Read Beyond Rubies (Daughters of Sin Book 4) Online

Authors: Beverley Oakley

Tags: #courtesan, #rubies, #sibling rivalry, #Regency romantic intrigue, #traitors, #secret baby, #espionage

Beyond Rubies (Daughters of Sin Book 4)

BOOK: Beyond Rubies (Daughters of Sin Book 4)
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Beyond Rubies

Daughters of Sin, Volume 4

Beverley Oakley

Published by Beverley Oakley, 2016.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.


First edition. August 21, 2016.

Copyright © 2016 Beverley Oakley.

Written by Beverley Oakley.

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

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nd he vil be as reech and handsome as a preence vis ink-black hair, his eyes vil smolder vis passion like...varm treacle, his mouth vil be soft as butter yet firm as zee mouth of zee greatest lover in zee vorld!”

Kitty shivered, stretching out the palm of her hand even wider as she whispered, “But how will I know him?”
Passionate, yet kind? That’s what she wanted to hear.

Her eyes watered and her nose felt ticklish from the smoke of the cheap tallow candle and strange, cloying perfume of the gypsy fortune-teller hunched over the table. But how rare and wonderful it was to be free from domestic cares in this cramped, oddly-smelling caravan, as the noisy revelry of St Bartholomew’s fair drifted through the chink in the torn and dirty curtains.

At last, Kitty was being told what she’d wanted to know for as long as she could remember—how her future would unfold.

“How vil you know him?” The gypsy repeated the question as if she’d uttered a great impertinence. She brushed back a hank of oily black hair from one thickly-penciled eyebrow and made a moue of her brightly-painted mouth. “You have much fire and energy, girl.” She puffed out her bosom. “You vil know him by the surge of fire and energy in your breast.”

Kitty nodded meekly. The gypsy woman knew what she was talking about. She’d identified Kitty and Lissa, not just as sisters, but had differentiated their personalities, despite Lissa declining the palm reading as she and Ned had wanted to save their money and felt they should return home soon as dusk was falling.

Lissa, according to the gypsy, was an obedient creature, while Kitty was drawn to a life full of wonder and adventure. Kitty couldn’t get over just how on the money that had been.

“But what if I feel that...that excited feeling in a crowd of people and I don’t recognize who, exactly, is causing it?”


Kitty stared at the droplets on the scratched table surface resulting from the gypsy’s explosive sound of derision. She wasn’t quite sure how to respond.

“How old you are, girl?

“Almost sixteen.”

“A leetle girl, to be sure,” the gypsy sneered as she stabbed a grubby finger in Kitty’s face. “When you become woman, you feel zees thing here.” She poked Kitty in the chest. “Ees no doubt in your heart what you feel when you grown woman. Understand?” She stood up to the sound of jangling metal beads and coins as she shook out her skirts and tossed her scarf about her head.

Kitty couldn’t believe her eyes as the gypsy started to walk to the door.

She was leaving? When she hadn’t answered the most pressing question Kitty wanted to ask her?

Balling her fists, she sought for courage. “Will he marry me?” It was the question Kitty had been angling to ask throughout the entire interview. It was, in fact, the main reason she’d paid to have her palm read for she needed to be reassured that she would not suffer her mother’s ignominious fate—jilted at the altar yet prepared to suffer the ignominy of living in sin for the next twenty years. Kitty’s father had done just that to her poor mother, leaving her at the altar in order to make the society match his parents desired. By the time he’d said ‘I do’ to the suitably chosen earl’s daughter, he’d already regretted it.

“Yes, yes, he will marry you.”

“Are you sure?”

The gypsy sent Kitty an impatient look over her shoulder as she reached for the heavy curtain. The sound of restless foot shuffling—her next customer—could be heard on the caravan steps.

“I’m sure.”

“What sort of man will he be?”

“Reech, reech nobleman.”

Reluctantly, Kitty stood up and trailed after the gypsy. “So I have only this to go by?” She tapped her heart and tried not to let her disappointment show in her voice. The gypsy seemed a trifle oversensitive. “There’s no other way I can properly identify him? Only by what I feel when I meet a rich nobleman with dark hair and eyes?”

The gypsy turned and made a slicing motion through the air with her hand. “And zee scar beneath his right eye from a brave and daring piece of swordplay,” she muttered. Hesitating as she gripped the curtain, she emitted a gusty sigh, before saying in a more considered tone, “My girl, I should charge you more but I tell you zis for free. You vil be great actress. Like famous and beautiful Lady Emma Hamilton you vil marry nobleman. Now, next! Come in, come in! You very handsome boy. You have great life, already, I can tell. Come and let me tell your fortune.”

Kitty left with mixed feelings. She was delighted by the additional information that she was destined to become an actress. It’s what she’d always wanted to be though her family told her it was out of the question. She prided herself on the fact she could slip effortlessly into a range of characters. Indeed, she was considered both an accomplished mimic and a fine dramatic actress. Among her family, at any rate. Her visit to the fortune-teller had reassured her that her unsatisfying life as handmaiden to her unappreciative mother was not a life sentence. One day she’d escape, no longer looked down upon by the villagers as the by-blow of the local squire, Lord Partington, but instead, feted as a celebrated actress in her own right.

As for her future husband, now she knew exactly what she must look out for.

So, fame, fortune, and love were waiting for her just around the corner.

The hardest part would be biding her time.

Chapter One

itty enjoyed breaking the rules. Often she’d creep into the grounds of The Grange, dressed as a servant girl or peasant, to look through windows and admire the beautiful gowns worn by the fortunate occupants. Sometimes she overheard snippets of gossip, which she relayed to her mother who pretended she wasn’t interested, although she never stopped Kitty from describing every detail. With the flamboyance of the true artiste, Kitty knew how to create just the right drama and color to transfix her audience and her mother, though she tried to mask her interest, was not immune.

The days were growing colder now, and shorter, so Kitty’s free and easy ramblings would be coming to a close. Her mother needed her more with yet another baby to look after—another bastard, as she was used to hearing the villagers whisper in her hearing—and Kitty was the unfortunate handmaiden left to bear the burden.

Lissa, the obedient one, had gone to London to be a governess after her dearly-held plans for running a village school had come to nothing. How well Kitty remembered their father’s fury when Lissa—whom he’d always praised as so good and obedient—had called at The Grange all those months ago. Lissa had said she was collecting funds for the school she hoped to run, but the truth was that even she had let curiosity get the better of her after Kitty had excitedly relayed the scandals she’d overheard regarding her father’s natural-born daughters, plain Hetty and beautiful Araminta. Both girls had been vying for the same man, their bacon-brained cousin Edgar, whom Araminta had in her sights because he was her father’s heir and she’d always been determined to be mistress of The Grange. Hetty, however, had merely loved the boy.

As it turned out, Edgar had thwarted both sisters’ ambitions by drowning in company with an inappropriate woman, while Hetty and Araminta had repeated history by choosing to again court the attentions of another man—the handsome, dangerous Sir Aubrey Banks, who sounded to Kitty, far more the thing.

It was growing dark, and Kitty knew she should have been at home long since. Her mother would no doubt greet her at the door with a clip over the ear.

She hurried along the leafy laneway, squealing as a pheasant burst clumsily out of the bushes in front of her. Kitty was not born for the country. No, give her the gaiety of London any day. And yet here she was, destined to molder away, with no new clothes except her more fortunately-born half-sister’s castoffs which her father somehow purloined. Kitty knew full well they belonged to Araminta or Hetty, though he always protested it wasn’t the case. Nevertheless, Kitty had seen with her own eyes the lavish creations, like fur-trimmed pelisses, satins and crepes, opera gowns and morning gowns, the young Misses Partington enjoyed. Several dressmakers had toiled for weeks to ensure Miss Araminta shone for her second season out.

As last season’s attire was not good enough for Miss Araminta, Kitty and Lissa had been the lucky recipients. Lissa had turned her nose up at the offerings their father had bestowed upon them, claiming she had no occasion to wear such garments as she was preparing to take a position in London as a governess, and a governess needed serviceable gowns in drab, dreary colors.

Kitty’s only real objection was that she wanted something in the first stare. Why should her father favor so greatly the two legitimate daughters born to the wife he did not love, while those he’d so carelessly foisted on the solicitor’s daughter he’d abandoned at the altar in order to please his parents, should get nothing but the castoffs?

Nevertheless, she’d taken them all and stowed them in her wardrobe, ready for the moment she’d run away from home and burst onto the London stage.

On this evening, Kitty was returning from a visit to old Widow Nuffley to whom she’d fed a bowl of her mother’s famous calf’s-foot jelly. After this unedifying procedure, she was taking a longer detour through the woods, even though she’d told herself she had no time to stop and admire her father’s grand old manor house, The Grange, across the emerald-green stretch of lawn.

But she couldn’t resist, even though it would make her late, and her mother would be peevish if Kitty came home without having carried out the several errands in the village she had commissioned.

She was on the point of resuming the most direct route home when she heard voices.

“And so it is the scandal of all London town,” she heard her father say with great energy. “Araminta has defied me and brought ridicule on herself and her family. As if it were not bad enough that her sister should elope—
—with that traitor and rascal Sir Aubrey, Araminta, who has always harbored such lofty marital ambitions has done the very same, within twenty-four hours of accepting Mr. Rockerick Woking’s proposal.”

“Mr. Roderick Woking? That chinless, spineless cipher of his uncle Lord Debenham? I can scarcely believe it,” came the answer.

Kitty stared, panic-stricken, at the curving path in front of her. Her father’s voice was coming closer, and she had nowhere to run, for the path behind her was blocked by a large fallen tree trunk too difficult to negotiate in a hurry. She’d be discovered before she’d managed to clamber over it. Frantically she whipped her head around, looking for escape. But the only place was...up.

Hiking up her skirts, she found a foothold on the lowest tree branch beside the path and hoisted herself up. She wasn’t used to climbing trees, caring too much for her clothes and any unsightly scratches that might result, but desperate times called for desperate measures.

By the time she’d climbed safely into the oak’s dense foliage, she thought she was safe. Her father and the man in whose company he walked would turn back once they reached the fallen log.

To her dismay, they settled themselves upon it to continue their conversation.

“I will admit,” came her father’s voice, “that I am surprised at Araminta. I thought I knew my daughter better than that.”

The other man spoke in laconic tones. “I cautioned her strenuously against courting Lord Debenham’s interest, and she evinced a sincere abomination of the villainous viscount, as he is known. That she has eloped with him defies all I know of her.”

BOOK: Beyond Rubies (Daughters of Sin Book 4)
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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