Lily - a fiction short story
She stood among the Queen Anne's lace covering the field looking like the flower herself. She anxiously waited in the warm breeze for Michael. What was taking so long? He had promised to meet her here.
She looked across the meadow and heard the galloping of a horse. He was flying toward her on his horse. She waved to him and he slowed down as he approached her. His hair was wet with perspiration as he jumped off the horse and came to her.
He embraced her in his arms and kissed her lips, down her neck, and close to her breasts. She kissed him back on this head of flying sandy blonde hair. They both knelt on the summer grass among the Queen Anne's lace and greedily devoured each other in kisses.
"My darling Lily," he said. "I've missed you -- seeing you and feeling your soft touch."
"And I've missed you too, Michael," she whispered gazing into his cornflower blue eyes and kissing him full on the lips.
They had been lovers for the past three months. Lily had spotted Michael at the art gallery opening. She was assistant to the curator at the Stonebridge Gallery, one of the newest art galleries to open up on Kingsbridge Road in London. She a working girl.
He was Sir Michael Monmouth, of the landed aristocratic gentry, one day to be the tenth Earl of Monmouth. He was related to English royalty and ran in only the best upper crust circles. His family owned a huge estate in Sussex, which he would inherit some day.
Charlotte's finger snapped in front of Lily's face as Lily jumped back to the present from her daydream. "Really, Lily," Charlotte said as they sipped their tea while on break, "be sensible and realistic. Michael's aristocracy. You're London working class. He'll only break your heart."
But, Lily had been quite taken with Michael and he with her. She may be working class, but she was bright, an art history major, and she could dance up a storm at the pubs and nightclubs. Michael loved that. He loved her easy going manner and open heart. He loved taking her out clubbing.
Michael also was in London most of the week working at his family's estate company in the city and he and Lily were inseparable.
"Has he invited you out to the estate yet?" asked Charlotte
"Not yet, but he will," said Lily confidently. "You know even Prince William has married a commoner in Kate," said Lily munching on a biscuit.
"Oh heavens," Charlotte rolled her eyes, "She's posh -- upper crust middle-class -- private schools her entire life -- no comparison," sniffed Charlotte. "Your fairy tale dream is warped," she continued.
"Well, Michael is coming for dinner tonight, and he loves my home cooked meals," said Lily, "so, I'm off as soon as the gallery closes this evening."
"I hope those costly riding lessons are worth it and I hope you are invited to the fox hunt, soon, even if they are illegal," said Charlotte as she shuddered. "I can't believe the landed aristocracy still takes part in that silly tradition. I couldn't stand riding horseback and hunting some small, ratty-looking, fox," she added.
"Lily," said Michael, "I do want you to come out to the estate this weekend. The fox hunt is scheduled for all weekend and we can ride together - you'll come won't you?"
"Yes, I'd love to Michael," she said her eyes dancing and smiling up at him.
"Great - can you take off Friday from the gallery? We can arrive at the estate, have dinner and then Saturday and Sunday will be the hunt," he said.
"Yes, I'll talk to Glenn and see what he has scheduled for Friday. Usually on Friday's he's not much for working at the gallery. Mostly he breakfasts and lunches with clients and those run right into dinner. So, he probably won't need me there. Charlotte can hold down the fort and take messages," she said.
On Friday morning, Lily and Michael were flying down the roads toward his family's Sussex estate in his bright blue Triumph convertible. The wind was ripping through his sandy hair as Lily held onto her head scarf.
"Michael, slow down, we don't have to arrive in ten minutes. We're not in a rush," said Lily screaming over the wind and the purring car engine at Michael. Michael's cornflower blue eyes just twinkled as he looked at her and pressed down harder on the accelerator pedal.
The beautiful English countryside just whizzed by -- a complete blur to Lily. Sometime later, they pulled onto a long tree lined graveled drive. Finally, Michael decelerated and Lily was able to take in her surroundings. How lovely, she thought, looking out into the pasture and seeing cows and sheep grazing.
They slowly drove up to a magnificent sandstone estate home; the largest Lily had ever seen. She was used to cramped flats and salt-box houses, not this gorgeous mansion that bordered on being a castle.
"This is home," said Michael as a butler and doorman approached the car for the luggage. "Lily, this is Carson, our butler, and George, the doorman," said Michael introducing her.
