period drama, Uncategorized

Chapter 19

Chapter 19
I couldn’t make any excuses of the power of champagne taking over my thoughts.This wasn’t the ghost of my gentle giant Papa coming to comfort me.But of my past.Lady Forster? Once such a close friend and confidante.We told each other everything once upon a time.I simply can not grasp the fact that she’s married and to Sir Holmes? Last time I saw Lara,it was the evening of my engagement she looked so troubled.Different,she said how extremely needy Sir Holmes had become.
‘Gisele,I fear I’m second best for I’m moulded as clay,in an image that Sir Holmes is longing to be.His perfect english rose….you.I know you’re of french blood but you’re this perfect little creature the woman’s love his frightened to let go of.I see a change in him,he’s becoming ever so possessive dark and so moody.
I’m the one to blame,I pushed Lara into making a life changing decision I asked her to give Declan a chance.A part of me felt greatful that I had met him,but I no longer love him.Thats of the past context.A part of me felt envious I never thought Lara would be a perfect substitute to replace yours truly.
The days Sir Holmes and I spent exchanging notes,our last kiss under the archway.The sound of his melodic laugh,laying in his arms under the stars dreaming about tomorrow.All of that lost,fading away like dust.Instead of saying,begging him. ‘Please don’t say you love me Sir Holmes,do not promise me marriage as it might not last.I was under pressure of an unwanted marriage.I gave him dreams,but fools rush in.With a blink of an eye,I stole his dreams and happiness away from him.Left him yearning for more.The power of love,and not the long lingering love.The five seconds of that long lingering love or the fluttering butterflies.The power of love was of a beautiful child.Captured by my sweet and gentle Ava.

‘My Lady?’
‘No,not at all.’ I quickly brushed myself down and composed myself.I can not allow my feelings to run away with me.After all,I had a captive audience.
‘Has cat got your tongue?’
‘I do not understand?’
‘What is there to understand? Can you not grasp the conceopt of here and now? You and I,recognised a fondness for one another.Kissed upon a heavenly night,you stomped all over my heart.After that,I rebuilt my character ruffled my feathers and became a handsome phoenix rising from the ashes…’
‘Do not insult my intelligence Sir Holmes,I do not need you to paint a picture.I can see things quite clearly.’
‘I never intended to hurt you.’
‘Darling,I shall take it from here.Shall I? Gisele Sir Holmes,made an honest woman out of me at long last.Why does that seem wrong? Why must you question everything? Aren’t you happy for finding true love at last?’
‘I’m so happy for you Lara,I truly am.I do not speak of jealously,I’ve just been taken by surprise that’s all.’
‘Declan,he was sweet and awfully romantic Gisele.’
‘Is that because you’re with child? Forgive me,for pointing this out but I find it hard to believe Sir Holmes could love another other than my sister Gisele,and I can’t help noticing you’re carrying an awful lot of weight quite a hefty weight since our last encounter…’
‘Pardon me?’
‘I’m so sorry Lara.Forgive my sister Holly,at times she allows her mouth to run away with her.’
‘Thank you Gisele,sister dearest.But I can speak for myself.’
‘Yes,that is what I’m afraid of.’
Letitia decided that it was the right moment for her to cut in. ‘Holly dear,be a darling and take the children to see their Gran’Mama?’
‘What? And miss all of the fun? Don’t be so absurd,for once I’m centre stage amongst it all.I refuse to miss a single second Letty.’
‘Is it true that you’ve learnt to play your Mama’s piano forte Ava,Esme?’ Asked Marianna.
‘A little.’ replied Ava quietly.
‘She practices every day.’I added.
‘Well,no time like the present.Come along,go and show your Aunt Holly.I can imagine judging by the look upon her face she’s dying to hear you play? Isn’t that right Holl?’ smiled Marianna ever so smugly.
Yes,she has twinkle twinkle down to a fine art.Don’t you angel?’
‘Yes Mama.Please Aunt Holly.’ Ava looked up towards Holly with her puppy dog eyes.
‘Yes please Aunt Holly.How can you refuse such an angelic face?’
‘Oh if I must!’ protested Holly. ‘Come now Esme and Ava.’
‘Thank you.’ I mouthed to Marianna.
Holly gestured them towards the estate.
‘I’m ever so sorry….Holly can be a tad forward at times.Well?’
‘Don’t be absurd,surely you’re not suggesting the only reason Sir Holmes professed his intention of marriage.Is because I’m with child?’
‘And even if Lady Lara were? None of this concerns you Lady Henry.’
‘Ever the closed book Sir Holmes?’
‘I’ve changed Lady Henry.’
‘I doubt that very much Sir Holmes.’
‘Lady Chadwick is present? I’m ever so hurt? I always thought you reguarded me a close confidante? There must be a simple explanation? Why my invitation must have got lost in the post?’
‘You have got to understand Lara.It was my greatest intention to write a letter enclosing an invitation.But ever since our return from Verona.Time rushed by,couldn’t catch my breathe.It’s been a whirlwind,a canvas of colour schemes,moods.Tones for this beautiful grande place.I got caught up and lost in the frenzy and excitement of things.I’m sorry.Lady Holmes,I apologise for being such a bad friend…’
‘You can stop this tragic talk of being a bad friend,right this second Lady Henry.For your darling husband Lord Henry,he took it upon himself and wrote a warm and ever so touching correspondence.Enclosing an invitation.’
Lord Benjamin came closer to my side.
‘Light of my life?’
‘Care to explain?’
‘Yes,ah indeed.’ I whispered. ‘Do tell me Benjamin darling.You missed an important detail? When where you going to tell me you had invited Lara?’
‘I was going to get around to it.’
‘What? And spare my blushes not of embarassment,but of humility.Of discovering Lara and Declan had married?’
‘I wasn’t aware of that?’
‘I’m sorry but I know Lara extremely well,I mean she didn’t write to you did she not? Ben?’
‘Then I can not believe she would miss out such a happy ending of her marriage to Sir Holmes.I know Benjamin,I’m perfectly well that I’m a fellow female specimen,it’s all in the detail.Tell me truthfully,did you read her reply Ben?’
‘Believe me my love,I’ve been pretty preoccupied with the estate recently.I was going to get around to it,you have my word.’
‘Indeed you were my love.’ I patted his shoulder.
Lord Henry looked towards Declan.
‘Sir Holmes.’
‘Lord Henry?’ He raised his hat as he addressed him.
‘Don’t rise to the bait my love.He’s not a love rival.’
‘I believe you Gisele,but it’s him I do not trust.’
‘Sir Holmes,raising your hat isn’t really necessary? It’s not as though you’re trying to start a courtship with my husband?’
‘No,but it’s the gentleman thing to do Gisele.’
‘I’d rather prefer if you would address me as Lady Henry….you’ve lost you’re right to call me that.After all I’m no longer you’re lady love.’ I blushed a little.
‘My Lady,why do you blush? Tell me are you embarassed of your husband?’
‘No not at all.Don’t be so prepostorous.’
‘Lord Henry and Sir Holmes are like two stags fighting for the prized female?’ said Evangaline.

Yes indeed Evangaline was right,Lord Henry and Sir Holmes locked horns as though they had something to prove to me? One fears he’s a coward,for allowing me to walk away from him.Not truly fighting for what he believed in.Why he threw the white hankerchief down.The other fighting to keep hold of his new wife.Living in constant fear her attentions will be asserted elsewhere.But both having something in common,acting like two proud,dominant and oh so arrogant male stags.Fighting for the affections of the blushing beautiful bright young fawn.Oh how Lady Isabelle must delight this Lady Rosaline looked on in sheer jealously and lust,pining for Lord Rickman.
‘My Rosaline you’ve gone a deep shade of green.’ teased Evangaline.
‘My stomache is slightly delicate.’gagged Lady Rosaline.
My mind wandered oh how I miss Louisa.Ever since Oliver’s midnight flit she isolated herself in Serenity Estate.
Holly gazed out of the window.I suspect curiosity killed the cat as far as she is concerned.
‘Holly Delessop! Come away!’ ordered Lady Antoinette.
‘Mama,I’m merely spectating!’
‘Holly I repeat,come away from the window at once! This is your mother addressing you!’
‘But Mama!’
‘You’re not too old to receive a good thrashing!’
‘I can not believe I am stuck in here,listening to Ava attempt to play twinkle twinkle and three blind mice.Must I say,it was ever so sweet at first.But to hear it over and over in a constant loop.It’s indeed torture!’
‘Please,I beg of you my ears are bleeding! I’d much prefer I were to be put in the stocks and had a public flogging!’
‘She’s just a child!’
‘Please Mama,my head aches.’
‘Humour her Holly,you’re always saying how little you see you’re nieces.Life is so precious,there will come a time when Ava and Esme will grow and it will be us vying for their attention.’
‘That’ll never happen,they adore their Aunt Holly.’
‘Silly little pranks won’t win their affection,stop slouching!’
Ava stopped playing.
Holly breathed a sigh of relief. ‘It’s a miracle! Praise the lord for he is good! My prayers have indeed been answered.’
‘Hush Holly….Bravo! Bravo Ava!’
‘I’m going to play in the nursery with Esme.’
‘Don’t be long my child.’
‘I won’t Gran’Mama.’ Ava kissed Lady Antoinette upon the cheek.
‘Such a good child.’
Lady Antoinette watched as her grand daughter Ava ran up the grande staircase.
‘Sir Holmes and Lady Forster Holly you say?’
‘It’s true,I saw the ring with my own two eyes.’
‘I shall not believe it.By he’s a restless soul! Gisele,Louisa and now her? Lara of all people? I shall not believe it!’ enquirered Lady Antoinette.
‘That’s what I heard Mama.’
‘What else did they speak of? Come on dear Girl,I need to know all.’
‘That is all I’m afraid.’
‘Honestly child….I always thought Sir Holmes would die hankering after my Gisele.How did my daughter take it?’
‘Well as god is my witness,my sister why she took the news surprisingly well.She never bat an eye lid.’
‘Trying to keep up the pretence I imagine? I know my daughter.No good will come of this!’

Indeed it were,I was left in the grounds with Sir Holmes.Is this my personal test of trust by Lord Henry.See if I can restrain myself from the throwes of passion.After all he did once drive me wild,I did love him once upon a time.
‘Lady Gisele?’
‘Sir Holmes,how many times must I say this to you…I’d like to be addressed in a polite gentleman way,why we’re merely acquaintances.Refer to me Lady Henry,you’re just a guest in this house.A stranger nothing more,nothing less.I do not want anything from you.’
‘Gisele,how could we possibly be strangers.Please do not be like this?’
‘Haven’t I been punished enough Sir Holmes?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘A written warning would have been nice Sir Holmes.I’d much rather you did that,than turn up at my door with your new femme fatale.You’re new Lady Wife.’
‘I owe you nothing.’
‘I thought she was too possesive? Too needy?’
‘You know I can not answer that.’
‘Cant or won’t Sir Holmes? I’m sorry I took our love for granted.Day of all days,I could do without you being here.I’m inside my own personal hell,for one Lord Henry’s prim and proper parents despise me.Say I’m no good for their precious son.I hear their whispers,he’s certainly no angel.Lady Isabelle Chadwick is going out of her way to make a mockery of today.’
‘You’re beautiful when you’re angry.’
‘Angry yes…frustrated maybe? But my looks are fading….I’ve gone past the stage of being beautiful.Tell me do you love Lara?’
‘Time is precious.’
‘Stop avoiding the question Sir Holmes.You either love her or you dont?’
‘Allow me to finish,time is ever so precious and day by day it’s slipping away.You wouldn’t committ and allow me to love you.There came a time the day I met Lara,I initially thought yes she’s tolerable I suppose,we didn’t experience that instant spark the chemistry that was between us.She’s so beautiful,but I could never love her.At first I thought it was to get back at you.Use someone like you did to me?’
‘I never used you Sir Holmes.’
….As time went on,I spent some time with Lady Forster and I began to see the good qualities Lara she’s confident,extremely beautiful too beautiful to be associated with the likes of yours truly.She doesn’t carry the dark past like you.No one wants to be lonely in their lifetime Gis.I believed I could have waited a life time,an eternity to stand by your side once more.I counted my lucky stars after it ended with Lord Rickman believed I could have a chance with you once more.Because of you my heart weakened,hearing your head inside my head was my own personal torture.Then I awoke to my senses,I couldn’t be that weak and feeble man.I wasn’t Carl,refused to allow the love of a good lady kill me.Here I am,standing in front of you proud a married gentleman of the world.With nothing to prove to you,I’m happy to say that I am am one of the few who survived the look of the bewitching nymph that once were Lady Gisele Tara Anastacia Delessop.
Sir Holmes attempted to walk away from me.
‘Wait.Sir Holmes,you must understand I did love you? Once upon a time.’
‘I know.’

I couldn’t conscentrate on dinner,I sat there in silence,mouthful after mouthful.Felt nothing but guilt.I casually gazed in Sir Holmes direction.Perhaps if Declan and I were still together? Then would I ever had Esme and Ava? And William? Questioning his existance was like a dagger had pierced my soul.Maybe my beautiful sweet son would still be here if I wasn’t so worried and stressed over my secret affair with Benjamin If I hadn’t been planning on running away then I would never have given birth to him early.And if my paths never crossed with Earl Jack’s path.Carl would be here sat beside me with his wife and perhaps with a beautiful daughter.As I know in my heart,he would have eventually found it within his heart and forgiven me for being unfaithful.The thought of never meeting my kindred spirit Lord Henry pained me so.He’d offered me the moon and the stars if he could,there’s no denying I loved him.I loved him with every breathe of my body….till my heart ached.

After my encounter with Sir Holmes we where all gathered in the drawing room.Holly was ever so bored and I could sense she intended in looking for trouble.
‘What was all that business with Sir Holmes?’
‘It’s all in hand.’I smiled sweetly.
‘Don’t tell me you have your wicked way with him in the gardens? Gisele Tara Anastacia for shame! Haven’t you learnt?’
‘Once upon a time I would have delighted in nothing more than that.’
Mama was making herself at home.
‘Gisele? I say! This is quite a remarkable place if I do say so myself.Peonia rosa screams all of the ambience and qualities a family home aught to be.My daughter is Lady is this remarkable place,it’s like all of my dreams have come true.’ She looked over in Lady Isabelle trying her damn hardest to gloat.
‘Thank you Mama.’
‘It’s such a tragedy,your Aunt Helene and Grace were unable to attend.’
‘Yes isn’t it just? I long to see them.Why I shall have to write and pay them a visit with the children some times.’
Lady Chadwick ignored Lady Delessop’s snide remarks allowed it to go over her head.I wish I could take her cruel cold hearted comments with a pinch of salt.Once more she turned to addressed Tom once more.
‘Ah! Mr Davernport,I believe Peonia rosa vision is of your own design.’
‘Yes my Tom is genious.’ smiled Reinette proudly. ‘Why,he looked painstakingly hard everything was to be the correct scale.To Gisele’s hunger she may appear on the outside as only interested in poetry and books.But she has quite an eye for design and architechture….keeping true to herself.’
‘Enough! Mrs Davernport I’ve heard quite enough from you.Allow your husband to speak.’
‘Why Lady Chadwick the two faced….’
‘Gisele is such a dark horse? Embarking with dangerous liasions with the architect quite the scandal!’ whispered Holly under her breathe.
‘Gisele,pray tell me are you going for the medieval castle look from Arthurian days? This is not the typical italian decor…..doesn’t live up to my expectations.Or are cobwebs part of the fixture? Tut tut.’
‘Oh,I’m sorry didn’t anyone mention it? Cobwebs why they are the height of italian fashion.It gives peonia rosa an earthly rustic appearance.Keep up Lady Chadwick.’
‘Don’t bite.’ whispered Lord Henry soothingly as though I were his prized feline.Jealously leads to anger and hate,pride before a fall.’
‘There just sayings it means nothing.’
‘It’s all about pride.’
‘As I said before Antoinette,if your daughter took pride in her house,like she did with her prized horse then we wouldn’t be here discussing this would we? Sheer vanity gets you no where in this life time.We all shrivel up and die,like those roses in your front garden.’
I casually clutched onto my tea cup.I didn’t want to appear a coward in my household,and certainly not in front of my daughters.I let out a quiet growl.
‘My Benjamin,has been tirelessly busy with the girls.Ensuring that it was to my standards for your arrival.’
‘So I see….’
‘Ava and Esme are rather pleased with their craftsmanship and quite right to.’
‘Child Labour for shame!’
‘The children are a dream,unlike your lump of a daughter.They simply delight in helping.We are teaching them a much needed valuable life lesson.For their are times that you may have to put some hard graft in to reap rewards.No daughter of mine,is to grow into mature young ladies ever worried about damaging their beautiful finger nails.Constantly sitting on their idol backsides longing for their love to find them.Nor will they will transform into idol,empty minded shells of woman kind.Rude,obnoxious rich girls.Thinking their above their servants.They value Nancy and the rest of the staff here at Peonia rosa.Esme and Ava,are not to be demanding and expect everything to be handed on a silver platter plate.They are to be polite and courteous appreciated their possessions.
‘I taught my daughter well.’ smiled Lady Antoinette fondly.
My that’s a turn out for the books? Lady Antoinette,defending her daughter.For once,she never uttered the words.The words that make me feel as though I’m five years old again and I’m helping Martha clean the fireplace.
‘For shame Gisele! This this servants work.’ Her eyes piercing with fury. ‘Look at your hands dear girl,covered in coal! Yes I taught my daughters value and respect the world around them.But this here….is servants work? Martha what are you doing girl.Allowing a five year old girl? Honestly what is the true purpose of them,if your doing the work yourself.Your beautiful nails and fingers….your dress will be ruined! They will no longer be musicians hands,fit to play the piano so gracefully as you do.Why cleaning the fireplace,it is beneath the Delessop’s code to work.’ And this went so on even after Papa’s death.
Yes some may find pride in loves labour of work,but not you.Lord William,your papa.He himself will be turning in his grave.If he ever got the slight impression that his daughter had did something so horrid and beneath her position.Why it’s a good whipping you deserve! Beat it out of you.It’s because you’re friendship with this Tom has made you crave to live a simple life.A commoner.’
‘Mama you’re behaving my friendship with Tom is as though I’ve clutched my inheritance from Papa’s cold dead hands?’
Lady Chadwick soon brought me back to my attention.
‘Lady Gisele,you must have servants to do all of the household chores for you?’

I felt ever so humiliated I made my excuses and retreated into the day room.When I refer to that I mean the lounge.Day room sounds like a room you confine yourself in,trying to put right all of your regrets as you await for the shadow of death to approach you.There was a knock upon the door.
‘Leave me alone!’
‘It is I.Princess Sophia.’
‘Sophia what are you doing here?’
‘Asking for your permission to be allowed in here.I will get down on my knees and beg….’
‘That isn’t necessary,tell me are you alone?’
‘You swear?’
‘Are you suggesting I do the pinky swear? On my life I Sophia,husband of Daniel King,solemnly swear that I come alone.Just allow me in,the servants they are staring.’
I slowly opened the door greeting my friend with tear stained cheeks. ‘Now,we wouldn’t like that now would we?’
I gestured her to come inside.
‘Gisele,why you hide in here?’
‘Don’t tell me Mama sent you to check up on me? How typical of her.’
‘Lady Antoinette has no idea,believe me.’
‘Whenever I feel afraid,I go to my favourite place….surrounded by the things I love.What I hold most dear.Not of the bible,but of the beautiful woven words of the bard Mr William Shakespeare.This is my only sanctuary.Sophia,I look to you and I envy you how in tune you are with your husband.How you find the inner strength to battle with Lady Chadwick,finding your inner poise….’
‘Battling with Lady Isabelle,comes with the territory of marrying Daniel.I’ve grown to tolerate it.’
‘I mean why does she dislike me so? Lord Rickman is free of me,her wretched daughter is welcome to have her wicked way and have beautiful intelligent children.I no longer desire him,the scars I carry of that marriage.Why is she so bitter and twisted….’
‘You know what she’s like Gisele? Constantly looking down at you,pointing that mishapen nose up in disgust.But in the past,you’ve always given the acid tongued dragon her come uppance.Where is the fight? The girl who had the spirit,the courage to stand by what she believed in.To bring her down from within her estate?’
‘If only I knew?’
‘I fear the old Gisele died once you married Lord Benjamin.You’re ashamed of the past and of your former actions.I give you that,but be true to your heart to who you are.Lord Henry doesn’t want a canvas copy of Helen of Troy.The goddess of perfection.He loves the fire that ignites your soul,that brought you together.Your Papa,he himself your knight in shining armour isn’t here to be rescue his little princess any more.Would he be proud,if you layed down and surrendered to her? No he admired you,for standing you’re grand fighting for what you truly believed in.Live by the Delessop’s code.Live and die by the sword.Battle with the shield.I have every faith in you.Now as for Lady Rosaline,she’s jealous of the qualities you possess.Sincerity,sweet kind soul,patience.Pure love running through your veins.Driven by your precious beautiful daughters your love to do for them burns ever so brightly.Love of a good gentleman,he worships you.Surrendering is portraying yourself as weak and feeble.In doing so you’re failing them.Lady Henry,I ask no I demand you go back in with your finest gown and diamonds.Dazzle them with your charm and wit.Make Lord William proud of you.’
‘Thank you Sophia,you have proven your worth and duty of a true friend.Stood by me through the dark times.How are things between you and Daniel?’
‘Well ever since I deprived him of having an heir to his fortune? The love and affection that was once between us has gradually faded away like the dust which we are about to become.’
‘I do not understand,I was always under the impression you and Daniel loved one another? The solid fairytale marriage I onced looked to and envied?’
‘Looks can be deceptive Gisele.Daniel and I are awfully fond of one another.But sadly we are only remaining together for Nicole’s sake.Excuse me,I’m afraid I’ve said too much.’
Sophia slipped away from my side,time after time Sophia has held my hand,brushed away my hair,Remained a rock and dried my tears away when I was a little girl lost.As my world crumbled around me,Sophia picked up the pieces and repaired my broken heart.Like a true friend she’d really stood by me and all the while my poor divine Sophia was suffering in silence.I always looked to my Daniel and Sophia’s marriage as elegant and graceful,defined all odds and married.Against Lady Chadwick’s fury and ill feeling towards Sophia,remained steadfast and strong.I detected Sophia was upset that her secretly had been exposed,agreed that I shall speak no more of this and vowed to take this secret to my grave.

