“Love is a Choice”, Prologue – Ch. 2: Their Wedding Night Begins Fitfully, March 15, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #379)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Lord Rafe Wingate, Carla Gugino as Lady Katharine Wingate, Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Plunkett, and others, etc.]
[Story Logo 1abcd]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “Love is a Choice” is a story of love and romance set in the early to mid 1800’s. I like Regency sensibilities with regard to comedy of manners, but Romantic period modes of dress. Ha! As such there will be some passages in this story involving heartfelt love scenes (perhaps some 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 some 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 the chapters with those labels. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s Scheduling Note: “Love is a Choice” will have a semi-weekly posting schedule on Mondays and Fridays–my muse permitting. I have about 40 pages written so far with some plot twists involved. So much for this being a short story. Ha! As usual, I will be concurrently publishing my “Love is a Choice” story on my Wattpad site for those who prefer to read it there: http://www.wattpad.com/user/GratianaLovelace
“Love is a Choice”, Prologue
In the early 1800’s England, women rarely if ever had the luxury of choosing their own husband. Marriage was about establishing and expanding wealth and position, forging alliances, maintaining tradition, and insuring familial lines of inheritance. While men had the freedom to seek out romantic love–usually outside of marriage–women did not. Strict codes of virtue were applied to women–even to the point of insisting that married women should not be eager to engage in lustful unions with their husbands. Conjugal relations–were for the getting of children as heirs–having a loving romance with one’s spouse was rare. Even liking one’s spouse was rarer still due to arranged marriages among the nobility not necessarily taking into account the feelings or wishes of the parties involved. [(2)]
Lord Ralph (pronounced Rafe) Wingate [(3) right] of Warwick, England is titled and long past the age at 28 when he should have been getting down to the business of producing heirs–from his father’s point of view. Even his few years younger sister Louisa and her husband Sir John have two children already, 5 year old Henry and 3 year old Charlotte. Lord Rafe is a doting Uncle for his delightful niece and nephew. So he has gradually come around to the position that he is not averse to the idea of marriage–not one bit. His parents’ marriage is a happy one–as is his sister’s marriage and a good friend’s, too. And Lord Rafe has sown his wild oats romantically for twelve years now. So it is time he selected a wife and he settled down.
As luck would have it, the London marriage market–also known as the season–had a lovely array of ladies whom Lord Rafe and his parents felt would do credit to the name of Wingate. One lady in particular caught Lord Rafe’s attention immediately. Lady Katharine Southwick of Suffolk was lovely, vivacious, and from a good family [(4) right]. Since Lord Rafe was favorably disposed to marriage and this lady caught his fancy, the deed was accomplished in a mere two weeks time–before any other eligible bachelors could even present their cards to her for an interview. That is the way of Lord Rafe–decisive, and a very good judge of character. And he was instantly smitten with Lady Katharine.
However, for the young lady in question, the 18 year old Lady Katharine Southwick Wingate, the proposal, marriage negotiations pertaining to her dowery, and their wedding this very day just two weeks since she met her now husband, Lord Rafe Wingate, have been quite a whirlwind. She has not had any chance to catch her breath, not gotten to know her new husband, nor has Lady Katharine decided if she likes the fact that she is married at all–let alone, married to Lord Rafe in particular. But the banns have been said, the marriage rites performed, and the ring is on her finger. So all that remains is that the wedding night awaits–maybe.
Lord Rafe and his new bride Lady Katharine are just beginning their lives together as husband and wife. However, life is rarely perfect–then or now. And the same can be said about love and happiness. Happiness is an ever evolving attempt to reconcile what we want with what we have. Whereas love is finding joy with someone who will care for us, cherish us, believe in us, support us, and nurture us–beyond what they hope to receive in return from us.
And if life is about making choices that impact our future–so it is with love. It is not easy finding love, nor knowing when it is right. But sometimes love finds us, when we are not expecting it, nor prepared for it. And when that happens, we have to find the courage to choose love.
To be continued with Chapter 1
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 1: The Bride’s Wedding Night Escape
The cool night air that had earlier refreshed Lady Katharine Wingate,is now beginning to chill her to the bone. If she had not walked out on her wedding night with not even her shawl over her wedding gown–if not her cloak–she would at least have some warmth now. The thin satin and lace of her wedding gown is no barrier against the cold not quite Spring weather–made chillier by an incessant howling wind. And her feet in their delicate wedding slippers are not faring well either. She knows that she will have blisters on her feet from where the rocky and rough hewn road stones and forest brambles are tearing at her slippers and her feet. And her finely embroidered satin wedding slippers are nearly ruined.
