After I Married Mr Rochester – Part Two

Chapter  2 – Jane, I want a wife …

Blanche

 

 

“Edward!”

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.”

Edward chuckled.

“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.”

Jane and Rochester3

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 …”

 

 

 

 

 

After I Married Rochester – Part One

Dreaming2

This story is a continuation of Jane Eyre 2006, starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. Jane has finally married her Rochester, a man scarred by what happened before. In the great fire that destroyed his ancestral home, Bertha, Rochester’s first wife had perished. Rochester is badly burned and has lost his eye sight.

Posted every Saturday by Lucia Swiers in Jane Eyre 2006. 

Chapter 1 – The first day of the rest of my life

So, it was done.

This morning, my dear Edward and I were finally joined in holy matrimony.

After all the suffering we endured, after all the waiting , we were finally married before the community of the little church nearby the manor-house of Ferndean. It was the residence Edward had taken refuge to after the great fire at Thornfield Hall.

This time, nothing disrupted the ceremony of our wedding.

No messenger came barging in, shouting that there was an impediment to our marriage. How well I remembered these horrible events of the past, when Richard Mason accused Edward of bigamy.

Bertha Rochester’s brother had been in the right. Edward’s dangerously insane wife was still alive and breathing on the day Edward wanted to marry me, Jane Eyre.

However, I saw Edward blanch when it was my turn to give my answer to him as if he feared for some disruption. Only the soft pressure of my hand on his made the colour return to his features.

 

I was rich now. Jane Eyre, little grey mouse, forced before to making a living as a governess, had now turned into a proper gentlewoman.

The money my uncle John Eyre left me was secured in a safe trust fund and provided me with an annual income of some five thousand pounds. In our marriage contract Edward had granted me the use of this money entirely as I wished to. It was his wedding present to me.

When he told me the previous night, I had wept with happiness because I knew he had done it for me to feel free and independent, even after I had become his wife. Only Edward knew how much independence meant to me.

And speaking of independence, of course, I had not forgotten Adèle. How could I? She would need me more than ever now that she was changing from a girl into a young woman. My plans for her were not yet fully drawn up, but I was determined to take it up with Edward in the days to come.

 

Edward, my husband.

While I stood by his side in the great entrance hall of Ferndean about to host our wedding guests, I had a chance to study him at my leisure before people would arrive.

My heart sang with unmitigated joy, as it always did when I feasted my eyes on him.

Tall, upright and proud, Edward stood without the help of his rosewood cane, although I knew that he would not be able to maintain strength in his injured left leg long enough for the day. His left hand, maimed by the fire that had destroyed Thornfield, was covered with a white cotton glove, so that people would not be confronted with the absence of the ring finger and little finger.

Edward was very prim about that hand, he wanted nobody to see what he called his “horror”. Even I had not been permitted to see it, and he never touched me with it.

His face had also been damaged in the fire. The skin on the left cheek was shrivelled and red, and his left eye was blind while his right eye had lost all ability of sharp vision. The ugly scars, however, could not blur the beauty of those strong bones or mask the strength in the lines of his jaw. His straight nose and lush mouth were still untouched and his eyes, though blind, were still a beautiful, unusual green-blue. Since the day we had found each other again, those eyes sometimes regained a sparkle of bright pure joy but … only sometimes, and not nearly often enough.

I was determined not to let him slip away in gloom but I knew it would be difficult. Edward’s body was not the only thing damaged in the fire that killed his wife, Bertha.

 

As though he felt that I was watching him, Edward turned to me, his eyes almost sky blue when a ray of sunshine illuminated his face. My breath caught in my throat, and I swallowed the huge lump of emotion  with considerable effort. Keep a head onto your shoulders, I admonished myself, you have got a long day ahead of you.

“Jane …”

The love in Edward’s slightly hoarse voice overwhelmed me with a longing that burned deep within my breast. I came to stand beside him and took his right hand in mine.

“Jane, hold me close … sometimes I cannot feel you near enough and I cannot bear that, Jane!”

“I’m here, Edward, I will always be here …”

With a groan, he pulled me close, and his right arm hugged me to his chest, so forcefully that it hurt.

While I listened to the racing beat of his heart where my cheek rested again the soft skin in his neck, I heard him whisper, “Will you, my lovely little swallow, will you indeed?”

I did not answer for it was a question that came from fear settled deep inside him.

“You left me once before, remember?” he said hoarsely.

“Oh, Edward.”

So doubt was still strong in Edward’s soul, and mere words could not ease it. Instead, I pressed harder against his chest and kissed his cheek. I already bore a stubble although it was not yet five in the afternoon. He would need a proper manservant, I reminded myself, since his valet had not been taken on again after the fire.

 

The next moment Mrs. Fairfax bustled in, her gentle face with its myriad of wrinkles red from excitement.

“ Jane, erm, I mean, Mrs. Rochester, ma’am, the guest have arrived, and I do not know where to begin!”

“Please, Mrs. Fairfax, do calm yourself. You and I know that everything is in the best of order to properly receive them. Make sure the staff is in attendance and all will go well.”

I straightened my shoulders and took my place in front of the table at the large window. Edward came to stand beside me.

“Here we go, Jane! Are you up to facing the hyenas?” he chuckled mischievously.

I suppressed a laugh and forced my face into dignity.

Gradually, the room was filling with Edward’s tenants and their wives, all in their Sunday best.

Although Thornfield Hall no longer existed, the Thornfield estate was still very much in business and thriving. It still boasted of eighty farms, all largely successful and providing Edward with a considerable income.

All these people came to wish us well in honour of our marriage and many had brought simple but endearing presents which a footman stowed away upon the table behind us.

Our few servants were next to pay us honour.

There was, of course, Mrs. Fairfax, our housekeeper, and Grace Pool, once a nurse to Edward’s first wife Bertha. She was now employed as lady’s maid to me and Adèle, taking care of our wardrobe.

A few footmen from Thornfield Hall had come with Edward when he took up house at Ferndean and dear old George, the old butler, had them firmly under his thumb. He was training Roberts, a young man related to Mrs. Fairfax, as the future butler in our household.

All wished us the very best of happiness in our marriage.

After that, it was time for more serious work. Our neighbours, many of them local gentry, were arriving. There was the Squire and Mrs. Withers from Waverly Court, a modest little estate north of Thornfield Hall, with their four young daughters and one son Master William, a nineteen year old youth. Mrs. Withers was a kind, homely lady and Squire Wilfred was a short rotund man of cheerful disposition.

The Vicar, Reverend Geoffrey Tovey and his wife Gwendolyne and their twin sons, Charles and Henry, fifteen years old, were next. Gwendolyne Tovey was more than twenty years younger than her husband and the three of them, young and impulsive as they were, managed to keep the Reverend on his toes. I embraced Gwendolyne as affectionately as I could for, in the few weeks that I had made her acquaintance, she had become a true friend to me.

Finally the most important of our guests entered the hall and people stepped out of their way for fear of causing offense.

Dressed in a magnificent gown of vivid blue silk, Blanche Ingram strode through the double doors like a queen entering Winchester Cathedral on Coronation Day. Her golden locks were gathered in an intricate chignon on top of her head, from where several heavy curls fell beside her heart shaped face.

She looked so perfect that my breath caught in my throat. The look in her cornflower blue eyes was challenging, to say the least.