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February 8, 1870, Denver, Colorado
Samantha stopped pacing as she caught sight of herself in the large oval mirror over the fireplace. She was standing across the room, far enough away from the mirror to see almost a full view of herself. Samantha's eyes glittered. She didn't see how provocative she looked in the stylish two-piece dark-green-taffeta suit trimmed with black velvet. All she could see was that her hair, which she had spent an hour arranging artfully, had fallen into complete disarray because of her furious pacing. Two of her silken auburn locks hung all the way to her slim waist.
Samantha gritted her teeth and stomped across the large hotel suite she was sharing with her friend, Jeannette Allston. Jeannette was not at home, but even if she had been, Samantha wouldn't have tried to hide her anger. Usually, she did keep her temper in check around the petite blonde girl, but just then she was too furious. Furious.
She halted her angry stride and stood directly in front of the oval mirror, hands on hips, glaring at herself. Large emerald eyes flashed back at her.
"See what you've done now, Samantha Blackstone Kingsley?" she hissed at the mirror. "You've gone and let him upset you again. Look at you! Estupida!" She often cursed in Spanish because she knew it as well as she knew English.
Viciously she poked the loose curls back into place, not really caring anymore how she looked. Her green velvet hat would hide the coiffure anyway. She would put it on just before leaving. If she left. If Adrien ever got there to escort her to the restaurant.
An hour late-an hour! Her stomachgrowled with hunger, and that increased her fury. Why had she told Jeannette she would wait there for Jeannette's brother? She should have left with Jeannette. But, no, Samantha wanted the chance to be alone with Adrien. It seemed she was never alone with him.
She loved Adrien, she adored him, and how could she let him know it unless she could get him alone for just a little while? But Adrien was late. He was always late, and this time she was furious about it.
This one time she had had a chance to have Adrien all to herself, but he had spoiled it by being late, and he had put her in a temper because of it. When he came, if he came, she was just mad enough to let Adrien Allston know what she thought of him! The nerve!
Why had she chosen him to fall in love with? Sophisticated Adrien. Handsome-no, beautiful. He was simply beautiful. Not too tall, but so muscular, so virile looking.
He was going to be her husband. Of course, Adrien didn't know that yet. But Samantha had known it from the moment she met him, two years before. He was the man for her. And Samantha always got what she wanted. Ever since she had come to live with her father ten years before, when she was only nine, she had had everything her way. She was used to getting what she wanted.
And Samantha wanted Adrien. So she would get him, one way or another-if she didn't alienate him completely today.
She really had to calm down, because she couldn't afford to vent her anger on Adrien. He wouldn't expect it at all. She had always managed to be the sweet, gentle lady he thought she was. From the moment Jeannette had confessed that her brother couldn't tolerate emotional disturbances of any kind, Samantha had never raised her voice in his presence. She was always calm, even demure. What an effort! She who was always so quick to fly into a rage, so temperamental.
Spoiled, her tutor had called her, spoiled and selfish and willful. But he didn't understand what she had gone through during her first nine years, living with her grandmother in England. So he didn't know that, once she had tasted freedom, she couldn't get enough of it. She was determined to forget the rigidity of those first nine years, determined to do whatever she wanted. And if she had to show a little temper at times to get her way, and if she was spoiled, what of it? She got her way. Always.
Maria, the Kingsleys' housekeeper, who was the closest thing to a mother Samantha had ever had, was more kind than the tutor. Maria called her pequena zorra little fox. "You are wily like Ia zorra, nina," Maria would scold whenever she saw that determined gleam in Samantha's eyes. And one day she had added, "You are wise enough to handle your papa, but someday you will meet a man you cannot handle. Then what will you do, nina?"
But Samantha had scoffed and replied confidently, "I will have nothing to do with a man I can't handle. Why should I? I'm not ever giving up my freedom."
That had been...how long ago? Nearly three years. Right before she went East to finishing school. But she still felt the same way. And she would be able to handle Adrien, she was sure of it. Sure enough to marry him.
But he didn't know about her plans. Why, Adrien hardly knew she was alive. It was a wound to her vanity, for if Samantha was anything, she was beautiful.
It was her good fortune, yet she took it for granted and had never given it much thought-until recently. Because, for all her effort, for all her endeavoring to improve what the good Lord had given her, Adrien still didn't notice.
Hers was almost a classical beauty, and she had vivid coloring, hair that gleamed almost crimson in certain light, and eyes like the brightest of emeralds. A fine, slim figure. And remarkable features that demanded more than one look from anyone. But did Adrien look? He seemed to see right through her, to look, yet not to be looking at all. It was maddening...