Flashback: Past, Present and Future

Disclaimer and rating - see first part.

Chapter 8: Losing it.

Present time

Time had seemed to stand still for Joseph. He had no idea what Clarisse knew and what she didn’t. His logic told him that, because of her reaction, obviously she knew something. However, she had asked him to marry him only 2 days later, so whatever she knew, she must have been able to get past it. For the first time in his life, he was at an absolute loss as to what to say next. In retrospect, he thought he should have spoken to Charlotte at some point in the last few days to see if the Queen had spoken to her about any of this, but everything had gone by in such a whirlwind since that night that he really hadn’t had the opportunity. In addition, they had both agreed when they got back in the palace that night that they wouldn’t speak of it again. So he waited…

Clarisse, also, was battling with herself. She thought she had dealt with this and that she would be able to put it behind her. She had spoken to Charlotte the next night after it happened. She thought back to the day she had broken Joseph’s heart.

Back in time:

He had stepped into her arms as she was dancing to one of the musical selections for the reception. God she loved being in his arms…throughout her entire life she had never felt safer than when she was there, surrounded by his warmth and strength. She decided to enjoy it for as long as it lasted because she knew in her heart that, once she told him she had to put him off once again for duty to her country, he would be hurt. But she had decided a couple of nights ago, after the fiasco with Mia at the garden party, that she had to focus on her granddaughter and ensuring that she had all the help she needed in ruling the country. She remembered her words to Mia,

“You can’t afford to lose it. Other people lose it…we’re supposed to find it!”

They had been harsh words, but words she felt had been necessary to remind Mia that there was a responsibility that came with the crown – she didn’t get the privilege of behaving however she felt or following whims, she had to behave in a manner becoming a queen.

So Clarisse had laid her head on his shoulder to enjoy whatever time she had left before the wall came between them once again. His voice had cut in as the music was starting to end, “Have you been thinking about us?”

Quietly she had responded, “Yes, I have.” She inwardly reminded herself that she “…couldn’t afford to lose it…” she had a duty to fulfill.

“I see” came the resigned response. The look on his face almost broke her heart right then and there. “If you’ll excuse me.” He turned to walk away; and, then…she lost it… she had ran after him like some young girl in primary school and grabbed his hand. Perhaps if she could explain...maybe if he listened to what she had to say…he would understand…he would stay…

She heard the words coming out of her mouth – even though the Queen in her was chiding her telling her she was losing it – being foolish and emotional, but she ignored that side of herself and barreled on. “You had to know what I was going to say…Mia needs me now –more than ever before. It’s the monarchy – I mean as Queen, it’s my responsibility. You know how it is.”

He didn’t back down and she could see the hurt and perhaps something a little more in his eyes, but she wasn’t sure what it was. “You were never just my Queen, Clarisse. You were the someone that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.”

She started to interrupt but his words cut her off.

“But…if you prefer that I see you first and foremost as my Queen…I shall oblige.

Her heart had dropped into her stomach – that was it…she had lost him. The Queen had won and Clarisse had lost. She made one last attempt to bring him back as she reached up and cupped her hand to his cheek as she had done during special moments through their life together.


She had thought he was leaning into her hand, but she was wrong. He simply had made a small bow and gazing one last time into the

windows to her soul, he simply said, “Your majesty.” And with that he turned and was gone.

She had stood there for a moment staring after him…hoping he would come back, but there was only the breeze rustling the lace in the doorway. She walked over to turn off the music – she was not interested in making musical selections for dancing – she was not interested in dancing…nor was she interested in selecting a place setting. She was lost in her thoughts when she had heard Charlotte approach.

“Your Majesty – may I have Princess Mia come join you now to go over the wedding meal?”

Never any privacy – never any peace, “No…I…I. Princess Mia doesn’t need to be…not now Charlotte.” She was trying to be polite, but her patience was wearing thin. She heard Charlotte asking her something about dinner. How could she be concerned about food when the man she loved had just walked out?

“NO! I just want a second for myself.” There, it had happened, she had absolutely lost it. She was now yelling at probably the only person, besides Joseph, who knew and understood her for who she really was – not just as the Queen. She took a deep breath.

“Charlotte…I’m sorry. I’ll just get something to eat from the kitchen later.”

She looked up at Charlotte standing at the top of the stairs and pled with her silently for understanding. Charlotte seemed to understand what was going on – she didn’t know how, unless she had been listening to her and Joseph’s conversation, but she had a look in her eyes. A look of understanding and one of loyalty – a deep seated loyalty that gave Clarisse a good feeling knowing that Charlotte would always be by her and would always do her duty to her country and Queen. Yes, Charlotte understood. And, just as if she had been reading her mind, Charlotte spoke.

