“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 17 (PG, D):  Leave it to the Ladies,   October 22, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1109)

(“Somerset:  A Time to Love” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2017; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

Author’s Dramatic Content Note:  I write romantic love stories for adults, aged 18 and older.  So most of the chapters will be PG-13 due to mature themes (M), or dramatic moments (D). And some of the chapters have romantic and sensual, but not explicit, love scenes that I will label as (L).  So if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.

Additional Disclaimer:  The Wiki and other reference links that I cite contain general information merely to allude to a place, person, concept/theory/belief, history, or artifact, etc.  This story is a work of fiction, and people and their thoughts and actions are figments of my imagination and should not be taken as real or as fact.  And though the general backgrounds of the characters and the story’s contextual setting involve mentions of the Christian religion—with an Anglican/Episcopal focus—this story is a romance, not a religious tract.

[And from time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of:  Richard Armitage as Prof. Benedict Somerset, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Leicester, Loretta Devine as Connie Velasquez, John Lithgow as Seminary President Maynard Casten, and Jane Alexander as his wife Portia Casten, and others as noted.]

Author’s recap from the previous chapter:   After sharing their joyous engagement news with Benedict’s clergy colleagues on Palm Sunday April 21st, they are stunned to discover that Laura’s divorced status might prevent them from marrying in the Chicago Seminary College’s Chapel, but it might also prevent Benedict from marrying Laura and remaining a clergy faculty member.  Benedict is livid. And Laura is devastated.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Chapter  17 (PG, D):  Leave it to the Ladies

After Henry the Chapel Director informs Benedict about the extra canonical implications of their regional Bishop trying to prevent he and Laura from marrying in the Chicago Seminary College’s Chapel, Benedict is livid and channels his anger by trying to come up with some solutions.

Meanwhile, Laura has quickly dashed into the ladies room–dodging a few more well wishers in the hallway–after hearing that her being a divorced woman might prevent she and Benedict from marrying in the church—or even, at all because he is a minister.  Though the ladies lounge area’s dusty rose russet tones and soft lighting looks lovely and soothing [(2) below], Laura goes to the privacy of the last stall in the adjacent restroom–the spacious handicap stall–her hoping that she doesn’t inconvenience anyone by her using it.  Laura enters it, locks the door, pulls out some tissues from her purse and begins to weep as she leans against the wall.

Laura had to get away from the conversation she and Benedict were having with his colleague Henry, before her carefully constructed façade of composure crumbled.  Five years.  It has been five years since her divorce and the humiliation she felt with her former husband’s betrayal.  Well four years, really, since she decided to put the past behind her and not dwell upon it.  She could not change it, she could only move on.

Yet Laura’s moving on exacted a price upon her psyche, in her unwillingness to have herself be vulnerable again to another person’s whims of faithfulness.  So she had steeled herself from her emotions and any relationship with others beyond friendship—her telling herself that she didn’t need anyone to love or be loved by, that she needed no  man in her life.  Yet when Benedict came into her life—with his own similar walls erected to keep people from getting personal with him—she was inexorably drawn to him, as if he gave essential air to her lungs.  Their initial fitful interactions having given way to a tenderness and a deepening love for each other.

And now, Laura feels like she has indeed fallen over that cliff she had worried about when talking to Connie after having first met Benedict and Connie tried to play matchmaker.  Laura wonders if God is playing a cruel joke on her–to let her find love again–but true love this time, her love of a lifetime–only to prevent her from keeping this happiness.

As Laura’s weeping continues for several minutes, it is noticed by Portia Casten who happens to walk into the ladies room.  Not knowing initially who is in distress, Portia says sincerely to Laura’s closed stall door.

PortiaC:   “My dear, I don’t know what your problems are, but I’m sure we can find a solution.  Will you let me help you?”

Laura:  “Nothing can help!”  She wails.

PortiaC:  “Oh you’d be surprised what two ladies’ brains can come up with?”  Portia gently jests, but also offers her support.

Laura:   “Women can’t overrule a bishop.”  Laura’s voice cracks with her anguish.  And she wonders, how can I be without Benedict now?

PortiaC:  “That old codger of a Bishop?  Most of us can’t wait until he retires.  Come now, my dear.   Tell me what’s wrong.”

Laura:  Still in her stall and still not revealing her name–but her circumstances will–Laura knowing that Portia is the lady on the other side of the stall, Laura forces herself to explain, but her hoping not to reveal herself. “My fiancé and I want to marry in the church, but there’s some rule that says divorced people can’t have a church ceremony or blessing.  … And I was divorced.” She sobs and relents by letting Portia know who she is. “And if they tell Benedict that he can’t marry me at all because he is a minister and I am a divorced woman, I can’t make him choose between his church and me.”  Laura wails woefully.

PortiaC:  “Laura Dear, it won’t come to that.”  Of course, Portia had figured out who was crying.  “… if that nonsense about divorced persons were a real rule, do you think that my husband Maynard and I would have been able to marry 40 years ago?  I was divorced, too.”

Laura:  “Hhh!”  Stunned, Laura gasps.

PortiaC:  “Now won’t you come out of the stall and we’ll talk?  A metal door is not conducive to us chatting.” Because Portia cannot put her arms around Laura to comfort her, as she knows Laura needs comforting.

Astonished that not only Mrs. Casten sympathizes with her plight, but that she had also been divorced—and years ago, at a time when divorce was much more of a social stigma than it is today, except for Bishops, it would seem–Laura slowly opens the stall door.  And she lets herself be lead to the sitting room area of the ladies lounge—sinking into the soft couch cushions.

Laura:  “Mrs. Casten, do you really think Benedict and I can be married in the church—and he won’t have to give up being a minister?”  Laura asks despairingly.

PortiaC:  “There, there, Laura Dear.”  Portia enfolds Laura in a warm and motherly hug as she comforts her, soothing rubbing Laura’s back.  “Of course I do, we just have to put our minds to it.”  Thinking for a moment, a growing smile infuses Portia’s face as she comes up with a plan.  “We’ll simply use a strategy that has worked effectively with some men in power in the wider church organization who try to diminish others.”

Laura:  “What’s that?”  Laura asks sniffling over Mrs. Casten’s shoulder.

PortiaC:  “We’ll just tell this Bishop,”  Portia’s voice drips with disdain for him having such an important leadership position and him making judgements about others.  “… if he can’t recognize that divorce is sometimes necessary for women—or men for that matter–then we won’t give the diocese the  $100,000 that the women of the diocese have fundraised this year, unless he gives in and lets you be married in the church.  We women will not let anyone try to diminish us through artificially created man made rules.”

Laura:  Pulling back to look at Mrs. Casten in disbelief, Laura’s face shows a glimmer of hope in her widened eyes. “Can you do that?   I mean, I don’t want to get anyone else in trouble with the bishop.”

PortiaC:  “Laura dear, you’re not in trouble with the bishop.”  Portia caresses Laura’s tear stained face.  “And though prayer is the business we’re in …” Portia says cheekily.  “… and it works, I also believe in using all of the tools at our disposal–and money talks!”  Portia eyes twinkle with devious delight, and Laura gives her a wan smile.  “That’s better.  Now, let’s dry your eyes and fix your makeup, Laura Dear.  You want to be composed again for your fiancé, Benedict, when we walk back out there.”

Laura:  Laura slowly nods her head and says.  “Yes, I do.  Thank you for your kindness, Mrs. Casten.”

PortiaC:  Giving Laura another warm hug, Portia warmly says.  “Please call me Portia, Laura dear.  Considering that we’re in league with each other now, we should really be on a first name basis.”  Portia smiles mischievously and they both laugh.

Laura dries her eyes and repairs her makeup somewhat.  When Laura feels fully in control of herself and her emotions, she and Portia walk out of the ladies room and back to the coffee hour reception.

***

It is now about 11:30am on Sunday as Laura and Portia return to the coffee hour reception.  They walk directly over to Benedict who stands up to greet them.  Seeing Laura’s still sad expression on her face and her tear reddened eyes, Benedict opens his arms and Laura gratefully embraces him as he embraces her and he kisses her forehead.  Benedict looks quizzically at Portia.

