• Edmund numbly nodded as an elderly servant tottered away with silver drapes in one hand and cream drapes in the other. An opinion on the colour theme for the wedding dinner, she had said. Edmund sighed inwardly, and forced a smile on his face as another approached swiftly, this time bearing silverware. Which one sire, the set with the family crest or the one with the national crest? Family, he replied. Which vest will you wear for the grand entrance sire? The maroon vest made of velvet. Where shall I place these violets, sir? On the reception table please, thank you. Sir, where will the band sit? There will be a pavilion set up for them in the gardens. Please check with my butler Sherringhook. More and more the young Count-to-be felt like he was in a basin of water as the questions droned on and on like a running tap, and he had barely taken 4 steps from his original position.

    Quietly he strode on, heading outside to check on the villa that was being constructed for the wedding dinner. The five o’clock sun caught the shimmering gauze that hung about in elegant curtains and bows, and gothic candelabras gleamed proudly atop blindingly white tablecloths. The whole structure was only half done, but already he could visualize it filled with guest socializing and the band playing and couples dancing and cutlery clinking as if part of the band. He enquired about the state of the villa, and his butler had perked up as he replied, “Oh, very good sir. The flowers are due to come this evening, and the cutlery, plates and candles will be done during the wedding so that they last long enough.”

    Viscount de Cinnan nodded stoically and turned back into the house, his cravat a little too tight on his neck suddenly. He passed bouquets of blue violets, crocuses, alstromeria and an outstanding wreath of yellow and red roses that somehow seemed to mock him with their bright contrast. He snorted inwardly; other than 'Congratulations' and 'May you prosper', a message from his acquaintances said 'Be faithful and abuse not.' “They warn me as though I have a tendency to raise my hand against a person without reason.” He muttered darkly under his breath. However, the young viscount glanced around, and swiftly plucked a red rose from the wreath for a certain someone.


    “What happened to that saying of yours, ‘What good would wings be if you couldn't feel the wind on your face?’?” Albert ribbed, and laughed when Edmund de Cinnan reached over to nick him in the chin but avoided it easily. “But seriously, my friend, the day when you would wait for a white-veiled virgin at the end of a scarlet aisle never crossed my mind, let alone marked on the calendar.” The brunette continued solemnly raised his glass to eye level and swirled its contents about, as if entranced by the play of light shining through his drink, like being underwater and watching sunlight spear into a burgundy sea. The bright red rose poked through his hair, a burst of red in a mess of brown.

    Edmund grumbled as he settled back into the pillows. “Ask the one that once stirred my mother’s clothes at night to produce me.” Swiping a gulp of brandy, he continued, “Just because I inherit his name does not mean I consent to inherit its responsibilities. You remember how I always manage to fall asleep in the governess’s class, no?” Edmund brandished a hand sideways, earning a deep chuckle from his friend Albert Treymount. His blue eyes registered his friend’s acknowledgement and went on, “And politics have never been my cup of tea.”

    “And will never be.” Albert toasted Edmund and grinned. “But why haste?”

    “Father has not been well lately. Consumption has caught up with the old man. Desperation drives men insane.” The blond man of de Cinnan shrugged. He was not close to his father, or even his parents, as a child should be. Lady de Cinnan attended parties and flirted shamelessly with other men while doing so, and God bless the number of beds she has warmed. Lord de Cinnan, however, was a serious businessman and seldom left his office at the busy ports of Sancrista. The couple rarely met at home and even if they did, only pleasantries were exchanged, and each would be on their way.

    Edmund never understood the logic behind their matrimony. If one should wed, it should have been out of mutual trust and understanding of the other, and a good platform for communication. His father had said, when little Edmund had posed the question, that “He who marries for love has good nights and bad days.” The young boy had not understood then; but now, he did. Or at least he thought he did.

    Albert remained silent, and played with Edmund’s golden locks. Edmund sighed and turned onto his side to face his friend, propping his head on his elbow. The brunette dropped the gold silk and gazed back with cool grey eyes.

    “Have you told them your little problem?”

    “Little? You underestimate the severity of that problem, Albert.” Edmund muttered forebodingly. Seeing the other make no response, he gurgled angrily and tossed away from the brunette. “Don’t you see? I’m the only one that can take on Father as Lord de Cinnan. The Lord of the house is supposed to start a family, bear children and continue the bloodline, not to mention maintain his status in society and bring food to the table.” His voice seemed far away, as if an impending doom was burdened on his shoulders. “How am I to do it without you beside me?”

    Albert leaned forward to embrace his friend. “I will always be beside you, Edmund. You know that best.” He whispered the promise into said person’s ear, his breath ghosting upon pale skin, sending pleasant shivers down the young lord’s spine. However, it only served to stir the bitterness in him, the dratted emotion unfurling its tendrils and curling around Edmund's heart like a constrictor. Edmund turned back to him, meeting tender grey eyes with his own imploring electric blue ones. “You know what I speak of, Albert.” He murmured, and the young Treymount only laughed and laid beside his friend. The two men inundated in each other's company, both knowing that their time was ending, and that the countdown vibrated resoundingly in their hearts as they took desperately what they needed from the other, before it was too late.