He looked at her a moment and said, "It is good to see you, Scarlett."
She smiled wryly. "It seems you did, Rhett. What happened? It's good to see you, but it's awfully soon."
She had to admit at being curious about Rhett's relationship with his father. She knew they didn't speak, that they in fact hadn't in years but she really didn't know why. She'd heard rumors, of course, but she'd learned over the years with Rhett that there was more to him than the rumors. She had been warned countless times by Mammy and by other girls she knew that Rhett was just being nice to her to get her into his bed. At first she had thought these statements to be true and had kept her guard up. She quickly learned, however; at least that is Rhett made it seem to her that his intentions were indeed honorable. He began courting her, just like any suitor would have. Other than some rude suggestions he had made that were not precluded or followed by any rude gestures on his part, he had remained fairly respectable during the passing years.
Rhett said, "Well, to sum it up Father didn't die. I don't know how his recovery will go, but he sure didn't seem to be in too weak a state when he told me to leave again. I did get to have a nice conversation with my mother, though. She'd like to meet you. I took the liberty of booking our passage to Ireland out of Charleston."
He looked at Scarlett for a reaction. He figured she hadn't even thought of how they'd get to Ireland and when she said nothing he continued.
"I'm not getting any younger, Scarlett. Certainly you realize how old I am. I'm close to your mother's age, and I would like to make an effort toward some peace with my father. Even if it's only to show him that I did in fact get married. If he still refuses to speak to me after he sees that I have indeed taken a wife, without there being anything disrespectful about our relationship, I'm sure after all he thinks you're with child or I've done something else to tarnish your reputation. Well, if that's the case then I won't concern myself with it, or him, again. At least I'll know I tried. I have no false hopes of gaining my birthright back; I just would like to be able to return to Charleston periodically and visit my mother without disgrace. My father, as I'm sure you're aware, is the epitome of a proper southern gentleman. The fact that I'm not, and do little to hide the fact is probably the most unforgivable part of this whole thing to him. Which leads me to a question. I have a request of you, Scarlett."
He stood and offered her his arm as they descended the porch steps, waiting until they were further away from Tara to continue.
Scarlett took a step back briefly, her eyebrows raised. "I'm sorry to hear about your father, Rhett. Not that he's doing better of course, but that he still treats you so awfully. But what is it that you want to ask?"
She took his offered arm, as they walked toward the stream in silence. Scarlett was curious to know what Rhett's question was and she knew he knew it, too. She couldn't stand to be held in suspense about anything. While she didn't think he'd request anything unladylike, she had to admit she couldn't imagine what request Rhett would have to make of her.
When they had walked to one of Rhett's favorite spots at Tara, the wooded area by the creek, he turned to her and said.
"Scarlett, I'm going to ask you to extend yourself a bit, for my mother's sake. Do you think for the brief amount of time we are in Charleston you could perhaps put on some show and play the part of the happy wife? I think as long as my mother saw that, she'd be happy. I'm not asking a lot of you here, Scarlett. Just pretend you dote on my every word and act like the dutiful wife I know your mother taught you how to be. You'll more than likely never see her again, so it would just be this once. It would mean a lot to me, so Mother can quit worrying. Surely you can understand my reason for requesting such a thing."
Scarlett leaned back against a nearby tree gently, making her voice higher as she smiled. "Dote on your every word? A dutiful wife? Why, Rhett," she leaned in closer to him, grazing her fingernail over his shoulder. "Fiddle-dee-dee, a happy woman? Happy marriage? I'm doting on your every word now," she purred. She leaned back against the tree. "Is that what you want, Rhett? Is it?"
Rhett eyed Scarlett curiously before he responded.
