Melody leaned back on the settee and yawned, stretching her arms up over her head. Alana laughed and then caught the yawn as well.
“Goodness, why are we so tired?” Alana asked.
Melody glanced out the window at the dreary, cold drizzle.
“I believe that must be why. I never have energy on days like this,” she said.
Alana shrugged and looked at her book again and Melody picked hers up as well. This was not the afternoon she had planned.
Melody had been looking forward to an exciting afternoon with her friend, going into town and picking out bobbins and ribbons. Instead, they had rushed back to the estate after going for a ride, quickly trying to escape from the drops of rain that threatened to erupt into a storm.
“Shall I call for more tea?” Melody offered.
“Please,” Alana said.
They each put down their books and Melody had the maid bring a fresh pot of tea for them.
“Well, if we cannot go to the shops and prepare for the ball, we must at least talk about the ball,” Melody reasoned, shifting herself to face Alana.
“In that case, I want to know all about your hopes. Who do you plan to tempt? Surely you have someone in mind?” Alana questioned eagerly.
Melody stiffened and shrugged.
“No one special. I am just hoping for a decent dance,” she said.
Alana looked disappointed.
“Are you quite certain? What about Lord Drake or even Mr. Gilroy?” she asked.
“No, I have no interest in either of those men. Anyway, it hardly matters. Tell me about Mr. Woodcroft. Have there been any progressions?” Melody asked, desperate to turn the conversation away from herself.
“Not as of yet. I am certainly hoping that we will have a dance at the ball,” Alana said.
“I’ve no doubt that it will come with time,” Melody replied.
“I do hope so. He is just so…so handsome and kind. He is very loyal as well. And, I know that you do not get along well with…with Lord Jacobs. But Mr. Woodcroft is so loyal to him.”
Melody pursed her lips, not caring to respond to that. If anything, it was further reason to dislike Benjamin Woodcroft.
She could never forgive Lord Jacobs for what he had done and she did not intend to any time soon. Not after he had toyed with her heart so callously, tearing Melody to pieces as he pretended to care for her…pretended that he wanted to marry her.
First, he courted her in the most charming, decadent of ways. He consistently appeared to think of her and to express his care for her. He spoke to her with admiration and commitment in his voice.
Their courtship had begun mere months before, but only a few weeks prior, everything had suddenly shifted between them. He had her a letter saying he would not continue the courtship.
And that was all.
Melody longed for an explanation. There had to be a reason for his actions, but she had not seen or spoken to the Baron since he had behaved so appallingly. There had been no attempt to communicate with Melody or to explain his behavior.
Instead, Lord Jacobs had simply cast Melody aside and moved on. Of course, there had to be a reason and Melody felt quite sure that it was another woman. Surely, Lord Jacobs had decided that someone else was worth his time and efforts when she was not.
It was painful, but Melody tried to push it aside. After all, she needed to move on… to think about her own needs and desires.
“I am sorry. I know that you do not wish for me to speak about Lord Jacobs. But, Melody, you must understand that I am on your side. Even if I like his friend, it does not mean I am defending the way that he treated you. You know that, right?” Alana asked.
“Of course I do. I know that you simply care for Mr. Woodcroft, but you need to be all right with the fact that I cannot possibly condone his friendship with Lord Jacobs. I understand that there are good things about him, but it wounds me to even begin to think about the man after what he did to me,” Melody confessed.
“I know. I know that I cannot possibly begin to understand what you are going through. I really can’t imagine why he would let all of this come to pass. He has no good reason for abandoning you like this when the two of you had made plans to be with one another,” Alana said, her tone sad.
“We did not make plans. We…we only courted. He never proposed or anything,” Melody insisted, as though it helped her ego to acknowledge this.
“Well, regardless of what he did or did not do, I am sure that he is regretting it now. You know as well as I do that men are fools. There can be no explanation as to why he would simply leave you and move on.”
Melody sighed. She was frustrated just vocalising it. Why was she still being punished for the grievous error he had made in rejecting her? It was hardly fair that she had to face discussing the matter again and again with others as she tried to move on.
“Please, Alana, I would rather not speak about this,” Melody pleaded.
“I understand. Forgive me for mentioning it,” Alana said.
“You needn’t apologise. I just thought you should know that it is not something I wish to think on any longer. It is in the past. That ridiculous letter ought to be burned,” Melody murmured bitterly.
“The letter? You have kept it?” Alana appeared surprised.
Kept it? Melody had read it every morning and night since she had received it. In the mornings when she read it, she allowed the anger to fuel her energy throughout the day. By the time she laid to rest at night, she read it and collapsed under the weight of emotional exhaustion and sheer hopelessness.
But she could not confess that to her friend.
“I believe it is lying around somewhere,” she shrugged.
“What sort of things did he say?” Alana asked.
