Author’s Dramatic Content Note: I write romantic love stories for adults, aged 18 and older. So most of the chapters will be PG-13 due to mature themes (M), or dramatic moments (D). And some of the chapters have romantic and sensual, but not explicit, love scenes that I will label as (L). So 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.
Additional Disclaimer: The Wiki and other reference links that I cite contain general information merely to allude to a place, person, concept/theory/belief, history, or artifact, etc. This story is a work of fiction, and people and their thoughts and actions are figments of my imagination and should not be taken as real or as fact. And though the general backgrounds of the characters and the story’s contextual setting involve mentions of the Christian religion—with an Anglican/Episcopal focus—this story is a romance, not a religious tract.
[And from time to time, I will illustrate my story with my dream cast of: Richard Armitage as Prof. Benedict Somerset, Jennifer Ehle as Laura Leicester, Loretta Devine as Connie Velasquez, and others as noted.]
Author’s recap from the previous chapter: After Benedict’s first Saturday, March 29th volunteer stint at the Chicago Children’s Group Home, Benedict and Laura find common ground and a way to understand each other over lunch at Pritzker’s Deli. The food and conversation were good. And the games of pool they engaged in at the restaurant’s bar/tavern section was fun—even if Laura trounced Benedict in all three games. Benedict was enjoying himself, allowing himself to have fun. And Laura was beginning to let in Benedict, at least as a friend.
“Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 05: Dreaming about love
When Benedict returns Laura to her car parked at the Chicago Children’s Group Home after their lovely first lunch together, he steps out of his car and walks around it to open Laura’s door just as she opens the car door and begins to stand up.
Benedict: “Allow me.” Benedict smiles as he opens the car door wider, not realizing that Laura was slightly leaning on the door for support.
So Laura loses her balance and tumbles forward, but Benedict catches her and helps her to regain her balance and stand up. Then he removes his hands from her upper arms—but keeps them hovering there in case she needs further steadying.
Laura: “Gosh! You startled me, Benedict.” He rather looks at me as if I should understand why he yanked the door open on me.
Embarrassed by her own clumsiness—and perhaps, by something else, Laura looks up as she feels herself being steadied and held in front of Benedict. The all too brief moment of Benedict’s large hands and strong arms steadying her as he lifts her up to stand in front of him gives them both a slight tingle of awareness.
Benedict: “My apologies, Laura. Old habit—opening a lady’s door for her.” I sheepishly shrug my shoulders– with an embarrassed smile, I am certain. My parents’ life lessons about courtesy and gentlemanly behavior are ingrained within me. Though I hope that I haven’t offended her—should she view my actions as condescending, which is not my intent at all.
Laura: “That’s alright, Benedict. No harm done.” Except to my pride. He must think that I’m a graceless dolt. “ Well, we’ll see you next Saturday?” I wave as I walk the few steps toward my waiting car. But I realize that I am not alone.
Benedict: “I look forward to it.” I nod as walk with Laura to her car and then I stand to the side of her car door. She looks at me with the curiosity one has for a museum oddity. Not that I am an oddity, nor even, museum quality. I am only forty-five years old.
And I think better of holding open Laura’s car door after she unlocks it. I wouldn’t want Laura to take another tumble. Though she was rather adorably embarrassed by her loss of balance. In truth, I am embarrassed as well–for my being the cause of it. Then seeing her continuing to gaze at me with a facial expression that I can’t quite decipher—whether it is illustrative of her being interested in me, curious again, or annoyed, I cannot tell. I have not had to discern the inner workings of a woman’s mind—in an almost dating that woman sense—in over fifteen years. So I am quite past being rusty at it, as some might say.
And though my interest and curiosity about Laura in no way involves annoyance—well, not anymore–I realize that I had best not press my luck with her today. We had a pleasant time over lunch and playing pool—she trounced me. And a parking lot is not a place for a first hug—and a first kiss would be several dates beyond that, in my mind. Though it has been so long since I kissed any woman in a romantic way, that I am certain that I have forgotten how. Let alone am I conversant with what women expect of men almost maybe dating them.
I wave at Laura and walk back to my car, wincing for my awkwardness. Though my only real dating experiences before were with my long ago girlfriend Gretchen—and we had rather skipped a few courtship steps as our relationship deepened very quickly into us being lovers. And it ended just as quickly two years later.
So this time, if Laura and I are headed toward a relationship that is more than just friends—and I am amenable to exploring that possibility–I will take it slowly with her. Apart from my needing to think about my reputation as a professor and a minister, I also do not want to get my hopes up for a lasting relationship again, only to be cast aside. My heart—untutored and unused as it is—might not recover again.
