Another Pretty Nothing — Chapter 3

21 Feb

So this story is getting fun. I really like these two, surprisingly. They’re cute together but just don’t know how well suited they are yet.

Edwin had no idea what he was going to do. He had been thinking about Rue when she had first entered, but having her there with him set him on edge. He hated himself for feeling so conflicted still, but dammit, didn’t he deserve a few more days to lick his wounds before he had to start the business of being married again? Could she really be here right now and expecting him to perform? After what he’d witnessed?
No, Edwin had more pride than that, and he intended to exercise some of it now. As soon as he could stop being mesmerized by the way the light played in her dark brown hair. He’d always liked his wife’s hair – it was thick and wavy and soft. It made him think of coffee with milk in it. Quite unbidden, his mind wandered as he watched the firelight playing delicately across her hair to their wedding night. He had been in awe of her quite from the beginning. Rue had always been a little different than all the other debutantes – a little bit more carefree, a little bit more cheerful, a little bit more daring. She had these fabulous eyes, not quite blue and not quite gray. They were nearly translucent and showed every whim and desire as plainly as if she were to have handed him a note filled with all her deepest thoughts and feelings. She wasn’t beautiful, but she was lovely.
On their wedding night, he had been so excited he almost couldn’t contain himself. She had been a fairy queen in the church and he had looked forward to seeing if she were as adventurous in all areas of her life as she had been in the ones he had seen so far. He had been sadly disappointed, for the moment they had begun the act she had closed her eyes and braced herself. He grimaced uncomfortably just remembering the expression of her face. No passion, no joy, just fear and maybe a little boredom. It had been a chore just to consummate the marriage and when it was over he’d scarcely been able to look at her. He merely cursed whichever family member had given her that piece of advice and tried to pretend it had never happened as he drifted off to sleep.
That, he thought, was probably what had hurt the most in this entire awful farcical situation. She could muster enough passion for Benjamin Crawley to be weak kneed against a bookshelf, but the best her husband had ever been able to hope for was that she might open her eyes before he climbed off of her. Edwin had always been aware that his physical appearance could best be described as “average” but it had never bothered him before. Something about catching Rue in a tryst, though, made him feel so ugly and unwanted that sometimes he never wanted to be sober again. He didn’t even know what he could do to recover his lost sense of himself, but he did wonder if maybe taking her up on her implicit offer to make love might not help. But he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted it to help, he wasn’t sure he wanted to forgive her yet.
“Well,” he stood up slowly and she flinched slightly, startled. He may have been quiet a bit longer than he thought. “I’ll be sure to take your feelings into consideration, but for now I think it best you return to your chambers and we both get some sleep.” He tried to ignore the hurt in her face as he dismissed her summarily and instead offered his hand to help her to her feet.
“Of course, my lord.” she wasn’t even trying to hide her disappointment and he found he liked this side of her far more than the passive docility she’d adopted sometime after their wedding. He, more out of habit than anything else, walked with her to the door and held it open for her to pass through.
She paused midway through the door and turned around.
“Edwin?” She said. She rarely used his Christian name. He noticed a glint in her silvery eyes and realized she wasn’t giving up at all. He knew he should move away and shut the door, but it had been so long since he’d seen that wickedness in her face and he was as drawn to it now as he had been at 23 when she poured champagne over his sleeve and asked him to dance.
“Yes?” His voice sounded husky with conflicted feelings. He wasn’t sure what he wanted her to be planning, he just knew he was powerless to stop her.
“I’m not ready to sleep yet.” She said so simply, but as he opened his mouth to try to respond she through her arms around his neck and before he knew it she was kissing him – not the tender pecks he’d become accustomed to, but really honestly kissing him like she wanted him. She’d never wanted him before – really, if he was being honest with himself, no one had – and for a moment his hurt and his pride all evaporated. His hands moved of their own accord to her hips, pulling her against him. One hand moved up through the back of his hair, teasing it gently. Her mouth opened and her tongue danced against his playfully, begging him for something. In that one moment he would have given her anything she asked for. For those few seconds, he was completely enchanted.
It was her moan, really, that brought him back down to reality. She moaned and it brought him back to that first horrible moment of realization. He pushed her away before he could become too sick. He saw the look of shame and horror on her face as she stood in the next room and knew it mirrored his own as he shut and locked the door. He felt like a coward, locking the door to keep his wife out, but he couldn’t face her again. Instead, he grabbed the nearest vase and threw it against the wall. He was coming apart at the seams. This wasn’t the marriage he had wanted.

Rue heard the smashing come from inside his room with something akin to horror. She leaned back against his door and dropped slowly to the ground. She had thought for sure he was going to forgive her. When she had kissed him, he had kissed her back for the briefest of glorious moments. It had surprised her the effect her husband could have on her after all these years, but she’d never kissed him that way before. She’d never known she wanted him that w ay, and more importantly, she’d never imagined he wanted her that way.
She knew he wouldn’t have married her if she hadn’t made a scene and if his mother hadn’t insisted he marry immediately. She owed the old bat that much at least for ensuring Rue’s plans came to fruition. But she had always felt a little guilty for the part she had played in arranging the whole farcical courtship. This had always been a marriage of convenience, but maybe that wasn’t good enough for either of them anymore.
She knew the maids would talk, but she decided to stay outside his door all night. What difference did it make if there was whispering about why the lady of the house spent the night on the floor? She was a favorite below stairs, and even if she wasn’t they were too well treated in general to make much of a fuss. She was going to make this right, she resolved. And if she had to spend every night for a week outside his door, then so be it. Eventually he had to let her in. Eventually.
At some point, Rue drifted off to sleep. In her dream, strong arms had lifted her up and laid her gently in her own bed. In her dream, she had been surrounded with the smell of clean laundry and a hint of spice when she had been carried. And in her dream, she had reached out and grabbed his wrist before he could leave her in bed and he had lingered just a few moments – long enough to kiss her on the forehead – before leaving her. But when she woke up, she was in her bed and she was alone.


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