Chapter 12

Screenshot-32As she walked to the breakfast room, Estelle was aware that she must look a fright. She hoped nobody she knew was in there, and that she could just eat and run out again as quickly as was humanly possible.

Screenshot-2Fortunately, there was only one other person already sitting down.

But, rather unfortunately, it was Charles Landgraab.

Screenshot-66She reddened, before walking rapidly to the side board, where all the breakfast dishes lay steaming hot.

She loaded her plate, even though she had lost her appetite completely.

Screenshot-69Finding the resolve from some unknown place inside her, she turned and approached the table, seating herself as far away from Charles as she could without it looking deliberate.

Screenshot-58She stole a glance at him. His nose seemed to be buried by in a novel of some sort. Well, at least he wouldn’t attempt con—

“I won’t tell anyone, you know. I’m not that petty.”

Screenshot-79Estelle cleared her throat.

“Thank you, but… If you’re referring to… to what you saw last night then… well, I’d rather we all forgot about it entirely. It was a mistake. A huge mistake that will not ever be repeated!”

Screenshot-68As Estelle began to dissect her plate, she realised she was anxious to know what Charles thought of her.

It would not do to have him lose all respect for her already, just because he had seen her in the arms of a fairly inebriated noted rogue who just happened to be his best friend. Gosh, it did sound bad when she said it to herself!

screenshot-6But, heavens, what a fool she had been! What an enormous, stupid fool of a woman she had been. Letting him kiss her like that!

And kissing him back! What had she done!?

screenshot-441He was the devil incarnate.

The way he had talked to her and held her and…

Screenshot-77Charles’ voice suddenly pierced her thoughts.

“You appear to be trying to saw your way through the fine china, Miss Murphy. May I ask why?”

Screenshot-72“Oh! My mind is elsewhere, it seems.” Estelle blushed, and began picking at her food nervously. “I… did not sleep well last night.”

“I’m not surprised after you were attacked in such a way.”


Screenshot-93“He’s damaged, you know.”

The governess blinked.

“Mm? Who is?”

Screenshot-60Charles sighed deeply and stood. For a long while he simply stared at one of the Afonsine’s imported birds.

“Vaughn. He’s damaged, perhaps beyond repair. I just… thought you should know.”

Screenshot-19“I don’t see what it has to do with me.”

But Estelle was curious. She had been for a long time.

Screenshot-100“I only meant…” Charles hesitated. “I just ask that you don’t judge him too harshly.”

Estelle frowned again.

“You used the word, ‘damaged’. What do you mean exactly?”

Screenshot-64“As you probably know, Vaughn Slanzar de Afonsine is actually the second son of the Earl and Countess Afonsine. Falcon Lacour de Afonsine was the first born.”

Screenshot-23“Falcon Afonsine was… well, everyone who ever met Falcon practically worshipped him, including Vaughn.

The two of them were always very close, even for brothers.”

Screenshot-103“About nine years ago, the family went on their annual relocation to France, to visit the Countess’ relatives and such. Vaughn and Falcon went out riding. From what I’ve been told, all was well until they came to a river.”

Screenshot-108“The river was quite expansive, but they eventually found a wooden bridge to cross over. A rickety old thing, you know the type….”

screenshot-105“Well, apparently Vaughn refused to cross it and tried to go round another way. Recent floods had made the river-flow vicious.

Falcon didn’t listen.”

screenshot-1011“He went over it, stood too long on the thing, and it broke beneath the weight of his horse. He fell into the river and drowned.

Vaughn was 17 years old.”

Screenshot-103“Naturally, he jumped into the rapids after Falcon, tried to save him. Smashed a few bones here and there…”

Estelle gasped in horror. “No...”

Screenshot-58“But, of course, by the time he found the body, he hadn’t a hope. I’m not sure whether Falcon died in his arms or before then.”

Screenshot-9“Since then, Vaughn’s never really tried to… be accepted by anyone. He’s cold. Cynical. He pushes everyone away. God forbid he ever truly cares for anyone, he’ll be scared to death they’ll be the next to leave him.

I… think he blames himself for what happened.”

Screenshot-5The ticking of the grandfather clock nearby seemed to echo throughout the vast hall.

Screenshot-101Estelle shook her head in disbelief. No wonder Vaughn had issues. He was probably still overcome with grief. Death was always such a terrible, damaging thing.

And after everything she had said to him about being selfish

Screenshot-104“Can’t… can’t you help him?”

Charles laughed harshly.

“It’s hard trying to tell another person not to commit suicide when they know that you’ve stared at a razor blade for forty minutes that same morning.”

Screenshot-10Charles looked at her, and Estelle noticed that his quiet smile was filled with sadness, just (she realised, for the first time) like his eyes.

screenshot-471‘Clearly he still blames himself… why, it’s all in the eyes…’

Estelle suddenly remembered everything Liddy had said about his fiancée, how she had died so close to their wedding. It must have been terrible. Horrible.

Screenshot-105Even if it was to forgo propriety, Estelle felt an oddly personal connection with the man already. It was quite disconcerting, how natural it felt to want to comfort him.

“Oh, my Lord…. I am so sorry.”

Screenshot-12But Charles was seemingly unmoved, as if the words she’d offered had lost all meaning to him.

“Please, call me Charles. And do not, under any circumstances, tell him I told you about all this.”

Screenshot-7Estelle cleared her throat of the emotion that remained there.

“Don’t worry; I don’t think I ever want to talk to him again. Why… why did you tell me about all this?”

Screenshot-16“Because I think he’s falling in love with you, and you deserve to know why he’s finding it so unbearable.”

Screenshot-17“You think he’s what?!”

Estelle choked, unable to process what her new friend just declared so brazenly.

“How do you… how could you even—”

Screenshot-2“Trust me.” Charles said simply. And with that filmsy explanation, he turned back to the window as if he hadn’t just made her heart stop.

Estelle couldn’t see how Vaughn could possibly be falling in love with her. The very notion of it was ridiculous! They barely knew each other, barely could tolerate the other’s presence.

Screenshot-64And if Vaughn was as ‘damaged’ as Charles seemed to think he was, how could he even know how to love another human being?

How could he even let himself?

screenshot-128Him admitting an attraction to her was one thing, but falling in love…?

That was something entirely different. Something impossible.

Screenshot-23And besides… she could never love him back.

Such a thing, fate would never allow.


8 responses to “Chapter 12

  • Beth :)

    Poor Vaughn. I understand now why he’s so defensive and annoying but I still don’t think it’s any excuse to treat Estelle the way he did. I feel so sorry for Charles because he’s had it just as hard as Vaughn but he’s still really nice to Estelle. 😦 Amazing chapter, especially the flashbacks 🙂

    • Becki

      Wow, thanks for the amazing comment! I agree, it’s not an excuse, but then again do we really know the whole story? Considering it was Charles who related the tale, you can bet there’s a lot more to it than that!

      Again, thanks for reading, Beth! ^_^ ♥

  • nuitssombres

    Hello, i’m sort of new here and finally decided to comment on your story! First let me tell you how amazing it is, when i see a new chapter out i get so happy:) Also your writing skills are really great too. I had a feeeling Vaughn was falling in love with her but i feel so bad about the death of his brother. I think she’ll help him recover but not easily. I really hope you keep up with this story!

    • Becki

      Don’t worry – this story will definitely get finished… painfully slowly, given my lack of spare time atm, but surely. I’m so happy you enjoy my little baby; your comment put a HUGE smile on my face. I’m totally flattered! Oh, and I have some good news for you: chapter 13 is out =D

      Hope it lives up to your expectations. Thanks so much for reading Xx

  • amberaura

    Awe, poor Vaughn! I was really starting to dislike him, but knowing all this changes my opinion drastically. I hope she can get past his cold exterior and maybe help him heal. Thanks for this wonderful story, can’t wait to see what happens next:)

    • Becki

      Thanks! I’m glad you can sympathise – to be honest, I wasn’t sure whether the whole ‘Vaughn-backstory’ was a little too anti-climatic, considering. Then again, I didn’t want to risk being super cliche!

      … hopefully nobody found it cliche, haha. Much love X

  • vampireXheart

    Death has messed both Charles and Vaughn up quite a bit. But it’s nice to see the contrast in how the deal with it, and the pain of losing a loved one. They’re both struggling it seems and blocking other people out. But I’m glad that they do have each other, even if they aren’t on the best terms right now.

    And Vaughn will take a while to heal, even if he does love her, I don’t know if he knows what to do with those feelings or how to act. Even if he admitted them i think they would still struggle a lot.

  • LilyShadowWriter

    Wow, what an incredible chapter!

    I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by Charles in this chapter. I was kind of getting the feeling that the two were going to start fighting over Estelle in a way, but it seems that not only is that not the case, but Charles is also sticking up for his friend by helping Estelle to understand him better.

    It makes me think back to when Vaughn was wondering whether Charles and he were really friends, or whether they just found solace in each other’s misery, but this chapter suggests that Charles really does see him as a friend, and even cares about him.

    Now, I don’t know if this new information completely excuses how incorrigible Vaughn has been, but his behavior certainly makes a lot more sense now, and, as a result, makes him a bit more like-able too!

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