My mother and Mirabelle have been fussing over everything all week and it was driving me crazy. They had my walk-in closet cleaned out yesterday and they delivered my clothes to Sebastian’s villa in Kensington. My home from tomorrow.
Heck, from today.
I haven’t been able to sleep a wink because of nerves. Sebastian and I have been keeping our distance from one another since our kiss in his office, not that I mind! He threw me for a loop with that kiss, and I haven’t been able to think straight since it happened. At our rehearsal dinner, we were amiable, but as soon as it ended we went our separate ways. We barely made eye contact, and I think Sebastian was as awkward as I was.
Rolling around under my covers, I sigh in frustration and decide to give up.
The public had suspected something had happened, but the news outlets were too scared to report anything bad about the Dumonts. So now they were only rumours, which they were hoping the wedding would put to rest.
Eliana has not contacted me since she left here with Robert, either out of guilt or she just didn’t care that she basically ruined my life and future. We had always been close, I would tell her everything and vice versa. I knew something was wrong, I could feel it but Eliana refused to tell me. She probably thought I would judge her for her choices.
I grab my phone from the bedside table and decide to check my emails. I haven’t really kept in contact with everyone since this all transpired, so I wasn’t sure what was going on with everyone.
Opening my emails, my heart jumped into my throat.
There was actually an email from Eliana, sent a few weeks ago.
I know I am the last person you wish to hear from. Please know that I did not intend for all of this to happen, especially not for you to marry Sebastian in my place. I love Robert with all my heart and want to spend the rest of my life with him.
I was never in love with Sebastian, but I know he loves me dearly. It was a relationship of convenience that mother arranged because of the Dumont name. She wanted our families to merge since we were born; she told me this herself. So when she set up the meeting three years ago, I went ahead with it to please her. She knew you would never agree to it, because you were a lot more free spirited than I was. Your stubborn nature kept you out of an arranged marriage, and now my choice will lead you into one.
I am so sorry, Elena. I hope one day you can forgive me for what I have done.
Tears were prickling my eyes as I re-read her letter, sent the day after he left with Robert. My sister felt the Wiltshire burden even more than me because she was seen as the lady of the family who would make my parents proud. As it turns out, she had never loved Sebastian. This would surely deal the final blow to him, as I know he absolutely adored her and worshipped the ground she walked on.
I dab my eyes and take a deep breath, suddenly feeling exhausted. I would have understood if she came to me about everything and been there for her. She had been suffering for over a year now, and she probably felt all alone as well.
Snuggling underneath my blankets, I exhale and close my eyes, willing sleep to take me.
“ELENA! Gosh, only you would sleep in on your wedding day!”
Opening my eyes, I see the livid face of my mother peering down at me. I shoot up out of bed and run towards my floor-length mirror.
IT’S MY WEDDING TODAY AND I LOOK LIKE CRAP.
Heavy bags took up occupancy underneath my eyes, and my skin has lost its youthful pallor. I turn towards my mother, looking horrified. “I hope the make-up artist can work his magic, because I look like shit.”
“Language, Elena! You are a lady now, soon to be a Dumont so you would need to act like one.” My mother exclaims as she walks towards me, turning my face this way and that, “Did you not sleep last night?” she asks suddenly, a frown creasing her already taught skin.
I shake my head, “Wedding jitters, mother,” I respond and she sighs, a smile crossing her face. “I understand. Elena, you do not know how strong you are for going through with this. Thank you.”
Gosh, if I knew sacrificing my happiness and free will would get me my mother’s respect and love, I would have done so long ago.
I give her a hug and sigh, “Let’s get this show on the road, shall we?” I say, returning her smile and she nods. “Jean-Pierre and Sasha are downstairs waiting. I’ll call them up when you’re a bit more decent. Let’s get you showered and into your corset and undergarments. A light breakfast will be brought up shortly.”
Then my mother turns and strides out of the room. Ah. Is this how Eliana always used to get treated? My mother’s love seems to shift whenever someone suits her needs. What a mom.
20 minutes later, I am showered and slathered in expensive oils and perfumes. My mother helps me into my corset and I force down my light fruit salad breakfast; the nerves are killing me slowly.
Sasha walks in first, frowning at my limp hair, “Elena! Have you been neglecting your hair and eating junk?!” She reprimands me and I cower at her fierceness. She was 1.55mm, blonde hair in a pixie cut and blue eyes shimmering with anger. She may be small, but gosh this woman was hellfire on two legs.
I nod then promise her to take better care of myself and tell her it was the stress from the past 2 months that was getting to me. She grudgingly accepts my excuse, then gets to work on my hair.
Two hours later, and my hair glowed and looked so much healthier: voluminous curls that were swooped to one side in a side path and jewelled hair clip pinned to the nape of my neck.
Staring in awe, I thank her, and she wraps me in a hug, wishing me well.
My mother then calls Jean-Pierre in, and he nearly faints at my bedroom door when he sees my complexion. He vigorously makes a checklist of the products I need to buy to bring my glow back, makeup and facial products included. My mother tells him to order them and have them sent over to Sebastian’s villa within the week.
As he gets to work on my face, I start to see my usual self emerge from under the stress lines and airport luggage department under my eyes. That and then some Jean-Pierre makes me look beautiful.
I stare in awe at my reflection in the mirror, “Magnifique!” my mother gushes as plants a kiss on his cheek. “You truly are an artist, Jean-Pierre.” I say and beam at him.
He makes a show of taking a bow and collects all his things while my mother reminds him of the products that needed to be sent to Sebastian’s place. He nods at her, then plants a kiss on my forehead when he is done, “Good luck, Elena. You were the obvious choice for this wedding, anyway.” He says in his lovely French drawl, then winks at my shocked expression. With a few more flounces, he leaves my room.
What did he mean by that?
Putting his comment out of my mind, I saunter towards my wedding dress, and slip into it, minding my hair and make-up. Good thing this dress had a zip on the side or I would need to ask my mother for help. Then I smooth the dress down and take a deep breath.
I turn and face my floor-length mirror, noticing my mother linger at the door, looking highly uncomfortable. She was dressed in a beautiful powder blue evening gown that swept the floor, making her look as if she was floating. Sasha pinned her hair up in a Grecian updo braid with strands framing her face. She stands behind me and smiles, and I notice tears brimming her eyes.
Wow, wonder what’s got her in such a motherly mood today.
Oh, wait. I’m her one-way ticket into a powerful family, how could I forget?
She eyes me with what I can only assume was pride and I gesture to my wedding dress, “I guess I made an excellent choice, didn’t I?” I say with a laugh and a tear falls down my mother’s cheek.
“No, Elena. I am okay. This is your day, do not make it about me.” She says and I almost make a snide remark but hold my tongue. I nod with a tight smile and she looks at me again. “This was going to be given to Eliana when she got married. It was mine and my mother’s before me.” he says and hands me a red velvet box with an ornate W on the front. When she opened it, nestled in pillows of silk, was a beautiful blue sapphire teardrop necklace. Diamonds were hugging the precious stone’s shape and held together by white gold.
I look up at my mother with my mouth agape. This was Nanna’s necklace. It was never going to be given to me on my wedding day, but Eliana. I was the second choice for Sebastian as well as my mother.
Swallowing the bitter thoughts down, I allow my mother to put the necklace around my neck and she beams at me.
“Let’s get this wedding going then.” I say sadly as I slip on my Mary Jane Louboutin heels.