Chapter 13: Elisa

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The ladies and I were preparing for another dinner at the Jones home only this time, for the last 6 times, Becky Dowager was joining them. She was visiting her cousins somewhere in town, although I specifically remember her saying she was an uncle. It was odd to me that she wouldn't give their names and she always showed up alone. Steel had required that all unmarried young ladies have an escort when traveling alone or joining a man for dinner or any outing. I guess we should have seen the slavery thing coming. The doorbell resounded through the entire house. Matilde wiped her hands, going out into the foyer. I could hear Mr. Andrew's shoes stepping down the stairs. He stepped into the kitchen looking right at me.

"Mr. Baker is coming for dinner as well and he's bringing someone, so please set out an extra plate for Mr. Baker." He instructed.

"Just Mr. Baker?" I asked.

"Yes."

He straightened his suit jacket taking in a deep breath as he went out to greet Becky. Her shrill voice squealed at the sight of him. I rolled my eyes finishing up with the salad. Guadalupe and Matilde carved up the roasted chicken and loaded up each plate with a slice, some mashed potatoes and green beans.

"I'll take these in while you serve the wine." Guadalupe said.

I followed her with the bottle in my hand. They were all gathered around the table awaiting their meals. Matilde and Guadalupe set each plate down as I popped the cork, and followed in their footsteps filling each glass. When all was done, Mr. Andrew gave us a gentle thank you. The doorbell sounded again prompting Guadalupe to go answer it. Mr. Andrew stood, dropping his napkin onto the table, and called me out into the foyer. I set the wine bottle in front of Mr. Elias hurrying out behind Mr. Andrew.

The two men were shaking hands when I entered their presence.

"Hello there, Elisa." Mr. Baker greeted. I bowed my head as a nervous response.

"As you might have heard, Mr. Baker's plantation was attacked by a group of rebels." Mr. Andrew began. "Most of the men in the north field died. The rest of his workforce survived and he decided that he should do something special."

I glanced at Mr. Baker.

"Come in." he said, looking towards the door.

I stared at it feeling time come to a complete halt. My own breathing echoed in my ears as my kneecaps turned to jelly. Tears rushed into my eyes, streaming down my face.

"Erik," I squeaked.

      He caught me as I tripped over my own feet, but we both ended up on the floor. I clung to his neck crying into his chest. It couldn't really be him, this had to be some kind of cruel joke my mind was playing on me.

"It's okay Elly," he said, patting my back awkwardly.

He was always the worst at comforting me. I pulled away, wiping my face, but the wetness was soon replaced.

"I always felt calm when I thought about you." I admitted.

"I did too, that's how I knew you were safe." he said.

"Emilia! She'll be so happy to see you."

I looked over at Mr. Andrew. "Can I take him to see her?" I asked, through a nasally voice.

"Of course, your services won't be needed tonight." He smiled.

"Thank you." I sniffled at the both of them. They nodded their heads, going into the dining room.

I grabbed Erik's hand racing up the stairs towards my closet. Emilia had had an early dinner and was already in bed, but she needed this. He knelt by her bed stroking her forehead.

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