Read Cardiff Siblings 01 - Seven Minutes in Devon Online

Authors: Catherine Gayle

Tags: #Romance, #Historical Romance, #Regency Romance, #suicide, #tortured artist, #regency series, #blindness

Cardiff Siblings 01 - Seven Minutes in Devon

BOOK: Cardiff Siblings 01 - Seven Minutes in Devon
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Seven Minutes in
Devon

 

 

 

 

Catherine Gayle

The characters and events portrayed in
this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or
dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the
author.

Seven Minutes in Devon

Copyright © 2012 by Catherine
Gayle

Cover Design by Kimberly Killion, Hot
Damn Designs

Published by Night Shift Publishing at
Smashwords

All rights reserved. No part of this
book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical
means—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles or reviews—without written permission.

For more information:
[email protected]

 

Table of
Contents

 

Dedication

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Epilogue

About the
Author

Other Catherine Gayle
Titles

 

Dedication

 

To Melanie, because I still
love you so much it hurts. When I started this story, I had no idea
how much this piece of fiction might become like real life. I had
to set it aside for various reasons, and then I wasn’t able to even
think about starting work on it again for a long time. Even with
distance, it was almost too much for me at times. It may always be
that way for me. But I will
always
love you so much it hurts.

 

Late July, 1816—The Year Without a
Summer

Heathcote Park, near Topsham,
Devon

Aidan Cardiff tore his gaze away from
his sister’s pallid face, framed by her near-gold hair, to stare
out the great bay window. The action, which ought to have been
simple, was anything but. It felt like yet another chunk of his
heart ripped out as his head turned, but still he chose instead to
watch the swollen banks of the Exe Estuary beneath the eternally
gray sky. Everything was dark and foreboding, of late: Morgan’s
demeanor; the out-of-doors; Aidan’s own blackened heart.

He swallowed the remnants of his port
and scowled upon what once was the most beautiful vista he’d ever
witnessed. A few months had certainly changed everything. Once, he
would have laughed at such a thought, thinking it an impossibility.
There was no more room in his life for laughter, though. Not until
Morgan could laugh again.

A firm hand struck his shoulder,
jolting him from his sour mood and returning his attention to the
house party going on around him.


The weather has to clear
someday.” David, Baron Burington, set a near-empty glass on the
table and took up position upon the chair across from Aidan,
following his gaze out to the mouth of the river. “You’ll have to
come back sometime and fish with me. Maybe in the fall…” He leaned
in and raised a brow in question.


No.”

A deep frown creased David’s forehead.
“But—”


But nothing. You’ve seen
for yourself how difficult this has been for Morgan.” Aidan choked
down a show of emotion to keep it at bay. Not now. Not with so many
others watching. Not while the ungainly Miss Hathaway could see,
should she deign to look up from her oh-so-precious books long
enough to notice anything more than the end of her
altogether-too-long nose. Allowing his emotion free rein with
witnesses present would be tantamount to granting that loathsome
betrayer Stoneham an invitation to view Aidan’s own personal visit
to hell. “I won’t subject her to this again so soon, and I
will
not
leave
her.”


Your mother will be with
her. Not to mention your brother. With Trenowyth, Morgan will be
far from alone.”

Upon Aidan’s glare, one with enough
ferocity to level a lesser man, David raised his hands and pushed
back from the table, rocking the chair on its insubstantial rear
legs like a schoolboy flirting with disaster. It was an action
Aidan had seen on countless occasions since their days together at
Eton, back when Stoneham was always at their side and in the midst
of all of their plans. Even now, David grinned in an altogether
familiar boyish way as he balanced on the rear legs of the
chair.

Everything, it seemed, pointed Aidan’s
memories back to Stoneham. He couldn’t escape the bastard no matter
how he tried. It was little wonder Morgan couldn’t,
either.

