A Governess’ Forbidden Flame (Preview)

Chapter One

As the old wooden carriage rattled along the uneven road, the rhythmic clatter of hooves on the cobblestones filled the air. Amelia Wycliffe peered out of the window, her eyes tracing the dark landscape as it shifted from the quaint, small village she had just passed through to the dense woods along the way toward her destination, the mysterious Ravenscroft Manor. The ominous gray clouds overhead seemed to mirror her uncertainty about the governess position she was about to interview for.

She sat on the plush cushion seat of the carriage, her delicate hands resting in her lap, clasping the formal invitation she had received for the interview, which was so much more than a mere letter. It held the promise of a new beginning. Her hazel eyes, a striking contrast to her bright, blonde locks, darted around nervously, reflecting the tumult of emotions within her. The subtle quiver of her lips betrayed the anxiety that was now gripping her, and her fingers traced absentminded patterns on the fabric of her dark cloak.

The landscape outside the carriage window seemed to echo her inner turmoil. The trees, with their twisted branches reaching toward the sky, appeared dense and mysterious, much like the uncertainties that clouded Amelia’s own mind. The looming clouds overhead mirrored the shadow of her past, casting a somber atmosphere over the journey to Ravenscroft Manor.

“This will be a good thing,” she said aloud to herself in an effort to calm her racing mind. Only, it was a futile effort. 

Despite the beauty that surrounded her—the vibrant hues of autumn leaves and the serene landscapes—the beauty of nature seemed lost on Amelia. Her gaze lingered on the passing scenery, but her thoughts were consumed by the uncertainties that lay ahead of her, on the new path she had been thrust upon. In contrast to the tranquility of the countryside, Amelia’s internal landscape was anything but serene. The gossip that had hounded her in the wake of her last position clung to her like a persistent shadow, and the weight of her past mistakes pressed heavily on her shoulders.

Mistakes? She frowned to herself at the thought. 

She did not make any mistakes herself. They belonged to someone else, but unfortunately, she was forced to bear the brunt of the consequences, whether she wanted to or not. That was the unfairness of the world she was living in. 

Her posture in the carriage reflected a delicate balance between poise and restlessness. The occasional glance over her shoulder betrayed her fear of being pursued by the whispers of the past. Yet, amid the worry that etched her features, there was determination in her hazel eyes—an unwavering resolve to seize the opportunity offered by the earl, and to carve a new path for herself in the face of lingering doubts. After all, that was the only thing she could do, run away and start anew.

Amelia knew that there was still quite a way to go, so she decided to write letters to two friends who might not understand her inclination to accept this position, but still, she wished to inform them of her intentions as well as of her state of mind. 

Amelia’s delicate, gloved hands unfolded a small piece of parchment from her bag, and she retrieved a well-worn quill and a vial of ink. The carriage, though slightly cramped, provided just enough space for her to compose a letter to her younger sister, Penelope, who had always been so much more than just that, but also a friend and a confidant. The rhythmic jostling of the carriage on the uneven road added an unintentional cadence to her thoughts.

With the quill poised over the parchment, Amelia took a moment to collect her thoughts. She never had any secrets from Penelope, and she had no intention of creating any now. The inkwell balanced precariously on her lap as she began to write, the nib of the quill dancing across the paper in graceful strokes. The dim light filtering through the carriage window illuminated her earnest expression as she carefully chose each word.

My dearest Penelope, 

I trust this letter finds you in the best of spirits amidst the hustle and bustle of the big city that I am currently leaving. As I write to you, I find myself enveloped in a whirlwind of emotions, a mix of excitement and trepidation that accompanies the unfolding of a new chapter. 

A most intriguing opportunity has presented itself, drawing me away from the world that only sets out to judge me for something I was not even to blame for. But I have decided not to dwell on it. The Earl of Ravenscroft has accepted my application and has extended an invitation for an interview that has sparked a flame of hope within my weary heart. This new position as a governess holds the promise of not only a livelihood and the opportunity to do what I believe I was born to do but, more importantly, a chance to cast off the shadows of the past and finally live in the present, unashamed, and dare I say, even happy. 

