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“Oh, John, don’t you see? There is no longer just a John and a Fanny. There is an us.

He stepped away from my touch, his face tragic and his eyes filling with unshed tears as he cried in a plaintive wail, “Brown is going to kill me!”

His words were like a coolant, making me stand straight and pull back my hand. Neither of us spoke for long moments before I said in a voice that didn’t sound my own, “So he has told you of his feelings toward me?”

John nodded, shamefaced. “Every last thought and breath he takes is for you. He showed me your letters in Scotland. He always kept them in his inside coat pocket and would read and reread them as we walked. I admired you from our first meeting but I…but I…” He paused to take a ragged, tear-choked breath. He looked as if he might die of guilt from hurting the one man who, by John's own words, had been nothing but kind and encouraging to him. “But it’s bad sport to press your best friend’s girl. All this while I’ve been burning inside with love for you, Fanny, yet have said nothing in the fear that you might regard his feelings whilst shun mine. My dear, dear girl,” he added with sudden ardency before quickening forward to grasp both my hands in his. “Say you admire me above all others. Say there has never been anyone but I in your nightly prayers. I love you so, Fanny. More than sonnets and verses will ever express.”

Praise for Molly Zenk

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