Chapter 2 – Jane, I want a wife …
Blanche Ingram’s voice cut through the hum of voices in the hall. Its shrill loudness made my husband turn his head in astonishment. A smile appeared on his face, and his eyes shone with a wicked pleasure.
“Blanche, you sly little thing, is that you? Well, I never! So you have come to admit defeat then, have you?”
I gasped in surprise at Edward’s mischief, but Blanche’s silvery laugh showed that she wasn’t going to be insulted!
“Now what made you think I have ever been interested in you, you dreadful man? You have never been handsome and now, now you are too hideous to be attractive to me! I’ll gladly abandon you to Miss Eyre here, she is the one who had a crush on you, not me!”
Edward laughed with genuine pleasure and took her into his arms, kissing her on both cheeks with his usual enthusiasm. Blanche Ingram cast me a knowing little smile which brought fire into my face!
“Dear Blanche,” Edward said affectionately, “I am so pleased that you are here, and so is my Jane. But … she is Mrs. Rochester now, don’t you forget that!”
“Of course, how could I forget?”
Blanche turned to me and offered me her hand. We curtsied. I could very well remember the first time I set eyes on her. It was at the house party Edward hosted shortly after Bertha’s attempt to burn him alive in his bed. I was still hurting at the time, because he had left the house the day after I had lost my heart to him. Blanche had seemed like an angel from heaven to Adèle’s young impressionable mind and as I recalled to me, too. I could still see her in my mind’s eye in the white silk dress she wore that night. She made me think of a fairy, so light, so lovely, so beautiful, so much more suitable than me to a man of Edward’s station …
I shook myself. All that was behind me now and of no importance.
Only then did I see the young woman behind her and, recalling my duties as a hostess, I smiled at her.
“Allow me to present Miss Edwina Blackthorn, my companion and friend. Her mother was a dear friend of Mama’s. Miss Blackthorn came to live with us after Mrs. Blackthorn’s death last year,” Blanche said.
We greeted each other, and I studied the young woman more closely.
She was very tall, at least 5’9, and thin but not skinny. She had womanly curves in all the right places. Her hair was a raven black and her eyes were green-blue. She was a stunning beauty.
“May I congratulate you on your marriage, Mr and Mrs Rochester, and thank you for inviting me. I wish you all the happiness in the world.”
A voice like a siren’s! Deep, smooth and seductive … I could see how Edward was savouring the sound of it. Her face looked somehow familiar to me? but I was unable to recall where I had seen her.
My thoughts were distracted when Roberts, looking dashing in his Thornfield livery, presented us all with champagne, and Edward bade a welcome to our guests. The wedding breakfast began.
It was a fine party altogether. The food had been excellent and abundant, the wine of the finest quality. Mrs. Fairfax and I had made sure no efforts had been spared. Now the last of our guests had left, and the servants were already tidying up. I told Adèle that it was her bedtime, and she sulked a little, as was her habit.
“Come, Adèle!” Edward admonished her. “Don’t make me sorry to have you stay up that late. Do as Miss Eyre tells you.”
“Oh, Monsieur Rochester!” She giggled. “You are mistaken! She is not Miss Eyre any more but Mrs. Rochester! Can I not call you “Maman” now, Mrs. Rochester?”
I smiled affectionately at her; she was such a cheerful child.
“Yes, Adèle,” I answered, “you can call me whatever you like.”
“No!” Edward shouted, making us both jump, “I absolutely forbid you to call my wife “Maman”, Adèle! She’s not your mother!”
I found this a little harsh of him. Adèle, her eyes full of tears, turned and ran away.
“Edward, that was cruel of you. She’s only a child, she means no offense.”
He sighed and reached for my hand.
“You’re right, Jane, as always. But, when I think of what her mother was like, I cannot bear to have you compared to her!”
“Still, dearest, I think you should apologise to her. She is fast becoming a young woman, and it frightens her when you lose your temper like that. Her feelings are easily hurt.”
“All right, I’ll do it, when it pleases you! But now, my precious little witch, we have other things to attend to, much more important ones than the feelings of a teenager. Lead the way to our bedchamber, Mrs. Rochester.”
When the bedroom door closed behind us, I abruptly halted, causing Edward to bump into me.
“What is it, Jane?… Are you afraid? Of me, Jane …?”
He stood behind me and wrapped his arms around me, burying his mouth in my hair. I caught his scent, a mixture of sandalwood and musk, and my heart leaped at the closeness of him. My blood pounded in my ears, and I clasped his hands that lay upon my waist.
“I cannot see you, Jane … I can only rely on my memory of you … I remember the way you feel under my hands … I recognize the way you breathe … my body recalls the way you touch me, Jane …”
He kissed me softly above my ear and his breath was warm on my skin.
I took one step towards our bed, two steps and he followed me, hands on my waist, stroking my hips, sending shivers down my spine.
My legs bumped against the bed and he slowly turned me, opening the buttons of my gown. His eyes were a sparkling green and his breath came in shallow gasps. Mine too … as I began undoing his cravat, his waistcoat … Oh God! His hands were on my bare flesh now, pushing my gown from my shoulders, hard and fast! The feeling of his left hand, the one in the white cotton glove, was no less exciting than the one that bore no glove!
I helped him shrug off his coat and waistcoat, undid his shirt buttons with trembling hands.
Suddenly, he grabbed both of my hands and held them hard.
“Jane … Jane, you might not … like to see what’s under there …I don’t want you to be horrified by my injuries …”
I freed my hands and cupped his face.
“Edward, dear precious Edward, I love you … I want to feel you, to love you, to be with you, completely, without boundaries … “
I slid his shirt from his shoulders. Yes, he was damaged … the left side of his chest was shrivelled and red, his left arm badly bruised where the flames had gnawed at him. I didn’t care … he was magnificent! Broad, hard shoulders, strong muscled arms, flat stomach and slim waist …
My fingers fumbled with the buttons of his trousers and Edward gasped.
“You wicked little witch …”, he breathed but did not interrupt me. Instead his hands were pushing my gown down along my legs and then went up to my stays. In seconds he had unhooked them, leaving me in my chemise and drawers.
“Jane … will you do something for me?”
“Yes … Edward …”
“Get rid of those stupid clothes and wait for me in bed with your eyes closed. I’ll undress and I’ll join you. I want our first contact to be completely naked, Jane … my flesh must find yours … please, Jane … we must touch without you seeing me …”