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A friend loveth for all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
October, ten years laterThe London home of the Earl of Larkton
“Don’t dawdle, Devan.” The Earl of Larkton stood without ceremony and waved his youngest brother inside his massive study. “You’re late, and we’ve matters to discuss. There’s no sense in both of us having the entire day ruined. In order to salvage what we can of the remaining hours of daylight, I suggest you enter so we can finish this as quickly as possible.”
“Always the hospitable host. You haven’t lost your touch at charming your fellow man, Larrrkton.” Devan delivered his most insincere smile, then sauntered into the room as if it were his study and not his eldest brother’s domain.
“Will you quit calling me that?” his brother huffed. “When you mock me, you sound like a chirring grasshopper.”
“What, Larrrkton? Perhaps you’d prefer ‘Lord Larrrkton,’ or perhaps ‘my Lord Larrrkton’?”
“God save me,” Larkton mumbled under his breath.
“Earl of Larrrkton, then.”
“You are the bloodiest aggravating bastard of a brother a man could have.”
Devan counted the seconds. One. Two. Three.
“After all I’ve done for you, this is how you treat me.”
It was like clockwork. Three seconds after the usual “bloodiest aggravating bastard of a brother” comment, the dull but mandatory “how you treat me” always followed.
London at large could set their clocks and time pieces to Devan’s brother’s exclamations.
Mr. Devan Farris, the most dutiful vicar in the whole of London if he did say so himself—wait—in all of Great Britain—made himself at home, then reclined in the well-worn leather chair in front of the desk belonging to his brother, Gavin Farris, the Earl of Larkton.
“This is for you,” Gavin said as he handed a leaded crystal glass to Devan.
He took a sip of the excellent brandy, then sighed his contentment. “Where are the others?”
“Your brothers, Hearne and Niall, have taken Elizabeth out shopping.” Larkton eased himself into his desk chair and surveyed Devan from head to foot. “Your sister wanted you to take her. She says she enjoys your company when you escort her. Apparently, she likes your tastes in gowns.”
“High praise from Elizabeth,” Devan acknowledged. “I have a much better sense of fashion than anyone else in the family.” Too bad that all his talent was wasted since he was a member of the clergy, and they were expected to wear black.
“Spare me,” his brother muttered. “I’ve news for you.”
Devan took another sip, knowing that Larkton waited for him to show a least a hint of interest, but Devan wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that his curiosity was piqued.
Larkton drummed his fingers on the desk, then picked up his brandy and downed the rest of it. His face twisted into a scowl that no doubt resulted from the liquid burning his throat. “I’ve a new assignment for you.”
“New assignment?” That made Devan sit up and take notice. “Why?”
Larkton opened up the top desk drawer, then threw a copy of The Midnight Cryer to the edge of his desk. “Read it.”
Copyright © 2020 by Janna MacGregor.