PortiaC:  Seeing Benedict’s look, Portia caringly squeezes Laura’s shoulder.  “Everything will be alright, my dears.”  Laura gives Portia a small smile of thanks.  “Benedict, Laura and I were just strategizing how to pull the rug out from under the bishop.”

Benedict:   “Oh?”  Benedict’s deep voice rumbles through his chest as Laura nestles in closer to him and Benedict gently rocks her back and forth soothingly as he strokes her back and he kisses her forehead.

PortiaC:  “Yes Benedict.  You see, I was also divorced long ago.  It’s not something Maynard and I broadcast–not because I’m ashamed of it, but because it happened so long ago and it was painful for me.”   Benedict’s eyebrows rise in hearing this news for the first time, but he says nothing.  “But then, I met my wonderful husband Maynard and my life has been a complete joy–as your lives will be, my dears.”  Portia encourages them comfortingly.

Laura:  Finally finding her voice, she says  “Thank you Mrs… Portia.”  Laura says smiling more hopefully at Portia and then up at Benedict.

Benedict:   “What’s the strategy?”  He asks quizzically looking at Laura–whom he sweetly kisses on her lips–and then he looks at Portia.

PortiaC:  “Oh, we’ll just withhold the $100,000 from the diocese in women’s fundraising efforts this year until the bishop blinks.”  She states cheekily.  “Doing so tweny years ago at the national church level got women the right to vote on church matters just like their male counterparts.  So our plan can certainly do a little thing like have your marriage blessed in a church–or the chapel, in this case.”  She states gleefully.

Benedict:   “You’re formidable!”  Benedict says looking nonplussed at Portia.

PresMaynardC:  “Yes, she is.”  Pres. Casten smiles walking up to his wife Portia and putting his arm around her waist, then looking to Benedict and Laura.   “What are we talking about?”

Portia:  “Oh, we’ll discuss it more over lunch, Maynard Dear.  It is such a lovely day outside.  Shall we all walk over to the residence?”  Portia gestures to Benedict and Laura as she takes her husband’s arm.  Then, they all walk over to the Seminary’s official residence for the seminary president–the Casten’s home.

***

It is now 11:45am on a beautiful Sunday morning as Benedict and Laura, and Maynard and Portia, walk into the spacious and warm Chicago Seminary College’s presidential residence.  Benedict has been in here only one other time–when the seminary hosted a welcome reception for new faculty, like himself, who came in mid year.  However today, the Castens guide Benedict and Laura to a back patio for luncheon–since the Spring weather is so lovely and the crocuses are blooming.

PresMaynardC:  “Now, isn’t this nice?”  Maynard smiles encouragingly to Benedict and Laura as he gestures to them to sit down and they do–while Portia goes to tell their cook that there will be four for luncheon today.  “Let me say again how thrilled Portia and I are for you two, Benedict and Laura.  We hope that you’ll be very happy together.”

Benedict:   “Thank you, President Casten.   I’m sure that we will be.”  Laura nods with a small smile.

PresMaynardC:  “Please call me Maynard, Benedict.  We’re just informal around the house.”  He says gesturing to what is arguably a large manor type house.  “Portia doesn’t let me get away with being president unless we’re at a formal function.”  He laughs.

Benedict:   “Thank you Maynard.”  Benedict nods formally as he smiles warmly at him.

Laura:  Laughing softly, she says.  “Portia is very warm and down to earth.”

PresMaynardC:  “Yes, very.  Now what were you two ladies talking about strategy?  Hmm?”  His mind is rife with curiosity.

Portia:  Walking up to them with their iced teas on a tray, Portia sets it down.  Then after placing their iced teas in front of each of them as they wait for their served meals to be ready, Portia then sits down.   “Laura Dear, do you want to tell him or shall I?”

Laura:  Looking a bit shy, since she now must reveal to President Casten that she is divorced, Laura begins. “President Casten,  …”

PresMaynardC:  “It’s just Maynard for you, too, Laura Dear, we’re sitting around chatting as friends.”  He says warmly and Benedict beams.

Laura:  “Maynard, …” She smiles.  “… it’s just that the Chapel Director told Benedict and that we might not be able to marry in the chapel–or any diocesan church–because of the bishop’s policy against divorced people being remarried on church grounds or with the church’s blessing.   And he said that as a minister, Benedict might not be allowed to marry me at all.   I felt …  well, I took that policy very personally this morning.”  She says tearing up a bit again.  “You see, I was divorced many years ago from my first husband who left me for a younger woman.”

Benedict:   “Oh my darling, …”  Benedict says putting his arm around Laura and bringing her hand up to his lips.  “I’m so sorry.  The Chapel Director’s statement about church policy also confounded me.  But we’ll find a way to surmount it.”

Portia:  “Maynard Dear, …”   She says laying her hand on her husband’s arm.  “… when Laura and I chatted in the ladies room, I told Laura that I had been divorced years ago before you and I were married.”  Portia smiles warmly at her husband, then comfortingly at Laura who smiles back at her.  “I told Laura that if the bishop caused them any problems, we’ll just hit him in his diocesan pocketbook and withhold the $100,000 in fundraising dollars the diocesan women have raised this year.”

Pres. MaynardC:  “Portia Dear, you are positively Machiavellian!”  He laughs gleefully.  “See Benedict and Laura, that’s why I love her so.”  Maynard’s voice is tinged with love and passion for his wife, even these 40 years later.  Then Maynard gives his wife of forty years a loving peck on her cheek and she smiles.

Benedict:   “Well, it’s nice to have you on our side.”  Benedict states aloud, a bit nonplussed because he still has to seek permission from another quarter in order to marry Laura.

Laura:  “Yes, thank you.”   She says a bit meekly.

Portia: “Laura Dear, you’ll have consternations enough becoming a minister’s wife–most of them quite amusing.  Oh the stories I could tell!”  Portia laughs bemusedly.   “And I will when we’re in private, Laura Dear.”   Portia says conspiratorially.  “But, you shouldn’t have to face difficulties from the church.   Dedicating ourselves to a life of faith, doesn’t require us to squelch who we are as persons–because it is the very act of bringing ourselves and our unique contributions to this life of faith that makes it a richer and more rewarding experience for everyone with whom we come into contact.”

Laura:  “That’s good to hear, Portia.”  Laura says warmly to her, for it is Portia’s own understanding of and experience with divorce that has helped Laura see that the church has compassionate people in it.   “So Portia, do you lead classes on comportment for minister’s wives, or future minister’s wives?”  Laura asks cheekily, starting to get her spirits back.  And Benedict almost does a spit take with his iced tea, since as Laura knows he teaches ministerial comportment.

PortiaC:  “Oh, it’s not as formal as all that.  But we ladies–ministers’ wives and lay ladies–do get together regularly for our service work and our mutual support.”

Pres. MaynardC:  “And they’re a force to be reckoned with–as you can tell!”  He says nodding his head animatedly with his eyes wide.

Benedict:   “See Laura Darling, not to worry.  All will be well.”  Benedict smiles gazing lovingly down at Laura as he tenderly caresses her cheek with his finger and she smiles also.

The Castens and the soon to be Somersets go on to have a lovely and friendly Palm Sunday lunch.

To be continued with Chapter 18

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 17,  October 22, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1109)

1)  The Somerset:  A Time for Love” story cover is a composite of two main images:
a) Background–Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user AlicePopkorn2]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/47283811@N06/  ;
b) Prof. Benedict Somerset image is of Richard Armitage (2012 Promo by Roberta Ascroft, pix35) found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/RobertAscroft-35.jpg
c)  a crucifix image is from MS Office Clip Art;

2) The warm and lovely ladies lounge image representing the CSC Chapel Ladies Lounge is from the First United Methodist Church was found at http://www.bellapbd.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/First-United-Methodist-Commercial-Section.jpg

 

Wattpad Ch. 17 story link:
https://www.wattpad.com/485265765-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 16 blog link, with embedded illustrations:
https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/10/13/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-16-pg-going-to-the-chapel-october-13-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1106/

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Posted in "Somerset: A Time to Love" by GL, Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, marriage, Richard Armitage, Romance, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What she said: The Conspiracy of Silence #MeToo, October 18, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1108)

With all of the current outrage, openness, and solidarity among women about the need to speak up and be heard, I was quite struck by blogger friend Esther’s own account of what she experienced in her essay on her Book of Esther blog, “The Conspiracy of Silence #MeToo“.

And her essay inspired me to also say out loud, #MeToo.  My remarks on Esther’s blog appear below:

Hi Esther, Thanks so much for sharing your awful experiences with us. That had to have been tough. Big Hugs! Grati

For me–and yes, “me, too”, unfortunately–even the label of “sexual harrassment” hasn’t been around for that long, let alone the concept, maybe 10 to 15 years. And that is a problem when trying to make colleagues (often male) understand why it is wrong.

Nor have the more recent business policies “to try” to address the need to create a less hostile work environment–or even just a walking around in the world less hostile environment–have not been able to make many improvements.

Over the years/decades, I have spoken up and spoken out against harrassment, bullying, etc., as a private person–and I have been retaliated against. But I never backed down, nor let them think that their behavior was acceptable–however much I privately cringed with each instance, and the renewed shock that it happened again. And when other women needed or need protection, I have given it–often literally standing up to the harrasser for that other woman who is still in shock that this type of behavior goes on, with misogyny as one of its root causes.

Because make no mistake, harrassment isn’t about sex, or beauty, or a boys will be boys mentality–it’s about power and attempting to diminish the dignity of another person, often women. And that is simply not acceptable.

So when people in charge (above our “paygrade”) continue to make excuses for their harrassing colleagues–which only enables the harrassers to continue their harrassing behaviors–the situation for women doesn’t remove or even alleviate the harrassment.

However, I am surrounded by many more men–including my wonderful hubby–who are the good guys. Which give me hope. And this new grass roots initiative by women public figures–and the rest of us chiming in– is a good start to raising the awareness and the need for change in our society.

And I’m heartened to read about women and girls standing up for each other–and the call for “good” men and boys to stand up for women and girls–against harrassment and assault, etc. Because if not now, when?

P.S. Sorry for my long comment, but I had to get it off my chest.

And Esther’s remarks were prompted by an essay by Guylty: Me Too, [And I am neither an actor nor pretty].

Esther’s and Guylty’s and my stories are just the tip of the iceberg. And we have not shared all of it yet–at least in my case.  Yet we are strong and resilient women, as are you.

So I hope that by my standing with these and other women and sharing a bit of my story, that will help bring the issue of harrassment even more into the open to be discussed and dealt with.  If not for my benefit, for the benefit of women who come after me in the workplace and beyond.

Hugs & Love!   Grati

P.S. And on a related note of solidarity, if I could “take a knee” and be assured that I would be able to literally get back up again–given my arthritis and herniated discs–I would.  I am also inspired by Colin Kaepernick’s respectful protests.

Posted in #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, Dignity, Goodwill, Gratiana Lovelace, Inspiration, My Life, Protest, Respect, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love, Video, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Richard Armitage and Cast Deliver in Berlin Station’s Season 2 Premiere on October 15th, October 16, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1107)

***only mini spoilers***

I gotta say that my waiting to watch the premiere of Berlin Station Season 2 (below) until its October 15th, 2017 Sunday night premiere date was definitely worth the wait.

The talented British actor Richard Armitage and other cast in the core ensemble deliver in Berlin Station Season 2!  And here’s why (with only minor spoilers):

Not only did we still have Richard Armitage back to reprise his role as spy Daniel Miller.  We knew that the character of Daniel Miller was still alive, but it’s nice to get that confirmation that he’s not just in flashback sequences.  Daniel looks older and seems more menacing in his overall look (below) and demeanor.  Good!

Not only did EPIX  give us the first two episodes broadcast back to back.  Though I really miss commercials for that much needed potty break.

Not only was the view of Rhys Ifans in the back of the Berlin Station Season 2 characters portrait with the characters standing (below), enough of a teaser to hope that Hector and Daniel would team up again.  No spoilers.

L to R:  Ashley Judd, Richard Jenkins, Richard Armitage, Leland Orser, Keke Palmer, Michelle Forbes and Rhys Ifans

Not only does Ashley Judd as new Berlin Station Station Chief  BB Yates hit the ground running at taking the reins—in four inch high heels no less.  I sense that the determined Deputy Chief Robert Kirsch—like a dog with a bone–portrayed by Leland Orser becoming very intrigued.

Not only does new recruit April Lewis (portrayed by Keke Palmer) give Valerie Edwards (portrayed by Michelle Forbes) heart palpitations when April sticks her neck out, figuratively speaking.

And not only do Daniel and Esther Krug  (portrayed by Mina Tander) have an almost kiss moment in episode 1.  But the ambience wasn’t quite right. The room was a bit … crowded–if you get my drift.

But Richard Armitage portraying Daniel Miller also had the best line of the night, in Episode 1 (the dialogue is paraphrased):

The scene is a dingy and dirty no tell motel where Esther Krug is helping Daniel Miller establish his latest undercover persona by her providing a cadaver for Daniel to pretend to have killed–in the hope of making him seem like a shady character for his latest bad guys targets that he has to infiltrate.

The only problem is that Daniel discovers that the corpse is lacking something when he opens the packing box and the body tumbles out.

Daniel Miller:  “He’s naked.”  Daniel looks at Esther with a combination of disgust and disappointment. Their job just got harder.  No pun intended.

Esther:  “They all were.”  She replies blasely about the naked corpse with no identity that she requisitioned from the morgue.

Daniel:  “Won’t they think that’s a little odd?”  They being Daniel’s bad guy group targets whom he is trying to infiltrate wondering about Daniel having a naked dead guy in his hotel room.

Daniel’s line above was amusing enough—him being worried that the bad guys might think that he has a kinky dead guys fetish.  But wait for it.  The best line of the night is yet to come.

Then Daniel says that they’ll have to dress the corpse before they stage his death—and that they’ll have to use Daniel’s clothes on the corpse.  So as Daniel is looking through his duffel bag of very few clothes, he holds up a small wad of dark colored clothes.

Daniel:  “Does he need underpants.”  Daniel sniffs said underpants, then replies to himself. “No.” And Daniel stuffs them back into his duffel bag.

I/Grati cracked up at the underpants line! Genius!  And Richard Armitage’s deadpan delivery was flawless.  And let it be said that Daniel Miller keeps his underpants to himself—and handy, if not necessarily clean (the sniffing).  Ha!

Both Berlin Station back to back episodes 1 and 2 were great!  And with the clever current headlines Season 2 plot premise foresight, the nemesis for Berlin Station this year is not just themselves—though there is that—but an evil facist regime that threatens to emerge and cause chaos in Europe, and maybe the world.  That’s not too much of a spoiler, is it?

The evil ones must be stopped at all costs for the safety of the world!  Yeah baby!   Daniel and his spy colleagues finally have villains whom they can sink their teeth into.

 

And now all that Berlin Station spy agents need are some Power Ranger powers to help them overcome their insecurities from their ops being compromised in Season 1 by the whole Who is Thomas Shaw intelligence leaker shenanigans?

 

P.S.  What were your favorite lines in Episode 1 & 2?

 

N.B.  Thanks to the following for sharing the images above: RA Daily, EPIX, Chrissyinwm, RA Bulgaria, and Durinlass

Posted in Berlin Station mini series, Daniel Miller/Meyer in Berlin Station, Drama, EPIX Berlin Station, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Humor, intrigue, Michelle Forbes, Political, Richard Armitage, Social Justice, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 16 (PG):  Going to the Chapel,    October 13, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1106)

(“Somerset:  A Time to Love” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2017; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

Author’s Dramatic Content Note:  I write romantic love stories for adults, aged 18 and older.  So most of the chapters will be PG-13 due to mature themes (M), or dramatic moments (D). And some of the chapters have romantic and sensual, but not explicit, love scenes that I will label as (L).  So if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.

Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links that I cite contain general information merely to allude to a place, person, concept/theory/belief, history, or artifact, etc.  This story is a work of fiction, and people and their thoughts and actions are figments of my imagination and should not be taken as real or as fact.  And though the general backgrounds of the characters and the story’s contextual setting involve mentions of the Christian religion—with an Anglican/Episcopal focus—this story is a romance, not a religious tract.

[And from time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of:  Richard Armitage as Prof. Benedict Somerset, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Leicester, Loretta Devine as Connie Velasquez, John Lithgow as Seminary President Maynard Casten, and Jane Alexander as his wife Portia Casten, and others as noted.]

Author’s recap from the previous chapter:   Saturday afternoon and evening were lovingly and passionately shared between Benedict and Laura.  Benedict  feels that his life is starting anew as his love for his betrothed Laura deepens.  And Laura feels gratefully nestled within the cocoon of Benedict’s love.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch.  16 (PG):  Going to the Chapel

Waking up a little late Sunday morning, April 21st  after Benedict slept over for the first time, means that Benedict and Laura have to be focused on their showers and getting dressed in order to get to the church on time—no canoodling or breakfast–or in this case, them getting to the Chicago Seminary College’s Chapel.

 

Benedict and Laura attending their first worship service and sitting together in the pews this Sunday as an officially engaged couple today–since last week Benedict was officiating at the service and they couldn’t sit together–will be the first real test of their newly engaged status with Benedict’s colleagues.  And Benedict has yet to inform his colleagues about the change in his relationship status with Laura.

Benedict is dressed in a sport coat over an open dress shirt and dress trousers that he had brought with him to Laura’s apartment yesterday/Saturday.  Laura is wearing another demure–clergy worthy–dress that is flattering to her, but keeps everything covered.  Of course, Laura is also wearing her sparkling diamond engagement ring from Benedict.  So, Benedict and Laura wonder if they’ll have to announce their engagement, or if it will just spill out.  They resolve to see what happens, deciding not to make a fuss about announcing their engagement.

Benedict and Laura attend the early morning 8:00am CSC Chapel service, with them sitting on the center aisle end of a pew in the middle of the 10 rows of pews.  The Chapel’s sanctuary space [(2) below] feels welcoming with its classic details blending harmoniously well with its more modern architectural elements. The fine plaster walls in various shades of cream are punctuated with three large and clear rounded top windows on both side walls, that then give way to an even higher ceiling with hanging chandeliers, a blond travertine marble floor and highly polished pew boxes painted white with highly polished cherry accents.    The CSC Chapel is not that large—seating five people in each pew on each side of the aisle—yet it is not too small and can hold up to 100 people.

N-01-09 Sesquicentennial Chapel Interior

They smile and greet several people Benedict knows and whom Laura met at the Spring Fling dinner dance last Friday night before the worship service begins.  And Laura recognizes a few of Benedict’s Theology Professor colleagues and their spouses whom she met at last Friday’s Spring Fling dinner dance, with Benedict whispering their names into her ear.  And apart from having Benedict so close, having his breath tickles her ear when he provides her with a colleague’s name feels so cozily intimate to here—as if she and Benedict were already a long married clergy couple.

 

Then, during the passing of the peace, Benedict and Laura warmly embrace each other and kiss each other sweetly on their lips–as they see other married and engaged clergy couples do.  So, the jig is up on their engagement.  Toward the end of the worship service–after reminding people about the cake and coffee hour that follows, as if anyone had to be reminded about eating cake–the officiating minister always makes several announcements.  These announcements can be highlighting events not mentioned in the worship bulletin, or drawing closer attention to events and donations needs and such.  However, after these announcements are made, the minister always opens the announcement up to the floor in case there are other announcements.  Today, the minister looks pointedly over at Benedict and Benedict blushes and nods with a knowing smile.

 

Then, Benedict stands and he holds out his hand to Laura and she stands.  Putting his right arm around Laura’s shoulders and continuing to hold her left hand in his left hand, Benedict  speaks to his fellow congregants, colleagues, students, and friends.

 

Benedict:   “Dear friends, many of you met my lady friend Laura Leicester at the Spring Fling dinner dance last Friday night.”  His colleagues and friends smile and nod.  Laura smiles sweetly and blushes as she nods at them.  Then Benedict gazes lovingly at Laura as he says.  “Laura and I have realized that we love each other very much.  And I asked her marry me, and she said yes.  We’re engaged and we want to share our happy news with you!”  Then Benedict brings Laura’s ring finger hand to his lips and kisses it as Laura and Benedict gaze at each other sweetly adoringly.

 

Of course, the chapel sanctuary erupts with cheers and applause.  Even in the little over a year that Benedict has been at the Chicago Seminary College, his quiet presence, his dedication as a teacher, and his heartfelt faith have endeared him to his colleagues and students.  It is a good thing that the service is essentially finished, because everyone can’t wait to greet and congratulate the happy couple–Professor Benedict Somerset and his betrothed, Miss Laura Leicester–at the coffee hour.

 

***

As Benedict and Laura walk arm in arm through the hallway to the reception room used for after worship coffee hours, they have a brief moment to chat privately before they are besieged by well wishers.

Laura:   Beaming as the lovely bride to be she is, Laura whispers to Benedict.  “I guess you don’t need a PR person, Benedict.”

Benedict:   “Not lately.”  Benedict answers impishly cryptically.  Then rocking his head back in laughter, he asks her.  “Ha ha ha ha ha!  You don’t mind, do you?”  Laura slowly shakes her head no with a shy smile.  “I’m sorry, Laura, but I was just bursting to tell everyone.  And I can’t wait until we’re married.”

 

Laura:  “I know, me too.”  Laura feels almost giddy—thrilled to have a second chance at love with Benedict.

 

Then as Benedict and Laura walk into the Coffee Hour reception room, they receive more cheers and applause from Benedict’s–and now Laura’s–friends and colleagues.  Two people in particular are overjoyed with the news–the Castens.

 

Pres. Casten: “Well, well.  This is happy news!  You must allow me to offer you both our warmest congratulations!”  President Casten smiles warmly in greeting Benedict and Laura as he and his wife Portia walk into the Coffee Hour room.

 

PortiaC:  “This is thrilling!  Congratulations!”  Portia smiles delightedly at them and she gives Laura a warm hug.

 

Benedict:   “Thank you President and Mrs. Casten.  I’m a very lucky man.”  He says gazing lovingly at Laura as she gazes up at him lovingly.

 

Laura:  “No, I’m the lucky one.”  Laura says softly while smiling sweetly at Benedict.

 

Pres. Casten:  “Laura, my Dear, and Benedict, Portia and I are delighted for you both!  So, have you talked about when you want to get married?  I hope you’ll consider our Seminary Chapel.”

 

Benedict:   “Laura and I have yet to discuss details.  We’ll have to work out the logistics of our family and friends—especially with my family all being in England.”  Benedict feels a bit put on the spot, yet he rallies himself to respond politely.  “But, thank you for your suggestion.”  And for Benedict, his family in England will have other considerations that he must keep in mind with regard to his marriage to Laura.

 

Laura:  “I think the chapel is a lovely option.”  She suggests genuinely and Benedict smiles.  “But you’re right about needing to check with our families.”  Though she and Benedict have not discussed wedding details yet, Laura is torn between having a more traditional wedding here or with Benedict’s family in England, and them planning what is often referred to as a destination wedding at a resort.  Though she supposes, that England is a destination, and she smiles mischievously up at him.

 

Pres. Casten:  “Excellent!  You just have to talk to the Chapel Director to see what dates are available.  He’s standing over there.”   President Casten gestures to a sixty year old looking fellow munching cake happily.  “And you know, we also have some married clergy faculty housing units still available at discounted rates, that you can look at should you decide you’d like to live on campus.”  He adds helpfully.

 

Benedict:   “I hadn’t thought about the clergy housing.  Laura and I will look into it as a possibility.”  Benedict smiles warmly, but noncommittally–thinking that Laura may want to stay in her very nice apartment and have him join her there for their first home together.  That would also give them some privacy as a newly married couple–until they buy a house with a yard where kids can play.

 

But Benedict reflects that he and Laura buying a home and putting down roots will mean that they intend stay in a certain city—or even country.  Though Benedict’s family has been understanding about his desire to live in the States—particularly Chicago, nestled firmly in the Midwest.  And though Laura has not yet expressed a desire to live in any one place, he worries that she might presume that he wishes to stay at the Chicago College Seminary—especially since she teaches at the large public university nearby.

 

Pres. Casten:  “Benedict and Laura, please join Portia and I for luncheon today at 12noon in our seminary president’s residence and we can talk more about your upcoming wedding.”

 

Benedict:   Benedict looks at Laura and she nods her assent.  “Thank you President and Mrs. Casten, Laura and I will be delighted to join you.”

 

Then President and Mrs. Casten drift away and Benedict’s students eagerly pounce on he and Laura.

Bradley:  “See?  I was right, Professor Somerset!  You two do look good together.” Benedict and Laura smile and blush.

Mark:  “A lucky guess.”  Mark says looking mock disdainfully at his friend and fellow graduate, Bradley.  “But this is really wonderful!  We really couldn’t be happier for you.”

Benedict:   “Thank you both.”  Benedict gives them a small nod with an equally small smile.  His natural reserve comes to the fore when interacting with his students–or former students, in the case of these recent graduates.

Laura:  “Yes, thank you.” She smiles graciously.

Debbie:  “Okay, do you have a ring yet?”  Future brides are always interested in looking at other future brides’ rings.

 

Sally:   “Yes, let’s see it!”

 

Laura:  “Well girls, Benedict gave me his late Grandmother’s lovely engagement ring.”  Laura proudly holds her left hand out for them all to see her lovely dainty engagement ring.  “I feel very blessed to have Benedict in my life!”  She says not trying to be preachy or too gushy, but Laura’s natural sense of decorum just comes out.

Benedict:   “And, I feel blessed to have Laura in my life!”  Benedict gushes, his reserve slips and lets his joy leak out.

 

Bradley:  “I think we’ve started a trend of engagements.”  Bradley says hugging Debbie and Mark hugs Sally.  “So, when’s the wedding?”

 

Benedict:   “Laura and I have yet to discuss that.  But Laura Darling, if you want, we can get some coffee cake and coffee and talk with the Chapel Director as President Casten suggested?”  He asks hopefully.

 

Laura:  “Alright, Benedict Dear.”  Laura says a bit shyly feeling like she’s in a future minister’s wife whirlwind–but again, in a good way.

***

It is now about 9:30am Sunday morning and Benedict is getting hungry–since all the well wishing has prevented he and Laura from enjoying coffee cake and coffee after the worship service.  So, he and Laura finally select some refreshments and sit down and munch and sip for a few moments.  Then the Chapel Director Henry Stevens walks over to them–at President Casten’s bidding, no doubt–to discuss wedding options.  But what Benedict and Laura do not expect is that Laura’s previous marriage and subsequent divorce may cause them difficulties in being married in the chapel.

ChapDirHenryStevens:   “Benedict!  Wonderful news!  Congratulations!”  Benedict and Laura stand to greet him.

Benedict:   “Thanks Henry!”  They shake hands warmly.  “Laura, may I present the Rev. Henry Stevens, our Seminary Chapel Director.”  He says warmly.  “Henry, this is my fiancé, Miss Laura Leicester.”  Benedict says proudly.

Laura:  “It’s lovely to meet you.”  Laura shakes Henry’s hand.

CDHenryS:  “It’s lovely to meet you, too.  Well, a wedding among the faculty!  We haven’t had one of those for a few years.  Most of our clergy faculty come already hooked up.”  He states cheekily.

Benedict:   Laughing and squeezing Laura’s shoulders, he says  “Laura Darling, Henry here is a bit of an irreverent reverend.”

Laura:  “I can see that, Benedict.”  Laura smiles warmly at Benedict and then Henry.

CDHenryS:  “Now Benedict, you’ll give Laura the idea that I crack jokes all the time. Not true.”  Then Henry gets a gleam in his eye,  “But have you heard the joke about the holy cornflakes?”  Benedict rolls his eyes, having heard Henry tell this joke before.

Laura:  “I don’t think so.”  She says slowly.

CDHenryS:  “Well, they’re the modern day version of manna from heaven.”   Then he laughs at his own joke.  Laura smiles sweetly, but she thinks that Henry is being a bit corny--to maintain the metaphor.  “So, were you thinking of getting married in the chapel?”

Benedict:   “Now Henry, Laura and I need to discuss our wedding plans in private together and then with our families–before we start making any concrete decisions.”

Benedict gazes at Laura, and she sighs softly in relief.  Though the CSC Chapel is lovely, she doesn’t want to be rushed into a decision that she might regret later.  However, she also realizes that if they are to keep their options open, they must assuage any feelings of disappointment from his colleagues at them not immediately choosing the Chapel as their wedding site.

Laura:  “Yes.  But, it would be nice to be married in the chapel–if that is what you wish, Benedict.  It is so lovely.”  Benedict beams.  “My first wedding was just a courthouse affair.  So, it was very simple.  Though Benedict, at my age I don’t necessarily want to look like a marshmellow walking down the aisle in a poofy gown.”   She laughs.

Benedict:   “Ha ha ha ha ha!”  Benedict rocks his head back in laughter.  “Laura Darling, I’m sure whatever gown you choose to wear will be lovelier because you’re wearing it.”  He says graciously.

Neither Benedict nor Laura have noticed that Henry has become rather quiet—when he is usually a jovial fellow, as evidenced by his fractured clergy jokes.  And when he speaks, it will be unexpected and unwelcome news.

CDHenryS:  “I’m so sorry Laura, I didn’t realize you were widowed.  You have my sympathies.” He says sincerely.

Laura:  “Uhh!  Thank you, but no.”  Laura says slowly and she looks at Benedict a bit pleadingly.  “I’m divorced.”  Henry clearly blanches.  “Five years ago, after we were married for ten years.  He left me for a younger woman.”

Benedict:   “Laura Darling, he was a cad.  But, in a strange way, I thank him–because your being single again allowed you and I to meet and fall in love.”  Benedict gazes at Laura warmly and kisses her forehead and she closes her eyes in happiness.

But Benedict’s and Laura’s happiness is short lived.  Henry looks as if he swallowed a lemon before responding to Benedict and Laura with trepidation.

CDHenryS:  “Well, … with Laura being a divorcee, it does complicate things for you two.”

Benedict:   “How so?”  Benedict looks at his colleague quizzically.  And Laura cringes for what she fears is coming.

CDHenryS:  “It’s just that, our Diocesan bishop doesn’t want to be seen to be condoning divorce, so he’s not keen on having divorced people married in the church–in the chapel partrcularly.  And Benedict, I’m afraid the fact of your being a minister marrying a divorced woman will also raise some eyebrows.”

Laura closes her eyes, embarrassed, hurt, and humiliated to be viewed by someone who doesn’t even know her–this bishop Henry speaks of, and maybe Henry himself–as her not being worthy of being a wife, let alone her not being worthy to be a minister’s wife, Benedict’s wife.  Laura feels as if the air is being sucked out of the room, and that the joy is being sucked out of her happiness in loving and in being engaged to Benedict–as her face visibly saddens.  But Benedict rallies by Laura’s side as he holds her in his arms more closely.

Benedict:   “Bollocks!”  Benedict exclaims, swearing in that strangely unique and slightly antiquated way that only a Brit can.  Most Americans don’t know the derivation of British swear words or vulgarisms—or even their exact meaning, which is a good thing.  “Laura Darling, whether we’re married in a church, a chapel, or in the open air, this bishop will have to get used to the idea of us getting married.   I love you and nothing will stop us from marrying each other.!”  Benedict assures Laura.

 

Laura:  Smiling wanly at Benedict, trying to put on a good face–and not wanting to burst into tears in front of him and his colleague- Henry–she pats his tie, which is at once both an intimate gesture in touching him, as well as comforting gesture to Laura for her to feel Benedict’s permanence in the solidness of his chest.   “Thank you, Benedict Dear.  Um, if you don’t mind, I think I’ll go powder my nose while you and Henry talk.  I’ll be right back.”

Benedict:   “Alright, Laura Darling.”  Benedict says with concern for Laura’s feelings.  And he tugs her into his embrace and tenderly kisses her forehead.  “Come back soon.”

 

Benedict smiles lovingly at Laura and she nods her head slowly.  Laura leaves to find the ladies room–where she hopes that she can burst into tears in private.

 

CDHenryS:  “I’m so sorry Benedict.  Of course, if it were only up to me, I’d say come be married in the Chapel.  But there is the Bishop’s stated policy against divorced people being married in the any Diocesan parish’s sanctuary or chapel.”

Benedict:   “Henry, can’t this bishop see the irony–and the hypocrisy–in what this policy is?  I mean, him supposedly advocating for marriage by not letting a marriage take place is utter lunacy!”  Benedict rails at his colleague in astonishment.

CDHenryS:  “I quite agree with you, Benedict.  But, there we are.”

Benedict:   “So, is the policy prohibiting divorced people to marry within the church or chapel sanctuary, or does it extend to the church or chapel grounds?”

CDHenryS:  “I’m afraid that it extends to all church lands in our diocese.  And there may even be some extra hoops for you and Laura to jump through to allow you as a minister to marry her.”

And Benedict thinks crankily that if the Diocese wants to dictate to him whom he may or may not marry, then they should get in line.

Benedict:   “This is ludicrous!”  Benedict fumes now becoming even more indignant.  “I’ve never seen anything in the church canons about this.  And I know them backwards and forwards since I teach about them to my clergy students.  Henry, how can a bishop dictate policy contradicting canon law without having it approved by the Diocesan Council–or even the national church for that matter?”

CDHenryS:  “As you know Benedict, Bishops still tend to have quite a bit of autonomous control over the parishes in their dioceses.  It’s a holdover from hundreds of years ago when society needed strong moral principles to survive—and the church was the bedrock of society.”

Benedict:   “But this isn’t a moral principle, nor even church doctrine.  It is one man with a vendetta against divorced people.    I’m going to talk to President Casten when he has Laura and I over for luncheon today.”

CDHenryS:  “Good luck, Benedict.  I’m rooting for you.”  Henry says genuinely, shakes Benedict’s hand and walks away from him.

Benedict sits there stunned and waits for Laura to return from the ladies room to him.  He distractedly accepts the congratulations of a few more of his colleagues and friends, trying not to betray to them the disappointment he feels–that his church, his faith, is letting him down.

Benedict believes that he hasn’t dedicated his life to God, only to have his one chance at personal happiness snatched away from him.  Laura is too important to him and he won’t give her up.  And right now, Benedict doesn’t feel the same way about God–or at least, this meddlesome bishop–as he had yesterday.

But though Benedict channels his feelings into outrage and problem solving, Laura feels crushed.
 

To be continued with Chapter 17

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 16,  October 13, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1106)

1)  The Somerset:  A Time for Love” story cover is a composite of two main images:
a) Background–Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user AlicePopkorn2]

http://www.flickr.com/photos/47283811@N06/  ;
b) Prof. Benedict Somerset image is of Richard Armitage (2012 Promo by Roberta Ascroft, pix35) found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/RobertAscroft-35.jpg
c)  a crucifix image is from MS Office Clip Art;

2)  The image representing the CSC Chapel sanctuary is that of the Chapel at Miami University of Ohio and ws found at http://miamioh.edu/hdrbs/_files/images/conference-event-services/weddings/chapels/Ses%20Chapel%202.JPG

 

Wattpad Ch. 16 story link:
https://www.wattpad.com/481337963-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 15 blog link, with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-15-pg-13-l-afternoon-heart-to-heart-october-04-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1103a/

 

 

Posted in Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, social media, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

THTHT—Sleepwalker starring Richard Armitage is released for dvd and streaming sales on October 10th, October 10, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1105)

I am itching to see a good film noir movie!  The gloomy mood lighting, mysterious characters, shifting villains, pretzel twisting plotlines, and tumultuous relationships!

The British actor Richard Armitage’s film Sleepwalker looks primed to scratch that itch for me!  Bring it on!

 

And I don’t even have to wait for it!  Sleepwalker is being released Tuesday, October 10, 2017 on several platforms, including Amazon!  Thanks to Robin T for pointing me to the link!

 

The film’s plot revolves around a mysterious patient, having cryptic life threatening dreams that she can’t understand. But which reality is reality?  Her dream world or her waking world?

 

Sleepwalker sounds rather like Hitchcock’s Spellbound’s general premise, but with the doctor and patient gender roles reversed.  Excellent!

 

Richard Armitage portrays sleep researcher Dr. Scott White who tries to help Sarah.  And he becomes personally involved with his patient.  This should make for lots of sexually tension filled moments in the film.    And will Richard Armitage as Dr. Scott be too hottt to handle?  Let’s hope so!  😉

 

And speaking of reverse roles, whom should Sarah trust with her life?  Or perhaps, whose life should be trusted with Sarah?  The plot always thickens

 

I am so  looking forward to seeing Richard Armitage and Ahna O’Reily in Sleepwalker!

 

Posted in Creativity, Dreams, Fiction, Film Noir, Gratiana Lovelace, intrigue, Richard Armitage, Sleepwalker, Society, Something About Love, Thriller, Too Hottt to Handle Tuesday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Funny Sunday”—And God Created Richard Armitage wallpaper shared by Sueli,  October 08, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1104)

 

“Funny Sunday” as shared by Sueli (Thanks!):

Oh my!  So very good, indeed!  I’m thighhhing!  *wink*  Hope everyone has a great day!  Hugs!

 

P.S.  And the talented British actor Richard Armitage really does know how to kiss!  Thanks to KatieC  for sharing “The Crucible” (2014)  gif:

 

 

Posted in Beauty, Fangurling, Fun, Fun Day Sunday, Gifs, Goodwill, Graphic, Gratiana Lovelace, Humor, Kissing, RA Artwork, Richard Armitage, Romance, Sexy, social media, Society, Something About Love, The Crucible | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 15 (PG-13, L):  Afternoon Heart to Heart,    October 04, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1103a)

(“Somerset:  A Time to Love” is an original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2017; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

Author’s Dramatic Content Note:  I write romantic love stories for adults, aged 18 and older.  So most of the chapters will be PG-13 due to mature themes (M), or dramatic moments (D). And some of the chapters have romantic and sensual, but not explicit, love scenes that I will label as (L).  So if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.

Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links that I cite contain general information merely to allude to a place, person, concept/theory/belief, history, or artifact, etc.  This story is a work of fiction, and people and their thoughts and actions are figments of my imagination and should not be taken as real or as fact.  And though the general backgrounds of the characters and the story’s contextual setting involve mentions of the Christian religion—with an Anglican/Episcopal focus—this story is a romance, not a religious tract.

[And from time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of:  Richard Armitage as Prof. Benedict Somerset, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Leicester, Loretta Devine as Connie Velasquez, John Lithgow as Seminary President Maynard Casten, and Jane Alexander as his wife Portia Casten, and others as noted.]

Author’s recap from the previous chapter:   After a lovely Saturday morning of April 20th spent taking little Jeffrey to their local zoo, Benedict and Laura have much to think about with regard to their now shared futures, and their future family plans.  But first, they will let their passions be unbound.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”,  Ch.  15 (PG-13, L):  Afternoon Heart to Heart

Benedict and Laura decide to go to Laura’s apartment again to eat lunch after their outing with Jeffrey to the zoo that morning, of Saturday April 20th.  They each take their own cars, since they had driven to the Chicago Children’s Group Home separately that morning—after Benedict had gone home to shower and change.

And since they were with Jeffrey earlier, they haven’t had a chance to talk about the assumption made by the Zoo Gift Shop Clerk that they were already a family–that Benedict and Laura are Jeffrey’s parents.

Adoption was something that Benedict and Laura had discussed in general terms last night.  But individually, each of them has thought about their connection with little Jeffrey–and that maybe they might want to adopt him.  That is, if Jeffrey would want a soon to be married Benedict and Laura to adopt him.  But, Benedict and Laura haven’t broached the idea with each other.  However, they will over lunch today.

After walking into Laura’s apartment with the bag of sub sandwiches he picked up on his drive over, Benedict smiles at Laura and sets the food on the countertop.  Then Benedict pulls Laura into his arms and kisses her tenderly.

 

Benedict:   “This morning was fun with little Jeffrey at the zoo.”

Benedict purposely doesn’t mention his and Laura’s early morning lovemaking, because he is having a difficult enough time trying not to pounce on her to make love again.  Afterall, Laura and previously told him that she had always heard that British men’s romantic moves tended to slowly envelop a lady, rather than pouncing on her.  Oh Dear!  And all that Benedict wants to do–as the newly affianced future husband of Laura—is to pounce on her.

But not in a caveman sort of way.  Benedict feels liberated to feel and act like a man in love with his beloved Laura as his soon to be wife.  He had been so reserved and closed off from any intimacy from people for so many years—even his family lived an ocean away—that Benedict was an emotional desert.  And it is only through Laura’s careful nurturing of Benedict that he is beginning to really thrive again.

But for Laura, she might not find it so easy to let herself be swept away by the joy of their whirlwind romance.  From her previous marriage, Laura has trust and abandonment issues.  And with their romance and engagement happening so fast, she is still a bit leery of trusting it, of trusting Benedict.  Though he will do everything in his power to ease her mind so they can move forward, together.

Laura:  “Yes, Jeffrey is a very sweet little boy.”  She smiles.  Then, she becomes reflective, almost but not quite sad.  “But, I felt badly for him when the gift shop clerk made the mistake that we were his parents.”

Benedict:   “Yes, I know.  It was awkward.  … But, did she make a mistake?”  Benedict tilts his head and raises his eyebrows.

Laura:  “What do you mean?”  Laura smiles knowingly, hopefully at Benedict.

Benedict:   “Well, we’ve talked a bit about adoption.  Laura, had you wanted a baby or would a slightly older child, like Jeffrey, be okay?”

Laura:  “Benedict, I’ll admit that I’ve always wanted a baby.  To nurture a child from its infancy to adulthood is a precious gift, and an honored responsibility.  Besides, babies are so soft and cuddly—despite the poopy messes–and they’re yours forever, since they have no prior memories of anyone else caring for them, loving them.”  She gazes wistfully at him.  “But, I do love Jeffrey since I’ve been working with him for several months.  He’s just one of those kids who wraps his little fingers around your heart.”

Benedict:   “I agree with you.”  Benedict smiles warmly.  “It’s something for us to think about in the future–after we’re married.”

Laura:  “Married.  Hhhh!”  Laura looks wistfully up to the ceiling.  Then she closes her eyes.   “I almost can’t believe it!”  Laura says in wonder as she opens her eyes and she lovingly looks up into Benedict’s eyes.

Benedict:   “Well, believe it!”  Then Benedict leans down and kisses Laura tenderly, their lips gently touching, as softly as a velvet rose brushing against their lips.  There is no urgency in this kiss, but rather, a comfortable and comforting sense of sweetly adoring love being nurtured between them.

Laura:  “Hmmm.  That’s very nice, Benedict.   But, I think as officially betrothed fiances we can do that kiss one better.”

Benedict notices that Laura has banished her brief melancholy and now she seductively fans the flames of their mutual desires. Then Benedict and Laura kiss and caress each other so passionately that all thoughts of lunch go right out of their heads.  And each of them feels an aching need in their hearts and in their bodies to blend together as one again in making love with each other.

Benedict:   “Laura Darling,” Benedict sighs while hungrily kissing her lips.  “… are you very hungry for lunch?”  He asks hoping that she’ll say no as he kisses her neck.  Though a forty five year old man—and minister and professor by professions—Benedict is a man in love, and his puppy dog hopeful look on his face gives Laura a little thrill.

Laura:   She smiles at him coquettishly.  “Not at this moment, Benedict.  Would you like to cuddle before lunch?”  Cuddling is Laura’s euphemism for making love.  And due to the day time not dark afternoon hours, Laura is a bit more shy about making love—though Laura very much wants to be with Benedict again.

Laura pops the sandwiches into her fridge and then she and Benedict walk hand in hand into her bedroom.  After each of them visits the bathroom in turn to brush their teeth and such–and return to Laura’s bedroom wearing just a towel and a smile–Benedict and Laura slide into her bed to make love with each other.   Benedict is even more excited upon seeing Laura wearing just a towel–as Laura can tell from him wearing just a towel.

Then their towels fall away beneath them as they embrace each other sweetly tenderly—lips to lips, arms entwining with arms, and molding their bodies to each other such that not even a whisper could pass between them.  They fit quite beautifully together as adoring lovers, even before they actually couple together.  Because making love is more than just the sexual act of joining two bodies together.  For Benedict and Laura, making love is a joining of hearts and minds and bodies and souls, forever.

Benedict kisses Laura’s lips, her neck and her creamy shoulders as Laura runs her fingers through his hair.

Benedict:   “Oh Laura, you are so beautiful!”  Benedict’s deep voice vibrates against her skin as he kisses her creamy shoulders and neck in adoring her completely.  “I want to lose myself in your loveliness and make love with you every hour of every day.”

The need in Benedict is great, now that he has unleashed his masculine desires.  Benedict has come to terms that as a man first—and a minister second–it feels right to him to physically express his love for his beloved Laura.  And he will not allow his more reserved professorial and ministerial roles to intrude upon his relationship with her.  Benedict feels that he has denied himself for too long—fifteen long years of celibacy—surely his devotion is now rewarded in his and Laura’s blossoming love?

Laura:  “Oh Benedict!”  She sighs.  “I also want to make love with you again, and again, and again, and again.”  Laura is learning to trust Benedict with her heart, for she cannot envision going through her life alone because of her fear of rejection or abandonment again, if she were to refuse him.  That is no way to live.  And Laura wants a full and loving life with Benedict by her side.  But wanting to be brave, and being brave are sometimes two different things altogether.

Benedict:   “Hmmm.”  Benedict growls desirously as he leans back from their embrace to reveal her bare loveliness to him—to gaze upon her beauty.  And Benedict kisses her adoringly, worshiping her body with his body, as their future marriage vows will proclaim.  Her sighs of pleasure and encouragement are all he needs.

 

Then Laura—who is still slightly nervous about the ambient lighting in the room being more bright than she would wish–due to it being the afternoon and her bedroom window drapes do not block sunlight that much—she lightens their passionate mood with her characteristic humor.  And she speaks a bit more boldly than she actually feels.

Laura:  Caressing Benedict’s muscular shoulders, she whispers minxishly.  “Then I guess it’s a good thing that I bought the economy size package of  ….”  With his eater kisses, Benedict silences Laura from using the word out loud.

Benedict:   “Yes!”  Benedict smiles delightedly.  Then his face startles in embarrassed realization.  “Oops!  I forgot to put one on.”  He says sheepishly.  “I’ll be right back.”  He raises a finger.  “Don’t move.”  He smiles sheepishly.

Laura:  Laura grabs his raised finger with a smile. “No.  You don’t move.”  Laura reaches over and opens her nightstand drawer and pulls out a small package.

Benedict:   Benedict laughs softly, as he takes the package from her.  “I see that you’re prepared, Laura.”  Benedict comically wriggles his eyebrows up and down, and they both laugh.  “Ha ha ha ha ha!”

Laura:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!  Yes, well, given our two romantic interludes so far, I just thought it would be a good idea to have them handy.”  Laura’s face pinkens in embarrassment for her practical planning.

And then Laura worries that Benedict might think that she is being unladylike by her being prepared, when he is a gentleman but he didn’t presume and he wasn’t prepared.

Benedict:  “Laura?  Your facial expressions just went through amusement to worry in two seconds.  What is bothering you, Darling?”  Benedict pulls her closer into his arms to comfort her, guiding her head to lie on his chest as he soothingly strokes her bare back from her shoulder blades to the small of her back.

Laura:  “It’s …  nothing.”  She dissembles, but not convincingly.  Laura keeps her eyes upon Benedict’s sparse but curly chest hair.

Benedict: “I doubt that, my forthright lady.  Tell me what is upsetting you and I will try to alleviate it.”

Laura:  She sighs.  “Hhhh!”

Benedict:  “That bad?”    Laura nods her head up and down as she cuddles with Benedict.

Laura: “I’m just embarrassed about the … “   She whispers the word, though her apartment contains only the two of them.  “…condoms.  I mean, how many future ministers wives go to the store and buy an economy size pack of 24 …?  Well, you know.”  Laura tilts her head and sheepishly shrugs her shoulders.

Benedict: Speaking in a clear and full throated voice, he guesses.  “Condoms?”  She nods again while wincing a bit, and he smiles.  “Laura, in our modern age, I hope that all future and current ministers’ wives are as forthright as you about sexual health matters.  Then he leans back and gazes into her eyes.  “Laura, you are going to be my wife—and I will be your husband.  Our relationship takes precedence over whatever professions we engage in for our careers.”

Laura: “But Benedict, isn’t being a minister a 24/7/365 kind of job?”

Benedict: “As a parish priest, it can be.  But I feel better suited to teaching and mentoring future ministers at this stage in my life and in my clergy career.”

Laura: “Still.”  Laura bites her bottom lip, in nervousness.  But in Laura unintentionally drawing attention to her lips again, all Benedict wants to do his cover them with his own lips.  But first, he feels that he must ease her mind, but discussing what is bothering her.

Benedict: “You are perfect for me, Laura.  You have brought me out of my detached ministerial shell. And I feel the better for it—personally and professionally.  So help me to understand what is driving your feelings of inadequacy.”

Laura: “Well.  Having one failed marriage makes me worry how much of it was my fault?”

Benedict: “None of it, I am certain.  Your husband chose to break his wedding vows, because he lacked character and any moral fiber—not because you were lacking.  He was a fool to let you go!”  I crush Laura to me and rock her back and forth in my arms   “But I thank god he did, so that you and I could meet and fall in love.”

Laura:  “I never thought of it that way before—of my ex husband  almost facilitating our marriage.”  Laura jests.

Benedict: “I sense your sarcasm, Laura.  I would not give him any credit at all.”  And Benedict notices that Laura has chosen not to speak her ex-husband’s name—which he perceives to be a good sign of her moving on.

Laura: “Now that you mention it, neither would I.”  She states drolly.  Then they both burst into giggles.  “Ha ha ha ha ha!

Benedict:  “Ha ha ha ha ha!”  Then Benedict and Laura kiss adoringly.  Benedict speaks rather huskily, his breath ragged with his desire to make love with his beloved Laura. “I think we went off topic there for a moment.”

Laura: “Oh?”  She smiles.

Benedict:  “Yes, I don’t think that there is anything amiss in a loving and committed couple—such as us…”  He states in case she missed that he was switching to making an analogy.  “… expressing their love for each other.”

Laura:  “That’s good, because I do love you with my whole heart, Benedict.  And I want us to be lovers for the rest of our lives.”

Benedict:   “Even when we’re old and using walkers  and scooter chairs to get around?”

Laura:  “Even then.”  She smiles sweetly at him.

Benedict:   “Brilliant!”  Benedict grins impishly as his British vernacular leaks out.  And Laura thinks that Benedict looks so boyish at times, like these—for a forty-five year old man.

Then feeling hot—and getting rather twisted up in the bed sheets, a thin flannel blanket, a down comforter, and then a quilted matelassé bed spread–Benedict peels back all of the bed covers, revealing his nakedness and Laura’s nakedness before they embrace again, molding their bodies together, kissing each other sweetly, tenderly, adoringly, and then passionately.

Laura:  Laura gazes appreciatively at Benedict’s handsome manliness—his hard sinews compared to her soft womanly curves.  “I love you so, Benedict.”

Benedict:   “And I love you so Laura.”  Benedict gazes once more upon Laura’s womanly loveliness, before kissing her again, and again, and again, and again.

Benedict and Laura kiss and caress each other with loving abandon as they make love with each other tenderly, lovingly, passionately, and adoringly–until they lay intertwined in each other’s loving arms, spent from their love and their lust.

And of course, being responsible adults they managed to make timely use of … the items in the small packages.

Then later that afternoon, Benedict and Laura do manage to eat their sub sandwiches for a delayed lunch.

***

And Saturday when Benedict arrived at Laura’s apartment, he had brought a change of clothes with him in a small overnight bag–so that he doesn’t need to dash home to his apartment before church on Sunday morning.  Of course, Benedict feels a little naughty for sleeping over at Laura’s apartment–since he is a minister.  But, he is also thrilled since he and Laura are such a loving and romantic couple with each other.    Benedict has always believed that marriage should be based on a deep love and friendship–and held together by a mutual loving lust.  This may be a rather contemporary or progressive view of love and relationships.  But, Benedict–despite his initial shyness and British reserve–is a progressive fellow, at least around Laura he is.

This Saturday night after a light dinner of chicken and vegetable stir fry, Benedict and Laura lie down on the soft and cushy hearth rug and make love in front of her fireplace.  They playfully roll around, tusseling with each other for whom shall get their way.  And being the consummate gentleman, Benedict defers to his lady love Laura—to their mutual joy.  The flickering flames dance rhythmically as Benedict and Laura join their bodies together in their lovemaking again, and again, and again, and again.

Benedict and Laura are two hearts joined together in love–sweetly, tenderly, lovingly, adoringly, and passionately, forever.   They fall asleep in each other’s loving arms on the hearth rug after their lovemaking, them cuddling together under a very large and warm couch blanket.

But eventually in the middle of the night, Benedict awakens with a slightly stiff back from lying on the floor.  And he carries his sleeping love Laura to their bed in her bedroom to sleep.

He visits the bathroom after laying her gently in their bed.  Upon returning to Laura as Benedict slides into bed, Laura sleepily awakens.  They kiss sweetly and then Laura visits the bathroom as Benedict dozes off to sleep.  However, upon her return to their bed, Laura slides gently into bed next to her Benedict’s sleeping body.  She smiles as she watches him breathe deeply in and out–his muscular chest rising and falling as Laura nestles close to him.

But, feeling his love Laura’s body next to his body awakens Benedict and he kisses her adoringly.  Benedict’s and Laura’s kisses and caresses become more passionate as they share their love’s pleasures with each other sweetly, tenderly, lovingly and adoringly—and responsibly.  After their lovemaking, Benedict and Laura kiss and cuddle with each other adoringly [(2) below] as they drift off to sleep nestled against each other in sweet and loving surrender to each other.

To be continued with Chapter 16

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 15,  October 04, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace

1)  The Somerset:  A Time for Love” story cover is a composite of two main images:
a) Background–Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user AlicePopkorn2]   http://www.flickr.com/photos/47283811@N06/  ;
b) Prof. Benedict Somerset image is of Richard Armitage (2012 Promo by Roberta Ascroft, pix35) found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/RobertAscroft-35.jpg
c)  a crucifix image is from MS Office Clip Art;

2)  Benedict and Laura canoodling was found at https://ak7.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/4728737/thumb/2.jpg?i10c=img.resize(height:160)

 

Wattpad Ch. 15 story link: 
https://www.wattpad.com/477716941-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 14  blog link, with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-14-pg-13-revealing-their-engagement-etc-september-26-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1100/

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