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 shared their third Saturday volunteering stint together by Benedict returning the favor and picking up Laura at the car repair place—with the mechanics also assuming that Laura and Benedict are a couple—only to find out later that they haven’t fixed her car yet. 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.
“Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 08 (PG-13, L): More than a Feeling
Each of the last two weeks, Benedict and Laura have eaten at a different restaurant and a different variety of ethnic food. So, this week they go to a Chinese buffet. The beauty of a buffet style restaurant is that you get to choose what you want in the portion sizes that you want. And for a nibbler like Laura, she enjoys the buffet immensely—her dabbing a small spoonful of unknown foods amongst the favorites on her plate. Unlike Benedict who would prefer to order his meal and eat it after the server brings it to him. But Benedict is being agreeable about their restaurant choice this week because he likes Laura more than he dislikes the buffet format. So after making their food selections from the myriad options, they sit down to eat and chat.
Laura still feels quite embarrassed about her car not being repaired and ready to be picked up until 5:00pm—5 hours from now—with Benedict very obligingly offering to wait around and then take her back to the car repair place when her car is fixed.
Laura: “Benedict, I’m really sorry about the whole car repairs taking longer at the shop thing today.” Laura says sincerely while wincing apologetically. “After lunch, you can just drop me at my apartment and I’ll get a taxi back later to pick up my car.”
Benedict: “Certainly not! I will not abandon you.” Benedict realizes that he might have seemed a bit strident there. So he rephrases. “Laura, I will be more than happy to take you back for your car later.” He says chivalrously. “It’s the least I can do after you helped me last week.”
Laura: “Benedict, I don’t think my helping you select a coffeemaker last week—which took all of 30 minutes–equates to you needing to ferry me around all afternoon waiting to collect my repaired car.” Laura tilts her head sheepishly as she looks at him pointedly–but with a small smile. Laura likes the idea of spending more time with Benedict—that is, if he also like the idea, of spending time with her. Laura still can’t quite tell when Benedict is interested—in her, as a friend, etc.—or if he is merely being polite. And politeness and gallantry is not a quality in the men that Laura has interacted with of late—except for Benedict. “I don’t want to inconvenience you.”
Laura bites her full lower lip–rather cutely, thinks Benedict. For the lushness of her lower
lip alone—well that coupled with her flawless skin, beautiful face, and curvy womanly figure–Benedict is enjoying his lunch with Laura. Benedict will offer penitential prayers later tonight– for him noticing her beauty. And he thinks that soon he’ll be spouting love poems to her in his head. And then he shakes his head with a small knowing smile [(2) below].
Benedict: “You’re not inconveniencing me, Laura. Don’t worry about it.” He says cordially. “I’m glad that I can help.” Benedict smiles warmly at Laura.
Laura: “Well thanks, Benedict. You’re being very gracious.” She smiles warmly at him. “If you need to do something else this afternoon, you can always drop me at my apartment and then pick me up later to get my car, if you like.” I am giving Benedict every way out of him being stuck with me this afternoon. Though I don’t mind the notion of being stuck with him.
Benedict: “Whatever you want to do is fine.” Benedict smiles at her benignly. Then he asks her hesitantly, shyly. “Do you like to play “Scrabble”, Laura? I haven’t found anyone to play it with me since I came here.” Frankly, as an opening gambit to a pseudo date, this is lame–and Benedict realizes that.
Laura: “I … do, Benedict. But, I haven’t played it for years.” Laura looks at Benedict a bit quizzically–half curiously and half pleased, she realizes, that he wants to spend more time with her. Laura thinks, now where did that thought come from?
Benedict: “Well, we could pass the time while we wait for your car to get fixed by playing “Scrabble”, if you like.” He looks at her expectantly.
Laura: “I suppose.” She looks at him a bit uncertainly, nervously—skittish as a new born colt. Then she impresses even herself with her boldness. “Sure, why not.” Laura thinks, she and Benedict are just two adults–just two friends–spending an afternoon together. Right?
