"No, the awkward moment came later. I remained hidden behind the dividing wall and watched them finish. I don't mind telling you I was at first fascinated, and not a little aroused by what I saw. To see so much love in Godfrey's face when he was with his friend."
Mary recalled the look on John's face when he had called Mr. Holmes's name and knew that she had seen the same. In fact, she realized now that traces of the same expression flitted across his features whenever he mentioned Mr. Holmes in conversation. She never had a chance.
"May I ask what you did in the aftermath, Mrs. Norton?" Mary asked as she again brought the teacup to her lips.
"Please, call me Irene. I hope you do not think it strange when I tell you I do feel as though we have met before, though I cannot now place your name." She returned to her seat next to Mary.
"Mary. Mary Watson," she returned. There was indeed something familiar about Irene. "Did you confront your husband?"
After a while, yes. I was still very much in love, and told him I was willing to bring Eduard into our bedroom if it meant I could keep a happy marriage. But marriages aren't meant for three people. It was soon painfully evident that this was not to be." Irene sipped her tea thoughtfully.
"But you know," she continued, "I could never see him as vile or despicable for such acts as he was inclined to commit. Goodness knows Godfrey was hurting, too, torn between what society and myself expected of him and what he felt in his heart. I forgave him and we parted ways, he sailed for Greece with Eduard and I returned to England to resume my stage career. I feel no hatred or bitterness now. I simply married the wrong person."
She placed her hand on Mary's arm and cast her jeweled eyes on her face with kind sympathy. "You mustn't blame yourself, Mary. Your husband is who he is."
Mary nodded, and dabbed her fresh tears with her napkin. "I wanted to be everything to him," she whispered.
"Was he everything to you?" Irene asked, wiping a tear from Mary's cheek.
"No, I cannot in all honesty say that he was," she sniffed.
Irene gently placed her hand over Mary's heart. "I've no doubt there is something more for you in this life," she said, and she cupped Mary's cheek in her hand.
"It won't always hurt so," she said, and in the next moment her sumptuous lips were on top of Mary's. They were full and sweet and Mary kissed her back in earnest.