Author: Asuye PM
She's half-blind, her voice taken by illness after a serious carriage crash that took her mother's life. He's mysterious, but handsome and charming. But what happens when she finds out his secret...?Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Supernatural - Chapters: 4 - Words: 5,094 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 13 - Updated: 03-02-13 - Published: 01-12-13 - id: 3091345
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
She was poor.
He was filthy rich.
Yet he was simple.
While she was extraordinary.
Part One: Falling in Love
What a lovely sound, the music fizzling and sparkling like detonating stars, lit by a fierce firecracker and the violin's high-pitched mewling screeching forcefully, the thunderous drawing of the ivory bow against the strings. But the songs are dwindling, fading into the sinister hooting of the night owl.
The man beckons, his fingers hidden by black fabric that shone luxuriously underneath the bright stars, catching the shafts of moonlight falling from the heavens and reflecting them into my pale, white face. My parents push me forwards eagerly, combing their stubby, rough fingers into my long brown hair. What are they doing? Don't they know who this man is?
It doesn't seem that way. It's as if they never heard of this man. The town drunkard. I don't know his name, but it's not relevant. I know what he looks like, even though I'm only six years old. My leather-clad feet step into the carriage, my heart crying out, an intense ache in my chest bawling for me to stay safe on the soft, dirt-covered brown in which tufts of green hair grow.
The wheels rasp as they clatter lamely against the cobblestone road. We sit in silence.
Then the smashing of hooves and steel against the path alarms me, causing me to fall forwards. An white-hot pain shoots through my forehead and I gasp, feeling a sticky liquid drip down my forehead, slowly slipping into my left eye. I catch a glimpse of a figure, bent over itself.
"Mother…!" is my last word before I close my eyes.
It's the same as before.
The harmony, the beat, the purring of the instruments as their players struck them wildly and making their lovely songs fly into the cold winter night. I clutched my silky green cloak tighter to my shoulders, breathing out and watching mist flutter briefly in the air, dancing like a butterfly does on a breezy day before vanishing into the wind.
My green dress rippled around my dress, the cool forest green matching my pale sky blue eyes. They said my eyes were beautiful. Bewitching. But that was before one of them turned dull. Dull and grey.
My slender, long fingers grasped a fold of the material that made up the dress, fingering the tiny, glittering silver jewels that accented the very tips of the skirt. The gems winked at me playfully, the sudden bright flashes bursting out at me.
"Elaine, the ball is almost over. Get ready! I can't wait to hear you play again!" My gaze is sternly fixed on my clothes and I refused to look up. "Lainey, come on. You should dance at least a little. I only saw you dancing with Mr. Andrews, and I think he's interested in Jane."
I shook my head fiercely, letting my chocolately brown curls bounce against my shoulders.
"Ok." Mikayla caressed my head briefly. "Come up soon, then."
I sighed, hearing the simple sound shake weakly. I wish.
"Now let's welcome the beautiful Elaine up to the piano to play a song!"
Forceful clapping and yelling sounded from the living room. I opened my mouth, my chest swelling as I greedily inhaled the precious oxygen from the corridor. Soon it would be replaced by a horrible scent of alcohol and hot breath.
I shuffled out, allowing a faint smile to grace my lips before I took my seat at the uncomfortable black chair, straightening my back and throwing my head backwards.
My slim, tender fingers raced over the black and white keys, striking them fiercely and letting the sounds ring out into the midnight sky. It was twelve at night, and a new year had just begun. The clock outside shrieked a new day, a new light. I allowed my memories, my depressing thoughts to be flooded away by the music, the music of the night.
Wild and raucous screams of envy and delight erupted in my living room as I stood up delicately and bowed. But my charming smile was fake, and so was the shine of happiness in my eyes. My belt hung loosely from my slender waist, my dark brown dress covered with stitches swaying as I sarcastically bobbed my head up and down merrily.
I opened my mouth as if to speak, and the room fell silent. I knew my sisters were staring at me unhappily, most likely with the faintest indication of tears in their eyes.
I shook my head sadly, and mouthed the words thank you. I exited the place, leaving the warm sound of fire snapping viciously behind, as well as the chants of 'Encore! Encore!' The yells and cries for more music blurred together, becoming one persistent voice. I covered my ears angrily. Verbose people…! Quickly I scurried towards where I knew the stairway to the second floor was, trying to escape the crowd.
My hands grasped the banisters of the steps, and my feet shuffled forward uneasily. My left eye was hidden in blackness, the once lovely blue now a dull color. I could barely make out the stairs with this accursed half-sight. A single tear trickled down my cheek and hung at my chin. I wiped it away and stumbled, bumping my knee into the wall in the process.
A mute. That was who I was. Without the power to speak. And I had been this way ever since my parents were involved in a terrible carriage crash. Only my father survived. My mother was long gone, buried in the peaty, grey-brown earth of the graveyard. Even now, dying, wilting flowers cover the black stone of her gravestone. We still visit there. But we cannot afford to pay for more beautiful blooms to wish her good luck in death. They were a waste of money, my father stated, money we cannot afford to lose.
Mrs. Jennet Griffens. Beloved wife of Mr. William Griffens. Mother to four children; Jane, Mikayla, Camellia, Lacie…
I know the words, white against the mournful black rock, by heart. I'd read them over and over and over, placing them like flies into the web that is my heart. My name was erased, forgotten, ousted from the list. I'd bet anything it was because I was thought of as a shame to my family. The second eldest, and I'd gone and lost my ability to sing my words to the world and half of my sight. A respected lady, now doomed to the fate of a pariah. How shameful I was.
I staggered up the last step, and wearily walked into my bedroom. It was simple on the outside, a plain wooden door. The same as every other bedroom in the house. Undecorated. Unembellished.
I grasped the golden, L-shaped handle and threw open the dust-covered door with ease. Perhaps I could not see everything, but I could see the beauty in the part of the chamber that my right eye could take in. The monochrome photos on the walls covered the mint green color of the walls. Half-finished clay statues and paintings were all over my desk, paint splattered everywhere around the area.
Uncertainty filling my heart, I walked over to an easel that held a canvas of a lovely azure color, making no noise, reluctant to wake memories and the ghosts of my past. I touched a photograph as I passed it. It was my mother and I, when I was young, much younger. I promptly drew back and forced my feet to keep moving.
I blew the dust off a cover, yet I didn't dare unveil what laid behind the unmarked curtain. It didn't matter anyways. Nothing that was gone now did.
I found a spare paintbrush lying around and dipped it in a small cup of clear water. The wet lumps of paint on my palette from a while ago were still there; I spun the globules of white and yellow around until they became a creamy, pastel white with that minuscule hint of gold in it. My brush plunged into the mixture and outlined smooth lines on the canvas in front of me. Six perfect petals, overlapping one another. I filled in the flower shape, darkening the whitish color where the petals covered a part of another.
The sound of footsteps warned me that someone else had entered my room. I didn't turn my head, but continued letting the pigments of the paint seep into the canvas. Judging by the heaviness in this person's steps, it was not one of my sisters. As soon as the thought crossed my mind the pitter-patter of smaller feet sounded right behind the unfamiliar stranger's steps; perhaps Jane?
"Elaine. I do believe someone is here to see you." Yes, it was Jane.
I ignored her.
"Elaine? Please, sweetheart, talk to-" Jane caught herself and I lowered my brush, casting it into the water in the cup with a savage glare at her.
Talk? I signaled with my hands.
She shook her head pleadingly, her long frizzy mane of brown bouncing against her chest, then blinked apologetically. "I apologize, my sweet sister." Her beautiful brown eyes were shaded with woe. "But Mr. Andrews, a brother of Timothy's is here. He wants to meet you."
Oh? Really? Isn't that great? Jane frowned. She probably saw right through my sarcasm, with the arrogant smirk on my face. Andrews. The filthy rich of England. They said they counted themselves as gentlemen and ladies, but were proud and very much ill-mannered.
"I have heard much about you, love. The artist. The pianist and violinist. And once a singer." A man stepped out from behind Jane. "A mighty fine one at that."
I bit my lip as I took in his appearance. Just how I'd expect a rich man to look. Handsome, with high cheekbones, mussed up blonde hair sitting on his head like a mop, a formal black suit. My gaze drifted upwards, to those...emeralds?
I covered my mouth, my scorn quickly changing to excitement, my own pale blue eyes widening ever so slightly with delight at his enchanting eyes.
Oh, his eyes. They were precious jewels, crystals I longed to have as my own, to draw, to sketch, to paint for all the world to see. Oh, now I could see why he was so popular with the ladies…
His messy blonde hair swayed in front of those gemstones, blocking my view. Unconsciously I stood up. What is his full name? I motioned to Jane.
Jane begun to repeat the question to Mr. Andrews, who held up a hand and nodded at me gravely. My name is Arthur Andrews. And you are Elaine Griffens, I presume?
I choked out a disbelieving laugh. Ah, so you can do this as well, my kind sir?
As well as you, love.
Please. Just call me Elaine. And where, sir did you learn this unpleasant art of the speech of hands?
It is not unpleasant, love. He disregarded my comment about not calling me 'love', and brushed his hair to the side in a very palatable way. My younger brother, Riley is a mute as well. Therefore I had to learn this to understand him.
I see. I dropped my hands to my side.
He gestured at the unfinished painting behind me. Am I allowed to see this, love?
Jane smiled at me from behind his back. I'll leave you two alone now. She signed. I dipped my head and she left, so that it was just the two of us in my chambers.
As soon as I was unable to hear the falling of her feet against the floor, a tiny, unfamiliar flutter of my heart took me by surprise when I felt a warm weight on my shoulder. I turned and saw Arthur resting his arm casually against me, his lips brushing softly against my forehead as he gazed at my artwork. "Is this a flower bloom?"
I smiled with relief, glad that he had recognized what the rudimentary shape was. That's what I hope it will become. But it is not even close to being finished. Yes…a narcissus.
Ah…the flower of the spring. Renewal, yes?
I flinched. I only wish I could be renewed.
He nuzzled my head, pity in his eyes.
You did not fail to impress me, love.
Is that a compliment, sire?
I felt my face burn. I ducked my head, afraid to show my rosy red cheeks to the man. I heard Arthur chuckle. Then smooth, silky fingers traced the outline of my chin and lifted my head up.
"My dear, there is nothing to worry about. I will not laugh at you. In fact, I am quite amazed by you. Enchanted, for want of a better word."
Was he making an overture…? I cast the thought away, embarrassed that I would think something so stupid. He was the wealthiest man in London, while I was a daughter in one of the poorest families!
He stopped and pressed his forehead to mine. "Love, I thought I had nothing but a paltry amount of respect for your family after that crash," he began. "Going off with a man they knew to be a drunkard, and whatnot."
The blush on my cheeks brightened to a scarlet for some inexplicable reason. He noticed and smirked a little. "I thought you and your sisters weren't viable at all. But then my brother, Timothy invited me here. Apparently he's quite enchanted with your elder sister. And then when I heard you playing tonight, I thought…'This girl must be an angel.' My virulent heart became ever so vivacious…and I felt the contempt for the Griffens family fall away…" He pressed his hand to where my heart was. As if it was reacting to his touch, it started to pound harder and faster.
Well…I feel it as well…Arthur. Arthur's emerald orbs grew even more affectionate. The vehement smile on both our faces confirmed it.
That love at first sight could bloom as fast as paint seeping down a canvas.