We’re two days from the release of The Broken Tree, and I’m happy to give you a final excerpt before it goes live! Today we’re meeting the third couple in The Broken Tree, Elliott and Kate. Enjoy!
The Broken Tree, copyright 2019 Kellie Butler. All rights reserved.
Elliott strolled down the hall and out onto the lush, green lawn that, even in early evening, was still teeming with people. He hadn’t expected such a crowd. Bank holidays usually meant to trips to the beach, but as he gauged the crowd, these were locals that had come out for a relaxing day or evening, and the last hurrah before it was time to return to work. It wasn’t long before he spotted Edward Cavert. He was chatting with families as he moved amongst the crowd with a mega-watt smile. Elliott studied him for a while before he moved on. By all appearances, he acted as owner instead of just a caretaker. He wondered how the Bainbridges felt about that. Hmm.
Elliott nodded at a few people as he ambled across the lawn. He hated this sort of thing more than nearly anything else, but he had to blend in. He was grateful for the tables and chairs placed in the formal garden and took a seat. He observed the crowd as the purple sky of twilight began to fade to indigo.
A little boy near him pulled on his mother’s skirt. “Mommy, are we going to miss the fireworks?”
“I hope not, son. The show is supposed to be more of a spectacle this year.”
The boy seemed placated, but he kept looking up at the ominous dark gray clouds that blanketed the area. Rain was imminent. As swift-moving as they were, perhaps they would empty their contents and move on. Elliott felt for the little boy. He too loved a good firework show when he was that age.
“Excuse me, little chap, would you care for a present?” Elliott asked the boy. The tyke eyed him cautiously and then turned to his mother. Elliott took out a pound and held it up for the boy to see. “See, it’s a pound. Would you like it?”
“Mummy, may I have it?” The boy looked towards his mother for guidance.
“Yes. Say thank you to the gentleman for being so generous.”
The tyke took the note from Elliott’s hand. “Thank you, sir.”
Elliott smiled. “Have you come to see the fireworks?” The boy nodded. “So have I, but I’m not from here. Tell me, when are they going to have it?”
“As soon as it gets dark. We brought our blanket to sit on and watch.” The boy held up a thin cotton blanket.
“And why not? Thank you, my boy. Have a lovely evening.”
Elliott smiled as the little boy stared at the note in his hand as he and his mother continued down the path with their blanket. As his eyes followed the pair, he heard a voice behind him. “Hello, darling. I wondered when you would get here.” He turned around and Kate stood there in a radiant orchid gown. What caught his surprise was the necklace she was wearing.
“My dear, what a unique bauble. Where did you find it?”
“Oh, something that Lydie gave me years ago.”
Elliott nearly choked but kept his calm. “Tell me, have you seen Lydia?”
“Oh, yes. She was with a group of her school friends. She’s getting awfully big. Granted, her dress hides it, but I’ve noticed she’s been a bit tired today.”
“So, you haven’t spoken to her or your brother today?”
“No, I’ve been waiting to see you.”
“Well, let’s go enjoy the fireworks. I’m sure we’ll create some of our own tonight.”
“Elliott, I’ve been thinking about something,” Kate bit her lip.
“Oh, what is that?”
“I rather wonder if we could delay mentioning that to them tonight.”
“My dear, are you ashamed of me?” He stepped back.
“No, of course not.”
“Then why wouldn’t you be happy if I announced our engagement?”
“I suppose with Lydia’s condition and everything, it might be hard.”
“What does that have to do with her pregnancy?”
“It’ll make Henry upset and then she’ll be upset. It won’t be good for the baby.”
“Well, I suppose I couldn’t. Actually, I’ve wanted to talk to you about something. I’ve been thinking that I might take on a nurse to help me and perhaps with you. She’s here at Laurelhurst now and we could take her back with us. Or I could just take her back with me.”
Kate grew pale. “What nurse?”
“Nurse Fielding, the one I told you about. Come dear. I told you I posted a job opening for a nurse and she called. Apparently, she wants to move on.”
Kate’s voice grew cold. “Because she isn’t wanted here anymore. She lashed Bobby and made passes at Henry so Lydie fired her. You do know that she and Edward dated for five years, or did she fail to mention that? Apparently, she thought Henry would be a better husband. All that peroxide has gone to her head.”
“You’re awfully defensive, Kate.”
“I’m not being defensive. I utterly can’t stand that woman. Any chit like that who would leave welts on a child’s chest shouldn’t be taking care of anyone. If you want a chit like her, I hope she gives you bruises after she milks you dry. You deserve what you get,” Kate rose up and walked off.
“Kate,” Elliott rose and went after her. “Don’t make a scene, my dear girl. People are staring at you. Do you think your brother-in-law or sister-in-law want their private affairs laid out in the open? Especially on a day they are inviting people to discover this beautiful place. You want to spare them pain? Then get a hold of yourself.”
Kate stopped and turned around. Elliott stood there, grasping his cane. “I’m sorry.”
“Thankfully only a few people heard you. Hopefully the firework show will make them forget what they heard.”
“They’ve put a lot of work into it. Lydie brought extra blankets. We could sit there.”
“No, let’s find somewhere far away from them. I gave my luggage to a footman. I’m not even sure where I’m staying tonight.”
“Upstairs on the second floor. I’m right across the hall from Henry and Lydie in the master suite. You should see it. It’s gorgeous.”
Elliott tried to not blush from the thought of Lydia reclining in bed. Thankfully the dark sky hid his true feelings. Moments later, the first starbursts of light lit the sky and people around them gazed in delight as colors exploded over the night sky and showered towards the ground. For fifteen minutes there was nothing but joy as the crowd was treated to a display they wouldn’t see again until Bonfire night.
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