The next month passed by quickly and busily for the two of them. Rhett tried to keep Scarlett busy yet calm by giving in to her wish to oversee the painting, wallpapering, furnishing, and arrangement of said furnishings at their home. The entire downstairs and their bedroom had been tended to first, so that by the time they'd been back in Atlanta three weeks and married a little over six weeks they were able to finally move out of their suite at the hotel and into their house. Besides Prissy and Manigo as servants they came by another for the kitchen. Scarlett made plans for Mammy to join them from Tara as well. The servants quarters behind the house was surprisingly in better condition than the main house had been. The rooms just needed to be adequately furnished for everyone.
Rhett and Scarlett spent hours going over his papers and it grew rather apparent which ship it was that was having the problems. Once it was narrowed down to the one ship, the paperwork seemed less intimidating. Scarlett took notes and kept a ledger as Rhett dictated items, prices, and dates not knowing what all the information meant exactly, but she knew that Rhett was not happy with what he was discovering.
Scarlett had been surprised by the sudden change in Rhett when it was confirmed she was indeed carrying a child. He had gone from publicly acting as though he didn't care about her to an overly protective husband. He had Manigo accompany her wherever she went; sometimes she found his presence unnerving. This wasn't Big Sam or Pork who she had known all of her life, and he had at first been resistant to her charms. But after about a week of being together so often, he quickly softened up and allowed her to engage him in conversation.
Scarlett had decided to use some of the land that Charles had left her to build houses; she had approached Rhett with the idea cautiously. It was his money she was asking him to spend she realized, but she thought it made good business sense to build some smaller houses that families who would be moving to Atlanta once their plantations had gone to ruins could live in. She was surprised at how easily he had agreed to the idea, and that he was not only in favor of it but that he gave her free reign to control the project as she saw fit. It pleased her to no end that he had so much confidence in her ability, and she knew that was what it was. If he didn't trust her, he wouldn't have done it.
Since the day at her house when Rhett had walked in on them, Ashley had avoided Scarlett. He saw her, of course, but he always made it a point for Melanie, Rhett, or someone else to be present. It wasn't necessarily his behavior that had brought him displeasure; it was what he was about to do had Rhett not walked in at that moment. It had been quite some time since that day in the orchard at Tara when he and Scarlett had kissed, and he had wanted to experience the inviting warmth of her lips again.
Sadly, Ashley had to bear the weight of his thoughts alone, having no one he could possibly talk to. How does one explain that they're torn between his soul mate, which he had in Melanie and a woman who made him feel alive like he never felt otherwise? He pushed aside his attraction to Scarlett, convincing himself it was desire and the longing for companionship in that way that had planted the thoughts in his mind. Had he known that a child with Melanie meant a lifetime of torment afterward he would have been much more careful about getting her pregnant. Though it went unspoken, he knew that Scarlett was carrying a child, and that was another reason he stayed away. He couldn't bear to look at her, desire her, knowing she was carrying another man's child - her husband's child. There were days when he saw her in town with Rhett's butler that he thought for sure that he was going to hell for thinking such thoughts about another man's wife.
So it was with both curiosity and extreme difficulty that Ashley accepted Scarlett's call one afternoon when Melanie was out with Aunt Pitty. He was surprised when Scarlett sat down and started talking to him about business. He couldn't hide the shock on his face, and he saw the hurt register in her eyes and instantly regretted the reaction. So he sat and listened to her ideas about bringing Ashley's lumber mill more business when the building of her houses began. He listened to her ideas, looked at some of the house plans she had brought with her, and understood that she had the financial backing to order lumber from whoever she wanted to from Rhett.
He agreed that his mill would supply her all of her lumber, and watched as she left holding a new respect for the woman. Was there no end to what she could accomplish? The fact that she had a better head for business than he did was a sore spot, but he dismissed his jealousy and was pleased to know that he would be able to feed his family well until these homes were built. Possibly he, Melanie, and Beau could finally have a home of their own. It didn't dawn on him until much later that Scarlett hadn't once looked at him like anything other than a prospective business partner. This realization didn't sit well with him at all, though he knew he should have been thrilled.
Rhett and Scarlett were sitting at the dinner table; the house was disconcertingly quiet and Scarlett couldn't help but wonder why. Melissa had served them their dinner and taken her leave, Scarlett hadn't seen Prissy for hours and while she knew Manigo was around he wasn't visible. Manigo had become a welcome fixture in her life lately; she quickly learned why Rhett was so fond of the man. Oddly, Scarlett realized that's exactly how she saw Manigo, a man not a servant. Dealing with Manigo was the first time in her life she'd ever dealt with a servant that didn't belong to her. Even Uncle Peter by her marriage to Charles was hers in a round about way.
"I understand you visited Mr. Wilkes this afternoon."
Was that an accusation, a question, or a statement? Scarlett honestly couldn't tell.
"Yes, I did. I want him to supply the lumber for our houses. I know it will be slow going, but I don't trust anyone else, Rhett. And he could use the business." She shrugged slightly. "Isn't the point of building these houses to help people?"
"I don't recall agreeing to spend my money lining the pockets of the man you're infatuated with, Scarlett. Had I known this was your intent, I would never have allowed this."
Scarlett stared at him in disbelief. "You can't be serious, Rhett."
"I'm quite serious, Scarlett."
"Well, I can't very well take it back, Rhett. He offers the finest lumber in Atlanta everyone knows that. He just isn't too quick about things. Why do you hate him so?"
"I don't hate the man at all, but why should I pay the man to spend more time with you. You're suggesting I'm wise in paying the man to give into his temptation? I shudder to think what I would have come home to that afternoon had my carriage thrown a wheel and I would have been delayed a few minutes."
Scarlett was quiet, Rhett was right of course. She had felt that Ashley was going to kiss her that day. She hadn't been so excited in a long time, but then Rhett had ruined it by coming home. She glared at the man sitting across from her, throwing her napkin on the table. "You shouldn't speak of things you don't understand, Mr. Butler." She stood and walked out of the room to Rhett's cutting words. "I understand quite a bit more than you give me credit for, Mrs. Butler."
Scarlett went outside to collect her thoughts; she had to get away from Rhett and out of the house. She hadn't taken her wrap with her and as she walked in the sparse garden she hadn't realized how chilly it had gotten. It was spring and the days could be quite warm, but the nights could get equally cold. She wasn't going back into the house now, though. If it was the last thing she did she was not going to give Rhett the satisfaction of going back into the house until she was ready. She thought he would have followed her, and she felt a twinge of disappointment when more than enough time elapsed to indicate he was not going to seek her out.
She sat on a wrought iron bench on the red brick patio in the middle of the gardens; a bench she imagined at one time offered a glorious view. She imagined the former occupants of their house holding informal gatherings out here. How she longed to have a party. Rhett had promised her one. Scarlett still hadn't been able to get out of Rhett who had owned the house, only heightening her suspicions that she was living in a Yankee house.
She had no idea how much time had elapsed when she realized that not only was her stomach upsetting her horribly but that she was sweating as well. Odd, she thought, I'm not warm at all. She stood to go indoors realizing she had probably been outside for far too long, but found that she couldn't. Her hands reached for her skirts to pull them up so that she could secure her footing to no avail. Instead, she felt lightheaded almost as if she was going to faint. She sat back on the bench, thinking it was just a bout with sickness from pregnancy.
Morning sickness was not an accurate term she had quickly come to learn. She was sometimes sick all day, not being able to keep any amount of food down. Lifting her hand to wipe her brow, she felt something sticky on her hand and the odor was intense and coppery. Blood, she realized. She knew by now what blood smelled like. But where is it coming from?
"I'm dying," she thought. It was the only logical explanation to her, and suddenly she was overcome with guilt. Her mother would be so disappointed with the way Scarlett had chosen to live her life. "I'm sorry, Mother, I had so wanted to be the lady you were," she said meekly to no one. Determined to at least make it back to the house, she tried to stand again and once again felt her feet go out from under her. She tried to call for Rhett, but his name caught in her throat as she fell to the ground in a pool of darkness hitting her head on the bench.
