Chapter 11

Screenshot-13Estellise!

You left me all alone at dinner last night – where on Earth did you go to? I looked a frightful fool, waiting around for my chaperone!”

Screenshot-34“I apologise. I… went to bed, my lady.”

Estelle answered as offhandedly as she could. Technically it was the truth… sort of.

“I had the most awful migraine.”

Screenshot-14Some of Marielle’s irritation seemed to seep out of her. “Well, you should have told me… I can only hope you feel healthy this morning?”

“Quite healthy, thank you.”

“I hear that there is to be a ride later.” Marielle smiled brightly.

“Really? I hear that there is to be a storm…”

Screenshot-32“Then we’ll just have to ride in the rain, won’t we?”

The familiar voice came from the doorway. Estelle did not need to turn to see who it was.

Screenshot-42Marielle stood up at once, even though it was rather improper for her to do so. She curtsied clumsily.

“M-my Lord! Good morning; I trust you slept well?”

“Terribly, thank you.”

“Er… terribly well or just terribly?”

Screenshot-40“Just terribly.”

His eyes moved from Marielle’s to catch Estelle’s own across the room.

She looked away immediately, trying not to appear awkward or blush.

Screenshot-49“My goodness, Estellise!” Marielle chirped. “You look dreadfully flushed. Are you quite alright?”

Estelle swore inwardly, her prior fondness for the girl melting in an instant. Damn her inability to do anything with subtlety!

“I… think I need to take some air briefly. Do excuse me.”

Screenshot-143It was then that Charles spoke up for the first time since entering the room.

“Let me accompany you to the terrace, Miss Murphy.”

“Don’t worry, Landgraab,” the Viscount smirked. “I’ll take her.”

Screenshot-149No!” Estelle gasped.

She stared in horror at the offered appendage.

“I-I mean, that is quite alright, my Lord. I’m perfectly—”

Screenshot-155When she quickly glanced at Charles, his expression was convincingly impassive.

Marielle was staring wide-eyed at the exchange.

Screenshot-154Estelle’s eyes snapped back to Vaughn. His lips flaunted the most teasing, arrogant, unsufferable smirk she had ever seen depicted on that face.

“No, really. I insist.”

Screenshot-152And that was that. She couldn’t refuse him now; not in front of Marielle. The debutante would begin to suspect… something. Well, perhaps not, she was hardly the sharpest pencil in the box – but it was hardly wise to risk such a thing.

God, how she hated him.

Screenshot-37She took the arm Vaughn had proffered, ignoring the awkwardness, and left the room. When they were a few safe metres into the hallway, Estelle could hold her silence no longer.

What are you doing?

Screenshot-60He came to a halt a few steps in front of her when he realised she’d stopped.

“I’m taking you out to the garden for some… fresh air, was it?”

Screenshot-54“I mean, what do you want?” She seethed. “Why didn’t you let Lord Landgraab take me?”

Vaughn frowned slightly. “I wanted to talk to you.”

Screenshot-52Estelle jabbed an irritated finger between them.

“I think that you and I have said all that there possibly is to say!”

Screenshot-2In the gardens the breeze felt wonderful on her skin. Even if the sky was cloudy, at least it had stopped raining.

Estelle wished she was alone. She wished she didn’t feel so self-conscious with him, wished she could stop re-living what she had done with him the night before and on seemingly countless other occasions. She felt so embarrassed at her own lack of restraint…

Screenshot-6When Vaughn turned to her, his hair looked wild, untamed in the wind, and his face was as serious as she had ever seen it.

“I… wanted to apologise for my behaviour last night.”

What?

Screenshot-15“I’m sorry. I was drunk and angry and I didn’t mean to frighten you. I—”

He released a ragged sigh.

“—I was just thinking about… everything and… I was worked up. You caught me at the worst possible moment.”

Screenshot-71“You’re… apologising to me?”

Estelle asked, doubtfully.

