Chapter 23

A/N: Oh dear. It’s been a good long while, hasn’t it? My life has been a giant, hectic, incredibly busy maelstrom the past month. So, now that’s all over and done with, here I am!

Screenshot-95“Happy Birthday!”

The chorus of bewilderingly cheery voices cut through Estelle’s reverie like a sharpened blade.

Screenshot-13Estelle froze just within the kitchen door, utterly shocked by the beaming faces looking expectantly at her.

Screenshot-97Stepping further into the room, Estelle noticed the large wooden work table and the small cake resting on it. The house staff had obviously baked it that very morning in order to surprise her before breakfast.

Screenshot-99Estelle did her very best to smile.

“Oh, everyone this is….wonderful.”

Screenshot-17Tilly, the Harrington’s cook and the boss of sorts to most of the house staff, grinned proudly.

“I found a special recipe, love. One that uses fresh strawberries, your favourite!”

Screenshot-19Some of Estelle’s reluctance to enjoy herself seeped out at the admission.

“Thank you, Tilly.” She said, honestly grateful for the gesture. “But really, you didn’t have to—”

Screenshot-27“Now, now. I’ll have none of that!”

Tilly chirped.

“We’ve all noticed how miserable you’ve been lately, and it was the least we could do, pet.”

Screenshot-42Estelle smiled in spite of her bad mood. There was seldom such gladness in the household; it was a hard life for a servant. Constantly cleaning, running errands, changing coals, washing, scrubbing – there usually wasn’t a minute in the day for such frivolities.

Screenshot-40Estelle considered herself extremely lucky to be a governess; she may have been in the Harrington’s employ, but she was not remotely expected to do half as much work as Tilly and the others.

It was simply a pity she could not experience the same happiness. Tilly had been spot on; she had been downright miserable of late.

Screenshot-48For near a month, she had felt as if something inside her had curled up into a tight ball which would never unfurl. Today it was worse than usual, although she attributed that to the fact it was the twentieth anniversary of her running away from the orphanage.

The same day as her mother’s inexplicable abandonment of her.

Screenshot-5She had found it. By some miracle, she had found it.

Moonlight Falls.

Screenshot-33She was shivering from the cold and rain, and she had been searching fruitlessly since the early hours of the morning. She had tried to ask passers-by, but they had assumed her a street urchin and had refused to help.

Screenshot-34All but one.

At first, it seemed the portly woman would hastily bat Estelle away, too. Her Lady companion had already made to shuffle off in the opposite direction.

Screenshot-29The Lady looked away in absolute horror as the chubby woman bent down slightly.

“Why, hello there. Are you… are you quite alright, child?”

Screenshot-14Estelle’s heart leapt. She had expected the same disdain and haughty superiority of every other toff she had asked. But perhaps this woman would actually listen.

Perhaps she would help. Hope blossomed in her weary heart.

Screenshot-25Standing up as straight as she could manage, she looked directly into the woman’s eyes and said slowly and clearly, in her best accent:

“I am awfully sorry to trouble you, Miss, but I am quite lost.”

Screenshot-22The woman smiled warmly, ignoring her ward’s obvious distain for the situation.

Yes, I had rather thought that to be the case, dear. How can I help you, darling? Where do you need to go?”

Screenshot-24Estelle swallowed. She tried to remember what her mother had told her, desperately hoping that she was recalling the name correctly.

“27 G-Grosvenor Gardens.”

Screenshot-7Ah, you must mean Grumpy Grosvenor Gardens. The most frightfully dull people live there, child, are you sure you want to go?”

Y-Yes please.”

Screenshot-18“Alright then dear, well you’ll be pleased to know that it lies just behind that road there. I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for. Remember, if it’s buried treasure then I should like some, too!”

Estelle giggled, causing the older woman to beam at her before nodding her goodbye.

