The Earl Richard Boudreaux and his wife, the Countess Jaqueline Boudreaux of Castiglione, had just arrived with their only son off the docks of the eastern coast of the colonies; when it started to rain.
“Right this way my lord, madam.” Bigsley, their butler, held an umbrella overhead and stretched out his arm to guide them to their carriage.
“Thank you Bigsley.” Replied the Countess. The carriage ride to their new estate wasn’t long and they reached the gate before nightfall. “Well, that was quite the journey wasn’t, Tyrian?”
“Hmm.” Tyrian nodded at his mother as he helped her down from the carriage. Bigsley escorted the Boudreaux family along with their luggage inside the estate.
“The grounds stretch over 147 acres. There are stables just off the west wing and a library at your request Earl Boudreaux off the east wing. The rooms have been customized to your liking Countess and as always welcome home.”
“It’s much smaller than the one in france.” The Countess said, waving a fan at her nose.
“It’s plenty of room dear.” Earl Boudreaux said in a tired tone. “Come let us retire, Bigsley a tour of the grounds tomorrow.” Bigsley had been serving the Boudreaux family since the Earl had been a boy and was getting on in age. Still, he was never late and always prepared.
“As you wish, sire.” With that Bigsley disappeared into the estate. Probably, Tyrian thought, to the servants quarters. He almost stopped him to ask directions to the library but decided he’d rather explore on his own. He had done enough resting on the boat here and was hardly in the mood to lay down any longer. It didn’t take him long to find the mahogany room filled with books. They had sent many of his favorites across the water long before he arrived and he easily found something he was interested in on the shelves. Thank you Bigsley. He smiled and took a slow turn about the room, book in hand. Lord Tyrian Cole Boudreaux would inherit the estate one day and he wasn’t sure what he would do when poor Bigsley was no longer in their service. He ran his fingers through his black wet hair before turning the page. His hands rough from working with leather and wood and his cheeks rugged for he hadn’t shaved since before the boat. His eyes were tired but his mind laid awake in a dream of social sciences; they danced across the pages. The words written in black ink by some of his favorite philosophers. Visionaries of their time, or fictitious poor dreamers— if you asked his father. Night fell fast and so Tyrian chose to finally retire to his chambers. He might as well get used to living in the colonies.
The morning came with a certain harshness to it as Tyrian awakened in his bed but not in France. A heavy sigh as he looked out his window aching for the familiarity of his home country. A light knock on his door told him his mother was already awake and wanting company. He suppressed another sigh as he pulled a shirt over his head and jumped into a pair of trousers before leaning against the door frame and pulling it open.
“Ah you're awake!” His mother pushed brazenly past him and into his room. Tyrian rolled his eyes.
“Yes I’m awake mother, was there something you needed?” She pursed her lips before turning to look into her son’s eyes.
“Can’t a mother visit her son unburdened and without cause?”
“A mother could…” he said with an unspoken ‘but’ at the end of his tongue. She smiled.
“The girls and I were talking—”
“What girls? Don’t tell me mother, we’ve been on this land for hardly a night and you’ve made friends?”
“Don’t be rude Tyrian. I met a kind woman, Mrs. Baker, down at the florist this morning and she invited me to tea; where I met Mrs.Lydenberg and Lady Eisenhower and they told me that tonight a man named Markisean is throwing a ball for his daughters coming of age. Isn’t that splendid?” Tyrian yawned into his palm and scratched his head.
“What has any of this to do with me mother?”
“Well you’re going of course! I’ve already told Biglsey to get your good clothes ready and dearest— you will need to shave.” She put a cool soft palm against his rough cheek.
“I will do nothing of the sort.” Tyrian scoffed and she dropped her hand.
“You must, it would be rude to decline an invitation when we are so new to town.”
“Did they invite us mother or did you weasel your way into the closest party?”
“We were invited and we are going. I’ve already talked to your father.” Tyrian's breath hitched. He made a face. It was one thing to argue with his mother but he couldn’t refuse his father.
“Why on earth would you sentence me to something as tedious as a coming of age party for some girl.” Tyrian almost spat the last word.
“Tyrian, you are our first and only son; you must branch out and make friends and more importantly an heir. It is your birthright, your legacy, and your duty. Now, you refused to attend events in France to focus on your studies and I respected that.”
“Respected?” Tyrian laughed.
“BUT,” the countess got louder “you aren’t getting any younger and you don’t wish for every suitable girl of age to be taken. You’ll be stuck with some widower or worse someone of low status.” Tyrian didn’t suppress the sigh this time.
“What time is the party mother?”
“I knew you’d come around. Bigsley has all the details! Just be ready before sundown, we’ll head over as a family!” She almost skipped out of his room. He closed the door and pressed his forehead against the wood. That woman is insane. He thought before turning back to get ready for the day. If he was going to spend this evening forced to entertain some dimwitted girl at an overly extravagant clearly flamboyant display of wealth, disguised as a party, he would damn well spend his day doing something he loved.
It didn’t take Tyrian any time at all to find his way around the estate. Even despite the fact that he had skipped the morning tour with Bigsley, undoubtedly to avoid his mother until nightfall, he made easy work of learning the halls. His mother had been right, it wasn’t nearly as big as the estate back in France, which suited him just fine. It was much easier to navigate and less arrogant. The staffing for the estate in france alone would bankrupt any man a penny poorer than his father. He wound up peacefully lounging in a pile of hay amongst the horses. The stables here were less gracious than the ones back home and he almost preferred it that way. All wood and hay, the way it should be. No marble banisters or painted ceilings here. He had brought a book from the library with him and began to read amongst his favorite company, animals.
Tyrian opened his eyes to the sound of a horse neighing in his ear. Startled, he scrambled to his feet. He looked at the sky and guessing the time, raced back to the main estate; his mother would be furious. He went back to the opposite side of the estate to return the book to the library and on his way back to his room Bigsley caught him.
“Not that way young master, quickly.”
“Tyrian!” His mother’s voice quaked in the distance. He followed Bigsley down a separate hall. When the coast was clear he released a breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.
“Thank you Bigs.”
“I can only imagine the wrath we’d all face if she caught you covered in hay and smelling like stables mere hours before a party.” Bigsley said, giving him the eye. Tyrian gave him an apologetic smile. “You’re just the same as when you were a boy. There’s a bath ready for you, this way. Don’t dawdle, we haven’t the time.” Bigsley had Tyrian party ready in such haste— the poor man really did deserve a raise. When his mother finally found him, he was awaiting her company well dressed at the steps near the entrance of the estate.
“There you are, where have you been? Did you not hear me calling?”
“No mother, my deepest apologies.” Tyrian bowed slightly. “Where’s father?”
“Your father had urgent matters to attend to. Some new tradesman has come to town who he wishes to do business with and you know how he gets when he’s working.” Tyrian nodded. “Never the matter, look at you! My boy, you clean up so well! Thank you Bigsley!” She said calling out to the butler without looking to see where he might reside.
“As difficult as it might be for you to believe mother, I do enjoy dressing well. I simply dislike the reason you fight for me to do so.” She clasped her hands together.
“Hush child, don’t ruin this for me. Though I really wish you would have shaved.” Tyrian’s eyes flashed to Bigsley who had the words ‘As I stated earlier’ written in his eyes but the butler was silent. Tyrian smiled at his mother.
“Relax mother, if I were to find a bride at this party she’d find out I’m a furry monster eventually.” The countess’s eyes brightened with the intensity of a thousand suns.
“Dost thou mean it, you’ll look for a bride?” Tyiran slipped a wink to Bigsley.
“Anything for you mother.” He had no intention of looking for a Lady Tyrian Boudreaux to aid in the heir making processes, but it was so easy to make his mother happy that he couldn’t resist. He really did love it when she smiled. The Countess draped her arm inside that of her son’s and smoothed her dress.
“Then we musnt waste another moment. Bigsley the carriage, make haste.”
Bigsley had the carriage waiting outside before Tyrian had hit the bath water and so the two were headed off to the party at Markisean’s estate. His mother was buzzing with gossip.
“I hear Markisean’s daughter never leaves the estate. No one has ever even seen her.”
“Is she plain?” Tyrian asked feigning interest for his mother’s sake.
“That is the rumor. His younger daughter, Madeline, pounces about with their nanny almost every day but the oldest has seldom left the walls of the manor.”
She must be terribly plain then.” He said to let his mother know he was listening.
“She must be but, fear not plenty of agreeable girls will have been invited. As well as eligible bachelors so be on guard.” The countess fixed her powder in a small compact as she spoke. Tyrian nodded amused by how into the gossip of this town his mother had already fallen. She had hardly been off the boat a day and she had already overflooded her cup with hearsay. “Though from what I can tell, plain or not many men will be in attendance to woo the heart of the lady of the evening.”
“Why’s that?” Tyrian said, with almost genuine interest.
“Markisean of course! I hear her dowry alone is ten years a man’s salary.”
“So her father has status?”
“You didn’t know? He’s Duke Mare Markisean of New York. He’s practically french royalty.”
“I don’t pay attention to politics, mother.”
“Well you should, he’s cousins with our queen.” Tyrian made a face of realization, it was exaggerated for his mother’s sake. “You’d do well to marry a girl with half the status of Lady Soliel Delphine Markisean, plain or not.”
“I would do well regardless, my mother is a Countess and father the Earl of Bordeaux.”
“Strong unions will never hurt Tyrian. It’s good to have connections.”
“If Markisean is a Duke why does no one call him by his title?”
“Apparently he requested otherwise. He says Duke Markisean was his father.” The Countess scoffed. “Clearly he’s quite eccentric. I’d be beside myself if someone were to disregard my title.”
“I know mother.” Tyrian fought to keep the eye roll out of his voice. The carriage halted at the steps of Markisean’s estate and Tyrian could tell from the main entrance and line of carriages behind them that the estate was easily twice the size of their own. He helped his mother out of the carriage and escorted her inside. As they entered, his mother handed a tall gentleman in black a card. He made quick work of it before stomping twice on the ground in unison with a tall staff, announcing their arrival.
“The Countess Jaquelyn Boudreaux of Castiglione and her son Lord Tyrian Cole Boudreaux.” The room glanced upwards towards them. Several attendants bowed uncertainly at their arrival. A path cleared as his mother walked with perfect posture, towards a woman she introduced to Tyrian as Mrs. Baker.
“Her husband is the most delightful florist Tyrian, should you find a bride I really must insist we enlist their services.” Tyrian bowed politely to Mrs. Baker before excusing himself. “Of course dear, go mingle!” She said, overly excited.
The party was in full swing when Tyrian made his way to the edge of the ballroom. He was doing his best to avoid dancing. He didn’t think any girls in attendance were brazen enough to ask him to save a dance, but he couldn’t be sure. Some of them had a sort of desperate look in their eyes. A blonde girl who easily weighed less than seven stone, locked eyes with him from a way across the dance floor. She stood to move in his direction. Panicked, his eyes darted toward possible exits. He found that the closest door lead to a hallway pushing further back inside the manor. Having no choice but to follow it or go back inside and have a rather awkward conversation with that girl, he slipped away into the manor.
“Lost?” He heard a delicate voice filled with amusement. “Let me guess, looking for the laboratory?” He turned to see a girl sitting on the floor in a beautiful green ball gown. It was all tulle with a neckline intricately woven in french lace. It danced low on her chest, exposing her collarbone. Her shoulders laid bare and the hem of her dress was bunched at the bottom exposing her bare dainty feet.