John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 16

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John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

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Chapter 9

 

The train blew its whistle alerting everyone that they were only minutes from the station.

Still holding Margaret in his arms, he started to kiss the hollow at the base of her throat. Moving from there, he caressed her with his lips down the arch of her ivory neck. Margaret tilted her head back giving him full access to that most intimate sensation. As John kissed his way back to her ear he whispered to her.” Will you put your hand in my lap, Margaret?”

Margaret was very aware of the heaviness he was carrying in his lap, as he had been aroused since she woke over an hour ago. She could not help but be fascinated by this completely intimate process of feelings and swellings and heat. To her, this was her compliment as her fainting was to him but she wasn’t sure if she should be as bold as he wished. He covered her mouth while stealing her breath and she immediately reached for him. Margaret had learned from what she had seen in books but she was still overwhelmed with the rigidness and size. As John slowly set a rhythm with his stroking tongue, Margaret found herself following his lead with her hand, not only stroking him but held him tightly through the thickness of his heavy dark clothes. His husky moans had turned into a chorus of hums upon her mouth. She could hear the air rushing in and out of his nose as he tried to take in air without interrupting the sensual bonding their bodies were creating. John slipped one of his hands to her breast and that is when Margaret heard her own soft moan. “Please, do not faint,” she told herself. John’s tongue was moving salaciously . . . deliciously and Margaret was in a whirlwind of passion waiting to be spent. John hugged her tremendously hard; his hands were everywhere as he sunk his mouth into her hair and murmured words she could not understand. Finally pulling back, framing her face with his hands, he pierced her very soul with his eyes, and whispered, “Thank you, my love.”

Margaret was not experienced in such matters to know if his “thank you” was for what she hoped but she loved every passionate moment they had just shared. She wanted more. She wanted him.

As John pulled her away with the steam spewing by the window, she thought she caught glassiness in his eyes. He would not look straight at her. He rose, turned his back to her while making some adjustment before reaching for the overhead satchels.” Margaret, do not forget that you are mine and I want you in my life. I do not care what it takes,” he said, finally turning towards her as the train was almost at a stop.” The next few moments are going to be the hardest in my life . . . watching you walk away from me.”

Margaret looked up into his sorrowful face. Almost beginning to cry herself, she said, “John . . .” but the door to their coach opened, forbidding him hearing her final words.

Daniel greeted Margaret and handed her out, stepping back while the two young ladies hugged and giggled.

Daniel Pinson recognized John Thornton immediately as he stepped out carrying their baggage. Daniel had listened to him speak on several occasions and often read about him when he could afford a daily paper. “Mr. Thornton, isn’t it?” Daniel asked, extending his hand. “I am Daniel Pinson.”

John set the baggage down and returned the handshake, remembering that Margaret had said that he was a mill worker.

“Yes, I am John Thornton. Nice to meet you, Mr. Pinson. I take it that is Mrs. Pinson who seems as delighted as Margaret is in seeing each other. Margaret and I have traveled as sole riders in that coach, all the way from London. We talked quite a bit and I know how anxious she was to see her friend. I am finding it rather difficult to say goodbye to my coach mate. Would you and your wife, along with Margaret, care to have dinner at my house tomorrow night? I will understand if you have plans. I know your time together is short.”

“Well, that is very kind of you, Mr. Thornton. If I can get a word in between these two, I will ask Megan.” John handed Daniel Margaret’s satchel as all four of them drifted towards the waiting coach area.

“Megan . . . Megan . . . this is Mr. Thornton . . . ,” but Margaret interrupted.

I am very sorry, I have forgotten my manners. Yes, Eve, this is John Thornton. John, this is Eve and Daniel Pinson.”

John doffed his hat to Mrs. Pinson.

“Megan, Mr. Thornton has invited us to his home tomorrow night for dinner. Do we have any plans that we cannot change?”

Surprised, Margaret turned to John and smiled. She knew he was finding a few more moments to share.

“As long as Margaret and I are together we have no plans we cannot change. She turned towards John and said, “Thank you, Mr. Thornton.”

“My pleasure,” John remarked looking at Mrs. Pinson and then Margaret, hoping she did not mind that he was butting in. “When we get to our coaches, if you will wait, Mr. Pinson, I will send my driver to you for directions to your home and he will collect you around 7:00 p. m. tomorrow evening. Is that agreeable?”

