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: Benedict asked Laura to lunch with him again and she accepted. Then afterward, she helped him pick out two coffeemakers for his apartment. A petite elderly lady mistook them for being a couple, and Benedict wisely chose not to refute it when he saw Laura’s inquisitive eyebrow. Benedict’s and Laura’s nascent relationship might not be a love at first sight kind of passionately tempestuous romantic relationship—at least, not yet. But rather, Benedict and Laura are experiencing a slowly and carefully developing feelings and regard for each other–and they are something to build upon.
“Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 07 (PG-13): A Traction Problem
Laura calls Connie the next Friday (April 12th) to let her know that she might be late on Saturday (April 13th) because she has to take her car in for an oil change and such. And, Saturday is the only day that worked for Laura’s schedule. So, Connie suggests that Laura see if Benedict can pick her up at the car place and bring her to volunteering. Then Benedict can take her back to get her car after their lunch together.
Connie is making an assumption about lunch. Laura tells her that she doesn’t know whether she and Benedict will have lunch again. And that he just needed help last week buying coffeemakers. But, Connie prevails upon Laura to call Benedict for a ride because Connie knows how diligent Laura is about her volunteering. Benedict eagerly agrees to pick Laura up and he meets her at the Thornton’s Automotive car repair place before heading together to their volunteer stint at the children’s group home.
Benedict drives up to the side of the Thornton’s Automotive car repair’ solid looking brick building where he sees Laura and her car in the garage bay.
Benedict: “Hi Laura.” He waves in that British way of keeping his arm stationary and just swiveling his wrist twice. Then he smiles warmly at her. Benedict has looked forward to seeing Laura all week–and his interest in her shows in the smile on his face.
Laura: “Hi Benedict.” Laura smiles warmly [(2) below]and waves back at him. Laura is pleased that Benedict is smiling more than scowling at her these days. And though Benedict did not try to contact her since she saw him last—which would have indicated his possible attraction to her—she thinks that his being British and a minister probably slows down his dating moves. Afterall, she has heard that British men don’t pounce, they envelop you, in terms of their dating style. And Laura is ready to be enveloped—to a degree.
Car mechanic1: “Miss? As I was saying, you might want to also rotate your tires while you’re at it.” One reason that Laura takes her car to be repaired at Thornton’s Automotive is because her forty year old self is addressed as Miss by the seventy year old mechanic. Whereas everywhere else, she is usually maamed.
Laura: “I don’t know.” She hesitates. “How much is that?”
Car mechanic1: “Twenty dollars. Did you want to ask your husband about it?” Now here is the conundrum. Though the mechanic thinks that Laura is married, he still addresses her as Miss. Perhaps it is the age difference, in that the mechanic is older than she is—so Laura is a Miss to him, rather than a maam.
Laura: “My husband?” She looks at the mechanic quizzically. “I don’t have a husband.”
Car mechanic1: “Well, your boyfriend then.” He says pointing to Benedict sitting twenty yards away in his car.
Benedict can not hear Laura’s conversation with the mechanic—though Benedict can see the mechanic gesticulating in Benedict’s general direction.
Laura: “Oh! That’s not my boyfriend, either.” She shakes her head. “We’re just friends.” She smiles. “Oh, go ahead and do the tire rotation, too. We’ll be back around 11:45am this morning after our volunteer shift.”
Car mechanic1: “Very good.” The mechanic nods his head, wipes his black car greasy hands on a white cloth that he then sticks into the pocket of his work overalls.
Laura walks over to Benedict’s car and he politely gets out of his car, he swiftly walks around to the passenger side, and he holds her car door open for her again—after first making certain that she is not leaning on the door. Benedict does not want to cause her to tumble forward like the last time–either into or out of a car again –were he to inadvertently pull the door away from her.
Laura: “Uh, thanks Benedict.” She smiles thinking that his well mannered politeness is gentlemanly etiquette out of another era–but in a good way.
