Luke & JJ
by Greg Bowden
The days of Fall passed quickly for Luke and J.J. but not so quickly as the nights. The delight they found in each other left both of them a bit breathless and, for a time, Louisa feared that both of them had come down with some unknown disease. Had she but compared their behavior with that of Eliot and Millicent, she might have wondered at the similarity.
Luke did his best to temper J.J's ardor when others were around but J.J. found it difficult to keep his enthusiasm in check. It was Tom who finally made him realize that all the world might not love a lover and that they had to be careful in showing their affection.
It was late on a chilly night early in December, and Luke and J.J. were lying together, spoon fashion, still coupled after making love. There was a loud knock at the door and they were able to jerk apart just as Tom pushed the door open and entered the room, carrying his lamp.
"What the hell is going on in here?" he asked, holding his lamp high. "It sounds like a new kid in a whore house." He gave them a sharp look.
They later realized that it was only the blanket that had saved them. If they hadn't been covered it would have been obvious what they had been doing. As it was, they were hard pressed to find an explanation. Finally Luke spoke up.
"Must have been me, Tom. I... I get these dreams, sometimes, where I call out in my sleep."
"Yea," J.J. stammered. "It woke me, too. I hollered at him, trying to wake him. Guess I woke you, too, huh?"
Tom didn't look convinced but he left, shaking his head.
Luke slept little the rest of the night, knowing the dreams would come for him.
Their love making became quieter after that, but no less uninhibited. They were both inventive lovers and each took great delight in finding new ways of delighting the other. But J.J., especially, had learned a lesson in self control.
Christmas came and J.J. decided he couldn't give Luke the gold chain he had worked so long to buy. It would be too much, he thought, and the family would wonder, especially Tom. He left the chain with Mr. Clifford until he could figure out what to do about it.
Millicent insisted that the family Christmas festivities be held at her home. There were a lot of reasons for her insistence, not the least of which was to prove to her new mother-in-law that she could handle all the aspects of a family celebration by herself. Beyond that, she was pretty certain she would have an announcement to make.
Christmas day was clear and surprisingly warm after a week or more of cold, overcast days. It was welcome relief and brought out high spirits in everyone. Even Dickens seemed to take extra pleasure in the special Christmas bone--with some meat left on--which Louisa presented to him when the family arrived home after services.
Most of the chores were let go for the day, except for those involving the care and comfort of the animals. When these had been tended to, the family, still in their Christmas finery, filled the buggy with brightly wrapped packages and set out for Lilac Cottage.
As it was the first Christmas for Mr. and Mrs. Eliot Williams, Louisa had wrapped many things she knew they would be needing including a number of jars of her own preserves and canned fruits and vegetables. Millicent had not lived on a farm before marrying and had not, Louisa knew, preserved much of the bounty of the past summer. These things would tide them over until the next summer when Louisa would see to it that Millicent learned the arts of canning and preserving.
Millicent's dinner was a great success, and she had prepared all of it herself, with the exception of the dessert. J.J. had come over the day before and made a Buche Nöel, which no one could pronounce but which everyone liked immensely.
When the meal was finished, and everyone was sitting in the parlor, Millicent brought out a bottle of champagne, which she had saved from her wedding, and seven small glasses. Once Millicent's father had opened the wine and poured a little for each of them, Millicent pulled up a chair and sat next to her husband.
"I have a special present for my husband," she said, "and I want all of you to share in it." Louisa gave a tiny gasp and a smile broke over her face. Mothers--and that includes mothers-in-law--have a keen sense of these things.
Millicent put her hand on Eliot's. "I am quite certain, my dear, that I am... I mean, that you shall soon find yourself a father."
Eliot was speechless for a moment but the shine of his eyes told them all how pleased he was. He reached out and touched Millicent's cheek which was hot with flush, then took up his glass of champagne. "A toast to Millicent," he said, holding his glass high.
"To Millicent," they all replied and took small sips of their wine.
Eliot turned back to Millicent and silently mouthed the words, "thank you my darling."
"When?" asked Tom.
Both Louisa and Mr. Chase gave him a sharp look but Millicent appeared to take no notice. "Late August, I think," she replied sweetly. "Certainly not before."
Suddenly everyone was talking at once and the rest of the evening was spent congratulating both Millicent and Eliot and expressing concerns and hopes over the sex of the child.
Later that night, snug in bed and held in the warmth of Luke's arms, J.J. whispered, "Did you see how happy he looked? Eliot, I mean. Like this is all in the world he's ever wanted. Do you think he'll be good as a father?"
"Sure he will, J.J." Luke stretched and ran his hands lightly over J.J.'s belly, seeking to stop this conversation. He had no stomach for talk about fathers and fatherhood.
Suddenly J.J. pulled away from him and rolled to the side of the bed. There was the distinct sound of Tom's door and both of them held their breath until they heard the faint squeak of the second tread on the stairs. Then Luke scooted across the bed and gathered J.J. back into his arms.
"Must be having a party over to Miss Calb's place," Luke said, kissing J.J. on the ear.
J.J. shivered from Luke's attentions. "Be gone all night, I expect."
The subject of Eliot's fatherhood was easily forgotten.
To be continued.
Comments, suggestions or criticisms always appreciated and always answered.