“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 3-4: Pillow Talk and Morning Cuddles, March 18, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #381)
[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 Recap from the previous installment: Lord Rafe Wingate married Lady Katharine Southwick this fine Spring Day. Not long after they entered their wedding night bed chamber, he fell asleep from too much alcohol at the reception–and she bolted. But, he found her at their estate’s retired cook’s cottage. Lord Rafe convinced Lady Katharine to return with him to the hunting lodge on his parents’ estate, Dearing Manor in Warwick, England. But when faced with a wedding night in their bed chamber [(2) right], the 18 year old Lady Katharine was skittish to the point of a panic attack about the whole being married and the marriage consummation yet to happen. So, Lord Rafe agreed to a truce for the night to calm and soothe her–he will not touch her to claim his husbandly rights, for now. And since Lady Katharine feels that the nightgown her Grandmere gave her to wear is only suitable for a wedding night, Lord Rafe agreed to lend her his night shirt. However, navigating these logistics of their sleeping arrangements is now upon them.
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 3: Pillow Talk
Lord Rafe: “Good! Now that we have that settled–no lovemaking tonight–…” He shakes his head in bemused wonder and she winces. “… Kate, let me find my night shirt for you and help you into it.” He smiles broadly. Yes, he muses, his marriage–not even 8 hours old–has turned out to be quite unpredictable, he smiles ruefully.
Lady Katharine: Still uncertain about her husband’s promise to not touch her, she asks. “And will you abide by our agreement to just sleep, my Lord?” She returns to the formal to remind him to keep his distance.
Lord Rafe: “My name is Rafe, my dear Kate. And yes, on my honor, I promise not to touch you tonight–however much it pains me to make that vow.” His hand is on his chest–and his other hand is at his side, without his fingers crossed behind his back.
Lady Katharine: Steeling herself for the inevitable, she stands. “Very well.”
Lord Rafe: He stands. “I will get you my night shirt.” He moves toward his side of the bed where his valise sits on a chest. Opening it, he removes the garment and hands it to her. She nods in accepting the voluminous amount of material that will keep her well covered. “Now what assistance do you require in getting undressed?” He tries valiantly not to smile eagerly, but fails. Without a maid to attend to her at this late hour, Lady Katharine will have to rely on her husband to assist her with her garments–to her chagrin.
Lady Katharine: Blushing again, she says. “Just the small buttons at the back of my wedding gown bodice, if you please?” She turns her back to him. Lady Katharine tries to remember that Lord Rafe is her husband and she is not doing anything wrong by permitting him to undo her buttons for her. Still … she wonders if her Papa ever assisted her mother with her buttons? Her Papa is an agreeable fellow and would no doubt help her Mama with this task. But given her Mama’s feelings about marital intimacies, Lady Katharine thinks, maybe not. Hmmm.
Lord Rafe: Being well acquainted with assisting ladies out of their garments due to his previous rakish lover behavior, he deftly dispatches the tiny buttons that run down the back of his wife’s gown with expedient alacrity. “There now! And what about your corset?” He asks as he hungrily gazes [(3) right] upon her exposed upper back. “Surely you need some help in loosening the laces.” He fingers the bow tied at the bottom of the laces at her lower back as he unconsciously licks his lips.
Lady Katharine: “No need.” She states primly as she moves away from him toward the ladies dressing table near the screen.
Lord Rafe: Gently grasping her arm to stay her moving away from him, he suggests caringly. “Kate, You cannot sleep in your corset. You will be most uncomfortable.” He looks at her askance at her seeming wish to put unnecessary propriety above comfort.
Lady Katharine: Holding her dress bodice on her front, even as the back is open and wanting to fall off of her arms, she says to him without turning around. “My corset has hooks in the front that I need to merely undo to be free of it.” [(4) corset busks]
Lady Katharine walks behind the screen with as much dignity as she can muster. She changes quickly–peeling off her wedding gown revealing her corset and petticoats [(5) right]–then removing those, but keeping her drawers and chemise on underneath her husband’s large night shirt. She thinks that three people could fit inside it.
