A Fallen Flower

“Thank you for coming M. and Mme. Morris.” Annabelle Rowney said, flashing her dimples at the young couple standing in front of her.
“Well, it is a pleasure Mlle. Rowney, and may I say, have a very prosperous life.” M. Morris said leaned down to kiss the woman’s hand. He straightened up, smiled at Annabelle, turned to his wife and lead her off into the boisterous crowd of the party… This memory played through Annabelle Rowney’s mind a thousand times sense that night. And in her mind she could think of hundreds of things she could have done next to prevent what had happened to her. In her imagination, she thought of what her life would have become if she hadn’t agreed to go down to that stupid lake. She prayed to God to reverse time and set things the way they were supposed to be – to the way Annabelle had planned her life to end up like. But none of the things she hoped for came true, and Annabelle had to come to terms with what had happened.

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“M. Lewis?” Annabelle asked rolling her wheelchair into the drawing room.

“Yes?” he said, quickly standing up, running a hand through his dark brown hair. “What do you want me to do miss?”

“Could you help me….” Annabelle started, her face going red. “Oh gosh, I can’t believe I’m actually asking this! Can you help me change?”  she asked, her hands flying to her auburn hair. Instantly Matthew’s face went red also, but he nodded his head anyway and started to push Annabelle’s wheelchair to her large dressing room to the side of her bedroom.

“How do you normally do this?” he asked walking around the room looking at all the dresses.

“Four maids normally help me; sense they aren’t as strong as you. And my mother thought you could do it alone.” Annabelle said blushing a little harder. “They normally take off my night gown first.” Matthew nodded.

“Of course, I should have guessed.” After a short while he looked down at Annabelle, rubbing a hand through his hair. “How do I do that?”

“Two of the maids normally pick me up while the other two hoist the night gown off me. It’s a long process.” Matthew blinked a couple times, leaned down and wrapped his arms around her waist as Annabelle wrapped her arms around his neck. As M. Lewis straightened up, Annabelle was pulled up out of the wheelchair, her feet dragging on the ground.

“Sorry.” Matthew said pulling her higher.

“It’s okay, I can’t feel my legs anyway.” Matthew paused, not knowing what to do next, but also wondering how the young Mlle. was paralyzed. After a while of trying to bend down to catch the hem of Annabelle’s night gown, Matthew gave up and set her back on the wheelchair.

“Okay, let’s try this again.” And with that Matthew bent down, grabbed the hem of the night gown, then picked Annabelle up again, and with one hand pulled the night gown upward and with the other, held the woman tightly against his body to hold her in place. “I am sorry if this is awkward for you miss.”

“Just get me out of this stinking night gown Matthew.” Annabelle said, trying to hold herself up. 

“How am I supposed to do this by myself?” M. Lewis complained, he had the night gown half way up, when his hands slipped, and Annabelle started to fall backwards until her arms locked together behind Matthew’s neck and pulled him down along with her. A squeal escaped Annabelle’s lips as her body hit the ground and Matthew landed on top her. “Oh my gosh! I am so sorry Mlle. Rowney!” Matthew said rolling off the woman. “It won’t happen again, I promise you.” Annabelle let out her breath in a huff.

“Pick me up again, Matthew.” Annabelle ordered, and Matthew complied, standing up, he picked her up bridal style. Taking the night gown in his hands, he pulled it upward. Once he got it above her chest he looked away.

“You can take if off the rest of the way miss, I don’t want to be improper.” Matthew said as Annabelle huffed and took the night gown off the rest of the way. “What dress do you want to wear today?” M. Lewis asked looking anywhere but at the girl in his arms.

“I’m thinking the yellow day dress, Matthew, and please! I’ve told you before, don’t be so proper! Call me Annabelle. If you are going to work for me that is the only rule.” Annabelle said as Matthew walked over to the yellow day dress. He picked it up slowly taking it off its hanger. “Matthew?” she asked, seeing how he was completely transfixed in the dress. M. Lewis nodded a nod that said ‘I didn’t hear anything you just said ma’am.’ “Matthew!” Annabelle yelled, clutching Matthew’s shoulder as if it she was in life threatening danger. Instantly Matthew’s grip on Annabelle tightened, his head turned so quickly his brown hair went back to its original position, covering his eyes.

“What?” He asked, searching Annabelle’s face and all around her for the danger.

“You are an idiot Matthew! I was talking to you, and you didn’t hear a word I was saying!” Annabelle yelled, and Matthew looked dumbfounded, trying to come up with an excuse. He hadn’t heard Annabelle, not even close to knowing what she had said, he was to transfixed with the soft fabric in his hand, that he completely ignored the girl in his arms. I know, rude it sounds like. But Matthew had never been in a woman’s closet, more or less touching her clothes.

“Sorry Annabelle, I got lost in train of thought.” He set Annabelle down in her wheelchair and helped put on the dress, then picking her up he pulled the dress down so it covered her whole body. “There we go miss! You are dressed!” Matthew said smiling up at Annabelle, she didn’t even give a hint of a smile.

“That took you forever M. Lewis! Next time you must be quicker if you want to keep this job.” Annabelle said promptly, crossing her arms over her chest. Matthew stood up and glared down at the woman.

“I got you undressed and dressed again alone – with no help from anyone. Not even you. You can use your arms Mlle. Rowney, you are not completely paralyzed, and I do not intend to change you again if you are going to act like a rag doll being changed.” Matthew said his blue eyes fierce. Annabelle gulped, she had never been talked to like that from anyone, not even her parents. She didn’t like the feeling and was confused. All her life, she had had servants wake her, bring her food, change her, move her around the house – even when she wasn’t in a wheelchair; and now this boy comes and declares that she has to work! To say Annabelle was flabbergasted would be the least. She was outraged, yet with no right to be, so she stayed quiet and waited for Matthew to speak again. When he said nothing, she looked around the room for an escape, and remembering tea she said promptly.

“Take me to the drawing room, I wish to have tea.” Matthew on the other-hand, was expecting an apology from the miss at the least. So when Annabelle suggested tea he stood there still waiting. “Matthew?” Annabelle asked waving a hand in the air.

“I’m waiting.” He said in a stern voice.

“For what?”

“For an apology, Miss Rowney. I did as you asked, and you blew up at me.” Annabelle’s eyes went wide.

“You fell on me!” she shot back, knowing even then, that it was a petty excuse.

“And I apologized to you; I expect you to do the same, or do you not have manners.” Matthew said crossing his arms over his chest, leaning against a shelf full of shoes. Annabelle gasped, not knowing what to reply with. She couldn’t let him win now, I mean what would happen to her reputation? Her honor? “I am not moving you anywhere until you apologize Mlle.” Annabelle scoffed trying to come up with an answer.

“You are a servant! A low life! You work for me!” she said trying to believe her own words.

“I am not a servant Mlle. Rowney, nor a low life; and I do not work for you, I work for your mother. I don’t have to like you! I am doing this for the money. So you will apologize, though I don’t think that that will completely fix the problem, Annabelle.” Matthew said sternly, glairing down at the woman in the wheelchair. Annabelle sat there and looked down at her hands which were folded properly on her lap.

“Fine Monsieur, I am sorry for acting disrespectful, but you need to learn your place; and your place is to work for me.” She said finally giving in to Matthew’s intense stare, he nodded walking behind her.

“And you need to learn manners.” He added a second later under his breath, knowing that it would just anger the woman if he said it aloud. “Miss, where would you like to go?” She looked up at Matthew, he was looking straight on, his jaw clenched.

“To the drawing room please.” She said softly, and he nodded not saying another word.

 

>Authors Note<

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