|Picnics, Plans and Persuasion
Author: RevSue PM
Eloise wangles an invitation from Sir Wilkes for herself and Nanny to a company picnic for Wilkes' retirement.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Chapters: 2 - Words: 13,223 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 5 - Published: 04-30-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5029597
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
The very next morning, a tragic figure burst into the suite, wailing, "I HATE change, Nanny! I absolutely HATE it!" Eloise then threw herself on the sofa and cried stormily.
Nanny hurried over and sat beside her charge, her hand brushing the child's hair from her hidden face. "There, there, Eloise, it can't be as bad as all that..." She really wasn't up to this any more... these outbursts of emotion! Especially after having such a restless night... wondering what it might be like to have Sir Wilkes make love to her. Those thoughts had shocked and upset her, because she had always had a good reputation, for Lord's sake! In the last forty years, that is. What would people think if they knew she was fantasizing about making love with someone so far above her station? She closed her eyes to blot out the image, and in so doing managed only to heighten the delight of her fantasy as she imagined him undressing her and touching her in forbidden but delicious ways....
She jumped, torn from her fantasy when Eloise cried out passionately, "How can you say that, Nanny? It is absolutely the worst it could BE! Now that he has retired, he's LEAVING THE PLAZA!"
"Who is leaving, pet?" Nanny inquired, never ceasing her strokes, not really paying much attention to the child.
"SIR WILKES!" A fresh storm of tears accompanied the exclamation.
Nanny froze mid-stroke, her mouth open in shock. Yes, she had known he was retiring, and yes, she should have known there was a possibility that he might leave the Plaza, but.... Then Eloise sat up and snuggled in Nanny's embrace, and the older woman's arms closed automatically around her. "How will we be able to bear it, Nanny?" Eloise whispered. "He has been here for absolutely FOREVER...."
"I..." Nanny swallowed hard, then forced herself to say, "Eighteen months isn't exactly forever, but yes, Sir Wilkes 'as been 'ere a long, long, long time. I guess we'll just 'ave to... carry on without him..." Inside, she felt as if she were curling up and dying.
"But Nanny, you like him! Have you even TOLD him yet?"
"Naoww..." she said hesitantly. She had not told him, not in so many words, that is. Her kisses last night, however, had probably let him know quite well what she thought of him... but she ALSO believed, from his equally enthusiastic kisses, that he liked her enough to, well, at least to have mentioned that he was thinking of moving, if indeed he WAS thinking that! It would have been only common courtesy, for Lord's sake!
"I ALWAYS say what's in my heart! Everybody should, Nanny!"
"Aoww, I know, for sure, sure, sure..." Nanny tried to soothe her agitated, tearful charge.
"This is absolutely the worst news, isn't it, Nanny?" Eloise's lower lip trembled, but Nanny wasn't paying any attention. Her eyes were blank as she stared into the distance. "What are we going to do, Nanny?"
Nanny dragged herself back and tried to cheer the distraught child up a little. "Oh, my stars, stars, stars! Well, we'll... just... we'll just DO!"
"Nanny, that Lord Feather-something yesterday liked you too, I could tell.... and I could tell that Lord Feathers was making Sir Wilkes sad... so I think Sir Wilkes must like you, too."
Nanny's face changed slightly, as if she was considering Eloise's statement seriously and found it to her liking. She tried to control her smile, thinking of Wilkes' kisses the previous day and, yes, the scowls on Wilkes' face when Lord Featherstonehaugh touched her or paid her effusive compliments. The fact that she couldn't stop the smile completely only aggravated her, and she shook her head sternly at Eloise. "Naoww, Eloise, 'ow many times do I 'ave to tell you...?"
"Nanny? I think my heart is breaking." Eloise put her small hand over her chest solemnly. "Is this how you feel with YOUR broken heart? Like you never want to breathe ever again?"
"Eloise, love, whatever gave you the idea that my 'eart is broken?" Nanny struggled to block out the unwelcome news about Sir Wilkes, and found it easier to accomplish when she was talking to Eloise about something else.
"I just, well, gathered it. From what you said about Philip. And how you looked. Just like how you look now, which is why I think YOUR heart is breaking again, too, now that Sir Wilkes is leaving..."
Nanny could only hope that Eloise had her news mixed up. "Ah. Well, remember, pet, you can't fix EVERYTHING."
