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The Truth Seekers
The Truth Seekers
The Truth Seekers
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The Truth Seekers

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He wants to change the world; she wants to embrace it.

Welcome to the world of the Victorian upper class: a vibrant, strictly ordered society that encourages gentle, intellectual pursuits but condemns those who reject its conventions.

In a community created to celebrate the Arts, gothic novelist Geoffrey Hawes finds himself coerced into lecturing to the idle rich. Reluctant to abandon his solitude, he must concede or risk offending his wealthy patrons. Bitter and disenchanted with the privileged and wealthy, Geoffrey hides his scorn as best he can, but he refuses to let the social conventions of the time determine the course of his life.

The last thing he expects to find in this rarified world is someone who understands his unconventional views. Budding artist Miranda Claridge, the Governor’s intelligent and vivacious daughter, uses her unique perspective to open Geoffrey’s eyes to all that is beautiful and good in the world. Wise beyond her years, she is able to see beyond the trappings of society to the wonder of small, every day details, but unlike Geoffrey, she is unwilling to reject the conventional duties of rank and family.

Her calm acceptance of her life’s predetermined path frustrates and bewilders the fiery, passionate Geoffrey, but she does not hesitate to challenge his beliefs with equal determination. In the midst of their many heated debates on the mores of the upper class, this unlikely friendship blossoms into a passionate, impossible love. Although Geoffrey does not deny his longing for Miranda, he cannot convince her to abandon what she believes to be right. In order to win her, he will have to sacrifice his own pride and convictions.

To find a solution, they must discover where their true destinies lie. In a battle between principles and passion, can there be a victor?

PublisherVerity Group
Release dateJul 5, 2016
The Truth Seekers
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    The Truth Seekers - Mavvy Vasquez

    For KMD.


    With thanks to S. Kalnay, J.C. Clarke, R.E. Hargrave, N. Gentry, D. McSwain, L. Font, C. Eden, and N. Wagner for their valuable contributions that made this publication possible.

    Part One: Immutability

    Chapter One


    It was an age of beauty, an era celebrating all that was exquisite and timeless.

    The fleeting glories that surrounded him did not touch Geoffrey Hawes while he moved like an angry phantasm among the flitting members of high society. They loved his novels, or so they insisted, but their sickening adulation held no power over him. He may have opened the door to hell, allowing these creatures to peer into its depths, but they remained safe in their untouched serenity. These privileged souls were incapable of feeling the heat of the fiery torments he had revealed. All that he had accomplished was to throw into starker contrast his own separateness.

    He wrapped his artistic sensibilities around him like a bitter cloak while he shifted and twisted his way through the throng of patrons and admirers, safe from the demands of conversation. In this society, if the thing produced were deemed beautiful, the creator was allowed to indulge any misanthropic tendencies that would otherwise bring censure from these well-fed mouths, and Geoffrey was glad of the distance it gave him.

    The Hall of Philosophy was an open structure, mimicking the architecture of Ancient Greece with its columns and mosaic tiles. He could spy his path of escape through those stone giants, and his feet continued to propel him towards his freedom, even if it were a solitary, cold sort of liberation. It was all he could hope for himself now—four walls, a closed door, and peace.

    The writhing throng contracted before him to reveal a small group, which was comprised of a man flanked by two decorative parasols that shielded their bearers from observation. Upon recognizing the gentleman, Geoffrey resigned himself and relinquished his earlier aim. Instead, he prepared his tongue for polite conversation.

    Mr. Hawes! A pleasure!

    Giving his acquaintance a slight bow, he replied, Governor.

    Your new work is astounding, though, I must confess, somewhat unsettling. You have a great talent, sir!

    You are too kind. With great luck, this august personage would allow Geoffrey to go on his way before the mask concealing his profound disdain cracked under the burden of such insipid observations.

    A chuckle rose from the gentleman’s bloated cheeks. Much to Geoffrey’s chagrin, this seemed to signal an extended discussion.

    My daughter was better able to make sense of it than I. I must own that my tastes run to simpler tales, but Miranda has a great enthusiasm for your tortured protagonists. She has endeavored to explain the text to her poor father but at last was forced to give it up as a lost cause, I am afraid! The Governor inclined his head to indicate the parasol to his left while he spoke.

    Geoffrey found this gentleman’s frank avowal of his own ignorance somewhat refreshing, and this inspired him to reply in a milder tone than was his wont. I am flattered indeed that Miss Claridge has found merit in my poor offering.

    Hardly poor, Mr. Hawes, the left parasol replied. I thought it a realistic portrayal of the human heart, albeit a fractured one.

    His eyes sought her face at this unexpected pronouncement. I am intrigued that you considered it in such a light. What prompted this opinion, if you do not mind my asking? He hoped that the lady would be encouraged to elucidate.

