It wasn’t love at first sight when Grayson Preston met Elizabeth Danver. In fact he rather despised her. Lizzie was the only child of a baron on the bordering estate and since she was just one month younger than Gray’s sister, Georgiana, the two became attached at the hip. Lizzie, having already secured Georgiana’s everlasting devotion, had made it her mission that first summer to befriend him (he had the misfortune of being the only other child home that summer). It was a vicious circle; the more he despised her the harder she tried and the harder she tried the more he despised her.
By Lizzie’s third visit Gray had grudgingly admitted she could be quite entertaining. When the family played charades she was the most animated, always laughing loudly and throwing herself into the game with unladylike abandon. She developed a wicked wit as she grew, reciting Shakespeare for his benefit and playing all the parts with various accents.
Lizzie was pretty enough, he supposed, with dark brown curls that were always pulled back with a green ribbon. Her eyes were a blue so dark they looked black and were too large for her face and her eyebrows were just a bit too thick. Her lips were nothing remarkable aside from always being turned up in a cheeky grin. Being young she still had the figure of a boy and was too skinny to be pleasing. Though, if Gray had ever thought to look, he would’ve realized it showed promise.
She had a pretty voice but talked far too loudly and too often. But the one thing Gray had always loved about Lizzie was her laugh. It was positively musical.
Lizzie may have been in love with Michael Preston, the rakish middle son of the duke of Devonshire, but she worshiped Grayson. Gray was her knight in shining armor, her hero. He was the one who taught her to fish and to ride. He even encouraged her literary aspirations by mailing her essays and poems and recommending authors.
Grayson had even punched Niles, the vicar’s son, when the nasty boy had pulled Lizzie’s hair and pushed her in the mud. Niles nose was still crooked five years later. Deep down she knew she should feel bad about this, but it still gave her a sense of smug satisfaction.
It never occurred to Lizzie that she should be in love with Grayson rather than Michael, he was just too perfect. Gray was, aside from Georgiana, Lizzie’s best friend. He was a constant companion and a tremendous confidante, someone she took for granted in the way that all young children take their friends for granted.