Elizabeth Morrow leaned against the base of the chair, dangling the soft bird in front of her son, William.
The two-year-old reflected his father’s complexion with his dark and olive skin. And the blue of his eyes were closer to the light shade that Henry Morrow had had, as opposed to the deeper, darker shade of Elizabeth.
William grasped the bird and tugged on it, causing Elizabeth to let go and give him a sad expression.
“You took it from me,” she pouted in a teasing way.
William laughed in his high-pitched manner and babbled a few words that Elizabeth took to mean I want it.
“I think he is going to turn out just fine,” Abigail said, referencing their previous conversation.
“I know. But a child, especially a son, needs a father,” Elizabeth sighed.
“Remember when we were young and you would tell me that you hoped to fall in love one day? Like in those novels you enjoy reading?” Abigail asked.
“It is a foolish notion and don’t pretend otherwise. To think that I could ever have such an opportunity to fall in love is nonsense. I am a woman with a child and a fortune. Love is not an option when a woman has those two responsibilities,” Elizabeth reasoned.
She quickly worked to replace the serious expression on her face with a happier one, aware that William was eyeing her. The last thing she wanted was for him to see her in such a state of unhappiness.
“I am afraid that I have to disagree with you. I think you are exactly the sort of woman who can be afforded those things. Think about it. You can have just about any man you wish. Why settle for one you don’t love?” Abigail asked.
Elizabeth looked at her and smiled in a knowing way, as if Abigail just couldn’t understand the complexities of it all.
Having a child was difficult enough in finding a spouse. Most men did not wish to raise another man’s child, even if that man had been the wealthy and renowned Henry Morrow.
And being a wealthy widow? Every man wanted her fortune. How was she ever to find the one who loved her beyond that?
“I appreciate your thoughts, Abigail, I truly do. But I cannot think it is going to be as easy as that,” Elizabeth said, shaking her head.
“More’s the pity, then. I had hoped you might find a good bit of happiness,” Abigail said.
“I think it is not the time for happiness,” Elizabeth replied. “It is the time for ensuring that my son has all he needs.”
“The Earl of Pelham has been coming around, has he not?” Abigail asked.
“Twice in the last week. And I am certain that he is interested only in my fortune. While I care a great deal about finding a husband quickly, he must be a man who shows interest in William. The earl has not shown even the slightest hint of anything but mild disinterest,” she replied.
“But an earl?” Abigail said, raising an eyebrow as though it would be a fortuitous match.
“Perhaps I am too picky, but I would not marry for the mere sake of societal benefits again. My first union was arranged on the basis of Henry’s wealth. I do not need wealth, nor a title. I need a man who will be a father to William,” she said.
“And if you happen to love that man?” Abigail asked.
Elizabeth sighed. “Have we not already covered that?”
They grew quiet for a moment as Elizabeth was feeling rather dreary. She disliked being in this mood and far preferred to be light-hearted and laughing, but she was growing ever more concerned about William having been without a father for the past year.
“Has…has Mr. Morrow’s brother come by of late?” Abigail asked.
Elizabeth glanced at her slyly then.
“Yes, indeed. Elden comes by often in order to check on William. But I think that you are well aware of this and it is the reason for your call this morning,” Elizabeth laughed, grateful for the very thing she needed in order to distract herself.
“Fret not, he will be by at any moment,” Elizabeth said.
Indeed, it was not five minutes before they heard the sound of hooves from the horses carrying Elden Morrow. When he entered the parlour, he smiled at both women and then looked at William with the same fatherly appreciation he had been giving the child for the past year.
Elizabeth had been extremely grateful for Elden’s presence in William’s life. Although he did not fulfil the role of father in its entirety, he was at least a familiar face and someone who could care for her son now and then the way Henry had.
“Good afternoon Miss Bremner, Elizabeth. And of course, my dear William,” he said.
William looked up and mumbled something resembling Papa.
“How are you, Elden?” Elizabeth greeted, standing along with Abigail to give him a proper curtsey.
“Very well, thank you,” he replied.
“I am glad to hear it. Please, have a seat,” she said.
