This is wrong, very wrong, Clara thought as she lay awake just an arm’s length away from Evelyn. One shouldn’t have these kinds of feelings.
The train’s rocking would normally have put her right to sleep, as it had on the first leg of their journey south. However, her guilty thoughts plagued her that evening. A constant, nagging worry that something was wrong with her kept her eyes from staying closed. It seemed to only grow stronger with each passing mile.
If Evelyn were male, she supposed it would not be so difficult for her. Romantic feelings between men and women were expected – even among wealthy families such as her own. However, Clara’s parents would never have allowed for her to travel alone with a man who was not her husband or related to her. They hadn’t been so sure about Evelyn’s “influence” when Clara began spending time with her after meeting at a dinner the previous winter. Evelyn was charming and elegant with a fortune three times as large as her own family’s means. They could overlook the fact that Evelyn remained unmarried and published novels. Clara recalled her mother’s words: Perhaps your Miss Grant will introduce you to the right young man.
Sighing, she turned onto her side. What light there was in the compartment illuminated the ghostly outline of Evelyn’s body beneath her covers. Her braided queue of flaming hair still stood out in contrast, albeit dulled slightly in the darkness. Clara could still feel the warmth of her from that night in Paris when their rooms hadn’t been prepared and they had to share a bed. Sleep evaded her then just as it did now.
What was she to do with this predicament? Confessing it to anyone would surely result in Clara’s being shunned or locked away somewhere terrible. She had confided many things in Evelyn over the past few months, but this was something that she could never admit. Certainly Evelyn only thought of her as something of a student, a young friend that she had taken under her wing. Years of familial instruction told her to keep it locked away along with any and all unpleasant feelings that may arise.
She imagined her parents were lining up potential suitors in her absence. Well-bred young men of means and titles who could assure her place in society. Her elder sister, Rose had married a baron two years earlier, and brought the family’s status up considerably by default. Her mother expected someone of equal calibre or better to continue the trend.
Evelyn shifted onto her back, letting out a soft sigh in the shape of her name. Clara shivered and then forced her eyes closed. She couldn’t know that Evelyn dreamt of her, and yet she wondered if they shared the same fantasies…