Richard's Story: Part Eleven: Fulfillment

Richard sat outside 26 Marlbow Apartments, Parker Walk and watched the sun rise. From this vantage point, he could see the western wing of Government House. His and Phillipa’s office was on the third floor, six—seven windows over? He counted several times, then gave up. Later today, he would stick a piece of paper on the glass. When he next visited Phillipa, he would look and know for sure.

It was too early for even ambitious government workers to be out and about, but a policeman strode by on the pavement below, then a delivery man. A newspaper boy trotted up the outside stairs and dropped a newspaper by Phillipa’s door. He wrinkled his brow at Richard.

“Late night?”

“Yes,” Richard said, and the boy went off, assuming in all probability that Richard lived in the building and had just returned from a night of drunken entertainment. Richard wondered if he should tell Charles how easy it was for someone to loiter as long as he wore the right clothes and had the right accent.

Charles likely didn’t need to be told.

Richard unfolded the newspaper to the last sheets. His broken engagement was center page with a heavy black border: The Cartwrights announce the severance of the engagement between their daughter Gloria Cartwright and a gentleman of the city. So simple. So filled with disgust for those who could read between the lines.

So utterly satisfying. Richard leaned his head against the railing and smiled at the city’s skyline. He didn’t know when he and Phillipa would marry or how. Perhaps in secret, so she could continue to work with him. Perhaps, someday, hopefully, they could start their own business. They could do evaluations for the museum or for the Manderley Brothers. He didn’t know. He didn’t care to look ahead. He waited.

“Richard?”

Still sitting, he twisted to look up at Phillipa, wearing a man’s dressing gown, of course; with her feet bare and head uncovered, the red, silky hair flying loose, she looked impossibly feminine. He smiled giddily. The rising sun on her bemused face, his new freedom, and, Richard had to admit, a lack of sleep—all produced a sensation of bespellment. Perhaps the newspaper boy’s assessment wasn’t so far off.

“Hullo,” he said and held up the newspaper, open to the appropriate sheet.

She took it. She studied the announcement. She looked at him. He hadn’t realized until that moment how careful, how restrained, Phillipa had been around him. Now, she glowed. It wasn’t just the sunlight. She was half-laughing, half-crying as she reached for him, took his hands to pull him up.

“Come inside, Richard,” she said. “Come share breakfast with me. You can tell me everything.” And he did.