Lunch continues in a friendly way. Then Benedict drives he and Laura to her apartment.
Laura feels a little on edge having Benedict come back to her apartment for the afternoon—her senses are heightened around him–but she’s not sure why. Laura likes Benedicts overall look. His sweater with rolled up sleeves is nice and casual—especially with his hairy muscular forearms on display. Though she thinks that he could lose the tie. Yet, Laura wonders if that thought means that she is mentally undressing him? And his voice is so deep and smooth, calming, enticing—with few hints of his previous annoyance with her. But she is not certain of what his manly scent is. Old Spice? Or perhaps, a musky sandalwood. Sighhh! Then again, are ministers allowed to wear alluring scents? She has yet to find out. But she definitely finds Benedict attractive.
And for logical reasons for them to wait at her apartment, Laura ticks them off in her head. Her apartment is clean and tidy, check. Her apartment is closer to the mechanic’s shop than if Benedict drove across town to his apartment on the seminary campus, check. And since Benedict is being nice about helping her retrieve her car, then Laura thinks she should be nice about playing “Scrabble” with him since he likes to play it, check.
But, Laura still has a little nagging voice in her head that tells her there is something more to her being unsettled by being alone with Benedict in her apartment. Laura wonders if it’s that she likes Benedict more than she is willing to admit to herself? But, Laura tries to dispel all of that and she graciously welcomes Benedict into her home.
Laura: “Welcome Benedict. This is it, my home sweet home.” She says gesturing to her open floor plan apartment with its kitchen, dining and living areas flowing into each other with no walls between them. “Oh, and if you need to use the bathroom later, it’s through the bedroom there. But, let me just go in there first to tidy it up a bit, since I wasn’t expecting visitors.” She says thinking about her size C cup bras drying on the towel rod over the bathtub, after she had washed it in her apartment’s convenient compact clothes washer and dryer unit.
Benedict: “Certainly.” Benedict nods courteously as Laura walks into her bedroom.
Benedict walks around Laura’s apartment to try to alleviate his own nerves. The apartment’s decor is modern and traditional—in soothing earth tones—and not frilly. He likes that. And it has been a long time since Benedict has been alone with a woman–let alone in a woman’s apartment. Not that being a minister has curbed his love life. Well, actually, it has. Women find out what he does for a living and it tends to turn them off. Benedict wonders if that’s why Laura seems aloof to him at times.
Initially, Laura brushes her teeth and such when she enters her bathroom. As Laura puts away her now dry bras and puts out a fresh hand towel in the bathroom, she also wonders at the strange turn of events that has a man alone with her in her apartment–even if that man, Benedict, is a minister. But Laura puts the thought out of her mind, determined to be a gracious hostess since she feels she is inconveniencing Benedict–whether he says so or not.
Laura: Walking back into her living area, Laura plays the hostess and asks. “May I get you something to drink, Benedict?”
Benedict: “Sure, any soda will do. Is it alright if I visit your bathroom now?” He asks nonchalantly.
Laura: “Certainly, please make yourself at home..” Laura says motioning toward the bedroom and bathroom.
Benedict walks into Laura’s bedroom–another experience he hasn’t had for a very long time, being in a single woman’s bedroom–and then he visits Laura’s bathroom to run toothpaste over his teeth and such. He notices that everything looks clean and tidy and her bedroom decorations are also not too frilly but still feminine–just like Laura. Of course, Benedict’s assessment of Laura’s home as to how it relates to her as a person is very much in keeping with his tendency to be reflective about the world around him and his place in it.
Benedict: Walking into the living area again, he says smiling. “You have a lovely home, Laura.”
Laura: “Thank you. I like it. There’s just me. So, I don’t need a lot of space.” She says handing him a soda with ice in a glass. “Benedict, do you want to play on the couch or at the table?” She asks him benignly while gesturing to each location?
Being a little on edge himself, Benedict’s mind goes south—or at least, into wicked thoughts.
