News of a Wedding/Span #writephoto

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Photo by Sue Vincent

Although my gaze was fixed upon the water as it rushed forth as if it were late for an appointment, my heart was otherwise engaged in a very distressing matter–a matter which has placed my very constitution for happiness in grave danger.

The whispers of the impending nuptials between George Allerton, my employer and the beautiful Lydia Bridewell have been growing louder.  Yesterday, I overheard Alice, the maid telling Beatrice, the cook that the wedding could be as early as a fortnight.  I wanted to inquire of Mrs. Moore, the housekeeper, if this were true but thought it best not to touch on the subject for fear of betraying my feelings if she did confirm it.  So, I held my tongue and suffered in silence.

For his part, Mr. Allerton has said nothing to me which I find to be very strange as it would be imperative for me to find employment elsewhere.  The thought of leaving Riverdale Manor, little Amy and Mr. Allerton fills me with torment.  Over a span of four years, I have grown to love my life here.  I cannot imagine finding the same happiness elsewhere.

Necessity bids me now to bring the matter of my leaving before Mr. Allerton as soon as possible.  I have made up my mind to broach the subject this evening after dinner and when we are alone in the drawing-room where he and I have spent many evenings together engaged in stimulating conversations.  It is obvious to me that he enjoys my company as much as I enjoy his and it warms my heart that he treats me not as a servant but as an equal.

My gaze swept over the beautiful landscape with the lush green grass and trees which swayed gently in the breeze.  I shall miss this place which has brought me such joy and peace.  I shall miss the solitude and the walks I have enjoyed with Mr. Allerton.   I shall miss seeing little Amy chasing after butterflies while I read or sketched.  And I shall miss Mrs. Moore who has been so kind and good to me.

Tears pricked my eyes and I turn to head back to the manor when I espied Mr. Allerton striding towards me.  I stood there, my heart racing.  Perhaps, he was coming to address the very matter I wanted to bring to his attention this evening.  He had been in town on business.  The manor was never the same when he wasn’t there.  When he went away for days and weeks at a time, it was torture for me.  I missed him dreadfully.

He was standing before me now, his hair as black as the night was tousled from his habit of running his fingers through the thick tresses and his face was slightly flushed from the exercise.  His eyes raked my face making me feel as little self-conscious.  I touched my face which felt hot.

“Miss Foster,” he said as he towered over me.  “I was told that I might find you here.  How have you been?”

I wanted to say that I have been miserable because he had been away and because of the news of Miss Bridewell and him.  Instead, I stepped back a little, attempted a smile and replied, “I have been well, Sir.”

He studied me with those penetrating dark brown eyes of his.  “You don’t look well,” he said, looking concerned.  “In fact, you look very pale.  Are you unwell?”

“No, Sir.  I’m fine.”

He didn’t look convinced but he didn’t press the matter.  “Let us stand over there in the shade,” he suggested.  I followed him over to a group of trees and we stood under their shade.

Perhaps now was the time for me to bring the matter of my leaving to his attention.  Taking a deep breath, my hands tightly clasped in front of me, I said, “Sir, it has come to my attention that I need to find myself another situation.  I will advertise and hopefully find a suitable position very soon.”

He stared at me.  “What the deuce are you talking about?” he demanded.  “What new situation and why should you advertise?  I think you may have been out in the sun too long, Miss Foster.”

“Sir, it would not do for me to remain in your employ after you are married.”

“Married?  Now, I know you have taken leave of your senses.  Where the devil did you get the idea that I’m getting married?”

“There has been talk of your upcoming nuptials to Miss Bridewell and—”

“Miss Bridewell and I?” he exclaimed.

“Yes, it is believed that in a fortnight you two shall wed.”

He laughed.  “It is true that in a fortnight, Miss Bridewell shall wed but it shall not be to me.”

I looked at him, confused.  “But, Sir, everyone said that she was to wed Mr. Allerton.”

“Yes, she is to wed James Allerton, my cousin.”

I was so overwhelmed with relief that I had to lean against the tree lest my legs give way beneath me.  When I heard the name Mr. Allerton in relation to Miss Bridewell, I just assumed that it was him to whom they referred.  I had forgotten all about his cousin, James whom I recalled had been particularly attentive towards Miss Bridewell whenever they were in each other’s company.

“There is color in your cheeks again, Miss Foster,” Mr. Allerton remarked now, watching me closely.  “I suspect that it has to do with my clearing up a little misunderstanding.”

