Her Secondhand Groom(3)

By: Rose Gordon



It also helped to alleviate her guilt knowing her parents had borrowed an enormous sum in order to send her off. Not that her parents fired figurative arrows covered heavily with guilt at her that she’d wasted all their money and credit on a useless education and a fruitless Season when her sister, Henrietta, would have made such better use of their funds, but she at least felt that by educating her younger siblings, then her education wasn’t entirely wasted.

Henrietta going to a prestigious girl’s school and participating in a Season would have been met with the coveted results: marriage. Henrietta was everything Juliet wasn’t. Henrietta was slender with a medium height and build. She had the face of an angel decorated with pale blue eyes, pink pouty lips, and porcelain skin that had a brushstroke of pink across each cheek.

Juliet still resembled a girl in many ways with her awkward appearance. Her frame, though tall and slim, lacked the pronounced curves most other young ladies had. Her complexion was the color of honey, making her pale grey eyes and full, red lips more noticeable. Her hair was a dirty blonde and was so thick no matter what she did with it, it slipped free of all its pins no more than an hour after she put it up. To complete the ensemble, she wore spectacles. And not the little delicate ones some ladies and gentlemen wore; no, these were large and clunky. The silver rims were extraordinarily thick. They had to be in order to accommodate the thick, heavy lenses that rested inside. The weight of this hideous, but necessary, piece of apparel was enough that no matter how she moved her face―even if it was just a little―they’d either slide down her nose or stay situated at the top of her nose tipping to the right or left to a rather irritating degree.

No, Juliet Hughes was not an attractive debutante who took London by storm and had the gentlemen prancing after her. She was the shy, plain debutante who blended in with the wallpaper.

“Come on, Juliet,” her youngest brother, Lucas, called, tugging her hand.

Coming back to present, Juliet adjusted her spectacles and shot Lucas an apologetic smiled. “Let’s be off, shall we?” Holding the door open, she waited for her six brothers and sisters to pass through. “Are you coming, too?” she asked Henrietta who was sprawled out on the sofa, seeming not to have a care in the world.

“No.”

Juliet shook her head. “All right. But I have no idea why you’re so against a little sunshine.”

“Because then my skin would be like yours,” Henrietta replied with a shudder.

“And that’s such a crime since you have such lofty marriage prospects, don’t you?” Juliet mumbled under her breath as she none-too-gently shut the front door. “And which way shall we be walking today?”

“That way,” Dara said, pointing her stubby finger down the lane that didn’t lead to the village but away.

Juliet shrugged. There wasn’t any reason not to go that way. It was probably better they didn’t go into the village anyway. Last time they went by the confectioner’s shop she was reminded that it was her fault they’d never get to taste sweets again. Clearing her throat and her thoughts, she nodded. “Very well. Let’s go for a walk down the lane and perhaps we can take one of those little trails that lead down to the creek.”

“You’re not going to turn this into a science lesson, are you?” Peter asked with a pout.

Tapping her index finger against her lip, Juliet cocked her head to the left and nearly lost her spectacles. Righting those pesky things, she said, “Actually, that’s an excellent idea. I don’t know much about biology,” or science in general if one wanted to be particular, “but I do know a little.” A few years back while she was attending Sloan’s School for Young Ladies she’d met a young girl named Edwina Banks who was a few years her junior. Edwina had an older brother, Alex Banks, the current Baron Watson, who had the greatest interest in science of anyone she’d ever met.

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