Moon light it looked so beautiful,my eyes transfixed upon it’s wonderous nature.As it streamed through the window,tonight was unlike any other night for I was a restless soul.Knowing what I knew,I clutched at the crucifix around my neck,it no longer symbolised my faith nor of new hope.But of the cross of shame and guilt.Why I couldn’t bare to lay beside Lord Henry tonight,temptation got the best out of me for I couldn’t resist sneaking a peek of my lover alone,a thing of beauty.He looked so peaceful and dreamy.One look at him,then the flashbacks of the sheer horror from my past and I instantly fall apart.I miss him so,but I can’t mask my emotions,I aught to act disciplined and distance myself.He’s the one and only reason why I breathe.But the past few months,he is the only one who has questioned my authority,doubted my motives.My heart aches how he feels that I’m only with him to make my former Lord Rickman wild with jealously.Tonight I’ve proved his point right,I may not have strayed from his side but I can still feel the stain upon my lips,the alcoholic and cigar aroma makes me gag.I feel so grubby and dirty,it’s too late to bathe for Mama and the others in the house may sense something is wrong and I refuse to give Lord Rickman the satisfaction I shall deal with this in my own unique way.I can not bare to be in this position,no longer know how to love my Ben.He’s the only one who can handle my wild disposition.Oh my love,I couldn’t cope if he took Lord Rickman’s word,over his version of events over mine.Turning my back upon his fiancee’ would be one deadly blow to the heart.
I feel as though my future is slipping away from beneath me.The beautiful fairytale will be over before I’ve even had a chance to say ‘I do.’ After all Oliver is good,he could lie upon oath in a place of court if his life depended upon it.Profess his innocence.Perhaps for my benefit swear upon the bible.Portray his former wife as the nymph,bestowing the forbidden kiss upon his lips.He doesn’t realise how much of an animal he’s become.The alcohol has taken a hold upon his brain,consumed like a drug.He’s fully become dependent upom it.Why it made him evolve into a dark beast before my eyes,I no longer recognise the man I married.Ever so greatful he,we didn’t commit the deadly sin of…I can’t continue the sentence.I’m more greatful he didn’t rip my beautiful corset from my body.The way he touched m,he may have gently swept my hair away from my shoulders but his act of the perfect gentleman stops there.I have marks upon my shoulders to prove it,the way he man handled me.Carefully concealed them with a shawl from Benjamin,he’s bound to jump to the wrong conclusions.Tears quickly rolled down my cheeks,I need to be with my sister’s right now.Sure they’ll take my word over Oliver’s?
Thank heaven’s Mari and Letty are staying at Mama’s,for one Evangaline and Holly although I love them so they are so naïve wouldn’t know what to say for the best.I mean Holly sometimes speaks to fill in the awkward silences.How I feel for Mari and Letty,they have their own problems but always remain steadfast and strong.They barely see their husbands,Edward and Mark they’re lucky if they receive the occasional letter from their beloveds they could go a week a month even without receiving word.The war may be over and the battle won.But like all noble knights at the realm,they have the duty and position of their regiment to protect the good of the country.I didn’t know how they survive on faith,preying that their husbands will return ever dreading the letters that drop through the door will be the dreaded telegram,that seals their fate in a split second.Stating they’ve gone missing in action or dead.Haunted at the memory,recoiling in my body over the memories feeling that Lord Rickman had died.I should be greatful for what I’ve got the love,compassion and companionship of a good gentleman.I bravely knocked upon their bedchamber door.
‘Whoever is it at this untimely hour?’
‘It’s Gisele.’ I whispered.
‘Allow her in Holl.’ scolded Evangaline.
Holly reluctantly allowed me in,they were all gathered upon Mari’s bed.A scene just like the good days,Evangaline sprawled across the pillow with her legs in the air.Exchanging stories of her encounter with Colonel Clarkson I should imagine? All that’s missing was the ever so beautiful and fair Lucille.I miss those familiar heavenly sounds of her giggles.Lucille Delessop,oozed such confidence and certainty about her future what a tragic waste.Endless talking by secluded candlelight so Mama wouldn’t suspect a
thing.Engrossed in conversation about sheer nonsense to avoid going to sleep.Mostly about gentleman.
‘Go on continue? It’s starting to get rather interesting.’ smiled Letitia.
