The halls of the manor house echoed more than they usually did. Anne tried to hear the regular bustle of servants and the squeaking of the wheels on the trolleys. Once upon a time, they would have bothered the young girl, but in that moment, there was nothing that she longed for more. It was a familiarity that she would come to miss in the future.
One thing that she had noticed in the absence of those small sounds was the gathering around her parents’ bedroom. She had not been allowed anywhere near it that day, mostly because it was no place for a young girl. There was a buzz among the staff, all of them muttering amongst themselves about whether or not there was to be an heir who would inherit the dukedom. At that point, Anne was but five years old and already aware that she was not exactly what her parents needed; they were in dire need of a son. There was an overwhelming amount of pressure on the Duke and his wife to not only conceive a second time, but to conceive a boy rather than a second delicate little girl who would be another ‘blessing’. Anne had never outwardly been made to feel inferior, of course, but she could not help but feel like once her new sibling came, she would be overlooked, especially if this sibling turned out to be a brother.
“Are you quite all right, miss?” a soft voice came from behind her, ruffling her blonde hair gently.
“Yes, Mrs Tasman,” Anne replied diligently. Despite her young age, she was all too aware of the importance of manners. Mrs Tasman, however, knew better than to take her words at face value. She looked the little girl in her big, blue eyes and waited for her to tell her more. As always, it worked.
“I just don’t understand why Mama and Papa want another baby!” She whimpered. “I wish they weren’t having one.”
“You do not mean that, I’m quite sure,” the cook soothed, but Anne was certain.
“I do mean it. I do not want a brother. If I have a brother, nobody will notice me!” Anne exploded, louder than one could expect from such a small body.
Mrs Tasman opened her mouth to tell her not to say such things, but before she could, the most bone-chilling scream rattled through the house. Anne froze, knowing immediately that the voice was that of her mother. The once patient staff became frantic, and the warm feeling that had been spreading amongst them dissipated. Anne could hear her father angrily shouting at their doctor, who was trying to explain something that she simply did not understand.
Mrs Tasman ushered her away, taking her to the kitchen and presenting her with biscuits. Anne ate each one, swinging her legs under the table. Mrs Tasman was standing by the stove, wringing her hands and chewing her lip, unsure of what exactly to tell the young girl.
“You mustn’t worry too much, dear,” she decided to explain. “Your mother is simply in a lot of pain.”
“I know,” Anne replied matter-of-factly. “Mama told me that it will be difficult, but she’ll be all right.”
Mrs Tasman did not seem sure of that at all. In fact, she was certain of the opposite, but she mustered a smile and changed the topic of conversation to that of the young girl’s favourite colour, since it was an easy way to steer the conversation as far away from the events of that day as possible.
After lengthy consideration, Anne decided that she liked yellow best. She also decided that when her mother was feeling better, she would take her some yellow flowers, specifically some of the ones growing outside. Mrs Tasman told her that this was a wonderful idea, but in truth, she knew all too well that her mother would not recover.
She was correct. The duchess passed away soon after from complications of childbirth. The Duke was devastated by her death, but he was comforted by the knowledge that his legacy was secure; his wife had finally given him a son. He was so enamoured with the boy that his daughter never crossed his mind, leaving her to spend her time in the kitchen with the staff. The servants did not blame him, of course, as he was grieving, but one could not help but feel for the poor girl that had physically lost her mother and emotionally lost her father. Nobody said this much to her face, of course, but they were careful to be patient with the child. They believed that once the shine of having an heir subsided, the Duke would return to the wonderful father he had been before.
Then the baby died suddenly. Nobody truly understood what happened, as he had not appeared unwell in any way. The household was in shock, but no one was as destroyed as the Duke. He locked himself away for days, eating and sleeping in his study and not speaking with anyone. This reaction was to be expected; he had lost his wife and heir in a matter of weeks, but nobody wished for him to move on from his grief as much as Mrs Tasman so that his daughter might also begin to heal.