He did so and the tea was brought while they made simple discussion regarding things like the weather and the upcoming season in London.
“And do you intend to partake in the balls and gatherings?” Elden asked.
“Most certainly,” Elizabeth replied.
“I hope that you do not mind my asking,” Elden began. “But I am curious as to whether or not you intend to find a match for yourself in the midst of these events?”
Elizabeth took in a deep breath and let it out, closing her eyes for the briefest moment.
“I do. Although I must confess that I am not longing for such a thing, I feel that it is in William’s best interest that I find a man to act in the role of his father,” she said.
Elden nodded, although Elizabeth could see that he was displeased.
“I understand. However, if I may, I shall tell you that I do have concerns. My brother has been dead for scarcely a year and already you intend to move on?” he asked, his offense obvious.
“I mean no offense to your brother’s name or legacy. But, as you know, I am an unmarried woman with a child and a fortune,” Elizabeth said. She had been growing weary of saying that. It was as though these two things were the only aspects of her as a person.
“What of it?” Elden asked.
“To be frank with you, I am vulnerable. My position is such that I could be easily taken advantage of. Having a husband will curb such a thing,” she said.
“Have you not considered that the husband you choose would be the very one to take advantage?” Elden asked.
“I have. That is why I am trying to be thoughtful regarding whom I choose. In fact, Miss Bremner and I were only just speaking about it before you came. And while I do not expect to find a husband who is not interested in my wealth, I do intend to find one that shall also care for William,” she explained to him, looking to Abigail to confirm this.
Abigail nodded, enthusiastically, but Elizabeth could see that she was swooning underneath. Her affection for Elden was no secret and Elizabeth felt quite certain that even he was aware of it.
“So long as you are being intentional about it, I understand. I should hate to see you push yourself to move on from your mourning so swiftly and find yourself swept up in a marriage to someone who cares nothing for you at all,” he said, his concern touching but also disheartening.
“Thank you for your concern. I know it is difficult to move on and I do not take it lightly. But, as you well know, life is difficult for a young, unmarried lady such as myself and I cannot subject my son to that,” she justified.
Elden appeared to move on, but Elizabeth could sense that he was still uncomfortable with her decision.
He was a good, decent man. He had always treated her kindly, but she could not help finding him somewhat dull, much like his brother had been.
It was nothing so bad about either of them as people, it was merely the fact that they did not hold the excitement or strength and energy of personality that she enjoyed spending her time with. There was no real spirit underneath the demeanour of either man.
She could hardly begin to guess why Abigail was so enthralled by Elden. Abigail had a grand personality and was not the sort of woman Elizabeth would have expected to be interested in anyone less adventurous.
“Oh, well that is rather, sweet,” Elden said, taking a sip of his tea and appearing to appreciate the flavour.
“Yes, it is a trick that our housekeeper learned. Vanilla. She steeps it in the milk,” Elizabeth explained.
“I am rather fond of it. I shall have to bear it in mind. Of course, we cannot all afford such a luxury at all times,” he said.
Elizabeth knew that she was rather fortunate to be able to indulge in things like vanilla. She also understood that poor Elden had not been able to enjoy the luxury of wealth as it had all been passed along to his older brother and now to her.
She was as kind to Elden as she could be, making an effort to give to him when she was able. She determined then and there that she would have a bundle of vanilla sent to him at his home.
He did so much for her, and it was the least she could give him in return.
Elizabeth continued to entertain her guests, but all the while, her eyes travelled to William, hoping that he knew how loved he was, how important he was to her. It was almost a physical pain when she had to leave him in order to engage the attentions of anyone else.
She realised how this might harm the possibility of any future relationship and marriage.
Although Henry’s death had come as a surprise, he had been a good deal older than Elizabeth and she had often wondered how he would grow to play with his son and entertain William once he was freely running outside and wanting to indulge in sport.
Henry’s health had never been comparable even to other men his age, always with aches and pains that could not be explained by anything other than a lack of taking care of himself.
Being a widow remained a difficult challenge, even with the gentle awareness she had had prior to the marriage. And even with the hesitation that Elizabeth felt to marry again, she knew that it was the right decision.
She only hoped that William would understand when he was older that whatever father she chose for him was purely for his own sake. So long as it was clear to William that she was looking out for him.
Elizabeth listened to her friends talking and wished that she could take her son and disappear from the room. It would be nice to allow Abigail a chance to get to know Elden better and it would mean that she could continue playing with William, but she knew that it simply was not an option.
Elden continuously looked at Elizabeth as if he wanted to say something, but Abigail held the conversation and both of them listened and responded accordingly.
By the time Elden decided to leave again, she was relieved, although she could not quite place why. Perhaps it was his disapproval or lack of understanding, but Elizabeth treated him as well as she could when she said goodbye.
At the door, Elden leaned in once, with a sad expression, and said, “I only want what it best for you. If you believe this is it, then you must do it.”
Arthur Whitaker flipped the doily in his fingers and shook his head.
He missed home. He missed his own belongings and his bedroom and having a chest of drawers where he knew where things were.
But in these rented rooms, in some forsaken part of London, Arthur had only the things he had been able to fit in a suitcase. Everything else was a part of the property, right down to the useless doilies.
“Oh, Arthur, there you are. It’s nice enough for now, is it not?” his mother asked, coming out into the hall.
“I suppose it is,” he replied.
Arthur swallowed, seeing that his mother had not lost her sense of pride even in the midst of this situation. It was as though she imagined them to be on holiday as opposed to having been driven to near poverty, thanks to one bad investment on his father’s part.
The elder Mr. Whitaker left his room and joined his wife in the hallway as well.
“Ah, Arthur. What do you say? Fancy a bit of dinner?” he asked, much in the same tone as his wife.
Arthur could hardly believe how his mother and father were behaving, as though nothing were at all amiss.
“Have we any food?” he asked, completely uncertain as to the extent of their circumstances.
“Well, ah, we could go to the inn down the road, I suppose,” his father said.
Arthur saw the way his eyes faltered, fully aware that they could not afford to go to the inn just now. But his mother was not about to volunteer to do any cooking. To do so would be to confess that they could not afford a maid anymore.
“How are we to afford to eat dinner out and about each day?” Arthur asked.
To his surprise, his parents looked at one another and grinned, as if they had some plan or scheme all along that he had not been aware of.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Well, as it happens, we are currently in a bind. But things shall not remain so for long,” his father said.
“Truly? I did not know that there was any hope already to be found for us,” Arthur said, flicking a lock of sand-coloured hair from his forehead.
“Indeed! As it happens, a most wonderful opportunity has arisen,” Mr. Whitaker said.
“A job? Is it one that you may do or that I may do? Father, you know I am eager to work a better position than I have,” Arthur said, believing himself to be capable of more than the simple assistance he gave to his uncle’s business.
“It is nothing of the sort,” his father replied.
“Then what is this grand opportunity that has you appearing so optimistic?” he asked again.
“Have you heard of Mr. Morrow? He was quite a wealthy gentleman, an owner of land and business,” his father said.
“I cannot say that I have,” Arthur replied.
“As it happens, Mr. Morrow passed away just over a year ago. It was very sad. But all of his wealth went to his wife and young child. She is a beautiful young lady of just twenty-two years,” Mr. Whitaker continued.
Arthur was dubious, seeing how his mother and father tried to hide their anxiety underneath all of the optimism they showed.
“What of it, Father?” he asked.
“Well, I thought – we thought – that you are certainly of an age that you ought to be married,” his father said.
“Father…” Arthur said in a tone that almost sounded like a scold. It did not take much deduction to understand what his father was trying to say.
“What? Do you not think it is a decent idea?” he asked.
“I think it is perfectly dreadful to take advantage of a young lady in this way,” he replied, shaking his head.
His father looked at him in dismay.
“This is your duty to our family and something so fortuitous could hardly have been predicted,” he said.
“Is it truly fortuitous? The poor woman lost a husband,” he replied.
“Yes, and that is a very sad thing l, but it comes at an ideal time,” his father explained.
