His Perfect Bride(4)

By: Jenn Langston

Before the five minutes passed, she heard the sound of footsteps and petticoats rustling. Quieting her breathing, she waited as her mother entered the room.

“My lady, Miss Ashley Grant is here to see you,” Newton, the butler, announced shortly after her mother arrived.

“Send her in.”

“Good morning, my lady. My name is Ashley Grant. I have been sent by the agency to see you about a position as governess.”

“You seem much too young for the position. How old are you?”

“I celebrated my twenty-fifth year last month,” Miss Ashley responded, much calmer than Brianna would have managed.

“So young? Then you must have no experience. I can’t have an inexperienced girl guiding my children at such a crucial time. Does this agency have no respect for me?”

“I only have a few years experience as a governess. However, the agency believes I have a better chance with your daughters than the others.”

“How could you possibly be better suited?” her mother demanded.

Brianna repressed a shudder. Having heard that tone before, she could imagine the look Miss Ashley was receiving.

“My predecessors have been much older than your daughters, but I’m closer to their age and therefore more able to relate to them on a different level. Since I have recently gone through that stage in life, I can better help them through it,” Ashley replied, her voice dripping with confidence.

There was a brief pause and Brianna held her breath, waiting for her mother’s determination. On one hand, Brianna admired the girl for appearing to stay calm in the midst of her mother, but on the other hand, she could prove to be more difficult to dispose of than the others. Brianna could not decide if she wished her mother to accept this girl or not.

“The agency does have a valid argument, so I shall allow this interview.”

Although slightly surprised by her mother’s response, she felt happy for Ashley making it thus far. As she listened with half an ear, they discussed Ashley’s qualifications and what would be expected of her as governess. Brianna began to feel her eyelids droop and was disappointed at the waste of time this was turning out to be.

“Now, before we go any further, I need to explain the problem with my eldest daughter, Brianna.” At the sound of her name, her eyes shot open and she resisted the urge to sit up. “She is beautiful, and that alone should ensure her a chance at securing a suitable match. However, she does not act at all like a lady should.”

“In what way does she act, my lady?”

“She is a stubborn and disobedient child. At times, I feel as though she waits for me to tell her something only so she can defy me. We have been attending balls and gatherings for over a month now, and she has not received special attention from any gentleman to indicate interest. I’m determined to see my daughter wed to a viscount or higher, and her wild ways are frightening off any acceptable prospects.”

“At such an age, I’m not sure I would be able to help much in that regard. She has obviously made a decision regarding her actions, and I’m not sure it can be changed.”

“You were telling me how you could relate better considering your age, and now you will have your opportunity to prove it. I believe you are wrong about Brianna. My daughter can change, and I feel that you are the one to help facilitate her transformation.” After a pause, her mother added, in a superior voice. “If you don’t wish for the position, or the reference you shall gain from it, then desist wasting my time. I need a strong woman who can discourage my daughter’s wildness and keep a close eye on her.”

“My lady, I can be strong when the occasion arises, and I do wish for the position. If you allow me this chance, I’ll assist you with your daughter.”

“Very well, you will start immediately. Brianna and I will be attending Lord and Lady Minor’s ball this evening, and I expect her to be ready to receive some suitors.”

Brianna could hardly believe what she had heard. Did her mother honestly think additional training from a governess would force Brianna to comply with her demands? She loved her mother dearly, but the woman didn’t understand her. Brianna always felt trapped in her own home, and she had no desire to marry a titled gentleman and become his prisoner as well.

Living that life was never something that appealed to her. There were so many duties and responsibilities that would limit her free time, a sad truth she learned from her mother. What Brianna longed for was a small cottage in the country, preferably near a body of water, where she could live out her life free from obligations. She could spend hours horseback riding, walking through the woods, and painting without any worries about neglecting her duties. Then perhaps one day she would be able to see her art in a gallery. People would come from all over to witness beauty through her eyes.

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