Upon Aidan’s glare, David brought his
chair down and frowned. “I know. I’m sorry. You all want to be with
her right now. I understand, Aidan, I do, but you can’t stop living
your life.”

That was exactly what Mother had said
to them all before they left—a fact which ate at Aidan’s gut. “I
haven’t.” He hated how everyone seemed to think they knew what was
best, particularly when they were all well and truly
wrong.


You have. Ever since
Morgan—” David cut himself off, glanced warily over his shoulder to
where she sat beside Miss Hathaway, and lowered his voice. “Ever
since things changed, you’ve hardly left her side. Not a single one
of you. Come to Heathcote Park again in the fall. Spend a few weeks
with us. Try to forget about it all for a little while. Maybe you
could work on your sculpting out here—or you could work with oils
or pastels if you don’t want to sculpt. It would be good for you.
Getting back to your art…”

Aidan shook his head. “You could visit
us at Tavistock Manor. Bring Vanessa. It isn’t too far.”


We won’t be able to
travel, soon.” A sheepish grin spread across David’s still boyish
features. He leaned across the table, looked pointedly over to his
wife, and dropped his voice to a whisper. “Nessa is doing her best
to provide me with an heir.”


Indeed?” Even in his
current dark mood, Aidan couldn’t hold back a chuckle. “I suppose I
should offer you my hearty congratulations.”


I’d prefer for you to say
you’ll come in the fall. How does October sound?”

Before Aidan could refuse
once more, a flash of shimmering yellow caught his eye out the
window, moving toward the estuary in the distance. Cheerful pink
had no place amongst the dreary gray so ever present this
summer.
Morgan. No!

Aidan bolted from his seat, sending
the delicate Louis XIV chair splintering to the ground behind him.
Ignoring the shouts of dismay left in his wake, he hurtled through
the fussy room and into the corridor. At the far end of the hall,
almost to the door, the brown hair and gangly limbs of Miss
Hathaway sprinted ahead of him, her sunny yellow skirts held up
about her knees so she could run full-out.

She flung open the door and careened
through it. “Lady Morgan! Stop! Oh gracious heavens, you mustn’t.”
Her panicked voice became muffled as the door slammed closed behind
her.

Aidan ought to throttle the chit for
allowing Morgan out of her sight. When he finished with that, he’d
throttle her again for alerting neither himself nor his brother
Niall, the Earl of Trenowyth, that something was amiss with their
sister. Surely she recognized the gravity of the situation. Or had
she been too engrossed in her bloody books to notice how delicate
Morgan was, how volatile her thoughts?

No, she knew. He’d made certain of it
before he ever left Morgan in her care. That could only mean Miss
Hathaway hadn’t cared, that she’d felt her precious books were more
important than Morgan’s needs.

Reaching the end of the hall at last,
he shoved aside a stricken footman who had finally condescended to
make an appearance at his post. Aidan almost ripped the door from
its hinges in his haste to get to his sister.

His heart thudded to a
standstill.

Morgan had already taken several steps
into the water. Her curls whipped around her head in a ghastly
frenzy, the golden and white hues intensified in the last vestiges
of the setting sun that had peeked through the storm clouds as the
winter-like winds howled around her.

He’d never get there in
time.

The slap of his Hessians against the
flagstone drive reverberated in his head. Morgan went deeper into
the surge of water, her gown of sunny yellow muslin floating up and
enveloping her.

Miss Hathaway leapt in after her,
spindly arms and legs flailing in wild tumult. With Aidan’s usual
turn of the cards, the chit likely couldn’t swim and would cause
more harm than good. He’d be lucky to rescue even one of them; both
would be asking for too much favor from heaven, particularly for
someone with such a history of transgressions as he. Although, why
should he rescue Miss Hathaway, when she could have prevented this
entire situation to begin with? Leaving her to her death would only
add to his aforementioned list, damn it all.

BOOK: Cardiff Siblings 01 - Seven Minutes in Devon
11.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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