Status: Inactive at the moment; may return to this later

Love's Fierce Embrace


The obnoxious cries of a newborn infant resounded in the spacious room, sirens of fear and need. Mere minutes into life, the baby begged for comfort. Any semblance of life in the womb would do. Warm, tight spaces and words cooed in gentle mummers. Exhausted from the exertion of labor, the new mother offered no help to her child. She rested in her bed, propped by large pillows, and watched through heavy eyelids as her midwife expertly executed postnatal care.

The cries hushed and the new mother’s eyes snapped open in panic. Frantic images of the dead children born to her in the past, ones that never had a chance to breathe, emerged from her repressed memories. Their lifeless bodies cradled in her arms. Small, defenseless children her womb murdered.

Not again.

She struggled to push herself from the pillows on weak arms and peered around her midwife. Flailing limbs extinguished her terror, dropped her from her nervous state so suddenly, tears sprung to her eyes. She collapsed back against her cushioned support and covered her face with shaking hands. Relieved tears dribbled into her palms, hidden from her midwife and child.

She hadn’t failed this time. She gave her husband the child he long desired, the child she owed to him. Living, breathing, her precious baby was the fulfillment of her sole purpose in life and responsibility to her husband. She wasn’t a failure anymore, and he would leave her be now. His wrathful presence would no longer visit her chamber, would no longer make demands of her body, and would no longer exert force in the form of fists on her aging frame. Within the confines of their loveless marriage, she would never see him again. She was free.


Sniffling, she wiped tear tracks from her cheeks, removed evidence of her overwhelming joy, and watched her midwife. The woman worked in effortless movements. This was nothing new for her. She had seen her share of births and had each step down to choreographed movements. Her baby was in the best hands possible, safe from the immediate dangers of the world. She hoped the nursemaid she selected would do the same. Keeping the child living was her ultimate priority. Even her life came second.

The midwife turned to her, bundled child in her hold, smile gracing her lips. Meeting the new mother’s eyes, she spoke, “It is a girl.”

The pleasant future she imagined for herself and her child crashed around her, broken shards of possibility. She had a girl. A girl. Sweet, defenseless, innocent, her baby could never inherit the title Earl of Ashbourne.

“No,” she whispered, anguished tears perching in her eyes and replacing the relieved ones that once trickled into her palms.

She did not produce an heir. Her first living child was useless to her husband’s needs. He would want another, would demand she give him a boy, would harass her till an heir was born, and she would have no choice but to consent despite the doctor’s warnings. She’d die giving birth to another child. For his prized title.

“You must be mistaken,” she said, voice wavering under exhaustion and fear.

The midwife’s smile faltered, her eyebrows drew together, and she said nothing, confusion penetrating her thoughts. But realization followed on the tail of the momentary lapse. Her expression relayed apologetic understanding.

“I’m sorry, milady,” she said.

“You’re wrong,” the mother insisted, “Let me see the child.”

The midwife opened her mouth, as if to protest, but shut it, her lips a worried line. Heeding the mother’s request, she crossed the room, carefully placed the bundle into waiting arms, and stood at the side of the bed. Prepared to act in the event of emergency or momentary insanity on the mother’s part.

Ignoring the woman’s looming, judgmental presence, she stared at her baby. Her little miracle. Her little curse. She didn’t unfold the baby’s tight cocoon to confirm her midwife’s announcement. No good would come of that, only further heartbreak. Instead, she gazed upon the child’s androgynous face. Pudgy cheeks, tiny mouth pursed in pout, a button nose, eye color hidden behind closed lids, and sparse chestnut hair from her husband’s side. Her baby looked like every other newborn, face yet to form telling features of femininity.

“Poor fool,” the mother whispered, stroking her baby’s soft cheek.

Precious child would know her father’s hatred before she could comprehend her existence. At the fault of her mother’s treacherous body, that designated the sex hidden below tight blankets, that gave the wrong gender to a neutral face. The baby could have easily been a male had the mother’s womb chosen right.

She wished her midwife would have lied, twisted the troubling facts to tell her what she wanted to hear. She would never have known otherwise, nor would her husband. The staff hired to handle the baby, the wet nurse and nanny, would be sworn to secrecy. For the sake of the child’s welfare. Her baby would have been safe from her husband, who would be too consumed in his affairs to see the child.

The boy.

Idea sparked by the thought, she didn’t contemplate the severity of her actions and spoke: “His name is Charles.”


Roses overpowered the light breeze, their scent resonating from the walls of bushes covered in delicate flowers. Sighing happily, Laurel Blanchard stroked one of the carmine blooms. Soft petals tickled the pad of her thumb. Silky. Smooth. Her thumb circled the flower, exerting gentle force over the area in a spiraling path, until she dipped into the center. The tight swirl wrapped around her digit. Accommodating her intruding presence.

“You shouldn’t touch those.” Her companion’s voice distracted her attention. “Mr. Bailey will have your hide.”

Laurel looked to her dearest friend, her partner during the lonely days void of her brother’s presence, Althea Shepard. Brown locks fell around her face, free from the intricate braided knot at her crown. The skirt of her blue walking gown danced in the breeze. Her smile lost the subdued nature expected of well-bred ladies, instead widening and forcing a crinkle to the bridge of her nose. A break in her well-trained composure.

“I can’t imagine who would tell him,” Laurel said, her hand falling to her side. “The roses certainly won’t.”

“Someone must speak up for those poor, defiled flowers,” Althea declared.

Her tone deepened to mimic the country estate’s gardener Mr. Bailey. Laurel giggled, the words a perfect recreation of each lecture the flower enthusiast gave her when he caught her touching his creations.

“Well then, I guess I can’t have tea and biscuits with a conspirator.”

Althea’s face brightened in excitement, her heroic pursuit forgotten at the promise of food and drink. “Would we be allowed to take tea here?”

“There’s no one to stop us.”

The authority figures that held dominance over her were nowhere in sight. She was only aware of her parents’ whereabouts. They were on the estate, could easily catch her breaking pointless rules and reprimand her, but they were too preoccupied preparing to attend a three-day house party, the very party Althea’s family departed for earlier in the day, to have any concern for her actions. Typical.

At the tender age of fourteen, Laurel and Althea were not allowed to take part in the festivities.

“I would like that,” Althea said.

“We’ll ring for it once mother and father leave.”

Althea sighed and looked back the house, her excitement dying under dreamy wistfulness. “I wish we could attend.”

Laurel did not share her dear friend’s wish. The social gatherings she and Althea would be forced to frequent when they became of age seemed altogether taxing. Routs, balls, assemblies, for the sake of hunting a husband.

“It doesn’t seem that enjoyable,” Laurel commented.

“Oh, but it must be,” Althea insisted, “And so romantic. Can’t you imagine it, the beautiful decorations, the dresses, the dancing, and meeting the most perfect man.” Laurel would have interjected and pointed out the many flaws of Althea’s dream social event, but Althea continued to speak. “You’re conversing with acquaintances when you see him. You stare because you just can’t pull your eyes away for a moment, and he feels you staring, turns his head.” She turned her head to Laurel, acting out the words she spoke. “And your eyes lock.”

Their eyes met, the strange intensity of Althea’s gaze sending a shiver down Laurel’s spine. Her heartbeat tripped. Something curled in the pit of her stomach, a tingling sensation she couldn’t place. Such a foreign look that sparked such foreign feelings.

Althea continued, unaware her affect on Laurel. “He leaves his company—politely, of course—and crosses the room.” Althea approached her. Her heart, recovering from the skipped beat, raced with each step she took in her direction. “Intent on reaching.” She stopped. Close. Too close. “You.”

Laurel couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t move. Hazel eyes froze her in place, heated her skin, and stole her breath. Overwhelming power from Althea’s dainty form.

“He offers to escort you to your seat.” She leaned forward, brought her lips near Laurel’s ear. “Lady Blanchard, may I have the honor of escorting you to the dining room?”

“Of course,” Laurel answered in airy whisper.

Althea pulled back, broad smile on her beautiful face. “He offers his arm.” She did so. “And you take it.” Laurel complied. “And you both walk to the dining room, everyone staring at you.”

She led her through the garden, between the walls of bloomed roses, to one of the many benches spread through the maze. Untangling their arms, she motioned for Laurel to sit, and Laurel did, mumbling a barely audible “thank you.”

“You find yourself sitting next to him,” Althea said, sitting next to her. Their shoulders touched, their outer thighs pressed against each other. Laurel watched Althea’s profile as she spoke. “A sheer chance of fate. And you’re so close that when he looks at you…” Althea looked at her and the ending of her sentence no longer mattered.

Personal space was forgotten in the proximity of their faces. Their noses brushed, bumped. Their breathing merged into one. Laurel could spot each green fleck dotting Althea’s wide, hazel eyes. The breeze stilled around them, the world seemed to halt all movement, and neither of them broke away.

Althea’s eyes dated to Laurel’s lips, then peered back into her eyes, gaze half-lidded. Her head tipped to the side and drew closer. Closer. And their lips touched, an innocent, tentative first kiss.

Laurel was ruined.
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So, as I've stated on the summary page, this is for a project.
I'm actually thinking of toning down the language a lot to make it more fun.
But I'll decide when I start the first chapter.
The summary doesn't do this story justice, but it's what I have for now.
I will change it and make it resemble a typical historical romance at some point.
Because I want this whole story to be like the stereotypical historical romance in the way it's written and the way it sounds.
For now, though, this is what I have.
I hope enjoy.
Please comment or message me to let me know what you think.
X's and O's
Dakota Ray