Chapter 36

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The others nodded and quietly left the room, Mr. Montgomery indicated that he would be just outside the door.

His father exploded no sooner than the door closed behind them.

"How could you, Edward! You've ruined everything!" Charles bellowed and stomped, his face red with fury.

Edward turned and waited, letting him stomp and fume a few minutes more. He heard his father grumbling, more to himself than to him. "Couldn't leave well enough alone... Had to trifle with that girl..."

Edward took a few steps closer, moving toward his father. He considered pointing out the fact that he had brought all of this on himself, that he continued placing blame onto others which he himself owned, but decided against it, not wanting to point fingers or rouse his father's anger once more. "Father, you've got to let go of all this bitterness. You can't change what has happened in the past, but you can make amends now by releasing all of us from your wrath."

Charles spoke in frustration through his hands, huffing, "You know I can't do that, not now." He turned his back on Edward, dragging his hands down his face and clenching his fists at his sides. Blowing out a deep breath, his next words were spoken with a defeated growl, "If I relinquish control, the lot of you will turn me in. They all heard what you said..."

For the first time, Edward felt pity for his father.

What a lonely place he must be in, pushing everyone away, and holding so much turmoil in for all these years.

Edward watched his father, hoping and praying that he'd be able to break through the rough shell that many years of resentment and pride and had wrapped him in.

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"Father, I'm sure we can all put this mess behind us; we'll talk to Mr. Montgomery and make things right somehow. All we want is for you to return Elizabeth safely, and to leave off blackmailing Matthew's family, as well as to drop this nonsense about me marrying Amelia. My heart belongs to Elizabeth."

Charles rubbed his aching head as Edward's voice resounded in his ears. He couldn't believe all the nonsense that was flowing from his son's mouth.

Curse Edward and that girl for causing me to doubt my actions...

How could he betray his own father in this way? Edward sounded pathetic and weak; begging him to just forget all about the plans he had worked so hard to bring about.

Well, no more. There was no way he was going to let that happen, not now, not when he was so close.

The question now was, just how should he go about handling this most unwanted turn of events? How could he hold on to his ground long enough to get what he wanted out of Peter and convince them all to keep quiet about what they now knew?

"Father," Edward's voice was closer now, "I know this is hard for you, but please... I know we can make amends; I know that if you think this through, you don't truly want to do this..."

Oh, but I do, my son, I want nothing more; especially now.

He still had the girl, he doubted that they had found her yet, she was hidden at least three quarters of a mile from the house. Yes, he could yet have his way, as long as he still had this one bargaining tool. Eventually Peter would give in for the sake of saving his daughter. And Edward would have no say in the matter. His son's displeasure with the outcome would be considered a bonus gain for his treason against his own family; his own father. That would be sure to teach the ingrate a lesson.

Charles still stood with his back to Edward; could his son have seen the steely, narrow eyes, the cold, hard look on his face, he would have known that what his father said next was nothing more than a farce.

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