It’s time for Fiction Friday! How does Fiction Friday work? Well, kind of like those old Choose Your Own Adventure stories, but with a lot more room. Read the installment of the story below. At the end, you’ll find a question. You the reader will get to determine what happens next. Leave a comment. I’ll pick one at random. You get to determine where the plot goes. So read, enjoy, and tell me what you want to happen next.
A note of consistency – I made a mistake in last week’s segment and referred to Olivia as Lady Olivia. This is inaccurate as her father is a Viscount. She would be Miss Bedford. Sorry about that!
FICTION FRIDAY – Segment 6
Olivia raised her hand, attempting in vain to hide a yawn that was anything but delicate. The sun was just starting to peak into the front drawing room as she waited for Lord Clampton and his sister and aunt to arrive. It was an unspeakably early hour by city standards. On a normal day she would still be ensconced within her covers, either deep in slumber or lazily stretching in preparation to rise for the day.
Today, however, was not a normal day. She had no idea how punctual Lord Clampton expected her to be, but until she got to know him better she figured she should err on the side of caution. His note the day before said they would be leaving his house at half past seven. Olivia figured this meant they would be arriving at her house to pick her up around eight o’clock at the earliest.
Even her father had shaken his head at the ridiculousness of the hour. Olivia smiled as she remembered him kissing her on the cheek and telling her to have a nice trip. He intended to sleep until a more civilized hour.
The morning chill dampened her cheek as she rested her head against the window pane and allowed her eyes to drift close. She probably had time to take a short nap. There was little chance he had actually left his house at half past seven, given there were two women in his party that would not be as hesitant to make him upset or tell him to wait. A strong knock on the door startled her into complete wakefulness.
Lord Clampton was standing in the doorway as she rushed into the front hall.
“Ah, good. I was worried you would be one of those women who did not value time and punctuality.”
Lord Clampton’s eyebrows climbed. “Of course. We are heading out of London today.”
“But it’s just now eight o’clock.” Olivia gestured at the elaborate clock hanging on the wall.
Lord Clampton turned to the butler, obviously seeking sanity from the only other person in the room. The loyal servant simply turned away and called for a footman to come carry her trunk out to the carriage.
Lord Clampton cleared his throat. “I believe the note said we would be leaving my house at half past seven. I had thought we would have been here a quarter of an hour ago.”
Olivia paled. “Of course,” was the only thing she could think of to say.
The footman came and carried her trunk out to be added to the pile of luggage already secured to the back of the vehicle. Lord Clampton stepped aside and offered Olivia his arm. Bemused, she placed her hand on his elbow. As they made their way to the carriage, she couldn’t help but think that this trip was going to be far more important than just an escape from London.
Minnie was all but bouncing in her seat as Olivia climbed into the carriage. “Good morning!”
Mrs. Ruggiford, sitting in the seat next to her, grunted and rolled her head back against the plush squabs. “Not morning. Middle of the night.”
Olivia bit her lip. She was awkwardly poised halfway into the carriage, unsure what to do. Minnie and her aunt were seated in the forward facing seat. Riding backward never bothered Olivia, but sitting in the other seat would mean sitting next to Lord Clampton, which really wasn’t a proper thing to do.
“Is there a problem, Miss Bedford?”
Olivia winced at the testy voice behind her. “No problem,” she called loudly. She lowered her voice to a whisper. “Minnie, I’m afraid you’re going to need to switch seats.”
“Oh!” The young girl’s eyes grew wide and she began to gather her skirts.
Mrs. Ruggiford’s hand shot out and grabbed her niece, her head still relaxed against the back of the seat. “Gets sick on the road. Can’t sit backward.”
Minnie looked sharply at her aunt before relaxing back into the seat with a chagrined shrug. “I’m afraid that is true.”
“Oh.” Olivia turned to the aunt. It went totally against the grain to ask an older woman to inconvenience herself at all, but in this case, she didn’t see the alternative. “Mrs. Ruggiford, I’m afraid I have to request –“
“I’m comfortable. And I’m old. I promise not to tell anyone where you sat.”
“Oh. Well…” Olivia supposed there wasn’t anything for it. She moved on into the carriage and began arranging her skirts in the backward seat.
Lord Clampton climbed in behind her. The seating arrangement gave him a moment of pause as well. Without a word, he sat next to Olivia, angling to lean against the side of the carriage to leave as much empty seat as possible between them.
The carriage rolled through the quiet streets of London. The occupants of the carriage were just as quiet until all they could see through the large windows was a constant line of trees.
Minnie was, of course, the one to finally break the silence. “This is so exciting. I’ve never even left Cornwall before.”
Olivia smiled at the girl’s exuberance. It was hard to remember sometimes that they were very close in age. “I suppose you’ll have to get used to it. After this trip you’ll be preparing for your London season.”
“That’s true. Mother was originally going to bring me this year but she said I need to practice talking more first and suggested this trip through the countryside. What do you suppose she meant by that? She’s always told me that I talk to much.”
Olivia took a moment to gather her thoughts. “I suppose she wants you to learn to converse on polite society topics. Have you been to any of the local society?”
“Yes, I’ve been to the assembly rooms and several card parties in Cornwall. My story of the pigs getting into the garden gathered everyone’s attention at Mrs. Coleson’s dinner party.”
Olivia’s heart went out to Minnie. “I think, perhaps, your mother is telling you that stories about pigs aren’t the best thing for London ballrooms.”
“I didn’t think of that.” Minnie’s eyes were wide enough to see white clear around the blue centers.
“Don’t you worry. Next year, we shall take London by storm. We’ll have lots of time on this trip to go over the proper things to talk about.”
Minnie clapped with glee.
Olivia turned her head to look out the window. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Lord Clampton staring at her. His lips were turned in a small smile and his eyes were kinder than she ever remembered. With a blush she turned back towards Minnie. Her attention was caught by a black box on the floor, half hidden by the girl’s skirts.
Well, readers, we have a small friendship growing between our soon-to-be lovebirds. Both want to see Minnie have a successful season in London next year. That will continue to progress. In the meantime, what do you think is going to be in the box? Is it exciting? Boring? Edible?