Chapter 1: The arrival
James mother was getting married again, he found out when the wedding invitation came, he didn't even know she was dating someone, ever since she went back to England she rarely called or wrote, at first he thought she was upset cause he chose to stay on Derry, but when he thought about it he realized, it wasn't any diferent than before, he was just starting to be conscious of how little his mother actually cared about him. But he rather not to think about it.
The invitation was meant for him, Michelle and aunt Deirdre, however his aunt decided to decline.
"Why should I bother?" She said. "That marriage is going to last 3 months top."
So it was just him and Michelle in that flight... and Erin... and Orla... and Clare. James hoped his mother wouldn't care, in Derry all the parents knew that if they invited one of them to some event, the rest would go as well, they were a package deal, but his mother were a different case, he wasn't sure how would she react.
While he was lost in those thoughts Michelle was winking at the male flight attendant who was smiling politely, yet clearly uncomfortable.
"I'm telling you he's obviously into me. I'm gonna ride that fella."
"Please Michelle" Erin said. "At least wait until we land to find someone to ride."
"There is no way I would do that with some wee english fella. I have my values."
Orla interrupted that conversation when she returned to her seat with a bag full of candy.
"Where did you get that?" Erin asked.
"I found it in a drawer near the bathroom."
"I don't think you're allowed to take that." James said.
"Then why was the drawer open?" Orla replied.
James was about to tell her that it was probably open so the flight attendants could take it to sell it, and that she should return it, but in that moment Michelle noticed Clare seemed more panicked than usual.
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
"It's just... last night I watched a movie where the plane crashed with a montain and passengers had to eat each other to survive, and I can't help to think, what if that happens to us."
"Don't be ridiculous Clare, that was just a movie."
"It was based in real life events. It was said in the beginning."
"Why would you watch that kind of movie the night before you were taking a flight?" Erin asked.
"It was the only thing on tv."
"It's ok Clare," James said "It's practically impossible for something like that to happen in this flight."
"Yeah because there are not mountains like that in London." Orla interrupted "The worst that could happen in this case is that the plane just stops working and then we would fall from the sky with no survivors"
"You're not helping."
In that moment the plane started to shake.
"What's happening?" Clare asked terrified.
"It's just a bit of turbulance" James answered "Nothing to be worried about."
But the plane was shaking more violently than before.
"WE ARE GOING TO DIE!!!" Clare kept screaming.
"No, we wont" James respited "It'll pass in a few seconds, we're going to be fi..."
He couldn't finish that sentence cause in that second the oxygen mask were dropped.
"Maybe we wont be fine" Erin said.
Before anyone could stop her Clare stood up and walked towards the plane doors and took a parachute.
"Clare, what the fuck do you think you're doing?!" Michelle asked.
"I'm sorry girls, but I. WON'T. BE. EATEN."
With that being said she opened the door and jumped.
James, Michelle, Erin, Orla walked to the door in complete horror.
"Oh my god! SHE JUMPED!" Erin screamed "SHE JUMPED!"
"What are we going to do?" James asked.
"What do you think we are going to do?" Michelle answered. "We're pack animals, remember?"
And she took another parachute and jumped out of the plane.
"Ive always wanted to try one of this" Orla said before following Michelle.
James and Erin took their own parachute and in a 'what the hell, we're gonna die anyway' moment they kissed before steping into the unknown.
When James recovered his concisenice he was trapped under his parachute, unable to get out he started to ask for help.
"Hello? Is anybody out there? Erin? Michelle?"
Then a figure approached him and suddenly, a knife went through the tent, it took all his physical strength to stop him from screaming.The knife opened the tent and in the other side it was Orla.
"Are you alright James?" She asked.
"Orla, thank god, Where did you get that knife from?"
"I always carry a knife with me to protect me from the bears."
"That doesn't make any...Nevermind I won't complain about this, Where are the girls?"
The rest were standing behind Orla, James felt relief, at least nobody got hurt.
"Does anybody know where are we?" Erin asked.
"Oh my god, what if we are in a deserted island" Clare started to panic again. "It could take years before someone could find us."
"Well Clare." Michelle intervened "Maybe you should had thought about it before jumping out of the fucking plane."
"Maybe you should had thought about it before you make me take the aisle seat."
"Enough." Erin interrupted them. "this is not the time to blame Clare."
"It would be plenty time to do that after we find refugee." Erin continued.
Orla raised her hand.
"Yes Orla?" Her cousin said.
"Maybe we could go to those buildings."
She pointed out to a lot of buildings that could be seen beyond the forest. The rest of them felt really stupid for not noticed it before. Without saying a word they began to walk towards the civilization.
When they finally got out of the forest they found what James could only describe as a scene of period drama movie, the women were wearing long dresses, and the men had those top hat that he had seen in pictures from like two centuries ago.
"Where are we?" He asked and then considered that a better question would 'When'
"Let me ask." Erin approached the first person she saw, a man in a purple suit who stared at her like she was some alien. "Excuse me sir, where are we?"
"London?" The man replied politely and confused.
Erin walked back to them with a big smile on her face.
"Good news we are in London, so we didn't fall far from we were suppose to land."
"Great," Michelle said. "Now we should go to aunt Cathy's house and see if we can get back our stuff from the plane, come on James, you lived here, where do we go?"
James looked at the girls unable to understand why neither of them seemed to notice the elephant in the room.
"No Michelle," He said slowly "I don't think I can take you to my mother's house."
"Is too far?" Clare asked. "Do we need to call a cab?"
"You seriously don't notice?"
"Notice what?" Erin inquired.
"There are carriages on the street, people are wearing clothes from like two centuries ago," James said "Don't you think that's… odd?"
"Of course it's fucking weird." Michelle replied "But it's England so we were expecting it."
"Wait, this is how you think England is like?"
The four girls nodded.
"Why would you think that?"
"Every movie set in England looks like this." Orla said.
"What about James Bond?"
"Well, James Bond is a secret agent." Clare replied. "So all his missions and all his gadgets must be secret."
"What about Doctor Who?"
"Nobody watches Doctor Who." Michelle said.
"Please tell me you're jocking."
Before they could continue with the discution, a young man approached them.
"Penelope?" He asked confused. "What happened to your hair? What are you wearing?"
"Who are you talking to?" Michell questioned.
"I was talking to her" He pointed at Clare.
"I'm sorry," She said "but I don't think I know you."
"What are you talking about? and why are you talking with that accent? Who are this people? Are they threating you?"
"Hey, she said she doesn't know you so back off." Michelle intervined.
"I am not leaving her alone."
"Help, he wants to kidnap her!" Erin started screaming.
"I have a knife." Orla told him.
"Girls I don't think this is the moment to do this." James tried to stop them.
"Colin?" Someone said behing the young men.
All of them looked at her, she had a long, curly, red hair, was wearing a yellow dress with embroidered flowers and talked with english accent. Also she looked exactly like Clare.
"Holy shit." Michelle put on words what everybody was thinking.
"Hello, I am Penelope Featherington."
"What's going on?" Erin inquired.
"Maybe she is an ancestor of Clare?"James suggested.
"Ancestor? They are the same age."
"Is this your relative Penelope?" The young men, Colin asked, pointing at Clare.
"Why are you asking that?"
"Because you are identical."
Clare and Penelope looked at each other for a second.
"I do not really see the resemblance." The redhaired said.
"Yeah, me neither." The blonde agreed.
The rest of them stared at them incredulous.
"Maybe my mother knows about them, we should go to my house and ask her."
"You can use my carriage." Colin offered.
"Can you give us a minute." Erin asked, and the Derry girls walked away.
"Girls I don't think this is a good idea." Clare said. "They're strangers, we are not supposed to go with strangers."
"She's not a stranger," Orla replied "She's your twin cousin."
"Plus, it's not like we have much of a choice," Michelle added "we don't have any clothes or money maybe they could borrow us some, and help us to get to aunt Cathy's house."
"Again, I don't think that's possible cause my mom lives in 20 century England."
"We don't have time for your stupid games James, now let's go."
The ride in the carriage was silent, everybody was uncomfortable, except Orla, she was looking at the window, pointing at everything she saw until they arrived at the Featheringtons house. Inside there was a woman in her mid forty who was taking the tea with a young lady, both of them were redhair with a similar hairstyle than Penelope.
"Mother, do you know if we were suppose to recieve any visit?"
"What are you talking about Penelope?" Her mother asked without looking at her.
"I have reasons to believe this young lady is our cousin." Penelope pointed at Clare.
"Hello is nice to meet you."
Penelope's mother raised her gaze and became speachless the second her eyes laid on Clare.
"How is this possible, who are you?"
"My name is Clare Devlin, I'm from Ireland."
The older lady's face went from surprise to indignation.
"Well that explains it all, only an Irish relative would come to visit unannounced in this time of the year and with companion." She looked at Erin, Orla and Michelle. "Is any of you young ladies married?"
The four girls looked at the woman in horror.
"No." They said horrified.
"So it is going to be four debutants, Oh god there so much to do, we must go to the dressmaker to see if we can get you something for tomorrow to be introduced to the queen."
"We don't really need to see the queen, we just want go to James mother's house." Clare tried to clarified.
"Yes, yes, you can do that after your presentation, now hurry up."
The woman leff the room, calling for the housekeeper and the rest of them remained in silent.
"It's like she can hear the words I say" Clare finally said. "But she doesnt understand what they mean."
James looked at her.
"Welcome to my world."
Chapter 2: Meeting the queen
The social season, was the traditional annual period in the spring and summer when it was customary for members of the social elite of British society to hold balls, dinner parties and charity events. But most importantly, it was the time of the year where young ladies made their debut in society, and became eligible to be chosen as a wife for a bachelor. At least that's how Penelope explained to James while they were waiting for the girls to be ready.
Upstairs Clare, Erin, Orla, and Michelle we're torture by lady Featherington, Penelope's mother had brought home some dresses that the dressmaker had to spare, however they weren't sure it would fit, so they spent the whole morning forcing the girls in corsets.
