This story has been beta'd by The Duchess of Fanfiction Sunflower Fran.
So, this is a new character Agnes Little who is the neice of Eleazar & Carmen if you remember them from BD. Eleazar was Edward's old friend who often stares at Bella and makes comments on her beauty. Carmen and Bella had words once in the hallway before dinner once. If you all remember!
This is Agnes & Teddy!
6 Years after The Duke's Daughter
The Devonshire countryside passes by as the coach bounces from side to side. I have now been in England six months, and my longing for my parents and New York has not diminished. However, this is my home now; I must grow accustomed to it.
It is a sad state of affairs indeed. I now reside with my aunt Carmen and her husband, The Duke of Richmond. My mother met my father when he was on holiday in England, fell madly in love with him in the span of two days and left all she knew for love.
How could she have known when she'd just met him? I often asked her as she brushed my hair and she would say that it was love at first sight. I've never met such a man who would render me in such a way.
Growing up with two devoted parents made me a happy child and seeing their affection for one another only filled my head with dreams of a love like theirs.
But it seems as if it is not meant to be for me.
At twenty years, I now am a penniless woman with no one in the world but an aunt I had never met and her husband … who leers at me, making me uncomfortable. The maids have informed me to lock my door at night since it seems they too, have noticed my uncle looking upon me.
He seems to be very popular with his dalliances among the help. It seems both he and Carmen have taken lovers over the years. I learned this after only two weeks in England from the very talkative household staff at Richmond House.
Sighing, I think of my parents and how they loved each other. I can see why my mother left England. I have yet to meet a love match among any of my aunt's acquaintances.
My father, Thomas Little, was a kind gentleman who loved medicine and his family. Father worked tirelessly, providing medical care to the poor and less fortunate. It was in such an environment that he became ill with influenza, bringing it home to my mother, Lily.
They died within days of each other and soon the creditors were demanding payment. The bank was evicting me from the only home I've ever known, and I had nowhere to turn to but to my mother's sister in England.
Blinking away the tears, I look down at the book in my hand trying to ignore the conversation around me.
My aunt is desperately trying to find me an English husband, but I have no dowry and no interest in any gentleman she introduces me to. Every one seems old enough to be my father and is only in want of a wife. The London season was awful, and I felt as if I was being paraded around like a feathered peacock.
"I have written to Baron Wiloughby, he is in want of a wife and will come with his daughter to The Winter Ball. He shares my dislike for Isabella and Edward as he was thwarted by them years ago".
And with that, we are off to the Winter Ball of one of their oldest friends, The Duke and Duchess of Devonshire.
"Now, Agnes, do not be fooled by Bella, The Duchess of Devonshire. She wants the world to believe that she is the kindest woman in the world but I know she is not," Aunt Carmen says for what seems to be the hundredth time.
"Nonsense, Carmen! The Duchess is as kind as she is beautiful," Eleazar says, with a dreamy look upon his face.
"You are blinded by your ridiculous obsession with her. Edward has threatened you on several occasions, and yet, I still find you staring longingly at her as if she would ever have an affair with you! It's clear her husband knows how to treat her," Aunt Carmen spits at him.
Honestly, I have no idea how they are still together as they fight every single day and sleep separately.
"Of course he treats her well; she has born him eight children, five of them male." Eleazar's voice is hard as he glares at my aunt.
The talk of children silences all conversation as she was never able to bare him any.
Dropping my eyes to my book, I dare not look up at either one of them. The carriage stops, and we debark in front of a considerable estate.
My eyes are wide as we rush inside from the cold.
"Carmen, Eleazar, Welcome!" A small gorgeous woman walks up to greet us.
She's is radiant with her dark hair and brown doe eyes. She's shorter than me, but then, I am taller than most women. The gentleman beside her stares at her and my heart stops, as it was the same look my father possessed whenever he looked upon my mother.
Another gentleman stands beside him. A younger version but with brown eyes and a bored look upon his handsome face.
"Edward, Bella! Thank you for having us," Eleazar says, his eyes wandering to the beautiful woman.
My aunt bristles beside me before she gives a tight smile. "We are so happy to be invited to another Winter Ball. May I present my niece from America, Agnes Little."
