Lord Henry led me onto the cold marble floor,that’ll teach me to abandon my diamond encrusted shoes at the side of the ballroom floor.Oh my days! How my feet hurts me so,my toes are pinching me! That’ll teach me for chosing outer appearance than comfort.My mind started to wander whilst being in the arms of my love.What I would give right now to be in front of a romantic roaring fire and for Lord Henry to give me a foot massage.He can always work wonders,all of my tingles are running down my spine.Lady Gisele,this isn’t appropriate at all,Lord Henry looked down towards my feet, eyeing them attentively.
‘Well well well Lady Gisele,if Mama could see you now dancing bare footed with your fiance’ quite the scandal?’
‘Lord Henry,I’m merely showing the free spirit that I truly am.’
‘I sense a slight touch of gypsy blood within my precious little Gisele?’
‘Shh Lord Henry,please do not allow Mama hear you say that.Imagine what Lady Chadwick may say if she ever got wind of this conversation?’
‘Rest assured your secret’s safe with me my Lady.’
Lord Henry bowed towards me as the opening first notes of the song began to play.The warm rich lyrical sounds of the violin struck a chord in an almost haunting kind of way.The melodic echoes of the angel harp sent shivers down my spine.Why it almost transported me back to the beautiful Venice.Lord Henry,dominant as ever took full control,boldly taking me into hold.My how I love this level of sophistication and intimacy with him.I could close my eyes,for a split second and it would be just us.If only this were true.Why if I had my own way I would elope,I can not bare the attention focused upon me once more upon my wedding day.I love Lord Henry with my whole heart,I’m mad for him to speak.But alas were no longer love struck teenagers,that’s not how a grown lady aught to behave in society.Benjamin gently clasped onto my hand,pushing me in ever so tightly.Which made me gasp with excitement.We waltzed around the ball room,the various ladies locked eyes with their lovers or in Holly’s case a poor unsuspecting gentleman moving on in a counter clockwise formation.It was as though it was out of a fairytale.I looked on and admired the display unfolding before my very eyes.The sheer excitement,but trying as she might to mask her emotions.Much too soon to reveal her inner depth of her feelings poor thing.How I remember it well,the thrill of the chase,Evangaline,how she moved with such elegance and grace.In the arms of the debonair Colonel Clarkson,whilst I on the other hand struggled to keep up with Ben’s fancy footwork.I Initially felt ill at ease,like a new born deer.Stumbling toward’s it’s proud mother.But one powerful and may I say sheer look from Benjamin’s dark penetrating eyes made all of my fears vanish.Forever feeling safe in his arms it was a miracle that I managed to pull myself together.That’ll teach me to take my dancing shoes off,oh how my feet ache.Lord Henry and I became one again,he held me ever so closely in his arms.He gently kissed my forehead.
‘Well well well Lord Henry I detect you’re liking your close work tonight? Not that I’m complaining I admire those qualities in a gentleman.’
‘Standing before me my sweet lady,you look like the queen feline proudly surveying her much loved kingdom.’
‘And what part do you play in this surreal scene?’
‘Before ever toying with her prey,why I’m a poor unsuspecting mouse waiting for the feline to raise her claws and pounce…’
‘You’re comparing yourself to a weak and feeble creature the lowest of the low of the food chain? The naive mouse,ever so sweet comfortable in it’s own skin….weak and naive.Weak naive and sweet are no ways to describe you.I see you in a different way.I’d describe you as a gallant,dominant lion,especially behind closed doors?’ I whispered. ‘Is my Lord blushing?’
‘Lady Delessop,impish little remarks like that you’ll be put to death.’
‘Let them try,let them dare touch me and put me to death my Lord.Drag me to the unhallowed gallows kicking and screaming,I shall boldly look upon my executioner with a smile upon my face for I’ve previously just my lover to my bedchamber.As this maiden’s final request for one last moment delight.They can try as they might,tie my hands behind my back.Beat me,break me bleed the love I feel for you that flows through my veins.Steal away my passion,their piercing sounds enclose me.Before I break the rope that enchain me and I make a bid for freedom.’
‘Lady Delessop you have such a vivid imagination?’ Lord Henry raised his eye brows.
