Chapter 1. Prologue

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10-year-old Claire April feels petrified. Her horse is running with fright, having been surprised by a snake during the ride across the Meadows of London.  She holds on for dear life, her strawberry blonde hair blowing in the breeze, and her bright blue eyes filled with panic. The skirts of her off the shoulder puffy sleeved pink dress billow about her from the wind, revealing her stockings matching pink shoes and bloomers.

Claire. Calypso, stop! It's all right! She is trying to reassure the horse more than her self.

But calypso cannot stop, and the beautiful chestnut brown horse continues her terrified rampage.

Claire tries to tighten her grip on the reins, but then gets thrown into the air, screaming with terror as she falls to the floor.

Abruptly, the sound of another pair of horse hooves flows through the meadow, and Claire notices a young gentleman who is not much older than her riding towards her on a black horse.

***

13-year-old Harrison Palmer looks at the conundrum before him. A little girl who seems to be a little younger than him, is holding onto the reins of her horse for dear life, screaming as the animal runs quickly down the hill. His eyes become wide with panic as he watches the horse throw off its rider, and he watches the young girl fall to the floor.

Moving his dark brown hair out of his green eyes, Harrison quickly makes his way towards the troubled little creature.  Dismounting his own stallion, he moves slowly towards the female horse. He places one hand out flat towards her.

Calypso slowly begins to calm down, walking forward and nuzzling Harrison's hand.

Harrison. There there. You are all right. He then turns his attention back to the little girl. His hand reaches for her. Are you all right?

***

Claire takes his hand, allowing him to help her to her feet. Yes, I am all right. Thank you for taking care of my horse. And finding me.

The young man smiles at her. You're welcome. What exactly happened?

Claire. My horse and I were riding along the meadow, but then she got frightened by a snake. The snake came out of nowhere, you see, so we ran away.

The young man nods. Well, I'm glad the two of you are not hurt.

Claire. Me too. She looks at the young gentleman's white linen shirt, black vest, black pants and boots. She then lifts her eyes to his face, noticing his dark brown hair and green eyes.  What is your name?

The young man gives her a sweet smile. Master Harrison Palmer.  And yours?

Claire shakes the hand he has extended to her. Miss Claire April.

Harrison shakes her hand. Pleasure to meet you.

Claire. Pleasure to meet you as well. Your horse is very pretty.

Harrison. Thank you. His name is Stardust. Your horse is very beautiful too.

Claire. Thank you. Her name is calypso.

Harrison. Do you think I could accompany you back to wherever it is you need to go? I don't want you getting hurt.

Claire. If you don't mind, I would really like that. She gets up onto Calypso.

Harrison gets up onto Stardust. Not at all. I am always ready to help someone who is in need.

The two of them begin the ride back down the hill, marveling at the beautiful countryside, but are soon distracted by the pleasant conversation they are having with one another.

***

Over the next two years, Claire and Harrison begin to spend a little more time together, going out for rides, having picnics by the hillside. Enjoying every minute they can together. They soon begin developing a sweet friendship, a friendship that they hope will last for a lifetime.

But as they grow closer, their parents begin to suspect that the feelings of friendliness are turning into something more. They try everything in their power to keep the young couple apart, and it works for about a week. Claire and Harrison always find a way to be together, no matter the circumstance.

As the years continue, the Palmer family and the April family begin to disapprove more and more of Claire and Harrison's relationship, noting that, although it is an innocent flirtation on both of their parts, they do not believe that it is proper for a young gentleman to be with a young lady. They believe Harrison should be with someone his own age and of his own status.

But Harrison and Claire do not want that. They desire to be together, and they do. Every chance they can. By the time Harrison is 16 and Claire is 13, they know they are madly in love. By 17 and 14, however, their families put a stop to their innocent romance. A romance that has yet to blossom.

And, as fate is going to have it, that Romance is soon going to be in full bloom. In just the course of a year.

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