*WARNING: This blog is intended for a mature audience. Its contents may include adult situations, violence and sensitive issues that some people might find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

20 January 2014

A Pair of Brown Eyes: Chapter 16



"But, Ethel..." Claire gasped, not believing her eyes at what was spread across the guests' bed. "Do you really expect me to wear... that?"

"Sure. Why not?" Ethel's answer was as straightforward as usual. "It's the perfect outfit for riding. And what's the point of having you over for the weekend if we can't go and have some fun? Besides, I've chosen the darkest one I own. You won't mind not wearing black for a while, will you?"

Claire's mind revolted. "But those are slacks. Women don't wear slacks."

Ethel shrugged. "Who says so? Times are changing. In the future trousers might even become the preferred garment for females as well as males. Jack always keeps me informed of all the new acts that are being passed by the Government, and I have an inkling the twentieth century is going to prove great for women."

Claire was sometimes disconcerted by her friend's unabashed remarks, but she coulnd't deny she wanted to believe her words. If only it was true times were changing! And she was naturally tempted by those leg-shaped clothes, so foreign to her. They looked so comfortable and warm... She finally smiled and nodded.

"Will you try them on, then?" Ethel encouraged her.


Claire's smile suddenly dropped and was replaced by a deep frown. "What, now?" Her hand was slightly trembling as she brought it to her mouth.


"Why, of course! Claire, don't tell me you have become shy around me. We used to change together all the time when we were at school, don't you remember?" Ethel remarked. "Is there something you don't want me to see?"

Ethel's teasing wasn't lost to Claire, so she had to use all her self-restrain to keep her own voice cheerful. "Oh, no, of course it's nothing of that sort!" But it was. It was, and she couldn't let anyone see her like... that. Not even her friend. Especially not her.

"Alright, alright! I'll leave you by yourself." Ethel relented at last. "I'll wait for you downstairs." And with that she left the room.


It felt strange, and yet natural, this new outfit. Once she was done changing her clothes, Claire went to see herself in the mirror. "Claire, is this really you?" She asked her reflection from the other end of the glass. She hardly recognised the person looking straight at her, and still she knew it was herself.  Was this a new Claire or the old one coming to life again? She couldn't tell for sure, but, scary as it was at times, this was what she was becoming. A woman fending for herself, a woman earning her own living, and a woman wearing very masculine trousers. "You can be this person... Can't you? Can't you? Perhaps you're not so bad after all..."


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The quick stroll in the woods had done wonders to Andrew's nerves, but he still wasn't in the best of moods. He took a deep breath before entering the club, to make sure he was ready to face his friends.



He opened the door, and immediately spotted Jack, who was already waiting for him. Both men waved to each other, and Andrew slowly approached his brother-in-law.


Then, he let himself drop in the seat next to Jack's and sighed, hardly acknowledging him.

"Why do you look so flustered, Andrew?" Jack shifted his position to look at him, a bemused expression on his face.

"That woman!" Andrew grunted in a low tone.

"I beg your pardon? I'm not sure I heard what you said... Were you talking... about a woman?" Jack asked.


"Yes! Claire! Well," perhaps he shouldn't take so many familiarities when talking about her, so he immeadiately amended. "Mrs. Parker, that is."


"So Ethel was right, after all! Is it true, then? Are you and your assistant...?"

Upon hearing that, Andrew began to devise all sorts of ways in which he could kill his sister -a habit he had acquired lately. "I don't know what your wife has been blabbing about, but..."

"You know her too well." Jack interrupted, stifling a laugh in not too subtle a manner. "One would say you're siblings."


Jack was always a good company to be with, and his good-natured sense of humour was what Andrew needed to forget his stricken heart. They would have continued chatting had it not been for the fact that Jack's colleague made his appearance at last, and the three of them proceeded to eat their breakfast before starting for the lake.

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"Why don't we take a rest?" Ethel said after having spent some time riding over the fields. "The horses are a bit tired, and there's a spot beyond those bushes where they can eat some fresh grass." Claire looked at the area at which Ethel pointed, and indeed, the clear they were now crossing came to an abrupt end, giving way to a secluded area where all sorts of plants grew wilder. The afternoon was cool but sunny, so that was a pleasant prospect for Claire.


Both women leaned against a tree trunk and made themselves comfortable on the soft ground. Ethel sighed contentedly, and Claire was glad for the silence, since it helped her collect her thoughts and muster enough courage to ask a question that had been forming in her mind since the previous evening at the clinic.

"Ethel, may I ask you something?"

Ethel turned her head to look at Claire, and smiled. "Why all that ceremony? Of course you can."

"How did you know you had fallen in love with your husband?"


"Well," Ethel gazed at some far away place, her eyes glimmering in a dream-like manner. "Oh, I don't know. I was all the time thinking about him, and having a hard time concentrating on anything else. And whenever I actually saw him, I couldn't stop myself from trembling in anticipation, the silliest of smiles always showing on my face." She shrugged. "Nothing extraordinary there; just the usual stuff, I guess." After a short pause, she added. "You make some strange questions, Claire. The other day you asked me whether Jack and I were in love, and now how I fell in love with him... It seems as though you didn't know these things."

Ethel was teasing her again, that much Claire could tell, but why on earth should she be so close to the truth everytime she remarked something about her? Of course she didn't know any of those things! It took her a while to regain her composure, only to realise she hadn't been paying attention to what Ethel was saying.

"Speaking of which... How about you?" Ethel asked her.


"About me? How did I know I was in love with...? How did I...? I-" Claire was mostly talking to herself by now, trying to come up with some coherent answer, and -as it was usually the case- failing miserably at it.

"Claire...?" Ethel looked at her from the corner of her eyes. "Claire, is there any particular reason you are asking me all this? Were you and your husband happy?"

"I imagine he was..." Claire immediately regretted having said that. Had those words really come out of her own mouth? Much as she tried to fight it -and not give anything away- the bitterness in her heart was sometimes too overwhelming to keep in check.


"What kind of an answer is that? Is it your way of telling me you weren't?" Ethel's tone of voice had substantially changed. "I know it must be very hard for you to talk about these things, but you can't keep them to yourself for good, don't you think? Were you happily married?" She insisted. Not receiving any answer, she continued, no longer smiling. "Claire, I'm aware that sometimes I can be a little... Well, you know! But..." Ethel put her hand softly on Claire's arm. "You can trust me, you know that, don't you? And now, please tell me." She asked her one third time. "Were you happy in your marriage?"

Claire wasn't brave enough to tell her the truth, but she couldn't bring herself to lying to her any longer, either. She considered for a moment what to tell her, while she kept observing Ethel's wedding ring on the hand still resting on her arm. It was nothing but a simple piece of metal, but one which seemed to hold a great significance for her friend.


She opened her mouth to say something, only to close it again a second afterwards without uttering a single word. The only thing she was able to do was shake her head imperceptibly. "No."

And as she readied herself for a whole row of questioning, she was surprisingly met by silence. Ethel was silent! It didn't feel uncomfortable, but it surely meant something that she wasn't asking her anything more.

"Well, luckily it's all in the past now." Ethel said at last, her usual cheerfulness showing once again. "Am I to assume, then, you were asking because of Andrew?"

"No... Well... He's kissed me. Twice."

This topic of conversation was more appealing to Ethel, who was in no time begging her for all the juicy details.


Details which Claire didn't know how to give, since she didn't know how to feel about the whole situation. Or perhaps she did, and was just forbiding herself from acknowledging one simple fact: that she recognised some of the things Ethel had described earlier...

If only she could avoid hurting Andrew in the long run...

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"Are you still brooding, Andrew?" Jack asked him while poking the fire to get it ready for supper. "You shouldn't be drinking so much. At least wait until we cook all those fish we caught earlier. And when I say *we*, I'm talking about Lawrence and myself, because you have hardly contributed to our meal. Seriously, what's the matter with you today?"

