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Love in Affliction
Chapter One: The Betrothal
December 14, 1895
My dearest mama,
The weather has been positively dreadful during this winter season. Rain seems to be my constant companion throughout the December month. I shall miss both you and papa during the holidays. Send my regards to Nathaniel and Adrianna when you reach Marseilles…
She turned away from the desk and stared at her dark haired friend. Mary Alice Brandon pranced gracefully into their room, a heartbreaking smile on her flawless face. She rolled her bright blue eyes as she noticed her friend at the writing desk.
"Ah, of course," she exclaimed dramatically, "Heaven forbid you go a day without writing."
"Surely you know how foul my mood would be, Mary," the other girl taunted, emphasizing her friend's first name.
She scowled. "You know how much I loathe that name, Isabella."
"Dually noted," she gently laughed. "Fine." She sat before their vanity and brushed out her chestnut-colored hair. "Alice, what has put you in such a spirited mood?"
Alice twirled vicariously around the room, her eyes sparkling with delight. "I'm engaged!"
The brush fell from Bella's hands, clattering noiselessly against the carpeted floor. She turned towards her friend and gasped, "He proposed?"
"Yes!" Alice screamed happily.
The two girls jumped up and down childishly, squealing with happiness. If anyone were to see the two girls, they would think they were mad. Young ladies weren't supposed to be so spirited, but the two girls were a fine exception. Bella threw her arms around Alice and pulled her into a fierce hug.
"Oh Alice," she murmured. "I am so happy for you. Truly, I am."
They pulled away from one another with smiles, though tears streamed down Alice's face. Bella pouted slightly and shook her head. She then wagged her finger, imitating their headmistress from school. Alice let out a choked laugh and wiped away her tears.
"Forgive me," Alice grabbed a tissue and dabbed at her eyes. "I've just waited so long for this."
"Don't apologize." Bella said gently. "Jasper Cullen," she whispered. "Of course you should be jumping for joy. You two make an excellent couple."
Alice giggled wildly and nodded in agreement. "Yes. We will be announcing our engagement at the Cullen's annual Christmas ball. Do tell me you will be attending."
"Oh how I hate to disappoint you, Alice." Bella walked towards the window and stared blankly at the gloomy scene. "My mother and father are off to Marseilles to visit my brother and his wife for the holidays. I, on the other hand, get to spend my holidays here at dear Brighton Academy."
"Nonsense!" Alice said vehemently. "I shall write to mother and tell her you'll be staying with us."
Bella's eyes widened slightly. "Oh Alice, I must protest-"
"Hush now Bella," Alice said while writing a quick post to her family. "Mother absolutely adores you. She always tells me 'if ever a fine young lady, it is Miss Swan.'"
Bella blushed at Alice's comment and shook her head. She was inwardly pleased that she wouldn't be stuck at the academy over the holidays. She was dreading another wasted holiday in the desolate school with only the younger children. Though Bella loved her parents dearly, her mother and father saw fit to shower their daughter with material possessions instead of affection. That type of doting only belonged to her prized brother.
At that moment, something dawned on Bella. "All my gowns are at home!" she cried in dismay.
"Then we will simply take a carriage ride to your manor," Alice said as she folded her letter. "Or you may borrow one of mine. Either way, you are going, Isabella Swan, so don't you dare try and squirm your way out of this one."
Bella bit her lip and shrugged. "I think I'll send a letter to my mother and request for her to send me a few possessions before she and Father leave for Marseilles."
"Wonderful," Alice said while bouncing out of the room. Bella smiled and turned back to the letter she was writing to her mother.
… I hope the weather in France suits you. Miss Brandon has invited me to stay with her family over the holidays so I ask if you could please send me a trunk of my gowns and possessions to Brighton before you leave. I wish you and Father well.
Edward Cullen rolled his eyes as he watched his cousin pace around the room. His cousin had just told him of his proposal to the girl he had been pursuing and was getting on Edward's last nerve.
"I bet aunt Esme is just thrilled," Edward drawled dully. He traced a hand across the leather-bound books in the library.
"Yes, quite." Jasper stopped his pacing and smiled at Edward. "With Rosalie married to Emmett McCarty and me engaged to Miss Brandon, who do you think she'll pursue next?"
Edward froze in place and stared at his cousin. "You have got to be joking," he muttered under his breath. "If she bloody well thinks-"
"Ah yes," Jasper said. "What was it you had said? 'It will be a cold day in hell before I get tied down.'" He shook his head and shot a disdainful look at Edward. "You can't be a ladies' man forever."
Edward glared at Jasper. "Watch me," he replied coolly.
"You are such a child," Jasper scoffed, running a hand through his blond hair.
"And that's why all the young women love me," Edward smirked at his cousin. "I do recall that you seemed to indulge on that type of lifestyle before."
"Exactly," the blond replied. "Before. Now that I have met Miss Brandon, I don't see any other woman the same way."
"Love's fool," Edward sighed while shaking his head mockingly.
A maid knocked on the door lightly and curtsied. "Mrs. Cullen would like to inform you that lunch is ready."
Edward and Jasper nodded and walked towards the dining room. Much to their surprise, Rosalie and her own family joined the rest of the Cullens for lunch.
"Emmett." Edward grinned. "How've you been?"
The dark-haired man smiled at his friend. "I have a beautiful wife." He stared at Rosalie. "An angel of a daughter." Emmett ruffled his giggling daughter's blonde hair. "And another child on the way," Emmett smiled brightly while lifting Rosalie's hand to his lips for a kiss. "You tell me."
"That bad?" Edward gasped, feigning horror. He smiled warmly and placed a kiss on Rosalie's cheek. "You are enormous, Rose."
"Well it is nice to see you as well, Cousin," Rosalie huffed, though smiling despite the jest. "And here I was, suggesting that we name our boy after your namesake. Out of the question now."
"Pardon my jesting," Edward said teasingly.
"Uncle Edward!" the young daughter of Emmett and Rosalie squealed happily.
Edward stared at Emmett. "Angel, you say?" He laughed and pecked the young girl's forehead affectionately. "And how are you, Amelia? Being horrible as usual?"
"Only when the time calls for it," Amelia chirped genially, bouncing up and down in her seat.
Rosalie frowned. "She becomes more and more like you everyday, Edward. Pity."
Edward chuckled boastfully and then turned to his aunt and uncle. "Aunt Esme. Uncle Carlisle. How have you two been?"
"Quite well, Edward," Carlisle said while gesturing for him to sit. "How are your estates faring?"
"They are doing well," Edward replied smoothly. "Actually, I've been thinking about purchasing this quaint manor in Surrey."
"That sounds splendid, dear." Esme's eyes brightened. "Has Jasper told you his news?"
Edward stared at his cousin and then back at his aunt. "Yes. It seems as if my dear cousin is besotted."
Jasper blushed. "So Edward," he said slowly, sending a glare at his cousin. "How is the Countess of Loire?"
Edward narrowed his eyes. "I wouldn't know. We lost touch a few months ago."
"What a shame," Esme sighed, while taking a sip of wine. She smiled and stared at Edward intently. "My dear nephew, you are – how old now?"
"Seventeen," Edward responded tightly.
"Hmmm... and eighteen in June." Esme dabbed her mouth daintily with a napkin. "Your mother and father were married at age sixteen."
Jasper groaned. "Mother..."
"What?" she asked innocently. "I was merely stating a fact."
Emmett grinned. "There isn't a woman out there that has caught Edward's gaze."
"Oh, there are women who have caught his attention," Rosalie sniffed pretentiously, "Edward's lack of commitment is another thing."
"Rose, that is unfair," Emmett crooned, "Edward has plenty of commitment."
"Please do continue talking about me as if I wasn't here. Really. I do enjoy it," Edward drawled while staring at the display with amusement.
"Enough," Carlisle said firmly. He took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose with a sigh. "Edward is a man now, Esme. He knows what is best for himself—"
"Thank you, Uncle."
"—And what's best is finding a suitable lady," Carlisle continued, ignoring the interruption.
Edward stared at his uncle in disbelief. "Uncle-"
"Would everyone leave the room, please?" Carlisle asked patiently. The room emptied, leaving only Edward and Carlisle.
"What is the meaning of this, Uncle?"
"Edward," Carlisle said slowly. "You understand that you are like a son to me, right?
"Of course!" Edward exclaimed. "You have been like a second father to me."
"There is something you should see, Edward." Carlisle walked out of the room and returned moments later with a piece of parchment. He handed it to Edward and allowed his nephew to read over the document. Minutes later, Edward's expression darkened as the writing dawned on him.
"Is this some kind of a joke?" Edward sputtered, his eyes wide with shock.
Carlisle shook his head grimly. "I'm afraid not. Edward, if you don't find yourself a suitable wife by the time you turn eighteen, your betrothal to the Duchess of West Essex will be activated."
An icy terror gripped Edward as his thoughts traveled to the heinous Duchess. He shivered at the thought and stared numbly at his uncle. "Is there any way…?"
"I'm afraid not," Carlisle shook his head and read over the document. "I have had lawyers look over the document, but it is an iron clad contract."
"Why would my father do this?" Edward put his head in his hands thoroughly appalled by the predicament.
"He knew how much you enjoyed the company of young women even as a small lad," Carlisle smiled, amused by his memories. "He said I was a bad influence on you. I suppose he wanted to ensure you would have a nice life."
"Even in death the man controls me," Edward muttered under his breath. "If you will excuse me, Uncle, I'm going to call it a day."
"I'm sorry, son," Carlisle whispered.
Edward stared at his uncle blankly. "So am I... So am I."
Authoress Note: Alright so here is the deal. I've had such a high demand on why I didn't write full length stories so here you go. Thing is, if I don't get a whole lot of reviews, then I don't have the motivation to write. Since I have school, I can't update every other day or what ever. I'm sorry. For those of you who actually like my writing, then I thank you very much. Every reviewer makes my writing here worth while.
Things to know:
Carlisle and Esme Cullen are the parents of Rosalie and Jasper Cullen. Edward's father was Carlisle's brother and both Edward's parents are dead. More history will be revealed throughout the story. I've made the story so all the people who are supposed to belong together, are together.
If you have any questions please contact me through private message or review.