Author’s Notes: This is a work of fantasy, set in London, England, 1810 and while I might use a few places which existed in that era, the majority of names, titles and places are not based in real historic references. So I beg your leniency in that aspect.
Chapter 1. Introductions
Chapter Notes: I’ve been dreaming of writing a story like this one for a long time and the Art-A-Thon provided me with a reason to write it. And then my oh so wise IBE convinced me to write a very detailed outline which provided me with the final push, I fell in love with the idea, with the characters and so far it’s coming along nicely. (I think at least) So now I know this story will be somewhere around 12 chapters, which is not too bad I guess.
Warnings: Buffy/Other, nothing graphic (more like mentions really) I simply couldn’t stomach writing it. *shudders* This Spike is the ‘want, take, have’ type of man, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. While I can’t promise there won’t be angst, you should know by now I don’t like to drag it endlessly so it will be resolved fairly quick. Any other warnings will be added accordingly.
Beta: The lovely IBE stepped to the plate to correct all my boo-boos and make sure I don’t mangle the English language that much. 😉 Mil gracias, cariño! You wouldn’t believe how grateful I am to have a little sister as wonderful as you! *smooches* And a special thank you to OKDeanna and Tammy for the read through and assuring me the story wasn’t as awful as I imagined.
There are two ways of meeting difficulties: you alter the difficulties or you alter yourself meeting them. – Phyllis Bottome
Chapter 1. Introductions
London, England, 1810
How could one be as close to heaven you could practically touch it, savor it and at the same time feel like you’re teetering on the very edge of a bottomless pit of despair? Because that’s exactly how Buffy Summers felt right now.
She was going to marry Angel O’Connor, the man she loved with all heart. Granted no one else but them knew about it, but still… she was determined her dreams would finally come to fruition. Who cared if her family never approved of the match or her choice of groom? Somehow, she would adapt to being the wife of a middle-class Irish businessman. As long as they were together, she simply didn’t care or need for anything else.
If it had been up to her, she would have dragged Angel to church as soon as he proposed and married him then and there. He was opposed to it, though. He wanted to do the honorable thing, he said, do things right. When he returned from his native Ireland in one month, he would ask for her hand in marriage from her parents. It didn’t matter how many times she told him it wasn’t the best idea, he was unmovable. She was a lady and as such she should be treated, he responded. Damn him!
She knew her father would never accept him and her darling mother always did whatever he thought was best.
Hank Summers took great pride in their heritage, their social status, their wealth. To even think of marrying his only daughter to anyone so below their station would be tantamount to a debacle of momentous proportions.
She sighed, wishing not for the first time Angel was less of a gentleman than he’d been so far. Even with as secret as their whole relationship was, he never did more than press chaste kisses on her hands and cheeks. She’d tried to… persuade him into kissing her in a different way—in the way she desired to be kissed—many times. He had always kept his distance though, respecting her, loving her, cherishing her, placing her on a pedestal when she wanted anything but that. She longed for him to be more daring, impetuous, impulsive. She wanted him to sweep her off her feet, to be as passionate about things as she was. Perhaps after they married…
Many things could happen in one month and with any luck, by then he’d forget all about talking to her family about their relationship and decided to elope with her instead.
The next day, in the morning
The Duke of Aurelius sighed tiredly as he settled comfortably in his own carriage with his personal assistant and friend, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce sitting in front of him. After two months of taking care of his country estates and a week in a traveling coach, he was grateful to be back in London.
Uninterestedly, he observed the people walking in the streets, the other carriages they passed by while half-listening to his aide as he gave him a detailed account of his affairs in the city.
“Spike, could you at least pretend you’re listening to me?” Wesley asked, noticing his friend’s distraction.
“I don’t see what is so urgent it can’t wait until tomorrow, Wes,” he replied, not even turning to look at him. “You’re as competent as they come… more if that were even possible and you know it.”
“That has nothing to do with the fact you need to kn—”
It was then that Spike saw the most glorious creature he’d ever laid eyes upon leaving the Letter Office building. “Who is she?” he interrupted his aide’s rambling, pointing to a girl with honey-brown hair tumbling down her back.
“Hmmm,” Wesley peeked out the window. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her before.”
Spike thumped on the carriage’s ceiling with his cane, signaling the driver to stop and didn’t even acknowledge his friend’s disbelieving look before practically jumping from the coach out onto the street, hurrying after the woman before she disappeared from his sight.
Wesley shook his head at the driver from the door, giving him a signal to follow the Duke while he wondered what on earth had possessed him to do such a thing. He was used to his friend’s impatience, to his wit, even to his mercurial mood swings, but this was new.
Women were usually the ones who pursued William James Edward Withers the Third—or Spike as his closest friends called him—not the other way around. The man was as rich as Croesus and one of the most, if not the most, eligible bachelor in England, so it was no surprise women swooned over him. What was surprising is that he was actually going after a girl he hadn’t even been introduced to, dressed in travel clothes no less when he always took great pride in his personal presentation. What was this about?
Buffy quickened her pace when she realized how late it already was. She hadn’t imagined the trip to the Letter Office would take her as long as it had and if she wasn’t back at her house by the time supper was served… she didn’t even want to think what her father might do. And like it or not, he would be right. After all, a respectable young lady shouldn’t be walking around un-chaperoned, not that she could help herself from doing so.
She’d made escaping from her late grandfather’s estate into an art form and with its immense size, it wasn’t that difficult to convince her dear mother she’d just lost track of time wandering in one of the gardens, while she really had been in one of the nearby parks either secretly meeting with Angel or enjoying the freedom of being in her own little world reading a book while basking under the sun’s rays.