Rhett had finished his dinner calmly. It was difficult but he paid little attention to the empty space across the table from him. For years he had been accustomed to dining alone, so why tonight did it bother him to find himself in the situation once again? The idea that he had grown accustomed to having Scarlett in his life on such a level was a little shocking, but he could come up with no other explanation. It wasn't even three months ago that he was still single.
How could he get so used to her company in such a short time after years without it? He pushed his plate aside and after finding out from Manigo that Scarlett had gone out to the back he went out to search for her. It had grown dark and his eyes had difficulty identifying some of the shadows he saw. After looking around he saw no sign of Scarlett and returned indoors. Searching their room and the back parlor where she enjoyed spending her time, he found them empty. Assured by Manigo that she had in fact not returned, Rhett grew worried.
Their backyard wasn't huge but it was still a large enough area he didn't want to cover it by himself. He asked Manigo to get Prissy and Melissa to help. He knew Scarlett was mad, but he just never pictured her wandering off. He lit a lantern hoping it would aid him in making his job easier, that she would see the light and know he had sought her out. Maybe that was what she was doing, he thought, testing him to see if he'd come to her like a puppy dog with his tail between his legs and apologize.
As much as this thought angered him, he didn't believe that was it. He spent over twenty minutes searching for her, growing frustrated he walked to the gardens to sit down for a minute trying to figure out where she would have gone. Maybe she wandered out to the front to walk to Mrs. Wilkes', but as he approached the patio he quickly realized that was not the case. Why he hadn't thought of the patio before now he had no idea, but he was the one fond of gardens not Scarlett. He had come to think of this little area as his. He set the lantern on the bench and saw the blood on her dress and her hands. He saw by the position of her head that she more than likely struck her head against the bench. Establishing that she was in fact still breathing, he found Manigo and told him to send for Dr. Meade. He returned to the bench wanting to take her into his arms and hold her, but knew it was best to leave her still. He'd never forgive himself if she died because he carelessly moved her.
It seemed like an eternity passed before Manigo returned with the doctor. Rhett had by this point removed his jacket and covered Scarlett with it. His shirtsleeves were rolled up to his elbows; his cravat was untied and hanging loosely from the unbuttoned collar of his shirt. The doctor's reaction at least assured Rhett he had made the right decision in not moving her.
He watched as the doctor examined her, seemingly more worried about her head than the blood on her skirts. Though Rhett realized there was by this point probably no use worrying about the blood on her skirt. He knew enough about pregnancy and miscarriages to know that with that much blood came the loss of the child. He watched in silence, for once in his life keeping his mouth shut as Dr. Meade took Manigo and walked towards the house, returning a few minutes later with a stretcher to put Scarlett on. He stood slowly as they took Scarlett into the house and up to their room; Rhett had protested vehemently that she should be in her room when Dr. Meade stated he wanted her placed in a spare room. Rhett assured the doctor he would take the spare room, but that Scarlett was to wake up in her bed, in her room. Rhett left the doctor alone to examine her, and was relieved when the door to their room opened. The doctor gave Rhett some laudanum for the pain that Scarlett would surely feel when she woke up and sedatives to administer should she become disturbed and need to be calmed.
Rhett nodded blankly at the doctor's instructions, unable to take his eyes off Scarlett's lifeless body lying on their bed. He looked up when he heard someone knocking on the bedroom door. He was sure there was a look of shock on his face when he saw Melanie standing in the doorway. He had to remember to praise Prissy tomorrow when Melanie said that Prissy had sent for her. He held Scarlett's hand, rubbing his hand over the top of her hand. Rhett stood and left the room with Dr. Meade as Melanie assured him she would get Scarlett cleaned up and into a nightgown with Prissy's assistance. Melissa was down in the kitchen brewing some coffee.
The doctor reiterated to Rhett that he was more concerned about the head wound than he was about her miscarriage. Women miscarried babies all the time Dr. Meade reasoned. He offered Rhett his sympathies on the loss of their unborn child and said he would be by the next afternoon to check on her. He left instructions with Rhett that when she did come to that it would be important to try and keep her awake from that point until Dr. Meade returned to see her again.
