Love’s Labors Lost

“I’m leaving Brayton Hill,” Mayhew Love announced one night after dinner.

The Braytons, who were seated around the table in various states of contented fullness, all turned to Mayhew in surprise. Carol the maid, who didn’t seem surprised at all, continued clearing the table in her usual crisp manner, the clanging of the dinner plates echoing throughout the room.

It was a moment before anyone spoke. “So you took that commission?” Harry Brayton finally said, leaning back in his chair.

The look of surprise on his wife Arianna’s face deepened into confusion. “What commission?”

“Max De Groff wants me to build a new hotel for him,” said Mayhew, trying hard not to smile. He knew what most people in May Green thought of De Groff. His cousin Arianna happened to be one of those people.

“Max De Groff?” she repeated, her expression reaching new heights of astonishment. “Why would he want to build a new hotel? Isn’t the Granville good enough for him?”

Her cousin laughed. “Arianna, really — you’re starting to sound like that uppity old Mrs. Lloyd.”

Harry made a face. Though he wasn’t blood-related to the Lloyds, his first wife had been, and he had run up against Regina Lloyd’s special brand of snobbery far too often in the last 20 years. “Nonsense,” he said, “Arianna is nothing like Regina.”

“Thank you, Harry,” said Arianna with a grateful nod in his direction. “But that’s not the point,” she continued, turning back to Mayhew. “The point is that we’ll miss you, cousin. Must you really go?”

Mayhew breaks the news

“I won’t be far away. I’ll be staying at the Granville, you know, until the new hotel is finished. And I’m always welcome for dinner, aren’t I?” Mayhew winked.

“Of course you are,” Arianna said with a quick glance at Carol, who had entered the room with a tray of fruit tarts. “And now I think I shall retire to my room while you have dessert. I feel exhausted.”

As Arianna rose and pushed her chair in, Harry jumped to his feet. Ever since he had discovered that Arianna was pregnant with their third child, he had been more attentive than ever.

Arianna held up a hand to stop him from following. “I’m all right,” she said with a gentle smile. “Just tired.”

Harry nodded and sat back down. Smoothing the new moustache he was growing to complement the graying of his hair, he turned back to Mayhew and said, “Now tell me more about this new hotel…”

As Mayhew and Harry talked of architecture and far-off cities and “swimming against the social current”, the Brayton children nibbled on fruit tarts and listened in wonderment, until finally Carol ushered them off to the living room for some playing and reading before bedtime.

Cecily Brayton, well past the age when bedtime stories about talking animals amused her, retreated to the newly finished study to write in her diary. Ever since her last confrontation with Samuel, she had been writing more frequently, and most of her musings, as usual, focused on the Haddaway boys, though on the rare occasion she would write about her family life. On this particular evening she wrote:

“Of course, I’m not supposed to think about such things, but I wonder what Carol will do now that Mr. Love is moving out? How funny it feels to write that! Mr. Love. Poor Carol. Her Love is leaving her.”

But Carol was more determined than ever to spend time with her beloved Love once he had removed himself to the Granville. She contrived a reason to go downtown nearly every day, and once there, she stayed for hours. Elsie De Groff, the eccentric old spinster who ran her brother’s hotel, didn’t seem to care that Mayhew was entertaining a woman in his hotel room, and even made up a second key for Carol to keep.

Mayhew and Carol

In the meantime, Cecily took on some of Carol’s duties in order to keep the household running smoothly. She did this without complaint, believing Carol and Mayhew’s affair to be the height of Romance and something worth sacrificing for, though if she had really known what was going on in that hotel room, she would have blushed to the tips of her innocent ears.

One morning while she was helping Carol with breakfast, Cecily ventured to ask, “Why don’t you and Mr. Love just get married?” She and Carol had always been close, and she felt comfortable talking about delicate matters with her.

Without looking up from the eggs she was whisking, Carol said, “I won’t leave Arianna until she has the baby. And even then, I might have to wait until the baby’s grown.”

Cecily frowned, thinking how unfair it was that Carol wasn’t free to marry Mayhew. It made her even more devoted to their cause.

Life in the still unfinished Brayton house continued on in this manner until the baby, a beautiful girl with her mother’s dark eyes and yellow hair, was finally born. Arianna was overjoyed to have a daughter, whom she named Paulina May.

Arianna holds Paulina

Harry was relieved that the pregnancy and childbirth were over, but he still watched Arianna like a hawk. He couldn’t help it – the sight of his first wife April lying dead in the garden mere months after giving birth to Cecily still haunted him. After a time, however, his focus shifted back to the hospital, which, due to the May Green population boom, was in the process of expanding.

Arianna, too, returned to her passion — the Votes for Women campaign — and began to receive visitors to the house again. Slowly but surely, Brayton Hill was turning into a lovely home, and even the town’s elite, who had previously scoffed at it, were growing curious about it. One of these elite, Mrs. Regina Lloyd, decided to pay the Braytons a visit.

(continued on Page 2)

9 thoughts on “Love’s Labors Lost

  1. You say that as if being silly is a bad thing! Don’t change your style to suit anyone else, Jen. I read it because it’s fun, yes, but a great big part of that fun is knowing that /you/ had fun doing it. Please don’t feel obliged to rush because you think it’ll please your audience! Quality over quantity, I say. That’s why your blog is my number one in the online journals I read. =)
    I really like the name Paulina May, pretty! :D

  2. Aw, lil’ Paulina is so cute! She has exactly the same face as Arianna, when you took that picture they looked like clones! And she looks like a blonde too…I bet Arthur will have fun playing with her. Thanks for putting me on your links, I love writing my stories.
    E-Liz xxx

  3. Hey, the story is coming along very nicely. Boy that snobby Regina sheesh!
    Enjoyed this latest chapter looking forward to which Haddaway boy is looking at Regina’s daughter, here’s hoping for Cecily’s sake it’s not Samuel.
    BTW, I recently updated on the Moonlight’s so whenever you get a chance……..

  4. Kay, that hair site is awesome! It makes me want to grow out my hair, just so I can try doing a Gibson Girl pompadour. :-)

    E-Liz and PRMami – Thanks, I’m off to check out your latest updates! (E-Liz, I left some comments but they’re not showing up, so you might need to approve them!)

  5. Noooooo. I wanted to see what was going to happen. Haha anway it was nice that you left something atleast. Please post the second half..plz…plz…plz.. haha anyway thanks again and keep up the good work!

  6. I’m dying to know what happens with Carol and Mayhew, probably more than I want to know what’s going on with Cecily – she reminds me of myself when I was a youngster, so I half dread reading about her. :D

    Paulina is gorgeous! Arianna must be thrilled she got a little girl at last.

    And finally, I agree with Kay btw – don’t change your style! We love you doing it just the way you are :)

  7. Hey Jen you rock and all! I really need to set up my own blog and it will be inspired by you! You continue the work of magic your sims and mind does! I am seriously grateful for you giving me a reason for going on the computer!!!

    Can’t wait for Part II and the great story line!!!

    Luv Jess

    PS: Ceily RoXs

  8. Your story is great Jen! You try so hard with your blog, I’m happy if I can get a post up now and again, but I do have to say that all of your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed at all. Don’t stress out over it either, it’s supposed to be fun :)