Marrying her Best-Friend - Fiona Miers

Chapter One

Despite the elegant ambiance in the large ballroom, an unsettled feeling remained rooted inside the pit of Elizabeth Seymour’s stomach.

She didn’t care what people thought of her, or her brother’s—the Duke of Somerset—heroic and somewhat violent attempt to ensure that her reputation was left intact. But Lizzie still heard the whispers and felt the reluctance of the people around her as they glanced at her. They were cautious to engage in conversation with her, which made no sense.

Were they perhaps under the impression that promiscuity was contagious? Or perhaps the shame of being in the company of such a light-skirted woman threatened their reputations.

Whatever the reason, Lizzie lifted her chin and pointedly ignored their ambiguous stares and forced smiles. Instead, she proceeded along the length of the decadent ballroom belonging to the Marquess and Marchioness of Wealing.

She was no longer interested in trivial and mindless chatter from people who didn’t make time to know her. She didn’t appreciate anyone who was not sincere at this moment in time, when she needed it the most. And thanks to what she had gone through, she would, indeed, value that strength of spirit for the rest of her days.

Today she had received a letter from her older brother, Will. He and Emma had married suddenly on a ship heading towards the port of Elsinore in Denmark. It had been an unbelievable romance between Will and Emma. When they had first met, they could not tolerate even being in the same room together. Somehow, the stars aligned and love prevailed when Will made a grand gesture by boarding the train Emma was on at the very last minute and joining her on her journey to Edinburgh.

Admittedly, Woodlock Manor had been quiet since her boisterous brother had departed, and while her brother James and his wife Kitty prepared for the birth of their child, Lizzie had little to do but quietly wander about the estate.

She had assisted Kitty with trips to town and selecting furniture for the nursery, and as much as Lizzie appreciated that the duchess had included her in these tasks, she could not help but feel as though she was intruding. Of course, Kitty had assured her many times that this was not the case, but she still was not convinced. James’s wife was simply being her polite and sweet self.

Lizzie would most certainly not admit it to anyone, but she was lonely, and as she was the last of her siblings still unmarried, she felt as though she would have been a disappoint to her parents if they were still alive.

Despite being the youngest Seymour sibling, she had always been convinced she would be the first to matrimonial bliss. Never in her wildest dreams had she imagined her tight-lipped eldest brother the duke, and her rake of an older brother would marry before she would.

And love matches, at that!

“My lady!” a familiar male voice beside her suddenly called out, removing her from the sombre cloud of self-contempt she had fluttered her way inside.

Lizzie turned to her right and a smile formed on her lips as she glanced at Mr. Carson Wallace, who stood there, appearing very dashing in his formal wear. She’d known Carson for a very long while, as his family resided in the estate neighbouring Woodlock Manor.

They had spent many summer days in the estate gardens playing as children. Despite his father not bearing a title, the Wallace family was noble in their own right. A very influential and important family, whose wealth spanned as far as their influence.

Carson’s mother had separated from his father under rather scandalous circumstances and forsaken Somerset, which left the young Master Wallace feeling rather abandoned. Luckily, he’d found solace in Lizzie’s company, and would often sneak through a hole in the wall separating the two estates, concealed by thick vines of ivy and foliage.

His father didn’t care much that he spent time with Lizzie and would often visit to have tea with her parents while their children played in the garden.

Carson had been a good friend to Lizzie, but as soon as he had reached the age of thirteen, he’d befriended her brother Will, preferring his male company. Lizzie hadn’t seen him as much after that and if she tried to join them, Will would shoo her away.

“Carson,” Lizzie greeted cheerfully, delighted so have someone to speak with who didn’t force his smiles. “How lovely it is to see you.”

“And you, my lady,” Carson reciprocated and softly kissed her hand. “You’re dressed very