Chapter Four

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"Mother, why must I go to the dinner?" Charlie asked her mother as Robin buttoned up her dinner dress. Though Charlie wasn't happy about going to the dinner, the dress was beautiful. It was a lavender purple, with pink flowers pinned to the bodice. Robin pinned her hair up in an elaborate hairstyle, with pearls and diamonds dotted in her dark brown locks. Robin was truly a master with hair.

Charlie had two reasons to be unhappy. One was that she had attended five different Season events in the past week. The second was Richard was going to be there. Charlie was trying very hard indeed to avoid Richard, which was proving more difficult than she thought. Richard was there every time Charlie went to see Diana or Diana came to see her.

Their ride together had not gone well. Charlie had refused to tell Richard why she had acted the way she had at the opening ball. And so, they had spent the ride in icy silence. Richard counted himself as Charlie's brother, something he was not.

"I must remind you, Lord Wellington, that you are neither my father or brother. I am not obliged to tell you anything I wish to withhold." She had reminded him. Unfortunately, it had only made things worse.

He had stiffened, as though he had realized something, "You are right. I am neither your father or brother."

They had broke out in an all-out yelling match when he had returned her home. Charlie could still feel the sting of his words and the anger in his periwinkle eyes. Now they both tried to politely ignore each other. They only spoke when society dictated it.

Now Charlie wasn't sure if they'd ever get past it. She was afraid that she had lost a friendship, and a dear one at that. She sighed and her mother raised an eyebrow, a knowing look on her face.

Lady Claire took Charlie's hand and shooed Robin away to talk to her daughter.

"I think I know what this is about."

"You do?" Charlie sat up straight, staring at her mother. She nodded.

"It's about Richard, isn't it?" Claire raised an eyebrow, but Charlie had a feeling that her mother already knew the answer.

She placed a gentle hand on Charlie's shoulder, her expression turning serious. For some reason, Charlie started to tremble slightly. Her mother was much smarter than she appeared, especially when it came to her daughter. Charlie nodded once, very slowly.

"Charlotte, Richard is a very handsome young man and he does know you very well. I cannot have a say in the matter of your heart and I know you must think otherwise, but I do want you to be happy. And if you are happy with Richard, then I am happy." She smiled once more at Charlie, then left, sending Robin back in. Charlie sat there, stunned, and her mouth hanging open.

"Miss? Are you alright? What did lady Claire tell you?" Robin asked. Charlie blinked a few times, still trying to comprehend what her mother just told her.

"Miss?" Robin asked again.

"I think...I think she just told me that I could...I could choose Richard, if I wanted to." Charlie said. Robin gasped and clapped her hands in delight.

"Oh, miss! This is wonderful news! Come, I think I know exactly what to do." Robin said, hurrying to the vanity table and sorting through the collection of cosmetics on it. She applied rouge to her cheeks, and very light powder around her face and on her chest.

"There, you're ready! Lord Fredrick should be here soon to escort you to the dinner." Robin said. Charlie smiled at her maid, the shock of what her mother had said still lingering. There was a knock of the door and Robin opened it, bowing to Charlie's father and leaving the room.

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