“Most assuredly, Mr. Thornton. Thank you, again.”

As Mr. Pinson, his wife and Margaret had further to walk for their coach John had to veer away from them. “Until tomorrow evening then,” he spoke while doffing his hat once again to the ladies who were walking arm and arm chattering.

John turned his back on them to head in his own direction and realized moisture was dropping from his face, like rain. He found the ground with his eyes and pulled his top hat a little further over his brow. He had never known himself to be this emotional. He did not walk directly to his coach until he was in control. Thankful twilight was falling, John finally reached the curb and hailed his driver, Branson.

 

Margaret and Megan continued to talk all evening. Margaret had not realized that she had left so much out of her letters to Megan, but then most of what she had to say was the journey of love she had been on for several weeks. Megan was very interested to hear all that Margaret said. Even though she loved Daniel terribly and did not really miss the excitement of being courted, she was still interested and fascinated about how Margaret was handling it. Megan could see Margaret’s emotions were in a vivid whirlpool of desire and lust.

Daniel had finally gone to bed. He had waited patiently to find out more about her acquaintance, Mr. Thornton. From the little he had overheard earlier on the ride home; Margaret had no idea as to his standing in Milton and to the New Machine Industry as a whole. He was quite famous but Margaret seemed oblivious to it, or maybe she was like his wonderful wife and prestige or wealth meant little to her. He knew a bit about Mr. Thornton’s more personal nature, as he was always the talk among the single women in town; even Megan knew that. But Mr. Thornton had proved to be a very private man. He never brought women to his house since he lived alone. He rarely dated the same woman more than twice. He could not find happiness, it seemed, allowing him to settle down like most hard working men in Milton. Daniel was grateful that he had found the woman he wanted to be with always but felt sorry for people like Thornton, who had everything but no one with which to share life. It certainly shows that money does not buy happiness.

 

 

Finding a plate of sandwiches left for him by Cook, John carried them into his sitting room, poured himself a brandy, and sat in his favorite high-back leather chair where he could see down into the mill yard. Coming home, he was so absorbed in his own thoughts that he hadn’t noticed that Nicholas Higgins was still at the office. Taking a few more bites, he topped off his brandy, and poured a large whiskey for Higgins, headed down his stairs and walked to his office across the yard. He stopped at the foot of the office steps, inhaled deeply several times, and then ascended them.

Cupping both glasses in his hand, he opened the door.” Higgins, you’re burning the oil tonight.” He said in a jesting manner.

“I was just going to come find you since I saw the coach come back. I wanted to know what you may have learned in that big book store about your gift,” said Higgins.

John moved towards him and said, “Well, you better sit down because you’re not going to believe this.” John handed him his whiskey while Higgins sat down as commanded giving John an anxious look.

“Nicholas, I was in the book store and she appeared right in front of me. One minute there was no one and then she walked into my space. And she was real. I was so stunned I moved out of her sight. I worried a moment what might happen if I found myself in my own vision. I cannot tell you what I have been through over the last 30 hours.

Before John had finished his story, the two of them had walked back to his home, repaired their drinks and John shared the rest of his sandwiches.” She and her friends will be here tomorrow evening for dinner. I wish you and Peggy could attend. I want you to see her, Nicholas. You have to see her, get to know her a little so a month from now you can assure me that I am not dreaming this up. The women seem like they will enjoy each other’s company, too. Please tell me you will try to make it.” John was on the verge of pleading. He needed his best friend to acknowledge that she was real.

“John, of course, we will be here. I see how much it means to you and frankly I am very curious myself.” Higgins asked him many questions like: did Margaret know about his visions, what were her initial reactions, what would happen next?

Knowing he would probably pace the floor all night like he had done all evening, wearing Higgins out, he said, “Nicholas, I could go on all night but I must let you go. Bloody hell, it’s nearly 2:00 a. m. It is a wonder Peggy has not sent Chief Mason over here looking for you. I am sorry.”

“John, I am about as “not sorry” as I can be for you. This is still a mystery and it looks like a difficult challenge awaits both of you. I will always be at your side to help, to listen and to cry with you.” Higgins stood and John came towards him wrapping his arms around his friend and wasn’t the least embarrassed when his eyes began to water.

