Chapter 1

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1906....Almack’s Opening Ball of the Season

‘Lady Emma, would you grant me a set ___ if your card is not full?’ Arthur Burward, the young Viscount Thumpston enquired with more courage than he felt.

Emma was at the refreshments room, helping herself to some punch. She had hoped he would ask her to reserve a set and had deliberately not filled her card. ‘Yes my lord,’ she responded, shyly, ‘the third waltz and the minuet?’ Emma did not want to seem too eager and included the minuet knowing there will not be much opportunity to converse with one’s partner.

‘Thank you my lady,’ he bowed elaborately. ‘I shall look forward to it. Now if you will excuse me. Enjoy your drink. I am promised to Lady Moira for the next dance.’

As she sipped her punch, Emma slyly watched him leave. She had secretly set her cap on him. She hoped she would find his favour. Thumpston was not strapping like the more popular Lord Hampton or half as wealthy, but shy Emma rather thought Thumpston to be more appealing. She only wished she were more bold. Now her younger sister on the other hand was so much more confident and was always surrounded by gentlemen. The ton knew it was the elder Brightmore daughter that was faired haired and had the looks to charm a gentleman, but for some reason it was the younger Lady Fallon, that gentlemen found attractive. She had a confidence about her and knew how to talk about politics and books, unlike Lady Emma who was of a reserved nature and was hesitant to converse with gentlemen.

It was Lady Fallon’s come out season. Emma wondered who her sister had set her cap on, if any. Fallon was always going on drives to the park with this or that gentleman, more so than Emma herself. Gentlemen seemed reluctant to approach the shy elder sister. Emma was one and twenty. She wanted to find a husband this season. Fallon was still young, only nineteen summers. Their father, Edward Brightmore, the Baron Fulham would like both his daughters to be successful in the marriage mart this season. He was almost certain they would. They were most certainly not unattractive and had rather sizable dowries.

Emma coiled her head now in search of her younger sister. She smiled inwardly knowing where the most gentlemen were gathered, that is where her sister would be found and truly her younger sister was the centre of attraction amongst the most popular gentlemen of the peer.

‘I bet if I had a set of Arabian stallions,’ the Marquis of Dunbar, Drew Frewer complained, ‘I dare say I may have been the winner, Lady Fallon.’

Fallon laughed, a hint of self praise compelling her to respond. ‘Is it not the rider then that deserves the credit Lord Dunbar,’ she teased.

The other gentlemen laughed. They knew she was a worthy horsewoman. She loved horses, the outdoors and dancing and she was expertly acknowledged in the former and the latter.

‘Oh do give,’ Sir Neels Orway, another gentleman suggested. ‘You know Lady Fallon shall be victorious, blindfolded, on any horseflesh.

‘Thank you, Sir Neels,’ Fallon bowed ornately. ‘Gentlemen, I demand you take your leave. I am in need of some fresh air. I’ve danced too many dances, my feet ache.’

‘I shall accompany you to the garden Dunbar offered. ‘One never knows who may be lurking in the darkness,’ he grinned.

‘I should be so lucky,’ Lady Fallon nodded to her maid to do her chaperon duties. Her thoughts automatically went to the dark, Earl Hampton. She had seen him enter earlier, but he had not graced the dance hall, instead he had purposefully strode into the card room. Can cards really be more interesting than dancing with fair maidens?

‘Would you have any news for me Lady Fallon?’ Drew tucked her hand in the crook of his. She had known he’d drawn her out into the gardens to get information on the young lady he set his cap on. He was eight and twenty and desired to take Lady Carissa Quinn to wife.

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