“I understand your Majesty.” And with that, she bowed and backed out of the room leaving Clarisse gazing at the door wishing for Joseph’s return.

Present time

Of course, thinking back now, she had no idea how much Charlotte understood and to what lengths she had been willing to go to for the relationship with Clarisse and Joseph. She looked over at Joseph. He had alternated between staring at her and at the greenhouse. To his credit, he hadn’t said anything. He was just waiting…just as he always had done for her – simply waited. He was an extremely patient man - every time – except that night. That night – he…had lost it.

Back in time

She hadn’t seen Joseph for the rest of the day. It was probably just as well – she wouldn’t have known what to say to him. Lionel had been following her around like a puppy since Joseph wasn’t around – that boy had a lot to learn about being a guard to royalty. She had snapped at him several times throughout the course of the afternoon – she thought he may turn out to be alright, but he was never going to be Joseph.

Joseph…just thinking his name caused her heart to hurt. She decided that it was probably best that she lay low and stay in her office the rest of the day – that way, her only interaction would be with Charlotte. She didn’t think her heart could break anymore, but when she saw the envelope lying on her desk, she felt like it was now bursting into a million tiny pieces. She looked up at Charlotte, “Did he bring this himself?”

Charlotte thought her heart was going to break as well seeing her Majesty in such pain. “No, your Majesty. He has been in his room throughout the afternoon. It is my understanding that he asked one of the security staff to bring it to your office.”

“I see. Could I please have a moment, Charlotte?” The tears were threatening now. He couldn’t even bring himself to give her this letter himself.

Charlotte nodded and began to move towards the door. “If there’s anything you need, I’ll be right outside.”

“Thank you. I…I don’t know what I’d do without you, Charlotte.” Charlotte smiled a sad smile and then closed the doors.

The tears flowed freely now as Clarisse read Joseph’s letter…if one could call it that. It was more of a memo – drafted from an employee to his supervisor. There was no personal touch, no emotion – only facts. It indicated that, after Mia was crowned Queen, he would not only be resigning his commission as head of security and her personal body guard, but that he also would not be staying at the palace as originally planned as a security consultant. So that was it…after all these years, he was leaving her. A lifetime of pent up emotions came freely now. She was crying so hard her body was shaking – she couldn’t seem to control it.

Outside the doors, Charlotte heard the sobbing and her heart broke – for her Queen – for her friend. She wanted to go in and comfort her, but she knew the Queen would never allow it – she would be embarrassed that she had lost it and then walls would go up between her and Charlotte. So Charlotte cried along with her for several minutes until a thought came to her. There was something she could do to try and make this better. Yes – there was something she would do. She found Shades and asked him to relieve Lionel so the Queen could have some privacy and discretion when she finally emerged from her private office. She knew it was getting dark and the Queen would be leaving the office soon. Charlotte left instructions that he should let the Queen know she had to leave to attend some personal business and that she would check on her later. Shades simply nodded and Charlotte had gone off to find Joseph.

The Queen had finally composed herself and decided she would go to her room to freshen up, have some tea and then go for a walk. Yes, walking always made her feel better. She also decided she could have some privacy time. She would convince Lionel (as he was relieving Shades again for the evening shift) that she was going to meet Joseph and that he would be her escort. She knew there was no way Joseph would be anywhere near her tonight, but she could only pray that Lionel didn’t know that and would agree to let her walk alone tonight.

Fortunately his youth and inexperience had been to her advantage that evening and he had agreed to wait for her at the entrance to the gardens so she could meet with Joseph (he had heard from the other security staff that they sometimes liked to spend time alone, so he thought he was doing them both a big favor). After her tea, she left Lionel standing at the gate to the gardens and she finally had a moment to herself. She had just walked around for quite a while trying to clear her head. A lifetime of pain – first being married to a man she didn’t love, then losing him and her son in such a short time span; and, finally, not being able to spend the time she had left with the only man she ever truly loved. She knew that no walk in one evening time span was going to heal that pain. She decided to go to the greenhouse. She would tend to her roses – that always brought her some sense of peace. Yes – that was what she would do – spend some time with her flowers – that would make her feel a little better – even if it wasn’t going to solve any of her problems.

