Never Tear Us Apart
by Jackie Pena

Part Three

Chapter 10

Morgan was busy dusting the items in the shop when a gentleman entered. Morgan greeted him. "Good morning Sir, may I help you?"

"Are you Miss Morgan O'Connor?" He asked

Morgan was surprised at the man's question. "Yes Sir, how may I help you?"

"This is for you Miss, have a good day." He handed her an envelope and tipped his hat before he left.

She opened the envelope and read the enclosed invitation.

"You are cordially invited to a holiday ball compliments of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Carrington of 12 Marble Arch Friday 20 December seven o'clock in the evening. A carriage has been arranged for you convenience."

Morgan became wide-eyed and pale after reading the invitation.

"Morgan, what is the matter dear child?" Asked a concerned Mr. Cummings. "You look like you've seen a ghost!"

"I've been invited to a ball at the Carringtons."

"Oh splendid child!" He said.

"No it's not." She said sounding upset. "I've nothing proper to wear. These are people of society Mr. Cummings, if I go wearing the rags that I own, I'll be ridiculed!" She sat down in tears.

"Don't cry dear Morgan." He said trying to comfort her. "I'm sure that we can think of a solution."

He suddenly remembered something and hurried to his desk to write a note and gave it to her.

"Here dear, go to Mrs. Harris' dress shop and give her this note."

"But Mr. CummingsI, I, can't afford to buy a ball gown."

"Off you go now, you need not buy one, and not one more word!" He said.

"How can I ever repay you Sir?" She looked at him with gratitude.

"You do every day by caring for me like if you were my daughter."

Tears ran down her cheeks as she hugged her dear friend and Father figure.

"Oh Mr. Cummings, I love you as if you were my own Father."

He started to feel a lump in his throat and quickly said, "Alright now, go, go, go!"

Morgan wiped her tears and enthusiastically ran off.

Soon she arrived at the dress shop. A woman slightly older than herself, approached Morgan, snobbishly eyeing her.

"May I help you Miss? Are you here to pick up a dress for someone?" The woman asked.

"No I am here to look at your dresses."

"Uh, you are?"

"Yes."

"The dresses in the shop areone of a kind, and VERY expensive, but there is a fabric shop not too far"

Morgan at this point was fuming and at the point of tears. "Can you please get Mrs. Harris? I was sent here by Mr. Cummings." The haughty clerk sniffed as she went into the office to fetch the owner.

An elegant looking middle aged woman appeared from the back of the shop at the mention of the man's name.

"Good afternoon Miss O'Connor." She said approaching Morgan with open arms.

"Mr. Cummings sent me Ma'am, and he asked for me to give you this note." Morgan handed it to her.

Mrs. Harris read it and smiled. "Constance, please make yourself useful and bring us tea. I expect you to assist this dear young girl with anything she needs, you understand?"

Constance swallowed hard. "Yes Ma'am."

"I apologize for her behavior. Please take your time and pick out anything you like my dear." The kind woman said.

Morgan spent quite some time in the shop. There were so many gowns to choose from. Finally, there was one that caught her eye, a beautiful moss colored high-waisted empire style silk gown with short sleeves. The bodice was trimmed in cream and a sash at the waist tied in a bow at the back.

"Oh this is beautiful." She said.

"The color suits you Miss." Constance said.

"May I try it on?"

"Yes of course."

Morgan fell in love with it as soon as she tried it on.

"You will look absolutely beautiful. You will be the envy of every woman!" Mrs. Harris said.

Morgan blushed and bowed her head.

Mrs. Harris started to pinpoint the areas where she needed to make the adjustments to tailor the gown. "Ahh, perfect! The dress with ivory colored shoes and gloves will be ready by Thursday afternoon my dear."

"Oh thank you Mrs. Harris!" Morgan hugged her.

"I'm more than happy to help you, my dear."

"Ma'am may I ask you a question in private?"

"Oh yes, right this way."

They entered the tailor room.

"What is it, dear child?"

"Well if I may be so bold and ask if you fancy Mr. Cummings?"

Mrs. Harris was shocked. "Well, uh, we are very good friends."

Morgan smiled. "I hope my question did not offend you Ma'am. It's just that well both you and Mr. Cummings are wonderful people and both of you have been widowed for so long and are quite well acquainted with each other."

Mrs. Harris chuckled and changed the subject. "Now lets get this dress off before it gets wrinkled."

Morgan returned to the bookshop and found Mr. Cummings reading a newspaper.

"Back already child? Were you able to find a gown?"

Morgan smiled. "Oh yes and it is very beautiful. I cannot than you and Mrs. Harris enough."

Mr. Cummings smiled. "She is a dear and kind woman."

"I wish you would get it over with and ask her to marry you."

"Morgan!"

"Forgive me for being so bold Sir, she is as lovely a person as you are."

Mr. Cummings just shook his head in disbelief, but then chuckled at Morgan's forwardness.

Mrs. Harris helped a nervous Morgan with her hair. She parted it in the middle, and pulled it backing a cascade of ringlets.

"You look so lovely dear child." Mrs. Harris took off her choker chain with a small silver cross attached to it and put it around Morgan's neck. "Ah there, this is what was missing!"

Morgan's eyes were large as she saw the necklace around her own neck. "Thank you Ma'am. I will take care of it, I promise."

"Don't worry child, I know you will."

Morgan felt like royalty as she rose in the carriage taking her to the Carrington's ball. However was very anxious to see Archie.

Every few minutes an excited Archie peered out the front window .

Rebecca was becoming most annoyed by his agitation.

"Archie will you please sit down! You are making me nervous. She will be here don't worry."

"I want to greet her when she steps out of the carriage." He said.

"Oh Becca, leave him be. You sound like his Mother." Charles said.

Rebecca punched her husband on the arm.

The carriage made its way through the gate. As it got came closer to the house, Morgan became wide eyed as she saw its size.

The footman assisted her out of the carriage, handing her down the walk, and into Archie's open arms. He embraced her and took the lilac scent of her hair.

"You look sobeautiful Morgan. You've leave me breathless." He said.

She blushed. "Thank you, and may I say you look most handsome."

He smiled and thanked her. "Come lets go inside where its warm."

Charles and Rebecca greeted her, welcoming Morgan to their home.

"you have a very beautiful hoe. It is so impeccably decorated."

"Thank you Morgan." Rebecca said. "Would you like a tour before the rest of the guests arrive?"

"I would love that."

Rebecca smiled and put her arm around Morgan. "Come with me, Charles and Archie can stay here. They know what it looks like."

Both women giggled.

"I appreciate you showing me your home Rebecca. It is very beautiful indeed."

"It's no trouble at all. Besides, if I hadn't gotten away from those two, I think that I would have become vexed with them both!" They were both making me nervous waiting for you to appear."

"May I ask you a question?" Morgan asked.

"Yes of course."

"How long have you known Archie?"

"Since we were children?"

"You and Charles were childhood sweethearts?"

"Yes. Well, at first we were playmates really. But as we got older, we fell in love. Charles is my life, as I am his."

"Oh how romantic." Morgan said.

Rebecca chuckled. "You know, you sort of remind me of myself in a way."

"Really? How?"

"We have both fallen in love with two of the most wonderful men in all of England."

Morgan smiled.

Morgan felt out of place when she was seated at the grand dinner table with all the guests of society who were talking amongst themselves. They were speaking about people and places that she had only read of. They knew everyone and had gone everywhere. She felt like a child amongst them. Her reverie was broken by a soft squeeze on her folded hands. It was her Archie.

He whispered in her ear. "Are you alright my love?"

She whispered back. "I feel out of place. People are staring at me."

"That is because they are in awe of your striking beauty."

She blushed. He was still holding her hands.

Morgan was so relieved she knew table etiquette. It was a good thing Mr. Cummings encouraged her to read books on the subject. He always told her one does not know when might need to know and he was right.

The dancing started shortly after dinner. Morgan was mesmerised with the beauty of the grand ballroom.

"May I have the honor of dancing with you Miss O'Connor?"

"I would be delighted Mr. Kennedy."

As they danced, they felt as thought they only existed. His sapphire eyes looked into her emerald ones.

"Come with me." He said

He took her by the hand, and led her to the library away from the part. He took her in his arms for a breathtaking kiss.

"I couldn't stand it anymore. I've been wanting to kiss you all evening." He said.

She giggled. He seated her on a nearby couch. Morgan asked him to sit by her.

"There are so many beautiful women here tonight Archie. Women of wealth and poise. I am just a girl who works in a bookshop. They could offer you so much more."

Archie shook his head in disagreement. "You have offered me more than they could ever give me. You have given me your love, kindness and generosity."

"Did you not see how they were staring at me and whispering?" She said, with tears forming in her eyes.

"They are jealous. You are the most beautiful woman here."

"I'm not daft Archie." She stood up and walked towards the windows.

He stood beside her placing his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him.

"You don't know how it is Archie, to be treated like an outcast by the wealthy."

"I may not, but Becca does."

Morgan gave him a puzzling look.

"Her parents were caretakers to the Carrington family estate. She was not given a warm welcome from society at first, but now looks at her. The same people who ridiculed her, now adore her."

He gently caressed her soft cheek. "I love you with all my heart and soul Morgan."

He got down on one knee and took one of her hands.

"Morgan Kathleen O'Connor, will you do me the honor of being my wife?"

Tears rolled down Morgan's cheeks. She was speechless from shock and happiness.

"Morgan, you are making me very nervous with your silence. "He said with great worry.

"Oh Archie, yes, yes, I will be your wife!" She said half laughing and half crying.

He stood and gently wiped Morgan's tears of joy.

"I love you Archie."

He embraced her and she felt safe in his arms like as she always did.