Diana was impressed as the carriage entered the Byron’s property. A huge Victorian mansion completed the green landscape at the end of the lawn. She observed the house in amazement. It was beautiful indeed. Still, she couldn’t forget why she was there. As the carriage stopped in front of the main door, her father descended from it and gave her his hand to help her out too. She didn’t look in his eyes nor did she pronounce a word. Constantine sighed in sadness but he knew he was doing this for the best.
“Lady Davenport…” A woman bowed receiving them at the door. Though mad she didn’t forget her manners and bowed in front of the woman as well. Diana recognized her dress as being made of the finest fabrics that came from Paris. She had to be the boy’s mother she thought. “I am Julia Byron.” She introduced herself, revealing Diana’s suspicious to be true. She shuddered while imagining lord Byron being extremely ugly, arrogant as distasteful. How could her father be doing something like this?
“It’s a pleasure to meet you my lady.” Diana bowed again and offered the woman a smile, keeping the appearances not to embarrass her father.
“Come inside. Tea is being served in the saloon. Jack will be down in a minute.”
Diana sat a table with the finest china she had ever seen. She noticed how everything was settled for her to be impressed. Constantine talked cheerfully with Julia and Diana stared at everything around her. There was no doubt that family was rich. She saw Lady Byron merrily talking to Constantine and quivered at another nasty thought about her son.
“Ah!” The woman exclaimed with a grin. “There you are Jack.”
Diana felt her heart racing fast. She didn’t want to look back at the door and face the man her father had arranged her to marry with. Jack was like frozen at the door. He had never seen Diana and he didn’t approve the way things were being done. He, also, wanted to get married for love, but his parents had given him an ultimatum. It was his time. Just like Diana, he expected her to be hideous.
“Come on in Jack.” Julia gave him his arm and Diana got up, still with her back turned at him. “Come meet lady Davenport.” Julia said and that moment, feeling her heart racing franticly, she took the courage to look back.
Her heart missed a beat when her eyes hit his. Jack’s heart did too. He was tall, slim, broad shoulders, with a bit of a red hair and astonishing blue eyes. Jack was astonishing. She would swear he was as pale as James was. Diana was marveled with Jack’s beauty. He was nothing like she had expected him to be. Jack stared at her in an awe. He never expected Diana to be that beautiful. She was the most beautiful woman he had met so far. Her blue eyes stared at his and he got lost in her gaze for those seconds. His heart began to beat fast and his lips opened a smile slowly.
“My lady…” He finally said in deep hoarse voice, and bowed. Diana extended him his hand and he softly kissed it. His lips were warm, tough it was just a softly brush.
“My lord…” She then greeted him back and offered him a smile too.
“This is my son lady Davenport.” Julia added, though she didn’t have to. Both Constantine and Julia smiled at each other seeing the couple’s reaction to one another. “Jack, why don’t you take lady Davenport for a walk in our garden and show her the property.” His mother suggested.
“Would you like to?” He asked and again his hoarse but soft and tender voice made her shudder.
“It would be a pleasure.” She said. Diana condemned herself for saying yes, but she was curious about that mysterious red hair man. Jack looked so mysterious to her and at the same time sweet.
“Are you relative with the poet?” She asked him breaking the silence and he laughed a little. She liked the sound of his laughter.
“No, we only share the same name.” He said. “Though I would love to, Byron is a wonderful poet.”
“You like him?” Diana asked surprised.
“I adore him.” He affirmed while walking slowly through the paths of his gigantic garden. The property was beautiful.
“I do too.” Diana told him.
“You can read?” He asked her surprised as usually women didn’t know how to read.
“I can yes. My master and my father educated me, and I am glad because I love to sit down and read poetry.” Jack stared at her marveled. She was not just a woman, that regular woman who was raised to serve her husband, be a good mother and wife and housekeeper. Diana was educated and he could share with her his passion for literature and history and share stories he had read.
“Who is your favorite?” He asked her interested.
“Percy Shelley.” She said proudly and a sigh escaped her puffy lips. ”He is wonderful.” Jack stopped and placed himself in front of her, making her jump a little with the surprise to have her way blocked by him. He was probably James size she compared as she stood in front of him, and then looked at his face. She was amazed again with his beauty and waited for what was about to come.
“(…)Now--now it loftier swells--again stern woe
Arises with the awakening melody.
Again fierce torments, such as demons know,
In bitterer, feller tide, on this torn bosom flow.(…)”
She pierced his eyes with hers as he recited a poem to her. His voice lullabying her sweetly. She could stare into his blue eyes forever, there was this glitter that captivated her. “Despair…” She breathed touched by the way he recited the poem to her. “It’s one of my favorites.”
“Mine too.” He said and then continued walking.
Unexpectedly they walked for more than an hour and share their tastes in literature and then discussed some historical facts. It went better than they both expected and when her father called her, Jack grabbed her arm.
“May I visit you tomorrow?” He asked her and she was caught by surprise with his request, but she nodded.
“Yes.” She said. Diana had enjoyed his company.
Daughter and father came back to the palace without sharing a word. Though Constantine knew Diana had liked Jack’s company. Her thoughts were a bit mixed with the fact that she loved another man, her master, deeply, but she had liked Jack’s company for sure. When the carriage arrived at the palace, Diana descended it without her father’s help. Constantine thought there that she was still mad at him, but then she turned around.
“Lord Byron is coming to visit me tomorrow after lunch.” She announced and turned around, beginning to walk away.
Constantine smiled. It was the first time his daughter allowed a man to visit her. Maybe things would turn out well for sure, for he worried about her relationship with his master. He knew lord Smith was in love with her, and he would be delighted for him to marry his daughter if he wasn’t what he knew he was.
At night, in the dining room, there was only James and Constantine at the table. That night he ordered his daughter not to have dinner with them. Muttering and cursing she stayed alone in her room and obeyed her father’s orders, though she’d escape when everyone was sleeping. James stared at Constantine while he ate, that was not normal, nor did he remember it happening unless he had given orders for it. It wasn’t the case.
“Where is Diana?” He asked curling an eyebrow. It was time to ask and stop making calculations inside his mind. He was still his master and Constantine the servant and her absence disquieted him more than he wanted.
“In her room.” Constantine said.
“Is she ill?” James asked then.
“No…I didn’t give her permission to join us today.” The butler told him. James clenched his jaw in fury and stared at the man. How could he have done something like that? He liked Diana’s company. He was his master and he should please him. Diana was the part that made him feel human.
“Why not?” He asked with an arrogant tone. Constantine did not fear his master and looked straight in his cold blue eyes. Ice blue that very second.
“You know why.”
“Constantine, I am not recognizing you.” James argued, though he knew he had betrayed his friend’s trust unashamedly.
“My lord…I am sorry, but Diana has grown up. I see the way she looks at you and the way you look at her too, I am a man…I know things…I cannot allow you to get close to my daughter. I need to protect her and I do not have to explain to you why. I have served you for all these years and I am loyal, but I have to make sure you remain loyal too.”
James’ rage was even stronger now. He was feeling his body heat with the fury that was assaulting him. How dare he? “I have never been disloyal!” He lied but he obviously couldn’t tell him the truth.
“I’ve taken her to meet a man today. He’s coming here to visit her.” Constantine added the news. James leaned against the chair and smiled defiantly at his butler. Things were getting on another level now, but Constantine didn’t fear him and stared back at him.
“She will not receive him and you know that.” James told him but surprisingly Constantine shook his head and he lost the smile he had on his lips.
“It was her choice to receive him my lord…” The man announced.
James tensed. His muscles became rigid. That was another thing. Diana allowing a man to visit her was something new. What had happened? “Are you sure?”
Constantine got up, having finished his dinner. “I am sure my lord.” He said. “It is better if she gets married.”
James nodded. “Yes.” He said. He had to agree with him but deep inside he wasn’t so sure. As Constantine left, he pulled the cloth off the table and the china smashed on the ground, a loud groan echoed in the dining room. Constantine heard it all and he knew his master was raging, but that had to be done and he had to agree with it.
“I will kill him.” James groaned.
Constantine came back. “Is everything alright my lord?” He asked. James hated him that moment for such cynicism but took a deep breath and nodded.
“Yes. You can go.” James told him trying to breathe normally. His chest was coming up and down franticly. He could bite his butler dead that very moment.
“It is the best for her.” Constantine added. His voice was one of condescending, trying to make him understand.
“Sure.” James said still trying to control his will. His fists clenched. Constantine’s eyes stopped on them and then he looked up in the icy blue eyes one more time.
“She should get married. We both know it and Lord Byron is just the perfect candidate.” Constantine insisted.
«James grated his teeth and his eyes rolled of impatience. Constantine knew he was going to yell out loud. An animalistic groan escaped his throat and the butler gave two steps back. “GO AWAY!” He yelled at the top of his lungs. Constantine shuddered at his thunderous voice. His master had never yelled at him that way, nor had he seen him so altered. He turned around and left without saying anything else. “I need to go out.” He said grabbing his tall hat. He felt like suffocating and needed to let out all that fury.