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“Good morning, Lady Chloe.” 

 

Chloe smiled, glancing down at the older woman who bowed as they rode past her. “Good morning, Mary.” 

 

“Why do you even learn their names?” Her brother piped up from beside her as they reached the gate to their estate. 

 

Chloe glared at him. “Because they’re people? Just like you and I.” 

 

“Low-borns is what they are,” he muttered, and Chloe gritted her teeth. “Did you hear father hired another criminal?” 

 

Chloe arched an eyebrow. “I did not. Since when?” 

 

“She got here yesterday. She’s a stable hand.” 

 

Chloe stopped her horse in front of the stables and dismounted, patting his neck before leading him inside. She spotted a short and thin brunette sweeping the floor and guessed that she was their newcomer. 

 

“You. Take my horse,” her brother called out to her, and Chloe rolled her eyes, sighing in exasperation. 

 

The girl walked over to take her brother’s horse, taking him to his stall while Thomas left the stables to head to the house, without another word. 

 

“What’s your name?” Chloe asked once it was just the two of them, as she slid the bridle off and set it on its stand. 

 

The girl looked surprised by the question. “Beca. I mean, Rebecca.” 

 

A sculpted eyebrow rose in simple curiosity. “Do you prefer being called Beca?” 

 

“Anything but being called ‘you’ like that pompous bloke just did,” she quipped, then grimaced. “Shite. Sorry. Am I getting booted?” 

 

A laugh bubbled up Chloe’s chest. “No, don’t worry. Just be careful about what you say when said pompous bloke is around.” 

 

“Noted.” She eyed Chloe as she set the saddle on its stand. “And you are? Something tells me I should know your name.” 

 

“Chloe. My name’s Chloe.” 

 

Beca tilted her head to the side. “ Just Chloe? You look too wealthy to be just Chloe.” 

 

Another giggle flitted past Chloe’s lips. “Very well. Lady Chloe. I’m Lord Beale’s daughter, and the man you just insulted is his son.” 

 

Her eyes widened. “Oh, shite. And you won’t tell on me?” 

 

Chloe scrunched up her nose and glanced over her shoulder to make sure her brother was nowhere around, then spoke in a secretive whisper, “No. I do not like him very much myself.” 

 

Beca chuckled, reaching for a brush and stroking it along the horse’s flank. Chloe bid her goodbyes soon after, humming a song under her breath as she headed back to the manor. 

 

Despite her sassy tongue, Beca proved to be a hard worker, at least from what Chloe could tell whenever she was around the stables. She seemed to have a special bond with horses, and Chloe found that extremely endearing. 

 

“Good morning,” Chloe greeted as she made it to the stable that crisp fall morning, wearing a wool cape coat over her dress. 

 

“Good morning, Lady Chloe,” Albert, the head groom, said with a polite smile as he led Chloe’s horse, Blueberry, out of his stall. “Is Lord Beale not joining you this morning?” 

 

Chloe shook her head. “No. I was actually thinking Beca could accompany me for my ride?” 

 

While seemingly surprised, Albert nodded. “Very well. I will fetch her and have a horse ready.” 

 

Chloe thanked him and grabbed Blueberry’s reins, patting his neck as a greeting. She reached inside her coat pocket for an apple she had taken from the kitchen on her way out, offering it to him. Chloe glanced over her shoulder when she heard approaching footsteps, smiling at the sight of Beca. 

 

“Hello,” she called out. 

 

Beca bowed. “Lady Chloe.” 

 

Chloe chuckled. “Just Chloe is fine, Beca.” She smiled softly. “Would you like to come for a ride with me?” 

 

Beca nodded and hurried to get one of the estate horses ready, mounting up next to Chloe ten minutes later. She caught Chloe’s amused gaze and raised an eyebrow, silently questioning it. 

 

“This is the first time I see a woman riding in pants,” she explained. “And astride the horse as opposed to sidesaddle.” 

