The following day.
Reinette and I were walking in the grounds of Peonia Rosa.
‘This is a truly remarkable place.’
‘I think I owe you an overdue apology Reinette,for I fear I have truly been a rather dreadful hostess.’
‘Whatever gave you that impression?’
I promised to introduce you the beauty of Italy and all you’ve got to endure so far are these four walls? In Lady Antoinette’s eyes I have indeed failed you Mrs Davernport.’
‘Nonsense,spending time with you to be truthful has been delightful Gisele,to be able to share the vision and nature of this place.This visit has been an honour Lady Rickman.’
‘Nancy shall stay on as Nanny to the children.’
‘Is she finally finding her feet?’
‘She’s trying poor thing.’ I laughed. ‘Lord Henry is trying as he might poor dear.’
‘How are the wedding preparations going?’
‘Awfully slow.’ I sighed. ‘Though I have selected my dream wedding gown Reinette,it is so perfect and dreamy looking Reinette.Why is has short sleeves and a round bodice hiding my modesty,made from the finest of lace…I don’t know whether white is appropriate for a fallen woman?’
‘It sounds ever so perfect Gisele,and as for the preparations.I know it is easier said than done.But hhave patience sweet Gisele.You must learn from your mistakes,you rushed into marriage with Lord Rickman and look how that turned out? All good things come to those who wait?’
‘I do not believe in all of that tosh Ren,I have been tainted with bad luck ever since I was a little girl.I’ve never known true happiness until now.’
‘I am so happy for you…it’s a shame that you didn’t find true love with Carl?’
‘This isn’t the time to dwell on the past Mrs Davernport.’
‘I can see how settled you have become,Italy’s fine lifestyle certainly suits you.Whatever is the matter Gisele?’
‘Italy may suit my life right at this present Reinette,but how I miss my riding.Horses have played a big part in my life for so long and not to have Quinn within my life.I feel like I’m missing a part of my soul,Quinn is the wind beneath my wings the instrument of my voice.Tom is quite right,I’m no longer young wild and carefree.’
The months past by,all evening dinners,luncheons colourful conversations with my most dearest friends sadly Tom and Reinette had sadly left Italy to return to London,I missed them terribly.I had grown terribly fond of them being around.At the back of my mind, I always had the prospect of why didn’t Mari respond to my letter? Is this her subtle way of telling me that she’s turned her back on me too? I almost gave up hope until I received this.
I am so glad to hear from you.
An engagement to Lord Henry? I am ever
so pleased to see that you are moving on
with your life.
Mama has taken the Lady Louisa under her
wing and much to Rosaline and Holly’s disgust
she seems to favour her over her own daughters.
I don’t know whether she is trying to shield
the pain of no longer seeing her grandchildren
or her daughter Gisele.
I do hope you didn’t write to Oliver and ask for
a seperation it’s better to say it to his face.
You probably realise it,but it’s coming up to
Mama’s birthday,and I should very much like to
see you there with Esme and Ava.
I do hope that Benjamin is looking after you?
Many months past and against Lord Henry’s well wishes I decided that I was going to take Marianna up on her kind and generous offer.It was generous judging by the current circumstances.I was ready to return to London and face my family and friends.I felt extremely fragile at the whole prospect of this.But with true love on my side,and Peonia rosa in Italy.I had nothing holding me back.For once my future seemed bright,I longed to look forward to for so long.
How it pained me being back in London,it was a long and torturous train journey.But we had finally reached Mama’s estate.I had changed into my gown on the carriage journey,much to the annoyance of Lord but I wanted to make my grande entrance.
‘Whatever is the matter my Lord?’
‘You’re a pure distraction my Lady?’
I could see what was going through his mind,the lust in his eyes.Deny it all you like,but I can read you like a book.Are you suggesting right here my Lord? He placed his hand upon my knee,I gently pushed his hand away.
‘I’m not that type of girl my Lord.’
We walked through the main entrance.
‘Everything’s going to be all right?’
He kissed my hand.
We made our way to the ball room,we stood near the entrance.
‘Es,and Ava you’re about to see your Gran’Mama.’
‘Will Daddy be there?’ asked Ava.
‘I don’t know darling.’
I turned and looked towards Lord Henry as she said this.Like a thousand knives ripping a hole through his beautiful heart and soul.Those words must have truly hurt him as he reguards those girls as daughters of his own.
‘I’m so glad that I’ve got you by my side.’
