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Rated: ASR · Short Story · Romance/Love · #2051473
A Jane Austen type romance story. What else do I write anymore?
1850 Bath, England

Ariana Lindenwood looked into the mirror and fluffed her blonde hair and admired her lavender dress. She was the daughter of a gentleman and she was in love with a gentleman. Lord Kendalll Ashby. They had danced at the last few dances and he told her that he loved her, too but it was obvious he was in no hurry to get married. He had, had dinner at her parents home several times. If he didn't decide soon, she was afraid her father would chose someone she didn't want. She prayed she could charm Kendall and he would want to marry her. Ariana was a lady but she didn't always act like one. She rode horses like a man. She could outride any man and she smoked once in awhile but only in her woods where no one could see her. She played poker with men and won every time. She loved fencing and challenged men to sword fights but they knew she was good at it and turned her down. Ariana refused to act like a uptight proper lady. She wasn't a woman who slept with men. Kendall knew these things about Ariana but he didn't care. He wasn't looking for a lady who behaved like a lady. Ariana was lady enough. She was no one's mistress and she was high spirited. He liked a challenge.

Ariana left for the ball with her family in the carriage. Her brother Andrew was a rogue and their father wanted him to marry as well. Duke Jerome Lindenwood wasn't proud of his son being a rogue and his daughter playing poker and fencing abilities. Ariana would have to be married soon. He would going to choose a husband for her soon if she didn't choose someone.

"Ariana, it is time for you to marry. You have two weeks to choose."

"Two weeks? I am only nineteen. What is the hurry?"

"Most women are married at seventeen. I am giving you a choice. You choose someone tonight or I will be choosing for you."

Ariana's mother Vivian sighed. She hoped Ariana chose someone she loved and not be miserable like she was. She hoped Lord Kendall would ask Ariana to be his wife.

"I want to marry Lord Kendall Ashby."

"I hope he asks you soon, He doesn't show any interest in being married. Your poker antics and fencing scare men off."

"I am not going to be controlled by a man. I have a mind of my own and I am highly educated. I went to college."

"A decision I regret. Ariana, two weeks. If Lord Kendall hasn't asked you to marry him, I will be choosing your husband."

"I will be Lady Ashby. Give me two weeks."

"I pray you are right. As for your brother Andrew, he needs to find a wife."

"Father, I can speak for myself. A man has a right to have lovers." Andrew rolled his eyes.

"We aren't going to discuss this. Your scruples are disappointing. We get you kids married off, this family can save face and stay respectable."

The rest of the carriage ride was quiet. Ariana was glad. They got to the Dasher estate and it was a big mansion with French archeiture designs. She heard Kendall's mansion looked like this. The Lindenwood state was fancy with some French designs but most of it was done in English design. This mansion was three stories high and looked more like a castle with the two tower rooms. A footman helped Ariana out of the carriage and she walked into the mansion. She greeted the Dashers and her friend Caroline and Caroline wasn't pretty like Ariana but she was cute with her honey blonde hair and green eyes. Caroline's family was forcing her to find a husband. Poor girl. She would marry who her parents chose.

Ariana was greeted by Viscount Leopold Drake, a nervous type guy who fell down while dancing. Leopold asked Ariana to dance but she gently turned him down. Kendall finally entered the room. Ariana ran up to him and he gently kissed her. Ariana's father and other guests expressed their disapproval. Ariana held Kendall's hand and they danced, They danced a few dances. She wasn't about to share him. Finally, they went outside for a breath of fresh air.

Kendall kissed Ariana passionately. "How are you, my love?"

"I am fine. I was wondering why you haven't been over to Lindenwood lately."

"I have a surprise for you. How would you like to accompany me on a hot air balloon tomorrow? I have been learning how to fly one from a French man and I am going solo tomorrow. Meet me at Hyde Park."

Ariana was surprised. "A balloon ride? What time? Oh, this is exciting!"

"Nine am, my dear. You know I love you. We are going to have fun."

Kendall kissed Ariana and Andrew told Ariana that father was looking for her.

Kendall greeted Andrew and left. "Andrew, can you take me to Hyde Park tomorrow morning? I am going on a balloon ride with Kendall."

"Really, little sister? Is this how you are going to get Kendall propose?"

"Yes, it is. Since mother and father are leaving at six am, they won't know when I leave."

Andrew put his arm around his sister and they went back into the ball.

