Chapter 10

Screenshot-106“All I’m saying is that it is frightfully unfair and frightfully improper for you to be wearing the Countess’ clothing.”

Marielle Harrington berated her governess from within the temporary boudoir.

Screenshot-112Estelle flushed. “I did not ask to wear her clothing!”

It was bizarre, surreal and… slightly ridiculous that the Countess had even offered. Governesses did not share clothing with Countesses. One did not need to be a genius to know such a thing.

Screenshot-103Marielle gave Estelle’s dress a haughty once-over as she stood to accompany her to the dining room.

“Green is most definitely not your colour.”

Screenshot-104Estelle had thought that the dress was beautiful and that the shade of green was a perfect match for her eyes.

Self-consciously she began to think that perhaps she had been wrong. Marielle had always had a keen eye for style. No doubt, the heiress knew a fashion faux pas when she saw one.

Screenshot-2Marielle soon released her arm as soon as they entered the dining hall, obviously not wishing to be seen with such an unfashionable companion.

Screenshot-3And so, once again, Estelle was left to drift and wander and stand completely alone, as she did every party, every dinner.

She leaned against the cabinet, trying to look as conspicuous as possible.

Screenshot-4She began to spot faces she recognised in the crowd. Her eyes were immediately drawn to Millerna Landgraab, a woman she knew to be shallow and calculating, but stunningly beautiful and elegant, as if to balance out such hideous attributes.

Screenshot-6Estelle remained feeling awkward and rather lost when her eyes caught sight of somebody else she recognised.

Count Landgraab was standing not ten feet away and seemed to be…

Screenshot-8Well…

…he seemed to be staring straight at her.

Screenshot-13She blinked a few times, looking behind her to ensure it was, in fact, she he was studying so intently, before turning back in his direction.

Screenshot-16“Why, I don’t believe we’ve been introduced.”

The governess fought the urge to scream in surprise. She turned to see Count Landgraab there, his mouth curving boyishly at her reaction.

Screenshot-23“I did not intend to give you a heart attack, my good Lady, but I simply could not stop myself from coming over here to talk to you.”

Screenshot-15He took her gloved hand gently with his own, bringing it to his lips.

“You are quite the most beautiful woman in the room.”

Estelle blushed furiously as he placed his cool lips upon the silk.

Screenshot-37“Y-you’re… Lord Landgraab…” she stuttered.

He released her hand and straightened to look at her. His smile was quite disarming.

“Call me Charles.”

Screenshot-38At that moment, the doors on the other side of the hall opened. The Countess entered, a vision of beauty in an expertly tailored gown of silk. She smiled at her visitors.

“Friends: let not the damp weather dampen our spirits this fine evening. Let us eat!”

Screenshot-21Estelle looked to Charles. She swallowed, feeling very uncomfortable.

“I… Shouldn’t you be finding a lady to escort?”

Screenshot-35He smiled again, holding his arm out.

“I think I’ve already found one.”

Screenshot-24Estelle’s hands gripped at her dress (or, rather, the dress she wore) awkwardly.

She could not possibly be seen to be so familiar with Charles Landgraab; the gossip would be inescapable. What is more, she could hardly associate with the closest friend of the man she despised….

Screenshot-25Her gaze drifted over to her charge, where she was fraternising with other eligible young ladies.

No, she would not do such a thing to Marielle! For her governess to be escorted by a Lord of such high standing in place of her… why, she would be the laughing stock of the ton for weeks!

Screenshot-32“Would you… Would you excuse me, my Lord?”

Estelle stammered.

“…I, I appear to have lost my appetite.”

Screenshot-53She moved away from him hastily, not waiting for a response. Without looking back, she walked briskly down one of the hallways that led away from the foyer, looking for a room to sit in quietly as she waited for Marielle.

Screenshot-46After five minutes of meandering further and further away from the dining room, she walked past a small doorway. She poked her head round the doorframe, inside of which she spotted a pianoforte.

A piano… the perfect way to pass the time. Desperately, she hoped it was empty.

Screenshot-44“Uh…H-Hello?”

No movement or sound.

Perfect.

Screenshot-8Vaughn’s hand dragged across the piano key gracelessly. He’d drunk far too much of it to make an appearance at dinner. His hair was mussed and his coat lay discarded… somewhere.

Screenshot-16He sighed and excused himself to the sofa. He’d also drunk far too much to play. Soon, only the familiar beat of the rain on the windows accompanied the relentless direction of his thoughts.

Screenshot-28Why had she come here? Couldn’t she have sent someone else with the Harrington girl? Surely something could have been arranged.  Anything that would have meant avoiding seeing him again.

Didn’t she think him a cad? Incapable of love? A mindless, selfish coward?

Screenshot-9Never mind though, he told himself. He hadn’t acknowledged her since her arrival that afternoon and had absolutely no intention of doing so in the near future.

