by Loyal Wynyard
Loyal Wynyard Website
Book 14.95 US
Kindle e-book $3.00 US
There IT is. The answer. She married more out of convenience than love.
How much more of this catastrophic mistake could he bear to hear? His life lay in ruins and perhaps for her, as well.
“It’s a totally academic environment; they seem to stay in their own little world. Lots of debates go on as if it were normal conversation. The books are piled to the rafters. The students come and go from our lodgings; you would think we were living in the dormitories.”
John could barely stand listening to much more, but he knew he must. He wanted to smother her mouth with his, so she would stop talking.
“We had a slow and long courtship.” Margaret was saying. “I never seemed to want to commit, but eventually I did.” She paused for a moment, smiling wistfully at him. “So how about you, John? Is there anyone special in your life, if there is no Ann?”
Looking directly into her face, he softly answered, “There was a special woman in my life, but that seems to be over now.” John quickly looked away, embarrassed that he had said such a thing. How ungentlemanly that was, knowing she understood the significance.
“I’m sorry, Margaret. I didn’t mean for it to come out that way. Please forgive me. I can’t seem to keep my thoughts to myself. I’ve taken up enough of your time, already. I hope we can remain friends and perhaps in the future our correspondence will be uninterrupted. Do you think you could call Dixon for me?” He stood to leave.
Margaret stood as well, less than an arm’s length from John. Just the presence of him there, his hovering over her, so tall, his tantalizing manly smell, his solid, muscular body, the timbre of his voice, that handsome face and those beautiful hands with long slim fingers . . . everything . . . the all of him . . .
I cannot bear this ache . . . thinking about what might have been.
She began to weep. With John so near, it was then that she recognized her own deep feelings, clawing from within her. Knowing that she could never be closer to John than she was at this very moment just seemed an impossible truth.
Staring at her tears in disbelief, John reached for her hands but Margaret quickly threw her arms around him and lay against his strong chest. She didn’t know why she did it; she was drawn inexplicably to him. John represented something to her, but she wouldn’t allow the ‘why’ to take form in her mind. She pushed it away, not wanting the realization to invade the moment.
He hadn’t moved. He didn’t back away from her unexpected behavior. He was a rock standing there for her. Through his thick clothing, she could feel his heartbeat accelerating, pounding loudly.
His love for me is hammering in his chest. Dear God, what am I doing?
John gently put his arms around her, and closed his eyes, letting the moment wash over him like a cresting wave rolling onto shore. He knew this was improper, he had no understanding of why Margaret was embracing him, but he was not going to let it stop. ”Dearest Margaret,” he whispered, grasping her closer. Margaret, so small in his arms, that his hands circled her body from shoulder to shoulder. Kissing the top of her head, he inhaled deeply to capture her scent. “Dearest Margaret,” he whispered again. He could hear her muffled sobs and saw the wet tears drop to his sleeve. Loosening some of his own self control, he feathered her with light kisses down the side of her face. Nestling his mouth against her neck he whispered “Oh God, how I love you, Margaret,” as he pressed her more tightly to his rigid body.
God, let this moment continue forever.
He wanted to kiss her mouth, so badly. He began tilting her face up to his, but she backed away, as with teary eyes and flushed cheeks, she looked up one last time into his face. The moment was gone.
“I . . . I don’t know what I’m doing,” Margaret said, continuing to back away. She turned to go get Dixon.
John stared at her as she left the room. His mind was racing. He knew she wasn’t free to express anything, but he had just been given the most precious gift he could ever receive. Never before, had he held her. Finally, he was able to tell her what he had waited to say for so long. She had voluntarily come into his arms, held him, and allowed him to hold her body pressed to him. The passion he was feeling was so intense, he was afraid he might open the cage and release the primitive animal within himself. He thought about carrying her upstairs, and taking her. He had never experienced this . . . this fervor.
“Mr. Thornton?” “Mr. Thornton, you look a million miles away.” Dixon was standing in front of him, trying to get his attention.
“I was.” John said. “Sorry, Dixon. You wanted to see me before I left?”
“Miss Margaret is upstairs crying, sir. I hope everything is alright?” Not getting any reaction from him, she continued, “What I wanted to ask was when did you want me to be there in Milton?”
“As soon as you possibly can, Dixon. Please check the train schedules, and post me a note about your approximate arrival time, and I will have someone come to collect you and your things. I thank you very much, Dixon. I know my mother will be well looked after and I appreciate your help.” Glancing over her shoulder, he asked, “Am I to assume that Margaret will not be down to say goodbye?”
“I don’t think she’ll be down. I better go to her and see what I can do. Can you see your way out, sir?”
“Yes, Dixon, I can. And would you give Margaret a message for me? Tell her I said, “MAYBE SOMEDAY.” That’s all. Goodbye, Dixon.”
The Ruby and the
Upstairs, Margaret collapsed across her old bed crying. She felt ashamed and mystified by her sudden emotion for John and her own response to him. She was lost in his embrace until his rigid passion for her became all too apparent, but she knew he had little control over that. Unexpected elation, brought on by his desire for her, had momentarily swept her away. For Margaret, passion had quickly disappeared from her marriage to Brook, and she martyred the guilt of her naivety. She had endured mortifying feelings of inadequacy as a woman but today John did not see her as the failure she saw herself to be, thus dispelling some of the disappointment in her own femininity. His sensual reaction had restored a small part of her womanly self confidence.
She loved her husband . . . so what had prodded her in seeking refuge in John’s arms? Nausea had swept over her when she realized their correspondence had been intentionally intercepted, and her possible destiny had been manipulated out of her own hands.
John, almost a stranger for the past two years, had demonstrated his devotion and his passion, neither of which could be found in her new marriage. Why isn’t my own husband showing me this regard?
How she had wanted to remain in his arms, to feel loved, but eventually she struggled against her newly found sensuality and stepped back. How she despised herself. As she retreated into the house, she saw John, eyes downcast, drop his arms to his sides. In a fleeting moment, she saw him cross from exhilaration into utter rejection. How, she despised herself.
Dixon came into the room, rousing her from her dismal reflections.
“Are you alright Miss Margaret? I hope those tears are from happiness and not sadness.”
Sitting up, Margaret said, “Dixon, I’m fine. I just got a little melancholy, no more. Is Mr. Thornton still downstairs?”
“No, he left. He told me to tell you two words.” He said, “Tell Miss Margaret ‘MAYBE SOMEDAY’. It don’t make much sense to me, but I guess you’d know what he meant.”
“Thank you, Dixon.” Margaret said, feeling the impact of John’s parting words.
He loves me still and carries hope for us even though I am married. What more harm did I just cause to us both?
Thirty minutes later, John stood on the platform waiting for his train. As there were less passengers leaving London than arriving, he soon found himself alone in the coach, stowing his hat and cases over the top. Finally, he settled by a window as the train pulled away.
“Maybe someday . . .” He was leaving a door of hope open for both of them, for even with her marriage, he could not close his. John had no other choice, now; he would never give up. When he had first learned of her marriage, two months ago, he had lost all hope that she had ever cared for him. But it was different, now. Even though she had married for convenience, and even with another man making love to her, John felt Margaret was reaching out for him through her silence. He could be imagining it because he wanted it to be that way, but he didn’t think so. John was prepared to live a life waiting for her. Twenty four hours ago, he had nothing . . . nothing but grief and sorrow. After today, he had a small piece of her heart; he was sure of it.
When John arrived home, he was surprised to find his mother still awake, for it was past the time she usually retired. He walked over to her sitting on the couch. John noticed she was wringing her hands when he bent and kissed her on the cheek.
“How was your health, while I was away, Mother?” He asked as he straightened himself and began removing his waistcoat and cravat. He sat down in his chair by the fire, clasped his hands across his lap, and stretched his long legs out before him.
Hannah looked over at her son. “My health is fine, but I’ve been sitting here all weekend,” she said, “feeling sorry for my outburst about the possibility of you wanting to see Miss Hale. Your letter to Dixon made me realizes that I’m forcing you to hide things from me and do things behind my back because you fear my reaction.”
“Mother, I do not fear your reaction for myself. I am capable of taking responsibility for my own decisions, but I don’t like upsetting you. You and I have always been of a different opinion when it came to Miss Hale and I try to keep that part of my life from you, so you won’t worry. I’m sorry, but there it is.”
“No, John, I will change. I’ve done a lot of thinking while you were away and I’m completely resigned to the fact that Miss Hale is your real love and always will be. I need to be part of that with you. If she is so deeply embedded into your heart, than she shall be in mine, too. If I could do anything to change the past for you, I would. Whoever you love will be important to me because she’ll bring you happiness, which then will be my happiness.”
John’s eyes narrowed speculatively, “Mother, this is quite a change. It sounds to me that you’re more ill than I previously thought.” He tried to keep the alarm out of his voice.
“Oh, John . . . it’s not that. I know I’m getting older, as it should be, and maybe my time is becoming shorter. That isn’t it. It was the letter from Dixon and your reaction to it that opened my eyes to all of my past negative comments. It’s not like she had to make me happy, she had to make you happy. Originally, I didn’t think she did a very good job, but you handled her rejection and still you loved her.”
John rose and went over to the couch. Kneeling down beside his mother, he spoke earnestly, “Your words mean a lot to me. Thank you, Mother. But now that she is married, I fear all your newly found sentiment for Margaret will never see the light of day.” He could feel himself on the edge of tears. He couldn’t share with her that he would live in hope, waiting. His mother had just made a heartfelt concession, but she would never understand that. Hannah, not knowing what to say to comfort him, looked lovingly at her son. Reaching out, she drew him close to her.