John turned his back as Higgins started towards the door. “I will see you tomorrow . . . make that six hours from now, Nicholas.”

“Sure thing,” Higgins said popping his top hat on as he left.

John was not sure he would be able to sleep again. That would be going on 48 hours without sleep, but he could not shut down his thoughts, emotions, or the course of the rest of his life. As he paced the floor, he thought of more and more things he wanted to tell Margaret. He did not see where he would have any time for talking alone with her at dinner later, but he could pen his thoughts to paper and give her that before he said goodbye for some indefinite time. There was the chance that he would never see her again. What seemed to bother him most was the fact that another gentleman of some apparent prestige or wealth was probably as much in love with Margaret as he was. Never in his life had he been denied a woman of his choice. He had never been turned down and certainly never had a competitor vying for the favors of the same woman. As he paced the floor, he thought of the possible ways to approach such a situation. Would he fight bitterly for her attention or would he remain the gentleman to the end and hope Margaret selected him. Suddenly, John felt sick to his stomach. He raced down the back steps to the outside and heaved violently. John knew he was not only in love with her, but obsessed with her. Was it the premature visions of her that made him feel so desperate or was this the way love took you? Being a magistrate, he thought he could understand ‘crimes of passion’. It was all so clear now.

John walked to his library. Turned up the gas light and settled in his chair. Pulling out a sheaf of paper, his ink and feathered pen . . . he began.

 

To my dearest lovely, Margaret,

 

*     *     *

 

John slowly woke as the morning sun came streaming through his library window. Pen still in hand, he realized he had dozed off only briefly. No dreams, no visions this time. He set the pen down and pinched the bridge of his nose between his fingers hoping that would help to sustain his eyes in an open position. He stood, stretched out his arms, and yawned. He then proceeded to walk around his desk a few times. Finally, he settled back in his chair to reread his letter. There was much he had to say. He wanted to pour out his heart to Margaret but even if her feelings were really love for him, he did not think she could withstand the onslaught of emotions that wanted to gush forth out of him. He had never felt this deeply about anyone in his life and he did not think he was handling it very maturely. His heart had him by a leash and was leading him toward one goal without a thought about anyone or anything else. He had to find some composure. He was reminded of Margaret’s words yesterday, saying she had to learn she did not have to come to some life-changing decision quickly. There was no need to panic. John went over that in his mind and tried to adopt it himself but he could not. She may feel that way purely for the fact that she had no other competitor. There was the worry. Feeling very ashamed and underhanded, he had decided to find out more about Margaret’s other suitor. Surely, if he was as wealthy as he seemed, he would be in some registry somewhere. John looked over his letter a final time. More was not necessarily good at this time, at least in a letter. He signed and sealed it.

My heart is yours,

John

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hearts Adrift – Part Seven

Armitage_004

Chapter Seven

 

Jake eyed them both with barely concealed astonishment, but he said nothing.

“What about Jéhan?” Manon asked. “Could we not take him into the room also?”

“I want to sleep with the other men!” Jéhan protested. “Jake is my friend, and I have to watch over him!”

Manon saw her uncle’s sweet smile curve his lips before he answered, “Of course you must, my boy! Jake will watch over you also; will you not, Jake?”

“Yes, master, I will. Rest assured, miss, he is safe with me.”

Manon pressed Jake’s hand in gratitude, glad that the young man had sensed her anxiety over her brother.

“It would ruin our scheme of deception if we were to take him with us,” Richard whispered. “You understand that, do you not, niece?”

“Yes, I do, Uncle. So, how do we proceed?”

“Just follow me up when I summon you,” her uncle replied.

They finished their repast in silence, and afterwards Richard made a great show of rising from the table and making a hand gesture towards Manon. Amidst the snickering of the other guests, she followed Richard upstairs to a lofty room. Her gaze fell upon the large four-poster bed, which dominated the entire space. She froze, swallowed, and began to tremble with a trepidation she had never experienced before in her life.

“Have no fear, niece. I shall go to the tap room for a last drink whilst you prepare yourself for bed.”

Richard strode towards the bed and picked up a blanket and a pillow.

“I shall sleep on the floor,” he said, and tossed the items behind the screen in the corner. “There,” he joked, “you will not even know I am in the room. I promise not to snore.”