"Miss Agnes, welcome to Chatsworth. Allow me to introduce my wife, Isabella, The Duchess of Devonshire, and my son, Charles, the soon to be, ninth, Duke of Devonshire." He presents his family, and I am momentarily rendered speechless by this dashing English gentleman.
He must have wooed his wife off her feet with his good looks and manners.
"We are very happy that you all have joined us. Agnes, please make yourself at home," Charles says, giving me a nod.
"Thank you all for inviting me into your home." I give them my best smile.
"Oh dear, there is no thanks necessary. You are very much welcomed." Her Grace gives me a kind motherly look, which causes my eyes to prickle with tears.
"Grandmother! Grandmother! Help me!" a little voice yells out.
A little girl with wild red hair runs to us tackling the Duchess by the legs as two little boys run after her carrying frogs. Behind them, another boy, the spitting image of Her Grace, runs to catch up.
When their eyes land on the commanding figure of The Duke, they all stop.
"You three, over here, now!" The Duke yells, waiting on the boys.
Beside him, his wife picks up the little girl, running her hands through her hair.
"What in heavens is going on, Abbey?" she asks before kissing the child's plump cheeks.
"They're scaring me with frogs, and Ward let them!" she cries, hugging her grandmother.
"There, there, my darling," she says, kissing the girls head.
"Edward, as Abbey's Uncle it is your responsibility to make sure that she is taken care of," his Grace says, bending to the little boy.
"Yes, Father. I tried to stop them, but they were too fast for me," the little boy, Edward, says, looking ashamed.
"I will speak to you all later, now off you go." His Grace dismisses the children.
Her Grace sets down the little girl. "Margaret, please take Abbey to the kitchens and have cook give her a treat."
"Yes, Your Grace,"
"I love you, Grandmother!" The little girl squeals, kissing her grandmother before she follows the maid.
Her Grace looks to us, her eyes wide. "Do excuse us, our home is chaos. It's filled with children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews." She turns to the older woman standing next to the servants. "Angela, please show The Duke, Duchess, and Agnes to their rooms.
"I do not know how you do it. How many children are in the family now?" my aunt asks shaking her head.
Another group of children runs through the hall, and I giggle noticing how full and happy this old house is. From the outside, one would never know such joy and love lives here.
"Oh! I have no idea. If we only count our own children and grandchildren, there are eleven and Beth is expecting her third child. But if you add in the entire family, I will not be able to do the numbers justice, Carmen." She shakes her head as a wide smile form on her face as if every child belongs to her.
"It is a large family indeed. I am very proud of it." His Grace's voice is full of joy and pride.
"If you would follow me," Angela says, leading my Aunt and Eleazar away.
The butler opens the front door and before I turn to follow, Charles let's out a loud shout.
"Teddy! You're late, man!" He rushes past us, grabbing the visitor who is the same size as him.
I notice they have the same hair, but there is something else about the newcomer. My heart quickens as I continue to stare. When they part, crisp green eyes find mine.
Oh, sweet heavens.
While he favors the Duke and Charles greatly, there is something about him that seems to awaken me.
"Hello," he says, his eyes on me.
I can feel my face fill with heat, and I know my cheeks are turning a terrible shade of red.
"Hello," I whisper.
It is strange. I have only just now laid eyes on him, but I feel as if I've known him all of my life. It's as if from this one meeting all is made right in the world because of him.
"Oh, Oh. Agnes, allow me to introduce our second eldest son, Theodore, The Earl of Forkshire," The Duchess says looking momentarily from myself to Theodore.
"Agnes, come along," my aunt calls, and I turn to find her glaring at me.
"Yes, coming, Aunt Carmen." I can feel his eyes on me as I walk away.
"Oh dear! Angela, I just recalled that the room Agnes was to occupy is not ready. I think the Sabine bedroom would do perfectly," Her Grace says, staring at Angela.
A look passes between them that I do not understand.
"Of course, Your Grace."
I follow, hoping that I will again get to see Teddy. My life seemed over when I boarded the ship to England. My only hope was that whoever my aunt and her husband married me off to was not cruel. But now, after staring into a pair of green eyes, I hope for more.
The carriage stops in front of my childhood home, and I sigh out in relief, ready to see my family. Forkshire is too far away, and the only thing I want is to be closer to everyone.
