[From time to time, I will illustrate my story characters with: Richard Armitage as Sam Wakeforest, Marcia Gay Harden as Sam’s older sister Tessa Wakeforest Shoop Delaney, and Emily Deschanel as Tessa’s sister-in-law Olivia Delaney, Viola Davis as Pauletta Perkins, Cicely Tyson as Nellie Newton, and Anna Sophia Robb as Alice Trent, Kevin Spacey as Roger Delaney, Sam Heughan as Todd Wakeforest, Idris Elba as Dominic Perkins and others as noted.]
Authors Content Note: “Love in the Great Pine Woods” is a mature love story with dramatic themes of love and relationships. It will mostly be at the PG and PG-13 movie levels. Specific chapters or passages may have a further rating of: L for language, D for dramatic emotions, and S for sensual themes. And I will rate the chapters accordingly. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide for a chapter, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And as is my habit, I will summarize the previous chapter’s events at the beginning of the next chapter.
Authors Recap from the Previous Chapter: With Sam’s youngest brother Todd being injured by a claw trap on the mountain–but safely found after our search parties combed the area for him–the focus is upon helping Todd heal. Yet a healing of a different kind–of the heart–needs to take place between Sam and Olivia–after Roger’s revelation that Sam had a lover named Lola years ago.
“Love in the Great Pine Woods”, Ch. 07 (PG-13, D): Healing Wounds
For Sam Wakeforest, his mountain has been a forgiving mistress–welcoming him home after WWII to its abundance, beauty, and peacefulness. That is, up until now, with his brother Todd nearly dying from exposure when he was injured by stepping into a rabbit claw trap on Saturday afternoon. Todd will have to be transported on Sunday to their state’s nearest largest city of 50,000 in order to get the proper surgery Monday to repair the muscle and tendon damage that he sustained. He will walk again, but his recovery will take many months. Sam spends Saturday night at the hospital with Todd while Todd is under a mild sedation so that he can rest a bit more comfortably in preparation for his traveling on Sunday–mostly not to be alone with his thoughts about what has gone wrong with his relationship with Olivia Delaney.
And when Roger and Olivia had arrived home finally late Saturday night–and telling a relieved Tessa that her little brother Todd was found injured, but alive. Tessa had noticed that Olivia seemed upset, but she attributed it to the general worry over Todd. And Roger did not disabuse her of that misinterpretation. However, Tessa senses that something else is wrong, and her husband’s tight lipped denials do nothing to allay her concerns.
So in frustration, Tessa seeks Olivia out by knocking on her bedroom door to have a heart to heart chat late Saturday night. At first, Olivia does not respond to the knocking on her door–she has been weeping and doesn’t want anyone to see that. Then she worries that maybe their family’s foster child Alice might need some help. So Olivia goes to her bedroom door and opens it–only to find her sister-in-law Tessa standing there. Seeing Olivia’s tear stained red and blotchy face, Tessa rushes forward and envelops Olivia in her arms.
Tessa: “Olivia, sweetheart! What’s wrong?”
Olivia: “Hmm. Hmm.” Olivia whimpers.
Tessa: “I can only help if you tell me what’s wrong.” Olivia says nothing–too embarrassed to confide in her sister-in-law Tessa, who also happens to be Sam’s sister. Then Tessa starts guessing. “Is it something to do with Todd being hurt?” Olivia shakes her head no and sniffles. “What about Sam?” Olivia slowly nods her head and looks up forlornly at Tessa. “Honey, I’m not a mind reader. You’ll have to give me something. Roger didn’t say anything was wrong when he came home.”
Olivia: “Would that Roger could have been as silent earlier today.” Olivia laments. Tessa questioningly looks at Olivia. “Roger blew up at Sam–thinking Sam was being forward when he was only telling me how they made his cabin fireplace. They had words. And then … and then Roger accused Sam of bedding a woman named Lola.”
Tessa: “Hhhh!” Tessa gasps in shock. “And what did Sam say?” Tessa asks warily.
Olivia: “Sam didn’t deny it. He said that they were lovers, but that it was in the past, and that she meant nothing to him. I don’t understand how he could be someone’s lover, but not love them?” Olivia’s innocence and naivete regarding romantic relationships is patently obvious to Tessa.
Tessa: “Oh dear! I didn’t even know that Roger knew about Lola!”
Olivia: “But Roger said that you and told him about her.” Olivia looks quizzically at Tessa.
Tessa: “Honestly, honey. I didn’t say anything to Roger about Sam’s past. And your next question is why I didn’t tell you about Lola?” Olivia nods. “Sweetie, she and Sam were so long ago.” Tessa is unaware that Sam and Lola had reconnected briefly two years ago when Tessa and Roger were courting before they married. “I didn’t think that it was relevant to you and Sam dating.”
Olivia: “Not relevant? Not relevant for me to know that he had dated someone for years and they had been lovers? What if I inadvertently run into this Lola person? How am I supposed to act, knowing that she and Sam had been intimate with each other?” Olivia trembles in distress.
Tessa: “She’s gone and moved out of state. So it’s not for you to worry. You’re not likely to ever meet her.”
Olivia: “But still, how can I know if Sam really likes me or loves me? Sam seems like he likes me. But maybe it’s all an act to get me into bed, like this Lola. I’ve read novels about those kind of men who sully a woman and then abandon her to society’s censure. A few of our Orphanage children are the result of such a union.” And Tessa’s phrasing is quite indicative the influence of those romantic gothic novels upon her psyche.
Tessa: Interrupting Olivia, Tessa says firmly but gently. “Books are fiction–however real that they might seem to be. People and events are rarely clearly defined–there is a gray area to consider. And that’s why your feelings couldn’t be more wrong about Sam’s past. Sam is a good man–or I never would have encouraged him to consider dating you, Olivia. Yes, Sam is a man who has lived in the world and bedded other women. Most men aren’t chaste before they marry–not even your brother Roger was, however much you might want to think of him as being perfect.” Olivia looks alarmed. “Sweetie, Men aren’t perfect. But then, neither are women.” Tessa looks at Olivia in a sophisticated way–her not quite willing to reveal all of her private secrets.
Olivia: “Then why did Roger tell me about Sam’s past lover–and make me think badly of Sam–if Roger is no better?”
Tessa: “I cannot begin to understand that. And until Roger grovels to you and to me–and fixes this break between you and Sam by a monumental apology to him–Roger can sleep elsewhere. I will not share my bed with a condescending hypocrite!”
Olivia: “Tessa! But my brother Roger is your husband! You can’t refuse him.” Olivia looks horrified.
Tessa: “Yes I can refuse him. And I will. Watch me!” Tessa’s jaw is set in firm resolve. “The times are changing and women must change with them. It’s 1955, almost 1956!”
Olivia: “But I don’t understand. You and Roger seem so happy and perfect together.”
Tessa: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Oh Olivia! Your brother Roger and I are far from perfect–as people or as a couple.” Then Tessa clasps Olivia’s hand in hers. “Olivia, marriage isn’t about finding the perfect man, being the perfect wife, and having the perfect marriage. Far from it! If anything, a good and happy marriage is founded on knowing about your own and your love’s imperfections and deciding that you can live with that–because you would be miserable without your love partner in your life. Can you say that about Sam yet?”
Olivia: “I don’t know. I’m still…shocked that Sam had a lover.”
Tessa: “With the emphasis on the past tense. You are the only woman in Sam’s life now. But if you really want him and you don’t let him know that, some other lady might come along to love him. He might not love her as he loves you, but he would marry her if he didn’t want to be alone anymore.”
Olivia: “Whom would Sam marry?” Olivia asks fretfully.
Tessa: “There is no one else in Sam’s life. I’m speaking hypothetically–but born of experience.” Tessa says cryptically.
Olivia: “What do you mean?”
Tessa: “Hhhh! Your brother, Roger and I dated in high school and a bit in college.”
Olivia: “And he didn’t want to marry you?”
Tessa: “No, he did. But I hesitated, unsure about us, as you are unsure about you and Sam now. And Roger was hurt by my refusal and he married someone else on the rebound, not happily.” Tessa blanches.
Olivia nods her head. No one in the house really liked Roger’s first wife–she was too abrasive for liking. But she fulfilled her role as his hostess, even if she wouldn’t give him children. But Roger and his first wife had forged a mutually agreeable life together for the twenty years they were married. And Roger had truly mourned her passing after a brief illness five years ago.
Olivia: “Tessa, I had no idea that your and Roger’s romance went back so far.” Olivia is riveted to what Tessa is telling her–and in consequence, forgetting her own troubles with Sam.