‘I don’t think gate crashing your Mama’s birthday gala was such a good idea?’
‘Any more of your ideas you will allow me to enlighten us with pray tell?’
‘I am trying to spare your feelings.’
‘I haven’t a present to offer Mama,but look at me Lord Benjamin?’
I placed Benjamin’s head in my hands,I can see him trying as he might to fight back the tears.I realise that he is trying to protect me.
‘What a perfect gift for her beautiful prodigal daughter to return,trying to make amends.’
I looked aeound,the scene looked just like a mirror image to how I departed New Dawn Estate.Some things never change,Evan and Holly looking ever so longingly towards potential gentleman that they would quite happily take for their husband.Mari and Letty pining for their husbands,no change there then? Mark and Edward the object of my sister’s infatuations yet again failed to make an appearance to support their wives in this pool of misery.Lady Antoinette’s birthday gala’s is hardly a feast,more like a famine so to speak.Parading poor Evangaline and Holly around as though there pieces of meat led into the lion’s den.I am quietly confident that they shall find love in their own time.
A familiar figure had her back turned,she was wearing her hair in a bob,accompanied by a figure hugging black gown,she reeked sheer seductiveness.The stranger slowly turned towards the light,smoking a cigar inside a holder.
‘My my,look who the cat dragged in?’ she purred.
‘Louisa,I’m so sorry.’
Lady Rickman boldly walked over towards my direction,and slapped me across the face.
‘You have some raw nerve showing you’re face around here?’
‘I did write to my sister Mari,she merely responded.Didn’t she say?’
Lady Antoinette was ever so deep in the art of conversation with my Aunt,the Lady Helene,her dear husband Uncle,the Lord Ernest had sadly passed away not so long ago.I was devastated when I had to hear the news second hand from Lady Lara Forster.
It was one of Lady Forsters visits,over time Lady Lara and I had become firm friends.She has become a tonic since I started my disagreement with my dear friend Sophia.Together we attended afternoon tea,she introduced me to some of her friends an Oswald and Matilda Devonshire to name a few.Encouraged me to be brave and circulate more in Italian society.Taught me that there is more to life than magical bunnies,snotty noses and shielding my children from bad dreams evil dragons etc etc. ‘That is what Nancy is there for darling.’
That day she looked a vision of beauty in a delicate pink day dress.I greeted her with a kiss upon the cheek.For a time her friendship filled a void within my heart.
how lovely it is too see you again?’
I kissed her upon her cheek.
‘I sadly bring sad news Gisele…Sir Holmes had word from London,your uncle the Lord Ernest has sadly passed away.’
Despite our differences I can’t believe Mama didn’t find it deep within her heart to tell me.
‘Oh Helene,I do not know where I got Gisele from…she’s so different to the other girls.Beauty has certainly become a curse to her.Oh sister,I despair of the child I truly do! I mean it Helene I hope she will never ever darken my door step again.I mean it,I wash my hands of hair.’
‘Surely you do not mean that?’
‘I wish she’d never been born.’
‘That’s harsh even for you…she was once a sweet child,sensible head on young shoulders.Opinionated for a girl of seven years old I recall her questioning a duchess at a dinner party.But I thought that it was sheer innocence.She indeed fell well when Lord Rickman placed a ring upon her finger.Though her recklessness is much to be desired?’
‘You weren’t there sister,I fear she will be the death of me! I must admit that their times when I miss her sunshine personality,and I miss seeing my dear grandchildren.I bet they no longer recognise their Gran Mama?’
‘I do not wish to alarm you Antoinette dear.But Louisa’s causing a scene?’
‘That girl has finally shown her true colours.’
The whole ball room fell silent,it was like the nightmare had become reality I was the masked swan about to bring shame upon the Delessop’s once more.But all I cared about was how my face burnt like fire,I clutched onto my face for dear life as I struggled against it’s impact. I still tried to remain composed and dignified.The brave and ever so gallant Lord Henry ran to my aid.
‘What do you think you’re doing hitting my fiancee’ in public like that?’
I looked at Benjamin,that was not how I longed for my engagement to be announced pubically.I understand that Mari is already aware of my news,after I told her.But how I longed to get us all together in Italy at a dinner party at Peonia rosa,I should sing like a beautiful song bird,exchange stories whilst indulging in italian’s finest wine.Remind Lady Antoinette of everything she has missed out on…to finally make peace with Mama.To announce that I am indeed madly in love with Lord Benjamin and that we plan to marry.But not like this,not to have all my dreams dashed within a heartbeat.Instead all of my sheer joy and glee is to replaced with such pain and hatred towards me.How I longed for the earth to swallow me at this point.