It is not easy being an Earl. There are a number of menial tasks that require my attention. Part of me envies my brother for being allowed his youth. I was not afforded that opportunity when grandfather's health rendered him unfit to continue as The Earl of Forkshire.
With no male heirs of his own, grandfather immediately made me his heir when I was born as my brother was the heir to the Dukedom.
While I appreciate being a titled gentleman, I sometimes wish I could follow my own dreams and fall in love with whom I choose.
Being sought after by ladies and their over-exuberant mothers is tiring. I've learned to ignore their advances by any means necessary.
I am thankful for my own mother who doesn't seem to push either my brother or myself into marriage. I do love her for that.
Stepping to the door, it is opened for me, and I smile at Mr. Cheney. Before I am able to examine the busy entrance, I am attacked by my brother whom I've missed terribly.
"Teddy, man," Charles says, wrapping me up in a hug.
Pulling away, I am captured by a deep pair of blue eyes. They are wide and inquisitive, and a breathtakingly beautiful lady is staring at me. I'm unable to breathe, my entire being aware of this creature.
Who is she?
Where has she been my entire life?
"Hello," I say, feeling as if I want to pull her into me and never release her.
"Hello." Her voice is sweet, and I hope it is a voice I will hear every day.
"Oh! Miss Agnes Little, allow me to introduce our second eldest son, Theodore, The Earl of Forkshire."
"Agnes, come along," The Duchess, Carmen, says.
"Coming, Aunt Carmen," she says, giving me a breathtaking smile before she walks away.
I watch her start to walk away vaguely aware of my mother saying something to Mrs. Cheney.
Although I've known The Duke and Duchess of Richmond my entire life, Mother has never allowed them to stay in the family wing. I'm both shocked and grateful that she would give such an honor to Agnes.
Once they have disappeared, Father chuckles, pulling Mother to him. "Well, that was very interesting."
For once this move doesn't bother me because I now understand what it's like to want someone so much that you feel as if you are suffocating without them.
I've only just met Agnes, but I want to know all there is to know about her.
"Close your mouth, dear," my mother says to me before she and father take their leave.
"My God, man, she's magnificent," I say to my brother.
"She is very beautiful. Have you met the next mistress of Forkshire, Lady Masen?"
"Is it insane that I believe I have? Father has always said that once you meet the woman you are meant to love you will know. He did admit to fighting it for one day." I chuckle as we walk through our home.
Children run around, servants clean, preparing the house for the Winter Ball. It is an annual event at Chatsworth, which our entire family enjoys immensely.
"Teddy! You've arrived," my sister says, rushing up to me.
Stratford follows behind, dutifully carrying their son, two-year-old Masen. Beth wanted to honor our father, but with the growing number of Edwards already in the family, she decided on the family's surname.
The newest Edward, my five-year-old brother, was born in Mother's fortieth year. At last, it seems as if my parents are done adding to our very large family.
I hug her as best I can with her large abdomen. "How are you feeling? Is this rake taking care of you?" I ask, smirking at Stratford.
He worships the very ground she walks upon, if he did not, he would answer to my father and then my brothers and me. Stratford has always been a close friend of ours so I knew he would love her unconditionally, and I am happy that my sister has found a love match.
Beth seems to take after my mother and is now carrying her third child in the span of five years. I'm sure they will have an estate full of children, making my mother and father very happy in the process. As they love all of us, they seem to have a special place in their heart for their grandchildren.
Watching my sister and her family has me longing for my own, and there is only one woman that I see as the mother.
Miss Agnes Little.
I stand in the mirror trying to prepare myself to see Agnes again. Dinner is in minutes, and I cannot wait to see her lovely face.
Opening the door, I see both my parents and I raise my eyebrow wondering what they require of me.
"Teddy, could you be a dear and escort Agnes to dinner? Her Uncle is on the other side of the house, so it is up to you to be a gentleman," Mother says smiling.
Inside I am thrilled that I will get to feel her next to me. "Is it not proper for Charlie to escort her? He is the eldest and soon to be The Duke of Devonshire."
"He is, but your mother feels you are more suited for the task and your brother will greet the guests with us. Thank you, Theodore, for doing this for your mother. I know it's an inconvenience," my father says with a glint in his eyes.
