Complicated Courtship is a short story about Kirsten, a staunch patriot during the American Revolution whose fiance has stopped paying attention to her. She fears he no longer loves her but isn't willing to let it go. Seducing him on the advice of her stepmom, Kirsten realizes it isn't that James no longer loves her, but that he's being blackmailed by a British officer.
“If you’ll excuse me, I’m gong to look for James.”
She saw Margaret nod serenely from the corner of her eye, but focused her attention on the Lieutenant.
He sputtered a little. “Isn’t it proper for the two of you to meet here in the parlor?”
“Oh, it’s no bother,” Margaret said casually. Waving a dismissing hand she added, “Let the young couple have a few moments of privacy.”
Nodding to her stepmother, Kirsten quickly exited. Her footsteps echoing sharply in the hall, she wasn’t paying attention and ran straight into James’ chest.
“Oh!” she gasped, looking up at him.
His arms steadied her, and Kirsten swore she could feel his touch through her many layers of clothing. Caught in his intense blue gaze, all she could think of were the things Margaret told her. For a heartbeat, his face showed his emotions, and it was the James she remembered. But then he closed himself off, and she wondered if she’d imagined it.
Breath short, she shakily stepped backwards. His hands stayed on her waist for a moment, before he, too, moved away.
“He’s an insufferable man,” she managed. Her voice sounded breathless, and she had to clear her throat before going on. “I don’t know how you stand him in your house.”
He looked to the side, and she wondered what he thought. “He’ll be gone before long.”
Opening her mouth to say more on Leftenant Cromwell, Kirsten changed her mind and stepped closer. This was her chance. Ignoring the nerves in her stomach, she said softly, “I hope for nothing more,” she turned his face to hers, wishing she was taller, “than for your attention.”
James’ surprise gaze hurt, but she went on.
“I’ve missed you,” she whispered, threading her fingers through his queue. His unpowdered hair was soft beneath her fingertips. “I don’t see why we have to be apart until our wedding night.”