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Fragile: Handle With Care
I passed one of the entrances to a room in the hallway on the way to the ballroom’s grand entrance. I knew it was futile to hope for anything, but I kept fantasizing about dancing in the arms of Count Henry Dashwood; I had picked my most lovely emerald green gown, his favorite color, the color of his enchanting emerald eyes. It was useless, I thought. He is engaged to my sister, Esmeralda; I only pale in comparison to her elegant manners and renowned beauty. Unfortunately, without my encouragement, my delicate heart had come to belong to him.
Why did I continue to ponder over our meetings, reviewing every look, every word? Our very relationship consisted of insults and criticisms of each other, each of us competing to outdo the others latest remark. If there were any strong feelings, they were surely ones of dislike.
And yet, I wondered. Did he wonder about me? Did his thoughts go to mine as we both laid our heads down for sleep in separate rooms? Surely, I must enter his mind sometimes, I thought to myself.
Suddenly, in the mist of my reverie, I felt a strong, manly arm grab hold of my arm and pull me into the library. A fire crackled in the fireplace and I could just make out the masculine features, jet black hair, and emerald eyes of Henry. I gasped and demanded that he released my arm immediately.
“Relax, Katarina. I am not so stupid a man as you think that I would harm you.” He answered mischievously and let go of his hold on my wrist.
“All that means is that you are not as dim-witted as a rock, Mr. Dashwood. Now, tell me, then, why I have been so roughly pulled into this rather ill lit library?” I demanded.
“I wanted to speak of my marriage to your sister,” he explained rather coldly.
“Oh,” I answered, slightly disappointed which must have shown on my face.
“What? Did you imagine me in love with you?” He asked angrily, mockingly. I looked down, playing with my silk-gloved hands; I pulled at each finger and bit my lip so hard that I’m surprised it did not bleed. I tried to hold back the tears, but my glassy eyes must have given me away.
“I, um,”, I stuttered as I looked up and met his eye. His breathtakingly green eyes, so big that imagined an entire forest behind them, still awaited my response. I looked to the side, and then faced him again, in all his dark-haired beauty. As I silently mulled over what to answer his inquiry, I grew indignant. How dare he so roughly and cruelly handle my feelings? If I was in love with him, does he not realize that he will have crushed me with his cruelty, as if dropping a packed up box with the word “fragile” scrawled across it. I determined that this incredibly tall, handsomely built man before me was made up of nothing but stone if he was so intent of destroying something that he should, by definition, handle with care.
“No.” I said strongly. To which he looked up. “You could not possibly be in love with me, because it is my belief that you are a man with a heart of ice. Furthermore, I would like to tell you that I could never be in love with a man as unfeeling, as brutal, as you have proven to be. I could not, Henry, possibly love you.”
I was visibly shaking, and was not sure if my strength would hold up, but I was happy that, for once my I stated what I truly felt. After years of being trampled upon by my mother, or bullied by my sister, I had finally stood my ground. I felt proud until I heard a whisper come from Henry,
“Well, I am, you know.” He said as he lifted his gaze from the floor to my eyes. I felt my heart skip a beat.
“You are what?” I asked, looking at him warily.
“In love with you,” he answered, looking for the first time since I had known him, vulnerable. His green eyes searched mine for an answer, fearful of what it might be. “I am giving you my icy, yet easily broken, heart. Please handle with care, for ice has the ability to shatter just as glass.”
My knees buckled and soon his arms were around me, and his lips were pressed against mine, taking their shape. I felt tears running down my face and realized, as I opened my eyes to look into his, that not all of them were mine.