Never Tear Us Apart
by Jackie Pena
During the night, Morgan checked Archie periodically to make sure he was still sleeping comfortable. Every movement he made brought her to his side. A good nights sleep was of no importance to her. Toward dawn she finally managed to relax, thinking that he would sleep peacefully til morning.
The next morning, a pale and drawn Morgan woke to the sound of a paperboy in the street selling newspapers to the passerbys.Careful not to disturb Archie, who was at last sleeping soundly, Morgan quietly washed and dressed before heading to the kitchen to prepare breakfast.
Archie woke to the aroma of food cooking. As the food was cooking, she noticed that he was awake and was heartened by the smile that appeared on his face when he saw her.
"Good morning Archie, how are you feeling?"
He weakly grinned at her. "Stiff and very sore I'm afraid."
Morgan gave him a sympathetic look. "I'm not surprised. The Doctor said you feel like that for a long time."
Archie inhaled deeply. "Mmm, what smells so heavenly?"
She giggled. "Tis just oatmeal, bacon, toast, orange marmalade, and coffee. I wish there were something more appealing to offer you to eat."
"More appealing?" Oatmeal is one of my favorite breakfast meals."
Morgan giggled a bit. "I am glad to hear it though I really don't believe you!"
There was a knock on the front door. Morgan excused herself to see who it was.
Opening the door, she was happy and relieved to see her old friend standing before her. "Good morning Mr. Cummings, please come in Sir."
"Same to your dear child. How is the young lad?"
He is still in some pain the poor thing. Would you mind keeping him company while I finish preparing breakfast?"
"Would you like something to eat Sir?"
"I just wanted to tell him that I've sent word word to his friends."
"Thank you Mr. Cummings. That was so kind of you to do so. I am sure his friends were quite worried."
Morgan finished preparing breakfast, she again invited Mr. Cummings to stay, but he politely declined.
"Thank you no, I've already eaten, kind of you to ask, though. Oh and by the way, do not worry about coming to the shop,the lad needs someone to take care of him."
Morgan cracked a smile. "Yes Sir, but if you need me."
Mr. Cummings interrupted. "Yes I know, but I'd rather you take care of young Mr. Kennedy."
Morgan saw Mr. Cummings out and proceeded to make up a breakfast tray for Archie.
She entered his room with the tray in hand smiling. "I hope your are hungry." She said, placing the tray on the nightstand to carefully help Archie sit up and then place the tray on his lap.
"Everything looks and smells wonderful Morgan."
"Thank you Archie."
Morgan fed his a spoonful of oatmeal. "Mmm, I've never tasted oatmeal so delicious. You must tell me your secret."
Archie finished his meal. He had enjoyed every bit of it and it was good simply to have an appetite again. His thoughts were interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Excuse me Archie while I see who it is."
She opened the door, and there stood a distinguished looking man. He was not someone she recognised.
"Good morning Sir, may I help you?"
"Good morning Miss." He bowed. "My name is Charles Carrington. I received a not from a Mr. Cummings regarding my friend Mr. Kennedy."
She curtsied. "I am Morgan O'Connor. Please do come in Sir."
Charles quickly looked at the surroundings. The home was obviously owned by a person of limited means, but it was clean, and well kept.
Morgan led him to Archie's room.
"Archie, you have a visitor." She announced.
Charles peeked into the room.
"So here is where you've been hiding!" Charles jokingly said.
"Anything to stay away from you." Archie said. He chuckled a bit and attempting to sit up a bit more, made him wince in pain."
"Take it easy there old man." Charles said.
"Are you alright Archie?" Morgan gently put her hand on his injured side.
"Yes I am fine thank you." No one believed what he said, but they were tactful enough to not say anything.
"Would you car for tea and cakes Mr. Carrington?"
Yes thank you, very kind of you to offer Miss."
"Very well. I will bring you some also Archie."
"Morgan makes the most delicious cakes Charles."
Morgan blushed and quickly left the room.
Charles sat down in a chair by Archie's bed.
"Archie I did not know you have a soft spot for common girls."
Archie knitted his brow. "What do you mean?"
"She is not a lady of society Archie, and your family is titled."
