Sport of Baronets

Sport of Baronets by Theresa Romain Page B

Book: Sport of Baronets by Theresa Romain Read Free Book Online
Authors: Theresa Romain
always regarded the Chandlers with an impersonal resentment, but this was deep and bitter. “You would hurt us just to hurt him?”
    â€œYou do not have all the answers you thought you did.” She turned her face away, toward the wall.
    Our association is at an end… Bart recalled the short letter Hannah had found. A realization dawned on him, so unexpected that he had to place a hand on the wall to steady himself. “You loved him once, didn’t you? You loved him, and he—he broke off the association, and now you hate him.”
    Lady Crosby was quiet so long that Bart suspected she was pretending to be asleep. He was just drawing forward to retrieve her vinaigrette when she spoke. Slowly. As clearly as he had heard her speak since the apoplexy struck. “Sir William and I…are more alike… than you know. That’s why…we began our…association. And why it ended a short while later.”
    â€œAnd you cannot forgive him.” With a sigh, he sat on the edge of the bed again. “Are you angry at him for being a better businessman than you? For holding fast to his money instead of gambling it away?”
    â€œI do not think I am a businessman at all.” Her laugh rasped forth.
    Bart made an impatient sound. “You know what I mean.”
    She turned to face him again. “I don’t want to forgive.” Her mouth sagged with more than just paralysis.
    For sixteen years, she had been in the habit of hating, with all the power of love turned thwarted and sick.
    â€œDid Father know you had betrayed him? Before he died?”
    The small shake of her head was a relief. One fewer heart that had been hurt by the strange, tangled history of the Crosbys and Chandlers.
    No one knew anymore how the feud had started decades before. With two ambitious hearts, maybe, each wanting the same thing. Each desperate to get it at any price. There was nothing as everyday or as powerful as simple selfishness.
    Well, not much that was as powerful.
    He should have sent Golden Barb back with Hannah. You know what he represents to me. He did know, but he had still ridden away. Angry, so angry. This was how feuds began, and how they continued.
    He wondered how they could be stopped. He was determined to find out.
    Sifting through the bedside bottles, he retrieved the vinaigrette that would inevitably be required. “I intend to assume all the responsibilities for the family property, as allowed by my title. You are entitled to an income proportional to that of the estate, but you will have no financial authority beyond that.” As he opened the silver lid, the smell of vinegar pinched at him. “I hope your gambling days are behind you.”
    Shoving herself over in the bed, she batted the vinaigrette from his hand and it fell to the carpet. “You want to put me in a cage. As though my own body hasn’t failed me enough.”
    â€œI don’t see any failure before me. I see a woman who could have become helpless, and who taught herself to speak again and use her left arm. I see a mind as sharp as ever, as full of knowledge. You could do much good. We still have horses to train and to race.”
    She lifted the claw of her right hand. “Look at me. I can’t.”
    And Bart played his trump card. “Sir William Chandler spends time in his stables every day. If he can go about his business using a wheelchair, why cannot you?”
    â€œWheelchair,” she sniffed. “Nonsense. I could walk if something helped me to balance.”
    â€œPerhaps one day you can push him around. Until that day, it would be my honor to help you in a chair of your own.”
    â€œSooner than you think, Bartlett,” she said. “If you’re pitting me against Sir William, maybe I underestimated you after all. We should have all done this a long time ago.”
    â€œNot pitting against .” He rolled his eyes. “ Comparing . To become stronger

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