tea length items to wear of the wedding

“So soon?” Anne’s heart ached at the thought of being separated from him. It always did. She enjoyed spending a few stolen moments with him when it could be arranged, and his presence made a call from Lady Metcalfe so much more bearable when he could accompany his mother, for he would sit with Anne and over a cup of tea or a book of verses, share a limited but intimate conversation. Alistair did not treat her as some delicate flower about to wilt and be tossed out, nor did he think she was incapable of intelligent discussion. He treated her as she longed to be treated — as a friend, a very dear friend, and a bit more, a good bit more. This was not the first conversation the two had had about marriage. They had spoken of it often — nearly every visit — for the last six months. tea length items to wear of the wedding

“I am afraid it truly cannot be put off any longer than that.” He released her and drew a small parcel of cloth out of his pocket. “I had hoped,” he said, folding back the red material, “that you might accept this and me.”

Anne gasped at the beautiful cross pendant composed of four rose cut diamonds set in silver with rubies interspersed that lay in his open palm. He was finally going to offer for her! She ran a finger over the shiny bauble as her heart beat a rhythm of delighted anticipation in her chest. “It is so beautiful. It must be of great value.”

He lifted it from his hand and allowed it to dangle in front of her on its gold chain. “It is. It was left to me by my father’s mother. I have always intended for my wife to wear it on the day of our marriage.” He caught the twirling cross in his hand. “I wish for you to be my bride. I cannot abide sitting cautiously on the edge of a precipice waiting to know whether I will be hurled from it or pulled to safety any longer, and, therefore, I do not want to wait a moment more to settle things between us. I know we are not yet free to even make our courtship known, but surely, it will not be long before we can, will it? If your cousin truly loves Miss Elizabeth, as you suspect he does, he will not allow your mother to force him into marrying you, will he?”

Anne pulled a letter from her reticule. “I have written to Darcy, encouraging him to find a wife with all due haste, and I have made it abundantly clear that I do not wish to be that wife. If you will send this for me, then I shall consider myself free enough to accept your gift and bind myself to you with a promise.” She smiled, both at the thought of being truly betrothed to a gentleman such as Alistair Pratt, who caused her heart to flutter, and at the way in which she had made her acceptance sound very much like a damsel in a fairy-tale.

“I will gladly deliver your missive,” he replied with a beautiful smile that caused his eyes to sparkle. “Might I?” He unclasped the chain and held it out in an offer of placing it on her neck.

Anne nodded eagerly and turned so that he could fasten it at the back of her neck.

He lifted the necklace over her head and then made short work of securing it in place. He smoothed the chain against her neck and gave the place where the clasp lay a kiss. Then, turning her towards him, he continued smoothing the chain down toward the neckline of her gown, stopping short of reaching the edge of her garment. There he lifted the chain and allowed the cross to drop into hiding. A smile spread across his face as he watched the pendent slip from view. “The chain is the right length. I will replace it with a shorter chain once you are able to wear it for all to see.” He lifted his eyes to hers as he grasped her hands and pulled her a step closer. “For now, only we will know what secret lies next to your heart.”

“You must take a lock of my hair,” Anne said. “I have nothing else to give you.” She pulled her hands from his grasp and worked a tendril loose from behind her ear.

Alistair fished his knife out of his pocket and, unfolding it, cut the lock she held.

“Wait,” she said before he could take the hair from her and tuck it into his pocket. “You must let me wrap it in my handkerchief. I embroidered the flowers on the corner along with my initials. It shall be something that will help you remember me while you are gone.”

The precious item was quickly wrapped and tucked away with Alistair’s knife.

“We have an understanding then?” Alistair asked. “You will be mine as soon as you are free?”

An impish smile played at her lips. “Before.” She knew her mother would not give up Darcy easily, even if he were to engage himself to a lady within the month’s time she had given him to do so in her letter — the one that was now safely in Alistair’s care. She would make her escape well before the time was up.

“Before?” he repeated, a slight note of skepticism in his voice.

Anne nodded.

“How? You are not of age.”

“One does not have to be of age in Scotland,” Anne replied.

from Becoming Entangled https://books2read.com/b/3L9dq1

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