I kept my eyes shut, part from embarrassment and part from fear. Thomas had rested his head on mine, reminding me to take deep breaths. I could feel the doctor still looking and I gripped Thomas's hand tighter.
"It's okay," he whispered.
Finally, the doctor stood up and sighed. I felt him pull my dress down and Thomas put my blankets back over me. We stared at the doctor with bated breath.
"Well, you're not pregnant, Miss Rivers," he sighed. "But I'm afraid you probably never will be."
I stared at him with mixed emotions. I was relieved that I wasn't pregnant but to hear I probably never would be hurt.
"How can you be sure?" my mother asked, her voice shaking with emotion.
He passed a hand over his eyes. "Whoever did this to her... he was rough, I'm sure, and harmed her cervix. Something like that takes time for the body to heal." He looked at me in pity. "Sometimes it never does."
I looked up at the ceiling, tears cascading down my cheeks, and no one spoke. My left arm was around Megan and I pulled her closer to me. She snuffled in her sleep but didn't wake up. Thomas was rubbing the back of my palm with his thumb.
My mother was the first to leave. I watched, heartbroken, as she stormed out.
"Tell her to come back," I sobbed but Bryant shook his head. I cried more as the doctor left awkwardly. "Bring her back, Bryant! I need her!"
"No, Elvira, you don't," he said quietly as he shook his head and closed the door. "There's something we have to tell you."
I looked between him and Thomas. Thomas was hiding his face in his hands and shaking slightly. I was getting scared and wrapped both of my arms around Megan. Bryant paced in front of my bed, glaring every so often at the door.
"Mother wanted you to be pregnant," he said finally.
"I don't understand."
"She's... she's been lying to you, Elly," he whispered. "She meant none of what she said."
I shook my head. "That's not true, Bryant! She-She loves me! She apologized! She-She said she'd be here for me and-"
"She hasn't pressed for a trial," he said. "Daniel just sits in jail. I-I fear he'll be let out now that he didn't get you pregnant."
"You're lying," I said. "You're lying to me Bryant!"
He looked at me in pity. "You know I'm not, Elvira."
I turned to Thomas. "Did you know?" I demanded.
"Yes," he said in a hoarse voice.
"Why didn't you tell me?" I asked angrily.
"Bryant asked me not to," he said. "He didn't want you to worry more and with your mother being so kind-"
"Please leave," I whispered, my eyes closed.
"Elvira," he began.
"Just leave. Both of you."
"We'll-We'll leave Megan," Bryant muttered as he opened the door. "Maybe you two can-"
He sighed. "Come on, Thomas."
When the door shut, I began to sob and turned to face Megan. I held her as close to me as I possibly could. My sobs woke her up.
"Miss Elly?" she whispered. "Why are you crying?"
I gulped. "My-My dragon," I said, my voice shaking. "It-It's coming back."
Megan looked up and kissed my cheek. "Don't worry, Miss Elly. Tommy will protect you."
I looked down at her brown curls. "How can you be sure, Megan?"
"I heard him telling Bry," she said with a shrug. "He said he'd protect you. He even said something about you moving away with us."
"He said that?" I whispered and she nodded.
"Yeah. Tommy is really strong, Miss Elly." She yawned. "I'm sleepy."
I sniffled. "Go to sleep then, silly."
"I love you, sissy," she murmured and I stared at her as she fell asleep again.
Megan woke me up a few hours later and helped me pick out my dress.
"You should go hang out with Tommy again!" she said. "He really like this dress on you!"
I blushed, remembering how I spoke rudely.
"I don't know. I think he might have to work today."
She pouted, holding my hand as we walked down the stairs.
"Can we draw?" she asked and I thought about it.
I really liked Megan. She was a sweetheart and made me feel happier. I looked down. Her big brown eyes reminded me of Thomas's only his was lighter, like honey. I smiled and nodded.
"Yay!" she said, jumping and kicking her feet.
We walked into the parlor where Thomas and Bryant were sitting quietly, looking at their hands.
"Miss Elly is going to color with me today!" Megan announced. "That way I won't be lonely when you go to work!"
"That's very kind of her," Thomas said quietly.