Arthur was annoyed, but there was so little that he could say. His father did not understand or care about poor Mrs. Morrow’s misfortune. Rather, he heard the news that she was seeking to remarry and had immediately thought Arthur ideal for the task.
Although his family’s circumstances were far from ideal, he could not bear the thought of having to marry for money as a result. It was far too crass. Then again, wasn’t it what everyone did? Why did he have such pride as to think he deserved a match made out of mutual interest?
Arthur took in a deep breath, aware that what his father had said would be the end of it. After all, he respected his parents enough to do this for them, even if it was painful for him.
“What if she does not like me?” Arthur asked, recognising that this was an absolute possibility.
But his father scoffed.
“Who else is she going to choose? The Earl of Pelham?” he laughed.
Everybody knew that the Earl of Pelham had been interested in marrying a widow for nothing but her fortune. He hardly made it a secret and Arthur thought it was appalling treatment. The man had even been overheard making a joke about giving the child a home of his own so that he would not be in the way.
Of course, that had all been before Arthur had known anything regarding who this woman was. A woman his parents believed he needed to make an impression upon.
It was not working to try and share reason with his father. Arthur realised that he would have to be as light-hearted and humorous as his father was if he was going to get his point across.
“Well, of course she would not choose the earl,” Arthur replied, as if amused. “But at least the man has a title. I’ve got none of that.”
“You have plenty else to commend you to her,” his father said.
“Ah, yes. The birthmark on my temple perhaps?” he asked, smiling in a self-deprecating manner and pointing at the tanned spot.
“That is hardly a flaw to be considered,” his mother said.
“Yes, well –”
“Enough!” his father shouted, suddenly and harshly.
Arthur felt his chest quake for a moment and his mother released a small yelp as she jumped back.
“What do you think I am saying? Do you believe me to be suggesting some small attempt that you may or may not follow through with? Am I not your father? Do I not have a say in when you marry and how you shall go about it?” he demanded.
Arthur was silent, having never seen this side of his father before.
“I am not going to hear your dissent, nor will I allow you to point out some small imperfection as though it amuses you to do so. I have made up my mind and this is the only way that our family is going to be free of the shame that currently hangs over us,” he said.
Arthur took in a deep breath, not prepared to say anything yet.
“You have brought enough shame upon our family by not having married yet. That is enough. It is time now that you do your duty and you might as well do it in such a way as benefits all of us. I am telling you, Arthur, with clear instruction, that you are to be married to Mrs. Morrow. You are to woo her as best you can, to make every effort,” he said.
All went silent for another moment.
“Do you understand?” his father asked.
Arthur didn’t know what to say. How could he concede to this? How could he accept that he was just to sit around and be told whom to marry and that he was meant to use this woman for nothing other than her wealth? He was no better than the Earl of Pelham if he did so.
And yet, his mother and father were in a desperate situation. And truly, it was through no fault of their own. His father could hardly have known that the investment would turn out this way.
“I asked you a question,” his father growled.
Arthur nodded, slowly and with grievous understanding.
“Yes, Father. I understand,” he said.
“Very well, then. So long as I have made myself clear. I shall not have any disobedience from you henceforth. No laughter on this matter. Nothing. You are to attend any ball that she attends, you are to find ways to get to know her, to make her appreciate you,” he continued.
Arthur stood and listened, his father’s words falling faint upon him with his new misery. The very last thing he wanted was to disappoint his father, but this was all just too much.
Nevertheless, Arthur agreed to do what he could. He was resigned to the fact that he had little other choice and that was enough to drive him back into his room rather than going to dinner with his parents.
“You do not wish to eat?” his mother asked, compassionately.
“I have no hunger but thank you. It is better that the two of you enjoy your evening,” he said. “Besides, it shall save a bit of money.”
“You needn’t think of it that way. The last thing we wish is for you to starve,” she said.
“I am not starving, Mother. I am simply not hungry,” Arthur restated, although his appetite was in such a state that he had no idea whether he was hungry or not.
Everything roiled within him. His mood, his body. Arthur couldn’t believe that it had come to this and he wished that it hadn’t, wished that he could be relaxed in his home, ready to spend time with Carlton and go for a ride.
