A Different Blue Page 37

That Friday night, instead of carving, I watched every version of Pride and Prejudice I could get my hands on. When Cheryl dragged herself home from work eight hours later, I was still sitting on the couch staring at the television as the credits rolled by. The English accent had made it very easy to substitute Wilson into every depiction of Mr. Darcy. He even had the mournful eyes of the actor who played opposite Keira Knightley. I found myself seeing him in every scene, angry with him, crying for him, half in love with him when it was all said and done.

“What are you watching?” Cheryl grumbled, watching Colin Firth stride across the menu screen over and over again, waiting for me to push play.

“Pride and Prejudice,” I clipped, resenting Cheryl's intrusion on my post-Darcy glow.

“For school?”

“No. Just because.”

“You feelin' okay?” Cheryl squinted at me. I guess I couldn't blame her. My preferences usually swung toward The Transporter and old Die Hard movies.

“I was in the mood for something different,” I said non-commitally.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Cheryl looked doubtfully at the screen. “I never cared for that hoity-toity stuff. Maybe it was because in those days I woulda been the one scrubbin' the pots in the kitchen. Hell, girl. You and I woulda been the girls the Duke chased around the kitchen!” Cheryl chuckled to herself. “Definitely not Duchess material, that's for sure.” Cheryl looked at me. “'Course we're Native, which means we wouldn't have been anywhere near England, would we? They might not have even let us scrub the pots.”

I pointed the remote at the screen and Mr. Darcy disappeared. I pulled my pillow over my face and waited until Cheryl went into her bedroom. She had ruined eight perfect hours of pretending in ten seconds. And even worse, she had to remind me that “I wasn't Duchess material.”

I stomped to my room, mentally defending myself. It was perfectly acceptable to have a crush on a fictional character. Most women did! Cheryl, for all her insistence on giving me a reality check, had a thing for vampires, for hell sake!

But that wasn't the problem, and deep down I was too honest to deny it. It was perfectly fine to have a crush on the fictional Mr. Darcy, but it wasn't acceptable to have a thing for the real one. And I had a thing for my young history teacher. No doubt about it.

Chapter Twelve

The test was positive. I took several more over the next few days, until I could no longer convince myself that all the results were wrong. I was pregnant. At least eight weeks along, by my calculation. I had slept with Mason the night Wilson and I had been stranded at the school, and I'd avoided him since. He had called and texted, but other than a few angry messages on my voicemail, making insinuations about “Adam,” he had stayed away. He probably felt guilty about the picture, but I had really hoped he would move on because I had.

I had moved on, but life had sent me hurtling back. And I was devastated. I missed a week of school, called in sick to work, and slept constantly, unable to face the truth. The nausea that had forced me to face the possibility that I might be in trouble in the first place descended on me with a vengeance, making it easier to wallow and hide. Cheryl was mostly oblivious, but after a week of my not leaving the house, I knew I would have to “recover” or risk having to explain to Cheryl what was wrong with me. I wasn't ready for that conversation yet, so I pulled myself together and went back to school and resumed my normal shifts at the cafe. But the knowledge was like a painful sliver trying to work its way out, constantly there, just under the surface, impossible to escape, impossible to eradicate, and before long, impossible to ignore.

We had been talking about the Spanish inquisition for a week, and the correlation between the inquisition and witch hunts had been Wilson's monologue to start the day.

“We think of witchcraft as a mostly medieval phenomenon, but roughly 100,000 people were tried for witchcraft between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries. Of those tried, approximately 60,000 were executed. Burned at the stake, more often than not. 75% of those executed were women. Why the disproportionate numbers? Well, woman are more susceptible to the influence of the devil, see.” Wilson's eyebrows quirked as the girls in the class immediately took issue with his statement.

“What?” he threw his hands up in mock protest. “It all started with Adam and Eve, didn't it? At least that was the logic of the church throughout the medieval period and forward. Many of the women who were accused were poor and elderly. Women also worked in the areas of midwivery and healing. They were the ones who cooked and cared for others, so the idea of them cooking up a potion or poison or casting a spell was an easier label to lay on a woman than a man. Men settled things with their fists, but women were less physical and more verbal, perhaps more prone to giving a tongue lashing that might be construed as a witch's curse. I find it interesting that in history all one had to do to discredit a woman was label her a witch. How do we discredit a strong woman today?”

The class stared back at Wilson, not understanding. And then it clicked.

“You label her a bitch,” I offered boldly.

The class gasped, as was customary when someone let a bad word fly. Wilson didn't flinch though. He just looked at me thoughtfully.

“Yes. It's often the very same thing. Let's compare. Throughout history, women have been defined by beauty. Their worth has been tied to their faces, has it not? So as a woman ages and her beauty fades, what happens to her worth?”

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