Lord Rafe also changes quickly in their bed chamber and he peels his clothes off down to his bare chest over his drawers. He is a fine figure of a man–tall, broad shouldered, muscular, with a crop of unruly loose brown curls that tickle the back of his neck. He waits patiently by their bedside.
Finally, his wife appears. She carries her wedding gown skirt and bodice before her–intent upon laying it on the sette so it does not wrinkle.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He cannot help his laughter at the comical sight she presents. “I am sorry to laugh. But you are swallowed up by my night shirt, Kate!”
Lady Katharine: Carefully laying her wedding dress over the sette, she blushes–and averts her eyes from seeing his pleasingly muscular bare chest. “I fear that even you would find this garment over large.” She blows at the lace ruffle at the collar to move it away from her mouth.
Lord Rafe: “That lace is overpowering you. Here, let me remove it for you.” He reaches out his hands to her.
Lady Katharine: Shrinking back from his grasp. “No! Do not rip it off! The lace is fine and might be used elsewhere. I will simply untie it.” She does that and she finds relief from the lace. But in doing so, she also reveals her long slender neck to his gaze.
Lord Rafe cannot help being desirous of his wife–even if she is wearing a tablecloth of a nightshirt. Tonight’s chaste sleeping arrangements will be a trial for him, more so than for her, he fears. Though he cannot make out her womanly form in his night shirt, he remembers the vision of her silk drawers that he had earlier. And he sees their below the knee ruffles tantalizingly peeking out below the hem of his night shirt.
Lord Rafe: Regaining his composure, he asks. “Will you take your rest, Kate, and get into our bed?” He gestures to what he presumes will be her side of the bed as he walks about the room dousing the candles.
Lady Katharine: “You promise not to touch me?” She asks hesitantly again.
He thinks that she is beginning to sound like a parrot. If patience is a virtue, Lord Rafe is striving mightily to come to grips with its most exasperating element–that of actually being patient.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, yes. I promise.” He nods wearily with a small smile. He then slides into the left side of the bed, and places the bed covers up to his waist, but leaves his chest and stomach exposed.
Lady Katharine wincingly looks at her side of the bed. Then she slowly lifts the sheet and blanket and slides into bed–remaining as close to the edge of the mattress as she can without falling out of bed entirely. This leaves an arm’s length expanse of bed between them. She covers herself up to her neck with the sheet and blanket then closes her eyes. However, she realizes that there is one candle left still burning–on his night stand.
Lady Katharine: She turns to her right to look at her husband. “Will you not extinguish the candle, My Lord?”
Lord Rafe: “Certainly.” He smiles. “And my name is Rafe, Kate.” Now Lord Rafe thinks that he is becoming the parrot. Then he turns toward the candle and snuffs it out–exposing his muscular bare back to her in the process. He returns to lying on his back with his bare chest and stomach exposed.
Lady Katharine: “Are you not chilled? Rafe?” She bites her lower lip and closes her eyes so she is not looking at his bare chest and stomach–his are the first she has ever seen. And his bare form unsettles her. She does not know why.
Lord Rafe hopes that his muscular masculine physique might be pleasing to his wife. But since Lady Katharine has never seen a man bare chested, she can possibly be excused for not fully appreciating her husband’s fine form–having nothing to compare his chest to. Though, were she to admit it to herself, Lady Katharine does not find her husband’s bare chest and muscular arms unpleasing.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhhh!” She exhales loudly, as if her pent up anxiety needs its release.
Lord Rafe: Turning onto his right side and propping his head on his hand, he asks her politely. “Are you comfortable, Kate? I mean, with the mattress, not wearing my nightshirt.” He smiles.
Lady Katharine: She feels him move in the bed, but she does not know what he is doing. However the warmth emanating from his body to her body makes her think that he is near. Keeping her eyes scrunched closed, she replies quickly–hoping to squelch further bed conversation. “Yes, I am fine. Thank you. Good night.”
Lord Rafe: “What? Is that it?” He smiles cajolingly–though she still has her eyes closed. “I am not at all sleepy.”
