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Deny Thy Love

By leloo pair All Rights Reserved ©

Romance

Chapter One

Zeta woke to a loud knock on her cottage door and the animated sounds of Apollo and Artemis barking. Rolling out of bed she answered the door wearing only her undergarments, her long braided black hair in disarray as she peaked out squinting into the morning sun.

“Papa it’s early.”

Turning back to her fussy dogs she shushed them then returned wiping her tired eyes “Is everything alright?”

Augusto a tall man of 6’4 shook his head and smiled as he stepped to the side blocking out the sun from her eyes. “Damn it Zeta you’re in your underwear.” Zeta shrugged as she turned opening the door to show him in “So?”

Augusto removed his hat and sighed as he entered her kitchen and started some water for tea. “So, what if it wasn’t me?” Zeta shrugged “Who else would it be daddy, who else comes out here?”

Augusto sat out some cups as he waited for the water to come to a boil. Walking around her cottage he started opening the drapes letting in the morning sun then with a warm smile he walked back into the kitchen and took the water from off of the stove. “I need you to be on time for dinner this evening, and I expect you to arrive looking and acting like the lady I know you are.”

Zeta waited for her father to sit down then sat across from him lazily taking her hair out of its braid “Who is he?”

Augusto smiled as he poured them both a cup of hot tea. “Christopher Naples, he’s twenty-five and works for a very prestigious architectural firm in London, we met last week at a party. His firm is designing one of our new coffee houses, your brothers and I thought you two might enjoy each other’s company.”

Zeta rolled her eyes as she sipped her tea “Oh really, well then I’m sure this will be interesting.”

Augusto laughed “It usually is when it comes to you Lil bit, hard to find a man willing to even give you a chance after all the stunts you’ve pulled over the years.”

Finishing his tea Augusto stood to leave “Just try to be pleasant and look your best, I’ll send Tamara to help you get ready around six-thirty alright?”

Zeta nodded as she watched him walk out, after straightening up her cottage and finishing up a book she had been reading she headed to the stables to take a ride hoping to clear her head. When she arrived at the stables Hermes was groomed and fed and like the Hermes of legend for which he was named was fired up and ready for action. Theo the stable hand watched Zeta from the loft above as she soothed Hermes with her soft words. “If I were you, I’d make it a short ride today, your father told me to remind you that you have a special guest tonight and you’re not to be late. I assume he means another suitor has come in need of a wife.”

Zeta sighed rolling her eyes, “Yes, Theo I know, I won’t be out long.”

Zeta took the short route around the property only gone a few hours she returned feeling more refreshed yet still dreading the evening to come. It seemed to her as if her father was beginning to panic the closer she got to her eighteenth birthday as if it were a dead line that must be met. Her five brothers had all married and except for her youngest brother Caleb and his bitch of a wife Allison had all given her father grandchildren, yet he still seemed adamant about finding her a husband. She knew her father had the best intentions and only her happiness in mind but even she knew it wouldn’t matter how large a dowry he had given her when it came down to it she was different and not what most men wanted in a wife.

And as stubborn as it sounded she in no way planned to settle or change for anyone it just wasn’t in her nature and that was that. She knew when and if the right man came around everything would fall into place on its own. Returning to her cabin later that day, Zeta opened a bottle of red wine hoping to calm her nerves a bit. When Tamara arrived and found her mid-way through the bottle she laughed “You’re supposed to wait to get drunk until after you meet him.”

Zeta scoffed “Has he arrived?” Tamara nodded “Earlier this afternoon.” Zeta sighed “And?”

Tamara laughed “And he and your father have been in his study talking for the most part, he settled into his room about an hour ago.”

Zeta nodded trying to act as if she didn’t care either way, “What does he look like?” Tamara shrugged “He’s attractive, he has light-colored hair, dark eyes, looks like he comes from money by the way he’s dressed, a bit of a peacock if you ask me, but he may just be trying to impress.”

Zeta finished off her glass of wine “Did he seem nice?”

Tamara shrugged “Don’t know really, he was rather quiet when it came to the servants, no, please and thank you if that’s what you mean, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a nice man.” Tamara laughed “Hell Zeta the way you read a person you’ll know him inside and out within the first ten minutes of meeting him.”

Zeta chuckled “That’s the truth.”

