Happy Weekend All!

Chapter 33

As Rhett helped Scarlett into the carriage, the silence between them was like a heaviness that made her feel like she was suffocating. As they began to ride on, the clopping of the horses' hooves pounding against the street sounded louder than usual and made their lack of conversation even more conspicuous. Minutes later, they arrived at a busy intersection and she unexpectedly caught a glimpse of India under a bright street lamp. Rhett paused the carriage momentarily while he waited for another one to pass across the intersection, oblivious to the fact that Scarlett's biggest nemesis was standing only a few feet away from them.

Of all the places and times we had to stop! Scarlett thought regretfully as she tried to pretend she didn't see India. Before she could turn away, India spied her face and snarled at her, curling her upper lip like an angry mongrel getting ready to bite. At any other time, Scarlett would have gladly gotten even, but she had more pressing matters to think about and decided she would ignore her for once. Before she turned completely away, she saw India take a spill into a pothole filled with slush. Rhett suddenly noted India's presence, and remembering the grief she had always given Scarlett, let out a haughty laugh before he tugged on the reins for the horses to move on again.

"Rhett!" Scarlett said in a loud whisper, "the good book tells us to help our enemies! Maybe we should go back to see if she's all right."

"That book also tells us that pride goeth before the fall!"

"Well…now…it does say that, doesn't it?" Scarlett agreed as she twisted around in her seat and looked back at India. India was emerging dripping wet from the icy soup and yelling in their direction. Though she had meant to contain her composure and be the bigger woman, Scarlett couldn't keep herself from laughing along with Rhett. Rhett glanced over and saw the twinkle of merriment in Scarlett's eyes and began to feel very warmed by her presence in spite of the frigid night air. "Now that's the Scarlett I've been missing!" Rhett declared with a huge grin.

"But, Rhett!" Scarlett replied. "I thought that you wanted me to be –"

"To be someone other than yourself? Never in a million years! I've always enjoyed your mischievous side. The only thing I ever minded was that you held back your love from me in order to honor that stupid Ashley Wilkes! I don't know which offends me more. That you wasted all those years hoping to be with him or that he gave you a reason to."

"Gave me a reason to?" Scarlett asked with surprise.

"Your charming Mr. Wilkes and I had a very interesting conversation today. Heaven only knows you were operating under quite a spell of delusion once he and Melanie were wed, but I'm not buying his claim that the only time you two were together was at some silly debutante ball he took you to when you were sixteen. Care to add to his story?"

"Well…Rhett…you know this is rather awkward for me to talk about, but it wasn't like that at all! He had gone off to Europe and he started calling me practically the moment he returned and he kept calling on me for two more years before I found out through other people that he was marrying his cousin!"

"I thought as much. What a sniveling coward he was. I'm sure he took great pleasure in others seeing him with the belle of the country; squiring you around like like some prized racehorse! What I find insulting is that when he did finally decide to take the 'plunge' it had to be with someone of his own bloodline because he deemed all other women 'unworthy'!"

"Fiddle-dee!" Scarlett seethed. "That's exactly right! Even Charles didn't think that way. The families had planned for him to be with India and he just wanted to marry for love first and foremost. I guess I didn't appreciate that or him and I –"

"Scarlett, don't!" Rhett said as he gave a swift tug of the reins to stop the horses and pulled the carriage over. "Don't burden yourself that way," he said sweetly as he gently cupped her delicate chin and stared intensely into her emerald eyes. "That little girl doesn't exist anymore and you had nothing to do with his death. Just be glad for the love he gave you and know that if it hadn't been for Ashley's narcissism, you probably would have never accepted his proposal to begin with. Well enough of this rehashing of history. I know we're leaving for a trip in the morning, but I can't bear the thought of going home so early. Want to go meet some friends of mine?"

Scarlett perked up at the thought of having a little fun and flashed a dimple filled smile at him and replied "I would love to, Rhett!" She was so relieved to hear they were still going to Baltimore. She thought surely once she had made her announcement that she wasn't sleeping with him that this was going to be their last night together.