Chapter 28, Part 1

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Evelyn held Simon’s arm as they stood in the front courtyard, waiting for Basil’s caravan to arrive. She knew, without looking at him, that he was holding on to every ounce of discipline he possessed, fighting the urge to storm away in defiance.

They had been married for a week, and the days had been spent in such happiness. Now, they were set to face the first great challenge of their union. As the carriage slowly approached, Evelyn held tighter to her husband. Whatever happened, she was certain they would endure and grow stronger. She refused to think otherwise.

The carriage door opened. A footman brought a stool, and a moment later, Basil emerged. The assembled members of the household bowed, including Evelyn and Simon. Then they turned their eyes to the carriage door.

Evelyn felt a strange discomfort come over her as Rene stepped out, and she felt Simon grow tense. As he came forward, there was only silence for what seemed like a long span of time. The two men started at one another, until Simon broke the silence. His words were cold.

“Do not be so foolish to think that you are welcome here.”

Rene said nothing. He stood in silence, returning Simon’s vicious stare. Simon turned his eyes to the young woman who came from the carriage. He looked her over, his glance full of suspicion.

“Who are you?”

It was Basil who answered. “I have brought her to you as a servant.”

Simon snorted. “We have an adequate number of servants. We have no need for another.”

In response to Simon’s petulant behavior, Basil became stern. He looked him in the eye, challenging him. “Your lady is in need of a maid. I have found her one. Will you argue the matter with me?”

Simon slowly shook his head, acquiescing. “No, father.”

“Very well, then. Let us prepare for supper.”

As Basil went in, Rene and Simon exchanged sharp looks. For a moment, Evelyn feared they would come to blows, as meanly as they were looking at one another. But Simon turned away, leaving the scene entirely before any punches were thrown. She met Rene’s eyes, and they shared a long, lingering stare. But she refused to be taken in by him, as she had before. She turned to a page who stood close by.

“See him to the barracks,” she said.

As they went, Evelyn looked at the young lady. She was a pretty young woman, and strangely, it seemed she was not troubled by the angry commotion. Seeing no reason to treat her unkindly, Evelyn gave her a polite smile. She would speak to her soon, but at that moment, she needed to be with Simon. She turned to the housekeeper.

“Marguerite, please show the lady what she needs to know. I will be up shortly.”

As she turned into the house, she had a sudden sense of what her mother must have felt, being pulled in several directions. But she told herself that if her mother could do it, then so should she. And she went in search of her husband.

*****

Simon was nowhere to be found. After making inquiries, she discovered that he had ridden out on his horse. She sighed, recalling how her father had often done the same thing. Now forced to alter her plans, she went in search of her new maid. To be truthful, she was glad that Basil had brought someone for the position. She deeply missed Violette, who had been on her very best friends, and her confidante. And this new young lady looked to be about her own age. It was her hope that they would grow close, and perhaps fill the void that had been left in her life. Simon was her great love, of course. But she longed for a friend. Perhaps she had now found one.

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