Characteristics of a Misunderstanding.



Elizabeth Bennet allowed her eyes to lazily scan the crowd from her vantagepoint alone in a corner. She observed what she considered the norm at wedding receptions unfold in front of her. Those who knew each other hovered in their humble clusters occasionally venturing out to greet one of the intruders from the wrong side of the bridal party. A generic remark would be made in an attempt to find some common ground that they shared, but more often than not it was only the bride or groom that was the focus of their conversation. Once the essential acclaim was given and received likewise, they would then sulk back to the comfort of familiar people with their false smiles still on their faces.

Elizabeth had been asked to be the Maid of Honor for her eldest sister and although this was not the cause of her present bleakness of mood, the ass they had stand up with the groom was, therefore the two were connected. The entire situation made her madder than hell and selfishly she allowed herself to brood on it as her vision fell to him dancing with the groom’s sister.

Why was she not surprised that he looked miserable? Elizabeth doubted he was ever anything else but in a state of contempt. At the rehearsal the night before he had displayed a level of anal retentiveness she had never witnessed in another, which she knew to be a sign of a man not easily pleased.

Everything had to be planned, every single move. This William man had taken any enjoyment there could have been out of the night, and the practice that should have not lasted more than an hour took three. He had wanted to know exactly how many steps were involved from the altar to the back of the church. He walked it twice to count them himself. When was his cue to turn around, how close did he and Elizabeth follow the bride and groom, could the candelabra be moved to a place behind him? These were but a sampling of the endless questions he had asked.

Elisabeth believed she could have overlooked his annoyance as simply his nerves getting the better of him had William not verbally insulted her when she was but five feet away from him at the church while they were readying to leave for the rehearsal dinner. William and her now brother-in-law Charles were talking in hushed tones when she heard him request ‘Don’t ask me to dance with Jane’s sister. Nothing will tempt me to change my mind about not standing up with her, especially after the pictures are taken.’ Charles rebuked his statement, but William held firm.

Of course Elizabeth’s first reaction should not be repeated even in the privacy of her own mind. Fortunately she had the control over herself not to say the words aloud, which could be considered a sign of maturity although the creative dialogue in her head was not. Even the most confident person would have been hard pressed not to feel the sting of William’s slight; to be considered so unworthy that a dance would be a punishment regardless of it being a tradition or not. After the remark was made, Elizabeth judged the two men and acknowledged that Jane had chosen well in a husband despite his deplorable city connections.

The groom was from New York money, a third generation pharmaceutical heir who bought a large country property in Vermont to escape city life. Not a month afterward Charles developed an allergy he could not abate and this is where he met Elisabeth’s sister Jane. She worked as a physician’s assistant in town and saw him when Charles came into the office. They became inseparable.

After dating for three months Jane moved in with him and this was when Elizabeth found out there was more to her sister’s suitor than she had been led to believe. Charles was also known in certain circles as Christian Moore, the author of the Lore Keeper series of books.

Elizabeth had read Charles’s novels long before she was informed of his duel identity and now understood that he came to Vermont to write in peace. No one in town knew they had an author in their midst, but his net worth was widely speculated since they were aware of his business connections and consequently talk of their rural community. ‘What a good catch you’ve made’ some had even said to Jane’s face, the daughter of a forth generation dairy farmer.

William Darcy by admission was his closest friend and it was transparent to Elizabeth that inherited wealth was a common denominator between the two men. Whereas Charles was openly friendly to those he came into contact with and lived an inconspicuous lifestyle with the exception of his home, William reeked from the advantages he had been given. He and the other New Yorkers appeared disillusioned by the groom’s choice in a wife and the division between those who worked for their money and those who were born lucky became clear as the wedding neared.

Elizabeth condemned William because he represented to her a prejudice that she could not tolerate. Demanding, rude, and conceited were simply other reasons for her to avoid the man. The rehearsal was not their first meeting but their third, and the other two had not went well either. Elizabeth had noted William’s tendency to stare at her at the most inopportune times as if he did not care if he was caught in the act or not, for which she was certain William was searching for flaws and not due to any admiration on his part. Elizabeth’s assumption of this was influenced by the occasion when she had entered a room he was occupying and his blatant ignoring of her presence while she was there.

It took a moment before Elizabeth realized that the song had ended and her eyes were still focused on William while she rehashed in her mind all that she disliked about him. She then noticed that he was staring right back at her.


Two days after the wedding the newlyweds were still at their home entertaining what few guests they had stayed with them. Next week they were to travel to the Mediterranean for a lengthy honeymoon and as Jane had said ‘We’ve been living together over a year. Having people in our home after the wedding is not an inconvenience.’ One of those who stayed was William Darcy.

Elizabeth had been invited to dinner with the few stragglers still in residence, not knowing that he was still there because she did not ask. That morning an impromptu decision was made by the remainder of Charles’s family to head back to New York a day early, which left only the happy couple, William, and Elizabeth at the table. When she entered the home she was somewhat surprised to see the William and Charles cooking their meal, while Jane sat at the kitchen island sipping a glass of wine. The sound of William’s laughter was something Elizabeth had not heard before as it greeted her while she stood in the doorway, and from what she could distinguish there was light banter going on between the two friends.

Dinner was not a disaster in part because Elizabeth refused to allow her personal sentiment about William ruin the evening. She, Charles, and Jane carried most of conversation that Elizabeth kept turning back to the topic of his books. She enjoyed needling Charles for information about what direction his characters were going to take next, but her brother-in-law generally remained tight-lipped about the plot although he did listen to her suggestions when offered.

“I’m still angry with you for making me have sympathy for Absit.” Pointing her finger at Charles, Elizabeth’s grin was genuine. “I want to hate him, yet he’s so damn depressed. Have Jane write him a prescription for Prozac and snap him out of it.”

“I think he’s more of a candidate for Effexor, myself.” Jane nodded as she gave her professional opinion.

“See, Charles! She’s willing to do it!” The three of them continued on in this vein until another voice entered the fray.

“I find it interesting that you have compassion for Absit.” William directed toward Elizabeth. He had been content to enjoy the camaraderie these three shared, but the easiness displayed encouraged him to join in.

Elizabeth paused briefly before answering him, employing the same level of civilly William had. “It’s hard not to mourn for Asbit. His back-story is retched, I’ll give you that, but his…state of mind is dismal, for lack of a better word. Yes, I do sympathize with him because he doesn’t want the endowment and all it’s done for him is create a self-imposed prison. The way Charles has him lead those who came first is lifeless but very faithful. To me he’s a loyalist even if it is for the wrong team.”

“So, you approve of how he’s portrayed?” Once again there was sincerity in William seeking her opinion, but that did nothing to diminish Elizabeth’s impression that she was taking a risk by responding to him.

“Yes, there hasn’t been one character in Charles’s books that I have not formed an affinity for, good or bad. And I’m not saying this because he wisely married my sister.”

“I may need your help soon with the science I’m putting in, but I’ll wait to ask until after I have it all figured out.” Charles interjected.

“I didn’t realize you were an expert in science, Elizabeth.”

“I’m not. I teach chemistry and biology at the high school.” She wondered if William would find fault in that, but he only gave her a small smile and returned to his previous muteness leaving Elizabeth feeling uncomfortable despite the fact that he had only said three sentences.

“Elizabeth was going to school to be a pharmacist.” Charles enlightened his friend. “The world needs more pharmacists.”

William made no response as his brow furrowed and his eyes never faltered from the woman across from him.

“You would say that, Charles,” Elizabeth chided him catching William turn serious. “And that was a few years ago.”

By the end of dinner Elizabeth had had four glasses of wine which meant two things. Her tongue was looser and she was going to bide in a guestroom that night instead of driving home. Though it was late when they all said their sleep wells, she decided to stay in the living room to enjoy what was left of the fire. Elizabeth was a great lover of silence; it allowed her mind to wander freely and her soul to be at rest. Growing up with four other sister’s in a house that never knew a moment’s peace drove her to seek out solace as an adult, and her own country home reflected this need.

It was after midnight when another broke her solitude. Elizabeth heard someone coming down the hallway and she prayed it was not William, but that prayer was not answered. Once he entered into the living she turned on a light to let him know that the room was occupied in hopes that he would return to his room.

“I don’t need that.” William stated as he raised his hand to shield his eyes, stopping in his tracks while he waited for her to turn it back off. Like Elizabeth he was seeking out the last remnants of the fire, but unlike her he had hoped she would still be up. Time passed before William turned his head to look around before posing a question to her. “Will you tell me where the chair is?”

“Three steps to your right.” Elizabeth watched him follow her instructions before sitting down. She had not thought the light to be that intense, but felt she needed to say words of appeasement since she had caused the man discomfort. “I apologize for blinding you.”

“Think nothing of it.” Many minutes passed where the only sound in the room was the ticking of the clock. Elizabeth had almost forgotten William was there as she slipped nearer sleep when he spoke to her barely above a whisper.

“Why didn’t you become a pharmacist?”

Perhaps because she was drowsy, Elizabeth did not have the energy to find offence with his asking such a personal question. “My father was diagnosed with cancer while Jane and I were in collage. She was a year away from getting her PA degree; I still had two years left. One of us had to drop out to help him.”

“Is there a reason you haven’t returned?”

“You’d never understand.” She said in the same quite tone he was using. William would receive no more clarification as more minutes ticked by.

“I want to ask you a question.” It was Elizabeth’s turn to break the silence. “Why do you keep staring at me? What have I done?”

“I didn’t realize…” William stumbled over his explanation. “It’s a habit and I meant no disrespect by it.”

“It’s very unnerving.” There was no rudeness laced in her words, but they were to the point.

“I’ll watch myself in the future.” The stereo switched CD’s while Elizabeth shifted her position. The beginning of the first song was demanding but it soon settled into a melodious tune.

“Elizabeth, are you still here?” William thought she might have left during the interlude.

“I’m in the chair across from you. You can’t see me?”

Shaking his head, William answered “no.”

His disclosure stole away the drowsiness from Elizabeth as she sat up straight and leaned toward him. Between the illumination from the fireplace and the numerous nightlights Jane and Charles had scattered throughout the house, she could easily make out William, down to the brown of his eyes. How he could not see her Elizabeth could not fathom, but the idea of it alarmed her.

“Do you want me to get Jane?”

“There’s no need.” William turned his head toward the sound of her voice, sensing the anxiousness in it. “They didn’t tell you?”


“I don’t see much.”

A whole lot of understanding hit Elizabeth at that moment, as did an array of emotions she was unprepared for. From fury at Jane and Charles for not letting her know to extreme disappointment in herself for judging him so harshly. Her face showed it all as realization set in, but William did not witness it.

