Chapter 13 – The reckoning
I was, of course, not frightened at all!
Edward, for all his brooding and hot temper, would never frighten me; he was all bark and no bite. Even so, standing tall and ramrod straight, his unseeing grey-green eyes blazing with … something which was not fury. He was an impressing sight, and just by looking at him my heart rose sky-high!
“Well?” he asked, in a low voice, which made my pulse race. I did not reply but started undressing as silently as I could. In a couple of moments, I was only wearing my shoes and stockings.
“Well? Are you going to give me an answer, Mrs. Rochester?”
His voice was really threatening now, but when I saw the beginning of a smile dancing at the corner of his mouth, I decided to play along with the game he had in mind.
“Edward …”, I said plaintively, “I am so very exhausted. I will give you an answer but not now. I really need to get some rest. Please?”
His face was suddenly full of concern.
“Jane, are you hurt? I’m so sorry, darling, I …”
“No, Edward, please, leave me be and let’s go to bed. It’s the middle of the night.”
I carefully opened the bed and sat down. Edward began to take of his coat and dropped it in the middle of the room. My pulse started beating erratically. Then his shirt followed, and I had to smother a gasp of anticipation.
When he took a few steps towards the bed, I drawled in a tired voice, “Will you not help me with my stockings and shoes, Edward? My whole body is aching with fatigue …”
“Christ, Jane, sweetheart, why did you not say so? Why did you let me be so ghastly?”
He reached the bed, and I stuck out my feet, which he took into his hands, easing off my boots. His hands glided upwards along my stockings now, sending heat waves up to the centre of my core.
“Jane, … where are your skirts?” he smiled, finally understanding. I had already loosened his breeches, and my hands were roaming over his chest and stomach, pushing down his clothes until he was as bare as I was.
With a groan from deep within his chest, he gathered me up and lifted me away from the bed. Suddenly my back was pinned against the wall, and he pushed into me, hard and frantically. After one heartbeat, I was over the edge, my body throbbing with immense pleasure. I clung to my husband’s body, anxious to widen the distance between us. I felt the muscles of his back and legs straining up like steel cords when he cried out his release.
For the length of an eternity, we remained there against the wall, clinging to each other like two lost souls. Then, with his head buried between my breasts, Edward’s low voice reached my ears.
“Jane, you wicked witch, if you ever do that disappearing act on me again, I swear to God I will … smother you with pleasure so that you might never recover!”
I looked down and chuckled.
“Well, my Lord and Master, coming from a man who is wearing nothing but his boots and whose breeches are down on them, this does not impress me very much!”
The next moment, the Master threw me onto our bed, discarded the said garments in the blink of an eye, and was again upon me in no time.
When I woke up the next morning, Edward was already wide awake.
I kissed him on the mouth in an impulse and he flushed.
“What is it, my love? Am I taking you by surprise?” I asked in a playful tone.
“No, sweet Jane of mine, that is not it. I feel suddenly ashamed because I have not told you of … Jane, do not be cross with me but … something wonderful has happened to me. My eyesight is improving and at this moment, I can actually see you, not sharply, but not as vaguely as before.”
It was a lot to take in, and I remained silent for a while.
“So, Edward, last night, you deceived me in letting me think you didn’t know I took my garments off?”
“I need more than one single lamp to see, my little witch, I need daylight. No, I didn’t know. The surprise was so intense that I could barely refrain myself long enough from … well, you know, don’t you?”
“No, Edward, I do not know what you mean, so please oblige me and explain?”
It was impossible not to laugh when I saw he believed me for just a tiny moment.
“You … you wicked woman! Come here!”
After our morning ablutions and a very late breakfast, Edward and I retired to the parlour with a large pot of coffee. We needed to talk about many things.
“So, my Jane, tell me why you found it important to go careering around the countryside without me knowing?”
“Oh no, Edward Rochester, you first! What can you tell me about Miss Edwina Blackthorn?”
“Now that was embarrassing! I had to ask the venerable Fairfax if she would read my letters. I don’t know who of us was most flushed but I don’t think it was me because Mrs. F. was gasping in horror when she made the same conclusion you did, Jane.”
Trust Edward to make a foolishness out of something so serious!
He looked deeply into my eyes. Yes, he was truly looking, something he had not done for a long time!
“Jane, upon my honour, I have never had sexual intercourse with Eshton’s sister for the very simple reason that she was already well and truly married before I was introduced to her. If she gave birth to a child that was conceived before her marriage to Blackthorn, it had nothing to do with me.”
I wanted so very much to believe him. My heart believed him unconditionally but my rational and naturally suspicious mind told me otherwise. It was long before I knew him so it didn’t affect me much but still … I felt uncomfortable about it.
“Are you going to see the solicitors?”, I asked him.
“Yes, that is my intention. There is more to it than meets the eye, Jane. This Blackthorn girl, whom, by the way, I’ve never met before, seems a decent enough person. Furthermore, there is Blanche’s role in all this. Blanche has disappeared from Ingram Park, did you know? Lady Ingram is beside herself with worry, or so the servant, who brought me the message, told me.”
“You will have to make a new appointment, Edward, you were supposed to meet them at eleven this morning.”
“No, my sweetling, Edward Rochester just barges in when he pleases and no one, not even a distinguished solicitor, is going to make objections to that!”
A knock on the door drew our attention away from Miss Blackthorn for the moment and I summoned the knocker in. It was Johnson.
“Mr . Rochester, sir, Mrs. Rochester, ma’am, the stable master says that Beaver has regained consciousness, and now would be a good time if you want to interrogate him, sir.”