14 comments

Romance

This story contains sensitive content

TW: Sex


In a lowly lit study where the heavy drapes are pulled tight, a fire burns bright in a fireplace that is large enough for five grown men to stand in side-by-side. The drapes, the rugs, and the upholstery are all a dark red, like bricks, but soft to the touch like any fabric would be. Everything else is mahogany except for the parquet flooring and two leather chairs. The furniture is arranged to face the fireplace where a painting of George Edward Carter I hangs proudly above the mantle. There is a sofa in front of the fireplace with the two leather chairs angled at each side, each sharing an end-table with the sofa. Behind the sofa is a large desk where George Edward Carter III writes all his correspondences by hand, in cursive, the way he has done since he was a boy. Behind the desk is a wall filled with books, mostly of legal reference. By the door stands an old grandfather’s clock whose time is kept by the swaying of the pendulum. The time reads ten to midnight.


The ladies consider G.E., as he prefers to be called, a silver fox. At sixty-eight he still has a full head of hair that matches a well-trimmed beard that makes his eyes shine like shamrocks in the summer’s light. He eats right and exercises daily which keeps his physique solid and straight. He’s unwinding before bed, dressed in black satin pajamas, trimmed with gold, with a monogrammed matching robe, G.E.C. III. He lounges in one of the oversized leather chairs that sit in front of the fireplace smoking a cigar and drinking brandy as he reads an old letter that he has held onto for forty-five years.


Dearest George,


It has been a while since we last talked. I don’t know why I am writing to you now. Maybe it is some girlish whim while relishing days past, remembering love lost, lost in the ignorant bliss of wondering what could have been.


Do you remember our first meeting? It was at the county fair all those years ago. Some hooligan whose name I cannot recall was being forceful with me for my affection. You stepped in like the gentleman you are, politely asking the man to remove himself from my presence. When the man refused and decided on violence, you stood up for my honor in heroic fashion. As if being my savior and protector were not enough, your chivalry throughout the night had me smitten with you as you accompanied me on several rides and through the funhouse. You proved to be quite the dancer, which brought a smile to my lips just as your savvy wit had that entire night. You escorted me to the beauty contest because I wanted to see all the pretty dresses and hairdos. You told me I would have won first place had I walked up there. Me, straight-haired, plain-Jane, little old me. Oh, how I blushed at your words. That night, as we sat under the night sky watching the fireworks, I held my breath hoping that you’d kiss me. You did, and it turned my world inside out.


I longed to see you again after that night, but I wasn’t sure I was going to. Two days had passed and I hadn’t heard anything from you. Then on the third day, I get home from school, and you are in the parlor talking to daddy. I remember how daddy stood up, all proud and sincere, saying, “This young man has come to ask my permission to court you, Elizabeth. He seems fit by me. It’s up to you, sweetie.” Oh, the fact that you were so proper and did right by me and my family was so… so unbelievably attractive. Do you remember my reaction? I didn’t know who to hug first; you or daddy. He invited you to dinner that night where your good manners and charming personality were on full display.


After that we were inseparable. Sometimes we would be out with your friends. Sometimes we would be out with my friends. Sometimes we were out just the two of us. Do you remember when you took me horseback riding to Big Blue Springs where the old mill is. I had never been on a horse, but you pulled me up and placed me in front of you sidesaddle where I laid my head against your chest as we galloped across the prairie. We slowed down when trees started popping up and the grass got greener. Then there it was, the mill, with its giant wheel in the bluest water I have ever seen. It was so cold, so clean, so pure I wanted to bathe our naked bodies in it and wash away the sweat. Instead, you laid out a blanket and fed me fruit that you brought with us, tucked away in your satchel. After the fruit was gone, I gave myself to you, the first time I had ever given myself to a man. The passion of your kisses, the strength of your arms, the power in your hips had my fingers digging into the dirt, my legs trembling as my hips thrashed into yours, my toes curling, cramping – hot, dizzy, wet. Something exploded inside me that day that hasn’t exploded since.


We never had another chance to share a moment like that again. Your father demanded you be sent halfway across the country to Harvard where you would study business. I tried writing you, but the letters were always returned, ‘not at this address.’ Your parents wouldn’t speak to me, only saying, “George has more important things to attend to than summer flings.”


I cried many nights for you. I wished upon star after star that you would come back to me. Finally, you did. It was Christmas Eve. You showed up on my doorstep, standing there in the snow with your nose all red and a great big smile. I jumped into your arms. I didn’t care how cold it was, I wasn’t letting you go. Before we could get inside, your parents pulled up. Your dad was furious, dragging you back to the car like a child. I guess to him you’re his child, but it was inexcusable treatment of someone your age. I didn’t want to let you go, but I had my own parents trying to pull me out of the cold. Before they could separate us completely, you extended your hand and in it was a box wrapped in gold, tied with a green ribbon. I watched through the window until the taillights of your parent’s car disappeared around the corner. Then, and only then, did I open your present. Thank you for the beautiful gold necklace. I still wear it to this day and think of you when I touch it.


As you may have heard, or read, I am now betrothed to Benjamin Sharpe. The Sharpe's are a wealthy family. Benjamin stands to inherit a small fortune. He will make a good husband. What I want is….


 G.E. sits back in his chair and stares at the bottom of the letter where the ink is one big smudge. He dropped it in a puddle on that rainy afternoon when he received it, cursing himself for his clumsiness. For forty-five years he had read the letter at least once a month, sometimes more, trying to figure out where she was going with it. Was she still in love with him or searching for closure? He could only surmise.


He leans back and thinks about that summer they spent together. He can still smell her perfume and hear the sound of her voice. He remembers the softness of her skin and the jubilance in her eyes. He’s still captivated by the smile that shines through the fogginess of his memories. What an impact she had on him in such a short time. He never married. No woman ever measured up to what he had with Elizabeth.


G.E. folds up the letter and lays it on the sofa. He makes his way to the serving cart and freshens up his brandy before sitting down at the computer. He jiggles the mouse, and the screen comes alive. He types into the search bar: Elizabeth Hannover Sharpe.


A Facebook link pops up first with a brief description: Elizabeth Hannover Sharpe, Topeka, Kansas, Age 67, Relationship Status: Widowed.


He clicks on the link and a profile picture emerges. There is no doubt in his mind it’s her. Her blonde hair has faded and is much shorter now, but those are definitely her joyful blue eyes and heartwarming smile. Around her neck is the same necklace he picked out for her decades ago.


He clicks friend request, then message.


Dear Elizabeth,

February 17, 2024 08:44

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14 comments

Christy Morgan
13:29 Feb 17, 2024

What a beautifully sad romantic tale, Ty. You can feel his wistfulness and longing to know what the letter intended, how that errant smudge changed the course of two lifetimes. Her voice is rich in the letter -- you really get a sense of her youthful restlessness and desires. You pulled off a good steamy scene too :) Well done -- one does wonder what their next chapter will be!

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Ty Warmbrodt
14:18 Feb 17, 2024

Thanks, Christy, for such encouraging feedback I'm glad you liked it.

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The Truth
20:46 Feb 26, 2024

Never too late for love

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Claire Trbovic
22:09 Feb 22, 2024

All the feels and what an ending! The letter was so eloquently written, I was there in the memory no doubt, lovely piece :)

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Ty Warmbrodt
22:34 Feb 22, 2024

Thanks, Claire. I'm happy you liked it.

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Michał Przywara
21:39 Feb 20, 2024

That's a long time to hold onto a memory, but no question about it, she made a massive impact on him. And the fact she still wears the necklace - perhaps they do have a future together. In any case, there will finally be closure. Great way to end it - thanks for sharing!

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Kristina Aziz
13:34 Feb 19, 2024

Romance against all odds. What a sweet story-- and very descriptive setting to set the tone.

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Michelle Oliver
11:23 Feb 18, 2024

A tragedy that it’s taken so long… I wonder what the missing part said. There’s another story in that missing piece. I like the choice of present tense to contrast with the letter. Thanks for sharing.

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Nolan Shultz
23:03 Feb 17, 2024

Evocative descriptions and lyrical prose, drawing into the tender longing and bittersweet nostalgia that permeate G.E.'s search for closure. Your ability to craft a concise yet deeply resonant narrative showcases a mastery of storytelling. I really enjoyed this! NS

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Trudy Jas
22:48 Feb 17, 2024

Ty, what a wonderful story. Pure chick lit. I love it. We can only hope that 'better late than never' works here.

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Mary Bendickson
18:11 Feb 17, 2024

Too bad he didn't try a little sooner in those 45 years. Maybe could have had much longer together. Wonderful development. I see golden years ahead. Thanks for liking my 'Alyce's Restaurant'. Not near the romance as yours.

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Ty Warmbrodt
22:05 Feb 17, 2024

Thanks, Mary, I'm glad you liked it :-)

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Helen A Smith
16:54 Feb 17, 2024

What a lovely story, Ty. So great that neither have forgotten one another after all those years. I got a strong sense of her character through the letter. The backstory is good too. With family getting in the way of happiness, they didn’t stand a chance, but they now have a second chance which rounds it off nicely.

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Stella Aurelius
14:27 Feb 17, 2024

Ty ! What a lovely story you weaved. Impeccable imagery and flow, as usual. I gasped when I saw that the letter ended. Funnily enough, this reminded me of two favourites of mine: one of my favourite novels "Love in the Time of Cholera" and my favourite French film of all time "Les parapluies de Cherbourg". Great job!

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