Late that same night, my parents had come into my room as I was settling in for the night. I knew it was coming, but what they did not know, was that I was waiting for it.
As if I were a small child, they both sat on the edge of my canopy bed. I sat there, hands clasped in my lap on top of the silk blankets; prepared to turn on the persuasive charm.
“Now Susannah, you know your mother and I do not punish you often,” my father began. “But now is a must. What you did tonight was unacceptable.”
I brushed a strand of hair out of one blue eye saying, “ I do not think I did anything wrong by dancing with a man who wanted to dance with me.”
“But you are betrothed to another man,” Mother exclaimed. “A man that has not disappeared from being afraid of commitment.”
Afraid of commitment? That is a bunch of bull. More like scared out of their minds by yours truly. Gosh, my parents are dense. I wanted to yell it at the top of my lungs and laugh in their faces. So I am bitter who cares?
“It was just one little dance, it is not like we were going to…well, you know,” I said a bit defensively.
Careful, Susannah, I told myself. Do not slip up, and do not say anything to encourage your punishment even more so.
My father, who was trying to get over my last remark, said, “Either way, you are forbidden to dance or spend time with anyone other males besides William and our relatives.”
Like this punishment had any effect on me. So I could not dance or whatever with other male besides William. So what? Like I care anyway. Good job Susannah!
“Fine.” I replied, “It is not like I am ever going to see him again anyway.”
The events of that night came rushing back when I saw Jessie Lafayette two weeks later, a month before the wedding that could not take place.
The Leroux family and the Castallono family had got together for a picnic by the lake. I had been sitting under a tree; shaded by a pink umbrella that matched my dress. Not too far way sat William. Unfortunately.
I sat there watching gorgeous sailors out on the blue water, when out of the blue; there he was on one of the sailboats. Jessie Lafayette was only a few yards away on one of the sailboats. I could not believe it.
“He looks even better in the day light,” I mumbled.
“Susannah, did you something?” William asked from beside me.
“No, I did not.”
That was when he saw me. We stared at each other not believing that the other person was there.
Jessie waved slightly in my direction, and began steering the sailboat in our direction. His dark hair gleamed in the sunlight, and his eyes twinkled with excitement. I wanted to dance with him once again, and hear his sexy voice.
“Hello, Miss Susannah. Fancy meeting you here,” Jessie said, stepping onto the dock.
“I did not expect to see you here, Mister Lafayette.”
Out of the corner of my left eye, I could see that my parents were becoming very angry, and at the same time see William grinding his teeth. I ignored my parents and was filled with pleasure at my fiancé’s apprehension. Just seeing Jessie filled me with enough satisfaction to last a lifetime.
Jessie took one of my hands and brought it to his lips. A shiver of delight ran through my body.
My father had become tense, while William’s face grew red with fury.
“How have you been?” The man with the midnight- black hair asked, still holding my hand in his.
“Fine. And yourself?”
“Well, meeting you here made my day.”
I smiled, and lowered my umbrella to the ground. Sunlight fell over me. The brightness made my hair look like strands of gold.
“Have you gotten stuck in the mud lately?” I bantered.
“No, not since we danced the other night,” Jessie informed me. His eyes held mine.
“Well, we must be getting on our way now,” Father exclaimed, walking towards us. “Come on, Susannah.”
I allowed my parents to pull me away. Not taking my eyes off of him, I climbed into the carriage. Not removing his eyes from myself, he called out, “Good day, Miss Susannah.”
“Farewell, Mister Lafayette.”
* * *
“Father, would it be alright if I step outside for some air?” I asked over the dancing music that flooded the Leroux Manor.
“Go ahead…and tell James to go to bed for the night,” he answered.
My parents were hosting a party; on account of William’s wedding and mine that was going to take place in three days. The time had gone by so quickly.
I instructed for my sixteen year old brother to settle in for he night, and then, made my way through the dancing couples. After what seemed like forever, I finally made my way outside. The real reason for my leaving the party was to do away with money hungry William Castallono. My time was running thin…and everything I tried had failed. This was the best time if any to come up with an escape.
