by Georgette Heyer
"Well, if you won't even speak to me..." said Norman, and made a movement as though to go away.
The tears welled over again. He obviously didn't care. He was hateful!
Norman paused, irresolute. He could not leave her crying like this even if she did tell him to go. He came nearer, and stood just behind her. In the mirror he could see her proud, unyielding face, with eyes downcast, and tears on her face. She took no notice of him, but at least she did not push him away. He put out his hand, and gently stroked the little curls upwards in the nape of her neck. "Darling..."
Frances dabbed at her eyes and gave a heart-rending sob. She did not look outraged now; she looked forlorn, and pathetic, and Norman was filled with a deep loathing for himself. He put his arms around her, but not tightly, just in case it was after all yet another wrong move. "I'm sorry, darling. I didn't mean to make you cry. Don't, precious!"
Frances turned and clung to him. "Oh Norman!"she sobbed. "I'm sorry. It was all my fault!"
So in spite of every appearence to the contrary it had been the right move after all. Truly you never knew where you were with women, or what was expected of you.
Norman hugged Frances, and kissed her, and clumsily patted her shoulder. "Poor little Angel! Frances, you know I didn't mean that I thought you had thousands of faults, don't you?"
he began to laugh through her tears. "No, I kn-know you d-don't. Only I lost my temper, and you were so m-maddening! It's because I care about you that I get so angry with you. And then you went away and wrote letters, and I thought you didn't care whether I was miserable or not."
"Silly little Frances," Norman said caressingly. "I didn't know what to do. And I was rather angry just at first, I admit."
"I only wanted you to kiss me and say you didn't mean it," said Frances, fishing in his pocket for his handkerchief. "Why didn't you kiss me long before?"
"Well, you see, it didn't look like that, darling," explained Norman. "I was afraid I might get a clip over the ear, so to speak."
"I thought you didn't want to, so of course I had to pretend I'd rather you went," said Frances lucidly.
Norman gave her a sudden, breathe-destroying hug. "Frances - you little devil!" he said. "You deserve to be jolly well shaken!"
His Nibs, bundling into the room in search of them, perceived that there were embraces going on in which he had no share. He hurled himself joyously forward, and jumped up at them, barking. "Hi!"said His Nibs, in his own tongue. "You're forgetting Me!"
This section was `donated' by Archana, from the ListServ.