And Laura notices that Benedict has seemingly relaxed of his dress code from his first day volunteering suit sans tie, to him wearing a sweater with tie on his second day, to today him wearing a sexy leather jacket over an open collared shirt. He looks very handsome and then some. Laura is wearing a white cotton lightweight Spring blouse with three quarter inch sleeves and a modest round neck, that has a band of white eyelet lace trimming the hem of her blouse. She is going for feminine, but not too frilly. It seems that both Benedict and Laura are dressing themselves with an eye to pleasing the other.
Laura. looks over at the car mechanic who nods at her knowingly and waves at her as he returns to his work.
Benedict slides into the driver’s side seat on the split bench next to Laura—no uncomfortable bucket seats in Benedict’s fifteen year old 2002 Lincoln Town Car [(3)]. He bought it new back then, in part, with graduation gift money from his family. His Grandmama on his father’s side was particularly pleased for her grandson Benedict to choose the clergy as his profession—and she wanted to make certain that he maintained their family’s high standards with his automobile.
And seeing the car mechanic wave at Laura, Benedict buckles himself in while he turns to her and asks.
Benedict: “Laura, was there something else that you needed to tell the mechanic?”
Laura: “What?” Laura looks up at Benedict distractedly–since his handsome face is so close to hers—despite this being rather a large sedan car. “Oh no. He just made the assumption that …” Laura stops herself from telling Benedict that the mechanic had also thought Benedict was her husband or boyfriend. “… uh, that I would want my tires rotated.”
Benedict: “Oh! Yes, it’s a good idea to do that every six thousand miles or so to even out the tread wear on your tires.” He says practically.
Laura: “That’s what I’ve heard.” She says nodding her head and smiling.
Benedict: “I’ve had this beauty so long because I make certain that she gets the car maintenance that she needs.”
Laura: “Yes, it’s a very nice car.” Though she distractedly wonders how he manages to parallel park such a long car. “By the way Benedict, thanks for picking me up. I hope this isn’t inconveniencing you.” Laura winces apologetically as they pull up to a red light.
Benedict: “Not at all. I’m at your disposal.” He smiles graciously. There is a bit of an awkward silence as Benedict wonders if he seems too forward to Laura—or worse yet, that he is gushing. Then Benedict looks over at Laura as she looks in her purse and he asks her a bit shyly. “Laura, shall we do lunch again after our morning volunteering?”
Laura: “Sure. That will be nice, Benedict.”
Laura replies distractedly while looking for her lip gloss in her purse because her lips feel dry. Benedict smiles warmly at her–longingly at her–but she doesn’t see him do that. When Laura finds the lip tube, she rolls it over her lips a few times, then she puckers up her lips to spread out the moisturizing effect. She does this looking in the car visor mirror above her. Just then, the car behind them honks. The light is green and Benedict hasn’t driven forward yet.
Benedict: “Uhhh! Excuse me.” He says distractedly because he has been closely watching Laura put on her lip gloss and pucker her lips.
Laura: Laura looks quizzically over at Benedict, and she realizes that he is staring at her. “Is everything alright, Benedict?”
Benedict: “Everything is fine.” He says sheepishly. Get a grip old man, he thinks to himself. Benedict pulls the car forward into traffic again–now looking forward and focusing on the road now.
Laura: “Benedict, did you need to moisturize your lips?” Laura says puckering her lips again and waving the lip gloss tube at him? “Though, I suppose you don’t want my germs.” She laughs.
Benedict: “Not at all. I’m fine, thank you, Laura.” He smiles benignly. Although Benedict thinks that were he to kiss Laura right now–assuming that he wasn’t driving at the time and that Laura wanted to kiss him–then he would get two benefits, moistened lips and a kiss. But, he tries not to betray his thoughts to Laura and he faces forward as he continues to drive them to the group home.
