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An impulsive decision has lasting consequences for Desiree

This is excerpt one from Prentice & Desiree. As you will see, Desiree is  tossed into a situation that she hadn’t anticipated, but parents of her day, about 1810, cared to advance their children, sometimes to their detriment.


Chapter Two

One week later

Miss, you are to meet your parents in the parlor.”

Desiree sighed as her maid, Violet, fluttered about the room. “Why

now? Is Mother bound for another shopping trip?”

“No, miss. They have a guest.”

Curiosity, as well as Violet’s persistence, propelled her into action.

Violet dressed her hair and wrapped her in her pink sprigged muslin.

“The pink puts a flush in your cheeks.”

Her mother met her at the bottom of the stairs. “Be on your best

behavior, missy. Your father is still livid, and believe me, you don’t want

gainsay him.”

A week to the day after the doctor’s examination, and her mother hadn’t

spoken to her save for admonitions.

“Mother, why are you so angry with me? What’s done is done.”

“You have shamed this family, girl, and after all we’ve done for you.”

Desiree bit her tongue, lest she repeat the same argument they’d had

any number of times.

“Judith. We are waiting.”

“Coming, dear.”

“Who is this guest?”

Sans an answer, Desiree’s mother grabbed her arm and guided her into

the parlor. The sight of her father, his face a mask of harsh, unforgiving

lines, broke her heart. Her hero had turned sullen and angry when his

fortunes took a downward turn. Her behavior at the Hargraves’s ball had

broken his heart.

“Daughter, this is Ebenezer Huntington. Three days ago, I accepted his

suit for your hand.”

Mouth agape, Desiree faced the paunchy man who stood some distance

away. Her knees weakened upon a study of the man who, at treble her age,

wore thick gray side-whiskers and a leer. Her stomach roiled at the sight of

his yellowed tobacco-stained teeth.

Her father nudged her shoulder. “Don’t be impolite, girl. Greet

your betrothed.”

Desiree stepped closer, startled when Huntington grabbed her arm in

his tobacco-stained, meaty paw.

“She is a fine-looking woman, Fairholme. Vicar, shall we proceed?”

“Today, Father? You wish me to marry today?”

Her father narrowed his eyes. “For all we know, you could have a bastard

child growing in your belly. Mr. Huntington’s kindness will spare us that

disgrace. When Greeley cried off, that induced a great deal of gossip. We

can’t allow you to disgrace us further.”

She glanced toward her mother who wept, a lacy handkerchief to her

mouth. “Mother, please.”

The woman shook her head and cruelly turned away.

“How can you do this to me, Father?”

Huntington grinned. “Oh, gel, it won’t be so bad. My household is small,

nothing much for you to do there. Just mind your manners, and we’ll get

on well.”

His household gave her no concern. She looked into his ruddy face and

feared casting up her accounts on his dusty shoes.

“Vicar, I have an appointment this afternoon. Shall we proceed?”

Dazed, Desiree took her place beside Mr. Huntington, spoke the vows

with apathy, and bid her parents farewell—all in the course of a quarter hour.

Check back at 5 eastern time for an excerpt from Lucien & Serenity.


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