“Well, hello again,” a voice said from behind me.
I whirled around, and found the man with the midnight-black hair, and serious green eyes. “What are you doing here?” I asked of him.
“I came to talk with you.”
“I can help you do away with William,” Jessie exclaimed. “If you are willing to trust me.”
This caught my attention. I was absolutely desperate to cause an end to my engagement. “I am listening.”
“Come closer,” he said. “So no one will hear.”
I obediently took a step forward. Bad idea.
Just then, the front door swung open, and out stepped my fiancé. Before he could say a single word, Jessie took me in his arms, and placed a kiss on my lips. This kiss was deprived. It was then that the thought occurred to me. Mister Lafayette wanted me for who I was, and not my money…he did not know of the money that the Leroux family had. He was just the kind of man I had been looking for, for the past year.
That is when it began… the end of my reputation.
The next thing I knew, William and this man were sword fighting over…well, me. My fiancé was fighting with righteous anger, while the other man looked simply amused by his efforts. “Is that all you have got?” he asked, making my thoughts true.
“No, I am just warming up.”
I stood there flabbergasted at the sight before me. The two men stood clanging their swords. William sure did want that money, and Jessie was simply having a good time. It was as if he were giving me a little entertainment.
Abruptly, the doors opened, and guests of the party flooded out; most of them excited. The other half, including my fiancé’s parents and my own, were completely stunned as to what was taking place on their property.
What happened next is what you would call taking advantage of the moment, for the man with the serious green eyes wrapped his fingers around one of my wrists and pulled me against him. With the other hand, he put away his sword, pulled out a dagger, and held it against my throat in one swift movement.
The guests were all startled, and myself…well, my heart skipped a beat. No one moved, or breathed.
“William, end the engagement or I will slit her throat,” Jessie threatened, placing the hand that held my wrist around my waist. Now, both my arms were stuck at my sides; I could not move.
Instead of saying anything to get me out of danger, William looked from me to my father, then, back to me again. It was my father who broke the silence by saying, “Sir, please release my daughter…I promise that no harm will come to you.”
“End the engagement of William and Susannah…Now!”
“Daddy, please just do it,” I whispered in pretend fear. For I knew that this was just an act in order to help me. “He is serious.”
“Come on,” Jessie sneered. “We have not all night.”
“Alright…the engagement is over,” my father said. “Now, please release my daughter.”
“Only on one condition.”
What? I thought. What in the world is he up to? I did not have time to decide for the man holding me in a deadly clutch said, “She becomes my betroth.”
There was a deadly silence that followed that statement. No one knew what to say…I did not know what to think. I just kind of stood there feeling the coldness of the dagger that lay against my throat, and the heat from Jessie’s arm. I could see my breath in the air, for the night air was crisp from the cold.
After what seemed like hours, Father muttered, “Alright, but only if you release Susannah.” Paused. “I am sorry Susannah, but you have to be married in the next three days…and he will kill you if I do not let him marry you.”
The man holding me tightly against him slowly lowered the dagger. But when I went to move away from his side, he grabbed me around the waist with one arm. “I think you are forgetting something, Miss Leroux.” Paused. “I believe that you owe me a thank you.”
My heart skipped another heartbeat. “What?” I asked with fake perplexity.
“Would you like to tell them or should I?”
“I do not know what you are talking about?” I could not believe that he could be this cruel. But then, I was asking myself the same thing. Then, I whispered softly enough for only Jessie to hear, “Please do not do this…us getting together was not part of the plan.”
Ignoring me, he continued saying, “I at least think that William deserves to know.”
“What do I need to know?” my old betroth asked.
“Simply that Miss Leroux is carrying my child.”
What did he just say? Did I hear him correctly or did he just say that I was carrying his child? “No, I am not!” Paused. “What you need to know is that this was all planned so that I would not have to marry you, and that I scared off all the other betroths I had.”
“Well.” Jessie exclaimed, “I see that my work here is done…Susannah, I will see you in three days.”
With that said, he released me and walked away; taking what reputation I had away with him.