~ Meet the Six Sisters of Shame ~
The Six Sisters of Shame are all very different from the average Late Victorian young woman of 21. First, of all, most young women are married by then. In contrast, none of the six Marsh daughters are married, nor do they ever plan to be.
Secondly, Douglas Marsh cannot afford to buy all his daughters dresses for the constant balls where young ladies are courted.
Instead, each girl gets to choose two dresses and they may either wear one while the other is being washed, or barter with their sisters.
Since six identical young ladies will frighten and upset everyone, only one daughter is allowed to be out in public at a time. They have created a schedule and all the men will align to it. No exceptions will be made.
Douglas offered three of his daughters, Arial, Rose, and, Alice to unhappyly married men who are unloved and unappreciated in their social marriages. A young doctor, Francis, whom Douglas loves like a son, was matched with Charity. And the final fellow is not actually a gentleman. He is the bastard child of one of Queen Victoria’s sons. He and his mother were tossed into Bedlam and his ‘father’ made no effort to rescue them. Once his mother died, Sinjin was tossed from Bedlam and went into the Navy. He rose in the ranks and became a very fine Captain, only the papers reported on his grand deeds, and shortly after, he was decommissioned. He returned to the docks, where he now runs the only honest gambling hell. Douglas thinks very well of the fellow and matches him with Salise, his most challenging daughter.
Only one daughter has requested to choose her own special friend, once her sisters are settled.
All the dresses are 1892 styles. As you can see, the styles are in a flux which allows each of the daughter to pick what suits her.
Arial’s body seemed to illuminate with a sense of power. When she struck the first chord, John was captivated. As she played, all her chatter about trying to reach perfection made sense, except to his ear, she’d found it. She played each piece far better than he had ever heard before. However, when it came to the last piece, her own composition, he sensed the difference. She truly had moved closer to the ultimate perfection.
By the time she struck the last chord, he was completely in love with her. Oblivious of Douglas and his wife, he walked to the piano and knelt before her. “That was the finest music I have ever heard.”
“Even finer than Jora played today?”
Arial smiled happily and rewarded him with a kiss. It began soft and chaste but then her lips parted and her tongue teased at his lips. He found it impossible not to respond. Thus, he had kissed her thoroughly before he acquired the willpower to break it off and step back. He looked around, uncertain what he would say to Douglas and Angelica. To his relief, they were gone. He and Arial were alone in the music room.
“I apologize for taking advantage of you like that,” he said.
Her lovely face etched in pain. “Did you not enjoy my kiss?”
“I enjoyed it very much. It’s only, I should not have done so?”
Her eyes turned glassy. “Do you not like me then?”
He returned to her. “Arial, nothing could be further from the truth. But you deserve better than me. I am a married man. I can offer you nothing in return for your love.”
Her eyes remained wounded. “You would not offer me love in return for mine?”
“I would, but—”
Joy transformed her face. “That is all I want. Love for love. A love of music to share equally. Nothing else matters.” She stroked his face and sighed. “It is that rigid puritanical backbone that makes you pause.”
She studied his face and closed her eyes as her arms encircled him and held him tight. “Well, perhaps in time, I can convince the outer layer of romance to ignore that backbone.”
An hour later, John entered Douglas’ library where his friend poured him a drink.
John grabbed the drink and threw himself in a leather chair by the fire. “I am in both hell and heaven.”
Douglas sat in the second chair. “I am sorry you find yourself still in hell. I only meant to give you a taste of heaven.”
John glared at him. “Who else do you plan to offer her to?”
“No one, if you are willing to nurture her. Otherwise, I will try Sanders, I suppose.”
“I don’t want to—”
Douglas sighed. “She has to have someone, John. She is very fragile. If her sisters have special friends and she does not, she may crumble. I cannot allow something so fine and beautiful to be destroyed.”
John sighed with great misery. “I agree.”
“Then you will do it?”
“Yes, damn you, I’ll do it,” John snarled.
Buy Links ~
About the Author ~
Liza lives in Denville, NJ with her dog, Jess. They hike in fabulous woods every day, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Having an adventurous nature, she learned to fly small Cessnas in NJ, hang-glide in New Zealand, kayak in Pennsylvania, ski in New York, scuba dive with great white sharks in Australia, dig up dinosaur bones in Montana, sky dive in Indiana, and raft a class four river in Tasmania. She’s an avid gardener, amateur photographer, and dabbler in watercolors and graphic arts. Yet through her entire life, her first love has and always will be writing novels. She loves to create interesting characters, set them loose, and scribe what happens.