We were finally back to reality in my beloved Marsailles,in the comfort of my own home.I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed this place.I was right maybe I had grown out of London town,I felt overwhelmed of returning here.Visions of returning home alone,after what had taken place in Lady Isabelle’s house between Lord Henry and I,if walls could talk they would have such a story to tell.I looked at Oliver,how I admire him,he swallowed his pride and dignity and taken me back.I have had so many second chances.I can not afford to mess up again.I fear London brings out the badness within me.’
I looked at Oliver,he touched my arm.
‘It’s ever so good to be back isn’t it?’
‘Yes,I didn’t realise how much I miss this place…I think I left my heart and soul in France.I behaved purely like a stranger like a stranger to you whilst in London.I’m so sorry,I know I keep saying it a thousand times.I am eternally sorry,I gave myself,my love away freely to someone who wasn’t my husband.I can’t live with…or without you.’
Louisa walked into the room.
‘I’m going for a lie down.’ I smiled politely.
‘Was it something I said?’ asked Louisa.
‘I think the journey’s taken it’s toll on her.’ smiled Oliver.
I locked myself away in my bedroom,and slumped myself down upon the bed,the tears just wouldn’t stop flowing.I felt as though I was going to flood my bedchamber,with my tears like Alice in Wonderland,that’s Ava’s favourite story at the minute.She is convinced that she can see a magical white rabbit armed with a pocket watch in our grounds.Oh how I love her,so childlike and full of innocence.I wish she didn’t have to grow up.This is a day when I wish I could escape all of my troubles and fall down a rabbit hole.
How did I even go there,if I could go back in time and repeat my actions,I wouldn’t.Why didn’t I just let him pass me by a stolen look,I could forgive myself,as it’s not acting upon it,temptation is such a powerful thing.
Oh Lord,if Louisa ever found out about Lord Henry and I,then that will be it,the end of our friendship.I couldn’t even escape in my world of literacy.I just couldn’t shut out the look of disappointment that was written across Oliver’s.I just want to run and hide,but I can’t even do that,Cossack’s dead.I’m a prisoner inside my own sanctuary.I slowly walked doing the stairs,I heard whispers I know that I shouldn’t be eavesdropping but I just couldn’t help wondering what was said behind closed doors.
‘Don’t you think Gisele looks tired?’ asked Louisa.
‘Well you wouldn’t be if you have children?’
‘It’s not that she’s looking rather pale?’
‘She’s probably feeling tired,what will all the travelling?’
‘Lord Benjamin Henry has invited me to Versailles for a few days.’
‘You’ve only just got home?’
‘Maybe he couldn’t bare to stay away from me for a moment longer.’
‘I didn’t think you were keen on him?’
‘A girl can change her mind can’t she?’
‘That’s what I’m afraid of.’
‘You perfectly know what I’m talking about,your intentions towards Lord Henry are they genuine…what I’m trying to say is you’re not taking advantage of the good nature of him…as you’re way of making Earl Holmes jealous?’
‘Oliver,all women are not like you’re wife you know.She’s the one who enjoys toying with species of the opposite sexes emotions? She’s a cat with nine lives and I’m quite sure she’s up to her last life.’
‘I thought you and Gisele had worked things out?’
‘We have,I just don’t trust her.Didn’t the army teach you nothing at all? Keep your enemies close to you at all times?’
With that she walked away,I entered the room.
‘How are you feeling?’
‘Much better thank you.’
‘Good,because I’ve got to go out for a bit.’
‘Business to attend to.’
Lord Oliver walked away.
‘Wait.Aren’t you forgetting something?’
Oliver looked at me vacantly.
‘My goodbye kiss?’
Oliver kissed me. ‘I won’t be long.’
I decided that I would take Ava and Esme in the grounds,I refused to have them cooped up any longer.It’s such a beautiful day.Ava and Esme were running around with not a care in the world,Esme was trying to help Ava catch the mysterious white rabbit.I looked on,as I casually drank my cup of tea.Ava ran over to me.
‘What is it darling?’
‘It’s the rabbit.’
‘I’ll show you.’
Ava grabbed hold of my hand.
‘Come on Mama!’
I was so tired,but I had to make the most of every precious moment of time at this age.I mean when their older,they might not want to spend time with their Mama.Ava indicated that we had to take small fairy steps,so not to frighten the rabbit,we explored the grounds,the garden was full of colours and life at this time of year,so beautiful.Esme squealed.