Night time fell all around us,Lord Henry did me proud placing twinkling fairylights which complimented the shining beauty of the stars.The brightest star my William,shining ever so brightly upon his Mama.Tonight I opted for a beautiful pink satin gown,which had a white ribbon around it’s waist.Giving my guests the impression of sweet serenity and true inner beauty.It was time for the recital,gone was the moment of laughter which taked place during the cricket.The seriousness of the croquet game,the dancing in the ball room seemed so long ago.But my feet held the tell tale signs of the bruises Daniel gave me,as the stood upon my feet.As held me in his arms,I tried to revisit the time when he proposed to me the eve of my twenty first times were so much easier then.We never had to fill in the awkward silences,I can not believe he was deceiving me for ever so long.I sat in the audience,looking on as my sweet little flower Ava nervously played her signature ballad ‘twinkle twinkle.’ As I looked on,I felt a mixture of emotions proud and so nervous Mama.Time went on I wish I could trade places with her,I truly felt for her tonight.As I indeed once upon a time had the pain of being marched up on the stage by my Mama.I was taught to play on demand no matter how I felt.’The show must go on,you can curl your bottom lip and pout all you like petit Gisele.You simply can not let your Papa or I down.’ Papa had the opposite,the caring gentle nature. ‘Gisele you look to me with your gentle puppy dog eyes,you’re a shining star.I’m so proud of you Miss Delessop.’
Ava was then followed by a violin interlude,led by the ever so smug Lady Rosaline.Esme chose to do an excert from the Nutcracker.
‘Miss Esme,she moves with such elegance vigour and grace?’ smiled Lady Lara. ‘Gisele,you must be ever so proud?’
‘I am of both of my daughters.’ I beamed.
I was a Mama even to William Tristan in his death,no one will ever strip that priviledge away from me.Despite having a damaged Mama in their midst,constantly blighted by her past.My daughters have overcome this,and blossomed into pretty little things.
Lord Henry clasped onto my hand gently.
‘Sing for me my Angel.’
‘This Nightingale has died.’
‘Sing for me my beautiful song bird.’
‘I do not wish to steal away my girls thunder.’
‘Reawaken her like a phoenix from the ashes.A requiem for your dear Papa?’

I slowly walked towards the stage,about to face my audience.Because of Ben,I have a purpose in my life live and breathe music once more.Lady Darcie,had a hidden vendetta of her own.She looked on in sheer disgust at this beautiful display.
‘So this is the family my son married into? The great and powerful Dynasty of Delessops?’
‘Hush Mama!’ whispered Lord Henry.
‘Why are you defending these small minded people Benjamin? They Lord it over everyone,claim to be of pure royalty blood? Not of new money? But behind the walls,hide such secrets of scandal and deceit? Her youngest sister Lucille,whored herself off to willing officers.Died due to her own stupidity.Holly,is no better she may have beauty.But tell me where is her intellect? She’s beneath shallow.Evangaline appears sweet,but do not be fooled my dear boy.As for your darling wife Gisele.She’s masquerading as a beautiful sweet innocent.Kind and charming young Lady.The pure white swan,all that is good…lures my son into a false sense of security.Allowing,unsuspecting gentlemen such as yourself to woo her with beautiful flowers and sentiments.She’s a dangerous courtesan,I mean marrying a lady of french aristocracy.Bringing foreign blood into the Henry Dynasty? For shame! I mean soiety says Sir Carl,her one and only true love.Died at the hands of her former so called abusive lover Earl Merrells? I say Carl confessed he couldn’t get enough of her.Implied on seducing her there and then,she couldn’t take his unearthly obsession and pulled the trigger herself.Killing an innocent man in cold blood.As for Esme and Ava,I’m ashamed you associate yourself with her ferrall children.They are probably infested with all kinds of diseases.My heart is aching,I feel for you Benjamin.I say you’ve had an extremely lucky escape Arthur.Your brother has danced with death,made a deal with the devil since he said I do.I mean a summer fete and gala? What is she trying to prove? Standing there,she doesn’t portray herself of innocence and trust.Trust lust and betrayal.’
‘Can I stop you for one moment please.Lady Evangaline,is a kind respectable young woman.She mirrors confidence,but that’s not her truth.Why she’s wronged by the cruelness of society.That once protected her,and took her under it’s wing as a child.When in fact she’s a dream.As for my Gisele,you know nothing of her.’
‘You’re trapped in a marriage.Louisa is….’
‘Ah yes the english rose you once referred to? I’m sorry if you cannot accept Louisa and I are no longer together.But I walked into my second marriage with my eyes fully open and aware of what I was getting myself into.Gisele is beyond close to perfect and neither am I.You have gone out of your way to judge her on idol gossip.You’ve spent five minutes with Lady Isabelle Chadwick and she’s already poisoned your mind against the truth.As for my beautiful girls,there not ferral.Since I promised to you I do,I promised to love honour and protect my wife and her children.There my world and your grand children.’
‘Not in blood?’
‘Not in blood maybe.But I adore them,Lady Darcie if you can not accept them.Then I believe your heart is indeed made out of glass.’


Chapter 18

Chapter 18
After all of the planning and the various correspondence with my Mama in London to agree upon a suitable date.The day of the garden fete had finally arrived.Experienced a mixture of emotions,I had a lot to prove to Mama and society itself.That I Lady Gisele Henry,wasn’t completely dependent upon Lord Rickman.My marriage to Lord Henry is indeed real,in doing so that today has to be a success.I barely slept a wink,at the crack of dawn I decided that I would like to spend some time with Puck these moments together are important in order for her to gain trust within her new mistress.
I’ve never felt this nervous since my wedding day,today meant a great deal to me.After I had taken it upon myself as the Lady of the manor had summoned the entire household for a quick briefing.Yes this is indeed normally not my style but I was at the height of sophistication.Summer fete meant a great deal,I had placed a lot of heart,soul and imagination into this event.Ensuring I had the correct flowers to give ambience of the place,the canapes and souffle was indeed to Mama’s satisfaction.Everything was in place for the dinner dance,the orchestra had begun their rehearsals the familiar haunting sounds sent instant shivers down my spine.Powerful music it can create such different moods the light and the darkness of each individual note.The ballroom looked beautiful the beautiful hexagonal mosaic patterns upon the ceiling,the golden pillars gave it such individual character and the chandelier was a must in all of the houses I’ve lived in constant reminder of home.This will look sublime and breathtaking by candlelight romantic even as it patiently awaits it’s captive audience.

I walked up and down as I addressed the staff as they eagerly waited in line. ‘Now this event is a first for a Peonia Rosa house and an opportunity for Lord Henry and I to step out in society as a married couple and host such a lavish event as this.Today,I want this all to run like clockwork….smooth as possible.As you are all fully aware that the infamous Lady Isabelle Chadwick is invited.By reputation she runs a tight ship everything has to be particular and I intend to do the same.Lady Antoinette is a pussycat compared to her lady Superior.Our reputation as a family and household stand on this.I want each and every one of Lady Chadwick’s needs met.I do not wish her to return to London and taint our good name.Each and every one of you are aware of your individual duties today.If this is indeed a sounding success,then this fete is the start of many amazing things that are about to take plave for the Henry household.This is important to Lord Henry and I as his parents,the Lord and Lady Henry are finally gracing us with their prescence.I refuse to let this go wrong,do not fail me.In doing so will indeed lead to instant dismissal.’ I raised my eyesbrows to increase impact. ‘Are we all clear?’
‘Yes Lady Henry.’
‘Good any questions?’
‘No Lady Henry.’
‘Good,you are all dismissed.’
Nancy entered the room.
‘Lady Henry.’
‘Ah Nancy.’
Nancy curtsied.
‘Nancy you’re a dear friend,do not feel you have to curtsy me whenever you address me.
‘I’m ever so sorry I missed the briefing Es and Ava they….’
‘I completely understand Nancy.’
‘The Lady Isabelle your family,and the rest of the guests have sent word they are hours away.’
‘Thank you Nancy.Where are my children? Bring them to me,I wish to see them.’
‘Yes Lady Henry! Children you may enter.Your Mama wishes a moment with you!’
Esme and Ava ran towards me.
‘Children why aren’t you dressed? Whatever happened to their beautiful white dresses with their adorable matching pink sashes.’
‘Esme got jam all over hers.’ said Ava.
‘Tell tale.’scowled Esme.
‘Yes their was a slight mishap.The little tinkers got a tad over excited at the breakfast table.I thought jam fingerprints looked rather improper.’said Nancy.
‘Quite childlike?’ I humoured them.
‘I thought you might like the have the final decision of what they aught to wear.
‘Very well.’ I sighed. ‘How about the pink one with the daisies on? Or the lemon dresses with spots on? Ava whatever is it?’
‘The pink dress pinches me and my yellow dress with spots on is scratchy.’said Ava.
‘It’s a tough decision to make.I know it’s just a dress but oh Nancy I’m torn.Lady Antoinette requests…no I shall rephrase that she demands my daughters aught to look their best all of the time.Whenever their in polite society I have my own feelings of this.Children aught to be children and are able to wear their dresses.Rolling around in the grass and mud till their hearts content allow them to be young and carefree whilst they still need me.Not to be accustomed to dresses that make them feel uncomfortable.Why they have plenty of time before their body is to be imprisoned to lifetime of ghastly corsets.Though fashion may thankfully change for the better,before they become of age.Am I speaking clearing Nancy?’
‘Yes Lady Henry.’
‘However on this occasion I think their beautiful blue meadow summer dresses,accompanied by their matching bonnets should do just fine.Yes I do find they look like cherubs in those.Es and Ava will have Lady Chadwick eating out of their palm of their hands.One look with their puppy dog eyes and the ice queen will melt.’
‘If wishes where horses Lady Henry?’
‘Would the lady care to have plaits of pigtails for Miss Esme and Miss Ava’s hair?’
‘Oh Nancy,you do not need me to hold your hand for every decision.I trust you will make the right decision.’
I bent down at Esme and Ava’s eye level. ‘Now promise me girls not to get any more jam or honey marks upon these dresses they were a gift from your Gran’Mama Delessop.’
‘I promised.’ smiled Ava.
‘You are good girls.’
‘Come along children.’
‘But Nancy we want to see Mama,we barely see her.’ protested Ava.
‘To dress you will go.I shall take no for an answer leave Mama be.’
‘Thank you Nancy.I’ll see you in the nursery Ava kins.’
‘You always say that and you never come.’ says Ava.
‘Ava Grace,Esme Rose have I ever broken my promise to you?’
Ava reluctantly shook her head.I kissed both of their foreheads in turn. ‘Now come now,stop scowling Ava you will spoil that pretty face of yours.I’ll be with you soon,and if you’re good for Nancy and we have enough time before Gran’Mama and your Aunt’s arrive.You can go and see Puck.’
‘Can we ride her?’
‘Not yet Es,soon sweetie.’

Nancy vacated the room with two rather reluctant children I do not understand since when do Ava and Esme become so ill mannered and petulant? I am so ashamed,Papa will be turning in his grave. I didn’t bring my two girls to be like this? I taught them they should have utmost respect for their parents.I blame Oliver abandoning them for their sudden change of character.He’s certainly exposing his true colours he could have at least made the effort of accepting the invitation for the summer fete? As for Ava saying the words: ‘I always say that?’ Reminded me of the time my sisters and I were forever palmed off by Mama to various Nanny’s.She was so wrapped up in various functions,endless dinner parties and her different acquaintances.I have early memories of her staring in the mirror not giving Mari or I the time of day.She was so absorbed within her own problems,ensuring she looked good she refused to be seen in public without a scrape of make up upon her face.Looking good dressed to impress,with her beautiful dresses squeezed into small corsets to make her waistline look smaller than it actually was.She could barely breathe as her rib cage and torso was crushed in ever so tight.Decked with her glorious diamonds or pearls.Surely I’m not like her? I always have time for my girls.Starting to feel under pressure making sure that I had the right outfit for dinner I shall portray myself as the innocent flower,a classy and yet demure look for the event gala in case Benjamin persuades his songbird of a wife to perform.As well as a beautiful day dress for the fete.Whatever possessed Benjamin to invite that poisonous witch Lady Isabelle Chadwick? He’s fully aware that we don’t see eye to eye.Speak of the devil my beautiful husband greeted me with a tender kiss.
‘My Lord.’
‘Gis I was waiting for you?’
‘I’m sorry?’
‘After our discussing the prospect of having children of our own? Well I’d thought that you and I would make time for one another.It’s been a while since you and I were intimate with one another? I was disappointed Lady Henry to wake up this morning and discover an empty bed?’
‘Benjamin is that all you can think about?’
‘You’re not so keen on the idea are you?’
‘I am.I do.’
‘You do not sound convincing to me?’
‘I have so much to do and so little time Ben.’
‘That is why you have staff,you pay them to do the dirty work?’
‘You know that is not my style? The very prospect of another child is the last thing on my mind.’

Yes indeed he was right,whilst Ben and I were at Verona we had discussed the possible aspect of having our own children.Of course this is what I want,always dreamt of this moment but truth is I’m not ready.Why I haven’t all of a sudden become frigid, I was under the impression that was in the near by distant future.We’ve barely been married for five minutes or time to breathe never mind bring another child into the world.I do hope that he’s not thinking we’re growing apart like he did with Louisa.My marriage to Lord Henry means a great deal,at times I wish we could go back to the start get to know one another properly.After all we where thrown together.

‘Is this your subtle way of saying you’re no longer interested in me?’
‘Shall I rephrase that you indeed no longer love me? Is this how it’s going to be like ever since we returned from Verona you’ve barely wanted me to touch you?’
‘Marriage is not just about intimacy you know Ben.’
‘Marriage changed Louisa and not for the better.As soon as she became Lady Henry she changed before my very eyes from just a girl to a lady who gathered the impression that she was far more superior than everyone else.As time went on she grew hungry for power and couldn’t bare to me near me.’
‘That’s not true she adored you.’
‘Defending her honour are we?’
‘Why must Louisa always come between us?’
‘I saw you earlier in the dining room and I never felt so proud thinking look this is my wife.Then she started giving out instructions? And my heart began to sink instant dismissal? powers finally going to your head isn’t it?’
‘No that’s so not true.’
‘I wanted you last night.’
‘I had no idea.I’m so sorry my love if I become controlling stop me.I always think what what would my Mama my great and almighty Lady Antoinette do? How she would feel I can not let her down.It’s within me to please her,it’s always been that way and what would my Daddy do? Benjamin you must understand if today goes wrong then it will be upon my head.I simply refuse to put a foot wrong today.It’s bad enough that my Mama is coming,but Lady Isabelle Chadwick and your parents too? Lady Chadwick and I do not see eye to eye,she’ll be scrutinising every detail Imagine she will give the estate a full inspection have Rosaline look for cobwebs under the bed I should suspect? My nerves are shot! What if she returns to London and say I’m still the notorious whore who drove her husband away? My darling Rosaline wouldn’t have dreamt of treating Oliver appalingly.She would have treated him with utmost respect and granted him his longed for heir.She has no idea what kind of gentleman I married? He is the man with two faces,the pussy cat for society that make all of the women swoon…As for your parents? I have your beautiful sister Ana on my side ever faithful to fight my battles.Your father is tolerable I suppose,your brother Arthur is a lech.’
‘I’m sorry if the truth hurts Benjamin but after hearing those stories…I do not want him anywhere near Evangaline she’s mortified….feels she lowered herself to his tone.As for your Mother lady Darcie she doesn’t deserve my time of day.I do not trust her Benjamin she appears to be all smiles but behind your back she’s sharpening her talon’s….I’m convinced she has a vendetta against us.’
‘Don’t be so absurd.’
‘Twas true she was all sweetness and life the day I first met her on your wedding day to Louisa.But ever since it became public knowledge that you and I were together she can not deal with this sudden change.She will be a perfect ally to Lady Chadwick constantly judging our new life,comparing me to your perfect little wifey Louisa oh Benjamin darling Louisa was the sweet and perfect innocent flower why did he leave you? For corrupt Lady Gisele Delessop?’
‘All of my life Mama and I have constantly locked horns you have nothing to prove to them.You are my wife,you have nothing to prove to them.Why it should be them trying to win over your affection.’
‘One look at you,my true love of course I want to have your children it’s just earlier I had a slight disagreement with Ava she was complaining about her dresses I mean she’s almost five for heavens sake.Es and Ava are just children they’re already starting to sound like Evangaline and Holly.’
‘Ava’s wise beyond her years.’
‘I’m scared that every day I’m losing her,and as for a baby it would mean the world to me to have a small piece of you in my life.I’m just terrified.’
‘Gis you don’t have to explain to me.’
‘Visions of night terrors,constantly staring at the crib praying that history won’t repeat itself.’
‘I won’t let it happen,our baby won’t be William.’
‘How can you say such a thing?’
‘I was just trying to put your mind at rest.’
‘…The baby won’t be able to breathe as their Mama is constantly trying to put him or she checking for their heartbeart or a pulse.Don’t you understand they’ll be no rest Benjamin.’
‘We will take it one step at a time,I’m not prepared to throw the gauntlet down and admit defeat.Now my fair lady where do I stand on the grande scheme of things? Hold Lady Antoinette’s parasol to shield her from the sun? Look longingly into your mysterious eyes and feed my beautiful wife strawberries during our fete? Entertain your dear friend Daniel with a round of clay pigeon shooting? Amuse your sister’s during a game of croquet?’
‘Ensure that Lady Antoinette’s champagne flute is flowing at all times,smile in the appropriate places…portray myself in a heavenly light.’
‘Is that all?’
‘Ensure I keep my distance from Lady Isabelle and her slip of a daughter who I’m sure is pining for my former husband,you stand there Benjamin keep her sweet and look pretty oh beloved of mine.’ I patted him fondly upon his shoulder before bestowing a kiss upon his cheek.
A little while later Lady Isabelle Chadwick was about to make her grande entrance,in order to give the Ladyship a warm welcoming and trick her into a false sense of security.I ensured that the whole of the household staff were lined up in an orderly fashion.Nancy bless her heart was ever so nervous,she was determined to please her Ladyship and not put a foot wrong today.
‘Gisele you look as white as a sheet?’
‘I’m perfectly fine my Lord.Nancy bless her cotton socks,standing there she looks as nervous as I feel.’
‘The truth is I overheard her speak to one of the maids.She’s afraid to fail you,since her Ladyship mentioned instant dismissal? I caught her practicing her curtsying in the drawing room and word says she’s been receiving elocution lessons.’
‘Why would she do that?’
‘She has grown to feel that certain members of this household do not take her seriously?’
‘So she may be clumsy at times and speak out of turn….but I would never dismiss her.She is warm and kind hearted Esme and Ava have grown attached to her.Nancy’s family now.’

Lady Chadwick likes to travel in style,as all the guests have made their way to tour the grounds and the house Lady Isabelle’s automobile pulled up.
‘My my Lady Chadwick likes to make a grande entrance that’s one of the finest of automobile craftsman ship it’s a Chevrolet….’
‘Hush now.’ I smiled sweetly.’There’s nothing wrong with travelling by horse and not polluting the air.’
Her footman opened the door.
‘Thank you Grayson.Come along now Rosaline.’
‘I do not know why we are here? It’s not like Lord Oliver will be here?’
‘Rosaline I’m afraid that ship has sailed? You had plenty of opportunities before that vile Delessop swooped in and snared her prey? Do not allow this little set back to get to you,you’re a beautiful lady and have a whole lot of potential if you ooze such charm then the gentleman will flock.But not today.’
‘Lady Chadwick,we are not here to find you a suitable husband? Sometimes you can be a weight around my neck why must I always fight you’re battles? One day you will be the death of me!’ whispered Lady Chadwick in disgust.
‘But Mama?’
‘Not everything is about you,now we have a duty to London society don’t you understand daughter of mine? Why they are depending on us to report back every little detail.
Her Ladyship strolled towards us,
‘Make eye contact at all times.’
‘Take your time….I’m surprised you haven’t got doves or peacock’s parading up and down upon a beautiful red carpet? Going out all pomp and circumstance to greet her?’
‘Shh Benjamin.’ I elbowed him.
‘I see she hasn’t changed one single bit?’ sneered Lady Antoinette. Scrutinising every little detail?’
‘Hello to you too Mama?’
‘Oh for heaven sake Gisele do not slouch….and I see you invited that frightful Lara?’
‘Nancy who is this horrid Lady?’ asked Ava.
‘That is Lady Isabelle Chadwick.’ smiled Nancy.
‘Is that the witch Mama doesn’t like?’ laughs Esme.
‘I have you know Esme the Lady Chadwick is a well known and respected woman of London society.Why she is one of your Gran’Mama’s dear friends.So please keep your opinions to yourself.’
Ava whispered in Nancy’s ear. ‘She doesn’t smile very much?’
I looked at Benjamin. ‘I’m sorry did I say something wrong?’
‘I beg to differ?’
‘You’ve lost me?’
‘You’re last remark to Ava,asking her to keep her opinions to herself…she’s just a child.They both are.’
‘There not to know Lady Chadwick is a vile woman who would nothing better than seeing my downfall.Why she would have nothing but a smile upon her face and a case of self satisfaction to see me suffer in a burning building.She wouldn’t go out of her way to rescue me and I’d dare say the feelings mutual.Today I am going to put all of my ill feelings aside.Give her the impression that I’ve a good heart and quite the lady of the manor.’
‘You have nothing to prove to me you have a pure heart.’
‘I know,just you’re my husband and I understand it’s your duty to say those words.Es and Ava are bright and intelligent beyond their years I shall allow them to make a judgement of Isabelle’s character for themselves? I’ve moved on,I do not hold grudges.’
And quite right too,my Papa the late great Lord William has taught me a lesson I value to this day smile Gisele humour them as though their the only important person in the room,smile and yes Gisele even at the evil dragon Lady.’ This is my stage,I will charm the beast of a woman until she’s eating out of the palm of my hand.Make Mama ever so proud and she can return to London happy and content.
I shall paint a mask upon her face ,no matter how much I detest the Lady after all she was the one who planted the seed of jealously into my former husband’s head she was the one who publically violated me and pushed me into commiting the sin of falling in love with Benjamin.Today I am to give the impression to Esme and Ava,that their mother is a sweet serene peacemaker offering an olive branch of friendship.If Holly overheard she may feel that her sister has softened in her old age.I shall catch a moment with cook have a quiet word in her ear,kindly giving her permission to discreetly spit in her Majesty’s soup. ‘
‘Lady Gisele that’s a hanging offence?’
‘My sister Holly has been given the impression that her impish nymph of a sister has vanished and transformed into a dull little wifey under your thumb since you placed that ring upon my finger.You may have tamed me oh hsband of mine but I shall ever thrive in my wicked little schemes.’
‘There isn’t a wicked bone in your body?’
Esme looked towards the delightful Lady Rosaline. ‘Why is that girl sad?’
‘She looks like she’s sat on a pin cushion and it’s got up her bottom.’ said Ava.
‘That Esme is her daughter the precious little princess Rosaline.’ I added. ‘Lady Rosaline doesn’t like your Mammy as I selfishly stole your Daddy away from the spoilt little rich girl.She spends her days wallowing in self pity looking in her spoon gazing at her reflection as though it’s her magic mirror.Ever cursing the day that I was born.’
‘Is Lady Chadwick’s daughter Snow White?’ asked Ava.
‘No sweet heart.’ said Lord Henry. ‘Mama refers to her as the wicked step queen.’
‘More like the poisoned dwarf.If you married her then alas it would have lasted a short space of time.Your little wifey kins would have compared you to the love she lost forever.Now my dear daughters Esme,Ava today is extremely important to your father and I your role is to melt the cold queen’s heart,smile and curtsy.Remain polite and courteous throughout.Charm then with your wit.Serenade them with your angelic little voices.But for heaven’s sake Ava I forbid you to place any rodent kind upon the table.I still carry the scars of that very day.Or Esme do not place paw prints that resembles honey or jam.Upon her Ladyship or it will be off with your head young lady.’
‘Your Mama’s kidding on the last part.’reassures Lord Henry. He turned and looked at me. ‘Rodent kind?’
‘Long story.’

Yes indeed it was whilst Lord Rickman and I were married we had paid a little visit to Lady Chadwick’s Estate,all of the family were there.It was after all of this horrendous business had become public and I no longer had to hide.Oliver and I were back together,I never felt so alive.Champagne was in full flow,dinner was divine.The warm feeling had finally returned to my heart nice to spend time with my sister’s again and I was secretly pleased to be reunited with my one true secret love Carl.
‘I’m so sorry.’ Carl discreetly placed his hand upon my thigh.
‘You’re heart is bleeding I know but…’
‘I do not wish to speak of my misfortune.’
‘Please do not push me away,you’re aware of my feelings….’
‘Yes I am perfectly aware of you’re feelings but please stop suffocating me.’
‘Gisele nothing,I’m married to Oliver and I love him.’
‘Are we quarrelling?’
‘Carl I’m a fragile soul after escaping from Jack….I’m ever so tired after my journey here and quite frankly you’re charm and wit to entice me into your bed is growing ever so tiresome.’
‘That wasn’t my intention to…’
‘I just to lose myself in the quality of good conversation,fine wine and to spend some time with my daughters.Is that too much to ask?’
‘Unbeknown to Carl and I,Holly and Ava had discreetly slipped out.I didn’t realise until after after a few hours later,main course had been served and their was deadly silence around the dinner table.No longer a sign of Ava’s protests.I ran out of the room.
‘Ever the dramatic one.’ sighed Lady Chadwick.

It was beginning to get dark,my heart was beating out of my chest.I just kept running and running.Images flashing through my head what if Jack had came into the feast unknown to us and abducted Ava and she’s now dead in a ditch? Unbeknown I had been followed,fearing for my life.I ran fast and faster.
‘Wait up!’ yelled Carl.
‘Carl leave me alone!’
‘Stop!’ He took hold of my wrist.
‘Take your hands off me.’
‘It’s my only way of reasoning with you Gis.You’re running away from me like a spring gazelle.Please Gis…’
‘How dare you toy with my emotions Carl Casey.’
I took hold of the bottom of my dress and ran along breathless. ‘Carl this is all of your fault!’
He was finding it extremely difficult to keep up with my pace.
‘Let’s think through this logically.’
‘We haven’t the timme on our hands Carl.’
‘She can’t have gone far?’
‘I took my eye off the ball for one split second….I missed you Carl.My lovely Carl and I felt like a love struck fool once.I wanted you Carl,I longed to be close to you,the feel of your touch.There I admit it,and because of my true emotions rising to the surface I put the welfare of my daughter in jeopardy.I never noticed Ava slip out of the room? Normally she’s ever so good and asks for my permission to vacate the room never mind the grounds.I feel sick Carl.Jack must have taken her.’
‘Gisele calm down!’
‘Calm down! She could by lying dead in a ditch somewhere.’
‘We will find her.’ He took me into his arms. ‘You trust me don’t you?’ He kissed my forehead. ‘Oh Carl how am I going to ever find it in my heart for telling Oliver the truth of our daughter’s death.I’m ever so sorry darling,your wife was starting to have intense feelings for her first lover she never saw her slip through her fingers.I have my daughter’s blood upon my hands.’
Out of the corner of Carl’s eye he noticed a figure walking towards us. ‘It may not come to that my Lady.’
‘Please don’t feel as though you need to spare my feelings.’
‘No Lady Rickman I beg of you to look into the distance.’
‘Ava!’ I called out.
I noticed that Holly was with her,she was looking so cool and calm.I was so relieved to see her safe and sound.Holly was smiling like a cheshire cat as if nothing had happened.She had no inclination of the hell I was going through.’
Anger took control over my body I slapped Holly. ‘Don’t you ever do that to me again!’
‘Ava said she told you that you knew she was with me.’
‘You believe a little girl.She’s just a child Holly! You’re perfectly aware of my feelings? Jack could have abducted her!’
‘Don’t be so dramatic! Ava is not his daughter,if he had a point to prove then surely he would have taken Esme!’

After our choice words,we had her safe and sound back in the safety of Lady Chadwick’s estate.Unbeknown to her Mama after being caught up in all of this drama and excitement.She’d taken pity upon a very timid cold and frightened little mouse.Ava called her Immy,the first time I became aware of my devious daughters deception.Was out of the corner of my eye.I noticed an outline scurrying by.Innocently making a bee line for Lady Chadwick’s dessert.Rather than raising the alarm and screaming mouse and Holly couldn’t contain herself,I quietly and casually demanded that she should immediately leave the dinner table and safely disguard Immy.
After sharing this story with Lord Henry he tipped his head back and chuckled. ‘Ava’s quite a pistol?’
‘Oh I can handle my daughter perfectly well you mark my words.That’s not what I’m worried about.I do hope she doesn’t speak out of turn and tell a few home truths?’
‘Hmm…I wonder who she reminds you of?’ He kissed my hand. ‘Relax my beautiful Bella donna,trust me everything will be all right.You have my word.’

She cleared her throat,my husband boldly addressed her Ladyship. ‘Lord Benjamin Henry,on behalf of my beautiful Lady wife and I we’d like to give you a warm welcome to our humble abode Peonia rosa.’
She raised her hand to silence Lord Henry. ‘Yes,I do know who you are?’ She raised her eye brows as she said this. ‘Forgive me I did not accept your invitation for you to bore me to death in your Lord of the manor routine.Or to engage in warm sentiments.Why you must clearly see my motives? I came to see if this great Peonia rosa is of grande scale and wonder? That they speak of in London?’
She started to examine the rose bushes. ‘These rose bushes.’
‘Ah yes they were a wedding present…’ I began.
‘I see…they have a lot to be desired? All shrivelled and broken in parts? Like your first marriage.I hope this neglect isn’t a true reflection upon your sad and sorry marriage Lady Henry? I’m not here to stand here and waste time. In fact quite the opposite,I demand a grande tour.’
And with that Lady Chadwick rudely brushed. ‘Come along Rosaline.’
‘But Mama nothing,I haven’t got all day to spend breathing in the same air as these peasants.’

‘The nerve of her? Peasants? How dare she!’
I was about to say something but Lord Henry managed to hold me back.
‘What would you’re Papa say?’
‘She has the cheek to judge us.Lady Isabelle is no better than the rest of us?’
‘Rise above it my love,smile after all it’s just for one day?’
We began with a tour circling the grounds,at this very point Lady Isabelle was feeling ever so delicate and was getting fanned whilst her lap dog of a daughter saw to her every needs.Obediently held a parasol to give her the correct shade sunshine balance.Mama at this point opted to stay indoors.My how convenient opting to keep an eye on proceedings inside.Times like this I could do with Mama to spare me from Lady Isabelle’s acid tongue.
‘This Lady Chadwick is the beautiful grounds of Peonia rosa.’
‘Is that all?’
‘Esme and Ava find them quite enchanting.’ I piped up.
‘Some might find them tolerable I suppose.’
‘Later on,we shall have tea strawberries and cream cakes upon the lawn.’
‘Does that activity include everyone?’
‘The ladies of course.’I continued. ‘Whilst the gentleman will embark in a traditional and family friendly game of cricket.’
‘What is that ghastly thing over there?’ Lady Isabelle curled up her nose in disgust.
‘That is a water feature my Lady,one of the finest in Italy.I feel it brings character.’
‘Believe what you like Lord Henry… Why it doesn’t bring out character to the garden it’s just an inconvenience! I’m surprised that Mr Davernport didn’t consider this?’
‘I have you know it was my idea.’ I said under my breathe.
‘Bite your tongue and say no more my love.’
‘How dare you talk to me in such an impertinent manner.’
I bit my lip before I said another word.
‘Oh do not bite your lip Gisele it isn’t at all healthy for one to do such a thing.’ She casually fanned herself. ‘And how can you cope in such terrible conditions?’
‘I cope with the heat perfectly well,maybe it’s your age.’ I said slyly under my breathe.
‘Enough! I’m growing rather impatient and ever so weary with all this idol conversation! My daughter and I demand a spot of tea in the drawing room.Earl Grey none of your usual nonsense.My daughter and I deserve the finest things in life.Then we shall see to the interior.’
‘Yes my Lady.’
‘Lord Henry,I request you ask that the arcitecht is present.’
‘I shall Mr Davernport will be honoured to have his input on the tour.’
‘No you do not understand I would like Mr Davernport to conduct the tour…not you.’
‘Your wish is my command Lady Chadwick.’

I felt so sorry for Benjamin witnessing him being squashed by Lady Isabelle as though he’s an insect,how I admire him for taking it with such grace and dignity.Picture it if you will? A familiar scene that I once witnessed in London once upon a time.Daniel Tom Lord Henry and his father trying ever so hard to hold onto their gentleman pride.Playing a friendly game of cricket.Whilst their wives looked on armed with the finest strawberries in the land.Clara one of the servants were attending to our every needs handing out fresh cream scones and tea.The children playing with Holly and their kite.It was so lovely to see them all together at long last with Sophia and Daniel’s beautiful angel Nicole and Reinette and Tom’s ray of sunshine Lucille.Sophia is ever so doting with Nicole how it breaks my heart that she’s unable to bare any more children.I look to Es and Ava so young and carefree and I count my lucky stars how my misfortune hasn’t had an effect on them.The sunkissed sun was shining upon this oh so perfect day.Lady Darcie Henry,was on friendly terms for the time being.Lady Isabelle is doing her utmost to break me.She may have the personality of a venemous snake in position,eager to make her next move.
All morning whilst Tom was giving the grande tour to her grace.Rather than praising the arcitecht by saying it’s a vision of beauty Mr Davernport.She delighted in finding imperfections with the character of the place.
‘I think the architechture is sublime,Peonia rosa is surely unique…stands out from Serenity Estate New Dawn and the rest of the projects I’ve worked on…’
‘I’m sorry Mr Davernport,but you’re sadly mistaken,the architechture and scope of the place is terrible.I’d be ashamed to associated with this place.’ ‘Oh Lady Henry,this room is oh so dark. and ‘What where you thinking of? A Billiards Room? Are you reducing yourself to turning your home into a gentleman’s club?’ or ‘The curtains you have chosen,is as though you’re in mourning? Are you still pining for your Carl? What will Lord Henry think of this?’ ‘What were you going for? The pillars,it does nothing for the scope….nothing compliments this room.It’s taking the life away from your mosaic ceiling.’ All of these snide remarks came my way,and I had no other choice but to smile politely as Lady Isabelle watched Tom squirm,as he battled in vein to safe grace.As for Lady Rosaline,the ice princess it’s jealously on her part.Envious of how my prevention of her engagement to Lord Rickman has made her unable to escape the clutches of her Mama.Endless question after question.I feel as though I can’t breathe.
‘-And as for the Greek style pattern? It would make Medusa herself turn to stone?’
My my my,I’ve heard it all Lady Isabelle is enraptured by the complicated and yet so beautiful Greek mythology of impossible creaturs that taken a hold upon my husband’s interest.I dare say she resembles the poisoned gorgon.If only I could cut off her head.Like the hero Perseus did,but no Gis,you must stop those impure thoughts.Instead of raising to her toxic bait.I once again smiled so sweetly and said.
‘Oh it’s still in it’s early stages,Lord Henry and I are still searching for our correct visions of the estate and with the guidance of Mr Davernport steering us in the right path,rest assured we will be able to achieve this.’
‘Such a beautiful estate?’ enthused Sophia.’You’re husband has worked wonders Reinette.’
‘It’s such a shame Medusa doesn’t have the same mutual agreement upon this.’
‘You’ve lost me?’ replied Reinette.
‘It’s our little pet name for my dear friend Lady Chadwick.’
‘Her barks worse than her bite?’ reassured Sophia.
‘I see Lady Darcie’s keeping her distance?’ tutted Evangaline.
‘Mama’s a pussycat really.’ said Lady Ana.
‘I’d hate to meet her in a darkened alleyway.’ said Marianna.
‘Any news of the delightful Colonel.’ I enquired after the man who once upon a time spoke of his intentions towards my sister.Trying as I might to change the subject.
‘Colonel Clarkson took me to his grounds and I kept to my word that I’d learn how to ride.’ blushed Evangaline.
‘Evangaline is playing her cards ever so close to her chest.’
‘I’ve grown bored of waiting around. I get the impression that I’m doing all of the pursuing…’
‘Now that is a grave mistake Lady Evangaline.Always allow the man in question to do the chasing.It’s a Delessop custom to be wooed and loved….’
‘I’m not sure if I’m fond of him.Holly said I aught to throw him over.’
‘Tell me do you do everything Holly says?’ asks Marianna.
‘If Holly asked you to jump off a cliff would you? Or consider if she asked you to drink champagne laced with poison would you take that deadly drink from the flute if her life depended upon it?’
‘Now that is silly!’
‘I rest my case.’

Daniel threw the ball,as Lord Henry struck the winning ball.He moved with such elegance and grace.Daniel childishly threw his bat upon the grass.
‘Bad form old chap!’ shouted Lord Henry.
‘Look your Daddy’s taken a strop.’ laughed Holly.
‘Aunt Holly keep still with the kite!’ demanded Ava.
‘Yes my Lady,honestly Ava you’re just like your Mama.’
Lord Henry and the others walked towards us. Sophia greeted Daniel with a kiss.
‘My husband ever the sore loser?’ smiles Sophia fondly.
‘My hero?’ I mocked him as Lord Henry walked towards me.
‘Rule number one,never involve Daniel in a game of cricket.’ laughed Tom.
‘Lady Henry,you’re husband aught to learn the art of not cheating?’
‘Duly noted thank you Daniel I shall bare that in mind.’
‘Gisele,I have someone who’s eager to see you again.’
‘I do hope that this isn’t ill timing?
‘Lara? ‘
‘It’s Lady Holmes now.’
‘Sir Holmes?’
‘Good day to you Lady Henry, surprised to see me?’


Chapter 17

Chapter 17
Lord Henry placed his hand upon my shoulder,I turned around and sunk into his arms.He kissed the nape of my neck. ‘I know my love,this day must be extremely difficult for you?’
‘Thank you Benjamin.’
‘I knew I shouldn’t have whisked you away from your family you need them around you?’
‘Ever so sweet of you but I shall be fine.’
‘Poor timing I know.’
‘You weren’t to know,I just need to learn to fight the demons in my head.’
‘I was so wrapped up in her behaviour,how she aught to hold herself and I am ashamed to say I taught her the fan etiquette for heaven sake.’
‘Don’t tell me that’s real? I always thought it was all a myth?’
‘I am slowly turning into my Mama,so stubborn in her ways.I just hate the thought of her whoring herself to all of those gentlemen officers.She’s worth so much more than that.Stop sometimes and reguard other people’s feelings.I admit my mouth can often run away with me at times.’
‘You’re certainly not Lady Antoinette’s daughter for nothing.’
‘If only I stopped thought of the consequences and told her how much I loved her and how beautiful she was.Oh Ben,she was wearing a beautiful yellow dress all sunshine and smiles.Perhaps if I insisted upon going instead of insulting her intelligence.I could have prevented her from going on the horse.She was only trying to prove a point to me.I saw a gentleman only looks to a woman who appreciates fine art and conversation….adores riding horses.Oh Benjamin what have I done?’

Finally we where home at Peonia ros,in true tradition Lord Henry thought he aught to carry me over the threshold.
‘My Lady.’
He picked me up. ‘I think all of the finest cuisine and italian pastries is weighing you down?’
Once inside the house was awe inspiring,took my breathe away.Just as I imagined and so much more.It was nice to see that Tom had taken my design idea on board from the detailed architechtual drawings to this.The sloping ceilings brought a modern air to the building.The light and shade of my mosaic ceiling was a reknowned success.A beautiful masterpiece in all of it’s glory.Why I would make Lady Isabelle Chadwick green with envy I can picture it now her demanding an appointment with Thomas Davernport himself and demanding her house to have a face lift.
Yes I can see it now,Lady Gisele Henry architecht of the future.I can dream,women with profession’s are frowned upon.How I detest being a kept woman,forever worrying about my appearance whether my nails are chipped or when my next facial was due.There was also the pressure of being in italian society what was the latest hair do.
Peonia rosa was a blank canvas,it just needed the female touch my guidance to achieve this.My cushions and floating down curtains,candles dotted around to give it the much needed ambience and feel I intended.Tom Davernport the master and soul creator of our dream came to greet us.’
‘The master of all he surveys? Darling. ‘I kissed his cheek.’
‘Lady Henry a delight to see you?’
‘And you too,where is Reinette and you’re delight of a daughter Lucille?’
‘Remain in London,Reinette thought Lucille would be into everything so kept her away.’
‘She’s a wise Mama.I bet she’s into everything?’
‘Lucille is a god send Gisele.What do you think of Peonia Rosa,I hope it doesn’t disappoint?’
‘How can your work disappoint me? You have worked your fingers to the bone?’
‘Gisele,I’ll go and see to the children?’
‘All right darling.’
He kissed my cheek and left my side.
‘You look blissfully happy,simply glowing?’
‘That I am Tom.’
‘So Lady Henry how was Verona?’
‘What is the matter I received your letter you finally lived out your heart’s desire,you have the gentleman of your dreams?’
‘There was a dark cloud hanging over it.Since it was Lucille’s birthday.’
‘I returned to London and spent some time beside her grave.’
‘I miss her too.’
‘I hope this didn’t put you in a difficult position with Reinette…or apply pressure upon your marriage?’
‘Reinette is fully aware of the true nature of my relationship with my sister.That’s what I love about her,the light of my life.Reinette understands that Lucille and I were extremely close,but she doesn’t know how I truly felt for her.’
‘Which is come on Mr Davernport you can tell me?’
‘It hasn’t dawned on me until I returned to London and stood beside her grave.Remonising the times I would wait for her outside her bedroom window,the faith she had within me to give me the confidence to believe I could pursue my architechture as a career.Society had her down all wrong yes she may have had an eye for the officers and laugh in the face of etiquette.I loved your sister a great deal,she was stubborn in her ways.But she had the Delessop trait in believe in me.I had a lot to thank her for,I was going to save up enough commission to buy an engagement ring.Shame she never saw me a romantic way? Maybe if I had become a member of the regiment?’
‘Oh Tom,you mattered a great day to Luc too.Why she thought the world of you,she was always under the impression that it was only unrequited love and you reguarded her as baby sister.That you were only fond of her?’
‘Do not breathe a word of this to Reinette,I beg of you.’
‘I shall not breathe a word.’
‘Thank you.’
‘I feel your pain Tom,Verona was as they say the city of lovers.Benjamin was a different person,a complete sweetheart.Forever romancing me with beautiful words…sitting up talking looking up at the stars.He never mentioned Oliver once,the endless wining and dining it did my body no favours.The Pasta,oh Tom I could have lived off one helping for a week.I can still taste the divine texture upon my pallete.He granted my wish by taking me to see Lady Juliet’s balcony extremely sweet of him.’
‘Your’e smiling like a cheshire cat.’
‘I couldn’t take it all in,standing there in all of it’s glory.For all of the world to see,I absorbed it all as the world stood still.I could see the vision of the two starcrossed lovers.The power struggle of Juliet Capulet as she dreamt for her Romeo’s return,how she wrestled with her true emotions despite him being her family’s sworn enemey.The one promise I shall give to Lord Henry in return is to love him till the end of my days.We walked around some galleries,no I shall rephrase that we browsed.The architechture was sublime Tom,you would have been in your element.Ben doesn’t apprecite fine detail like you and I do,he was like oh look at the wiggly lines Gisele and you recall what he was like when he had to pin him down whilst discussing the estate’s plans.This place will be the making of us Tom,I can feel it in my bones.Now if you excuse me I long to be introduced to my beautiful Puck.We shall dine in the drawing room later.’ I kissed his cheek.
I slowly walked towards the stables,they looked vast in comparison to the scale and size of New Dawn Estate.I looked and saw my beautiful Puck awaiting my return.She’s just all I ever wanted and more,to fill the void of losing Misty and Quinn not a day passes by when I do not think about them and if their new owner is taking perfectly good care of them.She is the image of Cossack when she was a beautiful young filly.I couldn’t help feeling a tad emotional all of the pieces of the house falling into place.Before I’m reunited with my beautiful girls,I’m ever so greatful for Nancy but I am sure she will be able to cope for a few hours longer.Lord Henry is on hand in case he is needed.I decided that I would have a ride,it’s such a fine day and it’s vital that Puck and I bond quickly from the start.I measured her placing my hands upon her back. ‘Five hands? Just a hand higher than Cossack.Benjamin has an eye for a fuhrer bred.I ran my hand through her beautiful thick glossy coat.
‘Hello Puck,I’m your Mama.’
She nuzzled me gently.
‘Now there’s no need to be coy.I’m going to plenty of care of you…and I have two angels who I’m sure will overfeed you with lots of oats and carrots,indulging you with squeezes and bundles of love and affection.If they give you the classic Es,Ava make over of endless rainbow ribbons and over the top hairstyles.Do not hold it against them Esme and Ava love you very dearly.Why you’re the angel of mercy for coming along at a good time their hearts broken because of their selfish father,my former husband Lord Oliver Rickman has left without a trace and they didn’t get a chance to kiss him goodbye.’
I climbed upon her back,I felt a little on edge.Puck sensed my nerves she was full of spirit I give her that.She started to get riled whinny and rear up.I tried to soothe her gently using a calming tone. ‘Shh easy girl.’
She ran off with me upon her back.I was unable to control her temprement.Puck ran off,broken branches restricting her path. I saw my life flash me by,the birth of my children my first encounter with Lord Henry,first kiss with Carl all a montage of colours.All of a sudden I feared for my life.
‘Please Lord,do not allow me to die.I’m far too young,I’ve just married the love of my life.It would end his days,devastate him.If he discussed my crumpled body upon the ground.And what of Mama? Mama has just come to terms with Lucille’s death.If I shall die today,please enable Ben to find the inner strength and courage to eventually love again.I couldn’t bare it,if he ended up alone.He needs the love,care and all of his physical needs another woman can give to him.The children they need a Mother,as I said these words Puck started to calm,her whirlwind temprement began to soften.It was as though my prayers have been answered.I felt the words flow through my hair.My dear Papa is watching over me like a guardian angel as he prmised on my wedding day.He may not be here in flesh but he’s alongside me in spirit.
Feeling shaken,I thought I aught to return to the house to avoid tempting fate.Looking like a bedraggled fool, I made my way back towards the house.Feeling torn I felt tempted to sneek through the servant’s quarters,slip into one of my day dresses then Tom and Lord Benjamin would be none of the wiser.But if I did this and Lord Henry discovered that I had deceived him he would no longer feel he could trust me.Time to face the music,composing myself ‘Ok stay cool calm and collected then he would be none of the wiser.My heart all of a flutter,sweaty palms I made my way towards the front entrance,expecting to be greeted by Nancy or Browning our manservant I was taken a back to be greeted by my oh so doting husband.Lord Henry’s eyes make as Mercutio says make dark heaven night.Greeted me with a tender kiss.His eyes full of love but so cold and stern at the same time.
‘Where were you?’
‘Since when where you my mother?’
‘Isn’t it a crime for a husband to show his concern? Forgive me but I was about to send a search party out?’
‘That’s one step from summoning the hounds?’
‘Sarcasm isn’t an attractive thing Gisele.’
‘I’m sorry is my husband angry with me?’
I placed my arms around his neck.
‘I only worry because I care,you can’t just twist me around your little finger Gis.’
I pouted hoping to make it all well in the world once more.Looking into Lord Henry’s eyes I fluttered my eyelashes in his direction.
‘I just couldn’t resist temptation I was out riding Puck.’
I recoiled I have no idea how he’d react to this remark,I know he would never harm a hair upon my head but one little comment like this and I would battered and bruised upon the floor at the hand of Jack.Or he would somehow get inside my head dissect each and every single one of my phrases twist it around as though I’m the one entirely at fault.
‘You’re hardly dressed appropriately?’
‘Why turn your face away? Did you feel that I was going to hit you? Answer me that Jack do that to you?’
‘Yes….I’m sorry.’
‘Gisele you have nothing to apologise for.’
‘Puck,she was just standing there pretty as a picture.I just didn’t think.I swear I will never do it again…Where are my girls I long to see them?’
‘Nancy thought they aught to take a nap.’
‘I must go to them.’
‘Is something the matter Gis,you look white as a sheet?’
‘I’m perfectly fine,oh husband of mine.Come on lets get thee to bed.’
I took hold of his hand.’Make the most of this.’
Lord Henry backed away from me.
‘What is this? Lord Henry is rejecting my advances?’
Tom cleared his throat.
‘Gisele you can’t brush over the subject use intimacy as a weapon so I can forget about it.’
‘That’s not true?’
You’re wrinkling your nose.Lady Henry are you lying to me?’
‘Please Benjamin,must you always make a fuss?’
‘Whatever is it Benjamin?
Be a gentleman and fetch my lady ewife a whisky.’
‘Don’t listen to him Tom you know how much I detest whiskey it makes me gag.’
‘Do not take her word ,I fear she’s in shock.Gisele’s shaking like a leaf!’
‘Benjamin’s right I…’
‘Tom you’re a dear friend and I love you so…but please will you me be!’
‘If that’s how you want to play it?’
He ignored my protests walked slowly towards Lord Henry he whispered into his ear.
Pardon me for breathing…Benjamin may I offer you some advice you’re wife is playing a dangerous take heed and tell her to stop playing games before she ends up getting hurt or worse still…I can’t talk to her whilst she’s being like this.”
Tom walks off.
‘Tom only meant well?’
‘How dare you trying to defy and control me.’
‘You’re my wife it’s my duty to worry.’
‘It’s your honour my Lord to love and honour your wife.’
‘Mr Davernport only meant well.’
‘Tea and sympathising isn’t my style.You and I both know that.I’ll swallow my pride and make it up to him later.For now…’
‘Gisele you can be quite the stubborn mule sometimes?’
‘Right now we’re alone I feel it’s time for you to open and honest be brutal if that’s the case.I shall leave no stone unturned until I uncover the forbidden truth.’
‘The truth is I couldn’t resist riding Puck.’
‘You’re hardly dressed appropriately?’
I recoiled in horror,this echoed the horrors when I was battered and blue upon the floor after suffering at the hands of my beloved Jack.It all started psychologically once upon a time.Why he questions what I wore ever so subtly and then asked of my movements and when I had the strength to stand up for my self.I dare speak to a gentleman,yes I asked for it no lady in polite society is to speak up to a man.As heaven forbid it may bruise their ego,I was meant to act the dutiful beautiful wife seen but never heard.He was clever bruising in places that were carefully hidden below my gown.I shudder at the thought of this,Lord Benjamin swore he wouldn’t lay a finger upon my porcelain skin but Jack said this.
‘Why do you shudder at my hand?’
‘It reminded me of the way Jack spoke to me.Subtle put downs dissecting my state of dress.Painful memories.’
‘You know I will never bring harm to you.’
‘I am quite aware of that.The truth is Puck and I going to take a lot longer to bond than I initially thought.’
‘What don’t tell me the horse whisperer is admitting defeat at the first hurdle?’
‘It devastates me Ben,with Cossack and Quinn it was love at first sight.Puck I fear it will take longer than I anticipated and because of this until I can fully trust her Esme and Ava are unable to ride her.’
‘That’s a bit drastic?’
‘You weren’t there Benjamin,she was spooked I am not sure what caused this.But she started to rear me she quite a wild horse.She bolted off,I was powerless to stop oh Benjamin I thought that I was going to die.’
‘As duty of your husband Gisele.Next time you are going to go alone.’
I placed my hand upon his arm to reassure him. ‘I reassure you it will never happen again.I’ll be careful next time.’
‘Lady Henry,I can’t prepare to take that risk.Sweet heart you are my wife and how do you feel if I’ll lose you?’
‘I’m sure you’ll manage without me? You’ll learn to love again.’

