Love in the Time of War Ch. 12byjerseyblue©
It was a glorious first day of June. Catherine could feel the warmth of the sun on her face and arms as she reclined on a blanket. The sounds of bird songs and the nearby stream filled the air. She had never felt happier in her life. She was now Mrs. Charles Stewart and had been for less than a month, a month that seemed to be a complete blur to her as she had never experienced such complete contentment before. Beginning with their first night of the honeymoon in southern France, she finally knew the true meaning of making love. To her great surprise, it was a feeling that she never wanted to lose. The entire honeymoon was wonderful. The days were relaxing and fun filled but the nights were amazing. Charles had brought feelings to surface she never knew she had.
On their first night, she apologize that she was not a virgin but with all her heart she wished she was. Charles looked at her and smiled. "This is my first time with you so, yes, you are my virgin."
Just thinking about it made her want him again. She sat up and pulled her knees up to her chest. Placing her hand on his broad back, she said, "What are you thinking of?"
Her voice brought him back to reality. He had been deep in thought, thinking about how his life had changed and changed so quickly. Five years ago he had very little in the way of concerns and cares. In 1914, the world went mad and events piled up that drastically affected him. First William died at Loos and then James died from the Spanish flu. Overnight he went from the third son with a vague future to heir to the title of Earl of Berwick. His time in the trenches resulted in seeing things no human should see. His wounding caused physical scars but those covered the scars you couldn't see. Remarkably since his marriage to Catherine, he had not had any nightmares and no severe headaches had struck him down. He thought about the two women in his life and how they changed it.
Kathleen had left Stanhope Manor the day after the Armistice. It took the family and especially Charles, by surprise but with James' funeral and the War ending, he never found a chance to talk to her about her decision. It was only by chance that he was able to say good bye at all.
"Kathleen, please wait," he yelled running down the gravel path. "Wait!"
She stopped and dropping her valise, waiting.
He caught up to her and placing his hands on his knees, caught his breath. "You can't leave without saying good bye."
"I'll was planning on it."
"Why would you do that? You just can't walk out of my life"
She sighed. "Charles, I have never been a part of your life. Your life is here at Stanhope with your family, your titles. I can never be a part of that and I can't just stand on the edge of it and watch."
"But I told you I love you. Don't I deserve something more?"
"Deserve something more? I gave you my heart and that night I offered you everything, you did nothing. What more do you want?"
Charles grabbed her by the shoulders. "No, not that! We can't part without a good bye. You just can't walk out of my life. I won't let you. I carried your locket next my skin in France. I was thinking of you that night in France. It has always been you. In another place or time, it would have been us. Now do you understand?"
Kathleen buried her face into his shoulder and began to cry, long and hard. She held on to him as if her life depended on it. "This is why I just had to leave," she said between sobs. "I knew it would be too hard. Oh God, I do love you."
They stood there in the path, neither one wanting to let go. They both knew they had to. Silently they moved apart and Charles picked up her bag. They walked down the path towards the village and train station without talking. Along the way she took his hand and held it tightly. At the station, Kathleen kissed him tenderly on the cheek. As he started to talk, to say goodbye, she placed a finger to his lips and shook her head. She turned and boarded, not looking back.
He had not seen or heard from her since that day. He made sure to invite her to the wedding but she didn't attend. She had walked out of his life.
Catherine rubbed his back. "Charles?"
Her voice brought him back.
"I was just thinking how lucky I am," he said quickly.
She slipped her arm into his and rested her head on his shoulder."In what way?"
"In many ways," he began. "In the trenches, a minute or two either way, and that shell would have ended it." Sweeping his hand in front of him, he continued. "Someday all this and the title will be ours." Turning to her,"And I have the best, most beautiful wife any man could ask for. That's what I mean."
"Oh, Charles, It is I who is lucky," she said pulling herself closer.
Charles lay back on to the blanket bringing Catherine down with him. "No," he thought, "Catherine was wrong. It was he who is lucky. She will be his equal in all things, not like others whose wives are just decorations or lack opinions. When he entered his first session of Parliament and he looked up into the gallery, he would be proud to see her there. He finally realized that they were meant to be together."
He picked up her chin and looked into her eyes.
"What?" she asked quizzically.
"I love you, Catherine," and he kissed her. It was a deep and passionate kiss. She kissed him back. They continued to kiss as he rolled her onto her back. His hand went to the large buttons on her blouse and began to undo them.
Catherine grabbed his hand, "Here? Now?"
"Yes," he answered and kissed her again as his hand undid the first button. She didn't stop him.
He slid his hand inside her blouse, feeling her silk chemise. He cupped her ample breast and she responded by opening her mouth, allowing his tongue to enter. Catherine moaned softly.
Catherine placed her hands on his shoulders. She looped her fingers around his suspenders and slid them down. She grabbed his shirt hem and pulled it up. She then ran her hands up his bare back. The touch of his skin added to her excitement.
Charles moved up hand under her chemise and caressed her nipple with his fingers. He pitched it causing it to harden. He broke their kiss and slowly began kissing her neck, moving steadily down. She arched her back from the feeling.
She never believed that love making could be so good. All her mother had told her and her time as William's wife had not prepared her for this. She felt wanton but alive. She wanted it to never stop.
Charles was sucking on her one breast, nibbling and teasing her nipple while pinching the other. The feeling went straight to her quim. She spread her legs, encouraging him to go further. She pressed his head to her breast.
He moved his hand to her leg and slid it upward. He moved tenderly across her stockings and touched her bare thigh. There he paused, drawing small circles with his fingers, teasing her.
"Oh, dear, please stop. You are driving me insane."
"You want me to stop?" He smiled.
"You know what I mean!" With that, she frantically unbuttoned his pants and reached inside. She found his cock and wrapped her hand around it, pulling it free. "Please."
Charles pushed her skirt up and pulled her under garment down. Catherine lay exposed before him. Though he had seen the sight before, it took his breath away. He paused, and then moved between her legs. He moved forward slowly entering her. Her wetness and heat surrounded him. She gasped.
The feeling began to spread throughout her body as she began to move her hips matching his movement. She wrapped her legs around him, wanting him to go deeper. At this minute, nothing else matter, just Charles and the overwhelming passion.
"Oh God," she cried out as it swept over her. She arched her back and stiffened under him. Her hands grabbed his ass and pulled him into her. She felt his cheeks clench as he came in her with a groan.
He rolled off her and then pulled her close. The heat of the sun felt good on their bare skin and added to the intense feelings they had felt. At this moment, the world didn't matter; it was just the two of them, deeply in love.
The wind slashed across the lawn, driving the rain hard against the windows. The sound made one feel good to be inside. Lady Catherine sat on the sofa engaged in a quiet conversation with Lady Alice as the Dowager Lady Stewart dozed in large comfortable chair. The fire cracked and snapped as its heat filled the Drawing Room. The warmth was welcomed at the end of a cold day. Catherine looked across the see her husband, Lord Charles, 7th Earl of Berwick, deeply engrossed in the newspaper. She had been worried about him recently.
A lot had occurred in her life since she married Charles in 1919. She had watched Charles take his seat in Parliament and become a leading voice for pensions for the returning service men. She enjoyed being involved in local politics and helped Charles campaign. One voter told her that the reason he voted for Charles was because of her. One thing that made her feel good was that Charles always acknowledged her efforts. When his father died in 1930, one regret was that he would have to leave the House of Commons for Lords. Catherine missed going with Charles to meet the people.
She had also done her primary role; motherhood. They had been blessed with three children, James, Anne, and William. James was off at school while the others were upstairs asleep. Looking back, Catherine had every reason to be happy. But lately it seemed to her that something was troubling Charles. He got more irritated at little things and when she tried to helped, he was cold and abrupt. He was distant to her in all ways.
"Damn," Charles said, slamming down the newspaper. "He is a fool."
"Charles! Who is a fool?" Catherine asked.
He walked over the table and poured himself a drink. "The King, over this Simpson thing. There is talk of him abdicating."
"I hear he wants her to be his equal, the Queen." Alice said.
"Well, he loves her." Catherine added.
"Love! Love has nothing to do with this. He is the King. He has his duty to the country. He knew this going in. Throwing all away for the love of a silly woman. He is a fool." Charles seemed to spit out the words.
The Dowager had awakened and added, "An American and a divorcee as Queen, never!"
"It seems Winston is opened to some type of compromise but Baldwin has threatened to resign."
"Well, that half-breed would support the King on this."
Alice turned to her mother,"Just because his mother was American doesn't make Winston bad."
"I agree with Winston," Catherine said, "The King should be able to marry who he wants."
"For God's sakes, Catherine, not you too. He is the King. He has to sacrifice his own personal feelings for doing the right thing. It is his duty to the country. His burden to bear. It is the curse of the titled class." Charles stated firmly.
Catherine had no reply for him and she sat on sofa with folded hands.
Alice was the only one in the room who realized what was upsetting Charles. She, like Catherine, had noticed how preoccupied he was. She could read him like a book ever since they were young but it wasn't until now that she understood. It wasn't the King and Simpson. This had opened an old wound that had been long buried. It was personal. It was about Kathleen and him. The King's affair made him think about Kathleen and the decision he had to make. Did he still care about her?
Alice said calmly, "You are making this personal. Charles."
He turned quickly and stared at her angrily. She recoiled from his look.
There was a knock at the Drawing Room door.
"Come in!" he shouted.
Wilson came in carrying a small package. Wilson had replaced Buxton who had passed away and was now the head butler.
"What is it, Wilson?" There was an edge to his voice that Charles never used with the staff.
"A package for you, Your Lordship."
"A package? In this weather?" Catherine asked.
"Is the man still here, Wilson?" Charles had regained his usual demeanor.
"Yes. He is in the foyer." Wilson answered.
"I'll go see."
Charles headed out to the foyer where he met the village postmaster. He was drenched and shivering.
"Colston, why did you bring it here? On a night like tonight. Surely it could have waited."
"No, Your Lordship. It couldn't wait." The man gulped as if he had done something wrong. "It came to my office over a week ago, sir. But it got misplaced and I just found it. I'm sorry, sir."
"That's all right, Colston." Charles turned to Wilson and told him to take the postmaster down to the kitchen. "Have him warm up before the fire and have Mrs. Nelson give him some hot tea." Before Wilson left, Charles gave him some money and told him to give it to the postmaster. As the two left, Charles looked at the package.
It was wrapped in brown paper and about the size of a book. He didn't recognize the handwriting or the address. It came from a small village east of Stanhope. He tore open the paper to find an envelope addressed to him and a small box the same size. He opened the letter and began to read it.
You don't know me but you did know my mother, Kathleen O'Toole. She asked that I send this to you as her last request. Upon cleaning up her things, I found these letters and sent them on to you. You should know that she died peacefully and her last thoughts were about you. I'm sorry to inform you in this way but I knew of no other way.
Sincerely, John O'Toole
"Oh Dear God!" Charles exclaimed as he reread the note. Wilson, just reentering the foyer, hurried to his side.
"Are you all right, sir?"
Charles looked at Wilson. With all the reserve he could muster, he said, "I'll be in the Library. No one, I mean no one is to enter."
For the next two hours, Charles read every one of his letters he had send Kathleen from the trenches. Her locket was also part of the package, the one she gave him as he left the last time. He wrapped its chain around his fingers as he read each word. As he read, a flood of memories came pouring over him. Feelings about how he felt and how different his life would have been crowded his mind.
Surprising, reading the letters almost brought a sense of closure to this part of his life. He mourned the fact that she died but she was gone long before this. She represented something he lost long ago, his youth and his innocence. When Kathleen boarded the train that day, she still remained with him but in reality she has left his life. Only he didn't accept it. With her passing, he was now forced to.
"Damn Alice! She knows me too well," he cursed. "She is right. It isn't the King's affair that is upsetting me. It was Kathleen and my memories that were causing me to treat people so poorly, especially Catherine."
"What a fool I have been," he said softly. "I have everything a man could want. The love of two women in one lifetime but I've been too stupid to understand it. I put one good woman in an impossible position and the other, a wife who any man would die for; a wife who gave me three beautiful children and loves me 100%. No demands, no questions. Yet I never gave her all of me. I cheated on the best thing I ever had."
Over the years, if anything, Catherine had become more beautiful than when they were first married. Having 3 children seemed to have added curves to an already perfect figure and though she was nearing 40 she retained her glow and sparkle of her youth. During the last Parliament, in a conversation with Lord Beresdale, as Catherine approached them , His Lordship said in a stage whisper to Charles, "You are a lucky man," nodding towards Catherine.
"Thank you. I know."
"No, man. You are lucky it isn't thirty years ago. I'm sure that your wife would have caught the King's eye. A beautiful creature. I envy you."
He walked over to fireplace. The fire was going strong and he could feel its heat. Slowly he took each letter and tossed it into the fire. He watched each one burn and then tossed in another. With each burning ember, he was removing his past. He continued until each one was gone. When they were all gone, he took a deep breath and headed up stairs. It was time to move on and start living in the present. It was time to set things right and appreciate the woman who loved him completely.
Catherine was sitting up in bed, reading the latest mystery. She found it difficult to concentrate as she was worried about Charles. This issue with the King seemed to upset him more each day. It was so unlike him. "What was in that package?" she thought. After its arrival, he locked himself in the Library and hadn't come out. This was nothing like the Charles she knew.
He entered the bedroom without a word. Catherine decided to wait for him to say something first. She didn't want to pry. He changed into his pajamas but without his shirt. He walked over to where she was and took the book away from her. She looked at him quizzically.
He kissed her. Not a short kiss but a deep meaningful kiss. Catherine kissed him back with feeling. He hadn't kissed her like this in months and she missed it. He placed his hands on her straps and slipped them down, exposing her breasts. He began to caress them and they responded to his touch.
"Oh God," she moaned as she pushed his head to her breasts. She arched her back, urging him to take them into his mouth, to suck, to love them.
As his mouth teased and loved her breasts, his hand moved up her thigh to that special place between her legs. He found it hot, wet and open to his touch. Slowly he teased her clit until she felt she would explode. She wanted him so badly.
Finally when she thought she could take no more, he entered her. He felt bigger, firmer than he ever felt. She came with a deep guttural moan but she wanted, needed more.
"There is something different tonight," Catherine thought but she didn't care. She didn't want it to end. She came more times than she could remember before Charles came in her, filling her completely.
He didn't roll off her but collapsed into her arms. She held him tightly, basking in the afterglow of their love making. How she loved him. What she didn't know was at that moment Charles was hers, fully and totally in love with her. And he would be for as long as he lived.