Act 1: Scene III
Marceline stood, pulling on her coat, then offering Chantelle her arm, which she took, allowing herself to be led outside. Marceline led her over to the gazebo just a short ways from the Manor, pulling out a chair for Chantelle.
Chantelle blinked, just now realizing that she had been staring at Marceline for some time. She’d been too busy examining her features and comparing them to that of the girl on her dream. “Sorry. I was just a bit distracted.”
“What by?” Marceline asked, leaning her chin on her right palm. She surveyed Chantelle, her gaze gliding over her features, working their way from her hair down.
“Oh, nothing.” When Marceline raised a questioning eyebrow she hurried to change the topic. “That suit looks nice on you. Likely better than on many men.”
Marceline grinned. “Thank you, dear. That dress suits you as well, though it was obvious your mother didn’t approve.”
Chantelle shrugged, trying her best to relax. “She only approves of the gowns which smother me. It’s not as if you’re a suitor after all.”
Marceline laughed, a rich and cool laugh, still filled with joy. “Perhaps not.”
They lapsed into a gentle silence. Each one scanning the others features. Finally, Chantelle could no longer stand it. Her skin shivered under Marceline gaze, as though tiny snowflakes were dancing on her skin. It wasn’t really unpleasant, but it was a bit unnerving. “Your mother seems rather lenient.
“She is. Back home she spends most of her time in very simple gowns without anything but a slip underneath. She simply dresses up when she has visitors or goes out.”
Chantelle nodded. “Mother won’t even come down to breakfast without being fully dressed. Even father, as stiff as he can be, thinks it’s silly sometimes. What about your father?”
“Which one?” She smiled at Chantelle’s confusion. “I’m only joking. Arthur doesn’t care how my mother or I dress, though he does love it when mother dresses up. Liem prefers me in suits, says they compliment my figure, but as far as mother he doesn’t much care.”
Marceline nodded, looking her in the eyes as though judging what she should say in reply. “My father’s lover. That’s what the joke was from.”
“Your father’s lover?” Chantelle couldn’t hide the confusion in her voice.
“Yes. Mother and Father are best friends and they love each other dearly, but mother isn’t much interested in the physical aspects of love. She only slept with my father once to have me,” she paused to smile at how flustered Chantelle became at her blunt choice of words, “so father had Liem as a lover. He’s like an uncle I guess. Keep this a secret, okay? No one knows but the household and now you.”
Chantelle nodded. So what if her father had a male lover? As long as her mother was okay with it, Chantelle didn’t see the problem. That couldn’t make him any more unusual that she was with her mechanical parts.
“Alright. Do you call him Uncle Liem?”
“At formal gatherings. Otherwise, he’s just Liem. Or Liem Oliver if I need to scold him.”
“You scold him?”
“Only teasingly. He does the same to me. ‘Marceline Grace, did you eat the last chocolate pudding?’”
Chantelle grinned. “That sounds wonderful.”
“It is. Perhaps you can meet him someday. Mother would enjoy having another girl in the house.”
They lapsed into comfortable silence again, each one looking around them, before turning back to glance at the other.
“You’re a Cyborg, yes?”
Chantelle flinched at the question. Here it was. Now Marceline would slowly slip away. “Yes. I have a synthetic right hand, left leg, and a bit of wiring along my spine.” She didn’t mention what was in her head. The wiring in the spine would be required to work her hand and leg.
“May I see your hand?”
Chantelle held her hand out. Her left hand shook, but thankfully this one did not. Marceline took it gently in both hands, turning it around, slowly moving her fingers and looking over the joints. “It’s beautiful. Everything fits together so nicely.”
Chantelle felt her face flushing slightly. “You aren’t bothered by them?”
“Why would I be?”
“Most people think it’s freakish. Especially the nerve implants for some reason.”
Marceline shrugged, squeezing her hand firmly. “It’s just a part of who you are. Would they rather you not have those limbs?”
“Sometimes I think so.”
Marceline watched Chantelle with eager interest. She had rarely met anyone as captivating as the girl before her. Her lips were plump and soft, her cheeks tinged with a natural soft glow, her eyes were narrow, almond-shaped, and her nose was small and turned up just a bit. Her skin was a warm, golden brown and her rich black hair poofed out in tight curls. Her figure was thin and dainty, yet it didn’t appear fragile. She was reasonably endowed, but not extremely so. Even her mechanical limbs were perfect in every way. She was gorgeous.
Marceline couldn’t stop looking at her. Eliza always spoke of Arthur’s habit of obsession, which thankfully remained on Liem most of the time, and had sworn Marceline would be just the same. She had always insisted otherwise, but now she knew her mother was right.
This girl would haunt her dreams.
“Marceline! Chantelle!” Both girls turned to find Eliza calling their name. They stood, hurrying to join her. Eliza led them into the green room taking a seat beside Chantelle’s mother.
“Now, Chantelle. You know your father and I will be going away on business for the next month come Sunday.” Chantelle nodded. That always happened this time of year, with summer on its way. “I mentioned it to Eliza and she was quite worried you would be rather lonely, so she has invited you to stay with her until our return, which could be until June this year.”
Chantelle nodded. Each year it was her and the servants for the month of April. “I won’t be a bother?”
“Of course not, dear! One extra will be no trouble at all.” Eliza’s expression was entirely open and sincere.
Chantelle glanced at Marceline who nodded encouragingly. She turned to look at her mother, who looked sour, but no worse than usual. “I would love to.”
Eliza clapped her hands together. “Great! We will pick you up Sunday evening, alright?”