She had just rounded the hedge and started to make her way to the greenhouse when she caught sight of what she believed to be shadows moving in the greenhouse. The walls were of a strong plexiglass that was tinted green to provide some protection for the flowers from the harsh sun but still allow the light in. It worked the same with the moonlight and tonight there was a full moon. She stopped abruptly – now doubting her decision to leave her security far behind. She tried to move closer to see what was going on but didn’t want to be too close as she wanted an opportunity to hide behind the hedge should the need arise.

Time seemed to stand still as she tried to determine what the shadows were doing and who they were. She didn’t think they were thieves as there were many more valuable possessions in the palace other than her flowers, but she had no idea why anyone would want to be in there at this time of night.

She noticed the occupants, who had been sitting for a while now, had gotten up and were starting to come out the door. She stepped close to the hedge so she would be hidden mostly from view. She had almost fainted when she saw Charlotte and Joseph emerging from the door. Her hand had flown to her mouth to stifle any sound that might come out. She saw Joseph look around a bit, but he hadn’t seen her and then he put his hand on Charlotte’s back and they walked quickly to the secret tunnel to get back inside the castle.

She wasn’t sure what emotions she was experiencing at that moment. There were so many and they were all coming so quickly. They ranged from disbelief, to shock, to anger, to betrayal. “What the hell were those two doing in there? She couldn’t be certain, but it had looked like Charlotte was holding her blouse in a manner that made it seem like she had to hold it that way to keep it from falling off. She vacillated between anger and desolation as she realized how much her life had just changed in the matter of one day – a 12 hour period.

Oh yes, she thought to herself…I am definitely losing it.

With that she turned to go find Lionel and make her way back to the castle.

Chapter 9: Resolutions

Back in time

Clarisse had started to turn to go back to the castle when she decided to go back to the greenhouse. Perhaps if she went there, she would gain some understanding of what had just happened. She had no idea how, but wanted to at least try.

As she stood in the doorway, looking at her roses through the moonlight, she got the feeling that something had happened in here tonight. She couldn’t put her finger exactly on what it was, but because it involved two of the most important and closest people to her, she decided she had to find out. She inhaled one last time the sweet scent of the roses and had turned to leave when something caught her eye.

She bent down and picked up the shiny objects she had seen reflected in the moonlight. As she brought them up closer to her to examine what they were, her heart skipped a beat. They were buttons…and not just any buttons, they were the ones that earlier that day had occupied Charlotte’s blouse. She remembered Charlotte holding her shirt together as she came out. At first she had thought it was just a nervous tendency or something similar, but now she knew; whatever had happened in here tonight had caused Charlotte to lose buttons off of her blouse. Raising her head high and putting a look of determination on her face – she vowed to speak with Charlotte tomorrow morning to find out exactly what the hell had happened to cause her to practically lose her shirt.

She had had a restless night of sleep and woke early. She decided to go see Mia and that they would spend some time together alone…or as alone as they were ever allowed to be…just to bond and have girl talk before her wedding day. After that, she planned on talking to Charlotte.

What was supposed to be a relaxing day had quickly turned into a nightmare. Mia had been out all night with Nicholas and it was all over the morning news. Charlotte had been occupied, as had Clarisse, doing damage control and trying to see if Mia and Andrew were going to patch things up and if the wedding was still going to occur. Due to all the drama, she had not really had an opportunity to speak with Charlotte all day. She had finally gone into the kitchen late that night to have some tea – hoping that would calm her. She shook her head as she realized this was the second night in a row that she had found herself in the kitchen – it was beginning to be a habit. She could only hope that she was not serenaded by the maids again – she certainly did not need THAT tonight. As she sat at the table pondering the events of the last 24 hours, she looked up as she heard a noise. It was Charlotte.

“Oh, your majesty – I thought you would have retired by now.”

Clarisse looked at her with an odd look which caused Charlotte to wonder what was bothering her.

“Besides this whole Mia and Nicholas mess, is everything alright your Majesty?”

Clarisse looked directly at her with such an intense gaze that Charlotte began to feel very uncomfortable. She finally spoke, “Did you get all of your business taken care of?”

“Excuse me, your majesty? I’m not sure what you’re referring to.”

Clarisse didn’t let up – still staring intently, “The personal business you had to attend to yesterday evening. Did you get it all taken care of?”

Charlotte felt the weight of her lie. She had hated lying to the Queen, but she couldn’t think of any other valid reason to leave her alone during such a difficult time.

“Umm, yes, yes I did.”

Clarisse smiled at her and gestured toward the table. “Why don’t you sit down and have some tea with me and tell me about it? You know I feel very close to you, Charlotte and things that affect you – well they affect me as well. So I want you to tell me so I can be assured everything is alright for you.”

