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, John Lithgow as Seminary President Maynard Casten, and Jane Alexander as his wife Portia Casten, and others as noted.]
Author’s recap from the previous chapter: After Laura’s tearful concerns about the church not allowing she and Benedict to marry in the church—nor sanction their marriage at all, due to his clergy status—Portia Casten provides an elegant and devious solution that her husband President Maynard Casten admires wholeheartedly. And then the two couples went on to have a lovely Palm Sunday lunch together.
“Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 18 (PG-13, S): Tete a Tete Wedding Planning
Later Sunday afternoon of Palm Sunday April 21st, Benedict and Laura—thinking that they would feel a bit like if they were kids necking in the back of the church were they to go to Benedict’s apartment on the Chicago College Seminary campus–decide to go back to Laura’s apartment that is across town from the seminary campus. On their way to her apartment, they pick up some sub sandwiches for dinner later. Once at Laura’s apartment, they put away their food, pour some red wine for themselves and sit on the couch nestling into each other to chat and decompress a bit.
Benedict: “Laura Darling, it’s been a busy morning what with our engagement revealed to my colleagues, the whole chapel ….” He thinks debacle, but settles on. “… discussion. Then lunch at the Castens. How are you feeling, really feeling, My Love? Don’t hold back because I’m British and all of that stiff upper lip rot. That’s only for the cinema, you know. It sells tickets.” He drolly jests whilst kissing her forehead in concern and love for her as they sit together on her couch with his left arm around her shoulders and their right hands clasped together.
Laura: “Ha!” He makes her almost smile. “I’m feeling … better.” Laura’s slow intonation belies the verity of her reply. Benedict gives her a knowing look. “It’s just that the whole judgmental view about me being divorced really hit me hard this morning. Hhhhh!” She huffs air out of her mouth as if to cleanse her heart from the negativity. “I hadn’t even thought that might be a problem for us, for you. I try not to think about that time in my life—my former marriage.” Laura says quietly–she is not quite tearing up again, but she is on the verge of it.
Benedict: “Laura Darling, just as the Castens are on our side, so will others be. And with Mrs. Casten having been divorced herself, the bishop wouldn’t dare raise the issue now. We live in a modern age when divorces are not uncommon–and often times necessary. Besides, as I said, I’m glad that you are single–because we were able to meet and fall in love with each other.” Benedict smiles warmly at Laura and he sweetly kisses her lips—a petal soft kiss, feeling her plump warm lips against his lips.
Laura: “I’m glad, too, Benedict. I love you with all of my heart.” Laura tenderly caresses Benedict’s face –cupping his strong jaw, with her small hand’s fingers just brushing him behind his ear.
Benedict: “And I love you, with all of my heart, Laura Darling.” Benedict pulls Laura fully into his arms and they kiss and embrace each other adoringly as Benedict lies down on Laura’s couch. Then Benedict’s eyes sparkle mischievously. “We’ll definitely have to keep this couch when we move in together, it is comfortable and roomy. Ha ha ha ha ha!”
They both laugh—her giggling, and his bellowing laughter in a deep rich baritone.
Laura: “Yes! Ha ha ha!” She now truly smiles. “Laura She says that as a statement, but she is really asking a question.
Benedict: “Yes, Love.” Benedict winces. “We have to observe some traditions–since technically, I am a minister.” He shrugs his shoulders sheepishly and blushes. Benedict muses that he will have so many prayers of confession to do tonight—he hopes.
Laura: “Uh huh.” Laura sighs softly as she snuggles even closer to Benedict while lying on top of him–their still clothed bodies molding themselves to each other tenderly. Of course, this arouses both Laura and Benedict–with Benedict’s arousal being quite apparent through the soft fabric of his dress trousers. “Oh Benedict.” Laura sighs. “I want to be with you every minute of every day–especially at night.” Benedict and Laura kiss each other passionately.
Benedict: “Laura Darling! That is what I want, also. I think we’re going to have to get married quickly so we don’t have to keep going back and forth between our apartments.”
Laura: “Alright!” She says animatedly. “So, it’s late mid-April now. Benedict, were you thinking June?” She smiles thinking that she’ll get to be a June bride.
Benedict: “Well actually Laura, June is a rather busy month for weddings. And with the semester ending and graduation being the first Friday night in May and then the Summer term starting up three weeks after that and going through the first week in August, I had something else in mind–that is, if we want to have a honeymoon trip, too.”
Laura: “Oh.” She says a bit dejectedly thinking that they might have to wait all Summer to be married. “Well, August is nice for weddings, I suppose.”
Benedict: “No Love, I’m suggesting that we get married the next day after graduation in May—giving us three weeks for our wedding holiday.” He smiles hopefully at her.
Laura: “But that makes our wedding day only two weeks away!” She says in astonishment. Then Laura’s face breaks out into a very large grin. “Benedict, do you think we can plan our wedding that quickly?”
Benedict: “If we keep it focused on the essentials—no swans or balloon releases, etc., etc.–and we enlist reinforcements to help.”
Laura: “Such as?” Laura glances quizzically at him, since men are not generally known to be wild about wedding details. Just tell the groom where to show up is what her late father had told her about his involvement in her now also late mother’s and his wedding.
Benedict: “Caterers, florists, and a dressmaker for your dress–so you have exactly what you want.”
Laura: “True, wedding gowns often take six months when you order them from bridal stores. But, having my dress custom made might get a bit expensive–not to mention the caterers for a wedding dinner or buffet. Then there are flowers, flying in relatiaves, and such.” She says hesitantly as she starts to tick up the expenses in her mind. “Benedict, although I’m not a spend thrift and I have a little saved, I also don’t make that much as an advisor and part time teacher at the university. I pretty much live from pay check to pay check.” She winces at not being able to afford the bride’s expenses that he’s proposing. “And, my parents aren’t alive to help with a second set of wedding expenses–nor would I want to ask them to help me at my age.” She says dejectedly. “It’s only my younger unmarried brother and I—apart from a few cousins and old friends.” She looks searchingly into her fiance’s eyes. “Benedict? We don’t have to make a fuss of our wedding if you don’t want to.” She cringes. “I had the full wedding before.”
Benedict: “But I have not! And your previous wedding doesn’t count! Our wedding will be the only wedding that I want you to remember.” He nips in for a quick kiss. “And not to worry about the expense, My Darling. I can pay for our wedding. As a single minister living in clergy housing–and receiving the clergy tax breaks–I’ve saved half of my salary every year for the past fifteen years, hoping to have a family someday and wanting to be able to provide for them.” As well as his substantial nest egg from a family trust. But Benedict hasn’t gotten around to telling her about that—his finances or his family. “And, since you want to keep my late Grandmother’s ring as your engagement ring, we won’t have that extra expense either. So, I … we can afford to have the wedding we want.” Then he regroups at the prospect of what wedding costs might be these days—given that his fee as a minister for officiating at a wedding are around $250, these days. “Laura Darling, do you think we could do a lovely, yet not too over the top, wedding for around $5,000 – 10,000?”
Laura: Her eyes wide, Laura looks at Benedict completely nonplussed. “Of course! But Benedict, you say $5,000 or $10,000 as if that amount of money doesn’t even faze you.”
Benedict: Sheepish, Benedict admits. “Well Love, it doesn’t.” He says sheepishly shrugging his shoulders. And he guesses that it is now the time to reveal a bit more about himself to Laura. “Darling, I know that some ministers take a vow of poverty–but I didn’t. Ha ha ha!” He laughs cheekily and Laura looks at him amusingly. “You see, after several investments have done well from a family trust that I am the beneficiary of, I have about $600,000 in liquid or near liquid assets. We could even buy ourselves our own home rather than living in clergy housing, if you like–with a nice big backyard for our future kids that we adopt.” He smiles at her warmly.
Laura: Stunned, but happy, Laura laughs. “Benedict, not only are you the man I love–you’re warm, and funny, and kind, a good man–it turns out, you’re a great catch, too! Ha ha ha ha ha!”
They both laugh, with Benedict rocking his head back in laughter.
Benedict: “Ha ha ha ha ha! Then Benedict goes somber all of a sudden, and in a spot on deadpan expression suggests. “’Still waters run deep’, my love.” Then he smiles mischievously at her. “Now I know we need to plan for our wedding clothes and such later, …”
Laura: “And the guest list, and our attendants, not to mention informing our families, and …”
Benedict: “Yes.” Benedict kisses her into silence for several passionate moments [(2) below]. “ … but, Laura Darling, I was rather hoping that we could celebrate our engagement a bit more now.” Benedict says kissing Laura’s lips, then trailing kisses down her neck, and so on.
Laura: “I suppose that our wedding planning can wait a few more hours—or even, tomorrow.” Laura sighs breathlessly as she runs her fingers through Benedict’s hair, kissing the top of his head and then caressing his muscular shoulders. “Oh Benedict, I love you so!” Laura sighs as her desire for her fiancé Benedict reawakens in her and they kiss passionately again.
