Chapter 2

What Jacob saw when he went through the door stopped him in his tracks. His breath whooshed out of him.

That ghost of a man, only skin and bones couldn't possibly be his uncle.

Uncle had been a large man, he'd been robust. But this man looking at him with his eyes stark against his pale, lifeless face...

Good god.

Jacob went to him, forgetting all about his anger.

"Jake, my boy, is that you?" came his frail voice.

Jake. Nobody had called him that in years.

"Yes, uncle, it is I," Jacob replied, trying to remain calm.

"I thought I'd never see you again."

"What the hell happened to you?" Jacob boomed, unable to keep his emotions in check anymore. This wasn't a normal reunion. His uncle was barely alive.

"They said it could be a cancer," he lifted his shoulders in a shrug, but it looked like even that small action took a lot of effort.

"Where is your nurse?"

"I sent her away for a few hours, she is a nuisance is what she is."

Seeing Jacob's grim expression, his uncle smiled, "this is a happy occasion. But there are certain things I must tell you before I die."

"What is it?" He asked, wanting the ignore the second half of that sentence.

"We must not speak ill of the dead, but your aunt was a witch, you probably already knew that." His aunt had passed away last year. Jacob had not attended the funeral.

Jacob let out a choked laugh.

"Yes well, I didn't send you away because I didn't love you. I had to send you away to protect you."

Jacob resisted rolling his eyes. "Protect me from what, precisely?"

"Your aunt and her lover wanted to pronounce you illegitimate."

Jacob felt his eyes widen. "What?"

He didn't know if he should be surprised that his uptight aunt had a lover or that she had hated him so viciously. Alright, the latter was not all very surprising.

"Because they hated me. They wanted to destroy me," his uncle said simply. "They had found your parents' marriage license. If proving your illegitimacy didn't work, they were even prepared to kill you," his eyes hardened.

"I know you hate me, but I couldn't think of any other way to keep you away from all the unpleasantness."

Jacob didn't know what to say. All these years he'd painted his uncle the villain when in truth, he had only been trying to protect him.

"You could've told me. I could deal with it," he said lamely.

"I couldn't risk it. You were barely a man. And you didn't know what you'd be up against. You know who your aunt's lover was?"

Jacob shook his head.

"The Duke of Devonshire—Henry William Cavendish."

Bloody hell, that man was a pig.

"Alright, so we get back the papers from them," Jacob shrugged, wanting to calm his uncle who looked increasingly agitated.

His uncle chuckled. "It's not that simple. I've been trying these last seven years. But the man simply won't give them up. I want to see you destroyed, he keeps telling me. He carries those papers with him everywhere, Jake. I could sue him, but he's a Duke. I didn't want to burden you with this, but I don't know how long I have left. There is only one person deserving of this viscountcy, Jake and that is you."

"It doesn't matter if I don't inherit," Jacob murmured.

"Of course it matters!" His uncle shouted and then fell into a fit of coughs that shook his entire body. Jacob quickly poured him a glass of water, feeling terrible. It was obvious that this was important to his uncle.

"Promise me this, Jake. You need to become the next viscount. You can't let anyone else inherit," his uncle said forcefully, clasping Jacob's hand in his weak ones.

Jacob nodded.

"Promise me," he insisted.

"I promise," Jacob said solemnly.

His uncle relaxed, his body sagging into the bed.

"But be careful, son. Cavendish has no morals and he plays dirty."

Jacob wanted to laugh. Oh, his uncle had no idea.

Cavendish had finally met his match or was going to very soon.

"Why does Cavendish hate you?" He asked.

"It began when we were in school. But things got worse when I began to court Margaret. I was not interested but your grandfather arranged the match. Cavendish was apparently in love with her. Anyhow, he made her his mistress as soon as he could," his uncle said, sounding bored.

Oh my.

Jacob wanted to ask more, but Uncle George's eyes began to droop, the lengthy conversation having tired him.

"I'll leave you for now then," Jacob said and turned to leave.

"Jake, there's something else."

"Now what?" he sighed.

"He has your mother's necklace. The one she'd given to you. Get that too, will you?"

Jacob felt an unfamiliar emotion in him.

He nodded. "I will."

"And can you find it in you to forgive me?"

"I have nothing for which to forgive you except for keeping me away from you all these years."

"Yes and it's too late now," his uncle sighed.

It wasn't. Jacob wasn't going to let the one person that he'd loved to die just like that. Hell, he was not the sort of man to die at the age of forty-six. And this certainly didn't look like cancer.

Jaw set stubbornly, Jacob walked out of the room.


White's, St James


"I can't believe you punched me," Jacob muttered, nursing his swollen eye.

"You deserved it for going off without a goodbye," Peter grinned. "Maybe I should punch you again in the other eye, as well?

"What the hell for?"

"For not writing to me or replying to my letters."

"Maybe not."

"We've missed you, you arse," Peter Willoughby–Baron Middleton said.

"I've missed you too, Pete," Jacob replied honestly.

"Have you met your uncle? I heard he's feeling poorly."

Jacob nodded, his throat tightening.

"Are you ready to inherit?" Peter asked looking concerned.

"I don't know if I will," Jacob replied. "I don't really care if I don't inherit, but my uncle has some delusions about me being the ideal heir."

"What do you mean you don't know? You are the rightful heir!"

"Yes, but here's where things get complicated."

At Peter's look, Jacob explained his situation to him.

Peter swore viciously and quite loudly, some gentlemen even turned to look at them. "I've always known that Cavendish was a cad, but this is too much even for him."

Jacob shrugged.

"And to think he might have mended his ways after his daughter was left at the altar," Pete muttered.

That caught Jacob's attention.


"Oh, of course, you wouldn't have heard about that on the continent. His daughter, Lady Olivia Cavendish was jilted quite publicly at the St George's cathedral. It was a scandal of the ages."

"And then? Did she marry?"

"I'm afraid not. Not many men were willing to court her after that, except fortune hunters and the like."

Jacob sat back and smiled, digesting the information.

"I don't like that look," Peter said, eyeing him nervously.

"Then you're going to like what I have in mind even less," he laughed. 

Comments (2)
goodnovel comment avatar
Bella Jersey
Jacob can eat shit and die. He’s gonna play with the daughter for revenge. Maybe she’s not like her father
goodnovel comment avatar
Matthew Kato
the hunters of fortune

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