Hello there!! It's me again!! I really hope you guys like this story!!! I'm having lots of fun writing it.
Let me know what you think.
ANYONE BUT YOU
Caroline Sinclair did not like sedate walks; she didn't really like anything with the word "sedate" attached to it. It was just a general rule of hers though sometimes this rule became very hard to follow as everyone else seemed to want to tame her down and make her behave.
That was in part why she had been left behind in New York under the care of a long suffering English governess (even though she was well pass school room age) while the rest of the family moved to London for her older sister Megan's début. At first they had decided to take Caroline along too and leave her at some finishing school; but at nineteen she was too old to go to a finishing school.
Besides, it was decided that her behavior would only harm Megan's chances of a good match so they all had gone and Caroline was left to her own devices for a whole year. And that hadn't really done anything to tame Caroline, that was for certain, but she wasn't about to let anyone know that. Not when she had finally been summoned to England for Megan's wedding.
Now, Caroline didn't think much of England personally but she would go to the end of the world to see her sister again. She had missed Megan dearly; they had been each others only source of love and comfort growing up and when they had been separated it had hurt too much.
But now she was on her way and nothing was going to stop her.
Upon arriving in England, her father's secretary, Mr. Hudson, was the one who received her at the docks and escorted her and Miss Jennings (the afore mentioned long suffering English governess) to the house her family rented in London.
All in all, Caroline had to admit that Mr. Hudson made a much better reception committee than her parents would have made. Mr. Hudson was a quiet man, very solemn and serious though Caroline doubted the man was a day over thirty if he was even that; but for all his seriousness he didn't began to criticize her right away the way her parents would have done.
"Will my sister be at the house?" Caroline asked eagerly, trying to draw him into conversation as the ever sour faced Miss Jennings had simply leaned back in her seat inside the carriage and gone to sleep.
"I'm afraid not, Miss," Mr. Hudson said. "Miss Sinclair left early this morning for Lord Trevelyan's country estate."
"She left? Today? She knew I was arriving today?"
"Yes, Miss Caroline, but Mrs. Sinclair was most adamant. Lord Trevelyan is having a house party in a week and it will stretch over a month; and Miss Sinclair is there to plan it all; and there is to be a grand ball before the end of the party, to formally announce their engagement."
"Oh," Caroline said…
"Mrs. Sinclair wanted you to be fitted for a new wardrobe; she left specifications at the dressmaker's. We are stopping there before going to the house."
"Yes, Mrs. Sinclair wants you to have at least some proper dresses before we leave for the country, I have to take some papers to Mr. Sinclair so I'll be escorting you to Lord Trevelyan's estate next week."
"This is unbelievable!" Caroline said outraged, hating England more and more with every second that passed. "I don't know why they bothered to send for me! They don't even like me because I'm not like Megan!"
Caroline was on the verge of crying – and she really, really hated crying as it made her nose all puffy and red – this was for shame, a whole new level of low, even for her parents. And she was very surprised when Mr. Hudson reached to her and placed his hand over hers. Mr. Hudson's hands were big and warm and quite gentle. "I see a lot of your sister in you. And I know that she, for one, has missed you a lot. Don't be cross."
The gentle words soothed her. "I'm just very tired, Mr. Hudson. I'm sorry, you shouldn't be held hostage of my temper."
"It's alright, Miss Caroline." He said and a smile lit his austere looks, making him quite handsome (in that banker sort of way, you know?).
Mr. Hudson assured Caroline again that it was all right and she sighed and resigned herself, and let herself be taken along for the ride. Caroline spent that first week in London going through fittings day after day (at least the dresses weren't so bad) in a non-ending parade of agony. Miss Jennings kept lecturing her about proper behavior even though they both knew that if Caroline hadn't picked it up by this point of her life, she never would.
Still, when they were done with the fittings early enough, Miss Jennings would take her to the Museums. Caroline loved the museums, she loved history, always had. She liked to imagine how things were in times past; imagine and make up lives and stories and she loved the wonder of seeing something that had endured time, something that was bigger than her self. If she had been a boy she would have been an archeologist, but since she had been a girl, she contented herself with learning old languages and reading about old civilizations.
After a whole week in London-Hell, Mr. Hudson and Miss Jennings took her to Kent, to Lord Trevelyan's. It was one depressing journey indeed, what with Caroline becoming sick with the motion of the carriage and Miss Jennings murmuring with glee every so often that once Caroline was safely delivered to Trevelyan Hall, she would be free of her. Caroline admitted that she and Miss Jennings had never really gotten along, but she thought it was pretty rude of Miss Jennings to seem so happy about getting rid of her.
Mr. Hudson was actually quite nice, and patient with her, stopping the carriage every hour or so, so Caroline could stop and take some Fresh air and settle her stomach a little.
Finally they rolled up the front drive of Trevelyan Park, a sprawling state built as if it was hugging the landscape. It was beautiful, with the rolling green grounds, flowerbeds planted all along the drive and around the house. Caroline liked the house from the first moment she saw it.
She could imagine herself spending lots of time there after her sister married…if her new brother in law was agreeable (and even if he wasn't; Megan had always managed to make men do whatever she wanted). It would be perfect, and it would free her from having to spend too much time with her parents.