Andrew set on the ground the mug he was holding, and then spoke. "I'm not drunk, if that's what you're implying." But truth was, the liquor had already taken over his system, and he was feeling that distinctive warmth inside his body that soothed his spirits, but made him slightly dizzy.

"Why does she have to miss her husband so much? No, of course she has every right to miss him. But, why should *that* matter to me? One moment she seems eager to kiss me, and the next one she draws back in disgust." Andrew continued, talking to no one in particular. He knew he was making no sense, and, though he was not yet at the point of slurring, his tongue had definitely loosened.


"Have you already fed the horses, Lawrence?" Jack's voice interrupted Andrew's train of thought.

"Yes," answered him back, before taking a seat by the fire to join the other two men. "I overheard you were talking about a lady? Is it, by any chance that lovely girl I met at your house, Roberts?"


"The very same one. Her boss, here," Jack explained, pointing at Andrew with his forehead, "is a tiny little bit afraid she might not like him as much as her late husband." Jack's answer was nonchalant but up to the point, just as usual. No wonder Ethel had chosen him for a partner!


"Um, I'm not so sure about that..." Lawrence's response was unexpected, and Andrew found himself suddenly interested in what he had to say, his tipsiness already forgotten. "She's not even wearing her wedding band."


Andrew frowned, at a loss for words. "Come again? What did you just say?"


"Ah, it's true!" Jack chimed in, his eyes still fixed on the fire. "Who knows, Andrew? You might even be lucky, and she's ready to move on."


How come he hadn't noticed it before? Didn't he take pride in being an observant man? But he could no longer deny the fact that, indeed, she wore no wedding ring. But what could that mean? He wondered...



Chapter 17Chapter 15




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Author's note: Lawrence was indeed one of the guest at Ethel's party as portrayed in Chapter 06.

So, yes, I'm still alive. I'm sorry I haven't been too active these last few weeks, and I've fallen behind in some of your stories. I'll try to remedy that as soon as I can :-D.

39 comments:

  1. woot!!! So glad you're back. I've missed this.

    Again poor Claire. Glad she sort of in her own way told Ethel about her marriage. Glad even more that Ethel didn't ask about the details as to why she was unhappy. She is so confused by what she thinks she's starting to feel for Andrew and trying to keep up appearances as the grieving widow.

    The ring...wow she took that thing off first thing I bet! I would have I know. She over looked that part of her act I guess, but even she zeroed in on Ethel's ring while they were talking. I wonder how Andrew will act knowing this new piece of information.

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    1. Aww, thanks, it feels good to have been missed :-D.

      Yes, sort of, that's what she did hehe... Ethel may be a bit of a gossiper, but she does know when to remain silent. I wonder what she might have thought... And Claire... *sighs* she's a liiiiittle bit bolder, but of course as confused as always (perhaps even more so now).

      Your bet might be correct, and you do know she was actually wearing a ring in all those flashbacks... ;-) Not saying any more! What will Andrew make of that? We shall see...

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  2. Go Claire! Despite her misgivings she tried something new. And even thought that she didn't look so bad! A little spark of self confidence is something cheering to see. No Claire, you're not so bad at all.

    Aawww, I'm glad Ethyl picked up on it and Claire admitted that she hadn't been happy. It seems as though she's got quite enough else she's having to hide, might as well have something she can freely admit to. Though it's so sad that she doesn't trust herself enough to know and be sure of what she might or might not feel.

    Oh, Andrew! Getting drunk just because you're confused and a bit hurt won't help things. Though it sounds as if Lawrence has has been very observant too. Will Lawrence be a rival for Andrew? Or is he someone who knows her past?

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    1. Yes, I wanted her to try something new, like... wearing pants! :-O And, is it not what all those Shakespearean heroines did all the time in order to exert their powers ;-)? And no, Claire is not bad at all, it's good to know she thinks so too.

