"Scarlett! Master Rhett and Bonnie are home!" Mammy rushed up the first few steps of the lavishly furnished staircase before clutching onto the banister. "Scarlett!" The woman in question had already hastened to the top of the stairs, with her petticoat showing beneath the unfastened buttons of her lavender gown. "'Tis scandalous to be seen in such a state!" But the front door was already inching open. Mammy stared at Scarlett in horror while Scarlett regarded the heavy oak door with a mixture of delight and apprehension.

Her dear Bonnie was finally returning home…she had missed her daughter's shrill but sweet laugh, and the way her beautiful dark curls bounced over her blue riding dress when she galloped on her small pony. She even missed Bonnie's temperamental nature and wild desire for attention.

And of course, there was Rhett. Scarlett refused to admit that she was fond of his impudent manner, but she longed for their quick banter and the caresses that bordered on being indecent. Why, if he were nice to her, she would even forgive him taking Bonnie away without warning.

She knew Rhett would be thrilled by her secret. She couldn't bear to think otherwise. Oh yes, Rhett would be delighted at the news and he would lavish her with marvelous gowns and sparkling, expensive jewelry. That would show the old gossiping women of Atlanta! It would prove that Scarlett O'Hara couldn't give a whit about their envious judgment. Scarlett was surprised to realize that this idea did not thrill her as much as it used to. She was reluctant to admit it to herself, but more than anything, she cared about Rhett's opinion. Although it was her initial intention, Scarlett had begun to resent the distance between her and Rhett, and how even addressing him made her feel self-conscious. She yearned for the carefree atmosphere of their honeymoon and the conversations that they had every evening, from tales of his rebellious childhood to the experiences that she had as a privileged Southern belle thrust into the unforgiving war. Much as she'd like to deny it out of a combination of modesty and defiance, Scarlett took pleasure in the quiet intimacy of these discussions. She even regretted demanding separate rooms, but she could hardly go barging into Rhett's bedroom now without completely abandoning her dignity. He was sure to make a scathingly patronizing comment that would make her feel humiliated. It was so easy for him to strip away her defenses and reduce her to the naïve and vulnerable girl that she was before the war.

But the situation was different now. Scarlett had expected to be furious when she discovered that she was with child. Although she was tempted to blame Rhett entirely, she was honest enough to admit that she was far from being inculpable. She had felt guilty for her dalliance with Ashley at the mill and had wanted to apologize, but Rhett had seemed so cold and unfeeling that the words had caught in her throat. The memory of that night of unbridled passion still caused a frisson of anticipation to course through her being.