Deeper and deeper I ran into the forest.I was wearing my nightdress,desperate to get away from him.I stumbled over a fallen branch,he was like a wolf,and I was his prey,puffing and panting I gave up,I just lay there like a poor defenceless deep giving up it’s fight for life.He had a knife in his hand,came to finish off the job he said.
I woke up with a piercing scream.
I jolted up,Oliver touched my face,it wasn’t the time to melt into his embrace,I was so scared.
‘It’s happening again Olly.’ I sobbed.
‘I’m here Gis.’
‘My head is pounding,Jack he had a knife,I was in the forest he…’
‘You’re having that dream again?’
‘Up here it felt so real,I was so scared…’
‘I thought that I was going to die.’
‘Darling were in Marseilles,you’re safe now.’
He was right,we were in Marseilles,it was a beautiful morning,but I had broken my sleep,the hysterical look is not very attractice.I know but I keep having this recurring dream,every night without fail.Jack and I are alone in the woods,he’s consumed full of jealously that I had ran off with Lord Rickman,he’s a tortured soul.’
‘He’s Othello isn’t he? I’m Desdomona,he’s going to hunt me down Oliver.I know it,he won’t rest until he’s got his sweet revenge on me.’
‘Hush Juliet,look at me sweet pea,you trust me don’t you?’
‘I trust you.’
‘Well he’ll have to get through me first,I love you so much Gisele Fleur Tara Anastacia.’
‘I feel weak at the knees when you do that, addressing me by my full name.’
‘I haven’t finished yet,I would sacrifice my life for you to have a moments peace.’
‘Yes like Romeo,now enough of the Desdomona nonsense,that’s your trouble you have a wild imagination,I’m not mocking you for that.But it’s not healthy forever having your nose stuck in those tragedies.’
‘I have you know,Romeo and Juliet is a love story.’
‘You’ll drive yourself mad like fair old Ophelia did in the end.’
He kissed my nose.
‘Now go back to sleep.’
‘Yes my Lord.’
Lord Rickman and I were closer than we ever were before,starting our new life together away from London.I insisted on bringing my faitful Cossack,as I would miss her terribly but in my heart of hearts I was worried that the travelling would distress,she is no longer the spritely young horse that she once was.
We bought this beautiful little chateu in Marseille,it was perfect,ideal to bring our daughters up and plenty of land for Cossack and Skye to roam around.I couldn’t settle in Paris as I knew that it is the first place Jack would come and look for me.I put Oliver through hell,but none of that mattered to him.He had his beautiful sweet pea back in his life,and his two beautiful little girls Esme and Ava.My heart melted at how quickly he bonded with Esme,he vowed that he would raise her as his own.Life was once again perfect in his eyes.In the past I’d put him on a pedastle.We’ve embarked on a journey to get to this point,he no longer held any resentment.The future was all that mattered to him.He proved that he would travel the end of the earth for me.Olly truly loved me after all.
It was 1916,I may be in my bubble with Oliver,but I can’t help thinking at the back of my mind.There is a war going on,I wondered when it would end? All of those lost souls sacrificing their precious lives upon the battlefield.I didn’t want to bring my children up in a war zone,it brought back painful memories of when my life started to go wrong.
It was such a beautiful morning,tempting as it may be to remain in bed but Olly and I are not newly weds.We have a duty to our children,besides I can not waste a second.I opened the doorway which led to the balcony.
I looked out and admired the view,this may not be Verona.But this is my life.
I am the tragic heroine Juliet Capulet,I am the strong and fair Lady Gisele Rickman.The started to set,I sighed.
‘When did you disappear?’
I looked at Olvier,he kissed me.
‘I always like to watch the sunset, it’s so beautiful.The start of a new dawn.’
‘You are happy aren’t you?’
‘For the first time in my life,I am no loner living in fear of my shadow,I have escaped the dark and dreary London.’
‘Don’t you miss the lifestyle,the lavish balls and dinners?’
‘That is a thing of the past,I have everything I need in my life right now.’
‘Now that’s what I want to hear,let’s take a romantic stroll.’
Oliver swept me up in his strong arms.
‘Tempting as it may be,but aren’t you forgetting the children?’
‘I’m sure Louisa could take care of them.’
The very thought never occurred to me,Louisa was living with us.Oliver couldn’t bare the thought of leaving his precious little sister behind,I thought thayt it was sweet of him,he thought ever so highly of her.Louisa had no immediate family left.I know it’s not ideal for our married life,but she has her own life.I couldn’t be the soul reason for her being left behind.Besides I was the soul cause of them losing contact again,if I was in her shoes I would feel frightened and hate to be isolated in Serenity Estate.