      Well, that shake of her head already says a lot. And yes, she doesn't trust herself, but I think she does know what she's beginnig to feel, even though she won't admit that ;-).

      Hehe, poor Andrew, he wasn't *that* drunk... LOL. Well, rather than whether Lawrence has been observant or not, the interesting thing here is that Andrew has failed to notice it himself... Aren't infatuated people a little blind, most of the time? Oh, a rival... he certainly doesn't need any more "rivals", right? But, well, if it's to any comfort to you (he could be a player, after all) Lawrence is married.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Ahem, okay, so I tried to comment without having to reveal my full name but that didn't work so look at my full name yay!

    Anyway, just wanted to say I'm glad I decided to follow this here as well as the Simmer Sanctum. This story is gorgeous and I'm still in awe of the amount of staging you must do to get this all done. It looks grand - you do lovely screenshots.
    Keep up the good work ^_^

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    1. Aww, so sorry you had to reveal your full name, I appreciate it nonetheless :-). That's why I dont' like Google+ very much, even though I do have an account.

      Honestly, it is a lot of work, but as I'm highly motivated I don't mind it that much. Glad to know my efforts show in the end.

      Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely comment :-D.

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  5. Welcome back! Nice foreshadowing -- you really think women's trousers will catch on? :-P I wonder how Andrew would react to seeing Claire in her riding clothes. They show off her curves a lot more than what she's been wearing.

    I'm glad Claire opened up to Ethel, even though it was only a little bit. It's an important first step. As for Andrew, perhaps things are looking up? I guess we'll see. :-D

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    1. Will they catch on? Hmmm, I'm not sure... Don't tell me you've ever seen a woman wearing... those? My, that's subversive, for sure LOL :-P. Now, seriously, I'm glad you liked the foreshadowing, I simply couldn't help myself. And to think the 20th century is already history for us.

      It was an important first step, as I tend to imagine that, on top of everything else, dealing with those topics must have been rather taboo at that time, so I don't think Claire is ready to give any more information yet. Oh, and do you really think things are looking up for Andrew? That's fine :-D.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  6. LOL, "tempted by those leg shaped clothes" I love that line. It is funny and a good way to describe pants. XD I love how you're writing about a past time period, and describing the future so well in the language of the time. o.O Andrew hasn't noticed Claire's lack of a ring has he... he's probably too distracted by her face. :) I wonder when Claire will, or if she ever will, tell Ethel the truth about her marriage.

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    1. LOL. You know, I was trying to imagine how Claire would describe something she doesn't know much about, and that's what I came up with, glad you liked it :-D.

      Oh, yes, Andrew hasn't been paying attention to her hands, and I bet he actually sees them a lot. I mean, they work together, and lots of interactions will require them to hand one another things (tools, bandages, or whatever)... Well, you get the point... Yes, he's way too distracted LOL.

      And well, acknowledging her marriage hasn't been a happy one is all Claire is willing to admit at the moment...

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  7. Brilliant chapter, I'm so glad you're back! Beautiful screenshots, as always - Claire is so gorgeous. I can only imagine how much effort goes into creating this story, I'm totally in awe. And I totally have a crush on Andrew ;-)

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    1. *blushes* Aww, thanks. You just left me speechless... You have a crush on Andrew? Hehe, that's too sweet <3. Then come and join in on his fan club.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting :-D.

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  8. Of course, we missed you, but with christmas and new year and all that I think we all took a little time. Welcome back!

    <3333 I so love this story!!

    Claire in TROUSERS?! Wow, well done Ethel! And, they were only grey, not black!
    I am SO glad Claire told Ethel that she didn't love her husband, but I almost wish Ethel had asked more questions. I understand why she didn't, she was probably speechless from the shock, plus realised how hard it was for Claire to admit that and let her have her space. Hopefully, Claire will now be able to talk to Ethel about all that happened, come to terms with it, and then move on with Andrew.

    Oh, Andrew... He's so hung up on Claire that he doesn't notice the obvious: no wedding ring! I hope this little nugget of info doesn't make him push her too far. She's still more fragile than he can know, and she needs more time and needs to sort things out in her head before moving on.
    Just keep patient, Andrew! I'm sure you'll be rewarded!

    Can I just say, that one shot of the ladies leading their horses in the opening? I had to stop and just stare at it, it was sooo beautiful and you must've spent ages drawing the reigns! :)

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    1. Awww, thanks so much! *blushes* *hugs*

      Yes, Claire in trousers! Yay! Hehe, Ethel was speechless! Can you imagine that? And Claire, ufff, Claire. She's always moving forward, one little step at a time... Hopefully there'll come a day when she can move on and be with Andrew ;-).

      And poor, infatuated Andrew. Who knows what he'll make of that piece of information. When it comes to Claire, he always seems to draw all the wrong conclusions, hehe.

      Oh, the reins... Well, surprisingly, they weren't *that* difficult to get right, since the horses were already "wearing" some. I just drew a thick line from horse to hand, cloned the colour from the actual rein, and pasted it into my selection. Glad you liked it :-D.

      Thanks so much for reading and for your lovely feedback.

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  9. I'm so happy you released another chapter. I love your writing ability. It reads just like a novel. Also it's very evident the care you take while creating your screenshots. Everything looks just so wonderful.

    This chapter was awesome! I wish Claire would open up to Ethel and tell her the truth about her marriage. I loved the whole bit about the trousers, that was too cute, and pretty funny also. Great chapter! Can't wait to read more!

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    1. Awww, :-D *blushes* *blushes some more*

      I loved the idea of having her in trousers, I simply knew I had to make it fit in my story somehow, I'm glad you liked it :-D.

      Thank you so much for reading and for your lovely feedback.

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  10. By change I got here because I accidentally clicked on your bookmarked page on my toolbar. I was doing something else and bam... I saw you had updated and I left what I was doing to read your chapter. I was so happy to see it hahahaha... I think it was no accident after all. ;)

    Wonderful chapter that I loved and felt sad when it ended and in such a way... *pouting* I want them to meet again after the last time, but that's just me being impatient. Something that usually happens when I'm enjoying myself. Weird, it should be the other way around right?
    Thanks for the update Marta. <3

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    1. Hahahaha, you're too funny. You can follow my WP blog if that's easier for you. I always update a teaser there whenever I release a new chapter -within the hour of having published it or so... :-D

      Can I let you in on a little secret? I also want them to meet again... But, you'll have to bear with me for a little longer, I'm afraid...

      Thanks to YOU for reading :-D.

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  11. Oh dear. I fear that with this encouragement, Andrew may push harder for a relationship that Claire isn't ready for. I hope she will be able to open up more to Ethyl, because Claire needs a mediator and confidante right now, rather than a match maker.

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    1. Well, you may be right, you may be wrong. Let's hope for the best, though, shall we? ;-) Oh, yes, Claire is in every need of a confidante; hopefully Ethel will be the kind of friend she needs.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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  12. Heh, Ethel sure is pushy! I think though Claire finally letting someone else know about her past relationship will help her move past it.

    Hmmm...I do wonder if Ethel will now tell her brother about it...or hint at it, you know kinda tell him that Claire didn't love her last husband like he has assumed all along. He has the momentum now I think, he just needs to be patient and persistent!

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    1. She is rather, isn't she? But hey, at least this once she backed away a little ;-). Yes, Claire is taking baby steps towards... recovery perhaps?

      Ah, that's an interesting question... Well, I already have an answer to that (if I don't change my mind in the process, that is, hehe), but of course I'm not telling you... just yet! :-P

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  13. I really enjoy your storytelling. It's really beautifully done. My heart goes out to Claire. She's been through so much and there are so many layers to unravel, even for her close friend, Ethel. I'm actually really surprised that Ethel didn't ask more questions. I guess she knows that topic is kind of off limits. Andrw's patience seems to be chipping away. Hopefully it doesn't scare Claire away. I suspect Andrew will find away to (un)subtly bring up her marriage and she'll really turn red!

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    1. Thank you so much :-D. Ethel was too shocked for words, apparently. As for what Andrew's going to do... well... *sighs* We'll just have to wait and see!

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  14. I love Jack! Just wanted to say. He seems like such a good man.
    I'm so glad that Claire could open up a little to Ethel, even those few words must be so cathartic for her. Just the fact that somebody else knows she wasn't happy.
    Boy, Andrew is all-consumed isn't he? Haha those poor guys just trying to have a nice time and Andrew is just reeling over Claire.
    BUT something tells me that Jack will soon know that Claire was not happy with her husband, and in turn Andrew might hear that little tidbit...which of course would give him some much needed confidence....which might...aww well I should just read the next chapter eh? ;)

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    1. Oh, he is! In fact, in my game he goes by the name of "Friendly", no kidding! LOL

      Claire finds comfort in every little step she takes.

      Poor Andrew, he was quite the party killer this time, right? Hehe.

      As you've already seen, Chapter 17 answers those questions to some extent ;-), so I won't add anything else.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

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  15. Man, Andrew is hot. He wears that hat so well. And that last shot, so deep in thought, yum yum yum! I just want to eat him up.

    Claire no longer wearing her ring is a good thing for both of them, she's obviously ready to leave her past behind, but it would serve Andrew well to take things at her pace.

    I found the girl's conversation charming, I think Ethel's good for Claire, she always finds a way to make Claire see things from a different angle.

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    1. Hehe, he is... rather... HOT, isn't he?

      Her not wearing her wedding ring could be a good thing, but not necessarily. Is she just leaving her past behind, or just plainly escaping from it? ;-)

      Oh, Ethel is a good influence for Claire, as outspoken and sensitive as she is.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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  16. Claire needs to talk about this with her friend. It seems she may be able to. I do think that Ethel is more observant than maybe Claire realises. Poor Andrew.

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    1. Hmm, Ethel might be more observant than she looks, yes... There's no way for Claire to tell, though.

      Thank you so much for reading.

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  17. I'm glad that Claire finally somewhat opened up about her marriage to someone. Now if Ethel would just share that little tidbit with Andrew. . .

    I couldn't help but chuckle at Andrew through the whole chapter. And then at the end when his friends helped him realize that she wasn't wearing her wedding ring. . .deep thoughts. lol. :D

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    1. If Claire would just tell her friend everything...! *sighs*

      And, nope, she's not wearing her wedding ring, I wonder what that might mean... ;-P

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  18. Ah Andrew, you're drunk in love! ::runs around singing some Beyonce::

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  19. Little by little things evolve, signs are given, both parts in this love story are starting to talk their hearts out, and there is a web of people around their affair already, slowly knitting the threads that will lead to... I wonder. "If only she could avoid hurting Andrew in the long run..." Claire knows she can't. Her secrets will hurt Andrew, even if that is not her intention, because she is hurt herself, and hiding, or trying to hide... "Hurt people hurt other people", albeit unintentionally.

    But what got me really wondering -- what if, instead of seeing Claire and Ethel wearing trousers, and so happy and feeling 'modern' about it, we had seen Andrew and Jack wearing skirts instead? The world would have been a more comfortable place, I am guessing -- because I have never tried a skirt myself. The world has gone round, women can dress like men, but it still is unthinkable to see men wearing skirts. So often I hear from my woman friends in the corporate world that, when they have a meeting or presentation that regard as especially serious or important, they will use trousers. Of course, we cannot know the "ifs" of history, but often times I wonder...

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    1. Sometimes we hurt people the most when we don't mean to hurt, and it's very sad that Claire should think so :-(.

      As for men wearing skirts, well, that would be interesting! Trousers are much more comfortable than skirts, though: that I can tell you ;-).

      Thanks for reading.

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