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Battle of Britain--Chapter 22
annoyeed
rogoblue
Rating: R (language and sexual situations)


Author: morgan72uk and rogoblue


Summary: Adelle endeavours to bond with Kate and wedding preparations are made.






Gustav had been formally introduced to Mr Buttons and the two bears, plus Laurence, sat down to tea, supervised by Kate.

Adelle smiled to see the little girl so happy, though slightly overwhelmed by receiving a new toy. Hesitant to intrude, Frances’ polite retreat and Verity being out with friends left Adelle at something of a loose end. She and her uncertainty settled into one of the armchairs with a cup of tea.

Jessica Palmer joined her, set aside her mending and asked, “What did Miss Hartridge say to you?”

“That I don’t know the first thing about bringing up a child, which is true. She is concerned about the pernicious influences Kate would be exposed to living in Berlin. Overall, I think she questions whether I truly want a child.”

“When I was pregnant with Verity, I doubted I was ready to be a mother.” Jessica shook her head, her expression distant. “I had been married for a time and children were expected. You’re choosing to change your life. If you didn’t have doubts, I would question your sanity.”

“Does Kate have time for me to learn how to be a parent?”

“Kate is two and a half; she’s inquisitive and affectionate. Generally she is well behaved, though she can be stubborn, mostly because she wants to do what Frances and Verity do. She keeps looking over, because she’s fascinated by you but doesn’t know whether she is allowed to approach you.” Mrs. P smiled. “Laurence was open to her from the beginning, perhaps by accident, or simply because she didn’t give him much choice. Kate will accept you and your authority, if you let her.”

“Parenting can’t be that simple.”

“It isn’t. There’s persuading her to go to bed when she wants to stay up, there’s bath-time and washing her hair, which she doesn’t much like, and encouraging her to eat vegetables. That becomes easier when she knows you and feels safe with you. Kate is desperate to love people, her own people. I don’t pretend to know what you’ve been doing for the last few years, but I doubt caring for a two year old is more demanding. It’s just different.”

Without waiting for Adelle’s response, Mrs. P called, “Kate, Adelle would like to have tea with you.” She stretched out her arm as Kate toddled over, pulling the little girl close and turning her so she could fix those big blue eyes on Adelle. “Why don’t you say hello?”

“Hello,” Kate said, edging closer, though clearly still cautious. “Thank you for Goos-tov.”

“I’m glad you like him. Is he settling in?”

“Mr Buttons looking after him,” Kate told her solemnly. “Law-rents is playing with him, too.” Unexpectedly, Laurence didn’t look terribly uncomfortable sitting amidst teddy bears. “You play?” Kate asked quietly.

“Of course, I will. Excuse me?” Smiling at Mrs, P’s satisfied nod, Adelle stood and offered Kate her hand. “What shall we do?”

“We’re having cake,” Kate told her, “with nicing.”

“That sounds delicious.”

There wasn’t cake, of course, just tiny plates, cups and saucers and a teapot filled with water which Kate poured out for her guests – bears included. Settling beside Laurence, Adelle kissed his cheek, before accepting a cup from Kate. “Having fun?”

“More, now that you’ve joined us.”

Adelle tabled her worries about Miss Hartridge and concentrated on playing with Kate. The little girl smiled happily and crept ever nearer. Finally, she tugged at Adelle’s skirt. “Kate up?”

“On my knee?” Kate nodded and carefully placed Mr. Buttons next to Gustav, so Adelle could lift her up.

“So, I’m not your favourite anymore?” Laurence asked, as Kate put her arms around Adelle and snuggled closer. When Kate looked concerned, he bent over and said, “You stay right there and I’ll tell you a secret. Adelle gives the best hugs but only to very special people like you and me.” Kate curled closer and Adelle rocked her a little. “My favourite girls sitting together.” He grinned at Adelle. “I know; I’m a hopeless chauvinist.”

“Not hopeless.”

“Well, look at you little one,” Mrs. P said, coming over to ruffle the girl’s hair. “Laurence – Kate will be having an early tea and I wondered if you’d mind having a pint at the pub while Adelle stayed and helped me put her to bed?”

“Not if I can come back and say goodnight.”

“Bedtime is 7 o’clock sharp,” Mrs. P announced. “Say goodbye to Laurence, Kate. He’ll return to say goodnight later.”

