The dinner was amazing. The candles, soft music, the flowers and the dim light – everything gave the scene a dazzling appearance. Yet, there was something niggling at the back of Kate’s mind.
Ian saw the emotions playing across Kate’s face. He wanted to bring about her lively appearance by taking her to dinner but the idea hadn’t quite worked.
Later that night as he dropped Kate at her house, she said, “Thank you for the dinner.”
“The pleasure is mine.” His voice was cold and distant.
Sitting with a glass of brandy, Ian pondered what was bothering Kate. He wanted to help her but he certainly couldn’t if she didn’t cooperate.
“Why do I even bother? If she wants to live in her sad little bubble and refuses to come out of it, what can I do?”
But even then he felt something for her. Something that had been there when he had first set his eyes on her and which had flickered again by there sudden meeting.
Twirling a strand of stray hair Kate thought of the dinner.
“Oh! What have I done! He treated me with such cordial manner and I didn’t even speak to him properly, let alone acknowledge his gesture.”
She knew he only meant to be friendly, yet she couldn’t bring herself to be comfortable around him. As if she was afraid some secret would spill out. Pushing these thoughts aside Kate decided to what any responsible women would do, she called Ian and invited him to the party she was throwing for a new deal she cracked.
At the day of the party though, she was having second thoughts about her decision. But it was too late to turn back.
Ian’s eyes searched for Kate the moment he arrived. Standing amidst a group of men, he didn’t pay heed to their mindless business chatter. Something caught his eye then, a shimmer of black dress, as she came into view, talking to an important industrialist.
The music began and couples began to make their way across the dance floor, swiftly moving to the tunes of the song. Ian walked toward Kate and with an adorable smile
said, “Would you grace me with a dance?”
Mrs. Thornton gave a girlish giggle and motioned Kate to join him. Left with no option, she placed her hand in his and let him guide them to the dance floor.
“My beating heart is getting tired, tonight it feels like it’s on fire… … … you’re my only hope…”
The song drifted throughout the room as Kate looked into Ian’s eyes, getting lost in their dark depths. She felt his hand on her waist, her nerves jangling with alarm.
“Are you alright?”
“Katherine, please tell me what’s bothering you?”
Her father used to address her with that name. She couldn’t say anything. A dead weight seemed to have settled at the pit of her stomach. Somehow she managed to say, “Excuse me” and walked away, leaving Ian hurt.
“Listen to me…” his voice trailed after her.
She walked into the library, the only place that was not crowded. The moment she was alone, tears welled up in her eyes.
“Katherine, I have always loved you dearly my child…”
Her father’s face flashed in front of her eyes.
When her father died, she was so traumatized that even the tears had refused to be with her. All her dear ones had tried to make her cry so that they could relieve her from this internal torture but to no avail. Now, the dam had been broken.
She felt a pair of strong hands turning her around. She knew it was Ian.
“Wh-at, what happened! Did I do something wrong?”
“I miss my father, how could he leave me like that! Why!” Kate cried into Ian’s arms, no longer able to control the outburst of emotions.
Ian said nothing, knowing she needed this, needed his support.
As her sobbing gradually subsided, Ian began stroking her hair and said, “Don’t worry, I’m there for you Kate. I love you.”
She broke away from his embrace, the shadow of those ghostly tears lingering on her eyes.
“No, you don’t. Nobody does. I can’t do this again. I can’t care for someone again and bear to lose them. I don’t know what love is anymore.”
She tried to salvage as much of her appearance she could and turned to leave. The thought of leaving Ian hurt her even more than she imagined.
“Please don’t do this. Give us a chance. Give a chance to yourself, to your happiness. Look at me.”
She did look, and as he pressed a kiss on her forehead, she lost the battle in her mind.
“But I don’t know how,” she said softly.
“Trust me. Although I think we should return to the party now. People might jump to conclusions about us, love.” He added with a wink.
Her heart skipped a beat. Katherine smiled and this time it was real. Not just a façade to show the world. The storm had passed and the sun had finally seeped from behind the clouds. She couldn’t find words to say how she felt so she lifted her face and kissed him.
That was enough. Ian knew it would take time for her to accept things the way they are, for her to trust him. But he knew it would happen.
This was love.