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Chapter 16

Dawn broke,a brand new day and it couldn’t happen a moment too sooner.For I have barely slept a wink,I cried myself to sleep clutching the necklace Lord Henry presented to me.My secret treasured trove,a token of his love for me.Trying as I might to drown out Louisa’s sheer whoops of delight.Lord Henry had taken upon my advice and returned to his wife.Now I had to pay the heavy price.Indeed I was just a heartbeat away from happiness.That could have been me,why did I ever allow him to slip through my fingers? The moment I’m back in London,and arms length from temptation can not happen a moment too soon.I left Oliver sleeping there,as I quietly climbed out of the covers to get changed into my day dress.I noticed the marks on my shoulder,I blushed a little as I recall my foreplay with Lord Henry getting a little out of hand last night.As quiet as a mouse I tiptoed across the landing ,trying not to disturb anyone.
My paths crossed with someone no longer had any desire to see at this time of the morning.I didn’t have a scrap of make up upon my face,and I had my hair scraped back in a French braid.I couldn’t bare to make eye contact with him.
‘Lord Henry.’ I casually brushed past him,he wasn’t allowing me to escape so easily,he took hold of my arm.
‘Oh no you don’t Gisele.’
‘Please not in public Benjamin.’
‘Gisele.’
‘Is there something wrong my Lord?’
He looked ill at ease,he started adjusting his collar.
‘Oh dear all fingers and thumbs.You know you don’t have to be nervous with me Benjamin.’
‘First of all,I would like to apologise for my behaviour last night? Upon reflection I may or may not have behaved….so ungentleman like?’
‘And I certainly acted like no lady.So forceful Lord Henry.’
‘I beg to differ Lady Rickman,the moment you rejected me I was a broken man.’
‘Oh hark the Lord is going to break into a soliloquy claiming to be enslaved to his emotions trapped in a loveless marriage.Oh how my heard bleeds for thee.I find your tale hard to believe.I do believe champagne had a part to play.’
‘What I said last night?’
‘Can I please just stop you there Lord Henry,for I’m feeling a tad delicate today.I suggest it’s best if you say nothing at all?’
‘When do you both leave for London?’
‘My husband and I once we’ve bid our farewells,we shall be our of your life for good.’
‘You don’t mean it?’
‘I mean every word.’
‘I thought you’d planned to stay on for a few days? Louisa will indeed be devastated?’
‘I’m sure Louisa will be far more devastated if she discovers that you aren’t to take her on honeymoon.Why is that Lord Henry? Don’t tell me the Henry fortune has finally ran out? However are you going to break it to Louisa?’
‘Don’t toy with me Lady Rickman.’
‘I’m not toying with you Lord Henry.’
‘You know my reasons,how am I supposed to go away on honeymoon lay with her and act like everything’s ok.When my one true love is leaving me to go to London? How am I to keep my promise of children? Your smile and the sound of your voice was my only way of surviving.I’m crumbling,I’ll get down upon my knees and beg you to stay.I can’t do this without you.Listening to my heart,singing proclaiming my love for you.Your the beat of my heart,the wings of the dove.A fools paradise.Surely you feel something too? Or is your heart truly made out of stone?’
‘That’s my way of coping of course I felt something.How dare you say I have a heart of stone.You have no idea,my heart is breaking.The longer I stay you have no idea,my heart is breaking I’m fading from wanting you so much.I’m returning to London before anymore damage is caused to the family.You and I wasn’t just a game you know,I’m deeply hurt so don’t come and say I’m emotionally stunted.I loved you so much,I loved you the way I felt for my Carl.Yes I originally planned to stay on for a few days,but isn’t it a woman’s prerogative to change her mind?’
‘Oh my love must we quarrel?’
‘I’m no longer your love.’
‘Gis?’
