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Authors: Alexandra Benedict

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The Princess and the Pauper

BOOK: The Princess and the Pauper
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THE PRINCESS AND THE
PAUPER

 

 

ALEXANDRA BENEDICT

 

“You would leave without
saying goodbye?”

 

Standing under the skylight, the rest
of the corridor dark as pitch, she was the only bright spot in his
life—and the reason why he could never say goodbye.


Will I ever see you again?”
she asked.


Do you want me to ring the
front door or back when I come to visit?”


You would be welcomed,” she
returned evasively.


And who would you tell your
husband that I am?”


A friend.”


I’m not your friend,
princess.”

And she was not his friend—she was
everything to him.

He headed for the stairs
again.


Promise me you’ll play,”
she called after him.


I’m not your servant
anymore. I don’t have to follow your orders.”

She snorted. “You never followed them
when you were my servant.”

He stopped. He wanted to laugh. To cry.
He wanted to feel her arms around him. He wanted to return the
embrace this time. He wanted to kiss her. He wanted to take her
away with him and never give her up.

He wanted to die.

Grey crossed the hall. She looked at him
without fear, her brown eyes knowing and inviting. He stepped into
the circle of light, cupped her cheeks and lowered his mouth to
hers . . .

SMASHWORDS
EDITION

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination and are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely
coincidental.

 

The Princess and the
Pauper

Copyright © 2015 Alexandra
Benedikt

ISBN - 13:
978-1311973764

 

Cover Design by Wicked Smart
Designs

www.wickedsmartdesigns.com

 

Edited by Judy Roth

judy-roth.com

 

Excerpt from A Slave to
Sin

Copyright © 2015 Alexandra
Benedikt

 

All rights reserved. No part of
this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in
any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or
other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written
permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical reviews and certain other non-commercial uses
permitted by copyright law.

 

www.AlexandraBenedict.ca

 

To my great
grandmother,

Maria.

Thank you for your wise
words
:

That which
is fated is never
lost.

ALSO BY ALEXANDRA
BENEDICT

 

THE FALLEN LADIES SOCIETY

The Princess and the
Pauper

 

THE HAWKINS BROTHERS

Mistress of
Paradise

The Infamous
Rogue

The Notorious
Scoundrel

 

THE
TOO SERIES/WESTMORE
BROTHERS

Too Great a
Temptation

Too Scandalous to
Wed

Too Dangerous to
Desire

 

OTHER HISTORICAL ROMANCE

A Forbidden Love

 

ALSO BY ALEX
BENEDICT

 

BROKEN FINS

So Down I Fall

TABLE OF CONTENTS

 

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Epilogue

The Fallen Ladies
Society

Excerpt from
A Slave to Sin

About the Author

CHAPTER
1

 

Summer

London, 1878

 


Close your eyes, little
princess.”

Emily Wright placed her dainty fingers
over her eyes and rocked back and forth on her heels. Her papa had
promised her a wonderful surprise if she gained admittance to
Switzerland’s most renowned finishing academy, Chateau Mont-Choisi.
Today, the letter of acceptance had arrived.

Emily suspected her
papa’s large
donation to the academy had played an important part in the
trustees’ decision to admit her, a businessman’s daughter. But she
cared not a jot how she entered the institution, only that she
achieved her father’s dream of becoming a proper lady and marrying
a titled gentleman.

A hail
of footsteps filled the sitting room,
and she resisted the very unladylike urge to squeal with
excitement. “May I open my eyes now?”


Patience. Patience,”
came her father’s
baritone voice. He clapped his large hands together and it boomed
like thunder inside the room. The servants scurried off. “Now. Open
your eyes.”

Emily pulled back her fingers
and gasped at the assortment of dresses and bonnets and shoes and
ankle boots and
redingotes. All befitting a maturing young woman of twelve.
“Oh, Papa!”

She rushed toward the
settee
where
the apparel was spread out, fingering each and every item with
unbound curiosity and pleasure.


Do you like it,
princess?”


Like it? I love
it!”

She wrapped her arms around her
father’s waist and squeezed him with all her might.

He scooped her under her arms and hoisted
her in the air until she was level with his brown whiskers,
twitching with rollicking laughter. “Never let it be said Augustus
Wright didn’t know how to make his daughter happy.”


Never ever,” she
seconded.

He planted a kiss on her cheek before
he returned her to the ground. “I’ve one more gift for you,
princess.”

