Till Death Do Us Part?

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Cathedral_Dweller, Jan 15, 2013.

  1. Lady Isabel Hale was a very content young lady indeed. She liked nothing better than to wake up of her own accord at whatever time she wished, to break her fast in the mid morning with a splendid buffet of good English delicacies, and to go about her daily ritual of reading, responding to, distributing, and fulfilling social invitations. She was a few months shy of eighteen years old, she was officially out in society, and, best of all, she was recently engaged to a wonderfully handsome and charming man, the elder son of an Earl. She was the queen of her social circle; all of her unmarried friends constantly consulted her and she crowed over them like a mother hen. Even more than the ease the engagement gave her mind, Isabel loved the power it gave her.

    Dressed in a pretty lilac frock with matching ribbons in her hair, Isabel sat on a pretty divan and began to read through her letters. Countless invitations to balls and teas and intimate family dinners, all of which she now had the power to say "yes" or "no" to. When she had first been out in society, she had been forced to accept every invitation that didn't directly conflict with a prior commitment. She had been on the lowest possible tier of society, although she was the daughter of a viscount. She had been respected because of her title, obviously, but she had not had any power. She had just been another debutante seeking important confidants and even more important potential husbands. But now! Oh, she was one of the first of her friends to receive an offer, and the first to accept a decent one. Soon she would be the Viscountess Marchington, and then, in time, she would be the Countess of Wright. It was absolutely divine!

    Invitations, invitations, a letter from her aunt, a few calling cards, more invitations... a letter from Alistair!...er...the Viscount Marchington! Isabel slid the knife under the seal impatiently and read it hungrily.

    My Darling Isabeau,

    I regret that I cannot find the time to call on you before my hasty departure, but my father the Earl has received urgent news of some important business matter at his estate in France that requires immediate attention. Because of his age I have volunteered to look into it for him. Not to worry, apparently the area I travel to is not at all involved in this horrendous Napoleon business. I should return in less than a month's time, and regret to inform you that you must make excuses for me at all of our social engagements until my return. Father and Mother look forward to your comforting company during this difficult time, and any of my correspondence that manages to make it through the lines will be sent to them. My brother Julian is also expected home soon from the war, and I'm sure you will make his acquaintance in my absence.
    I look forward to our reunion and the happy day of our nuptials. Until then, I remain,

    Faithfully yours etc.,

    A.H. Ranson

    Isabel felt tears well in her eyes as she threw the letter onto the secretary in the corner. All of her plans for the next month ruined! And even worse (for she did truly love him) Alistair in harm's way in France, of all places!
  2. Cannons were heard in the distance. Each thunderous boom rang like a tolling bell on the battle field, marking the death of a soldier. It was chaos. The air was heavy with smoke from artillery and filled with the macabre melody of gunfire. A man laid at his feet, his cold hands outstretched and grasping at his boots. The fallen soul gasped ad his final breath released a splattering flurry of red. BANG!

    Suddenly Julian Ranson jerked awake from his hellish dream to find himself not surrounded by the carnage of a battlefield, but rather the luxurious interior of one of his family’s coaches. He took in a deep breath trying to swallow down the fear that had just raged through his entire being. He had gone to war, hoping to aid in the fight against Napoleon. When he first began the journey he had been excited. The whole endeavor seemed like an adventure. He would be fighting against a tyrant, aiding his fellow man, all while making his own way into the world. It was another dream that had turned quickly into a nightmare.

    Taking out a handkerchief he blotted at the sweat that crowned his forehead. It would not do to arrive at his father’s estate looking like a mess. He had not wished to return home so quickly, but somehow felt a great relief at his father’s correspondence that demanded his return. The Earl had not wrote much on the matter, but it was enough to get him home. Julian sat back in the coach and watched the scenery pass by. They would be arriving very soon.

    When the coach finally stopped outside the magnificent building he had once called home, he let out a breath he did not realize he had been holding. Relief like no other flooded him. He was finally home. He left the coach quickly and started toward the door. The rest was a blur. He remembered saying hello and accepting greetings from a few servants until finally everything stopped moving with the quick swish of hunter green and the scent of peony.

    His mother held him tightly, laughing almost hysterically. “My sweet Julian! You are finally home!” He gave a weak chuckle and gave her frail form a gentle squeeze before parting. “Hello, mother.” His mother had never been one to hold back her devotion and love for her two sons and after so long without seeing this one, she wasn’t about to start. “Come. We have a lot to discuss.”

    She led him into Rose Room. It was a parlor aptly named for its pale pink walls and delicately white trim. The first thing he noticed, though, was not the new furniture but a pretty and young woman who looked rather upset. Confused Julian ran a hand through his dark curls and set his green eyes on his mother’s own. The older woman’s lips pursed into a very thin line. “Julian. I would like you to meet Lady Isabel Hale. She was engaged to be married to Alistair.”

    Julian’s brows furrowed at his mother’s strange wording. “What do you mean was?”
    “Julian.” His mother began. “Sit down. I have to tell you both something.”