The Earl's Outrageous Lover Page 0,1

would then be transferred to her husband.

What a mess, she thought. “I supposed I have some thinking to do, don’t I?” she finally replied to the lawyer who was calmly sitting at her father’s massive desk, looking painfully awkward.

With those words of dismissal, he gathered up his papers and shoved them quickly into his leather briefcase. “Let me know if I can assist you in any way,” he said, taking her hand and bowing slightly before departing the house.

Jessica didn’t stay in that room, disliking the dusty, musty smell. Her father had smoked cigars in that office with his cronies and the smell was still there so she wandered into the living room. Where her father’s office was bleak and dingy with dark wood paneled walls and heavy leather chairs, the living room was where her mother had held court. It was the opposite in every way. The walls were a soft cream color and the sofas were all done in a robin’s egg blue shade as were the curtains. There was a large fireplace where her mother used to curl up in front of on cold winter days or where she served tea to the various wives of her father’s business interests.

She curled up on that sofa, pulling the cashmere throw down over her as the night descended. She still had no idea how to get herself out of this problem. But her mind refused to function. She was too hurt over everything she’d learned today. Her parents were gone now so she couldn’t even ask for an explanation. She had lots of friends, but no one she could really turn to for help with this kind of a predicament. There had been the name of the executor of her father’s will, but she didn’t think she’d ever met the man. At least she didn’t recognize the man’s name, but there were many people in and out of her father’s life so it could have been any one of his good friends.

She fell asleep that night curled up on her mother’s sofa, the blue throw blanket wrapped around her. She didn’t sleep well though. Instead of a sound sleep after the exhausting events of the past week, she was plagued with dreams of wedding dresses floating around her head, taunting her and laughing because she couldn’t wear any of them. Nor could she reach the alter because a chain was wrapped around her ankle, keeping her from succeeding.

The following morning, she showered and pulled on a pair of jeans and an old sweatshirt, trying to shrug off the disturbing dreams. One thing was clear, despite her groggy state of mind, she had to make a decision about what she was going to do about her father’s will and she couldn’t make that decision without facts. She had the directions to her father’s factories in one hand and an overnight bag in another. She was on a mission!

It took her three hours but she finally found the first factory. Sitting outside in the parking lot, she smiled as she watched several of the workers wander out during their break. They sat on one of the low walls and sipped coffee or soda while punching each other on the shoulder as they joked about something. At the other end, there was a delivery door with suppliers coming and going, the whole operation looking very industrious.

On the one hand, she was proud of her father for running such a smooth operation. But on the other hand, she really hated him for putting all of these peoples’ livelihoods at risk simply so he could get back at her for defying him that one time. And really, why would he care if she was married or not? It wasn’t as if she could guarantee that the man she married would be good at business. What if she married someone who liked history or maybe a scientist? Or just a simple accountant? That wouldn’t help lead these businesses to bigger and better things! Or even stability!

What a mess, she thought as she drove away. It took her two days, but she went to every business her father had owned at the end of his lifetime. With some, she went inside, introduced herself and asked for a tour of the facility. At other times, she just sat in her car and watched, noticing small things about the workers and the industriousness of everyone around it.

She realized two things during these tours. First of all, if she