An Earl's Agreement(125)By: Joyce Alec
Much to John's dismay, Lady Henrietta didn't want to leave her room. It was with great effort that she attended dinner. She was right; he didn't mind one bit that she had changed rooms.
“There's just something very soothing about the bedroom. I do believe I could stay there forever,” she exclaimed at dinner.
“You can change anything you want. It is your home now,” John told her.
“Well, perhaps there are some things I would like to change, but not the room. It is perfect,” Lady Henrietta grinned like a Cheshire cat from the freedom she was just awarded to redecorate anything she wanted. She turned to Amelia and inquired about her carriage ride with Bartley.
Amelia found it very difficult to hide her discomfort, and her cheeks had failed to return to their normal color.
Not wanting to speak ill of the duke’s cousin, Amelia chose her words carefully, “The carriage ride was lovely. Lord Swinford was right; London is beautiful at Christmastime. Lord Swinford was—”
“…charming, handsome, sincere in his feelings,” Henrietta chuckled as she finished Amelia’s sentence.
Amelia smiled, “I was going to say, Lord Swinford was an excellent host.” She paused, then continued, “I have never known a man to declare his love so…vehemently. I suspect he is trying to throw me off course by pretending not to know who I am,” she said with a hint of disappointment.
“Lady Amelia, I have not revealed your heritage to my cousin, if that is your concern. He is as sincere as they come. There are no hidden agendas with him. On that count, you can be assured,” John answered.
Henrietta offered, “I have only discussed you in terms of your beauty and grace, Amelia. The fact you are a marquess's daughter has not been mentioned by me either. I know you want someone to fall in love with you, not your position. So, what do you think of him? I do so hope you give Lord Swinford a chance.”
Amelia brought her finger to her mouth, in a motion to warn Henrietta to be quiet. She didn’t want to engage in any sort of gossip in front of the duke.
Henrietta waved her off, “Do not deny it. We have been friends for too long, and I can see it in your eyes. You enjoyed the carriage ride,” Henrietta said.
Amelia was quiet. It was rather wonderful to have a man declare his love. She didn't like being suspicious of his intentions, but it was her nature to be cautious. Perhaps tomorrow she would behave more favorably towards Bartley now that she was certain that his admissions of love were for her, and not her position, but how could he really love her?
“I am feeling rather tired. Do you mind if we postpone our card game until tomorrow, dear Henrietta? It seems I have much to think about,” Lady Amelia said as they finished dinner.
The lack of sleep from the night before was catching up with her.
“Not at all, Amelia. We shall meet in the morning for breakfast and make a plan of action with regards to the earl.”
Amelia rolled her eyes at her friend while smiling.
Lady Henrietta was feeling very happy as she retired to her room. Things were working out beautifully. In a few days, she would be the Duchess of Kentonville, and perhaps another wedding in the Springtime was on the cards. She was waiting for her maid, Mary, to return, but as she sat in her chair, she thought about the last duchess who never got to see the room in all its splendor.
The light of the lamp was playing a strange game with Lady Henrietta's mind. The reflection of light in the mirror was mesmerizing, and then she noticed how it bounced off the other mirror. Henrietta thought it was odd to position two mirrors across from each other.
As she stared at the mirror in front of her, she could make out the strangest shape in the mirror behind her.
“I wonder…” she said as she turned to the mirror behind her. There was a pattern carved into the beautiful walnut wood that framed the mirror. The light from the oil lamp highlighted the intricacies of the carvings, and Henrietta couldn’t help but touch them to examine their fine detail.
“M’lady, I can't open the door,” Mary knocked on her mistress's door, but there was no reply.
As Lucille helped Lady Amelia change, they could hear Mary's pleas.