My Lovely Moonlight Bride: Episode 15
The glass tumbled from his hands and fell to the ground, shattering into pieces. Sweat trickled down the side of his face. He moved away from the table and turned his back on his mother.
“What is this madness I hear about you Aldrich?” She began.
Aldrich boiled on the inside. It seemed his mother would prove herself an appropriate vessel to channel his frustrations. At once, he swirled round and faced her.
“Mind the way you speak to me mother. I hold higher authority than you.”
“You are clearly drunk on stale wine! You cannot marry Lucy Wesley! I object to such a union. I noticed that your cousin has been out of the castle. He told me everything…”
Aldrich hadn’t expected Beau to run his mouth like a little boy. He had expected him to be wise and discreet. Well, he had nothing to hide anymore.
“You do not have any reason to war with me. She is engaged and I must never have her.” Aldrich’s shoulders sagged.
“Even if she wasn’t, I could never allow you to bring such vile blood into the Wandsworth clan,” The Duchess said.
Her confidence amused Aldrich.
“Mother, I have never found a woman as special as Lucy. She is finely bred and responsible. I understand your fears, but she is nothing like Elan. She is different. If their father had left the castlette in her hands, she would have created more avenues for wealth. Lucy is fire. She has purpose. And if she wasn’t taken by another man, nothing on this earth would have stopped me from marrying her; not even you or my late father’s ghost.”
The Duchess couldn’t believe her son would speak to her this way. She gritted her teeth angrily and curled her fingers into a fist.
“You disrespect me with your words, but I will forgive you. You are my son.”
“I meant no disrespect. I am a man in love. Surely, you know what this feels like. You and father had the best marriage in the society. You were happy. Your union made me the man I am.”
At the mention of the man that she loved, Elena’s heart softened towards her son’s predicament. From the forlorn look in his eyes, she realized that Aldrich was deeply in love with the Lady Wesley. He was a very sensitive and emotional man. And if care wasn’t taken, he may never be happy with another woman. The thought of this scared Elena.
“You are right about I and your father, but our union was blessed. We came from two important families and we merged together to build Wandsworth. I understand your love for Lucy, but your position in the society is of greater importance. The baron of Ox-Dale is not the kind of in-law that I would want.”
For the first time, Aldrich realized how selfish his mother was. She didn’t care about his feelings. She was more interested in the standing of the Wandsworth name, forgetting his happiness.
“The Wesleys may not be wealthy, but they still occupy a powerful place in Ox-Dale,” he countered.
Elena stiffened. It was obvious that Aldrich wasn’t over Lucy, even with the latest discovery about her. If care wasn’t taken, he could scare her fiancé away and marry her by force. Elena could never allow this to happen.
“I have arranged a meeting between you and the daughter of the Marquees. In two days, they shall come around. You will marry her, and make me a proud mother.”
Aldrich said nothing. His mind still dwelt with Lucy and the kiss they had shared under the moonlight. He had to see her one more time. He had to look into her eyes. He wanted to hear her deny what they shared with her lips. Until then, he had no answer for his mother.
“As you wish,” he replied calmly.
He would ride to Ox-Dale at the middle of the night. Aldrich made up his mind to meet the baron and his sister tonight. He wouldn’t take anyone with him, not even his cousin, Beauregard. He would find his answers tonight.
Lucy had pestered her brother to share with her his burden, but Elan refused. He couldn’t drag Lucy into the danger he’d found himself. He wanted her to leave Ox-Dale, before nightfall. Only then, would she be safe.
“I cannot tell you more Lucy. I know you wouldn’t understand, but you have to trust me.”
Lucy scoffed, “Trust you? From the first time that Beauregard presented himself to me, I had a bad feeling about him. If he is trying to frame you for a crime that you did not commit, don’t you think it is best that you share this secret?”
Elan’s eyes were pale. Perspiration covered his facial skin. He was deeply worried about something. Lucy wished there was something that she could do to help her brother out of whatever he had gotten himself entangled in.
“Are you in great debt? Is this the reason Beau is trying to frame you?” Lucy wondered.
Elan rose from the chair he occupied, and walked straight to the window. He yanked the silky curtains apart and stared into the street. The weather was dull. The brightness of the sun was diminishing. Lucy had to leave Ox-Dale, whether she liked it or not.
“Enough! I will no longer entertain your questions.” Angrily he turned around and faced her. He couldn’t understand this passionate reason for her stubbornness. He knew that Lucy cared about him, but that wasn’t enough reason that she would risk her life.
In all her years on earth, she had never seen her brother this angry. Elan’s face resembled a grotesque figure. She had angered him by her persistent questioning. Lucy knew she had no choice but to comply. Trusting Elan wasn’t something she would ordinarily want to do, but he seemed honest this time around.
“I am sorry. I shall get my things and travel.” Her lips moved in apology and acceptance of his will for her.
“You shall go with some guards. I do not want you travelling unguarded,” he pronounced.
Lucy objected with a shake of her head. Elan had pushed her out of their home without any explanation. He didn’t owe her any protection.
“If I must leave, I will go to Islington by myself. I do not need your guards or your protection. You have driven me out without a reason. I am obeying you as my older brother and nothing more.”
Elan raised a hand, he wanted to argue, but her words made him understand that he had treated Lucy unfairly.
“The road to Islington is dangerous at night. You could encounter thieves or raiders. Please, Lucy, listen to me.”
She spun on her heel and made for her room. She would pack her things and rush over to Ariana’s house. Lucy missed her friend. Maybe paying Ariana a visit at such a time wasn’t a bad idea at all. She couldn’t wait to hear Ariana’s explanation about her sudden marriage to the Duke; the same man that Ariana had advised her to love.
As Lucy ran her eyes over her wardrobe, she imagined what Ariana’s life would be like. Her best friend was in love with another man. How would she be with the Duke?
Briefly, the passionate kiss she had shared with Aldrich flashed in her mind; the mating of lips; the dance of tongues and his warm hands on her back. Aldrich was a perfect lover, and she missed him.
“I love him,” she confessed, head buried in her wardrobe.
Lucy had never felt this way for a man before. Aldrich was the first man to tear the veil that shielded her young heart from abuse and pain. He had offered himself to her that night; but all her expectations of him had fled, when he had introduced himself as the Duke of Wandsworth.
Unhappily and sluggishly, Lucy gathered a few clothes; while making a mental note of how many days she planned to stay in Islington. She couldn’t bear the thought of Ariana being happy for the rest of her days; neither could she bear the thought of Aldrich being married to another.
Lucy decided to spend just a night in Islington. She had relatives to the South of England. Once the night had broken its shell, she would ride for Tamarin; the place of her mother’s people.
When she was done, the sun had completely faded. In her place, the moon began to ascend, and the stars showed their lovely faces. This reminded her of the first kiss she had shared with Aldrich; for it had taken place, under the moonlight.
Lucy moved to the barn and fetched the strongest horse in the castlette. He was a nightrider. And he would lead her to Islington.
“I am sorry Lucy, but I cannot let you leave without protection,” Elan stood on her way.