Part 11: link
Much later, the bar is mostly empty. Merlin comes over to sit beside an Arthur who has pretty much been moping on and off since Gwen left.
“She’s not dead, Arthur,” Merlin says, sitting down 다음 to him.
“May as well be. I’ll probably never see her again.”
“You don’t know that. I saw 당신 walk her out before.”
“Did 당신 키스 her?”
“She let me hug her. For a few seconds. I think I may have kissed the 상단, 맨 위로 of her head.”
“You think? 당신 don’t know?”
“Pretty sure I did.”
“Arthur, listen,” Merlin says, leaning back in his chair. “You’re clearly in 사랑 with her.”
“Shh…” Arthur shushes him.
“Why? Who’s left here? Gwaine? Got news for you, mate, he already knows.”
“Didn’t have to. He’s smarter than he looks. Anyway, 당신 want to be with her?”
“Then go somewhere where 당신 can be together. Leave. Go north. It’s legal there, right?”
“Leave? I’ve lived here all my life, Merlin. So has Guinevere.” Arthur sounds unsure, but he looks as though he is thinking it over.
“Arthur, do 당신 사랑 Gwen?”
“You can’t be together here. I mean, look at my mum and me. She didn’t like how things were where we lived, so we left. Easy.”
“It’s not easy, Merlin.”
“Yes, it is, Arthur.”
“Where would I go?”
“Don’t 당신 have family up north? A cousin 또는 something in… Minnesota?” Merlin asks, gesturing vaguely.
“Uncle Gaius, in Milwaukee. That’s Wisconsin.”
“He’s a lawyer as well, I assume?”
“Call him. I’d be willing to bet he’ll have a place for 당신 at the northern branch of Pendragon Law.”
“What about Guinevere?”
“Surely there are schools in Milwaukee, Arthur.”
“What if she says no?”
“Then she says no. But 당신 won’t know unless 당신 ask.”
Tuesday morning, Arthur finishes up his paperwork from the trial. He left the billing business to Leon, unable to face extracting money from his Guinevere. It feels like theft.
He has trouble keeping his mind on his work, his brain drifting between thoughts of calling his uncle and the dream he had last night. I soar above the city, one arm outstretched, the other holding Guinevere to my side. My Lois Lane. My red cape flaps in the wind behind us as we ascend to the stars, and I steer north, leaving Memphis behind us.
“Arthur?” Uther pokes his head in the door, snapping Arthur out of his 슈퍼맨 dream memory.
“Yeah? Oh, hey, Pop.”
“Congratulations. 당신 did us proud. 당신 did yourself proud, Son.”
“Thanks, Dad. Luck was on our side, though. Man was a grade-A sleaze.”
“Well, he’s going to be put away for probably the rest of his life now, because of your efforts. Well done.”
“Thanks,” Arthur says again.
“So would 당신 care to explain to me why it looks like someone just shot your dog, then?” Uther sits.
“What? Oh. Just a bit tired, I guess. Adrenaline from the trial has worn off,” Arthur says. Merlin was right. I have to stop being so obvious.
“So, nothing to do with a pretty colored girl whom 당신 no longer have an excuse to see regularly?” Uther pries.
“Maybe a little,” Arthur admits.
“Or a lot,” Uther corrects. “Arthur, it’s for the best. It can’t happen, not here. I’m sorry you’re upset, but until the law changes, that’s how it is. And unfortunately, we don’t know when that law will change. If it ever will. Try to put your feelings aside, Arthur. It’s just too dangerous for her.”
“I know,” Arthur says with a sigh. “Thanks, Dad. I’m glad I was able to show 당신 that I’m capable of 더 많이 than handling traffic violations.”
“Oh, I knew that all along, Arthur. But I also know that 당신 never like having anything just handed
to you,” Uther says, chuckling. He stands. “All right. I’ll let 당신 finish your work there. Have lunch with me?”
“I have plans already,” Arthur lies. “Rain check?”
“Okay,” Uther nods, and turns to leave.
“Oh, hey, Pop?”
“I’m supposed to tell 당신 that… Bob Caerleon says hello.”
Uther just snorts a laugh, obviously in on the same secret joke that the FBI agent was smirking about, and leaves.
The door closes, and Arthur counts to ten, just to make sure his father is gone. Then he flips through the Rolodex on his 책상, 데스크 and finds the number he is looking for.
A 분 later, a friendly voice 답변 the phone. “Pendragon Law Offices, this is Elena, may I help you?”
“Elena, Arthur Pendragon. How are you?”
“Mr. Pendragon! How nice to hear from you. I’m very good, how are things down south?”
“Probably warmer than they are in Milwaukee,” he jokes.
“Probably? Try definitely.”
Arthur chuckles. “Is Gaius available?”
“Yes, he’s in. I’ll transfer you. Take care,” she says.
“Thanks, 당신 too.”
A moment later Arthur hears his uncle’s voice. “Gaius Pendragon.”
“Arthur! This is a pleasant surprise. What can I do for you, my boy?”
“Well, I’m actually wondering if 당신 can help me with something,” Arthur says, tapping his pen on his desktop nervously.
“Anything for my 가장 좋아하는 nephew,” Gaius says indulgently.
“I’m going to bypass the fact that I’m your only
nephew,” Arthur says. “But I possibly need a favor. Quite a large one. Maybe.”
“Really, Gwen? 당신 want to do this? I mean, thank you, but don’t 당신 need it?” The principal of Gwen’s school is sitting at his desk, staring at the check in his hands.
“Not really,” Gwen shrugs. “Elyan and I paid off the mortgage on our house first, and then we 스플릿, 분할 the rest of the settlement.”
“This isn’t all
of your share, is it?” he asks, setting the check on his desk, swiping his hand up over his bald brown head, a nervous gesture he gets when he’s agitated. Probably why he’s bald. He rubbed all his hair off.
“I kept a little for myself,” she tells him. Not that it’s any of your business.
“But I want this school to have something. Buy some new 책 for the children. Replace those broken swings in the playground. I just hate it that everything we have is secondhand just because we’re a colored school.”
“I am. Make sure it gets used on things for the children,
Earl. Promise me.”
“I promise, Gwen. For the children. Thank you. And congratulations on winning your case.”
Gwen stands. “Technically, we settled. But I reckon that’s still a win. Plus a no-good child rapist got put where he belongs, so more’s the better.”
“What?” Earl asks.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, Earl, didn’t 당신 read the papers this mornin’? It was on the front page.”
“Oh…” he leans over, reaching for a newspaper on the windowsill behind him. “Oh. Oh.
“Trial took an unexpected turn,” Gwen chuckles. Unexpected for Alined, that is.
“Have a good one, Earl.”
“Hmm?” the principal is absorbed in the 기사 now. “Oh, yes, 당신 too, Gwen.”
Gwen spends the afternoon at home, catching up on laundry and housework, two things that have languished while she concentrated on the trial. “I came straight up here and took a long, hot bubble bath.”
Scrubbing her bathtub, she remembers saying this to Arthur on Sunday. Why on earth did I tell him that? Obviously I wasn’t thinking. Obviously it put 이미지 in his head. I just can’t think straight around him sometimes.
She leans back and turns the water on, rinsing the cleanser down the drain, swishing the water with her hand to get it all rinsed. I wonder what he’s doin’ right now? Surely not scrubbin’ his bathtub.
She chuckles to herself as the image of Arthur scrubbing anything
crosses her mind’s eye.
Gwen stands and wipes her hands on the 앞치마 she is wearing. She looks at her reflection in the mirror, her face slightly sweaty from working, her hair held back in a kerchief to keep it out of her way. I look like someone’s maid,
she thinks, frowning at herself. I am also done cleaning. Tired.
She turns the faucet on in the sink and leans forward, splashing cool water on her face. She dries her face, pulls the scarf from her head, and re-secures the ponytail in back, choosing to leave it in for the time being. As she reaches for the ties of her apron, she hears a knock at her door.
“Gwen? 당신 in?”
“Yes, Elyan, what do 당신 want?” she calls back.
“I brought 집 some pork chops and greens from the market that are just beggin’ for some 사랑 from my big sister.”
Gwen sighs and leaves her 앞치마 on, walking to the door.
are begging, 또는 you?” She open the door and gives him the look she learned from her mama.
“Okay, me. Cook us supper?” It’ll keep my mind off of other things,
she decides. Things I need to stop thinkin’ about.
After dinner, Elyan announces that he’s going to meet Latoya at Gwaine’s and actually asks if Gwen wants to come along.
“No, I don’t think so,” she says. Arthur might be there,
a nagging voice inside mentions. “I’m still dead tired; I think I’m going to go upstairs and look at the television.”
As Elyan drives off in his truck, Gwen heads upstairs and pulls her 앞치마 off finally, depositing it in the hamper. She goes into her bedroom, intending to just put her pajamas on and make an early evening of it when she glances out her bedroom window and sees what she thinks is a familiar figure outside. Is that Arthur? What is he doin’ here?
Wait… why is he walkin’ away?
She watches him drop into the 좌석 of his car, but he doesn’t start the engine. He sits. Then he gets out again. He starts walking back to the house, gets halfway there, and stops.
Suddenly wide awake, Gwen holds her breath and hides behind the drapes, not sure if she wants him to see her peeking.
He turns around and goes back to his car again, and she slumps against the wall. It hurts,
she realizes. This is what it feels like when your 심장 breaks.
She hears his car start and, before she can think, she grabs the keys to the Impala and runs down the stairs and out the door. I’m gonna get arrested for being in this neighborhood,
she thinks as she walks slowly up to the door of his building. She scans the list of buttons, finding the one with A. Pendragon
다음 to it and pressing it.
She almost loses her nerve. “…Arthur?”
“Yes… can I—”
A crass buzzing sound interrupts her before she can even ask, and she pulls the door open and enters the building, climbing the stairs to the 초 floor.
She knocks quietly on the door and he opens it immediately. She steps inside without a word.
“I followed 당신 here,” she says. “I saw you. Out the window.”
The look on his face tears at Gwen’s heart. She wouldn’t have thought that a single person could feel so many emotions at once. My face probably looks similar,
“I’m scared, Guinevere,” he finally says. “Now that the trial’s over… I’m scared that I’ll never see 당신 again. The thought of not getting to see 당신 every day, not getting to spend time with 당신 anymore, just…”
They are standing just inside his door, staring at each other, both too afraid to move, too afraid to speak their true feelings.
“I know,” she whispers.
She nods, blinking back tears that she can’t explain.
“I…” he trails off a moment, trying to summon his courage. “Would 당신 like to sit?” he blurts.
“Yes, thank you,” she says, exhaling heavily. He ushers her to a leather sofa, sitting beside her.
“Guinevere,” he starts again, his fingers drumming nervously on his knees, “I think… I think I’m in 사랑 with you.”
Gwen gasps. Her 심장 races. She feels warm all over. Then he takes her hand softly in his and she feels slightly faint.
“No… I know I’m in 사랑 with you. I’ve never met anyone like you. You’ve turned my world on its head, and I’ve… I’ve never been happier than I am when I’m with you.”
“If 당신 tell me 당신 don’t feel the same, I will never bother 당신 again,” he whispers, squeezing his eyes shut.
“Arthur, if I didn’t feel the same I wouldn’t have followed 당신 across town,” she says.
“Oh,” he says dumbly, opening his eyes, which are suddenly lit with some mysterious inner flame that Gwen can feel burning in her belly.
She closes her eyes. “I do 사랑 you, Arthur,” she admits. “I’ve loved 당신 for probably longer than I’d be willing to admit.”
He smiles then, and exhales the breath that she didn’t know he was holding.
“So what now?” she asks, her 심장 dropping again as she lets reality creep in.
