The Bodice Rips on Page 25 (Part 23)
The Bodice Rips on Page 25 is a tongue-in-cheek contemporary and regency romance in a draft state. Warning! The ending of this story about love will not be revealed!
Jane browsed the catalog as she waited for Michael Saturday morning. She loved the Turners with their sweeping storms, reminding her of pouring rain and lightning storms bending the cornfields in Iowa. The storms had been a comfort to her, because she was safe with her family. No one else could bother them.
She could avoid difficult conversations.
“Penny?” Michael’s voice interrupted her musings.
“Hello, Michael.” She smiled at him and held out her hand, resisting the urge to kiss him on the cheek.
He looked disappointed, but took her hand. “Where to?” he asked.
“I think the Turners.”
“I thought you were the ‘play it safe’ girl. Turner is anything but safe.”
She took off in the direction of the gallery. “I’ve changed.” she said over her shoulder.
“So I see.” Michael strode to cover the distance between them.
As they wandered through nineteenth century British art, Michael asked, “What prompted you to come to England?”
“It was a desperate attempt to avoid going back to Iowa.”
“Is Iowa that bad?”
“Only if you have to go back to your home town with your tail between your legs,” she said. “I got an opportunity to apply for a grant and I took it. Most insane thing I’ve ever done.”
“Other than moving from Iowa to New York City.”
Jane stopped to stare at a huge painting of a dark-haired woman in a red floor-length outfit. “Can you imagine posing for something like this? I can’t imagine standing in that position for hours.”
“Maybe that explains the grimace.”
Jane laughed. She’d forgotten how witty Michael could be.
“Lunch?” Michael said as she was about to ask the same thing.
A dull headache was beginning, a combination of over-stimulation and dread of the conversation she knew they had to have.
She managed to delay until they had their lunch in front of them.
“So tell me,” Michael asked. “Why did it take you two and a half months to call me? I could have shown you all of London and gotten you into some very swank parties. I know we didn’t part well in New York, but still…”
Jane looked down at her plate. Here it was.
“The easy answer is that I had to finish my book,” she said.
“And the not-so-easy answer?”
She twisted her napkin. “I like you, Michael.”
She looked at him. “Not that way. I didn’t know how to tell you in New York. Our lives are different.”
“They don’t have to be,” Michael said.
Jane laughed. “I’m an Iowa farm girl and you’re a Member of Parliament. I don’t think it’s going to work out really well.”
“Farm girl? I thought you were a writer.”
“I am. But these last few weeks in the Cotswold’s have taught me that I’m a country girl at heart.”
“And now that you don’t have to go home as a failure?”
She shook her head. “I still haven’t heard about the book, but I know in my heart it’s a good one. And that’s good enough for me to feel right about going home.” She put the napkin back on the table. “Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a strong farmer and raise big strapping sons.” She smiled at Michael. “I’m sorry.”
“Nothing to be sorry about. I enjoy you, too. If I’m every in Iowa, I’ll depend on you to show me around. Maybe we can count cows, or something.”
Her smile deepened. “I’d like that.”
To be continued…