‘Ready or not here I come!’
I hadn’t had time to pause for breathe or recover from my slight horse scare and Lord Henry and I swore that this secret was to remain between husband and wife.After all we don’t want to alarm Lady Antoinette.I was soon thrust into the throwes of motherhood once more.Esme and Ava are ever so good at twisting us around their little finger and we were transported into their own little worlds again.From catching fairies and keeping them in lanterns,jumping from one toadstool to the next after mischievous pixies.Enchanted by the endeering and ever so beautiful ice queen.Or hiding from the ferocious fire breathing dragon.
That’s Benjamin I have to thank for this retelling his Arthurian legends for you.It’s a miracle the children dontt wake up during the night plagued with recurring dark dreams.
Esme and I rolled about on the grass,I caught her nuzzled her neck.
‘I love you Mama.’ she smiled

Now we were playing hide and seek,I looked at Benjamin.He turned and looked at both of the girls in turn. ‘Run Guinevere before the big bad wolf gets you.’
‘He will have to catch me first!’
I kissed his lips.He pushed me towards the wall.
‘You can huff and puff all you like Lord Henry.’ I gestured towards the children.
‘Run and hide from the big bad wolf little red!’ I shouted to Ava.
‘Papa won’t catch us!’ squealed Ava.
‘I will give you the head start!’ shouted Lord Henry. ‘One two three!’
Esme and Ava ran off to hide.
‘I could sit and watch those two forever.’
‘There like little angels.’
‘Just soak it up and indulge in those little things that we’ve taken for granted.Don’t you just love their version of hide and seek?’
‘They called me Papa.’
‘That’s what you are to them.Oliver and Jack may be flesh and blood but that counts as nothing to them.They abandoned them now in their time of need.’
I placed my hand around his waist and kissed him tenderly.
‘Where are you going?’
‘To go and offer some humble pie to Tom.’

I walked sauntered through the gardens back towards the house.I ventured through the corridors still smelling the newness of it all.Skimmed my fingers across the crevices of the walls.Reminds me of the time we first moved into my childhood home Songbird cherry blossom.Called that under the protest of my Papa he thought it sounded long winded and for some reason wanted to call it Humming Bird but as always Mama won the argument.I fell in love with it instantly.I could lose myself within the beauty of the grounds.I was like a labryinth full of twists and turns and plenty of magical hiding places to fulfill our mischievous games.I was eight when my Mama and Papa bought me my delightful Cossack,her height was overwhelming at first she towered over my petite figure.But she was a graceful friendly giant love at first sight.We bonded the moment she caught my gaze,when I caught her trying to eat one of Papa’s precious rose bushes.I recall Victor one of the gardener’s chasing after her for dear life.But she managed to out run him,a rebel with a good heart.

The day I met my Carl,was a typical blustery autumn day.I was a lost soul.His eyes,full of hunger inviting me in.I never had the misfortune of encountering the ever so delightful Duke Matthew back then. ‘He’s an unsociable kind.’ I recalled Carl saying once upon a time. ‘Do not be bought by his web of lies he said on the eve of our engagement.He was perfectly right,but innocent and naive I believed I loved him.It makes me feel sick to the pit of my stomache.
I never dreamt that one day I would lose him to the darkness of murdering his brother.

I swallowed my pride and made my way towards the drawing room door I had an inclination that he might be in here.With a bold manner I rapped upon the door.He beckoned me in ‘Enter at your will!’
Opening the door I noticed that Tom was sat upon Benjamin’s favourite chair sat bolt up right.Whatever posessed me to ask for permission to enter a room for heaven sake.It’s always accustomed at a young age out of politeness that I aught to knock.I’m the Lady of the Manor.I do not need permission to enter or vacate a room.
‘Ah! Gisele!’
‘I’d say it’s an extreme pleasure to see you after our little incident this morning?’
‘Mr Davernport I…’
‘Gisele why are you addressing me as though I’m one of your manservants?’
‘Mr Davernport I would like to offer a sincere and heartfelt apology.So if you don’t mind me I would like to apologise…’
‘Gisele why address me so formally as thought you’re dismissing me from your household? You have been a dear friend to me for years I do not understand?’
‘You can be so impossible sometimes.Please you always feel as though you’re inferior to my family and this breaks my heart…because you had no title? For once in my life allow me to do this. Please,Let me to treat you as you’re equal.’
‘I’m all ears?’
I started to twist my hands uncomfortably turning them around in a circular motion.
‘Benjamin can be a tad overpowering sometimes.’
‘It’s only because he cares for you,you’re his wife he doesn’t want you to come to any harm.’
‘It was my own fault whatsoever possesed me to take out Puck riding I didn’t have her saddle or bridle attached….don’t look at me in that way and I don’t even know anything about her traits or what makes her tick.I’m such a fool,completely failed her.’
‘Gisele Delessop the horse whisperer surely not?’
‘Benjamin humoured me in referring to me in such a way…I know he meant well and didn’t want to spare my feelings.I realise I haven’t been around horses for quite some time but truth be told I was frightened Tom.My confidence knocked out of me and then to hear Lord Henry the love of my life…my trusted confidante.Having little faith within his wive’s horseriding skills.It’s the only thing I know Tom,without it I’m nothing.I realise now you meant well and in the heat of the moment I perhaps overreacted a little.Will you ever find it within your heart to forgive me?
‘Gisele Tara Anastacia you’re my sweet and beautiful friend.Can be a wild fiery thing with your pretty head forever being turned by a handsome stranger.But despite you’re flaws I love and adore you…I could never hate you.It broke me when I wasn’t there for Luc to lose you in similar circumstances.Lady Henry I accept your apology.’
‘I hope that I wasn’t disturbing you? I was playing with the children and needed to catch my breathe…’
‘No,not at all.I was just writing to Reinette.’
‘You must miss her dearly?’
‘Recalling my love for Ren,I’m lucky to have been given a second chance.I have an angelic daughter who’s growing and developing into a healthy little girl daily and a beautiful siren of a wife who stands by my side sharing the same vision.There was a time when the work dried up I was so afraid that would turn out to be like those gold digger harlots you hear of…that Reinette would leave me.’
‘Reinette is misunderstood Tom remember Mama’s reaction.’
‘The foreign creature new money I suspect? I remember.’
‘Reinette is not after your money Tom.’
‘She’s proved her worth and business is thriving for the time being.’
‘I’m so happy for you Tom.’
‘Hark at you the lady of the manor,colour finally returned to her cheeks.Gisele Delessop finally a woman of the world.I can see you’re at peace now?’
‘I don’t think I will ever be that I shall remain a tortured soul until I’m finally reunited with my beloved child sister and Papa.I’m happy and content for the time being.’
‘I know this is impeccable timing and beastly of me to do this but…’
‘Oh spit it out Tom.’
‘This arrived for you whilst you were away?’
Tom handed over a letter. ‘From Lord Rickman?’
‘I presumed so,I recognised his spider like scrawl.’ I laughed fondly.

It was but a few days when Lord Oliver and I were parted from one another.Barely married and as a gesture and to settle the score with Duke Matthew.He’d joined the regiment act of love or seal of his death.Coward or sheer stupidity I was yet to decide.I felt cheated for we should be spending our time getting acquainted with one another properly building the foundation of our future.Not clinging onto to my hope that he’ll return.Living alone in Serenity Estate my mind began to wander looking out of the window as the seasons began to change before my very eyes.I would look towards the grounds and visualise him upon his beautiful horse Samson.Tender memories of our first meeting and the day I fell for his charm was the only thing that kept me going.I had the courage from my family to live on I had no idea what I’d do without them.Oh how I fantasised the day he would return to my door,fling his loving arms around me.Whisper in a sweet romantic tone. ‘Sweet pea I’m home.’
In the darkness we would rekindle our lost love but all of those dreams turned to dust.Slipping through my fingers as the days lingered on.I felt so lonely and isolated from the world thank heavens for Cossack.All I had left of my husband were his beautiful letters fragments of his his heart to keep me going.Olly’s letters bless him sweet words taken great care of speaking words of love and passion for me how my heart skipped like a new born butterfly whenever he addressed me as Lady Rickman.One disappointed I only had of him was he could have taken more care over his writing.
Today I sat upon the steps and smelt the parchment just like I always did when I received yet another correspondence from him.His fragrance so powerful,his words entwined.

My loves delight,my sweet pea.
How I long to be in your loving arms once more.
My beautiful wife,fiend and lover.
Here to hold me ever so close in these cold nights.
I bet this is killing you? It’s killing me unable to find
or form the correct words.
Even know I shudder at your prescence I feel like a public
school as I express my feelings for you.
Words were so simple when I could hear you
angel of my life time.
Without you I’m nothing.
Yours Oliver.

I kept the letters even know to show them to Ava and Esme that he did love their precious Mama.

I opened the letter,so afraid to look at the contents that was about to face me.

Dear Madam
Madam? Just like the first letter? How dare he!

I write this correspondence to you,a broken man
Choking upon the words of Lady Gisele Henry?
My tears run dry,admitting that Lord Henry has
finally won the heart of my beautiful lady.

I’m not some prize to be won? The unsufferable fool!

I banished myself to…well I shall remain my whereabouts
a mystery.Why? I do not wish to be found.
Who knows or for how long it shall be for.
Or if I shall ever return to London.
I will discuss Serenity Estate and New Dawn
Estate only in correspondence to yours truly.
Though I shall imagine it will all come to me
after all you abandoned me leaving me with
I have a lot to thank your Mama,Lady Antoinette
after all was ever so kind in my time of darkness.
One day,in time I shall return her hospitality as
I’m ever in her debt.
Louisa remains in London,I know I spoke of New
Dawn but I haven’t been honest with you.
I surrender,New Dawn shouldn’t remain an empty shell.
She has built her life there now,she has a bond with your
sisters.She needs the chance to grow and gather her
I found the love letters you bestowed upon me.
Once upon a time,the thought of our love last forever.
To be truthful they kept me alive,fighting.
My intentions was to only make you happy Gisele.
I enclose the lock of hair,I once treasured as a prized
Also the single red rose that you so lovingly pressed
leaving your heavenly essence.
With deep regrets
Lord Oliver Rickman

I closed the letter,with deepest regrets? Make it sound so final.Mixture of emotions ran through my head,for so long I have painted Oliver to be a gentle creature,telling Esme and Ava tales of how he rescued me from the clutches of Jack they looked to him as a hero.I vowed that he would protect them till the end of the days no matter what happend.I have lied to them,later in life they may contact him and this will give him the perfect opportunity to twist the knife in.Portray Lady Gisele,the Mama who whored herself to any willing gentleman that would have her.I can’t stand the prospect of this,I have protected them for ever so long.With anger and frustration I tore the letter up into a thousand pieces.I looked down at my beautiful wedding ring.Shining in all of it’s glory,it only seemed like yesterday when I made my promises to my husband.My wedding dress was like a dream,sweeping as I walked down the aisle to greet Benjamin,those memories was a wake up call that I finally needed.For years I have tried to prove myself to Lord Rickman apologised for ever so many times for betraying him.I Lady Gisele Anastacia Henry has god finally smiling upon my life I’ve paid the price for my wrong doings.Yes I can kiss goodbye to my former life with Lord Oliver,once not afraid to show admiration for his wonderful endearing ways.Pains me to say I’ve lost all respect for the father of my children.His promise of always bing there,I’m through with that sad and pathetic small minded little man.He can go and die for all I care.

After receiving alarming news about my beautiful mare I decided that I would take baby steps with Puck after receiving a rather alarming letter from an acquaintance of Daniel.

After your news of your misfortune with Puck
from Sophia,so unlike Gisele I thought to myself.
Why she has been surrounded with beautiful horses
all of her life.What’s changed with this poor little
rich girl.

Poor little rich girl? Cheap shot? Good job I know
Daniel’s sense of humour.

So I decided to do a little digging,word reached
me of some dark and disturbing news of your
Puck.I shall not go into grave detail but she
was ill treated by her former master.Locked
in a small box of a stable that she could
barely stand up in.
Whipped if she dared to protest,I’m surprised
she survived Gisele.You were lucky that your
Benjamin’s friend discovered her.She was
malnurished he nursed her back to health.
She was whipped badly bruised.Bits of fur
Sorry to be the bearer of this news.

I refused to leave her side,I needed to gain this beautiful fiends trust.I am surprised that Lord Henry acquaintance didn’t mention this to him.I shall not hold this against him.Puck is finally in a loving home.It broke my heart that such a calm and beautiful creature would come to such harm.I stood there beside Puck the images plaguing my thoughts.Each beating that she took,starving her who would do such a thing? If I ever have the opportunity of meeting her torturer I would deserve him to be shot or worse still bring him under false pretences and lace his drink with the deadliest of poison await his slow lingering death.Punish him the way he punished a poor defenceless creature powerless to fight back.Lord Henry kissed my forehead.

‘I had no idea Gis,please don’t hate me.’
‘I could never hate you.’
‘If I had known that she’d been ill treated.’
‘Ill treated? More like tortured.’
‘I never would have got involved.I feel physically sick to the pit of my stomache.;
‘I do not blame you Benjamin.I feel…as though God has brought me to her,my second chance to make things right.Part of me feels we’ve rescued her from the depths of darkness.The prospect of her beautiful body being whipped starving her to death in a hovel.’
‘I know.’
‘It’s made me realise that Puck and I are alike.’
‘Both beautiful creatures,completely misunderstood.Why we’re damaged goods and with an outstretched hand…patience love and kindness I am going to do my sheer utmost to gain her trust.The thought of thinking I’ve beat her,no wonder she got spooked.I’d never raise a hand to her,she’s just a baby in disguise Ben,this is killing me.’


Chapter 16

Chapter 16
I clutched onto my champagne flute,I can not speak of this to no one,they will feel as though I’m hallucinating,treat me just like they did when I had visions of Lord Rickman after I thought he was dead. ‘Get thee to bed and rest young child.You look tired and oh so weary.I was about to dissolve onto the floor,like a puddle.No I refuse to allow the power of the mind and failing constant fear of drowning to take hold of my body.I shall rise above this.
‘It’s just you’re imagination,take control.’
I turned to look at Marianna,my hands instantly turned to ice.Face no longer a heavenly glow,but of a deathly white.
‘You look as though you’ve just saw Banquo’s ghost?’
‘It’s nothing?’
‘Lady Henry.’
‘I saw Papa,he was standing right there.’ I pointed over the empty space.
‘Don’t be so absurd.You’re staring at an abyss of nothingness.’
‘Twas not a mirage,an abyss of nothingness…or a stage of smoke and mirrors.Nor was it a vision or a trick of the light.I spoke with him,he said how Carl was waiting for his lost lover.How he couldn’t answer my question of heaven.How William was beside him,Papa spoke of how he hadn’t enough time he only wanted to say how proud he was of wha
t I’ve accomplished in a short space of time.Oh we’d only just begun but it was beautiful.I could never be afraid of our dear Papa.He promised I made a vow of never to fail him on my marriage to Lord Henry.Then he vanished.’
‘I fear Lady Henry has indeed had far too much champagne? To bed thee shall go to rest?’
‘Don’t be ridiculous! This is my wedding day.’
‘Lady Gisele,do not be a stubborn fool….get thee to bed and rest thy weary head.’
‘I shall not abandon my lover upon this day.’
‘Judge me all you like sister dear.I believe what I saw was of goodness and true.I shall forever remember this memory.You’re just jealous because you didn’t encounter him?’
‘Jealous? Now you’re being a silly little girl! I know you miss Papa,we all do.I felt for you when you stood at the alter with Daniel,feeling how Papa should be in his place…You must get a grip.The tale of ghostly visions is growing ever so tiresome you’re beginning to sound like the boy in the tale.The foolish boy who cried wolf? Keep behaving this way and Lord Henry such a sensitive soul.Will grow to believe his wife is gravely ill.Not of a physical ailment but of mind.You will be shunted off to the lunatic asylum.Is that what you wish to happen? Esme and Ava constantly taunted because their Mama’s a…’
‘Then speak no more of this.’

