Chapter 7: The cravat pin
"Oh did you hear that Thornton is back?" Horton announced two days later while joining a shooting party on her at her father's estate.
Lucilla's head jerked up, failing to hide her surprise, "Really?"
"Yes, he's been back about a week now."
Lucilla fumed, and he hadn't even made himself known to her. Of all the…
"He has misplaced a cravat pin."
For a moment she forgot to breathe. The memory of that night flooded back. The sense of panic when she'd been grabbed, the relief at her rescue, the sense of nausea and faintness when it was all over and it had dawned on her what might have happened. Charlotte of course had been horrified by her friend's appearance when she'd arrived back at the house and had appologised proffusely for her abandonment of her friend, something Lucilla had waved off. At home she'd collapsed into bed, placing the cravat pin on her bedside table. There it lay as a reminder of the lucky escape she's had and a warning to herself not to let it happen again. Bad things happened when she walked around gardens during parties.
"Have you seen it?" he asked.
"Yes," she replied, "I have it here. If Mr Thornton would do me the honour of calling on me then I will gladly return it."
The next day the butler announced a 'Mr Edward Thornton'. Lucilla got to her feet, heart thundering in her chest. Her mouth was dry but she gathered herself together. Steeling herself.
"Ah! Mr Thornton."
He stalked into the room, "Miss Stapleton."
"I thought you were abroad."
"Well clearly I'm not!" he replied sharply. "I believe you have something of mine."
"Oh?" she lifted an eyebrow impertinently, "and what would that be?"
Thornton glared at her, "Don't play games with me girl! You know you have my cravat pin."
Inwardly Lucilla was shaking at the look in his eye and crying desperately to him to show her some warmth. Outwardly she smiled.
"Indeed. Would you like to know where I found it?"
"I have no interest in where you found it I would just like it back in my possession."
Lucilla sighed, "Very well." She went to the desk drawer and unlocked it, drawing out the pin where she'd placed it after Horton's announcment the day before. "But before I give it to you I want to know why you had to go abroad," her voice dropped, "and why you came back."
Thornton looked furious, "My business is my own. You know I could just wrestle the pin from you."
It was Lucilla's turn to glare, "Oh no. You're too much of a gentleman for that." She spat out the word as if it were poisonous. Thornton was taken aback. To Lucilla's surprise something that had looked for a second like hurt, mingled with shame, crossed his face. She put on a look of thoughtfulness, "On the other hand, no, no you're not. It doesn't signify. I could always call the servants."
Thornton was growing agitated, as if being in the room with her made him uncomfortable, "Damn you! Give me the pin!"
"Politeness costs nothing."
He looked murderous.
"Why is it so important?" she asked curiously.
"It was my father's."
That one he seemed able to answer.
"I'll ask you once more. Why did you go abroad?" She looked him straight in his eyes and saw an inward battle going on. Eventually he took a deep breath, their eyes still locked.
"I left…" he closed his eyes, "to try and forget you."
She felt the gulf inside her widen and the tears threaten to spill again. Taking a deep breath she swallowed them. "I...s-see."
"I had to know what I felt for you was genuine," he rushed on. "I had to know whether a separation would cure this madness." He gave her an angry look, "You never left my thoughts."
"And you came back…?" she asked quickly, refusing to register what he'd said.
"For my pin."
She raised her eyebrows.
"Okay! To keep an eye on you! There! Now may I have my pin?"
She walked forward and put it into his palm.
"You dropped it," she said slyly, "in the gardens getting your own back on Felton."
He looked at her angrily and felt exactly the same as she had when he had known it was her duelling him.
Suddenly he grasped the hand that still hadn't left the pin and pulled her to his chest.
"Blast you!" he murmured affectionately, "Marry me."
"How could I refuse such a romantically phrased offer?" she replied cheekily.
"Is that a yes?" he persisted.
"Yes," she whispered. Then his lips met her own in a gentle caress that swept all other thoughts away.
"We really shouldn't be doing this," he whispered, his lips still brushing hers, "You really shouldn't be mixing with the likes of me."
"It's a little too late for that," she replied teasingly, resting her head on his chest. "Especially as I've just accepted your offer for marriage."
"Maybe we shouldn't…" he started but Lucilla interrupted him,
"Jilted," she gasped dramatically, "I'm being jilted not ten minutes after my proposition. You cad! How dare you trifle with my heart like that? You shall be hearing from my father sir, and he's a much better shot than I." Her eyes twinkled.
"You little minx," Thornton growled affectionately.
"I fear I shall faint!" she proclaimed in a weak voice.
"Don't you dare," he threatened gently.
"You have no regard for my feelings," she said giving him a smile.
"I was wrong," Thornton said, tightening his arms around her. "We are a perfect match! For you, my dear Lucilla, are just as disagreeable as I am."
And as she lifted her head he fastened his lips to hers, silencing her protests with a kiss.
I would like to thank everyone for their comments and criticisms. It's not the best story I've written, nor is it very long but its just for practice so I beg your forgiveness and hope you've enjoyed it.