Author’s Note: This story was a lot easier to incorporate the words from Three Word Wednesday into, since all it took was Violet’s question to lead into them all. In fact, one of them kept coming up without any effort on my part.
The words for this week were: believe, penitent, and tribute.
“Do you believe he feels any kind of remorse?”
Robert shook his head. He had to think that if the man who’d stolen his name had any kind of repentance in him. If he had, he’d have come back and done right by Violet a long time ago. He’d have confessed, on his knees, to everything he’d done, to the lies and the theft, and after he’d finished, he’d take her by the hand and beg her to forgive him, to let him make it up to her for the rest of his life. He’d do anything to be able to marry her legally and be the father to her child that he should be.
Since he had not even bothered to write her since he left, Robert had to assume that he didn’t care at all what happened to her or the child. He didn’t have any remorse in him, and he would not be penitent, not now, not ever. He’d never come back and ask to be forgiven. He’d left, and he had no heart in him, not if he could abandon Violet like that.
Violet nodded, turning away from the window, rubbing her back as she did. “I don’t think I can disagree with you. That is the hardest part in all this. I doubt that if he came back I would know what to do with him. Shouldn’t I hate him for the rest of my life? And yet… propriety would say that I should want him here, that I should be glad to have him if he’d only have me, that if he gave me a legal marriage and a name for my child that I shouldn’t care. I should just be grateful.”
Robert shook his head. “I don’t think so. How can you be grateful to have a man who abandoned you come back into your life like that? So what if he gives you a name and a marriage? Marriage to him would be a mistake you should not make a second time.”
She sighed. He grimaced. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. He crossed over to her side, taking her hand and trying to guide her back to her chair. She should be sitting, even if she didn’t think so.
“I just think it’s dangerous to let yourself be open to him hurting you all over again. Even if he begged for forgiveness, how would you know if he was sincere or not?”
“I don’t know. I don’t have any way of knowing. Everything I thought I knew about him was a lie, wasn’t it?”
“Not necessarily. Those stories were mine, not his, but maybe others weren’t. Maybe the real him showed through at times, and you loved that, too, didn’t you?”
She twisted her lip, biting it. “I don’t… What if that was the part of him that I found the most infuriating was the part that was the most real? What if the only part of him that was honest was the part I hated?”
Robert almost laughed. “I’m sorry, but I can’t see that you’d like only the parts that he stole from me. You are too smart for that.”
She gave him a look. “I was a fool, and we all know I was.”
He wanted her to stop saying that. He did not like it when she talked about herself that way. “You had no reason to think that he was lying. You didn’t know that his stories were stolen. You were perhaps a bit naïve, but who would think that he would deceive you like that? Even now we don’t know why he did that. His reasons for marrying you don’t make much sense.”
Robert winced. “I am sorry. That’s not what I meant. I can see why you were someone he was interested in, why he’d want to marry you, why he loved you, but what I don’t understand is why he thought he had to lie to get you.”
She let out a breath, brushing back some loose hair. “Perhaps it is what you said. He thought I was… That I was not willing to marry any man with less than your social status.”
“That makes him a fool. I don’t think that is what matters to you at all.”
She smiled. “Not so much. I did not plan on marrying before I met him, and then he… I found his stories charming and really wanted to believe that I was in love. Now… Well, now I don’t know that I was. If all I liked was his stories…”
“Perhaps he should have been a writer. He could have audiences love him like… uh… Dickens did.”
She laughed. “You’re not much of a reader, are you?”
“He stole your stories, too, and just because he could tell them in a way that I enjoyed hearing does not mean that he could write them. I doubt he would want to write them down, though. All that book would be—”
“A tribute to boyhood mischief?”
“Well… yes, though I think there was more to his stories besides your childhood.”
“Does that scare you?”
“Considering some of the things I did before I went to war, yes, it does.”