After being rejected by Sabina for the second time, Cyril found himself venturing to the rose garden. His heart was heavy and he was in deep need of consolation. The love of his life had rejected him not once, but twice and he was starting to sink into a deep depression. Upon entering the garden, he looked up and saw someone with long blonde hair sitting on the small stone bench not too far from him. It was obviously Faye. His heart leapt with joy at the sight of her then that joy quickly dissipated upon remembering what he had said to her the previous morning. Although he had the urge to walk away, he decided against it and approached her.
Faye sensed that someone was in her midst, so she turned to see who it was. She was hoping to see Mariam or Sabina, but when she saw Cyril, the hope in her eyes changed to disappointment.
“Hello, Faye,” said Cyril. She turned her back to him. He walked over to a bush and carefully plucked a beautiful red rose from it. Then he walked over to Faye and asked reminiscently, “Do you remember when you first got here?”
“How could I forget?” Faye replied in a matter-of-fact manner.
“I gave you a rose with the intent to comfort you,” he said as he gently stroked the petals of the rose he held in his hand then extended his arm to give it to Faye. She glared at him then at the rose. Then she looked back at him, but scoffed and turned away.
He took it back and continued to stroke the petals as he thought about what he would say next. “Faye,” he began, “I would like to apologize.”
“Whatever for?” she asked sarcastically.
“I’d like to apologize for the way I treated you yesterday. I never should have said the things I said and neither should I have done what I did. I…” He circled around so he could look her in the eyes when he said what he was about to say. “I love you, Faye.”
“Oh, please,” she scoffed as she rose to her feet and prepared to run off. But before she could take a step, Cyril grabbed her hand.
Then without a warning, Faye spun around and slapped Cyril in the face, screaming, “Let go of me!” And he did. She glared at him as she fought the tears that stung the back of her eyes.
“Faye,” Cyril said gently as he reached for her.
“No,” Faye choked as she recoiled from him. “How can you come to me with this – this – I don’t even know what to call it?! You said that I disgusted you and that you never wanted to see me again. Now you’re saying that you love me? What the hell?” The poor girl burst into tears as all of her emotions began to surface.
Cyril stood and watched helplessly, unable to explain himself or his meager attempt to win her over. “Would you…” he began when she had calmed down some, “mind if I finished?” he asked softly.
She stopped crying and glared at him through her puffy red eyes. Then she turned away from him and hissed, “As much as I don’t want to hear what you have to say, I’ll let you speak.”
“Thank you.” He paused to regain the train of thought. “…I love you. I really do. There was never a moment where you disgusted me or turned me off. You are you and that’s why I love you. So, if you could please find it in your heart to forgive me, I will be forever in your debt.”
Faye was silent for a moment as she pondered what Cyril had just said. It was a lot to take in and she found herself longing to say that she forgave him and that she loved him too. But, she brought herself back to reality. He had hurt her terribly and if she were going to forgive him, he would have to pay. She needed time before she could answer him.
“Is that all?” she asked.
“Yes,” Cyril replied.
She turned to face him and saw that the man was kneeling on one knee with his head bowed; a sign of submission to her. This was a first for Faye to see Cyril in such a vulnerable position; highly unbecoming of a man of his status. She ignored his position long enough to gather her thoughts. She took a deep breath and said, “I’m sorry, but I can’t answer you right now, Cyril. I need time to…think because — Well, you know…Then again you might not. Anyway, I will need time.”
Cyril was tempted to ask how much time, but he wasn’t willing to tempt Faye to make him wait an unreasonable amount of time for an answer. So, he just rose to his feet, gave her a nod and smile, and said, “When you’re ready, you know where to find me.” Then with that, he made his exit.
