The Promise

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Summary

After graduation, life couldn't have been better for Delilah Evans-until tragedy struck. With a suitcase and laptop as her only possessions, Delilah now lives with her estranged grandmother in the middle of nowhere, far from home. Just when Delilah thought she was entirely alone, she has two suitors- one of them promised her hand in marriage. Can the traumatized girl sort through her feelings and find her true intended? Will Delilah keep the promise her father could not?

Genre:
Romance
Author:
angstyjane
Status:
Complete
Chapters:
9
Rating:
4.7 6 reviews
Age Rating:
16+

Chapter 1

“Attention all passengers, we will soon be landing. Please bring your seats and tray tables to their upright and locked position.”

As the clouds parted, square after square of greens and browns filled her vision where a few dirt roads crossed the land. Tiny white blobs dotted the landscape like a polka-dotted patchwork quilt. Large stands of trees served to break up the scenery, obscuring further sights of the treasured hidden beneath them.

Definitely not home.

Under any other circumstances, the young brunette would have loved an adventure to the English countryside. But not now.

The rest of the passengers scrambled to disembark. Standing upright under the overhead bin space, the tiny woman waited.

As the last businessman moved past, bumping into every chair with his generous posterior, the final passenger stepped into the aisle.

“First time here, Miss?” the flight attendant smiled.

“Yeah.”

“Welcome to England, and enjoy your stay.”

The canned air of the airport reflected the feeling of her stale spirit.

How did this happen? Why did I come?

The young traveler questioned herself for the umpteenth time and came to the same answer. Because this is what they wanted, and she is all you have left.

Pulling her small suitcase behind her, the new graduate meandered through the airport, standing on the people movers, allowing the world and everything else to pass her by.

The stores and shops that lined the passageways looked like any other at home. That brought some relief. At least they speak English here.

Attempting to delay a bit longer, the anxious girl stepped into a bookstore. Living in the middle of nowhere would be challenging when she was used to a packed school calendar. Books, however, had provided her the best company.

Muted whispers caught her attention as person after person picked up what appeared to be the latest tabloid issue. The headlines immediately made her scowl when she recognized the subject of the content.

“The Prince is ENGAGED! Who is the mystery woman?”

The front of the magazine featured picture after picture of a well-manicured, well-dressed twenty-something man. A different woman accompanied him in each photo.

A.R. Williams. No! No, no, no! Open-minded. Staying open-minded. Without making a purchase, the girl left.

When she finally reached the ground transportation area, she paused for a moment, pulling out a crumpled piece of paper from her jeans pocket.

“Miss Delilah Evans?” A deep voice interrupted her.

“Um, yes?”

“Your family sent me to pick you up.”

“My family? You mean my grandmother?"

“Actually, Miss, your fiance’s family.”

“I am not engaged. Not yet.” She sternly stated. “Do you have some form of ID or something, so I know you aren’t an ax murderer or Jack the Ripper reincarnated?”

The tall man smirked before he pulled out a security badge and an itinerary. Delilah grabbed both and stepped aside. Comparing her tiny shriveled scrap with the official document, Delilah heavily sighed again.

“Alright, Jeeves. Let’s go.”

“What color is your luggage? I’ll grab it. And, it’s Jake, not Jeeves.”

His enormous hand pulled the paperwork from Delilah.

“Thanks. I don’t have any other bags.”

“Really? How long will you be staying?”

“I have zero idea,” she sighed. ” This is all I have. Think yoga pants and sweatshirts will fit in here?”

“You might be surprised, Miss. If there’s nothing else then, please come with me.”

Jake grabbed the handle of Delilah’s bag, leaving the messenger bag for her. With both hands fisting the strap, Delilah stepped in behind the hulking figure.

The next stop? Destiny!

The journey in the well-appointed black SUV passed faster than Delilah expected. Jake pointed out various sights and landmarks along the way to her new home with mile after mile of dense trees, pastures, and tiny cobbled stone cottages.

“At least you are pleasant company, Jeeves.” Delilah smiled.

“Thank you, Miss. You aren’t too bad yourself.”

“Lilah. Call me ‘Lilah.’ Okay? Feels less formal that way.”

“I am required to be formal, Miss. Er, Lilah. But I will do my best when we are alone. I know it can be a bit stifling at times, but I am sure you will adapt.”

“Do you really think so, Jake?”

“I do.”

After a brief pause, Jake continued.

“We should be arriving at the house in about ten minutes.”

With those words barely out of his mouth, the car made a sharp right-hand turn, driving through tall wrought-iron gates. The scrollwork letter “E” caught the passenger’s attention.

“Wait. Is this a driveway?”

“Yes, Miss.”

“But you said ten minutes.”

“That is correct, Miss.”

