Chapter 24

Screenshot-215It was moments like these, when she was practically shaking with excitement, that very much betrayed Lady Marielle Harrington’s young age.

“Estellise! Has—?”

Screenshot-219“Yes, he’s called. I believe he expects us over there later this morning.”

There?” Marielle repeated, perplexed. “You mean… you mean at his house?”

Estelle nodded, dreading the outing.

b5bdc352-ac24-4b99-b32f-e2084fe432a9_zps779d984eDepending on the weather, Marielle and the Viscount would go for long strolls. They would discuss dim, menial things like the weather and glove shopping, or sometimes even talk about the Viscount’s château in France.

Throughout these tedious excursions and discussions, Estelle would simply have to watch.

Screenshot-237The few times she had noticed him glancing at her from beneath his lashes, her heart had leapt with perplexed elation. Indeed, it was in these moments that she felt her heart beating at all.

Screenshot-205It will pass.

She told herself, over and over.

It must pass.

482b4c13-54ce-4b42-810b-73c7a9c4327f_zpsafe0e9d1Any exchanges she herself conducted with Vaughn (always in Marielle’s presence of course) were short and polite. Their conversations were no longer filled with rage or malicious intent, or any kind of real emotion. They were proper conversations. Perfectly nice.

Perfectly unbearable.

7fe3254d-cea3-4c64-92f0-89ba74776e9c_zps3db1466aOccasionally he smiled with her, the last time had been when he had laughed at something she’d said about being awful at French.

The sound had made her ache.

But these were exceptions in conversations carried out with businesslike efficiency. And that was the way it had to be.

Screenshot-238Marielle suddenly came to a stand still.

Oh! Oh my! What if he intends to speak to me alone, Estelle? What if… What if he intends to propose?”

Screenshot-222“That is quite enough, Marielle.”

Estelle snapped, brusquely.

“Ladies do not show such volatile emotions in the morning.”

Screenshot-208The debutante blinked, taken aback.

“Now go and ready yourself,” Estelle commanded. “We’re leaving in half an hour.”

Screenshot-229Marielle simply stared at her dumbfounded for a few moments. Then she turned her nose in the air and harrumphed, like a petulant child.

“I wouldn’t expect you to understand!”

Screenshot-234Estelle sighed deeply, leaning against the Harrington’s vast book collection, trying her best not take that particular verbal arrow to heart.

Screenshot-9“If you keep pacing like that you’re going to erode the floorboards.”

Vaughn Slanzar de Afonsine did not stop pacing. Instead, he chose to completely ignore his friend’s plea (a practice not out of the ordinary for the Viscount) and walked a little faster.

Screenshot-14Charles simply rolled his eyes and looked out of the bay window again.

“Nervous?”

Screenshot-27“I am not nervous.”

Vaughn barked, taking a puff off the cigarette dangling from his fingers.

“I just hate waiting for women to arrive fashionably sodding late.”

Screenshot-52“They’re not late.”

Charles smiled slightly.

“And Miggins will kill you if she finds out you’ve been smoking in here.”

9e0d7060-54ee-4d70-a19b-e3aeda60ed00_zps1a1df445Mrs Miggins was the Afonsine’s strong-willed housekeeper, brought with them from Barnacle Bay. The murderous look in her eye upon finding dirt anywhere inside the house (sometimes outside, too) was enough to scare any man halfway to Sunset Valley.

Screenshot-12Today was the day he would throw away his bachelorhood for good. It was the day he would wave goodbye to gambling and womanising and drinking until the early hours of the morning.

Well, supposedly.

0a823c8f-d421-4ddd-9d29-2c7ee0bd7fbb_zpsa185f5e1His future wife, the demure Marielle Harrington, would undoubtedly assume these things upon their engagement, though from what he saw on a daily basis, married men of the upper classes rarely stayed faithful to their wives, and they certainly didn’t stop drinking, smoking or gambling over inheritances, horses and whores.

Screenshot-13He supposed nothing much would be different about married-life, apart from the dull conversation and the fact he would have to bed and eventually father a child with the aforementioned Miss Harrington, (who was practically a child herself).

Screenshot-18But at least, he thought, he was not limited to her bed alone. After all, illicit liaisons were the norm for both the husbands and the wives of the ton.

