Barnabas heard a child's laughter as he approached the house
and recognized it as Sarah. He found Willie pushing her in the
swing. When she saw Barnabas, she stopped the swing and ran into
is arms. "Hello, Father."
"Are you having fun?"
"Where is your mother?" If she was with Quentin again -.
Willie answered his question. "She's inside, trying to put the housekeeping ledger in order. Since it's my fault it's such a mess, I offered to watch Sarah for her."
"I see. I think you should rest until dinner, Sarah. You've had an exciting day."
She put her head on his shoulder, already half asleep. "I am a little tired."
Angelique had moved into the study to work on the books.
When the door opened, she said, "I'm almost done, Willie.
Just another two entries - I cannot understand how you let these
books get into such deplorable condition."
"Willie hasn't your flair for organization," Barnabas said.
Instantly, every muscle in Angelique's body tensed, her nerves stretched to the breaking point. "I didn't know you were home. Sarah's with Willie."
"I've already seen her and put her to bed to rest until dinner."
"I'd better go change, then -" she said, starting to rise from the chair.
"There's time yet. Were the books very out of balance?"
"I don't think Willie has entered any actual amounts in there for months. How he's kept from going over budget, I have no idea."
"The largest expenses were repair and upkeep, I believe. Willie did most of that himself."
She made the final entry, then closed the book. "At least this gives me something to do around here. Goodness knows that Sarah doesn't need me now that she has you. Except for the books, Willie keeps this house running like a well-oiled machine; and -" she picked up the ledger. "I have to go dress for dinner."
Barnabas put a hand out to stop her, but she had turned and didn't see the movement. Once she was gone, Barnabas let his hand fall to his side. The fragrance of roses still lingered in the air of the room. The situation could not continue. It had to be resolved - somehow.
After dinner, Angelique took Sarah upstairs, then returned to the entry hall just as Willie was closing the door behind him. Barnabas was in the parlour, reading a contract, and after pouring herself a glass of port, Angelique went to the fireplace. "Where is Willie going?"
"I gave him the evening off. No doubt he'll locate the nearst poker game." His frown deepened as he continued to read.
"Is there a problem with that contract?" she asked.
"Possibly. I can't quite put my finger on it, though."
"Maybe if you told me about it, I could help," she offered hesitantly.
His attention was still on the paper in his hands. "I doubt it would interest you you."
"But it would. Don't you remember -"
He looked up at her then. "Remember what?"
"You told me about the yards when you came to Martinique. You were surprised that I understood about such things. Josette certainly didn't."
"No," he agreed. "Very well." He proceeded to explain the background of the contract and all pertinent facts.
"May I see the contract?" she asked. After a few moments and a couple clarifying questions, she smiled and held the document out to him. "Read section 4 again."
He did. "According to this, we would have to pay a triple penalty if we fall behind schedule by so much as a week. That's unacceptable. Thank you, Angelique. You've just saved me several hours of work."
"I'm glad I could be of help. But I'm sure you would have found it on your own."
Barnabas returned the contract to his briefcase and poured a glass of sherry. "Would you care for more port?"
"Not at the moment, thank you."
He stood there, watching her stare into the fire. "Why didn't you tell me that Rumsen left you virtually nothing?"
"He had little left. What cash there was went to repay the losses he'd suffered. He had mortgaged everything except the island."
"You didn't get much for that."
She didn't ask where he'd gotten his information. "I just wanted to get rid of it. And it would have been enough - if Sarah hadn't become ill."
"Tell me, if the money had run out, would you have come to me?"
"You would have risked Sarah's life for the sake of your pride?"
"I don't know. All I know is that we've hurt each other so much - I didn't want Sarah to be the cause for more hurt. THIS is why I didn't want to marry you again. No matter how either of us may feel, those hurts, the pain of the past will always be there between us, poisoning that feeling."
"So what do you suggest?" he asked. "Not, I hope, that you spend more time with Quentin."
"I was wondering when you would bring that up. What is wrong with Quentin being my friend?"
"Nothing. If that is ALL his is to you. I will not allow a scandal or any talk in the village -"
"Oh, of COURSE. You're as bad as your father. Well, I am not like your mother, Barnabas. I will see Quentin when and where I wish to. We'll be the very souls of discretion," she said, fighting back tears.
Barnabas threw his glass into the fireplace, whre the crystal shattered against the bricks. Angelique jumped, never recalling his losing control so thoroughly before. She made an attempt to pass him, but he swung her around to face him. "Whatever else may be between us, we've always had one thing in common."
Held against him, Angelique didn't have to ask what he meant. Yes, she wanted him. But not like this. Not in anger. "Barnabas, you're hurting me."
Instantly, his hold softened, his hands moving to caress her bruised skin. "Is that better?" he asked softly.
"Yes, no. I - Barnabas, we can't -"
"Why can't we? Why don't we just accept waht we know will be good?" Without warning, he lifted her into his arms and started toward the stairs.
"Can you do that now anymore than you could in the beginning?"
"There were other people involved. This time it is between you and me."
Angelique buried her face against his neck. How she wanted to give in, to be with this man. But dare she risk his loathing on the morrow?
Once inside her room, Barnabas lowered her feet to the floor and kissed her. A deep, soul-destroying kiss that easily defeated any barriers Angelique had erected against him. When he sensed her surrender, Barnabas hands moved to remove the cloth barriers as well. It had been too long since he had held Angelique. Too long that he had denied himself the feel of her soft skin, the heat of her passion. No longer.
She had done so much to become his wife once - she would BE his wife now. On HIS terms.