It feels like the whole world freezes when Isobel drops her wine glass. Austin's heart is pounding in his chest as Isobel turns on her heels and practically runs in the other direction. Rage takes over as he watches Isobel flee from the room. He can feel his body heat up quickly and he knew he was a volcano ready to explode. He can hear his mother trying to calm him down but he only sees red. In the back of his mind he imagines what he must look like, so mad he's red and steam is coming out of his ears. Either way, his next action surprises his whole family.
Austin's fist slams into Andrew's face, causing his body to fly back and hit the ground. His rage slips and he's able to make an exit, moving toward Isobel on instinct alone.
He finds her in the garden, curled up in a ball and quietly crying. Every ounce of anger he felt only moments ago evaporates at the sight of her. He moves towards her slowly, not wanting to frighten her away. He sits next to her, putting his arm around her shoulders. He lets out a breath of relief he hadn't realized he had been holding when she climbs into his lap and curls up in his arms.
"I'm sorry." Isobel says after a while, sniffling.
Austin sighs, rubbing her back gently. "For what? For having a past? Or for having feelings? He broke your heart, Isobel. It's okay to be upset about it."
Isobel lets out a wet laugh, "I'm only crying out of anger at myself. I used to think about what I would do and say if I ever saw him again. Turning tail and running was definitely not on the list."
Austin nods, "You're not an angry or violent person, Isobel. You're sweet, and caring, and smart, and funny..."
Isobel chuckles, resting her forehead against his.
Austin leans in and kisses her gently, pouring all the feelings he doesn't know how to word into the kiss. Is it love? He has never been so angry in his life, including what happened with Sarah. Whatever it is, he can't imagine not being able to kiss Isobel whenever he wants.
When he pulls away, Austin looks into her crystal blue eyes. "Feeling better?"
Isobel nods, "We should probably get back to your family. I'm sure I looked ridiculous running out like that."
Austin chuckles, "Trust me. That's not what they're talking about right now." He stands up, setting her on her feet. He takes her hand as they walk back to the house.
When they get back inside, the house is in more chaos than Austin has seen in decades. He can hear shouting in the dining room and a maid comes out with blood-soaked towels. He looks down at Isobel who is arching her eyebrow at him.
Austin shrugs, "I might or might not have punched Andrew."
Isobel covers her mouth as she laughs, wrapping her arms around his neck. "You defended my honor."
Austin laughs, resting his hands on her hips. "I guess I did."
Isobel grins, pulling him into a kiss that he can feel in his toes.
Austin takes her hand again before walking into the dining room. His brothers and father are pacing as his mother works on Andrew's face. It's swollen to twice it's normal size and it's covered in blood and sores as if he had been burned.
He clears his throat, causing all of their heads to whip to them. "We're heading home. Just thought you should know so we didn't just disappear."
"Oh, no you don't. You explain right now why you did this to your brother."
Austin scoffs, "Sure. As soon as he explains to Isobel why he did what he did."
He looks down at her, "You deserve to know. Even if it won't make a difference." He kisses her forehead before turning back to his family. "You have your options, Andrew. Come clean, or know that your best friend will hate you for the rest of his life."