I shut my eyes in shame. Someone knocked but I knew who it was and didn’t bother calling them in. My father sighed and sat down on my bed.
“Luc,” he began.
“I don’t know why I did it,” I interrupted. “But what kind of answer is ‘because’?”
“It could be that she wasn’t done speaking,” he said in reason. “Control that anger.”
I shook my head. “The things she wants to talk about….”
He sighed. “Listen, I sent a letter to her sister and received this today. Perhaps this will help you understand.”
I frowned, opening my eyes as he passed me a piece of parchment. Her sister’s handwriting was shaky a little and I saw some teardrops on it.
I am sorry to hear that my sister’s insecurities are trying to take over. Know, though, that she does a wonderful job at keeping them under control. Under normal circumstances.
Our parents suffered from the same malady that your son is suffering from. In fact, that is how they met. When they gave in to their disease and stopped looking for treatment, they both became very depressed. My mother retreated into herself. My father became abusive.
Please. I don’t know what you can do to stop him, but do not let your son hit or throw something at my sister. I will not stand knowing that Persephone has to go through that again.
If you have any more specific questions, feel free to write to me.
So that’s why she got so angry when I flipped my tray….
“The letter I sent her was to ask her about why I caught Madame Petit crying in the greenhouse yesterday,” he explained, keeping an eye on my face. “I know you would never intentionally lay your hand on or harm Madame Petit, but keep in mind what Marie has just told us. I cannot make you talk to Madame Petit, but I can make sure that you be held accountable for your hand.”
“Yes, Father,” I muttered. I looked at the door separating our rooms. “Do you think she would come in to accept my apology?”
“Perhaps tomorrow,” he said. “She is very tired. We will let her rest.” He shook his head and I knew he was disappointed in me. “You may think this is incurable, but I’m starting to think otherwise. Now that we have Persephone, I do believe we have a chance.”
I searched his eyes but I didn’t see the same glimmer I was used to when he got his hopes up. So he truly believed it….
“I am glad you have found some hope,” I said, passing him the letter. “I refuse to until something changes.”
“I understand. Good night.”
“Good night, Father.”
He left and I sighed, closing my eyes. I tried to sleep but my guilt was eating away at me. I looked at the bell, wanting to ring it and ask for her forgiveness. I was also getting cold. Perhaps I could get the blanket myself?
I sat up and heard whimpering. I looked around with a frown. Was it me? I put my hand to my mouth but it was still closed. The whimpers turned to sobs and I looked at the door. I struggled to my feet, leaning against the table and then the wall.
She didn’t respond but I could tell the sobs were coming from there.
I knocked a little louder.
“Please,” she whimpered and heard her turn in her bed. “Don’t.”
I bit my lip. Was she having a nightmare? Had I brought up sensitive memories?
“Madame Petit, I’m coming in,” I said, loud enough that she would be able to hear me.
I opened the door and knew right away she was having one. The sheets were twisted around her legs and she was sweating heavily. Tears streamed down her face and I looked around helplessly. I didn’t want to touch her.
Then I saw the bottle of lotion; the lotion that smelled awful. Still using the wall for support, I squirted some onto my hand and held it under her nose. She inhaled it then gasped, her eyes shooting open. I jumped at the sudden movement.
Her eyes were terrified but calmed when she saw me.
“Are you all right?” I asked, frowning as her body shook.
“I-I’m f-fine,” she breathed. She snatched the blankets to cover her chest. “What are you doing in here, Master Luc? It is most inappropriate.”
I blushed, realizing that I would have had a very good view of her body. I cleared my throat awkwardly and showed her the lotion on my hand.
“You were having a nightmare,” I explained. “I was trying to wake you up but you didn’t respond.”
“Oh,” she muttered. “I see.” She rubbed her eyes a few times. “Are you feeling all right? Your face is flushed?”
“I’m fine,” I said quickly. “But are you?”
She managed a smile. “It was just a nightmare, Master Luc. I’ve experienced worse. Thank you for waking me up, though.”
I just nodded. I looked at her for a minute, struck suddenly by how beautiful she was. Our eyes locked and I saw my confusion mirrored in her eyes. I cleared my throat.
“Well, I should go,” I mumbled. “I’m glad you are better.”
I limped out and shut the door carefully. I grabbed the thicker blanket and collapsed onto my bed with a long sigh of relief. I was exhausted. The lotion was still on my hand so I rubbed it in gently. It soothed the small throbbing that had begun in my right hand and I closed my eyes.
The smell of my breakfast woke me up. Jacques placed the tray on my lap and I thanked him, wondering why Persephone hadn’t brought it to me.
Was she embarrassed about last night? I certainly was. It never occurred to me that women slept in different attire than men did. Even if they did, I would imagine her chest would have had more covering it.
I sighed and shook my head, trying to divert my mind from thoughts like those. They were dangerous; especially right now.
My breakfast had been cut again so either she was downstairs or told the cook to do it. My question was answered when someone knocked and she walked in. She smiled a little.
“Did it help?” she asked.
“Yes,” I mumbled. “About last night-”
“I got this for you,” she interrupted and I nodded. She passed me a leather book. “If you feel uncomfortable speaking of things with me, then speak of them to this.”
“It’s a journal,” I said, flipping through the thick pages.
“Yes. I have one just like it that I write my notes down in. It’s very liberating.”
“Thank you,” I whispered.
We both looked at the door. Elizabeth was holding a letter and Persephone nearly ran to it.
“Thank you,” she said, her voice breathless. She glanced to me. “Is it okay if I open it in here?”
I shrugged. “I suppose.”
She broke the wax seal and read the letter quickly. She covered her mouth and blinked a few times. I saw tears in her eyes and frowned, putting the journal to the side.
“Madame Petit, what is it?”
She cleared her throat. “The-The letter I have been expecting,” she whispered and looked at me. “Are you up for a walk to your father’s office?”
I frowned. “Can he not come here?”
“You need to walk today anyway,” she said.
Her voice was shaking as she summoned Jacques. She left while he helped me dress. I was getting nervous. What had been in the letter to make her so upset? Was it bad news?
When I was ready, she had composed herself. She held her journal, quill, ink, and the letter close to her chest. She led the way, walking briskly and I struggled to keep up. She knocked on my father’s study twice.
“Come in,” he said and frowned at us. “What’s going on?”
Persephone helped me sit. “I heard back from Dr. Giovani,” she whispered. “She…. Well, we have our answer.”