1880 by Bekah Leigh
1. The First Sighting by Bekah Leigh
2. The First Meeting by Bekah Leigh
3. The First Party by Bekah Leigh
4. From Passion Toward Passion by Bekah Leigh
The First Sighting by Bekah Leigh
~This isn't the first fic I've ever written, but it is the first I've ever posted. Please be kind, review!~
Disclaimer: All that's mine is the storyline. Everything else belongs to the god Joss Whedon and his army of bad-ass television companies.
Chapter One: The First Sighting
A tapping awoke her. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep. When she’d laid down on the grass in a secluded spot by the lake, it had been early afternoon, and now the sun was setting low, leaving shades of yellow, orange, pink and red to streak across the sky. ‘It must be nearly dinner time,’ she thought. ‘Father will be furious if I’m late!’ Hurrying to raise herself from her lying position and get to their new home, she began to wonder if she shouldn’t miss her curfew, simply to spite the old man. Shaking her head at the thought, she told herself she didn’t want to deal with the anger he would surely possess at her tardiness. She began to run as fast as her tight corset and hard boots would allow, holding up her skirts to give her feet more room to carry her.
A low murmuring drew her attention, and she easily lost interest in abstaining from her father’s temper. Slowing down, she listened harder so she could locate the origin of the sound. When she heard the tapping that had awoken her, her curiosity peaked, and she walked down the path through the park, in search of the strange sound. Following the dirt covered trail, she found herself staring at a man, holding a small notepad and pen, tapping the end of the pen against the wood of the bench he was sitting on. He was obviously absorbed in whatever was on the page, because he hadn’t noticed her presence, and he was still murmuring to himself. She watched with intrigue as he abruptly stopped murmuring and rapping his pen, instead using it to scribble something down, while voicing excitedly, “That’s it!”
She smiled at him, amused at his enthusiasm, as he said some more incoherent things to himself. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with the urge to not be seen by this enticing man, like one who studies timid animals, not wanting to frighten them away by his or her presence. She backed away slowly, hoping he wouldn’t notice. Once she reached a safe distance, she jumped behind the thick brush adjacent to either side of the path. Assuring herself that she was concealed from his sight by the bushes, she moved forward, quietly sneaking her way to sit in across from him, pushing some stray locks of hair from her face that had fallen loose in her rush. Now, sitting only a few feet from him, and able to watch him more closely, she took a better look at him.
She took in his clothing, a tan suit of tweed. From her judgment, she guessed he was of the upper middle class, not that it really mattered to her. His left leg was lifted, hooked onto his right knee by his ankle, with his notebook placed at the bend of his left knee. She realized, with passing interest, that he was left handed, and laughingly thought of all the stories that were told of left handed men. She had been told that dominance must be in the right hand, because that was the hand of God. That because they wrote with the opposite hand, that they were conformers with the devil, and should be avoided at all costs in order to remain pure enough to go to Heaven. Looking at this man, she knew without a doubt, that those statements- which she had never truly believed anyway- were false. Continuing her examination, she tried to look at his face, noticing, with slight disappointment, that it was obscured from her view. His light brown, curly hair fell over his forehead, as he looked down at his paper. The angle blocked most of his face, though she could tell that he was wearing glasses. Frowning, she tried to will him to look up, so she could get a better view.
She didn’t know exactly why she was so eager to see him. Men weren’t exactly her number one priority. She had tried to court an Irish man, Liam, when she had first moved from America to England, but, after a few polite and formal gatherings, she learned that he’d wanted much more than formalities, and that she didn’t want to offer it to him. When she refused him, he’d been more than happy to tell her that he’d been secretly spending his evenings with a bar matron, Faith, who wouldn’t ever say ‘no’. Elizabeth hadn’t given much thought to it, knowing that she’d never have allowed herself to be with a man who was drinking and whoring his way through life. Another man, Riley Finn, had been of her father’s insisting. He’d come with them on their move to London, having worked with her father and become close friends with him. Elizabeth had found him rather dull and, to her extreme annoyance, closed-minded when it came to people who were monetarily beneath him. She had had friends in America who were never as rich as she was, and she had pretended not to notice when Riley would throw nasty looks at them from across the room. His arrogance and bigoted mind had never dissipated, and that was why she’d never actually tried to have a relationship with him. He seemed to think that they were moving right along, but then he found that she wasn’t as taken with him as he was with himself, and left her for a woman named Samantha.
Elizabeth wasn’t heartbroken in the least.
Elizabeth was shaken out of her thoughts when she noticed the man with an unknown face reach into his jacket to pull out a pocket watch. When he opened it, he seemed somewhat surprised at what he saw, because he lifted his head, looking at the sky and frowning. When she finally saw his face, her shock and excitement rose to a point where she couldn’t help but gasp. His lips were full and soft, his cheekbones contradicted them with their high, sharp edges that formed hollows in his cheeks, and her fingertips suddenly itched to trace them. She squinted, trying to see beneath the glasses, to get a better look at his eyes, but she couldn’t see beyond the blocking spectacles. Frustrated at her misfortune, she focused on his face, losing herself in it, while hoping beyond hope that she’d be able to see his eyes before the day went away. Her inner pleadings proved not entirely in vain, as she watched him remove his glasses, only to rub his eyes tiredly with his right hand. Glaring at him, she waited for his eyes to come into view. As he pulled his hand away, and opened his eyes, she was struck with a piercing gaze that made her gasp again, louder. His eyes were so blue, and she could just tell that they had the ability to express every emotion known to man, to any extreme. She watched his eyes looking around, frowning as he seemed to be searching for someone, and when he stood from his seat, she heard his voice, “Is someone there?”
‘Oh, no!’ She thought. ‘Why did I have to gasp?’ She scrunched lower in her place, holding her breath for fear he’d hear it, while he continued looking for whoever might have made that sound. She sat perfectly still for what seemed like an eternity before she saw him shake his head, chuckling a little, and talking to himself. “You’ve got to stop reading so many horror stories, William. They’re making you paranoid.”
William. So, that was the name of this beautiful creature she’d encountered. She’d never really thought that William was a very unique name, or one she’d admire as such. But, this William, he made the name as beautiful as he was. He made it strong, and soft, and… poetic. But, what did it matter what his name was? She decided that she'd like him no matter what he called himself. And, when had she been thinking so much about such a small matter as a name? Or, that the man she’d been watching was left handed, or had shocking blue eyes. Lots of men had all these things. What was it about him that made her quiver at his every feature? Letting a small smile form on her lips, Elizabeth concluded that he was just special. And that she wanted to see more of him.
Concentrating on him again, she found him walking away from her, obviously heading out of the park. She sprang up from her place behind the bush, and started to follow him. As she quietly stepped onto the path, she noticed a piece of paper lying beside the bench. She bent over and picked it up, hoping that it was something that he’d dropped. Her curious fingers opened it immediately, and she found herself reading a few neat scribbles of what she figured to be a poem.
My heart grows My heart swells
My heart expands
There is more than It is so much larger ‘Tis grown to be
‘Tis grown a bulge in it, inspired by your beauty.
Reading the lines that hadn’t been crossed off, she distinguished with sadness that it was most likely a love poem. For someone he was with? Or possibly someone he’d been chasing. She hoped it was neither, because, after watching him for what seemed like hours, she’d come to recognize the feelings she had toward him were more than infatuation. She wanted to get to know him, and she wanted to be the person he wrote poetry for and the woman that he would fall in love with and marry. ‘Wait… love?’ Her eyes widened. She hadn’t really thought of love so soon, had she? No, of course not. People don’t fall in love that soon… especially not Elizabeth Anne Summers. So… why was she feeling what she was feeling and thinking what she was thinking?
Folding up the paper with trembling fingers, she carefully slid it into the waist of her skirt, and continued on the path that would lead her towards home. Home! Suddenly, her earlier urgency of getting home came back to her, and she began her painful running again, not stopping until she reached the more populated areas of town.
“William, is that you?” Anne called from the dinner table.
“Of course, Mother. Who else would it be?” William grinned as he entered the room, walking over to his mother to kiss her on her cheek before sitting down on the other end of the table. “Am I late?”
Anne smiled at her only son, “Only a little, my boy. Did you go to the park?”
He nodded, answering, “I was hoping to get a little inspiration there. It does wonders for my writings. I suppose I lost track of time.”
“It’s completely alright. I’m glad you have a place to be at peace. Heaven knows you can’t find any peace here, worrying yourself over my health.” She said, looking at him with concern. “William, it’s not right that you spend so much time at home. I know you need your own time and space.”
William sighed, “Mother, I’m content with the life I have. I wouldn’t want to leave you more than necessary for my own selfish reasons. I can get by just fine with the way it is now.” He took her hand in his, trying to reassure her, but Anne only shook her head.
“But, a man your age should be expanding his social circle, not cooping himself up at home day after day. He should be...” she took on a hinting tone. “Attending parties, getting to know the people of the town… searching for a woman to settle down with….”
William rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Now, this is starting to sound like you’re planning to send me out….”
Anne decided not to keep up a charade, and told him. “There is a new family living here in town. The Summers, I believe. They are having a welcoming party, and I want you to go. I’ve heard they have a daughter around your age…” She hinted again, seeing
William’s raised eyebrow.
“Mother, you know very well that I already fancy Miss Cecily Adams. I’m not looking for any other, and I don’t plan to.”
