Secret Brides [3] Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage

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Book: Secret Brides [3] Secrets of a Scandalous Marriage by Valerie Bowman Read Free Book Online
Authors: Valerie Bowman
Tags: Historical Romance
prove your innocence.”
    “Thank you, Mr. Abernathy. I trust you will. Now.” She lifted her chin. “What do you need from me? To help?”
    Abernathy pulled out another swath of papers from the middle of his stack and grabbed up a quill. “I need you to tell me everything you remember about that day.”

 
    CHAPTER 9
     
    Kate took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. She’d known this moment would come. The moment when she’d have to relive it all, the horrific details of the morning George had died. She’d dreaded it, yes, but she’d been mentally preparing herself. She’d have to face this again, in court. The first time would be the most difficult, however. She already knew that much. She turned to face Mr. Abernathy and swallowed the lump in her throat. “Very well. I’ll tell you everything.”
    “Including…” Mr. Abernathy glanced away a bit hesitantly. “To be frank, the rumor is that you and your husband had a row that day. If that is indeed true, I must insist upon the details.”
    Kate nodded.
    Lord Medford rose from his seat. “I’ll leave you two.”
    “No, my lord,” Kate replied, looking up at him. “Please stay. You have every right to hear this after the assistance you’ve provided me. Unless, of course, you’d rather not.”
    “Are you certain?” he asked, meeting her eyes.
    She glanced away. A single nod. “Yes.” For some unknown reason his presence comforted her.
    Lord Medford settled back into his seat. He motioned to Mr. Abernathy. “Proceed.”
    The barrister cleared his throat. His hand grasping the quill hovered over the parchment lying on the desktop in front of him. “Your grace? Is it true that you and his grace argued the morning of his death?”
    Kate bit her lip but she returned the older man’s stare. “We did argue. That is true.”
    Abernathy scribbled on the paper. “And the nature of your argument?”
    She paused, opened her mouth, and then closed it again.
    “It’s all right, your grace,” Lord Medford said. “We understand how difficult it must be for you to say these things.”
    Kate felt a bit bolstered by his encouragement. She closed her eyes, trying to remember. She blew out a breath. “The previous evening, my husband had informed me that he refused to grant me a divorce.” She opened her eyes again.
    Abernathy merely nodded, as if a duchess announced every day that she intended to divorce her duke. The man continued busily scribbling. “You had asked his grace for a divorce?”
    “Yes.” She squeezed her clammy hands together in her lap.
    Mr. Abernathy scribbled more. “When had you first mentioned a divorce to his grace?”
    “I’d written to him, the week before. I’d been waiting for George to come to the Abbey and discuss it with me.”
    More scribbling. “And that’s why he was there?”
    “Yes.”
    Abernathy looked up from his paper. “And he didn’t come alone?”
    “No.” She gulped and her throat ached. “Lady Bettina, his … his mistress, was with him.”
    *   *   *
    James pounded his fist on the desktop, and the teacups bounced. The duchess and Abernathy turned to stare at him. Damn it. If that ass Markingham weren’t dead, James would like to land a punch squarely on his jaw right now. How dare the cad bring his mistress with him to discuss his marriage with his wife?
    Abernathy returned his attention to the duchess, his hand poised over the parchment once again. “Did anyone else accompany his grace?”
    Her eyes searched the ceiling. “His valet, Tucker, was with him as well.”
    Abernathy kept his eyes trained on the paper while he busily wrote. “And what did your husband say to you?”
    “He said…” She swallowed again. “He informed me … that he and Lady Bettina were in love.”
    James cursed under his breath.
    Abernathy didn’t look up. “But he refused your request for a divorce?”
    She nodded. “Yes. As you know, the grounds for divorce are very … delicate and he refused to consider

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