It was a few days later that Charles caught up to her as she was walking down the tree lined streets that led into town. He seemed a little breathless as he fell into step, and smiled down at her with sparkling brown eyes. She didn't allow herself to linger on his gaze, but turned her eyes forward, setting her jaw determinedly, as she greeted him coolly. As the walked, she continued listening to Milena as she babbled in her perfectly nine year old way, trying to act oblivious to the man next to her.
Charles ignored Lavinia's aloof greeting and teased Milena until both of them were laughing, and then told her that if she wanted to run to his uncle's bakery, that she could have a treat of a fresh, warm bun. With a squeal of delight, Milena raced ahead of them, while they continued on in silence.
Lavinia waited for an apology, or an explanation, for his absence three nights before, but Charles seemed content to be silent, lost in his own thoughts. Irritated that she cared what he was thinking, she walked a little faster, but he kept up without even seeming to notice.
"Did you have a good party, the other night?" he finally offered.
"Yes." she practically snapped back.
"I'm sorry that I wasn't there. I had every intention of coming." he said cheerfully.
"Oh well, I'm sure that it must have been something very important. James and I spent hours talking--the time just flew" she lied, glancing sidelong to see his face. This last remark had finally bothered him, she noted with satisfaction. Good.
"Don't you want to know where I was?"
"I hardly see how it's any of my concern, Charles. If you couldn't be there, you couldn't be there. It wasn't as if I invited you." Somewhere in her mind a little alarm went off. She was being unforgivably rude.
He stopped walking and turned to her, and she hesitated next to him. His silence drew her gaze to his face. His eyes, she saw to her surprise, seemed to be brimming with happiness--of something he was anxious to tell her.
"Lavinia, I went to that cottage meeting. With the preachers from the Mormon church. I didn't mean to stay. I only planned to listen for a few minutes, and then leave and join you. But, once I started listening, I was captivated..."
Cutting him off, she began to walk quickly again.
"I don't want to hear about it." she replied, unable to keep the hurt and disappointment out of her voice.
Catching up with her, he reached for her arm, which she snatched away. The sparkle had dimmed and his brown eyes seemed to plead with her to listen, "Lavinia, I..."
"No, Charles. It's no good. No."
She left him standing there in the street, looking after her as she gathered her skirts and hurried away.