My greedy hands snatched for the next letter and just before I opened it I noticed a date had been written on the back of the envelope in the same handwriting I was becoming so familiar with. It was dated a month ago. Why had he began dating the letters? I referred to him as a 'he' but for all I knew it could be a woman, I wrinkled my nose in distaste at the thought. Had he known that I wasn't receiving them, but that when I eventually did I would want to read them in order?
I opened it carefully and stroked the thick paper between my fingertips as I read.
I have refrained from writing to you for a month now as it has come to my attention that you aren't receiving your letters, but I could deny myself no longer. I believe that the person intercepting these will not read them as to do so would be a great betrayal of your trust, and so I have decided to continue writing in the hope that you will eventually receive them.
I beg of you to forgive the emotional tone of my last letter, now that I know you hadn't received my gift I bear you no ill will for not wearing them. It appears that when it comes to you my judgement is askew.
Life for me has been mundane and dreary these last weeks without the opportunity to see you brightening my existence. I do not wish to frighten you though, or arouse the suspicions of your protectors any more than I have already. So I will refrain.
Know that I think of you often.
I felt my heart flutter in my chest as I re-read the last sentence again and again.
'Know that I think of you often.'
Part of me wondered how this person knew the things he spoke of in his letters, but I didn't feel afraid, only frustrated that he had been so close but I hadn't noticed him.
Almost automatically I reached for the next letter.
Still your so-called protector intercepts these letters but refuses to read them. Do you think it tortures him to be so close to the truth but so unable to pass that final threshold? I think so.
But let us not talk about him.
I hope you are finding things with which to occupy yourself after your graduation, employment perhaps? I do not know as I have been kept away from you on business. Sometimes I wonder what you would write back to me if I gave you a means of doing so, but for now I think things are best left as they are.
The sun is beautiful here and I often find myself wondering how it would change the colours in your hair, were you stood under its rays. I think I will have to return to you soon, my life without you in it even in the smallest of ways; is incredibly dull.
As always I am
As excitement and butterflies flooded my stomach I wondered if I should feel guilty about feeling such a way toward a total stranger. Wasn't it a betrayal of Edward's love to be feeling like this about someone who I had never met? I couldn't help it though. The way he composed his letters to me were so beautiful and emotive that the bookworm within me had fallen after the very first letter, I think.
I looked at my bed and felt an overwhelming wave of sadness crash over me as I viewed the last letter and package on my bed. I almost didn't want to read it because then it would be over. Still, I tore the envelope open carefully and pulled the package toward me as I read.
I grow frustrated at your beaus lack of action, to know that I am writing these letters but still you are not receiving them irritates me beyond recognition. I can only hope that he decides soon. For now I will continue to write to you like this, only hoping that when you finally receive them you understand that I have not abandoned you.
Soon it is to be your nineteenth birthday, It is an important birthday indeed. So I have enclosed a gift appropriate for the occasion and hope that you forgive my spoiling you, I simply cannot restrain myself.
I noticed your appreciation for fine literature and as I have come to understand you are not a woman who wears much jewellery, I opted for a different type of gift this time.
Know that I envy my gift for being held by you, even before you have done so.
I sighed appreciatively as affection for this stranger bubbled within me, he really was a fine artist when it came to the written word. I had been holding the package as I read and at first its weight had confused me, but now that I had read the letter through in its entirety its weightiness made sense. I unfolded the brown paper carefully and a small note fell from within the yellowed pages of the book I had yet to look at properly. The note read:
Many happy returns, dearest one. I would have written so within the first page of the book, but did not wish to depreciate its value should you choose to sell it on. As I maintained in my first letter these gifts are yours to do with as you wish and I will not feel offended if you would prefer the money to spend as you desire. Somehow though, I don't believe you will. Especially not with this particular gift-
I looked back at the book, it was absolutely beautiful. It was bound in tan calf and gilded up the spine in rich golds and reds, the very feel of it was expensive. I opened it gently, appreciating the creak of the binding and the smell of the pages as my eyes scanned over the printed writing on the first page.
JANE EYRE: An Autobiography. Edited By Currer Bell
London Smith, Elder and Co 1847
I held my breath as I gazed at the page, dumbstruck. How did he know?! I felt lightheaded and so forced myself to breathe as I gently flicked through the pages of the pristine book before me. I couldn't believe it. A first edition copy of Jane Eyre, my favourite book, this must have cost an absolute fortune! I placed the book down gently before running to my computer and doing a quick google search, I held my hand against my gaping mouth as the first search results popped up.
Is he insane?!
I tried to calm myself as I hyperventilated and glanced between the computer screen and the book which laid quite innocently on my bed. I couldn't accept such a gift, could I? I had always wanted a first edition copy of Jane Eyre, since I had first read and fell in love with the characters within the pages.
I returned to the letter and the envelope which it had been encased in. The date on the back was today. Edward must have intercepted this one just before coming to see me, clearly the guilt of keeping a birthday gift from me outweighed his jealousy.
I quickly pulled my journal toward me, one I used for jotting down notes here and there. The paper was nowhere near to his standards but I felt that I had to speak to him somehow. I cringed at the sloppiness of my handwriting when compared to his, hoping he wouldn't find it too difficult to read as I began my own letter.
To… Whoever you are?
Well, this is awkward, I've only just began my letter and I don't even know how I should address you. I apologise for my handwriting, compared to yours it must be barely legible. I have only just received your gifts and letters and after opening the one intended for my birthday I felt like I had to write you a letter of my own.
I don't even know how to begin to express my thanks for the book. It is absolutely beautiful and I have wanted one for as long as I can remember, but I cannot accept such an extravagant gift. No one has ever spent that much money on me, let alone a stranger.
I don't want to leave it outside with this letter, in case it gets damaged. Please respond with an appropriate place to leave it so that you can retrieve it, undamaged.
Thank you for the lovely letters and gifts, i'm so sorry I couldn't wear the pearls to my graduation. You are right, they would have cheered me up immensely.
I quickly re-read my rough note through, It was hideously rushed compared to his but It would have to do. I snatched it up and quietly trod downstairs and into Charlie's home office, he was currently snoring on the couch in front of the football. As I searched for an envelope I realised how ridiculous it was that I was trying to hide such an action from Charlie, he wouldn't mind that I used one. I just didn't want to have to explain what I was using it for.
Once I found one I stuffed it in the envelope quickly and sealed it with some sticky tape, I had always hated to lick them and didn't want to take the chance that Edward would open it and reseal it whilst it was still wet. This way if it was opened there was no way of hiding it.
I tiptoed to the front door and out onto the porch, as I closed the door behind me and breathed in the cool night air I realised I was in pyjama shorts. I felt heat suffuse my cheeks at the thought of being watched by him whilst looking like this. My eyes scanned the tree line for a long time before I came away disappointed and placed the letter on the wood which still felt warm beneath my bare toes. This was where Charlie had found my first letter, so I could only hope that this was where Edward had found the rest of them, and that my friend, whoever he was, would find my note to him.
A/N: Again, please review.