Manon gratefully smiled at him, as he left the room.

Her uncle was such a kind and thoughtful man, Manon reflected. She had only seen a similar kindness once before, and that was in her own father. The way Richard always put her needs before anything else was the way her father had been towards her mother, too. The way Richard watched her at all times, as if he were afraid something might happen to her, had been the same caring concern her father had shown her mother.

While she was donning her nightclothes, after a much-needed wash at the stand in the corner, Manon fretted over the disturbing feelings she was rapidly developing towards Richard. In the past days, she had forced herself to call him “Uncle” stubbornly refusing to reflect on other terms concerning him. That was who he was – her uncle, her mother’s brother, even though all she could see was a strong, extremely handsome, and brave gentleman in the very prime of his life. They were only seven years apart, despite being of different generations. Manon realised that, had she met Richard under different circumstances and not known he was her uncle, she would have easily fallen in love with him. He was a wonderfully loveable man, was Richard.

Feeling utterly disheartened by this whole impossible situation, she climbed onto the high mattress of the bed and slid under the covers, pulling them high under her chin. Soon, he would be coming up. How would she be able to sleep, knowing he was in the same room, only a few yards away? She was certain to lie awake all night, listening to his breathing, waiting for… oh, heavens! Waiting for what, she dared not hope. She felt the acute conviction that her feelings for Richard were utterly disturbing. And forbidden, too. Oh, merciful Lord … she loved Richard de Briers!

With a muffled cry, she sat up. No, no, no! This could not be happening, it was too appalling for words, too sinful! What was she to do? She was cursed!

 

Downstairs, in the nearly empty taproom, Richard sat staring into his ale, his head full of passionate reflections of the very young woman upstairs. It was no good trying to deceive himself. He was in love with the lively, beautiful, and sweet creature that was Manon. How had this happened? He was no green boy, freshly out of the schoolroom, for God’s sake! He was a distinguished and wealthy country gentleman, sought after by numerous mamas who hoped he would show an interest in their daughters. Many of them were even more beautiful than Manon, and English to boot. Many of them had their own fortune, were lively and sweet, and were eager to become Bearsham Manor’s next baronetess. Why, he had even considered his neighbour, the Honourable Miss Adèle Brinslay of Bishop’s Keep, as a suitable bride, and he had been sorely tempted to make her an offer. Miss Adèle was the daughter of Sir Eustace Brinslay, a dear friend of his father since childhood. She was stunning, with golden waves of silken hair and the clearest blue eyes one could imagine. They were the colour of a summer sky in the morning, and combined with a perfect complexion, a heart-shaped face, a pert little nose and a rosebud of a mouth, Miss Adèle was fit to capture any man’s heart, conquer it and keep it in her small hands forever.

At eighteen, Richard had thought himself in love with the captivating young miss of fifteen, but the feeling had not lasted through his Cambridge years, where other female temptations had lured him.

He knew for certain, however, that what he felt for Miss Adèle was but a bleak, shallow part of what he was harbouring now for Manon. She had courage, spirit, endurance and a savvy intellect he had never witnessed in other women. Manon was an unbearably sweet torture.

With a sigh, Richard finished his ale and went upstairs, bravely repressing all disturbing thoughts that inhabited his brain. Manon would be sound asleep, by now, he mused. He would stretch out on the floor behind the screen, without bothering to undress. And he would assiduously strive not to look at the bed.

 

Just as he reached the top of the stairs, the door to his room opened, and Manon emerged, fully clothed and carrying her travel bag.

“Where are you going?” Richard blurted out, startling her with his accusing tone.

“My conscience will not allow me to stay the night in your room, Uncle,” Manon replied, eyes downcast and cheeks flushed. “Please, let me return to the common room.”

“Why, Manon? Why would you lay yourself open to danger when you can be safe with me?”

To his utmost sorrow, Richard saw tears rolling down her cheeks. She was weeping! Why? What had transpired while he was downstairs?

“What is it, Manon? Please, tell me,” he urged, thinking she was going to let propriety stand in the way. “We do this only to keep you alive and unmolested. I hope you understand that.” Down deep, Richard knew that was not the only reason..

