A Lady is Responsible
Lady Eleanor slammed the letter down on the table next to her and did her best to conceal her emotions.
Katherine sat next to the table on the small couch, working on her needlework. She turned her attention to Eleanor, “What happened?”
Eleanor pressed her hands over her mouth and took a deep breath, “Lord Jacque will be home within the next few days!”
Katherine looked back down at her needlework and sighed, “I am truly sorry, but I do not understand your problem?”
Eleanor started to pace the floor, the excitement and rage all churning in her stomach, “That bastard knew I would want to celebrate his return and so he has given me a short notice of his arrival so that I have to plan the party less extravagantly!”
Katherine did not reply.
It was something that had become quite common in the past few weeks. After her little picnic with Lord Drake, she had become an introvert. It was rare to receive any emotion from the young girl.
It was exhausting.
Eleanor missed to fire and passion the girl had. That is why she had picked her off the streets. She admires the young girl for being brave.
“You must help me plan!” Eleanor said as she sat down next to Katherine and grasped her hands.
“Eleanor, I could not possibly know the first thing about planning.” Katherine protested.
Eleanor shook her head, “Then I must teach you! It is my responsibility to teach you how to do these things. What a better way to teach you then a return party for my husband.” Eleanor stood and smiled widely, “I will wake up the dressmaker write away and then we can start on floral arrangements. Then I will do the guest list while you can write the menu.”
Katherine opened her mouth to protest, “Eleanor, I—”
“Oh, you are right! Silly me, we don’t need a guest list. As long as they are of nobility blood, they can come!” Eleanor interrupted.
Katherine shook her head, “I do not think—”
Eleanor nodded, “You are right. We sound desperate if we do not have a guest list. I have spare invitations packed away in my office. We should get to work immediately!”
Eleanor took Katherine by the hand and smiled, “This will surely get the two of us back into our high spirits!”
Eleanor could not contain her excitement as she watched the guest file in. Her husband was to arrive within the next hour.
Katherine was out dancing in the middle of the ballroom, dressed in a red and gold dress. She had also been forced to wear a floral crown, by request of Eleanor herself. She couldn’t have her young cousin look scrappy the day her husband returned home.
It was the first time in a long while that Katherine looked happy. Mostly because she had already started to indulge in the drink, but nonetheless, Katherine looked happy enough to make Eleanor happy.
Eleanor slipped out the side of the ballroom and entered into a stairwell.
Someone grabbed her and pulled her into his chest, covering her eyes with a single hand.
“I did not expect the Lady of the house to be in a servant’a stairwell.” A deep voice whispered in her ear.
Eleanor smiled, “Well, a lady has to have her fun at some point in time. She cannot always be uptight and strict.”
“Only when her husband is gone, no?” The deep voice growled.
Eleanor turned, and placed a hand on the man’s cheek, “I behave while you were gone, Jacque. No need to worry about me.”
Her husband did not seem satisfied with her answer, “I always have to worry about you, my love. You are my Eleanor. You cannot simply behave when left alone.”
Eleanor tugged gently on his neck scarf and pulled him closer, “Oh, you got me, sir. You see, there was this handsome, handsome young man in the servants’ stairwell that I could not keep my hands off of.”
Her husband leaned into her, pushing her against the wall and placed a passionate kiss on her lips.
Her chest tightened with the passion she had been holding in for months. She would never admit it to anyone but Jacque, but she did need her husband.
“I missed you, my darling.” She whispered as he placed his forehead against hers.
“I missed you too, my dove. I hope, however, with giving you such a short notice of my arrival that you would not have the time to plan such an extravagant party.” Jacque replied.
Eleanor placed both her hands on his face, “You cannot, no matter how hard you try, stop me from planning a party. Isn’t that why you married me? Because you knew that I was the best at these things. You deserved a wife who could celebrate your return every time.”
Jacque laughed, “Eleanor if you continue this way, we will surely be poor by the end of the year!”
Eleanor shrugged, “We will figure it out, but for now, you have a crowd to greet.”
Jacque stepped back to let her straighten her dress out before opening a secret door well in the stairs for him to disappear into.
“I will see you soon, darling.” Eleanor promised as she slipped back out into the ballroom.
Lord Drake had not planned on coming to the party. Lady Eleanor had sent him countless invitations, begging him to make attendance on behalf of her husband.
Drake had refused six times in total. But when she made an appearance at his doorstep, with a basket of pastries and a genuine smile, Drake could not help but say yes.
He did his best to avoid Katherine. He was successful for two hours straight. And then the girl in a red dress stubbled into him, giggling and gasping.
Drake pushed her away, slightly with disgust, “I think you need to lay off the drink, m’lady.” He snapped, dusting off his sleeve.
“Lord Drake, if I have offended you, please tell me! I nearly stumbled into you because of the wine! Lord Jacque puts something into the wine and I can’t quite explain it...” The girl frowned at the glass in her hand.
Drake reached over her and took the glass from her hands, “Lady Katherine, I think you’ve had more than enough.”
Katherine opened her mouth to protest and reached for the glass, but Drake held it far out of her reach.
She surged forward and fell against him. She laughed, quite loudly, and rested her head against his shoulder.
“Katherine,” He hissed as his heart fluttered, “you’ve truly had too much to drink. You need to lay off.”
“But that is no fun!” She cried as she pushed herself away from him.
He watched her stumble away into the crowd.
“Lord Drake, you came!” Another shrill voice called out to him.
In normal circumstances, Drake would have been thrilled to hear a lady call him out. He loved to have the ladies crawling over him.
But he did not care to deal with drunk ones.
“Lady Eleanor.” He mumbled as he bowed.
Her husband, Lord Jacque, held onto her arm tightly as he was dragged towards him.
“I was afraid you would not come, sir.”
Drake reaches out his hand to shake Lord Jacque’s and smiled at Eleanor, “How could I miss such a glorious day for you?”
Lady Eleanor’s smile grew wider, if that was even possible, “You absolutely could not!”
She started to go off on one of her long, exhausting talks as Drake watched Katherine stumble around in the crowd.
He didn’t like the way the other men in the crowd watched her as she stumbled towards and stairwell.
She was too drunk to handle herself, let alone another man.
“Lady Eleanor, you will have to excuse me. There is someone I must speak to.” He interrupted her, mid-sentence.
Without waiting for her reply, he marches back into the crowd of dancing people and the people watching.
Katherine had found herself in the stairwell, by the time Drake had reached her. He grabbed her arm and pulled her towards him, “Katherine, what are you doing?”
Katherine looked at him with wide, doe-like eyes, “Thomas, you have come to save me!” She cried out in a whisper.
“Katherine, you are drunk and you are attracting unwanted attention.” He hissed.
Katherine gave him a sad smile, “I only wanted your attention, my dear Thomas. It seems that I am to unwanted to keep your attention for very long.”
Drake narrowed his eyes on her, “You are the one who ran away when I tried to kiss you.”
Katherine wagged her finger at him, “But my darling, a forest is no suitable place for a lady to be kissing an unmarried man.”
“And a stairwell is more appropriate?” He asked.
Katherine giggles and turned towards him, “A drunk lady knows her boundaries as well, my lord. I may be drunk but I certainly know what I want.”
Drake rubbed at his temples and did his best to conceal his anger at her. How could she do this to him? She knew he loved her in red, his favorite color, and she knew he would have a hard time resisting her.
And then she got drunk.
“What happened to the lady who could hold her liquor?” He sighed.
Katherine’s small hands ran up his chest and circled around his neck, “Kiss me.”
Drake tried to pry her hands from around his neck, “Katherine—” he protested.
One of her hands ran along his jawline, “Come on, you coward.” She whispered, “Just one little kiss.”
Katherine had a huge, unrelenting headache. The sun had woken her up way to early for her liking and now she had a headache.
Of course, that was the least of her problems.
She had gotten to drunk last night, but she couldn’t help herself.
The moment Thomas Drake had stepped foot in Eleanor’s ballroom, Katherine could not seem to down enough drinks.
Everything was a blur after that.
So, Katherine now found herself sitting in the corner of the bedroom, wrapped carefully in her bedsheet and her hands covering mouth as she stared at her bed.
She had made a mistake.
Thomas Drake, who had to be just as drunk as she was last night, laid unconscious in her bed.
In a normal situation, Katherine would not have minded so much, especially since she had woken up on the floor but he was missing his clothes.
She knew where they were, sitting in a pile by the foot of her bed with the red dress Eleanor had made her wear, but they were not where they were supposed to be.
With a headache and the problem sitting before her, Katherine could not bring herself to move.
If she moved, she could wake him up and have to deal with the consequences of her actions. On the other hand, if she moved, she could escape that same fate.
She loved Thomas. That was a fact she could not deny but he had been so cold to her since what had refused him at the picnic. She felt hurt by his actions.
And now, he laid in her bed without his clothes and definitely awake.
He groaned in pain as he pressed his hands to his face, muttering something about how he drank too much.
He rolled over onto his side, toward Katherine, and locked eyes with her.
“Please tell me that you are not there and that I am just imagining you.” He whispered.
Katherine could not bring herself to answer him. She simply raised her hand and gave him a small wave.
“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, what have I done to you!” He said as he sat up.
Katherine swallowed her fear.
His muscles ripples as he moved towards the edge of the bed, bringing the other sheet with him.
“Did I force you into this?” He asked her.
Katherine shook her head. It was her choice. She had begged him to come with her. He had refused so many times but even the strongest willed man couldn’t refuse her.
He reached over the edge of the bed fo his pants and slipped into them, “Katherine, did I hurt you?” He asked once he has become semi-dressed. He walked over to her and helped her stand up.
“It was my idea.” She whispered, looking up at him, “You tried to refuse me but it...” Her voice faltered and as he ran his hand along her cheek, “How could one refuse you?”
“What do we do?” Katherine asked.
Thomas Drake sighed, “I have to leave. Unfortunately, I have been called to England to meet with the King. I will be gone for a while.”
Katherine but her lip to keep the tears in, “Oh.”
Drake pulled her to his chest and rested his head on top of hers, “Katherine, this has nothing to do with you. I should have told you last night but I was a little preoccupied.”
“I did not please you?” She asked, letting the tears spill out now.
“Last night was was the best night I’ve had in a long while. You are very ferocious, kind of like a cat.” He laughed slightly.
“So you will come back?” She asked pulling away from him.
Drake nodded and ran his thumb across her cheek, “I will come home for you, Katherine. And I promise to bring you something on the account of you not getting drunk again.”
She smiled softly, “I will try.”
Drake let her go and went to his pile of clothes, “Try harder, please.”
Katherine went to her vanity beside her window and fished out something for him.
She sat down next to him and placed it on his palm, “It was my mother’s.” She said as he looked at it, “Keep it in memory of me and bring it back.”
He held the ring gently and placed a kiss on her head, “I will.”