A Night in the Life
As the wiser already know, finding true love is not that easy. Love is a complicated subject to even describe, so it is not going to be any easier to find it. Love chooses to bestow its grace on unsuspecting people, the people who weren't searching for it, or wanting it to come to them. It tests your limits, drives you mad, makes you want to be as free as you feel. It is a feeling, an emotion, a drive. It is a sixth sense. It makes you aware of that one person that fate picked for you. Love is never a choice, a decision you make yourself when you feel you are ready. Love knows when you are ready.
Love finds you.
Someone entered the tavern. A few men drinking by the doors glanced up, but only saw a cloaked figure, the hood pulled down over her eyes so all they saw was a button nose and a dark mark above the left side of her ruby red lips.
Not finding the woman familiar, the men shrugged and went back to their tankards and conversations.
It was not until she walked past the tables to the bar that she unclasped her cloak and removed the hood. She set the cloak aside on the stool to her left. With the aura of mystery removed, some of the men looked over. They nudged their friends and began referring to her in recognition, but soon resumed their conversations.
She adjusted the skirt of her black wool dress before sitting down, which still drew as much attention as her bright silk and lace gowns, to her disgruntlement. Of course, what did she expect when she was a walking scandal?
Thankfully, the bartender had more dignity. "Anything for you, mademoiselle?" he asked politely, like he would to anyone else.
Her hand strayed to the opal hair comb in her tresses. "Just an ale, please."
On the other side of the tavern, one particular man was admiring her from the back corner booth. "Mon Dieu, you do not see a woman like that every day."
His friend beside him followed his stare. "I agree. So go talk to her."
"I took the initiative with the last girl who walked in. It is your turn, mon ami."
"You found her first. You should be the one."
"No, no, no, it has been too long since I have seen you try to charm a woman, Nicolas. Watching you would be much more entertaining."
"Lumière, honestly, go talk to her. She does not seem my type anyway."
Lumière shrugged. "If you insist."
As he stood up to walk over to her, another man was approaching her. Lumière immediately sat back down, disappointed.
"Apparently, we are not the only men on the lookout," Nicolas observed.
As the girl waited for her drink, a smooth voice behind her inquired, "Do you mind if I sit here?"
She turned to see a dashing young man with jet black hair tied back in a ponytail, and a chiseled chest that she could make out through his plain white shirt, along with his biceps. Green eyes sparkled at her. His hand rested on the stool next to hers.
She looked at him, a small smirk playing on her lips to mirror his. "Does it look like I would mind?"
"No, but one has to ask."
"Being the gentleman tonight?"
He sat down, taking her hand and kissing it.
"I suppose that would answer my question," she said, her smile widening.
He grinned back. "May I introduce myself?"
She raised an eyebrow at him. "Do you really need my permission?"
"As you said, I am being the gentleman tonight."
The bartender slid her mug to her waiting hand, and she took a large sip.
"Honestly," she began, slamming her glass down, "I do not want a gentleman tonight."
He laughed. "Then I can adjust."
She smiled at him again with an interest. "That is what I like to hear."
"I am Alphonse," he revealed.
"Enchanté," he murmured, kissing her hand again.
"Likewise," she replied, contemplating him over the rim of her glass.
He watched her also. "I am sorry, but what is a beautiful woman like you doing in a place like this?"
"Believe it or not, to me it is quite refreshing." She gestured her mug. "Not counting the drinks."
He let out a laugh and pointed a thumb to the drinking, guffawing men behind him. "You mean to tell me you find these people refreshing?"
"Trust me. They are better than what I have to deal with during the day." She took another sip from her ale.
Alphonse leaned a little closer on the bar. "I would love to hear about your day then."
"I come here to get away from what I deal with all day!"
"Could you speak about it... vaguely?"
She sighed, but was pleased by his interest. "Let me simply say that everyone I am forced to meet is stiff, over-polite, and infuriatingly boring."
He raised a confused eyebrow. "Forced?"
"Oui. I would never speak to these people otherwise."
He chuckled. "Now I understand. That would drive me to the tavern, too."
"Do not worry," she smirked, glancing at him from the side. "My nights are considerably better."
"I cannot believe I almost missed you coming in," Alphonse reflected.
"That was the point, actually. I do not want to draw too much attention to myself in here."
"For you, it must be very difficult."
