DOuble treat this weekend. I'm off of work for Mardi Gras,,,, so I got to do two chapters this weekend!
The train ride up north was like magic, at one point they crossed the yellowing fields of the south to the white snow covered valleys of the North. Mammy, Prissy and Pork had gladly boarded the train to Tara the following day on Christmas Eve, without a fuss, as Mammy had put it, "I got no use for those Yankees!". The visit at Aunt Pitty was exciting for Beau who got to open the the new set of soldiers from Scarlett complete with artillery and cavalry as well as a bag full of marbles and agates from Rhett with a board that could be used to play three games. Of course Aunt Pitty raved about Scarlett and Rhett extravagance on the gifts as well as the yards of dress material she got to bring to her dressmaker.
Now on the train as it pulled into the station in New York CIty, Scarlett pulled her fox coat around her tighter, as Rhett took her arm, "I've figured you to be heartier than this to the cold."
"I am, it's just so different, we don't have this much snow in the SOuth."
"Maybe that's why the Yankees look so stuck up and cold, they live in ice blocks."
Scarlett had tried to get Rhett to stay in the city first, but he insisted it would be best to be out of the hustle and bustle and noise. The ride for the past three nights, was shaky and loud at night. Scarlett woke up several times, to check her seat belt in bed, hoping she wouldn't fall out. She wanted to get a hot bath, and lay in a bed that didn't rock and clack for hours. It was Christmas Eve night, when the carriage brought them to the hotel that resembled a lodge in the wilderness.
AFter the porter brought in their bags, Rhett asked, "What do you think?"
"We are out in the middle of nowhere, why Tara would have been had more civilization!"
"Ah, but there is no waterfall at Tara,and like you said Suellen's children would be running up and down inside, making noise, listen how quiet and peaceful it is."
Scarlett got quiet for a minute, as her heartbeat increased, "True, it is peaceful, as long as we keep it that way."
"Well, three days on the train, and you only complained about the bed, you are being pretty good."
Scarlett smiled, "And, you arent being bad, enough."
Rhett looked away as he lit his cigar, "I'm on good behavior, besides I want you to relax."
Scarlett lounged in the arm chair next to him and removed her gloves, then her boots, and the maid with the Irish brogue came from the water closet, "Mrs. Butler, your bath is ready ma'am."
Scarlett nodded walked across the room, watching Rhett from over her shoulder. He concentrated on his cigar.
The bath was warm, and revived Scarlett's tired body, as she walked into the sitting room, where all that was left was the smell of Rhett's cigar. She followed the gaslights from the bedroom of the suite that beconed her to the crackling stone fireplace. As she looked in the room, Rhett sat up in the bed with his robe tied around his waist, and a set of brandy glasses on a tray with various treats and two brightly wrapped boxes.
"Just a minute!" Scarlett called as she rushed over to her trunk digging out the narrow box wrapped in gold, glittering ribbon.
Scarlett climbed into the bed and sat next to Rhett, "Are we opening gifts?"
"Well, it is midnight. And all the good Catholics are at Midnight Mass."
"And we are?" Scarlett trailed off.
"We are heathens, we are engoring liquor and gluttony treats and opening gifts!" Rhett chuckled.
"You first," Scarlett placed the box on his lap brushing his thigh, as he shifted.
"No, no, Ladies first," Rhett pushed the bigger box towards her, and Scarlett eagerly grabbed it up.
Rhett sipped his brandy and bit into a pastry as she tore the paper with vengence, and pried open the wooden box. It was a box of handkerchiefs, seven to be exact. Each starched white handkerchief was lined in delicate lace and had a gold thread swirled letter S stitched on the corner.
Scarlett stiffened, "These are lovely, so beautiful."
"Well, now you have no excuses, one for everyday of the week, I hope you don't need to use them too often." Rhett snickered as he drained his glass.
"I don't think I will, but thank you, Rhett."
Open the little one, too!" Rhett ordered as he filled his glass.