"How do your do," she smiled, extending her hand to the butler. Carson's eyes widened as he didn't know what to do with the extended hand except shake it, looking at Michael questioningly.
"Come on Lily, ,we need to get settled in," laughed Michael. They entered a large foyer and then Michael bounded up a giant staircase while Lily stood in the foyer turning round and round and taking it all in.
"Lil', come on," said Michael. Lily followed him up the giant staircase and into a lovely, sunshine filled bedroom -- actually a suite. Two French doors lead out to a balcony that looked onto the gardens and extensive lawn. The room was perfectly furnished in mahogany. Lily stood with her eyes wide opened and looked at everything.
Michael grabbed her, laid her one the bed and kissed her from head to toe. Lily giggled, "Michael, stop, this is why you brought me here?' she asked laughing.
"Lily, I've dreamed to making love to you here," he said as he gently unbuttoned her creamy, white blouse, biting her ear, kissing her neck, her shoulders and down to her breasts - quickly unsnapping her bra before she realized, and pushing it aside, kissing her breasts, his tongue tantalizing her nipples that immediately turned hard -- kissing and nipping at them. Lily moaned with pleasure as her hands fumbled with his trouser buttons at this waist.
Both clawed and ripped at each others clothing removing them as fast as possible. Lily arched her back in pleasure as Michael's hands, tongue and kisses covered her body.
An hour later, they lay exhausted in each others arms. Michael stroking her back with his hand, his eyes closed, sensuously putting Lily into a pleasant slumber.
She awoke to Michael softly kissing her forehead. "We have to get dresses for dinner," Michael whispered in her ear, "even though I'd really rather stay here in bed with you and make love again."
Lily smiled and began to say something when Michael covered her mouth with his kiss. A long passionate kiss and then he pinched her behind and jumped out of bed. Lily giggled and he pulled her out with him and lead her to the shower - it was huge and with the warm water spraying on them from all sides, they made love again and again.
Then Michael held her close and gently washed Lily and then Lily gently washed Michael. They emerged from the shower squeaky clean. Both dressed and descended the grand staircase for dinner.
The long table was set with Lily and Michael at each end of the table, but Michael picked up his place setting and set it down next to Lily. They ate talking intimately and looking into each other's eyes. When they were finished they moved to a sitting room to end their evening with a glass of sherry and more quiet talking. Then they climbed the grand staircase again for the bedroom and made love again. Then they fell asleep in each other's arms early to get enough rest for the hunt the next day.
The next morning Michael and Lily arose, had breaskfast in the suite and dressed for the foxhunt. Lily had brought all the proper riding attire with her.
"Lil', you look absolutely smashing," said Michael as he admired her. "You look like you've been riding all your life."
"Hmm, we'll see," she laughed, "we'll see if my riding lessons have done any good." They then ascended the grand staircase to see the others arriving in the foyer for the hunt. Michael introduced Lily to so many people she was absolutely dizzy with all the names and titles
But, there was one name she couldn't and wouldn't forget and that was Lady Grace Hamilton. She noticed the look between Lady Grace and Michael -- there was something too familiar for Lily's liking.
"How nice to meet you finally, Lily," Lady Grace coolly said, "Michael has told us so much about you," she said. "So Michael, this is your little 'London chick', I see," said Lady Grace to Michael and then she sashayed away to join another small group of people and joined the conversation.
Lily blushed bright red at the remark -- 'little chick'? -- what had Michael said about her? Lily turned to look at Michael, but he was talking with a friend. Thomas walked over to Lily and said, "Just stay by and talk to me when Michael's not around and you'll get through this weekend." Lily smiled and talked with him awhile.
They all finally walked outside to find the horses waiting for them with the riding and stable staff. Michael gave Lily a lift and helped her onto her horse. "I picked out Jasper especially for you," Michael winked. "He's a good, calm, sturdy horse and will carry you well," he said. Then Michael mounted his horse as Lady Grace, on her horse, drew up to him on his other side and gently whispered in his ear. Michael threw back his head laughing.
Lily wondered what was so funny. "Come on Lily; there's the horn so let's get started." They rode off following the barking dogs. Lily rode well, keeping up with Michael and the rest. As they came to a fence, Lily expertly guided Jasper in a perfect jump over the fence, and continued riding with Michael. For an hour they traversed the huge fields of the estate. Lily and Jasper met and forged every obstacle they came upon. Lily was riding well and Michael was smiling at her approvingly.
Finally, they came to a fork in the field. The hunters stopped to discuss it and decided to divide into two teams to hunt the fox. Lady Grace grabbed Jasper's bridle and announced, "Lily will accompany my team and Michael the other team --- we'll see which of the lovebirds finds the fox first."
A cheer went up and before Lily knew what was happening, Michael went one way across the field and Lily, with Lady Grace still holding her bridle, took off into the woods. Lily finally managed to maneuver Jasper and wrench the bridle out of Lady Grace's hands, but it was too late to return to Michael and his group so she carried on with Lady Grace's group but tried to stay as far away from Lady Grace as she could.
More prepared for open field riding than in a wooded area, Lily soon fell further and further behind the rest of Lady Grace's expert riding group. Finally, Lily could not see Lady Grace or her group ahead. Exhausted and frustrated, Lily dismounted from Jasper and sat on a rock to rest.
"That blasted Grace," thought Lily. "I should have known she'd do something like this." For the next half-hour to an hour Lily rode with Jasper through the woods. She had no idea where she was, but she suddenly recognized the rock she had been sitting on earlier. "Great" she thought, "I'm totally lost and riding in circles."
Suddenly, Lily heard a rustling in the woods and voices talking and she recognized those voices. It was Michael and Grace. They were off their horses and walking with them through the woods. Lily dismounted Jasper.
"I'm so sorry Michael, I didn't realize that Lily had fallen behind," said Grace sweetly. Lily looked through the bushes and trees. She was partially hidden from them and was about to shout out when she saw Grace lean into Michael and kiss him full, hard and passionately on his lips. Lily's heart sank as she watched Michael put his arm around Grace, pull her in close to him and kiss her back.
Lily turned red with anger and embarrassment. "Oh, Grace," said Michael as he stroked her face with his gloved hand. I have missed you!". They nuzzled each others necks.
"Michael, what do you see in this 'London Lily'?" asked Grace.
"Grace, she's just a fling," said Michael. "She's nothing special, just someone to pass the time with while I'm working and stuck in London," said Michael. Then he took Grace in his arms and passionately kissed her again.
"But, why bring her here, Michael? Especially this weekend -- this could have been 'our weekend,'" said Grace impatiently.
"Grace, I didn't know you'd be here. I thought you were still in Paris with 'what's his name.' That's what everyone told me," said Michael. "So, I thought, why not bring Lily. She's fun and good for a role in the hay," said Michael with a chuckle. "She means nothing to me."
Hot tears stung Lily's eyes. She was mortified. She wanted to strangle both Michael and Grace at that moment. How do I get out of here anyway? She remained where she was hidden in the bushes and trees as Michael and Grace moved on searching for her. Well, she certainly had to leave immediately. She would ride back to the house, gather her things and have Carson call her a cab and go right back to London. Charlotte was right after all -- how humiliating.
Lily continued walking through the woods with Jasper and after some time she finally came to the clearing and the large open grounds. She mounted Jasper and started a light gallop across the field. Out of nowhere from left field came another rider heading right for her. Oh, great, she thought. I'm in no mood to chit-chat right now. As the rider drew closer, she recognized it was Grace. Grace whipped her horse into a galloping frenzy straight for Lily.
What is she doing? thought Lily. Then, she realized she was Grace's target. Lily urged Jasper into a strong gallop. Grace was heading straight for her. Lily urged Jasper to gallop faster, but Grace had had too much of a head start and caught up with Lily. They were nearly side by side when Grace began whipping first Jasper with her riding crop and then Lily, herself. Jasper bolted forward, but Grace kept up with them.
Lily, also with here riding crop in her hand, struck back at Grace's horse. Both horses were galloping fiercely side by side and both riders were in a fight with their riding crops. Grace attacking Lily and Lily defending herself by striking Grace and her horse back. A fence loomed ahead and just before Jasper flew into flight, Lily took one last lash with her crop -- it struck not the horse but Grace right across the face. Lily felt Jasper arch as he sailed over the fence. Horse and rider landed intact on the other side as Lily heard a scream and then a thud.
Lily and Jasper were some ways away from the fence by the time Lily got Jasper stopped and reigned in. Lily was trembling and so was Jasper and he had red welts all along his left side. Lily was just sick when she saw them, but she grew more sick when she saw what laid behind.
There was Grace's twisted body laying on the ground, her horse slowly getting up. They had not made it over the fence intact. Grace was not getting up; in fact, there was no movement at all.
This was not my fault, thought Lily. She attacked me and Jasper. Lily looked around the large field but saw no one. Where is Michael? she thought. No one was there to help. With that, Lily sent Jasper on a gallop in the direction of what she thought was the house. It took some time before she could find her way back to the house.
When Lily finally returned to the house, she dismounted Jasper and ran into the foyer and ran up the grand staircase and ran smack into a body. She looked up to find it was Michael.
"Where have you been, Lily?" he demanded. He roughly grabbed her by the arm and shook her. "They just brought Grace in semi-conscious. Did you know about this? Exactly where do you think you were going?"
"Michael, let go of me," cried Lily. "You are hurting me," she continued.
"Lily, do you know about Grace and what happened to her?" he asked, nearly shouting.
"Michael, it was an accident. She fell when her horse couldn't make it over the fence," said Lily. Michael wrenched the riding crop out of Lily's hands and examined it.
"Lily, there's blood on this crop and Grace has a slash across her cheek. You did this to her -- you caused her to fall," shouted Michael.
"Michael, no, no, Grace came out of nowhere and attacked me and Jasper. She was mad. She galloped up to us and starting whipping Jasper with her crop. Look at Jasper's left side; it's all full of red welts. I was defending myself and Jasper; that's all," said Lily firmly.
"What? Grace would never attack you or anyone else. I've known Grace all my life. She would never attack you or Jasper with a riding crop," said Michael sneering at Lily. He continued to hold her in his steely grip.
"The last thing Grace said before she became unconscious was your name 'Lily," said Michael.
"Michael, you are hurting me; let me go now," cried Lily as she tried to twist and wiggle out of his grip. "I can tell you why Grace would attack me. I heard what you told her in the woods. I was behind some trees and bushes --"
"What? You followed me in the woods and listened to our conversation?" asked Michael incredulously. "You spied on me?"
"No, I didn't follow you and I didn't spy on you," cried Lily. "Remember, I was lost in the woods. You two were looking for me. You two came upon me. I couldn't help but overhear what you were saying. Michael, let me go!
"Let her go now!" said a strong male voice. Michael looked up and Lily looked around to see Thomas.
"And, where did you come from?" demanded Michael.
"I just came in the front door. I was behind Lily. She told you the truth. Grace attacked Lily and Jasper. I saw the whole thing. Lily was only defending herself. Grace went head over her horse when her horse stumbled over the fence. Lily did not cause the fall," said Thomas as he looked darkly at Michael. "Let her go now!"
Michael loosened his grip on Lily's arm and she yanked back her arm from his grip just as the foyer was beginning to fill up with the rest of the hunters. They were talking and murmuring about Grace.
"Everyone, please, everyone in the sitting room. I have an announcement to make," said Michael as he walked into the room. The rest of the hunters followed him. Lily walked down the last several steps of the staircase and looked at Thomas dumbfounded. She had seen no one in the field when she had realized Grace had fallen from her horse.
Thomas put his arm around Lily and gave her a squeeze and they walked into the sitting room together. Everyone was seated so Lily and Thomas took seats behind the rest of the crowd. Michael turned around to speak.
"Grace has had a terrible fall from her horse. She is unconscious and was taken to hospital in an ambulance a short while ago. If anyone knows anything about this fall, please let me know. The police have been notified and there will be an inquest. You may be questioned or asked to appear at the inquest to testify as to what you saw if anything. I would appreciate all of your cooperation in this matter," said Michael.
"An inquest?" asked Nigel, one of the hunters. Wasn't this just an accidental fall from her horse?" he asked. "Did anyone see Grace fall -- was anyone there when it happened?
"Yes, Lily was there," said Michael as he looked at Lily with hatred in his eyes. Everyone turned to look at Lily in surprise and she blushed deep red. Thomas held her hand and gave it a squeeze. Lily said nothing.
"We don't know exactly what happened," said Michael, "so there will be an inquest into the accident. That's all I can say at this time. The hunt is over with and you may all go now," said Michael. "I have to attend to Grace at hospital, this evening."
The hunters began filing out of the room, into the foyer and then outside to leave. As Lily and Thomas began to leave the room, Michael stopped Lily and said, "Get your things and get out now and I never want to see or hear of you again," said Michael harshly.
"Gladly," said Lily with tears in her eyes as she started to leave.
"Lily, I'll wait for you at the door. I'll drive you back to London," said Thomas
"Thank you," said Lily quietly and turned and ran up the grand staircase.
"You always were one to take over my cast-offs, Thomas," said Michael sneering at him.
Thomas hauled off and punched Michael in the face and Michael went sprawling on the floor. He slowly got up off the floor. His nose was bleeding and his lip was split. "I'd let you have it back, but I have to get to Grace at hospital," said Michael, "the same goes for you, I don't want to see or hear of you again," said Michael.
Lily ripped off her riding clothes and dressed for the ride home. She quickly stuffed the riding clothes and the rest of her clothes into her overnight bag and ran down the grand staircase. Thomas was waiting for her at the door. She hurried out the door with him never once looking back. George, the doorman, put her luggage in the trunk and then Thomas opened the door for her to get in the car. He started the motor and they drove down the gravel driveway and back on the main road.
Lily cried into her hankie as they drove silently back to London. She finally dried her eyes and looked at the English countryside scenery through puffed red eyes. When they went through a village, Thomas stopped at a pub.
"We haven't eaten all day,Lily. I'm famished and you must be too," said Thomas quietly. "Let's stop here and get something to eat."
"Okay," said Lily, "I usually eat when I feel this badly anyway and this is as good a place as anywhere."
When they were seated in the pub, Thomas ordered each of them a pint of beer and a shepherd's pie. "Lily," Thomas began, "I'm so sorry about what has happened today. Michael is a cad. He and Grace have been lovers off and on for years. To Grace you were competition for Michael's attention and affection. Grace has had her eyes on Michael since we were all teenagers. You were a threat to that this weekend."
"Me?" questioned Lily. "Hardly; I should have never tried to compete on the aristocratic level. I should have never tried to be something I'm not," said Lily.
"But that's just it Lily. You are a beautiful, intelligent, charming and poised woman. You can compete with the aristocratic set. Heck, you even ride better than Grace. You were a threat to Grace, that's why she attacked you."
"Well, I'm no threat now. You heard what Michael thinks about me. Michael's definitely in her camp. She's the damsel in distress, not me," said Lily.
"Lily, Michael's weakness is women. He loves them all. He's fickle. Everyone knows that including Grace. She also knows what he said about you in the woods is what he is saying today. Tomorrow you could show up with an engagement ring on your finger. Grace knows that about Michael. What she did today, she did to herself," said Thomas.
"Did you really see it all, Thomas?" asked Lily. "I didn't see anyone around when I realized Grace had fallen. Where were you and why didn't I see you?"
"I was behind you in the woods," said Thomas seriously, "Through the trees I saw Grace come out of left field and attack you I tried to catch up to the two of you to put a stop to it, but everything happened so fast and I couldn't make it out of the woods fast enough. You were taking off back to the house by the time I made the clearing."
"But, did you see Grace attack me with the riding crop?"asked Lily.
"Not exactly," said Thomas sheepishly, I was still in the woods, but I had reached the edge just in time to see her go head first over her horse and land on the ground," said Thomas.
"Hey, turn that telly up, I want to hear this -- another one bites the dust," a man from the bar yelled laughing.
"Lady Grace Hamilton, age 26, is dead this evening from an apparent fall from a horse today while foxhunting at the Monmouth Estate. She died in hospital from a brain hemmorage just two hours ago said a spokesperson for St. Peter's Hospital. Sir Michael Monmouth said as he was leaving the hospital there would be an inquest into her death.
"Oh my God," said Lily, "she died. Michael will try to pin her fall and death on me, for sure," said Lily.
"Not if I have anything to do with it," said Thomas firmly.
"But you said you didn't see her attack me with the riding crop," said Lily.
"But, I will testify I saw it all, just like I did with Michael," said Thomas.
"You can't lie at an inquest," said Lily wide-eyed.
"I can and I will," said Thomas. "Jasper's left side is all full of welts. I know Grace and I know she attacked you. I know Michael. I know you are telling the truth Lily, and I will attest to it," said Thomas, "and that is that."
"Thank you Thomas for standing by me today, for defending me to Michael, and for getting me out of that house, " said Lily as she kissed Thomas on the cheek. Thomas smiled at Lily and kissed her back on the cheek. "It's the least I can do , Lily."
Copyright (c) 2013 Suzannah Wolf Walker all rights reserved
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