I stood up and slowly walked away from him,it’s happened quicker than I had realise.Lord Henry has finally grown frightfully bored of my ways.He is about to confess that he has fallen in love with a beautiful young Italian aristocrat,he has no use for me anymore and I am to be left with nothing.My heart is breaking at the very prospect of this,please Benjamin do not break my heart.I waited with baited breath,he touched my hand,I smiled sweetly towards him.
‘Yes Ben my love?’
‘I know we have laid down everything down bare,stripped our hearts till there’s no more secret’s left?’
‘Oh my this is whatI was afraid of?’
‘I need to know where I stand Lady Rickman?’
I sat back down,he bent down beside me.Looking at me with those beautiful eyes of his,in times of seriousness why do you have to look so perfect my love?
‘Am I enough for you?
‘You know that I love you Benjamin.’
‘Well all of this business with you,your entire family and Sophia?’
‘Please let’s just forget about it Lord Henry.’
‘I detect your hiding something from me? When you address me in such a way? Are you ashamed of me?’
‘I could never be ashamed of you…As I was writing my letter to Sophia,placing my pen to parchment.I was thinking of all of the reasons why I shouldn’t be with you? Against why I should?’
‘And your verdict is Lady Rickman?’
‘Beneath it all,it’s just little things on a piece of paper.Pro’s and cons mean nothing.I tried as I might to fight against my feelings for you.But before pride there comes a fall.I mean I could easily return to London come crawling back into Oliver’s arms.Raising our girl’s and forget you ever existed? We don’t have the history yet.But we can build upon that,watching you today…expressing your feelings about Louisa and what you did to her? It proved that you weren’t cold hearted nor is it made of stone?…What you’re doing now with me,you demonstrated a sincere and pure heart.’
I took hold of Benjamin’s left hand and kissed it tenderly. ‘Today I witness a broken man standing before me,and that all because of me.’
‘You will never be able to see Ana and Arthur,your whole family and I can’t bare to see your whole life crumbling.Everything I touch turns to dust…The whole effect I have on you.’
‘You’re right I’ve barely been able to catch my breathe.’
‘I can run all I like from my past.But it will always catch up with me.All of my life I have been forever competing with my sister’s for my Mama’s affection.I was passed from nanny to nanny,I fought so hard to get her to love me.I was so desperate marrying Oliver was my last resort,and by george I finally gained her respect…I’ve messed around toying with gentleman’s emotions.Every day towards the end with Oliver,was a power struggle. I would have died if I stayed with him.I’m not with you,for your money.I’m not some poor little rich girl,crying into my cold tea.Ran away from Mama,when the going gets tough that isn’t my style.I’m open and honest,what you see is what you get.’
I looked at him and fluttered my eyes. ‘And pray tell me Lord Henry.What do you see?’
‘I see you.’
‘That Lord Henry is so lame,good job you’ve already captured this girls heart…and the bottom line is I was kind of afraid that you finally got you’re wicked way with me? You’d throw me out into the cold?’
‘I’d never do that to you? How do I know if I am able to trust you Gisele? I am judging by your past performance what you did to Oliver full of false promises…’
‘I want it to be special between us? So many questions,I have for you.I am so scared but I’m so in love with you…youre a breathe of fresh air to me.You breathe fire and passion to us.Starting this journey all over again.I shall say yes Lord Henry to an engagement.’
Lord Henry ever the gentleman,politely led me upstairs.He looked deeply into my eyes,even in the shadows that one look with his beautiful piercing eyes.Always manages to empower me.Lord Henry paused for breathe,to light a few candles to create the ambience.Is this his part of his plan to entice me keep me longing,wanting more.He scattered some rose petals onto the bed.He walked slowly towards me,and took me into his arms.His hands moved slowly down to my waist,sending shivers down my spine.
‘I can almost lose myself in those eyes of yours?’
‘No more pretending…we can bravely step out into society.Maybe set a date?’
‘Don’t get too ahead of yourself Lord Henry.I only agreed to an engagement.Please don’t raise your left eye brow at me Ben,Louisa is still your wife if only in name and not of body.I know you do not care for her…and I’m not seperated from Oliver,I’m still bound to him,there I said it.Then there will soon come a time,when we’ll have to face the music in London.’
‘You said you’d never set foot in London again?’