Archie became angry. His face settling into the hard lines that meant he was offended. "I can't believe what you just said. You of all people. Becca was not a lady of society when you came under her charms. She was the daughter of the caretakers to your family's estate."
Charles took a deep breath. Knowing he had over stepped the mark, he was quick to apologise. "Forgive me my friend. I didn't mean for my words to sound the way the did."
Morgan walked in with the tea service and cakes. She served both men and pulled a chair across from Charles to help Archie drink and eat his cake.
Charles took a bit of his cake. "Mmm, Archie is right Miss O'Connor, this is delicious!"
"Thank you Sir." She somehow sensed that he was appraising her and finding her wanting, but she could only surmise what his true thoughts were.
Charles and Archie entertained Morgan with stories form their childhood.
"You should have seen Archie, trying to hide evidence from his eating the cake the family cook made for a dinner party. He forgot he had traces of it all over his face!"
Morgan covered her mouth to hide her giggling. "And what append?"
"Well, he apologized to both my Mother and Father, still with cake on his face. They were upset, but quickly got over it and had a good laugh themselves. They never could stay angry with this one for long!"
"You put it up to me Charles!"
"I did not! I only suggested we both taste a bit of the icing, not half the cake!"
"You both must have been quite a handful as children." Morgan said.
"We still are!" Charles said.
They all laughed.
Archie held his side form the pain of laughing a bit too hard. Morgan immediately came to his aid, soothing him and helping to rest.
Charles noticed the great care Morgan took with Archie. She doted on him constantly without him even needing or asking for anything.
Charles looked at this pocket watch. "I lost track of time. Forgive me, but I must be off. I will have the coachman bring you clean clothes, and a shaving razor."
Morgan saw him out. "It was a pleasure meeting you Miss O'Connor, thank you for tea and most important, for taking care of Archie."
"Likewise Sir. You are most welcome to come here anytime and your wife also."
He tipped his hat before he left.
Charles is relieved to know that his friend is in good hands and why Archie has fallen for her. As he left he thought to himself that he was pleased to know that Archie was in such good hands and smiled to himself as he acknowledged that the young lady seemed quite in love with his friend.
A week passed, and Archie's recovery was coming along nicely.
Earlier that morning,with great care, Mr. Cummings helped Archie into the bathtub. After a week he really needed a good long soak. Once he was in the tub, Mr. Cummings gave him privacy to bathe. When the Leftenant finished, Archie was so relieved to feel clean and refreshed again.
When he finally settled in bed, Morgan entered the room offering to shave Archie since she knew Mr. Cummings was late in opening the book shop on time, something he hated. Being punctual in his business dealings was something he always prided himself on.
"There." She said. "All finished. How does it feel? Is it a close enough shave?" She asked with uncertainty. She hadn't shaved any men in her life and the thought of holding the sharp razor so close to his throat frightened her.
Archie checked his freshly shaved face. "I could not have done better, a fine job thank you Morgan it is smoother than a babe's bottom."
Morgan giggled in relief. "I was so afraid with the blade being so sharp and all. I've never shaved a man before, nor have watched one shaving."
"I guess you have natural talent." Archie said and grinned at her.
Morgan smiled and found herself mesmerized by the sapphire blue of his his looking into her own. Finally breaking off she asked, "Archie would you be alright if I go to the butcher? I need to buy a few things."
"Yes of course Morgan. Please be careful. I wish I were well enough to accompany you."
"I will be. I shan't be long."
He smiled at her admiring her striking beauty. "Take your time."
While Morgan was gone, Archie took advantage of the quiet to take a nap. He dreamt he was holding Morgan in his arms&NBS;nuzzling her neck, and taking in the scent of her hair.
Archie was talking in his sleep. "Morgan, Morgan, I want to hold you forever in my arms, Morgan..." Calling her name softly.
Morgan walked into the room hearing Archie call her name with having any knowledge of his dreaming about her. "Yes Archie?"
He opened his eyes, blushing as he saw her standing before him, knowing that she must have heard him calling her name. "Oh I must have dozed off."
She smiled. "Well it's good you had more sleep. You needed a well deserved rest after moving around a bit during your bath earlier. Oh, I stopped by the book shop, and Mr. Cummings sent you these books to read." She placed them on the nightstand by his bed. "I was afraid that you'd be bored here by yourself with nothing to do but sleep."
"I must thank him next time."
"If you will excuse me Archie, I am going to prepare dinner. Would you like to have lamb chops, potato chunks, and bread?"
"Splendid." He realized that as his appetite was returning, he must be improving.
She smiled and turned on her heel. Before exiting the room, she looked over her left shoulder. "Did you have a nice dream during your nap?"
"Oh yes I did, a very nice dream indeed."
Looking at each other, they both managed smiles.
To be continued.....
The next day Charles stopped by to visit, this time bringing Rebecca with him. She had been looking forward to seeing Archie again, and was anxious to meet Morgan.
Morgan opened the door when she heard a knock.
"Good afternoon Mr. Carrington, Sir. Would you both like to come in?"
"Hello again Miss O'Connor. May I present my wife Rebecca."
" I am pleased to make your acquaintance Mrs. Carrington."
"Likewise Miss O'Connor. Rebecca replied. May I say you have very pretty eyes."
Morgan grinned shyly. "Thank you Ma'am. That is a lovely dress you are wearing."
"Thank you. Charles picked it out. He always chooses the most beautiful things."
Both women giggled as they realized almost immediately that they would be friends.
Charles shook his head at the two women for sounding like giddy schoolgirls.
"How is Archie?" He asked. "Is his recovery going well?"
"Yes Sir, quite well indeed. "I will take you both to his room. Right this way please."
They found Archie sitting up in bed reading one of the books on loan from Mr. Cummings."
Archie smiled when he saw them. "Charles and Rebecca my dear friends. How nice to see you both."
"You look much better Archie. Your color is back, and you look well rested." Charles said.
"That is because I am being well taken care of. Morgan is an excellent nurse and I've been very lucky to have her here with me all this time." He looked at her and she returned his gaze with a small smile and blush.
"Would you all care for tea?"
"And your cake?" Charles asked.
Rebecca rolled her eyes. "Oh dear, you must forgive my husband Miss. He has told me about your cake and has not stopped talking about it since." I keep telling him that if he eats much more of it, he will become fat and I shall have to find a thinner husband!
Morgan giggled. "Please call me Morgan and yes I do have some cakes in the pantry."
"Very well, then you must call me Charles."
"And you must call me Rebecca."
Morgan smiled. "I will bring tea and cake. Excuse me, I'll be right back."
Rebecca looked at Archie with an approving smile. "I like her Archie, she is sweet and very pretty too."
"Don't start Becca." Charles said.
"What? I speak the truth. She reminds me a little of myself with her simple ways and is very well mannered."
"And very bright too." Archie said. "She can recite Shakespeare better than I."
Morgan entered the room.
Rebecca got up from her chair. "Please allow me to help you Morgan, I insist."
"You are so kind Rebecca, thank you."
Rebecca was beginning to cut the cake, while Charles was watching the two women as they served the tea
"I hope that small piece is not for me my dear." Charles said to his wife.
Morgan giggled and glanced at Archie.
"Charles, where are your manners!" Rebecca said, scolding her husband.
"Please feel free to serve him a generous slice Rebecca. I do not mind at all." Morgan sincerely said.
"He will eat the entire cake if you let him." Archie said.
Rebecca took a bite of her cake. "You must give me your recipe Morgan, this most delicious, it's really quite special."
Morgan giggled. "I will write it down for you if you like."
"Morgan, Charles tells me you work in a bookshop." Rebecca said.
"Yes, I do. The shop is owned by my dear friend Mr. Cummings."
"Oh yes, the nice gentleman who sent us the message regarding Archie." Rebecca said.
"He is a very fine indeed." Archie said.
It was getting late in the afternoon, Charles and Rebecca decided to head home.
"Thank you for your hospitality Morgan. You are most welcome to our home when Archie recovers." Rebecca said.
"Thank you, I've enjoyed meeting you both and are welcome here anytime."
Charles and Rebecca climbed into their carriage.
"I really like her Charles. She is most charming."
"Yes she is." He flatly said.
Rebecca gave her husband a puzzling look. "Why did you reply in that manner?"
"How do you mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean."
He took a deep breath. "You know how people in society can be Becca. They are not as accepting of someone like Morgan as we are."
"Oh bugger them! They were not very welcoming to me when we were courting, but they got over it, didn't they?"