Even at the distance James could hear his cousin cursing.
"ARGH!!!! FUCKING ENGLISH!!!! WHAT THE FUCK IT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!!!! I HATE THIS FUCKING COUNTRY!!!"
Penélope seemed horrified.
"By hearing that screaming anyone would think she has never worn a corset."
The red haired looked at him confused.
"They don't wear corsets in Ireland." He explained.
"Really? Irish girls are so lucky."
Then they heard Erin screaming.
"JUST KILL ME, IT WOULD PUT ME OUT OF MY MISERY!!!"
"Not in this moment, they are not"
When the screaming was finally over, Lady Featherington called for James.
"The girls want to see you before we leave, they say they are nervous and they need you to give them words of encouragement."
James raised an eyebrow, that didn't sound like something they would say.
When he entered the room the four of them were standing in front of him, they were wearing white dresses, looking like angels, despite the circumstances he couldn't help a warm feeling in his chest.
"Girls you look…"
"Shut up James," Michelle interrupted him "we don't have time, We need to take Orla's knife and cut these fucking corsets."
"Are you sure it is a good idea? What if the dresses don't fit."
"They'll fit, the corsets don't do shit. Listen right now I'm the only one who can speak cause they can't even hold enough air to talk… I mean look at Orla, she's turning blue."
Next to them Orla had an inexpressive look, like someone who was about to faint.
That morning at the Bridgerton household, Eloise had just left her bed. It was a quiet morning, for the first time in two years there was no lady in the family who had to make her debut, her family was already having their breakfast when she arrived.
"You are late." Her mother said as soon as she saw her.
"There is no reason for me to wake up early, I do not have any engagements for today or any other day, that is the life of a woman like me."
"Ever since you had that fight with Penelope, you have become even more reclusive, I am worried about you, why did you even fight?"
"Nothing you should worry about, I just… realized that she was not who I thought she was."
It had been several months since she and Penelope were no longer in speaking terms, The reason? She found out Penelope was Lady WhistIedown, right after she told the world about her secrets meetings with Theo, and then, instead of come clean and tell the truth she made her believe it was her fault for being so impulsive and careless, she could never forgive her for that.
That is why she often wondered why she had not tell anyone the truth about Penelope, maybe it was not worthed, maybe cause no one would believe her that the shy, innocent Penelope would write such a thing, or maybe just maybe deep down there was a bit of hope of fixing what was broken.
Suddenly her thoughts were interrupted by Colin's arrival.
"There you are, I did not see you yesterday."
"I had no desire to interact with anybody."
"What a surprise." He said sarcastically.
"Do not vex me."
"I have actually quite interesting news. You will not believe it, yesterday I Saw Penelope twice."
"Really? You thought I would find that interesting because…"
"I suppose that was a poor choice of words, what I meant was that I saw two Penelopes, turns out she had an irish cousin she did not know about who came to visit her, I must confess the first time I saw her I thought she was Penelope, I probably scared the poor creature."
Eloise sighed, two Penelopes, as if one was not bad enough.
At the same time in the royal palace, the elite of society reunited to see the young ladies who got to make their debut. There were excited families all around to see the impression they had on the queen. Everyone was having a pleasing time.
Everyone but James. He was standing in the background, trying to hide his face with his hand, feeling all the embarrassment that his cousin and friends seemed to be immune to.
Michelle was the first one to be presented, she walked into the room with her hands on her hips, pretending to be a runaway model, she even turned around twice before blowing away a kiss at the public and then left the room without the Queen's permission. She actually didn't seem to notice the queen at all.
Next it was Erin, she was greeting everyone like she was beauty pageant queen, something that wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the feather in her hair that was constantly falling in her face while she was trying to blow it off.
Then Orla came in, she reminded him of the little toddlers who are choose to be the flower girls in a wedding and have no idea what's going on but are still happy to be there. She walked the aisle waving everybody with an innocent smile on her face and a lollipop in her mouth. James wondered where did she get that from, but then he remembered that big amount of candy she stole from the plane, apparently she kept it.
When she stood in front of the queen, the elder lady looked at her with annoyance, surprise and curiosity.
"What is that thing in your mouth, child?" The queen asked.
"It's a lollipop your highness," Orla replied, then she pulled another out of her neckline."Do you want some?"
The room was in complete silence waiting for the queen's reaction. James couldn't breath, he felt his heart beating out of his chest, praying to god the queen wouldn't have his friend executed.
Slowly and hesitating the queen took the lollipop and looked at it for a second.
"I do not know how to remove this." She referred to the envelope.
Orla took it for her, then the queen tasted the lollipop.
"Not bad," The queen admitted. "Not bad at all. Come child, sit near me."
Orla sat on a step next to the queen and everybody else was shocked at her behavior and the strange approval it received. James was just relieved his friend's head would remain in its place.
Then it finally came Clare's turn, she looked terrified, she walked with her face down almost running, James thought she probably wanted this to be over as soon as possible.
"HI, MRS QUEEN, HOW IT'S GOING? I'M CLARE" She practically screamed.
Fortunately for her, the queen was too focused looking at her and Penelope who was standing next to James with a shy smile, to care about the volume of her voice.
"Well" the queen said "Now I have seen everything."
Their debut was over, thankfully, though Lady Featherington wasn't happy with their performances and she made sure they'd know.
"Fortunately, for you." She said. "Lady Danbury will offer, as always, the first ball of the season, this will be your chance to redeem yourselves, so do not do anything that I would disapprove of."
Later that night, while they were waiting for Erin to be ready to go to the ball, the rest of the Derry girls discussed their situation.
"Ok girls," Michelle started. "I might be wrong, but I think we were kidnapped."
"We're trapped," Clare agreed. "She'll never let us go, not until we get a husband, I don't want a husband."
"I don't want a husband either, he'll take all my candy." Orla said.
"Nobody is getting a husband," James said "I don't know how, but we have to get out of here, so I say that as soon as Erin comes downstairs, we leave this place and then…I don't we search for a time vortex, the tardis or something?"
"Alright tough the last part was crap, James is right we have to get the fuck out of here." Michelle agreed.
Orla and Clare nodded.
"So it's set" James claimed "We are leaving now."
At that moment Erin came downstairs in slow motion from James point of view, she was wearing a light blue dress with embroidered butterflies and a silver tiara with sapphires, she smiled shyly and took his breath away, he had always thought she was the most beautiful girl, but right then, there were no words to describe her, it was like he fell in love with her all over again.
"One more night won't cause any harm."
Chapter 3: The ball at Lady Danbury's
Michelle was pissed,not only England was more boring than she ever expect,they didn't even have a TV, fucking savages, but they were stuck with Clare's wee english relatives who were obsessed with marriage, and now they had to go to some party,she usually liked parties but this was an english party so it would probably be as boring as the whole country.
They could have left, but James and Erin, those horny bastards, needed to have their fairy tale night, Michelle swore to herself that once they're back in Derry she would force them in chastity belts.
So there she was, standing between them hoping Orla and Clare would not notice, it wasn't easy, since Donegal their lovey dovey eyes doubled, it made her want to puke her guts.
After a long uncomfortable ride in the carriage, Clare's wee English aunt refused to get another, therefore they were cramped, they finally arrived at the party of lady something, Michelle couldn't remember, some fancy English lady. She really didn't care.
She had to admit the place wasn't so bad, it was a huge mansion, there was an orchestra playing, she didn't even know orchestra still existed, there was a table with lots of food, that was the first thing Orla noticed, and chandeliers on the ceiling.
"Now girls," Clare's aunt told them "I want you to be on your best behavior, if any of you causes a scene there will be consequences, I am warning you."
"What are you gonna do?" Michelle asked. "Lock us in a dungeon?"
"Do not tempt me."
Before Michelle could reply an older lady approached them, she was probably in her 60s, she had dark skin, a mocking smile and she walked around as if she was the owner of the mansion, and considering Clare's aunt's face, she probably was.
"Do not say a word." The red haired lady warned.
"Lady Featherington," the old lady said, "It is good to see you, I have been interested in meeting your guest."
"Of course lady Danbury, this my niece Miss Clare Devlin, and her friends Miss Erin Quinn, Miss Orla McCool, Miss Michelle Mallon and Mister James Maguire."
"Hi" said Clare.
"Hello" said Erin.
"Hey" said Michelle.
"Nice to meet you." Said James.
Orla just waved.
Clare's aunt stared at them waiting for them to do something, when she realized they weren't going to do whatever the hell she wanted, she got closer to them.
"You have to bow." She whispered.
"What?" Orla asked.
"You must forgive them, lady Danbury, they are Irish, they are not familiar with the civilized ways."
"Excuse me?" Michelle inquired, ready to jump on her throat.
"Not now Michelle." James stop her.
Lady Danbury laughed.
"It seems you are quite an interesting company."
Before she could say anything else, a young lady in a pink dress approached her and hugged her.
"It is so good to see you again." The young lady said.
"Daphne." Lady Danbury replied. "Allow me to introduce you to our new guest from Ireland."
She made the introductions and for Clare's aunt's dismay they didn't bow either.
"This is Daphne Basset." Lady Danbury continued."Duchess of Hastings."
"It is so good to meet you."
"And where is Simon? I hope he didn't let his beloved wife travel alone."
"Or course not." The duchess answered. "He is right there. He had to talk with business partners before coming to you."
She waved at a man in the distance,and then kept talking with the old lady but Michelle was no longer paying attention, she was too focused on that man, he was literally the most attractive man she had ever seen, tall, dark and handsome with a seductive smile.
"Fuck me." She couldn't help but say. And she clearly wasn't the only one who noticed him.
"The English had this and they sent us James?" Erin said.
"Hey!" James replied, offended.
Michelle smiled, the party was better than she expected and now she knew what she wanted to do or who she wanted to do.
Benedict Bridgerton was boring beyond words could describe,there he was again, in another boring ball full with boring elite, it could not be help, that was the world he belonged, he wanted to be something else, he wanted to be an artist, but all his dreams were just that, foolish dreams, he was not an artist, he was just a rich boy whose brother had to buy his place in an art school.