Evangaline rolled her eyes,in a dreamy kind of way.Dominic,Colonel Clarkson I almost forgot where I was there.I’m sorry to shatter your illusions my dear sister’s.But there’s nothing really to tell.He said that he’d invite me over to his estate.No idea,when that’ll be show me around and perhaps he will teach me to ride his horses.’
‘That’s secret code for he’ll show you the stables I should imagine?’ I cheekily looked at Evangaline.
‘Gisele,I’m not like you.’
‘You’re such a wall flower,Evangaline you’re beautiful embrace it.Tell me where is your sense of adventure?’ I teased.
‘Not everybody’s like you and the delightful Lord Henry.After all I have my pride and dignity to think about.’
‘Whatevers happend to you Gisele you used to feel the same obsessed with remaining your pride?’ said Letitia.
‘I don’t think you’ll have that to worry about Evan? Judging by appearances I doubt Colonel Clarkson is that type of gentleman? He’s frightfully dull if you ask me?’ said Holly.
‘Nobody asked you for your opinion Holly-Florence?’
‘Oh Evangaline,must you address me by my full name how I hate it so?’
‘Serves you right?’
‘Girls!’ scolded Marianna.
‘Well she started it.’ said Holly.
‘I’m ending it now,honestly must you two always squabble?’ sighed Letitia.
‘Colonel Clarkson for your information Holly,is a kind and thoughtful human being.Why he’s a romantic at heart.Trying as he might to get over his beloved Cecile.’
‘Evan’s in love?’ teased Holly.
‘I shall jolly well hit you if you don’t stop.’
‘Ignore her Evangaline,she’s only jealous.I mean why you’re a breath of fresh air,some might say the right tonic that the Colonel’s needing to mend his broken heart.’
‘Thank you for your vote of confidence Gis,he’s a darling.An absolute pussy cat compared to Lord Arthur.The stories Benjamin shared with me tonight would make Papa turn in his grave.Look at my arms,the hairs are standing up on end I’m still in shock.Oh I could physically gag that I was bought by his endless lies.But no matter.I got off rather lightly.
What stories? Lord Benjamin didn’t say that he had anything to hide? What kind of shady past does Lord Arthur could be so wrong.That Lord Henry is so ashamed to speak of? I completely understand that we said no more secrets,complete honesty was the way forward in order to survive in our marriage.Well it’s suddenly dawned on me,I have absolutely no idea of what kind of family I am marrying myself into.For one I realised I didn’t have the full support of his parents.Yes I could deal with that,but this is too much.What other secret’s could my lover be consealing from me? I mean I lay there night after night.He could be a serial killer for all I know? Perhaps he has a secret love child to a harlot he has kept sweet in Versailles.Oh I shudder to think,maybe he’s not as perfect as I first initially thought.Lord Henry what secret are you protecting me from?
‘ He’s such a darling looking out for me in that way?’
‘My hero.’ I whispered under my breath.
‘Gisele,you must thank him for me.I insist.’
‘If I must?
I looked down,trying as I might to shield the redness of my eyes.
‘Is something bothering you my child?’
‘I’m perfectly fine.’
‘Come now,it’s not like you to be a restless soul? I know that you and Lord Henry can be like? Don’t deny it I know the way he looks at you? You normally can’t keep your hands off one another? Sometimes Letty’s tempted to throw water over the pair of you?’
‘Whatevers changed?’ asked Marianna looking curiously.
‘Oh you know Mari,forever wishing Lord Rickman would stop plaguing my thoughts and scuttle back under the rock he sprung from?’
‘I assumed you and Oliver had reached an understanding? Reconciled your differences for the sake of your children? That you’d forbid anyone say a bad word against him?’
‘That was before I discovered,he’s just like the other bullies that’s ever dared to cross my path.Like Earl Merrell’s and Duke Matthew,I never thought he would.’ I composed myself. ‘I can not believe I’m giving him the satisfaction of allowing him to bother me in this way.’
‘No,I can not believe that for one minute?’
‘You weren’t there Letitia.So don’t you go defending him.Sorry for I’ve said too much.’
‘Come now,you can’t say things and then refuse point blank to end them?’
‘Sisters,I refuse to continue because I am afraid to finish in case you don’t believe me? Why I’m starting to question my sanity…that worm I used to refer to as my protector and husband.He has absolute hold over Mama.’
