Hired as a nanny for her cousin’s children, Anne Tearle finds security and a loving family. The children are a dream, but London society is a world of its own, one where a displaced farm girl has no business being. But, wealthy rake, Gavin MacKay, helps her to see associating with the upper class might not be as horrid as she first assumed.
Like all things worthwhile, love comes at a price, and the cost soon bestows more anguish than joy. Lost, but not undone, Anne must find the courage to begin life anew, or succumb to sorrow’s unrelenting waves of grief.
Publication date: 21 April 2014. PREORDER
With a loud grind and clanking, the train came to rest at King’s Cross Station. The engine car let out a hiss like the sigh that escaped my lips every night when I laid on my pallet after a long day’s work.
Pressing my face to the window, I stared in amazement at the mass of moving people. When boarding the train in Birmingham, excitement kept me from giving the well-to-do folks more than a mere glance, but I sat captivated as my fellow passengers disembarked around me.
Lavish bonnets and bright-coloured dresses of silky material made me ashamed of the threadbare gingham frock and tattered straw hat I wore.
Aunt Martha and Mary always tried to keep up with the latest fashions by ripping and sewing old dresses—garments beyond repair became an extra flounce or two, and the nicer threads unwoven and made into lace collars or cuffs. I hadn’t ever been allowed time for such frivolous activities, so I made myself content with proper skirt length and suitable patches for worn elbows.
Content, until I gazed upon the ladies of London in all their finery. Aunt Martha would say those folks sinned by squandering their money in such a way.
For about the tenth time, I imagined my aunt’s kitchen minus its scullery maid and target for hurled objects. I choked back a giggle for what must have been the fifth time that morning. My days of being a slave were over, for I had been offered employment.
Fingers trembling, I stood and wrapped my thin shawl tight around my shoulders, clutched my bundle closer, and walked the train’s narrow aisle. I stepped onto the platform and peered around the sea of faces for Joanna Telford.
I had never met my cousin from London. Until a few weeks earlier, I wasn’t even aware I had family beyond Uncle Edward and Aunt Martha. Mrs. Telford wrote to tell me she and her husband were in need of a nanny and governess for their two young sons, and being the merciful guardian he was, Uncle Edward decided to send me away from his wife.
Without her knowing.
Another smile lifted my lips, and I shifted on my feet, moving my tied bundle from one hand to the other. I grimaced as a whiff of body odour rose. Aunt Martha allowed me to bathe once a week, which would have been on the morrow, but asking to do so early certainly would have aroused suspicion. Sneaking away from her house before sunrise as I did would never have occurred with success.
No one spared the poor farm girl a second glance, and insides buzzing like a honey bee, I stood unmoving, a white-knuckled grip on my worldly possessions.
Minutes moved passed slower than a lazy stream and the surrounding crowd began to disperse. I waited. Despair crept closer with every passing heartbeat.
A stooped man in black livery made eye contact with me, and a pleasant smile lit his face as he started my way.
“Miss Tearle?” His voice rasped like a rusty barn door hinge.
“Yes. I am Anne Tearle.” I was grateful to my aunt for one thing. My accent matched almost perfectly with those buzzing around me. Aunt Martha’s hatred of the Black Country we lived in and the cane across the back of my legs every time I slipped into the bouncing regional lilt had eradicated all but the barest traces of it.
The elderly gentleman removed his hat, tucked it under one arm, and dipped his head. “Welcome to London, missy.” His smile widened and the skin around his watery blue eyes crinkled. “I’m the Telfords’ coachman, Emanuel. The missus has sent me to collect you.”
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About the Author
Terri started writing stories in the 8th grade, when a little gnome whispered in her brain. Gundi’s Great Adventure never hit the best seller list, but it started a long love affair with storytelling. Today she enjoys an escape to Middle Earth during the rare ‘me’ moments her two young daughters allow. When not playing toys, picking them back up, or kissing boo-boos, she can be found sprawled on the couch with a book or pencil in hand, and toothpicks propping her eyelids open.