‘No,I’m happy for my beautiful Evan,hence for my sunshine exterior.For she has finally found her muse,her kindred.Tell me,where’s the crime in that?’
Colonel Clarkson summoned up the courage to make speak. ‘Lady Delessop may I say it’s been an absolute pleasure.’
‘Holly’s loss has been my gain…Likewise Colonel.’ She smiled.
‘Dominic my Lady.’ He kissed her hand.
‘Only if you call me Evangaline?’
‘Lady Delessop,when I return to my grande estate.I shall write to you immediately and arrange an outing.We shall get you acquainted with the horses and if you’re feeling brave? Maybe I could teach you to ride?
‘I should like that very much.’
‘Be still my beating heart.’ I sighed longing and hoping for that lady to me.Not involved with the Colonel of course,to be in the throws of romance with Lord Henry if only things were different.I would have loved to be romanced and courted out in the open with him.I wouldn’t have been reluctant to be in an arranged marriage with Benjamin,he’s so devilsly handsome without intending to.On reflection I look at myself now,and feel nothing but doubt.I mean honestly what is Lord Henry doing with me? I cannot barely look into the mirror any longer.Ever day I see a litle line appear upon my forehead.I know it hardly resembles the scars I carried from the beatings I endured at the hands of Jack.But youth is no longer on my side,all I see now is a poor reflection of my former more glorious self.The old Gisele has been hiding for ever so long.The dullness remains in my once bright impish eyes.What if once we are married and Lord Henry finally has the longed for ring placed upon my finger.What if I can not bare him that longed for son of us? He may stray elsewhere and once again I shall be left with nothing.
‘Yes my Lord.’
‘Is everything all right?’
‘Perfectly fine my Lord.’
‘Why are you addressing me as though you’re in a court? You’re certainly no Ophelia….You just seem distant that’s all?’
‘No,I’m just remonising fonding that’s all.’
‘Do you often wish it was you and I experiencing the first flush of romance running through your’e veins?’
‘No never,I’m blissfully.What do I sense my Lord is displeased with my answer?’
‘Do not lie or use me Gis…’
‘I have no intension to use you.’
‘I detect that all is that well in your world?’
‘Oh hark my Lord doesn’t believe a single word I am saying?’
‘Sometimes I feel as you’re pulling away from me,saying words merely to please me?’
‘I reflect upon what I had then and what I have with you now the tenderness and beautiful bond we share is unbreakable.When I wake up and you’re laying peacefully beside me.I pinch myself and count my lucky stars that you’re here with me no one else.I feel as though my looks are fading I no longer see myself as the youthful pretty young thing that chased Carl down the hill on a summer’s day.Soon I will become invisible to you.’ I said under my breathe.
‘Sorry,I didn’t catch that last part you where doing that mumbling thing again?’
‘You know I only do that when I’m nervous.’
‘Lady Delessop,you have nothing to be nervous about.Tell me will you miss England’s pleasant green pastures? The hustle and bustle of London once we’ve returned to Italy?’
‘Not a jot.’
‘You’re not saying this to please me?’
‘Let me think will I miss the sudden urge to breathe? As I walk through the town.The choking thick smoke,the familiar smells of this place Mama’s strong perfume,all I have remaining here are nothing but unpleasant memories.As for you thinking I’m lying to you.I’d never do that,I was open and brutally honest with you about the true nature of Duke Matthew’s death I didn’t have to but it was plaguing my thoughts.My sheer love and admiration for Carl and the inner depths of my violent relationship with Jack.Why doubt me now Ben,this is making me question our relationship.There was a underline reason for my return to England,lay some old ghosts to rest.To say hello to my son William.I feel so cut off from him in Italy,him lying in the ground rotting with the worms alone when it should be me in his place.Yes Oliver was perfectly right. we should have cremated him.I was shut down in shock refused to listen to him. The very thought of my beautiful son’s perfect body burnt to cinders….I believe that the lord had a purpose for my return,that was your Louisa.I’m ever so glad that I have resolved my differences with Louisa.