“Oh, but she’s such a proud woman.” She ignored William’s second eye roll of the evening. “It’s perfectly alright for you to broaden your horizons. Don’t limit yourself for one girl. You don’t even know if you’ll be together, or if you are, that it’s what you even wanted.”
William defensively replied, “It’s what I’ve always wanted. All I’ve wanted. This isn’t something that I can just throw aside because I may or may not have a chance.”
“I just want you to be careful, child. She’s been known to be quite cruel when it comes to human decency. I don’t want you to get hurt when…”
“I love her, Mother.” William said in a quiet tone that screamed ‘leave it be.’ Anne took the hint, and decided to respect his wishes for the time being. She didn’t like Cecily. The girl was very wrong for her son, yet somehow, he was smitten with her. Anne didn’t believe that the so-claimed love he had for her was the love she knew him to possess. It was hopeful, and it ignored all flaws of the recipient. He’d seen the girl once, thought her beautiful, and instantly claimed love.
The poor boy was going to be heartbroken when he learned that her beauty truly was skin deep, Anne just hoped that the pieces would be easily mended. She eyed him, sitting opposite her at the table as their dinner was placed in front of them. As they ate silently, she thought of ways to get him away from Cecily and towards someone better. The Summers daughter? An American, she’d heard. Just under twenty-one, and unmarried. That would be as wonderful a match as any, Anne mused. Anyone was a better match than the Adams girl.
“When is this party?” William asked after they finished their meal.
“Tomorrow night, at dinner time. Are you planning on attending?” Anne asked hopefully.
He sighed. “I suppose I should introduce myself to the new family. What can you tell me about them, so I’ll be prepared?”
Anne smiled. “Hank and Joyce Summers moved here one month ago along with their two daughters,
Elizabeth and Dawn, and several of their business employees. It seems that Mr. Summers was a painter, and supported his family by selling his artwork to local merchants. About two years ago, he found oil on his land, and since then has made a fortune from his oil company.”
“So, they’re upper class folk, then. The class of elitists.” William said with distaste. Anne shook her head, thinking how strange it was that William thought of his dear Cecily’s class that way, but not Cecily herself who was the very picture of upper class.
“William, I must insist that you introduce yourself to them. They didn’t come from a higher class to begin with, and I’m sure they aren’t as you say. Rupert says that the women of the family are quite friendly, if not Mr. Summers.”
“Giles knows them? How?” William asked, shocked.
“He tutors the daughters, and their mother often speaks with him at the end of their lessons.”
“Oh,” was all he gave in response. Seeing that he wasn’t going to continue, Anne repeated her request.
“So, you’ll go tomorrow night and meet them? If not for yourself, then as a favor to me.”
William sighed. He could never turn her down when she asked for a favor. He nodded reluctantly. “I’ll go.”
Elizabeth bit her lip as her father once again told her the rules of the house. When she’d finally gotten home, she had walked in on dessert, and then further angered him when she couldn’t come up with a good excuse as to why she had been late. Hank had practically exploded, sending her to her room immediately, without dinner, to await her punishment once he arrived. So, here she was, listening to him remind her incessantly what a disappointment she was to the Summers family line. It wasn’t anything she hadn’t heard before, and, while it stung, she had learned to simply remain quiet, look shameful, and not make eye contact when the storm of a man who called himself her father decided that she needed discipline.
So, while he finished up his speech, she sat on her bed, hands folded in her lap and head bowed.
“You know, Elizabeth, I don’t even know why I bother to deal with you at all. I should have just thrown you to the wolves like I wanted to the first time you disgraced me. I knew that all you’d ever bring me was disappointment.” He looked at her with contempt for several silent moments before shaking his head at her and turning to leave her room. On his way out, he turned back to her one last time. “Tomorrow night is our welcoming party, and you are to show yourself as a respectable young woman to all of our guests. You will wear proper attire, and you will exhibit all the etiquette I know that your mother taught you. Now, there will be young men there. High class, single young men who will wish to meet you. You will treat them each with respect, but there is one man in particular that you must pay the most attention to. His name is Parker Abrams, and he is the son of one of the wealthiest cargo traders in London. With any luck, he’ll take a shining to you and wish to take you as his wife. You have no choice in this matter. I have given you two chances already to choose whom you wish to be wed to, and you failed miserably both times. This time you will NOT disappoint me, you will marry, and be out of my life for good.”
With that, he exited, shutting the door behind him.
Elizabeth raised her head, eyes angrily hooded as she glared at the door her father had just closed. Who was he to tell her how to act around men? They were all after the same thing. They wanted a mistress, not a wife. They wanted a slave, not a lover. This ‘Parker Abrams’ wouldn’t be an exception, she just knew it. He would probably be more arrogant than all the men at that party. The fact that her father was going to force her to marry him if he agreed was sickening. As she got ready for bed, tears brimmed her eyes in frustration. She didn’t want to obey her father at all, but at the same time, felt like she had no choice.
*Just so you know, I have no beta right now. I'm my own beta. Please let me know what you think!
The First Meeting by Bekah Leigh
As I promised, major kudos to my wonderful and very handsome first beta, DrkDevin. Thanks for all your help with this chapter!
Giles had been working with the Summers girls since they’d moved. He had immediately taken a liking to both Dawn, for her eagerness to learn, and Elizabeth, ‘Buffy,’ as she had requested him to call her, for a reason he contemplated while he watched them work. She was… different to say the least; not your average well-to-do woman. She had a way with words that was just horrifyingly destructive to the English language, which should have been nipped in the bud years ago. Her slang terminology never ceased to baffle him, frustrating him and amusing him at the very same time. She was quite smart, though her interest mostly shone in war strategy. That alone confused him. A woman should take interest in more domestic subjects: cleaning, cooking, literature to name a few. This girl would sooner take a fencing sword to you than wash a dish. Then, there was her wit and humor. She was quite the comedian, surprising him every day with a new limerick or pun to go along with his lecture. Needless to say, he found himself laughing at every one.
And finally, there was her heart. She was so strong to cope with having a father who chastised her for everything she might do, good or bad. And she cared for her younger sister, Dawn, who received the same treatment from Hank Summers. Buffy would comfort Dawn and keep her from believing anything the man said about her. She loved her sister and mother with all she was, and he had no doubt that she would give her life if it would save theirs.
“Giles? You in there?” Buffy waved a hand in front of his face, smiling, as he seemed to be far away in his mind. She giggled when he blinked, following her hand in confusion until he connected it to her arm, then shoulder and neck, and finally her face. He returned her smile, nodding his head at her to speak.
“Where’d you go?”
“Ah, just thinking is all. I seem to have a lot on my mind lately. What do you need?”
“Oh, I was just gonna tell you I’m done with my notes.” She gestured to the notebook in her hand. “I was sorta hoping that you could let me out a little early today?” She put the look of a little girl on her face, knowing that he couldn’t turn her down with it firmly in place. “You know, cuz tonight’s the big party and I kinda wanted to get some time in at the park before I need to be back here and meet my doom.”
“Your doom, Buffy? I hardly think that this party is going to be that dreadful.” He shook his head, and her pout became larger. He could never resist that face. “Alright, alright! Go on, have your fun. But don’t be late tonight or else your father will have my head for letting you leave.” Giles thought for a second. “And take Wesley with you.”
Buffy groaned. “Giles, he’s so boring. And, besides, I don’t need a chaperone. I’m just going to the park. And it’s the middle of the day. I promise I’ll be back within a couple of hours.” She looked at her mentor with pleading eyes. When his shoulders slumped and she ran to tackle him in a hug.
“Thanks Giles!” She said happily, kissing his cheek. She walked to the door, “And don’t worry, I promise I won’t fall asleep. There’s too much to see. Bye, Dawnie!”
“Bye!” Dawn replied. Smirking, she turned to look at Giles. “You are so daughter-whipped.”
Giles acted affronted. “I most certainly am not. I let her go because she deserves some time away from here. And where did a scholar like you learn a term such as that? Don’t tell me Buffy has been teaching you English.”
Dawn snorted. “No, just how to bend them to your will.”
Giles frowned playfully. “Back to your history, Dawn. I will not have you wasting the day away on such meaningless talk rather than doing your homework.”
Dawn rolled her eyes, loving this game they played every time Buffy got her way. She and Buffy had begun to think of Giles as their surrogate father since they arrived. He had treated them with more kindness in one lecture than their father had in years. She was glad that they finally had someone besides just their mother to look up to. She smiled at him, giving him a Buffy inspired, “Whatever,” and got back to work.
‘I hope he’s here. I hope he’s here.’ Buffy repeated over and over as she followed the path she had found him the day before. She held his poem in her hands, and wondered whether to give it back to him. She felt somewhat guilty for reading it. It wasn’t her business and it was an invasion of privacy, something she hated. Her father never let her keep a diary, saying that anything she had to say in there could be told to the person’s face. She had kept one when she was younger, and, while it didn’t say anything very telling, Hank had literally burned it in fury at her disobedience. Dawn kept them, had since she was old enough to write, and Buffy had taken it upon herself to help keep them hidden from their father’s sight. A friend of hers from America, Alexander, or Xander, had called them the Dawnmeister chronicles, because she had so many; literally dozens of notebooks filled with her life. Buffy had never read them for the very moral she had so easily broken with William’s poem yesterday. Sighing, Buffy decided to return it, and tell him the truth. It was enough that she’d read it without adding liar to her guilty conscience. He would probably never want to speak to her again, and he hadn’t even started.
