Dang this would have been cool to post on Mother's Day... but I had to start the series off with something a little soft before getting to the juicy stuff. Hope you all will enjoy and please let me know what you all think.
(c) LadySade (aka T.S. Taylor) All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book/story or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author.
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
"Of all the flowers to choose from, why did she go and get Hydrangeas?!" Mrs. Davila huffs as workers rushed by her. She storms over to the porcelain vase that one of the servants placed on the window seal, throwing her hands up at the sight of the hideous, colorful arrangement of flowers. "For God's sakes, it's her wedding day! Not some...some birthday party!" The older woman places a weary hand on her head and massages her temple. "I would have gone with lilies. I even would have settled for something as unoriginal as white roses. But this? Ha!"
"Mommy," Mrs. Davila whirls around when she hears the soft, but stern, voice. "This is her wedding. This is her day." The daughter moves in closer and places a gentle hand on her mother's arm. "Please, let her have it her way, just this once," she whispers.
Mrs. Davila purses her lips together. She pulls herself out of the young woman's grasp, her gray eyes burning into her daughter's vibrant brown ones. "And what exactly do you mean by that, Audrey? Perhaps you are suggesting I am over stepping my bounds? Or, as you put it before, ‘taking over, as usual'?"
The honey brown woman's face surfaces with a hint of red. "Mommy, I'm not saying that..."
"Is that so? Then what are you saying? Because it does not sound like your trying to express a sense of gratitude for all that I am doing for her."
The young woman sighs. "All I am saying is that this is her special day. She has lived for you, done all that you've asked in order to please you... Even to the point of marrying this man because you advised it." Mrs. Davila's stare hardens as the eldest of her three children continues. "I just think that even though she is going through with this ceremony for you, she still deserves a little piece of happiness...something that would make this day her own. If you take away these flowers, she'll have nothing."
Audrey stands her ground, fighting the urge to squirm from under her mother's heated glare. For years, she had heeded her mother's words. Following every command to the "t" because she thought it would give her favor with the woman. But every time she gave into Mrs. Davila's demands, Audrey found that her mother was never satisfied. No matter how well she performed the task, Mrs. Davila would find fault. However, Audrey reaches her breaking point when her father passed away.
On his death bed, while Mrs. Davila was entertaining guest for a charity event, he confides in his daughter. "Audrey, for too long I sat by and allowed your mother to do what she willed. I want to say it was because I loved her, but I know it's because of fear. I was scared that if I did not let her have her way, she would leave; take the money, house, my beautiful daughters. It was best to let her do what she wanted. Best to let her have control..." Aubrey stares into her father's blue eyes as he lets out a long, hacking cough. "I don't...I don't want that for you or your sisters. I don't want her to use my daughters as pawns in order to climb that damned social status ladder." Weakly, he reaches out his pale hand and she takes it into her warm, brown ones. "My wonderful daughter, you have made me proud. But there is one last thing I ask of you and that's to live your life. Find your own happiness... Promise you'll do that for me."
She gives a tearful nod, "Yes, Daddy..."
"And make sure your sisters do the same. I don't want them to go through this for the rest of their lives." That night, Sebastian Davila, veteran, business man, loving husband, and loving father, passed away with his oldest daughter at his side. As promised, Audrey and Ella wriggled from under their mother's perturbing thumb, but the baby of the bunch still remained in her clutches.
Seeing that her daughter was not going to back down from this...tiff, Mrs. Davila lets out an exasperated breath. "I do so much for you girls and in return you show no appreciation. I give my time and money to uphold the Davila name."
"Mommy, the Davila name is strong on its own. It has lasted long after Daddy died."
"Oh please, Audrey! Surely you do not believe that!" Mrs. Davila glances at the floor then out of the window when a few servants walk by. "Do you really believe that your father's name could survive without me having a part in it? He has no male heir. There was no one else qualified to take over the estate except for me. If I were a lesser person, this place and his name would have fallen to the wayside...especially because of my gender and, most of all, color." She looks into Audrey's eyes. "Because of those two factors, I had to sacrifice and fight harder to stay in the graces of the elite. If it had not been for me, you and your sisters would not have been able to live this life as you have come to know it; not to mention, your sister would have never found a man that would take her hand...not with her skin being as dark as it is..." Mrs. Davila's attention is drawn back to the flowers. "If only she took more after her father... Her life would be easier..." The 50 something does her best to rearrange the cluster of flowers, but, like before, she throws her hands in the air out of frustration and mutters. "After all I've done for this family... the very last thing she should be whining about are these damned flowers." She turns toward her daughter, "If she wants her wedding to look like some kind of child's wonderland, that's on her. As for now, I've got other things to look after."
Audrey smiles, "Thank you, Mommy. I'm going to go find the lucky bride." She kisses the tight lipped woman on the cheek. "Love you Mommy...and thank you, for everything."
Mrs. Davila nods subtly in response. She watches as her daughter brisk fully walk past a few maids who came in with more hydrangeas. Once Audrey is out of site, the woman rushes over to one of the servant girls, "Abby, put that down. Do not allow anymore of...these into my house. Tell George to bring in the white roses from the garden. I do not want to see another one of these dreadful weeds around here." She glances over at the grandfather clock. "You have two hours to get this place looking decent. I'm counting on you."
