Lady in Wanting - Part 2
Melinda watched her door close.
The solid oak thudded as the brass handle latched, leaving her alone inside the room she’d known all her life. Matching dressers, a wardrobe, and a vanity décored the warm, earthy walls that often made her feel like a maiden lost in the woods. A few of her old, favorite toys and a small playhouse loitered the corners below a collection of dolls. They stared at her, their glass eyes clear and dry. They would not weep for her taken innocence.
All the money in the world could not remove the anguish that stirred her soul. But all her coin was enough to keep the doctor silent.
Melinda took a breath, resisting the sick that dominated her stomach. She looked out the window. The doctor crossed the street, followed by the tailor’s apprentice.
What’s he doing here?
Stepping back, Melinda sat on the edge of her bed. She did not know what to do, feeling trapped and alone. Nothing in her pampered life could prepare her for the harsh reality that she faced. How could she face anyone now? Her parents. Her betrothed. With an utterance, even her best friend would be lost.
A rapping beyond the door disturbed her internal war.
Melinda tried to answer, but she swallowed instead.
“I saw the doctor,” her friend carried on. Always the strong-headed one, something Melinda wished she had more constitution of. “Might I come in, or will I catch whatever you caught?”
Dashing for her covers, Melinda made ready to feign the fever that she convinced the doctor to tell whoever inquired of her condition. She reached for the bowl of water on her nightstand, dabbed her fingers in the pool, and rubbed droplets on her face, completing the effect. “Come in.”
Lyra entered, looking lovely as ever. Her long dark hair draped behind her shoulders, her eyes framing amber irises. The normal confidence that defined her was missing. “You look dreadful.”
Melinda laughed, masking a cry. “And you flustered. I’m sorry for leaving you.”
“A short explanation would’ve kept me from upturning the town for you, but all is forgiven.” Lyra strode to the bed and sat by Melinda’s side. “I didn’t mind. Giles walked me here. He seemed just as concerned about your leaving as I was. I invited him to the mask.” Lyra pressed her palm on Melinda’s head. “Strange,” she said. “You look pale, and feverish, but you don’t feel it.”
A sob surfaced in Melinda’s throat. Her silent tears joined the water on her cheeks.
“This can’t be good,” Lyra asserted. “Are you putting this on?”
“I must,” Melinda choked. “I do not know what to do.”
“If not a fever, what has made you ill?”
Finding the words impossible, Melinda raised her head and looked down. Her hand followed and stopped over her middle.
Lyra shot up like a lamppost. “Are you sure?”
Melinda closed her eyes. More tears streamed into her pillow. Only Lyra knew the truth now. Relinquishing her secret brought about an overwhelming feeling of mixed relief and regret.
“I’m not sure . . .”
Lyra knelt beside the bed. “There is another?”
“I was to see him tonight,” Melinda said, “but I dare not now.”
“What will you do?” Lyra asked, her voice impressively calm.
Melinda reached, desperately, for Lyra’s hand. “Go in my place? Tell him it’s over?”
Lyra did not answer, her face writhen with torn patience. “No one else knows?”
Melinda shook her head.
“I thought I knew you better, but for you, I will ... if you tell me who the father is ...”
(600 words: A relationship becomes complicated: A character lies to another on an important manner.)
Click here for Part 1.
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That concludes my Rule of Three Blogfest entry for this week. For the sake of repeating, this is an experiment on writing romance--time-period romance, at that!
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