Hello, gather friends. Maybe you can help me with this one. It's set near Richmond, Virgina in the Antebellum time period (prior to the civil war). I'm having a heck of a time with dialogue. It all sounds contrived to me (I think it's the lack of contractions). Anyone know of good sources for writing believable historical dialogue? Suggestions? Should I read Gone with the Wind again? Or maybe I'm the only one who thinks the dialogue sounds contrived. I'm blabbering. On to the story.
Jonathan moved to a darkened corner behind the elegantly set tables and leaned against the wall. He stared into his crystal flute, watching tiny globes of pale gold rise to the surface of his champagne and burst with a fine spray. The bubbles tickled his tongue when he took a long drink, but did not warm his insides like the brandy he preferred. A waltz, played on the practiced strings of a cello, a viola and a violin, started in the background. He glanced up, catching sight of the newlyweds swaying on the dance floor. He should move closer to watch his sister's first dance with her groom, but someone might notice him. Someone like Gloria Raven. He cringed. Her ruby lips curled into a satisfied smile in the brief moment their eyes met. She headed in his direction.
"Jonathan! Jonathan Wolfe, there you are," she said. She pouted and tapped his shoulder with her folded fan. "Why are you hiding over here in the corner all by yourself?"
He shifted away from the wall uncomfortably.
"I was just taking a moment to myself," he said, avoiding her eyes so she didn't somehow perceive he was interested.
"That is just like you, Jonathan." She laughed. "You know you are the most handsome man in the room, and any lady here would swoon at the chance to dance with you, yet here you are hiding away from the world, pretending like we do not exist."
By we, he was certain she meant I. And he hadn't been pretending, he had been hoping. He scowled down at her, noticing the flush that spread across her cheeks. He didn't want to be rude to her, but he would rather spend the evening with his horse than in her company.
She lowered her eyes, pretending shyness. He knew her too well to fall for her ploys. "Well, are you going to ask me?"
Jonathan's eyebrows drew together. "Ask you what?"
She touched his sleeve and smiled up at him, waggling slightly to display her full bosom to its best advantage. "Why to dance, of course." She giggled and batted her eyelashes at him.
"I apologize, Miss Raven, but I have already asked someone else."
Surprise registered in her pale blue eyes. "You have?" She seemed uncertain of herself for a moment. "Who?"
Jonathan scanned the room for a single young woman. Any single woman would do. He dismissed those he recognized and finally settled on a brown-haired young lady sitting alone at a nearby table. He'd never seen her before, so he assumed Gloria would not know her either. The unknown woman wasn't what one would call beautiful. The word that came to mind was pleasant.
"There she is. Sitting over there waiting. I should not have kept her so long."
"To whom are you referring?" Gloria turned her head, blond ringlets sliding over one bare shoulder. "Surely you do not mean Elaine."
Jonathan bit his lip. He did not know any Elaine, but Gloria obviously did. He cleared his throat. "Yes, I asked Elaine to dance only a few moments ago."
Gloria laughed, nearly choking in her hilarity. "Jonathan Wolfe and Plain Elaine Dorhety. That is a good one! Come, Jonathan. I do not believe for a second that you could have any sort of interest in her."
Jonathan scowled at Gloria. Why couldn't he be interested in Elaine what's-her-name? It wasn't like the girl had horns and a hunched back. Perhaps she wasn't as glamorous as Miss Gloria Raven, but she wasn't the epitome of vulgarity. Jonathan knew nothing short of a bolt of lightning thrown straight from the hand of God would have stopped him from dancing with Plain Elaine at that moment.
"Excuse me," he said. "The next dance is about to begin." He stalked off without another word or even a backwards glance. He could practically feel Gloria's eyes follow him towards where Elaine sat. He knew she would be watching his every move, and for once, he relished the thought.
Elaine watched her cousin, Margaret, being led from the dance floor and out to the gardens by a handsome young man. She sighed heavily. She wondered what it would be like to be her cousin for just one evening. She wondered what it was like to be swept across the dance floor by a young man. He needn't be handsome. Any man would be suitable. It wasn't like she was looking for true love, but a turn around the dance floor would be nice, just this once. A stroll through the garden with her hand on the sleeve of an eligible bachelor would be like a dream come true. She wasn't asking for a miracle, just some indication that she was feminine. She frowned at her glass of champagne, watching the bubbles rise to the surface and burst. For just once in her life she would like to feel pretty, or at least appreciated. She never expected to be approached by the most attractive man in the room. Perhaps that is why she knocked over her glass of champagne when Jonathan Wolfe suddenly appeared at her elbow.
He caught her hand when she reached for a napkin to sop up the spreading liquid. She looked up at him, surprised he had touched her, aghast that she had made such a fool of herself.
"Leave it. The servants will get it. I was hoping you might help me."
Her eyes widened, and she feared she must look like a doe that's just spotted a hunter on the horizon. She tried to smile, and he smiled back. It was a smile of reassurance.
"I know you do not know me, but it seems that I have told a friend of mine that you agreed to dance with me. I would usually ask permission, but in this case, I am not taking no for an answer, so follow me to the dance floor, and I shall try to explain everything there."
"With you?" She must have misunderstood.
"Yes." He placed a hand under her elbow and eased her to her feet.
She allowed him to lead her to the dance floor, her heart pounding. He twirled her away from him and then back against his chest. She managed to stay on her feet, and tried to concentrate on breathing as he led her around the floor. He danced spectacularly. For some reason she felt that he was putting on a little show, but rather it was for her benefit or for someone else's she was not sure. She forced herself to look up into his eyes, and was shocked all over again when she saw that she was indeed in the arms of Jonathan Wolfe.
He was magnificently handsome. Green eyes that seemed to stare into her very soul were surrounded by long lashes the same soft brown color as is his silky hair. His nose was straight, his jaw strong, his lips, full and smiling at her. Perhaps she had died and gone to heaven.
"Are you nervous?" he asked.
"Is it obvious?"
"I apologize for pouncing on you that way. I wanted to get you out on the dance floor before Gloria had the opportunity to question you."
"Gloria? Gloria Raven?"
He nodded. "Do you know her?"
"She is my cousin. One of two dozen or so."
"I see. I guess I should introduce myself. I am--"
"Jonathan Wolfe. Yes, I know who you are." She was beginning to return to her senses. It occurred to her that he'd asked her to dance for some reason other than being taken by her charm and beauty. "I am Elaine Dorhety. Now, would you mind telling me what this is all about? Are you trying to make Gloria jealous or something?"
Jonathan laughed. Elaine's insides warmed at the delightful sound. "Not exactly," he said. "I was trying to get away from your cousin, and you just happened to be the handiest woman available."
"I see." She smiled up at him.
His eyes widened in surprise. "You are not angry with me?"
"I can easily understand why you would want to get away from my cousin." She relaxed in his arms.
He laughed. "I gather you have little affection for her."
"She has her moments. Of course they are rarer than an eight day week."
He laughed again, and drew her closer. The stiffness melted from his carriage and his movements as he led her across the dance floor became more graceful, if that was possible. "I thought it was just me."
His eyes moved to glance over Elaine's shoulder and a devilish light came into his eyes. She turned and caught the curious stares of several guests and the unsuppressed fury on Gloria's face.
"It seems that we have drawn a little attention," he said with an amused expression.
"I suppose every woman in the room is wondering how I could lower myself to dance with Jonathan Wolfe."
"I was wondering the same thing myself."
He shifted her scandalously closer, and she made no protest. Perhaps for once she could brag about her exploits with a man and Gloria could sit on the bed and try to stay awake through the tale.
"I think it will be some time before I am able to remove all of the daggers from my back," Elaine said.
"Perhaps we should take a walk out in the garden."
Elaine's heart kicked painfully in her chest. She must be dreaming, there was no other logical explanation. She bit the inside of her cheek, hard. Tears of pain stung her eyes. No, not a dream. She smiled up at him.
"I mean it will give Gloria a little something to think about," he said.
Her heart sank, but her disappointment didn't register on her face. He was still trying to get back at Gloria for whatever she had done to anger him. Still, she would not refuse to spend more time with him. He was pleasantly refreshing and had yet to chastise her for her unladylike words. Her father insisted it was the very reason she had yet to attract a suitor. She preferred to be heard rather than seen, a characteristic unbecoming to a young lady of her upbringing--especially one possessing no physical beauty.
"It is a bit warm in here," she said, and curtsied to him as the song ended.
The mischievous light in his eyes intrigued her as he bowed her respectfully, but she dared not ask what he was thinking for fear he would actually tell her. He linked her arm through his, and held her small, gloved hand against his forearm. They strolled toward the open doors that lead to the garden. Jonathan seemed to relish the whispering that followed in their wake.
"Everyone is looking at us," Elaine whispered.
"Pretend you do not notice." He took a deep breath as soon as they stepped out into the mild evening air.
"I have never done this before," she said, and giggled.
He stopped abruptly and looked down at her. "What exactly do you think my intentions are?" he asked, with a look she read as concerned.
"Well I assume we just walk around the garden and talk. What do we talk about?"
He smiled in relief. "You meant that you have never strolled through the garden with a man before. I thought you meant..."
"What did you think I meant?"
He looked away nervously. "Never mind what I thought." He cleared his throat. "Yes, walk and talk. That is the gist of it."
They started to walk again. He led her down a narrow path that wound away from the house and towards the tall rock wall surrounding the gardens.
"So, Elaine...do you mind if I call you by your given name?" She shook her head. "What do you do for fun?" he asked.
"Fun?" She had never contemplated the question before. "Well, I like to draw and paint, but my father says it is a waste of time. Helen sometimes buys me paints, pencils and canvas, but we have to keep it a secret."
"Who is Helen?"
"She is our housekeeper. She all but raised me after my mother died. Since mother's passing, father has not been satisfied with anything I do. My mother was a great lady. She was very beautiful like her sisters and my cousins. I take after my father in looks, and never quite understood why anyone would even want to be a lady." She wrinkled her nose.
Jonathan smiled. "What sorts of things do you draw?"
"Anything interesting. People, buildings, animals, trees. I like to examine things closely and then try to recreate them from memory later."
"Are you good?"
She looked up at him, head cocked to one side. "Don't you know better than to ask an artist if they are good? It is a trap. If they say they are good, you think they are arrogant, if they say they are bad you think they are modest. People will just have to judge for themselves."
"I would like to see some of your work sometime."
She brightened. Not only had he shown an interest in her work, but he had also suggested they might see each other again in the future. "That would be nice," she said. "So, what do you do for fun?"
"Escape," he whispered close to her ear, sending a shiver of delight down her spine.
"Escape? From what?"
"From life under the constant scrutiny of my father, my peers." He stopped and tested a tall iron gate at the perimeter of the garden. "As I expected, it is locked," he said, shaking the gate with a loud rattle. "I guess it is up and over then."
"Wait. We should go back, should we not?"
"I am not going back. In there, the room getts smaller and smaller until I am completely enclosed, stifled, trapped."
"I feel like I am invisible," she said quietly.
He touched her shoulder. "You are not invisible, Ellie."
She blushed. No one had ever called her Ellie before. "Take me with you."
"You shall never make it over the gate." He grinned, looking down at the layers of fabric that made up the skirt of her peach ball gown.
"If I make it over, will you take me with you?"
"Consider what you are asking, Ellie. Your reputation."
She laughed. "I could not get a reputation if I tried."
"If you are sure, and you can make it over the gate, I will take you with me. But make sure this is what you want. I do not want you to be hurt. A lot of people saw you walk out here with me. What will they think if we do not return?"
"What will they think if I return by myself? They will surely laugh me out of the place."
He sighed in resignation. "I will go first, and then you can give it a try."
She took a step away from the gate and watched him climb up it and over the top. He jumped down on the other side. He turned to look at her through the iron bars.
"Now take care not to break your neck. I would never forgive myself," he said.
"I shall try my best not to."
She climbed onto the gate finding good places to put her hands and slippered feet. She scaled the gate with little effort and flipped her body over the top like an acrobat. She dangled several feet above the ground, and struggled to keep her hands wrapped firmly around the top bar as she felt for a place to put her feet with explorative toes. Strong fingers wrapped around her waist, but she refused to let go of the cast iron bar.
"I have got you," he told her gently. "You can let go now."
"I appreciate your help," she said, between breaths of exertion, "but I have no need of it."
"Let go of the gate, Ellie." He pulled on her, but she refused to let go.
"I said that I do not need your help," she reiterated. "The deal was that I had to do this myself, and I am but half way done."
"Let go of the gate!" He yanked her off the gate and she toppled backwards, landing on Jonathan in a tangle of pale peach satin.
She gradually became aware of Jonathan pinned beneath her. His entire body quaked. A moment of concern was replaced by indignation when she realized he was laughing at her.
"This is not funny!" She scrambled off him, but he held her so she couldn't climb to her feet.
"Are you hurt?" he asked, sitting up beside her, but still holding her in place beside him.
"No, I am not hurt. Why did you prevent me from climbing down on my own?"
"That was quite impressive. I never thought you would get over the gate so easily. I just thought that I would give you a hand."
"Are you still taking me with you?" She asked, looking into his eyes in the dim light of late twilight.
"You are here, aren't you? We had better leave before someone discovers that we have jumped the fence."
