The Bad Luck Wedding Night, Bad Luck Wedding series #5 (Bad Luck Abroad trilogy) (7 page)

BOOK: The Bad Luck Wedding Night, Bad Luck Wedding series #5 (Bad Luck Abroad trilogy)
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I understand that pursuing an annulment might eradicate that problem. However, I am loath to give up my title. You see, brides adore having the Countess of Innsbruck arrange their weddings, and, selfishly, I want my business to succeed.

On that note, I will close. Please give my regards to Doctor Morrell.

Your loving daughter, Sarah

 

 

September
3, 1879

Kabul, Afghanistan

 

Dear Sarah,

I understand you have not yet sought to have our marriage annulled. It appears you have made a financially rewarding decision. It is just past dawn here in Kabul, and Heratis rioters are outside the Residency compound, demanding the blood of those within. I believe it likely you will be a widow before noon.

If this note should someday make its way to you, know I thought of you fondly on this long, bloody morn.

Nick

 

 

December 1879

G
alveston, Texas

 

Dear Abigail,

Merry Christmas. I hope you and your family are doing well. I'm still hoping to get to California for a visit soon. I'm so anxious to meet your darling twins. Also, please convey my congratulations to Jerry in regard to his promotion. The railroad is lucky to have him.

In reply to your latest letter, yes, I was quite relieved to see Nicholas Ross's byline in the New York Herald last week. These past weeks have been difficult, as I found myself beset with worry over his safety. It is good to know that our prayers for his continued good health have been answered.

It is also good to have such a dear friend as you with whom to share the burden of this secret about my husband's occupation that I have chosen to keep. Know that I recognize the blessing of your friendship.

Having received the good news, my interest returns to my work. In regard to that, I am enclosing newspaper clippings of the most recent Weddings by Lady Innsbruck. Notice the last line in the Garrison-Miller nuptials. "Once again, Lady Innsbruck has proven that Galveston brides can always count on a countess." I laughed with delight to see it.

More notes about the weddings on the enclosed pages. I hope to see you soon.

Love, Sarah

 

 

January 1881

Fort Worth, Texas

 

Dear Nick,

 

As I sit down to write, I find myself wondering in what corner of our world this letter will reach you. Wherever it is, I hope it finds you well.

I received a packet of your letters to me via the Herald yesterday, and I read them with great pleasure. Such a life of adventure you are leading! Your story about the goats and the village children in Kashmir made me laugh out loud.

Nick, I was gladdened to read that you find my own letters to be a comfort it amazes me, in truth, as my notes are filled with little more than inconsequential tidbits of my life in Texas. After much consideration, I concluded that reading my letters about the place that was for a short time your home might be similar to wrapping oneself in an old, familiar quilt on a snowy afternoon.

I also find it a little bit amazing that we've managed to develop a friendship of sorts through our letters. Who would have thought three years ago it could be so? Obviously, in our case distance has made the heart grow fonder.

Now, on to "old quilt" business. I am pleased to announce a change of address. I have recently formed a partnership with two fine ladies of excellent reputation and talent and have returned to Fort Worth. Do you remember Trace McBride and his three mischievous girls? Trace's brother Tye moved to town and both men have married. Trace's wife, Jenny, has made quite a name for herself designing wedding gowns. Tye's wife Claire is a baker of extraordinary talent whose wedding cakes are in great demand by brides in Texas. The three of us compliment one another's specialties quite nicely.

I am excited about this venture, which we are calling Lucky in Love Weddings. Coming home to Fort Worth proved to be a pleasure, and I do so adore the McBride family. Someday I'll tell you the stories surrounding the romance between Trace and Jenny and Tye and Claire. They're quite humorous tales involving a Bad Luck Wedding Dress and a Bad Luck Wedding Cake. I find it somewhat ironic that despite the success of our ceremony and the "bad luck" label their weddings endured, their marriages have turned out exceptionally happy while ours... well... enough said.

I must draw this letter to a close as I have an appointment pending. I promise to write again within the week and tell you what Wilhemina Peters has been saying in her "Talk About Town" column for the Daily Democrat. As a fellow newspaperman, you no doubt share a professional interest. That will give you enough "old quilt" news to keep you warm for a month!

Before I close, I'd like to ask a question. In one of your articles in the Herald last summer you mentioned the beautiful silks available for sale in a remote Asian bazaar. Since my friend Jenny (the dressmaker) is forever on the lookout for quality silks, we wondered if fabric similar to what you described is available in any markets accessible to foreign trade. Do you have any information about this?

Take care, Nick. You remain, as always, in my prayers.

Sarah

 

 

Winter 1882

Tashilhunpo, Tibet

 

Dear Madam Sarah,

 

Within the trunk that accompanies this letter you will find bolts of silk, China satin, a collection of precious curiosities, and three Tartar carpets. Please accept them as tokens of my esteem for the Babu Nicholas Ross, whose timely supply of smallpox vaccine saved many lives among my people.

Losan Palden, Senchen Lama

Chief Minister to Panchen Lama

 

 

Spring 1883

Hunterbourne Manor

 

Dear Sarah,

It is with no great regret that I write to inform you of the death of my father, the Third Marquess of Weston. I have returned to England and presently reside at Hunterbourne, where I have assumed responsibility for my three sisters. Any correspondence that requires my signature may safely be dispatched at this time.

Weston

 

 

Spring 1883

Fort Worth, Texas

 

Dear Nick,

I would offer my condolences, but I believe I know you well enough to predict you do not want them.

So, you are Weston now and no longer Innsbruck? I swear I do not understand this entire title protocol. All I know is that you have changed names more often than any other man of my acquaintance. I, however, have no wish at this time to change mine.

Sarah

 

 

Summer 1884

London

 

Dear Sarah,

I write to you adrift from the treacherous waters of the ton. Please accept my apology if my latest letter offended. However, I fear this one may be no better. During the year since my return to England, my acclimation to what is referred to as "Polite Society" has been less than polite, and, I fear, reflected in my correspondence.

I am in the process of seeing my oldest sister, Charlotte, launched into Society. The marriage mart is an ugly business and somewhat reminiscent of the slave markets of Calcutta I see no end to it in sight, either, because waiting in the wings for their turn at a Season are my sisters Melanie and Aurora.

Please continue to pray for me, Sarah. I do believe I'd prefer a nice, violent Afghan war to this ordeal.

Weston

 

 

Summer
1885

Fort Worth, Texas

 

Dear Mother,

That man is up to his tricks again. I pity his sisters. I've lost track of the number of offers he's refused for his sister Charlotte's hand. How could the same man who scaled the Himalayas fail so miserably at brokering a marriage for his sibling?

In his latest letter, he asks for my advice. I intend to give it. I suspect he won't like what I have to say.

Your loving daughter, Sarah

 

 

Fall 1885

Hunterbourne Manor

 

Dear Sarah,

I have given your letters of the past few months a substantial amount of thought, and I have decided to relax some—not all—of my standards concerning the men who court my sisters. I am persuaded not only by your arguments, but also because Charlotte is threatening fratricide should I scare off another beau, and Melanie tells me that if I ruin her debut the way I spoiled Charlotte's she'll find a way to make my time in the Khan's rat pit resemble a holiday.

Weston

 

 

January
1886

Hunterbourne Manor

 

Dear Sarah,

I trust this finds you well and that the McBride Monsters have not caused an inordinate amount of havoc in the city since your last letter.

The wedding gown arrived safely. Charlotte declared the McBride design far superior to a Worth gown. She looks like a princess wearing it. My compliments and sincere gratitude to your partner.

Weston

 

Spring 1886

Fort Worth, Texas

 

Dear Nick,

Regarding your letter of March 11th Have you completely lost your mind?

I can only imagine Charlotte's humiliation. She has my most heartfelt sympathies for various reasons. Having you for a brother numbers first among them.

Nick, I understand why you had her fiancé investigated. Obviously it needed to be done. However, I cannot fathom how a man of your experience managed to hire such an incompetent detective. Any man worth his salt would have discovered something as significant as the groom's predilection for dressing in women's clothing long before the wedding day itself. Then, for you to stand up at the church and publicly withdraw your consent for the marriage in front of half of London. Poor Charlotte. I wouldn't speak to you either.

Really, Nick. Couldn't you have found a more subtle way to accomplish your goal? Hasn't subtlety been your stock in trade for years now? What were you thinking?

Sarah

 

 

Spring 1886

Rowanclere Castle, Scotland

 

Dear Sarah,

What was I thinking, you ask? At the time, I was still reeling from a startling piece of news. Shortly before the investigator arrived with his report on the morning of Charlotte's aborted wedding, I received word that Flora and Gillian Ross—the sisters of my heart if not my blood—are alive. They were not with their parents at the time of the carriage accident. They, along with another younger sister of whose birth I was unaware, are living a day's journey from the Highland village where we grew up.

My father, the villain, either knowingly lied or simply didn't care that my foster sisters were left mostly to fend for themselves.

My mind was still reeling with this news when I learned that Charlotte's groom liked wearing garters. I traveled immediately to Scotland, where I am enjoying a joyous visit with Gillian, Flora, and young Robyn. One good thing, both Gillian and Flora are already married, so I'm only responsible for marrying off four sisters.

Four sisters. Four fiancés. Lord, help me.

Yes, I handled the situation with Charlotte poorly. I hired an inept detective, which resulted in my breaking the cardinal rule of Society: Thou shalt not make a scandal.

A thought occurs to me, Sarah. A quality wedding consultant would have stepped in and diffused the situation. It seems like I hired badly all the way around.

Next time I must do better.

Weston

 

 

Summer 1886

Glencoltran Castle, Scotland

 

Dear Lord Pratt,

I was glad to learn you enjoyed a safe return to London from your holiday in the Scottish Highlands. In answer to the questions you posed in your letter, I, too, was pleased to make your acquaintance during your visit, and you are certainly welcome to call at Weston House upon our return to London from our stay here at my brother's Highland retreat. In fact, my brother tells me he intends to respond affirmatively to your request to pay me suit. You should know I am quite pleased with his decision.

Alas, I cannot tell you when to expect us. Not only is my brother renewing his relationship with my new sisters, Flora, Gillian, and Robyn, but he appears to have formed an attachment with another visitor from England, Lady Steele.

My lord, I have a great favor to ask of you. Under ordinary circumstances, I would never think to make such an indiscreet request, but I am so very worried, and I've no one else to ask. Besides, as you mentioned in your letter, I also feel as if you and I have known each other forever.

The boon I seek from you is whatever information you are able to provide about Lady Steele. She seems to have quite an interest in my brother; but my sisters and I are less than enthusiastic about their relationship.

Your friend, Lady Charlotte Ross

 

 

Summer 1886

Condon

 

Dear Lady Charlotte,

I was thrilled to receive your most recent letters. I count the days until your return.

BOOK: The Bad Luck Wedding Night, Bad Luck Wedding series #5 (Bad Luck Abroad trilogy)
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