He was wandering around the ball, lost in his own thoughts when he saw her. It was impossible not to notice her, she was sitting on the ground near the food table, taking every piece of fruit, cutting it with a knife, and arranging it on a tray in her lap.
Benedict approached her slowly to see what she was doing, when he got close enough he could see that on the tray she had made a dog with fruit, the animal was so well done he would not have been surprised if it started to bark.
"Wow." He said. "That is impressive."
"Thank you very much." She replied.
"I used to paint with my bare fingers and think I was bold, but looking at this I realize I was actually playing safe, I have never considered making draws with food."
"You can draw with all sorts of materials," she replied with her eyes on the tray "I sometimes do it con flowers and feathers, candies or my favorite macaroni."
"Yet is it not a bit counterproductive? The food eventually will spoil."
"It3 won't, I'll eat it first."
"But then nobody will see what you have done."
"I didn't do it for people to see it, I did it because it tastes better this way."
"That is a good reason, where did you get that knife from by the way?"
"I always bring one with me, in case of a surprise cheetah attack."
"I highly doubt a cheetah would attack in the middle of a ball."
"That's why it will be a surprise."
He laughed, this girl had such a unique way to see the world.
"You're right," he admitted, "I will have to bring my own knife from now on."
"Don't worry for tonight, I'll protect you."
"Why thank you, I am Benedict Bridgerton by the way."
That is when he caught the accent.
"You are Irish, you are one of Lady Featherington guests, I heard one of you offered candy to the queen in her debut."
"Aye, that was me."
Of course it was her.
"It must have been a really good candy."
She got closer to him.
"I can give you one." She whispered "but you have to promise me you won't tell anyone, cause I don't want to keep sharing my candy."
Then she pulled out her neckline a small ball wrapped in the shape of a bow, when it touched his hand and while looking into her eyes, Benedict finally understood the phrase 'butterflies in the stomach.'
Clare walked around the crowd trying to avoid as much eye contact as possible, she had no idea where her friends were, a part of her was worried they would get in trouble, and the other part was glad thinking that if they get in trouble at least she won't be around to be blamed.
She was so lost in thoughts that she didn't notice the girl in front of her until they crashed.
"I'm so sorry, I swear I didn't see you."
"It is fine I…" The girl suddenly seemed upset. "You, just stay away from me."
Clare started to walk back, but then stopped, why did she have to walk away? She didn't do anything wrong, and if there was something she couldn't stand was to be punished when she didn't do anything.
"I'm sorry, but what's your problem? I know I should have paid more attention but you didn't need to be so rude."
"Are you mocking me Penelope?" The girl said.
Clare immediately knew what was the problem.
"I'm not Penelope, she's over there."
She pointed at the red haired who was standing in a corner with a serious expression. The girl looked at Penelope and then at her with absolute shock.
"Everyone keeps saying that we look alike, but I don't really see it."
"Maybe you should look in the mirror more often."
There was an awkward silence before the girl talked again.
"I am sorry, I was rude to you and you did not deserve it, I am Eloise Bridgerton."
"I'm Clare Devlin."
"So how are you finding England so far?"
"I don't want to be rude but if I'm honest I don't like it that much, these dresses are uncomfortable and everyone is obsessed with marriage."
"I know right? It is so annoying."
"And I don't even understand why, I feel like I'm too young to get married, I'm not even sure if I want to get married at all, but if I do I would like to go to university first, maybe travel to some other country."
Eloise looked at her as if she was Jesus.
"So do I. It is so nice to talk with someone who thinks like me. I am so sick of all these people who think that as a woman , the best I could hope for is to be wed to some boring bachelor and give him 20 children."
"That's horrible, I can't believe people still think like that."
"I know it is the worst."
"You would think that at this time they'd know better, I mean it's ridiculous."
"Exactly." She sighed. "But well this is the world we live in. I heard you and your company just made their debut. How did it go?"
"Oh it was terrible, I was so nervous, I just stood there while my legs were shaking, I felt like I just… I just couldn't…"
"Like you could not breathe. I felt the same."
They looked at each other, and Clare felt her heart beat fast, but for once it wasn't out of concern or fear but out of excitement. It was the first time she felt someone understood her completely.
"Where have you been my whole life?" She couldn't help but ask.
"I could ask you the same."
The queen found Orla sitting on the ground next to the food table accompanied, to the queen's surprise, by Benedict Bridgerton, they were eating from her tray, laughing and though they looked lovely together, she had some business to attend with the young lady.
Benedict incorporated and took a bow when he saw the queen approach them, Orla remained seated.
"Good evening children, I am sorry for interrupting but I need to have a word with Miss McCool."
"Of course your majesty." Benedict said while he helped Orla to stand up. "I suppose, I will see you around. Miss McCool."
"Orla." She corrected him.
"Orla." He repeated, with a dreamy smile.
Once he was gone, the queen went straight to the point of what she wanted from her.
"I must tell Miss McCool that I liked the candy called lollipop that you gave me. I wish to know if you have more?"
"Aye, I got a lot from the plane."
"The plane? What is that?"
"It's how we got here, we took a plane."
"You call planes at the ships?"
"You call ships at the planes?"
The two stared at each other confused for a second.
"Anyway." The queen continued, "I want at least half of those candies."
"I'm sorry your highness, but I don't want to."
"Do you realize, young lady, that I am the queen? I can have you executed for this behavior."
"There are some things worth dying for."
The queen sighed, she could not be upset at such innocent eyes.
"Very well then, how about we negotiate? I will buy them."
"Will you give me gold?"
"Oh dear child, I am the queen, I can give you even greater things than gold."
James found Erin in the middle of the room with a rather sad face, which worried him. This whole event was something she always wished to be in, he expected her to dance around with handsome guys, calling them the true love of her life.
He shaked that thought out of his head.
"Are you okay?" He asked. "You seem a bit blue."
"It's just, I was really excited for tonight, I thought I'd be like a princess with this dress and this tiara, but then I got here and everyone looked the same."
"Well, that way everyone gets to be a princess."
"What's the point of being a princess if everyone else gets to be one as well."
"Really Erin? That 's so selfish."
"Aren't you supposed to be in love with me?"
"I am, but love doesn't blind me."
"Well it should."
James couldn't help but laugh, that was so Erin.
"You look beautiful by the way."
"Thank you. You don't look so bad yourself."
"I'd ask you to dance, but I have no idea how to do that."
He pointed at the couples who were dancing in a perfect sync, they looked more like a music video than real life.
"When did they rehearse all this?" Erin asked.
"I don't know."
"You lived here."
"Not in this time period."
"I see." For a second James thought she had finally understood the situation they got themselves into. "They change the choreography every year, You English are so weird."
He screamed internally.
"It doesn't matter." She continued. "Let 's go."
"What do mean?" He asked, fearing the answer.
"We are dancing, with your previous knowledge and my natural grace we are going to rock it."
"No, I don't think so."
But she wasn't listening anymore, she dragged him with her to the dance floor and then proceeded to unsuccessfully try to imitate the movements of the rest of the couples.
"Come on James, you have to move your feet at… ARGHHHH!!!!"
He accidentally stepped on her toe.
"I'm so sorry Erin, I didn't mean to… ARGHHHH!!!!"
She purposely stepped on his toe.
5 seconds later every couple on the floor stopped their dance to see the young English boy and the young Irish girl performing a dance that seemed more like a battle to step on each toes than an actual dance.
Simon Basset was locked in the library signing documents about Clyvedon, nothing too important just regular business, however it was annoying, but he had no one to blame but himself, in the past he had used those exact business to avoid the balls, the desperate bachelorettes and the insufferable mothers.
But now he was happily married, and he wanted to spend time with his beloved wife, yet he could not because of those businesses.
He would punch his past self if he could.
In that moment someone knocked the door, he opened expecting to see Daphne, instead there was a young lady with dark curly hair, and light green eyes who was looking at him with a weird smirk.
"Good evening my lady, Is there something I can do for you?"
The smirk on her face disappeared.
"You know? I was so ready to jump on you and ride you, but then you opened your mouth and that accent came out and it totally killed my mood."
Then she walked away, while he simply stood there unsure of what had just happened, a few seconds later he decided it was not important so he returned to his business.
Michelle walked back to the party feeling like such an idiot, of course he had an English accent, how could she expect otherwise? What a waste.
She stopped by a second, maybe if he stayed quiet the whole time? No, once she heard that accent she couldn't just unheard it.
She was too focused on that matter. She didn't notice that the fabric of her dress had got stuck with a candelabrum and when she walked away the candelabrum fell into a curtain setting it on fire.
"Shit!" She said as quietly as possible.
She tried to turn it down with her hand fan but it only made it increase.
"Fuck." She whispered.
She looked around and made sure there were no witnesses then she ran away.
Clare and Eloise spend happily chatting the rest of the night, talking about the things they liked and disliked and found out they had a lot on common.
"I can't believe you haven't heard of the spice girls." Clare said. "They are from here."
"I swear if there were a group of female musicians with worldwide fame, I would be the first one to support them."
In that moment a young man approached them, he seemed familiar, but Clare couldn't tell from where.
"Good evening ladies," He said. "Eloise I am glad to see you are getting along with Miss Devlin."
"What do you want Colin?" Eloise asked, annoyed.
Colin, the name was also familiar but Clare still couldn't put her finger where.
"I think our mother is looking for you."
"Please do not tell me she found another suitor."
"You will have to ask her yourself."
"Why can you not just tell me?"
"I said you will have to ask her yourself."
He then gave her a strange look, that only Eloise seemed to know what it meant.
"Of course," she said, a little bit uncomfortable. "I suppose I must go and ask her."
She looked at Clare.
"It was a pleasure to meet you, Miss Devlin."
And before Erin could respond, Eloise hugged her.
"Do not trust Penelope." She whispered in her ear.
