III. Summer's End
Check out the first chapter. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = III. Summer's End
GILLIAN DIDN'T WANT TO FEEL anything when Wesley dropped by the Owens' Victorian manor that late August afternoon. He called her earlier and asked if he'd be welcome to drop in on her for a visit. She was about to refuse him, but she caught Sally's gaze from across the room and she firmly shook her head no, telling her sister to not
refuse whatever it was that Wesley was asking her.
In the last few weeks since Wesley first started hanging out with them the night of the Summer Solstice Fair, Gillian's initial annoyance at the bookish English boy soon dissipated to something akin admiration and, yes, a crush
. She didn't want to admit it at first, telling herself over and over again that Wesley Wyndham-Pryce wasn't her type. But the more she denied it, the more she began to analyze exactly what
her feelings towards Wesley was for.
And the final answer was what scared her.
"Gilly," Sally poked her head into her room. "Wesley's here. He's waiting for you out back."
"Thanks Sal," Gillian put down her brush and looked at her reflection in the mirror. Taking a deep breath, she squared her shoulders and marched downstairs.
Wesley stood on the edge of the cliff overlooking the sea, his hands tucked in his pants pockets and his shoulders squared. The sun was just setting and it cast an eerily romantic shadow at him. Gillian stopped from taking another step and just took in the sight before her. From where she stood she was given a vast advantage of studying him without him catching her her doing so.
He was tall but scrawny. His shoulders were wide and comfy. She had the pleasure of using it more than once as a pillow whenever they went out for movies with Sally this past few weeks. He wasn't the drop-dead-gorgeous type of guy, but he was a good looking enough fellow in a conventional way. His sense of humor was something she learned to appreciate and actually enjoyed over the course of the past few weeks. She learned that he was a patient guy and knew when to give her her space. He was a gentleman and knows his way with women; Aunt Jett and Aunt Frannie were charmed by him; Sally enjoyed sharing intellectual conversations with him.
In a nutshell Wesley Wyndham-Pryce was a welcome part of their family. He easily fit in to the glove. And Gillian wouldn't normally have second thoughts about taking him for a boyfriend. She was well aware of the longstanding family curse that befell every Owens women when it came to the men in their lives. If Wesley had been someone like his cousin Gerry, Gillian wouldn't worry about him suffering the same fate her late father suffered from. But Wesley wasn't like Gerry. He was a nurturer; a lover and...no, she couldn't risk robbing him off a life she knew he'd lead wonderfully if he stayed away from her and her family.
"Are you just going to stand there and stare at me or are you actually going to join me here?" Wesley spoke to her without looking over his shoulder.
Gillian raised an eyebrow. He always seem to know when he was no longer alone.
"Depends on why you insisted
to see me today," Gillian remained rooted where she stood at the bottom of the back porch steps. Crossing her arms, she waited for Wesley to turn and look at her.
"Come watch the sun set with me, Gillian," he requested.
"Because sunrise and sunsets are two of my favourite things to do, that's why," he shrugged.
"I've seen one too many sunsets since Sally and I moved in with the aunts," she told him.
Wesley tore his gaze from the horizon then and looked at her. There was a certain gleam in his eyes and his lips quirked to a rakish grin. "But have you watched the sun set with someone other than yourself for company or your sister or your aunts?"
He got her there. Sure she'd seen one too many sun rises and sun sets back here in the years since she and Sally moved in, but she never once shared it with anybody other than her family. Closing the distance between them, Gillian stopped an arm's length away beside him and settled her gaze on the descending orange ball of fire on the horizon. She kept her arms wrapped around her, her gaze averted from her companion, but that doesn't mean she wasn't aware of him moving and closing the space between them.
When Wesley put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her closer, molding her to his side as he continued to watch the descending sun, Gillian thought of shrugging his arm off and moving away from him. But something about Wesley standing that close to her made her feel protected.
They watched the sun make its descent until it was just a small arc of its tip was visible. Wesley took a deep breath and to Gillian's surprise he planted an affectionate kiss on her forehead.
"I'm heading back to England tomorrow," he announced followed by a heavy sigh.
Gillian didn't realize that she rested her head in the crook of his neck while they were watching the sun set and lifted her head from its comfortable resting place. She met his gaze and frowned.
"I thought you're not expected back until the end of the month?"
"I thought so too, but something came up and...I must go."
Gillian sensed that there was something more that Wesley wasn't telling her. Odd. He was the least closed-up person she knew. Wesley was a very open book about himself to her and her sister. To the aunts he tend to clam-up, but that was because he wasn't comfortable sharing some information about himself with a pair of old biddies.
"Well, I guess I'll wish you a safe trip tomorrow and see you next summer?" Gillian didn't want to sound hopeful of seeing him again next summer. Didn't she just decide that she didn't want to lure Wesley into the deadly Owens web?
Wesley didn't answer right away. Gillian waited for him to say he'd see her next summer too, but when the silence between them stretched she knew he wasn't coming back.
"Oh," she didn't want him to see her disappointment. She quickly lowered her gaze and stepped away from his embrace.
Wesley caught her arm before she could walk away and with his other hand he caught her chin between his thumb and forefinger, raising her face up so he could look at her in the eyes.
"I'd like to stay in touch with you though," he said in a rather husky voice. "That's why I came here tonight. I wanted to tell you in person that I'm leaving and that I want to keep in touch. Letters, postcards, phone calls...what do you say?"
What else could she say to that?
"Of course," she agreed and tried to put on a fake brave face. "But I'm warning you now, I am a lousy pen pal," she teased.
"I don't mind as long as I receive something
back from you," he teased back.
Gillian couldn't help herself from grinning. Wesley grinned back at her.
He still held her chin between his thumb and forefinger and before neither one of them knew what was happening, Wesley's lips covered Gillian's just as the sun's tip disappeared from the horizon. It was a gentle kiss; lips pressing together and an uncertain tongue tracing the outline of the other's lips, prodding it to part before it slipped in to the other's mouth. Oh hell,
was Gillian's last thought before she gave in to Wesley's kiss. She'd have all the time in the world later to mend her broken heart. She might as well enjoy what was presented to her now. = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
** The End ** PhoenixRae's Notes:
If you enjoyed this escapade of Wesley and Gillian, don't worry as the second story in this series will be available shortly for reading.