Babette smiled, but elaborated, "The reason is someone might recognize me. Then I would be in some very deep trouble."
"Not allowed in the tavern?" he guessed.
She paused as she thoughtfully drank, then replied, "You could say that."
"What, is there more?"
"I am not allowed out of the house."
He whistled. "Every answer brings more questions."
"I like to keep them questioning," she smirked.
"And I would love to continue to ask," Alphonse affirmed, regretfully rising from his seat. "But I have a… meeting to attend."
Babette looked up at him from under her long lashes. "Ah, so soon?"
"Unfortunately." He kissed her hand. "It has been a great pleasure." He gazed her curiously. "Perhaps we will meet again."
He bowed gracefully, a certain shine in his eye that made Babette's heart contract. "Adieu, Babette."
"For now." And she watched him depart, eyes never leaving his back until the door shut behind it.
As she finished the last of her drink, Babette could not help but wonder about Alphonse. She had met many different men in this very tavern and on the streets in broad daylight, but something about this one was unique. Oh, she hoped they met again soon.
"Look, that man left," Nicolas pointed out.
Lumière looked up from swirling the wine in his glass. He waved a hand. "Ah, the moment's passed."
Nicolas glanced over at him oddly. "You do not at least want to find out her name?"
"If you want to ask her, be my guest."
Giving up, Nicolas said, "Is something else occupying your thoughts?"
Lumière grimaced. "A girl… back at the château."
Nicolas rolled his eyes. "Of course. What was I thinking?"
Babette checked the clock over the fireplace, and noticed it was getting late. Her parents would be worried… and angry.
She did not want to leave! This was the only time she could be surrounded by normal, workaday people. She did not have to try and make a good impression, to give a pretty smile to everyone she greeted and spoke to, or even to pretend to act like she knew and remembered anybody. She never had to explain herself to these good bourgeois. They didn't ask what she was doing here or why. They let her mind her own business. She felt more at home among these men than with her own kin, the rich and proud: the nobles.
More like the stuck-up and humorless, with their cravats and corsets so tight they could not even laugh if they wanted to. It was so unnatural! And they were as two-faced as the god, Janus. To be polite to a person and then gossip about them behind their back was so dishonest. Having been forced to come to the drawing room after dinner, Babette had heard from enough aristocrats that this was a common trait.
This was why she left the house so often. Her parents thankfully understood why also, because they were among the few nobles who were rational and had a clear understanding that gossip creates a bad reputation.
What her parents did not approve of was what she did when she left the house, and she left it much too often as well. Babette entertained herself with the many handsome men that crossed her path, which her parents have deemed highly inappropriate, especially for one of noble birth.
But she did not want to stop, and she found it much too addicting. The men she met were a breath of fresh air to the stuffiness of the high class. So much satisfaction came from teasing them until she announced her game of hard-to-get over with a multitude of kisses.
The problem was that it was not fun with only one monsieur. There was something new in every boy she played with. She would then find another man after a couple of days, during which Babette would stay at home those nights to reassure her parents. After that, the boy would have moved on and so had she…
Nicolas said after a moment's silence, "To be honest, I am surprised you are letting one girl get to you."
Not seeming to hear this, Lumière asked, "Do you think I am afraid of commitment?"
Nicolas looked at him strangely. "What are you talking about?"
Lumière rolled his eyes, explaining, "The girl at the château. That is what she told me… quite angrily, in fact."
His friend leaned back in his seat, thinking. "Well, you have to admit, your actions prove it true."
"I am not afraid of it," Lumière corrected, setting his wine glass down. "It simply is not appealing to me right now."
"Then there is your answer."
"But this girl made it seem like I am a horrible person because of it, and now I cannot help but wonder."
"I say, you have had too much wine," Nicolas chuckled, moving Lumière's wine glass away from him.
Lumière smiled. "Of course! I am never this sentimental without a few glasses." He glanced back at the girl all alone at the bar. "That poor girl needs company."
Just as he stood up again, the woman was putting on her cloak to leave and she was gone as quickly as she had come.
Lumière threw his hands into the air. "That is that! My night is officially over," he lamented as his friend laughed at his misfortune.
At seven-thirty in the evening, Babette quietly slipped out of her room, shutting the doors with a faint click. Constantly glancing behind to check no one was watching her, she made her way through the marble-paneled halls in silence. Soon, she was at the top of the grand staircase. As she crept down the steps, she could hear her parents talking with fellow nobles in the drawing room off the foyer about whatever had almost put Babette to sleep during dinner.
