Chapter 5

We were beginning to embark upon our new life inside Peonia rose Estate,I was ever so greatful that Lord Henry was able to find that dream place we’ve always spoke of.A rare and golden opportunity that I wasn’t prepared to allow slip away from my grasp and with sheer grit and determination I grasped it with both hands.For us to spend our time together,having children of our own and growing old together.The only down point was despite it’s grounds of splendour,there lacked character and inner beauty for it was in much need of a face lift.I fear the previous owner neglected it.There interior was rather slap dashed.Lord Henry and I should have examined it with a fine tooth comb before we purchased it.But I’m confident that Lord Henry and I shall whip it into shape in no time at all.Well here’s hoping anyway.Despite being a Lady of means,and wasn’t born into this world to get my hands dirty with the practicalities of life. ‘That’s what we pay servants for Gisele.’ I simply thrive being in the throws of a challenging project.I was in the drawing room pouring myself over various samples of patterns,ever searching for much need inspirational ideas.Thank heaven’s Nancy was taking care of Esme and Ava back at our rented house.For I was so frustrated,none of this inspired me.I sighed a very deep sigh,I should be with my daughters enjoying their company.
‘What’s on your mind Gisele?’
‘I think we went into this with our eyes closed Ben.’
‘Are you saying that we should back out of the deal now?’
‘It’s too late now,look at it…it’s in need of rescuing and nurturing Ben.I never thought it could be so frustrating.’
Lord Henry walked over and stood over me.
‘You’re distracting me?’ I laughed.
‘You wait until you’ve given it ze olde classical Gisele Rickman treatment.’
‘I’m hardly an expert in these fields?’
‘Nonsense your Ladyship stop putting yourself down.It’s screaming out for a feminine touch,what with your perfectly co-ordinated throws,curtains and cushions you’ve previously purchased?’
‘That’ll teach me for impulse buying?’
‘You were in need of indulging yourself,you’ve been miserable over the past few months?’
‘I’ve had a lot on my mind.’
‘I’m glad you’ve told me about Carl my love,it was an initial shock at first.But you did what you had to do displaying loyalty towards a friend and I admit if I was in your shoes and Ana or Arthur was experiencing difficulty.I would have acted exactly the same,now’s not the time to endure on it.Time to look forward…Peonia Rosa will soon be looking like your vision of a home.You’re home.’ He reassuringly placed his arms around my shoulders. ‘You just need a little courage and patience,it’ll all fall into place.Trust me my angel cake.’
‘No,there’s something lacking? All of the pieces of the jigsaw are laid out in front of m,it’s in need of modernising.In dire need of Tom Davernport is the only man for the job.’
‘I’m sure we can discover a fine young craftsman amongst Italian society? You know get your own little masterpiece upon the ceiling just like in the Count and Countess’s house?’
‘No Ben,I refuse to allow complete strangers to come waltzing into my house leave their grubby foot prints pointing and making judgement.Besides I might not agree with their design.’
‘Well with your eye,I’m sure you can guide them Gis?’
‘Lord Henry I am perfectly aware that women should be seen as meek and feeble,concealing themselves in corners fanning themselves giving little opinion seen and not heard.But for once in my life I am putting my foot down Lord Henry,I am perfectly aware of the fine young Italian craftsmen of society but for once in my life I am putting my foot down Tom Davernport is a fine and worthy gentleman I wish to employ,I am aware of his work….I trust him.’
‘Is this you feeling guilty for what happened with New Dawn Estate? Tom gaining work is not your soul responsibility?’
‘You do not understand Benjamin,it was got his first commission.I’ve lived and breathed Tom’s ascending…lived the dream for ever so long.I would detest it if him and Reinette are struggling to make a living.When we left times had become extremely hard for them.’
‘I’m sure work will be falling into his lap Gisele?’
