He first took her to White's they played a round of cards. He laughed as she coughed through her first cigar but would not put the darn thing out. He stopped laughing as she was quite good at playing and he could tell the other gentleman were getting out of sorts thinking he had brought a shark into their midst.
He bowed out and took her to a local pub. She soaked it all in, watching the dancing girls, listening to the bawdy jokes. One of the dancer's had come to their table. Benjamin laughed heartily as the color flushed her cheeks as the dancer whispered in her ear. He pulled the woman towards him, offering her someone with more experience, to which she just laughed and moved on.
The dancers knew Benjamin was not the type to fool around.
He wondered at the sudden frown on Clara's brow. "Had enough?" he asked.
She shook her head no, and he ordered them both a drink. Clara bought them though with her winnings.
"Here's to feeling alive," he said and clinked his glass to hers and they both took a swig.
She pounded her chest as the liquid slid down and Benjamin chuckled again. He could not remember the last time he laughed so much or enjoyed his time.
At the next pub he found them a secluded corner so they could talk. He wanted to learn more about her.
He discovered she grew up in a stately home, far from London. Her mother was not the most caring of people but Clara had a deep love for her father, sister, brother and oddly enough a governess named Juliana.
She always wished she could be a writer, but such a vocation is frowned upon for a woman. There are few that he knew of but none that would publish under their own names. Always they published themselves under a male alias.
She wondered what was the point. If she could not publish under her own name, she did not wish to be published at all. He hoped someday that dream would come true for her, even though he knew it to be quite unlikely.
She asked him questions about himself. He kept his answers limited to the basics family, his career as a soldier, keeping it light knowing she did not need the details.
"What aren't you telling me?" she accused.
He laughed. She was good at reading people. She'd make an excellent spy with some training. He shook his head at this thought.
"Nothing," he told her, "I'm an open book. Unfortunately that makes me far less mysterious and therefore less interesting to anyone."
"I find you very interesting," she told him.
He knew that look. He pulled out his pocket watch and showed her the time. "It's time to get you home," he told her.
"One more drink for the road," she told him.
He sighed, but gave in. One drink turned into two, which ended up as three and then he insisted on walking her home.
"Where do you live?" she asked him.
"Here or there?" he told her.
"Now who is being mysterious," she says with a slight giggle.
He noticed her speech was a bit slurred and she was having some difficulty walking a straight line. He had to keep pulling her elbow so she wouldn't bump into anyone or walk into a lamppost.
They got to her yard, back through the hedge but then Benjamin immediately deduced a major problem. She was too tipsy to climb back up the trellis.
He tugged on it a few times, wondering if it would support both their weight. It was pretty solid and entangled with ivy thankfully instead of roses, which could be thorny.
YOU ARE READING
Forever RuinedHistorical Fiction
Benjamin McAllister's past was riddled with intrigue, war and death. It was no place for a woman, such comforts as marriage, family and love were not meant to be his but one woman changed all of that for him. Clara Bentley had won Benjamin McAllist...