Near the James River in the Virginia Colony
“Ethan, dear, quit fidgeting with your cravat. You will ruin it before our guests arrive.”
Ethan watched his paternal grandmother, Sarah Huntington, tuck in the ends to his neck cloth. He struggled not to roll his eyes. He would have pushed her away, but she was not a person to upset. She had been by his grandfather’s side and assisted him in building their shipping company. Her visits to the dock taught her how to handle a man, and she could curse better than any sailor when she was riled. He knew this party was important for them, but he was not interested in finding a wife. This event was arranged for him and his cousin to meet the ladies of the surrounding area around Williamsburg. He felt it was a waste of time. He would have preferred discussing politics in a tavern or wandering around a ship building business instead of this humiliation. He glanced down and held his frustrated sigh.
She patted his face. “There, there. You have no need to panic. Your grandfather and I are here along with Jeremiah. We can assist you in picking out the perfect wife.”
The gleam in her eyes told him she was up to something and she had an uncanny way to read his thoughts. Ethan blew out his breath and rubbed the back of his neck to remove the pressure building there. “I am not upset about the guests, Grandmother. I am perfectly capable of finding my own wife.” He gave her a pointed look. “Without assistance.” He grinned and kissed her cheek. “Anyway, no one can compare to you, so your plan is doomed to fail before it begins.” He winked at her. “I am also not interested in anyone who is perfect.”
“You are a naughty boy.” She smacked his hand. “Behave or I may pick her out myself.” She searched his face. “There truly is no need for concern, Ethan. A wife will be good for you. You will see the benefits.”
Ethan knew he had to steer her thoughts in another direction or she would realize he did not want to marry yet. He hated disappointing her especially when she was so happy being on the plantation. “My concern revolves around Mother and Father.” Which was close to the truth. “They should have arrived from Maryland hours ago.” He hoped this would keep her busy for a few minutes. He walked to the window and looked out. “Father sent a note stating they would arrive yesterday. It is not like him to be late.” He turned quickly when he heard footsteps coming down the stairs. It was his cousin, Jeremiah, and the other person condemned to finding a wife at tonight’s ball.
Jeremiah, dressed in his formal attire, looked grimly at Ethan. He held out a folded piece of paper. “Marshall gave me this note a few moments ago.”
“What is it?” Sarah peeked over his arm and gasped. “Are you certain?”
Alistaire Huntington, paternal grandfather to the boys, walked in briskly which was amazing considering his age of sixty five. He rubbed his hands together. “Why is everyone standing around? We have guests arriving in the carriages.” He stopped and scanned the faces of his loved ones. His handsome grandsons, with similar looks to his lovely wife, did not seem happy at the moment. “What happened?”
Ethan held out the letter and rubbed between his eyes. “This was delivered recently.” He felt the pressure increasing behind his temples even after massaging them.
Alistaire snatched the paper to read. “What is the meaning of this?” He reached for the door and bellowed. “Marshall!” He turned and noticed his wife reaching blindly for a seat behind her. He rushed over. “Dear, do not worry. Ward and Barton know how to take care of themselves. They will probably escape and arrive before the ball has ended.” She looked up at him, nodded, and tears began to form in her eyes. Alistaire could handle anything except seeing her unhappy especially here at her special place. He vowed then to kill the culprits behind this evil plan.
Sarah shook her head. “My beautiful party is ruined. We cannot cancel things now.” Her mind was mulling things over. “How are we to search for them and entertain all of our friends?” She glanced out the window. “Everyone will be here within the half hour.”
Alistaire heard footsteps and Marshall’s discreet cough. “There you are.” He showed his butler the paper. “Do you know anything about this notice?” Alistaire paced the front entryway and waited for a response.
Marshall remained standing at the entrance and did not step one foot into the room. “No, sir.” He looked directly at his new boss. “I was helping cook carry in more water to the kitchens.” He puckered his mouth. “Samuel. You know the young stable hand. He told me to give it to you right away.”
Ethan frowned. “How did Samuel get the note?” He scratched his ear. “This is getting stranger by the moment. Marshall, please bring Samuel here, at once.” He motioned his hands to get the servant to move quickly.
The butler bowed and rushed out.
Jeremiah leaned against the mantel on the fireplace, which was located on the opposite side of the front door. “This situation seems odd to me too. Why would anyone leave a note to a boy, even if he is a stable hand? Especially if it was urgent?” He tugged on his cravat and looked at his cousin. A commotion outside caused him to quit fidgeting with his apparel.
Sarah groaned. “Our guests are here.” She straightened her dress and wiped her tears away. “Quickly, act as nothing has happened. We must be jovial until the night is over.” She smiled. “Even if it kills us. We can ponder this issue and look for them after everyone departs.” She placed Ethan to her left and Jeremiah to her right. “Paste a grin on your face now before the guests enter.” She nodded when they followed her guidance.
Alistaire peeked out the window and groaned. “Great, it’s Thomas. Our ungrateful and useless son-in-law.”
Sarah gave everyone stern stares especially when her grandsons began to snicker. “That will be enough. He is family after all.” She stepped forward and welcomed Thomas to her home. “Where is my darling daughter?” She glanced around his big body, but did not see anyone else.
Thomas coughed. “She is on her way. You know how Juliana adores gardens.” He strolled in and surveyed the grand entryway. “The house looks remarkably better than the last time we were here.”
Ethan scanned the large area with the high ceilings and delicate crown molding designed by his grandmother. The hardwood floor planks were made from the trees on the plantation. A master carver fashioned the expansive mantel. Sarah required him to include the family name and crest into the elaborate creation. Ethan knew his grandparents had spent a lot of time making this a comfortable home even if it cost a small fortune. His uncle’s comment annoyed him. “You were here in the middle of the building process, Uncle Thomas. Of course it is different.” A movement caught his eye and he noticed Samuel waiting shyly by the door. Ethan started forward to talk to him.
Thomas stepped in the way and steered Ethan towards a portrait hanging over the fireplace. “Martha, your great grandmother, was a beautiful woman when she was younger. Hmm, now that I think about it, artists during her time exaggerated features especially if the person was quite ugly.” Thomas snickered and slapped Ethan on the back. “Do not worry, old boy. You will have your pick of the available ladies. If you are lucky, she might have a pleasant face along with a fortune to pass along.” Thomas chuckled at Ethan’s grimace. “Come on and be a man. Things are not as bad as you think.”
Jeremiah had wandered back to the fireplace mantel after greeting a few guests. “We have not seen the ladies of the neighborhood yet, Uncle.
Lily Peyton and her sisters have been indulged by their father as they grew up. Now is the time for them to get married, but Lily is not thrilled with her choices. Lily tries to keep potential suitors at bay, but she is being pressured by the rules of society and her father.
Ethan Huntington wants to be a shipbuilder, but his grandparents have other ideas. His grandmother wishes he would settle down. He adores her and hates to make her sad, but he has goals he wants to accomplish without worrying about a spoiled female getting in his way.
Moonlight & Roses follows Lily and Ethan on a journey to unravel a mystery, but they find family intrigue along with a partner in life they never imagined possible. Despite society’s rules, will they still be able to reach their goals and make their dreams come true?
About the Author
Lisa Angelo released her first novel, Awakening to Love, in 2015. She prefers to write romantic comedies and to throw her characters into an adventure. Lisa met a lot of twenty-somethings at work and realized early on they learn faster when the lessons are entertaining. Lisa’s goal is to make learning exciting by plunging the reader into a unique and fascinating story. She combined her sense of fun, love of romance novels, interest in history, and research of the self-help genre to create her latest adventure—Moonlight & Roses.
Lisa is a wife and the mother of two children. She loves to travel, write, and spend time with family and friends. Lisa believes knowledge can come from anywhere and is fascinated to learn new things. She loves to watch movies, television, and people in general. She believes they offer clues to ways to make life better and provides nice quirks for her to incorporate into her stories.