"Yes. Having to escort a beautiful woman to dinner, how dreadful!" Mother says, laughing at my expense as she is whisked away by Father.
I believe they noticed the effect Miss Agnes had on me. For once I am happy to have such overbearing parents.
Exiting my childhood room, I take a deep breath before going two doors down to the Sabine bedroom. My heart is in my chest as I give two brisk knocks.
The door opens, and I am met with perfection. She is breathtaking in a blue gown, which hugs her prominent bosom. Her brownish blonde hair is swept up in an intricate hairstyle with only a few tendrils framing her beautiful face.
Plump lips form a smile, and I want nothing more than to press my own against hers for ever more.
"My Lord?" she says, dipping a curtsey.
I clear my throat. "My mother wishes me to escort you to dinner. Are you agreeable?" I ask, knowing Father would think me a brute if I did not present the option.
"Yes, my Lord. I am agreeable. Thank you for asking. I have found that most men do not require a lady's permission," she says, taking my offered arm.
A euphoric feeling courses through me. My eyes find hers, and she looks down shyly. I know she feels it too.
Clearing my throat, I escort her to the stairs. "Please call me Teddy."
"Then you must call me Agnes," she whispers sweetly, and my heart skips a beat.
We are silent as we reach the bottom of the stairs.
"You will find that my family is a rare breed. Father has always impressed upon us the importance respecting a lady."
"How wonderful. They seem very much in love," she says a dreamy look upon her lovely face.
"They are. I confess I have rarely seen them quarrel. Although she gets very upset when he hovers over her when she is not feeling well. After my brother William's birth, Mother was bedridden, and Father carried her everywhere."
"Oh, that is so romantic! I could not imagine such devotion, My Lord." She sighs longingly.
I stop walking, looking at her. "I am sure that your husband would do the same for you, Miss Agnes. If he did not he would be a fool," I say, my voice full of emotion.
At this moment I am sure there will be no husband but me. I am determined to make her mine and mine alone.
We enter the State Sitting Room where everyone is gathered before dinner. The Winter Ball is tomorrow night.
"Teddy! Who do you have there?" Grandmother Esme yells from her seat beside Grandmother Renee.
"Oh goodness, she is a beauty! Come over, dear, let us look at you," Grandmother Renee says, waving Agnes over.
"Ah, Teddy, you're here. Come tell me what news from Forkshire," Grandfather says.
He often wants to know what is going on at his family estate. It becomes rather tiresome, but I do it dutifully.
"Miss Agnes Little, allow me to introduce my grandparents." I make introductions, as all eyes in the room seem to be on us.
"It is so lovely to meet you all," Agnes says, smiling at each of them.
"Oh goodness, Ren, she's American!" Grandmother Es yells.
"American! I've never met an American. How fascinating!" Grandmother Renee agrees.
"Teddy! Where did you find this gorgeous creature? Surely a father wouldn't leave such a beautiful daughter with a rake like you," Uncle Emmett says, slapping my back.
"My Teddy is no rake. Darling, we've missed you!" Aunt Rose leans in and kisses my cheek.
"I have missed you both as well. This is Miss Agnes, she is the niece of The Duke and Duchess of Richmond.
"Oh, how dreadful!" Grandmother Renee says.
"Are they treating you well? I never trusted Eleazar," Uncle Emmett says.
More guests enter, among them Mother, Father, and Charlie.
"They are very kind to me, My Lord."
"Agnes, there you are, I wanted to introduce you to Baron Wiloughby," Carmen says, smiling over at The Baron.
I sigh out in frustration seeing he has arrived with Florentia and her husband, The Duke of Argyll.
After his failed attempt to court my sister, it seems The Duke and Florentia were often thrown together, and an attachment was formed. Once word reached Baron Wiloughby, he quickly claimed Florentia as his daughter basking in her new title as Duchess.
It is very sad that Florentia accepted him, as he did not care for her at all when she was growing up with her grandparents in Forkshire.
"Baron, this is my niece. She is beautiful is she not," The Duchess Carmen says.
Dear God, does she mean to join a match between Agnes and The Baron? Over my dead body.
"Yes, indeed she is! My dear, your aunt has informed me of your troubles in America. To lose both parents how dreadful," he says.
Agnes looks around uncomfortably as everyone stares upon her. I am seething, wanting nothing more than to strangle him for making her feel this way.
