Jonavon walked back to his house, his mind reeling. The past few moments had seemed like a dream; had they really happened at all? He entered the house swiftly and silently; he wanted nothing more than to climb into his bed and think about her. Iracebeth Izar. To get to his room, however, he’d have to cut through the parlor where his mother was enjoying a wonderful lunch with her friends. Jonavon considered just passing through on the far side relatively unnoticed. That is, until he heard his name mentioned.
“What about Jonavon? And Arabella, how are they faring? I mean, the loss of a father is a hard thing –“
“They’re coping, thanks for your consideration.” Ms. Collins’ voice was stiff and tight. It was painfully obvious to anyone that she was not comfortable speaking of her recently deceased husband.
“Victoria,” the voice continued. Jonavon recognized it with disgust: Mrs. Evelyn Philips. “You cannot bury yourself under all this grief; what’s happened has happened and there is no use trying to change it.”
“I am not trying to change what happened,” Ms. Collins replied, her voice soft in comparison to Mrs. Philips blunt tone. “I am only still trying to cope. Not everyone heals at the same rate.”
“But think of your children,” Mrs. Philips continued. “Now that Mr. Collins is gone, the money won’t last forever. You must either re-marry or Jonavon must.”
Jonavon’s blood ran cold. He had never liked Mrs. Philips. She was often too frank with others and she was far too indifferent to other’s problems, so long as they didn’t pertain to her. She was always hinting at how Ms. Collins should lead her life, and this controlling nature made her a force to be reckoned with.
“My daughter, Alice, for example,” she said, “would make a perfect match for Jonavon—“
Quietly, Jonavon laughed to himself. Since he was practically born, Mrs. Philips had tried her hardest to set up an engagement between him and Alice. Ms. Collins had never allowed it. It’s not that Alice wasn’t pretty, she was actually very beautiful. Her dark hair and eyes set her apart from the typical English roses, but to Jonavon (and he suspected Alice felt the same) it would be akin to marrying one’s sibling. The strongest bond that would ever exist between Jonavon and Alice was a mutual friendship.
“Have you thought about it, though, Victoria?” This voice belonged to Mrs. Anna Radcliffe, Victoria’s sister. “Jonavon’s certainly old enough to start courting. Even if Edward were still among us, God rest his soul, Jonavon would still be among marrying age. Haven’t you at least thought about it?”