Author's notes: I present my latest story! I know that I have unfinished story, but when I'm high and dry on inspiration for those stories, I end up coming up with new ones! Please enjoy!

Chapter 1

Lyon Mansion, 1864


The thudding footsteps approaching the room, did nothing to stir the occupant of the room. Not even the door slamming open stirred her.

"Jas! Get up!" And then she was attacked by a pair of hands.

She groaned and brushed Lily's excited hands away.

"Leave me alone..."

"I have news for you and if you don't get up, I won't tell you," Lily said with a little mischievious tone.

Darn the woman! No! Darn her curiosity!

She sighed and sat up, staring at her sister and she blew away the stray hair that hung in front of her face.

"What is it?"

Lily smirked, knowing she'd gotten the best of her sister's curiosity.

"Lily!" She urged.

"I have just received a letter," Lily said.

Her eyebrow twitched in annoyance at her sister's obvious stalling. For a dramatic effect, no doubt. "And?"

"The Earl of Cornwall has asked for my hand in marriage!" Lily squealed and her eyes widened.

If she wasn't awake before, she was now.

"That's great, Lil! I'm so happy for you!"

"I know! Isn't it just wonderful?" Lily said, dreamily and she smiled.

"It is," she said. "I have an idea! Why don't you return to your room and have a nice shower? Then get dressed and have a little breakfast," she suggested.

"I'll do just that!" Lily said and seemed to float out of her room.

Once Lily was out of her room, she smirked, making a dash for the door and locked it, before returning to her comfortable bed.

"Jas! You tricked me!" Lily screamed and then the banging on her door began.

"And you fell for it again," she smiled, sinking into her pillows.

"Jas!" Lily shouted.

She ignored her sister and went back to sleep. Another day in the life of Jasmine.

Hastings Estate

"Damian! It's so good to see you again!" Adam greeted him warmly, giving him a hug.

"Likewise, cousin," Damian smiled.

"I'm glad that you agreed to visit," Adam said, before his eyes seemed to light up when he remembered something. "Which reminds me! I have asked for the hand of the oldest daughter of the Earl of Strathorne!"

His eyes widened in surprise. "That is... unexpected." And it was.

He managed to quell his surprise with his legendary willpower, but Adam had already caught the look on his face.

Adam laughed at his reaction. "I'm not getting any younger, Damian. I need a wife and children."

It made sense. Adam was in his early thirties and he had duties to perform. But for him to ask for the hand of a lady he had only met once at a party, or at least he assumed it was once, it was truly unexpected. And trust Adam to pick the oldest. He had never met the lady before, but he'd heard rumours of the beautiful Lady Lily. She was said to have taken all the beauty, leaving her younger sister with none and that was why the younger one, has never been seen at parties and was said to be so ugly, that she refused to leave the family's mansion. Then again, those were merely rumours.

"I suppose. And you have met her only once?"

"Thrice actually.

"I have invited Lady Lily here, so that we may get to know each other and I'm fairly certain that she'll accept," Adam added.

"And I'm here, why?" He asked.

"Because I'd like your opinions," Adam replied.

Ah, it was no wonder Adam had asked him to come at this point in time.

"I see."

For some reason, he had a feeling that this was going to be more than he imagined.

"We have some catching up to do, Damian. You've been very busy."

"That I have," he replied.

"Soon, I will not be able to join you in charming the ladies. A pity. Looks like there will be no more competition between us," Adam said and he laughed.

"I'm sure, Adam. It'll be difficult to replace a rival, such as yourself."

Adam scoffed. "You win all the time, anyway."

"It's not like I actually want them," he shrugged.

"They just flock to you," Adam snorted.

"Your words, not mine."

"You haven't changed one bit."

"Not much can change in a year."

"Has it been that long since we last met?"

"Indeed, you are getting old," he said, in reference to Adam's earlier comment about not getting any younger.

"Oh and the Earl has invited me to his estate, so that we may get to know each other and of course, I accepted," Lily said and she choked on her soup.

"Milady!" The maids on hand gasped, some patting her on the back, another having a glass of water in hand and another on standby with a napkin.

She accepted the glass of water, offering her thanks as one of the maids wiped her mouth. All of them sighed in relief.

"I'm perfectly fine," she smiled at them. Assuring them and they nodded, stepping back. "Right and who exactly is going to accompany you?"

Lily smiled at her. "You are, of course!"

Her eyes widened. "Excuse me? Me? Are you insane? I refuse!"

"Please, Jas! Father's busy and I can't only count on you! Of course, Aunt Audrey will be accompanying us, but I'm doing this for you. Staying here will do nothing for you! You have to enjoy life, Jas. By staying away from crowds, you're only fuelling the rumours about you. 'The ugly youngest child of the Earl of Strathorne', 'So ugly that she doesn't leave the mansion'. Jas, this is for you!"

She shrugged. "Let them say what they wish. I could care less." And that was the truth.