Laura notices Benedict’s serious expression as he concentrates upon his driving. His hands are gripping the steering wheel so tightly that his skin looks almost white. And she thinks that she might have breached his personal boundaries by offering him the use of her lip moistening tube. Normally, she would not share her lip moisturizer—other people’s germs and all. But Laura wasn’t worrying about Benedict’s germs. Hmmm.
Benedict pulls up to the Chicago Children’s Group Home where he and Laura volunteer as tutors and mentors. And parks his car. He starts to get out of his car so that he may walk around to open Laura’s car door, but Laura has a problem and she taps his back right shoulder blade.
Laura: “Oh no! Benedict, I can’t seem to get out of my seat belt. I think the lacy hem of my blouse has gotten caught in the buckle.” Laura is wearing a lightweight white cotton blouse with three quarter sleeves and its blouse hem is trimmed in a white eyelet lace band [(4) below]. It is not that the blouse is expensive–and she worries damaging it on that score–but that Laura likes her blouse, and that the lacy blouse makes her feel feminine.
Benedict: “Oh, I am so sorry.” Benedict says solicitously while turning toward her again. “Let’s see if we can get the buckle undone without damaging your blouse.”
Benedict leans down between them since the buckle is on Laura’s left side, the one facing him. Laura leans down also and they almost knock heads.
Laura: “Oh sorry.” She says leaning her head back.
Benedict: “Now, I’ll try to be gentle … so your blouse doesn’t tear.” Benedict says as he tries to open the buckle and free her blouse. “Uhhh!” He grunts as he tugs at her blouse. “This is really stuck.” He looks at the buckle with consternation. “Laura, I don’t suppose you’re wearing two blouses and you can just take this one off? “ Benedict asks offhandedly while diligently looking at and trying to open the seatbelt buckle.
Laura: “Benedict, does it look like I’m wearing two blouses?” Laura looks a bit perturbed at the top of Benedict’s full head of brown hair.
Benedict: Looking up at Laura’s face, Benedict’s face is just inches from Laura’s full round breasts–since he is leaning down to work on the seat belt buckle. “Uh, no.” Benedict says distractedly and he quickly looks down at the buckle again.
Laura: Feeling that Benedict doesn’t have enough room to work–meaning Laura feels that his head is too close to her torso, her breasts–Laura tries to lean away from him. “How’s that? Does that give you more room to work?” She blushes looking at him with her left arm now demurely in front of her breasts.
Benedict: “Almost. But don’t pull away too far or you might rip the lacy hem on your blouse.” Benedict says working diligently to free her blouse–so he doesn’t focus on the fact that his face is only a few tantalizing inches from Laura’s lovely breasts. Well, maybe he does, a little bit. And he thinks, that this is the kind of carnal temptation that ministers are supposed to warn their parishioners about. Yet, the devil is in the details.
Benedict works a few more minutes, then he opens the buckle and he pulls Laura’s blouse free. However, Benedict pulling Laura’s blouse fabric hem free from the buckle has the effect of lifting its hem up and Benedict gets a glimpse of the bare skin of Laura’s left side.
Lips, breasts, bare skin–the triple threat causes Benedict to become stirred by Laura, to use a euphemism. So, Benedict quickly grabs his jacket out of the back seat and lays it across his lap as if he were bringing his jacket with him on his volunteer stint.
Laura: “Thanks Benedict.” Laura smiles at him warmly not realizing that Benedict is having a sensual response to her.
Benedict: “Uh, you’re welcome, Laura.” He says sheepishly while he blushes. “You go ahead of me. I need to check something on my cell phone.”
Laura: “Sure Benedict. Thanks for the ride.” She smiles warmly at him, then she turns toward the car door and opens it. “I’ll see you at lunch time.” Laura waves at Benedict as she exits his car.
Benedict [(5) below] nods and caringly watches Laura walk gracefully into the building. Talking to himself now that Laura is out of earshot, Benedict lays his head back on the driver seat head rest, closes his eyes, and says to himself out loud.
Benedict: “Get a grip, old man! She’s just a woman.”
But Laura is a very nice woman whom Benedict thinks more and more about as more than just a friend–if he were to admit it. Though Benedict doesn’t feel that Laura has given him any indication that she thinks about him in any way other than as a friend. But then, Benedict thinks, he hasn’t really indicated to Laura that he likes her romantically either. He’s too British for that, Benedict thinks–now labeling himself. Benedict takes about five minutes until he feels he’s ready to exit his car–all the while pretending to check his cell phone to maintain his cover story, while evidence of his arousal diminishes.
After their morning volunteer stint at the Chicago Children’s Group Home facility, Benedict drives Laura back to Thornton Automotive to pick up and pay for her car around 12noon. But, Laura’s car isn’t ready yet. And there is a different mechanic on duty. Benedict sees Laura taking more time than he thinks it should take to pay for her car, so Benedict gets out of his car and walks over to Laura and this other mechanic.
Benedict: “Is there a problem?” Benedict asks in a respectful but firm voice to the mechanic.
Laura: “Oh Benedict, I’m so sorry.” Laura says looking up at Benedict. “But they said my car won’t be ready until later this afternoon. It seems they found a traction problem and are sending for a part that they have to pick up across town.”
2nd car mechanic: “Yes sir. As I was telling your wife …”
Benedict and Laura: “We’re not married.” They say quickly and in inadvertent unison–each a little embarrassed by the mixup about their relationship status–again.
2nd car mechanic: “Sorry, your girlfriend?”
Laura: “I’m not his girl friend, either.” Laura says sheepishly. “We’re just friends.”
Benedict notices that Laura quickly disavows a romantic connection to him and he wonders if that reflects her attitude toward him in general–if she’s not interested in him romantically? Or, is Laura just clarifying the point for the mechanic, Benedict wonders?
Benedict: “Yes, I’m just helping out my friend this week, …” Benedict says gesturing to Laura. “… since she helped me out last week.” Benedict says factually, though he’s not sure why he’s bothering to explain it in such detail to the mechanic. Or, is Benedict saying this out loud for Laura’s sake, he wonders?
2nd car mechanic: “Whatever.” He rolls his eyes. “But we won’t have your car ready until close to closing time around 5:00pm.”
Laura: “Crap! Ooh sorry, Benedict.” She says apologetically while looking over at Benedict. “I don’t normally use bad language.” And certainly not around a minister, she thinks.
Benedict: “Don’t worry about it.” He says dismissively waving his hand at her. “It is crap.” He says the word to put her at her ease. “Laura, let’s go to lunch and then figure out getting you back here later.”
Laura: “Okay.” She agrees with Benedict. Then turning to the mechanic, Laura clarifies that she wants the mechanic to keep her in the loop about her car’s repairs. “You have my cell phone number in case there are repair changes and prices that you need to tell me about.
2nd car mechanic: “Yes miss.”
So, Benedict and Laura drive away in his car for their third weekly lunch together—and with them needing to figure out what they will be doing between now and when Laura’s car will be ready to be picked up.
To be continued with Chapter 08
References for “Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 07, August 06, 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] http://www.flickr.com/photos/47283811@N06/ ;
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) Laura Leicester image is Jennifer Ehle at 2011 Luncheon for The Kings Speech Sep2813 at JEblogspot
3) According to Edmunds the 2002 Lincoln Town Car had split bench seating in the front seat, not bucket seats. For more, please visit https://www.edmunds.com/lincoln/town-car/2002/features-specs/
4) A lovely banding of white eyelet lace to represent the lacey edged hem of Laura’s blouse was found at http://www.sewbizfabrics.com/Lace-P/LP-129w.jpg
5) Benedict Somerset is Richard Armitage as Daniel MIller closeup in Berlin Station 2016 epi sitting in car profile_Nov1616viaCyn_Grati–sized-clr2
Wattpad Ch. 07 story link:
Previous Ch. 06 blog link, with embedded illustrations: