Warning: If you haven’t yet read Book II, A Little While Longer, this contains a spoiler. If you have, read on… 🙂
Stuart and Velena (rough draft… chapter still in progress):
Stuart was on top of the world, and practically giddy with pleasure. After looking in several places, he finally found Velena in the stables brushing down Guenevere. Her eyes were glassy, but her look was calm and placid—her torrent of tears now past.
“Velena. I’ve been looking for you.”
Velena set down the brush and exhaled before lifting her eyes to meet his. Her grief was poignant, but she was resolved to maintain control in front of him. She watched him—he was so handsome, but her attraction for him had waned. Stuart was waiting for her to speak, but she simply didn’t know what to say. The last time they’d spoken was in anger—he’d raised his hand to strike her. That he did not, was poor consolation to her.
“Have you already spoken with your father?” Stuart finally asked.
Velena nodded, letting her gaze fall to the floor.
“Have you nothing to say about it?”
“Not about that.”
Stuart’s eyes dropped for a moment as well. “You’re upset about our quarrel,” he stated.
“I have a right to be.”
Stuart nodded as he took a careful step toward her, as if approaching an unbroken filly. Velena was standing still, but by her look she wanted to bolt. “Yes, you do…but so have I. You knew I had no tolerance for Tristan, and still you baited me with talk of him.”
“That was never my intention.”
“As you see it, perhaps. But from where I stood, you were [continually elevating him]shoving him in my face, and thrusting me aside. Have I not always [loved you]been kind to you? Have I not always been for you?”
Velena’s shoulders slumped. “You have—and perhaps for this reason more than any other, [it’s beyond my ___]it hurts so much that you would raise a hand to strike me…”
“But I didn’t!” Stuart interjected with feeling. “And I won’t. Not today; not tomorrow. We’re not entering into a marriage of convenience, Velena. I love you—and I’ll never raise my hand to you again; I swear it!”
Velena turned away, but Stuart was quick to grasp her wrist and pull her back around, bending down at the knee before her. “I swear it,” he promised again, more adamantly than the first time. “Please allow me to make amends. It was a quarrel. We were both angry—we said things we ought not to have said. Forgive me for my thoughtless actions? From the very beginning, I’ve only ever wanted it to be you and I.” He rose to his feet, his eyes drinking her in more than she felt comfortable with. “This tension between us should have no foot hold, for upon hearing this news of our engagement, I couldn’t be more pleased.”
Velena didn’t wait for him to make another move, but quickly skirted around him in an attempt to escape the privacy of the stables before her cousin could decide to demonstrate some of that pleasure. Once out in the open, she turned back to face him.
Stuart had followed. “I know you have hesitations,” he said, “but you’ll see now that all will be well.”
“I want to believe that.”
“Velena,” he said, her name dripping from his mouth like the last bit of water from a dried up well. She sensed his sorrow, and found herself moaning inwardly at his pain, despite her anger.
“I’m sorry…I’m so very sorry,” he crooned, accosting her as he wrapped his arms about her unresponsive body, her arms still draped at her sides. Still he pulled her close, burying his face in her neck and hair. His voice was low and muffled. “Nothing has happened the way I thought it would—except for this,” he said, speaking of their engagement. He pulled back to look into her eyes. “Please, Velena, don’t hate me now,” he said cupping her face, “Don’t you know, you’re all I’ve ever wanted? Tell me you know that.”
Velena nodded, knowing she could do nothing more than accept his love for what it was—for what he claimed it to be. Perhaps it was all he was capable of giving.
Though she failed to speak, Stuart smiled slightly. “I’ll make you happy. I swear I will!”
Time elapsed for Velena, even as it stood still. She felt Stuart’s forehead come in to press against her own, but the moment was nothing like it had been with Tristan. She could tell that Stuart was genuine in his affection for her, but she could return none of it. What will become of us, Tristan? Her thoughts called out. She felt dead inside.
~Taken from Take Me Furthermore (Chapter 1)