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Tonight We're Gonna Party Like It's 1699


Sophia de la Cerda
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~London, 1699~

 

Sophia stood in front of her mirror, gazing at her reflection as her maidservant dressed her for the party she and her husband was throwing for their friends this evening. Most of the day had been spend supervising the decorating of the mansion and she had been so tired that she had taken a nap during the afternoon. She had been tiring easily lately, and she was pretty certain she knew why … she was pregnant yet again.

 

She placed her hands over her stomach and smiled softly. Tonight after the party, she would tell her husband that she was expecting another child. His face would brighten with joy and he would pull her into his arms and swing her around. A new baby was always welcome news, even though they had several children already.

 

Her gown was made of a rich brocade in multiple hues, the colors brighter than those she had worn in her youth. At thirty-eight, pastels didn't suit her anymore, even though her porcelain skin still retained its youthful glow. Her figure was a bit more voluptuous after years of childbearing, but her curves were still fashionable. And now, she finally appreciated the paleness of her platinum blonde hair. Some of her friends were turning gray, but her tresses would only grow whiter as the years went by.

 

Once her hair had been dressed, she picked up the diamond-studded pearl necklace that had been laid out for her and opened the door that adjoined her room with her husband's. Her maidservant was perfectly capable of fastening the necklace around her neck, but she preferred that it be done by the tall charming Scot she loved with all her heart.

 

As she strolled in, she called to him. “Douglas, can you help me with something, please?”

 

 

{OOC: Open to everyone! Come to the party and play your characters 22 years in the future!}

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~London, 1699~

 

She was late. The day had simply escaped her grasp as it did so often leaving her feeling rushed and over-heated. Asking the driver to push the horses anxious to arrive home with enough time to have a drink, bathe, and dress in Peace.

 

The invitation to tonight's party had been somewhat of a surprise to her. The hatched had been buried long ago but she still found Sophia, even after all these years, a trial. But she had accepted. It would make meeting Christopher easier as well as Safe. Few, if any, would suspect that the wife of Sir Josiah Chamberlain had a Lover.

 

St. James Square had changed very little over the past twenty years in the way of looks. The same larges homes that had been there still were although several had been torn down and replaced. Her carriage pulled through the large open gates and half way round the circular drive to come to a rest in perfect position for her to quickly mount the shallow steps to be met at the open door by her maid.

 

"I know. I know." She waved her hand at the scolding pausing to hand over her cape and gloves turning to say over her shoulder as she went towards the set of double doors "I shall be up presently Nash do not fret. There is time enough."

 

Pausing to give her hair a pat or two and smooth the skirts of her rust colored silk gown she pushed them open stepping into a room that was occupied by two men. She went first to the man sitting in a tall backed chair covered in a rich red brocade smiling her apologies.

 

"Do forgive me My Dear ..." She bent and kissed his cheek thinking that he looked just a bit better that yesterday. "There was a problem with some invoices ....." She sat down on the small stool that was placed so he could see her directly.

 

"Hello Richard." She greeted her step-son on a small sigh. "How is Charity?" Asking after his wife who was soon to deliver their first child. "I sent along some things for her which I hope was well received?"

 

He answered her in his rather loud voice a sure indicator that he had already been drinking. Her eyes searched and found the nearly empty decanter and hoped that he would not become too hard to handle.

 

As he droned on she turned back to the man before her taking his hand into her own rubbing it gently. "How cold your hand is Josiah! Why do you not sit closer to the fire?"

 

Her brown eyes searched his but knew that a response would not be an easy thing. At sixty nine her husband was suffering from the effects of a stroke which had taken his Spirit and most of his speech. He was able to walk but did so in small child-like steps and was always attended for fear that he might fall again.

 

He had been such a strong man when they had married nineteen years previously. She twenty two he fifty. Like her father he was a Baronet. A wealthy English Merchant and Politician. A man who held considerable stock in the East India Company. By the time of their marriage he had amassed a comfortable fortune.

