The Road to Exile – Part X

Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1809-1810 Ξ

 ~ “You still love me, Edward. Why will you not say it?” ~

I shook my head. “Be silent, Catherine. Speak no more…it was never meant to be.”

I retreated to the door, but she came closer, eager to press her point. Her eyes glowed with excitement.

“Oh, but it can be, Edward, if you do not leave England. I will be mistress of Thornfield, yes, but I am also mistress of my own heart, and I tell you truly. It has never belonged to your brother.”

It shocked and thrilled me to hear such a declaration. My brother’s bride-to-be, standing before me, confessing it was not him whom she wanted—but me.

“How can you say such things?” I whispered. “You would marry a man knowing you cared nothing for him, and never could? It is despicable.”

“Whatever do love and marriage have to do with one another, Edward? You are so naïve! My marriage to your brother will please my father, and it will please me for I shall get what I want.”

“The Thornfield estate,” I said quietly.

“I have loved it since I was a little girl! And though I shall not be the wife of a baronet, who knows what may happen? My father’s father was raised up to the rank. Enough money and the proper influence, why not your brother?”

“All our plans, our schemes were nothing but lies, every one of them?”

“No, Edward,” her voice softened again. “Not entirely. I do care for you, truly I do.”

“And yet knowing that you would marry my brother.”

“Your brother will have what I want.”

“You cannot want me very much, then.”

“Oh, but I shall have you nevertheless, shan’t I?”

“How can you say so? You will be another man’s wife.”

“I have no illusions that Rowland will be faithful to me. Why should I pretend to be faithful to him? Shall I remain at home, pining away while he’s off to London having his fun? Certainly not! Do not look so shocked, Edward. Of course I shall do my duty: one or two offspring, and I am done. But I’ll no longer share his bed, nor he mine. We shall take up with those who are more pleasing to us, that is all. It will be the usual marriage of convenience. His fortune, my name.”

I stood with my back to the library door, poised to leave as she closed the last distance between us and took my hand again, the fire of defiance in her beautiful eyes.

“Catherine, why are you doing this?”

“Why, Edward?” Softly, she pressed her lips in my hand, then placed it on her cheek. At her feverish touch, all the jealousy in my heart against Rowland rose up before me like a viper, and I despised him for everything he had, for everything he would take from me. I seized her and pulled her to me, then kissed her desperately, wanting to shout my triumph to the world.

When our lips parted, she whispered, “It is you I have loved, Edward…only you. Kiss me again.”

She tried to pull me closer, but I pushed her away.

“No!”

I turned to the door. The hatred I felt for Rowland was stronger than ever. But a woman who could play us one against the other? How could I ever have thought that I loved her?

“This can never be.”

“You do love me, Edward!” Her voice rose in desperation, yet still she had the self-command for one last attempt. She lifted her chin. “You may not have spoken the words, but your actions have said it!”

“Love does not behave in such a manner. You will excuse me, for I have a duty to our guests.”

“Don’t go, Edward, please. I do not wish it!”

“And yet I shall. You have made your choice, Catherine Fairfax. I leave you to it.”

I yanked open the door. As I strode away, I heard her hard, yet frantic voice cry out, “Edward Rochester, one day your heart, too, will be divided between that which is right—and that which you love!

~ Exile ~ End Part 10 ~

© 2016 by R.Q. Bell and Imaginality Press; All rights reserved.

Series Navigation<< <i>The Road to Exile – Part IX</i><i>The Road to Exile – Conclusion</i> >>

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