Under the Earl’s Spell (Preview)



“My Lord, we have arrived at the Thatcher Townhouse,” the coachman announced.

Edward inhaled sharply, just before the carriage door was opened. The day’s light shone on him acutely. He squinted his eyes for a bit before he finally alighted, shoving both hands in the pocket of his breeches and looking around with his lips pressed into a thin line. He hadn’t set foot here in so many years.

There was an old saying that Edward recalled. It was forever engraved in his memory. Home was where the heart was. It was a saying dear to Edward because for the longest time, he struggled to understand where his home was. This was why he travelled around a lot and had never truly returned to his place of birth, the county of Carnarvon. But now he had no choice but to return. His heart wrenched at the memory of the news he had received concerning the deaths of his father and brother, respectively, their ship had capsized during their voyage. The news not only broke his heart, it had also scarred him.

It had been eighteen months since this occurred, but Edward found it difficult to get over. He found difficulty in trying to fit into something he had never prepared his mind for. He had thought that he would be free for the rest of his life, to make his own choices, reside wherever he wanted, and even be whoever he wanted. But that was impossible now. After the news of the passing of his father and brother, Edward had returned to the countryside. He had stayed there for the past eighteen months, trying to understand his responsibilities. His mother felt that he was prepared enough, Edward assumed. For she had sent him a letter, requesting his presence in London. Edward had not known what to make of the invitation. Of course, he knew that he would eventually have to go down to London for a season before returning back to the countryside, but he did not feel ready. And he might never have felt ready. This was why he had simply asked that preparations be made for him to leave. It was now or never.

Just as Edward was still taking in his environ, he saw the entrance door open. Mr. Jenkins, the age-long steward to his family, appeared pleased to see him, but he was not who arrested Edward’s attention to the point that he forced a smile. It was his mother, the Dowager Countess of Carnarvon. Her chestnut brown hair that was exactly the same color as his, she emerged with a bright grin to welcome him. With his younger sister, Christianna, away for her education in Bath, the Dowager Countess was alone in the townhouse.

“Edward, my dear,” she cried.

Edward moved on impulse. He let his feet lead him to meet his mother midway. She embraced him once they were close enough to each other. Edward was happy to see her, he truly was. He only feared the purpose behind her summoning him. He knew his mother well enough to know that she did everything for a reason. But he did not want to appear too desperate or too suspicious of her. He would be patient until she revealed all in due time.

“I am exhilarated to see you, darling. Come. Come. We must go in. After your long journey I know you’d want some tea to feel refreshed,” the Dowager was saying.

“Indeed, Mother.”

The Dowager laughed when they walked through the threshold. “I had tea at Rosenberg Manor the previous day.”

Edward could not help the small smile that graced his lips. His mother was slowly making her reveal; or quickly, because it seemed she was desperate for him to know.

“Rosenberg, you say?” Edward looked at her. He was not stunned that his mother had come across such influential nobleman at Everfair manor. The Duke of Rosenberg was, after all, in affiliation with Lord Richmond. “Exciting was it?”

The Dowager grinned. “It indeed was. I was mostly amazed by how grown the Duke’s daughter is. Lady Alice; you might recall her from your younger years.”

Finally, they both walked into the drawing room. Edward took a seat.

The Dowager Countess went on. “She had her debut ball last season. How lovely, isn’t it?”

“Truly lovely,” Edward agreed.

“Lord and Lady Richmond are hosting a large ball at Everfair Manor. Lady Alice will be there. So I want you to attend as well.”

Although Edward knew where the conversation was heading, he was still irked. “What is this all about, Mother?”

The Dowager’s smile faded instantly. She narrowed her eyes at Edward. “How obvious do you need me to be, Son. It is apparent enough what I speak of, is it not?”

Edward clasped his hands together but said nothing. The Dowager went on. “I want you to find a wife. You’ve been taking the situation too lightly for so long a time. It is high time you took this more seriously, Edward. Lady Alice is a good match for you. Trust me to have surveyed every area possible. All that is needed is your effort in trying to court her.”

But Edward wanted to make no effort. He cared not a bit about Lady Alice. He cared not about getting married at all. He had barely had a hold on running the county, which was not his birthright in the first place. He was not ready to be wed, not in the least. More so he was certain that he would not be attracted to Lady Alice. Not when his attention had already been arrested… by the lady’s maid of Lady Richmond.

