A Lady Remains Composed
Drake leaned against the window sill, his arms crossed and his eyes narrowed.
He couldn’t stop thinking. He kept replaying the words Katherine had said last night in her drunken rage.
How she was this French street rat instead of this distant cousin of Lady Eleanor.
How she pretends to be this elegant woman when in reality she didn’t know many of the roles behind being a lady.
He shouldn’t have pretended to be with other women last night. If he hadn’t, she wouldn’t have gotten this drunk.
He remembered her staring at him from across the room, her eyes narrowing with jealousy. She had grabbed a champagne glass and downed the whole thing in seconds.
She had danced around the room with Lady Eleanor like a mad woman.
And later he found her almost ruined on the floor. He had carried her up the stairs and had the maids disassemble her dress and put her to bed.
He hadn’t left her room since.
He glanced back up at her when he heard a groan.
An unladylike groan.
“Good morning, your highness.” He said.
She pushed herself upright and squinted against the light, “What happened last night?”
“You had one too many drinks.” He stated his eyes narrowing even further.
He could hear her swallow from across the room and suddenly he felt bad.
He knew what a pain hangovers were, so why was he being so rude to her?
“Can-Can I have some water, please? I cannot think clearly nor speak for that matter.” She croaked, pointing at the pitcher of water.
He marched to the stand and poured her the glass of water, making sure there was plenty of it.
Once finished, she blinked a couple more times while pressing her hand to her forehead.
And then she gasped.
“Oh no! Oh no no no no no! You cannot be in here.” She paused for a moment and then gasped again, “What did you do to me last night? Where are my clothes? Lady Eleanor? Oh, what will she think of me? You monster! How dare you take advantage of me at such a vulnerable time!”
Drake snatched the glass away from her and glared, “Excuse me, my lady, but I hate it when women draw conclusions. I understand that you are still having trouble understanding the laws of ladies but I certainly know my rules as a gentleman! I certainly do not take advantage of women when they have not learned how to control their drinking habits. I only brought you to a room and had my maids put you down for sleep. I then decided to check on you, because it is the gentlemanly thing to do!”
“Well, the gentleman thing to do would be to escort me to my carriage, not to carry me to a bedroom!” She fired back.
“Well, the ladylike thing to would to not drink so much that she was practically falling over.” He snapped.
She lowered her eyes, “I am sorry. I didn’t know.”
“I’m sure you are. Oh and don’t worry, your secret is safe with me.” He stated, setting the glass down harshly on the nightstand.
Her eyes flickered to his, “I-I told you?”
“Yes, you did.”
The silence filled the void between them. Neither of them knew what to do. Drake could barely stand to look at her. She had lied to him all this time about her true identity and it infuriated him.
All he wanted was to be with her and know her. He wanted to see what was hidden beneath that fine layer of lady material.
And he certainly found out.
“Can... Can we start over? I’d like to be honest with you.” She whispered, her eyes glistening with tears.
Drake nodded. He could not have stayed angry for much longer. Every time she looked into his eyes, a piece of his anger melted away.
“I am a street rat that was pulled off the streets by Madam Eleanor. She had told all these elaborate stories about her cousin she traveled to America and all this fancy storyline. And then people asked about her and she freaked.” Katherine drew a deep breath, “She found me in the streets of Paris, stealing bread. She picked me up and transformed me into... This.”
Drake leaned forward, “And all this time, I really believed you.”
Katherine hugged herself, drawing the covers nearer, “I am truly sorry. I wanted to tell you the truth for some time now but I couldn’t risk Lady Eleanor being hurt by my actions.”
Drake smiled softly and held her hand, “Can I tell you something?”
“My real name is Thomas Drake. My friend Edward made me change it in military school. He didn’t want to have a friend named Thomas.” He said, smiling at the memory.
“Why not? Thomas is a wonderful name!” She laughed.
“He didn’t want to have a friend named Thomas because people called me Tommy and that was a weak name. I didn’t care for it much either.”
Katherine smiled, “I really glad we could start over Thomas.”
“I am too.”
Katherine stepped down the steps of Drake’s home, her arm draped onto his.
Eleanor, who had awoken later from her drunken state, waited impatiently at the bottom of the stairs, patronizing the poor stable boy for, “Taking an impossible amount of time to fetch one's horses.”
“Lord Drake I wanted to thank you for sheltering Lady Eleanor and I last night.” She said, her eyes flickering to his.
Drake smiled, “It was my pleasure, my lady.”
As they reached the end of the steps, Katherine let her arm slip from his.
“Lady Eleanor,” Drake bowed, kissing her outstretched hand “I do hope you are feeling better.”
Eleanor huffed, “I do hope so too. I am afraid I was convinced to take one to many glasses and ended up in a very, very sticky situation I care not to be.”
Katherine smiled, “We shall be going back now.”
Eleanor hoisted herself into the carriage, “We shall!”
Katherine stifled her giggle and turned to Drake one more time, “Thank you, again.”
Drake bowed, “Always.”
Katherine started to step into the carriage, but quickly turned and placed a kiss on his cheek before stepping in.
As they pulled away, she watched Drake fading away, still dazed from her actions.
“What on earth was that?” Eleanor questioned.
Katherine simple smiled, “Nothing short of a thank you.”
Eleanor snorted, “I dare say! Now, my dear, what did we learn?”
Katherine looked out the window, her smile growing dimmer, “A lady always remains composed.”