No, she made a big mistake to bolt from her bridegroom not long after they entered their warm wedding night bed chamber at his parents’ country estate’s hunting lodge. Her new husband, Lord Rafe Wingate, had imbibed a bit too cheerfully at this evening’s wedding reception. And when he sat down on their bed to remove his boots, he promptly laid back and fell asleep. She supposes his inability to stay awake was due to his extreme age–28 years to Lady Katharine’s youthful 18 years. Were he a few years older, he could almost be her father–she wrinkles her nose at the thought. Though her own dear papa, is well into his forties and thankfully still robust of health.
But Lady Katharine barely knows Lord Rafe. Her parents Sir Antony and Lady Charmaine Southwick had so eagerly accepted Lord Wingate’s offer for her hand after her coming out ball at the beginning of the season, that Lady Katharine Southwick did not even have the customary courting period to allow her to adjust to the idea. She does not know the man to whom she now finds herself wed and she lets out a mournful sob into her delicately embroidered linen handkerchief as she looks at the ominous dark woods surrounding her. They were married within a fortnight of meeting and she now finds herself in the predicament of being in an unfamiliar countryside near Warwick, England, walking in the cold, to she knows not where.
Upon seeing a faint light ahead in the trees, she hopes that it might be a caretaker’s cottage on the property where she might seek shelter. She runs toward the light with little thought to the state of her hair that has come completely undone and lies about her shoulders in its natural state of softly curled dishevelment–her brunette ringlets having long since unfurled. Lady Katharine hurries to the front door and knocks frantically. There is no answer. So she knocks again–a little louder this time. Then finally life seems to stir within as a tiny but large boned Scottish woman [(5a) right] in her mid fifties wearing a nightcap and a shawl over her plain cambric shift opens the small cottage door wide–her girth nearly encompassing the span of the doorway.
Mrs. Plunkett: In a heavy brogue, she bellows. “Who is it? Oh! Now see here, lassie! You be interrupting my sleep. Who be you and what do ye want?” She asks brusquely while rubbing her eyes to wake herself up more. Then she notices the fine clothes that the young lady before her is wearing–wedding clothes [(5b) right]. “Oh! Beggin your pardon, Milady.” Mrs. Plunkett curtsies and bows her head.
Lady Katharine: “No, it is I who must beg your pardon, Mistress …” she pauses.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Oh! I be Maureen Plunkett.” She curtsies again.
Lady Katharine: “My apologies Mrs. Plunkett for disturbing your rest.” She shivers from the cold.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Ooh Dearie. Come inside. We best get you warmed up.”
Mrs. Plunkett ushers Katharine into her two room cottage and guides her to sit by the fire.
Lady Katharine: “Thank you! I’m afraid that I lost my way in the dark and I couldn’t find my way back.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “I’d say that you lost more than your way.”
Lady Katharine: She blinks. “Pardon?
Mrs. Plunkett: “Your bridegroom isn’t with you. Your fine wedding clothes tell me you be a bride. You can na fool me.” Her eyes twinkle. But given there were several noble weddings among the gentry in the area recently, she can not pinpoint who this bride belongs to. “So, who be your husband?”
Lady Katharine: Her heart sinks. There is nothing for it but to reveal her and her husband’s identity. “I am … Lady Katharine Wingate. Lord Rafe Wingate is my husband.” She stiffens her back and her resolve..
Mrs. Plunkett: “My lord!” She sputters with apoplexy. “Rafie finally sat still long enough for someone to marry him? I don’t believe it!” Mrs. Plunkett says in stunned awe. Then she regroups. “Well, you are a pretty little thing. And he likes pretty things, I dare say. And he is a tall, dark, and handsome devil, is he not?” She smiles saucily.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine half heartedly nods in agreement as to her husband being handsome. Her chief complaint about her husband is not with his appearance, it is that she does not know him. Wondering if this woman is a servant on the estate, she asks tentatively. “So you know of my husband?” She wonders what this woman can tell her about him. A mere two weeks of acquaintance–always in company–has not allowed her to take the measure of the man.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Indeed I do! Ever since I took him as a babe to my breast, we have been very good friends.” Lady Katharine startles at that frank and intimate admission. “Dearie, after I wet nursed Rafie, I worked for his family as an assistant cook for many years. And a few years ago Rafie was kind enough to set me up in this cottage when I could no longer stand for long hours cooking. From time to time, they send me new kitchen help to train them here.” She gestures proudly to her modest dwelling. “And they let us keep the food we make to eat ourselves.” She smiles broadly as she pats her broad stomach that is well accustomed to fine dining since she samples all of the exotic dishes and pastries that she makes.
