Author’s Note: This revelation did get delayed by Robert being injured, but I thought it was a rather intriguing twist, one that worked well with what I’d already written.
“Something someone else did? Someone like… my father, you mean?”
Violet licked her lips. Of course, she did not feel right making that accusation, no matter what that man had said about her or her child. She would not think herself ever inclined to forgive him for those comments, but she did not know that she could use them as a reason to say that he was the cause of all of this. “I don’t know. I suppose with his general attitude and demeanor, he seems the most likely to have inspired such a strong hate, but I do not know that I am right—if it was because of your father, why would they do this to you? To me?”
Robbie shook his head. “I do not know. I think we are back where we started from again, unfortunately. We know so very little of what is happening, even as it is centered around us. I don’t understand why he came here and picked you, though. I mean—you know what I mean, don’t you? I’ve said it before—it is not that you are not a very admirable woman, one who any man should be fortunate to have a chance to spend time with, but if he intended to cause me or my father harm, why come here? Why do this to you?”
She let out a breath. She knew that was the question that she wanted answered more than any other. She had been asking it since Winston left her, wondering what had made him go and why he would do any of that to her, an answer that became all the more important after she learned that he was not Robert John Winston the third, not the man she’d thought she knew, not at all.
“I do not—wait. There was something yesterday, before you came in and distracted all of us—”
“I did not mean to upset you. I was not trying to—the only place I knew to go was here.”
“Oh, no, I did not mean that,” she said, shaking her head. She leaned forward, wanting to take hold of his hand. She did not mean to make him blame himself for anything or think he should not have come to them. He should have. Here was where he was best looked after, and she rather thought that here might be where he belonged… forever.
She forced herself not to think about that. She was still a mess of emotions when it came to him and to Winston, and she did not know if she would ever sort them all out.
She held out a hand to him. “Will you… Would you mind moving closer? I would have liked to have taken you hand just then, but I am afraid I cannot reach you.”
“Of course. I am sorry—I just took the first chair I came to without thinking of being close enough to see to anything you might need.”
She laughed. “Robbie, you are the one that has a concussion. You do not need to take care of me. I am not incapable of caring for myself. I am just… pregnant. I almost offered you this chair after what you went through—”
“I do not need or want to lie down right now.”
“Neither do I.”
He smiled, rising and taking the few steps over to the closer chair. She watched him, waiting for a sign that he was struggling due to his concussion, but she did not find any. He sat down, and she took his hand. “Was that what you wanted?”
He turned his thumb over her hand in small soothing circles, and she thought what he was doing was not too dissimilar from what she found herself doing to her stomach when the baby grew agitated. “This is—”
“Rather inappropriate, I would think, coming from a man who refuses to marry her.”
Robbie dropped her hand, stiffening as he withdrew from Violet. “I think there’s—”
“I don’t see how you can act as though what we were doing was all that inappropriate when you have been lying all this time.”
Violet nodded, rising to face her aunt. She did not know if she was right about this, did not know that she should do it, but at the same time, she did not think she could ignore what she’d realized yesterday. She could have tried to confront her aunt sooner, but with Robbie injured, it seemed a poor time. Now that he—and her mother—were here to hear it, she had to act. “You said we’d all be better off if no man by the name of Winston had ever come into our lives.”
“You wish to argue that point? Look at you. You would not be unwed and pregnant now if not for a man claiming to be a Winston, and this one—well, he is not much better, is he?”
Robbie frowned. “Excuse me, but I do not think that you can compare the two of us—”
“The man who jilted you was a Winston,” Violet said, her voice more confident than she was. “He was Robbie’s father, wasn’t he?”