“Bye, Law-rents,” Kate said, waving at him before looking up at Adelle. “You stay?”

“Yes, for tea and bed time.”

“She isn’t the most delicate of diners,” Mrs. P acknowledged, as she supervised Kate’s tea. “A routine is important; we try to have tea, a quieter play, a warm drink and then story time in bed. At the weekends, I let her stay up a little later.”

“You’re talking as though I am going to take over.”

“I think you are.” Smiling, her hostess explained, “Kate likes you, you like her and you both love Laurence.”

“Where Gustav sleep?” Kate asked suddenly, “he sad alone.”

“He can sleep in your room, at the bottom of the bed,” Mrs. P said. “Let Adelle wipe your mouth.” Obediently, Kate held still while Adelle cleaned away the remains of dinner.

“Play?” Kate asked shyly.

“For a little while,” Adelle agreed, letting the child lead her into the morning room. “Shall we draw a picture for Laurence?”

Kate’s face lit up, as though she thought this the best idea in the world and drawing kept her entertained, fairly quietly, until Mrs. P finished clearing up and preparing the older children’s dinner.

“I don’t want her to go to an orphanage,” Mrs. P said, watching Kate concentrate on colouring her picture.

“What’s an orph-age?” Kate asked, stumbling over the unfamiliar word.

“A place where some children live,” Adelle said, before turning to the other adult. “Should we tell her about what might happen at the end of the month?”

“I didn’t dare mention it. Hoping for a miracle, I suppose. I surely didn’t expect one to arrive.”

Being a ‘miracle’ felt like too much pressure when Kate balked at washing and getting ready for bed. Mrs, P remained calm, informing Kate that misbehaving would mean no story.

She pouted a little, but obeyed and had been secured in a pair of faded pyjamas by the time Laurence returned.

When Mrs. P said, “Time for bed,” Kate tucked Mr. Buttons under one arm and drew Gustav with her, struggling to lift him.

“We’ll take her,” Adelle offered, smiling wryly at Mrs. P’s pleased expression. “That’s all right, isn’t it, Kate?”

“Story?” Kate said, yawning widely.

“A short one,” Mrs. P bargained, “good night.”

“Night night.” Considering the two bears and the adults available, Kate said, “Law-rents take Goos-tov?” She put the bear into his arms and reached for Adelle, who took the not so subtle hint and lifted her up.

With Mr. Buttons clutched tightly in a small hand, little arms and legs wound their way around her. Kate looked over Adelle’s shoulder at Laurence and Gustav following. Adelle imagined a version of this strange procession taking place most nights in the large house in Berlin.

* * *


“How was the pub?”


Dominic smiled and resisted the temptation to kiss Adelle just to hear Mason sigh again. “I worked through the materials Vandermeer sent. Believe me, that reading wasn’t half as interesting as your bedtime story.” Adelle ducked her head becomingly. “I’m curious. Will the teddy bear knight save the child princess from the evil serpent queen through guile and cunning or lop off her head and pry out her fangs to prove she’s dead?”


She kissed him softly and murmured, “What do you think, Law-rents?”


Shaking his head at her near smirk, he said, “Knowing you, my money’s on guile and cunning.”


“You favor the more direct approach?”


“It’s quicker.”


Adelle laughed. “You do enjoy winning.”


He cupped her chin in his hand and turned her head to face him. “Are we going to adopt Kate, provided the evil serpent queen can be convinced?”


“I did not base my villainess on Miss Hartridge.”


“You sure did,” he said, grinning at the stubborn set to her mouth. “You mimicked her vocal cadence exactly.” He decided startled looked good on Adelle. “You didn’t do that intentionally?” he asked. She shook her head. “Interesting,” he observed, “but beside the point.” He took a breath. “Are we adopting Kate?”


“Yes.”


“What about your career?”


“I have very little of one at this time,” Adelle said, “but we’ve discussed how that might be remedied.”


Elation called another pertinent topic to mind. “She’ll eventually ask about a sibling.”


Adelle laughed. “I suspect Kate will be more subtle than that.”


“I thought it bore mentioning.”


“I believe we have enough on our plate to justify tabling that topic for now.”