The mere thought of stepping onto the cobblestone path leading to Ravenscroft Manor fills me with both anticipation and unease. The tales that circulate about the manor’s mystique and the earl’s formidable reputation have reached even the most secluded corners of society. Yet, my dear sister, rest assured that your Amelia is no stranger to navigating the intricate dance of propriety and decorum. 

In these moments of uncertainty, I find solace in the idea that the journey to Ravenscroft Manor may be the path to redemption and a sanctuary from the relentless whispers that have haunted my steps since my last employment. I carry your love and encouragement like a precious talisman, a source of strength that accompanies me on this carriage ride through the picturesque countryside. 

As the carriage clatters along the winding road, I can’t help but marvel at the beauty of the changing seasons. The hues of autumn paint the landscape with a palette of warm, comforting colors, a stark contrast to the anxieties that flicker within my heart. 

I pledge to exercise utmost caution and prudence during my stay at Ravenscroft Manor. Your sister will be vigilant and wise, heeding the lessons of our upbringing and the wisdom you’ve always shared with me. I promise to tread with caution, my steps guided by the values instilled in us by dear Mother and Father. 

I shall write to you promptly upon receiving word of whether the position is to be mine. Until then, hold me in your thoughts and prayers. 

Yours, with all the affection in my heart, 


She folded the letter neatly, with much tenderness and care, wondering if she had mentioned everything she wanted to say. It would have been so much easier to have Penelope here, to see her gentle smile and hear her melodious voice. With a heavy sigh, she then extracted another sheet of paper in an effort to write another letter, for there was someone else who had to know of the tumult in her soul as she found herself on the cusp of a new path in life. 

She feared that Rosalind, her best friend, might not understand why she had chosen to accept this invitation because Rosalind had always been a keen believer in the strength of fate. Only Amelia knew that sometimes, fate favored those who were bold enough to take matters into their own hands. In this particular instance, she believed that all the odds were stacked against her. If they hadn’t been, she would have found a position as a governess already in the city she had always called her home. 

Yet, she hadn’t. She knew why that was. It seemed that everyone knew why that was, and this was proving to be a stain on her reputation that she would not be able to wash away that easily, regardless of the fact that she had done nothing wrong, other than act upon her own sense of morality and righteousness. Once again, she felt the heavy grip of unfairness on her throat, making it increasingly more difficult to breathe. 

She calmed her breathing, closing her eyes, and feeling the grip of the quill pen between her fingers. This act always managed to soothe her. Writing letters and a diary had always been an outlet for her thoughts, a way to have a conversation almost with her own self and provide some solace and advice from an objective point of view. 

In this instance, she knew one thing. She was powerless to fight, but not powerless to run away. Sometimes, one had to become aware of the fact that, in order to win a war, one had to lose a battle. And this was the battle she had agreed to lose, in hopes that somewhere down the line, she would emerge victorious, with her dignity intact. 

She placed the tip of the quill on the paper and started to write, allowing the words to pour out of the very depths of her heart. 

My dearest Rosalind,

As I sit with a quill in hand, I am filled with both a sense of duty and an ache of melancholy. The carriage presses on toward Ravenscroft Manor, and I find myself reflecting on the years that have woven the tapestry of our friendship. 

It seems like only yesterday that we, two young souls on the precipice of womanhood, forged a bond that time and distance could never sever. How many afternoons have we spent in the garden, sharing laughter and secrets beneath the dappled shade of the oak tree? The echo of those moments, the resonance of our shared joys and sorrows, reverberates within my very being as I write this. 

The news I bring is twofold. Excitement and trepidation are intertwined like the threads of our dearest embroidery. The Earl of Ravenscroft has extended an invitation for an interview, an opportunity that holds the promise of a new chapter, where I would once again be able to do what I love to do. My heart swells with the prospect of this venture, but at the same time, it constricts at the thought of leaving behind all that is familiar, including the warmth of our enduring friendship. 

Rosalind, you have been the confidante of my dreams and the sanctuary of my fears. The thought of being miles away from your comforting presence feels like a poignant farewell to a cherished part of myself. As I write these words, the ink on the parchment seems inadequate to capture the depth of my emotions. How do I convey the bittersweet pang that accompanies the anticipation of change? The bond we share, my dearest friend, transcends the limits of space and time. Though I may be physically distant, the essence of our friendship remains eternally intertwined.

As I pen these words, I am keenly aware that the miles between us will only strengthen the bond we share. I promise to write diligently, sharing the details of my new adventure, and eagerly await your letters filled with the news of our beloved town and the everyday wonders that make up our lives.

Until the quill meets paper again, know that you remain in the forefront of my thoughts and the chambers of my heart.

Yours in loving friendship, 


Just as she finished her letter, the carriage rattled to an unexpected halt, the abrupt cessation of its rhythmic movement sending a shiver down Amelia’s spine. She instinctively gripped the letters tightly in her hands, the act mirroring that of a drowning man clasping at last straws that might save his life. 

This was the last thing she needed…more obstacles. 

Chapter Two

Peering out of the window, she was met with a foreboding scene. The darkness was gradually descending, casting long shadows across the countryside. The once-charming landscape, now obscured by the encroaching night, seemed to transform into an eerie tableau. The gnarled branches of the trees, silhouetted against the darkening sky, took on a haunting quality, threatening to reach out to her at any moment and snatch her away into the darkness. 

In the dimming light, Amelia strained her eyes to observe the tall coachman as he valiantly worked to free the horses from the clutches of the deep mud. His silhouette emerged from the encroaching darkness, a rugged figure with a weathered hat perched firmly on his head, its brim casting a shadow over his determined features. He almost seemed like a tree himself, tearing its legs out of the ground like roots, in an effort to come to her rescue. 

Amelia tried to banish this thought from her mind. Penelope always thought she had a vivid imagination, and imagining men as trees certainly fell into that category. 

“Is everything all right?” she asked, bringing herself back to the present moment. 

The answer to her question was obvious. Still, she couldn’t handle the oppressive silence any longer. She could almost feel it gripping her own throat, demanding silence of her as well, until they were all swallowed into the darkness and eternal quietude. She needed to hear the man speak, even if it was to share bad news. 

The man turned to her, lifting his hat only enough to reveal a part of his face. Despite his rugged features, she was grateful not to be alone in this place. “Stay inside, miss,” he instructed patiently, instead of replying to her question. “We got stuck in the mud.” 

“Maybe I should get out?” she suggested. “And take out my bag to make the carriage lighter?” 

The suggestion sounded silly. She was not nearly as heavy to be the one responsible for keeping the carriage stuck in the mud, but she hated feeling helpless while she watched the coachman do all the work. Besides, she could not waste a single moment longer. She needed to arrive at her destination on time. Otherwise, she would never get the chance to rectify the blemish of a bad first impression. 

“No, no,” he assured her, waving his hand in the air. “You might soil your nice clothes and shoes. Stay inside. I can handle this. We’ll get back on the road in no time.” 

The coachman’s broad shoulders moved with a rhythmic effort as he tugged on the reins, his muscular frame highlighted by the dying sunlight and the little threads of light it was leaving in the distance. A worn coat, bearing the signs of countless journeys and unpredictable weather, draped over him like a second skin. His hands, calloused and stained with the residue of labor, grasped the leather reins with practiced precision.

The horses, noble creatures adorned in fine leather harnesses, were a study in contrasts. Their sleek coats, once gleaming in the daylight, now bore the mud-spattered evidence of their struggle. Powerful muscles rippled beneath the surface as they strained against the muck, their breath visible in the cool evening air.

Amelia could sense the frustration in the coachman’s every movement, the strain etched on his face as he spoke soothing words to the horses. The animals, with eyes wide and nostrils flaring, mirrored his determination. Their hooves sank into the mud, creating a symphony of squelching sounds that underscored the predicament.

The descending darkness enveloped the scene, casting long shadows that danced with the flickering light of the carriage lanterns. The once-vibrant hues of the countryside now muted into a tapestry of grays and blacks, and the ominous stillness of the evening heightened the sense of isolation.

Amelia, sensing the coachman’s mounting frustration, took a deep breath, steadied herself, and decided to alight from the carriage. The worn door creaked open, and a cool breeze greeted her as she stepped out onto the muddy ground. The ominous darkness now enveloped her, and the only sources of light were the lanterns affixed to the sides of the carriage. Somehow, he didn’t seem surprised to see her come out. 

“It won’t budge,” he sighed heavily, as his shoulders slumped and the air of determination that had surrounded him moments ago seemed to dissipate into the night air. 

Amelia nodded, stealing a glance around the dimly lit surroundings. The night had almost fully descended, but amidst the shadows and the struggling trees, she could see the distant silhouette of a grand manor house against the night sky. All of a sudden, some previously lost hope flared up inside of her. Not all was lost yet, it seemed. 

“Is that Ravenscroft Manor?” she asked, her eyes adjusting to the darkness as they made sense of the hazy shapes in the distance. 

The coachman didn’t say anything at first. Instead, he glanced in the same direction, as if he himself wasn’t certain. The undeniable grandeur of the manor, its spires reaching upward like sentinels in the night, seemed to beckon to her. The dim glow of distant lights hinted at the mystery of life within those ancient walls, which had numerous stories to tell all those willing to listen. Despite the challenges at hand, a spark of anticipation flickered within Amelia’s heart. The manor, once an indistinct feature on the horizon, now felt close enough to touch.

He didn’t need to respond for her to know it. It was as if she had seen it before, perhaps in a dream. A part of her recognized the place immediately. A part of her knew that it was the place she had been searching for. Perhaps this was a sign that she was where she was supposed to be. She could not be completely certain of any of that, as night had a way of playing tricks on the mind of a weary traveler, but she decided to believe her initial thought. After all, she had nothing else to hold onto. 

“It seems like a manageable walk,” she said, both to herself and to the man standing next to her. 

“Walk?” the man gasped in disbelief. 

Amelia had no idea when was the last time she heard such a big, strong-looking man gasp like a small child. His weathered face betrayed a mixture of incredulity and a certain wariness. He hesitated to continue, as if carefully choosing his words before cautioning her. 

“Miss,” he began, his voice measured and grave, almost fatherly, “it is not wise to traverse these grounds after nightfall.” It was both a threat and a warning.

“Why not?” she asked, although she was aware of what some claimed regarding the manor. She wanted to hear it from him. 

Word of Ravenscroft Manor had reached even her own city. She had always considered herself a reasonable person who did not choose to listen to old wives’ tales, but rather chose to rely on common sense and logic. Common sense taught her that people in the countryside were prone to believing in all sorts of supernatural things when it came to deaths that might seem even slightly suspicious. It was simply their manner of explaining life when it failed to fit a certain mold.

“Folks around these parts speak of eerie happenings and shadowy apparitions,” he explained in a way she had expected him to, although it was still strange to have such a burly man tell tales like an old woman. “Everyone says that family is cursed, people keep dying in unexplained ways, and anyone who treads too close to them might have the misfortune of having the same fate.” 

His words hung in the air, carrying a weight that made Amelia pause. She glanced toward Ravenscroft Manor, its imposing silhouette now appearing more foreboding under the veil of night. The glow of distant lights seemed to take on an otherworldly quality, and the rustling leaves whispered cautionary tales in the cool night breeze. However, even with all this presented to her, she did not even consider changing her mind and going back. There was nowhere to go back to. She had to create her own future, and this was the only way to do so, by becoming victorious over fear.

She knew that some members of the Ravenscroft family had died young. That in itself was enough for people to weave cautionary tales. That, along with the fact that they liked to keep to themselves, away from prying eyes, only made them appear even more mysterious and their home even more ominous. It was only natural that all sorts of tales would be weaved around them, deeming them cursed and plagued. She could explain all of this in very simple, logical terms. But this man would not hear reason. She could tell that much immediately. 

“I would strongly advise you against walking, miss,” the coachman continued, bringing her back to the present moment. “It is not a risk one should take lightly.” 

“I am not afraid of the dark,” she smiled at the man, hoping to reassure him. It was a smile that was supposed to embolden her as well. 

He shook his head. “It is not the dark you should fear.” 

“What is it then?” she wondered, although again, she could venture a pretty good guess. 

“Whatever is hiding in the dark,” he replied, and despite all conscious effort, she felt a rush of goosebumps lift all the little hairs on her back. It was one thing to hear about these curses in the comfort of her drawing room in the hustle and bustle of the big city, and something completely different hearing about it while stuck in the middle of the dark woods at nightfall. 

“I would walk with you, but I cannot leave my carriage and horses here, for fear of something happening to them,” the man explained, sounding apprehensive himself. She wondered if he would walk there with her even if the circumstances were different. She could not claim with certainty that he would. The fear in his eyes was palpable. 

Undeterred by the coachman’s cautionary words, she mustered all of her determination and eyed him with a resolved gaze. “I truly understand that, and I do appreciate your concern, good sir, but I am determined to reach Ravenscroft Manor as soon as possible. However, if you would be so kind as to provide me with a lantern, the light will be my guide through the woods. Darkness itself shall not harm me.”

The man eyed her as a father would eye a daughter he was fearful for. Her heart clenched at this look. She wondered if the man had a daughter of his own to whom he was rushing back on this dark evening. Hope filled her heart that one day, she would have someone of her own to run home to. But not today. 

“Is there no way I can persuade you to wait here, with me, until I get the carriage out of the mud?” he asked again. “It might not take that long at all.” 

She shook her head decisively. “I fear I might be already late, which in turn might leave a bad first impression. I have not a moment to spare. I must make haste, even if that means traversing through the woods.” 

The man sighed, looking defeated by her words. He proceeded to retrieve a small lantern from the carriage. Its warm glow flickered to life, casting a protective, almost angelic circle of light around her. The soft, amber hue seemed to dance with the shadows as she held the lantern aloft. She relished its soft light, almost like a reassuring embrace that would keep her warm in the cold night.

“Please…be careful, miss,” he cautioned her once more. “May the light be your shield on this journey and keep the darkness far away. The manor isn’t far, that much is true, but…tread with care.” 

She could hear the fear and concern in his voice, but not even that dissuaded her. She had to keep going, no matter what. With a nod of gratitude, Amelia took the lantern in one hand and her valise in the other, setting forth on the muddy path toward Ravenscroft Manor. The mud sucked at her boots with a disconcerting squelch, making each movement a deliberate effort. The darkness magnified the challenge, the muck transforming into an abyss of uncertainty as she pressed forward.

The night, wrapped in an inky cloak, pressed in from all sides, and the rustling leaves overhead whispered secrets that seemed to dance just beyond the edge of her perception. The trees, their branches contorted in eerie shapes, cast long shadows that played tricks on Amelia’s imagination. Every subtle sound—the creaking of branches, the distant hoot of an owl, the murmur of unseen creatures—contributed to the atmosphere of quiet suspense.

Amelia couldn’t help but feel a shiver of fear crawl up her spine, the isolation of the night magnifying every rustle and creak. She reminded herself to be reasonable, to attribute the unease to the unfamiliarity of the surroundings rather than succumbing to the tales of curses and apparitions.

Her lantern, a solitary beacon in the dark, painted a limited radius of visibility around her. Beyond its comforting glow, the night remained a mysterious expanse, and the looming silhouette of Ravenscroft Manor became more pronounced as she drew nearer. The ivy-covered walls seemed to absorb the light, adding to the eerie beauty of the ancient estate.

As Amelia approached the imposing entrance of Ravenscroft Manor, the lantern’s glow flickering in the muted night, she summoned her courage and rapped the heavy knocker against the sturdy door. The sound echoed in the stillness, a solitary signal that resonated through the grandeur of the ancient estate.

She wondered silently if she would find here what she had been so desperately searching for. 

Chapter Three

Moments later, the old wooden door creaked open, revealing a well-dressed butler standing on the threshold. His countenance was as stoic as the stone facade of the manor, and his sharp gaze met Amelia’s with an air of formality, while his eyes spoke more than his lips ever could.

Before he could say anything, she felt the need to explain why she had arrived so late. First impressions were crucial, she knew this well, and the butler was the first person who had greeted her here. 

“Good evening,” she smiled a little nervously, feeling already tongue-tied. “I apologize for arriving so late, but you see, my carriage got stuck in the mud, and I had to walk a portion of the road.” 

The butler eyed her without any expression, when a flicker of recognition appeared in his eyes. “Ah, you must be Miss Wycliffe.” 

“Yes.” She smiled more warmly this time in an effort to fight off her growing apprehension. “Amelia Wycliffe.” 

He nodded upon hearing her name, but he did not use it to address her. “Please, follow—” he started, but he wasn’t allowed to finish because someone shouted Amelia’s last name so loudly that it reverberated throughout the entire manor house, like an arrow of sound piercing right through Amelia’s ears. 

“Miss Wycliffe?” A tiny little voice called out, but it was still loud enough to fill the air around them. “Is that her?” 

A moment later, the butler was suddenly displaced by a burst of pure energy. A beautiful young girl with lively eyes and an infectious smile replaced him, squealing with delight at the sight of Amelia, seemingly having appeared out of thin air. 

“Miss Wycliffe! Oh, I’ve been so excited for your arrival!” the girl exclaimed, her enthusiasm palpable as she introduced herself, clapping her two little hands together several times. “My name is Anna, and I am so happy you are here!” 

Before Amelia could respond, Anna threw her arms around her in an impulsive hug, the warmth of genuine joy radiating from the young girl. Their laughter filled the large corridor, creating an unexpected contrast to the stately silence that usually enveloped such a grand estate.

Amelia, accepting this sudden burst of joy, returned the embrace, which was strangely soothing on this odd night that seemed to hold even more mystery ahead of her. “I am also happy to be here, Anna.” 

“How was your trip?” Anna pulled away, asking a million questions. “Was it long? Did you bring something to read? Or do you prefer to look out the window when you travel? I like to look out the window. It’s nice. I like to look at the trees and the sun…oh, and the lake! There is a lake here, you know. It is so lovely, especially in the springtime when the wildflowers blossom all around it. Oh, but you must see it for yourself!” 

The two of them, caught up in the spontaneity of the moment, shared genuine laughter that echoed through the halls. However, in the midst of their joyous encounter, it became apparent that Amelia’s once-pristine dress had borne the brunt of the mud-laden journey. As Anna pulled back from the hug, a realization flashed across her face.

“Oh, dear! I’ve managed to get mud on myself from your dress. My apologies!” Anna exclaimed, still with that joyous gleam in her eyes. Amelia couldn’t help but feel a surge of tenderness for this sweet girl who was apologizing for something that was not her fault at all. It was Amelia’s for being late, for coming here, appearing completely the opposite of what a well-respected governess ought to appear. 


A thunderous voice tore them apart from each other. The laughter ceased immediately, and a hush settled over the scene as if a dark cloud had descended, ruining what was moments ago a perfectly sunny day. 

“Is that any way to behave in front of guests?” the man demanded, and momentarily, Anna looked down at her feet, obviously feeling ashamed. 

“Oh, please…this is all my fault,” Amelia started, feeling at a loss for words. 

The man didn’t introduce himself. But then again, he did not need any introduction. Amelia knew very well who he was simply from the way he held himself. She also knew that she couldn’t allow the earl to chastise this sweet little girl, as she had brought a breath of fresh air to Amelia’s very existence. 

“The carriage got stuck in the mud,” she explained. “And that is why I was late. Your niece was simply impatient to meet me, as was I to meet her, so please, do not hold this against her. It is all my fault, really.” 

She exchanged a meaningful glance with Anna, who smiled, but her smile quickly faded and gave way once again to shame. 

“Tell Mrs. Tolley to prepare dinner for you,” the earl addressed Anna, without replying to Amelia first. “It is far too late for you to be frolicking about.” 

“And you?” Anna asked, sounding hopeful. 

“I have to speak to Miss Wycliffe,” he replied, turning to Amelia again. 

Their eyes locked, and Amelia could only now take a good look at the man standing in front of her. His dark hair looked soft to the touch; his features were chiseled, and the intensity of his gray eyes seemed to pierce through the layers of mystery that surrounded him. The flickering candlelight cast shadows on his strong jawline and accentuated the depth of his brooding gaze.

He stood tall and commanding, a figure both powerful and enigmatic. The well-tailored clothes adorned his muscular frame, enhancing the air of authority that seemed to exude from him. There was an undeniable magnetism in his presence, a force that drew attention and held it captive. She could easily imagine him being the most desirable of all eligible bachelors at a ball. 

“Miss Wycliffe,” he addressed her formally, offering her his hand in a much-anticipated moment of official greeting.

She hesitated for a moment, then shook it. In that moment, the air crackled with unspoken tension, an invisible thread weaving between them. Everything about this man was alluring, from the way his brows furrowed to the way the corners of his lips curled slightly upward, refusing to allow even the slightest of smiles. 

Their handshake lingered longer than customary, but neither of them seemed to notice. She found herself captivated by more than just his external allure. His attractiveness went beyond his striking physical appearance and muscular build. His reserved demeanor, coupled with the enigmatic gleam in his eyes, hinted at depths yet to be explored. There was a sense of unread chapters in the book of his life, and she felt an irresistible pull to uncover the truths that lay within. 

“My lord,” she finally found the words to address him as formally as he had addressed her, but her heart fluttered at being so close to him that she could smell the faint fragrance of his cologne. “I must apologize for my tardiness.” 

“I suppose some circumstances are beyond our control,” he said, and she took this as him accepting her apology, although not in those exact words. 

Amelia felt a subtle shift in the atmosphere as the earl’s gaze lingered upon her. The charged intensity that had sparked between them now bore a nuance of awareness. As their eyes met, a realization dawned on her—the once-elegant gown she wore had borne the brunt of the mud-laden journey. The delicate fabric now clung to her, stained and soiled, a testament to the challenges she faced on the way to Ravenscroft Manor.

A flush of self-consciousness washed over Amelia as she acknowledged the state of her attire. The grandeur of the manor seemed to amplify the contrast between her disheveled appearance and the refined setting around her. In that moment, she became acutely aware of the need for a change.

He seemed to have been able to read her mind. “Why don’t you have a change of clothes before we continue with the interview?” he suggested, in what she would find to be his customary brevity. “Stevens will show you to the guest chamber.” 

Amelia realized that Stevens, the butler, had removed himself from plain view the moment Anna burst into the entryway, but he had not left the two ladies alone. He watched on, silent and invisible, yet omnipresent, as a good butler ought to be. 

“I would be grateful for that.” She smiled, trying to conceal her nervous state. 

His words, though polite, carried an undertone that hinted at his keen perception. The offer, however, delivered with a formality that she had already expected, resonated in the quiet corridors of Ravenscroft Manor. It was somehow an unspoken acknowledgment that went beyond the need for mere practicality. Amelia decided to see this as her chance to shed the remnants of the journey, the prejudice, the fear, and the doubt, and perhaps, to present herself anew. 

“I shall wait in my study,” he informed her, turning around and disappearing down the darkened corridor. 

Anna lifted her gaze and smiled at her again. “I still think you are beautiful, even in a muddy gown.” 

Amelia couldn’t help but smile back at this sweet angel who was obviously endeavoring to build up her courage before the interview was to take place. 

“You are so sweet.” Amelia nodded, resisting the urge to caress the little girl’s cheek. It would probably be too forward of her to show so much affection so early on. “Now, off you go to have dinner.” 

Anna turned to run, but before she did so, her gaze lingered on Amelia a moment longer. “I hope you stay with us for a long time, Miss Wycliffe.”

“I hope so, too, Anne,” Amelia replied, watching Anna disappear down the same corridor. 

Now, she was alone with the butler, who motioned for her to follow him. As she walked, her steps were measured, the subtle rustle of her soiled gown a reminder of the challenges she had left behind, or perhaps, the challenges yet to come. 

The butler, having shown her to the guestroom, discreetly left her to her own devices. Closing the door behind him, the subtle click resonated through the room, leaving Amelia in a cocoon of quietude. The scent of polished wood and a hint of lavender wafted in the air, soothing her senses.

In the stillness of the guestroom, Amelia allowed herself a moment to collect her thoughts. The flickering candlelight danced on the walls, casting shadows that seemed to carry the echoes of the night’s events. The anticipation from the encounter with the earl lingered, but now she had a moment to compose herself before facing the enigmatic figure once more.

As she proceeded to change her clothes, she remembered the exchanged words, the measured cadence of the earl’s voice, which resonated with a magnetic allure. His every movement, deliberate and purposeful, only fueled her sudden and unexpected fascination with this man. Her body reacted in a way she hadn’t anticipated. Her cheeks flushed. Her heart raced. A strange warmth spread throughout her entire body from a mere glance sent in her direction. She tried to assure herself that it was merely the effect of a long journey and the uncertain prospects of her future. Nothing else. 

Shortly after, she stood before the looking glass, her transformation complete. The reflection staring back at her exuded a quiet strength, a determination that belied the uncertainties that lingered in the grand corridors beyond the confines of the guestroom. 

Ready to face the earl anew, Amelia opened the door and stepped back into the enigmatic embrace of Ravenscroft Manor.

“A Governess’ Forbidden Flame” is an Amazon Best-Selling novel, check it out here!

Lady Amelia Wycliffe, once esteemed governess, faces an unexpected upheaval when her position in the Davenport family dissolves. Embracing an uncertain future, she accepts a new role at Ravenscroft Manor, a place tinged with mysterious deaths. Stepping into the foreboding estate, Amelia meets the brooding Earl of Ravenscroft, sole guardian of his spirited niece, and is immediately taken by him. As she wrestles with tempestuous attraction, she uncovers chilling secrets within the manor’s façade.

Can she endure this perilous dance of passion and deception?

Sebastian Blackthorn, the enigmatic Earl of Ravenscroft, sequestered for three years, shunning the ton and its gossip. In a desperate search for a governess for his niece, he invites Lady Amelia, an alluring beauty with a humble background, to interview for the governess position. However, Sebastian grapples with the instant attraction he feels for Amelia, fearing the consequences of his emotions. As he delves into her background and the rumors surrounding her departure from her previous post, he discovers a connection intensifying their magnetic pull.

Will he succumb to lust or will family shadows deter him from love?

Amelia and Sebastian’s burgeoning romance faces its greatest challenge as they unearth the hidden library in Ravenscroft Manor. Together, they discover ancient documents that reveal a shocking truth about Sebastian’s deceased brother. Will their connection withstand the wicked forces conspiring against them, or will the pursuit of justice unravel the delicate threads of their forbidden romance?

“A Governess’ Forbidden Flame” is a historical romance novel of approximately 80,000 words. No cheating, no cliffhangers, and a guaranteed happily ever after.

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