Rhett showed Dr. Meade to the door, thanking him for coming so quickly and returned to the bedroom upstairs. He knocked softly and entered when bid to do so by Melanie. Scarlett was so pale and appeared so frail lying in bed. Melanie had cleaned her up well; there were no traces of blood on Scarlett's hands or head. She had even gone so far as brushing out her hair so it was fanned out behind her on her pillow. She almost looked like she was on display in a coffin he thought. He quickly pushed the thought aside. He couldn't think like that. Suddenly, it seemed more important to him than anything that this woman lived. If it meant he didn't sleep for days he didn't care, he would sit by her side every minute of every day if it meant she wouldn't die.
Melanie seemed to sense Rhett's introspective mood and said nothing. She took the coffee service tray from Melissa instructing her to start making something for Rhett to eat. She poured Rhett some coffee; unsure of how he took it she set the cup and saucer on the nightstand near him and decided it would be best if she just left it black. She realized he more than likely wasn't going to drink it anyway.
She grew very sad watching the helpless look she recognized on Rhett's face and wondered if anyone would ever believe he could bear such a look. She doubted it and she would certainly never tell anyone. She left the room quietly after telling Rhett she was going to go downstairs to help Melissa in the kitchen. She engaged Prissy's help and the three of them started on some soup for when Scarlett came to. She would be hungry, Melanie wagered but solid food probably wouldn't sit well. Certain that things were taken care of as best as they could be under the circumstances, Melanie returned once more to the bedroom upstairs and after receiving no response to her knocks at the door opened it slowly.
"Captain Butler, I'm going to return home for the night. I will return first thing in the morning. If you should need me, please have Prissy send for me again." She watched him, he hadn't heard a word she said and she knew it. "She'll be fine, Captain Butler. Scarlett is the strongest person I know. She doesn't know the meaning of the words quit or give up."
She turned and quietly left the room, closing the door softly behind her. She descended the stairs slowly and left the house. Never before had she observed a man so obviously devoted to his wife or devastated by the events of that evening. Melanie couldn't help but wonder if Scarlett realized how lucky she was. She quickly pushed the thought aside, of course she did. She returned home, telling Ashley and Aunt Pitty of the events as she knew them and retired to bed knowing the following day would be a long one.
The next three days passed by for Rhett as if he was in a dream. The spare room had been prepared for him, but he never left Scarlett's side. When he needed to sleep he just rested his head on the edge of the bed and caught a few minutes of sleep. Melissa brought him food, but when she went to retrieve the tray hours later they continued to go untouched.
The doctor came and left trying to assure Rhett that she would by fine, but Rhett wasn't stupid and knew that there was the chance she could be less than fine. Melanie had been there during the days, Rhett knew they talked but couldn't have related one word of the conversations that passed between them. On the fourth day, Melanie finally convinced him to take a hot bath, eat something, drink some brandy, and lay down in the bed in the spare room. He saw the concern in Melanie's eyes was prevalent equally for both he and Scarlett, and he apologized for his behavior. As if Melanie didn't have enough to worry about with her sister in-law taking ill, she felt obligated to take care of him, too.
Melanie politely led him from the room assuring Rhett there was nothing to apologize for. She was just trying to make sure that when Scarlett came to he was well rested, well fed, cleanly shaven, and dressed.
"You're not going to do her any good, Captain Butler, if she wakes up and feels like she has to take care of you. So, please, just get some rest. I'll sit with her for the rest of the night if I have to so you can get your rest. I believe Manigo is seeing to your bath water already and Melissa will bring you something to eat. If there's anything else you need, you just let me know and I'll see to it. I don't want to see you leave that room until morning."
She looked at him with genuine compassion in her eyes. It was so obvious to her that this man loved Scarlett. She couldn't help but once again believe that Charles would be relieved to know that Scarlett had married someone who would take such good care of her. Melanie closed the door after he left, feeling slightly uncomfortable being in such close proximity to a man who was going to be bathing and sleeping. She returned to Scarlett's bedside and her knitting.
Melanie dozed off in the chair and was woken suddenly by Scarlett's voice. She went to sit on the edge of the bed, a damp cloth in her hand to wipe off Scarlett's face and neck. "It's all right, Scarlett. I'm here."
Her voice was soft and gentle, how odd it was to be taking care of Scarlett. Melanie had always been the weaker of the two of them, and had always relied on Scarlett to care for her. How many times had Scarlett saved Melanie from disaster? Both Scarlett and Rhett had, and while Ashley had been unpleasantly surprised by the sudden marriage between the two of them Melanie had seen it coming for years. She knew the two of them were both strong willed and would be slow in coming to the realization that they fit, but she knew that it would happen.
Scarlett came to slowly, feeling as if she was climbing out of the darkness of a mineshaft to the opening, which greeted her harshly with its brightness. She felt something damp on her head and heard someone talking to her but she had no idea if she was awake or dreaming. She reached up to touch her throbbing head. Surely she must be dreaming because such excruciating pain couldn't exist in real life. She moved her hands from her head in an almost dreamlike state; her body and head felt heavy almost as if she were swimming in a mud filled watering hole, trying to reach the top.
"Rhett?" she called softly as her hands came in contact with the sheets and felt the empty space next to her.
Melanie didn't see the need to wake Rhett, it was the middle of the night and Manigo had told Melanie that he had unwillingly gotten into bed after eleven that night.
"He's in the other room sleeping, Scarlett. He needed the rest." But Melanie knew Scarlett hadn't heard the last sentence and fought the urge to go across the hall and wake Rhett. She finished wiping Scarlett's brow and returned to her chair.
Rhett left his room the following morning realizing once again what a voice of reason Melanie was. Had Scarlett come to over the last twenty-four hours, he would have been so tired that he would have been of no use to her. At least now he was bathed and freshly dressed. He had elected not to shave, deciding he would not do that until he knew she was going to be all right. He went downstairs to eat breakfast and to try and get back to some routine in the house. Melissa, Prissy, and Manigo wisely stayed out of his way and a short while later he returned upstairs to Scarlett's room. He spoke softly to Melanie who appeared to be sleeping in the chair. "Mrs. Wilkes, why don't you go home? Your son and husband need you, too. I thank you for coming to my aid, but I'll be fine for the day."
Melanie woke slowly; startled to hear a voice that was not Ashley's. She flushed slightly.
"Captain Butler, I'm so sorry. You must think I'm terribly lax falling asleep like this." After Rhett had assured her he thought nothing of the kind, she stood and told him that she had come to briefly during the night. Rhett showed Melanie out and returned to Scarlett's side. He wasn't an overly religious man, but this was going on five days now and he found himself offering himself in exchange that she might be spared. Almost as if in answer to his prayers, as Melissa brought him his lunch that afternoon, he noticed her stir in the bed. He set his tray aside and sat on the edge of the bed, taking her hand in his and brushing her hair back.
"Scarlett, can you hear me?"
Scarlett came to feeling dizzy, her head throbbed and she did not want to open her eyes due to the pain she felt in her head. She heard Rhett's voice and for some reason she was comforted by its sound. She seemed to recall waking up to Melanie's voice, but what would Melanie be doing here in their room? When she spoke, she was amazed at the weakness of her voice. Surely that wasn't her talking? She had to be dreaming.
He breathed a sigh of relief, though he realized that they weren't in the clear yet.
"Yes, Scarlett, I'm here."
He squeezed her hand lightly. From what Dr. Meade had said, other than her head she had sustained no other injuries. But Rhett still exhibited caution in touching her; he brushed back her hair with his other hand.
"Can you open your eyes, Scarlett? I haven't seen those pretty green eyes of yours for days now."
She processed what Rhett had said as she opened her eyes slowly, pleased that the room wasn't too bright. She looked around slowly and noticed that the drapes had been pulled over all the windows accounting for the dimness in the room. But this also prevented her from seeing what time of day it was. She turned to look at Rhett; he looked like he hadn't shaved in days. She shook her head slightly, trying to process everything causing pain to shoot through her head and eyes. She groaned slightly.
"What is this about days, Rhett?"
Had he been gone for days? Was that what he was talking about?
"The last thing I remember is going out to the garden after our argument at dinner earlier, but after that I'm afraid I don't remember anything else about tonight's events."
"Scarlett that was four nights ago, you fell apparently and hit your head." He paused, not wanting to tell her anything else until she had been up and about for a little more than five minutes. "And judging by your hesitancy to move it overmuch, I'm gathering you hit it quite hard."
She nodded slightly, cursing under her breath at the movement. "Yes, it feels like I've got a bump the size of brick on my head." She closed her eyes again trying to remember what had happened to no avail. She looked to Rhett. "There's something else you're not telling me. I can see it in your eyes, Rhett."
"It's nothing to worry about now, Scarlett. There are more important things to worry about, like getting you a bath and something to eat."
"I must look a fright if I've been in bed for four days." She looked at him, her eyes finally focusing on him. "Have you slept? You look like I feel."
"I slept last night. Mrs. Wilkes ordered me out of the room and ordered Manigo to see I got a bath, food, and sleep."
The thought of Rhett allowing Melanie to order him to do anything was both amusing and disturbing to Scarlett. She didn't like the kindness Rhett showed Melanie, always polite and always willing to go the extra mile for her seemingly without a reason. She knew Rhett wouldn't have thought twice about helping Melanie with tax money.
"If you'll send for Prissy I'll have her bathe me and then I'll join you downstairs."
Rhett stared at her in disbelief.
"Scarlett, you can't get out of bed. Not yet anyway. I'll have some soup brought up here for you. Mrs. Wilkes, Prissy, and Melissa spent hours making you chicken soup that is mostly broth knowing that it would be sometime before you woke and food would probably not stay down. I'll help you with your bath, I wouldn't trust Prissy not to let you fall in and drown."
"Oh Rhett, how you do go on. But if it will make you feel better, all right. You coddle me too much, Pa never spoiled mother this much when she was carrying Suellen or Carreen. You act as if I'm the first woman that's ever been pregnant."
Well, you're the first Mrs. Butler to be pregnant he wanted to say but couldn't. While he didn't feel it right to tell her about the loss of the baby, he didn't want to deceive her either. "Your mother probably obeyed your father a lot better than you do me, Scarlett."
"Obey?" Scarlett arched an eyebrow at the word.
"Let's not get you excited, Scarlett. I was just making an observation, not being critical or insulting." When Prissy had come in with the bath water, he could tell that Scarlett was ready for the bath. He pulled back her covers; she looked so frail and weak. At just under three months along, she had just started to show, a slight roundness to her belly that hidden by clothes wasn't noticeable but whenever they made love Rhett noticed it. He noticed it and liked it.
He had never understood men's aversions to the woman's body when it was pregnant. He picked her up gently; supporting her head as best he could and set her gently in the tub. He washed her hair first, letting her body relax in the tub's warmth. Once her hair had been washed, he sponged her off dismissing her claims to be able to do it herself. There was nothing suggestive or erotic about what he was doing; though he knew from past experiences with bath tubs that they could lead to very sensual experiences. When finished, he allowed her to sit in the tub for a while longer, letting her skin absorb the scent of lilacs. He toweled her off and helped her into a fresh nightgown, returning her to bed as Melissa knocked on the door with Scarlett's soup and tea.
Scarlett allowed Rhett to feed her the soup, her arms felt fine but she didn't trust her eyes to see straight enough not to cause her to miss her mouth and scald herself with the soup. She felt like an invalid, but truthfully she found it amazing how Rhett was caring for her. Dr. Meade came by to look at her and after pronouncing her well on the road to recovery left her reminding her not to push herself too hard for a couple of weeks. She saw the visual exchange that occurred between Rhett and Dr. Meade and Scarlett asked Rhett about it as soon as he left. "What was that all about?"
"Nothing to worry about, Scarlett. I just didn't want the doctor to worry you; you know how he is. He'd tell you to stay in bed for a month just to be safe." He set the tray aside, sensing she wasn't going to eat anymore. "I guess it's time for you to go back to sleep and for me to go to my assigned quarters for the rest of the evening."
Scarlett raised an eyebrow at him. "Your assigned quarters? Why does it make a difference where you sleep?"
"You're not feeling well, Scarlett. The last thing I need is to share a bed with you and be tempted to touch you in any way that would hurt you." His eyes dropped to the blankets and back up to her face. "I'll stay and talk to you if you want me to, I realize you probably don't want to go to sleep after you've spent the last few days doing nothing but that."
His eyes brightened as he thought of something. He went to her closet and brought her a wrapper, helping her sit up as he put it around her and picked her up with ease. He opened the French doors that led to the balcony off their bedroom and set her gently in a chair.
"Dr. Meade will probably have my head for doing this, but I just realized you haven't been outside in days either. Nor have I for that matter. Perhaps we can see a shooting star."
Scarlett laughed lightly. "You're too much, Rhett." They sat in silence for a while; Scarlett had no idea how much time went by. The sky was clear making the stars seem extra bright. "You're right this is much better than being in that bed." She paused as she thought over the last few hours and something dawned on her. "Rhett," she placed her hand on his arm. "The baby. Why hasn't anyone mentioned the baby?" Suddenly, she had a vision of blood on her hands and the scent of blood was prevalent, of her trying to stand and losing her footing, feeling faint. She had tried to sit down and had missed. "It's gone, isn't it?" She asked softly, with a surprising amount of emotion in her voice.
Rhett looked out over the balcony and sat in silence for a moment. It would do no good to lie to her. "Yes, Scarlett, it's gone." He suddenly grew very sad; he hadn't taken the time to think about it overmuch until now. So focused had he been on Scarlett, that he hadn't given any thought to the fact that his child had been lost. And the irony of the situation hit him like a ton of bricks. He was now married to a woman who was in love with another man and he really didn't need to be.
Scarlett removed her hand from Rhett's arm as if she had been burned. He was acting like she was not even there, as if he'd rather be somewhere else. She said the only thing she knew to say - it seemed the right thing to say under the circumstances. "I'm sorry, Rhett."
He shrugged, his eyes still staring into the darkness. "You have nothing to apologize for, Scarlett. Don't start acting the part of dutiful wife now and apologize to me as if I'm going to find fault with you for losing my child. You never wanted a baby to begin with. I'm sure you'll be much happier without having to contend with motherhood. At least you're all right, we didn't lose you in the process."
"Your child? Did you ever stop to consider that perhaps I had grown to like the idea?" She stared at him, not believing he could act so cold at such a time. It had been their child, not his. He had been so nice to her earlier, comforting. He fed her soup damn it.
Was it all a show?
What was he going to do, feign attentiveness and kindness to her until he felt she should know the child she carried was lost?
"Of course I didn't like the idea at first, I was scared. Scared that people would find out I was pregnant when you married me. Scared that people would think it wasn't your child. Scared of being a mother, I have such huge shoes to fill. I don't know the first thing about babies, Rhett. But I was growing to warm to the idea."
He stood and took her into his arms, carrying her back to the bed. After removing her wrapper, he pulled the comforter around her. "You need your rest, Scarlett. We can talk about this more tomorrow. The important thing now is you need to get better. You have twenty-five houses to oversee the building of remember?"
"Yes, I remember, Rhett." She sighed as her head hit the pillow and her eyes grew heavy. "Can't you stay here, Rhett?"
"I can sit with you for a while if you'd like." He sat in the chair by her bed, the chair he had sat in so often over the last four days he thought his body's impression would be permanently imbedded in the chair. She drifted off to sleep quickly; unaware that Rhett had had Melissa put a dose of the laudanum in her soup. Rhett went to his room across the hall soon afterward and went to sleep himself, the last thing he remembered was being grateful Scarlett's life had been spared.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com