The Awakening of a Forbidden Passion (Preview)

Chapter One

(One month earlier: May Ball at Ruby House, home of Lord and Lady Tisdale.)

Priscilla stood beside her sister, Bridgitte, surveying the ballroom. There were couples there already enjoying some of the more rousing country dances. “That looks like quite a merry time,” Bridgitte commented with a grin at the swirling couples.

“I think it is high time that you stopped having so much amusement at the balls, and started paying attention to the gentleman you have been introduced to,” Priscilla said with a frown.

Balls and all of their glitz had never been Priscilla’s element. It all seemed so frivolous. It probably did not help her disposition that Priscilla found herself quite lacking when it came to dancing.

Bridgitte, on the other hand, was light and graceful on her feet. Whereas Priscilla preferred to play the piano, Bridgitte was often found dancing along to the music. This was just the kind of place that Bridgitte felt most at home.

To Priscilla’s surprise, Bridgitte did not mock her words. Instead, Bridgitte nodded along with her. “Your words are wise tonight, Priss.” Priss was a grating childhood nickname that Bridgitte had endowed Priscilla with when they were both just wee girls.

Priscilla pressed her mouth into a thin line. Her eyes watched Bridgitte suspiciously. “I have never known you to agree that something I said had merit without a grueling battle. You must have drunk too much punch, Bridgitte.”

“Do not jest so,” Bridgitte whispered. She looked around and then back at Priscilla. “Someone might hear you and think you are being serious.”

The corners of Priscilla’s lips quirked up. “Ah, worried that someone might found out you are a tenor when you are deep in your cups?”

“I am not.” Bridgitte folded her arms, which really looked quite ridiculous with her dressed in her best formal gown.

Priscilla waved off her sister’s petulant glare. “Never you mind about all that ribbing. I am quite serious about it being high time that we found ourselves two perfect matches.”

“I actually could not agree more,” Bridgitte declared, dropping her arms and clutching her hands together. “I do not suppose you have any particular gentleman in mind?”

Priscilla pondered why her sister’s usually sharp tongue was so dulled, but it was nice. Priscilla had tried many times to bond with her younger sister, but had failed miserably to find some common ground. Perhaps this Season would finally prove to be such a thing for them.

She was just about to answer her sister when she cast her eyes away from her sister and her vision landed on two gentlemen who were talking across the room. There was an older man, but it was the younger man who drew Priscilla’s eye. There was something about him.

“Priscilla,” Bridgitte said with irritation. “What are you looking at that is so fascinating?”

Her eyes went to Bridgitte as a blush dusted her cheeks. “I thought I saw someone I recognised, but I was mistaken.” She did not know truly why she lied. Perhaps it was embarrassment, or just maybe it was an urge to keep the dashing man to herself for the moment. Her charming sister would certainly have no trouble shifting the gentleman’s gaze to herself, and Priscilla wanted to live in the fantasy that he was hers alone for the time being.

Bridgitte did not look thoroughly convinced but she seemed to not have noticed what had caught Priscilla’s eyes, much to Priscilla’s relief. Priscilla cleared her throat. “I have no particular gentleman in mind, no.” She gave her sister a smile. “Have you narrowed down your choices?”

A light, airy laugh escaped Bridgitte. She lifted a delicate, gloved hand to her lips in a gesture sweetly refined by years of practice in front of her vanity mirror. Priscilla had seen Bridgitte do so since they were children.

“You make it sound as if I have the whole of the county at my beck and call, Priss.” Bridgitte shook her head, a smile lingering on her lips. “Yet, I do have a few ideas.”

Priscilla cocked an eyebrow, in much the way their father did. “A few?”

“I do agree that we should start taking this opportunity seriously, but there is no need to rush into such a formidable decision.” Bridgitte gave Priscilla a look that asked if she was going to challenge the logic of that statement.

With a sigh, Priscilla turned her attention back to the room. A gentleman approached and Priscilla gave him only a passing glance. He was not here after her. Sure enough, the young man stopped in front of Bridgitte and gave her a bow.

“May have the honor of this dance?” The young man extended his hand toward Bridgitte, hope beaming from his youthful face.

Bridgitte must have been feeling generous, as she usually turned down the first man who approached her each dance. This time she accepted with a gentle smile and put her hand in his. “That sounds splendid,” Bridgitte breathed like a ray of sunshine and the young man’s face lit up as if he had won some prize.

Priscilla lost interest in her sister’s escapades. Her eyes went back to where she had seen the handsome man. He was nowhere to be seen, however. Priscilla felt her heart grow heavy.

It was a silly thing, yet there it was all the same. Her heart longed to see the young man yet again. She caught a flash of dark brown hair and her lips quirked up into a smile.

There he was talking with some other men. Priscilla felt the rush of blood in her veins and then her heart skipped a beat as his brown eyes met her own blue gaze. She had always felt quite ordinary, but caught in his gaze she felt beautiful.

Priscilla looked away out of a sense of self-preservation. She put a hand on her chest. This was the oddest sensation. Was this how women fell into ill-repute?

She should not have been staring at him so. That he had caught her was too much to think about it. Yet, she had felt no embarrassment when their gazes had connected.

Priscilla turned on her heel and went to talk with a group of ladies that she recognisedwhile staunchly pushing down the urge to look back over at the brown-haired man. Was he still looking? The question nagged at her.

She conversed with friends and acquaintances. She even managed to forget about her mystery man for a time. Then, it happened that her gaze shifted across the shoulder of one of her companions and she found a most perplexing sight.

The brown-haired man was standing across the room talking with a merchant that Priscilla was sure she knew, but the man’s name evaded her. His conversation was not what was peculiar, however. The strange part was that he had been looking at her, or at least in her direction. Had he been watching her?

The man, seeing that he was caught in his reverie, looked away. A smile spread over Priscilla’s face as she turned her attention back to her companions. Perhaps finding a suitable husband would not be such a trying affair, after all?

(Present – June)

The tailoring shop owned by Miss Rowles was well known as the place to go for a beautiful dress. Priscilla was not disappointed when she came to Miss Rowles with her expectations about a wedding dress. Her maid tugged the dress and Priscilla laughed as the maid synched her up into the wedding dress.

“I think you will be safely locked away in this until your husband sees fit to release you,” Gwen, her maid, said with a smile in the mirror.

Priscilla had to agree. “Yes, I do not think I shall be able to free myself of it.”

“Best not go running off then,” Gwen teased. The maid’s plump, freckled cheeks made dimples as she grinned.

The idea of running away was not one that Priscilla had entertained. She gave Gwen a smile. “The very idea of Morton heiress running away from her duties is enough to call down the wrath of my whole family line.”

“I think his Lordship did a fine job arranging your marriage,” Gwen said as if the words needed to be spoken.

Priscilla gave a light shrug. “Philip is a good man.”

“And a duke,” Gwen added, not that Priscilla needed reminding. Bridgitte had been a bit putout when their father, the Earl of Chaplin, had announced that Philip would marry Priscilla.

Of course, Priscilla had been just as surprised. She had danced with, and spoke with,Philip, yes. Yet how could she view the man as anything but the boy she had grown up with?

She thought of Philip, his gentle reassurances that things would work out just fine. “Just you wait and see,” as he always said.

Priscilla frowned at her hair in the mirror’s reflection. “Do you think I should have my hair up for the wedding?”

“Oh, yes,” Gwen enthused. “Perhaps with some flowers?”

Priscilla liked that idea. “It might compliment the simpleness of my dress.” She looked down at her cream-colored dress. “You do not think it is too simple, do you?”

“I think it is perfect for you, Miss.” Gwen brought Priscilla’s hair up in a twist. “Oh my, you will look like a princess.”

“I do not know about that, but I know you will have me looking my best.” Priscilla frowned as a thought crossed her mind. “What if Philip did not get the date that I requested?”

Gwen giggled. “I think he would have said something about that.”

“You are probably right. I just am too used to worrying,” Priscilla said as she smoothed the silken skirt down.

Priscilla felt Gwen’s hand on her arm and she looked around at her maid. “I do not know a bride alive that wasn’t worried over every little thing before her wedding. I think that’s just how God made women. We worry.”

Gwen’s words brought a smile to Priscilla’s face. She nodded and looked back at herself in the mirror. “I suppose that is just the way of things.”

“And a good thing too. With marriage and children come lots of worries,” Gwen said.

Her words made Priscilla look around at her again. “I forget sometimes that you are married. I shall lean upon you heavily.”

“Good thing that I was made to bear weight,” Gwen replied with a wink. “I am always at your side, Miss. I trust in His Grace’s good intentions to keep you safe.”

Priscilla agreed with a nod of her head. “I think the tailor has done a fine job,” Priscilla said, as she really did not know what else to say.

Gwen gave the dress a good once over. “Mmhmm. It looks like she knows her stitching. Shall I help you get back out of it?”

“I would appreciate it,” Priscilla replied with a chuckle. “I would hate to tear it trying to get out of it.”

Gwen whispered, “Mustn’t take away His Grace’s fun.”

Priscilla gave a half-hearted laugh. Gwen did not seem to notice and Priscilla felt relief for that. The maid hummed a little song that Priscilla did not recogniseas she worked to free Priscilla of the dress’ bondage.

Once she was free and carefully made modest again, Priscilla felt better. The wedding was not far off, and yet it did not feel real. She hoped it became more so, but everything seemed so distant.

Gwen carried on as if Priscilla were paying rapt attention. It felt nice to not have to respond. Priscilla could merely nod along with the maid and Gwen kept up a constant flow of chatter.

While Gwen rambled on Priscilla’s mind wandered. It felt odd to hear Philip referred to as His Grace. That had always been Philip’s father. Philip was just Philip.

Priscilla found it very hard to rationalisethat the scrawny scamp she ran through fields with as a child was now the tall, handsome duke she was destined to marry. Was that not the perfect start to one of those dreamy romantic poems that her governess read all the time? Yet there was no romance between them.

He was kind, considerate, cordial even. Yet Priscilla could only look upon him with warm thoughts of friendship. There were no breath-stealing moments or furtive glances.

“Do you think His Grace will come to call upon you this evening?” Gwen’s question brought Priscilla back from her mind wandering.

Her brows wrinkled as she thought about that. “It is likely. He said that he would be back from his outing and he seemed eager to stop by.”

“Of course he is,” Gwen said with a grin. “Shall you bring the dress with you now or have it delivered?”

Priscilla had always been a bit clumsy. “I think I shall let the tailor deliver it. There was that stitch that was loose, after all.”

“Right,” Gwen said as she nodded her head. “I had forgotten about that completely, what with you looking so bedazzling in it.”

Priscilla waved off Gwen’s foolishness. Her mother did not like how informal Gwen was at times to Priscilla, but there was only a few years difference between them. Priscilla thought of Gwen as a friend. They had known each other for years and Gwen had a lot more life experience than Priscilla. She was a natural ally in these strange times.

“Gwen,” Priscilla said in low voice. “Did you love your husband before you were married?”

Gwen hung the wedding dress carefully on the hook by the door before she turned around to eye Priscilla with amusement. “I didn’t even know him, Miss.”

“Surely you jest,” Priscilla said, trying to imagine what that would be like.

Gwen shrugged her shoulders and smiled. “Well, I suppose I did meet him a few times beforehand. Mind you, I had no say in the matter whatsoever.”

“I have heard of that many times. We had a cousin whose father married her off quite suddenly. Took us all quite by surprise. He had seemed a reasonable fellow before that.” Priscilla frowned as she remembered how she had heard the news and then her cousin had simply been married.

Gwen nodded. “Parents always want to make a good life for their child. Just like me, they always think they know best. It’s why Fred wanted me to leave my work as a maid. As if we could survive on just what he brings in from the factory.”

Priscilla did not like to think about it all. She drew in a breath before she ventured, “But you grew to love your husband?”

“Oh, yes, Fred is a fine chap,” Gwen said with a content smile as if she were remembering something fond and warm.

Priscilla smiled at the look of affection on Gwen’s face. It made her feel better to know that love could grow out of such a beginning as Gwen and her Fred must have had. She noticed Gwen watching her a bit and she gave Gwen a curious look.

Gwen had a twinkle in her eye that made Priscilla uneasy. “You got the cold feet, haven’t ye?”

“Is that what this is?” Priscilla puzzled over the question. “I do not suppose I know what it feels like so I cannot say.”

Gwen giggled. “It feels like you might be about to step off into a deep hole, one you don’t see.”

“Maybe,” Priscilla replied honestly. “What if I do not love him as I should?”

Gwen pushed her lips out as she pondered Priscilla’s question. “What is the right way to love a man?” Gwen shook her head. “What is it that truly bothers you about it all?”

“I have known His Grace for all my life. I do not know how to suddenly see him any differently just because Mother and Father have decided that it is time we made a life together.”

An understanding hum escaped Gwen. She gave Priscilla look of compassion. “It might be a true gift to marry a man you know so well. You will have no fear of the unknown with him. Why, true friendship can blossom into a fine rose.”

“I do hope that is the case,” Priscilla whispered. “I feel foolish that I worry so, yet—”

“Yet, you cannot help it,” Gwen said as she laid her hand on Priscilla’s shoulder. “Oh Miss, I wish I could quiet your worries, but they are natural. Every woman feels such things sometimes.”

Priscilla knew that what Gwen said held truth, but this did not quiet the nagging thought that things were not exactly right. “You are right.”

***

Doctor George Rowley met his patients in many places that were slightly less savory than he would have liked. Today was a pleasant change from sour-smelling bedrooms. He was checking on Timothy Henderson, the youngest son of the seamstress that lived at the corner of Elm and Arlington Roads.

Mrs. Henderson’s house smelled of lemons from her vigorous cleaning. George had told the woman of the usefulness of such things to combat the foulness of the diseases that tormented her youngest son. The lemon-scented breeze wafted through pristine white lace curtains that lifted with its touch as George warmed his stethoscope.

George gave the boy a smile as he put the end of the stethoscope against Tim’s chest. “Big breath, Timmy,” George said as he keened his ears to listen for the tell-tale wheeze and rattle of pneumonia that had developed in the child’s lungs after a prolonged battle with a vicious cold.

Tim drew in a breath and let it out slowly. The child’s eyes were wide with dread. George knew that he hated the medicine and probably hated even more that George had insisted on bed rest for him. No doubt the child was wondering what sort of foul torment George had for him today.

After a couple more breaths George removed his stethoscope and slung it around his neck like a garish scarf. “Mrs. Henderson, I do believe that Timmy here has earned himself some time out of this bed.”

No sooner had George said the words than Tim let out a triumphant, “Yahoo!”

George raised a hand to halt the boy who was already half out of the bed. “Easy does it,” George warned. He turned toward Mrs. Henderson who held her hands clasped together as if holding herself back from celebrating as well. George told her, “Make sure he plays outside when it is not too hot. We do not want to strain his lungs. And make sure he takes frequent rests.”

Mrs. Henderson bobbed her head. “Whatever you say, Doctor Rowley.”

George gave Tim’s hair a ruffle with his hand. “On with you then, Master Timmy!” The boy shot George a grin before he eyed his mother to see if she also approved. She must have done because Tim was soon out of the room, bare feet and all.

Mrs. Henderson called, “Timmy, come back and put something on your feet! We shall not have you undoing all of Doctor Rowley’s hard work!”

George just shook his head as he gathered up his equipment and put it back into his black leather bag. He followed the mother out of the room as she went to fetch Timothy from doing himself damage. “Mrs. Henderson,” George said as he got to the front door. “If he begins to cough, give him some of the elixirs I left and put on a kettle for some lemon and honey tea. I shall be back to check on him in a week, but please call me if you need me sooner.”

“Bless you, Doctor Rowley,” Mrs. Henderson said as she clutched her apron. “Here, I know it isn’t much.” She held out her hand and George tried to wave off the coins, but she insisted as she pressed them into his palm. “You do so much for us. Let us pay you, won’t you?”

George sighed and nodded. If it made the woman feel better then he supposed it could not hurt. “You are a kind woman, Mrs. Henderson. I shall see you in a week, no payment necessary.”

Mrs. Henderson looked like she might start singing his praises again, and George took evasive action by giving her a bow and replacing his hat on his head. With the signal given, he bid her good morning and stepped off down the street with a clear conscience. As he walked he listened to the clatter of dishes, the trill of voices, and the general din of life in London.

George had come to London to study at one of the local hospitals and earn his license. He had never intended on staying, as his goal in earning a medical degree had had little to do with the masses. No, George had gotten his license to help his mother who was very sick.

Unfortunately George could not save her, even with all his learning. It perhaps had been folly to think he could succeed where the other doctors had failed. His mother had smiled at him. She had called him her “gentleman doctor.”

George took his mind away from his mother. His failure stung too much when he held it close. He looked instead down the hill towards the river. The fog was gathered there and George treaded on toward it.

He might have failed his mother but he had sworn to help people just as she wanted him to do. He would save the whole of London if it lifted this weight from his heart. To mend others was to mend ourselves, as his old mentor at the hospital had told him once when George’s doubts had gotten the better of him. He would heal himself one patient at a time.

Scene 3 Priscilla POV

Early the next morning, Priscilla eyed Gwen in the mirror as the maid combed and braided Priscilla’s brown hair. My hair really is the most boring color, Priscilla decided. She much preferred Gwen’s auburn locks. They were so dramatic compared to Priscilla’s mundane hair.

“What are you pouting at?” Gwen asked with a grin.

Priscilla laughed and gave a sigh. “I just wish my hair was not such a dreary thing. It is so bleak compared to yours.”

“I like your hair. It reminds me of chocolate cake. I love chocolate cake,” Gwen said with an unabashed look of amusement.

Priscilla could not stop herself from rolling her eyes. “I like chocolate cake too, but do you not think that red velvet cake is more dramatic?”

“Tastes the same with your eyes closed,” Gwen replied with her tongue in her cheek.

Priscilla laughed. “It is too early to be talking of dessert.”

“What will you do today, Miss?” Gwen was just about done braiding her hair.

Pricilla thought of all that she had to accomplish before the wedding. She really did not have that much left. The wedding was drawing closer and closer, no matter how Priscilla wished the time would slow down. “Well, Mother is insistent that I look at more dresses, even though we have a perfectly good one.”

“That sounds like Lady Chaplin,” Gwen said. She gave Priscilla a compassionate smile. “Do you want me to tag along today and be a buffer for you?”

“No,” Priscilla said and she noticed that Gwen looked visibly relieved. Priscilla smiled. “I can handle my mother. Now if you could tell me how to handle my sister then I would be beholden to you for all time.”

Gwen whistled. “Not sure I can solve that riddle for you. I never even understood my own sister.”

“She is my younger sister but we are not that far apart in age,” Priscilla continued. “I want to be close to her. We should be close, should we not?”

Gwen heaved a sigh and walked over to the vanity to put away the brush. “Not all sisters are close. I have three sisters and I only really speak to one of them. Family does not always mean friendship, but I do hope you can find some way to connect with your sister, Miss. If that is truly what you want, I hope it happens.”

Priscilla nodded. “I hope so too, but I fear that my hope gets further from reality every day. I think she resents me for marrying first.”

“How could that be? You are the oldest and therefore should marry first,” Gwen said with a shake of her head.

Priscilla knew all of that. Her mother had told her the same thing and said she was just being paranoid because of her nerves. Perhaps that was true. It could be true.

“I just wish that I could find some common ground with Bridgitte.” Priscilla had been trying for so long to come up with something that she and her sister agreed on,and she had really thought that this Season in London might be the thing that did that. They were both thrust into the spotlight, which Bridgitte was clearly more comfortable in, and Priscilla had been happy to let her sister shine.

Priscilla preferred to play her piano and sing than to dance with men at fancy balls. Bridgitte, however, had the fever that came with the discovery of the male gender. The symptoms of the batting eyelashes and flushed cheeks were all too evident in her sister. At first, Priscilla had gotten most of the attention, to Bridgitte’s chagrin.

It did not take long for Priscilla to lose favour in the eyes of prospective dance partners when it became obvious that her strength was not being a charming decorative ornament to hang on their arms. Bridgitte knew when to laugh and when to dip her head demurely, and just what to say to make the gentlemen come back for another dance.

Really, if Priscilla thought about it, it made sense that her father would choose Priscilla to wed first. After all, she was definitely the one who needed help withmaking a match. There was no doubt that Bridgitte would find a suitable husband in time.

“You will find what you need in time,” Gwen said, and Priscilla looked at her oddly before she remembered what she had said just beforehand.

Priscilla nodded. “I suppose everything just takes the Lord’s own time.”

“Can’t rush it, even if we try, Miss,” Gwen said with a smile. “Do you honestly think Lady Chaplin will make you buy another dress?”

Priscilla stood up with a sigh. “With my mother, I have learned to never underestimate her. Clearly, we did not find the dress that she wanted.”

“Yes, with it being her wedding she should have a say,” Gwen said with polished smarm that Priscilla would never match, or even attempt.

Priscilla giggled. “Might not want to say that too loudly.”

“I always listen for the clinking of her heels before I speak,” Gwen informed Priscilla with a wink. “If you don’t need my assistance today, then I may go to see my mother.”

Priscilla raised her eyebrows. “Is she doing well?”

“Yes,” Gwen said in a rush of breath. “I didn’t mean to sound so alarming. She just has had a bit of nerves lately. The doctor says she just needs to stop worrying so much.”

With a shake of her head, Priscilla whispered, “Fine thing to tell a mother.”

“That’s what I said,” Gwen whispered back as if it was a secret. She drew herself up. “I had better go get things sorted before I head off.”

Priscilla gave her a smile. “Good luck with the housekeeper.”

“Oh that old bat doesn’t scare me a bit,” Gwen said loudly then whispered, “She might scare me a little.” Gwen flashed Priscilla a grin then was swiftly out of the room with a wave.

Priscilla shook her head and gave herself one last look over in the mirror. She hoped Gwen had a better day than she was in for. Priscilla imagined herself as impervious as she turned to go downstairs and face her mother over breakfast.

She left her room with a sense of foreboding, as if at any moment something dreadful might wait around the corner, or maybe that corner, or that one over there. Yet nothing impeded her progress down the hall or the stairs. Priscilla sighed heavily as she stepped onto the marble floor at the base of the stairs.

“So much for ghastly kidnappers lurking to swoop me away,” Priscilla said under her breath.

A deep chuckle caused her to turn around and see the doorman at his station. “Wary the ogre on the way to the dining hall,” Jensen called.

Priscilla felt her face warm with embarrassment. She lifted her hand in a wave at the man. He had been with the family for just a few years, but Priscilla liked him. He was a kind soul, and he liked a good joke as much as she did.

“If he means to take me away from all of this, I might willingly go with him,” Priscilla told the doorman with a smile.

Jensen chuckled again, the deep sound resonating around the entrance hall. “Ogres are a mean lot, Miss. Might want to wait for the next unscrupulous lout.”

“You make a good point,” Priscilla conceded. “I suppose I shall have to eat breakfast with my mother and father no matter what this morning.”

Jenson gave a nod of his head. “Probably for the best.”

Priscilla did not know about all of that, but she certainly did not seem to have much in the way of choice. She turned herself toward the dining hall with resignation. There was nothing she could do to halt the passage of time, and she might as well get used to it.

The estate where Priscilla and her family resided was East House, which was what her very unimaginative grandfather had named their estate.It stood in the outskirts of London in a sprawling network of other estates for the landed gentry who wished to be near London but not in the heart of it. Priscilla rather liked the fact that they were close enough to be involved in all London had to offer, but far enough away to pretend the unpleasant nature of London did not exist.

The doors to the dining hall greeted her with a solemnness that rivaled the church doors before a sinner. She knew she had to go in but it did not make the act of doing so any less costly to her. A male staff member by the door gave her a bow as she approached, and pulled open the heavy oak doors for her.

It was very much like a large castle gate being pulled aside to allow Priscilla to enter. Whether she was champion, emissary, or prisoner remained to be seen. The occupants of the dining hall looked up with expectant boredom.

Priscilla gave her mother and father a bright smile that she had practiced so much of late that her cheeks hurt. “What a nice morning! Hello Father, Mother.” She dipped her head to each of them respectfully.

The Earl of Chaplin regarded her with a slight curve to his lips Her father always seemed to have a smile lurking just behind his expression as if he were forever amused by the world, but of too good a breeding to show it. “Good morning, Priscilla. Join us for breakfast.”

As if that was not the whole point of her coming to the dining hall, Priscilla gave him a pleased smile. “Thank you, Father.” She sat down at her usual seat to her father’s right side, across from her mother.

“I saw in the paper that there was some unrest in the city,” Priscilla said as she tested the waters to see her parents’ moods.

Her mother gave her a disapproving look. “What business has a lady reading such drivel?”

“A lady should be aware of the world around her, Evelyn,” her father said to her mother.

Lady Chaplin sighed at her husband. “You encourage her too much to keep her nose pressed into books. It is very hard to be ladylike with ink on one’s nose.”

“A man who marries a gentile woman should expect her to have a good head on her shoulders,” Lord Chaplin retorted. There was that ever-presenting half-smile again, Priscilla noted.

Lady Chaplin narrowed her eyes at Lord Chaplin. Priscilla felt like they were not done arguing, but Lady Chaplin’s eyes swung around to her and Priscilla was grateful that a maid chose that moment to come by and offer her some drink. “Oh thank you,” Priscilla said with gratitude to the young maid.

The maid looked a bit surprised at how grateful Priscilla was, but she quickly bobbed her head and was off again to the kitchen. Priscilla’s father served her some of the meal as was customary. The maid’s interruption had caused the conversation to lull, which Priscilla thought was just as well.

That is until her father said, “I saw the papers as well. I think that it all harkens back to those factories and the newer additions to the gentleman ranks of society.”

“How so, Father?” Priscilla took a sip of her tea and waited patiently as her father seemed to gather his thoughts.

Lord Chaplin leaned forward on the table as he did when he became truly engaged in a topic. His elbows firmly planted on the table, his hands clasped in front of him as if begging his audience to heed his words, Lord Chaplin said, “The factory owners have come into their lands through sudden spoils. They have no grounding in history or family. They need to be tempered.”

“But why should it be that owning land makes one have to give up their livelihood? I have heard you speak of this before and you seemed rather fixated that they keep working instead of relinquishing their factories once they own land.” Priscilla set her teacup down, firmly passing the torch back to her father as she watched him with curious eyes.

Lord Chaplin laughed and shook a finger at Priscilla. “At least you do listen to something I say.”

Whatever her father would have said next was pushed aside as Bridgitte stormed into the dining hall. Priscilla’s younger sister always came into any room like a force of nature. Some days her entrance was sunlight and gentle breezes, but today it was a thunderstorm full of crashes and stomps.

“My maid tore my favourite dress!” Bridgitte screamed the proclamation as if calling for the maid’s head on a platter. Everyone at the table cringed as her voice shrilled up into the higher octaves.

Lady Chaplin scolded, “Calm yourself, Bridgitte. We do not throw tantrums over clothing. A dress can be mended or a new one purchased. Your reputation is not as easily fixed.”

Bridgitte had the good sense to look embarrassed as she sank into her seat next to their mother. “Forgive me. I just became overwhelmed with grief. It was my favourite dress.”

“One should try not to let one’s emotions rule them,” Lord Chaplin said firmly,then he added in a softer tone, “I know it is hard for ladies to control their emotions at times. You must forgive your right of birth on that.”

Bridgitte frowned. “I just wish to eat and forget it all.”

“That is probably a good call,” Lord Chaplin assured his youngest daughter as he served her a plate of food.

Bridgitte thanked him and then glanced over at Priscilla. “You look nice.”

“Thank you,” Priscilla said, wondering if it actually was a compliment. After all, Bridgitte was not one to throw out compliments without thought and Priscilla looked much as she did every morning. “Did your maid do something different with your hair?”

Bridgitte’s hand went to her hair self-consciously. “Why? Is something wrong with it?” Lord Chaplin arched an eyebrow at the discussion and went back to drinking his coffee.

Priscilla assured her, “No. Not at all. I just do not think that I have seen you wear your hair like that before. It is rather lovely.”

“Oh,” Bridgitte said as if she were trying to work out Priscilla’s aim. Priscilla guessed that perhaps talking to Bridgitte over breakfast was not going to be her best bet.

“Mother and I are going to look at dresses. You should come,” Priscilla said with a smile at her sister.

Bridgitte’s lips dipped into a frown again. “I thought you had a dress.”

“Mother thinks that she can find a better one,” Priscilla informed her sister. The two of them shared a look. The only thing they could agree on was that their mother was singularly impossible. Perhaps having Bridgitte along would help them bond over their shared misery.

Lady Chaplin chimed in, “You should come, Bridgitte. It would be fun to have both my daughters on an outing. After all, once Priscilla is married it may be some time before we can do so again.”

There was that look, Priscilla noted. Bridgitte’s face had taken on a sour undertone that their mother seemed to overlook or not notice. Priscilla noticed it though. She wished she could make her sister see that it was really a compliment to her that their parents did not think Bridgitte need such aid as an arrangement.

Bridgitte nodded slowly, reluctantly. “Of course, Mother. It sounds very enjoyable.”

The way Bridgitte said it made it sound like anything but something pleasant. Priscilla took a sip of her tea, willing it to bolster her for the coming day. Surely something good had to come of all her perseverance. Was it not her father who said that if she stuck with something, eventually she would master it? Apparently, that sentiment did not apply to sisters.


“The Awakening of a Forbidden Passion” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Miss Priscilla Morton had everything planned out for her, including her upcoming wedding with her childhood friend, but it will all suddenly fall to pieces when a tragic and mysterious accident wipes out all her memories. When she wakes up, the handsome doctor who cares for her will awaken a fire within her very soul, but he will also inform her that she’s to marry another. Torn between passion and commitment, will she be able to make the right choice?

What Doctor Rowley only ever wanted is to save those he cared for. But helping those in need always kept him away from romance. The only time he came close to love, it slipped right through his fingers before it even started. In a surprising turn of events, fate brought her back to him in the form of his patient, yet he cannot have her, as she is destined to be with another! His feelings for her may be forbidden but how will he be able to resist her fiery nature?

They have discovered their electrifying connection under very peculiar circumstances, but before succumbing to their feelings, they have a mystery to solve. What caused the accident of Priscilla? Was it perhaps fate that brought them together for a reason, or is there something more sinister happening under everybody’s nose?

“The Awakening of a Forbidden Passion” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

Get your copy from Amazon!

7 thoughts on “The Awakening of a Forbidden Passion (Preview)”

  1. Sisters will be sisters.
    I sense that Bridgette and Priscilla
    are going to be very entertaining!
    The plot of the book is intreguing.
    Lovely characters.
    Beautiful cover
    Let’s await the book!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words and support, dear Austin. I truly appreciate it!

      So glad you enjoyed the story! Make sure to stay tuned because I have more coming!

  2. The characters are gripping. Immediately, I have two or three scenarios as to the rest of book. Is Bridgette miffed that Priscilla will marry first? Or, does she want Philip for herself? Who was the man Priscilla eyed at the dance? I feel intrigue afoot!

  3. I’m so looking forward to more about these two sisters. Can’t wait to complete the first book & hope for many more stories about these two sisters.

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