known in English Society as Lady Ashlynn Keene
Ayasha looked at the papers swirling around the room and just smiled. She had most definitely bought a haunted house, but the stables and yard were the best around. “Jiibay when you are done playing with them put whatever has you in a tizzy on top. I’ll deal with it when I get done interviewing the solicitor.” Ayasha ducked as the spirit threw the fancy courier delivery letter at her. Sometimes the spirit that haunted this house was more of a nuisance than she liked to deal with, but she had been taught to respect the spirits since she was a babe. It was generally friendly, but then again she had acknowledged that this was the spirit’s home as much as hers on her first visit here. Today, the spirit had been as aggravating as whatever played with the stick and lived in the attic. She re-read the letter and decided that while she didn’t need employment she apparently would not get a peaceful moment to do her ledgers until she responded to the letter. She reached for the quill pen and found it and stationary right where she needed them. She penned a request for the gentleman to join her for tea to discuss his offer and then signed it with the name she was trying to have removed from her life. It was how he’d addressed the letter to her and thus how in London she had to respond.
Ayasha sent the letter with the servant and was not overly surprised when the messenger arrived stating her appointment with yet another solicitor had been canceled. It should not be that difficult to get a marriage annulled that had not been consummated, but apparently Lord Henry Derwentwater’s death made it more challenging. Or maybe it was the reason for her husband’s death that made it seem unrealistic. Her husband had died three months ago in a duel for having bedded the duke’s sister. That he’d been bedding the duke’s sister before he married Ayasha four months ago had not been a surprise to her. Her marriage had been a business transaction, nothing more. Henry had needed a wife to take the posting overseas and she had wanted to travel. Her in-laws wanted her money to pay off their debts and she wanted nothing to do with their debts or them thus her desire for the annulment. At least they didn’t bother her here for apparently haunted houses were too unseemly for the Derwentwater family. The House of Flames was her home and had been for two of the three years she’d lived in England minus that one disastrous month she’d spent at Castle Derwentwater.
Her grandfather approved of her home and not many people argued with Lord Arthur Keene. Her grandfather had brought her and cousin Carlotta back to England with him when news had finally reached him of his brother’s death. Carlotta was studying at the university, a chance she never would have had back home. Ayasha had done the whole season thing and been presented to proper society under her “civilized” name of Ashlynn Keene. It wasn’t her thing, but she had learned valuable things during her season including information for the investigators about the murders of her grandfather’s family. The fact that she took in servants cast out by noble families after being forcibly bedded and gotten with child or rehabilitated pickpockets and horse thieves was probably what let her piece together the gossip of the society matrons into something for the investigators. Her housekeeper and butler supported her in these “good works” as they called them, taking the unfortunate in not aiding investigators.
She looked up as her housekeeper entered. “Milady, the midwife says the two girls should be delivering within the week. Carlotta sent word she’ll be late to dinner, but will be staying the night and that cockney bastard you call a friend is here to see you. I’ll have Sarah come chaperone as she likes the slimy cretin.” She smiled as Patrick just smirked as he ducked under Jacquelyn’s arms.
“No worries luv. I’ll just keep Ash company while you get rid of the plucky bastard. I mean after all no noble lady should be hanging around criminals and gun runners, but then again Ash is me lady luv. And she canna deny having run guns herself or fleecing me of all me coin for drink. Be a dearie Jacq and go get us some of the good stuff,” Patrick said with an insolent wink and a quick peck on Ayasha’s cheek.
Ayasha nodded for Jacquelyn to go ahead. “Tea would be lovely; you can have Sarah bring it with her. And you know that his missus would skin him alive if he did anything improper. Patrick would not be doing anything to jeopardize his gypsy fortune. Esmeralda is strong in the spirits and no charlatan. She’d know if he did anything.”