This is it the 2nd to last chapter then it's on to a different story.
Oh good god no I never though my writing was poor enough to be compared to that rag Scarlett, now I am terribly sad. Oh who will confort me
The carriage pulled into the stone drive of Osborne House; the tiny bluestones kicked up by the wheels pelted the side of the carriage.
"That sounds as though it's raining," Scarlett commented listening to the stones striking the carriage doors...
"And it wouldn't matter if it was, today I'm going to see my daughter. It's a wonderful day."
Scarlett laughed. "Aren't you Mr. Sunny," She teased.
"So what if I am, it's not everyday a man meets his daughter for the first time."
Fussing with her skirts Scarlett tried to decide how best to approach a difficult subject concerning Bess, finally she decided to simply say what was on her mind. "Rhett, just don't expect too much…at first," she added quickly.
"What do you mean? She's a baby, of course I'm not expecting very much, she's barely 18 months old."
"She just might be confused about who you are to her." Scarlett glanced out the window as Osborne House began to loom large in its entire splendor before them.
A thought came to him and he tried to voice it calmly. "Does she call the Prince, daddy?"
She shook her head slightly, she could hear the sadness behind those words and she spoke softly trying to comfort him. "No, she calls him Birdie actually. But she doesn't know the word daddy in relation to calling a man daddy. I honestly don't expect that she'll use it, at least at first. She's also a little shy around strangers, I just don't want you to expect an instant bond like you had with Bonnie."
The carriage came to a halt and the door opened a minute later.
Rhett stepped out first and offered his hand to help Scarlett down. A tall, thin, gray-haired man stood a few steps away from the carriage.
The man bowed low to Scarlett, demonstrating to Rhett just how well thought of Scarlett was in apparently all of the Prince of Wales residences. "Madame Robiliard it's a pleasure to have you back in residence.
"Thank you Clyde, but it's no longer Madame Robiliard, it's Mrs. Butler. Would you let the staff know."
If Clyde thought anything unusual in that his mistress had returned without his employer and with a husband in tow he didn't let it show.
"Of course Mrs. Butler. I've taken the liberty of having the heads of staff schedule an appointment to be in your salon at 5 o'clock."
"You knew I was returning?"
"Yes Mrs. Butler, the Prince sent word this morning to expect you in the afternoon."
Scarlett gestured to Renee who came to join them. "Clyde caution the staff the less said about myself and the Prince, the better." Clyde bowed low. She turned slightly to address her maid, "Renee please go up to the nursery and have her nanny prepare Bess."
Scarlett shook her head slightly.
Renee blushed a pretty shade of rose. "Mrs. Butler."
Rhett offered Scarlett his arm and together they entered the house, which thanks to the generosity of the Prince, was now hers.
Once they arrived in Scarlett's suite Rhett began to look anxious.
"She's going to love you," Scarlett offered.
"I already love her, it feels odd to suddenly have a child once more."
The sound of the door opening caught his attention. A blond woman in a blue dress with a starched white apron entered the room holding a child.
The baby's green eyes fell upon her mother and she chortled joyfully.
Scarlett rose and took the baby from the nurse. The child snuggled close to her mother and played with the earbobs dangling from Scarlett's ear lobes. Rhett began to walk over to them but Scarlett gestured toward the couch. He sat and waited for them to do the same.
"Bess, Bess baby, this is your daddy," Scarlett said softly.
Bess looked over at Rhett and shook her head back and forth widely.
Rhett looked at Scarlett who was gave him an encouraging smile.
"Yes." Scarlett said.
"No, no, no." said Bess still shaking her head.
"Rhett, it's nothing personal, this month everything is no. Last month it was cat, everything she saw was a cat."
She gently handed Bess over to Rhett who held her, he resisted the urge to hug her to hard so instead he just stroked her black baby soft curls.
"She looks very much like you."
"She has your chin."
Rhett glanced down at the firm rounded jaw of his baby daughter "No doubt she'll grow into it." The baby began to wriggle in his arms.
"Put her down on the carpet, ever since she's learned to walk she can hardly bear to be held. She likes to explore."
Reluctantly Rhett put his daughter down. She immediately toddled over to Scarlett and began playing with her mother's skirts.
"She doesn't put up with cuddling for too long, I'm sorry to say."
"Don't apologize, she seems happy."
Scarlett nodded. She reached down and tickled her daughter's neck. "I suppose we should start making plans to go to America."
"You don't really want to though, do you?"
"Honestly, no. I hate the thought of all those people judging me."
"I swear I'll make it as bearable as possible."
Scarlett laughed and picked Bess up. "Does that mean you'll throw water on the fire when the townspeople try to burn me at the stake."
Two Months Later
Rhett closed the door to the Butler's cabin aboard the Lucania, a steamship owned by the White Star line. The trip to Charleston had not gone as well as he had hoped it would. His sister had been the main source of conflict.
His mother, of course, had been overjoyed to find that she was a grandmother once more. She exclaimed over how the baby had her Uncle Rutherford's ears, which Rhett had inherited. His sister, on the other hand, had taken precious little time before insinuating Bess was a bastard and Scarlett was obviously taking advantage of Rhett's feelings for children. His child to be more specific.
Rhett had thanked God that Scarlett had been at Sally's house during the exchange between him and Rosemary. Rosemary had dragged him into the library while his mother introduced the baby to her garden club.
"You are letting mama become far to attached to the child. What happens if Scarlett decides to run back to that child's father?"
"I am Bess's father. Mother sees it, nearly everyone in Charleston sees it, why can't you?"
Rosemary snorted, "Because I know a whore when I see one."
"And yet you chose not to warn me about Anne." He couldn't help it, the retort left his lips before he could swallow it in the interest of sibling unity.
"Anne was seduced by that Doctor and we all know it."
"We meaning you perhaps, the rest of this town sees things as they really were. Anne trying desperately to marry me while I was sick over Scarlett."
"You're still sick over her. Don't think I don't see how your eyes follow her while she's in the room. You stare at her like a tomcat stares at a mouse. Every time someone encounters Scarlett your fists clench at your side as though you were preparing to smash a fist in the face of anyone that dare comment on the fact she was a run away wife."
"She didn't run away, I pushed her till she had no alternative but to leave."
"She brought however you treated her on herself."
Rhett crossed over to the window and peered out through the rain. "That isn't the truth."
Rosemary flopped down on the love seat. "That's not what you told me two years ago. You told me she only married you for your money and that she was obsessed with that Wilkes man. She didn't act like a wife then, why should I believe she's suddenly transformed."
"I told you too damn many things now that I think about it."
Rosemary stood and joined Rhett at the window. "Please," she beseeched him, "She made you so unhappy the last time you were with her, how can you forget that? How can you ask me to forget what she's done to you."
"She's forgotten a lot of what I've done to her. I owe her that same courtesy."
"And you believe that child to be yours?"
"Bess, my daughter's name is Bess. No more of this child nonsense, she has a name."
Rosemary shrugged and stalked out of the room leaving her brother in an angry state of mind. His spinster sister had no right to judge the complexities of his marriage to Scarlett. He wished he'd never made her privy to the pitfalls of his marriage. If he hadn't she wouldn't have specific examples of Scarlett's shortfalls to throw in his face.
Later that night Rhett climbed into the bed in his bedroom in the house that he had bought for his mother after the war. His mother, savvy as she was, immediately ascertained from the way that he treated Scarlett that this visit he and his wife would most certainly share the same bed.
"How was Sally?"
"Sally is Sally as usual. She took me in her arms before two dozen women during her at home and wept on my shoulder about how the wicked Anne chased me from the loving bosom of my family and friends. I felt like the heroine in a half-penny novel."
"Sally can always be counted on when a friend is in need."
Scarlett shifted over slightly, "Your sister despises me." It wasn't a question, but rather a sad observation.
"Rosemary is still having difficulties in understanding how we became reconciled."
"Also how I convinced you that Bess is your daughter must remain a mystery to her."
"I know Bess is my daughter and that's all that's important."
They said their good nights and Rhett wrapped his arms around her as she drifted off. Rhett stared up at the ceiling. He had initially thought that he could convince her to stay in Charleston for at least six months so that his mother could bond with Bess. His sister was making that impossible.
Rosemary was openly hostile to Scarlett and she ignored Bess. That hurt his mother greatly. She wasn't happy that Rosemary hated Scarlett, but she could understand that. Rosemary was convinced that Scarlett had hurt Rhett and couldn't be trusted to not do so again. But to treat Bess as a nonentity, that sentiment his mother couldn't understand.
Then there was his brother Ross. Ross had lost his wife Elizabeth the year before and since then he'd descended into a constant drunker stupor. The only times he rose out of it lately were to make attacks on Scarlett's character. It had nearly come to blows but Rhett's mother had intervened and asked Ross not to come to the house again until he was sober. Rhett assumed he wouldn't see his brother again for the rest of their visit.
Finally with much on his mind he drifted off into a fitful slumber.