A while later,he gazed into my eyes.In those few moments,I felt blissfully happy, butterflies in my stomach.I have never felt this way for such a long time,so free and without a care in the world.
‘I love you.’ he whispered.
I rested my head on his shoulder,he kissed my forehead.It was a tender moment,like two lovers.Lost in a world,where it’s just the two of us,up against the world.I briefly closed my eyes and relived our encounter.It was sheer madness,so unlike me to choose such a place.Our bodies entwined,him kissing me tenderly.His warm arms wrapped lovingly around me.He wanted me,and I wanted him.I saw flickers of colour,then Louisa’s smiling face.That moment of pleasure had been stolen away,like a dagger piercing through the heart.Just how Juliet felt,reality kicked in.What if she caught us there and then? Or what if the children walked in? I tried to walk away from him,he pulled me back into his strong arms.
‘No Ben,please don’t.’
‘I thought that you wanted me?’
‘Yes,yes I do so much,my heart aches for you.’
‘After last time,I have wanted this so much.I mean in the stables? So unlike me at all?’
Benjamin smiled. ‘You are so beautiful.’
‘Why do you keep doing that? The moment we get close,you push me away?’
‘I won’t let you close enough to hurt me.We can never be together.’
‘We wouldn’t work? You know why? Louisa? Oliver? Esme and Ava? We simply can’t too many lives will be destroyed.We can’t…I refuse to.’
‘I love you.’
‘What if they walked in and saw us together?’
‘Making love.You can say that you know?’
‘That…we’re not in love.I am so disgusted with myself.I went away to get you out of my system,prevent you from invading my dreams and it worked.Then I saw you so rugged and handsome,such a perfect creature.Something that wasn’t mine,but to hell with the consequences.I wanted to have you there and then.I’m not a child anymore,I shouldn’t be doing this.Not to Louisa,and certainly not to my husband.’
‘Where does that leave us?’
‘We shall go back to addressing one another as Lord Henry and Lady Rickman.’
‘Don’t shed a tear over me Lord Henry.Go back to Louisa,forget about me.’
‘How can I? We’ve just…’
‘Please,Lord Henry we’ve had our moment.If you think so highly of me? I beg of you.’
I kissed him on his cheek,and walked away from him,that proved to be harder than I ever thought it would be.But it’s for the best.
We were gathered together in the drawing room.Benjamin and Louisa are stood by the fireplace,looking like love’s young dream.Entranced by one another.Benjamin looked lovingly into Louisa’s eyes.Is this false façade for my benefit,painting a mask upon his face.Yes it’s working I’m wild with jealously.How I envy Louisa,his slightest touch,sends shivers down my spine.
‘Louisa and I have grown rather fond of one another,and I as a gentleman,of tradional means and values has come for Lord Rickman’s permission for your sister the devastingly beautiful Lady Louisa’s hand in marriage.’
‘And since Father isn’t alive no more,I wanted to get your blessing.’
I looked up at Oliver,I could no longer read his reaction.I touched his shoulder. ‘Oliver?’
‘I can see how Louisa has grown rather fond of you Benjamin.She’s quite the delicate flower.If you for one second consider breaking her heart Sir? Then that is the last thing that you will ever do…I’ll see to that.’
‘That’s his way of sealing his approval.’ I smiled.
A while later,we were armed with the finest champagne,toasting to Louisa’s future.I reluctantly took a sip,I didn’t want to harm my unborn child.’
‘A toast to the future Lord and Lady Henry.’
I briefly glanced over at Benjamin,then turned away,Oliver placed his hand on my shoulder.
‘So what did you get up to in Paris sweet pea?’
‘Oh nothing exciting.’
‘I’ve missed my fair peti Gisele.’
‘I know.’ He touched my shoulder,I flinched.
‘Are you feeling ok Sweet Pea?’
‘I’m fine Olly,just I’m feeling a tad delicate from the journey home.I think I need a much lie down.’
I kissed him upon his lips and left his side,I hate this false façade,pretending to be in love with my husband,when all I think about is Lord Henry.I don’t mean to portray the ice maiden,but I can no longer pretend.Oh Papa will be spinning in his grace.I made my way up thestairs,and briefly paused on the balcony.I turned and faced the grand clock,that Oliver had bought as a wedding gift.Yet another one of his grand gestures I found our beautiful wedding album on the floor,I opened it and glanced at each individual photo.Oliver and I we looked so happy,I was lost in the moment and in love with him that day.How things have dramatically changed.We didn’t care that it was on a much smaller scale to our first wedding,it felt right.I thought that I would be with him till my dying day.I made a vow in the eyes of god.I turned over to a picture of Oliver and I looking into one another’s eye.He looked so perfect that day,it was like we were inside a dream world that day.I looked so beautiful in that gown,like a swan princess said Oliver.So perfect my Odette,and all mine.I never thought twice about those words.Until now,I’m not a possession he doesn’t own me,I’m his wife and mother to his two children.I felt someone kiss the back of neck.I thought it was Oliver,I turned around.
I clapped my hands.’That was a fine piece you put upon display.Was that for my benefit?’
‘I came to see if you were all right?’
‘I’m perfectly fine.’
‘No you’re not Gisele.I know you.’
‘No Lord Henry,you do not.’
‘You can think again about calling me Lord Henry?’
‘Its for the best.’
‘Dont go denying it? I saw the way your heart sank when Louisa was declaring her love for me?’
‘That moment I died inside,But that moments past Lord Henry.’
‘Please leave me.’
‘You are so? Why do you have this effect on me Lady Rickman?’
‘I’m no good for you.’ I whispered.
‘How can you ever say that?’
‘I’m dangerous.’ I whispered.
‘Dangerous to the touch.’
‘Louisa will be a good wife and mother to your children.She will attend to your every need.She’s a sweet girl.She will give you everything a doting wife aught to be.She will learn how to behave properly in society.I’m an atomic bomb,I destroy everything that come close to me.’
‘That’s the risk that I’m prepared to take Lady Rickman.’
‘Well I’m sorry to burst your bubble,but I’m doing perfectly fine without you in my life.’
He walks towards me,his lips brushing against mine.I pushed him away.
‘Leave me alone.’ I walked up the stairs and away from Lord Benjamin.
I closed the door behind me and slumped onto the bed,I have shed so many tears,same I Gisele Delessop this ring on my finger has meant nothing to me.I have proved it so many times,Papa will be turning in his grave.He will be so ashamed of me,times like this I miss living in London,in times of trouble.I could confide in my beautiful sweet sister’s Marianna and Letitia.Over the years,I have brought so much turmoil to their door.Shame upon the family,they have never turned their back on me.Gone are the days when we would sit up and talk for hours,about my latest conquests fighting for my heart.Oh how we used to laugh.Life was so much easier then.I sighed and walked towards the window,the curtains were flapping around in the wind.I noticed Oliver was out playing in the grounds with Esme and Ava,not a care in the world.If he knew the truth,one little word from me and his whole world come crashing around him.I felt breathless and all faint at this point,I sat down.Oh I must make an effort to write to my Mama.
It’s your petit Gisele.
All is well in the Delessop/Rickman house hold.Please don’t b ie alarmed when receiving this.I know it’s been a while since a while since I last corrosponded to you.I’ve been pretty pre-occupied that’s all.How I miss you so? Do you miss me? Stupid question,how I very much doubt it.I’d like to apologise for all of the trouble,the pain and the sorrow I’ve caused you over the past few years.I know I haven’t always been the model daughter,and Lady of society.Well I don’t think I’ve ever been,the humiliation of jilting Duke Matthew,wrong child bride.The scandal of my affair Declan Holmes,that tragic business with Jack.I was so much younger then,I have turned my life around for the better.
I do hope that you’re proud of my greatest achievements,my beautiful Ava and Esme.I wouldn’t change them for the world.
Ava and Esme miss their Gran’mama,you must come and visit us soon,I insist.Sometimes when I feel lonely I wish I stayed in London.
Apart from Lord Henry and Louisa,I feel I have no connections here,no one to cling to in my hour of need.
Speaking of your truly,we have some exciting news in the Rickman household.
