Lady Katherine Chance walked along the boulevard of Hedge Grove Downs, the only town that she had ever known. She tipped her face up to the sun, so that she could feel the warmth upon her skin. Her younger sister, Elizabeth, was at her side.
“So many people in town today,” Elizabeth said.
“With such exquisite weather, can you blame them?” Katherine asked.
“Is that a new bonnet?”
“I purchased it yesterday,” Katherine replied.
“It’s very becoming on you,” Elizabeth said with a frown.
Katherine turned and looked at her sister, noting the sad expression on her face. It was a new phenomenon since Elizabeth had gotten older. Katherine found that her sister was always remarking that she would never be as pretty as her. Katherine was always trying to tell Elizabeth that she was, indeed, a beauty, but her younger sister was not having it.
They were very similar in appearance, so Katherine didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Katherine was of a middling height, slim build, with brown hair and curious green eyes. Elizabeth was much the same, although her hair was more golden than brown. Naturally, because Elizabeth was younger, she still had a girlish build, whereas Katherine was becoming accustomed to her new, more womanly form.
“Shall we get a lolly?” Katherine asked, knowing that Elizabeth cared for sweets.
“I suppose,” Elizabeth replied coquettishly.
“The sweet shop is right this way,” Katherine said, pointing over to a cobbled street on their right. She smiled to herself. Although Hedge-Grove Downs was not a large town, it still had everything to offer that a girl might want. There were numerous dress shops, milliners, fine markets with local fruit and vegetables, pastry shops, cafes, and of course, the sweet shops. Katherine knew that she was perhaps too old to indulge in her love of sweets, but considering that she was as free as a bird, she may as well do what made her smile.
“Do you think that mum and dad would mind?” Elizabeth asked as they entered the shop, hearing the jingle of the door as they did so.
“Oh, I think that mum and dad wish for us to be happy,” Katherine replied pleasantly.
“Going on a trip to Paris would make me happy. Do you suppose that we should tell them that, so that they can take us?”
“You’re always testing your limits, you little bug,” Katherine said, pinching her sister’s cheek.
“Ouch, that hurts,” Elizabeth said, twisting her nose.
“You’ll get past it.”
Although Katherine was the ripe age of 19 and Elizabeth merely 15, they were still too old to be carrying on like schoolgirls, but Katherine reasoned that there was something about being around her younger sister that brought out the child in her. They had always gotten on well, the two of them. Despite the fact that Elizabeth sometimes could be precocious, Katherine found that she enjoyed being in Elizabeth’s company, for her sister was, indeed, her best friend.
Looking around the shop, Katherine closed her eyes and took in the aroma of fresh chocolate, sugar, spices, and fruit. There were candies in every colour of the rainbow, but Katherine would only select one lolly for herself and one for her sister. She was the keeper of the purse, after all.
“Peppermint swirl,” Elizabeth said to the fellow behind the counter.
“And I’ll have the lemon drop, please,” Katherine said. The two of them eagerly waited as the man behind the counter procured their chosen selections, and then proceeded to place them into parchment paper. “Oh, that won’t be necessary. We’ll be enjoying them this very moment.”
“Very well,” the fellow replied with a smile, handing the lollies over the counter. Katherine gave him the required coinage and the two sisters were back on the street in no time.
“I want lemonade,” Elizabeth said.
“Are you truly going to say that with a lolly in your hand?” Katherine said in dismay.
“I like what I like,” Elizabeth replied, lifting her brows as though she were a queen.
It was the kind of lazy afternoon that Katherine had known all of her life. Her father, Lord Dennis Chance, Baron of Glower, was a simple, humble man. Although he was a gentleman with modest means, he did not flaunt his money nor did he spend it carelessly. Because their home and outlook on life were humble, it allowed the Chance family to enjoy lazy days walking through town, or going out into the countryside that surrounded it. The Chance home was a five-minute carriage ride from High Street, and a pleasant 30-minute walk. There were plenty of grand homes in the country surrounding Hedge-Grove Downs, but Katherine and Elizabeth did not mingle much with those of the upper echelons. They preferred to keep to themselves, reading books by the fire and putting on little plays at home.
