Chapter 26, Part 2

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As he entered the room, he saw Evelyn seated at a small table. She was all dignity and properness, sitting with her back straight and a dignified expression on her face as she ate her meal. When she looked up, seeing him, she brightened instantly.

“There you are,” she said. Rising to her feet, she came to his side. “I was wondering where you had gone to.” Reaching up to touch his face, she pulled him down to place a soft kiss on his lips. Her sweet affection soothed him, but only for a moment. When she pulled back, her smile began to fade as she saw the look in his eyes.

“Simon, what is it?”

He took her hands in his own. He tried his best to remain calm, even as his frustration threatened to overwhelm him.

“Evelyn, there is something I must tell you. It is not pleasant, and it will perhaps anger you, but you must know of it.”

Her blue eyes widened slightly, but she looked at him with complete trust and love.

“Very well,” she replied. “I will listen.”

He kissed her fingers, grateful for her calmness. Taking her hand, he led her to the bed, where he made her sit. As he took to walking back and forth in front of her, he tried to think of a way to simplify the facts. But the matter of Rene was so very complicated. When he arrived, he would bring with him a sort of history that could be quite damaging. Simon knew that the only way to avoid disaster was to tell the truth. All of the truth. Looking at her, he saw how her eyes were set on him, waiting for him to speak. He took a deep breath, and began.

“My father has made a decision on a certain matter. A matter which involves many things, but particularly, you and I.” For a moment he hesitated, hating the mere mention of a certain name. But it had to be said. “It is about Rene.”

He saw the way Evelyn’s mouth opened slightly in surprise. But she said nothing, allowing him to speak.

“He is...” He stopped himself from bringing up the immediate concern. There was so much of the story to tell. He sighed, speaking low...more to himself than to her...with his eyes cast away. “Before I talk of the present, I must talk of the past.” After a moment he returned his gaze to her, though it occasionally drifted as he moved to and fro.

 “On the night of our betrothal, I observed you and Rene. It was clear to me that there was feeling between the both of you. Your feelings, I could see, were quite innocent. But his feelings...” A surge of anger rose up within him, momentarily stealing his speech. He willed it down, forcing himself to continue. “I took great offense to his blatant admiration of you. And later that night, I saw his mistake corrected.”

He saw the stunned look that came to her face. In a low, quiet voice she asked, “What passed between the two of you, Simon?”

His reply deflected her question. “The details are not important,” he said. He felt her eyes examining him, and he bristled at the question that followed.

“Was it your actions that caused him to leave so suddenly?”

He shook his head. “I cannot be certain of that.” That, he knew, was not the truth. But he went on before she could inquire further.

“After he departed, and even after he left Isabella in the care of your family, I was happy to forget him. And I was successful in extracting him from my thoughts...until I learned of his letters to you.” He paused as he came to the matter that could be a point of contention between them.

“I had him arrested, Evelyn. It was my intention that he would remain locked away for the rest of his days.”

He waited, thinking she would perhaps become angry, not just for his concealment of the information, but because of his malicious intent towards someone she had once cared for. She surprised him when she calmly rose to her feet, and with her hands clasped together, she walked a small distance away, as if she needed to contemplate what he had told her.

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