Tanya snuck a sidelong glance at the man sitting to her left, admiring how his chestnut hair was brushed perfectly across his forehead. He was incredibly good-looking. She absentmindedly fingered the silver cross around her neck, a recent present from Granny in a series of gifts meant to help her appear more respectable and ladylike. Tanya knew the man was from a family like the Harwoods, that his grandmother and Granny had been schoolgirls together, and that they often met for tea to discuss their respective matrilineal sagas. She didn’t know much more about him though – some university, some scandal – what had happened? She couldn’t quite remember. And now here he was, sitting at their Thanksgiving dinner table, grinning as he cut a piece of turkey and slid it decisively through a patch of gravy. Tanya cast her eyes back down and cut herself a small ladylike piece, considering it for a moment before bringing it to her lips.
Amy also eyed the man, but less subtly. Staring openly across the table at him, she cut her meat without looking at it and stuffed it into her mouth, chewing with eyes wide. Granny’s friend’s grandson…what had she heard about him, hadn’t something happened when he was away at school? She tried to gauge how old he was – older than her, for sure. Maybe around Tanya’s age. Of course that’s probably why he was here, Granny’s latest “gift” for Tanya. Amy bit her lip, feeling the familiar wave of jealousy, when a different thought hit her – could this be her chance? For a year she’d been plotting, trying to find a way to get back at Granny for her betrayal and reclaim what was rightfully hers as true heir to the Harwood fortune. The man looked up and noticed her staring, but Amy did not look away. A slow smile spread across her innocent face as she locked eyes with him.
“Our guest,” Sophia continued, “Nicholas Benedict. I’m sure you all know his grandmother, Irene.” Her eyes flashed to Granny for a moment before continuing. “He will be staying with us for a while, as he is presently -”
“Now Sophia, no need to tell the boy’s life story!” Granny interrupted with a small laugh. “Nicholas you’re very welcome, we want you to feel at home here. Please,” she said, eyes crinkling as she smiled, “think of us as family.”
“Yes of course,” murmured Sophia, somewhat defensively. “By all means, Nicholas -”
“Nick, please,” the young man interrupted gently. “Thank you for those kind words, and for your generous hospitality.” He looked around the table, first at Tanya, who gave a small smile, then at Amy’s direct gaze, at John James’ stoic expression, at Victoria, hiding behind her curtain of hair, at Sophia’s eager face, then back at Granny, and slowly smiled. “I already feel at home.”
Granny contentedly took a sip of wine. Nicholas’s presence was a stroke of unexpected good fortune. She had never expected this outcome from her lunch with Irene last month but it had become apparent, as the two women regaled each other of their woes, that the answer to both their problems was right before their eyes. Of course she knew Nicholas was a bit of a wild card, but in this world, who didn’t have secrets? Why did Nicholas need to stay with them? Please return to the top of this episode to vote on what happens next!