Anne blamed herself for her brother’s death, and upon hearing the news, she sobbed loudly into Mrs Tasman’s dress, leaving a large damp patch on her shoulder. Every night following the tragedy, she heard her words over and over. She hadn’t meant them, no matter how certain she was at the time. She had wished for him to disappear, but now that he had been taken from her, she was consumed by guilt. Mrs Tasman tried to explain to her that she had nothing to do with her brother’s death and that, sometimes, the worst can happen, but Anne did not wish to hear it. She did not attempt to speak to her father for a long time after; she was too afraid of what he would say to her if he knew what she did. Instead, she found herself frequenting the kitchens more and more often, finding safety in the warmth of the glowing stove.
Years passed, and whilst she never truly let go of what happened, she accepted it. As she grew up, Anne always heard stories of houses filled with laughter and mothers that made sadness disappear and fathers that protected their families no matter what. Mrs Tasman tried to read normal children’s stories to her, Anne curled up in her arms as she did so, and the little girl closed her eyes and imagined herself in all kinds of daring situations. Sometimes, she was a princess locked in a tower with a fierce dragon keeping her there until the handsome prince came to rescue her. Other times, she was being held captive by a wicked witch until, again, a handsome prince came and rescued her. She was concerned after a few dozen of them because she did not wish for someone to save her from monsters; she wanted to have her own adventures.
At that point, Mrs Tasman changed the types of stories she read. Anne found herself much more drawn to simple stories of families facing trials and staying together against all odds. This was much nicer for her to imagine. Mrs Tasman was often mistaken for her governess, as well as her nurse and any other personal servants a child would need, but in truth, she was none of those things. Anne simply decided that she liked her better than any other worker that her father could find, and so Mrs Tasman took over the job of several women, as well as her real job as a cook. Eventually, Anne began to call her by her first name, Mary, and Mrs Tasman never corrected her.
The Duke never returned to the way he was before tragedy marred his life. He left his study every so often, keeping up appearances in the town, but upon his return home, he would lock himself away once more. Anne tried to get his attention for a few years, but she gave up eventually and kept her distance, assuming he had somehow discovered what she had done and loathed her for it.
Anne may have grieved the loss of her mother and brother, but she never quite managed to recover from losing her father.
The staff more than made up for any love that Anne might have missed out on having during those early years. Even now, at the age of nineteen, Mrs Tasman had her ushered into the kitchen while she worked. By this point, Anne knew exactly why she was there. Her father must have been in a most dreadful mood, and whilst he would never do a thing to harm her, it was better for everyone if she stayed away from him. Anne hardly minded; the kitchen smelled wonderful around mealtimes, especially in colder months. The room was filled with a sweet and spicy aroma that lingered in the air like an embrace. Adding to that scent was the hot mug in her hands. She almost didn’t want to drink it since the warmth that it gave off was so pleasant, but eventually, it became too enticing, and she took a sip. Mrs Tasman always made the best hot chocolate. Even the tiniest amount took her back to a simpler time where her only real worry was when she got a nasty stain on her favourite gown.
“Take no notice of him,” the cook said, bringing Anne back to the kitchen. “A man came this morning. I don’t know what they talked about, and you didn’t hear this from me, but I’ll bet you it has something to do with him.”
“It most certainly was,” came a male voice as another cook bustled passed the pair with a box of crockery. “That and the fact that the Duke is in the midst of discovering who will inherit his title.”
Mrs Tasman swatted her fellow worker with a rag that she was carrying, causing the gentleman to chuckle heartily. In spite of her small and round stature, Mrs Tasman certainly packed a rather lofty punch. Anne would usually find such an exchange entertaining, but at that moment, all she could think about was her father. After all, had it not been for her, he would have his heir, and there would be no need for anyone to barge into her home and tell the head of the household who was going to take it away from him. There was a pit in her stomach that was growing and making her feel rather ill.
“You pay him no mind, dear. He is merely saying it in jest,” Mary said, pushing a second mug of hot chocolate toward her.
“Be that as it may,” Anne responded, exchanging her now empty mug for the full one, “I do not understand why these matters are being discussed whilst he is in perfect health. If he were dying, that would make sense, but he is not.”
“These things take time to be put in place when the passing of a title is not so straightforward,” Mary explained, tiptoeing around the subject so as not to upset her mistress. “It shan’t take too long, and once things are in order, I am sure that your father will find peace with the decision.”
Mrs Tasman sounded certain, but Anne questioned it. After all, her father had never been at peace with what would become of his lineage, and so having it confirmed would hardly help as far as she was concerned. Regardless, she accepted that the conversation was over at that point and allowed the buzz to return to the room. The word ‘arrival’ had been mumbled several times, but of course, Anne took that to mean the man that had visited them that day and tuned the rest of it out, for she did not wish to think on the matter any further than she had too.
Eventually, she tired of sitting and watching and began her usual routine of helping the staff in small ways until they let their guards down enough that she could help in larger ways without them protesting. She had become quite resourceful in the kitchen, always willing to lend a hand when needed, and although the servants felt ashamed that their mistress was helping them, they grew to enjoy her company. After all, Anne had grown into a beautiful and kind young woman, small and sweet with shiny, golden hair and the brightest blue eyes, but she was never once vain at all, and she never deliberately pulled the focus onto herself. Not only that, but when she helped the staff, she didn’t get in the way of what they were doing. So rather than allowing her to do as she pleased out of obligation, they were glad to have an extra pair of hands. The Duke was unaware that his daughter was helping to prepare his meals, and the very thought of it could well have caused him irritation, but he was fond of what he ate to the point where some staff felt sorry for Anne. Perhaps if her father knew how talented she was, he might be warmer towards her.
Perhaps not, however, since he had not smiled since the day his son died.
The staff continued to work and talk until after sunset, with Anne being the least tired of them all, as usual. Dinner had been served, and the pots and pans and dishes had all been cleared away, and so Anne stayed in the kitchen before Mary returned to the servants’ quarters to join them. Mary seemed to be more excitable than usual tonight, and Anne could not for the life of her figure out why. Aside from Anne, all the staff had been practically made to go to their rooms. In fact, Mary had gone so far as to hide the remaining dirty dishes so that they would believe their work was done. She now stood washing them while Anne watched.
“Are you quite sure that you do not need any help?” she asked.
“Quite,” Mary replied kindly but firmly. “I do not need to remind you who works for whom.”
“That has never mattered to me,” Anne protested.
“Yes, I am quite aware, but you are still supposed to leave the work to those who are paid to do it. I’m aware that the other members of staff enjoy your help, but I know that this is for me to do,” Mary said, putting her foot down whilst keeping her expression soft. “After all, I’m the reason that these are not clean in the first place.”
“Yes, I noticed that.” Anne grinned. “Why on Earth did you hide them like that? Were you trying to let everyone go to bed sooner?”
“Not at all. We actually finished in good time tonight,” Mary continued, turning back to her task. “No, I simply have someone to see tonight.”
Anne blinked. In all her life, Mary had not so much as celebrated a birthday and not included everybody. She racked her brain for a person that Mary could be meeting this late. Then it hit her. A man! How Mary had managed to meet someone, she wasn’t sure, but there was no other explanation, surely?
“What’s his name?” Anne asked.
“Yes, I assume that it is a man, at least,” Anne joked, earning a smile.
“You are as intuitive as always, dear.” Mary beamed excitedly. “Yes, it is indeed a man. His name is Paul—if that rings a bell for you.”
Paul. That name was so familiar to Anne, but she could not quite put her finger on why. Mary turned to look at her, immediately noting the puzzled expression. Anne tried to appear less confused upon realising that she was being watched, but she was too slow.
“I see,” she responded instead. “Might you be able to describe him for me?”
“You shall recognise him once you see him,” Mary explained. “Goodness, it has been so long since I saw him, so here’s hoping that I recognise him myself!”
Anne blinked. This man could not be new, in that case. Her look of pure bewilderment was caught by Mary, who smirked at her.
“You truly do not know him, do you?” Mary asked.
There was no time for her to answer. At that moment, the door flew open, and a man entered. Anne studied him, trying to keep her jaw from falling to the floor. He was tall and well built. She could not help but notice that with how tall he was, her line of vision led straight to his broad shoulders and muscular arms. He was clearly athletic. He was young, too, which confused her as she could not work out how he could have possibly met her middle-aged cook. The man took note of Anne staring at him, and the pair locked eyes. The smile that he gave her almost knocked her clean off her feet, and it would have had she not been centred by Mary running to the man, throwing her arms around him, and pulling him into a warm embrace.
“It is so good to see you, Mother,” Paul said softly into her hair.
Suddenly, Anne felt rather ill. It was strange how such a simple word could have an effect that was so profound on her. There was something in his tone that sent chills down her spine. At first, she had thought it to be nothing more than the fact that she hadn’t figured their relationship out for herself. Then, as she continued to look at them, their closeness made her realise why she felt so uneasy. Her mother had died when she was still at an age when she called her “Mama”. She had never heard the word “mother” before, at least not in such a real and intimate way. Watching them, she could feel her hair stand on end. She could remember her mother, of course, and how kind she was, but this served as a reminder that she never had the chance to really know who she was and that she never would.
“I shall leave you…both….” she mumbled, making her way towards the door. She was hoping that Paul would move, but he stayed firmly where he was.
“I do apologise, Lady Alberton,” Paul said calmly. “I did not mean to cause you any discomfort. Are you well?”
His words left Anne feeling rather taken aback. He knew who she was, which was not too surprising given her position in the household, but she did not expect him to recognise her as quickly as he did, especially considering that there was no reason why the daughter of a duke would be in the kitchen with a servant. Paul and Mrs Tasman shared a look of disbelief, and then Paul finally stepped to the side.
“It would appear that you truly do not recognise me,” Paul mumbled jovially, his smile not fading. “If that is the case, I will not keep you any longer.”
As Anne passed him, she froze. There was something about his tone and how casually he was acting that felt oddly familiar to her. Her arm brushed him as she was leaving, and there was a crackle between them. The sensation was not necessarily anything of incredible importance, but somehow there was a feeling of nostalgia, of safety. Now, when she looked up at him, she saw someone that she knew quite well. There was something about the way his brown hair fell gently over one eye that she had seen before, and the way his sea-green eyes burned into hers made her feel like she had spent a lifetime looking into them.
Mrs Tasman stepped away from them, taking herself to the basin to finish her cleaning. She did not wish to interrupt the pair, and she knew that Anne would remember him in her own time if her son could wait that long. She could tell by the awestruck gaze that Anne showed on her face that it was only a matter of time until it hit her. However, she did also want them to reconnect as quickly as possible, so she needed to help them along the way.
“You used to look at him exactly like that, dear,” Mrs Tasman explained softly. “You must have been fourteen…if I remember correctly. Paul, I believe you had just turned eighteen when you met, yes?”
“Indeed,” Paul agreed, his eyes not once leaving Anne’s.
She held his gaze, considering his smirk and smooth charm and trying to piece together exactly why she knew him. There was no reason why she should know the cook’s son, but she had met plenty of people at that age; it was when she began socialising in preparation for her debut into society.
Then, as he flashed a grin and let out a soft chuckle, she realised that she knew him all too well.
“I must retire to my bedchamber. It is rather all too late,” Anne murmured, her face flushing scarlet. “I bid you both goodnight.”
With that, she escaped into the hallway. She ran at first, only slowing to a walk once she felt that she was safely away from them.
Paul watched as Anne hurried away, slightly stunned by her sudden movement. Mary could not help but laugh at him, albeit gently.
“I do believe that is the first time a woman has run from you,” she said, catching his attention again as she put the last pot away.
“You would be correct in that belief,” Paul mumbled. “And I cannot for the life of me fathom why.”
“Did you not leave on good terms, dear?”
“Of course, we did, Mother,” Paul replied, shocked at the mere thought that he could have anything but amicable relations with a girl. “We were good friends.”
Friends. That, unbeknownst to Paul Tasman, was the problem.
Anne came to a halt in the hallway, around halfway to her room. She leaned against the cool stone wall and exhaled deeply as if she had been holding her breath the entire time. Noticing that her deep breathing was rather too loud, she focused on making it shallower and tried to focus on what had just happened to her instead. There was something about the way his laugh made her feel like a girl again that told her that she not only knew him, but she knew him well. She continued towards her room, and once she got into bed, she found that she was wide awake. After tossing and turning restlessly for a while, she finally fell asleep, visions of sunlight overwhelming her.
Yellow remained Anne’s favourite colour well into her teenage years. It was the colour of the sun, which brought warmth, summertime, and fun. It had been more than ten years since the death of her mother, and since that day, there was a grey tint to her home. Everything was washed with a darkness that didn’t go away no matter how kind the staff were to her. One week in the height of summer, however, there was talk of a garden party for Lady Alberton’s birthday. Anne knew that whenever her official title was used, something big was coming. She was told that she could have anything she wanted there, as this was to be her final party as a child. From that point onwards, she would be in training to become a lady. This party, therefore, doubled as a farewell to her childhood.
She did not mind this too much. After all, she was excited to become a lady and take her place in society. Not only that, but as the daughter of a duke, she would have her pick of any man. For once, she would be wanted by someone other than the staff. That did cause her concern since she needed to be wary of men wanting her simply for her sizeable dowry, but she knew that she was not stupid and could therefore find a man that truly did not concern himself with such petty matters as money. Besides, that was a trait that she found most unattractive, even in her youth.
The day of her party grew nearer, and she began to feel nervous. She had chosen so many activities, with the main part being a race in the garden maze. She had deliberately not been in it since its construction earlier that summer so that it was as fair as possible. Mrs Tasman told her that there was no need to postpone her enjoyment of the garden, but Anne remained firm with her choice.
When the day came, she wore her favourite cornflower blue dress, and Mrs Tasman tied a blue ribbon in her hair. There were several children there, but Anne didn’t know any of them. Her father had not been close with many people, and those that he did know well didn’t have children that were anywhere near her age. Most of the children that were invited were those of the staff or girls that were to enter society in the same Season as Anne. Anne would later meet these girls again at finishing school, so the party also proved useful in introducing her to her future friends.
In practice, the plan went ahead perfectly well. One young lady in particular, had formed a rather close attachment to Anne. Her name was Elisabeth, the daughter of the Viscount Barington, and her family was fabulously wealthy and highly respected in society. Of course, neither girl much cared for such matters. The real reason why they bonded so quickly was because Elisabeth was wearing yellow, although her favourite colour was blue, and so the pair exchanged remarks about exchanging dresses. They also came to find that they were rather a lot more mature than the other guests and were content with sitting at a table and talking like ‘real ladies’ did. That was until the race through the maze.
The only way to describe the maze could have been “grandiose”, especially to a girl as young as Anne. The vines wrapped around the hedges like tendrils and threatened to ensnare any person who found themselves too close to them, and the hedges themselves were so tall and thick that any foul play was an impossibility—not that Anne would ever dream of cheating, of course. There was a fizz of excitement bubbling in each of the children. There were whispers of a prize for the first person to complete the maze, but even without that benefit, they were each determined to win. Anne noticed this and shuddered; if this was how girls acted due to a garden maze, how would they act on the marriage mart? The adults were invited to join in the festivities by the birthday girl herself, but none of them allowed themselves to delight in such a juvenile activity. Instead, they watched from the sidelines, some more dismayed by this choice than others.
At the call to start, all the children raced inside and began to split off from each other, but Anne and Elisabeth could not help but stick together. They truly hadn’t meant to team up, but they continued to choose the same pathway intuitively. At each turn, they giggled to each other, but never once did either offer to take another route. Finally, at a fork in the road, they split apart. Anne seemed more hesitant to do so. After all, this was her first friend that she had ever made. Elisabeth flashed a devilish grin to her, cheering her new friend up in an instant.
“Good luck, Anne.” She smiled. “I’ll see you when you finish!”
With that, she disappeared. Anne found her comment sweet until she realised that Elisabeth was inferring that she would already be there when Anne finished. Her smile widened. Truly, she had made a most comical friend. She hesitated, wondering if she should continue to follow Elisabeth, but she suddenly felt a wave of confidence wash over her, telling her that she could do this.
There was a trick that Mrs Tasman had told her weeks in advance: always turn left. Until that point, she had merely followed Elisabeth’s intuition, pretending that they had the same idea, but now she decided to follow this advice. She had mostly taken lefts up until that point, and so she hoped that there wouldn’t be an issue with it.
Just as she began to wonder if she was simply walking around in circles, she heard a rustling. It was too loud to be a breeze, meaning there had to be someone there. Excitedly, she ran around to the other side. However, as she turned the corner, she heard a mumbled expletive, immediately followed by the same word repeated more loudly. It was not a voice that she recognised, and it was much too deep to belong to any of the children at her party. One part of her wanted to run in the opposite direction and tell the adults that there was a strange man in the maze, but another part of her wanted to investigate for herself. For all she knew, this could be where the prize was hidden, and she could have nearly won.
Alas, it was merely a man. This man was young, not altogether too much older than Anne herself, with neat brown hair, glassy green eyes, and a friendly smile. Had it been anyone else, Anne might have screamed at the sight of a stranger, but for an unfathomable reason, she simply could not bring herself to work up a good, solid shriek. If anything, the man was more startled by her presence than she was by his, for he had dropped what appeared to be his cigar, leaving some of the hedge blackened.
“Dreadfully sorry. I wasn’t aware that the game had started yet,” the man explained, his cool and calm expression taking over. “If I had known, I might have joined in. Do you suppose they accept late entries?”
“I don’t believe that my father would be so gracious to a stranger,” Anne replied bluntly. “That is what you are, if I am not mistaken.”
“I’ll have you know that I am practically family. Should your father be the Duke, and you the right honourable Lady Alberton, as you suggested, you should know that your father and my mother are very close indeed.” The man smiled without a trace of sarcasm in his tone.
Anne paused, feeling rather defeated. She had not seen this man all day, and whilst he seemed interesting enough, she rather wished that she had just followed Elisabeth.
“Your name, sir?” Anne asked, trying to change the subject. “If I am to believe that you are a friend of my father’s, I shall like to know your name. I am, of course, well aware of the company my father keeps.”
In truth, this was not remotely the case, but it was at least a lie that she could tell and be believed whilst doing so. She caught him faltering, unsure of exactly what to tell her, and she was certain that she had caught him. She turned to run away, but he grabbed her wrist.
“Wait!” he exclaimed, possibly louder than he should have.
He also took her wrist more sharply than he should have, as the force he used to spin her back towards him was enough to knock her off her feet. It would have been quite disastrous had he not caught her and placed her gently back on her feet, the pair blushing tremendously.
“As much as I would like to tell you my name,” he muttered, “I do not wish for your opinion of me to be affected by my title. What I can tell you, however, is that my first name is Paul.”
Paul. It was a nice name, albeit rather simple.
Neither of them knew exactly what to do now. A formal greeting would feel out of place, but other than that, there was not really too much to say. Anne, however, suddenly felt a desire to continue their conversation. She pushed her knowledge of etiquette to the side and reached out her hand.
“Well, Paul, it is lovely to meet you,” she said, quietly but clearly. “My name is Anne.”
There was a silence, but not one that felt uncomfortable. The sun was warm, casting a wash of yellow over the pair. Anne tried to think of something more to say, something that would make her seem more mature; this was an adult, after all, even if he was clearly young himself.
“You mustn’t feel like I would judge you in any way,” she continued suddenly. “I know how it feels to have people think that you are above them. I suppose that I am rather fortunate. The staff all treat me as an equal. I do not think that I could stand having them simper over me all the time, constantly at my beck and call. Do I sound strange?”
Paul blinked at her, and she was most certain that she did, indeed, sound completely bizarre. The aim of the ton was to be seen as above their station, not below it, and so to wish to be spoken to as nothing more than a servant was nothing short of odd. Just as she went to rephrase her words, however, Paul smiled warmly at her.
“I know exactly how you feel,” he replied. ”It is one thing to base a person’s identity on their background. That is instinctive. But to treat someone entirely differently based on a factor they cannot control…well, I find that rather ridiculous.”
Anne felt safe in that moment. Had she said something like that to another member of the ton, they could have considered her simple or even common, but he found her opinion to be intellectual. She was rather proud of herself to be seen as such.
“Was it your idea, this maze?” Paul asked her, bringing her attention back to him.
“It was, indeed, and I have not been inside of it all summer. Although I must say that I am starting to wish I had,” she confessed, looking around her as if she could magically locate the exit. “It is practically impossible.”
“I have to agree with you. I have been in here for hours,” Paul almost groaned. “My pathway always works. Perhaps we are simply almost finished?”
He must have heard the ‘turn to your left’ rule, too, Anne thought to herself. It is likely a common tactic.
Anne was about to suggest that they continue together. Her lips parted, and the words were in the back of her throat when a tremendous noise rattled against the hedge. She almost mistook it for thunder, but the sky was so blue that such a notion was impossible. There was not much time spent wondering, however, because as quickly as the sound came, another person arrived on the scene.
“My God,” he said quietly, in disbelief. “My daughter, alone with a man.”
“Father, it is not what you think!” Anne almost yelped, realising how bad the situation would look to an outsider. “This is Paul, and he—”
“I know more than enough about him, Anne. Of all the men you could have been seen with, could you at least have picked someone of a high rank?” he continued, his voice growing louder, “Had he been an earl or even a viscount, I could have had you promised to someone for taking liberties with you.”
Paul turned a startling shade of red.
“My lord, I can assure you that absolutely nothing of the sort….”
“I do not wish to hear from you!” the Duke thundered, causing Anne to jump backwards. “If you think for one second that I could stand to listen to a single word from someone of your sort, you are sorely mistaken.”
Having caused Paul to be silenced, the Duke turned his attention back to Anne.
“As for you, Anne, you know perfectly well that you are not a child anymore,” he said, more calmly than how he spoke to Paul but enraged, nonetheless. “I shall not have you cavorting with the help. Am I clear?”
“Yes, Father,” Anne replied automatically. She had not processed quite what she was agreeing with, but the second she had, it was far too late to take it back. Her father was dragging her away, and as she looked over her shoulder at someone, she could have possibly considered a friend. She saw a look of pain covering his face as his once pale eyes darkened.
She may not have done so deliberately, but she had just proven to him that she truly did know her place. Not only that, but she knew of his too, and she was not going to disobey societal expectations to be seen with him.
Anne awoke with a jolt. She had not expected such a memory to come to her in sleep, especially not one so painful to think about. It was not yet sunrise, but no matter how many times she tossed and turned, there was no hope of falling asleep once more. There was a nasty feeling in her throat, one that she rarely felt due to how hard she tried to treat those around her with respect.
It was guilt, and it gnawed at her ferociously.
“In Love with a Daring Commoner” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Being the cherished daughter of the strict Duke of Alberton, Anne Holden has been raised to follow the proper expectations of a lady. Therefore, daydreaming has become her personal shelter to escape this settled life- however, her arranged marriage with an older and cold-hearted Earl, will cast her dreams away. As if that wasn’t enough, when their cook’s charming son returns home, Anne will find herself caught between the duty to her family and the duty to her heart.
Will she stand up against her father and society to pursue her dreamlike romance?
Paul Tasman is a true adventurer and an ambitious, hardworking young man. After being a footman in Scotland for years, he returns to work for the Summer in the same household as his mother, before he enlists in the navy. Upon his arrival, he encounters Anne and past feelings start conquering his soul. Despite knowing she is betrothed to another man, he cannot help but wonder if he could ever be the one to earn her love…
Will Paul choose to follow his heart and save Anne from her dreadful future, while risking his own?
Anne and Paul’s reunion will immediately spark their worlds with affection and their tender romance will bloom like a flower in the most unexpected circumstances. Yet, when their pure feelings are revealed and Anne’s father refuses to allow their union, an unforeseen secret from the past will come to change everything they ever knew… Will Paul and Anne dare to go against society’s necessities and build a new life that could fit them both? Will a daring commoner and his fair lady overcome the obstacles and experience their own joyfull fairytale?
“In Love with a Daring Commoner” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.