Lord Henry completely oblivious to his wive’s encounter with her father.He stood up to deliver his groomsman’s speech ever determined to keep everyone happy not to make a mockery of his wife trying to show her in a good light and to have the guests eating out of the palm of his hand.He reminded me of King Arthur addressing his brave noble knights gathered at the helm of the round table.The outside strong brooding and ever so confident the perfect example of a true king.Inside quaking in his boots as though he was the wronged court jester been tied onto the wheel awaiting to seal his fate,for flame throwers to be hurled out in his direction.Clutching onto his fair maiden’s hand for dear life.How I felt for him,I wish I could trade places my husband wasn’t the born spokesman he’s not good with addressing his emotions.Perhaps a few soothing words and promises might put his mind at ease? Mention how proud I am of him.
‘Not now.’
‘You’re trembling? You’ll be fine my Lord.I couldn’t be more proud of you.Take a deep breathe,take one look at your captive audience dazzle them get them to fall in love with you.Just like I did.’ I quietly reassured him.
‘I don’t think we have a hundred years to wait,it’s all in hand.’
‘I know you,you don’t have to pretend to me…after all I’m your wife.’
‘Keep saying that?’ I looked at him.He composed himself. ‘May I have your attention please?’
The guests completely ignorant to the Lord’s commands,lost in their own little world carried on reguardless with their talking.It’s true when they say ignorance is bliss,who can blame them? It’s a wedding day,a celebration of our love.There’s feasting and dancing to enjoy.Not sit through one speech after another.Lady Antoinette started to impatiently clink her dessert spoon upon her champagne flute.My blood started to boil,who do you think you are? You always like to be at the centre of attention don’t you Mama? Even on my wedding day.How envious you must be feeling of my husband trying to steal his thunder? I’m surprised you even allowed the ceremony to take place without your oversized ego taking over and standing in the middle of the wedding and calling out Vicar I object! Gisele’s love for Lord Henry is purely staged! Which isn’t the case,my love for Ben is pure and so true.I admire Louisa standing by my side throughout willing to hold my dress down the aisle,ensuring a hair isn’t out of place.Acting the proud sister,you wouldn’t think that once upon a time there was a feud between the two of us she was crazy about this gentleman.Maybe she still is,but she never faulted so calm and poised calm and carefully poised throughout.Why I had visions of her weeping and wailing throughout.Perhaps said a few hometruths begging me to look into the mirror saying how do I sleep at night,calling me the french whore for stealing her precious little Benjy away.After all I truly deserved this,I did exactly the same to her standing in front of her friends and family perhaps I could have found my inner strength and professed my love there and then spare her a life time of agony and pain.
‘Hush! What a commotion! Allow the Lord to speak!’
‘Why thank you Lady Antoinette.’ he humbly bowed in her direction.I do not dismiss my Lord’s respect for Mama but what I don’t understand is why must all of the gentleman I’ve ever fallen in love with treat my Mama as though she’s of french royalty?’
I would like to first and foremost like to thank you for for attending,speaking on behalf of my wife and I we are truly touched by your kindness and sincere generosity.I quote ‘she’s overwhelmed by the response to our invitation.’ quite a turn out,as you are all fully aware that this isn’t my first time of saying these promises.At the time I believed that I loved Lady Rickman with my whole heart and felt as though the prospect of an engagement would indeed cement our love and friendship.Yes Louisa and I were initially friends…I found myself under grave pressure and difficulty to prove my worth to her brother and marriage was my way of proving I loved her.It wasn’t false it was real.Then temptation crossed my path,Gisele on first impression looks as though she’s butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth.Yes do not be fooled by her lushious blonde locks and piercing blue eyes.We both openly acknowledge that we caved into our weakness’s,blinded by love.I do not want to enter into great detail as one I do not wish to bore you and it’s none of your concern.But alas we weren’t written in the stars she’s no longer my muse.’

Evangaline clutched onto Louisa’s hand.
‘I’m perfectly fine.’
‘You do not have to put on a brave face in front of me my petal.We’ll find our kindred spirits.I have my every faith in it.’
‘Oh please! You do not buy any of this.Louisa you’re either brave or stupid?’
‘Gisele and I have reached a mutual understanding.I respect her.’
‘How can you just sit there and listen to your former husband make these false promises again?’
‘You and I both know that I will always be second best to the beautiful Gisele.’
‘Is it true that you couldn’t satisfy him?’
‘Evangaline’s right,tried as I might to cure his boredom I was willing to try anything in order to keep hold of my husband.There were times I would beg for him to love me,our marriage died the night he strayed from my bed on my wedding night? Yes he was with your sister whilst he was supposed to be with his newly wedded wife.’
‘How can you be so calm?’
‘I dismissed the idea,thought no he couldn’t have five minutes into our marriage lay with another woman.Not my perfect handsome Benjy,it’s just people who are jealous that I am his wife and they weren’t given the time of day.I promised him I would bare him a son,hold him shelter him in the stormy times that may face us.That was never enough,but if you’re heart was never in it…it’s better to have loved than not to have loved at all.’
‘Here! Here!’

‘….Gisele and I didn’t intend to fall in love,but despite our whirlwind romance.Discovered at last I’ve found my missing piece of my heart my muse.Love’s duet,end of my sonnet.Ladies and gentleman this love story wasn’t always perfect and fitting.Stormy waters were once afoot,as we didn’t always see eye to eye.I was the stranger asking constant questions,invading upon Gisele’s privacy.Gisele had her friend Louisa’s interest at heart.To her I was a rogue,a cad! Hardly romantic attachment she always put her children’s interest at heart and believed she could love her husband and for that I admire her dearly.
I couldn’t help feeling sparks flew from our first meeting,her beautiful rouge lips inviting me in.She was so young and so unafraid.That’s what captured my heart.She had no idea how she filled my days with endless wonder one day I dreamt that one day she would come to me.But that wasn’t to be…It was when tragedy struck Lady Rickman dealt a double blow.she lost her best friend and her new born son,So precious,only days old.Instead of pushing me away she welcomed my tenderness and confort.Something surely a husband is meant to offer his wife? But that wasn’t the case in Gisele’s situation…life was unfair,her grief and shattered confidence allowed us to fall under one another’s spell and drew us both together on that night.There was uncertainty but who can blame her,she had a duty to her husband.We found recognition,true beauty.Today there is a happy ending as I proudly stand before you and say I captured my beautiful lady’s heart.May I present to you my wife Lady Gisele Henry.Proud to call her my girl,a toast to the beautiful bride.’
‘The beautiful bride.’
‘And may I mention to people dear to Gisele’s heart,I’m sorry Lord William is unable to be here for his special little girl.He would have been proud of you,what his little ray of sunshine has accomplised.I’m saddened that I never knew him.But I’ve heard by reputation and stories from the Delessop girls.Lord William Delessop he was a kind hearted gentleman,only wanted what was best for his girls.Today he will be sat upon the cloud with a whisky in one hand and a smile upon his face.I’m so proud he shall say and also Gisele’s beautiful spiritely Lucille,who’s passion burnt ever so brightly missed by all every single day.To abscent love.’
‘Abscent love.’

Tears stained my cheeks,I had my doubts of Lord Henry not caring for my father I mean why should he? He didn’t know him but what a beautiful tribute to both my Papa and Lucille.I’m sure they would both secretly approve of my choice of husband.Now it was Daniel’s turn to grace us all with his speech.
‘Normally it is accustomed for the father of the bride to deliver his speech.Sadly Lord William is unable to do this.God rest his soul.The day Gisele gave me the honour of giving her away to Lord Henry.I am not afraid to admit that I shed a little tear,the lady and I have been firm friends for quite some time.Well when she was knee high,running around the family estate with a perfect little bonnet and pigtails to match.Even at the age of seven she was protesting of her title forbidding to wear petticoats and perfectly made dresses.Before I married my dear wife Sophia I wasn’t afraid to propose to the lady herself,sadly she rejected my invitation.Many would take offence at this….but not I held nothing against her I soon forgave and forget.Gisele she has been through a difficult time but none of that fazed her,she used the Delessop code and refused to discuss this with anyone.She is one of the most strongest people I know and love.To the beautiful Gisele,a dear friend.’
‘Gisele a beautiful friend.’

‘Lady Antoinette I bet you’re breathing a quiet sigh of relief that Gisele has finally settled?’
‘Oh my dear sister Grace,my nerves are shot! I was fearing till the very end that my daughter was going to go through it.Heaven knows how long this marriage may last? I fear that her eyes will meet with a handsome stranger across some canapes.’
‘And what a fitting speech from Daniel too? No ill feeling despite the rejection?’
‘I asked for Daniel to keep the speech tasteful and kept true to his word,signs of a perfect gentleman.’
‘Has Holly and Evangaline settled upon a suitable match?’
‘Evangaline was ever so fond of the Colonel Clarkson.’
‘Cecile’s widow?’
‘Yes….simply delightful judging on first appearances.But alas nothing came of it.’
‘Oh Antoinette dear.How you must dispair?’

Holly looked ever so dreamy at Lord Henry,it’s making me feel so uncomfortable,why can’t she find a gentleman of her own age?
‘Stop dribbling.’ tutted Letitia.
‘That’s your brother your mooning over.’
‘You make it sound so tainted and wrong?’
‘It is tainted and wrong for heaven sakes girl put your eyes back inside your head.’
‘My heart goes all of a flutter,whenever I see him.Pity Oliver isn’t here champagne a flowing temptation in it’s way….I would quite happily help ease his pain.’
‘Holly have you no shame….have you lost your sense of decorum? One minute your lusting over your sister’s husband.The next Lord Rickman?’
‘I am a woman with needs in case you haven’t forgotten Evangaline gosh you can be ever so dull at times.’

The first dance was between Lord Henry and I,he held me ever so close.I had no reason to fear my love for him will never fail.I can not describe the way I feel,whenever he touches me I instantly feel the first rush of love.Sweaty palms,as he tenderly touches my waist my pulse increasing no longer afraid to disguise my rapid heartbeat.I can not imagine my life without him.
‘My beautiful delicate flower,my Gisele.’
‘My Benjamin.’
‘I look into your eyes….your mine but there like pools of mystery.Is my beloved still holding back on me?’
‘Lord Rickman left a letter in Marianna’s care.’
‘A letter on the day of your wedding.I do not know if this poetry to my ears or a pety act of revenge?’
‘He’s distancing himself.’
‘How touching?’
‘Oliver’s fragile.’
‘My heart bleeds?’
‘He’s still in love with me.’
‘Yes Lord Rickman is still devoted to me even now.I think that is incredibly sweet.’
‘Lord Rickman know’s nothing of the sort.What he feels for you Gisele can’t you see it’s an unhealthy obsession.’
‘Obsession? I can read my former husband like a book,it’s only jealously I’m perfectly sure of it.’
‘Looks can be deceptive,he is playing a dangerous game with my life.Lord Rickman is no longer the stronger vibrant character society once admired? He’s plunged into the murky depths of despair and darkness.Toying with your emotions even now.He bought your love Gisele showering you with gifts.He manipulated you when he barely knew you.By stealing away your virginity and everything you believed in when you were willing to wait for your wedding night?’
‘Oh please Benjamin,I was hardly the perfect example of a little….did you think I portrayed myself as a good christian girl who Oliver took advantage of you barely know me at all? I had complete control of the situation.I had him exactly where I wanted him I knew what I wanted I had him eating out of the palm of my hand and begging for more.’
‘It’s unrequited love on his part you and I both know that.Like Ophelia,Lord Rickman toyed with you looked to you only as a sexual object to her corrupt and deceitful lover Hanlet.’
‘Hamlet and Ophelia were never lovers Ben?’
‘In Hamlet’s head they were?’
‘That’s in your twisted little head….I’m tired,Oh Benjamin why are you being so tiresome? Don’t start going all medieval on me? And demand yet another duel with Oliver? He didn’t desire me as a sexual object once upon a time he respected me a great deal and I him,he didn’t force me into anything I was unsure of.He didn’t force me into anything,for one he healed my wounds and got me out of a predicament when I fled from Jack.I jeopardised a gentleman’s good nature.’
‘It’s our wedding day and he’s still managing to drive a sword between us?’
‘No I think you’re doing that perfectly well by yourself.Look at my hand.Go on I demand you to take a closer look.What do I see before me? Oh yes that’s right it’s a ring not just a promise ring one that means something to me I’m your wife.I thought you and I were alike,equal? Benjamin you’ve won,you have me.I’m your wife you’ve won why can’t you be satisfied with that?’

I left my husbands side,I can not be near him when he is acting this way.It’s not fault Benjamin he was programmed to function this way consumed by jealously.It’s understandable he’s well within his right to feel terribly threatened by another gentleman.I know I’m not a saint,far from it but I am certainly not going to commit a terrible sin.I have got to get away from London,it’s bad for us.Constant reminders of Lord Rickman is choking the life of our marriage.Oh why do you reduce me to tears? I repulsed him but I can’t help feeling attracted to him.
My mood could be red and fire burning with passion,but blackness plagued my heart taken over by envy and full of suspicion that he’d return to her.But that soon starts to face as I trust that he will for remain faithful to me.I made my way weaving in and out of the dancers and finally found Esme and Ava,they were ever so delighted to see their Mama.I bent down towards them.Ava greeted me with a kiss,I embraced them both in turn.
‘Where’s Papa?’ asked Esme.
‘He had to go away my angel.’
‘But why he promised us a dance where has he gone?’ sobbed Ava.
‘I know poppet.’ I smiled.
‘When is he coming home?
‘So many questions,please allow your Mama to breathe.’ said Marianna.
‘Thank you Mari but they deserve to know the truth I owe them that.Esme,Ava you’re father you know he loves you very much why he would go to the moon and fetch you the moon if you asked that.But you and I both know London is no longer a place we call our home.We shall be returning to Italy soon.’
‘I’m scared.’ snivelled Esme.
‘What are you afraid of?’
‘That Papa will forget what we look like?’
Here I am having a pety little quarrel with my husband when my two little girls who mean the world to me terrified at the prospect that their father will forget them once we return to Italy.They should be conscentrating on collecting flowers to make daisy chains playing hide and seek.Not of issues that will crush their dreams,trying as I might not to choke upon my words.
‘Oh my sweetheart,your father he loves you a great deal.Your the two loves of his life…how can he forget someone he reguards so highly.You girls are his world,why he would lay down his life for you to be safe.I don’t understand,I thought you wanted to return to Italy? Ava didn’t you say that missed the sunshine?’
Ava nodded her head.
‘Esme you longed to see our new home didn’t you?’
‘Yes Mama,but Gran’mama is here?’
‘Gran’mama isn’t going anywhere and we will ask her to visit our beautiful new home once we’re settled.What say we have traditional garden fete in the style of a typical country garden theme.To remind of us our memories.Why we shall have strawberry’s appplenty croquet for the women and a cricket match for all of the gentlemen to participate in.Accompanied by billiards clay pigeon shooting and punch and judy you will like that and on the evening a concert.You might have the pleasure of singing you will like that won’t you?’
‘What a splendid idea.’said Marianna.
‘As long as there’s cake and icecream?’
‘Pinky Delessop promise you have my word.Now my angel’s let’s get you to bed.’
‘Oh we’re not sleepy!’ protested Ava.
‘Protest all you like Miss Ava,but I think you’ve had quite enough excitement for one day.’

I placed my two angels into the nursery,Esme was like a rag doll as I carefully carried her upstairs.I am so proud of how mature they have been about their father’s disappearance.Oliver I despise you so,punish me all you may.But please do not take it out upon the children.Lord Henry was right avoid him like the plague as much as I like but that’s not the way to start our marriage quarrelling? Honestly when will I ever learn? Lord Rickman may have left me to pick up the pieces.But believe me,he is the least of my concern.Tonight is my wedding night and I intend to enjoy and embrace every single second of it.I long to be with my husband,my fine Ben.I walked in and found Lord Henry standing eagery awaiting for his bride,calming clutching a glass of champagne.
‘Gisele,I was hoping you’d come?’
‘I was wanting you to suffer,wrong and extremely childish of me I know, I realise that now.’
‘I have been saving this bottle for a special occasion.’
‘You can’t get any more special than one’s wedding day?’
I examined the bottle in great detail. ‘Vintage french champagne? It must have cost you a fortune?’
‘You can’t possibly put a cost on love?
‘Good answer,I taught you well.Well well Monsciour Henry is simply spoiling his Madamoiselle this evening?’
‘My simple way of apologising and you’re worth the wait and I don’t just mean tonight?’
‘You have no need to apologise being here confronted with constant reminders of my past.Esme and Ava are heartbroken that their father abandoned them today.It’s made me realise we have got to return to Venice.If we stay here any longer.Lord Rickman will be the death of us before we’ve even begun.I feel you slipping away from me.’
He slowly reached up to silence me,placing his right index finger onto my bottom lip.
‘Hush now.’
He moved his hand down to my lower part of my back. ‘My dear wife allow me to repair your broken heart?’
‘I don’t need saving?’
‘Allow me to be the judge of that Lady Gisele.’
‘You’re trembling?’
‘You look so beautiful,you’re hair swept away from your face,your porcelain skin has such beautiful rose buds.’
‘That’s because I’m happy.’
‘I have all of my heart’s desire,the ring finally placed upon the love of my life’s finger and her beautiful children accept me.’
‘They adore you,don’t you ever forget that.’
‘I’m afraid that I’ll blink and you’ll leave me? Once the thrill of the chase is over?’
‘I’ll never leave you.’
He needed my reassurance,he looks like a lost little boy abandoned by his parents.How childish and unforgivable of them to let their son down in that way.He looked so vulnerable,and yet so hungry for life.I kissed his sweet lips,he swiftly unfastened my corset ribbons.
‘Would the Lady like to perhaps like to slip into something more comfortable?’
‘You old charmer.’
I could finally breathe for I’ve spent all day,fake smiles painted upon my face,yes I can be quite the actress when I have to be.I’ve spent all day being crushed inside my fortress.He carefully removed the beautiful diamond necklace from around my neck.The first time love is within my felt wonderful to feel wanted,running into my lovers arms.My love no longer felt forced tainted or posion.Absorbed in these wonderful feelings.This feels so beautiful and so right into you.I know for sure this love is worth the fight happiness is well within my grasp and I’m not going to let go any time soon.

A little while later,my beautiful husband held me in his arms.I pray to God this moment is not a beautiful dream.This is how I intend to start my new life,staring into my lovers eyes,rediscovering one another.Talking about our hopes,dreams and ambitions.
‘What’s on your mind?’
‘Esme and Ava are afraid that their father will forget them once we return to Italy? There such fragile souls.I feel like they’ve rebuilt their lives in London and are about to take it away from them.I’m such a terrible mother.’
‘Don’t you ever say that?’
‘I put their mind at ease,assured them that once we are settled into our beautiful house,we will have a beautiful summer fete,you know just like we do in London,Lord Henry I heard you’re a dab hand at cricket?’
‘Some might say that?’ he laughed.
‘Oh Benjamin,it will give them something to look forward to.Billiards upon the lawn,strawberries and cream tea.Croquet and clay pigeon shooting and at night time dancing and a gala.’
‘Sounds like you have it all worked out?’
‘What do you say?’
‘I think it sounds perfect but promise me one thing?’
‘Yes my Lord?’
‘You will sing at least one song?’
‘These vocal chords are unavailable to sing? But perhaps we could come to some suitable arrangement?’
‘I shall look forward to that Lady Henry.’
‘Tell me Lord,you’re tale of how you managed to get your wicked way with me?’
‘You couldn’t resist this pretty face?’
‘Pretty? Do not flatter yourself my Lord.I’d go for devilsly handsome.’
‘Can I compare thee to a summers day
Thou art more lovely and temparate
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may?’
‘I could listen to your heavenly velvet voice quote from sonnets all day.Keep talking,oh dreamy one.’
‘I was afraid you’d run out on me?’
‘I don’t think I know that one?’
‘I’m being deadly serious.’
‘I would never do anything as beastly as that?’
‘Once you were faced with realisation that this siren of beauty.Could never love me? Using me for your own gain…that you were merely humouring me? One bite of the forbidden fruit and you would soon regret your actions.Full of regret from marrying me?’
‘Benjamin David Henry?’
‘You sound just like Mama when she was just about to give me a good spanking?’
‘How can you possibly think that? Ben you’re the reason I wake up in the morning,allowing the rays to sunkiss my hair.I count my lucky stars being with you,being able to appreciate the little things I once took for granted.You my Lord has finally given me a real purpose and believe in once more.Every day I just pinch myself when I visualise our future in our beautiful new home.Esme,Ava our new little family.In the future building a nursery for our own future son or daughter?’
‘My Lady,I have a wedding gift awaiting you?’
‘Whatever is it?’
‘I haven’t been completely honest with you.’
‘Now you’re frightening me.’
‘I know you missed riding,deny it all you like.But it devastated me to see how lost you became when you discovered Lord Rickman heartlessly sold Quinn,so I took it upon myself to make things right.I hope you forgive my boldness,I just couldn’t pass on this opportunity.I made arrangements with an acquaintance of mine,to have her sent to her new house.I know you don’t like the grand gestures as it embarrasses you but you’re my wife and you deserve the very best.On our return after a romantic honeymoon in Verona,you will have your very own Chestnut Arab.I’ve been to see her,It was love at first sight and I am sure you will see the same about her?’
‘That explains your disappearing act before the wedding?’
‘I hated deceiving you….but I didn’t want to ruin the surprise.’

Lord Henry disappeared a few weeks before our upcoming nuptials.He just left one morning with no note or a word to say of his where abouts.Is my fairytale finally beginning to crumble before me? I had endless preparations as well as a final dress fitting to get through.Had this all got a tad too much for him,I know I was drowning beneath it all but my love for Ben was making it worth my while.It’s true he didn’t love me,it was all an act he’d won me and now he no longer wanted to be a part of my life.What am I going to say to Mama and how am I going to break the news to Ava and Esme,they’d grown ever so close to him reguarded him as their father.This will destroy their little worlds.I had visions that he had a mistress tucked away in London with a secret love child? Perhaps it was he that had a secret love affair with Countess Aleksandrov? No surely not,the uncertainty tortured me.I hated him for doing to me,he swore he would never leave me again.It was as though he was slowly killing me twisting a knife in my side and all the while he was planning me such a sweet and beautiful gesture.
‘Three year old chestnut arab.Why are you crying?’
‘You are not the only one who had your doubts.I too indeed have a secret that I wish to share with you.The day you left,I had all sort of thoughts running around my head.I was paying the price thinking I could trust you.I was convinced you had a secret lover elsewhere.Please tell me you haven’t a secret lover? It’s not Louisa is it?’
‘It’s not Louisa you are fully aware of the way I feel about her? She’s mad as a box of frogs just like her brother.Rest assured my love,you are the one I want to spend the rest of my life with.

After the wedding,I was whisked away for my brief break away from the hustle and bustle of it all.It was extremely rare that Lord Henry and I had some alone time together.Nancy agreed to take Esme and Ava under their wing until our return.
We visited art galleries and admired cultures by day.By night Lord Henry and I danced by the unkissed sky two lovers entwined.
Tonight we wined and dined at the finest restaurants,just Benjamin and I alone together soaking up the culture and ambience of the city.He started to lovingly feed me with pasta.
‘Didn’t your Mama ever tell you it was rude to play with your food?’
‘Isn’t it romantic Gisele? Your husband feeding you lovingly with pasta.’
‘I was under the impression that you were trying to fatten your little wifey up?’ I teased him.
‘It looks as though you haven’t eaten for days? Are you well?’
‘I’m happy and content.’ I smiled. ‘Now you never told me why you chose Verona?’
‘All will be revealed soon Lady Henry.’
Benjamin granted my long time wish we were in Verona.I was taken in by Juliet’s balcony.Overwhelmed by it’s such beautiful glory,such a strange day.It was Lucille’s birthday.I shouldn’t be here,a part of me thought I aught to be back in London mourning my sister.I don’t deserve to be this happy,but if I turned down this rare and beautiful opportunity and remained in London.It would have destroyed everything I loved about the man who stood before me.He still felt threatened by Oliver,the natural father to Ava.But it’s only blood,Ben has been there for my girls and reguarding my feelings for Lord Rickman I feel as though I have become a stronger person,my feelings for him are none existant. If he feels one one second that a letter speaking of love and insecurities is going to weaken me and turn this lady’s head.I picture the last time I saw Lucille visualise her face,she had such fascinating and yet striking features.Study her in detail,what she wore that very day.The very last words she left for Brighton that day haunts me so.Did I even embrace her and say that I loved her?’

Lucille was running around the house like an exciteable puppy,ever since she’d been granted permission to attend Brighton accompanying one of the Colonel’s devastastingly beautiful wife the lady Katerina as her travel companian.We’d all grown tired of her constant bragging.
‘Oh what to wear,I shall need plenty of petticoats and bonnets to wear.I can not believe Lady Katerina singled little old me out as her travel companian.’
‘Lucille,I don’t think you need endless petticoats and bonnets.Do not get carried away.’
‘Oh Gisele,there is no such thing as too many petticoats.Oh and evening gowns and I must find my hair clips of various colours the minor details are important.Who knows if I am lucky I may catch the eye of a magnificent and ever so charming Officer.Why he may be almost as ravishing as Officer Benjy?’
‘Please do not become an easy target for the preying regiment Lucille.’
‘Oh Gisele,I shall go out of my way of allowing each and one of the officers who may or not cross my path to have their wicked way with me.Maybe I could become their new obsession amongst them drinking and endless games of poker.’
‘Lucille have you no pride,where is your decorum? There’s no harm in holding back,a gentleman admires mystery with a Lady it’s almost powerfully attractive to them.It’s all in the eyes.’
I opened my fan. ‘Lady Lucille,may I introduce you to the fan etiquette.All women aught to be aware of this.You compose yourself,you’re an eloquent woman you smile politely if you are addressed.But heaven sake do not say a word,you curtsy politely and if he does compliment you.Flatter him with your eyes then turn away shielding your face.Do not be afraid to reveal some vulnerability perhaps blush a little.Naivety in the eyes of a gentleman maybe quite appealing.’
‘Oh Gisele,I do not find your ideas of capturing a gentleman’s heart very amusing.In fact quite the opposite,you can be very dull and tiresome at times.Is there any wonder why Lord Rickman refuses to give you the time of day? You’re forever stuck inside the dark ages,living out scenes from your pathetic plays!’
‘I have my pride and living up to the Delessop Dynasty’s code of etiquette.’
‘Pride will get you no were in your life time.Forward thinking and sometimes perhaps….’
‘Have you listened to yourself? Timeless times I’ve listened to your behaviour at the dinner table and I’ve bit my lip for the sake of peace and harmony for so long.But you Lucille Delessop are so conceited wrapped up in oneself,have no reguard over anyone’s feelings other than yourself.You’re submissive to others that go out of there way to help you.Tom adores you and at times you treat him as though he’s your man servant and he idolises you.’
‘Don’t be so absurd Tom?’ Scoffed Lucille.
You treat gentlemen as though their objects purely their for your entertainment and they are dumb enough to take a shine to you.Haven’t they ever occured to you their human too? They appreciate fine art and conversation.A lady who isn’t afraid to show their vulnerability,who can play the piano,elegantly ride horses.Apply themselves in whatever they do…recite poetry not compete in how much ale you can drink or if you’re a dab hand at poker or not.’
‘You’re beginning to sound like Mama,acting all judgemental and moi ride horses.You know how I detest those smelly disgusting animals.’
‘Hores are highly intelligent and beautiful creatures.How can you say such a thing.You know how much I adore Cossack.’
‘Why must you always suck out the goodness out of everything…you’re like a leech.’
‘You’re not too old for a thrashing so help me god!’
‘I’m nothing like you Gisele,I have nothing I don’t have the intellect like you do.You have no idea what it is like being the youngest fighting in order to get your voice heard.This is mine please do not take it away from me.’
‘You do not need my permission to go to Brighton after all you’ve forced Papa’s hand…enjoy yourself till your hearts content.I’m not disrespecting that.You’re a beautiful wise far beyond your years woman.You have nothing to prove to me.I know you’re the baby sister and have to fight to please Mama.I feel your pain forever feeling I can’t do a thing right in her eyes.’
‘Don’t be absurd you’re her little princess.’
‘Make a mockery of yourself and the Delessop’s name and I shall never forgive you.’


Chapter 15

Chapter 15
I was finally dressed in my wedding gown,I loved the way it gently swished upon the floor.It felt as though it were a dream,it’s been such a journey transporting myself through Italian magazines trying as a might to conceal them from Lord Henry’s prying eye.To the painstaking dress fittings how I detest these standing for endless hours acting out as a pin cushion.The various measurements and dress fittings I had endured I allowed my seamstress Madeleine to take in the waist,why am I forever watching my waist.Every dinner parties I have attended I’ve resisted the truffles and heavenly desserts that were placed before me.
My wedding gown was the design, only a woman of purity and class would wear.Yes Marianna was correct.I could pass myself off as the virginal bride.It had short sleeves and a round bodice.My corset complimenting my bosom clinging in all of the right places.I do hope I can make my hardest critic my Mama proud.
It were decked with only the finest lace and stitches.Beautiful in detail,accompanied by beautiful white satin gloves.If only Lady Rosaline were here to witness this how she would be envious.I took a brief moment to reflect and collect my thoughts.Paused upon the grand staircase.
‘You look a vision of beauty?’
‘Lord Rickman?’
‘I needed to see you.’
‘Do you have a death wish?’
I slowly walked down the stairs.
‘I crave a word before you become the condemned woman?’
Lord Rickman politely removed his hat when he was about to adress me in a civil manner.
‘Very well,but will you do my dress up please? You are the last person I dream of asking.But there’s noone around you see?’
‘I see you’re charming as ever? Using your coldness to manipulate your former husband into getting what you desire?’
‘Before you suggest anything this isn’t an invitation to win me back.’
Lord Rickman slowly ran his fingers down my shoulder back,down my spine.’
‘My Lord Rickman you’re touch still gives me the tingles.’
‘In a good way I hope?’
‘In the shadows.’ I blushed a little.
‘You’re Ladyship isn’t making any sense?’
‘In the shadows,when you took me as lover.You kissed my lips,not anymore.Now what is it that you wished to speak about?’
‘I erm…Where shall I begin?’
‘Come along Lord Rickman,I haven’t got all day…as for putting on a stammer to make me pity you.I’m sorry it doesn’t work with me.’
‘You can be so hard sometimes?’
‘I was born this way.’
‘The Gisele I met was warm,kind sweet natured.Her hard was pure not made of stone? Allow me to soften your heart once more?’
I walked close to him,as if I could feel his breathe upon my body,our lips an inch from touching one another.I knew what he wanted this was my act of revenge for thinking he could take advantage of my generosity of preventing Lord Henry from killing him.
‘I’m ever so sorry my darling,being married to me made me this way.Oh I’m sorry did you honestly think that because of my generous act of preventing from fiance’ from killing you that night? Gave you the impression that I’d forgiven you? If that helps you sleep at night…you keep telling yourself that.’
Lord Rickman placed his hat upon his head,my so unlike him to admit defeat straightaway.
‘Woman will you allow me to speak for one moment?’
‘I think I’ve been awfully generous in giving you breathing time in the first place? How dare you speak to me in this impertinent manner.’
‘Twas merely trying to apologise god damn it!’
‘Apologise? If that’s an apology then I dread to think how you’d react at my funeral?’
‘Need you ask that question?’
Despite all of our ill feelings what I’d put him through over the years.I have an inkling of how he’d behave at my funeral.For one he’d prevent Esme and Ava from attending his way of protecting them.A funeral is no place for children,it was heartbreaking enough burying Lucille and Papa I couldn’t bare for them to endure such pain.No matter what,we may fight but he still loves me.Anger and bitterness is his way of dealing with letting go.To him they’d be no other.He would try and act all calm keep his feelings locked inside his heart during the service he doesn’t like to cause a public scene.But the time comes to lower my coffin into the ground he would throw himself upon the earth.Colours and memories vivid fragments of happy times enter into his mind.I shall not be buried,a feast for worms….I shall wish to be cremated then my spirit shall be free to roam the earth.I can not bare to reopen old wounds reignite old feelings.Not now,not ever.
‘Is something troubling you Lady Delessop?’
‘Sorry I was in a world of my own Lord Rickman?’
‘Are you upset?’
‘No my Lord.’
‘I’m merely remonsising that is all.’
‘Forgive me but appears that the effect you once had upon me still remains.I never had the chance to apologise fully?’
‘Lord Rickman,you’d said all you’ve had to say.’
‘I know,I see you’ve been avoiding me?’
‘Only because Lord Henry asked me to?’
‘You’re eyes so full of remorse.I believe you,but I can not remain here with you.’
‘We could recapture what we had?’ He cleared his throat. ‘Lord Henry only had you’re best interests at heart.I see that now and I admire that.If Lady Delessop…if I were bold enough to say how I truly felt? The way you glided upon those stairs on our wedding day.How you made me feel ever so nervous.When you stand before me ever so more I feel like a blushing public school boy.If I said the words I loved you more often? Indulged in your words of the bard? Then would you and I still be married.I don’t want to act out of desperation,beg upon my knees Lady Delessop.’
‘I can not it’s forbidden love you only want me because I’m with Lord Henry.’
‘Please stay with me.’
‘No,I can not grant you’re wish Lord Rickman and for this I’m truly sorry.’
Sophia walked into the light,Lord Rickman composed him,immeditely stood up.’
‘Lady King.’
‘Lord Rickman?’
‘Sophia?’ I smiled.’
‘The carriage is ready and awaiting.’
‘Thank you.’
‘Don’t let me keep you Lady Delessop?’
I watched Lord Rickman walk away from me?
‘I know.’
‘Sophia I have no idea what you speak of?’
‘You’re starcrossed lover pact with your Lord…I have spoken to Mari and I think that is a terrible thing.’
‘I love him.’
‘Think of your children you selfish girl! You may love him….but I may shake the life out of you.You’re return to London has been no good to you? And seeing you in Lord Rickman’s arms once more confirms this? Are you considering returning to him?’
‘That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.It’s Oliver that’s doing the pursuing begging me to stay.He’s clinging on to the past and of course I can not love him…Now if you excuse me I have a wedding to attend.’

I made the journey to Foxglove High Manor House,I have visited this estate on a number of occasions for various dinner parties and dances and I instantly fell in love with his sloping landscape,acres of beauty a ballroom of sheer beauty to grant the permission of my first dance to Benjamin and a billiards room that he would be proud of.I can not wait to marry my dear true.Initially I chose to travel in lavish style via an automobile.But the grandeour just wouldn’t do as I imagined the look of disappointment upon my girls faces when they discovered their Mama had deceived them and it isn’t any unicorns that I’d promised them for so long.Lady Antoinette travelled seperately with my sister’s.Sophia and Reinette agreed to accompany Tom and Benjamin.I said it would be best for Louisa to travel with Daniel and I.
Daniel had taken his role rather seriously and insisted on travelling alongside at the front of the carriage with me.He looked ever so nervous,as he silently pondered over his speech.I had my reservations,as he once took a shine to me.No I do believe it ran deeper than that Lord Henry carried far more intense feelings than merely taking a shine to me.We share so much history together,he is my closest friend and he would never have forgiven me if I had chosen Tom over him to give his precious English Rose away.If Carl was alive it would have been wrong after all I was the love of his life.Standing at my side,as I marry Lord Henry would have killed him.Sir King clutched onto my hand.
‘You have nothing to be nervous of.’ I smiled.
‘I only want it to be perfect.’ Daniel replied.
‘And that it shall.’
I briefly turned away from him.
‘You look pretty as a picture.’
‘Thank you kind Sir.’
‘I must say how honoured I am that you chose me to do this.You shall never regret this moment.’
‘I hope not.’
‘Before Lord Henry has a chance to say anything.We had a few stern words.’
‘I was brutally honest with him.’
‘Must you do that with every gentleman that has crossed my path?’
‘I may have appeared a tad over protective.’
‘Sir King? A tad overprotective? I shall not believe it?
‘Tease me all you may like Gisele…’
‘Tease you,my Daniel this is my way of getting my own back on all of the cruel pranks you played upon me. Endless Frogs in the bonnet and in my bed…worms down my petticoat.Need I continue?’
‘Despite it all I look to you as the baby sister I never had.’
‘Awfully sweet of you my darling.’
‘All I speak of is true,to me you’ll always remain the sweet and innocent girl who caught Carl’s eye.Got rest his soul,I recall the sparks that flew amongst you the very first day you met?’
‘He was my Prince and I miss him dearly,but we shall not speak of sadness we shall toast of his memory at the wedding banquet.’
‘Lady Delessop I shall hold you to that…now where we’re we? Ah! Yes Lord Henry,I looked him in the eye and said if you harm my Gisele,well something on those lines.If you break her then he’ll have me to answer to.’
‘I bet you had Lord Henry quaking in his boots?’
‘Lady Delessop,we have been here before? With Lord Rickman,you swore you loved him?’
‘I lied.’
‘Why didn’t you tell Sophia and I of this? You have indeed deceived both of us?’
‘Why act as though this is all new to you? You were fully aware of my misery I mean why would I have looked elsewhere and strayed into the path of Sir Holmes?’
‘We always thought that Sir Holmes were a passing faze?’
‘Sophia was aware of my loneliness.I felt as though I couldn’t approach you,I love you Daniel but sometimes you’re air of arrogance and pompous is too much to bare.Besides you’re in allegiance with the dark side?’
‘Lady Isabelle and I go along way back,why our ancestory of the pass draw both the Chadwick’s and the King dynasty’s together.’
‘If you think so highly of the Chadwicks,tell me Daniel why didn’t you marry Rosaline?’
‘She’s easily tollerable for a short period of time,but as for marrying her she just wouldn’t do.Too plain for my liking.’
‘Do not allow Lady Isabelle hear you speak so ill of her precious Rosaline.’
‘The way she acted towards you….I am not surprised Lord Rickman’s intentions were drawn towards you.Lady Isabelle wasn’t afraid to state the fact that she had high hopes of her daughter and Lord Rickman joining together in matrimony.’
‘She’s welcome to him as far as I’m concerned.The truth about my darling Oliver,why I only married him to prove a point to my dear Mama that I could survive in the world without the Delessop’s fortune.’
‘I thought the Delessop fortune had gone?’
‘It was all a myth,part of Mama’s wicked scheme allowing to believe that if I married Lord Rickman it would save the family name.She merely wanted to get rid of her wild and fiery daughter.You have got to believe me Daniel,I never intended to get in deep to allow him to fall in love and the children.’
‘You say you regret Esme and Ava?’
‘Never,you’re just putting words into my mouth.I never dreamt I’d break his heart.Through marrying him,I acted so selfishly.I thought I would have grown to love throughout our years together.Not die of boredom…’
‘You could have grown to love him? I know it?’
‘Daniel darling,look at me….honestly do you truly believe for one minute I could have survived living in his world?’
‘You could have if you truly wanted to?’
‘Wanted and needed are two different things.I believed I needed him to replace my Papa.The tenderness to fill the void I was feeling,I was in such a dark place…Needed him out of guilt after betraying him and causing Papa’s death.Oliver and I were both born into two seperate worlds.Lord Oliver was brought up as a public school boy,I wished to be an actress and not of a lady.My marriage was of convenience.He had high expectations and hopes for his new wife.I didn’t like the idea of being kept behind closed doors.I wanted the urge to breathe.’
‘He bought you Cossack,allowed you to breathe?’
‘That was his way of keeping his little wifey sweet,whilst he was off clay pigeon shooting or had urgent business to attend to. He disagreed of my intentions to find my own way amongst the world.Oliver had designs above and beyond.I would remain in Serenity Estate,as the loyal and dutiful wife playing the piano,reading and pressing flowers while he did as he pleased.Roaming the estate playing Lord of the manor.It was perfect until I betrayed him,on my return behind closed doorsI was his property no one else’s…if another gentleman dared look at me.I was the trapped nightingale,his song bird only allowed to live out my dreams of being on stage at the occasional recitals only then I would sing on demand.He refused to believe that he couldn’t change his impossible french courtesan.I wasn’t intended to be rich,how I detest the title of lady.Sometimes I feel I was orphaned as a child,dancing upon the parisian streets a few pennies to get me by.Lady Antoinette stops,takes one look of this pathetic looking child took her as her ward educating this ferral child with her other daughters.’
‘You and your imagination Gisele?’
‘Don’t you understand that is why Lady Antoinette treats me so differently,not afraid to reject me in public.Lord Henry is different,he saw beyond the title and the dresses.He doesn’t care for the balls,and quite honestly neither do I.He was brought into the world unabling to fulfil his parents dreams and wishes.He’s my soul mate,he trusts and respects me.We recognise when one another are struggling.Allows me to freely dance amongst the stars.Not suffocate nor choke me.’
‘The courtesan and the loveable rouge?’
‘The courtesan and the loveable rouge I shall like that very much.’
Daniel painted a beautiful picture the courtesan and the loveable rouge as though it were a beautiful love story.If only this were true how I’d long to shed my title and run off into the night with Benjamin.Surviving on the italian streets,we had our strengths I could use my femine beauty dance upon the streets and Benjamin is ever so talented he could romantically recite sonnet’s to hopeless romantics.Serenade the beautiful ladies with sitar playing.Whilst Ava and Esme could use their butter wouldn’t melt routine allow poor unsuspecting people in and pick pocket them once their back is turned.
No this isn’t right Esme and Ava deserve a future far better than that.Full of honesty they aught to stay with Lord Rickman.He would bring them up to be good and honest and respect gentleman unlike their Mama.It’s a beautiful dream,Mama would never forgive us if we just took off without leave.Then I think of what Marianna said earlier on,she was perfectly right Benjamin and I were destined to be together.Like Romeo and Juliet,Anthony and Cleopatra just hope and prey that our passionate love affair doesn’t end in the heroe’s fate being sealed in such dramatic fashion.

On first impressions High Foxglove Manor,looked so picturesque a lot grander scale than the last time I had visited.Louisa sat in complete silence for full duration of the journey here.She looked longingly out of the window.The carriage reached an abrupt stop.
‘Daniel,I shall need you’re hand?’
‘Where are my manners? Forgive me Lady Delessop.’
Daniel helped me down from the carriage.
‘Ever the gentleman?’
‘So this is High Foxglove Manor?’ exclaimed Louisa.
I shall chose my words wisely,I sense Louisa’s pride is hurting right at this moment.
‘Lady Antoinette will be ever so proud of you?’ gushed Louisa.
‘I do hope so.Where is your brother?’
‘He had to leave,had some urgent business to attend to.’
‘Oliver leave? Esme and Ava will be so heartbroken.’
‘I fear humiliation has got the better of him?’
‘Lord Rickman and his pride,it’s never changes?’
‘He can not possibly bare it seeing you marrying another,he discussed how he begged to take you back,asked you to stay in London.You’re rejection…’
‘You’re brother is a tortured soul?’
‘Lord Rickman loved you deeply.’

I do not understand why leave? When he had promised his children at least one dance with their dear Papa.Es and Ava will be ever so disappointed,although I do not blame his behaviour.I truly believe if I witnessed Oliver marrying Countess Tatiana Aleksandrov…hyperthetically of course.I’d react the same way,consumed with jealously desperately try as I might to cling onto the past.Allowing him to believe I’d change for just one change to reignite the flame we once shared.Throw the gauntlet down,ask for him to stay.Once he had dealt the fatal blow of rejecting my advances I would then head for the hills.Looking back,I should have handled the situation a lot more sensitively.He was extremely within his right to mention how hardened I’d become.Instead of acting merely flattered that he still paid attention to me I mocked him.It was as though I drowned a poor defenceless puppy at birth.
Carefully I placed my veil over my face,masking my eyes.Remaining a lady of mystery.Until I say ‘I do.’ I was in the momeny,visualising the aisle take deep breathes Gisele.A few fairysteps then you’ll be reunited with your Romeo.Today is a fresh start,no more running.You’re a strong vibrant vixen,no longer the lamb ever hiding from the cowardly lion Jack.Who knows when he’ll return to face me for what he did to my Carl.
The masked swan slowly walked up the aisle ready to seal her fate.Lady Antoinette was sat in her pride of place,waiting eagerly to see if her daughter jilts the poor unsuspecting Lord Henry at the alter.Whilst various lords and ladies were lost in their own little world whispering amongst themselves.The endless journey ended,when our eyes finally met at the alter.Lord Henry looked just as delicious and brooding as I imagined.Smiling ever so proudly as he patiently awaits for his bride.
He whispered into my ear. ‘My Lady.’
‘My Lord,’
‘You look delicious enough to eat.’
I looked down bashfully.
‘Has my lady turned a tad crimson colour?’
‘Remarks like that you shall burn in hell Lord Henry.’
Holly and Evangaline were whispering amongst themselves.
‘Doesn’t Gisele look divine!’ gushed Evangaline.
‘The dress looks tolerable I suppose.Why if I we’re the bride then I would have added ostrich and peacock feathers on the bodice.’
‘That would make her look like a show girl dress and Gisele is certainly no lady of the night.’
‘Where did she get those diamonds from?’ asked Holly.
‘An heirloom of Gran’Mama Reinette’s.’
‘There positively sparkling.Why wasn’t I left them?’
‘Maybe because you always tutt tutt the idea of marriage.’
‘Marriage is an institute,it’s a convenience for poor ladies to enter arranged marriages to avoid being cut off from society.’
‘Don’t be such a cynic,if I marry I intend it to be out of love.’
‘Mind you,if I was marrying Lord Henry,it would be a completely different story.
He looks simply dashing in his suit.’ swooned Evangaline.’All rugged and handsome very wild like Heathcliff don’t you think?’
‘Everything always has to come down to literature with you? Cathy and Heathcliff are merely fiction no gentlemen are like him in real life…stop going all cow eyed and dreamy over him.’
‘That going all cow eyed and dreamy over him.’
‘Why not? I am entitled to have my dreams.’
‘You have Colonel Clarkson,yawn yawn.’
‘Do not speak of him.I can look but unable to touch makes it much more exciting don’t you think?’ blushed Evangaline.
‘I wouldn’t mind Lord Henry introducing me to riding,that’s if I’m guaranteed to have a tour of the stables.If Gisele stupidely throws him over,then I’d happily take her place and repair his broken heart.Gisele will remain a distant memory.Rumour,says Lord Henry can be quite the tiger?’
‘Holly! That is your brother in law you’re referring to?’ said Evangaline.
‘Girls! That is quite enough!’ tutted Letitia.
‘We were merely giving our opinions of the groom.’
‘I’d quite kindly like to remind you that this is your sister’s wedding day.As her sister’s you aught to act gracefully and respectful.Do you think she’d appreciate overhearing her sister’s treat Lord Henry as though he’s a piece of meat?’
‘No.’ whispered Holly.
‘Well then I suggest you keep your crude remarks to yourself.’
‘Sorry Letty.’ smirked Evangaline behind Letitia’s back.
‘Welcome back sister dearest,I’ve missed thee.’

Lord Henry and I held hands.I gazed into his eyes,The Reverend cleared his throat.The fallen woman took a deep breathe and was about to take her vows.
‘We are gathered here today to witness the holy matrimony between Benjamin and Gisele.Now Gisele and Benjamin I would like you to face one another and deliver your vows.
‘Gisele Tara Anastacia,my kindred spirit I promise that I will always love and protect you from harm.I was lost but now I see.’
‘My Lord Henry is quoting John Newton? Amazing Grace is such a beautiful song don’t you think?’ added Lady Antoinette.
‘Through laughter and tears,I shall swallow my pride and ever remain by your side.’
‘Love is patient,love is kind,it does not envy it does not boast.You’re all probably thinking why am I quoting from the bible? Well through my dark times I treasured the passage from 1 Corinithians verse four.I was dealt a testing time,told that I aught to remain patient and love will come along.Well I never believed this until now,this gentleman here captured my heart.But he kept me waiting.I mean didn’t anyone teach him it’s rude to keep your lady true waiting.Well my faith remained and you returned.Though I may be boasting,but I’ve finally found the wind beneath my wings,beat of my heart.My loyal,trusting friend,star crossed lover to the very end.’

I slipped the ring upon Lord Henry’s finger with such ease.I sympathised for my Lord as he struggled to do the same.
‘Is this his way of saying Lady Delessop I can not marry you.’ said Evangaline.
‘I shall quite happily step in,honestly Gisele and her sausage fingers.’said Holly.
‘I think Gisele has beautiful artistic fingers.’ added Evangaline.
I looked towards Benjamin trying to put his mind his ease,and then looked down and studied my engagement ring.My wedding ring oh so different in comparison to the emerald ring Lord Henry bestowed to me upon his proposal.My wedding ring was so beautiful,a single gold wedding band.Lady Antoinette disapproved of course. ‘Gisele you must refuse this man.How can he present an engagement ring so beautiful and vast.To a wedding ring with not a single diamond.Lord Henry and I could promise me a world of diamonds and emeralds and I would refuse him it’s about pure love.No jewel’s or money would turn my head.This lady isn’t for sale.
‘You’re trembling my Lord?’ I whispered.
‘It’s all in hand my Lady.’
‘Is this your way of saying you can not marry me?’
‘Most certainly not.’
He slipped the ring upon my dainty finger.
The Reverend breathed a sigh of relief I know pronounce you husband and wife.Lord Henry you may kiss the bride.’
‘It shall be my pleasure Lady Henry.’ he smiled.
Lord Henry kindly removed the veil that concealed my piercing eyes.He took me in to his arms bent forward and greeted me with a beautiful passionate and yet so poetic kiss.It felt so natural we briefly lingered.I didn’t want this moment to end.I briefly closed my eyes.I quickly reopened them to see various guests from both the bride and groom’s side applauding.
‘You kiss by the book?’
It was overwhelming that society who were once upon a time dived upon our courtship were finally demonstrating their seal of approval.For some this reunion brought joy,to others sheer pain.I felt sorry for Louisa,the truth finally upon her that her Benjy belonged to another.I watched as the former Lady Henry casually wiped away a tear with a single white satin handkerchief.The white symbolising her surrendering at long last.I looked at the sea of faces,still no sign of the ever so charming Lord and Lady Henry? I noticed Lady Ana sat next to my Mama.Lady Ana and I had grown extremely close since our romance had become public knowledge.When society turned their back on us,at the time Ana was my only trusted confidante.Why I asked her to be one of my bridesmaids before Louisa and I had made peace.But after the business with Evangaline and Arthur she thought it wouldn’t be fair and sadly turned the offer down.I was deeply hurt at the time,after all I had issues with Arthur for breaking my little sister’s heart and not with Ana.I know Lord Robert and Lady Darcie have made their feelings perfectly clear that they do not approve of my marriage to their son.But punishing him because he broke the rules and fell in love.I for one feel that this is a pety excuse to avoid attending,haven’t they ever live life dangerously?

I looked over at Louisa once more,and could see her pain although she was trying ever so hard to fight it,hide it from view.My heart sank,I let go of Lord Henry’s hand.
‘I’ll just be a minute.’ I kissed him upon his cheek.
I walked over to Louisa.
‘Gisele? Congratulations you must be so happy?’
‘That I am.’
She quickly wiped away her tears.
‘Do not hide your tears away from me sister dear.’
‘You still reguard me as your sister?’
‘Always.I can feel your pain.’
‘Do not think I’m shedding a tear over Lord Henry?’
‘Louisa,do not feel you have to put a front on in front of me.I know how fond you were of him?’
‘I never realised upon our first encounter in Versailles,I was broken for I had just cut my ties with Sir Holmes.On first impressions,he was easy on the eye…tolerable I suppose.But as I grew to know him,his likes and dislikes.I loved that man…I thought this day was hard,the day you asked me to be your bridesmaid I was honoured.But at the same time scared…scared of the unknown.But how I could refuse you,you’ve been too good to me.I didn’t want to let you down.But Oliver said you have nothing to be afraid of,this change will be good for us.I will remain by your life as we both enter the unknown.He endured my pain.Quote ‘Louisa I am so proud of you,you can get through the day,you may not feel this know but one day you will find a gentleman who will acknowledge your existance.But until this time arrives,I will squeeze your hand help you through your river of tears.I never knew it would be so difficult without him?’
‘Oliver,I’m sorry to speak so beastly of your brother.But Oliver has always been full of false promises.Ever the coward,he abandoned me on my Papa’s funeral.’
‘I can not do this.’
‘One thing I know for sure,Oliver is right in saying that it may not be now.But one day you will find a gentleman who will acknowledge your existance.Love you for being the true you.Share a mutual respect,you’re more stronger than you think…I admire you Lady Rickman.I truly do.’
‘I need some air.’
Louisa ran off.

Lord Henry sensed I felt upset over Louisa running out on me in dramatic fashion.After all it was his wife that usually did the running.He affectionately placed his arms around my waist.
‘Is something troubling you my dear wifey?’
‘I shall have never used to that.’I smiled fondly.’Louisa.’
‘What about her?’
‘Louisa,she has taken it to heart Oliver abandoned her.’
‘Isn’t he making a habit of this?’
‘I know Lord Rickman has let me down in his past.But his own sister? Though I can see how this may prove difficult for him.Re-visiting his wedding day,witnessing his wife making promises to another gentleman.Why if I saw him marrying another lady,offering her the world it would kill me.Please do not hate me?’
‘You know I’d never do that?’
‘I don’t care for Oliver.It’s not what troubles me.’
‘Speak your mind my angel?’
‘As for Lord and Lady Henry?’
‘There dead to me.’
‘How can you say that? You know I’d do anything to have my Papa back.Despite everything,I know they disapproved of me….but they should have acted maturely and rose above it.If their your parents they should be here?’
‘You,Ava and Es are all I need in this life time.And maybe our own brood? But now is not the time to discuss this.Come now our peasants awaits us.’
‘I dare you to say to that my Mama’s face.’
‘I wouldn’t dream of it.’
‘Lord Henry you coward.’
He placed my hand in a palm Shakespearean style,as we walked towards our humbled guests.Marianna walked in our direction.Lord Henry bowed towards his new sister in law out of politeness.
‘Lady Marianna.’
‘Lord Benjamin,Gisele may I have a word in private?’
‘Not now Marianna.’
‘Please just one moment of your time….Lord Rickman before he left,he handed me this.Swore me into utmost secrecy.Insisted that I only gave you this aftet you said I do.’
Marianna passed me a scroll.
‘I’ll go and find Esme and Ava.’
‘Benjamin is that necessary?’
‘I long to see them.’

It was a scroll,why did he have to be so old fashioned.I dread to think what it may contain.
‘Gisele,I shall leave you alone to collect your thoughts.’
‘Trust me.’
I briefly composed myself,counted to a silent five.Lord Henry and I promised that they were no longer to be secrets between us.I felt angered and betrayed that he felt the need to abandon me.I opened the scroll carefully.

Lady Henry,
I can imagine that you have already
married? Well that’s if Marianna has kept to
her side of our agreement and given this after
you’ve said the words I do?
This is my gift to you upon your wedding to Lord
Henry.This contains the truth,apart of you may think
that this is my act of revenge? A taste of your own
medicine perhaps? Inspiration from what you started
all of those years ago?
You may find this hard to believe,I do not hold a
grudge against you….Gisele I shall politely set
the scene for you.Your in your Mama’s house.
After you so cruely rejected me.At this
moment I imagine you will laugh in disgust.
I do believe it was in indeed bad taste.You
standing before me,well forgive me for saying
this looking so beautiful.My princess,your hair
slicked back in all of those pins.Then again
she is extremely lucky having a stunning
piece of canvas to work with.
You may feel insulted for I referring you to
a work of art.I’m sorry it’s my way of
bumbling.It’s always been this way when it
comes to expressing my feelings.My Gisele,as
always standing so proudly upon the stairs.
Prim and proper,a vision of beauty.I was lost
for words.It suddenly dawned on me,the truth
killed me.That I was unable to have you.
You were my wife,and I took our time
together for granted.Knowing the last time I
would smell your sweet perfume vanilla
musk.Upon my pillow as you lay beside me.
Held you so tightly,I would never have let you
go.I’ve said those words several times but
never meant them until now.You used to
call me you Romeo,but I should have known
I was Paris,you’re second best….that I couldn’t
have been enough for you.I treated you
appallingly from the start of our marriage.
Looked at you’re body as merely an object
and not a temple.Abandoned you,I was
blinded by my love for you.
My Sweet Pea,you returned to me once and
like the fool I were,thought history would
indeed repeat itself.As you rejected me,said
you didn’t want me.I couldn’t face society,the
coward that I were took the easy way out.I had
to go away.Not sure for how long,or if I’ll ever
I now see how my jealously and my coldness
broke you and drove you away into the arms of
Lord Henry.I should have learnt fron my mistake.
When you were involved with that man Sir Holmes.
I hope Louisa doesn’t hate me so,I promise I shall
make it up to her and that Esme and Ava don’t miss
their Papa too much.

‘You gave up that title when you abandoned your daughters!’

….I know I’ve said it a thousand times over,I shall keep
saying those words of apology.I acted like a wild
animal towards you.It was unforgivable.As I know
in grave detail,every individual beating you received
from Jack.Heaven knows what you ever saw in that
man? But I shall not judge you,you grew to understood
at that time that your husband was indeed dead…..and
you had urges and needs to be met.I can not forgive how
that man had taken advantage of my beautiful sweet
Gisele.I am not ashamed to say,I shed a few tears
whilst I write this you must have felt so alone.Not
knowing which way to turn society,constantly
judging you.
You still have the scars,but you always remain strong.
I admire you Gisele,despite it all you were convinced
I were alive? Gisele Tara Anastacia,you have a good
heart my beautiful sweet angel.
I am proud to call you,the mother of my children.
There isn’t a day that goes by I do not remember
William in your absence,I placed a wreath upon
his grave and flowers daily.Roses your
favourite.I watch them bloom and die,but
our son’s memory still remain.
Be happy

A little while later,we where gathered at the wedding banquet table.Papa should be here by my side,acting the doting father all merry with a smile painted upon his face.Toasting his daughter’s future happiness.I felt guilty over the ever revealing parchment how he went about the past and his emotions in grave detail.He still knows how to get inside my head,tug at my heart strings.He cared for his son after all,how sweet of him to leave a wreath upon his grave.Guilt was getting the better of me,so I took it upon myself to drown my sorrows,no one will give a jot that the bride is drowning in confusion.They are too busy enjoying the ambience.The champagne began to consume me,and cloud my judgement.I saw a faint light,I couldn’t
quite make out the silhouette.
‘No it couldn’t possibly be?’
‘Is it a figment of my imagination?’
‘My petit Gisele,how you’ve grown?’
‘I’m sorry.’
‘I came to see how you are…never to judge.’
‘How could you possibly ask? Struggling,I miss you so.Mama still remains a hold over me.She resents me for so many things.You’re death changed the course of my life.So many questions.’
‘You look so beautiful.’
‘You should be here?’
‘Please forgive me for marrying Lord Henry.’
‘I understand that Lord Rickman wasn’t for you.’
‘I felt trapped Papa…Is heaven how you imagine it to be? Ava constantly asking and I can not answer about the unknown.Is it all fluffy clouds rainbows angels and harps.Perfect harmony?’
‘You paint such a lovely picture.’
‘Well is it?’
‘You know I can not possibly answer that?’
‘Stop sulking Gisele.’
‘How is Carl? Tell him not to hate me.’
‘He’s waiting to be reunited with you in the great sky.’
‘Even in death,he still waits for his lover.’
‘He’s angry as you speak of taking your life if Lord Henry dies,’
‘He will not understand,it’s how I feel.’
‘I didn’t come to quarrel.I haven’t enough time,just to say how proud I am of you.My darling daughter finally found happiness and two beautiful children.I do not hate you for the death of William,I am watching over him.Promise me do not fail me?’
‘I will not fail you.’
With that he vanished from my sight.



Chapter 14

Chapter 14
‘I promise to love,cherish honour and obey? ‘Obey? So dated in these parts.Those words stuck to the back of my throat and went around in my mind on a constant loop.Thank heavens I shall not be using those words today.Love and cherish Benjamin I shall,I shall honour and obey.Mama will have a funny turn if she found out I was disrespecting the old vows.Protect perhaps would be more suitable,I’m no one’s property.Not now,not never,I certainly shall not be obeying my Lord’s commands like the dutiful wife I aught to be.Why should I feel guilty about it,he brought it upon himself.He doesn’t deserve tea and sympathising,after his threatening display that had taken place only a few months previously.I admired him for standing true to his word and not resorting in violence.But I fear,he went a tad too far with those words of his.His undying love for me has certainly got the better of him and I shall agree to make polite company if Lord Robert and Lady Darcie Henry grace us with their presence.After all their his Mother and father.
I very much doubt it they’ve made their feelings perfectly clear as,Lord Benjamin as written to them several times and hadn’t had the decency to respond.It breaks my heart seeing Lord Henry so broken,I detect he feels lonely and isolated as I’m forever surrounded by my sister’s.I shall put my feelings aside exchanging idol conversation.But that’s as far as it will go.
I looked out of the window,in just my undergarments,my dressing gown protecting my modesty.I smiled,a familiar smile,I never knew that this would ever arrive.We’ve had quite a difficult few months unearthing secret truths,the inner depth of my Benjamin’s character.I turned to face my empty bed.I miss his beautiful face,his words that would put me at ease right now.I ever admiring myself in the mirror,scrutinising every little detail.Waiting with baited breath for the familiar words.
‘You look radiant,why you take my breathe away.A vision of beauty.I’m so lucky to have you.’
Butterflies dance around in my stomache,I shall not rest until the deed is done and the ring is placed upon my finger.I know that’s a horrid thing to say ‘the deed is done.’ As though I’m Lady Macbeth covering for my husband when he carried out the grisely murder of King Duncan,I recall her saying the deed is done.Some may say I’m referring to my marriage to Lord Henry as being an arrangement that I’ve been reluctantly forced into.I have to stop threating over my movements but part of me can not help thinkung will Lord Henry finally expose his true colours and wake up to his senses.It will all of a sudden dawn on him how much of a complicated creature I am and run away.There are times when I do wish I didn’t have the emotional baggage,the scars I carry from ever lover I’ve been with as though it’s some souvenior so to speak.The mental and physical scars were from Jack,Emotional upheaval from abandoning Declan in that horrific fashion after discovering I was expecting Ava and I do not wish to speak of Oliver he’s not worth the time or air I breathe.Oh I do wish I had met Benjamin,when I was blossoming into a lady,I was so confident and sure of myself back then.Then I’d be experiencing this for the first time,yes I should have saved myself for a gentleman I loved and trusted.But how was I to know marriage to Lord Rickman wouldn’t be my last.It ended so badly and in dramatic fashion.Lord Henry loves me for all of my failings and imperfections and I feel the same way about it.’ He would say,it’s all in our make up Gisele.’
Today was the start of a fresh new beginning,we have so much to look forward to.Our new estate in Italy,and perhaps in a few years time the gift of children.I can not wait to see the look upon Lord Henry’s eyes light up when he is holding his precious new born in his arms for the first time.Watching his close bond develop with his son or daughter teaching how to talk their first steps.Educating them to enable them the opportunity of attending a fine school.I want my children to be home schooled but we shall discuss this further when Ava and Esme have reached that certain age.This is all a brand new experience as I’ll be living them through fresh new eyes.I didn’t have much of an opportunity to pause for breathe.When Holly bounded into the room uninvited.She appeared to be rather excited,oh please Holly leave me be.On first impressions you would be led to believe it was Holly’s wedding day.
‘Isn’t it a beautiful day?’ she beamed.
‘Isn’t it just?’ I yawned and stretched my arms.
‘I apologise.’ smiled Letitia. ‘I said to knock first Holly,then wait for Gisele to grant you permission to enter-‘
‘I couldn’t bare to wait-‘
‘Some one would think it was Holly’s wedding day?’ teased Evangaline.
‘Like that would ever happen? I refuse to be a gentleman’s servant.That’s all you are to them once you are married.Hardly anything romantic about that?’
‘If only I’d discovered that sooner?’ I teased.
‘Remind you of someone?’ asked Marianna.
‘Was I really this naive?’ I blushed.
‘Bright eyed and busy tailed perhaps? Never naive.’said Marianna.
‘Where is my brides maid gown? There is so much to do,my hair….It needs to be perfect.’
‘Good morning to you too?’ I giggled.
‘Holly Florence Delessop,compose youself.Allow your poor sister to breathe,she’s not even up yet? Honestly child.’ scolded Marianna.
Marianna turned towards me and smiled a reassuring smile. ‘Today is the day,you’re dreams are coming true.It’s all falling into place,just as you’re hearts desired.Finally be coming Lady Benjamin Henry.’
‘Lady Gisele Henry? Yes I shall like that very much.’
‘Finally ridding that wretched of a man Lord Rickman.I never did like him much.’said Holly
He was too controlling for my liking.’ Sighed Evangaline
‘My the truth is finally coming out now?’ I sighed.
‘I didn’t want to say it before,but he’s a bit of a lech isn’t he? There were many times at dinner,when he was sat opposite….I was trying to engage in conversation with him,as Mama forced me into making an effort…The way he keeps staring at my chest.’
‘Holly,hold your tongue.I do not believe Lord Rickman would do that he’s a gentleman honest….’ said Letitia.
‘Oh Mari,I have big butterflies the size of a horse.Dancing around,think of it.I’m scared…’
‘What are you to be scared of?’ asked Letitia.
‘I’m scared that once I’ve become his wife,my ring ever bounding to him.He will no longer fancy or desire me.Cast me to one side and his wandering eyes will reek it’s ugly head once more.It happend to Louisa why not I?’
‘You’re bright and ever so beautiful,why it would never come to that.’
‘I’ve suffered at a gentleman’s hand before?’
‘Lord Benjamin,simply adores you.He respects you and your body,I mean he could have brought harm to Oliver for what he did to you? But he didn’t….he rises above it.’
‘But he demanded a duel?’
‘I think a duel is awfully romantic.’ gushed Evangaline.
‘Nobody asked you.’ tutted Holly.
‘It’s Benjamin’s threats that scare me the most?’
‘It’s his way of stating a claim over you.’ says Holly.
‘No it’s his way of protecting you,it’s kind of gallant and noble.’ added Evangaline.
‘Gallant and noble maybe,you know I have always fantasised the very thought of two handsome knights duelling over their fair maiden.Whilst I stand upon the balcony waving a white handkerchief awaiting to greet the hero with a gentle kiss as their well deserved prize.’
‘There not about to slay a dragon.’ giggled Holly.
‘I can dream.’ I sighed.’It’s reality that scares me the most.The question is what he carries out his intentions and killed Oliver? What would I tell the children? How can I look them in the eye and say Esme Ava,I’m ever so sorry Daddy won’t be coming home as your new father has murdered him? I simply can not bare it.’
‘Please stop fretting,it’s getting rather tiresome.’ said Holly.’Smile for heaven sake,otherwise you’ll end up with wrinkles like Mama? And we do not wish that upon you now do we?’
‘Certainly not.One Lady Antoinette is quite enough. I turned to face Evangaline. ‘Whatever is the matter Evangaline?’
‘Twas nothing.’ she sighed to herself.
She can not fool me,I can something is preying on her self-esteem.He goes by the name of Colonel ‘Slippery.’ Dominic Clarkson.How dare he not stay true to his word and he take advantage of my sister Evangaline.That night,she was acting all coy,not willing to give anything away,her skin so radiant.I’ve never witnessed her this happy before? I sung his praises,encouraged her to give a lonely gentleman the chance of happiness.I’ve watched her slowly fall apart,as the days passed by and not a single invitation.Ok,I understand,he may have had urgent business to intend to or he may be the shy and retiring type since losing Cecile.Scared to rush into something,but he was hardly committing himself to matrimony was he? Why promise his lady the world and then leave her with nothing?
‘On the contrary Lady Evangaline.Why you have been staring out of the window for days.My I remember it well,when Lord Benjamin went away ripped away my heart and soul feeling betrayed.I had my doubts,thought of calling him all of the names under the sun.How dare he abandon me,after all I made the sacrificing my marriage for him.’
‘You and Benjamin are different you where friends beforehand? Colonel Clarkson is merely a stranger to me?’
‘I would refer to him as an alley never mind a friend.There were days I dreamt him of existence.But my strength prevailed.’
‘Colonel Clarkson promised that he would write to me after your engagement…’
‘…Like the silly little girl,I believed him…I mean really why would he ever want to be involved with yours truly.Not a single letter,or word to apologise for his delay? Twas a fool to believe he’d like me?’
‘Maybe Colonel Clarkson had reasons out of his control and maybe he may in time discuss them with you in person.If he’s your hearts true desire.Believe me he’s worth waiting for.’
‘I wish I could believe you?’
‘Where’s that Delessop inner strength.A little courage my beautiful sister.’
‘Evangaline Violet?’
Evangaline scowled at Holly.
‘Yes,two can play at that game.How can you be so selfish.’
‘I’m being selfish? I can hardly believe that? We all agreed on giving Gisele some time to have her beauty sleep.But no you were more concerned upon getting into your brides maid gown?’
‘This is your sister’s wedding day.’ Holly continued. ‘She already has Mama’s controlling ways to deal with….She’s relying on you to remain strong for her.In fear,she may jilt him at the at the alter.’
‘That thought has never crossed my mind Holly.’
‘Maybe,forgive me Gisele this isn’t the first time we’ve been here.I mean I’ve lost count of the times but that is not the point…You’re being so self-absorbed Evangaline,absorbed in your own little world and problems.Colonel Clarkson means absolutely nothing to you.He’s a passing fancy,you are not intimately involved with him.Why I could slap you,shake the life into you for fawning over a gentleman.You’ve changed,this is not my Evangaline at all? Ever since we returned to London and have been reintroduced back into the Delessop Dynasty.You have become oh so frightfully dull.How I detest it,and do you think why you’re so misunderstood.Stop analysing life as though it’s a chapter from one of your books.Life isn’t a stage,if fate is meant to draw you hopeless romantics together…’
‘Like a mother to a flame.’I smiled fondly.
‘I hardly call him that,if you and Colonel Clarkson will be worth the wait.
‘Come Gisele,we have to make yourself look radiant for your Prince.’ Smiled Marianna. ‘Girls will you leave us two alone.You have a feast to prepare.’

Holly and Evangaline reluctantly left the room,ushered out by Letitia.Marianna picked up a hairbrush.
‘Really was that necessary Mari?’
‘You and I we never had the opportunity to have much needed sisterly bonding so to speak.’
‘With Holly,she’s perfectly harmless.But we can never get a word in edgeways.’ I laughed.
‘Today,I’m going to make you look as pretty as a picture.’
‘You think a hundred strokes and curls will change me back to the girl.I once were.Repair the inner damage and doubt on my mind.’
‘Please for heaven sake Gisele,allow me in.’
‘I have so many questions.So little time?’
‘I’m here,I am not about to judge you?’
‘Do you think I’m doing the right thing?’
‘Isn’t it a tad too late to be backing out on your nuptials Gisele? Lord Henry will be preparing herself to greet his bride.’
‘I know.’
‘You know you can tell me?’
‘Promise me one thing Marianna,and I want nothing but honesty from you.’
‘Cross my heart.’
‘Strip away at my character if you so please? It’s nothing I haven’t heard before.Tell me what do you truly think of Lord Henry?’
‘I must admit I took a sudden dislike to you taking all of your moral and judgement away?’
‘I knew it.’
‘After all you detested him,you said so yourself? Stealing you away from Oliver when you had the future of New Dawn Estate?’
‘Bricks and stones weren’t going to save us.I had to had to let it happen.You must understand Lord Henry,he didn’t do all of the pursuing? I played my part as the femme fatale in the stables.’
‘Please sister,spare me the details,Lord Henry he was a chancer?’
‘A thief who stole my heart.You want the truth,then I shall tell you.This may not be the answers that you’re not longing to hear.Please do not hate me…I was miserable with Oliver.’
‘No I shall not believe it,I saw with my own two eyes you loved him.’
‘I was fond of him,the truth is I forced myself into believing I could love him.Truth is I never did.’
‘Well why marry him then?’
‘I honestly didn’t think the right gentleman would ever catch my eye.I married Lord Rickman,settled for second best to please Mama,to avoid being disowned.I was always a disappointment to the Delessops.I wanted Mama to be proud of me,for once in her life.’
‘Oh Gisele,do you honestly believe Lady Antoinette would have cut you off?’
‘She was your Mama,she loved you.Despite everything you still remain her daughter.Surely that means nothing?’
‘It never felt like love.Love from Lady Antoinette felt so false and untrue.I felt more love and tenderness from my nannys.When they held me.Mama looked to me as though I wasn’t meant to be here.A terrible accident,she was afraid to get rid of for it was frowned upon.Her little put downs,I always felt inferior to you and Letitia.I mean look at you,elegant and graceful.At balls we stand alongside one another I was referred to as beautiful,but a clut of a daughter.Heaven knows how I charm gentlemen with my dancing? I have two left feet.’
‘I have watched you dance,you dance like a dream?’
‘I can be quite the actress,that wasn’t dancing that was only pretending.’
‘Oh I beg to differ.’
‘Happy in your marriage to Sir Edward?’
‘Gisele Tara Anastacia you aught to be ashamed of yourself?’
‘I shall ignore those remarks,sometimes you don’t do yourself any favours.If you told me of this before.You could have avoided feeling lonely and isolating yourself from the world.You’re a beautiful person,unique no one can take that away from you.Don’t you ever let any tell you that…Why do you refuse to listen to reason.You’re my spritely sister.Ever stubborn,but…always knowing you’re own mind.As for being a disappointment? You’d never be that to me.It’s up to you to make your mark you’re footprints upon the sand.Make a difference,As for the subject of my darling Edward and I…I know happy marriage it may appear on the outside.I know I don’t speak much of it much as I’m a private person.Lonely being married to a soldier,I long for the day to arrive where I’m no longer living in Mama’s power.I crave for the independence in my marriage.But I can not bare to return to cold and empty estate alone.Lay in my maritial bed.Dream that he would return to me.Live our last days together…I crave for the tenderness you have.Laying there night after night alone way to live.My dreams slowly dying fading away.How I’ve envied you for so long,so beautiful.A shining star,you’re a good girl.’
‘Stop,you’re making me blush.’
‘I look to Lord Henry now,and I what I’m missing out on.All of the goodness he’s brought to you.The little things,the way he casually brushes away you’re hair from your eyes.How he admires you from afar.Lord Henry he’s your perfect fit.’
‘The beat of my heart.’
‘He’s a good man.Is he the man you intend to have children with?’
‘We’ve discussed the matter.’
‘That’s settled Lord Henry’s your’e kindred spirit.’
‘Promise me you won’t fly away?’
‘I’m afraid to stay,but he’s captured this ever fleeting butterfly.’
‘Maybe it’s time to stop running?’
‘And voila.’
‘I daren’t look.’
‘Do you truly believe I’d make you look like some cheap courtesan on your wedding day?’
‘Trust me Gisele.Take my hand.’
‘I don’t think that is really necessary?’
‘Close your eyes.’
She took me towards the mirror.
‘Watch your step.’
‘Marianna this is absurd.’
‘Open them.’
I should have trusted Marianna,I slowly opened my eyes and I couldn’t believe what was staring right back at me.Mirror Mirror on the wall,Gisele Delessop was on this occasion the fairest of them all.Why she has made me look like a vision of beauty.I’m so overwhelmed at the transformation.To Marianna’s relief I was lost for words.She’s did a grande job concealing my imperfections.My hair carefully pinned into place.Each curl taken individual care over.I can not believe she has made me look so serene.
‘Don’t you like it?’
‘I am lost for words.’
‘Why you could almost pass as a virginal bride?’
I blushed a little. ‘Thank you for your kindness Mari.’
‘Maybe it won’t be in a church with the heavenly choir singing and all of the trimmings.You’ve experienced that and have the scars to prove it.
‘I don’t deserve a second chance…not really.Lord Benjamin idolises over me as though I’m Helen of Troy.She was strikingly beautiful.Initially I referred to him as my play thing there was no intimacy involved not really,I used him in order to get a moment of pleasure something Lord Rickman was reluctant to offer me.I felt so ashamed for using him in that kind of way.’
‘What’s changed is you love him now?’
‘I never intended to at first,I on the other hand,I’m nothing special.Truth is,I wanted to marry Benjamin in secrecy.’
‘Mama would have forbidden it.You’re far more beautiful than Helen of Troy.’
‘You’re my sister,you’re meant to say that.’
‘I admire you’re boldness to say whatever’s on your’e mind…don’t you ever change for the sake of a gentleman.Every girl deserves to be loved and be a princess for just for one day Gisele.Every minute with Benjamin is precious,make every second count.You may never know when he may take his dying breathe.’
‘Don’t you think that thought has never occured to me? When Carl died,I died a thousand a deaths that night.Without Lord Henry,scares me so.When my darling Ben is taken away from me.Like Juliet I shall be unable to live without my Romeo.’
‘But he poisoned himself because he thought he was already dead?’
‘It was only a sleeping potion,to avoid marrying Paris.I feel it’s awfully romantic Romeo attending the same tomb her cousin Tybalt remained.He laid next to her,kissed her beautiful sweet lips,touched her pale skin.Juliet,she plunged the dagger into her heart.’
‘Isn’t that a bit harsh?’
‘It symbolises true love.I shall do the same.’
‘What of your children? What will they say when they discover their Mama has carried out an act of suicide to avoid being left alone in the world?’
‘Es and Ava won’t always need me,they will grow up and leave their Mama.I study their faces,and their changing every single day.Neither of them are no longer babies,their discovering their sense of independence.I’m scared when the time arrives when they stand before their dear old Mama,look into my eye and say Mama I have found someone who wishes to marry us.We no longer need you to fulfil your duties as a Mama any more.’
‘They’d never do that.’
‘How can you know that for you? There was a time when I felt the same of my Mama.I was so cocky,so sure that I was going to marry Carl and no one would come between us.I was fifteen for heaven sake.Benjamin and I are star crossed lovers,I can not imagine living my life without him.’
‘We shall speak no more of this morbid talk.’
‘Pardon me,for speaking what’s on my mind?’

How dare Marianna try to manipulate my feelings.Why she is no better than Mama,I only speak of what is true.If Lord Henry died,I dread to think of this.But I shall kiss my dead lovers hand then upon his lips.Hold him so close,then I shall plunge the dagger into my heart and watch the life drain from my body.Benjamin is my life,I can not imagine my life without him.Just in time,Evangaline peeked her head around the corner.
‘Is it safe to come in because,we have toast tea.Jam honey,cream and scones.’
‘Scones for breakfast?’
‘A feast fit for a queen.’ continued Evangaline.
‘Anything else Lady Evangaline?’
‘…and there are two Princess’s awaiting in the wings to greet their Mama.’
Ava and Esme ran in to see me.I reached out to grasp them in my arms.
‘Watch your hair.’ replied Marianna.
I noticed that the pair of them had a garland of daisies in their hair,and already wearing their flower dresses on.
‘Mama we have a chain we would like you to wear.’ said Ava.
‘Oh my darlings,it is beautiful.Is it a necklace?’
‘It’s a band for your foot.’ said Esme. ‘In case you fall over.’
Evangaline looked at Esme and Ava’s dresses. ‘I’m ever so sorry,they insisted upon wearing them.’
‘As long as they don’t get jam upon them?’ I smiled.
I placed the daisy chain upon my ankle,taking care ensuring that the stem that held it together didn’t snap.It was such a sweet gesture to do for their dear old Mama,they do care for me after all.
‘Don’t you like it Mama?’ asked Esme.
‘Thank you girls.It is awfully sweet of you.Thank you ever so much for my gift.I am so lucky to have you two.’
I kissed them upon their cheeks. ‘Let’s hope your good luck charm works and your Mama won’t trip down the aisle.’
Ava started to touch my tiara.’Mama! You look like a fairy princess?’ beamed Ava.
‘Ava,Mama hasn’t got her dress on yet?’
‘You look pretty.’ said Esme.
‘Is it because I’m wearing a crown? It’s called a tiara.’
‘Will we be having some unicorns today?’
‘Misty and Quinn have gone.’ I sobbed.
‘Why?’ asked Ava.
‘Well when we moved away….your father felt as though he couldn’t look after them.’
‘We were coming back for them?’ asked Ava. ‘I miss Misty.’
‘I know my darlings,when we are in our new house in Italy I promise that your Papa and I will get you some new unicorns,and you shall love them as much as Misty and Quinn.I give you my word.Mama was sad when she lost Cossack,but I have you girls to take care of me.Everything will be all right.’ I soothed them.
They miss their Unicorns so much,and I shall never forgive Lord Rickman selling them,he knew how much Misty and Quinn meant to them.The way they would brush their hair and insist upon them wearing feathers in their hair and bonnets upon their head.Putting on their own private horse show,I had to buy tickets to have the honour of seeing them.Part of me does miss riding too.All of the rich italian cuisine has did my figure no favours what so ever.Esme and Ava looked ever so precious in their beautiful pink dresses and satin bonnets.I can not wait to witness the day they marry their true loves.They ran around the room rather excitedly,I shall bottle this memory up and treasure it always.
‘Careful Ava! Mind the lampstand! It’s a precious antique of your Gran’Mama’s one of a kind!’ I shouted.
My,their like exciteable puppies today?’ said Evangaline.
‘I wonder who they take after?’ said Letitia.
‘What’s the matter my dear?’ asked Marianna.
‘How I wish Papa was here to witness this beautiful scene,see how happy I am.’
‘Please don’t cry Gis.’ said Letitia.
‘No do not cry,you do not want you make up to flake.’ said Holly.
‘Holly you’re all heart.’ said Evangaline.
‘I fear that once I’m married and have returned to Italy.I may never see you again?’
‘Remember the Delessop’s code.We shall write whenever you can,and I know you shall too? Visit your beautiful new estate and you promised Holly a masquerade ball all of those years ago?’
‘Yes that you did and Louisa ended up going instead?’
‘Only because Oliver’s sister lived with us at the time.’
‘If it ever gets too much Gisele suffocating,don’t you ever feel as though you’re alone in the world.’
‘Girls I would be so lost without you.’ I sobbed.
‘My sentiments exactly.’said Marianna.
Sophia and Reinette,entered the room they looked heavenly in their pale pink coloured dresses.
‘You’re not dressed yet?’ asked Sophia.
‘Shame on you,it’ll be instant beheading.’ teased Reinette.
‘Isn’t Daniel a little late in the day trying to rescue Gisele?’ said Holly.
‘Ignore Holly,and that beheading remark didn’t help either.Tell Daniel that Gisele is indeed of a moment or two alone.For she’s experiencing a minor case of the jitters.She will be ready.’
‘Thank you Letitia,I can speak for myself.Where is Tom Carl and Daniel I long to see them.’
‘Gisele sweetheart,Carl is dead.’

Of course I knew that Carl was dead,but a part of me was hoping longing and preying that he would burst into my bedchamber,declare his love for me then we would seal our love intimately.He should be here,soothing me ensuring that I don’t run.Showering me with lavish gifts.Kissing my hand,offering reassurance.How I miss my beautiful sweet calming influence.
Lord Henry was in the east side of the house.Yes I know what you must be thinking,a bride and gentleman in the same vaccinity so unheard of.Why it must be bad luck? Well Benjamin and I have had our fair share of misfortune.So none of that will get in our way.Daniel and Tom were preparing my Lord offering words of wisdom,to calm his nerves.
‘You have the rings Tom?’
‘Everything is in hand.’
‘What of Gisele?’
‘The Lady Delessop is in the safe hands of her sisters and our wives.Ensuring you’re bride is a vision of beauty.’
‘And what of Louisa?’
‘Rest assured Louisa has promised she shall be on her best behaviour.’smiled Tom.
‘Promise me one thing Benjamin…..Lord Henry the fair Lady Gisele and I are close friends.I reguard her as a sister.But there a time before dear Sophia I felt that I would take her for a wife…standing here on our wedding day with my dear friends Tom and Carl,god rest his soul.’
‘I always thought she would marry Carl?’ asked Lord Henry.
‘I proposed to her the night of her twenty first birthday,I was ever so fond of her.I grew to hope she would love me in turn but she turned me down flat.It took a while to get over it,but I didn’t hold it against her.She may appear to be a strong vibrant thing,but truth is…she is a complicated creature a fragile delicate soul.State your intentions,do you truly love her?’
‘What is this?’
‘Answer the question Lord Henry,because if this day is a joke and merely to satisfy you’re urges? Then let me tell you,Gisele is ever so precious to me.If you ever hurt her,I will break you.Leave her and I it will kill her.’
‘Is this the father of the bride speech?’
‘I mean it Lord Henry.’
‘Now let’s not be too heavy Daniel.’
‘You destroyed the Lady Louisa,you was perfect as Rosaline herself and like Romeo you used her.Who’s to say you won’t do the same.’
‘I love Gisele,rest assured my word is my bond.’
‘Good man,you have my approval.Welcome to the family old chap.’

Before I had the opportunity to even consider changing into my wedding gown.I was summoned in to see Lady Antoinette.Maybe she wished to toast my future happiness with a flute of champagne.
‘Letitia said you wished to see me?’
Lady Antoinette reluctantly passed me a champagne glass.
‘Why aren’t you dressed?’
This is not how I pictured this meeting,why I imagined Lady Antoinette saying how proud you were that I’ve finally come of age into society.That she was sit me down offering advice in how I aught to assert myself and not hiding in society.
‘I…’ I casually took a sip of my champagne.Bitter in taste compared to the sweet aroma my palette has grown accustomed too.
‘Don’t slouch child.For heaven sake,what if Lord Henry saw you in your undergarments?’
I was tempted to say it’s nothing he hasn’t already seen before? After all I’m no longer the virginal lady you try to portray me in society.Maybe if I had met Lord Henry first,then I may have found my inner power to save myself for my wedding night.
‘Letitia sounded urgent in her voice? I didn’t have time to dress.’
‘There’s never been a rush within you.Even as a child you’ve reluctantly to dress.Why I recall you being under protest with your nanny Rose,when she was trying to get you into wearing pigtails and your beautiful blue petticoat for Aunt Grace’s recital.’
‘I was seven and you know I detested blue.Did you summon me in here for a reason? Or merely to pick fault with my character?’
‘Since your Papa is no longer here with us.I feel it is my duty as your next of kin, to give you some much needed friendly words of advice.’
‘Oh must you Mama? I am frightfully busy….I don’t have the time nor the patience as after all it is my wedding day.’
‘Gisele Tara Anastacia,I realise from a young age you’ve had to prove you’re worth in order to please me and quite so too.Do you love Lord Henry?’
‘Mama you know I do.’
‘Or is a scheme of yours to make Lord Henry jealous?’
‘How shallow do you truly think I am?’
‘When I first met Lord Henry I took a sudden dislike to him.I mean tell me what has he got that Lord Rickman hasn’t? Oliver was loyal steadfast,a good heart he adored you Gisele.’
‘He was barely there for me.’
‘He went to war to declare his love for you.Lord Henry no sooner had the ring upon Lady Rickman’s finger and his maritial bed barely warm,when he was over you.He looked to you as though you’re his lowly servant.Having to obey his every command he had a hold over you and you were too blind to see it? Mooning over him like a love sick puppy.Didn’t you learn nothing whilst you with Earl Merrels?’
‘I’ve heard quite enough for one day,goodbye Mama.’
‘Lady Antoinette I think you’ve said quite enough.’
‘You never gave me the opportunity to finish my speech? I hate to admit it Gisele,I look to him now and see all of the qualities that first caught you’re eye.Sweet,calm,gentle in nature.Why he has tamed you? Noble as she has stood by you.Acting the doting father towards Esme and Ava.Do not waste this opportunity Gisele.’
‘Is this your way of giving me your blessing Mama?’
She embraced me. ‘Gisele,I have a small gift I wish to give to you.They belonged to your Gran’Mama Reinette.’
‘Are they?’
‘Yes Diamonds,rare diamond necklace.’
‘I can not accept them.’
‘Your Gran’Mama Reinette left them in her will,and I vowed I’d leave those to my petit Gisele.’
‘There extremely beautiful.’ I clutched onto the necklace,they felt extremely heavy.But shone bright as I held them towards the light. ‘May I?’
‘Of course my precious.’
She placed the necklace,fastening the clasps it felt heavy clutched around my neck at first.Shackles ever bounding my heart.It was overwhelming is this Mama’s own unique way of declaring her love for me.It’s taken her twenty five words to reach this point and she’s still a coward to say the words I love you.I don’t understand why didn’t she give the diamonds to a daughter far more deserving like the fair Evangaline.
‘Protect them like Lord Henry protects your heart.’
‘Thank you Mama.’
It was a tender moment never to be repeated again,I shall revel in the moment.She gently kissed my cheek.Lady Antoinette held my hand ever so tightly.
‘Be happy Gisele.’
She gazed at the clock.
‘Oh look at the time.There isn’t time to stand around.Upstairs you must go and dress!’
‘I shall,I just need a moment or two alone.’
She left my side,I paused for reflection took one last look at my surroundings.This may be the last time I may set foot inside my childhood home.Lord knows when I shall ever return.

Deadly silence,as we eagerly awaited for the news.I count to five ever so slowly,soon I hear the cries from Mama’s bedchamber.Papa ran out with in his eyes.We all jump up in turn eager to know.
‘Whatever is it Papa?’ asked Marianna.
‘It’s a girl.’ he shouted out in glee.
‘Papa you’re trembling?’ whispered Letitia. ‘What of Mama?’
‘Mama is well….we have a beautiful healthy baby girl.All fingers and toes! Letitia fetch me my brandy and cigars,its a day for celebrating.

It was the day Lucille Catherine,Catherine was my Papa’s Mother’s name.I never met her but judging the pictures in the wall she looked so beautiful raven hair.So proud.Lucille Catherine was brought into the world,it was raining that very evening.Lord William he may not have longed for heir,as he was outnumbered by us.Ever surrounded by Delessop ladies.But he always looked so happy.I feel we all had a closer bond to our dear papa.He may appear stern at times,but he was a sweetheart.Would never harm a fly,I don’t know how he put up with our household what with our constant change of emotions,if one sister was living upon a cloud you would guarantee their would be another seeking solace in their piano playing.Hormones ever flying around the estate…he must have lost count of the number of times he spent in his study comforting one of his heartbroken girls.As yet another gentleman had selfishlessly thrown them over.
‘Patience,maybe he wasn’t the ideal gentleman worthy of my daughters hand.A little patience…’He would have the same speech down to perfection for each of his girls.But he never lost patience.I promised him that I would give him the much needed grandson and through William Tristan,I was blessed with this gift for that brief bittersweet moment.He had his wish,until I failed him.
As I leave the house,another chapter closes of my life.