Darker Purpose, A
Secrets and lies led Charlotte from the man she truly loved and into a passionless marriage. Guilt and the need for justice drove her into danger.
Length: Full Novel
Word Count: 97,680
Genre: Historical/Fantasy Romance
Available formats: PDF, RTF, Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.prc)
© Cover Art by Alex DeShanks, July 2010
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.
The coach moved slowly through the bustling London streets. Margaret Hawthorne studied the handsome, stern, obviously angry profile of the man beside her.
“Did anyone ever mention what a wonderfully handsome man you are William? You do have the most beautiful eyes I have ever seen. What color are they? It is so hard to tell. Sometimes, like now, they look almost navy blue and at other times I’d swear they were amber.”
He turned slightly to face her, not losing his frown. “They seem darker when I am angry.”
“I see. Well, you really should not be angry. I am doing this to help you,” she sighed, “How old are you now, William?”
“Old enough to know better,” Inspector William Morgan managed to give his companion a small smile. “This is highly unethical, Margaret.”
“Posh! I say you must be 35 and still without a wife. It is time for that to change.”
“I am 31. If you will remember, I had a wife in mind two years ago. You did everything you could to keep that from happening.”
“I may have made a mistake with all that. Since that time you have not had a serious female friendship so you must still have feelings for Charlotte.”
“Too much water…as they say. I have many ‘friendships’ and Charlotte is married, in case you have forgotten.”
And now, William, she is separated and very unhappy.”
He shrugged. “She misses her husband. They will, no doubt, reconcile in time.”
I doubt that. According to my mother, Charlotte is holding back ‘something shocking’. I am going to find out just what this is and you are going to be listening!”
Just how will we do that?”
Do not forget I grew up in that house. I will get Charlotte into the parlor for our talk. You will go into the library, directly next to the parlor, on the pretext to make a telephone call. Above the bookshelves on the connecting wall is an air vent. Climb up on the stepladder. Put your ear near that vent and you will hear every word we say.”
I am going to look a real prate if someone finds me like that!”
“You will lock the door for your private conversation. Goodness, how ever did you get so far in your career?”
By not doing idiotic things, Margaret. As Charlotte’s aunt I would have thought you had more respect for her privacy.”
I love my niece greatly. I will see her happy at any cost.” They pulled to a stop outside the gray stone mansion. “We are here…finally! Now, remember, let me talk and you follow my lead.”
God, Margaret!” William whispered as he helped her down the coach steps. “Why did I let you talk me into this?”
“Because you still have feelings for Charlie, what other reason could there be! Now lose that scowl and be nice.”
Charlotte Thornton was descending the main stairs when Margaret knocked on the door. “It is alright, Betty. I will get it,” Charlotte said to the parlor maid. “It will be my aunt.”
“Aunt Margaret!” Charlotte smiled as Margaret stepped into the foyer. “Inspector Morgan? Is something wrong?” She looked from one to the other with surprise.
Good afternoon, Mrs. Thornton,” William returned the smile. “No, nothing is wrong, I…”
Margaret interrupted. “William and I had a lovely lunch together. I was going to drop him back at Bow Street when he remembered an important telephone call he should have made earlier. I said he could use the telephone here. Isn’t that right, William?”
“Yes.” He looked flatly at Margaret. “Don’t we all know how forgetful I can be? I hope you do not mind, Mrs. Thornton.”
“Of course not. There is a telephone in the library,” Charlotte motioned to a nearby doorway.
“And,” Margaret added, “William did mention that it might be a rather long call. You go ahead on in and make yourself at home, Will. Charlotte and I have some catching up to do!” She took her niece by the arm, led her into the parlor and closed the double doors.
“Why are you and Inspector Morgan having lovely lunches together, Aunt Margaret?” Charlotte teased. “Does Uncle Steward know about this?”
“Don’t be silly. Of course not! Steward is always much happier not knowing what I do. Any husband is! Anyway, I did not come here to talk about me!’ Margaret tossed her gloves and purse on an end table, sat and scowled. “Now, you sit right there and tell me why you look so dreadful? You are far too thin, your skin is gray and you have dark circles under your eyes.”
“Thank you,” Charlotte whispered, dreading the conversation she knew was coming.
“And thank you for letting me hear your sad news from as far away as my Doctor’s wife! ‘How is your lovely Charlotte doing these days?’ the bitch said, ‘What a shame about her marriage failing!’ She was more than pleased to see I had no idea what she was talking about.”
“I am sorry. I told Grandmother not to tell you. I was going to, eventually.”
When? At the divorce hearing? You will tell me right now, why did you leave Lawrence?”
Charlotte shook her head and pushed long lose strands of her thick, wavy red hair off her forehead. “It is not something I want to talk about. The marriage is over, that is all.”
“No, that is not all. You will tell me. Did he beat you? Was he unfaithful?”
“Unfaithful? I would not be surprised and I do not care. No, he did not beat me. He hit me once. The next day I came back here.”
Margaret looked for a moment into the terribly sad, pale green eyes. She thought of how they used to glow like emeralds with happiness. She moved beside Charlotte and took her hand. “Charlie, fifteen years ago when your dear mother died I promised her that I would care for you in every way and forever. I will never break that promise.” She could see that Charlotte fought back tears. “I know Lawrence is very generous and gives you everything you could possibly want…!”
“Not quite everything!” Charlotte let anger take the edge off her need to cry.