“Winter Rental”, Ch. 10 (End):  Slipping away for some privacy,  by Gratiana Lovelace,  March 27, 2022 (Post #1454)    

[“Winter Rental” is an original contemporary romance story copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace, 2022; All rights reserved.];    [(1) the “Winter Rental” story cover (left)]  

0-2022--ab-Winter-Rental-story-cover-180x283sidebar_Jan09-2022byGratianaLovelace[Author’s notes:  I cast my characters as I write my stories—to help myself and my readers visualize the main characters.  So my main characters for “Winter Rental” are:  Richard Armitage as Greg Halliday; Cameron Diaz as his younger sister Connie Halliday;  Anne Hathaway as Diana Langley; Liam Hemsworth as Eddie Hughes; Rege-Jean Page as Mike Porter, Octavia Spencer as Octavia Porter, Perry King as Phillip Townes, and others as noted. 

This is also a gentle romance (with chapters being rated as PG-13 or so, unless otherwise noted), with some heartfelt romantic moments—and some mature romantic discussions put to humorous effect.  So if you cannot or will not attend a movie with my maturity ratings, then don’t read that chapter.  And though I set my story in the lovely city and area of Galena, IL—which I have enjoyed visiting many times—for the purposes of my storytelling here, I use dramatic license of the facts, individuals, locations, etc.  These are my disclaimers. And I will post new story chapters weekly on both my SAL blog, as also on my Wattpad site.]

 

“Winter Rental”, Ch. 10 (End):  Slipping away for some privacy

With Greg and Diana declining Greg’s boss Phillip Townes kind invitation/command to join he and his family for lunch at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort Hotel restaurant this day—and then realizing that if they stay at the Ski Resort Hotel’s restaurant for lunch today they will be very likely to run into Greg’s boss Phillip Townes and his family again–they elect to lunch in the town of Galena itself at Logan’s Inn. 

Galena’s Logan’s Inn is a charmingly renovated local bed and breakfast inn on the second floor of an old brick building from the early 1900’s and with a restaurant bar on the first floor that Diana suggests to Greg for their alternative lunch venue.  However, the Logan’s Inn restaurant’s actual bar area is off to the side of the dining room and tucked away with a lattice privacy screen wall—with no big screen tvs blasting sports events.  So the restaurant’s dark wood décor, comfortable booth and chair seating, and the  window views of the bustling Galena shoppes in the pristine snow covered downtown area give the restaurant an intimate upscale hometown feel. 

As Greg and Diana peruse the food and wine menus, an attentive waiter stands discreetly nearby—to give the obviously sweetly romancing couple their privacy, their gently intertwined fingers giving them away.

Greg:  “Diana, this restaurant bar is an excellent choice—if only due to their wine list.” Greg notes as he gazes at their impressive wine list.  “Too bad, that I don’t drink alcohol before evening.”  He grins sheepishly.

Diana: “Well Greg, we’ll just have to come back again for dinner here, sometime  before you leave Galena.”  She suggests somewhat sadly.  Diana knows that Greg will be leaving soon.  It just  seems to her that they haven’t had enough time together to get to know each other better, as Diana had hoped after their lovely romantic cuddling interludes.

Greg: “Definitely!” 

Greg smiles, puts down the wine list, squeezes Diana’s hand, then picks up his food menu.  But in turning his attention to his stomach, Greg misses seeing Diana’s face fall at him confirming that he will be leaving her at some point. But she puts on a brave face.

Diana:  “Yes, their evening menu is divine.  I especially like their chicken and mushroom crepes.”  Then Diana tilts  her head ever so slightly toward their waiter, who walks over to she and Greg.  “I think I’ll have  half and half of a cup of the New England Clam Chowder soup, and a half grilled cheese sandwich—using swiss or provolone and not American cheese slices, and with a tomato—with a small order of French fries on the side please,  Nancy.” Diana smiles at the former student of hers waiter, who is also the daughter of the Logan’s Inn Restaurant owner.  Nancy is apprentice learning hospitality management after earning her business degree last year. She hopes one day to take over the business—and maybe expand its  concept to other regional cities.

Nancy waiter:  “Yes, Ms. Langley.”  She smiles cordially at her former teacher/mentor.  That is a yummy choice. “Would you like apple juice with that, and perhaps a small salad on the side?”  Diana nods at Nancy remembering her preferences.

Greg: Greg looks up at Diana.   “Oh?  Diana, I thought you said that you like their chicken crepes?  Why didn’t you order that?”

