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One More Chance

Earth

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a part of One More Chance, by Jane Storm.

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Jane Storm holds sovereignty over Earth, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

496 readers have been here.

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Earth

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Earth is a part of One More Chance.

14 Characters Here

Vasile (Basil) [3] The Divine Messenger
Annabelle Penclave [2] The underdog of pharmaceutical and bio-chemistry.
Julien Augustus [1] Lord of Magnolia Manor
Adelia Chevalier [0] "The flowers have bloomed..."
Helmut Jaegar [0] "Which, if not victory, is yet revenge."
Maximilian Uliara [0] An illusionist looking to enjoy a noble party
Duncan MacCraigh [0] Scotsman. Soldier. Smartass.
Valian De Leon [0] a very odd person with a weird humor
Genevieve Mayfair [0] Lady of Magnolia Manor

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John knew what the woman was likely thinking, and that was the supposed honor of his rank and profession. The Englishman wasn't blind nor deaf. He knew that many a fighting man was nothing more then a beast with a uniform, even those with the badges of rank upon their uniform. And where there was no bestial nature there was vain pride in the weight of their gold embroidered uniforms. But the Empire needed fighting man and sometimes you had to take the bad with the good. Men such as these were fine, and even desirable on the field and when the cannon roared. They proved themselves steady under fire and capable of heroic acts despite their natures. But it was during peace time that they became a worry, the Navy simply did not permit them much leeway, keep them busy and everything was fine. Turn a blind eye to occasional bouts of the drunkard and a ship ran just fine. But never let them forget the discipline of the service and don't turn too many blind eyes. The trick really was to know when to crack the whip and when to let things slide.


The captain helped the Lady up as it was apparent she decided he was indeed honorable enough and introduced herself. The name seemed to suit her though John could not have said why even if his life depended on it. " John Arbuthnot Fisher at your service milady." John replied ,in that carefully courteous tone, with a formal bow before he straightened. " And I shall be more then glad to be held to that promise Lady Alayna. And should this happen again I will more then glad as well to be of service again." John added with a smile, then realizing his gross error of judgement schooled his face back into that carefully courteous mask.

Really a smile is what does it for you. The silly comments about water and nightmares don't do it. The feeling of her shoulder. No it is a bloody smile that does it for you. His pragmatic side despaired of ever getting through the chaos of John's thoughts.

" I believe you were on the first floor if I remember the arrangements correctly." John spoke as he strolled to the music rooms door and opened them using one arm to keep them open.

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Seeing the captain stand up, Alayna had forgotten how tall he was. He looked to be around six feet which was tall compared to her five feet three inches. By his stance alone she would have known he was in the military for those in the military tended to have a certain posture about them. It wouldn’t have mattered if he was low born or high born the military men always seemed to develop a certain stance which Alayna found commendable. The moonlight shining into the room gave the captain a softer look about him despite his stoic demeanor. So when she saw him smile, even for an instant, she was caught off guard a bit by it. Her only reaction too it was a widening of the eyes and her eyebrows rise up. As fast as that smiled appeared though, it was gone. The captain probably wasn’t use to showing any emotions just like her. He probably became that way due to all the training and the battles he saw. She honestly could not comprehend all the violence and bloodshed he had to spill. Being a high ranking officer he had the added pressure of making sure the men below him had to stay alive also. All of that put together, she wasn’t surprised by his nature. Even the Scotsman seemed to have an aloof manner, although he appeared to be a bit more easygoing, judging by how she observed him. Seeing Captain John calm, for the most part, helped her maintain her composure for she felt a little exposed since she was only in her nightgown. At least it wasn’t anything scandalous. Alayna never had that kind of taste.

As they left the cold music room, Alayna looked around to get her bearings. Unfortunately she didn’t recognize her surroundings. She turned when the captain mentioned where her room should be.

“Yes, it is. Unfortunately I don’t know where it is. For all I know we could be on the other side of the house.” She admitted.

Tomorrow she would definitely find out where everything was, or least the areas she was allowed to go to. It dawned on her that maybe she ought to ask Lady Mayfair for a spare key to her room. Hopefully she wouldn’t have to tell her why. She turned to her escort once again.

“You’re an officer in the navy aren’t you?” she asked.

She knew from his uniform earlier that evening that he was in the navy at least.

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Byron liked to watch Clarice’s attractive features when she was obviously thinking about his proposition. He never actually met anyone else with a mind for scheming like his, let alone a woman. As she pondered on the options, probably whether to accept or refuse his request, the Lord was already one step ahead. Should she refuse, he would have suggested that she take her leave as soon as possible. None of them would risk an open conflict that would further blemish their reputations. She knew his plan of course and could have threatened to make it known to the right persons, but this was his Manor and his party. He had the power to tell anything about her behavior, truth or lie, and that would be the end of her social life.

But she accepted. Furthermore, she didn’t take his offer which he so generously laid down in front of her, but asked for something else. Something he desired greatly as well and that led him to the conclusion that this woman was exactly like him.

She touched his hair and went over to the mirror sharing her thoughts on the matter. So she had the person in mind already. Perfect. Byron complimented himself for choosing her. There was one thing he overlooked. Clarice was a woman, an intelligent one nonetheless and Byron’s only weakness presented itself in the form of her kind. Her subtle gestures, enticing looks and double-sided language were enough to make him lose his thoughts for a few moments. And those moments were crucial. Leaving the armchair he went over to her and placed one hand on her shoulder were her fingers were just a second ago on the strap of her dress. Lowering his upper body he bowed his head until his lips reached her ear.

“I can give you everything you asked for and beyond those desires.” He whispered and placed his lips gently on her neck. He felt her skin soft and scented with a fresh fragrance. “But not tonight.” He grinned revealing his upper canines. Stroking gently her golden hair he went over to the door and opened it.

“I don’t need to know his name. I trust that you chose well. Make this happen for me and I will offer you both a title and the freedom that comes with it.”

Leaving Clarice’s room Byron was truly content with himself. The woman surpassed his highest expectations and if she had a better reputation amongst the upper echelons she would have made a perfect catch. A thing which wasn’t completely out of his reach. Maybe…after his plan turns out successful.

There was music in the hallways of the manor. A mellow, soft tune that sounded like a lullaby echoed between the walls and Byron couldn’t tell exactly from where it came.

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Somewhere on the other side of Magnolia Manor the beautiful clairvoyant found herself entering the kitchen in search for the main butler, Jared. She managed to scare both the cook and her helpers, almost startling them to an early grave.

At the time they were engaged in a philosophical conversation concerning that night’s celebration. The cook was convinced that the special guests were summoned here for the feast as main courses for the Demon Lord himself and she based her arguments on the fact that Lord Byron – famous for his sloth- had been unusually active before and after the celebration began. She also heard from one of the maids which heard from the coachman that one of the stable boys had seen the strange carriage in which one of the guests supposedly lived. The cook happened to know that guest was a devil worshiper and a magician and she could swear on the memory of her sainted mother that Lord Byron brought him over for the devilish ritual. Her words were followed by a dozen of „God forgive” and „God have mercy” from the others.
One of the helpers agreed with her theory because she knew for certain that Lady Mayfair had been convinced into this by her husband against her will:
„I heard they hypno-siezed her and the poor mistress doesn’t recall a thing. Her ladyship is convinced that the whole celebration was her idea and I’m afraid there isn’t any way to put a stop to this.”

That was when Emma entered the kitchen in her unusual outfit and the lot of them started screaming and begging for forgiveness. They finally settled down when they recognised Emma’s face, but held to their cautios manner. Their opinion on the mistress’ friend was never a good one and this particular episode emphasized its unfavorable nature.

„Be kind and tell me where I can find Jared.” Emma asked half crazed with panick.

A thick finger showed her the way to the servant’s room just through the other door and without waiting for a reply in words, Emma ran towards the exit, leaving them with the strong belief that the Manor was indeed in the hands of the devil.

In the servant’s lobby she found Lenard and Jared chatting like old friends, taking a break until they would be summoned again for new dispositions. They were of course surprised to see her there alone, dressed so informally and in that late hour of the night.
„Is anything the matter, My Lady?” the butler asked as they both turned their eyes away from her as etiquette demanded.

