Seduced by the Beastly Duke – Preview

A Historical Regency Romance Novel

About the book

You make me burn..

 

Having accepted that she will likely be a spinster forever, Amelia has focused solely on her sister’s upbringing. So, when their father announces one of them is to marry a man rumored to be a monster, so he can pay off his debt, she immediately volunteers. Even if it means sacrificing everything she thought her life would be..

 

Ever since a tragic fire in his home that took his parents’ lives , Arthur is left with physical and emotional scars. With the whole of society against him, he has turned into a ghost of a man, and his only concern is his business. Until he meets his bride of convenience..

 

Arthur and Amelia never thought there would be any emotions involved in their marriage of convenience. But with every meeting, inhibitions vanish and desire starts to take over. But is it enough to melt his frozen heart?

Chapter One

 

“I have some great news, girls!” Aaron Cooke, the Earl of Galpin, announced to his two daughters as the three of them were seated at the breakfast table.

Jane, his younger daughter, whose complexion and visage were as sweet and naïve as her nature, believed that the news her father had was truly wonderful. Amelia, her older sister, knew better. She immediately placed the crumpet she was holding back onto the plate, brushing her fingers gently against the napkin. Although, she could not brush off that clammy feeling from the palms of her hands.

“I have been discussing things with the Duke of Mosebridge, and I am extremely glad to tell you that he has agreed to purchase our winery,” the Earl declared importantly. Not once did he wince at the mention of that name, which horrified Amelia.

Everyone knew what horrible reputation followed the Duke of Mosebridge. Some even said that the fire that claimed the lives of both his parents might have been his own doing. Naturally, no one had dared make such a bold claim directly to his face, but it was one of the theories that had been circling the ton. In addition to that, his utterly disgraceful behavior after the fire had led his betrothed to leave him just days before they were to get married. Amelia could not understand how wicked a man had to be for a woman to leave him, a woman who loved him with all of her heart. Taking all of this into consideration, she could not have imagined a more odious man to have any dealings with, be it business transactions or anything of the like.

Still, she was well aware of the fact that the winery would be their ruin. Her father was monstrously unskilled with money and business affairs, and it was no wonder that the winery was not doing well. In fact, not doing well was an understatement. It was on the verge of ruin, and it threatened to take them all down. Selling it was the only reasonable solution to this predicament, even if it meant selling it to the most despised man of the ton.

“And that is not all,” the Earl suddenly interrupted his daughter’s tumultuous thoughts, bringing her back to the present moment.

This was where both of his daughters aimed their gazes at him more fervently, anticipating what he might say. Amelia was even more fearful now than a moment ago, and for the right reason, because her father’s next words felt like she was suddenly in the epicenter of a devastating earthquake.

“He has also graciously agreed to marry one of you two, without a dowry!” He almost shouted these last words out loud, accentuating them to the point of an outburst.

At first, Amelia thought she didn’t hear him well. She hoped she didn’t hear him well because if what he said was true then their lives were about to turn into a nightmare. There were so many things she wanted to scream back at him, but she couldn’t find her voice. It was lost somewhere in the despair of the words she just heard from the person who was supposed to keep them protected and safe, yet instead, he was throwing them right into the lion’s pit.

“Father, you cannot possibly agree with this,” Amelia finally spoke, feeling her throated getting parched with each passing moment.

Perhaps this was all just a dream, she thought to herself. No. Not a dream. A nightmare. A nightmare she would wake up from immediately, and all would be well. The winery would still be on the brink of ruin, but they would eventually come up with something. They always did – even if that meant they had to find a way to succeed in spite of the fact that their winery had always been a direct competitor of the Duke’s business.

“Whatever do you mean, darling?” the Earl wondered sweetly. He already sounded as if all of his problems and concerns had been taken care of.

“You know of the Duke’s reputation,” Amelia reminded him, making sure that her voice remained respectful.

“Yes,” he nodded as he pressed his thin lips together, only to continue speaking again. “I am well aware of the fact that the Duke is not the most popular person in the eyes of the ton.

