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Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

July 17, 2017 06:12AM
Author's Note: Here's the second half! Hope you like it!

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 teeeny little bit more steam in it (seriously, it's not much. It's one short extra paragraph), email me and I'll send you the link to which austen fanfiction site that's located at.

Part 2:


**


She woke up at first light sure of two things. One: the worst winter storm in decades had swept through Cambridge last night, covering the county in ice and snow.

Two: she wasn’t waking up alone. Impossible to forget that fact. Her pillow was hard and lean and had the warmth of a slow burning fire. He was her pillow. She opened her eyes to the sight of him. Her brown curls spilled over his chest. Her cheek rested on his sternum.

She’d practically dragged him into bed with her. She’d been a weepy mess, and clung to him all night, as if he was her favorite childhood blanket. Tye, she thought, I’m sorry. You were so kind to me. You probably weren’t a bit comfortable all night. His head was tilted away from her. Honey-blond hair brushed carelessly against his brow. The scent of him was warm and male, soap mixed with a touch of sweat.

Somehow they’d ended up tangled together. In the course of the night, she'd cuddled against his chest. His arm was now stretched over her back, a heavy, pleasant weight against the curve of her spine.

When Tye slept, he slept deeply. She hadn’t predicted that. She thought he’d be restless. All through her childhood, Will had been a light sleeper. The faintest noises used to wake him up. Even watching Will and Lizzie from a distance, Georgiana knew that her brother only slept soundly when his wife slept by his side.

“Tye,” she whispered. She felt the rise in his chest as his muscles stirred. His lashes lifted. A warm, near-black gaze landed on her. “I…I had a nightmare last night. You came here to comfort me. I—I wanted to wake you because I wasn’t sure if you remembered that you were in bed with me.”

“Georgiana…” there was a drowsy quality in his early morning voice, “I haven’t had a woman in bed with me in seven years. I assure you, I remembered you.”

She’d certainly remembered him, too. She recalled, belatedly, that she was wearing his pajamas. This was the first time he’d seen her in the ensemble. He noticed it too. A slow smile tugged across his mouth. It sent warmth through her.

"I remember what we talked about,” she said softly. “Tiberius...Augustus...Kent Sidney Bertram?"

“Close.” Humor warmed his voice. “Tiberius Sidney Augustus Kent Bertram."

She laughed. “It’s not close if it’s wrong.”

Tye bit his lip to fight off a broader grin. "You get points for trying."

“I need to get it right, though,” she said softly. “Tiberius Sidney Augustus Kent.”

“It’s the name of men who came before me.” His fingers started toying with her curls. “I’m not sure if it ever felt like mine.”

“You remember my name.”

Now he did grin. “How do you know?”

“Because I know you.” Georgiana pushed up to her elbows “Want me to quiz you?”

"No need. Georgiana Beatrice Dominika Darcy.” His fingers touched her face, feathering soft curls away from her face. “I remember it. I'll always remember it.”

The comment left her dizzy. “Did you--” she stuttered, “did you sleep alright?”

“Fine. You?”

“I think my hip's a little sore,” she confessed. “Too much time spent sleeping in one position.”

His thumb brushed against her lower lip. Feeling shivered through her. He noted that subtle quake. His dark, considering gaze moved down her. One movement and Tye was rolling them, easing Georgiana onto her back. His left hand ghosted over her hip bone.

“Here?” The question was a low rasp in his throat. His fingers were warm despite the barrier of fabric. “Is this what hurts?”

She couldn't summon an answer. He was the most breathtaking man she’d ever seen with his clothes on. With his clothes half off, she felt her mind lurch. His body was a blend of toughness and elegance. The Canadian winters had hardened it, adding muscle and strengthening his bones. She could see the beautiful lines of his shoulders, the grooves of his rib cage, the planes of his chest, his hard abdomen. His jeans hung low on his hips, revealing the ridge of his hip bones.

She hadn't managed an answer yet. Tye's eyes traveled up her. Something made his eyes sharpen halfway through the journey. He took a hard breath.

This, she realized, is what it's like to wake up in bed with Tye Bertram.

“Tye?” A strong voice called up the stairwell, “Georgiana? We're back from the Vick household. If either of you are hungry, Fay's going to make breakfast!”

That was Edmund's voice. Emotion dashed across Tye's face. She couldn't tell if it was vast irritation, or immense relief. Tye pushed abruptly away from her. He was out of bed in one swift movement.

“That's my brother.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t--” she wobbled, pushing the blanket down as she sat up. Tye’s pajamas were too big for her. The shirt, she realized with a flare of embarrassment, was so loose that the minute he'd rolled her onto her back, he’d endured a generous glimpse of her décolletage. Great, Georgie, she chided herself, readjusting the shirt, Maybe that explained the change in his face. That’s the last thing poor Tye probably wants to be subjected to. “I didn’t mean to inconvenience you last night.”

“You didn’t.” Tye's answer was tight.

It certainly looks like you’re fighting off some kind of headache, she thought.

His back faced her. His hands dragged up the back of his head, hard knuckles pushing through blond hair.

“You should get dressed,” he said brusquely. “I need a shower. I'll see you downstairs.”

“Oh.” She drew her knees up. “Okay.”

The door rattled when he left.


**

“Tye? Tye!” The young minister, catching sight of Tye down the hall, halted him before the older man could push the bathroom door shut. “How was your night with Georgie?”

Between the door and the frame, Tye stared his younger brother down. “Ed, I need a shower.”

Something cold, Tye decided decisively.

“I'm sure. I just--I felt bad leaving you here alone with Georgie.”

Tye’s tense fingers thrummed against the door. “She’s not a burden.”

“What happened?” Edmund frowned. “Did you two have a fight?”

Heat flashed in Tye’s eyes. “No.”

“Fay wanted to come up here and take your breakfast order.”

“Ask Georgie.” He nodded down the hall.

“But—” Edmund shook his head, “Tye, what happened?”

He was angry with himself. He was familiar with desire. He'd grown used to celibacy. He wasn't used to the two realities mingling like this. Nonetheless, it shouldn't have happened. She trusted him. She had a boyfriend. She'd called him her friend. Thank goodness for Edmund's arrival. He'd needed to get away from her. Never in his life had he felt such a potent blend of affection and aching need.

“Before you ask," Tye grumbled, "Georgiana’s innocent. It's my own fault. Next time I touch her, though, both of us need to be fully clothed.”

Edmund’s mouth fell open.

“Go check on her. I’ll see you in half an hour,” Tye commanded before shutting the door.


**

Georgiana did what she could to prepare for breakfast, climbing into yesterday's clothes, and securing her brown curls in two plaits. She studied her face in the mirror. In her own eyes, the plaits looked girlish. Tye's sweater swamped her.

Not exactly the sophisticated look she wanted around him, but it was the best she could do.

She padded down the hallway. Ice was still frozen on the window panes. It summoned a shiver from her. Snow was one thing, but that ice storm last night had touched on her deepest, long held fears. It had dredged up nightmares about her parents' death.

She didn't carry the memory of her parents' death the way Will did. His nightmares were worse. He'd been old enough to remember the accident. He bore the scars from it on his body. Occasionally, she knew he still relived that awful night when he slept.

Her nightmares were different. They were built from fragmented details she'd heard from Will, or from her own terrible imagination. Her nightmares varied, but the outline was the same. It always involved ice water, tears, and a dark space that she struggled to escape from.

She couldn't bring herself to share that with anyone, not even Tye.

Georgiana arrived downstairs first. She spent the next hour preparing coffee, watching Fay scramble eggs, and listening to stories about the sweet, rambunctious Vick children.

“I never knew it would be so hard to get two children to brush their teeth before bedtime.” Fay laughed. “I asked nicely. When that didn't work, I attempted to reason with them. One of them climbed into the bathtub and wouldn't get out. The other one cried whenever I turned the tap water on. By the end of our time in the bathroom, I wasn't sure I could handle dog sitting for anyone, let alone babysitting.”

“Don’t let her fool you.” Tye spoke up. He was leaning against the door frame, watching the two women. Whatever mood had overcome Tye, he’d shaken it off. The smile he gave was rueful. “Fay's a natural with kids.”

Feeling rushed over her when their eyes met.

“Georgie,” Fay remarked, “you should see Tye with his youngest sister, Lynnie. She adores him. He's like the pied piper around her.”

“Lynnie's a great kid,” said Tye. “She makes it easy.”

Heat stirred inside Georigana when he neared her.

“I was brusque with you this morning, Georgie,” he said. “I apologize.”

“You weren't,” she countered quickly. She hadn't known what to make of his abrupt departure, but after he'd endured her crowding him in that small bed last night, she could hardly blame him for it “Last night, you were—amazing. More than I could ask for.”

“I left abruptly. It was no fault of yours. I need you to know that.”

She nodded. “Alright,” she whispered.

“Tye used to be quite the quick-tempered bad-boy in the early morning hours,” Fay spoke up. She was holding a handful of plates. Fay offered a pointed look to Tye, as if to say, just what were you up to this morning? “Weren't you, Tye?”

“Some days more than others,” Tye agreed evenly.

“Glad to see you're both here,” Edmund declared, entering the kitchen behind his brother. “Georgie, I'm happy to hear you and Tye had a night that was, uh...”

“He was a true gentleman,” Georgiana interjected with quiet firmness. She couldn't pull her eyes away from Tye. “Your brother always is with me.”

A grin spread across Edmund's face. He clapped Tye on the back. “Let's eat, shall we?”

They ate at the dinner table, trading stories about their lives with Fay and Edmund. Edmund asked about Tye's experience teaching Georgiana at Cambridge. Georgiana discreetly left out some details; Tye teasinngly embellished others. It was an easy, cheerful conversation. It felt as if they spent every Saturday enjoying breakfast with Edmund and Fay.

By mid morning it was time to say goodbye to the minister and his wife. She felt as if she was parting from family.

“We’ll see you again,” Fay promised, hugging her tight. “Next time Tye comes to town.”

“You can count on it,” Tye confirmed. His hand rested on Georgiana’s shoulder. “Ready?”

She was. Nonetheless, she still let out a wistful sigh when they drove away. She saw the house growing smaller in the rear view mirror.

Her visit with the Bertram’s felt a bit like going home again. She’d enjoyed the same open-hearted welcome that she would've had from Will and his family.

The drive back to Cambridge University passed swiftly. Somehow, quite accidentally, they stumbled on the one topic she’d been avoiding for the last twenty-four hours. Jim.

“I expect we'll arrive around eleven,” she said, checking her watch. “That’s enough time for me to shower and change before I meet—”

“Jim?” She watched neutrality, like a mask, descend over his face. “You’ve been together for a while. Sounds like things are getting serious between you two.”

“He isn't...this isn't...” her fingers knotted together, “I think some people have expectations about where Jim and I go from here, yes.”

He frowned. “Which people? Your brother?”

“No, no. Never Will.” She started toying with the seat belt strap that stretched across her chest. “Will’s tough on the guys I date. He's protective. The only boy Will never hesitated letting me date was Ewan. He considered Ewan harmless.” Memories surfaced. She added in a mumble, “that's pretty ironic considering Ewan was the only guy who...”

A frown twitched on Tye's mouth. “The only guy who what?”

Had she said that out loud? She hadn't meant to. “Nothing. So anyway, Will avoids asking questions about my love life. I think that's Lizzie's influence. She tries to give me the same privacy that she wanted at my age. I know that Lizzie's always available for me if I need to talk to someone, but she never presses me for information. The truth is that I haven't wanted to bring Jim to Pemberley. Jim's expectations are different. His parents divorced when he was young. I don't know if that has much to do with anything, but he moves so quickly when it comes to commitment. Or maybe I just move slowly. I couldn't believe he wanted me to meet his mother. She came to Cambridge for a long weekend.”

“What did you think of her?”

“I really liked her, actually. She's lovely. Very sweet. We did a tour of different Cambridge tea shops, just the two of us. I helped her pick out a tea cozy—it was this pretty blue print with a pear design.”

What am I doing, rambling on to him about Jim's mother and pears? She looked back to Tye. His expression remained impassive. The only marker of his thoughts was the tap of his fingers on the steering wheel.

“I bet you're just what she's hoping for in a daughter-in-law,” he said noncommittally.

“Something like that. On the last day of her visit, she hugged me and said she couldn't wait until I was part of her family.”

Tye's whistle was low. “Should I brace myself for a wedding invitation?”

“No. Absolutely not. Jim and I have broken up and gotten back together so many times. Sometimes he gets frustrated with me and ends it. Other times I feel unhappy or guilty about how things are going, and I pull away. The breaks only last a few weeks before he comes back to win me over again. Do--” her fingers knotted, “do you mind if we talk about this?”

“No.” His gaze shifted quickly to her. “I want to know how things are going for you.”

“In Jim's mind,” she said, “I think he really does believe we're meant to be together. He's convinced himself of it. It doesn't matter to him that we're so different. Our differences amuse him sometimes, and frustrate him other times. He tells me that he loves me. I feel guilty that I can't say the words back. I just...I don't think our relationship is moving at the pace Jim wants.”

“What about what you want? Look, Georgie, I barely know the guy.” His mouth tightened. “I only know what you put in your letters, but any guy you date has to respect what you want.”

“You saw Jim. What did you think of him?”

“The truth?” Something flashed in his eyes. “If you tell him not to do something and he doesn't stop immediately, he's never going to get on my good side.”

She started toying with her seat belt strap again. “He's not usually like that.”

“He should never be like that.”

“He isn’t, really, unless I'm around you.” Her words came softly. “He's jealous of you. He's jealous of our friendship, and he's jealous of your talent. I suppose most people are jealous of you. I don't know how you've coped with it all your life.”

“Coping,” he said, “is a relative term.”

She saw the grim amusement in his face. Perhaps that, too, was a self-defense mechanism.

“I feel so helpless with Jim,” she whispered. “I feel unfair to him. He wants to love me completely. I know if I let him try, he would do that, but—I can't. I just can't.”

“Georgie...”

“It was the same with my other serious boyfriend, Ewan. It ends with heartache, and it always feels like my fault.”

“You can't force yourself to feel something you don't. You're honest about it. There's a lot of bravery in that.”

There was a tremor in her smile. She doubted Jim would think her brave.

“What about you?” she dared. “What do you want?”

“A little peace is enough for me.”

“Did you have that in Canada?”

“Yeah,” he said softly. “Most of the time.”

Far too quickly, she saw the narrow road that led to her small, first floor flat.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Tye said, drawing the keys from the ignition.

She didn’t argue the offer. She wanted every moment she had with him, even these small, swift minutes that would lead up to her doorstep.

The landlord had done his best to shovel, but the short trip from the car to the front door was still difficult. Tye's fingers brushed hers, gently weaving their fingers together. Pale sunlight made the snowy path soggy, and the spots that were shoveled now had patches of ice.

By the time she reached the doorstep her cheeks stung from the cold, and her socks were soaked with ice water. The wind was picking up.

She didn't care. Tye was still with her, and he was holding her hand.

They were at the door. For a handful of moments, all they could do was look at each other touch. Cold wind swept around them, pushing through the weave of her coat. A violent shiver passed through her. Seeing it, Tye cursed and pulled her closer, drawing her into a hard hug.

“You should go in.” His breath was hot against her ear. “I don’t like seeing you freeze to death.”

She nestled against his chest. The wool knit of his coat tickled her cheek.

“Can’t help it,” she whispered. “I don’t know how to say goodbye.”

“That makes two of us.”

“When will you come back? Weeks? Months?”

“Months. Christmas, perhaps. The Palais seems intent on getting their money's worth out of me. I'm booked from spring to autumn."

“But….” She looked up. “Christmas? That's nearly a year.”

The stark look in his dark eyes said that was an optimistic guess. Her mouth pressed so tightly that she drained the color from her lips. He was leaving for his life in Europe. She would stay here and remain Georgie, the twenty-year-old Cambridge University student. The girl whose days were full of lecture halls, and library trips, coffee shops and late nights with her friends.

“Do you like it here?” he whispered.

She nodded miserably. She did love Cambridge. She loved her friends here, and her studies. She wouldn’t graduate until next spring. She still hated that their lives hadn't aligned yet. I can’t go ten months without you.

“I don’t want you to leave,” she said.

“I know. You have a life waiting for you here, sweetheart.” He leaned in, leaving a feather-soft kiss on her cheek. “You have to live it. Remember why it makes you happy.”

“Will you write to me while you’re away?”

He stepped back, offering her one last smile.

“Always.”


**


She entered the flat in a daze. Margaret Dashwood and her little dachshund Daily rushed towards her. Actually, Margaret rushed. Daily just skittered.

“Alright, Darcy, I've covered for you big time.” Margaret's bracelets jangled as she bent, scooping Daily up in her arms. “We’ve got fifteen minutes, tops, so you'd better spill. How was it?"

Georgiana peeled off her coat. She dropped it mindlessly on the couch before heading to the kitchen in a daze.

“Hmm?”

“Last night, Darce. You. Tye? I mean, even if you were chaperoned by his minister brother, you still--”

Georgiana’s fingers pushed up to her forehead. “I don’t have words for what it was like yet. Amazing, I think. Edmund and Fay weren't there overnight.”

By the time they reached the kitchen, Daily was wriggling in her arms. “Oh my gosh, what do you mean they weren't there overnight?”

“Edmund and Fay had to stay at a neighbor's house.”

“You were there overnight, alone with Tye Bertram? Wait, wait, why does that sweater look new?”

Habit made Georgiana move toward the coffee machine. Margaret had already made a fresh pot of coffee. It wasn’t until she reached for a cup that she bothered to look down at her arms. She’d dressed in her clothes from last night. That included Tye’s gray sweater. She'd forgotten to return it to him.

She took a deep breath. “Margaret…”

“No way.” Margaret set the dog down, then straightened. “No way, no way, no way. You slept with Tye Bertram?!”

“No, I—it wasn’t—that is—”

Watching Georgiana hesitate, Margaret’s jaw dropped open. “Oh my gosh, it's true!”

“No, it's not. We slept in the same bed, but that was accidental. I had a terrible dream and Tye comforted me. We fell asleep in the same bed. That's all. It was platonic. Nothing happened.”

Skepticism darted across Margaret’s pretty face. “Well, I doubt it was like waking up in the arms of your brother.”

A helpless laugh escaped Georgiana. It had been a whole universe away from waking up next to her brother.

“I just—Tye just left, and my head’s spinning, Margaret. I still have to figure out what I’m going to tell Jim when I see him this afternoon.”

“Well, you’d better figure it out, and fast, because Jim will be knocking on our door at any minute.”

“He'll what?”

“Right, okay.” Margaret squeezed Georgiana's shoulders. “Don't freak out. Your boyfriend woke me up from a sound sleep this morning by knocking on our door. He wanted to check in on you. He said he was making sure you got back from your dinner with Tye safely.”

Georgiana’s eyes squeezed shut. She couldn’t stand this. She hated secrets. Suddenly she felt like she had a mountain of them with Jim. “What did you tell him?”

“Well,” said Margaret, “I certainly didn’t tell him that you’d spent the night with Tye. I said you’d gone out for coffee and that he should come back later. He said he'd return, well, right around now, actually.”

“I can’t lie to Jim.” Georgiana shook her head. “He doesn't deserve that. I have to tell him what happened.”

“Ooh, Georgie, no. No, no, no. Just because I don’t go for sporty men doesn’t mean I’m blind to how how sporty men think.”

Her fingers twisted together. “Jim plays the violin.”

“Yeah, and rugby, and polo, and cricket. He’s a sports crazy meat-head who happens to be good at music. Sporty guys are very competitive, and very, very proud, especially when it comes to women. Maybe I should stay?”

“No. Jim and I have been together long enough. I need to have this conversation privately.”

A brisk knock on the door startled both girls.

“That’ll be him,” said Margaret. “Are you sure you want to have this conversation alone, Georgie?”

Her palms were slick. “Of course. Could you let him in? I hate to make you leave on such a snowy day, but--”

“No, it's fine. I've been snowbound for hours. I guess if I were breaking up with my boyfriend, I wouldn't want an audience. Come on, Daily, the café down the street is dog-friendly. Let’s go for a walk.”

Georgiana remained in the kitchen, waiting nervously. She could hear Margaret’s idle chatter and Jim’s stiff replies. The door shut. Margaret left.

The sound that followed was the rhythm of Jim’s rubber soles against the floor. He appeared in the doorway, looking windswept. His cheeks were ruddy from the cold.

He never wore a heavy winter coat. Today was no different. He sported khakis and a zip-up jacket, one more suited to a summer cricket match than a February snowstorm.

“Hey…” She tried to smile for him. “I thought we said we’d meet for lunch?”

“I didn’t want to wait.” He unzipped his coat, draping it over a nearby kitchen chair. He wore a green polo shirt beneath it. His palms leaned against the chair. “Where were you this morning? Out for coffee, Margaret said.”

Her forced smile vanished. Whatever you say, don’t break his heart, she told herself.

“I’m not sure why she told you that. She just didn’t want to get in between things, I think.”

“In between you and me? Or me and Bertram?”

Her nervous fingers started touching her hair, pushing it back behind her ears. “Jim...I don't, I've never--”

“Just spit it out, Georgie. Where were you this morning?” Anger flashed in his eyes. “Were you with him?”

“I'm going to explain this, Jim, and I'm going to tell you the truth, but you have to stay calm. Last night, I told you that Tye and I were going to Tye's brother’s house. It was going to be a family dinner: Tye, Edmund, Edmund's wife, plus me. The snowstorm blew in so quickly that by suppertime it wasn’t safe to drive back.”

“So you spent the night with him.”

“I spent the night at his brother's house. Tye was there, yes.”

“Plus that brother of his, and the brother's wife,” Jim grumbled.

“Um..actually,” she tried to keep her nervous voice steady, “Edmund and Fay had to stay at a neighbor's house.”

“They did what?”

“Okay, but Tye was a gentleman with me. You have to trust me on that.”

“Trust you?” He spat the words.

“Tye is my friend. I don’t want to stand here in the kitchen and fight like a pair of strangers. Maybe we should go into the living room and--”

“Don’t lecture me, Georgiana,” he said sharply. “Kitchen, living room, it won’t make a damned bit of difference where we talk.” The chair rattled as his stocky frame straightened. He pushed away from the table. “You had sex with Bertram quickly enough, though you've never slept with me.”

Her hands clenched. “I did not have sex with Tye Bertram.”

“What was it about him, Georgiana? Does he meet the expectations of a Darcy heiress? Does a guy have to be the son of an Earl for you to take your top off for him?”

“I don’t deserve that comment,” she said coldly. “No matter how mad you are, you don't have the right to talk to me that way. I'm telling you the truth, Jim. If you continue to speak to me like that, you can leave.”

“I don't need to leave.” Jim started pacing. “Bertram has a reputation. Any woman he wanted, he got.”

“Tye hasn’t been like that in years, and he’s never been that way with me. Yes, I went to dinner with him. Yes, we slept in the same---place--” she couldn’t bring herself to say the same bed. The detail would make Jim explode. She'd told him the hard truths. The finer details of the story would make no difference. “Tye's my friend, Jim. I've known him for years. I trust him with my life. His brother is a minister. If you need someone to vouch for my good character, surely the word of a clergyman is sufficient.”

Jim's sturdy arms crossed. His square jaw tightened. “It would be, if you said that you love me.”

The comment stopped her cold. Jim’s brows lifted.

“You know,” he said, spreading his arms wide in surrender, “I thought it was your parents, Georgie. I thought that was why you couldn't say it. I told myself it would happen between us. Months passed and it never did.”

She shook her head. A knot was building in her throat. “I’m sorry, Jim.”

“I don’t need your tears. It’s obvious who you want, and it isn’t me.”

Guilt and sorrow made it impossible to mount her own defense. “We’re not—I’m not with Tye. I don’t know that I ever will be. I told you he was a gentleman with me, and that's the truth. He's never given me any promises or expectations. He's never even kissed me properly.”

“You know,” Jim said coldly, “I didn't want to believe that. The look on your face, though...it is the truth, isn't it? He didn't tell you that he wants you. Not once. Never made a real move on you. Never tried to kiss you properly. That bothers you, doesn't it?”

She rubbed her palm over her nose. It was growing hot from unshed tears. “This isn’t about Tye, Jim. You and I would be having this conversation, even if I'd never met Tye. The problem isn't you and Tye or me and Tye. The problem is between you and me.”

Jim’s nostrils flared. “Why don't you tell me what the problem between us is?”

“I tried to love you.” Her voice shook. Her nervous hand clutched at her stomach. “I tried so many times. You were so kind with me, Jim, and so persistent.”

“Kind?” He scoffed. “Georgie, I wanted to marry you.”

“I wouldn’t make you happy. We both know that.” Her eyes met his. “We’re too different. That's why we kept breaking up. The only thing that's keeping us together is kindness and physical attraction.”

At last, some hint of the kindness she’d known from him entered Jim's eyes.

“There was that at least, wasn’t there?” he whispered. “The attraction?”

She nodded. What she'd felt with Jim was different from Tye. With Tye, it was a lightning hot force. It had never been like that around Jim, but yes, she'd been attracted to him.

“Of course there was,” she said, “but attraction's not the same as love.”

"We have music in common,” Jim reminded her.

“I know, but…” she gestured helplessly, “it’s not enough to build a life on.”

“Music's your whole life, Georgie!”

“But it’s not your whole life,” she shot back. “You told me yourself that you only started the violin because your grandfather forced you to. You only chose to study music at Cambridge to make him happy, and the longer you and I were a couple, the more I saw how true that was. You don't love music, Jim. Most days, you don't even like it.”

"I'm not brilliant," Jim sneered, "not like you and Bertram."

"That’s not what I mean.” She shook her head. “Forget academics. The last time we broke up, you broke up with me. I didn't fight that decision. A few weeks later, you came back and asked me to reconsider. Why?"

“I need a reason?” His hands flew up. "I missed you!"

"No. I mean, maybe that was part of it, but that’s not the whole reason. You always want me most when you can't have me. The further I pull away, the more you insist that you need me. When I was right in front of you, we never had anything to talk about. We don't have any of the same interests. We don't understand each other, Jim. You always grew bored and frustrated with me."

"That's not fair.” His neck was growing red. “You can't complain about my frustrations. I had every right feel frustrated around you. I'm twenty-one. I'm a grown man. We're in an adult relationship. It's not unusual for me to expect you to have sex with me, Georgiana."

Her expression grew pinched. "And I had the right to say no."

"I listened, didn't I? I didn't push it."

"Of course.” She reached for his arms. “I'm not saying you would, Jim. I’m not saying that you're not a good man--"

"So what are you saying?"

“I'm saying that this isn't just about sex. "

Irony colored his laugh. "What sex? I never even asked you why you didn't want it with me."

"No, you didn't ask why." She should have explained it to him. He should have been curious enough about her heart to ask. He'd simply dropped the matter and let frustration build up between them. "We've never been transparent with each other about our needs because we didn’t want to hurt each other, but that’s not…healthy. Couples should be able to talk about those things. We can't communicate. We don’t understand each other.”

He shook his head. “You don’t want me.”

“I don’t think you want me either,” she said helplessly. “You're happiest when you're at a crowded party. You love having tons of friends, and you love being active—you play football, rugby, cricket, and hockey, tennis in summer, skiing in winter. That's not my life. I love libraries, Jim, and history, and quiet afternoons at my piano---"

"You never gave what I liked a fair chance. There are other parties we can go to, other sports we can try--"

"We can't," her hands squeezed his in frustration, "talk to each other. You look bored when I discuss any of my interests with you. I feel lost when you try to pull me into yours. We aren't suited for each other. That's not your fault, or my fault, or anyone’s fault. It's just the way it is. I want you to know that I care for you, Jim. The longer you're with me, though, the longer you're missing out on being with someone who can give you all the things you deserve."

“That’s supposed to make me feel better, huh?” Jim tugged his arm from hers. Wounded pride surfaced on his face. “I know what I saw between you and Bertram. I saw the way he looked at you. The two of you are bound to happen eventually. Just know I won't be standing around waiting for you when he's through with you.”

He snapped up his jacket and stormed off. She heard the front door rattle shut. Then she sank into the kitchen chair and told her body to stop shaking.

There had been moments in that conversation when she truly thought she'd shattered Jim. It didn't matter how logical her arguments were, that break-up had hurt. Jim's affection for her had been real, even if the love he'd imagined for them hadn't been. Staying with him for even one day longer would have been a terrible mistake. Maybe he hadn't wanted to hear everything she'd tried to tell him but she hoped one day, when he met someone he truly loved, he'd understand it.

Despite how shaken and sorrowful she felt, she knew the tears that came weren't only for Jim. Her hottest tears were for the man who'd kissed her cheek and promised to write her. Another year of waiting.

“Darce.” That was Margaret's voice. She'd returned. Georgiana could hear Daily's nails scratching against the kitchen floor. The small dog hurried to Georgiana, nestling against her ankles. Margaret pulled a chair up beside her. Georgiana sighed, letting her head rest against Margaret's shoulder.

“How bad was it?” asked Margaret.

“Pretty bad,” Georgiana whispered.

“I'm sorry. Breakups suck. I should know, I've done enough of them. Sometimes it's worse, being the dumper. If you're the one who got dumped, then at least you've got the whole righteous anger angle going for you. If you're the dumper, you just end up feeling like a jerk, even if you know you're right. And you were right to break up with Jim, Georgie. If it's any consolation, Jim won't spread rumors about you and Tye. Jim's too proud for that. He'd never want the rest of the guys in the university to know that you dumped him. He definitely won't start telling people you dumped him for Tye. It'd be bad for his street cred. If anything, Jim will tell everyone he dumped you.”

Georgiana drew back, shrugging apathetically. She didn't care what Jim said about her, as long as he left Tye out of it. “There won't be any rumors about me and Tye. I won't see Tye for nearly a year.”

Margaret reached for a small white paper bag. It was emblazoned with the name of the coffee shop she'd just visited. She pulled out two enormous pastries, handing Georgiana one. “I had to get something while I was in that coffee shop and I thought you could use this. The cure-all for any breakup is sugar.”

Georgiana managed to crack a half-smile. She'd be lost without her best friend. Thank you, Lord, for Margaret Dashwood.

“Back to Tye. What did happen between the two of you? And don't say it was nothing. You practically floated in here earlier. Something happened.”

Slowly, while digging into the pastry, Georgiana recounted details of the last day. Margaret received all of this with remarkable placidity--excluding one wide-eyed interruption when she described her morning with Tye in bed.

“So you had Tye Bertram shirtless and nearly on top of you,” Margaret said, rubbing her fingers together to brush the sugar from them. “And then what happened?”

“Well, he...” Georgiana leaned back in her chair, contemplating the moment. “He left.”

Margaret's eyebrows rose. “Left?”

Georgiana nodded.

“What does that mean?” said Margaret.

It had all come to pass so quickly, she hadn't let herself analyze it. She summoned the details in her mind. She remembered how tenderly he'd touched her hip, and how low his voice had been. She remembered the way his gaze sharpened as it moved up her body. She'd been embarrassed because of her gaping shirt. She remembered his hard, shuddering breath. He'd left swiftly afterward.

And then the plain truth hit her.

It wasn't embarrassment that prompted him to leave her room. It was desire.

She wasn't usually this idiotic when it came to men. She'd certainly had plenty of stupid moments around Ewan or Jim, but she wasn't usually this blind. When Tye warned her against touching him last night, she'd interpreted that as a casual, platonic request—the equivalent of don't muss up my hair, pal, or don't tug at my tie. Not a warning against stirring a physical reaction in him.

That's what it had been. A warning. He defends me. He protects me. He brought me to meet his brother. He held me last night when I needed him

He'd called her beautiful. He'd kissed her cheek.

They were friends, but this wasn't simply a friendly relationship anymore. What they were building between them was as complex as it was serious. Even if they couldn't say it yet, or give into it, those feelings were there between them. Why hadn't she realized it last night, or this morning?

She'd never really expected anything beyond platonic affection from him. Given their history, doubtless he hadn't expected it, either.

Her own feelings for him had clouded her from truly seeing his. Maybe he wasn't ready to acknowledge it. Maybe, deep down, she wasn't quite ready either. Whatever they had, when it finally happened, would be life altering. This separation was lengthy, but it wouldn't last forever. He wanted her to enjoy her time here and all the small, wonderful joys that came with university life. She wanted him to enjoy Paris.

“It means,” she said at last, “that he'll come back to me.”
SubjectAuthorPosted

Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

BernadetteEJuly 17, 2017 06:12AM

Re: Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

RahmiJuly 19, 2017 04:38PM

Re: Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

Beth VMJuly 18, 2017 05:11PM

Re: Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

KateBJuly 18, 2017 06:03AM

Re: Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

NickiJuly 17, 2017 10:42PM

Re: Love's Adagio: Chapter 5 Part 2

MarciJuly 17, 2017 04:19PM



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