Chapter 9 Homespun

At dusk, Martha began to play Moonlight Sonata as Daniel had requested, living room lit by numerous candles. Claymore, wearing the undertaker's suit again, fidgeted before the roaring fire. The captain had cleared away all the furniture except the piano, its bench, plus a chair beside it for Ed, who kept nervously inching it a little closer to her.

The captain, wearing his dress uniform and sword, stood proudly erect, one hand resting on Jonathon's shoulder. Carrying a bouquet of wild flowers and tottering in her first ever high heel shoes, Candy descended the stairs. Carolyn followed, and as she entered the living room, Daniel's warm eyes proudly met hers. When she reached him, he took her hand in his, and reached down and clasped Jonathon's hand in his other. Seeing this, Candy grabbed her mother's hand and wished she'd thought to hold Scruffy too. They all stood before Claymore hand in hand.

At the kiss, Martha and the kids clapped and cheered while Scruffy barked. Carolyn handed the bouquet to Martha and whispered, "Please be sure at your wedding Candy doesn't get the bouquet!" Daniel boomed to a flinching Peavey, "You see how they plot!"

The wedding dinner was, of course, delectable, as Martha had taken full advantage to show off her skill. Claymore seemed determined to show his better side, and even Ed spoke once in awhile. Carolyn didn't eat much, just steadily sipped champagne, trying to converse and laugh rather than stare happily at how handsome Daniel was in his uniform.

She wanted to etch it in her memory. The kids chattered, Martha joked, and the captain took his role as host seriously, trying to include everyone.

After dinner, they all returned to the living room where Daniel switched on the radio to classic. The newly weds glided, Martha and Ed held their own, and even Claymore attempted to dance with a tottering Candy. The captain whispered, "Much more homespun than a cotillion, but much more elegant with you in my arms." They stopped, caught in each other's eyes.

Looking meaningfully at Claymore, Martha cleared her throat and announced it was getting late. Claymore began to object: "The night is young! Oh, I see." He yawned widely.

The party began to break up. Claymore hugged Carolyn, and approached Daniel with open arms. He growled, "I knew there was a reason for hiding my physicality," and suffered a hug, thanking Claymore for performing the ceremony and deeding Gull Cottage to Carolyn as a wedding gift.

Carolyn sipped more champagne, feeling a little like an old fashioned bride nervous about what would follow, although for very different reasons.

Chapter 10 The Monster At the End

All the guests having departed, Daniel lifted Carolyn in his arms whispering, "Finally you shall be beside me on the night watch." She nestled against his chest as he carried her up the stairs. When he set her down in the master cabin, she staggered and he grabbed her arm to steady her.

She giggled, saying "History repeats itself. I may have had a little too much champagne."

He smiled, kissing her, then brushing his lips down to the hollow of her throat while unzipping her dress. She ran her fingers through his hair, murmuring about wild coils of hair, until her fingers snagged in a tangle and she giggled. He stopped, quizzical for a moment, and then said, "Please tell me you're not drunk."

"Maybe a little tipsy. Just enough, just in case something bad happens, which I doubt."

"Ah," he said, nodding his head in understanding. She fumbled with trying to remove his clothing while her dress slipped off. He starred in admiration for a moment then and said, "You're unaccustomed to the fastenings of my era. May I be of assistance?"

"Assist away!" He merely waved his hand and all his clothing disappeared. Her eyes lingered over his long, lean body. She said, "Wait a minute! You cheated!"

"How so?" She stepped out of her dress and kicked her high heels off; they thudded against the floor.

She grinned at him. "It's better if you remove your clothes piece by piece, like a mere mortal."

"I shall inscribe that in my memory. How do I get this blasted rigging off you?"

She took off her bra and sling shot it across the room, then yanked off the rest. She jumped on the bed, laughing. "Carolyn, I believe you are drunk."

"No, but your portrait really doesn't do you justice! You realize it's been awhile for me." He began to laugh and got on the bed beside her. "Daniel, why are you laughing?"

"It's been considerably longer than awhile for me." He held her, hands exploring. "I've been imagining this for so long, so much unspoken between us, so much promise in your eyes, and finally here you are, so beautiful and carefree, like sunlight."

In the morning Carolyn woke, feeling for him beside her, but he wasn't there. There'd been no terrifying transformation in the night, but where was he now? She got out of bed, pulling on a nightgown. He entered the room then with a tray with breakfast, a sunflower, and a children's book on it. "Daniel, thank you! But oh I was so scared for a minute that you had disappeared!" Spring had once again brought unexpected blessings.

He smiled, "I thought a bit more privacy before we made an appearance downstairs would not be amiss."

"What's this book?"

"Carolyn, look at the title."

"The Monster at the End of This Book?"

"It's about an improbable blue creature named Grover who attempts to prevent pages being turned, dreading the monster from the title. At the end, this charming but odd fellow discovers he is the monster in question, and suffers embarrassment from all his previous efforts at prevention."

They locked eyes and burst into wild laughter. "Daniel," she gasped, "when did you begin reading children's stories?"

"Since I don't partake of sleep, I've frequently read in the long watches of the night. Martha had a copy of it to send to her nephew. I intended to bring you a love poem, but . . . ."

She said, "Daniel, this is perfect."