After leaving Felix the note in the Gear, Brielle nervously left to the docks down the way. She picked a complicated route back home, as she did not want Felix to easily find her and interfere with her plan. She was not looking forward to answering for her actions when she got home. However,she had to do what needed to be done to save her sister from the same miserable fate she herself had nearly suffered. Certainly, if she had asked Felix, he would have helped her in her quest to save her sister, but in Brielle's mind this mess was her own doing. If she had never left home, her sister would not be in Philip's clutches. Besides, Felix had enough on his plate with finding Tura' lu and she didn't want to add one more thing for him to worry about. She settled in to her seat on the ship and sighed heavily. Life was such a mess sometimes. She fell asleep against the window until the next dock.
 
Upon reaching her destination and waking up groggily, Brielle located the correct ship to get her to her home port. With a pit in her stomach she boarded-how would she explain everything to her parents? Phillip? Would she be able to get away again? Would they consider her ruined enough to just let her go peaceably? These questions swirled around her mind as she pulled out her ladylike clothing, got assistance from a maid to lace her in to her corset tightly("Oh my...far tighter than I remember!" she thought to herself) and powdered her unfashionably dark skin to be acceptably porcelain pale with the white powders she had so detested when living at home.
 
Gazing at her own reflection, she felt disquieted. The girl looking back at her was the girl she had been before leaving home-a far cry from who she had become. This girl looking back at her was fragile with a tiny waist, no room to breathe from the tightly laced corset, with a doll like pallor, delicately rouged lips and cheeks, unnaturally wide eyes and not a hair out of place. Everything her parents and Phillip wanted her to be. How distressing to be able to again morph into this powerless creature with so little difficulty!  She turned away from the mirror with a worried frown and gathered up her belongings, slipping the gun that Felix had given her into an easily accessible pocket of her bag. She walked down the dock to the road, and hailed a hansom cab to take her the rest of the way home.
 
Meanwhile, in the Rejected Gear, Felix walked in from a trip. He looked for Brielle, and not seeing her in the bar, he went to her room and knocked. "Brielle? Are you here?" He got no response. He then went to his own room and finding it empty, thought to himself that perhaps she had been out for some air. He went down to the bar and poured himself a strong whiskey, as the day had not gone well and his favorite non alcoholic distraction was currently missing. Upon sitting at the bar, he noticed a piece of paper that under further inspection was a piece of suspiciously ladylike stationary that distinctly smelled of Brielle's perfume. He groaned, knowing she only left notes when she was going to be gone for some time. "What are you getting yourself into now?" he mused as he scanned the letter. Upon finishing he stood up quickly, loading some weapons while exclaiming, "Dammit Brielle!" Without another word, he left the Gear, leaving some very confused patrons behind.
 
Brielle walked up to her childhood home, heart pounding as she raised her hand to knock on the door. After a few solid knocks and a very quiet moment of tense waiting, her mother answered. With a look of shock she simply stated, "Brielle, dear, what are you doing home?" before going very white and fainting, crumpling to the ground. Brielle thought to herself that fainting was indeed a bothersome trait that she would have done better not to inherit.
 
Hearing the telltale dull thud of many skirts and a bustle hitting the ground, Brielle's father rushed down the stairs "Beatrice what has happened-" He paused, spotting his until-then missing daughter. "Brielle." He blinked as though he could not believe his eyes. "Well...I have to say, this is a surprise. Help me get your mother up." "Hello to you too, father." Brielle walked over, pulled out some smelling salts and waved them under her mother's nose.
Lady Serra began to stir and upon opening her eyes, asked, "Is it really you, dear?"
 
"It is really me, mother." Brielle sighed heavily.
 
"Oh...well dear...excuse me but we didn't know you were ever planning on coming back....why are you home now?" Her mother had a most peculiar look on her face.
 
"Madeline and I have been corresponding....I believe there is to be a celebration?" Brielle looked very puzzled. She wasn't expecting warmth towards herself, for sure, after the stunt she pulled. However, she had expected her Mother's mood to be otherwise buoyant-nothing thrilled her more than the prospect of marrying a daughter off to good money.
 
"A celebration, dear?" Lady Serra enquired.
 
"About an impending wedding, I believe." Brielle replied shortly, as warning bells started to go off in her head. "Now that you are back home, sweet girl, there certainly shall be!." Lady Serra replied brightly.
 
"Oh no. Oh no oh no oh no" Brielle thought. Something was very wrong here indeed. Madeline was not forcibly engaged to Phillip. In fact...it seemed as though her mother thought she, Brielle, the runaway bride, had come back home to marry him! 
 
 As Brielle stood there puzzling over the situation, Madeline came down the stairs, and upon seeing Brielle, rushed to her. "Bri!!!!" she cried out, and then hugging her tight, whispered into her ear "That cad was hovering over me watching me write that letter. I wrote you other letters in our old code to warn you  but I suspect he tossed them before they could be sent. I'm so sorry, you shouldn't be here! Now he is going to try to rush the wedding and marry you!" She stepped back, hands on Brielle's shoulders and eyes bright with tears.
 
Brielle felt a damp cold kiss on her cheek and jumped. "My dear, I am so glad you reconsidered and came back" She shuddered. Phillip. She mutely looked at him with an expression of disgust and loathing, as she put together the pieces of the puzzle. The letter...the fake engagement.... every last bit of it was Phillip's doing. She was honestly disappointed-for all that Phillip was a bore, she had never believed he was capable of anything truly malicious.
 
"Oh look, the poor dear is speechless with excitement! What a picture perfect couple you two make!" Her  mother was fluttering about with excitement. "A title and wealth, a perfect match, what a life you two shall have!"
 
