By Katherine Givens
Originally published in the Daily Love.
Several instants passed as the two studied each other’s features. Both seemed to want to take note of what the other looked like, as if they were doomed to only look upon each other once and go for the rest of eternity with just this one shared moment.
Being the first to speak, Charles said, “Did you receive my last letter?”
“I finished reading it only moments ago.”
“I broke my engagement with Flora,” he said lamely.
“Yes. She wrote a letter to me explaining her…disappointment, but she has found a New Yorker she is determined to marry.”
“I am glad she has found solace.”
“Yes. She recovers quickly.”
Another awkward silence fell over the room. Tension laced the air. Both had much to say. Both feared expressing their emotions.
Henrietta was the first to speak. “Do you truly love me?”
Charles gave her a sheepish grin. “I traveled across war torn countries and a body of water as if the devil was at my heels to just see you. If that is not love, I do not know what is.”
She shared in his smile at the wry humor. “I suppose it does.”
He took a few steps towards her. “What about you? Do you reciprocate my love?”
Henrietta stood from her seat by the table and came to Charles’ side. Lifting a hand to his face, she lightly caressed his scar. “I do. I love you. I struggled in vain for the past few months to deny myself this.”
Grasping her hand, he turned her hand over and kissed her palm. “I chose the wrong sister last time. This time I mean to make you mine.”
Her heart was near bursting. “Then make me yours.”
“I will court you properly. In a few months time, I shall approach your father and ask for your hand.”
“Without consulting me?” asked Henrietta, hating to be treated like an object.
Charles smiled. He pulled a ring out of his coat pocket and bent down on one knee. Looking into Henrietta’s eyes, he asked, “Will you marry me?”
She could only manage to nod, tears glistening in her eyes. Charles slid a silver band decorated with ten diamonds onto her ring finger. “A diamond for every month we wrote to each other,” he noted.
Charles stood, never releasing her hands. “We shall keep our engagement secret for a while. At least until Flora is married to her American so that we could save her from any embarrassment.
Thankful for his considerate nature, Henrietta said, “That eases my guilt. Thank you.”
Not wasting another moment, Charles did what he had dreamt of for the longest time. He lowered his head and kissed her. Henrietta’s arms entwined around his neck. Charles pulled her closer, never wanting to let her go now that they were together.