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Nicholaa Spencer

Nicholaa Spencer


Nicholaa Spencer is the author of the romance novel, Marrying A Wannabe Nun and the upcoming historical romance novel, The Traitor’s Daughter.

She studied Information Technology in one of the premiere technological colleges in the Philippines and then took creative writing classes in The Open University. A member of the International Association of Aspiring Authors and the International Association of Conscious & Creative Writers, Nicholaa’s aims are to broaden her audience, make new friends in the writing world and see her book on the same shelf with the bestsellers.

Currently, Nicholaa is finishing The Traitor's Daughter while taking up ghostwriting and editing jobs. When not glued on her laptop, you can see her reading books, painting, walking her dogs, overdosing in coffee or binge-watching Game of Thrones.

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The Traitor's Daughter

Lady Genevieve married Lord Aidan to be safe from her father's enemies, but Aidan's kisses are more dangerous than threats from her foes...

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Romantic Fiction
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TITLE: The Traitor's Daughter
AUTHOR: Nicholaa Spencer


Lady Genevieve married Lord Aidan to be safe from her father's enemies, but Aidan's kisses are more dangerous than threats from her foes...

GENRE: Historical Romance


The Traitor's Daughter is a historical romance novel set in England, 1060, during the reign of William the Conqueror. Uprisings led by Edgar the AEtheling are causing havoc until a loyal viscount, Lord Ainsworth, discovered this treachery but dies because of it. Only his daughter now has the key to exposing Edgar the AEtheling's coup-d'-etat before it's too late.

I am honored to be the best person to write this enchanting novel, The Traitor's Daughter, because I am not just the author. I am living in their world as realistically as how I live my real life. To me, Genevieve and Aidan are two people who breathe in the same air I breathe. To me, they are extensions of my private world and to be able to tell their story to the world is something that I am longing for since I first imagined Aidan's handsome smirk and Genevieve's stubborn antics. I daresay anyone who wants to feel that they are not alone, that someone loving them is just around the corner and waiting for them to call would want to read this fantastic story of revenge and pure love.


PRIMARY: The women making up the 84% of romance book buyers and the men comprising the 16%. Among them, 64% read romance more than once a month; 35% buy romance more than once a month. In addition, The Traitor's Daughter can expect a large volume of audience because historical romance is the second most read genre in print romance suspense category while it ranks fourth on digital/e-book romance suspense category.

Source: Nielsen Books and Consumer Tracker

SECONDARY: Fans of Julie Garwood and Jude Deveraux's historical romance novels will be happy to add The Traitor's Daughter to their bookshelves. The Traitor's Daughter was written in a style comparable to Jude Deveraux's Velvet Series and Julie Garwood's The Prize, The Bride, Honour's Splendor and her other earlier historical romance novels.


Lord Ainsworth's severed head is on display at the city gate and there is no choice for his only child, Genevieve, but to flee, yet the brave lady remained in Ainsworth stronghold and held on to what is hers, with only a small contingent left to protect her and a secret that will bring her father's enemies next to the scaffold.

Viscount Aidan Brandon suspects that there is something wrong with Lord Ainsworth's treason
against William the Conqueror. After all, the man was a faithful subject. When he heard that the brother of the dead Ainsworth is putting up Lady Genevieve's hand in auction, Aidan decides to claim Genevieve for himself so he can pry the secret she might be holding.

Secrets, lies, deception and passion tangle Aidan and Genevieve's tumultuous and fiery marriage. Is her forced marriage with a powerful man enough to protect her or does being in Aidan's warm arms every night even more dangerous than the secret her father did not take to the grave?


I am continuously marketing The Traitor's Daughter on my author site with more than 1,000 followers and on my Twitter account with a thousand real readers and authors as followers. I am also in touch with many book reviewers who have notable presence in the Internet world. Reviews are expected to be released on October. A book tour is also expected to begin on or before November.


Word Count: 80,000

Page Count: 320


Title of the book 1 page

Copyright/License Notes 1 page

Dedication 1 page

Chapter 1

This chapter shows an overview of Lady Genevieve's life in Scotland and her relationship with her father, Lord William, before he was taken to London to be tried for treason. Genevieve fights off the attacks on the holding but was devastated when she learns that her father was already executed. Her uncle. Lord Beaumont, comes to Ainsworth to claim the viscounty left by Lord William. He uses Genevieve to forge an alliance with another noble family.

Chapter 2

This chapter introduces the noblemen who try to ask for Genevieve's hand in marriage. Two suitors come and fail to win Genevieve's heart, but the third suitor in the name of Aidan Brandon comes, sees and conquers.

Chapter 3

This chapter shows how Aidan courts Genevieve. The tough lady does not surrender to Aidan's charm because she sees that he is not also wholly committed to being her future husband. To settle everything once and for all, Aidan and Genevieve plays a game of chess to see who will have the last say. Lord Beaumont is so pleased with the proposal that he rushes the marriage. Genevieve, however, escapes from the holding hours before the wedding.

Chapter 4

This chapter accompanies Aidan in the search for his runaway bride. He takes Genevieve back to Ainsworth to formally marry her in a ceremony. However, Aidan's plan is only to marry her. Genevieve feels neglected and insulted when her husband fails to be with her every night and only shows up a few times a day. She hates that Aidan behaves like an unmarried man with no wife waiting for him. They fight over frivolous things but this also paves the way for Lord Beaumont's banishment from Ainsworth.

Chapter 5

This chapter shows how Genevieve develops her loyalty to Aidan. Aidan's court enemies visit Ainsworth and Genevieve stands beside him all throughout the battle of wits and words across the dinner table. Aidan rewards her with a kiss. Genevieve also meets Gerald, Aidan's best friend, who expresses interest in his friend's wife whom he knows has no affection toward Genevieve. Secretly, Aidan was burning on his insides. In one of their fights, Aidan tells Genevieve hurtful words that makes her leave him in the dead of the night.

Chapter 6

This chapter witnesses Aidan's fury when he discovers that his wife left him. He searches for her until he finds her in the border of England and Scotland. He brings her with him on his way home to Ainsworth and threatens to dismiss her servants if she proves to be disobedient. They were ambushed the next day where Genevieve becomes badly injured. Her mare, Alpha, dies too. Aidan holds his feverishly ill wife for three nights.

Chapter 7

This chapter shows us how Aidan discovers the evidence in the most unlikely hiding place. He leaves Genevieve in the care of Gerald for days. When Genevieve becomes well, she takes a trip to the battlements for fresh air. Gerald slips something about Aidan and Elsbeth, his former betrothed. Upset, Genevieve asks to be left alone when she slips off the battlements and holds on for dear life. Aidan arrives to save her and explains everything about Elsbeth.

Chapter 8

This chapter sees how Aidan becomes attentive to his wife. Passion and fights heat up their marriage. Aidan gifts Genevieve a new mare. A vassal also tries to sexually assault Genevieve but Aidan saves her. He insists that she has to be guarded all the time but Genevieve refuses. Their quarrel takes them to bed.

Chapter 9

This chapter takes us to London where Aidan and Genevieve are invited to join in the celebration of William the Conqueror's son's birthday. Aidan becomes jealous at the attention Genevieve is getting from the men while Genevieve becomes jealous at Elsbeth. A joust is arranged and Aidan competes, only to be cheated on by his opponent. Aidan becomes hurt and unable to continue the tournament. Genevieve vows to avenge her husband. She steals his armor and wins the tournament for Aidan. Aidan chastises her for her rash actions but they make love that night to appease each other.

Chapter 10

This chapter shows us Brandon estate where Genevieve meets Aidan's family. They are getting along well when Genevieve discovers that Aidan stole the evidence from her and they are already making a move against the enemy. Genevieve feels betrayed and leaves the estate. The enemy succeeds to take her away.

Chapter 11

Genevieve finds a way to send a message to her husband, who arranges a rescue to get her back. The king discovers who the enemies are. Genevieve is freed and her father's name is cleared. Aidan takes her back to Ainsworth and they make love to show how much they love each other.

Acknowledgments 2 pages

About the Author 1 page

Preview of "Marrying a Wannabe Nun", my first novel 15 pages

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by Nicholaa Spencer

Chapter One

England, 1069

She was determined to beat the hell out of the dogs.

Lady Genevieve watched from atop the battlements of Ainsworth castle as the ill-trained soldiers scampered away like whipped hounds with their tails between their legs. Their leader, a burly-looking man with a distinctive shock of white hair, wore two arrows on his backside thanks to
Genevieve. The few soldiers with her, no more than a hundred, cheered as they won another invasion. Since Lord Ainsworth's capture, many had tried to ransack the castle and plunder their goods and women, but they underestimated who was left in charge of the holding since the great Lord Ainsworth was brought to the court for trial. Lady Genevieve looked across the horizon; these vast lands are now being coveted by dirty noblemen as if her father's already dead.

“We bested them, Genevieve! I always knew you are a great commander.” Winston, a faithful vassal and childhood friend of Genevieve said with triumph in his voice. He did not care about calling her 'my lady' because he knew Genevieve will not like it.

“More are coming, Winston. A holding without a master is like an unguarded gem to a thief's eye. I hope father comes home soon; our provisions are already low and I can't afford to open the gates for market at this time.” Genevieve said with worry in her voice. Winston knew that she was tired of holding off their enemies, and even if she is a strong woman, a month of waiting patiently for news from court is something that burdens her more than the task of defending her home from invaders.

“I checked at our crofters yesterday and they assured me that we will have food supply until the next month. I am sure Lord Ainsworth will be back here by that time and the accusations will be dropped.” Winston said as he watched the soldiers going down from the spiral stairs. A few archers remained to watch out for any more attacks. He then looked at Genevieve, who appeared tired and worried.

“You must rest.” He finally said. Genevieve took a deep breath to calm her raging insides. A month ago, she was standing there, at the same spot where she is now, talking to her father about managing their northern lands. She was fresh from Scotland and the English ways felt a bit foreign to her. She asked him if farming in England is the same as how they did it in Scotland where she lived the past ten years of her life. Lord Ainsworth was about to answer her when they spotted a small contingent nearing their estate. They were holding the most important banner in the land.

“Why are they here, father?” Genevieve asked. Lord Ainsworth looked worried, but he said nothing. She eyed the king's guards as her father went down the stairs to meet the contingent. Genevieve felt ill about this sudden visit. She hurried down to her father and joined him in the castle entrance. She watched as a knight descended from his horse. He was a tall man with a pale face and hazel eyes. He did not look happy to visit Ainsworth.

“Viscount Ainsworth.” He said in a grim tone. Her father nodded in acknowledgment. Genevieve eyed the scroll that the knight was holding. It looked official. She braced her self for an announcement that she honestly dreaded to know. By the look of all the people around her, she sensed a bad news coming. The knight cleared his throat.

“My lord, you are called to the court immediately to answer to the allegation against you, which is treason by allying with Edgar the Ӕtheling in an attempt to conquer the north and by plotting against the king's life.” The knight announced in a loud voice although he looked as if he did not believe what he was reading. Genevieve was so shocked. She wanted to rip the scroll to pieces, but she stood on her ground. She will not be hysterical. Not now.

“How about you, young Timothy Greene? Do you personally believe that I will commit these crimes against our king?” Lord Ainsworth asked the knight. Timothy Greene looked surprised that his opinion mattered, but he quickly recovered. He averted his eyes as he gave his answer.

“I am sure that my opinion will not matter in or out of court, my lord. The jury will give an enlightened decision.” The knight replied. Genevieve wanted to smash a stone against the skull of this man who dared read out false allegations in front of her father. Obviously he did not believe in the accusations, but why would he speak like they never knew each other at all when her father looked at him like he is his own son? Surprisingly, she saw her father smile at the knight. He even patted the younger man's armored shoulder.

“You've learned well, Tim. Keep it up because you will need all this strength if you want to survive at court.” Lord Ainsworth said. The knight nodded vigorously like a young boy being scolded and Genevieve thought she heard a sniff.

“Genevieve, can you please call a squire to pack my things? I am leaving in an instant.” Lord Ainsworth said as he walked down the paved stairs of the great door. Genevieve lost her composure.

“Father, I know these are lies! Let me come with you, please!” Genevieve said. Lord Ainsworth did not look back at her when he answered. “You will take my place here in Ainsworth. Defend our home and wait for my return.” He said in a stern voice. Genevieve knew not to disobey him; else she will embarrass both of them in front of the king's guards.

“As you wish, father.” Genevieve said calmly and went inside the castle. She had the stable master saddle her father's horse and prepare the wagons to be used in the journey. She had the kitchen maid prepare food provisions, and in less than an hour, Genevieve was standing alone in the great door as her father and his men rode with the king's guards to London.

It was the last time she saw him since.

“Genevieve,” Winston said when after three nudges Genevieve still did not respond to him. “He will come back, of that I am sure. My lord is as strong as an oak tree, and so is his daughter. You are an Ainsworth, and you should behave like one. Your father will not like to see you dazed like that.” He added. Genevieve blinked away her tears.

“The news is slow to reach us, with all the brigands and raiding parties along the way. Messengers at court may not even go here for fear of danger.” Genevieve said. Winston thought of contradicting her; she and her father are important people and if there is news for them, it will definitely come with or without the outlaws on the way.

Aye, she was feeding herself some explanation to Lord Ainsworth's delayed return and Winston did not have the heart to shatter his lady's hope. For all he knew, hope is the only thing that kept her going.

“Let's go down the hall and tend to the sick and injured…and hope that no one died this time.” Genevieve said in a low voice as she picked her skirt up and walked down the stairs. Winston went after her, thinking of how he saw the new vassal named Frederick stabbed right through the heart in the heat of the battle.

It was already three weeks and one month since her father left for court, and Genevieve cannot wait any longer. She called Clifton, another trusted vassal of theirs, to go to London and gather news about her father. Clifton quickly obeyed and was about to leave the holding when the men
manning the battlements alerted them of a contingent of king's guard. Genevieve rushed to the great door and waited patiently for the men in gold to reach the holding's entrance. They were wearing helms which prevented her to see their faces. When at last they stopped in front of Genevieve, a man dismounted and removed his helm. He's the knight named Timothy Greene.

“Lady Ainsworth.” He said and bowed. Genevieve managed to curtsy.

“Sir Greene,” she acknowledged. “Are there any news? Where is my father?” Genevieve asked as she controlled her shaky voice. Her palms were sweaty and her heart beat so fast and hard it will shoot out of her chest any minute now.

“I am sorry. Lord Ainsworth was executed for treason three days ago.” The knight said. He was looking at the lady and waiting for her to swoon just like all the noblewomen receiving this kind of news, but she did not. She looked shocked, but she did not fall to her knees.

“How come I never received any news? I should have been there for him!” she said in a strong voice. Timothy Greene took a step forward and Genevieve saw in his eyes that he too, was grieving.

“He did not want to bring you to the attention of the jury. The serious accusations against him may implicate you, which was why he did not send anyone to deliver any news. He was thinking of your safety, my lady.” The knight explained and took another step forward until they were close enough for a whisper.

“Please swoon, my lady!” He said in an urgent whisper and then added in a loud voice, “We should head back to London now, my lady.”

Genevieve acted fast. Timothy Greene has something for her, she knew it. Timothy looked at her sternly, as if nudging her to do what she was asked. In a flash, Genevieve fell unconscious. Timothy swiftly caught her in his arms.

“Open the door!” he shouted to the startled servants. “Stay where you are and wait for me!” he then said to his men who were also surprised. The servants opened the door wider as Timothy carried Genevieve to the nearest comfortable room that the maid led him into.

“Fetch a healer for Lady Ainsworth, quick!” Timothy said as he laid Genevieve on a bed. The maid flew out of the room and Timothy quickly latched the door. When he walked back to the bed, Genevieve was already sitting up.

“What do you want?” she asked in a whisper. Timothy took something from his breastplate. It was a sealed letter, and the crest looked familiar.

“This is a letter from your father, Lady Ainsworth. He asked me to deliver this to you in the event that he dies. He wanted you to keep it in a safe place – the safest place you could find – and do not open it yourself. He said that you should only open it when you find someone powerful and
trustworthy to help you bring justice to his death. Until then, do not open this letter and keep it in a safe place.” Timothy whispered and handed Genevieve the letter. She hid it under her belted skirt. The letter felt warm from the long confinement inside Timothy's breastplate. She could only imagine the fear in Timothy's heart as he carried a letter for a person deemed as

“You can be hanged for this.” Genevieve said with concern in her voice. Timothy looked at her sadly and she quickly realized that her judgment of him on the day he read out the accusation was wrong. This knight loved his father enough to risk being caught helping a traitor.

“He was like a father to me. I am from the lesser nobility with only a name to hold and no gold. I squired for a baron who treated his men like dogs. Lord Ainsworth saw the baron beat me while we were traveling, and he stepped in in my favor. The baron released me from service and your father let me join his men. I squired for him, and he trained me to become a good knight and loved me like his own. When I was knighted, I left his stead and a year later you came back from Scotland. He was always very proud of you, my lady.” He said. Genevieve wanted to cry, but she will not. She was about to tell something more when hurried footsteps echoed outside the room. Timothy need not tell her to feign unconsciousness. She looked as still as dead even before
Timothy could blink. The maid knocked on the door and Timothy quickly opened it.

“Here is the healer, my lord.” The servant said. Timothy's voice suddenly became serious again as he watched the healer minister his deed. He let Genevieve smell an awful-smelling salve, and Genevieve opened her eyes more from revulsion rather than awakening.

“My lady!” The servant exclaimed. The healer moved away from the bed and propped up some pillows on Genevieve's back. Genevieve almost rolled her eyes.

“Thank you for your help, Sir Greene. I do not know what I would do were you not here.” Genevieve said meaningfully.Timothy bowed. “I am your knight in service, my lady. If you ever need any help, please just send for me.” He added. Genevieve nodded and watched as the knight bowed and left the room. Another servant arrived and told them that the king's guards already left.

“Such a chivalrous man, Sir Greene is.” The maid said. It was obvious that the girl was smitten. Genevieve threw her a disgusted look.

“All men are chivalrous and desirable to you, Mary!” she said. The maid just chuckled and then stopped abruptly when she remembered that her mistress had just learned of her father's death. She murmured an apology and left the room. Genevieve liked the solace and spent the whole day thinking about her father, Timothy Greene, and the letter she now had. It felt like it
will burn her skin. For a second, she wanted to break the seal and read the contents but she quickly stopped herself before she can even reach under her skirt. She trusts that her father knew what he was doing, and his decision to not let her read it right away will always be in her favor although Genevieve thought of the fact that her father practically asked her to look for a protector. All her life, she never needed a protector and Lord Ainsworth made sure that she
learned how to fend for herself. Aye, her father knew that and the contents must be dangerous enough for him to doubt Genevieve's ability and safety.

“What do you want me to do?” Genevieve murmured as she watched the sun set from the small window. She knew she had to be strong but losing her life's pillar cost a big chunk of her strength and hope. She is now alone in the world and a land as big as Ainsworth is as desirable to the greedy as a rotting flesh is to a vulture. She wanted to run away, away from all problems and responsibilities, but she needed to remain calm and tough for Ainsworth. There are many people relying on her and as the lady of the holding, she had no choice but to continue her life. Pulling the letter out from her skirt, Genevieve thought of the safest place to hide the thing that Sir Greene risked his own life to deliver to her. After a long moment of thinking, Genevieve hid the letter inside her sleeve and went out of the room.

Aidan Brandon sat in the great hall with his father, Earl Augustus Brandon. Viscount Ainsworth's death did not come as a surprise for them; betrayal and treason are a few of the court's favorite things to do aside from forbidden romances and frivolities. The earl was quietly sipping on his ale while Aidan finished his fill a while ago.

“His head is on display in the gate of London. I am bothered that you did not stand for him. Lord Ainsworth was a good friend to you.” Aidan said in a flat voice. The earl smiled sadly. “Aye, he was. Charming and honest man, William was. We squired together. In our years as friends, I had never beaten him in a joust. He was as strong as an old oak.” Lord Augustus replied. Aidan looked away. Lord William was so tough it took the executioner five times to whack the lord's head off his neck.

“What will happen to the Ainsworth lands? Her daughter cannot claim his title and his lands and holding might as well pass to his nearest kin. I heard that the man next in line is not even an ideal candidate for the viscounty.” Aidan asked. Lord Augustus took a deep breath before replying.

“Yes, his half-brother Griffin Beaumont, although I doubt if the king will let a bastard become the lord of Ainsworth, and a traitorous bastard lord at that. He was said to have sworn his allegiance to Edgar the Ӕtheling a few years ago, but there was no sufficient evidence to try him for treason. Lord William backed that knave up, too.” Lord Augustus said as his fist clenched tightly around his goblet.

“If I were Lord William, I will do the same. I cannot let my nearest kin be killed and risk the title to be tossed around like some trinket after my death.” Aidan muttered. His father nodded in the logic of his son's remark. “My trusted spy told me this morning that a secret meeting was held at
Lord Dalton's estate a month ago. They were looking for a paper that went missing. The spy's information was incomplete, but it was clear that this paper disappeared days before Lord William was captured and imprisoned.” The older man said. Aidan's brow cocked up.

“And you suspect that Lord William had it which was why they accused him of treason to stop him from exposing this treachery against the king?” Aidan asked. The earl smiled at his son's intelligence.

“Yes, that's what I think. However, he did not expose the evidence even if it can bring the right people to the scaffold and save his own head. Why? Why would William do such a thing?” Lord Augustus said more to himself than to his son. Aidan thought for a long moment.

“He was protecting someone.” He finally said. Lord Augustus looked at Aidan with wonder.

“Why would you say that? No one tried to help him and when I offered my help, the stubborn man refused. His ward, the newly-knighted Timothy Greene, even offered to testify to his innocence. William declined the boy's help, too. If he was protecting an ally, he should have called for help.
Instead, he practically let his enemies put him to death without sweating!” the older Brandon said in disbelief. Aidan remained calm.

“A daughter. Isn't it that Lord Ainsworth had a daughter?” Aidan asked. Lord Augustus seemed to counter that remark, but then his eyes flew open when he remembered.

“Yes, he does! I forgot the girl's name. The last that I heard was that he sent her to Scotland. What was her Scottish kins' name again? MacAlistair?” Lord Augustus recalled. Aidan fell into deep thinking. His daughter was safe with her powerful kin in Scotland, so Lord Ainsworth should
not be worried about her and just had to procure the evidence in court and fight for his life, unless…

“Lord Ainsworth's daughter is here in England.” Aidan finally said as he voiced out what his mind was saying. His father looked at him as if he was being silly, but when Aidan was done explaining his theory, Lord Augustus almost stood up from his chair.

“Good lord!” the earl exclaimed.

Genevieve slipped into her daily life with grace, although her heart was broken and beyond repair after her father's death. She also discovered that her social status changed after Lord William's passing. No one from her father's friends came to express their sadness on her loss, except for Timothy Greene who swore to help her when she needed him. Winston said that she was already branded as “the traitor's daughter” and the shame of her father's crime had tainted her reputation and lessened her value in court. She should not expect an invitation even from the lesser nobility. Genevieve flared up.

“What value? Am I to be judged on a crime my father did not commit? I am Genevieve, daughter of William Ainsworth and Ellyn MacAlistair, and no one should dare disgrace me like I am some lowly wench!” she said viciously. Sometimes, Winston thinks that Lord Ainsworth was wrong to have sent Genevieve to the Scots. She became fierce – a tad too fierce for an English
lady like her. To him, Lady Genevieve is the most beautiful of the English roses but also the thorniest of them all.

“I am merely telling you what is happening outside the Ainsworth walls, Genevieve. They say it's only a little while before this holding falls into some attacker's hands, or in a better light, you can be thrown to a nunnery. I daresay you should be grateful to get the second option.” Winston said. Genevieve grunted. “I will repeat this to you, Winston. I am Genevieve, the only child of William Ainsworth. I will spend the rest of my life defending this holding and I will die doing it!” she swore. Winston shook his head. He was about to retort when Clifton rushed to them. She almost
hit Genevieve in his haste to run.

“Genevieve, your uncle is here to see you!” Clifton said in between breaths. Genevieve's mind was blank for a moment. “Uncle?”

“It could be your father's half brother, Lord Griffin Beaumont.” Winston interjected. Years of staying beside the now dead viscount helped him learn the ins and outs of court life and know this family and that. Genevieve was still shocked until she remembered the name. She was only five summers when she last saw her uncle Griffin, and even before then, she did not feel any sadness in parting with her uncle. Lord Beaumont was cruel and standoffish especially toward her. She first felt anger in her heart for him when he was hunting in the Ainsworth grounds and shot Genevieve's dog instead of the deer. Her father consoled her by telling her that her uncle did not mean to kill her companion, but Uncle Griffin later confessed to her, in his wicked smile, that he meant to kill the dog just because he despised her.

“I don't want to see him. Lead him out.” Lady Genevieve ordered but Clifton stood still. She saw the restless darting of Clifton's eyes and it annoyed her. She was about to repeat her order when a booming male voice pierced through the quiet air.

“When I saw that flaming red hair in the distance, I immediately knew it was you, my dear. I had hoped to see you sooner, but I see you're still distraught. I trust that you are coping well?” he asked. Genevieve tried to look civil before turning around to face the man she loathed the most.

“I am doing fine, uncle.” She replied. She thought she was tasting bile in her mouth when she said the word 'uncle'. She looked at the man's face and believed that the years had been unkind to him. Lord Beaumont was never attractive, but he looked even worse now. He's fat and barrel-shaped. His big, reddish nose shined with sweat and his unruly, thick stubble was left unshaven. Freckles tattered his pale round face. He limped on his left leg and he looked drunk. If he was not dressed pompously like a king, he would have been mistaken to be a drunkard in some smelly brothel.

“That is great! Should we enter the great hall now? We have loads of things to catch up!” Lord Beaumont said and then quickly took Genevieve's arm. She wanted to tear her arm away from this monster but Winston looked at her with a warning. Genevieve shut her mouth and let her uncle take the lead. When they reached the great hall, Lord Beaumont quickly ordered the servants to prepare a grand meal for him.

“We cannot afford a feast, uncle.” Genevieve contradicted. “Your arrival was unannounced and we are under constant attack, so-”

“So I will eat whatever I please, am I right, Genevieve? As the lord of Ainsworth, I have the right to a good fill especially after a long journey. Have the cook prepare the best meal she can, and make it quick. My men are starving.” Lord Beaumont said and then occupied the chair at the head of the table. Genevieve clenched her fist and threw dagger looks at her obese uncle who looked like he was born a pig.

“What do you mean you are the lord of Ainsworth, uncle?” she asked in a low but hard voice. Lord Beaumont looked at her as if she was some silly girl asking a silly question.

“Because my brother died and as the nearest male kin, I am his successor! Don't you know that, or did they teach you in Scotland that it is fine for women to ask such frivolous questions?” Lord Beaumont said in pure irritation. One of the things he hated most apart from dissatisfying meals is a person asking too many questions. Genevieve cannot bear it any longer.

“My father is the lord of Ainsworth, and as his daughter-”

“Was! William was the lord of Ainsworth but he is dead now. Yes, you are his daughter but it does
not change anything, my dear. I will be the new Viscount Brandon and you will be…what? The traitor's daughter.” Lord Beaumont said. Genevieve's ears pricked up upon hearing her uncle's cruel remarks.

“My father was an honorable man.” She replied in a low voice. Lord Beaumont chuckled.

“Of course, of course. William was loyal to a remarkable degree. It's a shame he died to soon without a male heir but there's nothing to worry about. Ainsworth will flourish and remain strong under my care. As for you, it's high time that you settle down into married life with some nobleman fit for your status.” Lord Beaumont said in a sly voice. Genevieve cannot stand
this monster acting like a lord.

“I assume that you are extremely thankful, uncle, that I was not born a male.” Genevieve said in a cold and high voice. Lord Beaumont stood up. How dare this woman threaten him? He was about to give a retort when he thought that he needed the girl to build an alliance. The passing of the
viscounty to him is not yet assured, and he heard that the king was reluctant to give him the viscounty. Damn those careless allies of Edgar the Ӕtheling for almost bringing him to the scaffold and destroying the king's trust on him in the process! Griffin's fists clenched upon remembering his fragile position. Yes, he needed this stubborn daughter of his brother.

“You are just exhausted, Genevieve. You need to rest.” Lord Beaumont replied in a horrible fatherly voice. Genevieve's brow cocked up in sarcasm but she said nothing. Griffin would give anything in the world to be able to wipe that smirk off this woman's face, but he controlled himself. For now, she is his ace.

“Have a maid accompany you to your room. The past months have been too much for you I'm sure.” Lord Beaumont pressed when Genevieve remained as still as statue. He saw that she was boiling from her insides but like him, she was holding herself in. Good, Griffin thought. He did not need any of her undisciplined Scottish ways in his holding. He always thought that William had been very lenient in training his daughter on being proper. Hell, the girl did not even have an English governess when she was a child! Instead, she had young squires and stable boys as
companions, and look what happened to her now.

