“Thanks for that, Evan.” Stepping in and finding the perfect way to help her save face had been rather noble of him. Especially as her first reaction had been to panic. “Seeing George so out of the blue knocked the wind out of my sails.”
“I’m guessing you had no idea he’d settled in Brighton.”
“It wasn’t something we discussed when he informed me he’d met someone else, no.” Lily shrugged her shoulders, aiming for nonplussed but likely falling well short of the mark. Perhaps if she had seen her feckless former fiancé and not his pretty wife, she wouldn’t be feeling quite so overwhelmed by it all. “To be frank, it all happened so fast and so unexpected, he could have mentioned it but I was too stunned to hear it.”
They had arrived at their rooms. Two tiny bedchambers which sat side by side in the attic. The ceiling of the hallway so low he had to lean against his door, arms folded. “How long had you been sweethearts?”
“Three years. Engaged for one. I fancied myself head over heels in love but…”
He gave her a funny look. “But..?”
“I suppose, deep down, I knew he wasn’t the one. George had too much an eye for the ladies and there were times I was sure he was lying to me. But as he had asked me to marry him and we were saving up for the wedding and some rooms of our own somewhere, I shoved all those niggling doubts to the back of my mind and refused to listen to them.” Times when he had failed to turn up when he said he would. The convoluted excuses which blithely tripped off his tongue that always felt too convenient and never sounded genuine. “Turns out I should’ve as he had already cast his net further, and when that woman jumped at his proposal, he couldn’t offload me quick enough.” There was something intimate about the weak candlelight and the shadows it cast, that made her want to talk about it for once. “I think he left me on the Friday and I heard he’d tied the knot the following Tuesday. Probably paid for it out of our savings too, knowing him.”
Evan’s strong jaw hung slack. “Don’t tell me he took all that too?”
“Of course he did and not just his share of it. It had taken me two years to save up that money.” And what plans she had had for it all. New linens, not second hand, crockery. A couple of comfy chairs for her and her handsome new husband to sit by the fire in.
“How much altogether.”
“Of mine?” Lily frowned, not wanting to remember all the awful things which George had put her through last summer, even though seeing him had brought it all rushing back. She felt wretched enough now without admitting to Evan what a fool she had been. “Fifteen pounds, three shillings and sixpence exactly. Like an idiot, I’d given it to him the week before he scarpered. For safekeeping he said.”
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