Armand and I are spending the afternoon in a beautiful French rural idyll. It’s nice not worrying about running into someone we know. We can hold hands in public, something we can’t do in London because none of our friends or family suspect that we’re involved. We’re forced to hide our love.
Armand and his wife, Etienne are separated. I dated their son, Michel but I broke up with him after I met Armand.
“Happy?” Armand asks me now.
I nod. “Extremely.”
This is for the Weekend Writing Prompt by Sammi Cox. For instructions, click Here.
“But, my Dear, Mr. Foster shall be calling on you at precisely three o’ clock.”
Anna stared at her mother. “Oh, I forgot that he was coming.”
“You would do well not to slight a man of Mr. Foster’s constitution. I’m sure you’re not impervious to his singular affection for you.”
“No, I cannot say that I am. I will admit that Mr. Foster is a very amiable man and I have enjoyed our conversations but I’m afraid that my affection for him is of a platonic nature.”
“My Dear, you would do well to remember that you have no beauty or fortune to recommend you to any man. And so far Mr. Foster is the only gentleman who has shown any solicitude toward you. Don’t let your fancy notions about love blind you to the fact that if you offend Mr. Foster in any way and he withdraws himself as your suitor, you will end up an old maid like your Aunt May.”
Anna took a deep breath. She didn’t want to lose her temper. “Mama, I’m going for a walk now,” she said. “I can do with some fresh air.”
Her mother looked rather put out and she sniffed indignantly, her expression one of censure as she gazed upon her rebellious daughter. It was Anna’s fault, really that there was a rift in their relationship. She had always been a rebellious and unconventional child. “If you want to go gallivanting about the place, by all means do so,” she said. “Just make sure that you are here when Mr. Foster calls. I will not have you embarrass your father and me.”
“I will be back before Mr. Foster comes, Mother.” And after giving her mother a perfunctory kiss on the cheek, she left the room.
What a relief it was to be out of the house. The temperature was mild–pleasant, though the sun wasn’t strangely absent. She headed straight to her favorite spot–the clearing in the wood and the rock with the crack. When she reached it, her face was flushed but she felt invigorated. She sat down on the rock and removed her bonnet. She smoothed her fingers over the golden wisps of her that brushed against her forehead. She could remain there all afternoon but she had to return to the house before Mr. Foster got there. Drat.
Why did Mr. Foster have to show such a marked preference for her company when he could easily have shown the same to other young ladies, like her cousin, Charlotte, for example. Charlotte seemed like a better suited companion for him than she was. And as her mother liked to remind her, Charlotte was very sweet girl with such an agreeable disposition.
“Why can’t you be more like your cousin?” was her mother’s constant query. As fond as she was of Charlotte, there were times when she found her wanting, not to mention boring. No, she would never be like dear sweet and irreproachable Charlotte and that suited her well.
After spending a long time there, enjoying the solitude and nature, she reluctantly quit the place and returned home. Slowly, she entered the foyer, removed her bonnet and made her way to the sitting-room where she would receive her visitor. Upon entering the room, she was surprised to see a strange gentleman standing there beside her mother who was sitting on the sofa. “Anna, my Dear, this is Mr. Abbotsford, Mr. Foster’s nephew.”
Mr. Abbotsford bowed and Anna curtsied. “Miss Fairley. I’m here on my uncle’s behalf. Regrettably, he has been called away on urgent business in London and has bestowed upon me the important task of conveying his deepest regret that he’s unable to keep his appointment with you. I asked me to offer you his profound apologies.”
Before Anna could reply, her mother spoke up. “Mr. Abbotsford, please inform your uncle that although his absence is of a considerable disappointment for my daughter, that she understands his predicament and that upon his return, she will be more than happy to receive him whenever he is able to facilitate another visit.”
Mr. Abbotsford bowed. “I shall inform my uncle of your disappointment, understanding and eagerness to see him.” His gaze shifted back to Anna.
Anna met his stare squarely. He wasn’t at all like his uncle. He was tall with very striking features. His black hair framed a very handsome and tanned face. It was slightly long and brushed against the crisp white collar of his shirt. He looked and had the manners of a gentleman. He looked to be six and twenty. She wondered what his occupation was and why Mr. Foster never spoke of him.
Mrs. Fairley cleared her throat. “Mr. Abbotsford, if you have no pressing business to take you away, perhaps you can stay for tea?”
“I would be delighted,” he replied.
“Very well. I shall ring for tea. Please be seated, Mr. Abbotsford. Sit there by the fireplace. Anna, come and sit beside me.”
Anna dutifully went and sat beside her mother. After arranging her dress and making herself comfortable, she looked over to where Mr. Abbotsford was. Again she wondered why Mr. Foster had never spoken of him nor introduced him. Perhaps, it had to do with the fact that he was young and very handsome. And perhaps, if Mr. Foster were privy to the thoughts that which occupied her mind as she studied his nephew, he would never have enlisted his help to bring her news of the urgent business which had spirited him away this afternoon, preventing him from being at her side now.
As she sipped her tea and listened attentively to the conversation between her mother and their visitor, she hoped that she would see him again. Surely, Mr. Foster won’t object to her family getting better acquainted with his nephew. Perhaps, she could persuade her mother to invite him for dinner. There was no telling how long Mr. Foster would be in London.
This was written for the #writephoto Prompt – Rift at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo.
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?
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.
It was a beautiful summer day. The roses were in full bloom. Their sweet fragrance filled the air. Blue lavender added more color to the lush garden. Mrs. Middleton was throwing one of her extravagant Garden parties. Guests milled about, chattering and admiring the rows of flowers which lined each pathway. She stood by the weeping rose which stood where the four pathways intersected. Everyone was there by invitation only. For her part, she was there because she worked for Emma Middleton, the hostess’s eldest daughter. Come to think of it, she hadn’t seen Emma for a while now. Sighing, she was starting down the path which led to the pond when she heard her named called. She turned around. It was Emma hurrying towards her.
“Oh, there you are,” Emma exclaimed. “I’d been wondering where you had gone off to. Come, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” She grabbed her hand and hustled her over to where a tall, well-built man stood talking to a group of people. Emma drew him away from them. “Remington, I’d like you to meet Talisa, my assistant.”
Remington looked at Talisa. His amber eyes studied her. He was blown away by her eyes which were slightly slanted and the most striking features of her face. She wasn’t a beautiful girl but she was stunning. She looked to be in her early to mid-twenties. Her hair was pulled back in a hairdo which didn’t quite suit her. It seemed rather severe but the dress she wore was very flattering to her figure and her complexion. He held out his hand. “A pleasure to meet you, Talisa.”
She smiled as they shook hands. “Likewise.”
Emma tucked her arm in his. “How’s my favorite cousin?” she asked.
“Busy. I just got back from Singapore.”
“Business or pleasure?”
“Hmmm. Well, I’ll leave you to tell Talisa all about it. Excuse me.” And she was gone.
Remington and Talisa stood there for awkward minutes and then, he smiling apologetically, said, “You’re not obligated to hear about my trip to Singapore, you know.”
“Actually, I would like to hear about it,” she said. He was extremely good-looking with his dark hair and amber eyes. He looked elegant in a white silk shirt which accentuated his olive complexion and navy blue trousers. She realized that she was staring and looked away. “Was it your first trip to Singapore?”
“Yes, it was.”
“And how did you find it?”
“Pleasant. The Singaporeans are generally very open but it’s best to avoid topics like religion, racial issues and politics.”
“What did you think of the women? I read somewhere that they are ranked the 4th most beautiful in the world.”
“The ones I saw were attractive, pretty and beautiful but as far as them being the 4th most beautiful women in the world, I don’t know if I agree.”
“Sorry. I didn’t mean to put you on a spot.”
“You didn’t. Where are you from originally, if you don’t mind me asking.”
“Luanda, Angola. I came after high-school and came here as an international student. I studied at the University of Brighton and after I graduated, I moved to London after applying for and getting the job with Emma.”
“How do you like working with my dear cousin?”
She smiled. “I like it very much. She’s a great boss and friend.”
Remington was about to ask her something when a woman’s voice exclaimed in delight, “Remy, darling!” They both turned to see a vivacious blonde with outstretched arms and a big smile on her face. She brushed past Talisa as if she weren’t there and wrapped her tanned arms around Remington’s neck. The hug lasted for a few minutes and then she drew back to look up at him. “You’re back from your trip. Welcome back from the world’s priciest city.”
“Thank you, Evie–”
“Are you free this evening? Please say yes.”
“Well, I am free but–”
“Good. There’s this new Italian restaurant I’ve been dying to go to. I have a friend of a friend who knows the manager and she could get us reservations this evening.”
“Fine. Evie, allow me to introduce you to Talisa.”
It was the first time Evie even acknowledged that someone else was there. Her green eyes swept over Talisa. There was disdain in them. Without offering her hand, she said rather grudgingly, “Hello.”
“Remy darling, I’m starving. Let’s go and see what there is to eat.” She clutched his arm possessively as she said to Talisa, “Excuse us.”
“It was nice talking to you, Talisa,” was all he managed to say before he was hustled away.
Samuel Villan stood on the rocks, looking at the stream winding its way in at an unhurried pace. This was his favorite place. It was where he came when he wanted to think, to clear his mind and to forget…
Life had been fairly quiet and uneventful for him since Julia died. It had been twenty years since she passed away. They never had any children. When, her older sister died from complications after giving birth to her son, Julia and he adopted him. His father had been killed in the line of duty. He was a police officer.
After Julia died, he and her nephew became close. It was nice having him around during those tough times but now he was gone. He had moved to London where he was living and working. During the holidays, he would visit and they would go for long walks or sit by the fireplace and talk. Sometimes, they played Chess.
Yes, life was relatively simple, some even, say it was dull but it was how he liked it–no stress, no complications. That was until, she came and turned his world upside down.
It all began last year Christmas when he was expecting Colin to visit as he usually did. This time, however, he didn’t come alone. He brought a Nigerian girl he worked with. The moment Samuel laid his eyes on her, he knew that he was in danger of falling in love with her. She was stunning with eyes that were large and framed by long lashes. Her skin was smooth and flawless. Her hair was cut short like a boy’s but it flattered her. Her neck was long and slender. She moved with such grace and had a pleasant voice. She was vivacious and the entire house seemed to come alive when she was there. He could tell that she liked him. She was always seeking him out and seemed to enjoy his company. While Colin was out walking the dogs, she would remain at the manor and sit in the drawing-room with him. He taught her how to play Chess.
One afternoon when they were alone in the drawing-room, he got up from the chair in front of the fireplace and went over to the window to look out. She joined him. They stood there for a while, not saying anything but were acutely aware of each other. “Do you get lonely being here by yourself?” she asked, staring straight ahead.
“Sometimes,” he admitted.
“Would be it presumptuous of me to ask if I can visit you sometimes?”
He looked at her then. “Do you want to?”
She looked at him and nodded. “Yes.”
She was staring at him so intently that he felt his face grow hot. He stood there, not knowing what to do or say. He wanted her to visit him as often as she could but was afraid of what would happen if she did. She ignited in him an unquenchable fire and filled him with a fierce hunger. He never imagined that he would ever feel this way about a girl half his age. “What about Colin?” he finally asked. “Wouldn’t he mind you coming to see me?”
“Why would he?”
“Aren’t you and he…?”
She shook her head. “No. We’re just friends.”
“I thought you were his girlfriend.”
“No, I’m single–like you.”
“I’m a widower.”
“We’re both single. We’re not seeing other people so what’s preventing us from seeing each other?”
He blinked. He wasn’t used to such forthrightness. It thrilled him. It also scared him. “Are you always this direct?”
“Sometimes. I like you, Samuel and I know that you like me. I think we should give us a try.”
He swallowed hard when she moved closer. “I would like that very much,” he muttered.
She was standing right in front of him now and reaching up, she kissed him on the lips. “You’re standing under the mistletoe,” she said when she drew back. They were both breathing heavily.
He reached for her and kissed her with all the passion that consumed him. Their moment was interrupted several minutes later by the sound of barking and Colin’s voice. That night, they continued where they left off when he went to her room.
He ran his fingers through his hair now as he stood there by the stream. For twenty years, he had lived a life of solitude, interrupted by Colin’s yearly visits but now, here, he was, the happiest he had ever been. Yes, life was exciting and wonderful now that she was in it. He turned now as she joined him. He smiled and putting his arm around her shoulder, he drew her to him. She slipped her arm around his waist and rested her head against him. “How are you feeling?” he asked.
She placed her hand on her swollen stomach. “Extremely happy,” she replied. In seven months, they were going to have their first child.
Sometimes, when you least expect it, love comes along and turns your world upside down – Notes to Women
I’m sitting at the airport, waiting for my flight to London where the next chapter of my life takes me. It was a job that was too good to pass up but now I’m having second thoughts. It’s taking me away from you. We’ve been friends since childhood. We’ve never been apart. I feel as if I’m leaving a big chunk of myself behind. I will miss our walks and talks. I will miss the way you laugh hard because I said or did something silly, until, tears are running down your cheeks. I will miss grabbing your hand and pulling you behind me like I used to when we were kids.
I wonder if you have read my letter as yet. It took a lot of courage for me to write it. It’s a scary thing for a guy to tell his best friend that he’s in love with her and ask her to give up her life to start a new one with him in a new city thousands of miles from the one she calls home. Is what I’m asking you to do, selfish, foolish? I know that if you were to ask me to do the same thing, I would do it in a heartbeat. But, I must remember that you’re not me. You might not want to disrupt your life for me.
Still, I’m hoping that you will at least consider it because I really can’t imagine my life without you in it. I know that we promised we would be friends for life, but I want to be more than friends with you. I want you to be my partner in life. Your beautiful face is the first thing I want to see when I wake up in the mornings and the last thing I see each night before I go to sleep.
I glance at my watch. Soon, I will be boarding the plane. My heart is heavy. I don’t want to leave. I reach for my cell. Should I call you? I want to hear your voice. I hesitate. Then, I hear you call my name. At first, I think I’m imagining it. Then, I hear my name again and I turn around. There you are, coming towards me. I stare at you incredulously, my breath catching in my throat. I rise quickly to my feet. It is then that I notice you are pulling a piece of carry-on luggage behind you. My eyes widen. Does this mean…?
“I read your note,” she said when she was standing right in front of me. “The answer is yes! I called the airline and luckily there was a cancellation. And here I am.”
My heart is pounding. “Are you sure?” I ask. I want to be sure that this is what she really wants.
She nodded. “Yes. My life is with you.” She reached up and touched my face. Her fingers felt soft against my skin.
I turn my head and press my lips into her palm. When I look at her, she is staring at me and I her love for me shining in her beautiful eyes. I draw her to me, not caring about the people around us and I whispered, “I love you,” before I kiss her.
We kiss for several minutes, just relishing the moment before we were interrupted by the PA system announcing that it was time for us to board the plane. I reluctantly let her go and gather my carry on bag and jacket. Then, I remind myself that I will enjoy a lifetime of holding her in my arms. I smile as we joined the other passengers. London and an exciting future together awaited us.
“When you went off on a missionary trip to Africa, we certainly didn’t expect you to come back with a wife,” Mrs. Cartland exclaimed, her expression one of disdain as she looked at her son.
Rolf sighed. “Naija isn’t my wife, Mother. I’m not sure why you think she is. I’m sure I was clear in my letter that if I didn’t do something, she was going to be taken out of school and married off to a man old enough to be her grandfather. In Nigeria, girls like Naija and younger are given in marriage without their consent.”
“And so you decide to bring her to England. What about her parents? I can’t imagine that they would let you just whisk their daughter away like that.”
“Her parents and I came up with an arrangement which will benefit all parties. They were going to give her away in marriage because they are poor and need the money. The man they were going to marry her to, has money but I offered them more money in exchange for marriage that Naija come to England instead. I will put her through university. After, she graduates, it is up to her if she wants to remain here or return to Nigeria. Her parents agreed that if she should return, she is not expected to be married off but can get a job so she could continue to support them. While she is here, I will send money to them on a regular basis to keep them.”
“You’re going to send them money?” Mrs. Cartland was aghast. “And how long do you propose to do that?”
“Until Naija can afford to support them herself.”
“And when exactly will that be?”
“When she finds steady employment after graduating from university.”
“I fear, my Dear, that she’s going to take advantage of your generosity and you will find yourself supporting her for longer than is necessary. You’re far too indulgent and gullible when it comes to the dregs of society.”
Rolf’s lips tightened but he held his temper in check. “Mother, I appreciate your concern, but Naija isn’t like that at all.”
Mrs. Cartland didn’t look at all convinced and was about to say something else when her daughter, Rosalind spoke up. “Rolf, let’s go for a walk. It looks absolutely gorgeous outside. Mother, please excuse us.”
Grateful for the interruption, he rose to his feet and after excusing himself, he followed her out of the room. “Thank you for that,” he said to Rosalind as they walked down the hallway.
She glanced at him. “No problem. I could see that you were trying very hard not to blow your top. And Mother can be very irritating at times.”
Rosalind laughed. “All right. Most of the time.”
Rolf’s lips twitched. They were outside now and it was a gorgeous day. “Let’s take a walk by the stream.”
“What a splendid idea!”
The stream was about a ten minute walk from the family’s mansion. “Do you remember when Dad used to bring us here on a Sunday morning? While he and I fished, you fed the ducks pieces of bread from the egg and cheese sandwiches Mrs. Hogwarth made?”
“Yes and I remember getting pecked by one of them and Dad had to bandage my hand with his handkerchief. I was scared of the ducks after that.”
“Yes, that’s how Mrs. Hogwarth found out that you fed her sandwiches to them and she clobbered you.”
“Yes, I was scared of her after then too. Oh, Rolf, what a riotous childhood we had. I miss Dad.”
“I miss him too.”
“He would be so proud of you, being a missionary and all. It was something he himself loved. He always regretted leaving the field when he married Mother. She never understood his love for it. She preferred being the wife of a government minister rather a missionary’s.”
“I love being in full-time ministry, helping communities in London and overseas. It’s how I met Naija.”
“You’re in love with Naija, aren’t you?” Rosalind commented, looking at him closely.
He blushed. Nothing ever escaped her. “Yes,” he admitted quietly.
“I see the way you look and act around her.”
“Can you imagine how Mother would react if she knew?”
Rosalind waved her hand dismissively. “It doesn’t matter what Mother or anyone else thinks, Rolf. You have to follow your heart. It’s your life, your future and your happiness that are at stake here. Remember, Mother wanted me to marry Reginald but I married Maxwell instead? Reginald was a good man but I didn’t love him. I was mad about Maxwell and we have been happily married for twenty-six years now.”
“I think you made an excellent choice. Maxwell is an exceptional man.”
“Thank you and yes, he is. Does Naija know how you feel about her?”
He shook his head. “No.”
“Don’t you think that perhaps it’s time you told her?”
His heart lurched. “I don’t know,” he said in alarm.
“Come on, Rolf, don’t be such a coward. Sometimes, happiness comes by taking chances. I took a chance with Maxwell and looked how that turned out.”
What she said made a lot of sense but the thought of revealing his feelings to Naija was daunting. He would have to think about it some more. “I’ll think about it,” he said after a while.
Rosalind slipped her arm through his and smiled. “All right,” she said. “Sleep on it, then.” They continued walking alongside the river, enjoying the sunshine and the quietness.
Naija was already at the park, waiting when Rolf got there the following afternoon. He had just come from a staff meeting. She smiled when she saw him and the large brown paper bag in his hand. He smiled as he sat down beside her. “Have you been waiting long?” he asked.
She shook her head. “No. I got here about five minutes ago. Thanks for getting this. I’m starving.”
He opened the bag and took out a box of Fish and Chips and handed it to her along with a plastic knife and fork. He took out the other box. On the bench between them, he put the cups of flavored milk tea and the straws. After he said Grace, they tucked into the food. It tasted as good as it looked and smelled. As they ate, they talked about different things. And all the while, he was thinking about what Rosalind had said. He wanted to tell Naija how he felt but he was terrified.
“What’s wrong?” Naija’s question startled him.
“Nothing,” was his quick response. A pause and then, wanting to shift the attention away from himself, he asked, “What are you plans after you graduate from university? Will you stay here in England or return home to your family?”
She thought about it. “I’ll stay here,” she said. “I’ll find a job or I can become a missionary and work for you.”
“Being a missionary is an admirable vocation but what are your dreams? What would you really like to do with your life, Naija?”
“I like writing. I like to write about what I see around me.”
“Sounds like you’re thinking of becoming a journalist. That’s very good. Perhaps, you’ll let me see some of your writings.”
“I will,” she promised. “I keep a journal. It’s almost full. I write about university, what I observe on the campus, what I hear on the News and the conversations I have had with my host family. I’ve written a lot of things about you as well.”
His eyebrows arched. “Really? And what exactly have you written about me?”
“How you’ve been so good to me and how blessed I am that you came into my life. I will always be indebted to you, Rolf.”
A muscle began to throb along his jawline. “I’m the one who’s blessed,” he replied. Their eyes were locked. His heart was racing. This is foolish, he thought. I’m behaving like a lovesick fool over a girl almost half my age. She just sees me as her benefactor, nothing more. All she feels towards me is gratitude.
“That isn’t all I wrote about you,” she said shyly.
He swallowed hard. “What else did you write about me?”
She looked nervous now. “Rolf, I know that I’m only eighteen years old but, I–I was hoping that our age difference wouldn’t matter to you.”
“What are you saying, Naija?”
“What-what I’m saying, is-is that I want us to-to be more than friends.”
He expelled his breath in an unsteady sigh. “Are you sure this is what you want?” he asked, his expression tense.
She nodded at once. “Yes,” she replied. “It’s what I’ve wanted since we met.”
“Oh, Naija,” he cried, his cheeks suffusing with color. He set the empty boxes aside and rose to his feet. He reached down and pulled her up. “It’s what I want too.” He pulled her against him and his eager lips found hers. Overhead the setting sun cast its crimson glow on them.