“The cook will prepare a meal for you, uncle. Good day.” Genevieve said and then turned her back without waiting for her uncle's response. Griffin smirked. The wench did not even curtsy at him!

Lord Beaumont enforced drastic changes in Ainsworth since he took over the holding. The cook prepared grand meals every day. The serfs were forced to give more produce. The number of soldiers tripled as Lord Beaumont's men went with him to the holding, which forced the crofters to barely keep up with the food demand. He put more furnishings in the great hall and along with
the costly adornments were castle whores who pleasure the men in the evening and double as ornaments in the day. Genevieve, on the other hand, was to perform her duties as the lady of the holding. She was also not allowed to ride her horse, Alpha, or practice archery. Instead, her uncle forced her to learn embroidery and English social graces. When one morning Lord Beaumont introduced a governess who will keep an eye on her training, Genevieve lost her patience.

“I am not a child anymore, uncle! Aunt Matilde taught me these things a long time ago!” she erupted in the great hall. The governess was scandalized by Genevieve's unladylike manners. Lord Beaumont's porky face reddened.

“And what did your bulky Scottish aunt teach you? How to till the lands? How to milk cows? I daresay you were so ill-trained based on what you are showing me now. Am I right, Lady Fairland?” her uncle said as he turned to the stunned governess. The prim-looking old lady cleared her throat. “I am in complete agreement with you, my lord. Your niece needs assistance. A year of training will correct her flaws.” She seconded in a carefully toned voice. Genevieve held her chin up.

“I can curtsy. I say that's enough to cover social graces. I am sorry Lady Fairland, but your service is not needed here.” Genevieve said as she inclined her head and left the great hall. Lord Beaumont muttered some explicit under his breath as he looked at his niece walking so proudly outside. He hated the way she always disobeys him, but then he smiled. Who cares how she behaves? All he needed from her is an alliance from another noble family and her looks can bring that to him in a silver platter. Griffin may be bitter toward Genevieve, but he cannot deny the fact that his redheaded niece is definitely a looker. He had seen many women in court but they're nothing compared to Genevieve. Her flowing red hair and piercing blue eyes can captivate even the pickiest nobleman. Already, many vassals and minor lords had asked for her hand in marriage but Lord Beaumont refused their offers. He wanted her to capture a slightly higher ranking nobleman, a baron or a knight at least. He's not expecting for someone in the higher nobility to ask for a traitor's daughter's hand in marriage even if she was a viscount's daughter, so he should at least squeeze her of her uses as hard as he can.

“Isn't she beautiful, my lady?” Lord Beaumont asked out of the blue. Lady Fairland looked at him with surprise. A while ago he was fuming and now he's staring at his niece as if she is some precious jewel. “She does not look English at all. She's too…rowdy and blunt. Her red hair and blue eyes are too intimidating. English noblemen liked their women pale and submissive. Did you say she was brought up by the Scots?” Lady Fairland asked. Lord Beaumont nodded.

“Yes, her mother was a daughter of a Scottish laird. Genevieve is different. Her beauty will outshine the pale faces in court. I daresay that's enough for her to catch a good marriage proposal.” He answered. Lady Fairland just shrugged as she thought of Lord William's daughter and wished Genevieve's future husband all the luck in the world.

Chapter Two

Genevieve was fuming. Almost a month passed and her uncle made sure that she knew her new place in Ainsworth. She's the lady of the holding and yet, her voice was nothing compared to her uncle. Lord Beaumont's men ignored her authority while her father's men had no choice but to follow him or risk dismissal. Winston, on the other hand, was always reminding Genevieve to go with the flow. England is unforgiving to women he said, and if Genevieve wanted to survive, she should thwart her Scottish ways and be the compliant English rose her uncle wanted her to be. Genevieve contradicted him.

“I am not as pliable as he thinks! I am the lady of this holding and I have to take care of Ainsworth from the likes of him.” She grumbled. Mary covered Genevieve's mouth even though it was only the three of them occupying that part of the garden. “Genevieve, don't say anything like that! If your uncle hears you-”

“Yes, he will hear me and that's why I'm saying it out loud.” Genevieve replied casually after she removed Mary's hand off her mouth and with incredible speed, she put an arrow in her bow and aimed it behind the bushes. She let go of the string and the arrow pierced through the air. She wickedly smiled before a scream came from the bushes and a man scrambled away.

“I hate people lurking.” Genevieve said as she put her bow down. Mary almost swooned. Winston scratched his head as if he did not know what to do to her anymore. “Did you hurt him? He's one of your uncle's men, isn't he?” he asked with nervousness. Genevieve rolled her eyes. “Of course he is my uncle's man. Do you think my father's faithful vassals will spy on me?” she asked with a tinge of irritation in her voice. She stood up.

“His legs were braced like he was readying for a fight. I merely let my arrow pass between his legs…maybe a little too close to his crotch. I did not him there and risk ending his family line, of course. I am sure he will never spy on me again.” Genevieve said and then left Winston and
Mary. The servant looked at the vassal helplessly and said, “If my lady continues to be like this she will either kill someone or be killed.” Winston agreed.

“Aye, she's a monster.” He said jokingly and the two of them chuckled.

Genevieve took a walk around the lake near the Ainsworth castle. The lake did not change; it was how it always looked since she was a child. Her father would take her there for a walk and she would insist that she rides her father's war horse. Lord William will hold the reins and guide the stallion while Genevieve sits atop the animal. He would always tell her how she looks so
much like her mother, Ellyn MacAlistair. Ellyn died in childbirth but she left Lord William a treasure worth anything else in the world. Ellyn made William promise her that Genevieve will always be happy and content. William told his dying wife that he would let Genevieve marry a cobbler if that's what will make her happy. Ellyn died with a smile on her beautiful face.

Her father told her that story many times before but this is the only time that Genevieve laughed. Cobbler! Now her father asked her to find a powerful protector, someone who is surely not a cobbler or a milker. No, her father did not stand on his promise to Ellyn. Just like any other English noblewoman, Genevieve had to marry for advantage.

But is she ready for that kind of life? Genevieve had been free from the grips of the English's social restraints while in Scotland and now, the society where she's trapped in felt alien to her. In fact, she wanted to return to Scotland where there are people who really care about her.

“How about Ainsworth?” Genevieve murmured as she kicked a rock. It went into the clear water and sank. She imagined herself being that small, pathetic rock and it made her feel even funnier.

“Genevieve,” Winston called out behind her. She whirled around in surprise. She was so deep in thoughts that she did not hear the vassal coming. “What is it, Winston?” she asked. The vassal caught his breath before answering. “You have a visitor. Lord Beaumont requests your attendance in the great hall.”

Genevieve was not expecting anyone. Hadn't Winston told her before that she is now a disgraced noblewoman and people from the nobility will not like to be seen in her company after what happened to her father?

“Do you know who that is?” she asked. Winston nodded. “He is Henry, the eldest son of Baron Langdon. He is here to ask for your hand in marriage.” He said. Genevieve flared up.

“Did my uncle arrange this meeting? He is really in such a rush to marry me off. That obnoxious relation of mine really wants me out of Ainsworth as soon as possible.” She assumed. Winston darted his eyes away. He learned long ago that telling Lady Genevieve to be careful with what comes out of her mouth is futile. “We must go now, my lady. You should not keep the man waiting.”

