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 grasp.it 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.’


One thought on “Chapter 16

  1. sophiebowns says:

    Ah it’s lovely to see that some of my readers are now following you & commenting on your work! 🙂
    Just one little thing I noticed –> Line 12= “saw” should be “seen”
    This is my favourite book of yours so far.

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