‘You know that is not true?’
‘Oh it is so.She thinks he’s whiter than white.Going around acting all so charming and dashing to cause unsuspecting to swoon in his prescence.That he wouldn’t harm any fair maiden.Why he’s the noble knight the ever so valiant King Arthur,it was his wife Guinevere that betrayed him with his trusted Lancelot.’
‘I think she has a twist in the tale as that isn’t how legend has it.’ whispers Evangaline. ‘I mean don’t I remember Guinevere was ever faithful to her Arthur?’
‘Not in her head,By George! She’s finally lost it!’squealed Holly.
‘Hush,allow Gisele to speak.’ exclaimed Letitia.
‘I’m not going mad,my word I wish to god I was! I think I’d feel safer in an institute.He had me completely fooled,had me up on a pedastle and I allowed him to as I once thought I loved him.He was once this tall dark mysterious stranger.That I was longing to know more about,eventually I was bought in by his sob stories of his tragic past left with his sister as his ward.No father figure to look up to.Drawn in by his kindness beauty and generosity.Powerless to fight against my feelings for him any longer.His brooding features invited me in,manipulating with my emotions,enough to bestow a ring upon my finger.Naive was I to ever think I’d be ever bound to him even now.Lord Rickman filled me with false hope that if we didn’t work out he would eventually have to let me go.Unbeknown to yours truly turns out he has an unwritten law that I’m merely his property.Tonight in the darkness away from prying eyes he did just that.’
‘I needed time alone.’
‘Nothing new there then,you sense as though you’re drowning and you run.’
‘I felt suffocated….Oliver felt as though the walls were closing in on him too,I assumed that he was being a friend.Saying how he felt for me,saying the things I longed for my Benjamin to say,not once did he mention Papa.Oliver sensed that I was missing him andexclaimed that we’d toast to Papa’s memory in the drawing room.Stupid that I were I believed how sweet my Olly still was,despite all of our history he still cared for me.Alcohol consumed that Oliver that I knew,his fingers running through each individual lock of my hair.I squirmed as his fingers traced their way down my body.Leading to my thigh,then my stockings.He pulled me in,yearning for more.I repulsed at his touch,he thought he could heal me? Not making any sense at all.His soul is not of love no more it’s only made of ice.
‘Fetch her a brandy!’ said Marianna.
‘Please,I need to get it out of me before I choke up.He said that he missed me,but no he didn’t act towards me as though he missed me.Not like an old lover returning from war and rekindling his love for me.He wasn’t patient,allowing me for time to think the truth sticks in my throat like cyanide.His animal antics took over him,gone was the perfect respectable gentleman.He said he was well within his rights,as I was his whore.Only his,tonight he stripped away my dignity and brutally kissed me.’
‘Does Benjamin know of what went on tonight?’
‘No and I’m not intending to tell him Benjamin has been ever so patient with me.Sparing my feelings,as my heart’s been healing from my hurt.If he knew the true extent of what occured tonight.He’d feel as though I encouraged him,that I insticated the kiss.As for Mama,she’d easily take Oliver’s word over mine she looks to him and sees him as the son she never had.All sweetness and light,the wronged man.As I remain the villainess of the piece,little does she realise is Benjamin is my perfect ending.Ever since I’ve returned here I’ve been walking across a bed of nails full of regret in order to get over the other side in one piece.’
The next day after last nights unexpected event,I attempted to make my way down the stairs quiet as a mouse without trying to preventing to wake Lord Henry.One false move on the stairs and I will awake my sleeping beauty.I examined the staircase in detail cob webs hung if Lady Antoinette was aware of this they’ll be hell to pay.I stumbled upon one of Esme’s toys.
‘I recognise those dainty footsteps!’
Damn those stairs.
He boldly came behind me and kissed my neck.I winced a little.
‘Is something troubling you?’
‘Ben,you startled me?’
‘Good morrow my fair Juliet.’
‘Good morrow my kind Romeo.’
‘Whatever happend to you last night?’
‘Burning the candle so to speak.’
‘You’ve lost me? I was kind of hoping you would come to me last night? Why I was a tortured soul without my true love? Why I had champagne on ice,room fit for a princess,rose petals sprinkled upon you’re bed?’
‘I’m flattered by you’re sweet gesture.’
‘I didn’t want to waste a second of this heavenly evening.My way of apologising.’
‘You can be overwhelming at times?’
‘I simply can not help it,you’re beauty has this effect on me.I think I’m owed a simple explanation?’
‘I didn’t want to wake you my Lord.You looked so peaceful,my sleeping prince.’I mocked him.
‘Hasn’t bothered you before?’
He placed his arms around my waist.
‘The truth of my where abouts.I had to unearth the details of my sister Evangaline’s encounter with the Colonel?’
‘Unlike Evangaline she’s normally lost for words?’
‘Quite the opposite,she had quite the story to tell? She said the words..bare with me just for one minute to get the words right.I had to thank you Lord Henry,I mean she was so full of enthusiam as though you’re her knight in shining armour.Tell me Benjamin,why does my sister have to thank you? My Lord is hiding something I can tell? You’re going all shifty eyed?’
‘It’s nothing my Lady,I promise you.’
‘She was desperate to paint a picture of your dear Arthur.But something was preventing her? Why?’
‘As I said before you know Evangaline ever the silent type.’
‘Why is that Benjamin,did you buy her silence?’
‘There are somethings that you aught not to know? Come now Gisele everything is all right,you have nothing to worry about it’s between you’re sister and I….it’s all resolved.’
‘What did you’re Arthur do that is so bad that you are unable to share with me? You are aware of all of my secrets?’
‘I do know that.’
‘Well I’m waiting?’
‘Whatever is it cat got your tongue? Benjamin I’m about to become you’re wife in a matter of months and the prospect of marrying another terrifies me because of my past.But none of that mattered because I thought that I had you’re full honesty.I trusted you with my heart,I share a bed with you every night.My children look up to you as a father figure….You stand before me know and you have the nerve to say none of this concerns you? And you’re consorting with my sister? Is that all it is? Or are you being unfaithful with her? I mean it hadn’t stopped you before? Have you any rende-vous in the stable that I aught to be aware of?’
‘No! How could you possibly suggest that? I love you?’
‘Love,such an easy word to fall from your lips Lord Henry?’
I heard Esme’s cries from the nursery,she must have heard our heated confrontation.I stopped in my tracks,I can’t believe I have been so self-centred worried whether Lord Henry has been unfaithful with my sister when all of the while I didn’t stop to take a breathe and consider the damage this is doing to my two daughters.
‘I’m coming petit Esme.’
He took hold of my hand.
‘You apologing doesn’t mean you’ve wriggled out of this predicament.After I have dealt with my daughters bad dream,we are going to sit down in the drawing room and discuss this.I want to know every little detail…as I refuse to leave any stone unturned.’
With that I left his side,and headed to the nursery.I saw Esme cradling into Marianna.
‘I heard Es’s cries,so I came immediately.’
‘Thank you Marianna.Where is Ava?’
‘Having breakfast with her Papa.Oliver,he insisted that he spent some quality time with her.
Marianna passed Esme towards me. ‘Is it any wonder my girls are so confused with these terrible living arrangements? I have Mama to thank for this.Not knowing who to call their father.How dare Oliver defy me? Benjamin is Esme’s father in name if not in blood.I do not want that man any more near my daughter.What will it take to erase him from my life? Money,I do not care if it’s blood money I will do what it takes for I refuse him to destroy her life.’
I kissed Esme’s forehead.
‘Mama is never going to leave you.’ I could smell her sweet scent upon my body.
‘He was very apologetic over what happend to you? He will explain it all.’
‘Really you think a meeting set up between us will solve everything?’
‘The matter is between you and Oliver,I will not come between you two…’
‘Mari,where no longer married.’
‘You still have your pride?’
‘If only that where true?’ I sighed.
‘I will see you at breakfast?’
‘I don’t think that’ll be necessary Marianna.’
‘Oh you will come.’
‘Must I always bow down at her command?’
‘Mama’s serving up quite the breakfast feast.’
‘Oh great more croissants?’
‘Don’t be so ungreatful,when you’re ready of course.’
Marianna left Esme and I alone,twenty years of age and still being at the beckon call of my Mama.Yes Mama,no Mama three bags full Mama.Please allow me to breathe for just one moment for heaven’s sake.
