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Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 1

July 17, 2017 05:11AM
Author's note: This chapter ended up so long I had to split it into parts. I hope you like it! My next few posts will be on An Even Path smiling smiley Just a content heads up: this chapter (both parts of the chapter, actually) doesn't have or show anything inappropriate, but it does have two conversations between adults who are discussing intimacy. It is not a detailed discussion, more like a topic overview, but it is in there.

If you want to read a version of this chapter that has just a little bit more steam in it (actually it's in the 2nd part of the chapter), email me and I'll send you the link to which austen fanfiction site that's located at.


Chapter 5


The snow squall left many stranded, including Edmund and Fay. A phone call informed Tye that the short distance back was temporarily impassable for the Bertram couple. They wouldn't return until morning.

Fay's instructions over the phone were clear. Since Georgiana was staying the night, she would need provisions. Georgiana was welcome to use any of Fay’s soaps or lotions, or any of her nightgowns or pajamas. Bed sheets and blankets could be found in the linen closet in the couple’s bedroom.

This meant hunting around Fay and Edmund’s bedroom in search of the items.

"Edmund doesn’t mind," said Fay. "Neither do I."

He entered the bedroom with brisk resolve. How long could it take to get a few sheets?

He wasn't comfortable here. The difference between brothers: Edmund’s life philosophy precluded locked doors. It was Edmund’s small rebellion against the house they’d grown up in. For most of their childhood, the Bertram children had been barred from a variety of rooms in Mansfield Park’s sweeping estate. Ed saw the gesture as a symbol of the family’s division. Tye, more prosaic, had simply seen their father’s forbidden spaces as one more chance to get yelled at. He'd vowed to steer clear of the rooms and Lord Mansfield.

What all of this added up to was one simple fact: Tye didn’t have a problem with locks. He respected a man’s right to privacy. He often craved it himself.

Edmund's room was...personal. This was a place where his kid brother shared his secrets, his frustrations, his needs with Fay. It was where he let his guard down, where he gave love, and made love. The couple hadn't planned on spending the night away from their own home. Their bed was still unmade. Fay's bathrobe lay in a pile of satin on the floor. There was something lacy near the bathrobe that Tye was more than willing to pretend he couldn't see.

“Georgiana will need something to sleep in,“ Fay carried on. “Tye, could you open the bottom drawer of my dresser and pull out a few nightgowns for her?”

“Nightgowns?" Tye winced. What was she suggesting he do, pick one out for Georgiana? "That's a little awkward for me, kiddo."

"You and I were together every summer for most of my childhood. You and Edmund saw my nightgowns a million times.”

"Georgie can pick out her own outfit to sleep in.” Tye rubbed the space between his brows. “I’ll point her in the right direction and let her have at it.”

“What about sheets? Don't forget the sheets. You’ll have to get those, and blankets. They’re in the closet near the bookshelf.”

He glanced around the room. Which bookshelf? Fay and Edmund were both avid readers; there were bookshelves aplenty to choose from. He took a guess, opening one narrow closet. The space was filled with boxes.

“I don't know, Fay, all I see are boxes of—” Tye lifted the lid of one cardboard box. Inside one box was a pair of delicate, feminine sandals. “Shoes?”

“Oh. Hmm, you've found my shoe closet. That means you've turned to the left when you should have turned right. Turn around, go straight toward the opposite wall---”

“Does my brother know that you have a whole closet of shoes?”

“Yes. He indulges me. One day, Tiberius, you'll have a beautiful woman in your life who will ask you for something equally indulgent, and since you’ll be putty in her hands, you'll say yes.”

Tye's laugh was hoarse. "Is that a bet?"

“Oh, no. It's a guarantee.”

He could barely think beyond tomorrow, let alone sketch out the idea of sharing his life with anyone. "Honestly, Fay, most of the time domesticity scares the hell out of me."

"You won't always feel that way."

Fay wasn't here to see the skepticism lining his face, though he was sure she guessed at it. “That's my glass half-full girl.”

“I love you too, Tye,” said Fay.

He’d found the closet with the sheets. There were shelves and shelves of pale linens: blue, white, pink, peach. According to Fay, the sheets that fit their second guest bedroom were carnation pink.

Whatever that looks like…

"Not the blush pink with the violets," Fay said, "the carnation pink with the forget-me-nots. You do know the difference between a forget-me-not flower, and a violet, don't you?"

Tye let out an incredulous laugh. “What do you think?”

“Tye...” a voice called out, “anything I can help with?”

Phone in hand, Tye turned.

Georgiana stood in the threshold of the doorway. A small smile edged the corner of her mouth. The lamp light burnished her brown locks, and turned her skin into gold. Her brows lifted curiously.

She was, he realized then and there, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen in his life.

“Georgiana.” His voice emerged as a husky bass.

“Have a bit of company?” Fay noted. “Well, I won't keep you any longer. Don’t forget to tell her to find something to wear to bed. Sleep well, Tye. I'll see you tomorrow.”

Georgiana approached. She still wore his sweater. Without her shoes, her pale blue jeans were too long. They covered half her feet. He found this detail absurdly endearing. She'd pushed her hair back. He could see small pearl earrings in her ears. Her thumb and forefinger were toying with an object on a thin, gold chain around her neck.

She came closer. When he remembered to think again, he lifted his hand, brushing the charm on her necklace with the edge of his thumb. It was a heavy gold band. She must have toyed with it for the last half hour. The metal still held the warmth of her skin.

“Whose ring is this?” he whispered.

“My father's,” she murmured, “too big for me. Still...I can't bring myself to go a day without wearing it.”

“No reason why you should, sweetheart.” He traced the length of the chain, letting his hand touch the spot where the chain rubbed against her neck. “I expect he'd want you to have something of his that you can grasp when you need it.”

"You understand it," she whispered. There was a tremble in her brown lashes as she looked back to him. "It's the closest that I can get to holding him."

Tye couldn't stop himself from brushing her cheek. She rarely spoke of her parents, except to say all she had of them were photos and second-hand stories. The ache from that loss was bright in her eyes.

"Georgie..." he swallowed, "I wish...I wish there was something...anything I could do..."

He'd trade anything in the world to ease the hurt in her eyes. He felt her fingers touch his hand, tidy nails brushing the back of his hand palm.

"I believe you," she said softly. "Just hearing that is enough."

Whatever churned inside him, whatever he saw in Georgiana's eyes, he knew he'd never felt anything like it. It blurred the space between comfort and need.

A crashing sound outside the casement window startled them both. A sheet of ice tumbled off the roof. It crashed onto the lawn below.

“Huh.” Georgiana's laugh was breathless. She stepped away, sliding her nervous hands into her jean pockets. “Ice.”

He cleared his throat. “Yeah.”

He needed something to do with his hands —something that didn't involve touching her. He gestured to the linen closet. The sheets all looked the same to him.

“Any chance you know the difference between a violet and, uh--" his hand motioned, "a forget-me-not?”

The question drew a giggle out of her. “No. Though I suppose we can figure it out between the two of us.”

He believed that. They were an effective team. They'd already cleaned up downstairs together, verifying that the Ed and Fay's house was prepared as possible for the winter storm, checking that the flame in the fireplace was out and doing what they could to ensure the kitchen pipes wouldn't freeze.

They found the sheets together. After that, they had to find her something to sleep in.

He rubbed the edge of his cheek. "I mentioned that problem to Fay. She gives you free use of her wardrobe."

“Well…" Her mouth quirked, "I'll look. I’m quite a bit taller than she is.”

He'd considered that fact, too. Fay Price-Bertram barely cleared five feet tall. Georgiana was a statuesque five-foot-seven.

Georgiana moved to the dresser drawer, pulling out the bottom shelf. Most of the items she touched were prairie flower prints or soft cottons. She held up a few. Each one left her shaking her head.

“These clothes are too small. Fay’s even shorter than my sister-in-law, Lizzie. I haven’t fit into anything this size in years, despite all my wishes when I was a teenager."

Tye's mouth flattened to a frown. “What wishes?”

She was still sitting cross-legged on the ground. He watched as she folded one too-small nightgown, setting it back into the drawer and pushing the drawer shut.

“Well,” she rubbed her knee, “I suppose most people want whatever they don't have. By thirteen, I was taller than most boys in my class. The guys caught up with me eventually. Still, there were quite a few years where I felt like some sort of...”

He thought she had the legs of a centerfold. He couldn’t imagine she’d want to take a single inch from her height. “What?”

She shrugged.

“I know that there are so many more important things in life than being called pretty. I look like my mother, and I don’t have any complaints about that. I’ve come to appreciate the face God’s given me. However, when I was younger, I thought…” she took a deep breath, “Well, Lizzie is quite petite, and so intensely graceful. For a long time I really did want to be shorter than I am. I wanted hair like hers, nearly black, and wavy, instead of brown and curly. Maybe I wanted eyes that had a little green in them, too. I really admired her accomplishments, which meant I wanted to be like her and look like her. As a teen, Elizabeth was the standard of beauty that I judged myself against.”

“Georgie…” Tye shook his head. The fact that she felt second-best to anyone was an alien idea to him. "I hope you still don't feel that way."

"No, I've come to terms with what I have. I'll never have nearly black hair and green eyes. I've got curly brown hair, and brown eyes instead." Her lovely gaze met his. She stood. "I've learned to like it."

He could have told her that she'd grown into a woman who made his blood burn. That her brown eyes were warm amber. That her curls made his fingers ache, and her smile set his heart racing.

"Comparing yourself to anyone...it’s steak verses lobster, Georgie. There's no sense in it.”

The quirk of her mouth hinted at amusement. “Am I meat or shellfish in this scenario?”

“No, believe me--you're--" he was stuttering now. He never stuttered. Where the hell are you going with that metaphor, Bertram? he asked himself. He gestured with his hands. "You’re absolutely---undeniably---exquisitely---”

He couldn’t look at her while he struggled through this sentence. When he did, finally, he noticed playfulness had vanished from her face, replaced with a shy vulnerability that shot straight to his heart.

“Please,” she whispered, “please tell me your thoughts. Just once.”

His heart hammered in his chest. She wanted to hear him say it. The realization moved him deeply. What had he done to her by holding this thought in? His hand touched her again, tracing the soft curve of her shoulder.

“You’re beautiful.” He could hear the amazement in his own voice. “You’re so beautiful, Georgiana…”

Timid emotion flickered in her eyes. He watched her mouth soften. “Tye…”

The low light made her eyes look endless. He watched her lips part and heard her breathe in softly.

The sweetness of her eyes nearly undid him. He wanted to answer that look. He wanted to touch his mouth to hers and caress her lips until her breath mingled with his.

He forced his mind away from the thought.She’s not yours to kiss, Bertram. "I, uh, imagine that Jim must tell you that often.”

The name made her flinch.

“Sometimes.” Her answer was small.

It was time to leave the confines of Edmund’s bedroom. He’d worried about finding Edmund and Fay’s secrets while he searched the place, and found he’d accidentally stumbled over a few of his own—and perhaps even Georgie’s---instead. He picked up the sheets. She carried the blankets. They made their way to the second guest bedroom.

"Since none of Fay’s clothes fit,” he said while he helped her make the bed, “I have an extra pair of pajamas in my suitcase. You're welcome to wear them."

She tucked sheets beneath the mattress, then stood. "If my options are that, or sleeping naked, it's really a toss-up.”

The comment caught him off guard. He rammed his foot against the bed post. Her brown gaze was circumspect. Slowly, a teasing smile spread across her face. "I'm joking, Tye."

He started laughing. He really, truly liked her. Taking physical attraction out of the equation, leaving out their common interest in music---he liked the person she'd grown into. He liked her kindness, her silence, and her subtle, spontaneous humor. He simply liked her. If she'd never touched a piano, if she couldn't even spell piano, he'd still want her as a friend.

"I'm sorry. I got stuck sifting through Fay's lingerie. My head's in the gutter," she teased. "She has good taste in nightgowns, though."

He didn't know whether to grin or grimace. "I've known Ed all my life, and Fay since her jump rope days. I'd really like to pretend they just go in there and play cards."

"Well,” Georgiana's nose scrunched comically, “at least you've never walked in on your sibling and his spouse when they were...you know..."

Tye cursed pleasantly. "And how old were you?"

"Fourteen. They weren't expecting me. It was the middle of the day, though, and I certainly wasn't expecting to stumble over them like---” Georgiana made another face, letting the words fade out. “That wasn't the only time I'd caught them in a private moment, but it was definitely the most embarrassing. Anyway, it sorted itself out. My brother is stoic and reserved, but he's also so honorable. A lesser man would've avoided me until the embarrassment passed. Not Will. He found me and apologized as soon as he could. Later, Elizabeth came in to give me a talk. I suppose they both thought I needed it at that point."

"Is this mutual sympathy, or do you want a worse story?"

She giggled and bent, pulling the quilt up over the bed. "You have one?"

"A few. Probably none fit for your innocent ears." When her ears started growing prettily pink, he knew he'd guessed right. "If we're discussing the infamous talk, though, I had that responsibility when it came to Edmund."

Georgiana was now pushing a pillow into a pillowcase. She paused, curious eyes meeting his. "Really?"

"Yep. Edmund's other choice was asking Lord Mansfield. Even back then, I was the better option for him."

Her arms hugged the pillow. "Did you mind that he asked you?"

"No." Tye's brow furrowed. "No, not at all."

He remembered that afternoon clearly. It had been a rainy day in March. Fifteen-year-old Edmund, gawky and earnest, had found Tye in the music room. Tye, seventeen, had only managed to play half a rondo while watching Edmund pace nervously. Finally, he'd stopped and asked what Edmund needed. Edmund had haltingly spilled out his question. At that point, Tye carefully put his violin away, gestured the youth toward the nearest chair, and settled in for a long talk.

Tye hadn't laughed, or teased his brother. He'd addressed all of the boy's questions tactfully, honestly, openly. They'd spent most of the rainy afternoon together—discussing sex, desire, love, life, choices.

"I'm glad Edmund came to me with his questions," Tye added. "He needed to discuss sex with someone he felt safe with. He's my little brother. He can ask me anything."

She set the pillow down.

"Edmund is lucky to have you, Tye," she said, "I know I benefited from being the youngest sibling, having Will in my life.”

His hands slipped in his pockets. He'd never wondered what his life would've been like if the birth order had been reversed. He doubted he would've made fewer mistakes. There was a hunger in him that Edmund never struggled with.

“I should let you sleep,” he said at last. He stepped toward the door. “If you need anything tonight, I'm just across the hall.”

“Alright. And Tye?”

“Yeah?”

“I meant what I said. Lucky. That's how Edmund feels about having you in his life. I'm certain of it.”

**


Tye left the room flooded with the need to compose. Retreating to his temporary bedroom, he wedged his lanky frame into Fay's small writing desk, and scratched out page after page of music. He started with a theme, a light, silvery trail of notes unadorned by bass harmony. As he moved through the first section of the movement, he traveled through key changes: A to C sharp, D minor...

Time rushed by him. Harmonies burned through his mind. He came out of it as he always did, two hours later, like a man pulled from a dream.

Slowly, he remembered his surroundings. His legs were growing stiff. The clock hanging on the wall read 1:00 AM. Restless, he pushed to a stand.

Heat was chugging slowly through the furnace, fighting the cold as it snaking through the house and settled in the still corners of the room. Despite the snow outside, the laboring furnace left his skin hot. He was still sitting here in a shirt and jeans. Tye tugged the shirt off, balling it up and tossing it into his suitcase. He kicked his shoes off and unhooked his belt, sliding it from his waist.

An image flashed through his mind: candlelight against Georgiana's skin. The way her heavy curls tumbled down her back. He remembered the look on her face whenever she laughed. He remembered the soft mixture of gratitude and disbelief in her eyes when he called her beautiful.

He wanted to say the phrase over and over until her whole body blushed.

She has a life in Cambridge. She’s happy there. Happier than you’ve ever seen her anywhere. It’s a simpler life than what you could offer; she has friends here. She has her studies. She has her own goals, and a man she cares for.

Sure, the man she cared for was a jackass, but she liked him. Jim Thorpe grated Tye in ways he hadn't expected. If Jim hadn't willingly agreed to stop pawing her, Tye would've pulled the guy off with his own two hands.

He wouldn't have had that reaction a year ago. The stirring he'd felt while watching Georgiana with Jim had been an intense, alien feeling. He'd never felt such a strong surge of jealousy.

Bloody hell, he thought, running his hands through his hair. Is it too late for a shower?

He padded down the hall, barefoot and jean-clad. Cold air hit his warm skin.

He welcomed it, stopping at the end of the hallway to glance out the window. The snowfall had halted. The worst of the storm had passed. The wind was making snow drifts in the backyard

…hel-p…

The soft phrase made his body seize. Tye turned. Was that a groan from the struggling furnace, or--

…help…

Georgiana didn’t know the layout of the house. Good God, what if she'd tumbled down the stairwell? He'd walked right past the stairs in his restless journey here. He backtracked, sprinting for the stairwell.

Relief surged. The stairwell was empty.

“Help…” He heard it again, this time more loudly. It was coming from her bedroom door. His heart was racing. Tye reached for the door handle, shoving the bedroom door open. Her teasing comment about sleeping naked surfaced in his mind. Man, I hope she’s decent in there.

“Georgiana!”

Darkness blanketed the room. Slowly, the details of the dark room revealed themselves. There was sweet Georgiana, her arms twisted around a feather pillow. Fay’s rose quilt was pushed down, twisted around her waist. A tangle of curls fanned around her. She was sound asleep. Relief had him bend over, gasping.

“She’s alright,” he muttered to himself, pressing a hand to his ribcage. “She’s not hurt.”

She was also having one hell of a nightmare. He watched her arm jerk, fighting some formless foe. Her elbow came up; she rolled onto her back. “Help!”

“Georgiana...” Tye straightened, moving for the bed. Gently, he touched her shoulder. “Georgie, sweetheart…wake up…”

She jolted. A small, startled gasp pushed out of her. Her eyes flew open. Panicked, her gaze landed on him.

“Tye?” Confusion thickened her voice.

“I heard you yelling down the hall. You were having a nightmare, Georgie. That’s all it was.”

Slowly, she sat up. Fear lingered on her face. He watched her heave another breath, and then another. Her hand moved to her mouth. Her lovely face crumpled.

She was crying.

He cursed inwardly. He’d never known his biggest weakness in life was Georgiana Darcy’s tears until he saw them trickling down her cheeks.

“I'm sorry,” she whispered. “It felt so real. I’m scared. I’m sorry, Tye.”

“Don’t be,” Tye said. Tentatively, he settled on the edge of the bed. He brushed the tear tracking down her cheek. “God knows I want to comfort you when you need it.”

She nodded miserably. “Will you hold me?”

If any man could deny that request, that man wasn't Tye. He found himself wrapping his arms around her trembling body. When she pulled him closer to her, into the bed, all he could do was follow her. The mattress creaked when he reached the center of it. How many decorative pillows did Fay have in this room? They were floating in pillows. One round, decorative throw was wedged against his back.

He couldn't say how long he held her while she cried. So long that drowsiness finally started overtaking him.

“Better?” he whispered when her tears stopped.

“Mmm…I think so. It’s less frightening when I have something to hold onto. Can we just…stay like this for a while?”

“Sure.” He let his finger wind around one damp curl. What kind of hellish nightmares did she have? She’d frightened herself into a trembling sweat.

He couldn't offer her more of himself than this. What he did have was hers.

She started wiping salty tears from her cheeks.

“What was the dream about?” His question was hoarse.

"Nothing.” She murmured the word against his chest. “It’s old. A borrowed memory. One that's not even mine."

“Do you need me to stay till sunrise?”

She said nothing. She didn't move from his embrace.

"My heart's still racing," she said weakly.

That was his answer.

It wasn't a hardship. The bed was small with both of them in it, but he suspected he had a better chance of falling asleep if he knew she was safe, than he would have if he returned to his own bed.

"I'm sorry I woke you," she whispered.

"Don't be. We're friends."

“Yes. Friends. Even though I realized today--I don't even know if you like football."

His tired laugh surprised him. "What?"

"Football. My brother loves playing it. His favorite club is the Bolton Wanderers. Do you like football, too?"

Her body was snug against his. A shiver of need ran through him. He could feel his neck growing hot.

How awake was she right now? Not very, he decided. Her eyes were at half-mast. She was a short step from dreamland, happily ignorant to the reaction she summoned in his touch-starved male anatomy.

“Well, I—” Beneath them, springs creaked. He maintained the embrace, though he gently eased her knee away from his thigh, and repositioned her hand to the safety of his upper chest. “Never had time for it. Too many hours hunched over musical scores. After I cut alcohol out of my life—” and casual sex, his mind taunted wryly, “my, uh, therapist suggested running. Helps get my energy out. There were mountain trails near my cabin in Canada. I ran every afternoon.”

"Mmm. Will likes to run.”

“Do you?”

“No,” she said drowsily, “I don’t run. But the trail sounds…beautiful."

He gently rubbed her shoulder. "Yeah, it was. I think you'd like it. Any other questions?"

“Probably.” Her small sigh emerged. "What's your middle name?"

The comment brought a puzzled smile to his face. "The name on my birth certificate, if that's what you’re angling at, is Tiberius Sidney Augustus Kent Bertram, Viscount Sotherton."

"You’re teasing. You're not a Viscount."

"On my honor as a Bertram, ma’am, I am. It’s my father’s lesser title."

“Does anyone,” she yawned, “ever call you Viscount Sotherton?"

"Not if I have any say in the matter."

"Mmm..you have more names than my brother. Must be hard to squeeze that onto a driver’s license."

"You have some interesting thoughts at two o’clock in the morning,” he whispered. “What's yours?"

"Interesting thought?"

"No. Your full name."

"Hmm…Georgiana Beatrice Dominika Darcy."

“Beautiful,” he whispered. He heard her soft sigh. “Beatrice…that’s an old Italian name. Unusual for an English girl from Pemberley.”

Though he could barely see it, the phrase made her smile. “The girl from Pemberley. I like that. Mostly, I don’t think of myself as the girl from anywhere.”

He’d never known she felt that way. This was the start of a larger, important conversation, one they’d have to resume one day when they were both fully awake.

"Somewhere,” he guessed, “a Darcy man married an Italian?”

“Yes. One did. My paternal grandfather married my grandmother. Her name was Georgia. An Italian baroness.”

“Ah.” So there was a touch of Italian mixed in with all that English blood. “And Dominika? That’s… Russian?”

“Yes, it’s Russia.” Her head lifted. He could see the pride she had for the name glimmer in her eyes. “It’s also common in other languages. Czech, Hungarian, Slovenian, Polish, Slovakian.”

A lazy smile twitched onto his face. “Someone’s more awake.”

“A little.” She looked down at the fingers she’d stretched across his chest. “You're not wearing a shirt...I hadn't noticed until now.”

Her fingers pushed up his chest, tracing muscle and bone, then down to his ribcage. It felt like a brand. Tye breath sharpened. “Go easy on my body, sweetheart. I’m not that tired.”

Her fingers stilled immediately. “Sorry,” she whispered.

“Don’t be. Honesty between friends. I think we can offer each other that.” He wished he could see the blush he suspected was spreading across her cheeks. It seemed they were both indulging in things they’d never do in the daylight. His fingers teased at the nape of her neck. He enjoyed the soft texture of her hair against his palm. “Tell me about your ancestor. The Russian.”

“My maternal great-grandmother. She was a Russian countess. She emigrated during the Revolution. We have one of her dresses at Pemberley, and quite a few of her jewels. Those two women are the only interesting parts of my background. The rest of them were humdrum British gentry. Hundreds of years of English heritage."

"I can believe there’s some Mediterranean in you. You have such beautiful curls. Now that I look at you, I see the Russian countess in your English features, too. You have such fine-boned beauty.”

"You make me sound exotic.” Her chin rested on his chest. “I like that. I've never felt anything of the sort. I really hope I remember this in the morning."

"Me too."

"Should we sleep now, Tye?"

"I think so."

That was the last thing they said to each other before they did precisely that.
SubjectAuthorPosted

Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 1

BernadetteEJuly 17, 2017 05:11AM



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