I hope, of course, that you choose.
Robin Lewis, 50ish, solitary by nature, exiled from England. When in England, he lives in the Preston family house, Winterset.
Margaery Preston: 24, has spent the last 18 years in France with her family. Now she has only her grandmother (and a mother who wants to marry her off). She would like to go home, and being impulsive, seizes the opportunity.
Lady Margaret: Margaery's grandmother. She has raised Margaery almost from birth, and misses her English home.
Sebastian: Robin's manservant. Devoted, opinionated where Robin's needs are concerned.
For your reading pleasure, a portion of Chapter 68:
Our horses’ hooves struck sparks on the stone flags of the courtyard of the Preston house. Before my boots touched the ground, a child ran up and took the reins. Sebastian dismounted and followed as they were led toward the stable. The wide front door opened before I could knock. A liveried servant led me to a gracious chamber off the main hall. “M’lady will be right down.”
I waited, admiring the room’s appointments, which were luxurious without being lavish. Somehow, despite the difference in architecture and furnishings, it felt like Winterset. I wondered how it came about, the talent for making a home. I had made improvements to the house, but it was not this comfortable.
The door swung open, but instead of Lady Margaret, a young woman strode into the room. Taking no notice of me, she peeled off her gloves and flung them on the table.
She whirled. “Good afternoon, monsieur.” Her eyes narrowed. “I know you.”
“You do?” I remembered her: the small daughter of the slaughtered Preston son. “You were very young when we met.”
“You took our house.” Her eyes were her grandfather’s, sharp and canny; she’d grown into the nose at least. “I’m not likely to forget.”
I attempted a smile. “It was an arrangement with your grandfather to keep you all safe.”
Her mouth curved into a smile as sincere as mine had been charming. “If by safe you mean bored to death.”
“Good afternoon, Master Lewis.” Margaret Preston was in deep mourning, but her round face wore a genial expression. “How wonderful to see you again. Margaery, Master Lewis is our guest.”
Brows like slashes of ink rose to her hairline. “And has been these many years.”
“A moment, sir.” Lady Margaret marched her granddaughter from the chamber, and I listened to the rise and fall of their voices outside the door. She returned, her hands clasped at her breast. “My granddaughter is not much in society. Her manners are appalling.”
“I found her refreshing.”
“Like cold water to the face,” Lady Margaret said. “Please, come through to my parlor.” Another pleasing room, this one more feminine but with comfortable chairs and an inlaid table before the fire. Lady Margaret put aside an unfinished bit of embroidery so our refreshments could be set out. “Tell me, how is Winterset?”
“Well, when last I heard,” I said. “It’s under Fowler’s care at the moment, as I’ve been traveling. He reports to you?”
“Most regularly.” Lady Margaret sipped her wine. “But he doesn’t live there, and you do. I miss my house.”
After eighteen years, Winterset felt like my home. “I’ve been very comfortable there. I regret I’ve had to be away so much these last years.”
She gazed into her cup. “It’s time for us to return to England.”
“For me as well.” I explained the queen’s failing health, and her having—at last—made Princess Elizabeth her heir. “But if you plan to return, I’ll send word to Fowler to start packing my things.”
“Let us see how it goes,” she said. “We will not make a quick removal. Stay in the house for as long as you require. And until you are ready to take ship for England, you must be our guest.”
“It will only be a few days,” I said. “I have already arranged passage on the Unycorne, leaving from Honfleur on the sixth of November.”