Tamara started her bath while Zeta looked through her closet for something to wear hoping to get the night over with as soon as possible. When dinner time rolled around Zeta made sure to be on time, trying to please her father she left Apollo and Artemis in the hall before walking into the dining room to join her father and Mr. Naples.

Both men stood when she entered and waited for her to take her seat before they too sat. Zeta smiled politely just looking at him she knew he wasn’t for her, he looked like a peacock already more interested in her father than in her. “Will it only be the three of us this evening?”

Augusto sighed “Your brothers and their families were not able to make it, Zeta this is Christopher Naples.” Zeta sighed as he took her hand in his and kissed it, his hand felt limp and cold giving Zeta a bad impression right away. “Hello Mr. Naples, I’m Zeta Steel it’s nice to meet you.”

Signaling to one of the servants for some wine Zeta smiled “So my father tells me you’re an Architect.” Christopher smiled proudly “Yes my firm deals with many of the building sites in construction right now in London.”

Zeta took the wine handed to her and took a drink “Any that I may have heard about?” Christopher nodded “I’m designing the new Steel coffee house your family is building near the docks.”

Augusto smiled with pride “Zeta is an exceptional artist she paints and sketches.” Zeta smiled at her father’s boasts, Christopher shrugged “It’s nice that she has a hobby while she still has free time, but I’m sure that will all change soon enough.”

Zeta frowned as she finished her wine then took it upon herself to pour herself another glass. Christopher took control of the conversation wanting to get right down to business. “Zeta your father and I have discussed the possibility of you and I getting to know each other better, in fact we have decided it would be the best choice for you.”

Zeta raised an eyebrow “What exactly did you all discuss?”

Christopher shrugged “Not that you need the details but you are of a marital age and I am looking for a wife, not to mention with your sizable dowry I can open up my own firm there after giving you the riches you’re so accustom to.” Zeta nodded “Oh I see and what exactly are you expecting from your wife besides my money of course?”

Augusto sighed leaning back into his chair; Christopher didn’t seem to see what he was stepping into. Still wearing a haughty expression, he looked down his nose at her. “I of course expect my wife to be a warm, kind hearted woman that’s supportive and can manage a large household with ease. I expect her to be a good mother to our children and to always be obedient and meek.”

Zeta looked at her father and smiled then pushed out her chair and stood up “Sorry if there has been a misunderstanding but you Sir can kiss my dowry and that firm of yours goodbye, my life is not just some silly hobby and my goal in life is not to be an obedient wife and baby maker for some pompous peacock. I want adventure in my life and decorating and managing your house that I paid for just won’t do. So with that I think I have lost my appetite.”

Grabbing the bottle of wine she scowled “I said I wasn’t hungry I never said I didn’t need another drink, good evening gentlemen.”

Zeta walked out to find Apollo and Artemis patiently waiting by the door “Come on boys let’s get out of here.” Christopher looked shocked “You’re going to let your daughter talk to you and to me like that?” Augusto shrugged “She’s a complex woman and in the end it’s her choice whom she marries, and if that’s what you want in a mate it would have never worked out anyway. Sorry son but she would have eaten you up and spit you out before you could have said I do. Be that as it may your welcome to stay the night, I’d stay clear of Zeta though you’re lucky she was as polite as she was it could have gone a lot worse trust me, a lot worse.”

After a long week at work Phoenix was looking forward to relaxing with his friends. His father was hell bent on him finding a wife nearly dragging him to any and every party in town. Phoenix had no problems finding women hell with his old money and name, not to mention his striking features they all wanted a piece of him. Even as different as Phoenix was and was known to be the women of London still held him on high. Yes there was gossip, comments on his dark untimely attire, his long unfashionable hair, eccentric behavior and stand offish demeanor but in the end none of it mattered when it came to him being a desirable mate. As if money and good looks could over shadow everything else. All Phoenix knew for sure was he hadn’t met even one woman that he wanted enough to spend eternity with, and he refused to settle for anything less than his idea of perfection.

After another long drawn out argument with his father Phoenix was in need of a stiff drink and headed to the Sword and Shield tavern to meet up with Will and Tanner two of his closest friends, rogues at best yet friends all the same. Walking into the tavern he found them sitting at a table in the back Tanner with a young blonde bar maid propped up on his lap. She was laughing and giggling as he reached up under her skirt and Will sat deep in his cups with his legs propped up onto the table scooping out a whore from across the room. Seeing Phoenix they both smiled Tanner lifted the girl off his lap and slapped her ass. “A drink for my mate Renee and make it quick.”

Renee blushed as she rushed to do his bidding both Will and Tanner were tall like Phoenix both hard workers their hands black with soot from long hours working as blacksmiths. “Phoenix hell we have been waiting an hour where have you been?”

Tanner pushed a stool with his foot over to Phoenix and smiled, Tanner had been Phoenix’s best friend since they were children all the trouble they got into they got into it together. Phoenix sighed as he sat down “Sorry fella’s my father seems to think I need to find a wife before I leave for the West Indies, like all the single women will be gone when I get back or something.” Will smiled and winked at Renee when she returned, “So pick one what’s the problem?”

Phoenix laughed then took a drink “If I’m going to marry a woman and spend my life with her. I want her to be someone I actually love, a woman I want to talk to, whose strong-minded maybe even funny. Hell maybe even craves adventure as much as I do. Yes, I want her to be beautiful but that’s not all that matters, there’s a lot of beautiful women in London but they only want money, a well-known name and children where’s the fun in that.”

Will grabbed the newspaper from the table next to them and handed it to Phoenix “Have you read the gossip pages lately?” Phoenix shook his head “No why?”

Will grinned “Hell man if my name was in the paper I’d want to know what it said, you have been mentioned twice this week.”

Phoenix frowned as he looked at the gossip page reading it out loud. “A mystery to us our Phoenix Prescott has been seen walking the streets of London at the darkest hours of the night. His intention’s unknown his character morbid and obscure, his attire alone could instill fear in the ladies of London yet that doesn’t seem to keep them at bay.”

Phoenix shook his head “I have a problem sleeping so I take walks, who else is out that late to see me anyway.” Tanner shrugged “Soon enough you’ll be on your way to the West Indies maybe you’ll meet yourself some little island women.” Phoenix laughed “My father would no doubt love that, I have been planning this voyage for so long I’m counting the days until I sail. I can’t wait to see England fading behind me and an empty ocean waiting ahead.”

Tanner nodded “Will the schooner you’re traveling on be shipping any materials while in route?” Phoenix nodded “Yes Captain Crumb plans to make several stops; they make the same voyage two to three times a year so it works out well for everyone concerned. I met with the Captain yesterday to complete the arrangements; he’s a friend of my father's when my father met with him he told him I might be sailing with a wife as well. As if a London-born lady would want to spend her honeymoon on a ship surrounded by sixty or so horny men.”

Tanner laughed “You’re not lying your old man is hell bent on you getting married, I wonder why?”

Phoenix got quiet as he thought about it. Later that evening Phoenix walked back toward his and his father’s shop when he walked in his father was leaning over his desk hard at work. “Hey Pops can I ask you something?”

Webster looked up with concern “Alright Boy what’s on your mind?” Phoenix sat down “I know you want me to marry and I understand why it’s just that lately you have been almost in a panic about it. Is there a reason why? I mean you’re alright right? You’re not sick, are you?”

Webster got quiet “Are you worried I’m trying to get you married off because I’m dying?” Phoenix frowned “Are you?”

Webster walked over and sat down next to him “No son I’m not dying.” Phoenix sighed “Thank the Gods I had started freaking myself out.”

Webster laughed “I’ve been trying to marry you off because I know when you leave it may be the last time I see you. You’ll be sailing so far away and there’s a good chance you’ll start a life of your own when you get there. It could be a really long time before you return and even though I’m not sick now I may not be here when and if you get back. I just want to know that there is someone out there that loves you as much as I do. You’re my only son and it’s been you and me for so long I just want some assurance that you’ll be happy and okay.”

Phoenix smiled “I love you too, dad, and it’s not that I don’t want to marry. It’s just that I want to love the woman I marry actually like her and enjoy talking to her is that really too much to ask?”

Webster laughed “No son it’s not I was the same way until I met your mother. Let’s just give it some more time all right.” Phoenix nodded then stood up “I’m headed home you want to walk with me?”

Webster sighed as he stood and started putting away his work, “Yeah let’s lock up it’s been a long week.”

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