Chapter 8 (b)

A few days ago I entered a writing competition. I needed to write about something different. Get away from this story for a short bit and it did help. The results should be in tomorrow. It would be really nice to get a little validation so I’ll cross my fingers. It could be either really good for my motivation or really bad hehe. Anywhooo I’ll post the results here and you can see for yourself why I ranked as I did:)

Chapter 8 (b)

Vaughn took a deep breath and rearranged his longish hair with one hand then replaced his hat. He looked towards her door and squared his wide shoulders. With a furrowed brow, he lifted the knocker and applied it with resolve. He was about to come face to face with the woman he yearned for, the woman he had not seen since he had wronged her eighteen long years ago. Please god he thought do not let her shut the door in my face.

The door opened promptly and Vaughn was faced with a tallish, semi masculine woman. If he did not know better he would have suspected the woman was actually actually a man. He handed her his card and said politely. “Is your mistress receiving?”

The mannish woman took his card saying in a voice that seemed unusually low, “There are two mistresses of the house my lord, and they are currently not receiving callers.” The woman made to close the door. This was not beginning well Vaughn thought.

He put a hand to the door before it could close in his face. “Please, err Miss,” her eyes squinted at his hesitation in addressing her; “if you could just present Mrs. Lockley with my card I would be indebted to you.”

“Very well,” she said on a put out sigh, “stay there just a moment. She turned away and Vaughn could distinctly here her murmur to herself something about “proposing louts….” Vaughn was not used to being made to wait on a doorstep and his fingers tapped against his thigh in impatience.

A moment later Vaughn was confronted with a pixie like creature, the maid hovering behind her looking more like a bodyguard now than a maid, “Lord deWinn,” the small woman said with a scowl marring her elfin features, “You are not welcome here!”

“Please Miss…?” Vaughn said at a loss as to how to address her.

“Mrs. Babbet,” she helped arms crossed over her chest. “You dare to show your face here?”

“I would just like to speak to Glorianna Mrs. Babbet,” Vaughn said wondering just how much she knew of their prior relationship.

Stamping her foot in a show of temper, “That’s Mrs. Lockley to you Lord DeWinn, and I believe Sissy told you she was not receiving,” she motioned to the maid cum bodyguard  behind her.  “You have ignored Mrs. Lockley for eighteen years and now you waltz in and expect an audience with her?”

Vaughn’s question was confirmed, Mrs. Babbet obviously knew quite a lot about his past relationship with Glorianna. “I’m sorry Mrs. Babbet but I must speak to her,” he said as he brushed by her and stepped quickly around a glowering Sissy.

“How dare you!” Mrs. Babbet said from behind as his long stride took him quickly from the foyer and towards what must be the main parlor. He would look in every damn room if he had to he thought.

**

Glorianna sat with her feet up comfortably sipping her brandy laced tea trying to calm her nerves. She would surely become an alcoholic if her nerves were continually frayed as they had been of late. First that horrible confrontation with Dr. Melton and then on the heals of that catastrophe Sissy had come to inform them that Vaughn had come to call. She shivered even though the room was not cold. How had he found her she thought and what was Sylvie saying to him now? Perhaps she should have agreed to see him.

However, she could not bring herself to. She had dreamt of him every night since the one at the Royal Photographic Society meeting. How much worse would it be if he were close enough to touch? She would embarrass herself for sure. She could imagine what a laugh he and his beautiful wife would have when they discussed poor little Glorianna still so much in love with a man who had abandoned her long ago. Tears began to form in her eyes. If she shed one more tear for that man, she would surely go insane.

On that thought, the door burst open and there he was, tall and commanding as she always remembered him to be.

“I’m sorry sweetheart,” Sylvie pushed past him rushing to her side, “he cur simply barged in. You do not have to speak with him! Say the word and I will have Knox and Sissy escort him out.”

Glorianna now saw that indeed Knox and Sissy were hovering in the doorway ready to act on their mistresses behalf.  Glorianna almost giggled with looming hysteria at the ridiculous sight of the maid nearly topping Knox the footman in height very nearly more masculine than he.

“It’s ok Sylvie,” Glorianna said swallowing the lump threatened to close her throat, “I’ll be fine. Please shut the door,”

“Are you certain? “ Sylvie asked in concern.

“Yes I’m certain,” she said standing on shaking knees. “I’ll call if I have need. I promise,” she reassured.

“Alright then,” Sylvie said pausing at the door, “we shall be nearby.” With a snick, the door shut.

Now she faced the man who had haunted her for so long. He was no longer a dream but flesh and blood. Oh how her heart ached just looking up at his beautiful face.

Glorianna gathered her wits. She would not let him see how much he affected her. “Lord DeWinn.” she greeted him with a composed nod. Surely, he would not see how she trembled.

“Glorianna,” his low voice rolled over her senses and she briefly closed her eyes savoring the sound. “There is no need to be so formal is there?” His brow furrowed just as it had eighteen years ago.

