Change for Charity:  Honoring Richard Armitage’s 46th Birthday from our Hearts on Aug. 22,  July 26, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1081)

Each year, fans/admirers of the talented British actor Richard Armitage (handsome fellow at right, thanks to Dinnyschild) like to commemorate his birthday with sharing videos, essays across blogs, and fan art, etc.—and his 46th birthday is coming up on August 22nd.

In more recent years, RA Fans have also donated to charities in his honor—for his birthday and at other times of the year.  And this year, Guylty Pleasure blogger Guylty reminded us of that by her plans to launch a fun auction/raffle again for his birthday this year.

So, I will also take up Guylty’s charitable challenge by my also encouraging my fellow RA Fans/Admirers to literally dip into their pockets and collect their loose spare change each day through August 21 into a pop can or jar that you have labeled Change-ing the world with Love.

Here’s a graphic that you can print and tape to your spare change can/jar (below):

Then on August 21st , the day before his birthday, please go online to either Richard Armitage’s Just Giving site or some other charity of your choosing  (I also donate to UNHCR and UNICEF for refugee relief) and make a donation there equal to the amount of spare change that you have collected—or some other amount that you wish to donate.  And then please come back here to my blog and share that you have made a donation and to which charity in his honor.

Don’t worry about sharing the amount you gave—or plan to give–just share that you gave.  Personal giving is private and every level of giving is welcome.  Because every little bit helps—whether it is $5, $25, $50, or more.

And if you’re not someone who uses cash, then please consider giving a planned amount to donate.  For example, 46 cents x 22 days = $10.12, etc.

And a ladies philanthropic education organization that I belong to does this spare change fundraising approach every so often and it has netted big results in a very short time—over $1,000 dollars toward women’s educational scholarships each time.

So if you want to join in and/or have additional suggestions on ways to celebrate and honor Richard Armitage’s upcoming 46th birthday, please share that in a comment below.

Hugs & Cheers!

P.S.  I have now made my own change jar–from a parmesan container.  Ha!  Two views appear below:

     

Please share a picture of your RA 46th Birthday spare change giving jar/can in a comment below.  Thanks!

Posted in Charities, Donations, Fangurling, Giving, Goodwill, Graphic, Gratiana Lovelace, Love, Richard Armitage, Women | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 05: Dreaming about love, July 23 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (aPost #1080)

An original contemporary romance  copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

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:   After Benedict’s first Saturday, March 29th volunteer stint at the Chicago Children’s Group Home, Benedict and Laura find common ground and a way to understand each other over lunch at Pritzker’s Deli.  The food and conversation were good.  And the games of pool they engaged in at the restaurant’s bar/tavern section was fun—even if Laura trounced Benedict in all three games.  Benedict was enjoying himself, allowing himself to have fun.  And Laura was beginning to let in Benedict, at least as a friend.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 05:  Dreaming about love

When Benedict returns Laura to her car parked at the Chicago Children’s Group Home after their lovely first lunch together, he steps out of his car and walks around it to open Laura’s door just as she opens the car door and begins to stand up.

Benedict: “Allow me.” Benedict smiles as he opens the car door wider, not realizing that Laura was slightly leaning on the door for support.

So Laura loses her balance and tumbles forward, but Benedict catches her and helps her to regain her balance and stand up.  Then he removes his hands from her upper arms—but keeps them hovering there in case she needs further steadying.

Laura:  “Gosh!  You startled me, Benedict.”  He rather looks at me as if I should understand why he yanked the door open on me.

Embarrassed by her own clumsiness—and perhaps, by something else, Laura looks up as she feels herself being steadied and held in front of Benedict.   The all too brief moment of Benedict’s large hands and strong arms steadying her as he lifts her up to stand in front of him gives them both a slight tingle of awareness.

Benedict:  “My apologies, Laura.  Old habit—opening a lady’s door for her.” I sheepishly shrug my shoulders– with an embarrassed smile, I am certain.  My parents’ life lessons about courtesy and gentlemanly behavior are ingrained within me.  Though I hope that I haven’t offended her—should she view my actions as condescending, which is not my intent at all.

Laura:  “That’s alright, Benedict.  No harm done.”  Except to my pride.  He must think that I’m a graceless dolt. “ Well, we’ll see you next Saturday?”  I wave as I walk the few steps toward my waiting car.  But I realize that I am not alone.

Benedict: “I look forward to it.” I nod as walk with Laura to her car and then I stand to the side of her car door.  She looks at me with the curiosity one has for a museum oddity.  Not that I am an oddity, nor even, museum quality.  I am only forty-five years old.

And I think better of holding open Laura’s car door after she unlocks it.  I wouldn’t want Laura to take another tumble.  Though she was rather adorably embarrassed by her loss of balance.  In truth, I am embarrassed as well–for my being the cause of it.  Then seeing her continuing to gaze at me with a facial expression that I can’t quite decipher—whether it is illustrative of her being interested in me, curious again, or annoyed, I cannot tell.  I have not had to discern the inner workings of a woman’s mind—in an almost dating that woman sense—in over fifteen years.  So I am quite past being rusty at it, as some might say.

And though my interest and curiosity about Laura in no way involves annoyance—well, not anymore–I realize that I had best not press my luck with her today.   We had a pleasant time over lunch and playing pool—she trounced me.   And a parking lot is not a place for a first hug—and a first kiss would be several dates beyond that, in my mind.  Though it has been so long since I kissed any woman in a romantic way, that I am certain that I have forgotten how.  Let alone am I conversant with what women expect of men almost maybe dating them.

I wave at Laura and walk back to my car, wincing for my awkwardness.  Though my only real dating experiences before were with my long ago girlfriend Gretchen—and we had rather skipped a few courtship steps as our relationship deepened very quickly into us being lovers.  And it ended just as quickly two years later.

So this time, if Laura and I are headed toward a relationship that is more than just friends—and I am amenable to exploring that possibility–I will take it slowly with her. Apart from my needing to think about my reputation as a professor and a minister, I also do not want to get my hopes up for a lasting relationship again, only to be cast aside.  My heart—untutored and unused as it is—might not recover again.

When I arrive home, I set my car and apartment keys in the wooden bowl on my small foyer entranceway’s walnut finish short cabinet underneath a long oval mirror in a gold painted but otherwise unornamented sleekly modern frame.  The mirror and cabinet were left by the previous tenant, a married couple.  So I imagine that the wife was the one who selected the items.  I do not think I would have made this particular decorating choice.

But after living with the mirror and cabinet for a year and a half, I find that I like them as complementary features at the entrance to my apartment home.  In fact, they remind me of family home in England in some ways—my parents having created a warm and loving home for us to grow up in.   And my foyer’s mirror and cabinet lend a cheer to the foyer of my apartment that is lacking in the rest of my functional furniture choices, with no wall decorations to speak of and mostly muted colors of brown and grey.

I walk to the center of my great room—which is a rather small sitting room at 12 feet by 15 feet  for such a lofty label, but there you have it.  And I really look at my surroundings.  I will not view them depressing, but certainly not inspiring—let alone warm and cozy.  Perhaps my usual dry demeanor and somber mood is influenced by more than by my vocation as a professor of theology and minister.  So perhaps, I think if I let a little more cheer into my well ordered, tidy, and boring life—starting with my apartment’s decor, and maybe with a certain person whose name is Laura—I might find a measure of happiness, rather than merely existing as I have been, I realize.  Good Lord!  My thoughts seem maudlin, even to me.

But I shower and get into my sweats to sleep in and feel a bit better.  And after I eat a bite of dinner from a nutritious but lackluster microwaved meal, I open a bottle of wine, pouring myself one glass.  It is evening.  So it is not shocking for me to be having a drink alone as I continue to ruminate about my life.  Yet so unaccustomed am I to having alcohol in my system—coupled with the strains of the day in my being obtusely awkward with Laura at first—fatigue overtakes me and I head to my bed and fall asleep [(2) below] at only 9 o’clock in the evening, dreaming about Laura.

Laura Leicester.  She has such a lyrical name—and her last name is the same as the city near where I grew up.  And Laura is a beauty [(3) below] with her winning smile, silky hair, and womanly curvy body—all for which I will have to do extra prayers for my noticing her in that way.  Why some man has not already claimed her is puzzling to me.  My single status is understandable, given my sometimes awkward and prickly nature.  But Laura, she actually tries to be cheerful and kind with people.  And I feel like such a dullard that I was less than charming when we first met early this morning.  She was not the problem with our stilted miscommunications, I was.  And I am not to proud to admit that to myself.

But the day improved with Laura and I having  lunch together.  And if it had not been our first activity together—I am not certain that I would call our lunch a date since we each paid our own way—we might have continued our conversations back at one of our apartments.  Not to do any inappropriate making out, it is too soon.  Though it does beg the question as to what is considered appropriate making out.  And perhaps, we would have played a board game like Scrabble as we chatted.  That is, if Laura likes board games, or even cards, to break the ice.  My family back in England are all avid table games players—and we are very competitive, too.  But it is all in good fun.

Fun!  What my 6 year old nephew Caleb wants me to be more of.  His assessment of me last Christmas was something I needed to here.  And if the charming and vivacious Laura is someone whom I want to cultivate a friendship with—and perhaps more—then being fun and having fun, with Laura, will be a shared delight.

Of course, such an effusively emotional word as delight makes me think of my being romantic with Laura at some point in the future.  Not making out, per se—not yet, anyway—but tenderly respectful.  When I held onto her upper arms today to keep her from falling out of my car, I realized how good it felt just to touch another human being.  And though I am a man of 45 years, I still think that getting to hold Laura’s hand in mine, feeling its softness, comparing her hand’s small size to my own larger hand, interlocking our fingers, and then gently and slowly rubbing my thumb along the palm of her hand, feeling her tremble slightly—or am I the one trembling—would be heaven.

Then I would bring Laura’s hand to my lips and softly kiss her knuckles.  She gasps—which I take to mean that she is not wholly impervious to my limited charm.  And since she does not pull away, then I would turn her hand over and kiss the center of her palm.  And she reflexively slightly closes her fingers around my cheek, stroking me while I am kissing her hand.

Then with the both of us fatigued, Laura would lean against my side as we sit upon my couch.  My arms circle her in my embrace and I bring her hand that has so captivated me to my lips once more, before I place her palm flat upon my chest, over my heart.  Then we both doze off contentedly while cuddling together.

Then somewhere in my own haze of sleeping in bed, I hear a tinkling noise that awakens me.  I look down to see if my dreams of Laura were reality, but sadly, I am merely clutching a bed pillow to my side.  The tinkling alarm sound goes off again, and I swipe it off on my cell phone.  I will take my vitamins tomorrow—eschewing them today as their punishment for waking me from a perfectly lovely tenderly romantic dream about Laura.  So, I close my eyes again to sleep.  And maybe if I am lucky, I will dream of Laura again

***

I wave at Benedict as he heads back to his car after he returned me to my car after our lovely lunch.  Then I drive away thinking about how today has gone.  At first, we did not get on at all all with each other.  He seemed rather stodgy to me–at first.  But later at lunch and we got a little bit of food into him, Benedict warmed up and became quite cordial.  So maybe, his ill humors this morning were due to hunger.

And Benedict’s gentlemanly courtesies to me—with him holding the car door open and all–seem rather quaint and charming.  He is old worldly in his air and manners.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  And besides, we are merely colleague volunteers, finding common ground.  I generally like people, despite my abysmal experience with men.  Well, with one man—my former husband.  And I know that I shouldn’t stereotype all men as being unfaithful jerks.

But I had hurt for a long time during and after my divorce.  I had loved my husband.  And I had thought that he had loved me.  But it was obviously not the case—given his mistress and all.  I should have guessed that with his charming rakish personality, that my husband wouldn’t be content with being married, and having only one woman adore him.  And due to my divorce, I have pretty much steered clear of men in a dating/romantic sense for the past five years.

And then, when the fates place someone like Benedict Somerset in my path, I have to notice and acknowledge that my withdrawal from considering a future romantic relationship won’t work anymore.  I don’t want to be alone anymore.  And maybe Benedict and I can not be alone, together.  And despite Benedict being much too young and handsome to behave as curmudgeonly as he does, he was surprisingly good at it.   Benedict was definitely grumpy this morning—before lunch.  But then, he warmed up a bit as we ate.  And when he smiles, he actually looks very charming and handsome.  Not like my ex-husband charming, but in Benedict’s own sweet awkward way of being charming.

And though I wish that I had been more graceful getting out of his car when he pulled the door away from me so suddenly, he did catch me and prevented me from falling and hurting myself.  He seemed to do it instinctively, without having to think about it.  As if watching out for others well-being comes naturally to him.  Frankly, Benedict’s kind of reserved male personality is one that intrigues me.  I don’t know if I’m ready to date him, or anyone.  But I would like to get to know Benedict more.

As I go to sleep this Saturday night after my first lunch with Benedict, I bring the extra long bed body pillow into my arms as I also wrap my lower legs around it.  And I fall asleep.  The pillow is comforting to me, as if I were not alone.  And yet as I dream tonight, the pillow is no longer soft, but hard and muscular.  And I am sleeping wrapped inside Benedict Somerset’s strong arms.  I do not sense that we are lovers in my dream—especially since we are each wearing not particularly romantic comfy clothes, and I am under the covers and he is outside of the covers.  Yet there is something sweetly romantic about my sharing a bed pillow with him.

Then I cuddle with him and lay my head upon Benedict’s chest.  My nose wrinkles for being tickled by Benedict’s modest chest hair peeking out from his athletic t-shirt in my dream.  And though it is only in my dream, I am glad that Benedict’s chest is neither too hairy, nor waxed. He is just right.   I stretch my face upward and cuddle into his neck, breathing in his scent of Old Spice, or something similarly masculine and traditional.  Benedict’s arms pull me closer and he tenderly kisses my forehead in his sleep, then nestles his chin atop my head.

Our bodies have an unbroken contact with each other from head to toe—but for the sheets and blankets separating us.  Yet, I can still feel his body’s warmth through the many layers of bed linens.  I feel safe and protected while I am sleeping wrapped in Benedict’s arms, intuitively knowing that Benedict will always have my best interests at heart.  And that, Benedict will never betray me, as my ex-husband did.

I am not certain what my romantic, but still rather chaste, dream involving Benedict symbolizes for our future—Benedict’s and mine.  But it is something that I look forward to finding out as I slip into a deeper sleep with a hopeful smile on my face.

For Benedict and for Laura, they are nascently exploring whether a friendship relationship—or even a romantic one—might be possible for them.  Their dreams each wishing for a greater tenderness between them that a romantic relationship built upon love would beget.   So their next interactions while awake will help determine whether their dreams may become their reality.

To be continued with Chapter 06

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 05,
July 23, 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 sleeping3 is Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks 8 (2009), epi5, pix30 found at

http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spooks8/album/Episode5/slides/ep5_030.html
3)    Laura Leicester image is of Jennifer Ehle in 2012 (background manip) http://www.imdb.com/media/rm1425518848/nm0000383 and http://ia.media-imdb.com/images/M/MV5BMjI4MzMwMzg5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDI4MTIyNw@@._V1._SX640_SY897_.jpg

 

Wattpad Ch. 05 story link:
https://www.wattpad.com/444831054-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 04 blog link, with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/07/16/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-04-trying-to-understand-each-other-july-16-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1078

Posted in "Somerset: A Time to Love" by GL, Creative Writing, Drama, Fiction, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Pilgrimage:  Richard Armitage Tweets new characters posters link, and shares character insights, etc., July 20, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1079)

We have a twofer today for Thespian Thursday!

 

First up, the talented British actor Richard Armitage – aka Sir Raymond de Merville in the 2017 Medieval film Pilgrimage – tweeted the link for new Pilgrimage character posters:

 

 

Such as (initially shared by RA Bulgaria via Teresa A, Thanks!):

 

And there is also a stunning Pilgrimage movie poster that features all three leads Tom Holland, Richard Armitage, and Jon Bernthal:

And second, Pilgrimage star Tom Holland shared the link to the new movie trailer that debuted last week:

 

And then … -so maybe, this is a trifecta  (*wink*) … RACentral (Thanks!) shared the link to a new July 19th interview with Richard Armitage talking about his Pilgrimage Sir Raymond de Merville character’s toughest scenes (spoilers)—as well as, his other upcoming roles, and another hoped for Irish historical tale.

 

And thanks also to fan group RCA-TH for tweeting this de Merville gif that kind of illustrates the character’s world weariness:

 

With the U.S. release of Pilgrimage being only 3 weeks away on August 11th, I am looking forward to buying the dvd.

Posted in "Pilgrimage" film, Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Interview, Medieval, Middle Ages, Period Drama, Pilgrimage, Raymond de Merville, Richard Armitage, Society, Something About Love, Thespian Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 04:  Trying to Understand Each Other,  July 16, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1078)

An original contemporary romance  copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

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 Somerset and Laura Leicester continued to dysfunctionally relate to each other due to their miscommunication and stubbornness to perceive the other in a different light.  So Benedict proposes that they go out to lunch that same Saturday, March 29th to clear the air, at get to know and understand each other better, he hopes.  She accepts his invitation—though she wants them to each pay for their own meals.  So, not a date.  Just two colleague trying to understand each other.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 04:  Trying to Understand Each Other

After Benedict and Laura drive in Benedict’s small sedan to Pritzker’s Deli restaurant for their Saturday, March 29th  lunch–and placing then receiving their half sandwich and soup orders–Laura and Benedict are cozily ensconced in a table booth on the left  side of a large stone fireplace hearth with a surround of antique tiles and wood mantel.  And dining areas  barn wood siding walls brightly painted in a faded rusty red color—coupled with sparing decorations hanging on the walls [(2) below]–embues the family dining room area with a warm and inviting atmosphere—unlike some places which garishly cover every square inch of wall space.

 

It seems that the restaurant had once solely been a local tavern restaurant—that is now companioned with a more family friendly dining area building addition where Benedict and Laura now sit.  With the bar area catering to sports mad enthusiasts watching tv on the big screen, whilst playing pool on several pool tables.  Laura and Benedict are seated  in the non-bar  side of the restaurant.

 

Yet, the family dining area is warm and welcoming.  Only if Benedict and Laura were sitting at one of the small round tables in front of the fireplace could they have had a toastier seat and better view of the dancing firelight.  But then, that would have also put them on display as they are chatting.  And frankly, neither Benedict nor Laura wants to be on display, as it were—and  ogled by others—especially when they are trying to get to know and understand each other better.  So the relative obscurity of an out of the way side booth affords them some privacy.

Benedict:   “Laura, this restaurant is very nice and the food is delicious!.” Benedict nods his head approvingly at the cozy décor. He is really trying not to scowl, by maintaining a blandly pleasant facial expression [(3) right]. Then he takes another large bite of his turkey sandwich.

 

Laura warms  to this new, non-scowling Benedict sitting before her and sharing a meal with her.   And in truth, Benedict is warming to Laura.  Laura’s long silky rich auburn hair [(4) right]  flowing over her shoulder framing her unblemished and healthily rosey complexion with only a sparing hint of makeup is quite alluring to Benedict—as evidenced by his mouth threatening to curl at their edges into what many might presume to be a smile.

 

Laura:  “Yes, I like it, Benedict.  This restaurant is less formulaic than a chain restaurant and has a bit more ambience.  The booth cushions are particularly comfy.”  Laura blanches slightly at mentioning such a mundane aspect of the restaurant—in that her tush is comfily cushioned.  Then her face flushes pink with embarrassment.

 

Benedict:   “Ha ha ha!”  He smiles warmly at her. “I agree.  If one is to sit and enjoy their meal, then the seating should be more comfortable than a monk’s spare cell.”

 

Laura: “Oh?  And have you experienced such privations as a monk’s cell?” She asks teasingly.  However, Benedict takes her question literally and responds to it.

 

Benedict:  Rolling his eyes in recalling that particular memory, he explains.  “I did, indeed.  It was a weekend Diocesan retreat in Wisconsin one June, years ago.  The Bishop at the Diocese that I served thought that it would be good for his parish priests—and diocesan priest administrators, such as myself at the time—to get back to basics, austerity.  Which was rather ironic since the man wore the purple as if he were royalty—receiving every deference due to his rank.”  Benedict smiles with a self-effacing chagrin.

 

Laura: “Ha ha ha!  So he was quite full of himself?”

 

Benedict:    “Yes.  But, I don’t mean to imply that our Bishop then was arrogant.  Quite the contrary. He was a good and kind hearted and faith filled man.  He simply felt that his rank as Bishop was due certain small courtesies.   So when we pulled up to what was essentially a small mansion on lushly verdant grounds leading down to the lake, we thought that our stay there wouldn’t be so bad.”  Laura looks at him quizzically, wondering if he will get to the point of his tale.  “You see, the brotherhood that leased the historic mansion were not allowed to alter its lovely architectural elements and décor, but for a separate education building set back from the mansion which was the monks domain to alter as they liked. And there is where they had one monk’s cells for visitors to experience overnight—complete with a stretched rope cot, a single candle for light when the night became dark, a ceramic basin and pitcher with water, and a bucket for … necessities.”  He intones sheepishly at that last description.

 

Laura: Her eyes widen, and she asks in a hushed voice.  “You didn’t have to stay in the monk’s cell, did you, Benedict?”
Benedict: “Oh yes.”  I nod my head ruefully.  “I drew the short straw—literally—and wound up in the monk’s cell the first night.”

 

Laura: “That sounds horrible.”

 

Benedict:  “Oh, it was.  Well!  It was certainly not comfortable.”

 

Laura:  “I would never wish to experience such privation on purpose.”  Yet Laura being aware that society is filled with children and families less fortunate than she, is one reason why she volunteers at the Children’s Group Home of Chicago.    “AndI have never enjoyed roughing it in the wild, like camping—despite my enjoying scenery with some light hiking in state and national parks.  However, I’m more f an indoor girl—relishing all of the modern amenities for overnight and multi day stays anywhere.”  Laura quirks up her eyebrow with bemused smile.

 

Benedict:  “Ha ha ha!”  Benedict chuckles and Laura smiles at his easy manner.  “Yet I give credit to those who separate themselves from modern conveniences so as not to distract themselves from their devotion.  But for myself, I live and work among everyday people, using everyday modern conveniences.”

 

Laura: “Such as electricity?”

 

Benedict:  “Indeed!”  Then shifting their topic of conversation slightly away from himself, Benedict asks. “Well Laura, maybe I should consult you about acclimating myself to town more? I have never been to this restaurant before.  But it is a gem that I have missed in my solitary life here so far.”  He laughs.

 

Laura:  “Oh?  How long have you been living here Benedict?”  Laura takes a bite of her rare roast beef sandwich.

 

Benedict:   “I came here  mid year in January sixteen months ago, Laura.  So, with the cold and snow early on, I never gave myself a proper tour of town, except to the nearby grocery store for a few food stuffs, or to the mall for my clothes.  No actually, I tend to buy most of my clothes online—from England.  Or when I go home there on holidays and some Christmases.”  And Laura thinks wryly, of course—of him procuring his clothing from England.  America has tailors, too.  “And my teaching work keeps me quite busy, such that I have not,  as of yet, attended in any cultural entertainments in the area.”  Benedict admits sheepishly shrugging his shoulders.

 

Laura:  “Not even our university’s local Shakespeare Festival theatre in repertory each Summer?”  Benedict slowly shakes his head no.  “But Will is your guy?”  She teases him about the playwright William Shakespeare.

 

Benedict:  Benedict tilts his head sheepishly.  “I do appreciate Shakespeare’s plays.  It’s just that I am not fond of large crowds, such as theatres or cinemas. For whatever the reason, …” He dissembles.  “… I prefer smaller venues—something more intimate.  I don’t know if it is the crowd noise or the jostling by people passing by me, but large spaces with large crowds does not appeal.”

 

Laura:  “Sorry Benedict, but that sounds so …”

 

Benedict:   “Pathetic?”  He asks cheekily with a small smile.

 

Laura:  “No. Ha ha ha!”  She laughs.  “Given your profession, I was going to say ascetic.  Afterall, you did brave spending the night in a monk’s cell.”

 

Benedict:   “Good one!”   He laughs.  “Although, do I come off that austere?”  Or worse, he wonders–severe?

 

Laura:  “Well …” She says slowly, trying to come up with a diplomatic response.  “I’m sure you fit right in at the seminary.”  She tries to say benignly.

 

Benedict:   “Laura, is that a somewhat not so careful way of saying that I’m boring?”  Benedict gives her a nonplussed look.

 

Laura:  “Now Benedict, you’re not boring, just … reserved.”  She smiles sweetly at him.

 

Benedict:   “God!  Caleb was right!  I’ve got to get off campus more and be more fun!”  Benedict says amusingly exasperated while shaking his head and laughing, and swearing.

 

Laura:  “Ooh, Benedict!  Are you allowed to swear like that?”  Laura winces worriedly about Benedict taking god’s name in vain.  She doesn’t mind, it is just that she wonders if she is a bad influence on him. Whereas Benedict would say that she is a very good influence on him.

 

Benedict:   “Don’t worry, Laura.  I’ll confess and say I’m sorry.  I’ll smooth it over with the big guy.”  He smiles cheekily pointing to heaven.

 

Laura:  Laura blinks, then laughs right along with Benedict.  “Okay Benedict, where did this guy come from?”  She says gesturing to him and shaking her head incredulously with a broad smile.   “I’m not complaining, mind you.  But, it’s like I spent the morning with your curmudgeonly twin and now the nice, funny, and charming twin has come out to play.”   She flutters her eyelashes quickly and quite comically to try to soften her frank expression of her initial perceptions of him from the morning.

 

Benedict:   He laughs. again  “Ha ha h!  I guess it takes me a while to warm up to new people.”  He shrugs his shoulders and rolls his eyes.

 

Laura:  “Three hours?”  She laughs bemusedly.

 

Benedict:   “Ha! Well, as I said, I don’t get out much.”  He says blanching amusingly while pouting his lips.

 

Laura:   “I guess not!”  She laughs, too. “But what about when you’re in front of a classroom of thirty or more students, or at a church service.  Do those situations make you uncomfortable?”

 

Benedict: “No, hmmm.”  I tilt my head upward and l look up at the ceiling.  The answer to my private question isn’t written on the ceiling.  But I do hazard a guess, since Laura has been watching me so patiently, allowing me time to think and respond.  “I guess in those situations, there is a structure that is familiar and comfortable—and I suppose that I have a sense of control.  That is especially true in church where I literally invite people to stand up, sit, or kneel. Ha ha ha ha ha!”

 

Laura: “Really?  Well then you’re a regular Simon Says.” I smile at him minxishly.

 

Benedict: “Simon says?”  I ask quizzically.

 

Laura: “You know, the old kid’s game?”  Benedict shakes his head at me.  “You really do need to get out more and live a little, Benedict.”

 

Benedict: “Well, my six year old nephew Caleb in London says that I need to …”  Then Benedict scrunches his nose trying to give an impression of his nephew, and he also speaks in a higher whiny voice.  “…  try to be more fun, Uncle Benedict.”

 

Laura: “Ha ha ha ha ha!  Oh, Benedict!  Your impression of your nephew is hilarious!  If you ever switch careers, I think you could …”

 

Benedict: He interrupts her.  “Become a comedian?”

 

Laura:  Patting his hand across the table from her, she sighs in mock pity. “Now now, Benedict, no need to overreach. You would starve trying to make a living as a comedian.  No, I was thinking about your obvious affinity for young children—with your nephew Caleb and tutoring Jeffrey—and more along the lines of your becoming a kindergarten teacher.”  I smile brightly at him.

 

Benedict: “Oh.”  He mopes disappointedly.

 

Laura: “I’m kidding, Benedict.”  The man is rather literal.  But, he is also a bit endearing.

 

Benedict: “Well, what of you?”

 

Laura: “Well, I enjoy my work helping students navigate college as they prepare for their future lives and careers.”

 

Benedict:  “Any hobbies or other interests outside of work?”  Laura looks at me hesitantly.  “Well, I shared with you, now it’s your turn to share with me.”

 

Laura: “Right.  That whole give and take of the conversation thing -a majig.”  I nod my head.

 

Benedict:  “The what?”  It sometimes feels like Laura speaks a foreign language that I never learned with all the slang phrases she uses.

 

Laura: “Hhhh!  “The conversational interaction between two people—such as you and I.”

 

Benedict: “Hmmm.”  I ponder her word choice.  “Is that what we’re doing, Laura?  Interacting?”

 

Laura: “Well, wouldn’t you call it that?”  I am sure that I am blushing—and at my age.

 

Benedict: “I would.  But now you’re misdirecting me from your answering my question.  And I am truly curious to know more about you.   What are your interests?”

 

Feeling awkward about revealing a bit about herself, Laura searches for something banal that she can tell him.

 

Laura:  “I like and appreciate antiques—furniture and other artifacts.”

 

Benedict: “Ah!  So does your home’s décor reflect your sensibilities?”  He doesn’t quite envision her home as a Victorian explosion, but he believes that it would still be very feminine with touches of pastels and flowery details.

 

Laura: “Not currently.  I would say that I am more electric with a mix of some antique pieces from my family or that I have acquired, within a more modern context of clean unornamented lines in warm wood furniture, as well as, metal and glass—like my computer work station desk.”

 

Benedict: “Hmmm.  That sounds very intriguing.  I am trying to picture what that might look like in my mind.”

Laura: “Well, Benedict, I have simply decided that as I have gotten older, that materials sets lining my book shelves.  Once I got to five glass and marble paperweight—of millefiori [(5) right] and other glass paperweight design styles–I stopped cold turkey.  And I haven’t bought another paperweight since.

 

 

But I do love the blown glass paperweights on display they have at the Art Institute of Chicago—very lovely.  And don’t get me wrong, I have a few old family pieces that I treasure for the memories attached to them.  But mostly … I don’t want to have to dust them.”  I state with a dead pan expression and voice.

 

Benedict:  “Indeed!  I should not imagine that anyone enjoys dusting.”

 

Laura: “Nor vacuuming.  So minimalist living is best for me.  If some new objet comes in, then something else has  to go out.  I am ruthless that way.”  I try to give Benedict my best stern facial expression, but it almost hurts to scowl like often does. Except, I realize that Benedict hasn’t scowled once while we’ve been here at the restaurant.  Though I suppose it is hard to scowl and eat at the same time.  But I definitely like this more easygoing Benedict.

 

Benedict: “Laura, perhaps you have a more monk like aesthetic.  Just kidding.”  Benedict raises his eyebrows up teasingly and they both chuckle.

 

***

 

Perhaps they are tempting fate, but after each of them paying for their own meals, Benedict and Laura each feel a tug to spend a little more time with each other today.  So knowing that the restaurant has a companion bar tavern section with  pool tables, Laura challenges him to a game of pool.

 

Laura: “I feel that I need to work off some of what we ate.  Ha ha ha!  Care for a game of pool?”  I gesture to the bar/tavern section of the restaurant– with five pool tables, two of which are empty.

 

Benedict: “Ah!”  I think about her offer.  Obviously for too long, because she interjects before I respond with my answer.

 

Laura: “Oh, sorry!  Are you not allowed to play pool as a minister?  I had a friend who taught at a religiously affiliated school once and they were not allowed to play cards, or risk dismissal.”  My eyes go wide at such an inane rule.

 

Benedict: “No, I mean, yes, we may play pool.  As far as I know, the ten commandments have not stretched to an 11th—Thou shalt not play pool.”  I lean down and raise my left eye brow in mock solemnity.

 

Laura: “Ha ha ha ha ha!”  I try to cover my mouth, but that was really wittily irreverent of Benedict.

 

Benedict: “Ha ha ha!  I can’t help but laugh with Laura.  Her joy and enthusiasm for life is quite infectious.

 

Laura:  “Benedict!  You are being such a naughty man.”

 

Benedict: “I’m glad that you noticed, Laura.”  I smile.  And I feel good about smiling again—and about being irreverent.

 

After we rent our pool cues for $5 each—if we make this a habit, we will definitely have to bring our own pool cues—and $10 for an hour at the open pool table ensconced in the middle of the other pool tables, I set the balls in the rack and gesture to Laura to play as I stand off to the side.

 

Benedict: “Ladies first.”  I smile warmly at her.

 

Laura: “Thank you.  You may be surprised, but I am quite the avid pool player.”

 

Benedict:  “Oh?”

 

Laura: I lean over the table and shoot the cue ball into the triangle of balls that Benedict had racked up at the other end.  The balls disperse to every bumper on the table, my managing to drop two balls into corner pockets.  “Yes!”  I stand up and smile.

 

Benedict:  “Oh!  I sense that you have, indeed, played this game before.”

 

Laura: “And taken 3rd place in the women’s division one year of an annual pool tournament held on my alma mater’s campus when I was an undergrad twenty years ago.”  I casually mention while I line up my next shot.

 

Benedict watches her carefully.  Then the hairs on the back of his neck prickle and he looks behind him.  It seems that some of the other pool table patrons have taken an interest in Laura—especially when she leans over the table to make her shot—her thus unintentionally displaying her jeans skirt covered bum to charming effect.

 

But gentlemen do not ogle a ladies backside—at least, not in England– no matter how tempting it is.  And I feel that I must protect her somehow from their unvarnished and lustful stares.  So I walk around the pool table and stand behind her, looking away from her and glaring at the three men who are the most blatant voyeurs since the other men already turned away and returned to their games.

 

Benedict: “May I help you, gentlemen?” I growl in a hushed whisper so that Laura cannot hear.  I would not have her become self-conscious about her person. She has a right to have a beautiful figure without receiving uncouth attentions about it.   I tarry glaring at the men until they turn and go—and even then, I stand my ground for a moment longer.

 

Laura: I was concentrating so much on which shot that I should make next, that I didn’t realize that Benedict had moved, until the back of my pool cue hits his chest when I try to shoot.  “Benedict?  What are you doing there?  I’m trying to shoot, and you’re standing in the way.”

 

Benedict: “My apologies, Laura.  I was crossing to the other side of the table and …  I became transfixed with your technique.”  I finish gamely.  No need to alert her to a disdainful situation that I have already resolved.

 

Laura:  “Well then step back and watch.”  I smile at him.  It wouldn’t do to injure my   …  I was going to think date, but I’m not sure that is what this is.  He didn’t pay for my meal, I did, on purpose.

 

And I do step back, then Laura runs the table—as she calls it—as she sinks every remaining ball into a pocket.  Her pool skills are simliar to my basketball skills—hidden talents, that others might not guess that we possess.

 

Benedict:  “Well done!”  I clap my hands in honor of her win.  “Best two out of three games?”  I suggest.

 

Laura nods and we go on to play and banter back and forth.  She lets me open our second game of pool—which was the only way that I was able to get to shoot.  But she handily beats me at all three games.  Then bouncing and twirling  in the air as she did earlier with our around the world basketball game with Jeffrey, Laura’s elation is palpable—and adorable.

 

Laura:  “She shoots, she scores!”  I cheer excitedly.  Rarely have I exhibited my pool skills to a man, who smiles in amusement at being so thoroughly trounced by me.

 

Benedict:  “I see that I will have to improve my play to bring it up to your level, Laura. Well done!”  I grin broadly at her.

 

Laura: “Thank you!  So you’re not upset at losing to me?”  I ask shyly.

 

Benedict: “Not at all.  Shall we play again sometime?”  I lean toward her and whisper into her hear with my deep baritone voice.  And she nods her head.

 

After we return our pool cues to the barman, I look over at the rude men from earlier.  I raise my eyebrow to them again.  They shrug their shoulders and nod once at me.  I may be rusty at dating and courtship—and certainly in playing pool–but I feel justified in believing that my superiority of character, as a gentleman, won out today.

 

I let Laura precede me out of the restaurant as I lean into the door way and hold the door open for her—her lightly brushing past me with her hand briefly resting on my oxford shirt covered forearm holding the door open.  Her brief touch is so warm, yet so welcome.    She seems to notice our touch as feeling something more, when she looks up searchingly into my eyes, then smiles at me.  I return her lovely smile.

 

And I realize that I am enjoying myself, with Laura—when I didn’t think that I would.  I am out of practice chatting up a lady.  Except, I feel comfortable with Laura.

 

I don’t know what my feelings mean yet.  But I’m willing to see if we can develop a friendly relationship.  And for each of Benedict and Laura, these statements are both true—surprisingly so, considering how awkwardly they started out.

 

So mission accomplished, as Laura would say—she and Benedict have begun to understand each other a little better.  Benedict and Laura go on to enjoy the rest of their now friendly conversation as Benedict drives Laura back to her car parked at the Children’s Group Home of Chicago.  Benedict feels less like an outsider and Laura feels that Benedict might actually be a male volunteer with some staying power—for the kids, and maybe, for her as well.

 

To be continued with Chapter 5

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 04,  July 16, 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) Image (cropped) representing Pritzker’s Deli’s charming family dining room section was found at http://www.caperesorts.com/wp-content/gallery/blue-pig-tavern-home/blue-pig-tavern-at-congress-hall-cape-may.jpg

3) RAPortrait–2012–RichardArmitage-inwht-shirt-grey-coat-andRed-bkgrnd_Nov3016viaKitty_Jul1517Grati-sized-rusty-red-backdrop

4) Laura Leicester image is of Jennifer Ehle in a still from A Gifted Man found at   http://img.poptower.com/pic-74447/jennifer-ehle.jpg?d=600

5)  An example of a millefiori glass paperweight was found at http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/94444?search_no=9&index=4 ; and for more about Millefiori, visit  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millefiori

 

Wattpad Ch. 04 story link:
https://www.wattpad.com/441358284-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 03 blog link, with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-03-miscommunications-and-around-the-world-july-09-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1075

 

 

Posted in Creative Writing, Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Society, Something About Love | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pilgrimage:  Richard Armitage as a Norman Knight,  July 15, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1077)

The talented versatile British actor Richard Armitage tweeted a link to an interview he gave to the Irish Examiner about his new film being released “Pilgrimage”.

There are some new and interesting responses by Richard Armitage in this interview—about both the beautiful and pristine Irish landscapes as the backdrop for part of the film– s well as, the landscape of his character Sir Raymond de Merville (image below).

Pasted below are a few selected quotes by Richard Armitage:

““We were largely out in Connemara in western Ireland. To me it felt Nordic in a way,” says Armitage.”

““I was really interested first of all in playing a character where I would be speaking a different language. I was interested in that world. …””

“”I guess I always hunt for something new and exciting and a challenge I haven’t tried before. …”” 

Most good drama –and even comedy—has at its heart a conflict.  And in the film “Pilgrimage”, the conflict is both a clash for power and prestige, as well as, a determination by the monks to fulfill their holy mission in taking their sacred relic to Rome at the Pope’s behest.

These are timeless–and ever repeating through history–constructs of man (in this film’s case, literally) trying to control their world.  And for Richard Armitage’s character in seeking to gain mastery over and possession of the holy relic–that is said to be able to discern whether a man is a faithful and devoted servant of god—Sir Raymond, no doubt, seeks to elevate his family’s prestige and power.

The article also shares the 2017 video trailer for “Pilgrimage”.

I have not yet seen the film “Pilgrimage”—it is set to open in the U.S. on August 11, 2017.  But I will be interested to see whether the film merely focuses upon male domination and the ways in which they inflict their supremacy over and upon each other—often violently, it seems from some early reviews.  Or will this film’s heart about the sacred relic, reveal the unfolding layers of the human soul of these wandering monks and Sir Raymond—each of them striving to achieve a personal peace in their own way, and as it is meaningful to them?

I hope that it is more of the latter, than the former.

P.S.  And I will leave you with a new and stunning image (below) of Richard Armitage portraying Sir Raymond de Merville, thanks to smolverine:

 

Posted in "Pilgrimage" film, Drama, Fiction, Gratiana Lovelace, Historical Fiction, Middle Ages, movies, Pilgrimage, Richard Armitage, smoulder, Social Justice, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

THUD Thursday:  Richard Armitage Style,  July 13, 2017  Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1076)

I am a woman of a certain age and of certain sensibilities—of the Jane Austen variety.  I like my male romantic leads in stories that I read—and that I write—to be:

  1. effortlessly handsome yet not narcissistic about his appearance;

    as Harry Kennedy in “The Vicar of Dibley”, 2006
  2. smoulderingly stubborn, in that he has not been swayed to change the way that he lives his life … yet;

    as Sir Guy of Gisborne in “Robin Hood”, 2009
  3. gentlemanly to a fault, despite his underlying passions that threaten to erupt at any moment (oh goody!);

    as John Thornton in “North & South”, 2004
  4. employing his skills and talents toward a lofty purpose, though often misunderstood;

    as Lucas North in “Spooks”, 2009
  5. and, seemingly unattainable, because every woman loves a challenge;

    as John Porter in “Chris Ryan’s Strike Back”, 2010 (original)

So whenever I think of the endlessly talented British actor Richard Armitage in one of his many character incarnations—or even as just himself—I am inspired to reflect upon and paraphrase dear Jane Austen:

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a” large fan following, we “take an eager interest” in his next character portrayal.

Richard Armitage, Jane Hotel photoshoot, 2016

*THUD*!

P.S. Thanks to the following ladies who had earlier shared the images above (in the order shown):
Katie K., Simonne M., Olga, RAFrance, Isabelle W, and Simonne M.

Posted in Beauty, Fangurling, Gratiana Lovelace, Harry Kennedy, Humor, Jane Austen, John Porter, John Thornton, Love and Relationships, Lucas North, Portraits, Pride & Prejudice, Richard Armitage, Robin Hood, Romance, Sir Guy of Gisborne, smoulder, Society, Something About Love, THUD Thursday | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 03:  Miscommunications and Around the World,  July 09, 2017 Gratiana Lovelace (Post #1075)

An original contemporary romance copyrighted by Gratiana Lovelace; All rights reserved)  [(1) story cover, left]

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:  New Chicago Children’s Group Home tutor volunteer the Rev. Prof. Benedict Somerset meets seasoned volunteer Laura Leicester this Saturday, March 29th.  They help little Jeffrey with his twos additions tables by singing the “Inchworm” song with him.  But though Jeffrey is a big fan of Laura’s, the reserved Benedict is taken aback by her seemingly wanting to pigeonhole him into stereotypes of reserved Brit guy—he is that, he is just not accustomed to people telling him so.  And Benedict thinks Laura is attractive, but her frank questions and observations catch Benedict off guard, and he doesn’t know quite what to make of her.

 

“Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 03:
Miscommunications and Around the World


Laura Leicester and Benedict Somerset sit quietly at a study table at the Chicago Children’s Group Home on Saturday, March 29th while waiting for Jeffrey to return after putting his homework away in his bedroom– before they will take him outside to play since they helped him finish his homework.

There is a slightly awkward silence since these two adults don’t know each other—even though they just broke down several personal embarrassment boundaries as they  sang Jeffrey’s math homework with him.

Then realizing that Benedict’s British reserve might be keeping him from being loquacious, Laura decides to break the ice.

Laura:  “Benedict, you have a very nice singing voice.”   She says smiling warmly at him.

Benedict:   “Thank you, Laura.  You do as well.”  Benedict says graciously.  “But, I don’t actually sing much.”

Laura:  “Oh?  Is that a British aversion?  Or just your own?”  Laura asks cheerfully.

Benedict:   “Pardon?”  Again, Benedict is not sure if Laura is disparaging him or not. He slightly frowns [(2) right] at her in confusion.  Though he’s been in the States quite a while now–over two decades—Benedict is still newish to this Midwestern town near Chicago, him arriving mid-year only a year and a half ago.  And Benedict is shy with meeting new people–or, meeting new women as in Laura’s case.

Laura:  “I’m sorry, Benedict.  We don’t seem to be very copacetic with each other.”  The slang term copacetic [(3)] is a word that she picked up from the college kids she is around all the time as an Academic Advisor.

Benedict:   “Pardon?”  Benedict asks again quizzically at her use of an American slang term that he is unfamiliar with.  And Benedict not knowing something is very rare for him.  Afterall, he has been in the U.S. for over twenty-four years.  And of course ,he knows what the word means in general use–but with Laura using the word as slang, he makes no assumptions–unlike her, he thinks.

Laura:  “What I meant to say is that  we’re not on the same page.”  Benedict’s eyebrow rises higher.  “And I get the impression that you’re taking some of the things that I say the wrong way.  Or at least, not in the way that I intend then.”  Laura back peddles, trying not to sound accusatory of Benedict.

Now that last statement of Laura’s to him is something that Benedict can agree with.  But he wants to hear from Laura what she defines as him perceiving she is insulting him, versus her merely being slightly culturally insensitive—to him being a Brit.  Benedict would not go so far as to say that Laura is being inconsiderate nor impolite.  But he does think she could scale back her making assumptions about him.

Benedict:   “Such as?”  He intones imperiously and economically—under five words.  He is interested to hear how she explains herself.  It is Benedict’s ingrained ministerial training:  listen, observe, reflect, then comment.

Laura thinks that Benedict’s sparing form of communication might be part of his problem.  When in truth, Benedict is less prone to rush to assumptions as Laura seems to do.

Laura:  “Well, …”  Laura thinks for a moment for an example.  “… I’m sorry that I thought that you were Canadian.”  She winces.

Benedict:   “Ha, ha, ha!”  He chuckles softly and smiles.  “Not to worry.  Afterall, Canada is in the Commonwealth.”  Then he waits to see if Laura identifies any of her other misstatements, in his view.

Laura:   “And, … I didn’t mean to pry about what you do for a living.  You seem …”

Benedict:   “Yes?”  He asks warily–wondering what assumption she will make next.

Laura:  “You seem like a very private person.”  She completes her thought diplomatically.

Benedict:   “I am.”   Benedict nods and smiles at her shyly. He gives her that point for accurately perceiving one aspect of his personality.

Laura:   Laura laments that Benedict is back to short answers again.  “Well, if we see each other on future Saturdays, perhaps you’ll drop a veil or two.”   Laura tries to say amusingly while using an old American idiom.

Benedict:    “I’m sorry that you think I’m so enigmatic.”  He says crisply—him being a bit miffed again at her.

Laura:  “Hmmm.”  Laura thinks that Benedict is complimenting himself too much with that characterization–and her thoughts show on her face  [(4) right].

Benedict:  “What now?”  Benedict asks her–his voice tinged with growing annoyance, born of his discomfiture in conversing awkwardly with the lovely Laura.  Benedict realizes that he is botching his conversations with Laura, but he doesn’t know how to improve their communication.

Laura:  “I’m sorry, Benedict.”  She says sheepishly shrugging her shoulders.  “But, my mind is puzzling as to whether your circumspection is due to your profession–clergy, undertaker, or spy…”   She rolls her eyes amusingly at Jeffrey’s spy guess. “… or perhaps you simply have a general shyness in meeting new people, as opposed to you just being British.”  She adds a tad cheekily—her unintentionally stereotyping him again.

Benedict:   “Oh.  … Well, you are partially correct.”   Benedict admits sheepishly and nods his head with a small smile.

Laura:  “See?  Benedict, your partial answer doesn’t clue me into anything at all about you.”  She smiles shaking her head ruefully.

Benedict:   “Well, what is it you do, Laura?  Are you a psychologist, police interrogator, or something to do with the CIA?”  He asks looking askance at her–and with his eyes slightly narrowed–based on her probing personal questions.

Laura:  “Ha!  No!”  She laughs.  “I’m an Academic Advisor at our local public university.”

Benedict:   Benedict’s face softens as his body’s tension lessens.  “Ah.  Well, then Laura, we might run into each other now and again at university functions.  I teach theology at the Chicago Seminary College and some of our CSC bachelor’s degree students take their general education courses at the university.”

Laura:  “Ah, so clergy it is.”  Laura says now thinking that she’s truly offended him.  “So, should I address you as Professor,  Father or Pastor?”  She asks politely.

Benedict:   “Not at all, Laura.”  Benedict smiles benignly.  “Clergy titles are reserved for individuals currently serving in a parish or other church body—and continue to be bestowed as an honorific in their retirement.  Though I have my doctor of theology  degree (Th.D) and I am an ordained minister, I don’t currently serve a congregation.”  Benedict admits that he’s a minister.  “Though my full professional title is the Rev. Dr.  Benedict Somerset, my students simply address me as Professor Somerset.”  He states matter of factly.

Laura:  Surprised that Benedict’s last two responses were long sentences–rather than the relatively short utterances she had heard from him earlier—Laura responds cheerfully.   “Well, I guess you come by your seeming reticence naturally then—your being both British and a theologian.”

Benedict:   Benedict narrows his eyes in slight consternation at her sterotyping him again.    After all, what is wrong with being British or a theologian?  Then he starts to clarify his interpretation of her statements. “Miss Leicester …”  But, they are providentially interrupted.

Jeffrey:  Running back to Benedict and Laura, Jeffrey says breathlessly.  “Let’s go play!”

Laura:  “Alright Jeffrey.”  She smiles at him warmly.  She’s glad to have Jeffrey as a buffer since Benedict was returning to formally addressing her as Miss Leicester, she realizes that she just can’t win with Benedict.  “I’ll let you boys go out and play for a while and I’ll join you in a minute.”

Jeffrey:  Grabbing a hold of Benedict’s hand, Jeffrey tugs on it and says.  “Come on, Mr. Benedict.  We can play around the world.”

Benedict:   “What’s that?”  Benedict asks looking at Jeffrey as he allows himself to be lead away.  Then Benedict glances back over his shoulder at Laura.

Laura:  “You’ll find out, Benedict.”  Laura waves at Benedict while smiling half heartedly at him–given their recent strained conversation, she thinks that it is a wonder that she can smile at all around him.

Why must conversing with a man–especially, when meeting someone new who is attractive to her–be so difficult?  But maybe that is the problem—attraction—because it adds another layer to the dimensions of their interactions, with Laura’s nervousness causing her to phrase things more frankly than she normally might.  And Laura knows that she thinks Benedict is handsome and gives him the benefit of the doubt on his ability to be appealing.  But Laura thinks that she is obviously far from his ideal choice for someone to be attracted to.  She bases her assumption on his frequent scowling.  When actually, Benedict is as frustrated as she is about their seeming miscommunications.

***

So, Jeffrey and Benedict go outside to play, while Laura visits the ladies room.  And then Laura goes to the front desk to chat with her friend Connie, the Associate Director and the Staff Volunteer Coordinator for the Chicago Children’s Group Home.

Connie:  “So Laura, how’s it going with Benedict?”  Connie asks with a twinkle in her eye.

Laura:  “What do you mean?”  Laura asks seemingly non-challantly.  But Connie won’t let her off the hook.  “Okay.  Benedict seems nice enough.  And Jeffrey seems to like him.”  She smiles wanly.

Connie:  “Oh!  Don’t you like him?  He is quite handsome.”  Connie says with her eyes dancing.

Laura:   “Oh, he is that.”  Laura tilts her head and smiles.  “But, our conversations have been a bit stilted, awkward, uncomfortable.  He’s not very forthcoming about himself.  And, I think he’s misconstrued what I’ve said.  Perhaps there is a cultural divide.  Hhhh!”  Laura sighs and shrugs her shoulders in defeat.

Connie:  “Oh?  Well, all I know is he is single and good looking.  If I weren’t happily married, I would certainly include him in my dating pool.”

Laura: “So you’re a cougar, Connie? Ha ha ha!”  They both laugh, though Connie is only fifteen years older than Benedict—only mildly cougarish.

Connie:  “Laura Honey, you know as well as I, that if the gender ages were reversed, no one would think anything odd about a fifteen years older man and a younger woman.  But you and  Benedict are just right, Laura Honey.”  Connie winks.

Laura:  Finally getting what her friend is alluding to, Laura says.  “Now Connie, you’re not trying to play matchmaker for Benedict and I, are you?  He’s an ordained minister.”

Connie:  “Maybe I am.  And what makes you think he’s a minister?    I thought he was a teacher at the CSC?”  Connie asks quizzically.  Since CSC is the Chicago Children’s Group Home’s institutional oversight body, Benedict came highly recommended.

Laura:  “Benedict finally revealed that he teaches theology at the seminary, he has a doctor of theology degree, and that he is also an ordained minister–but that he doesn’t work at a parish currently.   No wonder he’s so staid and restrained.” Laura rolls her eyes.

Connie:  “Oh.  I thought it was just because he was British.”

Laura:  Laughing, she says   “Ha ha ha!  That’s what I thought.   Well, with Benedict being British, it doesn’t help matters since they are reserved any way.”  It’s not that Laura knows many Brits, she has simply watched and read a lot of Regency romances—such as by Jane Austen on PBS.

Connie:  “But do you like Benedict, Laura?”  Connie asks pointedly.

Laura:  “Connie, I just met him and I barely know him.”    Laura shakes her head ruefully–because at the rate she and Benedict are going, they’re not likely to get to know each other better.  “Besides, I’ve long ago given up on finding love.   I’m content with my life.”  Laura says resignedly.  But Connie thinks Laura is just settling as Connie raises her eyebrow at her.  “Oh Connie.  Let’s not have me go down a path that only has a relationship cliff at the end of it.”

***

Meanwhile, Jeffrey and Benedict walk outside to the basketball court and Jeffrey explains the game to him.

Jeffrey:  “Okay Mr. Benedict.  We’re going to play around the world.”  He says bouncing his basketball up and down.

Benedict:   “What game is that, Jeffrey?”  He asks with trepidation.  “I didn’t bring my exercise clothes with me.”  He says gesturing to his dress trousers and pressed shirt.

Jeffrey:  “Oh, this isn’t a running around game, Mr. Benedict.  We throw the ball at the basket and if we make it, then we get one letter in the word world.  Whoever gets the word done first wins.”

Benedict:   “Very well.  That sounds doable.”

So, Benedict and Jeffrey play around the world and little Jeffrey is a decent basketball shooter.  Benedict is too–having played on an intramural college basketball team when he was in college himself.  But Benedict doesn’t display his basketball abilities and he lets Jeffrey win.  They end up playing two rounds before Laura joins them again.

Laura:  “Well, how’s it going?”  She asks cheerfully walking toward them smiling.  Laura decides to try to be cheerful in talking with Benedict–in case it will help smooth over their interactions.

Jeffrey:  Jeffrey runs over to Laura and hugs her around her waist as she pats his back.  “Oh Miss Laura, we’re having so much fun!  I won two games of around the world so far!”

Laura:  “Oh?”  Laura looks over at Benedict and tilts her head with a small smile.

Benedict:   Benedict walks closer to Jeffrey and Laura.  “Yes, Jeffrey is quite an accomplished around the world player.”  Benedict says smiling and patting Jeffrey on his head.

Jeffrey:  “Now you can play with us, Miss Laura.”  Jeffrey says tugging at her hand as he drags her to the half basketball court.

Laura:  “Oh, don’t expect much.”  She says looking sheepishly at both of them.  “My five foot four inch self has never been good at this.  I’m too far away from the basket. Ha ha ha!”  She laughs self deprecatingly.  Laura aims at the basket and does indeed miss it–though not by much.

Benedict:   “That was close.”  Benedict allows graciously.  “Jeffrey and I are already warmed up.  So try it again, Laura.”  Benedict says encouragingly as he hands Laura the basketball.  “Give the ball a little more spin.”

Jeffrey:  “You can do it, Miss Laura.”  Jeffrey cheers encouragingly as only a sweet six year old can.

Laura:  “Uhh!”  She grunts as she hurls the ball toward the basket.  And it swishes in.  “She shoots, she scores!”  Laura exclaims excitedly and raising her arms triumphantly in the air as she twirls around–with Laura’s long silky hair swishing as she does so that Benedict notices.

Benedict:   “Well done!”  Benedict smiles benignly, quietly amused at Laura’s excitement–especially since excitement is not an emotion that Benedict lets himself give in to very often, not at all actually.  “Here you go Jeffrey.”

Jeffrey:  Standing half way closer to the basket for the kid throwing line, Jeffrey tosses his ball and misses.  “Oh darn!”

Laura:  “Uh, that’s too bad. But Jeffrey, why don’t you say oh phooey next time?  It sounds nicer.”  Laura says looking back and forth at Jeffrey and the minister Benedict.

Benedict:   “That’s fine, Jeffrey. Don’t worry on my account.  Darn works.”  Benedict says waving his hand in slight protest at Laura.  “Here Jeffrey, try it again.”   Benedict says warmly as he hands Jeffrey the ball.

Jeffrey:  “Thanks Mr. Benedict.”  He shoots and the basket goes in.  “Yea!  Now it’s your turn, Mr. Benedict.”

Benedict:   “Thank you, Jeffrey.”  Benedict says oh so politely in receiving the ball.  Benedict stands there, bounces the ball once, then Benedict does an effortless toss and his basketball swishes in the basket.  “Ah.  A lucky throw.”  Benedict says dismissively and humbly.  Though he can’t seem to stifle the small smile curling at the edges of his lips.  He wanted to impress Laura, just a little.

Laura:  “I don’t know, Benedict.”  Laura says looking at Benedict questioningly with a small smile as she tilts her head and raises her eyebrow.  “I’m beginning to think that maybe you have more basketball skills than you’re letting on.”  She says teasingly.

Benedict shrugs his shoulders and tilts his head with a small smile as he raises his eyebrow.  The three of them continue to play around the world and Laura begins to notice a pattern.  When Jeffrey is successful and makes his basket and letter in the word world, then Benedict also makes his basket.    When Jeffrey misses his basket, then Benedict misses his basket.  Finally the game ends with Jeffrey winning again since he finished his world word letters first.  Laura smiles knowingly at Benedict, but does not reveal his kindness to Jeffrey.

Jeffrey:  “Thanks Mr. Benedict and Miss Laura!  This was fun!”  He says giving them each a hug.  And Benedict and Laura hug Jeffrey back.  “And I liked the adding song.”

Laura:  “I’m glad, Jeffrey.”  Seeing the other children walking inside, she gestures.  “It looks like they’re calling you in for lunch now.  You have a fun rest of your day and I’ll see you next Saturday.”

Benedict:   “Yes, it’s been fun meeting you, Jeffrey.”  He leans down and shakes Jeffrey’s hand.

Jeffrey:  Jeffrey starts skipping away toward the building and lunch.  Then he turns back to Laura and Benedict and says.  “This week in school, we’re working on threes.  I can’t wait to learn its song.”  Then he runs into the building.

***

Laura:  “Oh dear, Benedict.  Ha ha ha.  I fear that I’ve started something with introducing an addition song to Jeffrey.”  She laughs shaking her head ruefully at Benedict.

Benedict:   Laughing he says.  “Ha ha ha.  Laura, if you will just give me a cheat sheet with the song lyrics next time, I’ll wing it with Jeffrey.”  Benedict smiles kindly.  And Laura likes Benedict’s kind smile.

Laura and Benedict walk back into the building to sign out for the day as volunteers.

Laura:  “So, we didn’t scare you off and you’ll be back next Saturday?”  Laura asks hesitantly looking up at Benedict from the sign out page.  She wonders if she scared him off.

Benedict:   Benedict thinks as he looks down at her, that Laura has a sweet face–open and honest, no guile to her.  “No. You didn’t scare me off.”  He says slowly while smiling–also smiling himself out.  “I’ll be back next Saturday.”

Connie smiles, too, and waves to Laura and Benedict as they leave the building.

Laura:  “Well, I’m glad that you’ll be back, Benedict.”  And she is.  “These kids–especially the boys–need more strong male role models.”  Laura says walking out the door toward her car with Benedict walking alongside her.

Benedict:   “Oh?  So, I’m a role model now, Laura?  Earlier, I wasn’t sure if I was meeting minimum volunteer expectations.”  Benedict says frankly as he looks at Laura with slightly clenched lips.

Laura:  “Benedict, somehow, I think you and I have misunderstood each other this morning.  We don’t seem to be communicating well with each other.”  She says truthfully.  “Why don’t we treat next Saturday’s volunteer stint as a fresh start?  Hmmm?”

Benedict:   “That seems fair.  But I don’t think we’ll do much better next week unless we first make an effort to understand each other before then.”  And he surprises himself with his boldness for what he will propose next.

Laura:  “I agree.”  She sighs resignedly.  “What do you suggest?”

Benedict:   “Well, let’s truly get to know each other better now, Laura.  Why don’t I take you out to lunch today?”   He says affably with a small smile, trying to seem gracious.  Benedict is unused to interacting with women unless they are clergy, teaching colleagues, or students—none of whom are eligible dating candidates for him.

Laura:  “Oh, I don’t know, Benedict.”  She says hesitantly and winces at him.   Laura thinks that she hasn’t shared a meal with a man for a long time–unless she’s been in a group of people.  And she doesn’t know if Benedict will think of lunch together as a date—but he has offered to pay.

Benedict:   Sensing Laura’s hesitation, Benedict retreats.  “I’m sorry, Laura.  Perhaps you have other plans, or you need to meet someone.”  Benedict wonders a bit interestedly, though he doesn’t notice that Laura’s rings are wedding or engagement rings.

Laura:  “No, I don’t have plans.”  Laura can’t figure how to get out of having lunch with Benedict gracefully.  And she would not lie to him and say that she is busy, when she is not.  Though Laura is not sure why she’s so nervous about going out to lunch with Benedict.   Benedict is a minister–which isn’t that objectionable, Laura thinks.  They help people—the good ones anyway.  And she feels that Benedict is a good one for some reason.  And hey, she has to eat.  “Hhhh.  Alright, Benedict.”  She sighs.  “But, let’s go dutch treat.”

Benedict:   “Very well.”  Benedict nods his head solemnly.  “Any thoughts on where you would like to go for lunch?”

Laura:  “Oh dear!”  Laura sighs–feeling that their lunch choice is also frought with possible complications.  “I’m happy with soup and/or sandwich type food–nothing fancy.  How about Pritzker’s Deli?”

Benedict:   “A deli sounds tasty.  That should work.”  Benedict nods his head approvingly.  “But I don’t know where it is.  Shall we take one car so I don’t get lost trying to follow you?  Traffic is quite heavy today.”

Laura:  “Sure.  Your car or mine.”  Laura feels comfortable enough and safe around Benedict now, with her knowing a little bit of his background.

Benedict:   “May we take mine?  I’m tall and I know that I fit in my car.”  He winces.

Laura:  “Fair enough.”  Laura smiles pleasantly at Benedict.  And he returns a pleasant smile in kind.

So, Benedict courteously opens his car’s passenger side door for Laura and she slides in and buckles herself up.  Benedict’s car is a smallish mid sized sedan, but he actually seems to fit his tall self into it.  And they drive to Pritzker’s Deli, a local sandwich shop and dine in restaurant for lunch.

Laura likes Benedict’s calm confidence. He does not try to persuade her, but presents options—such as suggesting that they get to know each other better via sharing lunch today.  She can’t explain it.  But Laura wants to get to know Benedict better.  And she relaxes in her car seat and watches Benedict drive—his eyes are facing forward, not deviating from his purpose.  She likes that about him.

And though Benedict is concentrating on his driving to the restaurant for lunch with Laura, he cannot help but glimpse Laura’s face when she gives him driving directions to the restaurant that require him to turn right.  Benedict believes that Laura is truly a natural beauty.  And her frank way of speaking that has unsettled him a bit today, is what he might now be more inclined now to charitably describe as forthright.  She is simply open and guileless.  And Laura is cheerful, which Benedict likes—a counterpart to his more reserved nature.

So lunch today between Benedict and Laura has the possibility of a new beginning between them.

To be continued with Chapter 4

 

References for “Somerset:  A Time to Love”, Ch. 03, July 09, 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 (mask, sepia, drkn, crop) is a 2012 portrait of Richard Armitage (photo by Robert Ashcroft) found at RANet http://www.RichardaArmitageNet.com

3) The slang meaning for the word copacetic may be found at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/copacetic

4) Laura Leicester image is of Jennifer Ehle in a still from A Gifted Man found at http://img.poptower.com/pic-74447/jennifer-ehle.jpg?d=600

 

Wattpad Ch. 03 story link:  
https://www.wattpad.com/437826947-somerset-a-time-to-love-by-gratiana-lovelace-2017

 

Previous Ch. 02 blog link, with embedded illustrations:

https://gratianads90.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/somerset-a-time-to-love-ch-02-a-not-so-ordinary-saturday-july-06-2017-gratiana-lovelace-post-1074

Posted in "Somerset: A Time to Love" by GL, Children at Risk, contemporary romance, Creative Writing, Drama, Fiction, Kindness, Love and Relationships, Richard Armitage, Role Model, Romance, smoulder, Social Justice, Society, Something About Love, Storytelling | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments