“You’re sending me where? Why!”She demanded, her tone portraying utter disbelief. Lady Annabelle Cassandra Northmore was a girl with fiery, red locks of hair and a temper to match. She had deep violet eyes surrounded by long ebony lashes and a flawless complexion. On this particular day she had chosen to wear a loose white day dress with a black satin sash and her hair was simply braided and entwined with a single black ribbon. “I do not want to go to London, Father. They have too many rules and regulations. I would much rather stay here with you and mother. I like it in Hampshire and what would I do without my friends? I am acquainted with no-one in London, with the exception of my cousins. And if you want me to partake in a season I shall tell you now that I will refuse to do it!" Annabelle declared.
“I am not asking you to do this, Anna, I am saying you dont have a choice. You will return to London with your aunt and cousins tomorrow." Lord Southridge, duke of Southridge, countered wearily. His daughter was an exhausting creature with endless supplies of energy. He did not want to anger her as he feared she would tire him out before the current hour ended.
"But father -"
“No child. You are going to London with your aunt tomorrow and you do not have a say in the matter, it is your mother's wish that you be given a chance at taking part in a season as she did and you shall." her father interrupted and, giving her no more time to challenge him, left the library in search of some brandy.
Anna’s cousin, Elissa, burst into her chamber holding two gowns out in front of her.
“Which one should I wear? The blue or the pink? Mama thinks the pink but I feel it makes be look like a shrimp.” She asked. Anna contemplated both of the gowns before deciding that they were both quite atrocious.
“Neither. You should wear the champagne one you bought yesterday. It suits your skin, you’re far too pale for all those pastel colours debutantes are forced to wear in their first season.” Anna stated and turned back to her dressing table to choose which jewellery set to wear for the Ashton ball they were attending that night. After a moment or two she decided on diamond pendant, matching ear bobs and a small silver and crystal tiara which she inserted into her simple hairstyle of woven plaits dotted with violets and snowdrops while the rest of her hair hung in natural curls falling over her shoulders and down her back to her waist. She was wearing an ivory dress similar to the one she had worn on the day her father decided to ship her off to London but it was tighter around her upper body and the sash was a dark purple with silver embroidery.
“I wish I had you skin, Belle. I dont know why you tell me not wear pastels when you wear them yourself. But I suppose your hair helps a little.” Lissa complained. Annabelle turned back to her cousin with one eyebrow quirked as if to say ‘your point is?’
“I think you’ll find there is a difference, lissa. My skin is pale but yours is pasty. You need to wear darker colours to distract attention away from your complexion.” Anna told her cousin teasingly.
“Dont tease me, Belle. You can wear whatever you want, your mother is American. People dont expect you to play along with society’s rules and regulations! I have to follow and abide by them or I could cause a terrible scandal and no one would listen to any excuses I give.” She explained.
“Well then, we shall to say I am a bad influence on you. Shan’t we?” Anna replied. The two girls giggled and teased each other a while more before Elissa returned to her own chambers to prepare for the night ahead stating that the duchess is waiting in a snobby voice.
When they arrived at the residence of Lord John Ashton, the second child of the earl of Warring, the family exited the carriage and joined the receiving line waiting to be announced. When they reached the front Anna's aunt and uncle went first giving their names to the man at the door, they were followed by Elissa’s older brother then Elissa and Anna together.
“When you give him your name, tell him who your parents are.” Elissa whispered before stepping forward.
“Names?” the man asked broadly.