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The Beauty And The Tragedy Part Twelve
Chapter Twelve: March 30, 1857

Eva slowly walked towards Eli, glancing at Benjamin over her shoulder to see if he would try to stop her. He just folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the door to one of the stalls, watching for anyone who might come in. Eva brushed her hands against Eli’s strong shoulders. She bent over, her chin hovering over his shoulder, “Thank you for changing the horseshoes. You know this is my horse?”

Benjamin groaned and rolled his eyes and left the stall, but still staying close enough to see if anyone was coming. Eva would get into the worst kind of trouble if anyone walked into those stables. The stable boy was there to see but he was young and oblivious. He wouldn’t tell anyone. Benjamin stayed outside for what felt like hours. He would’ve gone back into the stables but he had a better view of the area from outside. Eventually, Eli and Eva exited the stables together, laughing together while Eli patted the sweat off his forehead with a rag.

“Well, that’s finished,” he said, tucking his rag back into his pocket. Robert came outside to meet them and Emma was following and her face crumpled when she saw Eli like he was a bug but she quickly smiled as if no one noticed.

“That was very kind of you,” she said.

“It was no problem,” Eli replied, bowing his head a bit, “If you need anything fixed, I could do it for no charge.”

“But you’re just a blacksmith,” Emma said. Eva tried to hide her embarrassment but Eli didn’t get angry. He didn’t even have to think about his response, “Well I live alone you see and I can’t afford servants to fix my things for me. I think you’ll find that I’m very good with my hands.”

Emma didn’t seem fazed by Eli’s comment but Eva had to cover her lips to suppress and giggle, “Well, I suppose if we ever need you we know where to find you.”

“Of course,” Eli started walking, assuming he wouldn’t be taken back to town on a carriage again. Based on the way Emma had looked at him, he figured it would be better to just walk back and not even mention it. Benjamin headed for the house, not even thinking about it until he felt Eva come up behind him and pinch his arm really hard. He winced and rubbed his arm, “Mr. Kenward! You don’t need to walk home on your own.”

“He’s fine,” Emma whispered and she went back into the house, “He can walk.”

“It would be rude!” Benjamin snapped, “Town is far from here. It’ll be dark by the time he gets home.”

Emma rolled her eyes and disappeared into the house with Robert not far behind. Eva didn’t move though. She just stared at Benjamin until he finally sighed loudly, “Would you like to come along Eva?”

“Yes I would!” Eva grinned as the carriage pulled up next to them. Benjamin beckoned Eli to them and he stepped aside so Eva and Eli could get in first. He sat across from them, “Luckily for the two of you, I have something I need to do while I’m in town. So you two can have some time.”

“To see Claire?” Eli said, “Because she was asking about you earlier today.”

“Yes. I’d like to see Claire for a bit,” Benjamin replied.

“I’d love to see Claire!” Eva exclaimed, “Bring her by so we can see her too.”

“I’ll try,” Benjamin said. The carriage stopped in front of Eli’s shop and the three of them stepped out.

“Why don’t you take the carriage?” Eva asked. Benjamin looked around nervously and shook his head as he put his hands in his pockets, “I don’t mind walking. I think Claire would enjoy the walk too.”

Eva shrugged and walked with Eli into his shop. Benjamin didn’t mean to stay away from Claire for as long as he did. He never thought she would be asking about him. He brought money with him in case Joseph said anything about it. It always felt heavy in his pockets but it was the only way he could ever have a moment of Claire’s time. He walked into Joseph Hayward’s home and was greeted by the same girls that greeted him every time he came in. He went upstairs and headed for Claire’s bedroom. The door was wide open and she was sitting in her chair sewing. Without stepping into her bedroom, he knocked on her door and her head jerked up, like she was expecting someone else.

“The blacksmith, Eli I think his name is, said you asked about me today,” Benjamin said. Claire tilted her head in confusion and Benjamin continued, “He came to the house today to put the new horseshoes on the horses and I decided to see you while I brought him back to town. He shows an interest in my sister and he’s found the perfect excuse to see her.”

“And that excuse is?”

“He’s offering to fix anything that might break,” Benjamin looked out Claire’s bedroom window and laughed, “I feel like Eva’s things are going to start breaking very soon.”

Claire started laughing with him as she looked back down and started sewing, “It’s very smart. They’ll be able to see each other without giving anyone a reason to be suspicious. It’s funny though. This afternoon he was telling me that both of us should just forget about you and Eva. He must’ve changed his mind.”

“So, you were just going to forget about me?” he said.

Claire shrugged, not looking up at him, “I don’t know. I was going to try. But you were the first man to show me genuine affection without wanting something from me. But you and I both know that we could never be. Emma might be a bit disappointed if I was just another middle class girl, but she would disown you if she knew about the things I do.”

“Emma never has to know,” Benjamin took a step into Claire’s bedroom and shut the door, which made Claire nervous, “I’m only closing the door so no one will come in. They’ll think-”

“I know what they’ll think Benjamin,” Claire groaned and set down what she was sewing, “I’ve already been made unclean. I couldn’t drag you down with me. You’re paying me just to talk like we are now. You can’t save me.”

Benjamin sat down at the foot of her bed next to her chair, “I can’t try to understand what you’ve been through, but you don’t have to keep your guard down anymore. Emma never has to know about what you do for work. We’ll tell her you work for Eli if she’s really that curious but we can keep this from Emma. I promise. You’re not dragging me down. I know what I’m doing. I just didn’t realize how much your absence would hurt.”

Benjamin stood up and held out his hands. Claire took them and he helped her onto her feet. He never let go of her hands because he was afraid touching her anywhere else would make her panic. At first, her hands as well as the rest of her body were tense but the longer they stood there, the more relaxed she became. Claire laughed and let go of his hands, resting hers on his shoulders and she leaned in to kiss his cheek, “I wasn’t doing too well without you either to be honest.”

The door opened and Benjamin pulled away and Joseph Hayward stepped into the room, smirking when he saw the two of them, “Mr. Weston, I haven’t seen you in a few days. I knew you couldn’t stay away from Claire for too long.”

Benjamin fumbled for the money in his pocket that he had forgotten to give to Claire and he tossed it onto her bed, “This is why I always take Claire away from here. I get no privacy here.”

Joseph started laughing as he rolled his eyes and left the room. Benjamin grabbed Claire’s hand and kissed it, “I’ll come for you tomorrow Claire. I promise.”

“You know, I feel horrible that you lost money today,” Eva said. Eli was finishing up with the last of his work for the day and he shook his head, “Don’t. I just wanted an excuse to see you. I can afford to not be here for a few hours.”

“Are you sure?”

“If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t have done it.”

“Well I’m glad you did it,” Eva said, “If we’re lucky, my door hinge may suddenly be broken soon. In the next week or so.”

Eli chuckled and gave her a nod, “I’ll be there.”

“Maybe if my mother knows you for long enough, she’ll like you,” Eva said, “Perhaps she’ll like you enough to allow you to work for us!”

“But I like being a blacksmith,” Eli said, looking at his work station, “My shop isn’t much but it’s mine.”

“You could be the first footman,” Eva looked up and down at Eli and smiled, “A first footman’s main job is to be tall and handsome. You’re more than qualified. And you would accompany me when I come into town. We would be able to see each other every day.”

“My interest in you would still be wrong whether or not I saw you every day,” Eli reached out to grab Eva’s hands but hesitated for a minute before he grabbed them and held them up to kiss them, “We’ll figure it all out Eva. I promise.”

Eli pulled Eva closer so their bodies were pressed together. Her cheeks burned, unable to look him in the eyes. Eli grabbed Eva’s chin and pulled her head up, “I shouldn’t.”

Before Eva could ask him what he was talking about, he brought his lips down on hers. This was Eva’s first kiss and she wasn’t even sure if she was doing this right. If she wasn’t, Eli wasn’t complaining. They heard the door open and they quickly pulled away. Luckily, it was just Benjamin walking in. Eva knew that he had seen the two of them together but he didn’t say anything. He just stood there, shaking his pocket watch in his pocket, something he always did when he felt awkward. Eva cleared her throat and walked out of the shop. Eli opened his mouth to speak but Benjamin held up his hand to stop him, “Don’t say anything. I’m not angry and I’m not going to tell anyone. I’ve just never seen my sister do that before.”

“I know I shouldn’t I-”

“I told you not to say anything,” Benjamin held up his hand again to interrupt him, “I understand it. I really do. But I don’t want to hear about it. I’ll see you soon.”

Benjamin walked out and joined Eva in the carriage, “I hope you know I’m not angry.”

“Your feelings do not concern me,” Eva replied.

Benjamin rolled his eyes, “Eva, just stay with me. Please. I was just going to say that maybe you shouldn’t do things like that in such a public area. I’m just telling you to be careful.”

“I always am,” Eva said. She looked out the window and found herself grinning like a fool. Though Benjamin did have a point about how they should be more careful. But she relived the moment in her head and she was also glad that Eli had taken her first kiss. Even the fact that she had to return home couldn’t destroy her good mood. She was just too happy to care about anything her mother would have to say.

Disturbed One17
Community Member
Disturbed One17
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