She left immediately, not without giving her one last warning look.
"Wow," her brother said, scaring Clare, she had forgotten he was there. "You really made a good impression on her."
"I'm glad. I like her a lot." Clare admitted.
"Miss Devlin, I wanted to apologize for my behavior when we met. I was rude to you and your company, it was wrong but I really thought you were Penelope."
Now she remembered where she knew him from.
"It's alright, you thought you were protecting your friend."
"I am not sure if I can still call myself a friend of hers, she has not spoken to me since last year, and I do not know why."
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"It is nothing you should worry about. I actually came here to tell you that you look stunning tonight, that dress and the curly hair really suits you."
"Thank you, aunty Portia took a lot of effort to make us look presentable."
"Well it was a successful effort. Would you like to dance miss Devlin."
At distance Penelope was staring at Clare being accompanied by Colin, it was hurtful, the way he was looking at her, he would never look at Penelope like that.
She had spent her whole life in love with Colin but she never expected him to love her back, yet last year in the ball her mother hosted, he danced with her and told he would always protect her, and she had hope.
Only for those hopes to be shattered not so long after when she heard him joking about how he would never feel anything like that for her.
She felt so stupid, so ridiculous, Eloise was right she was just an insipid wallflower, and she was done making a fool of herself.
Michelle walked through the crowd desperate to find her friends, when she was about to give up, she finally saw James and Erin talking to each other.
"Sure." Erin said. "Everyone's a critic but if they had seen us dancing rock the boat, we'd have blown them away."
"Absolutely." James agreed.
"Where are Clare and Orla?" Michelle interrupted.
"They must be somewhere." Her cousin replied.
"We have to find them and get the hell out of here as soon as possible. No questions asked."
"Why?" Erin asked.
"What did you do?" James asked.
"Okay, first I said no questions asked, second it's really upsetting you always assume the worst of me and third…"
She couldn't go on because at that moment the queen called for everyone's attention.
"Good evening to all of you, I want to thank Lady Danbury for hosting as always the first dance of the season, it has been as always flawless. This year a lot of lovely young ladies have made their debut, but one has made a significant impact compared with the rest. Ladies and gentlemen, the diamond of this season is… Miss Orla McCool."
Everyone started to applaud while Orla walked excited towards the queen.
"As your new queen, I'll…" Orla was saying.
"You are not the new queen, you are just the diamond." The queen interrupted her.
"Oh." that made her sad.
The attention of Erin and James returned to Michelle.
"What were you telling us?" Erin asked.
Before Michelle could answer, the hot duke appeared yelling.
"FIRE!!!, THERE IS A FIRE!!! EVERYONE HAS TO GET OUT OF HERE NOW!!!"
Everybody started to run in different directions while screamed with horror, except Erin and James, they just stood there looking at Michelle the same way parents look at their child when they got in trouble.
"It wasn't me."
Chapter 4: The suitors
Good morning dear readers:
It has been quite an interesting beginning for this season, and I am here to tell you everything about the creme de la creme, but who am I kidding? You all came here to know more about the Irish guest of Lady Featherington. Where shall I begin?
They call themselves 'The Derry girls', that includes the boy, who happens to be English, his name is James Maguire and he is the cousin of Miss Michelle Mallon the wildest of all, she took an interest in our duke of Hastings but it was soon gone, apparently, English gentleman is not her cup of tea.
Miss Erin Quinn, is a young lady full of dreams, perhaps too many dreams, or shall I call them delusions? Her opinion of herself is too high to be realistic, and did you see her dance with mister Maguire? It makes me wonder, are they lovers of foes?
There is not much that I can say about Miss Clare Devlin, other than she is the relative of the Featheringtons, how? No one is sure, but her resemblance with the youngest, Penelope, is all the proof they need, not that I can see it.
And finally let's talk about the diamond of the season, Miss Orla Macool, mark my words, next year all the debutants will bring different kinds of candy to bribe the queen. She is the most unusual kind of lady I have ever met. Half of the things she says don't make sense. I am really interested to see what kind of gentleman will attract her.
I don't think I will have to wait too long, apparently last night at the ball her and Miss Devlin caught the attention of a pair of Bridgerton siblings. Will there be a double wedding this season?
And talking about the ball, it would have been perfect if it wasn't for the fire, and giving the wild forms of our new guest I would not be surprised if one of them had to do something with that.
"Who the fuck is that Lady Whistledown? and why is she writing about us?" Michelle asked while they were returning home.
They went to pick up dresses with madam Delacroix, and while they were in it, Lady Featherington bought a paper with the title Lady Whistledown, Prudence read it out loud on their way home.
James, whom Michelle kindly volunteered to carry all the boxes, got closer to Erin to ask as quietly as possible.
"And how does she know about the fire?"
Fortunately the damages caused by the fire were minimal, even Lady Danbury seemed to be grateful for it, since it gave her the excuse she was looking for to change the wallpaper.
"Nobody knows who she is." Prudence replied. "But she knows everybody's secrets, and she publishes them every week during social season."
"So that means… Are we being observed?" Clare inquired, clearly starting to panic.
"Is she a psychic?" Orla asked.
"Don't be ridiculous Orla?" Erin said, but immediately doubted. "Is she?"
"No." Prudence answered. "No, no, no?" Then she turned to her mother. "Is she?"
"Jesus Christ, Prudence, you get dumber each year."
Michelle kept reading the paper and something else caught her attention.
"And who are these Bridgerton siblings she's talking about?"
"You know them." Penelope replied. "There is Colin, he was the first person you talked to here, Benedict, Orla talked to him, also Eloise I think Clare made friends with her, and of course the duchess of Hastings."
"There are four?" Erin asked, surprised. "That's too many children."
"There are actually eight." Penelope cleared.
"Jesus fucking Christ!" Michelle said. "You English breed like rabbits, why don't they just buy a TV?"
"I don't think TVs exist at this point of history." James said.
"That's so stupid, so what? We came from the future?"
"Yes, that's what I've been trying to tell since we got here."
"Don't be ridiculous James."
They arrived home at that point, but they stood there when they noticed the long line of gentlemen in front of their house, all of them were carrying a bouquet of flowers.
"What 's going on?" Clare asked.
"They are probably suitors for Orla." Penelope replied.
"Why?" Erin asked.
"Because she is the diamond."
"About that, what's the deal with the diamond?"
Penelope looked at her, surprised and confused for her lack of understanding about the implications of being the diamond.
"Well, the diamond is basically the most important bachelorette of the season, is the young lady the queen declared above the rest, everyone wants to be the diamond cause they always get the best proposals?"
"Two years ago the diamond was Daphne Bridgerton and she married the duke and last year was Edwina Sharma and she married a prince."
That made Erin snap.
"And she picked Orla?" She asked, horrified. "I was right there!!"
"Oh I'm sorry Erin, were you planning on marrying a Prince?" James asked, annoyed.
"Of course not." She replied. "But you know, it would be nice to brag about rejecting a prince on Jenny Joyce's face."
While they discussed Erin's expectations, Lady Featherington was over the moon.
"The diamond of the season is in my house, I can not believe it." But then her smile faded away with a terrible realization. "My daughters are never getting married."
Meanwhile in those moments Eloise was having breakfast with her family, while Colin was giving their mother and Anthony all the details of the ball, or better said all the details of Clare Devlin.
"She was the most beautiful creature on the ball. For a second I thought I was looking at an angel, and her voice. What can I say about her voice? I have never thought that the Irish accent could be so lovely."
Eloise found it annoying, she had the same face and voice as Penelope, so why didn't he pay that kind of attention to Penelope?
She couldn't understand her own feelings. She should be glad her brother was interested in Clare Devlin, she seemed a great girl, and if they got married, they would be family, she should want that, she liked Clare. So why did the idea of her brother courting her made her so miserable?
And the thing was, she hardly knew her, they only shared a nice chat, and yet she couldn't help herself from telling her to be cautious with Penelope, she even bought the Lady Whistledown's paper to be sure there was nothing harmful had been written about her. She didn't know why but the idea of Clare being hurt made her feel sick.
Those thoughts were interrupted by her mother scolding her brother.
"Benedict, are you not a little older to play with your food?".
"I am doing art mother."
"Your art looks like playing with food." Anthony said.
Benedict took a deep breath.
"I am not doing this for you."
Eloise looked at her brother's plate trying to figure out what he was doing.
"Is that a cat?" She asked.
"It is a dog." Benedict replied. "I need to practice."
In that moment Colin stood up with the clear intention of leaving their home and not two seconds later Eloise and Benedict stood up as well.
"Where are you going?" Both asked at the same time.
"I am obviously going to the Featherington house." Colin answered. "Someone like Miss Devlin must have a ton of suitors so I can not lose my chance."
"Good, I am going with you, I have similar business too, but first we must stop at the candy store." Benedict said.
All of this happened while Eloise just stayed there helpless since there was no way she could set foot at that place, but she wanted to see Clare again, she did not know why but she wanted to.
And in that instant an amazing idea crossed her mind.
"Benedict! Colin! wait…"
It had been one hour since the suitors started coming, and everyone was bored already. In one corner there was James and Michelle sitting with a deck of naipes, he was trying to guess the card she had pulled out, without realizing she never put back the card into the deck.
Erin was sitting on the other corner doing her best effort to read Romeo and Juliette, however that effort was divided between talking how much she loved that story and how romantic it was, complaining about how impossible it was to understand a single word and asking every five minutes "Are you sure you don't have a magazine?"
Clare was sitting next to Erin, looking around at every corner, she seemed paranoid, apparently knowing about Lady Whistledown did not sit well with her, and the presence of the other gentlemen did not make it better.
And then there was that young gentleman standing there with a bouquet of flowers in his hand looking at Orla who had fallen asleep upside down, with her head near the ground and her feet floating in the air.
Lady Feathering entered the room in that moment horrified by Orla's behavior. She immediately woke her up.
"What do you think you are doing? This behavior is unacceptable in a proper Lady."
"I couldn't help it, their voices make me sleepy." Orla replied.
