Home > Betrayal and Redemption

Betrayal and Redemption
Author: Abby Ayles

Chapter 1


Georgiana Montgomery awoke feeling rested but in a leisurely mood. It was one of the benefits of dwelling in the country; one didn’t have to worry about early morning callers. However, when Georgiana opened her hazel eyes enough to look around, she found the bright sunshine to be irresistible.

 

Fairly jumping out of bed, she rang the bell at her bedside to call for Lucy, her lady’s maid. Georgiana found herself smiling, as she moved the drapes aside to better glimpse the glorious day. She didn’t manage to enjoy it for long before she heard a light tap at her door and turned to see Lucy entering.

 

“Morning, Miss,” Lucy said with a small curtsy.

 

“Good morning, Lucy!” Georgiana enthusiastically replied, as she placed herself in the usual spot for Lucy to help her dress.

 

Georgiana saw Lucy smile slightly as she set to work. “I take it you intend to go riding this morning, Miss?”

 

Georgiana grinned as she put her arms up for Lucy. “Of course! Such a fine morning as this should always be spent on horseback. I will go for a ride directly after breakfast.”

 

Lucy nodded and prepared to dress her mistress accordingly. “You know, Miss, I think you know as much about the horses as your uncle, Lord Irvington, does.”

 

Georgiana laughed, then became more thoughtful. “Yes. I suppose I do. I have certainly learned a lot about horses these last two years since moving to my uncle’s country seat. Aunt Adelaide may not scold me directly, since she knows I have grown to love them, but I can tell she thinks it slightly unladylike to be so well acquainted with horses as I am.”

 

“Oh, I don’t think she really minds at all, Miss, as long as it makes you smile. And you don’t go about flaunting your knowledge of horses when we have gentlemen callers, so she has nothing to complain about.”

 

“Oh, but could you imagine her expression were I to do such a thing?” Georgiana almost laughed.

 

“I believe she would find it amusing herself, though she would doubtless scold you after the fact.”

 

“Yes! And Uncle Jonas would have to hide his smile behind his hand to avoid giving himself away!” Georgiana continued, finding the whole imagined situation highly entertaining.

 

Their conversation was interrupted while various items of clothing were slipped over Georgiana’s head, as Lucy finished helping her dress.

 

“And how shall I do your hair this morning, Miss?”

 

“Hmmm…” Georgiana glanced thoughtfully into the mirror. “I think a French braid will be suitable for today.”

 

Lucy nodded and began work on the top of the braid. “Very well, Miss. I take it you will be dropping by the neighboring estate, then? Mr. Rowley has mentioned once or twice how well this style suits you.”

 

“I think he has mentioned it more than that,” Georgiana replied with amusement. “But, as my best friend and honorary big brother, it is Ambrose’s job to tell me when something looks well on me. Don’t you agree this style complements the shape of my face?”

 

“Indeed, it does, Miss. Will that be all?” Lucy asked as she neatly finished off the end of the thick, ash-blonde braid and secured it firmly.

 

Georgianna paused and then nodded. “Yes. Thank you, Lucy.”

 

“My pleasure, Miss,” Lucy replied with a curtsy before beginning to tidy up.

 

Georgiana hummed a tune to herself as she headed towards the main dining room, her thoughts on the horses, as she planned to sneak them a few sugar lumps from the table. The sounds of her aunt and uncle talking to each other as she neared the dining room pulled her out of her thoughts.

 

“Why, good morning!” she said brightly as she entered the room. Then, she put on a playful pout as she hugged her aunt. “And I thought I would be the first one to breakfast today.”

 

Georgiana did not attempt to hug her uncle Jonas, as he had a cup of scalding hot tea in his hands, instead simply returning the smile he gave her. Only then did she notice a slight hesitation, as Jonas’s hazel eyes glanced for a moment at the blue eyes of her aunt Adelaide. Wondering what it could mean, she felt some of her cheerfulness fade as she slowly took her seat.

 

“So, dear,” Jonas began. Georgiana already knew whatever he said would be something she didn’t want to hear. “We would very much like you to come to London with us this year for the season.”

 

Georgiana instantly tensed, her stomach twisting into knots at the mere thought. “No, thank you … I just … I don’t believe it is wise for me to go so soon,” she replied as she pointedly looked away from her aunt and uncle and started putting food on her plate. She hoped that would be the end of the matter, just as it had been last year.

 

Her uncle sighed but didn’t give in this time. “I know you have … reservations about going back to London. That is why I didn’t push you to go last year, and your aunt and I made our excuses, so we could all stay in the country together. This year, your aunt and I are going, and you can’t stay here all alone.”

 

Georgina swallowed hard, not feeling at all hungry anymore. She could already imagine the feel of the stares she was bound to receive if she attended the season. “I … I, um. I understand… Couldn’t I stay somewhere else? Just for this year? Perhaps with one of my cousins? I really don’t want to go. I would like the rumors to die down just a little more. Perhaps in another year or two?”

 

“And we understand that, too, dear,” her aunt quickly replied, placing a hand on her husband’s arm. “Staying away from social gatherings may eventually help people forget a little more about you and Walt- I mean, Baron Bartlett, to be sure. However, it will also give them fuel for other rumors. We don’t have to stay for the whole season if it proves too much for you, but we think it would be best if you attended as many events as possible.”

 

“That’s right, dear,” her uncle added. “We are not asking you to search for a husband or anything like that. If you do meet someone there, well, we shall have no objections. We just want you to be happy. But to keep postponing something as important as this ... well, isn’t it better to get things of this nature settled sooner rather than later?”

 

Georgiana felt her eyes watering and had a strong desire to shake him in a defiant refusal to go anywhere near London again—to go anywhere near the place where her heart had been broken and her lover had essentially abandoned her nearly two years ago without a word or any explanation.

 

She heard more than saw Adelaide get up and move behind her; her aunt’s arms wrapped around her shoulders before she spoke again. “And as far as rumors go, I hear those concerning you are not as bad as you might expect.”

 

That brought to mind some of the rumors Georgiana heard before she had all but fled to Uncle Jonas’ country estate. They had hinted she must have done something terrible to offend the baron to cause him to behave in such a manner. Or that he had discovered something distasteful about her, enough to make him deem her unworthy of his attention. Though she had not heard as much, she had fully expected, and feared, the next logical direction for the rumors to take would be for the gossips to suggest she was not chaste.

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