Diana: “The Chicken crepes are an evening menu option, Greg.”  She emphasizes.

Going into explainer mode to support her former teacher/mentor’s statement, for Nancy is accustomed to accommodating customers requesting non-standard menu items, up to a point—she explains.

Nancy waiter: “You see Mr. Halliday, we have different chefs, their menus, wait staff, and dress codes for daytime versus nighttime dining at Logan’s Inn Restaurant.  7am – 2pm Monday through Sunday is casual drop in family and friends dining for breakfast and lunch.  Whereas our 6pm – 11pm Monday through Saturday evening dinners are by reservation only, and with suits and ties required by the gentleman and dressy dresses or trouser suits for ladies.”

Greg:  “Hmmm.”  Greg considers that this restaurant being able to set their own dining rules for their respective hours of operation means that they must be a popular dining site. Then he proceeds to order.  “Well, for lunch today, I think that I’ll have the Galena Burger with the works on it and fries on the side, with a ginger ale to drink.”

Nancy waiter:  “Certainly, Mr. Halliday Sir.  Though I wish to apprise you that we make our own ginger ale when requested, rather than using store bought brands.”

Greg looks questioningly to Diana, about the homemade ginger ale.

Diana: “You’ll like the ginger ale here, Greg.”  She smilingly waves to him to accept this slight alteration of his order.

Greg: “That will be fine.  Thank you.” Greg smiles cordially at the waiter.  Then his forehead wrinkles quizzically.  “How did you know my name?”

Nancy waiter: Nancy smiles conspiratorially at Diana.  “Well Sir, Ms. Langley texted us 10 minutes before you arrived to make sure that we had lunch seating available—and with a view.  Since as you can see, our lunch guests quite fill up our open dining space.  And today, our banquet room is in use by a local family’s child’s birthday party. So it cannot serve as overflow lunch seating today.” 

Greg: “Ah!”  And their waiter Nancy leaves to place their lunch orders.

***

Greg and Diana chat amiably with much hand holding while awaiting their lunch meal orders—and even during them eating their lunches.  And Diana comically enjoys watching Greg attempt to man handle his Galena burger sandwich with the works with only one hand, with his other hand clasping Diana’s hand—and with the sandwich’s size nearly takes up the whole of his plate.  So Greg needs to use both hands on his burger.

But it is when they are later enjoying their coffees and cheesecakes after their lunch meal—and back to holding hands again—that they have a little 6 year old girl visitor.

Suzie, 6 years old: “Auntie Diana!”  The little girl waves excitedly, then tumbles into her Aunt’s waiting arms, and Diana lovingly kisses her niece’s forehead.

Diana: “Suzie, Dear! It’s so good to see you.  What brings you here?”

Suzie: “I was at my school friend’s birthday party lunch.  See my gift bag that I got.”  She proudly holds out her birthday party favors attendee gift bag for inspection. “And look!  They gave  me a purse sized box of crayons, pocket Kleenexes, playing cards, chocolate mints, and  a pen!” 

Suzie quickly pops the pen end out and in several times. Suzie’s parents have not allowed her to have a pen at home yet–owing to an incident when her older brother was her age and drew all over the bedroom hallway walls.  So Suzie’s pen contraband will end up being quickly confiscated and saved for her by her parents when she gets home.  But still, Suzie has a thrill of receiving a pen, all the same.  So she will just have to be a little patient, until such time that her parents deem her able to judiciously use her pen on paper—and not on their walls, nor the books in their small family library.

Diana: “It looks like you have a very nice gift bag, Suzie Dear.”  And Diana notices from the corner of her eye, Greg taking in her interactions with her niece with some amusement.”

Suzie: “I do!”  Then she notices the man with her Aunt Diana.  “Who is he, Aunt Diana?”  Suzie points at Greg Halliday.  Well, she is only six, afterall.

Diana: “Well, Suzie.” Diana licks her lips—to stall for time. 

Suzie: “Oh!  Is he the man you’ve been keeping company with?” Suzie intones in a childishly deeper voice, trying to emulate her Daddy’s voice.

Diana: “Ahhh!  And who told you I was keeping company with someone, Suzie.”  Diana smiles, but she hopes that not too many people know yet, since she and Greg are still developing their  relationship.

Suzie: “No one.  I just heard Daddy telling Mommy that, when they thought I had fallen asleep after they kissed me goodnight.”

Diana: “Well, Suzie, this is my new man friend, Greg Halliday.”  Unfortunately thinks Diana, the corresponding label for one’s male companion isn’t as pleasing as the phrase Lady Friend for a man’s female companion.  “And Greg, this is my brother Gary’s younger daughter Suzie.”

Greg:  Ever the charmer, Greg stands—then crouches down so as not to tower over her—and he gently shakes the little girl’s hand and greets her.  “I am delighted to meet you, Miss Langley!”  He smiles warmly at the little girl.

Suzie:  “Oooh!  You’re pretty!”  Suzie sighs in admiration of Greg Halliday’s charming smile and his overall handsomeness. Suzie knows pretty when she sees it.  And indeed all ladies—young and old—are powerless under the searingly smouldering gaze of Greg Halliday. 

Diana:  “Ha ha ha! Suzie Dear, men are referred to as being handsome.” She gently explains to her niece.

Suzie:  “Okay.”  Suzie nods to her Aunt, then she smiles at her Aunt’s man friend.   “You can be handsome, too.  Are you going to marry my Aunt Diana, then you’ll be my Uncle?  I don’t have an uncle yet.”  Kids are so straight forward.

Greg notices the bemused smile on Diana’s lips. She is letting him reply to her niece.

Greg: “Well Suzie, your Aunt Diana and I are hoping to get there in our relationship, to marriage, I mean.”

Suzie: “That will be nice.  Then you can give me cousins when you have babies.  My Aunt Diana is the best Aunt—kind, loving, and tells me good job  when I’m trying to learn skiing on the bunny hump.  She gives me kisses and hugs when I have a boo boo, and just because.”  Then Suzie snuggles  back into her Aunt Diana’s loving arms.

Greg: “Praise, indeed.”  He smiles warmly at Diana.  “But don’t you mean the bunny hill?”  Greg asks mirthfully.

Suzie: “No.  I have to work up to standing and not falling down on my skis, before Aunt Diana and Mommy and Daddy will let me try a hill.”  She pouts in that cute little girl way of puffing out her lips, drooping her shoulders and sighing dramatically.  “Hhhhh!”.

Greg: “Well that sounds most sensible.”  He smiles first at Suzie, then at Diana as he returns to sitting in their booth.

Suzie:  “Mommy is picking me up soon. Will you come home and play with me, today, Aunt Diana?”  She asks pleadingly.

Diana: “I can’t today, Suzie Dear.  Mr. Halliday and I are having our outing today.”  Diana smiles blushingly, since she also hopes they will return to Halliday House and cuddle some more. “But maybe you’ll be free later in the week for a playdate with me?”

Suzie: “Okay.  Will you help me with my skiing more then, Aunt Diana?” 

The little girl’s question hangs in the air.  Greg gazes at Diana quizzically—since she had disavowed to him earlier of any hint of skiing activity or skills on her part.

Greg: “So you do ski, Diana?”  He wonders.  And before Diana can reply, her niece Suzie replies for her.

Suzie: “No, my Aunt Diana doesn’t ski.  She has a leg ouchee from when she was a teenager.”  Suzie gives the standard reply.  “But my Daddy always talks about how good Aunt Diana skied before her ouchee.  And that she even has awards for skiing!”  Suzie states proudly.

Diana pauses while she thinks about what to say to Greg to explain it to him—since Greg loves skiing so much, but Diana can’t join him at it.  Then she is saved from replying by her sister-in-law coming to pick up Suzie.  And after introductions and Diana’s promise for a playdate with Suzie later in the week, Greg and Diana continue their spending time with each other.

***

After some brief window shopping after lunch in Galena—with Greg and Diana each buying something small and easily portable—they decide to head back to Greg’s Halliday House rental on the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort properties.  After they each shower and change into comfy lounging clothes, it is about 3pm in the afternoon. So they sit on the spacious and comfy couch in front of the fireplace and chat.

Diana:  “Well, we have had a busy day.” Diana’s eyes go wide in mirthful astonishment as she gazes at Greg.

Greg: “Indeed! And due to that Galena Burger that I ate at Logan’s Inn for lunch—which could feed a small family—I am nowhere near hungry, for dinnertime  food yet.” 

Greg’s vocal emphasis indicates to Diana what he is hungry for, now that they are in their private oasis of Halliday House.  And Greg gently embraces Diana as he pulls her into his arms and they lie down on the couch and cuddle.

Diana: Feeling shy, Diana blushes and nods.  “Yes, lunch was filling for me, too.”

Greg:  “But you hardly ate anything at all.”  He looks at her incredulously.  Greg, himself, is a tall broadly muscled man with hearty appetites.

Diana:  “I assure you, Greg, I ate heartily.”    Diana forces a smile upon her lips.  For with her brother Gary’s continuing being overbearing  toward her, she does not wish Greg to start commanding her either.

Greg: Sensing Diana’s unease, Greg backs off, figuratively—since they continue cuddling sweetly together.  “Of course, Diana.  Each of us knows best about what we want and need.” And he nods in acquiescing to her. But, she does not let him off the hook so easily.

Diana:  “But?”  She raises a questioning eyebrow.

Greg: “Look Diana, it is  my issue.”  Diana does not speak, her silence encouraging him to continue.  “It’s just that years ago, someone close to me had an eating disorder that quite damaged their health for a time.  And I blame myself for not seeing the signs earlier, so I could help her before she became so ill.”

Diana:  Softening her demeanor, Diana gently clasps Greg’s hand in hers. “Greg, I’m glad that you were there for Connie. And she looks quite healthy now and recovered from what I’ve observed.”

Greg: “How did you know?  And please do not tell anyone.  I would not want Connie to think that I have breached her privacy.”  He asks her in earnest.

Diana:  “Your secret is safe with me. It is just that, though Connie is a few years older than I am, we were often thought to be the same age since Connie hadn’t gotten her growth spurt yet, but I had gotten a little growth spurt.   I remember when your family visited during the Summer the year that I was 12 and she was 14, Connie and I would pal around together—playing tennis, swimming, going shopping, and in general hanging out at the kid’s activities at the Pineridge Mountain Ski Resort and Hotel Kids Day Camp. And since we were a little older than the 5 to 10 year olds at the Kids Day Camp, Connie and I were drafted to be Kids Day Camp counselors along with Eddie Hughes—by his late Grandpa, old Mr. Hughes.”

Greg: “Yes, I remember that Summer.  I had just earned my graduate degree in business, so I didn’t turn up until July late Summer due to a post graduation internship I had to finish.  And I had been away at my undergraduate and then graduate school for so long that I had missed seeing much of Connie during her later elementary and junior high school years—when she started modeling and her eating problems started.”  He shakes his head sorrowfully, blaming himself for something that wasn’t his fault.

Diana:  “Yes, well. Initially, I thought Connie was seemingly shy the first part of the Summer—when she was always, and is now, a bubbly personality.    And though she did not confide in me about her eating issues then, in hind sight now, I surmise that her stopping modeling around then–that she mentioned last week–might have had other reasons than simply enjoying the fashion aspect more than modeling it?”

Greg: “Yes, because she didn’t like starving herself to be skinny for the photoshoots.  And she was not quite well yet, when our family came here to our vacation home Halliday House that Summer.”

Diana: “But as I recall, Connie seemed to greatly improve her health and her overall outlook on life that Summer. She could just be a kid again—with no expectations of meeting some nebulous level of perfection.  And  I think that our all eating healthy lunches and snacks together with the Day Camp kids may have also somehow helped her healthy improve—as well as her feelings about herself.  Because kids are so sweet and welcoming.  They do not judge others.  And of course, it was clear that Eddie was smitten with Connie even then.”

Greg: “And Connie being on the verge of heading to high school, was a bit unsettled about going to a new school with people that she didn’t know.  But Eddie calmed her—as she did for him.”

Diana:  “Yes.  Eddie hadn’t gotten his growth spurt yet that Summer either.  So Connie and Eddie must have bonded over feeling a bit like misfits.  Then as they grew older, they became girlfriend and boyfriend during Connie’s high school years.  And though they parted when Connie when to a different college than Eddie, they both turned out alright.  And now, they have found each other again.” Diana smiles warmly for fate seemingly bringing Connie and Eddie together again.

For the last several minutes of their deeply personal conversation, Diana and Greg have almost finished each others’ sentences—their being so in tune with each other.

Greg:  Yes, it must be fate—for  them, and for us, Diana.”

Diana: “For us?”  Diana asks hopefully.

Greg: “For us, Diana.  I feel such a connection with you Diana—heart and mind and body and soul.  You are my first thought upon waking and my last thought upon falling asleep.  And even then, you inhabit my dreams.  I love you, Diana.  I am in love with you.”

Diana: “Ohhh!”  Diana sighingly shyly smiles for Greg’s heartfelt words.