"I guess you don't want to talk about this any more, do you?" Eloise asked, for once very attuned to her nanny's emotions. "I'll go see if I can find Bill... he might have some ideas, or some news.."
"Be back for lunch, mind," Nanny said absentmindedly as Eloise seemed to drag out the door, just pulling it partially shut behind herself.
When she was alone, Nanny began to repeat the news to herself, trying to get accustomed to the fact that perhaps Sir Wilkes would be leaving.... forever. In spite of giving herself stern talkings-to and trying to see the bright side of things, it wasn't long before Nanny was in tears. It had been years since she had allowed herself the luxury of crying over anything and, as with most things she did, Nanny didn't do her grieving now by halves. Soon she was sobbing bitterly.
Wilkes just happened to be passing on his way back to his own rooms, and he hesitated when he overheard the sounds of distress coming from Room 1627. Checking to be sure no one was in the hallway to see him playing the Peeping Tom, he stepped closer and peered through the partially-closed doors. Seeing Nanny hunched over on the sofa with her head in her hands and her shoulders shaking, he forgot appearances and good manners and hurried over to her.
"Nanny? Nanny, whatever is the matter? Nanny?" In moments, Wilkes was perched on the sofa beside her, his arms around her as he spoke to her.
She jumped violently at his words and touch, but couldn't stop the flood of tears. Instead, she turned her face into his shoulder and liberally sprinkled her tears over his suit. Somewhat taken aback, Wilkes nevertheless manfully did his best to comfort her. He patted her back and smoothed over her hair and murmured meaningless phrases soothingly. In between her chaotic sobs, he heard disconnected words such as 'leaving' and 'retiring' and "why?". Wilkes stiffened for a moment, shocked, realizing that Nanny appeared to be crying because of HIM! Had he heard aright? HE had caused her to cry? Surely not! When she seemed somewhat calmer and her trembling had lessened, he dug into his pocket and produced his handkerchief. "Allow me, Nanny," he said huskily.
Pushing herself upright, now very embarrassed at being caught in such a manner, Nanny accepted his touch as he dabbed at the tearstains on her cheeks, then she took the soft cotton handkerchief from him and used it noisily. Holding the now damp square of material crumpled in her hand, she smiled shakily at Wilkes. "I... thank you, Sir Wilkes..." she murmured, her breath catching still. "Could... could you excuse me just a minute?"
"Yes, of course...." he said quickly.
Nanny hurried into the bathroom and blew her nose again, then splashed cold water on her face, staring into the mirror drearily. She looked absolutely terrible, for Lord's sake! Her eyes were red and swollen, her nose was red, her hair was straggling out of its bun... she WAS a sight! Holding a cold washcloth to her eyes, she hoped the swelling would go down soon, soon, SOON! She peeked out, hoping that Sir Wilkes would have gone, but instead he was still sitting on the sofa. Nanny sighed, then took a deep breath and stepped out.
Seeing her coming, Wilkes jumped up and hurried over to her, taking one shaking hand between his warm ones. "I... I don't mean to pry, Nanny, but... well, I hate to see someone, you know, weeping... Er, could you perhaps tell me WHY...?" He HAD to know if what he suspected was true... had to know if she had heard the false rumours circulating the Plaza about his imminent departure, and if, in truth, that was what had made this wonderful woman break down into tears.
Nanny blinked rapidly to keep the hot tears back when they threatened again, then stammered, "Aoww, I... well, I just..."
"It might, you know, help to share your... er, worries..."
"Not if it means sharing with the one who has CAUSED the problems, for Lord's sake," Nanny muttered, then sucked in her breath, aghast that she had said that out loud, even just as a whisper!
Wilkes froze for a moment in the act of patting her hand.
"Sir Wilkes, I cannot apologize enough," she said hastily, trying to pull away from him. His hands, however, had clenched over her fingers and she could not escape. "I had no right to say such a thing!"
"But.... you think it? What exactly do you think I have done, Nanny?" he asked gently.
Very red-faced now, Nanny hung her head and mumbled, "You're.... I understand you are leaving the Plaza..."
"And that news has you in tears?" Wilkes questioned, still not daring to believe that was why this woman he had grown to adore was so desolate. "Because you believe I am leaving?"