"If you're asking me if I want a happy marriage, yes. Of course I want that. As best as Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler can do in that area anyway. Somehow I think our version of happiness and that of others differs to some degree." He smiled. "If I didn't want to at least try at making ours one, I wouldn't be marrying you. I expect the same goes for you, Scarlett, whether you like to admit it or not. You're not the type to just marry someone because it's time to get married. As far as the doting on my every word part. No, I've never required that of you before, and I won't again. It's just for my mother. Surely you can understand that, Scarlett. I've made my request, now I will just wait and see what your decision is when the time comes. Because I don't want to talk about it anymore." Rhett raised his eyebrows slightly as he leaned toward Scarlett, who had leaned back against the tree as he spoke. He took her into his arms and whispered, "I missed you, Scarlett." He wrapped his arms around her as he brought her body against his, bringing his lips to hers for an impassioned kiss. He had never lowered his defenses like this with her until now, allowing himself to kiss her like that. Even though she realized he wasn't a gentleman, he up until that moment had kept his actions pure and good and within the standards a lady expected.
Scarlett turned her head away, as she pushed him away. She turned her face to his, narrowing her eyes slightly. "If you don't want to talk about it any more, Rhett, fine, then let me go. Save your requests perhaps you'll find an easier way to ask them later, and perhaps I'll find time to reply."
Inwardly, Scarlett was seething. Surprisingly, her anger was directed at herself rather than toward Rhett. Her heart rate was increasing, and she was sure her cheeks were flushed. Never in all her years had she been kissed like that. Never before had she longed to give in and respond to someone's kiss. She was angry with herself, never mind that they were getting married the next day. She shouldn't be allowing herself to think like that, she never saw her mother respond to her father's kisses. Not like Scarlett had wanted to at that moment anyway. She realized she was standing there with her fists clenched, her innate response to Rhett's kiss being pushed to the back of her mind.
As Scarlett turned on her heels, Rhett grabbed her arm turning her to face him.
"Not so fast, Scarlett. I've done nothing but act like a respectable gentleman toward you. Do you realize that since we've become engaged I've remained true to you."
He noticed she narrowed her eyes at him again suspiciously.
"That's right, Scarlett, I speak the truth. I won't deny I've been tempted, but it's gone no further than temptation. Even my visits with Miss Watling have remained platonic."
He pulled her to him, dropping his hands to her waist right above her hips. "I'm not letting you walk away from me this time. No one can see you from here, Scarlett. Mammy's not around the tree watching."
He brought his lips inches from hers and whispered passionately. "Kiss me, Scarlett. Give into what that heart of yours is telling you." He removed one of his hands from her hip and pointed to where her heart was with his index finger then dropped it back to its place at her hip. "You can't lie to me and tell me my kiss did nothing to you, because it did something even to me."
He brought his lips even closer.
"Kiss me, you might like it. Let go for one minute of your life, give into me."
He kissed her again, more demanding than the first one had been as he felt her response, giving in to the moment. Her arms inching around his neck.
He felt it as her arms gave way, dropping from around his neck. He was shocked when she pushed him away violently. "Nothing but respectable, Rhett? Dreams, dreams."
She turned around, and smiled cruelly.
"We'll see what is respectable. You're a cad, Rhett Butler. You're low down and dirty, I don't know why I ever agreed to marry you."
She slapped his face and walked away.
Rhett watched as Scarlett stormed off; he laughed to himself quietly. She had kissed him back albeit briefly, but it was a start. He had felt her arms go around him. That was at least a step in the right direction. He walked back toward the house and found her sitting on the steps of the porch her skirt set properly about her so that her feet were covered. He rested his elbow on the railing and spoke, noticing she was avoiding his gaze.
"Well, I hope that was as pleasurable an experience for you as it was for me, my dear." He smirked sarcastically. "Well then assuming the punishment for my apparently most unwelcomed behavior is not the cancellation of our nuptials I suppose the next time I see you will be tomorrow as you walk down the aisle. I suppose now may or may not be an appropriate time to mention the fact, that after tomorrow I don't expect my kisses to be returned with a slap. While I've never forced a lady to do anything they didn't want to do, I will certainly expect my wife to return my kisses."
He picked his hat up from the porch as Scarlett clenched her teeth and stood.
"Good riddance," she muttered softly. "I certainly hope that you did get some pleasure out of it," she said, narrowing her eyes. "Goodbye," she said, walking into Tara.
She closed the front door behind her, bringing her hands to her chest. Her heart was still beating so quickly from his kisses. She thought for sure that he could hear it if he stood too close which was the reason that she had kept her distance from him. Her thoughts strayed to Ashley, but oddly instead of Ashley's face she pictured Rhett's instead. She shook her head, thinking to herself that had never happened before.
Rhett laughed as she walked up the stairs and made an overly gallant bow as he placed his hat on his head.
"Pleasant dreams, Miss O'Hara."
Rhett watched as she slammed the door to Tara and then made his departure for Atlanta, where he spent the rest of his evening drinking his sorrows away. He avoided Belle's intentionally; knowing that was the last place he needed to go to tonight. He had meant what he said to Scarlett, he couldn't remember being affected by a kiss like he had been when he kissed her. He woke the next morning with a raging headache, certain he had overslept. He looked at his pocket watch and was amazed he had plenty of time before the wedding.
As Rhett finished dressing he went downstairs where Ashley, Jeff, and Nicholas were dressed and ready to head to Tara. The only thing he had left to do was put his jacket, which he would wait until the last minute to put it on not wanting it to get wrinkled. The hotel staff was attending to the three men perfectly, tending to their every need. One nice thing about having charm, good looks and money, one of the three always got you somewhere but the three combined worked wonders together.
Rhett entered the room. "Well, gentlemen, I'd say for rogues such as ourselves we clean up fairly nicely. Wouldn't you?" He laughed as he straightened out his waistcoat. "I was told the coach has arrived." He gave Nicholas Scarlett's wedding ring and said, "I suppose we should be on our way, gentlemen."
They were soon underway to Tara and the coach brought them to the rear of the house, where the four of them exited and were shown to a room in the back of the house by Pork. One of the servants helped the men put their boutonnieres on, which consisted of a white rose, a red rose, a pink rose and a sprig of juniper. Rhett put his jacket on followed by his boutonniere, which was two white camellias, a red rose and a sprig of pine. He adjusted his black cuff links, sat for a moment, and immediately stood again.
"Anyone have a remedy for this?" He gave a halfhearted smile. "This is going to be a long day. Nicholas, I gave you the ring?"
Nicholas nodded as Ashley stood.
"Well, being that I'm the only one in this group who is married, I suppose I should provide you with all sorts of wedding anecdotes. But, I won't bore you with such stories. Mr. Butler, Rhett," Rhett was surprised at the informal way Ashley addressed him, but it was appropriate. Ashley continued, "I think I speak the truth, and being one of Scarlett's oldest and dearest friends I think I should know her well enough to know, when I say that you and Scarlett will make one another happy. It seems you both have a different slant on happiness than the rest of us do, but that's all right and perhaps that's why you two have found one another. I remember the day I married I was a nervous wreck. It's natural, and if you weren't nervous I wouldn't think you human. It shouldn't be too much longer and someone will come to take us outside. Just remember, Rhett, all eyes will be focused on you just as much as Scarlett today, but for different reasons. That's not normally the case at a wedding, the groom very rarely gets attention, but a union between the two of you has caused some ... speculation." Ashley turned his attention to the window unwilling to continue.
As Nicholas and Jeff were figuring out the going ons of the afternoon and perhaps trying to get a glimpse of Scarlett and her attendants, Rhett went to Ashley who stood by the window. Rhett placed a hand on Ashley's shoulder and extended the other for a handshake. "Ashley, under the circumstances I hope you can appreciate my saying this. You're a good man. I can certainly see what it is Scarlett has admired in you all these years." There was a feeling of something unspoken as if there was something more Rhett should have said, but he didn't. It didn't need to be said. "I suppose, though, we should find Jeff and Nicholas and get ourselves ready to go outside."
Rhett sent Pork to find the other two, when they were found and had returned, Rhett straightened his boutonniere and said, "Well, gentlemen, I suppose this is as good a time as any for me to go seal my fate."
