A/N: Well, it's a miracle. For those who don't follow me on tumblr (ladonnaingenua), it has been a year and I am so sorry for that. But I am committed to finishing this story before 2016 begins. I've got plans written in my moleskine and I believe you can expect at least three chapters and epilogue besides this one to come within the next month.
To be honest, I had to reread my own story to get back inside the characters' heads because they have been on such a wild ride. In fact, I tried to reread it several times but always gave up (it's hard to read your own stuff, at least for me! and there were some heavy bits that were heavy to write let alone relive writing) but I pushed through. Because even the writer had to reread (because I took my sweet time trying to finish this thing), I don't want to suggest you reread the whole story but I would definitely advise against it. It might be good especially because I promise, promise, promise that the next four installments (including epilogue) will be posted this month.
I am trying to wrap every bit of plot, turn over ever secret, and lance every abscess (as you'll see in this chapter). So you may be wondering um, hey what's the deal with these two characters? I would. I considered doing a primer here but I am already longwinded in these notes. So..unto the breach! We are going to finish this thing!
Chapter Forty Four
Mary is just trying to be–on the bench she the affectionately thinks of as their bench–her hand pressed lightly to her still flat belly. She is trying to be, not to worry or panic, even trying not to imagine a blue eyed baby cooing in her lap, though that is more difficult now that she knows everything will be all right with Matthew. Instead, she is trying to breathe out her anger at Papa and breathe out the bigger emotion: fear of all she has to lose now. Autumn in New York after Mack died taught her this: if she ever wanted to move forward (and Mary Crawley desperately wanted to move forward then and now) then she must spend some time just being where she is, at this moment in time.
Though, as her lips quirk slightly, her hand still against her abdomen, she recognizes she can't simply be for very long. Nature won't allow her that this time. And she has the sneaking suspicion that the emotion creeping up on her, the one that began a day or so ago, may just be joy. It's hard to tell yet; she doesn't have much experience with it and she's cautious. But just maybe.
Of course, to be fair, she hasn't felt her best in the mornings either so maybe she is just confusing in general. But she hopes that isn't the case. Because this kind of joy is harder to recognize; it would be harder won, not clean or easy, but the stronger for it, unfamiliar but very much welcome.
"My God, you're lovely."
She turns her chin to find Matthew holding wilting yellow flowers. They look a bit worse for wear but his eyes are bright, and when she sees the way his lips curve she thinks: there, that's it–joy.
"Oh, hello." And when she smiles, it comes from the deepest place inside of her.
He laughs at a little at her subdued greeting though they both know that her face betrays her because she beams at him without meaning to. It must be that joy again. "Oh, hello." Leaning down, he brushes his nose against hers before placing a lingering kiss on her lips, making her stomach roll over, and her heart thud heavily.
When he sits besides her, she reaches for the flowers, her hands wrapping around his. "I do hope these are for me and not some other girl who happens to like arguments." Laughing, he does not release them and they grapple a bit before she raises an eyebrow at his sheepish expression.
His arm curves around her shoulders, his fingers brushing the side of her neck. He is looking at her in that way he does, icy blue eyes warm with love and affection and a little awe that he is allowed to look at her in such a way.
"They seem silly now," Matthew admits, looking down at the yellow flowers he plucked from the ground. "A silly gesture."
"It isn't silly," she insists, her hand squeezing his that still hold the yellow buds. "Not to me. I'll press them when I get back to Granny's so I can keep them."
He meets her eyes. She cannot decide if he is making fun of her or if he is embarrassed. Who is the joke here? Does someone have to be? "I never imagined Lady Mary kept such mementos like posies and love letters."
She raises an eyebrow but does not relinquish her grip on his hand with those flowers. She wants them. He picked them for her. He knew somehow to find her on their bench and he picked them for her. "There may be a few things you have yet to learn about me," she teases.
"And I'll learn them this time," he tells her earnestly. "Because you won't be a girl I knew for a day or two...but my wife." Her heart twinges when he references the poem that initially had her leaping into Mack's arms because that poem–those words–reminded her of the stark differences between the two men. Back then, one had been willing to wait to know her and one had not been. But it isn't grief or sadness that makes her heart ache a little. It just is–part pleasure that he loves her, that they have a shared history, and part discomfort over that same shared history, that he knows her so completely already. She thinks it must comes from living, from feeling, from entering life fully. This is what letting someone see her completely feels like. No one has before Matthew. She almost let Mack; she tried to and came close. But she was never wholly his Mary Jo.
Still, she doesn't want to forget Mack and Matthew has never asked her to do so. She remembers when Papa told her that Patrick died and she told Sybil: You see, I'm not as sad as I should be and that's what makes me sad. But this is different; here is real loss. And Matthew knows it all; it cannot be ignored and yet they can be and they can more forward. She wouldn't even begin to know how to let Matthew truly see her if not for Mack.
He still hasn't given up the flowers. "It seems you have a lot to learn about me still."
He starts to laugh. "So you would really keep these pathetic flowers and what? Love letters I wrote you like a love lorn school boy?"
She grabs the flowers from him and holds them in her lap before lifting her chin with a smile. "You've haven't ever written me any love letters."
Furrowing his brow, that hand around her shoulders pulls her a bit closer. "You're right. I haven't." She can see the past rush up into his face and not the past that made them who they are but the past that must be forgiven, the drinking, and the anger. You're a life ruiner, he wrote. And she can't be angry at him because first of all, she doesn't think he remembers writing it and secondly, without that letter she probably would have never spoken at length to Mack which means she would not be sitting on this bench with Matthew now. It is all so connected. It was all so necessary. She wonders if Matthew understands this. She would like to ask him to just be with her but there is so much guilt, it's palpable in this moment. His limbs have gone stiff with it. It sneaks in like another person.
He tries to make a joke but she doesn't think he is joking at all. "I suppose I was afraid you'd tear them up or even worse, laugh at me."
Turning, she wraps both her arms around his neck, the flowers still in her fingers. "Even now?" she asks gently.
"Well, I don't think you'd tear them up now," he admits and tries to smile. "But maybe laugh. The flowers…I don't know what I was thinking. I should have gotten you something proper from Ripon."
"Well you're not getting them back," she informs him, raising a brow, leaning towards him. "And besides, don't you know by now I'd keep any love letter you wrote me? Even if it was scrawled on a scrap of paper?"
He kisses her–as she has wanted him to, as he has wanted to since he first came upon her. She presses her body against his. Their tongues tease one another and she hums in the back of her throat but then he is slowly pulling away. "Let's try to have some respect for your father for the next three weeks."
Mary wishes they were in bed, naked beneath sheets, which is strange because she always felt a bit strange naked once the act was over. But she wishes they were in bed and lazily touching one another. She is envious of his clothes now and the skin they rub against. "Is that really necessary?" she asked pointedly looking down at her stomach. She'd rather not discuss Papa at all.
"I just came back from Downton and your mother has invited us all to dinner tomorrow to celebrate the engagement. Perhaps we should at least try our best not to act improper." But his lips whisper against hers anyway. "However much I want to."
"Absolutely," she replies and she can tell he isn't sure to which statement she is referring to so she shows him, pressing herself further into his arms, kissing him along his jaw, one hand holding the flowers, the other with fingers trying to do the impossible and inch their way beneath his collar.
"Mary," he murmurs against her mouth as he turns her face back up towards his to kiss her before sliding his hand deliciously down her body. Anyone could come by, she knows, even as she lets out a moan, half pulled onto his lap as she briefly rocks against his leg and he rubs himself once down her center. She detests the clothes they are wearing and yet somehow they only make her want him more.
She pulls away breathless. "To answer your question, of course I would keep any love letter you wrote me. Especially the steamy ones."
She does not want to go to dinner. She does not want to go dinner. "Oh, Mary, really. Try a bit harder," Granny says upon seeing her face. But Granny does not know what Papa has done and neither does Mama and since the party is to be only them and Matthew and Isobel, Mary will have to be quite adept at sidestepping the obvious. To be quite frank, she isn't sure how surefooted she is or how inclined she is to do Papa any favors.
In many ways, she knows she is a softer version of the woman she once was. Part of that came from losing Matthew to Lavinia and being brought so low, part of it came from America. Most of it came from loving Mack and also losing him. His family helped. And there was Matthew all along. When he wasn't doing well, when his drinking was so bad, she could not be the cold and careful Lady Mary. She found her heart could not take it. And when she saw him again in Ireland, everything melted away until it was as if she held his beating heart in her hands.
So yes, she is more forgiving. But she cannot forgive Papa for his treatment of Mack before he died or after, especially now that it will be Mack's money that will pay for Papa's beloved estate, the one he never would fight to give her in the first place. She thinks she could let it go, let it rest, forgive,as Mack would want her to, if only he could bend a little. If only he could admit that Mack was a good man, a good husband, that he had been good to her and for her. Any one of those things would do.
But he won't because he is proud.
And again she remembers when he told her about Patrick, how he judged her when she could only think of mourning clothes, how he pounced at her over breakfast when she glibly stated: All alone, with plenty of money, in Eaton Square? I can't imagine anything better. In their own ways, was really one better than the other? Except for the one thing Mary did that he did not:
I always apologize when I am in the wrong. It is a habit of mine.
"Mary," Granny comments once they are in the car. "You know you'll be expected to actually speak at this celebratory dinner." She purses her lips and hums. "And to think Isobel will be your mother-in-law. Such good luck with that."
Mary nearly laughs. "But Granny, you engineered this match years and years ago."
Granny only blinks several times, taking her time. "It is such a burden to be right about so many things, to see which path everyone should take long before they do."
"I'm sure it is a trial."
Dinner is a quiet affair and for that Mary is thankful. She knows Matthew is a a bit concerned since she is pushing her food around her plate more than eating it but it's just that her appetite is off these last few days. Food holds no allure at the regular times. And of course, her mother notices, "Mary, is something wrong? It's just you aren't eating much."
"My," Mary replies smoothly. "If only Edith were her to make a comment on how I should watch my figure for my wedding dress."
"Now that you mention it," Granny informs the table. "I do find myself missing your little sisterly spats. The certainly livened things up."
"Yes, well we have to grow up sometime, don't we?" Mary takes a sip of water before looking at her father.
Papa coughs again.
"Is there something wrong, Papa?" Mary asks sweetly. She is sure he suspects there is a chance she is with child considering the situations he has recently found Matthew and Mary in but she also knows they both hold bombs, secrets the rest of the table is not privy to. Will he actually dare to expose her secret at risk of his own exploding in his face?
"No, I am quite well but you do look a little pale," he admonishes before digging back into his meal.
"I think Mary looks beautiful," Matthew tells her from across the table and she wishes she could hug him but even that thought is fleeting because she is aware a game of tennis has begun with her father and she must be on the ready. Truthfully, not only would she rather not be here, but she doesn't feel that well. To continue the metaphor of the verbal volley, she isn't at the top of her game.
"Spoken like a true fiancé." Isobel raises her glass at her son. "But really, Mary, you do look a bit pale. Are you sure you are well?"
Besides the stomach that is tumbling in on itself and the headache, I'm splendid.
"Mary, maybe there's something that you'd like to share with the family. We're all here," Robert goads which enrages Mary. Is her virtue something he prizes so much? As if he is disappointed to see it gone even though she is a widow? Even though, and this sounds like something Sybil would say, it was never his to give away in the first place?
She snaps. She has been married and lost a husband. She has moved to America and back again. She has started her life over any number of times. And has he faced anything of the sort? Instead, he has often foisted Mary (the cold and careful Mary Crawley) off on Sybil and if not Sybil then it was Matthew, even when it wasn't appropriate to do so. Before that, she was a young girl in a red room holding her sheets to her chest as her only armor to ward off a man she never invited in. She will not be the doting daughter in this case. She cannot be. "Only that I am quite upset that Mackenzie's money will have to pay for the estate since you have lost all of Mama's."
There is a clatter of a fork from Granny but Mama sets down her utensils very precisely. "Robert, is this true?" she asks.
"Oh, dear. I spoke too soon about no dramatics at dinner. Carson, we may need smelling salts," Granny notes dryly from her perch. Though Mary doubts sincerely he will be getting smelling salts, Carson does take this as his cue to leave the family on its own but not before meeting Mary's eye, fortifying her resolve.
"There was an investment that went badly," Robert admits. "But Mary-"
"Oh, Robert, I thought if Edith and Mary weren't at the table together there would be no childish spats," Granny snaps though she will not meet Mary's eye. Granny, after all, lives with Mary and knows much more about her recent habits than anyone at the table, even Matthew. If anyone suspects she is pregnant, it is Granny. But unlike Papa, she knows Granny sees nothing to gain from voicing suspicions over dinner. It isn't only undignified, she would say, but it's Mary business. And because Granny loves her. Because Granny loves her, of course she would not reveal a suspected secret of such magnitude over dinner.
"How badly did it go?" Mama continues.
"Cora, this isn't the time…"
"Perhaps it is," Mary asserts, raising her chin. "Because you see Mackenzie's money comes with strings. My money…Our money…because it will be Matthew's money as much as my money, won't be mismanaged like yours was, Mama. Which means Papa cannot be involved in the managing of it."
Papa pounds his fist on the table. "Mary," he curses.
"Robert," Matthew leans toward the man and Mary can see he is trying to be calm, trying to reason with him. She on the other hand cannot try to do any such thing.
"Mary, surely there is some compromise to be made," Granny suggests. "You aren't suggesting it's all gone over one investment?" But then Granny looks towards her son, the anger that hides the shame and knows that yes, it is all gone and every word Mary is speaking is the truth. "Well, never mind then."
Before Mary can snap, Matthew speaks. Her spine bends back into the chair in blessed relief. It is so good to have someone on her side. "I don't think there is a compromise, Cousin Violet. It isn't just the money. There are quite a few layers to all of this."
"Matthew, perhaps you shouldn't get involved," Isobel offers.
Under her breath, Granny offers this nugget: "The pot to the kettle."
"I am involved though, Mother," Matthew continues. "Robert hoped I would marry Lucy Harking for her money. I thought he would be elated to know Mary and I were finally to be married. But he wasn't because when I told Robert that Mary and I were engaged-"
"Told me?" Robert sputters. "Not only did you fail to to ask for Mary's hand but I found you two in a compromising situation."
Mary feels as if her face is made of stone. "I wasn't aware I had to be given away this time. You already did that. I belong to myself now. My hand is attached to my wrist."
As Mary grows more pale, Papa's face grows a livid red. "Even Mackenzie-"
"Don't say his name like that!" Mary cries. "Why you must you speak of him with such scorn? Even his name elicits it. What did he ever do to you?"
"Did Matthew ever tell you about that awful incident with the girl before you? There was a baby and then there wasn't? A possible illegal surgery?" Robert accuses, voice ugly.
"This is not a topic of discussion for dinner," Cora murmurs but his words so shock Mary that for a moment she has to think of what he is referring to. Is it the baby she lost in the car accident? The lie she never held against them nor brought up outside of Sybil and Tom's home? No, it's a stupid rumor from years ago.
"You investigated him? And poorly investigated at that since none of it is even true!" Mary hisses. "And why would Matthew tell me? Since you're Sherlock Holmes, why would Matthew even know about it, let alone be the one to tell me?"
"Because I asked him to be the one to tell you the day before your wedding!" Robert shouts.
Granny's voice is a puff of hot air: "Robert. No."
All Mary can hear is her breathing–in and out, in and out. Her ears are hot. She is sure she is no longer pale considering she is trembling with rage. If she were alone, she might even weep because Mack does not deserve this. He never did anything but be kind to her from the first moment he tried to make her smile when she was so determined not to on that hot summer day. He never did anything but slowly and patiently open her up to the world so that someday she would be able to say yes to Matthew. Mackenzie was never the villain; in fact, there is no one blameless in this long story but him. So Mary sees red and yet a part of her wants to walk outside to the cemetery and lay down in the grass beside Mack in her evening gown and give up. Oh, Mack. I'm so sorry. Just so very sorry.
"Mary…" Matthew begins, already contrite.
"Please don't apologize," she tells him wearily. "You don't have anything to apologize for because you didn't do what Papa asked. I'm not angry with you." Let's just run away together. Anywhere. Back to Ireland or America or anywhere. Let's leave this table and go. But it isn't just the two of them any longer and there is no running away.
"Maybe you should be angry with me because I…I considered it." Matthew reaches his hand towards her. He would touch her if he could, his eyes full of regret.
Granny's words would be funny if not for the heaviness in the room. "A word of advice for marriage, Matthew...If you've already been forgiven, let it go."
"Why didn't you tell me then? If Papa was so insistent that Mack was so nefarious?" Mary asks him. She is very still. Her eyes are on him and more than anything she believes in him. She believes in the two of them–the heart of them.
"Because I wanted you to be happy," he admits. "I loved you even then."
"So there is nothing to be sorry for," she replies softly. She opens her mouth to say more but she knows she cannot since the family is watching the exchange. She turns towards Papa. "As for you, I will not listen to you disparage my late husband ever again. There is simply no reason for it."
"Really, Robert," Cora encourages. "Mary's right."
"So you're all against me, then?"
Granny raises a brow at Isobel. "To be honest, I don't believe Isobel and I have a horse in the race. Why such ire against Mackenzie? He had his head in the clouds most of the time but there was nothing so sinister about him."
"If you must know," Papa snaps. "He promised me to never break Mary's heart. And I can't forgive him and I won't take his money."
"Do we have a choice?" Cora asks.
"Pride cometh before a fall," warns Granny.
"And what did he ever do to break Mary's heart?" Matthew asks and once again, Mary's shoulders sag with relief. What a man Matthew has become, what a man he has always been, to love her so, to protect her against even her own father on the eve of her wedding to another man, to stick up for that very man tonight. I wanted you to be happy. I loved you even then.
"You can sit there and ask me such a think? You of all people who pieced her back together after he killed himself in that car he had no business driving?"
Mary thinks she may be sick. She doesn't know if she needs to cry or wants to vomit. Normally, she'd cope by clinging to control but she cannot seem to find the reins. She doesn't know if it is the baby or her own pain that keep her from defending herself quickly. Her head aches.
"I didn't piece Mary back together. Mary pieced herself back together. If you don't know that, if you can't see that, then I am not sure you know her very well at all." Matthew's voice is measured, calm even. But it's strong too. I loved you even then.
She wishes she could tell him how very much she loves him in this moment, how very much she will always love him for this moment alone.
"She's my daughter!"
"And she is going to be my wife. Neither of which make Mary any less her own. Can't you see that? That's all she's wanted since she first came back to Downton with Mack and then after he died and now this time too." Matthew replies passsionately and Mary has to close her eyes against it all. She pieced herself back together again and in one dinner party everything is falling apart again. Since she cannot cling to her own control, she gives into what she considers weakness and clings to Matthew's words: I loved you even then.
Mary interrupts wearily, a hand to the forehead, "My husband."
"He drove on the wrong side of the road and killed himself and nearly killed my daughter and I won't take that damned American's money," Papa shouts.
Matthew's eyes go to Mary. She is swaying in her chair.
"Really, Robert," Mama admonishes and no one knows if she is addressing the way he speaks of the accident, his disparaging remarks about her shared ethnicity with Mack, or his cursing at the table.
"It isn't an American's money," Isobel finally speaks and her eyes are on Mary as well. The way Isobel looks at her, with so much affection, makes Mary want to cry. What is wrong with her? Why should she want to cry? "It's Mary's money now."
"It's ours." Mary smiles wanly at Matthew.
"I won't have it!" Papa explodes. "This blatant disrespect from you, Mary, about money or the way you are conducting yourself during this so called engagement. And I don't have to defend my feelings about that man to anyone."
"You do have to defend your feelings though, Papa, if you are referring to Mackenzie." She feels woozy but she presses her fingers into her thighs. Her voice is clipped. "You won't have it? You who never had a kind word to say to Mack alive, let alone dead. You who need my help–our help–after you have misused another American's fortune?"
"Mary, I am warning you…"
"Well, I am warning you." She takes a breath. She must. "I can't take it any longer. You say horrible things about him. And he is the last person to deserve it. Did you know Mack was the first to actually ask me what really happened with Kemal Pamuk? He was the only one, the first and only one, to tell me in no uncertain terms that when a young girl rebuffs a man at dinner and he somehow, without her consent, finds his way to her bedroom, it isn't her fault? It's not her fault when she threatens to scream and he informs her she'll be ruined anyway. Mack was the first one to ask what happened that night and to tell me it wasn't my fault. Do you know what that meant to me? What that night did to me until he asked?"
Mama is crying quietly. "Oh, Mary. I didn't know. I never asked."
But Mary cannot stop. "And he loved me, all the jagged and sharp bits, the mean and awful parts too, the parts you certainly don't like and possibly don't love. Before him, I couldn't smile or laugh without thinking first at how I'd look or seem to people. Because of him, I could stop thinking and be. He gave me that. I told him I was a life ruiner and he proved me wrong. So if you can't love him, then you will respect his memory because he loved me. And if you can't do that at the very least, then you never loved me at all." She pauses for a single breath. "Now, I don't feel well and must go."
Granny is already in the car waiting for her as Mary says goodnight to Matthew. It's an abrupt end to the evening but all she cares about is that the night is over. "Thank you," she tells him, pressing her lips together to keep from crying. The urge is becoming quite embarrassing. "For everything you said in there. It meant…everything."
He cups her cheek for just a second, his eyes wounded, before letting her go. "I was the one who called you a life ruiner, wasn't I? I didn't even remember until you mentioned it and-"
Gently, she interrupts him because she can feel the guilt radiating off of him. "Matthew. It doesn't matter. I shouldn't have even brought it up. I wasn't thinking."
"What a cruel fool I have been!" Running a hand through his hair, he shakes his head. "How could I have ever written that to you?"
"It doesn't matter. We're all right. Things are the way they are supposed to be now," she tells him, taking his hand. She feel at a loss for words (a first perhaps or maybe she used them all up at dinner). "I know you don't think that of me. And that you didn't mean it then."
"I think you are being too gracious in this case," insisting, his eyes are brutal with sorrow. "How could you forgive me for that?"
She smiles and despite Granny waiting a few feet away in the car, she steps into his arms, which are slow to come around her. "For one thing, I realized you were wrong," she whispers into his ears. "And also…I loved you even then."
She feels him relax against her at this, though she cannot see his face. "Promise me you'll try and get some rest? You did look pale at dinner."
She leans back to look at him, teasing him. "You said I was beautiful at dinner."
"You can be both."
She grins at him before he kisses her cheek and walks her to the car.
She is officially sick for the first time the next morning. That is to say, it is not just a rumbling stomach but one that refuses to hold anything in it. She is trying to clean herself up a bit when Anna (who has been so good to come and stay a few days at Granny's) comes in with her tea.
"It's ginger, Lady Mary. The Dowager Countess suggested it."
"Did she?" Mary asks drolly. No one has ever described Violet Crawley as a fool so she must officially know of Mary's condition now. "And what's this?" Mary fingers an envelope.
"Maybe you have a secret admirer," Anna suggests playfully. "I'll let you read that and be back soon."
My Darling Mary,
Do you remember being a child and one night you would go to bed and the world was just as you always knew it and the next morning you would wake and rubbing frost from the windowpanes you would see blankets of snow, crystals clinging to the trees, ice hanging from the roofs and your tiny part of the world was transformed into something enchanted? I remember that if I got up especially early or was especially lucky, I would wake and there wouldn't even be a footprint in all the whiteness and the snowflakes, the thick flurries, would still be falling. I thought it was magic.
That is what being in love with you is like, waking up to magic.
I remember having a fever. I must have been at least 12. It was nothing so concerning but it was awfully uncomfortable and nothing my father or mother did could break it. And then suddenly, I turned my pillow over and my cheek found a cool spot there and I was able to sleep.
Being in love with you is like finding the cool spot.
I've never written anyone love letters like the ones I want to write to you. I've never loved anyone the way I love you so I suppose that makes sense. But it's humbling all the same, not to have the words I so badly want to give you. And I am taking you on your word, that no matter how badly I am bungling this, you won't laugh at me.
I think I loved you for a very long time but the moment I knew it was when we were served salt for dessert and Sir Anthony Strallan cried: Good God! Salt! and you turned towards me, hiding your face from him and laughed so hard, so freely. When I saw you laugh like that I knew…I knew there was no one I would ever want to laugh with again.
So this morning, though I know it can in no way make up for last night, I only want to try and explain how much I love you, to remind you how very much I love you. The more, shall we say, amorous sentiments you asked for at our bench will be saved for another day.
Even now, at my desk, I can picture you so clearly, turning to me and laughing over the salt incident heard around the world. I love you. I love you every way there is to love a person.
And as for those hard edges and sharp bits you mentioned last night, I think you forgot the warmth and goodness you sometimes try to hide. You cannot fool me because I have seen you giggling like a school girl over a salty pudding and I have seen you rest your cheek on your niece's tiny head and I have seen you kiss Dec's scrape on his knee all better and I have held you in the dark. So you cannot hide it from me and besides, I love every part, even your jagged edges. Just as you love mine.
And from then on, she receives a love letter every morning.
A/N: I ain't too proud to beg. I feel so out of practice (especially writing love scenes...which will come...and dinner party scenes! That dinner party!). I would love to hear from you, if you can forgive my absence. If you are still out there at all, in fact...And I promise I am already working on the next chapter.