Dear Diary, I feel so confused by men that I decided to talk to Agathe about it. But once we sat down, I found the words difficult to produce. I mean, two of the men I was referring to were her own brothers, the other a hired hand. How could I bring this up?
“Honestly, Blue, you do beat all. Spit it out or hold it in – I have things to do,” Agathe groused.
Normally, her attitude would be completely off-putting to the point where I would decide holding it in would be best, however, spitting it out seemed the only thing to do since it was bothering me so much.
“Well, this is a bit difficult for me to articulate.”
She wasted no time in pursing her lips after making a “tsk” sound. “This sounds suspiciously like boy trouble.”
As the typical redness rushed into my cheeks, I nodded slightly.
Thankfully, Agathe’s expression softened and she sighed lightly, folding her hands in her lap. I guess now that she knew what we were talking about, she understood it could take a while.
My voice trembled slightly as I ventured forward. “Yesterday, I saw Elliott with… someone… and it left me feeling really confused. Then Matt – uh Matthieu – well, I am not one hundred percent positive, but I think he… well, it seemed to me that he wanted to have a serious kind of talk.”
“You know… the talk.”
“Oh!” She seemed surprised but didn’t dispute my claim.
“And you see, we haven’t even dated or anything.”
She smiled a little and shook her head. “But you’ve known him since you’ve been here. It’s not dating someone that helps you figure out if you want to be with them or not; it’s knowing them. Spending time with them. Listening to their stories and going from there.* That is how you find compatibility.”
I thought about this and realized she was right. This was not a huge island and I’d been spending time with all of the guys, listening to their stories and getting to know them. Reaching this conclusion, I began to feel better.
But Agathe wasn’t done. “How exactly did you feel when you saw Elliott?”
Reflecting for a moment, I began to wonder if I’d been jealous or embarrassed or both. “I’m not sure. Like I said, I really felt confused. I was angry and embarrassed, I guess.”
“Do you have feelings for Elliott, then?”
As she asked that question, I watched her carefully for any indication of disapproval, but there didn’t seem to be any that I could detect. So, the only thing to do was to be completely candid so it could all be sorted out. “I didn’t think so but I didn’t really react like someone who doesn’t care, did I? He called out to me when he noticed I had come upon them, but I ran away in tears.”
“Tears of betrayal or tears of humiliation?”
Thinking very carefully, I finally felt like I could answer. “Humiliation. I was mortified that I had come upon what looked to me as an intimate moment. I was angry that it was the girl from town and she’d been so rude to me.”
Agathe’s eyebrow went up. “Girl from town? What girl?”
I had the distinct feeling she already knew but I told her anyway. “Audrey-Ann. I don’t know her last name but – ”
” – She was here? On the island?”
“Y-yes, but I’m not trying to get anyone in trouble.” Although I couldn’t imagine why anyone should be in trouble. “What’s wrong?”
“Elliott and that girl have a long and complicated past. I thought we were finally rid of her, but apparently not.”
“What happened with them?” I asked softly, holding back a gasp.
For a minute, I thought she wasn’t going to fill me in, but I suppose she needed time to calm down. “Audrey-Ann used to live here with her parents, Telfour and Heloise Legrand. I think Elliott must have had a crush on her his entire life because they were always together, even as children.” She pulled out a handkerchief and began to fold it, then refold it. “As Audrey-Ann grew older, she drew a lot of attention from other boys as well. To make a long story short, she and Elliott were promised to one another and were in the process of setting a date when instead, she ran off with one of Elliott’s friends, Noll Meyer. They sneaked off the island on the last ferry one evening and Elliott was left with nothing but empty promises.”
The slut! I furiously thought. How could she do that to a decent guy like Elliott? Of course, I didn’t share my opinion aloud. “That’s terrible,” was all I said.
“It certainly was. I’m very disappointed that he would see her now. I will get to the bottom of this. I don’t want her anywhere near him or on this island!”
“Where are her parents? Do they still live on the island?”
Agathe shook her head. “I wish they did. They were kind and honorable people. But when they discovered the shame their daughter brought upon them, they left. I personally pleaded with them to stay, but they wouldn’t.”
My heart felt heavy now as I thought about everything Elliott had been through. Then I remembered something else I wanted to speak to Agathe about. “May I ask you a question? It’s personal and I’m afraid you might think I’m butting in, but I really just want to understand.”
I held my breath for a second, then blurted it out, “I was wondering what sort of problem you have with Dax? He’s made so much progress recently and you’ve barely acknowledged him. He hasn’t said so, but I think he’s a little hurt by it.”
Again, she kept folding and refolding her handkerchief. “Oh dear,” was all she said.
“Really, I feel as if there is something more about his accident then what has been told to me.”
“Oh, Blue… I was a disobedient and foolish child,” she said softly, unshed tears glinting in her eyes.
“I have a hard time believing that,” I said, trying to use my soothing voice that I’d learned from my dad.
She dabbed at her eyes with the handkerchief, then went back to her habit of folding. “Well, it is true, I’m afraid.” Her icy blue eyes didn’t seem as harsh with the reflection of tears in them. In fact, they seemed far away now and I wondered where she was. But then, a small smile curled the edges of her mouth and she said, “I wasn’t always an ugly old woman, you know.” Before I could protest her assessment of herself, she waved at me to be quiet and continued, “I was once in love, too. It was more wonderful than anything I’d ever felt before or since. His name was Nicholas Wyatt.” She paused again and I waited, hoping she would go on. “He had yellow hair like me and his eyes…. oh, his eyes were hazel and lovely. I promised him I would marry him as soon as he spoke to my parents and asked their permission.”
Slowly, I let out my breath. “What happened?”
Frowning, she said, “Dax’s accident happened. He was riding his horse to town to pick up some art supplies that Papa had ordered from the mainland. Mama instructed me to go with him.”
“But you didn’t,” I said.
She shook her head, the color draining from her face as she remembered that day. “I promised I would, but I sneaked off to meet Nicholas instead. When the accident happened, I wasn’t there to stop it. I wasn’t there to get help or to comfort him.” She covered her face with her hands as she cried.
No wonder she couldn’t bear to look at her little brother. Every time she saw him and the scars crisscrossing his face, she was reminded of her role in that fateful day.
Pulling her thin body toward me, I held her in my arms, stroking her hair. After a time, she sat up straight again and wiped her eyes. “You must think me a silly old woman.”
This time, I shook my head as I realized that grief over Dax’s accident must have prematurely aged her because I didn’t believe she was all that much older than Elliott. “No. I think you’ve carried around a horrible burden that was never really yours.”
“I’ve always felt that if I hadn’t disobeyed, it never would have happened.”
“That’s irrational,” I firmly said. “It probably still would have happened, you wouldn’t have been able to stop it and you would still feel responsible when it’s not your fault.”
As if a light bulb had gone on, her eyes brightened a little. “Well, Blue, it seems to me you are wiser than you once were.”
I laughed. “We can hope!”
While I went up the two flights of stairs to get to my room, I thought about a young Agathe and her boyfriend Nicholas. What a handsome couple they must have made.
That’s when an idea hit me like a ton of bricks! As soon as my feet hit the third floor landing, I barreled into the room I shared with Alice, making her jump about three feet.
“Good heavens, Blue!” she gasped.
“You are not going to believe what I just learned,” I gushed, spilling the entire story to her.
She smiled patiently at me. “I knew all of that.”
“What? You did? Why didn’t you ever tell me?”
She laughed good naturedly and put a finger over her lips saying, “Shhhh…..”
“So, tell me, does Nicholas Wyatt still live on the island and is he married now?”
“Yes, he lives here and no, he’s not married. He’s a bit of a loner – Oh, Blue, tell me you’re not thinking what I think you’re thinking!”
“I am! I totally am!”
“Oh, no,” she warned, “meddling in love never turns out right. Never.”
“I have to try.”
Grinning from ear to ear, I said, “Because she still loves him. I could tell!”
“It’s still not a good idea, and that’s the last I’ll say about it.”
“Good,” I laughed.
She climbed in to bed and was almost instantly asleep.
I tossed and turned, unable to get over the excitement of making Agathe happy. At least, I hoped it would.
I was the first one up the next morning. In fact, I’d taken to getting up really early because I found that I enjoyed that time of day before anyone else was about. Boy, would my dad be surprised when I saw him, to know that the girl he couldn’t drag out of bed to go fishing on Saturdays, now got up at the crack of dawn intentionally.
“You’re not going anywhere near Nicholas Wyatt today,” Alice instructed as she opened the door to go downstairs.
“I’m not making any promises,” I said with a bright smile.
Since I was up so early, I thought I’d get coffee started. The guys could enjoy a cup or two while they waited for breakfast. But as I entered the kitchen, I soon found I wasn’t alone.
“Hello, Blue,” Audrey-Ann timidly said.
With a sinking heart, I responded with, “Hello.”
“I know we got off on the wrong foot in the hotel. And, well, I was hoping I could talk to you.”
In my mind, I said, If we must. But one thing I had learned was that I shouldn’t always say what’s on my mind. “Please… sit down.”
We both sat at the table and I waited for her to speak. I’ll admit, I did feel a little impatient since she was intruding on my morning alone time and she also happened to be someone I didn’t like very much.
“I’m really sorry about how I acted toward you in town,” she began. “I recognized you from all the online sites about you and I thought Elliott knew who you were. I was trying to show off in front of him.”
I decided to just lay it all on the line, “Look, I appreciate and accept the apology. But why are you here? I thought you and Elliott broke things off a long time ago. Aren’t you married?”
She frowned and looked like she might cry. “We’re divorced now,” she said softly. “Leaving Elliott was the worst mistake I ever made.”
“Well, I imagine you’re right about that.”
“I am, believe me. He was the only man I’ve ever loved and I just made a complete mess out of everything.”
“If you loved him so much, how could you marry someone else?”
A few stray tears rolled down her cheeks and she dabbed at them with a napkin from the table. “Until now, I’ve been afraid to tell anyone the reason. But Elliott said I could trust you.”
“He knows we’re speaking then.”
She nodded and all I saw in her china doll eyes was sincerity.
Sighing, I said, “You can tell me. I will not repeat it.”
“Mathilde St. Cyr, Elliott’s mother, never approved of me. She wanted him to marry someone else even though he loved me. She said that Noll Meyer had agreed to marry me and leave the island and that I must agree to it.”
“Couldn’t you have refused?”
“Asking that tells me you don’t have a real grasp of how things are run here. If the St. Cyr Matriarch tells you to do something and your parents don’t object, then you do it.”
“B-but Agathe told me that you sneaked off with Noll.”
“That’s only what she was told. My parents told everyone they were leaving the island in shame, but instead, they joined me on the mainland. They’re still there, but they won’t speak to me now because of the divorce. You see, they left everything behind because of me and now they can’t come back. And for the marriage to have broken up, they did it all for nothing.”
I was stunned. Paradise was not paradise after all. These people had just as many problems, it seemed as anyone anywhere. “What is it you want?”
She sobbed now. “I want to come back and marry Elliott. And he wants to marry me.”
After I consoled Audrey-Ann, I escaped to the pond near the potting shed. It wasn’t even eight o’clock in the morning and already the day was turning out to be a whopper. It amazed me further that when I heard footsteps behind me, I could tell who they belonged to.
“Yes, I spoke with her,” I said before he could ask. “And you know what’s weird? I really like her. She’s nice.”
“I love her but I don’t want to leave the farm.”
Turning to face him, I said, “Then tell Agathe you are going to marry her and the two of you are staying on.”
His eyes narrowed and he winced. “I told her as much already this morning and she refuses to listen. She doesn’t believe our mother would have ever forced Audrey-Ann into a marriage she didn’t want and one that included leaving the island.” Clenching his fist, he added, “She can be so insufferable!”
“If you love her as you say you do, perhaps you should leave the island with her.”
“I’ve been to town and I don’t like it. I shouldn’t have to leave my home to be with the one person who makes me happy.”
“I don’t disagree,” I said. “And I would hate it if you left.”
“Would you speak to her on my behalf, Blue? Would you tell her that you like Audrey-Ann? She’s willing to adhere by the community rules; she’s no stranger to them.”
“Of course I will, but I don’t know why you think my opinion would matter?”
He smiled then and the sureness in his eyes had my curiosity piqued. “It would,” he firmly said. “I’m certain of it.”
“I won’t make any promises that you’ll have the outcome you are hoping for, but I’ll give it my all,” I said.
Suddenly, almost giddily, he pulled me into his arms, embracing me tightly. “Thank you so much.”
“You’re welcome,” I said simply, even though I didn’t think my talking to Agathe would make any difference.
When he let go of me and we stepped apart, we were met with Dax, his face red, his body shaking.
“Keep your hands off of her!” he yelled at Elliott.
“Hey, wait – ”
” – No, you wait!”
“No, you wait!” I glowered at Dax, my finger pointing directly at him, my eyes spitting nails. “What’s the big idea, storming over here and attacking your brother like that?”
Dax was clearly taken aback, his arms at his sides, his breath ragged. “He had his hands on you!”
“It was a friendly hug and who are to say whether someone can hug me or not?”
“Blue!” Matthieu called from atop Kelty. He trotted over, lazily grinning. “Looks like you might like to go for a ride.”
Grinning, I stepped forward. “Please,” I said as he took my arm and pulled me onto the horse behind him.
Matthieu, still nonchalantly smirking, looked down at the other two men and said, “Well, I don’t know when we’ll be back. Don’t wait up!”
I giggled as we galloped away on Kelty.
*Author’s Note: I would like to send a huge thank you to fluffymao who writes both The Mayfields and The Diabolical Legacy (I love these and read them both!). She wrote the wonderful advice Agathe gave to Blue about dating and I used it with her permission. 🙂