Lady Katharine: “Rafie?” Lady Katharine’s brow frowns in amused disbelief at the endearing form of her husband’s name. “Really?” Though she has not seen her husband interact with many people in the two weeks she has known him–let alone his own servants–she is amazed at this fine account of him.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Might I offer you a spot of tea to warm you up, My Lady?” She asks caringly as she puts her kettle on her small stove that she uses for cooking lessons.
Lady Katharine: “Yes, thank you, Mrs. Plunkett. I am quite chilled. And if I may, I will warm my feet by the fire.” Katharine moves toward the small hearth in the center of what constitutes the kitchen and sitting room.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Of course, Dearie. Just be sure not to get too close to the fire. We wouldn’t want ye to singe your lovely gown. In fact, let me help ye remove your skirt and petticoats altogether. Then you can really warm your toes up right.”
Lady Katharine: Shocked, she demures. “But I do not have anything else to change into.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “I will give you a blanket to cover your legs as you sit by the hearth. You are wearing drawers, are you not?” For Mrs. Plunkett knows that ladies of refinement–such as Lady Katharine before her–always wear drawers.
Lady Katharine: “Yes, of course!” Blushing crimson, Lady Katharine nods shyly as Mrs. Plunkett helps her undress.
Mrs. Plunkett: As the last of the voluminous petticoats is removed, Mrs. Plunkett can see what Katharine is talking about. Mrs. Plunkett stares in shock at the beauty of Katharine’s drawers when they are revealed. “My word!”
Lady Katharine: “Oh! They were a present from my dear Grandmere. They are silk!” She gestures toward her drawers.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Well I never saw anything of the like! Silk for drawers, that no one will see?”
Having been so wrapped up in their conversation, the two women did not hear the cottage door open.
Lord Rafe: “But I can see your silk drawers my dear wife and I find them most charming.” His heated gaze upon his wife’s womanly curves leaves no doubt about his desire for her.
Lady Katharine twirls herself around to face her husband with an astonished look on her face.
Lady Katharine: “Lord Rafe!” She struggles quickly to find something nearby to cover her lower half with–her wedding dress bodice still remains on her. But Mrs. Plunkett’s promised blanket is nowhere to be seen. So Lady Katharine moves to stand behind a chair to block his searing gaze. “I thought you were asleep!”
Lord Rafe: “Clearly!” He puffs and fiddles with the annoying lace at his wedding sleeve cuffs. “I was most disconcerted to awaken from my brief nap to find myself utterly alone. I am a bridegroom, my dear–and you are my bride. And as yet, we have our wedding night to look forward to.” He slowly draws his index finger down the side of her face as he smiles wickedly at her.
Lady Katharine cringes and shrinks back from him. She is not looking forward to her wedding night to this stranger one bit. Oh why did her marriage have to be so rushed? Maybe if she knew him a little she wouldn’t be so scared of tonight. Her innocence about carnal matters is quite absolute.
However as a man of the world, Lord Rafe Wingate is no innocent–far from it. In his 28 years, he has cut a fair to middling sized swath through many a milkmaid and several a lonely and willing widow. Lord Rafe smoulders lingeringly as he moistens his lips in anticipation of the sweet treasure of a wife who is before him. She is on the threshold of her womanly beauty–and she is ripe for his plunder. Lady Katharine feels that the way her husband is looking at her, she wonders if she is his wife or his next meal.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Didn’t you think to tell me you were getting married, Rafie?” Mrs. Plunkett pulls on Lord Rafe’s ear to get his attention.
Lord Rafe: “Ow! That hurts, Mrs. P.” He mewls like the boy he once was.
Mrs. Plunkett: “I would have made you your favorite pudding.” She pouts, clearly put out at being slighted.
Lord Rafe: “I’m sorry, Mrs. P. But our marriage happened so fast, that I barely had time to attend it myself. Ha ha ha ha ha!” He leans down and kisses her cheek. “Please do not be angry with me.”
Mrs. Plunkett: “Welllll.” She acquiesces.
Lord Rafe: “And may I still have my pudding?” He asks brightly like the little boy he no longer is.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Of course. You come back tomorrow mid day and I will have it for you.”
She pats his face like he is a little boy. In a way, he is her little boy in her heart–her favorite among the Wingate lot. Lord Rafe spent so much time in the manor kitchen when he was growing up–endearingly finagling treats or hiding from his parents when he did something wrong–that Mrs. Plunkett can be excused for her fondness for him.
Watching this tender domestic exchange between her husband and his servant is rather confusing for Lady Katharine.
Lady Katharine: “Who are you?” She asks her husband in stupefaction.
Lord Rafe: Remembering his station, he straightens up and drops his familiar tone of just a minute ago as he returns to his civil tone. “Madam, I am your husband. So legally, you belong to me, and we should return to our own cottage to finalize our happy state. Our carriage awaits us.” He motions gallantly toward the door.
Katharine: “I am not going anywhere with you!” She shakes her head in protest. Although she is having a hard time appearing in control when she is missing her petticoats and wedding gown skirt, she still holds herself with poise.
Lord Rafe: Holding out his hand to her, he commands in a gentle voice. “Madam, I will take you with me agreeably or flung over my shoulder if need be–and whether you are dressed or in your present state of lovely dishabille. It matters not to me how you get to our wedding night bed chamber–just that you get there.” But he does not have the ability to bluff completely convincingly, and a small smirk curls at the corners of his mouth that his wife does not notice. However, Mrs. Plunkett sees his smirk and smiles, too.
Katharine: Remembering her near nakedness, she clutches the chair in front of her that blocks his view of her silk drawers. “You would not dare do such a thing!” She stares upon him in horror at his audacity to order her to his bed.
Mrs. Plunkett: “Ha ha ha! Ooh Dearie. Dare is not a word to use in front of our Rafie. Best you surrender to him now and keep some of your dignity intact.” Mrs. Plunkett winks at Katharine, then she looks knowingly over at Lord Rafe.
Lord Rafe raises his left eye brow in endless amusement at his wife’s predicament.
Lord Rafe: “Well, Katharine? Are we going to disturb Mrs. P’s rest all night long?” He looks at her with a studied banality that belies his eagerness to get her to their marriage bed.
Lady Katharine: Summoning up her resolve, she relents. “Hhhh! I will join you outside as soon as I am dressed.”
Lord Rafe: “Oh no! I am not letting you out of my sight again. You might climb through a back window and escape.” He smiles in jest.
Lady Katharine: Looking for a moment as if that thought had not occurred to her–but she thinks it is a good one–Lady Katharine regroups. “No, I will not be so unladylike as to climb out a window. It would ruin my dress.” She tries to sound logical.
Lord Rafe: “I doubt that you would be concerned about that–based upon the miserable state of your wedding slippers after your long walk this evening.” He points to her muddy and torn slippers in the corner.
Lady Katharine: She tremblingly bites her lower lip. “Oh alright. But at least turn around and do not watch me redress.”
Lord Rafe: He rolls his eyes and shakes his head in amusement. “Very well, Madam. But you are going to have to become accustomed to me seeing you unclothed at some point.” He smiles wickedly as he turns away from her.
Lady Katharine’s body stills, wide eyed upon hearing her husband’s pronouncement just as Mrs. Plunkett helps her put her petticoats and wedding gown skirt back on. Lady Katharine wonders to what extent he means, with regard to her being unclothed. No one has seen her completely unclothed since she was a babe. She has not even seen herself naked–always wearing a dressing gown when changing or wearing her linen shift when bathing. And never looking at herself in the mirror while unclothed, of course.
Mrs. Plunkett.: “Dearie, It will be alright.” Mrs. Plunkett pats Lady Katharine’s hand. Then she leans in to Lady Katharine and whispers conspiratorially. “From tales I have heard over the years, our Rafie knows what he is doing. So just enjoy yourself.” She smiles, showing one tooth missing–a hazard from tasting too many of her own sugary desserts.
Lady Katharine is mortified to receive wedding night advice from a servant, however kind and well meaning that servant is. And if a servant hears gossip about her husband’s romantic escapades before he is married, Lady Katharine wonders what kind of a marriage she has gotten herself into? And will her husband be faithful to her?
To be continued with Chapter 2
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 2 (PG-13): The Wedding Night Resumes
The carriage ride back to Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine Wingate’s secluded wedding cottage on his parents’ estate is silent. And that is if you call a three story ten bedroom hunting lodge [(6) right] with ten servants a cottage. For his part, Lord Rafe thinks it is best to get his wife under his roof and settled in before anything he might say would upset her again or more. Truly, he has never encountered so skittish a woman in all of his life–and as his reputation as a rake attests, he is well acquainted with women. Katharine stares blankly out the carriage window–knowing that with each passing tree, rock, and shrub, she is getting closer to the trial, as her dear Mama phrased it as her only marriage advice to her daughter.
Finally they arrive at the hunting lodge and Lord Rafe assists his wife in exiting the carriage. As the butler opens the front door to the cottage, Lady Katharine moves to enter. However, her husband, Lord Rafe stops her, swoops her into his arms, and carries her across the threshold–to her consternation.
Lady Katharine: “Eek! What are you doing? Put me down.” She slaps his shoulders even as she clings to them, hoping that he does not drop her.
Lord Rafe: “Madam.” He is always formal around the servants. “Carrying the bride across the threshold is tradition. We will only have one wedding day and I choose not to miss out on all of its rituals and traditions.”
Lady Katharine: She understands fully his intended double meaning. “Will you at least put me down now that we are inside?” She pleads.
Lord Rafe: “No! I will not.” He smiles benignly. Then he turns to his Butler. “Smithers, please make sure that our bed chamber fire is stoked and we have refreshments awaiting us.”
Butler Smithers: “All is ready, Milord. We anticipated your request when we heard your carriage coming up the drive.” He says blandly. Pebbled driveways are better than anything for alerting staff to impending arrivals.
Lord Rafe: “Excellent!”
Lord Rafe shifts Lady Katharine in his arms and proceeds to carry her up the wide staircase to the second floor. Lady Katharine covers her face in embarrassment. It is not until he carries her into their bed chamber and kicks the door closed that he gently sets her on her feet. Then he goes back to the door and bolts its lock. Lady Katharine feels trapped. She moves into the center of the room–in the sitting area in front of the hearth opposite a large four poster bed, their bed [(7) right].
Lord Rafe mirrors her movement into the room, but in parallel–as if a tiger stalking its prey. Lord Rafe will enjoy bedding his lovely wife–or at least, that is his goal. The fire has indeed been stoked and casts a warm romantic glow up their marriage bed. He smiles.
Lady Katharine: Trying to find a way to delay things tonight–to delay being alone with him as she is now–she asks. “My Lord, might you ask for a maid to attend to me? I fear that I cannot change out of this dress without help.”
Lord Rafe: “My Lady, please call me Rafe when we are in private or amongst family.” She nods. “And I think I shall call you Kate.” He smiles.
Lady Katharine: “Kate does not suit me. I prefer Katharine.”
Lord Rafe: “Ah. But husbands and wives must have some endearments they use with and for each other. And I think Kate does suit you.”
Lady Katharine: “Oh? And should I perhaps call you Rafie as did your former wet nurse, Mrs. Plunkett?”
Lord Rafe: “Not unless, dear Kate, you intend to suckle me at your breast.” He smiles most bemusedly, then bursts into laughter. “Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
The image he conjures up in both of their minds is lascivious and lustful–pleasantly so to him, and disturbingly so to her.
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” She blushes in embarrassment for her so easily falling prey to his trap.
Lord Rafe: “And as to your needing a maid to help you undress, I can help you with that, my dear.” His gaze lingers over her body slowly, anticipating what further beauty might be revealed underneath her elegant wedding gown.
Lady Katharine: “No! I cannot have a man undress me–not even my husband.” She cowers to one side of the hearth, clinging to the mantel for support.
Lord Rafe: Seeing true fear in his wife’s eyes, he stops approaching her. He wonders why she seems so frightened of their marriage bed intimacies yet to come–frightened of him? He endeavors to put her at her ease. “Kate.” He holds out his hand to her. “Let us sit on the sette and talk while we enjoy some refreshments.” He hopes to lessen her fears–of him and of their wedding night through their convivial interactions.
Lady Katharine: She looks at him for a long moment. He smiles benignly at her. Then she acquiesces haltingly. “As you wish, my Lord.”
Lord Rafe: “It is Rafe, dear Kate.” He smiles warmly.
Lady Katherine: She nods. “As you wish, Rafe.” She says resignedly.
Lady Katharine hesitantly takes Lord Rafe’s hand and he gently guides her over to the sette. She sits primly–her body is as tense as a bow string as she sits with rigidly perfect posture. Although, ladies’ corsets do tend to assist them in having such poise and seeming grace. Lady Katharine’s hands are folded together in her lap looking relaxed, but their stillness belies her anxiety ridden state.
He pours her some wine and hands her the goblet. She sips. Then he breaks off some bread and pulls a tiny bite sized piece off of it.
Lord Rafe: “Close your eyes.” He commands her mischievously.
Lady Katharine: “Why?” She asks suspiciously.
Lord Rafe: He continues playfully. “Because I asked you nicely. Please?” Katharine closes her eyes. He moves the small piece of bread close to her mouth–her lips firmly shut. “Now open your mouth.” He cajoles.
Lady Katharine does not comply. She fears that he might mistake her compliance for willingness and invade her mouth as her Mama said men sometimes do when they kiss. It sounds revolting to her to think of his tongue in her mouth. Ewwww!
Lady Katharine: “No.” But in the act of saying the word, her mouth opens a little and Lord Rafe gently pushes the small morsel of bread into her mouth.
Lord Rafe: “There! That wasn’t so bad. Now was it?
Lady Katharine: “Hmmm.” She says while she chews and opens her eyes to look at him questioningly.
Lord Rafe: “Our cooks make the best bread. Surprised?” He smiles cheerfully.
Lady Katharine: “Yes. I … well I was worried that you might be going to …” She stops there, not able to continue her thought of relating to him her worry of his tongue in her mouth–not wanting to give him any ideas.
Lord Rafe: “I might be going to what?” Then he leans toward her with a saucy expression on his face. “Ravish you with deep kisses?” She nods meekly, her face blushing brightly as she leans back from him. “In due time my dear, all in due time. Now! You feed me something.” He suggests seductively as he closes his eyes and opens his mouth. He is rather enjoying this little game of flirtation they are playing. No woman has resisted him for this long–and he finds her intriguing.
Lady Katharine looks about the serving platter filled with bread, cheese, and fruit. She picks up an egg sized plum–not her favorite fruit by a long shot–and she shoves it into Lord Rafe’s mouth. To her astonishment, he pushes part of the plum back out of his mouth–holding it only with his lips. Then he languorously reaches up his hand to steady the plum and he bites into it, holding up the remainder of the plum in his hand as he proceeds to nibble on it. His eyes are closed, but she watches him slowly nick at the edges of the fruit before taking another large bite out of it. Eventually, he finishes the fruit and opens his eyes with a smirk very evident on his face.
Lady Katharine: Tilting her head in curiosity at him, she asks. “What?”
Lord Rafe: “My dear, this is my house and these are my servants. They prepare foods they know that I like. Plums are among my favorites!” He gleams.
Lady Katharine: “Well, plums are not to my tastes.” She shakes her head and wrinkles her nose in disgust.
Lord Rafe: “Ah ha!” He raises his index finger into the air as if conducting a symphony. “We are making progress. I now know that you do not like plums!” He smiles broadly.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, should not our relative ignorance about each other be your clue as to the unsuitability of our hasty marriage?” She asks poutily.
Lord Rafe: “Not in the least! We will get to know each other over time, and I daresay develop a genuine fondness and regard for one another that will make our life together very pleasant.” He smiles, pleased with himself for his pronouncement.
Lord Rafe is a typical male aristocrat–accustomed to getting his own way, such that he expects to have what he wishes accomplished almost before he can entertain thoughts about them.
Lady Katharine: Put out that he is not agreeing with her, she says tempestuously. “We only danced that one time with each other at my coming out ball–we had not even shared a conversation over punch–before you offered for my hand to my parents. What possessed you to act so rashly?” She challenges him.
Lord Rafe: Feeling that some honesty on his part might help assuage his wife’s concerns about their marriage he takes both of her hands in his and says simply while gazing deeply into her hazel eyes with his piercing blue eyes. “I was smitten by you, Kate. You are so lovely … and usually sweet.” He smiles wryly. “That is, when you are not running away from me. Ha ha ha!” Then he gently squeezes her hand in his. “Truly Kate, it is as if a thunderbolt hit me and I could somehow see our lives intertwined as husband and wife–with children and grandchildren in our happy home. I knew that we were destined for a great love.”
Lady Katharine: A bit startled by his heartfelt admission, she asks petulantly. “And you see fit to only tell me now that your regard for me is sincere?”
Lord Rafe: He sheepishly shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes. “I admit that I may have erred in not sharing my feelings with you earlier. But …”
Lady Katharine: “As well as your not seeking to discern what my feelings are.” She finishes his sentence for him, the purses her lips together in a pout.
A very cute pout, from Lord Rafe’s perspective.
Lord Rafe: “And what are your feelings for me, Kate?” He asks mischievously.
Lady Katharine: “I can not say.” She dissembles and glances away from him as he continues to hold one of her hands.
Lord Rafe: “Can not or will not?” He chides her impishly.
Lady Katharine: She turns her head back to look at him again. “I do not know you. I cannot make an assessment either way.”
Lord Rafe: “Excellent! Your open mind is something for us to build upon.” He smiles thinking that he just has to let her get to know him a bit and she will like him–maybe even love him someday. “Let us continue getting acquainted, now.” He releases her hand and sips his wine. “I would like to have children for us to nurture. And what is your wish on that subject?” He asks companionably while peering at her over the lip of his wine goblet.
Lady Katharine: “Well, I too would like children–someday.” She rolls her eyes.
Lord Rafe: “Excellent! That is something we can do together.” He smiles at her desirously. He has tried to reign in his lustful nature for her sake. But sometimes, his urges get the better of him. Naturally, speaking of having children causes Lord Rafe to think of how children come to be.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine shakes her head feeling anxious as she leans away from her husband–with her bosom heaving as her breathing deepens, that her husband notices appreciatively. Her unsettled state is upon her again despite their comfortable conversation just now. “But I cannot lie with you tonight just because it is expected of us.” Her eyes are pleading for him to understand.
Lord Rafe: Taking her hand in his again, he gazes soulfully into her eyes, he says softly and with great tenderness. “My Lady, you need have no fear of me. I may look rough, but I am told that my manners as a lover are gentle and pleasing.” He whispers in a deeply seductive tone as he kisses her hand.
Lady Katharine: Rather than have the calming effect that he intended, his words get her hackles up. She pulls her hands from his grasp. “Oh? And just how many testimonials from women about you as a lover are out there in society? Must I look into each woman’s face and wonder if she has bedded my husband before me?” She clasps her hands tightly in front of her.
Lord Rafe: “Madam! I am nothing if not discreet. My past lady friends will not trouble you. And now that we are married, I vowed before God to love only you–and I meant that.” He pouts–a bit hurt by the aspersions she is casting upon his honorable intentions toward her.
Lady Katharine: “Ohhh! Rafe, please leave me to myself.” She pleads with him and closes her eyes. Then she whispers so softly that even she can barely hear herself as her tears begin to fall. “Please have pity on me.”
Lord Rafe: Seeing her distress anew–and wanting to understand where her fear is coming from in order to soothe her–he asks her tenderly, but directly. “Kate, what have you been told about tonight? About what transpires between a husband and wife in their bed?” She looks up at him and says nothing. Then he gently urges her. “Please tell me. If you wish me to understand your reluctance to lie with me this night, then please enlighten me.”
Lady Katharine: She looks at him dubiously through her tears. “Mama has said that I would find it a disgusting trial, but that it is necessary … for having children.”
Lord Rafe: Looking at her in shock and growing understanding, he asks a further question. “But did she not tell you of the pleasures that a husband and wife tenderly share with each other in their marriage bed?”
Lady Katharine: “Nooooo!” She wails and covers his face with her hands. “It is sinful to say such things.” Yet she knows that husbands marry wives, they lie with each other, and children are born–sometimes many children. It is the way of things. However Lady Katharine’s virtuous musings have quite eclipsed her reason.
Lord Rafe: “That is poor logic. If God made our bodies, then he gave us this gift to find pleasure with each other. If God made it so, it cannot be a sin.” Then he has a thought and raises a curious eye brow. “Kate, do you actually know what husbands and wives do together in their marriage beds?”
Lady Katharine: She curls her fingers downward to reveal her eyes while still holding her hands upon her reddened cheeks. She looks at him a moment, then she admits in a small voice, barely croaking out her somewhat sheepish reply. “No.”
Lord Rafe: “Ah ha!” He says with enlightenment–whilst stifling chuckle. The position in which he finds himself now would almost be amusing–were it happening to another bridegroom.
Lord Rafe ponders his next actions. What to do? Lord Rafe has a fearful and a tearful bride on his hands. He knows that what he does this night with her will forever mark their lives together and how she feels about him. And forever is a very long time for a wife to carry bad memories and ill feelings.
Lady Katharine: “Hm hm.” She whimpers, worried about what is coming next. She wonders if he will he ravish her, as is his right as her husband? And if he does, how will she look another living soul in the eyes without shame? Because they will know that she is a wife–and all that that status implies.
Lord Rafe: “Kate, I do not believe that I am about to suggest this.” He says half to his wife and half to himself. It is a night for surprises, he finds.
Lady Katharine: “What?” She cringes with trepidation.
Lord Rafe: “Let us retire to bed and just sleep this night. Maybe what you merely need is time to acclimate to being married to me.” He smiles–pleased with his own generous spirit.
Of course, he does not want to forgo his husbandly rights indefinitely. But one night will not hurt anything–and it could make a lifetime of difference in how well they get along together. Besides he thinks, there is always the morning for love play–once both of them are well rested.
Lady Katharine: “Really? You would do that for me?” She asks incredulously as a small glimmer of hope enters her thoughts.