After he had attended a picnic two months prior, with the family of his cousin, Owen, who was the Marquis of Richmond, Edward encountered a woman. He had simply been walking past until he saw her. Time seemed to freeze when this happened. And this caused him to stand still and stare, albeit with stolen gazes here and there, as he guessed the true purpose of his sudden stop. She was utterly stunning and innocent. Something about her mesmerized him. Everything she did stole his attention. It made him just stand and stare. He stared so much that he began to note even the littlest things. Like her beautiful green eyes that were the color of emeralds, her bow shaped lips that begged to be savored with as much attention as possible. The skin around her neck was bright and each time Edward looked at her, he imagined burying himself there. There was so much about the woman that captured him. There was an aura surrounding her. One that was novel to him. One that was refreshing. And even though he did not speak to her, watching her had made him feel like he had known her for so long a time.

“Edward,” the Dowager called. He snapped his gaze towards her and raised a brow.

So instead, Edward nodded, smiled, and said. “Of course, Mother. I shall attend the ball.”

“Splendid!” The Dowager nodded. “I look forward to your meeting with Lady Alice.”

Edward barely nodded, for he was a tad excited as well. Of course, not because of his proposed meeting with Lady Alice but something more. He would be seeing the Lady’s maid again, after two weeks. After all, his dreams of her had been his only solace in the past weeks.


Chapter One

“All the guests arrive tomorrow. I dare say that we have done well enough with the preparations so far. Do you not think so?” Lady Richmond smiled.

Louisa Brown nodded in agreement. Her mistress was indeed right. The preparations for the house party had been marvelous so far. The manor was well decorated and ready to receive guests.

“I feel there is something missing from this list. Although I am not quite certain what.” Her mistress said.

“The bedchambers?” Louisa suggested.

“No. I have discussed that with Mrs. Kane. The bedchambers are ready. But there is something else…”

“What do you have in mind, my Lady?” Louisa asked, walking closer to Lady Richmond, who was seated on the green floral designed rosette that was situated near the French windows.

However, while Louisa awaited a response, Lady Richmond’s attention shifted its focus. It did not take long, however, for her mistress to reply. Although her response was not in the least what Louisa had been expecting.

“Those flowers are terribly arranged. Do you not think?”

Louisa’s eyes followed Lady Richmond’s. They stopped by the table at the other side of the drawing room.

“You should go over there and set it right,” said Lady Richmond.

Louisa turned to her and curtsied. “Yes, my Lady.”

She was eager to set the flowers right and Lady Richmond knew this. Aside from taking great pleasure in the smell of herbs and plants, Louisa Brown had a talent for arrangements. She was greatly pleased when her mistress asked her to utilize her skills and interest.

“The Duke and Duchess of Rosenberg shall reside in the east wing,” Lady Richmond announced. “The largest bouquets of white roses shall be kept in the Duchess’s chambers.”

“Yes, my Lady,” Louisa replied while still arranging the flowers.

Lady Richmond was quite kind. Louisa had worked as her Lady’s maid for quite a few years. Since the Lady made her debut into society. Louisa had known no better ease. There was kindness in the Lady’s eyes, and she treated Louisa well. Louisa was stunned most times, when Lady Richmond simply delved into certain matters that Louisa imagined were quite personal to her.

Louisa was deep in her thoughts while she arranged the white roses in the drawing room, setting them in between red roses so the white color could stand out. When Louisa was satisfied with what she had done, she took a little step back to stare at it. It looked better now, more beautiful. This made her smile. She was certain Lady Richmond would approve.

“Everything looks organized. I trust that all will be perfect.” Lord Richmond’s voice echoed as he walked through the door.

Lady Richmond smiled. “It will.”

Lord Richmond took a seat by her mistress and his smile did not seize as he spoke on. “I anticipate Edward’s arrival.”

Lady Richmond chuckled. “Since seeing the Lord Carnarvon at the picnic months ago, you have been looking forward to seeing him again.”

“It has been a long time since we sat and spoke as we used to when we were lads.”

On hearing the name, Louisa’s interest was piqued. Heart thudding, she placed her hands on the flowers again and began rearranging.