Screenshot-9As the two women finally did cross the road, she heard the disapproving lady mutter something:

Oh, Liddy! Speaking to an urchin like that in broad daylight – you really are stark raving mad!”

Screenshot-4Liddy.

Estelle made a mental note to thank her one day, if she ever had the chance.

Screenshot-14An ageing woman had appeared at the door of 27 Grosvenor Gardens momentarily, but before Estelle could even open her mouth to speak, she heard the words:

“No beggars!”

Screenshot-15The door was promptly slammed in her face.

Estelle blinked. Swallowed. Then, biting her lip, she simply knocked again.

Screenshot-22The same woman appeared. She tutted impatiently at the familiar sight of the (by now very wet) little girl.

Be off with you! Go on, off with you—”

Screenshot-20P-Please,” Estelle shivered, pleading, “Can I see Lord Edmure V—”

Go back to your mother, child!” The woman snapped. “Go back home, I say! The Ventures do not welcome beggars!”

Screenshot-16B-But…!” 

The woman turned and slammed the door mercilessly behind her with a resounding thud.

Screenshot-8It started to rain again. Fortunately the manor’s porch allowed at least a degree of shelter.

She knocked and knocked again and again for the next half hour, but nobody answered.

Screenshot-19She sniffed, not allowing herself to cry. She didn’t want to cry, because she thought that if she started to cry now, she might never stop. Afterall, she no longer had a mother to comfort her…

Screenshot-3She stopped herself from completing the thought, angrily. There would never be any getting her back. It would be foolish to make the centre of her life something as hopeless – as futile- as trying to recover the one person that had willingly left her behind.

Her mother had left her behind and walked on; Estelle had resolved to the same: she had to leave the past – the Roma – behind, and find a different path for herself.

Screenshot-23She knocked for a final time, and when it went, yet again, unanswered, she pushed an envelope, her mother’s necklace safe inside, through the letter-box.

The she waited.

Screenshot-18Estelle had never felt quite as alone as she did in the minutes that followed.

Without any trace of her mother to hold, without any hope, she was utterly alone.

Screenshot-6She waited for what seemed like hours on that doorstep. She didn’t even know what she was waiting for, but she simply sat, silently watching the rain, and she would sit in that very spot until something happened.

Screenshot-4The door opened behind her. Estelle scrambled up immediately, more awake and alert than she had been in her entire life, ready to face the angry house-mistress once again.

Ready to fight.

Screenshot-26However, it was not the house-mistress who greeted her this time. A tall, wiry man with a mane of sandy-coloured hair towered over her. 

“Come with me, a moment.”

Screenshot-47The man led her through the most luxurious parlour Estelle had ever seen (an unsurprising feat, considering her nomadic upbringing). Even surrounded by such luxury, she was determined not to be distracted from her purpose.

I-I… please can I see Lord V-Venture?”

Screenshot-39The man ignored her plea, opening one of his hands to reveal her mother’s heart-shaped pendant. Estelle watched it sway in the air.

How did you get this necklace? Who are you, child?”

Screenshot-33M-My m-m-mother.”

Estelle stammered through her shivering and uncertainty.

Screenshot-46She watched as comprehension seemed to dawn on him. His eyes widened until they were wild, frenzied; the look on his face was of a man who had just seen a ghost.

Who is your mother? What is her name?”

Screenshot-48L-Luminitsa.” Estelle swallowed, “Luminitsa Murphy, Sir, but she… she…”

She couldn’t quite speak the words aloud. Not yet.

Screenshot-60The man didn’t even appear to be listening, his gaze frantically searching her face, studying her eyes, her nose, her mouth. It was as if he was looking for something. For traces of something left behind on her very skin.

Screenshot-45His eyes caught hers again. They were filled with anger and sadness, neither of which she could fully interpret.

I am Edmure Venture, and your mother is my… you are my…”

Screenshot-50Estelle blinked, struck by the realisation that she had finally found him.

She had finally found her father.

