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21 January 2008 @ 09:37 pm
Chapter Four of Haven  

Here it is. It may be a bit before I post Chapter Five as I'm still writing it. There is a ton of Isabella so far in the story, but Erik is coming up soon. Things just needed to be established. :) Hope you enjoy it.  

 


 

Chapter Four:

 

 

She stood silently, listening to her husband’s retelling of him and Erik’s unusual meeting.  Only when he finished, did she pale and sink into her chaise.

 

“This is sheer madness, Thomas.” Her voice was much firmer than normal, he noticed right away.

 

“Yes, Elizabeth, but it has been arranged and I fear there is nothing we can do to stop it.”

 

“To think, this poor girl, being removed from her home, from her vocation to move to another country to be the wife of a man she has never met.  All because her father could not keep his hands clean.”

 

Thomas sat down and held his wife’s hand.  “Yes, very sad, but very true. But who are we to judge the decision between two grown, responsible men?”

 

“Seemingly, Thomas, seemingly responsible.  If I did not know Erik so well I would assume they were both quite intoxicated when they struck this insane deal.”

 

Thomas could only chuckle, but slightly.  It was not wise to upset Elizabeth anymore than she already was.

 

“I will speak to him” she continued on, “surely he would listen to me, he always has in the past….”

 

“No, my dear.  Not this time.  His mind is quite set.  It is done.”

 

She paused and sighed.

 

“I suddenly feel so helpless, what am I to do, love?”

 

“Help the young woman get settled, perhaps to not feel so alone.” He pulled her hand to his lips ever so delicately, “after all, she is going to be dealing with a new life, a new future, she will need a friend.”

 

“Then a friend she shall have.”

 

 

Elizabeth Dutton could only shake her head, thinking back to the conversation between her and her husband a little over three weeks ago.  Even after all the time that had passed since then, she still couldn’t fathom, much less accept Erik’s decision.

 

She knew Lord Erik Renault to be one of the most intelligent businessmen she had ever seen.  He was always kind to her, even humorous at times.  He was always fair and never overly harsh with his staff. Yet, for such an attractive, eligible bachelor, when it came to the art of love, he could turn downright cold.  Fine ladies, the marrying type?  Those never appealed to him.

 

She was not ignorant, however.  Although Thomas would nervously skirt the issue, she had been told by Lillian on more than one occasion that Erik was spending his lonelier evenings with women… paid women.  Elizabeth knew why.  It was easier for Erik to seduce these women, seduce them, then send them away with a few coins in their purse.  No emotional attachment.  That was the key.  The less emotion he put into a woman, the better.

 

Something happened, she had told Thomas on their way home one evening last Spring after a botched attempt to have Erik court Lady Burrows.  Something in Erik’s past that caused him so much pain, that he refused to let his guard down around a woman that he could fall in love with.  After all, Lady Emelie Burrows was young, very beautiful and definitely had an eye for Erik.  Why would he not wish to court her?  But he barely spoke two words to her that evening, then retired to his library without a parting word, leaving her practically in tears.

 

But that was for another day’s recollection. 

 

Today, what was on Elizabeth’s mind was finding Miss Hawkins and preparing to apologize profusely for her untimely delay.

 

It was her fault, really.  Thomas had informed her that morning that the boat from America was expected, so determined to meet her as soon as she arrived to Erik’s estate, she chose to find her a proper welcoming gift. 

 

She’d heard briefly from the American man, Miss Hawkins’ father, that Isabella loved music. So, deciding to find her a music box, she began searching through the smaller vendors in the nearby village, but she found nothing she liked.  Determined to find her something to make her feel at home, she ordered her coach to take her into London.  There, she found a beautiful music box made of polish mahogany and hand painted with yellow flowers.  It played Braham’s Lullaby, one of her favorite melodies and she hoped it was one of Isabella’s as well.

 

So she was happy with the gift, but in doing so, she realized it was already late afternoon.  She only prayed that perhaps the boat was delayed or the ride from Southampton took longer than expected.  Elizabeth had already heard from Lillian that the staff was apprehensive at the prospect of an unknown Lady living there, so she knew they wouldn’t rush to greet her. 

 

And that thought made her terribly nervous.

 

Pulling up to the estate, Elizabeth saw Jarrod open the door and walk out to help her exit the carriage.

 

“Afternoon, my Lady.” He said, holding out his hand to her.

 

She took it and stepped out, looking around, “Good afternoon, Jarrod.  Has Miss Hawkins arrived?”

 

“Yes, my Lady.  She is in the foyer with Lord Erik.  He is introducing her to the staff.”

 

They approached the door, “Very well.  I hope she has been well taken care of so far.”

 

Jarrod scowled, immediately turning embarrassed, “Afraid not, my Lady.  She was left alone almost two hours before Lord Erik returned home.”

 

That made Elizabeth wince outwardly in annoyance.  “For heaven’s sake, why did no one greet and keep her company?  She may be American, but she is not a leper.”

 

“I would wish to say miscommunication, my Lady, but you know as I do, the staff was most unsettled about having a newcomer to the estate.  I, for my part, was unaware of her arrival until Lord Erik returned home.  Louis returned to the office to inform him that she had been taken to the house.  When Dùghall drove Lord Erik home, he was none the wiser. I believe they all assumed she would be greeted properly.  I have already made my apologies.”

 

Elizabeth merely nodded and steadied herself as Jarrod opened the door. What would she find?  An angry woman who had no interest in meeting anyone, or perhaps find a, downtrodden soul who was homesick and sobbing uncontrollably?   At this point, it was a toss up.

 

But what she certainly didn’t expect to find the foyer empty.

 

 

___________________________________________

 

 

“He gives you sexual pleasure.” He said, his voice had almost drained to nothing.

 

“Yes.” The woman answered flatly.

 

“Pleasure I could not.”

 

“Yes.”

 

“You are leaving me for him.”

 

“Yes, Erik.”

 

“But, we were happy, were we not?”  The man’s heart was breaking.  How could he have not seen this coming?  What did he do wrong?

 

“Happy?” the woman laughed out loud sarcastically, but just as fast, it died away and in its stead, her face turned blank.  “You know nothing of giving anyone happiness.  You spoiled, arrogant man.  You assumed all you had to do was choose me and I would just be more than happy to be on your arm, simply because of your name, your pedigree, your wealth.  I suppose I should have been happy, eh Erik? Honored that you chose me, a low life, and pulled me out of the gutter….”

 

“I gave you everything…”

 

“You gave me nothing!  It does not upset you that I am leaving you, Erik.  What upsets you is that, for the first time since your birth, you are being denied something that you want…”

 

“Stop it…” his anger grew inside like an impending erupting volcano.

 

“…and that tears you apart.”

 

“I said stop…”

 

“Control, you cannot control me any longer and you hate it.  I will not be your little puppet!”

 

Erik panted, his breath raspy, “You are not leaving me.”

 

“I am.”

 

“Not for him!”

 

“Yes, for him!

 

A crash, then…

 

“No!”

 

 

Erik’s thoughts returned to the present as he heard what appeared to be a door slam and two voices speaking.  One was a man…Jarrod and the other was louder, a female.  He removed his pocket watch and tossed it down on his desk.  Three-thirty.

 

Elizabeth, it must be.  After all, he’d been expecting her since the early morning.  She would have choice words for him.

 

If she chose to speak to him at all.

 

No, this was definitely not how he’d expected things to go. 

 

Isabella Hawkins.

 

The American woman had sat and listened to his almost fanatical instructions, never balking, not one time.  He must have made a wonderful first impression. Even he could hardly believe half of what had come out of his mouth, but with no regret, he knew it was necessary.

 

It was important that Miss Hawkins know, right from the beginning, that this was not an act of love, but of business, pure and simple.  Yet, he’d seen her and for a brief moment, all of that façade came close to slipping away.  She was in every way, the kind of woman he would have loved to…the kind of woman he did…see socially.  Except for her sharp tongue of course.  That was definitely not a trait of the younger, more timid English women Elizabeth had tried to set him up with in the past. 

 

And he found he was growing a preference to it.

 

 

___________________________________________

 

 

 

“I thought you said…” Elizabeth started, looking over at Jarrod.

 

“They were here, I assure you.  He must have dismissed them.  I could find…wait, my Lady!” Jarrod called out, running after the ever anxious Lady Sutton as she headed straight down the hallway to Erik’s library door.

 

“I will speak to him myself.”

 

“He is not up to receiving…” he closed his mouth quickly as she knocked.

 

Then gasped as she entered without a reply.  Even Lord Sutton himself always waited to be invited in.  No one was even remotely allowed to enter otherwise. 

 

But apparently, Elizabeth didn’t care.

 

And when he heard no protest from inside, he concluded that Lord Erik must not have cared either.

 

When Elizabeth walked inside, she found Erik behind his desk writing and her eyes quickly scanned the room.  He was alone.

 

She stood patiently and waited for him to speak.

 

She closed the door loudly to get his attention.

 

And continued to wait.

 

“Well?” she finally said impatiently when it seemed he wasn’t going to acknowledge her.

 

“Good afternoon.” His reply was short, never even looking up.

 

This was not like him at all.  No matter what, he always rose in her presence, offering his hand.  She knew his demeanor had been unusually harsh since the American man’s departure, but he always took a moment to be a gentleman.  Now, she didn’t know what to think. 

 

She coughed.

 

Silence.

 

“Where is she?”

 

“In the garden, Lillian prepared her some tea.”

 

“Do you find her…?” her words eluded her, momentarily.

 

“Find her what?”

 

“Acceptable.  Do you find her acceptable?”

 

“Within reason.”

 

“What on earth does that mean, Erik?”

 

Finally, he looked up. 

 

And felt ashamed of himself.

 

The sight of the always kind, warm hearted woman, wearing an upset and disappointed expression, caused him to soften slightly.  He held her in the highest esteem; certainly she didn’t deserve to be treated with such disrespect.  He scolded himself inside.

 

“My apologies,” He sighed with a short pause, “at this point, I am not sure what to think, actually.”

 

“It is not difficult, Erik.  Is she nice, friendly?”

 

“She was annoyed.”

 

“For being left alone, I do not blame her.”  She retorted sharply.  “Other than that, was she…?”

 

“She is in every way I could see, a good lady.”

 

“Very well.  And?”

 

He inhaled a deep breath and decided to let his feelings be known.  Besides, Elizabeth knew him too well and would do nothing but hound him otherwise, “She is bit rough around the edges, I suppose due to her long journey.  I found her lovely to look at and she was civil, once we began talking.  I found she was much friendlier with the staff as I introduced her to them.  She has a nice smile when she is inclined to show it.  Although, not much in my direction.  Granted, with my delay, I did not give her much to smile about. Is that what you wished to hear, Elizabeth?”

 

Did she just detect a bit of regret in his voice?  She was almost elated.

 

“Thank you, Erik.  That is all I wanted to hear.”

 

He rolled his eyes then asked, “What is that you have there?” noting the package in her hands.  It was wrapped in brown velvet and tied with light blue ribbon.

 

“A welcoming gift for Miss Hawkins.  Someone around here might as well at least try to make her feel as if she is welcome.”

 

Erik winced.  He’d dropped the ball on that one as well.  In his effort to keep the arrangement business-like, he’d completely forgotten his manners. He should have at least met Miss Hawkins with a dozen roses, considering she’d sailed across the ocean to marry him.  It was the least he could have done.

 

“Now, if you will excuse me, I shall go make my introduction and see if there is anything she needs, or desires.”

 

“I would assume she desires going home and forgetting this silly nonsense.”

 

Without a reply, Elizabeth walked past Erik and went out the side door to the garden, leaving only her scent behind that wafted past his nose. Although he would never tell a soul, he did miss the soft, natural scent of a proper lady nearby.  A stark contrast to the women he usually kept time with.  He inhaled and sighed.

 

Lucky man, Thomas is.  So very lucky.

 

There were so many times he did wish he could…but no, never would he open his heart to another lady again.  But there were viable alternatives.

 

Perhaps a call to one of his…favored women….would be in order.

 

 

 

_____________________________________________

 

 

“Do you find the garden to your liking?”

 

Isabella turned sharply at the sound of a most exuberant voice.  The woman that it came from appeared both gracious and charming.  A smile, finally, a genuine smile from someone that seemed anxious to meet her, not just an obliged member of Erik’s staff.

 

“Good afternoon and yes, I do.” She replied, confused, as she sat down her tea and began to stand.

 

“No, no…do not rise on my account.” Elizabeth went to her side, sitting on the large stone bench.  She took her hand, “You are indeed tired from your long journey, rest.”

 

“I suppose I’m rather tired at that.”  Isabella smiled.

 

“I am Lady Elizabeth Dutton, but please, do not call me anything but Elizabeth.” She held her hands tighter.  “I am so pleased to finally meet you in person. I anticipated your arrival for nearly a month now.”

 

In her sheer relief, Isabella almost gushed.  She recognized the woman’s name from Dùghall earlier that day.  The immediate assumption was that Lady Sutton would be much older, an almost snobbish English socialite.  Yet, from what Isabella could see, they could almost be of the same age and she was certainly not snobbish.  Could it be she’s already made a friend?  “Please, call me Isabella.  I’m pleased to meet you.”

 

“I do apologize for the lateness of my visit.  I had intended to be here when you arrived, but I was unavoidably detained.  I feel just horrible that you were treated so bad your first day here, but I do hope that has changed.” Elizabeth glared up at Lillian, who, upon her arrival, had slipped away from Isabella’s side and was playing with a flower nearby.

 

Lillian, who was rather shy for her twenty-four years, blushed profusely, “Oh no, ma’am…I have been seeing to her every need since I knew she was here.” She spoke quickly in her heavily cockney accented voice, so much so that Isabella had a difficult time understanding.  In fact, her ‘ma’am’ came out sounding more like ‘mum’, which drew a slight giggle every time she said it.

 

“Yes, Lillian has been quite nice, thank you.  She’d been spending the day fixing up my new room and didn’t know I was here.” Isabella agreed.  “In hindsight, I could have been louder in the foyer…”

 

“No, stop now.  None of this is your fault.  So, no more of that talk, right?”

 

This woman was too good to be true.

 

The smile returned to Elizabeth’s face.  “Now…on to the reason for my tardiness.” She set the small box she’d been holding in Isabella’s lap.

 

“What is this?” she asked her.

 

“A small welcoming gift for you.”

 

“That was not necessary, I…”

 

“Nonsense.  Please, open it.”

 

With an almost childlike grin, Isabella removed the ribbon and velvet covering (which Lillian took and put in her pocket so quickly she hardly had a chance to examine them) and opened the box.  She gasped.

 

“Oh goodness!” she slowly removed the music box, staring at it in fascination.  How did she know she loved music boxes?

 

“I was hoping you liked the color and style of it.”

 

“I do, it’s just lovely!” she exclaimed, opening the lid of the music box.

 

Braham’s Lullaby.  She remembered it from her childhood.  It was one of the songs that she learned to play on the piano when she was a kid.  It was soothing and immediately made her feel less homesick.

 

“Is it a favorite of yours?” Elizabeth asked.

 

“Oh yes.  This is the first time I have ever heard the melody from a music box.  Where did you find it?”

 

“I purchased it in London, at a beautiful store there.  The man hand makes them himself.  Perhaps one day we could go there and you could see his other work.” Elizabeth continued to watch her eyes glisten as she turned the music box in her hands, examining each and every inch.

 

“I would love that.  And thank you for such a wonderful gift.”

 

“I heard from your father that you loved music, do you have other music boxes?”

 

“Only one but I didn’t bring it with me.  My grandmother’s.  I don’t believe my mother would have been able to part with it.” She laughed softly.

 

“Well you have a new one and pretty soon, if you wish, you can find more to add and you can build quite a collection.”

 

“Oh, in time, I’m sure…” she dreamed wistfully, “Once I make some money, somehow.”

 

“There is no need for you to make money, Erik has more than enough to buy you what you desire.”

 

“I can’t possibly spend his money on such things…”

 

“Why not?”

 

“Because it’s not my money.” Isabella answered.  My God, did any woman earn her own money over here?

 

“Nonsense, Isabella.  His money is yours now that you will be married.” Elizabeth tried to assure her.  “Yes, I know that this is strictly for business, but he has enough to spare.”

 

“Do you and Lord Sutton have children, Elizabeth?”

 

She smiled at her, “It is Thomas and yes, we have one son, Alexander.  He is eleven years old.  But he does not live here with us, he is off at school.  We returned three days ago from taking him to the academy in Rochford.  It is his fourth year there and he is quite the scholar.  He is also a fine athlete.  But I do go on, do I not?” she let out a giggle.

 

“Understandably so, you’re a proud mother.”

 

“And I understand you are a widow?”

 

Isabella stiffened, but managed to nod.

 

“I am so terribly sorry.  Did you have children?”

 

“Oh no, we were waiting before having children.  He died two years into our marriage.” She said quickly, then let it just lay there, choosing to say no more and hoping Elizabeth wouldn’t pry.  When she didn’t, Isabella continued somberly, “You know then that Lord…I mean…Erik…wants children, right?”

 

“Yes, I know.” Elizabeth gave her a sympathetic, but supportive look.  “He only requires one, maybe two at the most, I hear.  And for all that, you will have freedom, prestige and the run of the house.”

 

 

 

Isabella sighed.  She didn’t want the run of the house, she just wanted to go home.  Yet, even as nice as Elizabeth was, it seemed she supported the idea just as the others did.

 

“My Lady?” Jarrod came into the garden.

 

Both women turned around, then laughed at their own confusion, then glanced at one another, thankful for the tension breaker.

 

“Which one did you wish to see, Jarrod?” Elizabeth asked.

 

“You, my Lady.  Lord Thomas has arrived.”

 

With a smile, she took Isabella’s hand, “Come, I will be proud to introduce you to my husband.  Like myself, he is quite anxious to meet you.”

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags:
 
 
How I'm feeling: contemplative*sigh*
 
 
 
Jackie/JJ - I don't do Happily Ever Afterjackiesjunkie on January 22nd, 2008 05:16 am (UTC)
I'm really enjoying the way Isabella's character is developing. :-)
Crazy Cheeky Girly Geek: debrakerrgreeneyedmissy on January 22nd, 2008 01:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! The next chapter will have a bit more of an Erik focus to it, but as I'm writing it now, I'm not sure just how much yet. I'm having an early breakfast meeting with my muses and plot bunnies to figure it all out. I just hope the plot bunnies show up, sometimes they don't get along well with the muses. :)
winterlillies: Sean Bean's handwinterlillies on January 25th, 2008 02:37 am (UTC)
I like the layout over at toxicscarlet-very victorian feel! oooh new name! Nice! I left a review for you over in my lj, but did a custom group setting to it so you will be the only one able to view it. :)

Oh and I better not let my historian muse visit toxicscarlet-he will leave me and never come back! I don't know about the novel muse-she's been MIA since I came to Glasgow.
Crazy Cheeky Girly Geek: vintage gown in bluegreeneyedmissy on January 25th, 2008 04:19 am (UTC)
Oh thanks! Glad you like the layout, I love anything that's Victorian inspired. ;)

I'll go check out the review on your LJ. Also, future Chapters of Haven will be posted on toxicscarlet and i'm copying these over there as well. That way I can make sure I keep everything in one spot.

My novel muse is drinking pina coladas in Mexico, come to think about it, he's probably with yours. :)