„Jared, turn around and come with me, there is something I have to tell you.” The man fiddled but did not move an inch.

„I am sorry I ca…”

„Listen to me you pantywaist or I shall have you out of this house and in to the gutters of poverty street by tomorrow.” She snapped and because she left him no other choice, Jared followed her through the kitchen under the servant’s bewildered faces and out in to another hallway which seemed empty at the time.

Jared waited for her to speak first with his head bowed, not daring to look at the woman.

„Jared, you know me well, don’t you?”

The man answered without haste.
„I do, my lady.”

„And you know that I am always telling the truth.”

„I do, my lady.”

„Then please pack your things and from this night onwards you are going to serve in my house.”

Only then the man lifted his head and looked at her in surprise. After seeing her stern face which convinced him that this was not a joke he looked down again.

„Have you discussed this with the mistress?” he asked politely, not a trace of surprise in his voice.

Emma was taken aback by his question, she didn’t have the time to think things through.

„Yes." she answered quickly that being the first and probably the last time she ever told a lie. " You are to leave right now with my carriage and settle at my house.” She gave him her ring. „Show this to Laurel and tell him that you serve under his command. He’s accustomed to my …hasty manner of doing things.” She quickly explained so that Jared would not ask her anything else.

„Very well, my lady.” The butler took the ring and for a moment it seemed to Emma that disappointment had taken over his beautiful features.

Before going out of the hallway to reach his room Jared asked her one last question.

„Has the mistress..said anything about my service? Did I do something..wrong?” the words seemed to get stuck in his throat and were spoken in a feeble voice that was almost trembling.

„No, Jared. On the contrary. She is extremely grateful to you and she will be coming over soon to tell you this herself. Now go and get your things, the carriage will be waiting for you in front of the manor.”

The man left and Emma turned back to the kitchen giving the servants another thrill before asking Lenard to get her carriage and the coachman ready for a short trip. She didn’t mention for who it was and everyone thought that something happened at the celebration to disturb her in such a way as to make her leave immediately. Unfortunately for their weak hearts, Emma was there to stay for many more nights to come.

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Clarice made no attempt to step away from the devilishly handsome man as he closed the space between them. Her eyes remained fixed on her, and now his, image in the mirror. The reflection was pretty close to perfection; he towered over her, and though she was not short it gave a pleasant allusion of her being fragile. Bryon's ebony hair graced her neck as he leaned forward, whispering in her ear, placing his large hand on her shoulder where the silk strap rested. The heat of his breath sent chills up her spine along with the soft words he whispered, their meaning was not hidden by a doppelganger of innocence like hers had been. They were real, every intention he had for her, every want, all the fantasies were on the table. She tilted her head slightly, letting her soft milky hair cascade from her shoulder.

Lord Bryon placed his soft lips on the hollow of her neck forcing a slight gasp to escape from her crimson lips. Maybe twelve days was a stretch and possibly she could just help the devious Lord to solve some of the issues he had faced in his marriage. Yes, she could defiantly do that. He pulled away before anything could go further, because it was obvious it could happen, very easily.

Normally, Clarice was not this inappropriate upon meeting a man, but something about him made her mind spin. They were so much alike, she doubted that one would even need to speak for the other to understand. The mistress had no intentions of remarrying, but if she did, it would have to be a man very similar to the Lord. They both could be political and public power houses, taking over Europe with no more than a few glances and a hushed word or two.

Before slipping into the lavish bed she wrote a note to Lenard and stuck it into the small box that connected outside the door, asking him to wake her before the rest of the manor arose, and draw a hot bath for her after he awoke her. After that she finally went to the bed, her mind to full to think anymore. When Clarice accepted the invitation she had no idea what she was getting herself into, from helping Lord Bryon in more than one way, destroying Genevieve's chances at happiness, keeping Maximilian satisfied by any means for him to complete his task, and finally, meeting the man who made her weak at the knees, Lord Helmut.

She drifted into a deep slumber in a desperate attempt to shut out the daunting checklist she had mentally written for herself.

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Anna was dumbfounded. She didn’t expect that kind of reply, especially from a noble woman. But Lady Mayfair’s “excuse” for why she was crying snapped Anna back to reality.

‘A lost key? Of all things, a lost key?!’ she burst out in her head.

She knew nobles were always crying over spilt milk, but a grown and, seemingly, not so feeble woman as Lady Mayfair crying because of a key?! It seemed preposterous. Maybe she was thinking too far ahead, but Anna couldn’t shake the feeling there was more to it than keys. Seeing the woman giggling and making jokes like dubbing her “Sir Penclave”, made Anna push the thought in a corner of her mind; she would definitely investigate the matter later.

“Since you decided to take a midnight stroll, which I highly recommend myself from time to time, may I show you around the garden?”

“Yes, that would be splendid. I had planned to walk around it a while, but such walks are always better with company.” she answered, honey-coating her plain sounding words.

Anna fell silent while they strolled around the garden in a calm pace. It wasn’t that she wanted to keep her distance from her host, she would have initiated a conversation herself, had she not been mesmerized by the garden’s beauty: all dressed in a pale, shimmering blue, with a harmony of diverse colors. She noted down in her mind every flower she saw on their way to the gazebo and a puzzle seemed to reveal itself, urging Anna to solve it.

‘It’ll prove a good past time riddle’ she thought, looking to where the gazebo was.

The shape of a man was outlined by the Moon’s light, next to the gazebo. He appeared to be staring at the sky, holding some kind of bottle in his hand. And it suddenly donned on Anna, she went out for a walk without any means of protection or anything that could make for a quick escape. Her mind searched a bit, what could she use, she touched the end of her braided tail, a pin, she was crafty enough, if need be she would find a use for it. If that person should prove to have a bad intent. She wasn’t scared, she could take care of her own, but she wasn’t the only one she should fend for and the bottle urged her to be cautious and ready for anything.
But, as the man turned and spoke, his accent immediately made her recognize who he was.

"G'devenin'" The scarred man greeted with a casual wave of his free hand "'Avin' trouble sleepin' too, eh?"

‘You’re not giving me a moment’s rest, are you?’ she argued with the higher entity ruling her every move, be it God or Fate, hoping the scene from inside the cellar wouldn’t repeat itself.

“Good evening Captain MacCraigh.” she responded cordially. “You could say that. How about yourself, out for a midnight sip?” she asked pointing at the bottle, the trumpet shaped sleeve slightly revealing the bandage on her right wrist.

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John was tempted to smile once more as Alayna professed to being lost, then the naval captain realized of course she would be. A sleepwalker hardly was in a position to pay attention to things like direction and where they had come. Though he was also tempted to smile at the discomfort she showed at realizing she was clad in only a nightgown. But that was one smile he wasn't too tempted to show, John had after all had 43 years on this Earth to learn both self control and how to see things from other points of views. He knew such a smile would be seen in quite the wrong light then what it had been meant to, no doubt the noblewoman would see it as a lascivious grin. And having to explain his way out of that would be quite awkward to say the least.


" The Foyer is just down to your left." John replied to her professed lost status using his left arm to indicate the direction. " Directly across from where this hallway enters the foyer is another hallway, it leads to a flight of stairs and has a suite of rooms running past the landing of the stairway. I am not sure if they are bedrooms but that stairway leads to the second floor bedrooms so it stands to reason that they are bedrooms as well."

He then almost smiled again as she asked if he was an officer in the navy. Most citizens were hopeless at telling rank indicators apart John reminded himself. Which wasn't all that unusual, during his academy days the subject had been it's own class with emphasis on who outranked who, what to do when you equaled rank, and all that good stuff. John found it odd the only other fighting man present was his inferior in the chain of command. Though as a Navy Officer his command would carry little weight with a rifleman, if John specifically gave the Scot an direct order the green jacketed soldier would have to obey but John really did not foresee a need during the fortnight they'd spend together. This was hardly a battlefield or the deck of a ship after all.

" Yes Lady Alayna I am indeed an officer of Her Majesty's Royal Navy. I am Captain John Fisher of the HMS Warrior, the finest ship in the finest fleet in the world." John answered proudly with a crisp salute and slight smile, which he did not bother to hide. Most Captains extolled the virtues of their ship. But it was not vain pride that motivated John to call the Warrior the finest ship in all the British fleets. It was the truth, the HMS Warrior was the biggest sea going iron clad, she was the fastest,and had the biggest and most guns. She also handled with all the grace of her lofty name. All and all the HMS Warrior could take on a fleet and win handily. Her ironclad hull laughed at the smaller guns other ships mounted while her own armament saw the Warrior blast any and all comers out of the water at twice the distance of any other ship.s guns.

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The soothing melody was disturbed by a set of loud sounds coming from the stairway.
“Tack…tack..tack tack tack…tack” The bangs and thuds made lord Byron change his direction and head for the staircase where he saw Jared pulling a large steamer trunk down the stairs as silently as he could.

“For the love of God, what are you doing?” Byron frowned at the man after asking him the question in a haughty tone. The butler was truly an annoyance and the lord was more than glad that he had the pretext to send him away.

Jared stopped and bowed his head in front of his master.

“I’m following the mistress’ orders, just as instructed, my Lord.”

Byron raised an eyebrow in that conceited way that suited him then anger took over his senses. Trying to sound normal and composed, the lord asked Jared with coldness:

“The mistress’ orders?!” Upon seeing the man’s sadness when he replied in a frail voice that was indeed the case, Byron felt a vein on his neck pulsing frantically.

“This is the last time they make a mockery out of me” he thought and with a gesture of the hand he invited Jared to come closer. The butler did as demanded and that was when Byron slapped the man using the back of his hand. Jared only had time to give him a surprised glance before the lord continued to express his anger in the only way he was accustomed to: through violence. The lullaby echoed in the Manor hiding with its sweetness the rough sounds and after Byron found his satisfaction in beating the butler, he arranged his loose strands of hair. He seemed to realize what he just done. It wasn’t guilt that filled his core, but the thought of messing with his own plans.

“ Just look at you.” He spat at the man lying on the bottom of the stairs with his nose and one corner of the lips bleeding, unable to move. “Now I can’t send you anywhere in this state. After you recover I’ll make sure you’ll get to the right place, don’t worry.”

He went down over him and wiped off the blood on his sleeve using the butler’s coat. “Mind you get that thing out of the way, we don’t want the guests stumbling over it, now do we?”

Leaving the man there he rushed downstairs with only one thing on his mind. He found his wife’s room locked as he had left it and after he opened the door only to see that no one was there he went over to the wide opened window. A roaring voice like thunder disturbed the silence of the night.

“Genevieeeeeeeeve!”

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Lady Mayfair was walking down the garden path alongside Anna with her thoughts drifting away from time to time. She was analyzing the current situation: Byron accused her of adultery and with the butler of all people. He made a lot of things that upset her, saddened her, made her bleed from the inside, but this was the worst so far. She could have taken his jealousy as a token for his love, but she was far too wise and knew him well enough to realize that was not the case. She put on a friendly, easygoing façade when deep down inside she felt her world crumbling with each breath she took.

What was there left for her? The nunnery? Suicide? Becoming a murderer. All of these options brought her a romantic view on things as she imagined doing each of them like in the love novels she used to read as a young girl.
“I could murder him, run to a nunnery and after a few years kill myself” she mumbled to herself amused, trying to light up the mood in her own mind. Nothing seemed to work for her, not even the tiniest shimmer of hope reached Genevieve’s soul. She came back to reality when they arrived at the gazebo and the Scotsman’s inarticulate words reached her ears.
The man was obviously drunk or at least dizzy judging by his voice and the bottle in his hands. Genevieve thought he had gone to sleep, yet it seemed he was actually bored with Maximillian’s performance and that his throat desired a drink more than his body needed a good night’s rest.
“Are all Scotsman heavy drinkers?” she asked herself before retaliating. Anna was the first one to answer his greeting and she did it with politeness. The bandages on her hand caught Genevieve's attention, but she didn't say a word. There would be a time for questions later.

“Sir, I believe you are drunk!” she snapped under the influence of her latest dark thoughts. “Is this any manner to present yourself in front of two ladies, one being your host and at this late hour of the night?” she continued obviously forgetting that they were the ones to come across him and that no lady would ever be outside of her room in the middle of the night. She sounded just like a mother scolding her son.

The Scotsman, while ruffled and seemingly a bit too happy in his state, looked more handsome than ever. His clothes presented creases and there was a certain aura of disorder around him that fit him perfectly. Then she realized what he just said before and a minor feeling of guilt took over her.

“Still, I apologise for your troubles, Sir MacCraigh. Was the room not to your liking?” The idea of someone having problems with sleep or of any other nature while she was the host made Genevieve feel quite uneasy.

A most beautiful melody filled the air and it seemed it was coming from one of the windows at the second floor of the Manor. The three of them stood silent for a moment, listening to the tune. She was intrigued by it, so simple yet so enticing in its simplicity. After a while when the melody seem to fade and none of them moved as if wanting to hear more of it, a call from another window gave her the biggest shiver of fear Genevieve ever had to deal with. It was Lord Byron’s enraged voice calling her name.

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Maximilian had become entranced by his own music. It started with him standing to improve how the sound echoed, then he pictured a ballroom larger than any that had ever existed with no one but himself and a beautiful but faceless woman. As he danced with her, he began walking through his room, gliding gracefully back and forth. When the song reached its end he found himself moving to the window as he vision of the dance faded away. Down in the garden he could see his audience, who seem just as entranced by the music as he was.

Then he heard the banging. At first he thought something had perhaps fallen in the manor, but it kept up like a fight was going on. He put on a shirt and moved quietly into the hall to investigate. He saw Jared on the ground next to the steamer trunk. Most people would assume he had fallen and gone to help him up, but Maximilian saw the look of fear in his face and could tell it was something worse. He made his way down a different flight of stairs when the sound of someone clambering through the halls caught his attention.

At the door to Lady Mayfair's room, he was greeted by the site of a quite enraged Lord Byron standing at the window inside. He figured the man drunk until he roared.

“Genevieeeeeeeeve!”

This wasn't a nobleman's drunken anger, it carried the furry of a monster seeking prey, or a storm preparing to destroy a ship. Maximilian walked up to the door and his face was bathed in the moonlight that came from the window. "Lady Mayfair is in the garden." He said casually, as if just pointing out a misunderstanding. "It seems that she, Miss Anna, and Captain MacCraigh were having trouble sleeping. They're all probably still a bit riled from the days events." As he spoke, he looked intently at Byron's face, hoping to catch a glimpse of his eyes in the moonlight. It was his own belief that the moon would let him see deep into a mans soul, further even than the subject could even see. This reading made his other abilities look like simple cheep bar tricks, and was the closest any of his abilities came to being real magic. His own icy blue eyes shined fiercely in the moonlight, a fact some had been frightened of, but he adjusted his tone and posture to seem as nonthreatening as possible as to not anger the lord further.

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As they walked down the corridor, Alayna listened as the captain described where he believed her chambers would be. She was grateful that he seemed to know the layout of the house, at least to the areas he’d been. If she had awake alone, she might have been a bit frantic, considering how emotional she was. Alayna might still be young and in marriageable years, but she’d seen too much to consider herself a naïve debutante, like Adelia. A part of her wish she wasn’t so cynical and cold, but she made her choices and would live with them.

When her companion affirmed his position as an officer and said which ship he was in charge of, Alayna could feel his pride for his ship. She did hear of his ship and even Edgar had talked about it a few times among the rare moments they did talk to each other in leisure. Most men might have bragged about their ship, but John didn’t. She was impressed with that. Alayna tend to think that when men bragged about anything, she believed they were exaggerating or just being too arrogant, both traits she found distasteful. She could never fault someone for being prideful, but she did believe that there was a limit to it.

“You must miss your ship captain. Where have you been on your travels?” she asked, for she was curious.

She remembered being younger and wanted to travel the world herself when she was looking at her father’s maps. Her own father loved to travel. That was how he met her mother. He was doing some business with his own father in Italy when they were invited by Don Giovanni, whom her grandfather wanted to do business with. It was there her father met her mother, who was the youngest daughter of Don Giovanni. Her father told her it was love at first sight for him. Nicoletta Giovanni was an angel in her father’s eyes. Nicoletta’s mother was French and had been disowned by her family for marrying the Don. Alayna was told she got her looks from both her mother and maternal grandmother for all three of them had the same hair color and eyes. Eventually her paternal grandfather and maternal grandfather arranged a marriage between the two as part of the business deal. Alayna did get to see her Italian relatives during her childhood and did remember her maternal grandparents. Unfortunately, both died when Alayna was 10 years old. Her Italian aunts and uncles and now cousins kept inviting Alayna to visit, but she kept denying them on basis that she simply was too busy. In reality she was simply afraid of getting too close to them in fear of losing anymore family and that did bring her some shame.

Alayna was jolted out of her thoughts when she heard the angry voice of Lord Mayfair. It startled her so much, that she instinctively moved closer to John. She never heard such an angry voice before. Not even from her brother and Edgar. What could possibly provoke a man to be so angry? It was coming from the second floor and Alayna wanted to avoid. She was suddenly thankful her room wasn’t on the second floor.

“Can we get moving, please?” she asked the captain, not being able to hide the fear in her voice.

The sooner she got to her room, the safer she hoped she would feel.

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John strolled beside Alayna as she made her way down the hallway, a steady gait that shortened so as not to out pace the shorter noble born lady. For such things would have been considered rude and frankly the naval captain was enjoying the woman's presence though he kept such things behind that carefully courteous mask the service had endowed the blonde Englishman with.

I swear your impossible you know that. His pragmatic side despaired once more, and was as quickly pointedly ignored.John knew it's points and agreed with them. A man of 43 should not swoon like a love sick boy at the first sight of a woman whom he knew next to nothing about. And given their rather odd introduction John also knew such things were unlikely. He simply walked beside her and was escorting the woman as nothing more then a gentlemanly gesture, chivalry was quite dead yet.


" I do miss her Lady Alayna, she is a fine ship and to leave her in dry dock seems a crime. But even a fine ship needs to be taken care of and she was in desperate need of both a cleaning of her hull and some repairs. The enemies of our Empire our quite persistent to say the least." John replied to her question about missing being aboard the HMS Warrior and his travels. " As for where I have been been your Ladyship that is quite the tale. I have seen the rising sun in Tokyo, watched the setting sun in Halifax when I was in Canada, I have even seen the Savannah of Africa. I drank rum in Jamaica and swam in the waters off Christmas Island, watched the turtles on the beaches of the Galapagos Islands." The naval captain added with a faint smile of nostalgic remembrance. His naval career had been a long one indeed and no navy man served without seeing a lot of the world.

He did not however tell her the bloody battles he had fought in some of these far flung locals. Of the battle off Jamaica that had earned him his Victoria's Cross when he was still a midshipman fresh to his duties. Nor of the wanton slaughter off the coast of South Africa, the result of a band of pirates and their ships thinking themselves the equal of the highly disciplined and trained British Navy. Left out to was the sights of men floating in the water, the sanguine shade of seawater laced with blood. The woman did not need to know of that, and likely had a good enough imagination to fill in such details herself.

They neared the landing of the stairway when the angry voice of Lord Mayfair echoing upon the still quiet night air. Alayna drew closer to him as if afraid of the rawness of the anger in the man's voice. John himself was merely bothered by it, for it only reinforced the opinion he had of the noble. Shaking his head in dismissal the naval captain heeded Alayna's words and head further down the hallway, stopping in front of the numerous doors.

"I am rather afraid this is where my knowledge ends Lady Alayna." John offered in an apologetic tone." I am not entirely sure these are bedrooms nor even if they are which is yours."

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#, as written by lumikb
With the show over Adelia went towards her room with an old maid that seemed as sweet as a grandmother. she didn't feel tired at all which could be the effect of the strange medicine she had been taking all day.One other thing was on her mind and that was Maximilian , probably because she never had the chance to meet such an intresting person.Concerning the other guests , they were all nice , so her small vacation may be enjoyable after all.Adelia wasn't going to try so hard from now on with keeping true to her title since there were so many kind of people here that as she had seen didn't care much of such things.
She truly felt like she made a fool of herself with that awkward outburst at the card trick event.That was something that wasn't going to happen again if she would only relax a little.
Soon enough she found out that the maids name was Marge, she had already prepared the bath for her it seems.

The warm water felt great on her skin , she wondered on what everyone else was doing by now and if she is the only one who isn't in the mood for sleeping.Tommorow she should write a letter to her father so he knows she is doing well , she wasn't sure if it would be a good ideea to tell him about everything that has been going on here.Adelia was certain he wouldn't have permitted her attendance to this party if he had known all the details.

The [url=http://www.vintagetextile.com/images/Edwardian/4021a.jpg[/url] they had for her was really nice , it was acctually better than the one she had home.She could hear noises downstairs but she didn't bother , it would be better and try to fall asleep.

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Helmut was quite bored by the new act the magician had this time , the card trick was let's say more entertaining at least.The maid that came to pick him up was a woman in her 40 that surprisingly was pretty enough for a little fun.He didn't ask her name since he didn't care about it at all , he was pretty much content that the woman was acceptable.

Once alone in the room with her ,he had his way of course and with both of them happy she went back to whatever a maid had to do.Tired as he was now , after such a great bath he went to sleep immediatly.Tommorow night he would be having another kind of midnight snack.

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“Good evening Captain MacCraigh.” she responded cordially. “You could say that. How about yourself, out for a midnight sip?”

'Ach, hell...' a voice called out in the back of his head. '...Of all the bloody women...'

Indeed, Duncan wasn't quite sure what particular deity he'd offended that day, but within the past twenty-four hours, the man who'd spent the last thirteen years in the colonies fighting in places far away from the civilized world with very little contact with the women thereof, found himself dropped head-first into a formal occasion surrounded by self-important nobles, illusionists and maidens of the absurdly beautiful variety. And after a whole night of keeping his trap shut and his lack of social experience hidden, even as a man performing card-tricks began speaking of fate and destiny as one would the price of tea, it had to be the two women in the house that for some reason his inexperienced mind couldn't grasp, he could not look at without coming to resemble a ripened tomato that caught him out here this late at night with a bottle, without uniform and apparently lacking the grace to shield them from the Glaswegian speech that occasionally escaped his lips in moments of relaxation.

The typical English perception of the typical Scotsman, he realized, must've painted him in a very perculiar light at that moment.

An almost exasperated expression came to his face.

'...Aw, bollocks.'

“Sir, I believe you are drunk!” she snapped under the influence of her latest dark thoughts. “Is this any manner to present yourself in front of two ladies, one being your host and at this late hour of the night?”

Duncan's brow raised slightly as the woman spoke, not out of offense to the words of her voice, but because of the redness he spied around her eyes; clearly the young lady had been crying... crying hard at that. The scene between Lord Mayfair and the blonde woman in the ballroom suddenly played out in his mind's eye as his subconcious began to go through a mental checklist of things that would make a woman such as her cry.

A heavy, unidentifiable sensation entered his stomach at the thought of the man. Not at all like the feeling of unexplained forboding that the Frenchman had given him... no, it was an entirely... human... sensation....

“Still, I apologise for your troubles, Sir MacCraigh. Was the room not to your liking?”

The woman's question quickly brought him back from his reverie, and he managed to at the very least form a coherent, honest reply, even as he kept his eyes inconspicuously off the pair and on a suddenly very interesting flower to his left.

"Na, Miss Mayfair, there was nae a problem at all with the accomadations." he spoke, his words taking on a more common Scots dialect for their sake and his free hand rubbing the back of his neck. His discomfort with a subject held by soldiers as taboo to discuss with outsiders (regardless of gender or class), was plainly evident. "I jes'... dinnae sleep well anywhere, tha'sall."

He said nothing more, eyes still locked on the same plant.

Frankly, they didn't really need to know.

"I'll err... I'll not bother ye any further."

Corking the bottle, the Captain stepped away from the gazebo and moved to pass them and return to the house.

“Genevieeeeeeeeve!”

He suddenly stopped.

There was blood in Byron's cry, enough that Duncan's imagination began to produce scenes of what a man angry enough to produce such a sound would do if he actually got his hands on Genevieve. His head turned to the woman in question and his eyes travelled her expression, observing the mute terror written upon them. Like a well-oiled machine, a particular set of mechanisms within his brain began to come to life as a familiar emotional void spread throughout his conciousness.

Reflecting the moon's glow, the look in the man's eyes at that moment would've been enough to stop most hardened men in their tracks. They simply looked... wrong.

Duncan shook his head slightly and rubed the bridge of his nose as he forced the familiar sensations to an abrupt end.

There were some parts of his psyche he'd prefer not to advertise.

"Lady Mayfair." he said finally, his earlier shyness apparently forgotten in favour of the events around him "How would ye feel about joinin' Miss Penclave an' meself on a pleasant late-night walk around the manor's grounds?"

His eyes flickered over to said scientist, his expression almost daring her to object to an excuse to get Genevieve a safe distance from the manor and give the Lord within time to calm himself that didn't offend any noble sensibilities (as he was quite sure him being alone with her would).

"With all the wee bits o' paper ye buried me with from across an ocean, I'd like ta think we'd 'ave plenty to discuss."

Of course, Duncan didn't mention that in all likelihood, her refusal would only prompt him to heft her over his shoulder and invite Anna on that walk around the manor's grounds anyway.

While he could help it, he'd not allow Lord Mayfair to bring harm to the woman before him. Nor would he easily let her submit herself to it.

Etiquette be damned.

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"Lady Mayfair is in the garden."
Byron turned around to see who answered his call. His eyes still held anger in them; they weren’t the eyes of a nobleman with a temper, but the eyes of a beast ready to strike whoever dared to sneak behind him. Upon seeing Maximilian’s enigmatic face, the Lord remembered that he wasn’t alone in his manor and forced himself to calm down. He held his breath for a moment to keep himself from panting.

"It seems that she, Miss Anna, and Captain MacCraigh were having trouble sleeping. They're all probably still a bit riled from the day’s events."


“Thank you, Sir Uliara.” He faked relief. “The door was locked from inside and my lady was not in the room. “ Byron looked into the man’s eyes with a pleading look on his face and apologized.
“I’m sorry for waking you up like this, but it’s not uncommon for nobles to have their family members kidnapped for ransom. I thought I lost my mind when that occurred to me.”

He sat down on the chair besides the window and lowered his head holding his forehead in his hands like a man that just been through a load of worries. His mind was working double shifts to find a good answer for why the room was locked and still Genevieve found her way into the garden. No one else had a key. The window was open. “She couldn’t!” he screamed inside his mind and lifted his head maddened with rage.
Maximilian’s eyes were fixed on his features and Byron felt a chill down his spine. Not of fear. It was a chill for the inexplicable, the same feeling Emma Chambers sometimes gave him when he bothered to look at her. He despised her eccentric ways and despised her so-called powers. Maximilan had been introduced to him as an entertainer, but the way he looked at him reminded him of Emma’s gaze.
“What..this one thinks he has powers too? Damn the both of them, I don’t have time for this!” Byron stood up and went over to the illusionist to bid him good night. A maid entered the room and bowed in front of them.
“My Lord, something terrible happened. Jared was found lying on the bottom of the stairs in a grave condition. Someone beat him, but he wouldn’t say who it was. There might be burglars in the manor, my lord!” the women gasped and waited for his disposition.
“Go into the garden and find Ms. Mayfair! Tell her to come here immediately!” He changed his mind on sending the illusionist away. For what was about to happen he needed a witness.

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Her husband’s voice still echoed in her ears when the Scotsman stopped mid-way. Duncan’s last words "I'll err... I'll not bother ye any further" saddened Genevieve deeply. Now that she was filled with uncontrollable fear there was no better time to have both of them in her presence. She felt safe with them although Duncan’s inhuman glare didn’t escape her attention. Lady Mayfair took a better look at Anna and the captain. They were both the most interesting pair of people she ever saw except for her eccentric best friend of course. At first glance the two had nothing in common except for the haste with which they savored alcoholic beverages. Oddly enough, the two looked good together. The mistress was quite happy with the pairing, but for one reason or another Genevieve couldn’t settle to picture the two of them as soul mates.

Then the Scotsman did something out of the ordinary. Instead of getting out of her way like any other guest would so as not to interfere in another’s affair, he launched an invitation. "How would ye feel about joinin' Miss Penclave an' meself on a pleasant late-night walk around the manor's grounds?"
The Lady looked at him baffled. He was dead serious about it.

"With all the wee bits o' paper ye buried me with from across an ocean, I'd like ta think we'd 'ave plenty to discuss."
The last words brought a subtle smile on her face. He liked the Scotsman unique humor - unhindered by social boundaries - that matched her sarcasm. Indeed she had many things to explain. Yet his proposition was almost unnatural. Did he not know what disobeying her husband meant for her? Or maybe he said this precisely because he knew what awaited her. Oh, how she wanted to go with them! She would follow them to the ends of the Earth if it was possible, but none of them knew Byron like she did. Should she not listen to him now, there would be dire consequences and a harsher punishment waiting for her. The man’s anger would not dim with time, it would gather drop by drop until it filled him. There was no other option than to face him.

Genevieve had no idea how to refuse the captain. A part of her wished so much to forget Byron, the Manor and everything else that turned this long awaited celebration into a nightmare. Maybe start anew somewhere else.
Before she could say anything one of the maids came running down the path yelling.
“My Lady! My Lady! Something horrible happened in the Manor!” She quickly arrived near the gazebo and after a swift bow she continued. “It’s Jared, my Lady! We found him at the bottom of the stairs bleeding. He couldn’t move nor speak. Oh, my lady, he is in terrible condition, God have mercy on us!” The woman began to weep.

“Margret, send my carriage to dr. Madison’s house at once! Better, go along with the coachman and tell the good doctor everything you know! “
Genevieve had no idea if fate was on her side or not with this unexpected turn of events, but it was a good enough reason to refuse the generous offer Duncan came up with.

“Please forgive me, Captain MacCraigh. Perhaps tomorrow when everything will be peaceful again.” She took her dress in her hands getting ready to run to the house.

“My Lady!” the maid called again. “The master called for you in your ladyship’s room. He was quite troubled, madam!”
“Yes, Margret, I shall go see him at once.” Genevieve started to run towards the Manor.

“And Madam, please be careful! We think Jared was beaten up by burglars! Maybe you ought to take the Captain and Miss Penclave wit….” She didn’t hear the rest for she was already too far. But what she heard was enough.


“What devilish intent had taken over you, My Lord?” she yelled dashing in the hallway, “has Jared not been anything but loyal to you and always made the greatest efforts in fulfilling your most scandalous dispositions?” she was like a lioness protecting her cubs and with every word she felt her own anger taking over. Genevieve entered the room ready to slap him, beat him up with her fists or anything she could to harm him. Then she saw the illusionist watching in silence from the shadow. She blushed in embarrassment. This was not a scene anyone else had to see. Seeing Byron’s narrowed eyes and content smile made her almost as enraged as he was. She didn’t care who was there anymore, her husband had to pay for his unjust actions.

“What right had you to beat him, my lord? He is my butler!” she yelled without finding a better reason to admonish him then for disregarding the right to personal possessions. Let Maximilian think they were a grubby noble couple that fought over wealth and servants, she did not care!

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Hearing Lady Mayfair’s reproach coming shortly after the question she had posed to Captain MacCraigh, made Anna feel a bit at fault. In all appearance the lady seemed to take the air of a mother scolding her son, and that amused Anna, she couldn’t be more interested in his answer. Yet, it didn’t come.

‘Clever fox’ she thought to herself, asserting the Captain’s way of handling the situation, ‘avoiding to answer my question and not saying a word in reply to Lady Mayfair is the correct way to go about the position you’re in.’

Most people would retaliate and demand respect because they considered themselves troubled beings, but the Captain kept his mouth shut and only raised a brow. Admirable, though he would have been one of the few entitled to such an answer. This made Anna even more convinced that there were enough interesting people present at this manor as to not bore her to death, the way all noble parties did.

“Still, I apologise for your troubles, Sir MacCraigh. Was the room not to your liking?”

Again, curiosity took the best of her and she waited to see his answer, studying both of her companions.

"Na, Miss Mayfair, there was nae a problem at all with the accomadations. I jes'... dinnae sleep well anywhere, tha'sall. I'll err... I'll not bother ye any further."

At that moment he seemed to have given up and head for the manor.

‘Well, that’s no fun’ she broke out in her mind, like a disappointed child seeing his friend leave because mummy yelled at him.

Her amusement was cut short by the roar of a beast calling out to the Lady’s first name. Anna’s face took on its usual seriousness and a frown creased her forehead. At the same moment, the Captain stopped and beat Anna to making a suggestion.

"Lady Mayfair. How would ye feel about joinin' Miss Penclave an' meself on a pleasant late-night walk around the manor's grounds? With all the wee bits o' paper ye buried me with from across an ocean, I'd like ta think we'd 'ave plenty to discuss."

As soon as he finished talking, Anna met his eyes when they flickered in her direction. And, as if through a telepathic connection, she understood and agreed to his intentions.

‘Though’ she moved her eyes back on the lady, ‘you won’t accept the invitation, will you, Lady Mayfair? He is much too important to you to have it fall apart now…’ she said, carrying a mental discussion with the noble woman. She didn’t know what their quarrels were about or if she had actually pin-pointed what the woman’s actions would be, but somehow she couldn’t picture the lady running away from her husband’s roar.

Anna would have reinforced the Captain’s proposition, had it not been for the arrival of the maid bearing disturbing news that put Anna on thoughts. She listened carefully to what the maid said and an idea crossed her mind. She opened her mouth…

“Maybe I can help, Lady….”

She and the maid spoke in unison, but Lady Mayfair was long gone and didn’t hear her offer, or the maid’s suggestion. The maid followed her shortly afterwards, leaving Anna with the Captain in the garden.

Guessing the Captain might object and follow Lady Mayfair in, she turned to him and said in a sigh while turning her head, again, to look at the Moon.

“It’s pointless… to try and make her stay, let her go. People like her devote their entire being to their spouses. Her whole atmosphere speaks of unfading love, even her garden and that little flower your eyes kept straying off to. If you’d like I’ll elaborate.” she turned back to face him for a short period of time, before staring the Moon down again and going on.

“The Lord won’t dare do anything to her, with all this commotion there are bound to be other guests and the whole staff of servants present to stop him should he touch her with the faintest of ill intention. This house is packed with wolves and lions, you and I included. Besides, didn’t you want to put your mind at rest?” her eyes fixed themselves on him again, “Given the situation, I’d strongly advise against it.”

If anything, she seemed to be talking to the Captain as if she were some sort of doctor and took it upon herself to keep the Captain’s health on the right track.

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Rage, pure animalistic rage. Lord Byron’s inner monster shone in the moonlight, his instincts almost overcoming him. In another setting he would have attacked Maximilian, but as angry as he was still a human being and had enough sense to control himself. The trick was over after that little glint, he now knew Lord Byron better than almost anyone.

“Thank you, Sir Uliara.” He faked relief. “The door was locked from inside and my lady was not in the room. “ Byron looked into the man’s eyes with a pleading look on his face and apologized.
“I’m sorry for waking you up like this, but it’s not uncommon for nobles to have their family members kidnapped for ransom. I thought I lost my mind when that occurred to me.”


“It’s nothing, milord. I’d probably react the same in this situation.” He replied as he stepped into the room. It was obvious he was only saying this to seem like a good man, but something in him caught Maximilian’s attention. Although he knew it wasn’t true, a small flicker of fear and anger sparked in Byron’s eye when he mentioned her being kidnapped. It seemed had that actually been the case he would have become even more enraged. Lord Byron did care about Lady Mayfair, far more than he actually realized. ‘Perhaps that’s what she sees in him.” He thought to himself, considering what she had told him about this party.

“She probably locked the door on her way out, I’ve done it to myself a few times.” He said as Byron approached him for a good night. He had planned to retire for the night anyway, but the maid coming in with the news put him in an odd spot. He’d seen Jared beaten up in the hallway and had already concluded that Byron was the culprit, but he had to respond as if this was news to him, or risk appearing suspicious. “Poor man, but it was probably another servant he had a disagreement with. He doesn’t want to name him or he’d loose his job, so…” He was interrupted by Lady Mayfair’s shouts from the hallway. She came in obviously angry with her husband, but when she spotted Maximilian she tried to change her point. However, there was no hiding the truth from him. She cared very much for Jared, like one would for a sibling or even their own child. He decided to stand in silence and watch this little show play out. He hated that Byron obviously wanted him to see this, but he couldn’t let Lady Mayfair do something foolish while she was alone. The moonlight gave away her soul her soul as well, so at least there would be a lot to learn from the two of them.

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“Here comes Enyo, the goddess of war!”, the lord declared in a theatrical way. Byron stepped slowly in front of his wife and lifted her chin with his hand, looking straight into her eyes.
“A suitable companion for Ares, my love!”
He looked at Maximilian not taking his hand away.

“Yet you do not honor me with this conduct in front of our guest!”
He frowned and waited for a moment. There was only silence. Suddenly he embraced her keeping Genevieve close to his chest.
“I was so worried. Never do that to me again!” Byron caressed her hair and whispered:

“Hush now and let me explain.” He sounded like an adult speaking to a child.

The lord took something out of his pocket and showed it to his wife.
“Do you recognize this?”

It was a fabulous golden ring that sparkled in the moonlight. After beating the butler he caught the piece of jewelry from rolling down the stairs. He had no idea how Jared came into its possession, but he was convinced that it belonged to Genevieve. At the time he was furious. It occurred to him that his theory really wasn’t far from the truth. Now he had every right to humiliate her and reveal her shame. All the crap she spouted about soul mates and true love, in which at some point even he started to believe, was just a pretext for this celebration. An alleged reason for Genevieve to have her way with her “wedding gift”.

“What a vixen she is” , Byron thought and felt that he could crush her frail frame in his embrace, squeezing the last breath of air right out of her adulterous body. Othello was just a man with an idea compared to what he could do. Maybe he rushed too much into this, head first into his brilliant plan. He will not give her to any man. Not now, not ever. He would rather send her into death’s embrace than seeing her in the arms of another. Now it was too late. Clarice was a hurricane and no one turns a hurricane from its path. A strange little thought crept into his mind like a spider making its way back home. Genevieve would never fall in love with another while Jared was around. Women are easy to handle when you trigger their maternal instinct and Genevieve’s already awoke upon hearing the butler’s situation.
“My love, your butler…our Jared, is stealing from us. I forgive you for judging your husband so harshly; your kind soul seeks justice in all the wrong places.”

His voice was like honey. He knew he made a spectacle and Genevieve was no fool, but he needed to keep up appearances in front of Maximilian. If Jared took the blame for everything then he could send him away at any given time without tarnishing his wife’s reputation. Now he had both the reason and the witness for it, their image in society was spotless. Having control over Jared meant having control over his wife. He would forgive the butler for now, thus making sure his wife would stay on his side until the celebration was over. Only then will he earn his freedom without having to give her to anyone else. Byron counted on Clarice for that part as well.
“A forbidden love always ends in tragedy.”

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Genevieve remembered why she fell in love with her conceited bourgeois husband in the first place. He was educated more than any other young nobleman and had the intelligence of all of them put together. Byron had a way with words and gestures that swayed her heart in every direction his restless mind thought of.
Now he came to her like a predator that cornered its prey. She waited for his attack, preparing herself for it both mentally and physically, getting ready for anything. She wasn’t ready for what happened next, though. He embraced her like a dying man embracing life, like a lost man embracing his home, like a lover embracing his loved one. She never felt such a strong feeling coming from him before.

“I was so worried. Never do that to me again!” Byron caressed her hair and whispered: “Hush now and let me explain.”
Was this truly the man she married three years ago? Where has he been all this time? What demon had taken over his body and mind all these years? Genevieve wished with all her strength to believe it, but her all too clever mind knew this was all an act. How much more can she take from him? She asked herself and felt her heart crumble for the last time before turning into sand, leaving a hollow space in her chest.
Genevieve’s eyes went blank. They reflected her now barren soul and for the first time since the celebration started she knew exactly what was in Alayna’s heart: an endless, weightless void.

“Do you recognize this?”
She stared at the ring for a few moments without actually seeing it, then she came back to her senses and recognized Emma’s ring. It was a present from her late husband, not their wedding ring, but the first ring he gave her on their second meeting. Why would Jared have it? Or maybe he never did and this was just another of Byron’s devilish tricks. Will he never rest until seeing her and her loved ones put to an early grave? What abominable sins has she committed against him to receive only hate and suffering from his part? “Of course,” she thought, “everything Emma said must be true.” She could see the whole story, deprived of silly romantic ideas and believes, she could see the awful truth that presented itself to her like an open book. Redemption or perish Genevieve said to herself and the thought no longer frightened her. “Better to perish than to suffer another life by his side!”
Genevieve and Byron were indeed soul mates. While having different personalities and opposite convictions, there were times when they behave like one, but all for the wrong reasons. This last idea was one of those reasons.

“My love, your butler…our Jared, is stealing from us. I forgive you for judging your husband so harshly”
There were two ways for Lady Mayfair to find out the truth: either speak to Jared or to Emma herself. Jared was out of the question, she doubted Byron would let her see him alone, but she had Emma on her side and Byron knew nothing of it. She prayed that Emma indeed had a part in this events, surely Heaven haven’t forsaken her yet.

She looked at him and faked surprise like a bad actor. “It belongs to me. Oh my!” she sighed and changed her attitude instantly. “Jared? No, no,no..no! My lord, he couldn’t. He would never do such a thing. Please, please have mercy on him.” She pleaded half acting, half hoping he would listen to her request. What a bad show they displayed in front of the illusionist. What could he possibly think of them now? She wondered while her true nature came back piece by piece and she felt the importance of etiquette and society views once again. The stage crumbled revealing the actors half dressed in their costumes with half of the makeup wiped away from their tired faces. They were neither themselves, nor the characters played. If her husband was so willing to play this awful game with her why shouldn’t she take part in it? "No, my love, you confused my role. I'm not Enyo, the goddess of war, but Nemesis, the vengeful fate."

Byron lifted her chin up wiping her tears with his long fingers.
“Hush, my love. It’s alright, I already forgave him.” Why couldn’t he speak to her like that all the time?
“Let’s rest now and put this behind us. Jared received his punishment and I believe everyone deserves a second chance. ” Byron turned towards Maximilian. “I also believe our guest is tired and he deserves a good sleep. I apologize again,Sir Uliara, for what you had to witness.”

None of the Mayfairs had to ask Maximilian to keep the secret. They knew that the man could spill the beans if he wanted to even if they asked him otherwise. He was a wanderer from the lower class and no threat would work against him. Byron knew that if the man was half as wise as he thought him to be, he would not work against them. Genevieve truly believed that the illusionist was kind and noble, a true gentleman without the title to prove it. Therefore, such a request was rendered useless by both of them.
Genevieve approached Maximilian with teary eyes and bid him good night. She went as far as to hold the man’s hand in hers, just like she did with Adelia and Annabelle before, the only gesture she did instinctively in times of extreme happiness or when she felt grateful. Lady Mayfair was truly grateful for him being there, his presence being the only thing that kept Byron from losing his senses completely.
“Good night, Sir Uliara. I apologize on my behalf as well. This night’s events had taken over me and drove away my peace. I pray you find yours in your dreams.”

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Realizing she was mere inches away from the captain, Alayna stood back a bit. What was wrong with her? She was acting like a scared child. Wanting to ignore what just happened, Alayna concentrated on what John was saying. Listening to him, she could hear the love he had for his ship in his voice. In all honesty, she was a bit envious of him. She never had anything she was attached to now. She loved her father and a few of her siblings, but once she lost her father, she lost that connection. There could be no going back either. And Alayna knew that she wouldn’t change anything she did after she lost her father too. So while she had no regrets, she did wish things could have been different.

Alayna continued to listen to what John said about the places he been to. She also was more aware of what he wasn’t saying. Thos places he described did sound wonderful, but there had to be danger. He was in the navy after all and his first priority was to protect this country. So she doubted those places he had seen were ‘pleasure cruises’ even though they might have had their nice moments. What did he have to give up in order to serve his country? What would happen to him if once he left the navy, if he even planned to? Other questions popped into her mind, but she didn’t ask them for she felt they were too personal.

When they made to the end of the hallway, John told her he didn’t know where to go next.

“Don’t worry I remember where to go from here.” Alayna replied.

In though it was dark, she recognized some of the features of when her maid showed her to the room. It was times like this she was glad she had great visual memory. As she started to walk to a nearby hallway, she heard Lady Mayfair’s angry voice. At this rate, the entire household and the other guests would be woke up. And Alayna had no desire to be seen by anyone else. Whatever business was happening between Lord and Lady Mayfair, Alayna wanted no part in.

“It is probably best that we don’t interfere.” she said to John.

She was relieved that she wasn’t alone.

“Captain, thank you again for accompanying me.”

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The voice of Lady Mayfair only added to the naval captain's desire to see what was happening. For the concept of leaving such a woman at the mercies of a man like Lord Mayfair only chafed his sense of decency. The man was a predator plain and simple, the sort that belonged clapped in irons and rotting in some flea infested prison. John had seen the look upon the man's face a million times on other men. For sometimes the ratings aboard a ship were indeed the sweeping of the gaols of the British Empire. And the same hunger burned in their eyes as it did in Lord Mayfair's. The beast that they were desired nothing more then sating their own desires and hungers, and sometimes were the best of actors.

Only the burden of Etiquette stopped him from altogether abandoning Alayna, for he did not need a woman of noble influence ticked off at him. And neither did he need the attention of Lord Mayfair, the low born bastard son of a whore was already little enough liked by the upper echelons of naval command. Most of them had bought and paid for their positions and only John's impeccable service record saw him climb as high as he did. Adding the displeasure of yet another member of the upper crust of society would only end badly for the low born naval captain. For the navy was all he really had, all that he really cared about in the end. He was a sailor through and through and there was always his fear of becoming a pauper. Dying some ignorable death in some back water tavern like so many sailors denied the sea.

So it was with a heavy heart he let the matter drop from his mind, only the clenching of his fists showed his displeasure at not interfering with the developing situation between the Mayfair couple.

" If I had a gold sovereign for every time I was told to keep my nose out..." John shook his head and silenced himself as he realized the improperness of his behavior and words. " I am sorry Lady Alayna for my outburst,please forgive me."

He took a few moments to calm himself then he smiled, a mere gentlemanly gesture he justified it. " It was a pleasure to accompany you your Ladyship. If there ever is anything else do not hesitate to ask it of me."He spoke with a gentle tone but his fists still clenched in disgust of what he was allowing to happen. Why was his entire life so affected by the antics of the rich, it truly and well bothered him to a severe degree.

First there was this whole soul mate thing he could not get out of his head, what right did these rich high born Mayfairs have to turn his whole world upside down. Now he was forced to stand idly by as Lord Mayfair was no doubt doing any number of horrible things to his wife. Then again it was her words that had sent him into as John saw this lunacy, but that feeling lasted but a moment. She was still a woman and he a gentleman, or so he liked to believe.

Still he was in this lunacy of his because of her, dreaming about some girl. He could think of Alayna as nothing else, true she was no babe in swaddling clothes. But still was fresh faced and youthful despite her cold ways, and that troubled him more then anything. Why should a man of his years be effected so by the charms of this woman. Soul mates. The word echoed in his thoughts with both a desirable tone and something he did not like, as if the thought of being tied to this woman in such a manner had been painful at one time. As if he had met her on some distant plane and had his heart broken as a result.