Faye lingered in the garden for a few more minutes and thought about all that transpired in the past ten or fifteen minutes. Cyril had been begging for a second, if not, third chance with her and this time, he promised that he’d be in her debt. That could have meant anything, but that statement alone piqued her interest. She shook her head and erased the daydream she had in her head of her and Cyril kissing, making love, and such. She loved Cyril and nothing would change that, but she wasn’t sure if she had the strength to forgive him for something so horrible. She needed more time.
So, she got up to leave. When she reached the cobblestone path that led back to the mansion, she heard something shift underfoot. So, she looked down and saw a beautiful red rose under her foot. She bent down and picked it up. Then looked around to see if someone was either watching her or retreating. She saw neither. Cyril must have dropped this, she thought. She shook him from her mind then proceeded to Sabina’s room with the rose in hand.
Faye had no idea why she was going to ask for Sabina’s help in this matter. She was the one she envied the most since Cyril seemed to favor her over Faye. Nonetheless, she thought that Sabina could be of some use to her for that matter. Then again, she wasn’t so sure. She paused before entering the room because she was having second thoughts. What would Sabina say? Would she admonish her or would she encourage her? I suppose I’ll just find out, she thought. Then she knocked on the door.
Inside the room, Lionel sat up gently so he wouldn’t wake Sabina. Who could that be? he thought. Could it have been Cyril? Perhaps it was Mariam. Or was it Faye? The only person other than Sabina who knew he was in the mansion was Mariam. If it were someone other than Mariam, he would be caught, so he decided to stay quiet.
Faye knocked again and received no answer. Then she tried turning the handle and discovered that the door was locked. She figured Sabina was asleep, so she turned and went to Mariam’s room instead. Once at the door, she knocked and was granted access when Mariam answered the door. Lionel saw all of this unfold from where he stood as he peeked out of the door, so he made a note to tell Sabina when she woke up. He locked the door again, picked up a book, sat down in a living chair, and began to read.
Once she was inside Mariam’s room, Faye took a seat on the cushioned windowsill while Mariam went to fetch her a cup of tea. She caressed the petals of the rose as she considered whether or not to ask Mariam’s advice. Since Sabina was asleep and she really had no one else she could trust, Faye decided to ask Mariam.
When Mariam returned, she held a beautiful white teacup with a dainty cherry blossom design on it, which rested on a matching saucer. “Be careful, dear. It’s still pretty hot,” Mariam said as she handed the tea to Faye.
“Thank you, Mariam,” Faye said with a smile as she laid the rose aside and took the tea. She blew on it a few times before taking a sip. She sighed in satisfaction; the tea was the perfect temperature and it was extra sweet. “I love your tea, Mariam.”
“Thank you, darling.” Mariam studied Faye for a moment before she continued saying, “How can I help you?”
“Huh?” Faye was thrown off by this sudden question. “I-I don’t under-,”
“I know you didn’t come by here just to have some tea.” Mariam shot her a knowing look. “You seem…troubled. What’s the problem, dear? You can trust me. Just tell me and I will do my best to help you.”
Faye felt so grateful in that moment. Mariam was offering to help her regardless of the fact that she did not know all of the details surrounding Faye’s situation. Indeed Faye could confide in her. “Well,” Faye began as she set aside the tea, “I have somewhat of a dilemma.”
“…Go on.” Mariam said with a wave of her hand. “Just talk and I’ll listen.”
“Okay.” Faye went on to tell Mariam about everything that transpired between her and Cyril over the past few days and as Mariam had said, she did not utter a single word. “Now, today he came to me asking…begging for my forgiveness. Like I said before, I love him.”
“Despite all the wrong he’s done?”
“Yes,” Faye said without hesitation. “I want to forgive him…then again, I don’t. What do you think I should do, Mariam?”
“It’s not my place to tell you what you should do, but I can tell you what I would do.”
“Well…I would ask him to do something for me; something that I think he would never do. But, I would make a catch.”
“What would the catch be?” Faye asked as she sat on the edge of her seat, heart pounding so fast she thought it would burst from her chest.
“I would say ‘If you love me, you will do’ whatever my request would be.”
