The Scholar (Emerson Pass Historicals 3) - Page 73

“It must be terrible to be the problem child,” I said, thinking out loud. “Knowing what everyone thinks might make her feel more rebellious.”

Shannon nodded in agreement. “Particularly a girl like Cymbeline.”

“One thing you can say about the Barnes siblings. No two are alike,” Phillip said.

“Even our favorite twins,” Shannon said with a laugh. “Or should I say, especially our favorite twins.”

All through the evening, I’d been struck by how different they were. Flynn was brash and loud, Theo reserved and thoughtful. How I’d ever been attracted to the wrong twin for me, I couldn’t say. I knew now with certainty that Theo was suited for me and I for him.


The next evening before dinner, Theo and I strolled the gardens. We came upon the rose garden and lingered. The scent of the roses was almost dizzying. “They didn’t smell this way in the morning,” I said, thinking out loud.

“It’s the sun on their petals,” Theo said. “Brings out their scent.”

Flowerpots filled with daisies, lilies, and peonies lined one end of the rose garden, strategically placed to give them as much sunlight as possible. I knew from staying here that Cymbeline cut flowers from the pots and the meadow for the house. Quinn arranged them in vases for the dining table and sitting room. I’d seen her doing so this morning on the sunporch as I’d walked by. I’d been struck by the beauty of the woman and the flowers. Fiona’s piano music had come through the open windows, spilling out into the quiet morning. A deep sense of sadness had filled me. I couldn’t explain why, other than feeling as if I would always be an outsider. One who observed but didn’t fully participate.

Now, bees were still doing their work, buzzing from flower to flower. A hummingbird flew by, hovering in the air to get a good look at us before dancing away as quickly as he’d arrived.

Theo let go of my hand and reached into the inner pocket of his jacket to pull out a pocketknife. “Which do you like the best?”

“Of the roses?”

“Yes. Or any of the flowers from the pots.”

I took a good look around. The roses were in varying shades: light pink, deep red, soft yellow. I was drawn to the pink, as the color reminded me of a baby’s cheek. “There,” I said, pointing to one of the pink buds.

He stepped closer, peering at each of the blooms. “This one?” He cradled a bud still tightly closed. “That way you can watch it open over the next few days.”

“Yes, please.”

He knelt and clipped the stem with his knife in one quick movement. After that, he deftly removed each of its thorns. When he’d rid it of its pointed weaponry, he turned back to me, bowing slightly. “A pretty rose for a pretty woman.”

“Thank you, Theo.” I took it from him and brought it to my nose, inhaling the sweet scent. The green part of the bud wrapped around the petals. Would I be like the rose, slowly opening to Theo and his family?

“You were quiet last night on the drive home,” Theo said. “Was something on your mind?”

“Not really.” I caressed the silky petals of the bud with my thumb. “I wondered if your sister and brother disapproved of me. Of our marriage.”

He hesitated a second too long, which told me my suspicions were correct.

“Do they think I’m trash?”

“No, not at all. They’re worried I’m being rash. Which is funny because I’m the least impulsive of our entire family.”

“Did their doubts give you any?” I asked.

“Not a one.”

Gratitude rose in me as I turned to him. “Let’s get married this summer. I don’t want to wait.”

“This summer? So soon?” His eyes sparkled as the idea played around in his mind. I’d learned from my time with him that he needed a moment to think through a question or suggestion.

“I don’t want to wait any longer to start my life with you.” I wanted to be a Barnes. I wanted to be Mrs. Barnes.

“I’ll want to ask your mother for her blessing,” Theo said. “Do you think I could talk to her before supper?”

“Yes, I’ll tell her you’re coming by and make myself scarce for a bit.”

Tags: Tess Thompson Emerson Pass Historicals Historical
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