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“What an amusing performance, it’s almost like they’re actually terrible actors.” Maximilian joked in his mind, clearing his throat to hide the grin it gave him. The two were just wearing these masks for his sake, but the real conversation was far more interesting. Byron toyed with her emotions while Genevieve contemplated her justice. Despite all of this though, it could not be denied that they were truly meant for each other. One was a lecherous fiend who deep down loved his wife and the other was devoted entirely to her husband yet hated what he was. A balance so perfect it was almost eerie. It was a beautiful thing that gave him confidence in mankind, but he couldn’t resist being a little jealous.

As they said their good nights, the sorrow and anger in Genevieve’s eyes sparked before she moved out of the moonlight. It was a shame that such a beautiful and kind woman was in love with Byron. Part of him wished he could help her by changing her husband, but another told him he didn’t deserve her. This was neither the time nor place for these thoughts though, everyone was tired.

“It’s not trouble at all.” He responded to them both. “Goodnight to you both.” As he returned to his room, he spotted Captain Fisher in the hallway looking a tad concerned. “It’s okay captain, I was there and nothing happened.” He assured him before going into his room.

Just after his head hit the pillow he fell to sleep, everything he’d learned about the Mayfairs running through his mind before he drifted away. He dreamt again, he witnessed the murders carried out by his command. The first time he felt a tad guilty, but now he felt justified in these actions. Two of the scenes he saw stuck with him, the first stuck because there was no murder.

The sun was setting as an elderly nobleman enjoyed a ride in a carriage. The driver stopped in front of an orphanage for a moment while a woman crossed the street in front of them. In the window he saw a child looking at him, a bit of a sad site but something in the boys face was offsetting. He wasn’t ugly nor was he sickly looking, just something about him made the nobleman uncomfortable. Something made him want to scorn the boy for a misdeed, like he’d stolen from him. He shook his head as the carriage started moving again, dismissing the thought as an illusion from old age.

The second scene stuck because of how vastly different the scenario was.

A bolt of lightning lit up the night as two swordsmen clashed on a road through a forest. A woman watched the battle from the side of the road with tears streaming down her face. One of them slipped up and got slashed across the arm, falling to the ground in pain. Before he could finish him off, the woman grabbed his arm and screamed. “Please don’t, this is barbaric!” But he ignored her pleas and shoved her into a tree, chuckling a bit in the process. The man on the ground was enraged by this sight, so he lunged to his feet and stabbed the man through the chest. As he watched the man die, the woman approached him still crying. He embraced her to comfort her, but it was a short lived victory. “You killed my husband, you monster.” She said as she drove a knife into his side. The last thing he saw as he bled on the ground was the woman crying over the other mans body.

Both images were disturbing in their own way, but this time Maximilian was not woken by them. Oddly enough, he had one of the best night’s sleeps he’d had in a while.

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Morning came and found Byron sleeping in his wife’s bed holding Genevieve close to him. His pale skin had always been too white making him look even more like a dead man when in slumber, hence the servant’s belief that their master was undoubtedly a spawn of hell. After the events from the night before he decided to never let Genevieve out of his sight. She would not sleep, eat or breathe without his consent from that day on.
Without admitting it to himself, Byron realized that her time beside him will be short-lived if any of his plans will succeed. Like never before he had to convince himself not to abandon everything he worked so hard for and the idea of losing his almost-to-certain gained freedom maddened him. He was haunted by his inner demons because he sensed the danger and the risks behind his new found desire to have Genevieve in his presence every moment until the end of the celebration. While to others it may seem like a twisted sense of possession, for Byron this was the closest feeling he ever had to love or affection. The lord was determined to enjoy to the fullest and for the last time his marriage to Genevieve, making up for all the lost years in which he merely tolerated his wife. He discovered that there was beauty and passion where he never sought to look before and just like a child who discovers that his old toy is highly regarded by others and finds happiness in keeping it all to himself, Byron found joy in taking Genevieve's freedom away just as she did with his.
As for the days to come after the celebration, he would indulge in his new gained freedom until the end of his life. With a companion like Clarice he would never have to feel loneliness, nor the chains of marriage ever again.
Reflecting on all of these, Byron stood halfway up and touched his wife’s cheek in what was probably the only gentle gesture he knew. She was still asleep. He got out of the bed and searched for Genevieve’s pen and for some paper. He left her a note.
“I’ll give out the dispositions for breakfast in the garden; it seems we have yet to learn everything there is to know about our guests. I think it’s needless to say that you are forbidden to see Jared. If I hear so much as a whisper of your betrayal may God have mercy on you, for I will not. “
Byron

He didn’t bother to take his clothes with him and knowing very well that the guests were either on the first or the second floor he strolled down the hallway wearing nothing, just as mother nature intended and entered his own room. Lenard was waiting patiently for him with a new suit in his hands. The man was there to replace Jared and after he attended to his master, he left to wake up Clarice as instructed.
Byron told him to pass on the dispositions regarding breakfast to the servants in charge before sending him away to take over Jared’s position. He also requested that the man should be put under surveillance and that the mistress was forbidden to see him. The butler was indeed in a terrible condition and while the lord had nothing against forcing the man to work either way, he knew very well that the guests would suspect something and that Genevieve could find a million ways of talking to him while he served.
All this housework exhausted Byron and he felt the need to take a morning walk before indulging in culinary delights like the gourmet he was. With a quick glance in the mirror after which he concluded that black was indeed his color, the lord stepped out of his room and into the hallway once more.

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#, as written by lumikb
This was the best night Adelia had ever had with no dreams or pains .Could it be the medicine or maybe her father was right about needing a change? Hard to tell right now, what was important was that she was feeling great and she would be enjoying this new day and vacation by any means. Her maid was moving around the room, opening the windows and cleaning around making sure all was good. She was saying something about breakfast in the garden and then she started talking about this being the lord Mayfair’s idea.

"Marge, did anything happen last night?"Adelia have heard some people moving around and talking, not very loud but something was up for sure. The woman had told her of what had happened to Jared and little details of what happened between the Mayfairs.
Adelia sat in front of her mirror while Marge was now combing her hair."How strange, he seemed so loyal to the Lady Genevieve."

Marge brought her a blue dress with ribbons and white stripes, simple yet charming. She left her long hair loose this time since she had always preferred it so this making her look even younger than she already was. Together with her maid she made her way towards the stairs and down leading to the gardens where the table was set. It seemed she was the first to arrive downstairs, waiting for the others Adelia took her time to look around the beautiful scenery.

She couldn't help herself from just sitting and went out towards the flowers to admire them up close. The fresh scent made her feel at home, she has always enjoyed nature and its wonders. Adelia wondered if it was a good idea to ask around about last night and those sounds she heard, curiosity was really getting to her and Marge didn't really know much. Apart from that she was sincerely worried for the butler’s state and for Lady Genevieve who must be upset by what has happened.

Without realizing she was wondering about the man from the party too, Maximillian Uliara , he has been on her mind too often. Yet she was curious if he would be here too, having breakfast with all of them in the garden. That reminded her that she still had the rose from him , it was up in her room next to her bed. She could have used it in her hair but she had forgot about earlier "Adelia Chevalier what are you thinking? I can't believe I’m troubling myself with such things..."she thought to herself out loud giggling while touching the soft petals of the red roses.

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Helmut was still sleeping and snoring out loud in his chambers, when his maid had entered and was now beside him under the cover. Indeed it was a lovely way to wake up, just like in France yet there he had 3-4 women and they were younger. Anyway it was better than nothing, he was a young man after all and he needed such attention or at least that was what Helmut liked.

She brought a brown suit and a white shirt, it felt really comfortable .All dressed and ready to go, he thought it would be the time to make a little visit in the morning so he told his maid to take him to the chambers of the lady who had danced with the Lord Mayfair. Of course the woman had no idea who she was but after explaining how she looked and the maid asking around she took Helmut on the girls floor.

He knocked on her, since it was probably locked (just a hunch), waiting for the lady to awaken if she wasn't already up. No matter since he would wait for her and would assist her on the way to the gardens. The woman did say that they would have breakfast there and she did explain how to find his way around.