Elvira Rivers is the youngest of two children. Her older brother, Bryant, is the one who caught their mother's affections after their father's passing when Elvira was just a little girl. Her mother shuns her and dotes on Bryant.
Thomas Buckley is a poor orphan that moved to a large city to make a new life for himself. He stays humble and does his best to make sure the money he receives is earned and that he can provide for his little sister, Megan.
Their paths cross one day when Elvira and
The sun was up but I kept my eyes closed, wanting to take advantage of every second I could get before my mother came banging on my door. My window was open, allowing the cool late summer air to float through. I heard people moving around outside and the sound of the buoys in the harbor. Our house was situated on the richest part of the city which sat on the side of the water. The smell of the ocean had always comforted me.
I heard footsteps and sighed quietly. Instead of the normal banging, though, the knock was soft.
"Wake up, Elly," my brother said through the door and I yawned.
"I'm awake," I announced.
"Mother wants us to go to the market to pick up some trinkets she commissioned for the party tonight," he said while I got out of bed and stretched.
I rolled my eyes. Another party. I wondered what the story was behind this one. My mother loved flaunting the wealth left over from my father when he passed twelve years ago.
When I was in a grey and green dress, I pulled my black hair back into a bun and went through the tedious process that was makeup. I didn't paint my lips, though. I was awful at that. I slipped on a pair of grey slippers and took up my white parasol.
Bryant smiled at me. He and I looked identical except there were five years between us. That and his height were the only things that indicated we were different ages. He was maybe three inches taller than me but he had the same black hair and jaunty grey-green eyes we got from our father.
"So, this party tonight," I began as we walked down the streets.
Bryant sighed. "She claims it's to welcome the poorer side of the city."
I shook my head. "More like insult them more than she already has," I grumbled.
"Perhaps she means well this time," he said and I looked at him. He laughed. "You're right; she probably doesn't."
"How are things with Miss Lauren?" I asked.
He smiled. "Very well. She is my special guest this evening. Who is yours?"
I groaned. I had forgotten about my special guest. I went through the list of men I knew but none of them I wanted to spend five hours on their arm with....
"I'll ask Daniel," I said finally and he laughed again. "Oh, hush."
"The lesser of all evils," he chuckled.
"Well, Mother would kill me if I arrived without a guest. That or kick me out," I sighed.
"I am sorry," he whispered.
"No, I am. We are having a lovely time and I'm being a wet blanket." He smiled at me. "Now, where are these special gifts?"
"At the blacksmith's," he said as we turned down the street where the harder laborers worked.
The blacksmith had a large forge on the outside of his building and most of his tools and creations were scattered on tables and the walls. The only times I had seen them use the house attached to it was for storing inventory for the night or if the weather was poor. There was a smaller forge inside that they used for when that happened.
"Mr. and Miss Rivers," the blacksmith, Ivan, said happily. "Good morning."
"Good morning," we said in unison.
"Our mother has requested that we pick up the trinkets she commissioned," my brother said as I closed my parasol.
"Trinkets," he repeated with a frown. "Trinkets...."
Ivan was an older man in his 70s. After his daughter died of the plague, he spent all of his time at the smithy. He had recently taken on an apprentice, though, when he had a fit one hot summer day. I had yet to meet this apprentice but everyone sang his praises.
"These," a voice said behind us and we turned.
I blushed a little and got my fan out. It was a young man with messy brown hair and honey colored eyes. He was in a thin cotton shirt and brown pants. He was sweating from his manual labor and carried a large box. He was the same height as Bryant and I wouldn't be surprised if they were the same age.
"May I see?" Bryant asked.
"Of course," the apprentice said and put the box on the table. "You were the commissioner after all."
We all laughed as Bryant pulled out a small pendant.
"Oh, this is wonderful. Come look, Elly."
I walked over and the apprentice passed me one with a smile. I looked at it. It was a simple pin to go on a dress or vest with our family crest - two swords crossed at the hilt - engraved on it. We had the same crest on our fingers but the rings held more significance than pins made of iron.
"Thomas, this is Bryant and Elvira Rivers," Ivan introduced. "Bryant, Elvira, this is my apprentice Thomas Buckley."
"It's an honor," I said with a small curtsy.
"The honor is mine," he returned. "I have not been near- Megan!" he shouted suddenly and we turned.
"Sorry," a little girl with brown curly hair giggled. She ran over and wrapped her arms around his leg. "It's so pretty!"
The little girl had been holding the parasol I had set on the table.
"It's impolite," he lectured. "Now apologize."
She pouted and hung her head. "Sorry," she mumbled.
I smiled. "It's quite all right. Your name is Megan?" She nodded, beaming, and I held out my gloved hand. "Hello, Megan. I'm Elvira but you may call me Elly if you'd like."
"That's a really pretty name!" she said and I winked at her.
"This is my older brother, Bryant," I said.
Instead of shaking her hand, he bowed dramatically at her and kissed her fingers, making her giggle and turn bright red.
"Is she your daughter?" Bryant asked as Ivan's wife, Candace, ushered her inside.
"No, she is my little sister," he answered. "I have not been to the estate yet. I am most excited to see it."
"We are equally excited but we should return home, dear sister," he added when he looked at his pocket watch. "It is nearing lunch time and mother would be upset if we were late." He turned to Ivan and Thomas. "We will see you gentlemen this evening."
I passed the apprentice, Thomas, the other half of his coins for his work then walked back up the road. Bryant was carrying the box and I glanced briefly over my shoulder. Thomas was staring after us, a strange look on his face, and I blushed.