As the carriage stopped in front of the main door, Caroline felt a leap of joy. Mr. Hudson got off the carriage first and turned to help Caroline and then Miss Jennings. As the ascended the short stairs, Caroline looked up and saw Megan's form outlined in one of the windows, she was looking out. Megan's soft, lovely face looked odd, hard, devoid of life or emotion. Caroline stared, and even waved, trying to get Megan's attention, but Megan didn't wave back; she simply turned and left the window.
"Miss Caroline, come on." Miss Jennings called in her prissy voice and Caroline sighed.
By the time she reached the door, Mr. Hudson already had explained their identities to the officious looking butler who greeted her with a stiff "Miss Caroline."
"Good afternoon, sir." Caroline answered. She was always respectful of the servants; for the most part they had been more family to her than her own parents.
"Mrs. Morrison will show you to your room, Miss." The butler said, and she assumed Mrs. Morrison was the housekeeper. "And Eloise will show you to your accommodations, Miss Jennings." He added towards the governess, she was just to stay for a day or two before going towards Northumberland where her family was.
"Thank you, sir." Caroline said again. "Could you inform my sister I'm here?"
"I'm sorry, Miss, but Miss Sinclair said she was not to be bothered until dinner." The butler said with barely concealed displeasure. That was weird, everyone loved Meg.
"I'm sure that didn't include me." Caroline said with confidence but all she got was a pitying glance from the butler.
"I'm sorry, Miss Caroline… she said no one."
"Oh," Caroline said.
"Mrs. Morrison will show you to your room."
"Thank you, Mr. Beckett." Mr. Hudson said, "Would you please show me to Mr. Sinclair's?"
"Of course, follow me."
Mr. Hudson left Caroline with Miss Jennings after bowing respectfully at the two of them.
Mrs. Morrison told Caroline to follow her and took her to a big room at the top of a little turret in the east wing of the house. "Lord Trevelyan's great grandfather built it for his daughter, the girl fancied herself a princess so the old Lord Trevelyan annexed the turret to the house. My lord thought you would like it, it's usually reserved for the daughter of the house."
"I bet he thought I was much younger." Caroline commented.
People tended to think she was much younger, mostly because she refused to confine her hair into a silk-net or wear a corset.
"Perhaps." Mrs. Morrison said without admitting a thing. "It's a very nice room, Miss."
There were two levels connected by stairs inside the turret, in the first one there was a small receiving room with a fireplace and a cherrywood desk with a matching chair. In the next level there was the bedroom, there were windows all around – same as in the receiving room - a canopied bed stood against the far wall, close to the window that opened to the balcony. On the other side was a small daybed pilled with little pillows in soft shades of blue and cream. There was also a small bathing room connected to the dressing room a small fireplace here too. The walls were of a pale-robin's egg blue and cream, just as the pillows.
Caroline was enchanted. She didn't mind being taken for a child if she got to have this room.
"I see you like it." Mrs. Morrison said with approval.
"Oh, yes." Caroline said, inspecting the view from the balcony.
"If you reach behind the clothes in the dressing room, you'll find a small door and behind it there is a set of stairs that lead to the very top of the turret, that's the play room. It's filled with old toys and such, but it's a good place to hide."
"Thank you, Mrs. Morrison." Caroline said, already thinking on slipping up there the moment the housekeeper left.
"I must say that I find you much more pleasant than your sister, Miss, if I may be so bold. We were all on our wits end thinking we were going to get another one like her."
"Pardon?" Caroline said confused. "Are you talking about Megan?"
"Well… yes… I'm sorry Miss; I shouldn't have been so forward it's just that… well. Never mind. Dinner will be served at around nine tonight. My lord is expected to arrive at seven or so."
"Alright, thank you, Mrs. Morrison." Caroline said. "And don't worry, I won't tell anyone what you said about my sister. Though I don't understand it, she's very nice, really. Back in New York all of our staff adored her. I was the bane of the existence though, I always got my clothes muddy and my hems torn and put them at wits' end with all the stray animals I insisted in adopting."
Mrs. Morrison didn't answer, just shook her head. "I'll send someone for you when it's time to go down for dinner, Miss."
"Thank you, Mrs. Morrison." Caroline said and took of her jacket and bonnet and tossed them in a chair, then she went straight for the dressing room and the searched for the door Mrs. Morrison had mentioned. Swiftly she climbed the short flight of stairs and found herself in a room full of toys and books, the entire floor was carpeted and though it was clear it hadn't been used in a while, it was very clean and dust free.
Caroline opened all the eight windows going all around the room and let the breeze come in. And then she sat in an overstuffed rocking chair after having procured one of the slim, fairy tales volumes in the cramped bookcase at the other end of the room. Fairy tales were one of her most favorite things in the world for all that she was extremely practical and down to earth, fairy tales still enchanted her.
She began to rock in the chair as she read the book about a twelve little princesses who liked to dance at night. It wasn't until she noticed that it was getting harder and harder to read that she realized that dusk was falling over the countryside, and she knew it was time to go downstairs and begin getting ready for dinner.
Caroline began to close all the windows again, and as she closed the last one she noticed that a lacquered carriage was coming down the long drive in direction to the house.
That ought to be her soon to be brother-in-law.
Caroline just hoped she liked him half as much as she liked Mr. Hudson.
End of Chapter ONE