Keep your friends close…

Before I share this weeks installment, I would like to make a few comments. I had started this post with the title Reality Sets In, but in the end – it didn’t fit what I wrote. I had every intention of writing more, but I caught that nasty cold going round. I actually only managed two sentences for main project between Thursday and Friday. Good sentences, sure…but still. Two. Sentences. Twenty-eight words. 

Because I was not able to write as much as I wanted, I hope to make up for it over the next few days. We’ll see. 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this small installment. I’ve a few days off this week so I do plan a page to explain my slightly alternate England. 

Now then…

 

As Celeste danced off to her batch, the memories came flooding back, searing into Thomas’ brain.

It had started just two days prior, with the Council of the Horde meeting to elect the new Elder. He was passed over. Again.

The Elder came from the House of the South; and had done so for generations. When illness ripped away his father’s vision, the Council met. At age seventeen, he had been deemed too young, too rash. Twelve years later, the usurper died of old age, and once again the Council met. Just weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday, and still the answer came back: too rash.

The sting of rejection surfaced once more, bitter bile at the back of his throat. To be denied his birthright – he might well have been stripped of his title. Likely, his father would do just that when presented with the notorious woman he could now claim as daughter-in-law.

Misery enveloped him, immobilized him. He wanted to shrink away to nothing, to let the humiliation wash him away. Curling into a ball, he curse the council – and his father – for being correct.

His actions were rash. Those of someone living in the moment, in the NOW, rather than looking at the big picture.

Twenty minutes later, Celeste returned from her bath, smelling of sunshine and daisies. She could not wait to leave for her new home, the family estate in Lincolnshire. Having little patience for the various tantrums of men, she ignored the ridiculous self-pity taking place upon her large bed.

“Tell me husband,” she said, relishing the word she never thought to acquire, ”when do we set for home?”

“Home? You mean Summer Haven?” He referred to the official name of the family estate; why would she wish to go there? “You wish to leave the glitz and glamour of London for an estate in the wilds of Lincolnshire?”

“I told you at the start: I wish to reinvent myself. It is time the past became The Past. I will come to London in a few years, once my notoriety has died down. Until then, I shall immerse myself in peaceful anonymity.” Looking him square in the eye, she continued, “I want respectability, my lord. You didn’t win me over with foolish promises of love but rather staid friendship. It is all I want.”

“You think marriage to me will bring you respectability?” Clearly, the king’s madness was catching.

Hours later, Thomas stood at the door of Celeste’s comfortable home, saying good-bye to the last of the wedding celebration attendees. Not friends, as she had mistakenly called them. If he were to take away anything from this, Thomas understood at least two things: his wife held unending charm and poise, and these were no friends of his.

What kind of person leaves their respectable wife at home to take their doxy to a wedding celebration, he wondered.

Celeste bore the challenge well. Rather than shrieking in the manner of a boorish fishwife, she stood strong, smiling graciously.

Closing the door on the back of the last guest, Thomas expected to be met with a wife channeling that fishwife. Instead, he found Celeste helping clear the last remnants of the meal from the table in her small dining room.

Standing at the dining room entrance, Thomas marvelled at the dark beauty of the woman he now called wife. She was too dark to be considered a Diamond, with her swarthy skin and inky locks. Harley might be married to the Dragon Queen already, but Thomas knew he had the prettier bride. Likely, the bride Harley took to bed would be a whey-faced inbred monster. He was definitely coming out on top.

Friendship. She wanted his friendship. Likely no one before him valued her mind. And why should they not be friends? Marriage to a friend sounded undeniably better than an arranged marriage with a stranger.

With a smile, Thomas found himself letting go of the bitter feelings and anger. Life is too short for such nonsense,he thought.

“Where would you like to travel for our honeymoon, wife? The sands of Egypt? Perhaps the wilds of Africa? The world is yours for the taking, my dear.” Pulling his wife close, Duncan grew hard as lust surged through him.

“Must we go anywhere? Can we not spend our honeymoon at  Summer Haven?” Celeste moaned as Thomas’ tongue trailed down her neck.

 

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