‘Whatever is it Gisele?’
‘Aunt Mari is so pretty isn’t she?’ smiled Esme.
‘Isn’t she just?’ I smiled. I brought her closer to me.
‘I love snuggles with my Mama.’
‘I’m sorry that I haven’t been there for you Es but you always know that I’m always there for you?’
Esme nodded her head.
‘Now whatever is it?’
‘It’s nothing Mama.’
‘Come now Es,I know when you’re lying to me? Do you want your nose to grow as big as Pinocchio?’
‘Mama he’s a puppet.’
‘Esme your Papa and I brought you up to be honest with us,I can tell when you’re sad….Whatever is bothering my precious little angel today? Has Ava been unkind to you? If she has then Mama will be having a few stern words with her?’
‘Then whatever is it,was it another bad dream? If so I have something for you.It’s called a dream catcher I shall place it above your bed tonight,it has a special job a fairy sits on top and catches all of the bad dreams.Only leaves you with the nice ones.’
‘Are you and Papa angry?’
‘No darling,of course not.Why?’
‘Are you still getting married? I heard shouting Ava said you’re sad because of us,don’t you love him anymore?’
‘Ava was very bad to say that to you? Big sister’s can say things but they don’t mean them…Ava is only teasing you.Oh my sweet Es,please do not cry,I hate to see you upset.Of course you’re Papa and I love one another.It’s just that Mama is finding it very difficult adjusting to being back here.I miss Italy as well let me see this house it holds a lot of sad memories.Well of your dear Gran’Papa it makes me sad to see he never got to see his two beautiful grandchildren and then there’s you’re Uncle Carl Mama misses him so much as he was her best friend….’
‘And Aunt Lucy?’
‘Yes my sweet,Mama misses Aunt Lucille too a great deal.’
‘Please don’t be sad Mama.’
‘Oh you are so sweet my darling.’
‘Did I meet Aunt Lucy?’
‘No darling sadly you and Ava never had the opportunity of meeting her.She was have loved you girls,indulged you girls in sweets and lavish gifts.’
‘What was she like?’
‘She was a lot like you two,sweet without even intending to.Used her charm to get out of difficult situations,extremely bright and mischievous.A heartbreaker to all gentleman that crossed her path.She could twist him around her little finger,all it took was one look and playfully twist a strand of hair around.You know Uncle Tom? Before he met and married you’re Aunt Reinette and they lived happily ever after.Like all Kings and Queens do with their little fairy princess Lucille? Well there was a time when I thought Lucille was going to marry him.Tom was sweet but wasn’t bold enough to make an honest woman out of Lucille.For he was a man of no titles and feared that would bring scandal to our family name.He was merely a humble Architect,not great designer he is now.Despite that,Lucille didn’t listen to talk,she used to arrange secret meetings with him.He was Lucille’s Prince.Though she didn’t want to admit it.She loved him in her own special unique way.They had a bond,and a recognition for art.’ Tears rolled down my cheeks as began to remember the beautiful love story.I quickly composed myself.
‘Now where is my little girls beautiful smile? I do not want you to ever worry.As Papa and I love you so much.I kissed Esme upon her cheek.
‘Now,Gran’Mama has promised a breakfast to remember,go and play whilst your Mama gets dressed.Heaven forbid how she’ll react if we keep her waiting any longer.’
I was dressed in my yellow day dress,I hope Mama doesn’t think my choice is inappropriate but I craved the sun light the warm colours.I opted to wear my hair in loose curls today.Breakfast time,was a trying time to sit through so many questions I wanted to ask Lord Henry,but know wasn’t the appropriate time and I can not believe I had to share the same air as Lord Rickman.I couldn’t barely look at him as he addressed me.
‘It’s a beautiful day Lady Delessop?’
‘Isn’t it just?’ I smiled.
‘Oliver and I are thinking of walking around the estate later? Care to join us if you like?’ smiled Louisa.
‘That’s awfully kind of Louisa,but I have things that need attending to.’
‘Oh? Anything exciting?’
‘I doubt it much.’ I sighed. ‘You know the usual,corresponding to various friends.’
‘Pity,perhaps another time? Maybe afternoon tea?’
‘I would like that very much?’ I smiled.
Holly and Evangaline where watching the scene unfold. ‘Why can’t Gisele just be honest with Louisa.’