Touching the flowers seemed to calm her a bit, but her mind had delved into a quicker race. Lord Carnarvon was going to come down to the manor? Her cheeks heated up. She did not know how to feel about such a news. It was stunning. She had encountered Lord Carnarvon at the picnic that took place at Hyde Park two months ago. She recalled that he had isolated himself for some time; simply observing, she supposed. But that had given her an opportunity to steal glances at him and also make her notice that he stole glances at her as well. He was quite attractive; his demeanor, his poise, and even the way he made it so easy to stand out. With his brown hair combed across in neat layers, that even the soft breeze could not ruffle it. Louisa was mesmerized by him. This had led to her dreams of him in the past two weeks. She often awoke with a start, sweating. Now the man who haunted her dreams was going to be at the manor. The idea made her jittery.

However, despite whatever tricks her emotions were playing on her, Louisa knew better than to let any of these emotions get to her head. They were fleeting and she was certain that with time, they would pass. Her mother might have let her emotions lead, but Louisa trusted that her mind would lead.

“…Louisa would deliver them to Mrs. Kane,” the Marchioness said.

On hearing her name, Louisa composed herself and turned. She curtsied to Lord Richmond before walking to stand by Lady Richmond. “my Lady.” She curtsied again.

Lady Richmond smiled at her. The steward at her other hand took the ink and pen from her and excused himself. Lady Richmond handed the list to Louisa.

“Take this to Mrs. Kane, tell her these are what should be prepared both in the bedchambers and for the meals. Request that rose bouquets be taken to the first bedchamber in the east wing. We have guests arriving today,” Lady Richmond said.

Louisa took the list and curtsied. “Yes, my Lady.”

Louisa made her way out of the drawing room and headed straight to the kitchen, where Mrs. Kane was. As usual the kitchen was bustling with maids walking in and out. The housekeeper, Mrs. Kane, stood by one corner, addressing the head cook, Mrs. Phillips. Louisa made her way over to where they both stood. “Louisa,” Mrs. Phillips smiled.

“Mrs. Phillips, how do you do?”

“I am well, dear.”

“Louisa.” Mrs. Kane greeted her curtly. She was not as jovial as Mrs. Phillips, but she was a good woman. And she took her job very seriously. Louisa smiled at them both, having gotten their attention.

“Lady Richmond has asked that this list be used for the preparations,” Louisa said, before handing Mrs. Kane the list.

Just as she was about to speak further, she heard behind her. “Is that Lou?”

Louisa’s smile broadened. She always smiled when she was called by Georgina. Georgina was Mrs. Phillip’s daughter. She was ten and nine years old. Louisa had grown fond of her since her time at Everfair Manor. “How do you do, Louisa?”

“I am well, Georgina, and you?”

Georgina crossed her arms across her chest and shrugged. “Excited for the guests arriving tomorrow.”

Louisa faced Georgina now, leaving Mrs. Kane and Mrs. Phillips to look through the list. “Pray tell why that might excite you.”

Georgina grinned. “The nobles are arriving! There shall be young noblemen to look forward to.”

“You aim for what can never be achieved.” One of the maids teased as she passed. Georgina’s cheeks flamed. Louisa knew then what Georgina was on about. Perhaps she fancied a particular noble. Louisa shook her head. It was best the lass forgot it. “That is too far away a dream,” Louisa whispered.

Georgina shrugged. “It is indeed too much to wish for a better life. ”

Georgina reminded Louisa of her own mother. Like Georgina, Louisa’s mother had wished for the unattainable. She had ingenuously believed that she could escape the life by marrying up. She had been deceived and she had given her all to have that life. Recalling this, Louisa felt herself angered. If only her mother had known better. “It certainly is not too much to wish for a better life, Georgina.” Louisa smiled. “But you must be careful what it is you consider to be this better life.”

Georgia frowned. “Pray tell what you mean.”

Louisa sighed. “I know what it feels like to wish that you were not in this position, to wish that you could live better when we are surrounded by the luxuries of the nobles. My mother wished the same, so greatly that after my father’s death, she put herself in a path to it. And she did catch the attention of a nobleman.” As Louisa told the story, the memories she bore surfaced, so that she lived in the moment she spoke of, and this brought her pain. But she went on. “My mother fell for this nobleman who promised her so much. He promised to change her life forever and she held on dearly to this hope that she lost sight of the truth…”

Georgina, who had been listening intently asked. “What truth?”