    Silken lids shielded her eyes, but however timid she had been taught to appear, her voice held no reticence. You paint a merciless and unapologetic portrait of a man who had allowed himself to be doomed by his bitterness before he had even begun to struggle. It was surprising to discover a work that explored with such honesty the depravity and goodness battling within man’s breast, and to do so with almost poetic reverence. It was disturbing, and yet it captured my imagination. I suppose the intensity of the experience was owed in large part to the intimacy of witnessing a man being destroyed by his own soul. The tale haunted me.

    It was not my intention to capture the image of man’s heart or soul, I assure you.

    In that case, your characters reveal rather more than you may have intended. Indeed, the merit of your book goes beyond the series of events you describe.

    He acknowledged this with a wry chuckle. I would hope so. Nonetheless, an exposé of the human heart was not my goal.

    Then I would suggest that the characters serve to expose more of what lies within your own breast than you may have wished.

    Miranda, her mother chided from underneath her own parasol, I am sure that Mr. Hawes does not need to have his own work explained to him.

    The young woman’s gaze rose and appraised Geoffrey’s rather startled expression. With an enigmatic smile, the lady murmured, Perhaps he does.

    Without a doubt sensing that a breach in etiquette now hovered on the periphery of the conversation, Governor Claridge bade Geoffrey farewell with another hearty handshake, both ladies echoing his sentiments with gentle curtsies. When the party continued on their way, the author turned to follow their progress, studying the retreating parasol of Miss Miranda Claridge with bemusement and speculation.


    Afternoon tea was being served on the lawn, and the graceful, white-robed figures undulated through pools of sunlight and shade while they navigated the terrain with their delicate cups and saucers. For Geoffrey, it was like observing a subdued waltz—the colors, sounds, and movements all muted until they achieved an almost dreamlike quality. As was his habit, he remained on the periphery of the gathering, preferring to observe rather than participate. He kept himself aloof from the majority of conversations, speaking to the few intrepid souls who dared to approach him but otherwise remaining silent.

    Always mindful that these same irritating personalities were also his bread and butter, he pressed himself to be polite and to suppress the biting comments that flashed in his brain while he withstood their inane prattle. He stood, sipping on his weak tea and consuming tasteless sandwiches, and waited for the moment when he might once more retreat to the privacy and comfort of his own room.

    Geoffrey spied his new friend the Governor nearby, laughing with a throng of sleek, red-faced gentlemen. His accompanying parasols appeared to have abandoned him for the time being, although Geoffrey thought he recognized the ladies in question headed in his direction, wrapped up in quiet conversation of their own with a third, unfamiliar lady. They were almost upon him when a parasol shifted, affording him a view of Miranda Claridge’s intent and composed visage. He was surprised to find himself tempted to greet her, curious whether further intriguing observations would escape her lips. However, he continued to hold himself back, braced against the trunk of a sturdy oak tree and cloaking himself as well as he could in its dim shadow.

    Mrs. Claridge foiled his plans to remain an invisible observer when she spied him. With a brief word to her daughter and their companion, she began to wind her way to where he stood. The others followed in her wake, and Geoffrey found himself disappointed that the young lady’s face revealed no eagerness at their impending meeting. He reminded himself that Miranda was a product of her class, and that her observations the day of their introduction did not signal some immunity to the intense preconditioning to which she had been subjected by her upbringing. The Governor and his good lady had doubtless been excellent stewards of their daughter’s education, but it would be naïve to expect that enthusiasm to extend to permitting her to depart from the established mores of their society.

    The ladies stood before him now, and he pulled himself from his thoughts to offer the appropriate greetings. Ever gracious, Mrs. Claridge introduced him to Mrs. MacDonald, a young matron who appeared to be near her daughter’s age. This new acquaintance was possessed of the sort of placid expression that spoke of an even-tempered disposition, although Geoffrey noted hints of good humor and mischievousness in the laughing glance she cast towards Miranda. It was clear that the two younger ladies shared a particular friendship. They walked with their arms linked together, and the smile they now exchanged spoke of confidences and familiarity.

    Geoffrey found his inspection of these ladies interrupted when Mrs. Claridge launched an interrogation, inquiring how he was enjoying his time in the community and whether it was conducive to his creative endeavors. He struggled to provide her with acceptable responses, until Miranda took pity upon him and stepped in to rescue him.

    It is my understanding that most writers prefer to work in an isolated environment. Perhaps our little corner of the world is so pleasant as to tempt Mr. Hawes from his lair, for otherwise I do not know that we would ever see him! She smiled at him while she spoke, as if she understood the uncomfortable position in which her mother’s questions had placed him.

    This comment served to satisfy Mrs. Claridge, who remarked, Well, it would be quite an honor if that were the case, Mr. Hawes. We all look forward to reading your next book.

