More On Kent Ashton (Villain in Falling In Love With Her Husband)

For Monday’s “Inspiration Behind the Book” post, I thought I’d write another post that goes into Kent’s backstory.  It’s amazing how strong his point of view is now that I’ve started writing his story.  The story is pretty much writing itself since his voice is so strong.  It’s also awesome to see what develops as I continue to give him a “voice” in everything that happened from his perspective in Falling In Love With Her Husband.

I have decided that I will write his romance.  This morning when I woke up, I “just knew” that he is meant to marry one of Dave and Mary’s daughters.  The details have to be worked out, but he’ll be on his way to California when he’s attacked outside the train station in Omaha and in such bad shape that Dave brings him home to help him heal.  I’m going to browse through my Nebraska Timeline to see who the heroine will be.  😀

Without further ado, I present two scenes that go together.  These scenes occur before Kent meets Ann.  It is during the time when she’s sick at home and Todd was bringing her the homework.   In Falling In Love With Her Husband, Todd tells Ann about the new student (Kent) and that Alex welcomed Kent to school by playing a prank on him.  This post shows what that prank was and why Kent didn’t like Alex.

I hope to get the next scene up here before Friday.  *fingers crossed*

Please note: this is first draft.  There will be errors.

kent's backstory

“Make sure you don’t do anything to ruin that suit,” his father said as he entered Kent’s bedroom the next morning.  “You’re too tall to wear the your other pair of pants, and I can’t afford to buy you a new pair.”

Kent looked away from the mirror on his wall and finished adjusting his tie.  “I won’t let anything happen to these pants.”

His father approached him and lowered his voice.  “I did a lot of thinking last night, and marriage would be prudent.  It would resolve our situation much faster.  You need a good job, of course, but two sources of wealth are better than one.  Keep that in mind when you attend your classes today.”

“I understand.” So while he was pursuing his education, he also needed to pursue a suitable lady.  Hopefully, there would be someone there who would make him and his parents happy.  “It doesn’t have to be Mr. Johnson’s daughter, does it?”

“No.  I don’t care who she is as long as she comes from a good family.”

Kent breathed a sigh of relief.  At least, he’d have a choice.

“Now, this particular school I’m sending you to is one of the best Virginia has to offer,” his father continued.  “I had to use the last of my wealth to secure a position for you there.  All the ladies will bring a good amount of money into this house.  If you could secure a marriage by spring, we won’t have to let any of the servants go and no one will know our shame.”

Kent glanced at the calendar.  It was October.  Seven months.  Ordinarily, that would seem like a sufficient amount of time, but today, it seemed like it wasn’t enough.  How was he going to pick a lady who both appealed to him and had money in that short time?

His father patted him on the shoulder.  “Your mother and I are counting on you, son.  Don’t disappoint us.”

“I won’t.”

“Come along.” He stepped toward the door.  “You’ll ride with me in the carriage.  We’ll stop by your school before I go to work.”

Kent gave one last look at his reflection.  He could do this.  And he would do it because he had to.  Straightening his suit jacket, he followed his father out of his bedroom.  After their servant handed them their coats, they bid Kent’s mother a good day and went to the carriage.

The ride to his new school was an awkward one.  He never knew what to say to his father, and he learned long ago that silence was better than inadvertently saying something wrong.  He stared out the window and noted his surroundings.  This was his new home.  New York was a long ways off, and all the things that happened there were in the past.

The carriage came a stop and he took a moment to examine the brick school on a well-manicured lawn.  All of the pupils entering it appeared to come from rich homes.  And better yet, there seemed to be a good number of young ladies who were of courting age.  The carriage door opened, and he stepped out of it, not bothering to look back at his father.  Only time would tell what the future would bring.

***

The day had gone better than Kent expected.  He wasn’t sure if the other students would welcome him since he was new, but they had greeted him willingly enough.  Perhaps living here wouldn’t be so bad after all.

During lunch, he kept his distance so he could watch the others, especially the young ladies who were of courting age.  He wanted to see how they acted around others, thinking doing so would give him insight into who would make a pleasant wife.  A couple of his peers glanced in his direction.  They were probably wondering why he didn’t join any of them, even though a couple had invited him to sit with them.  But his heart wasn’t in it.  His father would have prompted him to start building relationships with the young men which might lead to successful business prospects later on, but he didn’t feel like it.  Not today.  Maybe tomorrow.  Today, he wanted to be alone and rest.

After he finished eating, he had some time to go for a walk outside so stepped into the sun, ignoring the slight chill in the air.  He’d forgotten his coat, but that was of little consequence.  The walk would be brief.  Putting his hands in his pockets, he strolled the area in front of the school.  A few others were also outside to enjoy the day.  Some offered a smile, which he returned.  But still, he kept his distance.  Tomorrow.  Tomorrow, he would be the person his father expected him to be.  Tomorrow, he would engage them and talk to them.

As he passed under a group of trees, something fell on him.  Startled, he jerked to the side, tripped on a tree branch and fell in the mud beside the walkway.  It took him a moment to realize a frog had fallen from the tree.  Someone laughed above him, and he looked up at the young man—Alex Dawson—who enjoyed his misfortune way too much.

Angry, Kent rose to his feet, and noticing the mud on his hands, he looked down and saw mud was also on his pants.  The same pair of pants his father warned him to keep clean.  He turned his gaze back up, his jaw clenched.  “What do you think you’re doing?” he yelled.

To his irritation, Alex swung from the tree branch overhead and landed in front of him, a broad smile on his face.  “Ahoy, Kent.  I wanted to welcome you to this here fine school.”

“Welcome me?” he snapped, pointing to his pants.  “You think this is a proper welcome?”

“It’s just a pair of pants.  Just put on a new pair when you get home.”

He bit his tongue before he screamed at him that he didn’t have another pair he could “just put on”.  Grunting, he glared at Alex who was still laughing.  “This isn’t funny!”

“You’d think it was if you saw the look on your face when you landed on your behind.”

“Where did you get your manners from?  An asylum?”

“You needn’t be so stiff,” Alex replied with a nonchalant shrug.

“Stiff?  You ruined my pants, and you have the nerve to call me—”

“Alex meant you no harm,” someone called out.

Kent turned his attention as another one of his classmates, Todd Brothers if he recalled the name right, approached them.  “He did mean me harm.  He waited up in that tree,” Kent pointed up to the branch Alex had been on, “and threw a frog on me.”

“A harmless prank,” Alex said, waving his hand in a dismissive manner.  “I merely wanted to welcome him to our school.”

“If you wanted to welcome me properly, you would have shook my hand like any normal person would,” he insisted before turning to Todd.  “Can you believe him?”

Todd offered an apologetic grin.  “Well, he happens to be my friend.  He didn’t intend for you to ruin your pants.  He only dropped a frog on you.”

“Exactly,” Alex agreed with an exaggerated nod of his head.  “I did no harm.  None at all.  You were the one who lost your balance and fell into the mud.”

Unable to believe that Alex was blaming him for ruining his own pants, Kent’s hands clenched.  “Only because you dropped that frog on me!”

Alex opened his mouth to say something, but the bell rang, signaling that classes were about to resume.

“Maybe we can find you a towel to clean up with,” Todd offered.

He glanced from Alex to Todd and threw his hands up in the air.  Neither one of them understood the seriousness of the situation.  To them, pants were disposable.  They never had to worry about their father’s displeasure if they came home with soiled clothes.  “Don’t bother,” he finally muttered and shook the mud off his hands the best he could.  “I’ll do it myself.  Just stay away from me.” He hurried away from them before they could do any more damage to his clothes.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to contemporaries romances and other genres (such as science fiction thrillers). For more information, please go to www.ruthannnordin.com or check out https://ruthannnordinauthorblog.wordpress.com.
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