“The reason the Labyrinth is considered a myth is because it has existed since before Old Sienna was established. It was built in a time when marriage for love was dismissed as a foolish notion.”
“A foolish notion?” Olivia cast her an incredulous glance.
“Dear child, you must understand that for centuries the purpose of marriage was to form alliances and secure a family’s future.”
“What about love?” Olivia asked.
“Love? Ha!” Cousin Cecilia laughed. “Love comes later, like the mortar used to bind stones when laying the foundation while building a home. It strengthens over time.”
Olivia stared ahead blankly as she shook her head. “What about Romeo and Juliet, and the stories of Jane Austen?”
“Stories exist to entertain and inspire us. They’re merely veils of hope for when we see the ugliness of the world.”
“Then what purpose does the Labyrinth serve?” Isaac asked.
“The Labyrinth exists to grant lovers the illusion of secrecy. But in truth, it is a trap door into hell. For you see passionate love is dangerous, and unrequited love drives people to madness. Those who fall in love are condemned to suffer the purest pain.” Cousin Cecilia looked from Olivia to Isaac. “Heed my advice and relent your effort to find the Labyrinth. No good shall come from discovering the truth of it.”
“I already told her to let things be, but she doesn’t listen. She never listens!” Tia Katarina said.
“But we must find the Labyrinth,” Olivia insisted.
“Why?” Tia Katarina said.
“So we can hide this letter for the man who died trying to preserve the honor of the woman he loved,” Olivia said. “So she may know her lover’s last words to her as was originally intended.”
Tia Katarina sighed and shook her head.
Cousin Cecilia looked at all three of her guests before she pursed her lips and finally said, “If you insist on continuing with this endeavor then you must find the Last Valentine.”
“Who?” Isaac and Olivia said.
Cousin Cecilia lowered her voice and shared with them a secret she had kept for nearly half a century. A tale of forbidden love that lingered in the shadows of Old Sienna like a memory time tried to forget, but remained a legend no one dared to speak of for fear of retribution from the family shamed by scandal.
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