How could she marry someone she didn’t know? An Unlikely Arrangement. Chapter 2
March 13, 2013
A VG Serial: An Unlikely Arrangement
Her hands remained clasped in front of her, settled against the soft folds of her velveteen gown; eyes downcast. Rage coursed through her body, her heart pulsed with the beat of it. Face-to-face with a man said to be her future husband, white-knuckled, she fought for control.
Mother is angry, yes. Of course, I knew there would be consequences but I never expected this. To think my parents would betray me in such a way never once entered my mind.
“Dear, please do not be rude. Give Mr. Kirby the courtesy of acknowledging his presence.
She lifted her trembling hand to his out-stretched palm. Her throat constricted, and she could not look directly at him. Instead, she focused on his gray pinstripe slacks and moved up, inch by inch, until she reached his handsome face. An explosion echoed in her head as his eyes penetrated her soul. He stood over six feet tall, solidly built, and she felt small in his presence. She was not sure what she had expected, wasn’t sure she expected anything at all. A woodsy fragrance tickled her nose. Broad muscular shoulders complimented the rugged look, but at the same time exuded finesse, well-schooled manners, and proper decorum. His eyes were kind and compassionate, and her hand fit in his warm grasp like a comfortable glove.
“It’s so nice to meet you, Miss Squire. My mother and I are well versed in all of your fine accomplishments. Your parents are proud, indeed.” His speech was polished, controlled, and proper, yet his voice remained soft. His gaze rendered her speechless—a prisoner.
“I apologize Mr. Kirby, Ruthie is usually so glib and never this unpleasant. I cannot imagine why she’s acting this way.”
Startled by a sharp pinch on the back of one arm, she managed to disengage from his grasp and motioned for him to sit.
She cleared her throat. “Pardon me, Mr. Kirby, please forgive me. Won’t you sit over here?” She indicated the gold velvet settee he had occupied a moment ago and watched his movements as he followed her direction.
Muscular thighs…he does not make his living behind a desk. He moves with such purpose and the way he sits—elbows resting on his knees, large hands holding his hat, he…
Flushed and embarrassed, she took her seat beside him and hoped her expression did not give way to the thoughts crossing her mind.
The two-story Brownstone had been Ruth’s home from the day of her birth, a sanctuary from the modern upside-down world of 1929 in Detroit, Michigan. Until recently, she had loved this warm, relaxed house and appreciated her mother’s lavish taste. Now, it had turned into a guardhouse, and she yearned for freedom and independence. Last night, an eternity ago, her rebellion triggered this situation, and Peter Kirby appeared. She knew Mother, who now occupied the single chair in the room, leaving Father to stand by the fireplace, chose the parlor for this rendezvous because of its intimate arrangement.
“Ruth is a lovely name,” Peter said. “Are you named for your beautiful mother, Miss Squire?” Peter moved a bit closer and touched her hand.
Mother laughed aloud, “Why no, but thank you, Peter. May I call you Peter?” Mrs. Squire flirted, unabashed. “I chose Ruth’s name from the Bible. It fits her, don’t you think?”
“Indeed it does, Mrs. Squire.” Peter addressed the older woman, but his attention remained riveted on her.
Why won’t he look away? He never wavers. I must look away.
“Our marriage is in a fortnight, Miss Squire. Do you have any questions for me? I know this is sudden. I want to make this as pleasant as possible.” His hand now covered hers.
“Oh, I think we know as much as we need to know, Peter. Your mother gave us a detailed profile of your life. We are happy with our choice.” Mother rose to pour tea and handed a fragile china cup to the hopeful bridegroom.
Peter shifted his gaze from Ruth…slowly. “I am sure you have all the answers you need, Mrs. Squire. However, Ruth is the one who must commit. Surely, she has a few questions.” He looked steadfast into the eyes of the matron this time.
Ruth’s heart skipped and the silence took on a life of its own.
Such boldness, how will she react? No one ever talked to Mother in that tone.
She stole a glance, but turned back to look again on the man who dared such effrontery.
His rugged face glowed bronze in contrast to his white blond hair, and the blue in his eyes had turned to ice.
Mother was the first to look away.
Peter accepted the teacup and turned back to Ruth. “Do you have any questions for me, Miss Squire?”
Questions, of course I have questions.
The only one she could think of flew out of her mouth before she knew it. “How old are you, Mr. Kirby?”
“I am twenty-seven. I know you think it is a lot older, but it is a bonus for a young woman in this modern time. I am already established. You will want for nothing.”
Gosh, he doesn’t look almost thirty.
“You will meet my mother tomorrow,” Peter said. “You’ll like her, I think. She is an accomplished woman, as Mrs. Squire well knows. I am sure you will have had time to think of more questions when we return. I must take my leave I’m afraid. I have a route to run which requires an early start. I will be here, as well, tomorrow so I will see you again. I hope this hasn’t been altogether distasteful for you.” He patted her hand and stood to leave.
Chapters of the novel appear on Monday and Wednesday.
You can learn more about An Unlikely Arrangement on Amazon.