“The impossibility of becoming a noble.” Louisa swallowed. The memory of her mother slumping in the kitchen replayed in her head. She shuddered. “But one day he wedded a Lady of his class. And my mother was left devastated. Her health deteriorated until… she died.”

Georgina was silent after Juliana spoke. She said nothing; all she did was stare for a while. Louisa raised both her brows. Georgina cleared her throat. “That is quite sad. I truly sympathize with you. But you must understand that not every nobleman is as the one you speak of, she probably just didn’t play her cards right. ”

“And you must know that not all noblemen are as the one you wish for.” Louisa said in return. Georgina cocked her head to the side and was about to respond when Mrs. Philips interrupted. “Go on now, Georgina. I need to have a chat with Louisa.”

Georgina creased her brows and stared at her mother in confusion. Louisa was certain she wished to protest against her mother’s request, but Mrs. Phillips maintained a stern gaze. Georgina then sighed before heading out of the kitchen, narrowly missing a collusion with a help carrying a plate of pudding.

“Tis best to keep her mind away from such matters. Georgina hungers to become a mistress herself.” Mrs. Phillips continued, “Thank you for what you said. I hope it touches her deeply; although, I doubt that she has given the point of the story any chance to sink in.”

Louisa could see that. She knew that Georgina was still in denial even after her story. But she had thought the best way to take Georgina’s mind away from such was to talk to her properly about it. “She must be reminded each time she brings the matter up. She must begin to live in reality.”

Mrs. Phillips picked an apron and draped it around her. “Of course, I shall. Thank you again, Georgina. Excuse me. I must make known the preparation plans.” Louisa nodded, while Mrs. Phillips moved to the center and spoke. “Pudding was requested for in the list, aye. We must begin right away. More pudding!”

The instant she did this, the kitchen was bustling again. Everyone moved faster, the fires were started, ingredients were being prepared. Everything began moving so fast. No matter how many times Louisa had stayed in the kitchen in the past few years, she had never truly gotten used to it. Especially when it was so busy this way. It made her nostalgic. It made her most uncomfortable.

She felt a bit dizzy as it was.

“…So you see, dear…” Mrs. Philips stopped talking. Louisa had her eyes slightly closed.

Mrs. Philips took a step forward and held her still. “Are you ill, child?”

“Just a bit dizzy. I presume I simply need some air,” Louisa responded quickly.

Mrs. Phillips nodded. Louisa excused herself immediately. Once outside, Louisa was able to breathe easily. She braced herself the instant she was hit by the soft air outside. Nostalgia filled her as she stood there. Her memory dug far back to her mother’s death. Her mother had died in the kitchen. She had died while she was working. Louisa had been trying to reach her, amidst the business in the kitchen. The scenario was forever itched in her memory. Louisa was still lost in nostalgia, when she heard her name being called, she turned. Mrs. Kane was walking up to her. She had a large basket on her left arm. Louisa wondered what message she had for her, although she suspected greatly that it had to do with herbs or flowers.

“Lady Richmond has requested that you gather the flowers for the guest’s chambers. She says you have a good eye for it, yes?” Mrs. Kane asked.

“Indeed. I do.”

“Good.” Mrs. Kane sighed. She handed Louisa the basket she was holding then. “Pick enough for two bedchambers, at least. I hear the Duchess of Rosenberg has quite a love for white roses.”

After a curt nod from Mrs. Kane, Louisa made her way outside, to begin the search for flowers fitting for the bedchambers. As she walked, she could already see flowers aligned. She set her basket to her side and made to begin the selection, when the neigh of a horse caught her attention.

Not so far from where she stood, the neighing horse stood on its hind legs, and the rider was thrown off his saddle. Louisa gasped, fear gripping her. The horse landed back on its four feet and raced past her.

