So I’m trying to start the week off as I mean to begin (and not let this lingering cough keep me down), so I decided to start my day off with words. A more modern song but it took me to an older time. Not quite sure who this new character is but perhaps a past life of someone. I suppose we shall see if I the muse is prodded to bring more to the story. Enjoy.
So Sick About It
It was all too easy to avoid Robert. For the first time, the lack of freedom afforded Olivia worked to her advantage.
She had no wish to see the man she had dreamed might woo her, might love her. To see him in such a scandalous state with her cousin had been a shock that left her sick to her stomach. Not to mention the anger that came with the realisation he preferred her cousin, Veronica. Veronica was a nasty and spiteful girl. Olivia’s hair still did not sit right on the side that Veronica had hacked off while she lay sleeping.
And yet it had been Veronica that had been in his lap. Veronica that he had been kissing.
Olivia was heartsick.
Robert had sent her letters, visited the house many times to request her company over the last two weeks but Oliva had burned the letters and refused to leave her room. She had to leave her room for meals, to sit across from Veronica and see her smug and taunting smile made Olivia lose her appetite.
Her! He had chosen that…that…
The only time that Olivia left her house was after dark when no one else knew. She would climb out of her bedroom window and go for a walk around the apple orchard.
The sound of her name startled Olivia as she walked. The sight of Robert made her stomach lurch. His clothes were dishevelled and he seemed to have a twig in his hair. He had clearly been on the ground and Olivia could only think of one reason he might be lying on the ground in the orchard so late in the evening.
Clearly, she had just missed Veronica.
“Good evening,” she replied and turned on her heel to walk away. It seemed his involvement with her cousin had gone even beyond kisses and Olivia did not wish for him to see her crying over him. He was obviously not the man she thought he had been and he did not deserve to know she cared so much.
“Please, Miss Atherton. I have been trying to explain the incident with your cousin.”
“Incident? Is that we are calling it?”
“It was not what you believe, Miss Atherton.”
“Oh, and I suppose I am wrong about why you are in the orchard, Mister Johnson?” How stupid did Robert think she was? Just because Olivia was not worldly like her cousin and had not been with men as she had, that did not mean Olivia knew nothing of such things. “Never mind, your life has nothing to do with me.”
“I had hoped my life would be very important to you.”
“I hardly think you have room in your life for my concerns with my cousin sharing your bed.”
Olivia turned and began to walk away, she had said too much.
“Miss Atherton, wait.” Robert rushed forward and stopped in front of Olivia.
Olivia tried to sidestep him and tripped over a tree root. She sprawled onto the ground. From the pain in her ankle, she had sprained it. Wonderful.
“Olivia?” Robert knelt beside her and tried to help her sit up.
Olivia smacked his hand away. She did not want his help. She could imagine this whole scene would make Veronica laugh until her sides hurt when she was told. “Get away from me, just go back to Veronica and laugh at me.”
“I do not understand.”
“Just leave me alone, Mister Johnson.” Olivia struggled to her feet, refusing his aid but could not hide her pained look when she put her weight on her left foot.
“You are hurt?”
“More than you know.”
“What was that?”
“Nothing. I am fine. Just leave me alone.”
“Not while you are hurt, whatever you think of me I am not going to leave you hurt and alone in the orchard.”
“Oh, so you would escort me home and have my family think that it was I that you seduced in the orchard and not my cousin?”
Robert looked at Olivia with an almost comical expression. His mouth opened and closed and no sound came out. He shook his head after a moment and tried again. “I did not seduce your cousin in the orchard.”
“No, I suppose you would not need to. She probably arranged it herself.”
“I did not mean…I fell asleep. I, I have never seduced your cousin and if you would let me explain.”
“I hardly wish to know more of your dalliances or hear your confessions of love for my cousin. I wish you both happiness,” Olivia said though her tone seemed to contradict her words.
Robert let out a frustrated sigh. “Miss Atherton, I am not in love with your cousin, nor am I trying to seduce her. What you saw…”
“Was you two in a most heated embrace.”
“She kissed me.”
“You hardly seemed to be fighting her off.”
“I was surprised.”
“Oh, I am quite sure.” Olivia’s words dripped with sarcasm. He had appeared to be returning the kiss. That was his business.
“I had told her that she wasted her time on me.”
“Oh yes, I can see that would lead to kissing.”
“Mister Johnson, please leave me to make my way home.”
“Not until you listen to me.”
Olivia crossed her arms over her chest and stood there, wobbling on one foot as she tried to keep any pressure off the other. “And why should I?”
“Because I wish to explain. It aches me to think that you are hurting over something that should not have happened.”
“I assure you, I am not hurting.”
“I have known you all our lives, Miss Atherton. I know when you are hurting. I know when you are happy, sad, ill, pretending to not be. I know you, Miss Atherton. Because I love you. I told your cousin as much and when she heard you approaching she threw herself at me.”
Olivia’s arms fell from her chest and she was now the one with the comical expression. He seemed so sincere and that was something that Olivia had always prized in Robert. Before she could reply with anything more than a silent opening of her mouth there was the noise of Cabal, her father’s hunting dog. Followed by her father and Uncle Reginald.
“I never thought it would be true.”
“Veronica said you might be here.”
The two men spoke at them rapidly and ignored both as they tried to reply. Olivia stomped her foot and screamed in pain which finally silenced the men of her family.
“Please, Father. It is not what it appears to be and if you would let me explain.”
Robert shot her a look and she supposed the irony of her now saying those words was not lost on him. Perhaps things were not always as they seemed to be when you stumbled upon a situation.