Babette sneaked past the doors left ajar to the drawing room on her tiptoes, making a few glances around to make sure no servants popped in unexpectedly. Her progress to the front doors went unnoticed and, with a smile gradually growing on her lips, she slipped through them with ease and shut them with as much care as possible.
She grasped her skirts and made her way across the manicured lawn and drive to the front gates swiftly in the light of dusk, closing them carefully as well as she locked them with her key so no more than a small creak broke the quiet of La Clayette. Regularly checking her surroundings for townspeople taking a late autumn stroll, Babette walked briskly down the sidewalk in her leather flats that didn't make a sound on the cobblestone. It only took a few minutes for her to finally be under the cover of night, where she only had the light from windows in the apartments above the various shops that bordered the avenue to guide her. She soon escaped the street and turned unto a bridge lined with trees.
Babette slowed her pace, letting herself relax. She made it here without arousing alarm. Gazing out across the lake, watching the moon's reflection on the water, she walked leisurely to the center of the bridge to wait. She took a deep breath of the cold, crisp night air and leaned on the rail, glad she had loosened her corset before coming here. She looked up at the many stars and constellations that dotted the sky, admiring how they twinkled in the vast darkness, never dwindling and always there…
Strong arms hugged her waist from behind and she fell into the man embracing her, turning her head to meet his lips, breathing passion into every kiss. With bodies pressed against each other, the man withdrew to whisper in her ear, "I am glad you made it here." He kissed her neck.
"I would never miss the chance to be with you." Babette sighed, gripping him more tightly.
"Do your parents know?"
She laughed. "Of course not! I was very careful."
"Good." And he resumed kissing wherever skin showed.
After a moment of pleasure, Babette asked, "Alphonse?"
He withdrew to look her in the eye. "Oui, ma fleur?"
"How long must we keep up this… this forbidden love? When are we going to be able to show our love in public?"
"As much as you have told me, it is nigh impossible for us to expose ourselves as lovers to anyone." He smirked. "Forbidden love," he mused, then said more softly, "I like it."
They kissed again and Babette lost the need to argue, ardor blotting the rest of the world into nonexistence.
Babette wished she could keep feeling his lips on hers, but a nagging thought wouldn't go away, so she had to stop to voice it. "Alphonse," she said seriously, gazing up into his green eyes, "do you love me?"
"Of course, chérie," he replied with a smile, his handsome voice soothing. "In fact, I have been wanting to show you how much I love you, if you will let me."
Her shoulders eased. "You have?"
"Yes, so I ask you…" He grasped her hand in both of his own. "Will you make the vow of love with me tonight?"
Her eyes widened. "You mean…?"
"Where we shed everything and hide nothing." To emphasize his point, he slowly moved her sleeve past her shoulder.
"If it is possible." Hurt touched Alphonse's stare. "Do you not want to?"
She shook her head. "No, no, of course I do," Babette replied without hesitation to fix the harm she caused. "It is only that… my parents—"
"Ah," he nodded, understanding. "You are scared they will know."
Babette felt a pang of indignation. "I am not scared!"
"What is it then?" Alphonse inquired. "They will never know."
She continued to look affronted, eyes downcast until Alphonse said, "All right, I have a solution." She glanced up, still showing she was offended. He stroked her hair. "Tonight, at midnight, I will come to you in your bedroom without detection, and I will make sure I am gone before dawn."
"How are you going to…?" She was shushed by a finger on her lips.
"Do not worry," he assured, his eyes sparkling with that mischievousness Babette fell in love with. "I have my ways." He kissed her hand. "I must go prepare for you. I will see you soon." He kissed her on her waiting lips, and she tried to prolong it as long as she could, not wanting to let go but also dreading her return home. Nothing but trouble awaited her there.
Then Alphonse fled like a ghost in the night, leaving Babette to stand alone on the bridge, not wanting to tread home to strict parents and rules to follow.
The clock tower chimed, and she knew she could not procrastinate any longer, so she began running back to her mansion. Hopefully, a lecture didn't await her on the threshold, and her parents hadn't checked on her to make sure she was sleeping. But this was wistful thinking; She hadn't yet gone out at night and come back unnoticed.
Slipping through the iron gate, she ran up to the door, and was about to open it when she thought better. That is where they will probably be waiting, she rationalized, remembering she had used the front entrance the other evening. She had to change where she entered her home every time she returned from her nights on the town to have a better chance of slipping inside with no one spotting her.
So she jogged around the mansion, ducking under windows as she headed for the stables where a back door led to a small landing next to the kitchen. A servants' hidden corridor was nearby, and she could sneak upstairs undetected.
As Babette crept inside, she heard voices coming from beyond the hallway leading to the kitchen.
"… probably with some other boy again!" her mother exclaimed with the usual tone of distaste that had pursued Babette since the day of her first kisses—five in row. "I have had it up to here with this nonsense! When is she going to learn? It has been four years!"
"She will learn," came the calm, reasonable voice from Babette's father, as always trying to soothe his wife's rage. "It is only a phase. I got over it around her age."
"Ah-ha," her mother said, as though realizing something, "so that is where she got it from." A touch of playful blame was imminent. "Now the truth comes out!"
Her father chuckled, and averred, "Just give her time, Clarisse. It will all pass soon enough."
"It should have passed already! We have told her again and again, and it seems to go right through her ears every time. She cannot act this way in public anymore, René! She does not seem to understand that what she thinks—or doesn't think—others see affects us just as much as her, and it is ruining our reputation in this town. I have had to hide my face amongst other noblewomen who have accounted to me what our daughter does, and it is sad to say it has become so frequent that I am not even surprised anymore!"
As she heard her father trying to calm down Clarisse, Babette couldn't keep listening to her mother's harsh, stern voice. Her mother had been severe with her more frequently than maternal, and Babette had grown incredibly tired of it.
And there her mother was, worrying not about Babette's safety out in the early autumn night—oh no—she was concerned about her reputation, and the other noblewomen giving her dirty looks passing by on the street, because that was much more important than her own daughter. Anger and frustration boiled inside her.
But their guess was right: Babette was with a boy. A man who was everything she could want, one who was vowing his undying love for her tonight under their very noses, and they would never have a clue.
Sweet satisfaction filled her smirk as Babette traipsed the thin passage. She came upon no servant or soul as she slipped through the wall next to the study door and made it to her room, taking note of the empty chair by her door where her maid, Bernadette, kept her vigil.
She proceeded to take off the deep red dress she had altered, one with velvet sleeves of that color with lace cuffs that had been pulled past her shoulders after her exchange with Alphonse. She had given the bodice more fabric for her bosom so the dresses didn't flatten them painfully against her body, unlike the kind of gown she would have to wear during the day.
The dresses she rectified herself were at first to have material to practice her sewing on, as well as something to do. Then she had realized she could use the skills she had learned to make them more comfortable and much less suffocating than the dresses her mother made her wear.
If it was up to Babette, she wouldn't wear those heavy, stifling gowns in the first place. But she had to. One of the many reasons why she wished she was not a noble.
She changed into her nightgown and curled up in bed to wait for Alphonse to arrive, and it would also keep her parents at bay realizing she was home and safe. As she lay under the covers, she saw light shine behind her eyelids, and she knew someone was checking on her. The light went away as she heard the door close.
With eyes shut, Babette found herself reminiscing the past few weeks. It was the longest she had ever spent with one man. She knew it had to mean something. They had been the best weeks of her life, a wonderful escape from her dull, daily life. Alphonse loved her, and she loved him more than anyone she had met. He had to be… the one.
Babette smiled. Her heart beat with excitement, anticipating the stroke of midnight.
"Clarisse, I am not hearing it anymore! The answer is no!"
"Darling, be reasonable," Clarisse pleaded, leaning against René's desk. "Babette needs this! She wants to get out of the house anyway!"
"Not for that long!"
"Once we send her there, she will realize many things about her life and want to change. She will most likely want to come home afterwards! It would be the best for her."
René shook his head. "I do not believe that."
Clarisse sat down carefully across from him. Her words came out slowly. "René, she is nineteen, and yet nothing has changed to convince her to take on the responsibilities we uphold. She has to learn. Because of her immature ways, we have been forced to defer in fi—"
A knock interrupted her. René straightened in his chair before calling, "Come in."
Bernadette peeked from behind the door. "Babette is fast asleep, monsieur…" She nodded to Clarisse. "… madame."
Clarisse was surprised. "Already?" She checked the clock on the mantel. "It is not even midnight."
René shrugged. "I am not complaining. At least she is home." He stood and walked around his desk to the door.
Clarisse still did not look convinced, but followed him out as Bernadette opened the door wider for them.
Outside Babette's bedroom, René opened the door gingerly so as not to wake her, and crept inside with Clarisse close behind.
The moon's beams bathed the balcony in soft light and shined through the curtains that swayed gently in the breeze. They approached the four-poster bed, watching their daughter's breathing as she slept.
Clarisse sat on the edge of the bed carefully as René stood behind her, both pairs of eyes on Babette.
"Is that enough proof for you, chère?" he joked softly.
Even in the dim lighting, he could make out the dirty look his wife gave him, chastising him for ruining the moment. She did not reply but turned back to look at Babette.
"She is so beautiful," he said, his words barely a whisper.
Clarisse nodded. "It has been so long since I have seen her sleeping." She faced René. "I know I can be cruel to her sometimes, but I just want her to be safe. If anything ever happened to her… I do not know what I would do."
"I know, amour." He grasped her hand and kissed it. "But our little girl is strong. She can take care of herself better than you realize."
She gripped his hand. "And I love her so much for that." She moved a stray lock of hair and leaned in to kiss Babette's forehead.
Clarisse silently stood and, holding René's hand, they left the room and closed the door.
Babette opened her eyes and sat up straight, looking to where they had departed. She had never heard her mother speak so devoutly about her, and it really had caught her by surprise.
They thought she was strong. They knew they did not have to worry about her getting hurt, yet her mother especially did not like her taking the chance. Her mother cared. She really did care!
It was silly to think she did not, but all the more it made Babette smile at the reassurance, to have heard it from Clarisse's own mouth.
How could Babette ever betray her?
What she planned to do, it was not right. Her parents did not even know that Alphonse existed. The shame and guilt she would feel if she went through with it was too much to bear for the rest of her life.
Babette threw the covers back and began pacing in front of the balcony, her mind whirring too quickly to be sitting still. She would have to tell Alphonse that they could not make love tonight. It was much too risky in the first place! She could not believe she agreed to it! It was impulsive and stupid. Hopefully he will understand. If he truly loved her, he would understand.
But she was confident he would, and she relaxed as she stopped pacing, taking a seat on the bench in front of her vanity. She was still nervous about telling him, however, the more she thought about it. Her eyes wandered around to shift her attention, and she found herself gazing at the opal hair comb she had worn when she had met Alphonse, the one her father had given her.
Her father. She loved him dearly. He was so relaxed and assured, this being a sort of balm to when Maman would be stressed and uptight after a long day or a heated argument with Babette. And he could always brighten the mood of anyone in the same room. Papa was the one she went to when she needed a shoulder to cry on, someone to comfort her, to talk to. He never judged her and he understood her much better than her mother ever could. He was her best friend.
There was not a chance in the world she would tamper with that bond. She was doing the right thing by saying no.
A sudden rustle of leaves reached her ears, and Babette snapped her head toward the balcony. A figure climbed over the balustrade, causing her to jump up so fast the bench fell to the floor, its crash muffled by the rug beneath it. Her heart beat against her ribcage at the sight of an intruder, but as it straightened, Babette could make out the side of its face in the moonlight.
Her eyes widened. "Alphonse?"
"Of course, ma fleur," he laughed, coming nearer. "Who else would it be?"
Her hand went over her still-beating heart. "I almost confused you for a burglar! Never do such a thing like that again!"
Dong! Dong! Dong!
The clock tower continued to ring midnight, the bell echoing throughout the town.
"It seems I am right on time," he murmured, and she heard a smirk in his tone. His fingers pulled at the shoulders of her nightgown as his lips grazed her ear. "Let us not waste another minute."
She stopped his hands and pulled away, the pounding in her chest never ceasing. "Alphonse, I have something to say."
He looked at her quizzically. "What is it?"
"We cannot go through with this, not in this way. I have changed my mind. I hope you can understand."
He chuckled lightheartedly. "I see you have gone cold on me, yes?"
"This really is not the time, Alphonse," Babette insisted. "I think it is better you go home for now." She added, "Please."
He sighed. "Ma fleur, I am sorry." He caressed her cheek. "But please. You know how much I care about you, how much I need you." He leaned in slowly and kissed her sweetly. "Let me stay for a little while."
Babette's resistance crumbled as she gazed into his sad green eyes. Surely her parents were not going to visit a second time, and she really did want him to be with her.
"All right," she conceded. "But only for a little while."
He smiled as he kissed her again, this time more passionately. They both wrapped their arms tightly around each other. Then Alphonse scooped her up and laid her on the bed, never letting his lips leave hers.
Time seemed to stop as they became so consumed in each other. Pure bliss was the only way Babette could describe it. Soon, he began to explore her neck as he fondled the curves of her body.
"Oh, Alphonse," she purred in his ear. "Je t'adore."
He stopped to gaze at her, moving a strand from her face. "And I you."
As their lips met, he attempted to slip off part of her nightgown again until Babette took his hands into hers and parted from their kiss.
"Please, mon chère, do not be tempted," she murmured.
"It is impossible not to be. To keep a body as beautiful as yours covered, hiding its glory, is a crime."
"Soon, mon chère, soon." She gripped his neck and pulled him towards her for more.
Suddenly, Babette heard the door shut. Startled, she broke away from Alphonse and ran to the door, carefully peering down the hall, and her stomach dropped as she saw Bernadette running away, most definitely to her parents' room.
"Alphonse, you have to go," Babette said urgently.
"So soon," he lamented, but in understanding. He swiftly left the bed and kissed her goodnight before hopping the balustrade to the vines below.
She ran to balcony and called to him, "Be safe."
He looked up and smiled. "Of course, chérie." And continued masterfully descending the vines.
Knowing her parents were coming, Babette went back to bed and quickly got under the covers again, trying to act like she had been sleeping the entire time.
Soon enough, they came in with Bernadette, who carried a candle.
"Babette, we know you are awake," her father said, not fooled for a second.
Babette sighed into the pillows and rolled onto her back, sitting up against the head board.
René appeared very alert for someone who had just woken up. "Who was the man that was in here?"
Babette hesitated, remembering her promise to Alphonse to keep their love a secret. She knew that that was going to change eventually, so it might as well be now. She wasn't about to lie to them again after what they had said tonight. "His name is Alphonse."
Her parents exchanged worried glances. "What does this Alphonse look like?" her father questioned.
Babette fidgeted slightly. "He is tall, with strong features, dark hair and green eyes." She smiled despite herself. "He is very handsome."
René sat down on the edge of the bed and carefully looked her in the eye. "Babette, you did not…?"
Babette immediately shook her head. "Non, of course not. We were only… kissing." She desperately wished she could escape the conversation.
Both her parents looked relieved. Her mother grasped her heart as she let out a huge sigh, still unable to say anything as she paced while she listened.
René gazed at his daughter gently. "Ma chère, that man is a notorious philanderer. He has had relations with several other noble daughters, and who knows whom else."
She only stared back, unable to grasp his words and their meaning, but she was able to reply after a few seconds. "No… that is impossible. You must have the wrong man. He loves me."
"Babette, darling, we would know," her mother finally spoke up. "We have heard of many stories of the same man of your description wooing young girls like you and slipping into their rooms in the night. And it is probably not only daughters of nobility."
Babette refused to believe any of it. "I still think we are talking about two different men."
Her mother beckoned with her hand. "Come with me."
The family followed by Bernadette went to the study at the front of the house that faced the avenue.
Clarisse went straight to the window and searched the street below. She then turned to Babette with melancholy eyes and referred to the window. "See for yourself."
Babette consented, still firm in her belief of Alphonse's love. The street was still except for the corner hidden in shadow under a shop's awning. She could not discern anything until they moved away from the shop front. As they ran by a street lamp, a girl was seen leading a man by the hand. The man caught up with the girl and embraced her with a kiss. The man wore exactly the same clothes as Alphonse wore, and the same hair, and defined muscles. There was no denying it was him.
Babette took a step back into the desk, making it rattle. She was too stunned to speak. She couldn't feel anything for a moment as her mind processed what she saw. Vary rapidly, though, her face became hot as tears began to form. Sobs broke from her throat, and she capped her mouth to prevent the sounds.
How could this happen? When had she become one of a number of girls at the mercy of a man? His false sincerity had been completely convincing. Everything about their relationship seemed to fit, to be right. This vision was against all that she had thought to be true about him.
He was everything to her while she was nothing to him.