‘Too late.’ I sighed,trying as I might to appear untroubled by the current situation.I can not give Louisa the satisfaction that we’ve barely been together five minutes and already their appears to be friction between us.
Louisa laughed in disgust,is our engagement a joke to her?
‘Oh so he does have a back bone? Pity you didn’t discover it whilst you were together with me? All of the heartache it could have spared us? And fiancee’ didn’t take you too long to move on Gisele? I mean talk about a strange arrangement since you’re still married to my brother? What does the children think of their Mama’s arrangement? How many men have really left via the servant’s quarters that you’re ashamed of? To see their Mama cavort with a stranger in the shadows?’
‘I’m not a stranger to Ava and Esme.I love them.’
‘Love?! So what does Esme and Ava call you Benjy? I’m surprised they know where’s the stability the girls have in their lives.Forever palmed off to the nanny,while Mother gets her afternoon delight? Forgive me Gisele,but I’ve lost count…what is it Daddy numero tres?’
I saw Mama walk over.
‘What on earth’s gotten into you behaving like a commoner?’
‘Hold your tongue child!’ She turned to me,here we go my public execution.
I curtsied,I could barely look at her. ‘Lady Antoinette.’
‘Enough of the curtsying and addressing me as though I’m a complete stranger for heaven’s sake child.’
‘Happy Birthday Mama.’
‘I’m surprised you remembered?’
‘Your Mama,I could never forget that.’
‘I thought I made it perfectly clear I never wanted to see you again?’
Benjamin took hold of Esme and Ava.
‘Mama? Come on Esme and Ava.Your Mama and Grand Mama have a lot of catching up to do? You too Lady Henry.’
Louisa reluctantly followed Lord Henry.I know that he no longer cares for his wife,but I couldn’t help but feel a tad jealous.She could use her wit and charm,allow him to fall for once more.He can deny it all he likes.But in Versailles,the way he persuaded her against all of the odds.Is a sign that he did love and care for her once upon a time.She looks so beautiful,she can quite easily manipulate him by inviting him in with her bambi like eyes.I turned my attention back towards Mama.
‘I had to see you…’
‘Didn’t you understand my letters…my terms were written in black and white?’
‘My own Mama wishing I was dead.’
I started to circle around the room.
‘Well what do you expect Gisele? For me to get out the red carpets,treat you as though you’re some french royalty.’
‘That’s not true Mama.’
‘You know you could have come to me Mama? You had nothing to prove Gisele,you’re my daughter….you could have talked to me about anything you do know that?’
‘What? I could turn to you…say Mama I felt lonely after William’s death.My husband was pushing me aside…I even considered suicide.I had a lot of demon’s to face…is that what you want to hear? It would break my heart,if I heard those words from Es? ‘I hate you Mama.’ That would kill me,one day despite doing the best I can for them.Shielding her from her cruel father,I’ve ruined her life.I know I might pretend to care,acting the devoted Mama.But there’s distance between us.I remember Lady Antoinette,you speaking perfectly clear after the previous occasion.I betrayed Oliver’s trust.What would you do to me? What would you honestly like me to do? Look you in the eye,and say Mama I no longer love my husband…and oh by the way I’m leaving him for my sister-in-law’s husband.It’s hardly something to sing about is it?’
Lord Henry was with Louisa.
‘I’m sorry it was a shock.’
‘I have certainly awoken to my senses…tonight I’ve seen it all.My Louisa was sweet and kind,I thought you’d never resort to violence Lady Louisa? I’m ashamed to be married to you.’
‘You think you’re ashamed? Is it that they whisper of? Come off it…Gisele is milking it for all it’s worth,ever playing the victim it was just a mere tap to the face?’
‘You need to think before you act Louisa?’
‘Benjamin did you love me,or where you pretending the whole time? You vowed that you’d always look after me,swore to my brother that you’d never hurt me?’
‘Not as sorry as I am,I thought on my wedding that I was happy,marrying the gentleman that I was going to spend the rest of my life with.You made a fool out of me Lord Henry.Why her?’
‘Why choose the fairest of them all? The shy and reserved Gisele,you could have had your pick of Versailles beautiful women?’
‘So why chose to run away with my brother’s wife and my best friend?’
