An Undeniable Passion Ch. 13


"But Ginny, I need your advice on what will look good on me," Billy said desperately, his eyes pleading with her not to leave.

"I'm sure Miss Robbins will find you a hat that will make you look very handsome," she replied as she went looking for dress patterns.

She looked over at Billy and Elizabeth every once and awhile and noticed them both alternately staring and looking away from each other and blushing a great deal. My sweet Billy is falling in love she thought. Her happiness for Billy was momentarily overshadowed by thoughts of Drake. She had thought that he had been falling in love with her but she had been so wrong. She had been so busy the last few weeks hoping that hard work would keep thoughts of him at bay but she still found them intruding when she least suspected it.

With Elizabeth's help, Billy found a very nice hat. All the way back to the farm in the cart he couldn't stop talking about her. "Did you see how blue her eyes are Ginny? I've never seen such beautiful eyes. Like the sky on a perfect summer day. And her hair. I'll bet it's so soft you could barely feel it. Oh, and did you hear her talk? She has the most lovely voice."

Virginia began to laugh. "Billy, I swear, you sound like you're in love."

He sighed deeply and replied, "I think I am, Ginny, I think I am."

That afternoon, they again climbed the stairs to the attic. They spent a couple of hours cleaning one of the old servant's rooms, preparing it for Virginia to sew in. Billy helped her haul in the trunks full of fabric from the attic along with a large table, and she set about organizing the small room. She selected the fabrics she wanted for the dress she was to make for the Ogilvy's party and stashed the remainder of it in the next room.

She spent the rest of the week in the attic working on her dress. She had never made a dress from scratch before and was looking forward to the challenge. She figured if she ran into any trouble she could always take it to the dressmaker when they returned to town for Billy's fitting.

The day before the trip to the tailor's Billy was nervous and fidgety. Trying to appear casual but unable to hide his nervousness he asked Virginia, "Will we be running any other errands while in town?"

Guessing that he wanted to go to the mercantile to see Elizabeth, Virginia teased, "I'm not sure. Is there anything we need?"

"Well, I can't think of anything off the top of my head, but I thought maybe you might need some things for the dress you're making. Thread...or something."

"Yes, I do need some things like thread and pins and some other items. I wonder where I could pick that up?" She glanced at Billy. "Perhaps the dressmaker might sell me some."

Struggling to sound casual he said quickly, "I think I saw those sorts of things at the mercantile. We could go there."

Unable to suppress a smile she said, "You sound eager to go to the mercantile, Billy. I wonder why?"

Not able to keep up the charade any longer, he finally exclaimed, "I have to see Miss Robbins again, Ginny. I can't stop thinking about her."

"We can go to the mercantile. Why don't you invite her to the house for tea? That would be a lovely way for you to get to know her better."

Billy looked horrified. "But what if she says no? What if she laughs at me?"

"From what I saw last week, she's as taken with you as you are with her."

"Really?" he asked in disbelief, a blush creeping into his cheeks.

The next day, Billy dressed with care before heading into town. Virginia actually needed quite a few things so, armed with a list, they set off in the cart. They first went to the tailor for Billy's fitting. The suit was indeed going to look very smart. He was nervous and fidgety the entire time, causing the tailor to accidentally stick him with a pin more than once.

They walked into the mercantile, causing the bell to jingle over the door. Elizabeth walked up to the front counter and froze as she saw them enter. Her eyes locked with Billy's and for a few moments they both seemed oblivious to anything around them. Virginia gave Billy a gentle nudge and he walked over to her.

"Good morning, Miss Robbins. How are you?" he asked nervously.

"Good morning, Mr. Forrester. I'm well, and yourself?" she asked shyly.

"Oh, I'm well too. Thank you for asking." Searching for something to say he continued "My cousin, Virginia, needed some things. She's making herself a dress."

"Does she require any help?" she asked, looking over Billy's shoulder at Virginia.

Approaching the counter, she said, looking at her list," There are quite a few things I need, so if you could help me that would be wonderful."

As Elizabeth guided Virginia about the store, helping her find and select things they began chatting. Virginia was telling her about how they had arrived just a few weeks before and had spent most of their time fixing and cleaning up the house and thus hadn't had a chance to meet very many people yet. Billy was following at a discrete distance, unable to take his eyes off the lovely girl. Virginia leaned over to her and whispered, "My cousin is really quite taken with you. He wants to invite you to tea but is too shy. He's afraid you may laugh at him."

Shyly Elizabeth replied, "I think he's very handsome and I would most certainly not laugh at him. I would love a chance to get to know him better."

"Why don't you give him some encouragement? Go talk to him, I can find the rest of these items myself."

Elizabeth nervously turned from Virginia and walked over to Billy. Emboldened by Virginia's words she said, "Have you worn your new hat yet, Mr. Forrester?"

"Um, no. I'm saving it for a dinner party we've been invited to."

"Who's hosting it?"

"The people on the farm next to ours. Ogilvy, I think is his name."

Blushing, Elizabeth said, "My family has been invited to the dinner as well. I'll see you there."

"Why that's wonderful!" he exclaimed happily.

"Yes, it is," she said looking into Billy's eyes.

Encouraged by her words and the way she was looking at him, Billy nervously cleared his throat and said, "Would you like to come out to our farm for tea on Saturday?"

Softly she said, "Yes, I would love to"

Billy beamed a bright smile. "Really?"

"Yes," she said smiling back.

Virginia looked down the aisle and saw them smiling and talking. Things appear to be going well, she thought.

On Saturday, Elizabeth arrived for tea with her mother. Introductions were made and they enjoyed a very pleasant afternoon. Virginia was showing them around the ground floor of the house and was standing in the ballroom discussing how terrible the place had looked when they first arrived and the amount of work required to make it inhabitable. Billy and Elizabeth were standing at the other end of the long room. Mrs. Robbins said, "Elizabeth is really quite taken with your cousin. He seems like a fine young man."

"Yes, he is. You have nothing to worry about Mrs. Robbins, he's every inch the gentleman."

The day came for them to go the dinner party at the Ogilvy's. They had received a formal invitation a couple of days after Doris' visit including directions on where her brother's house was located.

Billy was nervous as Virginia helped him to straighten his jacket. The blue velvet suit with the braided trim looked wonderful on him. He fingered his tricorn, turning it over and over in his hands.

"You look very handsome, Billy. Very grown up and sophisticated," Virginia said with a smile.

"Thanks Ginny. You look very pretty. Your gown turned out very nicely."

She did a turn and said, "Yes, I think it did too. For my first attempt at a full garment, I'm very pleased with myself."

Billy held out his arm for her, "Shall we go?"

Even though the cart did have a detachable cover it wasn't very warm and as they rode along. "Maybe we should look into acquiring a proper carriage. Although they're probably rather expensive," she sighed, pulling her shawl about her shoulders.

Drake had been very generous with the money he had left Billy, but he was sure it wasn't enough to buy a carriage. Maybe when Drake returned he could ask him about one. "How long have we been here Ginny? Six weeks?"

She thought a moment and then said, "Yes, that's about right. Why do you ask?"

"Just wondering," he replied.

"Do you miss Liverpool?" she asked.

"No, actually I kind of miss being on the ship. They're probably getting close to England by now. Do you miss it, Liverpool I mean?"

"Yes, I miss Liverpool," she replied. "I miss my friends and the familiarity of it. My father passed away shortly before I left so I don't have any family, but I still miss him."

"I'm sorry, Ginny, I didn't know."

"Thank you," she said. Brightening she continued, "Look at us getting all somber before a party. We should cheer up." Nudging him she said playfully, "Miss Robbins is going to be there. She'll be all dressed up and I'll bet she'll be even prettier than before."

With a blush he said, "I don't know if that's possible. She's already the prettiest thing I've ever seen."

They pulled up in front of the Ogilvy's house. A footman was there to take their cart. Billy and Virginia stood for a moment in front of the mammoth house. "It's a mansion," Virginia murmured. "It's bigger than Charles' house."

"Charles?" Billy asked.

It was the first time she had mentioned him since telling Drake why she was on his ship.

"He was my fiancé in Liverpool. He was one of the reasons I left. I'll tell you all about it some day. Let's go inside."

They presented their invitation to the butler who led them to the ballroom, where the guests where mingling. Doris spotted them immediately and approached them.

"I'm so happy you were able to come," she said gaily. "That is an exquisite gown, Miss Templeton. And Mr. Forrester you look very handsome indeed."

"Thank you for the compliment and thank you again for your generous invitation. Your home is very impressive. I hope you'll have time to give me a tour later," Virginia said.

"Certainly, my dear. These parties sometimes go on for hours after dinner is over. You must come meet my brother, he's the real host this evening."

She led them to other end of the room to a small group of men chatting. She touched one of them on the sleeve and an attractive man, about forty years old turned to her. He was slightly taller than Virginia with light brown hair and dark gray eyes. He had a slim build but his posture conveyed a quiet strength. Turning his gaze to Virginia he seemed momentarily transfixed, staring deeply into her big green eyes.

"Thomas, I would like to introduce Miss Virginia Templeton and Mr. William Forrester. They're cousins and just recently bought Otis Green's farm next door."

"Ah yes, our new neighbors," he said with a smile. His deep voice flowed smoothly with a hint of southern drawl. He shook Billy's hand and raised Virginia's hands to his lips. "It's a pleasure to meet you," he said in a low, intimate voice. Keeping his eyes locked on hers, he placed a lingering kiss on her hand. A small shiver ran down her spine as she gazed into his cool gray eyes.

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