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Camp, Candace - Exmoor 02 - Promise Me Tomorrow (V1.0)

Camp, Candace - Exmoor 02 - Promise Me Tomorrow (V1.0)

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Published by Kristine N.

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Published by: Kristine N. on Jul 04, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *PROMISE ME TOMORROWbyCANDACE CAMPSERIES: Exmoor -- Book 2ISBN: 1-55166-607-3PUBLISHER: MIRASUBJECT: Historical Romance -- England -- RegencyVERSION: Scan - Fully Proofed - V1.0COPYRIGHT: (c) 2000 by Candace CampSUMMARY: In this second novel of a trilogy about three children of nobility whoare left orphans by the French Revolution, Marie Anne has little experience withlove, but cannot deny her attraction to the suspicious and arrogant Lord Lampton. Meanwhile, someone has come looking for her--someone who doesn't want Marie Anne to discover her true identity.* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * **CANDACE CAMP**PROMISE ME TOMORROW* *Prologue* The child lifted her head sleepily and looked at the man across from her in the carriage. She blinked, then scowled."You're a bad man."The man glanced at her and sighed. "Hush. We're almost there."His face was shadowed in the dim light. He was almost skeletally thin, and hefidgeted constantly. Marie Anne knew that Nurse would have snapped at him to sit still and behave himself."I want to go home," she said plaintively. Everything was so confusing. It had been for weeks. She missed John, and she missed the baby. Most of all, she missed Mama and Papa. She remembered That Night and the way her mother had hustledher out the door and along the dark, scary street. She remembered the familiar scent of Mama's perfume as she squeezed Marie Anne to her chest, whispering "Takecare, ma chérie." Mama had been crying, and Marie Anne knew that it was the badpeople in the streets who made her cry."I want to stay with you!" Marie Anne had wailed, clinging tightly to her mother. That had made the baby cry, too, and try to scramble out of Mrs. Ward's arms and back to their mother. Only John had stood stoically silent and still."Oh, chérie! If you only knew--I wish you could, too, but it isn't safe." Hermother, more beautiful than any other woman in the world, had wiped the tears from her cheeks and tried to smile. "You must go home to England. To your Mimi and Granpapa. You will like that, won't you? Mrs. Ward will take you. You know Mrs. Ward. She's Mama's ami, and she will take good care of you. She'll see that you get to Mimi's house in the City. Papa and I must stay here and get Granmama and Granpere to leave. But as soon as we do, we will join you at Mimi's house.""Promise?""I promise, my little love. I promise.""Where's Mama?" Marie Anne asked now, turning to her companion accusingly, "You said we were going to see Mama." She had cried and kicked when he'd carried her from her bed earlier, until finally he had told her to be still, that he wastaking her to her mother."We are almost there," the man repeated glancing out the window.Marie Anne looked out the window, too, and saw that they were approaching a l
arge building. But it was not their home, nor even Mimi's large house in the country or the tall white one in the City. It was a huge squat block of gray stone,far too ugly, she knew, to be anyplace where Mama was. Tears filled her eyes."That's not Mimi's." For a little while, she and her brother John had been atMimi's home in the City. Mrs. Ward, Mama's friend from Paris, had taken them there, and at first Marie Anne's sad heart had lifted joyfully, thinking that shewas going to get to see her beloved grandmother. But then That Woman had whiskedthem away, taking them outside and to another house, where the Awful Man was. She had seen him before, but he was not the sort who spoke to children, and she wasn't sure who he was.Then That Woman had fed her something and tried to give John something, as well, but he was too sick. She had left them in a room, with John twisting and turning on his bed, sweating and shaking. It had scared Marie Anne to see him likethat; it had scared her to be there without any grown-up. But it was even scarier to be away from her big brother, traveling through the dark night with this stranger. Why had Mrs. Ward left them with That Woman? Why had she taken the baby,but not John and Marie Anne? Where was Mimi?She began to cry, although she did not want to in front of this odd, jitteryman whom she did not know at all. "I want Mimi," she said, her voice trembling."I want Nurse. I want Mama!""Later, later." His voice was impatient, and he barely waited for the carriage to stop before he unlatched the door and jumped down. He reached for her, butMarie Anne backed away, her heart thumping. The ugly building loomed outside, and she was certain she did not want to go there."No. No!" The word ended in a shriek as he wrapped one arm around her and dragged her out.She screamed and began to struggle. "Mama! Papa!"He carried her inexorably up the front stairs to the door and banged the heavy knocker. It was some minutes before the door was opened by a scowling servant,and some time more before a large, stern-looking woman swept into the entryway,a dressing gown wrapped around her and a nightcap on her head.The sight of her was enough to freeze Marie Anne's sobs in her throat. She stared at the woman, ice forming in the pit of her stomach. The woman was tall andheavyset, with none of the beauty and warmth that lived in Marie