Unlocking the Secrets of a Duke’s Heart - Abby Ayles


The boy had spent every moment looking over the side of the ship and into the depths of the waters below.

He was a big boy now, a man, even. He was big enough to go on this journey with his uncle. He was seeing the world. He was getting the chance to look out at creation and enjoy all that was before him.

It was a great adventure, with the sky above marred only by the sails, which acted as a reminder that this was quite an impressive, magnificent journey.

He had been journeying for weeks now, and had almost reached the New World, where he and his uncle would spend some time before returning to England. It was going to be a great time; he was sure of it. After all, adventures were the key to any young boy’s heart, were they not? At least, that was what his mother always said.

His uncle had promised him that he was going to see amazing new places. They would have a splendid time! He could only imagine what it was going to be like. He could only imagine everything awaiting him.

The boy watched as land came into view, growing larger and larger, along with his own excitement. He was really going to see it all! He would get to experience the adventures he had been promised.

“Well, it looks as though we will be arriving soon enough,” his uncle said, a grin spreading across his face.

An hour of watching the land draw near went by in only the briefest moment. As they disembarked from the ship that had been their home for weeks, the boy could hardly contain his joy.

Urged forward by his uncle, he took his first steps on the land of the New World and felt a great, sweeping feeling of pride run through him. Not one of his playmates had ever traveled outside of England. Then again, most of them were a mere five years of age, so they would have time to go somewhere when they were bigger and older. They were not like him, getting to experience so much at his age.

“Ah, there they are,” the boy’s uncle said.

The boy saw a man and woman rushing up to them, appearing very eager and excited.

“Good afternoon! We are so happy that you have arrived. I trust that it was a pleasant journey?” the woman asked.

“Oh, it was amazing! You can’t imagine what it is like to be at sea. It was the greatest thing in all the world!” the boy said.

The woman cheerfully laughed, and the man appeared delighted, too. He returned her smile with a grin of his own, looking up at his uncle and then back at the two strangers who had come to meet them.

He could see that they were rather nice people.

His uncle handed the man a piece of paper, folded neatly.

“In this letter, I have disclosed everything you need to know. As well as some rules…,” he said.

The boy looked on inquiringly, as the paper was handed over. He did not know what sort of rules were being given, but he was glad that these two grown-ups also had to live by rules. It was not fair when only children had to do that.

Unless, of course, those rules were meant for him. But he didn’t think there was any reason his uncle would be handing those over.

Curiously, his uncle shook both the man’s and the woman’s hands, nodding as though settling some agreement. The boy did not know what kind of agreement it was, but he could see that it was very important.

“Thank you both,” his uncle said, before turning to the boy and giving him a sharp nod.

With that, his uncle turned to walk back towards the ship.

“Uncle?” the boy called. But his uncle did not turn.

The woman took his hand and held onto it firmly.

The boy suddenly felt fear course through his veins, as though something was very wrong, and he was completely alone.

“No! Wait, Uncle!” he cried out.

The boy began to sob as his uncle left without a backward glance. He cried out in despair, not knowing what was happening.

The woman wrapped an arm around his waist before he could go running after his only living relative, the only person he had left in the world to look after him.

But now, he was left with two strangers, as though he was merely a stray animal, a creature without a soul to care for him, without anyone at all to care.

He let out a