"Now you listen to me young lady, you will sit down properly and you will listen to this gentleman and you will take his words seriously. Do I make myself clear?"
"Aye." She said with sadness.
Colin was standing in front of the Featherington house with Benedict. He was quite nervous, he wished to be like Miss Devlin, she was so calm and collected, maybe that was the reason they would make such a good couple, she would be the calm in the middle of the storm.
"So are we going in? Or we will just stand in here watching this house from the outside like creeps? " Benedict asked.
"Are you not nervous?"
"No really, I feel like I can not wait to see her again."
"I feel the same but I worry she may not like me back."
"Nonsense, I am sure Pen… Miss Devlin will be delighted to see you."
"What is that supposed to…"
He could not finish that sentence because in that instant a man came out of the house with his coat on fire.
"HELP!!!, SOMEBODY HELP!!! SHE IS INSANE!!!!"
Colin looked in horror at that man disappearing then looked back at Benedict expecting to see the same emotion in his brother's face, but instead he found him with a dreamy smile.
"That must have been Miss Orla."
He looked at his brother with horror and disbelief.
"Why did you have to set that poor man on fire?!!!" Lady Featherington asked, horrified.
"You told me to take his words seriously, and he said he had a burning passion." Orla answered.
At that moment Colin and Benedict Bridgerton entered the room, Lady Featherington looked at them with a mix of confusion and hope.
"Misters Bridgerton, are you here to see the diamond?"
"Actually I came here to see Miss Devlin." Colin replied.
He then walked towards Clare and gave her a bouquet of flowers. Right in front of Penelope, while she felt her heart breaking once more. Yet deep down a little part of her was amused by the reaction of Clare who seemed more confused than pleased.
"I am really glad to see you again, Miss Devlin." Colin said.
"Me too." Clare replied. "How is your sister?"
"I suppose you are asking about Eloise, she is doing fine, she is also looking forward to seeing you again."
The face of Clare was enlightened by a big smile.
"I'm glad, I want to see her again too, I like her a lot."
"I am happy to hear that."
At the other side of the room, Penelope could hear Michelle whispering to her cousin.
"How long do you think it's gonna take him to realize she's gay?"
"One week." He whispered.
"I say two." She replied.
That confused Penelope since Clare did not seem such a joyful person, not to mention, why did they act as if having that emotion was a secret?
Meanwhile Benedict approached Orla.
"Is good to see you again Orla. I brought you this." He gave her a box wrapped as a gift, and as Orla took off the envelope, he continued. "Since last night at the ball you were so kind as to give me one of your candy, I thought it would only be fair that I return the favor."
The box was full of different kinds of chocolate, the best in London. Orla seemed moved to tears.
"Are you an Angel?" She asked.
"I think of the two of us, you are the one who is closer to being an angel."
They looked at each other with a soft smile.
"Anyway you must be so bored of being here all day long, have you seen the park yet?"
"We haven't," Orla answered. "Clare's aunt won't let us go cause we'll embarrass her."
Lady Featherington laughed hysterically.
"Oh dear Orla, always making jokes, is she not funny?"
"Colin and I actually came here to invite all to a picnic with our family."
It did not take much effort to convince Lady Featherington to let them go, and in a few minutes everyone was gone, everyone but Penelope, she knew she was not wanted there, not by Eloise and certainly not by Colin. It was fine, she had made her peace with it, she did not need them, she did not need anyone. She was Lady Whistledown, and Lady Whistledown suffers for no one.
When they arrived at the park, one of Lady Featherington's guests put herself between Orla and Benedict.
"Hello, you are Benedict right?"
"That is correct Miss…" He replied confused.
"Erin, Erin Quinn, I'm Orla's cousin."
"It is a pleasure to meet Miss Quinn."
"Yeah, yeah, save that for later, you see, since Orla's mother is not around, she is my responsibility, actually she is my responsibility even when her mother is around, but that's not the point, I'm here to ask you, what are your intentions with Orla?"
"I can assure you, my intentions are honorable, I only wish to know her better."
"Know her better? Is that how you English call it?"
"I am sorry, I do not understand what you mean."
"I know how you English work, you say you want friendship, but two years later you'll be confessing your undying love, and then you two will promise to wait for each other. You don't deceive me, and I won't let you take advantage of Orla."
"I would never do that." Benedict said horrified.
"Of course you won't, because I'll be watching you."
She raised her hand and with her index and middle finger she pointed at her eyes and then at Benedict, and when she was done, she walked away taking Orla with her.
Then Benedict felt a hand on his shoulder, it was the only male guest.
"Good luck." He said to him before following Orla and Erin while mumbling. "Undying love, I wasn't that dramatic."
Colin and Clare walked in front of the group, when they met with his family, the first one to receive them was Eloise who walked towards them in a huge smirk, it had been a while since the last time he saw his sister showing so much enthusiasm.
"Clare, what a wonderful coincidence, I did not expect to see you here."
"But," Benedict started to say. "You are the one who suggested the picnic…"
"Be quiet, Benedict." Their sister interrupted.
"I was looking forward to seeing you again." Clare said.
Eloise looked at her with excitement.
"Me too, we did not finish our chat, I actually wanted to ask you to visit me and teach me one of those songs from that female musicians group we talked about, I have a piano."
"I'd love to, but I don't play the piano."
"That is fine, You will do the signing and I will play the piano, or I could teach you."
"That sounds great."
Then Eloise took Clare's hand and both walked away from Colin, before he could stop them the rest of his family came to greet their guest. The introductions were made and they all walked at the tent that was installed for the occasion, leaving Colin standing alone with Benedict.
"It seems like our companies have been stolen from us, nothing like a relative to ruin your plans." Benedict said.
"Indeed." Colin agreed.
They all sat at a long table, while the children played in the field one of those English games that Erin didn't understand.
There was an awkward silence that lasted like a whole minute, until the duke spoke to Michelle.
"You seem familiar, have we met?"
"No, you're mistaken, I've never seen you in my entire life." She replied quickly.
Lady Bridgerton took it as a chance to get to know her guest.
"So, Miss McCool, tell us about it."
Orla had like two sandwiches stuck in her mouth at that moment, so she had to swallow quickly.
"Well Erin and I live with our ma's, her da and grandpa Joe."
"And my sister Anna." Erin added.
"Oh yeah, I always forget about her, she doesn't do much."
"She's a baby Orla."
"And what about your father?" Lady Bridgerton asked.
"We don't talk about Orla's father." Erin answered before Orla.
There was another awkward silence, that was broken this time by Eloise.
"What about you Clare? What can you tell us about your family?"
"There's not much to say, it just my ma, my da and me."
The conversation started again, everyone was talking, making and answering questions, Clare was delighted when Eloise explained to her that her parents name their children in alphabetical order, it reminded her of a librarian, Colin commented that he would be happy to include her in that tradition.
Erin pitied him.
Then the oldest Bridgerton sibling, Anthony? Made the comment that he would probably regret for the rest of his life.
"So how are finding England so far, it must be quite different from Ireland, but I, personally, think this is the greatest place in the whole world."
"Is that what you say to yourselves everytime you invade a country?" Michelle asked. "Well I have some news for you, many countries don't agree with you, in fact we would very much like you to stay out of our business. English prick."
Next to him, Anthony's wife, a beautiful lady with a 5 or5 6 months baby bump, agreed with Michelle.
"Tell me about it."
Anthony looked at her, indignant.
"Anthony please, you are embarrassing me in front of the Irish."
Kate and Michelle shared a smile, for them that was the beginning of a beautiful friendship, for Anthony it was the beginning of a nightmare.
They didn't return home until it was quite dark. Penelope went to receive them, it seemed they had a good time, they said goodbye to their hosts and got inside the house, Benedict left too, apparently he had found a new project inspired by Orla, leaving Colin and Penelope alone.
She was about to close the door when he stopped her.
"May I have a word with you? Penelope."
She didn't allow herself to be hopeful, knowing Colin would most likely ask her about Clare, Penelope decided that if that was his motivation she would walk away, she would no longer be his tool.
"What happened to us?" He asked.
She did not expect that.
"What do you mean?"
"How is it possible that we were so close while we were in different countries, and now we are so distant living across the street? Since you and Eloise fought, you did not just stop talking to her, but also with me. I always thought that you were my friend independently from Eloise, and it is hurtful to be proven wrong."
Penelope could not believe him.
"I am sorry mister Bridgerton I did not want to mortify you with people believing there could be something between us."
"What are you talking about?"
"I heard that conversation you had in my mother's ball, when you were asked if you were courting me, I heard how you denied it."
"Why did it upset you?, is not like you feel anything like that for me."
"It does not matter how I feel about you. It was the way you denied it, as if I am a hideous repulsive creature unworthy of being loved, as If the idea of loving me was something to be ashamed of."
"Penelope, you know I do not think that of you."
"Well, something is true, I do not deserve your love, I deserve so much better, I deserve to be loved by someone who thinks of me as his greatest pride, not his greatest shame, I really hope you treat Clare better."
Before he could answer she closed the door, and practically ran into her room. Once she was in there she took a moment to breathe again, she had finally said everything she felt to Colin, she was heartbroken, but at same time, she was free.
"That felt good." she admitted.
She was so lost in those thoughts and feelings that it took her a minute to notice Erin sitting on her bed.
"Hello Lady Whistledown."
Chapter 5: New possibilities
Penelope's first reaction was to laugh.
"Me? Lady Whistledown? Erin, you certainly have read too many romance novels. The idea of me being Lady Whistledown is just absurd. I mean I really hope you did not tell anyone, because they would think you are crazy, such a hilarious joke."
Erin just stood there waiting for her to be done talking, with an emotionless expression, she did not flinch, and Penelope understood that there was nothing she could say to make her change her mind. She knew.
"What gave it away?" Penelope asked.
Erin pulled the most recent edition of Lady Whistledown and read it out loud.
