“Sophie!” Eden caught up to Sophia and settled in to walk rapidly beside her.
“Let me go, I want to walk alone,” Sophia said.
“Please! Eleanor told me not to tell you. But I shouldn’t have listened.” Eden reached out to brush her fingers across Sophia’s sleeve.
Sophia slowed her pace and glanced at Eden.
They were coming to a small park. “Please sit and talk to me.” Eden pleaded with the girl.
Sophia said nothing, but walked to a bench and sat, focusing on her own hands as she smoothed her skirt and folded them almost primly in her lap.
Eden sat beside her and reached out again to touch her arm. “It was weeks ago; a late night in the studio—she gave me a drink and… It was so stupid. I was such a fool. I told her to go and I’ve never seen her again.”
Sophia was quiet for a long time.
“It doesn’t matter though, does it? Whether you’ve seen her again,” Sophia began. “There must be a thousand girls just like her in Paris, all more than happy to get you drunk and…” She looked from her hands out into the street. She blinked hard. She didn’t want to cry.
“It was a mistake. I swear it won’t happen again. Darling…” Eden picked up Sophia’s hand and squeezed it. But Sophia still did not look at her.
Finally she spoke quietly. “This is really the least of it, isn’t it? It isn’t just models. It’s girls like Sylvie Babin. It’s Bette Nourse. It’s…it’s all of Paris!” Sophia took her hand away from Eden and waved it vaguely in the air. “There is too much here for me to ask you to give up. Why should you?” She looked back at her lap again. “I was a fool to think you could or even ought to.”
“But it isn’t like that at all,” Eden insisted. “I don’t want anything or anyone but you.”
Sophia finally looked back at Eden. “That isn’t true. You want many, many things that have nothing to do with me.”
Eden shifted her weight uncomfortably. “You want things that have nothing to do with me,” she argued. “You could come to the Ecole de Medecine and we could be here together.”
“I told you, Eden, I don’t have the money for it and my parents…”
“If you had the money you would come?”
“It doesn’t matter. I don’t.” Sophia finally looked Eden in the eye. “What would I do in Paris, anyway? I don’t belong with these women at your parties; with your artist friends. I’m just plain, practical Miss Abington from New England. Everyone wonders why brilliant, handsome Eden Smith bothers with me. I see it.”
“If you don’t want to come to Paris, I’ll go back to Boston,” Eden said in a rush.
“You won’t.” Sophia said firmly. “I will never ask it of you.” She paused and grew quieter, “You’re barely the Eden I knew anymore. I can’t imagine who you will be in another year.”
“No—” said Eden with growing distress. “I’m still just your own boy,” she lowered her voice to a near whisper. “You know me better than I know myself.”
But Sophia shook her head, tears breaking at last. “Anyone could see that I’m going to lose you someday. Why not now?”
At this, Eden took Sophia’s hand up again, kissing the finger that bore her ring. “There are not a thousand girls together who could mean as much to me as your brilliant little finger,” she said. “I promised that I would never to let you go and I’m not going to now.”
“You already have.” Sophia said.