A/N: Regular readers! No worries! I am not abandoning my other stories. I will be finishing Laura, but wanted to get this idea down first.
Brad wasn't home. He was probably going out tonight.
I ran to my room and threw down my backpack.
I checked my clock.
I ripped off my work clothes as fast as I could and leaped into the shower. I brought my old iPod with it's waterproof cover that still held all my favorite music into the shower with me. I started up the 1970 theme music and soundtrack from Jane Eyre.
As I closed my eyes, the world disappeared around me. The green hills of England appeared as did a great stone house.
The house in which I spiritually lived with the greatest love of my life - Edward Fairfax Rochester.
Tonight, I would spend all evening in his arms, listening to his voice, and knowing that he loved me. I closed my eyes as the water ran over me. I heard his voice speaking to me, "Jane! My hope, my love, my life!" I heard him say, "Jane, you are -JANET! JANET! JANE, GET OUT OF THE SHOWER! Do you know how high our water bills have been? What are you doing in there? Pretending you're with some guy?!"
My eyes snapped open.
Brad had not gone out tonight. At least not yet.
I stepped out of the shower. "I'm out! Do you need it?"
"NO! Just stop running up our costs, Woman!" He stomped away.
I faced the mirror and put Brad out of my mind. It was time for my transformation into Edward's wife. I plugged in my curling iron and my curlers. After putting on lotion that smelled like English roses, I got out my favorite clothes that had cost me a whole $175 but were worth every penny - a satin and lace negligee set. I imagined that Edward had bought it for me on our fifth anniversary after his sight had been restored.
I swirled around, feeling the sheen of the soft satin and seeing how beautiful it made even plain, old, regular me look.
I wrapped my hair in big curlers that would give it the volume that I needed to put it up. I washed my face clear of my make-up. I started my music over for the third time and felt myself slipping away, back home.
The oak trees glistened with a sheen of ice. My breath made small clouds as it left my mouth. The lane to Hay was rutted deep with murky puddles where the ground ran low along the small, meandering creek. A low mist hung over my way. My senses were heightened with anticipation.
I feared monsters or beasts such as I had heard from Bessie in her night time tales.
I stopped in horror.
My fear came to life.
In the lane was a monster. A hairy beast, as large as a wolf, running directly towards me. So great was my fear that I could not move from the place where I stood. I heard a sound behind him. The sound of horse hooves. This could be no beast, but was only a great dog running before a traveler.
Yelling an oath, the traveler and his horse fell on the ice. He required aid. He wrapped his arm around my shoulder as I assisted him to his horse, bringing, as he said, "Mohammed to the mountain" It was the first time that I had been in the arms of my husband, Edward Fairfax Rochester.
I stopped and breathed deeply to still my beating heart. I felt that rush of giddy excitement that I always did when I remembered how first we met.
When I arrived home, I heard Mrs. Fairfax direct me to meet with the master in the drawing room. The great dog from the lane lay before the fire. After I handed the master his tea, I sat in the chair where he directed me. As he inquired about my paintings, I heard a foreign beeping sound from far away.
I patted my imaginary dog one last time, feeling Pilot's fur leaving my hands as the room changed back into my bathroom. My egg timer was going off to signal that my curlers had been in long enough. I pulled them out one by one, hearing Edward say, "My Love, I delight in your long, soft curls. Pray, allow me to kiss them as I hold you in my arms."
When the last curler came out, I looked down to load up the picture of how I would put my hair up tonight, but I didn't have my phone. I remembered putting the mail down on the kitchen counter. I must have left it there.
Sighing, I walked to the bathroom door. "BRAD! Are you here?"
"ARE YOU HOME?!"
I shook all my big loose curls and swirled my floor length sheer all lace negligee and satin with lace dressing gown through the air. The bishop sleeves and loose sides of my robe billowed around me. The lace nightgown slightly trailed the floor. I was a moving cloud of satin and lace with my long, brown curls flowing down my back.
Edward would find me beautiful. I couldn't wait to hear what my beloved husband would say tonight.
I slid my iPod into my pocket with the dance music from the soundtrack playing. I popped in my ear buds out of habit since Brad hated my "lame BBC history stuff". I had informed him in a huff the first time that he caught me listening to it while studying that it was an American made movie with a soundtrack byJohn Williams who also did Star Wars.
He didn't care.
I closed my eyes and twirled the short distance from the bathroom into our kitchen. I could hear and see the laughter, conversation and dancing as I watched from the staircase with Adele. The shrill sound of a ringing phone broke through my admiration of Blanche Ingram in the drawing room below to return me again to my apartment.
I opened my eyes and answered my phone as I rifled through the cabinets, deciding what to eat while Brad was out with Grace tonight.
"Janet? Jane?! What are you doing?" Opal's voice demanded.
"Nothing. I'm getting something to eat."
"That's right. NOTHING. Again. Why aren't you here?" She seemed hurt.
"Why should I be?" I asked, having again closed my eyes while I danced around the kitchen pretending that it was years later. Edward was dancing with me in our bedroom as I replayed the dance scene music again, listening with my ear bud in my left ear while using the phone with my right.
"We are all getting together tonight for my birthday. Are you honestly telling me that you are going to stay home?" Her voice sounded exasperated. "Why are you so calm? What happened to painfully shy Janet? Are you not nervous around guys anymore? Aren't you feeling out of place? Or have you-"
My phone dropped out of my hand, landing in the dish drying rack.
This was Friday.
The first Friday of the month.
Today was not January anymore. No, no, it was….February 1st.
Brad's night to host the guys.
I heard a sound behind me.
The front door was opening.
Laughing, talking voices.
The sounds behind me stopped all at once before I heard a male voice quietly say, "Whoa. Is she your sister, Brad? Why have you been hiding her away? What is she wear-Is that what I think that is? Wow….That's just….wow!"
I heard another voice wryly answer, "Well, probably because she's smokin' - and you are YOU. I'd make sure you never saw her either."
I whirled around to face the evil things in my living room as I breathed hard. At least a dozen faces - MALE faces - were staring at me. I shook so hard that I could barely stand. Only my hands backwards gripping the countertop kept me upright.
Brad was frozen in place. He finally stepped forward, aghast. "JANET! What do you think you're doing? What is that? What are you wearing?" Brad gaped at me open mouthed. "Are, are you, Jane?" My own brother checked me out. "Whoa, Girl, where have you been hiding? Why didn't you ever dress like that before? I had no idea my sister-WAIT! You thought I was going to be out. Didn't you?" Brad walked towards me in a fit of fury. "WHO WERE YOU EXPECTING TONIGHT?!"
I breathed out, "WHAT? No, I, I, I would never." I threw my arms open, gesturing widely. My dressing gown opened wider and fell to my sides. I stepped forward to him seeing him turn almost white with rage.
Brad glanced down before his blazing eyes met mine. "No? What are you doing? Trying to pick up one of my friends? You aren't even supposed to be here. Get that thing off! Get yourself covered up! Get some clothes on!"
"I, I, I forgot." I squeaked out. "I'll leave. I'm sorry."
Brad grabbed my arm, painfully. "Answer me! What are you up to? Who are you seeing? It's not Roberts, is it? I warned him. I warned him!"
While Brad kept yelling at me, one of the other guys wordlessly approached me. He eyes locked straight into mine as he pulled my dressing gown shut and tied it closed so tightly that it cut into my waist. While Brad kept freaking out, he whispered to me, "Miss Westerly, please forgive me. I should not have looked. I caught myself and stopped. It was extremely difficult to do. You are a very beautiful woman.
"I hope that this will make up for it." He gave me a slight bow as he walked back to the group of guys who were all staring at the ground or the ceiling looking embarrassed or guilty.
Brad was still freaking out with his voice getting even higher and more shrill.
My mind began working again.
The tall, square looking, athletic, handsome one had come to close my robe. My robe had been...open. My whole body had been perfectly visible to all my brother's friends through a film of totally sheer, seductive ivory lace. They had all stood there, gazing at my body, and….enjoyed it. Like I was some loose, cheap….Never, never had I humiliated myself so badly before guys before - and that was saying something with my record.
A rush of complete, utter mortification swept over me.
I heard Brad somewhere far away roaring at me, "Did you have to do it in our own apartment?! No sex. We have an agreement. We have a PACT! Why won't you-No, no, don't. Don't! Janet! Janie! Oh, please, don't. I'm, I'm, I'm sorry. Don't-"
I erupted into tears and fled into my room. I slammed the door shut and locked it before throwing myself down on my bed.
Almost at once, I heard the locked being picked with the spare key. I sat up, ready to scream at my brother.
The door opened to reveal not my brother, but Robe Closer.
Could this day get any worse?
I buried my head into my pillow. "Please, please go away!"
"Sorry. I don't speak Pillow. Can you raise your head and say it again?"
I did and repeated it.
The guy did not go away. He did the worst possible thing imaginable. He reached over to me and rubbed my back. "Good evening, Jane." He tried to hand me my phone but I didn't take it. He pulled up my calendar and showed me, "Opal's Birthday Party". He took my arm and pulled me to sitting up.
Without saying anything else, he laid out a too fancy shirt I felt self-conscious in and never wore, a skirt that Brad bought me that I think is too short, and my fancy shoes. Leaning into my closet further, he pulled out a wrapped box. "Is this her present?"
I didn't answer. He put it down on my desk. Afterwards, he gave me a bizarre look and moved towards me.
I leaped up and ran to the far side of the room."What? What are you doing?" My back pressed against my bedroom wall as I willed it to disintegrate so that I could escape.
The man put his arm around me and led me back to my bed. "Here. I have picked out clothes for you."
"Why?" I leaned as far away from him as I could.
"I've come to comfort you, be kind to you, and help you get ready for your party."
"Why?" I backed away, alarmed and escaped from his arm. I ran and hid inside my closet, closing the door after me.
The door swung open. The Evil Male leaned against the door frame and laid an arm across the opening so that I couldn't pass. "Because I want us to be friends. Brad's told me about you. All guys aren't terrifying animals you know. Most of them aren't.
"Look. Brad's worried about you. He wants you to be happy."
"I, I, I am happy." I rapidly looked around for a way to escape when my captor disappeared. I hadn't made it out of the closet fully before my clothes came flying into the closet.
"Put those on." He shut the door. My phone appeared under the closet door so that I had some light.
By the gleam of my phone, I dressed.
"Tell me when you are done." He commanded.
"Done." I squeaked out.
The door opened, making me squint from the light. The Male Beast stepped into the closet with me.
"No! No!" I tried to bury myself in my hanging clothes, but he roughly pushed them aside with a squawk of hangers flying across the pole.
The Man Beast held my face with both his hands. "Please, Jane. Don't be afraid of me. I want to get to know you, take you out.
"Brad's fine with it. Really."
I couldn't move.
"You really are very beautiful. You look lovely in that. Not as good as what you picked out for the night, but still really good.
"Wear it on our first date, okay?"
"Date?" I could barely get the word out. What an absolutely horrid thought!
"Brad's told me how sweet and good you are. That's just what I want. A nice, kind girl.
"I really am sorry about earlier. I do try to behave like a good guy, but you have no idea how hot you….Sorry.
"Anyway, Grace is my cousin, you know. I set them up. Her and Brad.
"He's sort of returning the favor.
"Your long curls are so soft. Do you mind my touching them?" Without waiting for an answer, he ran all the fingers of his right hand through them and down my left arm. "Has he talked about me?"
"I don't even know who you are." I couldn't move. He, he, a guy, was touching me, talking about dating me, telling me that he wanted to know me better.
With a single motion, he dropped my face and hair and wrapped his arm around my shoulders as though he needed me for support. He walked me out of the closet. "Let's get you out of here. 'If you can't bring Mohammed to the mountain, you must bring the mountain to Mohammed.' Ever heard that saying before? Brad's always giving me a hard time about my obscure sayings. But, I don't think that counts as obscure do you?
"Come on. I'll drive you to your friend's house.
"By the way, I'm Edward.
"It's wonderful to finally meet you, Jane."
I keeled over in a dead faint.