“Thank you, your majesty, but I really have some things that I must attend to.” Charlotte was trying anything to get out of that kitchen.

The smile never left her face, but her tone changed ever so slightly…enough that Charlotte knew she was not getting to leave. “I insist, Charlotte. Please sit down.”

She looked at her with resignation and sighed, “As you wish, your majesty.”

Clarisse poured the tea and handed a cup to Charlotte. As she took the cup, Clarisse noticed that her hands were visibly shaking. “Charlotte, are you alright – you’re shaking like a leaf.”

“I…I sense you’re upset with me, your majesty. I haven’t felt this nervous in your presence since my first day at the palace.”

Clarisse thought for a moment before responding. “I’m afraid I am somewhat upset. I fear you have lied to me and I’m unsure as to why you felt that necessary. I’m not sure what you were doing yesterday evening but I don’t believe you went off to take care of personal business.”

Charlotte was speechless – she wanted to tell her the truth, but couldn’t find the words to explain what had happened last night. Clarisse watched her internal struggle and finally decided to end the suspense. She reached into her sweater pocket and pulled out the buttons and laid them on the table in front of Charlotte. She watched as Charlotte’s eyes got even wider than before and her jaw visibly dropped.

“Would you care to explain to me what personal business you had in my greenhouse that required you to lose these?” She had delivered the words with a calm that she was definitely not feeling. She had thought that Charlotte would completely lose it now, but when she looked back up from the buttons to the face of the young woman, she saw something completely different. There were still tears in her eyes, but there was something else there, too – a look of resolve. She watched Charlotte get up from her chair and come to stand by her and then in a totally unexpected move, she knelt before Clarisse, bowed her head and spoke quietly but firmly, “I was doing my duty to my country and to you, your Majesty.”

Clarisse was now the one in shock. She looked back to Charlotte who had not moved from her position. Clarisse finally found words, “Your duty to your country and to me? I fail to see how being in the greenhouse with my head of security involves duty.”

She never moved, but again spoke quietly. “He needed you that night, your majesty. He needed to deal with his emotions towards you. He didn’t realize it, but that was what he needed. As I knew you were both too proud to go to each other, I went in your place. It was my duty to you. And, with all due respect, your majesty, if there is not reconciliation between you two; it will ultimately affect your ability to rule, which is where my duty to country comes in.”

Clarisse didn’t know what to say. However ill-advised Charlotte had been, her intentions were honorable and she had been following what she believed to be her duty. Clarisse reached down and touched her on the shoulder. “Please come and sit down. Let’s talk about this as two women – two friends would.”

Charlotte rose and sat down beside her.

“Please, Charlotte – tell me what happened.”

Charlotte thought for a moment about how much to tell the Queen. “I found Joseph in the greenhouse – he was in quite a state. He looked absolutely miserable. He told me to leave, but I refused. I told him I was there because it was my duty. He didn’t believe me at first but I guess the look on my face convinced him. He asked if anyone knew I was there; and, I believe, he was really asking if you knew. I assured him you were not aware of my presence there. We talked for a few moments longer and I walked over to him. I touched him on the face as I had seen you do many times before.”

Clarisse hadn’t realized that she had been that obvious with her affection and apparently had shown it often. Yet another crack in her Queen armor…

Charlotte continued, “I think that action made something inside of him snap. We struggled a bit and that was how I lost the buttons to my blouse.” She had decided that a half truth was better than the whole truth. There was no reason for the Queen to know the full extent of what had happened.

“Oh my God – he didn’t hurt you did he?” Clarisse was mortified that she might have been hurt because of her.

“No, your Majesty.” She was actually getting good at the half truths now – even if she still wasn’t entirely comfortable with them.

“Thank goodness.” The relief was evident in her voice. “But why were you two sitting on the ground for so long? I could see that through the windows.”

Charlotte swallowed hard – she wasn’t sure at this point how much Clarisse had seen. She decided to be honest at this point and hope that when they were sitting was the first point at which Clarisse could really tell what was happening.

“After we struggled a bit, he told me that while he appreciated the offer I was making, he couldn’t go through with it and then he just broke down and cried. I must admit your Majesty, I had never seen Joseph like that before – I felt so sorry for him and for you – I just sat on the ground next to him and held him while he cried.”

Clarisse waited quietly for her to continue.

“So when I sensed he had finally settled down, he talked about how his retirement might help him get a fresh start, but I told him that he loved you and that I knew you loved him, and that you just didn’t know how to show it right now. He told me he was going to try to go on without you. I told him I didn’t think that would work and he just smiled sadly and said he didn’t either but he had to try.”