He stood and offered his hand to her. She took it, strangely aware she was wearing gloves and wishing she wasn't. The idea of his bare skin against hers was far more intriguing than a young lady should acknowledge. She climbed to her feet, and stood next to him waiting for a cue as to what their next move was.
"Follow me," he whispered, and led her at a fast pace towards the horse stables in the distance.
She ran along a few paces behind him, her hand tucked securely in his. She still had not quite convinced herself that this was really happening. They drew to a halt near a long building that smelled of horses and hay. Jonathan peered through a small window, and then crouched down, pulling Elaine down beside him.
"You stay here," he whispered. "I will be back directly."
"Shh." He covered her lips with his fingers. "Stay here," he said again.
Her lips tingled where his fingers rested gently. She nodded slightly, never taking her eyes from his. He smiled recklessly then crept around the end of the building, leaving her to crouch beneath the window.
She remained there for what seemed like hours. Her calves ached and her back muscles stung. She realized he had deserted her. She had no one to blame but herself. She had thrown herself at him, forced him to bring her along. Could she blame him for abandoning her? She stood up and backed away from her waiting spot. She moved to stand against the wall, just outside the square of yellow light coming from the stable window. An odd prickling behind her eyes alerted her to impending tears.
"Fool," she chastised herself in a whisper. "What did you expect? That Jonathan Wolfe would have any interest in you whatsoever. Pah!" She hated her gullibility.
She started when the sound of hoof beats approached at a breakneck pace. A horse skidded to a halt just in front of her. Jonathan leaned from the back of the huge, black steed and offered her a hand. Too surprised to do anything but obey, she found a stirrup and he hoisted her onto the horse behind him. He kicked the horse into a gallop even before she had found a secure perch behind the saddle. She wrapped her arms around his waist, terrified that she would fall off, as the scenery raced past them. She closed her eyes and buried her face into his back, crinkling her billowing ball gown between them. She heard someone shouting Jonathan's name in the distance, but either Jonathan didn't hear the man, or he was the person Jonathan fled.
"We can slow down as soon as we get into the woods," he said breathlessly.
She didn't dare offer a reply. Her arms tightened around him a few more inches. After a while, the horse slowed to a sedate walk. She turned her head and opened her eyes to darkness. Little moonlight penetrated the thick canopy of trees.
"I am sorry if I frightened you," he said, his breathing starting to return to normal.
She made a small unrecognizable sound.
He chuckled. "You should have seen the look on your face when I stopped to pick you up."
She made another unrecognizable sound, and turned her face into his back again.
"Are you alright back there?" he asked, covering one of her clenched fists with his hand.
Her arms tightened again.
"We are almost there," he said. "Would you like to get down and walk the rest of the way?"
He laughed gently, patting her hand. "i guess I should have warned you that we might have to make a run for it. Jasper was given explicit instructions to stop me from escaping my sister's reception. I almost made it out without being caught, but Midnight here kicked a bucket on the way out of the stable door."
He leaned forward to pat Midnight's neck. Elaine wobbled unsteadily behind him.
"Please," she gasped, her eyelids tightly clenched again.
"We have stopped."
She chanced a peek out of one eye.
"I will give you a hand down." He worked on prying her fingers apart. "Maybe then I will be able to breathe again."
She didn't think it was funny, but was too afraid to tell him so. He finally got her hands apart, and took one of them in his own.
"I have got your hand," he said, "now swing your leg over the back of the horse and slide down."
"Well, one of us has to get off this horse first. It would be a lot easier if you climbed down first."
"I...I cannot," she said finally. It wasn't as if she didn't want to get off the horse. She'd be more than happy when she managed to unlock her knees.
He sighed heavily. "Well hold onto the saddle then. I shall climb off first."
Her arms tightened around him again. She wished she weren't so terrified. Perhaps then she could enjoy his closeness. Now, rather than enjoying it, she depended on it to prevent herself from weeping hysterically.
"Ellie? You are going to have to let go of me."
"You have not become a coward have you?"
"Certainly not," she said, though the quivering of her thighs branded her a liar.
"Do you want me to take you back to the house?" he asked.
"No. I...I will get down."
"There is a brave girl," he said, and offered her his forearm for leverage.
Swallowing her fear, she took his arm, swung her leg over the back of the horse and fell from the horse to the ground. She landed on her bottom with an outrush of breath, both her backside and pride stinging. Jonathan climbed gracefully from the horse, and came to rescue her from the tangle of her skirts.
"Are you harmed?" he asked, helping her to her feet once she found them again.
She shook her head, fighting tears of pain.
"Where are you hurt?"
She blushed scarlet. "I...I am fine," she managed to say, attempting to straighten up. Her rear end smarted something fierce.
"What was I thinking, bringing you along?" he said. "It would serve me right to break my own fool neck, but you have no business being subjected to injury."
He fused over her, brushing dried leaves from her skirt, and smoothing a few stray hairs from her cheeks and tucking them behind her ears. She completely forgot about anything but Jonathan Wolfe. The way his hair had become untamed, the sparkle of adventure in his eyes in the moonlight, the disheveled appearance of his previously immaculate clothing. Her heart twisted with pleasure over his concern for her.
"I am fine, Jonathan."
"You are certain?" He looked into her eyes with an intensity that stole her breath.
Unable to speak, she nodded slightly.
His face broke into a rakish grin. "Let us be off then!"
Elaine followed carefully as he led the horse to a small clearing. He tied Midnight's reins to a young tree and held his hand out to her. She hesitated. Now that she was no longer afraid she was going to die, she was acutely aware that she was alone in the woods with a man. Shouldn't she be worried? She wasn't. Instead, she the prospect of spending the evening in his company excited her.
"What is wrong?" he asked, as she stared at his offered hand, but did not take it.
She smiled timidly, looking up at him. "N- nothing."
She took his hand and he was off in an instant, leading her into a dense undercarriage of branches that snagged at her clothing and blocked what little light had been available in the clearing.
"I have never brought anyone here before," he said.
The loud drumming of her heart in her ears muffled the sound of his voice, and then realized it was the pounding of the surf.
"Are we close to the ocean?" she asked.
"We are." He stopped abruptly, and she stopped short to avoid careening into him.
"Promise me you will never tell anyone about this place."
"Where are we going?"
"Promise, Ellie. It is very important to me that this place remains a secret."
"I promise," she said. "On the grave of my sweet dead mother, I promise."
"That'll do," he said nervously. "Stay close. The underbrush gets a bit tangled up ahead."
"A bit!" She looked down at the tattered edge of her skirt.
True to his word, the underbrush became even more tangled and difficult to navigate. Several times, he had to stop and unsnarl her from probing barbed branches. The punishing woods suddenly dissolved, and they stood side by side on the narrow shelf of a cliff overlooking the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Elaine took a deep breath, and drank in the sight. "It is beautiful."
He grinned like a child with a new toy. "There is more."
He hoisted himself over the edge of the cliff and his head ducked from view. She gasped and flattened herself on her belly, peering over the edge of the cliff. She expected to see him lying dead on the beach below, but found him perfectly safe, climbing down ladder, which led to the sands of a small, secluded beach. He looked up at her and straightened, bringing his face within inches of hers.
"Did I scare you?" he asked, grinning. Before she could respond, he kissed her soundly on the cheek. "Follow me."
He scaled the ladder with ease, and was soon safely in the sand and looking up at her. Still reeling from the kiss he had dealt her, no matter how brotherly it had been, she stared at him with her mouth wide open.
"Well, are you coming, or aren't you?" he asked, hands resting on his narrow hips.
"It is awfully high," she said, at last coming to her senses enough to realize what he was asking of her.
"It is much easier than scaling an iron gate." He chuckled.
"But it is...high," she said for lack of a better word.
"Have you turned chicken?" he asked. "Again?"
"Of course not. I was just making an observation," she said and without further comment slid her legs over the edge of the cliff, clinging to the first rung of the ladder.
She found her footing quickly. Fixed to the cliff wall, the ladder consisted of evenly space rungs. After a moment, she gained her bearings and started her carefully calculated descent.
"My, the view is spectacular," Jonathan said in a teasing tone.
She chanced a glance down at him to find him looking up at her from the bottom of the ladder, with an obviously unfettered view up the skirt of her gown.
"Jonathan Wolfe!" she cried, face flaming for the thousandth time that evening. She tried to use one of her arms to collect her skirts, but almost fell from the ladder, so she gave up the effort. "I will get you when I get down from here."
He laughed. "Promise."
She blushed yet again. He was enjoying himself far too much. He should really watch what he said to her. She might get the wrong idea. It wasn't fair that he baited her with the possibility.
An eternity later, her feet touched solid ground again. She whirled around directly and without preempt delivered her mightiest blow to Jonathan's chin. He fell flat on his back, looking up at her in awe.
"That is for looking up my gown!"
"The little lady is full of surprises," he said, rubbing his jaw.
She didn't remain angry for long. A pang of guilt and a large helping of concern gripped her.
"Did I hurt you?" she asked, dropping down to her knees beside him.
"It was nothing I didn't deserve." he grinned. "Besides, there was very little of interest under there anyway."
"You!" Brandishing her fist, she took another swing at him.
He caught it easily before it connected with his person for a second time. "I am paying attention now," he said. "You'll only get one lucky shot at me."
She jerked her wrist out of his hand. "Then stop baiting me."
"But it is so enjoyable to see you riled."
She crossed her arms over her chest, shielding her small ego from his insensitive words. "I know I am an easy target, but-"
"Do not take my teasing the wrong way, Ellie," he interrupted. "I like you. You are fun to be with."
She knew what he meant, but she couldn't help hoping beyond hope that he liked her for something more than fun new friend. You are going to get your heart broken, fool, she told herself.
She stopped herself just before she blurted some silly sentiment. She swallowed hard and offered a smile. "Let the fun begin."
He smiled back. "Let's go dip our feet in the water."
"Take your shoes off," he said, starting to remove his own.
"I do not think-"
"Then do not think. There is no one here to impress. I will tell no one I saw your bare feet."
She looked away, embarrassed as he wriggled his naked toes at her. She had never seen a white man in such a state of undress.
"And get rid of these gloves," he told her, grabbing one hand and stripping it of its stark white covering. "You cannot even throw a proper punch with these things on."
"Jonathan!" She tore her bare hand out of his.
He shook his head at her. "Well, I am loosing this cravat," he said, tugging the offensive scrap of material from his neck.
To her astonishment, he even removed the top button of his shirt. His jacket went next, followed by his vest. "That is much better." He sighed, rolling up the sleeves of his loose white shirt to expose strong, tan forearms.
Her heart pounding furiously, she removed her other glove. He did not seem to notice. "I'll be in the water. Join me when you get over your shyness."
"Do not watch me," she whispered, looking at the sand beneath her.
"You have my word." He bowed to her, and then walked off in the direction of the frothy ocean waves.
She glanced over at him to make sure he wasn't looking in her direction and pulled off her shoes. She sighed as her pinched toes experienced freedom for the first time that day. She looked over at Jonathan who was gazing out at the sea, the waves lapping at his bare feet and ankles. It looked like heaven on earth to her. She reached far under her layers of skirt and released her stockings from their stays. She rolled them down her thighs and pulled them from her legs, before balling them up and trying to hide them under her shoes. She would have been mortified if Jonathan had seen her underthings lying on the beach. She stood up and dusted some of the sand from her ruined gown. Her father would kill her when he saw the mess she had made out of her new gown, but it didn't seem important at that particular instant. In fact, she was feeling particularly rebellious, and after insuring the Jonathan was still looking in the other direction. She hiked up her skirt and released the stays that held her petticoats in place. She danced out of them, and kicked them in the general direction of her shoes before dropping her skirts to cover her bare calves. Feeling much lighter, she skipped across the soft sand of the beach to join Jonathan in the surf. By now, he had pushed his pants up to his knees and had waded in to over a foot of water. He must have heard her approaching because he spun around and smiled at her.
"Join me, Ellie. The water is marvelous. Invigorating!"
She hiked up her skirts a bit, and waded in without inhibition. It took her brain a moment to register that by invigorating, Jonathan really meant frigid. With a little scream, Elaine rushed back out of the water, dragging the back hem of her dress in the frothy waves.
"Are you mad?" she asked, turning to look at him. "That water is ice cold."
"You should feel it in January." He laughed.
"You are mad," she said, resting her hands on her hips.
"Are you insulting me, my lady?" he asked, that naughty light flickering in his eyes again.
"I believe I am only stating the obvious truth," she said, and nearly avoided his arms as he reached for her. She was a little slow on seeing his intention.
Once he had seized her, he lifted her off the ground and headed back towards the waves.
"Well, I guess the only way you'll appreciate the power of the ocean is to take a little swim in its waters," he said.
She wrapped her arms around his neck with no intention of letting go.
"Jonathan Wolfe! You put me down right this instant."
"I am trying to," he said, "but you refuse to let go of my head."
"I will not let go until you have me securely over dry land."
"I rather like this, anyway."
She looked down and found his face buried between her breasts. She released him immediately, slapping at him as though he had intentionally situated his face in such a position. Unprepared for the sudden change in her center of gravity, he lost his balance and they toppled into the frigid Atlantic Ocean.