“If that isn’t the understatement of the century, then I don’t know what is,” Amelia scoffed, unable to control herself this time.

He frowned at her. “I never thought you would be the one to judge someone you’ve never met, Amelia. I thought your dear mother and I taught you better than that.”

Amelia felt caught off guard. Every time he brought their mother into the conversation, it was to prove a point. Amelia hated that, and this time, he was right. Their mother, God rest her soul, was the sweetest, kindest woman there was. She taught them to always take everything with a grain of salt, and never to believe that something was black or white, simply because other people told them so.

However, it was impossible to think anything about the Duke apart from what they had heard about him. Rumors existed for a reason. Where there was smoke, there was bound to be some fire. Otherwise, the rumor would have died down, no?

Amelia tried to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, but it was hard to do this with the Duke when everywhere she turned, there was an onslaught of horrible rumors regarding that man.

“I am merely stating that there wouldn’t be rumors unless something instigated them,” Amelia pointed out.

“Or someone,” her father corrected her, dabbing the corner of his mouth with his napkin although he had not eaten anything in well over fifteen minutes. It was more to signal that the conversation was coming to an end, and nothing either of his two daughters said would make him change his mind once it was made up.

Amelia looked at her sister, but she knew that Jane would be of little help here. She always saw the best in other people, refusing to believe that someone was downright wicked or rude or guilty of any other ungentlemanly characteristic they exuded.

“I think, I don’t need to remind either of you,” the Earl continued, “that this is the only way in which we can surface from this situation without suffering utter financial ruin.”

Amelia was not privy to her father’s business accounts. He had people who handled those sorts of things, but she could tell that he wasn’t very good at his business at all. She could see that they had less and less money left without much influx of profit. The winery, which started off as such a lucrative business during the time her mother was still alive, now stood as a stark reminder of the fact that they were unable to handle loss, both emotional as well as financial.

As daughters, Amelia knew that their role in a family was to aid through marital means. That meant that, more often than not, their happiness would be sacrificed for the good of saving the family. It was an unspoken rule, which everyone was aware of. Up until now, she was hoping that she and Jane would avoid that fate. She still hoped that they would somehow rise above these financial troubles and emerge victorious. Now, those hopes were dashed against the rough shores of reality.

“I shall do it,” Amelia finally said, catching even herself off guard with this sudden statement. Jane’s troubled look did not escape her, but Amelia merely smiled reassuringly.

She would never allow her little sister to fall into the pit of this nightmare. She loved her far too much to allow such a dreadful thing to happen. Ever since they were left without their mother at such a young and tender age, Amelia vowed to herself that she would make sure that Jane never lacked for love and care. Amelia would teach her everything that a mother would teach her daughters. Amelia would assure Jane’s happiness, no matter what the cost might be to herself.

“Splendid,” the Earl said, smiling, obviously glad that the discussion was finished, and he got exactly what he wanted. “To be honest, Amelia, I don’t believe a single thing in those ghastly rumors. Besides, I have met the man on several occasions, and he has proven himself to be quite the gentleman. I have absolutely no concerns that your life with him will be comfortable.”

Comfortable. That word echoed inside Amelia’s head. It gnawed at the insides of her heart, like a little rat trying to find its way out. But it never would. It would remain trapped inside of her for the rest of her life because up until this point, Amelia still held out some hope that she might eventually, after making sure that Jane was well married off and happy, find her own happiness in life with someone. Now, she was sure no such thing would ever happen. She would forever be… comfortable with the Duke of Mosebridge.

The very thought of that man brought up all the rumors she had ever heard about him. Never in her wildest dreams did she think that she would be forced to meet him, to speak with him, and, worst of all, to become his wife. It was simply unthinkable, and yet, she was merely steps away from that horrible nightmare becoming her reality.

“Well, now that this is settled,” the Earl began getting up from the table, “I shall arrange for an official meeting. How about tomorrow?”