‘You’ve scared the bunny rabbit away now Eszy!’
‘Come on let’s chase the rabbit,I think it’s hiding under the trees.’
We ran through the grounds,I stumbled over a branch.
‘Mama,you’ve got mud on your dress.’ she laughed.
‘It doesn’t matter darling.’ I smiled.
‘I laid on the grass,I refused to get up.Esme and Ava jumped on top of me.We rolled around on the grass.Skye lickd me on the cheek.Normally Oliver is like the rough and tumble play father,whilst I normally refuse to join in,as I’m afraid my gown would get ruined,or a hair would fall out of place.Today it didn’t matter,after almost having my future snatched away,you have only one life.I should be living for the moment.
I wish I could take a snap shot of this scene,they looked so happy not a care in the world.There has been so much darkness lately.This was a happy occasion,mother and her two daughters spending an intimate moment together no matter what happens you can never break that unconditional bond.
‘I love you Mammy.’ said Esme.
My eyes filled up. ‘I love you too Es,I love both of you.Don’t you ever forget that.’
‘You won’t leave us will you?’ asked Ava. ‘Because Gran Papa and Aunt Luc did?’
‘I will never leave you,I promise you.’ I kissed their foreheads.
I wish Oliver was there to witness this,my whole imagination was running wild.Did he really have business to attend to? Or was it his subtle way of saying he could no longer love me.
A little while later,I was standing by the gate admiring the view when I felt a kiss at the back of my neck.
‘You came back?’
‘Of course I came back? Whatever gave you that impression?’
‘When you said you said you had business to attend to,I was worried that you suddenly figured out that you no longer wanted to be with me anymore?’
‘Like I said I had some business to attend to,close your eyes.’
‘I’m not falling for that old trick.’
‘I have a surprise for you.’
‘Why can’t you just tell me Olly? Like any normal person would?’
‘Where’s the fun in that?’
‘Fine,have it your way.’
‘He led me to the bottom part of the grounds.’
‘Step over there.’
‘Ok.Where are you taking me?’
‘All in good time my angel.’
He took hold of my hand. ‘No peeking.’
‘Now you can open your eyes.’
Standing there was a beautiful black pony,all gangly looking,it was standing next to a stunning black horse,it had a star encrusted on it’s forehead.
‘I’m staring at a horse?’
‘Correction Lady Rickman,your horse.’
‘Are you being serious?’
‘Can you see me laughing?’
‘I don’t understand it’s not even my birthday,I mean I should be the one spoiling you…it’s your birthday soon.’
‘None of that matters.’
‘How can we possibly afford it?’
‘You can’t put a price on love,they both belonged to a friend of Tom’s.’
‘Good ole Tom.’
‘We struck a deal whilst we were visiting Lady Isabelles,he lives nearby.’
‘Are you serious?’
‘What it’s not all about brandies and cigars you know….besides I don’t smoke.’
I was overcome with emotion.
‘It’s sorry,it’s just that I saw mother together with her foal,and I instantly fell in love.I couldn’t possibly seperate mother and baby….and I know that you’ve always wanted to teach Ava and Esme how to ride?’
I smiled,I led him upstairs,I started to kiss him.
‘This my lord,is my way of saying thank you.’
‘You don’t have to prove your love to me?’
‘I want to.’
A while later.
‘Now because I have a horse,I don’t want you getting any ideas of having a passionate embrace in the stables,because quite frankly I’m not that type of girl.’
‘I heard that.’
‘So do you like your present?’
‘I love it.’
‘You’re not saying that? I know I put you in an awkward position….I should have consulted you first.’
‘It’s not that,it’s such a lovely thought.I don’t deserve you.’
‘Thought of any names for her?’
‘How about Quinn?’
‘Quinn,I think she’ll suit that name.’
‘I can’t wait to see the girls faces when we show them their own little unicorn,you should have seen them Olly,Esme said that she loved me for the first time.My whole heart melted,it was such a wonderful heart warming feeling.I got butterflies in my tummy.’
‘Of course she loves you,your her Mama.’
‘I never thought those four little words could be so powerful,you know what she’s like Oliver? A quiet little dormouse,Ava’s imagination,brings out the best in her.I don’t think she’s even saw her mammy with a mucky dress and her hair out of place.I’m always trying to look perfect.’