After all I’ve been there,feels like another life now.That’s the main reason I strayed from Oliver With Sir Holmes in the first place.A part of me wondered if he ever found somebody because he deserved happiness.I know in my heart of hearts I shouldn’t be thinking of another man,after all the trouble I’ve caused my family in the past.
But Sir Holmes,Declan he was different to Oliver,I had feelings for him,but my love for him didn’t run deep like my love for Oliver.Sir Holmes he was my wild Heathcliff,he brought out the passion and excitement for me.Looking back and reflecting upon it now,it was just lust not love.’
Yes that’s another confession of mine,I secretly like the book Wuthering Heights,by the very talented Emily Bronte but I shall not go into that.I sighed,Declan and I it feels like a different world now.Sir Holmes and I we had the thrill of the chase,the excitement the unbridled passion.I thought I love him.But I was just a child,I knew nothing of love.If only I could go back in time and give my younger self a good talking to I would.
But now I realise that Lord Rickman and I were not perfect far from it,our mistakes I undertand are the making of us.I’m sure that my new life here,will in time,mould me into a perfect wife to Oliver,and Mother to our children.
Louisa greeted us with breakfast upon the table.
‘Aw what a pleasant surprise.’ I smiled.
‘I hope you don’t mind but I thought I would make some breakfast.It was meant to be a surprise.’
‘I’m sorry,we just thought that it was such a beautiful morning,we didn’t want to waste a second.’ I smiled.
‘I have crossiants.’ smiled Louisa. ‘I know how much you adore them?’
‘Louisa,it’s really sweet of you.’
‘I am starting to get used to it here,it’s so perfect.’
‘I knew that you would like it here.’ I smiled.
‘I don’t miss London a jot.’ she laughed.
‘Oh I’m sure Lady Isabelle will be devastated?’ teased Oliver.
‘Oliver.’ I kicked him playfully under the table.
‘It was meant to darling.’ I smiled.
‘It’s true,I don’t miss the balls one bit.’
‘Oh I beg to differ Louisa,the masked balls are quite something in Versailles,say we go there sometimes,ladies together.’
‘I should like that.’
‘Maybe Gisele,could find you a gentleman.’
‘Do I detect Lord Oliver is trying to take over my Mama’s role?’
‘I am greatful for you giving me the chance of a new life,but I do feel that I am imposing on you?’
‘No don’t you ever think that.’ I reassured Louisa. ‘I quite like the idea of having another female companian around.’
I wasn’t pretending I truly meant that from the bottom of my life.All of my life I was so used to being surrounded by my sisters,but the Delessop dynasty is expanding I had to leave and start my new life with my two children and Oliver.
I’m so glad that Louisa and I were on good terms again,we had put the horrid business of Sir Holmes behind us and we were friends once again.She has played a significant role in my life since I left London,I do miss Sophia so but I do write to her daily.
I feel that Louisa and I are closer than ever than when we were in London,I do think that Marseilles suits us both.I wish Oliver wouldn’t tease her and insist that she has to marry.I do wish that she would find her special someone,but she needs to find her special someone in her own time.Sometimes I envied her,the thought of encountering a handsome stranger across a surrounded masked ball in Versailles,the thrill of the chase.Those stolen kisses in the corner when Juliet first encountered Romeo,not knowing where things led.Oh come on Gisele snap out of it,you have your life you should be happy.But sometimes I wish that I didn’t have my whole life mapped out for me.
Ever since Oliver and I started out our life in France,he’s a transformed man.He’s longing to have a son of his own.I on the other hand,there’s nothing that I wouldn’t like in my whole life to give my Oliver that wish.But I just need to discover myself again,ever since Jack stabbed me,I feel as if I have been searching for my lost identity,I try so hard to find it,but I just can’t.
‘Sorry Louisa you said something?’
‘Are you ok sweet pea?’
‘Yes Olly,I’m fine.I was just thinking.’
‘Lost in a world of your own,was it nice were you went to?’ asked Louisa.
‘Never mind.’ she laughed. ‘It would be nice to find a gentleman of my own.But there is no one that catches my eye here,not really.No one like Carl that is.’
‘Carl?’ I scoffed. ‘My Carl?’ I scoffed.
‘Yes when Oliver and I had our disagreement we struck up a fondness for one another but it came to nothing.’
‘I just can’t picture you two together?’
And what is so wrong with that?’ smiled Louisa.
‘Nothing,it’s just that Carl Casey has issues.
‘Yes he’s still in love with you,it’s ok Gisele you don’t have to pretend to me.’
‘Oh my beautiful sweet Louisa,you are beautiful.You are going to find someone that truly deserves your heart.’
‘Thank you Gisele.’
‘I mean it,I know we haven’t discussed this before but Oliver he told me of your past.What almost happend to you,marrying that frightful man.’
‘You told her?’
‘We didn’t have secrets.’