When I arrive home, I set my car and apartment keys in the wooden bowl on my small foyer entranceway’s walnut finish short cabinet underneath a long oval mirror in a gold painted but otherwise unornamented sleekly modern frame. The mirror and cabinet were left by the previous tenant, a married couple. So I imagine that the wife was the one who selected the items. I do not think I would have made this particular decorating choice.
But after living with the mirror and cabinet for a year and a half, I find that I like them as complementary features at the entrance to my apartment home. In fact, they remind me of family home in England in some ways—my parents having created a warm and loving home for us to grow up in. And my foyer’s mirror and cabinet lend a cheer to the foyer of my apartment that is lacking in the rest of my functional furniture choices, with no wall decorations to speak of and mostly muted colors of brown and grey.
I walk to the center of my great room—which is a rather small sitting room at 12 feet by 15 feet for such a lofty label, but there you have it. And I really look at my surroundings. I will not view them depressing, but certainly not inspiring—let alone warm and cozy. Perhaps my usual dry demeanor and somber mood is influenced by more than by my vocation as a professor of theology and minister. So perhaps, I think if I let a little more cheer into my well ordered, tidy, and boring life—starting with my apartment’s decor, and maybe with a certain person whose name is Laura—I might find a measure of happiness, rather than merely existing as I have been, I realize. Good Lord! My thoughts seem maudlin, even to me.
But I shower and get into my sweats to sleep in and feel a bit better. And after I eat a bite of dinner from a nutritious but lackluster microwaved meal, I open a bottle of wine, pouring myself one glass. It is evening. So it is not shocking for me to be having a drink alone as I continue to ruminate about my life. Yet so unaccustomed am I to having alcohol in my system—coupled with the strains of the day in my being obtusely awkward with Laura at first—fatigue overtakes me and I head to my bed and fall asleep [(2) below] at only 9 o’clock in the evening, dreaming about Laura.
Laura Leicester. She has such a lyrical name—and her last name is the same as the city near where I grew up. And Laura is a beauty [(3) below] with her winning smile, silky hair, and womanly curvy body—all for which I will have to do extra prayers for my noticing her in that way. Why some man has not already claimed her is puzzling to me. My single status is understandable, given my sometimes awkward and prickly nature. But Laura, she actually tries to be cheerful and kind with people. And I feel like such a dullard that I was less than charming when we first met early this morning. She was not the problem with our stilted miscommunications, I was. And I am not to proud to admit that to myself.
But the day improved with Laura and I having lunch together. And if it had not been our first activity together—I am not certain that I would call our lunch a date since we each paid our own way—we might have continued our conversations back at one of our apartments. Not to do any inappropriate making out, it is too soon. Though it does beg the question as to what is considered appropriate making out. And perhaps, we would have played a board game like Scrabble as we chatted. That is, if Laura likes board games, or even cards, to break the ice. My family back in England are all avid table games players—and we are very competitive, too. But it is all in good fun.
Fun! What my 6 year old nephew Caleb wants me to be more of. His assessment of me last Christmas was something I needed to here. And if the charming and vivacious Laura is someone whom I want to cultivate a friendship with—and perhaps more—then being fun and having fun, with Laura, will be a shared delight.
Of course, such an effusively emotional word as delight makes me think of my being romantic with Laura at some point in the future. Not making out, per se—not yet, anyway—but tenderly respectful. When I held onto her upper arms today to keep her from falling out of my car, I realized how good it felt just to touch another human being. And though I am a man of 45 years, I still think that getting to hold Laura’s hand in mine, feeling its softness, comparing her hand’s small size to my own larger hand, interlocking our fingers, and then gently and slowly rubbing my thumb along the palm of her hand, feeling her tremble slightly—or am I the one trembling—would be heaven.
Then I would bring Laura’s hand to my lips and softly kiss her knuckles. She gasps—which I take to mean that she is not wholly impervious to my limited charm. And since she does not pull away, then I would turn her hand over and kiss the center of her palm. And she reflexively slightly closes her fingers around my cheek, stroking me while I am kissing her hand.
Then with the both of us fatigued, Laura would lean against my side as we sit upon my couch. My arms circle her in my embrace and I bring her hand that has so captivated me to my lips once more, before I place her palm flat upon my chest, over my heart. Then we both doze off contentedly while cuddling together.
Then somewhere in my own haze of sleeping in bed, I hear a tinkling noise that awakens me. I look down to see if my dreams of Laura were reality, but sadly, I am merely clutching a bed pillow to my side. The tinkling alarm sound goes off again, and I swipe it off on my cell phone. I will take my vitamins tomorrow—eschewing them today as their punishment for waking me from a perfectly lovely tenderly romantic dream about Laura. So, I close my eyes again to sleep. And maybe if I am lucky, I will dream of Laura again
I wave at Benedict as he heads back to his car after he returned me to my car after our lovely lunch. Then I drive away thinking about how today has gone. At first, we did not get on at all all with each other. He seemed rather stodgy to me–at first. But later at lunch and we got a little bit of food into him, Benedict warmed up and became quite cordial. So maybe, his ill humors this morning were due to hunger.
