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                                 Marblestone Mansion (Scandalous Duchess Series)      

“And now look at us, what language do these Americans speak? I have heard French, German and a word or two completely unfamiliar, just since I boarded the ship.”

“You’ll get on with it soon enough. Tell me, what can I do to resolve the differences between you and my wife?”

“Nothing, there is nothing to be done.”

“‘Tis the fault yours or hers?”

“Both, I imagine.” She glanced out the window at the trees and bushes along her side of the road. “What sort of trees are those with the white bark?”

“They are Aspen. The odd-looking pine trees are called Blue Spruce, and they are everywhere. Sister, you need not protect me. I am aware something is amiss with Olivia. At first, her letters were filled with love, but I received only two from her these last six months. Both said little and were signed not with ‘love’ but only with ‘affection.’”

“She keeps herself very busy.”

“With what?”

“Her society, mostly. She does miss you, particularly when she is forced to attend a ball with an escort instead.”

“She attends them often?”

“Olivia is much admired by her society.”

“And you, do you attend the balls?”

McKenna sighed. “I find them boring, particularly now that I have a wealthy brother. Every wife hunting baronet, knight, and barrister in Scotland finds me far more fetching these days.”

“But you dinna find them so?”

“How can I? None measure up to either you or Cameron.”

“How is my brother, by the way? He does not say how he is.”

“He took me to the ship and said if I am most fortunate, he will come to America to see that I am being treated properly.”

“He always did favor you, although I cannae think why. Does his Glasgow business do well?” Hannish asked.

“Very well. He said they built or repaired some 100 looms and shipped them from Glasgow to all over Scotland last month. The cotton mills flourish as do their suppliers.”

“A hundred in a month? I say, he is doing well. Is he happy?”

“Very happy, and his wife Flora, is the brightest star in our sky. You will love her as much as I do. She is perfect for your spirited younger brother and he has calmed considerably now that he is married.”

Hannish lovingly laid his head on top of hers for a moment. “How glad I am to have you keep me company. What do you think of Colorado?”

“It looks a lot like Kansas, which is by far the flattest stretch of land on earth. Even Northern Scotland is not as flat as all that. But. my dear brother, when I stepped off the train in Denver, the view took my breath away. Never have I seen a sight the likes of the grand Rocky Mountains. Had we no south bound train to catch, I would be staring at them still.”

“I never tire of seeing them either.” Hannish pointed to his mansion in the distance and then turned to watch her eyes light up. “Marblestone.”

McKenna’s mouth dropped. “It is magnificent. If this does not please your wife, nothing will.”

Situated on a plateau above the town, the enormous three-story mansion was white and glistened in the sunlight. As wide as it was long, it had a multitude of windows on each floor, decorative oval windows and saw-tooth wedges above the top floor and several chimneys. Too soon, the carriage rounded a bend in the road and she could no longer see it. “How many rooms?”

“Sixty-seven, more than enough to seek your solitude, should you tire of me.”

“I am pleased to hear that,” she teased.

“I intend to fill it with at least ten happy, laughing children.”

“Why do you call it Marblestone?”

“It is not marble on the outside, but you shall see when you go inside. The Yule Marble quarry is in the mountains to the west. Marble is very expensive, but once it is polished, it is by far the most beautiful stone in the world.”

“Then you truly did make a fortune when you sold the mine.”

“More than even my wife could spend in a lifetime.”

The gradual incline of the winding road kept her from seeing more of the mansion through the trees, so she slumped back in her seat. “I have a complaint.”

“Why am I not surprised to hear that?”

“You built it facing the valley and not the mountains.”

“Aye, but there are windows facing the mountains as well, and there is afternoon tea to be had outside where you can see for miles. Just wait, you will not be disappointed.”

“And are the Americans you employ friendly? Some Americans were not so pleasant on the train.”  


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