- SNEAK PEEK -
I stared at my spoon as I swirled the four sugar cubes in the bottom of my cup. I have a bit of a sweet tooth, you see. I’ve had this cup since I was eight years old. Its tea-stained interior and its tarnished golden edge with the fading blue fleur de lis and vine design reminded me of Versailles. So many times when I was a child I would dream of being in King Louis’s court surrounded by art, sculpture, and courtesans―both male and female. I would withdraw from the realities of modern life, my life. I would hide away from an older brother who bullied me since I dropped out of my mother’s womb, to parents who at the best of times ignored me, and at worst beat me for being ‘different’.
We’d buried my elder brother, the 16th Duke of Midbourne and the 7th Marquess of Hethchester, also known as Lord Gossett, a few days ago alongside my father, the 15th Duke who passed away suddenly six months prior. I was gobsmacked by the news our family solicitor and our family’s accountant heaped on my sister, Lady Sarah Tinsley and myself. I knew my overly saccharine brew was getting too cold, but, if I was being truthful with myself, I wasn’t sure I could drink it and keep it down anyway.
The words rack and ruin barely described the shambles my father left us, only for my brother to add insult to it by mortgaging everything to the hilt to finance some ill-conceived scheme to raise money. I was left to try to handle this disaster. My stomach turned. I set my spoon to the side, picked up my cup and grimaced when I tasted the too cool bittersweet liquid.
Sarah sat across from me in the modern kitchen of my family’s Chelsea townhouse, studying me as she sipped her own cup of tea. Her eyes were sad, but sympathetic to my plight. I was officially now the 17th Duke of Midbourne, 8th Marquess of Hethchester, Lord Gossett. The paperwork would be filed with the Crown by the end of the day notifying one and all that ‘the spare’ was in charge since my older brother died without issue.
“Eric.” Sarah touched my hand lightly, gaining my attention. “We need to talk. I may have a way to get us out of the predicament, but I need you to answer an important question for me. You must be honest. You know I will not judge you one way or another.”
I sighed and looked at my beautiful and brilliant younger sister. A small smile crept to my lips. Her thick blonde hair, fashionably pulled back in a chignon for the reading of the will. Sharp, deep blue eyes that missed nothing were a gateway to a woman who’d gotten her degree in International Finance watched me. “What do you want to know?”
She paused, worrying her lower lip with straight, white teeth. I could tell she was trying to figure out how to phrase her question. Part of me suspected what she was going to ask, but I had to let her do it. “Are you gay?”
I drew in a deep breath and slowly exhaled. My sister had always been my rock and she, as she said, would never judge me. “Yes, well, sort of.” I hedged, “I’ve always considered myself bisexual, but lately I’m more into men than women. Why?”
- Prize One -
- Prize Two -
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