Sitting comfortably beneath a massive oak tree, Hayley Lawrence,
felt secure as though protected by a strong tower. The beautiful
garden of her father's estate was a favored escape from the
large, darkened rooms of their mansion, located on Canada's
Anxious thoughts of seeing Austin Sommers caused a shiver to rise
up her back. While holding a book of poetry in her hand, she
found it difficult to keep her mind on a single stanza or page.
After closing the cover, she laid the small volume beside her and
stretched out on the cool, bright green grass.
Her mind journeyed back to the day she first laid eyes on the
handsome and charming Austin. He was eighteen years old, and she
had just turned sixteen. That memorable day, she had taken off
her stockings, to wade in the refreshing water of the garden
pond. The moment she placed her left foot into the transparent
liquid, she squealed from its shocking cold temperature. A quick
jerking motion caused her to lose her balance and tumble into the
water at the edge of the bank.
After standing up quickly she examined her dress. She instantly
dismissed the notion that she should totally immerse herself in
the pond and swim, and climbed back onto the sloping bank.
Discovering that her dress was covered with mud, she began wiping
the soil with her hand. Deciding she had failed to improve the
dress's miry condition, she lifted her hands in full surrender.
A voice from behind caused her to jump. She turned slightly and
"Allow me, Miss." A young, sandy-haired man stood extending a
light blue kerchief. Hayley with her mouth slightly opened,
stared at him.
"Please take it. You need it more than I." She continued to
stare, noticing that his dark brown eyes sparkled.
"Don't worry, I won't bite." Bending down, he took Hayley's right
hand, gently pressing the cloth into it. Allowing her a bit of
privacy, Austin stood and turned away. Hayley wiped her dress and
slipped her stockings back onto her feet and stood up.
The newcomer cleared his throat. "What is your name?"
"That is quite a strange name for a girl."
She giggled. "Hayley-Hayley Lawrence."
"It is a pleasure to finally meet you, Hayley Lawrence." Turning
back around to face the girl, he extended his hand, and she
accepted it. It was warm and strong. "How is it, we have never
met before today?"
"I don't wander past the boundaries of my father's estate."
"I am glad the mystery has been solved. I have always been
curious about what Mr. Lawrence's daughter looks like."
Her eyebrows rose. "You know my father?"
"Yes, I know of him.You may know my mother, Mrs. Sommers."
Hayley stood as she cleared her throat and handed him the wet,
"She has come by our house a few times, but I didn't know she has
"Yes, his name is Austin." He chuckled.
"Please forgive me. I should have been polite and asked for your
name." Her cheeks turned red.
"I am sure you have impeccable manners, given the right
"I must ask my father why he has never mentioned you."
"From what I understand, my mother and your father have never
been good friends."
"Nor have they been friends of any sort, but he has never treated
her as an enemy. Actually, he rarely speaks of her."
"I will acknowledge that she has quite a reputation on the island
for resembling a dictator. In fact, there are a few islanders who
refer to her as "Monarch Sommers". I hope you will not hold her
authoritative disposition against me."
"Of course not."
Austin bowed. "I hope to see you again, one day soon."
"I am here most days when the weather is as beautiful as it is
today." She replied.
"Yes, the island weather is not always so comfortable." Austin
Hayley's heart raced as he reached for her right hand and pressed
his lips softly on the back of it. His smile broadened as he let
her hand slip from his. While Hayley struggled to whisper
"good-bye", he turned and walked away, into the shadows of the
The recollection of the special day brought a smile to her face,
as her attention returned to the garden and her book of poetry.
Suddenly, from the corner of her eye she caught sight of a
brightly orange butterfly gliding smoothly toward her. She smiled
broadly as she reached out her arm as an offering. Surprisingly,
it landed on her wrist. She knew that a moment such as this was
rare. Studying its tiny features and brilliant colors, she had
never seen a butterfly with the brilliant colors and detail it
possessed. As it delicately lifted off to flight, she too longed
for wings. Attempting to follow the butterfly, her twisted steps
turned methodically into a dance.
Her face turned skyward as her arms spun freely and her body spun
in circles. At the point of dizziness, she dropped rapidly to her
knees, panting. The clamor of a horse's hooves broke through the
labored sound of her heavy breathing. Glancing up, she caught
sight of the object of her affection approaching.
She was embarrassed at the thought that Austin might have watched
her dancing. As he came closer, the smile she had expected to see
on his face was nonexistent. The only expression he wore was a
frown. "What is the matter, Austin?" She attempted to catch her
breath as she rose from the ground.
"They know of us."
"Who?" She knew.
"Mother and Father."
"How?" Her body shivered.
"I only know that whatever chance, we once had to be together no
"Why do you believe such a thing?" Hayley leapt toward the horse.
"It's not what I desired to say."
"Please, come to sit with me, as we planned."
She longed to feel Austin's strong arms around her. He was the
sturdy tower she longed for, but he remained perched on his
"I do not know how to tell you." His voice faded.
Fear was creeping in and Hayley felt paralyzed.
"I am forbidden to see you."
"It can't be true!" Desperation was in her voice.
"My mother plans to introduce me to a few ladies in Kingston."
"You can simply refuse."
"I was told if I refuse, I will lose my inheritance, as well as
the reputation of the Sommers' name. That makes it impossible for
us to be together." He bowed his head.
"Your family would disown you-for loving me?" Her words trailed
off to a whisper.
Austin did not answer, nor would he look at her.
"Austin, you know how I have been alone for so long and that my
father forbids me to have contact with anyone outside our estate
for years. When I met you, he seemed to understand the need for
me to prepare a life for myself, now that I am older. If I lose
you, I will be alone again."
"Hayley, if we stay together, I will have nothing to give you. My
love will not keep you in fine dresses or provide what you need."
Austin reached down and touched her cheek. "You don't have to be
alone; your father will not refuse to let you live your life."
Though she was not consoled, Hayley understood she could not
expect Austin to give up his financial security.
As she felt her body and mind go numb, Austin reached for her
hand, bent over and gently kissed the center of her palm. His
lips remained for a bit as Hayley searched desperately for
something to say. He placed her hand over his heart as his head
was bowed and his eyes were closed. Hayley heard a gasp escape
his throat. She wondered if this would be the last time she
would feel his gentle touch. Would she have only dreams of a
life with him? As tears filled her eyes, he released her hand.
Covering her face, she dropped to the ground. As the tears
poured down her face, Austin rode away. Her hopes for a
beautiful day had suddenly and completely crumbled around her.
The unexpected rap on the door jolted Hayley from a deep sleep.
The room remained dark and an icy chill enveloped every space.
As she rubbed her frozen nose, the door slowly opened and the
housekeeper entered the room quietly. Hayley watched the dark
figure approach the fireplace and kneel down to stir the cold
As Hayley propped herself up on her elbows, she let out a sigh
that startled the woman, nearly causing her fall into the open
"Forgive me, Maddie."
"I assumed you were sleeping. It has been difficult to wake you
the last couple of days."
As she continued to watch Maddie, she considered of how fond
she was of her and how she and her father were fortunate to
have her with them. All of the wealthy families on Amherst
Island had employees working for them, but Maddie had always
been like family.
"Tell me again how beautiful my mother was."
"I have told you so many times, that her image should be
forever etched in your mind."
"Her hair was raven black. Was it honey brown, as mine when she
was my age?"
"Perhaps. Yours will probably be darker when you're older."
"She was like a sister to you, right?"
"Yes, we were very close" Her voice trailed off as she returned
to the fire.
"I am sure you must tire of my questions. I'm grateful you are
always willing to share your memory of her."
Maddie rose from her knees and walked to the edge of the bed.
Her eyes were glistening as they caught the glow of a new flame
dancing in them. "I will never tire of helping you to keep her
alive in your heart and mind."
Hayley's thoughts turned to Austin. How would she keep him
alive in her heart? He would soon only be a part of her memory
as well. She would be able to recall the time they had spent
together. She did not have the same luxury with her mother. She
could only rely on others to capture their experiences and
share them with her. She could however, make the mental image
of her mother more glorious, with the disapproval of no one.