‘Maybe if I went back and explained myself maybe she may find it in his heart to forgive me? He could see how happy I am?…’
‘Gisele,please don’t spoil the moment.’
‘I forgot you can be so domineering sometimes?’
He silenced me one swift move of brushing my hair away from my face and I was thrust into his arms.He started to kiss me,I pushed him towards the wall I slowly started to remove my dress.I was standing before him in my corset and stockings,my eyes inviting him in.We made love,it was so perfect no more hiding or sneaking behind anyone’s back.Tonight it was about us,and I have never felt so happier.
The next day,as I lay in Benjamin’s arm I thought never could tare us apart,that was until I received a letter I was dreading the most from the dowager the high and almighty.Lady Antoinette Delessop.All of a sudden there was a black cloud hanging over us.I never thought I’d ever have to hide in the shadows from my Mama.
I never thought you would bring shame on us once more
And yet here you are now,living in sin with Lord Henry.
I had to force you’re where abouts out of your mousy
Your sister’s and I are fine thanks,so much for your kind
As for Oliver and Louisa,they are too afraid to show their
faces in polite society.
Whatever possessed you my child! You swore after Sir
Holmes and that scandal with Carl’s killer never to look
at another man.
Yet here you are,embarking on a passionate affair,with
your sister-in-law’s husband.
Well you shall be pleased to know you have once again
made a mockery of us.
Thank heaven’s Esme and Ava don’t realise they have a
slut for a Mother.
And as for your dear papa,Lord William you coverting
with Sir Holmes killed him.
I never blamed you before,but he’d still be here if it
wasn’t for your foolishness.
Why couldn’t you be normal like Marianna and Letitia
Didn’t like Lucille’s death teach you nothing at all?
Well mark my words,don’t you come crawling back to me
when everything falls apart.
I never want to see you again.
I sunk down on to the bed.
‘It’s finally happend…I don’t feel too good.’
‘I need some water.’
‘Sweet heart you’ve gone pale all of a sudden?’
Lord Benjamin passed me some water,my hands were shaking.
‘Mama has never addressed me in such a way so cold…she called me a whore? My own Mother,she’s well and truly washed her hands of me.I’m a courtesan in her eyes? I’m the feline,I’ve used up my ninth life.’
Hearing Esme sounding so distressed,calling out to me in such a way.Caught me off my guard.
‘Let Nancy see to her.’
Nancy is our current nanny that has just started working for us.Hardly like Charlotte or the nanny’s of the past.Nancy appears weak and feeble naive.But she’s meek and so full of kindness.Esme and Ava need another strong female influence in their lives,and maybe just maybe she may become that in time.
‘As you wish my love.’ I smiled.
‘You know it is my heart’s desire to see you smile again.’
He handed me a box.
‘What is this?’
‘Open it and see.’
It was a beautiful pink and white gown,encrusted in crystals,it felt so heavy Ive never known a dress like it.Where had he been to get it? No one has ever gone out of there way to do something like this for me.Not even Oliver.’
‘I’ve never seen a gown like this before?’
I recall you saying you don’t like to follow in the footsteps of fashion to merely copy, is like lambs being led to the fashion slaughter.’
‘I don’t recall saying that?’
‘That’s mainly one of the reasons why I fell in love with you Gisele Rickman,you’re one of a kind.This my beautiful masked swan has been made by one of the finest dress makers in Italy.’
‘Can we afford it?’
‘Can’t I give my bestow my heavenly beloved a gesture of my sweet and tender love?’
‘You tell me you love me everyday.You know I can’t offer you anything?’
‘I’m not with you for your money Lady Rickman.’
‘Lord Henry,you have nothing to prove to me.For you have certainly excelled yourself.’
‘Lady Rickman,we are to dine in the company of the divine and beautiful Countess Katerina and her equally delightful,husband the Count Sebastian Stewart.’
‘Why is there a problem my Lady?’
‘No,there isn’t a problem my Lord.’ I smirked to myself.
‘You could perhaps wear your white lace gloves I gave you?’
‘Perhaps.’I teased him?
‘There is a time and a place to unveil your inner playfulness and impish ways.Tonight is not an occasion to do so? The Count and Countess have a reputation to keep and may I remind you they are the finest Italy has to offer,they are practically royalty.’