    I hope that it will give you at least a fraction of the pleasure that your delightful community has given me, madam, he lost no time in replying.

    The lady gave him a curtsy before moving on to address another acquaintance. Her daughter and her friend lingered, however. When Mrs. MacDonald distanced herself just enough to provide them with some semblance of privacy, he took the opportunity to speak to Miranda.

    I do appreciate your assistance. Your mother is very kind, but I am afraid I never quite know how to respond to such inquiries.

    So I gathered, she responded with humor in her glance. It is most difficult when one does not enjoy the entertainment and rather considers it a chore to be endured.

    I did not say it was, he objected, although she was correct in her suspicion.

    Of course not, Mr. Hawes. But how can you not? I have read your books, and I am well aware that society’s pomp does not appeal to you. Although I do not know what escape your writing can provide, concentrated as it is on the unhappiness in the world.

    You would prefer happier tales and tidier outcomes?

    No, I prefer to read the truth. Your characters do nothing to avoid their tragedies. It would be unbelievable in the extreme to see them forced into a pleasant resolution. Fictional they may be, but as a representation of humanity, they are by nature limited to a course of action that suits their personalities.

    Do you feel, then, that by not moving beyond their errors, they never achieve resolution?

    She appeared to consider his question for a moment before answering. No. The resolution is there, but it is an inevitable outcome rather than some great, uplifting miracle. Your characters are, by and large, good people who are given the chance at true happiness but prevent themselves from realizing that potential.

    He allowed the truth of her statement with a nod. In my experience, I have found that to be the case in most instances, human nature being what it is.

    I must confess that I often wonder how you continue to write without any sense of hopefulness. In reading each of your works, I am struck by the absolute certainty that it is impossible that the protagonist will manage to redeem himself in some way.

    My characters are no more limited than any flesh-and-blood person, Miss Claridge. Each man chooses his destruction, yet some have the benefit of being able to hide the often unpalatable results.

    Her brow arched upwards at this comment. You have a very negative view of the world, indeed.

    It is not all pleasant tea parties and elegant dresses, he replied, disappointed at her apparent lack of understanding.

    Mr. Hawes, I think that you should review your own works. If you did, even you would be capable of realizing that great pain can reside under even the most beautiful trappings, she said with some heat. It is not your insistence on revealing that ugliness to which I refer.

    Then what is it that disturbs you?

    The absence of hope, and the absolute rejection of the potential for reformation. If the world were as you have painted it, it would be a meaningless, bleak existence, and each of us would be doomed to suffer without having the power to choose a more propitious path. In denying this potential to your readers, I feel that you fail to reach the full depth and insight that you might have discovered otherwise. By refusing to see the possibility of joy, you limit yourself and your characters most unfairly.

    I have observed very few lives that were not tragedies in the end.

    My life is not a tragedy, she contradicted him, the sharpness of her tone sufficient to recall Mrs. MacDonald’s attention to their conversation, that lady’s birdlike eyes examining both Miranda’s expression and Geoffrey’s with unsettling curiosity.

    Well aware of their audience but unwilling to abandon his stance, he continued, his voice low but insistent. Is it not? What choice have you but to follow the edicts of society and your family? What freedoms do you enjoy that have not been granted by the grace of some supervisory force? The single possible manner in which you may achieve peace of mind is to embrace the tenets of this little world, and the cost is your independent thought and true understanding.

    That presupposes that it is impossible to have true understanding and to still embrace society’s strictures, Miranda answered, her volume likewise restrained. There is nothing in my life that prevents either happiness or fulfillment.

    If you believe that, Miss Claridge, then I can but assert that your life is, indeed, a tragedy.

    Her face took on a heated flush at his words. And if you cannot believe that goodness and happiness can exist in any sphere of society, then that is an even greater tragedy, Mr. Hawes. She gave him a rather abrupt curtsy, which was echoed by Mrs. MacDonald, before both ladies moved to join Mrs. Claridge across the lawn.

    Chapter Two


    Geoffrey felt somewhat unsettled by his exchange with Miranda, and he sought an opportunity to speak with her again, if for no other reason than to soothe the offense he had given her. It had not been his intention to insult her. His moment came some time later when he spied her inspecting the refreshment table, still in the company of her friend Mrs. MacDonald. With a studied air of indifference, he approached the uninspired cuisine, examining the tidy arranged platters before speaking in an undertone to her.

    I must beg your forgiveness if I have offended you, Miss Claridge.

    She glanced up at him before returning her eyes to the table. Rest easy, Mr. Hawes. You have frustrated me, it is true, but that is to be expected in any debate in which the two sides cannot agree.

    I do not altogether disagree with you, he countered before they were interrupted by a flurry of laces and ribbons and curls.

    "Oh, Miranda dear! And Olivia darling! Do forgive me! I just simply had to meet

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