A Gentlemen's Valentine for a LadybySuperHeroRalph©
This is a Valentine's Day contest story. Please vote.
A woman fantasizes about living in the romantic Victorian Era
With Valentine's Day nearly over, having received the usual and expected Valentine's card, flowers, and candy, before being taken out to dinner, Susan planned to snuggle in bed with her book and a glass of wine hoping to get lost in a romantic fantasy. Even after all the attention and affection her husband paid her on her special day of love and romance, she couldn't help but feel that there was something missing. She berated herself. With so many people divorced, widowed, and otherwise alone, at least, she still had her husband in her life, the love of her life.
He was sweet to remember her on Valentine's day. The flowers were beautiful, the candy she didn't need the calories, but the dinner was a nice evening out and a much needed break from cooking. The Valentine's Day card, although not very romantic, had a lovable dog on the cover, a Golden Retriever that looked just like their old dog, Gracie. The picture of the dog made her cry, but in a good way and gave her some warm memories of her much missed and beloved four legged, best friend. He knew she'd treasure this card more than him giving her a card that contained a sappy sentiment, one that didn't mean as much as Gracie's memory.
Her husband was downstairs watching a boring hockey game. She had no interest in sports, but he was a real fan. Besides his occupation and avocation, she yearned for the time, when the only passion a man had was for the woman he loved and for the children he fathered. If only for a day, if only for one passion filled night, she wondered how different it would have been to live back at a time without television, the Internet, the telephone, and all those modern day conveniences that get in the way and that steal the attention that she longs to have for a loving and romantic relationship.
Her husband, Bob, real name, Bobek, was a Czechoslovakian immigrant. She fell in love with, so many years ago, when she was teaching him English, in an English as a second language class, so that he could pass his citizenship test. Love at first sight, so totally different from American men back then, he was as romantically engaging as he was handsome. Being Czechoslovakian and English, even though she was fluent in Czechoslovakian, with love, romance, and sex a universal language, they didn't need to understand one another's languages to know what they wanted. She wanted him and he wanted her.
Only, the longer he lived in America, the more American he became. Romantic and attentive before, so very European in his way and cosmopolitan in his manner, now he'd much rather watch sports, drink beer, and hang out with his American friends than with her. They used to watch movies together, while cuddling on the couch. Now, different tastes in movies even, he prefers the shoot 'em up and blow 'em up action movies and she enjoys chick flicks.
She watches movies upstairs and he watches TV downstairs. After being married for so many years, with the children grown and gone, and with her living alone with him again, as they did, when they were first married and living together in their small apartment, by his inattentiveness, she couldn't help but sometimes feel that she lived alone and was single again. She missed the erotic and sensual connection they used to have.
Other than her giving him a hand job or a blowjob, they stopped having sex. She couldn't remember when she had an orgasm last. Yet, more than that, she couldn't remember the last time he romanced her and seduced her. Yeah, that's what's missing, a slow seduction and a torrid romance. What he gave her before is what made her fall in love with him. Now, unfortunately, not much more than she got from her dog, Gracie, loyalty, companionship, and friendship has replaced romance, seduction, and sex.
If only for today, Valentine's night, he'd romance and seduce her, she'd be so happy. Is it too much to ask to have him give her a special evening of sensual pleasure one day a year? Is it too much to want to feel wanted and desired again? Too proud to ask, too hurt to make an issue out of it, even though his libido has waned, his desire diminished, and his excitement replaced by televised sports, he wouldn't understand that she still has needs and desires that her vibrator cannot fulfill.
She missed those days when he'd just take her in his arms and hold her, as if she was the most beautiful woman in the world, while gazing in her eyes, before kissing her. The way he made her feel then was so special and the moments he gave her were magical. A time before children and financial obligations, their life was uncluttered enough that they filled every waking moment with love and desire. Even though she'd never forget those memories, she wished she had them on video to replay them at a time like this when she felt so melancholy. If only she could have bottled some of those feelings of love and devotion to sprinkle on her marriage now. Always complimenting her, so attentive to her needs and desires before, now he farts in bed. Stuck now, albeit content with Bob, she misses her old Bobek.
Now, instead of the sex that they used to have and that they no longer have, the thing that keeps her in touch with her sexuality and that feeds her romantic soul is living vicariously through the words on the pages of a book. Reading romance novels allows her to create her own romantic fantasies to masturbate over later, when in the bathtub. Yet, not so much that but deeper inside, the words soothe her where she wishes he'd touch her in the way he did before, not even so much a physical touch, as a cerebral connection and an emotional feeling.
As she was when she was a young girl, reading Charlotte Bronte, Virginia Woolf, and Aldous Huxley, she was relegated to reading romance novels as a mature woman, that is, before she met Bobek. It's sadly funny how life goes in cycles, now that she's back to reading romance novels again, instead of experiencing romance in her life. There's no doubt that her husband loves her, she just wishes Bob was more like the men she reads about and fantasizes over in her novels. Her life would be perfect, if only he'd pay her more attention and if only they'd have sex more often.
As she did back then and as she does now, every night she took a different romantic fantasy book to bed with her, when she'd rather take her husband with her to bed instead. She wished he were as romantic as when they were dating. She wished he was as passionate about her, as he had become about his sports over the years. His eyes only saw her then and not hockey, football, baseball, and basketball athletes on a playing field. Understandably, in the way that romance novels have served the function of not having a lover, she assumed sports replaced his passion for her.
She was his world and he was hers and even though that hasn't changed, the passion has slowly diminished with the years that have quickly passed. Now the distance that bridged their gap was so much more than him being downstairs watching television and she being upstairs reading a romance novel. When, occasionally, she felt the need to touch herself, where she wished he'd touch her, she wished she could share her love for romance novels with him by playing out some of what she read. Only, he'd never go for role playing, not in a million years. He'd think it was foolish nonsense.
It's been so long since they had sex, she can't remember the last time he made her sexually sated. Other than him groping her, before kissing her good night or him hinting and hoping to receive a hand job or a blowjob, he did little to fuel her passion to keep her interested enough in him for her to put down her book. Her book was her surrogate erotic escape and she loved reading romances of the Victorian Era, such as the Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton, one of her favorite books to read, a book exactly the same as the movie with Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer.
The flame of passion that they once had for one another and that she thought would never die, dimmed with the birth of each child, until the daily stresses of life extinguished their original inferno to an occasional fire that is now flickering embers. Now their marriage was one more of friendship and a loving companionship than it was of sex and romance. That's okay, she resigned herself to believe, when so many of her friends were divorced or widowed. Indeed, without doubt, she consoled herself again with reality that she was lucky to still have him in her life, her life partner.
With Bob's cheering in the distant background, as if they were 100 years apart, instead of just being separated by a floor, she opened her book, A Gentleman's Valentine for a Lady. The story she was reading now was about the love affair between Charles and Elizabeth, a Victorian couple that lived more than 100 years ago, in the 1890's, in Boston. Lost in romance, while imagining she was the main character, in this instance, Elizabeth, she imagined her husband, Bobek, as Charles, romancing her. Opening the book's cover, as if she was opening a door in time and a portal to the past, where she passed through to escape her dreary life today with an exciting fantasy of yesterday, she fluffed her pillow, made herself comfortable, and started reading.
They met under unusual circumstances and she never would have thought it possible, what was developing between them, just by writing to one another. Then, once they finally met, they enjoyed a series of long winded conversations, as if they had known one another all their lives. To think that it all started, when she inadvertently dropped her glove and he retrieved it, and went out of his way to return it. Her clothing custom made by her seamstress, her name and address was sewn into the lining of all her articles of apparel, even her gloves.
