Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Love is in the Air
Love is in the Air
Ernie Black opened the door of Beverly Mills' dressing room. He walked out with the biggest smile on his face anyone working on the scenery for Hannah's Treasure had ever seen on the usually serious young man. Beverly stood at the doorway looking quite happy. She had accomplished what she set out to accomplish. Ernie Black was coming out of his shell. Beverly knew she had a reputation as a rather loose woman but in all truthfulness, she was just a small town girl with high standards and morals.
“How was lunch Ernie?” one of his chums from the job said, snickering. Everyone around him laughed.
“The best corned beef sandwich I ever had.” Ernie said innocently as the laughter grew louder.
Ernie didn't notice. He was too busy thinking of Beverly. He loved everything about her. Oh, she was a beauty and she had a perfect hourglass figure but it was more than that. She was genuinely interested in what he had to say. She listened intently as he told her about growing up in a house filled with females. He had always felt like an outsider in his own home although his sisters worshiped him. He found solace alone in his room away from the feminine chatter day after day. Even today he was a bit of a loner. It was a hard habit to break after all these years. Ernie didn't remember the last time he had talked so much about himself.
Beverly knew she would have to be the aggressor if this relationship had any hope for a future.
“Ernie, would you like to ask me to go to Marino's with you tonight?”
“Oh yes, I would very much like that.”
“I accept your invitation, now what time will you be calling for me at the Crowley residence?”
Ernie wasn't sure how he ever got the nerve to ask Beverly to dinner but he was awfully glad she accepted his invitation.
Neville Merryweather sat in the chair in his office looking out the window at the people walking by. He wasn't sure how much of the conversation with Hermione he should share. Maybe none of it. His guilt over Prudence's death had disappeared. Thanks to Hermione, he knew her unhappiness came from a broken heart that he wasn't responsible for. He felt sorry for Prudence. She had finally fallen in love and it turned out to be one sided. His only regret was that his young daughter had been exposed to her mother's infidelity. He had to laugh at himself when he thought how he had always been faithful to Prudence and she was the one who committed adultery.
Neville knew he would be returning to Camden Corners. His daughters had settled in nicely in his old family home. He knew he would be asking Helene to marry him. He knew he would find the happiness that had eluded him for all these years. The only problem was his wife had only been dead for two weeks. He felt he owed her a decent time of mourning before he announced to the world his undying love for Mrs. Robinson.
He had been so preoccupied with his personal life lately that his business was suffering. He wasn't sure he even cared anymore. His work had been his salvation through the years when his wife was out hobnobbing with her social climbing friends. His decision was made, he would turn over the reins of the company to his able assistant, Gerald, and make his way to Camden Corners. The rest of the day was spent going over his client list with Gerald and finishing up some last minute details. He had to hurry to get home to pack some belongings and catch the 2:16 to Camden Corners and the love of his life.
Helene was sorting returned books when Neville arrived at the library. She could tell by the expression on his face that he wasn't the troubled man who left Camden Corners escorting his wife's casket to her final resting place. She greeted him with a broad smile.
“Neville, it is so wonderful seeing you looking so well. We have all been worried about you.”
“I was beginning to worry about myself. I'm sure if I hadn't already disposed of Prudence's many bottles of whiskey, I would be a drunkard by now. I was filled with guilt over something that turned out not to be entirely my fault. Helene, I'd like to talk to you, would you be able to get away for a cup of tea.”
“Of course Neville, a cup of tea would be nice. Helene told Annie Mackenzie that she would be leaving and may not be back in time for closing.”
The couple walked to Looking Back Antiques. They found a quiet table away from the bustle of the shop. Nettie saw them walk in and sensed they needed to be alone. She greeted them, served them each a cup of tea, placed a few slices of black walnut bread on a plate and walked away.
“Ethel, if my instincts are correct, I do believe those two lovebirds over there will finally be together after all these years.”
Trying not to stare, Ethel said “It's about time, wouldn't you say?”
Neville told Helene all about Hermione's visit. Helene agreed that the girls shouldn't be told the whole story. They were having enough trouble dealing with their mother's recent behavior and didn't need the further burden of knowing she was carrying on with another man.
“Neville, we all share some guilt in Prudence's death. You for not loving her, me for being the one who prevented you from loving her, her lover who was only using her for his pleasure and many others throughout her life. The truth of the matter is she made choices that led her to what she became. Even though she had a loveless marriage, she had a wonderful man for a husband. It could have been a happy marriage, but apparently she was satisfied feeling sorry for herself. She had two beautiful daughters who did love her and asked nothing from her but to be loved in return. Prudence was the one who chose to drink and chose to take a lover in her husband's home. She chose to behave like a mad woman with her violent behavior and maybe that is the reason her life ended in a violent death.”
“Yes, I agree with you Helene. I am going to honor Prudence one last time. I love you and I want to marry you but I do feel it would be disrespectful to marry too soon after her death. I would like to wait at least 6 months before I make you my wife. Does that seem unreasonable to you?”
“Not at all, I agree and I love you even more for that gesture. You are truly a remarkable man Mr. Neville Aloysius Merryweather.”
“Did my sister tell you my middle name?”
“Well now you know all of my deep, dark secrets. You will definitely have to marry me come September.”
“I will be delighted to marry you and I vow never to reveal your full name to a living soul.”
Ernie stood at the Crowley's front door. His hand shook as he grasped the door knocker and gingerly tapped on it.
“Ernie, welcome to our home. Beverly is almost ready for your evening out” said Oscar “Come in and sit down for a minute. I'd like to hear all about the renovations in Leland Harvey's house. Sounds like a wonderful idea to turn it into a rooming house for the nurses.”
“Thank you Mr. Crowley. The renovations are coming along nicely. Reggie has hired extra men from Greensboro to hasten the completion.”
“Please Ernie, call me Oscar. I understand you are also helping with the scenery for the play. I can't tell you how much my sons are enjoying their acting experience. It is quite a change from their law practice.”
“Yes sir. I was watching them today and they are very believable in their parts.”
“Here is Beverly now. Doesn't she look lovely this evening?” Oscar said trying to hint to Ernie that a compliment was in order.
“Oh yes, Miss Beverly you do look very lovely.”
Nettie smiled at her husband. She knew what he was doing and approved. Even a woman as beautiful as Beverly Mills liked to be praised about the way she looks.
“Thank you Ernie, you don't look so bad yourself.” said Beverly and she meant it. She was use to seeing Ernie in his work clothes with his hair messed a bit. Tonight he was very handsome in his three piece suit and tie. His shoes were polished to a high sheen. Beverly didn't know it but Josie Blackburn accompanied him to the men's shop in Greensboro that very afternoon and made sure he was dressed as a gentleman. He was very uncomfortable in his new clothes but it was worth the look he was getting from Miss Beverly.
Ernie was so nervous he had a hard time extending his hand to Beverly without shaking. Beverly, sensing his skittishness, took his arm and guided him out the door.
“Don't wait up folks” Beverly said as she winked in the direction of the Crowleys.
Ernie's heart was beating so fast he was sure Beverly would be able to hear it. He had never been so close to a woman before. He began to wonder why he had shied away from women for so long. It felt rather nice to have one on his arm.
Rosa Marino sat the couple at a small table in a corner. Being a romantic herself, she always liked to encourage intimacy when she could sense love was in the air. Maria, Rosa's youngest daughter poured water in their glasses.
“Miss Sills, I'm so happy to see you. I loved your performance at the opera house when you were in Camden Corners before. It would be so nice if we could hear one of your songs. My Uncle Luigi brought in the piano over there just last week.”
“Maria, don't disturb Miss Sills.” Rosa said, embarrassed that Maria would ask a customer to perform. “I'm sorry Miss Sills, my daughter is young and doesn't always think before she speaks. Please relax and enjoy your evening.” She glared at Maria as she spoke.
“I would love to sing a song or two. Is there a piano player in the house?”
Ernie spoke up. “I play a little piano although I am a bit rusty. I would very much like to accompany you.”
“Ernie, you have hidden talents. Do you know In the Good Old Summertime?”
“I do, this should be fun.”
Suddenly Ernie lost his shyness. He sat down at the piano and played one song after the other with Beverly singing happily along. She loved performing and Ernie was a natural at the piano. The customers were ordering desserts like never before just so they could linger and listen to the music. Even folks who were walking by the restaurant walked in to see who was singing and playing. They played for well over an hour until they were both so hungry they had to sit down and order. Every table in the Trattoria was filled. Rosa had told Luigi they didn't need a piano when Luigi brought it in the restaurant last week.
“They come to our restaurant to eat not to listen to music,” she said. “I want you to move that thing out of here we have no use for it.”
Luigi ignored his sister as he usually did.
“Rosa, you never know, maybe Amanda's baby will be another Mozart and you can say he learned how to be a musical genius right in here in your restaurant.”
“Amanda's baby? Oh Luigi, what wonderful news. When is my little bambino due to arrive? I can't wait to spoil my niece or nephew.”
“November, and I can't wait either.”
Ernie didn't remember ever having such a wonderful time. He hadn't played the piano in years but it all came back to him. He loved watching Beverly sing. She was very talented. He knew she would be famous one day and he felt sad that she would go back to New York City and to her career. He refused to think about that day. He was going to enjoy her company while he could. After dinner they walked through town. Without thinking Ernie held Beverly's hand. They walked down by the water. It was a rather chilly evening but neither one noticed. Ernie took her in his arms and kissed her. Beverly had the feeling she wouldn't have to be the aggressor after this. Ernie would never be shy around a woman again. Beverly just hoped the woman would always be her.