Louisa’s heart thudded. The sounds could be heard in her own ears. She had experienced too much loss and danger in her life. Seeing this made it worse for her. But for a certain reason, she was unable to scream. Perhaps it was the scare that the situation brought about that made her unable to do so; however, Louisa did the next best thing. She set down her basket and rushed over to see if the rider was alright. She feared that the worst may have just occurred. As she neared him, her heart began to thud. And even worse when she saw the face of the rider. Her heart skipped so much it made her flinch. Before her, laying on a haystack, was Lord Carnarvon.


Chapter Two

 Edward rubbed his temple whilst his thoughts wandered. He was now in a carriage that was heading to Everfair Manor and there was a thrill within him. As he looked out the window, he saw what he had been missing about London. The busy streets. The zeal. The Ton. Everything about London was vibrant, as always. Not as quiet and isolated as the countryside.

Although he did enjoy the countryside. It was peaceful. And that peace had helped him through the past eighteen months. He wished he could prolong his stay there. But even he knew that was impossible. He knew that soon enough, he would not only have to take up the responsibility of being the Earl of Carnarvon, but also take up the family responsibility attached to it. He needed to be wed and to bear an heir. These demands had been for his brother, Edward thought. Simon had accepted that those responsibilities were his, as he was the heir. But Edward on the other hand had embraced a life of freedom. It was why he appalled the thought of doing these things now. They had never been in his plans. They had never been anything he’d worked towards. But now they appeared before him and there was no escape.

A sudden jolt moved him physically, drawing his thoughts away and placing his attention on his surroundings. With that jolt, the carriage halted acutely. Edward creased his brows. He looked outside. They had not arrived at Owen’s home, but they were closer, as he noticed that they were now at the outskirts of London, where Everfair Manor was located. He recalled this path.

As a lad, Edward had loved visiting Everfair Manor. The manor had a pastoral scenery that he loved, despite it being in London. It was had a garden that bloomed beautiful flowers, a path that had lovely trees and a massive land space behind it that was often used for horse racing. His times at the manor had been most interesting.

He was interrupted by the appearance of the coachman by his window.

“My Lord.” The coachman bowed.

“What has happened?” Edward responded.

“There’s a fault with the wheels m’lord.”.”

Faulty wheels would take quite some time, Edward thought. He did not have the patience to wait all that while; besides, Everfair Manor was not so far away anymore. He could complete the rest of his journey on a horse back. He asked that the carriage door be opened. Once he alighted, he felt the fresh air all over him and it was exhilarating.

“I will ride the rest of the way to the manor. Hand me a horse,” Edward requested.

The coachman bowed before stepping in front of the carriage and untying one of the horses. While he did this, Edward took notice of the path. Traveling had opened Edward to seeing a lot of things, but it had never changed how he felt about London. None of the places he had visited during his travels gave him the homey feeling that London did.

“My Lord.” The coachman approached with a horse. Edward took its reins and mounted it. While the coachman stepped aside and inclined his head, Edward raised the horse’s reins and moved.

As the horse moved, Edward realized that he had no firm hold on it. For some reason, the horse seemed to objective to his command. This baffled Edward, but he was certain that he would get a grip on it. After a while, dward neared a winding path, the horse began to neigh loudly, while trying to move in another direction. Edward tried to take hold, but the horse moved forward with a jerk and Edward lost his grip. This caused him to fall off.

Fortunately, Edward felt something a tad comforting where he fell. He had expected a harder impact. He lay there for a moment, with his eyes closed, assessing the damage. He kept hearing the neigh of his horse going farther and farther away, until he no longer heard it. The horse must have been far off. He groaned. The pain he felt after his fall had not been so intense, which meant that no severe injury had occurred. He sighed and opened his eyes gradually. What Edward saw when his eyes opened stunned him to utter silence. Above him, were a pair of emerald green eyes staring down at him. He was mesmerized by the eyes that he took no notice of who it was, until the person moved back with a gasp. Heavens, he had not heard anyone approaching. How had that been possible?

Edward sat up quickly and turned to stare at who it was. His lips parted when he took notice of the maid. It was the maid from the picnic. The one who had caught his attention. She was dressed in a long black ruffle dress, and a white apron was placed above it, while her hair was hidden beneath a black bonnet. In a matter of seconds, Edward imagined what her hair looked like beneath that bonnet. And what it would feel like to run his hand through them. His thoughts dug deeper, as he began to imagine himself close to her. So close that he could feel her breath on his skin, press himself against her and hover his lips over hers, until she yearned…

Edward snapped himself out of those thoughts. He was once again drawing up images to suit his fantasy. He groaned silently. These images were in accordance with his endless dreams about her. Edward tried to caution his thoughts from straying for they threatened to go farther than what his eyes saw.

