Silent are the Bells Chapter Sixteen: Hang on to the Moment
written by Sugarberry

“How did you get this together on such short notice?” trilled Noreen as she entered Whitehall Place, her husband following. Both ponies were eying the extravagant floral arrangements that had transformed the interior of the mansion into a florist’s dream. Garlands of greenery and white roses cascaded down the open banisters of the stairway. “You’ve outdone yourself, Lena.”

“Thank you, Norie,” smiled the mare. “This is a momentous occasion, you know.”

Noreen could not deter the frown that suddenly marred her face. “Lena, we should be celebrating the engagement of our offspring tonight, not Brietta and some outsider!”

Niles put a restraining hoof on his wife’s foreleg. “Noreen, you agreed not to cause a scene.”

“You made me promise not to cause a scene,” Noreen reminded her husband. “And besides, it’s only Lena I’m talking to, and she understands well enough.”

Lena propelled her guests toward the living room. “I understand how disappointing this is that our dreams for our children never materialized; Norie, but both Sloan and Brietta have made their own decisions in this matter. We can’t force them to love one another when they’ve found their mates in another direction.”

“Just what I’ve been saying all along,” agreed Niles. “Brietta and Sloan grew apart emotionally just as the miles separated them physically.”

“Whatever became of ‘absence making the heart grow fonder’?” snapped Noreen.

“It’s too late now to be talking like this,” chided Niles once again. “Brietta has accepted Dorian’s proposal; and like everything else in the mare’s life, she’ll follow it through with all the fervor she can give it. We can only wish them well.” Niles sighed. “But, like Noreen, I wish things had turned out differently.”

“Dorian has become an important part of this family as you both know; but, yes, I can’t help regretting that things didn’t work out between Brietta and Sloan the way we had always planned they would.”

“They’re plenty old enough to know their own minds,” said Aiden, coming in on the end of the conversation. “And this evening is a celebration of the commitment Dorian and Brietta have made to one another; I want nothing to spoil it.”

“I’ve said my piece,” pouted Noreen.

“And I’ll make sure she keeps her peace,” smiled Niles. “Now, Aiden, how about showing me how those plans of mine are shaping up on the third floor.”

As the two stallions walked off to the stairs, Lena worked to repair Noreen’s wounded sense of justice.

“Colleen and Riley arrived this afternoon, while Glenda came yesterday already from Cascade. Kevin will join her here tonight, assuming he remembered that he was to come; you know how forgetful he can be when his mind is on that newspaper of his.”

“It’ll be nice to see your sisters again; will their families be able to make it as well?”

“Doyle and Dilyn are coming together.”

“What else is new? Those twins were never far apart.”

“Doyle is engaged now, however; his fiancee will accompany them.”

“And what about Dilyn? You once mentioned that she was causing her parents some grief over that poet or artist or something.”

“I believe that’s a thing of the past.

“And will Glenda’s children be here?”

“Oscar can’t make it; his wife is due any day now; but Chandelle and Trevor will be here. In fact, Chandelle came with her mother and is staying in town with a college friend. You know Ruth Baskings, surely.”

“And what about their youngest one... Ross, is it?”

“He’s tied up at school, so he won’t be here. He’s a wild one, I hear.”

“Who else is staying at the house?”

“Edward and Clara Grant from Capital City.”

“They’re the couple that Dorian has chosen to represent his parents at the wedding?”

“Yes; they’re wonderful ponies. You’ll like them both,” Lena assured her friend. Then, glancing at the approach of her two sisters from the direction of the staircase, she smiled. “Here are Colleen and Glenda now.”

After a chatter-filled reunion between Noreen and Lena’s sisters, the mares moved out to the patio which was arranged to accommodate the overflow of guests that were expected in the course of the evening. Clarence, Anna, and Lissy were busy with last-minute preparations along with additional help from Noreen’s recommended caterer.

“Lena, the house is always lovely, but it seems to be at its best tonight,” Colleen complimented.

“I want everything to be perfect; Brietta and Dorian are so happy with each other.” Lena cringed, waiting for Noreen to begin harping on the unfairness of it all; but Noreen held her tongue. Dissension came from another quarter.

“I can hardly wait to meet this Dorian,” admitted Glenda. “He must be quite the charmer to steal Brietta away from... Sloan.” She realized the unthoughtfulness of the statement at the last second and looked regretfully at Noreen.

