Chapter 1

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The streets of London bustled with activity. The local market was in full swing, vendors selling their items at different booths. People lined up at every single station, wanting to purchase whatever item they wanted. Sunshine shimmered in the sapphire sky.

Edward Berkeley, Duke of London, was not concerned about the items that surrounded him, nor was he concerned with the people at the stations begging him to purchase something. His attention was strictly focused on the little girl who was sitting at the edge of one of the stations, on a bench. She had strawberry blonde hair, blue eyes, and a cream and rose complexion. She was wearing a pink dress with puffy sleeves with satin ribbons. Matching pink shoes with the same ribbons completed her outfit, along with white lace stockings. Her hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

As he moved closer, Edward noticed that she was crying. He felt his heart squeeze in his chest, wanting to comfort the child. Smoothing his brown hair out of his blue gray eyes, he strode towards the child, kneeling down to her level.

The child looked up at him, tears streaming down her cheeks.

Reaching out, Edward took her hand gently into his. What's your name, darling?

The child did not release her hand from his. Lillian.

Edward. Why are you crying, Lillian?

Lillian. Because I don't know where my mama and brother are.

Edward. I see. Do you remember where you last saw your mother and brother?

Lillian. We were walking through the market, but then there were all of these people that came between us. I tried looking for them, but then I got lost. So I came to sit down here. She sniffed.

Feeling an overwhelming wave of compassion, Edward took Lillian into his arms, hugging her softly. Don't you worry, dear, I'll help you find your mother and brother. He rose to his feet, cradling the child in his arms, and began walking towards the direction of where he figured her family would be. Rounding the corner, he stopped dead as he noticed a beautiful young woman racing towards them, her son on her heels.

The woman resembled Lillian exactly, with the same strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes, along with the rose complexion. She was wearing a gown of pale blue with white lace around the neckline. Her hair was up in a French twist. Her son looked a little different from her, his hair being more copper, but his eyes blue. He was wearing a blue button up shirt with black pants.

Edward met the two of them halfway, his arms outstretched with Lillian towards the woman. She's all right.

Lillian's mother took her daughter into her arms, crying with absolute relief. Oh my darling, my sweet and beautiful Lily! Are you all right?

Lillian. I'm all right, mama. I didn't know where you and Alexander were.

Her mother hugged her gently. I am so sorry, sweetheart. Alec and I tried to find you, but there were so many people pushing us around. Did you find somewhere safe to sit?

Lillian. Yes, mama, I did. I was a little scared, but then this really nice gentleman came and spoke with me. She turned to smile at Edward.

Her mother turned her attention to Edward. Noting the Black uniform trimmed with gold, she knew he was of noble birth. Placing Lillian down beside her brother, she dropped into a curtsy. I cannot thank you enough, your grace. I was petrified, I was so worried for my child.

Edward raised her gently, his hand taking hers. It's all right, my lady. I didn't want your child to be alone, so I decided to stay with her.

The woman gave him a smile. Thank you again. My name is Katherine, by the way. Katherine Williams.

Edward smiled. Pleasure to meet you, I am Edward Berkeley, Duke of London.

Katherine. Pleasure to meet you. You have already met my youngest daughter, Lillian, who is two years old. This is my son, Alexander, who is four years old.

Alexander. Thank you for saving my sister, your grace.

Edward. You are very welcome. He glanced back at Katherine. Do the three of you have any place to stay for the night? Does your husband know that you're here?

The color drained from Katherine's face immediately. My husband has abandoned us, your grace.

Edward's eyes became wide. Abandoned you? But why?

Katherine. Because he has a mistress. He has left us, with all of his money, and has gone to her instead.

Alexander. Father didn't love me or Lily at all. Or our mother. All he wanted was our money.

Lillian. Father wouldn't even play with us or buy us pretty toys or dresses. Not even jewelry for mama.

Edward stared at the small family with disbelief. How could anyone abandon such a beautiful family? I'm so sorry. I cannot believe he did that to you. How long ago was this?

Katherine. About six months  ago. We've been living with my sister, but have decided to go elsewhere because she and her husband are expecting their second child. The house is becoming quite crowded.

Edward. Why don't the three of you come and stay with me? I'll give you anything you want.

Katherine. Oh, your grace, I couldn't ask you to do that.

Edward. Please, I insist. You and your children are going to be given the respect that you so rightfully deserve.

Katherine gave him a smile. Thank you your grace.

Edward. You're welcome. He gave her a returning smile. And please, Edward will do just fine.

Katherine. Well then, Katherine will suit me just fine.

And with that, the four of them made their way to Edwards carriage. They slipped inside, became settled, and drove off towards London Manor.

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