ROMANCE IN FRANCE

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Chapter 9

Friday night came around quickly and Jemma put Alice to bed, she felt excited. She was looking forward to a night at the disco and proceeded afterwards to get herself ready for her date with Michael.

She knocked on the office door and walked in. The brothers stood together at the desk, they were sorting through a ton of paperwork that was spread across the entire surface. They lifted their heads from the paperwork simultaneously, looking up to smile and acknowledge Jemma as she walked in.

She smiled rather hesitantly. ’I’m leaving now. Err; you don’t mind what time I get back; do, you? She asked timidly. ‘I’ll be very quiet.’ She smiled again, waiting, as neither brother said a word, then asked a little nervously. ‘Could you leave the kitchen door open for me please so that I can get in? I’ll lock it when I come home.’

Carl experienced a quick explosion of anger for some reason. He didn’t want her to go. The cheap print dress she had on was the one she had worn for her birthday the other Sunday. It fitted the soft rounded curves of her body beautifully, enhancing the womanly shape. The background of the dress was coloured in tones of soft browns and oranges, and mixed with the creamy coloured dainty flowers that were sprinkled across it, made her appear utterly feminine.

Mark eventually answered her, nearly as surprised as Carl at the change in her. ‘Yes of course Jemma, don’t worry, I’ll listen for Alice, and keep an eye on Pup, for you.’ He understood her anxiety. It was the first time she had left either of them. ‘Pup, come here!’ Mark said, trying unsuccessfully to entice the dog away from the open door.

Pup stood in the middle of the open doorway, turning his head and looking from one person to the other, undecided between the two people. He wasn’t used to Jemma going out without him, especially at night. He knew something different was happening and he began to walk towards Mark warily.

Jemma hurriedly glanced across the room at Mark, gratefully acknowledged his kindness and stepped swiftly through the door closing it quickly behind her.

She heard Pup’s whine as she made her way along the passage to the kitchen and instantly felt guilty for leaving him. She knew Michael was sat in the car, waiting outside for her; she couldn’t leave him hanging about any longer.

She hurried outside. ‘Sorry, Michael,’ she said, smiling apologetically at him as she climbed into the car. ‘I had to make sure Pup, was safely inside the house. I didn’t want him running after us.’

Michael looked her up and down appreciatively. ‘It was worth the wait, Cherie.’ His attentive manner as he hurried round to help her into the car, the attractive smile and the pursing of his lips in a soundless wolf whistle, showed her he meant the words.

Michael drove away thoughtfully; she was certainly going to send a few temperatures soaring tonight, besides his he would certainly have to be on the ball tonight if he didn’t want anyone else trying to claim her interest. She would probably make some of the girls at the disco, green with envy. The fact that she seemed so naive unaware even, of her sexuality, interested him immensely.

Pup sat at the door, whining miserably, and Mark limped across to pick him up. ‘It’s all right Pup, she’ll be back soon,’ he said softly, commiserating with him. ‘It seems you’re not the only one upset at Jemma, going out,’ he said, looking meaningfully at his brother who still stood at the desk with a distinctly angry look on his face. ‘What do you mean?’ said Carl, giving Mark a glowering look in return.

‘I mean the look on your face Carl. It was like thunder.’

Carl turned his face away and looked down at the desk, he still felt angry, but didn’t understand why. ‘The child has a right to go out,’ he replied angrily, refusing to look his brother in the face.

Mark limped his way back to the desk worriedly, his eyes on his brother’s face.

‘Jemma’s, not a child, Carl,’ said Mark, shaking his head sadly, unsure what was going on in his brother’s mind.

Carl was about to say. ‘She is,’ when an image of her entered his head. The burnished copper hair, her face was caring and womanly as she leaned over the child Alice sometimes soft with tenderness, like the Sunday when she had walked into the dining room with the sun shining behind her, the auburn hair a halo around the beautiful innocent face. ‘No, she wasn’t a child, but she was so trustingly childlike that he had wanted her to stay that way,’ thought Carl exasperated with himself. He’d tried so hard to impress on his brain that she was still a child and now grudgingly he had to admit it to himself she was most definitely not a child, she was all woman. She was, nubile, vibrant, and so excitingly beautiful. He suddenly realised this was the reason he felt so angry and finally he understood that anger, as he felt the tightening in his loins. He wanted her.

Mark had been watching the play of emotions flit across his brother’s face; he knew his brother hadn’t had much to do with women; perhaps a few harmless flirtations, but no one who had seriously aroused him, not to his knowledge.

Carl shook himself mentally; the picture of Jemma still etched sharply across his brain. Tormenting him with the feeling of desire he had acknowledged at last, but was it love or lust, he had seen the damage done to his brother by Sonya. He kept his eyes on the papers in his hands, still refusing to look his brother in the eyes.

‘Let’s read these papers and find out what we have to do about getting a permit for the campsite,’ he said his voice tight. Mark felt a great sadness descend on his shoulders it was his entire fault. His brother had gone through so much. He had seen all the unhappiness and misery that Sonya had reaped on them. Was he now going to deny the love that was growing inside him for Jemma?

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