‘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 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.’
‘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?’
‘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.’
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.’
‘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.