Grace A. Johnson
featured story: not unrequited love by hannah foster
I just adore this sweet romance! Not only does it include one of my favorite tropes (governess x father romance), it's also full of hope! I hope y'all enjoy Not Unrequited Love by Hannah Foster as much as I did!
Allison Walker leaned her head back against the interior of the train trying to regain composure. She slouched down just outside of the compartment where she was supposed to be watching four rambunctious children but from whom a moment ago she had fled. She took a few slow breaths trying to steady her worn nerves. She had been governess for wealthy Mr. Glenwood’s four children for three years now, but never had she felt so exhausted and frazzled as she did now.
Rubbing her pounding head, her gaze drifted out the window to the speedily passing trees and landscape. She closed her eyes when she found looking out the window only made her more dizzy. Four children all under eleven-years-old weren’t too hard to manage or care for at home, but going on vacation with the family became a whole new story. But that wasn’t the real problem…
The train jolted to the left and she clutched at her stomach, then at her head. She didn’t know which one was worse at the moment, a nauseous stomach or a pounding headache. Both were the products of a rolling train. She hadn’t known trains made her sick until now. But that wasn’t the real problem either.
All of these troubles, in fact, seemed quite mild compared to the actual problem.
The real trouble is that she had fallen in love.
She was never supposed to have fallen in love. But most especially not with the sorrowful, sober Mr. Glenwood. When she had taken the position of governess, she took it knowing it would be near impossible to fall in love with the father of the children. And that was how she wanted it. If she worked for a serious sort of man who was impossible to fall in love with she would not have to worry about her heart being broken twice. Once had been quite enough. Her plan had almost been successful too. For almost three years. Almost.
Running a hand through her straight blonde hair, Allison inwardly groaned. She tried to remember when and where the change first took place, but she couldn’t put her finger on any one instant. It could have been the time Mr. Glenwood had defended her against an angry, hungry goose determined to snatch her lunch from her. But that hadn’t been very romantic though it was gentlemanly of him. Or it could have been the time he carried her back to the house after she sprained her ankle, falling from a horse. That had been more romantic, but she had been in too much pain to think about her feelings. Maybe it was when he taught her how to shoot a rifle. Or after she killed her first wild animal then burst into tears. He had comforted her with his strong arms wrapped around her shaking shoulders, and that had been more romantic. But she didn’t think it was any of those moments. Not specifically anyway.
Maybe it was simply one big mistake to join the family on their vacation in the first place. But she knew it wasn’t even that. Something had already changed before then. Maybe it was the kind of love that just slowly creeps into your heart, and you don’t even realize it’s there till it’s too late. And too late it was.
A compartment door opened and closed, and Allison hoped it wasn’t hers. She wasn’t ready to go back yet.
A hand gently rested on her shoulder and Allison swallowed back a moan. She didn’t need to look to know it was Mr. Glenwood.
“I had hoped this would be a vacation for you just as much as it was for us, but I fear you’ve worked too hard again.” His voice was deep and kind, and a little too concerned.
“Oh, no, Mr. Glenwood.” Allison shook her head emphatically to add emphasis. “It’s not that at all I assure you.”
He removed his hand a second later, but squatted down beside her. “What is it then? The children? They’re all asleep now.”
Two slow breaths filled her lungs. “My head. It’s been pounding so fiercely ever since we got on the train.” It wasn’t the real reason she’d had to bolt, but it was certainly part of the reason.
A smile flickered across his face, and Allison realized she had been seeing that fleeting smile a lot lately. Why had she not noticed it sooner? That would have been a good indication it was time to find a new post. Before her heart could be broken for the second time.
He studied her for a moment. “Trains make you sick, huh?”
Allison nodded. “I guess so.”
He didn’t say anything for several seconds, but his piercing gaze was too penetrating for comfort.
“Is that all?” He asked judiciously.
She responded with a shake of her head. “Not quite.”
Allison held her breath, hoping he would ask no more questions.
His gaze drifted out the window, and she noticed that the quickly passing scenery didn’t bother him the way it had her. “The children are quiet now, and I think you’ll find the compartment a little more comfortable than out here in the passageway if you want to come back.”
If only he knew how comforting she actually found this solitary passageway. Relinquishing her own feelings, she nodded and followed him back to the children, taking a seat once more. All four children were sitting on one bench, their heads resting on each other as they slept peacefully. Mr. Glenwood and herself sat on the other side, quiet, erect, and alert, busy with their own thoughts.
