Chapter 13: Wedding Night
“Stop fussing!” Tom said to Grace as she attempted to straighten his collar again, teetering on her tip toes to do so.
“You want to look nice, don’t you?”
Did he? Did it honestly matter what he looked like on his wedding day? Getting through it was the main thing. Getting through it without losing his courage and looking a fool in front of everyone.
“Meggie will be looking nice for you, in her best dress. You should look nice for her.”
Tom realized he had not given his bride one thought this morning. He had woken early with an enormous erection and it had not been his bride who had filled his head as he found his ease. He thought of the reeds and a spring breeze, soft skin and generous lips.
Tonight Meggie would be in his bed, he’d think about her then. Until the point he became a married man he would let his head be filled with the woman he couldn’t have, the one who made him strain against his breeches as soon as he thought of her. The mother of his unborn child. The child who would never know him. Never mind, Meggie would give him plenty who would know him. Would he ever feel about them the way he was starting to feel about the first, though? As if he wanted to hold it and protect it and be there to hear it say ‘papa’.
“When is Ben arriving?” Grace asked, tapping his tie and pressing her hands across his collars.
“As soon as the farm is sorted. He promised to get up early so it would all be done.”
“Have you eaten?”
“You can’t get married with no food inside you. You’re not nervous surely? This is the most exciting day of your life.”
“I’m no eighteen year old daydreaming girl, Grace.”
“Well Meggie is, so make it special for her. You do love her, don’t you? ‘Tis a terrible crime to marry without love.”
“Marriage is not about love, Grace, and when you grow older you will come to acknowledge that. Marriage is about finding someone you can build a life with, breed children.”
“Don’t let Meggie hear you say that.”
“She doesn’t love me.”
“Maybe not, but at the moment she has made herself believe so. No woman would give herself otherwise. I won’t marry until I find love.”
“Then you may never marry.”
“So be it. I shall become housekeeper to the Gregorys and be called a Mrs anyway, all housekeepers are.”
“You would give up your life to wait on others?”
“At least I’d be paid for it, unlike waiting on a husband. Now, you make sure Meggie feels the most special girl in the world today, if it’s the last thing you do.”
Grace went to the kitchen. Tom followed and seated himself at the table whilst his sister disappeared into the larder to look for food to serve him. In the end she presented him with a hunk of bread and a jar of their mother’s homemade raspberry jam.
“You need a woman around Tom! I’ve never seen a kitchen so desolate! There are more workman’s tools here than cooking equipment!”
There was a knock at the kitchen door, Grace opened it to Ben and threw herself into his arms. The two rarely saw each other and Grace was fond of both of her brothers.
“How are you Ben?”
“Better for seeing you Gracie. They let you off then?”
“They couldn’t really refuse as in the summer Amy was allowed off to a cousin’s wedding. A cousin! Not even a brother. They weren’t best pleased though as there’s some enormous party happening this weekend.”
“Some baronet and his crowd, they are desperate to get a proposal out of him for Miss Phoebe. It’s getting a bit embarrassing truth be told.”
“I suppose everyone is there then – all the family?”
“Yes, that’s why it’s so busy.”
“The eldest girl is wed, isn’t she?” he asked, feigning disinterest.
“Yes,” Grace lowered her voice, “but he’s no good if you ask me. He sent her back here as soon as she was with child. Said it was for her good but people say it’s so he can carry on as he likes in town with her money.”
“He’s no good?” Tom shivered. This would be the man his child would call father. The man his child would rely on to learn right from wrong, to be supported by financially and emotionally.