Her love for Austin was glorious, yet was met with grave
"Maddie, have you ever known true love?"
Maddie's body stiffened. Not knowing where to lay her eyes, she
murmured, "Yes." Her mouth turned up at the ends, as she fought
"You have never spoken of such things-I assumed you had never…"
"Do not look so surprised!" Maddie's face flushed red. "Is it
so hard to believe I could love and be loved?"
"No, no." She could not stifle the excitement in her voice.
"You are so beautiful, Maddie."
"Hush, now, with your frivolous talk." She turned away so
Hayley could not see her embarrassment. "I will speak no more
on the subject."
As Maddie reached the bedroom door, Hayley swung her legs over
the edge of the bed and sat up as she spoke.
She stopped but did not turn around.
"If you ever trust me enough to speak of him, it will follow me
to the grave."
Maddie searched for words, but finding none, she left the
Maddie opened the door, shielding her eyes, as the sun
overwhelmed and stung them. She could only see a darkened
figure standing on the large porch in front of her. She
batted her eyelids quickly to bring them into focus.
The visitor pushed the door hard as she stepped over the
threshold. "I have urgent business to discuss with you." The
worried look on the woman's expressive face dissolved
Maddie's irritation at her barging in.
"What may I do for you, Mrs. Sommers?"
"As you know, I would not think to impose on your day, if it
was not of the utmost importance." She looked around the
entryway, as though she was there for a thorough inspection
of the mansion. "You must know, I would not send my servant
to deal with such a matter," she walked to the parlor. The
woman stopped in mid-step and swung around so quickly that
Maddie had to jump back to prevent a collision.
"Is it not rather warm in here?"
Before allowing Maddie to respond, she walked on.
"May I?" She said, pointing to one of the chairs. She began
fanning herself with a small handkerchief. Maddie motioned
for her to sit. The woman sighed deeply as she perched
herself on the edge of the seat cushion.
"I am in dire need of your services, Miss Hawthorn."
"How do you mean, Mrs. Sommers?" Maddie hoped her expression
would convey a desire to willingly assist.
"It is Mr. Sommers." She delicately wiped at her nose with
the handkerchief. "He has been very sick the last couple of
days. My housekeeper has left temporarily, and I haven't the
precious time to find a permanent successor."
Maddie could guess the reason she had left, and was quite
certain the leave would be permanent. She remained
"Since you are a housekeeper, surely you can be spared a few
days or a week."
"Perhaps, but…" She had only meant to respond to the first
"Good, then it is settled." She rose quickly from the chair.
"We shall see you at first light tomorrow morning." Mrs.
Sommers seemed to float through the room as she spoke. "That
will definitely give you plenty of time to pack your things."
As she stopped at the entryway, Maddie felt powerless to
control what was happening. She had learned never to
interrupt and had no time to get a single word out of her
"I will send someone by to gather you and your belongings."
The bright rays of the sun stung Maddie's eyes again as she
watched Mrs. Sommers rush past the door and rush to her
carriage. The sun, she now thought, was not the only thing
that was overwhelming and irritating.
"I cannot believe you have waited until now to tell me!"
Hayley squealed to Maddie, as she watched her lay her
clothes into her travel bag.
"I did not get immediate permission."
"That is not what I meant." Her tone revealed her
frustration. "I wish I had known that Austin would be picking
"I saw him in town yesterday, and he told me that he had
insisted his mother allow him to pick me up." Maddie
continued to fill her bag. Hayley puffed her cheeks as she
threw herself on Maddie's bed. She knew she was acting
childish, but she did not care. She felt as if she had been
left out of a secret.
"Even though Austin does not want to be with me, I do not
feel the same." Hayley stood up and walked to the water
basin. As she peered into the bowl, she felt as though she
could fill it with her tears. She instinctively picked up a
hairbrush from the dresser and brought it to Maddie. "Soon I
will be eighteen years old, and I have no one to love."
