Isellta ran outside.
I can’t say anything right.
I can’t do anything right.
All of my life, I have been wrong.
Every day all wrong.
Always trying to blend in.
Always trying to be sensible.
And I’m not good enough.
I’m not good enough for anyone.
I will never be good enough.
And he will never forgive me.
I can’t make it right and I don’t know what to do.
I don’t know what he wants me to do.
He wants me to go away.
So, I’ll go away.
I won’t come back.
It makes sense.
It all makes sense.
Missy leaned against the counter next to Raven as he washed the blood off his face.
“You’re very pretty.” she announced without any fair warning.
Raven almost drowned himself. He raised his head and looked at her with his hair dripping everywhere. “What?”
“You are. What? No one’s ever told you that?”
“Not in those precise words, miss.”
For a minute, Raven lost his power of speech. Why not? “I’m only a butler, miss. I’m an invisible man.”
“How could you be invisible? I bet when you enter a crowded room all the ladies go and gawk at you and say who is that and is he married and is he interested in long term relationships or does he prefer quick flings and if he does—”
‘Missy!” He chuckled. “I am not that kind of man. Only one woman, other than yourself, has ever even looked at me twice.” He brushed his longer hair off to the side. “She looked at me many times. She loved me. She saw me as me and she loved me.”
“Is she still alive?”
“Arden. My dear Arden.” Her voice was shaky and weak. “Look at you. You haven’t changed. I’ve changed. Ever since Charles passed on, I have changed. A little every day. My change has not been for the better.”
“Don’t speak, Miss Farlington.”
She looked up at him with age-wearied eyes. “You mean Mrs. Vansing.”
His heart ached. My days of calling her May Rose are gone. Now, she is only Mrs. Vansing.
“I am tired, Arden. Terribly tired. Without him here, I can’t keep my eyes open. My energy…It just isn’t there.”
She focused on him. “Yes. As I knew you long ago. I loved you, Arden. I loved you so much, but you refused me. Why?”
“The reason no longer matters. Think no more of it.” He pushed the pain and the sorrow deep down.
I will grieve later.
He stroked her delicate, veined hand. I could save her with one bite. One bite and she would live like me throughout the endless years.
His fingers moved up to her thinned, breakable neck.
She will be unhappy without him.
“Rest.” He swallowed hard and cleared his throat. “Rest, Mrs. Vansing.”
“No. She is no longer alive. She died an old woman while I live on as a much younger man.”
“You still miss her, don’t you? I bet you do. I bet you have a secret shrine for her in your house with things like her favorite perfume and—”
“Missy!” He said it a lot sharper than he had intended.
“Please stop. I want to be alone right now. Please let me be alone right now.”
She didn’t say anything.
She left the shower room.
“Do you suppose he will come for me? My darling Charles. I love him so much. I miss him. Charles. Charles, I miss you. I miss you. Charles…” Her eyes brightened. A joyous smile spread across her face as she focused on something Raven could not see. “Oh! My darling.” She started to raise her arms. “My love!”
They fell flat on her comforter.
And her body became still.
The light in her eyes faded.
And he pushed the pain down even further.
I will grieve later.
Dawn is coming.
I must go home.
Raven bowed his head.
Tears fell onto his already wet hands.
And he grieved for her.