He laughed as he followed the other three out the door, out of Tara and to the area where the wedding was to take place. Rhett was admittedly surprised at the turn out; it didn't look like there was anyone missing. All of Atlanta was in attendance it seemed to witness in person the union of a lady like Scarlett O'Hara to an unreceived, blockade running, ungentlemanly Rhett Butler. He even noticed a few of his acquaintances from Charleston had come down for the occasion. He glanced over the guests, despite his best efforts at stifling the thought he couldn't help but wonder if his father had come. He didn't see him or his mother if they had come. Rhett noticed Charles and Meredith and nodded slightly in their direction with a smile as he stood and awaited the processional to begin. Rhett stood at the end of the hunter green carpet awaiting Scarlett's appearance. His black tuxedo with tails was perfectly tailored and suited him well. His hunter green waistcoat matched the bride's runner. He donned a black cravat and white gloves as well. He wore a smile, albeit a nervous one as he looked to Nicholas, Jeff, and Ashley who stood to his left. He adjusted his jacket once more as the guests rose signaling Scarlett's entrance after her attendants had taken their places to his right.
Rhett unconsciously inhaled as he looked over at the three ladies to his right, then to the three men to his left. The girls looked beautiful, the men handsome. It was a wedding of perfection so far. Why did the guests have to stand, he thought to himself. It seemed as though an eternity passed before he actually caught a glimpse of her, and then he saw her walking towards him on Gerald's arm. He was sure his face exhibited every emotion that ran through his mind at that moment.
As good as he was at hiding his true thoughts, this was one time he was certain he was unsuccessful. She was beautiful beyond words. Her gown was made of dainty French silk; silk roses lined the neckline and shoulders. The train was long, trailing the ground, roses following the outline to the floor. It was cut down several inches below her neck, following her curves gently, moving into her tiny waist, reducing it to nothing, and then flowing to the floor in a long sweep. Bows entwined with smaller roses cascaded down one side of her gown. Her hair was held back with a heavy silver ornament that had been part of her family for generations. The elegant hairpiece that Gerald had given her the day before rested atop her shining tresses and the veil connected, flowing down her back.
As Gerald and Scarlett stopped at the end of the carpet runner, Gerald was standing between Rhett and Scarlett. When asked by the priest, Gerald announced he was indeed the one giving Scarlett away. Gerald briefly lifted Scarlett's veil to give her a kiss on the cheek. He lowered her veil, removed her arm from his and placed it on Rhett's. He stepped back, avoiding Scarlett's train as he took his seat next to Ellen.
Rhett stood admiring her; the priest seemed to be allowing him this time to take her in. Her dress, every last detail was perfection. He was glad he didn't have to speak at that moment, for he was once in his life speechless. He couldn't remember anyone looking more beautiful than she did at that moment. He looked to Ellen and then to Gerald, who had pride written all over his face. Rhett finally smiled and they both turned to face the priest.
Scarlett stood in front of the priest; her arm linked with Rhett's a smile wavering on her face as the sermon began.
Finally the priest turned to Rhett. "Do you, Rhett Kincade Butler, take Katie Scarlett O'Hara to be your lawfully wedded wife?" Rhett looked into Scarlett's eyes as the priest spoke the words raising his eyebrows slightly. "I do."
The priest then focused his attention on Scarlett. "And do you Katie Scarlett O'Hara take Rhett Kincade Butler to be your lawfully wedded husband?" Scarlett nodded slightly, looking directly at Rhett. "Yes, I do." She inhaled sharply at the words and bit her lip gently.
They exchanged rings; Scarlett leaned back slightly and looked up at Rhett. He had her hand in his, looking down at their rings. The priest announced them husband and wife and told Rhett he could kiss the bride. Rhett lifted her veil, his hands getting caught briefly as he tried to place it behind her. He laughed, slightly amused, revealing her to him for the first time as his wife. He looked at her a moment, trying to recall whether or not he had ever seen a more beautiful or perfect face. He doubted it as he kissed her briefly. The priest told them to turn and face the guests as he introduced them to the guests as Mr. & Mrs. Rhett K. Butler.
