Chapter 2

I wrote a letter to my Mama.
Hope you are all well in London? And that Evangaline and Holly arent driving you insane?
I’m so sorry to be the bearer of bad news,sadly the light of our life,our beautiful Cossack this morning.
I know Mama,I know that he time was near,but it was still such a shock to us all.
Oliver was sweetheart,he stayed with me till the very end.
I’ll be ok,but at this moment in time.I feel like a piece of me has been snatched away from me.
Please don’t feel that you need to drop everything and visit us.Like I said previously,I’ll be perfectly fine.I always come out stronger and fighting when I reach the other end.
Us Delessops are strong,stiff upper lip,paint a fake smile on and I shall be fine.
I love you.
Your daughter Gisele.

I looked up,I was in my special place,my library.It was of a grander scale in comparison to the one I left behind in Serenity Estate.For hours I can be lost in a dream world,endless books,skyscraping the ceiling.Ok Oliver is right,it’s not healthy to have my nose constantly stuck inside a book.But this is my happy place,for a few hours I can lose myself in the works of Will Shakspeare.I immerse with sheer wonder,as I jump into the pages and create each scene.Be a fairy and step inside an enchanted forest,Romeo’s beloved,the fair and beautiful Ophelia.My favourite at the minute is The Taming of the Shrew.I picked up the book,and was just about to read it.When I heard a gentle tap on the door.
‘It’s open.’
‘I knew you’d be in here?’
‘Not interrupting anything am I?’
‘I’ll always have time for you,you do know that don’t you?’
Louisa sat down beside me.
‘Oliver has taken the children out for some fresh air,and give you the chance to regroup yourself.’
‘So how are you,and I demand the truth from you Lady Rickman,I don’t want you fobbing me off with a smile.’
‘It’s like losing a child.’
Louisa placed her hand in mine.
‘I love her so much Louisa,I feel so numb.I can’t think straight.She’s there inside my head all of the time,it’s like she’s haunting me.’
‘It’s still early days.’
Louisa looked down at my book that I was clutching against my chest.
‘Reading again?’
‘It’s funny how I might have been compared to the lovely Katarina,the heroine of the piece.It took a while for Oliver to tame me.I’m doing that thing again aren’t I?.I’ll stop talking.’
Louisa laughed ‘Don’t apologise,Oliver’s right you’re so adorable when you get excited about your literacy.You curl your bottom lip,I’m not mocking you.I think it’s sweet.’
‘Louisa,what I said earlier about Carl?’
‘It’s forgotten about.’
‘No,I was out of order.I have no right in influencing your love life.You must think that I’m bit and twisted and hold resentment for stealing my childhood sweetheart? Because you do think that you are so wrong Louisa.I love your brother.Besides you can’t help or control who you fall in love,and believe me.I should know that,since I am an experience in those fields…in these parts,they have a name for a tainted woman like me….like courtesan.Don’t worry they are unaware of my misdoings.I have completely reinvented myself,the Parisian aristocracy,are concealed of the truth.I refuse to see my Olly be humilated in public again.I sincerely apologise for what I did to your brother.’
‘I know,you’re only human,and pardon me for being so bold,but I thought that Sir Holmes was simply delightful.’
‘Declan’s name is never to be mentioned in this house again is that understood?’
Louisa got up.
‘I’m so sorry.’
‘It’s ok.’
‘Must you go?’
‘I must get ready.’
‘Oh? Sounds intriguing?’
She started to play with her hands nervously.
‘I hope you don’t mind,but I have some company coming over for dinner later.’
‘A gentleman friend?’
‘You could say that?’ She smiled.
‘Sister,I pray.Please don’t be angry.Please forgive me for I have deceived you.’
‘I haven’t been completely honest with you.I told myself that I would never stray from the path of all that is good and of honesty.’
‘Oh I’m sure I’ve did worse things? Look at me I’m one to talk.’
‘Carl and I have been corresponding for months,love letters,arranging secret meetings.You’re angry aren’t you?’
No I’m not angry,I’m just disappointed that you couldn’t come and talk to me.’
‘I think I’m falling for him,saying something? I don’t know what to do.’
‘Well who am I to judge? I couldn’t possibly stand in the path of true love.’
‘What about Oliver?’
‘Don’t worry I can handle him.’ I lied.
‘Thank you.’
Louisa kissed me on the cheek,I must go and get ready.
She skipped off happily.
‘Have I missed something?’
‘Don’t do that.’
‘Did I startle you?’
‘Kind of.’
‘I’m sorry sweet pea,I didn’t mean to.’
‘Aw here’s my little lambs,have you missed Mama because I’ve missed you two.’
I gently embraced Esme and Ava,life has certainly past me by.At the quick blink of an eye,my perfect little cherubs have grown into perfect little girls.I can’t believe my beautiful Ava is two already,she is so mischievous! Too curious for her own good,looking more and more like Oliver every day.She inherited her father’s sharp dark features.She was my little Snow White.Whilst Esme still a baby in my eyes,after the ordeal with her father.I thought it was my duty to protect her from the outside world.Despite everything she was a Mama’s girl,beautiful blonde hair,she had certainly inherited the Delessops genes.
