“So, I’m pretty sure that our mothers want us to get married,” Thomas said out of the blue. Suzanna almost chocked on the apple she’d taken a bit out of.
In her most unladylike fashion, she spit out the chuck of apple, coughed for a moment and then turned to face Thomas. “What?”
“I think our mothers want us to get married,” he shrugged, stubbornly not looking Suzanna in the eye.
“Why do you say that? Has your mother said something to you?” And then a worst thought crossed her mind, “Has MY mother?”
“No,” Thomas shook his head, “They haven’t said anything per se. I think they—or at least my mother—is hoping we’ll come to the conclusion ourselves, so they don’t have to try and blatantly coerce us. After all, my mother hated her arranged married and we can see how well it worked out for your father so—“Thomas trailed off with a vague motion of his hand, not wanting to mention out right that Suzanna’s mother was not the woman that her father had been promised to since childhood.
“Well, coercing will have to occur,” Suzanna said resolutely, Taking another large bite out of her apple, and chewing it almost defiantly.
Thomas sat and watched her chew, waiting for her to swallow before he spoke again. “Would it really be that bad? Being married to me?”
This time, Thomas did look her in the eye. She held his gaze as she put down the apple and took his hands in hers.
“No, Tom, being married to you would not be terrible. It might even be fun. But I absolutely do not want to marry you because it’s what our parents want us to do, or because it’s just a thought that your mother put in your head. If you can promise me right here and now that marrying me is something you thought about before you realized it was what our parents wanted, then I promise you I’ll try to be open minded about it. But I don’t want to be tricked into thinking I love someone and I don’t want someone to be tricked into thinking that they love me, okay?”
Thomas pulled his hands out of Suzanna’s while he shrugged, then nodding. Suzanna considered him for a second, before crossing to the other side of the room to stare out the windows, scooping up her apple as she went.
“So, what do you think? Horseback riding tomorrow? Might be nice to get out into nature for a little while.” Suzanna asked, taking another bite.
“I do think I love you,” Thomas offered in a small voice. Suzanna pretended not to hear him, turning to look back at the forest outside their windows, as if she was trying to decide the best path to ride tomorrow. Thomas was gracious in the denial. He came up next to her and looked out at the paths too. “It would be nice to get other there. It’s been a while since we rode.”
“Yeah,” Suzanna smiled at nothing in particular, “Tomorrow will be nice.”