Anne's motherand grandmothers. This woman's eyes were pale and cold as metal, and her face was grim, dominated by a predatory beak of a nose. She looked at Marie Anne as though she knew every naughty thing the girl had ever done."I found her," the jittery man was saying. "She was on the side of the road,obviously abandoned. I didn't know where else to take her."His words were enough to jolt Marie Anne out of her fear, and she cried out indignantly, "That's a lie! I wasn't on the side of the road!"The woman clapped her hands together so loudly that both Marie Anne and the man jumped. "Enough!" Her voice cracked like a whip. "Don't presume to correct your betters, child. You will soon learn that here you speak only when spoken to,and you do not contradict an adult."Her tone made Marie Anne's heart thump inside her chest, but she squared hershoulders and thrust out her chin. She was not the sort to knuckle under withouta fight. She thought of the way her father would ruffle her hair and chuckle, calling her his tiger."But I wasn't by the side of the road," she insisted.The woman's eyes narrowed. "I can see that you are going to be stiff-necked.Redheads are always trouble.""I am sure she will settle down," the man said quickly, panic tingeing his voice. "Once she has been here awhile, she will be all right.""Don't worry, sir," the woman replied with a faintly sardonic smile. She looked at him as if she, too, knew what he was thinking, Marie Anne noticed. "We shall take her. I am not one to turn away a soul just because she is obviously in need of improvement. We shall straighten her out soon enough." The woman's eyes sparkled with anticipation.The man let out a sigh of relief and set Marie Anne down. "Thank you."
He turned and hurried toward the door. Little as the girl had liked him, it frightened her to see him leave. Even he was better than this hard-faced woman."No! Wait!" Marie Anne shrieked, turning to run after him, but the woman hooked a hand in her sash and jerked her back."Stop it! Stop that behavior this instant!" The woman accompanied her words with a stinging slap to the back of the girl's legs, bare below her skirts.Marie Anne, who had never been struck in her life, whirled and gaped at the woman. The man hurried out the door, closing it after him."That's better." The woman nodded approvingly. "The children of St. Anselm'sdo not act that way, as you will soon find out. The children of St. Anselm's arequiet and obedient. Now..." Satisfied that she had set this unseemly child on the proper path, the woman looked her over. "How old are you?""Five," the girl responded promptly, rather proud of her age."And what is your name?""Marie Anne.""That is scarcely a proper name for a child of your sort. No doubt you are that gentleman's by-blow. Just plain Mary will do fine for you. Do you have a lastname?"Marie Anne stared at her. "I--I'm not sure. I am just Marie Anne.""Do you have a father?""Of course I do!" Marie Anne responded indignantly. "And he will come here and get me! And he will make you sorry!""No doubt," the matron said dryly. "There are many children waiting for theirfathers to come. In the meantime, we shall have to give you a name. Now, what do people call your father?""Chilton," she answered."All right. Mary Chilton. That is your name. I am called Mrs. Brown. I am thematron of St. Anselm's.""But that's not my name," Marie Anne protested indignantly."It is now. Do not contradict me. I told you before that that is not acceptable behavior.""But you're wrong!"Mrs. Brown's hand lashed out and slapped Marie Anne sharply across her ear. "You will not speak to me that way. Do you understand?"Stunned, Marie Anne nodded, her hand going up to her cheek. Never in her lifehad she been treated in such a manner. Even during the past few harrowing weeks, rocking about the countryside with Mrs. Ward and John and the baby, running from those bad people and having to pretend that they were Mrs. Ward's children--even during all that, no one had ever raised a hand to her or talked to her in this way. Tears pooled in her eyes, and for a moment she wavered on the edge of bursting into tears. But years of aristocratic breeding came to her rescue, and she stiffened her back, gazing up at the woman coolly. Mama would say that this woman was declassee, she decided. Papa, on the other hand, would say that what shehad done was "bad form." She clung to the words, hearing her parents in her head."Answer me when I speak to you," Mrs. Brown snapped."Yes, Mrs. Brown," Marie Anne responded dutifully, but her voice was chilly and carried all the humility of a duchess.The older woman looked at her sharply but could not quite put her finger on what it was in the girl's tone that raised her hackles. Finally she turned away,saying crisply, "Follow me."She led her up the stairs and down a hallway barely lit by a few sconces on the wall. The candlelight flickered and flared, casting strange shadows. Marie Anne felt fear rising up in her throat, but she pushed it back down. She could hear her Mimi's voice the time she had gone running to her in tears when John and the boys were teasing her with scary stories: "Head up, my girl. Never let them know you're afraid. It would give them far too much pleasure."Mrs. Brown stopped at a cupboard and opened it, pulling out a thin blanket and a folded brown dress. To the top of the pile she added a white petticoat, faded through many washings, a pair of rough lisle stockings, darned in several plac

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