“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 07 (PG-13, D): Courtship and Consternation, December 29, 2014 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #682)
[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: At their day after Christmas Thorne family fun day on Friday Dec. 26th, the Thornes, Burkes, and Gilcrists enjoyed yummy foods, sleigh rides, and such that served to bring Richard Thorne and Christina Gilcrist closer together. There were some minor hiccups with Christina having to comfort little ten year old Elisa Burke about her first period, and then there was Richard being accused of trying to steal a company by that company’s CEO who burst in on their family gathering. But all was worked out in the end, and even Christina’s slightly curmudgeonly father found an adherent in Elise Thorne’s gentleman friend Count Victor Renaldi, who appreciates the professors work and book an invited him to be a visiting scholar at the Italian university that his family is a sponsor of. And then Christina and Richard kissed, really kissed–despite his stitches. Oh yes, it was a very good day!
“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 07 (PG-13, D): Courtship and Consternation
That same weekend after Christmas for Richard Thorne and Christina Gilcrist involved more time spent together with a pancake breakfasts Saturday and Sunday at the local town’s diner, more sledding with the Burke kids, and warmer private moonlight sleigh rides borrowing Elise Thorne’s Christmas gloves with battery operated warming coils.
And Elise Thorne’s own jaw dropped when Richard joined them for Sunday services at their local church. Richard Thorne darkening the door of a church? Hell has indeed frozen over. Or at least, frozen in their neck of the countryside. After worship services, Elise guides Christina to a private corner of the coffee hour in the Parish Hall of the old time Episcopal Church.
Elise: “Christina Dear, is there any end to the miracles that you can accomplish?”
Christina: Smiling embarrassedly, Christina asks. “I’m not sure what you mean, Mrs. Thorne.”
Elise: “It’s Elise, Dear. What I mean is getting my son to come to church with all of us today.
Christina: “Really? Well Elise, …” Christina tries out Mrs. Thorne’s name upon her lips. “Richard didn’t seem to mind when I mentioned it yesterday.” Elise looks quizzically at Christina. So Christina elaborates. “Well, last night during our second sleigh ride …” Then Christina decides to edit out the kissing portion of it and pauses.
Christina: “Well, Richard said that he wanted to join me for breakfast again–this time at my house for brunch. And I said that it being Sunday, he would have to wait until after church.” Christina smiles shyly [(2) right].
Though what Christina didn’t pick up on is that Richard was angling to wake up with her and then join her for breakfast.
Elise: “I see.” Elise smiles knowingly.
Richard Thorne is very desirous of the beautiful and charming Christina Gilcrist. And what Richard Thorne wants, Richard Thorne always gets.
Christina: “And I told Richard that he will have to settle for French Toast or waffles, because my pancakes are always much flatter than what you get in restaurants.” Then she mumbles to herself as she shakes her head. “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong with my pancakes.”
Elise: Elise overhears Christina’s mumblings, and suggests delicate. “Perhaps like me, you’re out of practice, Christina Dear.” Of course, Elise is alluding to something else that Christina might be out of practice with.
Christina: But Christina does not perceive Elise’s double meaning.“Oh? Do you make pancakes, Mrs. I mean, Elise?” Christina corrects herself. But it is difficult for Christina to change a lifetime of ingrained etiquette about being polite to one’s elders.
Elise: “No. Not lately, anyway, Christina Dear.” Elise says cryptically while thinking about her upcoming planned romantic holiday with her gentleman friend, Count Victor Renaldi.
And Elise thinks that Richard will have to be less subtle with his courtship of Christina. That is if subtlety could be considered one of his attributes. The other women that her son Richard has dated in the past–though only rarely introduced to Elise at charity functions and never invited to a family gathering–were all women of the world, and cognizant about what it means to be the mistress of Richard Thorne. However with the sweet and somewhat sheltered Christina, Elise thinks that Richard will not be taking her as his mistress.
Christina: “And thank you again for our lovely weekend with your family. My Daddy and I have really enjoyed it.”
Elise: “As have we, my Dear.”
Christina: “Will you please excuse me, Elise? Daddy is looking tired and I should be getting him home. He naps after brunch.”
Elise: “Of course.” Elise nods warmly.
Christina walks over to Richard and collects him from him talking with Frederick and the boys. Then they both assist Prof. Gilcrist into Richard’s car, since Richard had picked them up for church today.
After a yummy brunch at the Gilcrists–with Christina doing the cooking while Richard and her father chatted sitting in their breakfast nook–Christina enlists Richard’s help in cleaning up as she washes the dishes and he dries them. Richard has removed his tweed jacket and is just in his sweater–with a dishtowel tied around his waist to keep his dress pants from getting wet.
Christina: “Richard, be sure that you dry the forks and knives really well before you put them back into the drawer, they’ll corrode otherwise.”
Richard: “Yes maam!” Richard salutes her.
Christina: “Ha ha ha!”
Richard: “But Christina, shouldn’t your housekeeper do this cleaning up for you?” Richard asks a bit disdainfully. He hasn’t done any housework chores for years. And then it was only making his bed as part of his allowance growing up. He has servants to tend to him at his in Chicago apartment and at their family’s country home Ravenwood that he is staying at this weekend.