Nanny couldn't bear it any more. She lifted her tear-drenched eyes to his, and they flashed iceblue sparks at him. "Yes. I know you're rich and.... and I'm just a companion, and you're a knight and... above my station, and there can be nothing between us... but..."
"But Nanny," he interrupted her, "I WANT something between us... there IS something between us, and even YOU cannot deny that! Yesterday, last night..."
Shaking her head vehemently, Nanny continued to speak, not willing to listen to him. "I know that you must have been... toying with me last night... and yes, it was heavenly in your arms, but I won't let it happen again! I won't be a... a kept woman, for Lord's sake! Not for some rich aristocrat who cares nothing for the person I am, only using his money to get what he wants, and never sharing his heart! I've been down that road before with someone like Lord Featherstonehaugh, and I won't go there again! I... I couldn't bear it! It's what your class does to my class, and I won't have it! I have my pride!" Again she tried futilely to free herself.
"Nanny!" Wilkes was appalled at her opinion of him, but he knew enough not to let go of her hand. If he did, she would disappear and he would never have a chance to explain... if, indeed, he COULD explain! He took a deep breath, and then another. He was glad the man who had abused her trust was someone like Featherstonehaugh, not himself, but still... he, Wilkes, was a rich man, and he was from the upper class in England. He couldn't change that. Even after hearing what he realized now was a part of her past that horrified him and shamed him as a male, he knew that he really wanted to, well, to take care of Nanny... not just with money, although that would certainly be a part of life for any woman he brought into his world, but in every way there was. He wanted to fix everything that had ever gone wrong in her life, he wanted to protect her and hold her and comfort her and make everything all better. How did that get to be a bad thing? It was just so confoundedly inconvenient that she needed to feel independent... even if he DID admire her for it.
Nanny stared at him with wide eyes, hearing the pain in his voice just in the uttering of her name. He looked... hurt. She was stunned. She liked him, she really, really, really did. He felt so strong, solid as a rock, solid as in grounded, unmoving, unwavering, steadfast... someone a woman could trust. BUT, he was rich and she was sure he could have had almost any woman he had ever wanted. Why would he want HER? An older woman, with messy little problems like weighing too much and maybe drinking a little too much and having the almost constant care of a very, very, very active six-year-old child. "I... I don't understand why you think you want a relationship with ME," she whispered at last.
Wilkes almost groaned. NOW she looked halfway scared of him. Either that, or seemingly about to burst into tears again. He put his hand to the side of her face, as if it hurt him to see her so miserable, and then he folded her in his arms and held her so gently that it made her want to weep even more. "Oh, Nanny, my dear, dear, dear Nan... Truly, it's not what you think..." he murmured. He was so solid, his body warm and reassuring against hers. For a moment she felt beloved and cherished, wrapped in a man's arms again, something which hadn't happened for so, so, so long.
"You shouldn't be so nice to me," she mumbled protestingly into his shoulder. Eloise had said he was going to move away... she hoped fervently the child was mistaken, because she loved, loved, LOVED being in his arms!
Sudden laughter rumbled up from deep inside him, and she was sure she could feel a smile on his face. His hold was infinitely gentle and reassuring. She snuggled a bit closer to him, her nose pressed into his neck, trying to pull herself together and trying to make herself let go. But it was so hard.
She felt his lips brush her hair, against the side of her face, her cheek, then the corner of her mouth, slowly, giving her plenty of time to object and to move away. Like a fool, like a woman who hadn't learned a thing in the past, instead of moving very far away, Nanny stayed in his arms and merely turned her face to look at him. When Wilkes' gaze drifted to her mouth, Nanny lost her train of thought. Perhaps she was only imagining, HOPING, that he wanted to kiss her again? But when one of his hands came up to cup her face, she knew with a certainty that she hadn't been imagining a thing.
His mouth covered hers, warm and welcome. Nanny's mouth opened beneath his, welcoming the intoxicating pleasure of kissing Sir Wilkes, slowly, sweetly, as if they had all the time in the world. Nanny's arms went around his neck, and she reflected on how much she had wanted this intimacy again, just one more time... how much she appreciated his undeniable skill, his gentleness, his body melded to hers. The kiss soon deepened, turning more deliberate and extremely deadly to Nanny's composure. She began to tremble uncontrollably. His hand at her waist pulled her body closer to him as he deepened the kiss still more, promising all sorts of pleasures. Nanny lost herself in his kiss, arching her back and pressing her body tightly against his. Really truly kissing him was sheer bliss, she found.
