CHAPTER TEN

Yourstone reentered his London flat. Eleanor had stayed with Richard on the pretense of making sure he was all right. The real purpose was to cement the Prince of Wales’ resolve to abdicate.

Inside, he headed straight for his study and was surprised to find his son waiting for him. Andrew was perched in one of the club chairs that faced the fireplace, nursing a snifter of brandy, appearing quite comfortable.

“I thought you’d be out for the day,” Yourstone said, closing the door and stepping toward his desk. “At the races.”

“Not all that exciting. I decided, instead, that you and I should have a chat.”

He could not imagine what they would have to discuss. They were little more than strangers. About as far apart as a father and son could be. “I’m in a bit of a hurry. Can’t this wait?”

“Afraid not.”

He sat behind the desk and decided to see what the imbecile wanted.

“Do you think, dear Father, that you could stop screwing my wife?”

Not exactly what he expected. But he appreciated his son being direct. “And how would you know that was happening?”

“The staff talks. But don’t blame them. I overheard a private conversation. They have no idea I know. But I’ve had suspicions for some time. Contrary to what you and my lovely wife believe, I’m not stupid. So I’ve been thinking about why you would do such a despicable thing, wondering what precisely you are up to. You’re always up to something, aren’t you?”

“A man without ambition is lost.”

“Is that meant to insult me?”

“It was meant to motivate you.” He decided to see how far his son was willing to go. “Does becoming king of England appeal to you?”

Andrew coolly savored a sip of brandy.

“You don’t seem surprised by the question.”

“Nothing you do surprises me.”

“I intend for our family to rule this nation.”

“Which finally explains why you wanted me to marry the third in line. I wondered the reason you were so keen on the union. Seemed useless to me. But for Eleanor to be queen Richard and Albert both would have to be out of the way.”

No need to voice the obvious. His silence at his son’s speculation was answer enough.

“Impressive,” Andrew said. “I never realized the depth of your passion. You are a grand schemer, and a dangerous one at that.”

“I am only looking after the future of this family. The future of our nation. Yourstones have served the Crown faithfully. It is time that others serve us.”

“And when will this … change … happen?”

“Soon.”

“How your gut must churn.”

He did not like the young man’s surly tone, but he said nothing.

“I know what a disappointment I am to you. You find me wholly unsuitable to be the next Lord Yourstone. Yet now I will be the crown prince. A position, I’m sure, you personally would like.”

“You are the one married to Eleanor.”

Andrew stood from the chair, downed the rest of the brandy, and tabled the snifter. “You never answered my first question. Can you stop screwing my wife?”

“You’re sterile.”

The news did not surprise his son, either.

Andrew chuckled. “I’ve always wondered why none of the tarts I’ve bedded fell pregnant. I thought it just good fortune.”

“I paid the doctor who ran the palace’s fertility test, prior to the marriage, to lie.”

“And then he died. I noticed that.”

“Would you rather have him alive to contradict the results?”

His son shrugged. “I suppose not.”

“It matters not that you are sterile?” he asked.

“I despise children. The last thing I would want is another one of me.”

“To be king and queen means your wife must produce an heir.”

He watched as Andrew considered that reality, the dots connecting.

“All right. If we need a Yourstone heir, then impregnate Eleanor. Once that’s done, if you touch her I’ll make you sorry.”

He was unaccustomed to any semblance of a backbone from this weak soul. “And how will you do that?”

“I’ll kill you.”

He laughed.

“Not literally, Father. Though the thought is inviting. I’ll simply kill everything you hold dear. Which, in turn, will kill you. All I would have to do is reveal the truth. DNA testing can confirm the actual father of any heir. Then the whole thing unravels.”

“Including your position as crown prince.”

Andrew shrugged. “I was not a king before. I won’t be after. Who cares? As you like to remind me, I have no ambition. Perhaps that’s a good thing? Oh, I just remembered.” His son pointed a finger at him. “You’re the one who cares. So do your duty, Father. For God and country. Then leave my wife alone.”

Andrew left the room.

Yourstone did not move from his chair.

For his son he’d financed the best education, provided the finest tutors, and attempted to mold him into a man. Still, they’d always been distant, and he’d always thought the boy an idiot.

Yet the past few minutes had caused a reassessment.

For the first time he was proud.

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