The Defiant Daughter, the second of the Ashmead Heirs, has gone to beta readers. Here is a bit from early on. Lady Madelyn has been lured to London by invitations from her brothers and a plea from her stepson. She thought she preferred her solitude. She is beginning to realize she does not.
The program, every bit as excellent as Danbury had promised, took her away. She let it seep inside and drive out her shadows. When the interim came, she hated coming back to earth.
Glenmoor rose and smiled back at her before leaning over to speak to his beloved. Before she could follow David and the rest of the crowd in the direction of the refreshments, he approached, the lady on his arm. His eyes actually twinkled with joy when he presented her to Maddy.
“Your Grace, may I present Miss Garland? Eliosa, the Duchess of Glenmoor. My stepmother.”
“I’m honored to make your acquaintance,” Maddy said, while the girl curtseyed properly and murmured similar sentiments. She struck Maddy as genuine, lacking the sort of guile a girl brought up in the privileges of her grandfather’s ducal household might display. Of course, she also appeared very young, likely in her first season.
Glenmoor didn’t seem to notice Maddy’s examination of his lady love. “May I say, Madelyn, you look fine this evening.”
“I might say the same about you, Phillip. The embroidery on that waistcoat is breathtaking.”
If the man preened a bit more than was seemly, she didn’t care. After a miserable childhood, Phillip Tavernash had come into his own and appeared on the brink of a brilliant match, one that promised love as well as connections. Maddy’s protective instincts roared to life at the sight.
They spoke a few more moments, long enough for Maddy to ascertain that Miss Garland was bright enough, but not so much that it would be a problem with a man like Phillip. They walked away wrapped up in each other’s presence.
She stood alone in the music salon staring after them. Phillip and his lady, Rob and Lucy. Lovers abound lately. How is it possible I feel utterly alone even in company?
“Your Grace, is all well?” Colonel Morgan stood before her, more breathtaking in his simple black evening clothes than Phillip in all his finery, examining her with worried eyes. She drank it in wondering how she could have missed him earlier.
“All is well,” she breathed hoping her smile reassured him. And in that moment, she truly felt well.
“May I escort you to the refreshments?” His gaze softened and warmed.
She took his arm without answering and smiled back, the look in his eyes making her new gown feel like her wisest decision in many years. She could think of nothing she wanted more than his escort. Not so alone. Tomorrow I’ll worry about Phillip. For now, I’m not alone. At least for tonight.
Note: excerpts from works in progress may have not yet been edited, will likely undergo change, and may not even make it into the final work!