As everybody headed their separate ways from the breakfast table, I stepped into my room to take a slight breather. It had been a long night, and a sleepless one at that. Thoughts of Mr. William Griffin, or Will as I liked to think of him in my head, kept me awake until the rooster signaled the advent of the sun. The manner in which he touched me, the closeness of our dancing, the huskiness of his voice, and the slight whisper of his lips against my hand brought back memories that sent shivers down my spine. Why was he any different from the other men who had tried to woo me, I thought to myself. And a slightly mocking voice inside my head replied, "Because you were never wooed before Grace."
It was true. Ever since my parents' demise, I had not been out and about in society. Very few of my friends and acquaintances from my life in the country were still in touch with me through mail and the rare letters that were addressed to me were from a far-off cousin who seemed to care overly much about me and my health. And to be perfectly honest with myself, I really hadn't minded the lack of attention. Rather, I thrived on it. It was a relief when Aunt Rose did not command me to wear the organza gown or that Uncle Richard did not demand that I be present whenever a highly respected guest came around to visit.
Such social demands and obligations were shouldered by my cousins, Margaret, Elizabeth and Marianne, and it pleased me no end when they were praised and complimented. I had never felt the need to be praised myself because I had not known what import these trivial things held for a woman.
But ever since Will had looked into my eyes and told me that he thought I looked beautiful, no wait, he said that I looked stunning, I had realized what I had been missing till then. His eyes had made me feel prettier and his words had ignited a fever under my skin. I could feel myself blushing and even right now I remembered the burning sensation whenever he looked at me or touched me.
However, Will was still an enigma. Although I had shared my secret desires with Marianne, I was a little wary of Will and who he was. I did not know much of him or where he had come from, neither did I know what or how much he knew of me. Such thoughts creased my brow and made me pause while folding my underclothes. I did not even know how to contact him, I thought to myself in a panic.
I looked out the window and peered into the gardens, trying to forget my anxiety and taking deep breaths. The physician, Dr. Winters, had instructed me not to take too much stress due to the delicate condition of my throat the past few days. The itching and mild fever had been replaced by a full blown headache and a scratchy throat. I tried to calm myself down and sought to take in the pleasant view to do so. It was then that I saw the entire White family standing with Mr. McConnely near the front door while Cousin Margaret, Cousin Elizabeth and a gentleman who looked like Mr. Mitchell stood waiting before them, as if readying themselves for a confrontation.