Forum Life

I heard a lot about forums and stuff but never tried to visit or join one. I have this site where I read stuff, it has forums and members, I was hesitant at first but after visiting the site for Two months I decided to get registered, free registration actually.  Fixed up my profile, posted pictures, sketches, joined groups and started visiting the forums. I found myself posting replies to the games and got hooked. Then I started to have friends, spending the usual reading time (online) with them chatting, exchanging stories and opinions on stuff, comments and reviews. I then got myself so involved in their “personal lives” yet always having the benefit of the doubt. Is he/she telling the truth? I really found most of my so-called online friends truthful but there are still people who’d make up stories after stories. Some I even received emails from their personal accounts, even knew their real names and their life stories. We get to share a lot of things in their “real world” too. But when I visit other threads where they also post, I get to see the other side of the mask, their mask…how they perceive things, how open-minded they are and who they really are…I guess it’s all in the matter of what you want others to see you as…or what you want to tell others, what you want to share with them…the real life or the forum life. So the question is right now…which side of ME have I really shown them?


Chapter 9 : Unexpected Outcome

It was such a very trying 5 years for me since I reunited with Charlie. He never recovered from his selective amnesia, he remembered well how to run his empire and how to dance but he never remembered who I am. He never accepted and treated me as his wife nor friend, whenever I am around he would be so irritable and annoyed, he often show despise and distraught, I could not believe that this is my Charlie, my husband. But all those five years I never showed him that it bothered me, I showed more love and affection. My patience was always being tried. I did everything that we usually enjoyed before, breakfast in the garden, I would play the pianoforte, I would take him to The Crypt with me at nights and dance for a couple of hours. I would even serve him his favorite meal everyday. I can see all the servants and security aids pitying me especially Bruce who always was at my side giving me hope each day and strength with his encouraging words of wisdom. One day I just received a message from Charlie’s lawyer asking for an audience. He gave the news to me straight and hard when I met him, “Please sign this Madame Graham, Mr. Graham is filing for a divorce, he could not continue living with a woman whom he claims to be a stranger. He also will take care of the 7 years that you spent married to him with monetary consolation and your favorite resort in Hawaii. He also ask that you not fight his request anymore for both party’s benefit. The private jet will take you straight to France where your entourage will be waiting your personal things are taken cared of as we speak and will be sent to your villa by tomorrow morning.I deeply regret to be the bearer of these news Valerie, I know how you suffered all these years and how you truly cared for Charles.” I signed the papers, left the package of consolation and shook the lawyer’s hand and left without a word.
The gravity of my divorce only hit me when I arrive that noon at the château, “home sweet home” I exhaled.  I went straight to ask the chef of the main house for his best bottle of red wine and took a glass with me, started drinking in solitary confinement of the Blue Rose garden. It was close to eleven that evening when I turned around and saw Alec staring at me from the opening of the maze. “It’s such a pity for a lady to finish a bottle of the best alone. The servants told me you’ve been out here since noon and haven’t touched your food yet that’s your second bottle.”  He close in the distance and gave me a gentle kiss on the cheek, “How are you cheri? I am so sorry for not being the one to welcome you back, I finished most of the week’s transaction reports on Le Blanc so I could spend this week with you.”  He gently took the empty bottle of my hand and led me to the secret path through my villa. “Cheri I believe you need to rest now and tomorrow we will have a very busy day. But if you want to talk about “it” I’d be willing to listen.” I guess it’s the influence of the alcohol in my blood, I just decided to drag Alec at the back of the villa to the gazebo. “Dance with me Monsieur Mowatt, tonight we will relive our days at The Crypt, remember the music that we danced to when we won the contest? I can hear the music playing now Alec, my body is aching for the old times. Feel the music at it moves your body Alec…” We dance that instant in unison, the same Argentine Tango that we danced at The Crypt on the night of the contest. We won that night, it was my first. Alec and I danced as if it was just yesterday, flawless and the intense feeling still there. The ending was a dip and after that was supposedly a deep passionate kiss, but unexpectedly I passed out. Alec carried me to my room and put me to bed. He was about to kiss me on the lips when he heard me murmured “I love you, Charlie” and tears escaped my eyes. He wiped those tears and kissed my forehead instead and left me.
True to his word Alec spent the week with me, entertaining me taking me to museums, restaurants, plays and concerts. I momentarily felt so relieved but on the seventh night I had a very brief and sincere talk with Alec pouring out my feelings yet I am now resolved and will start moving on. I will now also start helping Alec running Le Blanc.

The next couple of months passed quickly with Alec keeping me in tow, we would visit all the partners and branches, within France and abroad. He also helped me arranged a meeting with Charlie’s lawyer, I returned the monetary consolation and the deed of the resort at Hawaii that they sent together with my luggage. I was enjoying the business world now, Alec taught me everything I need to know. It was sooner than I’ve expected when Alec reintroduced me in the empire, gathered all the new board of directors, CEOs, partners and managers under Le Blanc empire. He then turned over everything to my care but still under his supervision. My world now was the empire and it kept me busy enough to think of my past I was enjoying every single day of it, yet from time to time Alec would update me with the outside world and drag me out of my office and take me to an amusement park or museum or the beach for me to relax and loosen up a bit.

On my 30th birthday he took me to Mount Ruapehu, New Zealand. I get to buy my first set of  ski, the experience was so magnificent, I never wanted to leave that place. It was a very nice winter get-away/ birthday present to receive from Alec. We were check in at Bayview Chateau Tongariro, dined at their restaurant and had a night-cap at our adjoining suites. We were drinking wine and sharing old stories of childhood when I remembered my surprise gift. I stood up went to my bedside table and grabbed a wooden box. “This is my very belated birthday gift for you, Happy 30th birthday! I’m really sorry for being so late, I did not forget your birthday but I was so engrossed with work I never stepped out of the office to buy your gift. I hope you like it.” Alec opened the box and was smiling when he took out the gold-plated pocket watch with a matching 24k gold chain, he read the inscription out loud, “to my mentor, hero and mon ami…toujours Valerie“.  He was now teary eyed, embraced me and said “merci, merci cheri”. “Why are you frowning Alec, are you upset? I thought you’d like it, do you want to change it?” Alec took my hand and said”It’s not that cheri, I love this, I’m honored as well.” I tilted Alec’s face so I can see well into his eyes, “And what’s the matter, can’t you tell me?” He fished for something in his jacket and sat beside me. “Since the day we met I knew I felt something special for you Valerie, but we both detest match-makings that is why we acted indifferently towards each other since that day.  Then I met Claudette and married her, I thought the feelings would’ve died by then, but it was just slumbering. Then all of those incidents in the past, the circumstances that developed , I thought fate was playing with me, I was being painfully led towards you, and these past months I know that my feelings for you since that first time I saw you grew even more. I planned to propose to you tonight. Hence, this black diamond ring, I love you so much Valerie, but I don’t want to lose you. If proposing to you means losing our friendship then I’d rather be your friend and companion forever and run the empire with you.” He took the ring out of the box and put it in my finger, “This is your birthday gift cheri, mon ami toujours! ” then kissed my cheek. I instinctively held kiss face and kissed both his cheeks a couple of times being so grateful that he understands me. Then Alec got carrier away, he began kissing me with warmth and passion, I returned the kisses and when we broke off I said to him in a gentle tone,”Thank you for understanding me Alec, you really are a true friend. Yes, we love each other very much but both on different levels. The respect you have given me since the first day we met up until now is unwavering and I am grateful for that. I will cherish this ring and you, Monsieur Christian Alexander Mowatt forever. ”

Chapter 7 Alone in this cursed world

I never thought that my almost, soon to be 2nd year of being happily married would end in an upsetting chain of events. Charlie and I were on our way to meet with my father at The Ritz Hotel here in London for my simple birthday celebration. Daddy took the afternoon flight and was now staying at The Ritz. As soon as I saw him sitting at the restaurant I felt something heavy and disturbing in the air. I rushed to him and gave him a warm embrace, “Daddy! How are you? I missed you so much!” He settled me down to my chair and said, “There now, is this how a lady should act in public? Hello there Charles! I hope my princess is not giving you a headache.” he chuckled and ushered Charlie to sit. “Nothing like that dad, you know this princess here is not a brat but she gets stubborn when she wants something that badly.” Both men laughed at my expense. All three of us enjoyed our meal and went to daddy’s suite for a night-cap and half past 11 that evening daddy just collapsed and instantly stopped breathing. As Charlie led me out of the emergency room daddy’s secretary asked me to go out to the limousine and discuss some very important matters as the heir. I was doing my best not to take over the empire for some time, and now I learned that my father had suffered from two slight heart attacks and forbid the staff to tell me. I also learned some of the partners wanted to take over the empire that stressed him deeply. Since I was not that interested, he tried to face the problems all by himself. “As your father’s secretary, close friend and lawyer it is my duty to read you his will right this very moment for us to do necessary actions.” As expected the will states that I inherit the empire and run it with my husband’s guidance and Monsieur Duncan, his secretary and lawyer-friend, as my secretary and mentor. He must immediately declare to the board of my status and that I will have the last word on every transaction. “I have asked the hospital’s management to keep this from coming out, it’s going to blow in our faces if the news of your father’s death leaks out before we plan your moves. Your father’s colleagues and board members are like sharks waiting on for its prey.” Charlie soon joined us in the car. “Everything’s arranged now my dearest, I need you to rest now because tomorrow is a big day.” Monsieur Duncan shook Charlie’s hand and thanked him as we dropped Monsieur Duncan off at The Ritz to fix daddy’s things and make the necessary arrangement to the hotel’s management. The next day Charlie and I flew back to France with daddy’s casket. The funeral arrangements where indeed settled and I went straight to daddy’s office and held an emergency meeting with all the board members and business partners of the empire. Wearing my black suit and poker face I faced all of those big men with Charlie on my right and Monsieur Duncan on my left. I thought everything went smoothly but little did i now that a plot to oust me was now in process. I was now on my 2nd month being the president and was very used to handling every thing they threw at me when I received a distressing call from Claudette, I flew to London and met Charlie on my way to the hospital Claudette. Claudette was hysterical when she found out that she lost their baby, on her 2nd trimester of pregnancy, and not even Alec could console her that’s why they sedated. After 4 months Claudette died, she wasn’t able to overcome the post-natal depression, isolated herself and eventually starved herself to death. And as the saying goes, “Death comes in threes” , before that year ended Monsieur Duncan who made my living as the president for the Le Blanc empire as smooth as possible died by receiving a bullet intended for me the night we were suppose to hold the annual board meeting. We were both in the limousine discussing the reports as we drove down to Hotel Martines in Cannes, France. As we stepped out of the car a gunman pointed a Glock 17 at me but before he could pull the trigger Monsieur Duncan pushed me aside the bullet hit him in the chest and instantly killing him . I lost my daddy, my sister and a very trusted friend-mentor all in one year. All that’s left to me is this empire with the big bad wolves, Charlie and Alec, “I don’t think I can handle this anymore. I don’t want to lose them too, Le Blanc is a result of daddy’s hard work, I know I can’t live without Charlie by my side and Alec, my dearest Monsieur Mowatt whom Claudette treasured so much.How I wish I could turn back time.” I sighed and continued with my daily reports.

