Isabelle didn’t know who I was. It was refreshing. She’d been dragged to Mother’s latest garden party by her roommate. She’d just moved to the area and hadn’t heard about the recluse in Roderick Hall. She was able to get to know me with fresh eyes and heart, but she had moved here after having her heart crushed. Her heart was not ready to let go of the man who had shattered her. She was a wonderful friend, but couldn’t see us being anything more. I planted the __ in her honor. And I mean that. It was an honor to have been her friend.
Lunch was nearly over the following day when Nigel suddenly appeared at her elbow. Robert had to stifle a giggle when she almost fell out of her chair, but it was quickly smothered when she glared at him and he quickly averted his eyes.
Nigel waited patiently while Elaina regained her composure and tucked a strand of hair behind an ear. Then he wordlessly handed her an ivory envelope, his hand encased in a pristine white glove.
“An invitation from Rose, Miss Elaina,” Nigel said formally, bowing a few inches as Elaina hesitantly took the envelope from him.
“A, er, what?” she asked, staring, befuddled, at the envelope. She looked up at Robert, who was now watching with fascinated eyes. “Is this normal?”
He blinked at her. “Normal? For my mother? I’m not sure what normal is. But if you’re asking if she’s ever done this before, the answer would have to be ‘no’.”
“Great,” Elaina muttered as she turned the envelope over in her hands. “Then you have no idea what she’s inviting me to.”
“None at all.” He made a motion for her to hurry up and open the envelope while Nigel quietly slipped away. “Open it and see what she has to say. I’m curious, too.”
Elaina wasn’t sure if she was puzzled or filled with trepidation. Either way, it wasn’t a pleasant sensation as she broke the seal. She reached in and pulled out a single sheet of ivory card stock. It bore printing in an elegant script on one side and an embossing of a rose in full bloom on the other.
Catch up on the story here.