Blood and the Smoke, The
Marianne Sullivan was content with her meager existence. She had no need for an inheritance, no matter how truly dire her financial straits were! In any case, she had no idea how to go about solving the forty year old murders of the first two Lady Fitzroys. Besides, she would have to work with the far too handsome and cock sure of himself, Anthony Hadley, and she didn’t think that was a good idea at all!
Word Count: 217,121
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Eliza Black, December 2011
New Concepts Publishing
Lake Park, GA 31636
This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, and places are of the author's imagination and not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.
Anthony opened his eyes just the slightest crack, fixing them on Marianne. She fiddled with the fringe on her purse. Were her eyes just a little moist as well? It seemed so. Very pretty eyes with tears in them. Tears and sadness were not uncommon for this female and he wondered why. He would need to search deeper.
Percy smiled and handed him the letter. “Now on to property, you have all discussed this with your father and you will keep the homes you currently abide in. William and Sarah, you have the Hadley Hall and Estate in Berkshire. Clarabelle and Henry, you inherit the London mansion known as Pierce Place located at 94 Hill ….”
“We know where we live, Percy!” Clarabelle snapped. “Move along, will you?”
“Clarabelle, you have your mother's jewels.”
“Yes of course. And ….?”
Percy narrowed his small eyes, turned to Anthony and cleared his throat loudly. Anthony smiled and sat up. “I was not sleeping.”
“We did not think you were. Your inheritance is the brownstone town house ….”
“Just a minute!” Clarabelle shook her head. “You forgot a few things, Percy.”
“Such as!” She sat forward and grinned at the man. “Such as Willowbroke Farm and The Blood.”
“I did not forget them, as you will see. Anthony you have the brownstone town house on Cedar Banks and with conditions, you also have Willowbroke Farm!”
“What?” Clarabelle snapped. “No! There has been a mistake. You will fix that immediately, Beerbohm. Willowbroke was promised to me. I arranged that with my father months ago.”
“No Clara,” Sarah put in, “you know that Willowbroke was to be Tony’s. It was always planned that way.”
“Well, those plans changed, Sarah. You have made a mistake, Percy!”
“No, I did not Clarabelle. Three weeks before he died Martin changed his will. As I said, with conditions, Willowbroke goes to Anthony.” Percy paused and steadied himself for what he was sure was to come. “‘The Blood’ ruby goes to Miss Sullivan and along with it three thousand pounds a year, if certain conditions be met!”
Marianne stayed stunned and silent.
Clarabelle got to her feet. “No!” She slammed her hands down on the desktop. “The Ruby is mine! What are you up to, you miserable old Jew?”
William stood. “Clarabelle! Shut your mouth. Henry, see to your wife.”
Henry rolled his eyes, took her by the hand and pulled her back into her seat.
“Don’t just sit there, you fool or I will knock you off that chair. Do something! They are in it together! Percy and that woman. They are trying to steal my ruby.”
“I am not trying to steal anything!” Marianne shot daggers from her eyes at Clarabelle. “I have no interest in your bobbles, Mrs. Hubert.”
“Bobbles! Ha! No!” She was on her feet again. “Willowbroke is mine and so is the ruby.” She turned to William. “For God sakes, Will! You know that The Blood has passed in our family from mother to daughter. I have waited all my life for it….”
Anthony grunted. “You haven’t waited that long, Clara.” He stood, took her by the shoulders and glared at her. “Sit down and be quiet or leave.”
It was an amazing thing to see, Marianne thought. Clarabelle in a red faced rage simply nodded and fell heavily back into her chair.
“Look, all of you,” Marianne looked from each face to the next. “I am not entitled to or want anything from your family.”
Anthony nodded. He stayed standing his arms folded on his chest, in front of his sister and between her and the lawyer. “We understand. Perhaps we should just let Percy continue. You said that there were conditions. Please explain.”
“Yes, thank you Anthony. Before that though,” Percy took a pale green envelope from the tin box and handed it to Marianne. “Lord Martin left that with me to give to you. I think you will find that it explains a great deal that now confuses you. Unfortunately I must request that you read it now.”
“Why?” Marianne demanded angrily and then realizing that she very much did not want to seem to be another ‘Clarabelle’, sighed, broke the seal and opened the envelope. But for the ticking of the wall clock and Clarabelle’s heavy breathing the room stayed silent while she read the two page letter. After finishing the letter she kept her eyes down and said nothing. Her hands shook. Whatever she read did not sit well with her.
“Right, Percy.” Anthony turned back to the lawyer. “The conditions?”
“The conditions placed by Lord Martin two months before his demise are …. Anthony you will receive Willowbroke Farm and Miss Sullivan with receive the ruby necklace if the two of you move into Willowbroke and at some point during the next six months solve the murders of the Lord's first two wives. If you do not manage to solve the murders in that time, the farm will go to Clarabelle. Whether or not the murders are resolved Miss Sullivan will receive the yearly amount of three thousand pounds and the ruby. It was Martin’s desire that Miss Sullivan help Anthony solve the murders.”
“Murders.” Marianne whispered. She shook her head and stood slowly. The pleasant peach color of her skin had faded. She looked shaken and grey. She put one hand on the desk as though to steady herself. “God in Heaven, this is ridiculous. I do not solve murders. I am not a police man. I am a librarian.” She dropped the letter on the desk and turned to Anthony. “I am sorry but I can not help you. Mrs. Hubert, I do not want the ruby and or the money. I do not accept gifts from men, especially those I do not know. Good day to you all.” She nodded, tried a small, narrow smile and left the office.