Well, one out of four isn't too bad. Here is the prologue to my new work in progress, a historical romance novella that is still very much in the rough draft stage.
The ring felt heavy on her finger.
Staring down at the thick gold band with the Ashburn family crest stamped into the middle, Abigail blinked back tears. Do not cry in front of him, she ordered herself silently. Don’t you dare.
“Abby, I… I am sorry.” Looking supremely uncomfortable, Rocky – better known to his peers as Reginald Browning the Third, Marquess of Rutherford and future Duke of Ashburn – ran his fingers through his thick brown hair and scowled down at the floor. “I never wanted it to end like this.”
Abigail never wanted it to end at all, even though some small part of her knew – had always known, perhaps – that it would. She was the daughter of a baron. Rocky was the sole heir to a dukedom. Their love was never meant to last.
“I want you to take the ring,” she said softly.
“No, Abby, you keep—”
But it was already off her finger. She clenched it tight in her fist, feeling the weight of it, the smoothness. It had felt so right on her hand that she’d let herself believe… but no. Some things were simply not meant to be, no matter how much you wished it otherwise.
“It was never mine to keep.” She opened her fingers and the ring fell with a quiet plink onto the table between them. Straightening in her chair Abigail gazed past Rocky to the window. It was partially open, allowing a warm breeze to flaunt through the stuffy parlor. She pulled at the high collar of her gown and took a deep, steadying breath. “I should be going now.”
For one fleeting moment she thought Rocky was going to change his mind. A tiny tendril of hope flickered within her, only to be abruptly extinguished when he stood up and formerly offered his arm, as though she was a passing acquaintance instead of the woman he had pledged his heart to.
Do not cry. Whatever you do, do not cry.
Her chest aching with the force it took to hold her tears at bay, Abigail walked in stiff legged silence. When they reached the grand foyer she hesitated, her gaze trained on the door that would not only take her outside to the carriage that waited to take her home, but out of Rocky’s life forever.
“Abby…” There was a quiet plea in his voice she detested. He wanted her to leave without a fuss. To go on with his life as though she never existed. To sweep the memory of her beneath the rug as though she were dust.
Abigail lifted her chin. She may not have been the woman the Duchess of Ashburn wanted her eldest son to marry, but that did not make her dirt. She was not some secret mistress or scandalous affair. She was Rocky’s fiancée – or at least she had been, before she took his ring off her finger and put it on the table.
“I am going to live with my sister in
informed him. “She has a young daughter and is need of a governess.”
Rocky’s blue eyes went wide. “I do not want you to leave.”
Abigail regarded him steadily, schooling her countenance to reveal none of the strength and sadness that warred within her. “But you do not love me enough to want me to stay.”
He dropped her arm and stepped back, his jaw tightening and clenching as he fought to disguise his own emotions. At twenty-two, Rocky was a boy on the verge of manhood. He was undeniably handsome with dark hair, piercing blue eyes, and chiseled features. He would be handsomer still in time, and Abigail felt a renewed sense of loss as she realized she would never know the man he would one day grow to be.
“Don’t do this Abby,” he said gruffly. “We said our goodbyes. There is no need to make this harder than it already is.”
There was every need, but Abigail merely nodded. The time for words had passed. There was nothing else she could say. Nothing else she could do. “I hope you have a happy life.” Shoulders pulled back, hazel eyes sparkling with unshed tears, she took a deep breath and walked out the door.
As he watched her leave, Reginald knew only one thing for certain: with Abby gone he would never know true happiness again.