Friday, November 6, 2015

Only a Kiss ~ Part 17

“I will set you up on dates with eligible bachelors of wealthy status. At the end of the month you will pick one to court exclusively, which should result in a proposal by the end of the year and a wedding in the next,” stated Tilde nonchalantly.
“And what if I don’t like any of the men you pick for me? What if I cannot love them?” asked Ana.
“Not an option.” Tilde narrowed her eyes. “If you don’t choose a gentleman of my approval, I’ll throw you out on the streets.”
“You wouldn’t.” Ana’s hand flew to her mouth. “Mother, would you really throw me out onto the streets?”
“I wouldn’t want to,” said Tilde. “But it would be for your own good. You have to learn how this world works. If you can’t make it on your own, you find a man to take care of you. So what is it going to be Ana?”
Ana knew she had no choice. She had no job, no place to crash, and no one to turn to. She bowed her head. “Okay,” she whispered.
“Okay what?” asked Tilde, jutting her chin.
Ana looked her mother straight her eyes. “I agree to your plan.”
Ana turned and walked to her bedroom, not waiting for her mother to say anything else. What else was there to say? Tilde had gotten her way and now Ana was doomed to live a life in a marriage of convenience.
She closed her door and let her tears fall. She was careful to stay quiet in her grief so her mother wouldn’t hear her. She didn’t want to give Tilde the satisfaction of knowing she had made her cry. Ana took a deep breath.
“Maybe it won’t be so bad,” she said to herself. “Maybe Mother will find me someone special, someone I will fall in love with. This doesn’t have to be the end to my happy ending. I could get lucky.”
Ana laid down and fought real hard to believe her own words.

****

“Stop fidgeting,” ordered Tilde.
Ana dropped her hand and tried really hard not to continue to chew on her thumb nail. It had taken Tilde less than a week to set to find a date for her. Ana couldn’t imagine where Tilde found her men. It was almost as if she had a black book full of eligible bachelors straight out of Forbe’s Magazine.
“What was his name again?” Ana asked.
“Neptune Duncan,” said Tilde with a sigh. “I’ve told you a dozen times, Ana, pay attention. His father owns half the fishing vessels on the east coast and his mother owns the other half.”
“Oh yes, the god of the sea.” Ana rolled her eyes. Only a family with old money and bigger egos would name their kid such a ridiculous name. She would know, Tilde named her after Anastasia Romanov the Grand Duchess of Russia.
There was a knock at the door and Tilde clapped her hands at Mandra to answer it. “Now Ana, remember you are a Durrant and you will act with the elegance that is known for. Remember the consequences if you don’t.”
“Yes Mother,” said Ana.
“Excuse me, Madam,” said Mandra. “Mr. Duncan to see Miss. Ana.”
Ana smelled Neptune Duncan before he entered the living area from the entry way. It was a mixture of musk and rotting citrus.  She fought the urge wrinkle her nose. Neptune entered, his black hair slicked back by so much gel he reminded Ana of a Ken doll with plastic hair. He wore an expensive Italian suit, the same color as his hair. He reached out and grabbed Ana’s hand.

“Good evening, Ana,” said Neptune in a very thick and obviously fake Italian accent.

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