Today I’m combining a couple of scenes together. Next week, I’ll get to the scene where Kent comes for Ann a second (and final) time. 🙂
A month passed and Kent didn’t see Rebecca. As his father said, she refused to leave her house. And as expected, people blamed him for it. When he wasn’t working, he made it a habit to go by her house. One time he knocked on the door and was told Rebecca wasn’t receiving visitors. He couldn’t be surprised, not with the whispers going on around town.
Frustrated, he walked down the porch steps. How was he supposed to apologize to her when he couldn’t talk to her? He made it to the bottom of the steps in time for someone to wave from the carriage house. He glanced at the front door then the windows in the house to make sure no one was watching him before he headed for the carriage house.
Samuel opened the door wider and waved Kent inside. As he shut the door behind Kent, he turned to face him. “Mr. Johnson won’t let Rebecca see anyone. Did you hear the rumors?”
“Who hasn’t?” Kent asked. “I’m sorry. I never meant for this to happen.”
“I know you didn’t. Rebecca knows it too.”
“Have you been able to see her?”
“Twice but not for long.”
“When you see her again, will you tell her I’m sorry?”
Samuel nodded. “Of course. And she knows you aren’t to blame.”
“I’m afraid I am. I went to North Dakota. I should have waited until the investments matured before going there.” He sighed and slipped his hands into the pockets of his coat. “Will you still be able to take Rebecca to Canada as you planned?”
“By the time April comes, we’ll be long gone.”
“Good.” At least he hadn’t destroyed that part of the plan. He rubbed the back of his neck and sighed. “Is she alright?”
“I think she’s relieved.”
Samuel shrugged. “It’s not in anything she said but in the way she looks, as if a weight’s been lifted off her shoulders.”
He couldn’t blame her for that. All she had to do was bide her time until she could leave with Samuel. Then her new life would begin. Even though she wasn’t going to be surrounded by wealth, he suspected she was going to be much happier.
If Ann could have been content with an income similar to Samuel’s, Todd never would have gotten in the way. When she ran off with him, didn’t it even occur to her that Todd wouldn’t be able to give her the life she wanted? No, it hadn’t. She was so overcome with grief because he ended their courtship that she just wanted to get out of Virginia. She hadn’t considered what life would be like as a farmer’s wife.
But Rebecca had thought about it and had chosen love over wealth. She’d been willing to give up love to protect the man she loved. He had no doubt that she and Samuel would be happy together. “You and Rebecca will do well together.”
Samuel smiled. “Thanks to you. How did things go when you saw Ann?”
“Not as well I hoped. I should have done a better job of preparing her for my arrival. Next time will be better.” Next time, Ann would know he was coming to rescue her. “Merry Christmas.”
Feeling much better about Rebecca, Kent left the carriage house.
Two days later, Kent was in the middle of writing a letter to Ann when a hand slammed over it. Startled, he turned from the desk in his bedchamber in time to see his father pick up the letter and rip it to shreds.
“Inappropriate,” his father muttered. “You will not have anything else to do with that Statesman girl, do I make myself clear?”
Gritting his teeth, he rose to his feet and glared at him. “I don’t believe you have the right to tell me what to do, especially since you’re the reason she ran off with Todd.”
“If she truly loved you, she would have stayed here.”
“She does love me. It’s because she loves me that she couldn’t stand to watch me and Rebecca parade ourselves all over town like you wanted us to.”
“You fool. Have you lied to yourself so much that you can no longer tell fact from fiction? She married another man. If she loved you, she wouldn’t be Todd’s wife.”
“She was hurt and Todd took advantage of that.”
“It doesn’t matter what the circumstances were. She’s his now and her parents just came back from seeing them. According to them, she’s very happy with him.”
Kent shook his head. No. He wouldn’t—he couldn’t—believe it. She couldn’t be happy with Todd. “Todd’s frightened her, and her parents wanted her to marry him. They never did like me. So why would she tell them the truth?”
His father stared at him for a long moment then laughed.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Kent replied, his eyes narrowing at him.
“Either way, it doesn’t matter now, does it? You don’t have her. You never will. She belongs to Todd, for better or worse. And I have been subjected to a rather unpleasant visit with her parents, one in which Mr. Statesman made it very clear that you can’t go near her again. You will go over there and apologize. You will assure them that you will never go to North Dakota. Do I make myself clear?”
“And if I don’t?”
His father grasped his shoulder, his fingers digging into him. “You will do it. I leave you with no choice.”
“I’m afraid you no longer have any power over me,” Kent argued and shoved his hand off of him.
“That’s where you’re wrong. I know you and Rebecca have formed an agreement. I might not know the nature of the agreement, but I can certainly spend time finding out.”
He gritted his teeth. He hated his father. As soon as his investments matured, he was going to cash them out and be gone. Then he’d never have to see him again. April. At that time, Rebecca and Samuel would be safe in Canada and his father would have no other way to control him.
Without a word, he brushed past his father and stormed out of the room. Fine. He’d do it. He’d apologize to her parents and promise he wouldn’t go back for her, hoping that she’d understand he had to do it, that his father had given him no choice. He accepted his coat from his butler and headed out of the house.
Ten minutes later he stood in the Statesmans’ parlor and waited for someone to enter the room. He couldn’t help but recall all the times her father had refused to let him court her or marry her. For all he knew, they were plotting with Todd the entire time to get her out of Virginia.
When he heard footsteps approach, he faced the doorway. It took all of his willpower to not scowl as her father entered the room.
“Mr. Ashton,” her father greeted, his tone cool.
Not surprising, her father didn’t offer him a seat or something to drink. Kent hadn’t expected anything of the sort. Her father had never approved of him and never would.
Swallowing the bitter lump in his throat, Kent forced out, “I’m here to apologize for going to North Dakota. I assure you that I will not do so again.”
After a long moment of silence passed, he offered a stiff nod. “See that you don’t.”
Kent waited to see if her father would say anything else, but he didn’t. Instead, he stared at him, his expression unreadable, his eyes penetrating him.
“If it’s alright with you, I’ll take my leave now,” Kent finally said.
Her father didn’t reply, so he took that as permission to do so and strode to the parlor door. As he reached it, her father called out, “If you do go to North Dakota, you better not step foot in Virginia again.”
He paused, a snide remark on the tip of his tongue. Her father cared nothing about her happiness. How her father could wish for her to be with someone she didn’t love—wouldn’t ever love—was beyond him. Unclenching his hands, he left the house.