Lady Sybil Chance, Baroness of Glower, was also a very down-to-earth personage, with simple attire and tastes. She was a devoted wife and mother, although from time-to-time she could be prone to fits of nerves; mostly in regards to the future of her daughters. Lady Sybil wished for them to marry well but she knew that, since her husband was a simple Baron, their prospects might not be ideal. Katherine would try to console her when the nerves took over, expressing to her mother that she was in no hurry to marry, nor did she even have a taste for it. This would, sadly, only make Lady Sybil’s nerves worse, from what Katherine could see.
“How is your treat?” Katherine asked.
“Scrumptious,” Elizabeth replied.
“Shall we walk back home now?”
“It’s such a fine day. Can’t we stay out a bit longer?”
“Mum will be upset if we’re late for tea,” Katherine advised.
“Well, I’ve quite spoiled my appetite already, haven’t I?”
“Yes, you have. As have I.”
Tea was always simple in the Chance household, just as everything else was, but the family would take tea together religiously every day. The fare consisted of light sandwiches, homemade biscuits, and occasionally some cups of soup for dipping. Lady Sybil would make this repast by hand, seeing as there was no cook in the Chance household.
“Let’s walk through the garden,” Katherine finally said, thinking it the perfect opportunity to finish their lollies before venturing home.
“That’s a fine idea,” Elizabeth replied.
Hedge-Grove Downs had a remarkable town garden that was open to all, and in the summer it had some of the most delightful flowers in bloom. It was quite renowned for its rose garden, which was blooming at this time of year. Although it was the perfect season for a stroll in the garden, Katherine found that her favorite time was still autumn, when there would be fewer passers-by on foot. It was during that time that the leaves would fall gently from the trees and leave their yellow, orange, and red stamps upon the ground. Katherine was fond of taking a book in the fall to sit on a bench for the length of an afternoon.
“You’re nearly done with your candy,” Katherine said in shock, looking at her sister.
“It was quite refreshing.”
“Here, finish this,” Katherine said, handing it to Elizabeth.
“Truly?” Elizabeth asked, her eyes wide with wonder.
“Truly. It’s hurting my teeth.”
Entering the garden, a big, delighted smile was painted on Katherine’s face. The smell of roses filled the air and everywhere she turned there were mothers pushing prams, and husbands sitting on benches thinking everything quite dull. They found a clearing that led to Katherine’s favorite statue, a depiction of Hercules, and she led her sister there. No sooner had they stepped into the clearing than Katherine saw a ball roll in front of them, followed by a young lad who couldn’t have been more than 6 years old.
“Come back!” the boy cried, hurling himself towards it. Just as he was about to grab it, he came careening down to the ground, face-first.
“Oh, no!” Katherine cried, seeing that the boy went down quite hard.
“Ahhh!” the boy began to cry, rolling onto his back so that he was facing the sky, his expression one of agony.
“Is everything all right?” Katherine asked, coming to where the boy lay and kneeling down next to him. She placed her hand upon his forehead to console him.
The boy had his hands to his face whilst he cried, but upon removing them and looking up at Katherine, something stirred within her. Katherine went dumb, unable to speak any further. Something about the boy’s face . . .
“Ho there!” an elderly woman cried, clearly out of breath. “What have you gotten yourself into now?” she asked, and Katherine noted that the old maid had a slight cockney accent.
“Ahhhh!” the boy continued to cry, bringing his hands to his face once more.
“I saw him fall,” Katherine explained, moving back to give the old maid some space. “He was chasing after his ball, and I’m afraid he had the most frightful face-plant.”
“He’s always gettin’ himself into one trouble or another,” the woman said, shaking her head.
“Not again,” Katherine heard a voice say, and looked up to discover a girl no older than 13, by her estimation. She had dark brown hair and sparkling blue eyes.
“Yes, it’s happened all over again!” the old maid wailed.
“At least he didn’t run into Hercules,” Katherine heard another voice say, and looked up to find a rather tall, impressive man wearing a high hat. From his apparel and general bearing, Katherine assumed that he was a titled man of some means.
“He could very well have,” the maid said. “And perhaps it would have served him right.”
“Now, now, Rebecca,” the man said to the maid, his tone steady and serious. “It’s important not to say such things.”
“Very well,” the maid said. From the interaction Katherine could tell that the tall man was the one in charge, and most likely this Rebecca’s employer.
“We do apologise for the disturbance,” the man said, and Katherine was taken aback by how impossibly deep his voice was.
“It’s no trouble,” Katherine replied, finally getting up from her kneeling position. “The poor fellow couldn’t help himself. He wanted nothing in the world so much as that ball,” she quipped. The man smiled warmly.
“He’s rather into sport, this one,” the man added, looking down at the boy. “I’m Lord Roland de Bowes, Duke of Easterly. This is my daughter, Lady Constance de Bowes,” Lord Roland said, motioning towards his daughter who gave a curtsy. “And this is Rebecca.”
“How do you do,” Rebecca said with a flourish.
“Such a pleasure to meet you, Lord Roland. I am Lady Katherine Chance, and this is my sister, Lady Elizabeth.”
“I have not heard of the Chance name,” Lord Roland said.
“I’m not surprised,” Katherine replied humorously.
Just then, Katherine looked down at the boy’s face once more and felt every muscle in her body freeze. Something stirred within her chest that she could not describe.
“I almost forgot,” the duke went on. “This is Lord Harry,” he said, picking the boy up into his arms. “Future Duke of Easterly.”
“It’s a mighty fine pleasure to meet you, Lord Harry,” Katherine said, seeing that his eyes were now dry and the tears were gone.
“Pleasure to meet you,” Harry said, before becoming shy and turning his face into his father’s chest.
“Once again, I’m sorry that he gave you a fright,” the duke went on. “I predict that this boy will be giving me frights for the rest of my days.”
“Time will tame him,” Katherine replied warmly.
“I take it that you’re too young to have children of your own,” the duke said.
“I’m not entirely sure that I’m too young, but I do not have children of my own, no. I do wish to have them in the future. I’m a great lover of children,” Katherine replied, then looked to Elizabeth, who had a curious expression upon her face as though she had never heard her sister say such a thing. And it was true, Katherine had never expressed that she was a lover of children, but there was something about that boy . . .
“They do bring joy to one’s life,” the duke expressed. “Albeit with a few headaches here and there. It’s a great deal of responsibility.”
“But there is joy in that responsibility.”
Just then another figure approached the little troupe, and the gentleman in question took Katherine’s breath away even more than Harry had. The man was similar in appearance to the duke, leading Katherine to believe that it must be his brother. He was impossibly tall, even taller than the duke himself, with chocolate brown hair and warm brown eyes. Although the duke had a pleasant expression upon his face, the second fellow seemed to be scowling.
“I’m off,” the man said, pulling out a pocket watch and checking the time. “I shall be late if I stay.”
“Do as you must,” the duke replied.
“I’ll be back in town anon,” he said, turning to leave.
“Before you go,” Lord Roland said, “I’d like to introduce you to Lady Katherine Chance and her sister, Lady Elizabeth.” The fellow seemed annoyed that his brother was stopping him mid-stride, but he did turn and coldly bowed his head to each of them. Katherine noted that he barely made any eye contact as he did so. “This is my brother,” Lord Roland went on, “Lord Garret de Bowes.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Katherine said, curtsying.
“Very well, then,” Lord Garret said, looking into Katherine’s eyes for one brief instant before hastily walking away. Katherine watched as he then stopped and walked back towards her. “My apologies,” he said with a bow of the head. “I can be rather abrupt.”
“It’s quite all right,” Katherine replied. Lord Garret paused and stared at her before turning and leaving once more.
What an intriguing man.
“My brother always has meetings to attend to, discussing one matter or another. Half the time, I don’t know what his meetings are about,” the duke said affably.
“He seems like a very busy man.”
“That he is, and has always been that way. Oh well, what can we do? Everyone in this world is of a different temperament.”
“Indeed,” Katherine replied with a smile.
They all pleasantly bid their adieus, with Katherine waving goodbye to Harry. As the duke and his family left that area of the garden, Katherine thought it amusing how open and warm the duke was.
“Is that common?” Elizabeth asked.
“What?” Katherine replied as they exited the garden, as well.
“For dukes to engage in friendly chats with lowly commoners.”
“Oh, come now. He’s not a king.”
“No, but he’s the Duke of Easterly. I’ve heard the name before, and it’s something of a big to-do that he was speaking to you that way.”
“Well, Harry was the cause,” Katherine reasoned. “Had he not fallen down so, there would have been no reason for the duke to engage in conversation with us.”
“I suppose that makes sense,” Elizabeth replied.
As they continued to walk along the dusty road that led to their home, Katherine couldn’t help but think of Harry, and when those thoughts were extinguished, she thought of Lord Garret de Bowes. His appearance was akin to the Hercules statue that was nearby. Never had Katherine seen a more impressive figure, or one so serious. The duke’s brother seemed like the kind of fellow that one could only admire from afar.
“Oh, we’re going to be so terribly late for tea,” Katherine realised, breaking into a rushed walk that was verging on a run.
“Mum will be so cross,” Elizabeth added.
“Come along, then,” Katherine said, her chest heaving.
“I’m trying, but you’re going too fast!” Elizabeth protested.
The two girls continued to hold up their skirts and run home as fast as they possibly could. Although Lady Sybil might be cross, Katherine reasoned that it had been such a pleasant afternoon and such a pleasure meeting Harry and the Duke of Easterly that she did not mind it so much.
“Do you suppose there will be ham sandwiches?” Elizabeth asked, nearly out of breath.
“I do hope so,” Katherine replied.
“Because I know that yesterday,” Elizabeth went on, barely audible over her breathing, “there was only chicken. I don’t care for chicken.”
“Must we talk of food when we can barely speak?” Katherine asked, opening the gate to the Chance home’s front lawn.
“I always talk of food,” Elizabeth said, stopping her run and bringing her hands to her knees to hunch over.
They both walked up the stone path that led to the house, past remarkable shrubbery on each side. Although Lord Dennis Chance did put work into tending the grounds, things would often overgrow during the summer and the Baron of Glower couldn’t bear to hire any help in that matter. And so, their modest home seemed to be surrounded and consumed by a kind of forest.
“I’m famished,” Elizabeth said as they entered the home, placing a hand on her belly.
“You’re famished after two lollies?”
“One and a half.”
The two girls took off their bonnets and gloves, placing them on the entryway rack.
“Who goes there?” Lord Dennis’ voice cried out.
“I’m sorry that we’re late,” Katherine said, still mildly out of breath.
“I was beginning to have a spasm,” Lady Sybil said, bringing a hand to her chest. “Wherever have you been?”
“We were in town, mum,” Katherine said, coming to the table and seating herself. Elizabeth did the same. “I told you.”
“Yes, but I didn’t expect you to arrive at quarter past three.”
“We decided to take a stroll in the garden,” Katherine said, watching as her mother poured tea and brought over the trays of sandwiches.
“It’s lovely this time of year,” Elizabeth added.
“That it is,” Lord Dennis said, as sweet and unassuming as ever.
As the Chance family enjoyed their tea and delighted in conversation, Lady Sybil’s nerves having finally calmed, there was only one thing on Katherine’s mind that she wished to speak of.
The Duke of Easterly stepped into the rather palatial home known as Bonhomie. There were deep French roots in the de Bowes family, and these could be seen in subtle design touches throughout the home, and the propensity for having French cuisine for supper. Lord Roland was a dutiful man, yet still, considering all that had happened to their family, he wished to maintain a lighthearted mien for the sake of his children, Harry and Constance. They were wayward children. Lord Roland understood the little rebellions. It was perhaps his own fault, considering that they never had the same governess from one season to the next.
The duke’s brother, Lord Garret, insisted that the children needed a stable governess in order to be brought up well, but Lord Roland simply did as he chose, letting a governess go if for even one moment he sensed that his wife would not like them. There was a great deal of instinct involved in this process, and the duke found that his instincts always said ‘no.’
“Here we go, then,” Rebecca said, directing the children into the tearoom. Bonhomie had separate rooms for breakfast, tea, and supper. Anyone in Britain would admit that this was an extravagance, but considering how many rooms there were at Bonhomie, it became rather fitting to designate a different spot for each of these meals. The tearoom faced the west, and therefore had tremendous sunlight in the afternoon. Naturally, the breakfast room faced the east, and the supper hall faced north, looking out towards the garden.
The duke looked at Rebecca and frowned. He didn’t like the old maid one bit. Her cockney accent got on his nerves and her general comportment seemed unfitting for his children. Lord Garret had told the duke on several occasions that it was best to find an old governess because a bright young thing would probably up and get married at a moment’s notice. He listened to his brother’s words but he didn’t like the outcome. The duke would have much preferred to have a bright, young thing around the house, if only to bring some life and beauty to it.
Not that Bonhomie needed much more beauty, for it was considered the most beautiful estate in Hedge-Grove Downs. Lord Garret, being the serious, business-minded fellow that he was, even suggested that they open the grounds to visitors for a small fee, and that this income could go towards the upkeep of the home. The duke wrote all of that off as nonsense, since the de Bowes’ name was in no need of funds and the idea of having strangers walking on his lawn was inconceivable.
“Take that!” the duke heard Harry scream in the tearoom, and then there was a great crashing of something.
“Stop it, you!” Rebecca protested.
“That hurt!” Constance cried out.
Lord Roland sighed to himself. Sometimes it was all far too overwhelming. Harry was an upstart, it seemed, and he was always taking things out on his older sister, who would scream and protest that she should be the one doing the bullying since she was so much older than he. She was a lovely girl, Lady Constance, but she needed guidance. Rarely would she confide in her father and she most certainly wouldn’t confide in any one of her numerous governesses.
“The two of you!” Rebecca cried out.
“You can’t blame me,” Constance protested.
Lord Roland needed some space. The sound of his children and their governess screaming at teatime was too much to bear. He ordered that his own tea be brought to his study where he could finally enjoy a moment’s peace and think of what he would do next.
Once in the study, the tea was quickly brought in upon a tray and served at his desk. The servant departed and the door behind him was closed. Lord Roland heaved a sigh of relief and sat in his rather large leather chair, taking his first sip of Darjeeling.
“Bloody Nora,” the duke said to himself, thinking of how chaotic the afternoon had been. He would not have been surprised if Harry had gone careening into that Hercules statue. Then, his thoughts returned to the lovely young woman and her sister who had been there to see Harry’s fall. Such a pretty face on the older one, and the younger one was fair as well, albeit quiet. The duke would make a note to look up the Chance family name to see whether or not Katherine Chance’s father had a title. Funny that he had never heard of them before, but the duke reasoned that he had a very tight network of friends and often that made it difficult to meet those who weren’t considered traditionally “important,” in the sense.
Katherine Chance seemed to take to Harry. The duke could tell that she had a special fondness for him. He thought that if Katherine could see him on the prowl in Bonhomie, her affections for the little lad might change. Often it was the way with women; they admired children that weren’t their own, merely because of fancy and fantasy.
As Lord Roland continued to sip his tea, he felt his nerves calm. There were no more sounds of crashing and banging from the tearoom, and he sincerely hoped that Rebecca was engaging them in their afternoon lessons. The duke looked up at the ceiling; so vast and dark overhead. The study was the darkest and the coolest room in the house and the duke preferred it this way. Everywhere else in Bonhomie, there was a great deal of natural light and several tapers and chandeliers for evening light.
Sitting there enjoying the silence, and reminiscing about the conversation that took place in the garden, the duke became rather curious about Lady Katherine Chance.
“You’ll never believe who we encountered in the garden,” Elizabeth said, beating Katherine to the chase.
“Who?” Lord Dennis asked.
“None other than the Duke of Easterly!”
“My word,” Lady Sybil said, her brows lifting.
“I had never heard of the fellow,” Katherine said.
“You had never heard of the Duke of Easterly?” Lady Sybil asked. “He’s the wealthiest man in town.”
“Why should I care if he’s the wealthiest man in town?” Katherine asked.
“Oh, Kat. You’re such a country bumpkin,” Elizabeth replied, rolling her eyes.
“I’m not a country bumpkin,” Katherine explained. “I’m merely not interested in such matters.”
“You’ve got a good head on your shoulders,” Lord Dennis said with a nod.
“Well, whatever did he say?” Lady Sybil asked, as though it were the juiciest piece of gossip that she had ever heard.
“He was talking to Katherine the whole time,” Elizabeth said with a frown, as though she found it displeasing.
“But you didn’t say a word,” Katherine protested.
“I was dumbstruck.”
“The duke’s little son was there,” Katherine explained. “A young boy by the name of Harry. He was chasing after his ball and tripped and fell right in front of us. His governess came rushing in, followed by the duke.”
“And the duke’s brother,” Elizabeth added.
“That’s right,” Katherine said, recalling the strikingly handsome man.
“Was the duke kind?” Lady Sybil asked.
“Oh yes,” Katherine replied. “He was most kind. He wished that his son had not been any trouble, and I assured him that the boy was not.”
“They had this funny old maid with this terrible accent, and she was flushed and sweating like a pig!” Elizabeth said.
“Come, now,” Katherine said, thinking it not fair to tease the woman.
“But it’s true. She looked as though she had just survived a hurricane.”
“Children can be a lot of work,” Lady Sybil said under her breath. “I would imagine that is a new maid.”
“What do you mean?” Katherine asked.
“The de Bowes household goes through several of them.”
“There’s some speculation, but seeing as I’m not one to gossip,” Lady Sybil added, tilting her nose into the air, “I shan’t be going into details. Suffice it to say that Bonhomie does not hold onto its help for long when it concerns the children.”
“Bonhomie?” Katherine asked.
“Do you not know anything?” Elizabeth said with a laugh.
“Bonhomie is the family estate, darling,” Lady Sybil said. “It’s considered one of the grandest estates in the area.”
“I suppose I’ve been living under a rock all these years,” Katherine said with a smile.
“No, darling, you’ve just had your nose in a book.” Lord Dennis uttered this with a great deal of admiration.
“It’s something that I’m not un-proud of,” Katherine replied.
Thinking things over whilst she ate her ham sandwich, the very sandwich that Elizabeth was hoping for, Katherine couldn’t help but think that perhaps she should have been more official and less relaxed during her encounter with the duke. She hoped that he did not think her disrespectful for acting the way that she had done. Did Katherine not curtsy low enough? Should she have called him ‘Your Grace?’ Katherine was not the kind of person to question her interactions with anyone, but her mother and sister were making her reconsider things.
“I want to live at Bonhomie,” Elizabeth said wistfully.
“Then perhaps we should get you to marry the Duke of Easterly,” Katherine teased.
“Eww,” Elizabeth replied, twisting her nose. “Although he’s quite handsome, he’s far too old for me,” she added precociously.
It was true. Lord Roland was too old for Elizabeth, but come to think of it, Katherine’s perspective on the duke’s age was rather different. From what she could tell, he was no more than 5 and thirty years. Perhaps even younger. Although he was still rather young, there was an air about him of a man who has experienced much, and has taken on the weight of responsibility in his life.
“There was a brother as well,” Elizabeth said, and Katherine felt a little wave of heat come over her.
“Lord Garret de Bowes,” Lady Sybil said with a nod of the head.
“He was very rude,” Elizabeth went on. “He scarcely said a word and rushed off after a very short greeting.”
“He had somewhere to go,” Katherine said, defending him. But why should she do so? How Lord Garret had behaved had been rather rude.
“Still, he seemed stuffy.”
“The younger brother is notorious for being so,” Lady Sybil said.
“Is he?” Katherine asked.
“Oh, yes. Since he was a wee lad. Lord Garret is rather serious-minded.”
Katherine found herself wondering just how much younger Lord Garret was. He was taller than the duke, and there was an added heft to his frame as well, in a sportsmanlike fashion. Perhaps he was as young as 8 and twenty.
“Well, I find it peculiar that everyone seems to know so much about their family,” Katherine went on.
“That’s how things work in this country,” Lord Dennis chimed in. “Everyone knows everything about everyone.”
“Except for Katherine,” Elizabeth teased, “who knows nothing.”
Katherine thought to herself that she didn’t know anything and that was fine by her. Why should there be any need to put one’s nose in another’s business? It seemed uncivil and unnecessary. That being said, there was a question burning in Katherine’s mind that she was quite certain her mother had the answer to. Why was it that the Duke of Easterly was in that garden with his children and his maid? Essentially, what had happened to the Duchess of Easterly? Katherine wished to bring up this topic but wasn’t sure how to do it without looking like the very snoop that she just reprimanded.
“I suppose . . . the duke finds himself overwhelmed. What with being the only parent and such,” Katherine said casually, wishing that this would somehow open the floodgates of gossip. Sure enough, she watched as her mother took a sip of her tea, placed it back down upon the saucer, and then let loose.
“The story goes like this,” Lady Sybil began. “The Duchess of Easterly was a fine young woman, and loved her husband dearly. They wished to have several children but they found after the birth of Constance that it was rather hard to have another. When she became pregnant with the son some years later, it brought much joy to the duke and duchess. Sadly, his wife’s body could not handle having that second child and she was lost during childbirth. The son survived.”
“My word,” Katherine said in awe, amazed by how many details her mother knew.
“Yes, it is quite the story. I know for certain that the duke has had to hire several governesses and maids for those children. He is a rather busy man, and no duke should be given the huge responsibility of raising their children on their own.”
“I should like to work at Bonhomie. As a governess.”
The words flew out of Katherine’s mouth before she had even had a chance to consider them. All three of her family members turned towards her, their eyes wide in wonder.
“What’s that you say?” Lady Sybil asked.
“I said, I should like to be a governess. To his children.”
There was silence again that followed, before Elizabeth calmly picked up a ham sandwich and took a bite.
“I’m not surprised,” Elizabeth finally said. “If you knew the way that she was looking at that boy.”
“At young Harry?” Lady Sybil asked.
“The same,” Elizabeth replied.
“I just mean that it would be fun to be a governess, would it not?” Katherine said, trying to retrace her steps. “To have that youthful energy around you all day. To be able to teach them to read and write. I think it would be a good profession.”
“You don’t need a profession,” Lady Sybil said in dismay.
“I know that I don’t need a profession, but I do want one. What’s the point in sitting around idly all day long?”
“You like being idle,” Lady Sybil said with a frown.
“Yes, but it’s not a life. I think that I would make a good governess.”
In the silence that followed, the family returned to enjoying their tea and the topic of Katherine wishing to be a governess at Bonhomie was not mentioned again. Katherine knew full-well that her mother wished for her to marry, and soon. She assumed that her father had the same hopes, but he kept quiet about it. Deep down, Katherine sensed that Lord Dennis wished for whatever made her happy.
