“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 17 (R): Saturday Morning Brings the Promise of New Beginnings, April 22, 2013 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #402)
[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, Emilie Francois as Anna, Mark Strong as Sir Collin MacGregor, Alan Bates as Lord Charles Wingate, and Christian Bale as Stuart MacGregor, Daniel Day-Lewis as Sir Antony Southwick, Michelle Pfeiffer as Lady Charmaine Southwick, Catherine Deneuve as Lady Esmѐ Sinclair, 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: Lady Charmaine awakened Friday afternoon from her stroke induced unconsciousness to learn that she has lost the memory of the past eight years. Lady Charmaine loves her husband and she does not recognize her now grown daughter Kathy. And Sir Antony realizes that his wife’s memory loss has wiped out the eight years of marital strife that they have experienced. With some negotiation between Lady Charmaine’s Mama, Lady Esmѐ, and Lady Charmaine’s husband, Sir Antony, it is Sir Antony who spends the night by his wife’s side to tend to her needs. She also insisted that he sleep under the covers with her so she may have more restful sleep in his loving arms. Sir Antony is overjoyed to have his wife back and loving him. He just worries how long her loving feelings for him will last–especially if she regains her memory?
“Love is a Choice”, Ch. 17 (R): Saturday Morning Brings the Promise of New Beginnings
After a comfortable and restful night sleeping in her husband’s loving arms, Lady Charmaine begins to awaken around 7 o’clock Saturday morning–just twenty-four hours after her stroke. She is still a little disoriented and weak due to the stroke and her memory loss. But her health is on the mend. She turns to gaze upon her husband lying next to her in bed, enveloping her in his loving embrace as he sleeps. Her good right arm is bent up toward her face, but her hand lies against his chest–stroking it. Sir Antony breathes deeply and contentedly.
Lady Charmaine: Lady Charmaine moves her head a mere inch to her right on the pillow, toward Sir Antony’s face on the pillow. And she kisses her husband’s lips. “Hhhhhh!”
Sir Antony: Sir Antony tenderly but gently kisses his wife back. “Hmmm.” His eyes are still closed.
Lady Charmaine: She whispers. “Are you awake?” She gets no reply, but his eyebrow twitches in response. Lady Charmaine grins impishly. Then she twines her finger around one of Sir Antony’s sparse hairs on his bare chest–and she yanks his chest hairs playfully.
Lady Charmaine: “I thought so. You faker! Ha ha ha! How long have you been awake?” Lady Charmaine [(2) right] challenges her husband impishly.
Sir Antony: “Ha ha ha ha ha! About a quarter hour before you.” Sir Antony admits with a sheepish tilt of his head as he smiles broadly at her.”
Lady Charmaine: “My! Are you not the patient lover these days.” Sir Antony startles a bit–and she notices. “What? Have we stopped making love in the morning in our dotage?” She jests amusingly–with a cute pout of her lips. Lady Charmaine was a much loved wife–and she still is in her mind, due to her memory loss.
Sir Antony: “Kkhhh!” He coughs and blushes. Because, of course, with their being estranged he and his wife have not made love for eight years. “Well …” Sir Antony also dreads telling Lady Charmaine the true nature of their relationship before her stroke.
Lady Charmaine: Then Lady Charmaine strokes her right hand down Sir Antony’s muscular chest. “Hmm. Very nice Antony.” She smiles saucily. “I do not remember you being so muscular.”
Sir Antony: “Hhh!” Sir Antony gasps as his wife’s loving touch–that has been so long denied him–begins to elicit a loving response from his body. He strains to stay composed–and it shows in Sir Antony’s voice and it shows in his heatedly lustful gaze [(3) right] at his wife. “I exercise a lot. It keeps my mind occupied.” What else is a virile man to do but exercise in an attempt to exhaust himself when his wife denies him her loving attentions? He would not take a lover during their estrangement because he did not want to make true what he was falsely accused of. And in his secret heart of hearts, Sir Antony always hoped that he and Lady Charmaine would reconcile.
Lady Charmaine: Her right arm now fully extended at her side, she finds her husband’s body’s response. “Occupied?” She queries, before becoming quite distracted, herself. It seems that her stroke has–at least temporarily–lessened Lady Charmaine’s impulse control. So she acts a split second more readily playfully loving than she had before their estrangement. “Oh my! I think something else is bigger, too.”
Sir Antony: “KKHH!” Sir Antony coughs nervously with his wife caressing him so intimately through his drawers. “Hhhhhh!” He shudders with pleasures so long denied him. “Charmaine, you must stop doing that.” He pleads–though he really does not want her to stop.
Lady Charmaine: “Somehow, I do not believe you want that.” She smiles as she notes that his arousal increases–her wifely attentions also causing a sensual response in her.
