S: AHEM… surely our calendars are lying liars and it isn’t really July.
K: Those ishes may have been a wee longer than we ever anticipated.
S: Did you bring a shield, cause I’m pretty damn sure those are flying jootes coming at – FUCK!
K: Did you guys have to include overripe tomatoes? I’m way fond of this outfit!
S: Nothing like a splatter of red to liven up a white dress. 😛
K: Jokes aside, we have really really missed midnight ink dips and our beloved Peanut Gallery.
S: So much so that your avatars even have starring roles in my
K: Hee. Recently the writing bug has been particularly strong. Although I must confess there was much hesitation in picking up the pen again after such a long absence.
S: Unfortunately, memory of what constitutes proper grammar has only deteriorated over the past year and run on sentences refuse to acknowledge repeated ass kicking. However, we hope that there are still kindred souls lingering about.
K: If yes, please join us in this new (short-ish) adventure. 😉
S: We won’t even pretend there’s a schedule. (Heads dip in shame)
K: Without further ado, S & K Adventures would like to present to you the beginning of
S: Unmasking a Duel of Silhouettes!
But hold up, there’s some more ado….
This story’s humble beginnings came about nearly 2 years ago. We’ve been mulling over the concept for a loooooong time and ultimately decided to pay a visit to the Regency era. Do keep in mind that historical accuracy is going to be grossly fudged as we attempt to meld it with ingredients from a tellywood serial.
K: Basically we expect you to turn a blind eye. 😛
S: Exactly! Now, enough chit chat – let’s delve! (Do let us know how you guy’s been doing – any grand adventures? new obsessions?)
“What is the urgent force behind the request for an immediate audience with your beloved husband?”
It took years of practice to keep her body from reacting to the direct gaze of sweltering whiskey, innumerable icy rejections to condition her thirsty gaze from lingering on the planes of bronze perfection. Inhaling sharply she forced words that blistered her core in mere thought past a too tight throat.
“I wish for a divorce.”
The hands in her lap clenched and unclenched in the unnerving stillness that greeted her stark plea. Silence enveloped the colossal room, enfolding them in a strange intimacy.
Her lashes swept down, breaking contact from those piercing eyes, grateful the words had formed without tremors that would betray the turmoil roiling beneath chilled skin. So little of her pride remained, she needed to cling to this last sliver of dignity.
Yet, even that bit of pride was denied by the man sitting with proud authority across the buffer of solid rosewood. The study was the only room she was permitted entry that was always encased in a magnetic blend of cedar, sunshine and man, with just a hint of smoke.
How many excuses had she found in past evenings to linger beside the rows of thick tomes that lined the walls just to luxuriate in it? Now, she found herself barely breathing, a feeble attempt at keeping the potency from deluging her senses.
“Surely you are aware I have far more urgent duties to attend to than to indulge in this jest. What is the real purpose of this meeting, do you require additional funds? A new trinket for the upcoming -”
“I want nothing from you,” she interrupted fiercely, “Nothing except to be freed from this .. this….. perverse arrangement!”
A brow lifted in mocking query. “Perverse arrangement? Why my Duchess, was it not you who extolled the sanctity of marriage to me? What has changed?”
“Do not call me that.”
“It’s what you are, the title you wanted,” he sneered, “The Duchess of Shantivan.”
“Yes, the Duchess of Shantivan,” she repeated dully. “But I’m not your duchess, nor am I your wife. I refuse to subject myself to further torments by remaining a partner to this falsehood.”
“Three years ago I gave you a choice!” he snapped, temper flaring. “You chose to live this farce! Forgive me if I don’t indulge in yet another whim.”
Because I’d hoped! She cried silently.
He had not lied, had in fact expressed in stark terms the exact reality of how their marriage would be. Six months before their nuptial he had arranged a private meeting to propose a clean exit from parental pressures. Without forethought she’d dismissed the offer.
She had naively believed that time would allow opportunities to carve a corner in an ever elusive heart for herself. The long empty years of impersonal cohabitation that followed had disabused even the most stubborn sparks of hope.
Giving a last twist to her ring finger, she rose. Even now every limb screeched in protest as she stood before his imposing figure, her ribcage aching against the near constant hammering of a heavy heart.
Arnav Singh Raizada, 7th Duke of Shantivan; her husband in name, but nothing more, never to be anything more.
He was not truly handsome. His features too distinguished and boldly carved to fit society’s tepid mold of male beauty. Raven locks with just a hint of unruly curls at his nape set off high cheekbones and an aristocratic nose. Beneath strong brows, impossibly thick lashes framed eyes that shifted from rich earth to deep amber at the turn of his mood.
His body held an indomitable vitality that had always made her acutely aware of the differences between men and women. But it was the sensual shape of full lips bracketed by harsh lines that had robbed her of breath upon their first encounter.
For a moment her resolve faltered. Surely to have a piece of him would be better than nothing? To remain as they were, to live within this estate if not his chambers, to share the responsibilities if not his love, to be at the edge of his life if not at its center.
Ashamed of her thoughts, afraid she would give in to them, she turned to the hearth.
Once. Only once had she seen those solemn lines melt into a gentle curve. Whatever… whoever he was thinking of had painted tenderness over aloof features. Even from a distance, his smile was the most beautiful sight she’d ever beheld and it had stirred within her a soul deep yearning.
The world had come to a standstill, a secret wish of once-upon-a-time birthed within those splintered seconds. Over the years she had entertained more than one fantasy of looking up to see that tenderness bestowed upon her. It became a golden memory she had drawn succor from during long nights of quiet despair, until realization had come that she’d fallen victim to a cruel trick of fate – a witness to that beauty, yet never to be at the receiving end of its glory.
An impatient strum of knuckles drew her gaze from the glowing embers to the only man she’d ever coveted.
Something ugly lurched as she searched his face, desperate for an elusive something to cling to. The blankness did not waver, only growing ever more impatient. It was this indifference that helped refortify the walls she had carefully constructed around herself as she’d paced her chamber day after day in preparation for this meeting.
Burying the tattered remnants of a young girl’s daydreams, she addressed him, “I apologize for the inconvenience I’ve caused you, Your Grace. I propose a separation until you find the appropriate time to inform your family and file the petition for divorce.”
Forcing her eyes to meet his, she took another step, placing her most cherished possession at the edge of polished wood surface.
“My belongings are packed. I shall leave the estate this evening. As there’s no need for further communications, this…” her voice faltered, sinking to a near whisper, “this is goodbye.”
Shall we continue to consider retirement? 😛