‘You need to stop worrying about what other people think of you,sometimes you need to let your hair down once in a while.’
‘Stop being a lady twenty four hours a day and act like a mother and wife,I know.I’m trying.’
‘I would have liked to have seen you get down and dirty.’ he teased.
‘Why do you have to turn everything into….’I stopped in my tracks. ‘Never mind…Now as much as I’d like to lay here in your arms all day,we have a house to run.’
‘We really should get some maidservants in?’
‘And have them poking into our lives,no.I like it with just us,maid servants invade ones privacy.’
‘You’ve never said?’
‘Oh,I detested it at home,and Serenity house,I felt that they were spying on us and reporting back to Lady Isabelle.Darling do you sometimes wish you’d marry Lady Chadwick?’
‘No Lady Isabelle,yes Rosaline.’
‘No,no of course not.Whatever gave you that impression?’
‘Well I’ve hardly been ideal wife material?’
‘You’ve kept me firmly on my toes,I’ll give you that…Darling Rosaline is a horrendous creature,frightfully dull.I once had the displeasure of taking her to dinner…that was before you and I had first met.I was invited one day to dinner at the estate,and it was just the two of us,her communication skills are extremely poor,it was like getting blood from a stone.’
‘Do you ever regret saying I do?’
‘Not in the slightest,I mean I would never have met Ava.’
‘With Declan,Benjamin…I was playing the tart,I kissed their lips and broke your heart…I heard you and Louisa talking earlier,she still hates me doesn’t she?’
‘Come on Oliver,I’m a big girl now.’
‘She said she can’t trust you.’
‘Well she’s right…I can’t be trusted,I shall have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.Oh if she ever got an inkling of Benjamin and I together,then I fear it will break our bond of trust,and push her further over the edge.As far as she’s concerned I’m the fly in the ointment.Oliver you must promise me that she will never know of the events that took place in Whistleberry Estate.Is it ok if I take Quinn for a ride? It’s just it’s been a while since I’ve been on a horse,and I’m scared I might have lost my touch.’
‘You’re a natural rider.Of course it would be nice to see you out and about again.’
‘Oliver,if Quinn is to make up for the past of missing out on my birthdays,then it doesn’t matter.You’re here now,that’s all that matters.
I walked back into the grounds and saw my beautiful Quinn standing there waiting for me,she looked small in comparison to Cossack,but such a beautiful creature.How I’ve missed roaming around like a wild horse,and smell of fresh air,the wind flowing through my hair.I was dressed in my riding gear.Quite the lady,I was nervous at first.I do hope she likes me,those first moments are very important.Cossack and I had formed a strong bond from day one.What if we don’t get along? At first she was a little spooked,she started to rear up.Ok keep calm Gisele,calm and soothing words should do it.’Shh easy girl,It’s ok.I’m not going to hurt you.’
She nervously approached me,I gently touched her nose. ‘I’m sure we’re going to be good friends?’ I smiled.
I slowly climbed on to her,I was scared that I was going to fall or she was going buck up and throw me off.I mean what would Esme and Ava do without there Mama in their lives? There becoming more aware of things.I mustn’t think of those things.I must not appear to be afraid,horses can sense fear.I took a deep breathe and startedtp ride slowly.As I grew confident I rode faster and faster,getting a canter on.Maybe I needed this,time alone to recapture my forgotten youth,and find the inner me again.Within an instant,all of my fears there and then,no looking back.But a part of me thought of the little faces of Esme and Ava and how they would feel,when they discovered that their Mama had gone forever.No running away,that’s taking the cowards way out.I am going to face my fear head on,life’s too short to be afraid.I am determined to get my life back on track.
I said my goodbyes to Quinn,and walked back towards the chateu.Still wearing my riding clothes,I was just about to go and get changed when I heard a voice.
‘I like the new look?…’
I turned around it was Lord Benjamin.
‘I thought you were in Versailles with Louisa for the weekend?’
‘Change of plan,yes it really suits you.’
‘Have you been spying on me?’
‘Honestly Gisele,you really suit those riding boots….how much I long for you to be my mistress…’
‘Stop right there Benjamin,I don’t like the way you’re talking to me.’
‘I like you,you like me?’
‘Get over yourself.What are you doing here?’