Charles chuckled. "You are right my darling." He gave his wife a kiss.
In the early evening, Mr. Cummings stopped by to see Archie and lend him more books. He did not stay long as he was on his way to have dinner with old friends.
Archie and Morgan supped together. He was still bedridden and in some pain, but was feeling well enough to feed himself. In fact he was starting to feel much more like himself again. It was a relief to begin to be normal after the long recovery he'd been through.
"More potatoes Archie?"
"Yes, please. I am going to miss your cooking when I recover completely."
She grinned and took his plate to the kitchen for a second helping.
"Here you are." She said.
After dinner, Morgan and Archie were quietly chatted.
"What new books did Mr. Cummings around today?"
Henry the Fifth, and Richard the Third. I've loved Shakespeare since I was a child." He said.
"Ah, Henry the Fifth, I've read it many times." Morgan said.
She stood at the foot of Archie's bed, with her hands folded and took a slight deep breath.
"Why doth the crown lie there upon his pillow,
Being so troublesome a bedfellow?
O polish'd perturbation! Golden care!
The keep'st the ports of slumber open wide
To many a watchful night! Sleep with it now!
Yet not so sound and half so deeply sweet
As he whose brow with homely biggen bound
Snores out the watch of night. O majesty!
When thou dost pinch thy bearer, thou dost sit
Like a rich armour worn in heat of day,
That scalds with safety. By his gates of breath
There lies a down feather which stirs not:
Did he suspire, that light and weighless down
Perforce must move. My gracious Lord! My father!
This sleep is sound indeed; this is a sleep,
That from this golden rigol hath divorced
So many English kings. Thy due from me
Is tears and heavy sorrows of the blood,
Which nature, love, and filial tenderness,
Shall, O dear father, pay thee plenteously:
My due from thee is this imperial crown,
Which, as immediate from thy place and blood,
Derives itself to me. Lo, here it sits,
Which God shall guard: and put the world's whole strength
Into one giant arm, it shall not force
This one giant arm, it shall not force
This lineal honour from me: this from thee
Will I to mine leave, as 'tis left to me."
"Hal, Prince of Wales from King Henry the Fourth, part two act four." She proudly said.
Archie clapped enthusiastically. "Bravo!" He shouted.
Morgan curtsied and laughed, appreciating all his attention.
"Very impressive Morgan. Shakespearian scholars would be green with envy if they hear you."
Morgan giggled. "Thank you Archie. I think I am going to call it a night . Do you need anything else before I go to bed?"
"No thank you Morgan. "Good night. I'll be fine here and you need your rest. Off you go, how."
Good night Archie, and sleep well."
In the middle of the night, Morgan was awakened by the sound of something falling on the floor. She quickly put of her gown, and rushed to Archie's room where she found him out of bed and holding his injured side. On the floor lay a small pile of books that he had accidentally knocked over.
"Archie, what on earth are you doing out of bed!" She rushed over to him and put her arm around his waist, and carefully put him back in bed.
"I, I was thirsty." He said.
"Why did you not call for me?" She said.
"I did not want to bother you Morgan, it is the middle of the night."
"Archie, I have told you numerous times I am at your beckoning day or night, even if it is just for a drink of water."
She lit a candle, and gave him a full cup of the liquid he was craving.
"Thank you Morgan, I was parched. "Morgan took the cup from him when he finished.
She picked up the pile of books and caught a glimpse of something when she slightly opened the curtain from the window.
"It's snowing!" She said and fully opened the curtain for Archie to see before closing it again and sat beside Archie on the side of his bed.
"I loved to play in the snow when I was a child." Archie said. "I was always getting into trouble with my parents for throwing snowballs at the windows."
Morgan laughed. "You must have been a hellion."
"Yes, yes I was; but the Navy has tamed me somewhat, my brothers hardly recognize me when I go home."
They looked into each others eyes. Even in the light glow from the candle, he could see her beauty. In a bold move, he lightly caressed her soft cheek.
"Morgan, I, I,...may I?" He could not finish his sentence.
"What is it Archie?"
He slowly moved closer to her. Morgan's heart was beating fast.
Their lips were so close to each other. They could each feel the others breath on their cheeks and could hear their heightened breathing. They could not resist any longer and their lips met for a first kiss laden with love and laced with passion.