‘Benjamin,don’t you understand? If I agreed to stay,yes we can try as we might to resist.We can go on pretending,but we can’t avoid one another forever.Soon our paths will cross.You can hide away from the power of my kiss as much as you like.But both you and I both know we’re cut from the same cloth.Powerless to fight our feelings,right now it’s taking a lot of self control to keep my hands to myself.’
‘I won’t stop you.’
‘Stop that.’ I pouted. ‘I shall miss you very much Lord Benjamin.’
I kissed him upon his cheek.’Am I interrupting something?’
‘You startled me Ana.’
‘Mama has summoned us for breakfast.’
‘That’s very noble of her…I was planning on bringing Louisa a wedding breakfast in bed,break it to her gently that there shall be no honeymoon?’
‘Yes it looks that way?’
‘I assure you Lady Henry,there’s nothing going on between your brother and I.’
‘You will join us won’t you Gisele?’
‘That is very kind of you Lady Ana,but sadly I’m unable to accept you’re invitation.Oliver and I are leaving today.’
‘So soon?’
‘It will take us days as the journey is long…I was only merely saying my farewells to Benjamin that’s what the kiss on the cheek was for.Nothing more….then we shall be on our way?’
‘Surely not without saying goodbye?’
The colour drained from my cheeks,how long had Louisa and Oliver been standing there for? I shall die if she overheard my conversation with Lord Benjamin.
‘Louisa?’
She ran over to me and embraced me,just like she used to.
‘How could I not say goodbye to you Louisa?’
I sobbed holding on for as long as I could,tears rolled down Louisa’s cheek.Today I was losing someone so dear,a dear friend and sister.We have certainly come along way,she’s no longer the quiet and innocent wallflower with no self confidence or belief,she is now a beautiful young woman oozing self-confidence.I have no idea why Lord Henry was drawn to me like a moth to a flame when he had Louisa in his life? I never did ask him that.
‘Please don’t cry Louisa.’I sobbed.
‘How am I going to live without you? When you leave france,I shall die.’
‘You are not as shy as you make out Louisa,you are the social butterfly I once was.You are a strong woman,I’m so proud of what you have achieved in these short space of months.You have proved you can stand on your own too feet,organising you’re own wedding.’ I kissed her on her cheek.
‘But I have nobody,I barely no anyone here,you’re my family.’
‘You have you’re husband Benjamin there to support you,and dare I say maybe in the future pitter patter of tiny feet.’
‘Not for a while.’ said Louisa.
I glanced over at Benjamin. ‘You have Ana too?’
‘I’m afraid that she has taken a dislike to me,I’ve gone out of my way been nothing but polite to her.Whatever I do in her eyes isn’t good enough? Maybe she doesn’t approve of me joining the Henry family?’
‘It’s not you.’
‘Well what is it then?’
‘Lady Ana,she has her reasons…you see you and I have one thing in common with her.Sir Holmes.’
‘Declan.I loved him once but he means nothing to me now,you have got to believe me Benjy I’m not being unfaithful to you.’
‘I know.’
‘Sir Holmes,he broke Lady Ana’s heart.She was about to marry another,someone who cared for her very much she left her fiance’ to follow her heart,just like I did and now she’s left with nothing.It was a shock that she discovered you two together at Lord Henry’s ball.’
‘That explains a lot,but Gisele I didn’t set out to hurt anyone.I fell in love,that was all…I didn’t know what love was until I met my sweet kind hearted Benjy.I have never been this happy.’
‘Maybe if you explained to her then I’m sure she will understand? Lady Ana is a reasonable woman.’
‘She’s a pussycat’ added Lord Henry.
‘In time she will find it in your heart to forgive you,just like you did with me? You have a new found family now,a new sister and brother to get to know.You can wine and dine with Arthur and Ana till your’e hearts content and they will adore you.You and Ana can visit Paris and try on fashionable gowns.’
‘But she isn’t you?’
‘ I know Louisa,maybe you could attend glamourous balls together.The truth is you don’t need me holding me back?’
‘Gisele you would never hold me back.’
‘You’ve blossomed into a fine young woman Lady Henry.’