The notion of becoming a governess had sprung up unawares. Katherine had never considered it before, nor did she think the position was even available, considering that Harry already had a maid to look after him. Still, from the look on the duke’s face, Katherine could tell that he was perhaps not fond of Rebecca. The more she thought of it, the more that Katherine assumed that her impromptu idea was utter nonsense and she decided to let it pass. The tea was concluded and everyone in the Chance household went their separate ways. Lord Dennis went to his study, which was small and cramped, Lady Sybil went out into the garden to pick peas, and Elizabeth went to her room to do heaven-knows-what. Katherine was left by herself to consider things. Her sudden desire to be a governess brought several things to her attention, but the most prominent one was that Katherine finally wished to get out of the house.
This desire had never arisen in her before. For most of her life, there was no other place that she wished to be other than in the Chance household. There was very little else out in the world that called to her to venture out for. But something happened to Katherine that afternoon upon seeing Harry and meeting the Duke of Easterly. Then, returning home to hear his story only made it more clear to Katherine that she was ready for a new life. She was ready for an adult life of her own in a new place, where she could finally discover herself and become the woman that she was supposed to be.
It was then that Katherine decided that there was something very important that she wished to speak to her mother about, and that very night. No, she would not tell Lady Sybil about how she wished to remove herself from the house. Katherine was sure that this would immediately bring tears to her mother’s eyes. Instead, Katherine would talk with her about this other, more important issue that had been weighing upon her all day.
Lord Garret de Bowes had finished his final meeting for the day and stepped out into the streets of Hedge-Grove Downs. He’d need to return to London the following day, and perhaps make his way to Paris after that. Engaging in so much business was absolutely necessary, considering how his brother had washed his hands of all of it. Lord Garret reasoned that it wasn’t so much that his brother didn’t care, it was that he was constantly overwhelmed since the death of his wife and his vision had been eschew ever since.
Duty called after the tragedy and Lord Garret, who was living a rather comfortable life studying law at Cambridge, decided to throw it all away in order to help his older brother. Looking back on things, Lord Garret still felt the decision to be unintelligible to the outside eye. He was set to live the life of his dreams, but something within him did not fully trust his brother to uphold the Easterly dukedom.
Walking down the boulevard, Lord Garret came upon the garden that he had joined his brother in that very afternoon. It had been frustrating, that afternoon visit. The duke’s children were ornery and the maid no less so. Lord Garret was relieved to get out when he did. He then briefly thought of the lovely creature that he had been introduced to at the statue of Hercules.
Seating himself upon a bench, a rather small dog, apparently without owner, approached Lord Garret and gave a little bark.
“What’s the matter, old chap?” Lord Garret asked, reaching down and picking the creature up in his arms. The dog did not bark again, but remained placid and content in his arms.
“All the lass needs is a little attention and care,” an elderly man said, approaching Lord Garret.
“She is yours?”
“For better or for worse,” the man replied.
All she needs is a little attention and care. Wise words.
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Katherine Chance is a humble lady who adores children. Upon running into the son of Roland de Bowes, the Duke of Easterly, something secret and mysterious stirs within her. She can’t help but sign for the job of governess at Bonhomie,where the Duke’s estate is located. What she didn’t expect though were the intense and inspiring emotions sparked by Lord Garret, the Duke’s handsome brother. Will this sizzling passion cost her position? Or will she find a way to tame her feelings?
Family is the most precious thing for Lord Garret, who is a remarkably serious and proud man. After the death of his sister in law, he came to a conclusion that his brother is unable to take care of the estate. Even though Lord Garret regards Katherine with suspicion when she is hired, as time goes by, he can’t hide his tremendous admiration and desire for her. Will this rigid man lay aside his doubts for a chance to love passionately?
Although Katherine and Lord Garret find themselves madly in love, it only takes one miscommunication for it to be torn apart. Is Lord Garret strong enough to admit to his weaknesses, and keep Katherine at Bonhomie, not as a governess, but as his bride? For Lord Garret de Bowes, it will take admitting to himself that his heart is captured. For Katherine, it means succumbing to the greatest love she has ever known. Will their love overcome society’s expectations? Or will they accept fate and distance themselves forever?
“Risky Rules of a Passionate Governess” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.