Wanting to relax after assisting Ella in the kitchen, Chantal curled up on the sofa in the parlor room next to Devlin as he read a quote aloud to her from her favorite book, Sons and Lovers, a novel written by D. H. Lawrence in 1913.
“Recklessness is almost a man’s revenge on his woman. He feels he is not valued, so he will risk destroying himself to deprive her altogether,” read Devlin.
He glanced over at Chantal who seemed absent and preoccupied.
“What are you thinking?” he asked.
“For the first time in weeks, I can read or listen to some of my favorite sentimental quotes from the book without crying.”
“How do you really feel about facing Miles tonight?” asked Devlin.
Scratching her head, Chantal chided herself for second guessing her dinner invitation to Miles. Then smiling, she answered his question. “This book was a litmus test for some of my decisions.”
“How so?” he asked.
“It was my love for Paul and Miriam’s love story that motivated me to sign up for the high school drama class, where I first met Miles. Because of their story, I understand the influence that Miles’s mother has in his life. I’m not angry, and my heart doesn’t ache anymore when I think of him as my ex boyfriend. My memories of our relationship are pleasant now.”
“My, my, you’ve matured so much since the first day I sat down and talked to you in the courtyard,” said Devlin.
“I will be nineteen years old in December, but with the loss of my parents and the break-up with Miles, I have a better appreciation for the adage that life goes on.”
At that moment, the sound of gravel crackled under the friction from tires in the summer heat, as a car pulled up and came to a complete stop in the driveway.
Chantal looked at Devlin and asked, “Who could be here this early?”
“Let’s go see,” he said.
As they walked into the foyer, Leslie Brent could be seen getting out of his black car through the windows in the foyer. He wore a formal one button black jacket, with black and grey striped trousers, and a white dress shirt.
Chantal opened the door.
“Hi Leslie. What a nice surprise.” she said.
“Sierra did not tell me that she invited you to the dinner party. You’re early.”
“Hello Leslie,” said Devlin.
“Hi there,” said Leslie.
“Chantal, I better get going so I will be on time for dinner,” said Devlin.
“OK,” I will see you later,” she said and Devlin walked away.
“Chantal, I was not invited as a guest. My mother called me this afternoon and asked if I could be available to help her serve dinner for some very important guests this evening. She told me to dress in a formal servant’s uniform, ” said Leslie.
“Your mother? I’m confused, I don’t understand,” she said.
“Chantal, my mother is Ella, she’s been the housekeeper for the Lloyd family for years,” said Leslie.
“Oh Leslie, I’m so sorry. Please forgive my manners for having you stand outside this long. Do come in,” said Chantal apologetically.
“No worries. So you see, I’m only here to help her out,” he said.
“I was just surprised to see you that’s all. Come on, let’s go to the formal dining room where Ella and Sierra were a few minutes ago, setting the table.”
Leslie followed Chantal to the formal dining room. Sierra saw them as she walked into the hallway to go back into the kitchen.
“Leslie Brent, is that you?” Sierra asked with an astonished look on her face.
He walked over and said, “Hello Sierra, it’s always good to see you.”
“Why are you dressed in formal servant’s clothing?” she asked.
Chantal interjected and answered the question for him. “You will never believe this, but Leslie is Ella’s son. He’s here to help her serve our dinner guests this evening.”
Sierra turned to Leslie and said, “Not that it’s a problem or anything, but is she kidding me?”
“No, it’s true. Ella is my mother.
“Well, it’s always a pleasure to see you,” said Sierra.
Blushing, he said, “The feeling is mutual.”
“I must say you do clean up nicely,” said Sierra smiling alluringly. I would have invited you, but Chantal made the dinner arrangements last night.”
“Maybe next time,” said Leslie.
“Yes, most definitely for sure,” said Sierra. “Hey, do you remember the guy that came up to me and asked about Chantal when you and I met at the café last week?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Well, that’s who’s coming to dinner, and Devlin Lloyd will be here too,” said Sierra.
“That will be interesting,” he said.
Then, Ella walked out of the kitchen pushing a light cart containing napkins and polished silverware.
“Oh son, you made it,” she said after seeing Leslie. “Thank you for coming on such short notice.”
Walking over to her, Leslie hugged her and said, “Mother, you’re my favorite girl. There is nothing I wouldn’t do for you. Here, let me get the items off the cart for you.”
“Leslie, this is Ms. Sierra and Ms. Chantal Rhys. They’re sisters.
”Mother, we’ve met already.”
“OK,” said Ella.
“We’d better finish setting the table,” he said.
“Son, remember, we will serve each course of dinner from the kitchen.”
“Yes mother,” he said.
Sierra and Chantal marvelled at the affection between mother and son, until Chantal looked up at the miniature Gothic styled Junghans clock that served as a centerpiece for the dining room table.
“Oh my goodness, it’s five o’clock,” she said. “Sierra, we need to go, and start getting dressed.”
“Thank you Ella and Leslie so much for all of your help,” said Sierra.
“We’ll be back soon,” said Chantal, as she and Sierra left the dining room to get ready for her big night.