But this was where he found himself and this was the path to the future that he would have to take. A path in which he had no choice of his own and would be matched based on societal benefits as opposed to notions of love.
It was such an elusive, strange and mysterious thing. Something he had never had, nor now would he ever.
Arthur listened as his mother and father departed, sitting in the chair in his room, and pulled out a pen and ink, as well as a slip of paper.
He wrote a letter to Carlton, informing him of their new lodgings and asking if he would be willing to come for a visit soon. Carlton, being well aware of the family’s current situation, was just the sort of friend that Arthur needed in that moment.
He sealed up the paper and stood from the chair, ready to give the letter to a maid.
And then he remembered that he no longer had a maid.
Arthur looked at the paper in his hand for a moment and then back at the door of his room. Perhaps he would have to go out that evening after all.
Arthur put on his shoes and went out into the London air in order to send the letter to the countryside.
The streets were dark, save for the lights of the inns and shops nearby. People milled about and it appeared as though this were a normal evening in London. As though none of them had just lost everything. As though none of them had a care in the world. As though none of them was being forced to woo a widow.
If London was the bright and magical place that Arthur had always believed it to be, he could not imagine why he was so dour about being there now.
Perhaps it was the fact of his father’s sudden temper, perhaps it was the family’s new situation.
Or perhaps it was the fact that he had to find a way to make Mrs. Morrow choose him.
Elizabeth smoothed the white gown and looked out at the sea of dancers and flirts at the ball. Abigail was beside her and would laugh every now and then, leaning over and whispering some such scandal that she was aware of.
It was a nice enough evening, but Elizabeth felt far too many eyes upon her. Indeed, word must have got out that she was ready to begin a courtship, should an appropriate one present itself.
As they stood, talking about some nonsense or another, a very fine gentleman made his way over and introduced himself.
“Good evening, Mrs. Morrow, Miss Bremner,” he said.
“Good evening,” Elizabeth replied.
“I wondered if I might ask Mrs. Morrow for a dance,” he offered.
“I should like to, but only if you consider telling me your name first,” Elizabeth said, smiling at him and attempting to entertain. Perhaps she had found her spirit again after all.
“Oh, dear me. How rude! I am Lord Harvey,” he said.
“Lord Harvey, of course. I have heard of your exploits in the Far East. Surely you have only just arrived home,” Elizabeth said.
He looked somewhat sheepish.
“Indeed, I have. I had not imagined that you might have heard of me,” he said.
“Well, Lord Harvey, now I know your name, I do believe that a dance shall be just what is in order,” Elizabeth said, appreciating the attention of a man who was well-known for his adventures and business.
He was also quite handsome, which certainly didn’t hurt.
He took her hand and they glided onto the dance floor as the music began. Elizabeth smiled and waited for Lord Harvey to begin the conversation.
“Well, you know that I appreciate a good adventure, but what does the beautiful Mrs. Morrow enjoy doing in her free time?” he asked.
“I dearly enjoy walking and reading. Perhaps not the sort of adventures that you indulge in, but they are an entertainment of my own making,” she said.
“There is no adventure that is so enjoyable as a good book, for through a book one can have any number of adventures. I think you cannot take that lightly,” he said.
“I suppose,” she replied.
Lord Harvey’s eyes were a surprise for Elizabeth, who had imagined the men at the ball would want her only for the fortune. She thought it best to discern whether or not that was his motive as well.
“And surely you have heard that I have enough wealth to afford a rather grand library,” she said.
“Of course, every man has heard that. But any man worth entertaining is one who has no need of your wealth,” he said.
That brought a sense of peace to Elizabeth’s mind and suddenly Lord Harvey was a very appealing prospect.
“That is quite true. And it is a nice way of being certain that my son’s birthright shall remain his,” she said.
Lord Harvey paused, mid-step, and his smile faltered.
“Son?” he asked.
“Yes, my son William,” she replied.
A look of mild disgust passed over his face.
“I was not aware that you had a child,” Lord Harvey said.
