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Chapter 3

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"A cold word from a cold man sends shivers throughout my body but my heart remains warm." Sonya Watson, The Tide Breaker


Chapter Three

"Do not speak unless you are spoken to," Annaliese's mother instructed as they approached Cassidy House.

"And then do not say anything too intelligent when he does speak to you. None of that arithmetic nonsense. A gentleman does not like to be corrected by a woman," her father added.

"Do not forget to smile," Jane continued. "You can be quite pretty if you smile, Annaliese. You need to attract this man."

Her mother had nearly given her a compliment. Annaliese resisted raising her eyebrows. Annaliese sat in between her sisters in their small carriage. It was cramped and uncomfortable and she could not wait to stretch her legs. Unfortunately, when she did stretch her legs it would mean that she had arrived and her fiancé was on the other side of a door.

Jane leaned forward and pinched Annaliese's cheeks. Hard. Annaliese winced but did not complain. "You need colour, Annaliese," she murmured. "You look dreadful."

"That must be it," Julian muttered as he looked out of the window. "Cassidy House."

Annaliese and her sisters all turned to look out of the window. They were, indeed, approaching a stately home.

The large, redbrick Tudor mansion was imposing. On any given day, if she were merely touring the county, Annaliese would have been excited to view such a house. But to her, in this moment, it looked like a prison. Her prison.

The Dawsons were travelling down a long, wide, gravel driveway. On either side of the driveway were expansive lawns and manicured gardens that concealed areas of the garden. Annaliese wondered just how large the grounds were. What did his children need a mother for if they had such a garden to play in?

The house itself, while imposing, was very impressive and beautiful. There appeared to be several sections to the house, and there were at least a dozen chimneys all puffing out smoke. The windows were large and white, and ivy was growing up the sides of the building sporadically.

"What I would have given to have had a house like this," muttered Jane as she stared at the house in awe. Jane was never one to conceal her desire for a more expensive lifestyle.

Julian merely rolled his eyes.

"If this is to be your house then you are lucky, Annaliese," Eleanor said excitedly. Annaliese adored her sister's naivety. The house could be a shack for all she cared, she was still being promised to a man that she had never met, and she could not refuse him even after they met.

"You must invite Eleanor and me to stay often, Annaliese," Isabella added. Isabella seemed just as excited and as in awe of the house as the rest of her family. Annaliese was doing this for Isabella more than anyone. For if she did refuse, it would be sixteen-year-old Isabella marrying the baronet.

"Annaliese will be inviting us all to stay often, Isabella," Jane interjected, giving Annaliese a warning glance. "The minute you are married you will be the mistress of this house, Annaliese. That means that you will control the house, the household, and your husband. Once you have control of your husband, you will then have access to his ledger." Julian barely acknowledged the fact that his wife had practically insulted him.

On the bright side, Annaliese only had a small amount of time left where she had to listen to her mother. Jane wanted Annaliese to have control of Sir Matthew Cassidy, no doubt for her own financial gain. Annaliese would not allow Jane to steal from the Cassidy family. She had already bankrupted her own family. "Why would I want to access his ledger?" asked Annaliese nonchalantly.

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