Faye considered this and thought, This sounds better than any advice Sabina could give me. However, she knew she needed to be fair since Sabina was like an older sister to her and had always been her idol and mentor. A lot had changed between her time at Bernard’s shop and now. She currently saw Sabina as a rival more than anything else, but nonetheless, she needed to hold off on making her decision until she heard what Sabina had to say. Until then, she decided to stay with Mariam and keep her company.
About three hours later, Sabina woke up and felt the other side of the bed, hoping to snuggle with Lionel only to find his side of the bed empty. She sat up and stretched before looking around the room. Still no sign of Lionel.
Suddenly, the bathroom door swung open and a cloud of steam filled the threshold. Then Lionel emerged, dripping wet with a towel wrapped around his waist. Sabina couldn’t help but blush since this was only her second time seeing him naked or almost naked in this case.
“Good evening, sleepyhead,” Lionel said as he walked over to the bed and began to dry off, causing Sabina to look away out of embarrassment. “Did you sleep well?”
“Y-Yes. Did you have a good shower?”
“Yes, I did.” Lionel replied as he observed Sabina’s unusual behavior. “Wish you could have joined me…Why do you look away when I’m naked?”
“N-No reason in particular,” Sabina stammered.
Lionel went around to the other side of the bed where Sabina looked to and stood before her only to have her look away again. “Do I displease you?”
“No, Lionel. Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Then, why do you look away from me?”
“I-I don’t know.”
“Look at me, Sabina.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “Look at me.” He gently turned her head toward him, but her eyes remained closed. “Open your eyes, love.” Sabina reluctantly obeyed and took in the marvelous sight that stood before her, which was Lionel, her husband and lover. Lionel took her hand and placed it on his chest then guided her hand lower and lower until it touched the hairs of his happy trail. “Look at me…touch me. I. Am. Yours. To use however you please.”
Sabina’s face was crimson red and her mouth hung wide open. She was burning with pure desire. This was the most erotic thing he had ever done and it was working. The softness of his skin and the tautness of his muscles was more than enough to make her want him. She knelt on the bed, brought Lionel’s face closer to hers, and she closed the distance with a needy, sloppy wet kiss.
Lionel also knelt on the bed and gently pushed Sabina onto her back without breaking the kiss. He then hiked up her dress and began to tease her through her panties. Sabina broke the kiss and squealed as he did so. It was so good that he had her seeing stars, but he wasn’t through with her yet. So, he quickly removed her panties and prepared to enter her.
When Sabina realized what was happening, she pushed him away and stammered, “W-W-Wait. Wait. I-I’m sorry, Lionel, but I don’t want that.”
“Then, what is it that you want?” he asked, trying not to sound or look so disappointed.
“I want…” She paused because in reality, she didn’t know what she wanted. Of course she wanted to be satisfied, but Lionel wanted that too, if not, more than her. “N-Never mind. Do what you will.”
Lionel saw right past that. “Oh, no. I said that I was to be used for your pleasure today. Say the word and I will do whatever you say.”
“Lionel-,” Sabina said as she sat up.
“Or do you not want me to serve you?”
“I-I don’t know…”
Lionel had never seen this side of Sabina before. She was soft-spoken and very indecisive; nothing like the usual bold and confident Sabina. He figured it was because Cyril had never allowed her any power and now that he was giving her that power, she didn’t know how to handle it. So, he just hugged her before he kissed her on the forehead and whispered, “Don’t worry. There will be other times.” Then he got up and dressed. “Oh, Faye was looking for you, too.”
“A few hours ago.”
“Did she see you?” Sabina asked, hoping that the girl hadn't seen him, knowing that there was a possibility that she would tell Cyril if she did.
“No. She didn’t see me.”
“Oh, thank God,” Sabina said after letting out a big sigh of relief. “Do you know what she wanted?”
“No, but it seemed to be important. Anyway, she went to see Mariam. I wouldn’t be surprised if she was still there.” He pulled on some pants and fastened his belt.
