Ardently Yours

Alyssa Tillet

London, England 1889

Clutching the book in her hands, Flora Southwick leaned against the aging oak tree in Hyde Park. Her eyes closed for a moment, letting the afternoon sun filter through the leaves, casting shadows on her face. With a sigh, she held up the novel she hadn’t opened since two weeks prior. She had been reading in a dimly lit library at Mrs. Brixton’s house, escaping the noise and laughter of the ballroom. And then he had walked in. 

Harrison Wedgewood had been the talk around London for several months. No one knew where he had come from, only that he had inherited his uncle’s estate and resided in London until the end of the season. He had become her friend over the past several weeks. With his unease around the socialites and her penchant for quiet spots to read, they often found themselves discussing all sorts of topics while music played and dancers danced. 

But two weeks ago, everything changed. Her breath hitched on a silent sob. Lowering herself against the tree’s rough bark, she could almost hear those ladies again in the hallway discussing Harrison. 

“I hear he is going to propose to Anna Wentworth tomorrow.” The shrill voice of Miss Kenneth was not easy to miss. 

“Mr. Wedgewood and Anna Wentworth would perfectly suit each other.” The quieter nasally voice replied. 

“Better than that Flora Southwick. Why, she disappears every chance she gets during a ball. I saw her leave not ten minutes ago.” 

Tears had stung her eyes as she backed away from the door. Picking up her discarded novel, she fled the library. 

Flora swiped the stray tear that slid down her cheek. Two weeks had seemed like an eternity. He would be engaged by now. Her stomach pinched in pain at the thought of Harrison marrying another. When had she fallen in love with him? Was it through the letters they wrote to each other? Or when he had made her laugh during a ball Mrs. Petersons hosted? Maybe it was the time they strolled through this very park opening their hearts to each other about their hopes and dreams. 

Shaking her head, she cracked open the spine of her novel, hoping a good story would distract her thoughts. But as she opened the book, something fell out, fluttering to the ground. Picking up the crisp paper, she unfolded it, curious as to how it had gotten inside the pages. 

The masculine scrawl was one she knew by heart. Harrison. 

My Dearest Flora,

I don’t know why you refuse to see me, but I want, no, I need to see you. I had hoped to bare my heart in person, but with that being quite impossible, I hope this letter will find its way to you.

My darling Flora. What started as a friendship born from mutual disdain for balls turned into something more precious. My heart can no longer be silent on the matter. I have fallen in love with you.

Flora gasped. Harrison loved her? Her heart thundered as she let her gaze flick back to the page.

The way your laughter lights the room and your lovely tea-colored eyes dance. How you show compassion in your tender touch for the blooming wildflowers. The gentle way you helped Widow Clara with her parcels while out shopping. I could write a list of all the reasons I have fallen in love with you, but it would take up more paper than I have on hand.

If there is a possibility you feel the same about me, meet me in Hyde Park around two in the afternoon by the bench where we found that stray kitten. I will be waiting for you, my love. But if you do not come, I will understand.

Ardently Yours,

Two! Pulling out her pocket watch, she noted the time. It was fifteen past two. Would he still be there? She pushed herself up off the ground, collecting her novel in one hand and her skirt in the other. Flora made a mad dash out of the strand of trees, startling a couple walking by. She didn’t care that everyone stopped to stare at her as she ran. She just wanted to get to the other side of the park and see if Harrison still waited. 

Her lungs burned, and her toes stung from her tight-laced shoes. But she ignored it all. The bench came into view as she skirted around a small strand of trees and shrubs. Her heart beat wildly in her chest as she slowed. Where was he? She was too late. Lowering herself to the bench, she let the tears flow freely as she took out the letter again, reading the words over, wanting to memorize each one. 

“Flora?” The deep voice startled her, and she looked up. There he stood. Harrison with his unruly dark hair and lovely, golden green eyes. His hair stood on end as if he had run his fingers through his hair several times. 

“Harrison.” She nearly whispered his name, her lungs still catching up from her run earlier. 

He sat on the bench, facing her. “You got my letter?” 

She held up the letter from her book and nodded. “Oh, Harrison.” 

He leaned forward and gently swiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb. She leaned into his touch and gazed into his eyes. Eyes that held questions. 


His hand stilled at her voice, making her smile.

She leaned closer to him until they were just mere inches away. “I love you.”

Relief, joy, and wonder all crossed his face just before he leaned his forehead to hers.

He gently pulled her close, mumbling something about wanting to do this for so long before his lips met hers, sending her heart to pounding all over as if she were running again.

Except this time she was running to love.

Alyssa Tillet
Alyssa Tillet is an aspiring novelist residing in East Tennessee. During the day, she works full-time alongside her husband selling accessibility products. In the evenings, she writes historical romance with adventure and a dash of humor. Her goal is to write stories that will make the reader smile, swoon, and sigh. She is a member of ACFW and ACFW Knoxville. When Alyssa is not working or writing, she is making digital art, caring for her many houseplants, reading, and taking hikes.

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