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Geneva's Hope by Payton Lee
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Geneva's Hope by Payton Lee
Excerpt from the book

The first book in the Geneva Series

1878

The noisy streets of New York filtered through to the suite in their hotel. Kerry had been looking forward to her shopping spree with her Auntie Audrey. Kerry had not considered the interruption that happened.

Thomas entered the room in his typical reserved butler stoicism. "A gentleman caller for you, Miss Kerry."

"A gentleman caller? Who could that possibly be? We have just arrived here this morning." Kerry winced in surprise at Audrey Astor.

"His card says he is Everett Mann, Miss Kerry." Thomas responded after reading the presented card. "Shall I tell him you are indisposed?"

"No Thomas, you may show him in. I am curious to find out just how he found out I was here."

"You have many suitors, my dear." Audrey Stuart Astor chuckled. She was still a beautiful woman at the age of fifty-four. Her eyes were still twinkling bright blue and had the same deep brown hair color of her niece only touched by sprinklings of gray. "Everett is certainly persistent."

"Too persistent, especially after I told him when I left school last year, I was not interested." Kerry turned to look at the tall blond man entering the sitting room of their hotel suite whispering, "and again when he showed up at your Nob Hill residence last week upon hearing of my visit to you."

"Kerry!" Everett beamed. "I am so glad I found you." "Just how did you find me?"

"When I was told you were no longer in residence in Boston with your Aunt Audrey, I knew you would be shopping and of course New York is the best place to shop." Everett's smile was wickedly egotistical at his intellect and logic. "There are only a few hotels in New York that Audrey Astor would stay in and I was in luck. You were at the third hotel I inquired in."

"Well, you have found me." Kerry smiled graciously to her persistent suitor. "However I see no purpose in your reason for doing so. I hardly think you would want to shop with Auntie Audrey and myself."

"Dearest Kerry, I have taken a room in this hotel, not for the purpose to shop with you, but to dine with you, enjoy a play or two and keep you company."

"Everett, I have told you before I returned to home after matriculation.

I am not interested in your company." "Yet you returned to Boston."

"I had promised Auntie Audrey I would visit regularly."

"Beautiful goddess, Kerry. I am too enchanted with your beauty to give up on us."

"Everett, there is no us!" Kerry said in exasperation. "There never was an us!"

"Not yet, Kerry. I intend to make you mine."

"I don't think you understand the word, not interested! Do you Mr.

Mann?" Audrey snickered in protective interference. "Perhaps, a simple no and

go away would do."

"Nothing will do other than Kerry accept my proposal of marriage."

"I already told you, no!" Kerry's voice was rising in frustration. "I will never give up my home in Nevada!" Kerry stood and walked toward her room in the suites to escape this repeated irritating conversation.

"I will never understand what loyalty you have to that wilderness, when you can have the civilized world at your feet. I would see to it."

"And you sir, will never understand the clean air and freedom of the wide open spaces. You will never see the stars so clearly; enjoy the velvet purple view of a mountain sunrise, watch a mustang run free, or watch an eagle soar in the skies. You, Everett, will never understand peace, serenity and beauty."

"I see your beauty, dearest Kerry. A beauty to be by my side."

"You want an ornament?" Audrey interjected caustically. "Kerry is a living breathing soul, her mother's daughter. She would never be an ornament."

"An ornament alone would never do. I also require an heir."

"Mr. Mann, please just leave right now before my head really starts to hurt."

"I would like you and Kerry to join me for dinner this evening, Mrs.

Astor." Everett smiled ignoring her dismissal. Turning to Kerry he suggested, "We could discuss this love for the wilderness as we dine and then leave to enjoy a play."

"I really don't want to share dinner with you Everett." Kerry answered as she leaned against the door to her room. She was staring angrily into the gray eyes of the unwanted suitor. Everett Mann was handsome, there was no denying that, but he never worked a day in his life. Everything was given to him and his idea of life was watching the next polo match and sitting in the men's club discussing certificates and stocks that their bankers had invested for them. In reality, Everett Mann was a shallow person and a true bore. There was also something about him that disturbed her. Kerry had always felt that beneath that cordial and spoiled child persona was something deeper, a cruel side to his nature. Any wife of his would be a possession, not by love but by might and right. That feeling had frightened Kerry. It was Kerry’s inner warning to keep him always at a distance.

"I won't take no for an answer. You know that Kerry." Everett retorted. He was certain of one thing in his life. He got whatever he wanted, and he wanted Kerry. The beautiful dark brown haired, perfect figured, sculpted perfect face, light blue eyed, peaches and cream skinned, Kerry would be his one way or another. "Unlike your other suitors. I will not give up. I will stay here until you and your Aunt agree to dine with me."

"Oh alright, Everett. If Auntie Audrey agrees, we'll have dinner but that's all, understood?"

"Mrs. Astor?" Everett questioned for approval.

"One night for dinner would be fine." Audrey agreed just to get him out of the suite.

"Wonderful! I'll collect you at seven for dinner." Having his way again, Everett turned on his heels and pranced out the door.

"There's something about him that I don't like and never have since he first tried courting you. I just can't put my finger on it." Audrey revealed to her niece.

"My feelings exactly." Kerry agreed. "I love visiting you Auntie, and shopping with you, but I really love those miles between Everett and myself when I am back in Nevada."

"I can understand that completely, dear Kerry. Let's forget that dinner engagement until this evening. I am in the mood to shop."

The rest of the day with Auntie Audrey was positively delightful for Kerry. They bought some new day dresses, and gowns. Kerry purchased several bolts of cotton and linen materials in different solid colors. She also purchased several bolts of different color and patterned calico. These were gifts for her Sosoni' friends; they truly loved the fabrics, especially the calicos. For her Auntie Alyson she bought velvets, satins, brocades, and silks.

"Why do you buy that fabric for those Indians, I will never know?" Audrey complained.

"It is more of a trade Auntie Audrey. I give them the calicos and I get buckskin trousers and shirts. They are comfortable for riding and they are warm and practical."

"Alyson must be furious when she sees you in that Indian apparel." "She's accustomed to it!" Kerry laughed. "The two of you have seen

to it that I was raised a lady after my tomboy years, so don't fret!"

"Those brothers of yours still see you as that little tomboy, from what Alyson writes to me."

"I couldn't have learned to shoot, fight, ride and rope without them." "Please don't admit to all of that!"

"I'm still always a lady with you and Auntie Alyson, don't worry. That other twin of mine only comes out when I am with my brothers."

"Just how are they doing?" Audrey asked raising a disapproving eyebrow. "Alyson doesn't write about them very much."

"She doesn't write because it's the same old story. They are kind of in a rut. Ayden spends most of his time in finances and new ranching principles to the chagrin of Pa. Ryan likes to spend most of his time working the ranch with hands on, and Dwayne spends most of his time fending off the eligible women in the county, since he is such a dandy."

"Why don't those handsome brothers of yours ever come and visit their city cousins?"