‘Gisele,I am being serious for once,I’m proud of you my dear girl.I’ve been singing your praises for months to these people,you’ll have them eating out of the palm of your hand.’
‘You said a moment ago that they are delightful?’
‘It’s a dog eat dog world out there Gis,sometimes you need to lie to reach the cream of the crop.No harm in that,all’s fair in love and war as they say? It’s about time I didn’t keep you all to myself and started showing you off to the world?’
‘So what am I to you? Your shiny new toy? I’m not that type of girl anymore.You know what I’m like in awkward situations? I act all shy and blush a little.I’m nobody’s puppet Lord Henry.’
‘Nonsense they will adore you,Gain their approval and the whole of society will flock.’ He cleared his throat. ‘I’m fully aware that you’re nobody’s fool.’
‘I don’t think I can…’
‘Gisele,it’s about time you lived your life and stopped living in the shadows.You’re so hung up on your faults and insecurities? You’re so painfully beautiful when you act so naive…
maybe this could be a chance to redeem yourself? Allow society to fall in love with your typical french charm and wit? And if word reaches London it will be not of scandal.But how the whole of Italy has fallen under this mysterious womans spell.Stiff upper lip Gis and show Lady Antoinette what she’s lost? It’s your time to make her green with envy,and Louisa wild with jealously? And maybe just maybe,this could be a golden opportunity to announce our engagement? Show my fiancee’ off on my arm?’
‘I’m draping off nobody’s arm and I haven’t said yes yet?’
‘Please,do not pressurise me over a decision Ben.’
‘It’s a simple yes or no answer?’
‘I’ve always dreamt of this day,Lady Gisele speechless in my prescence?’
I hit him playfully. ‘I don’t want you getting too big headed,and certainly not to get any ideas that are too above your station?’ I laughed.
‘Never.Don’t tell me you’re getting cold feet? You said yes to an engagement earlier?’
‘I don’t know..wouldn’t that be rather improper ?’
‘So what if we are both tied to Louisa and Oliver.’
I care,a great deal.’
‘We should be living in the here and now.Not constantly trying to undo your past wrong doings?Didn’t Carl’s death teach you that?’
‘What are you to be sorry for?’
‘Sorry for holding back,my head and heart are saying different things.Sorry for acting so scared and vulnerable.What if word reached London?’
‘Haven’t you been punished enough? We’re not living in the dark ages now Gis? Stoning went out of fashion,a long time ago.I don’t give a jot about Lady Henry or about Lady Antoinette’s thought.I know she’s your Mama, but she can be so heartless,closing her mind to the world around her.Only her opinions count,she can go to hell as far as I’m concerned.’
‘You will burn in hell for speaking ill of the Dowager?’
‘She may have called me those names,but I still love her.Despite it all,she’s my Mama…no one can undo that powerful bond,between mother and daughter.’
‘Well let her put me to death?’
‘Surely you don’t mean that?’
‘Lady Antoinette is not worthy of kindness from your lips? How can you be so forgiving?’
‘I have a duty to Oliver,as Esme and Ava’s mother.I’m still bound to him.’
‘Do you think Ava and Esme will think any less of you? They love you and only want what’s best for you,to see their Mama happy.As for Lady Antoinette,I understand that you share an unbreakable bond.But she has no right over your movements.It broke my heart,to see you crumble in front of me.A mother should never call her daughter such vile things.She doesn’t deserve your tears….An engagement announcment will be perfect way to seal the deal,cement the foundation of our love.Show the world that you and I are for keeps,and no longer a mockery to our families?’
‘Seal the deal?
‘Why is their a problem with my choice of words?’
‘You make us sound so sordid?’
‘Living proof that we can stand the test of time,no more fooling around,it’s time for me to man up to my responsibilities.Time to prove myself to you,that I can be worthy of your love?’
‘Ben,you have nothing to prove to me.’
A little while later,I was in the bed chamber,getting changed for Countess Katerina and Count Sebastian Stewart’s dinner party,Esme and Ava had been bathed and changed.I read them their bedtime story and now they were tucked in their beds and sound asleep.Dreaming,sweet dreams of mermaids and pirates and flying through the air towards Never Never Land with Tinkerbell.I was alone,immersing myself in this rare moment of peace and tranquility.Silence finally ran through the house,I could almost hear a pin drop,I opted to have my hair down for this occasion.I placed my butterfly clip from Marianna in my hair.All I could feel was bittersweet memories,times like this I really miss my sister.Especially when I need to fasten my wretched corset! There was a knock upon the door.
Nancy came in,she looked ever so nervous.Like a rabbit caught in the head lights.I briefly removed my attention away from the mirror,to see what they had to say. ‘Are the children ok Nancy?’
‘Esme woke up,do not be alarmed.’
‘Is she ok?’
‘She was having a bad dream my lady.’
‘Does she need me to stay with her?’
‘Some warm milk,a warm embrace and quiet soothing words did the trick.Do you need my assistance Lady Rickman?’
I turned around and saw Lord Henry standing in the door way.
‘No thank you Nancy.’ I smiled sweetly. ‘I think Lord Henry can take it from here.You may return to your post.’
Nancy politely curtsied and vacated the room.
‘Darling,I need your assistance with my corset?’
Lord Henry came behind and assisted with my corset,my hair draped over my left shoulder.
‘You are going to look breathtaking with your hair down.’
‘I’m merely rebelling.’
‘Mama taught me that if a Lady reached a certain age,she aught to wear her hair up in polite society,use her eyes to invite gentlemen in.Only wear your hair down in your bedchamber and away from prying eyes.But since she isn’t here,I don’t have to follow the strict Delessop code of etiquette and honour.’
‘Have you been crying my fallen angel?’
I slowly slipped into my gown and began to fix my diamante encrusted earrings onto my ear lobes.
‘It’s a perfect fit,clings in all of the right places.’
‘Now where are those white lace gloves?’
Lord Henry grasped hold of my wrist. ‘Gisele,stop throwing me off guard and changing the subject.’
‘I don’t mean to.’
‘Esme,she is my daughter too.’
‘You see her as your daughter?’
‘I’ve spent so many nights,trying to comfort her.’
‘I didn’t ask you to?’
‘I did it because I wanted to,she is a bright young star shining ever so brightly.I can see an impish look about her.Resembelance of her Mama?’
‘That’s so sweet of you Ben,Nancy upset me…she didn’t intend to.She had to comfort Esme,when it’s my job to do that.She was experiencing a bad dream…I fear it’s about her evil killer of a father again.Ever since Oliver wickedly unveiled the truth about her father.She hasnt been the same,the dynamics between her and Ava have changed.It’s like Es resents Ava for having her father in her life and she is yet to find her true self.She’s been bed wetting,screaming out into the night.No little girl should have to suffer like that?’
‘Why didn’t you tell me?’
‘It isn’t your burden to share…’
‘Of course it is,when you hurt I hurt.’
‘Oh Ben,I’m so ashamed of my behaviour.It’s damaged my perfect little girl,and as I first feared I’m slowly turning into my Mama.’
‘What that old crow?’
‘Careful what you say,these four walls have eyes and ears.It’ll be the death penalty for you? Perhaps a public hanging?’
‘I think I’ve got the strength,body and stamina for that?’
I smiled. ‘I see my Ladyship is smiling that knowing smile of hers? Do you approve of my body?’
‘Now is not the time to act so frivoulous and risque’ Benjamin?’
‘I love it when you address me by my full name?’
He kissed my ear lobe.
‘Not now Ben.’
‘I’m disgusted with myself,I vowed never to leave my children in the care of the nanny.A nanny they’ve barely known five minutes? After trusting Charlotte for so long,I’m abandoning them in their time of need? I feel so guilty.’
‘It’s just a few hours my love and you’ll be back by the time they’ve opened their eyes.Besides don’t you think it’s about time you emerged from your glass chrysalis and set this butterfly free?’
He took hold of my hand,and led me out of the room.We left in complete silence.Ok,so now he is using this butterfly and chrysalis analogy again? He is right,it is about time I set this prisoner free.I’m like a phoenix rising from the ashes once more.How have I got like this,I’ve turned from a social butterfly,who once revelled upon circulating and being lost in polite conversation,to a recluse.I never told Ben of this,but Italy constantly holds reminders of Carl and when he fled to Italy after his confession of killing his brother.It broke my heart seeing him so consumed with guilt,recalling this painful memory.
