“Expectations” (Book 2)–Ch. 29: A Blushing Bride to be,
July 22, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1249)
[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 Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre (portrayed by Hugh Grant); and Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York (portrayed by Emma Thompson)]
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. 29: A Blushing Bride to be
Though Lord Duncan the Viscount Lindsay of York and his soon to be bride in two weeks Lady Elizabeth Blount of Sussex are delighted that their wishes for an earlier marriage are to be fulfilled, Lord Duncan is keenly aware that his sister Lady Gwendolyn Lindsay of York is not so lucky.
Though Lady Gwendolyn is finding love with the somewhat reserved but kind Lord Robert Knightsbridge the Marquess of Wyre of Lancashire, their Father Duke of York denied her hoped for fiancé Lord Robert his request to become her betrothed—her Papa Duke insisting that they court four weeks before making the decision to marry.
And despite the logic of the Duke of York’s stated reason for his wish that Lord Robert court his daughter Lady Gwendolyn is to allow the couple to become more acquainted with each other, there was another consideration—actually two of them, the Duchesses.
It seems that with the secret marriage of Lady Constance Knightsbridge of Lancashire to Lord Alfred Lindsay the Marquess of Malten and heir to the Duke of York ten years ago, both the Duchesses of York and Lancashire were deprived of their dream of a society wedding in London for the momentous joining of their two families. So the Duchesses convinced their husband Dukes to insist on a regular courtship and a lavish wedding in London.
And Lord Robert proves unerringly accurate about Lady Gwendolyn’s reaction to the delay put upon them by their parents enforcing a courtship before a marriage would be allowed to take place. He actually takes her for a picnic to break the news to her.
With everyone else among the younger people of their families attending the Sussex Village Faire again today—especially Lord Alfred and Lady Constance with their daughter Lady Tamsin—this leaves Lord Robert and Lady Gwendolyn to the privacy of their picnic discussions.
After settling his curricle and horses under a big oak tree for shade, Lord Robert carries their picnic basket while Lady Gwendolyn carries their blanket to another nearby tree—far enough away from horse smells and near enough for a lovely view of a small lake [(2) below]. And with the overhanging tree branches providing them shade, they will also be secluded from prying eyes—should anyone else venture this far on the Sussex Hall estate. And at present, the only eyes around are those of the swans swimmingly peacefully and obliviously past them.
Lord Robert: “Here we are. This shall do.” He nods to Lady Gwendolyn holding the blanket.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Indeed! It is a fine prospect. Will you not help me place our picnic blanket upon the ground?” She asks sweetly, but with a raised eyebrow for Lord Robert standing stiffly to her side.
Lord Robert: “Of course!”
Lord Robert places the picnic basket that he was carrying upon the ground. Then he reaches out to grab hold of one side of the picnic blanket from Lady Gwendolyn who is unfolding the soft picnic blanket that she is carrying. At first, their fingers lightly brush against each other. And they each startle at the unexpected contact—a spark that ignites their passions. Though they have each professed their love for each other—and they also kissed and embraced each other yesterday—their feelings are so new that they are still shy about them.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Perhaps we should each take hold of opposite sides of the picnic blanket.” She suggests.
Lord Robert: “An excellent notion, My Lady. I mean, My Gwendolyn.” He smiles warmly and tenderly at her.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Thank you, … Robert.” She only briefly hesitates in using his given name. As an informally affianced couple, they are entitled to such intimacies as using each other’s first names in their private addresses to each other.
They settle the picnic blanket upon the ground, placing a rock on each corner to stave off the breeze from blowing the blanket edges up.
Lord Robert: Lifting the picnic basket and bringing it to the edge of their picnic blanket, he kneels down. “Will you not join me, Gwendolyn?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Join you?” She asks shyly, with her still standing near a picnic blanket edge. “That might prove difficult.” She states primly. “Or at least, ungraceful.” She further mutters under her breath.
Lord Robert: “Ah! I sense your predicament. Your gown’s slim skirting does not allow your limbs the freedom to guide you to a sitting position upon the blanket.” And, he thinks, she cannot sit without her feet and ankles becoming exposed to his sight. And he tries to stifle a bemused smile, but he fails.
Lady Gwendolyn: “I do not appreciate your mirth for my situation, My Lord.” She pouts.
Lord Robert: “Here. Let me assist you.” He kneels, holds out his hands, and closes his eyes. “I will not look at you as you … descend to the picnic blanket.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Do you promise, upon your honor, Robert?”
Lord Robert: “I do.” He nods his head resolutely. Though it is taking every bit of his gentlemanly demeanor not to merely partially close his eyelids, so as to leave a slit allowing him to see her.
Lady Gwendolyn grabs onto Lord Robert’s hands and makes several attempts to guide herself to the ground—to no avail, with her skirts being the deterrent. And she is becoming frustrated by this.
Lady Gwendolyn: “I can’t do it!” She stomps her slipper covered foot. “We should return to the house and eat our picnic on the table on the terrace.”
Lord Robert: Him sensing that their hope of privacy is slipping away from him, he interjects. “Nay, Gwendolyn. Do you trust me?” He opens his eyes and stands, gazing tenderly into her eyes.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, I have no reason not to trust you.” She responds somewhat uncertainly.
Lord Robert: “You can trust me. Now close your eyes.” His voice is deeply seductive—that is, were Lady Gwendolyn to be aware of seduction.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Why?” Her suspicion grows.
Lord Robert: “My Lady, if I am to aid you in your quest to sit upon this blanket, then I need to focus. And I cannot do that when your gaze makes me want to kiss you with tender devotion.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh! You do?” She asks curiously. Her being informally affianced is so new to her. And they have only kissed just the once, yesterday—though, she supposes, they were several kisses during the short span of time they were together in the late afternoon.
Lord Robert: “I do. Now. Please close your eyes.” Lady Gwendolyn hesitates, he nods his head encouragingly, she twitches her mouth, then she closes her eyes. “Excellent! Now think of a time when you were a child, sitting upon a swing.” And with that, Lord Robert picks Lady Gwendolyn up into his arms, gently swinging her back and forth.
Lady Gwendolyn: She instantly opens her eyes. “What are you doing?” She looks stricken at him, for him so intimately carrying her.
Lord Robert: “Well, just now, I am rocking you in my arms.” He grins. “And now, I am placing you sitting upon the picnic blanket.” Which he promptly does.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Oh!” She startles as his warm arms release her and she finds herself sitting down upon the picnic blanket. Then she swiftly pulls her gown hem down to cover her ankles—which is only accomplished by her bending her knees upward a bit. “This feels awkward.” She admits sheepishly. “I confess that I do not recall ever having sat upon the ground before.”
Lord Robert: “Ah! Then you have missed out on one of life’s greatest treats.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Treat?”
Lord Robert: “Yes. For picnicking always reminds me of my childhood, when my sister Connie and I would play building sand castles at the beach—which she was quite good at.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “I do not remember making sand castles when I was a child.” She shakes her head. Her Mama Duchess always had her attired in pretty little girl dresses—which did not allow for any child’s play that might muss or soil them.
Lord Robert: “Well then, we are creating a new memory together.” Realizing that he cannot stall any further, he takes her small hand in his and kisses it. “Gwendolyn, when I spoke with your Father Duke this morning about our hope to marry, he conveyed to me that he wishes us to court for the next four weeks before we marry—to allow us to get to know each other better.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “So my Mama Duchess informed me this morning.” She pouts.
Lord Robert: “You already know? And here I was worried that you would be upset.”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, I would like to be married to you earlier than in four weeks.” Her cheeks blush with a charming pinkish shade. “But with my Mama Duchess’ and your Mama Duchess’ wedding plans for us being so extensive, it might require even eight weeks for us to plan and then to be wed.”
Lord Robert: “So our mothers are set upon a grand society wedding, are they?” Lord Robert rubs his chin in consternation. She nods. And he concedes that Mothers—especially Mama Duchesses—are formidable.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Yes.” She rolls her eyes. “With first my brother Lord Alfred and your sister Lady Constance having a secret marriage 10 years ago, and now my other brother Lord Duncan and Lady Elizabeth having a quick country wedding in two weeks—our Mama Duchesses feel thwarted in their wishes to share their joy with their friends in Town.” She states acceptingly.
Lord Robert: “Well, our Mama Duchesses can wish all they like, but I will only agree to us courting for two weeks, then getting married another two weeks after that. And I do not care if we wed in Town or here—preferably, here.” He smoulders. Then he lies down upon his side, facing her still sitting upon the picnic blanket—their picnic basket of food forgotten, for now.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Are you tired, Robert?” She looks at him quizzically. For she has never seen anyone lounge about the way that he is doing now—unless they are fatigued. Though she admits, that he does not look fatigued. His eyes are bright and his smile widens as she continues to gaze at him.
Lord Robert: “Not particularly. This lounging position is very comfortable. You try it.” He smiles cordially, but with hopeful intent. He realizes that if his four weeks to wed her plan is to work, she has to want to be wed to him strongly enough to counter their mothers’ elaborate wedding wishes.
Lady Gwendolyn: “I think my sitting upon the ground, as I am, is sufficient.” She nods looking down at him.
Lord Robert: “Humour me?” He gazes at her, then he wiggles his eyebrows in a teasing manner, and pats the picnic blanket spot in front of him.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Do I have your word that you will not tell anyone that I was so unladylike as to have lounged upon the picnic blanket?”
Lord Robert: “Of course, Gwendolyn. It will be our secret.” His voice trembles in a lower than usual timbre. And she quite likes its velvety throatiness.
Lady Gwendolyn: “Well, close your eyes again.” She waves at him.
Lord Robert closes his eyes, but only just—allowing him to see her scoot herself lower on the blanket and then for her to recline upon it, turn onto her side, then lift her elbow into position and placing her head upon her open palm as he is doing.
Lord Robert: “Well?” He asks, continuing the ruse that he can not see that she is lounging as he is doing.
Lady Gwendolyn: “You may open your eyes. However, I do not find this on my side lounging position comfortable at all.”
Lord Robert: Leaning forward, he gently kisses her lips then retreats. “Oh? Would you rather lie back and I lean over you?” His heart is racing now.
Lady Gwendolyn: She tries that position, of reclining upon the picnic blanket. “Hhh! This ground is quite lumpy.” She complains. “I need a pillow for my head.”
Lord Robert: “Allow me, Gwendolyn.” He quickly sits up, removes his jacket—with him now wearing only his waistcoat over his shirt and trousers—and he folds his soft jacket into a small square, and places it under her head. “Is that better?”
Lady Gwendolyn: “Much! Oh! But you do not have anything to make a pillow for you.” She worries for his comfort.
Lord Robert: Leaning over her reclining form, he caresses her face. “I do not need a pillow.” He smiles lovingly at her. And she smiles back. Then Lord Robert makes his silent but persuasive entreaties to Lady Gwendolyn–of having their courtship and betrothal combined into a one month period—by him proceeding to kiss her tenderly, lovingly, and adoringly for the better part of the next half hour as she surrenders to his kisses.
And Lady Gwendolyn finds herself to be quite persuaded by Lord Robert’s kisses. She feels cherished by him. And he does not try to take advantage of her—with his hands merely caressing her face, her shoulders, and her back as he rolls her slightly on top of him as he now lies upon his back. She opens her eyes and gazes down into his eyes. He is smiling at her—in a most peculiar way, as if he would ask a question of her, or perhaps a favor. She rather likes leaning against his strong chest, feeling his hard muscles beneath his clothing. And it is a beautiful day for them to share together in nature’s idyll.
And for Lord Robert’s part, Lady Gwendolyn’s willing participation in their kissing is both a delight and a torture. As a man, he knows the next inevitable intimacies that usually follow such ardent kisses. And he is eager to explore those intimacies with her, when they are wed, soon. Yet he also knows that she is a maid, and he will treat her gently—however difficult his restraint might be for him. But he will not compromise her—however neatly that might accelerate their wedding day. She will be his chaste and blushing bride in four weeks time—or maybe, in two weeks.
To be continued with Chapter 30
Expectations” (Book 2, sequel to “Encouragement): Chapter 29 images for July 22, 2019 by Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1249)
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.
2) Sussex Hall Manor lake is that of Swanbourne lake near Arundel Castle. For more information, visit https://experiencedtraveller.com/journal/2019-05-05-arundel-and-its-castle-a-west-sussex-gem
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