“Oh, I thought you certainly must know,” she said, confused by the change in his demeanour. Certainly, she had seen the disinterest of men who already knew about her son, but for a moment, she had believed that this was a man who knew about him and remained intrigued by her.
“I did not. You ought to have informed me right away,” he said, sounding almost angry.
Elizabeth was indignant. How dare this man treat her so rudely?
“Surely it was not necessary to inform you about a child with whom you shall never have contact,” Elizabeth said before storming off from the dance and allowing for the stares of a few dozen people who eyed her with surprise.
“Elizabeth!” Abigail said in a hushed call.
“Yes?” she replied.
“What on earth just happened? I cannot believe my eyes, you simply must tell me what possessed you,” Abigail said.
“He turned out to be a far greater disappointment than I could possibly have predicted,” she said.
“I do hope that you are aware that what you just did was rather shocking,” Abigail said.
“Of course I do. I have been through this all before, remember? I understand how my behaviour will be perceived, but that does not mean that I intend to be treated the way I just was,” she said.
“And from Lord Harvey of all people. I did not know you had never met him and I could hardly interject once you had accepted his offer to dance, but have you not heard that his business is collapsing in its entirety?” Abigail asked, continuing to follow Elizabeth as she made for another room.
“What do you mean?” Elizabeth asked. She was searching for an area that had a balcony so she might get some air, and her gait was rather quick, causing Abigail to go faster than her usual speed.
“He has lost the vast majority of his wealth,” Abigail replied.
Elizabeth scoffed. So that was why he wanted to dance? And that was the reason for his comments about his wealth. He realised that she knew nothing of the matter.
Just as Elizabeth was ready to say something in reply, she turned a corner down a hallway and bumped squarely into a gentleman with the largest, most soulful brown eyes she had ever seen.
“Oh dear,” she said. “Forgive me.”
He looked at her for a moment with what Elizabeth could only interpret as astonishment.
“It – it is I who must apologise,” he said.
“I was walking too quickly,” she said.
“And I did not see where I was going,” he replied.
Elizabeth suddenly remembered propriety and curtseyed. Abigail was suddenly gone, and Elizabeth realised that she had seen another friend with whom she was speaking. She turned back to the man before her and gave him her attention.
“Well, it appears that we were both mistaken, Mr…?”
“Whitaker,” he said. “And you are?”
“Mrs. Morrow,” she replied.
His eyes widened even further.
“Oh! Oh, you are Mrs. Morrow?” he asked.
“You have heard of me?” she questioned.
The man looked as if he had been caught out, and that perhaps he had made a mistake. But in an instant, his expression changed.
“I suppose that every man here has,” he said. “Everyone knows that you are beautiful and wealthy and have more than enough to offer. But I think that many men do not fully grasp and appreciate who you are beyond that.”
It sounded to Elizabeth like simply another version of the same attempts to woo her that every other man was using. Talking about her positive attributes and how they, of course, have nothing to do with a stranger’s sudden interest in her.
It was growing old.
Elizabeth was bored of the constant interactions that felt so dreadfully false. Although she had appreciated that the man was handsome, she was bored and weary of these conversations and determined, then, that he was just as fortune-hunting as the rest of them.
But, if she had learned nothing else, Elizabeth knew that her son was an easy way to separate the wheat from the chaff.
“Yes, that is true. But it has come to my attention that not all men are aware that I also have a son,” she said, giving a terse expression.
To her surprise, Mr. Whitaker’s face lit up.
“Oh, yes! I did hear that. But I know nothing about him. How old is he?” he asked.
Elizabeth was taken aback by the interest.
“He is two years of age. Quite intelligent, if I may say,” she replied.
“I am sure that he is. What is his name?” Mr. Whitaker continued.
Elizabeth wondered if this was a trap of some sort. No man had shown this level of concern regarding her son.
“His name is William,” she said, a bit leery of a man who actually cared. Elizabeth had got so used to disinterest in her son that it was surprising to find a man who felt any different.
“Lovely name. It is my grandfather’s name,” he said.
“And about half the men in England,” Elizabeth said with a laugh.
“True, I suppose,” he grinned.
“I imagine that it cannot be easy to raise a child without his father,” Mr. Whitaker said, sounding sincere and empathetic.
“Indeed, it is rather a challenge,” she replied.
“What does he enjoy most? I mean, I understand that he is young, but what have you seen that he is entertained by?” Mr. Whitaker asked.
“He dearly loves when I read to him and often grabs at the books and will babble as if he were the one reading. And we go on walks together a great deal. In truth, I think that, while he has my late husband’s face, he has my personality,” she said.
“That must be rather enjoyable for you,” he said.
“Only when he is not displaying my stubbornness,” she laughed.
Elizabeth was surprised that she was enjoying this conversation and reminded herself to be wary. She did not know this man and she had been fooled by plenty of others who had at first appeared to care about more than her wealth.
Although Mr. Whitaker was one of the first to ask about her son, Elizabeth had learned over the past year that there were a great number of strategies that men might use in order to garner her interest. They were crafty at times, cruel at others.
But she could not allow herself to be swayed by any.
“Do you think he misses his father?” Mr. Whitaker asked, once more surprising her.
“He was only a year old when his father died. I think he does not recall who his father was, but he does understand the concept of having one and that, I believe, he does miss,” she explained.
Mr. Whitaker nodded, thoughtfully.
“Forgive me for asking such a forthright question, but do you miss your late husband?” he asked.
She hesitated for a moment. How was she to explain something like this?
“I miss having a companion to raise my son with,” she said.
“That is certainly reasonable enough to miss,” he said.
Elizabeth did not wish to elaborate, for fear that it would sound as though she cared nothing for her late husband.
While he had been a kind enough man, he had not the same wandering and excitement that she enjoyed. They had very little in common and at times, she wished that she had been married to someone who was more interested in living life fully.
Of course, she had frequently felt ashamed of that. Elizabeth understood the weight of her marriage commitment and had never wanted to be anything but respectful and content. Mr. Morrow had been good enough to her and that was more than many women were afforded.
“Well, I appreciate your understanding,” she said to Mr. Whitaker. “I ought to go and find my friend.”
“Yes, of course. Perhaps later in the evening we might dance,” he said.
Elizabeth nodded and gave a small smile, although she was still trying to remain guarded until she knew more about this man.
“Certainly, perhaps later,” she replied, taking her leave.
Mr. Whitaker had certainly been a breath of fresh air for her, but Elizabeth had seen that hesitation when she first introduced herself, as though he was trying to consider the best impression he could make.
Was he truly the genial man that he appeared to be? Or was Mr. Whitaker showing a side of himself that was less than his true self?
“The Gentleman Who Stole Her Heart” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
One year after Elizabeth Morrow has been widowed, she decides that it’s time to turn a new page in her life. She needs a husband and a good father for her son, who can preserve the wealth she has inherited. Plenty of ambitious men seek to marry her only for her fortune, but Elizabeth has to make the right choice and find a tender person who will take care of her small family. Everything changes the night she is intrigued by a charming man, who despite the absence of title or fortune, helps her make the biggest decision of her life. Will her decision to marry Arthur be the right one, or will she fall prey to another fortune hunter?
Arthur Whitaker is trying to care for his parents, who have just been left penniless. Feeling the shame of his father dragging him down, he will follow his will and look for a wife to marry. The idea of marrying Elizabeth Morrow, just for the sake of her wealth, feels terrible, but it might be his only choice. Before he knows it, he finds himself thrust into a marriage with a woman he hardly knows. The moment Arthur’s feelings for his wife grow warmer, and he decides to confess his love, a mysterious illness hits him, and puts his life in grave danger. Will Arthur be able to escape death and win Elizabeth’s heart?
When Elizabeth and Arthur start falling in love with each other, they will think for a moment that happy endings might exist. To their ignorance, though, someone does not want this love to flourish and is determined to take Arthur out of the picture. The two of them must find a way to ensure that Arthur stays alive and Elizabeth will not be left alone and fragile for a second time. In the end, will they break all the barriers that wish to keep them apart, or will internal battles and outside forces overpower them?
“The Gentleman Who Stole Her Heart” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.