The First Wedding

Cecily Brayton lay on her bed, staring at the edge of the window and thinking about James Haddaway. She had seen him once in the week since their furtive encounter at the Granville Hotel — they had driven one of his father’s motorcars down a solitary country road, with time only to exchange a series of desperate kisses and impassioned sighs before returning to town. She wondered when she would see him again, if it would be today or tomorrow, if he would finally propose, or perhaps seize her in the middle of the night and persuade her to elope in some far-flung locale.

A knock at the door roused her from this familiar avenue of thought. It was Carol, summoning her to breakfast.

“I’m not hungry, thank you,” Cecily called lazily from the bed. The door burst open and Carol stared at her in amazement.

“Not hungry? Go down there and tell Arianna yourself! She made her famous pancakes especially for this occasion! Don’t you want to see Mayhew?”

Cecily sprang up suddenly, her eyes large. “Oh dear! I forgot! Mayhew’s back!” Within a moment she was following Carol down the staircase. “How is he?” she whispered excitedly. “Has he proposed to you yet?”

Carol hushed her with a violent wave of her hand and hurried off to the kitchen, leaving Cecily to wander into the dining room alone. She found her father and Mayhew already seated there, chatting amiably. Cecily greeted Mayhew with apprehension, feeling a twinge of guilt for having borrowed his hotel room without his consent while he had been away, but he seemed glad to see her and gave no indication that he suspected her of anything wicked.

Arianna served her famous pancakes while Carol sat down next to Mayhew, and everyone attacked the meal with vigor, forgetting conversation for a time. Finally Arianna spoke, addressing Mayhew.


“I haven’t heard anything about your trip yet,” she said in her mild way. “Did you find great inspiration for the new hotel?”

The young architect, who had nearly finished all of his pancakes, set down his fork. “Why, yes, actually,” he replied with a grin. “I was so inspired that I drew a set of preliminary plans while I was in Castello and shared them with Mr. De Groff as soon as I got in last night. He seemed quite pleased with them. So pleased, in fact, that he gave me a handsome bonus, which will allow me to buy a house of my own here in May Green.”

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The Rendezvous

There were only two respectable hotels in May Green, and the Granville was the finer of the two. It was best known for its grand lobby – three stories tall – full of warm, polished wood and sparkling lamps. But Cecily Brayton never saw the lobby of the Granville; she entered through the back door, by the kitchen, and made her way up a secluded stair. As she glanced cautiously to and fro, she thought of Carol and how many times she must have done the same thing, risking the rampant gossip of the town busybodies in order to spend a few quiet moments with her beloved.

The door creaked open below, and Cecily paused on the landing. Looking down past the balustrade, she saw the top of James’s head as he made his way up the stair. Her stomach whirled with anticipation as she continued onward, reaching the second floor and the room labeled “201”. Fitting the brass key into the lock, she took a deep breath and turned the knob.

It wasn’t at all what she had expected. Though Carol hadn’t gone so far as to describe the exact layout of the suite, Cecily had imagined a separate drawing room at least, where Mayhew and Carol sat and sighed at each other, but it was all one big room, and the most prominent piece of furniture in it was a massive four-poster bed. Cecily flushed at the sight of it, as though she had walked in on Mayhew lounging in his pajamas.

In her surprise, she had left the door wide open, and through it strolled James, his footsteps light and hesitant.

“I don’t think anyone saw,” he said quietly, shutting the door behind him.


“Lovely, isn’t it?” Cecily said, trying to hide her sudden discomfort. “I’ve always heard the Granville was elegant. Though I expected Mayhew to have more…rooms.”

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The Overture

As the brilliant blue sky relaxed into twilight, Cecily Brayton sat in her father’s study, her eyes closed, her mind fixed happily on the success of her tea party. Despite a few alarming moments, it had gone off better than she could have hoped, and she felt with some certainty that James Haddaway now perched in the palm of her hand.

And I’m in the palm of his, she thought dreamily, remembering how masterfully he had wrapped her up in his arms and kissed her. Compared to Samuel’s kiss – the only other kiss she had experienced in her young life – well, there really was no comparison. Samuel was like a violin playing some sweet but simple tune, while James was the whole orchestra, soaring and blasting in a heart-swelling crescendo.

It was unfortunate that Carol had interrupted the glorious music to serve her special yellow cake with nutty frosting, and Cecily made a point of telling her so later, but it had been a lovely interlude all the same. When she and James parted, he murmured, “See you soon,” and never had those words thrilled her with such rich promise. Even now, her whole being tingled with the memory of it.

Cecily thinks about James

The clanging of the doorbell roused Cecily from her blissful state. Could he have meant this soon? she wondered, springing from her chair.

“I’ve got it!” she shouted into the hallway. After a quick glance into the mirror to make she sure she looked presentable, Cecily opened the door.

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The Tea Party

It was a pleasant day in late June – not that the weather was ever unpleasant in the mild summery town of May Green – and the bees were exceptionally busy humming over the flower-strewn lawn of Brayton Hill. A fluttering breeze, just strong enough to rustle the trees and cool the skin, made its way through the lush green corner of the yard where Cecily Brayton sat surveying her assembled guests.

Cecily’s tea party

A perfect day for a tea party, she thought, rather pleased with herself for conjuring up the idea, though it hadn’t come easily. For days she had pondered how best to contrive a meeting with James; after all, he had declared his love for her, and she need only be alone with him for a few moments so that she could return the sentiment. But it was a tricky business – she hadn’t told James that she loved Samuel, but he might have inferred it from her actions, and she didn’t want him to feel like some kind of consolation prize.

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Things You Don’t See Every Day

Hey guys, just wanted to let you know I’m still working on the next Brayton update. I really wanted to post it tonight, but it’s taking longer than I expected – I took something like 300 pictures for this one, and I’m trying to whittle it down to about 25 as I write the story. Unless you guys want a REALLY long update this time… ;-)

I’m hoping to finish the update late tomorrow night, but in the meantime, I have a few Brayton outtakes to share with you. These are things you don’t see every day in May Green:

The Braytons find out what happens when you place a chair near the fireplace, start a fire, and have someone sit down in said chair

Poor Frederick went up in flames, and when Mayhew tried to extinguish him, he went up in flames. I had Carol try to extinguish both while Arianna called the fire department. All of this pandemonium for one little picture! Yipes. At least nobody died.

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Cecily’s Choice

“Home already, Cecily?”

Cecily shut the door and stood in the foyer a moment, pushing a few curls, which had shaken loose when she hurried home, back into place. Her father strolled in from the study, medical journal in hand, and smiled.

“I was just about to ready the carriage,” he said. “I hope you had a good time?”

Cecily nodded absently and leaned over to kiss her father on the cheek. “Wonderful time,” she said, a little breathless. “I’m exhausted, though. I didn’t know parties could be so rigorous.”

Harry Brayton laughed indulgently at his daughter. “Dance with one too many fellows, eh? Well, you’d better get off to bed then. I’d scold you for walking home alone if I weren’t a bit tired myself. Good night, Cecily.”

Cecily smiled brightly and said good night before making her way upstairs. She was met at the top stair by Carol, who had fidgeted her apron into wrinkles. The normally sedate maid could hardly contain her excitement as she followed Cecily to her room.

“Well, how was it?” she whispered, closing the door.

The cheerful expression that Cecily had worn for her father washed away in an instant.

Cecily confides in Carol

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The Modest Maiden

“Good evening, Miss Brayton.”

The light from the chandelier glinted off the partially bald head of the butler as he welcomed Cecily into the resplendence of Haddaway Hall. The young lady entered with an apprehensive smile and paused, momentarily overwhelmed, as her beaded satin dress swished to a halt. Instinctively she scanned the room for James, whom she had just seen through the drawing room window walking towards the foyer. Unfortunately she saw only a maid in a crisp black dress carrying a tray laden with hors d’oeuvres.

The butler brushed past Cecily and made for the back of the house, then turned when he realized Cecily wasn’t following him. He came back to her, arching a curious brow.

“Everyone is gathered in the ballroom,” he said politely, with the mildest tinge of impatience.

“Everyone?” Cecily asked, stalling for time. Through her immaculate white gloves, her fingers clutched at her skirt. She was suddenly more nervous than ever, imagining the whole Haddaway clan waiting in the ballroom, glancing up as she entered, leaning over to each other and whispering…except for James, who blithely pretended she didn’t exist…

“Miss Brayton? Are you quite well?” asked the butler.

Cecily’s breath wavered, but she recovered it.

The butler greets Cecily

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.” She presented him with her most placid smile.

The butler, one brow still arched in doubt, turned on his heel and led Cecily through the foyer.

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Look In Thy Glass

Cecily Brayton was nervous. In less than two hours she would be making her way to Haddaway Hall, a place she had not visited in quite some time, even though it was just down the street from Brayton Hill. She could remember with almost painful clarity when she had been a regular visitor there, playing piano for old Mrs. Haddaway and eating dinner with the family in their splendid dining room, but those golden times had come to an abrupt end some years ago, and all because Cecily had chosen one brother over another.

The course of that day ran vividly in Cecily’s mind, too — the song, the kiss, a rush of exhiliration, words of tender affection…and then her horrible mistake. Even now, thinking back to that dire moment, Cecily felt like crying; with one foolish utterance, she had marred her relationship with the entire Haddaway family, and — until now — the blemish seemed irreparable.

It could still be irreparable, Cecily mused as she dipped a paintbrush delicately into a smear of honey-colored paint. In order to calm her nerves, she was working on portrait of her stepmother Arianna, but inevitably her thoughts kept returning to the Haddaways, even more so than usual.

Cecily paints Arianna’s portrait

These heightened feelings of agitation were the fault of Dorothy Haddaway, who had invited Cecily to her 18th birthday celebration at Haddaway Hall. When the dainty gilt-edged envelope had arrived and Cecily had read the contents therein, she had nearly died of surprise. Dorothy was the only Haddaway who had been civil to her the past few years, but Cecily never expected such a kindess as this.

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