“Good to see you, Count. Keeping my sister busy I see.” Bart joked. Elvira pinched her lips in a thin line.
“Oh, how rude of me. Sissy, Virgo, this is my fiancé’ Isabella. Came to live with me back in the day, when you lot all pissed off and left me the family fortune….Planning a wedding here in spring…Isn’t she something?’
Isabella was something all right. Elvira bit her tongue.
So from plain avoidance to sarcasm. She thought to herself.
She looked between the two and nodded her head.
“Congratulations on your impending…nuptials. I hope you’re both…very happy.” Elvira stated with gritted teeth. “Just so you know, Bartholomew…your niece and nephew are around here somewhere and would love to see you for a fair bit. Be sure to stop by them and say hello.”
Clenching her fists to try and stave off the tears that wanted to shed from her eyes, she turned on her heel and marched away, making a beeline for the back terrace for some fresh air. A few slipped from her eyes in the interim and she angrily swiped them away
She blamed the pregnancy hormones for making her weepy.
Apparently this was one family bridge she would not be mending…and if she were honest with herself…it hurt.
“He hates me.” she whispered to herself, not caring if anyone heard her.
While Bart was busy signing autographs, Isabella was grinning at a few reporters who were asking her how living with Bart was. She didn’t comment much, other than to say it was ‘wonderful’ – for before she could, she heard the voice of a woman who she’s not seen in half a decade. Her eyes lifted as Elvira strode towards she and Bart. Glancing towards the flapper whose autograph Bart signed, the shifter smirked a bit and shifted closer to him just as Elvira made her way over.
“Hello, Elvira. You look wonderful tonight. I’d expect no less of you.” Grinning, Isabella greeted Elvira kindly. Although she hadn’t particularly liked the woman when Isabella and Juliette had been friends… after Juliette disappeared, she learned more about her from Bart. And could definitely say that this woman wasn’t one who she could easily hate, or dislike at all for that matter. She’d just never gotten the chance to say it. Looking at Virgo, the shifter grinned at him as well. “Count.” Nodding in greeting, she then turned her attention to Bart as he introduced her.
A smile quickly spread over her features as he spoke, red color blooming on her cheeks. “Don’t listen to him – I’m not quite as much as he likes to brag that I am.” Laughing, she turned as he leaned down to kiss her cheek. Leaning up just as he pulled back, she kissed his lips lightly before suddenly turning to Elvira and Virgo. “We would love to have you both there, of course. It wouldn’t be a wedding without his family, of course.” Isabella didn’t mention her family though – more likely than not, none of hers would be attending. And her father definitely would not be walking her down the aisle. Moments after Bart spoke, Elvira was storming off, making Isabella give her a strange look. She didn’t comment, though part of her wanted to bite back at Elvira’s obviously insincere words.
Elvira’s reaction to seeing her old brother Bart, was not exactly the most warm of hellos. In fact, if she could have ripped her own arm off and chewed it as she spoke, she probably would have.
“Congratulations on your impending…nuptials. I hope you’re both…very happy.” The fact she said this then stormed off out side in a huff, left Bart and Isabella standing there, while Virgo rubbed the back of his neck. Bart had to ask. “Is she always like this these days? Bit early for menopause.” Bart said, questioning her behaviour, while keeping Isabella close on his arm.
Virgo then pointed out. “Could be hormones. She’s pregnant.”
“Ahhhh so that’s it. You sly old dog you.” Bart playfully punched Virgo’s arm, to which Virgo growled at him under his breath.“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Bart shrugged and then said to Isabella. “Why don’t you dance with your future brother n law, while I find out what got Elvira’s knickers in a twist.” He kissed Isabella sweetly, then tugged at his jacket and marched out after his sister Elvira, to see where she had ended up, and hopefully not killed anyone along the way.
Virgo bowed politely towards Isabella, and escorted her onto the dance floor, to a traditional waltz, while they waited for their partners to return.
Out of the back landing, Bart came up from behind Elvira and sighed.
“Do we HAVE to do the whole Roxburg usual drag em out and slam em down greetings. It’s been fifty years since the last one, and if I remember rightly that was the day you packed your gear and left the house.” He stood behind her, hands on a marble railing and looked at her. “Virgo said your expecting. You sure you want more…I mean, the twins are grown aren’t they? He didn’t force you into this, did he? I’ll box his ears, collar him and make him race with grey hounds if he did.”
“Do we HAVE to do the whole Roxburg usual drag em out and slam em down greetings. It’s been fifty years since the last one, and if I remember rightly that was the day you packed your gear and left the house.”
She turned away from him so he wouldn’t see her red and puffy eyes and red nose. She took a handkerchief from her handbag and wiped her eyes. “I left because it was the right thing to do. You seemed to be under the impression that I was running away from you and our home. That was not what I was doing, Bart. And then your attitude and distance since that day has not helped matters any. What am I supposed to think?”
“Virgo said your expecting. You sure you want more…I mean, the twins are grown aren’t they? He didn’t force you into this, did he? I’ll box his ears, collar him and make him race with grey hounds if he did.”
She really wanted to ignore his jibe, but it was kind of funny and she snorted laughter, covering the sound with her mouth and hoping he didn’t hear it. “That’s not funny.” she stated. “And yes, I want more children, as many as I can give him. Somewhere along the way of our relationship, I discovered I wanted lots of children. Dominique and Damion are my pride and joy. Now I want to add to that. And don’t you dare try and collar my husband, Batholomew!” She finally turned on him with a glare. “I’ll beat you over the head with your own leg then roast it and make you eat it.”
She eyed him for a moment, thinking.
“Barty…why do you hate me so much? You’ve ignored all my letters for the last 50 some-odd years. And that hurt me. You have always been my favorite sibling…and not talking to you has caused my heart such deep pain, not even Virgo and the children can erase it.”
Unshed tears sparkled in her eyes once more as she awaited his answer.
Would he break her heart even further?
Bartholomew was surprised by Elvira’s question about why he hated her, and ignored her correspondence for the past fifty years. She admitted that this had hurt her deeply as he was her favorite sibling, out of the three that she had. Bart’s face was now one of confusion, with a crooked smile, and then shaking his head, he said.
“Woah woah. When did I ever say I hated you, Elly?” Truth of the matter was, his silence was not that he hated anyone, he simply felt abandoned, when his entire family more or less up and left or vanished after the death of Amos. The only one that had stayed, was Lurch, and then of course, Isabella came looking for Juliette. A girl with no home, and now lost in the world. He took her in, as he had that huge house, and all that money from the family fortune and after Fanny broke the engagement, he had no one left.
“Take a good hard look at the situation here, Elvira. You..you went off with the Count, which I never stopped you from doing by the way. You made your own family and your own life. I was happy for you, but at the same time, I had the entire family go missing. No word from them? Did you get a Christmas card from Alice? A birthday card from Mum? Hell…a letter from Juliette? Well, neither did I. Was I upset that the family was destroyed after Dad died? Yes. I had a lot of guilt on my part watching him die…not saying goodbye to my old man…cause of Fanny..WHO…shagged the first bloke to look at her while she was at her Great grandmothers. I felt rejected by everyone.”
This was now a torrent of emotions, swirling and pouring out of him like the dam finally broke after fifty years of suffering in silence.
“Did you WANT me to write to you and tell you what a shit my life had turned into? Did you want me to burden you with my depression? My attempts at suicide? While YOU played happy families with the oh so perfect Count.”
At this point he was curling his chubby digits into fists and turned away. “People SEE..this powerful…egotistical shipping tycoon, with a gorgeous girl on his arm. The only one who never walked away from me. But…inside..inside of me, is a man still healing from all those years ago. You can’t rewind the clocks and make things better, Elvira.”
He took one last look at her, before going back to find Isabella.
“You thought all these years, I hated you. Truth was…I hated myself. Enjoy the party, Sis.”
Seeing Isabella dancing with the Count, he stopped in the door way, taking a glass of champagne of a tray from a busboy and then took a sip, as the music swirled around him.
Isabella glanced towards where Elvira had disappeared to, but made no comment. Instead, she gave Bart a small smile and leaned up to kiss him back sweetly. “Okay.” As Bart walked off, Isabella looked at Virgo and grinned. After curtsying to him, she headed to the dance floor with Virgo. She was quiet at first, merely dancing to the music as they moved. After a little while, though, Isabella looked up at Virgo, her lips thinned into a small line. “I do hope that Elvira will be okay. It was not neither mine nor Bart’s intentions to upset her.” She offered him a small smile afterwards, and fell silent once again as they danced. It wasn’t long before she saw Bart standing in the doorway, apparently having already finished his talk with Elvira.
Only once they had finished the dance did Isabella pull away. With a grin, she curtsied to Virgo. “It was a pleasure dancing with you.” Walking back over to Bart, Isabella smiled softly. “Are you okay, Bart?” Her eyes searched his face, worry creasing her brow even as she tried to smile. She had been there for all of the depression Bart had experienced due to the loss of his family, and had seen it build up inside of him and burst many times. She knew how hard it had hit Bart when his family suddenly disappeared. And now, she could see that Elvira had upset him.
The words he spoke froze her in place, even after he walked away from her.
Had she been so blind that she had ignored her own brother’s pain and grief at the loss of their father? Was it her fault that she had ignored the other members of her family that remained behind after all was said and done?
She sighed and went in search of her brother.
She found him standing in the door, watching Virgo dance with Isabella as he sipped a glass of champagne.
“Why didn’t you tell me, Barty?” she asked in a soft voice. “You’re my brother. I love you. Don’t you think I would have wanted to know what was going on with you? Didn’t you trust me enough to know that I would care about what you were going through? At least I tried. You just ignored me. And it wasn’t fair to either of us.”
She turned to watch her husband. “Mum and I reconnected. She wanted to. Why can’t we do the same? I know things are different now, but we are still family. I understand what that means now. I didn’t understand it then, and it hurt all of us in ways I can’t even comprehend anymore. You were always so strong, better than the rest of us. I would have liked to known what you were feeling. I would have come home, Bart.”
He said not a word while she talked, didn’t even look at her. Sighing, she leaned up and kissed his cheek. “I love you, Brother. Never forget that. If you ever want to talk, you know where I am.”
She headed toward her husband and Isabella. “I hate to cut in but, Virgo, I’m not feeling well. Can we go home please?” she asked.
Genevieve smiled warmly back at Rupert, finding both he and his sister to be quite enchanting. She was, however, very surprised when she found he was close enough to kiss when he spoke into her ear. Turning to look at his neck with a blush on her cheeks, she listened to his words. Feeling her heartbeat speed up, her palms became slick with sweat as she felt woozy. He had such an odd effect on her, she had no idea what she was feeling.
When he pulled back, she still felt very warm but managed to smile once more. Nodding once, she kept her voice low with conspiracy as she responded “In that case, you must be full of wisdom for you seem very quiet yourself…”
Genny’s voice trailed off as her eyes flicked from his face to the rose he had protruded out of what seemed to be thin air. Shock lit up her face as she looked back up at Rupert in awe. Taking the rose, she found herself smiling again as she lifted the rose to her nose. Listening to the siblings banter back and forth, she laughed softly and cradled the beautiful flower to her chest “Thank you…that was quite charming. Wherever did you learn to do something like that?” It made sense to her now that he was supernatural, but she was curious as to why he was performing such a spectacle for her.
Glancing around warily, she looked to see if other women had a rose. Seeing that she was perhaps the only one, she fixed her eyes back on Rupert. He had winked at her and it was enough to make her feel self-conscious as to whether or not they could hear her ridiculous heart beat. Holding the stem carefully between her fingers, she remained silent as she was at a loss for words.
Elvira’s kiss on the cheek, seemed to leave Bart unmoved. He had lowered his mask, just enough for her to see the pained Bart that no one else did. So, she had reconnected with Mother, how nice. He wouldn’t be surprised if she had Alice tucked away somewhere. God, maybe even Fanny.
“I love you, Brother. Never forget that. If you ever want to talk, you know where I am.”
“Yeah…sure…right.” Bart said, downing his champagne in a trice, and then exhaling loudly, before his mask fell back into place, and he sauntered back over to Isabella, who was being cut in on by a distressed Elvira. He took up Isabella’s hand and kissed it all gentleman like and then winked.
“Aha! I get my future wife to myself. Come on, let’s show these has-beens how its done. Night you two, don’t go breaking no beds now.” With that said, Bart lured Isabella out onto the dance floor, and together would dance up a storm to the latest jazz song. Bart showing some fancy footwork that was comical at best. Needless to say…he now planned to PRETEND to have a good time, or at least drink himself into that state of mind.
“Aha! I get my future wife to myself. Come on, let’s show these has-beens how its done. Night you two, don’t go breaking no beds now.”
“Please, Virgo. I want to go home now.” she begged in a soft voice. She wanted to get away from her brother before she did something ridiculous…like punching him. She didn’t even know why she had tried to talk to him. It was obvious he thought everyone had abandonded him and no amount of begging was going to get through to him. She felt the tears clogging in her throat and took a breath. “Please.” she begged once more.
“Mother? Mother, what’s wrong?” In a flash, Damion was at her side, a hand wrapped around his mother’s shoulders.
“Nothing. I just want to go home, please. You stay, enjoy yourself. I’m sure your father will send the car back for you when you’re ready. Keep an eye on your sister, make sure she stays out of trouble.” She patted her son’s hand and looked at her husband.
“Are you sure?” Damion wondered, concerned.
“I’m sure. I’m just tired.” Elvira repeated, doing her best to hide her see-sawing emotions from her son.