“…That’s why I stare to focus, but I agree with you that I need to check myself. I wouldn’t want someone gawking at me.”

If Elizabeth could take back those words she would and the horror she experienced when William repeated them back to her was wholly unintentional on his part. He wanted to make her feel more at ease, but it backfired.

“I’m so sorry I said that.”

“No.” William wanted no sympathy from her. Over the years he had grown tired of people talking to him differently because of his blindness and quite frankly he was glad for her counsel. Few others would have mentioned it to him. “It’s not your fault. Bad genes are the cause.”

There was a long silenced before Elizabeth felt able to talk more.

“I didn’t finish pharmacy school because I was a solid B student from a middle class family. There are no scholarships for me and student loans wouldn’t cover my tuition. My father had medical insurance when he was diagnosed, but he was still left with a mountain of bills after his chemotherapy.”

“You didn’t think I would understand that?”

“Has lack of money ever kept you from what you’ve wanted to do?”

“No.” William answered honestly. “But it hasn’t bought me what I’ve wanted, either.”



Retinitis Pigmentosa:
Degeneration of the retina, resulting in decreased night vision, a gradual loss of peripheral vision, and in some cases, loss of central vision. The degeneration progresses over time and can lead to total blindness. Retinitis pigmentosa is a rare, inherited disease for which there is as yet no treatment or cure. Early diagnosis enables a person with the disease to plan and prepare for its progression.
--American Foundation for the Blind.


Elizabeth had always looked forward winter break from school, both as a student and now as a teacher. Three weeks of heaven in which she was her own person to do as she pleased.

A reserved individual by nature, Elisabeth did not require a constant barrage of friends around to feel complete. She enjoyed painting the kitchen in the old farmhouse she rented from her uncle and nights spent reading or watching a movie. The phone did ring with calls from her sisters and parents, but more often than not she turned down their offers to take her shopping or to come over for dinner. It was not that Elizabeth was against socializing, but more that she had become accustomed to being alone.

People in town could say all sorts of nice comments about her, but not about her personally. There was a distance Elizabeth kept from others that went unnoticed and until recently no one had attempted to look below her surface. Except William.

Elizabeth had not seen him since their night together after Jane’s wedding. William had only returned once to Vermont while she was away at a teaching seminar and otherwise the opportunity of their crossing paths was nonexistent. Not often did she allow her thoughts to dwell on him because Elizabeth had convinced herself there was nothing to think about. William seemed a good man who she might encounter on occasion and that was it. Yet, the few times she had been to Jane’s since the wedding Elizabeth would wait with anticipation for them to mention him, which Charles always did, and she tucked the bits of information given to her away without comment as the impression of William grew.

That night three months ago after he had told her about his sight impairment it was not long before Elizabeth was speaking to William because she wanted to, and not motivated to compensate for the grievous injustice she had committed . Woven in the dialogue they shared he asked her more about herself. Elizabeth answered many of his questions, although the unintrusive manner in which William induced her to open up about herself did frighten her somewhat. Elizabeth was not one to discuss her private thoughts, but that day she had stayed up until three in the morning doing exactly that.

A phonecall came early on January third from an irritated Jane who was supposed to be on her way to a medical conference on wound care. The snow had fallen heavily the night before and unbeknownst to Elizabeth who was still in bed, had restarted that morning. Jane foolishly tried to make it to her destination, but two hours from her home she was stranded on the side of the highway due to an icy patch on the roadway. After explaining that she was fine and that her car was merely stuck and not completely wrecked, Jane made a request of her sister.

“Charles is coming in his Jeep. Would you please do me the favor and stay by the phone for a while in case we have trouble getting back? The radio said they were considering closing the highway if the snow continues and I don’t want William there alone all day.”

“He’s at your house?”

“He has been for the past two days.”

“No one says anything to me.” There was a slight bite to Elizabeth’s statement.

“I’m sure I did because I was wondering why you hadn’t stopped by.”

“No, Jane. I’m starting to realize that if I don’t fax you, you don’t pay attention.” Jane made no response to her sister’s comment because it was true. “I’ll drive over after I shower to see about William. My cell will be with me.”

An hour later Elizabeth was calling out William’s name after entering through the side door. The beginning of a blizzard was blowing outside and legitimate concern for Jane’s wellbeing weighed heavy on her as Elizabeth kicked off her boots and hung her coat. William answered her from the same room Elizabeth had found him in the last time they had met.

Greetings were exchanged in the kitchen, his with a barely distinguished shyness, before Elizabeth recounted to him the situation William was already aware of.

“Charles is going to call as soon as he reaches her,” William shared as he removed the pan he was making their breakfast in from the heat. “From what he said ten minutes ago a tow truck was in route and the highway will be closed.”

“Are they going to take the back routes home?”

“He didn’t know.”

“You may be stuck with me for a while.” Elizabeth said offhandedly as she laid her phone on the table.

“You don’t have to stay unless you want to; I don’t want you to feel obligated. I’m resourceful.”

“But I’m not. My car barely made it here. I kept getting caught in other people’s ruts.”

William shot Elizabeth a quick glance, and then another so he could determine where she was standing. This action was not lost on Elizabeth and with the sweetest voice she told him that he could look at her and she would probably not bite his head off, especially if he fed her first. Her words brought a smile out of him.

It was as easy as that and Elizabeth was comfortable in his presence, and after a short time William was in hers, too.

“I am surprised that you cook. I assumed you had someone who did that for you.”

“In New York I do.” He admitted with some hesitancy.

“A girlfriend?”

“No,” William replied flatly as he reached for plates. He then went on to explain that he had a person who came in five days a week to straighten up and run errands “Do you…cook?”

“I burn everything so it all tastes the same to me.” Elizabeth was not exaggerating.

“Burnt?” William grinned as he placed their breakfast on the table.

“Very funny and thank you. Tell me, what are you going to do today?”

“I was looking over Charles’s story with him before your sister called.”

“He lets you read it?” William did not reply, but the guilty expression on his face was enough for Elizabeth to begin her interrogation. “Does he ever listen to you if you make a suggestion?”

His guilt soon turned into amusement. “What is it you want me to tell him?”

Pulling her chair closer to his, Elizabeth scooted her plate over and began giving William her wish list for him to mention to Charles. Three hours later they were laughing in the living room sitting by each other on the couch. Jane and Charles would not be returning this day and to be honest, they were having a good time on their own.

With her legs crossed and body sideways, Elizabeth recounted for him the hazards of being a teacher when the time came for the real science of biology to be exposed.

“…so she comes in to the classroom on a Monday with a note from her mother about how her daughter in good conscience could not dissect a frog. ‘Passive observer’ was the term I believed she wrote. This occurred after I recognized her the Friday before at Johnny’s restaurant on all you can eat frog legs night! William, I saw the child eating them.”

“What did you do?”

“I marched down to the principals office and explained the situation, then I called the mother and asked why her daughter could eat a frog but not dissect one? I was convincing, too. The turning point might have been when I mentioned that next year I was thinking about doing snakes and did she think when her daughter retook my class she’d prefer that.”

“You’re a devil of a teacher.”

“I take that as a compliment, but it gets worse. That afternoon the butcher’s son came to class…”

“No!” William was having far too much fun listening to her stories about her classroom and it was expressed by his enthusiastic participation.

“Yes!” He ended up dissecting the frog, too. The only one I let off the hook was the vegan girl who believed in some Buddhist version of reincarnation. Her story I believed.”

Leaning back against the couch, William relaxed with the grin he had worn most of the day dancing on his lips. “You like teaching, don’t you?”

“I think so, but I swear they pay us in car wash tokens and free government cheese.”

Once their mirth died down, Elizabeth broached a subject she had wanted to ask him about. She almost let it pass since it was not of much importance anymore, but her curiosity often got the best of her therefore she decided to satisfy it.

“Why didn’t you dance with me at the wedding? I believe I know the reason, but I would like to hear it from you.”

“I didn’t want to embarrass you...or myself.”

“You danced with Charles’s sister.” Elizabeth reminded William as she forgave herself for the bad thoughts she had had about him then.

“She’s known me for years and it was hours after the pictures were over. That was wrong of me. I wanted to ask you, but that doesn’t count, does it? I am sorry for that.”

“I wasn’t searching for an apology.” Elizabeth reassured him. “But no, that doesn’t count.”

“Did you think there was another reason?”

“Yes. It reflects poorly on me so I’d rather not share it.” William did not press her to explain. “William, how much can you see?”

“The last time I was tested it was around twenty percent of normal vision.”

“You don’t use a cane.”

“No I don’t.” William admitted quickly. There would come a day when he would have to, but William had promised himself that for as long as possible he would not. This was significant to him, but he could not verbalize why.

Elizabeth gazed up at his face during the lull her questions had created and she realized something about him that gave her pause. William had the most beautiful brown eyes she had ever seen, and Elizabeth could not fathom why God would have given him such a gift then take away their usefulness.

Two more hours passed and they had a hockey game on the television with the sound off while open CD cases were scattered over on the cabinet where the stereo was housed. A heated discussion over bragging rights was going on.

“You believe you can beat me in chess? I’m a chemistry major, William. You have no chance, dear mister law degree. We’re not talking bartending skills, we talking chess.”

William stared at her open mouthed. This woman teased him mercilessly; challenged him. No one ever spoke to him like that, not even Charles and they had been friends for years. He liked it.

“Get the board, science girl.” He smirked. “I’ll show you that lawyers are better at more than making a dry martini.”

Elizabeth kicked William’s ass at chess. He claimed to be distracted by the hockey game they had on and she replied that there was an opening at the American Legion in town for a bartender. Then she took a nap on the couch using William’s leg to prop her pillow while he listened to two of Elizabeth’s favorite bands. More hours passed, their well matched senses of humor made time seem as if it was flying.

The mood changed to somber while they cooked dinner. This was when William told her the details about his parents dying in a car accident nearly three years ago. Elizabeth did not have prior knowledge of this, but she also did not read the society pages of the New York newspapers. During William’s turn to share he faced the uncomfortable feeling Elizabeth had experienced the night he had asked her about why she never returned to college. It was not as easy being the answerer as it was the questioner he soon found out. Like Elizabeth, he did not make it a practice to talk about his self very often.

William described how his father had been an accomplished fundraiser for different organizations, and that he followed in his footsteps instead of practicing law. Elizabeth had been correct when she had originally surmised that William was from old money, but she now clearly realized that his attitude was not what she had expected.

After the kitchen was clean they returned to the living room with an identical secret inside of them. They had both found someone they wanted to know better. It was getting dark outside and just as they were about to enter the room Elizabeth asked, “Will you tell me how to work the lights so they don’t hurt your eyes?”

Elizabeth’s offer led to their first kiss as William stopped her in the hallway and put his hands against her face. The next hour was innocent as they talked quietly sitting near each other, then it turned passionate as inhibitions were lost somewhere between the words. Their advancement toward intimacy happened so naturally that it did not seem wrong to either of them.

“William,” Elizabeth whispered as her body encircled his. They had been touching each other in places, in wonderful places that left her wanting more of him. Elizabeth was not the sort of person to sleep around, but being with William this night…she did not have to think twice about it. The fire building between her legs did not made that decision. It came from her heart.

“Yes?” The progression for him was much the same. The longer he was with her, the more Elizabeth was becoming his idea of the ideal woman. Imperfect, impassioned, forthright, and intelligent.

“I’m not an easy woman.” This was important for Elizabeth to let him know and she hoped he would not require more explanation to understand what she was trying to say. “I never do this. I mean, I have, but not this soon.”

“I didn’t think you were.”

“William, I don’t want to stop.” That admission was hard for Elizabeth to make, but it was the truth.

“God, Elizabeth. I don’t either.”

“I’m going to go look for something. I don’t carry that around with me.” After all she had just told him, Elizabeth could not say the word condom because it would make her blush. “Do you have any?”

“No.” He smiled.

“Will you meet me in your room?” The depth of his kiss told Elizabeth he would.

It did not take long for Elizabeth to return to William with a smile even he could see from across the room. “I have a riddle for you. What do you get when you combine a pharmaceutical family and a physician’s assistant?”

“I don’t know. What?”

Elizabeth dumped her find from Jane’s medicine cabinet onto the bed. “A lot of free samples.”

By ten o’clock that night they were laying in bed having already made love. Neither was dissatisfied or regretful with what had happened or their choice in partner. Jane had called shortly afterward and when she asked Elizabeth what she and William were doing with their time, Elizabeth replied ‘playing chess.’

William was laughing and she ended up having to cover the receiver to hide her own good humor. Then they had a little wine before starting all over again.

“What are you doing?” Elizabeth asked as she lie naked on her back while his hands caressed her body with contact she could hardly detect.

“I’m looking at you.” The room was dark. “Close your eyes and I’ll show you.”

“Your skin is smoother in this area. It must be where your waistband rubs against your skin. You have what I think is a mole right here.” A circular motion was made on her chest where she did indeed have a small mole.

“Keep going,” she sighed as the sensation of touch replaced that of sight.

“When my hand travels down,” the pads of William’s fingers ran slowly over her pelvis toward her thigh, “you catch your breath.”

“You’re an attractive woman.” Elizabeth could feel William as his lips settled against her neck. Lowering his voice even more, he made a confession. “I thought so the first time I saw you. That’s another reason I kept staring.”

She smiled and William’s investigation continued as he grew aroused and Elizabeth impatient.

“I want to look at you now.” Elizabeth sat up and with the gentle prodding of her hand against his chest, William laid down. He asked her if her eyes were closed. They were. Elizabeth then tried to imitate what he had been doing to her, although it was more difficult than she had thought. Her eyes kept wanting to open, to visualize what it was she was admiring, but she continued in an attempt to break her habit of relying too much on what her brain told her she was seeing.

“You smell so good.” Was commented as Elizabeth straddled his torso and prepared to take William inside of her after rolling a condom over his erect member. In a long stroke she allowed William to enter her, enticing a deep moan out of him as her body shivered when their hips met.

“How does that feel to you?” She asked breathlessly as she began the ancient movements of love making. The rhythm Elizabeth set was slow and long as she hoped to recreate the response of his initial entering into her over and over.

“I can’t describe it.” William fought for the words in his cloudy mind, but how does one describe ecstasy? “Intense. Like carnal instinct doesn’t want you not stop moving until I come…but I want it to last for hours at the same time. Tell me what you feel.”

“I don’t want this to be a one night stand.” Elizabeth caught herself just as the final word came out and she froze in place. If William really wanted to know what she was feeling at this very moment it was regret at having lost control of her tongue and embarrassment at saying that statement aloud. “I’m sorry.”

“I don’t want it to be a one night stand either.” That statement was not uttered by him to appease her.

“You’re not required to say that.”

“Come closer, Elizabeth.” His arms reached out to pull her down and she rested her head against his shoulder as a part of William still lie deep inside of her. He saw a beauty in her Elizabeth did not see, one that did not require eyes to identify. “Do I sound insincere?”

It was far too soon for declarations of love to be shared, but not so for promises. William would come to Vermont on the weekends whenever he could, and he would call her. Then William vowed that as soon as the snow plows had done their job the next day, he would take her anywhere she wanted to go in her small town on a date, and without Jane and Charles.

“I want you to come to my house. I’ll make you dinner.” Elisabeth smiled back losing some of her embarrassment. With the taste of the burnt toasted cheese sandwich she made him for lunch revisiting his memory, William agreed and their courtship officially began.


The clock on the nightstand glowed 4:05am when Elizabeth started whispering his name. They were laying face to face, their bodies close and unclothed except for a blanket that covered them

“William, are you awake?” Her breath was light against his shoulder, and it was this as much as her words that woke him.

“I can be.” He nodded heavily on the pillow they were sharing.

“Will you look at me?”

“I probably can’t see you in the dark, but I’ll try.” William opened his heavy lids making out a shadow of her form. The hues of gray and black in which he interpreted Elizabeth still disclosed that she was a lovely woman.

“No,” Elizabeth grinned as she took her hand and covered his eyes. “I didn’t mean it like that. I meant your way.”



As the phone began to ring Elizabeth looked over at her clock.

“Hello.” She answered, assuming it could be no one else but William on the other end of the line.

“What are you doing?” Settling into his desk chair, William smiled to himself. That little lady from Vermont had wormed her way into his heart without trying and he easily admitted to himself that she was now very much a part of him. The distance between where they lived proved to be more of an inconvenience than a hindrance and although it was not spoken, it was understood that they were exclusive to one another.

William had never thought his life empty before Elizabeth entered it, yet the enrichment she brought was evident and a gift he wanted to mirror back to her. It was the aspect of being a couple that encouraged him to reevaluate what he held private and over time William’s sharing his thoughts and ideas were becoming more habit than forced. Perhaps it was the distance that was their greatest ally. Over the telephone their different conversations revealed more of their selves and then on the weekends spent together, both built from that knowledge and moved forward another step demonstrating to William that it was much more than sex that had kept his attraction to Elizabeth.

“I just finished grading some tests.” She answered him. “And you?”

“I was thinking about coming to Vermont this weekend. Are you free?”

“Yes, I have a four day break, too.” William could hear her smile. “Would you take the Friday night train?”

“What if I took the Friday morning?”

“Even better.” Elizabeth agreed. “I’ll pick you up at the station. Will you stay here at my house with me? Say yes, William. You always end up here no matter how sly we try to be. What was the excuse we used last time?.”

“We were looking for a CD. I’ll have to think on your offer, Elizabeth and get back to you. I’m in high demand in Vermont. There’s you,” William was catching on to teasing, which Elizabeth encouraged. “And Charles.”

“I bet you don’t have to consider your options for long. I’m softer than Charles and will keep you warm at night.” Elizabeth laughed before her tone decidedly changed. “I should warn you now that I’ll be having my period this weekend.”

“I don’t care.” He was telling the truth. “What would you like to do?”

They talked it over and decided to take Jane and Charles out to dinner on Saturday night, then on Tuesday when Elizabeth went back to teach school William would spend time with his friend.

“They’ve asked me to do summer school this year. It’s only a month long and I could use the cheese.”

“When would it be?” William had more than one reason for his question.

“June. I’d still have July and most of August off.”

“Will you let me take you somewhere this summer?”

“Where did you have in mind?”

“Hilton Head Island. My family has a house on the beach and I have it for two weeks in July.” The idea of the two of them spending time in South Carolina without any responsibilities or distractions had been on William’s mind for the past few weeks and if he was a little persuasive in his description of the area it was because he wanted Elizabeth to say yes.

“William, is this a country club setting you’re talking about?”

“No. Just a house on the beach.” William went on to explain that when he had been there in the past he preferred to stay on the water and rarely ventured into town or the offerings in the area. He did not want Elizabeth to think she needed to go out and buy a wardrobe for their vacation because William knew she was serious when she told him that a teacher’s salary was not much.

His descriptions must have been alluring because Elizabeth agreed to go to South Carolina in July. Her thoughts ran very much like his and the temptation of two weeks alone was too great to pass up.

An hour later, William turned off his phone feeling as if the best part of the day had just passed. He and Elizabeth had slowly increased their phone conversations to everyday at seven in the evening, and sometimes throughout the day if they had something of interest to share. William would call, which at first she had resisted but he made up a pathetic excuse about working odd hours and it being easier for him. In truth William did not want her to run up a phone bill and although Elizabeth could be as stubborn as he was, she did relent this once.

Five weekends had been spent together since their being snowed in at Charles’s home. Elizabeth had come to William once in New York two weeks ago to attend a benefit with him as his date, otherwise he went to Vermont because it was easier on her and it afforded also him a chance to see Charles. He liked her small town and the fond memories that were being made there.

William had never imagined himself falling in love with a woman as hard as he had Elizabeth and whereas he tried to live in the moment, there were indicators that the future was gaining on him with a certainty he dreaded.

Placing the phone on his desk, William turned on his large flatscreen monitor for the computer, pulling up the word processing program he used. The screen went black with white lettering in large font; the size of the letters having to have been increased for the second time in a month and yet William still strained to make out what was before him.


The train stopped and William waited until any others to depart before rising from his seat. Walking down the isle he heard Elizabeth say his name which caused him to turn around.

“I’m behind you.” Elizabeth said with a beaming smile as she stood in the doorway he had walked past.. He was not the only one falling in love. They made it to Elizabeth’s house in new car he had helped her pick out on his last visit. William had never driven in his life, but when the time for the negotiating of the price he was extremely useful as the salesman tried to take advantage of Elizabeth by selling her multiple warranties that did essentially the same thing. Standing in the doorway of her front door, Elizabeth explained that she had rearranged some of her furniture so that it was more intuitively placed and the details of the revised layout. William’s first comment was that she did not have to do that for him, to which Elizabeth reminded him that he had went out of his way to make her comfortable when she was in New York.

“I don’t want to disrupt your home.”

“Moving the kitchen table and a few footstools is not disruptive. It’s common courtesy like your getting my favorite ice cream and flowers when I stayed with you.” Elizabeth took hold of his hand. “The flowers were very sweet, but the idea was the same.”

