"Mother, the Marquess has invited us all on a picnic today," Connie exclaimed as soon as Wynne entered the house.
"Luke, that is kind of you…"
"Mother, please it has been forever since we have been on a picnic," Connie said then continued all in the same breath, turning to Luke. "Daddy use to take us all the time. We would go to the park he even took us to the…" Wynne reached down and covered her mouth with her hand, pulling Connie against her.
"Connie, Luke will not want to go anywhere with a little chatterbox like you."
Connie pulled her hand down from her mouth. "I'm sorry but I really want to go on a picnic."
Luke smiled at the girl then looked up at her mother tilting his head to one side.
Wynne rolled her eyes but agree to go and Connie squealed with delight, running to get her brother.
"Does she always have that much energy?" Luke asked watching her disappear.
"Always," Wynne said smiling pulling her crocheted wrapper around her shoulder. Luke stepped forward and helped her, his signet ring caught on the hip of her dress.
"Sorry," he mumbled stepping closer to untangle it.
Wynne lifted her arm to see if she could assist him in anyway, and he moved in closer. She couldn't help but smell the male musky smell mixed with the clean smell of soap. She looked down his head beautiful brown hair that was much longer that fashion dictated, she had the urge to touch it but resisted. She had not let any man get this close to her in the last year, physically or emotionally. She gently laid her hand on his back, his face turned up to look at her.
Luke looked up into her striking face; her soft brown eyes showed her every emotion. Straight nose led to lips that Luke could only deduce were made to be kissed. Moreover, right now she wanted to be kissed.
A throat clear behind Wynne, she turned so quickly that she ripped the ring from the delicate material and nearly broke Luke's finger in the process. She heard Luke groan and stifle a curse. "Baroness," Wynne said inspecting the rip in her dress. "The Marquess' ring caught in my dress."
"I would like to see you in the drawing room."
Wynne took a deep breath to steady her unsteady nerves; she cast a sideways glance at Luke following the Baroness, who closed the door soundly behind her.
"Gwendolyn you are in this house because of the benevolence of the Baron and you will not tarnish his reputation."
"What? I…we have done nothing. He is here for the children." Wynne argued.
"You will not gallivant around town with the Marquess. You married my son and I can not change that but I will not have the whole town talking about how you have now set your eyes on my sons best friend."
"Why do you hate me so?"
"You married my son."
"I loved your son and he loved me. You now have two beautiful grandchildren be cause of that love. Two grandchildren that you may very well not have if your son had not loved me." Wynne charged from the room calling for the children as she went.
Luke stepped to the side quickly recognizing the look of a woman enraged. He watched as the children came from the back of the house ready to go.
"Gwendolyn," the Baroness growled.
The two children looked from their mother to their grandmother.
"Gwendolyn, if you leave this house there will be repercussions," the Baroness growled.
"Do not ever threaten her again or you will be the one to suffer the repercussions," Luke ground out as he followed Wynne and the children out the door. "Wynne, what happened?" He saw her looked down at the children; she shook her head indicating that she did not wish to talk about it. "I said we were going on a picnic so let's go."
The entire group chatted and enjoyed the afternoon. Wynne watched Luke with the children and admired how easy fathering came to him. She also admired how handsome he was, from the strong set of his jaw when he was thinking about something, to his massive shoulders and arms. She realized she was staring at him when their eyes locked and he sent the children off to play.
"Wynne, where were you just now?"
"What are you talking about?" She laughed uncomfortably starting to pick up their mess.
"Leave that, Merle can do it," he said referring to the servant that was standing unobtrusively nearby.
Wynne stood and started walking not sure she wanted to divulge her thoughts of him. What would she say that for the first time since Marks death she was finding she needed the touch of a man. Should she tell him that she found him more than attractive, she found him magnetic and that every time he was near her, she could barely think straight.
"Wynne, what are you still upset about what happened at the baron's?"
"No," she said still walking away from the area that they had their picnic.
"Lady Stansgate," a man called from behind her but she knew the voice. Wynne turned to see Lord Batmore walking towards them. Wynne turned back to Luke and immediately say the loathing in his face.
"I was not expecting to see you out today," he said looking directly at Luke then back to Wynne a malicious smile crossing his face.
"Mummy," Stephen calling running up to her. "Stephen, go keep an eye on your sister, you know how she can wander," she said pushing Stephen away from her.
"Batmore, I suggest you take your leave before I'm forced to do you harm," Luke ground out his hand resting on the hilt of his sword.
"Gwendolyn, I see you have found a new champion, does this mean that you are no longer in need of my services?"
"Stop it," Wynne growled
"What my dear? I'm sure that Ravensdale here did not think that a woman like you would…"
He was unable to finish the statement because Luke sent a hard fist to the side of his face. He heard Wynne squeal and felt her hand on his shoulder, but he was intent on giving Batmore a good sound beating. He shoved her slightly and grabbed Batmore by the front of his coat pulling him to stand cocking back to land another blow and he heard Stephen yell for him.
