There was something ethereal about the young woman holding his arm; as if she didn’t quite belong to this world. Nobody had ever seen her. Still her name was known; in fact it had become the subject of many rumours over the past months but to witness her entrance within the ton was a privilege. If beauty was its own entry card, Jonathan knew that Amanda would be the guest of honour of all the upcoming parties. He also knew the invitations to this ball were the most sought after of the season.
Nobody who was anybody among the Set would have wanted to be elsewhere tonight; Lady Warwick must have been delighted to have her choice of guests. Lord knew on a good year she barely had enough; one scandal too many brought upon her by her late husband. He knew he had made the right choice. The ton could exact a dire price on those they shunned; and though it was not of her doing, Lady Warwick had been living on the edges of a Society that once adored her for almost ten years. It was high time she reclaimed some of her prestige. Organizing Amanda’s coming out here had been the best choice.
He eased his hold on Amanda’s arm, but she clutched at him softly.
“Don’t let go, please.” She breathed through clenched teeth, keeping her smile for everyone else to see.
He had not been sure whether she was scared but obviously she was. She had been less than excited about being introduced to the nobility; after all she had grown up far from these ballrooms. Yet she had sat through all the lessons he and their mother had organized for her. She had acquired the skills most girls of the Set developed over more than a decade in mere months. Her speech lacked sometimes, especially when she was nervous but still. And even though he must ensure she entered society, Jonathan and his mother were not ready to let her go from one easement to another. He knew what marriage could be; what it had been for their mother. Although the reasons had become clear only recently.
Nothing they did would erase Amanda’s memories and her past; nor would their mother forget she had lost nineteen years of her daughter’s life. Jonathan had never known or remembered he had a sister until his father passed. He now understood why his father had been so distant. For a long time he thought the Marquess evil… resenting his wife, hating her maybe and annoyed by his good-for-nothing son. How wrong he was! His father only sought to protect them from the hopelessness of his search for his daughter.
Though rumours had spread like wild fire about the rescue of the long lost Caldwell daughter, what she had been through was not exoteric. She needed no additional reminder; she barely seemed to hold it together as it were. But he had no doubt most young women of the ton would attempt some emulation or other of her style and appearance. If only they knew…
In response to Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie’s prompt Wordle The Letter E
1. Easement, 2. Ethereal, 3. Exoteric ((adj.) suitable for or communicated to the general public: not belonging, limited, or pertaining to the inner select circle, as of disciples or intimates: popular, simple, common place), 4. Emulation ((n.) effort or desire to equal or excel others: jealous rivalry), 5. Edge, 6. Elsewhere, 7. Enough, 8. Equipment, 9. Entry, 10. Erase, 11. Exact, 12. Evil