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Edith was the attractive fourth daughter of Earl Montgomery and her future was secure. She studied at the University of Pulmina and rubbed shoulders with the cream of Pulmina society. Highborn, she did not associate with socially inferior people and enjoyed everything money could buy. Jack was her opposite. From a working class background, Jack earned his daily bread and there was not a drop of royal blood in his veins, but plenty of courage and bravery. But sometimes opposites don't just attract, they are too much alike. Attraction will be born between the two of them despite being so different, as they both seek the same thing: they both seek freedom.
Edith was the fourth daughter of Earl Montgomery: Lord Edward Montgomery, sixth Baron Montgomery Rehenseln and third Baron Montgomery Johannes. A man very proud of his blood and his illustrious family history.
She also had a mother called Althea. Just Althea, even though she was Countess Montgomery. Edith was somewhat like her mother when she was her age, only she didn't know it.
She didn't usually inquire into anything in her life, she didn't question the realities or her position, she just spent her time getting lost in the pleasure that money could give. She had a nice car, nice clothes, gold and silver jewellery, Mouchoir de Monsieur perfume. Good food and high position in the social chain, very good education: she spoke German, Spanish, French and Italian. Also, she spend the summer at the former Rehenseln castle in North Rihaln, and was a horse rider, a professional horseman and a yachtsman. She had too many luxuries and too much luck for the high birthplace she was born into.
As stated, Edith did not question the lack of luxuries of non-royalty, nor had she ever given her father much trouble. She acted as if her feelings for her father were indifferent but, deep down, her father frightened her, she obeyed him without much thought.
But…there were a few times when she had been against her father, and had done something about it, being brave enough to stand up to him and his angry, domineering whims.
The memory of one of these circumstances was often part of Edith's dreams. The images had stuck to her mind like a foul, hot tar. And they used to haunt her, running her through the most intricate corridors of her mind. Day or night.
—Who the hell is that?!
—You fucking bitch, don't play dumb. You're a fucking filthy whore.
—I told you to stop calling me that!
—That's what you are! -her father shouted at her mother.
—Stop it! The children are sleeping...
—Do you think I care? Am I to play the fool when I hear from the servants that, when I'm away, you bring the grooms into your room? -shouted her father wildly, and Edith, behind the room, began to tremble, almost chattering her teeth with tension. All this while the children slept.
—I did nothing! Your servants hate me. They tear my clothes and steal my jewellery. They make up stories about me...
—Yes —laughed her father with an icy laugh—. You damn whore, I should have given you back to your father, and shouldn't have married you.
—No one returns me anywhere because I'm not an object —Lady Althea replied—. What about all the women you sleep with? You can because you're a man? Because you're Earl Montgomery? My lord...
Edith looked at her older brother Michael, future Earl Montgomery, who was peeping from the doors of his room. He was only eleven, but he seemed to understand much more than she and her two older sisters, Sarah, who was nine, and Louise, eight. Edith, at six years old, understood even less, but the fear in her blood she felt and understood. With the silence, she could sense something was wrong. She looked out the window, moonlight filtering into the room, bathing the three girls' empty beds. There was something in the atmosphere that felt unreal and unearthly. Something out-of-body enveloped her in a spectral halo.
Her brother Michael couldn't help himself and ran into their parents' big room.
—Don't... Mike, don't go —Sarah begged him, but he ignored her.
He ran and flung open the door.
That's why her brother was the way he was, because Edith enjoyed money as much as he did. She didn't blame him, she understood him.
She understood it too much.
That's why, if there was one thing Edith knew very well, it was that money had its price. That's why she would rather enjoy it than die.
Friday 23 April 1971.
Edith woke up abruptly.
She had had that nightmare, again.
She sat up on the sofa and remembered where she was. Sure enough, she was at the party of John Clareford, her college roommate, and next to John Clareford himself.
It had indeed been a wonderful night of music, champagne, delicious food and partying. And the moment she had decided to go to the wonderful Clareford mansion to be closer to John, there had been the best.
I had really enjoyed it. It had been a wonderful evening, but the party had come to an end.
Edith looked at John sprawled on the sofa, just as sleepy as the other partygoers, scattered all over the living room, asleep where they had fallen. They were completely asleep and wouldn't wake up even though she was leaving.
Her head hurt like hell, she found as she bent down to pick up her shoes from the floor, and began to spin. The whiskey had wreaked too much on her brain.
But it had been fun.
She straightened her violet and white flowered dress of chiffon and silk, her delicate silver necklace and earrings, gifts from her father, and slipped on her shoes. She combed with her fingers her soft brown hair, and looked at herself in the mirror of the great hall.
Regal and beautiful, as always. She was very attractive, she knew.
She opened her handbag and put on perfume. She was ready.
She grabbed her things and left the huge hall, and walked down the wide wooden corridors that had many illustrious pictures and marble busts, at last she reached the corridor.
—You're finally here —said Penny, who, with Mary, was waiting for her by the door, ready to escape. The three of them had parted for the night, scattering through the many halls of the mansion. It had been quite a party.
—I'm sorry! —said Edith hurrying over to them as a maid came over to open the two-panelled wooden door.
Once outside, Edith could breathe in the beautiful fresh spring wind. A delight.
The three of them hurried to Edith's beautiful red Ford car, a car way too new for other people to have. For DeeDee's family was wealthy. Of purely Flemish descent, her father had managed to inherit the title of 16th Earl Montgomery. A very respectable position, so respectable and high-born that her home, unlike her two friends, was a mansion: Minnerly Hall.
—Do any of you feel fit to drive? —asked Mary.
—I don't... —said Penny.
—Edith opened the car door and let them in.
—Are you sure?
—Totally —she smiled at them, even though her head was spinning.
It was Saturday. And a lovely sunny Saturday, a delightful prelude to summer. They'd had fun and it had been the perfect preview to a fun-filled Saturday night with no obligations the next day. Because yes, there was still all Saturday night and Sunday to come.
Except for the nightmare, such was a usual day in the life of Lady Edith Montgomery.
They had been planning this Friday night for two weeks. DeeDee used to work on research also on Saturday mornings with her teacher, Mr. Harries. And she loved doing it. The only reason she would not be working on the following Saturday was because Harries had to attend a seminar that day in another city (Belgerann), so the research would be on hold. That was the only way he would have Saturday off. And therefore Friday night off.
The three girls set out to return from the revelry to the beautiful villa the three of them shared on Flower Valley Avenue. Edith drove and Mary turned on the radio.
"And to start off what is going to be a great spring day, enjoy as you prepare for your day with the new hit of the year: Love Grows by Edison Lighthouse.”
—Oh yes! I love it! —Mary exclaimed as Edith started the car. Mary loved that song, it had stuck with her like a bad cold and she always sang it out loud.
—Here we go again —cried Penny.
And the music began to play.
She ain't got no money
Her clothes are kinda funny
Her hair is kinda wild and free
Oh, but Love grows where my Rosemary goes
And nobody knows like me
—She talks kinda lazy, and people say she's crazy... —Mary began to sing happily—. Come on! Sing!
—Whatever... —Penny gave in, laughing—. There's something about her hand holding mine that feels good.
Soon DeeDee gave in too and started singing loudly. It was hard to keep it together with those girls. So, the three of them were singing down the road. But then something happened.
It happened very quickly. The three girls were singing along and Edith got distracted for a moment causing her to flip over.
The three girls were scared to death, and they almost crashed... because of a trash bag that fell on the windshield of Diana's Ford, just as the girl turned and accelerated recklessly around a corner. The trash truck on the other side of the street was waiting for the two boys there to grab and throw all the bags inside and, when Edith passed, as she turned into that street, one of them threw a trash bag on her windshield, accidently, of course, ´cause it was intended towards the truck.
—Damn it! —Penny shouted.
—What happened? —Mary asked—. Did we crash?
As Edith looked around, already in the braked car, she focused her eyes on the man who almost made her crash and possibly put her life in danger.
Standing on the other side of the street was a very tall, dark-haired boy (too long for Edith's opinion). He was wearing dirty green work clothes, untidy and dirty-looking. Part of his chest was visible and his face was smudged. He was looking at her with a disgruntled and somewhat frightened look on his face.
He'd almost crashed her! Edith was furious, because if DeeDee was anything, she was easy to anger if you tried to kill her.
She got out of the car just as Penny called out to her.
—DeeDee don't...don't get out...
She got out of the car in a huff and looked at the boy, moving a little closer.
—Excuse me... You almost made me crash. Are you crazy?! The least I expect is an apology.
The boy looked her up and down and frowned. His deep dark blue gaze pierced through her, piercing her. If she had been in a good mood and that stranger hadn't endangered her life, Edith would have noticed how incredibly attractive and rebellious the boy was. He had a dangerous beauty like scarlet velvet or a rose with thorns, which was very strange, for nothing could be further from a rose or velvet than Jack. He looked rebellious and wrong, attractive and alluring in a mysterious way. Yet she was so angry that she missed it. The guy ruffled his hair and replied.
—Me? I am sure that I was throwing the trash back and forth, with the stoplight on red. You went through on red.
Edith burst out laughing.
—Of course I didn't. You drove right through and threw the bag on my windshield. I don't even know if you're qualified for the job you're doing. I should tell my dad to talk to the police and find out about your work history. You could have caused a traffic accident.
—Oh well, if that's why you should tell your, I guess, influential father to reprimand his daughter for driving while screaming and singing at the top of her lungs, not paying attention to the traffic lights... and drunk on top of that —said Jack, sniffing the air in front of him.
—How dare you? I was driving while paying attention. It's not illegal to drive while listening to music.
—But it is while not paying attention to the road.
—She was paying attention to the road.
—Yes —she cut the strange boy off.
—DeeDee... come on —Mary called out to her—. Everybody's looking...
—No... this guy is wrong. He's going to cause an accident —she defended herself. She refused to leave the problem there.
—Come on, Jack! Let her talk to herself —one of the guys called to the boy from the truck.
—How dare you?
—Look —Jack cut the matter short—. I'm sorry I threw the bag on your windshield, I'm sorry, but I have to work and I don't have time to argue with a girl with money and whims. Keep listening to music while you drive. And pay more attention —he said as he picked up the rubbish bag and jumped into the back of the garbage truck, which started up.
—No! —shouted Edith—. I have to find out your background!!! Come back! I want to know your name!
But it was too late, the truck had already driven away.
DeeDee was furious, she had been left talking to herself! She wasn't used to people not listening to her. No one had ever left her with her words in her mouth, until that day. And that made her furious.
—How dare he? Who does he think he is? —Edith said, asking herself. She sighed, calming herself.
—Come on —Penny tugged on her arm—. He's an idiot.
—Yeah, don't let him ruin your day.
Edith looked around and saw that passers-by had stopped and were staring at her.
—Is she the Earl of Montgomery's daughter...? —she heard someone start to say, and knew she must go quickly.
That was how quickly her day had been ruined.
With the arrival of a stranger named Jack.
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