“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 23: An unexpected development, June 03, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1239)
(an original Regency romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2018 – 2019; all rights reserved); [(1) story cover art, left]
[As is my custom, from time to time I will illustrate my story with my ideal cast consisting of (in order of importance/mention in this chapter): Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex (portrayed by Richard Armitage) and his wife Lady Madeline Sinclair Blount the Countess of Sussex; Lord Harold Blount (portrayed by Crispin Bonham-Carter); Lady Penelope Blount (portrayed by Lily Travers); Lady Lucretia Beckham Knott (portrayed by Maggie Smith); Lady Horatia Winston, Lady Penelope’s grandmother, and sister to Lady Knott]
Author’s story content and serializing scheduling notes: For the most part, my ratings for the chapters will be PG-13—for romantic interludes and dramatic moments. If you are unable or unwilling to attend a movie with these ratings, then please do not read that chapter. This is my disclaimer. And I always put the previous chapter’s brief recap at the top of the next chapter. Also, I hope to post new chapters weekly on Sundays or Mondays. I hope that you enjoy this chapter.
Ch. 23: An unexpected development
With Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre–residing as a guest up at the Sussex Hall Manor home that is being rented form the Sussex’s by the Lindsay’s of York—planning to supervise his niece Lady Tamsin Lindsay touring the village market faire after breakfast, along with the help of her paternal aunt Lady Gwendolyn of York, the lovebirds Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten and his wife Lady Constance Lindsay the Marchioness of Malten may continue their loving reunion uninterrupted.
But that is not to say that all spousal couples on the Sussex Hall Estate will find their morning a care free or romantic idyll.
After a loving and passionate night with his young wife Lady Madeline, Lord Christian Blount the Earl of Sussex awakens abruptly. And he sits bolt upright in bed at his country Sussex Hall Dower House this next day morning—after last night’s momentous revelations about Vicar Whitby being Lord Alfred Lindsay Marquess of Malten—with a foreboding feeling.
Lord Christian: Rubbing his stubbled jaw, he mutters to himself. “Get a hold of yourself, old man.” But the hairs on the back of his neck prickle, as a warning of sorts. And he has only ever felt this level of unease when …
Lady Madeline: “Hhhhh!” Lady Madeline yawns and stretches her arms above her head, with her being awakened by her husband’s movement from their cuddling position and then his mumblings. Her movement in their bed focuses Lord Christian’s attention upon her.
Lord Christian: “I am so sorry, Madeline Darling. I did not mean to wake you from your rest.” He smiles warmly at her, trying not to convey his distracted thoughts at the moment, as he rises from their bed.
Lady Madeline: “Oh no?” He shakes his head. “Well, tis true that neither of us slept much last night.” She smiles blushingly and gazes at her smoulderingly handsome and virile husband standing before her handsomely bare chested, and generally unattired.
Lord Christian: “Khh! Yesss.” He smoulders, remembering that he loved her well. They both tremble in remembrance. And this morning, Lady Madeline’s pregnancy sickness seems to have abated, most happily so.
Lady Madeline: “Husband? Were I to splash some water upon my face—and you were to shave away your stubble …?” Lord Christian raises a saucy eyebrow at her. “Well, your morning facial hair is so rough that it scratches my face when we kiss—causing red patches there, and … elsewhere.” She pouts so cutely that Lord Christian cannot help but smile.
Lord Christian: “Indeed? And you wish me to shave this early morn … to protect your skin?” He smiles saucily at her.
Lady Madeline: “Well that, and also such that no one else can guess … that we have been kissing.” She finishes primly and lowers her eyes from her husband’s gaze. She is a young bride of only a few months, carrying their first child, and yet she is still shy about the passionate nature of her marital relationship being inadvertently revealed to others. Their loving bond is a private joy.
Lord Christian: “I will be happy to accede to your request, My Love.” The deep timbre of his baritone voice washes over her like a velvet caress.
Lady Madeline: “Thank you.” Then holding the bedsheet to her breasts for modesty’s sake, Lady Madeline looks around for her nightgown to put back on before leaving her bed to visit her bathing chamber to freshen up. She will not leave her bed with only a pillow to cover herself with.
Lord Christian: “Looking for this?” He dangles her silk and lace nightgown that he had earlier tossed to a bedside chair, after he had removed it from her last night.
Lady Madeline: “Yes, Thank you.” She reaches for the garment and he lowers it to her politely. Her husband is kind and does not tease her too much. After turning her bare back to her husband and donning her nightgown again, she peeks over her shoulder. “Oh! What caused you to awaken, anyway, Christian Dearest?”
Lord Christian: “I am not for certain. But I have a sense that today will be … unexpected.” And he scowls in uncertainty for the unknown yet to unfold.
Lady Madeline: “Now now. Not everything that is unexpected is bad.” Her eyes sparkle with mischief as she teases him. “Consider how we met when you bashed into me at my first ball and caused me to drop the ices that I was carrying for Grandmama and I.”
Lord Christian: “Hmmm. Well … That was a happy misadventure, to be sure. I just worry …”
Lady Madeline: “Christian Dearest, you worry too much—about my with child state, your sister Lady Elizabeth’s upcoming betrothal to Lord Duncan, and your brother Lord Harold’s dashing off to rescue his lady love.”
Lord Christian: “Hmm!” He groans this time. “Yet with Harold, I have good reason to worry.” He nods.
Lady Madeline: “Indeed. But until he presents himself to us again, let us focus upon ourselves—and maybe Lady Elizabeth.” She nibbles her lower lip, hoping that all will work out.
Lord Christian: “You are right, My Love. Now let me shave my morning beard, and you splash water upon your face. Then we can return to bed to cuddle, and such.” Lord Christian almost purrs his suggestion to her. He is a most devoted husband to her.
And whilst his Grandmother Lady Catherine Blount the Dowager Countess of Sussex and others still sleep soundly in the Dower House, Lord Christian and Lady Madeline do not, sleep, that is.
Having organized the old ladies of Winston and Knott, he and Lady Penelope and their various attendants this morn–and they only delayed their departure from London to travel to Sussex by a half hour to 6 o’clock–Lord Harold Blount feels quite pleased with himself for getting their caravan of three carriages and two wagons loaded with clothing and possessions on their way.
With his lovely and with child wife Lady Penelope enveloped in his arms as she dozes lying against his shoulder this very early morn, he feels confident that they are well on their way to beginning their married life anew. They just have to solemnize their French nuptials by having a new wedding ceremony in England—preferably at his family’s county seat in Sussex.
And after traveling a few hours, they should have just one more stop at an inn to allow their horses to rest and them to stretch their legs. With his own grandmother Lady Catherine being too infirm to go out much—thus making her easier to care for—Lord Harold had not appreciated the complexity of catering to the needs of the two old ladies.
Let alone Lord Harold caring for his wife Lady Penelope being with child and her experiencing sickness, usually in the mornings—that is further exacerbated by their somewhat bouncy traveling by carriage on roads that are not the smoothest. But she is dozing now, a blessing to her and to him. And Lord Harold finds that these new responsibilities—especially for her, his beloved wife—not to be a burden at all.
So it is not until two hours later as the sun rises higher in the sky that the travelers from London finally reach the Blount family country seat of the Sussex Hall estates—and the Sussex Hall Dower House. Since he had not had time to send a note to his brother Lord Christian about their arrival, Lord Harold is not certain whom among his family will be there to greet them.
And so, Lord Harold lifts his still feeling faint and nauseous wife Lady Penelope Blount out of their carriage and he carries her into the Sussex Hall Dower House as their butler Prinn holds the door open for them. Another old family retainer, Prinn is skilled at his job, but also remembers the current lords and their younger sister Lady Elizabeth as young children.
Prinn: “Master Harold! You have returned.” Noticing the pale lady in Lord Harold’s arms, Prinn asks with his inevitable sangfroid. “Should I send a footman for the doctor for her Ladyship, My Lord?”
Lord Harold: “No. But tea with crushed ginger and sugar in it, and some lightly buttered toast brought to my and Lady Blount’s bed chamber would be helpful for my wife, in her delicate condition.” Lord Harold nods at his longtime servant with a smile, then proceeds to carry his wife up to their bed chamber.
That their butler Prinn did not blink or flinch with Lord Harold’s announcement of him being married is entirely due to the longtime staff having come to expect the unexpected from Lord Harold. Yet now, the unexpected has taken a most happy turn with Lord Harold finally being married—and soon to be a father.
Prinn: “As you wish, My Lord.”
Then the elderly Lady Knott and Lady Winston slowly enter the Sussex Hall Dower House foyer and take his attention with their needs. So Prinn motions to a footman to attend to Lord Harold’s request, then he motions to another footman to join him to see to the older ladies and their needs for bed chambers and cosseting.
Hearing the commotion down the hall in the Sussex Hall Dower House from where she is breakfasting late around 11 o’clock in the morning with her hoped for betrothed Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York, Lady Elizabeth Blount rises from her unfinished plate of eggs and toast and motions for Lord Duncan to follow her. He clasps her hand to slow her approach, lest anyone take issue with him breakfasting with Lady Elizabeth, when he and his family are renting Sussex Hall Manor from the Sussex’s for the Summer while their home York Castle is being repaired and renovated.
Once in the foyer, Lady Elizabeth finds her sister-in-law’s Grandmama Lady Knott giving instructions to their staff about which trunks go into which bed chambers. And it seems that they have a new guest in Lady Winston. Though Lady Elizabeth was too late to see her brother Lord Harold bounding up the stairs with his wife in his arms.
Lady Elizabeth: “Lady Knott, It is a pleasure to see you again.” She glances over to the unfamiliar but obviously consequential older lady standing with Lady Knott. “Might you introduce me to your friend?”
Lady Knott: “Of course, My Dear. Lady Elizabeth, May I introduce you to Lady Horatia Winston, my sister. And Lady Winston, may I introduce you to Lady Elizabeth Blount. Oh, and her almost betrothed, Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York.” Lady Knott gestures her arm toward Lord Duncan in a casually friendly way. “How is that going, by the way, My Lord?”
Lord Duncan: “Very well.” He smiles broadly, then lifts Lady Elizabeth’s small hand to his lips and kisses it.
Lady Winston: “We seem to have a plethora of young married—or soon to be married—couples around us.” Though delighted that her granddaughter Lady Penelope has been saved from the clutches of her first husband Lord Lindquist, the whirl of her granddaughter’s French Lutheran divorce decree and subsequent French marriage to Lord Harold Blount a few months ago—and now them soon to welcome their first child– has quite tilted Lady Winston off of her axis.
Lady Knott: “Yes, My Dear Sister. Yet such a blessing.” Lady Knott lovingly clasps her sister’s hand in her in affection and in solidarity. For these two old ladies, widows both, still have much to look forward to with their grandchildren, and their soon to be great grandchildren.
Lady Elizabeth: Shyly bold, Lady Elizabeth asks Lady Knott—as she looks back and forth between the two old ladies. “And whom else is married or soon to be married?” Her eyes are wide in anticipation. She thinks that if someone else has marital aspirations, then that might lessen the focus upon she and her Lord Duncan.
Lady Winston: “My granddaughter, Lady Penelope was lately married to your brother Lord Harold Blount. And they are soon to welcome their first child together.” The elderly lady states without ceremony.
Well, the revelation of her brother Lord Harold’s unexpected marriage and soon to be fatherhood has quite taken Lady Elizabeth by surprise—as her slightly open mouth indicates.
Lady Knott: Gently touching Lady Elizabeth under her chin and pushing upward, closing her mouth, Lady Knot smiles. “Remember about not catching flies, My Dear.”
Lady Elizabeth: “But I do not understand. Where is my brother Lord Harold? Did he travel with you?” She looks around the foyer and the open doors to the parlor that looks empty.
Prinn: “My Lady Elizabeth, Lord Harold … escorted his wife to their bed chambers so she could rest. We are tending to their immediate needs.” Lady Elizabeth nods and then he turns to the older ladies again and bows. “My Ladies, if you would please follow me, we have readied a large guest suite of two bed chambers for you—which share a sitting room, as Lady Knott’s express missive requested.”
It seems that at least Lady Knott had the presence of mind to assure their accommodations—even if she did not mention Lord Harold’s news of his wife and her with child delicate condition.
And it will remain to be seen how Lord Christian and Lady Madeline will view the unexpected development of Lord Harold’s fait accompli marriage and growing family.
To be continued with Chapter 24
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 23 image for June 03, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1239)
1) “Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement”) story cover art image represents Lady Elizabeth Blount, sister to the Earl of Sussex in black evening gown–is that of actress Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Sybil in Downton Abby found at http://www.internet-d.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/38/2012/02/JESSICA-BROWN-FINDLAY-as-Lady-Sybil-Crawley.jpg ; the text font is Vivaldi.
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