“Oh, you know. Just nonsense about having to bring our courtship to a conclusion,” she said dismissively.
“Are you quite certain he gave no reasoning?”
Melody knew what Alana wanted. She was trying to find an opportunity to read the letter. If she were as bad a gossip as most of the other women in town, Melody would never have considered it. But Alana was a decent woman and Melody trusted that she was not trying to find an excuse to spread her friend’s private business around..
“If you wish, you may read it,” Melody said.
Alana looked embarrassed by the fact that she had been caught with what she so clearly hoped for.
“I-I do not mean to pry,” she muttered.
“I know. But if you are truly this curious, you might as well,” Melody sighed. “Give me just one moment.”
Alana nodded and Melody left the drawing room, climbed the stairs to the third floor, and went to the end of the hall where her own room was. She slipped inside and sat on her bed, releasing a breath of sadness and picking up the letter.
She opened it to read it once more before taking it down to show Alana.
Already Melody regretted making this offer. Somehow, the idea of sharing the letter felt like a betrayal of something deeply personal…even if it was also something that left her utterly sad and distraught.
But she had made the decision. Now, Melody needed to read it one final time, just so that she could remember the words with a fresh mind when she showed it to Alana.
Of course, she already had it memorised, but that was beside the point.
Dear Lady Rivers,
Thank you for the lovely afternoon we spent together two days ago. I enjoyed it very much, as I always do when we are able to be in one another’s company.
I am writing now to inform you that there has been a change in our arrangement and I believe we should address some things which need to be considered.
Although I do not particularly wish to write you this letter, I fear that I must. You should know that these past three months have been wonderful. I had a great many plans for the time which was to follow. However, I must call an end to our courtship.
Thank you for allowing me the privilege of getting to know you as a friend during this time. For now, however, I bid you adieu as we part ways as acquaintances only.
Lord Vincent Jacobs, Baron of Grenwill
Trying not to allow herself to be overcome by emotion, Melody folded the letter back up and clenched her jaw against the sadness that threatened. She blinked back the tears that threatened to fall and cleared her throat before standing and returning to the drawing room where Alana was still waiting..
“Oh! There you are. I worried that you could not find the letter,” she said.
“I found it,” Melody replied.
She handed the paper over and Alana read it within a few minutes.
“Oh, dear. That is a terrible excuse,” Alana murmured.
“Excuse? He gave no excuse. I would agree with you that it is terrible, but there was no reason at all given. Simply that he wished to part ways,” Melody hissed.
“Yes, well, you were certainly right. He did not give you any decent reasoning and the ending of your courtship was utterly unfair.”
“Precisely. I am sad that he thought this was acceptable, but I suppose there is no reason for me to be surprised. It is the way of a man, is it not?” Melody asked.
“Well…” Alana said, trailing off.
“Well, what?” Melody pressed.
“I think that is unfair. Not all men are like that. As much as I want to support you and be angry on your behalf, we cannot assume that every man will treat us without dignity.”
“Perhaps,” Melody said, resigned.
“Anyway, you should not give up or lose hope. There is certainly still a chance for things to work out for you and another man,” Alana offered.
“Yes, well, I shall make an effort to find one. First at the ball tomorrow evening and then at the ball here on Saturday.”
“You must be extremely excited. This is the first ball that your father has hosted in many years…certainly the first since we have been out in society and may actually attend,” Alana said eagerly.
“Yes, of course I am looking forward to it. I do hope that there is an abundance of eligible young men. I know that Mr. Woodcroft has been invited. I only hope that Lord Jacobs has not,” Melody growled.
“Surely your mother and father would not do such a thing after what he did to you?” Alana gasped.
“Of course not. My mother was furious and my father was quietly frustrated as ever,” Melody sighed.
“That makes sense. I am glad that they are looking after you and caring for you during this season.”
In truth, Melody’s mother and father had done very little aside from telling her that everything would be all right. Her mother had shared her anger towards Lord Jacobs, but only once. Following that, she appeared to let the matter go.
Now, it was only Melody who still carried the sadness about her, unable to move beyond what had happened.
Still, she could not imagine Lord Jacobs ever having the nerve to attend the ball as a guest. Instead, Melody decided she would dance with a number of other men, sweetly getting to know them and ensuring they saw the best of her.
There had to be a good man out there…one who was meant for her.
Melody was determined. She would find someone worth her while. No matter what, she would not allow a broken heart to get in her way.
Vincent was overwhelmed, but excited. How was it that he managed to land such an opportunity?
In all this time, as he’d had been trying to figure out what he was going to do with his life, he had not considered the fact that he might end up working for none other than Baron Charles Rivers.
Baron Rivers was an excellent man to work for. Unfortunately, Vincent was anxious about the fact that he had recently broken the heart of the Baron’s daughter.
And his own in the process.
Benjamin was standing and looking out the window of the study, a glass of brandy in his hand to match Vincent’s own. It was clear that he was lost in his own thoughts and Vincent considered interrupting them, but he needed to concentrate. He had so many things that he needed to figure out.
Vincent, being a baron himself, had a great deal of pride. Despite that, he would have loved nothing more than to humble himself before Lady Rivers. Gaining her forgiveness would have meant everything to him.
But it was too late for that.
“So, you must tell me more about all this,” Benjamin said.
“About the offer of an amazing position?” Vincent asked.
“Precisely that,” Benjamin nodded.
“Well, it is exactly the sort of job that I would love to do. I would be working with imports from the East Indies,” he explained.
“Tea or tobacco?”.
“Tobacco. Along with most decent gentlemen,” Vincent said.
“Ha! So you say. Tobacco may be rather lucrative for spreading amongst the wealthy, but think about tea. It is a far better import. Everyone in England drinks tea,” Benjamin pointed out.
“Which is why it sells for a pittance,” Vincent retorted.
“Hardly a pittance. I cannot understand why you would provide a product that can only be afforded by those of high society,” Benjamin sighed, shaking his head.
“Have you seen the streets of London? Tobacco sells everywhere,” Vincent insisted.
“Yes, I suppose. The cheaper tobacco does, anyway. But a man like Lord Rivers is only going to sell top quality. Tea of any quality may be drunk in any home, and many times throughout the day,” Benjamin said.
“When you decide to begin your own tea import business, please let me know and I promise to work with you. As it is, I have been offered a position with tobacco.”
Benjamin smiled and gave a nod, accepting that he needed to give up trying to refute Vincent’s clear and evident opportunity.
“So, you have been offered an ideal position for yourself. I cannot think of a man in all of England who has your experience. Since you traveled with your father as a young man to the East Indies, you have an understanding of the place,” Benjamin mused.
“Precisely. And I did quite a bit for his import business,” Vincent added.
Of course, he left off the part where his father’s import business had been sold off once the man became ill. It had broken Vincent’s heart that he would not be able to take over the work, but he had still been so young then and was far from capable of running the imports.
“So Lord Rivers sees that you are the only one ready to take on this role?” Benjamin asked.
“So it would seem. I must confess that I am looking forward to it. I am truly eager to see what happens and how we may succeed while working together.”
“Yes, I suppose you are. So you have decided? You are accepting the work?” Benjamin arched a brow expectantly.
Indeed. He had to accept the work. It was the best opportunity for him and it would give him great connections within society. If he decided to pass over something like this, he would be losing out on a very important chance.
Still, it would be difficult to see the woman that he loved…the woman whose heart he had broken.
More than likely, working for her father would mean he would see her often. Every time he saw her, he would be reminded of the decision he had made.
Although he had not been able to share with her his reasoning, he hoped she understood. He hoped she had moved on by now.
And, in the same breath, he hoped that she had not.
“I am,” Vincent replied. “I have already told Lord Rivers that it will be an honour to work alongside him.”
“And?” Benjamin pushed.
“What of his daughter? What does she have to say about it all?”
That was not something he cared to talk about. Why would Benjamin even mention it? Had he not gathered from Vincent’s moodiness that it was an unpleasant topic?
“We needn’t speak about her just now,” Vincent growled.
“Why not? Are you angry with her for some reason?” Benjamin asked.
“Me? Angry? No! Why do you ask?” Vincent exclaimed.
Benjamin raised his eyebrows.
“My goodness. I did not expect such an expressive reply. You must tell me what you are thinking and why you are responding this way,” Benjamin said.
“I am responding that way because what you said is utter nonsense. There is no reason at all for me to be angry.”
“And there is no reason for me to be content with your explanations. Come now, what is really going on?” Benjamin continued to push.
“I would rather not speak about it just now,” Vincent huffed.
“You never seem to want to speak about it. Do you not know that I am your friend and I care about you?” Benjamin sighed.
“Of course I know that. But you shouldn’t push me like this. I told you that I do not wish to dwell on this topic,” Vincent reiterated.
Benjamin’s lips tightened into a flat line. It was clear that he thought Vincent was being a fool.
Then again, Vincent imagined that many people suspected as much. He didn’t know how to tell everyone why he had ended his courtship when the reason was something that had to remain…private.
“If you do not wish to speak about her, I understand. It is only that I thought you cared very much for her,” Benjamin said.
“You know, we should talk about you and Lady Copperstone. Do you intend to formally court her?” Vincent asked, trying to shift the conversation to something less painful.
“I would very much like to court her. I cannot pretend that I am ready for that or that I know whether or not she cares enough for me to do so, but I would like to pursue a match if the opportunity were to present itself.”
“Then you pursue her. I believe it will go very well for you,” Vincent said, taking a sip of his brandy.
“I do hope so. She is quite stunning, and a dear friend of your Lady Rivers,” Benjamin pointed out.
“Lady Rivers is not mine.”
“Well, whatever I am to say about her, she is a friend of Lady Copperstone’s.”
“Then why have you not already pursued Lady Copperstone if you care for her so much?” Vincent asked.
“I have no title. I am a wealthy man and, perhaps, that may be enough. But I am quite certain that her father would rather she marry a man who is titled,” Benjamin admitted.
“Ha! Your family is titled, although it has not extended to you, and you are certainly wealthy enough. I am sure that her father would be more than pleased for her to marry someone like you,” Vincent said.
“Well, I still do not know if she would be as pleased. She has not expressed any interest in me.”
“How can she? It is not her place to do so. She is a woman and you are a man. She would hardly be allowed to begin a courtship. That is your responsibility.” He glanced at Benjamin and saw the hesitation in his friend’s eyes. “Do not be anxious. I know that you are a…well, that you are not always the sort of man who will barge in and make demands,” Vincent conceded—which was a kind way of saying the man was far too timid. “But if you like her, you must move forward.”
“Yes, I know. And I shall. In my own time,” Benjamin grumbled.
“Remember, your own time may be too slow for her. What if someone else chooses to move forward? You must be quick about these things,” Vincent pressed.
Benjamin solemnly nodded and Vincent could see the sheer weight of sadness in his eyes. It was clear that Benjamin was feeling anxious about moving forward, but Vincent knew that this was the only option for him. Lady Copperstone was the one woman who would ever make him happy.
Just as Lady Rivers was the only woman Vincent believed he could ever love.
His feelings for her had not ceased. They still remained and he believed that they always would. How was he meant to overcome the love and affection that he had gained for her during their time of courtship? They had had plans to marry one another. He would not have allowed things to go on so long if he did not love her.
But it was too late to undo what had been done. It was too late to make things right.
Vincent had to accept it…and he had to move on.
He looked in the mirror hanging on the wall nearby and saw that he needed to get his hair cut again. He did not like it when the sandy-brown mop curled as it always did. He had to keep it short in order to manage it.
Lady Rivers had liked his curls. She had told him often that she found them endearing.
Which was all the more reason to keep it short.
If he was going to be seeing her, if he would be working for her father, he needed to do all he could to remove any remnants of their feelings for one another. He had to ensure that he was not making it more difficult for her.
“Have you seen Lady Rivers since you ended the courtship?” Benjamin asked.
Vincent shook his head.
“Not once,” he replied.
“And did she ever respond to you?” Benjamin arched a brow.
“No, though I did not expect that she would,” Vincent admitted. Then, with a sad smile, he added, “She has far too much pride for that.”
“I can hardly imagine how difficult it will be when you do, at last, run into her,” Benjamin murmured.
“I am certainly not looking forward to the moment in which I must face her. Her father made a brief remark when we spoke about this opportunity. He simply stated that he would like to ensure that all of this was put in the past and that we may move onto our work,” Vincent explained.
“Do you think it will be as easy as that?” Benjamin asked.
“No. I know what it is like. Working alongside the man as I will be means I am bound to see Lady Rivers…likely often. I shall do my best to make her feel at ease, but I cannot imagine it will be so simple for either of us.”
Running into her was unavoidable, he knew that.. He would see her lovely, straight, red hair… those piercing blue eyes of hers. It would be torture, but there was nothing he could do to stop the inevitable confrontation.
Nothing more could be done to restore what they had lost.
“For a Dreamy Lady’s Honour” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
As Lady Melody Rivers recovers from the sting of abandonment, she is shocked to find that the man who rejected her and whom she considered her other half is now working for her father. Since he never gave her an explanation for his disappearance, she concludes that he played with her feelings and is not worth her attention. With her pride wounded and her heart broken into pieces, she is dreading what the future holds for her… However, light shines again upon her life when she finds hope in the smile of the charming Lord Findlay. Is he really the one for her or does her heart still belong to her first dreamy love?
Baron Vincent Jacobs is caught up in a family secret that forced him to reject marrying the woman he loved. Confused and frustrated by the prison in which he finds himself, all he wants is to turn his back on Nerissa Boden, the despicable woman who trapped him. Fearing that a lifelong hopelessness is inescapable, he decides to take fate in his own hands and claim Melody again, the woman he was clearly born to be with. Does he stand a chance with the only person he has ever loved or will his past mistakes condemn him to a loveless and empty life?
As if the many hurdles weren’t enough, when rumours of Nerissa’s ties to Vincent are spread, Melody starts to wonder if she was a fool all along or if there is something more to this story. Torn between the questionable gossip about Vincent and the truth that lies in her wounded heart, Melody must make a decision. Will she let her soul return to the man she is hopelessly in love with? In the end, after everything they have been through, will they dare to give love a second chance?
“For a Dreamy Lady’s Honour” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.