Chapter 2

Rhett Butler left the small house on Peachtree Street feeling quite smug. He knew she would come around. Of course she would, he thought grinning, he never knew a woman who could stand the onslaught of good looks mixed with smartness and slight danger he personified.

Truth to be told, he hadn't dealt with prim and proper girls in years, and at the time would have never dared to kiss them like this, but he knew she wasn't one of the many ornamental wallflowers that decorated the salons of the South.

She had spirit and fire and the most expressive face he had ever seen, so it seemed natural for him to be interested. Why was he so interested was something he didn't want to consider at the moment. He was in such a good mood and the day was so nice and sunny, it brought a springiness to his step he hadn't felt in a long time.

He reached his hotel in no time and throwing even more generous tips to the bellboys as usual, made way for his apartment, politely but succinctly avoiding any attempts at conversation from the people who lingered downstairs.

As he entered the room, he thought for a moment he should go and see Belle, but the thought of her perfumed girls throwing themselves at him made him reconsider. He could still feel Scarlett's faint smell of orange blossom and soap and he didn't want to loose that just yet.

He looked at the bed through the open door of his bedroom and started in that direction, but decided against it. It seemed dangerous to lie down when all he could think of was her in his arms. Even the couch looked too comfortable for his current mood, so he sat at his desk and started moving papers around without any purpose but to keep his hands busy.

Maybe, just maybe, she could feel too some of the magnetic attraction that was pulling him towards her. Was that even possible for a girl who had been raised in the stifling and prudish atmosphere of the South? He could show her so many entertaining ways to pass the time, and not only of carnal nature.

Her awkward boldness, born from the silly ambition of a girl who was never denied attention from her many suitors, gave him some hope. He just knew there was more to her, more than her affected airs and simpering ways, and if he could break that thin layer of fake modesty, she could see too how she didn't need to pretend in his presence.

He got up and went to look at the street below through the heavy curtains. He took his coat off and loosened his tie. He rearranged the small carpet in front of the entrance, straightening it with a short move of foot. Without realising, he was pacing around the room, moving aimlessly from one piece of furniture to another, frustrated with the ecstatic smile that wouldn't leave his face.

There was a big dining table in the furthest corner of the room, a table he never used, preferring to have his meals in the restaurant downstairs. He grabbed the back of a heavily ornamented and uncomfortable chair and squeezed hard, remembering her teeth around his finger.

"Pull yourself together, Butler. It was just a kiss.", he said loudly, trying to stop his erratic behaviour.

What if he made her his mistress? Would that be such an inconceivable dream to have? He could imagine her entering his room in a hurry, afraid that someone might see her and throwing herself at him, kissing him desperately for just a second, before starting to ask for whatever gifts he might have brought her. How he would spoil her, he thought, and cover her in jewellery and the finest silk and lace money can buy.

If only she wasn't the pampered daughter of a rich plantation owner. If she was some poor Irish girl, how simple things would be. Would it even matter if she came to see him for the gifts as long as he could peel down her many layers of clothing and make sure that her skin was as soft and velvety as he believed it to be?

He went to his desk again and started riffling through the documents, searching for something. There were two yellowed pieces of paper he wanted to see again.

After the Bazaar, he had asked one of the employees of the hotel to find him the newspapers with Charles Hamilton wedding announcement and his obituary. From that and from fractured pieces of conversation between the women in the Peachtree house, he understood that Scarlett had lived with her husband for two short weeks, and knowing her and remembering Hamilton's awkward shyness, he doubted the boy had managed to share her bed more than two or three times. And still she had born him a son.

Well, he thought with a smirk, it was true what they say about the Irish, they do breed like rabbits. If the impossible ever happened and she could be convinced to be his mistress, he would have to take some precautions. He didn't want to ruin the girl and he certainly didn't want to be part of a shotgun wedding.

The shiver that went thought him at the thought of Scarlett, pregnant with his child, laying in his bed would have been visible to anyone. Luckily, he was all alone. Slipping in his chair, he realised that the one thing he had been running away from his whole life was happening right now.

He was in love. He was in love with Scarlett O'Hara Hamilton. How did she manage to do that, he didn't know. He started laughing at himself, but it was a hollow, empty laugh. The woman was still longing for that insipid little gentleman and he was building castles in the air about her wanting him. Or was she? She couldn't have lied when she said she wasn't able to think of Ashley Wilkes in his presence. She was too young and unsophisticated to know how to say exactly the right thing in such a moment. Maybe there was some hope for him, for them.

What a mess, he though. Thanking God he had to leave Atlanta for Savannah in two days, he promised himself he was going to get drunk as hell for the next forty-eight hours and he was going to stay like that until the train left the station.