Chapter 23

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"George, please darling. You must eat," Melissa pleaded with her fiancé.

"Eat? How can I eat when my nephew is rotting away in jail, Mel?!"

"I understand and I want Jacob to come back as well. But what can you possibly accomplish if your health deteriorates?" Melissa cajoled.

"I feel so helpless. I don't know how to get him out of this mess. I've tried everything—I've spoken to all my friends but that damned Cavendish..."

"I know. He's an ass," Melissa muttered and settled on George's lap as he chuckled.

"There's only one way now—" she began to say but George cut her off.

"We're not bringing Olivia into this. I promised Jake," he said mulishly. Melissa got off his lap.

"I know, but I really don't see another way. And Olivia isn't the sort to put her reputation above what's the right thing to do. I'm sure that if I tell her the truth, she'd understand—"

"I said no."

"George Townshend, I am not asking for your permission," Melissa shouted, beyond frustrated. "I've had it with you bullheaded men," she muttered as she stalked out of the room.

"Mel—" he tried to stop her but she was already gone. He didn't go after her. He had a lot of people to write to.

***

Five days.

Five days of waiting.

Olivia felt like she'd go mad. Her faith in Jacob hadn't wavered in the least even after more than a day had passed since he'd left. Something must have delayed him, she'd consoled herself.

After the second day, a niggling doubt had crept into her mind.

By the fourth day, not hearing from him coupled with her father's pitying glances had done it.

She'd simply admitted to herself that he wasn't coming back. That he'd only ever wanted the necklace. But she wanted so desperately to be proved wrong.

Her heart was breaking—again and there was nothing she could do.

Her father had left to London yesterday. She didn't know why, she hadn't bothered asking. She was too busy licking her wounds in private. She rarely left her room. She cried often.

Wini and Sally would try to cheer her up but nothing worked.

She couldn't forgive him. She couldn't forgive herself for trusting him.

She hadn't expected him to marry her, she hadn't expected him to fall in love with her the way she had with him. But she had expected him to care about her—just a bit.

And this was why when she saw her aunt walk into her room, she ran to her and hugged her as tight as it was humanly possible.

"Olivia!" Melissa gasped and embraced her niece. Her sobbing mess of a niece. "I thought you'd be happy to see me," she murmured to the girl who'd taken one look at her and promptly burst into tears.

"I am happy to see you which is why I'm crying," she replied, her voice muffled.

"You're not making much sense, darling but it'll do for now. And as much as I want to hear all about what's wrong with you, there's something else we need to speak about. Besides, something tells me what I'm here to talk about has something to do with your tears," she said, leading Olivia to her bed.

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