His Perfect Bride(5)

By: Jenn Langston

Painting was a natural part of her life that came as easy as breathing. She found all the social interactions stifled her creative flow and limited her time with her art. Once she was liberated from her mother and the constant obligations, she would be free to paint whenever she chose. This dream would be hers, if she found an untitled and undemanding husband, someone she could easily influence, and married him before her mother had an opportunity to interfere.

Realizing the room was empty, she emerged from her hiding place and exited the drawing room before anyone could uncover her deception. Once up the stairs, she slowed her pace and started for Grace’s bedchamber. Her sister was more anxious than she, since the governess would spend the majority of her time in Grace’s company.

“Bree, thank goodness! I started to worry you had been caught. What took you so long? Have you learned anything useful?” Grace bombarded her as soon as the door opened.

“Calm down, Grace. I didn’t learn anything that would assist us in relieving ourselves of her, but I found out what Mother’s plans are for me.”

As Brianna told her sister what transpired in the drawing room, she could see her sister’s apprehension melt away. Brianna suspected Grace’s happiness was due in large part to the lack of plans for her future.

“I don’t think Mother is going to give up her marriage plans for you, but ridding ourselves of this new one may give you enough of a delay to choose your own husband.”

“Possibly, but I have no wish to rush into marriage. I have my own plan and a lengthy list of requirements for my future husband. Unfortunately, most of them can’t be revealed by several polite conversations witnessed by others.”

“I don’t like the sound of that. This time your plan better not involve me. I’ll happily help frighten off the governess, but I refuse to help you participate in clandestine meetings with various gentlemen.”

“Is that so?” Brianna asked with a knowing look.

She knew if she required her sister’s assistance, she would have it. Typically, in the beginning, Grace had refused to help with Brianna’s more elaborate plans; however, once the plan was ready to be placed into action, her reservations disappeared. Brianna suspected her sister refused at first as her way of curbing her more wild nature, but in the end, her true desire always won.

“It is. Now, do you have a plan to start the removal of this governess?”

“I don’t see any reason to create anything new for her so soon, so we can begin with the ghost plan. You go find Miss Ashley and tell her the fake stories about the manor being haunted. I’ll then sneak into her bedchamber, hide some of her clothing, and rearrange some of her belongings.”

“Perfect! This is my favorite of your plans. It’s also effective.”

Grace happily skipped out of the room in search of her victim. Brianna crept down the hallway and entered the bedchamber adjacent to the one assigned to the governess. Listening by the door, she waited until she heard talking. When her sister’s voice began to fade down the hallway, Brianna knew this was her opportunity. The usual excitement and fear welled up inside her as the danger of being caught sank in.

Slipping inside the governess’s bedchamber, she smiled to see Miss Ashley already began unpacking her belongings. As Brianna strolled through the room, she randomly moved items in a way that would be noticeable. Opening the wardrobe, she was about to remove the first gown, when she heard the sound of voices drawing near. With the prospect of imminent discovery, she climbed into the wardrobe and closed the door.

“I understand, Lady Grace,” Brianna heard the governess say as she entered the room. “I was simply under the impression you had something important to show me.”

“My stories are important. I wish to tell you of——”

“As I already mentioned, I would love to hear your stories. The subject matter does sound quite entertaining, but I have things I must attend to first.”

“You are just trying to dispose of me, since you don’t like me,” Grace responded, and Brianna had to stop herself from giggling at hearing the familiar pout.

“That is nonsense. I do like you, and I promise as soon as I have settled in, I’ll seek you out to hear all of your stories. I must admit, I do love a good ghost.”

Then the door clicked shut and Miss Ashley let out a sigh. Brianna peeked through the crack between the doors to see Miss Ashley at the bed, pulling another gown from her trunk. Realizing how precarious her situation had become, her heart pounded erratically. Miss Ashley would soon discover her hiding in the wardrobe, and the punishment from her mother would be severe.

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