Benedict: “Pardon?” Benedict fixates on Laura’s use of the words play and couch. Benedict thinks that if he’s going to be in Laura’s company for four hours, then he can’t be silly about it the whole time or he’ll never get through the afternoon without … His mind stops there because he hasn’t even kissed a woman in fifteen years–again the off putting nature of his ministerial profession–and his reserved British demeanor, he thinks.
Laura: “Couch or table?” Laura smiles lifting her hands up and down like a balance scale. “Since I don’t have a “Scrabble” board turn table and my kitchen table is square, I suggest the couch and we can pull up the coffee table close to the couch and put the “Scrabble” board on it.”
Benedict: “Very good.” He nods his head as he follows Laura over to the couch.
Laura: “Okay, do you want to play regular “Scrabble” or a variation?” Laura makes the assumption that if Benedict is an avid Scrabble player, then he might like to switch it up now and again.
Benedict: “Regular is fine, Laura. However, in college,” Benedict doesn’t say seminary because he’s trying to downplay his role as a minister to Laura. “… we used to vary it a bit–picking a theme for a given game. And the words we formed had to somehow relate to that theme. Although, sometimes it was a stretch.” He laughs.
Laura: Leaning back into the couch sitting next to Benedict–well six inches apart from him–she asks. “Like what, Benedict? Give me an example.”
Benedict: “Let me see.” He says turning toward her and leaning his arm on the back of the couch and his head on his hand. His tall self tends to peer down at her a bit. Benedict thinks that he rather likes the fact that Laura is petite.
Laura: “Gosh Benedict, you’re even tall sitting down.” Laura [(3) below] brightly gazes up at him. And Laura thinks while smiling at him, that Benedict is quite good looking–despite him being a minister.
Benedict: “Yes, I can’t help it.” He rolls his eyes. “I’ve been tall since I was a teenager.” Benedict smiles warmly at Laura and she smiles back. Then he says while looking distractedly at her long silky auburn hair, the color of burnished copper. “We could say that all words in this game have to do with animals or transportation, or something like that.”
Laura: “Uh huh.” Of course Laura is remembering her own college days when they played naughty “Scrabble”. But, of course, she can’t play that with a minister. There she goes again, Laura thinks, reminding herself that Benedict is a minister. “Well, maybe we can just play regular “Scrabble” for now. I don’t have to want to strain my brain just to play a board game.”
Benedict: “Ha ha ha! Brilliant! Ladies first.” He says gesturing to her.
So, Laura and Benedict play a spirited game of “Scrabble” with only a few good natured word challenges by Laura for British spellings that Benedict wants to introduce. However Laura acquiesces and lets Benedict use his spellings since he’s essentially waiting around until her car is ready for them to retrieve.
After they finish their “Scrabble” game at about 3:00pm, Benedict and Laura each visit the bathroom again and refill their soda pop drinks in the kitchen. Then, they look at each other a bit awkwardly as to what they should do next–since they have at least one hour and maybe two hours, until her car is ready—in case it really will take the mechanics two more hours to repair it. So, they decide to just sit on the couch side by side and chat for a while.
Laura: “So, Benedict. I have to ask, what made you decide to become a minister?” Laura smiles sweetly at him.
Benedict: Benedict thinks for a moment, pursing his lips and raising his eyebrow, reflectively. “Well, I was the second son, and I wasn’t going to inherit. So, it was either the military or the church for me.” Benedict replies in a deadpan voice. But then he smiles impishly at his own jest.
Laura: “Ha! That sounds right out of a regency era novel. Are you serious or are you joking?” Laura wonders curiously with a smile on her face.
Benedict: “Just kidding.” He smiles. “Actually, I was very involved in my church and youth group growing up. And I thought that becoming a vicar was what I wanted to do. But in the end, I just wasn’t cut out to be a parish priest.”
Laura: “Oh? Why not?” She asks him curiously.
Benedict: “Well, the standard answer is that I couldn’t take the whole celibacy thing.” He says honestly, but a bit sheepishly.
Laura: Startled, Laura asks. “But Benedict, I thought you said you were a minister? Can’t they date and marry?” Laura can feel the blush rising from her neck to her face—for her inadvertently exploring the topic of Benedict’s romantic life.
Benedict: “Yes.” He smiles at her warmly. “But in my limited dating experience, women aren’t all that keen for men who mention that they are ministers.” Benedict doesn’t mention his two year relationship with Gretchen because ultimately, she didn’t want to be a minister’s wife. “Hhhhhh!” He sighs, wondering if that’s the case with Laura. So he dissembles a bit. “When I was in my twenties and I would meet a woman whom I thought I might like, I used to say that I worked in the shipping business. You know deliveries? Like deliverance? A little theological humor there. Ha ha ha!” Benedict laughs and so does Laura.
Laura: “Ha ha ha! Well, and on top of your minister aura that you’ve got going for you, …” Laura says gesturing at him in a circle. “… you’re British. So, you have that whole reserved demeanor thing going for you–times two.” Laura says honestly, but smiling sweetly at him.
Benedict: “Precisely, Laura. It doesn’t exactly give me a level playing field with women.” Benedict sighs disappointedly.
Laura: “No, I expect not.” Laura replies absentmindedly as she moistens her lips with her lip balm again–puckering up a bit to spread out the balm. And Benedict watches her do so intently–which Laura notices this time. “Oh I’m sorry Benedict, did you need some lip balm? She says holding it up. I’m sorry I don’t have another tube that I could give you. And this tube has my germs on it.”
Benedict: And Benedict thinks that the tube Laura is holding has touched her lips–just what he’d like to do. And, he thinks once more that if he and Laura kiss it would have the same effect of moistening his lips as if he were to put lip balm on his lips. But, he refocuses and says in that nondescript British way of responding. “Not at all.” He pauses. “Laura, may I ask you something?” He asks with a bit of trepidation.
Laura: “Sure, what is it Benedict?” She asks curiously, but looking up and smiling warmly at him.
Benedict: “Now, you don’t have to answer, if you don’t want to.” Benedict puts his hands up in front of him in a gesture of protestation.
Laura: “Benedict, you’re not going to ask me for my deepest darkest secrets are you?” She smiles impishly at him.
Benedict: “No. Ha!” He laughs. Then he almost immediately becomes more serious. “Laura, I was just wondering …” He stops and sets his drink down on the coffee table.
Laura: “Yes, Benedict?” She looks up and smiles benignly–not really thinking that their conversation is going to go in the direction that it ultimately will go.
Benedict: “Well, if I had just said that I was a college teacher, would that have made me seem … less reserved to you?”
Laura: “Possibly.” Laura tilts her head and shrugs her shoulders–not getting what Benedict is driving at.
Benedict: “Well then, Laura do you think that you could you think of me as just being a college teacher?”
Laura: “Why Benedict? I don’t like you any less just because you’re a minister.”
Benedict: “Hmmm. So do you like me, Laura?” He asks with slight trepidation in his voice’s deeply rumbling timbre.
Laura: “Of course. You’re a nice fellow.” Laura says graciously because she thinks Benedict is nice in a general, all around way. And hey, the guy is kindly waiting around while her car is repaired. And, of course, she thinks he is handsome.
Benedict: “But, … would you want to kiss a minister?” There, he said it, he thinks. Now Benedict waits expectantly for Laura’s response.
Laura: “Oh, I don’t know Benedict.” Laura shakes her head a bit because she still doesn’t get what Benedict is driving at. “I can’t really respond to teacherly hypothetical questions about real life. Ha!” She smiles impishly.
Benedict: “I don’t think that teacherly is a word, Laura.” Benedict intones a tad pompously—but that is just due to his nervousness.
Laura: “I let you have questionable spellings in our Scrabble game, Benedict.” I pout.