And while she suspected her mother had an inkling of her outings, her father seemed oblivious to everything that went on in the family home and that’s the way she wanted to keep it. Thank God the house isn’t that far away, she thought as she hurried.
From across the street Spike observed her, fascinated. Look at me, he pleaded silently. Look at me now. Almost as if she’d heard him she threw a cursory glance in his direction before she continued on her way.
He was drawn to her like a lodestone and couldn’t resist practically running the length of the block then crossing the street while thinking of a way to force an introduction.
Buffy felt an odd tingling on the back of her neck. It was strange, as if someone were watching her. She dared a sideways glance to the other side of the street to find a blond man on the other side of the street that seemed to be staring right at her.
Shaking her head, certain she was only imagining things; she continued on her way letting out a surprised gasp when a few seconds after, she bumped into something, or rather into someone.
“Oh, I’m so sorry, Miss,” he said, grabbing her by her shoulders to straighten her as she swayed slightly on her feet before losing himself in the emerald green of her eyes. “I was distracted and… Are you alright?”
She frowned slightly as her eyes settled on the man in front of her, looking at him before craning her neck to look back at the place where she’d seen him before. How did he get from there to here so fast?
“Miss?” he pressed, releasing her from his grasp before taking her hand in his and bringing it to his lips. Why wasn’t she saying anything? Perhaps… yes, that might it. “I apologize, where are my manners? I haven’t even introduced my—”
“What do you think you’re doing?” she asked him, pulling her hand away as if burned.
“I was merely tryin’ to…”
“Run me over? Yes, I can see that. Now if you’ll excuse me, I was already running late and now, because of you,” she said, her tone accusatory. “I’m going to be even later.”
“I could drive you wherever you wish to go.” He pointed at his carriage which was just pulling up by their side.
She glared at him as if he’d offended her somehow and he wondered what the hell he’d done wrong now. Spike wasn’t used to ladies cutting him off right from the start, if anything it was usually the other way around. And God help him if that didn’t make her all the more attractive to him. She was definitely not like the rest.
“Of course not, who do you think I am?”
Any other time she might have been flattered by the man’s attention, but there was something about him she didn’t like. Be it the way he looked at her, talked or touched her, she wasn’t certain. He was so… so… intense.
“Bloody hell, woman! I was only offerin’—”
“You can stop right there. Because whatever you’re offering, I’m definitely not buying. Then again, if you wish to make your offer to my husband, perhaps he…”
“You’re married…” But of course she had to be. Just his luck. His eyes dropped to her left hand then and noticed the absence of a ring. “And where, may I ask, is your weddin’ ring, then?”
“I-I… don’t have to answer that,” she replied. Damn him! Just when she’d found the perfect excuse he had to go and ruin it.
“There’s no husband, is there?” he smirked.
“Alright, there’s no husband… yet. However, I’m betrothed and by the end of the month my fiancé and I will be married.” Well, she hoped at least, if everything went as Angel had planned.
“And my question stands, where’s your ring then, Miss…?”
“That’s not of your business!” She moved to pass by him and he grabbed her arm. “Let. Me. Go.” she growled, trying to free herself from him. God if he wasn’t the most infuriating man she’d ever had the disgrace of meeting.
“At least tell me your name?” he all but begged. “Tha’s all I’m askin’ for then I’ll let you go. I give you my word.”
If looks could kill he’d be six feet under, and if it was any other woman but her, he’d already have given up and went away as she so obviously wanted. However, the more she refused his attentions, the more he wanted her. And what the Duke of Aurelius wanted, he got… no matter the price.
She was not married yet, perhaps she was not even betrothed, so all he had to do was find out who her family was and he’d be set.
“A name, love, please?”
It was the please that did it. Well, that and knowing if she didn’t leave now, she’d truly be in more trouble with her father than she ever wanted to be. She exhaled a long, suffering sigh before telling him, “Buffy Summers. Now would you release my arm?”
“Of course, and my offer still stands.” She frowned, unsure what he meant while she rubbed her arm. It wasn’t that he’d hurt her, it just… tingled, due to some strange motive she didn’t want to analyze. “Drive you to… wherever you’re goin’. Perhaps you’ll allow me to introduce myself no—”
“I’d truly prefer not to. Excuse me.” She nodded at him and with her head held high, finally managed to get away from him. His eyes bore into her back, she could feel it, and she tried not to shiver, fighting the urge to run away from him as fast as she could.
Buffy Summers, he smiled to himself as he watched the little firebrand leave. Well, odd as her name might be, it fitted her and it was a start. There couldn’t be that many American families living in England who had a daughter named Buffy.
“Do you want us to follow her?” Wesley asked, startling him out of his trance.
“Yes, I want to know where she lives and after that, I want you to find out everythin’ you can about her family.”
“Do you at least have a name for me, or do I have to find that out myself, too?” He’d been privy of the little exchange, noticing the girl hadn’t seemed to be all that impressed with Spike.
“I have a name… Buffy Summers,” Spike said reverently. “She’s an American, too.”
“American, huh? It seems they might have better taste in men than our English ladies.”
“Ha, bloody ha,” the Duke replied humorlessly. “She’ll be mine, Wes, make no mistake about that. Before this month is over, she’ll be my wife.”
So here we go again, like, dislike? I’d love to know what you thought of the start of this story if you are inclined to let me know.
And again, I promise there’ll be more AOI soon, with any luck over the weekend, sorry for the delay.