What the Fates Decree: The Caversham Chronicles-The Titans of the Revolution

BOOK: What the Fates Decree: The Caversham Chronicles-The Titans of the Revolution
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What the Fates Decree
The Caversham Chronicles-The Titans of the Revolution
Sandy Raven
Contents

WHAT THE FATES DECREE

Sandy Raven

W
HAT THE FATES DECREE

T
his book is
a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, or organizations is entirely coincidental.

C
opyright © 2015
, Sandy Raven

I
SBN
: 978-1-939359-15-5 (all digital formats)

A
ll rights reserved
. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and/or reviews.

E
dited
by Gail Shelton

[email protected]

C
over design
by The Killion Group, Inc.

www.thekilliongroupinc.com

T
o mothers everywhere
,

I
t doesn’t matter
whether you gave birth to them, adopted them, or inherited them… We all know there are no limits to a mother’s love.

S
.

D
EAR READER
,

W
hen I was thinking
about the story for the next book, I went back and forth about writing ONE story or THREE stories for the three girls christened at the end of ALREADY HIS. I could have written three separate books (and it likely would have been easier on me,) but that wasn’t the story that I kept seeing in my head. You see, these three girls grew up best friends, and I kept coming back to this one story that had all three young ladies in Scotland, watching half-naked Scotsmen playing rugby (through the bushes of course, because single young ladies of good breeding weren’t supposed to be doing that at this time.) Isabel, Charlotte, and Penelope do everything together, so it just made sense that they would fall in love at the same time (with different men, of course!)

I
admit
the chronological way I had to write the book sounded odd when I told my husband and some of my writing friends. They didn’t understand why I wanted to do it this way. But it made sense to ME. In fact, I couldn’t do it any other way. I really did try! FATED LOVE will have three heroines and three heroes. It’s not finished yet, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

A
nyway
, I started writing parts of this short story as my notes explaining the mothers’ motivation for sending the girls to a month-long house party in Scotland. Then I decided to compile a boxed set for The Caversham Chronicles (the first generation) and thought you might enjoy these notes. So I organized them, and made them into a story as a way to set up the next two books (the Titans of the Revolution.) At least that’s what I hope this short story does, and I hope you enjoy it.

L
ook
for FATED LOVE later this year. At the end of this short story, I’m including a preview chapter. Because I’m not finished writing it, I don’t feel comfortable giving a release date yet. The best way to keep up with my progress is by following me on
Facebook
, or visiting my
website
.

A
nd many thanks
for reading my work!

S
andy
:-D

In which the duchess tries to convince her sister-in-law they should send their daughters to Scotland without them.

L
ondon
, Late July, 1842

S
eated
in the dining room at their London residence, Lia, the Duchess of Caversham, watched as her only daughter Isabel, her niece Charlotte, and their dearest friend, Penelope, departed for their morning ride. It would be one of their last together in London until next spring, as the Halden family planned to leave town later in the week.

After four seasons out in society, only one of the three girls had shown any interest in a gentleman—and that ended with Penelope’s heart broken after several weeks of infatuation with the young man. Lia was beginning to think if she wanted to see her daughter settled, she would have to help matters along. With this in mind, she planned to send a note inviting her sister-in-law, Elise, Countess Camden, and their close friend Beverly, Viscountess Huddleston, to come for tea later today. They needed to discuss an upcoming house party in Scotland that just might be the perfect venue for their daughters to meet eligible gentlemen who weren’t the usual London fare.

Lia was of the opinion their daughters were never going to find husbands with the judgmental eyes of London society and the gossip columnists watching and criticizing their every move. The young misses needed exposure to different young men. Heaven knew the ones they’d met thus far hadn’t piqued their interest. Or, maybe even the same young men except in a more relaxed atmosphere. There, perhaps the young ladies and gentlemen would have the opportunity to learn about each other, thus encouraging relationships to grow, Lia wasn’t certain.

But the one thing she
was
sure about was that a change of scenery was called for.


I
wanted
to talk to you both about going to Rathcavan,” Lia said to Elise and Beverly, as the ladies all sat in the drawing room several hours later.

“I was hoping that was why you called us over,” Beverly said, as she lifted her gaze from her tea cup. “Because I wanted to talk about that as well.”

Elise must have sensed that something was amiss in Beverly’s voice because she asked, “We
are
going to Rathcavan for the hunt, are we not?”

Lia shook her head. “I know this is a momentous celebration for Lady Adina, but you know I am not as eager to hunt as you two.” She lifted her cup and sipped her tea. Returning the fine Limoges porcelain cup to it’s equally fine saucer, she continued. “Besides, I have a plan. One I would like for you to listen to Elise, as I know you will need the most convincing.”

She recalled the invitation from the Lady Adina, Countess Fitzhugh. The countess was turning seventy-five, and wanted to commemorate the occasion doing what she has loved since she was a child—riding with her hounds. But, this was no ordinary hunt. It was to be a month-long house party at her estate in Scotland, with several weeks of hunting and shooting, culminating with a country dance celebrating the countess’ birthday.

Both Elise and Beverly gave her curious stares, Elise’s expression a little more censorious than Beverly’s.

“What is this plan?” Elise asked.

Lia heard the caution in Elise’s voice.

“I think we allow our daughters to go without us.”

“You cannot possibly mean that,” Elise said, the shock evident by the slight screech at the end of her statement. “Besides, Michael would never allow it,” her sister in law snapped, “what with the queen being shot at again earlier this month. And Ren… You know he fears someone wanting to get to him by hurting what he treasures most—his family. Why… it’s the very reason your daughter has two guards.”

Lia thought her sister-in-law grasped at any excuse to justify her journey to Scotland with Beverly, but kept that to herself.

“I
must
go. Lady Adina is my husband’s favorite aunt, his mother’s twin. He would be worried if Penny and I didn’t attend.” Beverly looked concerned, and she had every right to be.

“Oh, I think
you
should go, Beverly,” Lia said. “But, Elise…”

Elise shook her head. “Michael would never agree.”

Her sister-in-law would be the hardest to persuade. If Lia could get Elise to understand her reasoning, then she was certain they could both persuade their husbands to allow their daughters to go. “It’s all in the presentation, Elise. You have to make it seem like a positive thing to have Charlotte go with Penelope and Isabel.

“Why do you not want to go, Lia?” Elise asked.

She deserved an honest answer. “Because it’s cold and wet in October, and I’d rather spend that time with the baby I still have at home, and my husband. I want to be near a warm fire, in my own home.”

Beverly set her cup and saucer down on the table with a little more force than normal, startling both Lia and Elise.

“What’s the matter?” asked Elise. “Did Lady Adina want Lia to come in particular?”

“No, no. That’s not it at all,” Beverly replied. Meeting Lia’s gaze, she continued. “But… Now that I know you’re staying home… I was wondering if maybe I could impose upon you to keep Penelope for that time.”

“Why?” Elise said, disappointment heavily tinging her voice. “I thought we were going to surprise the girls and take them with us.”

“I’m not certain that we should. You see,” Beverly explained, “I just received a letter this morning, from Kip’s cousin by marriage, Lady Edgar. Lady Edgar, or Margaret, is Aunt Adina’s daughter-in-law, and Margaret is aunt to the new Earl Fitzhugh and his sister, Miss Olivia Gordon. Margaret sponsored Olivia this season in Edinburgh. Well, it seems that Olivia is newly betrothed to a friend of her brother’s.”

When Beverly paused, Lia asked, “But isn’t that a good thing? I mean, the lady is marrying someone known to her brother. Fitzhugh certainly cannot find fault in the young man as he
is
his friend.”

Elise straightened her shoulders. “And we all know,
I
would never fault the arrangement. I married my brother’s best friend and it’s worked out beautifully.”

Beverly did not show any relief at their words, so Lia asked her to explain.

“It isn’t so much that the young lady is betrothed. It’s
who
she’s betrothed
to
that makes me wonder if the girls should go to Rathcavan at all.”

Lia gave Beverly a curious stare.

“Well,” Elise said, “if we left the girls with Lia at Haldenwood, then we certainly wouldn’t have to worry about them being in Scotland among strangers.”

“They are not strangers, Elise,” Lia said. “They are Kip’s family.”

“Yes, they are my husband’s family,” Beverly said, “Except… Maybe the girls…”

Elise asked their friend to continue—likely because she saw one of her fondest activities, fox hunting, and at one of her favorite places, Rathcavan, fading before her eyes. “Beverly? Whatever
is
the matter?”

“Because their family was in mourning last year, this year with the new earl seated, the young miss had her very first season at seventeen, in Edinburgh, not London. She only met the earl’s friend less than one month ago when he arrived to visit his friend.”

“That is too young,” Lia said. “And to be betrothed already? What could her aunt be thinking?”

“Yes, that is rather fast,” Elise mused. “The girl just met the man, whereas I’d known Michael my entire life.”

“Yes… Well… It gets…” Beverly looked uncomfortable, almost near tears, and it was breaking Lia’s heart. “It gets worse.”

“Oh, dearest, whatever the problem is, the three of us can handle it,” Lia jumped in to reassure her.

“Lia’s right. Whatever it is, we can manage it,” Elise said, finally realizing the distress bearing down on their friend.

Beverly took a deep breath to collect herself and continued. “The reason Margaret wrote to me was because this young man’s name had sounded familiar to her. When she realized where she’d heard the name before, she became concerned, and searched my letters for confirmation… You see, I’d previously communicated to her about Penelope’s heartache last year, and…”

“Beverly, dear,” Lia whispered, likely so as not to attract the attention of the maid who had come in with a fresh pot of tea. “You’re making me nervous.”

Beverly leaned forward, her choked whisper, frightening both she and Elise. “You’re never going to believe who the groom-to-be is.”

Lia tried to think of any eligible young men she knew in Scotland, but Elise drew in a sharp breath, for she had obviously figured out who the groom-to-be was. Lia, though, was unable to deduce the identity of the young man.

“No,” Elise whispered. “Tell me it’s not who I think it is.”

Beverly nodded. Her grave expression confirming, at least for Elise, the identity of the man. But Lia was still drawing a blank.

“How…?” Elise queried. “I don’t understand. How does he know the new earl?”

And just then Lia realized the only person it could be—the same man who’d disappeared the year before after getting Penelope’s hopes up. What he’d done, leading Penelope to believe he cared for her, then leaving suddenly as he did without word of why or where he was going was abominable.

Beverly confirmed Elise’s guess. “Yes, none other than Mr. Nathaniel Gregorio Santiago,” she said. “Olivia has betrothed herself to Penny’s Nathaniel! The same man who broke my daughter’s heart last year.”

Elise’s mouth was gaping in astonishment. Lia thought surely hers had to have been as well, for it could not be possible that there are two men with that exact same name.

“Are we certain it’s the same young man?” The look in Beverly’s eyes told Lia they most definitely were speaking of the same Mr. Santiago.

She had heard the pertinent details from Isabel. The young man had played Penelope false, saying he was interested in her—even that he wanted to speak to her father. The morning he was to have met with the Viscount, Penelope’s young man never made the appointment. It was believed he got cold feet and disappeared—fleeing London to return to his father’s ancestral home in Spain.

As usual, Elise jumped in and began questioning Beverly. “Has Penelope mentioned him recently? Perhaps she wouldn’t care? It
has
been over a year. Surely she cannot feel anything akin to affection for him.”

Beverly’s perfectly arranged blonde curls shook vigorously to and fro atop her head. “She never mentions him, but her heart still aches for him, I can tell. It’s
because
she never mentions him that I know this. And… Kip would expect us to participate in his aunt’s birthday celebration. He isn’t able to return from Mumbai, and has practically insisted—in his sweet way, of course—that we go. If I decline, it would cause him undue worry. He might think I took another fall.”

Beverly was right. Kip worried over her and Penelope a great deal. As was proved the previous spring, when Beverly had taken a fall from a horse. He’d stayed at Fenwicke Hall with his wife for as long as he could, until he’d been called back to London by his superiors at the Foreign Office, who directed his immediate return to India. Beverly’s husband left only after she’d given him a promise that she would not ride a green horse again unless he was with her.

“I would certainly understand if you chose to leave the girls with me so you and Elise can go for Lady Adina’s birthday and hunt,” Lia said. “But…”

“How
does
he know the new Earl?” Elise asked again. “I was under the impression Mr. Santiago was from Spain.”

“I don’t know,” Beverly replied. “Margaret never explained the connection.”

Lia’s mind mulled over the situation at hand. This shocking development would surely upset Penelope. But the entire reason for sending her daughter to Scotland without her, was to give her own daughter some latitude, or freedom to navigate certain situations as the adult she would soon be. She needed to learn how to make adult decisions and behave as an adult, while in the safety of a home known to the family. Rathcavan was far enough away from London that the newspaper columnists, and the gossipy old harridans who frequented the events in Town, would not interfere with any budding romance for either of the three younger ladies should a relationship take root.

More than anything, Lia wished that Isabel, at twenty-one, could find a love as great as the one she’d found with Ren. Except Lia would never want her daughter to go through the nightmarish hell she’d gone through to find it. By the time she was twenty, Lia had already given birth to Marcus. At her daughter’s age, she was carrying Isabel. Lia was glad the three girls were older than she, Elise, and Beverly had been before getting married and having children. The girls had had time to enjoy their youth and search for a love match, though without much luck thus far.

Lia sensed it was now time for maternal assistance to help matters along. She saw the girls’ reactions, though fleeting, each time another friend of theirs made a match—particularly a love match. Lia caught the “Why not me?” look in her daughter’s eyes when she thought her mother wasn’t watching.

And that was why Lia decided to send her daughter to Scotland with Beverly, and she hoped to convince Elise to do the same. For a fleeting moment she thought she should perhaps reconsider, especially with this new twist regarding Miss Gordon’s betrothal.

Or… Maybe not.

Their daughters were all beautiful and well-educated young ladies. Perhaps Isabel’s skills in things such as playing the piano forte, singing, and needlework lacked perfection, but she could dance beautifully. And all three could sit a horse better than most men. They should, after all they had learned from the best—their aunts Elise and Beverly.

All three girls had been given an opportunity that few young ladies in their society were allowed. Their daughters had been promised by their parents that they could marry for love, on the condition that the men were acceptable to their fathers. Lia felt, though, that perhaps the girls were taking advantage of this parental license, for no young men were on the girls’ short lists for potential mates.

BOOK: What the Fates Decree: The Caversham Chronicles-The Titans of the Revolution
5.84Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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