Author’s Note: Robert is a good guy, all things considered.
Remember that this is part of the pick a serial (yes, you can pick both, details here,) so leave a comment in some way if you want more.
Dear heaven. She was pregnant.
Robert sat down in the nearest chair, feeling rather like being gassed might have been merciful. He should have died several times over in that great bloodbath, but he was left alive for this? What had he done? He knew that he had not hurt that woman, no. Someone stole his name, and having done so, they had betrayed her, using everything he was to do it. At least if he’d been dead in the war, she’d have some comfort in being his widow, perhaps even taken in by his family or paid off, but now? What did she have?
Her marriage could not be legal, and without that…
He grimaced. He would find the man who had abused his name—and her—and he would make them pay for this. He did not care what anyone else thought. This was a crime. It should be dealt with as one, not belittled or ignored. He did not see how anyone could dismiss this—or her—the way his father did.
Then again, his father was a very self-important man who did not seem to think anyone’s opinions or even their lives mattered except when it related to his, and even then not so much. RJ Winston was a curmudgeon at best, and at worst… Well, that was not a thing any son should think about his father. If he was honest, though, he thought that about the man more days than not.
He rose, ignoring the throbbing in his arm. He went to the door, leaning against the frame as he decided what he must do and how best to accomplish it, rubbing at the irritation that was his more or less useless limb. He could not manage all of what must be done on his own—he had too many limitations these days.
“Do you need something for the pain, Master Robert?”
Robert looked over to see the family butler watching him. The man had been with their family for so long that when Robert was younger, he’d often mistaken him for his father before he understood what the role of a rich patriarch was. His father was not a man who bothered with his children. That was for the wife and the servants to attend to, and more often than not, that duty fell upon Albert.
Sometimes it was even enough to make Robert pretend the other man was his father. They shared no resemblance, but the servant had always expressed more interest in him than his father had. “No, Albert, but if you could pack my trunk, that I should appreciate.”
“Your trunk, sir?”
He did not much feel like explaining, though he doubted that the butler was so loyal to his father as to refuse to do as he asked. No, he would not be stopped, not by physical means, but this was a delay that he did not care for. “I must see to this matter at once. I will need at least two weeks worth of provisions and a ticket. If you can arrange the trunk, I believe I can manage the ticket.”
“Begging your pardon, but can that be at all wise? You know that you are not yet recovered from your injuries, and your arm is—”
“She’s pregnant.” Robert lifted the letter so that the butler knew what he was talking about. The house had few secrets, but all the same, he didn’t need them thinking that there was another poor woman in this mess, someone he’d met overseas. That would have made this all the more disastrous than it already was, and he did not want to hurt anyone else.
“Good Lord,” Albert said, the one other person in this place that seemed to care what happened to Violet Winston and her child, the one decent one among the lot of them. “I’ll see to that trunk at once.”
“Thank you.” Robert stuffed the letter in his pocket, shaking his head. His parents were not likely to accept his decision, but he did not care. Three people were now victims of the man that had stolen his name, and he intended to stop it there. To do so, he would need to know as much about the man as he could. He would have to do what he could to repair the damage that was already done.
It would, he feared, not be enough.