Tuesday Tales word promt this week is 'Cheat'.
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“I say, that’s a bit of a cheat. Isn’t it?”
Sacha watched the dull red creep up the young man’s neck and into his face beneath his scrutiny. No explanations necessary, he thought, and wondered how the man had managed to gain a seat at his table; unless, he narrowed his eyes in further contemplation, the stranger had expected to sit next to Melanie, his sister-in-law. Instead of sitting next to a 'real-live-rags-to-riches-princess' he’d find himself seated next to Rosemary Hamilton. “What is it you say is a cheat? Forgive me, English is not my native language, perhaps you could explain it to me.”
“I was assured the Princess Melanie would be attending and now I learn she’s been replaced by a woman no one has ever heard of."
Before Sacha could reply the third gentleman at their table laughed. “Surely you’ve heard of 'Lady Highlander?'” He looked round at the other occupants of the table and offered a satisfied nod in Sacha’s direction. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Angus Dewar, laird of the Highlander Estate.”
Impressed, Sacha gave silent thanks to his security chief for providing the information less than half-an-hour ago and remained silent. A look in his direction confirmed that Dewar realised he'd heard of the honorary title given to Rosemary Hamilton by her late husband’s tenants. He also knew Dewar was Rosmary's brother-in-law.
He’d also learned she had an eight year old son, and was wondering why she’d given up the child’s entitlement to his inheritance.
Would the child consider she’d cheated him out of his right when he grew up?
More, he wondered why he was wondering about it in the first place.
Sure, he admitted she'd sucor-punched him when he first saw her, but that couldn't account for his sense of... betrayal? No, how could he feel betrayed when he hardly knew the woman? How could he feel his world shifting on its axis at the thought of her giving life to another man's child?
That was the biggest cheat of all.
No, he wouldn't go there. Not tonight, not on any night. The young man may whine about being cheated out of his sister-in-law's presence, but there were bigger cheats in life than that of a switch of celebraties at the first in a long line of social events marking his father's Jubilee celebrations in the up-coming months.
The rise and fall of surrounding chatter interspersed with the clink of glasses and the select orchestra playing in the background faded out while he studied his table companions. The young and disappointed man was shaking his head, eyes wide in anticipation. Was he a journalist who’d managed to circumvent security?
Next to him an overblown bottle-blonde grinned like a Cheshire cat at everyone before leaning forward just enough to allow every male a full and uninterrupted view of her assets. Her pillar-box red talons on one hand rested on her partner’s arm, while the other was wrapped round the stem of her wine glass.
The second speaker, Dewar, Sacha noted, was in his mid-forties, early fifties, his pepper-and-salt hair added to his distinctive air and when the man glanced at him, he returned the rueful smile.
“Lady Highlander.” The man said now, “is a courtesy title given to Hamilton’s widow by his people.”
The young man replied, but to Sacha, it was apparent the man saw nothing at all. Sacha didn’t know why Dewar was playing with the young man, and moved sideways to allow the waiter top up his wine glass.
“Lady Highlander is here at the express wish of the Princess.”
The young man’s eyes glittered with eager anticipation. “Then where is she?”
“She is saying goodnight to my nephew.”
“She has a child?” Miss Red-talons piped up, righteous indignation lacing her voice. “Why is she here instead a member of the royal family?"
Sacha's outrage at the woman's stupidity diminished when Dewar cocked an eyebrow in his direction, he gave an infinitesimal shake of his head and watched the humorous gleam in the Scotsman’s eyes.