The rain drenched her from head to toe in seconds. The cold water stung her exposed scalp as she operated through the courtyard towards the stables. No one was about; everyone was sheltering from the storm that lurked overhead. To her advantage the stables were empty; she made quick work of saddling up a pony before she galloped out into the pouring rain once more.
Behind her she could hear wails but they grew silent as she put more and more distance between them. Veering off the track, Georgiana steered the pony towards the dark woods. In the daylight the timbers looked harmless and Georgiana and her siblings had spent many afternoons investigating and hunting through the thick trees. But now as she raced towards them, they appeared eerie and intimidating under the grey clouds that swirled overhead.
She knew where she was going. She knew the way like the back of her hand, weaving skilfully through the trees. Her mind was racing, running over everything her parent has just said. This was her punishment. This is what she deserved.
Her father had feigned not to know about her involvement in saving Benjamin. He had manipulated Alex into thinking she was off the hook and that he had taken the penalty. He had been scheming it all along, she hadnt been penalise for running away and she hadnt been penalized for trying to interfere with the Kings orders. Now was the time to serve her punishment , now she was betrothed to a human “shes never” met.
Hot tears inundated her vision and fell down her cheeks, a stark contrast to the ice cold rain that also dripped from her face and hair.
The sky illuminated with a bolt of white lightning. It cut across the sky like shattered glass followed by a tremendous clap of thunder that shook Georgiana to the bone. Beneath her, the horse reared onto its hind leg in dread and she held on tightly to the reins. Spotting the familiar stream in the distance she tried to calm the pony to a walking. She reached the creek at the same time as someone called out her name from behind.
There was another flash of lightning followed by a roll of thunder, this time as the pony reared up in fright, Georgiana was hurled backwards and landed awkwardly on the wet ground. The horse galloped away at the same time as a hooded figure emerged through the rain. Georgiana watched from the ground as the figure dismounted their horse and rushed over to her. They collapsed onto their knees beside her, arms stretched out searching for any physical injuries.
Are you hurt? She knew that voice.
Francis, She breathed and pulled back the hood of his shawl so that it revealed his short brown hair and his concerned expression.
Taking in the red, blotchy skin around her eyes, he gripped her face in his large hands, Are you hurt? He asked again, wiping away the rain and tears that fell down her cheeks.
When Georgiana didnt say anything, he grew more concerned. Gee, are you hurt? Please tell me. He implored. He took his hands away from her face and slowly traced her limbs and then her legs for any sign of injury.
She hated weeping in front of people, especially Francis. In that moment she couldnt help it, she let the tears mix with the rain.
I dont want to marry a stranger, she thought.
Gee, you have to tell me whats incorrect. Prove me where youre hurt? Francis begged as he pulled off the shawl and wrapped it around her shivering body.
She appeared up at him through her eyelashes and watched as the rainfall started to soak his hair and uniform. Mutely, she reached across the small space between them and clasped her hand around his. His eyes watched carefully as she lifted his hand and placed it over her heart.
My father Her voice was almost muted against the heavy rain fall and as if on cue another rumbling of thunder crossed the sky. Francis tensed at the mention of the King. Her hand tightened around his as she told, Im engaged.
Francis froze. All the air left his lungs and he felt like his heart had been stomped on by an invisible force.
What? He breathed.
Hes announcing it at the ball. Georgiana told shaking from the cold.
When? Francis demanded. There was fire in his eyes.
She squeezed his hand harder and pressed it closer to her chest, In a few days-
-No, Francis interrupted his temper rising, No, when were you going to tell me? He had turned his head away, refusing to look at her.
Her heart tightened. What?
Francis snapped his gaze back onto her, When were you going to tell me youre engaged? Before or after I fell into your bed? He couldnt keep the anger from his voice.
Georgiana gasped as he rent his hand away from hers. She watched dumfounded as he stood up and paced in front of her.
Francis She said softly, trailing off as he stopped pacing and gazed down at her.
Why didnt you tell me? Do you have any compassion for my feelings on the matter? Does Alex know? Lord, he knows. He ran his hands through his wet hair and pulled on the ends.
Georgiana stood and adjusted the cloak so that it hung securely around her shoulders. She reached out and gently placed a hand on his upper arm.
Francis, what are you talking about? Ive only just been told myself. She told trying to sound pacify when her heart was beating fast in her chest.
Francis released his tight grip on his hair and looked over at her, a confused look upon his face.
I dont even know who he is? Or where he comes from, I know just as much as you do. She said sadly. I dont want to marry-
His lips collided with hers, stillness the name of the man who threatened to come between them. One hand cupped the back of her head while the other held onto the side of her face. He kissed her like he detested her, hard and fierce. Like at any moment she might disappear before his eyes. He didnt dislike her; he disliked the idea of losing her. The suppose alone made him clench his eyes shut and press his lips against hers more ferociously. He moved the hand that was behind her head to the back of her neck, gripping it tightly as their mouths moved together. When a small, delicate moan vibrated low in her throat, Francis grip loosened and he broke apart their lips. Maintaining his eyes shut, he savoured the audio and the feel of her erratic breathing as their lips remained close enough to touch.
They had both forgotten the storm that swirled above them high in the sky. The rainfall was like a second skin to them now and Georgiana had stopped shaking, the kiss had ignited a flame within her.
Georgiana leaned forward and whispered against his lips, I dont want him. Opening her eyes she found his were shut, a shaky breath escaped his lips. She smiled and moved a hand up to brush away the creases in his forehead. His hands dropped from her head and neck and he wrapped his arms around her waist, bringing her flush against his body.
I want you. Francis lips were back on hers in a heartbeat as if those were the words he had been desperate to hear. Georgiana smiled into the kiss.
He kissed her like she was his last breath.
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