And Benedict’s gentlemanly courtesies to me—with him holding the car door open and all–seem rather quaint and charming. He is old worldly in his air and manners. That is not necessarily a bad thing. And besides, we are merely colleague volunteers, finding common ground. I generally like people, despite my abysmal experience with men. Well, with one man—my former husband. And I know that I shouldn’t stereotype all men as being unfaithful jerks.
But I had hurt for a long time during and after my divorce. I had loved my husband. And I had thought that he had loved me. But it was obviously not the case—given his mistress and all. I should have guessed that with his charming rakish personality, that my husband wouldn’t be content with being married, and having only one woman adore him. And due to my divorce, I have pretty much steered clear of men in a dating/romantic sense for the past five years.
And then, when the fates place someone like Benedict Somerset in my path, I have to notice and acknowledge that my withdrawal from considering a future romantic relationship won’t work anymore. I don’t want to be alone anymore. And maybe Benedict and I can not be alone, together. And despite Benedict being much too young and handsome to behave as curmudgeonly as he does, he was surprisingly good at it. Benedict was definitely grumpy this morning—before lunch. But then, he warmed up a bit as we ate. And when he smiles, he actually looks very charming and handsome. Not like my ex-husband charming, but in Benedict’s own sweet awkward way of being charming.
And though I wish that I had been more graceful getting out of his car when he pulled the door away from me so suddenly, he did catch me and prevented me from falling and hurting myself. He seemed to do it instinctively, without having to think about it. As if watching out for others well-being comes naturally to him. Frankly, Benedict’s kind of reserved male personality is one that intrigues me. I don’t know if I’m ready to date him, or anyone. But I would like to get to know Benedict more.
As I go to sleep this Saturday night after my first lunch with Benedict, I bring the extra long bed body pillow into my arms as I also wrap my lower legs around it. And I fall asleep. The pillow is comforting to me, as if I were not alone. And yet as I dream tonight, the pillow is no longer soft, but hard and muscular. And I am sleeping wrapped inside Benedict Somerset’s strong arms. I do not sense that we are lovers in my dream—especially since we are each wearing not particularly romantic comfy clothes, and I am under the covers and he is outside of the covers. Yet there is something sweetly romantic about my sharing a bed pillow with him.
Then I cuddle with him and lay my head upon Benedict’s chest. My nose wrinkles for being tickled by Benedict’s modest chest hair peeking out from his athletic t-shirt in my dream. And though it is only in my dream, I am glad that Benedict’s chest is neither too hairy, nor waxed. He is just right. I stretch my face upward and cuddle into his neck, breathing in his scent of Old Spice, or something similarly masculine and traditional. Benedict’s arms pull me closer and he tenderly kisses my forehead in his sleep, then nestles his chin atop my head.
Our bodies have an unbroken contact with each other from head to toe—but for the sheets and blankets separating us. Yet, I can still feel his body’s warmth through the many layers of bed linens. I feel safe and protected while I am sleeping wrapped in Benedict’s arms, intuitively knowing that Benedict will always have my best interests at heart. And that, Benedict will never betray me, as my ex-husband did.
I am not certain what my romantic, but still rather chaste, dream involving Benedict symbolizes for our future—Benedict’s and mine. But it is something that I look forward to finding out as I slip into a deeper sleep with a hopeful smile on my face.
For Benedict and for Laura, they are nascently exploring whether a friendship relationship—or even a romantic one—might be possible for them. Their dreams each wishing for a greater tenderness between them that a romantic relationship built upon love would beget. So their next interactions while awake will help determine whether their dreams may become their reality.
To be continued with Chapter 06
References for “Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 05,
July 23, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace
1) The Somerset: A Time for Love” story cover is a composite of two main images:
a) Background–Creative Commons-licensed photo by Flickr user AlicePopkorn2]
b) Prof. Benedict Somerset image is of Richard Armitage (2012 Promo by Roberta Ascroft, pix35) found at richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Richard/Promos/2012Promo/album/RobertAscroft-35.jpg
c) a crucifix image is from MS Office Clip Art;
2) Benedict Somerset sleeping3 is Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks 8 (2009), epi5, pix30 found at
3) Laura Leicester image is of Jennifer Ehle in 2012 (background manip) http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1425518848/nm0000383 and http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjI4MzMwMzg5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI4MTIyNw@@._V1._SX640_SY897_.jpg
Wattpad Ch. 05 story link:
Previous Ch. 04 blog link, with embedded illustrations: