Ever wonder what happened when Daniel stormed the church and met with Silver's guardian behind closed doors? Here's your chance to find out:
Daniel followed the vicar, Victor Merrick, and Silver’s uncle into the small room. His men squeezed into the cramped space behind him. As soon as the door closed, Edward Pennington turned around. “I demand to know who you are and why you would dare interrupt my niece’s wedding, sir!”
Facing Pennington was even harder than he imagined. Daniel fisted his hands at his sides, wanting the satisfaction of beating the awful man to a bloody pulp. But he could not unleash his anger, not until he had fulfilled his mission. Then he glanced to the man standing rigidly behind Pennington. Although Victor Merrick did not shout or stomp about, the man’s light blue eyes emanated waves of barely controlled fury.
“Sir, did you not just hear what I—”
Daniel held up his hand and the room fell blessedly silent. “My name is Daniel Claiborne,” he said softly.
Pennington’s mouth fell open. “You’re the Duke of Huntington?”
He nodded. “That is correct.”
“If I may be so bold, Your Grace? Why are you here?”
“I met your ward Miss MacLaren aboard the ship to Scotland.” Daniel straightened to his full height, towering over the man. “And I have come to marry her.”
For the first time, Merrick spoke. “No,” he said, unfolding his arms. He marched up beside Pennington. “The betrothal contract has already been signed.”
“Betrothal contracts can be broken.” Daniel gave him a pointed look. “And this one will.”
“You cannot have her,” Merrick said through gritted teeth, his hands fisting at his sides. “Silver is mine.”
Daniel’s own anger shot up so fast he could hardly breathe. A red mist settled into his vision and all he could think of was tearing the man limb from ruddy limb.
His solicitor must have sensed the danger brewing in the air and stepped forward. “Mr. Pennington, I am George Stephens, solicitor to His Grace. I have a new contract that will supersede and nullify any previous betrothal contract before today’s date.” He removed the document from his satchel and unfolded the parchment. “I need only to hear an amount you deem suitable and insert it here.”
Pennington’s eyes lit up at the mention of money. Daniel’s heart settled back into place. He would win. No one had a greater fortune, with the exception of Kenbrook and Claremont.
Merrick shook his head. “I have already settled on this marriage and the funds have been transferred over. It is done.”
Mr. Stephens adjusted his spectacles. “His Grace will, of course, reimburse you, Mr. Merrick, plus adequately compensate you for any inconvenience this has caused.”
“I have no wish to be reimbursed or compensated. My only wish is for all of you to leave here. Now.”
Daniel ignored Merrick and focused on the way Pennington kept rubbing those stubby fat hands together. “How much to tear up the old betrothal contract and sign mine?”
“I have already settled one hundred pounds—”
“Such a small amount? I would have at least given a thousand,” Daniel said, satisfied to see he had Pennington’s full attention.
“Ten thousand pounds.”
The old vicar at the far end of the room gasped. As Pennington turned to Merrick in surprise, Daniel raised his head and issued a silent warning. No way in bloody hell would he allow anyone else to marry Silver.
When Pennington turned back around with raised brows, Daniel crossed his arms over his chest. Time for negotiating was over. “What is he worth?”
Pennington did not miss his meaning and a slow smile spread across his lips.
“You cannot do this, Edward. We have an agreement!”
“About forty thousand.”
“Then I will go fifty thousand pounds.”
As the vicar stumbled down into a chair before his desk, shaking his head, Merrick put his hands on Pennington’s shoulders and turned him around. “I will not allow you to do this.”
“Get your hands off me!” Pennington shook out of Merrick’s grip, reached into his inner coat pocket, and removed a folded document. He ripped the parchment into quarters, then threw the pieces into the fireplace where the red-orange flames eagerly gobbled them up.
Daniel watched Silver’s old betrothal contract turn to ash and drew in a calming breath. The battle was over. He had won.
“You will regret this, Edward,” Merrick hissed, then raised his head and speared Daniel a look of pure hatred. “You all will.” Then the man turned to the door at the rear of the room, pulled it open, and stormed out into the courtyard.