Friday, 27 March 2020

Westbury by Arabella Sheen - EXCERPT 4


A Traditional Regency Romance

Arabella Sheen

Can Miss Georgina Morton surrender her independence and accept the Duke’s love?

Miss Georgina Morton, at the age of four-and-twenty, with a modest annual income of four hundred pounds, believes she has no need of a husband and can manage quite nicely without one. Yet within a matter of weeks, she’s betrothed to Giles Glentworth, the Sixth Duke of Westbury, and bound for Regency London.
Set in rural Wiltshire and elegant, fast-paced London...a runaway ward, a shooting at midnight, and a visit to fashionable Almack’s, are only a few of the adventures Georgina enjoys while falling for the Corinthian charms of the Duke.

Chapter One     Excerpt 4    continued…

Tempted to stamp her foot in frustration, but being of a calm and level-headed disposition, Georgina knew such an outburst of emotion would achieve nothing productive.
“Georgina, I think you’re unnecessarily fearful.” said Mr Morton. “The child must have some sense. Some intelligence. And she has seen you’re a trustworthy individual, has she not? But on the matter of keeping her here, even though we might not wish for her to wander the countryside alone, we cannot force her to stay with us, my love.” Mr Morton looked at his daughter over the rim of his spectacles. “If we did, we might be accused of kidnapping, or at best, holding her against her will. She must be free to continue on her travels if she so wishes and to face the perils of them, if that is the case.”
“Then in all good consciousness, we must persuade her otherwise,” said Georgina. “For I cannot allow this to happen.”
“You cannot stop it from happening. You’re not her keeper.”
“But Papa, I cannot turn a stray dog away from the door and certainly not this poor child. With your permission, Abigail must remain here with us until I find a solution. Perhaps if we are able to discover the whereabouts of her relatives, her troubles might be solved.”
“Go and fetch this poor child and let me see for myself how things stand, for I fear you’re too emotional. I expect your judgement is clouded and all this runaway needs is a good talking to. Perhaps we can persuade her to return to her family.”
“I think not,” said Georgina. “Although Abigail is terrified about what is to become of her, I believe she is brave enough to find her way to London as she originally intended. My only wish is that she might do so safely.”
Georgina stood and walked to the door. She turned and said, “Papa, I will go and find her. And please be kind, for I know how intimidating you can be. Sometimes you only have to look at me over your papers and you have me quaking in my shoes.”
Abigail was no longer to be found in the parlour.
Concerned and suspecting the worst, Georgina went in search of her, but luckily Abigail hadn’t left. She was to be found in the kitchen sat at the table with Betty, the housekeeper, and with Nelson, their cat, on her lap.
The warm, inviting kitchen was filled with the delicious smell of freshly baked bread. Betty had been baking, and two large loaves were cooling on the table.
An array of sparkling brass pots and pans were on a dresser along with copper jelly moulds and jugs. A kettle hung over the black cast-iron hearth in which a fire was burning. Steam came from the kettle’s spout, and Betty had the makings of a pot of tea at the ready.
Abigail looked up from stroking Nelson. “Oh, Georgina, I hope you don’t mind, but Nelson came into the parlour, and when he left, I followed him to the kitchen. Isn’t he gorgeous? And he’s so fluffy.” Heedless of the cat hairs that were being shed on her clothes, Abigail continued to stroke him. “Betty said she would bring me tea in the parlour, but I much preferred waiting for you here.”
“I’ve come to take you to see Papa,” Georgina said. “I’ve explained most of what you’ve told me, but he would like to see for himself what sort of person you are. Shall we go to him now? In ten minutes Betty can bring tea and some of her delicious caraway-seed cake. Or would you perhaps prefer some sandwiches?”
“Oh, no. Cake is fine. And yes, I would love to meet your father.”
When Georgina managed to distract Abigail away from Nelson, they went to the library where Mr Morton had remained. Georgina knocked before entering. He was still sat in his high-back armchair.
“Papa, this is Abigail. The young person I told you about. She’s hoping to stay with us―for a little while.”
“Indeed?” said Mr Morton.
Abigail dropped a curtsy.
“Yes, sir. And thank you for allowing me to stay in your home. It’s so kind of you.”
“Nothing has been decided, young lady. I don’t know enough about your circumstances to understand if it warrants you staying with us. Would you care to explain what has happened?”
“Oh, Papa. I’ve already told you what has happened, and―”
Mr Morton held up his hand, and Georgina fell silent.
“Let the young lady speak, Georgina. I prefer to hear the story from the source.” Mr Morton looked long and hard in Abigail’s direction. He eyed her from top to toe and made an assessment. Like Georgina, he too came to the decision she was of good family and ought not to have been allowed to venture abroad. But he was determined to get to the bottom of the problem and find out exactly what was going on. “What brought about your departure from Bath, and why did you leave the safety of your home?”
“It wasn’t my home, sir. And the reason I left so suddenly is because I urgently need to reach my Great Aunt, in London. Only…that dreadful coachman cast me off and now I’m stranded in Avebury.”
Mr Morton reached down to a wicker-basket beside his chair; he lifted a log and threw it onto the fire. The log knocked against others burning in the hearth, and sparks danced into life.
He’d had time to think.
“We must write to your Great Aunt, and we must do so at once.” he said. “Your Great Aunt can send someone to collect you.”
Abigail’s eyes widened with fear.
“Oh, no! I must tell you that I do not wish to be collected. I would not wish for my Great Aunt to be so troubled.” Abigail sighed despondently. “Mr Morton…sir…can you not lend me the money to pay my fare? I promise it will be returned as quickly as possible.”
“I won’t lend money,” Mr Morton said. There was a frown on his brow. “Not because I think it will not be returned, but because the same might happen to you again. You could become stranded. Left by the roadside and in a worse position than you are now. Perhaps next time someone of a similar character as that of my daughter will not be on hand to save you.”
“Can Abigail stay, Papa? Please? At least for a little while. Perhaps in a few days she will be more inclined to contact her relatives and seek help. Is that not so, Abigail?”
Abigail nodded. “Yes...perhaps. Maybe in a few days.”
“Surely there can be no harm in her staying with us?” Georgina asked.
Mr Morton raised a brow, sceptically.
“I should imagine her family will be worried, concerned and fretful,” Mr Morton said. “Georgina, if you were to run from home, I certainly would be troubled.”
“Oh, no, Mr Morton. No one will worry about me,” said Abigail with a smile. “Truly.”
“Papa…?” Georgina looked expectantly at her father.
Mr Morton, knowing of his daughter’s determined nature, and realising it might take a few days to uncover all Abigail’s secrets, eventually nodded his consent.
And Georgina was happy. Their guest was to remain.

Disclaimer, Copyrights and Publishing
Any names or characters have no existence outside the imagination of the
author or are used fictitiously, and actual events are purely coincidental.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, copied,
stored in a retrieval system known or hereinafter invented, without
written permission of the publisher.

Copyright © 2019 by – Arabella Sheen
Published by priceplacebooks

All rights reserved.
ISBN 978-0-9575698-4-3

About Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen

Arabella Sheen is a British author of contemporary romance and likes nothing more than the challenge of starting a new novel with fresh ideas and inspiring characters.
One of the many things Arabella loves to do is to read. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons or she is curled on the sofa with a book, while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having lived and worked in the Netherlands as a theatre nurse for nearly twenty years, she now lives in the south-west of England with her family.
Arabella hopes her readers have as much pleasure from her romance stories as she has in writing them.

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