“Rest assured that anything you’re thinking has already been mulled over by Lena, Aiden, Niles, and me,” acknowledged Noreen. “What Brietta and Sloan are thinking is anyone’s guess. But I’ll graciously admit that Dorian is an excellent fellow.” Noreen rather countered her affable statement by adding, “If he was marrying someone other than Brietta, I’d be a lot happier about it.”

Clarence admitted several guests at that moment, so the mares broke up to welcome those they knew and to make the acquaintance of those they did not. Aiden and Niles returned with Riley, and soon the influx of invited guests began to fill the house and spill onto the patio in earnest.

Upstairs, in the temporary room on the second floor that harbored Brietta now with the third floor level enmeshed in construction disarray, that mare was sitting before her mirror gazing at the reflected image as Lissy drew locks of her mane into clusters of purple curls anchored with teal silk ribbons and accented with deep pink roses and white baby’s breath. She sat tall, almost regally, as she watched the maid- who had a knack at hair design- bring her silken tresses into lavish artistry.

“You couldn’t be more beautiful!” Lissy sighed, tweaking one last curl into place over Brietta’s lavender forehead.

“If that’s so, it’s all because of your talent,” Brietta smiled at the petite maid. “I really appreciate you doing this for me.”

“It’s my pleasure. But I couldn’t turn you out to look like this if you weren’t so lovely to start with.”

Brietta’s eyes sparkled back at Lissy in the mirror. “I do feel beautiful, Lissy. I can’t remember ever being so thoroughly content or happy, and it’s all because of Dorian.”

“He’s one dapper stallion all right.”

Laughing, Brietta remarked, “I’ll relay that sentiment to him, Lissy.”

“Don’t you dare, Miss Brietta! He’ll tease me mercilessly.”

“You’ll love every second of it, and you know it.”

“He does have a way of making a mare feel special.”

“Very special,” murmured Brietta, resting her gaze on the engagement ring.

Following her gaze, Lissy reminded her, “Don’t forget, you’re wearing your jewels tonight.”

“For the very first time,” admitted Brietta. She reached out to the royal blue velvet case on her dressing table and released the catch to open the lid. Nestled inside was the gift her parents had given her on her arrival back home. She reached out slowly, the diamonds dazzling her all over again as they had the day Aiden and Lena had surprised her with their purchase.

“I’ve never seen anything sparkle like they do,” Lissy breathed.

“Aren’t they grand?” agreed Brietta as she lifted the necklace to her neck, allowing Lissy to fasten it discreetly amidst her curls. She slipped on the matching bracelet and the ear rings and looked at herself in the mirror with appraising eyes. “No one will notice me...” she giggled, “...just the diamonds.”

“Oh, no, Miss Brietta. They’ll notice you for sure. And Dorian... well, that stallion is going to be impressed.” Lissy bid the mare stand up and turn around so that she could assess the total look. After adjusting first a curl here and then a ribbon there, she stood back and smiled her approval. “Perfect.”

“Thanks, Lissy.”

“And I better run down to the kitchen to help Anna now; she doesn’t trust anything those extra helpers do.”

“You tell Anna that I want her to have a chance to enjoy at least part of the evening,” admonished Brietta.

Rolling her eyes, Lissy countered, “She’ll enjoy it best if she’s hard at work.” Then, the maid left Brietta to finish her last administrations by herself.

Brietta recollected that she had not applied any perfume and went to look over her choices. Her eyes fell on one elaborate bottle that tried to mimic the brilliance of her diamonds. “Flourish it is,” she said softly. Realizing that she had not recently heard any other hoofsteps go by her room in the guest wing where she was located, Brietta knew that the time was nearing for her and Dorian to make an appearance. She left the quiet haven of the room and walked to a spot near the top of the stairway where she could check on the activity below without being seen herself. She found herself searching the foyer for only one face, that of the grey stallion who had come to represent all that was right with the world.

“Dorian,” she whispered softly, thinking back to the night of her welcome home dinner when she had first met him. His responsiveness from that first acquaintance had become for Brietta a healing balm for the betrayal she had felt when Sloan had turned his back on her. Dorian’s ready acceptance of her and his delightful way of setting her apart as if she was the only mare worth courting had gone a long way to heal the invisible wounds that had marred the mare from the time she had heard Sloan’s words to Finella concerning Brietta- ... the filly who tagged after me... she’s kind of like my little sister.