Sir Antony: But Sir Antony reluctantly stays his wife’s hand from caressing him further–and he brings her hand out from underneath the bedcovers. She looks at him questioningly. It is now Sir Antony’s moment of truth. “Charmaine, my Love, even if your current state of health were not so delicate, we would still need to discuss our relationship before we could resume our lovemaking.”
Lady Charmaine: “Resume?” She looks at him pointedly. He nods his head slowly at her. Then she asks him while shyly blushing for being so shamelessly sensuous with him just now. “We nave not made love … recently?” She looks at him with concern.
Sir Antony: “Sadly, that is true.” He says with resignation as he still holds her within his loving arms. But he fears that he is within moments of having to separate from his wife all over again–because she will reject him when she remembers their estrangement–and why they were estranged.
Lady Charmaine: “How long has it been?” Sir Antony hesitates. “A few days?” Sir Antony shakes his head at her sadly. “Surely not weeks? Why I have never known you to stay away from me for more than a week–and then only when it is my time of the month.” Still Sir Antony says nothing as he gazes at her in poignant sadness. “Antony, you are scaring me. How long has it been since we made love?”
Sir Antony: Tears are brimming in Sir Antony’s eyes as he searches Lady Charmaine’s eyes–wanting to see her love for him for at least a few moments longer, until he must tell her what she asks of him. But he can delay no longer. He feels that it is the only honorable thing for him to do–to tell her the truth about their relationship. “It has been eight years.”
Lady Charmaine: “Eight? Years?” She looks at him incredulously. “You cannot be serious?”
Sir Antony: “I am.” He nods solemnly.
Lady Charmaine: “But why?” She wants answers. They are, correction, they were a very loving couple in her mind. “Did you … no longer find me … attractive as I became older?” She asks haltingly and lowers her eyes.
Sir Antony: “God no! Charmaine, you are the love of my life. I want to make love with you at this very moment–even though I know that you are still recovering from your stroke and we should wait. I ache for you and the closeness that we once shared.” He kisses her tenderly as they embrace lovingly for several minutes–erasing all doubt in her mind that she is not desired.
Lady Charmaine: After they pull back from kissing each other, she caresses his face. “But then I do not understand. What happened?”
Sir Antony: “That is a question that I have been asking myself for eight long years.” He looks at her sorrowfully. Then he decides to relate the full facts to her, because his honor will not allow him to take advantage of her current amnesia to benefit him–wanting her to love him. “Do you remember Billy Montgrieve?”
Lady Charmaine: “Yes, a more selfish man than he I have yet to find.” She nods. “But what has he to do with us?”
Sir Antony: “I will tell you if you will be patient, my love.” He gives her a wry smile.
Lady Charmaine: “But patience is not one of my virtues. Can you just give me the short version?” She pleads impishly.
Sir Antony: “Yes.” Then he plows ahead, barely stopping to breath. “Eight years ago, Lord Montgrieve wanted to run for parliament and approached several of us about backing him. We declined. Lady Montgrieve thought that I was the ring leader in these refusals–though, I was not. So she spread a false rumor that I had had an affair with Lady Susan Harriott and that I had fathered her son David ten years before. You might recall that their son David Harriott is just six months younger than our Kathy.”
Lady Charmaine: She rolls her eyes at him bemusedly. “Antony, I do not keep track of other people’s children’s births. But what of it?” She looks at him in confusion.
Sir Antony: “Lady Montgrieve implied eight years ago that when you were in the final stages of your pregnancy with our Kathy eighteen years ago, that I strayed. Of course I did not! I might have glanced in Lady Harriot’s direction once. But I instantly corrected myself. I doubt that she even knows what I look like to pick me out in a crowd.” He says vehemently. “But there was a scandal eight years ago because Lady Montgrieve was so viciously subtle about her insinuations–often getting others to propagate her baseless rumors.”
Lady Charmaine: “That is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard!” She shakes her head in astonishment. “How could anyone believe that you would stray? We are devoted to each other.” She looks up at him imploringly, and she now sees the pain in his eyes. “Antony, what is wrong?” She asks caringly.
Sir Antony: Rubbing her hand that he is holding, Sir Antony casts his eyes to the side–for he cannot bear to look into his wife’s eyes–for fear of seeing her rejection of him all over again. “I do not know why, but you believed the rumors. And you threw me out of your bed and ultimately your life. We have been estranged for these past eight years–with me mostly living at my club when we are in Town and escorting you only when you deigned to allow me to do so, such as at Kathy’s wedding. I have tried to explain time and again to you over the years that I did not stray, but you never wanted to listen to me. Then, the other night that you became ill, we had had a terrible row earlier that night–dredging it up all over again–because you did not like my marrying Kathy to Lord Rafe.”
Lady Charmaine: “Oh? Why would I object? I just assumed that theirs is a love match. They seem very attentive to each other–as are we. Or, as I remember us being.” She restates herself, given what her husband has just told her.
