This is London, 1883
Chapter 1I walked among the vibrant flowers silently. My black dress swishing around my ankles in the gathering wind. Above me, storm clouds gathered, threatening to pour the rain at an6y minute. I looked back at my large house and turned on my heel, walking back towards my house.
By the time I was about halfway up the stairs, it was pouring rain. I quickened my pace up the stairs and pushed the large doors to my house open then shut them behind me. The entry hall to my house was dark. The only lights coming from the occasional candle. It was dark due to the lack of light from outside and the lack of candles. My mother was probably in her room filling out papers or reading.
I look at the full length mirror in the hall like I always do when I pass it. It never fails to disappoint me. The entire frame of the mirror is intricate gold. Carved into complicated patterns. My red hair and green eyes look totally different in the dim light and the candle light casts eerie glows over my face making me look more pale than I already am.
Without waiting for my body servant, Carolina, to find me, I walk up the grand staircase and to my room. A beautiful red rose sits on my bed, next to the sleeping form of my large dog, Bandit. I picked up the rose and twirled it in my fingers. Again, this room is dark. The only light comes from the burning coal in the small fireplace. I had just taken off my cloak and laid it on my bed when my bedroom doors open.
The small figure of Carolina, my servant appeared. “Welcome home, Miss.” She said dipping her head slightly, “Do you want me to get you anything?”
Carolina was about my age, 17, and she had stringy brown hair. She had been with my family since she was 9 and she had always been my servant.
I shook my head, “No. I’m fine. I will be going to bed so please do not disturb me.”
With another slight nod, Carolina turned and left the room. I removed myself from the tight black dress and put on a simple nightgown. I sat down on the bed, my legs folded beneath me. I started to pet bandits head absently. He was a mutt. No one knows what type of dog he is. He opened one eye and looked at me. He started to wag his tail slightly and closed his eyes again. He was all black except for white on his paws making his feet look like socks and white on his chest.
My bedroom doors open once more and my little sister, Sophia, entered. She walked up and sat on my bed across from me. She had blonde hair like my mother and I have red hair like my father. People rarely guess that we are related. I resemble my deceased father and Sophia resembles my mother. “Hi Alice.” She said smiling a little bit.
“Can’t sleep?” I ask
She shakes her head and her smile fades, “No. I keep thinking about Father.”
I nodded, I knew what she felt. Father had just past away a couple weeks ago and the pain was still fresh in all in all of us. People guessed he was murdered. My family is one of the richer families and town and it could happen. People will do anything for money these days. Taxes were high and no one could stay rich forever. Even my family as struggling, or so I’ve heard.
“I know what you mean.” I say, “Do you want to talk about it? You have been strangely quiet on that subject. I know it’s hard.”
Sophia shook her head, “It’s not Father that I want to talk about. I need to tell you something that you cannot tell anyone.”
I nod, “Of course.”
She took a deep breath, “Mother- Mother wants me to talk to you about our family’s money. She says that you will understand it more if I tell you. But… Alice, we are almost out of money. Father was going to do something before he died but now,” She took another deep breath and continued, “So; mother wants you to marry someone with money. She said that if you did, you could save the family. You are the right age to marry someone.”
That crushed all my hopes and dreams of getting out of here. I was never the girl that wanted to wear her dresses or corsets. I was the one who I always got out of wearing stockings and a suffocating corset. I had always dreamed that I would one day marry someone for love and go off into the country and be happy. Never having to be bothered by the rest of society.
“And Mother said that you can talk to her if you want or need to.” Sophia said
I nodded. Why was Sophia telling me all this? Yes, she did say that mother thought I would understand better if Sophia told me but still Sophia was 12. She did not need to concern herself with all this.
“I’m going to bed.” I announced, “Do you want to stay here or not?”
She shook her head, “No, but have a nice night.”
She flashed a smile and left my room. I laid down under the covers and Bandit, lifted himself up and laid down next to me, putting his head on my stomach.
I looked up at the tall ceiling and then fell asleep.