House of Harwood-Tangled Beginnings by Olivia Batker Pritzker

Harwood front pageVote at the end of this episode!

Previously… we learn that Emily has disappeared from the Harwood house, and that she was pregnant. Readers voted that John Harwood is not the father of her baby.

Episode 12

As Clarissa was jostled along on the carriage ride home, she couldn’t get the image of John Harwood, clothes rumpled and eyes bloodshot, out of her mind. She couldn’t explain why, but the love for Emily that she had seen in his eyes had changed something in the way she felt about him. She wanted to be with John and feel that desperate love cast upon her. But poor Emily – pregnant, cast away – Clarissa couldn’t imagine what that must be like. There was a part of her that wanted to help Emily, once she and John were married of course – to bring her back, provide for her baby – but there was another part of her, the same part that felt a tinge of jealousy watching John grieve for his lost love, which hoped Emily would never be heard from again.

That night, Rose and Clarissa sipped their coffee after dinner and waited for the other to mention their day at the Harwood estate. Clarissa hated to give her mother too much satisfaction, but at the same time wanted her to know that she was ready to commit to the match. Rose eyed her daughter thoughtfully. She could tell something had changed, but couldn’t place her finger on what it was. Finally, she spoke.

“Clarissa, I wouldn’t want you to judge John Harwood on what you witnessed today. Sometimes, when people experience loss -“

“Mother,” Clarissa cut Rose off. “You don’t have to worry. I’m not put off by John Harwood’s behavior, in fact quite the opposite…”

She looked at her mother’s hopeful face, smiled despite herself and leaned forward somewhat conspiratorily.

“Mother I want to marry him.”

*****

Victoria Harwood walked into the library and sat down in a chair by the fire, watching the flickering flames cast shadows on the walls. This library had intimidated her once, with it’s severe portraits of the Harwood ancestral clan, but that was so long ago that it seemed like a dream. Now she came here for solace.

Victoria liked the young Duvall girl. Clarissa. She was elegant and very pretty, and could speak with intelligence on a number of topics. Of course these traits were quite common in their world – what had distinguished her from the others was a look. An undeniable look of curiosity when Emily had burst in during lunch, and then another, even stronger look of compassion when John had come to pieces earlier that day. Victoria sensed strength, and strength was a necessity in this house. She thought about her son’s grieved expression as he had shouted at her – how dare she dispose of Emily like that, treat someone he loved with such callousness.

If only he knew. When Emily had come to her the week previous, it had not been to say that she was pregnant with John’s baby. Victoria appreciated how hard it was for the girl to come forward, and she wished things could have been different, but she had known what had to be done. Protecting the Harwood name, the family – that was the most important thing. She had long since held no illusions about her husband. It was the way things were, her lot in life. But the Harwood legacy would go on for generations, and that was more important than one girl’s misfortune.

She hoped that when the time came, Clarissa would be able to make these decisions. Vote below on what will happen next or if viewing from email, click Take our Poll.

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