The words flowed easier than the icy blood in her veins.
Tonight was the last night. I shant forget the flippant air in which you responded to your betrayal. For two long I have waited for you, wanted you, dreamed of you. And now, the night before we wed, to find her in your arms– I can’t hardly speak. Call me a hysteric female or anything you please. If you want her, take her. For your lips will never meet mine until the day I die.
With a flourish, she signed her name. Celeste Wonder.
Her tears splashed against the lip of the envelope as she tucked it into the body, but she pretended not to notice. Stamping her wax seal over the edge, she carried it out to the mailbox and let it tremble on the metallic edge. It fell inside and sealed her fate. She crossed her arms over her chest, locking in the sobs, and marched back to her room with her head held high. They would never accuse her of being a witless woman, of being a fool. Even if she had to spend every day bearing the dull pierce in her chest, the sharp tweak with every indrawn breath not from a corset stays, it was worth it.
When she returned to her room, a white envelope lay on her desk. She glanced down the hall, but not a servant remained. Her white glovetips fingered the wax seal. A deep maroon E. Elenduke? Elgain? Edwards? There ware so many dratted E-names that she could scarcely tell from a single monogram. She held it up to the light, sparking the flames of curiosity even as her mind tried to extinguish them. It’s probably another tea invitation, she thought. Some dull and witless wonder wants to sop up my pain along with their honey and biscuits, the gossip sweet on their lips. She ripped the envelope in half and the pieces fluttered to the ground. Sliding out from it’s ripped casing, severe dark block letters stared up at her.
That wasn’t a woman’s writing. That was a man’s. An E? She didn’t know any men named E. She scooped up the scraps and held them together, pretending the proximity of the lamp was the reason for the heat on her cheeks.
My dear Celeste,
May I be the first to express my sympathy at the way you were treated by the rouge of your ex-fiance. A woman like you should not be treated like a show horse, but as a golden pearl, so rare not even the endless blue of the ocean can contain its illuminant shimmer. For years, I have been dreaming of you. Please permit me to show you the love that he denied you, to woo you and win your heart. If this is acceptable, simply write yes at the bottom of this letter and leave it on your desk.
All my love and hope,
Celeste swallowed hard. A man who wanted her attentions without going through her father? How scandalous! How ridiculous!
How delightful. She quickly scribbled on the bottom of the ripped sheets and taped them together, leaving the envelope on her desk. When she awoke the next morning, it was gone.
By that afternoon, a poem had come, with the same seal wax as before.
By the next day, another had arrived. And the day after that. And that. Weeks went by and she read every word of his letters, traveling through the stubbled words to wonders such as Greece and Europe and enduring family dinners that left her ribs sore from popping her stays with laughter. A month later, she nearly fell out of her chair at a quick scribble at the end of his nightly letter.
I will be in town tomorrow. May I see you?
Celeste seized a pen and scratched the word “YES” so deep the thin parchment tore and the wood buckled under the steel nub, leaving a permanent tiny hole. The next day, she spent all day at the beauty parlor, getting primped and curled and powdered and tweezed. She had the cook prepare their best roast and pudding and the butler bring out the best wine. She waited until the sun fell, but the doorbell never rang. Finally, at eight, she came down to dine.
A thin figure rose from the shadows and extended a shaky hand. Stunned, she drew back with a gasp. ”Please, Miss Celeste. I know I’m too late. I just wanted to see you.”
She stepped closer. ”Ronald?” What could her father’s accountant’s pale-faced son be doing here so late? ”Is my father all right?”
“He is, of course, madam.” Ronald flushed. ”I’m sorry to disturb you. I am… E.”
She regretted the snort more than the desolation in his eyes. ”You can’t be.”
“I am.” He got down on one knee. ”Celeste, I am a modest accountant with bad teeth and poor lungs. I am not a sportsman nor a brilliant businessman. I have no title, no real connections. But I have one thing, I can offer, that no other man can.”
Celeste raised an eyebrow. ”What is that?”
Ronald took a deep breath. ”I promise to write you every day. A love letter, a poem, a note. Every day, for the rest of our lives.” He took a small box out of his pocket and cracked the lid. A pretty, but small, diamond glimmered inside. ”Will you do me the honor of making me the happiest man who ever existed, Celeste?”
She looked at the ring, then at the runt figure in front of her.
And said yes.
Stay tuned, Invisible Friends! A new fun post mañana!
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