Ailana’s hand shook as she read the agreement. This was it, if she accepted it she’d no longer be a Hamdun and she wasn’t even sure Abel would ever forgive her.
“Take your time” Orrick urged, “Make sure you understand it, if your struggling perhaps you can call a friend to help?”
“I have no-one” she decided, “but I notice the dower arrangement if you die without a son, isn’t very generous. Can a woman truly live off this?”
“Lynette manages” he agreed.
“Do you not think you could find your way to making a better offer?” she pushed, “I’m cutting off all ties with my family, I need to be taken care of”
Holding out his had he took the parchment off her, nodding he took the quill out of the ink pot and scribbled something. “Better he asked” returning it to her.
Looking at the new figure she nodded, it wasn’t a great deal of money, the agreement had certainly been drawn up so it only favoured her if an heir was produced and even then in the event of Orricks death she would never control his estate.
“It doesn’t mention a dowry” she noted, “Will it be returned to me?”
“I assumed there wouldn’t be one” he conceded, “Gabriel isn’t likely to pay out on a marriage to me”
“I have some jewellery, it was my mother’s … its valuable, I would be bringing that its not much perhaps but it’s something”
“Well hand it over then” he smiled, nodding the parchment again crossed the table and she watched as he scribbled down a further line about her jewellery returning to her on his death.
As far as dower arrangements went it wasn’t generous, in fact as far as arrangements went there were few fathers above merchants that would accept an agreement that provided so poorly for their daughters on the death of a husband, however it was all she had. Orrick was an old man and chances where favourable that he would die before she was too old to re-marry and the dower provided with her well enough to survive.
“We will need to get this signed in front of witness’s”
“Yes” she agreed.
“Would my daughters suffice?”
“A man would be better” she ventured, wanting to leave no reason for anyone to throw it out.
“Then perhaps we can ask Baron Dacre, is he neutral enough for you?”
“Yes, he’s a good choice”
Orrick sighed, “Just to be clear on a few things… you know why I’m considering this yes?”
“Yes you need a son”
Orrick nodded, “I’m an old man and I have no time to waste, is that also understood?”
“Yes… You’ll want to start straight away”
“Yes” he nodded, “But also to be clear, I will not hurt you. If you refuse my invitations to the bed chamber the refusal will be accepted, I’m not a brute I will not force you but as is written long term its certainly in your interests to make our marriage work?”
“I understand” she agreed, infact she’s been quite surprised by the agreement yes it was harsh in the event no child was born but the moment he accepted a child, son or daughter as his things turned around quite sharply turning it into a comfortable deal. So much so that she understand regardless of how she felt about it, refusing his advances would be financially unwise.
“Secondly I want to know two things, I want you to be honest about them do you think you can do that?”
“What happened with you and Thomas? Who’s idea was it?”
“Peter’s” she replied, trying to keep her voice steady, “but Gabriel was in on it. They said being the mistress of a king would secure my future especially if I gave him a son”
Orrick nodded, “but you seduced him yourself”
“Yes” she nodded, it sounded so dirty when he said it like that. “I tried to refuse but … they convinced me it was the right thing”
“What about Joseph?”
“I have never given myself to him your lordship” she protested quickly. “It was Gabriel’s idea so he could get to Dawn, but Abel convinced me that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad idea… he said it would get me a husband”
“Yes but things did get quite unseemly between you both didn’t they?”
“Yes” she agreed, “I was scared he wouldn’t want me if I refused him. You have to understand I was desperate… I’m not like your girls I don’t have a father to take care of me”
“So why did you call things off if you were so desperate to get away?”
Her heart sank, she wished he hadn’t asked her. She considered lying to him but that wouldn’t get her anywhere. “Because I’m in love with Danson” she admitted, “I took a risk in the hope that he felt the same way”
“But he didn’t”
“It’s appears not” she nodded; cursing herself as he eye’s began to well.
“Then why did you not go back to Joseph?”
“Because it would have been a lie, I don’t love him and I would have to pretend I did. Forgive me but I’ve had enough of lies I would rather marry you knowing the truth of my affections”
“I am an old man Ailana and by marrying me you’ll never be able to go back to your family? Do you understand that?”
“Yes” she nodded, “I hope Abel will forgive me, but it’s time I looked after myself”
“Then I think you should go away and think about it” Orrick reasoned “For I am not an easy man to live with and it’s a big decision”
“Thank you I will” she agreed.