Most of the first day passed without incident. I had hired two coachmen for the sole purpose that we didn’t have to stop at many inns. At first I had planned to be there early. Looking at the rain currently turning the road we were on into a river of mud, though, I knew I’d be lucky to get there on time.
I sighed and tried to focus on the book I was reading. Despite what I told my friends and boss, I was incredibly nervous about being a Junior Judge. In the letter from the High Judge, it seems like a lot of responsibility will be on my shoulders. Being a damn good lawyer doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be a damn good Junior Judge.
I put the book to the side and thought back to my life in New York and what I was leaving behind. I would miss my house I suppose. But I was also leaving behind Ivy Moore and Tabitha Hardy which I would not miss.
Tabitha Hardy worked at a grocery store that I frequented. She was a beautiful young woman with blond hair and brown eyes. She always had a smile on her face and a cheerful greeting. I had never been a bold man but I was extremely drawn to her so, under the pretext of buying some fresh apples, I invited her to dinner at my favorite restaurant.
I should have known her nerves weren’t about going to eat with me.
It went well for about two months. We only saw each other during the week. I thought it was strange but I had yet to meet her family so I assumed that was the reason. I was on my way to the grocery store to actually buy groceries when I saw her in an alleyway with a man. I panicked, thinking she was being harassed. One look told me I was wrong.
She didn’t see me at first. It wasn’t until she accepted his money that she turned. I did my best to not judge her but it was hard to believe she was sleeping with men for money and didn’t even tell me. The conversation that followed wasn’t pleasant. First she blamed me since I wouldn’t sleep with her. Then, when I pointed out we hadn’t been together long enough, she told me she was a woman of the night. She didn’t really work at the grocery store. It was a cover given to her by her ‘employer’.
“I really do love you, Simon,” she said. “But I needed money and-”
“So our relationship has just been about my money?” I asked, standing from the table.
She shrugged. “It’s all I know, Simon.”
I shook my head. “You should have asked me, Tabitha.”
“Are you going to leave me?” she asked, her eyes wide.
I hesitated. “Will you continue your actions?”
Her silence gave me my answer and I shook my head, leaving her and not looking back.
I was heartbroken. I read later in a newspaper that she was engaged to a rich mogul. I wasn’t sure who I felt the most pity for: him or her. I’m not sure how long their marriage lasted but I hoped it still was. Perhaps she found happiness.
As for me, I didn’t pursue another woman until Ivy Moore moved a few houses down with her family two years later. I made some cookies as a ‘welcome to the neighborhood’ gift and went by. She answered and I was instantly smitten by her. She was charming, innocent, and sweet.
We were in a relationship for two years and I had decided to propose. I bought the ring and approached her father. Once again, I found myself with an unfaithful woman. Unlike Tabitha, though, she did it for pleasure and not money.
I confronted her father about it and that’s when I got the real story. Three months into our relationship, Ivy found out how wealthy I am. She told her father and he insisted that she continue being with me. Her father had a gambling problem and they were just months away from the poorhouse. Her father’s solution: marry his daughter off to the rich lawyer.
But I caught Ivy with a man. There was no remorse in her eyes as she explained he wasn’t the first man she had slept with. She didn’t really love me. She just wanted my money.
It was then that I gave up on women in New York. I wasn’t interested in love anymore. I had given the ring back to the jeweler, rejecting the refund, and walked home brokenhearted once again. Two months later, Ivy came to visit in tears. She begged me to come back.
“How is your father?” I asked.
She hesitated. “G-Good. He has a job now and he’s not gambling anymore.”
I shook my head and showed her the newspaper that said he had declared bankruptcy. Her face had gone pale and she cried some more.
“I may have given you a second chance, Ivy, if you hadn’t lied to me,” I said quietly. “Please leave.”
And then she pulled that stunt yesterday. I shook my head and got out the deed for the home I purchased in Riverwalk. It was a modest home with two stories. It was small, though, and not nearly as extravagant as the one in New York.
I was the oldest of three sons and my first younger brother, Zachary, had said I should flaunt my wealth when I moved to New York. After what happened, though, I definitely didn’t plan on doing that in Riverwalk. This was all assuming I would even find a woman in Riverwalk.
I shook my head.
“You’re going to be a Junior Judge, Simon,” I muttered to myself. “Romance isn’t a priority anymore, even if you are 27.”
Thinking of Zachary made me a little homesick. I had notified my youngest brother, Luther, of my change in address but he and I weren’t on good terms. He never responded and I hoped I’d have something when I got to Riverwalk.
“Don’t kid yourself,” I groaned. “You’ll be lucky if he’s told Mom and Dad.”
I shut my eyes and tried to fall asleep.
I was woken up by the carriage jerking to a halt. I frowned. We couldn’t be there already. I stuck my head out the window and sighed. That was stupid to do; it was still raining.
“Everything all right up there?” I shouted over the sound of the rain.
“Horses are stuck in the mud, Mr. Partridge!” one of the coachmen shouted back and I groaned. “We’re gonna have to wait for this rain to pass! I’m sorry!”
I ran a hand through my hair, cursing the rain.