The plain fact was: he had nothing to say to her. He wanted nothing to do with the stubborn chit, even if it meant his plan to avoid matrimony was foiled beyond repair.

screenshot-722She was far too obstinate and opinionated for a toy. It did not matter that he had enjoyed their innocent tryst more than he was willing to admit. It did not matter that part of him still wanted to seduce her, just to feel her fall apart in his arms, to watch her surrender – submit to him.

Screenshot-23Uh… H-Hello?

At the light, hesitant voice, Vaughn froze. He remained still, silent. Straight away, he knew who it was.

His failed conquest.

Screenshot-29Before he had thought of a suitably half-hearted reaction, he heard her enter the room. He listened as her quiet, timid footsteps immediately approach where the pianoforte lay.

Several, lonely notes were drawn into the air as the governess tested the weight of the keys beneath her fingers.

Screenshot-17Vaughn suppressed the urge to sigh. He should probably have signalled his presence long before now.

What was stopping him?

He honestly didn’t know.

screenshot-251Perhaps the memory of how they had last parted was inducing him to let her be.

He had been so filled with despair as his past had been dragged unceremoniously before him by her angry words; all he had been capable of doing at the time was telling her to leave in one, swift syllable.

Screenshot-22The opening of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata reached his ears, soft and slow. He listened as the notes rose and fell with crescendos and sombre diminuendos of poignant eloquence. She slowed a bit too often for his liking, and when it came to the first loud set of bars, she played them far too timidly.

Screenshot-19He felt a sudden urge to alert her of such sloppiness, but promptly remembered his unwillingness to speak to her again.

He grew frustated with her playing (afterall, one cannot afford to be cautious when it comes to Beethoven). Without thinking, he expelled a heavy breath.

Screenshot-31The playing stopped immediately, and the stool scraped upon the wooden flooring as it was pushed back, its occupant obviously standing up in haste. Vaughn suppressed the urge to curse.

“Wh-Who’s there?”

Screenshot-35Vaughn sighed again tiredly before slowly rising to his feet. He was impressively steady on them, given his swimming head.

“Good evening, my Lady. Have we met?”

Screenshot-2In a fairly perverse manner, he relished the stunned look of dread that claimed her features in the firelight as she saw him, darkly amused by his affect on her.

“W-what are you doing here?”

Screenshot-34

He smirked.

“I live here.”

Screenshot-17The governess frowned at his childishness.

“Yes, I am aware of that. I meant to enquire as to why you were not dining with your guests.”

Screenshot-66Vaughn blinked past the fuzziness in his brain when he realised she was not wearing the rags he had seen her drenched in earlier. No indeed, she looked… lovely. The dresses’ colour seemed to make her sharp eyes bright, even in the darkness of the room.

Either that or he had drunk far more than he’d formerly thought…

Screenshot-58“What a pity we’ve stumbled upon each other, Miss Murphy. I’m sure you’ll agree with me when I admit I was hoping to avoid talking to you at all for the next three days.”

Screenshot-15The governess looked up, frowning slightly at the thinly veiled insult.

“Why don’t you leave then?”

Screenshot-11He had expected her to be more timid with him…. He had expected himself to be far more angry and cutting with her after her previous behaviour. Perhaps it was that ridicule came to him more naturally than resentment…

Vaughn lost footing suddenly and stumbled before her.

Screenshot-21Realisation suddenly dawned on the governess.

“You’re drunk!”

Screenshot-13Vaughn chuckled. “You are not surprised, Miss Murphy?”

“I am not surprised in the slightest!”

Screenshot-60Her hostility fuelled his need to hurt her in some cruel verbal form, but he found his mind too clogged, too heavy to form the acerbic, spiteful words on which he had existed for almost half a decade.

“Oh yes,” he said harshly, drunk. “You know me so well. I had momentarily forgotten.”

Screenshot-10He watched her feign bewilderment, even after he had seen the flash of comprehension in her eyes.

“I don’t understand what you—”

Screenshot-36The dormant rage inside him uncoiled for reasons he refused to name.

“Oh, but you do understand,” he said darkly.

Screenshot-64He closed the space between them, grabbing onto her wrists and restraining her when she tried to back away.

Screenshot-29“You understand me perfectly, remember? You’ve got me all worked out. All worked out like your own calculated little life.”

“G-get off me—!”

“Oh, but I can’t. I’m selfish like that, selfish and arrogant and, what was the other one? Oh yes, untrustworthy.”

Screenshot-95“What are—” she winced. “You are drunk, sir, I—”

“Don’t ‘Sir’ me – Christ! Would you not say that we’ve known each other enough over the past months to for-go titles?! Just admit that you hate me!”

Screenshot-114When her cheeks coloured slightly at his question, he was suddenly overcome by the urge to kiss her again. He did not know why, but he needed her to respond to him, to do something, scream at him, hit him, kiss him back.

Anything.

Screenshot-44“Please…” She begged quietly, “Please, Vaughn.”

The long-awaited sound of his name on her lips seemed to cause something inside of him to break.

He drew closer to her.