Her argument was sound and he conceded without any more discussion. “You’re right.”

“Science girl is always right.” Elizabeth used the name William called her when she would be particularly ornery. “Wait until you see the bedroom.”

“What did you do there?”

“Nothing!” Elizabeth laughed. “But Mother Nature is being kind at this very moment by holding off on the curse an extra couple of days and if you come with me we can take advantage of her generosity.”

Elizabeth was so happy to see William that at first she did not notice his reluctance once they were in the bedroom. She was standing in front of him unbuttoning his shirt while he sat on the bed kissing her, but the enthusiasm William usually displayed was not there.

“What’s on your mind?” Elizabeth asked quietly as she rested her forehead against his.

William hesitated before answering. It was her statement about her period being late that he could not disregard and his reaction to it would be difficult for him to verbalize because William would not only be addressing this month, but every month.

“Elizabeth, I think we need better protection than condoms when we’re together.”


“You know what autosomal dominant means, right?” William was referring to a term in genetics in which an abnormal gene is on one pair of autosomes.

“Yes. Is that the classification of retinitis pigmentosa you have?”

“It is.” He admitted nervously. What William had was an inherited trait and if he would ever father a child, it would be passed on to the baby giving it a one in two chance of having his disorder. Elizabeth fully understood what he was talking about.

“Consider the birth control issue taken care of.” His hands were on the sides of her face and Elizabeth was certain he could feel her sincerity. “Next week I’ll have Jane give me one of those birth control shots that lasts for years.”

“Don’t permanently alter yourself.”

“It’s reversible.” Elizabeth moved to sit on his lap. “I looked up what you have long before I kissed you for the first time. I comprehend the genetics involved and the seriousness of their consequences.”

“You’re making all the sacrifices.”

“No, I’m not.” Elizabeth was more at peace in the three months she had been with William then she had in years. He was a wonderful lover and an excellent friend, and through his eyes she was beginning to see the good in herself that had been hidden to her for a long time.

With the love she had never spoken aloud, Elizabeth reassured him. “There are adjustments to be made, but don’t think I’m going without reward or suffering in any way. I’d walk across fire just to pick up the phone and hear you ask me how my day was. You give me so much more than I could…”

William covered Elizabeth’s mouth with his own as her words sank in. They did not take away William’s conviction that she was having to conform more than him, but it did soothe his mind that Elizabeth had entered into a relationship with him aware. The next words to come from his between his lips wholly expressed what he felt for her. “I love you.”

That night Mother Nature paid a call to Elizabeth but not until they had made love with a vivaciousness that she was certain her neighbor a half-mile away could have heard.


The weeks turned into months and before they knew it May had arrived. The alarm going off woke William out of his light sleep and as he reached over to nudge Elizabeth to have her turn it off, the memory that she had went back to Vermont the night before returned to him. Hitting the snooze bar with his hand, he rubbed his face before opening his eyes. The room was still dark and it took William a moment to get his orientation. Elizabeth must have reset it incorrectly he thought to himself before bringing the clock next to him to press the button that said the time aloud. It said seven AM.

Knowing that was wrong William turned on the light on his nightstand, but it was not working either. Wondering if a power surge had not occurred since he went to bed, William rose and went into the hallway feeling his way on the wall until he found the switchplate. Again he concluded that a fuse must have blown because the light would not turn on. Hearing the soft hum of his computer in the room he used as an office, William went there and sat in his chair. Another talking clock was in the room on his desk and after a moment’s indecision he touched it. It was one minute past seven AM.

William’s denial was strong as he turned on the radio to a morning program he listened to each day. It was some time before one of the DJ’s mentioned the New York sun coming through the window in their studio and with that statement came hope that if William opened his own curtains he too would see it. When he did, there was no light.


The last week of school was going to prove particularly trying for Elizabeth if she were to judge by how her Monday went. The teachers did not want to be there anymore than the students and trying to keep everyone occupied while they let the clock run out was more difficult than it should have been. She waited that night for William’s telephone call but it never came. They rarely missed a day when they did not talk, even after spending the weekend together. Elizabeth assumed William must have had something to do that he had forgotten to mention to her and went to bed that night believing that he would call in the morning. Tuesday passed and at eight in the evening she called William, but no one answered and Elizabeth became concerned. The three attempts placed by her went unanswered. By Wednesday morning she was talking to Charles.

With a knot in her stomach Elizabeth told her brother-in-law all she knew drawing out of him a confession that he had also been trying to reach William. Charles promised to make a few calls and leave her a message at school. In between her first and second period Elizabeth went to the school office and checked her voice mail. Charles was in route to New York, he had spoken to William at his home, and not to worry because he would contact her later in the day.

Early evening Elizabeth’s phone finally did ring and her caller identification said it was William’s number. “Are you all right?” She answered, bypassing a greeting. Elizabeth was caught between relief and frustration and it showed in her voice, but when there was a pause before William replied that he was fine, her emotions turned to fear.

“Will, what’s wrong?”

“I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”

“Why?” Many scenarios about what had kept William from contacting her had ran through Elizabeth’s mind during the past three days, but there was one avenue of possibilities she had never considered and that was that he wanted to end their relationship.

“I can’t see you anymore.”

Those words turned the unthinkable possibility onto reality. Their conversation did not last a full minute and in that short span of time two hearts were broken as William set Elizabeth free.


Charles did not return home for nine days. After he had unpacked his suitcase and had a long discussion with Jane, he phoned Elizabeth and asked her to come over in the morning. Charles was exhausted and needed a good night’s rest to clear his mind so he could better decide what he was going to do about what he knew and what Jane had just told him about her sister.

Elizabeth had resisted attempts by Jane to talk about William, but in one way maybe that was for the better since Jane was asked not to disclose the knowledge gained from her husband. This was the condition William set on Charles before he would allow him to enter his home.

Elizabeth did as Charles asked and came the next morning after Jane had left for work.

“When do you start teaching summer school?” He asked to the woman before him who stood rigid with her arms crossed over her chest and an unreadable expression on her face. Jane had warned him that this was how he was going to find her sister.

“Next Monday.”

“William and I have been friends…”

“I don’t want to talk about him.” She interrupted with a coldness that left no room for argument.

“Will you let me say what I need to say?”

“Not if it is about him.” Elizabeth broke eye contact and turned her head. She refused to cry over William anymore but what she would tell Charles next nearly brought those tears back again. “He wouldn’t even tell me why.”

“It’s not your fault.” Charles relayed those words with such compassion but it was wasted because he unknowingly quoted what William said before Elizabeth had hung up on him.

“Please, Charles.”

“No more, then.” Seeing the definite end in the conversation, Charles tried another approach. “I asked you over here for a selfish reason.”

“What’s that?”

“I need someone who knows my stories to help me out. Christian Moore is trying something new and I was hoping you might read it for me and let me know what you think. I made you a printed copy last night.”

Elizabeth wanted to ask Charles why he was doing this, although he had lately allowed her to peek at different sections he had been writing, but her curiosity was not so great and Elizabeth simply agreed dully. “I’ll read it.”

“Today?” He smiled to cover his nervousness. Charles felt like he was gambling at a high stakes craps table and if he misrolled he could lose more than Elizabeth, he could lose his friend, too.

“I might as well read it now. I’m not doing anything.”

“I need to warn you that I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do with it. I may work it into the next book or it may be a new direction that should be told separate.” Elizabeth nodded to what Charles was telling her as he handed her a large bundle of papers. “Also, it does deal with Simon.”

“I don’t know if I want to read about him.” Simon was one of the more unique characters in Charles’s books. He was a vampire of the neutral sect also known as those who came second. Simon had purposely blinded himself to atone for the guilt he had over an atrocity he had committed hundreds of years ago. In the companion book of lore his nickname was Love because that was what he represented since his transformation.

“It was written before.” Charles was indicating before her break up with William. “Will you please check it out for me? I’ll wait outside.”


Over two hours later Elizabeth went outside in search of her brother-in-law. He was at the pool sitting under an umbrella with a pen and pad of paper in his hand. The coldness was gone from her demeanor and open admiration glowed on her face.

“It was beautiful, Charles” She said as she handed him back the manuscript. “This is the first time I actually feel hopeful for your characters. This is your best ever. I noticed some variations from your typical speech, but you must have written it with a lot of feeling because of the richness of the words. You really showed the love description you had given Simon and his logic is almost impeccable. He could easily be a leading man in my opinion. ”

“What did you think of Iliana?”

“She…she’s interesting and brave. I like her and I’m not generally drawn to female characters as much as male. What a lively creature you made. I hope you continue her in the story. I think she had brought a breath of fresh air to Simon which he needed.”

Charles smiled and for the next fifteen minutes Elizabeth gave her favorable review of what she had read. Then Charles has a special request to make of her.

“If I tell you a secret will you swear that you will never tell anyone else? Only five people know of it but it can’t get out, Elizabeth.”

Sitting in a deck chair next to his, Elizabeth promised although she was baffled by his statement.

“I don’t do public appearances ever as Christian Moore. There are a couple of reasons for that and the most obvious is that I want to remain anonymous.”

“I don’t blame you.”

“Here is what you can’t tell anyone. Christian Moore is actually two people. My partner wants no credit and is even more adverse to the publicity than I am. How we split up our duties is that he creates the characters, we both develop the plot, and I do all of the writing to bring it together. But this,” Charles held up the manuscript, “this he wrote entirely on his own. It was intended to be a gift…”

“Who’s your partner?” Elizabeth knew the answer before she asked. She just instinctively knew although until this moment she had never suspected.


Elizabeth was rendered speechless as she thought about the man she still harbored love for and the revelation from Charles. When she could talk, she asked the question most important to her. “Why didn’t he tell me?”

“He wasn’t finished yet.” Charles picked up the manuscript and laid it in front of her. “This was intended for you.”

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Elizabeth asked him another question that was important to her. “Charles, what happened?” No one, including William, had explained to her why he no longer wanted to be with her and as is often natural, Elizabeth convinced herself it was something she had done. After she told Charles this, her brother-in-law took matters into his own hands.

“I promised William I would not tell you,” Charles rose and motioned toward the house. “Come with me and I’ll show you.”

They both went back into the house and Charles led her to the kitchen pantry.

“This room will work.” He said as he turned on the light and invited her in before closing the door behind him. Charles then turned the light off. “What do you see?”

“Nothing.” The room was pitch dark.

“In the stories Simon has the ability to heal himself as you know, but maintains his loss of vision as a reminder of the damage he can do, even though he feels his blindness is a burden for Illiana. There are ten more pages I haven’t shown you. I don’t like the changes in the direction of the plot. You see, Simon breaks his ties with Iliana because he is certain he will hold her back from her potential. Those pages were written a few days ago.”

In that instant it all made sense to Elizabeth. William had been writing the characters based on them and the love they had shared. The darkness in the room was Charles’s way of telling her that something had happened to William’s sight.

“Does William have any vision left?”

“I can’t answer that because I told him I wouldn’t. What do you see in this room?”

Once again Elizabeth said ‘nothing.’

“He’s my closest friend, we have been since we were nine.” Charles turned back on the light. They left the pantry and went into the kitchen together. “I can’t help him because he won’t let me.”

Elizabeth looked up at the clock on the wall. “If William wanted to come here, would you help him?”

“Yes, Jane and I have already discussed that. He has very little family in New York and he’s not that close to them.”

“There is a train to New York in two hours. Charles, will you take me to the station?”

“I will. Why don’t you go home and pack. I’ll pick you up in an hour.”

Details were sorted out between them and as Elizabeth was about to leave, Charles gave her one more piece of information he thought she needed to know.

“William believed he was doing what was best for you, not for himself.”

“He was wrong.”

“Do you want the ten pages of the text I didn’t show you?”

“No.” Elizabeth glanced over at Charles with confidence in herself for the first time in twelve days. “You said you didn’t like the direction of the plot.”

“Thank you, Elizabeth.”



Elizabeth stood across the street from where William lived with a backpack slung over her shoulder and her cell phone in hand. She had just spoken to Charles who told her that William was not at home. According to William’s housekeeper Gladys he would be back soon and she agreed to play dumb when Elizabeth arrived and let her inside. It really was not necessary for them to have Gladys’s aid since Charles had slipped Elizabeth his key to William’s door before she left, but it was a comfort for Elizabeth to know she had an ally. She would need it.

Elizabeth had no plan of what she was going to say or do when she saw William. She would not allow herself to think on that fact while she waited, instead relying on instinct to lead her in the right direction. Forty minutes she stood outside until a taxi stopped in front of his building and the man she would know anywhere got out. Two differences caught her notice right away. William was not wearing his sunglasses and he opened up a cane once he stepped out of the cab. That was when reality hit her and Elizabeth sat down on a nearby bench berating herself for her arrogance that she had the qualifications to even reach out to him.

Faith in ones self is often a fragile belief; Elizabeth’s was wavering. Her analytical mind overrode the messages coming from her heart but within those statements of doubt was some truth. William did not want her there. He did not even want her to know he was completely blind, and had taken it upon himself to determine that Elizabeth would now deemed him a burden.

Elizabeth was not one who took kindly to others making decisions for her, even when they acted from the misconception that they were protecting her. Her innate stubbornness rose to the challenge as Charles’s words of wisdom sang out like a siren’s call. If William truly did not care for her anymore Elizabeth would accept that, but he was by God not going to go through this alone. Elizabeth would be the one to decide if she wanted to share this with him, and no one including William had the right to make that choice for her. Granted, the logic was flawed as his because Elizabeth gave no consideration to William’s desires, but this is what motivated her to cross the street.

Gladys was tired and wanted to go home. She came outside to look for Elizabeth and when she spotted her across the sidewalk, Gladys waved for her to come over. There was not a lot to be said between them as one might have thought. Gladys wanted to stay as neutral as possible, and only the elder woman’s hand on her shoulder told Elizabeth that she wished her the best.

Once she crossed the threshold, Elizabeth knew there was no turning back. “He’s in his bedroom.” Gladys told her as she retrieved her purse from a table in the foyer. With one last long look, the woman left Elizabeth to her own devices. Once the front door was closed and locked Elizabeth’s gaze next went to the stairway leading to the second floor. The last time she had been here William had chased her up them laughing after she had teased him about a reward if he could catch her.

Now Elizabeth climbed the steps with a slow, steady gait, holding tight to the handrail and without the eagerness to reach his bedroom as quickly as possible. She knocked lightly before opening the door, looking to the bed for him. William was not there and the door had to be opened more for Elizabeth to see that he was sitting in a wing chair across the room. His appearance did not give her the impression of good health. William had obviously lost some weight but perhaps more than anything it was the expressionless cast to his face that made him look unwell.

“Gladys, why don’t you go on home. I don’t want any dinner tonight and can take things from here.” He said gently. It took Elizabeth a few extra seconds before she responded.

“She’s already left, Will. And yes, you do need some dinner because you’re getting too thin.”

William did not move except to close his eyes. “Is Charles here?” was all he said to mark her presence. He was not a rude man, reserved yes, but not purposely rude. His shock at hearing her voice left him confused and for a brief moment William was not certain it really was her. It could have been Jane, or his cousin Anne.

“No,” Elizabeth heard her own voice crack. “Just me, William.”

“Elizabeth, go home.” He pleaded, as quietly as he had spoken when he thought Gladys had entered his room.

“I won’t do that.”

“I don’t need to be watched.”

“That’s good because I have no plans to chaperone you.” Without saying any more Elizabeth turned around and went back downstairs to find him something to eat. Her hands were shaking as she opened the refrigerator and she rubbed them briskly together to make them stop as she felt wetness form on her cheeks. Elizabeth swore to herself right then that she would not cry in front of William or let him know how much his dismissal of her hurt. She’d fake it like the best of them and maybe if she pretended enough she might start to believe it herself.

Elizabeth gave him an hour to become accustomed to the idea she was there before heading back up the stairs with a warmed up plate of food she had found in the kitchen. William had left his own bedroom and was in his office with the phone clutched in his hand. Anger was written all over his face.

“Here you are,” Elizabeth said as she put the plate in front of him before taking one of the bottles of beer out of her other hand, and placing it on the desk with directions as to where he could find it. “There’s a Corona at two o’clock. I don’t know about you, but I could use one.”

“Elizabeth, please go home.” His tone was even, firm but not belligerent.


“I’ve already told Charles to be expecting you. You’ve seen me, now it’s time to leave. I can take care of myself.”

“You’re back to that again. I want to make myself perfectly clear. I’m not here to take care of you.”

“Then why are you here?” This was the first indication of frustration William exposed.

“You know why.” Elizabeth regretted saying that as soon as it came out. To get attention away from the subject, she offered William an exchange. “If you eat what I made you, I’ll leave you alone for the rest of the night.”

“That’s taking care of me, Elizabeth.”

“No, it’s justified concern.”

Elizabeth did as she said she would and other than telling William ‘goodnight’ after she had unpacked her belongings in a spare bedroom, she made no other contact. Laying awake listening to the sounds in the house, she heard William move about on the second story. The music he played in his office did not drown out the background noise as he went to take a shower, nor did it disguise his pacing in the hall. She also knew when he came to stand outside her door and despite the prayers she said that he would knock, William did not. He simply stood there for several minutes before going into his own room and closing the door behind him. So ended their first day together.

The second was not much more eventful except for the heated argument they had in the afternoon when Elizabeth announced that she was not going to leave unless William came to Vermont with her. They had butted heads in the past but it had always been done cordially. This time it was an all-out shouting match with no clear winner. What had thrown William over the edge was Elizabeth’s declaration that if she lost her job because she was not there to teach school she did not give a damn. Elizabeth was serious, too, stating that she would go to work for her father at the dairy if it happened. William yelled back that she was trying to use guilt to force him to do what she wanted. Maybe that was true, but Elizabeth would not budge from her position and neither would he. It was an ugly fight and when they finally just gave up with William storming off, neither spoke to the other for the rest of the day.

Elizabeth did not honor William’s wish for her to leave and when she woke on the third morning, she had a personal mission that had been brewing in her mind from the day before. Taking one of William’s dark ties out of his closet after he had vacated his bedroom, she wrapped it tightly around her head so she could not see anything. Elizabeth realized that what she was doing would never give her the emotional experience of what it would be like to be blind, but maybe having the physical experience could grant her some idea about William was facing since he would not talk to her about it. This was all she could come up with to do, and once the knot was formed she employed some of the maneuvers William had told her that he used and made her way downstairs.

“What are you doing?” William asked when he entered the kitchen after hearing a utensil hit the floor and Elizabeth curse.

“Watch out,” she knelt to the floor and searched for the butter knife she had dropped. Elizabeth recognized that she did not have to tell him what she was doing because William would never know, but that seemed so wrong to her; like she was taking advantage of his condition. Therefore she confessed. “I’m wearing a blindfold so I can better understand.”

“You couldn’t possibly understand.”

“That’s why I’m wearing the blindfold.”

“Take it off...” William’s voice trembled with his request. Certain Elizabeth was not doing her experiment to mock him, William did not want her to feel what it was like to be him.

“No, I’m going to wear it all day.” She counted out three paces from the kitchen counter to the table and put a small plate on it. “Here, I fixed you butter toast. If you want coffee it’s made. Don’t worry. I put everything back exactly where I found it.”

“Please go to Vermont.”

“There are only two ways you’re going to get me out of your home. The first is to call the police and have them forcibly remove me. Or the second is for you to agree to return with me and stay with Charles.”

“Why are you doing this to me?” Refusing to answer William’s question and feeling ashamed for bringing him pain, Elizabeth left the room brushing past him as she fled to the privacy of the second floor. The reservations about what she was doing were bearing down on her. Elizabeth was not listening to William any more than he was her, and she was intruding uninvited while he was trying to adjust and heal.

Hours she spent alone lying on her bed thinking and when Elizabeth reemerged in the early evening, she was going to tell William that she would leave in the morning. Elizabeth had not come to New York to do harm but she now felt the situation had escalated to the point where this was all that was becoming of it.

“William.” Elizabeth literally cried as she entered the livingroom where he was. “I need help!”

“What’s wrong?” Instantly on his feet, William went over to her.

“I hit my shin hard on the bathroom vanity. It hurts like hell.”

“Do you need to go to the hospital?”

“No. It’s not broken.” Elizabeth did not add that she was almost sure the bone was not fractured. The sensation was more like a surface wound than a broken bone.

“Are you still wearing the blindfold?” After she answered him yes, William reached up to untie it so she could see what was going on. “Let’s take it off.”

Elizabeth covered his hand with her own to stop him. All animosity between them was gone and although her words still implied determination, they were said without a trace of willfulness. “I want to leave it on until the morning. Just for today.”

“Are you bleeding?” William asked as his hand fell to his side.

“I don’t know, but it burns.”

“Sit on the couch and I’ll check it out.” Putting her hand on his arm, William guided her to sit down before going to his knees on the carpet.

“I haven’t shaved my legs….”

