Always Proper, Suddenly Scandalous(111)

By: Christi Caldwell

His mother continued to sit there, motionless. After a long while, she smoothed her palms along the front of her burgundy silk skirts. “I am incapable of lying to you, Geoffrey. I have missed your father every day since the moment h-he…” Her voice broke, and she coughed into her hand, in an apparent attempt to conceal any display of emotion. “Since the moment I learned of his accident,” she amended. “And I do wish you had made far different decisions so he’d not been on that road that miserable night.” Her gaze slid momentarily over to Abigail, then back to Geoffrey. “And loving Abigail as you do, I imagine if you lost her, then you would give anything to alter the events that led to her death. Do you understand what I am saying?”

Abigail gave his hand a firm squeeze, and he swallowed hard, borrowing strength from his wife. He well understood. His had been an empty, meaningless existence until Abigail. If someone’s carelessness caused Abigail her life, Geoffrey would never be able to find any hint of forgiveness within his heart—not even if it was an, as of yet, unborn child, responsible for taking her from him.

“I am not fool enough to believe I can be forgiven this irrevocable wrong, but you and Sophie were…are deserving of the truth.”

Mother shook her head. An uncharacteristic gentleness settled around the lines of her mouth. “Oh Geoffrey, I can and will always regret all that came to pass, but I cannot hold you solely to blame for your father’s death.”

He drew in a shaky breath. “But…”

“I begged your father to set out after you, Geoffrey,” she said, her words so quiet he had to strain to hear them. “He disapproved of Emma Marsh, but I demanded he put a stop to your elopement.” She looked to a point just beyond his shoulder. “And for that, well, I can never forgive myself.” For a moment, a sheen of tears glazed her eyes, but then, she blinked several times, and they were gone, so Geoffrey wondered if he’d imagined them.

Mother reached for her teacup, raised it to her lips, and took a slow sip.

In a silent show of comfort, Sophie touched Mother’s knee, giving it a faint squeeze. The satin fabric rustled beneath Sophie’s subtle gesture.

Abigail looked at Geoffrey.

Geoffrey cleared his throat. “Mother, Sophie, there was, is, an additional reason I’ve asked you to visit this morning.”

His mother paused, glass mid-way to her mouth.

“I wanted to, we wanted to inform you, that Abigail is recently with child.”

Sophie’s eyes went wide; a smile wreathed her cheeks. “Oh, Geoffrey, how very exciting!” She clasped her hands together in front of her.

Geoffrey looked to his mother. She said nothing for a long, long moment. And then, a slow, wide smile turned her lips upward. “Well, this is wonderful news, Geoffrey.” She reached for a pastry and took a bite of the flaky confectionary.

Geoffrey’s gaze fell to his wife. She looked up at him and smiled.

He imagined a little girl with sparkling gray-blue eyes and dark black tresses, and grinned.

Yes. It most certainly is, wonderful.

~The End~

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