“We are strangers now my lord,” she said folding her hands in front of her to still their quaking.

He came to stand before her. He stood so close that she could feel the heat coming off his body. She now had to tilt her head back to speak feeling a bit dizzy. Was it the position she now had to hold or was it merely his proximity she wondered? “We became strangers the day you left without a word my lord.”

“Glory let me explain…”

“You have nothing to explain my lord,” she said with a bit of heat, “your actions have spoken volumes.”

“I know I hurt you Glory, I was young and stupid. I thought it was the best way but I can look back now and see that I was an ass. Please forgive me Glory?”

“As I said my lord there is nothing to explain, nothing to forgive. We were both young and I was apparently stupid as well, “she turned her back to him and stepped a pace or two away. She could not look at him and say the things she needed to say. She could not stand so close and not want to reach out and touch him. That would be foolish.

“How were you stupid in this Glory?”

She could feel that he had stepped up behind her, his words whispering from above her head.

“My lord, I’m sure many a young and impressionable girl has made the same stupid mistake that I did.”

The heat of his large beloved hands were now on her shoulders. He squeezed gently, “you made no mistake Glory, it was me not you,”

She whirled on him suddenly beyond sadness. “You see sir when a man tells an eighteen year old girl that he loves her she has the woeful tendency to believe him. I am not the first girl to be stupid enough to believe that!”

“I did love you Glory,” he said with vehemence. “I still love you!”

“Lord DeWinn, you are mistaken. We are strangers now, you do not know me and I do not nor do I want to know you know! I suggest you go back to your wife and leave me be. You have only dredged up old wounds and I have no desire to bring up more!”

“My wife is dead Glorianna!”

A shocked silence followed that outburst. Glorianna spoke into the quiet of the room, “I am sorry for your loss then my lord.”

Glorianna reeled inside. What was she doing pushing him away when all she wanted was to pull him closer? Nevertheless, she must! She could not be dragged back into the pain and hurt that was Vaughn.

“Good day Lord DeWinn,” she turned to leave but he somehow beat her to the door and locked it.

“Glory…,” he said crowding her, “I cannot articulate my feelings, god knows how I wish I could,” he said in an anguished voice, “let me show you,” he said reaching out and gently touching her hair his fingers trailing down to her neck exposed by her upswept hair, “let me show you how I feel.”

He lowered his mouth bending from his great height to meet hers.  She melted instantly. Oh how lovely those beguiling lips felt. His arms came about her as he deepened the kiss. He lifted her in those strong arms and she remembered how safe she had always felt in them. So different from poor Henry whom she had never felt protected in his arms. How distinctly different from Dr. Melton she inwardly shivered. She had definitely not felt safe in his arms she thought.

Vaughn carried her to the sofa and lowered her gently. He was always so gentle with her she thought loosing herself in his kisses. His big body came down over hers. He pulled back a fraction his large hand stroking the lines of her face. Oh how she loved this man. The thought made her freeze. Reality of what she was allowing breaking over her. She pushed against his wide shoulders.

“What is it Glory?” Vaughn whispered huskily.

“I cannot do this Vaughn.”

“Ah how I love to hear my name on your lovely lips,” he smiled.

“Vaughn you must stop,” she said with a bit more force pushing at him harder.

He sat up realizing she was now pulling away from him instead of burrowing closer. His brow puckered and he looked at her questioningly.

“I need time to think Vaughn. Obviously there is still an attraction between us but that is all there is.

“It’s not simple attraction Glory…nothing that simple,” he hung his head, elbows braced on his knees with his fingers dangling between his thighs.

“It is,” she said emphatically, “and if I succumb to this desire between us now I’m afraid I’ll be as much a fool now as I was as a girl.”

“You were never ever a fool Glory.”

“I want you to go Vaughn,” she said quietly

He stood with resignation written in every line of his body “alright. I’ll give you time to think, but I will be back Glory this is not finished.”

Vaughn unlocked the door, “just promise me you will stay away from Dr. Melton?”

She had already decided for her own reasons that she would but she was curious that Vaughn would make that request. “Why?” she asked simply.

“There are some things I’ve found out about him that do not sit right. He is not the man he puts out to the world.” Vaughn paused as if thinking better of continuing, “He will soon be under investigation for the murders in the east end and I don’t want you entangled in that.” He turned with that and showed himself out.

A frigid chill raced down Glorianna’s spine. Hadn’t she thought exactly that? That there was something decidedly wrong with the doctor after what he had visited upon her at the hotel? Oh, he was handsome indeed and compelling but her time spent with him in that room had convinced her that she should follow her feelings and cut short their liaison. What would Vaughn think of her if he knew exactly how much she intimately knew of the doctor’s façade? The evil she had felt lurking beneath his handsome exterior.

After that night she should have known better than be surprised at the burst of anger that the usually urbane doctor had shown. She relived the earlier meeting in her mind and resolved that in this case she had no trouble complying with Vaughns request.

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