Twenty-Fifth of May
I feel that I must take a trip into the land of fantasy. I know that a woman of my station must refrain from such acts but I cannot help myself. Mother would be furious is she knew that I am entertaining such thoughts. A lady should shield herself from sin even in her most intimate of personal spaces. If I do not let out my words here in your pages, I am terribly afraid that I will do so in my correspondence with the, shall I dare say it, delectable, Mr. Roderick Winters. To do so would have dire consequences as I am sure that mother reads each word before posting my letters. Into the land of fantasy, I go filled with much trepidation, fear, and desire.
I feel that the only way I will be able to describe my growing desires is to write the events as if they were entirely fiction. This will test my limits as I am far out of my comfort zone. How much further will I go once I begin? It is best if I do not think too much. I will lose my nerve and that simply will not do. A fictional tale it shall be. I am taking you along for this ride, dear diary. You are my only outlet, my only hope for peace.
What if a moment, not an ordinary one, but a special one that happened by happy accident, became THE moment? What if the barriers that separate you no longer existed? Would the moment change? How would it change? Would the end result be better or something worse? What if instead of leaping, you jumped? What would happen?
Let me take you, dear diary into to the kingdom of What If. Here, I can be free to choose what my heart truly desires without consequences. Once I have selected a course of action, I can explore this decision to its fullest. I must think carefully now. One wrong choice and I risk turning a happy moment, or worse THE moment into a missed opportunity. Not an easy decision, is it? I have such a decision before me. I must play this out to see what would happen if I proceed with what I am planning. Let me describe the events that led up to this entry. Then, I shall go to the Land of What If and see where that road takes me.
My parents were throwing a party to celebrate the Summer Solstice. My mother was especially excited this evening and fussed over me for an entire week prior. I have to admit that I both cherished this affection and loathed it. Mother only showers me with attention when she thinks she has a chance to marry me off to a well-to-do suitor. I know that I am not getting any younger, I am practically an old hag at the age of eighteen, but dolling myself up in fancy attire just to attract a member of the opposite sex is not my idea of a good time. I feel like an imposter when I wear the silk gowns, trimmed in fine lace. My curls are tamed instead of flowing freely down my back. I feel as if I am wearing someone else’s body.
The gentlemen that my mother selects for me would all make good husbands. Unfortunately, they are a loathsome bunch. Most are old enough to be my father! The thought of having to bed ones of these prunes is enough to make my stomach lurch. If forced, I would be the good wife and do my womanly duty but inside, my soul would die a thousand black deaths. My time has run out. Prior to this party I could afford to be choosy in my selection. However, with my nineteenth birthday looming, I must decide or have the choice taken from me. My father has sided with my mother in this matter. My heart weeps at this grave news for the usual brand of elderly chaps will most likely be among the suitors.
On the morning of the party, I received wonderful news. My dearly loved cousin, Fredrick, will be attending the party. He has much to tell me of his travels abroad. We write each other every week but it is not the same. I love him dearly. He is my best friend. Maybe he will shield me from mother’s suitors and delay the inevitable. He was always there when we were children to protect me. I owe him so very much.
The night of the party arrived. Mother spent the entire day bustling around the house, barking orders at the servants, and driving me slightly insane with all of her fussing over me. At my mother’s insistence, my father ordered an extravagant dress for me to wear this evening. I hate to admit that I was quite taken by its beauty. The fabric feels like liquid on my bare skin. Martha, my chamber maid, thinks it is a bit too risky. I have to agree. The back is open baring much more skin than I am accustomed to and the dainty sleeves barely cover my shoulders. Luckily, Martha will fix my long hair so that the curls cascade down my back. I will not feel so naked. Mother hates it but I begged her to allow it. I told her that it was a more dignified style that would convey grace and youth. That won her over but only barely.
Guests started to arrive at dusk. Everyone who was anyone had been invited and the Champagne was due to flow freely. Once most of the guests had arrived, I was to make my appearance. I waited upstairs patiently for what felt like eternity. Martha finally told me my mother was ready for me. As I rounded the corner of our grand staircase, all eyes turned towards me. Under their glance, my feet froze to the top stair. I tried to smile but it felt false on my face. Panic started to take over my whirling thoughts as I tried to gauge the faces below. I saw jealously and contempt on the ladies’ faces. On the men’s, I saw lust and greed. I was but a second from fleeing when who should come to my rescue but my dear cousin Frederick. He moved through the crowd with practiced ease and took the steps two at a time until he reached me.
