was not the conniving woman he had always believed her to be, yet nothing had changed. She still belonged to him. He still held all her properties and was still ordering her around. Well, she wouldn't do it. He could not force her to marry him. She had been weak her entire life. She had allowed Phillip and Melissa to turn her into a slave and then sell her so that Lord Hawthorn could turn her into a whore.
She would now take back her life. She would be no man's pet, to take around London and be shown off. If he was in fact her guardian until her twenty-fifth birthday, that was fine, she would serve her time, but she would no longer lie with him, and she would never marry him. She reached this conclusion dispassionately and calmly.
"No." Eirin spoke the word calmly but loudly so that Lord Hawthorn turned to stare at her.
"It generally takes three weeks for the banns to be read. Do you really want to wait three weeks? I would love to have a huge wedding, but I figured we could have a party afterwards to announce ourselves. My God, Eirin, you could be pregnant!" Lord Hawthorn's face lit up at the thought of Eirin carrying his child. Would it be a boy? A girl? Would the child have her lovely golden eyes?
"I will not marry you, Lord Hawthorn." Eirin's face was expressionless and her tone flat. Her composure held by a mere thread. She could indeed be pregnant, but she hoped to God that she wasn't. The fact that he was worried about sullying her reputation now, when it had in fact been him who would have put her in that position only hardened her heart more.
Lord Hawthorn looked closely at Eirin, narrowing his eyes at her expression. She was staring at him like he was mud on the hem of her dress. How could she not want to marry him? "Eirin, don't you want to marry me?"
"No, Lord Hawthorn, I have no wish to marry you."
"Are you in love with someone else? Were you being courted before you came here?"
"No, I never participated in the season. I am in love with no one, and I have no intention of marrying you or anyone else."
Lord Hawthorn's expression was visibly relieved at hearing the news she was not in love with anyone else. Eirin, however, was no longer looking at him to notice. She had turned and started for the door, intent on returning to her room. Eirin had decided that she wanted to return to London so she could find Phillip and Melissa. She intended to take her house back and see that they paid for their actions. She tried not to remember the fact that Phillip had killed her father, knowing that if she did, she would collapse and not want to get back up.
Lord Hawthorn was still digesting her response when Eirin returned with her bag. "I am leaving, Lord Hawthorn."
Looking at her more closely, he could see how on edge she really was. Her eyes were bright and her knuckles white on the handles of her bag. He realized how much of a shock she had received within the last twenty-four hours, and he was just adding to it. Of course she didn't want to marry him. She couldn't even think straight much less make a decision such as to marry him.
He nodded at Eirin before asking her when she was leaving. When she announced it would be immediately, he thought quickly of how to make her wait just a bit. "What about breakfast?"
"I am not hungry. If you would lend me a horse, I will make sure it is returned to you." Her voice was still emotionless, but he could see the strain around her eyes as she held herself stiffly.
"If you would please eat something before you leave, I will have the cook prepare a basket for you to take with you and have the horse brought around and waiting. You won't be able to go very far if you are weak because you didn't eat." He held himself still, willing her to agree.
Finally, Eirin nodded and headed to the dining room to eat. Lord Hawthorn followed her out of the door and down the hallway. He allowed her to set her bag by the door and head into the room without him. Once she had left, he picked up her bag and after going through it quickly, called a maid to come and take it back up to their room.
Before entering the dining room, Lord Hawthorn called a servant to give directions to the stable and kitchen. As he entered, he saw Eirin shoveling food into her mouth. She barely looked up as he entered, just continued to eat as if she hadn't seen him.
"Eirin, if you keep eating like that, you will be sick before you leave my property. I have already called for your horse to be brought around and Cook is preparing a midday meal so you do not have to stop."
Eirin paused in her eating and just stared at him. Finally, she set down her fork and took a drink of tea. She was suspicious of his attitude. He hadn't tried to stop her or talk her out of it. Nor had he reminded her that she had no property to return to in London. He was up to something and she wanted to be out of the house before she figured out what it was or he changed his mind.
Lord Hawthorn didn't speak as he sat at his place to eat his meal. He merely motioned for a servant to bring Eirin more tea and ate his meal in silence. He knew Eirin thought she was escaping him but he had no intention of letting her go. How could he win her heart if she were three days journey from him?
As the servant brought in the basket of food for Eirin to take on her trip, she jumped up so quickly she bumped the table. She hurriedly pushed in her chair and grabbed up the basket, almost running for the door on her way out. Pausing at the door to look back, she saw Lord Hawthorn still sitting at his place drinking his tea.
Lord Hawthorn caught up to Eirin as she was standing on the front steps glaring out at the carriage. She turned and stormed to him. "What is that? I asked you for a horse, a carriage will take forever to arrive in London! I want to get there as quickly as possible."
He merely looked at her and took the basket from her hands. Placing his hand on her elbow, he led her to the carriage. "It is not appropriate for a young lady to ride across the countryside on her own, nor would it be appropriate for you to arrive in London dirty and dusty from riding a horse the entire way."
Eirin stomped her way into the carriage and slamming down onto the seat she crossed her arms under her breasts and glared at him. "What do you care? As long as I arrive back here ready to spread my legs? What makes you so sure that sending a carriage back with me will ensure my return?"
Lord Hawthorn climbed up into the carriage as her eyes widened in shock. "I am not sending you in a carriage; we are going to London together. I will help you look for Phillip and his daughter, speak with your solicitor about your holdings and arrange for them to be released to you."
Eirin's eyes narrowed as she watched him take the seat across from her. He was up to something but she couldn't figure out what it was. She wanted to argue with him further but first she needed to figure out the angle he was playing. She just continued to glare at him as the carriage started off down the road.
Lord Hawthorn and Eirin had very little conversation on their trip. They stopped at midday for a meal, eating under a tree by the side of the road quickly, before continuing on their journey. Eirin spent the majority of her time staring out the window, imagining all the things she would say to Phillip and Melissa once she found them. Lord Hawthorn spent his time watching Eirin and wondering how he was going to convince her that he loved her and wanted to marry her.
They had one argument the first night when Lord Hawthorn insisted on stopping at an inn to sleep. Eirin wanted to continue straight through, but Lord Hawthorn insisted the horses wouldn't make it. She gave up the argument in favor of ignoring him. He was confusing her too much to argue anyway, acting as if he cared whether or not the people that killed her father came to justice. He had mentioned getting her properties back to her. It had to be a trick, but what trick? She couldn't figure it out. It wasn't still his talk of marriage, as he'd never mentioned it again. Why would he, she wondered; he had gotten everything he wanted from her without it, her land, her money, and her.