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Two cunning damsels. Five friends who are not helping And a Duke on the verge of a dilemma as he makes the decision that will change everything. Blinded by the desire to get her home back, Monica Maitland decides to play the Duke of Anfield into fulfilling her every desire. But when emotions set in, it takes the highest form of cruelty to ignore them in the quest for happiness. Philip Forland however gives a deaf ear to every warning he's received, switching the identities of heroes and villains as he's blinded by his love for Monica. Meanwhile, she's the devil behind the scenes, striving to destroy everything that once destroyed her. Until she realises, maybe the real villain here wasn't who she thought it was.
Arching his elbows, he tapped the bow lightly. In split of a second, he shot the arrow.
The Marquess smiled at his friend, comparing their shots, "You never miss a chance to show me my place, do you?"
Philip Forland lowered his arms, tossing the bow to the ground, "I'm a born Archer. One of the few things I learnt from my father, The Duke."
The Marquess, Earl Robinson started towards the rest, "Oh how I'd love to crush those hopes totally. Let's go fishing, or horse riding," he smirked wickedly before concluding, "Or even hunting."
Philip shook his head with a smile, ignoring his friend. He looked forward at the other men, Earl of Vetcom and Prince of England, Jason Ferma and Raymond Louis, pulling on the straps of their horses to get on them.
Staring at nothing, the Prince sat upon his beast and gave Earl a befitting remark, "Let me take a wild guess, Philip emerged victorious as always."
Earl grinned charmingly and responded, "Well if you ask me..."
"That was not a question," retorted the Prince.
By then, the potential Duke had joined them on the lawn, "Let him be Raymond. I strongly believe he'll win in hunting."
The Prince laughed hard and turned his beast around, "I'll bet my father's throne he won't."
The Marquess was not offended. He grinned as always, determined however to prove them all wrong.
Turning around, he watched the last two and shouted at the top of his voice, "Peter! Timothy! Come along, we're going hunting."
Jason just glared at them, a small smile on his face.
Duchess of Anfield, Rebecca Forland entered the diner and sat beside the head seat. Her eyes moved to the shrimp cake at the center of the table, then to the cook who served her, "You have really outdone yourself today. The Duke's favourite." At her husband's name, she frowned and asked, "Where is he anyway?"
Carol Garlesh turned gloomy, her face ashen white, "I do not know my lady. His Grace has not come down since morning."
Rebecca raised a brow, pushing herself up from the chair, "Well why did you not check on him?"
Carol watched the Duchess stride away from the room, a determined look on her face. She followed dutifully down the long hallway, the floor turning cold under her feet.
The mansion was one of a kind. Built back in late fifteenth century with the finest foreign blocks, it was one of the biggest along with the King's palace. Almost surrounded by water, except for the small lawns and the bridge that led to the gate.
Inside of it was a new story itself, refurnished with dark green marbles almost the whole height of the mansion. All the hallways had a familiar look, narrow, long and dark lined with sculptures and pictures that stole attention.
At that moment however, the duchess was not distracted by them. She turned to her right after the long, straight walk, the Duke's door facing her. That was when she realized the severity of the situation. There was dead silence.
Placing her hand on the knob, she gasped and turned it.
Carol perked her head up and looked through the doorway, a hand over her mouth in shock.
The gazelle grazed in peace, relishing the gift life had to offer, with full Oblivion the life was coming to an end.
A bullet pierced through its head so quickly it could not complete its last breath.
The Marquess walked to it, hovering above its body with a proud pose, "That is one kill for me. Two to go."
Timothy, Raymond's elder brother gave a non-chalant huff at his friend, "I'd have killed half a dozen with that same time."
"Hunting is an art," Earl began those his irrelevant lectures again, "It requires skill, training and..."
A gunshot stopped his speech. Philip had caught a boar.
The potential Duke sent him a sarcastic glare, "I'm sorry I did not quite hear that. Was it something about me being better than you in basically everything?"
Earl Robinson pressed his lips to hide a smile. He was used to this kind of torture from all of them already, "Well Philip. Let's go deeper, just you and I. The first to hunt down a warthog becomes superior to the other for a whole week." Immediately, the potential Duke gave an upside down smile, confirming his acceptance to the deal.
