Monday, 18 May 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015 -

Libby and the Mountain Man

by India Heath
Published: Mar 18, 2015
Words: 28,163
Category: western, romance
Orientation: M/F
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Boston, 1870.

"Elizabeth? Elizabeth Jane Mayfield, you answer me right now, young lady, or I swear I'll take my hairbrush to your behind."

Libby sighed and stood up from the rug in front of the drawing room fire. She wasn't really hiding... more avoiding her mother. Chester, her mother's toy poodle, opened one lazy eye to see why he was no longer being stroked. "Sorry boy." She smiled softly, revealing straight white teeth. "But your mistress beckons me."

"Elizabeth, where are you?"

Her mother's tone was growing ever more impatient and Libby rushed out into the grand hallway before she really did earn herself a spanking. "I'm here, Mother."

The elegant Grace Mayfield descended the wide sweeping staircase, her turbulent expression at odds with her serene posture. "For goodness sake, look at you," she announced as her eyes critically took in Libby's grey woollen dress. "Doctor Kenton will be here in ten minutes and you look like a servant girl. Why aren't you wearing your blue velvet dress? I had Emily lay it out for you this morning."

After her morning bath, Libby had seen the heavy blue gown laid on the bed but had ignored it in favour of a soft woollen one. "This one is more comfortable," she replied honestly.

Grace Mayfield, even in her mid forties, was still an attractive woman. She had good bone structure, bright cornflower blue eyes and natural elegance. Unfortunately disapproval was now marring her beauty. "Comfortable?" her mother all but spat. "A lady never secured a marriage proposal by being comfortable. Now go upstairs and change at once." Libby shuddered at the very idea of being married to Doctor Arthur Kenton. Grace's frown melted into an encouraging smile. "I do believe he intends to pop the question this afternoon." Her frown returned. "But not if you are dressed like some scruffy little ragamuffin. And for heaven's sake, do something with your hair."

Self consciously, Libby twirled a strand of long blonde hair around her finger. She had inherited her mother's beauty but remained sweetly oblivious to it. "Mother, I'm not going to marry Doctor Kenton. I have told you this already. So whatever I'm wearing or whether or not he proposes, really doesn't matter."

Angry colour suffused Grace's high cheekbones. "And I have told you, young lady, that you'll do as I tell you and accept the good Doctor's proposal. The man is rich and a prominent member of Boston's high society. You will not get a better offer."

"But he's over fifty years old and he smells of tobacco and moth balls."

Grace shrugged. "His age is of little consequence. What is important is his ability to keep this household financially secure. You know how we are fixed since your father died. There is barely enough money left to pay the staff. If you do not marry well, we will be destitute before the year's end. Doctor Kenton comes from a premier family, he is a perfect catch."