Lady Katharine: “You were earlier.” She reminds him challengingly about when she bolted.
Lord Rafe: “Well! Let’s just say that my nap earlier–and my going out into the cool night air to retrieve you–refreshed me.”
Lady Katharine: “Hmm.” She hopes that if she replies minimally, he will take the hint–and go to sleep.
Not a chance.
Lord Rafe: “Would you like to talk a bit more, Kate?”
Lady Katharine: She keeps her eyes closed. “Not particularly. I find that if I focus on sleeping, it eventually happens.” She purses her lips. Which of course, draw Lord Rafe’s attention to them.
Lord Rafe: He sighs. “Hhhhh! That is a rare skill. Sleep eludes me most nights.” However, he thinks that he always sleeps better when he has a companion in his bed. There is something about sharing bed space after sharing love that is wholly comforting and reassuring. Of course, a strong self possessed man such as he would never actually express such a sentiment, however much it is true for him.
Lady Katharine: “Perhaps something weighs on your conscience, Rafe.” She scrunches up her nose with this verbal jab.
Lord Rafe: “Not I. I have done nothing to be ashamed of–nor that I regret.”
Lady Katharine: She opens her eyes and turns her head to him–now seeing him facing her and peering at her. “Oh!”
Lord Rafe: “You were going to reply to me?” He smiles affably.
Lady Katharine: “What about all the women you are rumored to have dallied with?”
Lord Rafe: “My dear, I never dallied. But it depends. What have you heard?” He asks her, while smiling mischievously.
Lady Katharine: “Just that that the frequency and constancy of your conquests can be marked by the waxing and waning of each moon.”
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter causing their bed to shake. “Oh Kate! That is a good one. I had not heard that one yet.”
Lady Katharine: “Do you deny that you are …” She does not quite know how to describe him?
Lord Rafe: “A rake?” He raises his eyebrows up and down saucily. “My dear Kate, rumors are just that. Though I have delighted in my acquaintanceship with several ladies over the years–and given them delights–I would be quite sapped of strength were I to seek, find, court, and ravish a new lady friend every month of every year!”
Lady Katharine: “Ah! Now we come to your real reason for marrying me–to conserve your energy.” She rolls her eyes sarcastically.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! I’ll admit that the chase was getting to be rather boring after a while. It is all so predictable. But a wife! My dear Kate, I have no idea what to expect. And I find that prospect exhilarating!”
Lady Katharine: “You do?” His reasoning eludes her and she looks at him as if he has grown horns. He has, but not in the way she thinks.
Lord Rafe: “I do.” He nods affirmatively.
Lady Katharine: “Even a wife who will not lie with you?” She pulls the covers up to her neck even closer.
Lord Rafe: “Well! I do hope to make some progress in that regard.” Lady Katharine flinches. He puts his hand up to stay her reaction. “Eventually, but not tonight. Set your mind at ease. I promised not to touch you tonight, and I will honor my pledge.
Lady Katharine: “And what of future children? If we are to … have them, … then we must …” She closes her eyes and turns her head away from him as she blushes in embarrassment.
Watching her maidenly modesty unfold like a delicate flower, he finds her quite charming–and refreshing. The ladies of Lord Rafe’s previous acquaintance had all been well seasoned, still blooming but not in their very first bloom like Lady Katharine is.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, we must. But I trust that by the time you permit me access to your person for our marital intimacies that the loving bond we share will ease your mind and you will find our unions pleasing.” He smiles, even though she is not looking at him. Lord Rafe has enough cheerful disposition at the prospect of their union for the two of them put together–which is his hope.
Lady Katharine: Then she turns to look at him and opens her eyes. “So am I given to understand that you do not have any children already?” She asks rather forthrightly if he has any bastard children.