‘I have a black heart Gis.’
‘No,your brother was a monster.He deserved to die.’
‘Haven’t you punished yourself enough? Carl if you keep this up,your guilt will trap and consume you.All the goodness I know and love about you,it will destroy you.’
‘You love me?’
‘Of course.’ I smiled.
‘Have you told Oliver?’
‘No and nor shall you,there will be no confessions of the heart tonight?’
‘Husband’s and wive’s shouldn’t have secrets?’
‘If your’e referring to Lord Henry,then alas it is over.’
The memory faded.Tears ran down my cheeks,you cheated death so many times so many near death experiences when we were children but it finally caught up to you in the end.And Ben? I felt guilty concealing this dark secret from him.But this wasn’t my cross to bare,I looked at him and he looked so rugged and yet so handsome dressed up to the nines in a top hat and tails? That’s a new experience,I am his mistress for the time being.My mind started to wander,I wonder what life is like in London? Has it changed awfully much? Has that russian witch the Lady Tatiana Aleksandrov finally her claws into my husband? She is welcome to him,as far as I’m concerned there the perfect match,so cold and shut down.They can marry and turn New Dawn Estate,into a military run household.We’re there children will be seen and not heard,walk in perfect lines,never slouch at the dinner table.Sing in perfect harmony at recitals.Have names like Olaf or if Oliver gets his way Hector or Hugh.She can give him the heir that I could never give him.Oh Ben,he’s perfectly right society is changing and I am still struggling to be accepted.I shouldn’t keep hiding in the shadows,I should be proud of who I am,and what we’ve become.
‘What’s preying on your mind my love?’
‘Thinking about London,what we’ve lost and left behind…’
‘It’ll only upset you?’
‘I wonder if Oliver has finally made a mistress out of Tatiana? Oh Ben,you can not deny she was all over him like a rash? Well she can have him.I’m no longer Oliver’s muse.He can finally have what he’s always wanted.His perfect little wifey who will stand in line and obey his every command.Have his beautiful children,have the rightful heir that I couldn’t give him.’
‘Gis,don’t let him upset you…We will have all of that…The beautiful children,a perfect marriage.Our own home and estate for me to Lord over.Then we can return to London,and laugh at those who tried to tare us apart with their campaign of hate…words full of venom.We’ve beat the odds,besides you are worth ten of that russian harlot.’
We travelled to the grande estate,that belonged to the Count and Countess,I felt overwhelmed as it was the first time I was stepping out into society with Lord Henry.My knees started to tremble,but I wasn’t prepared to allow this whole new experience to faze me.
As we entered the hall,I glanced at the ceiling I was lost for words,the architechture was out of this world.So perfect in design,cherubs in a circle,surrounded by white pink and gold flowers.I shed a tear of appreciation,such beauty.Every little detail so beautifully handcrafted I must get the name of the artiste.The stairway sloped down,looked like heaven itself,designed to perfection it looked like a replica of the Titanic stairway.I was in my element,so excited to share this with some one.Times like this I do wish Tom was here,to appreciate such beauty.We drifted apart since I left London,oh I do hope he’s found it in his heart to forgive me.I adored Reinette and miss her beautiful little girl Lucille.I didn’t mean to abuse his good nature.For I did intend to live in New Dawn Estate I had helped design it,and fell in love with the place.I was involved in every painstaking detail and decision.It was part of my plan to try again with Oliver.Tried to fight it as I might,but my heart truly belonged to Benjamin despite him belonging to Louisa.He may not share my appreciation with fine architechture,but he certainly excelled himself far beyond my expectations with my beautiful hand made gown.I felt like a princess,it looks like a dream sweeping to the floor.The bodice clinging in all of the right places.Lord Henry is right,it does look alluring.I know what was on his mind when he got it personally designed.Though I do admire him for doing such a sweet gesture,I don’t know how I shall ever repay him. I shall forever be in his debt? Though I can repsy him in kindness,by throwing all caution to the wind and finally accepting Lord Henry’s hand in marriage.I simply can not wait for him to make an honest lady out of me.
I could picture myself living in a house,that’s on a grande scale such as this.Ben and I raising our children,endless parlour games in the drawing room.While the children play hide and seek till their hearts content.Maybe I could persuade Ben to allow us to have a dog,I’ve always wanted to have a dalmation or a golden retriever? Maybe Lord Henry would organise some events,fox hunting,clay pigeon shooting and go pheasant shooting in the grounds? Bring some of London’s traditions to the heart of Italy? I’m completely against blood sport,but who am I to take his biggest passion away from him? I do recall Oliver,he used to go clay pigeon shooting at the start of our marriage.If only I walked out of my marriage before the prospect of children came into the whole equation? Too late now,a toffee nosed footman gave us strict instructions to head for the main hall.Lord Henry clutched hold of my hand.I could sense he was nervous too and this was a whole new experience to him too.
‘I’m nervous too.’ I smiled. ‘I mean how are you going to introduce me? Countess Katerina,Count Sebastian may I introduce you to my mistress Lady Gisele Rickman..when can you be fully mine?’
Right on cue,Lord Henry went down upon bended knee.
‘Have you dropped something Ben?’
‘I didn’t intend to do it here.’
‘People are staring.’
‘I thought of doing this over a champagne and candle lit dinner accompanied by truffles and canape’s followed by a waltz…then watching the sun set ending up lying by the moon lit lake,not uttering a word.Just gazing and long for another.I know you said not to be too hasty.And I am breaking all of the rules.As I am still married to Louisa.But I don’t want to lose you,you have lit up my life.You and your girls have changed my world and all for the better.Gisele Tara Anastacia,will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?’
‘Yes,yes I will.’
Lord Henry picked me up and spun me around.
‘I think some champagne bubbles and chocolate truffles are due,Lord Henry.’ I teased.
He then kissed me,and I just melted into his arms.
‘Hush now,don’t you cry.’
Am I acting too fast? I realuse now that I have a well known reputation in using my impulsiveness and maybe acted a little rash in making decisions.Really I should stop and analysise the situation from every possible angle.For this is a serious matter,hardly a life or death situation but this changes all of our lives forever.I jumped in at the deep end with Lord Rickman,merely to please my Mama and look at how that ended up.I have my girls feelings to consider.I know they are young and have been incredibly braves with all of the changes they’ve had to endure.But they are at an impressionable age,constantly looking for a role model to idolise and look up to.Will they embrace and accept Lord Henry as a father,or will they forever consider him as a stand in replacement to their own father? I do not know the answers to any of these questions,life is a one big riddle full of twists and turns.But I do know that I’m getting swept away,for I can not imagine my life without him.I need to build up my confidence I have lost,return to London,show my assertiveness.Look my husband in the eye and admit that I do not love him.I realise now that I should not have acted like that in the first place,taking the cowardly way out.I am crying because Mari,Letty,Evangaline and Holly should be standing here with me,sharing and celebrating this moment with me.I realise it is not the first time I’ve celebrated my engagement before.But until now I’ve never known love to be so true.I looked up at Benjamin,and captured his beautiful eyes in the light,he held me waist and kissed me so tenderly upon the head.The moment was ruined was when the dinner gong was rang.Little did we know it was the final gong,as previously before Lord Henry’s beautiful proposal,we where all in single files.Behaving like perfect little public school children into the main hall.Lord Rickman would have loved all of this,the military operation and strict code of practice.I could never live my life like this.We looked around the line had dispersed around us,and we were alone.I feared Lord Benjamn and I were to be severely punished by the Countess,as though she was some stern school Mistress.As we were one of the few that were brave enough to be late,venturing into the unknown.
‘Here we are at last,entering the lion’s den?’
‘Stop exaggerating Gisele.’
‘I’m not…look at Countess Katerina’s stern face.’
‘Smile darling….remember eyes and teeth,I can handle this.Trust me?’
‘I trust you,but it’s not you I’m afraid of.She’s looking towards me as though she is a stern school mistress and I’m a petulant naughty little school girl about to be introduced to lines?’
‘Pray,tell me did you ever to write lines?’
‘My sister’s and I were home schooled.There was occasions,when I had to endure such torture…mouse in the school master’s chair.’
‘My soon to be nymph of a wife,was a mischievous little imp even at school?’
‘Well it serves him right,he was a frightful little man.So full of his own importance,and the dress Mama gave me to wear was ever so scratchy.’
‘Katerina will adore you,the only defect she has is she’s a stickler for time keeping?’