"There is not much that I can say about Miss Clare Devlin, other than she is the relative of the Featheringtons, how? No one is sure, but her resemblance with the youngest, Penelope, is all the proof they need, not that I can see it."
Then she looked at Penelope.
"The only people who don't see how much you and Clare look alike are you and Clare, and obviously Clare didn't write this."
"I do not usually make this kind of mistake."
"Also, this Bridgerton girl, what was her name? Elisa?"
"That one, she told Clare not to trust you, so that added to my suspicion, and in the picnic they mentioned Lady Whistledown wrote something scandalous about… I'm flaking out, What was her name again?"
"Eloise, I'll have to write that down later. Anyway that confirmed my suspicions, and here we are, honestly the fact that I'm the only one who has connected all the dots astonishes me."
"Are you going to tell everyone?"
"It's not my secret to tell."
"Are you mad?"
"Not really, I kinda like it, it makes me feel like a celebrity."
"Then what are you doing here?"
Erin did not answer immediately, she took a moment to consider her words.
"Well, first off I wanted to say that I'm right, because that's always a good feeling, and second… I think I need your help."
"My help? How?"
"The other Bridgerton, Benedict, I need to know his dirty secrets."
"Is this because he is interested in Orla? Are you not overreacting? As far as I know he is an acceptable gentleman, why would you not want him to marry your cousin?"
"Okey, Orla is too young to get married, but that's besides the point, as you have noticed, Orla is… peculiar to say the least, and people sometimes approached her with bad intentions, and look if this Benedict is a decent fella I'll step aside, all I want is to protect Orla."
That was the moment Penelope started to respect Erin even appreciate her.
"I will do my best."
She was about to leave the room but then she seemed to remember something.
"And another thing, as I said I don't mind you writing about me, and I don't think Michelle, Orla or James care either, but please keep Clare out of it, she doesn't deal well with you know… being observed."
"I can promise to write the least possible, but there are some things I can not keep in silence, for example when Colin proposes."
She surprised herself with the ease in her voice when she said those words, it was probably because she had finally made peace with the idea that Colin would never be hers, although she could still feel the heartache.
Erin looked at her confused, as if she had spoken in a different language.
"Propose?" Erin said. "You think Clare is going to marry Colin?"
"Of course, why would she not? He might be the third son, but he is still an excellent option, he is kind gentle and handsome, any girl would be happy to have him as a husband." She cleared her throat trying to hide her feelings. "He would be an appropriate match."
Erin had the expression of someone who is trying to resolve a complicated math problem, then out of nowhere she started to laugh out loud.
"Clare marrying a boy,... Now that's hilarious…sure that's gonna… good one Penelope…marrying a boy… I can't… I can't."
She left the room still laughing, leaving Penelope with more questions than answers.
Eloise was sitting on the swing in the backyard of her house smoking a cigarette, thinking about how much her own feelings confused her, there was something she felt about Clare that she could not put in words.
Her whole life she felt like her family, Penelope, Theo, and the rest of the world were different sets of puzzles and she was a spare piece that did not fit with either.
There was always something that made her an outsider, with society it was her ideas about what a woman should be, even with her family and in their best times Penelope, they would often treat her with certain condescending, like deep down they expected someday Eloise would grow out of it. She thought that with Theo she had found someone who truly accepted her just like she was, but she was making a fool of herself, in the end, she was nothing but a rich girl playing to be a revolutionary in Theo's eyes.
But, with Clare, it was so different, she had her same dreams and she was not afraid to say it out loud, in fact she was not afraid to say anything out loud, she was so honest, Eloise had never known someone whose thoughts and emotions were so clearly written on her face. And every time Clare saw Eloise, the young Bridgerton felt like a normal person, like there was nothing she needed to change about herself, like she was whole.
"Have one to spare?" A voice behind her said. Benedict.
Her brother sat in the swing next to her while taking the cigarette she offered him.
"I hope you know, Colin is not happy with you."
"Well that is a surprise." Eloise replied with sarcasm.
"However, if I am being honest with you, I think you should not have stolen the company of Miss Devlin from our brother."
"I am quite sure if Miss Devlin did not want my company she would have shown it."
"Maybe she was too polite or shy to say so."
"Why do you insist so much on this?"
"I suppose I do it because I know Colin's pain?"
"Oh right, now I remember, Miss McCool was stolen from you by her cousin, What was her name? Miss Erica Quinn?"
"Right, I must say Benedict, it really surprised me that you would go after the diamond, you have never been interested in what the rest of the gentlemen want before."
"All those gentlemen are interested in Orla just because the queen told them to, but I spoke to her before she was declared the diamond, and I think we had… a connection."
"A connection?" Eloise tried really hard to not sound teasing.
"Well I can not call it love, we just met, but I do not know how to explain it."
Eloise remained silent waiting for him to find the right words.
"Most of the members of high society consider me too sensitive," He continued. "That is the nice way to say that I am the useless brother of the Viscount who just wastes time and money on childish whims. And for most of the artists I have known I am just a rich boy who plays with paint. It is like I walk between two worlds without belonging to either. Miss Orla is the first person who looks at me, and just sees me, all of me."
Neither said a word in the next five minutes, they just stayed in silence while they finished their cigarettes.
"I know that what I said does not make sense to you," Benedict said after the pause. "But that is how I feel."
"It makes a lot of sense to me, trust me."
Benedict smiled at her and gave her a little kiss on the forehead before he walked back home.
When Eloise was alone again, she felt even more confused, the way her brother described his feelings for Miss McCool was too similar to the way Eloise herself felt about Clare, but it did not make any sense. They were two girls after all.
It was a busy morning, the Featherington house had received an invitation from the queen, she wanted to see how things were going for her diamond, or at least that was what her note said, but it was most likely she wanted to reclaim her payment.
Lady Featherington was walking around around the house completely turned into a bunch of nerves.
"Get the girls ready." She yelled at the housekeeper "Is the carriage clean? Oh god, where are all the corsets? They could not just disappear."
At that point everyone looked at Michelle.
"They are fucking useless." She justified herself.
Nobody contradicted her.
"What did you do to those corsets Michelle?" James asked.
"Nothing you can prove." Orla replied instead of Michelle.
"You dragged Orla into this?" Erin asked.
"It was her idea," Michelle Replied. "Well, getting rid of them was my idea, but it was her idea how."
"Girls!" Clare interrupted them, she looked extremely nervous, like she was about to have a panic attack. "Can't we focus? We are about to meet the queen."
"We already met her, so what's the big deal?" Michelle replied.
"This time is gonna be just us, I've already embarrassed myself on my debut, I don't want it to happen again."
"I'm sorry that you embarrassed yourself Clare, I guess not everyone gets to do it right." Erin said.
"All of you embarrassed yourselves." James said.
Before anyone could not so kindly ask him what he was talking about, Lady Featherington got into the room screaming hysterically.
"What do you think you are doing just sitting there?!!! Get up, we are going to see the queen."
While they were leaving the room they could hear her saying in a whisper.
"I would leash them if I could."
It was a calm morning at the London residence of the duke and duchess of Hastings, Daphne was feeding Augie, he was one year and a half and each day she loved him more, especially in those mornings when he had just woken up and was making his little sleepy smile.
"He is starting to mumble, I am sure he will be speaking in no time, and I bet his first word is going to be mommy." Daphne said.
"Hum." That was the only answer that came out of Simon.
That worried her, usually her husband was more enthusiastic in the morning, especially when the subject of conversation was their son.
"Is everything alright my lord?" She asked.
She repeated the question.
"Yes," He answered, but then he doubted. "No, I do not know."
"What is the matter?"
"I am not sure, last night I saw something, but I do not know what it was, or if it was even real, or a nightmare."
"Simon, you are scaring me, please tell me what is going on?"
Simon remained silent for a moment trying to find the right words.
"I could not sleep last night, so I went outside to have a walk, while I did it, I saw smoke in the forest, at first I thought there was a fire, but as I got closer I noticed it was a bonfire, and next to the bonfire there were two ladies, it was dark so I could not see their faces, but one of them was laughing like a maniac, and the other one was dancing around the flames. It ashamed me to say that instead of confronting them, I ran back home."
Daphne held his hand.
"You did the right thing, those ladies, they sound like witches to me."
"I do not usually believe in that sort of thing, but if you had seen what I saw, there is not other explanation."
The two looked at each other worried, and wondering.
Has evil come to London?
If there was a word to describe the royal palace that would have been majestic, it was huge with, incontable paintings and statues among other expensive things.
The queen was sitting on her throne in the middle of the room.
"It is nice to see you again, my dear diamond." She said as soon as she saw them enter the room.
As soon as they were in front of the queen Clare, Orla and Erin got in a full kneeling position and started to worship the queen as if she was a goddess.
"God save the queen." They kept repeating.
Clare did it out of nervousness, Erin did it for her love for drama, and Orla did it because Clare and Erin were doing it.
Meanwhile Michelle and James were avoiding looking at them, in an unsuccessful attempt to pretend they didn't know them.
"Stand up, this is not how you greet the queen." Lady Featherington scolded them.
"Actually, I kind of like it." The queen said. "I will probably make my subjects greet me like this in the near future."
With that being said Lady Featherington and Prudence immediately went to the ground imitating the girls.
"Mother, I do not think she was serious." Penelope said embarrassed.
"Enough for that." The queen interrupted. "Come on, let us go to the garden to take the tea."
She stood up and left the room, while everyone went behind her, except for Michelle, she started to walk backwards, James was the only one who noticed her.
"Where are you going?" He asked.
"I want to see where she keeps her jewelry." Michelle replied.
"Well, if she is so rich I don't think she'll notice one or two items are missing."
"What? Michelle you can't steal from the queen."
"She's an English queen, I don't think that counts as queen."
"It counts enough to have you beheaded."
"Don't be such a cry baby, James."
She then walked away.
"Michelle!" James called her. "Don't do this!"
Then he followed her at the queen's chambers.
The royal garden was a little forest in the backyard of the castle, there were so many different types of flowers, and plants, not to mention the exotic animals that walked around.