‘Like I said change of plan,Louisa invited me around.I thought that it would be silly to turn down her invite…seeing you standing there,it was worth it.’
‘If you’re with Louisa just to make me jealous? Then I’m sorry to burst your little bubble…But Oliver and I are happy,and I intend to keep it that way.’
I saw Louisa standing on the stairway,she looked pretty as a picture,wearing a green day dress,her hair was in a side plait.She went to greet Lord Benjamin.
‘Hello my lord.’ He kissed her on the cheek.
‘Louisa,looking enchanting as always.’
I cleared my throat. ‘Now if you excuse me? I would like to see my children.’
I walked into the nursery room,I found them playing together with their father.Ava looked up.
‘Mama.’ she ran over to me.
‘How was the ride?’
‘Oh Olly,it was wonderful.I don’t know what I was afraid of,Quinn is such a dream.’
I bent down next to them. ‘Ava,Esme,your Daddy and I have a little surprise for you.’
‘The white rabbits back? asked Ava.
‘No,it’s not the magical white bunny.Darling,you know you miss your magical unicorn…well daddy and I made a wish and the fairies visited our garden when you weren’t looking and brought you you’re very own baby unicorn.Now go on,go see for yourself.’
Esme and Ava ran down the stairs.
‘Careful girls,you might fall.’
It was such a wonderful sight,seeing Ava and Esme’s little faces light up when they found their very own magical unicorn in the garden.They started to stroke it’s hair.
‘Pinch me am I dreaming?’ I smiled.
‘Look Esme,we can comb her hair,and give her cups of tea if we want.Hello Misty.’
I looked at Oliver. ‘Quite an interesting name?’
‘Quite interesting children? There a credit to you Gisele.’
He looked at me.
‘What are you thinking?’
‘It’s just that….Esme’s talking now,and I fear that there will come a day,that she will question who her father is? But I will never let that happen,your her father.’
‘You can not seriously believe Jack will stand for not seeing his daughter?’
‘That’s always at the back of my mind,Jack snatching my little girl from my arms.I refuse to let it happen.I would sacrifice to ensure that my children were safe.’
‘And I will protect you no matter what.I will not allow him to harm a hair on your head again,if we have to travel to the ends of the earth.Then so be it,I will do anything for you.You do know that don’t you?’
I decided that I would changing out of my riding uniform and make more of an effort,I walked downstairs and to my disgust I discovered that Louisa had invited Benjamin to stay on for dinner.
‘More caviar,sweet pea?’
‘No thank you.’
‘So unlike you?’
‘I’m fine darling.’ I smiled.
‘I hear Lord Rickman has bought you a horse?’
‘A man of grand gestures is he not?’
‘It was sweet of him to do that.’
‘Do you not find it trying to do all of the cooking…I mean no maid servants,or staff.It’s a tad absurd?’
‘I said that too Benjamin.’ Smirked Louisa.
‘As a matter of fact Lord Henry,Oliver and I like it,and intend to keep it that way for the nearby future.’
‘Your wife is such a strange creature is she not?’
I couldn’t remain eye contact with him,I got up from my seat.
‘Is something the matter sweet pea?’
‘I’m not feeling too well,I’m going for a lie down.’
I walked into the hall way,I clutched on to the walls,Benjamin found me there.
‘You think that these remarks you’re making will make you fall back into your arms again,then you’re unforgiven.’
‘I never give up Gisele.
He walked over to me,and kissed me.I briefly kissed him back,he pushed me against the wall.I realised what I was doing.I pulled away and slapped him across the face.’
‘No,I’m sorry but you can’t call the shots Benjamin.Don’t you touch me again,If you do I will make sure that my husband hunts you down and kill you.You may think I will be an easy target,but I’m a married woman and I intend to keep it that way.’
‘So you keep telling me?’
‘Am I making myself crystal clear? Stay away from me.Now what are you to me Benjamin,my enemy or my friend?’
‘With that I left his side,I wrote a note to Oliver.
I’m so sorry,I need to be alone for a while.
Benjamin made a pass at me and I let him.
I’m returning to London for a while.
Please don’t follow me.
The children are better off without me.
I packed my bags and slipped out without a trace.I was just about to slip in to the carriage when I heard a voice.
‘You didn’t think I would let you go that easily did you?’
‘I found your note?’