Scarlett took a sip of brandy in between, and then set her glass down, half full. She turned the little box over in her hand, and pulled the paper off with one pull, and then opened the hinged box, and the gems inside twinkled like stars. It was a tiny pair of ear bobs, that glittered like two tear drops, hanging from a gold hooks. Scarlett took them out and placed them in her ears, smiling, "How do the pearls look?"
Rhett examined them, "They are a little too pale, for your skin. They are called opals, from Australia."
Scarlett crawled out of the bed to the mirror, "Oh, they are fine, and so unusual, they glow, and they are more blue than white, now I can see them better."
"I'm glad you can compliment yourself, my pet."
Scarlett turned flashing eyes on Rhett and grabbed a roll from the tray, "Open, yours, now!"
Rhett placed the brandy on the side of the night stand, and shook the box gently, cocking an eyebrow at her.
She sat next to him, the smell of lavendar soap, and cinnamon wafted over to him with tinges of brandy, "Open it, Rhett!"
He painstakingly undid the ribbon, and peeled back the paper, the navy blue box was familiar, the only fine jewelry shop in Atlanta. He shook off the lid, and the cravat pin twinkled in the gas lights. It was the shape of a horseshoe set with diamonds and garnets, that caught his eye.
"Scarlett, it is beautiful, and so simple, who helped you pick it out?"
Scarlett's brows puckered, "I did it by myself?"
"Well, bravo, your tastes are improving!"
Scarlett swatted him, and took another sip of her brandy finishing it.
"I shall wear it to dinner tomorrow night," smiled Rhett.
Scarlett curled up next to Rhett as his arm went around her and she lounged her head on his shoulder, turning her face so that it could be easy to kiss. He watched her from the corner of his eye, and knew if he started where it would go. Having her close to him in the bed, could he lay without indulging, and she was so willing the participant.
"We'll get a good night's sleep tonight, no seat belts," chuckled Rhett slinking further down on the pillow, as she turned over placing her folded hands on his chest resting her chin. Her green eyes searched his face willing him to look at her, "I'm not all that tired."
It was a blatant invitation, and how could he resist, he felt his body tingling at the thought. He looked down at her, smiling like a lioness waiting to sink into a zebra, and then she lunged her face next to him and kissed him. The kissed tasted like brandy and sugar, and her hair fell around him wafting with lavender, Rhett couldn't help, but kiss her back, and soon she was on her back, and he was freeing himself of his robe. He looked at her, those eyes were trusting and called surrender, her mouth gently opened waiting for him. His voice was husky as he kissed her neck, "Are you sure this is wise, Scarlett?"
SHe didn't asnwer, but agreed with a hum, and then he looked at her, "Scarlett? Is this wise?" He almost shouted it, and rolled off of her.
"Rhett?" she sat up with tears in her eyes, "Wise?"
He ran his hands through his hair, "Yes, wise? You could get pregnant? Is that what you want?"
Scarlett winced at his vulgar language, and topic of discussion, "Well, I guess you don't want-"
"No," he answered, again as if refusing a piece of pie,"I don't need to bring another person into- this."
Scarlett slowly turned over and laid away from him, as the tears ran down her face, "Good Night, she coughed over her shoulder.
Rhett laid there, as the bed shook with her sobbing, he didn't know what to say, or do. He didn't want to hurt her, but he was mad, how thoughtless she was, and impulsive. He took a deep breath and said, "Come over here, Scarlett."
She didn't answer, and she stopped crying, to wipe her eyes with her hand, "What?"
"Come here, you're not a leper. I just don't want to get carried away."
"You did last week?" she answered with a building venom, "I guess you still hate me!"
" I don't hate you."
"You don't love me, I told you-"
"Scarlett, stop with semantics, your no SHakespeare."
"SHut up and leave me alone!"
His rejection was getting to her vanity and her own selfish wants, and he did as she said, he shut up, and laid there listening to her sobs die down, as each one ripped his heart, and then her low hum of a snore. She could be pregnant already, and then what. He couldn't think about that now, she had no business having another child, when she hadn't dealt with losing Bonnie, and when had she ever wanted children, is it now that she wanted to trap him? His head hurt thinking about all this intricate web of hurt and pain. It made him want to run, run away from himself, but he was in bed with her in the wilderness, he had brought this on himself. His good nature deed, to help her relax had caused her more pain. Soon sleep made his lids heavy and he was sleeping, a restless sleep that swung between worries and exhaustion. It was in the early morning hours of Christmas that he felt a warm bundle on his back and turned over to see her black head buried in his back, and her icy feet on his legs. Rhett turned over and put his arms around her pulling her close to warmth, she was so harmless in her sleep, it was the only time of the day he could appreciate her sweet face, in spite of her low snore and her drool, she was his, if he wanted her, now, and she said she loved him. Wasn't that what he wanted? WHy was he fighting it now? It was his pride and his hurt for the years of abuse he had suffered in the name of oving AShley WIlkes. But, she hadn't even thought enough of buying Ashley a gift, much less longing for him. No, now Rhett was the object of her obsession, but was it obsession, she had been so docile and so controlled around him. Even after her spells left her after they followed Dr. Meade's advice, he couldn't risk having a child, his heart couldn't handle it now, and he wondered if she could handle it, barely a year after her accident.
His body tensed as he thought of her, and her eyes fluttered open,"Rhett?" she asked groggily, "What are you doing?"
"Are you cold, you were crawling up my back?"
She nodded and put her head back on his chest, and drifted to sleep.
Breakfast had been a quiet meal, and so was the preparation to visit the bridge and the falls. Scarlett had brought her warmest clothes, and she felt dowdy and stiff in the layers of wool and furs. The horse that pulled the sleigh was a monstrous size with heavy fur on it's legs, and it jerked and pulled the sleigh through the thick snow. Scarlett sat across from Rhett and stared into the snow, biting her tongue with her hurt vanity and pride simmering. Rhett's face was pinched and worried, and he was sorry for his part of making this trip so unpleasant, but she wouldn't listen to him, and every time he opened his mouth, she pointed her index finger at him, and her sharp eyes cut daggers at him. Finally, she said, "I don't care to hear anything, you have to say."
Rhett had his own anger seething, how dare she dismiss him because she didn't get her way. He had to talk with her and clear the air or this was going to be a dismal trip, and he wanted to have an enjoyable holiday with her. He finally said, "We can go home tomorrow, Scarlett."
Scarlett would not meet his eyes, she let him talk to the air.
"Scarlett, you heard what I said?"
She turned slowly to look at him, "I'm not a child, you can play games with like that."
"Then, stop acting like a child, and talk to me."
"What do you want to talk about so much? How you are going to leave me again, and how you don't love me anymore, now that I'm willing to meet you half way!" The fury that was underneath was aflame, and Rhett just waited for her storm to blow over.
"Did you ever think, I'm worried about you? You are having these awful dreams and it has been not quite a year since your accident."
Scarlett humphed and pulled the lap blanket up higher, "Now, you are using all my ailments against me!"
"Look, I left, and I was angry, but I came back-"
"To keep gossip down!"
"Maybe that, but I see that you need-"
"Don't stay out of pity!"
"Scarlett, lower your voice, these Yankees aren't used to your outbursts! I'm not staying out of pity, I wanted us to have a pleasant holiday, and get away from -"
"You brought me to a frozen wilderness to see some water, an why, if you can't stand me!"
"Like I said, trains run everyday, we can go home tomorrow."
Scarlett ignored him, until he asked, "Well?"
Scarlett looked at him, and sniffed, "No, I don't want to get back on that train for three days."
They sat in silence, until the sleigh stopped at the foot of the bridge. The bridge was fairly new, younger than Scarlett, and a guide took them around in the still cold air talking about Native Americans and how the Falls work. Scarlett was surprised the water still flowed in the bitter cold, but the guide informed her, it had "warmed up" the past few days, and it was late January when they expected colder weather, or even a slim chance that the falls would freeze. The bridge was made of stone and wood, and Rhett walked with her up to the middle to see a better view of the falls, it was amazing and breath taking, and for the hour they spent in the freezing cold, Scarlett forgot about her troubles with Rhett.
Rhett nudged her with his elbows, "That fall over there is called the Horseshoe Falls, like the pin you got me."
Scarlett sneered, "I guess you have something to remember this trip by, then."
Rhett chuckled, "Oh, I'll remember it, believe me."
"WHen your gone again, I guess you will."
Rhett was not getting trapped in an argument, "Maybe I don't want to go, just yet."
"We'll see," said Scarlett as she pulled away from his arm, and made her way back down the bridge to the sleigh.
It was cold, stark and dark, when they made it back to the lodge, and Scarlett refused to take off her coat until she had drank her second cup of tea, and she rolled her eyes, as Rhett preened himself to go out for their "Christmas" dinner. The irish maid, Molly, had come back up to help her get dressed for dinner, and the girl's mouth never stopped running.
"Mrs. Butler, but that is a beauty of a dress."
"Thank you, how do you think it looks with my opals?"
"Opals? Is that what they are?"
"Yes, what do you think?"
"Well, they look quite striking with your velvet, is that navy blue?"
"No, we call it cobalt in Atlanta, it was my daughter's favorite color."
"Your daughter, lord mercy, she must be a beauty!"
Scarlett looked at Molly," Yes, she was, you see- she's passed."
Molly's eyes filled with tears, "I shall pray for her soul, poor dear."
"Thank you, Molly, and yes, she was quite a beauty."
Scarlett made sign for the girl to leave her, and stared into the mirror. Her eyes were puffy from crying, and her skin was pale. SHe was feeling drained which could be a sign of all her ailments, but she had hoped for the most important, and then she thought of what Rhett had said, "Not even a year."
Was he right? Damn him! She didn't even know if it was safe to have a baby now, and she wasn't thinking of that when she was with Rhett, she just thought, if only she gave him what he wanted, be his wife physically, he would stay and not leave her, and love her. Scarlett would like to have a child to replace Bonnie, but was that really wanting a child, like she wanted a new dress, when one was out of fashion? Maybe she wanted a child, to keep Rhett, but he didn't even want one, but he was just afraid, and scared to forget Bonnie, but a little boy, a son would be so different, and who knew if another daughter would be so much like Bonnie, she could be different? She was picturing a new baby in her arms, and the world being perfect when Rhett tapped her shoulder.
"A penny for your thoughts? Or should I say gold?"
"Rhett, I'm imagining putting on all those clothes again just to go out to eat. i would be happier in my wrapper with cheese and crackers in here."
Rhett laughed, "Now you see why Yankees are such a miserable lot. Are you being nice to me now? Not mad anymore? Come get on your layers of wool, I know you want a hot decent meal."
Scarlett closed her eyes, "I guess I see your point, but I was hoping this was a second honeymoon for us."
Rhett looked at her pouting face through the mirror, "We are getting to know each other again, so I guess it is. Having you physically wasn't what I wanted the most, Scarlett, it was your heart, that doesn't have to be physical."
Scarlett listened to his riddles, "Talk English, Rhett."
"You want it in simpler terms?"
"You know what I mean."
"Well, this is it, I could have taken or left the physical part of our marriage, that's not why I was angry. It was the fact you never gave me your heart and your soul, that's where I felt left out. I wanted you to want and obsess over me, like you did over him."
Scarlett looked back at him in the mirror, "You have my heart, now, and you don't want it."
"YOu think you have to give it to me physically, you don't. You just have to love me, and surrender your heart, so that I am the only one."
"But, you are the only one-"
"It doesn't happen over night, the fact that I am so worried about you, that I would deny myself my carnal lust, that's love. You don't get it, not yet. And I'm not risking my heart until you do. And you don't have to risk your health or your life to prove it to me. Not to mention an innocent baby, we are in no way capable of being parents,maybe we never were."
Scarlett looked at his face, it was serious, but not in a mad way. Rhett was serious in a way that he cared about her, and she only wished she knew what the hell he wanted from her. How could she show him, he had her heart?
"Get my coat, you make my head hurt."