Note: I am not the actual author of this. My best friend is the writer of this beautiful novel, I am just the publisher. I am the person who Anelie's character is based off of. I hope you enjoy this and we welcome all critism. This will be updated regularly.

March 12, 1862

Kraków, Poland

I awake before the rest of the world does, before the field stretching around our home has been warmed by the early spring sun and the sparkle of dew vanishes, even before Anelie, my best friend in the world, has had a chance to tell me the day is growing old by her standards. The smell of warm sausages and eggs won't come for at least three hours by my reckoning. Now is the time I make my escape from the civilized world to roam among much friendlier fellow - nature.

I stumble from my bed, a large one draped in purple silk sheets and painstakingly decorated blankets and nearly trip over my dog, Felix. A Pomeranian of advanced age, he barely awakens before licking his lips and continuing his slumber. He treasures all he can get, for he knows in an unspecified, but short, amount of time we will be running free among the birds, crickets, poppies, and all our other brothers. I find it curious he still puts up with it, after all these years. I know very well this is the exact spot he wishes to remain all day and night, and yet he follows me still.

I eye myself in the elaborately framed looking glass across the room. My hair is a tangled mess, quite precisely the way I enjoy it the most. The ruddy dark brown strands fall nearly to my hips, even in this disheveled state. Take out the knots, and it surely would tickle the tops of my hip bones. My eyes flash a burning amber brown as I throw off my frilly nightgown and clothe myself in something so sinister, so vile, so forbidden to be caught in them by anyone but my nurse would result in no dessert for at least a month. My father's old breeches.

So what? I'll tell you what is so - I was a young woman in a very strict, wealthy, and by their standards worldly household. To see me dressed in male garb would horrify my mother to the point of actually fainting, possibly the first real one since my birth instead of her usual staged attempt. So why wear them? To protect my decency! Well, yes, it was a tainted attempt but I was not about to ride across my private countryside sidesaddle. And to sit with legs parted in a dress was too unladylike even for myself, therefore this forbidden fruit protected me. If only Mother could see that.

I must confess, I usually wasn't alone on these trips and was accompanied by more than nature. Since the time I first mustered up the nerve to escape this prison before the sun shown on the land, around the age of ten, I had been escorted by my dear friend Alexsy. He was my defender, or at least I let him think as such. Today though, was special. In less than twenty four hours, I would be 18. A woman! I didn't feel like one, however, seeing myself in the mirror once more. I was a rail, with little chest, petite shoulders and legs, and any womanly hips I had were covered by the bagging breeches.

No matter, because today was the day my destiny would be chosen. Alexsy had picked for me a groom. Oh, it was so childish a thing to do. Of course whoever this was would never be my groom, unless Alexsy was in a secret agreement with my father. And he wasn't, I was sure of this much. No, it was a mere childish game thought up by a boy caught up in endless childhood, even as he approached twenty years of age and a wedding of his own more than likely leeming in the not too distant future.

But today I tried hard to appear appealing, wishing sinfully in the back of my mind to seduce the stranger into picking for me a bouquet of flowers, or maybe even holding my hand. I giggled with girlish glee, wiggling into a pale pink ruffled top that was then tucked into my breeches. The breeches were then stuffed into my riding boots, and my hair thrown back into a horrid ponytail. Hair was one thing that never mattered to me, only to my mother. If I had my way, it would be bobbed off chin length. So, it wasn't just my mother that would have had a fit from it, but all of society. I knew Polish, English, and French. I dressed in the latest fashions when it was called for. I could cook, clean, sing, and dance. But none of that was ever enough for anyone. How I longed for an escape from this uncivilized civility...

So I made my escape.