“Yes, Sir.  It means that it is no longer necessary for me to quit your employ.  I can stay at Riverdale for as long as I am needed here.”

His expression became very serious and he moved closer to me.  “What if I needed you to stay permanently at Riverdale?”

My eyes widened.  “Permanently?” I repeated.  “What about when Amy no longer needs a governess or you decide to marry?”

He reached for my hand.  The feel of his warm fingers against mine made my heart flutter and my breath quicken.  His eyes met mine in a steady gaze.  “Miss Foster—Emma, Amy is no longer in need of a governess,” he said quietly.  “She’s in need of a mother and I am in need of a wife.”

I gawked at him.  “You mean…?”

“Yes, my dear Emma, I am asking you to marry me.”

I felt as if I were in a dream, one from which I hoped never to wake.  This was all so incredible.  My heart was pounding wildly against my ribs and my face was on fire.  “But what will everyone think of you marrying someone beneath your station?”

“When it comes to my heart and what constitutes my happiness, I care not about what others think. And I have always treated you as my equal and not as someone beneath my station.”

I smiled.  “That is true, Sir.”

He smiled.  “Since I am soon to be your husband, don’t you think it’s time you called me George?”

“Yes, George.”

He didn’t answer.  Instead, he held my face between his hands and kissed me.  My heart was bursting with happiness.

At the end of summer, we were wed.

 

This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Span at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.

Two Reasons to Celebrate

Young and sassy are the words my husband use to describe me.  We are opposites.  He’s an introvert and I’m an extrovert.  He’s in his mid-fifties with grey sideburns but he still has the body and libido of a much younger man.  I’m in my late twenties and I’m trying to keep up with him.

We met last year when a mutual friend invited a group of people to Maui for a week of sun and fun.  Lorenzo didn’t go with anyone and nor did I.  We were immediately attracted to each other and for the rest of the vacation, we were inseparable.

A year and four months later, we are newlyweds.  For our honeymoon we went on a 12-day Mediterranean cruise which ended in Venice, the city of love.  After we spent two days there, we headed to Milan to visit his family.  We figured we might as well since we were in Italy.

I must say that although I half-expected it, it still came as a bitter disappointment when his parents made it painfully obvious that they didn’t approve of me.  No doubt my color had more to do with it than my age.  His teenage children from his previous marriage were polite but I could tell that they didn’t approve either.  Being married to me meant that their father wasn’t going to return to Milan or reconcile with their mother.

I feel sorry for them.  When my parents divorced and my father remarried, I was upset.  I wasn’t nice to my step-mother, Violet because she ruined all chances of my parents getting back together.  It took years for me to get over that disappointment and be civil to Violet.  Now, she and I are friends.  And I can see how happy she makes my father.  I hope that one of these days, Lorenzo’s children will come around too.  He’s the love of my life and his happiness means the world to me.

Lorenzo and I ended up spending only two days in Milan and then we were off to Rome.  I loved Rome–the people, the food and the piazzas.  On our last night, we visited Piazza Navona and enjoyed a couple of gelato as we admired Bernini’s perfectly lit Fountain of the Four Rivers.

Lorenzo and I were sorry to leave Italy but we were excited about beginning our life as a married couple and moving into our new home overlooking Central Park.  It took a while for me to get back into a routine because of jet-lag.

Ten weeks have passed since our honeymoon and I’m standing in front of my enormous closet, looking at the designer clothes, bags and shoes I brought back from Milan and Rome.  As I look through the outfits a smile tugs at my lips.   I can’t wait to see Lorenzo’s face when I tell him the good news tonight over a home cooked dinner.  We have two wonderful reasons to celebrate.

That’s right.  We’re going to have twins.  Whether they are boys or girls or one of each, we won’t know for some time or maybe, we’ll decide to wait to find out.  Already, I’m making plans to turn the extra bedroom into a nursery and I’m just dying to go shopping for the babies.

The chiming of the clock reminds me that I have to get dinner ready.  I close the closet doors and leave the bedroom.  I’m going to make sure that tonight is a very special night for Lorenzo.

I’ve been learning to cook Italian dishes thanks to Jamie Oliver.  I’m going to make tasty tuna meatballs with pasta and Caesar salad.  And for desert, what else but his favorite–pistachio gelato from our favorite neighborhood gelato place.

