Hi everyone. I had thought of the idea for this fic ages ago, but was unable to write it for so long because of my exams. In anycase I will be able to update this fic only once a month, as after slogging for the whole year, I just have like a week off. So basically i almost have college for 10 months in a year. I'll now get on with the fic....

Chapter 1

With the sun beating down on her relentlessly, Tomoyo stepped out of another creditor's office with no success. Her father's business had failed recently and the creditors were banging on her doorstep. But no one was willing to lend her the money which would inject enough capital into the business to get it back on it's feet.

The reasons were simple enough. Many did not believe that a woman was capable enough of running a business without a man by her side. They were'nt even willing to listen to her ideas, although she had good business sense, with a talent for expansion, simply because of her sex. Those who were willing to do so would do it for a price. Nothing much, all she had to do was completely let go of her self respect and pride and agree to be a kept woman, while they subjected her to lustful and leacherous stares, and indulged their lurid fantasies.

And she was loathe to do that! She would go down fighting. As she stepped into the lane which led to her house, she was accosted by her exuberant friend Sakura, who did not even have a inkling of the troubles which chased her friend.

' Tomoyo, there's a ball tonight at Duke Strafford's. Oh you must come. You haven't made an appearance for so long that tongues have begun wagging. They say you are having an affair with a married man' said Sakura with a merry twinkle in her eyes.

Anyone who knew Tomoyo well enough would know that, she would never do a thing like that, for she prized values and a sense of honour and integrity above aeverything else. Ever since Sakura had married Duke Li Syaoran, they had moved apart unintentionally. Sakura was busy adjusting to the joys of married life, and Tomoyo had not wanted to bother them with all her troubles and problems, even when she herself was suffering from a broken heart.

Everyone had expected that she would marry Duke Hiiragizawa of Montgomery, but when they broke up, she just said that things had not worked out, and had not divulged the details even to her best friend.

' Well i don't know ' she began, in response to her friend ' I have to take care of father, he's not keeping too well these days.' In reality, she would no longer be eligible to fit into the elite social circle anymore, she would have to sell her mansion, if she could'nt find anyone willing to lend her the money.

' Rubbish' interjected Sakura in a firm voice. ' Uncle is much better these days than he used to be. You can definately spare one night. It's time you found yourself another Duke after the dismail performance of the previous one.'

She winced at Sakura's refrence to Eriol. There had been no one in her life till him, and no one after him either. ' Well, alright i will come tonight.' And she could'nt help but smile when her friend hugged her.

' Well i better hurry up, Syaoran must be waiting for me' Sakura said tenderly at the thought of her husband.

' Syaoran can't bear to be seperated from his darling wife, for even a few minutes, right ' teased Tomoyo, as she forgot her troubles and grinned at Sakura who smiled shyly.

' So when am i going to be an aunty, i'm growing old you know ' she could'nt resist asking Sakura who promptly blushed.

Sakura exclaimed in a scandalized voice ' Tomoyo!' while Tomoyo laughed. ' Well we are trying' she then revealed confidentially.

' I wish you all the luck in the world ' expressed Tomoyo as she embraced Sakura in a warm hug. ' I'll see you tonight ' she added as Sakura hurried away.

That night Tomoyo wore one of her favourite gowns. It was a lovely gray one which had a tight corset. She was not going to stay long, and she only intended to make a cameo appearance.

She absolutely did not feel like mingling around. She was in no mood to gossip with the fat women, who were either trying to get famous Dukes to notice their daughters, or were busy discussing whose jewellery was more expensive.

As far as the men, she hated the enormous ones with cigars stuck between their lips, and who were already married, but made no pretence of the fact as they oogled at the other women. And the unattached one's were always trying to paw her, and she had her hands full on trying to move their hands away from a sensitive part of her body, without creating a scene on the dance floor.

She had refused several offers of a dance, and when she had run out of excuses, she reluctantly agreed to a dance with one Earl of Nottingham, her host's brother - in - law. As she danced she tried to think of a way to save her father's business and simultaneously avoid being stepped upon by the Earl.

A ruthless voice cut into her thoughts, ' I'm sure the Lady will enjoy my company better.'

She found herself in a pair of steel arms that she knew all too well, while she sagged in shock against the familiar broad chest. She could feel his breath on her ear, and her body treacherously betrayed her, and all she wanted to do was wrap her fingers in his hair.

Slowly she lifted eyes heavy lidded with confusion, shock and desire and the knowledge scared her, only to stare into the smouldering azure blue eyes of Duke Eriol Hiiragizawa.

So how was it? Was it tolerable? Or was it terrible, or was it half way decent. Please review and let me know. I love reading the feedback from my readers. If you leave your email address, I will let you know when I update this fic next.