Fifteen years had passed since Laurent had bid farewell to his pregnant wife and departed for Paris.

I promise to return after I've secured a better life for our family my love.

The last look he had caught of her face, as the carriage had pulled away, was indelibly etched on his mind and his heart. It was a memory he recalled frequently in the long lonely hours of the night when his heart ached from her absence.

Outside his workshop, the hustle-bustle and organized chaos of Paris life reigned. Overtime he had grown used to it though his heart yearned for the warm serenity of his home in Bordeaux's countryside.

Laurent had worked for years, pouring blood, copious amounts of sweat and frustrated tears into mastering the craft of an apothecary. As a result of his hard work and deep knowledge of herblore and potions: he was firmly established among the nobility as a pre-eminent apothecary with a special gift for reversing the effects of time and bringing youth back to aged or damaged skin.

Despite this success, he continued to push himself relentlessly: nothing less than perfection could be accepted if his love's future and comfort was to be assured.

I must give her the life she deserves.

A knock at the door cut his thoughts short.

"Monsieur!" a stout jolly man called, "two letters for you!"

"My thanks" Laurent replied as he pressed a coin into the man's waiting palm.

As the beaming man took his leave, Laurent scrutinized the contents of the first letter. The thick vellum of the paper had soaked the rich ink which was inscribed with twelve words that assured his family's future.

Appointment of Mr. Laurent as Chief Apothecary of his Majesty: the Queen.

With the ascension of the new Queen who was known for her indulgence in high fashion and beauty, he knew it was an opportunity of a lifetime.

He turned his attention to a decidedly less ornate and much more humble letter. But where his eyebrows had only risen briefly while reading the first letter, this second letter brought a bright smile to his face, as he savoured and anticipated his love's words, as he opened the envelope.

This joy dimmed as his eyes flicked down the letter and vanished completely as he reached the end.

I miss you my love and Juliette is growing up without her father. I miss you, she misses you and we want you back home again.

Despite his wife's plea to come home, he could not return. Not yet. Not when he had finally been appointed the Queen's personal apothecary.

I will return my love. Just give me a little more time. I am so close to achieving everything we have been hoping for.