Belle of the BallbyPrincessRayvine©
Henry Valentino the second, a gentleman of the age of 29 and a proud lieutenant of the United States armed forces came home on short notice. The reason, a letter from his stepmother, depicting his wealthy and prominent father's fluctuating health.
As he stepped through the double doors of the enormous mansion, much to his surprise, the woman who greeted him was completely different from the woman his father had written to him about. His stepmother was a corpulent woman, probably in her late 40's wearing prude clothing of varying shades of grey. Her hair was pinned up into a bun, her hair also varying in shades of grey. But it was not so much her drab appearance which threw him aback, though it has contributed. It was the air of confidence and regal pride she exuded that permeated throughout their once bright house. A leftover of the brightness that once enveloped the house due to his mother's touch, transformed into a palace of striking beauty. The house was like a castle and a dungeon all at the same time. The aura of rightly placed complacence from the woman had earned her her stepson's respect.
She made quick introductions and led him through the foyer and into his father's room. The sight of him was languid, tearing at Henry's heart. Forcing himself to muster his strength, he moved towards his father and sat next to him, being careful not to get in the way of the tubes giving his father oxygen. Breathing life into his quickly deteriorating body. His father looked wan, and to Henry's eyes, it was all erroneous.
Henry Valentino the first looked up at his son, a smile creeping from his lips and reading his eyes, an intimation of the deft and Olympian man he once was:
It was 40 years before, the day the older Henry realized she was his great love. His first wife Amelia. She all and more a Southern Belle should be. Her frame was small, yet voluptuous. Her face and actions were innocently erotic. And her laugh, oh her laugh. It was cordial and sweet, in a way that parted the clouds and made the sun shine on her golden features. Her hair were of great cascading waves of silky gold. Her movements were gentle and cautious, the way a princess would move. But her eyes, those seagreen-blue eyes held a childish mischief that could excite any man who looked upon them.
Even as children Henry knew. He knew that she was the girl for him. For eleven years they've been great friends and finally on her 18th birthday he has decided. He would finally tell her of his feelings at the night of her birthday ball.
That night was perfect as it could be. She was glorious in her white dress, her bodice strung with pearls and silk. Her hair was put up in an elaborate bun, small pearls embedded into the combs which held it in place. As the dancing commenced, Henry stood among the throng of young men, all vying for her attention. But it was he which she rewarded with a dance. It was all simply perfect.
When the festivities were over, he her to meet him at their special place. That one great lone tree upon a hill. He waited for her for a couple hours, when at last, the familiar figure of the woman he loved appeared beyond the lights of her family's mansion. She's changed from her dress to being clad her light white blouse and brown riding trousers, her hair free from the combs and her boots giving her steps a strong grip. In her hand she held a box. It was the box he gave her four years before, so she would have a place to store her treasures.
When she's finally reached him, she placed the box on the ground and enveloped him in an intimate hug. Her chest pressing lightly against his own hardened frame. The smile on her face was brilliant, and he knew then as he's always known, that she is and always will be a permanent denizen of his heart.
Inside the box were many many yellow ribbons. She counted them and as she wrapped the ribbons around the branches of their tree, she confessed her affections for him. Telling him that she would marry him in an instant if only he would ask. The yellow ribbons signified each and every year she has been in love with him. Henry was overjoyed to hear this, and as she tied the last ribbon on the tree, he took her hand and kissed it. She stopped what she was doing and looked down at him, reluctant expectancy clear on her beautiful face. Getting down on his knee, he asked her permission to marry and without hesitation she's said yes. Though it was never official, he's courted her since that one brilliant day he realized he's in love with her. So when Henry came to her house the next day, mustering up all his valour to ask for her hand in marriage, her father did not hesitate to approve of the marriage. He knew Henry did not wish to marry his daughter for her money or just for her beauty alone, but for love.
Soon after they got married, the whole of the state of Tennessee came to the wedding, a fourth of people who came were actually invited while rest invited themselves. A year after, Henry the second was born. And for a week, Amelia hid her suffering health. She smiled as she always did, walked around the house as she always did, faking her declining health for womanly after birth problems. The midwife knew that Amelia was not healing as she was supposed to, but because Amelia had begged her not to tell her husband, the old woman stayed her mouth shut. Early the second week since Henry the second was born, Amelia had died in her sleep, a peaceful expression on her face. Even through death she was as beautiful as sunshine. Amelia's chambermaid and greated confidante was with her, holding her hand. She's told Henry that she chose to hide her illness from him because she did not want him to blame their son for her death. Nor did she want him to lose himself along with her. She wanted him to move on and love another, but she also wanted him to remember her always.
Henry held his father's hand tight, listening intently to everything that his father said. His stepmother was right behind him, listening as well. Henry put two and two, finally figuring out why his father held a ball every year on his mother's birthday. His father smiled once more before speaking words that both he and his stepmother did not expect.
"My son and my ever great friend, Olivia. I expect you two to continue this tradition. I do not want Amelia's memory to be forgotten. Olivia, though I was never able to love you the way you wanted me to, I still love you. Please, care for my son."
Uncharacteristic of his stepmother, Henry saw her defenses melt for the first time. The older woman sat next to his father, and Henry moved to give her room. She sat next to him, holding his hand to her face and wept. Her father did his best to comfort his wife. Though their marriage had been arranged, he still cared for her. Olivia had her own money and did not need his. She would make sure that Henry gets all that he should have and be a great head of his house until he has found his own Amelia.
Later that week, Henry the first perished. The funeral was small and intimate and he was buried in the family cemetery next to his dearly beloved Amelia. As the years progressed, Henry retired from military service and was trained by his stepmother to continue his father's work on the family ranch along with the tradition of throwing a ball every year on his mother's birthday.
On one of these balls, one such young woman caught his eye. From the portraits of his mother in the house, he was taken aback as never before. A young lady which held a great resemblance to his mother strode into the ball one night, her delicate arm supported by her father's well toned one. The moment his seagreen-blue eyes met her jade green ones, he knew. She was the woman for him. She was his Amelia.