February 7th: Shipley MansionMature

Jonathan Alexander Shipley poked his head outside in the hallway before summoning enough courage to close and lock his door.  Jonathan was not a tall man, nor was he short.  He was of a handsome height that made was rather desirable among the men of his class.  He was tall enough to be noticed among women however he did not draw attention to himself in a crowd.  At this very moment he sculpted face was twisted in a way that hinted at the turmoil that plagued his heart.

His hair was a thick mane of golden brown locks cropped above the ear, although this evening it was uncharacteristically in a state of disarray.  It seemed that everything about him tonight was in disarray.  His suit was rumpled and his breath was heavy with the smell of the rum he had been drinking.  He stood there, rigid for a moment, facing the door with his forehead pressed against the wood.  He knew his family's schedule, he was the only one in this wing of the house currently, but he couldn't help the paranoia that made him suspect someone knew what he was up to.

That he was with her here, in his room.

A bead of sweat rolled off the side of his forehead as he focused on breathing.  In a few moments he would have to do something he thought would never have the courage to do.

In the room with him was his family's maid.  She was a pretty thing, petite with a gorgeous peaches and cream complexion that complimented her long brown hair.  Her name was Brienne Gardner and she was the woman Jonathan had found himself falling in love with.  She was taken on as a servant by the family only two years prior and had proven to be as efficient with her wits as she was with her hands.  Tonight she sat on the corner of his bed in her daily uniform of black and white.  Her back was erect as she practiced proper posture and her smile was a loving, demure feature that Jonathan couldn't bring himself to look at.

Once Jonathan had closed and locked his door Brienne silently rose and appeared by his shoulder.  Her hand was warm and gentle when it landed on his shoulder.  She spoke to him in a tone that could only be described as the coo of a dove.  "My darling," her coo expressed a hint of concern, "why do you seem so stressed?"

Taking in one last breath, he allowed his hand to travel to and cover hers.  The prefectness of which it fit underneath his palm made his stomach flutter with the tentative reminder of his adoration for her.  Allowing his body to respond naturally to hers, his fingers laced between hers before he moved both of their hands off his shoulder, using the movement to allow him to turn to face her.

Before this moment, he had known exactly what he was going to say, exactly how he was going to be forced to break her fragile little heart.  It was looking into her eyes, her deep brown eyes that were so full of love trust, that made him falter.  He mumbled out a word that one might've interpreted as a curse word and shook his head in frustration.  He looked away from Brienne now, dropping her hand in an almost forceful gesture, and walked to his desk and hastily poured himself a glass of scotch, offering one to her as well.

Brienne looked at him quizzically but did not say anything.  She took the glass and helped herself to a hearty gulp.  She wasn't a true lady and, honestly, that might be why Jonathan loved her.  She didn't say anything as he finished his liquor, she simply pressed her lips into a gentle, concerned line.  Her fingers strummed on the glass as she eyed him, filling the room with a fragile tinkling melody.

Once his glass was empty, he turned his back to her yet again.  He welcomed the sound of her nails on the crystal for it offered a distraction from the ominous silence that he couldn't seem to press past.  He needed to tell her... now... the news he had just received, however he hadn't the strength without effects of alcohol clouding his mind.

Once he took a sip from the second glass he ventured to speak, turning his body in an attempt to not hide from the situation any longer."Bri... Sweetheart... something has happened and, uh, I think we aren't going to be able to stick with our plans.  I will not be marrying you."

Brienne pursed her lips into a a stricken expression.  The shock was so evident on her face that an observer would have assumed she had been slapped.  The effect was instantaneous on Jonathan.  He felt his heart breaking just as he knew hers must be, the twisting feeling in his chest intensified to the point that he wanted to scream.

"Wh-what do you mean? We can't get married?"  She breathed.  Her tone was a mixture of hurt and disgust, flat and void of the love that had been so evident only seconds before.  Her eyes had darkened and her pupils dilated as a mixture of shock and adrenaline affected her body.  Surprisingly, though, her body did not slump under the weight of his revelation.  Jonathan was taken back by how she actually seemed to stand up straighter, as if defiance would change the circumstances beyond their control.  "Is it your father?"

He didn't respond and decided it was time to finally allow himself to believe the truth.  Slowly he found his way into the chair that accompanied his desk.  He shook his head in response to her question.  "No."  He said angrily, fighting to keep his frustration out of his voice.  "He was going to let us get married... something else came up."

"What, then?"  Jonathan had already decided he was unable to look her in the eyes any more.  He was attempting to drown himself in his drink when she asked the question he knew was coming.  Her voice was cold and defeated... it was exactly as if she knew how he feared she would react.

"Do you remember that Aldridge girl.. Chelsea?"  He chose his words carefully and managed to force himself not to look at her.  She sat down as he talked but remained silent.  He figured he might as well get it all out at once.  "She's pregnant and," there was a gasp, but Jonathan heard no comment and decided to continue talking without looking over, "I'm her best friend and she doesn't know what to do.  She so afraid and doesn't want to shame her family and doesn't know what to do so I agreed to marry her."

The End

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