Lord Wentworth resisted the urge to groan with frustration. He had spent the better half of the past ten minutes attempting to straighten his necktie into something more acceptable. Heaving a sigh, he turned to face the portrait before him. The crystals on the chandelier reflected the light, casting an aura of splendour around the handsome young lady. Her eyes still twinkled, as if harbouring a secret. A widower for the past ten years, James Wentworth gazed wistfully at the exotic complexion of his French bride. Their daughter had inherited his features, and he knew she wished it had been different. Amelia had been only six years of age when she had lost her mother…
The rustling of petticoats drew his attention towards the grand staircase. A vision in blue began to glide down towards him. Emotion clogged his throat as he tried to swallow. The young girl chattering away with contagious energy to the neighbour's son had disappeared. In her place stood a refined young lady in a ball gown of blue satin, her blonde locks swept up into an elaborate coiffure. Pearls were embroidered onto the lace bodice and the hem of the full skirt. The gown was simple, yet striking. Even though there had been changes made since the last time he had seen it, Lord Wentworth would have recognised it anywhere. The last time he had glimpsed it, he had first set eyes upon his future wife.
She stood now on the last step, her eyes riveted to the carpeted floor. Her hands fluttered over the gown nervously. The stance was so familiar, he almost stumbled. Quickly righting himself, he glanced towards her in order to ensure that it was indeed his daughter, not his wife. Arresting a wandering hand, he placed a reverent kiss on her beaded glove. Hesitantly, she lifted her gaze to his.
"Mademoiselle Wentworth, you look exquisite."
Pink stained her cheeks as she threw her arms around him. He drew his arms tight around her, drawing her closer to his heart. Amazed at what he had never realised before, he dropped a kiss on her forehead. The manner in which she moved, the grace with which she carried herself, was so like that of his beloved Bella that he had almost mistaken the one for the other. There was a wild beauty about her, untamed by society. It was that beauty that had first drawn him to his wife. She drew back and lightly kissed him on the cheek. Spying his necktie hanging askew, she swiftly retied it. "You are so much like your mother," he murmured. She smiled gratefully, as he offered her his arm.
"If I may be so bold as to request the first dance of the evening?"
"I would be delighted, my Lord."