Laird Visits Antonia

Antonia was sitting by the window in her bedroom, looking out. Weeks had gone by and still no visit from Laird. Why hadn’t he come? Didn’t he want to see her? She refused to believe what their father had told her. Laird didn’t hate her. He couldn’t. No, he simply couldn’t. When they were children and teenagers, they had a close and loving relationship.

There were times, though, when she wished that it were just the two of them. There were times when she had wished that Karson had studied abroad or had moved out after graduating from university. Then, it would have been just Laird and her. Yes, if Karson weren’t around, she and Laird could have become even closer. And he would have fallen in love with her and be married to her now instead of to Martina.

Her lips pursed. She didn’t want to think about Martina or the baby she was carrying. How she wished Laird hadn’t met her or gotten involved with her. After she herself had graduated, she could have moved to London and moved in with Laird. They would have been so happy together. And then they could spend some weekends, during the summer and for the Christmas holidays with their father.

She looked at her bare left ring finger and then at her flat stomach. Her mouth tightened. I should be his wife, not her and I should be carrying his child, not her. I hate her for taking him away from me. I wish she didn’t exist. I wish she were dead–

A knock on the door startled her. “Miss Antonia?”


“It’s me, Dora.”

“Come in, Dora.”

The door opened and Dora, the maid walked in. “Sorry to trouble you, Miss Antonia.”

“What is it, Dora?”

“I came to tell you, Miss Antonia, that Mr. Laird is here.”

Antonia’s heart skipped a beat and she rose to her feet. “Laird’s here?”

“Yes, Miss Antonia.”

“Does he know that Mr. Pendlebury isn’t here?”

“I expect he does, Miss Antonia. I think Mr. Archibal told him before he asked me to come and tell you that Mr. Laird was here.”

“So, Mr. Laird isn’t here to see Mr. Pendlebury?”

“No, Miss Antonia. Archibal says he’s here to see you and that’s why he sent me to get you.”

Antonia couldn’t believe it. Laird had finally come to see her. Excitement filled her and smiling at Dora, she said, “Thank you, Dora. Please tell Archibal to tell Mr. Laird that I will be down shortly.”

“Yes, Miss Antonia.” She turned to leave but paused at the doorway.

“What is it?” Antonia asked her.

“I just wanted to let you know that I have been drawing the curtains open in Mr. Laird’s old room.”

“That’s good. Thanks, Dora.”

Dora smiled and quickly left the room, closing the door behind her. As soon as she was gone, Antonia went over to the dressing table and checked her reflection. She fixed her hair and made sure that her face wasn’t shiny before leaving the bedroom. She met Archibal at the foot of the staircase. “Is Mr. Laird in the drawing-room?” she asked him.

“Yes, Miss.”

“Thank you, Archibal.” She walked away and headed for the drawing-room. Her heartbeat increased with each step. When she was outside of the room, she paused for a moment to compose herself and then, she went inside.

Laird was standing in front of the wall beside the fireplace. He was still wearing his jacket. Her smile faded when she saw the expression on his face. “Hello, Antonia.”

“Hello, Laird. It’s–it’s good to see you.”

“I was on my way home and thought I would stop by.”

“I’m happy that you did. Would you like me to ring for Archibal so that he can come and take your jacket?”

“No, thank you. I won’t be staying long.”

Her heart sank. She had hoped that he would stay for a while, especially since they hadn’t seen each other for ages. “Oh.” She went over to the sofa and sat down, facing him, with her hands clasped tightly in her lap. If only he would let her hug him…Her body ached to feel his against hers and his arms around her, holding her close…

“I know that you were in hospital.”

“Yes, I–I was. Did Father tell you why?”

“No, he didn’t tell me anything. I heard about it from Aunt Margery.”

“Oh. Dad must have told her about it, then.”

“Yes. He told her that you had a collapse and he had you admitted to the hospital because you needed psychiatric help.”

“I don’t think I needed any psychiatric help. I just passed out, that’s all.”

“She told me about the dream.”

Antonia’s face flushed. “She had no right to do that.”

“I wish she hadn’t told me about it either.”

“It was a beautiful dream, Laird–“

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

That hurt. “All right.”

“She also mentioned Emily Lancaster.”

“That horrid girl?”

“Emily wasn’t horrid.”

“I thought she was.”


“She was always hanging about you.”

“I didn’t mind her doing that because I was sweet on her–“

Antonia’s eyes flashed with jealousy and her hands clenched into fists. “How could you be sweet on her?” she demanded. “She wasn’t even pretty.”

“I thought she was but that’s not why I mentioned her. Aunt Margery said she saw you give Emily the evil eye.”

“I hated her because of you, Laird. I hated any girl who tried to take you away from me.”

“What do you mean take me away from you?”

“Whenever Emily or those other girls were around, you ignored me.”

“I didn’t ignore you.”

“Yes, you did. It hurt. It was worse with Emily. You and she would run off to the moors and leave me behind.”

“If Emily and her family hadn’t moved to Cornwall, what would you have done, Antonia?”

“What do you mean?”

“Would you have done something bad to Emily?”

“I wanted to but I didn’t.”

“What about Martina?”

Antonia watched him warily. “What about her?”

“You told me that you hated her. She’s my wife and the mother of my child. You’ve given her the evil eye too and don’t bother to deny it.”

“Who told you that I gave her the evil eye? Aunt Margery? She hates me doesn’t she? She always has.”

“Aunt Margery doesn’t hate you–“

“She does because I told her that she will never replace Mother.”

“Replace Mother? What on earth do you mean?”

“She’s in love with Dad.”

Laird’s eyes narrowed. “What?

“Aunt Margery’s has always been in love with Dad.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. She’s his sister-in-law.”

“Yes, but she wants to be more.”

“You’re making this up, Antonia.”

“No, I’m not.”

“How the devil do you know this?”

“I accused her of trying to move in on Dad which she denied it but when I told her that I knew that she was in love with him, she didn’t deny it.”

“I think you’re mistaken. Aunt Margery loves Dad yes, but as a brother, nothing more.”

“Why don’t you ask her?”

No. I’m not going to embarrass her by asking her such an impertinent question.”

“I’m not mistaken about this, Laird. Aunt Margery’s in love with Dad.”

“And so what if she is? Dad’s a widower and I’m sure Mother wouldn’t mind him moving on and finding happiness with someone else.”

“I agree that Mother would want him to find happiness again but not with her own sister.”

“I think you should stay out of Dad’s and Aunt Margery’s business. They can do whatever they want with their own lives.”

“All right. I’ll stay out of it.”

“I’ve to go now but before I leave, I warn you, Antonia, if you try to harm Martina in any way, I promise you that you will regret it.”

“Laird, I would never do anything bad to Martina.”

“I hope not for your sake.”

“When–when can I see you again?”

“Goodbye, Antonia,” he said abruptly before he turned and walked out of the room.

Antonia remained sitting there. Her heart was racing and her hands trembled as she placed them on either side of her on the cushion. Her face was pale but her eyes were bright and shiny. Hatred for Aunt Margery erupted inside her. You’re going to pay, you old bat for trying to ruin my chances with Laird. Her nails dug into the fabric.

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