She continued as if she hadn't heard him. “When you’re anxious or upset, because,” this is where she leaned in conspiratorially, but she didn’t whisper, oh no, she didn’t whisper it, she yelled it, “you will wet your pants, again! You know we still can’t get the smell out of the parlor rug, but then again it was only last week that you wet your pants when my puppy jumped on you! In fact, I don’t know what was worse, your crying or the smell!”
Loud hoots of laughter seemed to fill the park as he stood there, momentarily frozen in shock as the realization that his deepest, darkest secret was out hit him.
“Robert Lemonade!” she said in a singsong voice, further taunting him and making him hate her more than even he thought possible.
The boys were all pointing and laughing at him. Robert felt his lower lip tremble. These boys attended school with him. This wasn’t happening, couldn’t be happening. This was bad, very bad and even as he hoped beyond hope that this was a dream he knew that it wasn’t. He also knew that his life was going to become intolerable now. Suddenly every boy around them pointed towards his pants and laughed louder. Many of them stumbled and fell to the ground, unable to curb their amusement.
Robert wasn’t aware of the hot liquid running down his legs until that moment. He looked down, praying that it was just his imagination, but it wasn’t. His brown trousers were soaked thoroughly around his crotch.
“Robert Lemonade!” the children chorused. “Robert Lemonade!”
He turned to glare at Elizabeth, who wore a pleased little smile on her face. This was her fault! He shoved her soundly. She stumbled back, but didn’t fall. Her eyebrows came together and she stepped up to him, looking determined. Robert was prepared to shove her again or pull her hair when he saw her small fist sail through the air towards him.
He stumbled backwards, tripped over a root and landed on his backside. New laughter erupted around them. Not only was he crying and wet his pants, but now a seven-year-old chubby girl had knocked him down in front of everyone!
“Better make sure to bring your nanny with you next semester, Robert Lemonade!” a boy yelled.
“Yeah, don’t want any unseemly yellow stains on the mattress!”
“I’d hate to be his roommate. Can you imagine smelling vinegar all year?” the boys yelled, taunted and teased.
Robert dragged himself to his feet and glared at Elizabeth Stanton. One day….one day he would get back at her. He would have his revenge.
In front of everyone she turned her back on him just in time for her father to discreetly grab her and haul her off.
Robert stood there, his hands curled up into fists, ignoring his family’s concerns, the laughter and jeers and focused on the receding image of Elizabeth as she left the park. One day soon…..
“This is for your own good, Elizabeth!”
“You said that last year,” she pointed out, not bothering to raise her voice or even look up from her book as she turned the page and settled back more comfortably in her chair.
“And it would have been if you’d accepted a proposal!” her father stubbornly argued. He continued trying to pry the library door open so that he could drag her off to London where she’d be forced to attend balls and dinners night after night all while her parents shoved every single man with a title to his name in her direction.
She didn’t wish to marry for a title, but they refused to listen to her so now she was forced to take matters into her own hands and barricade herself in the library. It wouldn’t stop them from dragging her off to London, nothing would, but at least it might buy her a little more time to relax before she was forced to endure the hustle and bustle of London. It would also probably get her father to-
“Okay,” he said, sounding out of breath, “let’s discuss the matter.”
Biting back a triumphant smile, she placed her book down, smoothed down her skirts and walked over to the door, but she didn’t open it. She wasn’t foolish after all. There was no doubt in her mind that her father now had at least two footmen standing with him on the other side of that door waiting to grab her and drag her off.
“I’m listening,” she said, leaning back against the wall as she waited to see what he was willing to offer in compensation if she willingly went through with another season.
There was a slight pause before he asked, “Aren’t you going to open the door?”
And make the same mistake that her two older sisters had made when they’d been forced to take the same action? No, she really didn’t think that would be wise. Besides, unlike her sisters she couldn’t be bought and he knew it. She didn’t care about dresses, silks, shoes, ribbons, jewelry, shopping or any number of things that the other females in her family loved and her father used against them when the need arose.
Not that she didn’t appreciate pretty things, she did. She just didn’t care enough about them to cave to her father’s demands or justify spending a small fortune on them. Most people considered her to be odd and perhaps she was, but she truly didn’t care.
“I’ll get this door opened eventually,” he said, sounding hopeful that it would be enough to scare her into unlocking the door and going to her doom quietly.
“And then I’ll just find another way to avoid going,” she said, smiling when he let out the annoyed growl that usually worked on her sisters.
“What do you want?” he asked warily, no doubt expecting her to ask for something outrageous.
He knew her so well, she thought with a smile.
“I want my independence,” she said, not terribly surprised when he let out another one of those vicious growls.
“This again? Really?” he demanded in exasperation.
“It’s what I want,” she said, wondering just how early she’d be able to talk him into letting her go to her north estate.
Technically, she was supposed to wait until her twenty-fourth birthday to accept control of her inheritance, but since her money and property was supposed to be under his care, he could allow her to go whenever he wanted. Unfortunately, he wasn’t anxious to allow his youngest daughter to move away and live unsupervised, which was why he was dragging her off to London.
He was desperate to see her married and her inheritance in the hands of a capable man. Actually, at this point he would probably be happy to see her inheritance in the hands of any man that would have her. Right now he controlled her life and, in his mind, kept her safe, but that would all change in just a few short months and she couldn’t wait.