The next morning, Alfred announced that he simply HAD to get back to England. With a roguish wink, he said to Wilkes, "You must know 'ow it is, gov'ner. I was just re-thinking last night with Eleanor and all. I ask you! When the ladies start to get ideas in their 'eads that you never put there and don't WANT to 'ave there, and won't allow to GROW from there, SOMETHING 'as to be done!"

Wilkes once more awakened from a restless, not very refreshing sleep, rubbed his eyes and tried to follow Alfred's train of thought. "I... er..."

"I 'aven't told Nan yet, o' course," Alfred continued. "Me only 'aving seen her briefly last night, and not making the decision until the wee hours of the morning... 'earing you in the bloody shower... makes a bloke wonder, gov'ner. I ask you! Showers in the middle of the night? I'm thinking they were cold showers, and I'm wondering what they 'ave to do with my favourite cousin... and just what your attentions are in that matter..."

Struggling to sit up, Wilkes firmed his lips. "Whatever my intentions are with regard to your cousin, Alfred, are between Nanny and myself. I assure you they are honourable."

"Thank you for that, anyway, gov'ner," Alfred said. Leaning forward, he said in a hoarse whisper although the two were alone in the suite, "She was badly 'urt by another fancy bloke long ago, and I won't allow it to 'appen again to 'er. She don't deserve it. I ask you, a sweet woman like my Nan being told she wasn't worthy of 'im? She don't deserve it, I tell you! Is that unreasonable? I put it to you, gov'ner, and I leave it to you!"

Despite knowing he shouldn't, Wilkes couldn't help but murmur, "Badly hurt?"

"'e built 'er up and led her on until she gave in to 'im and gave 'im what 'e wanted," Alfred said confidentially. "Naturally then 'e told 'er she was beneath him, and not to expect a bloody thing, especially marriage. Broke 'er 'eart, 'e did, and no mistake, but not 'er spirit! It was close, though. I never 'eard of Nan even LOOKING at another man since. Made me 'appy to see you kissing 'er on Christmas and 'er not shoving you away!"

"Oh yes... quite. Quite."

"You'll do right by 'er, won't you, gov'ner?"

Wilkes got out of bed, feeling at a great disadvantage, and repeated, "Whatever happens between Nanny and myself is private and personal, Alfred. However, I do assure you that I will do my utmost to not hurt her."

"That's all I ask, gov'ner, all I ask. And by the by, we've been invited over to the other suite for a bite o' breakfast in twenty minutes. I said as 'ow I was sure we could make it, me being ready and you 'aving already 'ad your shower in the middle of the night." Alfred winked again at Wilkes who stifled his groan and went to dress.

O o O o O o

Nanny stared at Alfred in disbelief when he announced he had booked his return ticket for that evening. "You're leaving tonight?" she asked incredulously.

"I am, Nan, my love. I'm 'omesick, you might say. Liza, 'enry and the kids'll be back tomorrow. And now that I've seen for meself that you are fine, it's time to go."

"I'm so glad you came over, Alfred," Kay said graciously. "And that we got to meet you. Nanny, you must stay here tonight instead of coming with Eloise and I to the country." She turned to the men. "We were invited to a house party today until tomorrow, but they'll understand that Nanny had to stay in the city."

"You're sure, Kay?" Nanny asked. "I WOULD like to spend as much time as possible with Alfie while 'e's 'ere."

"I'm sure, Nanny," Kay's hand covered Nanny's for a moment and she smiled warmly at the older woman.

"'ow about you, gov'ner? Can you spend the day with us?" Alfred asked Wilkes.

Kay felt the tremor go through Nanny's body and tightened her grip briefly before releasing the hand she was holding.

"I'm afraid I'm busy until five o'clock," Wilkes said regretfully, "but I would be delighted to join you for supper and the trip to the airport!"

"Do you REALLY have to go, Mr. Doolittle?" Eloise asked. "It has been absolutely divine having Nanny's cousin here!"

"It's time, Eloise, my dear," he said, grinning at her. "You and your mother and Nan need to get back into your routine for the New Year, and you don't need an old drunk like me around all the time."

Eloise jumped up and put her arms around the surprised man's neck. "You're not an old drunk, Mr. Doolittle! You're Nanny's cousin!" Then, as if not to leave Wilkes out, she turned and put her arms around Wilkes as well. "And YOU are the bestest neighbour we have, Sir Wilkes!"

"Thank you, Eloise," Wilkes managed to say, returning her hug briefly. His eyes met Nanny's blue ones as he stood up. "I'd best be going in order to get my business completed in time. Shall I come by here for you and Alfred at five?"

"That... that would be wonderful, Sir Wilkes," Nanny said feebly. "We... we could eat here..."

"No, no, no," Alfred shook his head. "I want to treat you to a meal out... you, Nan, because I love you, and the gov'ner 'ere because I owe it to 'im."

"You don't owe me a thing," Wilkes protested, and inwardly he was thinking that had it not been for Alfred's arrival, he would not have been able to spend so much time in the last few days with Nanny, and he most CERTAINLY would not have had the opportunities to kiss her that he had taken to his advantage in that time! "But there are a number of fine restaurants in the city on the way to the airport..."

"And we'll take advantage of a few of them!" Alfred beamed. He winked exaggeratedly. "And I wouldn't say no to stopping at a pub or two on the way!"

"I'll keep that in mind."

"Ta ta, Sir Wilkes!" Eloise cried shrilly, and he turned to her once more, smiling.

"Ta ta, Eloise."

O o O o O o

The day spent with Alfred following Kay's departure with Eloise mid-morning was one Nanny would long remember. All of their childhood memories were brought out and laughed or cried over, and they talked until they were hoarse. Room service kept their beer cold and topped up from mid afternoon on, and they continued talking. The only topics they did not touch on was Nanny's experience long ago with the lover who had scorned her, nor her relationship with Sir Wilkes now.

Then Wilkes was at their door and it was time to go for supper. Nanny was amazed at how Wilkes managed to fit into the closeness between herself and Alfie. It was as though he was one of them, himself, for Lord's sake! And yet it was obvious he was a gentleman from the top of his bowler to the tips of his toes! He wasn't boisterous or raucous but his quiet humour kept them smiling or laughing in the moments when Alfie was busy bolstering his courage to face the airplane flight ahead. Alfred had confided to Nanny earlier that flying was really for the birds, and had he not wanted to check up on her so badly, he would never have trusted his life to a metal machine. "If the Lord above 'ad wanted us to fly, we'd a been born with wings!" he had declared emphatically. "Just you wait, Nan! Just you wait until YOU are asked to do it more and more...!"

"Aoww, Alfie, I fly with Kay and Eloise all the time," Nanny had chuckled. "I feel safe... You know, some things CAN be done without your ordering and manipulating! Without your pulling it, the tide comes in... without your twirling it, the earth can spin..."

"Well, bein' an ordinary man, who desires nothing more than an ordinary chance, I just KNOW the air-ee-oh-plane won't get off the ground tonight without my fervent prayers and spirit-filled body!" Alfred had retorted.

Although Alfred did not appear to show the amount of liquor he consumed over supper, both Nanny and Wilkes were feeling a little wavery when they finally got up and went out to find a cab to take them to the airport.

"You drink too much," Nanny grumbled to Alfred, her hand clutching Wilkes' arm to steady herself.

"Me? 'ow could you SAY such a thing? I'm an ordinary man, with dreams of derring-do..."

"You?" Nanny chuckled, her good humour restored suddenly.

"Me! I'm just an ordinary man 'oo wants to live exactly as I like, and do precisely what I want..."

"I think you're dreaming, Alfie, love," Nanny informed him, amused at his words. "Dreaming of sitting abso-bloomin'-lutely still, never budging 'till spring creeps over the windowsill..."

"Do you still dream, Nan?" Alfred asked seriously.

"Aoww, for sure, sure, sure, Alfie, I do!" Nanny's eyes seemed unfocussed to Wilkes as he watched her closely. She spoke softly, in almost a singsong voice, recalling words she had known since she had been very, very, very young. "Someone's 'ead restin' on my knee, warm and tender as 'e can be, 'oo takes good care of me... Aoww, wouldn't it be loverly?"

"And you, gov'ner? This isn't like you to be sittin' in a place like this with the likes of US! Do you 'ave dreams?" Alfred turned to Wilkes.

"Doesn't everyone, Alfred?" Wilkes looked around and noticed people staring at the three of them curiously, and he smiled faintly, knowing he had never before been uncaring of strangers' curiosity the way he was tonight. "People stop and stare, but they don't bother me for there's no where else on earth that I would rather be. Let the time go by, I won't care..."

"You did it, gov'ner, you did it! I doubted you'd do it, but now I must admit it that succeed you did!"

"What ARE you babbling about, Alfie?" Nanny asked almost impatiently. "And where is the bloody cab? We'd best be going or you'll miss your plane!"

Wilkes almost fell over in his surprise at Nanny's words, and laughter welled up inside him. He was MUCH more inhibited most of the time, but the amount of drink he had consumed tonight had mellowed him to the point that he was finding almost everything amusing. The cab arrived, and he handed Nanny in to the back seat where she sat between the two men.

When they were saying goodbye to him at the airport, Alfred said, "Jolly spot, this, Willy! I should visit 'ere more often!"

"Please don't, and say you did," Nanny said under her breath.

Wilkes muffled his snort of amusement, and his brown eyes twinkled into hers before he shook Alfred's hand heartily. "I must admit, I never thought I'd say this, but I'll miss you, Alfred. I've grown rather accustomed to your face, to having you bounce into my room at all hours of the day or night to ask where my liquor is kept...."

Alfred roared with laughter. "Well, gov'ner, you'll be 'appy to know I don't feel a need to keep tabs on my cousin any more... I'm sure she's in fine 'ands with you!" and he winked. "But I've gotta ask, gov'ner, why can't a woman be more like a man? Men are so decent, such regular chaps, ready to help you through any mishaps, ready to buck you up whenever you are glum. Why can't a woman be a chum, I ask you?"

Nanny shoved at him, then hugged him tightly. "Bye, Alfie, love, and be good... give my love to Liza and 'enry and the children... and take care of yourself!"

"Bye, Nan. I love you." Alfred's eyes were suspiciously shiny. He glared at Wilkes and said, "Be good to 'er," and then he was gone, swinging jauntily down the hallway.

O o O o O o

Noticing that Nanny was fighting to keep her own tears inside as Alfred disappeared, Wilkes offered her his arm in silence, and they made their way out of the airport, getting into a cab at the door. As the cab approached the Plaza, Wilkes suggested that they go for a short walk in the park since no one was expecting them upstairs, and they already had their coats and boots on.

"I'm a little..." Nanny tried to consider how best to describe the feelings that were flooding her. "I've 'ad more to drink than..."

"So have I. Perhaps we should walk it off..."

"Yes, perhaps we should..." Her laugh was contagious.

"Or," Wilkes continued daringly, "Perhaps we could pop into that little pub just over there, and have another drink to celebrate your cousin's visit..."

Nanny chuckled again. "Or perhaps you mean his leaving? I'd like that, Sir Wilkes."

"And I would like it if you would call me Wilkes, and leave off the title," Wilkes said, leaning forward and speaking to the cab driver.

The cab obligingly stopped for them to get out, and after being paid, the driver grinned at Wilkes. "I hope you and your wife have a happy New Year. You know, when I see a couple as much in love as the two of you, it always makes me wish I had married so I could be like you." Then he was gone, leaving the two staring after him somewhat foolishly.

After a moment, Wilkes held out his arm for Nanny to take and they made their way in to the crowded pub where they drank a warm, alcoholic apple cider that made them both feel as if they were wrapped securely in a fuzzy blanket. When they had finished their drinks, Nanny clutched Wilkes' arm as they walked across the street and down the path into the park. It was a beautiful night, with the Christmas lights from the surrounding buildings dancing over the snow. Nanny leaned on him as they walked, thinking he was so solid to hang on to and so sure of himself. Her body tightened in anticipation of what she hoped might come about later. Finding themselves in a secluded area, Wilkes stopped walking suddenly and, freeing his arm from her grasp, cupped her face with his warm hands.

"Do you feel what I am feeling?" he asked abruptly, his eyes on her lips.

"I... I suppose I do..." she said faintly, and she slowly swayed closer to him. There was a nice little kick of heat simmering between them, but Nanny wanted to start a fire.

"I grew accustomed to Alfred's presence, but even more to yours in my suite... and in my arms..." he murmured, his hands sliding down to her shoulders.

Their lips met in a chaste kiss, then another, then another. Then she was in his arms and his hands were slipping under her unbuttoned coat to draw her still closer. Her hands burrowed beneath his coat, too, and their bodies met and shared the warmth generated by their proximity. His kisses were intoxicating. It was the best night of her life, she decided, her head spinning.

"Nanny, I want..." He broke off, realizing what he was about to say and thinking she was too much of a lady to embarrass her so. Besides, the last thing in the world he wanted to do was to remind her of the other man who had used her and so cruelly tossed her aside.

"So do I, Willy, so do I..." she said huskily.

They kissed again, his hands pressing her against him until neither could stand the ache. She felt his leaping response against her, an incredible sign that his blood had surged quickly in reaction to her closeness. It gave her a sense of feminine power that her body was exciting to him, for all the extra pounds age had added. The skin of his jaw rasped her face as he deepened the kiss with an urgency that thrilled her. She felt her lips swelling beneath the demanding pressure of his and her whole body quivered with longing to feel more and more of his touch. The sound of his deep groan rumbling in his throat signalled that she was having much the same effect on him as he was on her. She whimpered softly as her body exploded with desire.

"Are you hungry?" he asked hoarsely.

"Not for food," Nanny said boldly, and undulated her hips against him once more.

He kissed her again, branding her with a swift, hard kiss before releasing her. Nanny swayed a little on her feet, feeling disoriented and unfocussed.

"Come, Nanny," Wilkes said, his voice sounding deep and gravelly. He wasn't too clear on what was happening, not being used to doing much drinking. The drinks had gone down way too easily that evening. All he knew for sure now was that he wanted to get Nanny someplace where he could kiss her with no one around, so no one could see them. His head was spinning, and he kept hearing the cab driver's voice in his head, repeating, 'you and your wife'. Wilkes pondered that, and it fit so well with his desires that suddenly it seemed quite clear to him that he HAD married Nanny, just as he had wanted for a while now. He didn't remember ever seeing her so happy as she was now, patting his arm lovingly and her face glowing as she rubbed it against his shoulder. She blinked at him curiously as if she might be seeing three of him, or perhaps she was just trying to figure out why he was taking so long to get them somewhere private. His steps quickened.

Nanny racked her brain for something to say, but for the life of her couldn't think of a single thing. She dazedly hurried with him back through the park, across to the street and into the Plaza. Thankful that Max was off duty, they went up alone in the elevator, taking the opportunity to kiss and touch some more. On the sixteenth floor, they almost fell out of the elevator and hurried right past Nanny's door to Wilkes' suite, their bodies humming with desire and certainty.

Once inside, Wilkes locked the door and dropped his coat on the floor, toeing off his boots at the same time. Nanny did the same, somewhat more awkwardly, as they never let the other go.

"I can't think straight when you kiss me," Wilkes tried to shake his head to clear it, but it was no use.

"Why are you thinking at a time like this?" she replied, her lips on his again.

"Nanny, Nanny, oh, Nan, I WANT you..." Wilkes panted as he covered her face with kisses, and held her close. "I've been imagining what it would be like to..."

"Willy, I..." Her voice failed her.

"Tell me you don't want to make love with me," he added, pressing a kiss to the side of her neck. "Tell me, and I'll let you go right now."

How could she even think straight, let alone speak intelligently with his tongue rasping along the sensitive skin around her ear? She wasn't thinking straight, she realized in a warm, fuzzy, thoroughly distracted way. Part of her knew she was behaving in a highly improper manner, but the other part recognized that she was where she belonged, here in his arms. She should be nervous, she should not allow him to continue, she should not have enticed him... yet she had never felt so sure of anything nor so at peace in her entire life. "Willy, please, please, please..."

"Do you want me to stop?" he asked, hoping she would say no.... suspecting she would say no... SURE she would say no! After all, what wife would NOT say 'no, don't stop' to a loving, beloved husband such as himself? The cab driver had SAID they were a couple... the man had SAID that Nanny was Wilkes' wife... hadn't he? So even if Wilkes couldn't exactly remember the wedding, it must have happened. Nanny moved against him enticingly again, and Wilkes forgot everything but how much he loved the woman in his arms.

Entwined together, they stumbled into the bedroom and fell on the bed. He fumbled with the buttons on her blouse and his hand slipped beneath her camisole to caress and stroke the heated skin. She gasped and arched closer to him and, at the resultant shaft of pleasure coursing through her, she began to pulse with a sweet agony that only Wilkes could relieve.

"Please, Willy, please..." she heard herself almost chanting. Her eyes were having a hard time focussing. It was better than any dreams she had ever had... yet all too soon, it seemed, reality intruded even as they continued to kiss. Lying in Wilkes' arms, knowing she must soon return to her own suite before she utterly disgraced herself, Nanny finally whispered against his lips, holding his hands captive against her chest, "I shouldn't be here. It's not RIGHT..."

"You feel right to me..." Wilkes murmured, hugging her a little tighter, his heart thumping madly against her.

"But... but it can't work," she said hesitantly, courageously voicing her doubts. "You have different needs, for Lord's sake! We are from different stations in life..."

"I don't care about stations in life," Wilkes nuzzled her neck, and she lifted her chin to grant him access to her throat. "There's nowhere else on earth that I would rather be than here in your arms. It's a towering feeling just to know somehow you are near. An overpowering feeling, you might say, to have you here... in these rooms where I live."

Still, she had to try to make him see sense! "But..."

Suddenly Wilkes was overpowered by a wave of tiredness that swept everything before it, including his desire to continue this delightful lovemaking. It had to be the drinking. He just wasn't used to having so much alcohol... If Alfred hadn't influenced him so much the last few days, he would be happily loving his beautiful wife, but as it was... Wilkes just couldn't keep his eyes open or his mind focussed any more. "Let's just go to sleep, Nanny," he murmured drowsily, his body heavy beside her. "We'll worry about everything in the morning."

"SLEEP? You think I can sleep now? I couldn't sleep tonight! Not for all the jewels in the crown!" Nanny smiled crookedly at him, her fingers moving languidly over his chest which she had bared in her frenzied arousal earlier.

"Hmmm." He kissed her once more, tucking her close to his side, and surprisingly they both fell asleep almost immediately.

O o O o O o

As the faint beginnings dawn began to creep into the room, Nanny stirred. "Aoww!" she cried in surprise when she realized the warm bulk she was snuggled against moved and grunted. "Aoww, Sir Wilkes... I..." She was horrified that she had actually spent the entire night in his bed. She had obviously had much too much to drink last night! Struggling to free herself from his embrace, she tried to sort through her fuzzy memories. They hadn't really done anything but, well, kiss... and cuddle... had they? "Oh my LORD..."

"Where are you going, Nanny?" Wilkes sounded puzzled, and his hands tightened on her, preventing her from escaping his bed. For all he had heard about 'the morning after', he was suddenly surprisingly wide awake and coherent... and he knew that if he allowed Nanny to leave without insisting she marry him, he would be even WORSE than the blackguard who had hurt her long ago.

"I shouldn't be here..." she moaned, holding her blouse together where it gaped open and struggling to pull her skirt down. At least she wasn't BARE beside him, for Lord's sake!

Wilkes sighed. "Are we back to that again? There are other things I would love to hear repeated. For example, the sighs and loving murmurs you whispered in my ear last night when I nibbled on your neck and earlobe..." He pressed light kisses on her cheeks and jawline and once more nibbled on her ear.

"Ohhh, Willy..." Nanny melted instantly once again, unable to resist his caresses. She struggled to say, "But it's not right. You're above my station... I'm only a nanny and you're a KNIGHT..."

"Nanny, I love you." His words hung in the air and he stopped teasing her with his lips and raised his head, gazing down at her. "I love YOU, not your job, not your station in life... even though they are a part of you that I wouldn't ever wish away. It's... it's what Kay said. You are the other part of me that I've been missing all my life until now. My soulmate... my love. Please, marry me, Nan. Marry me soon. Make me a complete, beloved person, and allow me to do the same for you. We weren't made to live alone, and now that I've found you and experienced this incredible link, I don't want to ever let you go... not even for another night. I... I don't remember much about last night, so if I hurt you, I'm dreadfully sorry. The last thing I wanted was to take advantage of you. But Nanny, please, I need you here, in my bed, in my arms, in my heart, now and always. Please, Nanny... Marry me."

Nanny could hardly believe her ears, or the evidence of his very real desire for her burgeoning once more against her hip. "Oh my Lord, are you sure, sure, sure, Willy? Absolutely?" Her eyes searched his for the slightest hint of indecision, but couldn't find any. All she could see in his dear brown eyes was an overwhelming love that she knew was hers alone... a gift she only needed to accept. And she DID love him, she knew that, however wrong it was. From the moment she had first seen him, he had made her feel things no other man before him had ever made her feel. Yes, in general she was content with her life, and while she didn't really NEED a man to make her feel complete, she most certainly WANTED him... and LOVED him. "W-Willy, I LOVE you! I absolutely do, do, do!"

"Is that a yes? You'll marry me? Today, if possible?"

"Yes, yes, yes!"

"It's just like what Kay said," Wilkes said a short while later.

"What's that, Willy?" Nanny asked dreamily, her head resting on his shoulder.

"If we give our innermost soul to each other, if we SAY what we are thinking instead of keeping it inside, we CAN be whole."

"Hmmm," Nanny agreed. "That is what love is ... a gift of ourselves to the other."

"Tell me you don't want to wait until your cousin can come back before we are married..." Wilkes grinned, his hands beginning to fan the flames of desire burning over her once again. "You WILL marry me today if it can be arranged? I want to love you completely and fully... as my wife."

"Yesssss..." Nanny's breath caught as his lips pressed light kisses over her face and throat. "As... as long as... Eloise and... Kay... ooh, Wilkes... are here... and... ohhhh... agree..." she panted.

He stopped his delightful torture and sat up suddenly, staring down at her. "You won't marry me today unless they agree to it? Nan, I love Eloise dearly, but what if she decides she wants to keep you as her mostly companion, and says she doesn't agree to our marriage?"

"She will agree, Willy, for sure, sure, sure," Nanny soothed him, drawing him back into her arms. "She will agree. Oh my Lord, she absolutely HAS to!"

O o O o O o

When Kay and Eloise returned later that morning, Nanny was nervously pacing the living room of her suite, looking at her watch and twisting the gleaming sapphire and diamond ring on her left hand – Wilkes' mother's engagement ring. Wilkes had gone to get the special licence for their wedding that evening, and Miss Thompson had spent an hour with Nanny making arrangements for the room the marriage would take place in and the subsequent reception. Prunella Stickler had not returned to the Plaza since Christmas Eve and the loss of face she had sustained when Brooks Oliver had turned out to be an imposter and a wanted man. All the other staff of the Plaza had been wild with excitement when the news had leaked out that Nanny and Sir Wilkes were to be married that very evening, and everyone was planning to be on hand. Mr. Peabody had offered to walk the bride down the aisle, but Nanny had refused gently, saying that it really should be Eloise doing the honours.

Kay took one look at Nanny, the gaze encompassing Nanny's left hand and her blue eyes shining with a mixture of fear and happiness, and she sprang at the older woman and clasped her in a tight embrace which Nanny returned wholeheartedly, tears falling from both sets of eyes. Eloise stood stock still in amazed wonder to see her mother and Nanny hugging each other and crying.

"When?" Kay choked out, taking Nanny's hand and examining the ring, then hugging her again.

"'e asked me this morning... and the wedding is to be... tonight..." Nanny said hesitantly.

"Tonight?" Kay stared. "TONIGHT?"

"What wedding? Whose wedding? Bill and Rachel's? STOP IGNORING ME!" Eloise cried. "I absolutely HATE that!"

"'e doesn't want to wait any longer... nor do I, for Lord's sake!" Nanny confessed. "But Kay, I won't if you..."

"Nonsense! And Nanny, I've been keeping a secret from you, too... I told Eloise this morning..."

"We're getting married, Nanny!" Eloise announced loudly, pushing in to stare up at Nanny. "Me and Maman and YOU. And we're moving to Paris!"

"Eloise," both women began, then Nanny stared at Kay. "YOU are getting married?" she asked. "THAT is the news you were keeping from me?"

A small smile trembled around Kay's lips, and she nodded. "It seems love is in the air this Christmas," she said. "I should have known I wasn't fooling you by keeping quiet. I wasn't sure how to tell you... and now I find that all my worry is for nothing."

"So we'll all be happy in Paris together!" Eloise added brightly.

"Errr..." Nanny hated to hurt the child, but...

"Actually, Eloise, I was wrong this morning about one thing," Kay shot Nanny a look as if to say, 'I'll handle it' and she knelt down beside her daughter. "You see, I forgot to think about Nanny's feelings. That's why we have to think of others, and talk to them about our feelings. That's one way we show our love for each other, by telling each other our thoughts. And because I didn't tell Nanny earlier, well, we might have a problem."

"But you won't mind moving, will you, Nanny?" Eloise looked up at Nanny imploringly. "You're my mostly companion! You absolutely HAVE to come to Paris and marry with us!"

"Actually, love," Nanny began.

Again Kay interrupted her, speaking softly to Eloise. "Eloise, you know Nanny has liked Sir Wilkes for a long time, right?"

"Oh YES! It was a secret, but I could see it."

"Well, Sir Wilkes obviously saw it, too, and since he likes her as well...."

"I could see that, too. His breathing doesn't go funny like Nanny's, but he gets red the way she does."

"So," Kay continued, "This morning he TOLD Nanny that he likes her, too, and they are going to get married... tonight."

"TONIGHT? MARRIED? TONIGHT?" Eloise was staggered. "NANNY AND SIR WILKES?"

Just then, a tap came at the door, then Wilkes appeared in the doorway shyly, hesitating when he saw the three huddled together. "I, er..."

Kay got to her feet and came up to Wilkes, holding out both hands. "Sir Wilkes. I'm so happy for you and Nanny..." She took his hands and leaned forward to kiss his cheek. "Thank you for seeing her and loving her..." she whispered in his ear. "She's very dear to me."

"And to me," he whispered back, beaming at the woman he knew Nanny loved as the daughter she had never had.

"Sir Wilkes!" Eloise announced, pulling out of Nanny's arms even as the older woman was trying to hold her back, and marching up to Wilkes. "Do you LOVE Nanny?"

"I do indeed, Eloise. Very much," he replied solemnly.

Looking like she was still trying to catch her breath after the surprise, Eloise finally said, "Then I guess you can marry her... and come to France with us. WE are getting married, too, you know! Maman told me this morning!"

"Err, you are? France??" Wilkes looked from Eloise to Kay and finally his eyes rested on Nanny.

"Eloise, love," Nanny said softly, coming up to Wilkes and taking his arm before reaching for Eloise with her free hand, "We are not moving to France with you. Sir Wilkes and I will live here and in England. But," She stopped Eloise's protests with a finger to the child's lips and smiled, "but when we are in England, we will be close, close, close to France, so we will come to visit you and you will come to visit us, and we will have an absolutely divine time!"

"We will?" Eloise looked interested but still somewhat hesitant.

"We ALL will," Kay said firmly. "And we will ALL be happy!"

"And Eloise," Nanny said, coaxing a reluctant smile out of the little girl, "I want YOU to walk me down the aisle and give me to Sir Wilkes at our wedding."

"ME?" Eloise's eyes grew round.

"For sure, sure, sure. And you can wear your pretty pink dress..."

"Oh, Nanny, I absolutely love you!" and Eloise flung herself into Nanny's arms again. Then she peered around Nanny at Wilkes and asked, "and can I call you Sir Grandpa when you've married Nanny?"

"You may call me anything you like, Eloise," he beamed, patting her head even as he put his arm around Nanny and nodded at Kay. "When my fair Nanny is my wife, I'll be the happiest man alive. Actually, I do believe I am right now!"

O o O o O o

Later that night, after publicly promising to love each other forevermore and their covenant of marriage being duly recognized by the community of their friends and the state of New York, Nanny and Wilkes found themselves alone in Wilkes' suite once more. Slowly, lovingly, they undressed each other, delighting in uncovering the mysteries of the other's body and the exact places that needed special attention. She held him tightly as spasms of pleasure convulsed her body. Oh my Lord, she loved this man and had wanted to be with him like this from the first moment she had seen him. As his hands continued to move over her, she knew that nothing else existed, save this moment. Time had stopped for them to love. Her unhappy past forgotten, she clung to her beloved present...

Staring up at his features afterwards, Nanny knew she had just found the part of her that had always been missing. They had gifted each other with their innermost souls and now at last they were wholly one. "I love you, Willy... my soulmate," she murmured.

"You are my soulmate, too, Nanny..." Wilkes whispered in her ear as he lay half on top of her, breathing heavily from their exertions. "My love... my fair Nanny..."

THE END