I closed Nico’s bedroom door after making sure he was busy with his homework. I checked to see that the maids did not need me before I went to see my husband. Today Gideon was going to tell me about Elizabeth. The thought of that barely let me sleep at night, but I wasn’t tired. I wanted to know about his sister, and he was finally going to tell me.
“Hey, what are you doing?” Gideon asked as soon as I entered. He was typing away on his laptop, but I was not going to let this go. He was going to tell me, and he was going to tell me now.
“Tell me about Elizabeth,” I said bluntly.
Gideon’s eyebrows furrowed. “Now? Can’t it wait? I’ve got to send a few emails,” he said.
“No. Now.” I scooted closer to him.
“But it’s just a few email, little dove.” I knew he was stalling, but I was determined.
“No. Now.” I parroted.
Gideon sighed and shut his laptop. “All right. Come here.” He pulled me closer until my lips were a whisper away from his neck.
“What do you want to know?” He gazed at me through those mesmerizing eyes.
“Everything,” I answered.
“Okay, where should I start?” He held my hand in his big ones.
“From the beginning,” I stated.
“All right, my little curious bird.” Gideon closed his eyes and took a deep, as if he was preparing himself to reveal a horrible truth.
“As you already know, my mum managed to break the family curse and bore a baby girl first, before me, Kieran and Brenton. Everything was perfect in their lives; my father adored Elizabeth, and was a complete slave to her happiness. My grandparents didn’t exactly approve of having a girl as the first child, as you can imagine their primitive thinking about having a boy first who will carry on the family name.” Gideon paused. “Nonetheless, they kept their mouths shut about their disapproval; because if my dad heard anyone talking about Lizzy in a negative way, he or she would be in great trouble. So for my dad, the elders kept their thoughts and opinions to themselves, and pretended to be happy for my father’s sake.
“Years passed, and as Lizzy grew up, my father started becoming more and more protective of her; so much so, that she started to feel suffocated. My father made sure she was accompanied by no less than six servants wherever she went. She had a personal maid who stayed with her twenty four seven. Elizabeth hated the special treatment, but she couldn’t do anything about it.”
“She could’ve talked to your father,” I suggested.
Gideon scoffed. “You think she didn’t try that? She begged father for reprieve; she didn’t stop asking for just a bit of freedom. All Lizzy wanted was some time to breathe alone. She wanted to be by herself and she hardly ever got it. The only time she was alone was when she was in the bathroom.”
“Well, in that case, she must be taking incredibly long showers.” It was meant to be a joke, but when Gideon nodded, my eyes widened.
“She did exactly that. She spent hours in the bathroom. So much so, the one day, the maid freaked out thinking Lizzy has committed suicide. But then my father and Lizzy had a long talk over Lizzy’s extensive stays in the bathroom. Lizzy demanded some freedom but my father rejected her pleas. My mother tried to reason with him as well but father stated that Lizzy was not going to spend time without anyone watching over her.”
“Your father could’ve allowed a little freedom,” I stated; trying to imagine myself in Lizzy’s place. If my father kept me under supervision twenty four seven, I would’ve gone berserk.
“According to him, he was only keeping his baby girl safe. He did not want any harm to come her way. Father kept Elizabeth sheltered all her life—that is, until she ran away. But he was just keeping her safe,” Gideon said.
“So what happened then?” I asked. I wanted to argue that his father could’ve loosen up a bit, but I decided not to bother with arguments. In a way, I could understand why Mr. Maslow did what he did.
“Elizabeth was angry, but she couldn’t do much; so she decided on another tactic. She befriended her personal maid whom she resented previously. Lizzy started using her maid as a confidante; telling her sob stories about feeling trapped, until the maid started helping her sneak out of the castle. And then, Lizzy was happy, because she finally got the freedom she craved, even if it was only for a few hours every day. And it was during one those escapades that she met Henry.” Gideon paused once again.
“How?” I couldn’t help asking, even though I knew Gideon was about to tell me.