Lord Rafe: “I am childless–as far as I know.” He says blithely–his spirit free of encumbrances. “But I am a doting uncle to a delightful boy and girl of five and three belonging to my sister, Louisa. They have quite wrapped their little fingers around my heart.” He sheepishly shrugs his shoulder. “I was doomed to enter the matrimonial state almost as soon as I held them in my arms when they were babes.” Then his voice becomes even more heartfelt as he whispers leaning in to her again. “When we have our first child–be it a boy or a girl–I know that I will be a completely lost man, because family means everything to me.”
Lady Katharine: Surprise mixed with understanding shows on her face. “Babies and children are so dear. I just hope that I will be a good mother to our children.” She thinks that she will do a few things differently than her dear Mama–especially not instilling fear of the unknown in her children.
And without another thought of protest in her mind, Lady Katharine’s statement unconsciously bespeaks her acceptance of her marriage to Lord Rafe. Lord Rafe’s mind gives an inner cheer for crossing one hurdle in winning over his wife.
Lord Rafe: “I am sure that you will be a wonderful mother.” His voice is tinged with tenderness at the thought. “I have been told by experienced parents that children are a blessing and that they just need firm but loving guidance as they grow and mature. At least, that is the example of my own dear parents.” He smiles.
Lady Katharine: Liking more and more what she hears from Lord Rafe about his own thoughts and feelings has settled a calm over Lady Katharine about her marriage to him. He does not seem so bad after all. But the hour is late, and her fatigue from gallivanting about the countryside on foot shows as she yawns. “Hhhhh!” She covers her mouth quickly in mortification.
Lord Rafe: Smiling mischeviously, he asks. “Do I bore you, my Kate?”
Lady Katharine: “I am sorry. I am just so very tired.” She closes her eyes in true exhaustion–both emotional and physical.
Lord Rafe: “Then let us sleep, my Kate–‘perchance to dream’”[(7) from Hamlet]. He lifts her hand to his lips and kisses it. Then he lies back down on his back and pulls the covers up to cover his chest more–because the room is chilly–and he closes his eyes.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine eventually fall asleep–contented in their growing familiarity with each other. Perhaps a new day will bring new possibilities–and even greater understanding and sympathy for each other.
To be continued with Chapter 4
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 4 (PG-13): Morning Cuddles Become Electric
Although Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine had each risen once in the night out of necessity–and for Lord Rafe to also stir up the coals in the fire place–they quickly settled back into a pattern of individual restful slumbering separately in the same bed. But with the chill of the room becoming more pronounced as the fire waned, it was only natural that their sleeping bodies gravitated to warmth–by cuddling up with each other. The soft cream linen sheets and burgundy velvet blanket coverlet adding to their comfort.
Lord Rafe slowly awakens this first the morning after their wedding to find his wife lying on her right side clinging to him, even as his own arm encloses her in his warm embrace. He smiles. This is just how he wishes his mornings to begin–with he and his wife lying in tender solicitude with each other.
Not wanting to break the spell of their togetherness, Lord Rafe puts his other arm around his wife Lady Katharine, kisses her forehead, and continues to doze in a half sleep half awake state. Lady Katharine wriggles in her sleep to nestle her face closer into his neck, even as she clasps him to her more tightly with her arm around his middle. He smiles with his eyes closed, but he does not make advances–except to softly kiss her forehead and to gather her closer to him as they doze.
Slowly Lady Katharine begins to become aware of her surroundings–her immediate surroundings, of her husband’s bare chest, arms, and neck. At first, she thinks this is rather pleasant, comforting, and certainly warm–thinking that these intimacies are merely a dream, as she has often girlishly had but never admitted to. Then she remembers their agreement last night–to delay consummating their marriage until such time that she did not feel an all consuming fear about what will happen in their lovemaking, whatever that is.
She wonders how she came to be in his arms and if she can extricate herself without him knowing it. It will be tricky since he is firmly but gently holding on to her. She hears her husband’s measured breathing and she is not sure if he is asleep, dozing, or awake and feigning slumber. She lifts her arm off of his middle–instantly feeling the lack of warmth to her arm that his body provides. She is still wearing his over large night shirt over her silk under clothes–so there is a barrier of sorts directly between their bodies. But with her body lying on her side and molded up against his body, she can feel his tautly muscular body.