‘It was all such a long time ago Louisa,Oliver and I we only want what’s best for you,we love you.’
‘I know and I’m sorry Gisele.I didn’t mean to.’
I felt awful I felt like I betrayed her by revealing her deepest secret and as for dashing Louisa’s dreams of happiness,I didn’t intend to. Louisa is a dark horse,I had no idea that she had those type of feelings for Carl.After all I had no right to be aware of this,I had broke her trust. I know that I am right,he broke my Holly’s heart and I can’t bare to go through that again.I don’t think she would ever recover from a tryst with Sir Casey.Lady Rickman may appear to be all strong and vibrant,but underneath it all she is such a fragile soul.Sometimes I wish Oliver wouldn’t suffocate her as if she was Nightingale struggling for breath.I composed myself.
‘Oliver and I wondered if you would look after the children…’
‘What Gisele was trying to say is that it’s been a feel since we spent some time alone together.’
‘Say no more,It’s fine.’
Oliver and I went for a stroll in the chateu grounds,we walked through our vine yard that Oliver had bought for me.Yes I know it’s hardly a romantic gift to bestow on your beloved but it was the thought that count.Reunited with my true love I no longer need the hearts and empty gestures that I once craved for.
‘I can not believe Louisa had feelings for Carl?’
‘Neither can I and I am her brother,I thought that we were close?’
‘There are some intimate things a lady should conseal from her brother.’
‘I have no idea,I don’t have a brother.’ I laughed.
‘I detect that sometimes Louisa feels she’s imposing?’
‘She isn’t,she’s a joy to be around.I think that Louisa is feeling lonely,longing to share with someone what you and I have together.’
We briefly stopped for a moment.
‘Who’d have thought we would be taking romantic strolls in the morning? We could never do this in London?’
‘No you’re right,we’d be choked by the smoked.’I giggled.
‘London wasn’t all that bad?’ asked Oliver.
‘In my heart of hearts,I don’t think I really settled in London.I yearned to be back home,I never forgave Mama for taking me away from this beautiful country.
‘Do you regret moving there?’
‘Not all of it,I mean if Mama and Papa didn’t move to London,then our paths would never have crossed.’
‘You’d be married to a handsome french Aristocrat called Claud?’
‘Claud?’ I scoffed.’ Come on Oliver,give me some credit,Mama would never have allowed me to marry a gentleman with a name like Claud.’
‘I am so lucky to have met you you Gisele,I feel complete when I’m with you.’
I kissed him. ‘Keep talking,I smiled.’
‘I keep saying this but I was a lost soul before I met you.’
‘I’m sure you would have survived without your Parisian wife,I mean all of the grief I’ve caused you.’
‘You and I were meant to be together,we have our past but there’s no denying one look in your eyes,the sparks fly around the room.With you I come back to life.’
‘I can not deny,being here with you,I feel that my life has finally begun at last,but I still can’t believe you chose me Oliver? You answered so many questions that were running through my head that fateful night of my ball,you acknowleding my existance?’
‘How could I not acknowledge a fine filly like you.’
‘A filly now am I?’ I laughed. ‘
‘Your beautiful that’s why.’
‘Letitia is beauty,I’m just a tortured soul,your wife is not who she once was.I live in fear,oh the chills that run down by spine night after night.I live in fear that one day Jack will track us down and finish off the terror of what he started in London.It’s like Matthew’s vengeful campaign all over again.It nearly cost me losing you….Please don’t fill my head with promises that you will make it all disappear in an instant.Because I don’t think I could go losing you again.It’s not just us to consider,we have our children.Oh I can’t bare the thought of it,it would break there little hearts if they lost there daddy again.’
‘Oh be quiet and kiss me Lady Rickman.’
‘I’m being deadly serious Oliver.This your wife standing in front of you,this is your future.I’m going to give you the opportunity to kiss me one last time and walk away,close the door on your sorry life,live again.How could you possibly be happy whilst I’m being like this? There is a question mark hanging over us,move back to London.Forget that I ever existed,start again.’
‘Gisele Rickman,how could you possibly suggest that?’
‘It’s how I feel Oliver,your free to go.’
‘I don’t take my vows too hasty you know.’
‘I’m a sick woman Oliver,you should….’
‘With every breath of my body,I am not going to do this.I’m not letting you go so easily this time.You’re not a sick woman,my darling,you suffered a terrifying ordeal.As your husband I am not going to turn my back on you.’
‘As your husband I am going to help you rediscover the Gisele that I once fell in love with.’
‘She’s gone Oliver,she’s so lost.’
‘You’re beautiful Gisele,I know we can’t transform everything in one day.But we have our whole life time,I’ve got to be with you.Answer me truthfully,what can I do?’
