dedicated to MaddieD96 :P Staying up all night to help with this story!


Chapter 9.

Henry stood in front of the mirror as Thomas put on his dinner jacket. He wasn't paying any particular attention because his mind was reeling. Cole kept reminding him of the bet. He was right, it was taking Henry longer than usual... Usually he'd have it done within a day or two but it's been two weeks. Not only that but he'd Mr Vicker to fight with for Abigale affection and his father and grandmother were trying to force him into marrying Samantha Blackwood.

"Sir?" Thomas asked him hesitantly.

"Sorry, what?" He snapped back to the present.

"I was asking which cuff links you'd like to wear... Are you all right sir?" Thomas asked curiously. He didn't really care of course, just hungry for a but of gossip to pass along to downstairs.

"I'm fine. Why don't you decide." Henry replied sharply.

Thomas nodded once and went back to work leaving Henry with his thoughts.

"Thomas could you leave us please?" Henry hadn't even heard his father entering the room.

"Of course sir. Have a good evening." Thomas bowed and departed from the room.

"Father I told you I'd be down as soon as I was dressed." Henry sighed. A few minutes was all he asked for could his father not give him that at least?

"There's an urgent matter we need to discuss my boy." His father hitched up his trousers and sat on the edge of Henry's bed. "Take a seat."

Henry followed his father's lead and sat in a chair near his dresser. "What's this about father?"

"Your wife." His father replied gravely.

"I have a wife?" Henry laughed but the humour didn't reach his eyes.

"Have you picked a girl with whom you would like to marry?" His father seemed hopeful.

As soon as his father mentioned marriage Abigale popped straight into his mind and he couldn't shake her image. He had told her he wanted to marry her... He would... But he knew it was next to impossible.

"No father I haven't given it much thought." He lied casually.

"Then it'll have to be Samantha." His father sighed regretfully.

"Why father? Why does it have to be Samantha!?" He fumed. Where was this sudden urge to pressure him into marriage coming from?

"You're not a child any more Henry! You will purpose to her tonight after dinner and that is all!" His father's face turned bright red.

"Yes your highness." Henry muttered sarcastically and faked a bow.

His father stood up and went to his son, placing his hand on his shoulder. "My boy... I wish there was another way. Please just marry her. It's in the best interest for our families."

"Whatever you say father." He grumbled.

His father left a ring box down on the table and left the room. So not only was Henry doomed to be miserable forever, but he'd be sentenced to Samantha too.

OoOo

"Henry! Wonderful to see you again!" Mrs Blackwood came over and kissed him on the cheek.

"Same to you Mrs Blackwood. Looking as lovely as always." Lovely was pushing it. Her dyed red wig was a bit obvious and her face was sagging under all the lead white powder.

"Nice to see you again Henry." Mr Blackwood merely extended his hand.

"Likewise." Henry replied politely. Mr Blackwood was short, bald and quite thin in comparison to his wife.

"Shall we move through to the parlour?" Henry's mother suggested shooting Henry a look which meant he was supposed to stick to Samantha like glue.

"You look good tonight Henry." She purred.

"Likewise." He replied drily and stuck his elbow out so she could slip her arm through.

Henry spent the night resisting the urge not to make sarcastic comments which would displease his parents. He was also doing his best to fend off Samantha. He replied to her idle chatter of course it would be rude not to, but he wasn't paying any particular attention to her.

"Dinner is served." Mr Gilmore the butler informed them all.

"May I escort you to dinner Mrs Blackwood?" His father asked Mrs Blackwood who seemed please by the offer.

"Why thank you." She stuck her chubby arm through the crook of his elbow.

"May I escort you Mrs Collier?" Mr Blackwood asked somewhat shyly.

Mrs Collier smiled kindly. "That'd be lovely thank you." Before she left the room she shot Henry a look.

He sighed but went for it, sticking his elbow out. "Samantha, may I escort you into the dinning room?"

She giggled and slipped her hand through. "You've escorted me other places not so politely."

Henry internally rolled his eyes. All she was doing was reminding him of why he'd grown bored with her in the first place. With Samantha there was no chase, she was his toy to pick up and play with when the mood struck him but there was no little mind games no hidden dangers in it. Not like there was with Abigale.

