I could hardly hide my excitement as I ran downstairs to the drawing room. It had been tidied and the flowers in the ornate vases had been rejuvenated by the air from the open French windows which had made them flutter in the breeze. A sat down uneasily on the chaise lounge and breathed deeply. It was then that I heard the main door to the manor open and voices from the hall growing closer and closer. There was a subtle knock on the drawing room door and I stood up hastily.
“Yes?” I called. The door opened slowly.
“Good morning, Miss.” Valentine said, softly.
“Good morning, Marquess.” I replied (the sudden formality surprising to me).
“Can I share your chaise lounge?” he smiled.
“Of course.” He came and sat next to where I stood and pulled softly on my hand, causing me to sit down a lot quicker than I ordinarily would have done.
“I got you this.” He said, pushing a small book onto my lap “It’s called Common Sense, its by a man called Thomas Paine, its one of those books that’s come out now that the revolutionaries are marching here, there and everywhere. The rumour is they’re going to win.”
“Oh, what does that mean for us?” I said as he began sliding his hand onto my leg on top of my skirt.
“Probably nothing. Just means you’ll see less of the red coats in the town, to be honest, the brothels will probably feel it the most if the revolutionaries win.”
“Why? Don’t the revolutionaries like having sex?” I whispered.
“I think they probably do. But they just don’t have as much money as the red coats.”
“Oh. Will you lose your title if the revolution wins, Valentine?”
“Probably, but it’s okay, it’s not a title I’m fond of. The revolution killed Dorians brothers; you know.” He took a breath “All three of them died in the Battle of Kemp’s Landing in 1775.”
“I’m sorry to hear that. We never talk about the revolution here, I always thought it was because my mother was such a fan of King George, maybe its because no one wants to upset Gabriella.” He nodded. “I don’t know anything about the revolution.”
“Neither do I really, all I know is that one side is obsessed by pomp and pageantry and the other hasn’t bathed in a month. I know about the leader, he lives up at Mount Vernon. He owns a plantation.”
“That’s a little bit rich for a man who wants to take away your title, isn’t it?” Valentine gave a little cynical laugh.
“Yes, you could say that, but I don’t think it’s a personal thing.”
“Its nothing personal that he wants to take my title.” he laughed. I laughed too. “Well, either way, its worth giving this a read.” He gestured to the book.
“Yes, I will, thank you.” He continued to slip his hand up and down my thigh. I looked at him, startled.
“Tell me if you want me to stop, Theodosia.” Valentine whispered, leaning in closer to me.
“I don’t want you to stop, I like it.” I whispered. He planted a soft kiss on my lips.
“I love you, Theodosia.” He whispered, his lips almost touching my ear.
“I love you too, Valentine.” I said, leaning my head into his broad chest.
“Now, onto today’s other news,” he said, straightening up “I may have found a match for Gabriella.”
“Wonderful, who?” I gasped with a smile, feeling a sudden lightness in me.
“He’s called Charles LeBolt. I met him a few years ago when he was trying to get me in the red coat army, him and I have been in correspondence since, he’s a Captain, hes stationed in Williamsburg, if you think he might be suitable, I can write to him and tell him I think I have a bride for him.”
“We should talk to Gabriella, how old is he?”
“Brilliant, brilliant, I’ll get Gabriella.” I stood up and went to the door “Gabriella!” I shouted. Gabriella came trotting down the stairs in one of her yellow day dresses.
“Theodosia? Is the Marquess here yet?” she questioned.
“Yes, come in here, he’s found you a match.” She cantered into the drawing room and gave a clumsy curtsey to Valentine who in turn gave a little bow.
“Miss Kingston, I think I may know a gentleman who could make a good husband. His name is Captain Charles LeBolt and he is stationed in the barracks in Williamsburg. Do you think he would be suitable?”
“Yes, I do, but –“ her voice trailed off.
“You mustn’t tell my mother.” I said.
“Why ever not?” Gabriella asked.
“Well, it’s a very complicated and long story, she doesn’t want you to have a match. But, don’t worry about that, we have one for you.” I replied.
“Why doesn’t she want me to find a match?” Gabriella looked astonished.
“Never mind, it’ll all be fine, if you want, Valentine has his address, you could write to him.”
“I would like that very much.” She beamed at us both. Valentine passed over a little piece of parchment to her and she traced over the letters with her ring finger. “Is he a good man?” she suddenly looked up at Valentine.
“Yes, he’ll treat you well.” Valentine gave her a reassuring smile.
“Thank you, thank you so much.” Gabriella trotted back out of the room and up he stairs.
“Well, that’s one thing sorted out, now we just need to keep it a secret from your mother.” Valentine smiled, opening up his chest to allow me to return to my previous position in his arms.
“It’s such a lovely sunny day out there.” I remarked, looking out of the window “Can we go to the Creek?”
“What’s that?” he asked.
“It’s a river which followed past the Summer House and down over there.” I gestured broadly into the distance. “It’s my special place.”
“Then we should definitely go there. I would love to go to your special place.” He took my face in his hands and kissed gently.