Abby no sooner walks away from the Queen when she is approached by the Grand Duchess. She is beginning to surmise her encounters with this side of the family to be much like proceeding through Dante's Inferno. "Onward to the next circle," echoes in her head as she watches the approach.
The Grand Duchess is polite but curt as she plies Abby with a very thinly veiled threat. Abby's mother had always warned her away from the Grand Duchess. The warnings whisper in the background of her thoughts as she takes in the Grand Duchess. She watches her movements as the words flow forth from her lips. The Duchess ends by making a rather catty remark about the tiara upon her head. Abby knew the story of the tiara… this tiara would illicit reactions. She had almost forgotten it was upon her head. The reactions are the reason why she wore it instead of her mother's tiara.
Abby can feel the eyes of the room upon her. Essentially, she is surrounded and the first rule of being surrounded on hostile ground is to act like it is the most normal interaction in the world. The only way to win is not to play the game.
Liam watches the encounter from afar. He observes the subtle changes in Abby's expressions. He can sense the hostility and the grace with which Abby seems to handle herself when under fire. After her encounter with his Gran, Liam watches Abby steal away to the terrace. Liam realizes that this may provide him with the perfect opportunity for a long overdue and proper introduction.
Abby stands facing away from him as Liam approaches. Liam pauses for a moment to observe his sibling. He looks for clues or a least commonality between them. This is the closest he has been to her. He takes in her subtle details as he gazes in her direction. Len shared her stories but it is time he gets to know her himself.
"It is impolite to lurk in the shadows, Liam." Liam is caught off guard by Abby's words. He was unaware that his presence was known to her as he musters his swagger and walks to her side. "I thought it about time we had a proper introduction… what should I call you? Princess Victoria?"
As she turns, he notices her eyes. There is no mistake that this woman is a child of his father. It is her eyes. She has her father's eyes. Abby as she returns her gaze outward towards the gardens. She gives him a sidelong smile. "Please call me, Abby." She offers her hand in introduction. Liam takes her hand, kissing it.
"Come on now…such formality…. give us a hug… you are my brother after all." Abby opens her arms to embrace him.
Liam is again caught off guard by her warmth. She embraces him like Eleanor always has. He takes in a familiar signature scent. It is not his mother's perfume. It is not Len's. It is woodsy with hints of amber and fire. The scent triggers a flash of a memory that he cannot place as they pull apart, Liam is suddenly at a loss for words.
"So out with it, Liam." She taps him on the arm. "Ask what you want to ask."
He laughs at her candor as he takes a sip of his glass to center himself. She is very much like their father and Robert. Despite all of the details Len had told him. He did not know what to expect and he did not expect to feel oddly at home in her presence. "Liam, I have known you your whole life. There is no point in being shy now."
He realizes that Abby has taken a seat on the wall and is staring straight at him. Without warning, the questions flow from his lips. Every unfiltered thought, every curiosity becomes fair game. At first he startles himself but Abby's reaction is as warm as her hug. She answers his questions, treating the interaction as if it was the most normal interaction in the world.
The rather lengthy conversation is abruptly concluded by the unexpected intervention of David.
"I hate to interrupt but Liam, if you do not mind; I need steal away this lovely creature for a while. You both have been missed at the party." David extends his hand to shake Liam's. David offers his arm as Abby runs her hand down Liam's shoulder as they depart.
Abby no sooner leaves when another familiar face appears by his side. It is his polo playing spitfire of a friend, Willow. He is quite happy to have the company.
Willow hands him a flute of champagne with a smile. "Well now that seems to have been quite a conversation." She gives him a wicked smile. "I would imagine that you are quite parched."
"How much did you hear?" Liam takes a healthy draw from the glass.
"Enough." She pops away from him, returning with a bottle. "Come on… I think some therapy is due." Willow leads Liam away from the main house towards the expansive and magically lit gardens.
Eleanor notices Abby's return to the party as she chats with her cousins. "Have you met her? I heard she is quite a hippie… you know "burning man" and all. " Penelope asks with what appears to be genuine curiosity framed in air quotes. "Her fashion sense is a bit… different." Maribel adds motioning towards the ground drawing attention to Abby's outfit. A smile crosses Eleanor's face as she notices a peek of the sole of a Doc Marten revealed beneath the rather sedate couture gown worn by her sister as she walks through the crowd.
Eleanor can't help but roll her eyes as she gazes upon the rather unique outfits of her cousins. "I think she has a rather unique style… powerful." She volleys a round into what will prove to be a rather entertaining exchange with Willy Wonka's fashion advisors.
Abby feels Eleanor's stare and exchanges wink as she sashes into the abyss of the Rothchilds.