Amelia wanted to gasp. Tomorrow? It was far too early. She wasn’t ready to meet him. Truth be told, she wouldn’t have been ready to meet this man ever, but she knew that she could not prolong the inevitable.

“Tomorrow is fine, Father,” she acquiesced calmly.

“Splendid,” the Earl repeated, walking around the table to give each of his daughters a kiss on the forehead. To Amelia, it seemed as if that was the price of her hand in marriage – the winery and that kiss.

As soon as they were left alone, Jane jumped up and rushed to her, seizing Amelia’s hand.

“Why did you say it would be you, Amelia?” Jane asked with a trembling voice.

Amelia smiled. “Because I would never allow you to marry such a man.”

“But you will marry him instead,” Jane gasped at the horror.

“If that is what needs to be done, so be it,” Amelia replied lovingly, squeezing her sister’s hand back. “Now, come. Let us have our morning tea in the garden. I am certain that, once we process all this, it won’t look so bad.”

Jane smiled back, and together, they walked out of the dining room and towards the back garden. Amelia hated lying to Jane. She did it very rarely, but this was an occasion here she felt she had no other choice. No matter how much time she took to process things, she was certain that none of this would feel easier. In fact, she felt things would only get worse.

Chapter Two

 

Arthur knew that this visit would be unpleasant, but he could not predict that it would be unpleasant to such an extent. It seemed to him that Lady Amelia, the Earl’s daughter that he was to marry soon, in a matter of days actually, was only present and accounted for in body. Her mind seemed to be elsewhere as the four of them sat out in the garden of an estate that was in dire need of repair.

Truth be told, Arthur never considered himself much of a conversationalist – not that there were many people who had any desire to hear his opinions. He was well aware of the reputation that not only followed him but rather preceded him. That assured him of a very simple fact: finding a bride would not be an easy feat for him. In fact, it might not be a possible feat at all. With such a dreadful reputation, what parents in their right mind would grant him the hand of their daughter? Only parents who were in dire financial distress and who saw a way out of a bad situation.

He looked at Lady Amelia, who was seated opposite him. Next to her was her sister and finally to his left, the Earl sat overseeing the meeting. Because that was what it truly was, a business meeting. It felt cold and official, detached, and perfunctory. It had to be done today, just like the marriage had to be officialized in a matter of days.

“I have already obtained a special license allowing us to have the wedding as soon as next week,” he announced, focusing more on the Earl than on Lady Amelia because, after all, it was the Earl that he was striking this business deal with. Lady Amelia was merely part of the package.

“Next week?” he suddenly heard her say, and once again, his eyes found hers.

She was seated with her hands in her lap and her back arched against the chair. Her hair was done perfectly, but the gentle breeze pulled out a few strands of her chestnut-colored hair and was flickering them about her porcelain visage. He had to admit that Lady Amelia was a beauty. There was no denying that. Her sister, Lady Jane, seemed to possess more of that cherubic grace and innocence while Lady Amelia’s beauty was embellished with something far more mature and profound.

“Yes, next week,” he confirmed with a confident nod. “I hope that won’t pose a problem.

“I –” Lady Amelia started, but the Earl cut her off.

“It most certainly will not be a problem,” he assured Arthur with an authoritative voice. “Amelia considers herself truly fortunate and is most grateful as are the rest of us.”

Something told Arthur that Lady Amelia did not consider herself as fortunate as her father claimed her to be, but Arthur was in no mood to discuss desires with his future wife. He was certain that she had some expectations of him. That was to be anticipated, of course. But this was only their first meeting. He only had plans of exchanging some mere pleasantries then returning home assured that everything was going according to plan.

“Why don’t you two take a stroll through the garden?” the Earl suddenly suggested.

Arthur could immediately see the shock on Lady Amelia’s face. She wasn’t expecting to be pushed into something so intimate and, to be quite honest, neither was he. Boldly, he stepped up before she could come up with an excuse and offered her his arm.

“I would love to walk about this garden,” he said as cordially as he could, but he could not hide the air of disinterestedness.

