The Duke And His Four Wards

The Duke And His Four Wards

By:  Zetar086  Ongoing
Language: English
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Felix Cambridge couldn't believe it. Along with the dukedom of Twyford, he-London's most notorious rogue-had inherited wardship of four devilishly attractive sisters! Including the irresistible Margaret Fleming. The eldest Fleming was everything he had wanted in a woman, but even Felix couldn't seduce his own ward...or could he? After all, he did have a substantial reputation to protect. And what better challenge than the one woman capable of stealing his heart?

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91 Chapters
Chapter 1.1
   The rattle of the the curtain rings sounded like thunder. The head of the huge four-poster bed remained wreathed in shadow yet Felix was aware that for some mysterious reason Harveston was trying to wake him. Surely it couldn't be noon already?    Lying prone amid his warm sheets, his stubbled cheek cushioned in softest down, Felix contemplated faking slumber. But Haverston knew he was awake. And knew that he knew, so to speak. Sometimes, the damned man seemed to know his thoughts before he did. And he certainly wouldn't go away before Felix capitulated and acknowledged him.     Raising his head, Felix opened one very blue eye. His terrifying correct valet was standing, entirely immobile, plumb in his line of vision. Haverston's face was impassive. Felix frowned.     In response to th
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Chapter 1.2 (Part 1)
   One floor below, Margaret Fleming sat calmly reading His Grace of Twyford's morning paper in an armchair by his library hearth. If she felt any qualms over the propriety if her present position, she hid them well. Her charmingly candid countenance was free of all nervousness and, as she scanned a frankly libellous account of a garden party enlivened by the scandalous propensities of the ageing Duke Duke if Cumberland, an engaging smile curved her generous lips. In truth, she was looking forward to her meeting with the Duke. She and her sisters had spent a most enjoyable eighteen months, the wine of freedom a heady tonic after their previously monastic existence. But it was time and more for them to embark on the serious business of securing their futures. To do that, they needs must enter the ton, that glittering arena thus far denied them. And, for them, the Duke of Twyford undeniably held the key to that particular door.    Hearing the t
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Chapter 1.2 (Part 2)
   Her announcement was received in perfect silence. A long paused ensued, during which Felix sat unmoving, his sharp blue gaze fixed unwaveringly on his visitor. She bore this scrutiny for some minutes, before letting her brows rise in polite and still amused enquiry.    Felix closed his eyes and groaned. “Oh, God.”    It had only taken a moment to work it out. The only woman he could not seduce was his own ward. And he had already decided he very definitely wanted to seduce Margaret Fleming. With an effort, he dragged his mind back to the matter at hand. He opened his eyes. Hopefully, she would put his reaction down to natural disbelief. Encountering the grey-green eyes, now even more amused, he was not so sure. “Explain, if you please. Simple language only. I&rsquo
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Chapter 1.2 (Part 3)
   It occurred to him that her explanation of her life history had been curiously glib and decidedly short in detail. "Start at the beginning. Who was your mother and when did she die?"    Margaret has come unprepared to recite her history, imagining the Duke to be cognizant of the facts. Still, in the circumstances, she could hardly refuse. "My mother was Margaret Birmingham, if the Staffordshire Birminghams."    Felix nodded. An ancient family, well-known and well-connected.    Margaret's gaze had wandered to the rows of books lining the shelves behind the Duke. "She died shortly after I was born. I never knew her. After some years, my father married again, this time to the daughter of a local family who were about to leave for the colonies. Emily was very good to me and she looked after all of us comfortably, until she died six years ago. Of course, my father was disappointed th
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Chapter 1.3
   As soon as the carriage door was shut by the majestic Rickshaw, the horses moved forward at a trot. Margaret lay back against the squabs, her gaze fixed unseeingly on the near-side window as the carriage traversed fashionable London. Bemused, she tried to gauge the effect of the unexpected turn of their futures had taken. Imagine having a guardian like that!    Although surprised at being redirected from the Twyford House to Delmere House, she had still expected to meet the vague and amenable gentleman who had so so readily acquiesced, albeit by correspondence, to all her previous suggestions. Her mental picture of His Grace of Twyford had been of a man in late middle age, bewigged as many of her father’s generation were, distinctly past his prime and with no real interest in dealing with four lively young women. She spared a small smile as she jett
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Chapter 1.4 (Part 1)
   Within minutes of Margaret Fleming’s departure from Delmere House, Felix has issued a succession of orders, one of which caused Mr. Robert Bailey, son of Mr. Joseph Bailey, the patriarch of the firm Bailey and Brown, Solicitors, of Chancery Lane, to present himself at Delmere House just before eleven. Mr. Bailey was a dry, desiccated man of uncertain age, very correctly attired in dusty black. He was his father’s son in every way and, now that his sire was no longer able to leave his bed, he attended to all his father’s wealthier clients. As Rickshaw showed him into the well-appointed library, he breathed a sigh of relief, not for the first time, that it was Felix Cambridge who had inherited the difficult Twyford estates. Unknown to Felix, Mr. Bailey held him in particular esteem, frequently wishing that others among his clients could be equally straightforward and decisive. It really made life so much easier.
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Chapter 1.4 (Part 2)
   Felix was frowning.    “Of course,” Mr. Bailey went on, consulting the documents on his knee, “You would only be responsible for the three young girls.”    Instantly he had his client’s attention, the blue eyes oddly piercing. “Oh? Why is that?”    “Under the terms of their father’s will, the Missed Fleming were given into the care of the Duke of Twyford until they attained the age of twenty-five or married. According to my records, I believe Miss Fleming to be nearing her twenty-sixth birthday. So she could , should she wish, assume responsibility for herself.”    Felix’s
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Chapter 2.1 (Part 1)
   After Mr. Bailey left, Felix issued a set of rapid and comprehensive orders to his majordomo Gibson. In response, his savants flew to various corners of London, some to Twyford House, others to certain agencies specializing in the hire of household staff to the élite of the ton. One footman was despatched with a note from the Duke to an address in Half Moon Street, requesting the favour of a private interview with his paternal aunt, Lady Hillsborough.    As Felix had intended, his politely worded missive intrigued his aunt. Wondering what had prompted such a strange request from her reprehensible nephew, she immediately granted it and settled down to await his coming with an air of pleasurable anticipation.    Felix arrived at the small house shortly after noon. He found his aunt attired in a very becoming gown of purple sarsenet with a new and unquestionably modish wig perched atop her commanding visa
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Chapter 2.1 (Part 2)
   Knowing this was an attitude he was going to meet increasingly in the next few weeks, Felix sighed. In an even tone suggestive of long suffering, he pointed out the obvious. "They weren't left to me but to my esteemed and now departed uncle's care. Mind you, I can't see that he'd have been much use to 'em either."    Wiping the tears from her eyes, Lady Hillsborough considered this view. "Can't see it myself," she admitted. "Harry always was a slow-top. Who are they?"    "The Misses Fleming. From Hertfordshire." Felix proceeded to give her a brief résumé of the life history of the Flemings, ending with the information that it transpired all four girls were heiresses.    Amelia Hillsborough was taken aback. "And you say they're beautiful to boot?"    "The one I've seen, Margaret, the eldest, most definitely is." &n
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Chapter 2.2 (Part 1)
   When he called at Guile's promptly at two, Felix was relieved to find Miss Fleming alone in the foyer, seated on a chaise opposite the door, her bonnet beside her. He was not to know that Margaret had had to exert every last particle of persuasion to achieve this end. And she had been quite unable to prevent her three sisters from keeping watch from the windows of their bedchambers.    As she had expected, she had had to describe His Grace of Twyford in detail for her sisters. Looking up at the figure striding across the foyer towards her, she did not think she had done too badly. What had been hardest to convey was the indefinable air that hung about him—compelling, exciting, it immediately brought to mind a whole range of emotions well-bred young ladies were not supposed to comprehend, let alone feel. As he took her hand for an instant in his own,
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