When it comes to love it’s never simple.
We have seen our heroines and heroes go through some difficult times in CounterClockwise. Some have separated for an unspecified length of time. Others have separated forever. Yet others still have not yet come together as they should or could. None of those situations are easy, but, in life, now or in 1840, is love ever easy?
A fan favorite character, Nora Wells, has surely proven herself to be a formidable woman. She’s not afraid of anything, and stays in control even when her very life could be in danger (heads up about this in the revision to Book #3 which is in the works) and she is armed with little else but her wits.
So when the man she thought had headed West for good turned up unexpectedly, and the man she had married and believed to be dead also turned up very much alive, Nora really did have her hands full.
Direct and to the point.
Juggling two men who ask for a dance at a charity ball is not hard to do. Juggling two men who are a lot more important than just dance partners is an entirely different matter.
Nora broke the rules and surely the female mold as well in the 1840s. She was independent, which for most of the female population of her day was a big no-no, openly intelligent, and didn’t hesitate to speak her mind.
But that candidness oftentimes got Nora into a lot of trouble all by itself, and since her current quandary was already of an emotional nature, Nora sensed that it was time to change direction and remain quiet. Mostly quiet, at any rate.
And when a certain baritone strolled into her life one fine Summer day, Nora took the opportunity to use her newfound manner of response.
“I’m surprised to see you. I thought you were bound for Wisconsin Territory. Never to return.” Nora added that last line quietly.
He took a couple of long-legged strides toward her settee and sat down. He was too big for it which made him all the more endearing. “I was,” he drawled, “but it seems the weather turned cold a lot faster than I anticipated it would. So I headed back where it’s warmer.”
Nora smiled. “I see. And naturally you wanted to tell me about it right away?”
“Yes, I thought you’d want to hear about it.” God, she was more beautiful than ever!
Nora poured her guest a generous amount of fine bourbon, handed him the glass, and situated herself on a matching settee just across from him. “That’s very kind of you, and while I appreciate the thoughtfulness, I have to tell you a few things. There have been changes.”
He paused to swallow his drink. “And they would be?”
She began in a clear voice, carefully keeping the warmth in her tone. “It’s much more than superficial. Not just my home decor or my style of dress, but more important things have changed. My mind and my heart are both different now. I’m in many ways not the same woman you once knew.”
Setting his glass down on an elegant table, her guest smiled. “You’re the most glorious woman I have ever beheld. That much is the same.” He wanted to take her in his arms and ravage her – but he decided not to add that part.
Nora smiled but unlike the past, she did not blush. “Thank you. That’s a lovely thing to say. But you should be aware that you may find my response to your sudden appearance is unlike what you experienced before.”
“Do you still love me?” He looked her square in the eyes.
“There’s a place in my heart only you own. That’ll never change.” Nora answered without hesitation, meeting his gaze.
“Can we pick up where we left off?”
Nora shook her head, her dark hair falling onto her bare shoulders. “That part will change. I’m not looking to do that.”
He seemed saddened by that. “Oh. I see. Then you don’t want anything to do with me now.”
“I didn’t say that, either.”
He frowned a little. “I confess I’m bewildered by what you’re saying. Do you want anything to do with me now?”
“I plan to listen.”
“Listen? And pray what are you listening for? What is it that you want to hear?”
“I’m listening to you when you speak, whether it’s to me or anyone else. And what I am wanting to hear is everything you have to say. I’m going to wait and keep listening to you, and act accordingly. Remember, my dear man, I may be listening, but this will be the last time I’m doing that. If you don’t step up and say what you should say, there may never be another chance for you.”
“You’re a damned confusing woman, Nora! What the hell are you saying?”
“That you need to make your own choices, do what you think you should do. I’m going to be listening for how, or if, I fit into those choices.” Nora paused. “I’m not going to tell you how great a love there is between us, or what a prize catch I am. I’m going to leave it up to you to figure that out on your own. One way or the other.”
Now he smiled, then tipped his head as he looked at her. ” You have changed, haven’t you? That’s fine. Being strong looks beautiful on you.” He then picked up his glass and drank down the last of the bourbon. “You’ll be hearing from me, Nora. You can count on it.”
A moment later he was gone.