Tessa: “Yes. And when Roger married his first wife, I eventually tried to move on emotionally and I married someone else–happily a good man whom I grew very fond of in time, I even grew to love him. But not like I loved Roger.” Tessa reveals wistfully.
Olivia: “Yet you and Roger found each other again.”
Tessa: “But only after wasted years apart. I don’t want that for you, Olivia–loving and yearning for someone else whom you might never be able to have.”
Olivia: “What should I do, Tessa?”
Tessa: “What do you want to do?”
Olivia: “I want … I want what I have always wanted … to … to marry Sam and to have a family with him.”
Tessa: “Well then, are you willing to accept that Sam knew someone else–biblically–before you?
Olivia: Olivia blushes. “I guess so–considering, any man whom I will meet will have a past.”
Tessa: “There you go, sweetie!” Tessa hugs a now calmed down and no longer crying Olivia. “In the morning, we’re going to get up early, make some cinnamon rolls, and then drive to the hospital to see how Todd is doing before they transport him by ambulance to the Valley View City Hospital. We’ll take Sam and Todd the sweet rolls to tide them over.”
Olivia: “But should I intrude on what is your family’s emergency? Maybe Sam will think that I’m just getting in the way.”
Tessa: Tessa makes an incredulous face. “Not in my wildest imaginations. Sam is sweet on you, Olivia–sweeter than he may even realize at this point. You just have to give him a little nudge. And freshly baked cinnamon rolls will be our strategic offense.”
Olivia: “Ha ha ha! Okay! It’s worth a try. But what about Roger?”
Tessa: “Oh he’s in the doghouse until he apologizes and he makes things right with Sam. But if we’re going to the hospital, then Roger needs to stay here for Alice and Bobby. Even though you and I won’t be gone long, I don’t want to leave our foster children without either Roger or I at home.” Tessa has taken to parenting her new foster children like a duck to water.
So Olivia goes to sleep a little easier Saturday night with Tessa’s wise counsel about love and Sam. Sunday will be a very big day.
The overnight from Saturday to Sunday morning was a long one for Todd Wakeforest–considering the pain and swelling from his claw trap injuries on his right ankle and his concussion from falling and hitting his head on a boulder. And consequently, Todd’s brother Sam was up all night with Todd–making sure that he had cold compresses to cool him down from his fevers, that his pain meds were administered on time by the nursing staff, and just to keep him company.
So it was an exhausted Sam who finally sacked out in the wee hours of Sunday morning in a nearby too small hospital room chair–his arms dangling over the sides and his mouth open and snoring, that Tessa and Olivia find at 7:30am Sunday morning in the Wakeforest County Hospital when they deliver their coffee and fresh cinnamon rolls.
Tessa creeps into the room first, followed by a shyly reluctant Olivia carrying the cinnamon rolls in a box. Tessa puts her hand to her lips and Olivia nods. Tessa points to the sleeping Sam and shrugs her shoulders at the poor man’s uncomfortable sleeping position. Olivia looks over at Sam and is drawn to him as she walks over to him.
Then Tessa goes to her little brother Todd’s hospital bed and sees the grave damage done to his foot–by virtue of the large and bloodied protective bandage around his ankle until his surgery on Monday. Olivia sets the box of cinnamon rolls they made this morning on a nearby table.
Tessa: “Oh Todd! You poor thing.” Tessa whispers. But it is enough to awaken the barely dozing Todd.
Todd: “Hmm! Tessa! Thanks for coming.” He moans and grimaces in pain.
Tessa: “Of course. Are you in pain, can I get you something?” She asks worriedly.
Todd: “Yes! I need those pain meds!” Todd says loud enough that it now wakes up Sam.
Tessa: “Ill get the nurse.” Tessa dashes out the door.
Jolting awake in his brother’s hospital room, Sam sees Olivia seemingly hovering over him as if in a vision. He blinks his eyes several times before he realizes that she is real. A disheveled Sam smiles delightedly [(2) right] up at Olivia. And then he sits up and hugs her around her waist in relief that she came to see him after yesterday’s difficulties.
Sam: “Olivia! You’re here! I thought that I had almost lost you yesterday?” That would be both literally–her nearly falling off the hidden sheer cliff drop–and figuratively when she found out about his past lover Lola.
Todd: “What?” Todd asks confusedly.
