Stubborn old fool.

It was his fault she was about this mission in the first place. He could be so hard headed!

She had begged and cried, even broken things in her frustration. She tried every hysterical act in the book, but he would not allow her antics to sway him. She had even played upon her beloved mother's memory to get him to see things her way, begging him to honor her memory and allow her to choose her own husband.

He had still refused to end the betrothal contract he had signed, promising her to a man more than ten years her senior, that she had never even met.

Arianna had been hurt by his refusals. But anger and defiance had soon covered the pain of her father's set down. She knew that the contract would eventually make her a Marchioness, but she did not care to know which exact title it would be, or even what her intended's name was, as she had absolutely no ambitions to honor the contracts. After all, she had not agreed to them, her name was not penned across them in her own hand.

She knew her consent, or the lack thereof, was in no way relevant to the authenticity of the contracts. But she could not help but find the whole situation unfair.

And damn it, hadn't her father raised her to make her own decisions? Had he not been the one to encourage her to think for herself and not allow other's opinions to sway her? When she had been twelve and her aunt had hosted a lake party, had he not encouraged her to best her male cousins in the rowing race? Had he not encouraged her to become an excellent shot with his pistols as well as his rifles? Had he ever been more proud of her, than when she had broken her cousin Matthew's nose, putting a stop to his bullying antics? If she was wrong, then she knew her father not at all. It had been he who had been her and Lily's supporter, and savior, when the girls had decided to sneak into the local tavern at the age of fifteen, just to see what went on inside. Had he not rescued them from the tavern, and smiled as he recounted the story to her brother? When he told the story now was his proudest moment not when she had smashed a man over the head with his own full mug for placing his hands upon her?

Arianna wondered if her father actually believed she would simply honor his wishes and allow him to sell her off to any man of his choice. She became much more devious in her scheming. Arianna began acting out. She showed a little too much favor to a few gentleman, trying to convince her father that she was in love with one of them.

It had not been true; although she was fond of the Baron Michaels, as he was a handsome gentleman, only two years her senior and she had enjoyed his company; there was no love in her heart for him. At least she had known him and liked him.

Her father had attempted to deny her further avenues of rebellion, retiring to the country, with her in tow.

"You had your chance to pick a man of your own, daughter. Three years is long enough for you to have chosen a husband. You've had the cream of England's crop dropped at your feet girl! Hell daughter, twelve offers for your hand have hit my desk, and that is not counting the ones you discouraged before they got so far. I have been more than fair in this! So now I have secured an extremely advantageous match for you, and you will not bring shame to my name by going against my word. I will not allow it, Arianna."

Her father's words still stung as she remembered the anger that had burned in his gray eyes. It had turned them the color of polished steel under his dark, thick, bushy brows. They had drawn together to create one solid slanted 'v' across his face that day in the carriage as they left town. But still, how was this advantageous for her?

All she could see in his plans for her was respectable boredom for the rest of her days.

Her small, yet beautifully bowed mouth pursed into an angry pout, as she pushed a strand of now damp, inky, black hair away, that the breeze had pulled loose from her pins and thrown across her face.

The Duke's Daughter -Wattys2014 Collector's Dream Award Winner-Where stories live. Discover now