‘Mama,Daddy taken us out for a walk.’smiled Ava.
‘Is it so Ava?’ I smiled.
My heart melted whenever she called me Mama,Esme was the quiet silent one.I pray that she come out of her shell,her father Jack was the dark and quiet silent type.
‘I saw a duck.’ laughed Ava.
‘Oh lovely darling.’
‘Skye ran after the ducks,naughty doggy.’
‘So sweet.’I gushed.
Despite all of the turmoil they have endured in their small lives,up rooted from their perfect little family home.At first I resented breaking their little hearts.But now I can see them they are not fazed at all.They seem settled inside their own little perfect parisian world.To them I think everything seems so big,I can remember being like that,Oliver and I be giants in comparison to them.
‘Yes Ava.’
‘Where’s the unicorn?’
Cossack? Oh I had explained to them what had happended to their magical unicorn.I took a deep breath,I can not lie to them.I would never forgive myself.I bent down next to them.
‘You see Cossack,your little unicorn she’s had to go away.’
‘Why Mama?’
‘She had to go away,she ran out of magical powers you see.So she had to fly away,she went away to look after your dear Gran Papa.’
‘The wizard in the sky?’
‘Yes the wizard in the sky.’
‘Will she be with fairy Princess Lucille?’
‘Yes,but my darling don’t ever feel upset.She will always look after you.I promise.’
I kissed my children on the heads.I looked at Oliver.’Was that ok?’
‘That was beautiful.’ He kissed me on the cheek.
‘How are you feeling?’
‘I’m ok.’
‘Gis,I’m not Ava and Esme I can’t be easily bought.’
‘I’m fine my love.’
Oliver raised his eyebrow,I caved in.
‘Ok I surrender.It’s Louisa,she’s been deceiving us.’
‘How so?’
‘She’s been writing to Carl,meeting up for secret rendevous.’
‘It’s so unlike her?’
‘She told me so herself,confessed everything there and then.She poured out of heart and soul.I fear she’s fallen for him.’
‘I hope you tried to put a stop to all of this?’
‘She’s a grown woman with her own thoughts and feelings.How can I….’
‘Oliver,I love you.But this is absurd….What?’
‘You have that look in your eye,your planning something?’
‘She might listen to the voice of reason?’
‘Sometimes,I think do you play dumb deliberately? Maybe you should talk to him in person.He’s coming over to have lunch with Louisa.’
‘I’ll be having more than words with her when I get my hands on her.Whatever possessed her to get involved with that man.I mean after the way he ill treated Holly,I thought better of her.I’ll drag her down here kicking and screaming if I have to and…’
‘Why not?’
She’s not a little child that deserves a scolding…..You can’t do that,she’ll think that I put you up to it.Talk to her,in a civil tone and darling,don’t be hasty ok?’
Oliver slipped out of the room.
Louisa was making herself look presentable for her dinner with Sir Casey.She was looking into the mirror.
‘Who is the fairest one of all?’
She was tenderly combing her hair,hundred strokes a day that is one of her daily rituals.Louisa was just about to select her gown when Oliver stormed into the room like a bat out of hell.
‘Has Gisele never told you,it’s rude to barge into a ladies chamber uninvited? I could have been in a state of undress?’
‘Gisele and I don’t have that problem.’
‘Too much information dear brother of mine.’
‘What are you doing?’
‘Combing my hair,what does it look like silly?’
‘Don’t act all smart with me Lou,I know of your little dalliance with Sir Carl?’
‘Carl and I are not like that,it’s more about love not just about what happens in the bedroom,who told you?’
‘Gis told me,so there’s no point in denying it.’
‘I love him.’
‘You hardly know the man?’
‘I have been writing to him for months,that’s why I have been going to London…..You have been distracted lately to notice me slip out?’
‘That’s not true!’
‘I see you and Gisele and your perfect little family and my heart aches.’
‘Gisele and I had to fight to get to point of how we are now.’
‘I yearn for a piece of that.’
‘You will.’
‘In time,when you find the right person.’
‘I know my own heart Oliver.I’m no longer a child anymore! I don’t need you holding my hand.’
‘Do you think I enjoy doing that? Because believe me I don’t,in case you haven’t forgotten mother and father are dead!’
‘How could I possibly erase that memory from my life Oliver!
‘I vowed that I would always take care of you Louisa.’
‘I’m not a child anymore Oliver! How many more times?’
‘But you are behaving like one! Oh for once in your life will you just listen to yourself….I forbid it.’
‘Who are you to tell me who I can and can’t see? You don’t own me!’
‘Louisa,you’re a bright and beautiful woman.You are the envy of all the ladies in Marseilles.’
‘I’m not as beautiful as Gisele,she’s just a perfect little creature.I have envied her for so long and for once I have found a little glimpse of happiness and you are trying to steal that away from me.I will not let you do this to me Oliver!’
Louisa ran out of her bedroom upset.

I wonder how Louisa and Oliver little heart to heart going? I hope that there won’t be any blood spilt on the floor,Louisa and Oliver may act the doting brother and sister,but if they have a disagreement,I have to step in and try and act as the peace maker.They are as bad as each other. I hope Oliver hasn’t jumped in at the deep end with both feet? I love him but sometimes he can be so stubborn,his word is final no reasoning with him when he’s like that.I sighed,I’m going to write to Sophia,see if she has noticed anything significant between them? After all Louisa has been disappearing to London for weeks on end,maybe it is as I feared? Ava and Esme were playing together on the floor.

I write to you as I urgently seek your help.
It’s Louisa,I have learnt of the revelation that she has fallen in love with Carl.
They have been writing to one another,exchanging letters.
How could I be so blind? She has been disappearing to London for months.
At first I thought that she was home sick? She has been so withdrawn lately,now I know the reason behind it.
Have you noticed them together,or has there been any talk of this this in society?
I know I should be happy for Louisa,but I care deeply for her.I don’t want her to dabble in such a horrid business.
Yes Carl and I did have a thing,but I am terrified of history repeating itself.
Carl was once a sweet gentle and kind man,who’d never hurt a fly.But his sweet kind nature has suddenly transformed into an extremely dark and unforgiving man.
I simply can not trust him,not after humiliating my Holly.
If you do hear of anything? You will inform me straight away?
Marseilles is so beautiful,I’m finally settled here,after our upheaval from Paris.
I wish you could see for yourself how happy I am.
I miss you

A little while later,I discovered Louisa crying on the stairs,she looked so beautiful,her hair in perfect curls.She was wearing a beautiful turquoise dress and matching earrings.What’s happend? She was so happy when I had last spoken to her? I sat down next to her.
‘It’s Carl….he’s not coming.’
‘I’m so sorry.’
‘Perhaps it’s for the best?’
‘How so?’
‘Oliver and I,we had words,he was so beastly to me Gisele,he said that he forbids me to see Carl.What am I to do?’
‘He’s your brother,he’s only trying to protect you.’
‘I wish he would let me breathe,I know he has stood by me since my parents died,he means well.But he is suffocating me.’
‘Oliver is a deep person,that’s his way of saying that he loves you.’
‘He’s always had a way with words.’
‘Tell me about it.’ She wiped away her tears.
‘I can not understand,why he has let you down like this?’
‘I’m fine.’
‘No it’s not Louisa,despite what I truly think of Carl,it’s not like him to leave a beautiful lady stranded like this? You look so beautiful tonight and I refuse to let it go to waste.’
‘You’ve lost me?’
‘Darling,I’m taking you to Versailles.’
‘Don’t be absurd.’
‘I’ve always talked about taking you.’
‘You can not possibly drop everything for me,at a moments notice.What about Esme and Ava? Really don’t worry about me.I’ve just been a stupid little girl.I’ll pick myself up,dust myself off,and get changed.And forget that this sorry affair ever happend.’
‘Louisa Grace Rickman,don’t you dare walk away from me.For once in my life,I’m being assertive and taking a stand!’
‘But Cossack?’
‘Darling,It’s been a week…I’ll never forget about her.She gave me so much life,she will always remain in here.’
I touched where my heart is.
‘I could sit around here,and wallow and self pity,but the here and now is all that matters to me.We are going and that is final.’
‘What about Oliver and the children?’
‘There coming with us of course.What? You couldn’t possibly think that Oliver will let me attend a masked ball on my own?’

We were soon in Versailles,I have mixed feelings about being here,the last time I visited here,I was with Declan,none of that mattered.That memory is to remain dead and buried.The memory that haunts me the most is I had just escaped the clutches of Duke Matthew.I was seventeen,alone in the world.Afraid to return home to face the wrath of everyone.I went into hiding here,I didn’t have a penny to my name,I honestly don’t know how I survived back then.
Standing in the streets of Versailles,it was a different story.I stood there arm in arm,blissfully in love with my beloved Oliver and accompanied by Louisa and my beautiful children.I stood there,we could see the building such beautiful architechture.I could admire it forever and if I was here with Reinette and Tom we could do just that.But I was with Oliver,and I detected that he didn’t want to stand here all day.
‘So what do you think?’
‘Now I can understand why you’re so in love with the place,it’s beautiful’ Sighed Louisa.
‘Isn’t it just?’ smiled Oliver.
‘It’s just like time has stood still,it hasn’t changed a single bit.’
‘Whatever is it?’
‘There are times like this that I do wish my sister’s were here,I miss them so.’
‘That’s settled after our trip to Versailles we can take a brief trip to London.’
‘It’s so thoughtful of you.’
‘I know you try and act like everything’s ok,but deep down you miss them?’
‘I miss them more than you can imagination,it’ll be nice to see them again.’
‘Thank you.’

It was soon night time in beautiful Versailles,we had been kindly invited to a masquerade ball,by a very charming gentleman,a Lord Benjamin Henry,he had taken quite a shine to the fair Lady Louisa earlier.It was held in a place called Lotus Sacre Estate,in english translates to Lotus flower.I had opted for a beautiful golden satin coloured gown,my hair was in a twisted plait,I wore a gold fascinator,and a beautiful crystal necklace,I was dying to get out of this corset as it was digging into my ribs.I resisted telling Oliver this information as I know what he would say,spare me the innuendos in front of the children,
We walked into the ballroom it simply took my breath away,marble ceiling.A stunning glass chandalier,it was like being inside my very own fairytale.Ladies and gentlemen were floating along the dance floor dressed in fine attire,and armed with masks of all colours.It just looked like a scene from the palace of Versailles.How I long to visit that place,but I’m not important enough,I imagine Lady Isabella has wangled herself an invite,I was clutching my mask for dear life.
‘I’m scared it shall break.’
Louisa was deep in conversation with Lord Benjamin.
‘May I say you look quite the pretty flower? smiled Lord Benjamin.’Sweet Madamoiselle.’
‘Merci,Monsciour Henry,is far too kind.’
‘Please do call me Benjamin.’
‘Ok if you insist Benjamin.’
‘Close circles I am referred to as Ben?’
‘I think we will stick to Benjamin,my lord.We don’t want to get too far of ourselves do we?’
I looked on fondly. ‘See Oliver,she is forgetting about Carl already?’
‘He seems delightful,I suppose.’
‘Oliver,when are you going to let Louisa go?’
‘I’m sorry.It’s a habit of mine.’
‘She’s a beautiful woman,admired from afar,please allow her to have some fun…..What you think she is ready to settle down and get married? My darling you have so much to learn about your beloved sister.’
‘Do you envy her?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘She has the pick of the finest gentlemen from France and afar,and you’re stuck her with little old me.’
‘Enough of the old,I’m sure there’s life in you yet,and what we spoke about earlier? I’m ready to give you a son.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘I have learnt that life is too short.Yes I’m ready.’
‘You won’t regret it.’
‘I should hope not.’ I laughed.
Lord Benjamin had whisked Louisa on to the dance floor,I have no idea why she used to hide behind the piano at the balls in London,she floats on the air.’
‘She looks like a princess Mama.’
‘Yes she does Ava.’
Lord Benjamin looked into Louisa’s eyes,he held her close in his arms.
‘Not too close.’
‘I mean we hardly know one another.’ she smiled.
Louisa looked a little distracted.
‘Is there something wrong?’
‘Oh I think I have recognised an old friend.’
The music stopped.
‘Please forgive me.’
‘One more dance?’
‘I won’t be long.I promise.’
Louisa slowly approached the figure,he took hold of her arm.
‘What are you doing here?’
‘Oh don’t be mad at me Louisa.’
‘I’m not mad at you,it’s just that if Oliver and Gisele see you.’
‘Hush now Louisa.’
‘I’m so sorry for calling our dinner off.’
‘It was for the best.’
‘I do hate all of this deceit,it is killing me.’
‘I just want you all to myself.’
‘Oh now that is what I have been longing to hear all day?’
‘Keep talking.’
The stranger brushed away Louisa’s hair from her face.’You look so beautiful.’

I wonder where Louisa has got to,she was no longer with Lord Benjamin.I tried to go off and look for when Lord Oliver,whisked me into his arms.
‘Oh no you don’t?’
‘Oliver I….’
‘I’m not letting you go first without having one dance first.’
‘I promise not to run out on you this time.’ I laughed.

‘How did you find me here?
‘In your letters,you’ve constantly spoke about visiting the courts of Versaille and of attending a masquerade ball.I heard of a Lord Benjamin hosting a ball,and here I am….I saw you and Benjamin alone together.’
‘Have you been watching me?’
‘Forgive me my love….It’s just that I have missed you so much.’
‘Oh my poor darling.I think I have missed you too.’

Oliver still danced like I remembered,full of grace.He looked so dashing in his suit tonight,I tried to keep up with him gliding along the floor.
‘I’m sorry darling,my dancing is not like it used to be.’
He looked deeply into my eyes,is this what I truly wanted to bare a son,but Oliver had his hopes set upon the idea.If I refused if would dash his dreams and fill his head with doubt again.
‘Once we leave here,we can go to London immediately.’
‘Sounds like your eager to leave this place?’
‘Not at all.’
‘I wonder what antics Evangaline and Holly have got up,oh I can’t wait to see Mama’s face when we turn up unannounced.’ I smiled.’I’ve missed Sophia,I hope she will enlighten me on the whole Louisa and Carl business?’
‘I wish you would forget about him Gisele.’
‘I thought that you said?’
‘I know my love,but you were so right.I think it’s about time I let her spread her wings and fly.’
‘Is that your way of admitting that I was right?’
‘She reminds me of a nightingale just longing to be elsewhere?’
‘Now you’re comparing your sister to a bird?’
‘It’s true,I’m surprised she is still living with us.’
‘You never know Lord Benjamin,might take our fair Louisa off our hands.’ I laughed.
‘Now you’re beginning to sound like Lady Antoinette.’
‘Oh forgive me.I swore that would never happen.
The music came to a close.
‘I’m going to go and find Louisa,I like like I’ve abandoned her.’
‘Don’t be too long.’

Louisa tried to walk away from the figure.
‘Don’t leave not yet.’
‘I promised Lord Benjamin.’
‘You are telling me that you’re choosing him over me,the so called love of your life?’
‘I do love you.’
‘Well then,stay.Forget about him.’
Louisa started to kiss the stranger.
I looked everywhere for Louisa,I couldn’t find her.I noticed Lord Benjamin standing there alone.
‘I beg your pardon,but have you seen Lady Louisa?’
‘She disappeared about five minutes ago.’
‘Did you see which direction she went in?’
‘I’m sorry I can not help you.’
I ran off my heart pounding so fast,oh she’s got herself into a predicament.Left with a stranger in the middle of the night,she knows how I feel about her talking to strangers.I know that she is a grown woman,but Parisian men have one thing on their mind and that’s the desire of getting their way with vulnerable women.I turned the corner and noticed Louisa was in an embrace with a gentleman.I smiled,ok I shall not disturb her,it looks pretty harmless.I tried to walk away but I disturbed them.They parted from each other and there standing in front of me was the face from my past that I prayed that I would never see again.’


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