Clarisse didn’t know what to do or say. Finally, she reached over and put her hand over Charlotte’s and spoke, “Well Charlotte, I appreciate you telling me all of this and I appreciate what you were willing to do for both Joseph and myself, however misguided it may have been. I feel I must speak with Joseph about this as it was not right for him to take his anger against me out on you – even if you were willing to be the recipient.”

Charlotte perked up at this, “Please, your majesty – don’t mention this to him. He was so very angry and upset that night and he is still hurting so much. He and I have worked out what happened between us and have agreed to never speak of it again. If I may speak freely, your majesty?”

“Of course, Charlotte.”

“Please…if you are going to speak to him, let it be to tell him that you listened to your heart and that you want nothing more than to be with him. Everything else will work itself out your majesty. Please consider my request.” Charlotte then lowered her head once again waiting for the answer that she knew would come.

“I’m sorry, Charlotte. I just can’t do that. Just as you have your duty, I have mine. I will honor your request and not speak about this to him as I have no desire to bring any more hurt to either of you. Joseph is a proud man and I’m afraid that he will not be interested in hearing anything I have to say on the matter of a relationship between the two of us.” The words had been spoken with resignation and a heavy heart.

Charlotte rose and looked at her friend – her Queen. In a bold move, she reached out and touched her shoulder, squeezing it slightly she offered, “Listen to your heart. He loves you and no matter how much pain there is right now, I truly believe that even the smallest gesture from you to offer hope – real hope – to him that there can be a relationship between the two of you will be readily received. You owe that to yourself – you owe that to him.”

Before Clarisse could respond, Charlotte picked the buttons up off the table and walked out of the kitchen leaving Clarisse alone with her thoughts.

As she walked back to her suite that night, she passed by Mia’s room and heard music coming from behind the doors. She knocked quietly unsure if she was still awake. Mia came to the door – she looked as bad as Clarisse felt. “Come in Grandma”

They sat on the couch in front of the fireplace – neither saying a word. Just staring into the flames and listening to the music.

Clarisse heard the piano and the words of the song Mia had chosen to listen to:

“Listen to your heart – when he’s calling for you. Listen to your heart…there’s nothing else you can do. I don’t know where you’re going and I don’t know why…but listen to your heart before…he says goodbye.”

Clarisse thought it ironic that Mia was sad because she was getting married tomorrow and Clarisse was sad, because she would never get to marry the one man she truly loved. What a cruel twist of fate. She leaned over and kissed Mia on the cheek giving her a hug and left for her own room without saying a word.

Present time

Clarisse looked at Joseph and made a decision. Although she had promised Charlotte she would not ask him about it, that was when she thought Joseph was leaving for good. But things had turned out quite differently and she felt it was time they cleared the air.

“So, would you like to tell me what happened that night?” She asked quietly as they both still stood staring at the greenhouse.

“Would it matter if I said no?” He offered.

She was slightly taken off guard by his response. She turned to look directly at him and used her hand to turn his face towards her. Leaving her hand on his cheek, she replied, “While I would respect your wishes, I must tell you that I think it’s important that whatever happened that night be dealt with out in the open so we can move forward. It’s important to me Joseph.”

His hand covered the one that was on his cheek and he looked directly into her eyes, “It seems a lifetime ago now, Clarisse. We have each other now and that is the most important thing in the world to me. I don’t want to let what one night of anger did ruin anything between us. Can you understand that?”

She withdrew her hand, “What I understand is that you were angry with me and you took it out on poor, innocent Charlotte!”

He took a couple of deep breaths, he had tried to do it the easy way…but with Clarisse, it was never easy.

“Well, your understanding is partially correct. I was angry with you but there is nothing poor or innocent about Charlotte. She knew exactly what she was doing when she sought me out that night AND she knew whom she was doing it for – which was you, my dear.”

Their voices were starting to rise somewhat, “Oh, so now this whole episode is entirely my fault?”

Joseph had to bite his tongue to keep from answering the obvious yes. He tried to be a little more diplomatic, however. “Clarisse, it was a terrible set of circumstances that had everyone distraught and not thinking clearly. It was a terrible mistake and one that I wished had never happened, but it did and I can’t change that. Charlotte and I have found a way to make peace with it, all I’m asking is that you try and do the same.”

She was angry now, “Well, perhaps, that’s because you and Charlotte know exactly what happened that night; and I have been left in the dark. Which, as you may recall, is not a place I like to be. So I ask you again, my husband, what happened that night?” She had all but stomped her foot to emphasize her point.