‘I could never forget about the Lady who has taught me so much it’s certainly been an education.’
‘As soon as we’ve found a place and we’re settled.Maybe you and Lord Henry could pay us a visit and I shall write to.I promise.’
‘I shall like that very much.’ sighed Louisa.

Outside the house,we were saying our emotional farewells.I kissed and hugged Louisa once more.
‘Gisele it was a pleasure to meet you at long last.’ smiled Lady Darcie.
‘Likewise Lady Henry.’ I smiled. ‘Lord Henry.’
Lord Robert a man of few words raised his hat.
‘I can’t bare farewells.’ said Louisa. ‘I will write to you everyday without fail.’
‘Oh sweet Louisa be very happy for me.I love you.’
She embraced Esme and Ava in turn.
‘Be good for Mama and Papa.’ smiled Louisa.
‘Aunt Louisa will you come and visit us with Uncle Benny?’ asked Ava.
‘Try and stop us,I promise.’ said Louisa. ‘Bye.’
She made her way back towards the estate,followed by Lady Darcie and Lord Robert.Oliver took the children into the carriage,I went to follow them.
‘Wait.’
‘There’s nothing more to say Lord Henry.’
‘Please Gisele five minutes,surely you owe me that?’
‘Very well.’
‘I keep thinking,this is some awful dream that I am living in,and I shall wake up.’said Lord Henry.
‘You have a good heart Lord Benjamin.’
‘This is killing me.I can’t bare to say goodbye.’
‘In order for you’re marriage to Lady Louisa to stand a chance of surviving.I’ve got no choice Lord Henry.’
‘Must we keep this formal between us Gisele? Especially with how strong we feel for one another? I would have died for you,you do know that don’t you?’
I nodded my head.
‘I love you deeply Lady Gisele,I’ll never forget you.’
‘It was a pleasure knowing you Lord Henry,with you I felt so full of life.’
Lord Henry raised his hat out of politeness. ‘The same goes to you Lady Rickman.’
I kissed him one final time and made my way into the carriage.I opened the carriage door and sat down beside my husband.There was an icy prescence between us,it broke my heart that once upon a time we were so close,we couldn’t keep our eyes off one another.
‘Everything all right sweet pea?’
‘Yes everything’s fine.’
‘Why must you keep acting like a closed book?’
‘Because whatever I say or do isn’t enough for you anymore Oliver.’
‘You know that’s not true?’
‘Ever since William died,I’ve been nothing but a burden to you.’
‘You’ll never be a burden to me Gisele,look at me.You’re my Wife.’
‘Oliver,that’s my subtle way of saying that I’m nothing but a disappointment,always letting you down.’
‘You never explained your display at the wedding? It was so out of character for you? I object? I can see it in your eyes,you have feelings for Lord Henry?’
‘Lord Henry how absurd?’
‘Well you’re sudden irrational behaviour,the way he looks at you,you only smile when you are with Benjamin?’
‘I’m merely being polite Oliver.On my children’s life.I’m not having an affair with Lord Benjamin.’
I can not believe those words slipped out of my mouth,swearing on my daughter’s live.I felt the words pouring out of my mouth,before I had time to stop and think of the consequences.I feel physically sick.
‘I trust you.’
He placed his hand upon my knee.
‘Maybe if I was having a passionate affair with Lord Henry,then you would find it much easier to leave me?’
I gently brushed his hand away.
‘You have a pure heart Gisele.I know you’d never do that to Louisa?’
‘I can’t wait to be back in London,I miss my Mama and my sister’s so dearly.’
‘Please stop changing the subject Gisele.’
‘I’m not.’
‘Whatever’s happend to us?’
‘Oliver I’ve bottled everything up for so long.’
‘I don’t understand?’
‘No you never do,in society in putting on a front,all fake smiles.As that’s how Mama taught me to behave,put up with everything.Trying my damdest to please everything for the sake of the children! But inside I’m drowning Oliver,you have no idea how I’m truly,because I didn’t let you in.Everything I’ve truly believed in,is fading away.But where is the love Oliver? The passion and fire kept us alive for so long! The spark has finally gone out in our marriage!’
‘I try to show you love and affection,but you keep pushing me away!’
I realised that the children were in our prescence,I lowered my tone. ‘The truth is maybe I don’t want you anymore…The intimacy,what I truly felt for you has vanished.You make my skin crawl,a wife should never feel that about her husband.My dreams and the whole beauty,kept me alive for so long.I’ve got fight left within me,Versailles was my hiding place.It wasn’t tainted with the memories of what haunt my mind.The lying and cheating,my heart used to be bursting of love.I couldn’t get enough of you.’
‘We can get that back sweetpea.’
‘No.’
‘The love we once shared? I beg of you please,I feel you slipping through my fingers.I yearn to be close to you,regain your trust.Let me come back to you,allow me back into our maritial bed? How I long to kiss your lips and touch your soft porcelain skin,like I used to.Stay up and talk for hours till the break of dawn.Hold you…’
‘I want those things too…London is our last chance of happiness Lord Rickman.If we can’t make our marriage work? Then there’s no other choice but to hold our hands up,and admit that our marriage is over.’
The journey was long and tiring,I spent the majority of the time looking of the window.I had nothing left to say to Oliver.After endless days of travelling.We had finally reached London.Quinn,Misty and Skye drove seperately Esme and Ava couldn’t bare to be parted from their unicorns.
Mama insisted that we stay there,until I found a suitable place to live,for I refused to return to Serenity Estate.It just doesn’t feel right returning without William.I could suggest to Oliver that Tom could design us a house,but I couldn’t possibly ask Oliver to put up with living with Mama and the children for any length of time.After all he was happy in Marseilles,could London save our marriage that’s the question that’s at the back of my mind.Oh will I forever be thinking about Lord Henry?
Mama decided that she would throw a ball in my honour.When I arrived home,it was such a joy to be surrounded by my sister’s.Although I would rather rest my weary head,the journey had certainly taken it’s toll on me.
‘I don’t know why Mama insist’s on having a ball,it’s incredibly sweet of her.But the journey from France has taken it’s toll on me.All I want to do is to have a nice soak in the bath,for Oliver to rub my weary feet and then sleep.’ I sighed.
‘Oh Gisele Tara Anastacia Rickman.Don’t be such a kill joy!’ said Holly.
‘Tell the truth Holly,you don’t care about Gisele.You only want to have a ball,so you can fantasise about throwing yourself at handsome strangers.’ said Evangaline.
‘Isn’t that the whole point of ball’s silly?’ giggled Holly.
‘Where’s Oliver?’ asked Letitia.
‘Seeing to the children.’ I smiled.
‘Word around Versailles,says the real reason you left France so suddenly was due to the fact that Lord Henry broke your heart.Is that true? I mean after all you stopped the wedding?’ asked Evangaline.
‘No,there’s no truth in it at all Evangaline.Honestly I shall not miss Versaille’s one bit,I could hardly breathe there like vulture’s,thriving on drama and scandal.’
‘Do you still love Lord Henry? It’s as simple as that? Just answer yes or no? We’re not here to judge you.’
‘Oh Mari,I never loved him,it was the thrill of the chase on my part,my feelings was sheer infatuation,and in his eyes all he felt for me was pure lust…the thought of another mans’s wife,he said so himself.’I lied.
I do hate lying to my sister’s about my inner most feelings about Lord Henry.The thought of him left in Versailles with her devastated me.I am transforming into the jealous mistress.Deep down I still loved him very much,for he had captured my beating heart,if it wasn’t for him then I shudder to think.He caught me before I fell.
‘Why did you leave Marseilles?’ asked Holly.
‘The truth is I missed you all very much.’
‘What was Lady Louisa wedding dress like?’ asked Marianna.
‘It was perfect,she looked so elegant,fitted her body so graciously.I couldn’t fault the day,the whole occasion was simply sublime,we had a sumptious turkey banquet with all of the trimmings.It was so sophisticated,something that you only see inside a film.It put my whole wedding to shame.’ I sighed.
‘You’re wedding was perfect.’ said Letitia.
‘Louisa had doves,I had canapes.’
‘You looked so beautiful in your wedding dress,like french royalty.’
‘I’d hardly call myself french royalty though it’s flattering of you to say.’
‘You truly are beautiful Gisele.Your looks haven’t faded one bit.’
‘I haven’t had a compliment since….Lord Henry.’
‘You miss him?’
‘I can’t help it Mari,but he know belongs to another.’
‘That ring on your finger should mean something to you Gis.’
‘It used to,not anymore.I haven’t been completely honest with you ladies,London is our last chance of survival….Louisa looked ever so happy I had my chance to declare my love,but I couldn’t do it,if you saw her face you would have acted exactly the same.I acted out of kindness,the way she gazed at Lord Henry at the alter,her eyes said it all.She’s so in love with Lord Henry.’
‘And is the feeling mutual?’
‘Of course….I begged him to love her,just like her loves me.In time he will grow to love her.I mean Daniel and Sophia they are the prime example of making things work.The downpoint was my Maid of Honour gown was peagreen.’
‘I bet you’re face was a picture?’ scoffed Evangaline.
‘I detest the colour,there was ruffles and everything,and standing next to his little miss perfect in every way sister Lady Ana.Who’s built like a gazelle,and I’m the exact opposite.’
‘You’re perfect Gisele.’smiled Letitia.
‘What was Lord Henry’s brother Arthur like?’ asked Holly. ‘Was he as dreamy as his brother?’
‘I shall ignore that comment Holly…I didn’t have the opportunity of meeting Lord Arthur?’
‘Pity.’ sighed Holly.
‘Honestly Holly,don’t you ever listen to a word Mama is saying?’ scolded Evangaline.
‘Not if I can help it.I only listen to the relevant bits.’ said Holly.
‘Well.’ continued Evangaline. ‘He’s here on business.’
‘Oh I wonder if Mama has invited him to the ball.’
‘Heaven help us all.’ laughed Marianna. ‘It truly is lovely to have you home Gisele.’

A little while later,Marianna and the others had made their way downstairs.Rule number one in the Delessop’s rule book is:Never under any circumstances keep the Dowager waiting.Lady Antoinette grows impatient,I said I would join them later for I was putting the final touches to my outfit.Tonight I opted for a white crystal gown,which I had hand made on a visit to Paris.Gazing into the mirror at my dressing table,staring back was a very tired woman not a lady who is in her twenties.I carefully brushed my long blonde hair.I aught to cut it but Mama would never forgive me.One hundred painstakingly strokes a day that I have to endure.Just like Mama used to when I was a little girl.I placed my hair brush down and placed my white feathered fascinator in it.Out of the corner of my eye I noticed my music box I had as a child.Mama must have kept it as a keep sake? It was beautiful pink colour with a pretty white ribbon wrapped around it for fine detail.I opened it,and just as I remember inside was a beautiful ballerina pirouetting around and around.Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake was the soundtrack playing in the background.I have fond memories of this ballet,Oliver had kindly bought tickets when we were first newly engaged.It was sweet of him,how I wish I could go back to those days.I was so in love with him,I’m more like Odile the treacherous black swan.For I’m no longer the pure white swan Princess Odette,praying that my Prince Siegfried ,Lord Henry would rescue me.So I can become that girl again that girl I used to know,his sweet and pure Odette.Some would beg to differ,I have behaved anything but sweet.But Benjamin saw behind that,he was able to remove the mask I shelter behind and reveal the true me.Now my Prince Siegfried is living a lie in Versailles,just like I am in London.Maybe Jack was right? When he set out to kill me at Lady Isabelle’s,I am pure evil.There was a knock at the door.
‘Come in.’
Oliver boldly opened the bedchamber door.
‘Oliver?’
‘Lady Antoinette has sent her orders to ask what’s keeping you so long?’
‘I’m making myself look beautiful for you,I wouldn’t dream of keeping the Dowager waiting.’
‘The Lady grows impatient.’
‘Does she know? Well the Lady can wait a bit longer then can’t she?’
‘Touche.’
Oliver looked over and started to admire my music box.
‘Swan Lake?’
He sat down beside me.
‘I thought you’d kept it in pristine condition? I remember taking you to see the ballet when you and I started dating.’
‘Engaged you mean?’
‘I call it a whirl wind romance.’
‘I didn’t exactly give you an easy start did I?’
‘I quite liked the thrill of the chase? I admired your honesty Gisele.’
‘I was wrong about you Oliver,I’m sorry I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.’
‘I gave you a single white flower.’
‘It was a lily.’
‘I was never good with flowers.’
It was such a tender sweet moment,a very rare occasion.How I long to recapture the happiness we had once more all I have left is a bittersweet taste in my mouth.
‘I remembered that day how beautiful you were,I’m regret not telling you as often as I should?’
‘All we have left is pain and torture,I wish we could get back our happy times.’ I smiled.
‘Maybe if I told you then you wouldn’t have strayed from my side?’
‘Don’t.’
‘Look at you know,standing here in front of me,still playing hard to get.My wife forever the temptress.’
Oliver started to run his fingers my neck,I tried to fight it. ‘I’ve missed you.’
I slowly turned around and gazed at him.I draped my arms around the back of his neck. ‘I’ve missed you too Olly.’I sighed.
‘Well come to me.’ he begged.
Once upon a time,words like that would make me fall into his arms immediately.But where is the love between us? All I can think of is Lord Henry,he looked at me with his big puppy dog eyes,all I felt was pity for him.
‘All right.’ I whispered.
He kissed me.
‘Mama?’
He gently touched my lips to silence me.
‘Hush now,I’m sure Lady Antonette can spare us a moment longer?’
He closed the door behind him.

A little while later,we lay there unable to move.Palm to palm together,he kissed me once more.I should feel happy that Olly and I have finally got our marriage back on track.But I’d give absolutely anything to be lying here with Lord Henry,I wonder if he is in Versailles thinking of me? I close my eyes and I still picture his face.It’s beginning to get to me,but I may never have him laying in my arms,him kissing my hair and whispering sweet nothings into my ear.Just watching the world go by,all of my memories turn to dust.I shielded my face away from him,and quietly shed a tear.
I turned to face Olly. ‘Sorry darling,I was miles away.’
‘Open your heart to me Gis.’
‘You ask me that everytime.’
‘I thought that you and I were making progress?’
‘It’s nothing.’ I sighed.
‘Are you happy Gisele?’
‘You know I am.’I lied.
‘You and I could be happy in London.I just know it,for we shall buy a perfect house,with plenty of acres of land for you to ride Quinn and for the girls to enjoy Misty,Skye would adore it….It would have the most luxurious stables that only money can buy.Anything you have ever desired,could be yours at the snap of my fingers.’
‘You can’t buy my love Oliver.’
‘That’s your trouble Gisele,you always jump to conclusions.We are the cream of London society Lady Rickman.Women desire to be you,and gentlemen envy me for I am with you.We’re above everyone else can’t you see….I could buy you the most finest dresses in that boutique you adore,no in fact I could buy you the boutique.’
‘I do not wish to be bought.’
‘I could offer you the world.’
‘You have nothing to prove to me.’
‘And maybe…’
‘What you’re scaring me?’
‘Maybe in say two or three years down the line,we could think of giving Esme and Ava a new brother or sister?’
‘How dare you!’
‘Have I said something wrong?’
‘Abusing William’s memory in that way.I never thought my husband could be so heartless? It’s barely been five minutes since we kissed our son goodbye!’
‘Maybe if Esme was my daughter then I’d…’
‘I thought you loved Esme?’
‘I do!’
‘I can not deal with this right now! I thought you loved her as your own? Why make a hurtful remark such as that,throwing everything we stood for back in my face? How would Esme truly feel if she heard you say that? She would be broken hearted! My little girl respects you,looks up to you as a father.Her own father was a monster…I’ve heard it all know!’
‘Maybe if Lord Henry was asking you to have a child,then you would jump at the opportunity.’
‘I can not believe I am hearing this?’
‘When you were lying there,where you thinking of him?’
I broke away from him. ‘Don’t be so absurd.’
‘I gave you everything Gisele,my heart and soul.’
‘I offered you the chance to leave.’
‘I love you so much Gisele…You’re my wife,you should start and behave like one!’
I started to get changed.
‘Can you give me a hand with fastening my corset?’
‘Where are you going?’
‘We can’t leave the Lady waiting any more can we?’
‘Gisele?’
‘Don’t you touch me!’
‘I thought you asked for my help?’
‘I’ve changed my mind,I can manage without your help Lord Rickman…I’ll never forgive you for what you said about Esme.’
I made my way downstairs and brushed past Mama in the ball room.’
‘Whatever has got into that girl?’ asked Lady Antoinette.
‘I’ll go and talk to her.’ said Letitia.
I made my way toward’s the butler’s, where they were attending to the guests with the champagne.I happily took two champagne glasses. ‘Thank you Barton.’ I smiled.
I felt a hand upon my shoulder.
Before you start lecturing me Letty,for I have a lot of catching up to do.’
‘What has got into you child?’
Letitia dragged into a corner.
‘Since when did you transform into the Dowager?’
‘And when did you start calling Mama that?’
‘That’s Lord Henry’s secret name for her.’ I laughed.
‘So you think drinking yourself into oblivion isn’t going to help.’
‘It will numb the pain.’
‘Has something happend?’
‘Oliver wants another child.’
‘And what did you say?’
‘That it’s bad timing,I’m still grieving for my son…I know I should move on.He then threw it back in my face about being Esme not being his.’
‘Oh my poor Gisele.’
‘That’s not all,he began to tug at my heart strings…saying if it was Lord Henry asking this then I wouldn’t deny him of that priviledge.
‘He’s finally lost it.’
‘Oliver lost it a long time ago Letty.’
‘I hope you denied it?’
‘Of course I denied it…I didn’t look him in the eye and say yes Olly darling.Your darling little Wifey has been happily screwing your sister’s fiance’ for weeks!’
‘Shh keep your voice down Gis.’
‘It’s like a scene from Shakespeare.I don’t know what to do.’
‘You chose to walk away from Lord Henry,when you allowed the wedding to go ahead.I suggest you the part.You played with fire and my word you certainly got your fingers burnt.You mustn’t allow Mama to discover the truth.’
‘He then said that I aught to be behaving like a wife…Declan was right all of those years ago,I’m nothing to him.Oliver see’s me only as property.His pretty young thing,He doesn’t love Ava he’s more interested that I bore him a son…and I denied him that through William dying.He’s never going to let me go is he?’
Holly and Evangaline are sat at the side secretly admiring Benjamin’s brother Lord Arthur from afar.
‘He is simply divine isn’t he?’ swooned Holly.
‘I’m Lady Antoinette’s daughter no one refuses me Holly.’
‘And being Lady Antoinette’s daughter mean’s something does it?’
‘It worked for Gisele.’
Holly and Evangaline were whispering and giggling amongst one another,not a care in the world.Oliver was on the other side of the ball room,keep his distance I should imagine? We’re world’s apart.I was just kidding myself when Lord Rickman asked me to marry him.I thought I could actually be the woman of his dreams,all of his illusions are shattered.Maybe I should have stepped aside and allowed Lady Rosaline to have him.I would have avoided all of this heartache and pain.
‘Whatever’s the matter?’
‘No matter how hard I try,I shall not escape the ghost of my lover Lord Henry.’
‘Compose yourself petit Gisele.Looking at him,he was no where near as handsome as his brother.Lord Arthur had much sharper features.How could he possibly be related to the beautiful Benjamin and the beautiful and fair Lady Ana.
‘Lady Gisele.’
I curtsied him as he addressed me by name.’
‘Lord Henry.’ He politely bowed.
‘Forgive me,where are my manners? May I introduce my sister the Lady Letitia?’
‘My Lady.’
‘He kissed Letitia’s hand,I looked at Letitia she started to blush a little crimson.
‘I’m glad that I’m not the only one not to be effected by the Lord Henry charm?’ I teased.
‘Hold your tongue.’ She cleared her throat. ‘As flattered as I am but….I’m ever so sorry my Lord,but my husband Mark is awaiting for me?’
With that Letitia left us alone.
‘Bringing a man into the family with no money,quite the scandal is it not?’
‘Titles shouldn’t interfere in the course of true love.’ I abruptly changed the subject. ‘How is Lord Benjamin finding married life?’
‘Pretty good I should imagine? They have taken a few months break to Italy.’
‘I didn’t think Lord Henry was taking Louisa on a honeymoon break?’
‘Lord Henry had a sudden change of heart.’
‘Did he know Lord Arthur?’
The thought of Lord Benjamn dining on the finest cuisine and dancing till the break of dawn was killing me.Evangaline and Holly walked over.
‘Lord Henry,we have been waiting ever so patiently for you to ask us to dance.Do you realise it is ever so rude to keep a Lady waiting?’ said Holly.
‘Forgive my sister’s bold little outburst.’I sighed.
‘Naughty Lord Henry,tut tut.’ said Evangaline.
‘The ladies Holly and Evangaline.’
Lord Arthur bowed ‘Please do not apologise on behalf of your sister’s Lady Rickman.So naughty am I? Lady Evangaline,hasn’t your Mama ever told you never judge a book by it’s cover?’
‘So sorry my Lord.’ blushed Evangaline.’I do not mean to be outspoken.’
‘Do not apologise Lady Evangaline,I admire your boldness.’
‘It’s tradition gone mad?’ I whispered to Holly. ‘What has happend to the old fashioned way of a gentleman approaching a Lady to dance? It never did me any harm?’
‘We’re not all blessed like you,besides times are changing Gisele.’
Lord Henry boldly took hold of Evangaline’s hand,I detect that Holly is a tad hurt to be left out.
‘Lord Arthur,I shall be delighted.’ smiled Evangaline.
Lord Arthur led Evangaline to the centre of the dance floor.Holly looked on,ever the green eyed monster
‘Do my eyes deceive me,or do I detect a touch Lady Holly is a tad jealous?’
‘What’s with everything I’ve ever wanted,and I mean really yearned for? It gets taken away from me…Carl,Lord Benjamin…they all seem to gravitate towards you in the end?’
‘Is that what you truly think of me?’
‘I envy Gisele.You’re so beautiful.’
‘So are you.’
‘I’m just skin and bone.’
‘Oh Holly sweet heart,my beauty has been nothing but a curse…..Constantly surrounded by gentlemen,but nothing but misfortune attached to them.Ever since I was fifteen years old and I was forced into an arranged marriage with Duke Matthew.I’ve had nothing but bad luck….To Matthew I was nothing but a piece of meat.A challenge to Declan and Benjamin…it was nothing but lust between the sheets.I grow tired of it all,I want healing…You have youth and time on your side.Something I have not.Holly you appear to be a grown woman,but you’re just a baby in disguise.If Lord Arthur isn’t the gentlemen for you? Then more fool him.I’m sure there’s plenty of gentlemen out there fighting for your hand in marriage.Take my advice,don’t rush into marriage the same way that I did.’
©Sarahcarty2013.wordpress.com

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