They were sitting in the middle, at the table there were different kinds of tea, cake, chocolate and candies, and of course a chocolate fountain, it was Orla's dream come true.
She put on her mouth anything she could grab, meanwhile Erin was having a little conversation with the queen.
"I'm just asking out of curiosity, is there any chance there could be I don't know, maybe two diamonds."
"Of course not." The queen answered. "If I declare more than one diamond, the title would lose its value."
"Alright fair, but diamonds are not the only gemstone around, how about a ruby, or a sapphire, I mean imagine the possibilities."
"Again, there will only be one diamond."
"Erin," Clare whispered in her ear. "Stop annoying the queen, do you want to be thrown in a dungeon?"
Before Erin could answer, a guardian appeared with Michelle and James by his side.
"I apologize for interrupting your majesty, but I caught these two in your chambers."
The queen looked at them.
"Is that my jewelry?"
Michelle and James were both wearing a tiara in their heads, had a lot of expensive collars in their necks and a ring in every finger.
"No." Both replied.
"We were already wearing this when we came here."
The queen was skeptical.
"Oh really?, so that young man came here wearing a tiara."
"It highlights my eyes." James said with shyness.
Behind the queen they could see Erin mouthing 'seriously?', while Clare and Lady Featherington seemed to be about to have a heart attack.
"Very well then." The queen said after a long pause. She didn't seem to believe them. "Sit down."
Once they were at the tea table the queen focused her attention on Orla.
"Now tell me, Miss McCool, are you enjoying the perks of being the Diamond?"
"No yet, the suitors won't stop coming, so I haven't found what are the perks you were talking about."
"The suitors are the perks."
"Why would I want that?" Orla asked in what seemed to be a contest to see who could cause more damage to Clare's and Lady Featherington's mental health.
"I must say, you disappoint me, Miss McCool." The queen said in a serious tone.
"She means she is still too young to think of marriage." Erin tried to save Orla.
"And who is talking about marriage?, honestly, my dear I thought someone like you would see the possibilities."
"I'm listening." Orla said.
"If you want them to bring you chocolate, they will bring you chocolate, if you want flowers, they will bring you flowers, If you want them to jump, they will jump. You see, most of men have a innate desire to prove themselves superior than the rest, and marrying the diamond is another proof of that so called superiority, therefore they will do anything you ask them to get your hand in marriage, but here is the best part, you do not even have to give them that, none of will ask you anything in return."
She then smiled complicity at Orla.
"Do you not see? I gave you an army of slaves."
Chapter 6: The Bridgertons ball
The Bridgertons were hosting the second ball of the season, in the Featherington house everything was a mess as usual, however the new guest had learned to ignore Lady Featherington while she walked around the house scolding everything that moved, most of them were in the living room waiting for her to announce they were late, without acknowledging she was the cause of the delay.
Meanwhile Erin was hanging with Penelope in her bedroom, trying to decide their course of action.
"Now tell me, how do you do it? Do you have spies? Do you blackmail people?"
"I do not do anything like that, the information just comes to me, I just have to stand in a corner very quietly."
"So Orla was right, you are psychic."
Penelope looked at her with a bit of annoyance.
"I am not, tho if I am being honest, if I have a special ability that would be invisibility."
Erin looked at her with confusion in her face.
"I do not mean that I can literally turn invisible." Penelope cleared. "What I mean is that usually I am considered… Unimportant, I am not particularly handsome or particularly ugly, I do not have any suitors and I do not belong to a prestigious family, so nobody really expects anything from me, therefore they just ignore me."
"That sounds terrible." Erin said. "And they are wrong, you are pretty cool."
Penelope smiled softly.
"Thank you, but as awful as it sounds, it does have its perks, one of them is that since nobody notices me they often say things that they consider secret when I am around, that's how I get my information."
"That is brilliant." Erin admitted. "Alright then, I'll help you."
Penelope's smile disappeared from her face.
"I'll stand next to you all night long, we are going to be invisible together."
Penelope could not help being frightened, something told her that Erin was not the invisible kind of girl.
At the Bridgerton house everyone was ready for the ball just waiting for the guest to arrive, and for the first time in her life Eloise was looking forward to being in it, she knew Clare was going to be there, and she could not wait to see her again.
At the other side of the room Benedict and Colin seemed just as eager as her to see the Irish guest.
"Alright everybody, I expect everyone to be on their best behavior." Her mother called for their attention. "Last season was not the best for us," Elose wondered if she was talking about Anthony's and Kate's scandalous love story or her meetings with radicals. Maybe both. "So I do not want any controversy coming from us this season."
"Before the ball starts, I have a request." Colin said. "Eloise, I want you to stay away from Miss Devlin, mother do not let her approach her."
"You heard me, last time you two met I could barely speak with her, because you would not leave her side."
"Are you not a little bit childish for asking our mother to keep me away from Miss Devlin?"
"He is childish." Her mother agreed. "But he is also right."
"Eloise you are getting in the way of your brother's happiness, as his sister is your duty to support him, not to be an obstacle."
"I am not an obstacle, she is my friend."
"Well right now, the relationship your brother is interested in is the priority, you will have plenty of time to be her friend once she marries Colin."
Eloise felt sick, until that moment the idea of Clare marrying Colin did not felt like a real thing, but now that she could see her entire family plotting to make it happen she could not help but imagine Clare Devlin in a white dress walking down aisle towards Colin, looking at him with loving eyes.
She would have rather set all her books on fire.
Lady Danbury approached Lady Bridgerton as soon as she arrived at the ball, she was the only one who was not giving her those annoying pity eyes for what happened in her own ball.
Sure the fire was not great, but she had witnessed plenty of balls that had gone far worse without any fire involved, plus it was not like she had lost everything due the fire. There were only a few curtains, but people just loved drama.
No that she could critique them, she also lived for the drama.
"Lady Danbury!" Violet greeted her. "I am so glad you could come."
"Of course my dear, I would not miss a ball hosted by the Bridgertons for anything in the world, I must say, is flawless."
"I am just relieved that we have more guests than last year."
"Do not worry I am pretty sure the worst is behind us, by the way, I heard Benedict is after the diamond, it seems your family intends to collect as many diamonds as possible."
Lady Bridgerton laughed.
"Would that not be nice."
"And speaking of the diamond…"
"Oh, she is here, and she is an… interesting young lady."
"I do not doubt it, but seriously, What is she doing?
At the other side of the ball room there was the diamond, Orla McCool, accompanied by her suitors, in the middle of the dance floor, they were doing a rather strange activities with a box, those consisted on stepping up the box, stepping down, walking around, then stepping up again one leg, among other different movements. It did not seem like anything Lady Danbury had seen before.
"Oh that." Violet replied. "To my understanding that is a traditional Irish dance called…aerobics."
"Well… that is… something."
She could not find a better word to describe it.
On the dance floor all the diamond's suitors were trying to follow the movements Orla was teaching them, they were not doing it great, half of them kept crushing with the person who was next to them, and the other half were just exhausted, that kind of dance was more tiresome than it looked.
There was just one suitor who genuinely enjoyed doing the aerobics, Benedict, he was doing all the movements perfectly and even having a completely normal conversation while doing the choreography.
"This dance is so much fun, I could have never imagined all the different movements you can do with a box, and you my dear Orla move with such grace."
"Thank you, my instructor always said I could do it professionally, I even made a routine for a talent contest in school."
"You definitely must have won it."
"Nah, Jenny Joyce won, Erin says it was rigged cause she was also the only judge, but I think her performance was solid, I'd have chosen her as the winner too."
"It is a shame you did not win tho."
"It's alright, my friends liked it so much that they stepped up, and joined me."
"Perhaps, next time I could join you."
"I don't think you can, cause we don't go to the same school."
Michelle was in a corner, bored, she had already drunk her third glass of wine, and it did not improve anything, it didn't have enough alcohol, next to her she could hear the hot duke talking to a bunch of people.
"And the other one was laughing in such a devilish way, I could swear it came from hell."
Everyone was listening in silence with horror in their faces, meanwhile Michelle was thinking they were a bunch of dicks, getting scared just for two girls in the forest.
However she couldn't help to notice that the story took place the same night and at the same forest she and Orla had gotten rid of the corsets, apparently they weren't the only girls burning corsets that night.
"Miss Mallon." She heard a voice calling her, it was Kate Bridgerton.
"Hey." She happily greeted her.
Before they could say anything else, a young man approached them with two glasses of wine.
"I brought you another glass as you asked." He told Michelle.
"What did I say about talking?"
"Do not do it unless you get to make a believable accent from anywhere else but England."
"And what are you doing?"
"I am sorry."
"Who is this young gentleman?" Kate asked.
"His name is Edmund, he came to see me yesterday, he's a suitor. I was going to reject him, but then I remembered the advice the queen gave to Orla, and I realized I could use a servant."
"That is a smart way to use them."
"I used to have James for that, but lately he has been rebelling against my superiority. I'm telling you, these wee English are not reliable."
"I could not agree more, sometimes I just look at them and… Well it is pure hatred."
"I am standing right next to you." Anthony said. Michelle didn't even notice him until that moment.
"Oh my Lord, you know I love you." Kate said.
"I do not feel loved right now."
"Jesus Christ, you are such a cry baby." Michelle replied, annoyed.
"Indeed he is, and this is just the tip of the iceberg." Kate agreed.
"You two are horrible people."
James was staring at the dance floor in the distance with a glass of a red liquid he still hadn't dared to taste, he couldn't believe Orla actually was making her suitors do aerobics, it felt so weird to see all of those people doing that in those clothes.
Part of him wanted to laugh.
Those thoughts were interrupted by Lady Bridgerton who approached him, she was accompanied by the girl whom Clare had a crush on, she seemed upset.
"Mister Maguire, it is so good to see you here, I hope you are having a good time."
"I am, thank you."
"This is my daughter Eloise, you met her at our picnic, but I am afraid you did not get the chance to talk, so I think this would be a good chance for you to get to know each other. I will leave you to it."
"I don't understand, what's happening?" James asked while he finally dared to taste his glasses.
"My mother is determined to get us married." Eloise replied.
James spilled his drink, he wasn't sure if it was due the realization it was wine, or for the answer Eloise gave to him.
"What? But I don't want to get married, don't get me wrong, you seem nice, but I…"
"Calm yourself, I do not want to marry you either."
"Oh, Thank God… I'm sorry, I didn't mean…"
"I know what you mean."
"It's just, you seem upset."
Eloise took a deep breath.
"I am upset, but I am not upset with you."
She looked away, and James stood next to her, to follow her gaze.
She was looking at her brother who was chatting with Clare, actually Colin was the only one talking while Clare was just smiling politely.
"It must be hard to fancy the same girl your brother is interested in."
Eloise looked confused.
"What do you mean by that?" She asked
"You said that as if I am in love with her, but I am not, we are girls, that is not possible… right?"
James wanted to kick himself, this was definitely not the time and place to talk about two girls in love, sure the 90s wasn't great either but at least there they wouldn't be burned alive for that… then he started to wonder if they still did the burning people alive thing at that time period, he really wished he had paid more attention in history class.
"I am talking to you, do not remain in silence." Eloise interrupted those thoughts.
He started to mumble trying to find the right words, right then Eloise seemed pretty upset and reminded him of Michelle, something that made him feel intimidated.
"It's not my place to tell you how you feel." He finally said.
Eloise looked at him annoyed, she opened her mouth several times, trying to find something she could use to contradict him, after a few seconds she gave up.
"This is the first time in my whole life that I have wanted to hit someone for being such a good guy."
James smiled shyly.
"I am just so confused." Eloise continued. "I was friends with Penelope for so many years but what I feel for Clare does not resemble any feeling of friendship I ever had with her, if I have to compare it with something I would say is more alike to what I felt for The…"
She shut her mouth suddenly.
"I need to take some breath."
She then walked away from him, James was about to follow her, but at that moment he noticed Penelope making an odd gesture with her eyes, looking at him and then back at Erin.
It was official, Erin was killing lady Whistledown.
At the beginning she stood in silence next to Penelope, and for a second the red haired one thought she may have misjudged her, but then they heard a servant telling a rather funny story to another servant, and when he delivered the punchline Erin laughed loudly, she tried to cover ir saying.
"Oh Penelope, that was so funny."
But clearly no one believed her.
Then she got into a fight with Cressida Cowper, to be fair Cressida started, she saw them together and then approached both saying.
"Well at least we know who is not getting married this season." Which Penelope found absurd and ironic, considering it was also her third season and she was still single.
But Erin could not let it go, she mocked her hair ornament, comparing it to a dead bird in her head, and Penelope could not help but admit she was not wrong, but then Cressida called her a vulgar ignorant fenian.
That is when Erin said this:
"I will destroy you."
"And how could a pitiful creature like you could destroy me?"
"I happen to be very good friends with lady Whistledown, and if I want to I could convince her to write horrible things about you."
Penelope dragged her away, trying to convince Cressida that she was teasing.
And for the rest of the night she was just starting there complaining about everything and making suggestions about what she should write in her next number.
"Again Erin, I can not write lies about people just because you do not like them, Lady Whistledown would not have gotten this far if I would have written lies."
"Nobody says it is a lie, maybe it's true but we just don't know it yet."
Penelope took a deep breath begging God to give her patience.
Then she noticed James, he was talking to Eloise, Penelope did not have time to think how that made her feel cause Eloise left the room in what seemed to be a hurry.
Penelope took her chance to try to call for James' attention.
"Is everything alright?" He asked.
"James you came at the right time, poor Erin is so bored, maybe you take her to the dance floor."
"I don't want to do aerobics." Erin contradicted her.
"Yeah, I don't really like to do that either." James agreed.
"Oh well, there are so many other things you could do on the dance floor."
Then Penelope gave James a look that could only be translated to 'get her away from me.'
Fortunately James understood the message.
"You know? She's right, we could dance whatever we want."
"We've already embarrassed ourselves in the last ball."
"Nobody is going to notice us with the whole aerobics thing." Then he got closer to her. "And I really, really want to dance with you tonight."
There was something in the way he looked at her, and in the way he said those words that made them realize he actually meant it.
Erin looked away blushing trying to hide a smile.
"Alright fine, one more embarrassment won't kill us."
He took her hand and they went to the dance floor, where they had another odd dance, one of his hands was on her hips, one of her hands was on his shoulder, their other hands her holding, and they just danced in circles. Looking at each other.
Penelope just stared at them feeling a bit jealous, she wanted to look and be looked at like that, but no matter how hard she tried it just never seemed to happen.
"Penelope." She heard a familiar voice, she hated how easily she could recognize that voice above the crowd. Colin.
"Mister Bridgerton, thank you for having me at your party."
"We need to talk."
"I do not think there is anything else to talk about sir."
"I do, please."
She despised her own weakness.
"Listen." He continued. "I do not recall ever talking about you in the manner you said, however I know you, and I know you are not a liar, what I try to say is that I am sorry, and you must know I do not believe you are unlovable, quite the opposite. So please do not deprive me of your friendship."
Penelope could not breathe, she was such a weak creature, just a few pretty words, and she felt her heart explode with love, but she could not let herself to have hope, she could not trust her heart on him so easily again.
She could however use this moment to accomplish her main goal.
"I suppose we could try again."
The night was going great. Clare was such a lovely girl, she showed so much interest to know about him, about his life, the things that made him happy, the things that made him sad, and he wanted to share everything with her.
"And that is how I ended up in Paris."
"That's so interesting, but I'm getting a little thirsty, can you bring me a glass of water?"
He was on his way to accomplish his beloved wish when he noticed Penelope, she was alone, lately she was always alone, and she was looking at Clare's friends, Erin and James, they were dancing, it made him wonder if they were secretly engagement, nevertheless, looking at Penelope looking at them, made him feel so sorry and so guilty to ever made her think she was not worthy of love.
And truth to be told he missed her, she was such a good friend also if he was going to marry Clare they would be family, he needed to apologize.
He talked as honestly as he could, and fortunately she seemed to be open to be friends again.
"I suppose we could try again."
They remained a moment in silence without knowing what to say, until she looked again at the dance floor.
"It is quite a peculiar dance, this aerobics." She said.
"Benedict seems really excited about the diamond."
"He really is."
"Has he ever been shown this kind of interest before?"
"Not that I am aware of."
"I heard he left art school, why?"
Next twenty minutes of their conversation were focused on Benedict. Penelope wanted to know everything, his dreams, his aspirations, how many women he had been involved with before, whether he could be considered a serious suitor or just liked to play the field.
When Colin was done telling Penelope his brother's life story, she politely said goodbye and walked away, leaving Colin more confused than ever.
He started to wonder where all that sudden interest in his brother came from, then it hit him, she staring at the dance floor, her anger towards him, it all made sense. Penelope was in love… with Benedict.
The whole idea seemed so wrong, Penelope and Benedict. He loved his brother, he really did, but he was just not a good match for Penelope, she deserved so much better.
But did he know?, of course he had to know, Benedict was very perceptive, and yet he dared to come to her house and court another woman in front of her, despicable.
From that night on, Benedict became the worst of men in Colin's eyes.
The night was going terrible, second Clare entered in the Bridgerton s house Colin stuck with her and didn't leave her side, and the worst part was Eloise was ignoring her, Clare couldn't recall doing something that upset her, so why was she being so cold?
So there she was, listening to Colin telling her his whole life story, she had just asked him how he was doing out of politeness, she didn't need to know about his ex's pregnancy with another guy and how she tried tried to make him believe it was his.
"And that's how I ended up in Paris."
"That's so interesting, but I'm getting a little thirsty, can you bring me a glass of water?"
The second he turned his back she ran, she found Michelle talking with Eloise's sister in law, Kate.
She dragged Michelle with her the second she had her near her.
"What the fuck is wrong with you?" Michelle asked.
"You need to get me out of here, Colin won't leave me alone."
"Are you sure you don't want to wait for your crazy aunt's permission? She won't like it if we leave early."
"I don't care, I don't know how English marriage works but I'm afraid if I stay longer Colin is going to claim me as his wife."
"Fine, but we cannot be that obvious, go hide there."
She pointed at a pair of closed doors. "I'll look for you in a few minutes."
Clare looked at her skeptically.
"What are you waiting for? I promise I'll go for you."
"Last time you promised that I ended up alone in a train station with sister Michael."
"That happened ages ago, get over it."
"It was three months ago."
"Alright, is either that or staying here to become Mrs Colin Bridgerton."
Clare hated it to admit it but she really didn't have much of a choice. She went to hide behind the doors only to find Eloise at the other side.
Eloise needed to sort her feelings, she needed to be alone with her thoughts. Her confusion grow every day, she hated to feel that way, but what she hated the must was to be in the same room as Clare and not being able to talk to her, it was torture.
In that second, as if she had invoked her, Clare appeared.
The way her heart beat at the sight of her did not improve her situation.
"What are you doing here?" Eloise asked.
"Oh I was just… I am… I need some air."
She was clearly lying.
"I'm hiding from Colin." She admitted.
Eloise could not help laughing.
"Why are you avoiding me?"
She stopped laughing.
"I was asked to. Well, more like ordered to."
"Because I steal too much of your attention from Colin."
"I am supposed to support my brother to get you to marry him, I am supposed to be happy for you two, for the idea of you two getting married, but I am not."
She walked closer to Clare.
"I am supposed to be happy with having you as a sister, but I am not."
She took her hands.
"I am supposed to share you with him, but I do not want to share you, I want you just for myself."
And just like that, the truth was out, in the second those words came out of her mouth she was terrified that Clare would be horrified and despise her, instead she smiled, and got closer.
"Good, because I want you just for myself too."
Eloise was not sure who initiated it, but before she could process those words, or say anything else, their lips were already touching.