Leaning her head back, she closed her eyes in hopes that sleep would claim her restless brain. Her head wobbled to one side, but that wasn’t very comfortable so she tried the other. Finding that to be no better, she tried leaning her head straight back. Still it was awkward enough to keep her from dozing off.
Slowly opening her eyes again, she found Mr. Glenwood looking at her with an amused smile on his face.
She didn’t find the situation very amusing herself, and closed her eyes again.
Mr. Glenwoods’s voice suddenly broke into the steady clinking of the train. “You can rest your head on my shoulder…if you want.” It was said so quietly, she almost missed it altogether.
Her lids flew open, and she stared briefly at him.
“You're exhausted and don’t feel good. I know it’s not quite what they call proper, but if it would help you sleep, I don’t mind, and the rest of the world doesn’t have a say in the matter.” He ended there and shrugged nonchalantly as if it wouldn’t affect him one way or the other.
Allison glanced at the children who were all sound asleep. If she had a place to rest her head, she could sleep too. It sounded perfectly delightful and inviting. She seriously considered agreeing when she remembered her biggest problem. Sleeping on his shoulder would definitely not make that problem go away.
She set her lips with determination. “I’ll be fine.” No one would catch her sleeping on her boss's shoulder. No one would catch her falling in love either.
Closing her eyes once more, she shifted into the most comfortable position possible and waited hopelessly for sleep to overtake her.
Allison slowly awoke with a fuzzy brain, but thankfully a less pounding headache. She frowned, feeling something both soft and solid underneath her head. Opening her groggy eyes, she lifted her head, and looked around only to find herself gazing right back at Mr. Glenwood, a disconcerting look on his face.
“I wasn’t sleeping on you, was I?” she asked, horror stealing into her quivering voice.
He turned his gaze away, but responded just as quietly. “Would that really be so bad?” There was an unnerving amount of intensity in his voice and words.
Allison swallowed the lump in her throat. It was too obvious she had slept on his shoulder, and he had no idea just how awful it was.
She sat rigidly upright, her eyes directly focused in front of her on the children still sound asleep, except for the oldest. Pressing her lips together in a thin line, she waited for the floor to open and swallow her. She could not have feelings for her boss. She couldn’t. She had learned her lesson from her last mistake, and told herself she would never do it again.
A stifled squeak escaped her lips, and suddenly Allison bolted from her seat and out of the compartment as quickly as her feet would carry her. Out in the passageway, she sank once more to the floor where only the sound of the rumbling train kept her company. She meant to stay there alone, but it wasn’t to be.
A gentle hand rested on her bowed shoulders a moment later. “Allison?”
She couldn’t get her voice to speak, so she sat there mutely, her head ducked down in her hands where any blushing cheeks would be hidden.
“Allison, are you really so sick or is it something else?” Concern etched into his voice, and for the first time she noticed his addressing her by her first name.
Oh, if only he knew just how sick, and what kind of sick she was. He wouldn’t be standing over her worried. He would be sending her on her way. Well, if he hadn’t figured it out yet, she wouldn’t wait around for him to. She would start looking for a new post, and put in her notice as soon as they got back.
“Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?” His voice was so sweet and so tender it almost made her cry right there on the floor. Why couldn’t he be that stern fellow she first met?
Her breath hitched in her throat as his arm stole around her shoulders. Though her brain screamed for her to resist she found herself resting against him instead. In the most comforting and heart-rending way.
“There is nothing…nothing you can do. Just leave me.” The words escaped her lips in a most unconvincing manner as her heart continued to roll and twist with unwelcomed feelings.
I can’t love him, her head screamed. I know what happens when I fall in love. My heart gets broken because he won’t love me back. I’m just his employee. Just an orphan girl with no connection. Oh, I cannot love him. I can’t.
“I love you too much to leave you,” a deep soothing voice replied.
Allison suddenly jerked her head up. His words had softly, slowly drifted through the clanging noise in her head. She attempted to silence the turmoil of her heart, as her eyes searched his.
“What did you say?” she asked with a timid urgency in her voice.
His hand rose to her face, and cradled her chin in his palm. “I said I love you too much to leave you.” He paused as if letting the truth sink into her weary soul. “Whatever you're going through, won’t you let me in. We’ve let you into our home and hearts, yet I don’t think you’ve quite let us into yours.”