And he already had the perfect mistress in mind…

Screenshot-35“Is there a reason you asked the governess to come with the girl today? It would have been entirely acceptable to speak to the girl alone.”

Charles’ voice permeated his rapidly meandering thoughts.

Screenshot-16Vaughn sat himself over from the Landgraab heir.

“Why, my friend, I’m just being thoughtful, as per usual.”

Charles raised a brow.

Screenshot-17“Moral support.”

Vaughn supplied.

“For the girl, of course. I’m not nervous. I don’t need moral support. You’re only here to amuse the governess while I’m talking to Marielle.”

Screenshot-30The Viscount sighed in aggravation, then stubbed his cigarette out on the side of a Ming vase. He knew Charles was probably flinching at his blatant disregard for the priceless relic, but he did not care in the slightest.

Damn Charles. And while he was at it, damn Mrs Miggins, too.

Screenshot-50“Some things never change, do they, Vaughn?” Charles said. “You may have the ton bowing to your boots now, but I remember a conversation that started similarly some years ago, and it ended with my father switching my bottom for letting you talk me into stealing a jar of apple brandy.”

Screenshot-48Vaughn laughed.

“I’d forgotten about that. We had just turned thirteen. The footman found us asleep behind your father’s stable. My head hurt so much after drinking all that brandy I didn’t even feel his switch!”

Screenshot-46“We’ve been through a lot together, haven’t we?”

Charles smiled thinly, looking away.

“I’m sorry I left you alone, Vaughn.”

Screenshot-144
Vaughn jumped like a scalded cat, giving Charles a wide stare.“What does that have to do with anything? I wasn’t lonely. I’m not lonely.”

It sounded as if he were justifying himself and that only made the feeling all the more terrible.

Screenshot-44“No, hear me out. I am sorry, Vaughn. Lots of things happened, it took me some time… but I began to understand many things I didn’t understand before.

Things about you, mostly.”

Screenshot-21“After you left for Barnacle Bay, no one ever spoke about you, did you know that? It reminded me of how nobody spoke of your brother, even though everyone knew what had happened.”

Screenshot-72“The ton is good at gossiping, but even more so when it comes to keeping quiet. Although, I think nobody talked about Falcon because… well, nobody knew how to deal with it, or how to help you…”

Vaughn snorted derisively.

Screenshot-70Charles took a deep, steadying breath.

“After you left, I was sent to live with all kinds of relatives. I think my father was trying to give me a reason to move forward, to… forget you. It was strange, but I realised that I’d never been without you before in my entire life.”

Screenshot-114“I barely saw my sister, Millerna, after you left. To this day we don’t talk much.” He smiled tightly, weakly. “She always liked you best.”

“Charles…”

Screenshot-61“But even though everyone else was still there, and after each time I came back, everyone else was still there, it wasn’t enough.

No matter how hard they tried… I couldn’t be a part of it. Something was always… missing.”

Screenshot-25“Stop.”

Vaughn ground out.

“Just stop it, will you?”

Screenshot-90No,” Charles pressed on forcefully.

I finally understood it: you were the first person I trusted, the first person I really cared about, you were the closest thing to a brother I’d ever had…  So I understand it now, I really understand you.”

Screenshot-77“I understand why, Vaughn.

All I ever wanted was for you to acknowledge me, to see me as part of your life, as… worthy. And how ridiculous is that?”

Screenshot-51“After you left, I couldn’t trust anyone in that same way, I couldn’t care about anyone as much… because I thought that if you –- my best friend, my brother, could abandon me, then there was no one worth putting my trust in anymore.”

Screenshot-83“After Lily died, I realised nothing lasts in this world. It feels great to have friends and family you can rely on. I think that’s why it’s so dangerous, especially if you become used to it. Someday you’re bound to lose everything.”

Screenshot-85“Then what are you left with? Nothing. Nobody.

It’s so miserable. It’s so hard to recover from something like that. I never, ever wanted to deal with that again. I couldn’t. Even if it meant being alone…”

Screenshot-137“I finally understood. I could never care about anyone the same way I cared about you. And you could never care about us, not like you cared about Falcon…

The Viscount flinched and looked away.

Screenshot-129“Vaughn.”

Charles’ voice held a sudden gravity.

“I just want you to be sure.”