I received countless death threats but did not bother to be affected I flew back home to London on a daily basis taking only Charlie’s personal jet and driving only the car that Charlie bought me, I have bodyguards in tow, every route that I take is different everyday, and I don’t keep appointments I usually drop in unexpectedly on meetings and gatherings. I always convince myself by saying, “It’s better this way, Valerie”. Château deFerrières and Blue rose garden is also crawling with security, I spent most of my days there doing work if i”m not surprising my CEOs. Charlie was now bound to go on a convention for a week in New York and he ordered that I stay at London but I of course being hard-headed as always stayed at my villa in France and continued on my surprise inspections and visits on all the business establishment under my empire. But a very bad news came knocking at my door, it was 2am I was at my villa when my maidservant woke me up and gave me a message from London. “No, this is happening! Bruce I need to go back to London prepare the car and call the pilot, Charlie is missing, I can’t believe this.” I hastened my steps as I departed the villa, gave short instructions to the château’s butler. “How long has it been missing Bruce?” the car was speeding towards the airport. “It’s been of the radar for about 30 mins Madame, everyone is in high alert, everybody is looking for him and the media is being kept out of this. I also assigned 3 secretaries to keep your reports and Le Blanc’s transactions up to date, I’ll have reports every 30 mins.”  I reached out for Bruce’s hand, “Thank you Bruce, you’ve been such a big help, you won’t leave me now would you. Tell me that Charlie will be found and that he’s alright…” I started sobbing now. I went straight to Notting hill mansion, as expected everyone was busy looking for Charlie, the library was instantly turned into a briefing room for all his security aids, they also set up a communication area, connected to the pentagon and to all airport control towers. The hours passed and still nothing came, not even a brief sign of hope, we were now counting days, then weeks and on the 2nd month I was losing hope. Bruce never left my side and kept the empire in France and in London running smoothly but on the 3rd month I returned to France to face the board once again for a meeting, I asked Bruce to stay behind and keep me posted on any updates and on Charlie’s empire. I guess I really can’t have the best of both worlds.

I was driving to the Le Blanc’s head office while talking to my secretaries on the phone when a black Ford Expedition blocked my way, 4 big guys came directly at me and pulled me out of the car. I guess they put me to sleep because when I came to my senses I was all alone in an empty dark room.

Chapter 5 : Whirlwind chain of events

Breakfast with my father was a complete disaster, I was enduring a terrible headache from drinking till 2am, with only 2 hours of sleep and thinking about my fiancé, sounds funny doesn’t it? I just turned 18 and got engaged with a fiancé I really don’t know anything about in just one night. Croissant, coffee, Wall Street Journal and Wedding magazines were all over the breakfast table. I was really on the edge now, my father on the contrary was not showing any emotions, his well-known poker face is staring at the newspaper, then out of nowhere he pulled out a legal sized yellow envelope with a sticker label stating Monsieur Charles Austen Graham. He said with authority, “This will enlighten you, read it.”  He then shuffled a few more envelopes and gave me another one, “Your itinerary for the week, wedding draft, and some wedding gown catalogs.” He stood abruptly and kissed my forehead, “I’m going to a conference, I’ll be back tonight, looking forward to seeing both you and Charles. Enjoy your day princess.” Then with that I was left staring at the envelopes.”I really can’t believe this is happening, didn’t he saw me dancing with that arrogant man last night? Is this his way of saying he is consenting my dancing? I’m totally lost.” I stood up and picked up the envelopes and called my maidservant, who I know was eavesdropping by the door. “Marie! Go and tell Claudette I’m coming over now.” I went to my father’s library and tried to compose myself before I read the first envelope father gave me. “Monsieur Charles Austen Graham” the labeled states it is a complete background check report, I scanned quickly over the 20 pages report and shoved it all back inside the envelope, checked my itinerary. “So I have from this time till 6pm free to do whatever I want, then by 7pm I am to have dinner with daddy and Monsieur Graham, and I can only go back to my villa by 11pm, What is this?! 4 hours with those two, this is going to make me crazy indeed.”

Walking along the Blue Rose garden somehow gave me comfort, the butterflies are all over the place, the sun is now rising. “It’s almost 6am I still have almost 12 hours to think and sort everything before dinner. I wish I was back in London, at The Crypt now relaxing.” I was now almost half way through the secret path towards my villa when I started running. I started shouting as soon as I opened the front door. “Claudette! Claudette! Where are you? Claudette!” I was running all over the house, I checked all the rooms and was almost knocked off when I bumped into Alec at the end of the hall at the top floor. Good thing Alec’s reflexes were fast, he grabbed me by the waist and lifted me up before my head hit the marble statue. “Easy there princess, What’s the rush? Running around and shouting like a kid.” We he settled me down, he inspected my face and saw that I was on the verge of tears, “Are you hurt cheri?” Alec started inspecting me, not letting go of my hand. “Alec, I need to speak with Claudette.” I said crying and shoved both the envelopes at him. He quickly scanned the envelopes and embraced me, with his assuring smile he said, “Don’t cry cheri, Alec is here. Come! we’ll go to Claudette and discuss this matter. We will sure come up with some solution.” We went down stairs and out at the back of  the house, the gazebo, where Claudette was preparing breakfast. She was trying to hide the concern behind her friendly smile as she received me. “This Missy needs out relaxing potion Claudette.” Alec declared as he sat down and started reading the report in earnest. “Drink this first cheri, it’s lavender tea I also made some shortbread and croissant. Crying this early in the morning , with just a couple of hours sleep with a terrible hang-over is not healthy.” She smiled as she fixed my messy hair. After that relaxing breakfast we started discussing, Alec and Claudette were both reassuring and rational, they made me understand the situation well, made me realize all the consequences and possible ways to accept and refuse the situations. They clearly showed me the 2 sides of the coin, now all I have to do is decide what I really want to do. I sat comfortable in my Cleopatra chair as Claudette and Alec started clearing out our breakfast, not being aware that I have started my way in dreamland. When the two came back, Alec stopped Claudette from waking me up, “Let her sleep, she’ll need all the rest and strength she can get.” “But I don’t think she’s comfortable there and besides it’s almost noon, it will be hot in here.” “Don’t worry, I’ll put down the curtains and start the air condition, go get her a blanket.” As Alec and Claudette walked towards the house Claudette started telling Alec our childhood stories. “She loved that gazebo, we practically lived there, we planted those Irises surrounding the gazebo, we decorated the place. She loves different cultures, that time she was so engrossed with the Ancient Egyptian culture that she requested that the gazebo be our pyramid palace and brought imported Egyptian furniture. She went there every single night, when she is lonely, happy, worried, sad and angry. It’s like a secret world of hers that gave comfort and support. When her mother died I was on my first year with them, she locked herself in that gazebo for a month, her father ordered it to be destroyed is she will not go out and mingle. Guess that shook her up, but when we were out with the cousins or guests for luncheon or parties she was not herself, she started to have this second personality that is very pleasing to her father. She never disobeyed her father since then, gave in to all the things her father decides and declares, but when we are alone in that gazebo, the old Valerie comes out, cheerful, energetic, adventurous, sweet, talkative, happy, always dancing around the place. Valerie was not allowed to dance anything except for the waltz. You see, her mother was a great dancer, loves Tango and Salsa but I guess Monsieur Blanc doesn’t want to be reminded of his lost love.” Alec and Claudette were now at their room. He took Claudette’s hands and said “Don’t worry Claudette, everything will be alright. I know she’ll do the right thing tonight. We will support her all the way.”
I woke up right before the sun set, I had another tea with the two and Claudette helped me prepare for dinner. I love wearing different traditional clothes, which my father hated at first but now got accustomed with. Tonight I decided to wear my Sapphire Blue Chinese dress with black dragon print running down the slit at the left leg, dyed my hair blue-black, wore eyeliner and mascara emphasizing my deep blue eyes and a pearly pink lipstick. I was  now walking down the secret path along my Blue Rose garden towards the main house,Château de Ferrières,with a 3 inches black clog sandals, taking my time as I prepare my answers in my head.

Dinner was quite satisfactory for my palate. It was a Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, corn kernels, peas, diced carrots in butter, red wine and garden salad. Simple yet I’m not used to it. Grateful that my father and Monsieur Graham did not talk about anything except the food throughout the dinner. Then we went to my father’s sitting rooms where they both had cognac while I continued drinking the wine. I was now nervous and can’t sit still. My father and Monsieur Graham were in a conversation as I started to compose my answer when suddenly , “Valerie my dear, the engagement party is tomorrow, the invitations were sent this morning. The wedding will take place in a month, the preparations are almost complete,, I have all the best men and women working on it, so you have nothing to worry about.” I was very upset with that I started to object with a very harsh tone, “Monsieur Graham, I”. “Please Valerie in four weeks you’ll be my wife, there is no need for any formalities, call me Charlie.” I glared at him this time, “Monsieur Graham” I stressed on it, “I know you can do anything you wish but don’t you think I still have to agree on this matter? This is my wedding we are talking about, my life!” turning to my father, “Daddy, so you are okay with this? Don’t you give a damn thing about what I really want this time?”. “Young woman enough of this nonsense, you are not a child anymore to throw tantrums at me and be careful with your words. Everything is settled, you will attend your engagement party tomorrow night and have a wedding next month. The empire can’t wait forever for your decisions, you will take my place by next year and Charles here can help you in everything as well. You will be a very busy woman and no more time for unnecessary stunts. Now I’ll leave you two to discuss the details. I will see you tomorrow for our early breakfast before I proceed to another conference.” He stood up and kissed my forehead and bid Charles good night.