 

Beca smirked as she grabbed the reins. “You ought to try it one day.” 

 

“Which?” Chloe asked. 

 

“Both,” Beca said, laughing softly before nodding. “Lead the way, Lady Chloe.” 

 

Chloe narrowed her eyes. “I believed we had established you were to call me just Chloe.” 

 

Beca cast her an amused look. “Alright. I shan’t use the lady bit.” 

 

Beca’s colorful language made Chloe bite back on a laugh as they headed towards the woods located on her father’s estate. “Where are you from Beca?” 

 

“London,” she replied, looking ahead. “Spent most of my life there before I got this job.” 

 

Chloe nodded. “Are you liking it over here?” 

 

Beca shrugged and cut her a glance. “Too soon to tell. It’s really quiet. I like being around horses, though.” 

 

“I think they like being around you, too,” Chloe said, a soft smile curving her lips. “They’re comfortable around you, even though you haven’t been here long.” 

 

Beca chuckled. “I’m more comfortable around animals than humans, so that makes a lot of sense.” 

 

Chloe could not help but laugh along. “Oh do trust me, if I could, I would spend my days in the stables. Afternoon teas and dinners are awfully boring.” 

 

“Well, at least you’re not scavenging for food like most people in this country,” Beca muttered, her expression hardening. 

 

Chloe felt an unpleasant feeling swirl in her stomach. Shame. “Oh. I’m terribly sorry, that was insensitive of me.” The truth is, she had been so sheltered by her parents that she hardly knew of the conditions in the capital. 

 

Beca licked her lips. “It’s alright, Lady. It’s a whole different world, I cannot blame you for not being aware.” She met Chloe’s eyes. “I should not have talked to you that way.” 

 

Chloe smiled. “It is forgotten.” She tilted her head towards the long, flat path between the trees ahead of them. “Shall we race?” 

 

Beca raised an eyebrow. “Do ladies really race?”

 

Chloe shot her a smile. “You will find many more surprising things about me that are not ladylike, Beca.” 

 

Beca sighed. “I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I wouldn’t want you to hurt yourself…” 

 

A frown creased the space between Chloe’s eyebrows. “I think I can make the decision for--” 

 

Before she could finish her sentence, Beca grinned and clicked her tongue, launching Tally Ho into a gallop. Chloe gasped and took off after her, trying to catch up. As fast as her horse was, she wasn’t able to make up for Beca’s head start, and she glared at her when Beca cheered as she reached the end of the path. 

 

“Cheater!” Chloe exclaimed with a breathless laugh, patting Blueberry’s neck as she came to a stop beside Tally Ho. “That was mean!” 

 

Beca looked entirely too smug as she patted her own horse. “It was too tempting not to.” 

 

Chloe rolled her eyes. “I’ll get you back someday.” 

 

The rest of the ride was pleasant. It was clear Beca did not want to talk about her past, and Chloe would respect that. She was nonetheless curious about her ‘crimes’ as her brother had put it, unable to imagine Beca killing or assaulting someone. Stealing a loaf of bread was highly punishable by the law, and given Beca’s earlier comment about food, Chloe would not be surprised if that were to have been the case. 

 

Fall came and went, and before Chloe knew it, winter was upon them and Christmas rolled around. She walked to the stables on Christmas day, carrying a basket in the crook of her arm with treats for both the horses and the grooms. 

 

“Hello, sweet boy,” she greeted Blueberry as she stroked his forehead, then reached into her basket for a carrot. She made her way around the stalls, giving each horse an apple or a carrot. When she reached Tally Ho’s stall, she was surprised to find Beca sitting in the straw while the horse snoozed next to her. “Hey,” she murmured not to startle either of them. 

 

Beca glanced up from her book, casting her a smile. “Hello.” 

 

“Happy Christmas,” Chloe said. “Are you not cold out here?” 

 

Beca’s head shook. “Would you like to join us?”

 

Chloe smiled and nodded, opening the latch and stepping inside. The horse looked up but didn’t seem bothered, laying his head back down on his straw pillow. 

 

“What are you reading?” Chloe asked as she sat down next to Beca, ignoring how itchy the straw felt even through her many layers of dress. 

 

Beca chuckled. “I cannot read. But I like looking at the pictures,” she said with a shrug, then showed Chloe the cover to Gulliver’s Travels . “My mom gave it to me.” 

 

The corners of Chloe’s lips tugged up in a smile. “That is lovely. Did she read it to you when she was a child?”

 

Beca pursed her lips. “I think so. My memories of her are a bit blurry.” Chloe’s heart cracked as she realized that Beca’s mother had presumably passed early. “She did leave me a note inside, but I never asked anyone to read it for me. Would you?”

 

Chloe nodded, feeling honored to be entrusted with the task. “Of course,” she murmured, taking the book from Beca and reading the inscription on the first page. “My dear Beca. May you never let anyone bind the wings to your imagination. It is your most precious gift. With you always. Love, mom.” 

 

Beca took a deep breath, clearly moved by the note. “Thank you,” she croaked out, the emotion evident in her tone as she took the book back. “Your father has probably told you why I was here?” 

 

Chloe shook her head. “He has not. My brother however told me that you had… encountered trouble with justice?” To put it nicely and not call Beca a criminal like Thomas had. 

 

“I used to steal food from the market for the boys and me,” she said, glancing down. 

 

“The boys?”

 

Beca nodded. “Aye. The kids that also escaped from the orphanage. We were a group of six or seven living on the streets,” she explained, and Chloe felt a lump rise in her throat.

 

Her pity must have shown in her eyes because Beca smiled. “Trust me, it was better out there than at the orphanage for us, even if food was somehow hard to come by.” She licked her lips. “Two of us got caught that day. I was only eleven, but my mate was seventeen. They sentenced me to five years of labor, but they sent him out to the colonies since he was old enough.” 

 

“Oh my goodness,” Chloe breathed out, laying a hand on her chest. She had heard about the terrible conditions of the colonies, from where prisoners rarely came home. 

 

Beca hummed. “High price to pay.” She cleared her throat and tucked a piece of her hair behind her ear. “When I got out, I was sent here for my parole.” 

 

“How long is your parole?” Chloe asked. 

 

“Two years. But if your father agrees, I would like to stay here. The country living grew on me, I suppose.” 

 

Chloe made a mental note to mention it to her father and put in a good word for Beca. She smiled. “I’m glad you like it here,” she said. “And thank you for telling me your story. I shall hope you eat as much as you need here.” 

 

Beca nodded. “I do. Thank you.” 

 

“Oh,” Chloe let out when she realized she had something for Beca. She fished it out and laid it in Beca’s palm. “A muffin made by Mrs. Graham.”

 

Beca cast her a soft smile. “Thank you, Chloe.” 

 

“You’re most welcome,” Chloe replied, then nodded towards the book. “Would you like me to teach you how to read?”

 

Beca seemed surprised by the offer, nodding after a few beats. 

 

As they spent Christmas morning sitting in the hay, reading Gulliver’s Travels over the rhythmic sounds of Tally Ho’s snores, Chloe felt her heart grow with affection for the brunette. There was something about Beca that made her feel more carefree than she had in her life, and it felt incredibly good. 

 

Visiting the stables soon became Chloe’s favorite part of the day; as soon as she was done with her tutor, she headed down to spend some time with Beca. Sometimes they would go for a ride, and other times would simply sit in the stable and talk or practice reading. 

 

When she headed down to the stables that afternoon, she could hear the faint notes of music drifting through the air. Intrigued, Chloe tried to locate their origin and found that Beca was the one to play. 

 

“How come you have never told me you were a musician?” She asked when she reached Tally Ho’s stall, popping her head above the door. 

 

Beca jolted. “Goddammit. You scared the crap out of me.” 

 

Beca’s sailor cursing never failed to amuse Chloe. “I apologize.” She stepped inside and eyed Beca’s instrument as she sat down. “You know how to play the guitar?” 

 

Beca nodded, demonstrating how well she played with a lovely tune that left Chloe smiling with glee. Chloe wondered when the sassenach would stop surprising her. 

 

“That was beautiful,” she said. “Do you sing as well?” 

 

Beca glanced down. “No.” 

 

Chloe felt like there was more to say, given Beca’s expression, but she did not pry further. “Do you mind if I do?” 

 

Beca smiled. “Perhaps I can accompany you if I know the tune.” 

 

Chloe returned that smile, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear before she started singing her favorite song, a traditional Scottish tune. Her eyes fluttered shut as she embraced the words, memories of her late mother swirling before her closed lids. 

 

When the last note rang out, Chloe opened them to find Beca staring. “What happened to you accompanying me?” She asked, a faint teasing lilt to her tone. 

 

Beca blinked, then flushed, breaking eye contact. “I’m sorry. You just… you have the voice of an angel.”

 

Chloe felt her own cheeks pinken over the compliment, the butterflies beating their way into a frenzy inside her belly taking her by surprise. “Thank you, Beca.”

 

As winter thawed to spring and the birds were back on their singing parades, Chloe dreaded her approaching birthday. She was turning sixteen, making her of age to be sent off to be married. 

 

Her father had his eye set on the Duke of Suffolk, who was nearly thirty years her senior and seemed incredibly dull. After yet another fight on the subject with her father, Chloe stormed off to the stables, which had become her happy place over the last few months. 

 

“G’day,” Beca greeted when she spotted her, her smile turning into a frown as she took in Chloe’s expression. “What’s the matter?”

 

“May we go for a ride?” She asked, bits of anger lingering in her tone. 

 

Beca nodded, thankfully not asking questions as she got Tally Ho ready while Chloe saddled Blueberry, and they rode out to Chloe’s favorite spot: a small beach where she liked to watch the sun dip into the ocean.

 

She dismounted when they got there and tied Blueberry’s reins to the dead tree standing at the top of one of the dunes, then walked just a little bit further to sit down in the sand. Beca joined her a handful of seconds later, and they remained silent for a while until Chloe spoke. 

 

“I’m turning sixteen in three weeks,” she croaked out as she hugged her knees to her chest, gazing out towards the ocean. She had always found the steady sound of the waves rolling onto the sand soothing. “My dad wants to marry me off to the Duke of Suffolk.” 

 

“Is he… a bad man?” Beca asked, quietly. 

 

Chloe shook her head. “No, I don’t think so. But he is over forty years old and he’s… incredibly boring.” 

 

“I’m sorry, Chloe,” Beca murmured following a few beats of silence. “We could… run away?” 

 

Chloe chuckled, turning her head to glance at Beca and realizing she didn’t seem to be joking. “Are you serious?”

 

Beca nodded towards the distance. “France is not that far. We could move to Paris.” 

 

The butterflies erupting in Chloe’s belly took her by surprise, and she swallowed, knowing it was much more than friendly affection that she felt for Beca. She recovered quickly, raising an eyebrow. “And what would we do there, exactly?” 

 

Beca smirked, shrugging. “I would find a job in a stable. You could become a teacher or a seamstress. Or maybe you could sing for people.” 

 

Chloe smiled, releasing a wistful sigh. “I would love to become a singer,” she murmured, looking back towards the horizon. France. Paris. Living with Beca. It all sounded incredibly tempting, but Chloe knew she couldn’t. 

 

It was a life that could only take place in her mind, and Chloe found solace in the fact that she knew she would never let anyone bind the wings to her imagination. 

 

“I think you would be incredible,” Beca said, and the light in her eyes as she stared at Chloe while saying those words made Chloe’s cheeks redden and her heart stutter. 

 

She reached out to slide her hand into Beca’s. “Thank you, my friend.” 

 

Chloe’s birthday came quicker than she was ready for. Her parents held a dinner with their extended family, as well as the high-borns of their county, including, of course, the Duke of Suffolk. 

 

“Lady Chloe,” the Duke greeted with a bow, which Chloe returned before he took her hand to press a kiss upon it. “It is lovely to see you. I wish you the happiest of birthdays.”

 

Chloe’s lips curved in a polite smile. “Thank you, Lord Mackenzie.” 

 

“Perhaps we could take a stroll outside?” He suggested, and Chloe swallowed, knowing she couldn’t say no as she knew her father was watching. 

 

So she found herself nodding, pushing down her apprehensions as she took his offered arm and let him lead her through the double French doors and into the garden. The first minute of their walk was spent in silence. 

 

“Lovely day, isn’t it?” The Duke finally spoke. 

 

Chloe hummed. “It is. Summer has always been my favorite season.” 

 

The Duke smiled, glancing at her profile. “The ideal weather to read in the garden, is it not?”

 

“Oh, no. I would much rather spend it on horseback.”

 

The Duke seemed surprised. “You ride?” He asked. “That sounds… dangerous, for a woman.”

 

Chloe raised an eyebrow. “More so than for men?”

 

“Of course! Women are meant to travel in the carriage,” he stated. “Not… on horseback.

 

Chloe bit back a retort; if only he knew what she got up to when out for a ride. It dawned on her that he might not even let her ride, once she moved into his estate, and she suddenly felt the heavyweight of sadness settle over her chest. 

 

The rest of their walk was uneventful as they only exchanged polite small talk. The Duke and her father stepped into the study afterward, and Chloe knew what they were discussing. She felt tears spring to her eyes when her father announced their engagement to the rest of the guests, but somehow mustered a smile as the Duke kissed her cheek. 

 

After what felt like hours, she was finally able to head down to the stables. Her chest felt as though it might implode, which made her corset seem a lot tighter than usual, preventing her from breathing properly.

 

“Hey,” Beca said when she spotted Chloe. She slid her hand into hers as soon as she saw Chloe was on the verge of crying. “Come on.” 

 

Beca led her back to her room in the small house next to the stables. It was tiny, with only a bed and a dresser for furniture, and a dirty window that barely let in any light. Chloe gingerly sat on the edge of the straw mattress, sniffling. 

 

Beca reached into her pocket and handed her a handkerchief. “It’s clean,” she said as she extended the folded piece of fabric. 

 

Chloe took it and wiped her cheeks and nose. “My father accepted the Duke’s proposal. We are to be married a fortnight from now.” 

 

Beca hung her head. “I’m so sorry Chloe,” she murmured. “We could still run to France?”

 

Chloe smiled sadly. “I’m afraid I cannot.” 

 

Beca nodded. “I understand,” she said. “I made it sound better than it probably would have been.” She cleared her throat and stood up, crossing the room to open her dresser. “I have something for you. For your birthday.”

 

Chloe looked up in surprise and took the item wrapped in fabric, unfolding it to reveal a watercolor painting of Chloe’s favorite beach. “Oh,” she let out, her throat shrinking as another round of tears gathered in her eyes. “This is beautiful. You made this?” 

 

Beca nodded, sitting back down beside Chloe. “For you to have a piece of your favorite place with you when you move away.” 

 

Chloe swallowed the lump in her throat. It somehow meant a lot more than the Duke’s ring. “Thank you. This is the best gift I have ever received.” 

 

Beca smiled. “You are very welcome, Chloe.” 

 

Chloe glanced up from the painting and her breath hitched when she realized how close Beca was. Her heart thudded harder against her ribs as her gaze swept down to Beca’s lips. She licked her own. “May I…” A beat. “May I kiss you?” 

 

Beca’s nod was faint, but it was there, and Chloe leaned in to brush a kiss across her mouth. Albeit short, it was the best thing she had ever experienced, and it left chills dancing down the length of her spine. 

 

She leaned in again a few seconds later, making it last a bit longer. She felt Beca’s hand tenderly cup her cheek and melted into the touch, warmth pooling in her belly as their lips moved against each other so naturally, it felt like they had done this together before. 

 

The sound of a carriage going past the house-made Chloe pull away a bit abruptly. She released a pained sigh and let her forehead rest against Beca’s. “I should head back.” 

 

“Alright.” 

 

“Will you come for a ride with me tomorrow? And every day after that before I have to leave?” Chloe asked. 

 

“I would love nothing more,” Beca murmured, leaning in for one last kiss. 

 

Those kisses and those stolen moments never saw the broad daylight. They unfolded in the darkness, when the air was still and it was just the two of them. Chloe liked how peaceful it felt. 

 

The night before her wedding, Chloe snuck out of her room and headed down to the small house by the stable, softly knocking on the door. 

 

Beca appeared on the other side half a minute later, her features illuminated by the candle she was holding in her hand. She had never visited Beca at night, but Beca didn’t seem too surprised to see her as she tugged the door open wider to let her in. 

 

Chloe slid her hood off and unfastened her cloak, letting it slip from her shoulders and draping it across the foot of the bed. She sat down and folded her hands across her lap. “Do you think we will be able to exchange letters? Once I’m gone?”

 

Beca lowered herself next to her. “My writing skills are still limited, but I can try.” 

 

Chloe nodded, glancing down at her hands. “I’m scared, Beca. I’m scared of what my life will look like from tomorrow. And I’m scared—” she swallowed. “I’m scared he might not be gentle when we-- when we…” She caught the sudden tension in Beca’s jaw and grimaced. “I apologize. My intent was not to put such images in your head,” she assured her. “It’s just… I have always thought that I would experience that with someone I trust. Someone I love .” A hesitant pause, followed by a handful of courage. “Someone like you.” 

 

Beca slid her hand into Chloe’s. “I want that, too.” Chloe looked up from her lap to meet Beca’s eyes. Beca shrugged, the hint of a smile surfacing. “And we still have some time before tomorrow, don’t we?” 

 

Chloe felt her cheeks redden, that flush moving down her neck and chest when it seemed to run out of room on her face. Nerves sprouted in her belly, but not the bad kind. She leaned in before she changed her mind, brushing a kiss to Beca’s lips. A moan surfaced from her throat as Beca cupped her jaw with her palm and deepened the kiss. 

 

A familiar warmth filled her belly, as it did every time she and Beca kissed. It felt slightly different tonight however; more like a heat that kept rising and growing until it had encompassed Chloe’s whole body. 

 

Their kisses turned more sloppy as time ticked by. Chloe quickly understood that what she felt was desire, and the more they kissed, the more she craved it. She broke the kiss to unlace the top of her dress, her hands carrying a slight tremor of apprehension as she thought about what they were about to do. 

 

Beca stilled them. “Let me.” 

 

She tugged Chloe to her feet and finished undoing the laces, before pushing Chloe’s dress off her shoulders. It fell to her feet, leaving her in a simple bodice. Beca leaned in, brushing soft kisses along her neck and collarbone, and Chloe tilted her head to give her better access, a moan spilling past her parted lips. 

 

“Oh. That feels nice,” she breathed out, and swore she felt Beca smirking across her skin. “You’re wearing far too many clothes.” 

 

Beca stepped back and swiftly tugged her chemise off her, Chloe’s eyes widening when she realized she was naked underneath. She bit her bottom lip at the sight of Beca’s beautiful breasts and the smoothness of her stomach. There were scars here and there, and Chloe wanted to learn about the stories behind them, but not tonight. 

 

She followed suit, lifting her bodice and letting it drop to the floor. Beca’s own eyes dropped to her chest, and Chloe found herself blushing. 

 

“You are so damn beautiful, Chloe,” she murmured, lifting her eyes to meet Chloe’s. Stepping closer, she set her hands on her hips and kissed her deeply, the kind of kiss that left Chloe weak in the knees. 

 

They laid down, Beca settling on top of her, and Chloe reached up to tuck a strand of hair behind her ear, admiring her candle-lit features for a moment and committing them to memory. “I love you,” she whispered. 

 

“And I you,” Beca echoed, joining their lips once more, in a tender and slow kiss that seemed to still the world around them. 

 

Then, Beca’s lips made their way down for the second time that night, but they didn’t stop until they reached Chloe’s left breast. They wrapped around a rosy nipple and suckled, and Chloe felt a thrill of pleasure travel down to the space between her legs. 

 

Her breathing quickened as Beca explored, lavishing her breasts with kisses. When her hand drifted down, fingers grazing Chloe’s stomach on the way, Chloe tensed. Beca froze and searched her eyes. 

 

“I trust you,” Chloe said, willing herself to relax. 

 

Beca gave a faint nod and rested her forehead upon Chloe’s, resuming her way down until she reached the wetness gathering between Chloe’s legs. Chloe closed her eyes, another sound of pleasure escaping her throat as Beca rubbed her gently. 

 

“Can I taste you?” She asked after a minute or two; Chloe couldn’t be sure. 

 

She had overheard from the servants that most men didn’t like doing that, and had never expected that she would receive it, so Beca’s question shot a spike of lust down her spine. 

 

“Yes,” she breathed out, catching Beca’s lips in a heated kiss before she could move. She grabbed a fistful of sheets as Beca made her way down, kissing every bit of skin available to her as she did. And then she licked Chloe there, and Chloe was sure she had never felt something as wonderful. “Oh.”

 

It turned out that Beca was somehow incredibly skillful at this, and Chloe reached her release embarrassingly fast. She wasn’t completely sated however, and it wasn’t until the early hours of the morning, after several rounds of lovemaking, that she slipped out of bed to head back to the house. 

 

Beca wrapped her arms around her waist from behind and pressed a single kiss to her collarbone. Chloe leaned against her body, closing her eyes as she basked in their last moment together. 

 

“It was wonderful,” she murmured, and she knew Beca knew she wasn’t only talking about their night together. Tears burned behind her eyes and her throat shrunk as it dawned on her now more than ever how much she would miss Beca. 

 

Turning around in her arms, she gave Beca a proper kiss, backing away before it sparked something else. Chloe swallowed, peeling herself away reluctantly. “Take care of yourself, Beca.” 

 

Beca gritted her teeth, also to keep herself from crying, Chloe supposed. She caught Chloe’s hand and brushed a kiss across her knuckles. “Be well, Chloe.” 

 

The ceremony was emotionless on Chloe’s end. After the feast, she saw that her belongings were brought to the carriage, and told her husband she would go say goodbye to her horse. 

 

“Is Beca here?” She asked Albert when she made it there. 

 

“She went for a ride, my lady.” 

 

While disappointed, Chloe couldn’t blame her. They had their real, heartfelt goodbyes the night before. She nodded and handed Albert a wrapped gift. Inside lay three books so that Beca could continue practicing her reading, a quill, ink and letter paper, and a handkerchief with Chloe’s initials on it. “Will you give this to her, please?” 

 

He bowed his head. “Of course, my lady.” 

 

As the carriage rolled away from the estate, Chloe could not stop the tears from falling. 

 

She was not only leaving her home and her beloved Scotland, but also her heart behind. 

 

My dear Beca, 

My heart feels heavy with sadness as I write this letter. The last six months have been truly wonderful. Nobody has ever made me feel this carefree and loved, and I will hold onto those memories for as long as I live. 

I shall hope we will see each other again. I love you. 

Yours truly, 

Chloe