Benedict: “Point taken, Laura.” Benedict backs off with his grammar lesson, because he is more interested in her response about whether she would kiss a minister. “You didn’t answer my question, Laura.” He speaks softly, but deeply—unintentionally seductively. Frankly, it’s been so long since Benedict had a romantic notion that he is surprised that his voice manages to reflect his growing loving thoughts about Laura.
Laura: “Well Benedict, I haven’t ever been in a situation where a minister wanted to kiss me. So, it hasn’t come up.” She says obtusely shrugging her shoulders impishly while smiling cheerfully at him. Benedict winces. Then Laura’s eyes widen as it dawns on her what he’s driving at, she thinks. Laura gazes at Benedict with an uncertain expression on her face. “Oh! … um … Benedict? Are you saying that you want to … ?” She can’t quite complete that sentence. Laura hasn’t been in kissing territory with a man for years.
Benedict: “Yes, I do Laura. How do you feel about that?” He asks trying to keep his emotions–and urges, if truth be told–in check.
Laura: “Well Benedict, it seems a bit unromantic to discuss the pros and cons of kissing someone with that person. It seems dispassionate. Don’t you think?” The irony of Laura contributing to that unromantic discussion seems lost on her at the moment.
Benedict: “Possibly. But as a college teacher–and technically, as a minister–I have to be very careful in my interactions with others, specifically with women. And, I have been out of the dating pool for so long, I’m rusty at reading signals.”
Laura: “You’ve dated before? Really?” Laura wonders to what extent Benedict has dated, but that is definitely too personal a question to ask him, she feels.
Benedict: “Yes, in college–before I took my holy orders.”
Laura: “Gosh, Benedict! That has to be more than twenty years ago?” She looks at him incredulously.
Benedict: “No, no, I mean before I earned my doctor of divinity degree fifteen years ago. I delayed taking my holy orders until then.”
Laura: “So, you haven’t had a date for fifteen years.” She looks up at him a bit curiously and smiles–thinking of him as somewhat of a kindred spirit, her having also not dated for five years.
Benedict: “Correct.” Benedict’s says with his piercing blue gazing searchingly into Laura’s deep brown eyes.
Laura: “Well, if I were being honest Benedict, I would have to say that not dating for years (five in my case) describes me as well. “ She pauses. “But, in your case, you’re probably not allowed to kiss.” Laura tilts her head looking at him curiously, wistfully–wondering what it might be like to kiss Benedict. And she unconsciously smiles rather sweetly at him–that he notices.
Benedict: “Oh?” He smiles a bit mischievously. “I haven’t heard of that rule being a part of the decalogue.”
Laura: “The what?” She asks him quizzically.
Benedict: The ten commandments.” He smirks wryly.
Laura: “Oh! Right! That! Okay then. And why haven’t you kissed someone in fifteen years? If that’s not too personal a question for you to answer.”
Benedict: “Yes, that is a personal question. But, I will answer it.” Benedict smiles warmly at Laura. “I believe that I hadn’t found anyone whom I wanted to kiss–that is, up until now.” Benedict unconsciously leans in toward Laura a bit.
Laura: “Now? And you want to kiss me, Benedict?” Laura still doesn’t really think that Benedict wants to kiss her. Does he? And yet, she is really thinking more favorably about her possibly kissing him.
Benedict: “Yes, Laura. I do.” Benedict stares at Laura a bit longingly. He’s been honest with her–to a fault. Now the ball is in her court. If she’s not interested in him, Benedict thinks that Laura should just say so.
Laura: “Oh!” Laura sighs pondering what he is saying and not certain how she feels about it. “Gosh! Talk about pressure.”
Benedict: “Now, I’m not pressuring you, Laura.” Benedict quickly interjects a bit worriedly. And he leans back from Laura–because he had unconsciously leaned toward her. “We can end this discussion right now, and I won’t bring it up again if it makes you uncomfortable.” He says a bit disappointedly as he lowers his head.
Laura: “No Benedict,” She touches his arm and shakes her head smiling at him. “I didn’t mean pressure, in the sense that you are pressuring me. But, in the sense that I would feel pressure from myself–if I’m the first woman you kiss in fifteen years and you don’t like it.”
Benedict: “Uh oh.” He smiles impishly. “That means that I’m under pressure, too–if I’m the first man you kiss in five years and you don’t like it.” He smiles mischievously.
Laura: “Uh huh.” Laura says distractedly looking at Benedict’s lips. Of course, Benedict is also looking at Laura’s lips.
There is a long pause of silence between Benedict and Laura as they each ponder what it would be like to kiss the other.
Benedict: “Well Laura, have we talked ourselves out of kissing each other yet?” Benedict’s eyes twinkle in amusement and he smiles a small smile.
Laura: “Not yet, Benedict. But we’re getting close.” She smiles wryly at him.
Benedict: “Well then?” He asks hopefully.
Laura: “Alright, Benedict.” Laura looks up at Benedict expectantly and smiles sweetly at him.
Benedict: “Alright what, Laura?” Benedict wants a clear signal before he kisses her.
Laura: “Benedict? That’s your cue to kiss me.” Laura looks up and smiles warmly at him as she tilts her head to the right, in preparation for his kiss.
Benedict: “Excellent!” Benedict eagerly leans over Laura sitting next to him on the couch, his face hovering a few inches in front of hers. He hesitates since he hasn’t kissed someone in a very long time. And Benedict is still a little reticent to kiss Laura–because he is a minister–thinking it might be best if she kissed him first.
Laura: “Oh for crying out loud!” Laura voices amusingly mock exasperatedly.
And Laura gently places her small hands on both sides of Benedict’s face and she gently pulls him down to her as she leans her face up toward him and their lips touch in a feather light but lingering kiss. Benedict’s hands are not touching Laura, but he wants to pull her into his arms and embrace her. Benedict and Laura continue to kiss each other, now pressing their lips against each other more firmly, tenderly and their mouths open a little as they kiss–again, and again, and again, and again.
Laura marvels at how well their mouths seem to fit together just right. And Benedict ponders the satiny softness of Laura’s lips as they kiss again, and again, and again, and again.
Benedict: “Hmmm.” Benedict growls deeply. But his lips are eagerly kissing Laura, so he doesn’t say anything else. And his arms and hands are still not touching Laura–he’s waiting for her invitation to do so. He’s a gentleman, a minister, and British, afterall. Although, if he and Laura keep kissing, Benedict thinks that he might just end up embracing her anyway–without waiting for her to say it’s alright.
Laura: “Very nice.” Sensing that Benedict is holding back from embracing her, Laura suggests as Benedict’s kisses move from her lips to her cheeks, then to her neck as he leans over her. “You know Benedict, it might be even nicer if you were to embrace me while you’re kissing me.”
Benedict: “Laura, I thought you’d never ask.”
Benedict tenderly enfolds Laura in his long strong arms as he tenderly kisses her on her lips. But still kissing without tongues—not yet. For plundering kisses would no doubt lead them into further intimacies that neither of them might be ready for at this juncture of their nascent relationship. Laura’s arms go around Benedict’s muscular shoulders with her one hand running her fingers through his hair at the back, and her other hand caressing his cheek as they kiss each other with tender abandon—again, and again, and again, and again. They feel so right together, molding their bodies together—despite their coverings of clothing for modesty’s and propriety’s sakes.
As Benedict continues to lean over Laura as he continues to embrace and kiss her, she a bit unintentionally begins to lie down on the outside of the couch–pulling Benedict toward her as he lies down on the inside of the couch. When their bodies are lying side by side and face to face, Benedict’s and Laura’s legs begin to intertwine as they continue to kiss each other. And, inevitably, Benedict’s body becomes aroused again–which is apparent to her through his thin dress trousers.
Benedict: “Oh! I’m sorry, Laura. Can’t help it, I’m afraid.” He says rather sheepishly about his aroused state.
Laura: “Don’t’ be sorry, Benedict.” Laura gently caresses Benedict’s face and smiles at him. “So much for you being a reserved Brit.” She kisses him even more lovingly.
Benedict: “I’m glad you noticed. Ha ha ha!” He laughs lightly and kisses her back lovingly. “But, … I’m still not someone who is allowed to do more than kiss on a first date.” Benedict says ruefully–despite the fact that he is lying down on the couch with Laura, embracing her and their legs are intertwining.
Laura: “Oh? Well between working with Jeffrey together–both his math homework and playing around the world–three lunches, buying coffee makers, car repair, and playing “Scrabble” together, I’d say that’s eight dates.” Laura says impishly and she kisses Benedict tenderly again.
Benedict: “True.” Benedict gently caresses Laura’s sweet face. Then they kiss again—their mouths opening and closing with each other, tentative but desirous of more. “It’s just that one of the classes I teach on minister professional development has a unit on ministerial comportment.” Benedict says kissing Laura’s lips, her cheek, and her neck where her lightly scented perfume intoxicates him.
Laura: “Uh huh.” She sighs. “Benedict, I think you’re going to have to unpack that term for me. What is ministerial comportment?” Laura asks as they continue to kiss each other sweetly and tenderly.
Benedict: “Hhhh.” He sighs. “Well Laura, if as ministers we are teaching a certain set of moral values to our congregations–and we are encouraging teenagers to abstain from premarital relations …” Benedict kisses Laura’s neck again. “… then, ministers have to model the behavior that they preach and abstain from sex, if they are unmarried.” Benedict kisses Laura’s lips. “… And, I have to model that behavior to my clergy students whom I teach.” He winces.
Laura: “Well done, Benedict. Clear, concise, and to the point.” Raising her head up and laying it on her left hand as she lies next to and facing Benedict on the couch, Laura asks Benedict impishly as she caresses his face with her right hand “So tell me Benedict, is this the point where the women you dated before would lose interest?”
Benedict: “I’m afraid so, Laura.” He sighs and laughs as he strokes her back while he is still holding her in his arms. Because until Gretchen, Benedict had never taken a relationship to a sexual level. And he intended to marry Gretchen. But it turns out that she did not intend to marry him. And Benedict doesn’t feel that he can share that yet with Laura—his relationship failure, and what in hindsight he feels was his moral failure. Benedict always wondered that if he and Gretchen had waited to make love until they were married—or at least engaged—would they have married? Benedict’s ruminations are not caused by any lingering love for Gretchen—he realizes now that they were not a good match. But Benedict so wants to be a good match with Laura. He doesn’t want to mess this up.
Laura: “Well, you’re in luck, Benedict. Despite you being quite handsome, I’m not the kind of woman to jump into making love with someone either. So, you’re off the hook for having a conflict between your values and your behavior.”
Benedict: Benedict smiles. Laura believes that I’m handsome, Benedict thinks to himself. “Well, you’re quite lovely, yourself Laura.” He says leaning in and kissing her again, their mouths tantalizingly opening and closing as their embraces become gentle caresses of each other’s backs and hips—while yet refraining from more intimate caresses.
Laura: “Ooh Benedict!” She sighs with her hand caressing his face as they kiss each other tenderly. “Kissing is such a slippery slope.” He kisses her neck. “A gateway intimacy to … complete intimacy.” Laura looks up at him with an innocently saucy sparkle in her eyes.
Benedict: Appreciating her jest to lighten the situation, he matches it. “Well … I do ski. So I’m accustomed to slippery slopes.” He adds with a level of jocularity that he has heretofore not reached around Laura.
Benedict and Laura collapse into giggles at Benedict’s irreverent remark, embracing then kissing each other even more tenderly for several more minutes.
Laura: “Hhhh!” Laura sighs as they kiss. Tenderness has been missing from Laura’s life for so long, that she could weep for joy that she is experiencing tenderness again, with Benedict. And she also wants to see where their relationship may lead them.
Benedict: Coming up for air from kissing her, he says while breathing deeply due to their aroused state. “Well Laura. We are two adults and we can control ourselves.” Unfortunately so, he thinks amusingly–because Benedict is quite enjoying kissing Laura.
Laura: “Quite true, unfortunately.” Laura voices what Benedict is thinking and he smiles at her–then he kisses her some more. Of course, Laura is enjoying Benedict’s kisses. And she does wonder how passionate Benedict would be with his wife–considering his hands aren’t straying into intimate territories—at least, not yet. And she appreciates his restraint—as he appreciates her restraint. And Laura abstractly wonders what it might be like to be a minister’s wife as Benedict leans in to kiss her again, their mouths opening to each other more fully.
Just then–just in time–Laura’s cell phone rings and she slowly reaches for her purse on the coffee table by turning around while lying on the couch–and she now has her back to Benedict, unintentionally spooning with him. Of course, this only has the effect of exciting Benedict more and he leans forward and he kisses Laura’s shoulder through her blouse as he gazes at Laura’s shapely silhouette–her shoulders, her tapered waist, and her womanly curvy hips. Of course, Benedict thinks to himself again that he has to get a grip so they don’t go too far in their kissing and caressing. But, Benedict still puts his left arm around Laura’s waist and pulls her back to lay flush against him. Benedict’s is more than a feeling of simple lust for Laura. He wants her in his life, as his love.
Laura on phone: Laura startles and sucks in a breath as her body molds itself to Benedict’s as they lie spooning together. “Hhhh!” She smiles over her shoulder at Benedict and whispers to him. “Stop that, you naughty man.” And Benedict thinks at least she didn’t call him a naughty minister. Progress. Then Laura responds to her phone call–her also trying to not to respond to Benedict nibbling upon her shoulder and neck. But he makes it devilishly difficult. “Hello?” Laura’s voice wavers as she answers her cell phone.
Car mechanic 1 on phone: “Miss Lester? We have your car ready for you.”
Laura on phone: “Thanks, we’ll be in to pick it up in a little bit.” She hangs up her cell phone.
Benedict: “So, your car is ready?” He asks a bit dejectedly–realizing their lovely afternoon of kissing is at an end.
Laura: “Yes. It’s 4:00pm now and we need to pick my car up by closing time at 5:00pm.” Laura says laying down on her back on the couch and looking up at Benedict still laying on his right side looking down at her.
Benedict: Benedict clasps Laura’s right hand in his left hand and intertwines their fingers together, then he kisses the top of her hand. “So, I guess we should go pick up your car.” Benedict leans down and softly kisses Laura on her lips again.
This has been such a lovely afternoon of awakening feelings for both of them, that neither wants to part from the other, just yet.
Laura: “Yes. … But, we could go out to dinner after, if you would like to, Benedict.” She suggests smiling up at him–wanting to be with him longer tonight. And she thinks that a restaurant is relatively neutral territory–for a single minister and his lady friend.
Benedict: “I would like that, Laura.” He smiles at her warmly. Benedict
So, Benedict and Laura reluctantly stand up from the couch–refraining from embracing and kissing each other again to avoid that slippery slope. And after they each readjust their clothing and tame their slightly mussed hair in the bathroom, Benedict drives Laura to retrieve her car from the repair shop, before they head to dinner together.
To be continued with Chapter 09
References for “Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 08,
August 13, 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) Benedict Somerset image is of Richard Armitage at the 2012 THAUJ Toronto Premiere Press wearing Grey Sweater Smoulder Mar2716 via Laura Day
3) Laura Leicester image is of Jennifer Ehle at the 2012 Contagion Premiere found at http://www.aceshowbiz.com/events/Jennifer%20Ehle/jennifer-ehle-premiere-contagion-01.html
Wattpad Ch. 08 story link:
Previous Ch. 07 blog link, with embedded illustrations: