House of Harwood-Tangled Beginnings by Olivia Batker Pritzker

House of Harwood-Tangled Beginnings by Olivia Batker Pritzker

Vote at the end of this episode!

Previously, after Richard and Clarissa’s affair ends and he is banished from the house, Clarissa once again meets with the Harwoods. Readers voted that she still has no interest in the match.

Episode 8

Rose Duvall knew all too well how her world worked. She knew the sort of person Clarissa would have to marry and she knew that within that category, there would be better choices and worse choices. She knew that the Harwood boy was kind, good-looking, and would someday be wealthier than all the other families in their town put together. She knew how many prospective brides the Harwoods were considering, and she felt sure that her daughter was smart enough to play the game better than any of them. If she could only be convinced to play by the rules, she could become a member of the most influential family in the community. Rich, powerful, and almost revered by the townspeople who had all benefited from the Harwood’s prosperity – the family shone from their pedestal.

Of course, the Harwood family had its notoriety as well as virtuous fame. Stories of Victoria’s husband, Augustus, were often regaled in gleefully scandalized tones. He was a tall, imposing man, his bushy brow nearly obscuring severe, flinty eyes and his smile cold and calculating. When not running Harwood Industries and overseeing the numerous glass eye factories that had sprung up in town, it was rumored that Gus Harwood’s own very real and greedy eyes set upon every young woman who passed before him. There were other, more disturbing rumors as well, but Rose chose not to believe everything she heard.

After all, it wasn’t as if her own home hadn’t just barely escaped a would-be shocking scandal. This business with the horse handler – Rose knew her daughter was passionate and stubborn, but she thought she had raised her with more sense! Rose still closed her eyes in horror whenever she thought of it, passing delicate lace-gloved fingers over her face as if she could see the scene before her. Luckily her husband had taken care of the technicalities, which left Rose only with the mighty task of convincing her daughter what a terrible mistake she’d made, and that the Harwood match was her best possible chance at a good future.

And so they sat, day after day. Rose extolling the virtues of the Harwood family while Clarissa sighed and cried and swore she’d never be happy again. She didn’t touch her hair, didn’t protest when Rose dressed her up, and dutifully recited the names of various society people whom Rose deemed important. On the day that they were finally invited back to the mansion for lunch – an entire meal this time, Rose breathed ecstatically – Clarissa looked poised, beautiful, and utterly defeated. She felt that she would never love anyone as she had loved Richard, and that the rest of her life would be spent among the same boring people she had always known doing the same boring things until she eventually died. She faced Victoria Harwood with a resigned curtsy and a lovely forced smile, ready to accept her fate. Vote below on what will happen next or if viewing from email, click Take our Poll.

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