He whispered to her softly, "It appears we have successfully shocked the masses, Miss O'Hara." Rhett was perfectly aware of which name he had used. No matter how much time passed with her as his wife she would always be Scarlett O'Hara, at least in his eyes.
He smiled as they began their walk down the aisle as Scarlett smiled and spoke, "I wish I could be Scarlett O'Hara, Rhett." She continued smiling at the smiling crowd as they proceeded down the aisle, which had been previously strewn with white rose petals. They stepped into the white coach, which was being led by two stunning pure black horses that took them on a brief ride through the grounds of Tara before returning to the front of the residence. The coach stopped and Rhett stepped out, turning to help Scarlett out as she held onto her train. He placed his arm around loosely around her waist as they made their way into Tara.
She looked at Rhett, and smiled, for the first true time since long before she had walked down the aisle. They walked arm in arm through the doors. "Well, that went well." Scarlett quipped as they joined Gerald and Ellen to form the receiving line.
Rhett replied, "I'd say it went incredibly well, I'm sure to the disappointment of more than a few of the gentlemen that were on today's guest list. But their loss is my gain. And I can assure you I'm more than pleased with that which I've gained." He kissed her cheek as they took their place in the receiving line. To Rhett's left was Ellen, to his right were Scarlett and Gerald to her right. Rhett was not looking forward to this part of the wedding ritual. With the exception of a handful of people, there was really no one here he cared to be congratulated by. Little did they know, he had done nothing to win Scarlett's affections. Scarlett of her own accord had accepted his proposal, which much to his amazement led him to where he was today. As the guests started to make their way to the ballroom, Rhett said to Scarlett, "I don't believe I have yet had the privilege of telling you what a beautiful bride you are. As if you needed to prove your point to further steal my heart." He smiled as Scarlett rolled her eyes and began greeting her guests.
"Of course, Rhett. But you needn't talk, hoping it will get you somewhere any more, because it already got you there." She smiled as people moved down the line. As the guests had all arrived, Rhett and Scarlett made their entrance just as dinner was being served. They took their places, Rhett holding Scarlett's chair for her and pushing it in after she had been seated. Nicholas made a toast to the couple and soon enough the meal was over and it was time for their first dance as husband and wife.
As Scarlett's attendants finished bustling her train, the orchestra began Strauss' On the Beautiful Blue Danube. Rhett offered his hand to Scarlett, and while leading her to the dance floor said, "I do hope you'll grant me more than one dance tonight, Scarlett." He smiled and said, "I should hope I deserve at least two."
Scarlett laughed with a smile and said, "Perhaps two, if you're nice," Scarlett said sweetly. She took his hand, and smiled. "But perhaps only one if you decide to act nasty, Rhett." Scarlett was surprised at herself. She knew of course she would enjoy the wedding, she loved being the center of attention and what better occasion was there to be the center of attention than your own wedding.
Other than your funeral, of course, but you would be dead for that!
But it wasn't just the attention she was enjoying, she realized. For once in her life she had something that no one else had. She didn't have to share Rhett with Suellen or Carreen. She wasn't a fool, of course she knew there had been women before her, but that was different. Other than that Belle, there were no faces to go with them. For all Scarlett knew, Rhett's reputation far exceeded anything he had actually done. Deep down, she knew that wasn't true but Rhett hadn't married any of those women. He married her.
She looked into his eyes as they danced, realizing he really cared for her. She realized that she cared for him, too. It wasn't love; she would only ever love Ashley. She had told Rhett before she was fond of him and that was the truth. The fact that since Rhett had proposed to her, thoughts of Ashley had been entering her mind less and less never occurred to Scarlett.
Rhett mused, "I'm never nasty, Scarlett. Unless of course, you were to request it of me." He laughed as they danced, enjoying being able to hold her close to him for the first time in all the years he had known her. "I'd like to do nothing better than to spend the rest of my life bringing you to new places to dance. New cities, new countries, new planets if I could do that. You were meant to dance, Scarlett, and I plan to do whatever I can in my power to see to it that your dances don't stop simply because you're married. Would you like that?"
Scarlett replied smartly, "Rhett, you don't have to be mean. After all, anything you do now, I don't have to just accept." She smiled at him, narrowing her green eyes as she contemplated his suggestion. He knew just what to say, she thought.
Scarlett loved to dance, and he knew it. Of course, Rhett knew just about everything Scarlett loved. She was beginning to realize that now. "And yes, I would like that, Rhett. Very much." Oh how she wished what he said were actually possible. To be able to dance without giving it a second thought. To be able to have a good time as she did before she were married. To never have to stop acting like the belle of the county. Somehow she knew if it were possible, Rhett could give it to her.
He looked at her a moment trying to read her eyes and continued, "Then it shall be done, my dear. Starting with our honeymoon. Ireland, England, and wherever else we go. You shall learn to dance as they do. You might come home and teach your father a dance or two he himself hasn't learned. Certainly, in my eyes anyway, being the belle of the ball doesn't have to end because you're married. So long as I get the last dance of the evening you can dance with every man in the room for all I care. I've never understood why men are so possessive about that. I take it as a compliment that someone wants to dance with you, but for some reason they think because you've got a ring on your finger your life has to end. Ridiculous." He paused looking at her, and said, "Forgive my outburst, Scarlett."
He enjoyed the feel of their dancing together as the song ended, Rhett bowed slightly out of sheer habit, laughing at himself as he realized what he had done as Scarlett laughed. The rest of the evening passed in slow motion. Rhett danced with as many of the unescorted ladies as he could. Scarlett was much better at tending to their guests, though Rhett did try and visit each table and address them as a group. Most of these people weren't here to wish them well, though some were. Most were just there to see if it would actually happen, the girl who could have chosen any man she had wanted marrying an unreceived, disinherited Charlestonian. Rhett was perfectly aware of this and every comment he made was dripping with charm and grace. As the time came for Rhett and Scarlett to make their departure from Tara, Rhett sent for the coach he had rented for the occasion. They said their good-byes to Scarlett's parents and the remaining guests and left Tara.
Rhett once again helped Scarlett into the white coach, ensuring her dress did not get caught. As they made their way to Belle Fleur, little was said with Rhett remaining as distant as the close quarters of a coach would allow him to be. He was sure Scarlett was somewhat nervous about what the night held in store for her and left her be knowing no words he spoke would help the situation. He hoped there was some excitement mixed in with that nervousness. He couldn't help but wonder how it actually came about that she had married him, but here they were on their way to Belle Fleur as husband and wife. They arrived at Belle Fleur, where the coachman let them out. Rhett placed his arm about Scarlett's waist, fidgeting with her bustled train wordlessly as they entered the residence. There were a few candles illuminating the hallway that led to their quarters for the night, but the house was primarily dark and quiet as they ascended the stairs to their room. As they made their way up the stairway to their quarters, the hallway was sprinkled with white and red rose and camellia petals. He opened the door to their suite and took in the site before them.
The staff had truly outdone themselves. The oval Louis XIV room with its royal blue wallpaper with the silver Fleur de Lis patter on it was awaiting them in all its splendor. The bed was a Fleur de Lis four poster with two streams of fabric running from the posts at the front to the posts at the end and puddled elegantly on the floor in the same Fleur de Lis pattern as the walls. There was a mahogany fireplace mantle elegantly carved and mahogany tables and dressers were all made especially for the room's oval walls. Candles were everywhere throughout the room and ivy garlands with camellias tucked into them were wrapped around the bedposts. The floor and the bed were covered with red and white rose petals and red, white, and pink roses were in vases about the room interspersed with the candles. Rhett actually found himself at a loss of what to do next. It was obvious Scarlett was as impressed with the surroundings as he was. He took her into his arms suddenly and she let out a slight cry of surprise. "Well, Mrs. Butler, your bridal chamber awaits."