‘You have no idea what that means to me? Why it’s music to my ears that you’ve acted maturely put aside your differences…’
‘Ever so sorry to burst your bubble Ben…Mama and Papa once taught me to swallow my pride.Life’s too short to carry heavy burdens or to hold a grudge.Us Delessop’s women use a stiff upper lip and carry on.I mean didn’t you learn anything at sunday school as the Lord himself taught you to love,he died upon the cross a slow and grisely death to allow us mere mortal’s to forgive.Yes my beloved,I wasn’t always the bewitching nymph….I did not do that act of kindness nor of guilt to repent my unfaithfulness to her brother.I do not ask for Oliver’s forgiveness.I offered this olive branch,as my hand of friendship for myself as it was the noble thing to do.I am fully aware that you are against having anything more to do with her.Erase her from her lives and for a while I could deal with that arrangement.The truth is I missed her and she felt the same way.She helped me through ever so much,Louisa she through her harsh words was drowning throughout it all,she was reaching out.Such a fragile,beautiful misunderstood creature.I fear she may not recover from this.’
‘Oh don’t tell me you have been taken in by her sad little girl lost act?’
‘We did this to her Benjamin,we owe her that!’
‘You and I we owe that woman nothing.Tell me truthfully.What did we do that was so wrong? You have gone against everything I stand for?’
‘Is this what it all comes down to? You’re just like all of the gentleman I despise it all comes down to duty doesn’t it?’ Are you blind,you have absolutely no idea do you.To think I respected you because you we’re different? You may not understand why motives but I was told to respect other human beings feelings not to cowardly hide behind duty.We acted unfairly I didn’t reguard Louisa at all,no quite frankly I did the opposite stamped all over her pure heart.’
‘There’s nothing pure about that woman,and may I add unrequited love on her part.’
‘Unrequited love on her part.’
‘That may be but who stole away her dreams? I was the one who dealt the fatal blow,I should have ignored your lingering looks?’
‘You and I are both aware that isn’t the case.’
‘Don’t you dare put thoughts into my head.’
‘Why you couldn’t possibly think I could have been happy with her? I mean don’t you recall you almost ruined her wedding? Declaring you’re undying love for me? How those thoughts of lust running through your head wanting to be with me waking up beside you was plaguing your thoughts?’
‘Don’t,I could have got over you,if only you allowed me to do so.If you had kept you’re distance the foundation and joy of children could have brought you both together? Louisa would have made a wonderful wife and Mama if only you had given her the chance to prove herself.Instead of jumping into my cold bed the night of your wedding,I mean that is low even for you?’
‘The truth is finally coming out now.Couldn’t you have revealed this to me before starting a new life in Italy?’
Being back has truly got to me,opened up old wounds.’
The night I came to you,I needed you regretting my actions I knew in my heart I shouldn’t have married that woman.But it was too late,I placed that ring upon her finger and sealed my fate.You could have shown me the door,but you behaved quite the opposite you only encouraged me.You know my angel….’
‘I despise myself,you know Lord Henry I would have waited an age for you in these past few months I’ve grown as a person and I realise now that we went about exposing our liasion the wrong way.Louisa,is the injured soul of the piece.The damaged Ophelia and if I can not save her,if you’re preventing me from doing this.Then you Benjamin David Henry you make me completely lost for words.Even when I am so mad and upset with you,why do you have such a powerful hold over me? What you do to me,you look of yours.I mean even the look of disappointment,when you place your fingers upon my bare skin causes instant intense heat between us.Allowing me to forgive and forget once more.I love you,you know I do but nothing everything is to be on your terms I’m my own person and if you can not see that then Lord Henry I can not be around you at the minute.Tragic but so true,I’m sorry.’
‘Is this you telling me it’s over before we’ve even begun?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Gisele please say it isn’t so.I love you god damn it!’
‘You may love me Lord Henry but…’
‘Is this you running again?’
‘Yes Lord Henry.Coward that I am only standing up for what is true,this is Lady Delessop running away once more.Forgive me.’
The haunting beautiful sound of the soloist echoed around the room,I wanted ever so much longed to stay for the chorale but couldn’t bare to be in the same room as Ben,I felt so betrayed.Oh how I vowed never to run again,but I can not believe the one gentleman I grew to know and love can be so heartless and cruel natured towards his one love and wife.Not realise he’s doing it,under pressure gentleman can be so emotionally stunted.Maybe just maybe I could have prevented this too late now.I mean how do I know if my marriage to the Lord will work out.Will we be blessed with the grace of having children,I had the patience,hope and faith that it will happen.But the much dreaded seed of doubt that was once planted in my mind was consuming me.Will he act all emotionless towards me? His masked swan,the lonely angel he has saved from falling.Maybe that fateful night when he found me crumpled upon a heap he should have allowed me to die.
I was lying upon the dark bathroom floor,abandoned by Oliver.Grief stricken from losing William I prayed for mercy and no one heard my desperate plea.Clutching the pills and champagne I planned to slowly slip away.Taking a deep breathe I summoned the courage popped a pill into my mouth.I was shaking for what I was about to do,all of a sudden I collapsed on to the floor gravity took over my body.Lord Benjamin noticed the overflowing water and discovered me naked upon the floor.I was more ashamed than anything else.
‘Stay away from me!’
He noticed the pills upon the floor.
‘How many have you taken? Answer me!’
‘What does that matter now?’
‘You may not care but I do.I love you you stupid woman!’
‘No you don’t you love Louisa.Good bye.’
‘Oh no you don’t,think of Es and Ava.Oliver.’
‘Oliver’s abandoned me.’
‘Your husband may not be fulfilling his duties as a husband and left but I will not.’
‘You have Louisa to see to?’
He took no notice of what I had to say of Louisa,he demanded I spit them out one by one.I went frightfully pale he clutched my body and kissed my forehead.He cradled my body I fell in to his arms once more.From then on despite vowing to fight our intense feelings for one another we formed such a close bond.I could stay there forever despite displaying my body,I realised where I was and demanded him to get me a robe.I blushed a little.He took hold of my arm and embraced me ever so warmly that day on I fell so in love with that impossible gentleman.
Such a painful memory to recall,but he saved me.Why am I running away? I love him so much,I feel safe with him.The betrayal will always come between us.Clutching onto my shoes,I carefully made my way barefooted to the far end of the estate grounds.It was ever so dark and extremely cold I stood beneath the archway and stared out into the yonder distance.I fear that my sister’s where right ever since I have been with Oliver,there hasn’t been a period where I paused for breathe and survived alone.Declan,Jack and now Benjamin.I mean despite everything I’ve always gravitated back towards Oliver not this time.Truth is I can not bare to bring my girls up without a father.The shame of Italy…I mean is this cold feet talking? Or do I truly love Benjamin since I’m beginning to see him in a whole new light? No Gisele,don’t be so absurd this is the champagne talking,playing clever tricks with your mind.Of course you love him,he’s your kindred spirit you’ve been ever searching for.Suddenly I’m beginning to realise how harsh I’ve been towards him.Yes of course I should be greatful,that he no longer reguards her in a romantic kind of way.Back then their feelings of intensity and sheer lust.Love on Louisa’s part.Fondness and admiration on Lord Henry’s side.I looked up at the sky once more for some much needed guidance.
‘Carl,I bet you’re revelling in my new found misery? Laughing at your favourite lady’s misfortune? Yes you were perfectly within you’re right to doubt my feelings for Lord Henry? Oh hark at you Gisele,poor little rich girl what does she truly know of true heartache and tragedy? Well I can tell you the events I’ve endured I could write a novel and make a small fortune for I refuse to be a kept woman.Did I ever tell you about Lord Rickman’s absurd idea of whilst we where still married of running a stable for various lord’s and ladies.I mean can you imagine? Little old me a woman of business.Yes you’re perfectly right I might have ran off with the stable hand.Yes,I admit know that Lord Henry and I once had a heated encounter in the stables at Versailles.I was so ashamed then,but that is more excitement I had in such a long time.I can tell you all of this as you’re a friend and not once did you judge me? You must feel that I’m happy in my new life well what do you think? I’m standing here my cold stocking feet on the eve of my engagement gala.Talking into the misty distance,longing for you to ride upon your horse and rescue me.I may have my hair looking beautiful and prim.Not a curl out of place. Appearance a heavenly glow,looks can be deceptive.My make up may be flaking from my constant tears….Oh I’ve never felt so lost and vulnerable in all of my life.I need you now to reach out from beyond the grave and kiss my hair like you used to do.You’re not dead,why you only went away from me.Come back to me now,I beg of you!’
I turned around to face my former husband. ‘What ever do you want?’
‘It was all getting a tad too much for me…I came out for some air.’
I couldn’t give him eye contact. ‘Holly can be so overbaring at times.’
‘Look at you?’
‘Please sweet pea.You’re freezing?’
‘Leave me be Oliver.’
‘Why are you only in your stocking feet?’
‘Who are you my Mama?’
‘You can be so stubborn sometimes?’
‘Maybe I have a reason to.’
‘Why isolate yourself from the world?’
‘Since when do I have to bow at your command? You are nothing to me.’
‘I detect you’re frightened? I heard you Gisele.’
‘I am no longer a concern of yours?’
‘Lady Delessop you know you can still talk to me,just because we’re no longer married it doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring for you.’
I noticed that he was smoking a cigar.
‘That’s extremely sweet of you Oliver.Perhaps you can do something for me? May I have a cigar?’
‘Now come now,what would Lady Antoinette say if her daughter emerged back into the ballroom smelling of cigar smoke?’
‘Scent of my Papa you mean? She’d barely notice?’
‘You and I can toast to him later in the drawing room,alongside a cheeky glass of brandy? A fitting tribute to Lord William?’
‘I saw you clutching a glass on the day of you’re Papa’s funeral.Smoking a cigarette you looked so beautiful.This night must be extremely difficult for you?’
‘Lord Henry has barely mentioned his name? He should be here with me.’
‘Well Lord Henry didn’t know him like I did.’
‘Papa should be here right now alongside me,acting the proud and devoted father toasting his little Princess’s happiness.’
‘How he idolised his Gisele and I him.’
‘You know that I’ll always be here for you and the children.Be a friendly ear.A shoulder to cry on?’
‘Thank you ever so much,for your sweet and generous gesture.Extremely noble to think ever so highly of your former wife.’
‘Indeed under the circumstances.’
‘But it’s no longer you’re duty to nurture and protect me.I’m perfectly fine,content and happy in my life.’
‘Are you questioning me?’
‘How can you be possibly be happy?’
‘Hang on all of those words of kindness,stepping aside so I am able to marry Lord Henry was not because you truly meant them? Why they were merely to get into my stockings once more?’
‘Well if the cap still fits?’
‘You’re still drinking you promised me?’
‘I was surrounded by temptation my Lady.Remind you of somebody?’
‘You arrogant pig! Why you’re certainly no gentleman are you?’
I attempted to slap him.
‘One false move and I will slap you so hard that….’
‘And you’re certainly no Lady?! Now now violence solves nothing.’
‘I’m not afraid of you.’
‘I detect thee olde halo is slipping once more?’
‘How dare you judge my life!’
He touched my arm.
‘Unhand me you fiend or I’ll scream,I mean it.’
‘I’m ever so sorry if I may have offended you,thr truth hurts?’
‘I was so wrong to be taken in by your words.I mean how could you ever be happy for me? It’s all falling into place you’d always think that no matter which gentleman I ended up marrying I’d somehow gravitate back to you.You’re Claudio’s to my Hero,Anthony to my Cleopatra you know that is not true there just tragic hero’s in an old tatty play of mine that lines I clutch onto for solace and dear life.I never thought I’d ever say those words about my beloved bard.I was caught up in his wonderful little worlds because whilst I was with you I wanted the despair and anger to leave me.That’s how you made me feel,being here reminds me of how this household so many dark secrets….I never felt true love till now,our love blazes like wild fire.’
‘Is that why you ran?’
‘You’re about to marry a scoundrel?
‘Benjamin, he has a good heart.’
‘Don’t tell me,he’s got to you two?’
‘We’ve been over this numerous times please why won’t you understand? I love him,with every breathe of my body.’
‘He’s a dangerous man.’
‘He’s a pussy cat.’
‘He has hurt my sister,destroyed your friendship.Don’t you resent him for that? You where once so close?’
‘We’ve resolved our differences,it’s all in the past.’