‘I didn’t mean to fall in love with her?’
‘So you’re telling me you accidentally fall into her bed?’
‘You and I,we where exhausting with your seating arrangements and doves.I wasn’t ready to marry Louisa,you drove me crazy that I was afraid to say no.You act like a fragile doll,I’m scared you would break if I refused you…as for your brother’s threats I was fighting a losing battle.There was a time Lady Henry,when I once loved you the night of my masquerade ball.It all changed when we married.I tried to make it work with you,thought the prospect of children would confirm this.But loving you Louisa…I was screaming inside,it was going against all of my principles.I love Lady Rickman.’
‘You don’t love her Benjamin,how can you barely know her?’
‘I believe that everything has changed…I couldn’t be more sure Louisa.Gisele and I are going to marry,I want a seperation Louisa.’
Lady Antoinette looked at me.
‘I was finally proud of you and then you do this to me? No sorrys,no notes just get up and leave? I have nutured you as a child, Taught you everything I know of this world…watched you grow into a young woman,taught you the etiquette of how to become a fine lady of Society.Twenty five years I have loved you and this is how you repay me? And to take Oliver’s children without his conscent is simply unforgivable? How would you feel if you discovered that Lord Rickman had taken your precious little girls away from you?’
‘Like my heart had been ripped out? What can I say? Get down on my hands and knees and beg? You’d like that wouldn’t you? Admit that I was lying…I wanted to tell you that Benjamin.’ I corrected myself. ‘Lord Henry and I are to marry with our without your conscent…’
‘You’re marrying him?’
‘I have guests to attend to.’ Lord Rickman.’
Lady Antoinette left us alone.
‘It didn’t take you long enough?’
‘I was going to write?’
‘Like that note you left?’
‘I wanted to tell you to your face.Oliver,I truly had your best interests at heart.After all you’re my husband and part of me still cares for you.’
‘You treated me the way you treat Duke Casey?’
‘I was seventeen years old,what I was doing why must you always throw that back in my face? I didn’t know what I was doing Olly?’
‘You lost your right to call me that when you ran off with that man?’
‘He has a name,he’s not a thing.’
‘The humiliation you caused me? I was stood there in front of everyone.You’re whole family and friends believing my speech.Saying how proud I was my love for you.You were so beautiful and I was so happy.You were back in my life,moving on from losing William.And all the while you where sleeping with Lord Henry? Where you with him that night?’
‘It wasn’t like that…’
‘Spell it out to my my Wife,isn’t a whore to go out with her sister-in-law’s husband.I should spit in your face for what you did.’
Louisa looked down.
‘Yes I hear you.’
‘You’ve changed your hair? I preferred it when you wore it long?’
‘You’ve lost you’re right to question my reasons.As soon as I left I was convinced that I should reinvent myself…asking myself why you never wanted me?’
‘You know smoking never appeared attractive to me Lady Henry?’
‘I’m no longer a concern of yours?’
I looked at my former husband,he looked so different.Lord Rickman once looked so dappa in his tux,never a hair out of place.That is going against the Rickman code of etiquette.He was standing in front of me,his clothes looked so crumpled.Hair ruffled and unkept.
‘Do what you like Lord Rickman,hit me hurt me….avenge your anger! Shake the damn life out of me! For I truly deserve it!’
‘You know I’ve never been that kind of gentleman.’
‘I’m sorry to taint your good name…I know that you would never lay a finger on me.’
‘I used to know you Gisele,not anymore.’
‘I’m sorry…Did you ever meet someone?’
‘You may have your faults Lady Rickman,broke my heart for the final.Despite it all how could I love again? Besides no one can match up to my wive’s high standards?’
‘I don’t deserve your kind words.’
‘Strip away all of the confidence,and make up.You’re still that frightened girl that was clinging onto the branch for dear life in the woods…When you discovered that you were carrying my daughter?’
‘You can not do that any more…Think your charm and empty words will once more turn my head and switch my feelings on for you once more? I always thought that you and Countess Aleksandrov?’
‘Tatiana don’t be so absurd?’
‘I always thought they’re was an instant spark between you? You’re meant for one another? She’s perfectly agreeable I’m sure! I ask,no I shall rephrase that I demand a seperation Oliver.’
‘All of my life,I’ve been told what to do I’ve been used and abused not anymore Oliver.I had my reasons for returning.’
