Baskergrand The Nautilus

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Valerie's Veracity

Once Percival had reached home, his servant Parsons greeted him in the hallway.

''Ah, Master Percival, you have a guest waiting in the drawing room for you,'' Parsons said to him while he took his coat off.

''Oh, I do? Who is it?'' Percival asked.

''Miss Valerie Horace, sir,'' Parsons revealed. Percival was slightly taken aback.

''Valerie''' he repeated.

''Yes, sir. She wanted to speak with you, she said,'' Parsons answered. Percival looked toward the drawing room, and sighed inwardly.

''Thank you, Parsons. I will not need anything at the moment,'' Percival dismissed his servant.

''Very well, sir,'' Parsons said before he left Percival's presence. Percival walked slowly towards the drawing room, then exhaled quietly before he entered. When he came in, Valerie was sitting with her back toward him on the chaise longue, staring at the fire alight in the fireplace. She was wearing a beige dress with a purple shawl, and her hair was being held up loosely. She had taken off her bonnet, and had not seemed to notice that Percival had come in.

''Valerie,'' he spoke her name. She suddenly became startled, and snapped her head around to meet him. She then stood up and gazed at him.

''Percival,'' Valerie returned, her voice beset with a soft quiver. Percival shut the door quietly, and stood in front of her.

''I am very sorry for the intrusion; I could not wait until tonight,'' Valerie said.

''Oh. Are you...well?'' Percival asked her.

''Yes, yes...quite well,'' she answered. They both looked at each other in awkward silence for a moment.

''Please, sit down,'' Percival said as he gestured to the chaise longue. Valerie sat down, and Percival sat down next to her.

''Valerie...Garth...told me about...your feelings for me,'' Percival reluctantly admitted. Valerie's face turned away to the floor, her cheeks flushed with a red hue.

''...Oh, he did?'' she spoke, her voice still soft.

''Yes. He called me a fool, as well, for not...being true to myself,'' Percival revealed. Valerie turned to look at him.

''I am being selfish...for thinking that you would feel the same. It is not fair to put you in that position. You should be free to choose who you want to be with,'' Valerie's voice changed back to normal. She had resigned herself into believing that Percival did not love her. Percival turned to face her.

''Yes, I am free to choose. And...I,'' Percival responded. Valerie's face changed to shock. She gazed into Percival's eyes, which seemed as if they were no longer distant to her. His eyes had become open to her, and she felt herself being drawn in deeper by them.

''Do you really...feel that way?'' Valerie asked him, her voice barely audible.

''...Yes. I do. And for a long time...I think I was going against it. Maybe it was...because you are my cousin. Because you are my friend. But really...those are just reasons I was hiding behind,'' Percival explained. He looked away at the floor, then back at her.

''I love you, Valerie. I believe that now,'' Percival said to her. Tears began to fall from Valerie's eyes, trickling down her warm cheeks.

''I love you, Percy,'' Valerie returned, her voice trembling. They embraced each other for a while, with both of them smiling and laughing in happiness.

''I'm glad I told you now. Before you leave for America for a while,'' Valerie said after they ceased embracing. Percival gave a bemused expression.

''What do you mean? Before I go America? Who told you that I was going?'' Percival questioned Valerie. Valerie noticed Percival's demeanour change.

''Oh, Garth did. He said you are to go back with him in February. But you would only be gone for a little while,'' she answered. Percival looked to the floor in anger.

''I hadn't agreed to go at all. Why would he tell you this?'' Percival said more to himself than to Valerie.

''I hadn't known that you had said no. I was going to ask to come with you,'' Valerie said. Percival looked at her.

''I will talk to Garth about this,'' Percival resolved. Valerie nodded, then stood up to leave.

''I should get going; I told my mother I was going to De Cremoux to get some flowers. The Bartletts are leaving tomorrow morning for India,'' Valerie reported. Percival stood up also, his countenance softening.

''Oh, it's tomorrow? The adventure begins,'' Percival mused. They both smiled before they looked at each other.

''Don't let anyone know about us yet. I want to surprise mother and father at dinner tonight,'' Valerie instructed Percival in a low tone.

''Oh, of course. I won't tell a soul. I'll see you tonight, Bene,'' Percival said with a smile. Valerie smiled a wider smile.

''And you too, Gray,'' she returned before she left. Once the door was closed, Percival's face began to change.

'How dare that Garth say that I am to join him in America! Why did he say that to Valerie?' Percival thought angrily.

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