“That’s all right.” With the touch of an artist, William placed his hand on the back of her leg and gently moved his fingers forward to determine the outline of where she had hurt herself. It was a large area several inches long. Elizabeth winced once when the back of his fingers grazed the bottom edge of the cut, otherwise the barely perceivable caresses made with his fingertips relaxed her and soon the muscle in the leg went flaccid decreasing the throbbing in the cut.

“Heat’s coming from it and you have an abrasion, but I don’t feel any blood. I’d say you’re going to have a bad bruise in the morning. Stay here. I have ice packs in the freezer.”

William returned with more than ice. Ointment was placed on Elizabeth’s leg before the wound was covered with a large bandage and thin towel to protect it from the cold of the ice pack. They did not talk while he took care of Elizabeth; she felt foolish and William focused. Once everything was cleaned up and out away, William came back to sit down beside her.

He wished he could have a normal conversation with her. After a lifetime of experiencing what it was like to be catered to because of his family’s wealth, her honest speech was a trait he had most enjoyed about Elizabeth. Yet all subjects seemed taboo to him now. William was afraid that she would ask the ‘right’ question and he would have to answer her because in the past he had not censured his speech for her either. Recalling that Elizabeth had not come down to eat lunch, William found his safe subject. “Why don’t I order us something for dinner. Would you like pizza?”


“I’ll take care of it, but you have to let me answer the door when it arrives. The blindfold might raise speculation.”

“They may think we’re into a form of BDSM .” Elizabeth could not see the slight grin he made at her statement.

“I don’t know the number to call. Is there any chance you’d take off the blindfold for a minute to use the phonebook?”

“Call information.”

“Good idea.”

Two hours later they were still in the livingroom. They had sat on pillows at the coffee table to have their dinner as Elizabeth kept her leg out with the now warm ice pack on it. William had been able to find a couple of safe subjects to talk about, and between that and the news playing on the television time had passed without incident. Tomorrow was Sunday. Concern over Elizabeth relinquishing her teaching position weighed heavy as he left the security of generic conversation to broach the taboo.

“Elizabeth, don’t lose your job over me.”

“I’m going home tomorrow.” William nodded not remembering that she could not see him. “Charles wants you to come stay with him. It’s not pity, William, he only wants to make sure you’re okay. Please reconsider. I don’t want to leave you alone.”

“I’m not alone. Gladys comes whenever I need her.”

“Will, that’s being alone.”

Elizabeth was right and William acknowledged it to himself. It required more than twenty minutes of silent contemplation for him to finally change his mind.

“I’ll go.” Why Elizabeth could not savor her victory she did not know, but William’s agreeing did not give her the sense of completion she had believed it might. Instead she felt as if she was all by herself although he was not but three feet from her.

Whereas Elizabeth had not imagined that wearing the blindfold would give her any emotional insight, she was incorrect. Elizabeth wanted to look at William’s face to gage his sincerity in saying that he would return to Vermont with her, although the man had never lied to her before. She needed to ‘see’ the truth to believe it. In short, Elizabeth was emotionally lost without the reassurance of her eyes to tell her what was real.



“Could I sleep next to you tonight? I won’t bother you in any way.” This was no ploy by Elizabeth, it was a heartfelt request made out of desperate loneliness. She just wanted to have him near her this night.

William was speechless as they both fell into their own thoughts. Without her trusted eyes to tell her, Elizabeth knew by the change in the sound of his breathing that she had upset him with her request, but she did not offer any words of comfort because she was broken hearted herself. Some time later William rose from where he was sitting with her on the floor.

“Let’s go get some sleep. Give me your hand and I’ll lead you so you don’t get hurt anymore.”

They laid down together, neither touching the other but both wishing they could hold on tight. William loved her so very much but was still convinced that he would bring her nothing but hardship, and she could not imagine her life without him in it. They were meant to be together although at the moment they were not.

In the darkness Elizabeth whispered to William asking him to tell her what had happened with his vision. Without faltering he started the narration. Back in March he began to notice a difference in his visual acuity. Things that he had been able to see before were becoming nearly impossible to make out, especially when he tried to focus on a small objects. He did not think at the time that what was occurring would continue because in the past the loss had always happened in small percents. When Elizabeth had been with him on her last visit to New York something new began to occur. He was seeing bright flashes of light that would come and go, mistakenly judging it as nothing worth calling his doctor over. There was no pain involved. What was taking place was not a direct symptom of retinitis pigmentosa, although it was in one way related.

In technical terms he explained that his retina was detaching itself from the choroid in his eyes. By the time he woke the next morning the process had completed. He went to his doctor as soon as he could get in but the blood supply had been cut off for too long. Surgery to reattach the retina was out of the question because the retina itself had died.

William’s story ended there and after Elizabeth thanked him for telling her, she questioned him no more.


William made good on his promise and returned with Elizabeth to Vermont to stay with Charles and Jane. Elizabeth taught during the day and would spend her evenings with them, always going home alone at night. He was somewhat depressed, which she could understand, and the pressure Elizabeth had used to get William to break and agree to leave his home eased, but they were not an intimate couple as they had once been.

Friday marked the end of her first week of summer school. William was sitting in a lounger out by the pool when Elizabeth came early to visit with him still dressed in the clothes she had worn to teach in. She bore physical indicators of the stress the past few weeks had had on her; from the break up through her beginning her class without any preparation, but she tried to hide the evidence of weariness from William in her voice.

“You’re getting a burn, city boy.” Elizabeth said as she stood next to him.

“Thanks.” He had not been out there to swim, rather to have solitude to think. Charles and Jane had went out of their way to make him feel welcome in their home, and they had also given him space when he would go off by himself. The adjustment was at times difficult for all involved but William was just beginning to be more like his former self.

“I’m not staying tonight,” Elizabeth informed him as she stared at his face which she still thought was beautiful. “I think I’ll go home to bed, but I’ll be back tomorrow.”

“Is something the matter?”

“It’s been a long week.” She replied lightly.

William almost let her go but listening to her walk away he could tell that her pace was slower than her usual step. “Elizabeth, wait!”

After she came back to him, William moved over so she could sit next to him. “Will you tell me about it?”

Elizabeth had become accustomed to thinking about what he needed that she hesitated sharing her own problems for fear of …burdening him. William asked her again if she would talk about what was bothering her, encouraging Elizabeth to sit and share.

“Those kids,” she began. “They don’t care. It’s been like pulling teeth to get them to pay attention. They’re falling asleep, looking out the window, passing notes. The highlight of my first week of teaching summer school happened today. A girl in my class stood up and called me a bitch in front of the other students after I gave her test back.”

“What did you do?”

“I took her to the Jack’s office. I know the girl. She’s a blood cousin to my younger sister…”

“She’s your cousin?”

“No, Kathy. My foster sister.”

“You never told me she wasn’t your sister.”

“Kathy is my sister. I thought I had told you.”

“I didn’t mean offence about what I said about Kathy.”

“I know. The girl in my class and Kathy’s birth mother are related. Bad news all around.” Without forethought, Elizabeth rested her head against William’s shoulder. This was as close as they had physically been to each other for a long time with the exception of William unintentionally putting his arm around her while they slept together in New York.

“What did the girl do once they removed her from your class?”

Elizabeth let out a frustrated breath. “She was not expelled. I was told, indirectly of course, that I was to make certain everyone passed and to give her a second chance. That must be a new guideline for Vermont’s public schools no one informed me of; get them through even if they don’t learn. You’d be surprised how many of those kids can barely read.”

“There needs to be action taken about her being allowed to stay in school.”

“There’s nothing I can do. They gave her after school detention and she’s supposed to write me a letter apologizing for her outburst. Jack said since she was once related to Kathy it would look bad if I was to kick her out of my class without a second chance. Like I was out to get her.”

“Where did he come up with that? How ignorant is that man?”

“You don’t want to know. It’s days like this when I think that I could have been working in some nice, clean drugstore chain dispensing medications and drawing about three times the pay.”

“You wouldn’t have been bored doing that? Playing it safe?” William took her hand in his own while Elizabeth thought, but she did not answer him. “You said the kids weren’t paying attention. What do the students in your class need to know?”

“If I could teach them what I have in my notes, I’d feel good about it. The odds of there being a future Thomas Edison in this group are slim to none. I just want them to be exposed to the basics.”

“Are you teaching them more than that right now?”

“Yes. We’re following the book.”

“What if you just covered what was in your notes?”

“I don’t know. I’ll have to think on that.”

They were both silent for a while until William asked her a question she had not expected. “What would you like to do tomorrow?”

“Pardon me?”

“What would be enjoyable for you to do tomorrow?”

“Well…I’d like to sit in my back yard in a lawn chair under the big tree, if I may sound so dull. I want to smell the charcoal grill going and good music playing while I drink…a margarita. And for one day I just want to pretend that everything is wonderful.” Elizabeth raised her eyes to him. “What do you want to do tomorrow, William?”

“Exactly the same. Can I spend the night at your house if I promise not to touch you?”

Elizabeth laughed lightly at his reference to what she had asked him in New York. “Yeah.”

“I’ll get changed. Will you let Charles know where were going?”

“Sure. We’ll have to stop by the grocery store.”

“I’ll go in with you.”


William stood first and helped Elizabeth up before letting go of her hand with promises of meeting at the front door once they were both ready. Elizabeth would not have to go far to find Charles. He was inside watching them through the sliding glass doors that led to the patio, leaning against the doorjamb with a look of hope.


“Elizabeth, were these limes on clearance?” They had been practicing making margarita’s for tomorrow and were sipping the first experiment sitting on her couch.

“No, why do you ask?”

“This one isn’t fresh. Smell this,” William held the lime out for her. “Do you notice that there’s not much scent to it?”

“Not really, but I don’t smell food. I’m a Cajun sort of cook, William. ”


“Blackened chicken, blackened steak…”

“Blackened toasted cheese.” William interrupted with a laugh.

“See if I make that for you again!” Elizabeth threatened in return. They were facing one another, Elizabeth sitting crossed legged. Leaning forward to rest her chin on his knee, she wrapped her arms around his leg and smiled. “Could you answer something for me that’s been on my mind?”


“Why didn’t you ask for my opinion before you decided our fate?”

The nonjudgmental way she posed her question made it quite easy for William to answer it honestly. “Elizabeth, you would resent me someday.”

“If I ever come to resent you it would be more likely because you didn’t let me make my own decision, not because you are blind.”

“All I can give you is a series of sacrifices. Have you thought it would be like to have to drag me through life? I can’t offer you a normal home, or children of your own, or even a companion to travel with…”

“You assume to be an expert on my priorities. We both knew this was most likely going to happen.”