‘No,you do not understand all of Tom’s life he’s had to graft in order to build up his grande reputation.Without that recognition he is nothing,don’t you understand? Tom’s a lowly man on the fringe of society.We are lucky we’ve had everything handed to us upon a plate.Gold encrusted an’ all the trimmings.I did not ask to be born into aristocracy…’
‘I get your point,why the sudden change of heart.I thought you wanted to move in as soon as possible?’
‘In my heart I want to move in with you and begin our wonderful life together…but some say it will be rather improper before we’re married? I want to focus on our wedding plans and it needs to be perfect,if I am to be married in London.What a perfect way for I to make the first move,to cross enemy lines and make peace with the Davernport’s once more.I want Reinette and Tom to be a part of our wedding they mean the world to me.’
‘That’s why I’m marrying you,bursting full of dreams and so eager to please.’
He attempted to kiss my neck,normally I would welcome that behaviour with open arms.But honestly Benjamin I have so much to do,write a letter to Tom firstly and make plans for our wedding.So many questions to answer,will I persuade my sister’s to attend my wedding never mind persuade them into becoming my bridesmaids.Also is it such a bright idea for it to take place in London.Or shall I play it safe and have a low key wedding with a few witness’s.I should learn from Lord Rickman,that a wedding based on such a grande scale only leads to pure heartache and misery.Also their’s the question of where shall the wedding take place,as with us both being married in a previous life.We won’t be able to have our church ceremony.Also the dress,will it be considered as inappropriate to wear the colour white? I have two children…my head is about to explode.So I’m ever so sorry my Lord Henry,but the act of passion is the last thing on this Lady’s mind.I stopped my lover in his tracks before he got the wrong idea that I had been leading him on with all of my sultry looks.
‘Now’s not the appropriate time.’
‘Kill joy?’
‘I have so much to do,besides the truth is I miss Reinette and Tom,Ben so badly.I’ve missed out on little Lucille’s life,growing and developing.She’ll be at least fifteen months now.’
‘You have a heart of gold my lady.’

It’s your Gisele.
I write in dire need of your assistance.I
know I may appear to be a tad upfront
writing to you,out of the blue.I mean
after this whole period time.
You see,I couldn’t find the right time
to write to you,to say how truly
sorry I am.
These past few months,I have been
saying sorry…It wasn’t my intention
to abuse your good nature.
I’ve always appreciated your help and
I am finally able to speak of how I
was feeling…But I was suffocating
in London.I feared if I remained with
Oliver,then he would be finally be the
death of me.
Lord Henry and I are to be married in
London and afterwards we are to move
into a remarkable estate in Italy.It’s
everything I have ever dreamt of.
The only thing is it screaming for
attention and individuality,and
that’s were you come into it.I
need your help once more,since you
have architechture expertise? If I
knew of anyone else then I wouldn’t
appear so desperate?
Which I am…If you so refuse I
completely understand.
However,I would love to see you and
Reinette again.How is Lucille I bet she’s
changed so much since our path’s last
Esme and Ava are developing into
little madame’s.Not afraid to express their
opinions.I wonder who they take after?
Speak soon

Our past us by,we were back at our rented accommodation.The previous hours at Peonia Rosa felt as though it was a distant memory,the stuff of dreams.Ava and Esme were playing upon the floor space with their dolls,whilst I looked longingly at bridal literature.
‘Does Rosie want a cup of tea?’ asked Ava.’
‘No tea will not do!’ shouted Esme.
I looked over the top of my literature. ‘Girls,play nice.’
‘Sorry Mama. ‘said Ava.
I couldn’t help but quietly giggle to myself,my my my what a turn out for the books? She has my Mama’s voice down to perfection.Lord Henry would delight in this little scene,my little girl’s finally found her voice.Esme may appear on the dainty side,but she is turning out to becoming quite the fine little actress.I do hope my children have the courage to live out their dreams whatever they may be.I was immersed in the bridal literature looking dreamily at perfectly silhouetted women in their various wedding gowns.They all looked so beautiful,posing so prim and proper,none of these would ever look good enough on a figure like mine.I almost lost all hope until I stumbled across my wedding gown.It had short sleeves,and a round bodice,perfect for my now hour glass figure.It had such a beautiful and yet so simple embroidery.The gown was made using the finest lace,sloping perfectly down to the ground.I have got to have this Virginia Rose gown.
