Author: aryndune PM
Chandler Arlington's love for his brother's fiance gets him pulled into intruige and drama in a Victorian-esque world of wealth, murder, and love.Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Romance - Chapters: 7 - Words: 6,707 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 01-18-09 - id: 2623812
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The rich scent of cigar smoke, the dissonance of black and white piano keys, the golden taste of beer, the smooth graze of playing cards, and the eternal murmur of the dancers; this was the Red Rose. This was the cabaret where Chandler had tasted his first alcohol, won his first game of poker, tasted his first kiss. Darby and Charles, both older, had been coming here much longer than him, but for all of them it was the preferred place to spend an evening.
"Charles, you shouldn't drink so much, you know you don't you don't hold your alcohol," Chandler said, removing a glass of liquor from his friend's hand.
"Lemme have it back. I was drinking that," Charles slurred.
"Exactly," Darby said with a chuckle. "You were drinking quite a lot of it. You'll start gambling again soon and loose even more money. We're intervening on your behalf."
"Not that you did so well yourself."
"Shut up, Chandler, you simply got lucky. Your win has less to do with skill and more to do with being dealt three queens."
"The ladies just love you, Chandler," Charles said.
Chandler took a sip of his wine, rolling purple-blue eyes toward the ceiling. That was sure to bring a remark from Darby and he didn't want to deal with his brother's ridicule.
"Oh, no, my friend, they love you," he put in quickly. "Darby, did you hear, Charles is going to propose to our cousin."
"Ha!" Darby had taken a matchbook and from his coat pocket, and having lit a cigar for himself, was puffing out round, contented smoke rings. "Propose to Magnolia? Well you don't think she'll say 'yes' do you?"
"How could she resist? I am a dashing fellow, you know."
"Oh you have had too much to drink!" said Chandler and he and his brother erupted into good-natured laughter.
"Supposing she even does accept," Darby went on. "The two of you would hardly get along. You'd be as loving a couple as my mother and father."
"Oh, leave him alone," Chandler said, steering the conversation away from the topic of their parents. Darby might josh about their fights, but he loved them desperately, and somehow had managed to be the only person other than Gardenia and Fenton who was blind enough not to see his mother's affair.
Chandler often felt as though he had always known, though he could remember the day he day he first found out. He could picture it perfectly; he hadn't been more than eleven, and was hunched over the table in the drawing room, caught up in a game of chess with his Uncle Tennyson. A glass of lemonade sat beside the checked board, undrunk and sweating beads of water, as Chandler was too intent on the game to drink it.
"Knight to E5," he muttered, thin fingers moving the heavy black marble across the squares.
"Are you sure you want to do that?" His uncle asked, the corners of his mouth twitching to a smile.
"No. Yes. I mean to say, I made my move, you won't trick me out of changing it."
Only just then Kerina had walked into the room and brought a fresh glass of lemonade for Tennyson. Why would his mother bring the drink? That was a job for the servants. Chandler was too young to notice this, and he simply watched as his mother placed down the fresh cup, watched as her hand grazed his uncle's leg under the table, watched as their gaze locked in unvoiced lust, watched as Tennyson's eyes followed the swish of her hips as she left the room.
Not quite knowing what made him say it, Chandler had simply looked up at his uncle and asked, "Are you sleeping with her?"
Tennyson glanced down at him in surprise.
"You don't understand what you're asking about," he muttered.
"Yes I do. I read. Are you having an affair with my mother?"
Tennyson slowly moved his queen across the board and chewed on his lip.
"So have you gotten a ring and such?" Darby was saying.
"Yes, Chandler picked it out."
Chandler started and his memories fell back into his mind at the sound of his name.
"What?" he said, confused.
"You picked out the ring," Charles said, still grinning his stupid, drunk smile. "You have better taste than me." To Chandler's horror, he got up on his chair, and stood there, swaying slightly, and announced to anyone who would listen, "See, Chandler here, he rather understands women. I wish that-"
Charles never finished the sentence, as Darby had grabbed him by the cuff and pulled him clattering down upon the table, knocking over glasses of beer and wine. White shirt stained with splotches of red wine like blood, and frothy beer dripping from his blonde sideburns, Charles demanded to know what had possessed Darby to do such a thing, but Darby simply hoisted him to his feet with strong arms and shook his head.
"It's time to get you home. You're becoming an embarrassment."
Chandler followed the two men out of the cabaret, but paid them no attention. After a long while he said quietly, and to no one in particular,
"I'm not quite sure anyone understands women. I wonder if I did if they'd come to believe that I'm worth something."
But no one heard him, and he got no reply.