Instead of doing an “inspiration for the book” post, I thought I’d do another scene from Kent Ashton’s Backstory. It’s in first draft form.
The events in these two scenes happen right before Kent ends his courtship with Ann in Falling In Love With Her Husband. I’ll explain why he does this the next time I post a scene from this book. So stay tuned. 🙂
Kent gripped the hat in his hands and stared out the parlor window in the Statesmans’ house. Her father had to say yes. Whatever he had to do, he’d make sure he didn’t leave until her father agreed to his request.
“You wish to see me?” Mr. Stateman asked as he entered the room.
Turning from the window, Kent swallowed the lump in his throat. “Yes, sir.”
He gestured for the servant to leave them alone, and after the servant closed the door to ensure their privacy, he sat down. “Have a seat.”
Kent obeyed but sat on the edge of the chair.
“What is it you wish to discuss?”
He took a deep breath, his hold on the hat loosening only a little. “Sir, I hope you don’t think I’m out of line, but want to let you know that I love your daughter.” When her father didn’t respond, he added, “I came here to seek your permission to marry her.”
Her father released his breath. “I thought that’s what you might wish to discuss.” He rose from his chair and stepped to the picture of Ann when she was younger. “Ann is my only child. Even if another was responsible for her birth, I promised her mother as she was dying that my wife and I would give her the best in life.”
Sensing this wasn’t going the way he hoped, Kent slowly stood from the chair but didn’t move forward. “Sir, I assure you that my intentions are honorable. There will never be anyone but her. If you worry I’ll take a mistress, I can put your mind at ease. I’ll be faithful to her until the day I die.”
“I believe you mean well, but…” He turned to face Kent and shook his head. “I can’t explain my reasons to your satisfaction. I might not have be born into money, but I didn’t get to where I’m at by taking undo risks. Ann is the more important than money, and I’d give up all of my wealth for her happiness.” He glanced at her picture. “I can’t give you my permission.”
Kent strode over to him, his hold on the hat tightening. “Is it because I’ll take her to New York?” Maybe Ann told her father about the plans they’d made. Maybe he wanted to make sure his daughter would be nearby so he could visit her. “I can keep her here.”
“Where she lives into a concern. I can afford to travel.”
“Then what is it? Surely, whatever is an issue can be resolved. I’ll do whatever you ask.”
“There are some things you can’t change.”
His eyebrows furrowed. “Maybe not, but I don’t see what can be so pressing that two people who love each other can’t overcome it.”
“I’m sorry, but the answer is no. I have to trust my instincts.”
“You think I’ll do something to hurt her? Sir, I assure you that you couldn’t be more wrong.”
After a long moment, he shook his head. “It’s not you. At first, I thought it was, but it’s not.”
“Then what is it?”
“I’m not sure.”
Kent let out a bewildered chuckled. “You’re not sure?”
“I told you I can’t explain it to you to your satisfaction. I’m just old enough to know that I need to trust my instincts.”
“If you had no intention of letting me marry her, then why did you agree to let me court her at all?”
“I thought I was wrong. I wanted to wait and see if I was hasty in telling you no. But my instincts are screaming louder than ever.” He walked to the parlor door and opened it. “I’m sorry. I really am.”
A strained silence passed between them as Kent thought of what he might say—what he could say—to convince her father that he was wrong, that Ann would be happy married to him. But how could he argue against something as intangible and vague as a father’s ‘instinct’? Shoulders slumped, he placed his hat on his head and mumbled the obligatory ‘thank you’ before leaving the house.
When Kent entered his house, he tried to pass his father without speaking to him, but his father called out to him. Sighing, he entered the parlor.
His father set down the newspaper and rose to his feet. He motioned for the butler to leave them alone. Once the door was shut, his father turned his gaze to him. “What did Ann’s father say?”
“I’ll ask him in another month,” Kent replied.
“So he said no.”
Kent gritted his teeth, not liking the way his father seemed pleased by the situation.
“Rebecca father is impressed with you. He says you’re an honorable man, one he can see hiring in his company.” His father gave him a pointed look. “I don’t need to remind you what kind of money you’d get if you agreed to work for him.”
Kent avoided eye contact with him. “No, you don’t need to remind me.”
“Son, sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do in order to get what you want. You’re young and inexperienced. When you get older, you’ll understand that you have to sacrifice things you want in order to succeed. I think it’s time you considered courting Rebecca.”
“Kent,” he snapped, drawing Kent’s attention back to him, “you will not fail me and your mother in this. We’ve come too far with the Johnsons to lose now. You will court Rebecca, and in due time, you will marry her.”
“The only reason you associate with the Johnsons is because of their money. You don’t even like them.”
“My reasons for dealing with them aren’t your concern. Your concern is in what you will do. It’s your duty to honor your parents.
“So by honoring you, I have to lie?”
His father stared at him and though his eyes pierced right through him, Kent refused to break eye contact with him. If he was going to make his stand, he needed to do it.
“You will do whatever it takes to secure the financial standing of this house,” his father hissed.
“And if I don’t?”
A tense moment of silence passed between them before his father said, “You don’t have a choice.” His father strode out of the room, his footsteps echoing off the hardwood floors.
Kent released his breath. No, he wouldn’t marry Rebecca. He’d take the job if Mr. Johnson offered it, but he wouldn’t marry her. And he’d ask Ann’s father for her hand in another month. Perhaps by then, her father would agree. He’d denied Kent permission to court her twice before he relented. Surely, he could find a way to convince him that he’d be good to Ann. Whatever his instincts were telling him, his fears were unfounded. Kent would never do anything to hurt Ann, and he’d defy his parents if he had to make sure they didn’t hurt her. One way or another, he’d marry her.