Lady Charmaine lays flat against her pillow, looking off to her left distractedly–away from Sir Antony–as she contemplates what he has told her. Sir Antony interprets Lady Charmaine’s silence as her remembering what he just related to her. And he fears that she wants nothing to do with him again. He starts to disentangle himself from embracing his wife, his hopes dashed again.
Feeling and seeing her husband move away from her–which helps to focus her thoughts more clearly–Lady Charmaine tugs at his chest hairs again.
Sir Antony: “Ow! Why did you do that?” He looks at his wife questioningly.
Lady Charmaine: “Antony, you do not think, that I am going to let you leave me a second time, do you?” She gazes up at him with determination. Then with her good right arm, she wraps it around his neck and pulls him toward her and she kisses him adoringly.
Sir Antony: Wrapping his arms around his beloved wife, he exclaims gleefully. “Charmaine! Ha ha ha ha ha! Do you forgive me for thinking even a fleeting instant about another woman eighteen years ago?”
Lady Charmaine: “Of course!” Then she turns somber. “Oh Antony, can you forgive me for stupidly believing such foolish nonsense and wreaking havoc with our lives?” She asks him imploringly.
Sir Antony: “Yes beloved.” He sighs. “I have never stopped loving you, Charmaine. I have never stopped hoping that we would find our way back to each other again.”
Lady Charmaine: “Kiss me, Antony. Kiss away our eight years of loneliness–because we now have a new beginning with each other.”
Sir Antony leans down and kisses and caresses his wife thoroughly. And though Lady Charmaine is still recovering from her recent stroke–such that jostling or much movement at all are ill advised at this time–they still manage to share their love with each other in such a way as to end their eight year dry spell from marital intimacy. Then they both fall contentedly asleep for another hour, lying naked in each others’ loving arms.
Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine also awaken this Saturday morning and they make love–a healing balm of mutual love and comfort that they share with each other–before breakfasting a deux in the bed chamber again. Lady Esme also has breakfast in her bed chamber. The family plans to join together in Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber around 9 o’clock when the doctor returns to assess his patient.
However, when Lady Charmaine’s ladies maid Miss Morgan knocks softly and then enters her mistress’ bed chamber this morning carrying her breakfast tray as usual, she sees an unusual image of bare shoulders peeping out of the bed covers–that of Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony lying naked, sleeping in a lovers’ embrace. Morgan starts to back out of the bedroom quietly, but she has been found out.
Sir Antony: Calling from his wife’s bed, he asks. “Is that breakfast?” He has smelled it rather than heard the servant come into the room.
Miss Morgan: Pinkening in embarrassment, she says stoically. “Yes, for my Lady Charmaine.”
Lady Charmaine: “Thank you, Morgan. Just set the tray down on the low table in front of the sette.” Morgan does that. “Then please go and fetch a breakfast tray for Sir Antony with his usual favorites and return here with it.” She says breezily. Though Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony usually try to don dressing gowns before their servants enter their shared bed chamber in the morning–or bolt the door the night before to insure their privacy–they had done neither this morning.
Miss Morgan: “Yes my lady.” She curtsies and leaves the bed chamber.
Sir Antony: He stands up naked from the bed–and scratches his bum. “Shall I bring the tray to you, Charmaine? Or do you want to sit and eat at the table?”
Lady Charmaine: “Let’s eat at the table. But first could you carry me to the bathroom so I may freshen up before putting on my dressing gown?” She asks him pleasantly.
Sir Antony: “Certainly, my love.” He strides around their bed–still naked–and throws back the covers from his wife’s body–drinking in her nakedness like a hungry man. “God! You are so beautiful, my love!”
Lady Charmaine: “And you are so handsome, my Love.” She gazes appreciatively at his muscular arms, chest, and legs in their naked form. “But we have to at least put on our dressing gowns before Morgan returns or family turns up.” She looks at him impishly.
Sir Antony: He nods wryly. “Especially before everyone wants to greet you to see how you are doing.” He lifts her up into his arms and begins to carry her to the adjoining bathing room.
Lady Charmaine: “And what is your assessment on my condition, husband?” She asks coquettishly as she strokes his chest hairs, gently twining them around her fingers–no pulling this time.
Sir Antony: “You are perfect!” He sighs, then kisses her soundly.
Then Sir Antony helps Lady Charmaine with her freshening up–and he does so for himself as well, including a shave–before they return to her bed chamber to begin munching on their breakfasts.
Meanwhile, as Miss Morgan walks toward Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber now carrying Sir Antony’s breakfast tray, she is stopped by Lady Katherine just exiting her bed chamber in her dressing gown over her night gown.
Lady Katharine: “Oh Miss Morgan, are Mama and Papa awake?”
Miss Morgan: “Yes, Lady Kathy. Lady Charmaine asked me to bring Sir Antony’s breakfast tray to them as well.” She smiles benignly, hoping that she will find her mistress and master clothed when she returns. And she blanches.
Lady Katharine: “You have an odd look on your face. Is my Mama feeling well this morning?” She asks in concern.
Miss Morgan: “Lady Charmaine seemed to be in good spirits when I gave her her own breakfast tray several minutes ago.”
Lady Katharine: “I am so glad! I will go to see her briefly now before I get dressed.” She starts to walk in the direction of her Mama’s bed chamber.
Miss Morgan: “Oh Lady Kathy!” She calls after her.
Lady Katharine: “Yes?” She turns back to her Mama’s ladies maid.
Miss Morgan: “Your Papa is with her.”
Lady Katharine: “Yes, he stayed with her overnight in case she needed anything.” She nods her head agreeably and turns back toward her Mama’s bed chamber.
Miss Morgan: “Perhaps I should announce you and see if they are receiving visitors yet.” She suggests helpfully.
Lady Katharine: “Since I am in my dressing gown, I doubt they will mind it if they are in their dressing gowns.” She smiles.
Miss Morgan: “Yes, but let me make sure of that for you.” She pinkens in embarrassment–loathe to breech the confidentiality of her employers’ obviously romantic morning. Lady Katharine looks at her quizzically and there is nothing for it, but to give her some information. “Your parents were still sleeping when I entered their bed chamber this morning–and they were not dressed.” Lady Katharine nods, still not understanding. Then Morgan adds delicately. “Their shoulders were … bare.”
Lady Katharine: “Oh!” Lady Katharine’s eyes widen. “Really?” She asks in astonishment–finally understanding the servant’s intimation. Lady Katharine nods and Morgan goes to deliver the breakfast tray and see if Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony are receiving visitors yet.
Lady Esmѐ: “Kathѐ, mon cher.” She and her granddaughter kiss cheeks. “Have you seen your mother yet this morning? How does she fare?”
Lady Katharine: “Bon jour, Grandmere.” She smiles. “Not yet. But Morgan was just telling me that Mama and Papa are getting ready to eat their breakfasts, together.” She adds portentously. “She is going to see if they are receiving visitors yet.”
Lady Esmѐ: She looks at her granddaughter curiously. “Oh?”
Lady Katharine: “Yes.” She smiles broadly.
The butler now walks toward them with two letters on a silver tray. Lady Esmѐ takes the letter addressed to her and opens it. Lady Katharine takes the envelope address to her husband and herself, but she does not open it.
Lady Esmѐ: Scanning the contents of the letter, she relates it to Lady Katharine. “This note is from your brother, Percival.”
Lady Katharine: “From Perce? Has he reached Town?” She asks excitedly–her also not having seen her brother in five long years.
Lady Esmѐ: “Yes.” Her eyes narrow. “Though I had offered that he stay at my home, they are staying with her family–who seem to have returned from the continent after an extended stay.”
Lady Katharine: “I do not understand, Grandmere. Who are they?” She asks quizzically.
Lady Esmѐ: “Your brother and his wife, the Lady Lucinda Harriott Southwick.” Lady Esmѐ watches her granddaughter’s reaction.
Lady Katharine: “Perce is married!?! How wonderful! I can’t wait to see him and meet his wife! Then I can introduce them to my husband, Lord Rafe!” She claps her hands with her youthful glee.
Lady Esmѐ: “I will consult with your parents then reply to Percival as to when he may visit here today.” She nods serenely, wondering how the reunion of mother and son will go.
Miss Morgan: Returning from her ladies bed chamber, she sees Lady Esmѐ speaking with Lady Kathtarine. “Lady Kathy, your parents are eating sitting up at the sette. They said they will welcome your visit at any time. Then I am to return to them in a half hour to assist Lady Charmaine in getting dressed.”
Lady Katharine: “Thank you Morgan. But first, I want to take this letter to my husband. Excuse me Grandmere.” She curtsies and turns to head to her bed chamber.
Lady Esme: “Morgan, I will visit Lady Charmaine now.”
Morgan nods and takes her to them.
Lady Esmѐ guesses by being told that her daughter and her son-in-law are eating breakfast in Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber together that Lady Charmaine is feeling better, but that she still has memory loss. Lady Esmѐ walks purposely toward her daughter’s bed chamber, Morgan knocks twice, then Lady Esmѐ enters the room.
Lady Charmaine and Sir Antony are sitting next to each other on the sette, with their hands entwined–her weak left hand with his right hand–as they eat using their other hands. Lady Esmѐ notices the enhanced closeness between her daughter and son-in-law and she is not certain if she welcomes it or not. She does not want her daughter taken advantage of in her weakened state.
Lady Charmaine: “Maman! It is lovely to see you this morning.” She smiles cordially and beckons her Mama to come to her. Sir Antony stands politely. “Have you breakfasted?”
Lady Esmѐ: Crossing the room to her daughter and kissing cheeks, she says. “I have. Bon jour, mon cher. How do you feel today?”
Lady Charmaine: “I feel well rested, Mama.” She smiles then lowers her eyes demurely, but she sneaks a look at her husband Sir Antony.
Sir Antony: Sir Antony returns his wife’s smile. Then he turns to his mother-in-law. “We are both well, Mama. Thank you for asking.” Sir Antony pointedly inserts himself into the conversation, while solidly aligning himself with his wife, Lady Charmaine. He sits back down, then he cheekily holds out a plate of grapes to Lady Esmѐ–knowing that his mother-in-law eschews foods eaten with one’s fingers. “May we offer you some fruit?”
Lady Esmѐ: “Thank you, no.” She nods politely. Then sitting in a chair near her daughter, she caresses Lady Charmaine’s face and asks. “How do you really feel this morning?”
Lady Charmaine: “Truly, Mama. I feel fine–except for the weakness in my left arm and leg. Oh and the memory loss still plagues me.” Then Lady Charmaine turns toward her husband and winks. He smiles and leans in and kisses his wife’s forehead.
Lady Esmѐ: Observing this tender scene between the formerly estranged husband and wife, she asks cautiously. “Is there anything I should know, Charmaine?” She asks clutching the letter in her hand
Lady Charmaine: “Know, Mama?” She looks at her Mama questioningly.
Sir Antony: “Lady Esmѐ, I have told Charmaine everthing.”
Lady Esmѐ: “Everything?”
Sir Antony: “Is there an echo the room? Ha ha ha!” He asks in jest.
Lady Charmaine: Poking her husband in his side, she admonishes him. “Antony, now behave.” Then she gives him a brilliant smile.
Lady Esmѐ: “So you know about the gossip, Charmaine?” Sir Antony stiffens.
Lady Charmaine: “Yes, Antony told me all about it. It sounds ludicrous! My Antony is my devoted love–then and now. Why I ever believed this silly rumor is beyond me.” Lady Charmaine shakes her head–and Lady Esmѐ blanches briefly.
Sir Antony: And Sir Antony notices his mother-in-law’s reaction, but he redirects the conversation. “I see that you have a letter in your hand, Mama. Is it news from Perce?”
Lady Charmaine: “ Oh! I long to see him. Has he reached London?”
Lady Esmѐ: “Yes. He and his wife are staying with her parents.”
Lady Charmaine: “Perce is married? To whom.”
Sir Antony: Now the color drains out of his face. “He married Lady Lucinda Harriott, my love.”
Lady Charmaine: “That wasn’t the woman you were supposed to have had an affair with was it?” She looks at her husband quizzically.
Sir Antony: “No, I believe that Lady Lucinda is her oldest child, her daughter.” He says quietly
Lady Charmaine: “And her younger brother is this David Harriott whom you supposedly fathered?”
Lady Esme startles at her daughter blithely recounting the elements of her son-in-law’s supposed betrayal.
Sir Antony: “My Love, for a woman who has lost eight years worth of memory, you are certainly managing to remember what I told you this morning.” He smiles wryly.
Lady Charmaine: “Thank you! But if who is involved gets any more complicated, then Iwill need a chart to keep track of them all. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Sir Antony: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Charmaine, I love your sense of humor! I have missed it. I have missed you.” He leans in to his wife and they kiss lingeringly on their lips.
Lady Esmѐ: “Khh!” She coughs to get their attention. Lady Esmѐ may be French, but there are some proprieties to be observed–with regard to not kissing in front of others. “Yes, well, Percival asks when he might come see you this morning.”
Lady Charmaine: “That will be lovely! Please ask Perce and his wife to come visit around 11 o’clock this morning. Then they can stay and have luncheon with Kathy and her husband–so they can get to know each other. Antony and I will eat luncheon here in my bed chamber.” Sir Antony squeezes his wife and smiles.
Lady Esmѐ: “Very well.” She nods. “I will send word to him.” She pauses. “Antony?” This is the first time she has addressed him by his Christian name since she arrived. “Have you told Charmaine about why Percival left?”
Lady Charmaine: “Left? What do you mean?”
Sir Antony: “No I have not. Charmaine, my Love. You were so worried that Perce would follow what you thought were my philandering ways that you kept him on a tight leash. After three years, he could not take the constant corrections from you. And when you discovered he had become infatuated with the Harriott girl when he tried to find out the truth on his own, you called him a deceitful betrayer. So, five years ago he ran away. I did not realize that he had married the Harriott girl until recently. The family has been out of the country for several years.”
Lady Charmaine: “Oh Antony. You make me sound so horrid!” She covers her mouth with her hand in repulstion.
Sir Antony: “It was a difficult period in all of our lives. You were not your kind and loving self. And I blamed myself for that.” He bows his head.
Lady Charmaine: “But you were not unfaithful to me! You said yourself that the rumors were false.”
Sir Antony: “Yes, they were false. But as I told you this morning, you did not believe me.”
Lady Charmaine: She rubs her forehead, not in pain, but in confusion. “And Kathy? Did I ill treat her as well?”
Sir Antony: Deciding honesty is his best course of action, he replies. “You were unhappy and that unhappiness spread to her. She was withering living in this house with you. That is why when Lord Rafe expressed his sincere interest in Kathy after her coming out ball, I seized on the chance to have her remove herself to a happier home. But Lord Rafe had been quite a ladies man before he married and you opposed the match–because you thought that she would have an adulterer for a husband. But I prevailed and they were married almost two weeks ago. And from what I can tell, they are happy with each other.”
Lady Charmaine: “Oh my! I do not know how I could have been so blind!” Lady Charmaine’s face has gone pale and she rubs her temple again.
Sir Antony: He puts his arms around her and looks at her worriedly. “Charmaine my Love, your headaches have not returned have they?” He is worried that she might have another stroke.
Lady Esmѐ: Lady Esmѐ also blanches in worry. “Mon cher?”
Lady Charmaine: “No, no. I am fine. It is just humbling to hear how thoroughly I have ruined my family’s lives.” Lady Charmaine tears up for causing her loved ones such pain.
Sir Antony: Pulling her close to him, he tries to soothe her. “Shhhh! Shhhh! That is all in the past. From today, we move forward and renew our lives together as a loving family.”
Lady Charmaine: “Yes. And I seem to need to seek forgiveness from both of my children.” She nestles against her huband’s chest, a tear falling from her eye.
Sir Antony: “All will be well, my love. Just as Kathy loves you, so shall Perce. But you should rest a bit before the doctor visits.”
Lady Charmaine: “Yes. Then after the doctor visits, I want to take a bath and put on a dress to greet Perce.”
Lady Esmѐ: “Are you certain that you feel well enough to go to all of that trouble?”
Lady Charmaine: “Mama, a bath will soothe me. And I will still keep to my room since I cannot move about by myself yet.” She points to her weakened left arm and leg.
Sir Antony: “I will speak with Perce before you see him,Charmaine–and fill him in on what has happened.” He wants to smoothe his wife’s way to reconciling with her son. And he does not want his son to possibly upset his Mama and cause another stroke.
Lady Esmѐ: “Bon!”
Then after breakfast, Sir Antony carries Lady Charmaine back to bed to nap–with her Mama Lady Esme sitting with her, while Sir Antony goes to dress before the doctor arrives. Lady Esmѐ writes a short note to her grandson, Percival, about he and his wife visiting at 11 o’clock and then staying for mid day luncheon. Then she has the butler send the footman with it to the Harriott home.
Meanwhile, Lady Katharine had returned to her bed chamber after seeing her Grandmere in the hallway, but her husband was not there. Her ladies maid informed her that her husband went to his own bed chamber to dress. So Lady Katharine dresses, then walks down the hall to her husband’s bed chamber to deliver his letter to him. Though it was addressed to the both of them, she wants to wait to open it in his presence.
Lady Katharine knocks twice on her husband’s bed chamber door.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe, it is Kate.” She smiles as she uses his pet name for her.
Lord Rafe: “Enter.” He intones like his papa does. His valet is just helping him on with his jacket. Lady Katharine walks into the room and smiles at her husband. He turns to the valet. “Thank you. You may leave us.”
The valet bows and leaves Lord Rafe’s bed chamber. Then Lord Rafe crosses the room to his wife and takes her hand in his and kisses it.
Lady Katharine: “Hhhh!” She sighs with his tender affections.
Lord Rafe: Pulling her to him in an embrace, he kisses her neck. “Hmmm.” He growls. “You look lovely this morning. Did you find your Mama well this morning?” Then he kisses her bare shoulder.
Lady Katharine: “I have not seen her yet. But she was breakfasting with Papa, so she must be feeling better. Grandmere wanted to see her first. She had a note from my brother Perce. And you have a note as well.” She lifts the note up and hands it to him.
Lord Rafe: He looks at the unopened note, turning it in his hand. “Hhhh! And I hoped that you might want to resume our conversation from this morning, my love.” He tosses the note onto a nearby table and he returns his attention to his bride.
Lady Katharine: “Oh? And which conversation was that?” She asks coquettishly.
Lord Rafe: “The one where I adore you until you tremble with bliss.” He smiles smoulderingly. And she trembles in remembrance of their earlier conversation.
Then he and Lady Katharine kiss with loving abandon for several minutes. The thought of a quick tryst enters both of their minds as Lord Rafe caresses her through her clothes..