“Alright, then,” Sabina said, rising to her feet and going over to the mirror to try and fix her tousled hair. She did the best she could, but it still gave off the appearance that she had just woken up and possibly wrestled between the sheets. “I’m off to go fetch her. Please, be sure to hide and don’t come out until she’s gone.”
“And what if she doesn’t leave?”
“Stay hidden for as long as necessary and I’ll try to help you.”
Lionel made a dissatisfied face since he wasn’t all too pleased with that answer. Nonetheless, he agreed to do what he was told and Sabina left to go find Faye.
She knocked on Mariam’s door then the little old woman answered the door shortly after and invited her inside. There, she found Faye as Lionel had said. She was sipping on some tea and nibbling on a biscuit.
“So wonderful for you to join us,” said Mariam as she sat down next to Sabina. “Would you like some tea, darling?”
“No, thank you,” Sabina replied politely.
“Then, how about a biscuit?”
“Mm…” Sabina was about to decline, but she took another look at the biscuits and boy, did they look delicious. They smelled so heavenly, too. “Oh, I suppose I could have just one.” She grabbed a biscuit and started to nibble on it.
“Sabina, just the woman I’d like to see!” said Faye after swallowing the last bit of her biscuit. “Why didn’t you answer your door before?”
“I must have been asleep when you came, dear. I’m sorry. I’ve been very…busy as of late.”
“I understand. I needed to talk to you.” Faye set aside her teacup and saucer before she grabbed another biscuit.
“What about?” Sabina asked, taking another bite of her biscuit.
“I asked Mariam already, but I would like your opinion on what I should do about Cyril.”
The tea that Sabina was sipping suddenly went down the wrong pipe and she started coughing. Mariam patted her on the back until she recovered. “Wh-What did you say?” Sabina sputtered.
“Let me tell you the story…Cyril came to me and apologized for how he had wronged me two days ago. I’ve been wrestling with the question of whether or not I should forgive him. However, over the course of the past few hours, I’ve come to conclude that I love him…This is something I’ve known from the beginning, but I’ve had my doubts. I love him, but I’m not sure whether or not I can forgive him for what he did…Now, I ask you: What do you think I should do?”
Sabina was in shock. She couldn’t believe what she had just heard. Faye loves…Cyril? she thought. It made no sense whatsoever. A young girl like Faye falling for a thirty-two year old bachelor? Something wasn’t right about that. And not just that, Faye had seen Cyril do his worst to Sabina and she was drawn to the same man who executed such injustice? How could that be?
“Sabina?” Faye said as she waved in front of Sabina’s face. “Hello?”
Sabina shook her head and came back to reality. “Huh? What?”
“What should I do?”
Sabina cleared her throat. “I’m sorry. I just got lost in my thoughts for a moment.”
“That’s all right.” Faye had an idea of what Sabina would say, but she wanted to hear it anyway.
“Faye,” Sabina began with a sigh, “you know I love you like a sister…and I wouldn’t tell you to do something unless I would be willing to do the same.” Faye nodded. “So, I’m going to tell you that you’re crazy.”
A quizzical look came across Faye’s face. She wasn’t sure if she had heard Sabina correctly when she said she was ‘crazy.’ So, she said, “Come again?”
“Faye, I’m sorry, but how can you possibly love Cyril after all he’s done?”
“I just do!” Faye shouted defensively.
“You can’t ‘just’ anything, Faye! You can’t love Cyril!”
Mariam felt where things were going and took that as her cue to leave. Neither Sabina nor Faye acknowledged her absence.
“And why not?”
“You know why, Faye. Th-Think of all the damage he’s caused! He bought us, murdered my husband, he’s raped me on multiple occasions, which resulted in the birth of my-,” The twins' faces flashed across Sabina’s mind, but she ignored them long enough to make her point. “Children…He raped you then went on to take advantage of your feelings, and…”
Faye leaned forward and asked, “What?”
Sabina just shook her head dismissively.
Faye sat back in her seat and considered all Sabina had said. Yes, Cyril had done a lot of damage, but her love remained true. She was hopelessly in love. Her love was unconditional and ever abounding. “But…he said he loved me, Sabina.”
“More than once, at that! And I think he wants to make me his lady,” Faye added with a flip of her hair and a proud smile.
Sabina shook her head and studied Faye. She wasn’t getting anywhere with her. The girl had changed…and obviously not for the better. Maybe reasoning with her will help, she thought. Then she took a deep breath and said, “Faye, Cyril doesn’t love you.”
Faye raised an eyebrow upon hearing this. That couldn’t possibly be right. Cyril seemed so sincere. “Wh…What?”
Sabina didn’t hesitate to repeat herself. She was going to be relentless and drive her point home. “He doesn’t love you, dear. All he’s concerned about is his satisfaction; you’re nothing but a pawn in his little game. The only role you play is fulfilling his fantasies.” She paused to let Faye chew on that and possibly respond before she continued.
Faye couldn't bring herself to accept what she was hearing even though deep within her heart, she knew it was true. “N-No…” she said, her voice quaking. “You-You’re wrong about him.”
“No, Faye. You and I both know how right I am. He played the both of us. He told me that he wanted me to be his lady long before he told you, meaning that he only came to you when he couldn’t have me.”
“N-N-,” Faye began to hyperventilate as her fantastical world began to crumble around her.
“Yes, that means you were the runner up in this case, darling.” Sabina questioned whether she needed to be so harsh, but she decided that since it seemed to be highly effective, she’d use it as long as necessary. “As much as I…hate to tell you this, you were never his first choice.”
Faye hung her head and looked like she was about to cry. Sabina thought she had won, but was surprised when Faye opened her mouth and said, “Is that so?”
“Yes, it is,” Sabina replied matter-of-factly.
“Hm…Then would you mind explaining to me why he noticed me before he noticed you back at Bernard’s?”
Sabina was taken aback by this. She recalled Cyril noticing her first. “I’m sorry, Faye, but I think you’re mista-,”
“No,” Faye said as she rose to her feet. “You’re the one who’s mistaken! Cyril saw me before he even considered you. He wanted me upon sight…it was obvious. Then you intervened,” she said with a wrinkle of her nose as she sat back down.
“That doesn’t mean he loves you, dear. Open your eyes—Open your ears and listen to what I am telling you! Cyril used you, he used me; he used the both of us…but I’m afraid he used you more.”
“At least I made it worthwhile!” Faye spat. “Unlike you, I received his advances willingly, never pushing him away when all he wished was to show his love for you.”
Sabina sat back in her seat and looked at Faye in disbelief. She had lost her. Faye was too far-gone; so wrapped up in Cyril, she couldn’t be unwound even by the soundest voice of reason. Every time, Sabina tried to reason with her, the girl would immediately come to Cyril’s defense, concocting some type of explanation or justification for his rash actions.
“What happened to you?” asked Sabina.
“Cyril,” Faye replied simply. “My dear sweet Cyril happened to me and I like it.”
“This isn’t the Faye I know.”
“No, it’s not,” Faye said with mock sympathy. “That Faye is dead. New Faye is here to stay, so you might as well get used to it.” She stood up and straightened her dress then said, “It was nice talking with you, but now I have to go have a little chat with Cyril.”
“No.” Sabina grabbed Faye by the arm and said, “I can’t let you do so without hearing me out completely.”
Faye looked at her as if to say: ‘How dare you.’
“Must I remind you of the fateful night Cyril accosted you?”
The smug look on Faye’s face changed to a look of horror as the memories began to flash across her mind. She shook her head no, but Sabina proceeded.
“How did it feel, Faye?”
“Stop it,” Faye whispered.
“How did it feel to have Cyril pin you down, strip you bare, and feast his eyes on your naked flesh? How did it feel to have his hands run over every inch of your body?”
“Please stop,” Faye begged as she fought the tears that were forming in her eyes.
“How did it feel to have him violate you with his lips, tongue, fingers, and his member?”
“Stop it!” Faye screamed as she struggled to break free of Sabina’s grasp, but Sabina was too strong.
“Did it hurt?”
“Let go of me!”
“Did. It. Hurt?” Sabina reiterated.
“…Yes,” Faye choked.
“I can’t hear you.”
“Yes!” the young woman wept as she sank to her knees.
“A lot…and he j-just wouldn’t stop! No matter how much I begged!”
“No matter how much you cried, screamed, and resisted?” Faye shook her head as she let out a few broken sobs. Sabina paused to let the girl catch her breath before continuing saying, “Then, how do you think I felt when Cyril raped me and made my husband, Lionel, watch?” Faye bit back a sob. “How do you think it felt when I discovered I was pregnant by that monster and not by Lionel?”
“I-I’m sorry,” Faye sobbed. Sabina couldn’t tell whether Faye was apologizing for allying with Cyril or for the horrible things that happened to her.
“But, do you see my point?” Sabina asked, releasing Faye’s arm. She nodded. “Do you see now why you can’t stay on his side?”
Faye rubbed her arm for a while, pondering Sabina’s words. Then she cleared her throat and said, “Yes, I understand.” Sabina was about to breathe a sigh of relief, but Faye cut her off saying, “But, I refuse to be another you.”
“I will not be another Sabina De la Rosa!” Faye looked Sabina up and down then scoffed. “Cyril adored – No – adores you. He would spend his last penny on you. He’d probably even die for you. He showered you with all of the good things. He bought you the best clothes, the finest jewelry, made sure you were well fed, and…he even let you have his children.”
“I never asked for-,”
“Then there’s me…Yes, he gave me almost everything you got, but one thing was missing. Do you know what that something was, Sabina?” Sabina didn’t answer. “It was love.”
“Faye, why are you saying all of this?”
“Cyril loves you, Sabina!” Faye shouted. “He offered to make you his lady twice and what do you do? You reject him both times! How could you? How dare you?! How dare you reject something too wonderful for words? I never would’ve done anything like that…in fact I practically would’ve jumped into his arms and begged for the wedding to be the very moment after he asked…” She chuckled hysterically. “I hate you.”
“What?” Sabina asked, confused by where the conversation had suddenly gone. One moment Faye was questioning her and berating her. Now she was declaring how much she ‘hated’ Sabina.
“I. Hate. You,” Faye said in a darker tone, emphasizing every word.
“May I ask why?” Sabina asked calmly.
“You were always the one to get the most attention. You were purchased the most and returned the most. You captivated Cyril the moment he saw you and you still captivate him. You have him in the palm of your hand yet you refused to let him express his love for you in the most sacred way possible.” She scoffed. “But, you know what? That’s fine…because I’m going to make him love me the same way he loved you, if not better.”
Suddenly, Sabina slapped Faye so hard she knocked her to the floor. Sabina slowly rose to her feet and said in a calm voice, “Shut up, Faye. You know nothing of what you speak. Do you think I asked for my beauty? My grace? My poise? Do you think I asked for the fire in my eyes that draws men to me like moths to a flame?
“No! I never asked for that…or any of this.” She gestured to the room they stood in, referring to their current situation. “I never asked for Cyril’s twisted love, my children, or for you to get caught in the middle of all of it…” She stepped over Faye, who sat holding her cheek, and headed for the door. “Mark my words; Cyril is incapable of loving anyone other than himself. So, please don’t think that you’ll be able to change that because you won’t.” Then with that, Sabina left the room.
Faye remained there on the floor, holding her cheek and seething. The heat of her anger built and a tear escaped her eye. I don’t think, she thought. I know.