Denied Devotion - Chapter 1

"Can I open my eyes yet, Nellie?"

"Not quite. Lucy, just a little farther. Follow the sound of my voice…"

Lucy, a pretty girl with fair hair and a bubbly personality possessed only by unspoiled, innocent youth was being led through a corridor by her slightly older friend, Nellie Lovett. She had a sullen face, pale with dark, sunken eyes, but was pretty nonetheless. Her dark brown hair fell about her face in untidy curls.

"OK. Now open them!"

"SURPRISE!"

Lucy gasped in delight.

"Happy Birthday, Lucy" said a tall, handsome man standing in a parlour doorway, before leaning in and placing a delicate kiss upon Lucy's blushing cheek. Nellie walked over to a nearby table and poured herself a tumbler of gin. "A toast," she said, raising her glass into the air, "to my best friend, Lucy. Happy 18th birthday, love" Lucy giggled and walked over to Nellie, bringing with her the handsome man. The two of them stood there, hand in hand.

"Thank you for remembering, Nell"

"Well what kind of friend would I be if I didn't? Do you fancy a drink, Luce?"

Lucy shook her head.

"What about you Benjamin?" Here she addressed the man standing next to Lucy.

"No thanks. I could go for something to eat though."

"Sure," said Nellie, reaching toward a plate of pies and selecting the best looking one to give Benjamin. This was hard because they all looked burned and were oozing some kind of rancid looking sauce. Eventually she picked one and handed it to Benjamin who gave a forced smile and took the pie from Nellie, thanking her.

"How about we make ourselves comfy love?" said Benjamin. Nellie jumped with surprise, dropped her glass, then looked up to see Benjamin and Lucy retiring to her faded sofa. Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment and she made her excuses to leave the room.

"Luce, I'm just popping upstairs to get your present. Be right back," she said, hurrying from sight. She returned minutes later carrying something rather large behind her back.

"Here you are," she pronounced, producing a birdcage from behind her back and handing it to Lucy.

"A finch! My favourite! Oh thank you Nell. You're the best friend I could ever dream of"

Nellie blushed then proceeded to look at Benjamin and ask, "Where's your gift?" Lucy placed the birdcage upon the floor and look enquiringly at Benjamin. Benjamin looked flustered and stumbled on his words.

"Well. Ummm… I was actually saving that for later…"

He then mumbled something about surprise and timing before fumbling in his jacket pocket and pulling out an engagement ring.

"Lucy May Venenum will you be my wife?"

"YES! Of course! Yes! A thousand times yes!" she erupted without a moments hesitation. She flung her arms around Benjamin and kissed him. Benjamin kissed back harder. Nellie sighed quietly, "I'll give you two some space," and she crept out of the parlour and up the stairs to her bedroom.

She couldn't sleep that night…