There was a knock upon the door,I quickly hid my magazines behind the cushion.
‘Lord Henry looked around the corner.
‘Nancy said you may be in here?’
‘Where else would I be?’ I smiled.
‘Is it safe to come in my love?’
‘Enter brave Lord if you may?’ I politely gestured him in with my right index finger to come in.
He walked towards me.
‘You smell nice.’I said trying to throw him off the scent so to speak.
‘It’s nothing my angel…just my natural heavenly and yet so brooding scent…so what is my lady up to this very fine day?’
Lord Henry looked towards me,my Lord you look so beautiful but you are getting nothing from me.I looked at him ever so angelicly,trying as I might not to give the game away.
‘Oh nothing,just sat twiddling my thumbs.’
‘I can not imagine you twiddling your thumbs Gisele?’
‘I could Lord Henry.’
‘You gave me the impression that you’re mind was pre-occupied,said that you were up to your eyes in it?’
‘I wasn’t in the mood,terribly sorry.’
‘I hardly believe that?’
‘It can happen to the best of us.’
‘My that was quick for it to happen before a marriage? What are you hiding?’
‘I know when you’re deceiving me?’
Yes,you say it all of the time I wrinkle my nose?’
‘What are you concealing behind your cushion?’
‘Ava put something behind there,a surprise for Nancy.’
‘Never you mind….strictly for my eyes only.’
Lord Henry tried to move the cushion,I tried to wrestle him onto the ground.
‘Nice ladies don’t play that way?’
‘Who said I was nice?’

I pulled him towards me and he fell onto me.He fell onto the couch,I found the inner confidence within myself I wanted him so,I started to kiss him,he started to undo my ribbons,I didn’t want to come up for air,he then suddenly remembered.Talk about crushing a girl’s pride.
‘Not in front of the children?’ he gasped.
‘I’ve missed you.’ he kissed me back.I stopped and put my finger towards his lips. ‘No you’re right Lord,it’s not proper.’
I pulled myself back up,straightened out my day dress and pressed my curls down.
‘I like the rough and ready look?’ said Lord Benjamin.
‘You need to learn to live a little?’
‘Well it’ll hardly do,the ladyship looking all bedraggled? It means only one thing either I’m neglecting myself or been up to no good?’
‘I’d say option two.’
‘Darling I want you utmost honest opinion?’
‘I know the wedding is centred around a bride’s likes and dislikes but to me none of that matters.What would you like?’
‘I’ve never been asked before,shouldn’t you making all of the decisions?’
‘I know all of your planning with Louisa, for it drove you into the arms of yours truly.But this is our special day.’
‘To be truthful,I don’t want all of the pomp and circumstance,and certainly no doves.’
‘Duly noted darling….I don’t want you to feel scared?’
‘Louisa drove me crazily insane,I feel that I rushed into marriage in order to spare her feelings.The truth was she was an emotional soul.You on the other hand,scare me but in a good way.I don’t want to be a disappointment to you.’
‘You could never be a disappointment to me Ben.’
‘You and I,we mirror one another.You are right I’m just as scared witless as you are…Your naivety and insecurities is what drew me to you.’
There was a knock on the door.
‘Why can’t we find a moments peace? Who is it?’
Nancy cowardly hid around the door.
‘I wish that girl would get some back bone?’
‘Hush now Benjamin,the poor child is still learning to find her feet.’
I wish I didn’t have to make excuses with her,but the poor thing is looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights and Lord Henry throwing his authoritive weight around isn’t exactly helping matters.
