Chapter 8

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Edward couldn't sleep. He kept going over the evening's events in his mind. He and Elizabeth had returned to the parlor to finish out the evening playing games with the others. When they had entered the parlor, Edward noticed a funny look on Mr. Montgomery's face, but he didn't appear angry.

Elizabeth explained that they had taken some air on the terrace while the sun set; and Edward remembered Mrs. Gray raising her eyebrows and trying to hide a smile. Amelia and Matthew had barely noticed their late arrival, as they were talking animatedly.

Edward replayed the encounter in the garden in his mind. He had nearly lost it when he heard her breathe his name. She had called him Edward, finally. It sounded so sweet flowing from her lips.

His thoughts turned to their conversation on the terrace. He was amazed that they had shared a common bond in the loss of their mothers at young ages. Edward remembered how her touch had melted him as they had shared in that loss together. He had never felt more drawn to her than at that moment.

Edward tossed and rolled over in the bed. What was he going to do about his father and his demands? Maybe if things continued well with Elizabeth, he could talk to his father about marrying her instead of Amelia. Marriage to Elizabeth would still give his father what he wanted: a joining together of the Montgomery Plantation and First Stanton Bank. Surely it wouldn't matter to his father which bride he took as long as the same result happened.

For now, it didn't matter anyway. Father wasn't here, and Edward had every intention of enjoying the time he had at Montgomery Plantation. Things were certainly looking up now that Elizabeth had warmed up to him.

Lord, thank You for leading me here to meet Elizabeth. I don't know what will happen from here on out, but I'm so glad that I have the pleasure of knowing her. I do hope that she's the one You have made for me, but I ask You to help me to know for sure. Please help her to trust me, and if You have ordained it that we should be together, I know that You will work out all the details...even with my father.

Edward pulled the covers up around his shoulders, and closed his eyes, willing his mind to dream of his Elizabeth.

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Early the next morning, Elizabeth sat in the garden reading her Bible and watching the birds flit about, gathering their breakfasts and chirping at the morning sun. She would read for a bit, but shortly her mind would wander onto the events of the previous evening.

Edward had completely bewildered her by his actions; he had been successful at tearing down the walls she had worked so hard to build to protect her heart.

If she was honest, he had been very honorable and polite toward her ever since he arrived, and she was the one who had been prideful. Still, the way he had knelt before her humbly had sent the walls of her heart crumbling down. And when he had called her beautiful... Then the feel of his gentle touch on her cheek...

At first she shrank back thinking that he was just tickling her ear with smooth words; but then he touched her and the look in his eyes told her that he truly meant what he said.

For a moment she had thought that he was going to kiss her, and he could have taken advantage of the moment, but he hadn't. Though she found that to be very honorable of him, Elizabeth realized that she had hoped he would kiss her. The air between them had been charged with an electric current she had never felt before. Talking of the mutual tragedies they had been through had drawn them together, which had taken her by surprise. All of it had changed her opinion of him.

Elizabeth turned her attention back to her Bible, and shortly heard a noise. She looked up to find Edward leaning against the nearby arbor, watching her.

He was wearing that smart looking deep blue coat that he had been wearing that day on the street in town, the one that set off those alluring blue eyes of his. He had that cocky grin on his face that she remembered; only this time she could see beyond it. My, he looked handsome. She smiled shyly at him.

"Good morning, Elizabeth," he said as he came near to her, grinning.

"Good morning, Mr. Stanton," she glanced up at him, the corner of her mouth turning up, as he stopped in front of her.

"I like it when you call me Edward," he whispered, leaning in toward her.

She blushed, and looked up into his eyes. "Edward," she whispered.

He gazed back at her and grinned again. "May I sit with you?" he asked, gesturing toward the bench.

"Of course." She was very aware of his near presence.

He settled down beside her. "What are you reading?"

"I'm doing my morning devotion. I like to read my Bible and pray every morning; I come to the garden when the weather is nice." She wondered if he knew the Lord or ever read the Bible outside of church. Elizabeth wanted to ask him, but wasn't sure how to.

"That's wonderful. I'm sorry to have disturbed you." He grew quiet.

"No, you didn't... I mean to say, I was almost finished anyway." She looked over at him. Elizabeth suddenly felt the need to ask him if he had a relationship with the Lord. "Edward, may I ask you a personal question?"

He looked at her with an open expression. "You may ask me anything you wish."

Elizabeth glanced back at her hands. Why was it so hard to form the words? "Edward, do you know the Lord...I mean to say, do you have faith in Christ?"

Edward looked at her with a smile in his eyes. "Yes, I do. And I love that you do, as well." He paused for a moment. "What is your favorite scripture verse?"

Elizabeth felt such joy in her heart at his answer. She smiled brightly back at him. "Proverbs 3:5-6."

"That's a beautiful passage. I love the book of Romans. My favorite verse is Romans, chapter five, verse eight. 'But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.' I think that verse sums up just how much God loves us."

"Yes, it is truly wonderful." Elizabeth sat quietly, contemplating what she had just heard.

Lord, I feel... I'm so thankful that Edward knows You and Your grace. It's more than I could have hoped for...

"Elizabeth," Edward's voice broke into her thoughts, "I was hoping that you'd join me for a horseback ride today."

"Oh, my...um, yes, I'd like that very much. Thank you for asking." Elizabeth smiled back at him sweetly.

Edward took her hand and kissed it, looking at her happily. "Wonderful! I will make arrangements with your father, then. Shall I escort you back to the house?"

"Yes, thank you." Elizabeth looked at him in wonder. How could she have been so wrong about him?

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