“Why did you come?” She asked him calmly.
“I heard you are engaged to a man. You both will marry soon. I hoped to see you one last time.” Aldrich replied with innocence.
Lucy stepped back. Was he joking?
“You never told me that you were engaged Lucy. Why did you allow me to kiss you? Why did you kiss me in return? You made me fall in love with you, now you are set to marry another?”
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Lucy found his accusations surprising. First, she had enjoyed the kiss they had shared that night. Secondly, she wasn’t engaged. Where was he getting all these lies from?
“I don’t understand you, my Lord. You are the one that is set to marry my friend, Ariana. You were the one that tricked me into loving you. All that while, you had eyes on the Marquees daughter, but you still went ahead and seduced me under the moonlight.
That wasn’t enough for you, you sent your cousin to invite I and the baron for your wedding. He came, bearing gifts. Between you and me, you are the one that is unfair.”
Lucy was hurt that the Duke would accuse her of things that she didn’t know about.
“What are you talking about? What wedding?” Aldrich straightened to his feet. There was a little mix up.
“Do you ask me? Beauregard warned me to stay away from you! When my brother warned me, I never listened. I do not want you to come in between my friend and me.”
Aldrich scoffed, “I sent Beauregard to speak to you on my behalf. My intention for him was to convince you to love me. I do not wish to marry Lady Beldon. I do not love her. It is you that I have chosen to be my duchess. But you are engaged. Beauregard told me so.”
It was Lucy’s turn to be surprised. Obviously, somebody was lying here. And it was not her or the Duke.
“Could Beauregard have lied to me? What reason would he have to do that?” The Duke asked out loud.
All of a sudden, Lucy realized that she had an opportunity to rescue Elan, from whatever Beau had over his head. This was risky, because it could backfire. Two things were involved; the Duke could either believer her or not.
But she was willing to take that risk.
“I am not engaged. You are the first man that I have kissed,” Lucy confessed.
The thought of being the first man to arouse her innocence made him proud.
“Why would my cousin tell me that you are?” Aldrich wondered.
“Maybe he doesn’t want us to be together. He tried to flirt with me at the show.” Lucy started…
Aldrich couldn’t believe his ears.
“Your cousin is a dishonourable man. He wants my brother to harm you, so he could take the throne. I know Elan didn’t want to give me details, but I am not a fool. Elan sensed that Beau could try to harm me, this was the reason he asked me to leave Ox-Dale.”
It seemed like a fairy tale to him. Beau that he trusted with his life had betrayed him. He now understood why Lucy was travelling at night.
“Lady Lucy is right. I saw Sir Beauregard, riding on a golden horse and a turban to the Baron’s. I do not like that man. He seems like a devil to me.” The guard chipped in, uninvited.
“What? How could you not tell me that the man on the golden horse was Beau?” Lucy cried.
It all made sense to him now. Aldrich understood why Beau had suddenly become nicer, early; he even addressed him as ‘Lord,’ in a rather sarcastic manner.
Beauregard was a traitor.
“I did not want to scare you.” Francis replied.
In all of these, the Duke wasn’t angered by the thought of Beauregard trying to get Elan to kill him. He was angered that Beau tried to ruin his chances with Lucy.
“I swear to you, my lord, Elan would never think of murder. My brother was threatened by Beauregard. The secret must be very delicate, because Elan wouldn’t tell me about it.” Lucy fell on her knees and sobbed. She knew the punishment for conspiracy was death by hanging. She didn’t want Elan to end up in the gallows alongside Beau.
Aldrich had spent enough time with Elan at Morglay Street to understand the kind of person that he was. Elan was many things, but not power drunk or a murderer.
“I underestimated my cousin. My father had spoken of Beauregard’s father’s near betrayal while they were younger. But I had never shared the matter with my mother. I guess that bloodline must be destroyed, else evil shall live on.” Aldrich confessed an important secret that he had kept for many years now.
Lucy’s lips parted as she stared into his face.
“I will not harm your brother. He asked you to stay away from me, because he feared I would hurt you. I will never do that, my darling.”
He swept Lucy’s small frame into his arms and encircled her. She couldn’t believe that her joy and love would come so easily. It seemed the Duke and her were meant to be together.
“I have spent my nights and days, thinking about you. You are an amazing woman, Lucy Wesley.”
Tears stung Lucy’s eyes. She was speechless. She didn’t have any words to describe the feeling of being loved by the person you desired.
“My Lord…” she began to say something, but he hushed her.
“I am not your Lord. I am Aldrich to you. You must learn to address me properly.” He winked and Lucy blushed.
Lucy sighed and buried her head against his chest. It felt like home. It felt like forever.
“I love you darling,” he kissed her ears.
“I love you Aldrich.” Lucy peered into his dark eyes and surrendered to his soft lips. They kissed yet again, under the full glare, of the gibbous moon and the diamonds in the sky.
In the morning, Beauregard would wake up in chains; for his confidence had failed him. With the help of his guards, Elan was able to overpower and bound the Duke’s cousin.
At first light, three horses appeared in Ox-Dale. One belonged to the Duke; one to Francis and one, to Lucy. They had all returned after spending a night at Islington, where Lucy had learned of her friend’s elopement.
The news about Ariana brought sorrow to her heart, even as she read the letter; but her joy was that, Ariana was with the man that she loved. Aldrich comforted her, all through their journey back to Ox-Dale.
Finally, a mutual enemy that tried to tear them apart would be destroyed forever. They will wed. They will become man and wife. Nothing could ever tear them apart.
If you ever find yourself strolling in the night, whisper to the wind and all the elements of nature. If the air and the stars refuse to grant your wish, you could try the moon, for her magic never fails.
The Duke had found his love, under the moonlight. And Lucy Wesley had found a man that completed her, under the moonlight. There is a magic in the moon, which all in love must know about.
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