Lord Henry has finally proposed to Louisa and she’s accepted.
Do write soon,hope everyone is well.
Those last few words,brought a lump to my throat,I glanced down at the parchment.Should I erase the last part? Oh no Mama might grow suspicious if she hears from someone else,there was a knock on the door.I composed myself on the bed.
Louisa walks in,she looked pretty as a picture,it’s as if nothing can stop her,like she’s gliding on fluffy white clouds.
‘Oliver said that you were hiding up here? Have you been crying?
I casually dried my eyes. ‘Tears of joy Louisa,tears of joy my angel.’
Louisa sat on the bed and placed her hands into mine.
‘Your hands are cold.’ I laughed.
‘Benjamin and I went out for some air.’
‘Oh so that’s what society calls it these day going out for some air?’
‘I’m so pleased that you’re all right? I got it into my head that I detected the green eyed monster?’
‘Whatever gave you that impression?’
‘Because over the years I’ve watched you from afar,I’ve been in your shoes so many times.You Gisele,you’re so used to the spot light.Thriving on the scandal of your love affair,you’re beautiuful reconciliation with Oliver, watching your beautiful children grow.Whilst I’m forever in the shadows looking on,wishing when will it be my turn? Longing for a piece of that.For a man to look at me,just the way Oliver looks at you.Now it’s my turn to shine.
‘You have got me so wrong Louisa.’
‘I doubt that very much.’
‘In fact I’m jealous of you.’
‘Me? Whatever for? You’re the beauty daughter of a french aristocrat the noble Lady Antoinette,you have sister’s who protect and support you.I have one over protective and stubborn older brother.Ladies want to be like you,you have so many close friends.You have everything.’
‘Not everything,you have youth,beauty on your side.My looks are fading,so much to look forward to.Fresh bright new beginnings.Does Lord Henry care for you?’
‘Yes,he loves me with all of his heart.’
‘Does he ever tell you that?’
‘And do you love him?’
‘What I’m asking is…I’ll try not to be blunt with you.But you have got to admit my dear child,you haven’t many male admirers.Due to no fault of your own,it’s your overbearing brother.Lord Henry is the first male to give you the much needed attention that you craved for.Shouldn’t you be keeping your options open? In case someone better and more deserving of your heart comes along your way.’
‘Benjamin is the only one I truly love and need.’
‘You don’t know that Louisa,look at what happened to me?’
‘Are you trying to say that I’m not good enough for a gentleman like Lord Henry?’
‘No of course not.’
‘Well it sounded like that to me.’
‘I’m only looking out for your best interests at heart.’
‘I do value you opinion Gisele,but it’s time that I make my own decisions and mistakes,I’m not a child anymore.’
‘I don’t think that he’s the man for you Louisa.’
‘Are you suggesting that Lord Henry is purely with me fort the fact that he wants to get his hands on the Rickman money? Because you saw for yourself.he is a man of property,he will take care of me.’
‘Now you’re just putting words into my mouth Louisa.’
‘No you’re the one that’s trying to plant ideas into my head.It’s absurd,Benjamin loves me with his whole heart,he adores me and I am.What’s happend to you Gisele?….To think I felt sorry for you.Since you returned you were feeling out of sorts.Not yourself,I wanted to make everything better again,see that enchanting smile again.I was even going to make you Matron of Honour at my wedding.And all the while you were plotting behind my back.’
‘No,that’s not true!’
‘Stupid,naive Louisa.I should have learnt never to trust you again.Since you broke my brother’s heart into a thousand pieces first time round.Your poison Gisele Delessop,whatever you touch turns to dust!’
‘I’m speechless…I had no idea you were going to ask me?’
‘I have no true friends,and you meant the world to me.It was meant to be a surprise,Benjamin and I were planning on inviting you to dinner at his estate in Versailles and telling you there and then.But oh no,you managed to take that away from me! Why do you always strip every inch of happiness away from me?!’
‘That’s not true!’
‘Declan and I finished purely on the terms that we knew that it would destroy you!’
‘You knew that my feelings for him had died,that I was in love with your brother!’
‘So you say! You were responsible for your father’s death!’
‘Take that back!’
‘I’m so sorry if the truth hurts Gisele.The past is finally catching up with you.’
‘I no longer had those feelings for Declan,I gave you my blessing,for heaven sakes Louisa what did you want from me? Blood?!”
‘It was a risk I wasn’t prepared to take! Yes I was deeply in love with him,and I chose to walk away from the man I truly loved.Benjamin is the one who makes me feel alive,and happy and I him.He loves me,he fills all of my empty nights.Gives me a reason to feel that I am worth something…if you’re not the centre of attention,then you’re not interested.I used to look up to,as the sister I never had.I idolised you,longed to be like you.How wrong was I?’
Louisa storms out crying.
I had no idea she had felt like this,she sacrificied the one man,she truly loved.Because she thought the prospect of Declan and her would destroy me.As for what she said about being the cause of my father’s death.I blame myself every day,for my beautiful papa leaving his family that way.But to hear it from Louisa,truly breaks my heart.I had no idea she still doesnt trust me.Deep down,I’m sure she loves me in her own unique way.Its just her way of getting back at me for saying those things about her fiance’,I’m only trying to be cruel to be kind.I can’t believe I’ve did this to her,I vowed I would never break her heart.Oh if she knew the whole truth about Benjamin…..I would lose her completely.I wish I could turn back the hands of time,go back to the very first moment I kissed Benjamin at Lady Isabelle’s house,but I can’t erase that.Lord Benjamin is using her,he doesn’t care a jot about her.He loves me,I don’t mean to be cruel.All I’m trying to do is save her from a lifetime of heartache and misery.I pray that one day,she will in time thank me for this.
A tap on the door,who is it this time? Oh can’t a get a moment alone?
I threw my shoe in a fit of rage,at the door almost hitting the intruder in the door way.
‘Benjamin carefully picked my shoe up.
‘It’s like that is it?’
I looked at him,what does he want? I have no time for his tone,brooding looks and silly little mindgames.
‘I did knock.’
‘Do you have a death wish or something?…Louisa might see.’
‘Oh,she’s so wrapped up in her own little world,planning our facade of a wedding.’
‘She barged past me on the stairs.Has something happend between you two,that I should be aware of?’
‘It’s nothing that concerns you Lord Henry.’
Benjamin raised his left eyebrow.
‘You know that doesn’t work with me anymore? You’re getting nothing from me Lord Henry?’ I pouted.
‘Stop playing games with me Gis?’
‘I’m doing no such thing Lord Henry.’
‘Oh Lady Rickman,I will find out,would you go and find Louisa? I can always ask her? And while I’m at it I will reveal my true feelings for you.’
‘Louisa raked up a few things up from the past.She mentioned the reason she broke off her relationship with Sir Holmes.I was the cause of this…you,Lord Henry you’re just an infatuation to her.The truth is I was trying to save her.’
‘From you if you do go ahead with the marriage then all you will bring to her is a life time and misery.She will only die of a broken heart.’
‘You were the one who insisted on marrying her?’
‘I didn’t know what I was saying back then.She dotes on you Ben,I mean what do you really want?’
I walked closer to Benjamin.
‘You are giving me mixed signals,you said so yourself that you didn’t care for her? Then in another breath your all grand gestures of marriage? Which one is it?’
‘Gisele,my darling.Ever since I held you so gently.I felt yout beautiful breath upon my body.When you walked away,all I’ve felt is empty.’
‘You said that you love me Lord Benjamin?’
‘Are you blind? I’ve loved you ever since you walked into my ball room at Versailles,looking so radiant in that gown and mask of yours.It’s always been you.But I pushed my feelings aside Gisele Rickman,I was afraid to let me true intentions known.I need someone to save me,run away with me.’
I stood up and started to circle the room.
‘You don’t care for him?’
‘He could make me happy.’
‘He’s got you wrapped round his little finger.’
‘I find it’s the other way round,he adores me.’
‘I dont think he sees it that way?’
‘He’s got you trapped here.’
‘I’m not some damsel in distress,I don’t need rescuing.’
‘Are you truly happy?’
