Third person's POV
Mimi and Matthew both jumped as wood scraped wood and then crashed to the floor, a little guilty moment passed after he left while they stood watching the empty doorway, Remorse seeped through Mimi’s veins like the stinging heat of whiskey. She closed her eyes and pressed a fist to her lips If only she could take it back If only she could take back all that she’d said from the moment they’d stopped dancing.
“We treated him like an animal,” she said and heard Matthew’s slow exhale. With a short dry laugh, she continued. “And we’re teaching him manners.” She looked up at Matthew and found him still watching the door.
“The Man’s been nothing but kind to Us and we treat him like he’s less than a human.” A muscle worked in Matthews jaw. “We’ve been kind to him. We brought him clothes.” Her look was incredulous. “He’s treated us with respect, while we’ve barely condescended to him.”
Matthew turned angrily. “We deserve respect. He doesn’t. Its a simple as that.” Mimi’s mouth dropped open. Why? Why do we deserve respect? Because we have money?
“Yes.” Matthew leveled a hard look at her, his brown eyes barren. A muscle clenching in his cheek.
That’s exactly why, Mimi. Because we have the money.
Mimi knocked lightly on Mr. Summer’s door, trepidation thundering in her chest from inside the room, she could detect only silence and she wondered with a brief shot of panic if he’d packed up and left. She had wanted to come sooner but despite a constant racking of her brain, she could not think of one thing to tell him that would excuse the ugly things she and Matthew had said. Instead, she had paced in her room and relived the argument, time and again, until its unpleasantness numbed her. She knocked again and this time with relief, she heard someone stir, Slow, measured steps approached the knob turned and slowly the door opened. Angell stood before her, tall and disheveled with his cravat and collar went. His shirt open to reveal the tanned skin of his throat. She could smell traces of baron whiskey but his eyes were clear, his posture sober.
" Miss McCarthy. ” he bowed and she noticed then that he held a small jigger in one hand out of which he spilled not a drop with the motion.
“To what do I owe this pleasure?” As he raised back up she felt the heat of his graze, the judgment of his look.
“I’ve come to apologize,” she said. She raised her chin in a fraction to dispel the suddenly weak image she had of herself looking like a recalcitrant child.
“Matthew and I were dreadful today. You deserve better. I’m sorry.” Summer’s eyes grew hooded, the dark-Lashed lids lowering over cutting blue depths.
“You’ve come to apologize.” He bit the inside of one cheek pensively and nodded moving to lean against the door frame and look at her. She glanced nervously down the empty hallway. “May I come in?”
He feigned surprise but didn’t move.
“You want to come in? Do you want to come into a man’s bedroom? What would people think? What if I did something- unseemly?” Mimi took a breath and returned his steady look. This brittle banter was not something she’d counted on and despite her feelings of guilt, it irritated her.
“Are you apt to?” He smiled slightly. “I don’t know.” She managed a stern expression. “Let me come in, Mr. Summer. We must talk.” His eyes hardened and he waited while the imperiousness of her words became obvious.
She swallowed. “Please.”
He studied her a moment more, then stepped back into the dimness of the room. She followed closing the door behind her and saw him stroll casually to a chair by the fire. Mimi stopped uncertainty behind the opposite chair and surveyed the scene.
“Oh, excuse me, ” Angell said, raising. “I forgot- never sit when there’s a lady standing. Must be tiring at the theater.” Mimi frowned at the mocking tone and moved around the chair to sit gingerly on its edge. Angell plopped back into his seat.
" Now,” he said, dangling the shot glass from languid fingers, what did you come to apologize for? “I should think it would be obvious,” she murmured, unsure of his flippant attitude. The last thing she wanted was to have her guilt thrown back In her face.
Doesn’t he care about his child? And what about the child? Do you think he won’t care who his real daddy is a whole helluva lot more than which sitting room his mama’s allowed into, or what balls she can attend?”
“Of course he will,” she protested. “But the father is not an option in any of this.”
Mimi sighed. “Janis says he’s dead.” At his silence, she glanced up at him.
“Oh, you can wipe that stricken look off your face. She’s lying.”
He exhaled heavily, then downed his drink. he’s probably some poor man like me, he scoffed, “Undeserving of the rich lifestyle you all enjoy.”
“I believe that’s probably true. I think he is someone beneath her and she’s ashamed to admit it.”
“Hell yeah,” he spat, ” you told me once you thought she loved him- the father of her baby. Why don’t you try to polish him up for her, instead of some stranger she’s never even met before? ”
“Because the person with whom she dallied is somewhere in New York. Someone surely would know him.
Don’t you see? The child would be forever tainted in others eyes.
“Ah ha.” He nodded. I do see. It makes no difference whether this man can be taught the high faluting ways of your society Or even that he can father a child with both your sister’s glorious bloodlines and his own lowly ones. The fact is, he’d still be poor, he’d still be the Butler or the groom or whatever and everyone would know it. He could never be snuck into the privileged fairy tale life you lead, where shame ranks higher than truth and money beats love every time.
Mimi dropped a fist onto the arm of the chair. “That’s not true! You’re deliberately misconstruing what I said.”
“You don’t think it’s true?” He pinned her with a look.
“I do. That’s all I ever hear you talk about. The shame of this, the embarrassment of that. Matthew tells me my pronunciations are 'crucial', you say my table manners must be ‘irreproachable’, do you ever think about what any of that really means? I’m telling you, it means nothing, Hell, I’m glad my stay in that carnival is gonna be temporary.
Mimi sat dumbfounded in her chair and stare up at him. He wasn’t right: he couldn’t be right. She struggled for words to rebut him, but all she has was a tightness in her chest.
“You don’t understand,” she said finally.
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