Where Lilacs Still Bloom

Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick

Book: Where Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jane Kirkpatrick
Annapolis, the sun warmed her face as she removed her hat and sat on a bench near the bay. These past six months she’d been quarantined in the house with Bill’s mother during the weekdays, reading her way through the library books, attending the occasional teas, but otherwise lonely. Quite lonely. Until Bill arrived home on Friday evening. Even then she had to share him with his mother.
    She’d decided to create this day of independence after a fretful argument she had with Bill.
    “I simply can’t stay cooped up inside this … mausoleum,” Shelly whispered her outrage. Keeping her voice low so as not to alert his mother to their arguments frustrated her almost as much as the clipping of her wings. Shelly wondered if the woman listened at their door. She wanted to open it quickly and catch her at it so Bill could see what she had to deal with. But he’d likely just invite her in and comment on how wonderful it was that she cared so much about making Shelly’s life pleasant. He was so blind when it came to his mother!
    “There are three acres of grounds here,” Bill whispered back. “New blooms appear each day. Why, I suspect the—”
    “Don’t start with the litany of that garden,” she hissed. “You know it better than you know me.” Tears pressed against her eyes. She swiped at them. She would not let her tears speak for her!
    “I want to know only you, Shelly.” Bill reached for her. “You are the love of my life.”
    Shelly stepped back, arms across her chest. “Then why is it I rarely have any time with you? Why is it we do nothing on the weekends except ‘check in on the garden’ as though what I’ve dealt with all week is no concern of yours.”
    “If there were problems, you’d tell me, or Mother would. So when I see you walk out to the carriage, I am the happiest man alive assured that all is well. Until we come inside and you … you …” He searched for words.
    “I argue with you. I argue. It’s the only way I can get you to actually see me.”
    “That’s not true, Shelly. It’s not. I thought you’d be happy here. Everything taken care of. No worries. You have an allowance. You can visit your aunt. Why don’t you do that more often?”
    “I visit her every week. It’s the only time I leave here. I’m a captive.”
    “That’s nonsense.”
    “Let me come with you to Annapolis. We could stay with my father during the week. It would save you the expense of a room. And we’d be together.”
    He’d considered that; she knew he had. His hands had twisted back and forth as he did when he walked and was deep in thought about his posies. But then he’d shaken his head. “No. I spend my evenings preparing for classes, gradingpapers, all things that would bore you, and you’d find me even less a social creature than what you long for. I … I thought you understood what my life was like.”
    “I did.” She dropped her arms to her sides. “But I thought you’d allow a change in your life with me in it. It’s as though I’m another potted plant and that you just shifted a few others around so you could make a place for me in the hothouse. Just a pot in the hothouse.”
    “Oh, Shelly.” He’d come to her then and held her, but it hadn’t been enough to silence her. She pushed back.
    “If I can’t come with you to Annapolis … If I can’t go out—”
    “Mother takes you to her club meetings.”
    “I don’t need an escort,” Shelly snapped. “I need a husband. I need … a life.”
    “I’ve given you the best one I have.” There was nothing negotiable in his voice, and she knew then that her thought of making him change, of getting him to be the man she dreamed he was, wasn’t going to happen.
    “Then I will simply tell you now, before your mother tells you later, that I will be going out on my own, despite the ‘impropriety of my independence,’ as your mother calls my desire.”
    So today she was doing just that. She took a cab, noting the lush

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