Cassandra looked at Ava. “That is mine?” she asked in awe as she reached out and ran the material through her fingers.
Ava nodded with a smile. “Your man seemed to think that you needed something other than his mother’s dress.”
She flushed red at the reminder. “If I knew it was his mother’s, I would not have reacted in such a way.”
“I know, dear. Now, will you allow me to aid you?”
“Please,” Cassandra mumbled while walking towards her birth mother. She only took two steps before the door behind her was flung open. Standing there was a group of women she recognized and a lad. Her eyes watered as she looked at them. “You came?”
“Couldn’t keep us away if you tried,” her mother answered while running towards her. Pulling her close, Lady Ashmore sighed into Cassandra’s hair. “I missed you. Please, run away and come home.”
The Queen pulled on Lady Ashmore’s arm and mock glared at the other woman. “Your daughter is happy. I think that it is in her best interest to stay in Eskdale.”
“What do you say, Rose? Should I allow your cousin to stay here or move her back to London with those who will bask in her presence?”
Cassandra rolled her eyes at her mother’s antics. The woman had always jested with her in order to calm Cassandra’s nerves, and it worked. The unease she had felt minutes earlier, eased away, leaving her smiling at the group of women. Looking towards the door, she waited for Cooper to walk further in. He glanced towards Ava before running towards Cassandra and pressing his face into her skirts.
“It looks like he took a liking to you,” Ava whispered with slight anguish in her voice.
Cassandra gave the woman a sympathetic smile. “We have been the only ones he has known for a while now. It is not your fault that he came to me and not you. Do not worry, though, he will settle with you once more.”
“What?” Ava asked with confusion in her voice. “Colin did not tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
Her birth mother shrugged. “I cannot take care of a child anymore. I do not have the means.”
“We will provide funds for Cooper’s aide.”
“Cooper? You named him Cooper?” Ava hesitated before slowly nodding. “It is a fine name for a fine lad. I cannot keep him, Cassandra. It does not matter anymore; he is quite taken with you, and I have to admit that I am relived.”
“Why?” Cassandra asked, ignoring the other three women, who were running around the room, grabbing various items before throwing them into a pile.
Ava took a step forward. Stumbling slightly, she flopped down in a nearby chair. Her eyes glanced at Cooper before settling back on Cassandra. “I’m dying. I do not know what it is, but it plagues me. At night, or if I overtax myself, it hurts, Cassandra.”
She took a step towards Ava, staying cautious of Cooper still holding onto her skirts. “I may be able to help.”
“No,” Ava told her with a tiny smile. “It is my bones. There is nothing you can do about what ails me.”
“I can try.”
“And have my daughter watch as I slowly die? I do not wish that upon you. It is not how I want you to remember me. I am quite happy here. There is a man who helps with anything that I need. I will be fine.”
“I’ll visit,” Cassandra told her firmly. There was no way that she would let this woman die alone. If she would not live with them at the manor, Cassandra would visit her as often as she could.
Ava sent her a smile. “If it would make you happy, visit as often as you would like. You could even take Cooper with you on a couple of your visits. I would like to see him.”
“Are you positive you do not want to keep him?” she asked reluctantly. Cooper was Ava’s son, but he was a son to Cassandra too.
“Yes, my dear. He will be treated like a prince if he is with you. That is all that I have ever wanted for my children, for them to be treated as they should.”
Someone tapped on her shoulder, breaking the eye contact she had with Ava. Glancing over, she looked at the panic evident in her mother’s eyes. It was then that she realized that the Lady Ashmore did not know the woman sitting in the chair. Her mother had never met Ava.
|Julianne Hough||as Cassandra Ashmore|
|Adam Levine||as Colin Moore|
|Jake Gyllenhaal||as Peirce|
|Matt Barr||as James 'The Duke'|
|Josh Dallas||as Prince William|
|Jackson Rathbone||as Ramsey|
|Cole Sprouse||as Cooper (young Cole Sprouse)|
|Robert Downey Jr.||as King Alistar|
|Jennifer Love Hewitt||as Queen Margret|
|Sean Penn||as Lord Ashmore|
|Sarah Jessica Parker||as Lady Ashmore|