He carried her into the room, shutting the door with his foot. One of her slippers falling to the floor was the only sound audible at that moment. He chuckled lightly at the site of her bare foot and raised his eyebrow slightly. To think a few short hours ago it was considered inappropriate for him to see her bare foot and that such an occurrence would have caused a scandal. It was obvious the same thought had crossed her mind by the look in her eye. He kissed her softly and carried her to the bed where he set her down gently. He saw the look of apprehension in her eyes as he sat down next to her and placed his hand on her thigh, enjoying the closeness of her in what was for that night their bed.
He listened to her breathe without a word, watching her closely. It was obvious she was nervous, he wondered what she would have said if he confessed to being nervous as well. No matter how many times he might have taken a woman to bed it wasn't every day a man bedded his wife for the first time. He would have been content going to sleep with her right there, clothes and all. It was just so calming to have her next to him. His, in as much as she would ever be his. He knew, however, that in her own way even Scarlett would be disappointed if he were to just go to sleep. No woman would dare say she expected it, but it was certainly an unspoken given on your wedding night. He tried to wordlessly reassure her with his light and tender touches as he outlined her dress, trying to put her at ease. After a few minutes he stood to remove his shoes and walked to one of the dressers. He removed a long white; elegant silk nightgown with roses inlaid in the fabric. It had a delicate lace collar with green satin ribbon through the lace, which fastened the collar shut. It had a fitted waist and cuffs, once again with the green ribbon through the lace edges of the cuffs and along the hem. He returned to the bed and presented her with the nightgown.
He observed her eyes grow wide at the sight of the nightgown. He sat on the bed and spoke softly, "The first of many personal gifts I'm now allowed to shower upon you. I think you'll find you'll enjoy marriage from that aspect. You can now accept my gifts without a second thought. But just remember, Scarlett, I don't give gifts without expecting something in return." He laughed, hoping to make the situation lighter. "Do you want me to send for someone to help you undress? I'm sure I could find someone if you'd rather that than allow me the privilege and pleasure of undressing my wife."
He stood and apprehensively removed his cuff links and began to unfasten his tie as Scarlett shrugged and turned around. She sat down on a stiff chair, her arm resting across the back of it. Rhett was conscious of Scarlett's gaze while he removed his cravat and unfastened a few buttons on his shirt. He knelt in front of Scarlett, and placed one hand on her arm, stroking it gently. He enjoyed the feel of her wedding dress under his touch. His other arm rested on her knee as he moved up to kiss her briefly. He pulled away and spoke softly, "Scarlett, I'm not going to force you to let me undress you. I think you know that. If you'd rather have someone do it for you, I will get someone here to do it. As much as I'd like to, I'm unable to read your mind on all of this."
He took her free hand and placed it on his chest, enjoying the feel of her hand for the first time touching his bare skin. He removed her hand as he sensed she was going to pull it away slowly and kissed her fingertips, his breathing heightened. Scarlett stood from the chair, removing her hand from his grasp and turned her back to him, lifting the hair from her neck.
Rhett gently and somewhat nervously unbuttoned Scarlett's dress, wrapping his arms around her and kissing the nape of her neck and shoulders as her dress fell to the floor. He removed the hairpieces she adorned and the hairpins holding her hair up. He took his time, enjoying the feel of her hair. When finished, he turned her toward him once again taking her into his arms, carrying her to the bed. Rhett watched Scarlett as he placed her gently on the bed, obviously not certain what to expect. Her hair was down now, which he had never seen before. It gave her a sultry look he hadn't noticed before, or perhaps he just chose to ignore it until now.
He had always found her beautiful, but the rules of courtship for a man and a southern belle were very strict so he never truly allowed himself to think of her in this way until now. He stood slowly, noticing from the pattern in which her chest rose and fell that her heart rate had increased. He extinguished all the candles with the exception of one candelabrum that he brought with him as he sat next to Scarlett on the bed.