Lady Katharine: “Now Rafe, you must stop that. I am all dressed, as are you.” She pouts. “And the doctor is expected within the hour.
Lord Rafe: “An hour is plenty of time. And if you will recall, I promised you once before not to muss you unduly were we to make love before we were expected somewhere.”
Lady Katharine’s face blushes at the remembrance of their almost marriage consummation before dinner with the Wingates and finding out about Anna.
Lady Katharine: “Though my hair is not done up this morning, we still do not have time to fix the ringlets were they to become tangled.” She lowers her eyes demurely. One thing that she has learned as a much loved wife is that her hair gets mussed when her husband makes love with her.
Lord Rafe: “Well! Then I suggest that we can make love in such as way as to protect your ringlets.” He smiles bemusedly as he bolts his bed chamber door.
Lady Katharine: “How?” She looks at him shyly, biting her lower lip.
Lord Rafe steps back from his wife and loosens his cravat, then he pulls the silken tie from his throat. Lady Katharine wets her lips in anticipation. Then he deftly removes his jacket, shirt, trousers, and drawers in a tenth of the time it took him to put them on this morning. Now standing naked before his wife–in all of his muscular handsomeness–Lord Rave gazes at his wife with unbridled passion [(5) right].
Now Lord Rafe turns his attention to her clothing. First, Lord Rafe takes her into his embrace and kisses her thoroughly–with Lady Katharine’s hands stroking his bare back, sending pulses of desire coursing through him. He then deftly unbuttons and unhooks her dress by feel, then gently slides it off of her. Lady Katharine’s womanly shapely form is perfectly silhouetted in her undergarments [(6) right]. Her petticoats and drawers soon follow and fall to the floor as he removes them. They embrace once more, feeling their nakedness almost fitted against each other.
Lord Rafe: “We must remove your corset, too–for your comfort.” He rasps heatedly.
Lady Katharine: “For my comfort, or your desire?” She smiles coquettishly.
Lord Rafe: “Both!” He smiles slyly.
Lady Katharine smiles and turns her back to to her husband. He quickly unties her laces and loosens them to such a degree that she wriggles out of her corset–now standing before him in only her thin chemise, before he removes that from her as well. Lady Katharine stands somewhat shyly naked in front of her husband’s heatedly appreciative gaze. Her arms partially cover and support her full bosom–leaving her womanly curvy hips and back side exposed to his loving gaze.
Lord Rafe: “You are so exquisitely beautiful my love.” He sighs, then he beckons her to join him at their bed.
Lady Katharine: “And you are so handsome, my husband.” She sighs gazing upon his muscular body–his broad shoulders and powerful arms surrounding his ripped chest, that tapers to his sturdy waist, and thence to his powerful legs that grip his horse when he is astride.
Lord Rafe: “Come, Katharine.” Lord Rafe says huskily as he sits down on the edge of his bed, pulling her to him as they kiss adoringly once more.
Lady Katharine: “Now, you will take care of my hair?” Then she nestles her face into her husband’s neck. Then she whispers–though no others are about to hear her. “It’s just that I do not want my family to know that we have just … made love.” She sighs.
Lord Rafe: “Ha ha ha ha ha! You are so precious, My Angel! And so sweet.”
Lord Rafe lifts each of Lady Katharine’s legs and guides them around him, with her knees touching the bed. Lady Katharine does not resist, her curiosity about what her husband is doing getting the better of her. She embraces him and he slides into bed–bringing her with him–and he lies down while she is wrapped around him, though they are not yet joined together. Lady Katharine shyly lies upon her husband’s chest as he sits back against the pillows. Lord Rafe hungrily kisses his wife’s neck even as he caresses her lovingly. She is eager for his loving attentions, though their present position is new to her. He just waits, with a small smile on his face.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe?” She finally asks when her need for him becomes too great to deny.
Lord Rafe: “Yes, my Angel?” He smiles mischievously.
Lady Katharine: “Do you want me to lie down now?” She asks shyly eagerly.
Lord Rafe: “Oh? What about your ringlets?” He jests as he continues to caress her lovingly. “I promised to keep them safe for you.”
Lady Katharine: “I do not see how that can be? But I do not care anymore!” She pleads in heightened awareness of her womanhood at this moment as she wraps her arms around him.
Lord Rafe: “But I do care. I promised to leave your ringlets unmussed, and preserve them we shall.” He says mock nobly.
Lady Katharine: “But how?” She gasps even as she bites her lower lip. Lady Katharine is a true innocent–but for her being a thoroughly loved newly married wife this past week.
Lord Rafe: “I will stay lying down.” He grins mischievously while she looks at him with a curiously tilted head.
