This story is in memory of all other stories my sister and I have written for each other, and all the stories that are recently going through my head that I haven't written yet.
Thank you so much to all my reviewers! I am so amazed and thankful, and I don't know what to say! You are so encouraging, and I am sorry for keeping you waiting. I hope this chapter is satisfactory!
What Gentlemen Are Made Of
James could hardly concentrate on writing his article. His mind was too preoccupied thinking about the woman he had brought home two days ago, the woman who had turned out to be the last person in the world he expected to see: His old friend Sarah Phillips. It was unbelievable. After all these years, she was finally thrown back into his life by way of a spooked horse and a near death experience. He was still trying to work it all out in his head. And the most distracting thing of all was how incredibly beautiful she had become.
Sarah was definitely a one-of-a-kind girl. James had always used to think she was rather annoying, and would find every little thing about her that he could and critique it. Her nose was too round. Her smile was too wide. Her teeth were too perfect. Her hair was too red. But really, it was all an attempt not to admit that he thought she was pretty. And now that she was older….all of the things that he used to find annoying only made him fall head over heels for her. Her face was finely defined, and carried the most lady-like appearance that he had seen on any woman as of yet. Her eyes, a dazzling green, shined with a brightness to rival the sun. Her hair had turned darker, an auburn red that looked like the warmth of autumn wrapped up in the folds of her hair. Her neck was long and slender, more graceful than anyone else's. And she carried herself with such poise and grace…even when she was unconscious she had been the most beautiful creature James had ever seen.
Oh who was he fooling? He was not going to finish his article while thinking about Sarah this way. He sighed, set the pen aside, and placed a hand over his eyes. It had been another long day…like usual. And Henri would be back soon. Wouldn't he be excited to know that the woman was Sarah? He'd be thrilled to death! And of course, the teasing would never end. Oh James! You rescued Sarah from death with the Kiss of Life! It's meant to be! James snorted at the thought of all Henri would probably find to tease him about. Didn't that kid ever let up? It was like the teasing would never end!
"Your article is not even half way finished," came the distinctly female voice of Sarah Phillips by James' shoulder. "James, James, James. You must stay on top of things to be a good Editor!"
James started at the sound of her voice, and turned his head to give her an annoyed look. "Well if you didn't distract me then I'd be able to write it," he retorted gently. After a second or two, a smirk sneaked onto his face. Sarah was not any different than she had been before. She was mature, like a lady, but she had always been that way. And she still seemed to carry that determined spirit that made her impossible at times.
Sarah placed her hands on her hips, arching one of her graceful eyebrows. "Really?" she questioned doubtfully. "I only just came over a few seconds ago. I couldn't have been distracting you."
"I disagree," James answered with a grin. He stood up and sighed, then smirked down at her. He was a good half-a-head taller than she was now, and it felt kind of nice. "Just having you come back is the most distracting thing of all. We really missed you. I really missed you." He stood there awkwardly, realizing that he was being more open than he wanted to, and then quickly sat back down and took up his pen. "Anyway, stop being so distracting, and I might get this written."
"I see." Sarah did not remove her hands from her hips, but a triumphant smirk fixed itself on her face. She seemed to be quite pleased with herself for being 'distracting', as James put it, and for a moment she only stood there in silence. But after that moment, she did one of the many things that James found oddly annoying. She decided to be useful. "James, James, James," she scolded playfully. "You have several articles that need to get written, and only one of them is barely beginning to get written. Give me a few so I can help you out. You need more than one reporter!"
"You?" James chuckled. "Sarah, I realize that you used to be a better reporter than I was, several years back. But that has changed. You went off to live in the West with your family and became an American Woman. I, on the other hand, spent the entire time becoming a master Journalist and Editor. I am quite capable of handling a few news articles." He gave her a slight smirk. "But I thank you for your offer anyway."
"How dare you," Sarah exclaimed. She whacked the side of his head with her hand. "I'll have you know that I was a Journalist in Ohio as well! Besides, you don't have enough time to write all of them."