Henry took his seat next to Mrs Blackwood who kept trying to include him in boring conversation about a new restaurant her husband had taken her too.

"Sounds just wonderful." Henry replied absently. He hated boring dinners especially with the Blackwood's. It was all he could do not to fling his dinner straight in Samantha's face.

When dinner was over they all rose from their chairs. The women were heading into the parlour and the men to the study.

Henry was about to go with the men but his father stopped him. "Henry we'll just be talking about boring business... Why don't you take Samantha and go for a wall around the gardens."

Well he couldn't have made that more obvious, Henry thought to himself. "Fine. Ms Blackwood, would you care to take a stroll with me around the grounds?"

"I'd be delighted." She smiled and they were off. Well here goes nothing.

OoOo

Abigale was feeling restless that night. No matter what she tried she couldn't get to sleep. She'd sat up and read for almost an hour. She was sick of sitting in her room alone and decided to go down to see her little brother. She put on her simplest dress quickly and undid the braid in her hair and rushed down the servant stair case towards the kitchen.

"Hold up, where's the fire?" Asked Levi one of the footmen.

"Beg your pardon. I was just looking for Oscar." She apologized.

"Oscar should be out in the stable miss." He replied cheerfully. Abigale decided she liked him.

"Hope he hasn't been causing too much trouble down here." She laughed lightly.

"You kidding? We all love that kid! Mrs Fulton and Mrs Liddle have already taken to doting on him! Mr Gilmore discourages it but you can tell he's a soft spot for the kid." He grinned easily.

"What're you doing down here?" Ms Keene came behind him and asked.

"What's it to you?" Levi asked but seemed to shake under her glare.

"I came down looking for my brother if that's all right Ms Keene." Abigale replied curtly.

"Well he's outside, and that's no excuse to be blocking the staircase." She huffed and stomped up the stairs.

Levi shrugged in a 'what're ya gonna do' kinda way and went upstairs also.

"I hear the new governess is causing quite a stir with the young Mr Collier if you get me." She overheard Thomas saying to one of the maids.

"Mr Collier'll get bored and move on. I hear he's getting engaged to Ms Blackwood... Now wouldn't that we something..." Amelia sighed dreamily.

"Doesn't matter does it? You won't be going to the wedding." Violet said harshly.

"No but we can see all the pretty dresses and stuff." She argued like a child.

"Why don't you keep out of the upstairs business and get back to work?" Mrs Liddle demanded dropping a ladle onto the work bench.

Abigale felt heavy-hearted as she opened the door and went outside. Gossip she thought to herself. Nothing more than idle gossip. Surely she would know if he was engaged? Surely he'd have told her?

"Abi!" Her little brother shouted excitedly and shot into her arms. "I missed you!"

"I've missed you to kid. Want to take a walk and we can catch up?" She suggested wrapping her arms around her stick thin brother.

He nodded eagerly and as they began to walk he rambled on about all the different stuff he'd done since she'd last came down to see him.

They were halfway through the garden when Abigale made her brother stop walking. She'd seen Henry and Samantha sitting on the bench just in front of the bush they were behind.

"Why did_?"

"Shh!" She clamped a hand over her little brother's mouth and hid well out of sight of the couple.

"Lovely night tonight don't you think?" Samantha asked him.

"Mmmhmm sure is." He replied absently. Abigale wondered what was playing on his mind. Was he thinking of her?

"It's getting cold. Why don't we go back inside?" She suggested. She clearly wanted his attention focused on her.

"Wait..." He sighed and reached inside his jacket. "If I don't ask this before we go in, he'll flip at me... Samantha will you marry me?"

Abigale let out a loud gasp then clamped a hand over her mouth and shrunk back into the bushes. He'd lied to her... He'd lied about everything. Now he was going to marry her and Abigale was going to be alone forever.

"Of course Henry!" She squealed and kissed him.

"Abi what's wrong?" Oscar whispered.

She shook her head. "Why don't you go back to the house... I'm just going to sit here awhile."

He looked unconvinced but left her. She spent most of the night crying her eyes out about Henry.


So please leave a review. Will try to update possibly by tomorrow or Sunday :P