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The Beauty And The Tragedy Part Nine
Chapter Nine: March 27, 1857

The Weston family returned to England in the early morning hours on Thursday and Benjamin headed straight for the Hayward house to see Claire. Claire was coming downstairs with a half awake Christopher in her arms. She stopped and grinned when she saw him, “Benjamin. You’re back. How was Germany?”

“It was lovely,” he replied, following Claire into the kitchen so she could feed Christopher his breakfast, “I couldn’t wait to return home though. I missed seeing you very much.”

Claire looked up, giving him a strange look he had never seen before and then she replaced it with a smile and nodded in agreement, “I missed you as well Benjamin. I was hoping to visit soon. I did miss seeing Eva.”

“You could join us for lunch this afternoon if you wish,” Benjamin said, “I wish I didn’t have to do this every time I wanted to take you away from here.”

Claire was about to ask what he meant until he dropped the money into the pockets of her apron and she looked down at it, feeling like it weighed a ton inside her pocket. She regained her balance and cleared her throat, “I know. But Mr. Hayward wouldn’t like it if I left without receiving something from you.”

“It makes me feel sick to my stomach,” he mumbled. Claire sat down with Christopher and began spoon feeding him, “I’ll be there this afternoon Benjamin.”

“I’ll see you then,” he said. He didn’t move at first but something made him lean over and kiss her on her cheek. She froze with the spoon in her hand, “You should go Benjamin. I’ll see you this afternoon.”

Benjamin nodded and quickly left, heading back home to tell Emma, who would probably make a huge deal out of it like she usually did and it was almost like she would wait for Eva to enter the room to announce that Claire was coming to the house. Eva was either oblivious to that or was just hiding her anger towards her mother. It was most likely irritation because she didn’t stay in the room much longer after that. She would find an excuse to get up and leave the room. And when Benjamin came home and told Emma that Claire would be joining them for lunch, that’s exactly what she did and as usual, Eva ignored her.

Claire arrived that afternoon as she said she would in a blue floral dress with a bow in the back and a matching hat. She had the same pie Benjamin had purchased weeks ago and she smiled when she noticed Benjamin’s eyes go right towards it, “I thought I should come with a gift. I know how much you liked it anyway so I stopped by.”

The two of them walked inside together and Emma was waiting for them right by the door, “Claire, we’ve all missed seeing your lovely face. And you’ve brought us a gift! How kind!”

“You’re welcome,” Claire said, nodding as Emma took it and handed it off to one of their numerous servants. Claire had trouble keeping track when Benjamin had tried to explain it all to her, “I was hoping to visit with Eva for a minute. Where is she?”

Emma grimaced and pointed to the backdoor, “She’s supposed to be in the parlor waiting for us to join her but she’s outside in the garden instead. She’s been acting so strange lately, asking me about marrying outside our ranks and love and all that nonsense.”

Claire nodded, barely paying attention as she separated from Benjamin and went outside into the garden. She found Eva wandering around and grabbed onto her shoulder to get her attention, “Eva! How lovely to see you.”

“And you as well Claire,” Eva said with a warm smile. Claire grabbed onto her arm and casually walked past the groundskeepers, “I have something to show you Eva.”

She sat them down on a bench and pulled Eli’s note out of her dress, “My apologies. My nicer dresses don’t have pockets.”

Eva chuckled as she took the note from Claire, “It’s alright. What’s this?”

“Eli Kenward came to my home the other day and asked if I would give this to you,” Claire explained. Eva unfolded the parchment paper and read the note:

Dear Ms. Weston,

I realize we haven’t known each other long and we’ve only spoken a few times but for some reason, I cannot get you out of my mind. I don’t understand it really because of the fact we barely know one another but I still hope to see more of you. You’re not what I had expected. When I saw you, I had expected your typical rich girl but when you look at me like you’re genuinely interested in what I have to say, it surprised me and I tried to keep myself from thinking about you but it’s a difficult thing to do with someone as beautiful and as remarkable as you are. I’m asking you to come back and see me again. I know I left rather suddenly the last time we spoke but you had made me very nervous. I’d like to make it up to you. I hope to see you very soon. –Eli Kenward

Eva smiled and held the note to her chest, “I wish I could go see him now!”

“Maybe I could convince your mother to go with me when I leave here after lunch,” Claire said, “I would leave you there and then I would come back and take you back home. Your mother would never know.”

“You’re very kind Claire,” Eva said, “Benjamin is lucky to have you.”

Claire chuckled and looked down at her feet, shaking her head, “Oh Eva. You flatter me. But Benjamin isn’t the lucky one here.”

“I was hoping I could take Eva with me for a little while after lunch,” Claire said as they all sat down to eat, “I would bring her right back. I just feel like I haven’t been given much of a chance to talk to her.”

Emma looked at Robert, who had already lost interest in the subject and was just cutting into his chicken. Emma shrugged as she picked up her lunch fork, “I don’t see why not. Eva could use some girl time. She only has her brother to talk to most of the time. I don’t see a problem. Robert?”

Robert ignored her and Emma shrugged again, “Then it’s settled…I suppose.”

Claire took Eva with her into her wagon and they rode off into town, waving to Benjamin as they did, “Claire, thank you again for doing this for me. I don’t know how I’ll repay you.”

“No need,” Claire said, flicking her wrist, “You would do the same for me if seeing Benjamin wasn’t so easy.”

Claire’s wagon stopped in front of Eli’s shop and Claire held up her finger, “Wait here a moment.”

Claire walked into Eli’s shop and waited at the door. He was pounding away at some hot metal as usual and he set down his hammer to wipe the sweat off his forehead. He looked up as he wiped off his face and he lit up when he saw Claire, “Claire! What are you doing here?”

“I have come with a gift for you,” Claire said. Eli smiled as he wiped his hands off, “You do? What is it?”

“It’s a surprise,” Claire said, “You have to close your eyes.”

“Are you being serious?” Eli asked. When Claire raised an eyebrow and crossed her arms impatiently, he knew she was and he sighed loudly as he closed his eyes, “Alright, they’re closed Claire. Now what’s this big surprise?”

“I’ll go get it,” Claire backed out of the shop and started giggling when Eli started frowning when he heard the door opening, “Claire are you just going to leave me standing here like a fool?”

Claire poked her head in before closing the door, “Would I do that to you?”

“I’m thinking you would,” Eli mumbled. Claire rolled her eyes and shook her head as she went back outside towards the wagon where Eva was eagerly waiting.

“Come,” Claire grabbed onto Eva’s arm and quickly yanked her back into the shop, holding her finger to her lips to keep her quiet, “Alright Eli are you ready for your surprise?”

Eli nodded and Claire placed Eva directly in front of him and started backing out of the shop, “What I want you to do for me Eli is count to three. When you get to three, then you can open your eyes.”

“Claire what is the point of all this?” Eli asked, “Is this even going to be worth it?”

“I think it will be,” Claire said, quietly opening the door, “Now do as I say.”

Eli sighed and slowly counted as Claire shut the door behind her. He got to three and slowly opened his eyes and jumped when he saw Eva standing right in front of him, “My god Eva! You startled me!”

Eva chuckled and put her hands over her mouth to smother the laughter, “I’m sorry Eli. I didn’t mean to frighten you!”

Eli kept himself calm and tried not to get too excited about this but he couldn’t hide the big grin on his face, “So Claire gave you the note?”

Eva nodded, “And I’m just really, really happy that you feel the same way I do. Now I don’t feel so foolish.”

“I just wish I didn’t have to be so secretive about us,” Eli mumbled, hesitantly grabbing onto Eva’s hands, “It’d be nice to be able to show you off the way that I want to.”

Yayyyyy! So, the note I kind of pulled out of my a**. I'm not good at this LOL! But while I type this, my friend over here is...well...was...was distracting me but now is...either writing or looking on Tumblr and being good about hiding it wink hahahahah! Creeper status. Anyways...that's actually all I had to say today. Until next time

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