Evangaline and my sister’s were all together,enraptured in one another’s conversation.I should be with them mocking Lady Helene’s ghastly green gown.Or forever amused at Holly’s latest muse the love of her life,how I long to be a part of that once more.
‘Holly I wish you would stop complaining,how are you ever to find a suitable husband with that constant frown of yours?’
‘I miss Gisele.’ sighed Holly.
‘Holly when will you learn? Gisele has long gone you will never see her again.’ snapped Letitia.’I’m sorry Holly if the truth hurts,but she has caused so much destruction to this family.She has shown where her loyalties lie? Chosing her love for Lord Henry,over her sisters.’
‘Can you remember the day that we where all here like this for Gisele’s twenty first?’
‘I’m sorry I do not recall any of this.’ exclaimed Holly.
‘That is because you had been cast out from the family.’ sighed Marianna. ‘Gisele had butterflies,I wrote to Gisele,asking her to come to Mama’s birthday.’
‘Are you out of your mind Mari?’ asked Letitia.
‘Despite it all,she’s our sister….Please I beg of you,she may have her faults but we should find it in our hearts to forgive her? Please girls,ask me of this whenever Lucille went astray did we turn our back on her? No we acted Lucille for who she was.’
‘We have picked up the pieces far too many times Marianna,you’ll have to face facts she’s never returning to London.’
Holly looked over.
‘I beg to differ.’said Holly.
‘Mari may be right after all,
‘Isn’t that Lord Rickman deep in conversation with Gisele?
‘Don’t be silly Holly,like I said before Gisele will never set foot in London again.’said Letitia.
‘No Letty,indeed Holly is right.’ said Marianna.
‘Oh my Evangaline,I think I’m due some more champagne?’
‘Oh less of the champagne! squealed ‘Finally Mama’s masquerade birthday gala has livened up!’
‘It’s finally happened Lady Holly has lost the plot.’ sighed Evangaline. ‘Should I go after her?’
Lord Oliver obviously held a grudge against me,after all I had ran away with his two children.
‘Whatever gave you the impression that I with Tatiana?’
‘I could see that she was awfully over keen with you…I’ve moved on and I thought you did the same thing?’
I looked at my glass of champagne.
‘This tastes awfully flat don’t you think Lord Rickman? It’s not the same thing when one’s taste pallet has grown fond and accustomed to Gargenega,I have it sent to me from Verona…for I deserve the best shame you never learnt that when we were together Lord Rickman?’
‘Still playing the spoilt and deprived princess card Lady Rickman?’
‘Lord Henry and I we’ve found a beautiful estate in Venice called Peonia rosa,with all of it’s beautiful grounds and it’s splendour.It’s to be ours as soon as we are married?’
‘If you’ve grown ever so in love with Italy,pray tell me why dont you just crawl back there? It’s perfectly clear that your Mama doesn’t want you here?’
‘I thought Gisele,you need to stop running.Time to swallow your pride,return to London and put things right once and for all.Fight for what’s rightfully mine…Skyr,Misty and Quinn are still residence at New Dawn Estate I presume?’
‘I’m sorry,but Sky’es dead,and since you were no longer around.I merely sold Quinn and Misty for some extra money to pour into that estate that you abandoned!’
I attempted to hit Lord Rickman,he blocked my so called deadly blow.Clasping my elbow into his hand.
‘Gisele,you need to learn to curb your temper.’
‘I don’t believe you?’
‘It’s true Skye was…I’ll have to be brutally honest with you my Lady destroyed.The horses were only a constant of you,you knew the business was in trouble and in need of capital before you left.So I had no option but to sell the damned horses!’
‘For one if you were in trouble then why pour all of the money into New Dawn Estate and you knew that Esme and Ava adored them.If your merely doing this out of spite go ahead punish me.I was coming back when I had the chance? You’re children that you care about so much are here tonight Oliver.What are you going to do? Tell them the truth,look you’re two girls in the eye and tell them that you’ve sold their precious unicorns?’
‘You win some you lose some?’
‘When did you become so heartless?’
‘The moment you walked out on me for the final time?’
‘Haven’t you destroyed Esme’s life enough! Oliver I can not deal with this,not right now.’
‘How are the children?’
‘Thanks to you Es is still having bad dreams,terrified her bad man of a father is going to steal her away…Oh and she’s bed wetting,but don’t worry she no longer a concern of yours.Nor does she reguard you as her father.She adores Benjamin.’
My sister’s came over at just the right time,Lord Rickman disappeared into the background once more.
