Part 41 of Queen of the Garden of Girls, inspired by Beauty and the Beast

Queen of the Garden of Girls, Part 41

Chapter Thirteen, continued

Rose was not the most predictable person, but Robert knew her better than anyone else. It happened when you were cooped up with the same person for years on end. There were only a handful of people on staff, and Nigel. Well, he was technically a member of the staff, but Robert had grown up with him so he was really Robert’s best friend who happened to be paid by Rose to keep her son looking presentable.

As he expected, Rose was in her favorite room, a little unassuming study in a corner of the Hall. It was sparsely furnished with a small writing desk, an uncomfortable looking chair, a tiny round table beside the only window, which was framed by pretty pale rose colored curtains, and a cream armchair right beside the table. The walls were a stark white, but a pale pink trim along the top of the walls added a bit of color, which helped since the carpet was also a stark white.

“Mother,” Robert began as he barged into the room.

Rose, neatly dressed in an olive green skirt suit, looked up from where she was studying a handful of sheets. She didn’t seem surprised to see him, but neither did she turn to fully face him, instead expecting him to come around so he could better capture her attention.

“Ah, Robert,” she said as she set the papers down. “I take it you found Elaina.”

“Mother, we need to talk.”

“Yes, we do,” Rose agreed.

On one hand, he was grateful his mother agreed, because she hardly ever did and almost never wanted to have a talk with him. On the other hand, this was not a conversation that was going to be remotely good or even expected to go well.

Robert paced into the room, his eyes steely as he approached his mother. She watched him with a calm gaze, her hands resting peacefully on her lap.

“You had no right to say any of what you did to Elaina.”

Rose cocked an eyebrow, amusement flitting across her face. “Don’t be silly, Robert. Of course I did.” She shrugged. “After all, you are your father’s heir. You wife will be expected to behave a certain way.” Her eyes suddenly hardened. “It is a role I know well. Your wife will have to be less Elaina and more me.”

“That’s ridiculous, Mother. Times are different. Besides, I am Dad’s heir. I will take over the family empire and I will institute my own ways of doing things.”

Rose shot to her feet, anger burning in her eyes. “You have no idea what you’re talking about, Robert. You don’t know the ins and outs as I do. You don’t know what will be expected of you, what you can and cannot do.”

Robert held his ground, his eyes as cold as hers. Like mother, like son. “Before Dad died, he told me everything was going to be mine one day. It would be mine to do with as I saw fit. I am Dad’s heir, not you. One day you will have to hand over the reins. One day you will have to tell me everything. Until then, you will leave Elaina alone. You will let her be her. I want no interference from you when it comes to my relationship with her!”

Rose blinked at him. Unexpectedly, she seemed to pull away, to back off. It knocked Robert off balance, and he struggled to maintain the control, the power, he seemed to have grasped hold of.

“If Elaina would rather read than listen to me prattle on about useless things,” Robert said, his voice low, “then that is what she will do. I want her to be happy, Mother. I’m ready to settle down. I’m ready to take over for Dad. I’m hoping Elaina will be my bride. She’s lovely and kind, bright and capable. This isn’t just about her making me happy. It’s about me making her happy, too.

“If you run her off, I will pick a woman at random and marry her.”

Robert stayed just long enough to let his mother see the cold fury in his eyes. He wasn’t sure, but it sounded like the door he slammed behind him reverberated throughout the Hall. It was oddly satisfying.

Catch up on the story here.

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