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Lady Althea Brookwood speculates about her Aunt Catherine’s past in WHAT A RAKE WANTS – The Spies of Mayfair. I wanted to give Lady Catherine Bellingham a chance to shine in this VERY SHORT STORY. I hope you enjoy an episode in Catherine’s life which takes place several years before Althea and Flynn’s story.
Lady Catherine Bellingham had never minded spending time alone. But this Christmas, with her niece, Althea, absent from London, the empty corridors of Catherine’s manor house in Hampstead echoed under her feet. For some reason, she had been restless since she’d returned from a sojourn on the Continent.
Catherine had long since come to terms with the passing of her beloved husband. Bellingham had been a quiet man, but tonight, his absence seemed to speak louder than his presence ever did. Although she had never been blessed with children, she had been fortunate enough to have a generous companion who gave her respect and affection.
She paused at a Vermeer oil painting hanging on the wall. Without giving it her full attention, Catherine knew the picture to be a pleasant, domestic Dutch scene depicting a contented woman going about her daily tasks. Marriage should bring contentment. Her thoughts turned to her niece, Althea, trapped in a bad marriage to Brookwood. Althea had looked so pale and wan of late that Catherine had grown alarmed about her.
Like her niece, Catherine had entered into an arranged marriage with an older man when she was barely out of the schoolroom. If she was honest, she had never experienced true passion with Bellingham, and now that she was in her forties, it was unlikely to happen.
Thoroughly sick of her own company, she fingered the silver-edged invitation that her dear friend Marina had sent her.
“Please come to my Christmas ball, Catherine. Tonight is for lovers of romance!”