‘Well I do hope she finds them soon,otherwise she will be dismissed.’
‘Come in Nancy.’
‘Lady Rickman.’ Nancy curtsied towards me.
‘Whatever is it?’
‘There is a Lady Forster waiting in the hall way asking for you?’
‘Well don’t just stand there,ask her to come in god darn it!’
‘Yes Lord Henry,at once.’
Nancy left the room immediately.
‘That was slightly harsh?’ I turned my back towards him.
‘Honestly leaving a leaving such as Lady Forester in the hall way?’
‘I’m sure she’ll survive…honestly she’s not a princess Ben that she needs a lady in waiting to attend to every second of the day.I love you Benjamin,but sometimes you need to curb your temper.’
‘She’s beyond useless.’
‘If you gave her the time of day and got to know her,you will realise that Nancy’s not all that bad.’
‘It’s not normal Gisele,the lady of the house mustn’t mix with members of staff?’
‘You aught to realise by now that I’m not like any ordinary kind of Lady? I think you need to apologise to Nancy?’
‘Do you think that’s necessary?’
‘Yes,Nancy lacks confidence to see that her Lord and Master approves of her,will finally put her mind at ease.’
‘If it makes the lady of the house happy? Then I suppose I have no option?’
‘If you want this marriage to go ahead,then I’m sorry Lord Henry,but you have no choice on the matter.’
Nancy ‘Lady Forster is here.’
‘Aw Gisele!’
I stood up out of politeness ‘Lara.’
‘I hope that I wasn’t imposing on you?’
‘On the contrary Lara it’s lovely to see you?’
‘If that is all? I shall go and attend to the children?’
‘Wait,Lord Henry has something to say to you?’
‘Yes My Lord….’
I looked at Lord Henry to urge him to speak ‘Cat got you’re tongue my Lord?’
‘Nancy.I realise that you and I have got off on the wrong foot.I should like to apologise for my previous behaviour?’
‘You have nothing to apologise my Lord…I must admit that I can be a bit ditzy and clumsy at times…It’s when I get nervous I…’
‘Can we start again Nancy?’
‘I should like that very much my Lord.’
Lord Henry offered out his hand as a sign of peace and good gesture.Lord Henry and Nancy shook hands.
‘Go on you’re dismissed.’
‘Thank you my Lord.’
As Nancy left the room,I looked towards Lord Henry,I realise that I pressured him into it,but I admire that he managed to admit to his faults in front of Lady Forster this is the man that I want to spend my life with up till my dying days.Come what may I shall make this marriage work.Lord Henry made his apologies,kissed me upon the cheek and left my side.
‘Would you like some tea Lara?’
‘No don’t make allowances for me?’ she smiled. ‘Your maid servant seems um…interesting?’
‘She’s our nanny…quite complicated our footman just walked out on us….I shall not go into it.’
‘Do I detect it’s something to do with your fiance’?’
‘Lord Henry is under quite a lot of pressure lately…it took a lot of back bone for him to apologise.’
‘I see you’re clearly smitten with him?’
‘That is not catergorically true Lara.’
‘I can see it in your eyes,how much you love him…and I see how much he idolises you?’
‘This is all new to him,I admire him for the way he’s embraced Esme and Ava as his own children?’
‘Do I detect that in time Benjamin would like to hear the pitter patter of tiny feet?’
‘One step at a time…we are not married yet.I don’t think you came here to discuss Lord Henry and I?’
‘I didn’t know who to turn to Gisele,but eversince your little encounter with my fiancee at the Countess Katerina’s estate.Sir Holmes has become ever so slightly possesive.’
‘Has he laid a finger upon you Lara?’
‘No,nothing like that…I’m sorry to dredge all of this history up for you.But is this how it all started with Earl Merrells?’
‘You could say that….but he managed to get inside my mind.Questioned everything I believed in…for instance I was convinced Lord Rickman was alive after he went missing,he got to me…allowing me to think I was going crazy.Just little subtle things,I didn’t see it at first,I was led to believe that Earl Merrells is always right when he was the one that saved me when I was in the wrong place and my heart was falling to pieces.It didn’t turn to violence until he realised that he was slowly losing his family.Started off the odd bruise where no one could see,he was good at that.Allowing everyone to believe I was in the wrong,then he upped his game….he tried to kill me.’
‘You can stop right there,I can see how it’s a difficult thing?’
‘The prospect that he is still alive out there,it’s killing me.Crushing my spirit,it should be Earl Merrell’s that is six feet under and not Carl.He took away the life of a good man,who was about to embark upon his married life.He has deprived him from having children…I’m sorry Lara,I’ve kept a lid upon these feelings for so long.There is one thing that I can tell you about Sir Holmes,he is a man with a good heart…but his insecurities are his weakness.He is only possessive,because I’ve made him this way.He was forced to share me for ever so long,and I cruelly paid him back for returning to my husband.But as for violent,he certainly never resorted down that path.I would stand by him Lara,all he needs is the love and affection of a good woman.I think Lara,that you’re the woman that will be ideal in achieving this.Make your plans of marriage,give him something to live for.’
‘Thank you Gisele.’ Lara places her hand into mine. ‘One thing I do know Gisele,is that you’re a good person.But forgive me I can’t help me thinking that you appear so lost?’
‘Ever since I was a little girl,I haven’t truly felt accepted in society.Feared for I am Lady Antoinette’s daughter,yes I admit I’ve had numerous proposals off numeraus gentleman in my time.But to be truthful I haven’t always been happy.Yes I am lost because all of my life I have confided in my sisters,Sophia,Daniel,Carl and Tom…since my decision to be involved with Lord Henry.I haven’t a single soul to confide my hopes,dreams and utmost fears with.’
‘Well I’m here Gisele,whenever you need me night or day.You know where to call?’
‘Thank you.’

A few days later,I was sat in the library reading my letter that I had received from Tom.

My lovely Gisele
You have no idea how it feels to finally here from you.
Reinette and I had feared that you’d turned into a hermit and
no longer wished to contact us.
I do realise how you may have come across,when leaving with
Lord Henry.But I can understand how you may have acted in
this way.
Reflecting upon the past I can know see how much Lord Henry,
acted as a confidante in your time of need.
I am so sorry that I appear to have turned your back on you,that
is not the case.Reinette,and I love you and miss you so.
I would be more than happy to work upon your house.Peonia
Rosa,what a peculiar name for a house?
On the behalf of my wife and I,we offer you our congratulations
on your upcoming marriage to Lord Henry.Though we are
slightly unsure what has encouraged you to have the ceremony
in London?
I thought you longed to be away from London’s mundane life?
Lucille is such a mischievous Madame,she often asks where
her Aunt Giz has gone? She has the likeness to your sister.

Time went by ever so quickly I barely saw Lord Henry as I was throwing myself into the preparations for the wedding and Benjamin spent his time up in Peonia Rosa doing all he can before Tom starts putting his input into the house.
The day arrived for Tom and Reinette’s grande arrival.I was in the bedchamber trying to make myself look presentable.
‘You look beautiful Gisele.’
‘Will this day dress do?’
I opted for my chocolate brown dress,plain in comparison in what I usually wear,I started to twist my hair into a side plait.
‘I wish you would relax Gisele.’
‘How can I what if Tom’s letter was out of kindness and he fails to show up?’
‘You’ve always sang his praises?’
‘Mama might have got wind of it all,and paid him off?’
‘You said the Delessop fortune was no more?’
‘Oliver’s money…he would do his utmost to spite me…what if he doesn’t accept us?’
‘Tom is an intelligent gentleman,he is old enough and dare I say ugly enough to make his own decisions? Tom loves and adores you,you said so yourself how close you once were?’
‘That we were.’
‘I don’t think Tom,is one to hold a grudge…everyone will turn out in the end?’ He kissed my cheek.
‘I do hope you’re right Ben?’
‘Just learn how to trust me?’
The bell rang,I took a deep breath and walked down the stairs.I do hope Benjamin is right and that Tom will embrace me with open arms.I looked in the hall way mirror,Robyn our newly appointment house maid answered the door.
‘Where here to see Lady Rickman and Lord Henry.’ smiled Reinette.
‘It’s all right Robyn.’ I smiled. ‘Please could you tell cook there’s an extra two for luncheon?’
‘Yes my Lady.’
Robyn curtsied and left us alone,Lord Henry slowly came down the stairs to join us.
‘The children are asleep.’
‘Darling you’re an angel.’ I kissed his lips,he gently clasped onto my hand.
I turned towards the door. ‘Reinette,it is so lovely to see you?’
‘Gisele,don’t you ever change? Still as enchanting as always.’
‘I’d hardly say that?’ I blushed a little. ‘May I introduce my devoted Fiance’ Lord Benjamin Henry,Benjamin my dear friends Tom and Reinette and their angel of a daughter Lucille.Do come in.’
Tom Reinette and Benjamin closely followed me behind.
‘See they still adore you?’ whispered Lord Henry.
‘Doesn’t help me feeling ever so nervous….We shall take tea in the drawing room.’ I smiled. ‘Benjamin ask Robyn that we should like some tea please?’
‘At once my Lady.’

In the drawing room,we where all sat down.Reinette was nursing Lucille.The tea had been set upon a table.
‘So this is where you are?’ smiled Tom.
‘For now,it’s hardly home…but who am I to complain? I hope you don’t mind Tom.But Benjamin has drawn up a few ideas? With my input of course.’
‘I wondered how long it would take you to say that?’ teased Lord Henry.
‘I shall like to look over them later.If you so prefer?’ suggested Tom. ‘
I reached forward for my tea.
‘I do hope that you’ll consider staying here whilst on you’re visit?’ I smiled.
‘That’s extremely kind you Gisele,but whilst the work at Peony Rosa is taking place,I should like to stay there…’
‘You really don’t have to do that Tom?’
‘In order for my dream vision to take shape,I have to live amongst it all.’ said Tom.’Maybe Reinette would like to take you up that offer of hospitality? Give you ladies the opportunity of speaking about poetry and horses till your hearts content?’
‘Tom,I love you but after all these years of marriage.You still haven’t analysed the female species? For one we do not just speak of horses till our hearts content..’
‘I couldn’t agree more Reinette,for one we have far more in depth conversations than you hearty souls.We do not thrive on the thoughts of where our next cigar and brandies coming from? You’d think that was Lord Henry’s highlight of the year.’
‘I beg to differ Gisele,you know I dislike smokers….why don’t you tell Tom of your new venture Lady Rickman?’
‘Now’s not the time Benjamin.’
‘Pray tell Gis?’ teased Tom.
‘You won’t be remotely interested?’ I said I casually sipped my tea to calm my nerves.
‘Oh I shall be the judge of that?’
‘I’ve discovered my inner passion for water colour paintings.’ I whispered politely.
‘You said see her interpretation of Claud Monet’s waterlilies she has it down to a fine art.’
‘Who is this woman and what has happened to my Gisele?’
‘I think that’s your cue to have a catch up with Gisele Tom.’ smiled Reinette.
‘Don’t go Ren.’ I protested.
‘Lucille needs settled and I don’t want to impose.’
‘I shall show you the nursery Reinette.’ suggest Lord Henry.
‘That’s a splendid idea Lord Henry.’
Benjamin left us alone,I placed my cup upon the table and walked towards the window.Gone is the love and brother and sisterly tenderness that was once between us…for it had vanished.Only to be replaced with tension and such awkwardness.
‘What’s happend to you?’
‘I’m still me Tom.’