Benedict: “Laura Darling, I love you so!” Benedict kisses Laura tenderly. Then he stands up from the couch and he offers her his hand and she takes it and stands up. “Though your couch is quite comfortable, I say we move to your bedroom.”
And with that, Benedict lifts Laura up into his arms and he carries her into her bedroom. They have a love for each other that gives them each a second chance for a life of love and a family together. Benedict and Laura make love with each other lovingly, tenderly, adoringly, and passionately—for quite some time, as late afternoon turns to evening.
Laura: “Ahhh!” Laura whispers huskily into Benedict’s ears with her own blissful pleasures release.
Benedict: “Aahhh!” Benedict sighs as his bliss with Laura is complete. Then almost immediately, Benedict realizes. “Oh my god!”
Laura: “Thank you!” She sighs, not realizing that Benedict isn’t complimenting her.
Benedict: Rolling Laura onto her side, Benedict cuddles her close while blushing sheepishly. “Oh Laura Darling, making love with you is wonderful!”
Laura: “I agree! Benedict, you’re an amazing lover!” Laura caresses Benedict’s face as they gaze lovingly at each other.
Benedict: “Thank you My Darling. But, I fear that … something happened.” He says portentously. “Or, more to the point, didn’t happen.” These Brits, they never just come out with it, Laura thinks bemusedly. “My Love, I am so sorry. But I forgot to put on a condom.” The ever responsible Benedict was overwhelmed by their passions. So much for ministerial comportment, he thinks.
Laura: Looking up at Benedict, Laura thinks for a moment, then gazes up at him minxishly. “Oh! Yes, I do believe that you’re right.”
Benedict: “But, Laura Darling, what if you become…” Benedict can’t complete his thought–of him, as a minister, getting Laura pregnant before they are married.
Laura: Getting what he’s driving at, Laura tries to soothe him. “Benedict Darling, if we’re married in two weeks, it won’t matter anyway. No one counts the weeks that closely.”
Benedict: “You would be surprised.” He smiles ruefully.
Laura: “Besides, my problem in the past was that I couldn’t get pregnant.” She says sadly.
Benedict: “Now, now, My Love. We’ll have none of that self recrimination, My Darling. Besides, maybe I can’t have children. My brother has only got the one kid—the kid who urged me to be fun–and I do not think it is for the lack of trying.” He winks at her.
Laura: “Well, I say we don’t worry about it now, or in the future.” She kisses him adoringly. “Are you sure we can’t be married in one week so you don’t have to leave me at night any more.”
Benedict: “Hmmm. That is such an enticing prospect. But we both have to get past finals grading before we can be married.”
Laura: “Who says? Are you afraid you won’t get a moment’s peace from me to do your grading if we’re already married before final exam week?” She smiles broadly.
Benedict: “No Laura Darling. I am the one who won’t give you a moment’s peace once we’re married.” He says huskily as he nuzzles her neck.
Laura: “Promise?” She sighs.
Benedict: “I promise.” He sighs throatily.
Of course, Laura and Benedict eventually rise from their bed and get into comfy clothes to eat their Sunday night sub sandwich dinners–before tumbling back into bed, and not worrying about preventing pregnancy. What will be will be. Scandalous!
And by getting married relatively quickly–given their two week timeframe–Benedict also hopes to avoid what would undoubtedly be officious and unwanted interference from his family in England. Oh, he does not think that his family will object to Laura—she is full of goodness and sweetness and intelligence and beauty, etc. But rather that his extended family might be put out that Benedict did not first ask permission—as someone in his position is supposed to do.
Nor does Benedict want Laura to be put off of him because of some of his English relatives’ peculiarities of personality. With Benedict as the vicar in the family—well, one of them, anyway–it’s all downhill from there. And, Benedict muses, England has some very big hills.
To be continued with Chapter 19
References for “Somerset: A Time to Love”, Ch. 18, October 29, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1111)
1) The Somerset: A Time to 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 kissing Laura Leicester image is Richard Armitage as John-and Daniela Denby-Ashe as Margaret in the 2004 BBC mini series North & South epi4 pix34-Jan0114via RAnet_Grati-sized-brt-crop2-mskchin-brt-crp3
Wattpad Ch. 18 story link:
Something About Love Blog Ch. 18 story link, with embedded illustrations:
Previous Ch. 17 blog link, with embedded illustrations: