I turned from my place and walked down the hall, aimlessly wandering down the stairs, out the front door, and into the gardens. My thoughts only remained on Jaque's words, his chilly nature towards me, his cruel rejection of my advancement.
Throwing myself onto a bench, I could only think of how stupid I was. Why had I been so infatuated by Jacque's cool manner, mystified by his rigid indifference? My behavior was embarrassing. I couldn't believe how I did it. How ridiculously stupid I was.
A stray tear drippled down my cheek, and I wasn't anxious about brushing it away. No one would come out to look for me. I was forgettable, no one cared.
Why was I here? I just wanted to go home.
The last light was slipping below the horizon, and still I remained in my place. An hour had likely passed, but it felt like an eternity in my place of lonely seclusion. I was supremely surprised when I heard the crunch of footsteps on the pathway--my heart fluttered with hope that perhaps it may be Jacque.
"Charles?" I stuttered, standing to look Rose's former lover full in the face. I should have never believed it to be Jacque, I thought scornfully. Even if it was, I would not allow him to speak to me, the ungrateful---
"Isabelle? Miss. Isabelle Haynes?" he answered. He appeared similarly to how I felt. "What are you doing out here?"
"I could ask you the same," I retorted curtly.
He seemed to have no reply, briefly averting his eyes so he looked to the ground. Charles finally inquired, "Have you heard the news of Miss. Wells' engagement?"
"Hmm. To Mr. Ashbrook. The news of it spreads like wildfire. They speak to Mr. Wells currently. He does not appear too happy," he continued blandly, as if the words were sour on his tongue.
"I would have imagined so," I approached Charles, a pang of sympthany for the man. "But Rose shall be happy, so I hope he can resolve to be happy with that."
A silence dropped between us, and I was unsure of what to do or say next. I was surprised when Charles opened up to me in the slightest of ways, speaking in a tone ever so quiet, "I just wish I could have made her happy."
Still, I was uncertain, hesitantly placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. It was a while before he spoke again, appearing more gathered, "What of you? Why is a pretty young woman such as yourself seated alone?"
I retracted slightly, taken aback by his question and unable to muster an answer.
"Is it that Mr. Landry?"
I looked to Charles' eyes, knowing, understanding. "Well...," I stuttered. My voice started to break slightly."Yes. I-I made myself believe...I was so stupid. I was so ridiculous. I-I was so stupid, so stupid." I shook my head, hiding my face in my palms in case a few more tears may come free.
This time, Charles placed a comforting hand upon my back, taking his other to direct me back to the bench to seat myself, setting himself beside me. "Love makes fools of the best people," he murmured, reassuring me as he pushed a few stray hairs behind my ear. The intimate touch made me remove my head from my hands to meet his eyes.
"How is that supposed to make me feel better?" I said half-laughingly, attempting to rub the tears from my eyes.
"It happens to all of us," he said, alarming me a bit with his closeness. He sensed how I had stiffened slightly, and removed his hand from my back. "I am sorry," he said briskly. "Should I go?"
I swallowed, still gazing into his eyes, filled with the deep emotion of compassion. "No, it is alright," I smiled slightly. "Thank you, Charles." I inched closer to him and placed my head gently on his shoulder. He then offered a half embrace, encircling me with one of his arms. He made me feel as if I was not so alone in my feelings, and in this world, and I was thankful to him for it.