Historical Cowboy Romance Two Book Box Set - Mail Order Brides
don’t love this life.”
    Tessa was swept up for a few moments by
Maddie’s enthusiasm. “I’m thrilled you are having such a wonderful
time. You look very elegant and lovely on the dance floor. You
dance much better than I do.”
    “Oh, stop. You dance very well,” Maddie
    “Well enough, I suppose, but not with your
grace. I have a few words of caution. Just beware with whom you
dance. They’re not all being altruistic. Some of them have hidden
agendas. I’m sure it won’t be long until you have marriage
proposals thrown your way, but listen to your heart and don’t let
money influence your choice,” Tessa said.
    Maddie nudged her sister. “Come now! Listen
to you, the voice of doom. I understand that you don’t enjoy this,
but I do and I don’t intend to let it stop too soon. Who wants to
get married when I can have this kind of fun? Trust me; I’m not in
a hurry to wed. But when I do, it will be with someone fun and
exciting, who doesn’t give a flip what people think.”
    “Good girl,” Tessa said. She gave Maddie a
quick hug and a kiss and sent her on her way.
    It was getting late and Tessa knew she needed
to go. Before she lost her nerve, she found her parents and drew
them away slightly.
    “I’m going to excuse myself. I think all of
the perfume has given me a headache. I should like to go to retire
early,” she said.
    Maureen looked at her eldest with concern.
“Well, you do look a little peaked. Perhaps it’s best. Get a good
night’s rest and I’ll check on you in the morning.”
    Tessa hugged her mother, hanging on a bit
longer than normal. “I love you, Mama. You are the most wonderful
mother anyone could ask for.”
    Maureen hugged her back. “Thank you,
    Then Tessa turned to her father and steeled
herself. This would be the toughest goodbye to get through without
giving herself away. “Goodnight, Papa.”
    Geoffrey kissed her cheek and gathered her
close. “Goodnight, daughter. Sleep well and feel better.”
    Tessa struggled to hold tears back as she
hugged her father. She drew away and pretended to sneeze. She
pressed a handkerchief to her nose and made it seem as if the
perfume was having a severe effect on her sinuses.
    “Pardon me. I fear that some people have been
extremely heavy with the perfume,” she said, as a reason for her
eyes being so bright with tears.
    Geoffrey placed another kiss on her forehead.
“Go then before it gets worse. Good night.”
    “Goodnight. I love you both so much. Have a
wonderful rest of the night and tell Maddie how sorry I was that I
had to leave the party early,” she said.
    “Yes, we will,” said Maureen.
    She and Geoff watched their daughter leave.
“She should have been an actress,” Geoff commented. “I almost
bought that she was feeling poorly.”
    “She’s faking? I didn’t know. What does that
say about me as a mother?” Maureen said.
    Geoff squeezed her hand. “You’re a wonderful
mother and you know it. She really does hate parties and just
wanted to leave this one, too. That’s all it is, Maureen.”
    Maureen sighed. “I suppose you’re right.”
    “However, we have another daughter who is
enjoying every second of it,” he said, with a gesture at Maddie,
who was out on the dance floor again.
    They watched their graceful daughter float
around the room in the arms of a very good-looking boy.
    Tessa watched her family from the doorway
leading to the main foyer as they enjoyed the special night. The
picture they made together would be forever etched in her mind.
With tears in her eyes, she forced herself to turn away and mount
the staircase to prepare for her journey.
    “Mama! Mama!”
    Maureen heard Claire calling her and it
sounded as if something was drastically wrong. Claire burst into
the dining room the morning after Maddie’s coming out party. She
was holding an envelope and papers in her hand.
    “What is it, Claire?” Maureen asked.
    “It’s Tessa! She’s gone,” Claire said

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