Somewhere My Love
Somewhere My Love
by Beth Trissel
A sea of eyes followed their progression. Julia envied Will’s elegance. There
was a natural grace to his movements that seemed to elude her. At least
she didn’t trip.
He strode with her down the upstairs hall, past his bedroom, the bathroom, kitchen, living room and stopped before an aged wooden door at the end of the main passage. “Here we are,” he said and turned a brown marbled knob.
The steps leading to the third level were steep and dimly lit. He gestured her ahead of him. “Watch yourself.”
She mounted carefully with Will climbing just behind to catch her if she fell. She could almost envision herself ascending a castle turret. Then the steps merged into an open entrance as the door wasn’t shut and she walked through to a spacious room overhung with broad rafters. Tiny dust motes floated in the light streaming through the dormer windows. She cast her eyes over the array of trunks, some leather-bound, others wooden with inlaid tops, and all fastened with iron locks. Drop cloths shielded other intriguing shapes.
What a thrill to be among the relics hidden away up here, laden with a musty scent of bygone days and the faint spiciness of the dried herbs hanging in bunches from the darkened beams overhead. “Will, it’s splendid! Who knows what we’ll discover. Have you the keys to these trunks?”
He smiled. “Of course I know where the keys are. What kind of lord of the manor would I be without them?” He directed her searching eyes to one corner of the treasure trove. “Try that rack of costumes first.”
Dodging trunks and boxes, she darted to the spot he indicated and snatched away the dusty shroud. A collection of period costumes emerged. A pale blue muslin dress with a high waist, square-necked bodice edged in lace, and capped sleeves caught her eye. “This frock is like something out of Jane Austen, the early Regency period.” She glanced up at him in sudden realization. “The time of Julia Maury.”
He arched an eyebrow at her. “Have you studied nineteenth century fashion plates?” “No. But I’ve seen Pride and Prejudice.”
“Can’t say as I caught that flick.”
She returned her spellbound attention to the velvet jacket hanging beside the gown. The waistline also met just beneath the bust and was styled with a smooth front, fairly high neck, and long sleeves. “I believe this is a spencer.” Next in line was a ladies cloak of green velvet, with bishop's sleeves, trimmed with black lace. “What a lovely pelisse,” she said fingering the green mantle. “And so beautifully made. Are all of these clothes reproductions?”
“Not all. A few are vintage.”
“Marvelous.” Her eyes fell on a gorgeous white muslin ball gown with a high waist, capped sleeves, and embroidered white on white train. It resembled a bridal gown. More frocks followed like a stream of colorful leaves. “This is a walking dress,” she said, nodding at a dress of cambric muslin overhung with an embroidered mantle. She touched a simple white frock paired with a plum-colored spencer. “And this is a day dress.”
“Couldn’t you walk in either?”
She smiled and shifted her admiration to a lavender gown of luxurious silken sarsenet with a long train, trimmed down the front and round the bottom in point lace, paired with a violet silk shawl. “Now this is full evening dress.”
On the shelf below the rack were an assortment of velvet bonnets sporting exotic feathers and straw hats trimmed with ribbons, satin slippers and kid boots that laced up to the ankle, gloves of all hues and winter muffs. “I wish it were cold so I could wear this swansdown muff.”
“Swansdown? How did you know that?”
She was too distracted to reply. She’d spotted a stunning men’s double breasted dark blue tailcoat. The patterned waistcoat coordinated wonderfully, as did the ivory breeches. The white shirt had an airy cravat that knotted at the neck and the sleeves draped below the cuff of the coat. It was the sort of outfit Cole would have worn. “Oh, Will. Let’s both try something on.”
“We’re up here for you, Julia.”
She tugged at his hand. “Please. It’ll be such fun.”
“I’ll wear the jacket for now. The full ensemble on Mid-summer’s Eve.”
“Deal.” She scanned the attic for a place to change. “Wait here,” she said, grabbing the pale blue gown and matching ballet-style slippers. Her heels clicked over the floorboards as she dodged behind another sheeted rack. She wriggled out of the sundress, kicked off the sandals, and stood barefoot in her pink bra and panties. The vintage gown was fairly sheer against her skin, more so in the sunlight. “I could do with a petticoat, Will. If you take me out in this, I’ll be no better off than before.”
“Underclothes are in one of these trunks. I’ll look.”
She heard him rummaging around, the clank of keys and a lock being turned, then another. “Just the thing,” he said. A sleeveless white chemise sailed over the divide.
“Brilliant!” Julia slid the old fashioned slip over her head and pulled on the gown. The fit was perfect. She tied the blue sash under her bust and smoothed the softly draped lengths of cloth. The low décolletage flattered her curves and felt deliciously feminine. If she were properly dressed for the time period her hair would be done up on her head, not in a loose pony tail, and she’d have on a corset and white stockings. As it was, her bra would have to do and her legs would remain bare. She slid her feet into the slippers, stepping out from the screen with a flourish.
Will had donned the elegant coat. Even paired with unlikely khakis, it looked divine on him. Julia held her breath as she crisscrossed the sunbeams to where he stood.
His eyes never left her. “You are radiantly lovely, Miss Morrow.”
“And you are exquisitely handsome, sir.”
“Exquisite sounds rather gay, but thank you. I found something you might like,” he said, and guided her to a small table in a shadowed corner. He blew the layer of dust from an ornate wooden box inlaid with ivory and lifted the lid. Inside were brass workings like the mechanism of a clock. He wound a small gold key in the back until it would wind no more, and released it. The wheels and cogs turned and wonderful music flowed forth, the beautiful strains of a Viennese waltz, The Blue Danube.
She clapped her hands. “A music box.”
He bowed. “May I have this dance, sweet Julia?”
She gazed up into his velvet brown eyes, and he gazed back. She managed a nod and he drew her into his arms. Around the attic he waltzed with her secure in his lead. Everything fell away except this moment while the haunting melody played on, taking her back to that faintly remembered place. She didn’t even stumble, not once. It was as if some inner memory guided her in the steps, even though ballroom dancing hadn’t been a part of her lessons.
The music picked up and he swung her around and around. Her dress swirled as he circled. With each turn, he was Will—then Cole, Will—then Cole, both men in rapid succession, separate and yet the same. Her heart pounded from far more than the whirling dance.
The music faded and Will slowly stopped revolving. They stood, his arms circled at her back and waist, eyes locked on each other. His brow furrowed. “Julia, you look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
She ran the tip of her tongue over her lips. “You may be the ghost.”
He tightened his mouth in an impatient line.“Don’t try to make me into Cole again.”
“Will, listen to me. I know it sounds crazy, but I think somehow you already are.”
He dropped his hands, turning away. “Only because you insist I am.”
She grabbed his arm. “No. It’s what I saw while we danced. You must believe me.”
“Believing doesn’t make it any easier,” he said flatly.
“That’s because you think I’m misled.”
He swiveled his head at her. Exasperation flared in his eyes. “There’s a simple reason for my laboring under that assumption. You are.”
“Don’t be angry. I hate that I’ve spoiled such a lovely moment.” “You’ve a talent for that.” He turned and strode across the floor. His footsteps echoed on the boards with a hollow sound, just as her heart would beat if he left.
She ran behind him and reached out, catching his plush shoulder. “Consider me balmy, if you must, but don’t walk away. Please Will.”
He stayed as he was. “What do you want me to do, Julia?”
“I don’t know.” She wasn’t strong enough to turn him and dashed in front instead, grasping his upper arms and twisting the fabric in her fingers. “Something—anything.”
He smiled faintly. “Never say those words to a man.”
Cupping her face between his hands, he bent his head and closed his lips over hers in an all-consuming kiss...so swiftly she hardly knew what had happened. Even if he hadn’t cupped her cheeks, she wouldn’t have moved. The compelling press of his mouth bound her in place.
If possible, Julia’s heart thudded even faster than it had before. The surging pulse drummed through her entire being, reverberating in places she didn’t even know she had. From what she could remember of her dream with Cole, her feelings had been poignant but tender. The sensations coursing through her now weren’t entirely that. An exhilarating passion was sweeping her up in a shocking tide.
“Who am I now?” Will whispered against her mouth.
She loosened her grip on his jacket in speechless surprise, too breathless to tell him she didn’t care.
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Somewhere My Love is also available at The Wild Rose Press
Read Beth's Chapter Preview of Somewhere My Lass