‘I’m so sorry?’
‘Oh my darling?’
‘I’m cursed Oliver.’
‘Cursed by your true beauty.’
He kissed me.’Despite that,I will love you till death do us part.’
‘But I kissed Benjamin? You’re not stopping me please let me go.’
‘No,come on back inside.You’re freezing?’
‘So you’re not going to throw me out?’
‘Why would I do that?’
I smiled. ‘Thank you.’
‘You do like to make a spectacular exit,you’re quite the actress aren’t you sweet pea?’
A few weeks later,it was Oliver’s birthday.I’m fully aware that he said lay off with the grand gestures Gisele,but I couldn’t resist.I had been secretly plotting behind his back,corresponding notes to the family,I had planned a surprise gala,which was to be held in his honour.The chateu is too small for a gala of this siza,and I had longed to see my family again.So I took it upon myself and whilst out at a ladies gathering,I had negotiated with a very kind Lady Madamoiselle Lydia Troy,she insisted that her manor house would be the perfect centre point,and she is right her place is quite something else.She has statues that are equisite,quite a romantic setting if I say so myself.I could place some lights in the garden to create a romantic atmosphere so to speak.I had the perfect plan,after all I was quite the expert in the art of deception and secrecy.I had crept downstairs and prepared a beautiful breakfast for him,tea decked the table with candles and laid out croissants for him to feast upon.Oliver snuck up behind me.
‘You’ve spoilt the surprise?’
‘And a hello to you too.’
‘Sorry my love,I had planned to bring you a romantic breakfast in bed.Happy birthday Oliver.’
I kissed him on the lips. ‘Your present it’s on the table,it’s not a lot.It’s from the children and I.
Oliver opened up the box,it had a diamond encrusted watch inside.
‘It must have cost a fortune?’
‘None of that matters now.’
I felt a twinge in my stomach.
‘Are you ok darling?’
‘I’m fine,it must be something I’ve eaten?’
‘It must be all of those snails that you’ve been eating lately?’
‘Since when do I eat snails?’ I laughed. ‘I’ll be fine,really…it comes and goes.’
I lied,I’m getting good at this,I wasn’t ok.I was feeling out of sorts for weeks,so I secretly found out by the doctors that I was with child,I had planned to tell Oliver the happy news,the night of his birthday gala.I do pray that is the son that he has been longing for.
‘Do you like it?’
‘I shall it wear it straight away.’
‘I take that as a yes then?’
A while later,I disappeared to Madamoiselle Lydia’s manor house.
‘It’s very kind of Madamoiselle Lydia,to allow us to use her manor house?’
‘I can’t wait to see Oliver’s face.’
‘How was Versailles?’
‘Oh wonderful Gisele,I’m so happy.I have a feeling that Lord Benjamin is the one?’
‘I think that he is working up to a proposal.’
‘Benjamin and I are deeply in love,what’s wrong with ceasing the moment?’
‘I’m very happy for you,I truly am.’
‘Are you sure you’re ok Gisele?’
‘I’m perfectly fine,why do you ask?’
‘You can pull the wool over Oliver’s eyes,but you can’t fool me Lady Rickman.I know what’s been going on? Sneaking around,acting all secretive?’
‘I wanted to tell you,I really did Louisa….’
‘The cold fevers,sudden tiredness.You’re with child aren’t you?’
I stopped in my tracks,I was relieved that Louisa hadn’t rumbled my little tryst with Lord Benjamin.
‘I’m so happy for you.’
‘Does Oliver know?’
‘No,and I intend to keep it that way for the time being….I’m going to tell him after the gala.’
‘That explains the moodiness? I thought I’d…’
‘It was nothing personal.’
‘Well I think it’s wonderful news,it can be our little secret…I hope you don’t mind,I’ve invited Lord Benjamin.’
‘No not at all.’ I lied. ‘He is your very close acquiantance after all.’
‘I like to hope so.’ she blushed.’Oh imagine Lady Benjamin Henry,it has a nice ring to it.I’m finally experiencing what you have,the love of a good man.’
‘What about your feelings for Declan,I know that you loved him.’
‘I dont think I did.Not really,I think it was…I was lonely and I was longing for someone to be with.It was all about passion and lust with Declan,with Benjamin it’s different.So how are you going to tell Oliver?’
‘I haven’t decided yet…I’m terrified at the whole prospect of it.’
It was evening,Oliver was like a cat on a hot tin roof,trying to extract information.
‘I wish you would tell me where we’re dining out,you know I like to look the part?’
‘Oliver,I’m sure you will look fine in whatever you wear tonight?’
‘That didn’t answer my question?’
‘Olly,all you need to be aware of,is that we are going to be spending some much needed time together,fine wine,french cuisine,no not a frogs leg or snail in sight,not forgetting a side order of romantic candles and…that is all I’m revealing to you.’
‘I wish you wouldn’t insist on me wearing this wretched blindfold.I can’t see a damn thing out of it.’
‘That’s the whole point in wearing it,all will be revealed in good time my love.
I am determined that this night is going to go without a hitch,I will not let the whole prospect of Lord Benjamin being in my prescence spoil anything.This is Oliver’s night,then it’s going to have such a beautiful fairytale ending.I will lay rose petals onto the bed,and I will tell him there and then that he is going to become a father once more.
We had finally arrived at Madamoiselle Lydia’s manor house,Louisa had agreed that she would get there early,as I had asked my family and our close friends from london to arrive in good time,we got out of the carriage,I took hold of Oliver’s hand.
Mama and the other guests were eagerly awaiting our arrival.Holly was growing rather impatient.
‘I don’t see what the whole fuss is about?’ sighed Holly.
‘Quit complaining.’said Evangaline.’I think it’s a lovely gesture that Gisele has got us all together again.’
We walked inside.
‘Just another step,and all will be revealed my love.’
We entered the room,it was filled with familiar faces,family and close friends.I removed the blindfold from his eyes.There was a round rupture of applause and shouts of happy birthday Oliver.Mama insisted on us all singing for he’s a jolly good fellow,Oliver turned and looked at me.
‘Please don’t be angry.I know you said you didn’t like the grand gesture?’
‘I’m not angry,quite the crafty little minx when you want to be? How? I’m absolutely speechless.’
‘Well you’re wife believe it or not? Is quite the dab hand of negotiating.I was corresponding with Mama,told her of my intentions and asked her to spread the word.’
‘I thought you liked writing letters?
‘I do,but nothing passes you by…You would have smelt a rat and I couldn’t risk you getting onto my radar.’
He took me into my arms and kissed me,he whispered in my ear and giggled.For a moment out of the corner out of the corner of my,and caught a glimpse of Lord Benjamin at the back of the room.He looked at me,as if I should come over,I shook my head.He insisted,I broke away from Oliver.
‘Darling,you go circulate.There’s someone I would like to see.’
‘Thank you.It was so sweet of you to do this.’
‘It was nothing.’ I insisted.
I briefly looked over my shoulder,I don’t want him to see us together,I hate going behind Oliver’s back.But I feared it might give everyone the wrong impression.I know how Holly and Evangaline’s little minds work.
‘What ever you’re after? The answers no,you might be good looking,but you’re certainly not sleeping with me tonight.’
‘That’s not what I’m after?’
‘No?’ I folded my arms. ‘How intriguing? Our last meeting you made your intentions perfectly clear,that you weren’t going to give up?’
‘I wanted to apologise to you in person.’
‘I behaved appallingly towards you,it’s just that you’re so beautiful and I…treated you like a desirable object.Of course I wanted to,I mean who wouldn’t?’
‘Is this your way of apologising to me in a gentleman like manner? Interesting choice of method? What do you want from me Benjamin? State your’e intentions?’
‘I want us to be friends.’
‘I think we tried that,until you cleverly enticed me into bed.’
‘I’d like us to think we can get along with one another,can we try again?’
He reached out his hand.
‘Oh I must.’ I sighed. ‘Who am I to turn down the hand of friendship? But don’t getting ideas into your head,I’m only doing this for Louisa.’
He doesn’t half love himself,but I admire him for apologising,not all gentleman would admit that they were wrong.I felt the pressure of telling Oliver build in my mind,the tempreture was rising…Oh come on Gisele,you can get through this.I know you can,it’s just a few small hours.Mama graced my prescence.
‘You certainly know how to pull out the stops? Your place is this not?’
‘Shame,and to think I thought you had gone up in the world then?’
‘Oh ignore her Gisele?’
‘Marianna,Letitia.’ I greeted them with a kiss.
‘It is so good to see you.’ smiled Letitia.
‘When are we going to see your chateu? We are longing to see it.’ asked Marianna.
‘All in good time.’
‘Mama,got the whole idea into your head that you were ashamed of it?’
‘Not at all,the chateu is perfect in preportion for my needs.But I’m looking at the bigger picture here,in order to pull off an event such as this.Madamoiselle Lydia kindly vacated her property.’
‘Don’t you miss the whole living in a manor life style?’
‘We are happy for you.What we don’t understand is the sudden departure from London?’
‘The truth is,I felt suffocated.It broke my heart,leaving but my futures in france,no going back.Why do you ask?’
‘Where asking because Evangaline and Holly got a mad theory in their heads.They said that you left,because something happend between you and Lord Benjamin at Whistleberry Estate?’
‘Don’t be so absurd.’
‘Well we thought the same thing.But Evangaline said that you seemed extremely close at the dinner table?’
‘That’s ridiculous,I can’t believe I’m hearing this.Evangaline is jealous simply because of Louisa’s attachment to Lord Benjamin.Honestly I wish they would grow up sometimes.’
‘I’m sorry,we have offended you my dear.’said Marianna.
‘No.I’m sorry,I’m just so tired lately.’
‘You do look pale?’
‘I’m fine,I think the whole pressure of organising this whole event behind Oliver’s back has been trying….You know what he’s like?’
‘Well who can blame him.A beautiful wife on his arm,of course he’ll have to keep an eye on you.’
Reinette and Sophia walked over.
‘Gisele darling.’ Reinette kissed my cheek. ‘How are you since you slayed the dragon?’
‘Oh you know me,I’m a survivor.’ I smiled.
‘Gisele,I’m so sorry I wasn’t around the last time you were in London?’
‘Well you’re here now Sophia.’
‘Daniel sends his apologies,prior engagement.’
‘I understand,it’s so good to see you.’
‘Do tell me all about your run in with Lady Isabelle?’
‘I thought Daniel told you what happend?’
‘Oh you know what Daniel’s like? He likes to exaggerate,I would like to hear your account.’
‘I just gave Lady Isabelle a taste of her own medicine,it was nothing really.’ I sighed.
‘Don’t be so modest.’ said Marianna. ‘I admire the way you stood up to that ghastly woman.I could never do half the things you’d did in your life.You’ve overcome so much,you’re so brave Gisele,and look at you now,you’re positively glowing.’
‘Isn’t it a little hot in here?’ I grabbed my fan out out of my pocket.
I started to fan myself.
‘Are you ok my dear?’ asked Marianna.
‘Yes,I’ll be fine in a minute.’
I saw Holly and Evangaline dancing with some unknown gentlemen,must be some close acquaintances of Oliver,who Mama had contacted.I noticed Lord Benjamin dancing with Lady Louisa.He briefly looked over for a minute,that one look sent my head in a spin.
‘Where is my champagne?!’ I demanded.
‘It’s here.’ said Marianna.
I grabbed hold of the champagne flute,I couldn’t see straight,I dropped the glass and fainted.Oliver ran over to me.
‘She’s out cold,but still breathing’ said Marianna. ‘She’s just fainted.’
Oliver took me in his arms.
‘Step aside! She needs some air!’
Oliver took me upstairs,and laid me onto the bed.I opened my eyes.
Oliver reached over to me.
‘You gave us all quite a fright there?’
‘Where am I?’
‘In Madamoiselle Lydia’s bedchamber.’
‘That should get the people talking?’
‘One minute you were standing talking to Reinette,Sophia and you’re sisters.The next you went down…you fainted Gisele.Can you remember anything at all?’
This wasn’t planned at all,no the night shouldn’t have ended like this? Stupid Gisele,why do I always mess up everything in my life? I didn’t want you to find out this way.’
‘Find out what?’
‘It was going to be perfect,a glass of champagne overlooking the garden.I decked it out in fairylights,we were going to waltz into the moonlight.I was then going to take you upstairs,the bed would have been decked with rose petals,surrounded by candles.Create a romantic ambience.I didn’t think I would cause such a scene and faint….I have something to tell you Oliver.You’re going to become a father again.’
Oliver started to cry.
‘You have made me the happiest man alive Gisele Rickman,this my darling.Nothing is going to ruin it for us this time,this I promise you.’