"Agnes, please come meet my daughter and goddaughter. You will find they are both your age," Mother says, taking Agnes by the hand and leading her away.
I suppress a chuckle at the look on both Carmen and The Baron's faces. Mother always has a way of saving people and I am glad of it.
Walking over to where my father stands with my brothers and Uncle Jasper, I take a deep breath to calm myself. It seems that The Duchess, Carmen, wishes to marry Agnes off to any available gentleman, no matter the age.
"Teddy!" my younger brother Richard says, leaning in to greet me.
He has been away at University, and I have not been able to see him.
"You look well, are you learning all there is to know of the world?" I ask, aware of his love of knowledge.
"He is indeed!" Father says proudly. "How was Miss Agnes?" he asks knowingly.
"She is a very pretty girl. I am not the only one to notice, so best make haste, old boy," Uncle Jasper teases.
"Yes, Father may I speak to you?" I ask desperately, not knowing how to stop the vultures from descending.
If an elder gentleman such ass Baron Wiloughby thinks he has an opportunity, then anyone could try to court and marry her.
Once out in the hall, I turn nervously to Father, pulling on my hair. "What must I do? I find myself at a loss but I long to know her."
"Do you think she is agreeable?" Father asks, a smirk on his lips.
"I am not certain. What should I do? Am I mad to feel as if I need her with me forever?" I ask, pulling on my hair again.
He lets out a laugh, and I turn to glare at him. I love him, but more often than not, he and Mother tease us greatly.
"You are not mad. I was once so enraptured that I declared my feelings on the streets of London against Baron Cromwell. I couldn't bare the thought of that blackard being in your mother's presence." His hands are in fists by his side, and I remember hearing stories of Baron Cromwell.
"So, declare myself to her?" I ask.
"Spend time with her this evening and ask Eleazar permission to court her." He smiles knowingly at me.
"Yes, but they may leave after the ball. I do not recall them ever staying long." I say saddened by the thought.
"Leave that to your mother and I. Secure the lady." He bounces on his toes excitedly. "My boy is growing up! I knew when you first saw her it was love at first sight. Cherish her always," he whispers.
"I will, Father."
"Edward, what is going on?" My mother comes out looking for us.
"Nothing, my Duchess. Your son is enraptured and wishes to stake a claim." Father kisses her temple.
I suppress an eye-roll at their signs of affection.
"How wonderful! She is lovely Teddy. Now you must stay by her side and leave Carmen and The Baron to me. The nerve of her trying to pawn that precious girl off on that foul man!" Mother growls, and I've never seen her so angry.
Once we return to the sitting room, I make my way to Agnes who is in conversation with my sisters, Isabella, Sarah and also Aunt Alice. I dutifully escort her to dinner being aware of my brother's teasing each time I meet his eye.
The Duchess, Carmen seems upset by my attention to Agnes, but the lady herself is very happy to have me by her side and often places her hand in mine, her smiles only for me.
After an eventful dinner filled with Grandmother Esme expressing her dislike for Baron Wiloughby, I pull The Duke of Richmond aside.
"Your Grace, I was wondering if I could speak with you regarding Agnes." I stand to my full height staring him in the eye.
"Ahh yes. I did notice you two seem to have a fondness for each other. Unfortunately, we are leaving the day after the Ball. So you see, I'm afraid any courting wouldn't be possible," he says with a sneer on his face.
"Eleazar, I believe my wife is offering Agnes an invitation to stay at Chatsworth as long as she wishes. So, I think a courting would be greatly possible and even a wedding," Father says, interrupting the conversation.
"You understand she does not have a cent to her name and I will not provide a dowry," he says coldly.
I'm momentarily stunned by his behavior, but I nod. "I have enough funds for both of us. Thank you," I say, becoming upset myself.
How dare he think I care about money over Agnes.
Father, sensing my mood, excuses us. I find myself drinking next to my brother who is the only person able to cheer me.
"Well, I guess I will be alone in my bachelorhood. I dare say that was fast! Do me a favor and don't kiss in public like Mother and Father," he says, taking a drink.
"If we're like Mother and Father you have my permission to slap me. Besides, the lady has not agreed," I say, taking a final drink as I hear the ladies in the hall.
