Dirty Aristocrat

By: Georgia Le Carre

Outside it had stopped snowing, and there was neither wind nor cloud. Just sub-zero temperatures and everything covered in a pristine layer of white. Even the leaf stems were white and sharp. Winter was always my favorite time at Barrington Manor. I looked around at the still wonderland with a kind of dull pleasure. I recognized its beauty even though I was too heavy hearted to actually appreciate it.

Still, how bizarre! All this now belonged to me.

The chauffeur opened the back door of the black Rolls Royce. I walked up to the car and with a grateful smile in his direction, slipped into it. It was warm inside the car. I breathed in the apple scented air-freshener and arranged my skirt over my legs. Then I leaned back and calmly stared out of the window at the passing scenery. My mind was mercifully blank. I would make it through this ordeal. I would wear my brave face. No one would ever know what I was really feeling.

Let them think I was a cold bitch.


Tawny Maxwell

As soon as we reached the church I spotted my stepchildren.

Robert’s oldest child, Rosalind, looked at me. Her eyes were shining with malice and hatred. She was the most dangerous and most vindictive of his children. At twenty-nine she was a tall, dark-haired, plain woman who had unfortunately inherited Robert’s big nose and strong jaw. She was married to a spineless man who hardly spoke at all and had two young children I had never met.

The middle child, Bianca, was much prettier since most of her genetic identity came from her mother. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for me she was not the sharpest pencil. She was engaged to a well-known footballer who was standing beside her looking rather ill at ease. She was what my grandma would have called an undercover hater. She flashed me a fake smile before turning back to her fiancé and leaning her fair head dramatically on his shoulder.

The youngest was Robert’s only son, Dorian. He was the best looking of the three. He had a full head of straight, dirty blond hair, smoldering blue eyes, and dimples when he smiled. He had charm and confidence, but underneath it lurked something dark. Much darker. In truth I was very wary of him. Slowly, he winked at me.

It was so insolent, so inappropriate, and so disrespectful, I felt something crumple up and die inside me. Robert was wrong. I couldn’t handle these people. Not in a million years. Not alone, anyway. They were a totally different species than me. They were devious and cunning and false.

My shocked gaze ricocheted away from Dorian and fell upon Ivan. He stood head and shoulders above everyone else. He was wearing a dark coat and his hair was slightly disheveled from the wind.

Still, it was his face that made me freeze.

Against the whiteness of the snowy landscape it was as if it was hewn from stone. His eyes were almost silver and shone out of his face like lights directly into my eyes. Through the distance something passed between us. Something electric that made the hairs on my body stand. I couldn’t look away. It was the strangest feeling. As if I had been walking for a long time in the wilderness and I was finally home. I had come home. As if even the life that I had lived was not my own. My life was with him.

Then he nodded at me and I inclined my head before my eyes slid away to the woman with him. The obligatory blonde. Beautiful, spoilt and from the same class as him. How many times I have seen them, and yet this time I knew a moment of piercing pain. Where I come from we just call it jealousy.

The jealousy surprised and confused me.

Must be the grief, I told myself. He is not for you, but he will be there for you.

No matter how cold and distant he was to me I could trust him. He was the only one I must trust. Robert had said so and I trusted Robert. That man will fight your corner, he said.

I turned my eyes towards the church entrance. Yes, I could do this. I would die before I let Robert down.

Ivan’s secretary hurried up to me.

‘Good morning, Mrs. Maxwell.’

‘Hello, Mrs. Macdonald,’ I said. All of a sudden I felt a jolt of panic. I clutched her hand. ‘The flowers on the top of the casket. They are dusky pink roses, aren’t they?’

She smiled faintly. ‘Yes, they are.’

‘Oh good. For a moment there I thought I forgot to tell Janice.’ Janice was Robert’s secretary and she had liaised everything with Mrs. Macdonald.

‘You didn’t,’ she said gently.

‘They were his mother’s favorite flowers,’ I explained.

‘I see.’ Her voice was polite.

Mrs. Macdonald’s gaze slipped down to my pendant. I understood. She could not help herself. It was so special. In a rush her eyes came up again, her expression almost guilty.

‘Come this way,’ she said and led me inside the cold, damp cathedral filled with hundreds of people. A sudden hush fell upon the gathered mourners. We walked up to the front pew silently, our shoes loud on the limestone floor. I could feel all their heads turn to watch me. Some were curious, others were openly envious or resentful. I am the American girl who appeared from nowhere, married a multimillionaire, and in two years was the heiress of a sizeable fortune. They don’t know I loved him entirely, the good, bad, the ugly. I loved all of it. They could not see my silent grief.

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