Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four (8 page)

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
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“We just spent weeks traveling to and from Washington, DC. Today I’ve just returned from traveling with Lucas. Why would you think I’d desire any more time on a train?”

He frowned. “I’d hoped you’d relish an adventure with me, where we could be together.”

“Do you know what I dream of?” She leaned into him, as one of his arms wrapped around her middle. She rubbed his black hair, sighing with contentment, as he turned his face and nuzzled her belly. “I visited a doctor when I was in Seattle.”

Jeremy tensed, pushing Savannah back and easing her down to sit on the trunk in front of him. “Why? Are you ill?”

“No.” She blushed rosily. “I recalled our conversation in Washington, and I knew our time of … of—”

“Forced lack of intimacy,” Jeremy said with tenderness.

“—was coming to an end. I want us to have a full marriage, but I wanted to speak with another doctor about the possibility of carrying a child.”

Jeremy stiffened. “Savannah, you could speak to one hundred experts, and none of them could convince me that risking another pregnancy would be worth imperiling your health.”

Savannah sighed. “I know. The new doctor didn’t give me any further hope. He advised me to look to other means to grow my family.”

“As we have already done with Melinda.” Jeremy stroked her cheek, forcing her to meet his eyes. He tilted his head with inquisitiveness as she bit her lip and appeared uncomfortable.

“I inquired if there was a method or some manner to prevent pregnancy. Becoming pregnant hasn’t been a problem …”

“Unlike what that specialist in Boston said,” Jeremy said with rancor.

“Yes.” She reached up and cupped her fingers around his face, meeting his gaze even though hers was filled with embarrassment. “I don’t want us to be relegated to kisses on the forehead and pats on the arm. I want to continue as husband and wife to each other. That is my dream.”

“I can’t risk you, Savannah.”

“I know. It’s why I asked the doctor about a method. To … to prevent pregnancy. He was concerned about breaking the Comstock Act, but, in the end, he was more concerned about my health. It’s why I had to remain in Seattle a few extra days.” She took a deep breath. “I had something made that will help prevent pregnancy.”

“Only help?” Jeremy asked, turning his face to kiss her palm.

“Nothing is foolproof.”

“Well, I thank this man for his aid and for defying the law, especially if it means preventing another near-death experience for you.” He sobered. “If you asked it of me, I would continue to refrain from … touching you.”

Savannah’s smile bloomed with wonder. “I know you would. But I’d suffer as much as you, and there’s risk in life, Jeremy. I want to have a full life with you.”

He leaned forward, nuzzling her neck. “I’ve missed you, darling.” He sighed as he heard Melinda’s excited shriek. “As has Melinda.” He rose, stretching his hand down for her. “Let’s join our daughter. We’re preparing dinner for you.”

Savannah smiled and followed him downstairs to the large kitchen.

“Mother!” Melinda called, dropping the paring knife as she ran to embrace Savannah. “You’ve been away forever.”

“I know, my dearest one. I met my brother in Butte.” Her eyes filled with wonder as she remembered seeing Lucas.

“When will I meet him?” Melinda asked, moving back to the sink where she was peeling potatoes.

“Soon I hope. He thinks he’ll come to Missoula to play this fall.” Savannah shared a contented smile with Jeremy and sat at the table as they prepared supper together. “Where is Araminta?”

“She’s with Clarissa and the children,” Jeremy said.

“Did Gabriel go with them?” Melinda asked.

“No, he was busy with projects.” Jeremy smoothed a hand over his daughter’s head. “Don’t worry, Melly. Gabe’s just fine.”

“He’s been so sad lately,” Melinda said. “I miss hearing his laugh or him teasing Rissa.”

Savannah shared a sad smile with Jeremy.

“All will be well soon,” Jeremy soothed.

“You keep saying that, but it’s been months. Even Colin is starting to become serious,” Melinda said.

Jeremy laughed. “What more indication do you need than Colin losing his ability to laugh?” He chuckled again, tousling Melinda’s hair as he helped her set the table. “I think Colin’s having romantic troubles and is a sour old man due to that.”

“Jeremy!” Savannah scolded.

“I’ve heard that he has become
entrancangled
with three women and doesn’t know what to do,” Melinda said, beaming after using such a large word.

“Have you been spending time again with Mr. A.J.? For only he could come up with such a word,” Savannah said with a giggle as Melly nodded in confirmation.

“Although it does seem a good sort of word.
Entranced
and
entangled
all mashed together,” Jeremy mused, sharing a wink with Savannah. “And most likely sums up Colin’s predicament.”

“I think Colin’s smarter than that,” Savannah said loyally.

“From what I heard, Mrs. Vaughan’s daughter is pinning all her hopes on him.” Melinda nodded, as though she spoke with the wisdom of an oracle.

“Where do you hear such tales?” Savannah asked.

“School of course. Mrs. Vaughan’s niece, Victoria, is in my class.” Melinda raised curious eyes as her parents groaned. “Now that Colin’s running the forge, many women are interested in him.”

Savannah’s shoulders shook with laughter. “If Col doesn’t know better to escape their nets …”

“Poor Minta,” Jeremy murmured, then sobered, sharing a glance with Savannah. “At least he’s not boring us.”

“What I don’t understand is why Colin needs to marry Victoria’s aunt to make right the wrongs our family did to her family.” Melinda scrunched up her forehead as though contemplating a puzzle.

“Where did you hear such nonsense?” Savannah demanded, stroking a hand over Melinda’s curls to lessen the sting of her harsh tone.

“From Vicky. It’s what they think.”

Jeremy sighed and shared a long glance with Savannah. “Our families have a mixed-up history, Melly.” He continued after Savannah subtly nodded to him. “Clarissa’s ex-fiancée, Cameron, followed her here when she left Boston to reunite with Gabe. Clarissa had married Gabe before Cameron arrived, so she didn’t have to worry about anything—”

“Why would she worry?” Melinda asked, her face contorted in a confused expression.

Jeremy pursed his lips for a moment as he searched for the words. “Not everyone appreciates your sister’s independent spirit. And Cameron wanted the dowry her grandparents, her mother’s parents, would have given her.”

Melinda frowned. “He doesn’t seem like a nice person.”

Savannah laughed, easing the tension in the kitchen. “He wasn’t. He was horrid and self-centered. He thought Clarissa should feel fortunate that a man such as him, from a supposedly wealthy family, would deign to marry her.”

“He sounds
pomptuse
.”

Jeremy snorted out a laugh. “
Pompous
and
obtuse
. A very apt description. And I appreciate you spending time with Mr. Pickens, but you shouldn’t learn his poor English.”

Melinda shook her head in disagreement but didn’t argue further.

“At any rate, Clarissa’s former fiancée remained here in Missoula, courting Mrs. Vaughan’s daughter, on the verge of marrying her, before he framed our good friend Sebastian for theft. Clarissa discovered that Cameron had framed Sebastian and also murdered a man, so Cameron was sent to jail.”

Melinda still frowned as she listened to her adopted father. “But why do the Vaughans dislike us? And why would they think Colin needs to marry their daughter?”

“They blamed Clarissa for ruining the daughter’s chances of marrying an eligible man, even though I would think they’d be thanking Rissa for saving one of their own from a murdering thief,” Savannah said. “Now that more than ten years have passed, and the daughter’s that much older, their memories are fading and, Mrs. Vaughan in particular, is becoming bitter at her daughter’s unmarried state.”

“Some will always look to blame others,” Jeremy said.

“I hope my brother’s smart enough to avoid her.” Melinda tipped her head to the side, mimicking her father. “Although I like her. She doesn’t seem anything like her mother.”

“Whether she is or isn’t, Mrs. Vaughan would be a miserable woman to have as a mother-in-law,” Jeremy said, earning a gentle pat from Savannah.

“Mother-in-laws are meant to be difficult,” Savannah said.

“I wouldn’t know as mine is thousands of miles away,” he teased. “I presume Araminta is named as one of the three supposedly vying for Col’s affections. Who’s the third woman?”

“Oh, that new librarian, Miss Hester Loken.”

Savannah gasped and coughed on a sip of water she had just swallowed. “He would never be interested in her. Not after the way she’s treated Rissa.”

Jeremy shook his head with amusement. “At least he’ll keep us entertained.” He rose and grabbed something off the kitchen counter. “Speaking of being entertained, here’s a recent letter from Zylphia.”

May 15, 1913

Dear Jeremy, Savannah and Melinda,

I trust you had an uneventful return journey to Montana, Jeremy and Savannah. I heard from Mother that you had the opportunity to hear your brother perform, Savannah. How marvelous! My friend Parthena will be green with envy, as she also plays the piano.

On my journey home, I had the opportunity to speak with a few women from New York who had attended the parade, and it was enjoyable. They are hopeful that there will be a referendum for the universal enfranchisement in New York in the next few years. I pray Massachusetts will also have a similar referendum, and we will move one step closer to full enfranchisement for all.

With Sophronia’s tutelage, I’m now preparing for my journey to Newport, Rhode Island. Whereas my father merely wishes me to have an enjoyable time while I’m there, my goal is to meet influential women who will join our cause. However, I’ve yet to master numerous social rules, and I’m quite nervous about putting a foot out of place. As the time approaches for me to leave for Newport, the worse my dancing becomes! Three dancing instructors have quit, one claiming irreparable damage to his “most precious assets.”

While my father calmed him, the instructor muttered that mine was not an auspicious beginning as I foray into society. I have a few more months to master the popular dances, and my fourth dance instructor starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!

As summer approaches, I hope you have a wonderful break from school, Melly. I look forward to hearing all about your adventures. I promise to write you about mine after my time in Newport.

I miss you, dear cousins, and look forward to a time when we are again reunited.

Sincerely,

Zylphia

Savannah wiped at her eyes as she calmed her laughter. “If that doesn’t sound like Zee—stomping on a poor man’s feet as she attempts to learn to dance.”

“Not all were born to that life, love,” Jeremy said. At Melinda’s curious expression, Jeremy explained. “Zylphia spent the first years of her life separated from her father, my uncle Aidan, and didn’t learn the formal rules of the upper class from an early age.”

“I’d wonder why she’d bother now,” Savannah said. “I’m rather happy to be free of most of them.” She sighed. “I fear Zee’ll be disappointed by the monotony of it all.”

“Why wouldn’t Zee have already entered society if she’s known her father for years?” Melinda asked.

“Well, she has, to an extent, but she’s never done the whirl of balls and soirees like she’ll do now,” Savannah said. “It’s very different from dinner parties. Besides, Delia remains so busy with the orphanage, they don’t even have afternoon tea.”

Jeremy and Melinda shared a confused stare before grinning at each other. “Why should that be important? Besides missing out on some delicious tea and cakes.” He winked at Melinda, who giggled.

“It’s where the women gather to share the important gossip. If you aren’t hosting teas and attending those teas, you don’t know what is truly occurring in that world.” Savannah sighed, her face momentarily crinkled in thought. “So what are you two cooking us for dinner?”

“Fried chicken and boiled vegetables.” Jeremy rose from the table. He finished chopping the potatoes and vegetables, placing them in the large cast-iron pot filled with water. He went to the icebox, removing the chicken he planned to panfry.

“Thank you, darling, for making dinner,” Savannah murmured.

“Anything for you, love,” Jeremy whispered as he stepped near to kiss her forehead before returning to finish dinner preparations.

Melinda chattered about school, her friends, the joy of the upcoming summer vacation and any thought that entered her mind as they prepared their meal and then sat to eat.

* * *

A
fter dinner
and quiet time spent in the family parlor, where they all read their favorite novels, Savannah ensured Melinda went to bed by nine. “Tomorrow will be another fun-filled day, my darling girl,” Savannah said as she coaxed her daughter through her bedtime routine. After speaking with her about her dreams and saying their prayers, Savannah eased from her room, leaving Melinda’s door ajar.

BOOK: Tenacious Love (Banished Saga, Book Four): Banished Saga, Book Four
4.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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