"Indeed we shall" Phillip murmured as he put his arm around Brielle and pulled her close. She squeezed her eyes shut, attempting to keep her self control. "The sooner our life together starts, the better my dear, am I right?" He said loud enough for the whole family to hear.
 
"Some time for planning the wedding...and to reacquaint ourselves would be nice." Brielle whispered, and then smiled weakly. She most definitely did not want to get reacquainted with Phillip but it was the only way she could think of at the moment to buy time.
 
"Nonsense, nonsense, we have known each other since childhood. Plenty of time to get reacquainted after the wedding, if you know what I mean, dear. Or perhaps you don't. You will speak with her tonight about such things, Lady Serra?" Brielle nearly choked, having in fact already had this particular talk with Ara and a lovely demonstration with Felix. Then she nearly gagged at the thought of doing such with Phillip. She blanched to a shade of white paler than her makeup.
 
Misinterpreting her daughter's reaction, Lady Serra whispered to her, "Oh my dear, it is nothing to worry about. It won't require much of you other than to lay back and think of England! Not complicated at all!"
 
"So says you." thought Brielle, while forcing a smile at her mother. She knew better. Did all mothers tell their virgin daughters such lies when sending them to the bedroom with distasteful husbands?
 
"She still has her dress prepared from before she left?" Phillip enquired, giving Brielle's arm an affectionate squeeze.
 
"Indeed she does. Come along sweetheart, we need to check for any last minute alteration needs and discuss some womanly things!" As her mother led her away her eyes shot daggers at Phillip. He smirked in satisfaction.
 
Later on that evening, Brielle and Phillip were alone on the balcony, as the elder Lady Serra had decided the young loves did in fact need to reacquaint themselves at least for an evening before the wedding. "So my dear, I understand that you had a case of cold feet? I am so very glad you had a change of heart and decided to come back home to your dear fiancé." She glared at him, desperately trying to think of a way out. "Speechless with joy? Me too." he murmured, toying with a lock of her hair and leaning in to kiss her. She jerked sharply back.
 
He sighed. "Still ever the lady I see. I was hoping that perhaps your journey away from the restrictions at home would have loosened you up just a tad." She blushed and he noticed the rising color. "Oh! So, it is only me you are frigid with. Who is the lad?" She shook her head, trying to hide her face in some loose curls. "Most likely means nothing. You probably just mooned over some sailor like a schoolgirl. I know the lady in you would never allow something untoward to happen." She blushed even deeper with shame. "How interesting....you still look like a lady...but I suspect that perhaps you might be quite ruined beyond what is acceptable to become my wife." He paused, knowing that sweet Brielle had a hidden temper. He was confidant she would speak out if only provoked enough.
 
Sure enough, she couldn't contain herself. "Felix said I am not ruined! I set much more store by him than you, especially now that I know that not only are you a bore, but you are a deceitful, lying coward!!" She clapped a hand over her mouth and Phillip chuckled.
 
"Men tell many lies to trick pretty girls into being ruined." He clucked his tongue. "Brielle, I never thought that you would fall for lies and sweet words-it's the oldest trick in the book!" Mortified, she turned a deep crimson and a single tear tracked down her face which she quickly brushed away with the back of her hand.
 
"This makes me very sad," He pouted "I had thought to make a proper woman out of you, wed you, take your title, share my wealth...You are the vision of a proper wife! Too bad looks can be so deceiving." He brushed his thumb along her full lower lip. "Lucky for you, you are still quite desirable...I can find a place for you in my household. Provide housing, necessities, your ladylike fripperies and provide for any brats that may get produced. I can marry your sister for the title.  Even though she has a rather churlish personality, she, at least, is a lady in society's eyes."
 
 A resounding crack was heard as Brielle slapped Philip, then stood up and made to bolt. Phillip grabbed her arm and slammed her into the wall, kissing her in a most revolting manner. "I set out to have you, and I will, one way or another. This has been a long time coming, the only thing saving you from this was your status as a wife-able lady with an excellent title! Now that that particular idea has gone down the drain....I am not so patient, M'dear."
 
 She let out a muffled scream as he went to pull up her skirts, attempting to knee him in the groin and instead getting tangled. She elbowed him in the jaw, resulting in some oaths and curses but ultimately resulting in him redoubling his quest to have her. He grabbed both her wrists with one hand and resumed the difficult task of managing her heavy skirts with the other. She made it difficult, kicking and twisting in his hold. Just as he had nearly succeeded in his vile quest and was making to undo his trousers, the boom of a gunshot cracked through the air and Phillip slumped down, releasing her wrists and tracking blood along her dress.
 
She slumped down in relief, and shook Phillip's body. "Phillip??? Phillip!!!!" She realized he was quite dead. Relief and horror flowed through her in equal measure. As she heard footsteps coming up the stairs from inside the manor, she looked up to find Felix standing on the balcony ledge.
 
"You know you shouldn't run away like you did. It worries me." he said grabbing her hand and heading to the edge of the balcony with her. "I said you shouldn't come back here, and this is why." he took hold of the rope from his grappling hook, "Let's go. Quickly now, before your family finds this mess." he grumbled as the two slid down the balcony.
 
Upon making it to the Alicia Grey, Brielle broke down, hysterically sobbing into Felix's arms. He simply held her and made note to talk about everything when she had finally calmed down, as nothing would get through to her right now and would in fact only further upset her. Thankfully, this time, everything ended up about as fine as could be expected...as for next time, he had ensured that would never happen. Philip was now dead as a doornail. He clenched his jaw at the thought of what nearly had happened to Brielle, and squeezed her tight, as they headed back to the Rejected Gear and home.
 
 
 
 
 
  
 

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