‘Hush Holly.’ Evangaline casually kicked her under the table.
‘Shouldn’t Louisa be aware of what her brother’s capable of?’
‘That is between Oliver and Gisele.’
‘It’s our duty to protect her,havent you forgotten the Delessop’s sister code?’
‘Of course I haven’t.But I’m staying out of it.’
‘He’s a monster.’
‘I think you should jolly well do the same.’
‘But nothing Gisele is perfectly capable of handling this.’
I turned away from Lord Henry.
‘Must we quarrell?’
‘We shall discuss this matter further….but not here.’
‘You can be impossible sometimes?’
‘I am not rising to the bait,especially not in polite company.’
‘Enlighten us,you’re wedding is in a matter of months?’
‘Yes that is correct.’
‘And still you have nothing to show for it.’
‘It’s all in hand Mama. Why it’s going to be a beautiful and serene day.Something you will be proud of.I have my beautiful dream dress,the place is so beautiful why it will make angels weep.I have my beautiful Sophia agreeing to be my bridesmaid.You have made me so happy agreeing to do this.’ I clutched onto her hand.My beautiful sisters and Reinette alongside me,my angels as flower girls.I just have one vital ingredient missing….Louisa?’
‘Before I am about to begin,Lady Louisa,I realise that I may be about to put you in an extremely difficult position and I haven’t given you the time to think of a suitable answer…Since you where once married to my fiance’.I know waht you must be thinking that it is a spare of a moment thing,but the day wouldn’t be complete without you.I have a proposition for you will you do me the honour of becoming one of my brides maids?’
‘Gisele,I’m extremely honoured that you would consider me?’
‘What say you?’
‘I’d love to.’
Lord Henry looked at me,my if looks could kill? ‘Lady Delessop may I have a quiet little word with you in private?’
‘If you must my Lord? Louisa we shall discuss more of this over afternoon tea?’
‘I should like this very much.’ she smiled.
‘If you excuse me?’
I followed Lord Henry in the corridor.
‘Haven’t we got over these secret meetings?’
‘Why change the habit of a life time?’
‘No I refuse to discuss our matter in public,in the drawing room.Walls have ears.’
I opened the door and beckoned him in.
‘Is this necessary?’
‘Yes,secrets and lies almost destroyed this family…Now is something troubling you my Lord?’
‘Not at all my Lady.’
‘Come on,don’t tell me you wanted me alone to have a secret tryst?’
‘I wouldn’t say no to that?’
‘No,there’s more to you than that? More depth to you than just that? I can read yout body language like a book? The way you hold yourself? Clutching your hands,the terrible tension between us?’
‘You look beautiful did I ever mention that? But you know what I’m like when you wear your in such a way?’
‘You came in here,to tell me that? I don’t believe you? There’s something more underlining that’s bothering you?’
‘Louisa? You’re grande gesture out there?’
‘She’s a friend.’
‘Haven’t you forgotten the grief she’s caused you?’
‘All forgotten about.’
‘Or is my Lady trying to make a point?’
‘This isn’t a game,we reconciled our differences shame you can’t forgive and forget.’
‘Couldn’t we have discussed this matter in private? Before humiliating me?’
‘I never intended to…What can I say it was a spare of the moment thing,and it felt so right.Louisa standing by my side on my wedding day.My special day that I’ve been planning for such a long time,losing sleep over every little detail.I refuse to let you down.’
‘At times I don’t think I don’t deserve you?’
‘You do,you will do me proud I know it.I trust you.
‘Trust? It’s such a funny word isn’t it? You speak of being humiliated in front of my family of what Louisa becoming my bridesmaid? It’s nothing compared to what you’re hiding from me? Tell me,do you get a kick in what you’re doing to me? I mean am I so inferior to you that you can not share this heavy burden.’
‘I had no intention to hurt you?’
‘I have a secret to confess to,I feel I aught to tell you.Lord Oliver he attacked me last night.’
‘When I disappeared.I’ve got to go.’
‘No,you must stop running.’
‘You might not like what I have to say?’
He took hold of me and kissed me he pushed me against the wall.I pulled away.
‘I wish you’d stop doing that,using power.Leave me?’
‘He was an animal,he wanted me….he ravaged me as though I were a piece of meat and loved every minute of it.’
