Author’s Note: Sometimes, when a person is convinced that they’re right, they won’t listen to anyone else. Robert’s father is definitely one of those people.
So I have now officially separated this story out, given it its own category and renamed it. It has its own listing on the Kabobbles Serials page, plus a page with the summary and temporary cover art here. I am very proud of the cover art for both this and A Perfect Sunset, as they turned out quite beautiful.
Admittedly, part of the reason I incorporated the Three Word Wednesday words into this section was to show off the new organization and the covers. I had to share the covers.
The words today: lanky, destruction, and ultimatum.
Violet put her hands on her stomach, closing her eyes as she did. She did not know what she would do now. She had cried herself out in her mother’s room last night, and her mother had tried to help her. She was not going to say that she had not been helped, but she woke with no more answers than she’d had before. A part of her was relieved that Robbie had not come this morning, and yet at the same time, she found herself out of sorts because he had not. Would he never return, then? He had already suggested that he should leave, several times, in fact, and after that disastrous dinner, she had almost been certain that he would.
Why should he? What possible good had their talks done? She had not told him anything that could help him find the man who had taken his name, and she knew he felt that all he did when he spoke to her was hurt her.
True, it was painful to hear that he had been the one in all those stories that had amused her so much, the ones that made her think of Winston as a playful child, not as practiced or charming as he’d been when she met him. Sometimes when a person was too charming, they seemed as though they tried too much to conceal what they were not proud of, and while neither Winston nor Robbie had been too proud of the childhood mischief, she had been satisfied by believing that was what had led to him being so charming.
She had, of course, been quite wrong, but that was only clear now that he was gone and Robbie was here. Winston had seemed sincere before, and the charm was perhaps the most worrisome thing she’d noticed. Then again, she was a fool.
“I demand that you drop this ridiculous claim of yours,” a man said, bursting into the room, and Violet jerked as she sat up, frowning.
Robbie lagged behind the other man, his movements less forceful, more stumbling. She almost thought he would fall as he tried to catch the other man. Beside him, Robbie seemed lanky, though he had never been tall, lacking in all polish and bearing, with the older man standing rigid and disapproving, glaring at her from the other side of the room. Violet had to wonder if Harriet had been hurt when that man plowed his way into the house, because she doubted he’d been willing to wait, and Robbie looked rather guilty, so she thought she’d find that the maid was at least shaken if not injured.
Violet considered rising, but she did not want to do that, not when it could mean that she, too, might be pushed aside, something far more dangerous given her current condition.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I am sorry, Violet. I tried to persuade him not to do this, but Father has—”
“I am here to tell you that you will get nothing from my son or from me. This farce has gone on long enough already, and you will cease to make any further claims that impugn the honor of this family. Your lies will cease immediately.”
She swallowed, shaking her head. How dare he? What gave that man the right to come into her home and demand anything of her? “Sir, I have not and will not ask you for anything. I have made no claims. I have not lied. My story is not a trick or a game or anything close to such things. I assure you that I would no more joke about my condition or situation than I would knowingly ingest poison. This is not only undeniable, it is rather… irreversible.”
His eyes went to her stomach, and she let out a breath, hoping to forestall the next lecture that was coming. Robbie crossed to her side. “Please, don’t trouble yourself. Father is not in a mood where he will listen to anyone, and I won’t have him upsetting you after all that I have done. It was my intention to leave, but he would not be stopped. He doesn’t care what kind of destruction he brings with him, just that he gets his way.”
She nodded, her hand on her back. “I understand, and I do not—Oh. That… The child has become quite agitated. Will you please—”
“I see your pretense has fooled my son, but then he was always the gullible sort. Very well. I will settle upon you one thousand dollars. That is all you will ever get. You will stop your claims and retire in silence with that bastard child of yours.”
Violet stared, trying to summon a response to that horrible ultimatum, not sure if the tears stinging her eyes were motivated by his words or by the increasing amount of pain she felt.
“If anyone here is a bastard, it is you, Father. You should be ashamed of yourself,” Robbie told him. He knelt next to her, biting his lip. “I doubt I can carry you up to your room, but I am concerned—Harriet, go and get the doctor. I think Mrs. Winston has need of him again.”