"You look beautiful, Scarlett. Of course I may be biased in my opinion, but a more beautiful bride I dare say couldn't possibly exist. Both earlier and now. You take my breath away." He touched the hair that was fanned about her on her pillow. From her hair, he caressed her cheek gently with the back of his hand, his fingertips trailing lightly behind. He kissed her gently on the mouth, perhaps more tenderly than he had ever kissed anyone. As he broke the kiss, he watched her making sure she was all right. As much as the thought of taking her there and then entered his mind, he had never waited this long for a woman before after all; yet, he couldn't bring himself to do that. He wasn't a thoughtless or clumsy lover, he had always prided himself on his bedside manner, and this was his wife. He wanted to give her the opportunity to receive some enjoyment. He kissed her softly again, moving his lips to her chin and then her neck. His hands gently moved aside the fabric of her underclothes as he kissed her shoulders.
He looked up at her, wanting to make sure she was all right. He was pleased to see her eyes were closed and as she said nothing he resumed his attentions to her neck and shoulders as she arched her head back slightly. He gently moved her chestnut brown tresses out of his way and allowed his hand to briefly caress her body. He effortlessly pulled the blanket that covered her down to expose her covered breasts. He removed her underclothes, tossing them on the floor and moved his attentions to her bare breasts.
Despite any attempt at feigning disinterest, her body's reactions to his kisses told him different. After what seemed to him, and perhaps to Scarlett as well, like an eternity of his gentle kisses and caresses, Rhett removed his shirt, stood slowly from the bed, and blew out the candles. Other than the moon shining through their window, it was dark.
"Dear God," he whispered almost to himself as he admired her in the dark. He lay down next to her and though his kisses and touch were more insistent, the gentleness did not diminish. He pulled the bed's blanket around them and said, "You are worth the wait, Scarlett."
He brought her hand to his chest. As much as he knew he was expected to do all the work, he still wanted to feel her touch against his bare skin. Her delicate fingers caressing him.
"Touch me, Scarlett."
As he moved on top of her, he kissed her again and asked if she was all right. She nodded her head, but said nothing. He once again caressed her shoulders while he kissed her breasts and was soon inside of her. He could see that Scarlett was trying to hide her pain. It had been so long since he had been with a woman with no prior experience he had to truly concentrate on being gentle. His mouth found hers and he kissed her briefly, nibbling on her upper lip gently and making his way down her neck and shoulders to her ears back to her shoulders and finally once again to her exposed breasts. As he circled her nipples with his mouth, Scarlett let out a sound of enjoyment so Rhett continued. Soon, he knew he could not last any longer and pressed his body against hers tightly, taking her into his arms. "Put your arms around me, Scarlett. It's okay," he whispered softly in her ear. He was pleased that she did, though somewhat apprehensively.
After he had finished, he remained on top of her, kissing the small beads of perspiration from Scarlett's shoulders, neck and face. He tried to think of something to say. Thank you came to mind but he knew that wasn't an appropriate thing to say to his wife. Instead he substituted words with several more kisses and continued to gently caress her unclothed body. He couldn't help but enjoy looking at her lying naked underneath him on the bed they were going to be sharing for the night. It was obvious she was embarrassed at the attention he was giving her. More than likely she had been raised that what had just transpired between them was an unpleasant duty that she must grin and bear. He tried to make sure his touch and kisses reflected his appreciation, hoping that with time she would allow herself to enjoy it as much as he did. He knew she would if she let herself. He moved so he was lying next to her on his side, his arm resting over her bare stomach. He watched the silhouette of her naked body basking in the moonlight as her breathing returned to normal and soon after turned into a sleeping rate. He lay next to her, enjoying being able to touch her freely and soon drifted off to sleep himself. He couldn't help but enjoy the feeling from just holding Scarlett in his arms for the first time, and he hoped for what would only be the first time of many.
Story ©Susan Falk/APCKRFAN/PhantomRoses.com