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Flight of the Monarch

Book By: Aurora Michaels
Romance



Nineteenth century, Hayley Lawrence, lives with her father on Canada's Amhearst Island. His over-protectiveness and interference by others, threaten to keep her from the man she loves. As she attempts to surrender her desire for Austin Sommers, a long-kept secret is revealed that ultimately changes the course of her future.


Submitted:Mar 28, 2009    Reads: 86    Comments: 1    Likes: 0   


Chapter One
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 Amherst Island.
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 glanced upward.
"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?"
"Lawrence."
"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, muddy cloth.
"She has come by our house a few times, but I didn't know she has a son."
"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 situation."
"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 smiled.
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 trees.
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 longer exists."
"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 horse.
"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.

Chapter Two
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 ashes.
As Hayley propped herself up on her elbows, she let out a sigh that startled the woman, nearly causing her fall into the open hearth.
"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 disapproval.
"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 against it.
"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.
"Maddie..."
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 room.

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.
"Mrs. Sommers."
"Yes."
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 speechless.
"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 statement.
"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 mouth.

"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 you up."
"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." Hayley frowned.

"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 had forgotten.
"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 remembered.
"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 Austin.
"He is not here for entertainment, Hayley." Her voice was gentle.
"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 intentions."
"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 reins.
"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 away.

"Three o'clock!" She yelled, and did not turn to watch them leave.

(contact author at aurora.michaels@bellsouth.net for free e-book copy of this book.

visit auroramichaels.wordpress.com.

Flight of the Monarch can be purchased on Amazon.com





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