The Rake, The Spinster....And The Merlot?
Or Twenty Dachshunds
When Ekaterina first suggested that we court each other, I was hesitant. I thought to myself “what could I possibly want with a rake? And why does my supposed best “friend” want to take part in my undoing?”. Sure, at 23 I am no longer as marketable as the young girls of 18, but it is not my fault that all of the season’s most eligible bachelors are old, fat, short, and looking for their third wife. Mind you, after the first two have died in “riding accidents”. It seems that the day was fast approaching where I either had to accept my fate as a twenty dachshund owning spinster or succumb to Ekaterina’s peer pressure. That Ekaterina, so much for a lady as well. Half of polite society knows that she is a notorious gambler who cannot resist tempting fate, and the other half know that she only sets out on these “matchmaking” endeavors because her own marriage is a sham.
I am still unsure on how you and Ekaterina became acquaintances. Surely not by her dumber than a bag of rocks husband. Perhaps it’s better that I not pry too much. One does not know what can be found out about someone of your standing and reputation. Perhaps what she called a “blind date” was truly the best way to go about this. As no sensible woman, spinster or not, would willingly put herself in the position that we ended up in.
I have to be completely frank that when the day of the date finally came around I was willing to fling myself from my horse as to not have to attend. Mother made an awful fuss about things to discuss that were “ladylike”. Rich of her to speak of ladylike behavior when she is known in the inner circles as the Marlon of Merlot. The woman can drink any sailor under the table and WILL have your eye out if you attempt to come between her and her true love, Merlot. “The nectar of the Gods” she calls it. I reckon Bacchus would be proud, but I cannot say the same for the rest.
Now Bartholomew, If we are taking first impressions into account I cannot say that I was impressed. Sure, your golden curls, emerald eyes, full lips, and charm would make even the staunchest woman swoon. But behind the mask, the man, there was something being withheld. And I was intent on finding out what that was. While making small talk was not our forte, nor was music, nor even the way we raised our glasses to drink. All in all this supposed “date” was going downhill. FAST. That is when I decided to take a page out of the great Marlin’s book. I figured if Merlot cannot get us to tolerate each other for an acceptable amount of time to get Ekaterina off our backs, then nothing would. I was a woman on a mission. As the Merlot started to flow freely, so did our words. This is when I saw the man behind the rake. Or at least I thought I did. I learned that you were a gifted painter. Gifted enough to challenge even the great Michelangelo. Probably best not to though, bad tempter on that one. Gifted enough not only with the brush, but also with the art of words. Gifted enough to coax me to let you paint me. ME. The Merlot, words, and now paint cascaded freely all around us. In a whirlwind in which I felt the Earth stop spinning. The minutes must have become hours, because by the time the wine left our heads it felt like years had passed.
I was very well happy enough to leave matters where they were. No rake. No Merlot. No painting. Imagine my surprise when I received an invitation to Lady Greta’s annual auction, wherein the guest of honor was B. Walker and his renowned works of art. B. WALKER. That is you, is it not Bartholomew?. I know that the only eyes to ever fall upon that painting have been yours. A secret kept between two fleeting lovers of wine and art. A scandal that not even the Marlin of Merlot would be able to outdrink fast enough. So my parting words to you, my dearest Bartholomew, are: DO NOT FORGET THE MERLOT. We will need it.
All my love,