An Original Story Copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace (all rights reserved)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my “ideal” actors cast in these roles:
British actor Richard Armitage and American actress Diane Lane and others.]
[(1ab) Story Logo]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love & Friendship” is a romantic love story set amidst contemporary times. As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes or other sauciness (R rated) and some passages involving highly dramatic moments. I will label the maturity rating of those chapters accordingly. Otherwise, the general rating for this story is PG or PG-13 due to mature situations and topics. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read those chapters. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Recap: Lydia and Robert were married privately and sweetly in his hometown church over the Christmas holidays.
“Love & Friendship”, Ch. 16: Friday, New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Robert’s Neighborhood Pub in London
New Year’s Eve is a time to celebrate the end of the old year and the promises of the new year to come. For Robert and Lydia, the new year dawns brightly with their love and hope for a family someday. So, they return home to London the day of New Year’s Eve to settle in as newlyweds and to usher in the new year with their neighbors down the lane at the pub.
Lydia and Robert have not yet formally announced their wedded bliss state to the media, trusting instead that it will eventually come out as more and more people become aware of it from their inner circle of friends and family to their wider circle of acquaintances and colleagues. They want to just be regular people who do not need to make a press announcement for every event in their lives.
So, Robert and Lydia drive the few blocks over to the pub—after spending the afternoon making their favorite almond bark candies to share like many other families who also bring special desserts to add to the pub food. Walking in the front door of the Hogs Breath Pub, they are greeted by its bartender proprietor, Seamus Graham. Seamus is a transplanted Scottish bloke of many years and few hairs left on the top of his head. But he is a friendly fellow, warm and welcoming.
Robert: “Hello Seamus, Happy New Year!”
Lydia: “Hello Seamus, Happy New Year! The pub looks very festive tonight.” She admires the decorations [(2) right] and Seamus beams. “Where do you want us to put the bowls of candies?”
Seamus: “Aye Lassie, they look tasty.” He says with his mouth watering. “You’ve caught a good one Robert.” He says twirling his consonants–and his mustache.
Robert: “Yes I have. But I helped make the candies, too.” He says proudly.
Seamus: “Oh? Adding to your acting skills, my boy. What’s next? Playing a pastry chef?”
Lydia: She laughs. “Well, I wouldn’t go that far. Robert, melts, stirs, dollops, and chops very well. But that’s the extent of his culinary skills at the moment.”
Robert: “I take umbrage at that characterization!” He says mock pompously and laughs. Little does he know that he and Lydia are indeed well matched as cooks–and bakers—even though they don’t know it yet.
Seamus: “We’ve got a desserts table spread set up over there, across from the food buffet. Just put your treats there.”
Lydia: “Will do.” She takes the two almond bark chocolate and vanilla nut candies bowls over to the table.
Seamus: Leaning in to Robert so no one else can hear them, he asks. “So Robert, will you be making an announcement this evening about your wedding?”
Robert: “How did you know!?!” He looks at Seamus astonished.
Seamus: “Well, you’re both wearing your fine wedding jewelry tonight. So, your secret won’t last for long.”
Robert: “That’s right!” He says rolling his eyes at forgetting. “We’ve been wearing our wedding rings back home at Mum and Dad’s village since we were married there on Dec. 26th during the morning church service. Since everyone knows there, we haven’t tried to keep it a secret.”
Seamus: “Well, it’s your news to tell. But I suggest you get ahead of the story as they say in the media.”
Robert: “Are you vying to be my pr guy, Seamus?” He asks him incredulously with a small laugh.
Seamus: “No, I just know a good story won’t keep—especially during the holidays.”
Lydia returns for the peppermints and sees the boys deep in conversation.
Lydia: “Alright fellows. What’s up?”
Seamus: “Your married state.” He says nonchalantly.
Lydia: “Robert, did you tell him?” She asks him sheepishly.
Robert: “I didn’t have to, Lydia my love.” He says lifting her left ring hand up to his lips and kisses it. “We’re wearing our wedding rings. Seamus thinks we should just get our announcement out there so that we can enjoy the rest of our evening.”
Seamus: “Aye. We’ll have our usual years’ end events trivia game coming up. We can slip it in there if you like?”
Robert: “Works for me.” Robert says cheerfully. Lydia smiles and nods her head.
Seamus: “Right. Well, I’ll add that question and its answer to the bowl and we’ll see who can guess.”
Lydia: “Right! Robert, let’s just put the peppermint candies out as well.” And they take their platter of half pink peppermint vanilla bark candies and half chocolate peppermint candies to the dessert table.
And, Seamus puts the Kensington’s marriage question into the trivia bowl. As neighbors and friends also filter into the pub and go through the food buffet line, they all enjoy their dinners. Then the after dinner trivia game starts around 8:00pm—before anyone is too snockered to answer the trivia questions, let alone not be able to read the questions on the slips of paper.
Seamus: “Aye. Now here are the rules of the trivia game. Each slip of paper has a question on it about some event that occurred in the past year. Its answer is folded underneath. Each team of groups of families will have 30 seconds to answer the question put to them. Each correct answer is worth two points. If the team doesn’t get the right answer, then the next team that answers it correctly gets one point. We have about fifty questions and four teams.”
Patron: “What’s the prize?”
Seamus: “Glad you asked that. The prize is a family meal at the pub here for you and four to six family members and friends some time in the coming year. If you have more family than that, you’ll have to pay for the extra ones.” He says pointedly looking over at the O’Hanrahan’s and their eight children. “Let’s get started.”
Seamus acts as the referee, pulling out and reading the questions for each team to answer. Robert and Lydia are on a team with Connie and Todd Barker and their two kids—Molly and Sean. The O’Hanrahan’s make up their own team followed by the Murphy’s and Linton’s together and the Williams’ and Judson’s together. Mostly the teams are comprised of families since the older single or widowed folks aren’t that interested in the trivia game. Lydia is actually delighted to see more of the families at the pub since when she and Robert had first eaten here it looked like the clientele were mostly retirees.
Seamus: Seamus roots his hand around in the question bowl and comes up with the first question. “First question, to the Kensington/Baker and Barker Team. What’s the name of our current Prime Minister, as of 4:00pm today?” Everyone laughs because since Tony Blair, Prime Ministers haven’t enjoyed long tenures.
Barkers Kensington/Baker: “Cameron!”
Seamus: “Two points!”
Seamus goes on to ask questions of each team in turn—with the teams seeming to be evenly matched. At around the fourth round of questions, the question gets really interesting—and local.
Seamus: “To the Murphy and Linton team. What dwarf playing actor was married over the Christmas Holidays?”
Murphy/Lintons: “Martin Freeman?”
Seamus: “No. He has a wife and kids already. To the O’Hanrahans.”
O’Hanrahans: “Sir Ian McKellan?”
Patron: “God’s teeth! He was a wizard. And we’re not talking civil unions.
Seamus: “No. To the Williams and Judson Team.”
Williams/Judson: “Orlando Bloom?”
Seamus: “Wrong again. And he was an Elf. But you’re getting warmer–in that he has a similar romantic hero persona on screen. … So, …” Seamus looks expectantly and mischievously over at Robert and Lydia. “To the Kensington/Baker and Barkers team. Can you tell us what dwarf playing actor was married over the Christmas Holidays?”
The Barkers look at Robert and Lydia quizzically and shrugging their shoulders, wondering if Robert and Lydia know the answer—since Robert is an actor, after all. Then Robert and Lydia raise their left hands high–showing off their wedding rings–with broad smiles on their faces, because they are they answer.
Robert: “That would be me, and my lovely wife Lydia here. We were married December 26th in my hometown village.”
Of course hoops and cheers and congratulations are given all around—and hugs and kisses flow abundantly as well.
Seamus: “Now, to be fair. Robert knew of this question since we prearranged it. So, no points. However, Robert and Lydia, did you wish to soften the blow?”
Robert: “Of course.” He says smiling broadly. “To celebrate our marriage, Lydia and I would like to buy a round of drinks for the house on us!” Lydia smiles and nods.
More cheers go up for the Kensington’s as the round of drinks are passed out. The evening goes along merrily with the trivia game finishing—with the O’Hanrahan’s winning the free meal for six of their ten family members—and a few drinking games and songs, as well as the usual new year countdown, and singing auld lang syne [(3)]:
Everything breaks up around 12:30am in the first day of the new year. And Robert and Lydia head home and tumble into bed around 1:00am—too tired to make love for now, but happily cuddling naked with each other. Because New Year’s Day morning they are refreshed and eager to celebrate the new year and their new lives with each other—lovingly, adoringly, passionately, and tenderly.
To be continued with Chapter 17
“Love & Friendship”, Chapter 17 (PG-13): Saturday, New Years Day Family Gathering for Robert’s Poker buddies and their families
But, Robert and Lydia can’t make love all morning long on New Year’s Day—although they do try quite successfully. They will have guests in the afternoon for a late buffet luncheon around 3:00pm and poker and movies and sports with their poker buddies and their families. This will be Robert and Lydia’s first hosted event as a married couple–although, their non poker buddy friends don’t know yet that they are married. True to their kind loving hearts, Lydia and Robert also have kid games and fun planned consisting of a family snowman building contest in the backyard—followed by a snowball fight. As they welcome their guests, Lydia is introduced to the wives of the men she already met at the Saturday poker game her first weekend in London.
Robert: “Blokes! It’s good to see you and your families.”
Dickie: “Thanks for having us Robert and Lydia.” Then he turns to his wife and makes the introductions. “Beatrice Dear, Robert you know.” Dickie rolls his eyes amusingly at Robert and his wife nods as Robert leans in and kisses her cheek. “But, this is the lovely Lydia, Robert’s … roommate.” He says for lack of a more definitive description of her relationship to Robert.
Lydia: “It’s lovely to meet you Beatrice.” Lydia shakes her hand and leans in and kisses Beatrice’s cheek.
Beatrice: “It’s lovely to meet you, too, Lydia. So, just roommates?” Beatrice looks at Robert with his arm around Lydia’s shoulders and Lydia’s arm around Robert’s waist.
Buster: “Yes, Robert. Are you making any progress?”
Alana: “Buster! Leave Robert and Lydia alone. Hello Lydia, I’m Alana. Don’t mind him.” She smiles bemusedly at her husband.
Lydia: “Hello Alana, thanks for joining us today.” Lydia smiles warmly and a bit mischievously.
Nancy: “Hi! I’m Adam’s wife, Nancy!” She pipes up cheerfully and leans in and kisses Lydia’s cheek.
Lydia: Seeing Nancy’s very pregnant tummy, Lydia suggests. “Oh my dear, you’re glowing! Wouldn’t you like to sit down?”
Robert: “Yes, let me get you a chair.”
Adam: “Thanks Robert.” Adam smiles warmly–but obtusely not getting that he should have helped his wife to a chair.
Conroy: “Lydia Dear, that just leaves me to introduce my wife Talia.”
Talia: “It’s nice to meet you Lydia.” She says as her five year old twins–a boy and a girl–whiz past her to the munchy table. “Sorry about that.”
Lydia: “That’s alright.” Lydia smiles warmly. “Kids will be kids.”
Robert: “Yes.” Robert smiles warmly.
Talia: “So Lydia and Robert,” Talia asks impishly. “… are we supposed to pretend all afternoon that we don’t know that you’re married?” She says holding up Lydia’s left hand with her wedding and engagement rings on them.
Adam, Buster, Conroy, Dickie: “What!” They say excitedly. “Robert! Did you!?!”
Robert: “Fellows, what can I say. You called it last month.” Robert says putting his arms lovingly around Lydia as she looks up at him adoringly and they kiss sweetly. “Lydia and I were married quietly back home on December 26th.”
Dickie: “Just in time for the tax breaks!”
Robert: “See Lydia!” Robert laughs. “I’m not the only one who thought of that.”
Lydia: “Well, as long as that’s not the only reason you married me. Ha ha ha!” She laughs mock ruefully.
Robert: “I married you because, you’re my girl, Lydia Darling.” Then Robert and Lydia kiss each other so sweetly, so tenderly, so lovingly, and so adoringly, that it leaves no doubt in their friends’ minds that Lydia and Robert are indeed a romantic couple.
Robert’s and Lydia’s New Year’s Day families party is fun as the five couples and the kids play games, eat, throw snow balls, and eat some more. It is a congenial gathering of old friends, new friends, and friends yet to come as Lydia and Robert blend their lives together as they celebrate the new year.
To be continued with Chapter 18
1)The Love & Friendship” story logo is a composite of two images:
a) British Actor Richard Armitage in a December 2010 Promo portrait found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2010Promo/album/20Dec2010-Perou-03.jpg; and
b) American Actress Diane Lane at the Berlin Film Festival in 2011 found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diane_Lane_%28Berlin_Film_Festival_2011%29_2.jpg
2) Happy New Year sign was found at MS Office Clip Art at http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/images/results.aspx?qu=happy%20new%20year&ex=2#ai:MC900444925|