‘Every day I look in the mirror and I think is that really me? All I see is a lost girl,willing to reach the surface again.Oh Oliver,I’m down on my knees there’s no going back.It’s too late to save me.’
‘No it’s never to late.’
‘Promise me this then,please take the darkness away from me,promise never to let me go,love me,that’s all I ask of you…..I know that you are longing for a son Oliver.It’s not that I don’t want to give you what you are longing for.It’s just that please give me time to find myself.And when I’m ready to have more children you’ll be the first to know.’
‘Take your time Gisele,for you I can wait forever.’
We walked towards the Chateu,Louisa was there awaiting on our return,I felt sick to the pit of my stomach.
‘Something’s happend to the children?’
‘You don’t know that?’
I ran as if my whole life depended on it,I had images in my head of Louisa finding my baby girls dead,I felt as if a knife had pierced my heart.If anything ever happend to my children.I should die,I don’t think I could possibly go on without them,Ava and Esme mean the world to me.
I finally reached the doorway,of where Louisa was standing,she had turned white as a sheet,my whole life stopped in an instant.She could barely get the words out.
‘I’m so sorry Gis,there was nothing that I could do.It’s Cossack.’
‘Oh my goodness!’
‘Don’t stop me Oliver!’
I ran towards the stables,Louisa and Oliver followed closely behind and that’s where I found Cossack,just laying there helpless.
‘What happend Louisa?’ asked Oliver.
‘I just managed to get the children settled,so I thought that I would slip out and stop by at the stables.I had some left over apple from a pie that I had made,and a bag of oats.I knew something wasn’t right as normally she is so happy to see me,jumping up gleefully.’
She stopped. ‘Carry on.’ I begged her.
”But nothing,So I ran in and I found her looking so helpless.’
‘I’m so sorry Gisele.’
I ran to the stable and found Cossack.I choked back the tears and bent down my faithful companian.
‘Gisele?’ Oliver bent down beside me.
‘I think it’s time.’
Louisa left Oliver and I alone together in the stables,it was such a bitter sweet moment,tears rolling down my cheeks.
‘Darling,I think that I should do this alone,the children need you.’
‘Oh no you don’t.’ insisted Oliver.
‘You’re not pushing me away like that Gisele….’
‘I’d rather you leave me.’
‘There’s been far too many promises broken in the past,I should have been there for you at your father’s funeral,I failed my duties as a husband.I realise now that my failings and my selfishness drove you into the arms of Declan.’
‘Don’t Oliver,you can’t keep apologising for my past errors.’
‘I know how much you dote on Cossack.’
‘She’s gives me spirit and life,how can I go on.’
‘I want to be here for you.I’m not leaving you.’
I knew that this was the time to let her go,say goodbye.But I just couldn’t find the strength to let her go.She has played a significant part in my life.Oh we have been through so much together.Whenever I was feeling low,I would look at her with her beautiful eyes and all of my fears would disappear,who can I cling to now.Cossack looked up at me,she struggled to lift her head even in pain,she had so much love for me.
‘I know girl,I know.’I sobbed.’Olly,I can’t let her go,she was the light of my life.’
As she nuzzled me gently,Oliver grasped hold of my hand so gently.He was right,I did need him now.It was such a sweet and tender moment,I lay down beside her,I refuse to be parted from my beloved,why is it if I love someone,I mean really love someone with my whole heart they all leave me in the end.
‘You have always been there for me,oh my baby.Mammy’s never leaving you.’
I felt her heart beating against my chest,she was trying so hard not to let go.
‘Cossack,I love you.’ I kissed her nose.
With that she slowly gave up her ghost,slipping through my fingers.I wailed uncontrollably,trying to seek comfort from her by stroking into her beautiful mane.
‘I think it’s time to go back Gisele.’
‘I’m not leaving her Oliver,I said I wouldn’t….She’s really gone hasn’t she? My bright shining star has finally gone out.’
Oliver embraced me so tightly.
Cossack,you were the one I had confided my inner thoughts to.When I was being unfaithful to Oliver,I always came to her.
‘You don’t need to apologise Gisele,Cossack played a big part in your life,of course her death is going to have a huge impact on your life.’
‘I always thought that she would be there for me,see my children grow up,they will be devastated.How am I going to tell them?’
‘Hush now my love.’
‘Back then I was young,so self-centred,I am so sorry that I went with Declan he was my heavenly angel,I thought that I loved him.’
‘To love an angel is to sin.’ said Oliver.
‘Don’t make excuses for me Oliver.I took the cowardly way out.Wherever I go I just cause devastation.There were times when we were first married I felt so lonely,I used to sneak into her stables at night and lay next to her,she filled up my life in so many ways.Full of wonder,she looks so peaceful lying there.
Oliver took hold of my hand and we slowly walked towards the Chateu.