Farewell My Innocent
Farewell My Innocent
Our honeymoon of lust and sexual awakening was over in four days. Preston had only a week before he would report to his company and soon be shipped overseas. It was decided that I would stay in the Wilkes' family home, although no one consulted me about this decision. Had they, I would certainly have recommended that I go home to mama as stay with strangers in a place that was so foreign to me as the forbidding North.
Preston took me to the family home, an enormous clapboard mansion by the sea. A look of shock must have filled my face seeing the estate for the first time. I stood in my tracks unable to move for several minutes, gazing about in wonderment. The scope of his family wealth had oddly eluded me during our brief time together.
"This belongs to you?"
He laughed. "Hardly, but perhaps some day I'll own the quarter of it over there." He gestured to left wing of the house and its long stretch of gabled windows, shuttered in black. "I'll share it with my sister and my brothers," he explained. He was the youngest of four. "There's a reception here tonight."
"Of course, for us. Mother was incensed that we eloped. So you can expect this will be one hell of a party."
"We didn't elope," I was quick to remind him.
"I'm afraid that's how she sees it."
"But, Preston, I don't know a soul!" I declared unhappily.
He tousled my hair like he would a kid. "That's the point, darling. You'll meet them all tonight, the family and friends, then you won't have to be bothered later. Just plaster on that becoming smile and nod your head politely. You won't have to bother speaking, they'll be enough chatterboxes to keep the conversation going to well past midnight." He pulled me to the house, a reluctant child of poor parents required to understand in minutes what would take years of training to properly access. I walked up the steps, through the foyer and into the front room so overwhelmed by the finery of two hundred years of Wilkes' heritage that my mouth was completely agape and my eyes bugged out like a scared animal.
"Mother, father, this is Stacia Beaureguard," he half-bowed in a gentlemanly way as he introduced me to his parents. "And, of course, Sam," he added his brother, making a half turn to show me off to his older sibling. Mother and father were classically wealthy Northerners, mother dressed off the rack of New York boutiques, at the moment in a black sheath that accentuated a svelte and graceful figure. Her brassy red hair was coifed into a neat French twist, while her eyebrows were arched over emerald eyes, and her lashes trimmed in black. Chic, sexy and still maternal; to cut such a perfectly imposing figure she must own half the world. The other half I'd have given to her husband, a solemn, straightforward man, who said very little during this meeting-forecasting a tight-lipped manner that pushed him to the background of family politics. In other musing moments, I imagined that his law ruled his kingdom, unemotionally but without argument.
My first innocent impression of my in-laws was one of tongue-tied awe. I could hardly get my, "How do you do?" out of my mouth, as I awkwardly extended my hand. I realized then how very little I knew about my new husband. Our courtship and marriage had been steeped in sexuality, with little time or energy for the mundane essentials of our lives to be discussed. The two worlds of Preston Wilkes seemed grossly at odds, and in those initial moments inside my husband's more respectable public domain, I shrunk back as afraid of this one as I was of the sexual one I was more accustomed to.
"I would have thought you'd have married a more vivacious woman," his mother peered at me critically. Then she smiled, "But she's very pretty." She gave her son a warm hug and me a perfunctory one before rattling on, "You know you gave me little time, Preston, to get a proper we