“I did not invite him here so he can wait all day for all I care.” Genevieve retorted but then she walked back to the castle grounds with Winston all the same. Winston thought that Genevieve's alienation and hopeless situation made her a harder woman. For all he knew, the lady was already nervous. She never had a special relationship with a man before and the fast pace of marrying her off must be terrifying for her.

“All the same, just show your manners, Genevieve. Don't let them think that your father did not teach you to be civil.” Winston advised. Genevieve laughed out loud. “You are using my father to make me follow your sound advice, Winston. Don't think I did not know that.” She said. Winston

“I was merely…”

“Do I look all right or should I wear the heavy English gowns?” Genevieve asked. Winston surveyed her for a moment. She was wearing a simple white gown with blue tassels in the waist. Her hair was down and flowing and her cheeks were flushed from her walk under the sun.

“You look great, Genevieve.” He finally said. Genevieve smiled and her deep dimples on her cheeks showed. Winston thought that any man would desire her even if she made no effort to please.

It did not take Genevieve an hour to decide that Henry Langdon was a bore.

When Genevieve came in the great hall, the man quickly stood up and bowed. Genevieve thought he was too refined for her taste. His clothes,which looked too big for his thin frame, were as grand as her uncle's considering that he came from the lesser nobility. He talked pompously as if he had the world to offer which irritated her even more. He was the perfect gentleman, but when both of them took a walk to the garden and he bored her with courtship poems, she decided that she will die of monotony if she becomes Henry Langdon's wife.

“I heard you came from Scotland, my lady. I trust you did not have any health issues whilst there. I heard that their climate is abysmal.” Henry said. Genevieve's brow cocked up. Just because Henry Langdon is thin, scrawny and looking like he will die the next winter it already means that she is unhealthy too. She gave a sweet smile.

“Forgive me for disagreeing. Scotland was sympathetic to me. I even slept in the moors with just my gown on my back when I accompanied my aunt's men in raiding farms of other lairds and not once did I contract an illness.” She boasted. It's true that she really did some outrageous, unladylike adventures in Scotland but she knew that it was something she should not tell Henry on the first meeting if she really liked to push through this marriage. As she expected, Henry Langdon cringed.

“You did that, my lady? Why, you could have been attacked by wild animals or have been taken advantaged of. I daresay if you were here in England that time, such things would have been entrusted to the men. How awful Scotland is!” Henry said in fervor. Genevieve rolled her eyes. She was taking this chance to lose his interest and this stick man was taking this chance to appear chivalrous.

“We have an apple orchard near the lake. The trees are now bearing fruits. Would you like to see it?” Genevieve invited. Henry Langdon really preferred the indoors, but being the gentleman he is, Henry obliged. He offered his thin arm for Genevieve to hold on to and she felt like she can
crack his bone if she were not careful. Henry recited flowery verses to her until they reached the orchard.

“The apple blossoms smell as fresh as the spring, my lady. Now I know why you like to go here.” Henry said. Genevieve wondered how she can make this man run away from her and when an idea sparked inside her mind, she just knew it will be the best way to make this pretty English boy regret he ever planned to make her his wife.

“Apple is my favorite fruit,” Genevieve said happily and then added, “Would you like some? I'll pick apples for you.” Henry Langdon did not understand what Lady Ainsworth wanted to do now, but when she ducked down to remove her shoes, horror came across Henry's face.

“My lady, I believe you should not-”

“Oh keep quiet, Henry! The apples are fresh and waiting to be plucked from the branches. I'd say your mother will be impressed if I send her some of this when you get home, don't you think?” Genevieve asked in pure innocence as she handed her shoes to Henry. The poor nobleman watched in awe as Genevieve started climbing the tree.

“My lady!” Henry called up when Genevieve reached the high branches and started tossing the apples down for Henry to catch. Henry begged her to come down from the apple tree but Genevieve feigned deafness. In her heart, she was a bit ashamed for what she was doing to Henry, but then she convinced herself that she will not make a good wife to him anyway so she
should view this little game of her as a favor to Henry.

And as a little piece of revenge to her scheming uncle who thought he could be a romantic matchmaker.

Henry's worried voice as he loudly called to Genevieve rang around the grounds until they caught the attention of the guards. Winston slammed his palm against his forehead while a guard went to fetch Lord Beaumont. Mary, however, was laughing.

“No one can tame Lady Genevieve.” She declared with certainty as she watched Genevieve jump a few times on the stout bark she was standing on. Henry Langdon did not know whether to climb after her, to hug the tree trunk to stop it from shaking or to just wait on the ground and prepare to catch Genevieve if she loses her footing and falls.

“GENEVIEVE!” Lord Beaumont roared. He was limping on his left foot but he quickly reached the apple orchard. His normally reddish face looked a shade of puce now.

“Come down this instant!” he commanded. Genevieve pretended to be an obedient niece and climbed down the tree. She put three more apples to Henry's already loaded arms.

“What is the meaning of this?” Lord Beaumont asked angrily. Genevieve bowed her head but inside, she was in no way regretful of her actions.

“I thought of picking apples for Henry's mother as a present.” She said. Lord Beaumont's nostrils flared up. “If that is what you want, you could have asked a man to do that for you!” he said angrily. Henry Langdon put the apples down and dusted his clothes.

“It is a pleasure to know you, Lady Ainsworth,” Henry said and then asked Lord Beaumont for a word. When the pair was gone, Genevieve laughed uncontrollably. Winston went to her.

“You did that to turn him away, didn't you? Genevieve, this incident will get out and will make you look like an uncivilized-”

“Barbarian? Scot?” Genevieve supplied, cutting Winston off. “I am the traitor's daughter, right? I don't have a reputation to lose anymore but I still have my freedom. I will not let it fly away by being stuck in an uninteresting marriage with a flowery boy who only knows how to recite court poems.”

Lord Beaumont did not know what to do anymore. Genevieve proved to be a tough bone and the way she disobeys and shames him is remarkably maddening. Many times a day will he feel the urge to strangle the girl's neck but then she will turn her striking blue eyes on him and he will become more puzzled than angry. What is going on inside her head now?

It was also obvious that she did not like to marry anyone. Henry Langdon was truly appalled at his niece's actions that he swore not to see her anymore. Not that Henry was so important he had to be chased, but being a disgraced lady, Genevieve's match with the Langdon boy would have sufficed for her. A week passed and Lord Beaumont managed to arrange an introduction between Genevieve and with another baron's son named Cornell Stewart.

“I am not feeling well, uncle.” Genevieve said when Lord Beaumont told her about the visitor arriving tomorrow. Lord Beaumont hit the table with his fist that his ale spilled. “You will not mess this up, Genevieve, or I swear you will not like the punishment awaiting!” Lord Beaumont said. Genevieve stood up.

“It is not my fault that Henry Langdon did not like me and that Cornell Stewart will not like me either.” She said and then left the great hall. Lord Beaumont screamed for the cupbearer to pour more ale in his empty goblet. William the Conqueror is thinking of rewarding the Ainsworth lands and holding either to him or to some nobleman who will do a favor for him in the next weeks. Griffin cannot risk his future on the second option. His small, rocky land in the farthest county in England was so rundown that a serf's backyard would have made more produce. His small manor shook against the cold winds and his cattle were malnourished from lack of vegetation.

Hell, he will take all chances to get Ainsworth, even make an alliance with Genevieve's husband-to-be than return to his land that no one cared to do anything with – and he needs that alliance soon.

Cornell Stewart was handsome. At least, according to Mary.

Genevieve looked down from her bedroom window and saw the Stewart heir enter the castle grounds. He was a big man with blonde hair and fair skin. He was also wearing a full armor as if he just came home from a war to impress Genevieve. Genevieve snorted. First look at him and she already knew he is nothing but a bragger. She thought of not going out of her room where she was confined for a week under strict guarding. Her uncle was not pleased at the result of her meeting with Henry Langdon and he made sure that Genevieve knew that. She was ready to rot inside her room rather than meet the new suitor when the lock turned and in came her uncle.

“You look lovely today, my dear.” Lord Beaumont said in a kind voice. Genevieve wanted to say something off but she just kept quiet. Her uncle noticed the change in her demeanor, though.

“Have you forgotten how to use your tongue?” he snapped but then acted like he was as calm as sheep. “Lord Cornell Stewart is here to make an acquaintance with you. I trust that you will not do anything to throw the marriage proposal off.” Lord Beaumont added with a tinge of warning in his
voice. Genevieve nodded.

“Well, we should not keep the lord waiting, don't we? Come now. I heard Lord Stewart is a charmer at court. I am sure you will like him.” He added with a smile before taking Genevieve's arm himself. Genevieve highly doubted that, however. She wanted to push her pig of an uncle away from her but she stopped herself. They walked arm in arm down the stairs and to the great
hall where Lord Stewart was waiting. When Lord Beaumont let go of Genevieve, Lord Stewart bowed low.

“This is the happiest day of my life! I have never seen such a beautiful lady in all of England.” Cornell said in admiration. It was obvious that he was smitten and it pleasured Lord Beaumont to great lengths. Ha! Here comes my salvation, he said to himself.

“You should visit Scotland, Lord Stewart. My face would have been nothing compared to their ladies.” Genevieve said with a smile. Lord Beaumont's ear twitched. Since when did the big, brute Scot women become desirable? Their arm could lift a ten-foot log without sweating! What is she
doing now?

“I have never been to Scotland but I doubt there is anyone who can surpass your beauty, my lady. Your red hair is like a fiery sun to me.” Cornell Stewart stuttered. Lord Beaumont thought this is the best chance for the two young people to get to know each other better.

“Genevieve, would you please show Lord Stewart our gardens? The roses are in full bloom now.” Her uncle suggested. Genevieve smiled.

“Our apple trees are also blossoming and many have already borne fruits.” She quickly added. Lord Beaumont quickly turned to her in mixed anger and warning, but he said nothing. Genevieve was pleased to rile her uncle.

“I'd love to go anywhere with you, my lady. I am very used to walks with beautiful women like you.” Cornell Stewart said. The two of them walked to the gardens where Lord Stewart showed Genevieve how right her earlier judgment of him is.

“Many women fawn over me at court. Sometimes I think that if I were not born as handsome as this, I will have an easier life. The attention is getting on me that I decline court invitations whenever possible.” Cornell bragged. Genevieve thought that it was just his excuse for not being an important person at court as he pretends to be.

“Oh, so you know Lady Suzanne Warlof? If I remember correctly, she told me when I last saw her that a blonde, handsome Stewart wrote her a poem. It could only be you.” Genevieve said. Cornell looked up, as if recalling Lady Warlof from his long list of women, and then smiled. “Yes, I
remember Suzanne. She is a delightful woman. She gave me her favor when I joined the jousting tournament although if I had met you earlier, I would have never noticed Suzanne or any other noblewoman.” He said with a wide smile. Genevieve was getting excited.

“That's thoughtful of you. You fought on a joust? Do you like horses then? My father has many horses. I can accompany you to our stables.” She said. Cornell was a little taken aback at this queer tour but he just smiled. “Wherever you want us to go, my lady.” He said. They went to the
stables and she introduced him Alpha, her mare who was a gift from her father when she just arrived from Scotland.

“She is as white as snow. You have a very beautiful mare here, my lady.” Cornell said and it was true; Alpha is as tall as a war stallion but with long but slender legs. Her coat is silky and as white as snow and her liquid brown eyes are big and communicating.

“We can ride together if you want. We have riding grounds here.” Genevieve invited. Cornell looked a bit hesitant but after much pushing, Cornell finally agreed. He rode the chestnut brown stallion and the two went riding. Winston and some of Lord Stewart's men rode with them. For a while, Genevieve was happy. Alpha trotted gaily. She obviously missed her mistress and Genevieve missed the outdoors too.

“You ride well, my lady.” Cornell commented and that was true. Genevieve smiled. “My father taught me how to ride when I was just three summers. When I moved to Scotland, my aunts and uncles continued my training. I can even ride without a saddle.” She shared. Lord Stewart was about to give another praise when he thought of an idea that would speed up the wooing of
this beautiful lady.

“Since you are an accomplished rider my lady, would you like us to have a race? This courting will eventually lead to marriage anyway so we do not need to stall it any longer, am I right? We will just have a race and whoever wins will have the word in this prospect of marriage.” Cornell Stewart suggested. Genevieve thought about it while Winston and Stewart's men were holding their breaths. Of course, Lord Stewart will win.

“Let's do it.” Genevieve replied in a challenging voice. Cornell's smile reached his ears. He will have this woman warm his bed tonight.

Lord Beaumont was in his bedroom when he saw a line of spectators in the riding grounds. There was an Ainsworth man holding the Ainsworth banner while another was holding the Stewart banner. He could not tell for sure, but there were two riders on the other side of the field. Griffin cringed to have a better look and almost fell to his knees when he saw that the riders were Genevieve and Cornell Stewart.

“What in the hell?!” Lord Beaumont boomed as he quickly left his room and went to the castle grounds.

Alpha was thumping her hooves against the ground. Genevieve can feel the soft trembling of her horse and she knew that Alpha is as excited to run through the air as she is. She missed how the air whipped against her face and thanks to Cornell's impudence, she will be riding again like how she did in Scotland. Winston stood on the far end and on signal, he waved the white flag to begin the race. Cornell's horse quickly sprang into action and Alpha followed. Genevieve is determined to stop her uncle's marriage plans for her and never did she think that Cornell will be a suitable husband for her.

“Let's beat the hell out of this boaster, Alpha.” She murmured and as if understanding her, Alpha's gallops went faster and faster until Genevieve was riding side by side by Cornell. The man was not pleased to see her beside him so he nudged the horse to run faster. Genevieve smiled and nudged Alpha too until one of them was eating the dust left by the other. Lord Beaumont arrived to witness his niece already dismounted and waiting at the end of the line for Cornell. The young man was fuming. How the hell was he beaten by a woman? Cornell's face was red as he approached the triumphant Genevieve.

“My lady, I hope that this race will not affect the marriage-”

“Why it does, Lord Stewart! I now have the say in this proposal and I say that there will be no marriage happening between us.” Genevieve said. Cornell's face went a shade of magenta as his men tried so hard to stop laughing but failed.

“It was just a race! We were doing so well a while ago-”

“It was not just a race Cornell, and just to let you know, even if you won the race I will never marry a proud liar like you.” Genevieve said in a high voice. Cornell's brows met. “Me? A liar? What do you mean?” the poor ladies' man of a lord asked. Genevieve looked at him with disgust.

“There was no Lady Suzanne Warlof.”

Lord Beaumont had had enough of Genevieve's wiles. After Cornell Stewart left Ainsworth holding with his men as fast as lightning, Griffin lost all his composure and dragged Genevieve back to the castle by the arm. Winston and the other soldiers loyal to Genevieve tried to stop Lord Beaumont but his own men blocked Winston's group. Genevieve, however, did not scream for help even when in pain.

“Let me go uncle, I can walk!” she said in a loud and strong voice. Griffin was deaf to his niece's pleas as he dragged her down the stairs leading to the dungeons. Genevieve stared at him in disbelief. She knew that her Uncle Griffin had a bad blood, but to imprison her in her own castle?

“Why are you doing this to me?” she asked as the lock turned. She looked into the eyes of her uncle and saw only wrath and hate. “You forced me to do this, young lady. I was patient with you but to shame me to other noblemen! If you destroy any of my future plans, I will make sure that
those people loyal to you will not wake up to see the sun shine in the morrow!” Lord Beaumont threatened. For a second, Genevieve wanted to throw her uncle a retort but she saw in his eyes that he was serious. “Don't touch them!” she said instead. Griffin was satisfied upon hearing fear in her voice. “We can work this out together if you follow my lead.” Lord Beaumont said and then left his niece in the dungeons.

It was already her fourth day in the dungeons when Lord Beaumont went down to see his niece. Genevieve was a little pale but was otherwise healthy and unharmed. Lord Beaumont chuckled when he saw that not an ounce of fight left Genevieve's eyes but this time, he made sure that she will be an obedient tool to his grand plan.

“You have another suitor. I am surprised that after what you did to the first two, this man came for your hand in marriage.” Lord Beaumont said. Genevieve did not rise to his bait but wondered who that man could be. She guessed that he is some son of some baron. Maybe the choices are now in vassals since no nobleman would dare court her and be shamed like Henry and Cornell.

“Are you still not interested to talk to me? I will be releasing you today because you have to prepare for this next suitor. I want you to secure a marriage with Viscount Brandon.” Lord Beaumont said with excitement in his voice. Genevieve finally looked up.

“You heard me right, my dear. A powerful man, Viscount Brandon is.” Lord Beaumont chuckled. Genevieve's brain whirled up. A powerful man.

“Now remember, if you ever do something to thwart this marriage proposal off, I will kill Mary, your sweet little servant. If on the last minute I change my mind I may just kill Winston too. I have plans of mine and you will not ruin the chance. Do you understand?” Her uncle asked. Genevieve nodded. I have plans of mine too, she thought to herself as Lord Beaumont freed her and brought her to her room where a warm bath and gown were waiting for her.

Aidan Brandon wanted to get this over and done with. He will meet the other viscounts in London tomorrow and this short stop at Ainsworth estate should not derail his timetable. Aye, he will perfunctorily introduce himself, propose a marriage, go on his way and return after a few days for the marriage ceremony. Some say Lady Ainsworth is a looker, but that was when she was a young girl before she went to Scotland. Appearance can change, he thought. For all he knew he might be marrying a hulking woman with limbs as big as tree trunks.

“I still don't understand why you are marrying a disgraced lady. You are doing well with your betrothed.” Aidan's right-hand vassal Frederick said in an inquiring tone. Aidan just shrugged. When he and his father heard of the sons of two barons who were rejected by Lady Ainsworth,
Lord Augustus Brandon convinced Aidan to ask for Genevieve's hand himself.

“I am a viscount, father, and she is a-”

“A traitor's daughter? Nay son, she is William Ainsworth's daughter. There is a difference.” The old man said. Aidan was concerned. “How about my betrothal to Lord Bellamy's daughter? I cannot just marry Lady Ainsworth without breaking our alliance with them.” Aidan asked. Lord Augustus took a deep breath.

“I did not do anything for William when he was executed; at least let us do something for his daughter. Protect her and I will take care of the Bellamys.” His father said. Aidan saw the guilt in his father's eyes but being the sharp mind he is, Aidan gave a small smile. “And I think that aside
from keeping the woman safe, you also want me to find the missing paper that was the cause of Lord Ainsworth's death.” He added. Lord Augustus tapped him in the shoulder as praise.

“I know I don't need to tell you that anymore, Aidan. You know what to do.” He proudly said. Aidan took a deep breath. Sometimes his father expects too much of him being the next earl.

Genevieve looked splendid.

Her servants drew a warm, relaxing bath for her and she loved how the rosewater smelled on her skin. She washed her hair thoroughly and then wore the gown her uncle ordered to be made for her. The cream-colored gown fitted perfectly on her slim frame. The low neckline showed the swell of her breasts but it did not look indecent. Gold threads lined the gown and small red
flowers were embroidered on the waist to accentuate her figure. The gown clung to her skin but spread out from her waist down. Aye, it made her look like a princess. The gown had matching headdress but Genevieve vowed that she will not wear such a thing. It felt more like a restriction for her than an ornament. When the elderly servant started to braid her hair, Genevieve stood

“I don't want anyone touching my hair and I hate braids. I want to wear my hair loose.” She insisted. The woman did not contradict her. They were about to leave when Lord Beaumont entered the room without invitation.

“You look absolutely beautiful, Genevieve.” He praised. Genevieve looked at him with fury in her eyes. “Where are Mary and Winston?” she asked instead. Lord Beaumont just smiled. “They are in the dungeons, dear. They will be released as soon as everything turns all right. Let's go down the hall now, shall we? The viscount is waiting.” He said excitedly. Genevieve put her hairbrush down and went with her uncle to meet the viscount who was stupid enough to ask for her hand.

Aidan patiently waited in the great hall. He stood by the window and looked at the well-tilled and rich Ainsworth lands and wondered what would happen to them if the king grants all of Ainsworth to a man he favors. Of course, there is the half-brother of Lord William who is now hurrying to marry off his niece before she loses every bit of her claim to the Ainsworth lands.

“Welcome to Ainsworth, my lord.” A woman's voice said from behind him. Aidan turned around and saw the most beautiful woman he had ever laid his eyes on. He stared at her flaming red hair which was unbound and cascading like waterfalls on her back. She has white skin kissed by the sun. Her long and curly eyelashes swept her lids. She is beautiful all right, but what took Aidan's breath away were her eyes. They were of striking shade of blue, like a pair of sapphires. He met her stare with a cool gaze and wondered what is going on inside her head as different emotions played across her lovely face.

Genevieve did not know what to feel when Viscount Brandon finally faced her. He is so handsome it should be a sin to have a face like his. He was tall, with black hair as dark as the starless night sky. He has chiseled jaws, straight nose, and fine lips that were clamped together in a stern line. His unreadable grey eyes were looking at her and Genevieve cannot tell what the
viscount is thinking about her. For a moment, she wondered if he found her beautiful but then caught herself on time. Where did you get such ludicrous ideas, she scolded herself. They were still for a long time and just stared at each other until Genevieve broke the silence.

“My uncle wants me to be married to you my lord, but I will make a terrible wife.” She said in a warning that told Aidan she will have the pleasure of ruining her future husband's life. She gave Aidan a smile to emphasize her certainty and the dimples on her cheeks showed. Aidan's heart
skipped a beat. His grey eyes glinted in mischievousness as he gave a reply that Genevieve was not ready for.

“I think you will find out soon, my lady, that I am good at taming.”

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