Archie wanted to kiss Morgan forever. Her lips were soft and sweet, her kisses innocent and tender. He thought that they were the finest he had ever had the pleasure of, before he chastised himself for his thoughts.
He passionately trailed kisses from her lips to her neck, to her cheeks, on and on until his fevour, subsided and he rested his lips upon her forehead.
"Oh Morgan, I couldn't stand it anymore, I felt as thought if I did not kiss you soon, I would go mad." He nuzzled in her lavender scented auburn locks breathing in the intoxicating scent, his hot breath near her earlobe sent shivers down her spine. Indeed, his kisses left her breathless.
He then cupped her face into his hands and looked into her eyes. "Morgan, you are so lovely, such a beautiful woman, with such a kind heart. When I first laid eyes on you I thought you were the most beautiful creature I have ever seen and these past few weeks, my feelings for you have turned intolove."
She timidly cracked a smile. "Oh Archie!" She cried as she threw her arms around him. "I care for you too, but I am not a woman of society, does that bother you?"
"No!" He vehemently replied, " I do not care about thatabout society's rules or money or position, I wouldn't care if you were the ragman's daughter I love you, and whatever made you the person you are, I'm grateful for it."
He gently pulled away from her and took one of her hands, and placed it on his chest. "Feel my heart Morgan, do you feel it beating wildly? It beats this way for you my own, always because of you."
Tears ran down her cheeks and he gently them away with his other hand. "Why the tears my sweet?" He asked.
"I guess I am relieved." She replied, a shy smile brightening her beautiful face.
"You feel the same for me as I do for you. I don't know what I'd have done if you felt differently."
He kissed her on the lips. "Yes I do love you. My heart is yours Morgan."
When Morgan awoke in Archie's arms, she was surprised to realize they had fallen asleep together.
He woke up from his sleep when he felt her stir in his embrace and started to nuzzled her hair and then rested his cheek on her head. "Good morning. " He said. "Did you sleep well?"
She straightened herself up with a look of embarrassment on her face, "We talked ourselves to sleep. Archie I am sorry, it must have been uncomfortable for you." She caressed his cheek, his beard stubble scratchy against her hand.
He took her hand and kissed her fingers." On the contrary, I slept well."
She smiled, blushing and gave him a light kiss on the lips before getting up from the bed to open the curtains and sat back down on the bed. "It's still snowing quite heavily I might add. I doubt if Mr. Cummings will open the shop today. He knows I will scold him if he does, I do not want him to risk a fall from slipping in the snow."
Archie grinned at her concern for the aging man. "I don't think many proprietors will be opening today. It looks quite bad out there. Very unusual for the beginning of November."
Morgan rubbed her arms. "It's quite chilly in here." Rising from the bed, she put some more logs on the fire's embers from last night and stirred them into life.
"Would you care for breakfast my love?" She asked.
"Yes please, thank you."
"What would you like?"
"I've had a craving for your delicious oatmeal."
She giggled. "Oatmeal it is!" She turned on her heels and headed for the kitchen.
"May I have a kiss before you prepare breakfast?"
She grinned. "Yes of course you may."
Morgan and Archie spent the morning and early afternoon sitting on his snuggling and talking.
"There were many nights I dreamt of holding you in my arms like I am now Morgan."
She looked lovingly up at him. "It feels wonderful to be in your arms Archie. Are you pleased your dreams came true?"
He kissed the tip of her nose. "Very glad."
"So am I." She whispered.
A few weeks later.....
Archie had made a full recovery from his injuries. His ribs had healed and he could walk without any pain or difficulty.
It was time for him to leave Morgan's home, and return to the Carrington's. He dreaded this day, and so d id Morgan.
The coach that the Carrington's had thoughtfully provided for his use had arrived, waiting to take him away.
Standing just inside the door, delaying his departure, he held Morgan close whispering, "Don't cry my love. You will still see me, every day, I promise."
"I know, we've spent so much time together these past few months, that it feels like we are being torn apart."
Archie chuckled. "Nothing my love, will never tear us apart." Kissing her once more, he boarded the carriage and left. Morgan watched as the horses started away and in a few short minutes, they were out of sight.
To be continued......