Elise Richmond always knew she would never have a "fairytale" romance, as the girls she knew called it. Since the age of ten, she knew she was promised to Simon Wellford, the son of her father's best friend. The two friends hoped that with the marriage, their separate businesses would collide and become one-making them much richer in the process. Not that they needed the money, both families were already sitting comfortably in their wealthy homes, surrounded by their beautiful and ornate things.

Every year, Simon and his parents came down for her birthday in March, and on Christmas. She knew on one of those occasions, he would finally ask her to marry him. She would be swept away, forced to marry a man she could never love, and spend her entire life with him. It would be a comfortable and content life, but not a thoroughly happy one.

All this was fine to her. Being seventeen, she had long since accepted her fate. So, while her friend's prepared for their great coming out debuts, she kept to her studies. There was no sense in debating when she was already practically married. "It's only a matter of time," she would whisper, her eyes on the dark night.

However, all that changed on the night of April the sixteenth, 1880. That was the night she dressed to go to the Stallinworth ball, where she would meet Sir Stallinworth and his son, Anthony, who were both coming back after being away for a great deal of time. Accompanying them would be Mr. William Rallingston, painter extraordinaire...and the reason Elise's life would forever be turned upside down.

A/N: Alright, this is my NaNo novel :) It's broken down into three parts. Next chapter will be the beginning of Part I, obviously. I have that mostly edited, so this should be updated rather fast. I hope you all enjoy this. I worked my ass off to finish it in time, and I really like it :) Let me know what you think, I'd appreciate your reviews. I'm always trying to grow as a writer :)