"Stay away from her and those children or there will be nothing to save you." Luke growled and shoved him violently away from him.
Luke grabbed Wynne by the arm as he passed her and barked to nursemaids to gather up the children. "I want to know what the hell is going on with him."
"Nothing, Luke stop it you are hurting me," she cried pulling at the fingers wrapped around her arm; she felt his grip slack ever so slightly.
"He is under the impression that there is more," Luke pulled her to face him. This was the first time in many years that Luke had lost his temper and he was in a murderous state. He wasn't sure exactly why, she was not his to become jealous over.
"I have been doing work for him." Wynne cried wrenching her arm free of his grasp, knowing she was able to free it only because he allowed it.
"What kind of work?"
"Just some work, Luke please let it drop, I needed the money and he was there with it."
"So you took his money in exchange for…" he was waiting for her to finish the statement. "I can't believe Batmore of all people, you know how much Mark despised him."
"As do you apparently," she said.
"You have no idea what kind of a person he is."
"Yes, I do, I'm from the place where men like that stalk and sniff around trying to find prey."
"Then why?" Luke growled though clenched teeth.
"Because I needed the money, tell me Luke what was I suppose to do? The Baron keeps a tighter hold on his money than King Midas, my mother has none extra, you were gone."
"What did you need the money for?" He saw her look over at her children her head tilting to one side and a soft look appeared in her eyes. Then her gaze returned to him.
"I will do anything to make their lives happy, if that means swallowing my own pride then that is what I shall do."
"The Baron provides for all their needs."
Wynne became angry with him that he was questioning her judgment.
"You come to me and tell me what you will do when your child comes home crying that he is being teased and taunted by his peers. Telling him he is lass than they are, because his clothes are not the latest or because he is the only one in his group that does not have a pony then you tell me what you are willing to do. I will do anything for them, Luke."
Mummy when will Uncle Luke return? He said that he would help me with my pony," Stephen said stifling a yawn.
"I don't know Love," Wynne whispered kissing him on the forehead and pulling the blankets up around his neck.
"Lady Gwendolyn, the Baron wishes to see you," one of the servants said as Wynne exited the children's room.
Wynne nodded her agreement and went to the Baron's study.
"Gwendolyn, have a seat," the Baron said sweep his arm towards one of the empty chairs. "It has come to my attention that your behavior is scandalous, did you cause a fight to occur between Lord Batmore and Lord Ravensdale?"
Wynne blinked and shook her head before she answered. "I…uh…I Lord Batmore was ill-mannered and Lord Ravensdale took it upon himself to defend me."
"We want you out of this house tonight," the Baroness barked.
"What we have no place to go."
"You should have thought of that before you decided to gallivant around town with the Marquess causing a scene."
"A scene is that your only concern, you will toss your grandchildren out on the streets," Wynne cried jumping to her feet.
"The children will stay, you will go," the Baron said standing and round his desk going to the door.
"You are mad if you think I'm leaving my children here with you."
"You have no choice the deal is done."
"We shall see," Wynne said going for the door and was blocked by one of the footman.
"I have paid for you to have a weeks stay at the 'Gold Pagan' then you must find your own accommodations," the Baron said nodding to the footman to remove her from the house.
"I will not leave my children," she screamed swatting the man's hands away.
"I'm sorry Lady Gwendolyn," the footman muttered and getting a firm grasp on her.
Wynne grabbed the doorframe to prevent them from removing her. The Baron peeled her fingers from the wood and propelled them forward to the door. She heard her children scream for her from the top of the stairs and look to see them being restrained by the nursemaids. Then was tossed out the front door, Wynne scrambled to her feet and tried the door. She could hear Connie and Stephen screaming inside the house. Wynne beat on the door until her hands started to bleed. She ran to the back door and started kicking at it but it did not give. She ran to the side of the house to where her children's room was. She fell to her knees sobbing. 'What was she going to do?'
"Lady Gwendolyn," was called softly from above her. Wynne looked up to see one of the nursemaids standing on the small balcony with Connie and Stephen.
"Mummy," they cried.
Wynne pushed to her feet and wiped her hands over her face. "I will get you returned, I promise."
"I love you," Connie sobbed.
"I love you too my sweet." Wynne looked up to see the constable coming towards her.
"Take them inside," Wynne barked, not wanting her children to see any more than they already had.
"Lady Stansgate, you must leave at once," the constable order.
"Not without my children," Wynne cried backing away from him.
"I will throw you in jail if you do not leave now."
"Then you need to take me to jail." Wynne backed into something, a body.
"Constable, I will take care of her,"
"Yes, My Lord,"
Wynne turned to see Lord Batmore standing behind her. "No, I will not go with you."
"You go with me or you go to jail, do you think any judge will give you your children then?"
"You did this," Wynne growled.
"No, unbelievable but the Baron did this all on his own. "I did supply him with a bit of information that helped him make his decision."
"What did you tell him?"
"Enough, now come along," Batmore said grabbing her arm and pulling her along with him.
There would be no remedy for this; everyone disliked her now this would only prove that she was not one of them.