Continuing Tales

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 3 of 48

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The carriage rolled along the road toward Hyde Park. Usually a trip to the park would have put a smile on Alice's face. Tonight however it did not. Because tonight, Hyde Park was the location Lady Ascot's welcome home soirée. And an Ascot soirée most assuredly involved three of Alice's least favorite things: Lady Ascot, London society, and Lowell Manchester.

Unfortunately all three things were unavoidable. The first two could be dealt with easily. Act like herself and they would avoid her and thus she would avoid being pestered. Lowell however she could not avoid. As her closest male relative, he was her keeper tonight along with her mother.

When she had mentioned the annoyance to her mother before they left, the woman had quipped back that all she had to do was marry and the situation would be avoided in the future. Alice of course hadn't appreciated the comment and had hopped into the carriage with a huff. Right into Lowell's lap.

The blackguard had been far too pleased for his own good to help Alice into her proper seat, brushing his hand against the underside of her breasts and derrière. Alice had only been able to glare at him before her mother and sister had entered the carriage.

Now rumbling along London's dirty streets she'd had only her dress for comfort. It had turned out beautifully. Lighter and airier than most gowns of the current fashion, it was also perfectly cut across her chest. She looked like a woman, but not one that men like Lowell would prey upon.

Alice looked at the man in question out of the corner of her eyes. Three years, one child born, and another on the way had obviously not changed Lowell's behavior. Even being in the city for only two weeks she had heard the rumors. Lowell, according to her valuable Chattaway twin resources, had a mistress on the West side of the city. An actress to be precise, one that kept rolling in fine silks and jewels.

Alice smiled to herself. Now that she was back, she'd be able to hold her threat to Lowell three years ago over his head more easily. The thought gave her extreme pleasure and finally put a smile on her face. Even in the darkness of the carriage, the act didn't go unnoticed by her ever observant mother.

"Something amusing Alice?" she asked.

"Oh just realizing that I have some promises I'll be able to keep now that I'm back in the city." Alice smiled evilly in Lowell's direction. The man paled noticeably causing Alice to grin wider. Her mother merely shook her head. The smile began to fall as she registered her own words though.

Promises …

A few minutes later they had arrived. Alice drew a breath. Time to face the wolves.

Alice leaned wearily against a wall. Her feet were killing her! She hadn't danced in three years and they were having a hard time readjusting to actions and missed placed toes of the gentlemen.

"Miss Kingsleigh?" The gentle voice made her jump. Looking wildly side to side, Alice caught site of the owner of the voice.

"Captain Williams!" Alice cried with pleasure. She leapt forward to hug the man. He froze only momentarily before returning the embrace with a chuckle. Stepping back, Alice to a moment to refamiliarize herself with his face.

Salt and pepper beard, bald head, laughing hazel eyes. Yes, this was the man who had humored her whims for three years with grace, often getting into the fun with her. He had taught her to play chess and shoot a revolver and she in turn had taught him how to brew a proper cup of tea. Seafairing men drank far too much coffee …

"How are you fairing my dear? If I remember correctly you typically detest these sordid affairs." His eyes held a trace of humor but she knew that he felt the same about such events.

"Tolerably well sir. I've kept up a running list of The Wonder's various parts and accoutrements to relieve myself." She sighed.

"Well, take a break and come join me. I'd like you to meet my family." With that they meandered their way through the crowd.

"Fanny! Jonathan! Come here, I wish you to meet the lady of the hour." Captain Williams called out. Immediately two people broke away to join them.

"Fanny, Jonathan, may I introduce Miss Alice Kingsleigh. Alice, my family." The man said.

Mrs. Fanny Williams immediately came forward to grasp Alice's hands and kiss her cheeks. She was a handsome woman, with her curling auburn hair and violet colored eyes. Her smile instantly put Alice at ease.

"Miss Kingsleigh! It is indeed a pleasure to meet you! Horace has been regaling us with stories of you adventures for the past two weeks and I've been so eager to make your acquaintance!" Fanny Williams exclaimed.

"Alice please madam, and it is a great pleasure to meet you as well!" Alice smiled.

"Fanny dear, if you please. May I introduce our son, Jonathan?"

The young man stepped forward and executed a perfect bow over Alice's proffered hand.

"Do I get the gratification of addressing you as Alice as well miss?" He grinned down at her.

"Only if you allow me the gratification of addressing you as Jonathan." Alice quipped back with a curtsey. Jonathan smiled happily.

They talked of the voyage and the company before Jonathan asked Alice to dance.

"Only if a Mazurka is suitable to you of course." He smiled easily at her. Alice couldn't help but grin back.

"Quite the contrary sir. A Mazurka has yet to put me off my tea!" And with that they took to the dance floor. The dance was fast paced enough that they didn't have to speak, which gave Alice the chance to observe her partner.

Jonathan had his father's hazel eyes and powerful build and his mother's auburn hair. For so tall a man, he wasn't gangly as he danced. In fact he was extremely graceful. He would probably be able to futterwhacken with no problem.

Alice's smile froze on her face. The memory rose like a tide in her mind. Hatter's futterwhacken. Such a beautiful dance. The memory of it made her breath catch. He'd been so happy during the dance and then she'd crushed that happiness with her goodbye. Alice felt tears gather in her eyes and dashed them away.

"Alice? Would you like to take a rest?" Jonathan's voice was full of worry. Alice could only nod and quickly made her way off the dance floor with Jonathan in tow.

They reached the punch bowl. Alice closed her eyes and tried to clear her head. She was rudely interrupted by a snide, nasally voice.

"Well if it isn't Miss Adventure herself. Hello Alice."

Alice slowly turned around, praying (again!) that her ears were deceiving her. Unfortunately her eyes told her she was not. There stood Hamish Ascot. He was as pale and as red haired as ever and had not lost any weight.

"Hamish." Alice nodded in his direction. It was all she could manage without mentioning her last observation.

"Did you happen to find `right man for you' on your travels or did all the foreign males realize your madness as us Londoners have?" Hamish's lip curled disdainfully. Alice felt Jonathan stir in indignation behind her. She reached out a hand to calm him.

"No Hamish, unfortunately the language barriers prevented that happy occasion." She kept her voice even. She refused to fall to Hamish's level. Jonathan though seemed ready to pounce.

"Ahem!" A high pitched voice kept him from speaking.

Alice looked to see a pale, dark haired young woman waltz up and slip her arm through Hamish's. Alice had an itchy feeling she knew what was coming next.

"Miss Kingsleigh, Mr. Williams, allow me to introduce my fiancée, Claire Beaton. Claire, Jonathan Williams, son of Captain Williams, and Alice Kingsleigh, my father's … apprentice." Hamish said the last word with contempt.

The young woman's eyes widened.

"Apprentice? A young woman of your station is an apprentice in … business?" The disbelief in her voice finally tipped Alice over the edge. Time to act like herself.

"Why yes of course. What else could an unmarried, unlady like lady possibly do? I suppose I could sit at a home all day and contemplate ladies in trousers and men in dresses, but that would be highly unproductive wouldn't it?"

Miss Beaton stood there with her mouth gaping like a fish and Hamish was turned a lovely shade of red. Alice smiled serenely as she felt Jonathan shaking in silent laughter behind her.

"I think the most productive activity for us Alice would be to leave the happy couple to make themselves less … "

"Thunderwhapped?" She finished for him.

"Yes, precisely. Shall we take a stroll around the grounds?" Jonathan asked happily.

Alice nodded and took his arm. Before leaving, she paused to address Miss Beaton.

"I would keep Hamish away from the rout drops. His indigestion isn't the most reliable thing in the world."

Miss Beaton's mouth snapped shut and Hamish turned a satisfactory shade of plum.

Alice and Jonathan laughed and walked out into the fresh air. Once outside they quieted down and strolled peacefully for a time. Jonathan eventually broke the silence.

"I must say Alice, you are the most interesting woman I have ever met. I'm glad to count you among my family's friends."

Alice flushed with pleasure but before she could answer, a little voice caught her attention. Except this time it wasn't in her head.

"Interesting? Muchness is the proper word! What a dolt to be calling the Alice interesting." The voice seemed to be coming from the flowers. Alice knelt in incredulity. She bent her ears to the ground but heard the voice no more. Her eyes scanned the ground trying to figure out where the sound had come from, when she caught sight of it. A single white rose, perfect in every way, surrounded by what appeared to be a court of other flowers. Alice caught her breath.

"Alice?" Jonathan's voice sounded so surreal.

"I'm not sure you should be happy about our friendship Jonathan. I seem to be becoming barmier by the second." She whispered. She stood quickly and began to walk back inside, leaving Jonathan in her wake.

Once back inside, she immediately ran into her mother.

"Alice darling slow down, a lady doesn't walk at such a pace! Now who was that young man?"

Alice looked at her mother and saw the light in her eyes. They screamed potential suitor. Alice narrowed her eyes at her mother and backed away.

"A friend mother. No more, no less." And again she swept away. She let her eyes wander the crowd as she tried to forget her mother's scheming expression. Her thoughts were so far away she didn't realize where she was until she ran into her sister's chair.

"Alice! Are you alright?" Margaret's asked.

"Fine, sort of. Margaret, I think I'm going mad. Again." Alice sighed as she sunk into the chair next to her sister. They were in the ladies lounge, thankfully alone.

"That's not something to worry over dearest, you know what father always said about madness, all the best …"

"People are, yes, I remember. I always remember that." Alice said with a smile. Margaret smiled as well and took Alice's hand. They sat quietly for a few minutes, when Margaret suddenly gasped and squeezed her hand.

"Margaret? What is it?" Alice asked in alarm. Her sister's eyes were wide and wondrous.

"Oh Alice! Feel!" Margaret put Alice's hand over her swollen stomach. After a moment, Alice felt it. A kick right under her hand, from inside Margaret's stomach.

"It's the baby Alice! It's moving!" Margaret laughed out loud. Her happiness seemed to be spilling over, yet Alice could only smile.

This new event was just another tally, but it was one that created a tie. Tie between her staying and going.

Hamish's attitude Lowell's behavior had been pushing her to return to Wonderland. Yet now Jonathan's friendship and the baby were making her believe it was right to stay.

There was one thing she couldn't deny though.

The (talking?) white rose in the garden had been a sign.

The question now though was how many signs she really needed before she made a decision.

Bonkers To Be Late

A Alice in Wonderland Story
by RosieLilyIce93

Part 3 of 48

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