Then the horrible thought intruded; if she allowed him to seduce her with his touch, how could she bear to continue living here when he was gone? She could NOT let this happen... not again... not with Sir Wilkes... Nanny's sudden unresponsiveness was communicated instantly to Wilkes, and reluctantly he drew back slightly, his breathing rapid and harsh as he continued to hold her in his arms.
"Nanny?" he whispered, when he had caught his breath somewhat. Knowing Featherstonehaugh as he did, Wilkes had to do something quickly if he hoped to forestall the other man's pursuit of Nanny. Featherstonehaugh's interest in her yesterday at the picnic had been obvious, and the man would not forget her any time soon... as if ANY red-blooded man could forget her vitality, zest for life, her magnificent eyes and truly lovely smile. "Nanny, what if the relationship I want with you is... well, marriage?"
"WILLY!" Nanny was stunned.
Wilkes hurried on. "I don't want to lose you, now that I have finally got up my nerve to get to know you better... in so many ways. I... I think I love you, Nanny... Nanny, will you consider becoming my wife? I know I'm not a paragon by any means, and I fall far short of perfection especially in comparison to you, Nanny, but I CAN offer you my love and admiration and..."
What was he saying? "Aoww, my sainted Aunt Fanny, Willy! You compare yourself unfavourably to ME?"
"Er, well, yes... I didn't think...." Wilkes tried to figure out her meaning, but she was proving too great a distraction as she panted and trembled in his embrace. His body automatically reacted to hers and she clutched his shoulders to prevent herself from pressing against him again. "Nanny... I want you, NEED you!" he groaned. "Please, say you will marry me? Take pity on me? Marry me, Nanny?"
"Oh for Lord's sake, Nanny, just say YES!" Eloise's strident voice cut through the passion holding the older couple closely entwined. "You've liked him for absolutely EVER!"
O o O o O o
"Nanny," Wilkes begged her in an undertone about an hour later, after the excitement of Kay's unexpected arrival back from France and mother and daughter finding Nanny and Wilkes kissing in the suite had died down somewhat. "Come to my suite tonight.... after the others have gone to bed...?"
She knew what he was asking and would not pretend she did not, but Nanny was a little shocked nonetheless. "Aoww, KNICKERS, Willy," she hissed. "That would not, not, NOT be proper!"
He pressed his advantage, running his finger over the palm of the hand he had captured again. "But you want to...?" he coaxed her, persuasively.
Guarded because of the almost inconceivable and quite astonishing fancy Sir Wilkes had seemed to have formed for her in the last few days, Nanny found it impossible to look at him. Instead, she glanced over to where Kay and Eloise were closely examining some of the trinkets Kay had brought her daughter from France. "Yes," she murmured. "For sure, sure, sure, I do!"
Wilkes knew he had gone too far with his bizarre invitation, but he wanted to speak with her about the future in private and he knew that with Eloise underfoot, that would not be possible. He was also feeling pressured because the phone had rung half an hour ago for Nanny, and it had been Featherstonehaugh! She had told the other man she was too, too, too busy to talk right now, but had still agreed to let him call again. Wilkes really had to make sure Nanny heard his own hopes and dreams first before Featherstonehaugh stole his ideal woman from under his very nose!
Speaking very quietly so the other two wouldn't hear, Wilkes tried to reassure Nanny, saying, "You know I have honourable intentions, Nanny. I want to marry you. Soon. We are finding ourselves in new, strange and, well, you know, wonderful circumstances. We don't really know what tomorrow will bring, but perhaps we might have.... tonight, at least?" Eloise had already been making noises about what the foursome could do now that her mother was home again for a few days. Wilkes simply HAD to speak with Nanny first.
Nanny felt desire flooding her body. Oh my Lord, he was asking her to... to... she swallowed. It was hard how familiar this was all sounding. It had been this way when she had been a young, naive seventeen-year-old. And yet.... She should know better, she DID know better, but even as Nanny pulled her hand away from the temptation he was offering, she heard herself saying almost inaudibly, "Yes, I will come..."
"You.... you DO know what I'm asking, Nanny?" he asked anxiously.
"Yes..." Her heart was thumping so wildly she could barely stand. "I do, do, DO..." He wanted to make love with her. That thought terrified her at the same time as it thrilled her. She and Wilkes were both of an age supposedly long past heated passion. How could his touch, a mere glance, set fire to her and turn her from a very proper woman into a... a shameless hussy, for Lord's sake? But this was the man she adored and he seemed to care very deeply for her, unlike the brash young man from so long ago.
Accordingly, that night Nanny slipped out of bed after hearing Kay turn off the telly, go into her own room and shut the door tightly. Not willing to be heard in her shoes, or to shuffle down the hall in her bedslippers, she went stocking-footed to the door and carefully turned the knob, breathing only when she managed to get out of the room and into the deserted hallway without hearing a sound from either Kay or Eloise. She took a deep breath for added courage, then made her way down the hallway to Sir Wilkes' suite. Before she could raise her hand to knock on the door which was, she saw with mixed relief and trepidation, cracked open, Wilkes opened it wider and welcomed her in.
"Nanny, thank you for coming," he whispered, his eyes on hers.
When she had stepped over the threshold, he closed the door again, then smiled at her. "Now we might talk at a normal voice level, I should think."
"Talk?" Nanny asked. She realized she was twisting her hands nervously in front of her, and wiped her damp palms on her skirt.
"Of course... I'm delighted that you came tonight... as I had asked... as I had hoped... First though, Nanny... ever since I heard Eloise this morning when she... well, she said that you've liked me for absolutely ever! Is this true? Is THAT why she sent you an invitation to tea with MY name on it? How remarkable.... I mean, for such a small child..."
"I.... I... Sir Wilkes, I must, must, MUST make it quite clear.... I will not, not, NOT be badgered and.... and coerced into saying what you want me to say! Nor will I succumb to your indecent advances..." she began breathlessly, realizing she couldn't go through with what she was convinced he was asking of her.
Wilkes looked shocked. "No, Nanny! No, no, no, my dear, you have QUITE misunderstood me! Oh, dear, what a dreadful blunder..."
"You asked me here... tonight.... late... and I THOUGHT it was to... " Nanny felt heat surging into her face.
"Am I dressed for... you know, seduction, Nanny? Had that been my intent, would I not be in my dressing gown?" He indicated his impeccable three piece suit, and tie properly knotted at the throat.
"I... I suppose so..." Nanny faltered, now fiery red. She was mortified. How could she POSSIBLY have suspected that Sir Wilkes wanted to... well, to bed her? HER?
"Please, Nanny, sit down..." He tugged her over to the loveseat and she perched in a corner, wishing she could just sink through the floor and disappear. He sat on the edge of his seat in the other corner, and held her hands firmly in his. "Let me start again. From the beginning..."
"A very good place to start..." Nanny murmured cheekily, still managing to have a bit of spirit in spite of the humiliation burning through her due to her wild imagination.
He talked about how his work had brought him over from England to NYC where he had formed the company with Featherstonehaugh who was interested in working in the same field. They had done very well indeed, he said modestly... and for his efforts, he had received a baronetcy from the late King George VI, a title which he could pass on to his son...
"You have a son?" exclaimed Nanny, surprised enough to interrupt him..
"Er, no... that was simply an expression. I'm not married and never have been. I had, er, thought you knew that..." He looked puzzled.
Nanny was bewildered, and wondered if she hadn't been paying enough attention. She turned even redder, and motioned for him to carry on with his story.
"Well, since I spend at least half of my year in England and the rest here in New York City, it seemed rather foolish to maintain two properties, so I kept my place in England and arranged to keep a suite here at the Plaza for the time I am in America. Now, however, I have decided to, well, retire... as you know... and I must admit, I am rather torn as to my future plans with regards to, er, living accommodations..."
Nodding, Nanny waited silently for him to continue. He eyed her expectantly, but when he realized she wasn't going to speak, he cleared his throat, then said, "In short, Nanny, I do believe I want to live out the rest of my life in England!"
Her heart sinking, Nanny swallowed. She had known that he would say this... but...
"At least, I had THOUGHT I did... until the last few days. Now I am once again undecided," Wilkes added somewhat morosely. The way Nanny was looking at him, he was expecting no encouragement from her to stay around, although he HAD hoped.... He squeezed her hands gently, and surprised, she looked down, having forgotten he was still holding them. "Nanny, I've been, well, pondering what you said to that dreadful woman, Mrs. Daniels, at the tea we endured the day of the Debutante Ball. Indeed, you repeated it yesterday to, er, Featherstonehaugh. You said that Eloise is constantly reminding you to say what you're feeling, telling you to, er, follow your heart... and, well, you know, listen to other people's hearts."
Nanny nodded again. She remembered. Eloise ALWAYS said what was on her mind, and occasionally that was not, not, NOT such a good thing!
Wilkes now plunged on, looking as desperate as he felt. He HAD to make Nanny understand! "I... I've been trying to tell you what I want, but I expect it isn't being expressed very well. It's no wonder you haven't understood what is in my heart. The fact of the matter is, Nanny.... I love you. I love you, and I would be delighted if you would, you know, grant me the honour of your hand in marriage.... and then TOGETHER we can decide where we will reside, be it in New York City or England or even, well, even Canada!"
Her mouth falling open in surprise, Nanny sat motionless, staring at him.
"Nanny?" Wilkes frowned. He HAD been kissing her for the last few days as often as possible. Why did she look so astonished now? Was he that terrible a communicator? It seemed so! "Nanny? I... I love you... Please, will you marry me?"
He slid off the sofa onto one knee, fumbling in his jacket pocket and producing a.... a RING! Nanny gasped and jerked her hands out of his. "My sainted Aunt Fanny! Sir Wilkes...." She was quite overcome.
"Please, Nanny!" he implored humbly. "I know I probably should have gotten you one of those big diamond solitaires, but this ring looked so... well, more like something you might like... something *I* like more than a single diamond... and the sapphires remind me of your lovely eyes... Marry me, Nanny?"
"Sir Wilkes..." Her voice sounded strained and not like her at all. "I know much better than that, much much, MUCH! A marriage between you and I? It's WRONG! You're above my station!"
"Nanny, feelings are not wrong.... they just ARE. My, my mother used to say that building a strong marriage means accepting what your loved one is feeling, and not judging, correcting or attempting to change it with logic or instruction. Nanny, I LOVE you! You would make me a PERFECT wife!" He took her left hand in his and held it while he continued to beg.
Nanny blushed, then in a strangled voice said, "MY mother said we all have to WORK at our relationships, every day and even every moment. She believed that there is no such thing as a perfect partner... and would say we all have to work at making the perfect love TOGETHER..."
Wilkes had by now managed to slide the ring on her finger and had regained his seat beside her. Speaking earnestly, he drew closer, his hands going around her body. "Nanny, I agree... and I WANT to work at marriage with you, each and every minute of every day! I.... I want to..." He hesitated only a moment, then drew her closer into his embrace and said, "I want to work at making perfect love with YOU, Nanny..." He covered her mouth with his.
Nanny closed her eyes, expecting hunger and passion in his kiss like before. Instead, he gave her gentleness when his lips brushed hers very softly. Liquid sensation spread through her body, she grew heavy and pliant as he increased the pressure of his mouth on hers. Her lips parted with a moan and he swallowed the sound, making her forget everything but the need to feel his hands upon her body, and the need to touch him in return.
Her hands spread over his chest, slipping beneath the jacket and vest to brush over his shirtfront. He made a sound low in his throat then escalated the intensity of the kiss. When Wilkes suddenly withdrew, Nanny whimpered. But he smoothed a trembling hand over her dishevelled hair and said hoarsely, "I have to know, Nanny.... will you marry me?"
"Aoww my Lord, Willy.... I.... Before I say yes, I have to tell you...I'm, well, I'm... I'm not... that is to say, long ago, I...." she paused, frustrated, not knowing how to say what she needed to tell him – about her past.
"Nanny, I don't need to hear the details.... I have gathered from bits and pieces you've said that you were very badly treated when you were a young woman. You can't imagine how it pains me for your sake... but none of that matters to me. I don't have an unblemished past myself!" At her look of disbelieving shock, he shrugged. "I was not the best behaved young man, I must confess. Please, Nanny.... marry me?"
"Aoww, for sure, sure, sure!" she capitulated suddenly. "I do, do, DO love you."
Ecstatic, he crushed her to him once again. Then, just as suddenly he lifted his head once more. "Where.... where shall we live, Nanny?"
"Knickers, Willy, we can decide that LATER, can't we?" was her muffled but clearly exasperated retort.
Their hands met, their lips met and their hearts met. It no longer really mattered WHERE they lived, as long as they were together.
O o O o O o
A week later, they were married in a small ceremony at the Plaza. When a horrified Eloise had realized that when Nanny married Sir Wilkes, she would be moving into HIS suite with him, the youngster had almost wanted Nanny to call off the wedding. Nanny had spent well over an hour cuddling with her on the sofa, fantasizing what BOTH of their lives might be like in the future, and how absolutely divine, divine, divine it would be to have two places where she was loved and welcomed. "I do, do, DO love you, pet, you must know that, for Lord's sake!" Nanny had whispered. "But now... well, you know I've liked Sir Wilkes for a long time..."
"Not as long as you've loved ME, though..."
"Noooo," Nanny had said slowly, running her hand over Eloise's hair and dropping a kiss on her head. "But you'll soon be going to school, and I would be alone all day.... and Sir Wilkes would be alone all day too now that he has retired.... so it makes sense for us to be together instead of alone..."
"But what if he takes you to England and I never see you again?" Eloise had wailed.
"Aoww, Eloise, love, that won't happen. We won't live there all the time, for sure, sure, sure! We'll spend lots of time here at the Plaza! And when we ARE in England, you can visit us there..."
There had been silence for a minute while Eloise had digested that, then the child had asked, "Does Sir Wilkes live in a huge castle?"
Nanny had swallowed. "I, er, believe he does..."
Eloise had snuggled into Nanny's arms. "I'd love to live in a castle. I think it would be absolutely divine!"
"Divine, divine, divine," Nanny had repeated a little feebly. She, herself, was still trying to adjust to that. Wilkes had assured her that it was drafty and cold, like most castles were, which was why he lived in only a part of it and preferred to spend winters in more comfortable surroundings.
Kay, however, had finally stepped up to the plate and had taken charge of her daughter, dealing so well with her that Eloise could even smile, albeit weakly, as a deliriously happy Nanny said her vows to the man she had secretly loved for over a year. She STILL pulled a face when the two sealed their covenant with the traditional kiss, but bounced excitedly when Nanny threw her bouquet and her own mother caught it!
Before the supper, while they were greeting all the guests, Nanny was almost overwhelmed by the number of people who were congratulating WILKES on his marriage to a wonderful woman. For the first time, she began to wonder if the fact that she had always felt inferior to Wilkes was more a matter of imagination than reality. First it was Mr. Peabody shaking Wilkes' hand heartily, then Kay who kissed his cheek, then even LORD FEATHERSTONEHAUGH clapping him on his back, for Lord's sake! She almost choked as that phrase went through her mind. Yes, Lord Featherstonehaugh was there, having heard about the upcoming nuptials from Nanny when he had phoned back the day after Wilkes and Nanny had become engaged.
At the dance following the supper, after Nanny had danced with Wilkes, Mr. Peabody, Bill, Mr. Salomone and then Wilkes again, Lord Featherstonehaugh appeared at her side. Wilkes hesitated only a minute, but realized that Nanny had not paid any attention whatsoever to anyone else but himself – and for a brief time during the ceremony to the marriage commissioner. Still, it was with a bit of reluctance that he released his clasp on Nanny and she moved into Featherstonehaugh's arms.
Nanny concentrated on not tripping over her feet, thinking it would be too, too, too embarrassing to stumble when dancing with a LORD! Then she realized he was murmuring numerous compliments to her, and her breath caught when he offered to marry her himself if she would divorce Wilkes, since he assumed an annulment would not be possible. Scandalized, Nanny stopped dancing in an instant and narrowed her eyes as she glared at the man who had insulted her AND her Willy!
"Wait!" Lord Featherstonehaugh caught her hand just before she turned away. "I DO apologize, Lady Nan.... that was not what I meant to say at ALL! Dash it all, I should be taken out and SHOT! Truthfully, I DID mean to compliment you! It's just that Wilkes has always been so stuffy and boring... I never thought anyone, let alone a wonderful woman like YOU, would look twice at him! I suppose that for the first time in my life, I am feeling, well, jealous!"
Astounded that he seemingly felt that she was something special, rawther like Willy did, Nanny scoffed at him, saying, "My stars, stars, stars, my Lord, you obviously haven't met the right women!" and hesitantly allowed him to draw her back into his arms. They resumed their dance even as Nanny pondered his words. Perhaps... was it possible?... perhaps things were changing and these days the only important concern was one's personality and, well, character rawther than one's upbringing? When Wilkes claimed her again moments later, Nanny smiled politely at Lord Featherstonehaugh, thanked him for the dance and for attending their wedding, then turned away and promptly forgot all about him as she pressed close to her beloved husband. Wilkes, having seen the altercation on the dance floor although not understanding it completely, suddenly realized that he had no need to be jealous. Nanny would never consider looking at anyone else because once she had given her heart and her vows, she would be true to them. As they continued to dance, he talked quietly with her and, without really being aware of it, convinced her once and for all that no matter her background, she was more than worthy of his love.
Nanny and Wilkes had made plans to travel back to England on the luxury ocean liner, the Queen Mary. They would spend the summer there, returning to the Plaza and all their friends here in the fall. After their first year split this way, they would talk again about their future plans with regards to a permanent home. Eloise was currently begging Kay to go on the ship to England with Nanny and Wilkes, but to the new couple's secret relief, Kay did not seem to be paying much attention.
Then at last Nanny was being carried over the threshold of the honeymoon suite at the Plaza which had been turned over to them for a week. Their suitcases had already been brought in, and a bottle of champagne was chilling by the fireplace in which a fire burned. But the two never noticed, being much, much, MUCH too engrossed with one another.
Shedding clothes as they kissed their way to the bedroom, Nanny lifted her hands to caress the stubbled skin of his cheeks. She put her heart into her smile as she murmured, "I feel like the luckiest woman alive, for Lord's sake!"
Wilkes' eyes narrowed, passion flaring within their depths. "You are so beautiful, my love."
Nanny's breath locked in her throat. When he looked at her that way, she thought her heart might burst. Anticipation filled her, fed by the love she felt for this man. "Make love to me, Willy," she whispered.
He pressed a quick, gentle kiss to her lips. "I don't think anything could stop me now..." he returned, taking her in his arms and holding her close.
She caught her breath again at the proof of his desire. "Aoww, Willy...." she moaned.
Then he suddenly raised his head. "Nanny? Would you.... would you do something for me?" he asked hesitantly. "It's.... it's something I've dreamed about since the, you know, family picnic..."
"It's silly, really, I suppose, but... well..." he took a deep breath and carefully released her, then turned her in his arms until she was facing away from him, keeping his hands firmly on her hips although he was itching to move them up to cup her breasts. "Now... remember when we were passing the balloon? You bent over to get it from Eloise...."
Tossing a laughing, naughty glance over her shoulder, Nanny put her hands on his to keep herself anchored, and she bent over. Feeling his fingers tighten, she peeked back again and saw desire and longing in his face.
"Then you stretched up to pass it back to me..." Wilkes' voice was strained.
Nanny complied silently, arching her back and stretching her hands up over her head. She heard him catch his breath and his hands slid up her body to pull her closer as she twisted her head back, her hands entangled in his hair, their lips meeting in a passionate kiss. Gradually, stroke by stroke, caress by caress, he turned her in his arms once more, then she was going down onto the bed and he was following her, her eager arms pulling him to her as their heartbeats and breath quickened.
As Wilkes continued his ardent explorations of her body, Nanny lost the ability to think. All she could do was feel, and feel she did as he stroked her, kissed her and teased her with his breath. He spoke to her with his eyes and voiced words she had never heard before. Seductive words, erotic words, carnal words that embarrassed and excited her. Words that made her ache with a need beyond all experience. Along with the words were the wonderful touches and movements that caused the tension inside her to heighten in a whirlwind of escalating pleasure, and Nanny was soon poised at the edge of a high precipice, aching to tumble over but half fearing the drop. Opening her eyes, she sought the reassurance she still hated to need.
Wilkes held her gaze, both fierce and tender at the same time. "Go ahead and fall," he urged her, somehow knowing what she craved. "I'm here to catch you. I will ALWAYS be here to catch you..."
With a small cry, Nanny gave herself up to the intense, swirling, exquisite storm of sensation, aware that Wilkes was with her all the way. Panting and hearts thumping as they lay entwined while trying to recover, Wilkes breathed a ragged set of words that thrilled her. "My love. My life. My Nanny."