Aftermath Chapter 1

By Israfel

February, 1796

“So you’re really going away this time?”

Jonathan sighed, looking up from his packing. “I have to. There has been declared a family matter that I must attend to. Again.”

“Can’t you tell your family that you are happy here in London? We’re to be married in the spring. You promised me you would not break our betrothal again. Refuse them! Tell them anything, just don’t leave me!”

He threw a shirt harshly into the suitcase and glared at his fiance. “I can’t! Don’t you see? I can’t! You refuse other people, but you do not refuse the Belmonts. If you could see past yourself for once-”

“Oh, don’t you dare. Don’t you dare say that about me! From the moment we met I’ve done everything to please you and your infernal, bellicose family! God in Heaven, when are you going to be a man and cut the noose they have around your neck.”

The perfect ladylike image from earlier of the elegant woman sitting demurely on the bed had been shattered and replaced with that of an upset woman, her face flushed and tendrils of hair out of place from wild gesturing.The two lovers glared at each other before he turned his face away to return to packing.

“I have no such thing around me.”

“You do. They pull, and you follow. No, you’re right. It’s not a hangman’s noose. It’s the strings of a puppet. Dance, little puppet, dance. Come to Romania, Jonathan, come to Romania. It’s all the same!”

“Would you leave me alone, you wretched woman! There’s such a thing as loyalty. I made an oath, long ago, and I am sworn to keep it. Perhaps you cannot understand that, but I do. And I will not betray them. Come hell or high water, I am going to Romania.”

Both struggled to keep their breathing even, each not wanting to appear out of control or put out in front of the other. His glare stayed on her face, and this time she was the one to turn away first as she sat back down on the bed, wrapping her arms around herself as she stared at the wall. “Not even for me, John? Not even for me?”

“Not even for you.”

“I can’t wait for you forever. Five years. I just...I just...I can’t wait for you to return. I’m twenty-one years of age. If I wait any longer I shall be too old.”

“Not to me. You’ll never be too old to me.”

Their gazes locked again. There were tears in hers, he could see she was having trouble blinking them back.

“I want children. I want children, and I want them before I get too old to raise them myself.”

“Well, I could help you there. I could remove my suitcases from the bed and then we could-”

She made a disgusted noise in the back of her throat. “You horrible man! I’m serious here.”

“So am I. But not about the, uh, bed.”

A knock. The door opened revealing the hotel manager, who with a hurried nod to acknowledge the immobilized Miss Anderson delivered a sealed letter to Jonathan.

“Sir, your carriage has just arrived outside. This came with it. Shall I have the bellhop bring your belongings down?”

“Yes, thank you.”

“Reggie?” he asked, placing a hand on his fiance’s shoulder. She shrugged it off, and he took two steps backwards to give her some space, then sighed and walked to the door. She whirled around, seeing him at the door. He had his mouth open, as though he were planning on saying something but couldn’t remember what it was once it was time to.

“Just go. I can’t bear to see you any longer for I fear I shall weep openly if I do go wish you off.”

He opened the door, stepping into the doorframe and turning his head slightly. “I love you, Regina.” Then he was gone.

“I love you, Jonathan. ...Oh God.” Regina Anderson, heiress to the very hotel they were in among being one of the most stable shareholders in it, collapsed onto the bed and wept into the pillow with shaking shoulders.

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