Vera Martique: Part Three

Vera Martique: Part Three

28th of Nane, 986 A.C.

Grandfather Collins’ second visit was as brief as his first.

Once he’d arranged the sale of the shop and apartment, the funds deposited into a trust that would serve as part of her dowery with the intention of adding to it himself. Her further insistence that she had no wish to marry, let alone to some country lord, was ignored. He’d made sure that the servants were taking care of her and that there was a suitable chaperone to preserve her reputation. After meeting, and interrogating Dinkins, he'd left, satisfied that the older woman would do until further arrangements could be made.

Now he was back, with a more detailed plan.

Once again Vera was seated on the sofa as Grandfather paced.

“Right then,” he said. “I have had my solicitor place the property on the market and he’d had two offers. One that can pay in coin, another that has offered more than we asked, and can transfer the money once he sells his own place, over in old town. It is a significant increase but it means waiting on the sale.”

“I am more than happy to wait,” Vera replied. “I need time to pack, after all.” And plan, she added to herself.

“I do wish you would allow me to send staff over to help with the packing.” He furrowed his brow. “But, as you wish. I will send word take the other offer.”

“I do have a request.” Vera looked down at her hands and noticed an ink stain on her right index finger.

“Yes?” He sounded wary.

She kept her voice meek. “I would prefer that the funds are transferred into my own accounts, instead of into a trust. After all, my money becomes my husband’s once I wed but for now, I would have the freedom to see to my own needs.” Her heart raced. She could accomplish her goal without the money from the sale of the shop but it would be much harder.

Grandfather hesitated and his pacing stopped. Finally, he said, “Yes, I think that can be arranged. Once the sale has gone through you can move to Nain’s hold until the mourning period is up. That gives us just under five months to get you kitted out as a lady. I’ll find a tutor to make sure you know all you need to.”

Vera’s mouth fell open and her head snapped up. “I have had a fine education, thank you very much.”

He waved a hand. “You are smart and clever. I am not concerned about your brain. You need to learn what a lord needs and expects from a wife. You weren’t raised to be a noble bride but by the Maker, I will make sure you are turned into the perfect candidate.”

Her mouth snapped shut and she fumed inside, but she had to play the part and lull him into thinking she’d go along with his plans. She ducked her head in submission.

“Right then.” He crossed the room and took her hand, kissing her knuckles briefly. “I am off to my club. I will see you soon.”

Once he’d left, Dinkins sidled into the room with a tea tray. “You are sure about your plan?” She set the tray down and poured them both a cup, adding milk and sugar to her own and a bit of honey to Vera’s.

“I am.” Vera picked up the cup and let the warmth seep into her hands. “Running the shop as Papa had would be too difficult. I will need to switch tactics, and I will be damned if I allow Grandfather to turn me into a doll to stand at some man’s side and pander to his ego.” She shook her head. “No, I want to be my own woman and run my own life.”

Dinkins sighed. “Very well. I will send for Mr. Simpkins this afternoon.”

Thankfully Mr. Simpkins, her parents’ solicitor, was used to dealing with Vera. For the past four years Papa had let Vera sit in on their meetings so she’d understand the legal ins and outs of the business and family finances.

“Thank you, Dinkins.” Vera gave the maid a sincere smile.

Dinkins patted Vera’s hand and the two enjoyed their tea in a companionable silence and Vera contemplated her next move in the elaborate game of stones.

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