"Will you wait for me in the foyer, Megan?" I whispered. "I want to talk to the boys for a second."
"Okay," she said and skipped out of the room.
I cleared my throat and lowered my head, putting my hands in front of me.
"I owe both of you an apology," I said. "I shouldn't have spoken to you like that."
"It's okay, Elly," my brother said and held my hands. I looked up at him, crying a little. "You were just given terrible news." He wiped my tears away. "We've spoken about it and Thomas has offered to let you stay with him and Megan for a few days."
I bit my lower lip. "Is this because Daniel is going to be let out of jail soon?"
He sighed. "It's one of the reasons, yes."
"What about Mother?"
"She's unhappy with the decision," he said. "But...." He sighed. "You'll be safe with Thomas. Daniel can't try anything while you're there; especially if you're with Megan. When Thomas has to work, you'll go with him."
"Okay," I whispered and he kissed my cheek while Thomas stood up.
"I'm very sorry I didn't tell you the truth," he said but I shook my head.
"You were just looking out for me," I said. "Thank you for that."
“I’ll bring some clothes over,” Bryant said. “First I need to speak with Mother, though.”
He walked out, looking angry, and Thomas led us out the front doors. Megan skipped ahead of us, giggling in the cool air.
“She likes you very much,” Thomas said.
“I like her,” I said. “Her energy is infectious.”
He chuckled. “Yes, yes it is.” When we got to his house, he sighed. “I have to go to the blacksmith’s today. You’ll be okay with Megan?”
I nodded. She had gone to her room to gather her coloring supplies.
“Any special instructions?” I asked and he frowned.
“Times she should eat, what she should eat, things like that.”
“Oh.” He thought for a few minutes. “I normally have her eat lunch around one. That’s when they feed them at the school. Just a sandwich is fine. She gets a snack at three. Let her nap if she wants, I don’t make her anymore. I’ll be back by dinner time.”
“Okay,” I said. “Thomas?” I whispered and he stopped before going to the door. I walked over and hugged him. “Thank you.”
Slowly, he hugged me back. “For what?”
“Not giving up on me.”
His arms tightened and he kissed the top of my head.
“I never will, Elvira. Have fun with Megan. Don’t let her drive you too insane.”
I giggled and waved as he left.
“What’s your favorite color?” Megan asked, coming out with a box full of crayons and paper.
“I really like green,” I said and she grinned.
We sat down to color for a while. I stuck mostly with flowers. As I drew, I thought to what she said earlier this morning. Thomas was willing to take me away with him? Why hadn’t he told me? Could it be that he was too shy?
I looked over at Megan’s drawing and bit my lip to stop me from crying. She had drawn a dragon blowing flames at a knight. A girl was behind him labeled Elly and the knight was labeled Tommy.
“This is for you,” she said, thrusting the paper at me.
“It’s very beautiful. Thank you.”
“That way you’ll always remember Tommy,” she said happily. “I drew one of us, too!”
She showed it to me. It was much like the one she drew for me. Except for my name it was hers as the girl on the ground. There were two people in between Thomas and the dragon and I knew it must be her parents. I looked at her. She was drawing a house and I wondered how much she remembered about her parents’ death, if anything at all.
“You love your brother a lot, don’t you?” I asked as we ate sandwiches.
She nodded. “He’s the best brother ever!” Then her face fell. “I think he’s mad at me, though.”
I stared at her. “Why in the world do you think that?”
“He’s sad,” she said, staring at the cup of milk I had poured for her. “I keep trying to make him happy but I know he’s not.”
I sighed and held my arms open. She crawled into my lap.
“It’s not that he’s unhappy, Megan,” I said, stroking her hair. “He just worries about you. He wants you to be happy.”
“But I am. As long as he stays, I am.” She sniffled. “But he isn’t and it’s my fault.”
I rocked her as she cried. “No, Megan. No, it’s not your fault.”
“If he hadn’t gone in to get me from the house-”
“Don’t talk like that, Megan,” I said firmly. “You are his world. He loves you more than anyone else. He could never be mad at you.”
“Promise?” she whispered.
“I promise. Do you want to talk to him when he gets home?”
She nodded and I put my chin on her head while we waited.