Cecily’s Choice

As Cecily lay in the darkness, the humid night air riding through the window on an incessant flood of cricket song, she pictured James standing before her, his form perfect, his smile charming, his eyes penetrating hers in that unsettling way. Then his warm brown eyes became a cool blue, and Samuel was there, leaning forward, about to kiss her –

Cecily sat up in bed. The humidity and the crickets and the Haddaway boys were all conspiring against her in her quest for sleep. Thus defeated, she crept across the room and down the stairs. The house was dark but for the moonlight shining through the windows in the living room, accompanied by the glow from the fireplace, where a few embers still seethed. A delicious crosswind from the opened windows cooled the room, making it much more pleasant than her stuffy bedchamber.

Settling into the sofa by the windows, she wondered idly when her father was going to finish the sleeping porches. The heat of May Green summers could be oppressive, and Mayhew’s plans for second-story porches had taken that into account, but Harry hadn’t the funds to build them yet. Cecily sighed. Why was she musing over such mundane concerns, when she had a genuine dilemma staring her in the face? Perhaps she wasn’t ready to stare back just yet.

After several more minutes of avoiding, Cecily felt herself grow chilly. Something was gnawing at her, something besides the question of the Haddaway boys, but she couldn’t quite figure it out. Rubbing her arms vigorously, she stood and went to the fireplace, where she prodded the faintly glowing logs into a feeble blaze.

Cecily lowered herself into the chaise by the fire, but as she did so, her arms went wild with goosebumps, and an all-too-familiar feeling of dread passed over her.

Cecily hesitates

Her mother’s ghost was haunting that night – she knew it. Cecily froze in place, wondering where the ghost might be – was it in the room with her? Was it outside? Wherever the phantom was, it was drawing nearer, and Cecily feared the moment she would meet it. In a sudden rush she put out the fire and dashed towards the stairs, groping in the dark for the railing.

Cecily had felt the presence of her mother’s ghost many times throughout her the course of her life, but the occasions on which she met the spectre face-to-face were quite rare. Those encounters usually left her in shivering sobs that exhausted her so much she fell into a deep sleep – a sleep fraught with mournful dreams and half-remembered glimpses of the past.

She was in no mood for such an encounter tonight – it was the very last thing she needed. It was always the last thing she needed; why did her mother pick on her so? Or her mother’s ghost, rather – Cecily had long stopped believing the phantom was really her mother. She thought of it as residue, a mere shadow – it was no more April Brayton than a recording played on a gramophone was an actual voice.

Once Cecily was up the stairs, her dread subsided, and she felt warm and refreshed, as though she had stepped out of an icebox into a warm summer night. It had been a close call – she was sure the ghost had been looking for her, though she didn’t know why. She felt safe in her room – she had never felt the ghost’s presence upstairs – and so with her heart beating wildly in her chest, she lay back down and tried to sleep.

Her last thought before she finally drifted off was: I wish I could tell Samuel about this. He’d understand.

That thought was still on Cecily’s mind when she awoke the next morning – it had lain there on the forefront of her thoughts, ready to pounce. She suddenly wanted to talk to Samuel, and she wanted to tell him everything – about the party, about James, about her mother’s ghost – but most of all she wanted to tell him that she loved him, that she had ever since he kissed her that day, and that James – well, he had been something of a spectre over the years, haunting her almost as much as her mother’s spirit had. If James’s spectre had suddenly manifested and lured her into some fantasy world, it didn’t matter – Samuel was real, and always had been, and though Cecily was an idealist at heart, she preferred to have the real man over the fantasy one.

All of these realizations came to her in a rush as she went through her morning routine. By the time she descended for breakfast, she was in a blissful, eager state, so chipper that her father looked at her quizzically and asked her if she was feeling well.

“That must have been some ripping good party,” he said with a chortle as he lifted a glass of juice to his lips.

“It was,” Cecily said. “I think I’ll call on the Haddaways this morning and thank them for it.” She smiled up at Carol, who was just then placing a steaming bowl of oatmeal before her. Carol returned her smile with a knowing wink and hurried off to fetch more juice for Harry.

Cecily’s ebullient mood carried her through the rest of the morning and up to the moment she reached the front door of Haddaway Hall. Already the scene of last night’s dalliance with James had begun to fade from her mind like a vivid dream one forgets upon waking.

She rang the bell and waited, expecting Mr. Leverton the butler to open the door, but Dorothy Haddaway opened it instead and, with a merry greeting and grasping of hands, invited her in.

Dorothy greets Cecily

“I was just about to go riding,” Dorothy said apologetically, glancing down at her sharp red jacket, “But I could stay a few minutes if you like, and Miss Carwell could bring us some tea. I should so much like to hear what you thought of my party last night. Did you not adore the musicians? The droopy-looking violinist nearly brought my father to tears! He said the song reminded him of his mother. Poor Grandmother! Over there all alone, though I’m sure she’s made a friend here and there –“

Cecily broke in as soon as there was a gap in Dorothy’s speech. “Oh, I really can’t stay long,” she said as Dorothy signalled to the maid. “I just wanted to thank you for inviting me to the party last night. It really was magnificent.”

“Well, I know I haven’t always been the kindest friend, Cecily, and I wanted to be neighborly, you know, and then my brother was so curious to see you again after all this time…” At this, Dorothy covered her mouth and giggled in a surprisingly childlike fashion. “Oh, don’t tell him I said that,” she added, waving a hand. “He’ll absolutely murder me.”

Cecily knew she was talking about James, but she couldn’t help imagining it had been Samuel. Her mind followed that heavenly path for a moment before steering itself back on course. Now that the brothers had been brought up, she had her opening, but she had to act quickly; Dorothy was about to launch into another monologue.

“Are they home, your brothers?” she asked, as Dorothy clamped her mouth shut.

Dorothy listens

“My brothers?” she asked absently. “I believe James has gone to town for the morning, but he’ll be back soon.” She smiled in a sly manner that made Cecily impatient.

“And Samuel?” Cecily asked, which caused Dorothy to raise her eyebrows in surprise.

“Samuel? Whatever do you want Samuel for?” she laughed, dismissing him with a flick of her hand. Cecily nearly winced; if Dorothy thought she cared so little for Samuel, what must Samuel himself think, especially after Cecily neglected to speak to him at the party last night? As far as any of the Haddaways knew, she had always been in love with James, and her actions last night hadn’t done anything to make them believe differently.

Still, it didn’t feel right pouring her heart out to Dorothy – their friendship wasn’t on that level yet — so she put on an air of indifference, and said, “Oh, I was just wondering. I barely saw him at the party last night.”

Dorothy sighed. “We all barely saw him. Well, except for Josephine. You know,” she said with a chuckle, “He’s been at Brynmor nearly every day since she returned from her travels abroad.”

Impatience got the best of Cecily again. “Is that where he is? With the Lloyds?”

Dorothy arched a brow curiously. “No – he’s with father today. They had business in Rivenberg. They won’t be home until tomorrow, most likely. But I can tell him you called on him, if you like?” A tinge of cunning – or was it malevolence? — crept into her otherwise friendly tone.

Cecily reddened. “Oh, I wasn’t calling on him,” she said. “It was just so nice to see all of you last night. It made me a little nostalgic.” She eased into a nonchalant smile. “But I’ll let you get back to your riding. It’s a fine day for it.”

“Good-bye,” Dorothy said, showing her out the door. “Do call on us again sometime.”

(continued on Page 3)

28 thoughts on “Cecily’s Choice

  1. You meant it when you said it was a long update! So let’s hope nothing goes wrong with James Haddaway. This is going to be my last comment for a while. By the next time I comment I might have a blog and a link to my name but it’ll be a while till I comment again.

  2. Wow! What a great and intense way to end the story! And what a surprise! I hope it works out for the better. I almost laughed when I looked at the page numbers and it said 5! You were serious when you said it was rahter long. Thank you for a very enjoyable update! I can’t wait to see what happens next!!

  3. Wow, that’s quite a change of ideas for one update!!
    But why can’t I help but thinking this is not the last change of hart for Cecily???

    Great update Jen, I love your story-telling abilities!

  4. I just read through the whole Brayton familily story, it’s great! Most blogs get boring in the end but I love this one! Keep up the good work! =)

  5. OOOooo *cry*. Thanks for writing such a lengthy update. I don’t think this part of the story could have been told in small snippets. I only hold out the hope that either….a. Samuel isn’t married yet. b. James isn’t as bad a rogue as he seems. or c. There is someone cecily has over looked all these years.

  6. A-W-E-S-O-M-E!!!!! I loved the long update! Go James! Maybe SAm will make a comeback but hopefully not.

  7. Is she just going for James because she can’t have Samuel?
    Hmmmm…sloppy seconds maybe?
    What of this Max guy?

    Well Jen once again another great post. Reads just like a romance novel :)

  8. I feel a little bad for Cecily. Then again, I’m still worried she’ll end up alone. But, like my freudian-slip typo indicated, that’s kind of silly of me (I wrote “silly” for “still”). ^^;
    I’m so hanging on-edge about these guys! It’s always so nice, reading the new entries around here. Yarr. :D

  9. Poor Cecily, making up her mind and then finding out that he doesn’t love her. Somehow i just don’t think she’ll be happy with James… But maybe I’m being pessimistic. I hope so anyway.

  10. Awwww! That was an amazing update… I feel for Cecily, but can’t help thinking that is the way it goes. Actions do have consequences, and I like how you built up to it. Good work, Jen. I forsee an interesting future of events…

  11. Wow!Great update!Hopefully,your next update will be just as long!It’s strange because at first I thought that James was so wonderful…and cute.I was rooting for him,but now I secretly hope that Samuel will realize that he only thought he loved Josephine,but really he has loved Cecily all along. :)

  12. What a great update. You (or Cecily) have surprised me more than once :D I’m curious if she will find true happiness with James, I hope so.

  13. You’re awesome Jen! I have to admit that I generally don’t like reading long sims blog updates (probably why I like to keep mine short), but yours are so riveting! I love your pictures too, there’s so much great detail. Cecily is so beautiful, I love her outfits, I hope she finds happiness soon.

  14. As always, thanks to everyone for the comments! I have a busy weekend ahead, so the next Brayton update is some ways off, but I am working on a Shanley one in the meantime (I’m hoping to post it tonight or tomorrow). Hope everyone has a HAPPY FRIDAY!

  15. WOW!! Excellent, excellent writing! I came upon the blog/entry after searching for some Edwardian Era dresses. WOW!

    The storyline is very compelling and now I’ll have to be reading the story that came before. But I feel like I could understand what was going on even without having read the backstory.

    Impressive writing!

    (Could I pester you to find out where you got some of your gorgeous dresses and men’s clothes?) :)

  16. Wonderful and amazing job as usual Jen!
    My onyl comment and wish is that Samuel and Cecily do defenitely not get together. Samuel has finally found happiness and can go off and live a perfectly happy life. I think Cecily should just forget about him. Now, she should only marry James if she still loves him…

  17. Tracy – Welcome, and thanks so much for your comment! Kay is right, I download most of my Victorian and Edwardian clothes from All About Style, which is a wonderful site. I don’t know what I would have done with Judie’s Titanic costume re-creations, because it’s hard to find good Edwardian era clothing out there (as I’m sure you’ve discovered). And if you haven’t already, you could take a look at my Timely Finds page, where I’ve listed links to period stuff I and others have found. And be sure to let me know if you find anything cool in your hunt for Edwardian clothes. :-)

    Vivi – Thanks for your comment! It’s interesting to see who everyone wants Cecily to end up with. Or who they don’t want her to end up with, for that matter. :-)

  18. OMG Jen that was the best update. Thank you so much for all your hard work. I just love long updates and i think you have had the longest updates then any sim blog I’ve seen. Now about Cecily, I think Samuel will leave Josefine at the alter when he realizes he loves Cecily. I don’t think James will accept her advances because he doesn’t want to be sloppy seconds and i think Josefine will take James if Samel leaves her for Cecily. I am really rooting for those two. Plus you described Samuel walking back home from proposing to Josefine as though he was not entirely happy with his decission and was kinda having seconds thoughts. But that might just be my imagination.
    I love this story and i so look forward to it’s updates. I truely believe you are having has much fun with this as we are reading it. I know it’s a lot of work to put it all together but you are truely writting a masterpiece with this story.
    Thank you thank you thank you Jen for all your hard work.
    I’m so loooking forward to more to your sims.

  19. You are truly great!!!!!!

    It took me forever to read this update but it was worth it!!!!!!

    I have downloaded the maid installer thing and it works perfectly!!!! But where did you get the cool clothes ceily wears!!!!!!

    THank you so much!!!!!!!!

    Jess PS: You are crazy to let down a girl like ceily, samual!!!!!!!

  20. Mary – Thanks, your comments are like masterpieces themselves! :-D Interesting prediction about how the story will go…hmmm… ;-)

    Jessic@ – WOO! I’m glad the Maid is working for you. I downloaded Cecily’s clothes from All About Style, which I recommend highly for clothing of any kind. Great stuff.