Today, I decided to write a brand new scene. This takes place before Kent Ashton met Ann Statesman in Falling In Love With Her Husband.
I am trying to get into Kent’s mind to figure out why he did what he did in Falling In Love With Her Husband. Below is a scene I just wrote in first draft form for your (and my :D) enjoyment. I plan to write more in the weeks ahead because Kent is turning into a very sympathetic character….now that I’m beginning to see what was going on in his life. So we’ll see how things progress as I go along. 🙂
“Do I have to be go?” Kent Ashton asked his parents as the horse carriage swayed gently from side to side.
His father grumbled in irritation. “We’ve already been over this. The Johnsons are a good family, the kind of family you’d do well to associate with. After the grief you caused us in New York, the least you can do is show us enough respect to please this family. Mr. Johnson is a shrewd businessman. He owns a thriving group of hotels. If you make a good impression, he might hire you when you’re done with your schooling. Then you’ll never lack for anything.”
“And after learning that your grandparents have left us next to nothing in their will, we need you to be wealthy,” his mother added.
His father’s jaw clenched. “My father was a fool with money. I can’t believe he squandered all of it on bad investments. If he wasn’t dead, I’d…” He glanced at Kent and cleared his throat. “Never mind all that. We’re here for a new start. We have a little wealth remaining, but it won’t last long. I mean it, Kent. Don’t tell anyone we’re one year away from poverty unless you marry a wealthy lady or get an excellent job.”
“Preferably, both,” she whispered, opening her fan and waving it. “You can’t have us living as paupers, Kent. That’s no way to honor your parents. It’s best Wilma is back in New York.”
“So you’re saying I can’t marry someone I love?” Kent asked, hiding the bitterness in his tone as much as he could.
“Wilma came from a family of few means,” his father barked, his eyebrows furrowed. “If you want to marry for love, then choose a lady who happens to come from wealth. One lady is just like any other, and there’s plenty of wealthy ones to choose from right here in Virginia.”
No, every lady wasn’t the same as any other. Wilma had been the only one who’d loved him for himself. She’d seen past the riches his family had enjoyed. She’d been like a breath of fresh air. And now she was married to someone else, thanks to the way his parents manipulated things. Kent looked out the carriage window, not really seeing the houses as the driver directed the horses down the street. He couldn’t bear to make eye contact with his parents right now. Not when he might give away his resentment. Nothing would make a difference at this point. He couldn’t go back and change the past. Wilma was still married to someone else and always would be. All he could do was continue on with his life and make the best of it.
The carriage came to a stop, and the driver opened the door for them. His parents left the carriage first, his father shooting him a warning look. When the driver turned his expectant gaze to him, he reluctantly stepped out of the carriage. Before him stood one of the finest houses he’d ever seen. Mr. Johnson was definitely a wealthy man.
“Let’s not keep him waiting,” his father said and took his mother by the arm.
Kent straightened his hat and suit jacket and followed them. They climbed the steps to the porch, and he clasped his hands in front of him as his father knocked on the door. He closed his eyes, hoping tonight would go well. As the butler answered the door, he opened his eyes and forced a smile he’d been instructed to wear.
“Good evening,” the butler greeted, his tone solemn. “May I ask your name, sir?”
“We are the Ashtons,” his father replied. “Mr. Johnson has invited us to dinner.”
“Please enter.” The butler moved aside and waited until they stepped into the entryway before leading them to two french closed doors and opened them. “You may wait here while I notify Mr. Johnson that you are here.”
Kent joined his parents and entered the large parlor.
“My goodness,” his mother whispered in excitement. “Look at the fine furniture. This chair alone must have cost a fortune!” She ran her hand along the velvet pink fabric on the arm of the chair. “I’ve only dreamed of owning such a luxurious item.”
Kent rolled his eyes and sat in another chair. He tuned his parents out as they gushed over the other expensive items in the room and made plans on what they would buy once he secured their financial standing.
Fortunately, it wasn’t long before the butler returned, bringing Mr. Johnson, his wife and two daughters with him. As the butler left, Kent rose to his feet and waited to be introduced the man his father assured him would be the most important person in his life. Mr. Johnson introduced his wife, and Kent made sure to compliment her on her dress as his parents had instructed. If he could get into her good graces, his parents were sure that it would be easier to win Mr. Johnson over.
“This is my eldest daughter, Rebecca,” Mr. Johnson continued, “and my youngest, Joan.”
Kent ignored the way his father’s eyebrows rose. He knew what his father was thinking. Rebecca was his age, or at least close to it, and if Kent could be Mr. Johnson’s son-in-law, then the plan would be a sure thing. Kent made eye contact with is father and gave a slight shake of his head. His father shrugged and turned his attention back to Mr. Johnson. Kent placed his hands behind his back and clasped them, squeezing as hard as he could so he wouldn’t give away his irritation. He would never court Rebecca. It wasn’t that she was homely. On the contrary, she was very pretty. But within a few seconds of meeting her, he could tell she had no substance. When he chose a wife, she’d be someone he could at least maintain a decent conversation with.
“Dinner is ready,” the butler announced, approaching them.
“Good,” Mr. Johnson said with a wide smile. “I hope you like lobster. We had them brought in fresh this morning.”
“We love lobster,” his father replied. “But you shouldn’t have gone through all that trouble on our account. Lobster’s not cheap.”
“Nonsense. We do nothing but the best for our guests.”
“We’re humbled by your generosity.” He shot Kent a meaningful look. “We’re fortunate to be here tonight.”
“That we are,” Kent’s mother added, appearing way too happy about the evening.
“Good,” Mr. Johnson said. “Then let’s eat.”
Kent waited until the others were heading to the dining room before he followed, thinking this was going to be a long and tiring evening.