‘But it’ll never be the same…you used to be her one and only trusted confidante she told you everything.’
‘It’s a thing of the past.’
‘You don’t know that for certain? I mean do you know what he’s thinking every waking second of the day? I mean are they devoted to you or of other women he is pursuing?’
‘Go to hell Oliver.’
‘I didn’t want it to get nasty.
He grabbed hold of my wrist.
‘Let me go,or I’ll scratch you.I mean it.’
‘Finally the dirty feline is revealing her true colours? Shouldn’t we keep all of this foreplay behind closed doors?’
‘You’re nothing but a bully Oliver.Just like Jack.’
‘How dare you compare me to that sad and pathetic lowely man.You waltz back into here like a whirl wind you’re Mama may forgive you therefore you think you’re so perfect such a saint.But underneath it all you’re nothing but a sad and lonely little girl.I watched you tonight,since you’ve returned the way you move.Place your hands upon your knee at the dining table.Trying to seduce me with those alluring eyes of yours….whilst everyone is bought by your sweetness and light.You’re Mama may think you’ve changed for the better? But all of your wedding gown designs from you’re fancy magazine.Trying to brain wash you’re sisters the fake italian accent.The way you portray yourself you’ll never be one of those classic beautiful italian women that ooze such class and sophistication.I see under the make up,the facade.You’re not at the height of sophistication…’
‘I think I’ve had enough of you dissecting my personality,stripping all that is good away.’
‘Lord Henry may have caught your eye serenaded you with sonnets and endless dancing? Look closely into the light Gisele,you’ll always be a dirty little rich girl that Lord Henry had his wicked way with.’
He slowly lowered his hand down to my thigh.
‘How dare you touch me in that imperitent manner.You couldn’t be more wrong,you’re jealous because he loves me.’
‘Louisa thought the same she got the impression that she was the love of his life.The Leopard never changes his spots.His head will soon be turned by a brighter gazelle.A shining star,all pure and innocent.Soon be stalking his prey once more,you’re no longer that pretty little thing who charmed him….allowing him to fall in love with you.He’ll grow bored of you’re running you’ll see? Gone are those porcelain doll like features,you’re all shrivelled up like a dried up rose.How can you not know he won’t leave you alone with you’re broken dreams?’
‘You’re damaged goods.’
‘That maybe,but nobody knows you like I do darling.I know every part of your vulnerable body.My whore,I could have you right now if I wanted to.’
‘Don’t flatter yourself.’
‘You’re my sweet pea,I know what makes that little mind of yours tick.Leave that rogue and come back to me.’
Lord Oliver kissed me,it wasn’t like the first time after I accepted his marriage proposal.Gone was the tenderness and electricity that once flowed through my body.He wasn’t gentle,it felt awkward and rough.He pulled me towards him towards the fall,I fell into his arms.Try as I might to pull away I was frozen to the spot,he was strong.Strong like I remembered,his alcoholic breath repulsed me there was nothing romantic at all from our encounter.I didn’t want him and he just wanted to prove a point that no matter what I was still his at the click of his fingers.His hands moved down to my waist once more moving down to my thigh.I have to break away I can not go through with this,I do not love him.I managed to pull away my brain finally registering in my body.Try as I might to kick him in the groin,I couldn’t.How dare he use me,alcohol was his demon brought the worst out of him.Where was that gentleman that I once respected? How dare he use me,he once loved me once upon a time.Adored me,respected me.I mean what happened when he found out Duke Matthew raped me why he went out to confront him and got involved in a deadly feud.Leading him to go to war.Oliver once respected me,turns like he’s just like Matthew ever thinking my body’s his temple,his own precious property.Completely forbidden for any other gentleman to touch.
‘You sad pathetic little man! I’m fortunes fool once more for being taken in by you.Good night to you Lord Rickman!’
I ran inside as fast as I could.Like Romeo Montague,I certainly was fortunes fool.Will my fate be sealed the same and be banished from my childhood home.After all Mama,the great and powerful Lady Antoinette.How can I tell her that my former husband attached me.Oh Oliver wouldn’t harm a flea according to her.Instead of being exhiled to Mantua like my Shakespearean hero.I shall be banished to Venice never to return to England again.