A/N ooooooo... I cant wait for you guys to read this chapter *jumping excitdily* so... ENJOY!!!!!!!!!!

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Fully dressed , Ella crossed the room to peer into the mirror. She reached up to her face to be sure that it was truly her reflection that was staring back at her. Her sisters' had had her gown specialty ordered from France. It was pink with a full skirt and off the shoulder sleeves. The silk bunched in the back and tied with crimson lace, the same lace that fringed the hem and neckline. Her hair was a motley of curls pinned on top of her head, with a few stray whisps framing her face. The maids had weaved strings of pearls and opals through her golden hair. Matching jewels adorned her neck and ears.

Moving from the mirror to her window she peered out across the fields again. All the field hands been cleaned and brought into the house to serve at the party causing the field to look empty in the late May sun.

She could hear the band beginning to play in the ballroom downstairs. A rap on the door brought caused Ella to jump. The solid oak door swung open revealing her father Charles. "Well there is a lady beneath all that grime. I knew there would be." replied Charles laughing at his daughter. He had already been in the brandy and the evidence laid heavily in his breath "Well we can't keep the guests waiting now can we?" he said offering Ella his arm. Taking on last glimpse at the ever beckoning horizon she turned and joined her father.

As the staircase that would lead them into the ballroom loomed forward the realization of this day hit her like a gust of ice wind. This was the end of her life and the beginning of her days as a flower in the drab garden that was polite society. Time traveled all to fast and before she knew it she was standing a top the grand staircase with all the guests staring at her. Her father squeezed her arm reassuringly.

"Announcing Master Perry, and his youngest daughter, Miss Ella Rose.", their butler said to the crowd below. As she focused on taking her delicate steps and attempted not to trip on her gown, she scanned the crowd searching for Joseph. Her heart fell, when she saw that he was not there. He had promised that he would be fact that he had broken his word causing this night to be even more imbearable. As they reached the bottom step, Charles released her hand and kissed her forehead, as he had done for his five daughters before her.

After being swarmed by family members and being covered in a layer of kisses Ella's best friend and cousin Rebecca pulled her from the crowd that had formed around the newest member of Alabama society. "Well well well look at you Elly, you look like a regular lady", said Rebecca mockingly. The two girls had grown up together. Rebecca's mother had been Ella's mother's sister and the closest thing to a mother she had ever known. "Cheer up love.", continued Rebecca cheerfully, "That Mammie of yours can't scold you for hanging around the young mister Hurst now, your on the market too." All color drained from Ella's face at the mention of Joseph's name. "Hunny what did I say?", inquired Rebecca with concern for her dear cousin. "Joseph isn't here", Ella replied as a silent tear fell down her powdered cheek.

"Saints forgive me Elly!", exclaimed Rebecca. "Don't let the aunts hear you talk like that Becky they'll thrash you good." "Poo on the aunts Elly and as for that young man of yours, he is out on verandah waiting for you." replied Rebecca with a smile, seeing the joy that the news had brought her dear friend. Ella hiked up her skirts and began to take off for the outdoor porch. "Hunny it's you the dear aunts will be thrashing if they she you like that!", shouted Rebecca laughing to herself.

Forcing herself to slow down Ella Rose made her way across the hall to the distant verandah. She reached the open porch overlooking the flower garden that was the pride of the Perry estate. Waiting for Ella leaning against a white pillar Joseph stood clutching a parcel in his left hand. When Ella could withstand it anymore she ran into his arms. "Happy Birthday", Joseph said, handing her a package wrapped in white paper tied with purple ribbon. Lifting a curious brow Ella unwrapped the present revealing two objects. After removing yet another layer of paper Ella saw two books. Opening one she saw it to be a book filled with Shakespeare's plays written in elegant print. Ella's smile widened as she ran her fingers over the pages. She had always loved the theater but for her or her sisters to read was a strict taboo around Father.

Before she could open the other book Joseph spoke up, "That one is empty inside, I know you will see places other than this plantation Ella, you cant be tied down, your like a caged bird here. Don't open it until you are away from here on your own adventure." Throwing her arms around Joseph she wept, but these were tears of joy. Joseph pushed her head up. "Ella a war is coming everyone knows it but isn't willing to accept it. Its only fair that you should know. That's why I'm out here... I'm leaving tonight to join up."

"What", Ella said confused and stunned at Joseph's last words.

"I can't just stay here, and watch my world burn all around me.", he replied. Ella wanted to sob, to beg him not to go, but then she remembered what he told her prior to the statement. He had understood that she couldn't stay, he wanted her to be happy. How selfish of her was it to not want the same for him.

"I understand", Ella murmured burying her head in his chest.. "I knew you would Ella, I just knew you would.", Joseph said tightening his hold on her waist before kissing her softly on her lips.

Her lips were still throbbing when he said, "I have to leave now, before father realizes I'm missing, but before I go..." he pulled a small box out of his coat. He opened it revealing a thin gold chain with a small gold rose charm on it. Ella fought back the tears while he clasped it around her neck. " This way you'll always have flowers from me." he said. "I have to go now." He titled her chin up with his finger and kissed her softly once more, "I love you." With that he ran off to the stables. He disappeared into the night before she could return the vow.

Rebecca met Ella at the gate and seeing the look in her dear cousin's eyes Rebecca instantly put her arm around her. "What is wrong Elly, tell me, please", she begged. "Joseph said that the war was coming and he left to join up.", answered Ella through sobs. "Oh you mustn't tell a soul Becky, please, swear it. Oh Becky." "I swear Elly I..." Calls from the door came, slashing Rebecca's thought in half. It was Ella's sister Mary Ann, "Ella, father is fit to tie, you better get your hide in here.", she said lips pursed, with her hands on her hips.

Gaining her composure again, Ella stepped back into the house. Her father was waiting for her in the back hall. "Where were you, you little slut." shouted Charles at this daughter. His speech was slurred and his breath reeked of brandy. "Father, I was just", started Ella, but she was cut off as a sharp pain fell upon her cheek. "You will not embarrass me like this." "Father I just went out for..." started Ella, but was instantly hushed as Charles raised his hand again. A sympathetic maid came and ushered Ella to a washroom where she could clean up. "This is what I'm condemning myself to.", she thought. "No man shall ever strike me again.", she swore to herself. It was a promise that she would keep within the folds of her heart. "If only Joseph were here", he would protect her she thought. "Damn his timing and damn this world."

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A/N.. Well well well, I don't know if any of you were expecting that but I thought it would give me a lovely path to travel down. This chapter had some fluff... hehehe... what can I say I'm a hopeless romantic! Please review and give me some feed back!!! I thrive on reviews!!!!!

*Much Love*