“Reality is different than concept.”

“What do you consider a normal home, William? Like what I grew up in with biological children, adopted children, and a foster child together on a dairy farm in Vermont?”

“I meant your own children.”

“So, if maternal instinct ever hit me I would have to have someone have my nose or your chin to love them?” William did not respond. “And where did all of this ‘I can’t’ come from? You can’t ride to the top of the Sears Tower with me? You can cross the Hoover Dam as it vibrates under your feet? You can’t lay on the beach at Hilton Head and listen to the tide come in while the sun bakes our skin…”


“Do you want to know what you can do for me that no other man can? You can tell me why Simon didn’t give Iliana a choice.”

Iliana was a name only William had used in what he had been writing for Elizabeth, it did not come from the other books which meant Elizabeth could only have learned about it one way. “Have you read it?”

“All except the last few pages. You’re a very talented writer.”

“Did Charles tell you about Christian Moore?”

“He did. He also said that you were going to tell me. William?”


“Were you always going to break it off between us when you lost your sight for good? Was that your plan?”

“I thought if we had more time to go places and do things together, your regret might be less when it happened.”

“Why do you think I’d hold it against you that you are blind?” Feeling his body tense, Elizabeth lifted her eyes and watched as a shadow crossed his face.

“Can this be a question I don’t answer?” There was a story within him, but it was one William was not yet ready to tell. Plainly put, people had withdrawn from him in the past and this had left William with the impression that Elizabeth’s departure was destined because he was flawed.

“Yes, but don’t group me with those people.” Elizabeth had gone on gut instinct with that statement and it was dead-on right. He asked her if Charles had told her anything about his growing up, which he had not, then William took time to mull over her words.

“Simon didn’t give Iliana a choice because he didn’t want to lose her slowly as she came to resent her choice of being with him.”

“You didn’t give her credit for knowing what she wants or what she holds important.”

“You’re right. Make your own choice, Elizabeth.”

“Do you still care about me?”

“I love you.” He admitted.


Hilton Head Beach, SC.

At the screen door as the pre-morning breeze rushed past her to enter the house, Elizabeth stood in the stillness created by the void of another not occupying the space with her. White linen curtains in the livingroom danced to a rhythm conjured up by the sea. They could not excite her concentration from her search of the darkness as it followed the light from the porch until it illuminated the sole figure of a man.

He had a ritual he preformed religiously since they arrived; to go out before the dawn and sit on the beach as the sun made its appearance. William told her it was a habit he had acquired when he was young, but Elizabeth believed it to be more. He was always peaceful when he returned and some of their most revealing conversations had occurred afterward as they held warm coffee mugs in their hands.

The healing properties of water have long been written about, but until she came to Hilton Head Island Elizabeth did not give any credence to the claims. There was no tangible evidence to support such a statement, but now that she had been here with William she was a believer. Physically they were both as they should be, but this was not where nature’s salve was needed to be applied.

Elizabeth must not have been looking when William stole the last bit of her heart, but it most assuredly had occurred during the recent week. Unaccustomed to the feeling of defenselessness, Elizabeth’s emotions went back and forth between joy and trepidation. There was nothing she could do. Elizabeth was in love . Taking a cotton blanket from the back of a chair, she stepped outside to join him.

“Good morning.” William said as he heard her approach. “The tide’s beginning to come in.”

“It’s chilly so I brought a wrap.” He could not see her smile, but William knew it just the same. “May I sit with you?”

His arm reached out in place of a verbal response and she grasped it, guiding herself to sit between his legs. The blanket was handed to William, which he unfolded and placed around the both of them while Elizabeth settled up against his chest. Cool cotton pressed against her back, the nightgown she wore not offering protection against the chill. Soon the heat from their bodies was trapped by the cover and a comfortable warmth built.

Closing her eyes, Elizabeth began to perceive what was occurring around her. The longer she used her sense of hearing for orientation, the more she was able to distinguish. With each minute that drifted by she relaxed more in the security of William’s body encircling hers. He did not flinch when a noise startled her, nor did he seem concerned with the sounds she could not identify. There is a natural vibration that comes from the sea as it moves inland, low and nearly unperceivable if one does not seek it out. Elizabeth experienced this marvel for the first time while on the beach of Hilton Head.

“What are you doing?” William asked as his mouth skimmed her bare neck.

“I’m listening.” With her eyes remaining shut, Elizabeth replied back slowly not wishing to disturb the phenomena surrounding them. Time passed and they did not move except for William drawing her nearer.

“William, make this last forever.” Elizabeth’s head fell back to rest on his shoulder, her statement said as if he had it in his power to do so. William actually did have the power to make it happen, but it was an unrealistic way to live. Edens were best appreciated with the balance of real life to give them meaning.

If Elizabeth thought she was the only one who had lost their heart to the other, she was wrong. At those periods when William would let his mind go to far corners that were better left undisturbed, the idea of losing her paralyzed him. How could William tell her this and not sound weak? How does a man make such a confession? If he could only answer his own question, needless as it was, he would discover that Elizabeth was not going anywhere without him.
“How do people stay in love?” Elizabeth’s fears were coming out to play in the darkness and her expressing them had been unplanned for. She was not a dramatic woman who used words and actions to create an illusion of someone she could never be. Her present speech patterns seemed alien as they slipped through her lips because they were not forthright, but concealed as random thought.

Young lovers with their uncertainties held on to one another. Time was the answer that alluded them. With the passage of it would come confidence.

“I don’t know. I think it’s their priorities that make a difference.” Fingertips roughened by countless hours of writing traveled the narrow ridge of her chin. William could not account for why, but his hands rarely strayed from her. The occasional touch gave reassurance that Elizabeth was there, much like how she would gaze across the room at him. Both served the same purpose.

“You’re beautiful.” William brought the blanket closer around them and she was left without comment. Without their knowledge, an hour slipped by. Elizabeth only opened her eyelids twice during that period. Once to answer a question of William’s and the other to make certain a nearby bird was not too close to them.

“May I say something I’m not sure you’ll want to hear?” William nodded, granting her permission to voice whatever she needed. “You have the most stunning eyes I’ve ever seen on a man. Huge and brown; they’re animated and you use them when you talk…even still. I believe they are one of your finest features.”

Elizabeth’s words made love to what William had grown to despise. He never acknowledged any value in them since they had failed him so completely, yet this woman looked past their uselessness to find virtue where he only given origin to scorn. What Elizabeth said did not change William’s opinion because it had been too many years in the making, bit it did for a moment give his an opportunity to view himself differently.

Feeling the rays of light upon his face as the sun began to rise, William rose and helped Elizabeth to her feet, dusting the sand loose from their clothes. Hand in hand they walked back to the house, the blanket draped around her shoulders. Wondering if she had offended him since William said nothing, Elizabeth intended to clear the air over their morning coffee. Her curiosity would be satisfied before that.

Once inside and certain they were out of safely away from the eyes of strangers, he stepped her back until she was flush with the door. Pressing his body weight against her with forearms leaning on the door, William’s mouth sought out Elizabeth’s. A fine dusting of salt from the sea spray burned a small cut he had on his lower lip, the sensation easily overlooked when compared to the choice of tasting her.

Elizabeth’s habit of voicing opinions that shook him to his core he would never become accustomed to, but William lived for them. Sometimes he would reciprocate with one of his own…

“The last time I saw you was when you were getting into a taxi, smiling at me as you said good bye.” William’s voice trailed off as the images sprang to life. “I see it as clearly as if it was happening now. Your picture will not change in my mind. Say you love me.”

“I love you,” she complied as her nails dug into his hair.
What had started out as gentle intentions instantaneously combusted into a passion derived from need. Need for reassurance, the need to be wanted, and the need to know that this was real and not a dream derived from a lonely mind summoning hallucinations.

Her nightgown was soon pooled at her feet, having slipped from her shoulders without much effort. The heat from his hands as they burned a trail across her body alternated with the cool breeze now swirling in the room, yet the abundance of air did not alleviate the difficulty they now experienced in breathing. This was not the first time they had both lost themselves at the same time to the urges of the body, but as they had become more familiar over time, the sex intensified.

Going to his knees after she had removed his clothes, William ran his hand over the area between her legs before lifting his mouth close to her breast. “Climax, Elizabeth, ” was all the warning he gave before two fingers slipped several inches inside of her, palm out, to the area of her upper wall that he had found months ago. With a pressure stronger than what he would use of the outside of her, small circular patterns teased the area until it began to rise from the stimulation and this was when William noticed something out of the ordinary.

Elizabeth’s own natural lubricant was slick like oil, but what he was using to make his movements was thicker. William identified it as the semen he had deposited in her the night before. The idea of Elizabeth carrying remnants of their love making within her brought a rush of blood between his own legs making his growing erection throb from the suddenness; William certain that if she would even reach down to touch him, he would be done for.

“Oh God,’ he groaned, his voice louder than hers while outside their window whitecaps began to form as the tide intensified, crashing inland with a force constant and unbreakable. This would not be a repeat of the night before when they made gentle love. Instead it would mimic the recklessness occurring outside their refuge.

Elizabeth’s hips pivoted outward to accommodate him as her hands held William’s head to her breast. The line between pain and pleasure faded when her senses became overloaded due to what he was doing to her. The manipulation of her nipple in his mouth while his fingers danced split her concentration until they finally melded into one rhythm that commanded her complete regard. William said sentences to her that Elizabeth paid no heed to, but he was listening and when she relayed that ‘I’m close’ his efforts increased bringing about pain that in turn brought out the most exquisite, indescribable pleasure.

It was shattering when it hit. The peak began with a ripple effect as contractions came in rapid succession with no pause, one after the other almost tumbling over themselves to be expelled. The stronger lasted longer, yet time in this instant was counted in half-seconds. Just as they slowed, William once again coaxed their continuation by engaging the area with a lighter touch this time. Pressure was no longer necessary against the soft tissue.

They had done their homework and practice does make perfect. Pulling her forward so that she was on her hands and knees, they both knew this position would prolong her pleasure as the angle of his penetration would press on the awakened spot normally hidden from them with conventional stimulation. Multiple orgasms were not a myth.

“Lose yourself.” A hoarse directive came from Elizabeth’s dry throat. Chills broke out on her arms after she said those words, announcing a fresh wave of orgasm needing incentive to come to a head. “Don’t hold back, Will.”

William pushed past the ridges that lined the opening to her vagina as they stretched to admit him, the depth inside soft and engorged enveloping the length of his member. Elizabeth’s moans and broken sentences increased in volume as a tempo of his first few movements established itself.
With his hands gripping her hips, William brought her down firmly on himself. Each stroke brought him closer to the end, but the end held promise of his flooding her and ecstasy. This woman was made for him and as much as she was her own person.