His arm is still around her back and he has not stirred. So Lady Katharine now moves her leg–which had somehow become bent and lying over her husband’s leg at his knee. Upon this movement, he sighs–but keeps his eyes closed. He hopes that she will not want to move further away from him.
Lord Rafe: “Hhhhhh!”
Lady Katharine startles at her husband’s moan, but she still thinks he that he might be asleep.
How to linger in their caring intimate repose is uppermost on Lord Rafe’s mind. However he realizes that he must relent if he is to woo her. But his form of relenting might be considered unconventional as he turns onto his left side to face her–still with his eyes closed in supposed slumber–and he gathers her flush against him with both of his arms tenderly about her and he kisses her forehead again, while pretending to be doing this in his sleep.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhhh!” Now it is her turn to sigh as she finds herself gently molded to her husband’s body–and not entirely unpleasantly so, she thinks. Though when he pulls her to him, she realizes that he is pressing against her body in such a way that she would not have thought likely when she briefly saw him in his drawers last night. Hmm.
Lord Rafe begins to stroke his wife’s back, even as he gently kisses her eyes, and cheeks, and lips, and neck–still with his eyes closed as if he were asleep. She is not resisting his tender kisses and caresses, but neither is she participating with his tender entreaties.
Lord Rafe: “Hmmm.” He moans deeply in sensual arousal.
Even with the multiple layers of fabric between them, Lord Rafe can feel Lady Katharine’s shape and he delights in her womanly contours. He moves his hands to cradle her head and he gently brushes his lips against her lips–once, twice, thrice–before he presses his lips more firmly to hers. For an instant, Lady Katharine becomes swept away with the tenderness her husband is showing her.
Then one of his hands removes itself from cradling her head, travels down the length of her body, dips underneath the nightshirt, and moves to caress her bare back and her body encased in its silken chemise–even as his kisses deepen with briefly parting her lips as the tip of his tongue outlines her lips, but goes no further. Then he trails kisses along her creamy neck. His need for her is becoming greater with each moment they spend together in their embraces. Lord Rafe is a moment away from rolling his lovely wife onto her back and deepening their intimacies–perhaps even consummating their marriage–when Lady Katharine realizes what they are doing.
Lady Katharine: “No!” She wails and pushes against him. “You promised.” She whines.
Lord Rafe stills his kisses and caresses of his wife as he opens his eyes and looks tenderly into Lady Katharine’s tearful hazel eyes. Lying back a bit and loosening his grasp of her stiffening form, he slowly nods at her. Technically, she touched him first–a fine distinction given her wariness of marital intimacies last night. And he does not want to make her feel uncomfortable. She is a skittish colt and he hopes that his gentleness, his kindness, and his patience will bring her around to welcoming his loving attentions.
Lord Rafe: “Shh. Shh. It is alright, Kate. We will stop.” He caresses her face. “I am sorry, my dear. I mistook you lying in my arms to mean that you welcomed my loving attentions.”
Lady Katharine: Covering her face with her hands in shame and mortification, she whimpers. “I thought I could trust you–that … that you wouldn’t take advantage of me.” She cries, but not fully–more of a petulant sniffle, uncertain as to her own awakening feelings about their tenderness together just now.
Lord Rafe: “With respect, My Lady, I did not take advantage of you. You came to my side of the bed.” He says tenderly in a hopeful gesture of conciliation between them. His eyebrow raises and his head tilts as he smiles at her hopefully.
Lady Katharine: She lifts herself up on her elbow and sees that she is indeed all the way over on his side of the bed. “Oh!” She winces in embarrassment for accusing him of something that she seems to have done. She bites her lower lip.
Lord Rafe: “There there. Do not trouble yourself about it. I daresay that the chill in the room might have been what caused you to seek me out. I was just a warm body.” He rolls his eyes bemusedly while she is not looking up at him. Never has he needed to be so patient and understanding with a woman before he bedded her. Then he realizes, that he rather likes the feeling.
Lady Katharine: “I suppose.” She bites her lower lip. Lord Rafe is becoming fond of this small gesture of hers.
LordRafe: “So Kate, might you lie back down and we will cuddle a bit as we ponder what we are going to do today?” He opens his arms invitingly.
Lady Katharine: She looks at him slightly suspiciously. “Just cuddle?” She asks shyly then averts her eyes from his. But then she has to peek a look at him again to assess the verity of his reply.
Lord Rafe: Smiling warmly at her he nods. “Just cuddle.” He waits with open arms. Then she lies back down on her right side next to him lying on his back. It is taking all of his personal control and willpower to honor his pledge just to cuddle and not take her into his arms and ravish her–as is his husbandly right. But he wants her to come willingly to him. And so he ponders crop harvest yields s to cool his ardor and dampen his arousal.
Unfortunately, they are interrupted from their intimate conversation and cuddling pose by a sharp knock on their bed chamber door.
Lord Rafe: “Enter!” He says in a commanding voice. He had earlier unbolted the door during the night.
Lady Katharine: “No!” She dives under the covers in complete mortification that someone will see her in bed cuddling next to her husband.
Lord Rafe smiles in bemusement at his wife as she huddles, hiding under the covers–seeming to be embarrassed, thinking that the dear lady must get a marriage reality check at some point. And he thinks, were she to realize the image that her form under the covers creates, she might think better of her hiding place.
Smithers/Butler: Seeing not his new mistress, but a bulge under the bed covers, he states. “I am sorry for interrupting you, My Lord. Last night, you asked me to bring your morning tea and cakes at the appointed time.” He says rather blandly. Lord Rafe’s other lady friends were never quite so modest in his presence. But then, Lady Katharine is Lord Rafe’s wife–an important distinction.
Lord Rafe: “Yes I did. Thank you Smithers. Please just set it down over in the sitting area. And might you stoke the fire and add another log? It has gotten quite chilly in here.”
Smithers/Butler: Setting down the food and tea tray, he quickly moves to the fireplace and adds a log to the dwindling fire. “Of course, My Lord. Will there be anything else?”
Lord Rafe: Peeking his head under the covers to talk to his wife, Lord Rafe asks her bemusedly. “Do you want anything else, my dear?”
Lady Katharine: Whispering so only Lord Rafe can hear. “Just to be alone and no one seeing me in bed with you.” She pleads. He nods.
Lord Rafe: Raising his head out of the covers, he says blandly to Smithers with a small smirk. “Perhaps the staff could grant us our privacy and leave us undisturbed for a few hours.” Smithers nods and proceeds to head toward the door to the hallway.
Smithers: “Yes, milord.”
Lady Katharine jabs her husband’s bare chest underneath the covers.
Lord Rafe: “Ow!” He ducks his head underneath the covers again. “Why did you do that?”
Lady Katharine: “Privacy? What must he think we are doing if you ask for that?” She looks at him wide eyed in pinkening embarrassment.
Lord Rafe: “True.” He smiles impishly. “But we still have my pudding to enjoy from Mrs. P. Ah!” He pops his head out of the covers just as Smithers reaches the door, and Lord Rafe shouts. “Smithers!”
Smithers/Butler: “Yes, Milord?” He turns to face his master.
Lord Rafe: “Lady Katharine and I will take a drive in the country later this morning to see Mrs. Plunkett around mid day.” Looking out the window at the sunny day, he suggests. “It looks fine out. So please arrange for the open gig to be ready for us.”
Smithers/Butler: “Very good, Milord.” He bows and exits the room with a decided click of the bed chamber door.
Lord Rafe: Lifting up the bed covers again, he peers impishly at his wife crouching under them and smiles mischievously. “We are alone. It is safe. You can come out now.” He says mock sarcastically, but smiling the whole time.
Lady Katharine pushes back the bed covers and sits up, her hair is tousled from being covered with a sheet and Lord Rafe thinks she looks quite charming–even though she is still wearing his over sized night shirt.
Lady Katharine: “This is not amusing, Rafe.” She shakes her head ruefully. “What must he think of us if we spend the whole of our morning in our bedroom … alone … together?” Her embarrassment at being thought of as a wife–in every sense of that state–causes her to blush crimson across her face as she bites her lower lip.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He delights in her sweet modesty as he draws her close to him again for a cuddle as they both sit up in bed. “My dear Kate, our servants will merely think that we are enjoying our wedding trip–despite us not traveling anywhere–when restfulness and private time together are the norm.”
Lady Katharine: She winces at his description of their wedded status. “But we have not … we are not … “ She stops, not being able to think of a delicate way to describe their lack of marital coupling.
Lord Rafe: “Ah! That’s right.” He snaps his fingers. “We need proof of our wedding night consummation for our marriage to be considered fully constituted in the eyes of God and of man.” [(8) consummation]
Lady Katharine: Pulling back from him a bit and holding the bed covers up to her neck, she asks. “How? We did not … constitute last night.” She looks at him winsomely with wide hazel eyes.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! No we did not.” He grins broadly and sweetly kisses her forehead on impulse.
Then Lord Rafe jumps out of bed and strides over to the teapot. He takes his half filled left over red wine glass from the night before and adds some warm tea to it. All the while, Lady Katharine watches him curiously. Then he carries the wine goblet back to their bed.
Lady Katharine: “What are you doing?”
Lord Rafe: “Creating proof that we made love last night.”
He slips his hand under his pillow and pulls out a fine linen hand towel. He lays the towel flat on the bed, about mid way down the mattress. Then he pours a bit of the wine and tea mixture over the center of the towel–the red stain spreads unevenly across the towel and a bit seeps into the sheets below it.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, you are making a mess!” She looks on in dismay, not really understanding what he is doing.
Lord Rafe: “Nay Kate! I am consummating our marriage in spirit until such time that we consummate it in the flesh.” She blushes. He lifts up the linen towel and sees some reddish staining in the sheets below. “Excellent!” Then holding out his hand to her, he entreats. “Come, let us break our fast while our tea is still hot.”
Lady Katharine: She takes his hand and they walk over to the sitting area–her thoughts churning the whole way. Then she gracefully sits on the sette and looks up at him. “But Rafe, should not I seem different to others if I am no longer … I mean, if we had …” Again, Lady Katharine finds herself quite at a loss for words–which Lord Rafe finds completely adorable.
Lord Rafe: “Ah! I take your meaning, however charmingly you dissemble at describing it. The short answer is, I would not know. I have never bedded a virgin before.”
Lady Katharine: “You have not?” She asks curiously–thinking of milk maids.
Lord Rafe: “No. My previous relationships were all with ladies who were … broken in.” He smiles a bit wickedly. So the only virgin lovemaking experience I have is my own.” Now he has opened up a can of worms [(9) can].
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” She exclaims in astonishment. However, his admission has the result of inciting her curiosity. Lady Katharine is feign to ask him for elaboration, but she is eager for some information to aid her thoughts on the subject–and to ease her mind. “And?”
Lord Rafe: “Well!” He looks at her nonplussed. “I have not thought about my first time making love for ages.” He sees her questioning eyes and continues while he pours their tea and offering her cakes before he continues. Lady Katharine takes both and greedily noshes on her cake as he speaks. “I was just sixteen–and rather a randy young man at that.” He smiles saucily. “My parents had kept me so locked up with school and their society such that I had no access to willing women who might interest me during most of my earlier teen years.” She nods her head at his parents’ propriety. “But …” There is always a but. “… a local village fair brought people from other villages to sell their wares or to buy them. And a comely young miller’s widow was selling her delicious pastry baked goods.”
Lady Katharine: “Ah ha! So, your hungry stomach initially drew you to her?” She asks him with an impish grin as she sits gazing at him in rapt attention.
Lord Rafe: “Indeed! I had so marveled about her scones to my parents, that they invited her to teach our cooks how to make them and other pastries for a fortnight. During that time, I found even more excuses to be in the kitchen as I came to know her in the first week of her stay with us.”