He could not care less about this particular garden although it was in full bloom, adorned with all colors of the spectrum, and someone was obviously pouring their heart out into it. For a moment, he was reminded of his mother, who had a grand passion for her own garden, spending every minute of her time when she could on her knees with her hands in the dirt. She did not care one bit that it was considered unladylike. It brought her immense pleasure, and that was all that mattered.

In the time since his parents were so cruelly torn away from him, Arthur had realized many truths about people. One of them was that people did not have the courage to do what made them happy if it was in stark contrast to what the ton considered proper and characteristic of a lady or a gentleman. Worst yet, he had come to see the dark side of humanity. The side lacking in any understanding, compassion, or sympathy; the side where one man was truly a wolf to another for apparently no other reason than to be cruel.

Finally, Lady Amelia got up and rested her hand on his arm. He noticed the bearing of her body. She was tense. She wished to keep her distance, but she could not be further away from him than the length of her own arm allowed. Slowly, they started walking in the direction of the small path that led into the garden away from the Earl and Lady Jane.

Lady Amelia was silent. Arthur felt that it was up to him to start a conversation as he was the gentleman, but honestly, he enjoyed the silence far more than empty small talk. In this case, it would prove no purpose at all. They would not exchange any deeper information regarding each other. It was far too early for that. Their topics of conversation were limited to the flowers currently in bloom, the weather, and perhaps the last ball they might have both attended. He couldn’t imagine enjoying any of those topics.

“I know why you are buying the winery,” she suddenly said, sounding stiff but exceptionally dignified as she spoke. He felt almost like a jailer guiding a prisoner to his cell. Her comment was so sudden and so unexpected that he almost tripped against a lose tile, but he managed to regain his balance quickly and continue along the path undisturbed.

“And why, pray, is that?” he asked, truly curious.

He had done his research about the Earl of Galpin, of course. Along that path, he also learned a great deal about his daughters as well. They were left without a mother at a very tender age which was something that he had in common with them. Only, he was left without both his parents while they still had the Earl to provide for them.

Lady Jane was the younger one, the sweet one, the childlike one, the one that all the efforts for a good marriage were invested into. Lady Amelia was the one that suffered in this arrangement. As the result of their loss, she had taken on the role of the mother, investing all of her time into her sister instead of herself. That was why the ton considered her kind but unsophisticated and pretty but without that captivating beauty that all men were interested in. To many, she was merely a pretty face in the sea of other pretty faces, unremarkable in any manner.

That was, at least, what he had expected to find upon his arrival to Galpin Estate. But what awaited him was a stunning young woman, who was anything but ordinarily pretty. The fault was in the eyes of the beholders. Her quiet demeanor did not manage to hide the storm of emotion brewing inside of her. Now that she finally spoke, he welcomed the idea of hearing some of her thoughts, a realization that startled him. He was not usually inclined to hear anyone’s opinion. He hadn’t had the patience for that in a long time. He was simply returning the favor now. All those people were not there to hear him out when he needed them to, so now, he was equally glad to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to their opinions. But there was something about Lady Amelia that made him curious. After all, she was to become his wife. That had to count for something.

“You know that we would have gotten the winery back on its feet eventually, and then, we would have much better sales than you,” she pointed out. That could have been true, but many pieces of the puzzle needed to be aligned for that to truly happen.

Arthur believed that the days of the Galpin Winery were numbered. He had no fear of them as business competitors any longer. However, being the keen businessman that he was, he saw an opportunity for something else. The Earl of Galpin was notoriously bad with money – hence, the winery being on the brink of ruin. He needed financial aid. Arthur needed a wife. The conditions were perfect.

“That is not what your father thinks,” he noted calmly as the path made them turn to the left and make a circle around the flower beds that were brimming with insects.

The sound reminded him of childhood when he was seated next to his mother on the ground, and she tended to both him and the flowers, making both of them blossom. He tried to banish the thought from his mind as this was neither the time nor the place for a trip down memory lane. He needed to remain focused on the task at hand, and that was to secure Lady Amelia’s hand in marriage. The winery was irrelevant. However, he did not wish her to know that.

“My father is… worried about our future,” she finally said, but he had the feeling that this wasn’t exactly what she was trying to say first, but rather, she changed her mind along the way. “He wishes to see us both married well and fears that the winery is something that might hold everyone back from achieving that goal.”

That statement sounded too generic. He was certain that it wasn’t what she meant to say initially, but he was far too much of a gentleman to ask her that directly.

“I am here to assure you that you need not worry about your future with me,” he replied. “Your family’s financial woes shall be taken care of.”

Her lips parted, and curiously, he turned to her, waiting for her comment. Only, none was heard. She quickly clamped her lips shut once more, looking in front of her. She hastened her step, and within a minute, they were back where they started which seemed to end their conversation. He had found out nothing about his future wife, other than one important fact. Lady Amelia was not as meek as she let on. He was absolutely certain of that. Lady Jane was the weak and modest one as she was taught to behave. Those were considered lady-like traits. Her sister, on the other hand, seemed to have an untouched brain, the kind that was allowed to flourish unburdened by the demands of the ton and their desires to fit into a certain mold.

“Well, that was a quick walk,” the Earl noticed.

“It was quite enough,” Lady Amelia replied, releasing his hand immediately and finding her place next to her sister again. Arthur did the same.

He finished his tea, and after having thanked everyone for their hospitality, he bid them all farewell. It wasn’t as bad as he thought it would be although it wasn’t as good he hoped either. Then again, he could not possibly imagine an arranged marriage to be full of thrills and immediate devotion. He doubted there would be any of that even later on.

However, respect and loyalty he could provide, and he expected the same from Lady Amelia. Those would be some conditions that he was adamant on making clear as soon as they met the next time.

Chapter Three

Chapter Three

“Dear Amelia, you cannot possibly marry that man!” Jane exclaimed that same evening as the two ladies sat in Jane’s chamber.

Amelia was combing her sister’s long, silky hair, gently pulling the brush through the entire length of it from the top of Jane’s head all the way down her back. It had become a habit that both of them enjoyed immensely. When they were little girls, they both loved it when their mother combed their hair before bedtime. This was when they shared the impressions of the day, their most secretive hopes and dreams. Then, when their mother sadly departed, Amelia knew that they had to prolong this wonderful tradition, even if it meant that she would change her role in it.

Amelia smiled at her sister’s reflection in the vanity mirror. She could read her sister’s face perfectly. There was worry etched in those beautiful eyes and along the usually invisible lines on her forehead which were now prominent because of her brows furrowing. It was not the way Jane usually looked, and Amelia would have done anything in her power to disperse all those concerns.

“This is nothing you need to worry your little head about,” Amelia smiled as she was doing the final brush strokes then she placed the brush on the vanity table that once belonged to their mother.

“Of course, I worry,” Jane corrected her, turning around with a few loose strands of hair falling over her face. She looked so much like their mother, and with each passing year, Jane looked even more like her. Amelia, on the other hand, was like their father. She had his high forehead, his determination, and his sheer stubbornness. Sometimes, she wasn’t certain if those traits were a gift or a curse.

“I shall take care of all this,” Amelia spoke softly and confidently because she was telling her sister the truth. “I have a plan.”

“A plan?” Jane was curious.

“Well… sort of a plan,” Amelia admitted as she dropped her hands into her lap. “In arranged marriages, people expect to fall in love, don’t they?”

Amelia waited for her sister to reply, but all Jane could do was shrug. She had no idea what was expected of a lady in an arranged marriage. To be quite honest, neither did Amelia. All she was doing now was guessing from what she had heard and what she had read in romance novels although those could hardly be considered a good starting point.

“In any case, let’s assume that this is the rule,” Amelia continued with her theory.

“You expect to fall in love with that man!?” Jane gasped at the idea, and instantly, Amelia’s eyes widened in shock.

