1699 — Adlington, England
Interesting. Carules children looked just like Edren children, despite the blue flames racing through their blood. Instead of red, like hers. Ada bit her lip and stole a peek at her father Richard, the Duke of Adlington. He seemed uninterested, for the most part, in her new governess’s arrival, writing in his ledger and every so often checking his pocket watch.
“Daddy.” She glanced at him again, but he was writing. “Daddy!” Louder this time.
Finally, she had his attention, as he set his pencil down and looked up, rubbing his eyes. “What is it, Ada?”
“My new governess is here.” Ada pointed at the window. “With her children.”
He raised an eyebrow and heaved himself to his feet. He wasn’t a big man, but he moved like he was. “So they are. Looks like one of them is a seer. Isn’t that interesting, Ada?” he asked, peering through the window. He might have asked her, but he didn’t want her to answer. He preferred it when she didn’t speak. “Children should be seen and not heard” was one of his favorite sayings.
“Ada,” her mother, Vivian, called from the entryway. Ada glanced once more out the window, but her governess was out of sight. With a hasty curtsy to her father, she fled the room, wondering if that man would ever not terrify her.
“Ada, darling, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” Vivian waited at the bottom of the staircase, holding a hand toward her daughter. Ada crept forward. This was her seventh governess. None of the others had been able to get her to produce any sort of magic at all and her father had dismissed them. “This is Governess Buttercroft, dear. Come say hello.” Vivian motioned, her smile faltering for a brief second, revealing the scowl underneath.
Ada grabbed her skirt in her hand and hurried down the steps. She didn’t want to be scolded, especially not in front of other children. She skidded to a halt in front of the tall woman with striking brown eyes and dark hair. Her mother only came to the new governess’s shoulder, but Ada had learned not to compare her mother to anyone. “Hello,” she said shyly.
The woman crouched down in a ruffle of skirts to peer into her eyes. “Why, you are a pretty little thing, aren’t you?”
“Thank you, ma’am. I look like my mama,” Ada said, twisting her hands in her skirt. The woman laughed, and it reminded Ada of the little bells she’d heard at the shop in the village. Musical.
“Oh, isn’t she kind? Come, I’ll have the staff show you to your quarters. I expect you’ll see enough of the child starting first thing in the morning.” Vivian swept an arm toward the wide front doors; the governess would be staying in the small cottage across the lawns, like all the others. But none of the others had had children.
Ada eyed them as they followed their mother without a word. The boy was bigger than she was, with the same dark hair and eyes as his mother. The girl was smaller than Ada, and she looked nothing like her brother or her mother. Her hair was white, like Ada’s grandmother’s, except silky. And her eyes shone silver. Like all the other girls her father had been hiring lately.
Ada stood alone and forgotten, watching them walk away.
At the doorway, the boy paused and looked over his shoulder. His dark eyes crinkled, just a bit, and he smiled.
“Ada, these are my children, Charity and Christian. They will be learning with you.” Governess Buttercroft stood in front of them with her hands behind her back, her dark hair twisted up and away from her face. Ada was positive she was the prettiest governess she’d had. But that didn’t make Ada any less nervous. If