"She will, you're a Masen after all," Charlie says, slapping my back.
"True, and no lady can resist the Masen charm," Father adds from beside young Edward, Emmett, Jasper, and Stratford.
Everyone laughs heartily as we exit to escort the ladies for the evening.
I stand nervously in front of Agnes' door with her facing me. She has been very talkative, commenting on the women in my family and how wonderful they are.
"Everyone is so kind, Teddy. And your mother! She has invited me to stay here at Chatsworth. I must admit that I would like nothing more. Do you think it impertinent?" she asks shyly.
"No. Not at all. If my mother has invited you, then you must accept. Would you like if I stayed as well?" I ask hopefully.
"I would like that very much," she whispers.
Taking her hand in mine, I stare into her eyes. "Agnes, I spoke to your Uncle this evening asking his permission to court you."
"Oh, Teddy! Do you mean it? But we've only just met, and I have nothing to offer." Tears form in her eyes.
I wipe her tears with one hand while squeezing her hand with the other.
"From the moment I saw you, I knew you were meant to be with me always. Tell me you feel it too?" I beg, wanting nothing more than to pull her in for a kiss.
"I do. I want to be with you."
"Then we shall be together, always." I lean in and press my lips to hers for a sweet kiss.
"Er, don't mind me … just going to my room," Charlie says, clearing his throat loudly.
We separate, Agnes looking down shyly.
"Goodnight Teddy." She looks up at me a twinkle in her eyes.
"Tomorrow, darling. Sleep well," I say, stealing one last kiss.
She closes the door, and I walk towards my room, a Cheshire, cat-like grin on my face.
"So, should I slap you now or later?" Charlie asks, peaking out of his room.
Entering the room my Aunt is staying in at Chatsworth, I find both she and her husband waiting for me.
Giving them a small smile, I'm anxious to know why I was summoned as I have been invited to dress with the Duchess and the other ladies for the ball.
"I don't like you spending all of your time with that Teddy. Baron Wiloughby is willing to accept you as his wife, you couldn't hope for a better match." She looks at me bored.
"Aunt Carmen, I am grateful for all you both have done for me, but I do not wish to marry a man who is old enough to be my father." I take a deep breath.
"I'm sure this Teddy is filling your head with dreams. Whatever he has promised know that it is false. He will use you abominably and ruin you. Is that what you want, Agnes?" she asks, taking me by the hands.
Tears form in my eyes, and I struggle to breathe. I've spent the afternoon with Teddy, walking the gardens and playing with the children.
Each time we were alone, he placed a chaste kiss upon my lips, and he looked upon me as if I was the only woman for him.
She can't be right. I feel it in my very bones.
I am meant for Teddy, and he is meant for me. Nothing made sense until I looked into his green eyes.
"I have agreed to a courtship with The Earl of Forkshire. He spoke to your husband after dinner, and I was under the impression you both were agreeable."
Aunt Carmen turns towards Eleazar. "You did what? How dare you not inform me of such a thing!"
"I tried to convince the boy against it, but Edward intervened. Let her marry him, it is a very advantageous match for a penniless American," The Duke, Eleazar, says becoming bored.
"I would never let any of my relations be related to that woman!" Aunt Carmen yells at him.
"That woman has been very kind to me! So kind in fact that I have agreed to stay at Chatsworth after the Winter Ball-"
"I forbid it! If you stay here and they turn you out you will have no place to go!" She points at me.
"I believe in what Teddy and I have, even if it has only been a day. I also believe Her Grace to be too kind to ever send me away with no connections." I take a deep breath. "I wish that you would not be so cruel. I am only following my heart."
"You fool of a girl, just like your mother! Love will ruin you just as it ruined her, mark my words," she says coldly.
"It didn't ruin her. She loved my father and he, her, to their dying day." I leave their presence no longer wanting to be in the same room with either of them.
The tears fall as I feel I have lost the only relative I have left in the world. She was often blunt trying to marry me off to any gentleman, but her likeness to my own mother softened my heart towards her. One would think she would be happy with Teddy, after all, he is a titled gentleman from a prominent family. But her dislike for the Duchess seems to rule her.
Rushing through the halls, I hastily try to make my way to my room before anyone can see my tears. Teddy and his brother Charlie are there, and I try to rush past them.