‘Gisele? It is you!’ squealed Holly.
She started to examine my face,and touch my chest.
‘Come now Holly,pull yourself together.’
‘I’m sorry Gis,Never thought that we’d see you again?’
‘I’m quietly relieved that someone is pleased to see me?’ tears streaming down my cheeks.I embraced Holly.
‘Whatever is it?’ asked Letitia.
‘It’s just overwhelming being here again,and such a harsh reality seeing how much of a monster my husband has become? I know I took his good nature for granted so many times and I deserve his cruel treatment.But the extreme’s he’s prepared to go to.Did you know he sold Quinn and Misty?’
‘We tried to stop him.’
‘And Skye,what of her?’
‘Died of natural causes.I suspect she was pining for you?’
‘Oliver said that he destroyed her,because he had enough of her.I’m going to confront him.’
‘No that’s not a good idea .’
‘He has lied to me Letty,I have a right to shake the life out of him.What kind of a sadistic monster has my husband transformed into?’
‘A sadistic monster,who’s still madly in love with you.’ replied Marianna.
‘Why did you have to come back!’
It was Louisa,she had broken free from Lord Henry and was now running towards me.
‘I tried to stop her Gisele!’ said Lord Henry.
‘It doesn’t matter now Ben,get the children away!’ I begged.
‘Upstairs with me at once.’ said Letitia.
She got the children out of the way,I’m greatful for Letitia in doing this,as I feared that there was to be a blood bath.I didn’t wish for these scenes to be a lasting memory to my girls.Show time I was about to lose my last life and I wasn’t prepared to go down without a fair fight.Louisa was prepared to kill me,in sweet revenge for stealing her beloved Benjy.Louisa grabbed me by the hair,I started to panic,my panic.My whole body trembling for the scene eerily mirrored the occasion Earl Merrells tied me up beaten me black and blue determined to finish the job off once and for all.I was lucky that night,as Carl gallantly sacrificed his life in order for mine to be spared.Because of Carl’s’ sacrifice all peace was resumed in the Delessop household once more,I still live with the physical scars.Louisa dramatically parted the crowd of onlookers,ensuring she had everyone’s full attention.Lord Henry looked on with baited breath,unsure of his wife’s next move I struggled for breath.
‘Get off me!’ I begged.
‘Beg for mercy as much as you like Lady Rickman? As sister dear,no one will come running to help.Not even Lord Benjamin? Even your devoted sister’s have grown tired of your ways! Ladies and gentleman,what an honour to have your full attention at last! I should like to make a speech,not of wishing happy birthday to the great and all mighty Lady Antoinette.I should like to tell you a tale…Once upon a time there lived a sweet little girl called Louisa years she spent in her dark tower listening to her brother’s words of one day you will find the right person to marry but in the meantime do as your told.I endured smiling sweetly giving up on the true love until I met a beautiful princess she married my brother.I didn’t believe in love until I met my prince Lord Henry.I was so happy,I was blinded by this enchanted woman until she broke his heart time and time again.For years I’ve lived in the shadows,I’ve grown bored of merely being polite! Here stand before you,this common courtesan who pretends to be the perfect lady of society! Beware ladies keep your husband close by,as one flutter of those eyelashes and you may lose them forever! This princess is a witch enticing poor unsuspecting gentleman squeezing the life out of them…She’s lied and cheated ghosts throughout her life.Not anymore,and to think she has the sheer nerve to return to London.Do you still want to marry her Lord Henry? You may end up in a shallow grave too? Let this be your warning Benjy,I’m prepared to take you back.We could have that perfect life that we once spoke of?’
‘I should everything that need saying Louisa,my offer of seperation still stands a chance to get out? Start again?’
‘I don’t believe you…She did this to you didn’t she? You can run into my arms once more?’
‘No there’s no love.Only distance between us?’
‘I returned to London to put things right? Some home coming this turned out to be?’
‘Surprise surprise? Using your Mama’s birthday it always has to be about you doesn’t it?’
‘Please do not make a scene.’ I gasped for breath please lord will she let me go I know I deserve this.
‘I’m ever so sorry Gis,did I forget to bring the bunting out? Well pardon me for breathing.Earl Merrell’s should have killed you when he had the chance? You never loved him you were the feline and you toyed with him as though he was a pathetic little mouse.Had he carried out the deadly deed,I’d have happily shook his hand and congratulated him.Not for innocent Carl to die in your place? You were his true love and all of his life he tried to make you happy.You made a mockery out of him.You’re bad decisions has ruined so many lives.Why are you wearing Lord Henry’s ring? When you’re still in the eyes of the law married to my brother? What kind of Lady are you?’
