Reader, I Married Him

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A breeze whipped around the battlements, tossing Rochester’s waves of black hair, and swirling Diana’s skirts around her ankles.

“What shall you do now?” Diana asked.

“Take back my house. Take back my life, if I can. I’ll send that succubus packing…” His voice wavered. “The first time I saw her, so small and pale, I thought her a fairy, a magical being. She lured me in, Miss Rivers, took me into her enchanted cave and I came out a different man, the world changed because I am. It might as well be a hundred years hence. But where the devil is she?”

“Safe enough. She’s with my — the man I call my brother.”

“Hmm.” He leaned his back against the battlements and looked at her. “I have this feeling, Miss Rivers, you and your so-called brother are up to no good.”

“How extraordinary. I think you’ll find, sir, I’m only a common criminal. My heart plays no part in my ill-doing.” She stopped. “I’m flirting with you. Why am I doing that? Is your madness catching?”

“Thank God you are. Diana…I wanted her. I wanted to do what she wanted and I lost myself in her.” He spread his arms in a wide gesture. “Behold, Rochester, reduced to a grovelling wretch, and all for love. Has it ever happened to you, Miss Rivers?”

She shook her head. “St. John–my partner–I love him to the deepest part of my soul. I always shall. He is part of me. But falling in love? I’ve never had time for the luxury of that sort of love, Rochester. Falling in love is for those who don’t have to worry about where their next crust of bread comes from.”

“You think there’s a choice?” He pointed to the low hills on the horizon. “It’s as random as those lightning strikes you see on the fells, there–and as powerful. Love will sear you through when you least expect it, Miss Rivers, and you won’t be able to escape the pain–because the pleasure will be irresistible.”

She shook her head, laughing. “I doubt it. I’ve learned to be cautious to keep my neck whole.”

He snorted and turned back to his contemplation of the sky. “I never realized what wondrous things clouds could be, or the shapes of the fells and trees at night. It’s as though I see these things for the first time. Ah, here comes the rain.”

She smelled the sweetness now of rain falling on parched earth, the scent he, with his senses deprived in his imprisonment, had caught long before. A drop of rain splashed on her face, on her upheld hands.

Rochester laughed aloud, flung his dressing gown away, and stood naked, hands outstretched, to welcome the rain.

 

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