Chapter XXXII

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Even in the darkness of the grand church the simple touch of his hand was easy to recognize before opening my eyes from my prayers

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Even in the darkness of the grand church the simple touch of his hand was easy to recognize before opening my eyes from my prayers. It was not Joseph who had sent me the note but the deceitful, "Mr. Howard?" He knelt beside me so closely his shoulders brushed against mine so I closed my eyes and continued in my praying stance.

"I mean Earl Bridgeston," forgetting he was not my master I adjusted my tone.

"By God it seems they trained you well, Lady Alice," he said with a mocking tone.

"Sir why are you here?"

"The polite thing would be to ask how I am Alice; or did you not learn any manners when you were out in the country?"

"How are you today my lord?" I obliged him with proper small talk though calling him m'lord in the Lord's house sounded like blasphemy.

"Come Alice," he got up but I stayed rooted in place, "follow me before someone sees us."

Forced by sense I followed him when he walked away from the seating of the church through the first door he could find which happened to be a small choir room.

"Sir is everything alright?"

"I have seen better days," he answered locking the door behind us and closing the curtains on the windows which left us with little light in the room from the common winter grey London sky.

"Is something the matter sir?" He stopped with his back to me towards the curtains he had closed and I stepped towards him to find what had taken place for this abrupt call.

"Yes, I have missed it," he said and I took another step towards him, "I have missed it when I was better."

"When you were better sir? You are not making any sense."

"I know, but I was better with you, when I was this close to you," I slowly looked up at his hypnotizing and unmistakable eyes and we were indeed too close.

What could I say to that statement? Why could I not stop my heart from growing inside my chest? It was a hopeless fight against my wishes.

"Sir why are you here?" I struggled with the words.

"I had to see you."

"Then you have seen me, now I must go before someone catches us," I tried moving but he put his hands on my waist.

"Catches us? To hear your fears, that expression coming from your mouth."

"Stop talking this way, my fears are not something to relish on and last night what were you thinking? You were completely..." I tried pushing his hands away but he pressed them further into me.

"Mad? Maybe, but God I have missed looking at your perfect face every day."

"You need to stop this now!"

"Why? When all I want is to kiss you? Or maybe I need it, the difference between the both are quite lost on me lately."

"Do not kiss me sir, please do not kiss me again, we cannot repeat the past."

He stopped when he heard my plea, "is it really what you want?"

"Please."

"Are you telling me I have kissed you against your will other times?"

"No that is not what I said."

"Were you being true to me when we kissed?"

"I will not speak of truth to someone who cannot begin to know its meaning! So why are you here? I only came because I thought the letter was from Joseph if I knew it was you..."

"Joseph? You have been corresponding with my son?"

"I have not but..."

It was the flowers that made me assume it was Joseph, but how wrong I had been, if I had only noticed the flowers were not likely to be picked by Joseph I would have stayed at home.

"If you thought it was my son then why did you come? Why would he need to see you at once?"

"I owe you no explanations."

"Tell me what Joseph has done or I will go at once and ask him myself!"

"He almost kissed me at dinner and I had to talk to him."

"What? How dare he! And how have you two gotten so close? Wait... Has he proposed again?"

"Yes."

"So you want him then? You want to marry my son!" He shouted.

"No sir, I want nothing to do with anything that comes from you."

"You are playing a game with me Alice!" He pulled me by the hand to look closer at him though I could not begin to think how I was the one playing with him, how could he see it that way?

"I am not the guilty one sir! You should remember you are the one who lured me here!" I said with my head held high like his.

"What else was I to do? I promised you my revenge," holding my hand he put it behind me and brought me closer to his body reminding me of his promised revenge when I left him.

"Leave me be sir."

"Promise me to not accept Joseph's proposal and I will forget about what you did to me when I needed you the most."

"Needed me? For what? Like we need to food to consume and forget about it the minute we are done? No you did not need me, not in your heart, and I will never make a promise to a cunning man as yourself."

"Alice do not take that tone with me," his lips parted and crept up near my mouth.

"And you will not make this transgression, I am honorable and I will not be drawn anymore by you to dishonor my convictions," I turned my face and he closed his eyes talking in my ear.

"I know you will not, I know how honorable you are, your convictions are true and your heart spotless. Do not for a second assume I do not know your character Alice for it is the very reason why I have chased you to the end of the world."

"Let me go Mr. Howard." My voice whimpered and I was paper thin wishing to be crumbled no more by his power or exalted by his words, the only words that filled and made sense of me.

"Ah there you are, the Alice that calls me Mr. Howard is here," his breath touched my cheeks.















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Copyright: All Rights Reserved to A. Sena Gomes.

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