Eagle Manor was abuzz with excitement. The servants were running around cleaning and tidying the giant house and the gardeners were pruning and cutting the great lawns,watering the roses and keeping the ivy at bay. The young Lord Waverley would be staying for a while as the guest to the Eagleton's. His father was a close friend of Lord Eagleton, the owner of Eagle Manor, so to help his friend he had agreed to the staying of his son. After all space was no issue, for the grandeur of the house left most breathless. To start it looked more like a castle than a manor, for Lord Waverley was a rather extravagant man who loved expensive things. Each of the hundred or so rooms were filled with some form of gold, silver or crystal. Each time the main source of light came from huge elaborate crystal chandeliers, the ornate leaf designs painted with liquid gold leaf used by the ancient Pharos of Egypt long ago.
Whilst most would not mind the staying of the young Lord, Zianna Eagleton, the only daughter of Lord Eagleton, did. She had heard many a tale of the young Lords revelries and arrogant personality and did not look forward at his time in her home.
“M'Lady, Lord Waverley's carriage has been spotted ten miles from the edge of Eagle Manor,” Adeline offered her mistress a cloth to dry herself with. The young woman had worked for the Eagleton's since she was a mere ten years old and her friendship with her mistress was great.
Zianna was brought out of her thoughts, “Adie no one is around you can call me Zianna, we've been over this before.” She told her friend accepting the cloth and the hand that was offered to help her up from her bath.
Wrapping the cloth around her body she stepped behind her privacy screen and reached for the satin robe that Adeline was handing her. Tying a bow around her waist she stepped out and sat down at her vanity desk. Reaching up to her head she took out a long hair pin and her hair came unravelling down her back. She grabbed her brush and began to gently pull it through her long caramel brown hair, but before long the brush was taken out of her hand and Adeline took over from where she left off.
“If you'll let me...Zianna, may I ask why you do not wish for Lord Waverley to stay with us.”
“Well Adie I've heard much of Lord Waverley and his ..personality. You know as well as I do that my father didn't just do this out of the kindness of his heart. He sees Lord Waverley as marriage opportunity.” She said waving her hand and groaning. “My father has been talking about marriage ever since I turned sixteen.”
Adeline thought for a moment “Well it's only natural. You're almost seventeen. Your brothers are all married with their own children. Your his only daughter, he's worried is all.”
“Worried about what?”
“That you'll be alone when he and your mother are no longer here.” She said looking up to smile slightly at her mistress through the mirror.
“I suppose your right. But I-” A knock on the door alerted them to a presence, “Come in.” A small boy about the age of ten came into the room. “Michael what is it?”
“My Lady, Lord Waverley's carriage has been spotted entering the grounds. He will be here in five minutes.”
“Thank you. Tell my father I will be down shortly.” He nodded, bowed and left the room. “Looks like our conversation will have to wait.”
After Adeline had helped her dress and she was deemed presentable by her mother, she made her way to the grand staircase leading to the entrance. Whilst making her way she heard the sound of wheels on gravel and sighed. Lord Waverley had arrived.
* * *
James Waverley looked around the entrance of his home for the foreseeable future. He had been shocked when his father had told him the news that he would be staying at Eagle Manor. A thud on the marble floor alerted him to one of his trunks being set down.
“Lord Waverley, we are delighted to have you here.” Lord Alaric Eagleton stepped forward from the base of the staircase. He was a tall, thin man with close cropped black hair and green eyes. “My wife Elizabeth” He said gesturing as she followed him and curtseyed to their guest. James took her hand and lightly kissed the back.
Elizabeth had the same caramel brown hair as her daughter and was built the same way. Long, slender and willowy with graceful limbs and full lips, her eyes a warm brown. Her daughter had icy blue eyes instead of brown but they could both by warm and cold towards the object in her vision.
“Yes, delighted, ”a voice echoed. The two Lords and Lady Elizabeth looked up at the top of the staircase where Zianna stood with a light hand on the banister. She waltzed down the steps as fluid as water over stones and came to a stop between her parents.
Lord Waverley took her hand and placed a light kiss on the back. “Lady Zianna the stories do not lie about your beauty.”
“ And which stories would those be?” She enquired innocently enough. Lord Waverley looked taken aback and was saved from answering by Michael entering the room.
“Lords and Lady's dinner is served.”
Well lets not keep our food waiting, this conversation can wait awhile.” Elizabeth said interrupting her daughter and guest. The company nodded and followed Michael to the dinning hall where a welcome dinner was laid out. Each plate was identical. Beautifully cooked, sliced duck breast and some of the chefs own special sauce. Lettuce leaves and potatoes lining the border.
Lord Waverley moved Zianna's chair out for her to sit, and she did so, just without really acknowledging Lord Waverley with any warmth. Although she did not really know him she felt something she put down as hate. Her chair was pushed back in and the young Lord took a seat as close to her as possible, her displeasure adamant at this point.
The usual table chatter began: the "how was your journey's?" and "are your parents well's?" Zianna abstained from the conversation and James took note of it though didn't say anything. As the night drew to a close and their bellies were full Alaric stood up and asked for them to join voices in a toast to the coming year.
"May this coming year bring us closer together and strengthen our friendships. May this year bring new opportunities and new family," by the last part Alaric's heated gaze had travelled and began to eye James and Zianna. They raised their glasses and thus the night ended, though their time together was only just beginning.