”I said, what is going on here? ” His Grace repeated for what seemed to be the one thousandth time. The servants all stood aright. No one was willing to answer his pressing question.

Mary sent the Cook a glance in silent supplication, Cook glanced at Mrs White silently begging her to speak up, Mrs White, not wanting to be put on the spot looked at Madame Anne almost directly (Subtlety was not in Mrs Whites bloodline), forcing her to look at poor Elodie. Elodie felt trapped, it was only sensible of her to explain why servants were dinning with their lady. She sighed. That seemed to have set him on edge,

”If you don start talking, Ill… ”

”I asked them to dine with me father, ” she finally found her voice.

”I see, and may I ask why? ”

Interesting question your grace, she so badly wanted to reply, but she settled for something more ladylike.

”I was craving much needed company. ” She said, the conclusive tone of her voice meant she did not wish to discuss the topic further. She was hardly a shy Miss.

”In my office, now! ” Her father commanded.

With as much dignity as she could muster, which wasn much, Elodie picked up her skirts by an inch or so, and made her way to the office.

With every step she took her knees trembled. Calm down Elodie, she reassured herself, he probably wants to give you another neck breaking lecture that you won have to listen to, just keep calm. She said to herself, disbelieving her own words.

The rest of the peregrination passed by in a blur until they took their seats.

”Eloise Clermont… ”

”Its Elodie, ” blast her stupid mouth, now he is upset.

”… you are huge disappointment to yourself and you need to start… ”

hmmm, whenever did father grow so thin, and that moustache doesn suit him at all. I wonder what his valet was thinking. It must be a trend. I wonder if Michael has one too, it won look so good on Matthew thats for sure. Its been a while, I miss them so, she sighed, oops bloody mistake, now he will know I wasn …

”… listening to a word I just said? ” he was saying, expecting her to repeat some part of the discussion.

”I am a huge disappointment, ”

”and? ”

”a disgrace to mankind, ” guessing things from his usual speeches.

”and? ”

ha, this is easy, ”I am not ladylike in anyway whatsoever. ” She said with a triumphant grin.

”I didn say that today. ” Her father said grimly.

Elodie sobered a little, just a little.

”You are going to London for a season. ”

Silence descended on the room. That seemed to be happening a lot today.

”Did you hear me? ” Her father said angrily, thinking she was daydreaming again.

”Yes I did, ” her voice coming out almost like a whisper. She knew this day would come, but somewhere within her, she wanted to live in Hornby Castle forever. Why couldn she? Her brother would soon inherit it, father wasn getting any younger and his health certainly wasn in good shape.

”You must get married before the third of July. ” Now, she thought, he must be mad. Today is the fifth of April. How on earth did he expect her to meet, fall in love and marry someone in about three months from now.

”You don go looking for love. Your mother and I were never in love, yet look how well we turned out. ”

Wow, what an excellent example her parents were, considering the fact that one of them is now dead!

”Considering the fact that you are a spinster, your options for a husband are limited, but I still won settle for anyone who is untitled. And no Viscounts and Barons, if you bring anyone below an Earl, I won take it lightly. ”

”What? ”

”Are you short of hearing? I said, you need to… ”

”I heard you, ” Elodie replied, clearly just as frustrated as her father was at this point.

”I thought I was just going to have a season in London. No one said anything about finding a husband and I am hardly a spinster. ”

”Well then, you are not as smart as I thought ” her father said resisting the urge to roll his eyes, ”no one goes to a season, especially a young lady, with the intention of just going and you are a spinster, you will be 22 in may. ”

”No, I will be 21 in June. ” Elodie answered, ”I will need an escort. ”

”Take your governess. ” After what seemed like an eternity, Elodie stood up and started making her way to the door.

”Elodie, ” he called. She turned, actually surprised that he got her name right, ”don fancy yourself in love with anyone. By all means, don fall in love. ”

Clermont house,

Cavendish Square,

London.

It has been two days since father left for the country side, why hadn he heard anything? And more importantly, where is Elodie?

Michael thought he made it very clear to the old geezer that he wanted his sister in London as soon as possible. Two days was a day too long, although he knew Elodie won take it lightly. Hornby Castle was more her home than anyone elses. She had lived there her whole life, but he would be damned if he had to take anymore of this suspense.

”What are you brooding about? ” Matthew, the bane of his existence, also his younger brother, interrupted his thoughts. He shot Matthew a look that could frighten a lesser man, to which he returned one of his dashing smiles. They looked too alike, he and his brother. The same brown hair not quite like Elodies auburn one, the same green eyes a lot darker than Elodies by comparison, and similar stature, though Matthew was about an inch taller.

”Its been two days, ” Michael said like that was enough for an explanation.

”So? ” Matthew asked, obviously needing more clarity.

”So, she was supposed to be in London yesterday. Frankly, I don trust father, I don know he has planned, apparently its nothing worth looking forward to. ”

”I think you are over thinking this, ” Matthew said putting on a relaxed facade, Michael knew he was just as tensed as he was.

”I am sending a note to Madame Anne immediately… ”

”God, she still works there. ”

”… don interrupt me while Im speaking. She will know if father made it there… or not. ” He continued his scribblings, too engrossed to notice that a third person had joined them.

She wore a deep blue traveling dress and a rather confused expression on her face. Her eyes darted round the room taking everything in. Matthew had gotten up in the name of good etiquette, but he could hardly recognize the young lady.

”Michael, Are you expecting someone? ” Matthew asked still looking at this stranger.

She smiled suddenly, now Matthew was very suspicious of the stranger.

”Michael? ” She called out this time. A spark of recognition flew across the room from her, to Michael and then to clueless Matthew.

”Elodie, my God. ” Michael crossed the room with quick strides and gave his sister a tight squeeze conveying how much he missed her.

Thank the good Lord, they are both clean shaven, then she laughed at the direction of her thoughts, after setting eyes on them for the first time in two years.

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