Continuing with the introduction of the characters in my book:
I’d like to introduce you to Thomas Fylbrigge, Earl of Aberdoir and, if he has his way, the successor and future Duke of Stonehaven. There is a lot I could say, but I feel it better to allow Thomas to speak for himself. Thus, I turn over the floor him. . .
Welcome, come, sit. My door is always open and the drawing room always prepared for company. I’m glad you could come. I have a splendid vintage to share with you, bottled in the north of France by monks of all people. Here, I’ll pour.
I have been worried that the rumors and gossip on the street would keep you from visiting me. I’m pleased to find that you are open minded, and not so easily swayed by the wagging tongues of those chittering twits in the town who like to spit their venom on my reputation. To listen to them you would believe me to be the very devil incarnate, rather than their benefactor and employer. Do I not pay them their fair share each counting day? Do they bother to thank me for keeping the granary stocked and their flocks and fields protected from marauders from the south? They certainly have no complaint with the products that come from the distillery.
But all this is not enough. They beseech me to lower their taxes, as if that were mine to do. I only require the tribute necessary to keep the town from earning the scrutiny of the crown. How much harsher would their lives be if James himself came through demanding the tribute be paid to him directly — in blood rather than gold. Do they not see that it is I who keeps their skin safely secured to their bones?
But why should the townsfolk respect me as their sovereign when my own father regards me as a ‘secondary’ son. Me! Secondary to the mewling thing in the cradle upstairs. Am I not still the eldest? Any court in the land would side with me as the eldest for the inheritance that should have been mine. How could my father saddle me with the responsibility to not only share the family fortune with this newborn interloper, but to actually take on the role of father to it! I’d sooner send him to a nunnery to be raised as a eunuch. But alas, I shall honor my father’s dying wish and see to child as if he were my own.
But then, what will become of my own? I do have a true son of my loins after all. Should he too be denied his rightful tribute and place in my father’s line of succession, just to honor a dying — and daft — man’s wish? He should be the beneficiary of the dynasty I shall begin and not the dishonored nephew of the pretend heir to the Fylbrigge lineage.
Ah, but it is what it is, and for now I shall see that the whelp is safe and warm and cared for. For now. I have time. There are more pressing matters for me to occupy my mind; how shall I divide the territories of Stonehaven when that dukedom becomes my own, for instance.
To get to know Thomas a little better, you’ll have to read By Right of Blood. Available for Kindle and in trade paperback from Amazon.com.