“Madam,” Jenks started, “My client has a business deal that he would like to propose for your consideration.”
A business deal? What sort of business could a rich Duke want with an almost dispossessed noblewoman like me?
Bella wondered but remained quiet allowing Mr. Jenks the chance to continue.
“You probably already heard of the death of His Grace’s father. What I’m sure you’re unaware of is that the late Duke set a few conditions on his Will that his son has to meet before he can take possession of his inheritance.”
“I still don’t understand how this is related to me,” Bella interjected puzzled by the direction in which the conversation was going.
“You will, My Lady,” Mr. Jenks answered affably. “As I was saying, His Grace has to meet certain conditions to gain control over the assets his father inherited to him. The main condition his father set was that he should take a wife, but not just any ordinary woman, but a wife from a good family, and with a title.”
Bella grimaced at hearing these words for she could already see where the proposition was leading.
“Thanks to the many connections His Grace possesses, he has been made privy of your current situation, Madam,” Mr. Jenks continued, “His wish is to strike up a deal that can benefit the both of you.”
“What would this deal entail?” Bella asked aware that she was out of options and she should take any possible solution into account.
Mr. Jenks smiled, his confidence bolstered by the fact that Lady Swan was still listening to his proposition. He thought that she would dismiss him as soon as he made reference to her precarious situation.
“His Grace acknowledges that it would be for their mutual benefit to arrange a marriage contract between you and him. He would comply with his father conditions, and you would get all the funds you needed to provide for your mother, and salvage the assets you lost to your father’s creditors.”
Bella nodded, letting Mr. Jenks know that she was listening intently, and considering.
Mr. Jenks gulped. This was the trickiest condition of the deal. “The second condition the Duke set was that His Grace’s new wife should provide him with an heir within three years of his death.