My Lovely Moonlight Bride: Episode 7
When Aldrich realized what he had one, he broke the kiss and pulled away from her. It wasn’t in his behaviour to kiss a lady without her consent. He wasn’t that ill-mannered. He had been swept by the aura that she exuded. But he was himself now. He would never repeat this mistake.
“I am sorry Milady; I shouldn’t have kissed you without your permission.” He hoped he hadn’t ruined his chance of getting to know her more. He hoped he hadn’t gotten her upset and painted a bad image of himself.
He watched her face closely, for any sign of discomfort. When she smiled, he felt relieved.
“You do not need to apologize.” She smiled and shrugged.
“What is your name?” Lady Lucy asked.
Aldrich was surprised that she didn’t know he was the Duke. Was she pulling his legs or was she serious?
“The butler made that clear when I entered the hall.”
The lady glared at him confusedly, “the hall was very noisy. Besides, I escorted my friend to powder her nose. You lured me outside here. Tell me your name, or I get back to the hall.” She threatened.
Aldrich was surprised at her outburst. No lady had ever spoken to him this way. He liked her instantly. All his life, he had dreamt of being with a woman who had her own mind. Not some lady that was groomed to meet with his desires. He had a feeling that even if she knew he was the Duke of Wandsworth, that she wouldn’t be very much impressed.
“You are free to return to the hall. We both know that you’ll be bored to death.”
She laughed, “Is that what you think?” She narrowed her eyes on him.
“Yes,” Aldrich folded his strong arms against his chest and watched her expression closely.
“My brother would mount the stage soon. His poetry isn’t boring. I shall not miss it on your account.”
“Who is your brother?” He asked. Could she be related to Elan in any way? That would explain the resemblance. He now understood why he felt he had seen the lady somewhere before now.
Lucy laughed, “What is your name?”
Aldrich realized they weren’t going anywhere with the questions, so he decided to introduce himself.
Instantly, the name rang a bell and Lucy suddenly realized that she had kissed the Duke of Wandsworth! He was the man that her friend was supposed to be engaged to. She felt sick. She was morbid with fear. How could she ever explain to Ariana that the kiss was a mistake?
“Are you alright?” Aldrich noticed that her face had grown pale.
“Yes, yes. I think we should return to the hall.”
This surprised Aldrich. She had been very comfortable with him and now this?
“What is wrong Lucy?” He called her by name.
“Nothing, I think it is inappropriate for us to stay outside, while a show is going on.” She pushed a smile that hurt her beautiful facial features.
He didn’t want to argue with her. He respected people and their wishes; his father had trained him to be that way. But deep down, Aldrich felt she was running away from something. Was it the kiss? Was she someone’s betrothed?
His heart sank as he imagined Lucy being with another man. Although he had just met her, he had come to like her. And he was interested in knowing her better.
“Did I do or say something wrong?” He wouldn’t let her go that easily.
“No,” Lucy shook her head.
“Alright, where do you live?” He was desperate.
“You don’t need to know that.”
Those were her last words, before she moved away from him and rushed back to the Great Hall; leaving him alone and empty again.
“Lucy Wesley of Ox-Dale,” his lips moved in whisper of her name. A gentle breeze rustled his hair. The Duke had found the woman that suited his heart. He would pursue her. He will not be deterred. Maybe his mother had been right all along. Maybe he was ripe for his own Duchess.
Aldrich couldn’t wait to tell his cousin all about the Lady he had met.
Back in the Great Hall, Lucy blushed as she walked back in. Maybe it was the lovely dress she wore, or maybe people knew she had just been kissed by the Duke of Wandsworth. She felt ashamed that she had let him kiss her, and more ashamed that she had enjoyed it.
No man had ever kissed her before. The Duke was her first! What was she even thinking? Lucy suddenly realized that she had betrayed her friend by letting Aldrich kiss her like that.
“Oh no, what would Ariana think of me?” Her heart began to race. All these years, Ariana had helped her out when she had no one. When the castle had fallen, and all the servants had abandoned her and her brother, Ariana had taken her in and comforted her.
Though the kiss had been passionate and pleasant, it launched upon her a great burden; one that she wasn’t prepared to carry. Like the pure soul that she was, Lucy Wesley decided that she would find her friend in the Great Hall and confess her misdeed immediately. She didn’t keep secrets from Ariana. She cherished their friendship.
Her golden eyes darted across the thickly populated hall. People were moving towards the entrance, and it seemed the show had come to an end. She had missed her brother’s poem! Lucy pulled in a deep breath and continued to move through the crowd.
It didn’t take long before she sighted Ariana in a sea of males. They were all fascinated by her beauty and her sense of humour. Yes, Ariana had that about her. She was like a magnet that attracted all the pins in a basket. Even the Duke would equally fall for her. Lucy knew she couldn’t match her best friend’s grace or charm; she wasn’t jealous. What she had for Ariana was pure adoration.
Interrupting Ariana from the meeting she had would be rude, so she decided to chill somewhere. She noticed a table where leftover wine was being served again. Lucy didn’t waste time. Maybe this wine would wash her guilt away.
“Um, can I have a glass of brandy?” Lucy stuttered as she reached the table. She knew it was unladylike to drink in public, but she didn’t care. She didn’t have any suitor watching her. She just wanted to feel relaxed and prepare herself for the confession.
The waiter was about serving her when she felt a soft tap on her shoulder. Lucy quickly turned. She found a blue eyed man with auburn hair, smiling at her. Maybe she was imagining things, but he resembled the Duke somehow. She hadn’t seen this man before.
“Good evening…” She said unsmiling.
“Lady Lucy of Ox-Dale, you shouldn’t be drinking.” He shrugged.
Who was this man and how did he know her name?
“Um, I haven’t met you before,” she started in a nervous voice.
“Of course, forgive my manners. My name is Beauregard Clairborne, cousin to the Duke of Wandsworth.” The man took off his hat and bowed.
Her heart skipped at the mention of the Duke’s name. She hadn’t been imagining after all. The stranger was a relative of Aldrich.
“How nice to meet you,” she flashed a smile.
“Nicer to stand in your presence milady.” Without her permission, he grabbed her hand and dropped a kiss upon it. This made Lucy quite uncomfortable. She felt Beau was flirting with her.
She quickly pulled her hand away after he dropped his lips and fetched the glass from the waiter. His blue eyes were enchanting no doubt, but they held something devious and mischievous; something that disturbed her. Unlike the Duke, Beau wouldn’t keep a lady’s attention for too long.
“Yes I am,” Lucy answered, wondering where he was headed.
“Your brother is a skilled poet I must say. He is good with words,” he added.
Lucy only smiled; she didn’t have anything to add to the conversation. She just wished that Beau would leave her alone to drown in her misery.
“Let me leave you to yourself. I hope our paths cross again. I will love to spend some time with you.”
Lucy was certain Beauregard had interest in her. But she could never go close to him or the Duke again.
“I am engaged Sir. And my fiancé is a very jealous man.” Lucy pulled a quick one on him. She had to put him to his place; else he would complicate her life. Once she was done with her confession to Ariana, she would find a suitable enterprise for herself. She had to invest in her inheritance, because as things stood, her brother had wasted all of his’. And if the castle was to continue, she needed enough money to run it.
Beau had noticed the way his cousin had stared at Lucy the whole night. Lucy and Aldrich were on the same table. Only a fool wouldn’t notice the powerful attraction that they shared. It wasn’t long before Aldrich left to take some air, soon after she had joined him.