|Romance Fiction posted October 4, 2017||Chapters:||...35 36 -36- 37...|
Danielle Faces Her Demons
A chapter in the book Forever Thine
Danielle a prostitute from New Orleans is in love with her long time friend the heir to Belle Helena Plantation. Once he finds out the truth about her he rejects her.
Chapter Thirty Six—Freedom--October 1860
Danielle moved slowly up the stairs. Her ever expanding body felt heavier today or perhaps it was her heart. Savannah’s sunny face flittered across her mind. She retrieved the portrait of her friend. It depicted Savannah as she had last seen her, happy and carefree telling her of her engagement. A sigh escaped her parted lips as she wrapped her personal present to Savannah. She had also designed the card. It was a picture of Belle Helena dressed in springtime’s most glorious array of flowers.
Your friendship always brought me sunshine when I felt the raindrops of life descend. I will always be your friend, rain or shine.
She tucked the card under the wrapping and carried it downstairs. Adele waited in the foyer and smiled at her approach.
“Ready,” she asked taking the package from Danielle and tucking it under her arm.
“I believe so.”
Edward and Sam sat in the rockers on the porch. “Our fair ladies have made their appearance. Even the sun grows dim beneath their brilliance.” Sam waxed poetically.
“Sam, you clown,” Adele said as he helped her into the carriage.
Danielle and Edward seated themselves as the driver flicked his whip and moved down the dirt lane.
The day was beautiful. A smattering of clouds graced the panoramic canvas of the vast blue sky. The temperature held enough crisp, clean air to make it pleasant but not unduly cold. A gorgeous day for a wedding. They joined the line of carriages in the drive.
“Would it be all right if Edward and I got out here?”
“Why of course.” Samuel rapped on the top of the carriage.
“Our young guest will alight here.”
“Thank you. I want to see Celie before all the festivities. Save us a couple of seats.”
Edward opened the door and helped Danielle down. She took his hand and led him along the front lawn. To the left of the house stood a line of towering cypress trees and a small cemetery beyond. The leave-strewn ground crunched under their feet. Danielle came to a stop and dropped to her knees before the graves of her parents. She brushed the dried leaves away with her gloved hand.
“Mother, father, I’d like you to meet my wonderful, adoring husband, Edward.” Danielle grasped his hand and stared up at his face.
He joined her. “Thank you for the most precious gift you could have ever given me, your daughter.” He leaned in and kissed her. A hungry, devouring kiss which took her breath away.
“Oh, Edward.” She clung to him, her heart pounding in her ears.
He forgot where they were for the moment and cupped one breast. He pulled away his breathing ragged. “I forget myself, Danielle.” He apologized.
“Don’t Edward. I want you just as badly. Later, I promise you. You can make love to me until the sun comes up and then again a thousand times more.” She captured his lips with their sweet warmth.
He helped Danielle to her feet and she swayed against him. His hand pressed against her back and drew her nearer. “I love you with every fiber of my being. Remember that always.”
She reached up and touched his face. “Always.”
He released her. Danielle immediately missed the warmth of his body. She took his hand and led him to a run down shanty, amongst the fifty or more that looked just the same. The only distinguishing factor was the rocker on the porch.
Danielle knocked. “Mama Celie, it’s Danielle.”
“Danielle?” An ancient voice spoke from the darkened interior.
It took a moment for their eyes to adjust to the darkness. “Mama.” Danielle flew to the bed and knelt on the floor beside it.
“That you, child?” Her hand searched the air until she touched Danielle’s face. “Hows ya been? Its been so long since I’s seen ya.”
Danielle captured Celie’s hand and brought it to her lips and stared at her sightless eyes. “I’m married, Mama.” She motioned for Edward to come near. “This here is my husband, Edward.”
“Hello, Celie. Danielle has told me so much about you. I feel we are old friends.” He took the other hand within his own.
“What a smooth talker you are.” Celie laughed. “I hope yous good enough for my Danielle.”
“Oh Celie, he’s wonderful. I have another surprise for you.” She placed Celie’s hand on her stomach.
“My goodness.” Celie sighed. “When?”
“Mid February or somewhere there about.”
“I saids I’s live to see ya childrens,” she stated. “Ifs only these darn eyes of mine wasn’t so clouded.”
“Come home with us Celie. I’m sure the master and mistress would be willing to part with you.”
“Do you think?” She beamed.
“Edward will speak to Mr. Chatellier. Some arrangement can be made.”
“I’ll see to it, Celie,” Edward replied.
“I’s heard what those terrible people did to ya, child. Nothings secret that goes on in the big house. Chloe, the house maid, she tells me what those two evil people did ya. They braggs about it when they alone and she heard the terrible things they does to ya. They shoulds burn in hell. How can Savannah and Reynaldo marry those two thieving, lying excuses for genuine people?
“Because Savannah loves Joel and I guess Reynaldo loves Roberta,” Danielle stated flatly.
“Love.” Celie huffed. “Ain’ts love those two Hampton’s have for the Chatelliers children, its their money. Reynaldo ain’t never gonna loves someone the ways he loves ya. He’s just fooling himself and will live to regret it. Mark my words,” Celie firmly stated.
“It’s too late. Reynaldo renounced me in front of Savannah and the Hampton’s once the truth was out. Love is a fickle as the weather and apparently Reynaldo is the same.”
“Waits and sees, that boy is gonna wake up and realize his mistake. Gonna ruin the rest of his life.”
“That was his decision and he must live with it. We must go, Celie. I’ll see you after Edward talks to Mr. Chatellier. Love you, Mama.” She bent and kissed the ebony cheek.
They left the cabin and headed back towards the rows of chairs which had been set up beneath the sprawling oak trees. “You will talk to him about Celie?”
They found Sam and Adele and took the seats next to them. There must have been three hundred people present. Danielle stared at the ones closest to them but she didn’t recognize anyone. The music started. Everyone turned including Danielle.
Savannah made a beautiful bride. Her strawberry blonde hair was swept back into a cascade of delicate ringlets. Tears formed in Danielle’s eyes as Savannah passed. She cringed as Savannah took Joel’s hand. Danielle fought the revulsion as he brought her hand to his thin lips.
The music sounded again but she did not turn to look. Her eyes were focused on the man who had ripped her heart into tiny shards. Reynaldo stood beside Savannah as he waited for Roberta. His somber face devoid of life. Is he remorseful? Danielle almost felt sorry for him.
Roberta, though beautiful, never gave off the warmth that so much affected people when they were around Savannah. She listened distractedly to the vows. Her mind was focused on the reception afterwards. She would come face to face with her two nemeses and Reynaldo. Savannah, she was sure, would be glad to see her.
The ceremony took thirty minutes, after which, everyone joined the reception line to meet the new brides and their grooms.
Edward cupped her elbow with his hand. “How are you doing?” His concerned gaze took in her flushed features.
“Better than I expected with both Joel and Reynaldo so near.”
“I’m right beside you, never fear.”
She smiled up at him. Edward edged in front of her and blocked her from the rest of the wedding party as they stepped in front of Andre and Charlotte.
“Dr Campbell. How good of you to come.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Chatellier. May I present my wife, Danielle.”
A tiny gasp escaped the older woman’s lips before she could stop it. “Danielle,” she replied, physically shaken.
Andre shook Edward’s hand, but refused to look Danielle in the eyes.
Savannah was next. She looked up and exclaimed, “Danielle, I can’t believe you’re actually here.” She threw her arms around Danielle’s neck. Her voice carried and Reynaldo’s head shot up. “Oh my, your pregnant.” She gushed, touching Danielle’s swollen abdomen.
Danielle laughed and pulled back. “Yes, this is my husband, Edward.”
“Dr. Campbell?” She stared from Danielle to Edward.
“I attended to you once Miss Savannah when you had broken your leg, riding I believe.”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s so good to see you again.”
“Well, my dear, we seem to be tying up the line.” Edward moved Danielle pass Joel without a glance.
“I’ll see you later,” Savannah called.
Danielle swallowed the knot in her throat as she went to congratulate Roberta.
A smug smile played along Roberta’s lips. The coldness in her eyes was glacial. Reynaldo stood as motionless as a marble stature beside her. His face a mask of stony indifference.
“I see you finally won the big prize? Is it as you thought it would be, now that you are Mrs. Reynaldo Chatellier?” Danielle couldn’t keep the bitterness from her tone. She saw Reynaldo flinch out the corner of her eye.
Edward’s arm tightened around her waist as they stepped in front of Reynaldo. Danielle was immediately sorry for her outburst seeing the tortured look in his eyes. She kissed him on the cheek and stepped back. “Edward, I’d like you to meet my old friend, Reynaldo.”
Edward extended his hand and Reynaldo shook it. “It is a pleasure. My wife has spoken of you and Savannah often.”
“We were the best of friends,” he replied. His eyes drank in Danielle’s lovely features like a drowning man seeks a means of escape from the raging maelstrom that is pulling him under. “My I claim a dance with your wife later?”
“If Danielle feels up to it in her condition.”
Reynaldo glanced down at her stomach and blanched.
“I’m sure a few circles around the dance floor won’t hurt me.” Danielle laughed. Her tinkling laughter drifted back to him. Like tiny shads of glass the sound imbedded into his soul and left it bleeding. His eyes followed her. He heard Roberta’s sharp intake of breath but he didn’t care. He had wronged Danielle. This was his punishment. A punishment he would have to live with the rest of his life.
Danielle breathed again once they moved away.
“I have to say you are a stronger woman than I am a man.”
Danielle laughed again, a laugh of freedom. Edward recognized the sound and gathered her into his arms. “I love you.”
“And I you. Oh Edward, it’s good to be free.”
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