I just finished the final chapters of The Defiant Daughter, but I’m not sure how much of the end I want to give away, so here’s a bit from early in The Wayward Son. Sir Robert has come home in response to what his sister called a crisis, but he hasn’t been able to find one. He has finally forced her to sit down and talk.
“I thought— That is, things just keep getting worse, failures leading to more. Ellis says it started with the will. He says less business from the Hall started a spiral and—” Emma said.
“What will?” he asked.
“The old earl’s.”
Rob needed a minute to digest it. “The earl is dead?” That means David is the Earl of Clarion. “How long has it been?”
“You’d know if you read your mail!” Emma glared at him now, clearly irritated.
I never read mail from Ashmead. For a long time, he had ignored even Emma’s, until one Christmas in Lisbon when he grew maudlin over his fellow officers’ cheerful letters from home.
“You’d know about the will too,” she went on. “He stripped the estate, and with less and less trade from the Hall and fewer visitors, bad times fell on the valley. I thought if you returned, we might turn it—”
“What does this God forsaken will have to do with me?” Her rambling irritated him. “Get to the point Emma.”
She stared at him as if he were a madman. “You really don’t know, do you? I mean, you ignored Da’s mail and even mine until that note you sent three years ago, but I didn’t think you’d ignore the earl or Mr. Spangler.”
“Who the devil is Spangler?”
“The earl’s solicitor. Didn’t he notify you?”
The day Rob discovered he owed his commission as a lieutenant to the Earl of Clarion, he refused to accept any further interference from the man or his estate. He earned every promotion he got after that, to the disgust of officers who considered themselves his betters. Letters came. He burned them unopened. He studied his sister with narrowed eyes. “Notify me about what?”
“The will,” she repeated, emphasizing the word with exasperation. “What do you think we’re talking about?”
“We’re going in circles. What exactly does this will have to do with me? Are you trying to tell me he left me something?”
He almost missed her next words.
“Willowbrook. He left you Willowbrook,” she whispered.
Willowbrook? A vision of the woman, standing proud, arms akimbo with her turnips and her musket, washed through him. “No,” he roared, “Hell no.” He reared up, almost toppling his chair, and leaned on the table with both fists. “He can’t make me into some damned landowner to suit his fancy.”
Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!