The Legend of Lyon Redmond

By: Julie Anne Long



“Lord Lavay is a fine man, the finest I know, sir,” the footman maintained stoutly, into the silence. “He married his housekeeper. Mrs. Fountain.”

This was startling.

“Did he, now? Quite the epidemic of marriage in Sussex lately, isn’t there?”

Lyon said this so bitterly everyone blinked as if he’d flicked something caustic into their eyes.

He drew in a long breath.

“And where is Lord Lavay at this very moment, Ramsey?”

“I expect he’s still in Pennyroyal Green sir, a village in Sussex, where I left him. You see, given that he’s newly married and . . . well, he’s quite taken a shine to the place. Right nice town, it is,” he extemporized, brightening.

“Is it?” Lyon said with such flat and brutal irony that his crew swiveled toward him in surprise, eyes wide.

He was beginning to alarm them.

He was beginning to alarm himself.

Because for the first time in years time Lyon wasn’t certain what he wanted to do.

Damn Olivia Eversea, anyway.

She’d knocked his world off its axis from that first moment in the ballroom, when she’d turned to him and smiled, and . . .

Even now. Even now the memory of that smile could stop his breath.

He’d last seen Pennyroyal Green in the dead of night almost five years ago. His trajectory since then had been as swift and mindless as if he’d been shot from a cannon. And it wasn’t just because of what Olivia had said to him in the garden after midnight, in the pouring rain. Though after she’d said what she’d said, for a time he’d stopped caring what became of him.

No, that fuse had been lit for longer than anyone knew.

No one from Sussex had seen him since.

Though one had certainly tried. He half smiled at the thought of Violet.

And it was this that had broken the speed of his trajectory.

He’d had his own methods for remaining, however tangentially, informed about the lives of those he’d left behind. He’d proved something over the past five years. He’d at first thought it was all for Olivia. But he was no longer certain. He’d tried to purge his life of her, relinquishing even her miniature.

Clearly it hadn’t worked.

But what no one knew, not even his crew, was that this was his final voyage. He’d risked this trip into London to track down the source of a little mystery that could devastate Olivia and her family.

He now had his answer.

He was, strangely, not surprised by it.

But he hadn’t been prepared to make a decision about what to do next so soon.

Oh, Liv, he thought.

Suddenly it hurt to breathe. Fragments of memories rushed at him, each distinct as stained glass.

Olivia walking along the road to the Duffys’ house, then breaking into a run when she saw him waiting beneath the elm tree, her face lighting like a star. As if even a second away from him was wasted.

That was the memory that always came to him in his darkest moments.

And now she was giving herself to another man.

His fingers curled on a surge of emotion. But he stopped just short of giving the message the crushing it deserved.

She. If Lavay had indeed written that word, he might have seen her, or even talked to her, or . . .

He couldn’t do it.

He couldn’t bloody do it.

And this is what decided him.

He tucked the message into his coat. “You can go, Ramsey,” he said. “Thank you.”

The footman spun and nearly bolted, silver braid glinting in the sun.

Lyon turned to face all the expectant faces of his crew.

“And we,” he told them, “are staying in England.”

It was time for a reckoning.

Three weeks later . . .

OLIVIA EVERSEA SIGHED IN the soothing, well-sprung recesses of her family’s barouche, grateful for the solitude if only for the duration of the drive from St. James Square to the Strand.

It was perhaps an acknowledgment of how insufferable she’d been lately that her family had let her go to Madame Marceau’s alone.

The discussion over whether she ought to have silver trim on her wedding dress, like poor Princess Charlotte, or perhaps even beading along the hem, which would be much more expensive, but wouldn’t she just glow like an angel (her mother’s words) in it, had become absurdly impassioned, and subtle insults may even have flown, and her even-tempered sister, Genevieve, may even have slammed a door. Or, rather, shut it emphatically, which was close as Genevieve ever came to throwing a tantrum.

Minutes of sullen silence later, they had fallen into each other’s arms, all apologies.

Olivia knew she was being difficult and prickly and she was somehow skillfully bringing out the worst in everyone she knew, herself most particularly. She was doing all of them a mercy by taking herself off to the modiste’s alone.

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