"Mistress Lily, you need to be still." My housekeeper Maria instructed me. I placed my hands on my hips as I felt the corset tighten around my stomach. I let out a small whimper. "I know it's not the most comfortable thing in the world, but you have to look acceptable for your meeting with Lord James today." I rolled my eyes at that name. Lord James. The man I was arranged to be married to. He was the heir to a gun manufacturing company and was very wealthy, but I hated his guts.
"Do I have to do this?" I asked, pulling at the corset.
"Yes" Maria told me, sliding a light pink dress on me. "Now, I'll leave you to do your hair and makeup." Maria grabbed my hand. "I know you don't want this, Lily, but it'll be good for you."
"If you say so." I responded, sitting in front of my vanity. Maria shut the door and left me alone to make myself look presentable. After I finished doing my makeup and hair, I stared at my reflection. My black hair was curled and fell gently over my shoulders and my emerald eyes were coated with white eyeshadow, but I still didn't feel beautiful. I opened a drawer in my vanity and pulled out a notebook, opened it and wrote the date down. April 12th, 1888. I had been writing a journal for two years now, and I wrote in it everyday in the morning and before I went to bed. Just as I started to write, I heard a light tap on my door.
"Are you almost ready?" Maria asked. I closed my notebook and shoved it back into the drawer.
"Yeah. I guess." I answered, exiting my room. Walking down the long corridor with Maria, I couldn't help but feel lonely. My parents were murdered on a business trip in the United States two years ago. That's what inspired me to write. It was my parents idea that James and I should get married and I couldn't disagree more. They were friends with James' parents and decided that by bringing our families together, both of the families would benefit. Sure, James was attractive, but he was a pig and womanizer. I wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.
"Oh, and by the way, you received a letter today." Maria told me, a smile across her face, lighting up her already bright face. She handed me the letter. It had a wax sealed with the initials 'J. L. R.' I sighed and opened the letter.
I can't express how happy I am about our meeting today. My help has been setting up in the garden all morning, I even had Charlotte teach me how to cook a cake for you. I really hope you like it. I still can't believe we are to be married within the next year. I promise you, I'll change my ways if that means being with you. I don't think you understand how much you actually mean to me. I would do anything for you, Lily. I've been thinking about it, and I think once we're wed, we should move out of London to the United States. I can extend my business overseas if we do carry out my idea. You're beautiful Lily, and I don't think I tell you enough. I'll see you later today.
James Loughton Redcliffe."
"So? What did it say?" Maria asked, peering over my shoulder. I crumpled up the letter.
"Lily! Don't use that language!" Maria scolded.
"Well I'm sorry, but I know he's lying. Last night at tea, Ettie told me that she saw James and Victoria Browning yesterday in town square." I explained. Maria waved a hand.
"Friends will be friends!"
"They were holding hands!" I yelled.
"Lily, he's your fiancé and everyone knows that. He would never betray you. Never."
"Yeah, well, he's a pig." I told her, storming down the hall way.
We arrived at James' manor to find him waiting outside, his hands behind his back and a smile across his face.
"Can we please go home?" I begged.
"No!" Maria asserted. "Now look nice for him." I sighed and smiled at him. He got on one knee and kissed the back of my hand.
"Hello, Lily." he greeted me, getting up. I wiped the back of my hand off on my dress. "Shall we go to the garden."
"That sounds lovely." I lied. Looking at James, he looks like a knight in shining armour, with soft dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes. He held out his hand and I took it as he led me to the garden. The garden was beautiful with every type of flower you could imagine sprouting from the ground and an array of different types of trees, mostly willow tress, but the whole garden gave off a magical, mystical feel. Underneath a willow surrounded by red roses was a tea table. James guided me to it and sat me down.
"It's lovely, isn't it?" he asked me while one of his maids poured us tea.
"Yeah, it's really nice." I told him, dropping a sugar cube into my cup.
"Just think, Lily, soon this will all be yours." he told me, reaching over the table and grabbing my hand.
"Master James, Mistress Victoria is here to see you." his maid, Charlotte called. James smile faltered.
"Just give me a minute!" he called back. He turned and smiled at me. "Will you just give me one moment?"
"Of course." I told him, smiling. Once James was gone, I picked up a newspaper I had noticed earlier. The headline read 'Two More Killings Related to Jack the Ripper.' I read on about the gruesome details until I heard footsteps behind me. I turned around to see James and Victoria approaching. James looked nervous as he brought over another chair.
"Lily, this is Victoria Browning. Victoria, this is Lily Blackwell."
"Hello." she greeted me, glancing over at James. I looked her over. She had long, light blond hair and dark brown eyes. She was wearing a dress that really showed off her chest. Just from looking at her I could tell what kind of person she was. "So, what's your relation to James?" she asked me, crossing her legs.
"I'm his fiancé-"
"A friend. She's just a friend." James interrupted, kicking me in the leg. I looked at him, astonished that he would say something like that.
"I see." Victoria said dully. We all sat in silence. I was wanting to leave more than anything.
"So, what does everyone think about the recent murders?" James asked, destroying the silence.
"I think it doesn't matter if it doesn't affect me." Victoria responded.
"I couldn't agree more." he told her, smiling. I could feel anger rising up inside me. Even though I didn't like James, he had no right to betray me. I was also angry at their reactions to the murders.
"I, for one, think it's awful. This person has killed innocent people who did nothing wrong!"
"But they were all prostitutes." Victoria told me.
"So?" I asked.
"They were menaces to society anyways, no one will really miss them." I was speechless at these words.
"Now, now, don't fight. Everyone has their own opinions." James chimed in.
"You're supposed to agree with me!" I told him.
"James can have his own opinion." Victoria said.
"He's my fiancé!" Victoria looked shocked.
"No, no, no! We're not engaged! Just friends!" James told her frantically.
"I think I'm going to go home now." I told them, storming out of the garden. I met Maria outside.
"So how was it?" she asked, a smile on her face.
"I don't want to talk about it." I told her. She frowned.
"Well alright then... Have you two established a date for the wedding yet?"
"If it were up to me," I told her "I wouldn't marry him at all."