The Wicked Widow of Opal Street
hey acquainted with high society? ”
Raiva held a hand to her face and blushed from embarrassment.
/No wonder he was so aggressive towards the end.
”No. No, I did not. And yes, he did. And yes, he is, ” she finally answered incredulously.
”-Fucking men-, ” muttered Octavia, though so low and without moving her mouth, that Raiva was convinced she had made it up
”Alright. Is the person who gave you the ribbon in the house tonight? ”
/Oh, no no no no no.
”Yes, ” she croaked, her head spinning.
”Very well. We have three options.
”One, you now know the meaning behind it, and you could accept if you so desired, though it will likely be obvious to anyone else who would know the meaning. ”
/Lord Cassian. Probably Shelly-
/Oh, **. Thats why Shelly was so interested in my hair earlier.
”Two, we remove the ribbon. That will make it fairly obvious that you know the meaning behind it, and it will serve as a firm rejection, though men of course aren always known for handling firm rejections well. I would perhaps particularly be concerned if he lives in the house, although I spotted a lock on what I presume is your bedroom door, so it could be fine. ”
/I highly doubt Victor has such a disposition, though I can think of a number of men that would react so strongly.
”Miss, he won - ”
”Three, and my personal suggestion, we change your dress. ”
Raiva was genuinely surprised at someone suggesting she discard something so symbolic and important for an issue like this. Especially someone who didn know how long she had mourned for.
”I know, and I am sorry. Your dress is a good quality fabric, but fairly worn by the hem, and so I hoped an appropriate time may have passed already. Please her me out.
”This way, he won realize that you have caught the underlying meaning. It will simply look like you have decided to end your mourning period, and you decided to wear something that perhaps suited the ribbon you have been gifted, as a coincidence. He might still interpret it as an acknowledgment or a subtle reciprocation of his advances, but it is -much- easier to deny and explain away. ”
Octavia finally paused, and drew in breath. She was looking at Raiva, clearly waiting for her decision, glancing at the door. They were both keenly aware that dinnertime was steadily approaching.
”The third one. It would spare everyone involved the most embarrassment, I hope. Could you help me? ” Raiva asked hopefully, very aware, that she did not have much of an eye when it came to her own clothes, nor time to carefully consider. More than once had she been persuaded out of certain color combinations and clothes too casual or formal for the occasion.
/And I do not need to make more of a fool out of myself today.
Octavia initially hesitated, but quickly decided it might be for the best, and hastily nodded before grabbing her bag and following Raiva into her dressing room.
”This is all of it, Im afraid, ” she muttered, suddenly almost regretting disposing of most of her wardrobe.
Octavia dismissed her worry genially, saying ”Im sorry if I sound rude, madam, but Im sure we shall make do. How about this set? ”
This was exactly what Raiva had worried about would happen. She had pointed to the marigold skirt and vest.
”While is is technically an outdoors leisure outfit, no one really makes the distinction anymore, ” Octavia continued, not noticing her hesitancy. ”Oh, the stitching on this is wonderful. What is it, habotai silk lined linen? It needs some steaming, but- ”
She fell silent when she saw Raivas facial expression.
”Whats wrong? ”
”Well… Its a long story, but the first time we met I think I wore that set, and Im worried it will- ”
”Affirm his advances further? I see. A wonderful set once you remove the ribbon, just as a future reference. Beautiful with your eyes and hair. ”
Raiva found herself inexplicably blushing again.
Octavia glanced around and her eyes fell on a gray plaid item tucked into the corner.
”Now this is a corset skirt! What is it made of? A silk and merino wool blend? With silk lining? ” she looked to Raiva to confirm.
She in, turn was a little flustered from the onslaught of questions, only being able to stammer out, ”Y-yes. To all of it. The silk lining on this one is a heavier kind though, since it is intended for colder weather. ”
Inwardly she was relieved that she went through every one of her clothes with a seamstress to confirm that she had a good selection of versatile, durable clothes from the mountain she started out with. And that she remembered any of it.
Octavia gave her a hearty laugh and a delighted smile, relieved that this wasn another case of a beautiful woman with too much money, having no idea what she owned. Not that she would have blamed her, of course. It would simply be a pity.
”Well then, madam, is it fortunate that tonight will be cold, so no one could blame you for wearing wool in early spring. Im told the water might freeze again tonight, ” she patiently explained, her eyes darting around again.
Before another minute had gone by, Octavia had found a plain ivory linen blouse and dug two close-to-marigold yellow cuff links out of her bag, as well as a needle, thread and a pair of scissors.
It only took her another minute or two, with Raiva looking on in astonishment, to carefully remove the already attached cuff buttons and make adjustments for the cuff links to fit.
”There, ” Octavia mumbled with the needle still between her teeth, placing the equipment back into her bag. ”All ready. Then, Ill excuse myself. ”
She bowed politely again and made to leave for her room.
Raiva hurriedly call out, ”Miss Octavia! ”
”Thank you, so much. Youve gone above and beyond for me despite having no reason, ” she said hesitantly, not sure how to convey her thanks properly. She finally decided to bow her head so far she went into a small curtsy, continuing ”Im indebted to you. ”
Octavia looked at her for a second and seemed to consider her gratitude quite seriously.
”I shall remember that, madam, ” she finally said with a radiant smile on her face, before leaving the rooms for good this time.
Raiva flushed at her bright smile, and felt suddenly nervous about putting on the skirt she had just been carefully caressing and investigating with her hands.
/Stop overthinking it.
Hearing the faint clattering of cutlery and ceramics, she hastened her pace and managed to put the laid-out clothes on in record time, only struggling with the cuff links.
/This is much harder one-handed, isn it?
A gentle knock sounded from the door to her bedroom.
She froze and looked up nervously.
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