Teddy's face lights up when he sees me, and this causes my tears to fall even more. Charlie looks horrified as Teddy rushes over.
"Darling, what is the matter?" Teddy asks, causing me to cry harder.
"Perhaps you should take her somewhere private. Should I get Mother?" Charlie asks.
"No, I am fine. I just need a moment," I say, taking Teddy's handkerchief.
"Let's go in here." Teddy leads me into a room.
I look around seeing the walls are covered in pieces of small Chinese art. Teddy leads me over to a lounge, and I sit with his hand in mine.
"What happened?" he asks patiently.
"My aunt doesn't think I should trust you. She said I am not welcomed back to her home when you are done filling my head with dreams." I look into his eyes searching, for what, I do not know.
Teddy takes my hands in his. "Not dreams. This is our reality. Only love and happiness will follow us. You can trust me, Agnes, as I trust you with my heart and soul."
"Oh, Teddy!" I fling myself at him, pressing our lips together.
Knowing that we belong together.
The Winter Ball was simply wonderful, and the entire Masen family accepted me as one of their own. Dressing with all the ladies was a pure delight as the grandmothers constantly say inappropriate things while sipping on sherry the entire time.
Her Grace eventually forbade any more libation to either of them, and it was comical to see her threaten them, as neither believed her.
Teddy and I danced every dance together, and a few ladies were very vexed with me. It seems that both of the elder sons are very sought after among society.
The Baron Wiloughby seemed very upset with me spending all my time with Teddy; I couldn't believe the nerve of my aunt.
Once the ball was over, the entire family sat around laughing and drinking into the night. I never thought I would ever belong to such a large family.
Today, six months after I arrived at Chatsworth, I married Theodore Carlisle Masen, the love of my life. It has been a world wind romance, one that I never imagined would happen to me when I boarded the ship to England.
We've spent as much time as we can together under the watchful eye of his mother and grandmothers both at Chatsworth and here in town for the season.
The grandmothers seem to have a way of knowing when Teddy and I have been away alone kissing. They like to tease us and compare us to Bella and Edward, who have both insisted I now call them Mother and Father if I so wish.
I miss my own parents every day, but Teddy dotes on me and confesses his love daily, so the pain seems more like a dull ache. I shall always miss them and even long for New York, but Teddy has promised we will take a trip there one day.
Aunt Carmen and Eleazar are in attendance not wanting to look bad in front of Her Grace and the Ton. It seems being engaged to Theodore Masen is the talk of society and the gossip mill. A penniless American marrying the son of a Duke, an Earl himself is unheard of. Aunt Carmen and her husband have no choice but to attend as our wedding is the event of the season.
After her cruelty, I will be happy to never to see her again. The Masens are the family I've always wanted. Teddy's siblings are like my own, and his sister Beth has become my closest confidant. Mother Bella has accepted me as her own daughter and dotes on me as if she bore me herself. I have never known such kindness from anyone but my own mother. I love the Masen family, and I know my parents are happy I have found such love.
Teddy kisses my hand taking me out of my thoughts. We are at our wedding breakfast at Mother and Father's London Townhome surrounded by family and friends.
"Are you well, my love?" Teddy asks as he stares into my eyes.
I can see the desire in them, and I cannot wait for tonight. We have spent months kissing and occasionally touching, and I have been driven mad with desire.
Last evening the ladies sat me down and had 'the talk' with me. I, for one, am shocked that Mother Bella knows so much about marital relations. Aunt Rosalie was not a surprise as she was a professional. Aunt Alice confided in me the joys of both sleeping in ones own room or sharing one with your husband. She confessed that she still keeps a separate room. The grandmothers, of course, had plenty to say and regaled us on Mother Bella and Father Edward's courtship. Apparently, there was even breast kissing.
Mother Bella blushed and giggled even when Beth was simply appalled. Apparently, her father wouldn't leave her and Stratford alone for even a moment during their courtship.
It was all very shocking, and I drank so much sherry that I awoke with a slight headache. Beth informed me it was the same tradition the night before her wedding and every lady in the family.
I find it refreshing that I am so well informed and I know I will not have a cold marriage. If my marriage is as passionate as Teddy's parents, then I will be a very lucky lady.
"Attention!" Father Edward says standing. "I would like you to raise your glasses to my son, Theodore, and his wife, Agnes. You both have found what I found twenty-seven years ago, true love. It is all-consuming and steals your very heart and soul and gives it over to another. You live and die for the one person who was made for you. Never let anything come between you, cherish one another, always and forever. To Theodore and Agnes!" Father Edward looks down at Mother Bella, the love between them so full.
"To Theodore and Agnes!" The room repeats
"I love you," I whisper with tears in my eyes as I stare at my husband.
"I love you, too, darling. Always." He leans in; kissing me for what seems the hundredth time today.
"Shall I hit you now or later?" Charlie yells out, and the room laughs at what seems to have become a joke between the brothers.
"Later! I shall kiss my wife all the days of my life!" Teddy yells at his brother before turning to kiss me again.
Kissing my wife, I ignore the laughs and teases of my family members and our guests. Falling in love with Agnes was as easy as breathing for me, and I now know why my father dotes on my mother so, since I cannot refrain from kissing or touching her. It is love, pure unadulterated love.
The wedding breakfast is a happy affair despite Duchess Carmen glaring at my mother and occasionally my wife. Her husband seems to do the same but he looks upon both of them lustfully, and I have to refrain myself from challenging him to a duel.
Father did promise to show him his sword, and that seemed to have stopped his gazing upon our wives.
We are escorted to our waiting carriage to begin our life together. We will spend our time at our Townhome and then leave London for Forkshire.
"Oh! Agnes, I'm so happy you are a part of our family!" Mother says, hugging my wife.
"Mother Bella, I love you as if you were my own. Thank you for making me feel so comfortable and loved." Agnes cries in my mother's arms.
While Mother and my wife embrace, Father wraps his arms around my shoulder. "I expect a grandchild by this time next year," he says, winking at me. "It doesn't have to be an heir. I will love any child of yours."
I cough, not believing Father. "You're turning into the grandmothers," I tease him.
"I told him that just the other day," Charlie says, coming to join us.
"You two will understand one day. There is no greater joy than seeing your children happy. I understand the grandmothers more than I would like." Father smiles over to them as they speak with Mother and Agnes.
"I guess this is it. I'll come to Forkshire once I leave London," Charlies says, sadly.
"Good man! If you find the next Duchess of Devonshire, write to me immediately!" I tell my brother, hugging him.
He has always been my closest friend and companion.
"I do not believe that will happen at all. I shall leave the business of marrying to my siblings. It seems as if Viscount Falmouth is rather fond of Charlotte." Charlie nods his head towards our younger sister.
"What in the devil's name is he doing speaking to her when he is intended to marry Caroline Bolton." Father becomes angry before he rushes over and stands next to my sister.
"I hope Father does not murder Falmouth, the man looks petrified!" I laugh, looking at the now green Viscount.
"Good. How dare he ignore his intended and try to sweet talk our sister. She's not even out in society." Charlie says, looking over at Caroline Bolton who stands with her parents.
Father is adamant that none of his daughters will come out in society until their eighteenth year. I for one agree with him as most gentle ladies marry too young.
"I will see you soon, I must rescue my wife from the grandmothers." I hug my brother one last time before walking to my wife. "Are you ready darling?"
"Eager are we Teddy?" Grandmother Es asks.
"Leave my son alone. It is normal to want to be alone after one is married," Mother defends me as usual.
"You would know, Darling," Grandmother Renee says causing her and Grandmother Es to giggle like school girls.
"Agnes, I could not wish for a more kind and beautiful mistress of my childhood home," Grandfather Charles says from his chair.
"Thank you, Grandfather." Agnes bends down and kisses his cheek.
I smile at my wife, so happy at how she fits into our large chaotic family. We are escorted to our carriage by my parents; Mother cries while Father holds her, his eyes misty as well.
I love my parents so much. They have always loved and cared for my siblings and myself unconditionally, and I hope I can do the same for my own children.
Once inside the carriage, I press my lips to my wife, so full of love and happiness.
Who knew I would find my soulmate in a beautiful American.
Love works in strange ways …
A/N: Ladies! Ladies! Here we are another futuretake! I do not have the next one in sight so I have no idea when it will come to me. But I'm sure you all know who it is about! I love our Duke and his Duchess so much that it has transferred to their children!