Monsieur Graham, I beg your pardon but I am still in shock, everything happened so fast. You proposing the instant we finished dancing, left after that and returned in less than 24 hours to tell me that the wedding will take place in 4 weeks and that I have nothing to worry about? Don’t you think I should state my thoughts clearly first?” I was now sitting upright facing the handsome man who will be my husband in 4 weeks, whom I’ll be spending my life with. “Monsieur, this is a life time commitment for me, I think I have the right to choose who that person will be on my time. And I envisioned myself marrying the one I love and loves me back.”  I paused to look him in the eye and sighed “But since it’s clearly stated by my father that I have a duty to fulfill as the daughter of the great Monsieur Irvin Philippe Walsh Blanc and as the heiress of his business empire, I have no choice but to submit to your plans, but may I ask for some more time? I wish to get to know you more, not just knowing you from the background check reports but I need to see and meet the real you.” Charles sat closer to me and said in a sad yet earnest manner, “Valerie my dearest, I ‘m really sorry but you see time is so precious to me, when I see something I want I have to acquire it, when I need something I make sure to have it and when I saw you at The Crypt dancing with Mr. Mowatt during the contest I knew immediately that you are the one I want to spend my eternity with, but I admit I have the most detestable ways of acquiring things. But I am really serious when I proposed and said that I will do everything to make you happy. And I know that no amount of money of treasure can compare to that desire, that need, that LOVE that I feel right now for you.” He took my hand and kneel before me, “I will make sure you will never cry in pain anymore, I will listen to everything you will say, do what it is you want to do, you will not run out in the night just to enjoy dancing, I will personally take you to every dance studios, gathering and contests you’d want to visit and experience, but I cannot give you more time. Because I feel lost without you and another 4 weeks is like an eternity for me. I love you Valerie Blanc, will you marry me?” I was now teary eyed when I said “Okay sir” smiled and rephrased my answer, “Oui, Monsieur Charles Austen Graham, I will marry you.” He stood up and kissed me. It was a very sweet, warm and gentle kiss, when he felt me responding his kisses deepened. “Come, I guess we both need some fresh air, let’s walk at in the garden.” We strolled hand in hand sharing childhood stories for about and hour and then he said, It’s time for me to take my leave Valerie, though I don’t want to but I have some meetings back at home in the morning, I’ll be back for our engagement party. Everything is arranged, I will leave Bruce to take care of you and your needs, he will be your personal aid and bodyguard. I am very happy that our misunderstanding is all settled now. I am very happy. Thank you Valerie.” He kissed me and embraced me with the warmth of his love. He called Bruce, “This is Bruce, one of the best in my team, he knows everything that you’ll need to know, ask him for anything. He’s in charge of your food, clothes, beauty regiments, he’ll walk you through all your itinerary with ease. I want what’s best for you dear. If you need me ask Bruce to contact me.”  He left with his own bodyguards in tow. Bruce was like a handsome mean dog as he was following me on my way back to my villa. “You can rest now Bruce, use the room next to my sitting room. I will just go upstairs to Claudette and talk with her for a while. Thank you.”  He left me standing at my door. I went upstairs and convinced Claudette to spare me an hour. Alec I presume is  now sleeping in his room, so Claudette and I walked quietly towards my sitting room. I poured us a glass of wine each and I started telling Claudette everything. She was also in tears when I finished my story. “See, I told you earlier that it was just a misunderstanding, and all you have to do is tell him what you think and want, he is not your father whom you’ll succumb to his every whim. I’m so happy things turn out this way for you. So I guess you will have a very wonderful life from now on.”

