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A penniless dock worker inherits a title and his family’s destitute estate. In order to save the house and grounds, he puts an ad in the paper for a wealthy wife from the United States. The damaged Emma Swan is desperate for a new start anywhere but New York. Together, will they save Kentledge Hall?
Awash in several glasses of Champagne, eighteen year-old Emma
Swan had been easily tantalized into the Conservatory at the Vanderbilt Mansion
during a New Year’s celebration, ringing in the promises of 1916. Despite the December
chill, there was a lingering warmth in the Conservatory.
The young society darling and her date were surrounded by
all manner of exotic plants and flowers, blooming in the moonlight. She,
herself, was the most colorful thing in the room; she wore a gown of gold and
black, covered with a wine-tinted gauze and cinched at the waist with a
decorative band of gilded embroidery and mother-of-pearl. Her moonlit hair was
tucked into a pile of curls, secured with a large gilded comb bedecked with
Neal Cassidy, a young, handsome attorney from Delaware, was
her tuxedoed date for the evening’s festivities and they had just managed to
ditch Emma’s tipsy aunt Regina Mills back in the ballroom downstairs.
Emma giggled with delight as Neal swung her around the tiled
floor of the room, his arm wrapped around her back. They were dancing much
closer than they would have been allowed at the party. She closed her eyes as
Neal bowed his head to place kisses along the side of her neck, a smile
spreading over her lips.
“Mmm,” Emma moaned softly, sliding her fingers between his.
“You really shouldn’t do that, you know.”
Neal chuckled and let his lips find hers. He walked her
backward until her calves came to a stop against the end of a chaise longue.
“Why shouldn’t I?” He asked against her lips. “I’m going to marry you, Emma, my
The idea made her giddy. A grand wedding with all sorts of
fanfare and a milky-white gown of everything in the finest, her best friends
all with large bouquets of white roses and lily-of-the-valley…it was everything
Emma wanted. And Neal was such an entertainment to her over the past few
months. Lavish dinners, ferry rides, and even a day at Luna Park in Brooklyn
where he had won her a small pink porcelain figurine. He really knew how to woo
a girl. He grasped her by the waist and carefully laid her back onto the
chaise, taking a seat dangerously close to her.
“Neal,” Emma whispered, blushing profusely, “no, stop that…someone
will see you and think the worst.”
“With me, it will hardly be the worst, darling. Don’t you
want me, Emma?” He asked. The music downstairs grew louder, and Emma knew they
must be nearing midnight.
“After we marry, of course,” she insisted, moving her hands
to his shoulders to push gently.
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