An Undeniable Passion Ch. 14byopels©
At that moment Doris looked towards the entrance to the ball room and said, "Oh, the Robbins' are here. Please excuse me."
Billy started and slowly turned. He saw Elizabeth as Doris greeted them. In her party dress with her hair pulled up she was even prettier than before.
Thomas, noticing Billy's awestruck gaze, gave Virginia a quizzical look.
"Billy is rather taken with Miss Robbins. We've made numerous trips to the mercantile on fictitious errands just so that he can talk to her," Virginia said smiling fondly at him.
"Ginny, look at her. She is even more lovely than before," he said not taking his eyes off the object of his affection.
"Go talk to her. Maybe I can persuade Doris to ensure that you two sit together at dinner." When Billy didn't move, she gave him a small shove. "Go on."
He slowly walked over to her. Halfway across the floor she noticed him too and they were both drawn to the other.
Virginia laughed lightly as they greeted each other. "Isn't it sweet?" she said to Thomas.
"She seems quite taken with him as well."
"Yes, I do believe she is," she agreed.
"Will there possibly be a wedding in the future?"
"I wouldn't be surprised," she said happily.
Turning to her, Thomas said, "And what of you, Miss Templeton. Have any men in town attracted your attention?"
Blushing at the question, Virginia replied, "No, Mr. Ogilvy. I've been too busy readying the house for that sort of thing. You should be glad that Mr. Green didn't sell it to you. It's taken Billy and I a full five weeks just to make it inhabitable."
"I take it Otis wasn't much of a housekeeper, then," he said with a smile.
Laughing, she said, "No, he most certainly was not. I'd like to know what he was doing in that house to cause such grime and filth," she said, her nose scrunching in distaste.
Doris had told her brother about how lovely Virginia was and he was certainly agreeing with her. He had made sure that Doris seated them together at dinner. "I believe that we are seated together at dinner tonight, Miss Templeton," he said to her.
"Oh, are we? That will be nice," she replied.
"Yes, I think it most definitely will be very nice indeed, " he replied, his voice again dipping to an intimate level.
Virginia caught the flirtatious tone of his voice and turning her attention away from Billy, she saw the interest in Thomas' eye. She blushed at the unexpected turn of events and shyly looked away.
She managed to later whisper a suggestion in Doris' ear and noted that Billy and Elizabeth were indeed seated together at dinner. And on her right was Thomas, who was most attentive.
He was fascinated by the crossing from England and Virginia had to make up a story about coming over on a modestly luxurious passenger ship. She most certainly was not going to tell anyone about stowing away aboard a ship and then having an affair with the Captain. She still wanted to marry someday and having that become common knowledge would certainly ruin her chances.
"How long have you been in Williamsburg?" he asked.
"Just six weeks," she replied.
"And you bought Mr. Green's farm. That was rather quick."
"We just happened to be in the court house as the notice was being put up," she explained.
"Ah yes, he did advertise it, didn't he?" His voice had taken on a hard edge and seeing the puzzled look on her face, he smiled and continued, saying, "I'd been trying to get him to sell me the farm for over a year, so I was a little distressed to discover that he hadn't contacted me when he decided to sell. I can tell you quite frankly that I didn't get along with Mr. Green very well, so perhaps I shouldn't be surprised when he didn't tell me."
"Yes, well, he did seem to be a rather unusual man," she said, unsure of how to respond.
"Doris said that you both seem like very nice people and I'm glad the place went to someone deserving. The soil is excellent and I had just been hoping to expand my operations a bit," he said casually.
"Yes, Billy said that the soil was very good. I'm afraid I don't know much about farming, I'm going to be learning quite a bit over the next couple of years," she said with a laugh.
"Have you given the farm a name? It hasn't had one in recent memory and Mr. Green didn't bother."
"Yes, we decided on Aurora."
"Aurora? That's unusual. Where did you get that name from?"
"Aurora is the Goddess of the Dawn. She blew out the stars to begin the day, clearing the path for the Sun God, Apollo. Billy used to be a sailor and that's the name of the ship he crewed on."
"Well, if you ever need any help you just let me know," Thomas said.
During dinner in the massive dining room, a small orchestra had been setting up in the ball room. Thomas announced that there was to be dancing after dinner.
To Virginia he said "I hope that you will save a dance for me."
"I would be delighted," she replied.
She glanced down the table at Billy and Elizabeth. They seemed to be in a world of their own, oblivious to the other guests seated around them. They were speaking in hushed tones and alternating between gazing at each other and looking down at their plates, blushing. Virginia smiled, happy for the two of them.
As everyone rose from the table to adjourn to the ball room, Thomas extended his hand to Virginia, helping her up from the table. He did not release his hold of her hand though, and guided her into the next room. The orchestra started up and they began dancing. At first they were the only ones on the floor and she felt very self conscious, however, soon other couples joined and she was more at ease. She was now able to devote her attention to her dance partner.
"You dance very well," Thomas complimented her.
"Thank you," she replied. "You're also very good."
He was effortlessly gliding her about the dance floor, staring into her eyes. She returned his gaze, thinking that if she had been dancing with Drake she would have been lost in an instant. The memory of the last dance she had shared with him came rushing back to her. How that night had ended so wonderfully, so magically, only to have the morning bring such cruelty. The remembrance was so vivid and so painful that she stumbled and stepped on Thomas' foot.
"Oh, I am so sorry!" she exclaimed.
"Quite all right. No damage done." He looked into her eyes and saw the pain in them. "What is the matter?" he inquired gently.
"Nothing, I'm all right," she said quickly, lowering her eyes.
"Please, you can tell me," he gently urged.
She hesitated before saying, quietly, "The last time I was at a ball, I danced with my father and he died just recently. The dancing brought back memories is all." It's not entirely untrue she rationalized to herself. The dance on the ship certainly wasn't a ball, and I didn't say the memories were of Father.
"Would you rather we stop?" he gently asked.
"Yes, if you wouldn't mind. Just for a little while."
"I don't mind in the least." He walked her over to a chair, where she sat down.
"Would you care for a glass of punch, or perhaps a glass of wine?"
"Oh, just punch would be fine, thank you."
While Thomas was gone, Doris appeared and sat next to her. "I think my brother is quite taken with you, Miss Templeton," she said with a happy giggle.
"I'm sure he's just being an attentive host, seeing as how we're now neighbors," she replied modestly.
"No, I think it's more than that." She glanced at Virginia and asked "What do you think of him? He's rather handsome, don't you think?"
"He's very charming, and yes he is handsome," she agreed.
"Oh, he's coming back, I'll leave you two alone," she said rising from her seat as Thomas approached.
He handed her the glass of punch. "Are you feeling any better?" he asked.
"Yes, yes I am, thank you," she said, sipping the fruity pink liquid.
She vowed not to think about Drake, Charles or her father for the rest of the evening, and also vowed that this would be a party that she would not have any bad memories of afterwards.
She managed for the most part to succeed and began to enjoy herself. After a particularly long time out on the dance floor, she sought out Doris. "Miss Ogilvy, you promised to give me a tour of your lovely home. Would now be a good time?"
Doris looked around and seeing that everyone was entertained and was enjoying themselves, she said, "Most certainly. I'll just let Thomas know where we've disappeared to."
She located her brother in the crowd and spoke with him briefly before rejoining her. "You may wish to bring your wrap, dear, the remainder of the house will be rather chilly as there are no fires lit."
The house was indeed large and soon Virginia was completely lost. They were making their way down a corridor when she asked, "Miss Ogilvy, how long did it take you to get used to this house? I must confess, I'm completely lost!"
"Oh, it did take quite some time, I must admit," she said laughing. "I used to wander about for hours trying to find my way!"
The corridor met with another at its end and she could hear the orchestra. Looking down to her right she could see the lights from the ballroom. "Goodness, we're almost back where we started!" she exclaimed.
Doris laughed at her surprise and guiding her down the left arm of the corridor she said, "I'd like to show you the library. It's really quite extraordinary."
The library was indeed impressive. The room was very large and the shelves were full of leather bound books. The walls were papered in a dark wine color and the windows were covered with heavy, black, velvet draperies and several leather chairs and couches were scattered about in front of a mammoth fireplace. Despite the size of the room and the severity of the color scheme, she found it to be a cozy place. After all the dancing and walking through the large house, she suddenly felt in need of a rest. "Do you mind if we rest for just a bit?" she asked.
"No, not at all," Doris replied sinking into one of the chairs.
Virginia sat on the couch. Leaning back she took in a deep breath. "I really must thank you again for inviting us tonight. I used to attend balls and parties quite regularly in Liverpool and I forgot how much I enjoy them," she said wistfully.
"Did you have someone to attend them with?" Doris asked suggestively.
"Well, I attended them with my best friend and my father. But before I left I was engaged to a man who would join us," she said.
"You were engaged?" she asked, clearly surprised.
"Yes, I was," she said quietly, looking down at her hands. "He was from a very wealthy and powerful family, so naturally my father was overjoyed. However, at a party one night, I discovered that he was unfaithful. It was one of the reasons I left and came here."
"Oh you poor dear," Doris said, joining Virginia on the couch. She put her arm about her shoulders and gave a gentle squeeze. "Perhaps you'll have better luck here," she said suggestively.
Knowing that she was referring to Thomas, Virginia was surprised to find herself blushing.
At that moment, he appeared in the doorway. "I thought I would find you in here," he said. "The Baker's are leaving and are looking for you. They would like to say goodbye."
"Oh, yes. We were just chatting away and I forgot all about my hostess duties," she said, all flustered. She rose quickly and Virginia joined her on her way out of the room. They were halfway down the corridor when she realized she had left her wrap in the library. Assuring Doris that she could find her way back easily she went to retrieve it.
Thomas was still in the room when she walked in. "I left my wrap," she said by way of explanation. She quickly walked to the couch to pick it up, but it was no longer there. Puzzled she said, "I was sure I had left it in here."
She was looking about at the other chairs, when Thomas said, "I have it. I noticed that you had left it behind and I was going to return it to you." He held it out to her.
With a sigh of relief, she walked over to him and took it from his hand. "Thank you."
She turned to leave when he said, "Miss Templeton, before you go."
Uneasy that she was away from the party with him with a chaperone she turned to face him "Could we please talk on the way back to the ballroom?"
"This will only take a moment," he replied.
Nearing her he said quietly, "I was not expecting to be so enchanted this evening. My sister had mentioned that you were very beautiful but I thought she was exaggerating. Not only have I found that she was being truthful but I have also discovered that you are very charming as well. I should like to get to know you better. I know this is rather unconventional but since you don't have a guardian to ask, I must ask you. May I have the pleasure of calling upon you? Perhaps, later this week?"
Surprised yet pleased by his eloquent words, Virginia found herself saying, "Yes, Mr. Ogilvy. I would be very happy to have you call. I will contact you later this week with a date."
Smiling broadly, he sighed with relief. "Splendid," he said. "Shall we rejoin the party?"
They managed to slip back into the still-crowded room unnoticed. It would not do for her to have her reputation ruined before she even had time to establish a good one by having rumors circulate that she was in the library with the host unchaperoned.
She scanned the crowd for Billy and saw him dancing with Elizabeth. They were laughing a great deal and it was quite clear that she was teaching him the steps. Virginia couldn't help but smile at them.
Eventually it came time for them to leave. Virginia was exhausted and since the Robbins' had just left, Billy was also ready to go home. They again thanked Doris and Thomas for a lovely evening and left to wait for their cart.
As soon as they were outside, Billy began talking about Elizabeth. "Did you see how pretty she was tonight, Ginny? I've never seen anything prettier in my whole life. Her dress was so beautiful. Did you see it? And her hair, her hair was so pretty. It was all I could do to not touch it. And she taught me how to dance. Well, a little anyway. Could you teach me more? I'd like to surprise her next time. And she's so sweet and nice. And smart too. She's been to school and knows all sorts of things."
Virginia just smiled and let him ramble on. She was delighted by his romance. However, it made her realize how lonely she was. Without Violet, her father or even Lucy she really had no one, other than Billy, to talk to. What she really needed was a female friend. Someone like Violet, who she could trust with her innermost secrets. She could tell Violet all about what happened with Drake on the ship and she would be delightfully shocked and would want all the details but she could be trusted to not tell anyone. As nice as Doris was she didn't think she could trust her completely and Elizabeth was far too young and naïve to understand the cause of her loneliness. She looked over at him. He knew, or at least she thought he did, about her affair with Drake. If she ever appeared lonely or sad, he must be able to guess the reason. She shook her head, it would be thoroughly inappropriate to discuss such a thing with him.
Virginia and Thomas agreed on the following Wednesday for his visit and was delighted to find herself nervous and excited about it. She had everything ready to make tea for when he arrived and she walked through the sitting rooms and paced back and forth in the foyer waiting for his arrival. She caught Billy watching her with an amused expression.
"What is so funny?" she asked him.
"You," he replied with a laugh. "You're so nervous. Come sit down before you wear a path in the floor."
Flopping into one of the chairs in the front sitting room she admitted that he was right. "I am nervous Billy. And a bit excited too. A little attention from an attractive man is just what I need."
"You think he's attractive?" he asked.
"Oh yes, he's very handsome, and very charming too. He seems like a very nice man."
"You don't think he's a bit old for you?"
"Well, yes, he is a bit older, but then that just means he's more refined, more sophisticated."
At that moment they heard a carriage arriving.
Billy peered out the front window. "It appears your refined and sophisticated gentleman has arrived."
With Billy acting as chaperone, they spent a very pleasant afternoon together. Virginia gave Thomas a tour of the main floor of the house. He asked to see the upstairs, but when she shyly mentioned that there were only bedrooms up there, he inquired further. "What about the dormer windows in the roof? Where do they look out from?"
"Oh, those are just old servant's quarters. And the attic is behind them, facing the back of the house," Virginia replied.
"Is there anything up there?" he asked.
"Oh yes, there's quite a lot. Furniture and a good many trunks and crates. We haven't had a chance to look at everything yet. Although I did find quite a few exquisite bolts of fabric. Billy is going to make me a sewing room so that I can while away the dreary winter months making some gowns for myself."
"Ah yes," he said. "Well if you need any help organizing things just let me know. I would be glad to help."
Virginia looked at him with surprise. "You, rummaging around in a dusty old attic?"
"Yes, it appeals to my boyish side, I suppose. It would be almost like a treasure hunt. You never know what you'll find in some of these old attics." Lowering his voice to a theatrical whisper he said, "You know, there are rumors that your house used to belong to privateers who raided British and Spanish ships during the early part of the century. They completed quite a few of those raids before their own ship sank in a dramatic battle where the whole crew drowned at sea." Raising his eyes to the ceiling he continued, "Who knows what's up there?"
Staring up at the ceiling as well, Virginia said aloud with wonder "Privateers. My, my."
As he was leaving he again kissed Virginia's hand and told her how much he had enjoyed the visit.
Shyly, Virginia replied, "I quite enjoyed it too, Mr. Ogilvy."
"I should like to call on you again. Would that be alright?"
"Oh yes. I would like that very much."
"Splendid. How about Saturday? We could go into town. I understand one of the hotels offers a very nice lunch, and I'm certain Doris would love to join us. How about we come by with the carriage at around 11:00?"
"That sounds lovely."
"I'll see you then," he said. Noting that Billy had stepped into another room to give them a moment of privacy, he quickly placed a kiss on her cheek before tipping his hat and going down the front steps to his waiting carriage.
She was so surprised by his kiss, as chaste as it was, that all she could do was stand and stare at him. She slowly closed the door and leaned back against it. She suddenly remembered Drake kissing her so unexpectedly in the doorway of her townhouse in Liverpool before tipping his hat and climbing into his carriage. The circumstances were similar but the kisses themselves couldn't have been more different. At the remembrance of Drake's kiss a shiver ran down her spine. She closed her eyes and sighed.
She opened them and saw Billy leaning against the doorframe of the sitting room's entrance. He had his arms crossed and a knowing smile on his face. "I leave you alone for one minute and look at the mischief you get into!"
"It was only a quick kiss on the cheek!" she protested.
"Aha! I knew it! I didn't actually see anything, and I tricked you into confessing!" he exclaimed. "You've become a fallen woman in a heartbeat!" he joked.
Virginia laughed along with him but thought he's right, I am a fallen woman. I fell for Drake and it doesn't seem like any man can measure up to him. I also have to be careful and make sure that no one ever finds out about my indiscretion or I'll also be a ruined woman.