‘Once upon a time you swore that you’ll forever roam free like the wildness of Cathy in Wuthering Heights? And now look at you,a few years down the line and you’re acting like a house wife in waiting? I mean water colour painting?’
‘What can I say Italy has calmed me.’
‘I can see that Benjamin worships the ground you walk on.Is that enough for you?’
‘You’d think that was the foundation of Lord Benjamin and I…Not only does he worship me,he loves trusts and respects me.’
‘You Lord Rickman once did that?’
‘Like Romeo,my heart has never felt true love.Benjamin gives me the tenderness that I have been looking for all of my life.’
‘I fear that you have an illness you’re craving for love,searching in all of the right place.But tell me will Lord Henry be able to fulfil that?’
‘How dare you? Does our friendship mean nothing to you! I now know you were so eager to travel to Italy? You came here to judge me! To mock my love for Benjamin.’
‘He was married to your sister-in-law for heaven’s sake! It’s obvious that you do not take your faith too seriously? Doesn’t your holy book speak that forbidden love is forbidden?’
‘You do not know the full story Benjamin,and I try really hard every day is a battle with my faith.Only trying to do good for the sake of others…I read my bible and pray every day like all good Christian girls do.Lord Benjamin we found comfort in one another…we were both lonely.He never loved Louisa,nor cared for her.He was merely biding his time,offered his hand in marriage in order to spare his feelings.I tried my utmost to go out of my way to detest him…but I just couldn’t do it Tom.I know you’re trying to fill in for Carl’s absence acting as my overprotective surrograte brother.But I’m sorry I am going to marry Lord Henry,with or without your acceptance? If you can not be happy for me,then you kno where the door is?’
‘If you’re happy Gis,and we’ve had this conversation countless times? Then who am I to judge?’
‘Oh Tom you have no idea how much this means to me…I’m so glad that you came around to my way of thinking.Because quite frankly I don’t think I can go ahead with my wedding without you? I may need yout swift and calm approach to life to guide me up the aisle.’
‘Are you asking me to give you away?’
‘Papa sadly is unable to do this duty,for me for I am the one entirely responsible for his death.’
‘It was his heart?’
‘No my behaviour drove him to his grave? How I wish he could see his little girl here.Tom you’re my dear friend and sadly my one and only male confidante.Carls dead,and Daniel’s turned his back on me.I look to you as a brother,please say yes?’
‘Gisele Delessop,I shall be honoured.’
I warmly embraced him. ‘Oh Tom,why can’t we go back to the good old days where I was young and free to chose who I wanted to love? Italy can be such a perfect and yet so lonely and isolated place.’
‘Why not return to London?’
‘There’s too many ghosts there Tom.I’m only to return as I yearn for my sisters to see me happy but my future lies here in Italy.’
The next few weeks hardly saw one another I could hardly bare it,they’re right when they say absence makes the heart grow fonder.Lord Henry and Tom occupied their time looking over plans at Peonia rosa and mapping out their vision for the place.Whilst Reinette and I looked after the children.Today was when I summoned up the courage to ask her to become my maid of honour.
‘Reinette I have something that I would like to ask of you?’
‘Whatever is it Gisele?’
‘Despite our differences,you have been a true friend.’
‘As are you.’
‘You were a rock to me Reinette,you mean the world to me…oh I’m ever so nervous will you do me the honour of being my maid of honour?’
‘Gisele,I do not know what to say?’
‘Please say yes,that would be a start?’
‘What about Sophia I thought you and her where close?’
‘Sophia has turned her back on me.’
‘You do not know that?’
‘She made it perfectly clear that doesn’t want to be involved in my life,never mind my wedding.I fear that my dear friend has switched her loyalties to Louisa.I think she can relate to her.Since once upon a time their was an occasion that Daniel loved me and Sophia was as some might say second best.Please Ren,do not abandon me too?’
‘I shall be delighted.’
‘Thank you,you have no idea how much this means to me?’


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