So chapter 2 has been posted on figment! Go to chapter 3 though (I had a short introduction) I also posted it below since I felt like it. So I need to post a collection of all my inspiration but I tend write characters before finding a face for them so a blonde haired model was hard to find for Mr. Wexley because I didn't want some girly-looking model. Bradley James will do for know!
Cordelia waited in earnest for her letter but two days post came and went with no invitation, and she grew more anxious. It was three days time since Charlotte’s visit to Brightwood and Cordelia was restless as she sat down to breakfast with her father.
Mr. Shaw ate very little whenever he ate at all. For breakfast the cook prepared him the same plate of dry toast, a poached egg, and a small helping of salted meats. Cordelia, on the other hand, was content to help herself to a large serving of strawberries from their gardener’s spring harvest, scones with jam and heavy cream, and a pile of sausages. Mr. Shaw sighed as he watched Cordelia indignantly shove the majority of her scone into her mouth.
Her foot bounced nervously and her head perked at every sound outside the dining room. A warm breeze of early summer wafted through the open windows and rustled the pages of Mr. Shaw’s paper. Baxter waited patiently at his feet to receive the remaining scraps from his plate. Cordelia popped out of her seat suddenly at the sound of a shuffle in the hall. Her eye, wide as saucers, watched as the housemaid walked past with a basket of laundry from the yard. She sank back into her seat and finished her breakfast in large mouthfuls.
“Alright,” Mr. Shaw put down his paper “What is it?” he removed a little round pair of spectacles from the bridge of his nose and placed them next to his plate
“What is what?” Cordelia said around a mouth full of sausage.
“The fidgeting, the jumping up and down…” he waved his hand through the air “you are a bundle of nerves this morning. Tell me. What is the matter?”
“Has the post come yet?” Cordelia asked her voice quick and unsteady.
"It is eight o'clock, my dear. The post comes at nine just about everyday." Mr. Shaw replied.
"But sometimes it is early!" Cordelia started before she was interrupted by the unfamiliar clunk of boots in the hall. Cordelia jumped from her seat, toppling her chair. Through the doorway strode a tall young man with handsome features. His hair was a shade of light brown with a twinge of auburn and he had his mother's freckles unlike Cordelia. He looked like a fair dandy with his tight waistcoat, starched white shirt, an elegantly tied cravat, and his hair fixed in the latest fashion. "George!" Cordelia squealed in delight. George opened his arms wide to embrace his sister which she obliged.
"Sister!" he exclaimed as he wrapped her in his arms. He released Cordelia then clapped his father on the shoulder.
"What brings you home without any notice?" Mr. Shaw smiled up at his son.
"What? A son cannot come home to simply enjoy the company of his family!" George jested with his father in his usual jovial manner. Cordelia smiled as her father looked up at his son in disbelief.
"I thought you would not be home until your apprenticeship was finished and I was under the impression you had two more months left" Mr. Shaw puzzled.
"I finished early" George said as he took a seat across from Cordelia "they said I was best surgical apprentice they had ever seen! A prodigy in fact! The Mozart of anatomy!" George grabbed a scone from Cordelia's plate.
"I see you learned some modesty in London, and manners!" Cordelia teased. George polished off the scone with his second bite. As George reached for the rest of Cordelia's breakfast, the sound of another pair of boots could be heard in the hall. Cordelia and her father paused as another gentleman entered the room. He sported tidy blue navy regimentals that were pressed and starched to perfection while his blonde which he had attempted to slick back, fell in loose pieces across his forehead for his blue eyes to peek through. He smirked as Cordelia scowled at him from her seat across the room.
"Mister Wexley" Mr. Shaw smiled in surprise.
"Mister Shaw" He gave a respectful bow "I beg you will forgive the intrusion. George invited me to stay with you during my leave. I shall not impose on your hospitality for more than a fortnight"
"Of course you shall stay with us! Impose... gracious. Have a seat and I shall call for more food to be brought for us." Mr. Shaw looked very pleased as his nephew took a seat.
Guy Wexley was the only son of Lord Wexley, a widower of considerable fortune who remarried at an advanced age to a Miss Emily Shaw, the sister of Mr. Henry Shaw. Guy Wexley was cousin to George and Cordelia by name but not by blood. He had spent nearly every summer since the union of their families at Brightwood which meant three months of insufferable torture for Cordelia. While he shared George’s jovial spirit and general lightheartedness, he altogether lacked George’s kindness and gentleness. When they were young, Guy always had to win the little games they played; he was proud, impossibly stubborn, and showed complete disregard for the rules of polite society.
"Aren't you going to welcome me, Cordelia" Guy smirked as he ran a hand through his hair to push the loose strands back into place.
"I'd sooner welcome a viper into my home" Cordelia retorted with a furrowed brow and crossed arms.
"Delia!" Her father scolded. George stifled a laugh in amusement.
"Come now, cousin! You loved it when I came to visit!" Guy leaned his elbows on the table across from Cordelia and clasped his hands under his chin.
Cordelia's blood boiled as she recalled the endless torment he had inflicted on her in their youth. "You cut my hair! You cut my hair and pushed me in the lake and put a frog in my bath water!" She exclaimed with an angry quiver in her voice.
"It looked better after I cut it." Guy protested.
"ERGH!" Cordelia roared as she stood from her seat and stomped out of the room.
"It was all just childhood fun!" he called after her with a smile in his voice.
"NOT FOR ME!" She yelled from the hall.
"She'll get over it." George consoled as he worked away at the food Cordelia left on her plate "She's just a little…"
"Dramatic" Mr. Shaw sighed.
"She always was!" Guy smiled as the three of them chuckled a little before returning to topics such as the Navy, hunting, and other things gentlemen occupy their time with.
Meanwhile, Cordelia sat up in her dark room with her curtains drawn and a resolved scowl on her face. Two weeks with Guy Wexley was just about the worst thing George could have brought home with him. After about an hour of pouting about the return of her childhood nemesis, she heard her father's gentle knock on the door.
"I am not coming out until Guy leaves!" She bemoaned. The door creaked as Mr. Shaw entered the room.
"Delia" he sighed as he sat on the foot of her bed. Cordelia hugged her knees to her chest. "Please, Delia. You might try to get along with your cousin while he is here. You haven't seen him in five years, you might find him much improved since his last visit."
"Why do you care if I get along with Guy?" Cordelia scowled balancing her chin on her knees.
"Well his father is a good friend of mind" He replied "You missed the post this morning" he seemingly changed the subject.
Cordelia's heart jumped but she tried to conceal her anxiety "anything for me?" she asked slowly.
"No" he paused "But something of interest to you came addressed to me. It seems that we have been invited to a ball in honor of the Prince Regent which I assume is what you were waiting so earnestly for this morning" Mr. Shaw pulled a thick letter from his jacket pocket.
Unable to contain her delight anymore she lunged for the letter and grabbed it from Mr. Shaw's outstretched hand. Here eyes quickly skimmed the letter's contents.
"Mister Henry Shaw and Family,
The honor of your company is requested for a masquerade ball in honor of the gracious arrival of his royal highness The Prince Regent at the Royal Pavilion.
Dinner will be served at seven in the evening followed by dancing.
A mask and letter of invitation is required for entrance to the pavilion"
Cordelia squealed with delight "I can go?" she exclaimed.
"Yes, of course we will all go" Mr. Shaw said "George and Guy will look out for you. Your governess thinks that it is about time you spent some nights in the company of civilized people. According her it is time for you to look for a suitable match for yourself."
Cordelia baulked "What does Mrs. Gainsford know of marriage? And I don't want George and Guy following me all night long!"
"Cordelia, you forget I had a youth once, it is all for your own good. Plus, Mrs. Gainsford just does not want to see her pupil end up an old spinster, perhaps Mr. Wexley might show himself to be pleasant company at the ball."
Then it clicked "No!" Cordelia protested "I am not marrying Mr. Wexley! He is a miserable human being!"
"I did not say you had to marry him but I had hoped you might consider it since he is very well off and his father seemed pleased at the union even though it is greatly skewed in your favor."
"No!" Cordelia pouted "Do not talk to me of suitable marriages! I will marry for love if I marry at all!"
"Delia" her father sighed "I admire your conviction but as your father it is my duty to see that you are secure in your future. I can only provide so much for you in your inheritance. Just… try your best to get along with Mr. Wexley while he is here."
"I can't promise anything, Mr. Wexley is not the most cordial person either." Cordelia folded her arms across her chest.
"Just try, my dear" He sighed before leaving Cordelia to fume over his suggestion of Mr. Wexley as a suitable match. Cordelia did not fume for long since thoughts of the quickly approaching ball occupied her mind. She quickly composed a letter for Charlotte to tell her of the news then resolved to practice her waltz steps in front of her mirror.
This was the great adventure she had long been waiting for.