He was looking out the window when he saw a taxi pull up. The door opened and Chelsey got out. She looked up and saw him. After waving, she turned and closed the door and the taxi drove off. She walked towards the entrance.
It had been ages since he last saw her. Although he was pleasantly surprised by her visit, he wondered about the reason for it. He hoped it had nothing to do with her step-father. The last time he spoke to Ruth, she had assured him that things had improved between them.
He remembered how upset, though, Chelsey had been when Ruth announced that she was going to get married again. Chelsey had hated the idea of another man trying to take her father’s place and had rebelled. Although he couldn’t blame her for how she felt, he had tried to encourage her to give Gideon a chance but she had resisted. So, he was relieved to hear that they were no getting along well. He hoped that hadn’t changed.
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts and he called, “Come in.”
The door opened and his manservant, Charles entered. “Your niece is here, Sir. She’s in the drawing-room.”
“Thanks, Charles. I’ll be down shortly.”
“Shall I bring a tray in with some tea and scones, Sir?”
“That would be nice, Charles, but I will ring when I’m ready for it.”
“Very good, Sir.” He inclined his head and withdrew from the room, closing the door quietly behind him.
Chelsey was sitting on the arm of the leather chair when he entered. She stood up as he approached her. They hugged and then, she resumed her seat. He leaned against the fireplace with his arms folded. “So, how’s my favorite niece?” he asked.
“To what do I owe this unexpected pleasure of your visit?”
“I needed to talk to you about something.”
“Does it have to do with Gideon?”
“Oh, please don’t tell me that there’s bad blood between you two again.”
“No, it’s nothing like that at all. In fact, there’s very good blood between us now. We get along perfectly well. In fact, we’ve gotten quite close. I’m as close to him as I was to my father.”
“Well, that’s good to hear. So, what’s on that pretty mind of yours?”
Chelsey sighed. “Uncle Ross, I’ve developed feelings for Gideon.”
His eyebrows arched. “Feelings? What kind of feelings?”
“The sort of feelings a woman has for a man.”
“But, you’re just a girl–“
Her mouth tightened and her eyes flashed at him. “I’m not a girl.”
“I’m sorry. All I meant was that you’re so young and he’s-well, he’s old enough to be–“
“My father, I know but I’m not the first teenager to fall for a man much older than her. Take Jane Eyre for example and the heroine in Rebecca. Both men were older and had wives.”
“Yes, but these are all fictional characters, Chelsey.”
“I know but I’m sure there are lots of women my age who have fallen for older men.”
“Yes, but, Gideon is married to your mother. He loves her.”
“I know. Do you think I want to feel this way about him? I’ve tried very hard to fight it but the more I try the harder it becomes. Maybe I should move out. Maybe I should study abroad instead of at Oxford.”
“Have you talked to Ruth about this?”
“No, but I did tell her recently that if Gideon weren’t my step-father, I would go for him.”
“And what did she say?”
“She thought I was being foolish and didn’t want to talk about it. I can’t talk to her about anything. I’ve never felt comfortable sharing things with her and we’ve never been close. And, besides, she has been acting weird lately.”
“Weird? In what way?”
“Irritable and she hardly goes anywhere with Gideon and me. We always end up doing things and going places without her. Maybe, she’s going through a mid-life crisis or something.”
“Does Gideon know how you feel about him?”
“Good gracious no! He will never know if I can help it. I don’t want to ruin the relationship we have.”
“So, what are you going to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Do you really want to study abroad?”
“Not really. I’ll miss him terribly and you, of course.”
“What about living on campus at Oxford?”
“I could do that and I’ll be able to visit home during the summer, Christmas holidays and for March break.”
“And you’re welcome to stay here if you like.”
“Thanks, Uncle Ross.”
“Will you stay for a while?”
“I’ll ring for some tea and scones.”
Chelsey ended up staying for dinner as well and after a game of Chess, he took her home.