Checkmate ~ Part Seven
Rest and relaxation was all that you could hope for after the ordeal you had just been through, but the next day at your manor was proving to be one of the oddest you had ever experienced.
“I-I don’t understand. You’ve fallen in love with her? When did you even meet her?” Rising from your seat, you pressed your hands on the solid cherrywood desk before you. Your brow twitched in utter bewilderment as you stated at your fiancée, who had just declared his love for Elizabeth Midford.
“Well, it was only yesterday actually. I was here, awaiting your return and she dropped by in hopes of surprising you and Ciel. I offered to show her around and keep her entertained and we hit it off.” Shrinking away, he clasped his hands behind his back, dropping his gaze to the floor as to avert his eyes from your judgmental state.
“Hit it off? Do you even realize how idiotic you sound? You’ve known the girl a mere day and you’re professing your love for her? Life isn’t some sort of fairytale, you know. Love at first sight is a myth!” Exasperated, you pressed your hands to your forehead, trying to contemplate how in the hell this happened.
“Lizzy doesn’t think so.” Liam raised his eyes with a start as he leveled his gaze with yours. “If you’re jealous or hurt, please know this doesn’t mean I care for you any less, but we aren’t fooling anyone. You and I are only in this for political reasons and I just can’t do it anymore. I still consider you a very dear friend.”
Opening your mouth to speak, you found yourself at a rare loss for words. All you could do was stare at Liam’s kind and honest face, until you heaved a great sigh and found the right words to say.
“Liam, I understand. I’ve never been a fan of any arranged marriages, this one being no exception. I’m simply in shock at the abruptness of all this. For goodness sakes, I was gone a day! I want you to be happy and if this is an excuse to be rid of this politically-appointed burden of an engagement, then I wish you the best of luck. Honestly, you two are far better-suited for one another. I’m sure she does believe in love at first sight and fairy tales and all of that nonsense. She’s better for you, so you have my blessing if you feel this will make you happy, but just be wary, all right? She is engaged also.”
“I understand. She promised she would dissolve her engagement straightaway. I’m to meet her at her manor tonight, so I must be leaving soon. I wanted to explain myself in person and I do hope this isn’t the end of our relationship.” His smile was so innocent and honest, you couldn’t help but return a soft grin.
“Of course not. Honestly, this is for the best. Where everyone is concerned, I feel. Personally, I think you and I might even get along better now. I wish you all the best.”
“Thank you, (Y/N). For everything. I shall see you soon.” Stepping toward you, Liam moved around the desk to give you a tight squeeze, which you returned as you patted his back gently.
“No, thank you. Travel safely. I’ll be seeing you.”
His smile remained as he pulled away and moved to exit the room, looking back over his shoulder just before he took is leave.
“Goodbye, (Y/N).” With a gentle nod, he took his leave, allowing you to sit down in your high-backed chair as you let your forehead collapse into the palm of your hand.
How in the hell would Ciel react to this?
“Mistress? You’ve fallen asleep in your study again.” Hannah’s gentle tone stirred you from your slumber.
“Hmm? Oh, thank you, Hannah. What time is it?” Collecting your thoughts, you sat up straight and suddenly recalled the unexpected events of the day. You shook your head, still trying to wrap your mind around what had happened.
“Mistress?” Hannah’s expression looked mildly concerned as she set a gentle hand on your shoulder and it was at that moment you realized she was speaking to you.
“Yes, I’m sorry. Just a bit groggy. What is it that you were saying?”
“The Earl of Phantomhive is here to see you. Shall I send him in?”
Ciel flooded your thoughts. Lizzy must have broken the news to him as well. Who knows how he took the sudden change of plans.
“Yes, please. Send him in.”
In a flash, Hannah had disappeared and just a moment later, she opened the door to allow Ciel into the study, unaccompanied.
“Hello. I take it you heard the news?” Sarcasm dropped from your words as you stood to greet him.
“So you have heard as well. Honestly, I couldn’t believe it at first. I didn’t know whether to be relieved or insulted.”
You cracked a smile, fighting back your laughter, but to no avail. A giggle left your throat and Ciel shot you a curious glare.
“What’s so funny?”
“Honestly? I thought the exact same thing. I mean, after over a decade of being ‘engaged’, he walks in here and tells me he’s actually fallen in love with someone and it’s over. Everything we were expected to be, just gone. I mean, not like we would have ever been married anyway, but still. Any normal person would be devastated, right? Yet here I am, feeling the same way as you; relieved. My goodness, it’s days like these that remind me how sick and twisted my life can be.” Returning to your seat, you crossed your legs and folded your arms over one another, shaking your head as you continued to laugh at your unusual situation. A hearty chuckle could be heard across the desk and you whipped your head toward Ciel for solid proof that it was he who had actually made that sound.
“You’re right. You’re absolutely right. I’m relieved. Maybe the humanity that’s left with me doesn’t want to admit that, but it’s true. Perhaps we ought to be celebrating our newfound single status.” For the first time since you’d met him, you saw a glimmer of genuine amusement in his eye as Ciel grinned in your direction.
Mirroring his expression, you decided he was right. “Hannah, bring us a bottle of champagne, would you? We have cause for celebration.”