The Ugly Duckling Debutante

By: Rachel Van Dyken

To my grandma, who says, “Nothing beats a bad flight like a good romance novel.”

And also to my unsuspecting husband who endured many long nights watching me type away on my computer. I love you, babe!

Prologue

“It’s a girl, my lady! A fine girl!” the midwife exclaimed, holding out the small bundle in her hands. It seemed nearly impossible she had given birth to such a small and perfect little gift. Obviously, the midwife wanted her to take possession of the child she had laboriously brought into the world.

Without thought, she pulled the bundle to her chest and wept. The salty tears slipped down her cheeks as she mourned all the love that would be lost on her new baby and all the reasons she couldn’t keep her.

“Take her away from me!” Her shriek seemed to bounce off the bare walls of the room.

Hiding her face in her hands, she continued to weep, knowing the situation was completely hopeless. Her aristocratic parents wouldn’t allow the scandal. She knew the only answer lay in giving the child away to distant relatives. If the ton were to discover why she had been sent into hiding, she would be ruined.

The father of the child wanted nothing to do with the baby, even if she did. Hopefully she could convince him to marry her when she went back into London; the season would be starting soon. She closed her heavy eyes and prayed the feeling of loss would leave her.

But it didn’t. There was no way to escape the choices she had made, except to move on with life, and hope the Duke would still find her attractive after a twenty-four hour childbirth. He hadn’t even contacted her—had he even cared for her health at all?

Although young, she wasn’t stupid. He was probably out getting foxed with his friends, while she went through the worst pain imaginable.

It was better this way. Better the infant girl remain in the country. Better she be raised far away from society.

“Her name, miss?” The maid urged softly, looking at her with expectant eyes.

“Sara,” she whispered. “Her name is Sara.”

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