‘I don’t believe that for a minute?’
‘Well I might as well have my public hanging now,before I stand before my family.Oliver will have them eating out of the palm of his hand.Say I encouraged him say that I was asking for it.That I was standing before him,begging him.I deserved it.’
‘It’s true,I’m nothing but a common courtesan begging for scraps.He’s finally getting his act of revenge after all of the ill treatment I gave him.’
‘No one deserved to be punished in that way?’
‘He called me his dirty whore no one else’s.I’m still his despite being with you.’
‘He can’t do that’
‘You try telling him that.’
‘No he didn’t my love…But I am so close to that,I could feel his breathe on his body.’
‘Why are you telling me this?’
‘His hands upon his body almost broke me,if I kept this from you this could have destroyed us.’
‘I trust you.’
‘I couldn’t lay with you,knowing of this….my conscience got the better of me.So I sought my sister’s.I wanted so badly to come clean with you but I couldn’t find the words.I love you,so much it hurts.Then all the while I discover you’re playing you’re cards close to you’re chest.I took hold of Lord Henry’s hand. ‘No matter how big or small you’re secret is? I will not judge you?’
‘I’m going to kill him!’
‘I don’t want to cause a scene!’
‘Lord Rickman will not get away with this! How dare he touch my fiancee’.’
‘Look at me,I’m perfectly fine.’
‘No you’re not,you’re practically shaking?’
I touched Lord Henry’s face to soothe him. ‘There’s been enough blood amongst this family.’
‘You expect me to sit peacefully alongside him at dinner,smiling politely.Knowing what I know?’
‘Yes because you’re the better man.Rise above it,I beg of you please that’s all I ask of you.The sooner we are husband and wife then we are to leave London never to return you have my word.Please Ben for once trust me?’
‘You know I do.’
‘Now it’s my turn to do the same.I’m waiting?’
‘Evangaline and I aren’t see one another.I don’t know why you’d suggest that,I’d never be unfaithful to you.You’re impossible to live with sometimes.I can not wait to marry you.Ashamed of you? No I’d never feel that about you.I’m scared you’d think less of me? The Henry Dynastry aren’t as perfect as we make out to be.’
‘The Delessop’s dynasty have plenty of skeletons in the closest.Yes secrets have torn us apart,but there’s far worse.My Gran Mama the stories Mama has told me would make you blush.Why we thrive on scandal? It’s in our blood.I mean take yours truly for example,I’m hardly an innocent,I’ve did things that would make your toes curl.Am I ashamed yes,but it’s all in the past.The moral is whatever you have to throw at me,I won’t go in all guns blazing we will sit down and discuss this in a mature adult and contemporary way.Be it murder,fraud,frivoletry.Oooh don’t tell me? Lord Arthur has embarked on an incestious relationship with Ana.Is that why they’re always awkward around one another?’
‘No,don’t be so absurd.They just don’t see eye to eye.That is all,it’s not at all like the tangled plots in your obscured novels.’
‘I’m sorry Benjamin,please you’re making me ever so nervous.’
‘Arthur,my brother he was quite a player in his time.The Casanova of the Henry’s.Why Henry VIII is a gentleman in comparison to my brother.’
‘Tell me something that isn’t new?’
‘Well Arthur,he was such a restless soul,even at a tender age.He was an educated fool,mother and father had his whole life mapped out for him.Betrothed to a beautiful young lady named Clara,too beautiful for Arthur’s liking.He never played to his parent’s tune,much to his parent’s disgust he had itchy feet and longed to see the outside world.He took off with a word,didn’t have the decency to leave a note of apology.Word reached us that he was working his way,preying on poor defenceless females.Allowing them in with his friendly charm and interlect.My once so perfect brother soon came known as a gambler and a petty theif.’
‘So you’re brother’s quite the mask of zorro so to speak?’
‘Zorro has nothing on my brother.He was travelling upon a train,one day when he had a chance romantic encounter with a stranger.A beautiful sweet bella donna called Adrianna,the courtship developed extremely quickly I believed he’d changed.He returned to Versailles claiming he’d met the woman that would eventually become his wife.Unbeknown to us the love’s young dream were doomed from the start she had been fooled.Claiming that our family had reached financial difficulty.Adrianna took pity upon his misfortune as like Evangaline fell for his sweet perfect poetic words agreed to sell her jewellry believing her lover would pay her back in good time.Poor Adrianna was left with nothing,her family disowned her.Arthur stole her heart,as well as her reputation and fortune.’
‘And Evangaline became involved in this because?’
‘Evangaline and I wasn’t embarking upon a passionate liasion.Quite the opposite,I fear I’ve tainted Evangaline’s sweet nature.A night with yours truly and I would corrupt her.It was completely innocent,she means nothing to me in an intimate way.I was merely comforting her from her miss guidance and fortune.She was so convinced she’d driven him away.I was just putting her mind at ease.’
‘My poor sweet sister,I’m ever so sorry that I doubted you.Will you ever forgive me?’
‘I’m sure we can come to some sort of arrangement Lady Delessop?’
Lord Henry stretched out his hand and I politely took hold of it.I looked into his eyes and I knew that I could trust him with my heart.I gave him a playful glance and beckoned him to chase me up the long winding staircase,putting all feelings inside I longed to be with him,lose myself in his strong arms maybe that’ll enable myself to forget about the horrors of last nights events.I stopped in my tracks.
‘Lady Delessop,you look as though you’ve just seen a ghost?’
‘I came looking for you,Gisele I have something that I’d like to say to you.’
‘Please is this necessary?’
‘May I offer my most humblest apology.I behaved completely out of character,I am so ashamed.’
‘You don’t have to explain yourself.’
‘I vowed that I would forever protect you.’
He noticed the marks upon my neck.
‘Did I do this to you?’
‘I’ve experienced worse,the scars they’ll heal.’
‘Will you forgive me?’
‘Gisele,you didn’t say you came to harm at his hand?’
‘I’m perfectly fine Benjamin.’
‘No,you’re not you’re trembling.’
‘He’s had this confrontation a long time coming Gisele.So here we are,at long last face to face,I demand a duel Lord Rickman.’
‘Isn’t that a tad old fashioned what century do you think you’re living in? The dark ages?’
‘It should be I,that you have the issue with.Not the lovely Gisele,after all I tore two marriages apart.Broke your precious little sister’s heart.There we’re times I squirmed whenever you went near Gisele,and the children scared you’d wield your way back in allow Gisele to fall in love with you once more and I would be left out in the cold.But Gisele,ever the trusting type she has a good heart,my fallen angel.Oh Oliver is perfectly harmless,a good man perfect gentleman of society.Please give him the benefit of the doubt,why he’s lost everything at my hand.He’d forever protect me to the end of the earth.All Lady Gisele did was so wrong was fall in love with another gentleman.’
‘Something that isn’t her husband?’
‘Hardly worth a public hanging is it?’
‘This matter is strictly between Lady Delessop and I this doesn’t concern you.’
‘Gisele,is the warmest sweetest most genuine girl I’ve ever met.’
‘Gisele is no girl,she’s a fully developed woman in case you haven’t noticed?’
‘I shall let that remark pass me by as we have ladies here present.I’m privileged that she’s actually given me the time of day.She finds it difficult to get close to any one in fear that she has some curse placed upon her since birth.She ever carries the scars,of every beating she received from Earl Merrells.Living in fear the next one will be her last.What kind of environment is that to bring up her children.She’s a devoted mother vowing to protect her two children.I know her inside out,the sweet dimples the freckles that she is ashamed of.The marks that he did to her.She looked up to you,still admired you and respected you from afar.Because despite everything she still loved you,you still remain a part of her.Also simply for being Esme and Ava’s father.But you start to get nasty and heavy handed because Lady Delessop’s physical needs are met elsewhere.You may apologise for all and sundry Lord Rickman,but that’s because you’ve sobered up and feeling guilty.I’ll have you know she told me of all the vile things you reduced her to.No gentleman should speak to a lady in that appalling and disrespectful way.She’s not your whore,no longer you’re property.Tell me Lord Rickman how do you sleep at night? I could hit you,beat you black and blue leave you broken onto the ground.But I do not want to give you the satisfaction.You can pull at Gisele’s heartstrings all you like.She can forgive you,but let me tell you one thing Sir.If you ever harm a hair upon her head.I will hunt you down and kill you Lord Rickman with my bare hands if I have to and damn the consequences.’