I promised Timlet that the next piece I posted on my blog would be this. So it’s thanks to his wheedling promises out of me that you’re reading it now.
Gracious! It’s been forever and a day since I posted anything from the writing world! I think the last writing snippet I put here was The Bride Exchange. That was in… September! Of last year! Oh my. I am so sorry, you guys! I really need to get back in the groove!
Ah! But before we begin, a little note from the author. (That’s me. *wink*) I’m not sure where this story came from. It was one of those that popped into my head as dialogue, and basically wrote itself as soon as I put the fingers to the keyboard. So that’s it. No explanation, really. Hope you enjoy!
The Morning Edition
“What is this drivel?”
Henry Reid held out the article of disturbance and none-too-gently dropped it beside his wife’s favourite teacup.
“Oh,” she exclaimed, “the papers arrived!”
“Have you read it?”
“No, but… I didn’t think it necessary seeing that I was present.” She rejected the newspaper in favour of her creamed tea.
“What have you done?” he demanded with perfect coldness.
The greater portion of a painted rose hid beneath her lip as she paused before sipping. “What do you mean?”
Seeing as she would rather search his eyes than the tangible evidence in the papers, he took it up again and read aloud.
“’The captain’s wife sits cool and collected, answering all questions as if she were born to deal with the pressures of political debate. Everything is answered in lucid, concise phrases, and she hardly misses a beat when drilled on her husband’s career. His decision to vote against the Danforth Alliance, his stance on the provincial famine, and his plans to stifle the riots in Lowery are defended with expert reasoning, proving Lady Reid to be as informed as she is beautiful. However, one line from our examiner causes hesitation and seems to still the lady’s tongue. She falters and takes a moment to study her fingers before answering.
“Your husband must love you a great deal.”
“He is the most faithful and devoted husband a woman could ask for.” Her head ducks as if revealing only a half-truth.
‘It is obvious Lady Reid is enamored with the powerful man she wed only last summer in his private villa. But her answer mystifies. Is Captain Reid cold as he is ambitious? If his own wife doubts the return of his affections, what can be said for his policies?’
“What is the meaning of this?”
Frowning, Lady Reid adjusted the lace cuff on her sleeve. “Is it not… discreet?”
“Discreet is not the issue! I have never read a more appalling account of myself. Not even Bixley is this bad! I had not expected it of you, my dear.”
Tears nettled her eyes as she struggled to understand. “You said to be aloof in my answers.”
“Yes, but not to the detriment of my character! Your lack of… of warmth at her implication has painted me as a regular villain! This is too bad, Gemma. It is really too bad.”
“I thought you wished me to shy away from subjects that could turn sensational. You told me to be careful and I have!” Her tearful eyes turned pleading upon him.
“Careful, yes! So careful that you cannot honestly answer whether I love you. Do you not understand? It’s not a scandal I am afraid of at this moment. It is the manner of your opinion. Is this what you truly think of me?”
“I have never doubted your love,” she murmured, on the verge of earnest crying.
His next words were strained. “This suggests otherwise.”
“I am truly sorry, Henry. I thought this is what you wanted.”
“No.” He abruptly knelt and took her hands in his. “No more apologies from you. It is my own folly in not being clear. When I said to use discretion I mean you shouldn’t tightrope walk over the city in nothing but your bloomers, or take it upon yourself to greet all my officers in the same manner you greet me each evening.”
“I hate heights,” she sniffled.
“Yes, I know as much. But you do not hate my officers…”
She made the effort to laugh a little.
Growing serious again he held up the offending paper, “This hurts me, my darling. It shows me what a selfish ogre I’ve been. Are you really so unsure of my affections? Do I provide so little in the way of proof?”
“I didn’t want…” she threw her arms around his neck, “Oh, Henry, I know that you love me.”
“But do you know why I love you?” he said, pulling her away to look into the depths of her fair, blue eyes, “I love you for your audacity; your blaring, opposite opinions put in cruel eloquence; your ability to frighten me into seeing the worst of myself and forcing me to quit my destructive indulgences. I love you for the passion you reserve for mountain air and that unreasonable, absurd fondness you have for the cut of my face. I love you because I know you, and though it is in your nature to spit darts of sheer verbal outrage at my attackers, you—beautiful, charming actress that you are, combat them with a simple elegance that could never be matched. I see none of that here,” his finger smacked against the paper, “In reading it I envision a broken woman stifled by an ambitious master, unaware of just how desperately her husband loves her.” By the end of his outburst, his tone had turned pleading.
Gemma encircled his waist with her arms, pulling him tight against her. He grasped her face within his hands and kissed her soundly on the mouth.
“Come here, my foreign princess.”
“Foreign? We speak the same language,” she smiled.
“Do we? Sometimes I wonder.”