“Goodness me! I most certainly do not expect any such thing to happen!” Amelia was quite clear on that, even a little too loud, but fortunately, their chambers were situated in the west wing while their father remained in the south wing. That meant that they were separated by endless rows of walls and corridors, and even if Amelia were to shout as loudly as she could, it was doubtful that he would hear her.

Then suddenly, she considered what it would be like to actually fall in love. Not with the Duke, but with anyone, any man. Amelia had never felt the pang of love, that flutter of a butterfly’s wings deep inside her stomach as it struggled to get out. There were certain gentlemen she did find pleasing to the eye, but none of them aroused much interest. They all seemed devoid of much depth, focusing solely on the superficial.

In a way, Amelia had already accepted her fate of a spinster. The fact that she was now to become a married woman was unthinkable. It was still something she was struggling to accept as her reality, even as she spoke to Jane this evening.

Falling in love was a malady. It was something to be avoided at all costs… for her. In Jane’s case, it was a must. Jane had to marry the man she loved, the man who loved her back even more than she loved him. That was a promise that Amelia had made to herself. She would sacrifice her own happiness for her sister’s in a blink of an eye. If one of them had to remain a spinster for the rest of her life, that didn’t necessarily mean that the other sister would be doomed to the same fate. Now, it seemed that nothing was to happen as Amelia thought it would. She felt as if someone had pulled the rug right from underneath her feet, then pushed her into a bottomless pit. Now, she was falling and falling without the slightest idea of where she might land.

“All I am saying,” Amelia finally continued, once she managed to calm herself down, “is that I have no fear that I shall fall in love with the Duke, nor is he in danger of having that same thing happen to him. There shall never be any emotions between us, I am absolutely certain of that. That is why –”

“But… how can you be certain of that?” Jane interrupted her inquisitively, tilting her head as if in an effort to take a closer, more introspective look at her sister and find out a most profound truth about human relationships.

“Well…” For a moment, Amelia was caught off guard. Her sister’s question was deep. It required a deep answer as well. Only, Amelia did not have any. “The man seems to have a block of ice for a heart. I could never fall in love with someone who is so detached and distanced.”

“So, you didn’t really talk while you took that short walk together?” Jane continued.

“We did,” Amelia revealed, “but it didn’t expose much about him other than the fact which we already knew, and that is the real reason of his purchase of the winery.”

“He is afraid that we might bring it back to its old glory and drive him out of business?” Jane pointed out.

“Exactly,” Amelia nodded. “He thinks that we are too silly to see through his actions, but we know all. We see all. I want to make this absolutely clear to him when I go see him tomorrow.”

“You will go and see him tomorrow?” Jane gasped once more, her blue eyes wide with disbelief.

“Yes,” Amelia sounded more calm than she thought she would be. It pleased her. That meant that she had everything under control. “I shall need your help with that.”

“But… how?”

“We shall tell father that we are going for a stroll to Hyde Park,” Amelia explained, “while, in fact, we shall pay the Duke a visit. You shall remain in the carriage while I have a very quick word with him in private.”

“But Amelia, that is inappropriate!”

“I know,” Amelia nodded, “but it is the only way in which I can assure that he knows that I will not succumb to his orders and demands. If we are to become a man and wife, then he needs to know that there are certain rules which we shall both need to follow.”

“Rules like what?” Jane wondered.

“Well,” Amelia sighed. “First of all, we shall have separated chambers without any physical contact of… you know which kind.”

Immediately upon hearing that, her sister blushed fervently. Even Amelia caught herself feeling slightly flustered as it was not the usual topic of their conversation. Suddenly, she remembered how he held her hand. His proximity did nothing to her. He was a handsome man, she could not deny him that, but the air of utter impertinence that he oozed destroyed the little charm that he could have possessed otherwise. Indeed, she could not possibly imagine herself falling for this man ever, despite his good looks which were only slightly marred by his scars. There were reddish protrusions to the side of his neck which she imagined went down into the insides of his shirt, hidden from plain sight. His left hand also bore marks of scorched skin, now fully healed but never able to revert back to its pristine condition.

Amelia wondered how it was to live with such scars that were out there in the open for all the world to see. Fortunately, she did not know. She tried not to think about it. After all, it was not like she would ever be seeing him without his clothes on nor would he ever see her. There was not a single doubt in her mind about that. 

“Do you think he would agree to that?” Jane asked cautiously.

“I do not care one bit whether he will want to agree with it or not.” Amelia was adamant at arranging this situation to make it as painless for herself as possible. If that meant that she needed to show her teeth right from the onset, so be it. “If he refuses to comply with these few, minor conditions that I have, then I shall refuse his hand in marriage.”

“But… what about Father?” Jane kept asking one question after the other as Amelia revealed her plan which she was becoming less and less certain of. But it was the only direction in which she could keep moving. The alternative meant that she would remain in one place under the thumb of yet another man, just like she had been under the thumb of her father all her life.

“Father cannot force me to marry anyone,” Amelia stated.

Of course, that was only partly true. As the daughter of an earl, the firstborn at that, Amelia knew what her duties might be. By marrying into money to save her own family from ruin, she was executing the duty of a daughter. However, she could also refuse to comply. That, in itself, brought forth numerous complications and repercussions which Amelia dreaded to even think about. One of them might simply be that their father would force Jane to marry the Duke, and Jane, being the good, kind soul that she was, would comply. Her life would be ruined. Amelia could never allow that.

“Also, I am certain that the Duke will see reason,” Amelia finally concluded, more in an effort to convince herself than her sister.

“Oh, Amelia,” Jane suddenly wrapped her arms around her sister, laying her head on Amelia’s shoulder. Amelia in turn, embraced Jane’s delicate little body, and they remained like that for a small eternity, just embracing each other, allowing the love to flow from one of them to the other and back.

When they finally released each other, Amelia could see that Jane was crying. She wiped her sister’s cheek with her thumb.

“I told you, sweet Jane,” Amelia smiled although it was the most difficult smile she ever had to force out of herself. “There is nothing to worry about. The Duke seems like a reasonable man. Cold people usually are. Finding common ground, some rules which shall benefit us both, shall be easy. I am absolutely certain of it.”

“You are?” Jane’s voice trembled. She desperately wanted to be reassured.

“Of course,” Amelia nodded. There was not a single thread of doubt in her voice. “Now, go to bed. It is quite late. And tomorrow, we have a big mission ahead of us.”

“You don’t want me to accompany you to see the Duke?” Jane offered.

“I do not plan on remaining there for too long,” Amelia assured her. “Then, afterwards, we can go to Hyde Park, just so that our conscience is partially clear.” She smiled at her sister, watching Jane get into bed then proceeding to tuck her in.

“Good night, Janie,” Amelia kissed her sister’s forehead then headed towards the door.

“Amelia?” Jane’s voice rang in the silence of the darkened room.

“Yes?” Amelia turned around just as her hand rested on the doorknob.

“I love you,” Jane whispered as she always did when she was overwhelmed by emotion and unable to voice herself properly. Amelia knew that Jane was on the verge of tears again but was doing her best to keep them suppressed.

“I love you, too,” Amelia replied tenderly. “Now, sleep. Tomorrow is a new day, and it will bring wonderful, new opportunities for us both.”

With those words, she closed the door behind her and walked down the corridor towards her chamber. It was strange to think it would only be her chamber for only a few days longer. Then, she would call another place her home. The thought felt foreign. It felt frightening.

She hid herself underneath the blankets, but that did little to alleviate her fears, her worries. She closed her eyes. Sleep would not come.

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6 comments

  1. Should be interesting on how Amelia plans remaining detached from Arthur with no emotions. Same for him and not thinking there will be anything between them. Can’t wait to see how it works out.

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Your Privacy is 100% protected. I hate spam, so I never do it.

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Your Privacy is 100% protected. I hate spam, so I never do it.

Fill in the blanks to read the Extended Epilogue

Your Privacy is 100% protected. I hate spam, so I never do it.