Thank for the reviews, it's so good to know somebody still cares for this story. I have changed very little from the original ending.
Hope you enjoy. Otherwise feel free to complain ;-)
But the chance for escape did come, Phillip started to cry his eyes out, minutes after they had arrived, and he only wanted to be in his mother's arms. The poor thing was teething, she assumed, and she didn't have the heart to refuse his need for her. And Phillip helped her to avoid any talk with Rhett, it was a talk she wasn't ready for, confused as she was with her own feelings. She just detested the common Anne for being fast with her husband, unused to sorting out her thoughts and feelings, she didn't start now. Finally, the little boy fell asleep and before long, his exhausted parents followed his example.
The day after was too busy to talk of anything important, Scarlett was happier than she had been for months; a ball, it was most exciting! Oh, how she longed to dance the night away!
Rhett had been generous and bought new dresses for all three women; they were modest and acceptable to Charleston standards, but Scarlett was very pleased with her simple jade green silk-watered dress. Even in this simple dress, she would make him proud, she was sure.
Rhett had a hard time taking his eyes of his beautiful wife, her eyes were bright and sparkling from her excitement, which made them a deeper shade of emerald green, a color that flattered her.
Scarlett was in high spirit, she would be dancing the night away, just like before the war and if she closed her eyes; she could almost imagine she was sixteen again and the belle of the county. Oh to be sixteen again and have all her beaux flocking around her and fighting for her attention! Completely forgotten was the two children she had bore, overwhelmed, as she was, with longings of being back at Tara without responsibilities and duties. And for a moment, she, again, was the belle Scarlett O'Hara. All she had to do was keeping her eyes shut.
Resentment filled her with the interruption.
"Scarlett are you ready?"
Reluctantly, she open her eyes; "How can I be ready, when you insist on screaming into my ear Rhett? By all means let's go".
Starring coolly at her Rhett offer his arm, he had recognized her expression; she had been dreaming of Mr. Wilkes.
Scarlett was the belle of the ball, just like she had been, when she was sixteen. She danced every dance with a new gentleman, she remembered the moral standards of property and would never hurt Rhett's mother. Yet, Rhett hadn't asked her for a dance, it confused her, watching how the other husbands frequently danced with their wives; she had expected the same courtesy of Rhett. Her eyes surfed the room and finally rested on his dark figure. Rhett was dancing and seemed to enjoy it, extendedly. Slowly, Rhett turned and she saw his dance partner. It was Anne! A beaming Anne, and it looked like, they had been dancing for ever.
Rhett's dark eyes locked with her eyes, they were blank and his smile mocking. She paled visible and her eyes lost their glow, she wasn't prepared for this. He hadn't looked at her that way, since before Phillip was born. When the dance was over, Scarlett excused herself and found a chair away from the crowd. She kept her eyes on Rhett; he escorted Anne away from the dance floor to a bar for refreshments. Anne was the one on Rhett's arm and not her, his wife. In shock she studied Rhett; he was a very handsome man. Surprised, she noticed, that she was not the only woman looking at him; many other female eyes followed his every move and clearly envied Anne. Rhett was charming, when he wanted to be, she knew that, therefore it didn't amazed her, that he draw the female attention he did. If they only knew how good a kisser and gentle lover he was, they wouldn't settle with just looking. Perhaps they didn't? She never kept track with Rhett's whereabouts, never sought his company, except when Anne was around. The truth was plain, Scarlett took him for granted; suddenly her heart became heavy. What would she do if she lost him? He was her best friend.
Again, her eyes turned to her husband, who, now, was in the company of three ladies, including Anne.
Longingly, she realized that she wanted him to smile that charming smile to her and making his cruel jokes to her. She wanted his eyes to look into her eyes and focus on her solely. It was perplexing, she didn't love him, did she?
She kept starring at him feeling it was the first time she really saw him, saw Rhett as he really was. And she was pleased with what she saw; he was the best looking man in the room. Studying him intensely, she saw how unhappy his eyes were, he wasn't enjoying himself at the moment. The happiness, she saw, when he looked at the children and... and at her was gone. And, truthfully, she wasn't as happy dancing with strangers, as she was, when dancing with Rhett.
Suddenly, she remembered all the times, she had been content with Rhett and the children's company, how secured she felt in his arms. She couldn't lie anymore; she felt loved when she was in his arms.
Realization flashed through her heart; she loved Rhett!.
This time it was Rhett's eyes scanning the room, he hadn't seen Scarlett for some time now, not since they locked eyes on the dance floor. He was growing tired of the ladies, and the fact that Anne's eyes never left his face. It was annoying to be the centre of her romantic love all the time. His eyes met Scarlett's again, she was sitting alone. Scarlett, who always were surrounded by men, was sitting alone. She looked at him oddly, almost like, it was the first time she saw him.
For once Rhett didn't know what to do and before he could reach a decision, Scarlett started walking his way. Placing a delicate hand on his arm, softly saying; "I think you own your wife a dance Mr. Butler!"
"Why, of course Mrs. Butler! I will be delighted". Rhett offered Scarlett his arm and excused himself.
Scarlett's body melted perfectly into Rhett's when the music started, both remembered how well they danced together. Smiling she said; "before we left the house, I remembered how it was to be sixteen, and the belle of the county. But, now, I wouldn't turn back time."
"So it wasn't the fair Mr. Wilkes occupying your head Scarlett?"
"Ashley? Why would I think of him Rhett?"
"Well you have wasted you time on him quiet often in past my pet".
Scarlett laughed, "Touché but that was a long time ago, I used Ashley to stay sixteen for ever. I haven't thought of him for many months, now."
Rhett's dark eyes soften, "Why wouldn't you change your life my darling?"
"If I did, I wouldn't have you and our children, and that would be a poor life darling" she answered simply.
"Does that mean you hold affections for you husband Mrs. Butler," there was raw hope in his voice.
"I wouldn't call it affections Rhett"
The hope in Rhett's eyes died.
"But, I would call it love," now she jested him, like he had done to her so many times. He couldn't control himself; he had to kiss her. And what a kiss! All his love for her was in that kiss. Kissing him back, with the same fire, she lost herself for a moment, before remembering where she was.
Drawing back she jested; "Mr. Butler, remember yourself, or I will never recover my reputation"
Laughing softly he answered, "I love you Scarlett! I want the world to know that. But I will stop, we will be breaking too many hearts tonight, if we don't".