I love Martin the snarky butler. Since this was the only scene not in Wilhelm or Sophia’s point-of-view, it was cut in the editing process, even though it’s kind of sweet.
Just after dawn, Martin noticed the doors to the music room ajar. He approached and saw a tray on the floor. His lordship must have come for a late-night drink again, which didn’t bode well for the day.
He should have just enough time to straighten the room before serving breakfast. He pushed the doors open and saw by the piano, pages of music strewn across the floor, a pair of men’s dress boots, and nearby a pair of a lady’s satin slippers. His eyes followed a haphazard trail on the floor; a discarded necktie, both masculine and feminine gloves, a jeweled necklace… and the rest didn’t bear scrutiny, but the silky, lacy fabric tossed carelessly on the floor told its own story.
Well, well. Behind the piano bench he saw them sleeping on the sofa; Lord Devon reclined and Anne-Sophronia Duncombe tucked against his side, her face burrowed into his neck and one hand spread low on his chest. Even in rest his arm cradled her shoulders protectively, keeping the unlaced sides of her gown together. His other hand splayed less innocently on her flank, and her knee rested over his lap.
Lord Devon appeared for all the world to have died in his sleep a happy man.
Fighting a smile, Martin moved silently to the windows and drew the thick velvet curtains, darkening the room against the morning light. Long years Martin had observed Lord Devon, first as a commander then as his employer, suffer alone.
As one of only three souls who knew why the free world owed him a debt of gratitude, Martin felt Lord Devon’s burdens as his own. An unsung hero in an unpopular war; for his sacrifice Lord Devon was rewarded with defamation. Filthy Russians, filthy Turks. Filthier, narrow-minded Brits.
At least Miss Duncombe truly seemed to care for Lord Devon, even if she was a flaming liar. Did she honestly think anyone who knew her mother would fail to recognize her? A volatile secret she kept.
If for a moment he believed she would play Lord Devon false, Martin would toss her out on her ear. For now she made his master happy, and for that Martin would defend her with his life.
Defend her, as well as keep her from prying eyes. He left the tray, glasses and bottles. Closing the door behind himself, he turned the key in the lock to keep the cleaning staff out. He went straightway to distract Aunt Louisa, imagining a reason to keep her out of the east wing all morning.