Maddie laid the brush in her bag, latched the top and placed
it in front of the bedroom door. She walked back to Hayley
and took her by the hand as they walked to the door. "You are
indeed a beautiful young lady, and you will find someone
wonderful." She gently placed her hand on Hayley's shoulder.
"Please do not spend your days crying over Austin Sommers."
"How long will you be away?" Hayley fought back tears.
"I do not know, but I will not be gone long." Maddie turned
and picked up her bag.
"Though I 'm a lady now, I still need you more than ever."
"I will tell you what I shall do." Maddie's eyes
brightened. "I will inform Mrs. Sommers that I will have a
need of you to deliver messages to me from Mr. Lawrence."
She paused for a bit. "I will also, if necessary, send Mr.
Sommers to deliver messages." Hayley knew exactly to which
Mr. Sommers Maddie was referring. She took the bag from
Maddie. They gave each other a triumphant glance, as they
left the room.
Hayley sat on the front porch, her eyes fixed on the road
as she waited to see Austin's carriage approach the front
gate. Maddie sat down beside Hayley, on the porch swing, to
await Austin's arrival.
"I just spoke with your father about how capable I know you
are with the housekeeping while I'm away."
"Did you also tell him that I need to bring you messages?"
Hayley could see by the puzzled look on her face that she
"Oh, Maddie." she was pricked with disappointment.
"Hayley, perhaps it will not be necessary. I should not be
away for long."
"You promised me!" Hayley rose from the swing, walked to
the railing, and leaned against it. She didn't want to look
at Maddie as she spoke. "You do not yet know how long you
will be needed." Her ears caught the sound of an
approaching horse carriage. Her heart seemed to skip a beat
as she looked up and saw her former beau approaching the
yard. As he coaxed the horses to a halt, Hayley stifled the
urge to run to him. It took only a few seconds for her to
notice that he did not seem eager to jump from the carriage
into her arms.
She wondered if the last six months had changed her so
dramatically that he did not recognize her. She thought
that perhaps with the brightness of the sun, he did not see
her standing beside the large column, above the stairway of
the porch. She didn't want to appear too eager to see him.
Austin stepped down from the carriage and walked toward the
Lawrence mansion. He noticed the fragrance of freshly
bloomed lilacs that surrounded the spacious house and the
well-groomed yard, with its huge trees that stood guard,
and supplied comfortable shade. Approaching the porch
stairway, his eyes caught sight of Hayley, and he fought
the urge to whistle. She was more beautiful and her
features were more vivid and captivating than he
"Do not be concerned, I won't bite." Her eyes sparkled.
Austin's big smile told her he had not forgotten her.
Maddie rose from the swing and picked up her bag. As she
descended the porch stairs, Austin reached for the bag as
they greeted each other. As they walked to the carriage,
Hayley ran down to Maddie and grabbed her by the arm. "Must
you leave immediately? He has come all this way, and must
surely be thirsty." She resisted the urge to look at
"He is not here for entertainment, Hayley." Her voice was
"A drink is far from entertaining," she shot back.
"Do not torture yourself." She touched Hayley's cheek
softly, and continued toward the waiting carriage.
Hayley pressed in. "You should not assume to understand my
"I have assumed nothing."
As Maddie reached the carriage, Austin reached out his hand
to help her climb into it.
Austin smiled at Hayley, walked to the other side of the
carriage, climbed up and sat down.
Hayley cleared her throat and spoke. "Mr. Sommers?" Her
expression displayed a serious urgency. "My father has
requested that I come to your estate rather frequently, to
give Miss Hawthorn messages concerning the affairs of our
home." She saw Maddie's eyes sparkled as she fought to keep
a smile from forming.
"Is that so, Miss Lawrence?" Austin picked up the horse's
"He had wanted to speak with you, regarding your driving
me; however, he has left for the afternoon."
"Is your horse lame?" He smirked.
She hated being teased. "If you do not wish to deliver me,
on Sunday afternoons, Mr. Sommers, do not give it another
thought." She turned and walked briskly toward the house.
"What time in the afternoon should I not give thought to,
Miss Lawrence?" His voice rose in volume as she walked
"Three o'clock!" She yelled, and did not turn to watch
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