Warthogs were not an easy sight in this part of the country. However, it seemed things were turning out to be on Earl's side. He nuzzled his gun, aiming at the giant beast it took over ten minutes to find. Smiling, he placed a finger slowly on the trigger, ready to pull and be superior to Philip for seven whole days. Somehow though, he forgot that things weren't all that easy in life.
The Marquess caught sight of his opponent a few feet away, aiming at the exact warthog he had found, trying to STEAL his price.
Philip sent him a daring stare and they immediately crouched again, aiming at the animal intently.
They both were about to pull the trigger, but suddenly, Philip frowned, "Do you hear that Earl?"
"My songs of victory. Oh yes Philip, loud and clear!" The Marquess replied.
But the sound drew nearer, making Philip curiously stand upright to analyze the surrounding, "I am being serious my friend."
The pig galloped away, making Earl reluctantly listen to his friend, "Thank you for nothing. What in the world's name are you hearing?!"
The potential Duke looked around and listened some more, "It sounds like… like an army approaching with angry horses. Do you not hear horse steps?"
Earl Robinson frowned when he realized Philip was right, "I hear it. What do we do?"
The sound got closer and frightening and automatically, both men set themselves in a position to shoot at any threat.
Now it was more than just sounds, Philip could actually see men on horses.
The man who led the others waved a hand frantically at him, as if trying to identify himself.
The potential Duke narrowed his eyes, giving the approaching men a closer look, "Lower your gun Earl! They are my father's men!"
Earl yanked his arms down, shaking his head and spitting his words, "I lost my warthog for absolutely no reason."
Philip almost smiled. But then, he realised his father had never sent soldiers after him before. Meaning something was wrong.
Commander O'Neil,chief of the clan descended his horse, giving both men a light bow, "My Lords. The duchess asks for your presence in the empire immediately."
Philip tried his best to disguise the fear in his voice, choosing his words carefully, "Why? Is anything wrong?"
The older man looked up at him, daring to keep the eye contact as he gasped, "It's the Duke."
Philip sent his friend a worried look and swallowed.
Priests filled the large mansion, whispering prayers while the family mourned in the background.
Rebecca Forland still stared at the Duke's corpse, hoping he would move somehow. But…it just lay there, still and lifeless.
The oldest priest stalked to her side, glancing down at her husband while saying things that were meant to be a consolation.
The Duchess however, wasn't listening. It was just left for Philip to arrive.
Just then the six lads marched through the double doors in utmost hurry. As they approached the diner, Philip lost patience and broke into a run, through a melee of mourning relatives. His father being dead was a news so sudden and unbelievable he still doubted till now.
Stopping beside his mother, he asked, "What happened?"
And there it was, the Duke's body, wrapped in white, something Philip felt was all a dream.
Rebecca replied sternly, "I opened the door and found him like this. It was so sudden and quiet."
Philip felt a hand on his shoulder, turning to meet Raymond who had a frown on, "It's going to be fine. The priest needs to see you."
He obeyed quietly, shock and disbelief evident in his steps.
Father Ramiro faked a smile at the lad, "All we should think of now is your father's achievements my boy. He did well. But with him gone, you'll have to take over as the new Duke."
When he saw the tears in Philip's eyes, he walked over and placed a hand on his shoulder, "You may be too young for this. But when the rest mourn, men stand and think of a way forward. And that's what you'll do. Think of how to be better than His Grace ever was."
Philip gasped and nodded weakly. Unknown to the priest, he wasn't crying because of all this. He was crying because it meant his entire life was going to change. Hunting with Earl, arching with Jason or swimming with Peter.
He was going to be Duke of Anfield.
The bartender pushed her out and yelled, anger impinged in his voice, "Next time, do not come to my store if you can't pay for what you drink!"
Monica staggered and leaned against a wall, eyeing the man ruefully, "Curses! I have money…all of it. You pesky little..."
Before she completed her sentence, the man slammed the door, disgusted by her drunken state. As far as he knew, the women of England did not go around dressed in trousers and boots, not to talk of being drunk.
Monica frowned and swallowed, returning her gaze to her path. The lane seemed to dance erratically and divide into three, "Foolish English. You all think you are so smart. When I get my duchy back, you'll see."
She stopped walking and stared into darkness, her eyes shutting slowly and tiredly, just before she surrendered to the arms of unconsciousness.
"I know he will be as good as father," Anna Forland said
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