Lord Rafe: “Yes my dear Kate, I will. We are both tired. Let us get some much needed rest.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you!” She nods and smiles. Then her smile freezes as something occurs to her. “Oh!” She bites her lower lip and looks at him askance.
Lord Rafe: “I am almost afraid to ask. Ha ha ha! But what now?” He knows bemusedly that they will never forget this night–but not for the reasons that people generally remember their wedding night.
Lady Katharine: “I do not have a suitable nightgown to wear for just sleeping.” She blushes crimson.
Lord Rafe: “Oh really?” His ears perk up–among other things. “And why is your nightgown unsuitable?”
Lady Katharine: No one is around, but she feels too shy to say it out loud. So she whispers her reply. “My wedding nightgown … was a present from my Grandmere.”
Lord Rafe: “Like your silk drawers were?” He smiles wondering if her nightgown is also made of silk?
Lady Katharine: She nods. “Yes. Grandmere is French.” She looks at her husband a moment to see if he understands the import of that statement. “My nightgown is ….” Lady Katharine stops, wondering how to describe her nightgown. “…shear silk … and rather form fitting.” Her blush deepens for her having accepted this gift. But she could not insult her Grandmere by refusing it.
Lord Rafe: His eyebrow raises saucily in amusement as he says huskily. “Yes, I can see your predicament. As your husband, I might not be able to resist your charms were you wearing such a garment.” She winces. He leans in to her and whispers conspiratorially. “By the way, I would very much like to meet your Grandmere sometime soon.” He smiles saucily–hoping that he has an ally in his wife’s Grandmere. “So! We need a solution.” She nods her head. “Hmmm.” He ponders. Then Lord Rafe snaps his fingers. “Got it! I will let you wear my night shirt and I will go without.” He raises his open palms to her as he smiles very pleased with himself.
Lady Katharine: She startles even as her eyes widen in shock. “But you cannot sleep in our bed with nothing on.”
Lord Rafe: “Why not? It is my usual custom.” She looks at him in alarm–as if he were sin personified. “When I am abed–sleeping or otherwise–clothes are an unnecessary encumbrance.” He smiles wickedly at her and her eyes go wide like saucers. “But for your sake Kate, I will wear my drawers. Will that suffice?” He tilts his head in contained but amused exasperation.
Lady Katharine: “I suppose so.” She acquiesces grudgingly.
Lord Rafe nods with a knowing smile. He thinks, tonight will be very interesting.
To be continued with Chapter 3
1) “Love is a Choice” story logo is a composite image comprised of:
a) Gold wedding gown (cropped to fabric of skirt) found at http://0.tqn.com/d/honeymoons/1/0/C/w/belle2.jpg
b) Oval picture frames were found at http://www.inlineovals.com/product_images/q/675/602agp__91104_zoom.jpg
c) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lord Rafe Wingate is that of Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2, picture 66 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-066.jpg
d) Image (cropped, masked, brightened, color) representing Lady Katharine Wingate is that of Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers (1995), episode 1, my cap is from BuccaneersEpi1CarlaGuginoasNanStGeorge_vlcsnap-2013-03-13-ooh09m21s203mask Mar1313GratianaLovelace
2) The history of the wedding dress and marriage customs was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_dress
3) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, flipped, color) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2 pix 100, and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-100.jpg
4) Lady Katharine Image (cropped) is Carla Gugino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers (1995), vlcsnap10m52s195 Mar1313GratianaLovelaceCap
5a) Mrs. Plunkett image is Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore in Downton Abbey (2012) series 3 epi5–vlcsnap-h20m46s61Mar1513GratianaLovelaceCapCrpBrt; thanks to my friend Kitty for suggesting this casting; for more on the feisty Mrs. Patmore, visit http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/season2_characters_patmore.html
5b) Lady Katharine in her wedding gown is a composite image of Carla Gugino (head only) as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers (1995), episode 1 vlcsnap-2013-03-12-23h23m58s139 Mar1313 GratianaLovelace Cap; and Famous Wedding Dresses on Pinterest http://media-cacheec4.pinterest.com/192x/28/d8/83/28d883f2db8c0dc87bbd1f212d4ce053.jpg
6) Image of Hunting Lodge at Castle Leslie Estate in Glaslough, Ireland (image manip for symmetry of background) was found at
7) Bed chamber image (cropped, brightened, sharpened) from The Buccaneers (1995), episode 4 vlcsnap-10h02m10s187Mar1413GratianaLovelaceCap
Nota Bene: A wiki link for Regency novel themes is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regency_romance