“Henry what on earth are you doing?!”
The sight of Henry on one knee before her was slightly comical to Mary’s eyes.
“It’s not meant to be funny! I need to do this before my knees lock and you have to hoist me up.”
“Henry are you completely mad?”
“Probably, but I have a little speech rehearsed so shush and let me get on with it.”
Mary looked suitably chastened and waited for Henry’s speech.
“Mary… darling. When we decided to get married it was such a rush…”
“Well you were desperate to get me into bed!”
“Mary!” A sheepish look crossed Henry’s lips, “Actually that’s quite true.”
“I knew it!” She laughed.
“Stop it! I’m trying to be serious.”
“Really? I hadn’t…” Mary thought better of making another joke at Henry’s expense.
“Where was I? Oh yes. You never got a proper proposal or even an engagement ring. So that is why I am on my knee, getting arthritis.”
Mary smiled with delight.
“Henry you are such a romantic.”
“And you are a chatterbox. Stop interrupting! Mary I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life making you happy. Will you accept this ring as a symbol of my love?”
He offered her the most stunning combination of gold, sapphires and diamonds she had ever seen.
Mary tapped her fingers to her lips and pretended to be deep in thought.
“Aren’t you about 20 years too late?”
“Well. Ow!” He grimaced, “Mind if I get up?” She held out a hand to help. “I think it was George’s engagement to Letitia that brought it all back to me.”
“I was right – you really are an old romantic!”
“To be honest it made me think about our wedding as well. Everything happened so fast. I know it was my fault but it couldn’t have been quicker even if Robert had chased me up the aisle with a shotgun!”
Henry held Mary’s hand and pressed it to his lips.
“You don’t regret marrying me do you? I know I’m not what you wanted.”
She studied her husband, still handsome despite the grey in his hair, and concluded, as she always did, that he was exactly what she wanted.
“Well of course I would have preferred a Lord or something but I suppose you can’t have everything. Sir Henry Talbot is alright I suppose.” She saw his face fall. “Oh Henry you are so easy to tease! I have no regrets – not one. Have you? I haven’t been easy to live with over the years.”
“Of course not. You’ve given me three wonderful children,” he suppressed a smirk, “and lots of sex.”
Mary shook her head and smiled. The fact that Henry had always considered George to be one of his own children almost made her overlook his last quip, but in the end she couldn’t resist saying,
“Yes well I’m quite sure that sex with a Lord would be so much better!”
Henry raised his eyebrows, “Really?”
Mary blushed and looked at her feet. “Maybe not.”
He leant to kiss her, “Really?”
“Definitely not,” she breathed as his kiss woke up every part of her body. “I love you more than ever.”
“Well that's a relief because I love you too - more than you can possibly imagine. So do you want this ring or shall I take it back to the jewellers?”
“Well it would be a shame to waste it. It is Valentine’s day after all.”