She bowed her head and did a curtesy. Edward was more interested in simply looking into her eyes. He had never seen such beauty. But seeing as her head was bowed, he was forced to change his focus.

He cleared his throat. “That was quite a fall.”

“Are you hurt, my Lord?” she asked. Edward was once again hooked. Her voice. He had never heard her speak. But hearing her do so now, was miraculous. Her voice was like a melody. It was his focus on her voice that made him unable to respond on time. He caught himself, soon enough, and responded.

“Not quite. I feel no intense pain.”

“The haystack cushioned your fall. It saved you from severe harm,” she responded.

Haystack? Edward looked down then, to see where he was rested. She was right. Beneath him was a stack of hay. This was why his fall had felt soft. He smiled. “I am lucky, I suppose.”

“Yes, indeed, my Lord,” she said and finally looked up.

Edward smiled. “What is your name?”

“Pardon?” she replied. Edward had a feeling that she heard what he had asked. Perhaps her surprise made her ask that question. He was also surprised at his question. But he was curious.

“I asked what your name was.”

He watched her swallow. “Louisa Brown, my Lord.”

“Well, Miss Brown, pray tell what you are doing out here?” he asked, rising.

“I was assigned to pick flowers for the guests’ chambers, my Lord.”

A slight ache coursed through Edward when he had risen fully. This caused him to gasp. In a matter of seconds, however, Miss Brown was by his side, placing a hand on his arm, he presumed it was to help stable his balance. A surge went through his body when he felt her hand on him. He froze for a bit, and so did she. But she did not move away from him. The thrill that swept within him made his eyes dart to her lips. If he leaned in a tad, his lips would meet hers. He swallowed as he imagined what kissing her would feel like. His entire body quivered from merely imagining sharing a kiss with Miss Brown. His hand itched to reach for her, to caress her while savoring her. While Edward’s thoughts spiraled, he saw that Miss Brown’s cheeks had turned crimson and she avoided his gaze like a plague. He found that intriguing. His eyes averted to her hand that was still on his. She made no attempt to let go. That gave Edward somewhat of an edge. He nearly succumbed to his want, as he considered clasping his hands over hers and tilting towards her.

If only…

“Are you alright, my Lord?” Miss Brown asked, both brows raised. Her cheeks were still reddened. Edward held back a smile. He wondered, however, what might have triggered her to feel so flustered. Were her thoughts far off gone as his were? Did she imagine him touching her, kissing her, caressing her? Did her contact with him also cause a jitter to run through her? All this he wondered and hoped for.

“My Lord…” Miss Brown called again, she was still unable to look at him.

Edward caught himself quickly from having fantasies while Miss Brown’s hand rested on his arm. He cleared his throat as his consciousness returned. nodded. “Yes, I am.”

At his response, Miss Brown smiled sweetly. “Can you walk on your own? Do you feel pain?”

“No, not at all. I feel normal. ”

It looked like Miss Brown attempted to disagree with him, but she stopped herself and inclined her head. “Very well, my Lord. ”

Miss Brown did not let go of Edward until he stood more firmly. She let go of him gradually, taking the warmth her hand. Edward stared down at his hand and wished she had not let go. Perhaps he should have said he was not strong enough to walk? He was certain she would have held him as they made their way to the manor. And although that was not what he had in mind for her, when they touched, it was close enough.

Edward was quick to feel the absence of her touch. “You must go into the house now; you must have come a long way,” Miss Brown uttered.

He swallowed and tried to control his thoughts and this unexplainable want he had for Miss Brown. His momentary silence had surely caused her to wonder why he was not heading for the house yet or yearning to see his cousin. He did not wish to leave just yet. He wanted to speak to her some more. And in order to do that, he needed to change his focus. So, he said something to keep the conversation going.

“I shall take my time to look around some more. The manor seems to have changed a tad compared to the last time I was here.” In order to make his stillness go without notice from Miss Brown, Edward spoke up with a snort of feigned amusement. “I seem to have broken nothing, that gives me the liberty to do so.”