“You’re apologising to me?”

Screenshot-109But… why? This was the man who had tricked her and played with her mind, treated her as if she was inferior and insulted her every turn he got.

There must be an ulterior motive. She simply would not believe he’d experienced a change of character overnight!

Screenshot-17“You see, I just realised what an ass I’d been.”

Vaughn sighed.

“That kiss last night was a mistake, and it was my fault.”

Screenshot-12“Well… what about all the other kisses?”

She regretted the question the second she’d raised it. She damned her own curiosity.

Screenshot-68Something indecipherable seemed to pass between them. Estelle didn’t like it. It made her feel weak, both physically and mentally.

Vaughn smiled his cat-like smile.

“Naturally this includes those.”

Screenshot-74He’s arrogant, she told herself. He’s arrogant and calculating and no-good.

Estelle was sure there was some sort of trickery involved. Even so, a little piece of herself believed every word he said. Or at least, she found herself wanting to believe every word.

Screenshot-11Vaughn cleared his throat. “So… Do you accept?”

“Accept what?”

“My apology, sweet.”

Screenshot-104She ignored the endearment, along with the rush of foreboding that came along with it. He had been honest with her. He had actually been self-deprecating, something she would never have expected from any member of the aristocracy.

Really, she didn’t have a choice in the matter. Her conscience had decided for her.

Screenshot-102“I …”

She blushed, trying not to think about other uses for the words she was about to say.

“I do.”

“Good.” Vaughn smiled.

Screenshot-61She smiled back. Why, Vaughn was acting the perfect gentlemen. They had never before been so cordial and it was… it was nice.

Maybe the Viscount was not the most cold-hearted person in the entire world, was not the-

Screenshot-101“Now that is all cleared up, I have a favour to ask of you.”

-biggest horror in the history of the universe!

“I want your permission to court Marielle Harrington.”

Screenshot-108Immediately, everything he had said to her, asked of her in the last ten minutes fell into place. And every evil trait of his that she had tried to deny came back doubly as conniving and coarse.

“Excuse me?”

Screenshot-110“Well, since we’ve come to an understanding, and her parents are out of the country, you’re the only one I can—”

“How dare you…”

Screenshot-66He looked at her quizzically, as if she had gone out of her mind. She must be mad to have even considered his premeditated, forged apology.

“How dare I what?”

Screenshot-47“You think that just because you pretend to apologise for all the ridiculousness you’ve forced on me and give you my blessing?! After everything you’ve done!”

“Who said I was pretending?”

“Oh, pull the other one!”

Screenshot-24Vaughn relinquished his façade of virtue in an instant, shrugging carelessly.

“Well at least I tried. You would never have agreed if I hadn’t even tried.”

Screenshot-25“I would never have agreed! Full stop! You are the last person on Earth I would let anywhere near her!”

“Strange,” He countered, “Seeing as you brought her to my bloody house party.”

Screenshot-43“Oh yes, that was very smart! And what was I supposed to do? Tell her about everything so she would dismiss me out onto the street and be free for your practiced seduction?!”

“Well, it wouldn’t have been a bad start….”

Stop it!! For Christ’s sake grow up!”

Screenshot-31She whirled and stomped back towards the house.

“Yes, and stomping away from me is, of course, very mature.” Vaughn shouted after her, over the wind.

Screenshot-45Breathing heavily, she stomped back towards him again.

“Yesterday you asked me to say that I hated you, do you remember? Well, I do hate you, Vaughn. I hate you more than any man, beast or thing I’ve ever hated in my entire life.

Screenshot-114“You are selfish and conceited, you have no regard for human feeling, your heart is stone! I practically told you as much a fortnight ago, but here are the words you long so much to hear….

Here are the short, self-destructive words that you will relish in your angry, bitter little world: I. hate. You.”

Screenshot-82The wind groaned and swayed, breathing in the trees and grass that surrounded them.

