Chapter 21

Screenshot-8When Charles had told Vaughn that Estelle had been seen leaving the ballroom in the company of Irving Linwood, Vaughn had actually ground his teeth together so hard that his jaw ached.

Stupid woman! Of all the men she could have gone off with…!

Screenshot-72Vaughn’s mind raced as he practically stumbled toward the terrace, his head whipping this way and that in an attempt to locate the bastard.

He squinted, seeing nothing but darkness.

Screenshot-77Nothing abnormal struck his senses.

Then he heard something. It was the smallest of noises, high-pitched and strained, one that most people would dismiss or remember as if having imagined it.

Screenshot-73But he had heard it.

And he knew it was her, crying out for help.

Screenshot-71Heart beating fast, adrenaline and dread coursing through his blood, he turned and ran down the steps two at a time. When he reached the grass, he stopped, listening for her… and for him.

There was another whimper of distress.

Screenshot-13There.

White hot rage burst alight inside him. There was no doubt in his mind as to who they were.

He hoped to god he wasn’t too late.

Screenshot-46“What the— Afonsine?!”

Linwood’s irritated voice sounded as he spotted him. Estelle cried out behind him, scrambling to cover herself. The sound made Vaughn’s blood boil.

“What the bloody hell are—”

Screenshot-17Before Linwood could say anything further, Vaughn grabbed his jacket roughly and violently hauled him away.

He grabbed Linwood’s neck and squeezed.

Screenshot-49The Viscount lowered his voice to a lethal whisper.

“If you so much as lay another finger on Miss Murphy again, Linwood, I swear on my brother’s dead body I will hunt you down and kill you.”

Screenshot-24Irving choked on his words. Fear widened his eyes as he clawed desperately at the Viscount’s arm for mercy.

Screenshot-18Vaughn tightened his hold on the cad’s throat.

Do you understand?”

He asked calmly, brutal steel beneath his words.

Screenshot-23Linwood gurgled something desperately, incomprehensible. Vaughn loosened his grip slightly.

“Yes, Yes!”

Screenshot-32With a snarl, Vaughn released him grudgingly, shoving him away.

“You’re scum, Irving. Now pack your things and get the hell out of my house.”

Screenshot-42With that, he turned and left him. Estelle was still backed up against the wall, now shivering violently. The sight of the confident, opinionated governess brought to such shattering depths broke his heart.

“It’s alright, sweetheart, it’s over now.”

Screenshot-54“Ah, now I see.”

From behind them, Irving sneered.

“So she’s your whore, is she? I had thought a Viscount  would have better taste.”

Screenshot-26In under a second, the Viscount turned and struck him down with one faultless punch to the head.

Screenshot-39With a heavy thud, Irving fell to the floor, his nose bleeding.

He groaned unattractively before tumbling into unconsciousness.

Screenshot-52Vaughn turned back to Estelle, who was staring at the grass, or rather, at nothing.

“Estelle…?” She didn’t even blink at the use of her name. A very bad sign. “Come on, I’ll take you inside.”

Screenshot-69He urged her, gently, into movement, but suddenly felt her hands gripping at his arm, stopping him, clutching onto him for dear life.

“Not back there.” She breathed. “Not back in there… please. I can’t… I can’t–”

“I know, it’s alright sweet, we’re going to my study. I’ll take you the back way.”

Screenshot-65He tried to move her again, but she wouldn’t budge. “Estelle. He’s gone. It’s over. I’m here now. I’m here.”

And that, apparently, was enough for her. She nodded meekly, silently. He led her around the side of the house to his own private music room.

Screenshot-68She wasn’t crying, which surprised him, but she was weak. He knew her energy, her very spirit, had been stolen away. He held her to his side, literally holding her up so she wouldn’t collapse, shaking, upon the dewy grass.

Screenshot-21Long after they had reached the music room Estelle only stood silently, still shaking.

Now the fire in his own blood, the adrenaline, was draining, and now that he could hear his thoughts over the beating of his heart, Vaughn realised his own mind was a mess.

Screenshot-19What had just happened? His reaction had been… primitive. Animalistic. The rage he had felt at the thought of her being defiled, being touched by somebody else… it had blinded him. A primal, possessive fury had taken over his body, his very being.

Vaughn expelled a frustrated sigh. He couldn’t explain it, couldn’t understand it.

Screenshot-56“I’m not ruined, if that’s what you’re wondering.”

The governess said in a monotone.

Screenshot-52Vaughn took in the words without any outward reaction; inside though, his lungs finally relaxed enough for him to draw a real breath.

“All I’m wondering is how efficiently I can murder that good for nothing c—”

Screenshot-54“How did you know?” She interrupted him, finally catching his gaze. “How did you know that I had… that I was with him?”

“Charles told me he’d seen you leaving with him.”

Screenshot-61Estelle looked down and away.

“Why did you bother to come after me?”

Screenshot-25Vaughn turned, infuriated that she was asking at all.

Why?! Because I knew he would try to take advantage! Or would you rather I had simply let you be, is that it?”

“N-no… I just don’t understand—”

Screenshot-74“Don’t understand? You don’t understand?”

Vaughn barked, harshly disbelieving.

“Do you know what he was going to do to you? How easily he could have… I mean… what were you thinking?!”

Screenshot-70Vaughn regretted his harshness instantly as he watched as her face crumple with misery.

“No, I… I didn’t mean… I just… I didn’t think anybody would notice or care or…”

Screenshot-48“It’s only that I… He…”

“What did he do? For God’s sake, I’ll kill him. I’ll kill the bastard; what did he—”

“No, please don’t, I…It’s not what he did, it’s… he said… He said that… that…”

Screenshot-23She couldn’t seem to get the words out. Vaughn understood, but his impatience was growing, along with a dormant urge to punch Linwood in the face several times more.

“He said I should be… flattered that he wanted to… to…

Screenshot-27“And it made me realise that… that perhaps I should be flattered. Perhaps that’s the best offer I’ll ever get. I’m a bastard. No titles to inherit, no lawful family… I’m nothing. And if I’m nothing, then… maybe that’s all I’m good for—”

Screenshot-36No. You are not nothing, Estelle, do you understand?! Believe me. You… you’re an intelligent, sophisticated, elegant… beautiful woman, and I… If I wasn’t…”

Screenshot-29He stopped himself; took a breath. He swallowed, altering what he’d been about to admit to her… and to himself.

“Any man would be lucky to have you.”

Screenshot-33It took him a moment to realise that, in his arms, she had stopped shaking. Something clicked within her. Or snapped.

Vaguely, he felt her arms clutch the fabric at his chest.

Screenshot-45After a moment, Vaughn lifted his gaze to catch hers once more. He watched as her eyes narrowed momentarily.

Without warning, she spoke.

“Kiss me.”

Screenshot-65His chest tightened as her hands travelled to his shoulders, and had pulled him towards her before he could finish. He stifled a groan as their bodies came into full contact.

“I… Estelle, no, you’re not…”

Screenshot-44“I want to get rid of him. Don’t you see, I… need you to… to… I need to you to show me… I want to feel something else. Just… please just make me forget. Make me forget everything except this.”

Screenshot-40She kissed him before he could stop her. And her lips were so torturously soft, so warm…

But then he remembered that he couldn’t do this. She was in shock, out of her mind with fear and humiliation. She didn’t want this, not really.

Screenshot-42As if he were ripping a part of himself away, he urged his lips from hers.

“I can’t.” Drawing in a ragged breath, he looked to the floor beside them, “You don’t know what you’re doing, I can’t—”

Screenshot-79She turned his head towards her and took his lips again with a gentleness that slew his ability to refuse her. Christ, he couldn’t stop himself responding.

… and yet still his mind was screaming ‘no – this isn’t right!‘ He shouldn’t… do this. And if he didn’t stop now, he wouldn’t be able to stop at all.

Screenshot-57Estelle. For the love of God, I’m trying to prove myself to you.”

“But you have.” She leant in again, and he couldn’t stop her. “You saved me. Again.”

Screenshot-77He let loose a frayed breath, his eyelids falling closed from the feelings she was suddenly, effortlessly evoking within him. He hadn’t a clue as to what had come over her… but the way she was making his heart beat a relentless staccato within his chest was… overwhelming.

Screenshot-37Wait. I don’t want to hurt you…” Christ’s sake, even the innocent movements of her delicate hands on his skin had him breathing in triple-time. “I mean, Christ, you’ve just been—”

“Don’t you want to kiss me?”

Screenshot-58He couldn’t lie. Not anymore. “You know the answer to that.”

“Then for God’s sake… do it.”

Screenshot-76He did.

And never had surrender been so sweet.

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9 responses to “Chapter 21

  • Tiff

    I’m so glad he got to her in time, but I don’t want them to do anything they’d regret. I mean I DO want them to be together but not like that, not after she was almost raped. I am so interested in how this will play out!

  • Becki

    How it goes all depends on the vote, but I’ll try to do whatever outcome in a tasteful and justifiable way for all readers 🙂

  • amberaura

    Oh, my! This sory is getting really intense, I love it! The masquerade ball was done so beautifully, I enjoyed all the costumes and appreciate all the hard work that clearly went into setting that up. I really do hope that Estelle and Vaughn will finally succumb to their feelings for eachother, but I know that their differences in class will certainly not make it easy!

    • Becki

      The masquerade element really made things challenging, but I like to think it paid off in the end. Did you check out Marielle’s mask? It’s beautiful! Makes me wonder how people make these things…

      No guesses which way you voted, lol. Thanks for reading/commenting 😀

  • nuitssombres

    I feel so bad for her, that was probably super scary for her! I really love this story, i missed out on the last chapter because i was gone but it was great to! My computer wont let me vote but i’d choose the last option. I think they should be together but not go all the way;)

  • Becki

    Aw thanks, I really love your comments, though I think they’re starting to go to my head, haha. Really hope you like the next chapter…!

  • LilyParker

    So glad Vaughn punched that sorry excuse for a man! Can’t wait to read the next chapter. Heading there now. 🙂

  • Pineapplepie

    Heya! I am dying to know where you found the hair Vaughn has in this chapter! :3

  • LilyShadowWriter

    Oh. My. God. I am so freaking relieved that Vaughn saved her before that horrible excuse for a man could take her, but my heart is still breaking for Estelle because she feels like she’s nothing and a piece of her has been broken and now she just wants to feel like she did before again and ahhhhhhhhhhhh I have forgotten how to write sentences at all!! fjdsfhaklfhsdf *DRAGGING DYING SELF TO NEXT CHAPTER*

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