Their love affair was the kind of forbidden, albeit budding romance that a lady and gentleman, especially a lady and especially a lady of wealth and of position, would have been frowned upon by civilized society, when she brazenly accepted a ride in his closed carriage that first time. He was married, after all, something she didn't know at the time but suspected. Yet, even if she knew his marital status that would have been of no consequence to her. Feeling as if she was destined for this love with him, she was just as bold as he was, when he asked her to take a ride around the park.
With another man and at another time, convention would have forced her to decline his invitation of a carriage ride and forbade her to be with him alone without a chaperone, but she was tired of convention and what others thought how a lady should act, behave, could do, and not do, and in her case misbehave. Convention has gotten her nothing but moroseness and loneliness with her mind vexed on the growing reality of her soon becoming an old maid. Sensing she'd soon be whispered about, after making her feelings so blatantly known to Charles, no one would want her then, anyway.
All of nothing, Charles was her last hope at love and happiness. With her child bearing years quickly ticking by her, already 23-years-old and still without a husband, and without even a suitor on her love horizon, convention will surely make her an old maid. It was time for her to be just as bold and just as brazen as he was for inviting her in his carriage, by laughing in the face of convention and accepting his invitation.
She had seen him around town before and always wondered who he was, but a lady never inquires about a gentleman. It must be the gentleman who inquires about the lady. As it turns out, an accomplished man of means, they had mutual friends in common. In that regard, he wasn't so much a stranger and with that he quickly graduated to a potential suitor, lover, and husband even. Since he was listed on the social register and she had access to that information, she even knew where he lived in Boston's Back Bay. He lived on Beacon Hill, in a splendid three story brownstone that she imagined herself living there with him, too, while raising their three children, Charles, Jr., Margaret, and Emily, with help from their nursemaid and nanny.
He was handsome, of course, as well as charming and debonair. He was strong of character and, possessing a sound mind, was focused of will. Assuredly, he was a man who knew where he was going, but without being officious about his position, his wealth, his influence and power, or where he had been in regard to his journey, the continuation of a journey she was interested in taking with him.
Indeed, refined, well mannered, and educated, he was a true gentleman and a rare breed of man who understood and respected women. Unlike other men of the time, he was in tune to her needs and desires and so open with his thoughts and personal experiences that she was shocked at times, embarrassed even, by his boldness. His civility mixed with a well-honed sense of humor and an intellect beyond compare, her defenses dropped and, as a moth to a bright light, fluttering around him, she was drawn in almost against her will at first, until she became a willing victim to his charm.
Unlike many of the other men who surrounded her with their insincerity and false charm, he was a true gentleman alright. Because of her vast fortune, surrounded by ruffians, carpetbaggers, and scalawags, when it was clear they couldn't get at her money to swindle it away from her, they only wanted to bed her, so that they could soil and sully her reputation by bragging to their friends. Charles, on the other hand, was the kind of man she had only dreamt about and wondered if still existed. With all the good ones already taken, she figured he was married and, no doubt, he was.
The kind of gentleman who was all male and one who incited her deepest desires, there was something about him that made her weak, soft of heart, and defenseless to his advances. Privileged and full of themselves, too often the men of Harvard and Yale, who finished their education at Oxford, often became a bit effeminate by the enlightenment of the ordeal of their edification and too effeminate for her to appeal to her as a serious suitor. She had to have a real man, a manly male, one who never experienced homosexuality, as so many of the privileged men from Boston, New York, and Greenwich, who go off to England have done, while believing that having sex with another man would have no future repercussions in having sex with a woman later.
As it turns out, with a wife and a mistress, he already had a complicated life and was reticent about adding another lover to his bed. Yet, she wanted more than just disheveled and soiled bed linens. She needed more than lies and broken promises. Moreover, she was too much woman for any man to need another to share his bed. In that regard, love, sex, attention, and affection, she wanted everything. She wanted it all. She wanted him, body, soul, and spirit. She wanted him of one mind and of one eye for only her. In these modern times, the Victorian Era, with women coming to their own and needing and wanting more, was that too much to ask of a man, to be faithful?
She hadn't heard from him that he was married and that he had a mistress, he was secretive about his affairs of the heart concerning romance, commitment, love, and lust. Yet, after she found out about his other relationships, she felt that the obvious feelings he had for her were different than the feelings he had for the others, at least, she hoped and deluded herself to believe that to be true, while hoping to change his playboy ways, if not. In the way he looked at her and held her hand in his, she could tell that he was more than smitten, but captivated by her.
She sensed that he could easily fall in love with her. As if fated to meet, as if fated to be lovers, her flame of passion was calling to him from a fresh and deeper place in his heart, where no one else had touched him before, she imagined and enjoyed believing. A place that was somehow different and where her fears were eased, she knew he was the one.
It aroused more than her curiosity why he seemed unlike those from the past, even though, on the surface, with him having a wife, a mistress, and now showing interest in her, he was just like all the others, who more wanted to tease and play than to love and commit. Charming, until they needed not to be, too many men only wanted a woman to pleasure them, before disappearing in the shadows, after the gasman extinguished the light with the dawn of a new day. Only, she held out hope that he wasn't as fickle and was more sincere than the rest.
Maybe, perhaps, he just hadn't met the right woman. How could he, when the right woman was her? Maybe, now that he met her, he'd forsake all the others for her and be true.
She told herself that he had been sent to her by God and directed here through the vast Universe.
"Twinkle, twinkle little star, where, oh, where are you, so far, too far away to see? Now that you're here, I hope you are here to stay," she said out loud for no one to hear, not even her chambermaid
She didn't know what the outcome would be but, as if her life had been preplanned, she believed that, in time, it would all work out as it should, especially now that he was finally here. Unlike the other woman of her period, she wasn't shy, retiring, and afraid to grab what she wanted and she wanted him.
"Charles, oh, Charles, I wish you were here with me right now, this very minute. I'd show you how much I want you."
Disbelieving a gentleman at his word was never done back then and at first she doubted him and questioned everything he said, but there was something in his eyes that made her believe all that he told her was true. Now, she was starting to wonder if he might be the one. She told him about a recurring dream she had about the future, as a young maiden so long ago, ten years before, in 1883. It was March the third, 1893, and coincidentally, the time was 3:33 in the afternoon, always it was 3:33, as if that was a number of some significance. Magically, mystically, inexplicably, when he rang her bell to return her glove, as if she was Cinderella and he was Prince Charming returning her glass slipper, it was March the third, 1893, at 3:33. More than odd, it was kismet.
"I have this reoccurring dream and it's always March the third, 1893--"
Before she could finish telling him her dream, he told her his dream and both dreams were the same dream. Suddenly feeling as if she'd just faint and die, she couldn't believe it, when he finished her dream with his. What more proof did she need that he was the one?
"Then, when I look at the clock," he said with a look of incredibility, "the time is always 3:33, no matter if I'm looking at the clock in the early morning or in the afternoon, it's always the same time."
Impossibly correct, with them sharing the same dream, how could she not believe that he was the answer to her dreams and that he was the one? For him to have the same reoccurring dream as hers, it was written in the stars, after all, and was the reason, of course, why she accepted his invitation to take a carriage ride around the park with him in the first place. It was too weird to be wrong about him. It was all too meaningful that he came into her view and into her life exactly at that year, month, day, and time not to be right and not to be her true love.
That dream had become such a significant part of her life and now here he is, as if delivered to her from Heaven. He was her angel of love, romance, passion, and desire. She couldn't explain the unexplainable. Just as it was beyond coincidence, it was beyond her comprehension. It was meant to be. She knew that as a spiritual man, a believer in God, and trusting the universe to provide the life that was designed for him, for her, and for them, just as she would never do, that he was not going to reject the idea out of hand that they were meant for one another. As much as she wanted to experience how it would all play out, she believed that he wanted to see where this adventure would lead them, too.