Author's Note: After a long break, I am finally back to writing. I hope to be more active with my updates but you never know, my schedule could change completely. Thanks for those who have come back to read the next story in the McDaniel saga. I hope you enjoy this story.
There were two things James McDaniel was sure of. First, that no one would be crazy enough to meddle in his affairs with Lady Catherine and her daughter Diana. Second, that within a matter of two months his life was going to change completely and it would be irreversible. The extent of the damage was yet to be seen however but there was no denying that James was slightly miffed by the prospect of his unknown future.
Frustrated by the latest turn of events, James slammed his wrist against his large oak desk and groaned. Lady Catherine was a vindictive, scheming wench. She would stop at nothing to make him suffer for his indiscretions and he had enough of her. Nothing would stop the incessant woman until she was cold in her grave.
"I cannot believe this madness! Can you believe the nerve of the woman?" James vented.
Sitting across from him, quietly, was his brother Benjamin. Benjamin's hands were folded in his lap and one leg was crossed over the other. There was a gleam in his eye and James did not know whether or not it was amusement or trepidation that caused it to gleam so.
"What has Lady Catherine done now?" Benjamin calmly asked.
James held up the paper that had just arrived to him moments ago. The despair was clearly written upon his face. "I have given into every demand that woman has asked of me. I have provided for Diana with lodgings and coin and when she fell ill a month ago I sent for the very best physician to look after her. But this- this is too much!"
Benjamin sighed. "What has she asked James? You vent to me but do not tell what it is that has sent your emotions into such a fury."
"Lady Catherine has sent me a letter from Crosby Lodge to tell me that Diana has become engaged to some seafaring man and plans to leave with him once the child is born," he crumbled the paper in his hand.
"And the child?"
"She is not taking the child with her Ben. Lady Catherine is asking that I find someone willing to take the child in as Diana does not want to take her bastard child on her voyage with her new husband. I have never felt so much rage Ben!" James tossed the paper to the far side of the room and balled his hands into fists.
James imagined that his intentions were honorable. He meant to court and marry Diana when her season started but their illicit love affair got out of hand quickly than anticipated. It was made worse when Lady Catherine discovered that her young innocent daughter had snuck out and lain with a man. Lady Catherine was full of anger and resentment when Diana refused to name James as her lover. James, however righteous his intentions to marry Diana before her disgrace was made known to rest of London, was talked out of going to Lady Catherine was setting things by Benjamin for fear of the negative reputation the scandal would have against the McDaniel family name. James made the hard decision to let Diana go and to this day, his decision was still haunting him.
"Diana is just going to leave the child? How could she do that? She's been taken care of well due to the agreement you made months ago with mother and Lady Catherine and now she's just going to leave and abandon her child?" Benjamin asked incredulously.
"Diana is going to give birth in two months Benjamin! This isn't how it was supposed to happen. I was going to continue paying for her lodgings at Crosby Lodge and visit the child once in a while. Mother was very adamant about keeping the child a secret. No one was to know it was mine. Now I have to find a home to place the child in? The entirety of London will know the child is mine then," James voice cracked. The emotion at this moment was too much for him to handle.
"James, what do you want to do? The child is going to be here in two months. A decision will have to be made soon."
James shook his head and closed his eyes and slowly licked his lips. The room was silent for a few brief moments before he sat up straight and said, "I want to do the right thing Ben. That is why once she delivers the child, I will bring it here and will raise it. I understand the child will never inherit because of it's illegitimacy but I can't abandon it the way Diana wants to do."
Benjamin inhaled deeply. This isn't at all what he expected James to decide. The maturity James showed to make this decision impressed Benjamin. Heavens know Benjamin would not have made the same decision had he been in James' shoes.
"And what of Lady Catherine? Do you think she will allow her grandchild to live here in London and not want to visit?" asked Benjamin.
James shook his head. "Lady Catherine hates scandal, you and I both know that. She will not come near the child because she won't want people to know that the child was born to Diana through an indiscretion with me. Look how long it has been since I bedded Diana and still no one knows who the man is who ruined Diana. No, I am confident she will not bother me in the slightest."
Benjamin nodded in agreement. Although, he had to wonder whether or not James had really thought this through. A child is a hefty responsibility, add the fact that the child will grow up in London a bastard, the weight placed upon James and the child will be great indeed.
"I think you are doing an honorable thing James. You are the child's father after all and you know what is best. I do think you should run this by mother, you know how she gets when she feels left out of things," said Benjamin.
James leaned back in his chair and placed his hands over his chest. "Ben, I'm going to be a father. I know this is not the way any of us wanted but it has happened and as a man, I must own it. I know it's what father would have wanted me to do." James smiled slightly but then it slowly faltered. "I don't know anything about being a father. I wish our father was here to help me through this."
Benjamin stood up from his seat and straightened his jacket. "He may not be here but we both have memories of him and he was a good father, take from his example."
James looked at his brother and stood up as well. He walked around his desk and to his brother. "I must find a governess. I don't even know where to begin."
"Ask our cousin the Duchess of Yorktown. As you know, she is with child and has had a governess helping her with the entire process of organizing things for her child's arrival. I'm sure Elizabeth will be glad to help you," Benjamin said.
"A splendid idea Ben! I shall go there at once," said James, "but first, I must speak to mother. I fear she will not be pleased about this."
"Are you out of your mind James? You can't just bring the child here to live!" cried Virginia, his mother.
James should have know this is how his mother would have reacted although he'd be lying if he wasn't hoping she'd be more calm regarding the matter.
"What am I to do then mother? Send the child to an orphanage?" he asked.
"Well not exactly. I'm sure in the country there are poor lonely folks who would love to take a child in," she offered.
"So I am just to send my child to live with some random people? They would never be able to give the child what I can. Mother, I don't expect you to understand my point of view but for months Diana's disgrace has haunted me. I should have done right by her and married her that day Lady Catherine discovered what happened. But instead I left her like some sort of coward. I will not back down, not about this, I will not!"
Virginia tensed. "Very well son, you are a grown man and you will live with this decision."
"I'm well aware of that mother. Just be lucky I am nothing like Benjamin. His contempt for you would have made this conversation much more difficult than it had to be," said James.
"Yes, perhaps you are right. Although he has been in a much better since his marriage."
With his brother's backing and his mother's blessing, James set off to visit his cousin Elizabeth St. Charles for advice on how to prepare for the child's arrival.
All her life, Georgiana Hamilton Price had been the most stubborn fool to ever live in Reading, Berkshire England; although her father Lord Alfred Price held the number two spot. With thick black hair and hazel eyes, Georgiana was a free spirit. She avoided going to London for her season a couple years back much to the chagrin of her mother because she did not like the thought of being tied down, she wanted to see the world.
However, Georgiana had a rude awakening when her father matched her with a baker's son in order to rein in his daughter. Georgiana then did the most awful thing a young woman could do and did not show up to her own wedding.
Frustrated with her antics, Lord Price finally had enough with his rebellious daughter and at age nineteen sent her to the country to live her aunt.
Which is where she was now…
Georgiana walked through the field of flowers towards the small cottage she shared with her aunt Renee. Renee Price's husband died of cholera five years after their marriage, leaving Renee a grieving widow with two young children. Georgiana often wondered if Renee refused to marry because she liked being alone.
"Georgiana! Come in at once. I have received a missive for you!" yelled Renee from the door.
Georgiana treaded along quickly until she stood face to face with her aunt. "Where have you been child? The night is quickly falling upon us, your mother and father would be so upset if you fell ill."
Georgiana looked up at her aunt through thick lashes. "I doubt that Aunt Renee, I haven't seen them in over eight months. I never did fit up to their expectations. I am nothing more than an unruly child to them."
"Hush now child," scolded Renee, "you did not exactly leave them much choice when you ran away from home to escape that marriage your father set up for you."
"I don't believe I need to marry to be happy Aunt Renee. Look at you, you've been without husband many years now and I don't see you the least bit unhappy," said Georgiana with a stubborn flair.
"I did have a husband once so don't be quick to dismiss that. Come inside so you can read your letter." Renee ushered Georgiana in and closed the door behind them.
"Who is the missive from?" asked Georgiana taking a seat in the small velvet chair near the fireplace.
"Your cousin Bernita," answered Renee.
Georgiana raised a brow and turned to look at her aunt. "Your daughter who lives in London? Why ever would she write to me?"
"Perhaps to be friendly," mused Renee.
Georgiana slowly opened the paper and read quietly.
"Dear cousin, how I have thought of you. I trust my mother is keeping you excellent company. I write to tell you of an excellent job opportunity that has come to my attention. The Marquis of Markston is expecting a child in a matter of some weeks. He is looking for a governess to take charge of his child. Although, dear cousin, I know you have no formal training in being a governess, I do think the opportunity is something you must consider. You will be independent and live in a household where you will be taken well care of. Come to London at your earliest convenience so I may speak to you more regarding the matter. Ever loving, your cousin, Bernita."
Georgiana put the paper down and licked her lips. A governess? Where is the adventure in being a governess?
"Well?" came Renee's voice as she placed a cup of tea next to Georgiana, "what did the letter say?"
"Apparently some marquis is looking for a governess and Bernita seems to think it's an excellent opportunity for me," said Georgiana with a hint of disdain in her voice.
Renee's eyes widened. "A governess? Well, not much opportunity for growth however working in a household of nobility is a great honor. Most people wish they were offered jobs in noble households. The wages are better and the accommodations are much nicer. Are you considering it?"
Georgiana carefully picked up her cup with her long delicate fingers. "I don't know aunt, being a governess sounds dreadful."
Renee nodded. "Perhaps you are right. Although there are many advantageous circumstances that could come this job. For instance, you will live in London and I'm sure the estate is extensive and immaculate. Your duties will be simple since the child will be young. It is not like you will be wet nurse. You will meet plenty of people. If you choose to leave the position at least you will have acquaintances there. It is possible Georgiana that this is the kick-starter to your adventures."
Georgiana slowly drank from her cup. She did not look convinced.
"In all honesty my dear, everyone must have a beginning. It may not be grand but you must start somewhere," added Renee.
She ran a hand through her dark hair. "You have a point aunt; to London I go."