“I…I feel so greatly confused,” she sobbed. “I do not know what to do. I feel that I am damned and that my happiness is lost.” She dropped her bag and raised her hands to her face, sobbing into them. Her whole fragile body was trembling, and the sight of her ripped through Richard’s heart with a painful force.

“Come,” he said softly, taking her bag and guiding her back into the room. “We must talk, and you will tell me all.”

Manon allowed herself to be seated in front of the empty hearth, already feeling comforted by her uncle’s compassionate tone. He knelt before her, gently taking her hands in his.

“What is the matter, dearest? Is it me? Have I accidentally hurt you? Do you feel unsafe with me?”

Manon’s eyes flew towards his in shock. “Oh, no, Uncle! Not you! You could never hurt me, you are the soul of gentleness! No, it is my stupid ignorance of the world and all its doings. Forgive me for behaving so childishly. I will endeavour to keep my composure from now on.”

His endearment, uttered so sweetly, still rang in Manon’s ears and caused her pulse to race madly. How she adored the way he was looking at her just now, concern and avuncular affection burning in his gaze. What a devilish creature she was, allowing her heart to be filled with such feelings of a forbidden love.

She rose. “I will go now,” she whispered. “You are our anchor during this journey. In the morning, you need to be rested, because we all depend on your strength and intelligence.”

Richard also rose from his knees and said, “Oh, and how will I manage to sleep in peace, when I know you are alone in the common room? This is what we will do, since we both need to be at the full capacity of our strength; we will both sleep in the bed, but fully clothed and above the covers. The night is warm enough for us to do so. We will talk some more until we get tired, and then we will sleep. I know we will.” His control would have to be stalwart but he would try anything to keep her safe in his room.

The earnest expression in his blue-grey eyes convinced her, and Manon nodded. They stretched out on the bed, a small distance away from each other, so that they were not touching anywhere. Strangely enough, Manon felt once again at ease, and when her uncle began inquiring about how she fared after her strenuous first day of riding, she was able to reassure him that she was fine.

“Good,” he said, “now that we are on horseback, we can proceed much quicker on our journey than before. I hope to reach Boulogne by three days hence. The distance we have to cover is fifty-six miles, and at our current speed, we are bridging seventeen miles a day.”

“I like riding,” Manon smiled. “I would like to learn it the way I ought to, once I am in England.”

After a small pause, she continued, “What will my life be like, Uncle? How will I spend my days?”

Richard had no immediate answer to her question, so he reflected on it for a while. At long last, he said, “You are of an age that you will begin to seek a husband, Manon. I hope you realise that. I will have to provide you with a female companion who will introduce you to English society, with all its rules and traps. You will have to learn how to run a large house and manage its inhabitants, because that will be your task once you are married.” God! These words I speak to her are cutting to me. I cannot think of her with another man, Richard thought.

She sat up at once, hugged herself and huffed, “You must think me a very coarse person indeed, and unfit for polite society. I do know how to behave, Uncle; have no fear. Maman taught me, and you will agree with at least, that she was a true gentlewoman!”

“Manon,” Richard said, sitting up and turning her towards him, “you misunderstand me. Of course, you are fit for any society you would like to belong to. My offer of a companion was not only given because you must learn the English way, but also because society demands that you have a proper chaperone when attending soirées and balls.”

“Oh … forgive me, Uncle; I had not thought so far ahead,” his niece said in a little voice.

“No, do not apologize, dearest. But you will have to learn to control that feisty temper of yours. I love it when you are brazen, but others might take offence.”

He had said it again, Manon registered with a shock. Again, he had called her by a name that was only associated with affairs of the heart. Her blood was coursing through her veins in a frenzy; her skin was beginning to feel hot. She lifted her eyes to his. Shock struck her when she saw the deep feelings that lingered there. For a few interminable moments, they gazed into each other’s eyes, exchanging what was in their hearts. Time stood still. Then, with every ounce of effort he had, Richard tore himself away and turned his back to her, saying, “We should sleep now, niece. Tomorrow will be a tiring day. Goodnight.”

Manon swallowed the lump in her throat, then returned his wish.

 

 

The White Princess Epic Series (Season 2 US only)

‘WHITE PRINCESS’ EPIC SERIES
WHITE QUEEN is officially getting a new season but just on Starz, since BBC has opted out of the project (European audience didn’t like it as much as the US one). Following the previous season in which Rebecca Ferguson played the WHITE QUEEN, new eight part series, also based on Philippa Gregory book THE WHITE PRINCESS charts the rise of the House of Tudor through the tortuous marriage between Princess Elizabeth of York and King Henry Tudor. The year is 1485 and Princess Elizabeth has been pledged in marriage to the newly anointed King Henry Tudor in hopes that it will bring peace to a war-torn country. England is united, but their marriage is soon divided, as rumours circulate that Elizabeth’s long-lost brother Prince Richard is alive and planning to take the throne. Now she must choose between Tudor wife and York princess, between her new husband and the boy who claims to be her own blood and the true heir to the crown.
 The White Princess
Classification: Scripted
Genre: History
Status: In Development
Network: starz ( USA)
Premiere: 2016

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream – 15

Unfolding Dream 250x375

 

John Thornton’s Unfolding Dream

 

Amazon Download   $3.99 US

“Who?” Captain Lennox asked, again, incredulity spreading across his face.

“Baron Brampton,” remarked Edith.

“I thought that is who you said. I am amazed. Edith, are you sure that is who was here last night?”

“Well,” Edith said, starting to pout from his disbelief of her. “I was sure until you started to question me that way. Now you have me wondering. His first name is Kindle, does that help?” asked Edith.

“Yes, that is Baron Brampton all right. He practically oversees all the military in the realm for our Queen. He comes from a very long line of very distinguished soldiers and warriors from centuries ago. He personally likes to train the peerage young men as Cavalry Officers. He exceeds my rank by far. I am not sure there are many higher than he is, except the Queen’s guard, but they would have been trained by him at some point. And you say, he is wooing your cousin, Margaret?” Captain Lennox asked, still having the look of astonishment on his face.

“It appeared to me that is what he was doing. I peeked out once last night and they were embracing. I can’t think of any other reason and young man and woman would be doing that,” Edith chided.

“Margaret never used the word ‘Baron’ to you?”

“No, I am sure of that. I would have known immediately who he was if she had.”

“Well . . . well . . . I do not know what this will do to disrupt your household or your life but interesting times are ahead for all of you, especially Margaret.”

“There is a tiny flaw in all of this,” Edith interjected. “She does not appear to want to be in the company of any aristocracy or high levels of society. She is uncomfortable with it all. She’s not intimidated, she’s thinks them a greedy and jealous lot, having unsavory marriage practices and gossiping habits.”

“This gets better by the moment,” Lennox responded. “I wonder if she knows he is a Baron. It almost does not sound like it. This will be interesting to follow.”

 

*   *   *

 

As Margaret roused herself from a very peaceful nap, she could feel John’s head lift from hers. He had dozed off, too, she thought. She turned her head a little to look up at him and his lips were on hers immediately.

Slowly relinquishing her mouth, John asked, “Did you have a nice nap, Margaret? You felt so wonderful in my arms. It is all so right and so good.”

“It was one of the most pleasant naps I have ever had, John. I feel so safe in your arms like I belong here. I think I could live the rest of my life here like this. I tried hard not to wake as it was a wonderful fantasy I was living.”

Softly, John whispered into her ear, “It is real, Margaret. We are real. This is not a fantasy and there is no reason that it has to stop. I certainly do not want it to ever stop. I want to hold you, and protect you and pleasure you all of your life.”

Margaret pulled out of his arms and sat straight completely oblivious to the tears she was quietly shedding. “John, things just do not work this way. We do not know each other. We do not know what is happening, at least I do not. You said you have visions of the future. Is there more that you have seen that I do not know about?” Margaret was so overwhelmed with her emotions, yet her mind was fighting her for the reality of the situation. Her heart and mind were at odds, neither believing the other.

“No, there is no more that I have seen, but there are allusions to what is happening to us in the folklore book. But folklore by its very nature – folk – it isn’t something that we can set store by.”

“What did it say in the book?” Margaret asked.

“I do not think you’re ready to hear it. You’re becoming a little upset about all this and I think we have enough to dwell on.”

“If you would not tell me; can you tell me if it’s good or bad? I am going to worry and think it is bad unless you tell me different. Then where will we be?”

“Good. It is very good.”

“How close are we to Milton, John? We cannot just go our own ways when we get off this train. My heart is pulling me one way and my mind is pulling another. How does one come to decisions with such divided loyalty to their host?”

“That is all I have been thinking about, not realizing that my vision would come this far. All those weeks, my serious visions of you grew deeper and I worried if you were real. And if so, how did my love reach out and find you? Now, here you are, coming to my hometown. We are speaking freely of our feelings for each other and in an hour or two, we will be pulled apart. Tell me what you have thought about since we left London this morning. I seem to think that you have another suitor in your life. I am but a man in love and curious to know all about that. I have absolutely no rights over you, but I will someday, I know it. We are going to make mistakes. Miss Hale, I must know your thoughts. But before you answer, did I tell you that you belong to me?” He smiled into her eyes, held her with his hand burrowed into her hair, gripped her head in his palm, and tilting her back, he fed from her mouth.

Eventually, Margaret swooned into a faint and John had to grin. No one had ever swooned from his kiss. He had been so involved in making love to her with his mouth that hadn’t realized she had fainted. He opened his eyes and lifted his head to find her eyes still closed and her mouth open. He chuckled to himself as he pressed her mouth closed with his finger against her chin. The look of contentment on her face drowned him in desire.

 

How am I going to let her go at the station?

 

“Oh, John. Did I faint?” She asked as her eyes slowly fluttered opened. “I am sorry if I did.”

“I am not. That was wickedly complimentary, you know?”

“I have never done that before under those circumstances,” she added as she tried to sit up straight.

“You’re a beautiful shade of blush, Margaret. Maybe we should try that again,” John smiled.

“I am frightened that time is running out and we haven’t talked about what has caused our . . . breath-taking actions. We cannot discuss anything on the train platform as my friend and her husband will be there waiting. I will have very little time with her after missing her for several years. I know she’s been counting on my visit like I have but now there seems to be more important happenings . . . mysterious happenings in my life.”

“You were about to answer what your thoughts were since we left London, just before you swooned in my arms. A treasured moment which I shall remember always, by the way.”

“All right. Everything is swimming in my mind and I am sure I will say something wrong but here goes. First, I have to stop thinking that I only have an hour to make a permanent decision in my life. John, you have made me wonderfully happy and hopeful in only the few hours that I have known you. I must convince myself that you are true in what you say and not an improper lustful man taking advantage of me. I am sure you can understand my reticence up front. My heart tells me one thing, but until recently only my mind spoke to me.”

John nodded that he did. He could well understand her confusion as it matched his own only days ago. What else could she think when a man ingratiates himself into her life and within hours tries to sweep her off her feet? John knew himself that he was being most ungentlemanly about his absurdly swift approach. He could not get out of his own way.

 

I am a desert and she is my water. I must drink her in.

 

Margaret continued, “As I think you do, I want to find out if this is real. I cannot make any life altering decisions even though I may want to at this moment. It cannot be fair to either of us. We will have to part, which will be an agonizing necessity to find our way through this. I cannot think clearly, when I am near you. We need time for all this to settle. You need to see the effect this meeting has had on your visions. We will write and we will visit when we can.”

“And the other gentleman?” John interrupted, not being able to leave that as an unknown.

Margaret looked down at her hands and started to speak. John lifted her chin so she was looking at him while she spoke of another. He had to see what was in her eyes. “John, I am going to be as honest as I can, so I will tell you about Mr. Brampton.” Margaret cleared her throat as she felt John lift her chin once again. “We met by accident a few weeks ago at a small ball given by a friend of a friend. His cousin who was with him wanted to be with my friend, so naturally he and I spent a little time together. We have enjoyed a nice day at a park and he came by unexpectedly last night to say goodbye. This morning was also unexpected.” Margaret paused. “I know his interest in me is becoming as yours is and there are many things, which I like about him, but I know little of him. At this very moment, my feelings for you are much stronger, bordering on love like I have already said. My feelings for Mr. Brampton are not nearly like that but it would be unfair of me, actually unkind of me, to dismiss him outright. I think I owe him, all of us really, the courtesy of working through this. I would not hesitate to tell him about you, although I would not explain what has happened. As you can see, my life has become a dilemma and is not as clearly laid out, as yours seems to be. I know I must sound hurtful to you but I do not know what else to do. It is not like my feelings for you grew out of the time we have spent together. Oh, I am so confused.”

“Margaret, you are doing fine. These are not words that I fancy hearing but I must and I understand. I would think less of you if you were not as careful with your heart as you want to be. More than anything, I want you to be certain that I am whom you seek in your life. Know that I will wait. I will wait forever because I know you are my life. If you turn from me, I will understand but still I will wait.”

Margaret could not help but think how he had not said “I love you”. Maybe he was shy or not very sure of his own feelings but he had said everything else except declare his love for her aloud. She could feel his lust for her boiling over while she struggled to keep hers on simmer. She knew she could easily give up her chaste ways if she were alone with him. She did not trust herself with the feelings that stirred within her while with John. Even if he was the one to take her innocence she would let him, knowing that he may not truly love her. She would love him while she could until the day he walked away. She would enjoy her life and suffer the devastation later but she would not marry him until he said those three words.

“Margaret, you have been awfully quiet for some time now,” John remarked still staring into her face, wondering what she was thinking. He leaned forward and kissed her lightly to awaken the thinking princess. John knew he had more than his share of thinking to do but he could not waste a precious second of their time together. He needed to resolve any immediate questions she had for him.

“Here, sit back against me like you did while you napped. Let me tell you about myself so you have a base to begin your thinking.”

Margaret eagerly sought his hard chest and strong arms about her. How lucky they had been to be alone in the coach on this journey. She inhaled deeply and captured his manly smell of musk and leather.” John, you smell heavenly.”

“Well, thank you. I have never been told that either. It is a wonder you have any scent at all as I have been taking it from you for several hours. I know I will have you on my coat that you have lain against. That will comfort me for a short while after we part.”

John spent the next half hour telling Margaret everything he knew about himself, his family, his work but he left out all the accolades that had come his way in this new age of machines. He was heralded almost as the spearhead of the Industrial age. He told her very little about his financial situation, which was excellent for a manufacturer in Milton. He was very successful and had been for several years. He told how he had come from humble stock, his father committing suicide, his silly married sister, and the recent passing of his mother. He had spoken earlier about his head injury and subsequent “gift” that began as he healed. “I wasn’t happy with this gift at all but it has led me to you and nothing better in my life could have happened.”

“John, you should be very proud of your accomplishment with all the hard times you endured that molded you. You may think that I am a lady of society and could possibly look down on your kind of life but you would be wrong, very wrong. I will not go into my life now; I will write to you but do know that I came from a modest family. My father was a clergyman and my mother was a lady of society but she loved my father and abandoned a higher life style that she could have had. You have seen my aunt’s home and she is my mother’s sister. Therefore, I can fall somewhere in the middle society and be accepted in some upper circles but never the high levels. I truly have no wish to live as they do. I admire that you go out and accomplish something each day. You employ people. You give them jobs and hope. I do not want us to part leaving you in any doubt that we could not work because our backgrounds are so different.”

John started to see some familiar sights out his coach window and new Milton was not far off. How was he going to watch her walk away?

“Margaret, unfortunately, our time together is nearing its end. Please write down your address and I will do the same. I do not know how I will be able to stand seeing you leave my life now that I have found you. We have settled nothing really. However, we have agreed to keep in touch, be honest, and hope for these enormously momentous feelings to continue. I just want to say, I want you in my life, Margaret. You are in my heart where you will forever live, but I want you in my home, in my arms and in my bed.”

John pulled her hard to his mouth. Margaret eagerly flung her arms around his neck accepting all that he was willing to give her. He uttered a low moan as she parted her warm lips. John eased his tongue into her mouth and stroked her sensuously and she returned the act in kind. John had lava running through his veins and could think of nothing except how good she tasted. He wanted to taste all of her. Margaret struggled to keep her senses but found it impossible. For the first time she was experiencing heat inflaming parts of her body and feeling something should be done about it. There was no time and this was no place but she would have gladly slipped over to the passionate side of life had there been such a place and time.” John, I cannot get enough of you. I want to take more and I want to give more.”

“Margaret, please do not say any more. My heart cannot beat against my chest any harder or faster. I am kissing you and thinking how I will whisk you away to my home and my bed as soon as the train stops. I not only want you but need you desperately.”