Yes, this is a day late. I was supposed to schedule the post in advance and forgot. 😦 I’m sorry. But at least I remembered today and am doing it. 🙂 Hopefully, I’ll do a better job of watching the calendar next week.
“Rebecca, I…” Kent shook his head and ran his fingers through his hair. He glanced around her formal parlor, his gaze unwittingly going to the piano that had been the focal point of the dinner parties their parents subjected them to in the past. Forcing his mind off the piano, he turned to face her, still too ashamed to make eye contact with her.
“Are you sure you don’t want to sit?” Rebecca asked, gesturing to the chair next to where she sat.
How could she sound so casual about everything? True, she knew he’d come here to make things right, but after the way he’d taken advantage of her… His stomach tightened and he felt sick. He couldn’t even look at himself in the mirror. Of all the things he thought he was capable of, treating a lady as one would a common whore wasn’t one of them. He rubbed his stomach and decided he’d better sit down. If he didn’t, he might lose his breakfast.
Once he was settled in the chair next to her, he closed his eyes and regained his composure. Opening them, he turned his gaze to Rebecca, trying not to wince. “I don’t understand how you can stand to look at me after…after…” He gulped. God help him but he couldn’t say it.
“Kent, it’s alright,” she softly replied.
“How can you say that?” he asked in a low voice, his gaze going to the door to make sure no one would overhear them.
“Because you were drunk.”
“That’s no excuse. I shouldn’t have been drinking to begin with.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t even remember it. The last thing I remember is standing up in the parlor so I could take you to the door. Then my father is waking me and I-I’m in bed with…with…”
“Kent, I understand.” She placed her hand over his in a gesture he knew was intended to be comforting, but it only added to his guilt. “I don’t blame you for it.”
“But I don’t.”
“I’m stronger than you. I…” He took a deep breath and braced himself for the answer. “Rebecca, please tell me the truth. I need to know. Did I,” he winced, “force you to do it?”
After an agonizing moment passed, she released his hand and shook her head. “No,” she whispered. “I willingly went to your bed.”
He thought that should have made him feel better, and yet it didn’t.
“It was a moment of weakness.” She averted his gaze and fiddled with the lace on her dress. “You were going to walk me to the door and then you started kissing me. I’m afraid I let my desire to be with you override good judgment. I wasn’t the one who was drinking. I knew better. I should have left.”
“I would have let you leave?” He hesitated to ask the question, but he had to know.
“Yes. You might have asked me to go to your bed, but you didn’t make me go there. After your father caught us, I was ashamed of what I’d allowed. You’re not the one who should be apologizing. I am.”
“No, it’s my fault. If I hadn’t gotten drunk, none of it would have happened.” With a sigh, he studied the hat in his hands then continued, “I came here to make things right. I stole your virtue and because of that, it’s only proper I marry you. My father says I need to court you for a year first then make it official with a wedding. But I…”
“You want to be with Ann.”
“That’s not what I was going to say.” Though it was the truth and they both knew it. But this wasn’t about what he wanted. He glanced at the doorway to make sure no one was listening to them. “I worry there might be a child. My father thinks there won’t be, but how can we be sure? I know he said we can do a secret elopement and go to New York to avoid scandal if that’s the case, but even so, your parents will learn the truth and that won’t be good.”
She tapped her fingers together and slowly nodded. “Well, I suppose that might happen.”
“I wonder if we should marry now, just in case? It’s bad enough I’ve done this to you. The last thing I want to do is ruin your reputation.”
“I…I think your father’s advice should be followed. We’ll wait and see.”
His gut clenched. “Are you sure you want to take that kind of a chance?”
She nodded. “Yes. I’m aware of the possibilities and am willing to handle the consequences of this decision. We’ll court for a year then marry.”
“Unless you’re with child. I insist we marry before the child is born.”
Well, if she was determined to be courted first and take the risk that their sin would be discovered, then there was nothing he could do to stop her. “Alright. Then we’ll wait and see what happens. In the meantime, will you let me court you?”
He rose to his feet and forced himself to smile. “I’ll tell my father we’re courting.”
“And I’ll tell my father the same.”
With a nod, he told her he’d be by later in the week to pay her a visit and left her house.