Greg lightly kisses Diana upon her lips, and she responds to him—for several lovely 
and loving moments [(2) below].  Then coming up for air, Greg impishly asks her.
Greg-kissing-Diana-isRichardArmitage-&DanielaDenbyAshe-inN&Spi4-340-Jan0114ranet_Grati-sized-brt-crop2-maskchin-brt2

Greg:  “Shall I take it that is a  good Ohhh?”  His voice deepens as he smiles smoulderingly at her, as he cups his one hand behind her silken haired head and glides his other hand down the soft skin of her back, under her soft sweater over her camisole.

Diana: “A very good ohhh!”  Diana moves to cuddle closer with Greg—if that is even possible, since not even a whisper could pass between them embracing now.  Then she surprises him. “Greg, I do not want you to hold back in loving me any longer.  I want to be with you, always.  Make love with me.”

Greg: Hallelujah, thinks Greg!   Then he remembers what Mike had said about Diana’s health.  “But are you sure, Diana? What about your infirmity, as Mike indicated?  I don’t want you to feel any pain when we make love—well, except the pain you might feel if this is your first time.” Now Greg  blushes for speaking so  forthrightly, yet his concern for Diana is true.

Diana: “Yes, I am sure, Greg.  And my infirmity is in my right lower leg–that did not heal well after it broke in two places with my fall on the slopes 12 years ago.  It took me a year to heal from the reconstruction surgery, then another year to be able walk again without crutches. But I was never able to be truly healed and back to my pre-injury abilities–which is why I had to stop skiing at all, let alone competitively.”  Greg embraces Diana in love and understanding for her necessary and brave choice to forge ahead in new directions after her tragic accident.  And Diana  hesitates, then whispers blushingly, and without regret.  “And this will be my first time making love.”

Greg: “Then we will be careful and go slowly, My Darling. You need not fear me, Diana.  I can be gentle—as I have shown you before.  But, I cannot make love with you without asking you again if you will be my wife. I want to marry you as soon as possible—of course accepting whatever timeframe you wish for planning our wedding. I love you, marry me My Darling Diana.”  He gazes at her hopefully and with all the love in his heart.

Diana: “Yes, Greg.  I love you, too.  And I will marry you”  Diana gazes back at him, with all of the love in her heart.

Then they kiss–their lips, their embracing, and their caressing being their only conversation they need as the newly engaged Diana Langley and Greg Halliday make love with each other for the first time [(3) below].
Greg's and Diana's first time lovers-feet-under-covers_Oct1012instforenergyresearchorg_May1614-crop-sized--Aug15-2021Grati-crp-szdsml

Greg’s and Diana’s being together is not a temporary love arrangement, like their Winter rental of her home Lakeside Cottage.  Theirs, is and will be a love of a lifetime—with love in abundance for themselves, their hoped for future children and grandchildren.

To be continued with Chapter 11 Epilogue

References for Ch. 10   of “Winter Rental”, by Gratiana Lovelace, (March 27, 2022  Post#1454)

1) The story cover for my original contemporary romance “Winter Rental” is a composite of three images:
a) a Wintery image of ski chalets previously shared by Sueli; Grati edit for color and size; with AR Berkley text;
b) Greg Halliday–2022—is represented by Richard Armitage-in cream-sweater-pensive-photographed byKaitlynMikayla_Jan04-2022viaNobleman-Magazine;
c) Diana Langley—is represented by Anne-Hathaway-2021—in butterscotch-sweater-flyaway-hair-no-makeup_Jan09-2022viaVariety—Grati-crop-szd; image found at https://variety.com/2021/tv/news/anne-hathaway-jared-leto-wework-series-apple-1234895727

2) Greg-kissing-Diana-isRichardArmitage-&DanielaDenbyAshe-inN&Spi4-340-Jan0114ranet_Grati-sized-brt-crop2-maskchin

3) New lovers-feet-under-covers representing Diana and Greg making love for the first time_Oct1012instforenergyresearchorg_ May1614-GratiEdit–Jan14-2022Grati-crp-szdsml-clr2-drk; the original image was found at https://ak7.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/4728737/thumb/2.jpg?i10c=img.resize(height:160)

Gratiana
Lovelace Wattpad site link for Ch. 10 “Winter Rental” (Post #1454):
https://www.wattpad.com/1208320201-winter-rental-by-gratiana-lovelace-copyrighted/comment/1208320201__1648422299_83112fe083

Previous
Something About Love  blog Post #1450  link for Ch. 8  of “Winter Rental”:
https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2022/02/27/winter-rental-ch-9-a-slight-misunderstanding-by-gratiana-lovelace-february-27-2022-post-1450/

 

About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
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