The sky has begun to darken and the stars begin to twinkle against the bluish purple hue. Paris at night was the best part of being an adventurer for six years. I had missed my family dearly, but the call for adventure pulled at my heart. I reread the most recent letter from my dear friend Eliza. She wrote all about her excitement for the upcoming social season, and my return to London. This is an auspicious time of the year for the young ladies of the Ton. The social season is fast approaching and women all over London are looking for their perfect matches. Well, all except one. The idea of marriage has always been a difficult concept for me. It all seemed futile, that a woman only existed to capture and marry the most eligible man she could find. Women did not only exist to bear children and host high teas or balls. I had no interest in being sold to the highest paying bachelor. I wanted to marry for love after I achieved my dream of becoming a writer. Thankfully my parents had five sons before they were, as they put it, blessed with three beautiful daughters. Four of my brothers; Simon, the twins Silas and Selim, and Sebastian are now happily married and my oldest brother, Samuel, was soon to be married in a few months if his proposal went as planned. Not that I would be unhappy about his finding a match, but his happiness would mean my life as a freelance writer would be over. I was happy he found love, but sad to say goodbye to such a beautiful city and my freedom. I only hope to marry for love as they had.
We were currently in Paris, and sadly it was our last night in the beautiful city. I would miss it, but my mother arranged for our arrival and she was not a woman you disappointed. Although, I suppose it shan’t be such a bad thing to be back home for a while. We had seen so many sights, and experienced so much culture from Germany, Rome, Greece, Ireland and Scotland. I was beginning to tire of the long days of travel, and I missed my parents and brothers and little sisters, Simone and Sienna. I missed my friends Eliza and Diane. It has been so long since I have seen them. I missed my home back at Hereford. There was no more for me to see. I had spent my early pubescent years traveling the world with Samuel whilst he handled business endeavors for our father. I experienced as much of the world I could bare. I will enjoy being back home amongst those I loved. I was beginning to long for the exotic flowers of Hereford garden, and the parlor filled with books that would take the rest of my life to read, but I would miss my freedom away from the ton and away from my mother’s overbearing eyes. My parents had been gracious enough to let me accompany him after I pleaded that she must marry off her five eldest children before she even attempted to marry off her immature eldest daughter, and that I needed culture to outshine the other young ladies of the ton. Season after season my mother grew more impatient, and now that I was eighteen she was set on having me home and wed by the end of this season to solidify matches for my younger sisters.
This was my last night of leisure. At dawn it would all be over. No more avoiding marriage, or balls, or promenades, or the Queen’s annual diamond soirée. My nerves began to settle as I sat out on the balcony of the quaint bed and breakfast staring at the Eiffel Tower with my diary and pen in hand writing out my feelings of leaving Paris and missing my home. After an hour of silently appreciating the Eiffel Tower, I decided to finish packing my trunk before going to bed. I closed my trunk full of elegant rose embroidered dress, and pulled a thick blanket, my grandmother knitted me last winter, tighter against my body finding comfort in its warmth. I am grateful for the sights I had seen, and all the different cultures I experienced. I gaze out at the Eiffel tower for, possibly, the last time before closing the doors and climbing into the set feather bed drifting off into a restless sleep. In the morning, I, along with Samuel and his betrothed, Genevieve Dupont, would be headed back to Hereford estate.
The next morning, Genevieve, Samuel and I loaded ourselves into the family carriage, one of many, and set off for the long ride back to Hereford where the Viscount, Samuel Emery Devereux and his Viscountess, Rosalind, awaited our return. Genevieve divulged in all of the details of her proposal from last night, and I fought the urge to jump from the carriage. It had been the only topic for the entire ride so far, and many hours had passed. Quite a few more hours pass and there is no change in the topic, so to avoid the harm of myself and my future
The morning sun shone through the curtains, and hoisted myself from the bed and into a lavender dress with lavender roses and white pearls stitched into the glittering fabric of the bodice. I hurried out after the servants carrying my trunk to the family carriage. Genevieve and Samuel were inside waiting when I finally sat across from them settling myself in for the long ride back to Hereford where the Viscount, Samuel Emery Devereux, and Viscountess, Rosalind Lily Devereux, patiently awaited our return. Genevieve divulged in all of the details of her proposal from last night, and I fought the urge to jump from the carriage. It had been the only topic for the entire ride so far, and many hours had passed. Quite a few more hours pass and there is no change in the topic, so to avoid the harm of myself and my future sister-in-law I take out my favorite book, Villette by Charlotte Bronte, to read in order to tune her out. Just as the sun begins to set, we arrive at The Quill and Egg Bed and Breakfast, located half a day's ride from the city of London, for shelter.
“Good Evening. Are there any rooms available?” Samuel inquired politely.
The board house keeper looks between us before rudely replying, “I have only two rooms left. That’ll be three shillings for each room.”
The boarding keeper snatches the money up and wobbles her way to the staircase leading us to the rooms. Genevieve and I share a room, and the lucky bastard Samuel gets his own room. Which means I suffer through another round of her insufferable wedding ideas, and pep talking about meeting my family tomorrow for several hours before she finally falls into a blissful sleep. She was a wonderful person, I don’t believe there was a better match for my brother. I enjoyed her as a person, and was truly happy she would become a new addition to the family, but I was quickly growing tired of the wedding talk. Since the engagement it’s all she can babble about. Wedding this. Dress that. It was tedious, and just the thought of marriage unsettled me since I was unsure I would be lucky enough to find love.
I sit in the burgundy and tan chaise stashed away in the corner of the dark room attempting to read myself to sleep. After 20 minutes with no luck I decide a glass of wine or two should speed up the process, so I slip into my teal shoes and cream shawl before I quietly exit the room heading to the main floor of the bed and breakfast. We had passed a parlor remodeled into a bar near the entrance, I assume, to be used by guests. I do a quick search for help and sigh helplessly after a few unsuccessful minutes. The parlor is dark except for the few flickers of candle light on each table. No one is behind the bar, and I huff in frustration realizing it is probably closed for the night. I turn around and collide into something hard causing me to lose my balance. Strong hands steady me before I could fall, and I look up into beautiful green eyes for a brief second. Averting my gaze I stand completely, and straighten my dress and tighten my shawl around my small frame.
“Thank you. Please accept my apology. I should be more mindful of my surroundings.” I curtsey quickly, and move around him heading towards the stairs.
“Looking for some company miss?” His deep alluring voice called out to me.
“My apologies, but I must decline your offer sir.” I call over my shoulder.
“Such a pity. I hate to drink such fine wine alone.” He called out again with a mocking tone.
I stop and slowly turn to face him. “You have wine? Where?”
He chuckles and my stomach flip flops. “I do and I will share with you if you tell me your name.”
I fight the smile that wants to form. “Sabine Devereux. And what is yours?” I tilt my head in his direction
“Elijah Hamilton. Pleased to meet you, Miss Devereux.” he smiles, pulling out a chair for me to sit. “So, would you care to have a drink?”