“The Viscount called for Miss Harrington again.”

Screenshot-57The unexpected sound of the baritone pulled Estelle’s attention back to the present.

The governess blinked wildly, turning to the voice.

Screenshot-46It was Ichabod, the head-footman of the household. He reached into the breast pocket of his livery to fetch the calling card that was quickly becoming a familiar sight.

“This time Lord Afonsine requested that Miss Harrington attend him.”

Screenshot-56He placed the calling card on table before her. At the very bottom of the paper was, in stunningly elegant calligraphy, the words:

Vaughn Slanzar de Afonsine.

Screenshot-50Estelle sighed. He had been calling for the past three weeks. Each morning she would hope he had already left his card in the little silver tray in the front hall. Somehow, just to know that he had been there made her insides coil like a rusted bed-spring; a strained, noticeable, painful tightness in her chest.

Screenshot-70A week after the events of the Afonsine houseparty, the Viscount had written a letter to Marielle, revealing his desire to court her in a proper fashion. Marielle had immediately begged Estelle to supply her blessing.

Screenshot-68The debutante needn’t have bothered. The governess had waited for this since the night of the masquerade.

Estelle clenched her fist: she was ready for it.

Screenshot-67And yet, at almost the precise moment she had said given her assent, her heart had thudded to a stop. And it was from this moment that she had felt the aforementioned, peculiar emptiness eat its way inside of her; she had lost… something.

Screenshot-61Ever since, she had felt melancholic from when she awoke in the morning to when she slept at night. Even her passions and interests were disappearing more with every day; her favourite books could not possess her for a few, blissful moments.

Screenshot-47“A solicitor – a Mr. Cressingham – dropped by as well.”

Ichabod continued.

“He said he had urgent business with you and would call back immediately.”

Screenshot-31Estelle blinked, slightly taken aback.

“A solicitor? But… what the devil would a solicitor want with me?”

Screenshot-44“I suppose there’s only one way for you to find out. Also, I saw Miss Harrington in the hallway. She would have you attend her immediately to dress her for her outing with the Viscount.”

Screenshot-26Estelle was unable to smother her downtrodden sigh. Never before had she so utterly dreaded a social function.

“Very well,” She assented reluctantly. “Tell Marielle I’ll be with her within the half hour.”

Screenshot-73Needless to say, neither that birthday all those years ago, nor this one, brought with it much cause for celebration.

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6 responses to “Chapter 23

  • vampireXheart

    Poor Estelle, I feel bad for her losing her man. And especially to someone like Marielle, with her having to give her blessing to marry the man she loves :/

  • LilyParker

    Somehow, Estelle and Vaughn have to find a way to be together again. Vaughn and Marielle as a couple just doesn’t do it for me. I’ve read your entire blog in one afternoon. More chapters, please! Patience isn’t my strong suit. 😛

  • LilyParker

    Almost forgot to ask — are any of your characters available to download from the EA exchange? I don’t suppose Vaughn would be cc-free, would he? I’d love to use him as a Baby Daddy in my 100 Baby Challenge, with your permission, of course. I wouldn’t mind a baby Landgraab, either. 🙂

  • Becki

    I’ll try to have a new chapter up about once a week if that’s ok 😛 I’m so happy you’re enjoying the story so far – I can’t believe you read it all in one afternoon!

    At the moment, they aren’t! I was going to put all my sims on the exchange after I’d finished The Suitor, but I can put them up for you sooner, if you want. I’ll do that and add a ‘downloads’ section to this blog, shortly 😀

    I’d be very happy for you to use one of my suitors in that challenge ~ I want to see the cute babies ❤ ❤ ❤

  • Tiff

    Aw poor Estelle she had such a rough childhood. Will we get more of a story with her and her father? I’m so interested in finding out what happened.

  • Chapter 28 | The Suitor

    […] I made mention of the solicitor in chapter 23 for those who had […]

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