Lady Katharine: “Was not Mrs. Plunkett suspicious?”
Lord Rafe: “No. Because I always ate something–and I was usually in the kitchen all the time. Anyway, while chatting with the lady during her first week we developed a friendly rapport. I learned that her much older husband had died recently in their first year of their marriage, before they could have any children. So, her brother-in-law worked the mill while she made and sold baked goods from the flour they milled.” He says blithely. “She must have sensed my yearnings for her because she contrived to be on a picnic in a secluded spot in the woods on her afternoon off on a Saturday. That is where I found her, waiting for me.”
Lady Katharine: Listening breathlessly agog, she asks. “What happened?” Lord Rafe’s storytelling about his first love is better than the few novels she has been allowed to read. And then, mostly Jane Austen books–which Lady Katharine eagerly devours–are considered appropriate to be read by ladies of refinement, such as herself.
Lord Rafe: Now Lord Rafe blushes. “Well, we became lovers. And as you might imagine, I was a bit awkward with our first coupling–my not really knowing what to do, and with my being quite over eager.” He smiles sheepishly. Lady Katharine nods absentmindedly. That is partially her worry about herself as well, not knowing what to do or to expect. “But she was patient and encouraging. So by the time we loved again after our picnic lunch that day, I had gotten the hang of it.” He smiles remembering his first love nostalgically. “We made love all afternoon long and then every chance we could during the second week of her stay. It was a lovely and loving time in my life.” His eyes mist over.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine reaches over and squeezes his hand. “Were you in love?”
Lord Rafe: “I suppose I was.” He admits unselfconsciously. “Or maybe, I was in love, with love. But when her stay with us ended at the close of her two weeks, we parted on friendly terms. I have not seen her in the twelve years since–she never came back for other village fairs when I was home from university in the Summers. And I did not know which village she came from for me to seek her out.” He adds wincingly–since one should know something about one’s bed mates, such as where they live.
Lady Katharine: “What was her name?” She asks sweetly.
Lord Rafe: He tenderly gazes at her for a moment. “Fanny. Her name was Fanny Miller.”
Lady Katharine: “I understand now.” She smiles knowingly.
Lord Rafe: “Oh? What do you understand.” He smiles warmly.
Lady Katharine: “Why you are so patient with me.” She smiles sweetly at him in grateful thanks for his kind understanding.
Lord Rafe: Lifting her hand to his lips and kissing it. “Yes my dear.”
They go on to have a yummy breakfast, finding an ease in chatting with each other now that their unfamiliarity with each other is ebbing.
To be continued with Chapter 5
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 Guigino as Nan St. George in The Buccaneers (1995), episode 1, my cap is from BuccaneersEpi1CarlaGuiginoasNanStGeorge_vlcsnap-2013-03-13-ooh09m21s203mask Mar1313GratianaLovelace
2) Bed chamber image (cropped, brightened, sharpened) from The Buccaneers (1995), episode 4 vlcsnap-10h02m10s187Mar1413GratianaLovelaceCap
3) Lord Rafe Wingate image (cropped, brightened, sharpened, color) is Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North & South (2004) episode 2 pix 114, and was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/ns2-114.jpg
4) The history of corsets—including front hook or buttoned fastener busk openings–was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corset
5) Lady Katharine Image (cropped, brightened, color) is Carla Gugino as Duchess Nan in The Buccaneers 1995 vlcsnap-09h58m49s244Mar1413GratianaLovelaceCap
6) Lord Rafe Wingate Image (cropped, brightened, sharpened, flipped) is Richard Armitage as Paul Andrews in Between the Sheets 2003 was found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/BTS/BTS/album/slides/BTS-04.jpg
7) “To sleep, perchance to dream” is from Hamlet’s soliloquy “To be or not to be” in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_be,_or_not_to_be
8) Wedding night marriage consummation customs were found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consummation
9) Though the idiom “can of worms” might not have existed in the 1820’s – 1830’s, the tin can was patented in 1810. Information was found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tin_can
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 0-2 is: