Robin and Annabelle are now with his parents in Berkshire England. There is a lot to do before their wedding. There is also a lot to talk about.
These are the previous parts of Annabelle’s story:
After lunch Anna came over to the main house to meet Annabelle. While Annabelle tried to sort through her more personal items, Anna made quick work of unpacking the rest of Annabelle’s case and placing her clothes onto hangers or folding them neatly and placing them in drawers. Anna did the same to Robin’s case.
Anna asked Annabelle lots of questions about the plans for the wedding and she also asked where Annabelle was from and what she did for work. Annabelle was pleased to be able to tell Anna that for over a year she had been earning her living by ironing.
Anabelle asked Anna about how she had met Nick and how long they had been married. She asked how their role living and working on their estate worked, and had they always been in Berkshire. Anna was very pleased to tell Annabelle all about her own life. They had previously worked for a family in Henley-Upon-Thames and before that on estate near Cirencester.
They had met when she had been an au pair working for a family who lived near Bath. Nick had been a builder who was contracted to do some work. She said the family had asked Anna to make tea and offer biscuits to the builders, which is how she and Nick began chatting. “We fell in love over tea and digestives. The rest is history,” smiled Anna.
Annabelle looked thoughtfully at Anna, “I hope you don’t mind me asking, but has it always been easy? Or have there been challenges?”
Anna gazed at Annabelle, “It’s normal to feel nervous before you get married. But please don’t be worried. Life throws up it’s little challenges, sometimes big challenges. But when you are married, you become a team, you have someone you work with together on those challenges. You care for each other. You love and respect each other. And you are very lucky, this is a lovely family. They have been talking about you all month, they are so happy you will marry their son. Always look after each other.”
While Annabelle was inside, Robin sat down with his father. There was a little uneasiness initially. It was the first time they had been alone since the argument between them a year earlier when Stephen Grainger had sworn not to give another penny to Robin.
“You’ve been working hard Robin. I have spoken to Renaud several times. I understand his daughter has been allowing you a pittance to live on. Still Renaud most have been very generous for you to have paid off your debt so soon and to be wanting to marry so quickly.”
“Renaud has been generous Dad and yes, Claudia has been a tyrant when it came to my allowance. But I had only paid less than half of what I owed before Annabelle came out to see me last month.”
Stephen Grainger’s serious expression was enlivened by his curiosity. After Robin related that it was due to Annabelle’s using the money she had accrued from a property she owned in New York, that he was now without any debt. He made it clear that it was because of Annabelle insisting that he allow her to use the money to settle his debts, that he was also in a position to make choices as to where they would live and whether to return to his career in finance or explore other avenues that interested him. “I am always going to be in debt to her, as well as to you Dad.”
Stephen Grainger locked eye contact with Robin, “So this marriage is about the money?”
Robin felt stung by his father’s remark, and recoiled with a comment meant to accuse his father, “Do you mean like the marriage you and Renaud arranged for Claudia and I?”
That was more than Stephen Grainger was going to tolerate. Without saying a word, he stood up and walked towards the side entrance fetching his coat and scarf, before stepping out into the spring sunshine. Robin realized his outbreak had been disrespectful to his father. He regretted his choice of words immediately and pursued his father.
“I’m sorry Dad. I was out of order there. That was disrespectful.”
“I think I deserve respect from you. You gambled tens of thousands of pounds of my money. You deceived me for months. Bloody respect is the very least of what I expect from you – do you understand? Not just for me, for your mother, and absolutely for Annabelle. It’s one thing for you to have thrown away my money. To me it was an amount I can easily recover from. But to take money from someone who has never had it before. You should never take for granted what she is giving up for you.”
Robin felt humbled, “Please believe me Sir, I do realize what I owe to her. I did not want to accept her offer, but she was most insistent. Please question her yourself if you think there is any possibility of me persuading her to use her money to help me. I am marrying Annabelle because I love her and want her to be my Partner in life. I should have done this earlier. But the way our situation developed put a halt to my plans back then.”
Stephen Grainger’s face was grave, “Where do the two of you plan to live after the wedding?”
“I have been hoping that Annabelle would express her preference, but I have been unable to pin her down. I want what is best for Annabelle. I think I know what that will be, but I would love her to voice her own opinion.”
Stephen Grainger frowned deeply, “There is a lot for you to learn here Robin. Running the estate is not going to be something you can view as a hobby. I’m not far off seventy. Nick is a great caretaker. But I am having to come down here every week. I am going to need you to step up at some point. You need to take on more responsibility here.”
“Of course, only, I want to give my full attention to Annabelle to begin with. Getting married is something I am sure is essential for both of us now – our happiness and peace. When we have settled into married life, of course we will accept that we have responsibilities here.”
Stephen looked into his father’s eyes, “Don’t let us down again. What you put us through was unforgivable. It takes years to build a name, to build respect. Your actions made me a laughing stock.”
“I regret everything. I only want to make amends. May I say, Annabelle’s money was a surprise to me. I knew nothing of it until after I had asked her to marry me.”
“Oh you will make amends. But if your pretty fiance is still as unpredictable as she used to be, then don’t live here until you two can live without causing speculation in the our circle. And you would be a fool to live in London. It’s not the place for either of you. Find somewhere quiet to live and then move back here when you are both settled into married life. What about the cottage in Wales?”
“I need to work. Both for my own sanity and also to make sure I am providing. I can’t allow her money to be what we live on.”
“If you need help, it won’t be cash, not for a long time. Trust between us has been broken Robin. It’s going to take time to restore it. But I can help set you up somewhere. If I hear of you drinking and gambling again…I will keep my word Robin. I am not going to see any more of my money wasted like that.”
“It will never happen again. Never. I won’t let you down and I won’t let her down.”
“There’s nothing like having children to make you grow up. Don’t wait too long before you start a family. You want to have the energy to keep up with them, You will be forty in a couple of years.”
Robin bit his lip. This was a discussion he wasn’t ready to have with his father. “One thing that I have realized about Annabelle is that she tends to feel inadequate. She fears rejection. She has not had much encouragement from her own parents and family. I know how fond she is of you and mama, but I wonder if perhaps you could reassure her. I think she is sometimes a little on edge because she is afraid you won’t approve of her.”
“Annabelle is charming. Your mother is thrilled Robin. I am very pleased her health seems to have recovered. I respect that you understand the commitment you are taking on. I hope she will make us all proud.”
“I think she will. But she needs encouragement. I don’t want her to feel overwhelmed with the thought of the responsibility we would have here. It’s just the thing to make her feel inadequate.”
“Well, we’ll have to make sure she enjoys her time here, so that she grows to care for the place as much as we do.”
“I am sure she will.”
“I’m meeting with Nick about the plans for the reception. Will you join us? You’ll be working along with him a lot in the future.”
“Yes of course, I think Annabelle is with his wife unpacking all of our things.”
“Very good. Just make sure she understands Nick and Anna work for us Robin. She doesn’t always seem to understand who is a member of our family and who is a member of our staff.”
Another part coming soon…
Kim, the creator of Writer Side of Life has given us some great writing prompts. Several of them appealed to me, but I have only chosen one to work on for now, because I am still playing catch up with blogging, after my trip to Australia:
I chose a prompt under the ROMANCE section: 3. Who is she waiting for?