Mrs. Davila looks around the ballroom, admiring her handy work. No longer was the space covered with bright pinks, blues, and purples; calming, pure, white replaced it all. "Wonderful. Simply marvelous," she whispers to herself. And they still had 45 minutes until the ceremony.
Mrs. Davila turns to meet the gray eyes of her darkest and youngest child. Oh God, she looks just like me. "What are you doing here, child? Why aren't you up stairs getting dressed?" She waltzes over to the young lady, her silk, ivory, gown swishing with the sway of her hips.
"Mama, where are the-"
"They are gone," Mrs. Davila interrupts. "I had to do away with them. They did nothing to capture the essence of this miraculous day." She smooths a hand over her daughter's cheek. "This day is one of the most important days of a woman's life. I wanted it to be perfect for you."
She watches as the young one's eyes begin to water, "Mama..."
Mrs. Davila's hand recoils from the sweet face. She sucks her teeth, "Don't tell me you're about to cry over some flowers! They had to be rid of... They clashed with the decor."
The daughter shakes her head. "No, Ma, it's something more than that." The frown drops from the mother's face. "I can't marry him... I can't marry Thomas."
Mrs. Davila's mouth opens and close, the words stuck on her tongue. "W-why not?"
"I found him... With Mattie..."
The girl nods, "Yes...her."
Mrs. Davila eyes soften as well as her heart. "Oh there, there..." She hugs her daughter, rubbing her back as the tears flowed.
"This is our wedding day. I thought that meant something..." A few more tears fall before the young woman gets a hold of herself. "It's no matter. We didn't have much in common. Maybe it's best that we call the whole thing off."
Mrs. Davila opens her eyes, gently bringing the girl to arm's length until they are starring eye to eye. "Surely, my dear, you don't mean that." When her daughter nods, the woman forces a small smile. "My child, why throw away a perfectly good future over one teensy incident? You do understand what you witnessed is a small tradeoff for what you'll receive in return, don't you?"
The girl's eyebrows furrow in confusion. "I understand but..."
"But what? You are about to be married to the heir of the McMillan fortune! He agreed to take you as his bride!" Her grip on her daughter's arms tightens as she gives her a little shake. "Don't you know what this means? It means-"
"I don't care what it means! I don't love him! And he doesn't love me..."
"Love?" Mrs. Davila chuckles out the word as she releases her hold. "Is that what this is about, love? When you come from money, the last reason you get married is for love. Marriage becomes a business." The lady sighs, "Besides, you're lucky that someone of his stature decided to be with you..."
"What do you mean by that? You don't think I could have found a husband of my own?"
Mrs. Davila sighs. "It does not matter what I meant. All that matters is that you fill your end of the deal. You both agreed to this union. And you knew good and well what you were getting yourself into; you knew that this marriage was not a product of love." The daughter looks down. "My Dear, do not feel discouraged," she takes the young woman into her arms once again. "Love will come eventually... But for now, in order for the Davila name to maintain its power, you must marry this man. As for that maid, I will take care of her." She wipes the water from her daughter's eyes. "Now go upstairs, clean yourself up, and get ready for your day. The only tears I want to see are tears of joy."
"Where is she?! Have you seen her?!"
"Who?" Audrey asks the frantic woman.
"Your sister! The bride, of course! It is almost time for her to make her debut and I can't find her anywhere!"
"The last time Ella and I saw her was in the garden. We were over by the fountain."
"Was she dressed?"
"Yes, Mommy, she was..."
"Thank heavens," she breaths. She is about to make her way down the hall, but is stopped when she feels a firm hand on her wrist. "Audrey, what are you doing? Let go."
"I know about Thomas." Mrs. Davila cocks her head to the side as Audrey continues, "She told me what you said. You are wrong." The mother snatches her arm away. "Have you no shame? Using you daughter for your personal gain?" She stares at her mother's stone face. "You're going to lose her, you know?"
Mrs. Davila appearance turns into an angry scowl. "I don't have time for this," she hisses. "I have a wedding to attend to. The woman marches down the corridor, her dangling earrings shaking with each determined step.
Audrey sighs softly as she heads toward the ballroom. "You're gonna regret making her go through with this, Lorraine Davila."
Mrs. Davila's heels click on the cobblestone pathway that leads to the garden. Where is she? The woman had spent nearly 20 minutes looking for this girl. The guests were getting restless. Her servants had come to her three times with questions as to what should be done about the groom's family. "Entertain them! Feed them! We are going through with this wedding... I don't care if it happens tonight, but it's going to happen!" Five minutes had not even gone by when another maid comes up to her. She has an outburst, "For goodness sakes! Forget about those people, my daughter is missing! Help find her!"
Another 20 minutes pass when Mrs. Davila decides that she should head back inside. Although she did not cover the entire grounds, she knew she had to start looking elsewhere. She turns around but stops when her shoe steps on something small.
Mrs. Davila removes her foot and kneels down to pick up the sparkling object. She looks around, gripping the engagement ring between her dainty fingers. Her daughter had to be near. Mrs. Davila looks around, calling her daughter's name in the process.
Sounds of rushing water from the fountain catch her attention. Of course! The pond! That's where her daughter could be found whenever she was having a bad day; that was her sanctuary. Why hadn't I thought of that earlier? Mrs. Davila thinks as she swings open the black, iron gate and makes her way to the pond; her shoes and dress accumulating dirt in the process.
The woman's unwavering pace comes to a slow once she reaches a small clearing in the tress. Mrs. Davila stares at the girl who sat on the stone bench, crying near two weeping willows. A small fraction of her anger is put out upon seeing the pathetic display. The woman looks up when her mother calls her name. Just like looking in a mirror, the woman thinks to herself as she continues towards her daughter. "Stop this foolishness. It is your wedding day."
The young lady shakes her head. "I'm not going to marry Thomas. I want someone who will love me for me. I want someone who's going to treat me right... Like what you and Daddy had."
She folds her arms. "And what exactly did me and your daddy have?"
This again. Mrs. Davila thinks as she rolls her eyes and snorts. "You think I married your father out of love?"
The young one blinks, "Well...well didn't you? That's what Daddy says..."
The mother stares at her daughter for a few moments longer before letting out a hard laugh. "So, that's what you think? I married your father because of love?" When the stupefied look does not drop from her daughter's face, Mrs. Davila lets out a sigh. "Here's the truth. Truth is that your father was a lonely, widower looking for companionship and I... Well, I was a poor colored girl looking for a way out of my miserable state. Where your daddy saw a beautiful, young, willing woman, I saw that he was my ticket to a better life." The youngest of her daughters stare at her mother, her eyes widening with each word that dripped from her mouth. "I made your daddy feel like the man that he once was and he loved that about me. I stroked his ego and in return, he gave me all the things that I could ever want. So when he found out that I was pregnant with Audrey, he did not hesitate to ask me to marry him. And, of course, I accepted." She takes her daughter hands into hers. "So, you see, my marriage isn't the fairy tale story your father made it out be. Marriage, as I already told you, is a business transaction." Mrs. Davila hands tighten around her daughter's. "I know you don't want to marry Thomas. I know that. But you're going about it the wrong way. Don't think of this as a sacrifice, but as an investment."
The 25 year old woman looks away, shaking her head at the story she just heard. "I'm not going through with it." She pulls her hands from her mother's. "I can't and I won't."
Mrs. Davila's eyebrows arch. "Fine. Just, just... Fine! But I will tell you this," she stands to her feet, "If you do not get married to Thomas McMillan, you will not be welcomed in this house." Daughter looks at Mother. "You heard me. Whether you get married or not, you will be leaving either way."
The woman stands to her feet, her soft gray eyes hardening. "Is that what you want? Do you really mean that?"
Mrs. Davila is taken aback by the tone of her daughter's voice. "Yes, I am deathly serious."
The two glare at each other. Daughter sighs. "Alright."
"Alright, I'm leaving," she walks toward the garden.
"W-what? You can't!"
"Yes I can."
"P-Patrice! Patrice!" The daughter stops, "If you leave, don't you dare return! Don't expect to be welcomed back!"
With a sad look in her eyes, Patrice smiles and bows her head. "Yes Ma'am... I understand..."
Mrs. Davila watches as her daughter walks off into the trees, the long white train of her gown disappearing in the shadow.
Gray, crinkled eyes stare out the window of the library. Sound of rolling thunder roars in her ears as she watches the sky darken. Patrice. It had been years since she last saw her youngest daughter. Based on the news that her other children relayed, Patrice had found a husband. No, he was not rich and his family did not have a "name" per se, but he loved her. She even had two children, whom Audrey and Ella visited often. "She's been asking about you, Mommy. Said that she'd love to have you come by sometime. She wants her children to know their Grandma."
Mrs. Davila shakes her head and looks over at Audrey. "She is not a part of this family."
"I know you miss her. I know you didn't mean those things you said."
The woman walks over to her red arm chair and takes a seat. She looks into her daughter's brown eyes, "Audrey, this is the last time I am going to say this. I do not want you or Ella to speak of that woman's name in this house. She has made her decision and I will stand by mine. Now, if that is all you came here for, I must kindly ask that you to leave..."
Letting out a sigh, Audrey does what she is requested. On her way out, she meets George at the door. Audrey stares at the bright, cheerful, bushel of flowers that he held in his hands and then looks back at her mother; her face had not change in the slightest. Another breath escapes the daughter's lips as she walks past the gardener, acknowledging him with a tilt of her head. The door shuts. "Madam Davila, where would you like me to set the Hydran-"
"Over on there, on mantle, George." Her eyes watch as the man makes his way over to the fireplace. He sets them on the shelf, arranging them to his liking.
When he is done, he turns toward the woman. "Is there anything else you need?"
With her eyes still on the plants, she shakes her head. "That'll be all. Thank you."