I ran into my bed chamber and slammed the door behind me. What an awful ending to what had been such a wonderful night. I flung my shawl my four poster bed in the middle of the room. I couldn’t believe the evening’s events; I had gone in a day from being the future Mistress Theodosia Antoinette Kingston to being the future Marchioness Theodosia Antoinette Ravenswood and I had been kissed for the first time and I had stood up to Dorian, a man I had only just met. It all seemed too much. And the worst part was, it was a secret. No one but myself and my mother knew that I was supposed to marry Valentine, no one but Valentine and I knew that we were informally engaged to be wed, and Dorian and Gabriella didn’t know anything about anything that had happened today. It was all too much. I was keeping too many secrets.
A sat stiffly on the bed, unsure of what to do or what to say or how to calm down. I buried my head in my hands. I heard a soft knock on the closed door.
“Sorry to bother you, Miss Theodosia,” the door was pushed slightly ajar as Cheyenne walked in “I thought you might need a hand off with your dress.”
“Oh, yes please, I can barely breathe in it.” I was relived to see her.
“Stand up then, Miss.” Cheyenne gestured to me. I stood. “Turn around.” I did. She started lifting material over my head and pulling at strings and loosening things until I was standing in a white corset and lacy petticoats. The rough stitching of the little pocket I had make in my petticoat to hide Mr Jameston’s novels was slacker than usual. “Miss, where the book?” she questioned, a little alarmed.
“The book from the brothel, Miss, its not in its pocket.” She whispered.
“Oh no, its not.”
“Where is it?” she asked. I had to think for a moment and then I remembered.
“Oh no, the Marquess has still got it.” I said in alarm.
“Oh no, Miss, why does he have it?”
“Well, it got dropped, it’s a long story, he must have still had it when we left the Summer House. Don’t worry, he won’t tell. I guess I’ll have to write to Mr Jameston and apologise for losing it and send him a little money.” I said. Cheyenne shook her head slightly. She began to help me off with my corset and petticoats and into my white lacy night dress.
“Well, there you are Miss, have a nice evening.” She turned to leave.
“I am going to marry Marquess Ravenswood.” I said without thinking.
“Really? How does that work? I thought you were going to marry Master Kingston and Miss Gabriella was going to marry Marquess Ravenswood.” She questioned.
“Please don’t tell anyone, no one knows yet. Its another long story, plans have changed.” I felt a certain amount of relief in having told someone.
“Oh, I won’t tell. I just hope Gabriella can still secure a good match.”
“Me too.” My voice trailed off.
“You ought to get some sleep, Miss.” Cheyenne turned and left the room, shutting the door behind her. I got into bed and rested my head on the white cotton pillow case. There was something hard underneath it. Reaching, I brought out a book, wrapped in white cotton. It was the present Gabriella had given me earlier. It seemed to hold such irony; she had given it to me so that I could practice writing my name with a title which was last held by Gabriella’s own mother and yet I was going to use it to write my name as that which Gabriella herself would have held if things were the way they were. I took it out and felt the white feather quill that was with it. Another knock on the door broke the silence.
“Darling, I thought I ought to say goodnight.” My mother entered the room. “The Marquess seemed in very high spirits when I left him in the hallway, waiting for his carriage, he told me he would be fine waiting by himself and that he thought it best that I came up to say goodnight to you.”
“Well, goodnight, mother.” I said.
“You must have done very well, darling. He seemed so happy.”
“I suppose I must have done.”
“With any luck, you’ll be a Marchioness by Autumn. Well, I’ll let you sleep.” She smiled at me and turned to leave.
I sat up a little more sharply as I heard the door close. I opened up the thick leather-bound notebook and started to lightly write the word Marchioness over and over on the first page, come to think of it, I wasn’t even sure I was spelling it correctly. It was so strange to think that this is what I would become. I heard a sudden bang on the windowpane. Startled, I got out of bed and went to the window. I heard a second bang. I opened it carefully.
“Theodosia!” a voice called up “I have your book!” it exclaimed.
“Valentine?” I called into the darkness.
“Look down!” he shouted. He was standing a few metres from the house with the book in his hand.
“Hello Valentine.” I shouted. “I thought you were going home.”
“I was.” He shouted back “Careful, someone might hear us.” He looked around hastily as if seeking inspiration. His eyes caught the huge wooden grid that was shackled to the wall outside my chamber where jasmine and clematis grew up through the gaps. With a tumultuous first step, he galloped to it and began to climb one handed, the other holding the book. I leant out of my window and took the book from him. “Is that it? Don’t I get a kiss for my trouble, Theodosia?”
“If that is what you desire.” I learnt a little further out of the open window and kissed him, taking his face in my hands. It felt just as good as it had the first time. We broke away slowly.
“That was exactly what I desired.” He smiled gently. “My address is on a piece of parchment inside the book, please write to me, Theodosia. Is it okay if I call upon you tomorrow?”
“Please, please call on me and of course I’ll write to you.” I kissed him again. “Valentine, its getting so dark, you should be going back to your house. Where do you live?”
“Ravens’ Wood. It was there before my family was.” He laughed lightly “Its about a mile that way.” He gestured to the right in the distance.
“When will your carriage be here?”
“I have no idea, I thought I might just walk it.” He grinned. “Actually Theodosia, could I trouble you for a light?” I nodded and turned quickly into my chamber, taking a long spill from the jar atop the mantlepiece, I lit it on one of the candles that burned by my bedside and inserted it into a small brassy lantern that sat beside the window.
“Here.” I smiled.
“Thank you, Theodosia. You have been most kind to me tonight.” I took his face in my hands one more time and kissed him deeply.
“Goodnight, Valentine. Promise you’ll come here tomorrow.” I begged him.
“I promise that a thousand times over and I would call on you a thousand times before then if time allowed it. Goodnight, Theodosia.” He took the lantern from me and began to descend back to the earth.
“I love you, Valentine.” I whispered into the cool night air. From the front of the house, I heard the ever-watching clock face chime ten as Valentine disappeared into the darkness. I shut the window and turned back into my chamber.