Coming to the bench he had been seated on, her heart sank when she saw no one there. She had hoped so strongly that he would return, and she would get the opportunity to introduce herself before his inevitable hatred prevented her from learning anything more about the handsome stranger with such heartfelt poetry. Okay, maybe he wasn’t Shakespeare, but the emotions she knew were behind them were enough to call it beautiful. She just didn’t want to think of whom those emotions were for.
William walked up to the bench he always sat on, hoping he would have another inspiring day like the one before. He had come to this spot for years, finding it a nice secluded area in the park that was rarely populated by anyone other than himself. Glancing up, he realized that today was quite the exception. There before him, sitting on the bench he always sat on, was a beautiful woman with golden hair and golden skin, thumbing a piece of paper between her fingers. He had to stop walking, as she seemed to be nervously glancing in the opposite direction of him, intriguing him. He couldn’t help himself; he had to speak to her.
“Good day, miss.” Buffy’s head snapped to William, standing in front of her as if he had been watching her for a while. Oh God, he was as handsome and wonderful as before.
“Uh… hi.” She blushed.
“May I ask why you were glancing around so nervously before? You’re not lost, are you?”
“Oh, of course not. I’m just… I was looking… no, I’m not lost.” She stuttered, embarrassed that he had seen her so anxious before. Quickly, she came up with an excuse. “I was being crazy. I thought I heard something earlier. I guess it just gave me a wiggins.”
William’s brow furrowed. “Excuse me? A wiggins? What on earth is that?” He tilted his head to the side, and Buffy thought it was the sweetest thing she had ever seen.
“Sorry. A fright, a scare. It made me nervous. I guess I still have some words to eliminate from my vocabulary. My teacher says I speak in riddles that have no answer. I’m still working out the kinks.”
William smiled, finding her vocabulary very interesting. Walking forward, he asked if he could sit beside her, and she nodded almost excitedly. “On the contrary, I think your words are quite fascinating. It’s rare to find someone who relaxes enough to speak however they want. An American, too, judging by your accent. Have you just moved?”
“With my family a while back. My mom is an artist, and her work got us enough money to leave America.” She hadn’t lied; it was her mom’s work that had gotten them money. She’d just left out her father’s oil fields.
“Do you miss it?”
That wasn’t a question anyone had asked her. Honestly, she didn’t miss that much. Her friends, her home, the familiarity of Sunnydale. But, London was so beautiful, and she still had her sister and mother and her friends had each other. Plus, a letter was sent to them all once a week.
“Not really, I guess. I mean, I miss my friends, Willow and Xander. But, I like it here alright.”
“It must be hard moving away from people you’re close to.”
“You’ve never moved?” William shook his head.
“Same house since I was born. I’ve never even left England.”
“How old are you?” The question was out before she could stop it with the hand slapping to her mouth.
William laughed. ‘I love that laugh…’
“Quite a random question, though, I suppose my own have been strange enough. I’m not yet 25. And yourself?”
“Twenty. I’m sorry, my mouth has a mind of its own.”
“Don’t worry, I find it engaging. Ask me any question you’d like.” They both found it odd that they were so comfortably speaking with a stranger they had only just met, but neither of them questioned it.
“Name?” She wasn’t going to make him think that she knew his name, and getting it earlier would save her from slip-ups.
“William Arlington. And yours?” ‘I’ll bet it’s something I’ve never heard before.’ He’d been finding this woman very unique after only a minute of speaking.
“Eli… uh, Buffy. And just Buffy. That Miss and Missus stuff sounds to old.” She never let people call her Buffy unless they were close to her. But this man had attained her fondness of him before she’d even met him. William was close enough in her book.
“Ah, Buffy. I knew it would be different. Lovely, but unique.” She blushed at his compliment. He looked down bashfully, and saw the paper in her hands.
“If I may…” Sliding it from her hands slowly, so that if she didn’t want him to see it, she had plenty of time to stop him. When she didn’t do anything, he slipped in completely away, unfolding it to see what was on it. What he saw flooded his heart with fear. It was his poem. The one that he’d begun the previous day for Cecily. This girl had found the poem, most likely read it, and was laughing at the author. He clenched his jaw, and shut his eyes tight. If she knew that he had written it, she would probably do the laughing right in his face. Just like everyone else. “Where did you get this?” He asked almost angrily.
Buffy’s eyes were large with distress and a hint of fear that he’d hate her now. She knew that she had to tell him. Things had been so wonderful before. They had chatted comfortably, and she was beginning to learn that the potential for kindness and gentility she had assumed he had was really who he was, and she regretted having ever invaded his privacy. Breathing deeply, she fessed up to William. “I found it yesterday. I- um- I saw you leaving and when I got to this bench, this was on the ground. I guess my curiosity got the best of me. I’m sorry, William, I know how it feels when people bud into your personal things, and, believe me I have berated myself over and over for letting myself do that to such a sensitive writer.”
Still on the defensive, William gave her a hateful and pained glare, causing her to flinch at the stab she felt in her heart. Where was the kind man she’d been talking to for that brief time? He’d gone so cold. Looking down so he wouldn’t see the tears in her eyes, she nodded to herself. She’d known it would come to this. Her affection for him from the first time she’d seen him had grown with every second, until she’d read that poem. Then, she was sure that she could fall in love with him. But the sin that had shown her that had been the very reason she could not pursue that love. He’d only just met her and already she’d proven that he couldn’t trust her. Standing, preparing to walk away, she told him in a quiet, shaky voice, “I’m really very sorry, William. For what it’s worth, I think it’s a beautifully heartfelt poem. I only wished to get to know you, but clearly I have already overstepped my bounds. I’ll not bother you longer.”
She turned away as the tears fell from her eyes. Just as she began walking, she felt a hand gently hold her arm. Looking up, she saw William smiling gently, tugging on her arm slightly for her to sit down. Reassured that there was still hope, she smiled a little, wiped the tears from her face, and returned to her seat. She still couldn’t look at him for fear of seeing that look in his eyes. The icy shards of blue in his eyes had frightened her, she could practically feel the chill of the ice. She never wanted that look directed at her again.
William was reeling. She’d said that she liked his poem. That it was beautiful to her. He didn’t know why it meant so much to him that she thought that of his writing. He just reasoned it away, thinking he just wanted someone other than his mother to praise his work. “Do you really like it?”
Buffy’s head moved up and down, “I don’t know much about poetry, so I’m not much of a judge. But, honestly, when I read that poem, I think I could feel what you felt. Or possibly feel. Or… this is rather presumptuous of me, isn’t it. Assuming to know what you were feeling. Suppose you merely wrote that because they were pretty words. Or maybe I interpreted wrong… I…”
William put a finger to her rambling lips, stopping them immediately. Smiling in amusement, he shook his head at her. “Your teacher certainly knows what he’s talking about. You have quite the talent for speaking for incredibly long amounts of time without breathing. I’m impressed.”
Buffy let out a sigh, a smile on her face again. “Yeah, my mom swears she gets her headaches just from trying to make sense of it. It’s a bad habit I’m trying to break.”
William shook his head, “Don’t break it. I find it adorable.” He tried to hide his bashful expression, hoping to appear charming.
She blushed again, wondering why his compliments made her so bubbly inside. Deciding to change the subject, and to answer a question she’d been wondering about, she asked, “Who’s it for?”
William frowned, not sure why he was hesitant to tell this beautiful woman that he was pining for another. Especially since he was so enamored with Cecily, that he should want to shout it from the mountaintops. Shouldn’t he? Gathering himself, he gave her a smile, hoping it didn’t offend her. “Her name is Miss Cecily Adams.”
Buffy felt her own smile falter as she recognized the name. He couldn’t mean the uppity brunette from across the street who shamelessly flirted with every man with more money than her father. Her William was in love with THAT wench?! Kind, handsome, sensitive William cared for someone as callous and ugly-hearted as the woman who would as soon spit on you as look at you?
“Buffy?” William grew concerned as he observed the red tint to her face. The tightened muscles in her soft features held such repressed anger that he couldn’t help but worry that he had been the one to put it there. “A-Are you alright?”
“What?” She barked unintentionally. As soon as she saw the nervous look on William’s face, her anger drained out of her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. I’m fine.”
“Forgive my lack of tact, but you were fuming, Buffy. I hardly think that “fine” is an adequate description of your state.”
She looked at him, knowing that telling him how much trash Cecily was worth would not be a good way to keep on his good side. “I can’t tell you what’s wrong. If I told you what I thought about your love-interest, I hardly think you’d want to speak to me again. So, I choose to be mum.” She sat down on the bench again, looking at her hands uncomfortably. She wasn’t used to biting her tongue to keep someone happy. She was never known for sparing people’s feelings by not telling them exactly what she thought.
She didn’t look up when William sat next to her.
“Many people think that Cecily is… harsh. But, I’ve learned to look deeper. I believe she’s just hiding behind a façade. No one as cold as she seems could truly be that way. There is an insecurity underneath the heartless woman you see.” William tried to convey his opinion.
She laughed unbelievingly. “Even if she is ‘insecure,’ it doesn’t excuse the way she acts. We’ve all got insecurities. That doesn’t mean we have to treat others like garbage by any means.” She looked up at him. “Don’t you see how she is?”
“I see how she wants to protect herself from rejection or harm. Letting someone in is a dangerous sport, Buffy, and I just know she’s hiding so that she won’t get hurt.” His vehemence worried her, but she kept her mouth closed.
‘Yes, William, it is. But what happens when YOU let HER in, and you find out that she is everything she seems?’ She looked at him with concern as he sighed, seeming to have moved on from the subject of Cecily’s personality.
“I intend to calm her fears of rejection tonight. There is a welcoming party for a family that’s just come from America, and I have no doubt that she’ll be there.” He looked over at Buffy who was watching him with excited eyes. Just as he was about to question her about it, they changed to a wary sort of acceptance.
“Are you sure you want to do that tonight? So publicly?” Buffy found new inspiration when she thought of a way to postpone William’s declaration of love. He wouldn’t get hurt if he didn’t admit how he felt about her. She raised an eyebrow at him as if ordering a response.
William frowned. “That’s not good? I would think that she’d want a man to express his affections even with such humiliating circumstances.”
Buffy inwardly sighed. A man who would sacrifice his reputation for her love? She’d take that any day. But Cecily would not. She would wound the man in a heartbeat to save herself from possible demotion. Buffy had to protect William from that. “It’s hardly a way to romance a girl. A girl like Cecily should be dealt with peacefully and privately. Knowing her, she’d probably start weeping, and we wouldn’t want to embarrass her by allowing herself to break down in front of all those people, now would we?”
“No, of course not! I would never harm her.” William cringed at the thought of hurting Cecily by forcing her to lose control of her emotions at the party. He looked at Buffy, who had a sort of proud look on her face. ‘For my realizations, no doubt,’ he thought.
“When should I do it, then?”
Buffy practically jumped out of her seat with relief. “I suggest you wait until you have a private moment with her. When you do, don’t confess everything all at once. That’s a little overwhelming, let me tell you.”
William looked away, confused at the mixed feelings of jealousy and sadness he got when she said that. “You’ve had suitors who loved you?”
Buffy blushed shyly. “A couple… they both told me they loved me right away. It didn’t work out with either of them.”
“I’m sorry. You deserve more than that. I can already tell after just meeting you what a wonderful person you are. Any man would be honored to have you as theirs.” He didn’t want to think of how much he meant those words.
‘If only you were that man.’ Buffy smiled, telling herself that he didn’t mean himself, and looked into his sincere blue eyes. “Thank you, William.”
He was going to look away, but something about her eyes locked his own in her gaze. The emerald mixed with forest green swirled and blended with the loveliest gold he’d ever seen. He just couldn’t look away. Luckily, she broke his gaze, looking around the area. “Wow, I forgot the time. Do you have a watch?”
William cleared his throat. “Uuh… yes. Let me see…” He reached inside his coat pocket, pulling out the watch she’d seen him use the day before. “My word, it’s almost dinner time. I should have been home by now.”
He glanced at Buffy, who was, if he dared say it, looking a little disappointed as he stood from his seat on the bench. “I’m very sorry, Buffy. But, I promised my mother I would be home in time for dinner. I’m already late, so I must go now.”
“Oh, you live with your mother?”
William cringed. “She has spells where she becomes very ill. I can’t leave her on her own in that condition, no matter that she says it must be ‘hazardous to my reputation.’” He hoped that she wouldn’t mock him. So many people had before, and he really didn’t want Buffy to be like everyone else.
Buffy smiled sweetly. “That’s a great thing for you to do for your mom.” She gazed into his eyes once more before saying, “Well, I should be going, too. I have… piano lessons in a half hour.”
William nodded. She was a wonderful woman. He found that he could very easily talk to her, and he wanted to make sure that he got the chance. He offered hesitantly, “Perhaps we can meet again sometime? Tomorrow morning? It’s a Saturday so I won’t be busy.”
She smiled brightly. “I’d love to see you. Again. Tomorrow’s good. I have no lessons tomorrow. How’s 10?”
“That would be perfect.” William took her hand, and bent to give her a kiss on the back of it. When he stood back up, she was staring at him. “I look forward to seeing you again, Buffy.” With that, he walked away.
Buffy watched him leave, then looked at her hand. He’d just… he… she squealed with delight and jumped up and down like a young girl who’d just had her first kiss. She started her walk home, forming a cycle in which she’d look at her hand, smile, giggle to herself, and then look around to see if anyone had noticed her behavior, before looking at her hand again. Once she got home, she went straight to her bedroom to bathe and prepare for the party.
William was smiling. That was the first thing that Anne noticed. He’d smiled before she’d said hello. Something had happened at the park that had made her boy happy enough to keep a smile on his face, even when he was alone. So, while they were finishing their dinner, she decided to question him.
“Yes, mother?” was the cheery reply.
“Did something happen today?” Anne eyed her son carefully, waiting for a response.
“No, mother. Not something. Someone.” William grinned again. “I met a woman today. Her name is Buffy.”
“Oh?” Anne, surprised and excited that he had found someone else besides Cecily. “Is she pretty?”
William frowned. Was she trying to… “Yes, mum, but that isn’t the point. I made a new friend today, and do you want to know the best part?”
“What’s the best part?” Anne leaned forward, eager to hear about this potential partner for her son.
“She likes my poetry.” William sat back proudly.
“Darling, that’s wonderful! Tell me all about her. I want to know everything.”
“Well, she’s a few years younger than me. She has an amazing talent for inventing words and speaking for lengths of time without pause.” He chuckled… ‘wiggins…’
His mother laughed, also. “Where is she from? Does she live nearby?”
“She moved from America…” He had a sudden thought. “How did you say the Summers family made their money?”
“Hank Summers has oil fields in California. Why do you ask?”
“I was just thinking. The likelihood of two American families moving to the same area at approximately the same time is very low. But, it must be so. Buffy’s mother painted to make enough money to bring them over.”
“Well, this Buffy seems like a unique character. You must bring her over sometime to meet me. Just think if you two were to marry and I had yet to…”
William choked. “Marry? Mother, she’s my friend. I’m not planning to marry her. Have you already forgotten Cecily? The woman I love?”
“William, I was only trying to suggest that you keep your eyes open for another woman. I don’t want you to get hurt if Cecily is in fact not the one you want to spend your life with.”
He shook his head and stood up from the table. “I tell you this every time we have this conversation. I. Love. Her. She is ALL I want, and all that I will pursue. I can’t spread my heart to another just because there is a chance that she doesn’t feel the same way.”
Anne sighed, defeated. “Then tell her you love her. Tell her and get it over with. I’ve had all I can bear of this worry.” She stood, but her weakened state forced her to leaned against the table greatly for support. “I’m tired. I’m going to go upstairs and take a nap. You have fun at that party.”
She walked past his tense form and through the hall to her bedroom. There was no arguing with William when it came to his emotions. If he felt one way, she could not sway him, no matter what warning she gave. In this case, she had tried her hardest. She feared that his feelings for Cecily were consuming him. Should she reject him, William would break. But above all, she feared that he would not be able to mend.
I had a little bit of trouble with that darn William/Buffy scene. DrkDevin helped me a lot, but I still want to know what you guys think of it! Please review!
The First Party by Bekah Leigh
Thanks to everyone who reviewed. I really do love hearing what you guys think! It's so different being the writer and not the reader. I never know what you guys are thinking. Don't know if it's bad or good or somewhere in between... let's just get to the story, shall we?
The day had started peacefully enough. She’d gone to her lessons, even though she was older than a student usually was. She’d met William, talked to him and persuaded him not to admit himself to Cecily at the party. So why, when her father had shown up with a pale dress and demanded she get herself ready for the evening, did she suddenly feel so overwhelmed?
"Elizabeth, come out of there!" Hank yelled for what seemed like the thousandth time to bring his eldest daughter from her dressing room. "I want to see the dress you chose."
"You chose it, dad. Not me." Buffy shouted from behind the door. "I don’t see why I even have to go. It’s not like I’m needed to make you look good," she stepped out of the room as she said this, and into sight of her father’s scrutinizing gaze. She scowled at his expression of distaste.
"You couldn’t make anyone look good in that dress. Honestly, girl, do you try to look like a harlot, or does it come naturally for you?"
Buffy held in angry tears at her father’s bitter words, and responded, "Naturally. I get it from you."
Hank immediately raised his hand to strike, but stopped at the last second when she unflinchingly said, "You really want the guests to see red marks on my face from your ‘discipline?’"
He raised his head proudly, and whispered in a low tone, "Do not think your wicked mouth will go unpunished, Buffy ." He spat the nickname in disgust. "Just because you’re to be a bride to a wealthy businessman in the future, does not mean you are immune to paternal punishment now."
Buffy met his eyes fearlessly. He had never scared her before, and he wouldn’t now. Sure, he might hit her later, but at least she would still have her pride and dignity. It wasn’t like he hit her often. Only when she questioned him as a person did he show himself to be inhuman.
"I expect to see you downstairs in ten minutes, ready to greet the people attending." Hank waved a dismissing hand to his daughter as he walked down the hall, away from her.
Buffy growled. The only thing she had to look forward to was seeing William. Or at least watching William. She’d made the decision earlier that night that he shouldn’t see her. She’d been so honest with him at the park that she’d forgotten to tell him about her father’s lie. She didn’t want him to be angry with her so soon after their first meeting. She’d just tell him tomorrow, and explain everything. Sighing, she went back in her dressing room to put on her gloves, and headed down the stairs.
When she reached the bottom, her sister and mother both greeted her.
"Buffy, you look beautiful." Joyce hugged her daughter close before leaning back to look at her again. "That dress didn’t look attractive at all until you put it on. I even tried to convince your father to return it." She smiled at Buffy. "You make it look like the dress of royalty."
Buffy shook her head. "That’s what dad was going for, right? We’re the richest snobs in all of London?"
Dawn laughed. "Yeah, he gave me this huge broach." She pointed to a three-inch oval hanging from her gown. It was a dark blue color, polished and surrounded by a silver ring. "I feel like I’m going to fall over!"
They all laughed, not noticing Hank walk up. He seemed to be in a better mood, or he was just pretending to be because his wife and coworkers were there. "Are we ready ladies?"
Dawn and Joyce nodded, while Buffy frowned. "Ready for what?"
Hank looked annoyed, but still managed to keep a fatherly smile on his face. "For our introductions of course. We’re to be publicly announced before we mingle with the crowd. Elizabeth, I want you to pay extra attention to Mr. Abrams tonight. He’s already got quite an interest in you, and we don’t want to make a bad impression by ignoring the young man, do we?"
"Wait… we’re going to actually stand in front of everyone to be introduced?" Buffy almost shrieked. "You’ve got to be joking!"
Hank raised his eyebrows. "No, child, I’m not teasing you. You’re going to be on your best behavior tonight, right?"
She nodded silently. This was not working out the way she’d planned. It was simple: avoid William, but keep close enough to see him, talk to Parker long enough to be acceptable, and hide out for the rest of the evening. But if she was going to be introduced to everyone as Elizabeth Anne Summers, there was no way she would be able to hide from William, or keep her secret until the next day.
"Let’s go then." Hank linked his arm with his wife’s, and guided the three girls to the ballroom. Her parents were the first two out, then her sister. She waited for a moment, taking a deep breath, and walked through the door leading to the room. She put on a false smile, looking for William frantically. She searched every head from the front to the back, even double-checking to make sure that that person wasn’t him. She nearly cried in relief when she was unable to find him. But, she was also disappointed.
"Hello. Welcome to our home. It is my pleasure, as well as my family’s, to see you all here tonight. For the rest of the evening, we will make every attempt to meet all of you before the night is over. But, first, introductions are in order. My name is Hank Summers. This beautiful lady next to me is my wife, Joyce." He smiled at her. Walking over to his youngest daughter, he placed a hand on her shoulder, "This is my wonderful young daughter, Dawn."
He looked at Buffy, almost seeming reluctant to go to her. She kept her smile in place, thought her mind was screaming at her to drop it to a frown. Finally, Hank moved to her, taking her shoulder as he had Dawn’s. "And this is my elder daughter, Elizabeth Summers."
After introductions were finished, Hank excused them from the center of the room, and encouraged the guests to enjoy themselves. As Buffy began to step away from the open circle, her hand was grasped in a larger one that guided her into the crowd. She looked into a handsome face that she’d never seen before. "Thank you, sir."
She smiled a friendly smile. It was time to put on the glamour. She put on an air of importance. "May I inquire as to the name of such a kind gentleman?" She looked into his admiring blue eyes, instantly realizing who he was. She tried not to wrench her hand from his when he confirmed it.
"Parker Abrams, Ms. Summers. It’s a pleasure to meet you." He lowered his head, lifting her palm to meet his lips. She thanked God that she was wearing a glove.
"The pleasure is all mine, Mr. Abrams." She politely removed her hand from his grip. His good looks and predictable charm made him seem like a decent man, but there was something… off about him. Looking down at the floor to avoid eye contact, she pondered ways to get away from him. Thinking of her sister, she began, "Well, I should…"
"Please, won’t you come someplace more private so that we can get to know each other?" Parker’s hand was attached to her shoulder before she could protest. She looked behind her, searching hopelessly for a rescuer. He pulled her along through the crowd, and Buffy started to feel a little helpless.
"Mr. Abrams, if we could just stay- oof!" Buffy ran straight into someone while she was looking the opposite direction. After regaining her balance, she apologized. "I’m so sorry, miss. I wasn’t watching where I was… going." Buffy wanted to suck the words back into her mouth. "Hello, Cecily."
"Elizabeth! Might you have been paying attention, this wouldn’t have occurred. You nearly made me spill this champagne all over my dress! Imagine if you had ruined it, and your father had to pay for its replacement. I would have taken great pleasure in your punishment." Cecily was outraged. That much was obvious. But, as soon as she looked at Buffy’s companion, her mood shifted from anger into pleasant.
"Oh, Mr. Abrams! It’s good to see you again. Have you been well?" she flirted. Buffy fought the urge to gag.
"Cecily, are you and Ms. Summers not strangers?" Parker asked in confusion.
Cecily looked at the other girl, at first with contempt, and then she began to laugh. "Elizabeth and I? Oh, we are close friends. I was simply playing around with her before. She’s quite the clumsy one, though, isn’t she? Always spilling things, breaking expensive items… running into people…"
Parker laughed along with Cecily, while Buffy pretended to be interested. Inside, she was fuming. Cecily was shamelessly flirting with the man that Buffy was supposed to be charming. Not that she cared what they did, of course, but just the idea that those two would do a thing like that enraged her. She would gladly leave them to themselves if a certain man were there.
‘You can have him, Cec. You take him, and I’ll take- William!’ She saw him the instant he set foot in the room. He was glancing around somewhat nervously, his eyes searching the room, undoubtedly for the girl he’d come to see. The same girl she was standing right next to! Thinking quickly, she grabbed Parker by the hand and began to tug at him.
"It’s been nice talking to you Cecily, but Mr. Abrams and I were actually just heading to a quieter area. If you’ll excuse us…" she pulled Parker away before anymore was said.
The man attached to Ms. Summers’ hand was very pleased. She was jealous! For what other reason would she have pulled him away from a beautiful woman like Cecily? Still, he’d hoped he could have gotten another word in with the lovely Miss Adams.
Buffy led them to a cushioned bench in a secluded spot of the room, hoping against hope that William hadn’t seen them. She made sure to take the seat facing the front so that she would be able to watch him as he moved about the room. When she found him again, having spotted Cecily and heading toward her, she turned her attention back to Parker Abrams. "Sorry I pulled you away like that… I was feeling a little drowsy, and I thought that it would be better for me to sit down."
"Oh, you’re feeling light-headed? Here, let me get you a glass of water. That might help." Parker eagerly jumped back up, and headed back into the crowd.
Buffy sighed. In a way, she was relieved to be rid of him, but it put her in a position of visibility. She could be easily seen from William’s point of view, and she really didn’t want that to happen. Quickly abandoning the seat, she began her night of spying.
When William arrived, he’d promptly begun searching for Cecily. The amount of people in the room was startling, but he managed to find his love speaking to a dark haired man and a blonde woman. He made his way toward them, noticing how the man and woman rushed away from Cecily as he approached. When he got to his destination, Cecily seemed to be looking around for someone, but he greeted her anyway. "Good evening, Cecily."
She looked sharply at him, hiding her disinterest with a barely there smile. "Oh, William. I didn’t expect to see you here."
He smiled, "Yes, I know I’m not quite as social as I should be. But, I came here on behalf of my mother and I… also heard that you might be here. I thought we could chat a little." William held his breath, hoping for the best.
But his lady seemed distracted by something. "Hmm," was all she said in response. She hadn’t heard him speak, then. He waited for her attention to return to him, but it only seemed to move farther and farther away.
"Cecily! I apologize for that. Miss Summers was just feeling a little dizzy and needed to sit down. Shall we continue our conversation elsewhere?" Parker Abrams brushed past William in his pursuit of Miss Adams. William couldn’t believe the ignorant manner of this man. He looked at Cecily, waiting for her answer.
"Of course, Mr. Abrams. I suppose we should step outside for a while to gain some privacy." She took Parker’s hand and he started to lead her away when she stopped, seeming to have remembered something. "William, I apologize. Mr. Abrams and I have some important matters to discuss, and I’m sure you’ll forgive my early retirement."
"I understand, Cecily. I’ll be sure to catch you after your return." William raised his voice to be sure to reach her ears as by the time he’d finished the statement, she was nearly out of the room. He sighed. ‘At least I’ll have time to work on my poem. That last word has yet to come to me.’ He moved to a seat near a wall, and pulled his notebook and pen from his coat pocket. He opened up the papers to the most recent entry, and began to think of the perfect word to end his poem.
Buffy had had a time of watching the happenings before her. First, she’d seen William approach Cecily. Then she’d seen Parker Abrams push around William in order to speak to Cecily with the excuse of fetching her water. She couldn’t even fathom the guile of a man who would actually lie to the woman he was supposedly marrying in order to speak to another. She ignored the guilty voice in her head, accusing her of her own duplicity. When she’d seen the two depart, and William look around almost helplessly, she’d had to fight the urge to go over to him. Luckily, he’d seated himself a ways away from her, and occupied himself with… was that his poetry notebook? She smiled, amused that this man would think of a party such as this as an opportunity to write. But, since he’d settled himself so well into what he was doing, she was content to just watch him as he thought.
Several minutes later, William seemed to be bumbling with words. She could faintly hear him asking one of the servants for a synonym of gleaming. Amused by his excitement, she giggled a little.
"Has something caught your fancy?" Buffy jerked her head around when she heard the voice behind her. It was Parker, holding a glass of champagne and one of water.
"Oh, Mr. Abrams. I was beginning to wonder where you’d run off to," she lied. She could see the falseness of his smile, the arrogance of his nature as he sat down beside her without permission.
"I’m sorry, Ms. Summers. The way to the drinks was much longer than I intended. I hope you didn’t fret." He handed her the tall glass of water. She wanted to growl at him. She had only just met the man and he was already assuming she would miss him?
"Not to worry. I found ways to occupy my time." Buffy smiled sweetly.
Parker seemed interested. "Tell me, what do you do with your spare time? When I arrived here, I noticed you were watching something. Or someone." He glanced in the direction she had been facing. "Was it the nervous antics of William the Bloody?"
Buffy looked appalled. "Excuse me? William the Bloody?" What on earth could he be talking about? She pinned him with a stare, but he just pointed. When she returned her focus on William, she saw him heading nervously towards Cecily, once again. She was mingling with a group of people, and he joined her.
"He’s such a horrible excuse for a man," she looked back to Parker, anger making her frown. "He’s always going around, muttering strange words, worrying about his mother. And he’s been in love with Cecily since he was a child. She’s been blind to it, of course."
Buffy didn’t even try to hide the rage at the tone of his voice. He had no right to speak about William that way. "Is that so?"
Parker nodded, and grinned sadistically. "A girl like that has better things to do than worry about the feelings of a thorn in her side."
She was just about to tell him her mind, but she was interrupted by an eruption of laughter throughout the room. ‘I wonder what that was about.’
She glanced at William, keeping an eye on him as he sat next to Cecily. She couldn’t clearly see his expression, and she was anxious to know what was happening. She was also worried.
"So, Miss Summers, what do you make of his wonderful choice of words?" He looked at her as if he expected her full attention.
"His… I’m sorry… his what?" She had been distracted by William and Cecily’s conversation, and not paying attention to the insolent man in front of her.
"William’s ‘poem.’ The cause of the laughter a few moments ago. I knew he wrote badly, but I didn’t think he was as pathetic as he’s just proved himself to be." Parker laughed, and Buffy’s heart filled with dread. She turned back around to see William’s tear-filled eyes as he pushed his way through the people to leave. ‘No… no!’
"You know… there’s a reason he’s called William the Bloody Awful Poet." Parker smirked as he said the statement loud enough for William to hear.
Buffy looked at Parker. "You want to know something?" she smiled innocently. When he nodded, clearly thinking that his insults towards William had somehow wooed her, she fought the urge to slap him. Instead, she took the glass of water in her hands and threw it in his face. "You should really stick with Cecily."
Satisfied that she’d gotten her say, she ran out of the ballroom, leaving Parker wet and red faced, and chased after William. She saw him walking hurriedly into an alleyway, so she headed towards it.
It wasn’t a good enough word to say that William was heartbroken. As he sat on the hay bail, shredding up his poem, he found he didn’t really care to define how he was feeling. Yes, he wanted to wallow in it, and curl up in submission, but he didn’t want to know what it was.
He had been humiliated and rejected by the one woman whom he’d given his faith, obviously misguided. He should have listened to his mother. He should have listened to Buffy. They’d both warned him about Cecily. He’d just refused to see it. He’d spent his whole life building up this perfect picture of who he believed Cecily really was, and had been proven wrong in so many ways.
And to think of that awful name that had been created for him. That’s all he was to every one of those people in there. William the Bloody. And they were right. Here he was, crying his heart out, only no one was listening. He was completely alone.
"I’m listening, William." Buffy called out quietly in front of him. She watched as his head shot up in surprise. He probably hadn’t meant to say that out loud.
"Buffy. I’m afraid I’m not very good company right now. It’s best if you go home." William looked back down, trying to secretly wipe the tears off his face.
"I don’t mind if you’re not very good company." She took a couple steps toward him. "I’d like to stay, if it’s all the same to you."
William couldn’t control his response. "It isn’t all the same. I’d like to be alone. Please leave."
Buffy could see right through it, though. Her heart ached for him, and she walked over to him, sitting by his side. "I’d like to stay with you, William."
He looked over at her as if he was about to protest, but he gave a defeated sigh, and looked away from her. She kept a steady eye on him, making sure he knew that she was available to listen. After a few moments of silence, he spoke.
"I should have listened to you. You warned me that Cecily was cruel, but I was too fascinated by my own foolish thoughts of her to pay attention." He chuckled humorlessly.
"William?" Buffy wanted to touch his back, but she wasn’t sure if he’d take it as comfort.
"Things got a little out of hand tonight at the party. I was insipid enough to bring along my notebook, and one of the well-to-do fellows got a hold of the one that you read. He read it aloud to the room, and then mocked it. As if I weren’t there to hear him." William curled his lip.
"Then, Cecily asks me to tell her honestly who the poems were about." He had to hold back tears as he finished. "I couldn’t lie to her. I told her the truth. Everything."
Buffy took his hand. She didn’t say anything for a while, simply offered her support. "I don’t know what you’re going through, but I do know what it’s like to be rejected. Let me help you?"
"You’d do that? Why?"
She just smiled. "I know we’ve just met, but I already think of you as a very close friend. I’d like to help you gain your reputation back."
William laughed. "Buffy, I don’t have a reputation. I never wanted one, and I don’t think I want to have one now. It’s Cecily I want. My Cecily."
She sighed, and her smile dropped. "William, are you sure? I thought you knew by now that she’s not what you believed she was. You still want her?"
William looked at her. "I can’t give up this easily. If I do, I’ll be proving to her that I am what she says."
"What does she say you are?" Buffy asked concerned.
"She said… nevermind. It’s not important." He assured her. "I should probably go home. Mother is expecting me. Will I still be meeting you tomorrow? I’d enjoy another visit to the park, and with you."
"Yes. We can still meet tomorrow. I’d like to talk some more." Buffy and William stood together, and parted ways. "I’ll see you then."
"Goodnight, Buffy." William walked in the direction of his house, and Buffy headed back to the party.
A/N: Thanks to my beta, Devin, who helped me out with this chapter. Please review!
From Passion Toward Passion by Bekah Leigh
I'm baaaaack. BIG thanks to Dev, who's made it incredibly difficult to hide in writer's block world for as long as i have.
Chapter Four: From Passion, Toward Passion, Part One
"William, I wanted to tell you something that I probably should have mentioned when we first met." Buffy practiced as she waited for him to arrive. She was early, having sneaked out of the house at her first opportunity. Her father was keeping a close eye on her since her disappearance the night before. He'd been watching her like a hawk since she'd woken up that morning. But, when he turned around to speak with one of his employees briefly, Buffy had jumped at the chance to escape, not knowing if she'd be able to again. So, she'd arrived at least thirty minutes early, not minding one bit.
"I've got something to tell you." She started again. "My real name isn't Buffy. It's Elizabeth… Elizabeth Summers. Yes, my father's party was the one you attended last night. Yes, I was there. Why didn't I speak to you? I… I guess I didn't want you to be upset with me." Buffy looked down. She could almost see him staring at her with hurt and confusion. She hadn't really thought about the fact that he would be angry with her no matter where they were when she told him. She only hoped that he would give her a chance to explain.
"Buffy. Good morning." William smiled, albeit, a little shyly at her.
"Hi." Buffy timidly replied. She scooted over a little to make room for him. "Please, sit down."
He nodded his gratitude. "Thank you."
They sat quietly for a moment. Both felt the discomfort of the other, and it added to their own. Eventually, neither could bear it any longer. "Buffy…" "William…"
They both spoke at the same time. Laughing, Buffy insisted he go first.
"Ladies first, Miss Buffy." William grinned when she playfully rolled her eyes, the tension from before leaving his body.
"Just Buffy," she said insistently. "And, I have a feeling what I have to say is going to take longer than what you have to say. So, you go first." She interrupted him before he could protest. "By lady's request."
He just smiled and shook his head. "Alright. You win."
"Of course, I do!" She smiled brightly. "Now, go on, talk."
He gave her a look. "So polite…" His teasing ceased as he grew a little more unsure.
"I wanted to apologize for last night. I know I probably seemed like a blubbering imbecile."
"No, you didn't. You sounded like a man who'd been wronged by the woman he loved."
William looked at her. "I still love her, Buffy."
She looked surprised. "Are you sure it's her, or is it the idea of her? You said last night that she was as cruel as I'd warned."
"Yes, I did say that, and it is true. But I can't just hate her now that she's hurt me. Love doesn't end like that. Not real love."
Buffy looked down sadly. "Could have fooled me."
William watched her face, understanding dawning. "Buffy, those two were fools. They wouldn't know love if it smacked them in the face. Any man would have to be deaf, dumb, and blind to not care for you." He took her hand in his, giving it a gentle squeeze.
She smiled and tried to return the gesture, but when she did, a painful reminder of how the rest of her evening went screamed in protest. Her bruised wrist. She'd forgotten. Not able to stop the wince, she could only hope that William hadn't noticed.
But, of course, he had. "Is something wrong, Buffy? Did you get hurt?"
"Yeah… don't worry… it's just my wrist." But he was too busy worrying to listen. He lowered the short lavender glove from her hand and revealed a large hand-shaped bruise circling her entire wrist. Anger swelled within him like he'd never known before. "Who did this to you?"
Buffy knew it was time to tell him. "My father did it. He didn't like something that I did last night. Well, actually, it was a couple of things."
"And what could possibly possess him to hurt you like this?"
She smiled. "I threw a glass of water in Parker Abrams' face for saying something I didn't like."
He laughed. "I think that was a splendid thing to do." But then, as a thought occurred to him, William frowned. "But Parker was at the party last night… you were there?"
"Yes. You see…" Buffy struggled to find the words. She decided to just come out and say it. "My name isn't really Buffy."
At his confused expression, she amended. "Well, my sister and my mom and friends call me Buffy, but my real name is Elizabeth… Summers."
William couldn't believe it. He'd been talking to the upper class woman that Rupert spoke so highly of? The one he'd been sure was just like every other upper class woman he'd ever known. Like Cecily.
But, something else was bothering him. She'd told him that her mother had been a painter. That didn't work out with what his mother had told him. Buffy hadn't told him the truth.
"Why didn't you just tell me that you were a Summers? You didn't have to lie about how you got here." William didn't bother to hide the hurt in his voice.
She looked up at him. "I didn't. My father is the one who's been lying. Even back home, he lied about whose talent it was when my mother's art got sold. I understand, though. A woman would not receive attention for her skills, no matter how good she was. It's just the way things are. But I still hate how he gloats about it. Even when we're alone."
"Your mother really is a painter, then?" William felt a little relieved. But he needed to know one more thing. "What did you lie about?"
Buffy's head swayed back and forth. "It was only a lie by omission. My name is Elizabeth "Buffy" Summers, my mother is a painter, I'm twenty years old, and… okay, I didn't have piano lessons yesterday. I had to get ready for the party."
That made William laugh. She smiled, too, glad that he wasn't angry with her anymore.
"Well, Buffy, aren't we an odd pair?" William shook his head.
"One," he put his hands in his chest, "A social outcast, heartbroken and humiliated by the upper class. And the other," he gestured to her, "An upper class-woman, who lied to the social outcast to be accepted by him."
Buffy giggled along with him. "A perfect match."
When that was said, William stopped laughing, consequently ending hers, and stared at her. "A match?"
Buffy looked down at her hands again. "As friends."
William tilted her chin up. She gazed into his eyes, drowning herself in the ocean-colored depths, and thought that it was the perfect color for him, symbolizing the peace that he made her feel.
William looked into her eyes. Every time he looked at her, she always seemed so interested in what he was saying or doing. He'd never met someone who could devote her attention to one person so well.
Leaning forward, feeling drawn in by his blue orbs, her vision began to blur. If he were to kiss her, it would have been the perfect moment.
William noticed her leaning, and was drawn to it as well. His gaze flickered to her lips, soft and ready for his own. But, he reminded himself, he could not ask of her what he'd asked of Cecily.
"You said you'd help me get Cecily back?" William sat back, scratching his head in a manner that screamed his discomfort.
She blinked a few times, and regained her mind when William spoke again. "How do you propose to do that?"
"…Well…" Buffy hadn't really thought of that part of the plan. She didn't even know why she should be planning. "Can I ask you something, William?"
"Why do you still want her? After the way she treated you, and the way she hangs on to Parker… I don't get why you think she's worth it."
"I don't. I think that making her regret her decision is worth it." William replied, determined.
"And what will you do once she changes her mind? Will you go to her?"
He thought for a minute. "I honestly don't know."
"Okay, then." Buffy stood up. "We'll just focus on making her want you."
Both were silent. Buffy bit her lip thinking hard.
"I've got it. But I don't think you'll like it."
William stood up to look at her better. "Tell me, and I'll tell you what I think."
"In order to make Cecily want you, you'll have to change yourself in public."
"How do you mean?" William didn't know how one could change himself like that.
"I mean, you can't talk about poetry." Buffy flinched, expecting him to be outraged.
"That's all?" William grinned.
"You're not upset?" She hadn't expected that at all.
"I am, but I expected that I would have to set it aside considering last night. The Cunninghams have always loved embarrassing me, especially the son."
"William, it's your passion I'm asking you to leave." He couldn't be okay with that, could he?
"From passion toward passion." Was all he said as explanation.
Buffy threw her arms up in defeat. "Alright. Whatever you choose. But there's more. A Plan B, if you will."
"Plan B?" William asked, confused.
"Just in case that alone doesn't work, I have another idea," Buffy quietly suggested.
William raised an eyebrow. "And what is that idea?"
"You pretend to court me," she muttered.
He coughed. "Pardon me?"
"Well, you know how I'm the daughter of a rich man," she stated with sarcasm and disgust. "If I approve of you, then you must be worth it. I'll tell her about all these funds you have hidden away in a bank somewhere, and she'll be swooning before you know it."
William could not believe it. "You'll lie to her in order to make her think of my money. And what if she finds out I don't have any?"
"She won't," Buffy smiled. "I'll make sure she doesn't even try."
"And you're sure this will work?" William was already having doubts.
"Absolutely. Take me out one night, William, and we'll make Cecily wish she'd never turned you down."
He thought it over, weighing his options. Finally, he looked at the schemer next to him. A small, wicked grin flashed over his features. He had a feeling that her plan could work.
"Miss Summers?" William asked politely, very easily reverting to his proper manner. His grin and eyes turned warm and earnest as he asked, "Will you join me to dinner tomorrow evening?"
Buffy smiled, a fluttery feeling in her stomach. "I'd love to, Mr. Arlington."
Both of them smiling, they linked arms and made their way through the park to finish their chat.
She'd had an easy enough time sneaking away from her father's 'eagle eyes', but sneaking in without being seen was an entirely different matter.
"Ah, ah, ah, Miss Summers. Where do you think you're going?" It was Wesley. Caught.
Hunching her shoulders, and looking entirely pained, Buffy turned around slowly. Once she knew she was under the watchful gaze of her hired chaperone, she attempted to smile. "Hello, Wesley. How are you?"
The man simply shook his head, walking up to her and shaking a finger. "Don't think I'm not onto you, milady. As innocent as your face may be, I know you stole off today while your father wasn't looking. Where were you?"
Buffy's mouth dropped open. He sounded demanding, almost worried, when he'd always been aloof and… for lack of a kinder way to state it… not very good at bossing her around. Seeing his expectant face, she answered him casually. "You know me, Wes…"
He seemed put off by the nickname, and she had to repress a smirk. "I have to get out for some fresh air every once and a while or I start to stuff up…" Looking him up and down, she smiled. "You know how it is."
"Now, Miss Summers, I won't put up with this behavior. Do you have any idea what would have happened if your sister and I had not been able to convince your father that you had taken ill? Imagine what he might've done to her. To me!"
His worried features grew more and more as he continued to speak. She felt guilty that Dawn had had to lie to her father about her whereabouts. If she were to get caught, there was no telling what he would have done to the fourteen-year-old girl. Hank Summers had never laid a hand on his younger daughter, but Buffy wasn't sure how long that would suit him. She couldn't bare it if her transgressions were the start of it.
And poor Wesley. He needed this job to support his wife, Winifred, who was with child. He'd be thrown to the streets if he were found out. And it would be her fault.
"Miss Summers? Are you even listening to me?" She was shaken out of her guilt-ridden thoughts when Wesley's incredulous voice said her name. She readied herself for apology.
"I'm sorry, Wesley. I shouldn't have run off today. I wasn't thinking of you or Dawnie when I left like that, and it was wrong."
Trying to remain angry with the young girl, Wesley frowned disapprovingly at her. But her genuine expression had cracked at his cold exterior, and he found it harder and harder to maintain the stern look he thought he'd mastered. He finally let up, her pout and watery eyes softening him. Cursing, he relaxed his stance.
"Don't let it happen again. You have no idea how much danger your absence has on all of us."
Buffy looked down. "I know."
"And, after your disappearance last night… and what almost happened…"
Wesley's words triggered the images and memories of the previous night, and they flooded her mind. She shook her head and winced, trying to push them away. "Wesley, please."
He saw what his reminder had done to her. Changing the subject, he offered her his arm, and she hesitantly took it. "Come, milady. Let's hurry you on up to your rooms before Mr. Summers returns from his meeting."
They made their way up to Buffy's bedroom, talking quietly about nothing, trying to veer their minds away from the previous night. When they arrived at the door, Wesley began to take his leave when Buffy stopped him.
"There's something else that I wanted to ask you. A friend of mine has invited me to dine with him tomorrow night. Will you be available to come along?"
Wesley felt a surge of brotherly protectiveness combine with friendly intrigue. "Who might this gentleman be?"
Buffy smiled. "William Arlington. I just met him, but he's so wonderful, Wes."
"Ah, how odd that a lady like you should be wooed by the town's own outcast." He chuckled.
She looked at him in mock-surprise, hiding the fact that she really was quite surprised that he even knew how to laugh, let alone make a joke. "Did you just jest at me, Mr. Windham-Price?"
He chuckled a little more. "Though you believe me to be as stuffy as Mr. Giles, I have been known to tell the occasional riddle and rhyme," he pointed out.
"Sure you have." She nodded, unconvinced, then turned to open her door. "And, besides, Giles isn't stuffy. He's old."
"Is that so?"
"Oh yes." She beamed proudly, thinking of her surrogate father. "He let me leave yesterday without a chaperone."
Wesley's throat made a sound similar to choking, and he gaped at her. "He… he wouldn't possibly!"
"So, will you come tomorrow night? Supervise?"
"I… oh alright. On one condition, though." He pointed a finger at his charge.
"Yes, Wes?" she chimed.
Wesley grimaced at the little rhyme, but continued, finding even more motivation to get his next statement across. "Do not under any circumstance call me that dreadful name."
Buffy reached out a hand. "Deal."
He looked at her tiny palm. He was not accustomed to making deals with women. Hesitantly, he took it in his, shaking hands awkwardly. Almost immediately releasing her hand, he moved on. "Go to your room. Your father could appear at any moment."
She nodded and continued inside her room. "Thanks, Wes…ley," she caught herself when he raised an eyebrow.
"Your welcome, milady."
"Dawn? What are you doing in my bed?" Buffy had noticed a heap underneath her blankets, and knew that her sister was hiding there before she'd even gotten close.
The girl in question peeked her sleepy head out from the pile. "I'm glad you're back. I didn't want dad to come in and find out that you weren't here. So, I hid in your bed in case he decided to check on you. He'd think you were sleeping and leave."
Buffy felt once more the guilt of leaving her sister to cover for her. "Dawnie, you didn't have to do that. You could have gotten in trouble."
Dawn got out of the bed and straightened her dress. "Forget about it. Dad wouldn't hurt me. Don't ask me why. I'm the one always misbehaving. I owe it to you for all the times you've taken the fall for me."
The older sister raised her eyebrows suspiciously. "That could possibly be it. What else do you want?"
Dawn smirked. "The details about where you've been running off to the last two days. Is it a guy?"
Buffy tried to hide her smile. She waved a hand at her curious sister as if waving off the question. "Oh, you don't want to hear about this."
"Oh, yes I do. Come on, Buffy!" Dawn begged.
"Okay, okay." They moved to the small sofa that was pushed against the wall next to her bed. "I met someone."
"So it is a guy," Dawn confirmed smugly.
"Yes, I met a really great guy, and we met today," Buffy began. "His name is William and he's a writer."
"Wait… you don't mean the man that Charles Cunningham was making fun of at the party, do you?"
The elder girl looked to the ceiling. "Why does everyone… yes, he is the 'social outcast' of our neighborhood. But, he is a kind gentleman, and he has a talent for putting his emotions into words, even if the words aren't as pretty as they could be. He has emotions."
"I was just going to say that he was kind of handsome, even if I was on the other side of the room."
Buffy gleamed. "He is. He's got the brightest blue eyes you've ever seen. And when he looks at you, it's like you can see everything he's feeling. He doesn't hide it."
"Yeah, Buffy's in love." Dawn grinned, and her sister looked at her dreamily.
"She is." She sighed, and a wisp of a smile appeared on her face. Their moment was interrupted when the bedroom door opened. They both looked warily at the intruder.
"Elizabeth. Feeling better, I assume?" Hank walked into the room, a false air of concern surrounding his form. All three could feel it, and Dawn wondered idly why Hank felt the need to carry on as if he didn't know that his daughters knew he didn't really care.
"Yes, I am, actually." Buffy's smile dropped. "I was a little unsettled. Had a rough night."
"You probably should have kept that water, then. It might have helped." The double meaning was obvious as he took the chair opposite the sofa. Without looking at his younger daughter, he said, "Dawn, why don't you give your sister and me some time alone. You can visit with her after we've talked."
The sisters exchanged looks before Dawn left them, purposely not shutting the door so that she could listen to their conversation.
When Hank saw that she'd left, he spoke. "Have you learned your lesson, Elizabeth? Will you obey me now?"
"What do you want, Hank?" Buffy spat. Any modicum of respect she had for him had completely depleted since the night before. He only chuckled darkly in response.
"I want you out of my life. I want you to marry so that I can finally be rid of you."
She nodded her head. "I want to be gone more than you know. I met someone… at the party last night. He's asked me to dinner tomorrow night."
Hank smirked. "You won't be meeting with him."
"Why not?" Buffy asked, angered.
"After tonight, you won't need to. You're to apologize to Mr. Abrams for your accident at the party."
"What? No, I won't. He deserved it, and I will not apologize for dealing out jus- Ah!" She cried out when he took hold of her sore wrist. He squeezed the injury tightly, knowing just how much pain he caused her.
"Do you want a repeat of last night, girl? You will go to him. You will ask his forgiveness and hope that he still wants a wretched girl like you."
"And if he doesn't?" She took whatever outlet she could.
"He will. You'll make sure of it." Hank squeezed as hard as he could before letting her go. "Unless you want to be punished."
Buffy ignored his last comment. She ignored the tears flowing from her eyes, and she ignored the tremor in her voice as she asked, "Why him? If you want me gone so badly, why does it have to be a man that I hate, and who probably hates me just as much?"
Her father made his way out of her room. "Because I finally found a man who's willing to take you from me, abhorrence or not, and I'm not going to lose that chance."
She rushed to his side, angry and desperate to find another way. "It doesn't have to be him, though. Can't you bear to live with me for just a little longer? A month, maybe. Give me the chance to find someone for myself, and I will."
"We've already discussed this. You've had two chances and failed to keep either one. I don't have very much faith in your promises of quick matching. Besides, I can't have my eldest daughter choosing whom she'll marry. Knowing the one I have, he'll end up being a streetwalker's pander."
Buffy bit her lip, once again forgetting about his snide comments and focusing on how to get herself out of this mess. She was running out of ideas. She thought fast, though, and a very good argument popped into her mind. "You want to be rid of me? To never see me again?"
Hank sighed longingly at the thought. "Precisely."
"But, if I were to marry Parker, you would have to see me all the time. Considering that he's a business associate of yours, you'll see him quite a bit," she pointed out. She could see that she was catching his attention, and got to the point. "With his trophy bride right along side him."
She'd had hopes that this last attempt would work, but they faded the moment Hank began to sneer. "I am not so old as to have let that detail pass me by. But, I have chosen to bare it. He'll soon have you trained and pampered to what you should have been years ago. I would no longer have to look at you as my daughter. When you are married to Mr. Abrams, you will be a trophy bride in my eyes, and no more."
Buffy was depleted of any optimism. All she could do now was ask him, "How could you do this to your own child? After all I've done for you. I took care of mom and Dawn when you were gone for days at a time without warning. I made sure that no one ever found out about those paintings not being yours. I protected your secret, for the sakes of Dawn and mom, and this is how you repay me."
Hank snorted derisively. "You also scorned the family name. You acted out of your class's propriety by fooling around with those street rat friends of yours… Widow Rosenburg… or whatever her name is… and, of all people, the town drunk's son."
"Her name is Willow," she corrected him through gritted teeth. "And Xander isn't a bad guy just because his father's problems. He's a carpenter, and he's been making good money these days."
"Elizabeth, trash is trash. You can call it anything you like, but you still throw it away. You don't take it with you to the park." Hank reproached.
Buffy folded her arms across her chest, looking away in disgust at the man she called Father. "The pot's calling the kettle black," she muttered quietly in a singsong voice.
Apparently, she judged from the harsh pain across her cheek, she hadn't spoken quietly enough.
"You will hold your tongue. Or I will make you hold it."
She put a hand to her wounded face, testing the tender skin for the pain level in an absent manner. It hurt. More than she was willing to bear receiving again. Silently, she looked back at her father with hatred in her eyes. She simply stared at him this way and did nothing more, waiting for him to say what he wanted to say.
"You will see Mr. Abrams tonight for dinner and you will use your… physical charms if nothing else to sway him to take you as his wife. You have no choice but to win his affections. If you do not succeed…" he let her finish the sentence for herself.
Buffy had to literally bite her tongue to keep herself from speaking out against her father's threat. She took a few moments to control her anger. "If I do this, will you allow me one thing?"
Hank smiled in a manner that was probably intended to be fatherly, but instead looked malicious. "When you secure a future with Parker, I'll be more than happy to grant you one thing."
No matter what he demanded of her, she had to see William. Of course, she couldn't tell her father that. "Can I go out tomorrow evening? I'd like to do some shopping so that I can look my best for any future outings with Parker."
"I don't see why not. If you are to look suitable for Mr. Abrams, then you'll need to buy several gowns. I'll give Wesley enough money for you to purchase a few. Think of this as a parting gift." Hank's eyes glittered almost gleefully when he said 'parting.' It made Buffy want to roll her eyes.
"Thank you, father." Buffy looked down so he wouldn't see the anger and annoyance in her face that went along with the anger she couldn't hide in her voice. She wouldn't be shopping the following night. She would be seeing William. When her father left the room, she lifted her head with a new determination to see that Mr. Abrams would remain hesitant, and she would be able to help William.
Her father wanted her to do her best to impress Parker. He'd see her marry that scum before seeing her love a man of any less social or business reputation. Well, she wasn't going to destroy her chances of happiness because he wanted her to make him look good. In fact, she was going to make it so Parker wouldn't want anything to do with her. Tonight, she'd do her worst.
A/N: Thanks EVERYONE for being patient! I know how horrible I've been with the not updating… and this here is just a rewrite of a chapter you've already read lol. But, I'm working hard on the next chapter, and Devin's keeping me from hiding, whether he's doing it on purpose or not lol. So… whatcha think?
*Credit to Dev for the line 'a wisp of a smile appeared on her face.' :) Thank you, sweety!
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.