Screenshot-118“Miss Murphy, you are perhaps the rudest, most impossible woman I have ever had the displeasure of knowing. Now, aren’t you going to leave? Only, usually you run away because you’re scared of how I’ll retaliate… You insult me and then leave. It’s quite rude, really.”

Screenshot-133“You’re infuriating, you know that? You always assume you have the highest moral ground of anybody, when in fact it was you who came here, it was you who found me last night and it was you, madam, you who kissed me back.”

Screenshot-130Estelle swallowed.

“I-I did none of that out of choice!”

Vaughn laughed.

“No, of course you didn’t. It was I that forced your reciprecation.”

Screenshot-44God, how she hated him!

“Well then why did you even try to kiss me to begin with!?”

Screenshot-128“I did not ‘try’ to kiss you, I kissed you. It’s called attraction, Estelle. Lust, magnetism – call it what you will. It happens. You feel it, I feel it. Let’s not deny it any longer. I’m attracted to you and you’re attracted to me—”

Screenshot-139I most certainly am not!

Her indignant cry echoed through the vast gardens with horrifying clarity.

Screenshot-135Vaughn smirked. Estelle couldn’t stand the fact that he looked so beautiful at that moment. She cursed the angels who had carved that face in sin.

“Yesterday, when your body was arching into mine as I kissed you, just what did you want?”

Screenshot-116Estelle fought the urge to sway into him as a tingling warmth suffused its way up her arm and down through her body, to where it coiled somewhere low in her abdomen. She tried to remember where they were. What he was capable of.

“I didn’t… want anything. I… I wanted to get away from you.”

Screenshot-30His eyes darkened as they caught hers.

“Do you know what I think? I think you don’t understand what you want. I think it scares you. I think it’s scaring you right now.”

Screenshot-120“But it’s simple. What you feel now, sweetheart… that’s attraction. That’s lust.”

He watched her inhale unsteadily.

“Do you even recognise it?”

Screenshot-100Estelle swallowed thickly. Of course she recognised it. Every time she looked at this arrogant, conceited man standing in front of her, she felt it. Her stomach would tighten, her blood would heat. She may not like him, and she certainly didn’t love him.

But she wanted him.

screenshot-451She wanted to touch his skin, to hear him sigh in her ear with pleasure. She wanted to hate him as much as she said she did.

But she couldn’t.

She just couldn’t.

Screenshot-115“I’m– I’m warning you for the last time. Stay away from Marielle.”

Vaughn’s smirk widened. “You do feel it, don’t you?”

“All I feel is revulsion!”

Screenshot-134They examined each other for a drawn out moment. She knew he saw through her when he smiled dangerously.

“We’ll see.”

N/B: Sorry for the rather long hiatus, guys! I’ve been deliberating what direction I want this story to go, and still haven’t decided! What do you think? Bittersweet, or happy?

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7 responses to “Chapter 11

  • kathleen

    Yay! Another great chapter! Happy might be nice but bittersweet could be more fun to write?

    • Becki

      I’m soooo torn! You see, I’ve got a vague plan for a sequel of sorts, and I think bittersweet might work better for that. But would a happier ending be more fulfilling? Argh, so confused!

  • birdikins

    I’m also torn. Happy would be well…happy, but bittersweet would make for a more interesting storyline. Or they usually do at least.

    Good job on another great chapter! I can’t even tell you how excited I get when I see this on my updates. 😀

  • Becki

    You know what? I think I’ll just play it by ear and see what feels right when the time comes. I’ve never been one for forward planning, anyway ;P

    Thanks again for reading and for being absolutely looooovely Xx

  • Tiff

    This is a good story. I’m really enjoying it so far. I think Estelle and Vaughn’s fights are cute lol I really want them to get together though.

  • bethysims

    what?! i was not expecting that at all…and I’m with Estelle…she does want but yet doesn’t. That’s kinda how my feelings area about him. I like him,and then I don’t haha.

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