Part Nine

  "What's going on between you and Quentin?"  Barnabas asked, his voice filling the quiet room.
     "Nothing," Angelique said, looking out the window.  "We're just friends.  Did you want to discuss something?"
     "Yes.  Sarah will be needing a governess.  I'll notify the employment agency tomorrow and you can interview the applicants."
     "As you wish."
     "The final decision will be mine, however."  He expected her to blow up at him, refuse to abide by his edicts, but her continued examination of the gardens outside the window bothered him.
     "Of course."  She sighed.  "Is that all?"
     He watched her for a long moment.  "I believe so."
     "Then I'll go check on Sarah - if I have your permission?"
     He opened the door and stood back for her to pass.

     The ceremony was simply and for a brief moment, when her eyes met his, Angelique knew that Barnabas was, like herself, recalling another ceremony at the Old House.  But this time there were differences.  Elizabeth had picked some roses from the garden and fashioned a bouquet for Angelique to carry.  And unlike that long ago ceremony, the entire family was in attendance and approved of the marriage.  Sarah watched everything from her seat of honor, and was delighted to be allowed to drink a glass of ginger-ale while the adults had champagne.  She was even give the job of making the first toast to her parents.

     At last they left for the Old House, and from the moment she saw it, Sarah was in love.  "It's beautiful," she cried.  "Is that a swing over there?"  she asked.
     Recalling the day that he and Jerimiah had put up the original swing, Barnabas smiled.  "Yes, it is."
     "May I go and swing?"
     "I think we'll wait until tomorrow.  Right now, why don't we go inside and see your new home?"
     "And Willie?" she asked.
     "And Willie."

     That gentleman was waiting in the entryway.  "Hello, Sarah," he said, his smile wide.
     "Hello, Willie."
     His smile didn't change when he saw Angelique hesitating on the threshold.  "Angelique.  Maybe I should say Mrs. Collins?"
     Angelique smiled.  "Angelique will do, Willie," she said, strangely grateful for his welcome.
     "Their cases are in the car, Willie," Barnabas told him.
     "I'll go and get them."
     Sarah had wandered into the parlour, her gaze fixed on the portrait over the mantle.  "Would you like to see your room, Sarah?"  Barnabas asked.
     "Oh, yes, please."
     Angelique followed them up to the first Sarah's room, and remained near the door as the child exclaimed over it.  "I love it!  It's like -like something from a story book." She sat down on the bed and picked up the china and cloth doll.  "How pretty.  It looks very old."
     "It is.  Another little girl played with that doll in this very room.  It was her favorite toy along with the reed flute that her brother made for her."
     Sarah's eyes were wide.  "Really?"
     "It's true.  Her name was Sarah Collins too."
     "Sarah Collins."  Her face fell.  "But I'm not.  Not legally."
     "Of course you are."
     She shook her head.  "No.  Your marriage was annulled before I was born.  The name on my birth certificate isn't Collins.  It's Blair."
     "That's easily taken care of.  I'll call my attorney and have him make the arrangements.  Until then, no one will object to your using the name."
     Angelique had gone still, her face pale as she saw the doll in her daughter's hands.  It was the same one she had used to make Sarah so ill - the same one she had threatened Sarah's life with that awful night so long ago - She realized that Barnabas and Sarah were watching her.  "Are you all right, Mother?  You look - upset."
     "No, dear.  I'm- just a little tired, that's all.  And you must be as well."
     "A little," she admitted reluctantly.
     "Why don't you rest until dinner, then?" Angelique suggested,  watching as the doll was placed at her side.
     "Only if Father promises to show me around the entire house later."
     "I promise."
     Angelique tucked the child in.  "Do you think you can find your way back downstairs?"
     "Pleasant dreams, then."  She smoothed the light brown hair gently.

     Downstairs, Barnabas poured a glass of port for Angelique and a sherry for himself.  "I believe she's going to like it here."
     "Did you doubt it?  She- picks up on other people's feelings.  She senses how much this house means to you -so it's important to her as well."
     "Where were you living in Paris?"
     "I had an apartment.  I had planned to buy a house out of the city, but she became ill -"
     "Was she healthy before then?"
     "She's never been very strong.  But she's such a sweet natured child.  I've never heard her complain about her illness -beyond anger at herself for being so tired all the time.  She's been more concerned about me and  how it's affecting me.  She was quite upset the last time I turned down an assignment."
     A telephone's ring brought a look of surprised curiousity to her face.  Reading it, Barnabas smiled slightly.  "I have a telephone installed when I opened the yards.  There are three:  one in the kitchen, one in the study, and one in the hall upstairs."
     "I didn't notice it."
     Willie appeared in the doorway.  "Excuse me, Barnabas.  There's a Mr. Bender on the telephone.  He insists on talking to you."
     Barnabas put his glass down.  "He's a prospective client," Barnabas told Angelique.  "I'll be in the study."
     Angelique watched him go with a frown.  "Does he often work on Sunday, Willie?"
     "He's been working seven days a week.  It'll be good for him to have you and Sarah around to take his mind off of the yards."
     "I don't understand, Willie.  You sound pleased that Barnabas and I are married."
     "I am.  This place is too big for just Barnabas and me.  We were going a little crazy until Roger went out of town and asked Barnabas to stay at Collinwood while he was gone."
     Angelique smile was rueful.  "I suppose I'm just feeling a bit unnecessary.  You run the house extremely well, and right now, I don't think Sarah would even miss me."
     "I doubt that.  And I'd welcome your help running this place.  I got an idea.  Why don't we sit down tomorrow and go over the week's menu?  You can tell me what foods you and Sarah like."
     "Thank you, Willie."
     "I'd better go check on dinner."

     Angelique blew out the last candle, then lay on the bed.   The evening had been pleasant -if rather strained.  Sarah had fallen even more in love with the house, and had insisted that they both tuck her in for the night.
     After leaving her room, Angelique turned to Barnabas.  "I think I'll go on to bed as well.  It's been an exhausting day."
     "Good night, then," was all Barnabas said as he turned toward the stairs.
     "Barnabas-" Angelique called softly, uncertain of what she was going to say.
     He looked at her, and in the shadowed corridor, for moment she had seen something in his eyes, something she thought long dead.  "Yes?"
     It was gone as quickly as it had come, and Angelique began to doubt she'd seen it at all.  "G-Good night."  For all her claim of exhaustion, Angelique was finding sleep elusive.

     Barnabas sat back in his chair, disgusted by his lack of concentration.  Knowing that Angelique was on the floor above, no doubt asleep in her bed, made working difficult.  He stood and went over to pour himself a large measure of brandy.  Normally he
disliked the strong liquor, but tonight, he needed something to take his mind off of his wife.
     His wife.  Angelique was indeed his wife again.  And no matter what else had happened between them, Barnabas still wanted her.  He could go up there right now, and lay claim to his rights as her husband . . .

     Angelique heard his approach and sat up to fix her gaze on the door.  The footsteps came to a halt outside and in the dim glow of the banked fire, she saw the doorknob being turned.  She held her breath, waiting.  It seemed an eternity before the knob was released, and Barnabas continued on his way down the hall to his own room.  Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Angelique laid back down, drawing the covers over her, refusing to give her tears release.

     Once in his room, Barnabas sat down wearily before the fire.  He had promised Angelique a marriage of convenience, and there were already too many broken promises between them.  But dear God, he wanted her.  That had been the only constant in their stormy relationship.  Even at her worst, Angelique still managed to touch some responsive cord in his soul.
     Sleep finally overtook him, and he found solace in dreams about those early days and nights in Martinique.

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