Summary: Anne is an Upper East Side It girl with an old beau that haunts her.
Disclaimer: The White Queen, Gossip Girl, and history don't belong to me.
It was half past seven and Isabel was still in her silk robes examining the three dresses spread across her bed, all three fresh off the Beauchamp spring collection.
"What do you think, Anne?" she said, tracing the beading on the charcoal one. "The color suits me, no?"
"It suits you. Now hurry. You know I can't go in there alone…"
Isabel sighed with the gravity of one put to the arduous task of reasoning with a younger sibling. "You have nothing to fear. I'm certain Edouard will take one look at you and fall head over heels. And once he enrolls, you too will reign over the peasants at St. Jude's, like George and I used to."
"Iz, please? I can't go in there."
Isabel narrowed her eyes. "This is about Marguerite isn't it? You're scared of her."
"I'm not scared—I don't want to make a bad impression. She's royalty. We're just…rich."
Isabel rolled her eyes and returned to her preparations, dabbing her wrists and neck with Coco Noir.
It was perhaps fifteen minutes later that Anne managed to drag her sister away from her vanity. Together they descended down the stairway into the lounge of their penthouse where they were met with the pretty sight of their parents accommodating important persons of royal blood. Their father, handsomely dressed in Jean Paul Gaultier, was practically kneeling before the woman in the ermine shrug—presumably Lady Marguerite—whilst examining her dazzling diamonds. The boy, Edouard, was being tended to by their mother, who was a walking advertisement of her line, from the jewels in her hair to the eight-inch stilts on her feet.
The company stood to greet them and their father did the necessarily introductions.
It was just the two of them, mother and son.
Anne wondered if the rumors regarding Lord Henry were true, that he was indeed incapacitated following a string of terrible financial decisions.
Edouard was pleasant. He kissed Anne's hand. Actually kissed her hand! Anne found herself smiling despite the flip flopping in her stomach.
Marguerite took especial interest in Anne. Instead of merely kissing her cheeks and leaving it to that, as she had with Isabel, she lingered, holding Anne's chin and examining her. Anne felt rather awkward, but she said nothing lest she unknowingly stumble upon impropriety. Royals were strange people, that was a fact.
"She is a pretty one," Marguerite said, at last letting go of Anne. "My congratulations, Neville, they are both so pretty."
"That's none of me, it's all her. It's the Beauchamp genes," their father said, winking across at their mother who laughed, in completely concordance on that point.
Marguerite returned to her seat, patting her son's knee. "What do you think, Eddie, is she to your liking?"
Edouard laughed. "I'd have to be blind to answer no."
He flashed Anne a brilliant smile. He was quite pretty, the very image of his mother, down to the perfect waves of chestnut hair, and the large, amply lashed hazel eyes.
Anne murmured an awkwardly thanks, averting her gaze. Her cheeks were hot, her neck too. She would've very much liked to pop open the window and let in a bit of breeze, and perhaps leave the room for little while, but Isabel found her hand and practically dragged her down onto the nearest sofa.
"Anne, darling, we've been talking amongst ourselves and thought that perhaps it might be a good idea for you to show Edouard around. You are in the same year…" Their mother's attempts at nonchalance were poor.
Anne blushed deeper. "I don't see a problem."
Isabel smiled approvingly at her.
Since returning from their visit to the Anjou vineyards in Bordeaux, and the finalization of financial dealings between their two families, it became perfectly clear that their parents meant for Anne and Edouard to get especially well acquainted.
Anne didn't mind it so much. It could hardly hurt to brandish a young handsome lord around, as Isabel put it. She was certain to be the envy of her friends. Yet, at the same time, it was rather embarrassing to have her parents poking their noses in her love life, as common as that was in the Upper East Side.
But he was cute…and a lord…
"If you'd like, Edouard, there is a charity event the Yorks are holding and I don't have a date yet…"
He flashed her another smile. "I'd love to."
"That settles it." Their father opened a silver case of Cubans and held one out to Edouard. "Let's let the women talk amongst themselves."
Edouard accepted the cigar, following him out to the terrace.
"Is he not a darling, Anne?" her mother said, her eyes bright. "The moment I saw him, I told Marguerite—didn't I?—that you two would go mad for each other."
"You don't already have a beau?" Marguerite said.
Anne shook her head no.
She wasn't sure if that was a lie or not. She had a beau. Sort of. But he was at boarding school, and he never called. Never texted. Not even an email. Not one.
"My son has had many, but you are a sweet girl, and sweet girls do find a way of nesting themselves within the heart."
Unsure of what to say, Anne merely nodded.
Dinner was one of decorum and civility, until that is, their mother exceeded three glasses. Marguerite was little better, and despite being royal born and wed, she didn't need the wine to get there. Anne and Edouard were seated together. They chatted about their lives, likes and whatnot. They had little in common, but so new as their acquaintance was, it mattered not. He replenished her wine, making certain her glass was never left dry, and helped her finish her tart. They promised each other to have lunch together the next day at St. Jude's.
Lunch was code word for sneaking off to Baskin Robbins and making out in the corner seats. They didn't get much eating outside of gooey spoonfuls of ice cream passed around between them with a side of saliva.
Anne returned to campus that afternoon, arm in arm with Edouard. Her smug smile—accented with a hint of blueberry-lemon trifle at one corner—proclaimed him hers, to the envy of everyone.
The week went by typical of most newly burgeoning relationships. Anne's time with Edouard involved a series of excited proclamations of concordance and lots of saliva swap. These activities were put to pause in their limo ride to the charity event on Saturday evening while Anne touched up her make up, pasting on fresh lipstick as most of what she had worn had consumed in the saliva swap from earlier.
"These Yorks, they are like royalty in the Upper East Side?" Edouard said, bored now that Anne's attention was directed elsewhere.
"They are. Isabel couldn't be smugger when she snatched up the middle one, George. They're engaged now. He's abominable, like, totally gross. But she'd be damned before she marries lower, so she puts up with him."
He yawned and grabbed for her, but Anne slapped his hands away. Anne would be damned before she showed up to a York endorsed evening with JB hair.
Edouard helped her out of the limo and together they walked past the crowds and the flashing cameras. According to Gossip Girl Charlize Theron was supposedly going to make an appearance. As such it was an absolute zoo out there.
Inside was a more civil affair. A string orchestra played somber tunes at one end and the crowds were milling about with the ease of the heavily medicated and reasonably inebriated bunch that they were.
Cecily York was the first person Anne was actually glad to greet, and the only one semi-coherent. She was nicknamed 'the duchess' for her innate regality, immense wealth, and unrivalled influence in both political and social matters.
"Will your mother be attending tonight, sweetheart? There is someone I so dearly want her to meet."
"Mother is already here, I expect."
The duchess' eyes drew to Edouard who was returning to Anne having chased down a server with champagne. "And who is this?"
"Lord Edouard of Lancaster. He's a good friend of mine."
The duchess and Edouard greeted each other. He made polite inquires regarding the current event, and she asked after his family. His mother was well, as was his favorite pet Perrie. He made no mention of his father.
"Oh my—before it completely leaves my mind, Anne, I have news that should interest you, only—"
Before she could elaborate the arrival of others more intimate with the duchess stole her attention. Namely, it was her eldest son Edward and Elizabeth Woodville, his Texan beauty queen of a wife, complete with large, shiny bleached-blond hair. She looked marvelous, Anne had to admit. She hadn't won Miss America, but even Isabel conceded that her attaining Edward's hand was a far grander prize.
The duchess, however, wasn't too fond of her daughter-in-law. Likely it had to do with the time she blasted through Edward's entire trust fund in a week, on a trip on which she took her entire family to Monaco. Anne didn't know the details, but it was widely speculated that the Woodville hadn't made a good impression on the royal family—an incident on their yacht was alluded to, involving the Elizabeth's father.
Anne hated waiting. The duchess had piqued her interest and now—
Her phone chirped, merrily vibrating in her Dior clutch.
It was Gossip Girl.
Richard was back!
Anne waited at the bar. She was down to her fourth martini and suddenly was having a very difficult time suppressing her giggles over the mustache of the lonely hipster at the other end.
"I got your text."
That voice was unmistakable.
Richard even looked the same, just maybe cuter. His dark hair was longer, windblown, but otherwise he looked put together, sharp even.
His lips graze her cheek, warm and soft.
"I'm surprised you know who I am?" Anne said. The hurt she tried to bite back uncooperatively spilled into her tones. "You never called. Not even an email. I got nothing."
He had been gone for nearly a year.
At least he seemed somewhat ashamed.
"I thought we were friends, Richard."
"We were—we are."
"I don't want to talk about that, Anne. I came to see you, and… You look good."
"Good? What a compliment. Wow. And after a whole year…"
He laughed. It had the same ring, low and quickly fleeting.
She had always wished he'd laugh harder, louder, freer.
"You're seriously not going to tell me about why you just disappeared, poof?"
"It's not important,"
She pulled away from his touch. "You haven't been a very good friend."
"I know. But I want to make up for it."
"Fine, you can start by finding me a ride home," she said.
She slipped out of her stool, stumbling immediately. He was quick to catch her. Wherever he touched her skin felt aflame. With him holding her finding balance was even more difficult.
It was worst when he laced his fingers through her hair. For a second she thought he would kiss her. He inched close, his breath hot on her, and then retreated.
"Anne, there is something you need to know about your father."