Christina: “Our housekeeper only works half days Monday through Friday. Daddy and I don’t make much of a mess. I mostly have her do the heavy cleaning of vacuuming, dusting, and bathrooms. And I do the cooking and the laundry.” Christina smiles in her accomplishment in running her family home on their spartan budget.
Richard: “Hmmm. You know? I could possibly help you out with that. I could arrange for a someone to do those things for you–a cook and a full time housekeeper to give you more free time.” Richard offers suggestively
Christina: Christina looks at Richard hesitantly. “That’s kind of you to offer, but it’s really not a bother Richard. I learned how to do everything when I was in college and living on my own. I mostly do the housework at night when I come home from work.” Then she admits sheepishly, shrugging her shoulders. “And I bring takeout home for Daddy and I to eat most nights. He doesn’t seem to mind.”
Christina has not recognized the implication that Richard is making. As Elise Thorne surmised, her son Richard will have to be much less subtle.
Richard: “But if we are to spend more time together, you won’t have time to do it all yourself. You might need some more help around the house here.” Richard raises his eyebrows, waiting for her to understand.
Christina: “Oh!’ Christina has a dawning realization, then she smiles. “So are you asking me out on a proper date, Richard Thorne?”
Richard: “Please don’t call me that.”He shakes his head ruefully.
Christina: “Why not? That’s your name.”
Richard: “Yes, but my mother calls me by my full name when she is angry with me.”
Christina: “Ha ha ha! And has your mother been angry with you lately? Mr. Richard Thorne, adult?” Christina teases him. Then she hands him a plate to dry.
Richard: “See this?” He points to his stitches on his lip caused by Christina slapping him. And Christina nods. “Mother made me sit in a corner of her penthouse that night after we came home from me getting stitches–at the emergency room.” He whines.
Christina raises her hand to her mouth. Richard thinks he added just the right amount of pathos to his story. Then she surprises him and bursts into fits of giggles.
Christina: “Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!” Tears are coming from Christina’s eyes, she is so doubled over with laughter.
Richard: Richard pouts. “I was in pain and my cheek was quite swollen. And Mother still made me sit in the corner to think about what I had done to cause you to hit me–for 30 minutes!”
Christina: Calming herself down a bit, Christina gives him a hug. “I’m sorry, Richard. It’s really not funny that I hurt you. But a grown man taking his Mommy’s punishment just floors me.”
Richard: “Yes, well, my mother is formidable.” Richard rolls his eyes in embarrassment.
Christina: “That’s what you said about me.” Christina smiles as she releases him from her embrace and she returns to washing dishes.
Richard: “Yes, well. Back to us dating.” He emphasizes that word dating pointedly.
Christina: “Yes?” She replies shyly.
Then Richard takes Christina into his arms and kisses her soundly–the lip stitches be damned! The pain is worth it! And Richard think he hears Christina purr. Or maybe that is his own heart’s response with having her in his arms. Then he continues.
Richard: “You will find me a most attentive lover, Christina. I tend to my lady’s needs as much as to my own.” Richard says smoulderingly as he leans in and kisses her tenderly upon her lips again.
Christina: “Oh!” Christina blushes for Richard to speak so forthrightly about such an intimate and private matter. Richard is unlike anyone she has ever met–or anyone she ever hopes to meet. She is smitten with him.
Then Richard relates his terms for their relationship. And Christina’s face and body stiffens in shock in his arms during his speech–though he doesn’t recognize it as such, so caught up in his eagerness to bed her.
Richard: “I will respect that you have some time constraints each day. But just as I will make time for you, I hope that you will make time for me. I will let you know well in advance of any special event that I would like you to accompany me to, so that you may purchase the necessary gown and accessories for the evening. The bills will be sent discreetly to me–you need not worry about the cost. I merely ask that you not to go overboard and stay within $5-10,000 per evening gown. And I will also have charge accounts and credit opened for you at the stores that you like to frequent–and a few stores that I will suggest to you, to expand your wardrobe. And if after a suitable period, you would like to move in with me, or if you would like me to arrange for an apartment nearby for you in town to make it easier for us to see each other, I am happy to arrange that.”
Christina: Finding her voice, Christina asks tremulously. “Anything else?”
Richard: He thinks a moment. “Well, if you wish, I could make a car and driver at your disposal. And should you wish to give up working at Barnette Chicago, I will be happy to give you a most generous living stipend.”
Richard: “Well, for now. We can negotiate any other arrangements you might prefer.” Richard smiles smugly [(3) right], very pleased with himself.
Christina: “I’m not giving up my job at Barnette Chicago.” Christina states uncategorically as she shifts out of his arms.
Richard: “Well! As I said, that is your choice.” Richard gazes at her amiably as he lowers his arms to his sides, wondering if they can steal away to the city tonight to make love for the first time–maybe even for the second time, he smirks.
Christina licks her lips–they and her throat had become dry during Richard’s mistress soliloquy. She steadies herself and her voice, trying to remain calm–difficult to do around Richard.
Christina: “And I’m not doing anything else you proposed either.” Christina gazes at him with a mixture of hurt and insult in her eyes as she stands up straight, schooling her facial expression to a placid demeanor as she has been taught to do. She takes the dishtowel still in his hands and says woodenly, but in a civil tone. “We are done here, Richard. Let me walk you out.”
Christina starts walking toward the front door without waiting to see if Richard is following her. Richard grabs his tweed jacket and quickly follows her. Then Christina opens her front door and turns to him. Richard walks over the threshold. And standing upon the front step, Richard turns to look at Christina again with some uncertainty.
Richard: “Christina, we still haven’t settled our arrangements. And I would like to spend more time with you today..” He smiles cheekily.
Christina: Her face still a mask of poised willpower, Christina replies. “Richard, I have made a mistake. You and I are not on the same page with regard to relationships. I thank you for your kind offer.” She wrinkles up her nose in disgust–she couldn’t help it. “But I, decline. Please let your mother know that as soon as our new water heater arrives, we will return hers that we borrowed from her. Goodbye Richard.”
And with that, Christina Gilcrist swiftly closes her front door, locks it, and then she promptly dashes up to her bedroom to burst into tears. She was really starting to like Richard very much, maybe even to love him. He has shown she and her father such kindness. But Christina will be no man’s plaything–and certainly not billionaire Richard Thorne’s recognized mistress. Christina has her pride, if nothing else.
Richard stands on the front step of the Gilcrist home for a few moments, wondering what just happened. He seems to have a lot of moments like that with Christina, he thinks. Richard raises his hand to knock, then he thinks better of it. The look of confusion upon his face turns to a frown as he shakes his head. What did I say that upset her? He asks himself. His terms were most generous.
Richard thinks that maybe Christina needs time to think about it. So he drives home to Ravenwood.
Back at his mother’s home Ravenwood around 3:00pm, Richard runs into his brother-in-law Frederick [(4) right] sitting in Richard’s study having a drink–away for a few moments from his boisterous children playing Monoply in the other room.
Richard: “Frederick?” Richard greets his brother-in-law tentatively.
Frederick: Frederick looks up in surprise. “Richard! I didn’t expect to see you for hours. Is Christina with you?”
Richard looks confused, but he needs to get advice from someone. And it certainly won’t be his mother. So Richard describes to Frederick what transpired with Christina–leaving out the dishwashing part. Frederick thinks reflectively for a few moments, takes a sip of his scotch, then sets down his drink on the coffee table in front of him, before looking up at Richard again.
Frederick: “Hmmm.” He ponders.
Richard: “Is that all you’re going to say?”
Frederick: “Do you really want my advice?”
Frederick: “Stop thinking with your pants, and start thinking with your head and your heart!”
Richard: “That’s uncalled for!”
Frederick: “Oh really? You proposition a lady–whom the family likes, emphasis on the word lady–to become your mistress? And you are astonished that she declined?” Frederick glares at his brother-in-law Richard with incredulity written all over his face.
Richard: “But I was most generous in my terms. She would be well taken care of as my mistress.”
Frederick: Frederick shakes his head. “Richard, Richard, Richard. Christina is not a woman to be well taken care of. Like my Edith, your sister, Christina is a lady of quality and grace for whom some man will one day spend his life praising the skies that she looked with a tender eye upon him and became his wife. You have to decide if you are that man for Christina.”
Frederick: “Yes. And Richard. A lady like her loves once, for a lifetime. Those are her terms. You were just too pig headed and egotistical to realize it.”
Richard: “ Hey! You go too far, Frederick.”
Frederick: “Richard, I’m your brother-in-law, family. If you can’t hear the truth from me, who will tell you?”
Richard: “Once?” Richard’s eye brow raises in realization of something that had not occurred to him previously. “But she really kisses like she knows what she is doing.”
Frederick: “Kissing is one thing, it doesn’t mean that Christina has done anything beyond that.”
Richard: “You’re serious.”
Richard: “How would you know? And Christina is 30 years old!”
Frederick: “To your first question, I don’t know definitively. But given the statements made by her father in passing–that Christina has lead a sheltered life tending to her parents and being cautioned against fortune hunters–I would say that it’s a safe bet. Or very near it. And as to Christina’s age being beyond the age when most women’s defenses have been breeched? Well, without breeching my beloved wife Edith’s privacy, let me just say that, love is worth waiting for.”
Richard: “That’s cliché.”
Frederick: “But true.”
Richard: “What do I do, then?”
Frederick: “Richard, if you love Christina and want to marry her? Groveling works best. But if all you want to do is have sex for a time and then replace her with someone new when you get bored, then leave her alone. Let some other man cherish Christina.”
Richard: “Those are my options?”
Frederick: “Those are Christina’s terms.” Frederick states pointedly.
Richard: “But how do I know if Christina is the one? My perfect soulmate? What if we marry and we don’t work out?”
Frederick: “Richard? There is no such thing as perfect.” Then he adds drolly. You’re living proof of that.”
Richard: “Hey!” Richard scowls in consternation at his brother-in-law.