Screenshot-136The words hung, heavy in the air.

Vaughn knew exactly what they meant. Charles was asking him whether he was making the right decision. Whether resigning himself to a life with Marielle Harrington was what he really wanted.

Screenshot-147Charles was asking whether there was another way.

“I’m sure.”

He knew there wasn’t.

Screenshot-191Neither moved for a few moments. Then a warm hand fell upon Vaughn’s shoulder, a comfort of sorts, and shook it gently. Was it pity? Empathy?

What does it matter?

Screenshot-5Both men turned at the sound of somebody knocking on the door.

“Enter.” Vaughn called, sounding considerably more confident than he felt.

Screenshot-151A footman came in.

“Announcing the arrival of Lady Harrington and a Miss Murphy. Shall I bring them in, my Lord?”

“Please.”

Screenshot-157The first foot over the threshold was that of Marielle Harrington.

Her governess followed close behind.

Screenshot-165His eyes surreptitiously glimpsed over to where the governess was standing.

He had perfected the art of looking at her without anybody else noticing.

Screenshot-183She looked particuarly beautiful today, practically glowing.

Their gazes met for barely a second before they she looked away. But a second was all he had needed. The spark, the shiver, the joy that ran through him would last all day.

Screenshot-7God, what was happening to him? He’d never had to sneak a glance at anybody. When he wanted something, needed something, he took it. He didn’t even recognise himself anymore.

Screenshot-123“Good morning, Ladies.”

Charles addressed the women, inducing Vaughn to stop staring at the governess and echo his greeting.

Screenshot-160Marielle giggled.

Estelle merely glanced around the room, her eyes widened when they fell upon Charles, before quickly darting back to the wall.

Screenshot-161“Good morning, Gentlemen.”

The governess said properly. She curtsed, before standing back against the wall.

She probably would have encouraged Marielle to do the same…

Screenshot-185Instead she bounded over to Vaughn.

“Oh, my Lord! I could hardly wait to leave the house when I’d heard you’d requested my presence this morning!”

Screenshot-175The Viscount smiled faintly despite himself.

“It is always a pleasure to see you, Marielle.”

Screenshot-168He watched as the young girl blushed prettily. And as he searched her bright, smiling face for a moment, he wondered whether her face would still be smiling a year or two from now.

Whether she would still blush in his presence.

Screenshot-186He wondered, whilst looking at the veritable child in front of him, whether this time next year they would have a screaming child of their own in the nursery upstairs, and whether either of them would want anything to do with it.

Screenshot-173His face must have betrayed something of his thoughts, for Marielle’s smile had lost some of its radiance.

“Are you quite alright, my Lord?”

Screenshot-73At this late stage, after everything she had given up, was there even any way he could deny her a proposal? Was there any way he could deny his dying father – his brother – an heir to his legacy?

Screenshot-176“My lord?” Marielle prompted for the second time.

Vaughn blinked, fixing his charming smile back in place.

Screenshot-182“Pardon me, Miss Harrington, but your beauty rather dazzled me for a moment. Shall I call for tea?”

It was going to be a long day.


7 responses to “Chapter 24

  • Vinna

    Just read the whole thing. LOVE IT! i downloaded Vaughn XD

  • marsar2

    Oh, I’m so, so glad I found this story! It’s terrific! Only now, I’m feeling a little ashamed of mine.

    I hope everything will turn out fine for Estelle and Vaughn, because this chapter was rather depressing :-(. I have the feeling that -even leaving their “unsuitability” aside- there are some issues they need to sort out if they are to have any peace of mind in the future.

    You’re a very talented writer! 🙂

    • Becki

      Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoy it so far – I’m having a lot of fun writing it! I’m actually keen to do some more sims reading myself. I’ll be checking out your blog when I eventually grab some spare time!

  • Tiff

    I can’t believe he’s actually going to propose to her! I feel so bad for Estelle having to witness it all. Great update though 🙂

  • Mikayla

    I just found your blog a few days ago, but I haven’t actually commented on any posts until now! I have this theory that I must put out there before I move on to the next chapter. I think Estelle is pregnant after her romantic rendezvous with Vaughn!! She hadn’t been herself, and this chapter said she looked like she was glowing! Just a theory. Now I’m gonna go read the rest 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: