“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 03: Christina Heads Home Tuesday Night, December 25, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #677)
[From time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage for Richard Thorne, Sigourney Weaver for Richard’s mother Elise Thorne, Jennifer Jason Leigh for Edith Thorne Burke, Haley Atwell for Christina Gilcrist, James Slattery for Frederick Burke, Harrison Ford for Prof. Percy Gilcrist, Franco Nero for Count Victor Renaldi, and others]
Author’s Mature Content Note: “A Magnificent Love” is story with mature themes (D for drama and S for sensuality) of love and relationships. Most chapters will be PG or PG-13. However, if you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with the ratings that I provide, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer.
Author’s recap from the previous chapter: Elise Thorne’s Tuesday, Dec. 23rd early 65th birthday party hosted by her daughter Edie’s family was a success! And the matching diamond earring and pendant jewelry they jointly gave her was appreciatively received. However, Elise noticed her son Richard Thorne seemed to be holding something back, and eventually he revealed that a Christina Gilcrist assisted him in selecting their gift at Barnette Chicago. Elise is slightly acquainted with this branch of the Gilcrists–and their financial woes due to an inheritance that will be out of reach for Christina for five more years. Ever hopeful that her son will settle down, meet a nice girl, and get married, Elise latches onto Richard’s new acquaintanceship and suggests that Richard invite Christina and her father to Christmas Eve services with supper after. But Richard is reticent to do that, though his piqued interest in Christina Gilcrist continues. Meanwhile, Christina Gilcrist heads home to her father this night.
“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 03: Christina Heads Home Tuesday Night
As I left Barnette Chicago for home this evening of Tuesday December 23rd, I received a polite nod from my supervisor–the Barnette Chicago Director, Mr. Barnard Kline. He said Christina, you did well with the Thorne purchase. Praise, indeed! And yes, the 5 % commission of $750 will come in handy at this time of year. But I am more glad to have helped Mr. Thorne find the perfect gift for his mother. And, if I were being truthful to myself, I miss my own mother and having the opportunity to buy her little gifts– especially around the holidays. Usually, my Mom preferred practical gifts–such as hand lotion, lacy linen hankies, and restaurant gift cards. Apart from the few heirloom pieces of jewelry that she inherited from her mother, her mother-in-law (my father’s mother),or received as a girl, my mother was not that enamored of receiving new jewelry–her liking traditional styles. Which was good, because Daddy never bought her jewelry that I know of beyond their wedding ring sets–flowers and chocolates yes, jewelry no. And yet, Christina believes that her parents were ecstatically happy together in their not focusing on material possessions.
So in helping Richard Thorne with his gift selection for his mother, I felt a sense of nostalgia about making a gift selection for my late mother, Meghan Meg Gilcrist. Yet, however polite the handsome Richard Thorne seemed, I am doubtful of the sincerity of Mr. Thorne’s appreciation for my assistance. He seemed preoccupied by something during our exchanges. And in my experience, business entrepreneurs like Richard Thorne rarely acknowledge the contributions of those beneath them. Not that I am beneath him. And suddenly a rather startling sensual image invades my thoughts–and I blushingly push it aside.
But with my immediate family’s currently austere finances, I do not participate in the same lavish social spheres as Richard Thorne. My wealthier cousin Susie’s wedding was the grandest affair that I have been to all year. The wedding reception was a little stuffy–with a formal receiving line that stretched on forever–because her mother insisted upon inviting everyone, and I do mean everyone. But the wedding itself was quite lovely, I must admit–with just the right touches of romantic candle light and fir boughs adorning the ends of the church pews. And in the end, Susie married the man of her dreams. Now if only, I can find the man of my dreams to marry and build a life with.
Christina Gilcrist is indeed quite tired at the end of the day on Tuesday, December 23rd–her having worked twelve hours on her feet from 8:00am to 8:00pm due to the holiday crush. So she is grateful to grab some takeout for dinner for she and her father and then head home to their family’s mansion called Bellhurst in the countryside via the Metra rail. It would be more convenient if she had an apartment in town after a long day. But their current situation does not allow for two homes.
After brushing the snow off of her coat and hanging it up in the foyer hall closet–as well as leaving her snowy boots in the foyer’s ante room for such things–Christina pads in her hosiery clad feet over worn Aubusson carpet rugs to her father’s study in their country mansion home–or at least, the wing of their home that they reside in. The rest is shuttered to save the heating costs this winter.
Peeking into her father’s study, there is little illumination within but for the glow from the fireplace where her father sits nearby napping in his favorite leather wing chair [(2) right]. His book that he was reading has fallen into his lap on top of the blanket throw covering his legs. The room is warm and toasty, but the wood burning in the fireplace is starting to die down and the room will soon lose its warmth and cozy appeal.
Christina: “Oh, Daddy.” Christina says in a hushed tone to herself with a smile. She walks over to her father and gently shakes his shoulder, then whispers. “Daddy, I am home.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “What? Kkkh! Oh!”
As Christina’s father startles awake, the book in his lap begins to slide to the floor. But Christina catches it and returns it to him.
Christina: “There you go, Daddy. I brought home some of the Italian food that you like so much, for our dinner.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Oh, thank you, Chrissy Dear.” Chrissy is her father’s pet name for her–as in, Chrissy was their little missy, from the moment she was born. “But I don’t believe that I am hungry.”
Christina bites her lower lip. Ever since her mother died three years ago, Christina has watched her father retreat from the world and from her. He barely eats, and sleeps less–him preferring to read his books or looking out the window at nature.
Christina: Cajolingly, she entreats her father to eat. “Please Daddy, join me and eat a little bit of the food? I do so hate to eat alone. And it is your favorite.”
Prof. Gilcrist: Knowing what his daughter is trying to do, but deciding to go along with her, he acquiesces with a smile. “Alright. I will meet you in the kitchen.”
Christina nods and takes their meals back to the kitchen for her to warm it up in the oven. They don’t have a cook anymore after their longtime cook retired. They do have a part time housemaid who does the basics of housecleaning that Christina can’t get to because she works fulltime. And they also have a full time grounds person who tends to the maintenance on the estate and needed repairs in the house. Thus their estate staff of one and a half persons is a far cry from the dozens who worked on the estate when Christina was a little girl twenty years ago when her late mother was alive and in charge–and with her mother having had access to her trust fund that has now passed to Christina, but is tied up until she is thirty-five. And these are different times.
After Christina puts their food in the oven to be warmed, she dashes upstairs to her bedroom and changes into her comfy clothes and such–before joining her father in the kitchen. As they settle into the cozy breakfast nook in their mansion’s large kitchen, Christina and her father chat.
Christina: “Was that a new book that I saw you reading today, Daddy?” Christina [(3) right] asks her father interestedly.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Ha! Hardly. It is an old favorite in a new edition that the publisher sent to me for a review–Edward Gibbon’s The History of the Decline of the Fall of the Roman Empire” [(4)]. It seems that my opinion still matters in some quarters.”
He states a bit pridefully. For he has not taught for years, and he has not written nor published scholarly work for longer than that. With failing health at seventy seven years, Percy Gilcrist is past his prime–and he knows it. But he still maintains his interest in academics and keeps his mind active.
Christina: “That’s great, Daddy!” Christina enthuses. Then she asks hesitantly. “And is this a paid book review?”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Certainly not! It would be unethical for me to accept payment from a publisher and then expect readers to believe that my review is unbiased.”
Christina: Christina winces at a lost opportunity for her father earning even a few hundred dollars. “Yes, but Daddy …”
Prof. Gilcrist: Cutting her off, he bristles. “It would be a conflict of interest, Christina.” Then he stares her down as if she offended him. It is an imperious gaze that he perfected over the years with his graduate students when they failed to meet deadlines.
Christina: “Of course, you’re right, Daddy.” Christina back peddles.
Christina and her father have had this conversation so many times that she has not the heart for it any more. She is the de facto bread winner in their family now–and her slim shoulders must bear that burden alone.
And therein lies the crux of Prof. Percy Gilcrist’s lack of personal financial resources. He is an expert in ancient history who does not market his expertise. And thus with him bringing in little funds for their living expenses–because his own trust fund has dwindled to a paltry few thousand a year and his retirement pay goes to offset a rather large mortgage that he had taken out when he self published his final masterpiece of a book on history that never sold beyond a few dozen copies, again, through lack of marketing–it falls to Christina to somehow manage to keep and maintain the family home through her working for a living to supplement the small trust fund stipend that she receives until she turns thirty five in five years.
Christina would not say that she has a career in fine jewelry sales because though Barnette Chicago pays her a better salary and commission than most jobs, it is not what she trained for, nor what she feels that she is best at. Christina had wanted to be a teacher and earned her teaching degree and professional credentials eight years ago. In a small way, she was following in her father’s footsteps–though he taught at the university, and she at a middle and high school And Christina loved working with young people, watching them grasp ideas and concepts, and mentoring their intellectual development into young adults. So it is ironic that with her present position, she is the youngest person on staff, and she does not work with young people.
She had even taught school for two years after earning her degree. But then her mother became ill and Christina was needed at home. Christina has no regrets, for being home caring for her mother during her long decline was the only place that Christina wanted to be. And she cherishes the time that she had with her mother–despite how difficult it was for both of them.
Then a year after her mother’s death, Christina realized in going over the estate’s finances with the executor of the estate–a longtime family attorney named Bruce Conroy–that she would have to get a job and bring in money just to keep their family home. And Christina had lucked into the position at Barnette Chicago by accident. It was serendipitous, really. She had to obtain a jewelry appraisal for one of her late paternal grandmother’s less sentimental jewelry pieces that she was considering selling with her father’s blessing to help pay the mortgage that was in arrears. The precarious nature of their family finances had come to that point then–that she had to consider selling her family’s memories and mementos.
While the Barnette Associate assisting her consulted with their jewelry appraiser, Christina drifted to another display case where she perused the lovely and out of her financial reach gemstones. She reminded herself that she was there to sell, not to buy. However, a young married couple were looking at wedding ring sets–to potentially change their wedding rings upon the occasion of their fifth wedding anniversary. And Christina and the young couple struck up a conversation. In the course of which, Christina asked them several probing questions about why they wanted to change their ring sets? To purchase a more important diamond for the wife’s engagement ring was the answer given–and because their more comfortable financial position allowed them the luxury of being able to buy a new set.
She had told the young couple what she already knew about her own potential sale of her late mother-in-law’s large cocktail ring–that the value of the rings in sentimentality far outweighed their monetary value. Once sold, a ring, or necklace, or bracelet instantly loses half of its value. And jewelry stores–or pawn shops–will only pay for the weight of the gold or its gems, not the artistry of the design of the piece. So the young couple would lose half the value of their current rings and then fork over full price for a new set. To the consternation of the married couple’s Barnette Chicago Sales Associate assisting them, Christina cautioned them against this unwise move. What Christina did suggest was that if they desired updated jewelry, that they buy a set of additional matching rings they could wear on their right hands that symbolized their loving union. And that is what they did–with Christina’s help in selecting jewelry of quality and value.
Christina grew up around valuable and fine jewelry and other family heirlooms. So it was inevitable that Christina innately knew about quality jewelry. Christina had often sat rapt with attention as her mother and grandmother had shown her the family heirloom jewelry pieces and explained their history, value, and valuing potential. So Christina was a natural in appreciating and being knowledgeable about fine gems and jewelry. And unbeknownst to Christina, the Barnette Chicago Director Barnard Kline had observed the smooth exchanges between Christina and the young couple and found her to be a good prospect for employment. So after providing her with a certificate of insurance valuation for her late paternal grandmother’s gems, Mr. Kline promptly offered her a position at Barnette Chicago–at a salary and commission scale that she could not in good conscience turn down.
Breaking into her reverie about her early days working for Barnette Chicago, Christina’s father asks her over their tira masu dessert.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Did anything interesting happen to you today, Chrissy?”
Christina: “Oh Daddy, the usual. Last minute Christmas shoppers trying to find just the right gift for that special person on their list.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “And I am certain that you ably assisted them. Anyone we know?” Percy asks idly. Long ago are the days when he would even consider walking into a jewelry store to make a purchase since his wife claimed to not need any more jewelry. So he tended to give her flowers or take her out to dinner.
