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The Tycoon's Misunderstood Bride
Author: Elizabeth Lennox

Elizabeth Lennox - The Tycoon's Misunderstood Bride

The Tycoon's Misunderstood Bride
Elizabeth Lennox



Chapter 1

Emma watched as the coffin was lowered into the ground, the feeling of freedom seeping into her bones with every turn of the crank. And she felt guilty. But she couldn’t feel anything else for the man who had died. He’d killed any soft feelings she might have had for him over the last twenty five years.

The air was cold and the freezing mist that drizzled on the funeral attendees only made the whole burial ritual more uncomfortable. There weren’t very many, Emma noted. Only a handful in fact. As she stole glances at the grave side mourners, she counted only about fifteen people. Almost all of them were employees of her father, the man who was now being lowered into the frozen, unforgiving ground. Appropriate, she thought since her father had been hard, cold and completely unforgiving of any transgression, no matter how small.

Emma knew that she should be feeling sorrow and grief for the man who had raised her but those emotions just wouldn’t come. Hatred, anger, desperation and humiliation were the only feelings her father had engendered within her while he was alive. And now that he had passed away, the main emotion she was feeling was relief. And freedom. A small portion of her heart was even having that painful emotion; hope. It was small, tiny. But as she passed by the deep, heartless grave and tossed dirt onto the coffin, and as each person passed by and did the same, that small light of hope grew.

Was it possible that the life she’d lived with her father was finally over? Could she genuinely be free of his ridicule and harsh words?

Emma breathed in a lung full of the cold, wintery air, letting her body absorb the fact that her father was finally dead.

The possibilities for her future loomed up in her mind, crowding her imagination and jumbling that ray of hope into a larger light that was starting to fill her up. She tried to tamp it down, knowing that each time she’d started to feel hope in the past, it had been mercilessly killed by some sort of diabolical scheme of her father’s.

It didn’t matter that he was dead. The fear that somehow, some way, he would figure out how to destroy that tiny bit of hope was there in the back of her mind, pressuring her to release the kernel and give in to the depression and frustration that had been her life prior to his demise. The words he’d taunted her with over and over while he’d been alive came back to haunt her and if it weren’t for her early childhood, she might start to believe them. She had to hang on though! She had to survive and thrive, just to spite that mean, vindictive man!

Her father had tormented her from the moment her mother had left them twenty years ago, leaving a grief-stricken Emma to deal with the harsh father that had driven her mother away with his cruel tirades and accusations. Emma remembered the screaming and the allegations but as a small child, she hadn’t understood them. She’d only understood the fear that had her hiding under her blankets at night, covering her ears as the fights raged on after she’d been put to bed.

As an adult, she understood that her father had been insanely jealous of her beautiful mother, the red haired and intensely gorgeous Elizabeth, and his constant accusations of unfaithfulness had driven her away. But why had her mother left Emma? Of all the things that had hurt over the years, Emma knew that her mother’s abandonment had been the most painful.

Her memories of her mother were bitter-sweet. She had soft hands, a ready laugh, twinkling eyes and continually smelled of flowers. In Emma’s mind, her mother had always been incredibly gorgeous, with lots of hugs and kisses at the ready for any hurt feelings or bruised knees. Emma had been carefree during those days, knowing that her mother would always be there for her.

Not only did the five year old Emma lose her mother on that horrible day, but she’d also gained the continuous censure of her father. Once her mother had fled, Edward Mason the Third, Earl of Denton, had turned his anger and humiliating accusations onto his daughter who had turned out to be the spitting image of her mother, according to Edward Mason.

Oh, Emma knew that she wasn’t the raving beauty her mother had been although she only had one, stolen picture to remember her by. After Emma’s mother had left, Edward destroyed all the other pictures of her that had been in the house, including a portrait that had been specially commissioned after their wedding by a world famous painter.

Besides demoralizing and humiliating Emma on a continuous basis, Edward Mason had been a bitter, evil man who had made millions of pounds by cheating and stealing in his business dealings. Emma had overheard him on numerous occasions laughing in his study with one person or another about how he had cheated someone or lied to another in order to scrape another million pounds together. The first time she’d overhead his laughter she’d been horrified that he was so amoral. She’d been hiding from him that morning to avoid his wrath, which could be invoked for anything including a wisp of hair being out of place or her eyes looking happy.

When she’d started to understand how unethical he was with his business dealings, she’d shunned away from that information. Unfortunately, living in the same house with the man and hearing him brag about his felonious activities, it was hard to avoid seeing his truly black soul. It always amazed her that he’d never been caught. He’d been so blatant about his business dealings, she would have thought that eventually someone would have figured out what an awful person he’d been and not done business with him. She also didn’t understand why the authorities had turned a blind eye to all of his tricks.

But in all the times she’d hidden away in a closet as a child or teenager, she never heard of anyone who had bested her father. He’d taken delight in bragging about his deeds.

These thoughts and many others floated through her mind as the funeral progressed. She didn’t hear the words, didn’t mourn the passing of the man so much as the passing of her life under his dictatorial and cruel parentage. So when the final words broke through her contemplation, she was surprised that the ceremony was finally over.

The minister came over and took Emma’s hands, offering his condolences. Then each of the other guests who had attended the funeral, one by one, they came over and did the same before moving off to their vehicles and driving away.

Emma accepted their words and hoped that her face was appropriately somber. But that strange feeling was growing inside of her. Hope. Was it possible? Could she actually have a life? Was it possible that she could move on to something new? Something fresh? Something untainted by her father’s despicable mind? Could she actually be a reflection of her mother instead of carrying on her father’s legacy? She’d had her mother for only five years and her father for twenty, minus the periods when she’d been away at boarding school. She’d just have to recall her mother’s goodness and kindness, countering all of her father’s heartlessness.

One after another, the people stood in front of her, offering words of sympathy that Emma neither needed nor wanted but she nodded and smiled, eager to be off and consider the possibilities of what she could now do with her life.

“Ms. Mason,” a strong, tanned hand reached down and gently clasped her cold white one. The touch sent an electric shock through her fingers and Emma was so startled, she actually looked up, directly into the handsome man’s eyes. He was tall! Definitely over six feet. His face was tanned with lines in the corners of his eyes as if he laughed a lot. But his dark, black eyes weren’t smiling now. They were looking at her as if he were trying to see into her soul. Emma’s mouth opened and she almost gasped, a tingle of fear shooting through her and she was afraid he might be able to read her small light of happiness.

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