I was fifteen years of age,running in the meadows close by to my childhood house.With Carl,my childhood friend and confidante.I was wearing my yellow dress,straw bonnet,my hair in a simple plait.He was chasing after me,even though he was in the distance.I was feeling ever so breathless.My heart was thumping,it was getting hotter and hotter.Such a beautiful bright summer’s day.When Carl had finally caught up to me,I stumbled upon a branch and sent us both tumbling down,he fell on top of me.We were so innocent together,we briefly gazed into another’s eyes.I quickly snapped out of it.
‘I shall need your hand?’
He grasped hold of my hand,I cleared my throat and brushed myself down.’
‘Mama is going to kill me,for I’ve ruined my dress and we have such an important dinner party.It shall be frightfully dull,join us if you like? You can keep me sane.’
He picked up a daisy. ‘A flower for a flower?’ he smiled.
Thats extremely sweet of you…cut to the chase Carl,I shall be late.’
‘I’ve been plucking up the courage to say these words to you…Lady Delessop,I know I care for you a great deal.’
‘I know you do.’
‘I know you see me merely as a brother? But whenever I see you at dinner parties and balls looking so beautiful.I’d like us to be more than just friends? Gisele I think I’m in love with you.’
I had been waiting for him to say those words in such a long time…I even once summoned up the courage to say the same but I thought he only saw me as a sister.All of my dreams were beginning to come true.I have loved him from a far for so long.If only I could seek Mama’s approval.No I refuse to let her take this away from me.She always seems to steal away everything I believe in and love this shall be my little secret,a secret romance sounds like Romeo and Juliet.We could have secret meetings and I know just the place.
‘Oh Carl,I feel the same way too.’
We kissed for the first time,we had been friends for ever so long.Us as lovers,felt so perfect and right.
That was before Mama stole away my dreams of happiness and replaced them with sheer horror.Our two year romance was soon destroyed when Lady Antoinette had ideas of her own and threw me to Duke Matthew,forcing me to marry him.
I awoke from my thoughts,just as I Lord Henry kissed my hand.
‘Parting is such sweet sorrow?’
I took my place at the dinner table,beside a Lady Lara Forster,our paths hadnt crossed before maybe she was a stranger of these parts too? She was a bold looking woman,strikingly beautiful,brunette hair pinned perfectly on top of my head,her skin looked so healthy in comparison to my blonde hair and porcelain features.How I envied the stranger at the table.She was wearing a pretty maroon off the shoulder lace gown,something I wouldn’t be able to carry off.Maybe it’s the height of fashion in American society? She looked American so confident with the gentlemen.What she was wearing,makes my unique gown look inferior in comparison.I shall not tell Benjamin this,as I want to spare his feelings.The stranger boldly addressed me.
‘Lady Lara Forster.’
American accent? I was right,no wonder she oozed full of confidence and wonder.How I envy her.Oh if I could steal away the secret of her success and beauty and bottle up every ounce of it and pass it off as perfume.I could make a small fortune.
‘Lady Gisele Rickman.’
‘Oh I know who you are?’
‘Everybody knows your story around these parts?’
Even in italy,I cant even blend into their society for they all know my society.
‘You could almost write a novel on your life?’
‘I would hardly say that?’
‘Lost a sister so tragically….thought you could live happily ever after with your husband Lord Rickman.But alas left him to embark on a passionate affair with the delicious,and do I dare say handsome Lord Benjamin Henry? Who is know your fiance’ lucky thing?’
How did she know of my sister? I was quietly relieved she left quite a bit of my life blank,like a blank canvas so to speak.She tossed her head to the side,and confidently lit a cigarette,her hazel eyes inviting me in.
‘I do admire you Lady Rickman for standing by your husband for so long.I on the other hand didn’t have the stomach to.I married merely for money.Well I’m only twenty two couldn’t rely on Mammy’s money for too long.I’m merely a slip of a girl,I was trying to get on the first step of society’s ladder.I was engaged to a gentleman,he turned out to be quite a frightful man.I left my family in America and returned to London with nothing trying to prove myself….A lovely lady took me in when I had no home or hope.A Lady Isabelle Chadwick.’