“Lizzy met him during winters. It was one of those nights where snow became your worst enemy. Lizzy has been sheltered her whole life and didn’t have a single clue on how to survive in extreme weather. She snuck out with only a fur coat, hat and gloves, but they couldn’t stop the snow from penetrating her skin. She was very cold, but incredibly stubborn. She did not dare return, because she wanted to spend her three hours in private. So she sat under a tree, shivering from the brutal cold. And that was how she met Henry.
“Lizzy did not want to waste her time sitting under a tree for three hours, so she decided to check out the shops nearby, and that was where she first saw the man she fell in love with. Henry was buying a pack of matchsticks when he saw Lizzy enter the shop. And according to my sister, all his concerns flew away the moment their eyes met. Henry dropped the matchsticks and immediately rushed over to her because she was shivering from the cold. Henry immediately removed his jacket, and draped it over her.”
“Sounds like a gentleman,” I commented with a smile.
“He is an extremely honorable man, and I am glad Lizzy found him. Anyways, from then on, Henry and Lizzy started meeting in secret, obviously, and everybody thought that Lizzy has accepted father’s decision about absolute supervision. Little did they know that Lizzy was happy because she was in love with another man and was using her personal maid to sneak out of the castle.” Gideon took a deep breath.
“After a few months, father announced Elizabeth’s and Alejandro’s marriage. And Elizabeth was not happy. She wanted to marry Henry, the man she loved, not her childhood friend.”
“Your father should’ve asked Elizabeth whether she wanted to marry Alejandro or not,” I interrupted.
“He wanted to, believe me, he did, but there were other factors as well which led him to ignore his only daughter’s wishes,” Gideon responded.
“Factors like what? What could be more important than your daughter’s decision?”
“You should know something about the Maslow family. Our values haven’t really changed in all this time. This is the twenty first century, yet we have the same androcentric thinking that our ancestors had. We—as in the males—are patriarchal. And that’s how it has been from generation to generation.”
“You mean to say, you guys still believe that women have no rights and that their only purpose is to serve the male specie?” I scowled.
Gideon laughed. “Not really. But yeah, we make sure that the females in this family know who has the power. We love to dominate and make our women submit.” His voice turned husky as he said the last part; and despite wanting to grab him and kiss him silly, I eyed him with evident disapproval.
I sat up to face him. “I don’t like this,” I stated.
Gideon chuckled darkly. “It is what it is, you don’t have to like it. You my, little fairy, just need to learn to live with it.” He kissed me softly.
“Start telling me about Elizabeth before I scratch your eyes out because of your androcentric thinking,” I warned.
He chuckled again. “Just try, little peach, just try.”
“Start talking,” I seethed.
“Or what?” Gideon gave me challenging look.
“Just start talking.”
“No.” He crossed his arms over his chest.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Don’t push me,” I threatened.
“Don’t you get it by now, pushing you is what I love doing most.” I had no idea if it was me or my hormones, but as soon as the words left Gideon’s lips, I was on him like a predator to prey. I started scratching his chest, but in just under five seconds, Gideon had me pinned under him.
“Let go, you patriarchal man. I am going to change your sexist mind-set if it’s the last thing I do,” I growled.
Gideon sealed my lips with his and only released me after I was gasping for oxygen. He peppered kisses all over my jaw and neck and had me moaning in just under two minutes.
“God, I love this side of you. You should be careful; you don’t want to harm the baby.” I froze at his word. Shit! He was right, what was I thinking. I could’ve harmed my baby by acting so recklessly.
“Oh my God. I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize...” Gideon released my wrists and I immediately placed my hand on my swollen tummy.
“Hey, relax.” Gideon kissed my cheek. “It’s okay. I won’t let anything happen to you or our baby.”
“But I wasn’t thinking and I jumped on you.”
“And I caught you, just like I’ll always catch you. I won’t ever let you fall.” Gideon pulled me to him.
“Do you want to hear the rest of the story?” He asked softly.
“Yes,” I muttered softly.
“Let’s see, where was I?”
