After cognac had been served and Neill and Teddy yawned themselves to their feet pleading exhaustion, she found herself next to Graham, walking down the hall to the bottom of the staircase. She swallowed the knot at the back of her throat.
“Would you like a moonlight walk on the beach?” he asked.
She stood with her hand on the banister, unable to meet his eyes. “I need sleep.”
“I bet. Traveling can give one the screaming meemies.”
She grinned at him. “More like swooning.”
He covered her hand with his. “No swooning, it’s out of fashion.”
“I see you’re a slave to fashion.”
“Absolutely. My own idea of fashion.”
“You dress very smart.” What a dumb thing to say.
“That’s because a smartly-dressed man can hide a multitude of idiocies.”
“Ummm, I don’t confess everything to a woman I’ve just met, no matter how gorgeous. Wait until tomorrow.”
“I shall.” She placed a foot on the first step. “Time …”
“Teddy has taken to you, too, you know.”
“Teddy is fun.”
“If fun’s not included, Teddy doesn’t do it.”
“I look for a little fun in my life.”
“I guess so, after that beastly war.”
“It was beastly, but there were happy times.”
“You can say that now you’re safe at home.”
“I say, Cleo, I am sorry about …”
She bobbed her head trying to see William in her mind, but his image didn’t come. How could it, she thought, with all the unfocused emotions swirling there?
He drew in a breath. “I want to see happiness in those marvelous green eyes.”
How could she forget the sharp pain of those unhappy days? “I am happy.”
“But sometimes a little melancholy?”
“What’s wrong with melancholy?”
“We at Southerness do not tolerate melancholy.” He lifted her chin with a finger. “Got that, little Bearcat?”
She was not sure if she could get the words out of her mouth to say that her mood was beyond categorizing. She drew away from his finger. “Good night, Graham.”
“Can I ask you something?”
She held her breath for a second. “Yes.”
“Promise a walk on the beach tomorrow night? The lighthouse shows best by moonlight.” He sensed her hesitation because he squeezed her arm. “I’m harmless.”
She gave him her best I-don’t-believe-that-for-a-minute smirk. “What if it rains?”
“It wouldn’t dare. What say?”
“Let’s see about tomorrow.”
“That’s not a no.”
“No, it’s not a no.”
“I’m a happy fella then.”
“Golf after breakfast?”
“I shall give it my best,” she said.
He went off singing, Nothing could be finer than to be in
in the morning ... Carolina
Finally – she could take a deep breath.
Thanks for reading. I'd appreciate your comments.
Gerrie Ferris Finger