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ABOUT A HOME FOR HELENA
After a gypsy suggests that she has been misplaced in time, Helena Lloyd travels back two hundred years in an attempt to find out where she belongs.
Widowed father James Walker has no intention of remarrying until he makes the acquaintance of his daughter’s lovely new governess.
Lady Pendleton, a time-traveling Regency lady herself, suspects that these two belong together. First, however, she must help Helena discover her true origins—and hopefully, a home where she belongs.
A Home for Helena is Book 2 of The Lady P Chronicles.
EXCERPT, All Rights Reserved.
Later that morning
“Miss Dray is dead?”
James stared incredulously at Sir Henry, who, for once, was not wearing his normal easy-going expression. Instead, he leaned against the mantel of the fireplace of his study, studying the grate as though there were a fire blazing in it.
“Good God, what happened? Is Annabelle all right?”
“She’s fine, James.”
Lady Sarah strolled through the doorway and into her husband’s arms. In spite of her words, she looked worn out. Strands of her blonde hair were falling out of her chignon, and he thought he saw the remains of tears on her cheeks.
“The girls are quite distressed, of course. They were fond of Miss Dray. As were we all,” she said with a glance at her husband, whose arm remained tightly clasped around her shoulders. “She was a dear thing, but very strict. The perfect governess. I don’t know how we shall go on without her.” Her voice broke and she buried her face on her husband’s chest.
“They found her in Abbey Wood,” Sir Henry explained. “Wednesday was her half-day, and when she didn’t return, we sent out a search party. No signs of foul play. The doctor says it was natural causes—her heart just gave out.”
His wife erupted in sobs again, and James decided he should find his daughter and leave the Newsomes to their grief, giving voice to that decision.
Lady Sarah turned to face him, accepting her husband’s handkerchief to dab her eyes with.
“Oh no, James, you needn’t do that. The nanny will manage until Mother can send us a replacement. Emily and Theodosia simply love having Annabelle around, and it will only distress them further if she leaves as well. And as for Colin, I’ve no doubt he thinks Annabelle’s his mother by now. She has a way with babies, it seems.”
James was not convinced. “Still, it takes time to find a governess.” He should know—the agency he’d consulted in London had yet to send him information on any potential candidates.
Sir Henry chuckled. “Have you met my mother-in-law?”
Lady Sarah smiled in spite of herself. “We sent an express requesting her aid. If I know her, she’ll come herself if she can’t find someone suitable to fill in until we find a permanent replacement.”
Sir Henry winked at him. “Perhaps she’ll bring along that pretty Miss Lloyd she has residing with her. I think she liked you well enough.” He chuckled. “Not looking for a husband, though. Or so she says.”
James frowned. He’d nearly succeeded in forcing the image of the forthright Miss Lloyd out of his mind, and now she had installed herself right back in again. If he were truthful with himself, he’d admit he wouldn’t be sorry to see her again. She was quite an eyeful.
It was really too bad he hadn't been able to visit Violet while in London. It seemed her new protector demanded exclusivity, and he'd not been able to get past her burly butler. He hadn't been near an attractive woman in ages, and this Miss Lloyd was proving strangely difficult to dismiss from his thoughts.
Lady Sarah looked thoughtful. “What do you know about this Miss Lloyd, Henry? Where did she come from? I don’t believe Mother has ever mentioned her before.”
Sir Henry grinned as he looked down at her. “She’s your mother, my dear. Surely you know by now how unpredictable she can be.”
Lady Sarah drew a deep breath. “I do know that. That’s precisely why I’m—concerned.”
James cleared his throat. “I appreciate your kindness in offering to keep my daughter, but you obviously have more than enough to deal with at present. If you would be so kind as to call her down… I can send for her things later.”
But the Newsomes wouldn’t hear of it. Lady Sarah was so vehement that he could see she was almost ready to burst into tears again, and after Sir Henry shook his head in warning, James visited his daughter briefly and left without her.
As he rode home, no matter how he fought it, his mind’s eye kept reverting to a pair of bright green eyes and the lovely face that went with them. Would he be seeing them again?
The wheels of the golden carriage rolled over the fine gravel drive through the grand metal gateway, passing under a bower of stately oak trees toward the magnificent palace. Helena peered out the window to admire the lavish beauty of her future home with its crenellated walls and tall turrets and the colorful flags waving in the breeze. A multitude of common people lined the entrance to the castle, cheering and calling out, “Welcome home, Your Royal Highness!” and “The Princess has returned! Long live the Princess!”
Shaking with excitement, Helena waved eagerly at her subjects, wishing she could descend the carriage and embrace them all for their warm welcome.
Home. Yes, she was home. After a lifetime of being lost in a world that was not her own, she was finally returning to the place where she belonged, to the parents out of whose arms she had been snatched by an evil witch. But that nightmare was over now. She would soon be reunited with her very own parents, who had been relentlessly searching for her for decades.
Her parents. Dressed in magnificent robes with jewels sparkling from their crowns, they eagerly waited for the carriage to stop and the door opened to reveal their long-lost daughter. Happy tears clouded Helena’s vision, but she imagined their faces to be older versions of the miniatures on her locket.
The cheering intensified as the footman opened the carriage door, snapped the metal step ladder in place, and held out a hand to assist her in alighting from the carriage. Once on the ground, she smoothed out the folds of her silver-threaded gown, and waved to the cheering crowd before turning to ascend the staircase to where her parents awaited.
She forced herself to take several deep, calming breaths to keep herself from rushing toward them like a lunatic. Could this really be happening or was it some incredible dream from which she would awaken and find herself alone once more? She’d never dreamed she could be so happy. Or that anyone could be so happy. The world just didn’t work that way, at least not in her experience.
Only a few yards away, they locked eyes on her, and suddenly her mother shrieked and crumpled in her husband’s arms.
“How can this be?” she sobbed. “It is too cruel to torment us in such a manner!”
The king—her father—glared at her, nostrils flaring.
“Where is our daughter?” he demanded. “Our real daughter? Our little Helena who was cruelly taken from us.”
Helena fell on her knees before them. “But I am your daughter. I’ve grown up, you see. I’ve been gone more than 26 years! Surely you don’t expect me to be a baby still!”
The queen straightened her back and scowled at Helena. “Do you think us fools? We could not possibly have a daughter as old as you. You are nothing but yet another imposter!”
And Helena saw that it was indeed true—her parents looked exactly as they had in the locket; they had not aged at all since the miniatures were painted.
“But I am your daughter!” She cried and pleaded until her throat grew sore. The crowd around her had turned hostile, yelling “Imposter! Imposter! Off with her head!"
“I am Helena! I am your daughter! Not an imposter! You must believe me!"
Misplaced in time… can she find her way home?
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Susana Ellis has always had stories in her head waiting to come out, especially when she learned to read and her imagination began to soar.
A former teacher, Susana lives in Toledo, Ohio in the summer and Florida in the winter. She is a member of the Central Florida Romance Writers and the Beau Monde chapters of RWA and Maumee Valley Romance Inc.
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