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Five years after the death of her husband, Penelope Hampson meets Jeremy Gilbert at a party, and the attraction between them is just so intense. Four months later, things had moved really fast between them and Penny is so much in love with Jeremy... And Jeremy loves her too—well, at least he says he does. But the problem is that Jeremy could not.... Or would not ask her to marry him. He seems to want the whole relationship package—Except the responsibility. ------------------ The thirst that kisses could not quench.... Was Jeremy right? Should Penny give in to his demands. The attraction between them had now grown into a throbbing, scorching flame of desire. She could no longer be satisfied with just those passionate, disturbing kisses. And Jeremy was a man. He wanted more —much more —than kisses.
Penelope Hampson —more commonly known to her friends as Penny —fitted the key into the door of her little flat and stepped across the threshold into the miniature hall. The door slammed behind her in the sudden draught startling her out of a day dream. She walked into the sitting room and viewed the unlit fire, shivering. The closed door and the chill of the room seemed to drain all the warmth from her body —and suddenly that other, special, golden warmth —from her heart.
Hurriedly she took off her coat, knelt down and put a match to the newspaper. She watched the flames gathering as the kindling caught, then the coal. She spread out her hands to the little blaze and tried to recapture the feeling of happiness —the glow she had felt when she was with Jeremy Gilbert during lunch. But it had gone. Her large brown eyes clouded. She sank into an armchair, feeling a sudden pang of acute loneliness.
Her first thought just now had been — we can't get all the coal we want these days. I must be more careful....
Then all those thoughts save those connected with Jeremy vanished.
It was always like this when she was not actually with him. As soon as she was alone, doubts, worries, panic crowded into her mind destroying all the force of his persuasions, his reasoning, her own longing to comply with his wishes.
She closed her eyes and rested her head against the back of the chair.
"Oh, Jeremy, Jeremy!" she whispered. "if only I loved you less"
"If you really loved me as much as you say you do, you wouldn't hesitate!" Jeremy had said
Was he right? Was she being unnecessarily old fashioned? Prudish? Many of her friends nowadays had had or were having affairs; nor could she excuse her reluctance to do as Jeremy wished because she had relations, friends who might be affected by her actions. No, there was nothing to stop her but her own feelings in the matter....she had doubts.
Restlessly, Penny rose from her chair and wandered into her bedroom. It was a pretty room — furnished simply but with taste and originality. Her home was the pride of Penny's life and usually a quick glance around it would give her a steady glow of satisfaction. But not today. Ever since she realized that she was in love with Jeremy she knew that there was something missing from her home. His coat, his cap, and most of all himself.
"I was lucky to find this place" she told herself, studying the soft peach colored walls and matching bedcover and curtains.
But she couldn't destroy the steadily increasing desolation that was gathering her into a cloud of depression. Nothing could destroy it. No one could remove it but Jeremy. And Jeremy could not... Or would not ask her to marry him.
Could not, or would not. Perhaps a little of each. For one thing, Jeremy was being released from the Air force in a few months time and had no civilian job to go to. His father had offered him a job in his company, but Jeremy didn't want that. He could not afford to get married... And yet, did he want to marry her?
Penny was not altogether convinced that he did. He loved her. She was more or less sure of that, but the question remained —did he love you enough to give up his much prized freedom for her? Was that the reason he did not ask her to marry him, or did Jeremy genuinely feel that he had no right to ask her until he could afford to marry her?
Yet he must have known from her careful hints that she would not mind living precariously for a while. After all, she was earning quite good money as an artist doing illustrations for children's books. She could well afford to keep herself and pay the rent of this small flat with a little to spare. If Jeremy wanted a job in town, they could go on living here and it was a well known fact that two could live as cheaply as one.
Penny flung her coat and hat on the bed, and went back to the sitting room. She stared at her phone. She wanted to call him. She wanted to hear Jeremy's voice warm, loving and reassuring. But she hesitated, nevertheless.
Sometimes he was busy in the office and although he always told her that he was thrilled to hear her voice, she had sensed a faint withdrawal in his tone. She had become too sensitive lately to every remark he made, so over eager to be reassured of his love, that even so indefinite a slight could send her into a fresh panic, fresh despair.
"I'm a bundle of nerves!" Penny reproved herself. "I have got to snap out of this or something is going to fall to pieces inside me.
Penny opened the large cardboard folder she had dropped by the armchair, and spread the sheets of drawing paper on her table. She picked up a manuscript and read it through without understanding what she read. Her mind was concentrated exclusively on Jeremy, on the problem of what she would say to him next time he asked her......
"We can't go on as we are, darling!" he had said. "its far too much of a strain on both of us"
Penny knew that he was right. Neither of them were satisfied any longer with a long good night embrace, snatched handclasps in crowded places, passionate, unsettling, kisses.
Since they had met four months ago, they had covered a good deal of ground, and the instant spark of attraction that had flared between them the moment they had met had inevitably grown into a burning, searing flame of desire.
Something virginal in Penny's make up shied at the very word. She knew it was stupid and yet she could not help that instinctive curling up inside herself at the sound of it. To Penny, sex and love between men and women were beautiful things requiring no verbal expression. Or if it must be talked about, then bravely, frankly but sensitively.
Although it had been five years ago, Penny still remembered in detail every second of that brief, bitter sweet time with her husband, Howard Hampson. They had gotten married early. She had been twenty one, and they had grown up together, their families living next door to one another.
Their marriage had been fine... Until Howard died in a car accident a year later.
"Perhaps" Penny thought, "If I had known what it meant to love and be loved I should not feel as I do about Jeremy"
She knew now that her love for Howard, although real and sincere, had nevertheless been immature, now at twenty seven, she had really fallen in love completely and absolutely. There had been no one since Howard partly because she hadn't taken several years to recover from the shock of his death, partly because she could never be satisfied with a light, casual flirtation. It must be love or nothing for her —always. And now Jeremy had come into her life, confirming her instinctive belief that it was worth waiting for the real thing.
A smile touched the corner of her lips as she relived their first meeting. It had been at a literary cocktail party. Jeremy's father was a well known novelists and he had taken Jeremy along with him for the experience and interest it might afford him. The publisher
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