Apologies for those of you waiting with bated breath for WLMC... upload to follow with the next day or so. xxx
Sebastian Bartholomew Weatherly could count the number of life-changing events he had experienced on one hand.
One of them sat dejectedly on a bench placed against the base of a large rectangular window that looked down upon the entrance of Weatherly House. Her molten red hair caught aflame as it glistened in the golden sunlight streaming in through the panes. He had never seen the like before despite his young years and he marvelled briefly at the extraordinary hue of it. It reminded him of rubies or the soft velvet of the draping in the gallery. Vibrantly deep, it came alive when the sunlight danced across her crown, hanging in one thick braid down her small back.
Over the past two years he had been vaguely aware of some child living with them, suddenly a part of the Weatherly family, but he hadn’t paid her much attention, so mired in his own churning grief that he could scarcely remember to feed himself. But now that he stood awkwardly on the precipice of manhood, his responsibilities had sullenly been laid out before him and that included the ward he had unwittingly inherited. A ludicrous notion there never was for the child appeared terribly young and he not much her older. How was a boy of thirteen to care for a girl of, what, six?
He gave his dark head a little shake as he studied her silently from where he stood at the bottom of the staircase, his hands at his sides. Her gaze was riveted to the streets below, watching intently for something or someone. A golden thread illuminated the contour of the cheek that was turned slightly away from him in iridescent light, illuminating her with an ethereal quality that moved the very core of his foundation. Nothing about her seemed grounded in reality- from the brightness of her hair to the creaminess of her skin, to the way in which she poised in a pool of shimmering mid-afternoon light.
If Sebastian recalled correctly, the young girl he had seen often in exactly the same position, keeping silent sentinel, day after day as he made his usual descent to breakfast or lunch. Casting a glance about the entranceway, Sebastian also noted that there was, oddly, more furniture than usually required in the area, which denoted that some form of entertainment or socialisation occurred here. Odd, that it was in the open hallway where one wouldn’t usually receive guests and Sebastian frowned at that. The furniture was arrayed in such a way that it did not interrupt one’s passage from the front door to the staircase or down the hall towards the first floor parlours and drawing rooms. Indeed, the couches, settees and tables had been pushed against the walls and coordinated in such a way that should one wish to sit, one could do so and converse with the young girl in the window… should one wish to do so.
Sebastian blamed Sophie for this stroke of insanity.
However, despite all this, he felt a sharp tug at his heart at the sight of her. Over the last few years he’d never paid much attention to her. In fact, he could scarcely remember her name, and upon further scrutiny, he came to the conclusion that she looked quite sad. It was evident in the way her shoulders slumped or inherent in her overall inner mood which seemed so prevalent he could sense it from across the hall. An even sheerer need to reach out to her beckoned him and he could hardly quell the urge to make himself noticed.
Sebastian cleared his throat.
The girl turned her head slowly, her wide-eyes swivelling and settling on him with an intensity that knocked the breath right out of his lungs. Her eyes were vividly green, decidedly striking against a fair complexion like hers and such potently bright hair. Hair like rubies and eyes like emeralds, he thought with more than a bit of awe.
“Hello, Sebastian,” she said in a small, beguiling voice.
Well, despite the fact that he hardly knew who she was, she certainly had an idea about who he is. “Hello…” Blast, what was her name? Emma? Eloise? Emily! “Emily.” He smiled with the satisfaction that he’d managed to recall it correctly and she returned his grin, albeit for different reasons entirely.
“Has grandmamma sent you?” she asked, again in the delightfully young and beguiling voice.
A momentary flux of confusion washed over her face, but then that smile was back in place. “Oh. Do you need something?”