He didn’t bother to knock--not that I would ever bar the door to him--before bursting into the room. I had a rare moment all to myself and was so startled by his entrance that I stabbed myself with the needle I’d been holding.
I muttered a small cry of distress, not that Gaston seemed to notice. He stormed in, slamming the door behind him with such force that the walls shook. “Bonjour, Gaston. What--”
“She refused me!” he shouted, kicking a chair that was in his path.
I furrowed my brow at his apparent rage. “Who refused you?”
“Belle!” he roared, as though I was an imbecile for not knowing already. “I told her of my intention to make her my wife and she slammed the door in my face!”
My heart began to pound hard under my breastbone. A rushing filled my ears until I thought I would faint. Did he say...his wife?
“Half the town was privy to my humiliation! Why, I’m surprised you didn’t know it already!” He paced until I worried he might wear a hole in the rug Camille had traded for at market.
Though he was in the room with me, he was talking at me rather than to me, so I stayed carefully silent. I’d seen Gaston in a rage before, though never quite like this. I was careful to keep quiet, even though my heart felt like it might burst free of the skin and bone that entrapped it.
How could he want to marry her? I just couldn’t understand. She was beautiful, yes; she had flowing chestnut hair and deep, chocolate eyes, but everyone could see she would one day go mad, as her father had. All she ever talked of was nonsense she’d read about in some book, all she ever thought about was the next one she’d read. Couldn’t he see that she would never be a fit wife for him? Perhaps I wouldn’t be any better, though I’d try. I would clean his kills and mend his socks, keep his house clean and bear him as many children as
he could give me. Was he blind to what was right in front of him?
I shook my head to clear the disloyal thought. I truly wasn’t worthy of him if I questioned his judgment. I so longed to be worthy.
“Now that little idiot is going to go running after her father!” He sneered. “There is no helping that man, why does she trouble herself?!” He threw his arms in the air, waving them angrily as he paced. “Doesn’t she understand that I need her?”
Need me, I begged silently. Need me.
“What I have to do is bring her back here, make her see...but how?” The pacing stopped as he pondered the question.
I watched as he tapped his forefinger on his chin, his face screwed up in concentration. There was a sick churning in my stomach that made me believe I’d be ill any moment. I fought for control of my composure--I would be horribly embarrassed to lose my breakfast in front of the man I adored--even as wave after wave of crushing despair tried to knock me over.
“Perhaps I could go after her...no, that would never do. If I drag her
back, she’ll only run at the first chance. But if I sent someone in my stead...to
talk some sense into her...”
When his eyes fell on me, as though he was only just now seeing me for the first time, I felt the bile rise in my throat. No. It was a silent, desperate plea that, if he heard, he didn’t heed. I knew by the stubborn set of his jaw and the determined look in his eyes that his mind was made up.