Sam: Sam stands up, but keeps his arm around Olivia’s back–and she slightly leans in to him. “Until your little adventure yesterday, Olivia and I were at my log cabin enjoying lunch.” Todd’s eyes widen.
Olivia: “With my brother Roger.” Olivia pipes up cheerfully [(3) right], lest Todd think that she and Sam were in a compromising situation. Then she changes the subject. “Todd, we brought you and Sam, Tessa’s fresh baked cinnamon rolls. Well, Tessa’s and mine.” Olivia lowers her eyes shyly as she holds out the open box to each brother and they eagerly partake of the offerings.
Tessa comes back into the room.
Tessa: “The nurse will be right here, Todd, with your pain meds.” Then she sees how truly haggard Sam looks. “Sam, you look awful!”
Sam: “Good morning to you, too, Tessa.” Sam says in mock offense.
Tessa: “They won’t be moving Todd to Valley View Hospital for hours. Why don’t you go home and get some rest. I’ll stay here with Todd for the next few hours.”
Sam: “Alright! Thanks, Tessa! I could use a shower and shave. And I have to wash and pack my clothes if I’m heading with Todd to Valley View’s Hospital this afternoon.”
Tessa: “You should sleep after you shower, Sam. Take Olivia with you.”
Both Sam’s and Olivia’s heads swing to look at Tessa in shock.
Todd: “What?” He may be drugged up with pain meds, but that sounded like Tessa said Sam should sleep with Olivia.
Tessa: “Oh really, people!” Tessa rolls her eyes. “I simply meant that Olivia should drive Sam home, since he’s in no fit state to drive. Then while Sam sleeps, she could do his laundry for him.”
Sam: “That’s an imposition to ask of Olivia, Tessa.” Then he turns to Olivia. “I’m sorry for my sister drafting you to help out. You are under no obligation to do my laundry.”
Olivia: “I don’t mind.” She smiles. “And if you feel better about it, I’ve done Roger’s laundry for years.”
Sam: “But we won’t have a chaperone.” Then Sam leans in to Olivia and whispers. “And my place is a bit untidy. Tessa hasn’t had a chance to visit this month yet to help me catch up.”
Olivia: “Oh?” She smiles. “So you’re not perfect at keeping house?” Then Olivia and Tessa exchange a knowing glance.
Sam: “No.” Sam sheepishly shrugs his shoulders.
Olivia: “Good! I’ve decided that perfect is not what I’m looking for.”
Sam: “You’re not?” He has a confused expression on his face.
Olivia: Leaning in to Sam and whispering, Olivia replies. “I’m not. I was naïve to think that you and I would be perfect like the romance stories I have read.” Sam raises a querying eyebrow. “Like Tessa said, relationships are built on people accepting their own and the other person’s imperfections–then building a wonderfully happy imperfect life together. So I would like to continue getting to know you, Sam.” Olivia smiles shyly up at Sam.
Sam smiles, then he spontaneously leans down and hugs Olivia–engulfing her in his long arms. Then Sam looks over at his sister Tessa watching them–and he mouths the words, Thank you. Tessa mouths back, You’re welcome.
After Olivia drives Sam home–and he reluctantly lets her in to his untidy house–she gets to work collecting the clothes off of the floor of his bedroom to put them in the laundry while Sam has his shower and shave before he takes a much needed nap. Actually, Sam and Olivia are behaving very domestically with each other–even though, they are not officially boyfriend and girlfriend yet.
Olivia marvels at the sheer size of Sam’s clothing. She knew that he was big at six foot 3 inches tall from being around him. But some how her seeing his clothes without him in it shows them to be cavernous. She first transfers a finished wash load–that Sam must have put on yesterday–to the dryer. Then she washes his light colored shirts and underwear–her blushingly marveling at his underwear briefs’ size compared to her brother Roger’s briefs. It seems not all men are alike. Though the innocent Olivia has no direct knowledge of that.
Then Olivia saunters back to Sam’s bedroom to collect the clothes he was wearing overnight, to wash them with his other dark clothes. She knocks two quick raps on Sam’s bedroom door, then she enters it. This is only the second time that Olivia has been in a man’s bedroom–the first time being twenty minutes ago when she collected Sam’s other dirty laundry.
