Scandal of Love

By: Janelle Daniels



Harold laughed. “Come now, no need to be modest with me. It’s all over town. Brilliant, by the way. Truly. I doubt I would have ever thought to do the same.”

Quinton shook his head, trying to clear his foggy brain. “Honestly, I have no idea what you’re referring to. What is it you think I’ve done?”

“Secured yourself an heiress. I knew you needed money, and that it would only take you a short time to come to the same conclusion.” Their champagne was poured in a cascade of golden bubbles. Harold saluted Quinton with his glass. “And what a prize you’ve secured.”

What was Harold talking about? “I’ve done no such thing. I only came to the realization late last night that I needed a wealthy bride, and I’ve been here ever since.”

The glass in Harold’s hand paused halfway to his lips. “You mean you weren’t at Lady Berkley’s ball last night?”

Quinton’s eyebrow lifted as he gestured to his rumpled clothes. “Do I look like I went to a ball last night?”

“No.” Harold set his glass down very carefully. “Just so I’m clear, you did not go to Lady Berkley’s ball?

“No.”

“And you were here all night?”

“Yes.”

“And there is no way that you compromised Lady Sera Winters in Lady Berkley’s library last night?”

“No. Wait, what?” Quinton jerked forward. “Who’s Lady Sera? Someone thinks I compromised her?”

Harold looked at him with surprise. “Lady Sera is the Duke of Dorchester’s daughter. And it isn’t someone who thinks that. It’s everyone. The news has been on the tip of everyone’s tongue this morning. She is ruined.”

In shock, Quinton leaned back into his chair. “Who would claim such a thing? Certainly not Lady Sera.”

“I don’t know. I had thought you arranged it all as a way to marry Lady Sera quickly and take hold of her dowry.”

“Absolutely not. I do need to marry for money but I would never ruin someone’s reputation over it.”

With a look of distaste, Harold pushed the glass of champagne out of his reach. “It’s a shame then. She was close to receiving a proposal from the Duke of Wathersby. It was rumored that he would propose within a fortnight. I doubt he will extend the offer now.”

Quinton had been absent from the activities of the ton for some time now, but he remembered enough to know that there was no way to recover from a scandal such as this. Her marriage prospects were almost non-existent now.

“She’ll be lucky if she can secure a titled fortune hunter,” Quinton said offhandedly.

The moment the words were out of his mouth, Quinton saw a gleam come in Harold’s eye. “You can’t be serious. I cannot offer for her,” Quinton said in disbelief.

Harold leaned forward. “Of course you can. Who better than you? You need the money, and as you said yourself, she would be lucky to get a title at this point.”

“Only because I supposedly ruined her!”

Harold shrugged. “She knows that didn’t happen. You will be like a knight in shining armor, rescuing her from disgrace.”

“There is still a scandal.”

Waving off Quinton’s statement, Harold said, “You can spin it anyway you like. Say you were proposing, and everyone will think that it is all so romantic. Those things are forgiven immediately.”

Would it really work? Was it possible to have this marriage dilemma over with that quickly? He had been expecting it to take several months at least, scraping by with the pittance he had left. A large dowry is all it would take to make his estates profitable again.

“I know that she is the daughter of a duke, but she may not have a large dowry. There are many families that are titled but have little wealth. How do you know she would be able to bring a large enough dowry into the marriage?” Quinton asked.

Harold laughed outright. “Sometimes I forget how long you have been away from society. Why you wanted to travel the continent for so long is beyond me, but you need not worry on that account. The duke is a very wealthy man, and Lady Sera has been one of the most aggressively pursued debutants the last two seasons because of that wealth. Whoever marries Lady Sera will be a very rich man.”

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