‘That’s quite enough from you! Louisa!’
Louisa let go of me.I felt relieved that I could finally breath again,Lord Henry embraced me.
‘Lady Antoinette,I’m so sorry for speaking out of turn.Do forgive me?’
‘You’ve had far too much to drink girl! Oliver is right you’re just a silly little girl…struggling to move on from your husband.Unable to handle your champagne?’
‘That is not true!’
‘Get to bed at once and sleep it off!’
‘But the ball?’ Louisa protested.
‘You have disgraced yourself tonight Lady Henry.Do not dare show you’re face in this ball room again.I am so ashamed to reguard you as a daughter!’
Louisa took hold of the bottom of her gown and ran off.
‘Well she certainly ruffled a few feathers?’ scoffed Holly.
‘That’s quite enough from you!’ scolded Lady Antoinette,her eyes flashes with rage.
‘Sorry Mama.’ sulked Holly.
‘Mama.’ I swallowed my pride walked over and reached my hand out as an act of peace.It’s only right that I should put things right between us? ‘I thank you.’
Before I could address her any further,and speak of my full heart felt apology of how she was perfectly right I had let my family down and I was ever so sorry,she pushed me to the side,I clumsily fell to the ground.
‘I didn’t do it for you Lady Rickman.I have my pride and reputation to keep.Excuse me,thank to you and your spectacular display back there? I have a birthday ball to salvage.
It’s finally happend as I initially feared Mama truly meant those words in his poisonous letter she does wish that I was dead.It broke my heart to receive the cold shoulder from her.If only Lord William my Papa was here.He was only one that could reason with her.He would have approached her with caution,pleaded my case and maybe I could have been granted my final chance to redeem myself.Not anymore it’s all gone.
Fear that they were about to be cast out from the Delessop’s dynasty Marianna and my sister’s quickly left my side.Marianna and Letitia were at the side casually sipping champagne not allowing the situation to get to them.
‘Maybe we should go and help her?’ suggested Marianna.
‘Hasn’t you already did enough damage Mari,whatever possessed you to write to her?’
‘It wasn’t right that Gisele was to be isolated from Mama’s birthday celebrations? I mean how would you truly feel if you were left out in the cold?’
‘She knew of the consequences when she got involved with that gentleman? And she still went and did it?’
‘Seeing her tonight she looked so desperate,no one ran to her aid.She looked so frightened I wonder if Lucille felt that way when she died alone?’
‘Do not speak of Lucille’s death?’
‘Well when can we speak of her Letty tell me? Ever since Gisele left Mama stopped talking of her Lucille,and as for poor Holly receiving the brunt of her wrath? She doesn’t deserve this ill treatment?’
I felt so broken upon the floor,everyone had forgotten about the previous events and began getting on with their dancing old service had resumed.I felt like a stranger to my friends and family,I noticed Reinette and Tom were in the background with Sophia and Daniel.
‘I don’t see why I should make peace with her Reinette?’ said Sophia.
‘You should see her in Italy Sophia,she looked so happy.’ said Tom.
‘You may have found it in your heart to forgive her Tom…But sadly I can not.’
‘Sophia’s right.’ replied Daniel. ‘She has lied and deceived us too many times Tom.’
‘Can’t you at least go over and talk to her,offer your congratulations of her engagement?’ pleaded Reinette. ‘You’re one of her oldest dear friends,it would mean the world to her.She may not admit it Sophia but she misses you dearly.’
Lord Henry came to my aid.
‘Ever the gentleman.’ I smiled.
‘Let’s go.’ he replied.
‘Go where? Oh Benjamin I feel so humiliated.I should have listened to you,I was ignorant to your point of view we should never have returned to London.I believe I got off lightly with your wife? For I feared she would have dragged me out into the grounds and pushed me into the fountain? As for Mama’s public dismissal,I should have been drowned at birth! Saved my family and Oliver all of the pain and suffering.Carl would still be alive if he never met me?’
‘My Lady so not ever speak like this!’
‘I’m sorry,but I speak of what is true.I do love you Benjamin,for you’ve tamed my wildness.I just wish I could escape my torrid past.Oh how I wish Louisa and I could go back to how we were in the earlier days?’