Edward Glenwood stared at the blonde beauty beside him. How had she so quietly snuck her way into his heart? He had been so determined to not love again. His deceased wife would be the only woman he ever cared about. But that was before he met Allison. Kind, quiet Allison who gave up her life to love and devotedly serve his children each day.
He could never quite figure out her background. Only that she had been a governess at another post and left on good terms. That was all he really knew. But something in her pale green eyes told of a deeper, sadder story. Maybe love unrequited?
But that idea had not been enough to stop him from confessing how he really felt about her.
He waited for a response, his own heart pulsing irregularly. Waiting to know if he had made a fool of himself for speaking as she stared at him, a startled appearance in her gaze.
“What do you mean?” she asked softly, almost hopefully but rather more doubtfully. “What kind of love?”
Edward creased his brow. “What kind of love? Why, the kind that wants to marry you. What other kind would I be speaking of?” This was not the place or time he had ever planned on admitting it, but it had slipped out, and he must go all the way.
A laugh that almost sounded like a cry, broke from her lips and Edward wondered if she was going crazy.
“Platonic love maybe. That’s the only kind anyone ever had for me,” and another unsettling laugh cracked, then her face suddenly became very sober again. Almost pleadingly, she said, “You really mean it?”
Edward never said anything he didn’t mean and especially not on the topic of love and marriage. But for some reason there was true doubt in her eyes, and he had to convince her he really did mean it.
“I could not possibly be any more serious.” He pulled her a little closer, his brown eyes roaming her face. “Will it take a kiss to persuade you, my dear?”
A slow smile lit up her eyes. “I think it might.”
Leaning closer, Edward sealed the promise, his lips on hers. For her to remember forever and ever that he did not joke about love.
“Daddy, are you going to marry Miss Allison?”
Edward pulled back and winked at his four-year-old daughter, Annie May, who was peeking out at them with wide eyes. “If she’ll let me, I’ll marry her as soon as we get back.” His gaze returned to Allison questioningly, since she had not actually given him a vocal answer yet. Though he thought the kiss may be answer enough.
“Like today as soon as we get back?” Allison arched her brows, a smile playing on her lips.
He inclined his head thoughtfully. “Well, let’s say two days from now. That will give us some time to get things in order.”
Allison nodded soberly. “I think I can do that.”
“There’s nothing, or no one to stop you?” It was his turn to doubt for just a moment.
“Nothing,” she answered fervently.
He would have kissed her again, but in time remembered he had a four-year-old daughter watching and thought better of it. Rising to his feet, he held his hand out to Allison and pulled her up with him.
“What do you think, Annie May, of Miss Allison being your new mother?”
The little girl squealed in reply, and flung her arms out to Allison. Allison laughed and picked the girl up in her arms, hugging her tight.
“And I will be just as delighted to be your mother.”
Edward wrapped an arm around both and smiled down at them. “I think in many ways you’ve already been their mother, but I’m glad we can make it official.”
Then the news had to be broken to the rest of the children, and there was no more quiet. But at least Edward could put his arm around Allison while they discussed the upcoming changes. She didn’t resist this time, but let her head find a resting place against him. And he found that he liked it there very much.
Allison soaked up this moment to savor for a very long time. Even the chatter of the children didn’t bother her as it had earlier. Her headache had somehow miraculously disappeared. Nausea no longer twisted her gut. Her head was no longer trying to convince her heart not to fall in love. And she found resting in his love to be a very peaceful and pleasant place to be. It was a very beautiful thing to be loved back when all she had ever known was unrequited love.
about the author
Hannah Foster was born and raised in North Carolina where she was homeschooled with her eight siblings. She attended college in Minnesota where she got her bachelor’s degree in literature, learned to survive temperatures of below zero, and became Mrs. Foster. From a young age, Hannah has loved reading. Throughout her teen years, she also enjoyed journaling and blogging, but it wasn’t till her mid-twenties that she discovered her love for penning her own stories. Hannah’s desire is that the words she writes would bring hope and light in a dark world. Besides reading and writing, she also enjoys baking, watercolor painting, tennis, and all things vintage.
Connect with her at hannahfosterwrites.wordpress.com!
Wasn't that just lovely?! *melts* I absolutely loved this story and Hannah's other short stories, which y'all can check out HERE!
Have you ever experienced unrequited love? Are you a sucker for father x governess romances too? Let me know in the comments!