She watched Mr. Falconer as he sat there,
proud upon the magnificent steed, her heart
pounding against her ribs. Face flushed, she
waited with bated breath to see if he would
even notice that she was there. It was by no
accident that she was walking through this
part of the forest. She had come this way,
hoping to accidentally on purpose bump
For the umpteenth time she asked herself why
she was subjecting herself to this rigmarole.
He was far above her station. As the heir
of Merrymede estate and Yorkshire’s
most eligible bachelor who had a bevy of refined
and amiable women to choose from, she didn’t
stand a chance. She was a lady’s companion of
Lady Allen. This was a foolish idea. She should
turn around right now and return from whence she
came before he spotted her.
Resolute, she lifted up her skirt and was about to
turn and sprint through the forest, when he caught
sight of her. I should have left when I had the
chance, she thought. She watched now as he
dismounted the horse, led it to a part of the
field where it could gaze before he sauntered
over to where she stood, wishing she could
disappear like a vapor.
He looked very handsome in his riding outfit.
his thick black hair glinted like velvet in the
afternoon light and the white shirt contrasted
sharply with his swarthy complexion. His
steely grey eyes met her large brown ones
as he stood a few breaths away from her.
“Miss Howard,” he said in that deep, cultured
voice of his. “What an unexpected pleasure.”
“Mr. Falconer.” She curtsied. Being alone with
him like this was both awkward and nerve racking.
Usually, when they saw each other, it was within
society–at some function or other. The last time it
was at the Grenshaw’s Spring ball and he had on his
arm the beautiful and honorable Miss Emma Jones.
What a handsome couple they made and there were
some whispers of an attachment forming between
them. She had hoped that there was no veracity to
“You are looking very well, Miss Howard.”
“Thank you, Mr. Falconer. I believe that eating
well and exercise does one wonders.”
“How is Lady Allen?”
“Her constitution is very good as one would
hope after her temporary bout with the flu.”
“Miss Howard, I was wondering if you would
tarry a little while longer?”
She nodded, surprised at his request. “Yes, Mr. Falconer.”
“There is a fell tree over there by the clearing,” he said
pointing behind her. “We can sit there.”
She could not help but wonder what her employer
would say if she knew that she was alone in the forest
with Mr. Falconer. She could almost hear her say, “My
Dear girl, it is not proper for a young lady to be in the
company of a gentleman unchaperoned.” So, it
would be in her best interest if Lady were to have
no knowledge of this meeting. And she knew she
could rely upon Mr. Falconer’s discretion.
She followed him over to the log and sat down.
He sat beside her. From where they were, they
could see his horse happily grazing. “Miss Howard,
how do you like being in the employ of Lady Allen?
“I like it very much indeed. She is very good and
Kind and treats me as if I were her daughter.”
“Yes, I have heard the sad account of her own
daughter’s demise at a very young age. Lord
never recovered and died shortly afterward.
For years, Lady Allen mourned the losses of her
daughter and Lord . During those dark
Times, my mother called upon her and
slowly drew her back into society. It was
at my mother’s suggestion that Lady
advertised for a lady’s companion.”
“And it was the Vicar who recommended
me for the post and I shall always be
indebted to him.”
“Miss Howard, pardon me if my next inquiry
may appear impertinent but necessity compels
me to voice it.”
She stared at him, wondering at the urgency
in his demeanor. “Please make your inquiry
since it is so urgent in nature.”
“Do you have any gentlemen callers?”
His question startled her and it took a few
minutes for her to reply, “No, I do not.”
“Then, do I have your permission to call
upon you tomorrow afternoon?”
She stared at him. He wanted to call upon
her? But what about Miss Jones? She hadn’t
realized that she has spoken audibly and was taken
aback when she heard him say, “Miss Jones and I are
merely friends. Contrary to what you may have
heard, there is no romantic attachment between us.”
Joy and relief filled her heart and she couldn’t
Prevent the smile from spreading across her
lips or the sparkle in her eyes which her
companion found very becoming. “This is
very good news indeed,” she remarked.
“Does this mean that you will permit me to
call upon you?”
She nodded at once, hardly able to contain
her enthusiasm. “Yes, Mr. Falconer, you have
my permission to call upon me tomorrow
afternoon. I shall look forward to seeing you.”
He smiled. “Very well, then, Miss Howard. I
shall be there at three.”
The sun was beginning to set. She put her bonnet
back on her head and stood up. “I really must
be going now.”
“I shall take you back. You’re not afraid of
Horses, are you?” he asked when he saw her
look over at his steed.
Her gaze shifted back to him as he towered over
her. “No, no,” she assured him. “I used to ride
when I was a child. My father taught me. I love
horses. They are magnificent and gentle animals.”
“Perhaps you and I can go riding sometimes,” he
said as they walked toward the horse.
She smiled. “I would like that very much,” she
said as he helped her onto the horse before he
mounted it and took the reins in his hands. She
put her arms around his waist as they cantered off.
When they got to the manor, he helped her down,
His hands strong and firm on her waist and their
Eyes met for several minutes before he bade her
Goodnight and galloped off.
The following afternoon, he called on her. And
every afternoon after that until one day in the
garden under the watchful eye of a chaperon,
he proposed. Their announcement caused quite
a stir but the wedding was a beautiful and elaborate
affair attended by his family, Lady Allen and Miss Jones.
When they had their first child, Lady Allen held her and
tears rolled down her cheeks when she learned that
she was named Emily after her beloved daughter.