Screenshot-6He kissed her. He kissed her because he was tired of trying not to, because he was angry and confused. He told himself he did not want her, but in truth he had wanted her since the moment he’d first touched her, all those weeks ago in some dandy’s townhouse.

screenshot-186She had been so innocent, so untutored, so… different to every other woman he had ever known that he’d found himself drawn to her, again and again.

Screenshot-42Her hands gradually settled on the shirt at his waist, light and unsure, and he responded with a breathy moan of appreciation. Somehow, her obvious inexperience made this all the more thrilling.

Screenshot-96He kissed her again, and this time it was punishing, hard and unrelenting, an attack on her senses. She arched into him as he brought her closer still. A part of him wished she would push him away. But she did not.

This is wrong. This is wrong.

And yet her body felt so perfect against his that he could not deny himself.

Screenshot-39She made a noise of distress as he pushed her against the piano.

Her voice was breathless. “Y-you don’t want this.”

In truth, he didn’t know what he wanted. He had ceased to know all those years ago… but what he wanted and what his body was demanding were two very different things…

God be damned if I am to be denied both!

Screenshot-45He was mindless, possessed. He could feel the heat of her through the thin layer of silk that covered her skin, how the fabric bunched and wrinkled under the onslaught of his roaming fingertips.

He said her name between kisses, relishing the way she sought his lips after every intake of breath. His—

A few yards away, the door opened.

Screenshot-94It took Vaughn every inch of his willpower to tear his mouth away from hers, but he managed to, and turned towards the door. Estelle scrabbled from him, hiding her face from the intruder.

Screenshot-32Van blinked blearily at Charles, who stood in the open doorway, looking distinctly unimpressed.

“I was just coming to check on Miss Murphy.”

Screenshot-80Vaughn turned away, annoyed.

“She’s fine.”

“Yes, well, your sobriety fills me with conviction.” Charles drawled, dryly.

Screenshot-77“Miss Murphy, would you like me to escort you to the parlour? I believe there is to be a game of cards after dinner if you would care to—”

“N-no, thank you, I… think I will go to bed.”

She rushed so briskly from the room that it was a wonder she didn’t put the fire out.

Screenshot-89After a moment, Charles sighed glaring at his friend.

“You really are the worst kind of man, aren’t you?”

Screenshot-100“I’m drunk,” Vaughn muttered. “Go away.”

“Do you have any idea how spineless you are?! After you told me you had finished toying with her, that she was nothing to you, you go and ruin her just because you are bitter at being beaten!”

Screenshot-99“I never thought I’d see you sink this low, Afonsine.”

“This doesn’t concern you!” Vaughn snarled. “And when did you get so protective of her?! Or of any woman for that matter?!”

Screenshot-82Charles’ intimidating scowl deepened.

“She’s done nothing to deserve this, Vaughn. Nothing.”

Screenshot-78Vaughn’s lips curled into a mirthless smile.

“Oh, fancy her, do you?”

Screenshot-84Charles scoffed. “How very mature of you, Vaughn.”

“I say we should get to the heart of this now, don’t you?” He leaned forward. “I say, we put our cards on the table, so to speak.”

“Vaughn, stop it, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

Screenshot-98Vaughn reached around the desk, wrapping an arm around his friend’s shoulder.

“Oh no, no. If you want her, you’re more than welcome to her, Charles. But,” he added with gleeful malice, “I believe you’ll have a hard time trying to explain to your father why a mere chaperone is fit for the role of a Duchess.”

Screenshot-79Charles glared at him in what Vaughn easily recognised as the deepest of disdain. His voice was low and insipid when he next spoke:

“Go to bed, Vaughn.”

“Go to hell!”

Screenshot-58Long after Charles had vacated the room, Vaughn lingered on and wondered, as he often did at moments like these:

Were they truly friends, or simply men who found comfort in the other’s hopelessness?

Screenshot-168Unbekown to him, a spectator watched as the Viscount prowled the length of the room, restlessly for most of the night, having seen everything that had transpired that evening.

Screenshot-169Lady Millerna’s pale, grey eyes dampened into a darker, emptier hue.

They were vacant.

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4 responses to “Chapter 10

  • Beth :)

    Ohh, Vaugn is so horrid! Estelle should forget about him and eventually marry Charles instead as he seems much nicer. Marielle is being horrible and bitter as Estelle looked beautiful in the Countesses dress. Lady Millerna is definatly up to something. -_- Really good chapter! 😀

  • Becki

    Isn’t he just?! But seriously, you must be a mind reader, because the whole Charles-thing-I-got-goin’-on is going to play a huge role in the dynamics of the Vaughn-Estelle relationship from now on…

    Millerna definitely has her own agenda…

  • LilyParker

    Just posted about your story on my sims page. A couple friends are heading over to check it out. This is a page-turner! Sharing is caring. 😛

  • bethysims

    Oooh! Now I’m very intrigued for the next chapter 😮

    I can’t decide whether if I would like Lord Vaughn or not if I was Estelle. Hmmm decisions, decisions…

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