Chapter 10

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"I assure you, the surprise is all mine, Lady Beaumont," Lord Edward Buxton responded, as, with a flick of his hand, he dismissed all the other gentlemen present in the office. Observing his facial expression, amidst all the hustle of men gathering their papers up and exiting the office, Diana could tell that he really was surprised, even with his stoic and stern demeanor.

He did not seem to care about being disturbed in the middle of his meeting, but rather, he seemed curious to hear the conversation Diana had to offer. And Diana, was curious as to the response she was going to receive from such a devious man. He had succeeded in making a fool of her, putting up an entirely different show and getting her to respect him in a way, when in reality he had a completely blood thirsty outlook of life and business, an outlook in which he had her only uncle by the reins.

As she waited for every other man present in the room to leave, Lord Buxton, who for some reason felt no propriety in waiting, spoke up, "What brings you to Portsmouth, Lady Beaumont? Or rather, to my mill?"

In his tone danced a hint of sarcasm, or perhaps, mockery. He seemed to slightly taunt Diana for appearing in the very particular part of Hampshire that she had previously, openly disagreed upon. But then again, perhaps Diana was imagining such an insult, given the fact that she never truly criticized Portsmouth in front of Lord Buxton.

"I choose to answer the second part of your question, Lord Buxton, as the first part hardly concerns you," Diana responded.

The latter raised his brows a little at the lady's sudden coldness. Instantly regretting his decision of phrasing his question so. He hadn't expected to see her until his next visit to Southampton, which, because of business, was not possible anytime soon. Watching her enter his office had been an entirely different kind of experience. The room seemed to light up by her mere presence, and at that moment he could not hear a word of what his assistant was dictating to him. It seemed too good to be true and he had a sudden urge to shake himself awake, even though he wasn't really asleep.

Observing his silence at the remark, Diana coldly stated, "I am here for my uncle, who happens to be, much to my surprise, one of your employees."

"Your uncle?" Edward Buxton questioned, his brows furrowing a little in confusion.

"Yes, Mr Arthur Fleming," came the confident statement, "He, is my uncle."

Processing the given name in his head, Edward tried to ponder if he was familiar with it. He had more than six hundred employees in this mill alone, and even more than that in his other mill a few miles away where Isaac was positioned. Observing Diana's expression, he could tell that she was hurt and disappointed, but at what, he could not understand. He hadn't met her uncle in Southampton, he was not even aware that if Adam Seymour even had mentioned the existence of an uncle, who also happened to be one of his employees. And so far, the given name was ringing zero bells in his head.

Through the glass door of the office, Edward motioned for the man who stood at the door, asking him to come inside.

"Go get Porter, and ask him to bring the employee records for the mill along," He instructed the man who nodded and instantly went out.

Diana stood there, a hint of anger and frustration swirling inside her. In Southampton, she was used to her family and her being recognized by just their last names. By the time she had turned twelve, she had gotten used to people introducing themselves to her family first, and when she came out into society, she became used to being approached by people who knew all about her family and background, but she knew nothing of theirs. She had grown to realize that that was all because of the name her family had made for themselves, and so it was all the more difficult for her to hear her uncle's name being tossed around as a mediocre employer.

A thick silence prevailed as the man left to do as he was bid, leaving Diana, her aunt's maid and Edward alone once again in his office. Determined not to exchange words with the man in front of her, unless it was absolutely necessary, Diana pondered on the situation she had suddenly found herself in. To think that she had begun to form a pleasant opinion of a man who had, unbeknownst to her, been making her uncle's life difficult, was too much for her to accept. How could she have been so careless, it felt as though she had betrayed her own family.

"I want you to give my uncle an early off today, there are pressing matters at home that he needs to attend to," Diana blurted out, uncomfortable with the pointless waiting.

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