If you asked among the Polite Society, Lady Sarah Torrington, was an unfortunately unique girl, from her wheatish skin to her amber eyes, from her exotic dark curls to her plump lips, from her perfectly arched eyebrows to the almost unidentifiable cleft in her chin.
But behind every matron’s fan and every gentleman’s glass, Lady Sarah Torrington was the popular illegitimate daughter of Lord William Torrington, the Earl of Canbury and an Indian woman.
And no one would dare say it loud, for her father was that powerful.
The Earl was in India when he met Sarawathi, a martial art student. She was a spitfire. Love blossomed. And a child happened. She left. Seven years later she returned, little Veera in tow. Sarawathi left her daughter Veera to the Earl and disappeared.
Lady Veera Sarawathi Torrington arrived at England with her father.
And on that day forward, she moulded herself to be a good daughter as her mother taught her to be.
Which was why she stood expressionless in her Father’s study, as he told, no informed, her about her betrothal that she never knew about.
Though she was seething inside, Veera nodded her head like an obedient daughter.
“And I hope you understand?” The Earl said.
Though everything he said previously flew over her head, she said, “Of course, Father”
The Earl nodded his head in relief. And Veera sighed as she understood why her father was so worried.
Despite being the fantasy of numerous young bucks and being surrounded by eligible bachelor’s at every ball, no one was ready to ask for her hand in marriage.
Even the five thousand pounds dowry failed to bring a man to her doorsteps.
She knew her father spent a lot of nights in his study, simply worrying over her. His fast dwindling brandy stock in the cellar was proof enough to know what he does as he worried about her.
So Veera accepted her fate as she left her Father’s study and walked up the stairs to her bedchamber.
After ranting and raving to her mirror for an entire night, Veera decided to sleep in. And did not wake up until three in the evening.
The moment she woke up, looking like a woman who just stepped out of a brawl, a maid was waiting for her with the news that her indented would be visiting on the marrow.
Veera frowned as the maid scurried along to continue whatever she was sent from. She did not know what to feel. She was sad, thinking about her Father’s predicament and the resulting decision. She was angry that he did not bother to ask for her opinion. She was bewildered that some one in the polite society was ready to marry her. She was, however, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
No man would want to marry her. She was just the current entertainment in the balls and soiree. A person the young bucks are eager to snatch and gossip mongers waiting to gossip. But she was not a person of interest when one decides to marry. No one wants a walking and talking scandal in their life.
But obviously, someone wants to marry her. Either he was a martyr or he has an ulterior motive.
As a daughter of one of the best strategist in the War Office and fierce martial art teacher, her bet was on the latter.
How did her father did not see this?
Did his worry grew that much that he failed to see what was staring at him?
Or did he want to get rid of her?
With a heavy sigh, she got up to ring for her personal maid, Beth. Beth was an uptight and caring person. Though a decade older than her, Beth at times would act like a mother hen.
When Beth entered the room, with her nose in the air, Veera told her of the impending visit from a guest the next morning. Beth gave a single nod, and went it to her walk in closet and pulled out an elegant green silk morning dress. It has a deep ‘V’ in the front and even deeper ‘V’ in the back.
Veera’s lips twisted in lips frown as she asked, “Is it absolutely necessary for me to dress up?”
Beth looked at her as if she has gone mental and said, “Of course it is! You are going to meet your soon to be husband. You must look your best.”
“You seem awfully cheered about this.” Veera noted.
“Why shouldn’t I be? You are getting married. Finally someone sees you for the wonderful person you are!” Beth said with a grin.
Veera rolled her eyes and kept her reservations to herself. There was no use alarming Beth with her theory.
The next morning:
Veera woke up early as usual and went on about her business. Like everyday, Beth arrived at her chamber the moment she rang for her.
Veera requested for a bath to be drawn. Fifteen minutes later, Veera was inside the tub relaxing and Beth was running along the chamber making everything ready.
After twenty minutes, Veera stepped out of the bath and took the towel that Beth had waiting for her. Drying herself, she pulled on a robe to break her fast.
Once done, Beth helped her with her morning dress and the jewellery associated with it. Her hair was styled with as less extravagance as possible.
With a heavy sigh, and a cheery grin from Beth, Veera went to her Father’s study. Each step heavy, as she was conscious that her last moments of freedom was soon to be snatched from her hands. She could feel her sweat beneath her white gloves. She could feel a sense of suffocation in her lungs. She could feel the weight upon her shoulders.
And soon her path ended at her Father’s study door.
And her heart thundered too.
She gently rapped on the door. A faint ‘come in’ reached her. Gathering her mother’s courage, she opened the door and stepped inside.
She dipped her head at her Father with a ‘Good Morning, Father.’
Her Father gave her his little smile that displayed his love and nodded at her. “Sarah, meet Lord Wolverston.”
Veera turned toward the man in question and curtsied maintaining eye contact. She’d be damned if she let him think she was weak. “My Lord,” she said.
The man in question, Lord Wolverston, with brunette hair, jaded green eyes, button nose, thick eye brows, long lashes, puckered lips, strong chin and a scar along it, had the nerve to look at her as if she was a cockroach.
Veera managed to snatch in her inner self from growling. She slowly rose from the curtsy with her emotionless mask intact and smiled at her father. “Will our guest join us for lunch, Father?”
Her Father smiled at her and said, “I don’t believe so, love. But aren’t you late for your session?”
With a nod she turned to the door and walked out. On her way she told the butler, “Gibson, have Mathi brought out. She and I have a business to attend to.”
The butler dipped his head and said, “Of course, my lady.”
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