A Chance

by Mary Kate Crockett

 

Beth could not make her imagination stop as she used it to travel all over the world with this man alongside her…. They could go to Paris, where they would taste the wine; to London, where they could see the palace; to China, where the Great Wall stood; and to Australia, where they would attend an opera…. The possibilities that this rich man offered her were endless.

 

There was only one problem: she did not love him.

 

“James,” she said, but did not continue. James waited for her to speak and answer his request. Beth looked into his blue eyes but moved her gaze to his brown mustache. She had always hated her father’s mustache when he kissed her. But a mustache could be shaved off, couldn’t it? Then her gaze fell to his hands which were holding a diamond ring. She could remember James’ hand moving a little too far down her back while they danced at the ball just a few weeks before. Perhaps it had slipped?

 

Beth moved her gaze back to James’ eyes. What would it be like waking up every morning to them? Life in New York was already miserable.

 

“Beth?” James finally said, prompting her to answer. But Beth’s imagination ran wild yet again.

 

In Paris, how could she enjoy wine with James sitting across the table? In London, how would she be able to see the royals if James was busy at the pubs? In China, how could she enjoy the Great Wall if James blabbered about his previous Asian excursion the entire time? And in Australia, how would it look to everyone around her when she went unattended to the opera house because James was too tired or busy to attend?

 

Yet, there was no other choice. How could she even go to any of these places without James’ money? There wasn’t another way; this was her chance. And not just a chance of travel but a chance of having a life in New York she could be proud of.

 

“Yes,” she said, somewhat to her own surprise. “I’ll marry you.”

 

James kissed her hands. “Wonderful, darling,” he exclaimed. “We’ll start planning right away! We’ll want to get married before the turn of the century, of course. We could be the last couple wed in the 1800s! Or we could even wait until the New Year and get married on the first of January if we'd rather—"

 

Beth managed a smile. “Either way,” she said with fake enthusiasm. “Both sound….” Beth stopped short, unsure of the proper adjective.

 

“Magical?” James suggested, filling in the blank.

 

“Right,” Beth replied as her stomach dropped and the realization of her decision sank in. “Magical.”