Caught between the euphoric feeling of triumphant and tremulous shiver of apprehension, Charlotte forced her eyes to meet the shining brown orbs belonging to Lord William as she boldly spoke her mind. They reflected much of her own confusion she was trying so hard to hide behind the unwavering façade of bravery and confidence. Then, she watched him retreated one step back. And slowly, Lord William started to frown. Oh dear God, he was frowning at her again.
Lord William tilted his to the side and considered her as if she was some sort of curious display he was trying to comprehend. “Tell me Lady Charlotte, you are in the habit of seducing men who are about to become your grandson?”
Charlotte heart sank when he did not replied the way she had had wanted. It would put things in better perspective if only William, on bended knees, declared his affections to her instead. It would make more sense if her suspicions were satisfied. However, Charlotte raised one arched brow and parried to William’s thrust. “That depends, my lord: are you in the habit of falling in love with women who are about to become your grandmother?”
Ruffling his hair, William responded, “You are truly an enigma, minx.”
Charlotte pouted at this and folded both hands to her chest. “So it is settled then?”
“What is?” William asked.
Resisting an urge to stamp her feet to the ground as a show of her apprehension, Charlotte drew a calming breath before answering. “That you love me.”
William shook his head in disbelief. “Blast woman, what gives you that idea?”
Charlotte’s gut clenched in horrible dread. In spite of this she pinned William in a level stare. “We have been over this. Do I need to explain to you all over again? It’s very time consuming.”
Turning his back to her, he began to make his way to the door. “I don’t need to hear your nonsensical justifications. Bloody hell Charlotte, I don’t love you.”
Silenced by his crude answer, Charlotte sank on one of the chairs. Her knees were quaking and her stomach felt heavy, her heart was splintering. In a small voice, she whispered. “I am highly insulted.”
Abruptly, William turned on his heels. He ran his fingers in his hair, flustered and clearly perturbed. “I don’t mean to insult you. It is just that I…”
Fixing her eyes onto the floor, Charlotte breathed. “Out.”
William took a tentative step closer, stammering on his words. “Damn, what I meant was…”
Charlotte closed her eyes and let out a scream. “Get out of my room!”
Exasperated, William attempted to remedy the situation. He approached her and tried to take her hand. Charlotte recoiled from him and let out a screech.
Charlotte tried not to weep very much. But trying to hold her tears in was like trying to cup water in ones hands, or truer, trying to hold back a breaking dam. Slowly, water leaks through the cracks and fissure and eventually, her restrain broke and she found herself bawling. She cried under her covers because she was horridly ashamed of herself, soaking the fabrics with her tears. She had never been more ashamed in her life, never more insulted. Her heart were shattered, and the sharp edges were poking her insides making new wounds every time she breathes.
A new day came and Charlotte greeted the dawn, standing from the windows of her room staring out into the early morning mist shrouding the Moonhurst landscape. Her nose was runny from crying all night and her head spun from lack of sleep. Fanny who had been worried sick, bless her, was asleep on the settee covered with layers of blankets from head to toe. Charlotte drew a shuddering breath and tried to dispel all of the hurt nestled in her heart with a long exhale. Everything seemed terribly bleak now: she had embarrassed herself in front of the marquess beyond recovery and the Duke, the reason she had came in the first place, had not showed up. The sojourn was ending in two days and she was trapped to spend forty eight more hours with Lord William Sheldrake.