Chapter 13: Him
Our very brief conversation with Mr. Daniels proved to be a rather stressful thing to Miss Rein. She was clenching my hand very tightly the entire time and I believe it was all my fault. I had heard that he would be attending the ball, and thought I might be of some service to her. Well, I was right. She seemed almost pleased, her face quite red for the longest time.
"Are you alright, Miss Rein?"
"Of course I am. I just got an offer from a publisher. Why wouldn't I be alright?" she got very quiet, staring off into space like she'd been offered a million dollars.
"Because you seem rather stressed."
"I am perfectly alright, thank you. And thank you for showing him to me. Opening that opportunity. I think I need to sit down." I guided her over to the chairs nearby, letting her sit. She chose a different pose from when we were at the café yesterday, crossing her ankles and shifting them to her left slightly, hands folded so delicately in her lap.
"Do you want some punch or something?"
"Yes. A drink would be nice. As long as it's non-alcoholic."
"Of course. Thank you." I go to get a couple of drinks, and Thomas gets my attention.
"Hey, buddy." He leans against the table.
"Go away, Thomas." I try to ignore him.
"Aw, come on. You know I liked her longer. I'm the one who showed you her blog in the first place. So why does she like you better than me? Society—"
"—would be better if we didn't have jerks like you forcing yourselves on ladies like Miss Rein. She's a good woman. She can do what she likes, and if she wants you to stay away, you'd better. I don't think she likes me better, other than how I treat her. Get your crap together, Thomas, and leave us alone."
"Dude!" he holds his hands in surrender. "Did you just swallow her? That was like something she would say."
"Good! Maybe she's a good influence on me. You sure aren't." I snap, turning away.
"What did you say to me?!" he says, angry.
"Nothing." I change the subject, talking over my shoulder. "Weren't you the one who insisted I go to the debate? That she was perfect for me?"
"That was before I met her myself. Saw just how beautiful and perfect she is in real life."
"She's not perfect. And you don't have to get so protective! She's not my girlfriend. We are not dating. You can't keep acting like this and hope for one second that she will be impressed!" I face him. "You freak her out dude. You aren't nice."
"Oh and you are?! You stalked this girl for 3 years, Jack! She's impressed with that?!"
"I don't know! I don't know what impresses her or not, I just know your behavior doesn't! I'm just trying to be nice and you're just being a—" he decks me before I can finish my statement.
"DON'T YOU DARE SAY IT!" he shouts at me, as the glasses of punch in my hands fly up all over me, soaking me. "I'M BETTER THAN YOU! SO WHY DOES SHE LIKE YOU BETTER?!" a bunch of people are holding him back, as he lunges at me.
Miss Eliza Rein, ever timely, appears at my side, her dress gracing the floor beside me, her cape left on the chair where I left her. She looks very sternly at him.
"Mr. Thomas." She clips, her voice clearly angry. "I believe that your manners would do well in the street up front. Since you cannot behave indoors, I ask that you leave. If the person in charge of this event is present, I am sorry, but somebody has to tell this violent buffoon to leave."
A man comes up beside her, very large and muscular, picks Thomas up by the arms, and hauls his butt outside. A rather wealthy man runs over to us, obviously the organizer of this event, and apologizes.
"I am so sorry! Are you hurt? Are either of you hurt? I am so sorry about your suit, sir. I'll be more than happy to pay for compensation—"
"It's fine. I probably deserved it." I can feel the bruise on my jaw already developing. "I was egging him on. I'll just leave." I turn to Miss Rein. "I'm sorry. I should have behaved better—"
"Oh do shut up." She rubs her eyes. "I'm ready to go back to the church anyway. I've had enough of this party. Thank you for allowing me to be here, sir, but I think I shall be leaving. It was a lovely ball and I do hope to attend again someday, under better circumstances."
"Yes, Miss Rein. Thank you for attending. It was very good publicity for the ball."
"Thank you. I needed to get out, I think." She curtseys slightly and walks away, grabbing her cape. I must say, it suits her very well. It flies out lightly behind her, the edges cover her shoulders and sits across her biceps, making her well-muscled arms appear less thick, more ladylike. I caught myself staring and she had her arms folded, staring at me.
"Well, Mr. MacPherson? Are you taking me back to the church or do you simply enjoy being covered in punch and dripping on the floor?"
"Oh! Of course. No! I mean, I don't like dripping on the floor—I mean, I don't enjoy being covered in punch. I will be happy to take you back to the church."
"Good. Then what are you staring at?" she turns around and marches to the front doors, the cape swishing behind her. I don't answer and we have a very quiet taxi ride back.