So this is where she received her source of information.Im surprised she spared her the details,best friend dying in my arms my darling little boy.Sir Holmes the list is endless.
‘She is quite a remarkable woman?’
‘Quite.’ I lied. I cleared my throat. ‘I have a colourful past…nothing to be proud of.Constantly hiding in the shadows,I was involved in an abusive partnership I can speak of it now.I was too scared to leave,because of my little girl Esme….My husband…rescued me..I wasn’t with him because I was led to believe that he was dead.Long story,I do not wish to go into t.I always returned to him because I once felt safe with him,and I believed I needed him at the time.’
‘You have children? Arent you a little young?’
‘Hardly I’m twenty five.’
‘You certainly don’t look it?’
‘I fear my eyes that once looked so young….give my age away.Though your Lady is very kind,I have two beautiful little girls Lady Forster,Esme and Ava.There Nanny is taking care of them,the truth is I’d rather be with them than here making small talk.I don’t appear to be rude,but ever since William…I had a baby,he died when he barely a few days old.He was alone when it happend,I can not bare to be parted from them.’
‘I am ever so sorry to hear that such tragedy?’
‘Losing William,caused Oliver and I to grieve in different ways.The price we paid was it caused us to slowly drift apart from one another.I couldnt bare to be near him as I feared I had failed as a woman,depriving him of his son and heir.Lord Henry picked up the pieces,and he saved me from a life time of entrapment and misery.Because of these reasons,I am cut off from my family.Running off with my sister-in-law’s new husband is not acceptable to my family.Despite us falling in love out of our control.So my life as you say is a tangled web full of lies and deceit..
Lord Henry was deep in conversation with Lord Tristan Brown,talking about fox hunting and maybe setting up a possible hunt?
‘Honestly you boys and your toys?’ I rolled my eyes in Lord Henry’s direction.
This was intended to be a joke between Benjamin and I,until the Countess piped up.
‘Not a fan of blood sports Lady Rickman?’ asked Lady Katerina.
Everyone stopped their eating and immediately made a bee line for my direction.
‘No,I do not…for I think it’s such a cruel thing,allowing a poor fox to suffer at the hands of dogs?’
‘They are merely playing.’ murmoured Count Sebastian.
‘It’s in their blood.’ said Lord Tristan.
Judging by that I’ve made up my mind I do not like Lord Tristan nor do I care for Count Sebastian.Lord Tristan is so sure of himself,arrogant pig of a man.He’s a good match for the toffee nosed acquaintances of Lady Isabelle.I thought I left that sheer ignorance behind,obviously not.
I saw Lord Tristan turn to Lord Henry once more,and muttered to him under his breath. ‘She’s like a pistol…are you sure marriage is a good idea?’
‘I’m quite sure.’
‘I hope you can handle her,she can go off at any minute?’
‘I’m sure I am quite capable of looking after myself.I’m a big boy now.’
‘You say she’s a lover of horses?’
‘Some say she’s the horse whisperer.’
‘I beg to differ Lord Henry.Care to discuss our possible shoot over cigars and brandies in the drawing room later?’
I know I shouldn’t be like this after what happend in the past,between Lord Henry…clashing in such a way over our differences.And look at us now,but how dare Lord Tristan sit there and judge me over my beliefs,when he barely knows me.I feel angry and betrayed by Benjamin,how could he be arranging to meet up with that little up start? I feel it is my duty to write to Mama,and tell her of our news before word travels to London and by that I mean Lady Lara,she may appear to be friendly on the outside.But how do I know she’s not acting as a spy for Lady Isabelle,feeding back information to her.Ben is indeed right,she had no right to call me such vile and horrid things.But sadly Lady Antoinette has always been that way inclined,doubt she will change any time soon.’
‘I escaped to Italy to get away from any tittle tattle and that’s were I met my current fiance’.
‘Oliver and I…we weren’t always perfect you see we briefly seperated I was involved with a certain someone.A Sir Declan Holmes,torn apart by unfortunate circumstances…such a long time ago.’
‘Oh aren’t we all doll?’
‘Didn’t I mention it,I’m sorry how impolite of me? May I be the first to introduce my fiance’ Sir Declan Holmes.’
He emerged out of the shadows and sat back down at the dinner table.Why cant I never ever get rid of you Declan? At least when I saw him my heart didnt beat fifty to the dozen.Like back in Versaille.First Lady Louisa,then Benjamin’s sister and now the Lady Forster.Lara is extremely beautiful,my mind started ticking over…how did he manage to charm a woman such as Lady Forster? Judging by first impressiona,she seems harmless enough but I do detect Declan has had to put a bit of ground work to impress this american beauty.
‘Darling,I do believe you are already acquainted with Gisele?’
‘You could say that Lara? We go way back.’
‘Here it is the bad penny.’ I smirked.
‘You’re looking well Gisele?’
‘As do you.’
‘I see you’ve already met my fiancee’ Lady Lara Forster?’
‘Not your usual type?’
‘I’m sorry I’m still here you know?’
‘Sorry if that’s hit a nerve with you Sir Holmes…but really gone from french fatale the damaged Lady Gisele,to an english rose,Lord Henry’s sister? and now an American Beauty? Not knocking you Lara…it’s just that your punching well above your weight,with a woman such as Lady Forster.American Aristocrat?’
‘How’s Oliver? Oh no sorry slip of the tongue,false habit of mine…I see you’ve stolen someone else’s husband and claimed him as you’re own?’
Countess Katerina could sense the tension ‘eat up,for there’s plenty more to come.’
‘I shall not rise to the bait Sir Holmes,you are only jealous because you didn’t put up a fight for me? All you can do is admire from afar,no touching.’
I began to eat my food in silence,the steak was a little on the tough side.I politely took each mouthful,after seeing Declan I dramatically lost my appetite.
‘I’m ever so sorry Gisele,it’s as though seeing Declan you’ve seen a ghost standing before you?’
‘I think it’s shock,I shall be fine thank you.’
‘I see the way he look at you then? He cared for you a great deal.’
‘I can assure you Lady Forster,my feelings for him are dead and buried,now that my romance with Lord Henry has gone to the next level.’
‘My my,that sparkler must have cost a fortune?’
‘It’s a very rare diamond….but it doesn’t measure up to his love for me.Jewellry and money I can take or leave.’
‘I hope you you are very happy Gisele.’
‘And I hope I’m not being bold in saying this…but I do hope you and I become firm friends…I still feel like a stranger in these waters.You and I are more alike than you think?’
After dinner,the dance started to take place the music started up.I sat and watched as the dancers weaved in and out with their partners.
‘Care to dance my Lady?’
He took hold of my hand and placed me in hold.
‘Turn out for the books Lady Forster and Sir Holmes?’
‘You mean you didn’t know of this already?’
‘Of course not,you know I would have pre-warned you before,if I got wind of this? I only want to protect you Gisele.’
‘I know that and I’m sorry.’
‘You appeared to be upset back then?’
‘I do not care for Sir Holmes,I’m happy that he’s moved on and Lady Forster is very beautiful.’
‘Not as beautiful as you.’
‘You’re meant to say that…Lara appears to be of the new world? The way she moves so full of grace and confidence…so if you think he appears to be a threat,you’re gravely mistaken.Not now our romance is blossoming?’
‘She doesn’t hold a candle to you.’
‘I’ll pay you in kindness later?’ I teased him.
‘You think I’m romancing you Lady Rickman?’
‘Yes,you are…no longer my seedy little secret any more.No more quick trysts in the shadows or moments of delights in the stable are just a distant memory.Do you miss those days?’
‘I would never go back to those days,were I was forced to share you…Watching you return to your husbands bed.Night after night,killed me.Drove me wild with jealously.Those empty nights,lying with Louisa pretending it to be you.I don’t want those lonely dark days again.’
‘I see you were thick with that little upstart Tristan?’
‘You dislike him?’
‘I despise him….How dare he shoot down my opinions in flames.’
‘You’ve never once protested against my hunting?’
‘Sometimes I find it is best to keep one’s thoughts to themselves…Doesn’t mean I don’t agree with what their doing.You shouldn’t work the hounds into a frenzy,the poor innocent fox hasn’t caused any harm.Just in the wrong place at the wrong time.Please let’s not argue.’
Lady Forster and Sir Holmes were looking over.
‘Are you objecting of my friendship with Lady Gisele?’
‘I’m saying this to protect you and your good nature.She’s nothing but trouble Lara.Whoever gets close to her,they always end up being left broken hearted or six feet under.’
‘That was a tragic accident?’
‘Jack killed Carl in cold blood Lara…I give six months of her engagement to Lord Henry.Then she will be moving onto another poor gentlemen,getting her claws into him and pulling all of the purse strings.Money,ambition is her biggest love.’
‘You said that she didn’t care for money when you were with her?’
‘She soon ran back to her husband when our fortune ran out?’
‘No she left because she was carrying Ava Oliver’s child.She said so herself.’
‘Are you saying you believe her?’
‘I think you’re saying those things because you’re still in love with her? And it kills you because she doesn’t love her and you cant have her? So you’re settling for me,second pickings?’
‘No Lara,I love you.’
‘Well let me break it down to you Sir Holmes.It may be custom in society to tell your Lady love what to do,but in America we do things differently.I’m a strong vibrant woman.Don’t you ever tell me what to do again.Are we clear Sir Holmes?’
The music abruptly stopped,I playfully curtsied Lord Henry,as he started to applaud me.’
‘I see you’ve improved a lot my Lord? Do tell me your inside secrets? Have you been receiving secret private lessons? Without moi? How very dare you.’ I draped my arms around him. ‘You told me that you couldn’t dance?’
‘That’s because I didn’t have the right partner to dance with?’
He kissed my hand,my sheer joy however was soon shortlived.As we were joined by the Countess Katerina,her husband the bumbling and ever so frightfully dull Count Sebastian closely followed behind.
‘Play nice.’ said Lord Henry.
Lady Lara joined the party with a rather reluctant Sir Holmes.Benjamin took one look at me,sensed what I was thinking for I couldn’t bare to be near him and dredge up my feelings of the past.He kept me my harm’s way,ever remaining in his protective grip.I whispered softly into his ear. ‘My hero,but darling I can handle him.’
‘I don’t want you getting upset in the heat of the moment…not after what you told me? I don’t want to see you hurt again…what your Mama’s letter did to you,and all of the history you and Sir Holmes have shared?’
‘Darling,I can reassure you Sir Holmes is a pussycat compared to Earl Merrells.’
‘You can call him Jack you know?’
Benjamin has an understanding,this is what I truly love and admire about him.So full of grace,and yet so charming and protective of me…trying as he might to spare my feelings.He can see from my point of view,if I was with Lord Rickman and he was with me in Italy now.Things would be an entirely different story,he’d think the worst of me.It was written across his face everytime.Full of doubt and fear that his not so perfect little wifey,was up to her usual tricks and slipping away once more.His eyes so full of wild jealously.Convinced that I would leave him again.Sir Holmes was the first to break this long and awkward silence.
‘Lady Rickman,I would like to apologise for my behaviour earlier?’
‘You have nothing to apologise for Sir Holmes.’
‘Lady Rickman,will you join us later in the library,for coffee,light entertainment and polite conversation? Whilst the gentleman are putting the world to rights and discussing their latest plans of taking over the world?’
‘Please say yes?’ Smiled Lady Forester.
