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The Beauty And The Tragedy Part Five
Chapter Five: March 9, 1857

Benjamin felt like Claire had just slapped him across the face with her comment. He just gave her a dumbfounded stare and she rested her hands on his shoulders, “You will never have to worry about being able to support yourself and a family. You live here with your father and your step-mother and your sister. My father is dead and my brother left years ago.”

Though Benjamin wanted to be angry with Claire for saying all of this, she had a little bit of a point. Benjamin never really would have to worry about supporting himself or a family if he had one. If Claire stopped working for Joseph Hayward, she would have nowhere else to go. He couldn’t get angry at her for speaking the truth.

“I suppose you’re right,” he said, lowering his voice. He shook his head and removed her hands from his shoulders, “Let us just forget about this and try to enjoy the rest of this day.”

Claire and Benjamin came back inside together and Emma rushed over to them as if she was waiting for them, “Claire we would love it very much if you stayed and joined us for dinner.”

“I would love to Mrs. Weston,” Claire said, “Unfortunately I am unable to stay. I must be getting home.”

Emma’s smile fell a bit but she nodded, “Well I do hope you’ll visit us again soon Claire. This afternoon was simply lovely.”

Claire smiled warmly, “It was Mrs. Weston. I’m very happy that Benjamin graced me with an invitation this morning and I hope he does so again soon.”

Benjamin yanked Claire away before Emma could answer her, knowing the good-byes would never end unless they left right now. Claire’s wagon was already waiting for her and the footman was standing next to it with the door open. They walked down the front steps together and stopped at the bottom of the stairs. Benjamin took her hands, “I’m glad you enjoyed this afternoon and I’m sorry that Emma brought up such a sensitive subject.”

The sparkle in Claire’s eyes had disappeared a little and her exhaustion showed but she still offered him a smile, “There is no need to apologize Benjamin. Despite that discussion about children, I had a wonderful evening.”

“So coming back here wouldn’t be completely out of the question?” Benjamin asked.

“It wouldn’t,” Claire replied, “I would be disappointed if you didn’t.”

Claire placed her hands on Benjamin’s shoulders and kissed his cheek. Then Benjamin watched as she turned and walked towards the wagon, grabbing the footman’s hand and stepping inside. The footman then closed the door and the wagon took off down the hill back into town. Even after Claire was long gone, Benjamin still stayed where he was, as if he could see her walking back into that brothel. As he finally forced himself to walk back into the house, he wondered how long she’d be able to enjoy peace and quiet.

“I would love to know what makes that town so interesting,” Benjamin said, following Eva down the stairs to join Emma and Robert for breakfast.

“It’s not just one thing I find fascinating,” Eva replied, “There are many things I enjoy about that little town. I wish your father lived in that town so it would be easy to visit.”

“It would never happen,” Benjamin and Eva entered the dining room and sat across from each other at the table and looked at all of the food in front of them before deciding what they wanted.

“Eva, Emma told me last night that you’re going into town this morning,” Robert said, sipping his coffee, “Why?”

“Well I didn’t have a chance to do any shopping yesterday,” Eva said, placing her napkin onto her lap before taking a small bite out of her muffin, “I wanted to have a shopping day.”

Robert nodded, never once looking at anything else but his breakfast. Benjamin glanced at Emma out of the corner of his eye while he cut into his salmon with his fork. He knew if that was his mother sitting at the end of the table across from his father, he would be more interested in, well, anything.

After breakfast was over, Benjamin walked outside with Eva while she adjusted her fur trimmed coat. Benjamin helped Eva into the carriage with a chuckle, “Enjoy your time in town today Eva. I may join you a bit later if I have a chance to see Claire.”

“I would enjoy seeing Claire again,” Eva said as the footman shut the door, “It would be nice to talk to her without my mother interrupting me with the constant mention of the sons she could give you.”

Benjamin chuckled and stepped away from the carriage uncomfortably, “Yes well, you enjoy your day Eva.”

The carriage started down the hill, towards town. It was a slower ride than usual and she didn’t have anyone sitting with her to talk to but she was ok with it. The carriage stopped in the town’s entrance and waited there while she walked in by herself. She walked right past the dress shop. She would go back later just so Emma wouldn’t think she was lying. She kept walking until she reached the blacksmith’s shop. She didn’t want him thinking she had shown up here on purpose. So she casually started walking past him.

“I know you’re there Ms. Weston,” Eli said. Eva stopped and put her hands on her hips, “How did you know I was walking by? You’re not even looking in my direction!”

“I smelled your perfume and took a guess,” Eli replied, looking up at her with a satisfied smirk. Eva walked towards him with her arms folded across her chest which made Eli start laughing, “Oh, were you trying to be clever? My apologies Ms. Weston. I will try to remember to humor you next time.”

“You’re not as funny as you think you are,” Eva grumbled. Eli’s laughter came to a stop and he wiped a tear from his eye, “So what brings you back to my shop?”

“Well, I found you to be a very interesting person to talk to,” Eva said, “No one speaks to me the way you do. I like it.”

“Well Eva, I would think they don’t speak to you the way that I do because they don’t get much of a chance to speak at all,” Eli said, “You’re not very social, which I find very surprising considering it’s been expected of you for your entire life.”

“It’s expected of me. However, it doesn’t mean I listen,” Eva said, “If I had my way, I would find a home here in town and have my own library where I could just read all day.”

“If I had my way, I wouldn’t have to go home to an empty house every night,” Eli said, “It’s nice to have a dream isn’t it?”

His comment caught Eva off guard and she had no answer for him. There was a quick flash of sadness in his eyes but it was gone before Eva could really see it. Eli’s smirk returned and he pointed at her, “You, Ms. Weston are keeping me from finishing my work!”

“Shall I return later when you’re not so busy?” Eva asked.

“I would like that very much.”

I've decided to have a specific date for every chapter just so I can keep better track of what's going on smile whether you like it or not is not my problem wink rofl haha anyways! I kind of love Eli. I'm just gonna steal him because he's awesome haha! jkjk hahahaha emotion_drool emotion_dealwithit anywayyyyyys. I updated earlier than usual. I'm pretty happy with that haha.

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