Then Lord Rafe gently guides his loving wife to enlightenment as they mutually enjoy their secret morning tryst. And true to Lord Rafe’s word as he vouchsafed, Lady Katharine’s brunette ringlets are unscathed. It is an achievement not in hair protection, necessarily, but in Lord Rafe accommodating his wife’s wishes–in a compromise that was most pleasing to both of them.
After kissing and cuddling a bit after their lovemaking, Lady Katharine sits bolt upright.
Lady Katharine: “Rafe! I almost forgot! You have a letter!” Lady Katharine scampers off the bed–grabbing a pillow to cover herself with–and retrieves the missive from this morning, handing it to him as she sits back onto the bed with the pillow still covering her modestly.
Lord Rafe: Smiling bemusedly at her modesty while his own person is mostly naked–but for a puddle of sheet decorously covering his abdomen–Lord Rafe tears open the envelope. “Ah! It is from Mama and Papa. They say that given the dire news about Lady Southwick I sent them yesterday, they are traveling to London today–with Anna–to open the house and be available should we have need of them. Most thoughtful of them.” He nods his head in thanks.
Lady Katharine: “That is kind! Perhaps we could invite them to take tea with us today. Mama will still keep to her room as she recovers, but we can entertain them in the parlor. Will they reach Town by tea time?” She asks hopefully.
Lord Rafe: “I think so. I will send word around to their house for the servants to inform them of our invitation.” Then he hesitates. “Kate my love, they will probably want to bring Anna with them to tea–rather than leave her in the house with servants that she does not know.” He winces.
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine leans in to her husband “Of course your parents must bring Anna to tea, Rafe. I welcome seeing her again.” Then she winces.
Lord Rafe: “What is it, My Angel?” He asks questioningly.
Lady Katharine: “I just hope that the distress with my Mama’s illness and her almost dying does not bring up too many sad memories for Anna about her own Mama’s illness and death.”
Lord Rafe: Pulling his wife to him in a loving embrace as they sit side by side on the bed, he kisses her temple. “That is very thoughtful of you, Kate. But we will minimize the discussion of the details of your Mama’s illness when Anna is in company with us, to attempt to spare Anna’s feelings.”
Lady Katharine: Lady Katharine nods. “Well, we had best get dressed again if we are to host several visitors today.” She starts to get out of bed.
Lord Rafe: “Oh? Are there others?” He smiles while tugging on her arm to stay her from leaving his bed.
Lady Katharine: She turns back to look at her husband with a warm smile. “Well, the doctor is due back in a quarter hour. And my brother and maybe his wife will also visit at some point today.”
Lord Rafe: “Hhhhhh! Katharine, my Angel, it sounds as if we will see more comings and goings today than a stagecoach way station. Ha ha ha ha ha!” His head rocks back in laughter.
Lady Katharine: “Ha ha ha ha ha!” She giggles. “But do be serious, Rafe. I want to be with Mama when the doctor comes. I need to get dressed quickly.” She pouts as she stands up from their bed, still demurely clutching the pillow to her naked body.
Lord Rafe: “Alright.” He sighs. Then a wicked grin spreads across his face as he tugs at her modesty pillow. “But you know, Kate. If I am to help you get dressed again, the pillow will have to go.” He teases.
Lady Katharine: She pinkens. “Oh you! You just want to gaze upon me again.” She says primly. Well, as primly as she can be while standing naked before her naked husband, with only a pillow to shield her nakedness.
Lord Rafe: “Every chance I can get, Katharine.” He smiles gleefully. “Ha ha ha ha ha!” He rocks his head back in laughter.
Lady Katharine: “You lustful fiend.” She chides him in mock disdain, while secretly delighting in his loving attentions.
Lord Rafe: “That I am, my Angel. That I am.”
Then Lord Rafe and Lady Katharine kiss adoringly once more before he helps her get dressed and then he redresses himself. Then they head to Lady Charmaine’s bed chamber.
To be continued with Chapter 18
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 vlcsnap-ooh09m21s203 Mar1313 Gratiana Lovelace screencap (cap)
2) Lady Charmaine image is of Michelle Pfeiffer in the film Cherie Apr2213 and was found at http://www.screenweek.it/film/11894-Ch%C3%A9ri/galleria/47384
3) Sir Antony image (masked) is Daniel Day-Lewis and was found at http://theamerican.ie/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/DanielDayLewis_2012_AFI_Fest.jpg
4) Lady Esme Sinclair image is of Catherine Deneuve at Cannes in 2000 at age 64 and was found at http://www.info-stars.com/stars/cache/220px-Catherine_deneuve2.jpg
5) Lord Rafe naked image is Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks,series 9 Promos, pix 45 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/series9-45.jpg
6) Lady Katharine Image is Carla Gugino as Duchess Nan in The Buccaneers 1995 -Epi4-vlcsnap-Apr2213r Gratiana Lovelace Cap CrpClrBrt2Shrp
“Love is a Choice”, Previous Story Link to Ch. 16 is: