House of Harwood-Tangled Beginnings by Olivia Batker Pritzker

Harwood front pageVote at the end of this episode!

We left off in House of Harwood with the mystery of Uncle Victor’s death solved and the family – mostly – reconciled. The revelation of who his killer was shocked some, while others understood it all too well. Now we return to an earlier time, before Clarissa Harwood came to be.

Episode 1

Clarissa Duvall slowly lolled her head from side to side, trying to see if her elaborately done-up curls would brush the tops of her shoulders. She craned her neck as far as it would go but the tightly wound curls dropped frustratingly below her ears and no further. Knowing she shouldn’t, she reached a white gloved hand up slowly to one perfect curl and pulled –

“Clarissa!”

Clarissa’s hand released the curl as if it had burned her. Her back snapped up straight.

Rose Duvall was striding toward her, her large dark green portrait hat falling just short of two beady eyes bright with fury.

“Is it truly impossible for you to sit still? Can I not let you out of my sight for one moment?”

She reached out and clamped iron fingers onto her daughter’s thin arm, lifting her up and inspecting her appearance the way her grandfather used to inspect the cows he bought from the town marketplace. Her eyes raked over every curl, making sure they were properly in place. When she was satisfied, Rose released her hold and stepped back.

“Well then let’s go, quickly now. The Harwoods are expecting us, and I don’t need to tell you that Victoria Harwood is not one to be kept waiting.”

Rose turned and, gliding out the front door of their modest yet sizeable home, summoned Rupert the carriage driver with a snap who looked, as he always did, one step behind.

Victoria Harwood, Clarissa silently repeated to herself as she trailed behind her mother. John Harwood. Those two names were all she’d heard lately. Every local society woman with a teenage daughter had been parading in and out of the grand Harwood home for weeks, each daughter sporting more lace and rouge and dropping more curtsies than the last. It was all the girls could talk about as well – the handsome Harwood heir coming of age, his family looking for a suitable bride. How wonderful it would be! Like a princess in a fairy tale.

Well not to Clarissa. At this moment, she would rather have been anywhere in the world than on her way to be presented to Victoria and John Harwood. She grimaced as the carriage bounced along.

Her thoughts were interrupted by their abrupt halt. Both she and Rose were thrown forward in their seats as the carriage skidded to a stop, and her mother, after shrieking at the driver, commenced her inspection of Clarissa once again to make sure not one hair had fallen out of place.

As they walked toward the imposing stone mansion, Clarissa had the strong urge to run away – kicking off her high heels and ripping the curls out of her hair, running barefoot across the lawn and down the road as fast as she could. Freedom.

Instead, she fixed her face into a perfect smile and stood unmoving before the great oak doors. Her mother’s gloved hand pulled the bell. Vote below on what will happen next or if viewing from email, click Take our Poll.

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