 

Theirs had started as a merger of two wealthy Families and a Shipping Company. And over time friendship and fondess followed. The only damper was that she was a second wife and step-mother to his only son and Heir. They had no children of their own. She had lost a child within a year after the marriage and no more had come.

 

She reached for his other hand tucking the now warmed one beneath the blanket that lightly covered him. She felt the slight pressure as he tried to squeeze her hand and looked up just in time to see him smile realizing that he had returned to the present from that place he stared off into so much now.

 

"Why Josiah are you pleased to see me?" She whispered giving him one of her soft smiles.

 

"E..L..L..E..N." He managed and nodded his eyes shinning.

Edited by Guest
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Time had been kind to John. He’d gained a great deal of confidence, and some measure of dignity. He’d also gained lands and titles, and been elevated to a duchy for his assistance in the Glorious Revolution. He’d even managed to hold a few offices, and his cousin, the Duke of Devonshire, was Lord Steward. John himself was now the Duke of Surrey, and the Lord Maldon was his heir.

 

Of course, it was 1699, and the Whig Junto was falling and the previously untouchable gods of government were falling with it. The latest victim was the Earl of Orford, and whether that spelled inevitable defeat for the last two remaining pillars, John and his cousin, or not was commonly debated in politically minded parlors and coffeehouses. Meanwhile, Scotland was plunging headlong into bankruptcy and Ireland was under military occupation.

 

But that was far from John’s mind at the moment. The new Lord Maldon was not quite like his father. He was kind and clever, yes, but more than a bit of a rake. And so it was that John was doing battle with his own son. “Now d-d-don’t be clever with me.” John said, annoyed.

 

“Who ought I be clever with?” Maldon said in reply, before he was distracted by some lady talking to her own father. She was begging for some favor or another, and as she pouted her bum was bouncing rather enticingly.

 

“S-s-some noble born lady.” John said plainly. “You’ll n-n-need to take a wife soon.” John looked over and saw the lady and nearly stared himself before managing to roll his eyes and pretend to moral superiority.

 

“By all means. Whose?” Maldon smiled at his own cleverness.

 

“Well, Lord P-p-petre isn’t using his. Go on.” John dismissed his son, waving him away from the tempting lady. As Maldon departed, John called after him, “And d-d-don’t think repartees can keep you a bachelor forever! Women find wit very attractive, you know!”

 

John sighed. Nicole came up next. John held up The Adventures of Telemachus, retrieved from his coat pocket. Nicole blushed, for the book had previously been in her coat pocket. She’d been caught, planning to sneak off again. John sighed again, this time at his daughter. “You know, I’ll have no objection if you find some nice boy to read this with. None… at all.”

 

“There aren’t any boys interested in books.” Nicole said sulkily. “They’re all interested in Elizabeth’s stuff.” Flirtation and merriment, in other words.

 

“Oh, sure there are. They’re just quiet. And you b-b-better find one if you want to find out what happens to p-p-poor Telemachus.” He pressed the book into her hands, and Nicole sulked off.

 

Elizabeth approached of her own initiative. “Father…” She said in a somewhat sheepish voice, about to beg a favor.

 

John held up his hand, “He’s over there.” He pointed.

 

Elizabeth’s eyes immediately shot over to where she saw what was, in her teenaged mind, her one true love. She smiled wide, “Thank you papa!” She kissed John on the cheek and dashed off as fast as her skirts would carry her.

 

“D-d-don’t think I’ve forgotten about last week!” John called after her. “You’re b-b-both on thin ice!” John turned to Elizabeth’s chaperon, “See they d-d-don’t get farther than kisses, eh?” The chaperon departed.

 

John turned to whoever was next to him, a bemused tone in his voice and a twinkle in his eye, “They’re g-g-going to try and sneak off together. I just know it.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

The uniform was a little tighter round the middle that it once had been, but now rather more opulent. It had changed in style as well, to suit the change in master. Those had been dark days, men divided along lines of loyalty to a bloodline and loyalty to a realm. Perhaps it had been because Douglas had worked so closely with York in the past that he had been one of the ones to jump ship. He suspected that some would never forgive him for it.

 

Still, it had been to his personal benefit, the Earl of Aberdeen mused, as he regarded himself in the mirror whilst his ghillie straightened his coat. There were lines at the corners of his deepset eyes now, and he sported a white forelock that contrasted with his black hair, now turning salt-and-pepper.

 

The intervening door between Master and Lady’s bedroom opened, and in the mirror Douglas could see his wife, necklace in her hands. Turning, the big man smiled and took the string of sparkling gems in his big hands, and fastened them carefully around his wife’s neck. Long fingers trailed along her shoulders, four on the left and three on the right, as he was missing the little finger on his right hand.

 

“Ye luik bonnie as allus.” He told her as cornflower blue eyes looked her up and down. “Shall we?” He offered her his arm, then set out at a slow pace, for he limped these days thanks to an old wound.

 

Down the stairs they came, to the grand foyer where some of their guests were already meeting and mingling. Lauchlan and Mairi – the twins who had taken the life of Henrietta, his first wife – were already circulating. Oddly it was the latter who was the bolder of the two, Douglas’s son and heir was a quieter, retiring type who took after his late mother; his daughter was all him, and sometimes disturbingly like her Aunt Fiona.

 

Throwing them both a smile and a jerk of the head that indicated they should join their father and stepmother, the two hosts approached the earliest of their guests. “Yer Grace; weelcam tae oor humble home.” Douglas greeted Surrey. “Ye ken my wife Sophia, an’ my eldest, Lauchlan FitzJames, Baron Dundarg, an’ Mairi.” He smiled at his wife as he mentioned her name.

 

The younger two bowed as they were introduced. The party was in their honour, it was their birthday, and at nineteen they were at a point where they should be stepping to the fore in courtly politics. Mairi of course was very much to the fore, but adamantly opposed to marrying, to the point where Douglas feared she might die a spinster. Lauchlan he held more hope for, if the boy paused in his studies long enough to notice any members of the opposite sex.

 

Those of their younger spawn – that was, his children with Sophia, of which there were quite a lot - that were of an age to be presented were also about the place. Quite how they were going to dower all the daughters he wasn’t certain, but he had political connections that might ease things.

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"I do not doubt it." a woman in dark salmon satin replied, her voice sultry and warm in indulgent tones. The voice tugged at John's memory, and her fragrance, lavender, spoke of times long gone, "and why not let them run along."

 

There stood Nicolette the Countess Ranelagh, her dark eyes dancing of her one time sweetheart. Though truth be told the lady had dallied with any number of her lady friends companions over the years. The Ranelaghs made a fine pair, each to their enjoyment of life yet so rarely with each other.

 

Richard not here tonight, he was upon a lads-night-out he'd said.

 

"It's been so long John." she moved to place air kisses at his cheeks, her eyes taking in the softened edges of the man, flecks of grey at his temple only added to his distinguished air. Although that air was somewhat rumpled at the moment, as he attended to headstrong children. That he'd named one of his daughters Nicole had not been lost on the french woman, who possessed ego enough to believe it an indulgence upon his memory of her. And the times they had spent.

 

Nicci's own physique was barely touched by the years; she never had had any children. Her hair was dyed as dark as it had been in her youth, and she still wore the french affectation of a beauty patch... though there was the wisdom of years in her eyes now, and when she smiled fine lines and creases became visible.

 

Then the Hosts descended the stairs. Nicolette moved discreetly apart from the Duke, her eyes admiring of their host, before she turned with a warm smile to greet Sophia. "You look divine." she whispered as she placed air kisses at the cheeks of her long time friend, reaching too to squeeze her hand as the gentlemen spoke. "I cannot wait to discover what you have planned for the evening." Sophia's parties were renown for their extravagance - you could take the girl out of Venice, but never the Venice out of the girl.

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He was standing in front of the mirror when she entered the room, and even after so many years, her heart skipped a beat when he turned to her and smiled, taking the necklace from her hand and fastening it around her neck. Sophia sighed in pleasure as his fingers trailed over her pale shoulders. His touch never failed to excite her, nor did the way his beautiful blue eyes roamed over her.

 

“And you are as handsome as ever, my darling.” And it was true. The blonde Countess still found him as irresistible as when they had first met, and she absolutely adored his white forelock. That he was missing a finger and walked with a limp did not make him less attractive to her. If anything, she loved him more.

 

Even now, he was not as old as Don Juan had been when she had first met him when she had only been sixteen. Her thoughts turned back to those days so long ago. Her first marriage had been short-lived; Esteban had passed away shortly after Juan had become Prime Minister of Spain, leaving her pregnant with her lover's child. Juan had claimed little Philip … named after his father … as his own and taken her as his official mistress, which had come with both joy and sorrow.

 

The people has believed that she was to blame for his disappointing rule, that he was too preoccupied with her to sufficiently attend to his country. He had been planning to marry her after the birth of their second son, Juan, but he had died only a week before they were to be wed. It was rumored that he had been poisoned, and she still wondered if she had been indirectly responsible for his death ... if he had been murdered because he planned to marry her.

 

Sophia had fled Spain with her sons, going first to Germany and then to Venice, before deciding to make a home for herself in England, where she had many friends. She had become reacquainted with Douglas, a widower with young twins, and they had fallen in love and married, merging their families. She had become a mother to Lauchlan and Mairi and he had become a father to Philip and Juan. It wasn't long before they had a child of their own … and then another … and another. Sophia had been pregnant eleven times and seven of those children still lived … four girls and three boys. And baby makes eight. she thought.

 

“Yes, let's not keep our guests waiting, although I'm sure the children are making them feel welcome.” She took his arm and together they descended the staircase where they were joined by her stepchildren. Sophia wished that Philip, now twenty-one, and Juan, twenty, had been able to come, but they were both in Spain. Philip, who styled himself a Prince like his father, was trying to make a name for himself in Spanish politics. Unlike his brother, Juan had embraced his English upbringing and now preferred to be called 'John.' Sophia suspected that he would return to London soon. A pretty girl had recently caught his eye.

 

They approached her dear friends Lord Surrey and Lady Ranelagh, and while Douglas introduced his children, Sophia stepped toward Nicolette and returned her air kisses. “And you look lovely as well.” She envied Nicci's trim figure, but she wouldn't trade the joys of motherhood for a slimmer shape. Squeezing her friend's hand, she smiled mysteriously. “You will be pleased, I am sure.” Sophia was known for being a patron of the arts, particularly singers and musicians, and she never had trouble finding entertainment.

 

She turned back to the gentlemen. “It is a pleasure to see you again, Your Grace,” she told John, lifting up her hand to be kissed.

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Nicolette was a blanket that warmed away the chills of the world, especially when wrapped around him. A comfortable, appreciative smile graced his face and his shoulders drooped to relaxation at her warm voice and pleasing scent. John’s eyes were still filled with affection for the Frenchwoman. Those times, for him, were not so distant.

 

“T-t-too long, Nicci.” John said, his voice comfortable but heavy with an unstated desire. She seemed just as lovely as when they’d first met all those years ago. Nicolette had, by loving him when he was awkward and supporting him in his weakness, won a place in his heart that would always be hers. And whether they knew it or not, for John was properly subtle about such things, the Ranelaghs had benefitted from that.

 

“Might we sneak off t-t-together too?” He played idly with the hem of her sleeve, threatening to reveal nothing more than a wrist but implying a great deal more. “M-m-m-make up for lost time?” Ever since his wife had passed two years ago John felt like his world was falling apart. Devonshire and Ormonde were feuding and without his wife he had trouble reconciling them. He had lost his greatest ally in handling his children. The latest political crisis had to be weathered without her advice (and even if it was resolved, Europe was on the brink of another war).

 

John longed for the comfort of an old friend in the manner of a lady. The sort of thing that couldn’t be provided by the parade of young women presented to the duke to be his next wife or mistress.

 

Then the hosts came. Nicolette moved discretely away. This was, to John, only an interruption, not an end. He smiled at Sophia, another of his old friends. “L-l-lord Aberdeen. Lady Aberdeen. Lord Dundarg. L-l-lady Mary.” John had not entirely lost the habit of Anglicizing names.

 

John kissed Sophia’s hand, though he lifted it up to his lips rather than bending down. This was the wrong way to do it, but John had grown comfortable taking allowances for his leg. “N-n-not half the pleasure of seeing you again.”

 

John had never forgotten his German friend. He had sent her money and encouraged her back to England as she fled around Europe. And he had seen her and her children well treated in England once she returned. But then she had fallen in love with Douglas and there had been a scandal. Combined with Phillip acting against English interests abroad, it had created some distance between them. Though John had still helped Aberdeen get a good commission during the Nine Years War. And he still helped her John out from time to time.

 

As for the twins, he too had more hope for Lauchlan than Mairi. From John’s point of view, it seemed like every other of Sophia’s children was problematic. “Happy b-b-birthday to the both of you. I huh-hope you like what I’ve gotten you.” John had had the gifts delivered beforehand. Rare books for Lauchlan and jewelry for Mairi. Not inspired, perhaps, but generous.

 

“Lord D-d-dundarg, why d-d-don’t you go make Lady… Nicole a bit more comfortable? She’s a tad nervous.” It wouldn’t be a bad match. And more importantly, they were of similar ages and dispositions, and Nicole needed the experience.

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The number of arrivals was already well progressed as her carriage pulled up and she was assisted down to stand patiently while her maid tweaked her gown this way and that until a whispered word caused her to smile and walk towards the entrance.

 

Time had been kind to Ellen Doolittle now Lady Chamberlain - her hair was still blonde but over the years had darkened to a rich Honey shade that suited her and her brown eyes were as alive and intelligent as they always had been.

 

Long ago she had been made the object of sport and jest's simply due to her lack of what others' thought of as 'Beauty' yet as the years past she had come into her own no longer bothered. Comfortable in her own looks and not lacking for admires or complements.

 

She had chosen topaz satin trimmed with mulberry. Her Mantua has elbow length cuff sleeves over the lace ruffles of her chemise. The trained skirt is looped back to reveal a petticoat of cream satin. Her bodice follows the rigid corset line now fashionable and accentuates her still slim figure. Her hair is dressed high with curls trailing down her back in which topaz hair pins have been artfully scattered. She wears the "Chamberlain" Necklace of smoky topaz and diamonds in its original intent - as a set.

 

She carries a small fan that is scented with sandalwood.

 

Entering she pauses adjusting her eyes to the light and more to have a relaxed look about the room. She watches as the Hosts' ascend the staircase with two of the children - for they are in reason for this gathering - with a soft smile. Even now her private ache is present as she watches them. Her desire to have children unfulfilled and the loss of it still hurts.

 

Giving a mental shake she walked further into the room with a small smile that tilted up the corners of her mouth and gave the impression that she was amused by something. She would have to greet them and so turned in that direction.

 

Her eye caught Sophia's and she gave a small nod but there were too many about so she was prevented. Time enough for it. It was an easy thing for her to move from group to group for she was well known amongst them all. As the wife of one of the major stock-holders in the East India Company few would not welcome her.

 

And if rumor was to believed soon to be an extremely wealthy widow.

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