Her daughter was destined to suffer because of her transgressions. An Unlikely Arrangement.

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Chapter 13

Priscilla Squire sat in the parlor alone, the lace handkerchief wet with tears. Every fiber of her body screamed she should find Ruth, but her energy was sapped, all strength gone…defeated. Robert blamed her, and Ruth hated her.

I’ve made so many mistakes, taken so many wrong turns, and now, I’ve made my daughter suffer for my own transgressions.

The room was a warm inviting place, and she scanned it slowly, absorbing every inch as if it was the last time she would see her beloved sanctuary. What was she to do? Force wouldn’t persuade Ruth to marry Eric Horton. Peter was, by far, the better choice for her happiness.

What of the house, our home since I was a baby? What of my husband, what will become of us?

She paced the floor, went to the window, and moved the curtain aside as if an answer would fly through to save them. It didn’t, and the heavy drape dropped back into place.

No, I must face this music alone. Where is Ruth, now? Probably in Robert’s room seeking comfort. They are so close. Ruth loves him more than me. Well, I should not be surprised. All I wanted was for her to have more out of life.

Seated on the settee again, she thought of the days of her young womanhood. So many suitors, so many choices. There was Edward. Very handsome, wanted to be a lawyer…and Alexander…I thought he was the love of my life. We danced together at the cotillions and the balls. He was a perfect dancer, and I, the candy on his arm.

For a moment, she could see the girl again, and tears sprang to her eyes at the memory of that horrible night.                               

It was the night of the All City Ball. There were several gowns to choose from, and she could not make up her mind. Sarah nipped and tucked each one to help her make a decision, and finally settled on the rose. Or rather, Sarah settled on it. Red was her first choice, but it wasn’t allowed.

As it turned out, Sarah’s choice was perfect. All the attention was on her. Roger, Richard, Edward. They all signed her dance card for a chance to waltz with the most beautiful girl in the sweeping, blush rose dress. It would be her demise.

Alexander claimed her early, convinced the other boys to back off, as only he could. The evening was warm, perfect to tease all male admirers in the ravishing off-the-shoulder dress. Alexander’s eyes glittered with desire, and he persuaded her to step outside to the courtyard and cool off. They settled at the back garden, away from the other couples stealing kisses in the dark of night.

At first, his kiss was sweet and eager, but soon, his lips bruised hers, harsh, almost angry. She begged him to stop, but he turned into a mad dog. He ripped the bodice of the beautiful dress, squeezed her breasts, and crushed the sounds of her screams with his mouth. The end came when he hiked her skirts up and took her, there, on the freshly turned flowerbed, under the sycamore tree. No one could see, no one could hear. She crumpled in a heap, alone, almost unconscious, tears streaming down dirty cheeks.

Sometime later, a voice called out, soft, questioning, “Miss Williams, are you all right? Did you fall? Can I help you?”

Through cracked lips, she called to the young man, “Get Sarah, quick, my maid.” She lay on one side, her back to him, unwilling for him to see the destruction.

Within minutes, Sarah collapsed beside her, knees smashing the flowers in the manicured beds. “Please, Robert, help me get her home.”

The memory disappeared at the shake of her head. The beauty was gone…the innocent girl vanished. Robert Squire kept her secret and did the proper thing, and in time, his core goodness, compassion, and strength melted the stone in her heart. Love found them, but she never entirely forgot Alexander Adams. “This will not do. It does no good to mull over those mistakes. I cannot go back.”


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