The indescribable mini me

She walks, she talks, she laughs, she thinks

She plays, she kids,she cries, she sleeps

the mini me is a replica indeed of the big me in her small body

though I try hard to understand her

I still can’t comprehend her complexities

the mini me inside her is the reflection I longed to care for…

The mini me inside her, oh how I long to understand her…

the mini me…the indescribable me…

Chapter 4 : Débutant

As expected from my father my birthday is like one of the Queen’s banquets. Among the families and relatives that I really don’t know were my father’s business associates and their sons of course. This début will be meaningless for my father if I would not end up with a great offer. Having a very hard time with my elaborate gown as I been tagged along by my father from one party of old businessmen to another, introducing me to their sons and talking about the stocks and their business not really paying close attention to me. As I try to sneak away from the senseless chatter I found myself being hauled into another set of old men. “Merde! – damn.” I muttered under my breath. “Just smile and nod sweetie.” Jolted by a familiar deep husky male voice, I turn around and I saw the devil’s smile and my best friend standing before me. I politely excused myself from my group trying very hard to contain my excitement as I dragged the two outside. I took them to my rose garden, my Blue Rose garden which I’ve spent practically every free time that I am away from father. “Claudette! Alec! ” I almost shrieked as I hugged both of them. I thought you guys wouldn’t come, I thought you both forgot my birthday.” teary eyed I held them both. Then I composed myself and shot them questions after questions. “When did you arrived?”, “Why did you not even call or emailed me?”, “‘How are you two now?” ,”How was the Caribbean cruise?”, “So when is the wedding date?”, “Don’t tell me Claudette you’re pregnant already?” …I wanna be the first to know, the maid of honor and the godmother of your first child, you don’t know how happy I am right this minute, and I can’t even seem to stop talking.” We all laughed, Alec was the one who talked first, “I thought you won’t stop cheri! Sit down Mademoiselle first we came here to greet you a very happy 18th birthday, and of course, Claudette do you mind?” Claudette took my hand and said, ” We would like you to be our maid of honor four months from now, we will have our wedding in London.” I embraced Claudette as I looked at Alec and said, “I’d be honored you silly. But you both have to promise me one thing, no match-making please, I’ve been dealing with that for a month now, since I came back from London daddy kept me in tow in every business meeting and luncheons he had, introducing me into the business world and into countless husband candidates, and I am very sick and tired of it. Even tonight , my very own birthday turned into a grand match-making party.” Claudette took my hand and said earnestly, “You poor thing, I know your father only wanted what’s best for you.” I suddenly turned to Alec and glared at him, “I was expecting for a god-child as soon as you both arrived from that cruise, you disappoint me Monsieur Mowatt.” Alec laughed and stated mockingly, ” I beg your pardon madame Blanc, you sound like a grandmother eager for a grandchild, sorry to ruin your fantasy missy but we both agreed that we will wait for another year before we start our family.” we were chatting happily when the butler interrupted us, “Mademoiselle Blanc, forgive my rudeness but Monsieur Blanc request your presence in the hall.” I gave a disgusted face and told Alec and Claudette that I will have my little villa ready for them and that they should stay with me for rest of your trip.”I want to see photos and hear more of your stories tomorrow, we’ll have brunch by the garden.”  With that I left instructions with the butler for their luggage and food. As I went inside I immediately put on my façade, my mask, the polite, aristocratic figure of Valerie Blanc, that matches everyone inside.

It’s almost midnight and I was hoping to go back to my quarters, when I the last guest arrived. It was the son of the business tycoon daddy met in New York a couple of months ago, “Monsieur Charles Austen Graham” the butler announced. He strode gracefully towards me, kissed my hand and led me in the middle of the ballroom, instantly the orchestra played a tune where we danced the Argentine Tango. He led me with confidence and clear, precise execution, every step we made was synchronized. The manliness, the arrogance and the strength overflowed as I flawlessly swayed and turned, it was like being hypnotized by the music and by his radiance, he was like the movie actor Brad Pitt in the persona of Lestat, The Interview with the Vampire. The music ended with a powerful bang and as we walked towards my father who was aghast by what he saw if it wasn’t for the Monsieur I definitely would receive a piece of his mind. “Don’t worry about your father my dearest Valerie, I’ll deal with him. You danced so well I bet it was all thanks to your nightly escapade at The Crypt.” Then he laughed mockingly as he ushered me back to my father’s side. “That was quite a spectacle mademoiselle you may excuse yourself for the night, I will see you tomorrow at breakfast.” my father dismissed me with that, but to my surprise Monsieur Graham interrupted my leave with a shocking proposal, “Marry me and you can do whatever you wish Mademoiselle Blanc. Monsieur Blanc you know that I do not care about your empire for I have my own, established and continuously expanding. All I wish is to marry your lovely daughter and see her happy.” His hand snapped in the air and suddenly a gentleman brought a small box, where a big diamond ring glistened in front of me, he inserted the ring in my finger ” I will be back tomorrow night to discuss the details of the wedding but I must take my leave now, I have business to attend to in the morning. I bid you bonne nuit Mademoiselle Blanc.” He kissed my hand gently and bowed at my father then left us both speechless. Now that was a spectacle, the chattered started the minute Monsieur Graham left and a continuous “Congratulations” echoed across the ballroom and one by one the guests left leaving me still in shock. ” I better hurry back to my villa and tell Claudette what happened, I’m so confused. I’m engaged to a man I know nothing of and danced the most passionate and powerful Argentine Tango ever.” I started running towards the Blue Rose garden where a hidden path leads to my villa.

I saw Claudette with Alec sitting next to each other at my favorite wooden swing in the porch, their smiles vanished as they saw how miserable and disturbed I looked. “What happened in there sweetie you look distraught?” Alec reached his hand for mine and seated me in between them. “You wouldn’t believe what happened.” I raised my hand and showed them my engagement ring. “I danced the Argentine tango with a certain Monsieur Graham of New York, got proposed in front of everyone, got engaged without me answering yet and he left as soon as he placed this ring in my finger. I did not get the chance to decline, to get to ask why and how he knew about my trip to The Crypt and a lot of things in between. I’m so confused, I want to pack my bags and return to London with you both.” Claudette and Alec were now laughing softly, “I guess all we need to do now is to celebrate your birthday and instant engagement and plan what our next step is.” Alec lead us two inside and pour wine as Claudette and I sat comfortable in the den. My eyes caught a glimpse on Alec’s and a disturbing look and grin was across his face, the devil’s grin again, what’s with him all of a sudden? I thought to myself. We stayed up till 3am, talking about the endless possibilities on how my so-called fiancé found out ‘The Crypt” and what will I do when I see him again. My birthday ended the minute Monsieur Charles Austen Graham left and another chapter of my life starts to unfold as I face a new day…

A different dish

I was thinking of a dish to serve for dinner last night and I wanted to go vegetarian.  I have in my fridge a squash, chicken fillet and leeks…hmm what do you think I did?

I like experimenting though I have hard time accepting criticism and rejection, but that’s the thrill of experimenting you’ll never know the result until you finished it.

If my youngest sister would be the one to do the dinner she would make squash soup and believe me she does the best Zuppa di Zucca. It’s flavored with peanut butter and all-purpose cream, well she was tired and slept till dinner time so I had no choice but to consult my best friend – GOOGLE !!! I typed in the ingredients that I have and viola!!! the squash soup kept appearing…my ego would get bashed up when  my other sister would come home from work and taste my cooking, she is the best critique  ever.

Then I found a recipe called Squash Lasagna (drooling the instant I saw the picture of lasagna). So here is what I did… I changed lasagna with macaroni (that’s what I have kept in the cupboard) and did not baked it… I sautéed  bits of chicken fillet in butter added some leeks, seasoned it with pepper and salt, tossed in the diced squash ( its natural juices were combined with the flavorings and butter) then I added some water as the squash softens mash it up and add the macaroni, add more water until the pasta is cook. Add cheese , dried oregano, rosemary,  basil and all-purpose cream. Constantly stirring until everything is well incorporated.  The end product was good and nutritious, it’s too rich though for my kids and sisters’ palate that you’d want something fried and salty with it… like a  deep-fried breaded fish fillets. The dinner turned out quite well.  That’s one healthy adventure for me that I’d definitely do all over again….