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Chapter 1

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"Every traveler has a home of his own, and he learns to appreciate it the more from his wandering." Charles Dickens


Chapter One

Nate felt a sensation of nostalgia as the distantly familiar sight of London came into view from the window in his cabin. The nostalgia made him forget his horrendous nerves for a few minutes, as within a few days he would be home at Montrose and his homecoming would reach the ears of his friends at Ascot, namely the girl whose engagement had meant his return.

"Look, Maggie," Nate said softly, pointing out the small, circular window. "London."

Maggie's pale green eyes peered out the window and she gasped, flashing a smile at Nate, the same smile that had captured his heart nearly a year ago when they'd first met in North Carolina. "London," Maggie repeated, her American accent wrapping around the word like no other way he'd ever heard it. "Is this where you live?" she asked curiously. 

"No, I live a few days' ride from here in a place called 'Derbyshire.' My estate is called 'Montrose,'" he explained. "It will be our home."

"Are we going to stay here forever?" Maggie asked next, still happily peering out the window as the ship was being secured to the dock.

Nate had already packed their trunks and they were stacked at the door in an orderly fashion. "England is my home, Maggie. You'll like it here, I promise you. The weather is questionable and you might encounter a rude man or two, but it is a wonderful place to live."

Maggie stood away from the window and smoothed out her dress and flattened her already smooth, brown hair. Her hair was perfectly straight and fell to her hip bones, and it had a natural, gorgeous shine. Maggie's most endearing feature, though, were her beautiful eyes. The pale green hues were unlike any Nate had ever seen. Her eyes were framed by a set of dark, long eyelashes. Her skin was naturally olive due to her mother's Spanish roots. All in all, Maggie was a very attractive child, and would grow into an exceptionally beautiful woman.

"Daddy, do you think I look nice enough for England?" Maggie asked vulnerably, looking down at her grey, cotton gown. It was long sleeved and buttoned down her front. He'd commissioned a few dresses for Maggie while still in Boston but she'd already ruined them whilst playing with other children on board. The simple, sturdy kind were the dresses that suited the amount of energy she had.

Nate smiled affectionately at his young daughter. He placed his hands underneath her arms and lifted her up, supporting her light body on his forearm as she wrapped her legs around his waist. "You are perfect," he promised her. "No matter what anybody says to you, you needn't change. You have to understand, you are different here, Maggie, so people will say so. But if anyone makes you feel different, you will report them to me, understand?"

Maggie pursed her lips. "Can't I just slap them around the ears?" she asked, seeming perfectly serious.

Nate chuckled. "Absolutely not," he said firmly, but then he rethought it. "Not unless they really deserve it." She was a child, so she could get away with a little harmless fighting. Especially if a person was behaving on their prejudices. "Alright, even though it's March we still need our coats. Quickly, the steward will be here soon to collect our things." He put Maggie down and helped her into the thick, woollen coat he'd purchased for her. She pulled her hair out from inside the coat and then let it fall down her back. The only reason she wore it down was because Nate had no idea how to fix a woman's hair.

Carrie hadn't had a chance to tell him how to do that.

He'd met Caroline Wheeler on his way through Charlotte, North Carolina. Although he'd wanted to avoid any potential reminder, the name of the city had enticed him. Perhaps it was fate. Carrie had worked in the hotel he was staying at, as a singer in the dining room, and he'd engaged her in conversation after he'd had a little too much to drink. Within half an hour he'd divulged his entire tale regarding Charlotte Wilde to her. Perhaps the name of the city had brought it out of him.

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