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Chapter 7

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"They say all marriages are made in heaven, but so are thunder and lightning." Clint Eastwood

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Chapter Seven

"My solicitor, Charles Blakeney, has drawn up this contract for us, Mr Dawson," said Matthew formally. His solicitor had begrudgingly drawn up the contract that would mean Matthew was legally obligated to support the Dawsons. Charles was not particularly impressed with Matthew, but Matthew appreciated the fact that his long-time solicitor was always looking out for his family's best interests.

Julian Dawson happily perused the document that would ensure his family's financial security. As soon as the document was signed, they would all be journeying to the village church. Matthew and Annaliese would be married in a matter of hours.

Matthew was feeling quite anxious about it. He had done his best to avoid Annaliese over the past fortnight. She had been a good sport about it. She never complained. Annaliese put up with him. Perhaps that was what made her the right choice for a bride. He really was being rude to her, but he could not bring himself to spend time with her, not after that dream. It had been so vivid, so realistic, like a prediction of the future.

Julian paused as he read the contract and he furrowed his eyebrows. "There is one section in this contract that I do not understand, sir," he murmured.

"Yes?" he prompted.

"It says here that if my wife or I ever raise our hands in violence to our children then this contract is null and void." Julian clenched his teeth. "I do not see how our disciplinary methods are any of your business."

Matthew's eyes narrowed. "Your disciplinary methods became my business when I saw your wife harm my wife," he said tensely. "I would never raise my hand in anger to my wife or my children, and neither shall you if you sign this contract."

Julian was quick to concede. Clearly the promise of money was more tempting than his former disciplinary regime. Julian dipped his quill in ink and proceeded to sign the contract. "I hope you enjoy your new wife, sir," Julian mumbled.

Matthew did not particularly like Julian's choice of words, but he smiled nevertheless. "Annaliese will be very comfortable here, Mr Dawson," he promised. The men then shook hands and Julian went off to find his family so that they could travel to the church.

Matthew returned to his bedchamber to put on his wedding suit. Annaliese's mother and sisters were very fine seamstresses. Jane, no matter how questionable a character, had quickly made him a waist coast out of the same ivory silk that Annaliese's dress was to be made from. He was also wearing his best black coat, and a fresh pair of trousers, and clean, shiny boots.

Matthew could have never imagined that he would have been dressing for another wedding after his first marriage.

He had been so young when he had met Harriet. Matthew had been just eighteen when he and Harriet had met at a garden party hosted by Harriet's parents. He had only just completed his education, and he was contemplating going to university.

Those plans had gone out the window when he had met the beautiful Harriet Hanley. Harriet had been a tall, voluptuous woman, with dark hair, hazel eyes, and a wicked smile to match her personality. Matthew had enjoyed Harriet's outgoing attitude. She was unlike any other woman that he had ever met. She never hid her thoughts on subjects, always spoke her mind, and was very forceful and stubborn.

He had very quickly fallen in love with her, and all plans of university evaporated.

They became engaged at the end of the summer, and Harriet made it no secret that she wanted a big family. She had been an only child, and she wanted lots of children to fill the void that she had had as a little girl.

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