England - 2008
“Lady Emily, time for your tea.” Ninety-year-old Lady Emily Parsons sat in the old solar at Fayne Manor, now a grand and comfortable drawing room, resting in the wingback chair that faced the large window. She removed her glasses and looked up. Lord Arik’s Journal Chronicled by Doward lay open in her lap.
Helen, Lady Emily’s housekeeper and companion, brought in the steaming Earl Grey tea with warm scones and clotted cream. The tangy citrus aroma of the tea and sweet fresh baked fragrance of the cakes filled the room. She set the tea service on the table.
“Tea already?” Emily closed the journal and put the book on the table. Her hand lingered. She stroked the old leather binding, her finger tracing the strange embossed letters on the cover. “He must have been a driven man.” She straightened up and accepted the offered cup, enjoying the mild orange aroma.
“Lord Arik. From everything I’ve read, someone was out to ruin him.” Emily stirred her tea with a shaky hand and let out a heavy sigh. “If only we knew where to find his sister Leticia’s journal I’m certain we would have the complete story.”
“You’ve been working too hard these last few months. First, organizing your family papers and now finding this,” said Helen, gesturing to the book by Emily’s side. “Perhaps Mr. George can take your mind off things. He arrived a few minutes ago.”
“Are those Helen’s scones I smell?” George Hughes entered the room, his bold strides making fast work of the distance from the door to Emily’s chair.
Emily watched as he took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet buttery aroma.
“Ah, there they are. Emily, you’re not keeping those scones all for yourself. What need I do to get one?” He took her hand, kissed it, winking at Helen as she left the room.
“You, young man, can have one just for the asking,” Emily said as she poured his tea.
He sat across from Emily, politely spooning cream onto the small cake. She smiled, remembering a younger George sitting in the same chair scooping all the cream out of the saucer and onto his scone leaving the dish empty, his resulting mustache the only sign there had been any cream at all. She looked now at a fine young man in his late thirties, tall with a muscular build and dark loosely waved rich brown hair with a slight touch of grey at the temples.
There was mischief in his blue eyes as he wiped the last of the crumbs from his mouth using the large damask napkin. “I’ve brought you a birthday present.”
“A birthday present? Is it my birthday already?” Emily teased him innocently.
He put the napkin down, went to her and took her hand. “Come. Let me give you your present before dinner.” He helped her up from the chair, tucked her arm in the crook of his and led her downstairs.
“What’ve you been up to?”