Disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters since the Eloise movies and the characters are the property of Disney and Kay Thompson. I make no money from this work of fiction!
Wilkes, being preoccupied as usual with eying Nanny appreciatively, suddenly became aware that Eloise had said something about sex. His eyes snapped to Nanny's, but the woman was looking at the six-year-old, an indulgent smile on her face. At that point, Wilkes realized the child had probably said 'six', not 'sex'. Strange, but the thought of 'sex' while looking at Nanny sent a jolt through him. There was a definite sensuality about her, something that Wilkes became more aware of every time he saw her. It seemed that tonight, here at the Debutante Ball, he noticed it more than ever before.
His attraction to her was unsettling to say the least. He had never imagined himself being with a woman so, er, ample, but while dancing with her earlier, he hadn't thought about her size, except to notice the voluptuous roundness of her hips or the generous curves of her breasts. Besides, it wasn't as though he didn't have a bit of extra weight himself, although he did not expect he felt as soft and, well, cuddly as Nanny.... Wilkes swallowed and turned back to the dancing just for a moment before dredging up the courage to ask Nanny to dance with him again. After all, he might not get her in his arms again for a while, so this Ball was proving a godsend!
For the second time that evening, Nanny slipped her arm into Wilkes' and allowed him to lead her out onto the dance floor. While time didn't actually stop or a hush fall over the crowd, a few heads DID turn in their direction, and Nanny wondered if, by the next morning, word would be out that the two of them had been seen dancing close.... very close. His hand rested comfortably at the small of her back, allowing no room for space between them. The front of his tuxedo brushed against her breasts, and even with all the layers of clothing between them, it felt.... intimate. Right. Delicious. A shiver of delight ran over her.
"Are you warm enough?" he asked, concerned, gold flecks glinting in his brown eyes as his gaze met hers.
"Aoww, yes, yes, yes... I'm fine, Sir Wilkes!" she exclaimed, flustered.
"I... haven't done much dancing, you know... not for a long time." He hoped that didn't sound dull to her. Perhaps she might think he was dull, although he definitely preferred to think of it as settled. He spoke a little breathlessly, nervousness and the exertion of dancing taking his breath away as much as her proximity. "I find it hard to believe that I have been at the Plaza for a few months now, and we haven't, you know, ever had a chance to, er, visit the way we did this afternoon."
Nanny privately thought that Eloise had had too much to do with this afternoon, and she was annoyed at herself for having allowed the child to see her interest in Sir Wilkes – an interest that had been slowly growing over those few months. She expected that Sir Wilkes hadn't really seen her at all before today, for Lord's sake! It wouldn't be the first time a man had looked right past her, to focus on a prettier, younger and thinner woman like Mrs. Daniels. "I expect you haven't really noticed me."
"Oh, I noticed you." Wilkes emphasized the significantly-spoken words with a slight squeeze and an intense look that sent a tingling sensation clear to her toes. For the first time in decades, his body reacted to a woman's proximity and he hardened to the point of exquisite pain. He might be in his sixties (and he was!) and therefore considered 'long past it' (he was not!); but to his mortification it appeared that nothing was stopping the arousal he was experiencing.
Nanny began to tremble again, feeling his obvious arousal and astonished that it appeared she had been the inadvertent cause. Nanny might be boisterous and high spirited when alone with Eloise (and she tended to be!) yet subdued, timid and adoring when in the vicinity of Sir Wilkes (and she was!), but it had never, never, never occurred to her that he might find her as fascinating as she found him, for Lord's sake!
Then Wilkes said, with a rare burst of courage, "I want to thank you for asking me to dance first earlier tonight, Nanny. I.... I'm usually the one left on the sidelines, not having the courage to, you know, ask a woman who attracts me. I well know that I am not the sort of man with whom, you know, beautiful, vivacious women like to be seen. I'm not, you know, tall, dark, handsome OR young!"
"Aoww, I..." she began, then almost tripped him as she stopped moving and stared at him blankly. "Aoww my Lord, Sir Wilkes, I can't picture any woman not wanting to be seen with you!" Then she suddenly realized what he had said. Could he possibly be hinting that SHE might be beautiful and vivacious? No, no, no, that was out of the question! Wasn't it?
Wilkes smiled deprecatingly as he led her back into the last few steps of the dance. "Oh, I expect a few women don't mind being seen with me as long as everyone around KNOWS that I am a baronet, but I doubt most people here tonight are aware of that fact, nor do they care. I am rather overshadowed by a prince, I understand. Certainly it is the Prince who is in Mrs. Daniels' grasp tonight and I am reprieved, to my unfailing relief. At any rate, I do want to express my gratitude to you, Nanny. You look lovely, and you dance wonderfully." He hesitated only a moment, then added in a rush, "I do wish I had known you years ago."
Nanny gulped in her astonishment. Years ago, she had been an emotional wreck, her heart and her self-esteem badly trampled. It had taken a long time to put herself back together. She wasn't sure that even yet she was strong enough to face all the possibilities, especially the bad ones, of pursuing this attraction between them any further. She said nothing, and only cast her gaze down so she wouldn't have to look into those knowing eyes.
When the music stopped, they returned to the refreshment table and lingered there sampling the dainties, the conversation momentarily stalled but neither eager to move away. Nanny wanted to ask him more about his time before coming to the Plaza, but feared this would only lead to questions she did not care to answer about her own past. Then Wilkes himself sheepishly offered, "You know, Nanny, I'm not a very good conversationalist... especially small talk with women. In fact," he confided, "most women intimidate me."
Nanny was glad she had just swallowed her sip of punch, or she might have embarrassed herself by snorting the liquid out her nose! "Intimidate YOU?" Sir Wilkes was definitely NOT the type of person she had ever envisioned being intimidated by a woman... except perhaps a woman like Mrs. Daniels who was more than half barracuda.
"All men are intimidated at one time or another in their lives... but you are, well, you know, so warm and friendly and... and..." His voice trailed away. He couldn't say what he was really thinking right now; that she was voluptuous, alluring and sensual and that he was very much drawn to her.
Turning red, Nanny cut him off by desperately saying, "Would you care to dance again, Sir Wilkes?"
Thanking God for the excuse to change the subject, not to mention the opportunity to take this woman in his arms once more, he agreed promptly and they started dancing. Recognizing the song as one from the Broadway musical the King and I, Wilkes asked Nanny if she had seen the play.
"Naoww, I never 'ad the chance," Nanny admitted. "Although I must say, it DID interest me. The movie, also starring Yul Brynner, is to come out the end of June. Perhaps I'll see that. Did you see the Broadway show?"
"Regretfully no. I had tickets for the day it was cancelled... you know, the day of Gertrude Lawrence's funeral in September of 1952. Unfortunately, I was leaving for England the following day, so was not able to see it after that, and, well, I just, you know, never made the effort after I returned to New York City a few months ago. I know some of the music, however. Er, Nanny, would you consider, you know, going with me... to see the film... in June?"
Nanny stared at him. Was he asking her out on a date? To a movie? Surely not!
Then Wilkes was speaking quickly again, "With Eloise, of course! She should enjoy it, don't you think?"
"Aww, for sure she would," Nanny agreed.
"It's a date then," Wilkes said, with satisfaction, and twirled Nanny around in the dance before saying a little anxiously, "Well, you know, not really a date date as such, because of Eloise, but..." He stopped talking, a little embarrassed, and just then the band started playing "Shall We Dance?" while the lead singer sang the words.
Nanny listened dreamily as they danced, this was one of her favourite songs from the musical. Then she felt the tremor going through Wilkes' body at the words, "When the last little stars have left the sky, shall we still be together with our arms around each other, and shall you be my new romance?" Her face instantly flushed, her body felt as if she had been doused in boiling water, and she avoided his eyes, wondering despairingly why a hot flash had to hit now when she had thought she was long past that age! She refused to even consider that it could have been a sexual flash!
Wilkes cleared his throat then said daringly, "Appropriate words for a Debutante Ball, don't you think?"
"Aoww, for sure, sure, sure..." she mumbled. Much though she had enjoyed most of the evening, enough was enough, Nanny decided. "If you'll excuse me, Sir Wilkes, I do, do, do think I 'ad better go... I don't see Eloise around and I should be keeping an eye on her... She might 'ave gone up to our suite. I'll check there first."
"Oh," Wilkes said, obviously disappointed. "Well, certainly, Nanny. I'll, er, I'll walk up with you." He held out his arm for her to take, but she had already turned away determinedly and he had to scurry to catch up with her.
When they got upstairs, Wilkes pointed at the sign on the door of Nanny's suite. Nanny laughed and, without thinking, put her hand on his arm despite her inner vow not to touch him again.
His muscles tensed beneath her fingers and Wilkes turned towards her, covering her hand with his. "I love to hear you laugh," he said.
Her chuckles caught in her throat. She froze, mesmerized by the intensity of his gaze. She wanted to tell him that laughing came easily to her, but it didn't; not when he was around! She wanted to mumble that it was always tempting to let down her guard with him in spite of all her insecurities, but she didn't dare.
Then he was speaking again. "There is something I have been wanting to do all evening, Nanny."
"This." He leaner closer and his lips touched hers, warm and firm.
Nanny gave a small gasp of surprise, but made no move to pull away, much to his great relief. In fact, she leaned towards Wilkes and put one hand on his shoulder as if to steady herself. That, or to keep him from leaving. He hoped fervently it wasn't to push him away. He deepened the kiss a trifle awkwardly, and with a sigh she relaxed into his caress.
Her eyes closed and every sense focussed on the feel of his mouth against hers. He kissed with the intensity of a man determined to savour every sensation, his mouth moving gently against hers. He deepened the kiss and she felt his heat flowing into her. Both heard a muffled moan of delight, although they weren't sure who uttered it. It didn't matter. They both felt it! She kneaded the hard muscle of his shoulder, as if clinging to him allowed her to hold onto some semblance of control. Still, she had been in control and alone in many ways for so many years now. The idea of abandoning herself to this heady mixture of lust and longing tempted her mightily.
Then he drew back. Nanny opened her eyes and found him watching her, like a man who was trying to decide whether or not he had made a mistake. "What?" she asked, amazed her voice sounded slightly better than the croaking of a frog. "Why are you looking at me that way, for Lord's sake?"
"I'm waiting to see if you're going to slap me." He wasn't sure what had prompted him to tell the truth, but he had. The first and last time he had kissed a woman, long ago, he had indeed been slapped. The incident had set him back emotionally for years.
His answer was so unexpected that Nanny had to choke back a laugh. Then, with a shy smile, she murmured, "If you thought I might slap you, why did you kiss me?"
"Some things are worth the risk."
"My stars, stars, stars..." Nanny said rawther blankly. "So you think kissing me was worth taking a chance?"
"Most assuredly. Don't you? Think that kiss was worth taking a chance, I mean?"
Nanny wet her lips, which still felt hot and sensitive. "Yes, I do, do, do. And I rawther think I won't be slapping you either."
"Then perhaps we should try again." Wilkes leaned toward her once more, but the sound of a door opening and loud voices coming down the hallway made them freeze then draw apart guiltily.
The small group of people passing them paid no attention to the silent older couple, but Wilkes was acutely aware of the woman beside him. He noted her flushed cheeks and slightly swollen lips and wondered if anyone else would notice it. And what did his own face show, in spite of his struggles not to betray his emotions? The kiss had affected him more than he had ever expected. As soon as their lips had touched, he had felt Nanny tremble. Such vulnerability in a woman who generally seemed so strong and self-assured surprised and touched him. He had started to pull away, then she had leaned into him and her lips had parted for his. He had felt her yearning and had answered it with a desire of his own. The heat of that moment burned through him still. The interruption could not have been more ill-timed. It should have mattered that they had been kissing in a public area, where anyone might interrupt them.... but it hadn't then and it still didn't now. Not to him. Nor to her, he suspected and hoped.
After the others had got on the elevator leaving them once again alone, Wilkes gathered all his courage and softly sang, "When the last little stars have left the sky, shall we still be together with our arms around each other, and shall you be my new romance?"
She smiled and allowed him to draw her close once more, his lips touching hers softly. It was a light brush of a kiss, but she felt it everywhere. That so little could move her so much would have been terrifying if she had been able to think of anything except the flush of heat, the shiver of excitement, the coursing of a need for more that could become all-consuming should she allow it free rein.
Wilkes increased the pressure on her lips and Nanny threw caution to the wind as she opened her mouth to him, allowing him to take the kiss deeper and more intimate. A wild hunger for more unfurled deep inside her and Nanny tightened her arms around him, her hands gripping him tightly. She nipped gently on his bottom lip and he went a little crazy. Wilkes was rock-hard against her, his heart beating as thunderously as hers. She didn't know how long the kiss lasted. It could have been hours for all the awareness she had of time passing. She only knew that in his arms, she felt young and desirable, a very heady combination. They might have stayed there all night but eventually a little spark of consciousness filtered through the hunger. This was dangerous. They were right outside Nanny's suite and Eloise could come out any moment and discover them in a heated embrace.
Not sure how she managed to summon the energy and sheer strength of will to act, Nanny finally pulled her hands away from their place behind his neck and she stepped back enough to allow room for her lungs to take in a full breath. She stared at Wilkes, feeling raw and off balance, her thoughts a wild snarl in her head that she couldn't untangle. His own expression was a study of confusion. She hoped he wasn't wondering he had seen in her to kiss her in the first place. She also hoped he didn't think her too wanton.
An awkward silence seethed around them, replacing the seductive attraction with something taut and clumsy. Nanny struggled for something to say, but couldn't think of anything. Finally she simply murmured her goodnights and vanished inside her suite, alternating between silently berating herself for being a coward and congratulating herself for acting poised and sophisticated and classy while he had been kissing her at least. The inability to fix her feelings in one direction rawther infuriated her. She was not usually an indecisive person. She never had trouble choosing a course of action and following it. She was a strong, mature, sensible woman. Then Sir Wilkes had walked into her life, and every insecurity and every weakness she had thought she'd long since outgrown had come welling up again.
He had caught her by surprise tonight in the hallway. When his lips had first touched hers, she had thought perhaps she was hallucinating or had had too, too, too much to drink. But no, he had really been kissing her, hot, luxurious kisses that had touched every part of her. "Oh my Lord," she breathed when she was in her own bedroom at last, leaning against her closed door as she touched her slightly swollen lips with trembling fingers. "Oh my LORD!" Sir Wilkes made her feel giddy and vulnerable and not at all like herself... he made her feel like a young and silly adolescent!
If only it could be true, and he WOULD be her 'new romance'! Nanny knew she shouldn't get her hopes up, but it was no use, and when she went to bed that night, her dreams were filled with all sorts of impossible hopes. But then, impossible things happen every day!
The End.... although just the beginning of their romance! But it IS the end of this story!