Sophia de la Cerda Posted July 23, 2016 Share Posted July 23, 2016 Tucked away in St. James’s Park, away from the oft-traveled avenues and sprawling lawns, is a grove of ancient trees. The quiet burble of a stream draws the curious explorer into a hidden glade to discover a forgotten pavilion. Its ornate construction is evocative of the Far East, and beneath the lichen, colorful paint and peeling gilt reveal that it was once a festive destination. Now, however, flowering vines have overgrown the lattice walls creating a whimsical hideaway. At some point, an especially decadent and generous visitor left an assortment of plush pillows on the bench seating, laid an old Persian rug on the plank floor, and hung a pair of lanterns from the crossbeams. The result is a perfect spot for a lovers’ rendezvous or some other covert exchange. After Caroline's departure, Sophia left word with a servant that she would be painting in the park in case Esteban came home early and asked where she was. The park was large enough that it would be difficult to find her if he sent someone to look for her, which she doubted he would. Although she had never spoken to him about it, she believed he was aware of her penchant to seek out interesting places to paint, considering that she did it quite often. Only yesterday, she had left the house to paint and had had found herself embroiled in an unexpected adventure with the Duchess of Buccleuch and Lord Dundarg. Now she was heading toward another adventure, this time with the intriguing Lord Arundel. After writing Don Juan about the opera and the ball, she had felt guilty and almost decided not to go, but she had convinced herself that he was only interested in friendship and had asked her to go sledding with him because he knew that she was daring and adventurous, unlike a lot of the ladies at court. Perhaps all he did want was someone to share a bit of fun with and it was possible that he might drop some tidbit of information that would be useful to Esteban. Deep in the back of her mind, she suspected that she was only fooling herself. He had made it clear what he wanted and she had told him how to get it, though she was still not completely certain if she was the lady he was looking for. She still loved Juan with all her heart. But Henry was so very tempting ... Life was quite confusing when one was only sixteen. Anna was waiting for her in the stables. Sophia's painting supplies had been packed into Acapella's saddlebags and soon they were on their way. Anna, riding on one of the other horses, would accompany her to the gazebo and then hide among the trees until Lord Arundel's coach arrived. She would covertly follow them to the forest and after a predetermined signal from Sophia once she saw Lord Arundel, Anna would go and visit a friend, meeting her mistress back at the gazebo a few hours later. All the petite blonde had told her was that she was meeting a friend. It was quite cold when they reached the pavilion. Sophia thought it was beautiful, with the vines covered in snow and glittering icicles hanging from the edges of the roof. Anna rode a short distance away until she was hidden from view. Sophia remained mounted, waiting for the handsome Earl's coach to arrive. Acapella snorted occasionally and pawed the ground, and Sophia stroked his mane reassuringly. "Be patient," she whispered. "We will be on our way again soon." Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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