Being a novel, all characters, events, dialogue and representations are fictional ... and in no way are meant to represent any real or living persons or events... except the few annual events that are used to move me through time. The opinions expressed are my own, and not necessarily those of my author. And the story is copyrighted, by my author of course. Oh, and from time to time I may include some real time events to keep the blog more authentic. Comments and suggestions will be appreciated and seriously considered as the story moves along.

If you are just joining us, start with the Prologue and Chapter One on March 1, 2011, in the Archives.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chapter 59

Chapter 59
   I couldn’t imagine where he was taking me Saturday night ... or I could, actually, envisioning both the fancy steakhouse on Slide Road, and the Lubbock Country Club’s formal dining room. I thought they had dancing on the weekends, didn’t they? I love dancing. Is he a member? I didn’t think so, but he probably knows someone who is, or Monsignor Fitzpatrick does. 
   Now, what to wear? There wasn’t time to shop in Dallas, and Lubbock’s limited shopping scene didn’t offer a wide variety of formal wear. Maybe I’d pull out that red evening gown I wore two years ago for the Bishop’s Annual Charity Christmas Ball in Dallas. It might work. I knew I needed to talk with Sharon.
   Indeed it did work nicely, and I was decked out in sleek deep red, complete with matching stole to keep my bare shoulders from freezing. Piling my hair up, I donned my favorite ruby earrings, but agreed with Sharon a necklace would spoil the effect of the low, strapless gown. Besides who owned ruby necklaces anyway?
   Much less than buxom, I liked the way the empire waist on the dress pressed upward to give me a rather impressive cleavage, even if it wasn’t natural. I could cover it with the wrap if it wasn’t appropriate for the surprise destination, but after all, I’d worn this for the bishop’s gala.  And he wasn’t scandalized in the least. 
  When Colin arrived, flowers in hand, he whistled and kissed me in gratitude. He was dressed in a dark suit and stylish black turtleneck sweater, and looked every bit the part of the dashing, handsome hero. My heart melted and I knew the night would be special. Hope he’s washed the truck, I thought. When he walked me outside, I stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of a streamlined silver limousine parked at my curb.
“Your carriage, m’lady,” he grinned as the chauffeur opened the door for us and bowed. Yes, this definitely was going to be a special night. 
   I was so taken with the luxury of the limo, the wine he offered and the soft classical music playing in our private “carriage,” I hadn’t noticed our direction. After about 20 minutes, I peeked outside. A sliver of moon was rising, and I could tell we were out of the city, but where? 
   Another 15 minutes and I had her answer. We pulled into the broad circular driveway of the area’s newest resort, the LakeView Grand, a multimillion dollar project on the shores of Buffalo Lake, southeast of Lubbock. I’d read about it — the grand opening was last month — but hadn’t visited or tried their cuisine. I was excited and pleased at his choice of elegance.
   As I climbed out of the limo, I held a Christmas gift for him wrapped in shiny gold paper with a big red bow. I knew this was the only time we would have to exchange presents because I was leaving for Dallas early today. In fact, I am in Dallas now. We hadn’t discussed gifts, though, and as I realized, maybe we should have. Looking around the limo, I saw no present for me. Oh, well, I thought, tonight will be present enough. 
   Dazzling was the first word I thought when we entered the hotel lobby. Large crystal chandeliers graced the high ceilings, and sophisticated decor and furnishings filled the grand foyer. Not a Southwest motif in sight! Watch out, Dallas — West Texas is catching on to elegance!
   Dinner proved worthy of equal praise, and we ate slowly, enjoying each other’s company, drinking copious amounts of wine and dancing to the string orchestra, made up mainly of Tech music students earning extra cash. The crowded dance floor allowed him to hold me tight and nibble my ear from time to time, and shivers of excitement pulsed through me at every touch. I never remembered feeling this feminine or cherished.
   Finally exhausted and giddy with excitement and love for this man, I handed him his Christmas gift when we returned to our table. had delivered a newly released, and rather expensive book on early 1900s furniture maker Gustav Stickley, and I hoped Colin would enjoy it. Also included was a DVD of a different genre.
   Handing the package to him, I said, “I’ve brought you a Christmas present.”
He looked at his watch and smiled, saying, “I’ll open it after dessert.” He stood up, and took my hand. “I’ve arranged for us to have a little more privacy. Do you mind?”
Mind? I thought happily. The man is romancing me with class and style, and he wonders if I mind. “Not at all,” I said, gathering my evening bag, wrap and his gift and walking with him to the elevator. The wine made my head spin slightly, and I grabbed his arm, giggling a little as I wondered where we were headed. At this point, I decided I didn’t care where, as long as it was with him. Was this how Cinderella felt before midnight?
   On the top floor, the elevator doors opened and Colin led me down the hall, pulling a hotel key from his pocket. He opened the door, bowing for me to enter. I hesitated. A suite? He’s taken a suite? Then I saw a white-draped table sitting with lighted candles, a bouquet of flowers matching those he’d given me at home and two places set with dessert and wine. 
   I fairly floated in, turning left as I noticed the floor-to-ceiling windows. Just beyond, a wide balcony extended out over the lake, and the moon, now high in the star-filled  cloudless sky, glimmered in reflection across the black water. 
  I turned as he came in and threw my arms around him, kissing him hard. He responded in kind but stopped, then let me go to close the door. I walked unsteadily toward the table. “Colin, this is marvelous! What a wonderful surprise, even without the Queen of England!” 
  He laughed and moved up behind me, turning me and kissing me again, moving his hands down and across my back, pressing me to him. 
  I took his kiss and returned it but pulled away a moment later, saying, “What’s for dessert? I’m famished!” 
  He laughed again and seated me at the table. “After that huge lobster? We’re having a strawberry and cheesecake thing ... I have no idea of the name, but the chef assures me it’s his best.  More wine?”
“Yes,” I said as I took a hungry bite of cheesecake, closing my eyes to the delicious flavor bursting in my mouth. Swallowing after savoring, I said, “All that dancing made me hungry again! You’re pretty light on your feet, Professor Murphy. We must do this more often ... dance I mean. It was fun! Wonder if the Cotton Club is still around. Can you boot scoot?” I took a second bite, washing it down with the smooth white wine in perfect complement. 
Colin sat and watched my delight, nodding yes, he could boot scoot. “We did. Remember? At the hand-harvest?” he asked.
   “Oh, yeah. Too much of this grape juice ‘mudfuddles’ my brain. Good!” I said with a mouthful of cheesecake.
  “Mudfuddles?” Colin asked.
  “Jabberwickety, or sump’en like that...” was all I said. When I couldn’t eat another bite, I stood up carefully and wobbled out onto the balcony. He followed, wrapping his coat around my bare shoulders. “Been a perfect night, Murphy. Thank you.”
   “You’re welcome, Maggie. I’ve missed you. It’s been too long since we’ve been alone. I wanted it to be special.” He turned me towards him and held me tightly. I sighed, looking into the emeralds and believing I was a princess and he, my handsome Prince Charming. A girl never gets too old for that dream, does she? 
   He kissed me gently, and I moved my hands up around his neck, pulling him closer. He whispered in my ear, “I’ve wanted you so much, Maggie. I can’t explain it, but I have this need for you.” Now kissing me hard, I returned the intensity, pressing against him, wanting him, needing him, too. The coat fell to the ground, but neither of us noticed. 
   He does love me, I thought as he wildly kissed my neck and shoulders. I whispered, “I never thought ...” but my words ended as he covered my mouth with his again, reaching, exploring, testing my willingness. I lost myself in him, pulling him even closer, trying to meld our bodies. 
   “Oh, Maggie,” he said, as I sighed under the kisses. “I didn’t want to want you. I ...” His hand moved down below the small of my back and I jolted slightly. He stopped and said, “You’re cold. Let’s go inside.” I turned and went in to the table, finding my wine glass and draining it. 
   Whoa, Maggie, I thought to myself. You’re getting way ahead of yourself. You’d better call it a night and head home. Way too many smashed grapes and romancing.
   Colin had gone to the bar and opened a drawer, picking something up. He come over to me, taking my hand. “Maggie, come sit with me.” I obliged, thinking I really needed to ask him to take me home. Maybe a few more minutes for Cinderella — it wasn’t quite midnight. We sat together on the wide plush sofa in the living area. He cleared his throat, and turned to me. “Maggie, I’ve been a player all my life. I’ve had my share of women over the years.”
“I’ll bet you have, Murphy,” I said giddily. 
   “I have, but I’ve never wanted a woman the way I want you.”
  I was suddenly very sober. He wants me? I thought. What’s he saying? He wants me. My heart was in my throat as I looked at him with love, struggling to understand his words. 
   “I hope you want me too, and I thought, well, I thought it was time we moved this relationship a little further.” He held up a small velvet box.
  Oh, help, I thought. He’s proposing? He is! He does love me ... he does want to marry me. I took the box from him and reached over, putting my arms tight around his neck, kissing him with love and abandon. He responded in kind, and somehow within the flick of an eye I was lying on the couch, Colin half on top of me, kissing me over and over, telling me how much he wanted me. I was returning the kisses, wrapped in the passion of the moment, in my happiness and the promise of tomorrow. He kissed the nape of my neck and I wound my hands into his long black hair. “Maggie, I want you, I want you.” 
   I laughed and said, “You’ve got me, my darling ...” He kissed me again, and again, moving down and kissing the hollow of my cleavage. My head was swimming with wine and desire. He shifted slightly, reaching up to move the dress down so he could suckle my breast. 
   I was slightly shocked, and said, “No, Colin, don’t do that.” He didn’t hear, and pulled the gown down, exposing one breast, moving to take it into his mouth. 
   “No!” I said louder, trying to push him off, trying to sit up. “NO! Stop!”
He did stop, and looked at me in surprise. “Why?” he said, bewildered. He moved to let me sit up. I straightened my dress and looked at him in equal surprise. 
“Why? Because that kind of passion will have to wait for the wedding night, my darling.”
“We .. wedding night!” He stammered, standing up and moving away as if he’d been burned. “What... what wedding night?”
   My mouth fell open and I looked at him, unbelieving. Narrowing my eyes, I quietly said, “Didn’t you just ask me to marry you?” He shook his head slightly, his eyes wide, his mind furiously replaying the last few minutes. 
   “Then what’s this?” I said reaching to the floor for the fallen velvet box. 
   “It’s ... it’s diamond earrings. What did you ... you thought I was proposing? That it’s a ring? Good God, Maggie, I wasn’t proposing, I was asking you to be my lady ... my ... I want you. I want to take you to my bed.” He moved toward me, hand out, but it was my turn to stand up and move away. 
  He looked at me, frowned and said firmly, “That’s what I was asking—to bed you, Maggie. I’m not the marrying kind. You know that.” 
        I turned my back to him and clutched my stomach. How could this have happened?! 
       He ran his hand through his hair and looked at me helplessly. “Oh, Lord.”
   I was dumbfounded. He knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t be intimate without marriage. Or did he? We’d never talked about it. I just assumed he would know that about me. Didn’t he know me at all? How could he not know?
He wanted me to be his “lady”? Like the “lady” at La Diosa? He thought if he gave me diamonds I would give myself to him? ... Just like that? 
   I was humiliated and more hurt than I thought possible. And furious he thought so little of me as to want only to add me to his stable of “ladies.” Damn those fucking green eyes, I thought angrily. With my back still to him, I walked to the table and put the velvet box, unopened, on top of the shiny gold paper, gathering my things before I walked out the door. 
   “Maggie, please don’t go. I ...” 
        I closed the door quietly behind me. 
Chapter 60
   Colin woke up the next morning with a monster headache. He found himself lying across the top of the luxurious resort bed, still completely dressed, and very much alone except for a gigantic hangover. After Maggie had left, he’d downed the remainder of the wine, miserable in his bewilderment of how he’d misjudged her so badly. 
   Marriage? he thought. She had to be kidding. Her best friends, Sharon and Doug ... they weren’t married. And she was obviously all right with that. 
   Yes, he wanted her, but he wasn’t the marrying kind. She knew that, didn’t she? The look in her eyes when he’d said that ... she was so hurt ... she’d turned her back on him. 
  But he was so sure she was ready for the next step ... ready for intimacy, for sex. She kissed him with such passion. It had been a long time since he’d been kissed like that. She had to have been ready ... he certainly was. 
   They’d moved slower in their relationship than he’d ever moved with any woman in his entire life. Six months he’d been seeing her, and only her, except for one disastrous hollow dinner with Dixie. Six months, and nothing more than a few passionate kisses. 
  He was a man, after all. Six months was forever. How could he have misread her so badly? He must really be getting old. 
   Colin showered and changed, head feeling like cotton. The day before, he’d brought a change of clothes to the resort, along with the earrings, the flowers and explicit instructions for the suite setup. 
   Now what? he thought as he gathered his few belongings. Picking up the velvet box, he opened it, staring at the teardrop-shaped diamond earrings. He’d given diamonds before and the women had always been more than grateful. He touched them tenderly, thinking how lovely they would have looked against her pale skin. She’d been so beautiful last night, and they’d had such a perfect evening. Dinner, the dancing, the wine. The perfect prelude to what he thought would be an amazing night of intimacy. 
   He closed the box and slipped it into his pocket. Next he picked up the present she’d brought. Opening it, he smiled ruefully — she’d taken care to give him two gifts he would really appreciate — she’d obviously put a lot of thought into them. The DVD was the 1939 classic Dick Tracy’s G-Men. He opened the cover of the expensive Stickley book and found the inscription. “To Professor Murphy. With love, Maggie.” Love. Had she said she loved him? She must love him if she was thinking wedding bells. She hadn’t even looked at the diamonds.  
   Back in Lubbock, Colin was too preoccupied to participate in the final morning Mass. He stood up and sat down and kneeled along with the congregation, but didn’t go up to Communion, or recite any of the liturgy. And as far as he was concerned, Sean had preached about the man in the moon. He was too confused and miserable to concentrate. 
   Seated afterward in his brother’s church office, Colin started by handing Sean the small velvet box. Sean’s face lit up. 
   “You’re proposing? That’s great! I get to officiate, don’t I? Mom will be so happy!”
   Colin was horrified all over again, “No, Sean, no. I didn’t propose. Open it.”
   Puzzled, Sean opened the box, looking at his brother in surprise. “Didn’t? Uh-oh. She’s seen these? Does she like diamonds? Doesn’t seem the diamond type to me.”
It was Colin’s turn to be puzzled. “I’ve no idea. All women like diamonds, don’t they?”
   “No, big brother. Not all women like diamonds. How’d this go over with her? Obviously not well if I’m holding them now and you’re looking utterly awful. What happened?”
“I tried to give them to her last night. Did the whole romance thing ... you know limo, dinner, dancing, dessert up in a suite.” 
   Sean closed the box abruptly, put it on his desk, and leaned back looking accusingly at his brother. He said flatly,“You took Margaret Grant to a suite?”
“Yes, I took her to a suite,” Colin answered defensively. “I’ve been seeing her exclusively for half a year. Being gentle, like you said, for six months. It was the next step. And she shoved it back in my face, so to speak. Walked out. I just wanted to take the next step with her.” 
   “And sleep with her?” Sean asked.
“For God’s sake Sean, we’re consenting adults. Of course I wanted to sleep with her.” 
   Father Sean shook his head and looked sadly at his brother. “The next step with a woman like Maggie Grant is marriage, you idiot.”

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