Disclaimer: No copyrights infringement intended. I do not own Twilight saga or any of its awesome characters.
Author's Note: This was my donation piece for the Fandom for LLS cause. This story is set in regency era England. So it is written in British English. Thank you for reading. This is my first attempt at writing anything set in regency period. So I hope you enjoy. :)
My Perfect Gentleman
The smile fades away from my lips as the reality of the situation comes crushing down on me. I am alone. He is not coming.
A choked sob escapes my mouth as my body slides down to the dirt. My feet get caught on the wheel of the carriage my best friend, Rosalie, has lent me. I trip, and for the first time since I have met him, no strong arms are there to stop my fall. So I fall down to my knees.
A gust of wind whips my hair across my face. The delicate bun my mother had put it in has come undone, but I do not feel a thing. The rain beats down on me, hitting my skin like a thousand needles, but I do not feel that either.
I only feel the cold surround me, taking residence in my heart, but I do not try to wrap my arms around myself to ward off the chill. Because I know this chill has nothing to do with the horrible weather. No, it is from the loneliness and dejection I feel, like my heart is trying to tear itself out of my chest, because he is not with me.
Edward! Why are you not here? Why have you not kept your word? I want to scream the words out to him, but I know that would be pointless. Because the truth is he did not give me his word that he would be here today. No, when I had begged him to take me away with him, he had simply smiled and promised that he would be the one my father will give my hand to.
"But you do not know my father. Once his mind is set, no one can change it, not even Mama," I had lamented.
He had just smirked in his completely obnoxious manner and said, "Your father does not know me either, Bella. I do not give up easily."
I want to believe that he has not given up on me, on our love, but in the gray light of the rainy day, I cannot bring my heart to do so. I look forlornly upon the carriage beside me and remember the day our paths had first crossed.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
I was trying to keep myself seated as the carriage rattled down the road. When I had toppled out of my seat and landed on my behind for the fourth time, I dragged myself up and cast an enquiring eye to my aunt, Lady Victoria Wood. "Aunt Victoria, how come you have not been thrown out of your seat? This journey feels like a blasted one right now."
She clucked her tongue before looking up from the book on her lap. "Isabella, ladies do not swear like a mere farmhand. My brother has been trying so hard to teach you to be his son that it seems like you yourself have forgotten that you are, indeed, his daughter. The reason I am taking you with me is that I want you to learn how to be a proper lady before you get married. And proper ladies do not, under any circumstances, use such brash language. Do I make myself clear?" She looked at me with a stern face.
I muttered petulantly, "Papa uses such words all the time, so they cannot be that bad."
She looked heavenward and sighed. "Everything your papa does is not from the scripture, dear. If I was elder to him, I would have taken him to book for the way he treats you."
I was about to argue, because Papa treated me just fine. Maybe he asked me to join him in his study to look over the estate papers with him while Alice, my little sister, got dancing lessons, but I did not begrudge him for that. Because, though dancing looked very enjoyable, my clumsiness would have turned me black and blue with bruises if I tried it. Besides, I loved the riding lessons Papa gave me.
Before I could voice my feelings, however, the carriage came to a stop, and the footman, John, came up to the window. "Lady Wood and Miss Swan," he addressed to both my aunt and me, "It seems a gentleman requires a hand with his horse. He is just ahead of us, standing beside the road, asking for help with the horse."
My aunt seemed irritated at the interruption to our journey but asked in a calm manner, "What does he want? If he is looking to hitch a lift with us, he can forget it. I am not taking complete strangers with us when I have my niece riding with me."
I wanted to roll my eyes at her, but assuming "proper ladies" did not roll their eyes, I restrained myself.
John bowed to my aunt and said, "No, my lady, his horse's saddle broke. He just needs someone to help him re-saddle the beast. His horse is a lively one, you see."
My aunt then waved her hand, silently telling him to help the man out so that we could be on our way soon.
As John walked away, I leaned out of the window, trying to get a glimpse of the horse, and caught sight of the slopes of a set of broad shoulders, a trim waist, and a head full of bronze-coloured hair. His hair was waving in the air, looking wild, and I was intrigued by those locks when suddenly, the head full of hair turned, piercing me with intense green eyes.
I felt myself getting mesmerized by the face, too beautiful to belong to a creature from this world. But then the spell broke and the perfectly curved eyebrows sank down into a frown. The man looked away from me and towards the great black horse standing beside him.
I felt my aunt tug on my hand. "Isabella, you are a lady, not a dog. Do not hang your head out of the window like that, please." With one last look at the tall figure of the man, I turned away from the window, so absorbed in my tangled thoughts that I did not even try to contradict my aunt with a clever comeback.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
The rain keeps on falling. I am drenched and, yet I feel no urge to move and seek safety from the torrential rain falling down on me. Instead, I listen to the pitter-patter of raindrops hitting the puddle that has formed near my feet. If I listen intently, I can hear the music in the plain noise.
"The rain is the music of nature, love, and this is the music of our love." His words come back to me as I recall how he had placed one hand on the place my heart resides and one on where his own does, just the night before. He has always been able to find amusement in rather unusual matters. My thoughts turn to the music that was playing the night I attended my first London dance ball.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
"This is beyond ridiculous. How does one expect to breathe in such a restrictive garment? I much prefer my shirt and breeches to this blasted corset!" I muttered under my breath as my aunt escorted me towards the hosts of the ball, Sir and Madam Francis.
"Lady Wood, how very nice to see you tonight. When you missed last week's card game, I was afraid we would not be graced with your attendance tonight," Madam Francis, a middle-aged lady, gushed as she took my aunt's hand in her own.
In a very pleased tone, my aunt returned the sentiment before turning her attention to me. "May I introduce my niece, Miss Isabella Swan?" This, of course, spiralled into a flurry of introductions to various patrons of the London Society and many forced smiles on my part. I was mentally cursing the day my mother had asked Aunt Victoria to bring me to experience a London Season with her when a sudden flash of bronze caught my eyes.
My mind immediately went to the man I had seen about a week ago, before I quickly discarded the notion. There was no way a member of London's Elite Society would ride on a horse alone, so far from the heart of London. This must be someone else.
I was trying to turn my attention back to our hostess when Sir Francis interrupted her. "My dear ladies, may I introduce Lord Edward Masen? He is the nephew of my long-time friend Duke Cullen." At once, we all turned to greet the newcomer, and my eyes were instantly captivated, yet again, by those intense green ones.
Lord Edward bowed to both Madam Francis and my aunt before reaching for my hand. I was so astonished to see him here that I forgot to give it to him. He waited for a few moments and then arched an eyebrow in question. Thankfully, I caught the glare my aunt was throwing my way, and blushing furiously, I placed my gloved hand in his. He raised my hand to his lips, and instead of bushing his lips on my knuckles, he smiled against my hand, all the while looking right into my eyes.
I quickly let my hand fall to my side and tried to avoid his eyes. Those eyes are deadly, I thought to myself.
Before I could bring my fan up to my face and hide behind it, Madam Francis said, "It is a lovely evening to dance, Lord Edward. Why do you not ask Miss Swan for a dance? Lovely young people such as yourselves should not stand idly while music is playing."
I started to protest, because I knew nothing of dance except the basic waltz, which I had practiced at home with my younger sister, but Aunt Victoria grabbed the opportunity to have me socialize. "What an excellent idea, Madam. Indeed, it would be shame to not have a dance while such good music is playing."
Lord Edward shrugged and then held out his hand for mine. "Would you like to dance, Miss Swan?"
I wanted to decline, not because I knew I was probably going to trip and make a fool of myself, but because of the resigned look on his face as he asked me.
He does not want to dance with me. Do you not see that? I wanted to scream at my aunt, but I did not. Instead, I placed my hand in his and let him escort me to the middle of the dance floor.
"Do you find your feet fascinating, or are you afraid of tripping?" I looked up at the sound of his smooth voice. We had been dancing in silence till then, and I had kept my eyes firmly planted on my feet just in case I did trip. But he should not know about that. How can he know what is going on in my head? I found myself frowning at the thought.
Remembering how reluctant he had looked at the idea of dancing with me, I held my chin up high and said, "Why do you ask such a thing? I realize you did not want to dance with me, and I had no intention of dancing with you either. So, if you could please manage to spend some time in my proximity until the song ends, I will endeavour not to have you ask me to dance again."
An amused glint came into his eyes, and he tilted his head as if trying to look into my thoughts. "What makes you think I do not wish to dance with you, Miss Swan?"
I pursed my lips and replied slowly, "The way you grimaced when it was suggested that you dance with me would make anyone come to the conclusion that you do not find the idea of dancing with me very appealing."
He chuckled and then shook his head. "Not particularly, Miss Swan. I just find the notion of dancing to tunes such as this less than savoury."
I looked at him with confusion. "What do you mean? This tune is not bad."
He shrugged and replied, "Maybe not to you, but when you have spent a long time out of doors, the music of nature tends to sound more appealing than these rehearsed pieces."
Before I could continue our discussion, the song ended, making us part ways. As I made my way back to my aunt, I found myself more intrigued by him than before.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
I lean my head against the carriage and let my eyes close, unable to look ahead of me and not see him with me. Six months ago, I had no idea that I would meet a man who would turn my world upside down, but I did. I did not think that I would ever go against my papa, but I did, only for him. Why are you not here, Edward? Do you not love me enough to come to me? I want to ask of him, but that is not true. I know he loves me, more than I ever thought anybody would love me.
I know he loves me because he came after me. When after six months of friendship, I had come back home, about to be married off to a stranger, he came after me. And that is the proof of his love for me. I feel my tears trailing down my cheeks at the memory of our first kiss. I do not wipe my tears, because he promised that he was always going to be there to wipe them away from now on. Where are you, my love? I need your arms around me.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
I looked at the basket hanging from my hand. Mama had asked me to go to the garden and pick out flowers for our hair for the afternoon tea party. She was trying to complete my training as a "proper lady" before I got married to Mr. Jacob Black, Papa's best friend's son.
A soft sigh escaped my lips at the thought of how drastically my life had changed. Six months ago, I was ready to marry anyone Papa asked me to, because that way, I would be able to fulfil my duty as the eldest daughter and his heir. But now, as I thought of marrying anyone, my mind's eye conjured up images of the vividly green eyes, wild and untameable bronze-coloured hair, and tall, muscular figure of a man. Edward.
After our initial encounter, I had come across Lord Edward Masen at almost every society party or ball. As if he was trying to prove to me that he had not been repulsed by the idea of dancing with me that first night, he always asked me for a dance.
Emboldened by our harmless teasing, I had brought that topic up one night, making him laugh loudly. "Bella, that is not the case, I assure you. I am a gentleman, and I find the notion of asking my fair acquaintance for a dance perfectly natural."
I had frowned at him. "My name is Isabella, and I thought you did not like the music?"
He had grinned widely at me and said, "That may be for the rest, but for me, you are Bella, beautiful and untainted. As for the music, I was not going to let some instruments keep me from having the pleasure of holding you, even for a few minutes." He was always saying things in that impish manner of his, making me furious and blush at the same time, every time.
But at the end of the season, he had become quite a good friend of mine, and I had started calling him by his given name. I had even allowed him to call me "Bella". I felt my lips stretch into a smile from thinking of him, when sounds of footsteps caught my attention.
My eyes snapped up from my hands and I gasped. There, standing not five feet away from me, was Lord Edward Masen, my friend, the man who had occupied most of my thoughts since coming back home. A small smile was playing on his lips as he held my gaze.
Without thinking about the consequences of my unladylike actions, I let the basket slip through my fingers and then ran into his arms. I almost lost my footing, but before I could fall down, his arms were around me, holding me to his chest.
"How did you manage to stay upright till I got here, my dear?" his soft voice asked, and I could not believe my ears.
I held on to his shoulders and looked up to his face. "Are you truly here, Edward?" I asked, praying to God that he was not a mirage.
Those vivid green eyes of his glinted brightly as he nodded in answer. "Yes, my Bella. I am here, truly. How can I not be, when you are here? I had to come to you, my love."
I felt my breath leave my body as the sudden term of endearment hit me with the force of a thousand stones. "What did you call me?"
He smiled and winked at me. "I called you 'my love', because that is what you are, Bella. You are my love. I was a foolish man to let you part from myself."
I sniffled before laying my head against his chest. "You are here now. That is what matters to me. You came to me."
He placed one hand on my chin, tilting my head back to look into my eyes. "I will always come to you, Bella." His declaration made me smile, and then slowly, as if approaching a cornered animal, he leaned down, bringing our lips very close. His hand travelled up from my chin to cup my face, and he whispered softly, "May I kiss you, love?"
I managed to briskly nod my head once before his lips brushed against mine. The kiss was feather-soft, and I felt myself drowning in his smell and the taste of his lips on mine. And then he slipped one hand in my hair, changing the tenor of the kiss, almost driving me insane in the process. I clung to him, afraid that he would let go of me, because I did not think I was ever going to get tired of kissing him.
When we were both struggling to draw air in our lungs, he separated our mouths, and then he rested his forehead against mine. With his eyes looking right into mine, he assured me, "I love you, Isabella Swan, and as a gentleman, I promise you, I am going to marry you, even if I have to fight the world for you. I love you, my Bella."
I looked at him from beneath my lashes and said with absolute certainty, "I love you, Edward. I will be your bride and not anyone else's. I promise."
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
As the feeling of hopelessness spreads through me, I slowly open my eyes. I look down at my hands on my lap. I see the thin thread wrapped around my ring finger. He had placed it there a few nights ago, saying it was to be a symbol of his love for me until he was able to place an actual ring there. He had been so sure that Papa would listen to him, that he would be the one to be granted permission to marry me.
My eyes wander to the white gaudy dress adorning my body. The lower part of my skirt is now tainted brown with mud and dirt of the earth. The contrast of virginal white fabric and blemished spots on the skirt seems like it is mocking me. I cannot help but think of the night before when I had offered Edward my most valuable possession, myself, in case he failed to impress my father. Of course, being the gentleman he is, he stopped me.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
I clenched my eyes closed, not yet ready to let go of the amazing man in my arms. I felt him drop a kiss on the top of my head before holding me away from his body. When I still refused to open my eyes, he chuckled. "Bella, love, you need to let me go. I have to keep up appearances, and you need to sleep. You look tired. Please, love, take care of yourself, for me."
I shook my head petulantly and held on to his waist, fearing that this was going to be the last night we were going to be simply Edward and Bella. He tried to pry my hands off of himself, and I let a small sob pass my lips. "What if your plan does not work? What if tomorrow I find myself being bound to a man I do not love? What am I to do then, Edward?"
He brought me to his chest again, running his fingers through my hair. "I am not going to let that happen, Bella. I love you, and I am going to win your father's approval if it is the last thing I do. I promise you, my love; tomorrow, you will be my wife."
I decided to express what I had been thinking about a lot lately. Burying my face in his chest, I mumbled, "But in case things do not go according to your plan, I want to give something to you, something I can only give once, and I want to give it to the man I love. I want to give myself to you, Edward."
He quickly pushed me away from his chest as if I had burned him with my words. "Bella, please, be serious. I will not disrespect you in that way."
I let all the frustrations of these past few weeks take hold of me and defiantly challenged him. "Why? You say you love me. Prove it, then. Prove to me that you love me."
He looked anguished as he caressed my cheek softly. In a harsh voice, he replied, "I love you more than anything, Bella. And it is because I love you that I cannot tarnish your reputation. You are too precious to me to do anything untoward as that."
A whimper escaped my lips as I felt ashamed at my blatantly wanton behaviour and rejection at his words. Edward pulled me in an embrace and kissed my eyelids, my cheeks, my lips, chastely, lovingly. Then he placed a kiss right beneath my ear and whispered, "Trust me, my Bella, I love you, and I will be the one to marry you. Please, love, I need you to believe in me."
I peeked at his face and said tentatively, "My friend Rosalie said she will have her husband arrange for a carriage for us if you wish to take me away, just in case Papa does not relent."
He let out a dry chuckle. "How many times will you make me say this? I am a gentleman. I am not going to steal you from your parents. I will not be considered a thief in your father's eyes. I will make him consent to my proposal and then I am going to make you my bride. In the future, when I see your papa, I want to be able to look him in the eyes and shake hands, not cower like a weak man who stole his daughter from him."
I grimaced at his slight reprimand, but even I had to smile at his gentlemanly ways.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
As the blinding tears blur my vision, I close my eyes once again. Lifting my face up to the sky, I let the raindrops fall on my face. I feel the rain mixing with my tears and running down my face but I cannot find the energy in me to make my feet move. So I continue to sit on the muddy earth, leaning against the carriage, letting the rain soak my dress, as I pray for the rain to wash away my pain and to bring my Edward to me.
I do not know how long I have been sitting there and letting the memories of him wash over me, hoping they would numb the pain, when through my foggy brain, I smell something. It is the most exquisite scent in the world, in my world. It reminds me of honeysuckle and sunshine and man—one man in particular, Edward.
A new bout of tears start streaming down from my eyes, and then I feel it. A hand—a soft, smooth, large hand, with long pianist's fingers. I feel the hand move across my cheek, wiping the tear tracks that have been running for what seems like forever.
I gasp when I feel the tingling feeling on my skin. The only times I have ever felt it was when he touched me. I open my eyes but cannot see anything clearly. The blasted tears are still blurring my vision. I try to blink them away. The moment my eyes focus, I feel my shattered heart start to beat.
He is here. My Edward has not abandoned me. He has come to me. He loves me. I want to scream out the words to the world in delight, but I cannot. All I can do is let out a choked sob before throwing myself into his outstretched arms.
Those wonderfully strong arms of his wrap around me, and I feel him place a kiss on my temple, just like he has done a thousand times before. I hear him whisper in my ears, "Love, why are you here like this? I told you, I was not going to steal you away. You have been out in this wretched weather all this time? I have been looking all over for you, my Bella. You will catch cold. Let me get you out of here."
A whimper comes out of my mouth as my eyes widen with worry. I vehemently shake my head. "No, no, Edward, I will not go back. If I go back, Papa will make me marry Mr. Black, and I refuse to marry anyone who is not you. Please, Edward, Emmett arranged this carriage for us, let us just go away from here."
A hint of a smile forms at the corners of his mouth. "You will not marry Mr. Black?" I start to shake my head again. This time, his smile becomes more pronounced. "But you will marry me?"
I do not need to think before answering his question. With absolute conviction I reply, "In a heartbeat."
He stands up and then holds his hand out to me. "Then come with me, my love. We have a wedding to attend."
My eyebrows furrow in question at his statement. "Who is getting married?"
I see the mirth dancing in his eyes as he smirks at me. "Why, this gentleman named Edward Masen, I hear. The bride is a quite lovely one, too. Her name is Isabella Swan. Maybe you have heard of her?" he asks with a wink.
I take a sharp breath and ask, "But what about Papa?"
He places one finger on my lips, silencing me, and then he smiles at me. "Your papa is the one who is giving you away. He agreed to my proposal. I told you I would win his approval. Apparently, he knows I am the perfect gentleman who can make his daughter truly happy."
My heart fills with happiness as the meaning behind his words become clear to me. He did it. He achieved my papa's consent and he came to me.
I let a smile stretch across my face and take his hand, knowing he will never let me go, because he loves me.
As we walk away, hand-in-hand, from towards my father's house, I turn back and look up at the sky one last time. The rain has ceased. The clouds have started to part, and from the opening in the clouds covering the sky, a sliver of sunlight is shining down on the earth. Yes, the dark clouds are not here anymore. Because my Edward, my sun, is here now, I say to myself before continuing on our way.
~*~*~*My Perfect Gentleman*~*~*~
Later that night
A sigh escapes my parted lips as I feel his fingers draw random circles on my bare back. I turn and hover over him—my Edward, my husband. I feel light-headed with the happiness coursing through me at the moment.
He moves his hand from my back and traces his thumb over my upturned lips. I cannot help but place a kiss on his thumb, making him hum with pleasure. "What is it? Why are you smiling like you have a secret, wife?"
I blush at the new form of endearment he has started using since we exchanged our wedding vows. I hide my face in the crook of his neck, feeling shy, and smile again. "I am smiling because I am deliriously happy."
He laughs at my shyness and encircles me in his arms once more. "Can I tell you a secret of mine, love?" he asks softly. I nod and look up to see his face. He frames my face in his hands and brings our lips together. "I am deliriously happy as well."
I giggle at his declaration and then ask a question I have not had the opportunity to ask before. "How did you manage to persuade Papa? I did not think he would agree to an alliance based on affection only. He is a very practical man."
He shrugs and lets his hands wander down my sides before resting them on my behind. "I think you will find that I can be very charming, Lady Masen. Besides, what father does not want his dearest daughter to be married to a gentleman?"
I let out a very unladylike snort and poke his side, making him jump slightly. "Of course. I wonder though," I say in a teasing tone. "What will he think of your gentlemanly ways when he realizes what you just did to his daughter?"
With a mischievous glint in his eyes, he rolls us over, hovering over me, ready to pick up where we left off the last time. He kisses the tip of my nose, making me giggle. "I do not think it is necessary to tell him that, do you?"
As I feel his weight over my body, all traces of mirth disappear. I tighten my hold on him and say breathlessly, "I think we are in agreement on that."
He brushes his lips on mine and murmurs, "Good." And then we are lost to our own world where no one matters except us—Edward and his Bella, Bella and her Edward.
Hours afterwards, as I feel sleep and exertion of the day starting to claim my consciousness, I hear my husband whisper in my ear, "I love you, Lady Isabella Masen. I love you with all my heart."
A slow smile comes over my lips as I whisper back, "I love you, too, my Lord, my husband, my perfect gentleman."
Tomorrow is going to be a new day, my first day as Lady Masen, and I honestly cannot wait for the next phase of our life to begin.
A/N: So ... thoughts?
Hit me with them and leave a review.
Thanks for reading.