“Dear cousin, you know how to make an entrance.” He whispered playfully while extending his arm to me. “What on earth are you wearing, dearest?”
“It was not my idea cousin. I feel like a common trollop.”
“You look lovely. As you well know, you are nothing but common. Stick with me this evening and I shall keep the more spirited participants of this little soiree away from you.”
“My hero.” I said with a smile as he led me down the stairs and into the thick of the party guests.
We mingled for about an hour before I caught sight of the most beautiful man. Our eyes connected and I swear to you, dear diary, that the air between us became electrified. Frederick noticed immediately and started to smile. He beckoned to this new comer to join us while giving me a gentle elbow to the ribs to stop my open stares.
Stopping a respectable distance from us, the gentlemen greeted Fredrick with a warm smile before taking my hand and planting the faintest of kisses upon my knuckles. His stared boldly into my eyes as he did so. That electricity came back and surged throughout my body as his puckered lips barely caressed the surface of my skin. His hands were warm and his touch lingered even after he released me. Frederick made introductions. This stranger’s name was Roderick. He was my cousin’s companion after an unfortunate incident at a local bar in Spain.
Little did I know that my mother had seen this entire exchange. She was intrigued by this new man. It was not long before she shanghaied Frederick to learn more. In doing so, she left me with Roderick who took this opportunity to ask me to dance. Dancing, as you know diary, is not my strong suit. I must have stepped on poor Roderick’s toes a thousand and one times. Each time he laughed a little and whispered encouraging words to help me along. I was moved by his kindness. With his guidance, I managed to not make a complete buffoon out of myself and I am sure his feet were thankful for that.
Frederick returned after three dances and asked if he could speak with Roderick in private. I thought I saw disappointment in Roderick’s eyes. As soon as the pair departed, I was overrun by the hopeful suitors my mother had hand selected for me. For the next several hours, I became little more than a puppet. With each new suitor, a little more of my spirit withered. The champagne was flowing rather often at this point and hands began to become a big more wayward. I excused myself before they could find their intended targets.
Sneaking through the backdoor of the kitchen, I wandered outside. The cool air was refreshing. My skin felt tainted and dirty. I thought a nice walk through the gardens would clear my head and give clarity to my spirit. The scent of the blooms was calming. A light mist floated around the grass, cradling each plant. I knew there was a gazebo in the middle of the gardens. I love to sit in the swing and listen to the night. I thought that this was exactly what I needed before I returned to the party.
Even in the dark, I knew my way through the well-worn paths. I made my way up the stairs of the gazebo and tripped over something in the dark. Hands grabbed me before I tumbled back down the stairs. I was twirled around and sat down on the swing with a thump. Before a scream could escape my lips, a warm hand pressed itself over my mouth. I felt a body next to mine in the dark.
“Do not scream. It is only me.” A familiar voice whispered in the dark as the hand slowly retracted from my mouth. It was Roderick.
“Did I hurt you?” he asked sheepishly.
“No. You only startled me. I should be going. If anyone saw us out here without a chaperon, the consequences would be dire for us both.”
“Please stay. I will retreat into the shadows if anyone approaches. I would love to get to know you more. Your cousin talks endless about you.”
I dared not to stay with him in the dark. I did not trust myself as his allure was calling to my very soul. I told him as much and that a lady I am and a lady I shall always be. I could have stayed, dear diary. I should have stayed. I wanted to stay. I did not however. I squeezed his hand gently and turned to leave. Before I made it down the first step, he grabbed my hand and kissed it gently once more. I could not see his face, but I could feel his eyes burning into mine. I gave his hand another squeeze before returning to the party. No one had noticed my absence so I took the opportunity to retire upstairs.
The next morning, my mother was furious that I had not stayed at the party. She received several earfuls from the hopeful suitors who demanded that I make my choice by sundown that very day. Frederick intervened on my behalf, asking if he could take me for a day holiday into the country side so that I may clear my head. He argued further that a decision as important as this one should not be taken lightly and the fresh air was exactly what I needed. My mother protested at first but after he insisted that he could persuade me to decide, she agreed.
I was under the impression that we would have a picnic at our favorite spot. Instead, Frederick led me to the stable where we kept the horses instead of the carriage house. With a knowing smile, we took our two steads along the path that led to a place only the two of us knew about. As children, we used to have a special hideout in the woods on the borders of our father’s two properties. This was our destination this day. We had built a small corral for the horses so that we could explore at our leisure. It was still intact. We left our horses to graze and walked the now overgrown path to our getaway.
The woods opened up to a lovely meadow filled with sweet grass. I was delighted to see that our picnic basket and blanket was already set up upon our arrival. Frederick had no plans to stay, however. Perplexed, I watched him leave after he said I would be dining with another. He promised to be back in time to escort me home. He said, by then, I would have an answer for my mother.
I sat on the blanket in confusion. Why would he leave me? It did not make sense. I did not wish to marry any of the suitors my mother had picked. Eventually, I decided to not think about it at all. Instead, I would watch the clouds go by. The sun felt delightful on my skin. It was not long before it lulled me to sleep. I was almost lost in my dreams when someone gently shook my arm. Sitting up with a start, I almost knocked over Roderick.
“Do you always sleep in the woods, my dear lady?” he asked with a mischievous smile.
Despite myself, I laughed and hard. He joined me in my laughter and sat upon the blanket next to me. The next several hours were bliss. We talked about life, our desires, our wants, our needs. We laughed and laughed like old friends. There were times where we would sit and listen to the day. The silence was peaceful and sweet. I have to admit that I wished that day could have lasted forever. A part of me was saddened when Frederick appeared again. He must have seen the disappointment on my face. I quickly hid it so that Roderick would not see it as well. Luckily, he was walking over to Frederick and missed it completely. They exchanged a few words. Frederick did not seem pleased by what he was hearing. Both men turned to me. One looked with longing. The other with sadness. Roderick left Frederick’s side and turned to walk away from us both. Before he disappeared into the trees, he looked back with longing one last time. Frederick joined me and silently helped me gather up our supplies. When we reached the stables once more he took my hand and looked me deeply into my eyes as if searching for answers.
“Tell me what troubles you. I cannot face my mother without hearing your words.”
He sighed wearily before beginning, “Tell your mother that you have chosen Lord Miller to continue his courtship.”
“Lord Miller! Are you mad? He is vile and the worst of the entire lot.”
“I know but that is who your mother prefers the most. It is the best I can do for you cousin. Tell her what I said.”
“I will do no such thing. Why are you condemning me to a life with that man?”
“You give me no alternative, you silly woman. Unless your heart already belongs to another, then you are destined to become Lady Miller.” His eyes pleaded with me, for what I was momentarily at a loss to know.
“Another? I haven’t met……..” I stopped. Surely he did not mean Roderick. Did he? I searched his face as he saw my unspoken question and raised his eyebrows in response.
“There is another but I am not sure if……” I began.
“I thought as much. I will tell your mother of your decision. The parade of suitors will stop now. The courtship will begin. I will make sure that it lasts at least six months. By then, you better be sure. It is the best that I can do for you. I will give you just one piece of advice. If the chance comes, take the leap. Do it without thinking. Just leap.”
With this, he left me in the stable even more confused that I was prior. To my horror, he told my mother that I had chosen Lord Miller. This confounded me to no end. I thought he wished me to be courted by Roderick. Why else had he arranged the rendezvous in the woods? I went to bed that night and cried myself to sleep. The next day I was to make my choice official and go on the first chaperoned date with my new choice. My skin crawled at the thought as tears soaked my pillow.
The next morning, I awoke early and told Martha that I was going to take my horse out for ride before breakfast. I left without giving her a chance to respond. I raced to my meadow hideout as if I was trying to outrun the devil. I found a uplifting surprise when I arrived at the makeshift horse corral. Someone had tied a bouquet of lavender to one of the hitching posts with white ribbon. I removed the flowers and a note dropped onto the grass below. Intrigued, I opened the letter. It read:
In a sea of faces, yours has drawn me in. Your eyes command my attention. I find myself thinking of their clear blue depths for hours. I see life and my love in them. Your laugh tickles my senses and sends them soaring into the clouds. In the most tranquil of meadows, listening to the birds sing songs to the trees, I wish of nothing more than to bask in your glory for all of eternity.
I am not a rich man, as I only have myself and a few humble possessions to offer you. A lady such as yourself deserves much more, but I hope that it will be enough. If you feel the same as I, meet me here tomorrow night at dusk. I have made arrangements for us to travel to a new land with the help of one who wishes us nothing but happiness. I hope you will take this leap of faith with me. In the end, it is in your lovely hands.
Now. Always. Forever. Yours.
It is here, dear diary that I must take leave of reality and slip into the land of fantasy. I am terrified and excited by the prospect. I hope that by the end, I will be able to decide, whether I stay and marry Lord Miller or do I leap and elope with Roderick?
With that in mind……..here……goes……nothing…….
Like any Once Upon a Time story, I will start at the beginning of the evening. My date with Lord Miller had been cancelled due to rain, much to my relief. The clouds blew away an hour before dusk so I ventured out to the gazebo to wait. Earlier in the day while the storm was raging, I had taken a suitcase and hidden it in the woods near the corral. It was surprisingly easy to slip it past everyone. Since I had made my decision, no one in the house has paid me any attention. I had not seen Frederick since our picnic. I just hoped that what I was about to do was what he had been hinting at. The daylight started to fade so I slipped down to the stables to get my horse.
When I arrived, Frederick was waiting for me.
“You’ll never make it on horseback. Your mother suspects something is amiss.”
“What do I do? I have to leave now.”
“Go back inside and carry on with your evening. I will come for you after dark.”
“What about Roderick? He is expecting me.”
“I know. I will take care of it. Just please, go back inside.”
I trust Frederick with my life. Because of this, I go back inside instead of meeting my soul mate in the wilderness.
Darkness comes and still there is no sign from Frederick. I can delay no longer and must turn in for the night. My heart is heavy and filled with despair. I do not think that sleep will come easily but as soon as my head rests onto the pillow, I fall into a deep sleep.
I awaken to find myself in a carriage. Frederick is riding with me.
“Good morning sleeping beauty!” he exclaims with a smile.
“What on earth? Frederick, what is going on?”
“Why we are on our way, dear cousin.”
“On our way where?”
Laughing he explains, “To meet your future husband of course!”
“How did you get me out of the house?”
“Oh, that was easy. I had your mother drug your bed time tea. I told her that you might try to sneak out in the middle of the night and meet up with your young lover. She was so appalled that she agreed to do it. Enough questions for now. We have arrived.”
The carriage pulls up to a lovely cottage. It is small but very handsome. Frederick steps out and assists me. I am so taken with the view that I do not notice who is driving at first. It is none other than my father! Fear fills me instantly. Has Frederick betrayed my trust? Have I been delivered to Lord Miller instead of my soul mate, Roderick?
My father descends the driver’s seat and approaches me with a warm smile.
“My daughter, why do you look so frightened? Did Frederick not tell you where we are, my dear?”
My voice feels lost in my throat. I can only nod as a single tear threatens to fall from my welling eyelids.
“Do not cry little one. Your mother may not approve of your choice, but I do. I have spoken to the man that has won your heart at great length. He will make you a fine husband. Go and be happy, just remember to write your mother often.”
With this, my father and cousin leave me to my fate.
I enter the cottage. It is even more spectacular on the inside. The simple furnishings sing with warmth and love. I move through the rooms, soaking in each detail. I leave the bedroom for last. The door is ajar and I can see a shadow moving on the other side. My heart is pounding in my chest. I take a deep, slow breath and open the door. There is no one in the room. The curtains are floating in the breeze. I turn to leave when an object on the bed catches my eye. It is an envelope. Inside, there is a letter written in a now familiar script:
I trust your journey was a restful one. I shall meet you shortly.
Thank goodness no one can read my mind. I would have been institutionalized years ago. My nerves are trying to get the best of me. Why in the world am I so nervous? I pace around the small bedroom trying to calm myself. On my fiftieth or maybe one hundred and fiftieth trip around in circles, there is a knock at the door. I almost jump out of my skin.
Rolling my eyes at my own silliness, I peak in through the door. I am greeted by an emerald frock. Whomever it is, they are rather tall. I peek out of the door, well up. My visitor has about a foot of height on me. I had quite forgotten how much taller, Roderick is than I and suddenly, I feel rather short. He is smiling like a loon.
“Are you going to let me in or are we going to do it this way?” he said with a laugh.
“Of course. Where are my manners? Please, come in.” I gesture for him to enter. I don’t know what kind of cologne he is wearing but my goodness does he smell good when he passes. I shake my head a little to clear it. My nerves kick up another notch just looking at him. My heart is not quite racing, but it is steadily beating harder.
I stand by the door, unsure of what to do next. Roderick sits in an overstuffed chair and looks at me. His gaze is mesmerizing. Feeling like a silly school girl, I walk over to the chair beside him and have a seat. The minutes tick away on the clock. Somewhere, a bird is singing. Roderick turns to look at me. I can feel his stare burning into me. The urge to squirm becomes almost too much to bare. I take a deep breath and match his gaze.
His face is a mask that I cannot read. Suddenly, Frederick’s words echo through my mind. He said that when the moment came, I should leap. Is this the moment he spoke of? I am uncertain but somehow I know that the next few moments are crucial. Either I continue to sit here like a lump or I do something. My choice is taken away from me when another knock breaks through the silence, startling me a second time.
Roderick rises and answers the door. He exchanges words with a gentleman outside then points to me. The gentleman nods, writes something on a piece of parchment, hands Roderick a small package, shakes his hand and then departs.
Closing the door, Roderick turns to me. He suddenly looks both excited and shy. Kneeling at my feet, he presents me the box wrapped in plain brown paper, bound with simple twine in the shape of a bow. Inside, is a wedding ring. It is a plain silver band that ends in a swirl. A small, yet elegant diamond is nestled inside the silvery folds. I love it immediately. I look into his eyes to see both doubt and hope. I hold the ring out to him and present my left hand. He slides the ring home.
Our wedding night is upon us. For a second, I didn’t think my feet would move from the spot they seemed glued to but they did. I turned slowly and walked towards the bed where Roderick was perched, watching me. I stand a few steps before him and close my eyes. My nightgown blows gently in the breeze. I know that I still have to discarded it before entering the bed. I hear a soft scraping in front of me. My heart that is booming in my ears drowns out any further noise. I take a deep breath and open my eyes. To my surprise, the noise I had heard was him standing up and turning his back to me. All I could do was smile.
“Gather yourself and I will turn back around.” He says quietly.
I walk up to him and whisper for him to turn around. I am filled with nervous excitement. He turns to face me.
His forehead creased slightly as I slide my nightgown down over my shoulders, letting it pool at my feet. Understanding filled his eyes as I guided my undershirt down the same shoulders. With a well-practiced move, I unlatched the back and let it fall at my feet. I slide them out of the way and stand inches from him. Gently taking his hands, I placed them on my hips, hooking his thumbs in the waistband of my white cotton panties. I slide my hands slowly up his arms watching his lips part as I make my way up his shoulders and undo the buttons on his shirt. I guide my fingers back up his chest, parting the garment on my accent until it cascades down his arms and onto the floor. Moving back down his chest, I allow my nails to lightly scraped his skin causing him to inhale sharply. Finally, I rest my fingertips against his hips, thumbs in the band of his trousers.
“Together.” I pant softly.
“Together.” He replies in turn.
He leans down as he gently slides my panties past my hip bones. As I pull his trousers down, I slide my thumb nails along his inner thigh. Our slight panting becomes a craving need. I gingerly release his manhood from its confines. It thumbs onto my stomach as I do so, leaving a trail of his need just above my bellybutton. The contact starts a fire. I start to ache, my own need growing almost too great to bare. One swift tug and this torture could end. Instead we draw it out some more and let gravity finish the job.
I slide up just a little as he leans down further. Our hands are resting on each other’s hips. We stop with our lips opened, tasting each other breath, savoring it. Gently, our lips finally touch. It is the faintest of touches that sends electricity throughout our bodies. The need is too great. Overcome, he tangles his hands into my hair and kisses me deeply. I have to hold onto him as the strength goes out of my legs. He is putting his soul into every swish of his tongue, every caress of his lips. The light that was burning inside me erupts as I pour my soul right back into him. Time stops as we pull apart, our foreheads touching. Gasping for air, we stand like this. Neither wanting to let go. Neither wanting the moment to end. It is THE MOMENT after all.
In the kingdom of What If, two souls find their missing half. That moment, leads to others. Each one is a treasure. Each one is so very precious. The excitement never leaves them as they know they will have many adventures, together.
It is here that I must leave the land of What If. I am loathsome to do so, but must for the hour has grown rather late. I have made my decision. Thank you dear diary for once again listening to my woes and guiding me to my destiny.
Now. Forever. Always. Yours.
Mary Katherine Bosworth