‘He could make me happy…’
‘You keep saying that,but is it true?
‘Oliver loves me.’
‘You’re nothing but a posession to him,a prize that he can show off to his friends.’
‘Oliver adores me,he took Esme on as his own.’
‘Those are just empty words,I see the way he treats you.Gisele I was here.’
‘You only see what your eyes want to see Ben.’
‘With him,you’re frozen.You’re nothing but an icemaiden when you’re with him.Shut down,not expressing any true emotion? I was here,so don’t go denying it.You’re putting on an act for the sake of your children.In the stable all of those other times,I was here that was love.You can leave here with no regrets.We could go now,anywhere you’re heart desires.Just say the word.It could be,you,me,Ava and Esme.’
‘I can’t ask that of you.’
‘We could make it work?’
‘No,they deserve a better life.A life I can no longer give them.’
He looked into my eyes.
‘Not here.’ I sighed. ‘It wouldn’t be right? Are we really doing this?’
We faced one another,our palms together.
‘Yes,yes we are.’
He touched my nose.
‘I’ll leave them a locket..and a note.’
‘Meet me in the garden in five minutes.’
‘I promise Benjamin,I wont regret this will I?’
Gisele,you’re the woman,I’ve been waiting for.’
‘I love you Ben.’
‘I love you Gisele Rickman.’
Benjamin are caught in an embrace.I pushed him out of the door,I felt a twinge in my stomache.I hadn’t felt right since my confrontation with Louisa.I winced a little.
‘Are you ok?’
‘I’ll be fine,now go.I need to pack a few things.I watched Benjamin leave the room,my heart pounding.I’m really doing this arent I? I can no longer stay here.Ava and Esme deserve a better life,I can’t keep hurting them,letting them down.Maybe in time Oliver will remarry,perhaps that vile daughter of vile Lady Isabelle? Who will live up to his high expectations.Some day Ava and Esme may learn to forgive their Mama.I did this out of duty and love.Nothing else,I walked over to my wardrobe.I will only take a few things that Oliver didn’t buy.I can’t believe I hardly own a thing its all his.I walked over to the dressing table and opened my jewellry box,it started to play its haunting melody while a beautiful ballet dancer piroeutted around and around.I removed the necklace that I was going to leave Esme and Ava.I clasped it gently before carefully putting it down onto the dressing table.I looked for a piece of parchment paper and began to write pouring all of my feelings out.
When you read this you will realise that I have left you.
I’m so sorry,I’ve tried for so long but I can no longer live a lie and keep my duties as a wife.
It pains me to say this,but I dont think I ever loved you.I loved Declan and only returned to you for the security of my Precious Ava.
I have tried,I truly have and I began to think yes I can love you,and yes I did love you.But not anymore.
I want to thank you for my two beautiful children.I have ran away to be with Lord Henry.
Him and I have grown rather fond of one another.
I think I love him,I didn’t intend it to end like this,I will never forget what you did for Esme.
I leave them my locket,I thought that they would stay in your care.
When they are old enough to understand,please tell them that,I did only what was best for them.I acted out of love.
Please tell Louisa,I didn’t plan any of this.
I only had her best intentions at heart.
I removed my wedding ring and left it on the dressing table.I went to walk out of the room.No,I couldn’t possibly leave that,if he discovered that it would kill him.I rushed back into the room,tore up the first parchment and disposed of it.I just wrote.
A little while later,I met Benjamin in the garden.
‘Of course I came.’
I embraced him.
‘I just thought that you had changed your mind?’
‘Oh my sweet Ben,are you crying?’
‘It’s just that…I’ve never felt like this,not until I met you.I intended to hurt Louisa.’
‘I just want to be with you,I couldn’t bare to be apart.’
I touched his face,I looked around and took one last look at what had been my life.There was once happy times.But all that remains is bittersweet memories,we went to walk towards the steps.I felt pain again,excruiating stabbing pain,I collapsed and stumbled down the steps.
‘Oh my love.’
‘Get Oliver!’ I screamed in pain.
‘We where so close?’
‘I’m so sorry.’ I gasped. ‘It’s for the best.’