Chapter 50

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February 1871

There were no more kisses that day. I don't think either Jackson or I were able to handle the guilt, but we weren't entirely able to keep off each other either. There wasn't a moment where we weren't touching in some small way, his knuckles brushing my hip, my knee knocking against his, the slightest movement causing the greatest sensations. It's been two days. Two very long days, where I've done nothing but chastised and second-guessed myself. How could I have done such a thing? Getting involved with someone else's fiancé and Louisa's at that! She'd have my head if she ever found out. Now this, this would be a motive to murder me! And could I blame her? I run my hand across the counter of the bake shop, daydreaming about what would happen if Louisa did find out.

"Penny for your thoughts?" Felix says nudging me with a full basket of bread as he passes behind me. I straighten up, abashed to have been caught idling about.

"It's nothing...just matters of the heart," I mutter offhandedly. Felix puts the basket down and begins to load the contents onto the shelves.

"A subject I am particularly terrible with; let me hear it." I let out a small laugh at his assessment of himself and walk over to help him with the bread. I'm glad I have Felix around to absolve my guilt.

"Well," I stall, trying to figure out how to start this off correctly. "If two people really love each other, are truly are meant for each other--"

"Like soul mates?" he asks, bemused by what he must think are my little girl fantasies of love.

"Yes, like soul mates. If these two people love each other, even though everything around them prevents them from being together, shouldn't they still fight for each other? Even if it's sneaky and ends up hurting other people?"

I look up from the task that I've been focusing on to gage Felix's reaction. He's stopped working and is looking down at me completely stunned. He holds onto the rim of the basket; his knuckles have gone white. When he speaks his voice is haunted.

"What are you saying Ellie?" For some reason there has been a very forcible shift in the room's atmosphere, like the tension radiating from Felix is filling the whole space. He's full of trepidation when he asks, "is this about Jonah?" Now I'm confused. Jonah? Does he think that I'm involved with his son? I shake my head and try to break things to him as gently as possible.

"Felix, I love Jonah but he's like a brother to me." I study him, he looks visibly relieved and the tension in the room has all but evaporated. He throws me a tight smile, regaining himself a little bit.

"Oh! Yes, I understand Ellie. You can't force feelings if they're not there." He goes back to stocking the bread, still looking a little stiff.

"But Felix you didn't answer my question! Do you think it's wrong, especially if your love ends up hurting others?" He stops, holding a large loaf in his hand and thinks for a second.

"Do I think it's wrong?" I nod anxiously. He puts the loaf over his shoulder like a soldier would his bayonet and tilts his head to the side. "I believe that you love who you love, even if sometimes that love isn't good for you." He gets lost for a minute before finding himself and looking over at me.

"But hurting others?" He shakes his head. "You can't easily replace all the people in your life who love you, so be careful with those relationships. Take it from someone who was hurt once, it doesn't feel good." He flips the loaf into the basket and starts unloading the rest. I can't help but ask.

"Are you talking about Jonah's mother?" Felix doesn't stop what he's doing but his pace slows down considerably as he digests my question. He nods quickly and answers me softly.

"She fell in love with someone else and left me, us. I never found out what really happened." I can tell by his tone that he doesn't speak about her often.

"Maybe they ran away together?" I suggest bitterly, not understanding how someone could walk away from Felix and Jonah. He shakes his head.

"That's not possible. Nope, she just disappeared; I never heard from her again. She was always independent and sometimes a little reckless," he adds, smiling at a private memory, "but, I wouldn't put anything past her."

He throws the last loaf in and twirls the empty basket onto his back, holding it with just two stocky fingers. I give him a half-smile, sorry to have taken him down this road, especially for advice I didn't like hearing. Felix stops and looks at me.

"One more thing Ellie, you're independent too and definitely reckless," he laughs softly, "but you're also honest and smart. What I'm trying to say is, sometimes the wrong decision is the right decision for you, and I think that you're smart enough to figure that out." The smile I give him is full of love, how can it not be?

"Thank you Felix and I am sorry that I made you think of the past." He looks down at me with a sentimental smile, before heading into the back. Just as he turns the corner, I hear him mumble under his breath.

"I haven't thought of Sarah for a long time."

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