He took her by the hand and led her into the greenhouse. When they were inside, he shut the door and turned to face her.

“Fine, I’ll tell you what happened. I came here looking for some peace. I had never been as angry at you…at our situation, as I was that night. Please understand Clarisse, you had broken my heart into a million pieces and then when you didn’t even comment on my resignation letter or come to see me to try to change my mind…it shattered even further.” He stopped to take a few deep breaths before continuing on.

“I have loved you for so long and wanted you so badly. Do you know hard it was to always have you at arms length when we were dancing, but to never really be able to touch you and hold you like I wanted to? To know that I couldn’t compete with what held you away from me? Another man, that I could compete with…but your sense of duty? I couldn’t even come close…and that, my dear, frustrated the hell out of me.”

She started to come closer to him, but he stopped her. “No. You wanted to hear the truth about that night…and so you shall.” She could see the pain in his face as he was reliving the events of that day in his mind and it made her wish she had left well enough alone…but that had never really been her style.

“So, Charlotte came. I told her to leave and even threatened her saying that I couldn’t be responsible for my actions. She refused. She told me she was there to take your place and then she touched me on the cheek as you do and that was it – my resolve broke and I let my years of pent up frustration out on her.

Joseph came towards her – he took her by the shoulders and moved her back against the wall. “I pinned her against the wall and I began kissing her like this.” He found her neck and began placing forceful kisses down her neckline towards her collarbone. Then he whispered in her ear, “Then I began unbuttoning her blouse, but I grew impatient and that’s when I ripped it.” He undid the buttons at the top of her dress until he had free access to what laid beneath the material, but didn’t go so far as to rip it. He then put his hands on her breasts and began kissing her on the neck again. Clarisse was breathing shallow breaths – not so much from fear but from arousal. She freed her arms to bring them around Joseph’s neck but he grabbed them and pinned them above her head. “That’s not what happened, my darling.”

Her words were no more than a whisper, “I should hope not. Please tell me you didn’t kiss her like you just kissed me.”

He didn’t release his hold, but his expression softened, “No, Clarisse. I was angry then – I’m not now. I’m being much gentler with you. Everything happened very quickly that night. I never kissed her on the lips and we did not have sex. In my haze of anger that night, I imagined only you…when I was touching her – I was touching you. Shortly after ripping her blouse, I heard Charlotte crying and realized that she couldn’t go through with it and neither could I. And then I broke. Charlotte comforted me after that, but only as a friend would comfort another friend.”

He stopped to compose his thoughts before continuing. He continued to hold Clarisse, her arms still above her head, their bodies touching – his breath creating small shivers down her body, though she felt anything but cold right now.

“Charlotte, however misguided, was acting out of a sense of duty. I, however, was angry. While I may have had good reason to be, that doesn’t excuse my actions and I’m sorry. I feel as though I betrayed you that night – even though I didn’t go through with it. I have never wanted to touch or be with anyone the way that I want to be with you. When I thought that was no longer even a remote possibility, I considered the substitute that was offered to me. But even in all that pain, I ultimately realized that in doing so, I was hurting Charlotte and you – and I could not bear the thought of that – even to relieve my suffering for a short time. As he spoke the words, he brought his hands slowly down her arms caressing them as they descended until they moved down her sides – his thumbs grazing over her breasts causing a sharp intake of breath from Clarisse.

She looked into his eyes as they were still only standing inches apart. “I, too, am sorry Joseph for all the pain I caused you. You are the most important person in my life and I seem to have caused you more pain than anyone else in my life and that’s not right.”

She pushed him back just a few inches and lowered the top part of her dress. Reaching her arms around his waist, she leaned forward and whispered in his ear, “Make love to me Joseph.”

“What? Here – now?” He couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

She moved back and pulled him to her – pinning herself against the wall again. “Yes, my love. Here and now.”

Chapter 10: If these walls could talk.

He didn’t need further prompting. He held her face between his hands and began placing feather-like kisses on her mouth. He increased his intensity and she responded in kind. After a few moments, he pulled back to look at her. Her eyes were closed and she seemed to be in a dream like state. Her lips were glistening in the faint moonlight that poured in through the windows. He couldn’t resist. He took his thumb and gently caressed her swollen lips. They parted slightly in response to his touch. His fingers followed the trail of his thumb across her mouth. She took her hand and brought his hand gently to her mouth. To Joseph’s surprise, she opened her mouth and took each finger, one at a time, into her mouth and gently sucked on it. The sensation caused a response throughout his entire body causing a rush of blood to his lower region.

His voice was barely more than a whisper, “God, Clarisse…what you do to me. Your mouth should be a registered weapon.”

This caused her to smile and stop her attention to his fingers. She opened her eyes, only slightly, and looked up at him with a coy smile on her face. Her husky reply almost caused him to lose his balance, “I’ve only begun, my dearest Joseph…only just begun.” With those words, she began undoing his tie and once freed from that, the buttons on his shirt, quickly followed.

She eyed his chest hungrily and turned her attention to the now exposed skin in front of her. Her kisses followed a similar pattern to his earlier. She nibbled and sucked on his earlobe and followed it with a trail of kisses down his neckline to his shoulder. He leaned his head back to allow her free access to any region she chose to grace with those wonderful lips and tongue. She alternated between licking and kissing as she worked her way down to his now, very alert nipples. When her teeth grazed over the sensitive area, she was rewarded with a sharp intake of breath and his reaching under her chin to bring her back up to eye level with him.

“My dear…if you continue your current direction, I fear I shall not be able to stand much longer. And, as much as I want to take you right here and now, I fear that the cold floor of the greenhouse will not be accommodating or forgiving for our, shall we say, mature joints.”

She leaned up and kissed him. In her best Queen tone, she stated. “I don’t plan on spending any time on that floor – whether my joints are mature or not. Queens do not lay on the floor, my dear. Which is why we are going to go to the back of the greenhouse where there is a padded bench that I think will work quite nicely.” She stepped out of her dress and shoes…picked the dress up with one hand and took his hand with the other as she led him towards the back of the greenhouse.

He grabbed his shirt and couldn’t help but smile as she led him towards the darkness of the back room. “So, just so I understand, Queens do not lay on the floor, but they have no trouble making love on a bench? Guess I still have a lot to learn about Queens – or at least one, in particular!”

She threw a devastating smile over her shoulder. “The most important thing you need to remember, my husband, is that the Queen must be pleased.” She stopped and turned towards him, leaning in to whisper in his ear, “Are you ready to please me, Joseph?”

He bowed so that he was now looking fully at her lace clad breasts. “Oh, most definitely, your Majesty…most definitely. Just lead the way.”

When they arrived in front of the bench, Joseph decided he was ready to be in the lead again. “Please lie down, Clarisse.” She did as she was told – her body was quivering in anticipation of his touch.

Reaching in his pocket, he pulled out a pocket knife. He walked over to a rose bush that held the most beautiful peach roses he had ever laid his eyes on. Carefully, he cut one of the roses leaving about 6 inches of stem beneath the rose. He quickly trimmed the thorns off as well – there had been enough pain this evening, he only wanted to give pleasure now.

“Joseph, what are you doing?”

“Preparing to please my Queen, my love.”

“Please hurry then…the Queen grows impatient.” He chuckled slightly. He loved the way she wanted him. Their physical relationship was so new – really only a few days old now and she certainly wanted to make up for lost time.

“Close your eyes, please.”

She complied and was rewarded with feeling the satiny touch of the rose on her forehead. He trailed the rose down her face, over her eyelids which fluttered slightly in response - over her nose and those beautiful lips. He loved the way her lips would slightly separate as they were being caressed - always accompanied by the quickening of her pulse and her breathing. He took each one of her hands in turn and stretched them out above her head. “Please keep them there, ok?”

“You keep doing that and I’ll do whatever you ask, my love.” He smiled at her response. She was definitely enjoying the sensations the touch of the rose was creating. He repeated the pattern on the other side of her face. He then moved up to her exposed wrists; the rose traveled from her wrist, down the inside of her arm, to the delicate skin of her underarm and then from the side of her breasts and up the creamy mound. The trail continued from her cleavage to her slightly rounded stomach. He spent some time lazily tracing circles on her breasts and stomach area. Her breath had become much deeper as the sensations were sending tingles that seemed to all be moving in the general direction of her core. He repeated the process on the other side, paying special attention to her nipples that were now straining against the lace that held them captive. Her eyes were still closed, so he decided to repay the favor from earlier. While the rose trailed the path of her arm again, he leaned down and gently nipped at the taut nipple.

Her arms came forward quickly as she reached for his head. “Ahhh…Joseph…that’s not playing fair! I said ‘please’ not ‘tease’!”

He couldn’t help but laugh, “Must be my mature hearing, my love. My apologies.”

“You’re forgiven only if you get me out of the rest of my garments and you lose yours as well.”

“You are truly a vixen, my love.” He started to reach around her to lift her to unhook her bra.

“Umm, Joseph.”

“Yes, beautiful.”

“It unhooks in the front.”

“Well that certainly makes things easier, now doesn’t it?”

They both started to laugh when suddenly he lay down on top of her and covered her mouth with his hand. As it was completely unexpected, she started to struggle a bit. His only response was, “Shhh!”

Then she heard it too. “Grandma? Joe? Where are you guys?” Mia had apparently said her good nights to Nicholas and was now looking for her grandparents. They heard the door open at the front of the greenhouse.

“Hello! Anybody here?”

Clarisse and Joseph didn’t dare move or breathe.

They heard some slight movement towards the front and then the door closed again. Joseph waited a moment and then got up and walked a little towards the front. There was no sign of Mia.

Walking back, he smiled, “Coast is clear.”

“That one certainly would have been tough to explain. I’m afraid we would have traumatized young Mia” They both started laughing again.

Joseph turned serious and made quick work of unhooking her bra and removing her panties – they joined the pile of clothing that was now accumulating on the chair next to the peach rose bush. The rest of his garments quickly followed. He picked up the flower and this time began on the soles of her feet and working his way up the inside of her leg. Her legs separated in response to his touch. He continued the journey of the rose carefully avoiding her blonde curls – just getting near enough to tease.

Her breathing had increased again and she opened even further for him as an invitation – pleading for his touch. Finally her wish was granted as she felt the soft petals gently caressing her folds.

“Oh God, Joseph – that is exquisite.”

He began working in tandem with the rose, letting it caress her center while his hands and mouth traded between her neck, breasts and mouth. As the sensations began to build, he laid the rose next to her so it was touching her exposed neck and moved in between her legs to let his mouth replace the caressing of the rose. His hot mouth was in sharp contrast to the cool, satiny touch of the petals.

He heard her gasp.

“Oh, Joseph, please don’t stop. I’m so close now.”

He couldn’t resist, “Then perhaps I should stop, my love. It is never good to rush something.”

She was exasperated, but in a good way, “I thought we discussed the difference between pleasing and teasing? Don’t make me explain it again as I don’t believe I will be able to think straight much longer.”

He continued to tease her. His mouth was so close to her that she could feel his breath and the vibrations of his deep voice against her curls. “Didn’t your mother teach you to say please?”


“See. All you had to do was ask.” And with that he separated the curls revealing the hidden pearl and began licking and sucking the exposed area. Electricity shot through her body like a lightning bolt as his tongue worked its magic. Her hands released the armrest of the bench and caressed his head and neck. She alternately begged him to stop and then pleaded with him not to.

He felt her release began to build. He slowed his tongue and caressed the inside of her thighs with his hands. Her hands had moved up from his head to pay attention to her currently neglected breasts. He let his hands mimic the slow, methodical movements of his tongue as he brought her close and then stopped time and time again.

Finally, she could take no more. The words came out in a stilted manner as she was fighting for breath with all the sensations coursing throughout her body.

“Oh, Joseph…I’m begging you, please.”

He trailed kisses along her abdomen, up her stomach – paying special attention to each breast and finally bringing his face in front of hers.

“You need never beg, my love.” With that, he plunged into her, causing her to cry out with pleasure. His mouth covered hers and their tongues joined the top half as they joined their lower half. He stroked her with long, steady strokes allowing the pressure to build in both of them. As he felt them both near, he increased his pace – holding on to the armrest above her head for additional support.

Her cries of ecstasy brought him closer to his own release but he continued to hold on until they could come together. The sensations finally granted them release as they both felt the beautiful cascading of emotion that only this act could provide.



They lay motionless for a few minutes…all energy spent basking in the love of each other. Finally, he moved off of her and, taking the rose in one hand and her hand in the other, he pulled her to a sitting position.

She smiled up at him. “It is a good thing that these walls cannot talk, is it not?”

He chuckled at the thought of the rather explicit story the wall could tell from tonight. “Most definitely, my dear.”

They dressed quickly as they remembered Mia had been looking for them earlier.

“We should probably freshen up and find Mia, shouldn’t we?” Clarisse asked.

“Yes. We probably should.”

He kissed her again stroking the rose down the side of her cheek. When they parted, he handed it to her. “I think you should take this as a keepsake from tonight, don’t you think?”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea.”

As they got ready to leave the greenhouse, Joseph noticed Clarisse looking around for something.

“What is it, my love? What’s wrong?”

A concerned look was on her face. “Joseph. I can’t find my shoes. They were right here by the door when I took them off.”

Joseph helped her look but the shoes were nowhere to be found. A panicked look crossed her face as she only could think of one explanation.

In unison, they both said out loud. “Mia!”