Another Pretty Nothing — Prologue

15 Feb

Author’s Note: For your Valentine’s Day Present, I got you a new story! Not really. Anyway, I got this idea for a novella/short story/novel last week and couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s not very plot heavy, so instead of outlining it and researching it and doing all the boring things I usually do I decided to experiment with “pantsing” this. I don’t know where it’s going anymore than you do! Fun! Mostly I want it to be a palette cleanser, basically. It’s here to let me write with no pressure to make sense or be any good. The “theme” is basically that these are two people who got involved in a marriage of convenience and then realized they were completely mismatched and had to learn to live together and love each other afterward.

It goes without saying, don’t publish this anywhere and claim it as your own because it is mine.

Another Pretty Nothing by Charlotte St. Claire

Prudence Weathers was in a bind. No, she was positively drowning in humanity. She scanned the room again, but it didn’t matter. She was still alone. Well, not exactly “alone.” Alone doesn’t happen at a ball. But the fact remained she was not in the immediate proximity of anyone she knew, which was practically the same thing when you thought about it.
She cursed her luck and the circumstances that had led her to this point. She was the only daughter and oldest child of a dead man of modest means. Everything he had left was earmarked for sustaining the household of her younger brother, but enough had been set aside to fund this one lonely season before she would have to go home. She wasn’t sure what would happen if she didn’t manage to attract a husband in that time – she had a family name, but not a good enough one to make up for her poverty and definitely not enough to keep her from becoming a governess if she refused to live with her brother. She guessed one of her cousins might make an offer for her, but Rue would be damned if she was going to leave her fate in their hands.
Unfortunately for her, the London season was always full of heiresses of moderate beauty and wit, and most of them were in a far better financial situation than she was. And so, she found herself in a bind. She lacked even a meddling mama to push her at eligible gentlemen – she was, actually, chaperoned by a grandma whom she strongly suspected favored a match between her and the aforementioned cousin. Well, Rue decided, if the gentlemen were not going to come to her she would just have to go to them.
She had noticed during previous balls a certain young man who gave her a reason to hope. His name was Sir Thomas Montgomery. He had a modest fortune and an inconsequential title, and most importantly to Rue, he was completely awkward and uncomfortable around strange women. Even the meddling mamas didn’t bother throwing their daughters at him anymore. A man with no other prospects. In short, for Rue, he was perfect.
She had, through some stroke of luck, come into possession of glass of champagne from a man who found himself sadly unable to dance with her as he was previously engaged to dance with an heiress who was painfully shy but in possession of 5,000 a year which Rue found erased most flaws. She tried not to let that get her down. What she lacked in finances or beauty she more than made up for in resourcefulness and charm. She was a shrewd creature – she would be fine.
Rue locked her eyes on the object of her interest. Sir Thomas was the roll of the dice on which her future was to be gambled, he just didn’t know it yet. She wouldn’t even call it gambling, really. Rue had been raised around cousins and male relatives with no father and only a younger brother to look out for her interests – she knew men and she had no doubt she could bring this one around to her given time. Sadly, time was one of the few things she was very short on.
He had begun to move towards the refreshment room and she tracked his course like a springer spaniel. If she moved fast, she could be on a collision course with him by the entry. The rules of propriety prevented a young lady from making the acquaintance of a strange gentleman on her own – really, there was only one way for an unattached girl to introduce herself and keep her reputation in tact. It was a risk Rue was willing to take.
She gauged her approach carefully, too fast and he would see her and pause to let her pass him, too slow and she would miss him entirely. As he reached the doors to the next room, Rue moved into place behind him and tripped, splashing champagne onto his sleeve. No war is won without casualties.
“Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry!” she gasped, convincingly, she thought, as he turned to look at her for the first time. He regarded her quietly for a moment and she chanced what she hoped was an embarrassed smile.
“It’s perfectly alright, Miss…” He seemed taken off-guard by the fact she had retrieved a handkerchief from her reticule and had begun blotting his sleeve gently.
“Oh forgive me.” She stopped her work and gave a curtsey. “Miss Prudence Weathers, but please call me Rue.”
“Ah.” He gave a low bow, “Sir Thomas Montgomery.” He seemed, she noticed, far more comfortable now that she wasn’t touching him anymore. Well. That was no good at all.
“Sir Thomas.” She smiled as charmingly as possible, “you have my sincerest apologies for the damage to your coat. Is there any way I can make it up to you?”
He stiffened slightly, obviously uncomfortable, but Rue had come too far to give up now.
“That’s quite alright, Miss Weathers, I wouldn’t want to take up any more of your time. I’ll let you get back to your friends.” He moved to leave and she stopped him with a hand on his arm. It was terribly forward of her but it was a calculated risk.
“Oh I have no idea where they’ve gone off to. Honestly, you’d be doing me a favor more than anything – the only place you can see anyone in this crush is fro the dance floor and I’m sadly unclaimed for the next dance.” She smiled again, but softer this time, willing him to accept her. He stood warily for another second before seeming to resign to her gentle pressure.
“Very well. Miss Prudence Weathers, may I have the honor of this dance?” He said, stooping into a civil bow before taking her hand.
“That’s very kind of you, sir. The pleasure is all mine.” From the look on his face, she was fairly sure that would be entirely true. He looked more like a man on his way to the gallows than one who was actually happy to be dancing with his partner. But he had fallen in with her, which was the important thing. A man who would give in to a dance might be inclined to give in on larger things . God but she hated thinking like that – it made her feel unclean.
He didn’t speak, she didn’t care. She needed him to grow used to her, not fall in love with her. Love could wait. Once the dance was over, propriety dictated he escort her to the side of the room. After another bow and a few pleasantries he left her to locate her chaperone while he adjourned to his lonely corner where he watched everyone else have a good time.
Things progressed in that way each time their paths crossed – usually, not by accident. Rue would push just a little further and each time Sir Thomas would initially balk but quickly gave in to her gentle prodding. Soon, word spread that there was a lady he particularly favored. Having never been the subject of gossip before, Sir Thomas reacted most unexpectedly by fleeing London to visit his mother. Rue experienced a temporary moment of doubt, until he returned ring in hand, and professed his utmost admiration for her many virtues and begging the favor of her hand in marriage. He didn’t profess love – he didn’t even acknowledge like – but he had proposed. Everything Rue had hoped for had finally come to pass.

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One Response to “Another Pretty Nothing — Prologue”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Another Pretty Nothing — Chapter 1 « Charlotte Likes To Write - February 15, 2012

    […] Pretty Nothing — Chapter 1 15 Feb This is a continuation of the story I posted yesterday. A conflict has appeared and oh isn’t it lovely? I really wanted to write this because […]

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