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.
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
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.”
“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
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
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.