Open These Eager Eyes

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Mr. Bright Side of Things

“So you’re married now, are you?” William Blake asked his son bitterly, the same question on his lips every time he visited.

Edward nodded stiffly, still feeling a bitter grudge against his father for all those years of harsh treatment and so-called lessons of the family.

“To that tart, I assume.”

“Don’t call her that!” Edward hissed.

William smirked, tilting his head and narrowing his cold eyes at his son.

“She’s not my wife. I can call her whatever I want.”

“Kathleen is your daughter in law and the mother of your grandchildren! After all these years, you can’t get over her common wealth?”

William grimaced at the reminder of his grandchildren, for he was very fond of them and loved them more than he had ever showed to his own children.

“Very well. She wasn’t what I wanted to talk to you about anyway. I am dying, Edward. Soon I will be dead and the family fortune will go to you.”

Edward stared at his father, not quite registering the words William had spoken.

“I know you have been masquerading around as William Dover, so I will tell you now. I will not hand my fortune to William, but to Edward. If you want your inheritance, you will have to disown that name and reveal the truth to your wife.”

“I-I can’t,” Edward protested weakly.

He had already established his life as William Dover and he would destroy it in one sweep of his hand if he revealed the truth.

“Then you will get nothing. If you will not do it for yourself, do it for your family. They can use the money that you are so willing to throw away for a lie,” William told him sternly.

Perhaps his father really did care about Kathleen, and maybe even himself, if he was willing to push Edward into revealing a lie that he did not want to keep.

“And send my grandchildren over. Their grandfather wants to spend time with them,” William finished irritably.

He had snuck into Kathleen’s old house, lonely from the years without its occupants, though he knew she was currently there. Alexander Rose had been arrested for conspiracy years ago, after the wedding, but it hadn’t hurt Kathleen as much as he had feared it would.

Or at least she was masking it in a strong façade. He loved her all the more for it.

He had written a letter as his old self, not signing his name. In fact, he couldn’t remember if he ever told her his real name before he had left her to become William. He heard her rummaging around the house, and then there was silence. He was sure she had found the letter.

Her footsteps were hurried as she ran into her room and the door slammed shut. Frowning, he waited awhile before slipping out through the window and into the cab he had “borrowed.”

He saw her harried figure slip out of the house with her stuff, spotting him quickly. She walked all the way to the place he had parked at, far away to be inconspicuous. He drove over to her place, and then gritted his teeth. She hadn’t told him where she lived. He glanced back and saw she hadn’t noticed his mistake.

Her stuff went into the boot and he then went back into the cab. She told him the destination that he ignored and went the opposite way. She began pounding on the window separating the two of them, and he braked sharply, turning to look at her. Her face was inches away from his in a silent scream.

His face was molded back into the cold face of Edward for the first time in a long time, and he wondered if William’s more emotional face was so different that his own wife couldn’t recognize him.

Swallowing his regret, he turned back around and pressed on the gas, hoping she’d forgive him for everything afterwards.

He didn’t have far to go. He was heading towards the rose garden that she used to visit when she was younger, the one that was near his old home. His home that he was about to inherit.

Stopping, he went out of the cab and marched straight to his stone bench and waited for her to come out to meet him. She’ll come, especially since he was right there and she had always been a curious thing.

Sure enough, the cab door opened again and she was tentatively moving out. She was staring at him fearfully, walking what to her seemed like doomed steps towards him.

When she reached him, she gasped aloud. So the game was up already.

“William, what is the meaning of this?!” her voice was trembling with confusion and anger.

He looked up with the face of Edward, of himself, and said steadily, “Kathleen, I’ve been lying to you since you first met me as William Dover. I am and have always been Edward Blake, your fiancé from before this.

“I’m sorry. I told you when I was going out to war that I wouldn’t be that far from you. They wanted me to go undercover to spy on your father because they found out he was funding the enemies.”

“So you were the one who had my father arrested!” she screeched in tears, and Edward’s theory about her hiding her pain was true. He flinched.

“H-he deserved it. I love my papa, but he did do wrong,” she muttered tearfully, reluctantly admitting to that.

“Before that, they allowed me to stop the mission. You already loved me as William, not as Edward, and I didn’t want to lose you. So I stayed pretending to be William because I couldn’t bear to lose you when I’ve learned true happiness with you.”

“Were you lying about your feelings with me all those years as William?” she spat out.

“No! As William, I could show you all the emotions I didn’t know how to express as Edward. All my life, I’ve learned how to repress my emotions. It was so hard to tell you how I really felt when I first started courting you. It was why I always gave you flowers that you could find out the meanings to.”

She was quiet and he began getting desperate. He was going to say something else when she interrupted him.

“Wil –I mean Edward. Take me home. I have to see to the children. There is a lot I have to think about,” she said softly.

He nodded curtly and then hesitated before he held out his arm. She stared foolishly at it before taking it just as hesitantly as he had offered it. They walked back to the cab and made it home in silence.

She did not speak to him for a week after that, and he was getting depressed as time went by. Even their children had noticed something was amiss between their parents and always showed their anxiety about it.

He lay in their bed every night, watching her stiff back face him. They hadn’t touched, they hadn’t kissed, they hadn’t spoken a word to each other since that day.

The feeling of self-hatred filled him more as time kept passing and sometimes he wished himself a painful death, or any death to take him away from this hellish existence.

One night, he couldn’t take it anymore and he cried himself hoarse. He tried to keep his sobs low so he wouldn’t wake her up, but he was tired and lonely. He wanted to love her and her to love him. He missed her so much, even though she was so close to him.

Through his crying, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Getting closer to her without being too close, he was close enough to press a soft kiss to her temple and whisper something else into her ear.

“I love you.”

It was strange. After that, Kathleen would look at him and look like she wanted to say something. Or was trying to say something. Even the hard look in her eyes softened towards him.

She even started to lie on her back again in bed, though still refusing to touch him. It meant she was becoming more comfortable with sleeping on the same bed as him again.

He didn’t know if he should try talking to her or do anything, but he was so worried he would do or say something that would mess up all the progress that had been made between them that he didn't try anything at all.

It was surprising then, when she approached him and handed him a bouquet of flowers. There was a violet rose, a daffodil, a red carnation, and an amaranth. The flower he first gave her as Edward, and the first trio of flowers he gave as William. But there was one more, in the middle…

The red tulip, a flower she had given to him.

I declare my love for you again.

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