“You’re right, as usual.” He kissed her on the forehead. “Vandermeer had a bit of good news. We’ll fly back to Berlin on a military transport Saturday together.” Adelle closed her eyes in what looked like relief. Dominic didn’t blame her. Traveling by boat, train and car from England to Germany with only Kate, Mr. Buttons and Gustav for company was a daunting prospect. “If he knew the score, he’d have called it a wedding present.”


“He doesn’t know?” Adelle held her left hand before his eyes, engagement ring prominently displayed.


“I asked the guys not to say anything.”


“Why ever not?”


“I want to see Vandermeer’s and Williams’ faces when they realize.” He smiled at her look of utter and abject disbelief. “It’ll be a window into how others will view us.”


“The French will look pityingly upon you for legitimizing your mistress so quickly. The Germans will seek opportunities for exploiting your new weaknesses. The Brits will think you show excellent taste and the Russians won’t give a damn.”


“I guess I should’ve just asked you,” he muttered.


“Admit you wish to surprise them, Laurence,” Adelle said, resting her head on his shoulder briefly. “Williams in particular, I think.”


“Why would you think that?”


She appeared to weigh her words carefully. “He reminds me of Devon,” she murmured.


“Devon was money, glibness and flash. Williams is a smart, sneaky good old boy.”


“Nonetheless, they’re men you respect and can talk with over a beer or something a bit stronger.” She stared deeply into his eyes and Dominic felt like he’d slipped loose of his moorings. “You’d ask Williams to stand up for you if he was here, wouldn’t you?”


“Yes.”


“Since he isn’t, who might serve?”


“Your cousin, if you don’t think it’s too presumptuous of me to ask.”


“I’m sure James would be honored.”


“Will that make him less or more inclined to try and get me drunk tonight?” he asked. Adelle wanted to abide by tradition and remain apart on the night before their marriage and he grudgingly respected her desire to have some part of this endeavor conform to societal norms.


“Are you inclined to over-imbibe?” she asked, nipping his earlobe playfully.


He slid his hand along her thigh, knowing that Mason lacked a suitable sightline. “That’s better than indulging in other sorts of activities to take my mind off of losing my freedom, isn’t it?”


“Infinitely,” Adelle whispered, toying with his belt buckle, “although disciplining you for such a transgression would be truly magnificent.”


“It … it would?”


“Oh yes.”


He pulled her close. “I want you,” he asserted, breaths coming faster. “Come back to the hotel with me.”


Her smile hurled a bolt of pure lust through him. “Think about how much more you’ll want me tomorrow night. Better still, contemplate the discipline I mentioned. Wonder how I’ll mix the pleasure with the pain, how the carrot will match the stick and how anticipation will flow into the culmination.”


“On our wedding night?” he asked, almost choking on the penultimate word.


Adelle replied with an enigmatic smile.


* * *


“It’s not every day a man gets married,’ Driscoll said.


“True enough,” Dominic muttered, attention drifting back to the report he’d been reading until he realized how uncharacteristic the interruption had been, particularly since Driscoll wasn’t on duty. “Is there something I can do for you, Driscoll?”


“The four of us want to give you a send off.” He gestured at himself and then to Barclay and Park. “It was Adams’ idea.”


The plot thickened. “Where is Adams?”


Driscoll smiled. “He calls it scouting.”


“What do you call it?” Silence Dominic hadn’t expected. “Anyone?”


“Whoring,” Park said.


“We asked around,” Driscoll elaborated, as Dominic’s brain supplied treacherous tactile memories of Adelle’s deft fingers working over sensitive portions of his anatomy and the threat she’d made if he sought out someone to conclude matters. “Adams insisted you should pass your last unmarried night somewhere nice, Dom.”


“And very discreet,” Barclay added.


“Which made it kind of expensive, so we’re all chipping in,” Driscoll concluded.


Leaning back in his chair, Dominic said, “I appreciate the thought, boys, but I’m spending the night here.” When they shared significant looks and began to nod, he added, “Alone,” to make it clear he didn’t expect them to deliver the prostitute to him.


“We meant no disrespect to you or your lady,” Driscoll said.


“In fact, having some of your baser urges satisfied is our wedding present to her,” Adams commented from the doorway to the suite.