‘You could have warned me of that before?’
‘We had our excuses?’
‘It was all in vain,we didnt end it with a moment’s delight?’ I blushed a little. ‘Care to do the honour Lord Henry?’
I passed him my engagement ring.
‘Lady Gisele Rickman.’
I corrected him. ‘Delessop?’
‘Lady Gisele Tara Anastacia Delessop.Will you do me the honour of becoming mine?’
He slipped my engagement ring on,it’s such a perfect fit.I promise never to take it off again.’
I held my hand towards the light and looked at it with such pride.
‘I shall always look after you,starting with today. ‘Countess Stewart.’
‘Benjamin ever the gentleman,kissed the Countess upon her bony looking hand.
‘Ever so sorry for my delay,I have a perfect explanation….I mean we,I mean sorry false habit of mine.’ Lord Henry nobly bowed in her honour. ‘May I be the first to introduce you to my lovely fiancee’.The fair Lady Gisele.’
Lord Henry as he promised, had the Countess weak at the knees,he still had the gift.For he had her eating out of the palm of his hand.His charm does have it’s advantages,allowing us to get out of tight and extremely awkward situations.
‘Please to meet you my dear.’
‘Countess Stewart,it is an honour to meet you at long last? I thank you for your humble invitation?’
I curtsised in her prescence,I was in complete awe for I felt as though I was in the company of italian royalty.I didn’t have to,but it pays in society to make a lasting impression.I do hope I am making the right one? For once I didn’t stumble over and make a complete fool of myself.Or rip my gown in quite an unladylike manner.
I looked at the table,there were name cards all beautifully written in gold.Looked like a lot of effort had been put into them,looked amost quaint even.I managed to locate my card.There must be some mistake? For it said Lady Gisele Rickman? No wonder the Countess smirked,I wanted to earth to swallow me up.Why didn’t Benjamin say my name was Delessop and I’m sat no where near Ben.I searched around the table casually…how could this be? He is placed next to a Duke Theodore Delaney and a Lord Tristan Brown.
‘I told you that I would handle the situation?’
‘That you did?’ I sighed.’There’s a slight problem,we’re sat apart from another?’
‘That’s absurd? I said you were my plus one.’
‘Maybe I could intervene? Say there’s been a misunderstanding and the maid servants have carelessly laid the cards out?’
‘Haven’t I been humiliated enough?’
‘You’ve lost me?’
‘My name card says Rickman not Delessop,you said you handled the invited.No wonder the Countess smirked?’
‘Nonsense it’s all inside your head?’
‘I’m not blind Ben…You haven’t taken on some empty minded bimbo who’s an insult to the whole of women kind like your first wife?’
‘I thought you adored Louisa?’
‘I merely lied to tolerate her for the sake of my husband…They’re perfectly right when they say love is blind.Her head was cluttered of utter nonsense…clouds,flowers,rainbows,butterflies.Useless poetry…and scattered full of empty dreams.Forever fantasicing that her voice would be discovered.Oh Gisele,you have the voice of an angel.I have been classically trained since I was six years old…blah blah blah.You’re so lucky Gisele that you have piano fingers,you should chase your dreams like I am…and not let your talent go to waste.’
‘She meant well?’
‘No wonder you grew bored of her? Threw her over and came to me? Honestly my love.I shall be fine.I do not wish to make a scene.’
I looked around and everyone was sat down,I couldn’t bare to make a scene.I have did that so many times in the past,much to my Mama’s disgust.Forever put down and humiliated by Lady Isabelle.For once in my life,I shall put up with it and keep a stiff upper lip.Yes I shall do that and Lord Henry shall be proud of me,I refuse to let him down today of all days.
‘I admire you new out look on life?’
‘I feel that with you by my side,I can almost achieve anything.’
It’s true Lord Henry is my salvation,I can finally see a light beaming out of my darkness.I can redeem myself and gain my place in society once more.I rose above the small minded people,who once upon a time bullied and teased me.Called me an ugly duckling I think this is where all of my insecurities about how I look stemmed from.Mama said I was fifteen years of age,and was finally relieved when I grew into my looks.
‘Gisele,you are finally something to be proud of sheer beauty.My how the genleman will come running and when they do be ready my child?’
Fifteen? Thats the time when all of the trouble started.