Frederick: “My Edith is as perfect as they come. I, however, am flawed beyond measure. All men are. It’s in our natures. Ever since god took one of Adam’s ribs to make Eve, and then Adam blamed Eve for giving him the apple that banished them from Eden–even though it was his choice to eat the apple–men have lacked the moral fortitude to be worthy of women.”
Richard: “That sounds harsh.” Richard mopes.
Frederick: “Life is harsh and then you die, Richard. Life is only made bearable by having friends and family and loved ones in our lives. You have to decide if you want to be alone all your life, or to get busy joining life.”
Richard: “Sage advice from a married man?” Richard grins sheepishly.
Frederick: “A happily married man–25 years and counting! Your mother and your father had 42 years together. I’d say that you have some pretty good examples to follow–if you will heed them.”
Richard: “So what do I do to win Christina back? Again?”
Frederick: “If you really love her and you think that you want to marry her?” Richard nods. “Grovel. Don’t wait to make the grand gesture. And don’t let her sleep on it before you talk to her–she’ll think that you don’t care.”
Richard: “So, I should go back to Christina’s house this afternoon?”
Frederick: “If you love her, yes.”
Richard: “I do. I really think I do.” Richard looks at Frederick in shock–for Richard’s heart has not the experience of the deep love that he thinks that he feels for Christina.
Frederick: Slapping his brother-in-law on the back and pushing him toward the hallway, Frederick admonishes him. “Then get going, fella! I’ll tell Elise not to wait dinner for you.”
Richard decides to take Frederick’s advice. But first, he sits down to write Christina a note–in case she won’t see him tonight. And Richard vows to himself, to win Christina back, somehow.
Around 4:00pm–about an hour later after Richard perfects his note for Christina–Richard drives back to Bellhurst, Christina Gilcrist’s home. He is nervous as hell–and he should be. Whether or not Christina Gilcrist takes him back will determine the course of Richard Thorne’s future–either loving and fulfilled with her as his wife, or merely existing without her. Richard parks in the Gilcrist’s circle drive and he slowly gets out of the car. Richard is a very different man at this moment from the man who was here earlier this afternoon.
Richard isn’t certain what he’ll do if Christina answers the door–or worse, if her father answers the door. He has a 50-50 chance of getting either one of them. Or none, Richard thinks forlornly as he stands at Christina’s front door–worried that they won’t open the door to him. It is now or never. Richard lifts the door knocker and knocks three times and stands back. After a few minutes, nothing. Then Richard starts to knock again and the door opens on the third knock.
It is Prof. Gilcrist, Christina’s father who answers the door–and who just glares at Richard. Richard worries that Christina has told her father all. She hasn’t, but the professor knows that his daughter is upset with Richard. The two men stare at each other.
Prof. Gilcrist: “I don’t think it is wise for you to be here just now. She won’t see you.”
Richard: “Hhhh! Crap!” Richard runs his hand through his hair.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Mind your language, Mr. Thorne” No my boy for Richard now. “What is it you want?”
Richard: “I need to talk to Christina.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well, she doesn’t need to talk to you. I don’t know what you did. But please leave her alone.”
Prof. Gilcrist starts to close the front door on Richard. And Richard holds out his hand and stops the door from shutting.
Richard: “Please, Prof. Gilcrist! I have to tell her I’m sorry.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well, that’s a start. Do you mean it?”
Richard: “I do!”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Alright. Come into my study and wait. I will see if Christina will see you.”
Richard: “Thank you, Sir!” Richard gushes as he follows Prof. Gilcrist inside the house and back to his study.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Sit there.” He points to a chair–in the corner of the room.
Richard wonders if Prof. Gilcrist and his mother have been talking. Or, if it is a parent thing.
Richard: “Please tell Christina, I’m really sorry. I need to apologize to her in person.” Richard pleads.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Wait here–and don’t get your hopes up.” Prof. Gilcrist intones dryly
Christina’s Daddy walks back to the kitchen where Christina is preparing their dinner. She is having a fight or flight moment. But she just can’t seem to move from the spot where she is standing at the sink–peeling potatoes. Christina looks up.
Christina: “Is he gone, Daddy?” She asks in half hope and in half despair.
Prof. Gilcrist: “No. Richard is in my study and he wants to speak with you–he says, to apologize.”
Christina: “No Daddy. I can’t see him right now.” She won’t say his name, Richard. Because somehow saying his name is too personal.
Prof. Gilcrist: “What do you want me to tell him?”
Christina thinks for a minutes, then realizes that she is probably just a conquest to be won by him, by Richard Thorne, the billionaire.
Christina: “Daddy, Tell him … oh tell him…”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Yes?”
Christina: “Tell him … to have a nice life.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “That’s what you want me to say, Chrissy?” He clarifies. She nods. “Very well.”
As Prof. Gilcrist walks back to his study, Christina realizes that Richard Thorne might not take no for an answer. So she looks around where she can hide and decides to head up the back stairs to her bedroom, leaving the potatoes behind.
Prof. Gilcrist slowly walks into his study and Richard has Christina’s answer even before the Prof. tells him.
Richard: “She won’t see me?”
Prof. Gilcrist: “No. It’s best that you go on home now and leave her be.”
Prof. Gilcrist starts to guide Richard to the front door. And then Richard bolts for the Gilcrist’s kitchen, rightly thinking that was where Christina was. Well, she was there a few minutes ago.
But Richard finds an empty room. There is water boiling on the stove, waiting for the partially peeled potatoes that Christina had left on the counter. But there is no Christina.
Prof. Gilcrist: Not seeing his daughter and guessing where she is, he says. “She won’t see you. Please have the decency to leave her alone.”
Richard: “But I love her!” Richard says loud enough, he hopes, for Christina to hear him from wherever she is hiding.
Christina standing on the back stairs out of sight does hear Richard’s declaration and she cringes. Is it love on his part? She doesn’t know.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well you have a strange way of showing it.”
Richard: Richard jerks his head to look at Christina’s father. “I thought you said she told you nothing?”
Prof. Gilcrist: “I guessed. I told you not to get fresh with my daughter. She is not your plaything. Now leave her be before you break her heart.” Prof. Gilcrist wags his finger right in front of Richard’s face.
Richard: Then Richard says again more softly, more forlornly. “But I love Christina.”
Christina covers her mouth to stifle her sobs at hearing Richard’s plaintive appeal.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well, you’re in the doghouse right now.”
Richard: “But how do I get out of the doghouse?” Richard sighs.
Prof. Gilcrist: “I’d say, stop acting like a dog.” Prof. Gilcrist says pointedly.
Recognizing the consensus of advice from his brother-in-law Frederick and Christina’s father Prof. Gilcrist, Richard nods despondently, but resolutely.
Richard: “Yes sir.”
Prof. Gilcrist walks Richard back to the front hall a second time and he opens the front door.
Richard: “Prof. Gilcrist.” Richard nods.Then Richard reaches in his jacket pocket and he pulls out his sealed note for Christina. “Will you please give Christina this note for me, Sir?” Richard stands forlornly in the doorway [(5) right].
Prof. Gilcrist: “I don’t know if I should. You have rather upset Chrissy, and she doesn’t deserve that.”
Richard: “No, you’re right. Christina doesn’t deserve to be upset. In my note, I apologize to her, nothing more.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Very well.” He takes the note from Richard. “Good bye.”
Richad: “Good …” Prof. Gilcrist shuts the door in Richard’s face. “… bye.”
Few are the times that billionaire Richard Thorne has had his comeuppance since he became an adult. And this is one of those times. Richard heads home to Chicago, eschewing spending an evening of questions from his family. Richard merely texts his brother-in-law to make his apologies. And Frederick surmises that it did not go well for Richard with Christina Gilcrist.
Prof. Gilcrist walks back to the kitchen where Christina has returned to after assuring herself that Richard Thorne had left, after she saw his car drive away. Holding out Richard Thorne’s note to his daughter, he places it on the counter top.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Richard Thorne left this note for you, Chrissy Dear. You can read it or burn it. It’s your choice.”
Christina: “Yes Daddy. Thank you. Dinner will be ready in 30 minutes.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “I’ll be in my study.” He nods and leaves.
Christina warily looks at Richard Thorne’s note. She continues to get dinner ready. But after the potatoes are put on to boil, she sits down to rest on one of the bar stools at the raised counter. Then she looks over at the note again, before snatching it up, opening it, and reading it, with tears in her eyes. After reading the note, Christina weeps more woefully, her teardrops hitting the page and smudging the inked words on the page.
This is Richard’s letter:
My Dearest Christina,
Somewhere between you helping me select a gift for my mother, your slapping me because I insulted you about Elisa’s gift, you helping my niece Elisa when she was so scared, you kissing me senseless in our barn after our sleigh ride Friday night, our lovely time together on Saturday, and you making me dry the dishes today after our Sunday brunch that you made for me with your own hands, I fell in love with you.
I don’t deserve you, my beautiful sweet lady. But I hope that you can forgive me and that you will let me show you that I can be worthy of your love. And I don’t mean only for your physical love. But for me to be worthy as the keeper your heart–as you are the keeper of my heart.
My intentions are honorable and true. I want you to be my wife. For if you can find it in your heart to forgive me for my arrogant assumptions and my boorish behavior, then maybe I am worth redeeming. And I will spend my life trying to be a better man for you.
You are the only lady whom I have ever loved. I am only just beginning to realize that. And my life up to now has been a poor substitute for the glimmer of hope that I have for the life that you and I can create together as husband and wife, and as parents nurturing and loving our future children. Love me, my darling and be my wife? Please? For I am, forever yours.
Love always, Richard
P.S. Just to make sure that you don’t’ know anyone else named Richard, this is Richard Thorne.
Christina did laugh through her tears at Richard’s P.S. Her thinking that it is so like him to puncture a serious moment with humor. Few see that side of him, the boyish side–so ingrained are they in him being Richard Thorne billionaire entrepreneur. Christina just sees the man, Richard. And maybe, there is hope there.
Unlike Richard who tried to contact Christina again Sunday when he went to her home and left his note for her, Christina does not respond to him immediately. She is not trying to play coy, nor is she trying to make him beg. But Christina needs to determine if her heart can withstand being sheltered in Richard’s care–as he said in his note to her, they were the keepers of each others’ hearts.
So Christina takes the metra rail into to Chicago on Monday morning, December 29th, to her job at the Barnette Chicago jewelry store, her still not knowing what the future will bring. And when she arrives at work that day, Richard has couriered over his grand gesture–a large worn tin watering can with a beautiful living purple lilac bush planted in it. Christina thinks that it is charming, though the Barnette Chicago Director Mr. Kline tells her to keep it in the back since it is not upscale enough in his mind. But Richard has guessed Christina’s tastes, and she loves the lilacs. Granted, lilacs are not the usual choice, thinks Christina–roses being the standard romance flower. But then she reads the card from Richard that explains the lilacs meaning, First love [(6) right]. And Christina gathers the blossoms to her and breathes in their heady fragrance. She has not met with Richard yet, but she feels more positive, and is ready to start her day.
Meanwhile, across town, Richard has a meeting mid morning with his financial attorney whom he had contacted last Friday about looking into Christina Gilcrist’s trust accounts and inheritance. It is worse than Richard feared. Of the 50 million dollars that were expected to be in Christina’s trust fund account inherited from her mother, a paltry 1 million dollars remains. It seems that the person who had been the Gilcrist family financial attorney for two decades–a man named Bruce Conroy–had actually been siphoning off funds, embezzling nearly all of Christina’s birthright.
This will be a devastating blow to Christina and her father. For they had been counting on receiving at least some monies in five years time when Christina reached 35 years of age. But that is not to be. And because Conroy is also a financial manager to five other families–for whom Richard and his own financial attorney suspect fraud and embezzlement–they immediately contact the FBI and local authorities–only to be told that the FBI is already looking into Conroy. Richard’s hope is that at least some of Christina’s money can be returned to her–if Conroy has purchased property or luxury items that can be sold–even at a fraction of their worth. And if not, Richard plans to secretly make up the difference for Christina and never let Christina nor her father know that–regardless of whether or not Christina takes him back.
Richard knows that he has to have an emergency meeting with Christina and her father before the news of Conroy’s arrest and charges are made known to the public. So he enlists his mother to bring Prof. Gilcrist into Chicago to his office via her limo. And Richard steels himself to pick up Christina at Barnette Chicago. He wishes that they could have had a private meeting first about their personal relationship, but the authorities have taken that choice out of his hands.
As Richard walks into Barnette Chicago, he spies Christina consulting with a client. Christina looks up and sees Richard, his face is earnest, concerned, not necessarily the picture of a suitor. Richard calls the Director Mr. Kline aside and requests that Christina be relieved of her duties for today, with pay. Richard only says that it is a family matter. And since Richard is a very good client of Barnette Chicago, Mr. Kline agrees, sending another Sales Associate to assist Christina’s client. Christina is a little perturbed when she goes over to see Richard standing politely at another counter.
Christina: “What is this about? You can’t send me love notes and flowers one minute and then order me about the next, you know.”
Richard: He cuts to the chase. “I know that, Christina. This is a different matter. Your father is in my office with my mother. We need to meet with them now!”
Instantly concerned as Richard helps her on with her coat and grabs the lilac bush in the watering can that Mr. Kline insists that they take with them, Christina asks questioningly.
Christina: “What is this about?”
Richard: “It’s private. Let’s get into the limo and I will tell you.”
So Richard ushers Christina into his limo–them sitting side by side but apart, separated by the lilac watering can–as they take the fifteen minute drive to his high rise corporate offices.
Christina: “Well? I’m listening.”
Richard: “Christina, there is no easy way to say this. But your financial attorney Bruce Conroy has just been arrested for fraud and embezzlement by the authorities. When my man reported to me this morning about his findings regarding your trust accounts that we were looking into for you, it seems that the FBI was already one step ahead of us–due to another of Conroy’s clients becoming suspicious and contacting the authorities.”
Christina: “Embezzlement?” Richard nods. “How much of my money is gone?” She asks with trepidation, the color draining from her face.
Richard: “I’m sorry to say, but most of it.” Richard winces. But he feels that she has a right to know. “All but a little over one million dollars that remains.” Richard looks at her forlornly.
Christina’s face falls. The security that she had hoped would be hers and her father’s, even if she had to wait five years for it is gone.
Christina: “49 million dollars? Gone?”
Richard: Richard nods. “Yes. But the authorities are attempting to recover what they can for the victims through sale of Conroy’s considerable personal holdings–no doubt bought with the money he stole from your mother, you, and others.” Christina looks quizzically at Richard for mentioning her mother. “Conroy’s embezzlement goes back decades. Christina, you will get only a percentage of what you are owed, but you might be able to recover at least 25 million dollars when all is said and done.” Richard says encouragingly.
Christina: Closing her eyes, Christina asks despondently. “Does Daddy know yet?”
Richard: “No. The Feds aren’t releasing a press statement until this afternoon. So the morning papers don’t have anything in them yet. That’s why I’m having my mother bring your father into my office in Chicago via her limo this morning. So that we can break the news to him as gently as possible. We know that his health has not been the best.”
Christina: Christina nods.“Richard, I’m afraid of what this news might do to him. These trust funds were made by our grandparents for the benefit of their children and grandchildren. They thought to make us safe. And now, we aren’t safe anymore.”
Putting the lilac plant on the floor of the limo, Richard pulls Christina to him. She is as limp as a rag doll, numbed by what he has told her.
Richard: “Christina, you and your father don’t have to worry, ever.” His words imply commitment, but he has not stated it outright.
Christina: “But Richard, how can we not worry? The money is gone. And what is left isn’t enough to pay the property taxes on Bellhurst, for ten years, let alone, keeping it maintained properly. We need a new roof that will cost at least 100,000 dollars alone.” She begins to weep. “I wanted to restore our home, to like it was when Mommy was alive. Now I feel that we have let her down.”
Richard: “Christina, we will keep your home and do the necessary renovations. And if you want us to live there after we’re married–so your father isn’t alone–we can do that.”
Christina: “Hmm. You’re making assumptions again, Richard.” She smiles wanly.
Richard: “Well, I hoped. And you liked the flowers.” Richard looks at Christina wistfully.
Christina: “And your note, too.” She touches her purse at her side.
Richard: “You brought my note to work with you?” He smiles hopefully.
Christina: “Yes.” Christina flushes with embarrassment. Richard tenderly kisses her forehead.
The limo stops in front of the corporate offices of Thorne Medical Inc.
Richard: “We’re here. Let’s go tell your father.”
Christina nods and she exits the limo. Then she looks up at the very tall sky scraper that houses the Chicago based corporate offices of Thorne Medical Inc.–Christina grasping unequivocally that the man she loves is, indeed, responsible for a vast empire.
Christina: “Will you bring my flowers, please, Richard?” She asks him sheepishly.
Richard: “Certainly.” He smiles and grabs the watering can with the lilac plant out of the limo.
Richard guides Christina through the security checkpoints for Thorne Medical Inc (TMI). She is more than a little shell shocked due to the financial fiasco that is upon her–and doubly so for the extreme security in what seems to be the fortress of TMI. Taking the elevator that is solely for his and his personal assistant’s use to Richard’s top floor executive office suite, Richard and Christina walk through a modern elegant office space of teak wood, glass, and brushed nickel–all proudly made from recycled materials. Stopping at Richard’s Assistant’s desk, Richard asks.
Richard: “Harold, are my mother and Prof. Gilcrist inside with my financial attorney?”
Assistant: “Yes, Mr. Thorne, Sir. They arrived five minutes ago. I served them coffee and tea.”
Richard: “Thank you. We don’t wish to be disturbed.” Richard’s Assistant nods. Then Richard thinks to add. “Harold, This is Miss Christina Gilcrist. She is my ….” Richard stops. Christina hasn’t exactly accepted his proposal. Has he made a proposal? Well he can rectify that.
Christina: Somewhat amused by Richard’s awkwardness, she interjects. “His fiancé. That is, when he asks me properly–and after an appropriate period of courtship.”
Richard: Richard nods sheepishly, but with a broad grin on his face. “What she said.”
Assistant: “Miss Gilcrist.” The assistant nods politely and respectfully.
As they walk into Richard Thorne’s almost building floor sized executive office, his financial attorney Kevin Meacham, his mother Elise Thorne, and Christina’s father Prof. Gilcrist stand.
Prof. Gilcrist: Tired of being told vague statements of urgency, Prof. Gilcrist barks. “What is this about? Christina? Do you know?”
Christina: Christina winces. “Yes, Daddy. Richard told me on the way over.”
Christina goes to her father’s side and sits with him on one set of couches facing each other, holding his hand in her hand. Richard and his mother sit on the opposite couch. And Richard’s financial attorney Kevin Meacham sits in a chair at the end. Introductions are made. Then everyone looks at everyone else.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Well?”
Christina: “Richard?” She looks across the wood and glass coffee table to Richard.
Richard: “Kevin, please give us the update of what you have found out so far.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Found out? What about?”
Christina: “Daddy, please just listen. And no matter what Mr. Meacham says, it’s going to be alright.”
Prof. Gilcrist tightens his grip on his daughter’s hand and braces himself.
Then Kevin Meacham proceeds to explain everything about Bruce Conroy’s fraud and embezzlement of Christina’s and Prof. Gilcrist’s trust accounts–as well as the other five families that were swindled–and that the culprit, Bruce Conroy, is already in federal custody, with a press release going out this afternoon.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Why is this a federal matter?”
Kevin: “Prof. Gilcrist, since the embezzlement occurred in multiple states–and with funds being transferred across state lines–it came under the FBI’s jurisdiction.
Prof. Gilcrist: “How can this happen? You said Conroy’s crimes have stretched back two decades.”
Kevin: “Prof. Gilcrist, privately held funds such as yours and Miss Gilcrists are not subject to the same stringent reporting and accountability guidelines as are public funds. It was only through another trust recipient becoming suspicious and alerting the authorities that this has come out now.”
Richard: Whispering to his mother, Richard assures her. “And I’ve directed Kevin to diversify our private personal trust accounts for family members immediately–in order to prevent this happening to us.”
Elise: “Good.” She sighs relievedly.
Prof. Gilcrist: “And almost all of our money is gone?’ He asks wanly as he slumps back on the couch.
Kevin: “Technically yes. But the authorities hope to recover some portion of it for the victims through sale of Conroy’s assets–which are considerable.”
Richard: “Prof. Gilcrist, As I told Christina on the way over, Kevin thinks that the feds might be able to retrieve.about 25 million dollars of your and Christina’s money that Conroy embezzled.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “The bastard!”
Christina:”Daddy, please!” She chides her father for his language.
Prof. Gilcrist: “They should make Conroy pay for deceiving all of us. We trusted him.”
Kevin: “They will make him pay, Sir. This isn’t an instance where Conroy can hide his assets under other family members’ names and get away with it. All extended Conroy family members have agreed to come forward and let the Feds have a forensic accountant review their finances in exchange for lessened or no prosecution.”
Christina: “But what about Conroy’s wife, Melanie and her young children? I can’t believe that she was aware of what her husband was doing? They have only been married for ten years.”
Kevin: “It seems not– regarding her lack of culpability. But she will have to relinquish all the jewelry he bought her in the last decade–as well as, land holdings, luxury items like cars, etc.”
Christina: “She won’t lose her home, will she? The children are quite young, and the youngest is still in diapers. This isn’t their fault. But they will have to bear the shame of their father’s misdeeds–probably all of their lives.”
Richard looks upon Christina with total adoration for her compassion for Conroy’s family.
Kevin: “Your sympathy does you credit, Miss Gilcrist. The federal government is barred from evicting a family from their home in cases like these. But they will have to move out of their mansion eventually, since it and its contents will be sold at auction. Frankly, I doubt that they would want to stay there, given the tainted associations that it now harbors.”
Christina looks pleadingly at Richard from across the table.
Richard: “Christina, we will make certain that Mrs. Conroy and her children are provided for.” And Richard thinks, even if he has to do it out of his own pocket. He will not have Christina feeling guilty over something that isn’t her fault.
Kevin: “And there is one last concern.” Kevin looks over at Richard, who nods.
Prof.Gilcrist: “What now? They’ve taken everything.” He huffs.
Richard: “Prof. Gilcrist, though the federal government tries to protect the identities of the victims in cases like these, the press is relentless with Freedom of Information Act [(7)] applications. So it is likely to come out that you and your daughter are victims. And of course, you will have to submit to an interview by the FBI and possibly give testimony in court when the time comes.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “So? I’m not ashamed? We are the injured parties.”
Richard: “Yes, but your safety could be compromised by other criminals claiming that they could help you retrieve your funds and prey upon you.” Christina winces. “So with your permission, I will direct my security Chief to review your home for possible weak points and to also suggest ways to strengthen your personal security when you are outside of your home.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Why would you do this for us, Richard?” He asks warily. “Are you trying to make Christina feel beholden to you? She’s a good girl.”
Richard: “No Sir! I would never be so unscrupulous and underhanded as to try to gain Christina’s affections that way. I want her to love me as I love her, because we are meant to be together. Not because she thinks that she owes me something.”
Elise: Quiet up til now, Elise Thorne hugs her son Richard. “Finally! You’re going to give me a daughter-in-law! And Christina is wonderful! Welcome to the family, Christina Dear.” Elise reaches across the coffee table and squeezes Christina’s hand.”
Christina; “Thank you, Mrs…. Elise. But Richard hasn’t actually proposed properly yet.” Christina tilts her head at Richard, then smiles.
Prof. Gilcrist: “Nor has he asked my permission, I might add.” Prof. Gilcrist wags his finger at Richard who nods sheepishly.
Richard: “All true! But I’m hopeful.” Richard smiles. “After an appropriate period of courtship–as Christina requires.”
Prof. Gilcrist: “Hmm! Well, that’s alright then.”
There is still much that is, as yet, uncertain in the upcoming lives of Richard Thorne and Christina Gilcrist. However, time will tell whether lilacs are the true harbinger of their future happiness.
To be continued with Chapter 8
“A Magnificent Love”, Ch. 7 References for Wattpad, December 29, 2014, Gratiana Lovelace (Post #682)
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) Christina Image is that of British Actress Haley Atwell found at http://thefilmstage.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/hayley-atwell-fruhstucksfernsehen-berlin-4.jpg
3) Richard Thorne is Richard Armitage in Spooks season 8, epi2 pix 211 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode2/slides/ep2_211.JPG
4) Image for Frederick Burke, Edie’s husband, is actor John Slattery; image found here at http://www.businessinsider.com/mad-men-cast-in-real-life-2013-4?op=1
5) Richard Thorne in leather jacket is Richard Armitage as John Porter in 2010’s StrikeBack1 found at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode2HD/ep2hd_056.jpg
6) According to the Meaning of Flowers, a gift of lilacs mean, First Love, as found at http://aboutflowers.com/flower-a-plant-information-and-photos/meanings-of-flowers.html; and the Purple Lilac bush planted in a tin watering can was found at http://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/46/18/38/4618383a40da229d63e1fd9450ef3af9.jpg
7) For general information about the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_Information_Act_%28United_States%29