“You were telling me why your father didn’t ask for Lizzy’s permission,” I reminded him.
“Right. Mainly my father didn’t do this was because it was my grandfather’s decision. He wanted Elizabeth to marry Alejandro, and he strictly told my father not to intervene. My father was to only focus on the wedding.”
“Oh, I see.”
“When Elizabeth got to know, she was furious. She wanted to run away, but was afraid. She wanted the blessings of mum and dad, but unfortunately she got none. She reached out to me for help because I am her best friend. Even though I knew that dad would never agree, I still tried to talk to him, to reason with him, but to no avail—dad refused to budge.
“I hated disappointing my sister, but I had to tell her that father did not agree. I tried to stop her from marrying Henry, not because I didn’t think he was a good man, but because I did not want a feud in the family—our relatives weren’t exactly thrilled with the fact that Elizabeth was first born, this would’ve given them ammunition against my father. But Lizzy inherited a lot from our dad, and one of the trait was being strong-willed. She refused, and told me straight up that she was only going to marry Henry, with or without my support.”
“Your sister ran away from home,” I said.
“Yes, she did and I helped her escape,” Gideon confessed.
My eyebrows shot to my hairline at hearing this. No way. Not possible. Gideon would never do anything like that. Well at least I thought he wouldn’t. But he did. He helped his sister escape.
“You helped her escape? How? Why?” I questioned, intrigued. Gideon always managed to surprise me, in one way or the other.
“Yes. The day when she was going to run away, I held the ladder which Elizabeth used to climb down from her room, while Henry stood beside me ready to take Elizabeth away. When Lizzy was safely on the ground, she told me where she and Henry will be going and that I was welcome to come and see them. I did not want her to leave, but I will never go against her happiness. Lizzy is not only my sister, she is my best friend and my confidante.
“Anyway, Lizzy and Henry ran away, and I pretended to be shocked and angry like everybody else in the family. Nobody knew I helped my sister escape. But I made sure to check up on her at least twice a month. She had her first baby a year after she and Henry got married.”
“What happened with your family after Lizzy ran away?” I enquired.
“What do you think? My parents were distraught. Dad was angry and heart broken. The relatives swooped down like vultures, telling my father how they had been right all along and that Elizabeth was nothing but a disgrace to the family. They said that she should never have been first born, because she was too selfish to keep her family’s reputation intact.
“It all went downhill from there. Mum and dad fought. Dad changed, he went from being a slave of love to a cold, ruthless man who never trusted anyone again. Lizzy’s disappearance turned my dad to stone. He stopped loving. He stopped caring.”
“I’m so sorry.” I didn’t why I said that. Maybe because I could picture the pain and unrest of Gideon’s family. And selfish or not, I was actually glad that this wasn’t the family I was born in. Sure, my family was poor, and I lost my parents because we didn’t have enough money to pay for their treatment, but there was love and happiness. We didn’t have relatives that objected to our existence. My family had peace.
“Don’t be,” Gideon murmured, stroking my hair.
“Do you regret it?” I looked at Gideon. “Do you regret helping Elizabeth escape? Do you feel responsible for what happened with your family?” I asked.
Gideon nodded. “I did. I did feel like it was all my fault. But when I told Elizabeth, she said that it wasn’t my fault; that she would’ve run away whether I helped her or not. She said if anyone should feel responsible, it should be her.”
“She’s right,” I stated. And she was. It was not Gideon’s fault. He only wanted to keep his sister happy. He wanted to make sure she was safe.
“Do you think so?” Gideon asked, softly.
“Yes. You love your sister and was only helping her, it wasn’t your fault that your father changed, none of it is your fault. So don’t blame yourself,” I said, firmly.
“I don’t blame myself anymore, but I did for a long time.” Gideon smiled at me.
“Good. If you still blame yourself, then I’ll be giving you another talk,” I warned.
Gideon chuckled. “Yes Ma’am.” And captured my lips in a sweet, tender kiss.
I could tell there was more to the story; Gideon hadn’t told me everything, but he told me enough. And for now, that was enough.