Catia tugged on the exquisite ring decorating her finger, part of her loving its very existence on her, yet another part loathed it - serving a persistent reminder of the man she had come to develop feelings for. In which she vowed not to, never.
She lifted her head, meeting his eyes. Silky dark strands she itched to comb her fingers through, and those cold eyes, which she wished would cast her a warm loving gaze. When they had first met five years ago, she even mistook him for a prince.
"Marquess," she curtsied, internally consoling her rapid heartbeat. "You may return first, my lord. I've prior engagement with the hostess."
His eyebrow quirked up. "This late?"
"Evie invited me to stay a night, I told you on our way here..." she softly retorted, her chest felt tight. Of course her fiancé wouldn't remember.
She couldn't make up the face the marquess was making, was it guilt for not recalling their forgettable conversation or was it a pending frustration towards her.
"I see, I shall head first then. Goodbye."
"Take care, you." she stared at his back until he disappeared from her sight.
"I'm thinking of breaking off the engagement."
Catia's friend looked at her dead in the eye, another friend was choking on her lemon juice.
"Before you ask, I am very serious. I plan on telling Lucian tomorrow." she continued, her face stoic.
The choking noise dissipated. "May I ask why?" asked Felicia groggily before letting a wet hacking cough out.
"Can someone please bring her a glass of water?" said Catia concernedly.
"Gia, go bring some." ordered Evie.
Evie patted Felicia's back, aiding her coughs. "I thought you loved him, Tia."
"I do." she twirled her ring. "I thought he loved me too. Maybe just for a bit... Actually," her eyes glossed and she finally sobbed. "I don't know if he does."
"Oh Tia... I've never seen you cry before." Evie bursted into tears. "I'm sorry I asked you that,"
"I'm going to kill him." said the groggy girl, her face redder.
"I never told you two this, but remember Isolde Woodhouse?"
"Isolde and him were lovers before we got engaged. The Renards arranged her marriage to Sir Hawthorne because she's... poor." Catia explained, dabbing her wet cheeks with a napkin. "I just found out last month, he gifted her his summer house and multiple dresses and garments anonymously."
Catia couldn't even be mad at Isolde, she didn't do anything wrong. Feelings were feelings, and her fiancé had never stopped loving Isolde.
He did show interest to her when they first met, intrigued perhaps. She was young, pretty and had a lot of admirers. Surely it'd be a boast to get engaged to a lady like her.
It was all a fleeting attraction, passing wind, and easily washed over. But not for Isolde.
Lucian had gotten bored of her, the intrigue did not last long, perhaps he saw how bland she was. How uncarefree she was, unlike his dearest former love.
If Catia experienced the kind of love he had with Isolde, perhaps she'd understand too.
"I'll never be happy with him and he too. He won't stop there, soon, he'll want to meet her, spend time with her, and make her his." she wiped a warm tear falling down he cheek. "I deserve better."