Thursday, January 28, 2010


For chapters 1, 2 and 3 simply click on the number.

I believe this is one of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres's
Chapter Four

Eli was back at the Stuart’s in St James Square at ten the following morning and despite the unsuitability of the hour, he was immediately granted an audience with the distraught Baron.

“Lillian has been here,” the old man said once he and Eli were seated in his library, “And she was without remorse.”

“It matters not, for I’ve come to ask for Jaclyn’s hand,” Eli said with kind assurance.

“It’s more than I could have hoped for her and I thank you for it. Not many in your position would have granted one that had fallen as far as she such a turn.”

“I could hardly do less after the way she protected me,” Eli said in earnest. “She will always have a friend in me.”

“It’s been so long since I’ve heard someone outside our family speak well of her,” Lord Stuart said with sad eyes. “It’s all so fragile, isn’t it? And yet we take so much of it for granted.”

“That’s all behind her now,” Eli vowed.

“Thank you nonetheless, Ravensworth,” Lord Stuart said with offered hand and barely contained emotion.

Eli took his hand then the two parted ways. Eli stepped into the hallway where he was accosted by a pale, drawn Jaclyn, “I wonder if you could grant me a moment?” she asked.

He followed her to a little salon at the back of the house where she hurriedly shut the door before offering him a chair and taking the one directly across from his.

“Lillian has been here.”

“Yes, I know.”

“I was not permitted to see her but my mother said she admitted to her part in it so there is no reason for you to feel obligated, you see.”

“Did she also tell you that my Cousin Brian and Charlotte were the masterminds behind it?”

“No,” she said incredulously, “But then that cannot be for Charlotte loves and considers you a friend.”

“No, my dear. Her father loves my fortune whilst she loves my pretty and disloyal cousin.”

“And now she has ruined our reputations in order to marry where she pleases?”

“Yes, it appears so.”

“Surely you can’t mean you don’t know?”

“My only source thus far has been Brian and though I have lost all faith in him I saw the truth of it the instant he confessed.”

“But that simply will not do. You must go to Charlotte at once so you may have her side in this.”

“You and I will wed in the morning and I’ll endeavour always to be, for you, a good husband,” Eli said with patience over her clear denial.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“There is nothing else but for you to make your peace with this friend.”

“Don’t call me that,” Jaclyn charged, “For you haven’t the slightest idea what friendship entails. I’m here attempting to see you well and you’re keeping vital, possibly injurious, information from me.”

“See now, that’s where you’re wrong,” Eli said with calm. “All I do now is to spare you hurt.”

“If it’s all the same I’d rather have the truth.”

“All right,” he said with heavy sigh and measured pause before repeating all Brian told him.

“With child?”


“And you do not want her explanation?”

“How long have you known Charlotte?”

“Nearly fifteen years.”

“And in all that time have you ever known her to take an uncalculated risk?”

“No, but I also don’t know her to be callous and unfeeling.”

“Jaclyn listen to me,” Eli said with steady sure voice, “We have been deceived by some of our dearest and no offered solace will justify it.”

“Are you very heartbroken?”

“I’m not able the feel much beyond my outrage at current.”

“I think you and I ought to go see her.”

“What’s the matter with you?”

“Here, mine is the natural reaction,” Jaclyn said defensively. “For heaven’s sake, you’re sitting there offering me marriage with your heart devastated. Surely, you see how troublesome that is?”

“Truth to tell, I’m more disappointed in my friend than devastated at the betrayal and as for the rest we must marry, for your family’s sake as well as mine.”

“You’re kind to say so but we both know that is far from the truth,” she said with a miserable smile. “You’re a young, handsome, wealthy duke and not even a scandal involving the bed of some long disgraced maiden will change that overmuch.”

“Perhaps, but you did save my life –”

“Barely that.”

“Yes, that. And since you did you are now responsible for me.”

“That hardly seems fair.”

“What has fairness to do with anything? We are friends, you and I,” Eli said with conspiratorial grin.

“Scarcely that –”

“Here there is enough of that. I trust you Jaclyn and with my title and fortune there are not many I’m able to. Besides, you think I’m handsome.”

“Oh, this is lovely. I’m here racked with guilt over you having to marry me and you’re laughing at me.”

“Just so you know going forth,” he said suddenly serious. “If we are to be happily married you are going to have to suspend your remorse at our beginning. In fact, starting now I want our foundation to be about something other than their manipulation and our acceptance.”

“All right, have you a suggestion as to what that ought to be?”

“Friendship is as good a place to begin as any I suppose.”

“There is irony in that I think for without what they did we wouldn’t have this trust to which we now cling.”

“What’s the matter with you?” demanded an incredulous Eli.

“There is nothing wrong with me. I just don’t want us deluding ourselves into believing something that isn’t. We know nothing of each other and can’t rightly call what we share friendship when all it is, is a shared wound.”
“You’re not an optimist are you?”

“Not in matters where I stand to lose so much,” she said with measure before surprising them both with a frank admittance. “There was a moment last night after I came to see you when I wondered what it would be like to be your wife and…”

“Go on tell me,” he prompted.

“It’s been so very long since I’ve allowed myself to even entertain the ideal of marriage let along with one so far out my grasp.”

He said nothing to this. He simply reached out his hand, palm up as an offered invitation for her to take hold. She understood right away and placed her hand in his. It was such a simple thing and yet it meant everything to her. He enveloped her hand in his, all warm and strong then he said, “Well within your grasp.”

“You are the kindest man,” she said with a damp eyed smile.

“Does that mean you’ll have me?”

“There is no one I would rather marry, but –”

“Brilliant,” he said with a smile all his own, “For I already procured the license and assured your father I would.”

“Please your grace –”

“Worth or Eli if you prefer,” he interjected once more.

“Eli,” she repeated indulgently. “I feel you ought to know precisely the sort of social ruin marrying me could bring about for you and any children we may have.”

“Because of the portrait you mean?”

“Yes, the fallout was tremendous and still persists.”

“It won’t once you are my Duchess,” he said with reassuring squeeze to her hand, “So now say you’ll marry me?”

“I’ll marry you.”

“Good? Now tell me where did you learn to paint like that?”

“Charlotte told you I painted it?”

“No, it was Brian.”

“I see,” she said with something like disappointment at Charlotte for having betrayed her confidence before answering his question. “I learned most everything from my mother and grandfather. She taught me watercolours and he oils but you shouldn’t worry I’ll bring shame to you for I’ve given it up.”

“You have?”

“Yes, I have in fact nothing remains of that period in my life except the damage done to my

reputation,” she assured him. “Not one canvas, paintbrush or drawing it’s all gone.”

“Not all.”

“You kept it?”

“I couldn’t bring myself to destroy it.”

“How did you come by it?

“I bought it at an open market in Kent,” he said almost apologetically. “I was struck by the honesty of your expression and wondered how a girl so very young could appear so knowledgeable. I’ve looked at it a thousand times and besides the obvious beauty of the subject there is an intangible that I’ve not, until now, been able to place…”

“Won’t you tell me what it is?”

“Light. It radiates from you and you captured it perfectly in your portrait.”

“It’s strange you should say so for after nearly five years of no drawing late nights, I put pencil to paper in an attempt to capture your light but was unable to.”

She stood then and took a few steps towards him as if in a trance, her eyes unblinking and discerning as she looked at his face from one angle then the next.

“I kept getting it wrong,” she said with scrutinizing fingers over his brow, “I thought if I could make a study of you. Learn the placement of your shadows and strip away your layers.”

She held his face cradled in both her hands upturned to her dissection. Fair Eli, with his strawberry-blond hair thick and wavy cut short in the style of a Roman Emperor, his eyes so dark blue they almost read as violet. He had a wide brow, aquiline nose and full soft lips that stood at odds with the hard lines of his chin, jaw and cheek.

His face was made up of brilliant contrasts worry lines at brow and forehead, laugh lines marking the corner of his eyes while a genuine intensity filled their depths. Jaclyn ran her fingers over the lines at his forehead and wondered for the first time what it was he had to worry about.

Eli could see the question in her eyes and was curious to know what on his face had so fascinated her and asked, “What do you see?”

“A good open face that presents well to the world but also holds more than it reveals All that and it’s beautifully symmetrical. You, my grace, are a very beautiful man,” she said candidly.

“Thank you, Jaclyn,” he said his face serene and unsmiling.

She now finished with her inspection let go of his face with every intention of returning to her seat, when he in one decisive move stood up. Eliminating the space between them and successfully turning the moment into something else entirely with a simple, “My turn.”

Take my care and love when you go,


  1. Well done Simone, lovely as always.

    Ok I was distracted, that book on the right, a girl getting kissed, while sleeping. Who made it? What is it called?

  2. and btw, meeeh too, i adore gardening, i LOVE plants!!

  3. I just read chapter one and want to read more but am out of time...i'll be back!


  4. I love your blog and content..I'll be back many many times to spend reading ! Thank you so much ! xoxo, paulette

  5. I am impressed, as always, by your talent. I am awaiting the next chapter. : )

  6. So now I have to go back and read 1,2 and 3! I love when a chapter ends and you just can't wait to see what happens!

    Hey, I saw that you have Judith McNaught on the side for some of your inspiration in writing. I love all of her books, along with the two you listed! I think my absolute favoirte of hers is Whitney,My Love although I love Paradise as well, but it is not a historical....Ok, I just love them all;)

    Blessings to you and thanks for the wonderful read!

  7. You're a very intriguing & clever writer. enjoyed it.

  8. An artfully woven conversation between Jaclyn and Eli. Discreetly coquettish, smart, subtly emotional, and revealing, all at once! Brilliantly done, my dear! I look forward to the next chapter, and the next, and the next... :-)


  9. This was beautifully done, Simone. I have to admit I'm very happy they've come to an agreement about marriage. :-)

  10. Ooo...skimmed this and I think I'll go read the other parts first! ;)

  11. I just adore how you find the perfect classical pictures to accompany your wonderful stories.

  12. And the plot thickens...bumpbumpbummmmmmm!

  13. My thanks to each of you for coming by to read my story and I'll be sure to call on each of you in a day or two.
    Blodeuedd I'm almost certain it is a Daniel Maclise but give me a few days and I'll make sure.
    All my love,

  14. Oh, how lovely, as always. I've just caught up. Keep on doing what you do, it's wonderful! :)

    Take care,

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