John Devon’s laughter resounded in Dominic’s head, sending a wave of grief crashing over him. One simple truth nearly choked him. Devon wouldn’t be at his wedding. Despair tightened his chest, making it difficult for Dominic to breathe. “Excuse me,” he muttered, gaining his feet unsteadily and making for the bathroom. Bile rose in his throat, but he didn’t vomit. His entire body trembled, as if unable to contain his emotions.


A knock sounded. “Everything all right in there?” Adams asked, tone unusually subdued.


“Yeah,” Dominic panted. He felt like he’d run six miles uphill with sixty pounds of gear. Silver lining—he was in neither the shape nor the mood to have sex. The thought of being intimate in a world without John Devon turned his stomach and he vomited until he felt beyond empty.


“Do you need a doctor?” Driscoll asked, when Dominic emerged, pale and shaken, after wiping a cold sweat from his forehead and the back of his neck.


“What I need is a drink.”


* * *

Adelle stood very still, thinking it best not to annoy the diminutive seamstress, particularly when she wielded pins. Creating a wedding dress out of the lining of Aunt Juliet’s own at spectacularly short notice demanded serious attention.

“It’s coming along very nicely,” Juliet observed from across the room.

“Hmm,” said the woman with a mouthful of pins.

“Are you pleased with it, Adelle?”

“Of course.” The proximity of those pins made any other answer extremely unwise, though she approved of the simple yet elegant dress.

“You aren’t disappointed not to be having a bigger ceremony?” Her aunt looked genuinely concerned, persuading Adelle to answer with care.

“I’ve never given the subject much thought.” Casting her mind back to Judith’s wedding, she continued, “I think a small and private ceremony suits us very well. I’ve never been very social and Laurence lost his closest friends during the war. A bigger ceremony would render their absence glaringly apparent.

“Poor man,” Juliet murmured.

Adelle accepted the difficulty Laurence would have getting married without Devon and the others at his side. “Obviously, it would be better if Laurence’s family were here, if Judith and Harry were able to join us – but we must move quickly because of Kate and to ensure Laurence is back in Berlin by Sunday night.”

“It’s a shame Henry and Eunice are in the country,” Juliet said, knowing it was anything but. “Eunice will have a fit when she finds out she wasn’t invited.”

“I’m sure she’ll be grateful to have avoided the embarrassment of having to attend such an unfashionable event.”

“She won’t be happy you’ve denied her the opportunity to complain about it.” The two women smiled conspiratorially. “We’ll deal with her displeasure on your behalf.”

“Sorry,” Adelle said, knowing she didn’t sound at all contrite. “Laurence is going to ask James to be his best man. I said I thought James would be happy to oblige.”

“He will. He’s looking forward to getting to know Laurence and has persuaded a friend to act as a photographer, so Laurence’s mother will be able to see you both. Always assuming the dress is finished.”

“The dress will be finished,” the seamstress declared, taking one more look. “Take it off. The alterations will be made and the dress with you by lunchtime tomorrow.” Since the wedding was scheduled for 2 pm, that didn’t leave a lot of time for error.

“There isn’t much of an aisle,” Adelle said, carefully easing her way out of the fragile garment. “Will Uncle Edgar mind that there won’t be the huge symbolic gesture of giving me away?”

“Adelle, we both know you aren’t ‘ours.’ You’re your own woman, so your uncle wouldn’t have been upset if you wanted to walk to Laurence on your own. We both want you to be happy.”

“Laurence makes me happy,” Adelle said, surprised by how much she wanted her aunt to understand. “I wouldn’t have accepted his proposal, if I didn’t believe he contemplates a true partnership.”

“That makes him a most unusual man.”

“He is both unusual and very intelligent.”

“Among other things, I presume?”

“You presume correctly.” Adelle refused going to blush, though the seamstress cackled and Aunt Juliet looked suitably intrigued.

* * *

“What’s your poison?” James DeWitt asked, looking up from his seat at the hotel bar. His grin faded quickly.


“Whatever you’re having,” Dominic said, slumping into the adjacent barstool, feeling the effects of having been violently ill. “Sorry I’m late. I … ah … got caught up in work.”


“He’ll have bourbon,” James said. “A double.” Their waitress smiled and slipped away to fill the order. “Having second thoughts?” he ventured. Dominic shook his head. “Good, because I’ve never seen Addie look at a man the way she looks at you.” James sighed and tapped the rim of his glass with a forefinger. “I’d have to call you out, if you backed out at this juncture.”


“I love her, James.”


“I don’t doubt it, Laurence.”


Dominic took a deep breath. “I don’t have anyone … um … in England,” he said, nodding his thanks to the waitress for his bourbon. “Will you stand up for me?”


“Who is going to hate me forever, because he can’t be here due to your borderline unseemly haste to wed?”


Dominic choked on his bourbon. James clapped him on the back and asked the waitress for a glass of water. When she returned, Dominic muttered, “Thanks,” and sipped the water gratefully. Finally, he met James’ eyes. “No one,” he whispered. “Any … everyone like that is gone.”


“The war?” he asked. Dominic nodded. “I’m sorry.”


To his dismay, Dominic felt tears well up in his eyes. “Damn it,” he hissed. “I had this under control. Adelle helped me move on.”


“You wouldn’t be human, if your losses didn’t sneak up on you occasionally,” James said, raising his glass, his expression understanding. “Particularly on the eve of what, arguably, will be the most important day of your life. We should drink to them—those who can’t attend.”


“John Devon,” Dominic said, tapping his glass against James’ and draining his drink. James matched him and signaled the waitress to bring the bottle. They drank to Gardner, Bishop, Hill and then Devon again. Spinning his glass on the tabletop, Dominic said, “Adelle thinks I’m afraid to get close to my men.” He laughed. “Well, she doesn’t actually say it, but I know that’s what she’s thinking.”


“She doesn’t think you’re afraid, Laurence,” James said, pouring more bourbon.


“How in the hell do you know that?”


He sipped his beverage and speared Dominic with a gaze of abject frankness. “Who would label someone who’d been poisoned on their behalf a coward?”


Dominic’s glass nearly slipped through suddenly numb fingers. “I didn’t know you knew about that.”


“That makes you uncomfortable?” James asked, angling his chair to observe Dominic from an oblique angle.


“A little.”


“Why?”


“I nearly wasn’t quick enough.” He replayed the sequence of events in his head yet again. “I never would’ve forgiven myself.”


“You saved my cousin’s life,” James said, clapping Dominic on the shoulder. “The heir and the spare must appreciate that.”


“As long as Adelle shows up at whatever church tomorrow, I don’t care—.”


“Their opinions are important,” James asserted. He waved their waitress over and whispered something into her ear. “The spare has a keen nose for outstanding liquor and a magnanimous nature when it comes to sharing his finds with people he likes or respects.”


“I’m aware of that.”


“The heir needs to deem you worthy, so—.”


“No, he doesn’t.”


Their eyes locked. James’ lips curled into a nasty smile. “Perhaps, you’re right, Laurence. You aren’t beholden to Henry in any way. That, in and of itself, will throw Aunt Eunice into a tailspin.” He accepted a snifter from the waitress and motioned for Dominic to do the same. After he did, James said, “May you and my cousin be spectacularly happy.”





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Unless I totally jenked up the timeline (and it's quite possible I have) I'm holding out on Adelle actually being pregnant at this juncture. It's only been about two months since she left Berlin, right?

Is Alpha going to crash the wedding? 'Cause that would be crazy. Terrible, but truly fascinating to behold.

Poor Dom.. missing his friends. Nice build up to the nuptials.

I think Adelle left Berlin 4-6 weeks ago. I think. So you're in the ball park.

Alpha as a wedding crasher is a scary and intimidating thought. We shall see.

Dom missing his friends takes an interesting turn in the lead up to the wedding. An interesting turn that wasn't my idea (but I executed it, so I get a little credit).

Awww, Adelle and Kate are bonding, I am loving how all of their relationships are coming out. I'm excited for their upcoming wedding.

Actually writing a wedding for these two characters was an amazing experience. Never thought I'd do eeeettttt. Formatting was lost when my hard drive fried but I'm working on it.

Adelle and Kate are cute, just in a different way than Laurence and Kate.

I honestly can't believe they're getting married. LOL. It's just..amazing! I'm really liking how this is coming along. Can't wait for more!

They are in something of a rush at the moment, that's for sure. Glad it's still working for you!

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