Please note: multiple chapters posted in one day - please refer to notes at beginning of Chapter 6 before reading...
They spent a languorous couple of hours tangled in each other, and the bedding, as they talked and laughed about absolutely nothing of importance. Eventually, and regretfully, she suggested that they ought to think about getting up, as Mr Butler would be home mid-afternoon, and the girls by dinnertime.
He found it a little strange standing in the shower, scrubbing himself with soap while she splashed in the enormous green bathtub a few feet away. Of course he washed himself in the presence of other men all the time – at the station, after football and cricket, and all during his army service – but he had only been a boy the last time someone female had been present during his ablutions. He wasn't entirely sure how he felt about it, but he supposed he could get used to it; and helping Phryne out of the tub and into a huge, fluffy towel was definitely something that he would be happy to do at any time.
By the time that he had located and assumed his own underwear and trousers she was already in her underwear and stockings and applying her makeup (no lipstick though, as she pointed out that she had plenty more kisses planned for him before the others arrived home). He found himself a little disappointed that he had missed watching her, then gave himself an internal eye-roll; it wasn't like he wasn't going to get another opportunity!
He *did* sit on the side of the bed and watch her buckle her shoes, and put on a pretty afternoon dress. After she had hooked complementary earrings in place, and slid a bracelet onto her wrist, she came and stood before him, and he realised that he had halted at some stage before buttoning his shirt.
She kissed him between each button, leaving the top two undone, and then knelt down to help him into his shoes, and tie them, before standing again and pulling him up with her. She tucked his shirt in as if he were a boy, smoothed his front, and pulled his braces into place; and he marvelled at the fact that he was here, with her, and that she was doing these things for him.
His tie and waistcoat she picked up, and she gave him an affectionate look that said 'Jack, really?' before taking his hand and pulling him into the bedroom that she had had made up for him, before… well, before she had realised that he wouldn't be needing it.
She rifled through his drawers and produced the same woollen vest that he had worn when he had been 'Archibald Jones of the dulcet tones'. He raised an eyebrow at her and she confessed that she really rather liked it on him. After she had tugged it firmly down around him, she made to roll up his shirtsleeves, and he began to protest, but she cut him off.
"Jack… Were you planning on going out anywhere today?"
"Mmm. Are you cold?"
"I didn't think so…" She gave him a slightly serious look, and squeezed his hand. "This is your *home* now… And a man is perfectly entitled to walk around in his own home, in a vest, *with* rolled sleeves and *without* a tie…"
He tilted his head sideways in an 'I suppose so' sort of acknowledgement, and she pressed up on her toes to kiss him gently. "I know that it's going to take a little getting used to… but *you* are now the master of this house…" her eyes twinkled, "and although it's probably fair to say that you're going to have to suffer through *joint* authority..." she leaned in and whispered, conspiratorially, "you can do whatever you like within these walls!"
He pondered that as he followed her down the stairs. He *was* going to have to get used to the fact that he was no longer a guest here, but she was already making him feel at ease, and it did feel rather nice.
They were chatting in the kitchen, each wielding a knife (Phryne's covered with butter, Jack's poised above the cold lamb he was carving), when they were both startled by a rap on the glass and the handle turning in the kitchen door – Mac. She put her hands up in surrender as she passed over the threshold, "I'm unarmed!" and there were chuckles all around.
"Well…" she sipped tea, and eyed the ring on Phryne's finger, "isn't this a picture of matrimonial harmony?... I came by to see that everything had worked out…"
Phryne grinned. "As you see, although there was a bit of stormy weather, I wasn't actually struck down by lightning in church…
Her friend grinned back at her.
"…And, things have turned out… exceptionally well…" Phryne's tone left Mac in no doubt of what she was referring to, and Jack tried to fight the blush that was spreading rapidly out towards his ears.
"Is that so?" Mac gave him a salacious grin "Well done, Inspector…"
Jack gave up the fight.
"Mac," Phryne adopted a mock stern expression and waved the butter knife at her friend, "don't tease my husband… Also," she said with a mouth full of lamb that she had just stolen from Jack's board, "as *you* are one of my dearest friends, and *he* is my dearest husband… you probably ought to call him Jack…" She tilted her head towards him, "If that is alright with you, of course…"
He had no objection, and thus it was agreed that from now 'Inspector' and 'Doctor' would be replaced by 'Jack' and 'Mac'. He did have one thing to say about her comment, though. "If I'm your *dearest* husband… where are you keeping the others?"
She had thrown a tea-towel at him, and that had set the tone for the rest of the afternoon; much to the bemusement of Mr Butler, who walked in upon a scene he had never envisaged – his mistress and new master engaging in some sort of war involving kitchen linens, whilst Doctor MacMillan hoed into tea and a pile of sandwiches that Mrs Fisher-Robinson had apparently made herself.
Wonders never ceased; but he was very pleased indeed to see the Mr and Mrs in such spirits after yesterday's gloom. His suspicions that things had been 'resolved' between them were confirmed by the state of the bedrooms; one immaculate, and presumably unslept in, the other looking like a willy-willy had passed through it, pillows and covers strewn, a pile of the Inspector's clothing and effects thrown on the floor. Further confirmed when he stepped into the upstairs parlour – if the empty Champagne bottle and rearranged furniture hadn't told the story, it certainly would have been betrayed when, upon bending to recover what appeared to be a ribbon wrapped around a leg of the settee, he found himself holding a satin nightgown.
He grinned to himself. With those two in harmony, he'd like to see 'the Welfare' try and take Jane from them, just for the sport of it.
Yes, things were certainly looking up in the Fisher household…
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