“Well,” Arthur says, studying her slender hand clasped in his, noting how small it looks compared to his own. He strokes the soft brown skin on the back of her hand with his thumb once, and continues. “Long term, I’m not sure yet. But right now… I’d really like to 키스 you.”
Gwen gasps softly, her lush lips parting, and all Arthur wants to do is dive into them and never look back. Instead, he swallows and says, “That is, if I have your permission.”
Unable to speak, Gwen nods, her 심장 pounding furiously as he leans towards her, his free hand rising to cup her cheek and gently tilt her face to meet him.
His lips touch hers, soft, undemanding. Almost polite. Gwen’s eyes flutter closed and the hand he is not holding comes to rest on his upper arm. She feels him start to withdraw and suffers the briefest moment of panic. Her body acts once again before her brain can catch up, squeezing his arm just a little and leaning 앞으로 slightly, pressing her lips 더 많이 firmly against his. Don’t go away yet,
she seems to say. Arthur’s hand moves slightly, his fingers brushing the soft curls behind her ear, his thumb stroking the soft skin of her cheek. He fights the urge to slant his mouth hungrily over hers and part her delicious lips with his greedy tongue. You are a gentleman.
Finally they break away from each other, their lungs crying out for air. They stare into each other’s eyes, breathing heavily, reeling.
“Come away with me,” Arthur finally says, his voice soft but rushed, as if he is afraid there is someone listening at the door, someone who is going to burst in and snatch her away from him.
“What?” Gwen asks. Did he just say what I thought he said?
He lifts her hand and presses it to his chest, and Gwen can feel his 심장 pounding furiously beneath her palm. “I… I want to be with you, Guinevere. I 사랑 you. I need you. But we can’t be together here. Let me take 당신 away, to somewhere where we’d be allowed to be us.
Where we could even be… married.” Married?
“Oh my…” she breathes, unable to form any coherent thoughts yet.
“Do 당신 feel my heart, Guinevere? This is what 당신 do to me. I just think about 당신 and it starts to beatin’ like this.”
He drops his hand from over hers, thinking she’s about to turn him down. But to his surprise, she leaves her hand there, over his heart.
“It’s just so much...” she starts. “In a few short moments we’ve gone from ‘I’ll miss spending time with you’ to ‘I 사랑 you’ to ‘let’s run away and get married.’ My mind is all a-flurry…”
“I’m going to 키스 당신 again,” he says, then leans over before she has a chance to answer. My, but his lips are soft.
The thought floats unbidden into Gwen’s brain. Arthur’s hand is at her cheek again; his other tentatively touches her waist, holding her gently. Her fingers curl against his chest, catching on his 셔츠 buttons.
This 키스 is slightly different. It’s less polite, 더 많이 ardent, as if he is trying to convince her without using words.
Arthur breaks the 키스 this time, gazing into her lovely brown eyes as he backs away.
“I can’t think when 당신 do that…” she says, gasping slightly, finally dropping her hand from his chest.
“That means I’m doin’ it right,” he says, a small impish grin playing about his lips. “And I ain’t even kissed 당신 properly yet,” he adds, muttering almost to himself.
Her eyes widen at that prospect for just a moment, but then she stands and moves a distance away. “I just need to think a minute,” she says. “And I can’t do that when you’re so close.”
“What’s to think about?” Arthur asks. “You 사랑 me?”
“Do 당신 want to spend the rest of your life 의해 my side and let me take care of 당신 and 사랑 당신 and make 당신 feel like 당신 are the luckiest woman who ever walked the earth?” Oh, Lord.
“Yes,” she says quietly, overwhelmed.
“Then come to Milwaukee with me.”
“I have an uncle there. He’s willing to take us in for a bit. To help us out. And mixed race marriage ain’t illegal in Wisconsin.”
“Arthur, do 당신 really think your daddy’s gonna let 당신 spend his money so 당신 can run off and marry a colored girl?” she asks, confusing tears pooling in her eyes now.
“I don’t need his money, Guinevere. I have my own. And 당신 have… 당신 didn’t keep any of your settlement money, did you?” It’s 더 많이 of a statement than it is a question.
She looks down. “I kept a little. We paid off the house before we 스플릿, 분할 it. Then I gave most of my share to my school.”
Arthur smiles. “Smart girl. I knew it from the first moment I saw you.”
“Arthur, what do 당신 mean, 당신 have your own money?”
He stands and crosses to her. “I have a trust fund from my mother. I wasn’t able to touch it till I was 25. I’ve been 25 for six months now. It’s just sittin’ there, waitin’ to be cashed in.”
“How much?” she asks quietly, knowing full well that it’s none of her business but also knowing full well he’ll willingly tell her.
“I don’t exactly know,” he says, furrowing his brow. “Somewhere around eleven million dollars, I think.”
Her face is blank. “I can’t even comprehend that amount of money, Arthur,” she finally says, her mind reeling. She turns slightly, toward the window
“Please?” His voice is quiet, plaintive.
Gwen sighs. “Just because we’re allowed
to get married there doesn’t mean that people are gonna necessarily like
the idea, Arthur,” she says, looking out the window, down at the darkening street.
like the idea?” he asks, standing right behind her but not touching.
“Yes,” she whispers.
“I know I
like the idea. What do we care whether anyone else likes it?”
“Arthur…” she sighs.
“Look, I realize that it won’t always be smooth sailing,” he says, stepping even closer, his hands on her upper arms, rubbing up and down, “but I’m willing to take the risk, because 당신 are worth it to me. The rewards outweigh the dangers, as far as I can see.” He leans 앞으로 and kisses the 상단, 맨 위로 of her head.
“When?” she finally says.
“We can leave right now if 당신 want,” he says, and she can hear the smile in his voice.
“Arthur, don’t talk nonsense! We’ve got jobs, 당신 gotta tell your Daddy, I gotta tell Elyan. Oh, Lord, Elyan…”
“If it’s all the same to you, I don’t wanna be there when 당신 tell him,” Arthur says.
don’t wanna be there when I tell him,” she says dryly, turning around now. “But he deserves to know. We can’t just sneak off in the middle of the night like a couple of criminals.”
“Will your work be a problem?” Arthur asks, his fingers toying with a curl at her shoulder.
“Prob’ly not. I’ve been gone so much this fall between Daddy’s death and the trial, and I’m sure the substitute teacher’d jump at the chance to have my job.”
“So, when? Soon, please…”
“What 일 is today? Lord, I don’t even know the 일 anymore…”
“Tuesday,” he says softly, his finger tracing the line of her jaw.
She closes her eyes. “Saturday?”
Arthur smiles broadly. “Saturday,” he repeats, pulling her to him and wrapping her in his arms. He feels her arms 옮기기 around his waist and his 심장 soars as they stand there, just holding each other close.
He pulls back slightly and lifts her chin again, slowly moving them away from the window. “I think we need to 봉인, 인감 our agreement. Properly,” he purrs, implications plain in his voice.
“Properly?” she asks, suddenly feeling at least ten degrees warmer.
“Mmm-hmm,” he says, swooping down to capture her lips with his, swiftly and softly, gently taking her lower lip between his, savoring the succulent flesh. His tongue slips 앞으로 now, and he feels the jolt that runs through her when his tongue caresses her upper lip, coaxing her lips apart for him.
Gwen whimpers softly and parts her lips, allowing his tongue to slide in between them. Her curious tongue touches his once, a soft flick, and his arms tighten around her. So she does it again, and again, until their tongues are dancing, caressing each other within the confines of their joined mouths, the world and all its troubles forgotten for just a few moments.
Finally they release one another, breathless and scattered, wanting 더 많이 but not daring to take it.
“I declare,” Gwen whispers, “there was nothing proper about that at all.
Arthur looks mortified for a moment, afraid he’s pushed too far, too soon. Then he sees the glimmer in her eye as she stands there literally fanning herself with her hand, and his face splits into a grin.
Part 13: link