Love changed everything. She would soon have her freedom. An Unlikely Arrangement.

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Chapter 8 – 4

The kitchen was finished, and Ruth was well aware of the smiles on both Mrs. Kirby’s and Ginny’s faces. Did they know? Had the boys told them what they saw?

As they prepared to leave, she felt compelled to give Mrs. Kirby a small hug. “Thank you so much for dinner. It was delicious, very special, and the chiffon pie was excellent. I’m glad I found room for it after all. Tell the two boys good night for me. You made it very easy to get to know all of you. I suppose we will see each other very soon. Mother and Father will be home tomorrow.”

Elizabeth returned the hug. “You and Ginny are welcome here any time. I hope our next meeting is a pleasant one between all of us…you, and your parents.”

Peter cleared his throat. “Mother, do you suppose it would be improper of me to escort Ruth home, alone in my milk wagon? Ginny, would you mind going home by car? I’d like to speak to Ruth alone before we meet with her parents.”

“I think it’ll be perfectly fine, dear.”

“It’s okay with me, too, Peter. Your driver is very kind. It’ll be an adventure for me, out in the evening, alone with my own driver. How grown up am I?” Ginny replied.

Hand in hand, they saw Ginny safely to the car. Ruth took notice of Peter’s mother in the window as she watched them approach the milk wagon and saw the look of satisfaction on her face.

Peter circled his hands around her waist and lifted her like a feather to the driver’s seat. She didn’t protest.

“Do you like horses, Ruth?” Bunny neighed when she heard Peter’s voice.

“Yes, very much, I seldom get a chance to ride though.”

“That’s wonderful. Then, you’re not afraid.” He took a deep breath. “It’s a clear night for a change, a good night for a leisurely ride home. We can talk.”

The steady rhythm of the horse’s hooves on the cobblestone, the gentle sway of the wagon soothed her. She reflected on the kisses they shared in the garden. The schoolgirl escape from her window, a few nights ago, faded. In the blink of an eye, she was engaged, experienced her first kiss, and felt the heat of passion.

Am I falling in love? How can all this happen in only a few days?

Peter broke the silence. “You’re very quiet. Having second thoughts?”

She tilted her head toward him. “Do you really want to know?” Her mood mischievous, she wanted to tease him, to flirt a little, a glimpse of her old self.

He looked down and smiled. “Yes, I would like to know. I have to admit I’m insecure when it comes to your thoughts. You could have a change of heart, and I would be none the wiser. I want to get to know the real you.” The horses slowed, and he flicked the rein softly. Their heads bobbed and picked up the pace once more.

In a bold move, she took his hand. “I was thinking of the kisses in the garden, Peter. I liked the sensation, and I liked the blood rushing in my veins. I want to feel it again. Are you shocked?”

“Shocked no…excited, yes. I thought you might feel compromised. I have great respect for you. Look, there’s a small clearing. May I stop for a moment?”

She nodded her approval. “I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.”

The horses followed his direction and came to a stop under a willow tree. Peter set the brake and turned toward her. “You’re beautiful in the moonlight. Your black eyes sparkle, your milk white skin glows. I want to kiss you again.”

She turned her face toward the town to hide the blush she knew must be there. “Peter, look at the lights of the city. This is such a beautiful setting, like in a story.”

“Do you want me to kiss you or not.”

“Yes, please, kiss me.” Their lips met, and this time, Ruth parted her lips as he slipped his tongue between them. He explored the deep recesses of her sweet mouth, and her breathing stopped. He pressed, more forceful, and she felt his need. It matched hers. She had never felt like this. It surprised her that a woman could feel this way. The male anatomy was a mystery to her. She and Ginny would giggle about bulging muscles, dreamy eyes; the fine cut of a suit on a man. Now, her curiosity was peaked, and she wanted to know more. She yielded to him, melted into him. It felt like she was being devoured.

With a rough abruptness, Peter pulled her away from him. “Not now, Ruth, not like this. We must control ourselves. It must be right when it happens. I’m at the brink of not being able to stop myself, and I must not put you in that position.”

She whimpered slightly. “I don’t care, Peter. I want to know you…know what it’s like. My blood’s hot, and it won’t cool down.”

A slight breeze blew and lifted her hair. He brushed a strand away from her face. “You will, my darling, you will, on our wedding night. This is what I hoped would happen, that we would feel this way toward one another. Right now, I need to get you home. We have a big day ahead of us…your parents and all. Sarah must be beside herself with worry.”

She turned away from Peter. “I don’t care about Sarah, and I certainly don’t care about my parents. I’ve found you, and I don’t want to let you go.”

He grabbed her shoulders and forced her to look at him again. “Ruth, please do not act a child. You must convince your parents you are grown up enough for marriage. You must get a hold of yourself and do your duty. They must not see we desire one another, or they will keep us apart until the wedding. Don’t you see? We have to play the game so we might continue to steal moments together before we’re wed.”

Her shoulders slumped, and she bowed her head. “I’m sorry Peter. I am still a child I suppose. You stirred something in me; something I didn’t know was there. It will be hard to control, but I’m not sure I could bear not seeing you for a whole month, and to think, we only met three days ago. It’s so hard to believe.”

With his index finger, he raised her chin. “That’s my girl. Our parents think they have control right now, and we must do their bidding. Let’s take control of our own destiny, my sweetness. Let’s play the game with them.”

“Yes, Peter, yes. We can work together so we might find opportunity to see one another. It suits my rebellious nature to pull one over on my parents. I like your idea, Peter. I promise to behave like a woman you’ll be proud to have on your arm.”

With their heads together, Peter urged Patch and Bunny forward. As they entered the road once more, he bent to kiss her, softly. A sweet kiss, one she didn’t need to return. They didn’t speak for the rest of the ride home; there was no need, for there was perfect harmony between them. Love changed everything. Ruth would get her freedom from her parents, and a man who stirred her blood, and heightened her sense of adventure. She was secretly thankful she chose to escape from her bedroom window.


Chapters of the novel appear on Monday and Wednesday.

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