Brides of Wishmore Series
Her mother led Elin to her dressing table. She gently pushed Elin to sit on the bench and then knelt on the carpet in front of her, taking her hands and holding them.
“My daughter, we have discussed this. I thought you’d forgiven yourself. It was not a good incident in your life but nothing terrible came of it.”
“I have forgiven myself.” Elin’s voice sounded false to her own ears. “I just believe Baynton should know.”
“That his brother took advantage of his betrothed? Is that what you want to tell him?”
“I wouldn’t say who.” Especially since Baynton and his brothers had a turbulent history.
There had been three Whitridge sons residing at Baynton, until Gavin’s younger, Jack, had disappeared one night from Eton. Some claimed he’d had run off. Others believed foul play. No matter what, he was never seen or heard from again.
The disappearance had meant that the old duke had not wanted to let his last and youngest son meet the same end. Or have the same opportunity to escape. The old duke had been an exacting taskmaster. He had high expectations for his heir. Ben often felt he was an after thought. “A spare,” Ben had always claimed, oftentimes bitterly. “Always kept at bay.”
Because of Jack’s disappearance, his father had kept him at Trenton, the family estate, and had him educated by a succession of tutors with only Elin as a companion.
As an only child of parent who were often absent from the country, Elin had valued Ben’s company. She’d trusted him and to this day, could not believe he had taken her innocence to strike out at his oldest brother, as her mother had claimed. Everyone knew the brothers were highly competitive. The old duke liked them that way.
However, to Elin, the loss of her purity was a small thing in the face of the betrayal of a trusted friend. She’d known he’d longed for independence. He’d yearned to buy his commission and set off into the world.
What she hadn’t anticipated was that he would use her in such a deliberate way. That had seemed out of character. Her mother had assured her it was very much the nature of men and one of the reasons that from now on, her parents would protect her more closely.
And so they had.