Two weeks later, after discussing a good date with each other and Martha Matheson, John McClure and Beatrice were married at the Matheson home. It was a small affair. Only family and a few personal friends were invited. Beatrice looked lovely in a topaz gold silk dress. It also came off her shoulders, but the gown was less simple than the copper one in that it was beaded along the hem and neckline with golden beads and pearls.
McClure had only kissed her hand or her cheek since their engagement party, so when he kissed her as his bride at the end of the ceremony, it was nice. He seemed a bit unsure of himself as he did it. She hoped that she hadn’t wounded his manly pride too much with her ruse, . Perhaps he was just a bit embarrassed to kiss her in front of family and friends. Nevertheless, he seemed sincere when taking his vows, even uncharacteristically solemn. Beatrice had meant every word of hers.
They had decided to forego a honeymoon, since McClure claimed he was swamped with books to edit and read. Beatrice thought it was really because he had Borden to train to do spy work. He was taking a few days off though. To keep up appearances, he told her. Secretly, she hoped that he just wanted to get to know her more.
The wedding festivities flew by, and in no time she was being escorted by her husband to the front door of his home. It was a lovely Federal-style home on the outside, but she’d never been inside of it. He surprised her by picking her up in his arms and carrying her over the mantle. She didn’t think that he would be so sentimental. It took her by surprise, but then again it might be one of his “keeping up appearances” things.
He put her down and kissed her forehead. Then he told her that he was going to bring her trunks in. He didn’t ask where to put them, so she was curious as to what he would do. Would they have a conventional marriage where they shared a room, or one where she slept in her own quarters? As he started lugging them up the stairs, he told her that there was some cold chicken and other vittles in the ice box for their evening meal. Apparently her Mother’s housekeeper had been ordered by her Mother to prepare it and bring it by McClure’s house.
McClure forgot to tell her where the kitchen was, so she wandered through an elegant dining room before she found it. The light was dimming in the sky, but she could see well enough to light a couple of candles so she could prepare the chicken, pickled beets, and boiled potatoes for them to eat. She decided to serve them at the small kitchen table. She was putting a candlestick between their settings when McClure came in.
“Is it alright to eat in here?” she asked. “It seemed right for tonight. More cozy.”
“Yes, quite alright. Quite alright,” he said, sitting down.
So they ate while chatting about the day, how everyone looked, including herself, and the sweet or ignorant things that people said to them. They laughed over the antics of Neva, and the austere calculations of Martha Matheson. The conversation continued as they cleaned up after the meal. McClure insisted on washing the dishes, while she dried. He took off his jacket, and undid his tie and collar. He also took off his vest, and rolled up his sleeves revealing his coppery forearms. Beatrice hoped that she was convincing as her role in the patient, but uninterested wife. Because, really, she was very curious about all things concerning her new husband. Another ruse. She was growing weary of them.
About an hour after getting home, he escorted her up the stairs. She saw her trunks in the hallway, and looked at him quizically.
“I wasn’t sure where you wanted them,” he said, gently touching her face with his hand. “I was wanting to see how long you would keep up your little charade. Just how badly do you want to beat me at my own game, Trixie?”
“Ah, yes,” he told her. “I noticed.”
“What did you notice?” she asked, not wanting to give in yet.
“I wondered what your game was when you wanted to work for me, but then you never flirted or threw yourself at me, so I doubted my initial instincts. However, when you were sleeping one time, you called me “John” and then apparently in your dream I did something that made you call me a wicked man.”
He wrapped his hand behind her head and fondled the nape of her neck. She swallowed, but kept her face passive. He smiled knowingly, as he noticed her neck getting splotchy from blushing. She said nothing, though.
“I made it a goal to attempt to get you to call me that as often as possible. I was rather successful, wouldn’t you say?”
He kissed her temple.
“Y-yes,” she stuttered.
“I think we both know that Martha Matheson knew what you were up to. At first, I think she thought you were a foolish girl for putting your reputation on the line as you did. I just thought you daft, but you aren’t. Are you, darling?”
She said nothing again. Clever, he thought. The best way to get what you want from someone is to say nothing until they spill it out. But he had no reservations. He’d been waiting for this moment for two weeks now. He kissed her mouth, sweetly and slowly. Her breath shuddered just a little. It was enough to give him courage to go on, because he still hadn’t been fully convinced that she had been playing a game with him. He liked games though.
“Wicked woman,” he whispered to her.
She squinted her eyes and furrowed her brow at him. And looked ready to protest, but he put his finger over her lips and shushed her.
“Now, it was quite a blow to my pride to have you claim that my kisses were powerless to effect you. It was also such a curiousity to me that I spent the night pacing, putting together facts. You knew that I would feel sorry for you, because of having to live with your mother. You knew that if you got me relieved that you weren’t really proposing marriage, that you could get me to hire you. But you were suggesting that, weren’t you, Ol’ Trix?”
“I really wish you would stop calling me old,” was her reply.
“Alright then, TRIXIE. That definitely suits you, you wily minx. All this time you’ve been playing the simpleton, and toying with my emotions. You’ve been playing my game quite well. What clued me in was one fleeting moment after I kissed you that second time after our engagement party. It didn’t sit well with me that you didn’t feel one iota of the passion that was beginning to stir in me. So I thought about it good and hard, and recalled that for a small space of time, I saw a spark in your eyes. You did a good job suppressing it, and showing an insulting amount of boredom. It threw me for a loop for probably 4 hours, until I remembered that tiny spark.”
“What makes you think you aren’t imagining it still?”
“Wicked, little minx of a Trixie.”
And then he kissed her like that night two weeks ago, except with even less reservation. He put true heart and passion into his kissing her. He released her suddenly.
“There! There it is!” he exclaimed, pointing at her face.
She had schooled her features incredibly fast. He knew he had seen it, but she only shrugged. He kissed her again, just as thoroughly. This time he was more than a little breathless. He didn’t push her away this time, only broke free enough to breathe. There was a mere inch or two between their lips. He saw her freckles on her nose. This time he found them to be adorable.
“You’re a fool, John McClure,” she said, equally breathless. “I merely got you to kiss me six times.”
“Seven,” he countered. “Don’t forget the one from ten years ago. Although at that time I didn’t get quite as much pleasure from it as I do now. You have improved with age, you ugly baboon.”
“You are wicked man, John McClure,” she exclaimed, pushing at his chest.
He laughed out loud, throwing his head back. Beatrice loved that about him.
“John,” she finally gave in. “You do know that I’ve always loved you, don’t you?”
“Yes, haven’t you figured out that I love you back yet?”
“What? Since when?”
“I’ve always loved you. First as someone I should protect at the tender age of 18, who looked nothing like an ugly baboon.”
“Protector? I thought you were just trying to make me feel better.”
“You don’t remember young Wallace sporting a black eye for a couple of weeks after that party?”
“Why, yes? You mean, that was you? You did that? I always thought Rand had.”
“I got there first,” McClure fiercely said. “Then I loved you as a friend. You were always such a gentle traveling companion for Shae and I. I had no idea you had such a fire inside you. I rather like it, by the way.”
“You do?” she asked, wonderously.
“It keeps me on my toes,” he admitted. “I know that I am a difficult man, Trixie. I can’t imagine what it will be like for you to be married to me. Just give me trouble, won’t you?”
“It can be tiring, but it is rather fun.”
He laughed again. Then kissed her gently.
“I do love you now, but in a different way, Trixie. In a different way. I love you as a man loves a woman. And you are a strong woman, kind and determined—”
“Not daft?” she offered.
“Definitely not daft. You are a woman that will easily become my bestest friend. You are the only woman I want in my life. You are the one I want to spend my life with, my darling trickster.”
He kissed her again, with all of the feelings that he had inside of him that were beginning to grow.
“Trixie,” he whispered, his forehead leaning upon hers.
“Yes?” she asked.
“Will you make me a batch of those biscuits in the morning?”
She pushed at his chest.
“Wicked man! You always push too far.”
“Can I be your wicked man for the rest of our lives? Can we have children that I can raise to be wicked also?”
She laughed at that, and blushed. Her neck got all splotchy. He thought it was cute.
The next morning, Beatrice put a plate of her beloved biscuits in front of her husband, as well as platter of bacon and eggs. McClure rubbed his hands together, and helped himself.
“You know, Trixie. Your biscuits are the real reason that I married you.”
He was hoping that she would call him a wicked man again, and then kiss him like she did upon waking this morning. He loved married life. He felt like a king. He waited for the words to leave her lips, only he was to receive the shock of his life.
“McClure, do you think I would make a good spy too?”
He dropped his biscuit onto his plate.