The landscape opened from behind the gates, revealing lush farmlands. A beautiful barn and buildings sat off to the left while small homes spread across the right. Several dozen horses filled one set of pastures while cows, pigs, chicken, and sheep occupied the others.

“Is this a working farm, Jake?”

“Yes, Miss.”

“Lilah, Jake. Lilah.”

“All right, Lilah. But it will not happen easily.” Jake chuckled. “The traditional farm employs over fifty families. Your grandmother has done a wonderful job of keeping it profitable.”

Lilah felt her heart begin to race as the end of her drive neared. The sweet young woman grew up without financial difficulties. Friends considered her childhood home large but not flashy. It was comfortable. She was comfortable. Until now.

Delilah would never have imagined what greeted her when the car pulled around the circular, stone drive, however.

The impressive “country house” stood three visible stories high. Both sides of the house mirrored each other in structure and design. The crisp, clean, white-paned floor-to-ceiling windows contrasted sharply with the facade’s deep orange brick. Two smaller arched doorways flanked the prominent main door.

As soon as the car stopped, a short, slight, white-haired woman stepped onto the landing. She brushed her hands down the front of her skirt, only to remove the apron she appeared to have forgotten about. A dark-haired woman grabbed the polka dot smock and disappeared inside.

“Please wait for me to open your door. Okay, Delilah?” Jake turned, so he faced the green-eyed visitor.

“I may be new here, but I do have some clue.” She laughed before she let her smile drop. “Thank you, by the way.”

“I am just doing my job, Miss.”

“No, Jake. You have gone out of your way to make me comfortable. You have no idea how much I appreciate that. Thank you.”

“I know this is all new for you, but your grandmother is a good woman. And he is a good man. Give her a chance. Give him a chance.”

“I’ll do my best, but I make no promises.”

“Are you ready?” Jake finally asked.

“As I’ll ever be. Let’s do this, Jeeves.” After a quick fix of her hair, Delilah rolled her shoulders and took a deep breath. She grabbed her bag and waited.

The cool, fresh countryside air slammed into Lilah’s face as the car door opened. Grey clouds blanketed the sky, growing darker in the distance.

“It is now or never, Miss,” Jake held his hand out for Lilah.

Lilah placed her small palm into his, appreciating the physical and mental strength his hold provided. She stepped out, righted herself, and walked toward the waiting woman.

The two women had never met. A strained relationship kept them parted until that very moment. Delilah never knew the details and her father quickly changed the subject when his daughter brought it up. Sadness filled his eyes at the mere mention of his mother, so Delilah never pressed.

Hug? Handshake? Nod?

The older woman broke through the awkwardness and pulled the petite girl into a crushing hug.

“You look just like him. Just like him,” the woman sniffled as she held her granddaughter.

Lilah hesitated to respond until she smelled snickerdoodles, her father’s favorite cookie. Lilah gave into the overwhelming emotion and returned the embrace with equal force.

As the moment lingered a bit longer than anticipated, Lilah attempted to relieve some of the tension.

“I’m not sure if that’s a compliment, Grandma Jane. Saying I look like my dad. You know. As a woman.”

“What if I told you that people said he looked just like me?” Grandma chuckled.

“I guess that makes us family, then, huh?” Lilah smiled.

“I guess so. It seems that your father kept your grandfather’s tall genes all to himself, though,” Grandma turned Delilah from side to side, looking her up and down. “What a pretty little thing you are.”

Delilah blushed. Jane, the sweet woman she now knew as “Grandma,” didn’t match the person Delilah had imagined. So far, nothing was what she predicted.

“Let’s get inside before it starts bucketing down,” Grandma directed. “Jake, would you mind taking Delilah’s things to her quarters?”

“Will do, Madam.”

“Aren’t you going to bring the rest of her things?”

With the suitcase and messenger bag in hand, Jake stopped in front of the lady of the house. “This is all the young miss brought, Madam.” He then disappeared into the grand building. With one eyebrow raised, Jane looked at her granddaughter and smirked. “I guess some shopping is in order. Why did you bring so little?”

“I had just come back from a week away with classmates when everything happened. I have a few miniskirts, some jeans, tee-shirts, and crop tops, but, yeah...” Delilah’s voice trailed off as she rubbed the back of her neck. “This is all I have left, Grandma.”

“I didn’t quite think about that.” Jane turned toward the house as she linked her arm in her granddaughter’s. “The gentleman’s family is eager to meet you, and I am sure you are anxious to meet them, so we have an early brunch with the elders tomorrow. They are very formal in every regard, so this will proceed the more traditional way. As such, they sent some clothing for you. I’m sure you can find something suitable until we can purchase more.”

Jane stopped in the grand foyer.

“First, let’s get you settled and fed. I’m sure it was a long journey.”

“But I think the longer journey is still ahead,” Delilah muttered.

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