Olivia: “Sam, it’s just me. I put the first load on to wash. Do you have your clothes you were wearing that you can give to me, so that I can wash them with the second load of dark clothes?” I look around and then notice that the bathroom door is open a crack–and I can see Sam shaving. My mouth gapes open at seeing his nearly bare muscular form–but for a large towel covering his lower half.
Sam: “Sure!” I say in mid razor stroke as I stand with a towel around my bare abdomen. “Here, let me toss them out to you.” Olivia doesn’t respond. Then I toss a few clothes into a pile just outside the bedroom door.
I really feel sheepish about Olivia doing my laundry, but it is very nice of her to help out since I have to travel with Todd to Valley View Hospital later today and then he will have his surgery on his foot and ankle on Monday. We hope all goes well and that he will be able to walk again eventually.
I go back to shaving and then finish up–rinsing my face off and toweling it dry. Then I realize that I don’t hear anything from Olivia and I peek out of my bathroom door. And there she is, standing staring at me. And it occurs to me that I might be the first nearly naked man whom she has ever seen. I dash to the dresser drawer and pull out my athletic t-shirt and sweatpants to sleep in–since I don’t wear pajamas.
Olivia: Regaining my senses, I avert my eyes and then close them. “Sorry!” I squeak.
Sam: “I’m sorry, too.” I blush while trying to hold the towel on me. “I forgot to take some napping clothes into the bathroom with me. I’ll be right back.” I dash back into the bathroom–making sure to close the door. Then I drop my towel and put on my athletic sleeveless t-shirt and my gray sweat pants.
Meanwhile, frozen statue Olivia thaws and collects the remaining clothes off of the floor. Then she walks out of Sam’s bedroom and takes the clothes to the laundry room.
When Sam reenters his bedroom, he doesn’t find Olivia there. And Sam knows that it would be way too much wishful thinking on his part, to find her in his bed waiting for him. Though the thought does conjure lustful images in Sam’s mind. But he has to suppress them. Then his exhaustion takes over, and Sam slides into his comfortable bed and he falls asleep almost instantly.
After putting the second load of laundry on to wash, Olivia folds the first load out of the dryer and takes it upstairs to Sam’s bedroom. Again, she knocks softly twice before entering the room. The room is darker than before, Sam having drawn the drapes closed so that he could sleep. And Olivia sees Sam’s true sleeping form–when he has a proper bed long enough to accommodate him as he does now, and not a too small hospital room chair.
Sam lies in repose under the sheets [(4) right] , breathing deeply while lying on his back. His mouth is not gaping open this time, nor is he snoring, too much. Olivia inches a little closer. She remembers Sam’s arms around her in Todd’s hospital room. And she wants to feel that closeness with Sam again. So Olivia doffs her shoes and her outer vest jacket. Then Olivia slides onto the bed covers with Sam lying underneath the covers–and she lies her head down upon his shoulder with her arm across his chest.
At first, Olivia feels a bit tense lying in Sam’s arms. But after a few moments, she relaxes. And then Sam’s strong and powerful arms come around her and he kisses the top of her head.
Sam: “I’m glad that you are here, Olivia. Thank you! I would like to fall asleep with you in my arms.”
And then Sam’s breathing slows down and becomes deep and steady and even. He is finally asleep. Then in a few minutes, Olivia also falls asleep.
Tomorrow and the rest of the week will be devoted to Todd’s surgery and his convalescence care. But today, Sunday morning, it is just the two of them, Sam and Olivia.
To be continued with Chapter 8
“Love in the Great Pine Woods” Ch. 07, by Gratiana Lovelace, November 28, 2015
1) The “Love in the Great Pine Woods” story cover is a composite of two images by Grati:
a)the Richard Armitage portrait is from the 2011 Project Magazine photo shoot and article interview, that was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/ProjectMagJuly2011/album/ProjectMag-05.jpg;
b) the snowy Pine forest vertical image was found on Pinterest at https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/62/fa/ff/62faff1253d55f571eb3659cc7661e73.jpg
2) Sam is Richard Armitage in beard-and Plaid-wHeadphones-smiling-in2015_Oct2115viaNoemi
3) Olivia smiling is Emily Deschanel found at http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/2400000/Emily-Deschanel-emily-deschanel-2478681-497-600.jpg
4) Sam sleeping is Richard Armitage in Moving On found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/MovingOn/album/Moving%20On/slides/MO_079.jpg
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