|The Cut Marionette
Author: L. Lo PM
Former prostitute Emmeline James struggles to escape from her past as she creates a new life for herself.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chapters: 12 - Words: 23,777 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 4 - Follows: 7 - Updated: 11-16-11 - Published: 08-01-10 - id: 2834011
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Katherine came into my room the next morning while I was dressing, swaying her hips as she walked along doing a slow dance. Her expression barely concealed the hint of a grin that I could see she was trying to contain. I put my foot up on the arm of the chair and rolled my stocking up to my thigh.
She plopped down in the chair, her skirt billowing around her. Katherine glanced out the window before whipping her head around and smirking up at me.
"I know a secret." She sang, rocking back and forth.
Secret. She could be referring to far too many aspects of my past. Or maybe a secret about Nathaniel. I would like that.
"I was wondering what that sashaying into my room was for. Who is the secret about?"
Thank goodness. She did not know anything about me and I would get to learn more about Nathaniel. He never told me too much about himself.
"Well, what is it?"
"The oddest thing happened yesterday afternoon. I was walking through the halls up stairs and the drapes were open, as they almost always are." She was mocking me now, drawing the story out. "I thought I saw someone out there, so I gave into curiosity and looked out. I almost wish I had not now, as I witnessed quite a scandalous scene."
"What exactly was that?" I gave in and went along with her.
"My dress that I so graciously gave you crumpled up on the grass."
"Oh, is that all?"
"You were straddling Nathaniel out in the open for everyone to see! What is happening between the two of you?"
"Well," I stalled, "there was no one around to see."
"Windows surround the courtyard and are still transparent even if you are stuck in your own lover land. What if someone other than me had seen you two?"
"I do not know. Nathaniel would take care of it."
"That's easier said than done. Are you two engaged?" Her face lit up at the idea as if someone had just proposed to her.
"No. Of course not."
"But you love him." She gripped the arm rest.
"Do not confuse what you saw down there with love. That had nothing to do with love." Katherine had no clue what the caused that romp in grass. She was too young and silly to understand something like that, but I considered her lucky for her naivety.
"But he so clearly cares for you. And he stopped for you….out there when you wanted to."
"You kept watching?" I laughed under my breath. "He does not know me well enough to know how he feels toward me. Besides he stopped me. I did not stop him."
By this point Katherine's cheeks were a hilarious shade of red, but she did not let her embarrassment stop her curiosity.
"Emmeline, that means he really does love you. Most men would put their pleasure before your needs. But he didn't."
I stared out the window as she continued prattling on with theories of his love for me.
"I mean," she stressed, "if he did not care about you, he would not worry if his actions hurt you after your accident.
I whipped my head around and stared at her. "What did you say?"
"I said that he clearly cares about you since he did not continue pursuing you when he could hurt you because of your accident."
She drew out the word accident, implying that she was using it as a polite euphemism.
"Why don't you just say the word? We both know what you are talking about." I threw my hands up in the air, stomped over to the bed and sat down. "I had a miscarriage, and because of Nathaniel's and your stupid propriety I did not know until yesterday afternoon when I was straddling Nathaniel in the middle of a lawn only to be rejected. Why didn't you tell me? You both knew while I suffered not knowing the fate of my unborn child. This changes everything."
She came over and laid down on the bed next to where I sat.
"I thought you would just know, motherly instinct and all. I did not want to upset you by reminding you or humiliate you by bringing it up. But there can be other babies."
"I do not want other babies," I sighed.
"It appeared that you wanted Nathaniel's babies." She smirked at me.
"I thought you were not supposed to know about things like that, let alone talk about them."
"My friends and I used to pass around our romantic novels from girl to girl. They are hard to get a hold of you know. I had to hide mine behind my armoire. My maid probably would have fainted if she had found out my secret."
"Yea or taken it for herself."
We laid on the bed for a few minutes staring at the ceiling.
"So are you going to stay?"
"I want to. Really, I do, and I will miss both of you, but I cannot just rely on Nathaniel's charity anymore."
"It is not charity if he wants you here. And you have helped him too. I saw what went on before you got here, and you have made him better."
"Do not act like he was anything less than perfect before I came."
"He was not perfect, trust me, but he was good. Besides what will you do if you do not live her with us? You don't have a fiancé or a family to rely on."
"Neither do you. Maybe I will become a house servant like you."
"Darling, I would say marrying Nathaniel would be the better option."
"Perhaps that can be my back up plan. I would still have to work a proposal out of him though. Don't forget that."
I had fully intended to leave that week, but Katherine and Nathaniel always found some excuse for me to stay for one more day, so I spent two more weeks at the house. During those two weeks Nathaniel was never more than cordial with me. Even with my most practiced and charming flirting techniques, I could not entice him to move beyond wrapping his arm around me or kissing me lightly on the cheek. I had meant what I said when I told him that afternoon in the courtyard that I had enjoyed our indiscretion.
Nathaniel had been gone for the past few days on business, but was coming home late tonight. I wanted to show him just how much I had missed him. I may not be able to be with Nathaniel for long, but I wanted to take full advantage of the time I did have with him. When the house had been silent and dark for an hour at least, I crept down the hall in my chemise to Nathaniel's room and laid across his bed. I would not have to wait long.
Forty minutes turned into an hour and twenty.
The weight of a blanket being draped over my body stirred me from my slumber. All the candles had been blown out. The bed drooped as Nathaniel climbed under the blanket and pulled me close against him.
No man had ever simply held me before. His arms wrapped around my waist and he stroked my back lightly, but did not wander. I pushed myself closer to him, reveling in the feeling of being close simply for the sake of closeness, not to get something in the end.
Nathaniel slipped into sleep quickly, his breathing growing heavier along with mine. A faint whiff of whiskey filled the air, but I must have been dreaming.
I woke to Nathaniel trying to slowly slide his way off of the bed without waking me. His back was to me and I grinned as the large man attempted to tip toe to his dressing room.
He turned to face me, smiling.
"And I thought I was being so quiet."
"I wake easily. I tried to wait up for you last night, but you were home later than I expected. I wanted you to know I missed you."
He sat down beside me on the bed.
"Yes, I could see that. And I hope you were not trying to use our time apart to your advantage."
"I don't know what your insinuating." I smirked up at him.
"I am not insinuating. You are not too difficult to figure out."
"I think you'd be surprised."
"Like I said, I think you knew that you would be even more tempting after four days of separation."
"Tempting? You've hardly even touched me since that day in the courtyard."
"Because I am well aware that I cannot always practice perfect self-control, and am even more painfully aware that I seem to be the only one attempting to."
"I will just have to try again then and hope that your judgment will falter."
"And I will just have to remain strong because I get the feeling that you will stay until you win this game. Finally, I think I may have found a way to keep you here."