Chapter 5

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Forty-five minutes had passed since Edward had been shown into his guest room. Every time he tried to relax and get a little rest, his racing mind would cause him to jump up and pace the room.

He couldn't believe the turn of events upon his arrival at the Montgomery Plantation. The woman he'd found so beautiful and intriguing that day on the street, whom he never thought he'd see again, was here, right where he could find out more about her. He couldn't wait to talk to her, that is, of course, if she'd speak to him. She had been pretty put out with him that day. But it was only a brief encounter. Perhaps they could put that behind them. But then...what about his father's instructions? For whatever reason, his father expected him to pursue and marry Amelia, Elizabeth's sister.

Lord, I'm so confused. What would You have me do? I feel drawn to Elizabeth, I want to know her more. How do I follow my heart and obey my father at the same time? Does this mean that Amelia is the one You have intended for me?

After some quiet time with the Lord, Edward decided he would go forward for the time being as if his father's scheme didn't exist. He would attempt to befriend both of the sisters and see where that would lead him. This situation could blow up in his face in a matter of seconds, so he would tread lightly.

A knock sounded at the door. "Edward?" Matthew's voice called out through the wooden panel. "Are you awake?"

Edward opened the door to his room to admit Matthew. "I'd hoped you weren't sleeping. I came by to see if you're feeling more settled."

Edward ran his hand through his hair. "Hardly."

Matthew took a seat in the cushioned chair across from the bed. "Tell me what's troubling you, my friend." Matthew's blue eyes were filled with concern.

For a moment, Edward considered confiding in his friend about everything: his father's plan to arrange his marriage, his encounter with Miss Montgomery that day in the city, his confusion about his feelings. But the more Edward thought about it, the more he thought it better to keep the details to himself, even if just for the time being.

"I suppose I'm just a little nervous about being in a stranger's home and about making a good impression. You never know when you might be meeting your future wife, you know." Edward gave him a half grin.

Matthew laughed, "Quite right! How about those two fine young ladies? They're both the marrying type, if you ask me. That Miss Amelia is quite lovely, but still a trifle green. But Miss Montgomery...now there's a fine dark haired beauty! Watch out now, Edward! You may have a little friendly competition for that one!" Matthew winked at him.

Edward had never felt the urge to punch his friend in the face...until that very moment. He clenched his fists and averted his gaze from Matthew.

Taking control of his temper, he tried to keep the strain from his voice when he answered, "You'd do well to take things slowly, my friend. We don't want Mr. Montgomery sending us on our way too early, now do we?" Edward hoped his friend didn't notice the tension in his stance.

"Quite right, Edward. I suppose we should remain neutral and see which of them takes a fancy to us, first, eh?" Matthew joked as if it were a game. Edward only wished it were that simple for him. He needed to get Matthew out of his room before he completely lost it and either confessed all or took a swing at his closest friend.

"Well, I suppose it's about time for us to prepare for dinner." Edward walked to the door and opened it for Matthew.

"I say, I do believe you're right," Matthew said, pulling his pocket watch out to check the time. "I'll see you downstairs in the parlor in a bit, then."

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