“But of course, you can do that as you walk to the house. It is quite a walk from here, your Lordship.”

Miss Brown Edward cocked his head to his side and looked at her. “Thank you for coming to my aid.”

Miss Brown blushed and nodded. “It was nothing, my Lord. Shall I escort you then?”

He looked towards her. She was not looking his way. He grinned. “You fear that I might miss my footing?”

“I fear that the fall had slight effects, my Lord. I only wish that you not be alone.”

The fall from the horse’s back had been quite a scare, and although Edward would never wish for that to happen to him again, he was thrilled that it gave him the opportunity to meet Miss Brown again after two months. And not just that, he was able to have a closer look at her while his fantasies replayed in his mind. He only wished he had more time to talk to her. But he knew that he did not, as she had work to do. He did not want to be the reason that she did not do what was required of her. He had to quit his fooling around.

“It would be best that you returned to gathering the flowers; I can take the rest of the walk alone,” Edward announced.

Miss Brown objected swiftly. “I think not, my Lord. At least permit that I walk with you until you near the house.”

She was bold and quite obstinate, Edward thought. Something told him she would not let him walk alone, but she also had something to do. However, if they both walked all the way to the house, they would not have to depart so soon and quite frankly, he wanted to speak a bit more to her. An idea came to him then. In order to kill two birds with one stone, all he needed to do was walk with her while she picked the flowers. He would have the opportunity to spend a bit more time with her while she got her work done.

With this thought in mind, Edward said to Miss Brown. “Perhaps we could stop, and have you pick those flowers you were assigned to pick, before heading towards the house.”

Miss Brown reacted to this suggestion with her eyes widening a bit. “That would not be necessary, my Lord.”

“I insist,” Edward said. Just then he saw before him, an empty basket. It must be the basket Miss Brown had spoken of. He stopped before it and nodded towards her. “We must begin.”

Reluctance was apparent in her motions, but Miss Brown eventually took up the basket and nodded. “As you wish, my Lord.”

“So, Miss Brown,” Edward began with a smile as she began to pick flowers as she walked, “where did this talent come from? How do you know to pick lovely flowers?”

“My mother taught me,” she responded with a steady smile. The soothing tone in which her reply came made Edward only want to watch her. There was a serenity that came with watching her pick the flowers. Perhaps it was the way she smiled when she came across them, or the way her fingers wrapped around its root, or the way she breathed out in relief when one was comfortably in the basket. Edward wondered what it would feel like to lay by the flowers and adorn her with kisses, touch her, and have her want him as he wanted her. And to bask in the flowers while doing so would be bliss. The imagery he had was further heightened when Miss Brown cast her lashes downwards in somewhat of a slow-motion; Edward guessed it was an attempt to avoid meeting his gaze, and he found it utterly seductive; although, he would wager that that was not her intent. He sucked in a breath and stuck his hands in the pockets of his breeches. What was happening to him?

“This is all I need,” she said in a low tone. Edward looked at the basket to see that it was filled with different flowers.

“It comes to you easily, yes?” he asked.

Miss Brown nodded. Her smile was full. “Just like with the herbs. It feels as though I know the flowers.”

Edward nodded. He looked ahead then and saw that they were approaching the house. Regrettably, he might have added. Beside him, Miss Brown’s smile became faint.

“You must announce your presence, my Lord. As I must return to my duties.”

Edward knew this as well. But he had no response for her. He would rather watch her go rather than say goodbye, for he hoped to have this sort of meeting with her again.

“Have a lovely day ahead, my Lord.” Miss Brown curtsied.

“As you.” Edward responded and stared ahead. While he made to go further, Miss Brown cut through a corner, stunning him. Edward stood still and watched as she disappeared in that direction. He narrowed his eyes. “We shall meet again, Miss Brown. “

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  • Dear Roselyn …
    I have found this story line to be delightful with the two different characters and am wondering how this story will continue…
    does the ladyship maid fall fof her Duke as he seems smitten at present..??.but cant wait to read with anticipation the next chapters !!

    • Thank you for your positive feedback to the beginning of my upcoming novel, dear Valerie! I’m very glad it intrigued you, and stay tuned because the rest of it will be soon released! 🙂

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