Kieran sat against the door outside the old nursery, listening to her sob. He was confused. He’d imagined that the worst – undoubtedly the confrontation with Mr. and especially Mrs. Stephens – was over. Certainly Mrs. Stephens had lectured them for over an hour on the disgrace they both were, and how a minister’s daughter was supposed to be an example to the community, and Mr. Stephens had just sat their silently with a disappointed look on his face that was much, much worse than the lecture.
But nobody had run off to their room to cry.
“Darcy, let me in!” he called, banging on the door. Kieran had never been very subtle. “You’re being ridiculous. We’ll be living here! You’ll see more of me than you did when I was away at grammar school.”
The sobs gave way to a hot silence. She’s not sad, he realised. She’s angry.
“You’re supposed to be happy for me!” he told her. “I’m getting married, not going to war!”
Then, without warning, the door opened and he found himself lying in the doorway, looking up into his sister’s very red, very angry face.
“You think this is all about you, don’t you?” she spat, and kicked him in the shoulder.
“Ow! Darcy, that hurt!”
“I only have stockings on, you sissy, and you’re changing the subject again! Didn’t it occur to you that I don’t want to move out of the nursery?”
Kieran stared at her. “You’re fifteen! You should have moved out years ago!”
“And I didn’t because father turned your room into a study when you went to boarding school, and the only alternative was the damp room at the back!”
“We’ll move mother back in with father.”
“You know that won’t work! She wakes up five times a night and goes wandering nearly every time, and where will Sally sleep? She has to keep an eye on her, but it would definitely cause gossip were she to sleep in the same room as father!”
“Father sleeps in his study,” Kieran pointed out. “I don’t think he’s even working any more. Hey, we could move mother back into father’s room, move father into the study, and you into mother’s room!”
Darcy gave him a withering look and stomped to the windowsill, which was where she spent most of her free time. “You’re being selfish and you know it. Everyone has to move because of you! You know how mother reacts to any kind of change to the routine.”
“She changes the routine herself quite often,” Kieran said. “Didn’t you find her pulling up all the lavender in the kitchen garden last week?”
Darcy flushed and scowled out the window, refusing to look at him.
“Look, what would you have me do?”
“Don’t marry her,” Darcy said. “Stay and live in your nursery room with me. Or go back to boarding school, I don’t care. Just don’t start moving us all about.”
“I can’t not marry her Darcy,” he said. He’d hoped he wouldn’t have to tell her this. “She’s with child already.”
Darcy stared at him. The silence grew awkward.
“You really are a complete idiot, aren’t you?”
Kieran had been wrong. He could stand the wrath of all Edgewood parish, but his own little sister could still flip his ego on its head and play ball with it.
He left the nursery quickly, stopping only to punch the wall on his way out.