𝔗𝔥𝔦𝔫𝔤𝔰 𝔗𝔥𝔞𝔱 𝔄𝔯𝔢 𝔅𝔢𝔱𝔱𝔢𝔯 𝔏𝔢𝔣𝔱 𝔘𝔫𝔰𝔞𝔦𝔡

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"Erina, mercy on the---!" Lady Sutherton recoiled as her daughter barreled through the halls, making various expensive décor topple from walls and shelves.

The moment she had stepped out of the room, she was on a rampage, purposely destroying with every stomp of her feet.

"Erina, stop this!" She pursued the storm of anger. "You are acting intolerable for a Sutherton lady, or the way any proper lady should! This type of behavior is unbecoming. What of Marigold's Academy for Proper ladies? Must you forget about that? Do you not think of the reputation you're getting—we're getting because of you? I'm not quite sure where this behavior is coming from, but you know your father and I feel---."

"---Anya." She stopped whipping around to stare her mother down. "Let me say it once, save your breath." Her words cut sharp.

"Erina, I---."

"Do not pretend that you want to start mother goosing to me now." She glared. "You know where our boundaries are."

A frown dented Lady Sutherton's face, and she was quick to cave in. "Maybe I'm speaking too harshly. I'm sorry, dear." She swallowed hard, the sound of regret lingering on her tongue. "All of that is not what's truly important. What's important is that you know I have a good feeling about Mister Ezra being a good fit here if you cease your attempts to run him off."

"Good fit? Did you even notice his prior display of offensive behavior? His borderline back lip to me? His attitude and tone? Or maybe his whole insubordination?! He pulled a chair out on me, and both of you were witnesses!" she barked, her voice bouncing up higher as the annoyance bubbled inside her.

"Truly, Erin? Are you really going to hanker and lie about a chair?"

"Yes. Yes, I absolutely am! That was a juvenile assault on my character and physical well-being. I am injured, mother." She placed a melodramatic hand against her chest. "Look at my foot! Do you not see how I bled? It was his fault! He did it!"

"Please, not with the dramatics, Erin." She groaned.

"I am not being dramatic. I'm speaking the truth. You feel he's a good fit, and I feel he's a knotted twit."

"I don't think I know what that means," she sighed, agonizingly.

"You don't need to know what it means to understand that I don't like him."

"Erina."

"Mother, even you must know that the lower you go, the lowborn stock lack the mind to even develop basic sense and sensibility. They are boorish, uncouth, and incredibly without manner."

"Yes, but it would be silly to suggest our family hires anything less than the qualified well-bred."

"Silly? Absolutely not. I have no certainty about that. These days, your selection is of the very disappointing variety."

"You're insulting me, Erin."

"Oh, if only that could be helped," she sarcastically spat.

For a moment, Lady Sutherton had to ground herself. "Sweetheart." Her voice reeked of condescension. "You fell from the chair, darling. And the foot injury thing?" She laughed. "Let's not get into the habit of making things up now. Especially when you're moving fine enough to destroy half of the west wing," she said in quick succession, briefly clenching her jaw. "So, what's making you want to tell stories? You don't normally find that necessary." She batted her eyes, reaching out to touch her daughter comfortingly.

She swiftly avoided her mother's reach with a glare. "I am not a liar. You may be to me, but I am not to you."

Lady Sutherton grimaced with a little tug of her eyes. "Listen, the situation with the gentleman, Ezra, is something your father and I already decided. No amount of storytelling will get it to change."

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