At a Physician’s Touch
Helena pushed the door and held it open for her friend to enter. Miss Justina had taken the dresses and hats they bought at the market to her room a few minutes ago. Helena watched as Lady Lavinia struggled to carry her luggage and still walk with a graceful gait. It was a comedic and impossible task. Lady Lavinia pushed the door to a close with the back of her feet and sauntered to the collection of cushions in the middle of the parlour. Helena couldn’t hold back the laughter. Lady Lavinia looked at her friend with mock anger in her eyes.
“What’s so funny?”
“Nothing is. I just don’t understand why you refused to leave the clothes in your coach,” Helena replied.
“I told you before. I want to test them on me,” Lady Lavinia said.
Helena shook her head.
“You could have tested them at home too. I don’t know why you are always so eager to try on new clothes,” Helena said.
Lady Lavinia turned up her nose at her friend’s soft chastisement.
“Say what you like. I dare say this brooch really fits that pink dress I bought the other day,” Lady Lavinia said, throwing the brooch to her friend.
Helena caught the brooch which sparkled as light bounced off the minute stones embedded in its tough outer skin. It was red and white. Helena nodded her head.
It will fit really well with that pink dress. It would fit well with my white rayon dress too.
“How about I give you something for this brooch?” Helena asked.
Lady Lavinia raised one eyebrow. A smile slowly spread through her face, and her teeth gleamed through her open lips as she shook her head.
“No, no way,” she said.
“Please, I’ll give you that hat with small dragon images you love so much,” Helena said.
Lady Lavinia walked quickly to her and snatched the brooch out of Helena’s left hand.
“No. Thank you very much.”
Helena was about to speak when she heard footsteps behind her.
Those are Justina’s steps.
The passage was behind the chair Helena was sitting on, so she couldn’t see who it was. She looked to her side just as Miss Justina got to her.
“Did you hang them in my wardrobe?” Helena asked her maid.
“Yes, I did that,” Miss Justina replied.
“Did you see any of my sisters?” Helena asked.
“I couldn’t find Lady Melanie anywhere. She might have gone off with her friends again. Miss Jacqueline was in her room. She’s been attended to by a physician,” Miss Justina said.
Helena looked up to Miss Justina’s face. The dark tone of her skin did not look so striking in the subdued lighting of the parlour. Miss Justina was what Helen always described as a dark beauty.
“Is she being treated right now?” Helena asked.
“Yes ma. I saw him convincing her to drink a small cup of a particular draught. He told the Baroness that Miss Jacqueline would be fine in a couple of days.”
That’s good. I don’t like it when she falls sick, when any of my siblings fall ill.
“Justina, what do you think of this brooch?” Lady Lavinia asked, taking the focus away from the visiting physician.
Miss Justina stared at the brooch which Lady Lavinia had pinned to the breast region of her gown. Her eyes squinted as they always did when she was thinking.
“I think it would look nice on white.”
“I told you, didn’t I? Give me this thing,” Helena blurted.
“And any pink, red, orange, or yellow dress,” Miss Justina continued.
Lady Lavinia said nothing, her eyes goaded enough. Helena scowled and looked at Miss Justina.
“You could have just stopped at white,” she said.
“Did I say something wrong?” Miss Justina said.
Helena was about to answer, but the sound of incoming feet made her turn around. Her mother was in front, leaning back to talk to a young man in a white shirt and grey breeches. The man was young and tall. He spoke with a firmness that signaled authority and assuredness. He cleaned his hand with a napkin and put it into a small, black box an even younger man carried behind him.
That has to be the doctor and his dresser. He’s so young.
The doctor was so focused on his discussion with Helena’s mother that he didn’t notice he was being stared at. Helena saw the dark telltale sign of a moustache on his upper lip as his mouth opened to spew words. He had dark hair, so dark it almost rhymed with the shadows of the passage. When he finally looked up and caught Helena’s gaze, his eyes turned out to be blue absorbing globes.
Doctors aren’t meant to look so good.
Immediately his eyes caught Helena’s, his face broke into an engaging smile. The seriousness of his discussion with her mother was diffused by the ease of his smiling eyes. Helena felt like his eyes were connected directly to hers, pouring in warmth and strength, and another strong emotion she couldn’t describe. His eyes browsed away from hers to look at her friend and maid for only fleeting moments before flying back to her. Helena felt her skin flush. She couldn’t see herself, but she knew her cheeks were red with blushing. She felt an intense sweet feeling, overshadowed by embarrassment. She dropped her gaze.
“And this must be the beautiful Miss Helena everyone is raving about,” said the doctor.
Helena raised her eyes to see the doctor bow stiffly. She composed herself and waited for the doctor to walk across the room before offering him her hand. The doctor held it gently. His hand was soft, moist, and as reassuring as she expected it to be. There was no caress, just a solid grip that lingered for a bit too long. He bent and kissed her hand, sending shots of tension and pleasure to all parts of her body. Helena had never been so impacted on meeting a person for the first time. When he left her hand, she felt his imprint in her palm, the press of his lips into the layers of her skin.
“Yes,” Lady Henrietta Sinclair replied. “She’s my first daughter. And the most stubborn of them all,” she added.
The doctor smiled.
“I was told that she was the smartest of them all, the ravings about her beauty I have confirmed,” the doctor said.
“You flatter me too much with such words, Doctor,” Helena said.
The doctor shook his head. Free strands of his dark hair leapt to each side, taking Helena’s eyes away from his face.
“It couldn’t be flattery if I only spoke truth. You are a fine specimen. I am not much of a fibber, am I?” the doctor said, looking back to the young dresser standing behind him.
The dresser who Helena had completely forgotten spoke from behind the doctor. His voice was high pitched and sprightly.
He sounds like someone who will make a lot of jokes.
“No Doctor, you never lie.”
“Let’s get back to the matter at hand, Dr Frederick. I have another beautiful daughter that is still feeling under the weather,” the Baroness said.
“Yes,” the doctor replied. “Please make her drink that draught, every morning and evening for the next five days. She will feel better from tomorrow onwards. Sometimes the change in season triggers this sort of illness in some people.”
“That’s true. We are commencing summer,” Helena said.
“We are. I’m looking forward to seeing you grace the balls I will attend,” Dr Frederick said.
Helena blushed again and turned to face her friend. Lady Lavinia had her eyes on the doctor. She didn’t see Helena turn to her. Helena turned back to the doctor.
“Of course you will. I hope to attend as many events as I can. I hope to see you there too.”
The doctor nodded his head and gestured to his dresser.
“Good day, ladies.”
He bowed stiffly again before walking out the door with his dresser. Helena sat down on the cushion and listened as his horse neighed and galloped out of the compound. Its hooves pounded hard, causing a clattering sound against the stone floor. When Helena raised her head, she met her mother, Lady Lavinia and Miss Justina staring at her.
“What is it?” she exclaimed.
“You seem to have taken an immediate liking to the young physician,” her mother said.
Helena opened her mouth to refute the statement, but she recognized the set of her mother’s eyes. She was pulling her leg. She closed her mouth.
“It’s obvious she likes him. I’ve never seen Helena stare at a man so much,” Lady Lavinia said.
I’m not letting that comment go.
“I only responded to his comments. I am not so rude such as not to respond to comments that demand answers,” Helena said.
Her mother said nothing; there remained a wry smile on her face.
“He is a very attractive doctor,” Lady Lavinia said.
“Lavinia!” Helena shouted.
Baroness Henrietta smiled widely and turned around.
“I’ll take that as my signal to leave you young women to your gossip. I have a daughter to tend to,” she said before walking down the corridor.
Helena watched her mother walk till out of eyesight before turning to her friend.
“You really have to learn to bridle your mouth, Lavinia. I wonder how you hope to bring any worthwhile man to scratch if you keep spewing out unrefined statements like that,” Helena said.
“I don’t intend to bring any man to scratch for the near future.”
Miss Justina’s face became swollen with withheld laughter. Helena giggled at her friend’s bluntness.
“You are the last daughter of the Earl of Albemarle. It’s not really an option,” Helena replied.
“I know right. But I will push it for as long as I can. I still enjoy going to dances and having freedom to dance with any man I like. And I wouldn’t be able to make statements such as the one I just made if I was married. I know you don’t fancy marriage so much, so don’t play the devil’s advocate,” Lady Lavinia said.
Helena laughed. She wasn’t going to dive into her thoughts about marriage this afternoon.
“What statement?” Helena asked.
“Do you really want me to repeat it? It was you who shouted my name,” Lady Lavinia.
Helena shook her head at her friend’s free mindset.
“I do enjoy going to the balls without being permanently attached to someone. I don’t fancy being at a man’s beck and call so much,” Helena admitted.
“Of course you do,” Lady Lavinia said.
“But I think it’s because I haven’t fallen in love yet. I have not met a man that will sweep me off my feet.”
Dr Frederick did do something to my legs, even if I’m not off my feet yet.
“You know behind that sturdy head and wise tongue, there was always an airhead,” Lady Lavinia said, pulling the brooch off her chest.
Helena picked a small pillow beside her on the cushion and stoned her friend with it. The pillow hit her on the head and caused her to look up in surprise.
“I’m smarter than you, Lavinia,” Helena said.
Miss Justina picked up the pillow and offered it to Lady Lavinia. Helena was surprised to see her maid do that.
“You offer her the pillow to exact vengeance, Justina. And here I was thinking you a friend and ally,” Helena said playfully.
“I am a friend and ally. I just felt it was turn by turn,” Miss Justina replied softly.
“Thank you, friend and ally,” Lady Lavinia said, tapping Miss Justina on the arm.
Helena turned up her nose and tapped the space beside her.
“Sit here, Justina.”
Miss Justina sat down, the smile on her face from Lady Lavinia’s comments still lingered.
“You are smart because you always read. You are also current with the happenings of the society. I’ll give you that. You are still an airhead, though,” Lady Lavinia said.
Helena just nodded her head. Her mind had wandered back to the feel of the doctor’s eyes on her. He had been respectful and professional. His eyes didn’t wander anywhere suggestive, but Helena felt like he had touched her all over. She imagined the feel of his firm fingers on her sensitive parts, his fingers on her abdomen and breasts. His fingers would rub her nipples in between them till they became hard and taut. His firm finger would wander down and dip in the abyss between her legs. Helena felt hot all over.
I need to see this man again.
Helena reminded herself to ask her mother how they had gotten the services of the young man.
It’s about time I feigned an illness.
Helena smiled at her thoughts.
“Why are you smiling for no reason?” Lady Lavinia said.
Helena shook her head.
“Aren’t you going to try on the remaining dresses? Or should I take some to my chamber to try them on if they fit me?” Helena asked.
Lady Lavinia eyed Helena playfully.
“You had better keep your hands off my clothes,” she replied.
“Do help me take these clothes to Helena’s room, Justina. I want to go try them on there,” Lady Lavinia said.
Miss Justina picked up the heap of clothes, with a few falling off. Lady Lavinia picked the three dresses that fell off and followed Miss Justina as she walked out of the parlour. Helena followed her friends.
The day was at mid afternoon and was getting hotter. Helena used her fingers to trace the ridges on the carved wood of the walls.
“My grandfather had this wood imported from Lebanon. These are top notch Lebanese cedar, so don’t scratch them,” the Baron would always say.
Where is Father anyway?
Helena wondered why her father was becoming quieter of recent. He had not gone out that morning; she was sure he was still inside, but he hadn’t come out when the physician was leaving.
He hasn’t been coming out for anything lately. I’ll check him once Lavinia leaves.
She went into her room after her friend and maid had entered. The white walls of her room were always a welcome sight. The colour soothed her. Helena looked at her image in the big mirror that faced the door. Her red hair was rough; she had not brushed it again that afternoon. It was always roughing up after a few hours of no attention. She saw Lavinia pick another dress from the heap out of the periphery of her eyes while she walked to the mirror to look at herself.
Am I gaining weight?
Her cheeks seemed chubbier than they had been the day before. Her bust was more pronounced.
Surely, it is bigger. Or is it this dress?
Her skin was still bleached white. She always compared herself to Miss Justina whenever she felt she was getting darker. She turned back to look at her maid’s skin, and the dark colour of her skin still opposed her own strikingly. She compared her skin with Lady Lavinia’s. Lady Lavinia’s skin colour was a mild cream, just in between hers and Miss Justina. Helena removed a small thread that had gotten tangled in her hair.
It’s probably from the fabric of Lavinia’s new clothes.
Her white fingers contrasted with the tomato red of her lips. She puckered her lips then eased them again. Her eyes were dry grey. Lady Lavinia once called them the most uninteresting set of eyes in England. But Helena had discovered that the contrast of the deep red of her lips with her nearly colourless eyes mesmerized many men. Her round face with flawless skin just accentuated the effect they had. She was a beautiful woman.
“You could tell me what you think about this shift when you are done admiring yourself,” Lady Lavinia said, budging Helena out of her thoughts.
She had removed the gown she was wearing and had a shift she had just bought on. It was brown and clung tight to her chubby body.
“It’s fine, fits you well,” Helena said.
She watched as her friend, dressed and undressed, trying all the clothes she bought. She criticised how some looked and praised others. Only after making her own decision on them did she ask for Helena and Miss Justina’s thoughts on them. And when they gave a different opinion, she argued against it and reverted back to the initial opinion she had.
“You insist the pink dress is spread too much below the waist. So why do you ask our opinion if it wouldn’t affect what you think?” Helena asked her.
“I just want you to talk so you won’t be bored watching me look good,” Lady Lavinia replied.
Helena shook her head at her friend’s reply.
There is always one cheeky response just below the surface.
Miss Justina walked to Helena.
“I need to prepare hot water for the Baron,” she said under very low tones.
Helena wondered if she didn’t intend Lady Lavinia to hear her speak.
“Why you? What of father’s personal steward?”
“The man has gone to the doctor’s house. He is to collect a draught that will help the Baron sleep better,” Miss Justina said.
Helena was confused.
“Why does Father need to sleep better? And I didn’t know the doctor saw him too.”
“I have been told to keep this secret as much as possible, but you are his daughter, ma’am, so you need to know. The Baron has been feeling weak for more than a week now. Mister Wallace also told me he has been unable to sleep. The Duchess calling for Dr Frederick was to treat the Baron as much as for Miss Jacqueline. She didn’t mention it to you because for some reason the Duchess ordered that no one speaks about it.”
“Why do you gossip about me? Why not tell me what the source of your jealousy is now, instead of speaking behind my back?” Lady Lavinia said to them.
She had removed the last new gown and was back in the dress she originally wore. Helena tapped Miss Justina on the shoulder, signalling her to go.
“Even if you are dressed in the most royal silk, Lavinia, I’ll still be prettier than you,” Helena said.
“That’s the jealousy speaking,” Lady Lavinia replied.
Helena pushed the disturbing news about her father to the back of her mind and walked to the bed. She sat down beside her friend.
“My cousins should be arriving this evening or early tomorrow morning,” Lady Lavinia said.
“Which of your cousins?” Helena asked her.
Lady Lavinia looked at her friend with bewilderment in her eyes. She shook her head and clapped her hands in a show of wonderment.
“How are you so smart anyway?” she asked. “You forget small details so quickly.”
“Are you going to tell me, or are you satisfied with just talking about my forgetfulness?” Helena asked her.
Lady Lavinia shook her head again.
“I told you yesterday that my first cousins on my mother’s side are coming from Ireland, the set of twins?”
Helena remembered that Lady Lavinia had mentioned visiting cousins the day before.
“I remember now. You said they used to visit a lot when you were still children.”
“Yes, they did. Mother tells me the guy is coming with a friend, an Irish prince,” Lady Lavinia said.
“Really, the young man must be really fond of travelling, for him to leave his family just to visit with his friend,” Helena said.
“My thoughts exactly,” Lady Lavinia said.
Both of them kept quiet for a few seconds before Helena broke the silence.
“That means we get to go to the Somerset ball with a full company. Three of us along with your cousins and their friend, that’s a lot of people,” Helena said.
“The more, the merrier,” Lady Lavinia replied.
Helena smiled at her friend’s comment. She had not picked something to wear to the Somerset ball. That was the first ball of the season; she had to make an impression. She doubted Lady Lavinia had bought anything she intended to wear either. The Somerset ball was white themed, and her friend had not bought any white dress.
“We still have to go shopping,” Helena said.
“Of course. I don’t think I have any white dress still in fashion. The ball is coming up at the end of next week. We have to buy our dresses before then,” Lady Lavinia replied.
“It’s good we haven’t bought what we intend to buy. We can all go together, your cousins and their friend inclusive,” Helena said.
Lady Lavinia lay back on the bed and placed her legs on it. She used her feet to ease her shoes off, allowing them to drop on the wooden floor. Helena looked outside. The sinking sun was changing from a bright yellow to a radiant orange. It was low now, sending its rays directly into her room and heating her face. Helena loved the soft sting of the weak rays on her cheeks. It heated her up and made her appreciate the cool that evening brought. She looked at her mirror, but the rays reflected heavily on it. She couldn’t see anything on it.
She thought about her sister and her father. She had wondered when her mother had asked for the physician to be summoned early that morning.
Yes, Jacqueline is ill, but it wasn’t so bad. We’ve all been as ill as that without necessarily getting the physician to come over. We just buy laudanum for the fever, and she gets over it in a few days.
She needed to check on her father. The man had never fallen seriously ill since she had known him. The issue worried her.
“I need to check my sister, Lavinia,” Helena said.
Lady Lavinia did not respond. Helena turned to look at her friend. Lady Lavinia’s chest rose and fell in a gentle vacillating motion. Helena could hear her breathe, steady streams of air that eased out of her mouth and nostrils. Her friend was asleep. Helena walked to her window and closed it a bit. She didn’t want the sun pouring its rays directly on her friend.
“I need to check on my father,” she said.
To Check on Family
Helena stopped at Miss Jacqueline’s door first. She pushed it open and saw her sister sitting upright on her bed. The Baroness was sitting opposite and talking to her.
“You look much better,” Helena said.
Miss Jacqueline nodded.
“I feel better,” she replied.
“There it is,” Helena said.
“There is what?” their mother asked.
“Her voice is still very weak, cracking. That’s the sign she is still recovering,” Helena replied.
“Oh,” the Baroness said softly, “I thought it was something serious.”
“Do you still feel weak?” Helena asked.
“Just a bit; my head still aches,” her sister answered.
Helena walked to her sister’s side and sat on the bed beside her. The heat from her fever radiated to Helena.
“Where is Melanie?” she asked her mother.
“She went off with her friends. They went to one of their houses. I’m not sure which one,” the Baroness replied.
“I hope they took a coach and a driver.”
“Of course, they did.”
Helena placed her palm on her sister’s neck. It was as hot as she expected.
“Why are you up? I expected you to still be lying in bed,” Helena said to her younger sister.
“I am tired of lying down. That’s why I haven’t used the potion the doctor gave me. He said it’ll help me sleep,” Miss Jacqueline responded in a tired sounding voice.
Helena nodded her head and reminded herself to force her sister to drink it before she left the room.
“I wanted to ask, Mother, how did we come to hire this particular physician?” Helena asked.
Her mother smiled.
“He was Dr Terry’s assistant. Dr Terry Agar? Do you remember him?” her mother asked.
“The doctor who was really old. I think you told me he had passed away.”
“Yes, he has. He died a few months back. Well, Dr Frederick Cooper was his assistant. He was already a doctor, but I think he wanted to gain expert knowledge from a trusted doctor who had spent decades treating people of the ton. The few times we needed a doctor, you will remember that we used Dr Terry. Well, he had advised that in the advent he wasn’t around, we use Dr Frederick,” her mother said.
Helena nodded her head.
“He’s pretty young right?” Miss Jacqueline said.
Helena nodded again. The Baroness smiled.
“Why are you smiling?” she asked her mother.
“I like it that you are so taken with the doctor,” her mother said.
There was a loud gasp from Miss Jacqueline. Helena rolled her eyes and shook her head vigorously.
“I am not,” she contended.
“I guess you think I’m too straitlaced to admit that to me; you wouldn’t be shaking your head if Lavinia had said that.”
“I daresay I would,” Helena said.
Miss Jacqueline giggled, which drew a look from Helena.
“Well, my point is this. He is a highly thought of physician. He is cultured and behaves himself in accordance with the mannerisms of a man high ranking. If you brought a man like that to scratch, there wouldn’t be too much harm done,” the Baroness said.
Helena studied her mother’s wriggling brows as she finished speaking. She had gotten her white skin from her mother, they all had. But her mother now had small, red patches on parts of her skin. There were creases in some spots where Helena’s was smooth.
This is how I’ll look in a few decades, not too bad.
“Did you hear a word I said?” the Duchess said, her eyes hardening.
“I did, Mother. You know my views on the issue of marriage. I am not totally against it, but I am yet to meet a man that deserves such from me,” she replied.
“You haven’t because you do not give any chance for them to spark up a topic with you, or to even compliment you. That was why I was surprised that you took the doctor’s flattery so well. I think we need to get rid of your father’s books. We’ll move them out of your reach in the least. We’ll keep them for your brothers when they get older,” the Duchess said.
Those boys do not care much for books.
“Men do not want a woman who can challenge them. I am not out to challenge men, but they want a woman who will agree with all they say, right or wrong,” Helena said.
“I don’t much care what you think, Helena. I do know you are my first daughter. I have two more behind you,” her mother said, looking at Miss Jacqueline.
“I need you to find a man with great social standing. If he is a man of peer, even better,” her mother concluded.
Helena was tired of getting into arguments with her parents over marriage.
I’ll marry when it’s time.
“So where is Father?” Helena asked her mother. She looked directly into her mother’s eyes. She wanted to detect any hidden truths in them.
Miss Jacqueline lay back down on the bed.
“He’s inside his chamber, as always. Why do you ask?” the Baroness asked.
Helena shook her head. She shifted closer to the edge of the bed to allow her sister space to spread herself.
“Nothing, I just noticed I haven’t been seeing a lot of him lately,” Helena replied.
The Baroness smiled.
“He is your father, Helena. If you want to see him, all you have to do is go to his chamber. He has been really busy with affairs of the barony, a lot of official assignments he has to plot out,” the Baroness replied.
Her mother dropped her eyes as she said the last statement. Helena knew she was hiding something.
Justina was right.
Helena stretched and used her left hand to pick up the bottle of a dark looking potion the doctor had brought for Miss Jacqueline. She opened it and gestured for Miss Jacqueline to sit up. Miss Jacqueline hesitated, but only for a brief moment. Helena smiled.
She decided it was useless arguing with me on this.
Helena moved closer to her sister and poured a bit of the liquid into her open mouth. She stopped, put the cover back, and dropped it on the table. Meanwhile the faces her sister was making told her the liquid must have been very distasteful. She stood up and turned to leave.
“Distasteful?” she said, looking back at her sister.
“As bitter as bile,” her sister said while making funny faces.
Helena laughed as she walked out. She heard her mother stand up after her. Helena walked outside the room and stayed just outside the door, waiting for her mother.
When the door opened to let her mother out, she waited till her mother closed the door to her sister’s room. She stood in front of her mother.
“So now really, what is wrong with Father?” Helena asked her mother.
The Baroness smiled, the smile breaking into a small laugh.
“I knew you knew more than you were letting on when you asked,” the Baroness said.
“Is he sick?”
“He is not feeling too well. He told me not to tell any of you this, but I am guessing you heard this through Justina. I need you to keep this a secret. He will get better,” her mother said.
“Why do we need to keep Father getting ill a secret?” Helena asked.
The Baroness covered her mouth with her left hand.
“I cannot tell you, Helena,” the Baroness said. “I have told you enough. Your father is a very proud man. He will not take it lightly that I confirmed his illness, much more giving you more information. I have to ask you to go and ask him.”
Helena didn’t see that as a daunting task. She was very close to her father. If she met him at the right time, he would tell her. She nodded to her mother and walked down the passage to her father’s chambers.
“If you meet him sleeping, Helena, please do not wake him up. He needs to sleep,” her mother shouted to her.
Helena heard her footsteps on the wooden floor. Her shoes made small tapping noises on the floor, breaking what would have been a rare serene quiet in the Sinclair mansion. Her father would always know someone was approaching his chambers before the person even got there this way. When she got to his door, she knocked. No one answered, so she turned the doorknob and went in. The first room was just as she remembered. The walls were entirely covered with shelves full of books. Helena wondered how many books her father regularly bought since she always came here to steal his books and they never seemed to reduce in number. She had gotten her reading habits from her father.
The man is a ferocious reader.
The walls were made from the same Lebanese wood that constituted the walls of the corridor. A huge landscape painting hung over the door to his bedroom. She loved the way the river poured into the delta, making bubbles and ripples. The painter brought the picture to life at that point. The painting was enchanting.
Helena looked at his table. It was still beside the window, but there was no book on it, which was strange. Helena had never come into the room without seeing what her father was currently reading on that table.
He isn’t reading anything?
She noticed that the second door was open, the door to the balcony. She went to the door and looked into the balcony; there was no one there. She entered the balcony and walked to the balustrade. Her grandfather had built the house in a way that the Duke’s chambers had a balcony looking over the entire house and over the whole barony.
“Your eyes are more accurate than the best reporter,” her father always said.
He could be found many times looking over his barony from the balcony. The house was built on the tallest hill in the middle of the barony so the view was a fair reflection of it. The wind pushed Helena’s hair back; red strands whipped into her face. Helena pushed the strands behind her ears and turned back to go inside, closing the door behind her. She walked to the door to her father’s bedroom which was also open. She didn’t enter but just leaned inside. Her father was on the bed, sleeping and snoring loudly. He had his blanket over half of his body, but the uncovered upper half was naked. She could see grey strands mingled among the dark bush that gathered on his chest. She saw a cup on the stool beside his bed.
That’s the potion Wallace went to get for him.
She wanted to go in to check but remembered what her mother said. Choosing between satisfying her curiosity and not risking waking him, she decided to allow him to sleep. She shut the door gently. Her hands released the golden doorknob which felt very cold. Her eyes spied the hinges of the door that were made of a particular metal she didn’t know, but they had four silver bolts. Father always said grandfather was dandy. Helena couldn’t confirm that, but she knew the man had spent a lot on building the house to his taste.
A door opened behind her. She turned around to look at her mother. The Baroness walked to the other door and went into the balcony. Helena followed her.
“How is he?” her mother asked immediately she shut the balcony door.
“Asleep,” Helena answered.
“Thank goodness,” her mother said, relief very evident in her reaction.
“What is it?”
“He hasn’t slept in the past four days. His head has been aching seriously, and he was starting to get a fever.”
“I thought you weren’t going to tell me what was wrong with him.”
“I didn’t mean this. You’d have to ask him for that,” the Baroness said.
The Baroness walked to the railings and hung her hands over the balustrade. Her brown hair stood stubbornly against the wind. She had tied it in a ponytail behind. Her hair was incredibly long; the end of the ponytail reached her lower back. Helena fingered her short red hair. Hers had a long way to go before it got to such a length. It fit the Baroness who was big with chubby arms and a wide waist.
“She was as slim as you were when I married her. After twenty-five years and five children, this is my wife,” her father would say.
Helena smiled and shook her head. She already missed her father.
Get well soon Pa, you still need to recommend books for me.
“Why are you smiling?” the Baroness asked.
Helena shook her head. She looked down and saw Lady Lavinia walking out of the front door. Miss Justina was with her, carrying a bag that probably contained her newly purchased dresses. Lady Lavinia walked to a steward and said something to him. Helena looked to her side; her mother was also watching them. The steward went around the back, and after a few minutes, Lady Lavinia’s coach rode out from the back. Miss Justina pushed the door of the coach open and placed the bag inside. Lady Lavinia went around and got into the coach through the other door. Miss Justina stood at the other door for a few more moments.
Lavinia must be telling her something.
The driver of the coach beat the horses with his whip, and they started moving. Miss Justina nodded her head and stood as the coach rode out of the compound. Miss Justina turned around and walked back to the house. Just as she was moving out of view, she looked up to Helena and her mother. She waved, and Helena waved back. Then she went in.
The sun had sunk to the horizon. Night was drawing closer. Helena was about to ask about her sister when another carriage rode into the compound. Before the carriage had properly stopped, the door was flung open, and her sister jumped out in typical character.
“You still have a lot of coaching to do,” Helena said.
The Baroness chuckled.
“I am thinking of getting her a tutor who will teach her music, arts, and generally coach her in the mannerisms of a woman of breeding. She still sees herself as a child, Melanie,” her mother said.
“A very playful child,” Helena added.
She turned around and walked to the door.
“I am going to my chamber, Mother,” Helena said.
“I am here with my husband. Do send Melanie to see me.”
Helena nodded and went out the door. She walked gently and noiselessly till she got outside her father’s chambers. She walked down the dark corridor, using her intuition to note where to turn. When she got to her room’s door, she saw a steward lighting the lamps hanging on the corridor walls. She walked into her room and met Miss Justina inside. She had already lit the two lamps in her room. Helena walked to her bed and eased her shoes off her feet. She lay her back down and stared at the dark ceiling.
“Get some warm water into my bathroom, Justina. I want to have a bath and turn in early,” Helena said.
“I’ll do that, ma’am.”
“Then do tell Melanie mother said she wants to see her tonight.”
Miss Justina nodded and walked out of the room. Helena stood up and loosened her dress at the side. She pushed the dress down her body, allowing it to pool at her feet. She removed her legs from the pool and lay back on the bed with just her shift and underwear while her mind wandered back to the handsome doctor.
“I hope to meet him at the Somerset ball. I would love a dance with him,” Helena said aloud.
One eyelid closed, she pushed it back up.
I need to wait for Justina to bring the warm water.
“Seduced by an Irresistible Lady” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!
Helena Sinclair, the first daughter of the Baron of Strabolgi, is irresistible; every man’s dream and his biggest nightmare at the same time. Managing to blend the boldness that comes with extensive knowledge with the grace expected of a woman of the ton, Helena is thoroughly enjoying balls and parties. Settling down is a farfetched idea for her, however an unexpected turn of events forces her hand and causes her to forsake her plan for a marriage of love. But it won’t be so easy for her…
Love always has a grander design and it’s completely fortuitous that Dr. Frederick meets the alluring Helena who takes his heart away. Duty should always take priority, shouldn’t it? Dr. Frederick has no time for love, especially for a lost cause. He has to focus on his studies, however he finds his mind and body acting at odds when he’s around her. The temptation is simply too strong. Will emotion prevail over reason? Will he eventually give in to this overpowering passion?
Love threatens to take away her chance to remove her family from financial ruin and Helena cannot stand doing nothing. Love or duty? Will she be strong enough to make a decision that will affect her whole life?
“Seduced by an Irresistible Lady” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.