I started her story a long time ago. But it didn't do anything for me. It was all backstory, which, if I were honest, doesn't bother me in the least. I'm not writing for New York. However, it wasn't going anywhere and I felt the story didn't begin in the right place.
Well, one day I had an idea and BINGO! There it was. The opening of the story. I'll give you a little taste and you can tell me what you think. Bear in mind, this is a rough draft and will probably not look like this after I get through edits and revisions.
Lady Dorcas Cadoret stepped down from the carriage behind her mother. Waiting for her father, she glanced up at the windows on the second floor to Caymore House. Dorcas was not looking forward to attending the Twelfth Night Ball. Another long, boring fete she must attend with her parents with no one to talk with and very few dance partners. Acquaintances saw her as a shallow, unintelligent girl who had sat for too long on the shelf. And her few friends shied away from her as her mother usually managed to make a complete ninny-hammer of both of them trying to find a suitable match for Dorcas.
“Come along, Dorcas,” her mother snapped. “Pray do not dawdle. I hear Lady Olivia is going to make a very important announcement and I do not wish to miss it.”
“Yes, Mother.” Dorcas lifted the hem of her skirts to avoid the mud puddle and followed her parents into the grand mansion in
Dorcas considered Lady Penelope one of her friends and did look forward to speaking with her. However, Dorcas also knew that Penny would probably not have the time. If only she could escape her mother's side for two minutes.
Leaving her cape with the footman at the door, Dorcas dutifully followed her parents up the broad staircase to the receiving line, where Lady Olivia, the Duke and Duchess of Olmstead, and Lady Penelope and her handsome husband Lord Caymore stood.
Dorcas caught a glimpse of the ballroom, still decorated with holly and pine boughs from Christmas. The crystal chandeliers twinkled like stars amid the massive throng of gaily-dressed people milling about the parquet floor.
“Do stand up straight, Dorcas,” her mother hissed. “There is nothing worse than a slouching woman.”
“Yes, Mother.” Dorcas sighed.
“And for pity’s sake, paste a smile on your face. How do you expect to gain the attention of a man if you look as if you were attending a funeral?”
“Yes, Mother.” Dorcas slightly lifted the corners of her lips.
“There now, that is much better.” Countess Shreve patted her daughter on the arm. “You will also remember to mention nothing of your headache. Your father wishes to remain all evening and I will not have him upset. Perhaps later, I may enquire of Lady Olivia if you might take a respite in a quiet room, but for now, I wish you to seem happy and gay.”
Their turn to say hello to the hosts had arrived and Dorcas curtsied.
“Dorcas, it is so lovely to see you again,” Penny said, grabbing Dorcas by the hand. “I am so glad you could attend this night.”
“Thank you, Lady Penelope. Tis an honor to receive such a kind invitation.” Dorcas felt a bony finger in her back nudging her to move forward. She remained where she stood. “I do hope we shall be able to speak for a few moments later in the evening.”
“Yes, I look forward to it.”
Another poke in her ribcage forced Dorcas to step away. Her mother grabbed her arm. “It is not ladylike to monopolize the hosts in such a way, Dorcas. They have more important people to speak with than you.”
As her mother went to speak with friends, Dorcas turned away and walked to stand with the other wallflowers. Years of listening to her mother harp at her had hardened her to the censure, but still, just once, she would like to hear one kind word from her mother’s lips. If her mother thought about it, she might realize Lady Penelope could be a boon to Dorcas’ standing in Society. However, Dorcas knew her mother would never put stock into allowing such an intimate acquaintance. Dorcas, as the only daughter of the Earl of Shreve, was not high enough born to be in the same social circle.
Dorcas looked up from her perusal of the floor to find her old friend Violet, now the Marchioness of Haverlane standing in front of her.
“Lady Violet,” Dorcas said, surprised. She made a quick curtsey. It had been some time since the two had spoken. Violet’s one Season had landed her a wealthy Marquess.
“Please do not stand on such ceremony, Dorcas. We are friends, are we not?”
“Yes, of course.” She prayed her mother would not take this moment to attend her.
“Good, then I am going to spirit you away with me. I cannot bear to see you standing here so alone and forlorn. Come, I will introduce you to some new friends and we will all be a merry party while we wait for Penny.”
“Violet, I am not sure I may. My mother, you see…”
Violet placed her hand on Dorcas’ arm. “Violet, I am the Marchioness of Haverlane now. If I choose to have you as my especial friend this night, surely, your mother will have no objection.”
Dorcas smiled. “I’m afraid you do not know my mother.”
“No, I do not, but Lady Olivia does, and it was she who sent me to you, so your mother cannot disapprove. Come now, I will brook no refusal.” With that, Violet wrapped her hand around Dorcas’ elbow and pulled her away from the corner.
Anne Gallagher copyright (c) 2012*****
So what do you think? Do you hate Lady Shreve as much as I do? Do you think poor Dorcas will find her mettle and stand up to her?