What they couldn't see, they couldn't compare. She didn't want to be compared to Lily. On a full scale, she didn't care, but details, she hated.

"So you believe."

She sighed. "Lily, you've met the Earl, what? Once?"

"Thrice," Lily corrected.

"And you accepted his invitation? I believe you know hardly anything about the man," she said.

"Thus, the purpose of his invite," Lily countered.

"Go with Aunt Audrey, but I vehemently refuse."

Lily smiled at her sister, who sat opposite her and Aunt Audrey, with her arms folded across her chest and a frown upon her adorable face. She resisted the urge to giggle, but Jas had caught it anyway and Jas' turquoise eyes narrowed.

So much for vehemently refusing. Fat lot of good that did her, since she was stuck in a carriage that would take them to the Earl of Cornwall's estate. Her sister truly was sly! Lily had had the maids pack her belongings while she slept and the Lord knows she sleeps like the dead at certain times of the morn. Lily had taken advantage of that little bit of knowledge and even kidnapped her! She didn't want to go with Lily! She wanted to spend her time, curled up in her warm bed! She hated the ton... It would be crowded and it terrified her. Why would Lily force this upon her?

"Jas," Lily said. "Just relax. I'm sure you'll enjoy this. Take it as a trip of sorts."

"It is a trip. Just not a very enjoyable one."

"It's about time you left home anyway. Maybe some air in a new environment will do you some good," Lily reasoned.

"I highly doubt it."

"It is also about time you were introduced to society. You're already twenty," Aunt Audrey said.

She sighed. "I have no qualms about remaining at home. I have no idea why all of you feel that I should go out."

"Because a young woman your age should be shopping instead of sleeping the day away," Lily said.

"Quite honestly speaking, I would prefer the sleeping."

"My point exactly. You've stayed in the house for far too long! It's time for you to explore!" Lily exclaimed with such joy.

She stared at her older sister. The woman had definitely lost some part of her mind. She guessed it was due to all the joy of being invited to the Earl's abode. From what she'd heard about the Earl, which was not much, he was in his thirties and had a very interesting reputation with the ladies. And by interesting, she didn't mean it in the good way. She would never allow her sister to marry a casanova! Let it be known that Lily loved to steal attention and be the centre of attention, not that she really bothered, but Lily was still her sister and she had a duty to make sure Lily got married to the right man. One who would take such good care of her and not one who would bully her.

"Jas, listen!"

She sighed. "I'm listening," she said.

As if. Her mind wandered while her sister prattled on about the ton and the shopping and clothes and the shops. Everything was essentially fashion related... She wasn't interested in any of those things. Sure, she enjoyed shopping. But only for things that she felt she wanted, or needed. Other than that, it was a chore to walk around all day, going from shop to shop, looking for things to purchase, just for the sake of it. Just because there was money to be spent, did not necessarily mean that one had to spend it on items that were not needed. If one had that much money, they should donate it to the poor and the needy. The good Lord knows that will do some good for the people and it might even pretty up your pass to Heaven.

"Jas, I don't think you're listening to me," Lily huffed, with her arms crossed.

Ah, she was unhappy that she hadn't given her the attention she wanted. As usual. Lily thrived on the attention that one gave her.

"I'm not," she replied honestly.

"Jas!" Lily said.

"Fine. What did you say?" She asked, for the sake of appeasing her sister.

The Lord knew that her, upsetting her sister would make their trip all the more unbearable and the carriage ride there would be Hell.

"I said that you might even be able to find a prospective husband for yourself! A good man who will get you to leave the mansion and enjoy yourself. We might even be able to marry together! Oh! Wouldn't it be wonderful, Jas!" Lily smiled.

Was Lily serious? Get married on the same day? At the same time? Together? Nooo! It was a distaster waiting to happen.

She balked. "I'd prefer not. Books entertain me just as well. I have no need of a man. And besides, we're going there for you to meet the Earl, not for me to find a man to wed."

"True. Oh, Jas! I'm so excited! He's a handsome man!" Lily exclaimed.


Trust Lily to be concerned about looks. Then again, when they were little girls, Lily had vowed to marry a wealthy and handsome man... Oh well.

"You may seem skeptical now Jas, but love is a beautiful thing and you'll want it!"

"Yes, yes. Love lifts you up where you belong," she drawled, rolling her eyes.

"Fine! Criticise all you want, but you never know, Jas. You might end up meeting the man who'll be your husband. All women want love and you will too!"

"And when that time does come, it'll be too soon," she said, unfolding her arms and leaned into the seat. "Let us just focus on what is at hand. Namely the Earl and yourself."

She didn't need a husband. She was perfectly capable of being by herself and having a husband would disturb her usual patterns. Having a husband would tie her down and she didn't want that. She loved living life at her own pace. Husbands be damned. She'd rather remain single. Her books would keep her entertained throughout her years. Besides, she was too difficult and she had no intention of changing herself for a man.

Author's notes: So what do you think? Good or bad? Interesting or not? I hope you enjoyed this chapter! Please review!