Author's Note: I know I promised this story a while ago, but here it finally is! I'm going to try to update weekly, because I hate it as much as anyone else when authors leave months between updates. :D Please, please, please review! I love reviews—they're almost as good as birthday presents! (You can send me those too). Plus, I tend to write faster if I know people are reading my story. Enjoy!

Timeline: Set in England, spring of 1843.




"Lord Ainsworth." Fiona Tracy said with shock. "I am to marry Lord Ainsworth?"

"Yes." Her father, Lord Tracy answered, obviously pleased with himself. "You two can have a nice spring wedding."

"Oh no!" Lady Tracy exclaimed, and Fiona's heart jumped with hope. "There is no way we could have everything done in time for a spring wedding. It will have to be a summer wedding."

"Alright then, summer wedding it is." Lord Tracy said merrily. "You women can work out the details: the rest of the marriage is all but final."

Fiona stood in a shocked silence.

"It's a perfect match." Lady Tracy commented, smiling at her daughter's good fortune. "Lord Ainsworth owns a lovely estate in the countryside, and he has a beautiful London house."

"Oh mother!" Fiona cried, falling back upon the lavender cushions, not caring that she was upsetting the careful arrangement of her fiery red hair. "I cannot marry him!"

"Fiona!" Came both her parent's startled responses.

"Don't be ridiculous!"

"Whatever do you mean?"

"I cannot marry him because I love another!" She cried.

"Oh, Fiona—"

"What about Lord Terrance?" She demanded. "Why not him? That's a perfect match! He too has a lovely estate in the country, and I'm sure his home in York is as charming as any in London!"

"Fiona, sweetheart, calm down . . ." Lady Tracy tried to comfort, but her daughter cut her off.

"And I love him!" She felt a sob rising in her. "I love him! So why can I not marry Lord Terrence?"

"It is out of the question!" Her father roared, getting up from his seat. "You will marry Lord Ainsworth, and that it final!"


"Don't you talk back to me!"

"Calm down, both of you!" Lady Tracy said, guiding her husband back to his seat. "Fiona is obviously very tired. She will go to her bedroom and rest, and in the morning she will of course apologize for her behavior."

"I'm not tired—" Fiona protested, but her mother silenced her.

"And in late June, Fiona and Lord Ainsworth will be married. That is final."


"There will be no more of this disgraceful behavior from you tonight!" Lady Tracey snapped. "Dinner will be sent up to your room."

Fiona got up with a huff, closing the parlor door firmly behind her as she made her way towards her room, the silk of her dress hissing behind her.

How could her parents expect her to marry Lord Ainsworth when all she could think about was her dear, sweet Blayne Terrance?

She closed the door to her room behind her and leaned against it, closing her grey-green eyes to the unpleasant world and opening the memories of her dark-haired love.

He had met her father through business of some sort; Lord Terrance had then invited him to dine with them one night. Fiona could remember it so clearly: how she had felt him watching her, and then looked carefully up at him to meet his blue eyes across the table, gazing through the candlelight.

After that night he had come often, her Blayne. He came for dinner and for parties and to take her for walks; whenever he first saw her he would politely kiss her hand, and oh! How she lived for the feel of his lips against her skin.

They were going to be married: she wanted it, Blayne wanted it, her parents wanted it; it was only a matter of time.

Fiona's world seemed perfect until her father and Blayne got into an argument. Over what, she did not know, but after that her father refused to see him, refused to let his daughter see him, and all thoughts of marriage ended. All thoughts except Fiona's.

She took a deep breath, trying to recall the scent of him, but it wouldn't come for her. She sighed and opened her eyes, calling for the maid to draw her a bath.


Fiona's red hair was piled atop her head to keep it dry as she soaked in the hot bath.

She didn't know what to do. She couldn't marry Lord Ainsworth—she would start her marriage as an unfaithful wife if she took her marriage vows in love with another man, thinking of another man. Besides, she didn't want to marry Lord Ainsworth. She also couldn't defy her parents, and it wasn't like Blayne was standing around, waiting for her to tell him she was ready to be married.

That's not his fault, she reminded herself. He would be here if he could, but he has to manage his affairs in York and anyways, father would not stand for it if he were here.

A thought came to her mind. It was definitely not a proper thought for a young Lady, but she thought it all the same.

What if she were to go to him?

If she left tonight, if she ran away, no one would notice until late tomorrow morning. She could go to York and find Blayne herself, and then they could get married and everything would work out the way it was supposed to.

That's crazy. She told herself, it would never work.

But there was a smile on her lips, and she was pulling her slim body out of the bathtub, ideas of elopement and escape dashing through her mind.

Fiona pulled the bag out from where it was buried under all her other purses. It was her one 'functional' purse, but she found it ugly (and had no need for much that was functional), and so she rarely used it.

It was a simple leather bag, but well made, with one wide strap that could be worn over her shoulder. She quickly filled it with everything she thought she would need.

Hearing her maid talking with another in the hallway, she glanced at the clock to realize that it was time for her maid to come and help her change for bed.

Fiona quickly threw her bag under the bed, pulled her hair loose and feigned sleep.

The maid came in and found her sleeping; unsure of what to do, she decided to let Miss Tracey sleep, though she shook her head at the thought of Fiona wrinkling her pretty dark blue gown.

The maid left, and Fiona stayed in her bed, pretending to be asleep until finally, many hours later, all sound in the house ceased.

Her heart pounding, she got out of bed and slipped on her good walking boots, pinned her red hair back, grabbed her bag and slipped her heavy black coat on over her dress.

The doors to the house were heavily guarded, so she carefully opened one of the large widows on the eastern wall of her room. The window opened soundlessly on well-oiled hinges, and the oak tree stood right outside, one of its sturdy branches coming to an end less than a foot from the widow ledge

She took a deep breath, fearing her heart was going to jump out of her chest if it kept beating at this rate. Fiona nimbly moved from her window to the branch, pulling herself towards the trunk on her stomach, and thanking her brother John for all the summers she'd spent chasing him up and down trees at their country estate.

She reached the trunk of the tree and climbed down it, using the branches as footholds. About six feet from the ground, the branches stopped, and so she tried to use the lowest branch to swing herself down to the ground.

It had been awhile since last summer, however, and instead of the soft, quiet jump she had been expecting, Fiona slipped, her hands not getting their grip on the branch. She stumbled to the ground, just barely managing to land on her feet in a crouch, with her hands braced against the ground to keep her from tumbling headfirst into the budding tulips.

She picked herself off the ground and hit something else, and suddenly she felt strong arms around her and a voice in her ear.

"Miss Fiona Tracy." Came a man's deep voice. "You're making my job too easy."