To be thrown aside so unexpectedly and so blatantly had hurt Brietta more than Sloan could ever know. For the intervening years, she had made sure that her feelings for that stallion would never again be the cause of such total devastation for her. With Dorian’s appearance on the scene, that void in her life created by Sloan had found replenishment. Once more her heart could fly.

The long violet hair materialized through the grouping of ponies at the foot of the stairs, and a pair of dark blue eyes gazed upward.

“Dorian!” Brietta said, a smile lighting her pensive expression.

The stallion lost no time in meeting the mare at the top of the stairs, taking her hoof in his, his eyes holding hers with such a loving touch that Brietta could not breathe. “What have I done to merit such an exquisite mare to consent to be my bride?”

“You have been my knight... my chevalier... and I give you my heart.” confided Brietta, her green eyes shimmery with emotion.

“I give you my heart in return, Brie,” Dorian said, then he grinned. “Just be careful with it, okay?”

“I promise,” Brietta grinned back. “And Lissy was correct, you are totally dapper.”

“Dapper... that’s a good thing, right?” Dorian asked, taking a step closer to the mare.

“A very good thing,” answered Brietta, lifting her face to his.

“Are you two ready?” came Aiden’s voice from the stairway. Two heads swung as one in that direction.

“Miserable timing, sir,” Dorian said, a disappointed look on his face.

Aiden only laughed. “Perfect timing, I’d say. I’ll call everyone’s attention so we can get this party underway.”

As her father walked down the stairs to stand at a point of prominence on the fifth step where he was joined by Lena, Brietta straightened Dorian’s tie and entwined a strand of his mane around her hoof. “This is it, Dorian. There’s no backing out once Father makes the official announcement.”

“You couldn’t get rid of me now if you tried.”

In the limelight, Aiden began his long thought-out introduction. “Friends and neighbors, relatives and associates, we welcome each and everyone of you to Whitehall Place where we are gathered to celebrate a milestone in the ongoing history of the Manning family. This spring saw the arrival home of our only child, Brietta, fresh from the portals of law school and ready to take her place beside her grandfather and me as the newest member of Manning and Associates. Over the past few months she had proven herself to be of inestimable value to each of us there... and to one in particular.

“You are all aware of the close friendship that has existed between Sloan and Brietta over the years, and it seems fitting that it was Sloan who brought Dorian to Whitehall where he proved invaluable to the firm and to Brietta.

“The two young ponies have found each other to be the perfect complement and have made the momentous decision to unite their lives as one. Lena and I take great pleasure in announcing the engagement of our daughter, Brietta Manning, to Dorian Adams.”

Concluding his speech, Aiden turned to the top of the stairs with Lena, and Dorian and Brietta made their descent to the applause of the crowd. Brietta hugged her parents while Dorian shook Aiden’s hoof and hugged Lena as well. When the clapping of hooves had died down, Dorian spoke.

“Aiden was correct in saying that Brie is of inestimable value to me; she has made me the happiest stallion on earth by accepting my proposal, but just so that you know it was sincere, I’d like to ask her the question one more time in front of witnesses.”

Dorian turned to Brietta and, taking her left hoof in both of his- the engagement ring twinkling, between them, asked, “Brie, will you marry me?”

“This is a yes or no question, right?” teased Brietta so softly that only Dorian could hear, her eyes twinkling in competition with the diamonds.

“Actually, there’s only one answer I’ll accept,” Dorian replied in a whisper, his eyes promising retribution for this delay.

“Yes, I’ll marry you, Dorian,” the mare answered loudly enough for the spectators to hear, smiling at the stallion. “Did I get it right?” she queried under her breath.

Dorian did not respond, nor could Brietta tease him with another word. The stallion had swept her into his forelegs and delivered a very intense kiss on those very kissable lips, leaving a slightly inebriated mare by the time he was through.

“Did I get it right?” he mimicked as he released her, taunting her with a mischievous grin.

“Yes,” was all she could breathe.

* * *

The room set aside for dancing was less congested than the dining room where the buffet was set up; and Dorian and Brietta made their way there to catch their breath.

“Your mother knows how to throw a party,” noted Dorian, going to the terrace doors to peer out where a number of ponies had congregated with their packed plates. “Even the patio is full.” He turned back to Brietta.

“Anna said she’d send Lissy to us with some food so we don’t have to fight the hoards,” Brietta grinned. “Are you having fun?”

“Are you kidding? I’ve got the most beautiful mare at the party hanging out with me. It doesn’t get any better than this.”

“Sweet talker you turned out to be. Keep it up.”

From the doorway came a feminine voice. “Dorey! Finally I can get a chance to talk to you!” A yellow mare with bright red hair pranced across the floor and threw her forelegs around Dorian.”

“Dorey?” queried Brietta with a raise of her brows.

“Moppet?” Dorian asked of the mare. “Is it really you?”

“Of course, silly. Who else has hair like this?” She tossed the scarlet mane to accentuate the vibrancy of the color. “I couldn’t believe it when Doyle told me who this party was for... well, the male half anyway.” She turned to Brietta. “We haven’t met yet. I’m Susy, Doyle’s fiancee.”

The sky blue stallion beside Susy shook Dorian’s hoof. “I’m glad to meet you, Dorian.”

“Doyle, it’s a pleasure to meet you, too. And Moppet,” he turned to the red-head again, “who’d have thought you’d grow up and snag someone reputable.”

“Look who’s talkin’, Dorian. From what I remember, you were never one to follow the rules.”

“You were just a kid when I lived with your family. Your memories must be all fuzzy.” He tousled her hair. “Just like your brain.”

“Now you see what I had to put up with,” said Susy, rolling her eyes. “ Dorey and my brother never gave me a moment’s peace.”

“She was a pesky little foal,” explained Dorian to Brietta and her cousin, Doyle. “She’d never listen to anything anyone would say and was constantly badgering everyone she could get her little hooves on.”

“She really hasn’t changed that much then,” admitted Doyle, earning a playful swipe from Susy.

“When are the two of you getting married?” asked a curious Brietta. She had never pictured such a vivacious mare for her rather quiet cousin.

“Next May,” said a new mare in their group, light blue like the stallion. “I’m to be the maid-of-honor.”

“Dilyn! Where have you been hiding?” laughed Brietta. “Your mother said you were here, but I hadn’t seen you yet.” The two mares hugged.

“I was exploring the house,” admitted Dilyn. “I couldn’t wait to see the third floor; that place is going to be fabulous.”

“Sloan’s father took our ideas and turned them into something workable,” explained Brietta. “He really got everything to fall into place, don’t you think?”

“I’d give anything to have a suite of rooms like that for myself,” sighed Dilyn.

“How do you feel about your twin getting married?” Brietta prodded. Dilyn and Doyle had been close as peas when growing up.

“If Susy wasn’t so much fun, I’d be disappointed. But as it is, I think I’ll like having a sister.”

“Mom says you two are getting married in October already,” Doyle noted, looking at Brietta and Dorian. “Yet you’ve only known each other for what... three months?” Susy and Dilyn turned their eyes on the two as well.

“Give us a break,” Dorian said. “It was love at first sight... or at least it was for me. I had to do some fast talkin’ to get Brie to see things my way.”

Shayla and Derry, along with Sloan and Finella, joined the group, and introductions were made between Finella and Brietta’s cousins. Cara and Dwaine drifted over and Egan and Kelli soon gravitated that way as well. Before long, Keri and Bram were with the old school gang as well.

“So did you and Trey enjoy the sunset that night?” Bram asked Brietta when the two had a chance to talk privately.

“Well, if truth be told, Trey had other things on his mind other than the display in the sky,” Brietta grimaced.

“I really hated to leave you out there, but Keri would have it no other way; and Trey is her brother.”

“Fortunately, Dorian was passing by.” Brietta giggled. “It did convince him to pop the question, so I guess I can’t complain.”

“What are you two discussing?” asked Keri, coming to listen in.

“I was asking about Trey,” Brietta said, winking at Bram. “I haven’t seen him around lately.”

“Nor have I,” scowled Keri. “He was supposed to bring us some stuff from an auction he’d attended, but he hasn’t shown up for ages.”

“It makes a pony wonder what he’s up to,” Bram voiced.

“He probably knows I’ll have a thing or two to say to him,” huffed Keri. “Oh, there’s Colly. I’ll go talk with her.” The mare slipped off.

The remainder of the group kept up a steady stream of conversation while other guests came and went, wishing their best for Brietta and Dorian. When the buffet had been gleaned of all anyone could ask for, Aiden and Lena once more took center stage.

“Our musicians are ready to perform, so at this time we’d like Brietta and Dorian to lead us in a dance.”

Everyone shifted to the edges of the room, and the strains of the music carried the engaged couple across the floor as if transported by gossamer wings. On cue, Aiden and Lena joined in, along with Clara and Edward, Dorian’s most understanding foster parents. Applause was heavy when the music ended, but the musicians went quickly into the next number, drawing everyone into the dance. Dorian began that dance with Brietta as well but was interrupted by Sloan, who as best man, was making use of his rights, having arranged for Finella to pair with Derry. Dorian rightly extended his hoof to Shayla, the matron of honor for the upcoming wedding..

Sloan whisked Brietta away. “You’re even lovelier than I anticipated.”

“It’s too late for flattery,” quipped Brietta. “But thanks anyway.”

“I can’t complain when my two best friends have found happiness, can I?”

“No, you can’t. I just hope you and Finella are as happy as Dorian and I.”

Sloan didn’t comment, being caught up in maneuvering the mare safely across the floor. When he could speak again, he shifted to a safer subject.

“Chandelle was saying that she had a pleasant afternoon in Whitehall staying with that Baskins mare; they walked out to the ledge and came to Whitehall Place from there.”

“Chandelle always was an athletic girl.”

They talked of mutual acquaintances until the music ended, and Sloan was escorting Brietta back in the direction of Dorian and Shayla, who had ended up across the room, when they were approached by a young stallion whom they both recognized as Brietta’s youngest cousin, Ross.

“Ross, your mother said you couldn’t make it,” Brietta greeted him with a hug.

“I had other plans, but then I got to thinking; how could I miss your engagement party? I came to wish you both well.” He hugged Brietta and shook Sloan’s hoof.

Brietta looked nervously at Sloan, then back at Ross. “Dorian’s right over there,” she said, motioning for Dorian to pick up his pace in returning to her side.

“Dorian?” questioned Ross, looking vacantly across the room. “Who’s Dorian?”

“My fiancé,” Brietta said a little fiercely, reaching out to the stallion in question as he came up to them and ignoring the snicker that came from Sloan.

Looking thoroughly confused, Ross swung his head from Brietta, to Sloan, to Dorian. “Come again?”

“Dorian, this is my little cousin, Ross. Ross, this is Dorian Adams, my husband-to-be.”

“Nice to meet you,” Ross said, shaking Dorian’s hoof, “but what happened with you and Sloan?” He directed the last part to Brietta.

“Sloan and I are friends, just as we’ve always been.”

“Oh, well, I guess I should have read the invitation Aunt Lena sent. I’d just assumed when Mom said it was an invitation to your engagement party, that it was for you and Sloan. Sorry, Brietta.”

Not knowing whether to laugh or scold the young stallion, Brietta turned to Dorian for guidance.

“Well, Ross,” Dorian smiled, “in this case, Sloan’s the best man, but that doesn’t mean he gets the mare. Brietta and I are the ones who are betrothed.”


“Oh, Ross, get out of here,” Brietta laughingly said, giving the stallion a gentle push in the direction of the dining room.

“He doesn’t have a clue, does he?” Dorian asked.

“Not a clue,” Brietta concurred.

* * *

The evening was progressing well with Brietta and Dorian circulating through the guests in an effort to talk with every single pony in attendance. Their foray to the patio soon had them parted, however, as Sloan and several other stallions had caught Dorian up in their talk; and Brietta had been swamped with a circle of mares admiring her sparkling gems and extending their best wishes for a wonderful future.

In the midst of the activity, Clarence came to fetch Dorian, explaining to him that there was a phone call for him. Accompanying the butler into the house and then to Aiden’s study where some privacy might be expected, Dorian complained. “Couldn’t you have just taken a message, Clarence?”

“I did suggest that to the caller, but he was quite insistent that his business with you was urgent.”

“I hope this doesn’t entail my early departure from my own engagement party,” Dorian grimaced.

Clarence directed Dorian into the room where the phone waited, then quietly slipped out, closing the door behind him.

* * *

“This is a great party, Brietta,” drawled Trevor’s voice as he came to join the crowd around the mare. “But where’s Dorian?”

“Dorian’s...” Brietta looked around her, expecting him to be withing close range, but he was not. “Where is Dorian?”

“Lost him already,” teased Trevor, shaking his head. “This doesn’t look good, cousin.”

“I saw Clarence deliver a message to him a bit ago,” Shayla relayed. “I’d guess he got a phone call.”

“I wonder who’d bother him here?” worried Brietta.

“Someone who needs a good lawyer, I’d imagine,” said Trevor. “And as I haven’t had a chance to dance with you yet, maybe this would be a good time.” He offered his hoof to Brietta, and she smiled her acceptance.

* * *

“Yes?” Dorian said into the receiver.

“How’s the celebration?”

The voice was gruff; Dorian recognized it immediately. “Why are you calling me?”

“Dorian, you hurt me. Aren’t we good enough friends that you can understand that I’d want to congratulate you on your engagement?”

Running his hoof over the nearly healed cut he had received on the encounter on the path from Capital City, Dorian retorted, “Who’s hurting whom? I recognized one of your goons...”

“Just getting your attention, Dorian.”

“I’ve already given you my answer, Hazard.”

“It wasn’t the right one. Give it some more thought... and keep in mind what happened the other night.”

The line went dead, and Dorian was left with a crackling receiver in his hoof and a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.

* * *

Returning to the dance floor, Dorian found his bride-to-be just completing the dance with her cousin and was quick to claim her attention. “Could I have the pleasure of another dance, Brie?” he asked, his smile at seeing her dispelling the feeling of gloom that had settled on him in the study.

“Shayla thought you got a phone call.”

“I did.”

“Anything important?”

“Just an old acquaintance; he’s been badgering me to take him on as a client”

“And he interrupted you here during a social occasion?”

“He’s not known for his good manners.”

“Then tell him to look elsewhere.”

“I have; he doesn’t understand the word no.”

“Maybe you should direct him to Father.”

“I’ll handle it, Brie. Now, let’s forget about business and enjoy the dance.”

“I’ve enjoyed the entire evening; how about you?”

“Every minute... especially that kiss on the stairs.”

“That was the highlight, granted; but I have one regret.”

“I thought you said I got it right!” Dorian stated, looking aghast. “But if you think we should try again...”

“I’m not talking about the kiss,” Brietta laughed. “I was thinking about the bells. They should have rung this evening. It would have been the finishing touch, to hear them ring out to announce to everyone that we’ve committed our lives to each other.”

“It’s a beautiful thought, but you know it won’t come about.”

“We could try to convince Grandfather again; surely he can see that life can’t be ignored.”

Dorian put his hoof to her lips to quiet her. “Silent are the bells, Brietta. Don’t fight your grandfather on this. He seems to be sparring off enough ghosts tonight as it is.”

Caught up in her own happiness, Brietta had failed to notice that Conrad was indeed quite withdrawn as if recalling other events in his life.

“I wonder if he’s thinking about Myrna,” Brietta pondered. “They would have been so happy at this time in their lives, making plans for their own wedding day.”

“I can understand how devastated he was at losing his wife,” Dorian said, his face registering a sadness that surprised Brietta. “The thought of life without you is... well, it’s just unimaginable.”

“No unhappy thoughts tonight,” coaxed Brietta. “They have no place here.”

The music came to an end, and Dorian shook off the doldrums that had plagued him since Hazard’s phone call.

“You’re right,” he grinned at the mare. “Now, tell me again just how much you love me.”

“Bunches, Dorey,” she grinned back at him. “Bunches, and bunches, and bunches.”

* * *

By the time the last guest had departed Whitehall Place and the last overnight visitors had been escorted to their rooms, Brietta and Dorian thanked Aiden and Lena once more for the unforgettable evening filled with so much good will for the coming marriage.

“With the backing of all these wonderful ponies, we should have a splendid married life,” a tired but contented Brietta said, hugging her parents one last time. “And Grandfather, we’re so fortunate to have you to share all this with, too.”

Accepting his granddaughter’s hug with a resigned air, Conrad offered his advice. “Hang on to the moment for all it’s worth.”

He said no more; but it was obvious that he was thinking that all too soon, the happiness of this night would be lost to Brietta and Dorian just as his joy had evaporated when Myrna was taken from him.

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