As he
motioned for someone, Emily turned
around. A boy, about her age, stepped inside the room. He had short
brown hair and gangly limbs. His trousers were clean and pressed
but very worn around the knees and ankles, his white shirt and dark
green vest much the same. He had soft brown eyes, an intelligent
look in them. He seemed uncertain, though, standing there with a
polished wood box in his hands.


Come
, Rees. Present the gift.”

The boy’s expression changed from
uncertain to willful. “It’s Mr. Rees.”


I’ll not hear an uppish
word from you, boy. Now give your new mistress the
present.”

Though his expression remained
mulish,
Rees
approached her as instructed and stretched out his arms.

Emily took the box from
him.
What a
strange, rude little boy. Why had her father hired him as a
servant?

But she quickly dismissed
the
thought
from her mind when she opened the box and found a sterling silver
vanity set with hand mirror, comb and brush. She’d recently been
allowed to wear her hair up in the pompadour fashion, a sure sign
she was maturing into a young woman.


It’s lovely,
Papa.”

The boy, meanwhile, slinked toward the
door.


Rees,” came her father’s
bass voice. “Have you been dismissed?”

The boy
stopped, turned and rolled his lips.
As he waited to be released from duty, he remained fixated on the
floor. He needed lessons in manners, Emily thought
primly.


You may go, Rees,” she
said in the same vein as her father.

His gaze lifted and connected with hers.
For a moment, she saw a proud, spirited light in his eyes, but the
gleam soon disappeared and his features turned dull, remote even.
He left the room.

She regretted not calling him
Mr. Rees as he
’d asked. But only for a second. She was mistress of the
house and she needn’t feel guilty about anything, especially
hurting a servant’s feelings.


Why did you hire him,
Papa?”


I didn’t hire him. He’s an
indentured servant.”


What does that
mean?”

Her father sat down in a nearby
armchair and opened his arms. “Come here, princess.”

She obediently stepped into his
embrace.

He cupped her upper arms. “I think you’re
old enough to know how the world works. Not every child has a rich
and doting papa, like you. In truth, young Rees is an orphan. He
lived and worked in his grandfather’s shop until his grandfather
fell behind on the rent. I seized the property and rented it to new
tenants, but old Mr. Rees still owes a debt. And what do I say
about debts?”


A debt is always to be
repaid.”


That’s right. And so, old Mr.
Rees and I formed a contract—his grandson will work for me until
the debt is paid.”


How long will he stay here?” she
wondered, disliking the idea of the gloomy boy being in the house
with her and her father, or even staying on with her father after
she left for finishing school.


Oh, it will be many years before
the debt is paid.”


Years!”


Is there a
problem?”


He’s just so . . . so . .
.”


He’s a good, strong
worker, he is.”


He’s rude.”

A sharp, barking laugh. “And you’ll
put him in his place, I’m sure.”

Emily smiled to hear her father’s
confidence in her abilities. “I’ve a few weeks before I leave for
the Continent. I suppose I can teach him some proper
manners.”


That’s my
girl.”

~ * ~

It was late, but Emily couldn’t
sleep, her spirit still soaring
high after the jubilant afternoon she had
spent with her papa. She slipped from the bed and settled in the
window seat overlooking Green Park. She still remembered the day
she and her father had moved into the house on Arlington Street.
The neighbors had been scandalized by the “vulgar money” that had
elbowed its way into their exclusive quarter. Five years later, it
was still just her and Papa, for the residents had yet to acquaint
themselves with the Wrights.

Her father had sent out
invitations and organized introductions, but the
haute ton
snubbed his efforts
to enter aristocratic circles. It was her papa’s greatest wish that
she become an accepted member of fashionable society, and the
school in Switzerland would prepare her for the role of well-bred
wife and mother. Regretfully, she had to move far away from her
father.

Emily
was eager to make his dream come
true, to become a proper lady, but she wished with all her heart
she didn’t have to travel to a new land to make it happen. Papa was
the only parent, friend, person she had in the whole wide world,
and as she looked out at the tall trees and stretching grasslands
of the park, she imagined just how wide the world really was for
one lonely little girl.

The music was ever so soft. At
first, she thought the
melody was coming from her own heart: a sad song
accompanying her sad reflections. Soon she realized the tune was
real. It sounded like the music was coming from inside the house,
so she went to the door and stepped into the hallway.

BOOK: The Princess and the Pauper
12.59Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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