She may appear to be hard on the outside,but inside I detect she is a frightened and vulnerable young woman,hoping to be embraced into Italian Society.Kind of reminds me of how Louisa was when I first met her.I didn’t mean to say those words about her,their was a time when we had grew close and I cared for a great deal but towards the end I began to lose my patience because I was anxious to move on with Lord Henry,forever afraid to keep this secret,dreaming of our first kiss I wasn’t strong enough to let go.I hope that in time Louisa and I can sit down and talk about the reasons which drove me to it.
‘I shall like that very much Countess Stewart,thank you for considering me.’
‘Perhaps you could delight us in some singing and piano playing? smiled Lady Forster.
I turned around and looked at Lord Henry. ‘You told them I played?’
‘No not I Gisele,I know you’re feelings about playing in public.’
Ever since William died,I had lost the song bird within me.I used to forever play and sing at the piano whilst married to Lord Rickman,but that was my sanctuary.I could throw myself into beautiful pieces such as Beethoven,Mozart to name a few composers to prevent myself from drowning.My light had gone out when I lost my beautiful baby boy,I no longer found the desire to play.I would instead stare out of my window,dreaming of happier times.Forever wishing that I could belong here.I confessed this all to Benjamin,how I could break away and go out of the darkness and bask in the sun.Take a risk and play again but I just couldn’t.I shall remain forever weak and feeble.
‘It was Sir Holmes,he said that you’re quite the artiste?’
‘Come come,no need to act all modest my Lady.There were times when I would sit and just watch her play close my eyes and take it all in.I can recall that you had quite a melodic sound…haunting and at the same time heavenly voice….You sounded quite remarkable when you sang unlike your squarking sister Lucille? You wouldn’t think that they were related? Both so different sounds? That girl could shatter glass…’
‘God rest her soul,I have never forgiving myself for staying away for Carl’s funeral.It must have been terrible for you?’
‘Quite.’ I abruptly changed the subject,for it still hurt to discuss my lost love. ‘Your’e very kind Sir,but this lady no longer sings,I put my vocal chords and playing into an early retirement.’
‘How are Marianna and Letitia?’
‘There very well thank you.’ I lied.
‘Surely Gisele,you can make an exception for the Countess,just this once? There won’t be any harm done.’ whispered Lord Henry. ‘You wont be mocking William’s memory…I’ll make it worth your while?’
‘Aw,you certainly know how to twist me around your little finger Lord Henry?’
I turned round and faced the Countess.
”Oh…if you insist,but I apologise in advance,for my playing isn’t how it used to be.It’s a little rusty,and I haven’t sung since the death of my son.The night he died,the song bird within me died too.’
‘Good,glad that is settled.’ smiled Countess Stewart.
Sir Holmes caught my gaze,I looked away,Count Sebastian sensed all wasn’t well. ‘Lord Henry,Sir Holmes,shall we leave the ladies to it?’
‘Don’t enjoy yourself too much without me?’ smirked Lord Henry.
‘I wouldn’t dream of it,honestly that Count Sebastian has the personality of a gnat?’
‘Behave yourself.’ He kissed my cheek.
‘And what if I don’t?’ I protested. ‘Tell me Lord Henry what will you do to me?’
‘We shall disguss this later.Behave.’
‘If I must?’ I said with a devilish smile.
I looked on as I saw my fiance’ leave my side,I attempted to follow Lady Lara and the Countess.Sir Holmes blocked my doorway.
‘It’s Lady Rickman to you,you lost that right to address me in that way a long way.Please let me get past.’
‘You do not love Lord Henry?’
‘Pardon me? You’re being extremely rude of course I do.’
‘You’ve said the word love so many times my Lady,you don’t know the true meaning of the word?’
‘I was once your lady once upon a time,but not anymore.’
‘He’s only with you for your beauty,nothing more I’m sorry to break to you.But that’s how I see it.’
‘Why must it always come down purely to the way I look?’
‘You still look exactly the same,so perfect the vision of beauty.’
‘Nobody’s picture perfect Sir Holmes.’
‘Please call me Declan.’
‘You can not deny it,you still look…words cant describe it,can you remember the day of your twenty second birthday?’
‘Not really,and I’d hardly say I’m a vision of beauty.For one I have gained a few pounds since then and I’m not as young as I used to be.’
‘I give you and Lord Henry’s engagement a maximum of six months.’
‘I can not believe I almost loved you? Well well well,it’s finally falling in to place.I can see right through your plan,this whole so called new life of yours you’ve built up with Lara is a sham.It’s just an illusional,say that you are engaged in hope that one day we will meet again…sadly it’s not working.How I pity you Sir Holmes,we’ve finally changed places. I’m top of the world and you’re rock bottom.How mighty you have fallen.I was once a broken hearted girl,that’s no longer my part to play.I’m no longer you’re muse and I was never your Juliet.’
‘You will never forget about me,you will think of me the moment you wake up and before you go to sleep.’
‘In your dreams.’
‘You will never forget about me…for I still remain inside your head.I can not erase those final scenes of you leaving me? The way that you did?’
I watched him walk away from me.He has become one mixed up individual? I had no idea those moments,we shared still him now.He has certainly become one tortured soul.
In the library,I was carefully poised at the piano ready for my moment of glory.Or will I lose my mind forget what I am doing and be shot down in flames.I was composed and ready to shine and impress the Countess.It had reminded me of the time,when I was at a young and impressionable age at Lady Chadwicks, before I was engaged to Lord Rickman.Ready to dazzle Lady Isabelle and merely to impress Lord Rickman with my piano skills.
Back at the Countess’s house,I was no longer accompanied by sheet music,for I chose music that I knew inside out.I still couldn’t help feeling a tad nervous. ‘For my first piece I shall play Fu’r Elise which is by the composer Ludwig Van Beethoven,I then moved on to playing a piece by Bach and the grande finale ‘I shall play Ode To Joy which is a fitting tribute to my dear Papa,the late Lord William Delessop’s favourite piece.’ As I stopped I was demanded an encore,as I yet hadn’t showcased my singing voice and under much protest on my part,I caved in and confidentally sang Greensleaves.I looked into my captive audience,they were eating out of the palm of my hand,their eyes full of hope and awe.I searched for Carl,just for a brief second I almost forgot it broke my heart not to see him standing there.
I was nineteen years of age,and about to perform at my Mama and Papa’s annual spring recital.On this occasion I had a different agenda,for I was cowardly hiding behind a curtain.I was experiencing a crippling case of stage fright.Carl came around the corner.
‘Carl,what do I owe you the pleasure?’
‘I came to see if everything was all right?’
‘Carl am I relieved to see you?’
‘That’s the polite way of saying Lady Antoinette is wondering what all the fuss is about?’
‘I knew you had a hidden agenda?’
‘You can stand there as much as you like,looking so dark and moody…but quite frankly you’re not the dominant type? I’m not budging.’
‘Oh Carl,I simply can not go on…I’m ever so nervous…I have butterflies that are merely out of my control.’
‘I believe in you.’
‘Thank you ever so much for the roses and the note of kind words that you left in my room.Awfully sweet of you.You really didn’t have to?’
‘Please,it was nothing.’
‘Go out and tell them I can’t do it,Mama will have to ask Mari,for she has a beautiful voice.Much better than mine.’
‘Here we go the dreaded prep talk?’
‘Do you think those actors you admire from afar would give up at the first hurdle?’
I shrugged my shoulders at him.
‘I hate seeing you act so defeatest? It’s not your style.’
He took hold of my right hand. ‘It’s perfectly normal to experience the odd goosebumps and stage fright? There has been times when they….what was it they say lose their mind and corpse on stage?’
‘I love it when you talk so technical?’
‘They brush themselves off and get on with it.Where’s that Delessop spirit that I saw on the day you’ve jilted your brother?’
‘Do not remind me of him.’
He picked up a rose,and placed it in to my hair. ‘find that inner beauty once again.Go out there and blow your captive audience away.’
‘Why didn’t we just run away and get married,when we had the chance?’
‘Don’t what? We loved one another?’
‘You backed out on me? You chose my brother’s title and money over me?’
‘I didn’t have a choice?’
‘Now’s not the time Gis…what we’ve had once and for all? I will always be second best to my brother?’
‘You know that’s not true?’
‘Let’s not argue,I don’t want you going on stage all worked up and having tear stained cheeks.It will not do.Besides you have such a beautiful voice?’
‘Have you been listening to my rehearsal.’
‘I may have.’
‘Carl I’m sorry…’
‘Go out there,for your audience awaits you.’
He pushed me out from beyond the curtains.
My Carl’s persistance certainly paid off that day,as I received rave reviews even from my harshest critic Mama. ‘You simply shone up there my petit Gisele…dazzling like a shining star.’
Back to the present day,my current audience erupted into an applause.My this is an overwhelming experience.I shall revel in my moment of glory.A standing ovation? I cheekily blew a kiss to my audience.I wish Lord Henry was here to see his fiancee’,a glimpse of happiness.Finally a smile upon my face,you can never take the performer out of a Delessop. ‘It’s in our blood. ‘As Lady Antoinette would say,I didn’t want to be reminded of him.For Duke Matthew interfered by crossing the path of true and such pure love.Lady Forster came and quietly congratulated me.’
‘Bravo! Bellisimo! That was simply delightful!’
‘It was nothing.’
‘Lady Gisele,you have a hidden talent.’
‘Thank you Lady Forster.’
‘Please,call me Lara.’
‘Only if you insist?’ I laughed.
How I miss the female companianship,Sophia and Reinette and my sister’s.Will Lady Forster be able to be the confidante I had missed after all I used to tell Sophia my deepest darkest secrets.Knowing that she is engaged to an old flame of mine.I am not too sure.Still I shall give her the benefit of the doubt and praise her in making an effort.
‘….A gift that you were born to do,it’s a shame you have allowed it to go to waste?’
‘I merely retired so to speak….the death of William,I was robbed of the chance of giving my husband an heir to our estate.I felt I didn’t have a purpose in life anymore.’
‘Now it’s time to unleash the song bird?’
‘With two children I sadly don’t have the time.’
‘Well make the time Gisele,I’m sure Nancy can take care of them? Isn’t that what nanny’s are paid for?’
‘….I’m not that way inclined,I dedicate all of my time to Ava and Esme.Do forgive me Lara,if I’m about to be bold? I got the impression earlier whilst I was dancing with Benjamin.’
‘Another hidden talent…’
‘Not at all,Lord Henry is light on his feet….I got the impression that,you thought I appeared to be a threat to you with Sir Holmes? I stumbled across you and Declan arguing…’
‘It was nothing really,I was laying down a few little ground rules to my fiance’.Sir Holmes got the impression that I’m a bad influence for you?
‘Declan said that?’
‘Kind of suffocating really,you’ve got to understand and learn from my way of life Gisele.I am not the typical kind of woman who rolls over and obeys every command.No one orders me around not even Declan.He said if you and I were to become friends,it would be dangerous for me? Well he said something on those lines,I wasn’t exactly listening to him.Tell me,what should I do? Go with my head,and defy my fiance’? Or stand in line,act the loyal dutiful fiancee’? And stay away from you? That sound’s awfully british don’t you think?’
‘I do not know what to say,I don’t want to get involved in your dealings…if you listened to me you’d only get into a lot of trouble,I say a lot of things in the heat of the moment.’
‘Some say you’re London’s equivalent of the black widow? But not I,I’m old and wise enough to make my own judgement.’
‘Lara,take my advice on only one thing.Only because I mean well,when we first met today you said that Lady Chadwick was lovely and I bit my tongue.You shouldn’t take whatever she says quite so literally.Lady Chadwick and I have a what we call a love hate relationship,she finds me simply disagreeable for one my marriage to Lord Rickman prevented her dreadful daughter the Lady Rosaline in getting her claws into him and marrying him.Carl,he died in circumstances,out of our control.He was killed in the cross fire,trying to save my life.’
‘Shouldn’t it be a husband’s duty to save his wife?’
‘Some might say but he wasn’t around at the time?’
‘Sacrificing your life is a brave and noble thing to do?’
‘Stupid he would have been here if he didn’t go in all gun’s blazing?’
‘This Carl must have had strong feelings for you?’
‘Carl loved me a great deal and in all of my naivety till the very end,and I him…he was my first love.We where young,so unafraid,could have quite easily eloped against my parent’s wishes.’
‘You sound quite the romantic Lady Rickman?’
‘That I am Lara,I believe in love,an everlasting and powerful kind.That makes your heart turn inside ou…that nice warm fuzzy feeling.When you’re eyes are drawn to that someone across a crowded ball room.When you’re only thinking about that person and can not imagine you’re life without them.That’s how I feel about Lord Henry and about Carl,then Mama had another agenda.She didn’t believe in that kind of love,she was purely driven by the hunger of titles and money.Finally marrying her daughter off to a noble gentleman.So two years later on my romance was Carl was indeed doomed,I was forced into an arranged marriage.Engaged out of my own free will and power.’
These pain memories recalling it all makes me realise how much I resented my Mama and Papa at the time.
I was called into my Papa’s drawing room,summoning up the courage to break the news to Mama and Papa that I was in love with Carl and I would very much like their blessing.
‘Come closer my child,stop hiding in the dark?’
I edged closer. ‘Sit down Gisele for heaven’s sake.You’re making me a nervous wreck.’ said Lady Antoinette.
I sat down out of my own free will,feeling ever so nervous. ‘Papa,Mama there is something that I would like to say to you,though it may take time to find the right words….There is a certain someone that I would like you to meet….’
‘Do not interupt your Papa,honestly child you will never be a fine lady of society,if you can not speak at the right times.’
‘We have always said that you aught to meet a gentleman in your own time,well my dear girl there is a gentleman to whom has desired to get to know you for such a long time and I for one said that you were not old enough to do so…Well there time has come Gisele,for you to meet him he is simply delightful Duke Matthew Casey of Essex.’
‘A delightful man indeed.’
‘How is this relevant to me Papa?’
‘You are promised to be married to him?’
‘How can I? I do not know him,nor love him.’
‘I’m sure there shall be plenty of time for you to get to know one another?’
‘I can not be married.I’m seventeen.’
‘Oh do not make such a fuss dear girl,you are to marry Duke Matthew,he is a fine match,he is to come by the estate this afternoon for luncheon and you shall bow and curtsy,and prove to him that you are worthy enough for him to take as a Wife?’ snarled Lady Antoinette.
All of my dreams were shattered.Duke Matthew,is Carl’s ignorant older brother.How could I marry him? Knowing what I know.I can not possibly tell Mama and Papa of my love for Carl,the moment has been stolen away from me.I feel so broken hearted,my life is to be over.How am I expected to marry a gentleman that I do not love? I love Carl why do they not understand or know of this.For I have spent all of my spare time with Carl or Daniel my dear friend.This is going to destroy Carl,he’s always said how he was second best to his brother and because of my Mama’s meddling he’s right,Matthew has once again triumphed.My perfect two year budding romance has been cruelly brought to an end.How hope she’s proud of herself.’
‘Is there something that you wanted to say my child?’
‘No Papa,there is nothing that I would like to say.’
‘Please leave child,Marianna and Letitia will assist you with dressing appropriately.’
‘Lara,Declan…forgive me Sir Holmes,doesn’t mean to speak ill of me.He was desperately in love with me for quite some time.We embarked on a passionate affair,we couldn’t get enough of one another.Or could imagine our life without one another.Until I found out I was carrying Ava,we had no money…I broke his heart by choosing to walk away from him.I think it’s his way of dealing,of me belonging to another.I’m sorry Lara,I’m afraid I’ve said too much.’