"I only have to write three. And they are mostly written already. I'm just editing them."
"Then I will help you!"
"Sarah please! Do you HAVE to be so bossy?" James sighed and turned around in his chair to face her. "I am the EDITOR! I run this newspaper! I have three simple articles that I would like to fix. ME. If I needed anything to get written, don't you think I'd ASK you?" A frown accompanied his annoyed look, and he glared at her as defiantly as he dared.
Sarah was not put off by his behavior. In fact, it seemed to him that she expected it. "Always trying to do everything by yourself, aren't you?" she scolded, waving her hand dismissively. "Very well, James, have it your way. I was only trying to help. In the meantime, I suppose I'll do some straightening around here." She glanced about her disapprovingly. "I don't know how you could have gotten by for so long."
James gripped his pen, furiously continuing in his writing. He was no longer having fun teasing her, he was simply annoyed. Who did she think she was, coming in and telling him that he couldn't keep his own house or newspaper? He was a man now! And he wasn't incapable! Not in the least!
But Sarah ignored him. If she knew that she was causing him to grow upset, she either concealed it very well, or simply did not care. It seemed of the two of them, she was the one who had changed the least. She began to straighten things, moving things back to where they were "supposed" to go, and finding a place for whatever didn't have one. To be perfectly honest, she knew what she was doing, and it was helpful work. James had been meaning to get around to doing stuff like that for forever. But there always seemed something to do, and he never got around to doing it. So to have Sarah do it…
James let out and small sigh, and slowed down his scribbling. He went back and edited the last ten sentences, since they were not very good, trying not to stay angry at Sarah. She actually WAS helping, even if she was trying to be annoying in the process. She was just trying to prove she was smarter, or better, or whatever useless thing she was trying to prove. How hard could it be for him to just ignore her little games and let it go? It couldn't be that hard, could it?
"I can see why it is so hard for you to write that article," Sarah interrupted, shaking her head pityingly. "It's so disorganized here, it's no wonder you're scatter-brained!"
James hissed out a sigh. Okay, so it would be really hard to just let it go. But he was determined. This time, he'd prove to Sarah that he had grown up, and that he was a gentleman. After all…she was the one he'd worked so hard to impress…He stifled that thought before it could manifest, set aside his pen, and turned in his chair to look at her. "Hey," he said, attempting to sound nonchalant. "Uh…thanks. I've been meaning to do all that…just haven't gotten around to it yet." He paused and cleared his throat. "So…yeah. Thanks." He turned back and kept writing, focusing intently on his words and nothing else.
Sarah, behind him, stopped working for a moment in surprise, before exclaiming, "Well, you have become quite civilized now, haven't you?"
James ignored her, focusing on using accurate words in the article instead of being annoyed at the implication that he was uncivilized. The very idea…
Sarah stopped working again, still and silent for a moment, but then she stepped closer and laid a hand on his shoulder. "I am very grateful to you," she said gently. "I mean that in the most respectful way possible. I only wish I could be of some help to you, really. I'm not trying to be cruel. It's just been so long since we've seen each other, and it's hard to know how to connect how we were then to how we are now."
James turned, his own annoyance softened by her word, and smiled up at her. "Yes," he agreed, "it is weird, isn't it?" Chuckling, he left his article for the moment and turned around to face her better. "But really, you don't have to feel like you need to do anything. You're a guest here! It's not normally like this—this messy I mean—it's just been a crazy week."
"Indeed," Sarah agreed. "But please, James, I need to feel useful somehow!"
He shrugged. "Well, if you insist. I appreciate it."
Something in Sarah's eyes made him pause and stare at her, and he wondered if they'd suddenly become so glassy because she was tired, or if she was feeling emotional. Either way, it made him feel awkward. "I suppose I should let you finish," she stated, turning back and sorting through things in the room again.
James nodded, and turned back to his article, his mind whirling with thoughts unspoken. He may end up needing her to proof read these articles after all.
"'Ello James, I am back!" Henri called playfully, sweeping into the Gazette and slamming the door shut.
James sighed, leaning back in his chair and stretching his arms. The loud noises startled him, and finding that he had finished his articles and was simply sitting uselessly in his chair, he stood up and smiled. "Hello," he said as an afterthought.
Henri stepped forward, peering at him suspiciously. He was taller than James now, his dark hair always an unruly mess, and so peering in James' face meant leaning down and making him feel like a mouse under Henri's tall figure. "Something's happened," Henri smirked. "Tell me what it is, James, or I will beat it out of you!"
"Beat it?" James pulled back, shoving the young French-American youth away from him. "You fool! I'd have told you already if you hadn't threatened me!"
"So tell already!" Henri shoved back. "Come on, James! Was it Annabelle again? Did she force you into agreeing to courtship? Eh?"
"Stop it!" James yelled. "Quit making assumptions!" He froze, then lowered his voice. "We have a guest, Henri. A Lady. She's to stay here at the Gazette."
"What?" Henri blurted. He looked up at the ceiling sharply, and then back down at James in alarm. "You can't be serious? Why would you…" he lowered his voice to a whisper. "Why on earth?"
James smirked, finding himself growing amused. "Why? Because, young fool, I rescued her from drowning, and she has nowhere else to stay."
"No!" Henri groaned, slapping a hand to his forehead. "James, you didn't! Do you have to be so darned gentlemanly? Do you have to win the heart of every lady in town?"
"What?" James blurted, shoving Henri again. "What are you talking about? You idiot! As if that ever crossed my mind! You're the one who spends all day flirting and…"
"Quiet, James!" Henri shushed him. "The Lady!"
James rolled his eyes. "She expects it, I'd imagine."
"Expects it? What are you talking about!?"
Here James paused, and shook his head with a sigh. "Ah, yes. How foolish of me." He looked up, eyes twinkling with mischief. "Henri, the guest of ours is none other than…"
"Henri!" Came Sarah's voice from the top of the stairs, and gliding swiftly down them, she swept toward him and grabbing his hands. "Oh it is you! Look how you have grown!"
It took Henri much shorter than it took James to realize who she was, and with a cry of joy, he lifted her into the air and swung her around, before setting her down and embracing her. "SARAH!" he cried, elated. "I thought I'd never see you again!"
"My goodness!" Sarah declared, laughing and pulling back. She patted him on the cheek. "You little rascal! Although I can hardly call you little anymore, can I? How long has it been?"
"Years," Henri grinned. "James rescued you from drowning, did he? Has he got your heart swept away too?"
"Too?" Sarah asked, raising an eyebrow. She turned to smirk at James. "Whatever does he mean?"
James fought against a blush, and tried to disguise his discomfort by elbowing Henri in the ribs. "He's being impish. Never mind him." He grabbed his articles from the table and turned back to the two of them. "We've got to get this newspaper printed for tomorrow, Henri. Sarah, if you can still remember how it works, we could use the help."
"Putting her to work?" Henri shook his head. "Tsk, tsk, James! How rude."
"You know she'd insist on it anyway," James rolled his eyes. He thought he saw Sarah's face brighten for a minute.
"Yes, thank you, James," she said, putting on the attitude of stubbornness. "Let's get this newspaper printed."
They hurried to the press to begin their work, tying their sleeves above their elbows and slipping aprons over their clothes. It seemed much faster with three people, and as conversation flowed between them about the old days and what happened after, James looked on with a smile. He hadn't realized just how much he'd missed Sarah Phillips. But it was…nice…to finally have her back home.
Home? He thought, smiling sarcastically to himself. That's a little forward. But the feeling stuck, and he let it stay. Yes, it was nice to finally have her home.
Thank you for reading! So sorry it took so long. Please let me know what you think. Have a great week, you all!