Millicent threw open her bedroom door and ran to the window. She pressed her face to the dirty glass and strained to watch Henry McAllister ride up the lane on his horse. She sighed with schoolgirl admiration.
Henry's short golden hair and chocolate eyes made him the best looking boy in Westing Cove. His smile could charm the shrewdest matron, his praise could lift a poor girl's spirit, and his laughter could make the heart flutter. All of the older girls fawned over him and argued about who he was going to take to the local social events, but Millicent and her friends always pretended that Henry would ask one of them.
Millicent's brother Mick came into her line of sight as he ran out to great Henry. He shook his hand, and started to strike up a conversation as Henry dismounted. Henry smiled at something Mick said and his white teeth sparkled in the sunshine. Millicent bit her lip. She wished she was down there instead of Mick. Henry was so dashing and charming; he could always make her smile. Henry nodded at what Mick was saying and his eyes found their way to Millicent's window. Millicent shot away from the glass as fast as she could.
Did Henry see her?
Did he think she was an annoying little girl like her brother did?
Her cheeks felt warm and she winced with embarrassment. Oh the agony of being so young. She was in love with Henry McAllister, as much as a twelve year old girl could be with an eighteen year old boy. She had known him all her life, and though he hardly ever spoke to her, there was an ease between them when he was around.
Henry was best friends with her brother, so Millicent saw him quite often. Oh how she relished the moments when she saw him. Her mother said Millicent merely had a schoolgirl infatuation that would fade with time. Millicent didn't agree with that assessment. After all, Millicent was old enough to know what real love was. She felt it for Henry deep inside her heart. She wasn't a little girl anymore, now she knew what real love felt like.
If only she knew what real love felt like. Millicent closed her book of Pride and Prejudice and flung in onto the coffee table. Mr. Darcy did not exist in Westing Cove, nor did he exist in Westshire where she had spent the last five years of her life at boarding school. No matter where she went she met men who did not add up to the standards of Mr. Darcy.
Millicent was not looking for a husband; she merely made observations.
Because of these observations she made by studying her parents, close friends, and strangers, Millicent had come to the conclusion that marriage was not for her. Her boarding school friends all longed for the love of a special man, marriage, and motherhood. But they had been taught to pursue marriage from a young age, and that was all they knew.
Millicent did not dislike men, she just wasn't marriage hungry like the girls at the Westshire Boarding School. At this point in her life Millicent felt a desire to help the poor. There were so many children in Westshire and Westing Cove that did not have a home. So many children that went hungry and unclothed that did not know what love was. Millicent didn't want her time to be tied up with a husband. She wanted to give her time to the poor on the streets corners that her social select ignored with disgust.
Her roommates never could understand this desire.
"Millicent just think about the wedding you could have!" Angie Taylor had once said to her. "Think about the dress you could have. Why Millicent, you could be decked out in jewels like the queen of England! Your father could give you the best wedding Westing Dove has ever seen."
"It's Westing Cove, Angie," Millicent had responded, "and marriage isn't about the wedding, it's about the life you live after it. I could care less about having a fancy wedding or jewels. That money could be better used for the poor."
Angie had been baffled.
Well the Bible said to take care of the widows and the orphans, and that's what Millicent was going to do. She was going to follow her Lord and do what He commanded her to do whether society liked it or not.
The week before had been Millicent's graduating day from the Westshire Boarding School, and she felt like a bird free of its cage. She was back in Westing Cove at last.
Millicent rose from her chair in the parlor and walked to the window. She was gazing out into garden when Mick came into the parlor with a letter in hand. "Well, I'll be…"
Millicent glanced at him over her shoulder "What is it?"
"The old boy is coming back to Westing Cove." Mick said to himself. He looked up at Millicent. "You remember Henry McAllister? He went away to law school eight years ago, and has a practice in Baltimore." Mick glanced back at the letter "had a practice, that is. He's moving back to Westing Cove to start a law firm here. Isn't that great? We were the best of friends as kids."
It had been years since Millicent had thought of him. Her schoolgirl crush had ended in bitter heartache when she found out that Henry was planning to marry Janie Roman and move to Baltimore. Janie had jilted him before the wedding, and Henry ended up moving to Baltimore alone. Millicent had been over her infatuation for a whole year by that time and could have cared less. She had been a silly girl back then, loving a boy who was too old for her.
"That's great, Mick," she said, "you'll have to invite him to dinner once he gets settled. You know mother will insist on it."
Yes, she had completely forgotten about Henry McAllister. Her life was much better now that he didn't have a hold of her heart. As far as Millicent was concerned, he wasn't going to have a hold of it again.