Compromising Kessen

By: Rachel van Dyken

Chapter One

It was during the painfully loud and equally long rendition of “God Save the Queen” that Kessen decided she hated England. For the past two days her father had stopped at nothing short of threatening to cut his ties with her if she didn’t start taking her British heritage seriously.

“But, Father,” she had argued, even though she knew it was pointless to argue with a British lord without having to endure a dreary lecture about her place in the world. “I’m American. I was born in the United States!” Her voice grew louder as his eyes closed in despair. “We live in Colorado! Why is this a big deal?”

He had stared at her for what seemed like two hours, though it was closer to two minutes, his hazel eyes boring into her as if trying to set her on fire.

“Big deal!” he bellowed. She would say he yelled, but whenever it was mentioned that he raised his voice, he would give her a devastatingly long talk about how he never yelled, and lords who did yell had no sense of pride whatsoever.

“It is a big deal because I say it is! You are an heiress, my dear. There are certain things about your heritage which make it of the utmost importance for you to not only accept who you are, but to take pride in it.”

He had turned away, sweeping the ground with his large feet, and then sat in his favorite chair by the grand fireplace. “My dear, I do not want our legacy lost with me. I want nothing more than for you to respect and honor your heritage; is that so much to ask?” He looked up at her with pain in his eyes. Kessen knew she was done for. Her father knew how she pitied him when he gave her that look of complete anguish.

She cleared her throat, mainly to keep from crying. It had been an emotional six months. Her mother had been battling ovarian cancer for the past five years. The battle was finally over, but it didn’t mean her mother’s death hadn’t left a permanent mark on the Newberry family. The relationship between Kessen and her father had suffered immensely without the sweetness of Kessen’s mother.

Kessen knew she was the spitting image of her father, which made it so easy for them to engage in long arguments and discussions. It brought Kessen’s maturity level to astounding new lows each time her father discussed with her the need to align herself with her British heritage, as if being the daughter of an aristocrat wasn’t enough.

Kessen’s father had been on edge ever since her mother’s death, and who could blame him? He was the Earl of Newberry, which was an old and prominent earldom in Great Britain. One summer while he was studying at Oxford, he met Kessen’s mother and fell deeply in love. She moved back to Colorado and he soon followed, not caring that he left so much of his history and family behind. Love does crazy things. His aristocratic family thought him insane. The only family who still kept in touch was Kessen’s grandmother. Grandmother had always been supportive of Kessen’s father following his heart.

Kessen sighed as she put her shaking hands against her temples. The throbbing in her head told her unpleasant pain was rearing its ugly head.

Although her mother hadn’t hated London, it had always been a topic of discussion at the dinner table. Kessen had always taken her mother’s side that Brits put too much emphasis on tea. The running joke was if Newberry and Co. ever decided to start selling coffee, the entire country would boycott.

Kessen wasn’t certain why she disliked London, because it really wasn’t a hate, not unless she was exaggerating—which she had been known to do in her time. No, it was more of a blinding fear that the more she aligned herself with her father’s British heritage, the closer she was to losing her mother’s.

Kessen dabbed at her eyes for the second time that day and took a deep breath. It usually took a lot for her to cry, but lately it seemed to be all she was doing. Out of her family, she had always been the balanced one, the one who wasn’t a dreamer, who took life for what it was. Her mother would say she pitied her lack of imagination; her dad would claim it was the British blood. She merely smiled a tight smile and walked off, thinking about ways she could steal the Wall Street Journal from her father’s study without him finding out.