Christina: Christina’s ears perk up. “Anyone we know, Daddy? Why would you ask that?” She thinks about Richard Thorne, whom she would barely call an acquaintance.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Oh nothing. It is just that you work in a place where the wealthy come to divest themselves of their petty cash.” He states facetiously. “There must be someone among our former acquaintances who still have enough money to spare.”
Christina: “Oh Daddy, It’s not like that.” She rolls her eyes. “In fact, there was a fellow today who was buying his mother a combined birthday and Christmas present from the whole family.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “A fellow? Hmmm. Was he young and handsome, or old and doddering like me? Ha ha ha ha ha!”
Christina: “Ha ha ha! Daddy, you look distinguished. And you are certainly not doddering. You are conducting a publisher’s book review, are you not?” She reminds him and he preens a bit. “That is a very laudable project.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Why thank you, dear daughter. But I fear that you are far too kind about my looks and your vision hampered by our familial relationship.”
Christina: “Perhaps.” She smiles impishly.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Who was it?” He persists.
Prof. Gilcrist: “He then? The fellow whom you sold some jewelry to today.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “But somehow, I think that this fellow has quite taken your fancy.” Percy sits back in his chair. carefully observing her blushing cheeks [(5) right].
Christina: “Now really, Daddy, I helped him select a gift. That is all. But my commission on the sale will come in handy in paying for the new water heater we need.” She says brightly–both proud and relieved at the same time.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Yes, Chrissy, Dear.” His eyes shutter slightly at her mention of their finances. “But let us not discuss mundane things such as the need to pay for a new water heater. And certainly not the means by which their purchase is facilitated–your earning commissions.” He says a bit disdainfully.
Yes, Prof. Percy Gilcrist does not like to be vulgar and discuss funds–or their lack of funds.
Christina: “Of course, Daddy. My mistake.” Christina nods respectfully. And though she knows that her Father appreciates her work that supports their lifestyle, he still has an oddly passive-aggressive way of expressing it.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Oh, and I see what you were doing–misdirecting my thoughts.” Christina blushes. “Now what was the name of the fellow whom you assisted today?” He asks his daughter pointedly with a smile.
Christina; “Hhhhh!” She sighs deeply, resigned to revealing his name. “It was Mr. Richard Thorne.”
Prof. Gilcrist: His eyes widen. “As in The Thornes?”
Prof. Gilcrist mentally does the calculation of how far away the Thorne estate is from their own–about five miles. It is not so distant that his daughter and the Thorne boy wouldn’t run into each other at the nearby small city where they purchase their groceries and such. It is just that with Chrissy being so much younger than the Thorne heir–by at least ten years, he thinks–the children did not run into each other at school. Actually, Richard Thorne is almost thirteen years older than Christina.
Christina: “Yes!” She nods once. “We had almost met at Susie’s wedding a few weeks ago. But he said that he did not remember me from the wedding.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Not remember you? But you were in the wedding party, the Maid of Honor!” I look at her in astonishment.
Christina: “That’s what I told Mr. Thorne. But he said that I looked so different today, that he didn’t recognize me.” She wrinkles up her nose–at Richard Thorne not thinking she was memorable. If only she knew his real thoughts.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well, Chrissy Dear, you did look quite fetching in your Maid of Honor gown. Perhaps you could dress a bit more stylishly at Barnette Chicago.” He thinks back to her business suit that she wore to work today. It is crisp and professional, but it does not flatter her womanly curvy femininity.
Christina: “What? Daddy, I must dress conservatively at Barnette Chicago. I can’t wear a cocktail dress or evening gown and wear heavier makeup to work every day, now can I? I am not some courtesan looking for my next sponsor.” She compares herself to the resourceful women of antiquity that are often found in her father’s books.
Prof. Gilcrist: Shaking his head, Prof. Gilcrist agrees. “No, I of course not. But if you are to secure a husband and elevate your position, Barnette Chicago will throw you into the company of such men–like Richard Thorne.”
Christina: “Daddy, I am not on Richard Thorne’s romantic radar–a woman who has to work for a living as a Sales Associate?”
Prof. Gilcrist: “But you work at Barnette Chicago. Everyone who is anyone is their client.” He might disdain the trappings of wealth, but as an historian and chronicler of societies, Prof. Percy Gilcrist is well aware of their current society’s habits.
Christina: “That’s just semantics, Daddy–and you know it. Though our respective social spheres might occasionally intersect–as we did at Susie’s wedding–Richard Thorne will no doubt find some pampered society pages princess to date and to wed.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Hhhh!” He sighs despondently. “I had so wanted you to be my pampered princess–our only child. I wanted to give you everything.” His voice strangles as he tries to choke back the defeat he feels in not being able to take care of her properly.
Christina: “Daddy, I did feel pampered. And you and Mommy did give me everything–everything that mattered, such as your love and support and encouragement.” She says defensively.
Prof. Gilcrist: “What about now? When you have to work so hard just to keep a roof over our head.” He alludes to their pecuniary existence.
Christina: “Daddy, there is more to life than lavishly spending money and living large. I much prefer the time we spend together.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Thank you, Chrissy. But still, a father worries. After I am gone? Who will take care of you?”
Christina: “Daddy, I like to think that I can take care of myself.” Christina states without rancor, her chin raised pridefully.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Of course you can, Chrissy Dear. But I want to know that you have found love and happiness. And a grandchild or two before I croak would not be amiss.” He cheekily teases her.
Christina: Christina rolls her eyes in amusement. “First things first, Daddy.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “A husband?”
Christina: “No! A new water heater. I’m calling the plumber tomorrow. It being Christmas Eve day, we might not be able to schedule him to visit tomorrow. But by Friday, we should be able to schedule the installation of a new water heater–and have truly hot and no longer tepidly warm showers by the weekend!” Christina finishes with a flourish with her fist in the air in victory–feeling a sense of accomplishment for navigating this difficulty of mansion maintenance and personal comfort through her own efforts and work ethic.
Prof. Gilcrist: “But what about Richard Thorne?” He raises his eyebrow questioningly.
Christina: “We’ll see!” She boldly leaves open the possibility of her considering Richard Thorne as a suitor. That is, she thinks, were Richard Thorne to give her a second thought, and were he to wish to pursue here. Richard Thorne is devilishly handsome–and her heart did do flips in his presence–but he is a tad full of himself, she thinks.
Then before bed, Christina opens her wallet and takes out Richard Thorne’s business card. He had handed it to her with his credit card and driver’s license when he made his purchase. But she discovered that there were two business cards stuck together. So after stapling one business card to the purchase transaction record in case they had any questions regarding his purchase, she had slipped his other business card into her pocket–and it later made its way into her wallet.
Christina thinks that Richard Thorne is a tempting devil. But she does not wish to be his or anyone’s temporary conquest. And she will not marry for wealth nor position. Christina will only marry for love, for a magnificent love–like her parents had.
To be continued with Chapter 4
“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 3 References for Wattpad, December 25, 2014, Gratiana Lovelace (Post #677)
1) The “A Magnificent Love” story cover by Gratiana Lovelace is a composite of images I capped from the video “The Hobbit Star Richard Armitage: Exclusive Interview on The Hobbit” by Glamour UK
found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAfBKuDo5sg :
a) the cropped background of Richard Armitage on street for Glamour UK 2013 Photo Shoot Dec1714 Bright Box Productions; and
b) the masked image of Richard Armitage on street for Glamour UK 2013 Photo Shoot Dec1714 Bright Box Productions.
2) Prof. Percy Gilcrist napping is an image of actor Harrison Ford blinking found at http://www.nationalenquirer.com/sites/nationalenquirer.com/files/imagecache/node_page_image/article_images/ford_story.jpg; and a crop of an MS Office Clip art wing chair
3) Christina Gilcrist image is that of British Actress Haley Atwell found at http://eatingfastfood.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/hayley-atwell1.jpg
4) For more information about Edward Gibbon’s “The History of the Decline of the Fall of the Roman Empire” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Gibbon
5) Prof. Percy Gilcrist is an image of actor Harrison Ford found at http://cineobjetivo.com/2012/02/08/harrison-ford-no-estara-en-blade-runner-2/