Mary Bennett found it hard to believe the invitation. Doran Ward had to read it to her, Doran, the knight who was staying at her house for a short while. Only until Christmas, that is.
An invitation for tea from a Duchess of Haverford. Why shouldn’t she go? But then, could she leave Doran in her crumbling manor all alone? The knight had a limp and could barely walk. Surely he could not get into too much trouble, given his condition, and likewise be able to handle himself for the duration of tea.
Somehow, the moment she decided to go while holding the invitation, Mary blinked and was no longer sitting at a small table in her kitchen but at a larger, circular table across from a lady in fashion quite unlike anything Mary had ever seen before.
“Mistress Bennett! I am so delighted you can join me for tea.”
Mary did her best to not gape everywhere in wonder. Where was she? Had she fallen asleep? Was this merely a dream?
The duchess clasped Mary’s hand. “Is tea sufficient, or do you prefer something else?”
“Tea would be wonderful. Thank you,” Mary whispered.
The duchess poured for them both. “Biscuits and the like will be ready shortly. My dear, you look rather upset. What all is troubling you?”
Mary shook her head. Honestly, it was more what wasn’t troubling her. Between her manor being in disrepair, the wounded knight, and her lie that her husband still lived, she did not know how she was managing anything, quite frankly. “Nothing I can’t handle,” Mary informed the duchess, and she so hoped she had the right of it.
Her Wounded Heart is Nicole Zoltack’s story in the Never Too Late collection. Every Monday for the next little while, one of my fellow Bluestocking Belles will bring their hero or their heroine along to meet the Duchess of Haverford. I hope you’ll join us to learn more about them and their stories.
Never Too Late has its own page on the Bluestocking Belles website, where you can learn more about each story and find preorder links while they are being added. (It’s 99c while in preorder, so buy now.)