After dinner and when we’re relaxing in the living-room, then I will tell him that we’re going to have twins.  And then, we celebrate with a bottle of Martinelli’s Gold Medal non-alcoholic Sparkling Cider.

This was written for the Ragtag Daily Prompt for Sunday’s word: closet and Monday’s word:  jet. If you’re interested in participating, click HERE for more information.

Love vs Tradition

“You’re such a hypocrite, Kaito” Hana told her brother.  “You object to my relationship with Danny because he’s not Japanese and yet you’re sleeping with Duana, my African American friend.”

Kaito looked up from his laptop, his expression darkening as he met his younger sister’s incensed gaze.  “I don’t have to explain myself to you,” he retorted.  “After our parents died, I became responsible for you.  Danny may be a nice guy but he’s not the right one for you.  You should be with someone like Riku.”

“Riku?  You know very well that I’m not in love with him.”

“That could change.”

“It won’t,” she insisted.  “I’m in love with Danny and he’s in love with me.  I don’t care what you say.  I’m not a child.  I’m not going to marry Riku or anyone else for that matter.”

“Has Danny asked you to marry him?”

“Not yet but when he does, I will say yes.”

“Not if I have anything to say about it.”

“You’re my brother not my father.  You being responsible for me doesn’t give you the right to dictate who I marry or who I love.  Riku is a nice guy. We’ve known each other since we were children but I don’t love him.  I’m not going to marry someone I don’t love just to please you and your love for tradition.  I hope Duana does the smart thing and dumps you.”

His mouth tightened.  “I don’t want to discuss my relationship with Duana with you.”

“You won’t have a relationship with her much longer.  I will see to that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Tonight, we are going out on a date with Danny and his friend, Leshawn.”

What?” Kaito rose to his feet.  His eyes flashed and his fists clenched.  “How could she be going out with someone else while she’s still in a relationship with me?”

Hana watched him.  She never saw her brother act like this before.  He was always so calm and reserved which sometimes annoyed her.  Nothing seemed to faze him and here he was now, like a volcano about to erupt.  “You made it clear that you didn’t want there to be anything serious between you.  You were fine with the way things were–purely physical.”

He dragged his fingers through his hair.  “This guy she’s seeing tonight, has she been out with him before?”

Hana shook her head.  “No, this is the first time and I hope it won’t be the last–”

“Imaimashī!”  He grabbed his keys off the desk and headed for the door.

“Where’re you going?”

“Where do you think I’m going and why do you care?” he retorted before he stormed out of the room.

As soon as he was gone, Hana picked up the phone and called Duana.  “Kaito’s on his way over.  He’s as mad as hell.  I’ve never seen him like this.  I think he’s jealous.”

“You told him about Deshawn?”

“Of course.”

“Oh, Hana.  I didn’t want him to think that I was interested in Deshawn or anyone else.”

“Well, maybe you ought to be.  You can’t continue hoping that things will change, Duana–that Kaito will change.  He’s set in his ways.  He’s been a bachelor for so long that marriage isn’t a possibility right now and if he did get married, it would be to a Japanese woman.  You’re better off moving on.”

“I wish I could but you know I love him.”

“Yes, I know.  He’s my brother and I love him too but I think he’s a jerk.  You deserve better, Duana.”

“Right now I can’t imagine being with anyone else but Kaito.  Thanks for calling, Hana.  I’ll see you later.”

“All right.  Call me on my cell if you need me.”

“I will.”

Hana hung up the phone and left the study.

Duana was about to change out of the white dress she had worn to church when the doorbell rang.  Her heart began to beat faster.  It was probably Kaito.  It was and Hana was right.  He looked furious.  As she slid the latch back, she asked herself why she had allowed her friend to talk her into to going on a double date tonight.

“Hello, Kaito,” she said when she opened the door.  Giannina Oteto

“Don’t hello Kaito me,” he snapped as he brushed past her.  He swung round and faced her as she closed and locked the door behind him.  His eyes were blazing with anger and jealousy.  “How could you go out on a date with another guy when you and I are in a relationship?”

“It–it was Hana’s idea and–”

“I know it was her idea but you didn’t have to agree to it.”

“She called me and told me that you were coming over.  She warned me that you were very angry.”

“Don’t you think I have reason to be?  How would you feel if I were going out for dinner with another woman?”

“I would be angry and jealous,” she admitted.

“That’s how I feel right now, Duana.  The thought of you going out with another guy is making me crazy.”  He reached for her hand.  His expression was drawn and tormented.  “Don’t do it, please.  Don’t go out for dinner with this guy, please.”

She swallowed hard.  “I won’t,” she promised huskily.

He released his breath in a shaky sigh.  “Thank you,” he muttered.

“Why don’t you spend the night?” she asked.  “I didn’t make any dinner because I was going to eat out tonight but we can order in.”

He nodded.  “Yes, I’ll spend the night.”

She smiled.  “Good.  Let me call Hana and tell her that I won’t be joining her and the guys for dinner tonight or any other night.”

He nodded again and removed his jacket as she called his sister.  As soon as she finished the call, he took her into his arms.  “I’m sorry for the way I’ve been,” he said.  “I grew up believing in family traditions and determined to honor them at the expense of Hana’s happiness and my own.  I love you, Duana and tonight when I realized how close I came to losing you, it opened my eyes to what really matters.  When you meet that special someone, making a commitment to him or her is more important than holding onto tradition.  Tomorrow, I will let Hana know that I no longer object to her relationship with Danny.”

Duana put her arms around his neck. “She’ll be happy to hear that,” she told him.

“Yes, she will be,” he agreed.

“I love you, Kaito.”

Kaito lowered his head and kissed her.

“Just because something is traditional is no reason to do it, of course.”Lemony Snicket, The Blank Book

The Newlyweds

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Photo Credit: C.E. Ayr

They were on their way to Venice for their honeymoon.  She was bursting with excitement.  Before today, she had never been anywhere outside of London.  As they walked through the station and up the stairs to the platform, her eyes danced with excitement.  The porter followed them with the luggage.  As they stood on the platform, waiting for the train, other passengers observed them with great interest.  They were not your typical married couple.  He was a middle-aged man with streaks of grey in his dark brown hair and she looked young enough to be his daughter.  Women shook their heads in disgust and the men were positively green with envy.

Ignoring them, the man put his arm around his young wife’s shoulders as they waited for the train.  He didn’t care what they thought.  He had been given a second chance at happiness. What did age matter?  So what if she was younger than his eldest daughter?  After losing Barbara, he never imagined that he would ever fall in love again.  He hadn’t planned on falling in love with someone so young but the fact was, she made him happy and that was what really mattered, wasn’t it?

 

199 Words

This was written for Sunday Photo Fiction hosted by Susan Spaulding. For more details visit Here.  To read more of the stories based on this week’s prompt, visit Here.

Falling in Love Again

west african woman

“I gave Anastasia the scarf you brought back from Kampala and she loves it,” Tomás said to his father.

“I hope you didn’t mind me buying her something.  It’s just that I saw it and thought of her.”

“No, no, I don’t mind at all.  She and I are just really good friends.  Papá, why don’t you ask her out?”

Salvador balked at the idea.  “You can’t be serious?”

“Why not?”

“I’m too old for her.”

“When it comes to love, Papá, age shouldn’t matter.”

“Is it that obvious?”

“That you’re in love with her?  To me it is.”

“What about her?  Do you know how she feels about me?”

“Well, she hasn’t come right out and said anything to me but I can tell that she feels the same way just from the way she acts whenever we talk about you.”

Salvador ran his fingers through his hair.  “I feel like a lovesick schoolboy,” he remarked.

Tomás grinned.  “It’s good to see you fall in love again.  It’s about time.  Mami has been dead for fifteen years now.  You need to get on with your life and be happy.  Anastasia is a fantastic girl.  The two of you will be very happy together.”

“So, you really think I should ask her out?”

“Yes!  Do it this afternoon when she stops by to thank you personally for the scarf.”

Salvador’s heart skipped a beat.  “She’s coming here this afternoon?”

“Yes.  Somehow, I don’t think the scarf is the real reason for her visit.  She missed you while you were gone and is very anxious to see you.”

“I missed her too.  I thought of nothing or no one else all that time I was in Kampala.”

“Good.  Then, the two of you can tell each other how much you missed each other in person.”  He glanced at his watch.  “I’d better be going or I’ll be late.”

Salvador watched him in alarm.  “Where’re you going?” he demanded.

“I’m going to the movies with the guys.  Papá, I mentioned this yesterday.”

“You’re going to leave me here alone with Anastasia?”

“Papá, you’re a big boy now.  You don’t need a chaperone.  Gotta run.  I’ll call you tomorrow.”  And he was out of there before his father could say anything else.

Alone, Salvador went over to the sofa and sat down.  He was nervous.  He had never been alone with Anastasia before.  Tomás was always around.  What was he doing to do when she showed up?  Agitated, he got up from the sofa, slid the glass door open and went down the steps leading to the beach.  A walk would help to clear his head and calm his nerves.

Anastasia rang the bell but there was no answer.  She rang again twice.  Frowning, she tried the handle and the door opened.  She went inside, closed and locked it behind her.  After removing her shoes and leaving them on the mat in the foyer, she went into the living-room.  It was empty but the glass door was open.  She went out on to the terrace and looked.  She saw a lone figure walking along the water’s edge.  It was Salvador.  Her heart began to race in excitement.  She couldn’t wait to see him.  She missed him so much when he was in Kampala.  As soon as she heard that he was back, she had to come and see him.  Placing her satchel in one of the chairs, she opened it took out the beautiful scarf he bought her.  Smiling, she draped it about her shoulders and waited for him to come back.

When he came back sometime later, he saw her waiting for him on the terrace.  Nervous and excited he approached slowly, cautiously.  She had the scarf draped about her and was looking down at him as he stood at the bottom of the steps.  She looked so lovely.  He ached to take her in his arms but he shoved them into the pockets of his trousers, trying to look nonchalant.  “Hello,” he said.

“Hello,” she replied.  He had the most amazing eyes.  She wanted to run down the steps and throw her arms around him but she remained where she was.  Until she knew how he felt about her, she had to remain cool.  “I had to come by and thank you for the beautiful scarf.”

“I’m happy you like it.”

“Was this your first visit to Kampala?”

“Yes.”

“Did you like it?”

“Yes, I did.”

“It’s funny.  When I was living in Gulu, my family and I never visited Kampala which was a four hour drive away.  At one point I wanted to attend the university there but my parents wanted me to go to Uganda Christian University instead and I’m happy I did.  I would like to go to Kampala one of these days, though.”

He wanted to say, I’d love to take you, but instead, he said, “You’ll like it.”

It was still bright although it was almost seven in the evening.  “It must be nice living at the beach,” she remarked, turning to gaze at the waves as they rolled onto the sand.

“It is,” he agreed.  A long pause while he wrestled with himself.  Finally, he asked, “Do you have any plans for the evening?”

She looked at him.  “No.”

“Would you like to stay and have dinner with me?”

“Yes,” she said without the slightest hesitation and that was very encouraging for him.

Smiling, he went up the steps.  “You can stay and relax out here while I go and get things ready.”

After he went inside, she folded the scarf and put it back into her satchel.  Then she sat down in one of the chairs facing the beach.  Twenty minutes later, he joined her, carrying two large plates of something which smelled really good.  “I thought we could eat out here and enjoy the view at the same time.”  He set the plates down on the table between the two chairs.  “I’ll be right back.”

She looked at what they were going to have.  It looked like meatballs in sauce served over rice and vegetables on the side.  It looked and smelled delicious, making her mouth water.

He returned with two glasses of sangria which he set on the table before he sat down in the other chair.  “I hope you enjoy the Spanish Style meatballs in a Sunny Mediterranean Sauce.  I don’t eat Pork so I used Chicken instead.”

“I don’t eat Pork either.  I’m sure I will enjoy this.”

He smiled.  “Buen apetito.”

They ate and she marveled at what a great cook he was.  She had never tasted meatballs this good before.  She wondered why Tomás never mentioned his father’s culinary skills.

It was while they were sipping the Sangrias when he turned to her, heart beating fast and said, “Anastasia, you don’t have any objections, I’d like to us to be in a relationship.”

She put her class down.  “I don’t have any objections,” she said.  “I’ve always wanted to be in a relationship with you.”

He put his glass down and stood up.  Reaching down, he took her hands and drew her to her feet.  Cupping her face between his hands, he kissed her.  Behind him the sun began to set, marking the end of another day but tomorrow it would rise again, marking the beginning of a new day.  That evening marked the beginning of a new relationship for them.

Don’t be afraid to fall in love again.  It’s God giving you another chance at happiness. 

Weekend Writing Prompt #91

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They lay there on the private beach wrapped in each others’ arms, their clothes strewn helter-skelter on the sand.  Sunlight gleamed on their naked bodies.  This wasn’t something she ever imagined herself doing, an introvert and circumspect older woman frolicking with a younger man in the open.  Was it loneliness or the desire to love and be loved which drove her to act so recklessly?  Was it wrong to want some excitement in her life?

What would her family and friends think? Should she care?  Wasn’t she entitled to some happiness too?  So what if she had found it with a man she met on a cruise?  This was her life.

111 Words

man and woman on stones

This is for the Weekend Writing Prompt by Sammi Cox. For instructions, click HERE.

Family Affairs

“You’re the most infuriating, insufferable, arrogant man I have ever met,” she fumed.

He looked unperturbed.  “Is this what you came all the way over here to tell me?” he asked.  “You could have just as easily phoned me and save yourself an hour’s drive.”

“I wanted to tell you what I think of you to your face,” she retorted.

He moved closer.  “Why don’t you admit it, Debra?”

“Admit what?” she asked, eying him suspiciously and warily.  He was a little too close for comfort.

“That you want me as much as I want you.”

Alarm filled her and for a brief moment, she was at a loss of words.  Then, lifting her chin, she declared, “You’re mistaken.”

“I’m not afraid to admit that I want you.  I wanted you from the first time I saw you.  Feel what you do to me.”  He took her hand and pressed it against his heart.  It was pounding wildly—like hers.

She tried to pull her hand away but his grip tightened.  Her eyes flew up to his face and her mouth went dry when she saw the unbridled passion shining in their depths.  Desire coursed through her body and she tugged at her hand, desperate to put as much distance between them as possible.  “Please let go of me,” she begged.

“Why?” he asked thickly.  “Am I making you feel things you don’t want to feel?”

Just then, the sound of someone clearing his throat came from the doorway.  Then, a voice called, “Mr. Rhys, Sir?”

Without turning his head, Rhys said, sounding somewhat put out at the interruption, “Yes, Albert, what is it?”

“You have a telephone call.”

“I’ll take it in the study.  Thank you, Albert.”

When Albert left, she tugged at her hand again and he released it this time.  She stepped back, grateful to Albert for the interruption.

Rhys watched her.  “Will you wait here until I return?”

“No,” she said crossly.  “I have things to do.”

“Have dinner with me tonight,” he said quietly.

She glared at him.  “Even if my life depended on it, I will never have dinner with you.  Good day.” She stormed past him and out of the room, leaving him watching after her, his expression a mixture of irritation and longing.

On the drive back to London, she fretted and fumed at herself for the brief betraying moment when she wanted to succumb to the feelings he aroused in her.  If Albert hadn’t interrupted when he did she would not have been able to resist him any longer and that scared her.  She didn’t want to have feelings for the man who was responsible for her sister’s misery.

Her sister was the reason why she went to Surrey to see him.  She had meant to find out why he was opposing Vanessa’s marriage to his brother, Mark but when she saw him, she just lost it.  She hoped she hadn’t make things worse.  Just who did he think he was?  Insufferable man.  How she disliked him.  Yet, how was it possible to loathe a man and want him at the same time?

She didn’t go back to her flat, instead, she went over to her friend Marcy’s cottage.  “You look fit to be tied,” her friend exclaimed when she saw her.  “Come on in.  A cup of tea would do you some good, I think. Come to the kitchen and tell me what’s on your mind while I get the tea ready.”

Debra sat down at the table while Marcy put the kettle on.  “I went to see Rhys,” she said, trying to be calm.

“You mentioned that you were going to find out why he was stalling his brother’s wedding plans.  What did he say?”

“I didn’t give him a chance to say anything.  I just laid into him because he got me so mad.”

“What did he do to get you so mad at him?”

“Well, nothing, really,” she said.  “When I saw him, looking so smug, I lost it.”

“So, you didn’t find out why he is stalling the wedding?”

“What other reason could there be besides the fact that he doesn’t think that my sister is good enough for his precious brother?”

“Deb, you can’t assume that’s the reason.  It might be something else.”

“What other reason could there be?  Mark and Vanessa love each other.  They have been dating since high-school and all through university.  No one was surprised when they announced their engagement.  Plans have already been put in place for a spring wedding and now, they have been put on hold because of Rhys.  He acts more like Mark’s father than his older brother.”

“I guess he feels responsible for him because after their parents died, he raised him.  It’s only natural that he wants what’s best for his little brother.”

“Doesn’t he think that marrying my sister would be the best thing for his brother? Is it because she’s not from rich family like Mark and he?”

“Deb, you and I can sit here all morning and speculate about Rhys’ reasons for putting everything on hold.   There’s only one way to find out for sure and that’s to talk to him.”

Debra took the steaming cup of coffee from Marcia.  She didn’t relish the idea of seeing Rhys again but if she wanted to get to the bottom of this, she had to.  “I’ll stop by his office tomorrow during my lunch break,” she sighed.

The next day, she made sure she called Rhys first to find out if it was all right with him to stop by his office around twelve-thirty.  He sounded surprised to hear from her but said that he was free to see her at that time.  She got there at about twelve thirty-five and was shown into his office which modern, spacious and had a remarkable view of the city.  He was sitting behind the desk but stood up when she walked in.  He went over to the door and closed it.  Then, he offered her a seat.  “What a pleasant surprise,” he remarked.  “What brings you here?”

She sat down and came straight to the point.  “I want to talk to you about Mark and Vanessa.  Why are you standing in the way of their happiness?”

He sat down behind the desk, his expression serious now.  “I’m not opposed to their happiness,” he said.  “But I do have my misgivings.  I think they are too young to get married.  He’s twenty-three and your sister is twenty-two.  Mark has a trust fund which doesn’t have full access to until he’s twenty-five. Right now, he can live comfortably from the money in the trust fund but with marriage comes so many responsibilities that I’m not sure he’s ready for.”

“So, your objection is based solely on their age and not on their suitability for each other.”

He nodded.  “I have always heard of many cases where young marriages don’t work out.  I just don’t want Mark and Vanessa to be one of those couples.”

“But how long do you expect them to wait?  Until they are in their thirties?  That doesn’t seem fair.  Those marriages you mentioned failed most likely because the couples were not mature.  Mark and Vanessa are mature and very sensible beyond their years.  If you still have misgivings why don’t you consider having them go for pre-marital counseling?  I have a friend who has counseled many couples, including those in their twenties.  I could arrange for her to see Mark and Vanessa.  The sessions will determine whether or not they are ready for marriage.”

“That would be very helpful,” Rhys agreed.  “It would put my mind at rest.”

“All right, I will call my friend this evening.”  She got up.

He stood up too.  “Are you leaving so soon?”

“I have to head back to the office.  Thanks for taking the time to see me.  Rhys…” she looked at him, feeling a little embarrassed.  “I wanted to apologize for the way I spoke to you yesterday.”

He came around to where she was and stopped a few feet away from her.  “I will accept your apology on one condition,” he said quietly, his eyes studying her face.  “Have dinner with me tonight.”

“All right,” she said.

“I’ll see you at seven-thirty, then.”

She turned and crossed the carpet towards the door with him following closely behind.  The same time she reached for the knob, he did and his hand covered hers.  Heart leaping in her chest, she turned her head to look up at him and met his penetrating gaze.  Without saying anything, he took her hand and pressed it against his thumping heart then without any warning, he reached over and kissed her.

Unable to help herself she turned so that she was facing him and her arms reached for him as she responded to his fiery kisses.  Several minutes later, she felt herself pressed up against the hard surface of the door while his hands on her hips held her tightly against him as he ravaged her lips.  Then, his lips were hot against her neck and she groaned, reaching up to bury her fingers in his hair.

A knock on the door jolted them and he pulled away, his face flushed.  He took a few moments to control his breathing and regain his composure before he moved to open the door slightly.  “Yes, Betty?”  Betty was his secretary.

“They are waiting for you in the boardroom, Mr. Yardley.”

“Okay.  Thank you, Betty.  Inform them that I will be there shortly.”

“Yes, Sir.”

He closed the door and turned to Debra.  He ran his fingers through his hair.  “I forgot that I have a board meeting at one,” he said.  “I’m sorry.”

She smoothed her hair and straightened her white top with the V neck and her navy blue skirt.  “I should be heading back now,” she said, stooping down to pick up her handbag which had dropped to the floor.

“I look forward to seeing you again later,” he said quietly.  He held open the door for her and she glanced at him before she went out.

On the way back to her office, all she could think about was the kiss and how much she wanted him.  She couldn’t wait to see him later.  When she got to her desk, the first thing she did was to call her friend, the marriage counselor.

At exactly seven-thirty he was at her flat.  He looked amazing in a fitted black suit, white dress shirt and no tie.  His hair was slicked back, giving him a polish and slightly rakish look.  His eyes slipped over her when he saw her in a short navy blue dress with a beaded neckline which flattered her figure and her hair pulled back at the nape with a clasp.  She looked simple but elegant.  “You look incredible,” he commented as they walked to the lift.

She smiled.  “Thank you,” she said.  “So do you.”

He took her to his favorite restaurant which offered them privacy, spectacular view of the city of London and food to die for.  They talked and opened up to each other.  She mentioned to him that she had called her friend and that whenever Mark and Vanessa were ready, she would see them.  “I really believe that things will work out for them,” she said.

“I hope you’re right,” he said.

“I was wrong about you,” she admitted.  “I thought you were causing problems for my sister because you didn’t think she was suitable for your brother.”

“That couldn’t be farther from the truth.  I like Vanessa.  She’s a remarkable girl.”

Debra smiled.  “Yes, she is.  Sometimes when I look at her, I can’t believe that she’s that kid that used to follow me around and look up to me.”

“It was the same with Mark.  I was his role model.  My good opinion and approval meant a lot to him.  He turned out to be a very fine young man.  I’m very proud of him.”

“Here’s to the two remarkable young people in our lives.” Debra held up her glass and they made a toast.

“And here’s to us,” he said, his expression serious as he returned her gaze.  Their glasses touched and then, he signaled to the waiter for the bill.

They left the restaurant and went back to her flat.  As soon as she closed the door and locked it behind her, he grabbed her, pulled her roughly against him, muttering “I’ve been dying to do this all evening,” before his head swooped down and his hungry lips sought hers.

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back, her fervor matching his.  As they exchanged feverish kisses, she kicked off her shoes while he dragged off his jacket and tossed it on the floor.  Then, breaking off the kiss, she drew back, almost fighting for breath and without saying a word, she grabbed his hand and led him toward the hallway to her room where they spent the rest of the night.

The following year, on a beautiful day in May, Mark and Vanessa tied the knot.  The service took place at the church where his parents got married and the reception was held at their home in Surrey.  It was a happy occasion.  The pre-marital counseling had really paid off and after receiving assurance from the counselor that the couple was ready for marriage, Rhys happily gave his consent and the wedding preparations went ahead.

As Rhys stood beside Debra at the foot of the steps leading down from the front entrance, he turned to her, “It looks like you’re next,” he commented, indicating the bouquet which she had caught.  “When would you like to get married?  In the spring like your sister or in the summer?”

She stared at him.  “Stop teasing me,” she scolded him.

“I’m not teasing you,” he said and he pulled out a small velvet box from his pants pocket.  “I was planning to give you this later after dinner but I don’t think I could wait until then.  Come with me.”  He grabbed her hand and led her off to a quiet spot out of ear shot of the wedding guests.

He got down on his knee, opened the box and took out the ring.  “Will you marry me, Debra?” he asked huskily, his eyes tender as he looked up at her.

“Yes,” she cried, laughing as the tears ran down her face.  “Yes, I will marry you.”

He put the ring on her finger and then stood up.  “I love you,” he murmured before he kissed her.

“I love you too,” she answered when he drew back.  She reached up and touched his face.  Then, the sounds of voices reached them.

“They’re leaving,” Rhys said.  “Let’s go and say goodbye.”  He took her hand and they hurried off to say goodbye to the happy couple as they came down the stairs laughing as rice grains were thrown at them.

Debra hugged Vanessa tightly.  “I’m very happy for you,” she said.  “You make such a beautiful bride.  I wish you great happiness.”

“Thank you, Deb.  And I wish you the same.”  When she saw her sister’s engagement ring, she was so overjoyed.  She hugged her again.  “Congratulations.   Rhys is twice my brother-in-law.  I couldn’t be happier.”

Later that evening as she stood on the terrace, looking out at the grounds, Rhys joined her.  He put his arms around her waist and she leaned against him.  “That night when you agreed to have dinner with me, did you do so because you felt badly about the way you spoke to me?” he asked.

She turned around then and faced him.  “No,” she said softly.  “I did it because my happiness depended on it.”

“So did mine,” he murmured before he took her up in his arms and carried her into the bedroom.

Sources:  The Telegraph; To Love Honor and Vacuum; Guide Doc