In the parlour of Yew Tree Manor, Trinity Fallon sat sulking by the fire, which at this time of year, was of no use nor entertainment. The unobstructed rays of sunshine from outside that were presently toasting the taffeta folds of her lilac dress had been giving far more warmth of late than a typical English summer season could ever hope for.
The house was silent except for a bluejay resting on a nearby windowsill that overlooked the gardens. He sang cheerily to Trin, urging her out of her mood, but it was no use.
Faye O’Hara was a no good goody two shoes; an imposter of the highest degree. Trin had tried to befriend Faye when she and her father had first moved into town, but the bog-trotter’s daughter was like no other girl Trin had ever had to endure. “It’s the Irish in her”, Trin’s father had said in the Spring after Faye tromped through the Fallon household for the first time. “As rich as that family gets, they’ll never be able to brush the dirt from their bones. Mind you, Trin, it’s best we not talk about them so roughly; we’re part Irish ourselves, we are.”
“But Father, how can I possibly be expected to keep my composure around her? There must be another tutor in Norwich to school her, mustn’t there? Need we really study together?”
Tea had just been served but Trin had not been hungry. Rather, she had snatched up her latest novel from the sideboard and flopped down onto the settee next to Lord Fallon, thoroughly exhausted from her first day’s worth of studying with Faye.
“Mmmm,” Lord Fallon muttered in agreement, “I have no doubt that the O’Haras could afford a private tutor if one needed to be arranged, but my darling - Trin…”
Trin’s gaze had slowly drifted away once she had realized where her father was headed. She had glanced back at him glumly.
“My darling,” he’d continued, “now that your sister is down in Cambridge half the year, you ought to spend more time socializing with other girls your age.” Lord Fallon had offered a rueful smile. “Miss O’Hara is only one year older than you and besides, are there any young women in this town you can think of who you would prefer to spend time with?”
It was a rhetorical question, to which Trinity had known the answer in a split second; no contemplation required. Her father was right. With Quenby Fallon off at some progressive women’s college, Trinity Fallon and Faye O’Hara were the only young debutantes in Norwich who came from respectable families. Although the exact notion of respectable families was debatable - particularly when it came to new money versus old money - Trinity understood that in eyes of Britain’s class system, she was not permitted to enjoy the company of anyone but the likes of Miss O’Hara.
Some two months later, whilst taking tea in the parlour after a day of lessons, Trin’s feelings towards Faye had yet to change from that first encounter with the O’Hara girl, despite her best efforts. And now, with her parents out of the house, all Trin could sit and sulk about was having spent the past five hours glaring at Faye’s falsely accentuated rump while listening to that Irish accent of hers putter on about ridiculous nonsense and gossip. Today was the day that Quenby would be returning home from Cambridge for the season. Trinity’s elder sister; her other half. She had been anticipating this afternoon for all the weeks since Quenby’s letter had arrived with the exact date, even picking out her favourite dress a week in advance to have Clara press it and hang it nicely. If not for her radiant sister’s return to the Manor, why else would Trin possibly have herself tied up into layer upon layer of taffeta and crinoline on the hottest day in June?
But all her excitement for today had dissipated within minutes of reciting last night’s Latin homework alongside her classmate, who had been failing miserably to conceal her lack of the ancient language for the past eight weeks.
Sitting in the parlour alone, an earl grey in one hand, a madeleine in the other, Trinity shut her eyes, wishing, as she so often did, that she were more like Quenby; more free-spirited, hard-headed, and brave. If Quenby had to share her tutor with Faye O’Hara, Trin reckoned Quenby would have put her in her place a long time ago. Quenby, in addition to being intelligent, had a tongue as sharp as a pin that she often pricked people with whether intentionally or otherwise. Yes, her rambunctious nature sometimes gets Quenby into tight spots, but at least she gets what she wants, Trinity reckoned.
The bluejay outside gave a supportive chirp, startling Trin from her reverie. She looked up at it and smiled for the first time since breakfast.
“Oh, how I wish Bee would just get here quick,” Trin said.
The bird tweeted back his reassurance that she would before flitting off to a branch out of sight. Then, like a freight train in the stillness, the front door clattered open. Trin sloshed her tea in a mad attempt to jump into a presentable position.
“Hello?” Trinity called. No answer. Mother and Father were in town for the day and the staff had taken the afternoon off before dinner preparations to enjoy the sun. “Bee - is that you?”
Setting the tea aside, Trin peered into the hall and tip-toed toward the foyer. If Quenby had arrived home on an earlier train to surprise her little sister, she was about to be in for a surprise of her own. A stream of light blasted the foyer into whiteness as the front door opened again. Thunk, thud, thunk went the trunks as the were dropped onto the hardwood floor inside.
Trinity poised herself behind the grandfather clock, ready to pounce on her sister as she came around the corner, but suddenly, the front door shut and her eyes had to bring the contents of the now shady foyer back into focus. When they had, the sight in front of her made her jump, and in her startled state she knocked accidentally against the cherry oak clock, giving away her hiding place.
“What on Earth were you doing behind there?” the young man asked, to which Trinity replied with silence. She just stared at him like a mute idiot; dazed and confused.
He was tall, broad, and dark. He looked like her mother, that’s for certain; the Casey eyes and the ashen locks spilling past his ears gave it away. The freckles though, were entirely his own; one mark for each day of his life he had spent in the fields; in his father’s footsteps.
“What’er ya gunna do, Trin?” he asked jovially. “Yer jus’gunna stare at me like that?”