Jerome introduced Ariana to a young man Nathan Langfeldt, who had red hair and a baby face and Ariana was forced to dance with him. He kept stepping on her feet. This is who father had in mind for a husband? No way! Ariana was going to get Kendall to propose tomorrow.

Ariana didn't sleep well that night. She heard her parents leave and she ate breakfast. Andrew was up early and got the horse and carriage ready.

"Little sister, I want you to marry Kendall. Nathan Langfeldt. He is as dumb as a stick! I do hope you will be safe with that balloon ride."

"I trust Kendall. He does love me."

"I am sure he does."

Andrew helped Ariana in the carriage and they got to Hyde Park. There was the balloon! A big, red and yellow balloon. Ariana admired it. Kendall was standing next to it. He embraced Ariana and kissed her.

"Take care of her." Andrew said. He kissed Ariana's cheek.

"I promise I will."

"So, my Dear, are you ready for this?"

Ariana nodded. Kendall helped her into the balloon. The people crowded around and whispered that it wasn't appropriate.

"Ladies and gentlemen, my beloved Ariana and I are going to embark on a balloon ride. We will see you later."

Kendall pulled up the ropes and the balloon had lifted up with a billow of smoke. Ariana almost fell and Kendall stopped her fall as he pulled her near him. They could see houses and barns below. Ariana loved seeing the horses and the sky. She was on top of the world. The balloon soared and Kendall kept the balloon floating. Birds flew by and this was so beautiful. She could see the world from up high. She felt like she was Queen.

"What do you think?"

"I love it. How will we come down?"

"The journey has just begun."

Kendall embraced Ariana and kissed her. Just then a storm came up and the balloon was blowing and it was trying to float down to earth. Kendall hung onto the ropes and the fire to the balloon felt hot and the lightning hit the top of the balloon and the balloon was headed towards the ground at top speed. Ariana screamed. Kendall held her and told her to get down to the bottom of the balloon. They both did and he held her tight.

Ariana was always brave but she was crying.

"Don't cry. Ariana, if we live through this and we will, will you marry me? I love you. I am sorry it has taken me this long to ask you. Please be my wife. I promise to take better care of you then this. I really do love you, I swear it."

" I believe you. I will marry you. We have to live now. You aren't getting out of this.I have been waiting and praying for you to ask me to be your wife. I love you, too so much."

Kendall and Ariana kissed as the balloon plummeted to the ground. It landed with a thud. Kendal felt dizzy but he grabbed Ariana and they got out of the balloon. They looked around. They were near a farmer's house and a farmer was running towards them.

"Are you alright?"

"Yes, I believe so."

The farmer Angus Watkins had them walk to his house and his wife gave them some tea and cake.

"Thank you, Mrs. Watkins. Can I send a message to my parents Mr. and Mrs. Lindenwood to let them know I am alright."

"Of course you can."

A message was sent to the Lindenwoods and Ariana and Kendall stayed at the Watkins that night.

"Were you serious about marrying me?"

"Of course, I am. I love you. Facing death made me realize that I don't want to miss another day with you."

"I am so glad. I feel the same way. I would marry you right this minute."

Ariana fell asleep on the couch with Kendall. The next morning, Ariana's parents showed up.

Jerome grabbed Kendall and punched him. "You ruined Ariana's reputation. A balloon ride? Are you deft? Risking my daughter's life? I should horse whip you!" He grabbed Kendall by the collar and hit him. Mr. Watkins came between them and he got punched, too.

"Father, stop this! Kendall has asked me to marry him. I accepted. Stop this behavior. I love him. He loves me."

Jerome let go of Kendall. "I am not happy about this but my daughter wants you and I know she will be provided for but a bloody balloon ride! You could have been killed!"

"Look! They are safe. Jerome, you are supposed to be a gentleman but you don't always act like one. Your daughter is her own woman. Kendall loves her. She loves him. More then I can say for us." Vivian Lindenwood had never talked back to her husband before.

"Okay, wife. Let's take our daughter home and our son-in-law to be. We have a wedding to plan for. We will improve our marriage. About Andrew. That can wait for another day. " Jerome smiled.

Ariana got what she wanted. She and Kendall were married two weeks later. The wedding was beautiful. People respected Ariana. Ariana became a lady. Mr. and Mrs. Ashby lived happily ever after. Ariana's parents were happy, too. Andrew? He became a happily married man.

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