Just as his own crest neared as evidenced by one final swelling of his penis, Elizabeth’s began again. The undertows that the period between contractions left in its wake drug William farther inside. Hitting hard against her back wall was the turning point for him and with a violent shudder William released inside of the woman who owned his heart.

When it was over, William lowered his cheek against Elizabeth’s bare back. “I love you,” he whispered upon her skin.

“I know.”

Young lovers with their uncertainties held on to one another. Time was the answer that alluded them. With the passage of it would come confidence.


The months turned into a year… Autumn again.

Elizabeth read the name plate on the door before slipping into the refuge of the woman’s bathroom off of the teacher’s lounge. Nodding at the only other person she could see, Elizabeth ducked into a stall and closed the door behind her before fumbling for her cell phone in her book bag. Dialing the number, she waited until she heard the other woman exit before sending the call to home.

“I have to talk fast before anyone else comes in.” She said once she heard him pick up.

“What’s up?”

“These students…they’re sophisticated! I don’t know, Will.”

“They’re a pack of kids.”

“Kids carrying six hundred dollar purses and looking at me like I’m going to be on the lunch menu next week.” Elizabeth was not faking her anxiety, but thankfully William knew what to do. He challenged her.

“Science girl is afraid of the unenlightened? I find that hard to believe.” He replied in a sarcastic tone.

“Hum…unenlightened, you say?”

“Who’s your hero?” William bit down on his lip so he would not laugh.

“Marie Curie! Nobel prize winner in chemistry and physics. I know her biography by heart.”

“Where’s the answers to all of life’s questions?”

“In science.” Elizabeth answered back sharply.

“What do interesting people talk about at a dinner party?”

“That’s an easy one. Science.”

“What is the one subject people misinterpret more than any other?”

Raising her free hand in the air, Elizabeth answered “Science.”

“What’s your mission in life?”

“To set them straight.” William’s teasing had worked and Elizabeth was settling down. “Put Ralph on the phone.”

“Ralph,” William called out. This was not the first time she had asked him to do this. “Ralph, you have a phonecall.”

Into the room trotted a German Shepherd, his heavy frame imitating the sound of thunder when his paws hit the wood floor. He was an intimidating mass of one year old flesh and they had some concerns about his fitting in Elizabeth’s car if he grew anymore. If Ralph had not had his tail wagging while his tongue was hanging out of his mouth, he might even be considered frightening.

“Sit.” William said to his seeing eye dog, putting the phone up to his ear once he had obeyed. “Here’s Ralph.”

“Hello, sweet baby.” Elizabeth cooed. “How is my boy today? Do you miss me? You’re the best dog in the entire world and I love you. Are you being treated well? I’ll tell William to give you an extra steak bone because you are so good…”

William waited patiently until Ralph barked, a sign that she had told him to do it so William would get back on the phone.

“Will, don’t forget to take the trash out today.”

“You whisper sweet nothings to the dog,” he said dryly. “Then remind me to do a filthy chore?”

Elizabeth let out a belly laugh. She loved it when William played the part of the abused husband, even if they had only been married for two months. “Put Peaches on the phone.”

“She’s in Purgatory.”

“Did she pee on the floor again?”

“Right after I brought her in from outside.” A genuine smile danced across his lips. “We’ll be there at four this afternoon to walk you home from school.”

“Thank you.” The warning bell announcing the first period sounded in the room. “I have to go. You know I’m thinking about you today.”

“I need to stay busy.” William admitted.

“You haven’t read any papers, yet?” All of their papers came in both print and Braille, which William was getting quite good at reading.

“I’m going to let Charles read them first.”

“I was so tempted this morning when the Times arrived.”

“Go to class.” William laughed. “You’re making me nervous.”

“Why don’t you work on housetraining Peaches to pass the time? It will take all day and you’ll get nowhere.” Elizabeth exited the stall she had been hiding in. “I have to hang up now. I love you.”

“I love you, too. You’ll do fine.”

Once Elizabeth made it to her classroom, she took a moment to look at the faces of the students in her chemistry I class. ‘They’re young’ she thought to herself as she unbuttoned her lab coat and took it off. It was too warm for the extra clothing and underneath the jacket she wore her ‘Science Rocks’ tee shirt a former student had made for her. Many raised eyebrows and snickers echoed through the room but there was one boy sitting in the front row who looked at her with an expression of understanding. Meeting his gaze, Elizabeth gave him a small smile as a shared appreciation passed between them. Then she started her class.

“Hello. I’m Mrs. Darcy and this is chemistry one. If you’re not supposed to be in chemistry, now might be a good time to leave the room. For those staying, please put your book under your seat. You won’t need to bring it with you to class unless I tell you to beforehand. I’ll be teaching you the basics of chemistry…”

Two life altering events were happening on this day for William and Elizabeth. Hers was that she was not starting the first day of class in Vermont but in New York City five blocks from where she and William lived.

William had heard about the job opening in January and knowing that Elizabeth had already applied for her teaching license in the state of New York, it was almost too good to be true that a school within walking distance was needing a science teacher for the following school year.

Because the school was located in a good location the competition was going to be stiff. Elizabeth believed she had little hope of getting the position, but with ongoing encouragement from William she went into the interview with the attitude that she already had the job. Before she had arrived there was a rumor floating among the board members that she was engaged to William Darcy, a man known for his philanthropic endeavors. When Elizabeth interviewed, dollar signs were already in the eyes of some of the interviewers as they thought about what William could help them raise for the school. But this is not what got her the job in the end. It was her enthusiasm that won them over and earned her the position.

Elizabeth received confirmation that she was hired in May. In June she and William married on Hilton Head Island at the house his family owned. The ceremony was small with only close relatives in attendance…and Ralph of course. Ralph especially liked the morning ritual he and William shared while they spent three weeks in South Carolina. At sunrise man and beast would go out onto the beach and William would toss a ball into the tide for Ralph to retrieve.

Elizabeth and William spent their entire three week honeymoon there. Four days before they were to return home (New York) William and Ralph came back late one morning with a female German Shepherd puppy tucked under William’s arm as a gift for Elizabeth. He had met a man on the beach shortly after they were married and noting that Ralph was a seeing eye dog, the man mentioned that he knew of puppies for sale by a woman who trained them. It was difficult to do, but William was able to be secretive enough to get a hold of the breeder only to find out there was one pup left and she did not think she would make a good trained animal, but her temperament would make an excellent pet.

Elizabeth was sitting on the front porch eating a peach when William put the restless puppy down. It was love at first sight for Elizabeth. She called her over, the pup stole the peach from her hand and took off running into the house. She had been wrecking havoc ever since. This is how Peaches got her name.

Before they were married it was agreed between them that because of William’s continued work as a fundraiser, New York was where they needed to live. They could have stayed in Vermont since his work peaked during the autumn and winter months, but the traveling back and forth was needlessly stressful on all of them. The house in the country Elizabeth rented from her uncle was subsequently purchased by William so they would have a place of their own to come to when they were able.

William continued to write. The year between his losing his sight and their marriage he took the text he had written for Elizabeth and expanded it into a four hundred page book. Two trips to the editor later, Christian Moore was starting a new series where Simon and Iliana were the lead characters. Charles approved of the direction of the new plot and went through his friend’s manuscript changing words here and there so that no one except the most astute fan would be able to tell that it was written by someone else. Both men maintained their ability to remain anonymous.

At the same time that Elizabeth started her first day as a New York City public school teacher, the reviews on William’s book were due to come out in the papers and online. They made a pact that William would not find out what the reviewers wrote in the various publications until after Elizabeth was at school because of her nervousness on both accounts.

They had a lot riding on how the story was received. If all went well then William was going to take over Charles’s role as the writer, giving Charles the opportunity to start writing a group of stories completely unrelated to their vampires and under a new name. If the reviewers did not like William’s first attempt then the two men would finish out their contract with their publisher working in the roles they had before.

William was outside the school at four as he told Elizabeth he would be. Ralph stood harnessed by his side and Peaches at his feet wrapping her leash around his legs. A few brave students had stopped to pet the dogs while William waited, most of the attention going to the puppy as Ralph stood guard next to his owner.

“You’re smiling.” Elisabeth said after she took Peaches’s leash and kissed William and Ralph.

“I am.”

“It’s a big smile, William. Is it because you’re glad to see me?”

“Partially. How was your day?”

“The students think I’m crazy, so it was fine. Tell me!”

William leaned down and lowered his voice. “Do you want to wait until we get home?”


“It’s all good, Elizabeth.”

“All good? Even from that ass critic at the Times?”

“Yes!” William’s smile broadened. “His biggest complaint was that it was too short.”

“It was four hundred and seven pages!”

“There’s more. He admitted in his column that he was prepared to hate the story because he never did like Simon, but by the end of the first chapter he was starting to change his mind.”

“What did Eve say?” Eve was Christian Moore’s publisher and her word was like that of God.

“She said that if it sells as well as she expects, she wants to know when I can get the next one done. Charles has called about seven times already today. I think he was weeping after he talked to Eve, mumbling something about mysteries based on psychic CIA detectives…I have no idea what he was talking about.”

“I am so damn proud of you!” Elizabeth hugged him, kissing him over and over. They were such a team—the other’s strongest supporter. Where Elizabeth was lacking, William thrived, and her strengths helped to make up for his weaknesses. They were meant to be together. “We have to celebrate!”

“I’ve already ordered food in for tonight. Charles and Jane are coming up this weekend and we’ll all go out…” With her arm around his waist they started to head for home while talking a mile a minute to each other. Elizabeth could hardly wait to read the reviews, knowing that the critics were going to see in William what she, Charles, and Eve already knew.

At the first crosswalk a phenomenon occurred that could have been considered a sign from God of good things to come.

“William, Peaches stopped at the curb.” Elizabeth whispered to him so she would not startle the dog. “I think she’s following Ralph’s lead.”

“There may be hope for her yet. Although, I’m getting accustomed to her chaotic ways.”

“I know. She’s not subdued like me at all.” William laughed at her blatant lie as the light changed. “I have to make a confession because it’s eating away at me. I slept with Christian Moore last night.”

“Was he any good?” Damn if Elizabeth saying that did not give William the chills.

“God, yes. We did it in the bathtub.”

“Stop.” William, Elizabeth, and Ralph all stopped once they had crossed the street. Peaches let out a small yelp when she ran out of leash because she had kept on walking. In his sexy tone, William made Elizabeth a promise. “When I get you in the home….”

The End.

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