How to Impress a Gentleman (18 page)

BOOK: How to Impress a Gentleman
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Encircling her waist, he drew her in for a deliciously slow kiss. Running kisses along the nape of her neck and collar bone, he deftly unfastened each button down the back of her gown. Charles ached for her. Each piece of flesh revealed was kissed, licked, touched.

She shivered in ecstasy. The anticipation was causing him to shake slightly. He wanted to feel close to Linnie, as he had on their first night together. He wanted her to cling to him, to show him she needed him as much as he needed her.

Sinking to the rug, Lindsay lay back, her arms behind her head, grinning like a cat full of cream. She seemed content to be here, so petted. It frustrated him. How many buttons could one dress have? Finally, success! Pulling the gauzy blue fabric from her shoulders, he slid it beneath her and tossed the gown away.

She wore minimal underclothes. No corset, he knew, for he had helped her dress for dinner. The intimacy made him shiver. He had never dressed and undressed a woman. Completing daily routines with Lindsay was as new to him as it was to her. He was glad. Although she was not his first lover, he liked having her be his first and only intimate partner.

He quickly pulled her chemise over her head and her bloomers came off moments after. Lindsay laughed at being tousled around and then grew still at the intensity of her lover’s gaze. As the fire light ran along her body in flattering bursts of light and shadow, she felt golden, firm, and soft all over. It was a delicious feeling. Her nipples hardened and her breath came in short pants.

“Won’t you join me, My Lord?” she asked in a heady whisper.

Charles lowered his length next to hers, slipping out of his open vest. Lindsay slowly began unbuttoning his simple shirt sleeves. As it opened, she leaned in to press her lips against his collarbone. Why, her Apollo’s chest had a bronze tone and smooth texture. He had been kissed by the sun.

Curious as to how much of his body had been exposed to the caress of the sun’s rays, she fingered the strings to his breeches. Pushing them past his hips, she noticed that his skin was definitely paler. So, he had not been running about in the nude. What a pity. The image made her chuckle.

“What?” he queried, disconcerted by her mirth.

“I see you haven’t been naked in the sun My Lord, only gallivanting about with your shirt off. It makes a new bride wonder about your recent activities.”

Charles stiffened, then forced himself to relax. “Ha,” he chuckled. You will never get me to talk about other women, lying abed with you. Besides, it was my time in the navy that burnished my skin. Nothing so salacious as you would think.”

“But why can you not speak of other loves, we are not abed, My Lord!”

“There may have been other women, but no other ‘loves’. Lindsay, for me, there is no other. The day of our first kiss was the day I forgot all other women exist. I love you, Lindsay. I have never loved another and I never will.”

It was Lindsay’s turn to stiffen. If he truly understood the depth of that emotion, Charles would have never abandoned her to deal with the likes of her father alone. Yet, she hoped that the sentiment he expressed, as superficial as it might be, was sincere. She dared not destroy the moment by questioning him about it.

Instead, Lindsay leaned in to kiss Charles with warm affection. Her tongue ran along his cheek and invited him to plunder her mouth. Charles’ tongue probed in and out, mimicking the mating act. He trailed kisses along her jaw line and onto her collar bone.

“Wait!” Lindsay called breathlessly.

“What? Did I do something wrong? Did I hurt your neck?” Charles asked, loosening his grip on the back of her head.

“No. It is just...I want you to tell me why you left five years ago, without so much as a by-your-leave.”

“Can we speak of this another time?” Charles asked, leaning in to capture Linnie’s mouth in a kiss.

Turning her head, she refused. “Nay, we speak of it now.”

Sighing, Charles leaned his forehead into Linnie’s. “I did not wish to leave you. I did try my best for your mother. Let us leave it at that, for now.”

Tears slid down Lindsay’s cheeks and Charlie kissed them away. Pushing her down onto the rug. Charles peered down at his lovely wife. Her plump breasts, tipped with dusky peaks, were being caressed by the dancing shadows of the fire. His hand reached to trace their wicked path and she shivered.

“Lindsay, you are my right arm, my left brain, and my whole heart. Without you, I am half a person. Without you, I am not fully alive.”

She smiled, leaning her head to the side and surrendering to the sensation of his touch. Charles ran his fingers down her torso, tracing her navel and leaning in to kiss along her ribs. Lindsay pulled his shirt from him and tossed it upon her chemise. The moist cool of the night air and the dry heat of the fire swirled upon his skin, setting goose bumps to rise in delicious titillation. His ardor grew as Lindsay ran her hands up and down his lean torso. When she began to tug at his gaping breeches, Charles took matters well in hand.

Standing, he quickly pushed them down his muscled thighs and stepped from them, as his wife knelt to pull down his hose. Sitting beside her on the hearth rug, he pulled Linnie onto his lap and rained kisses upon her milky shoulder. Giggling, she wiggled her bare bottom against his manhood and he growled with the intensity of his arousal.

Charles wrapped his hands about her waist and, lifting her, turned her body to face him. She smiled broadly, full of pride for her new found ability to rile him. Smiling malevolently, Charles bent his curled head to her breast and nipped it gently. Sucking in a breath, Lindsay leaned back. Charles grasped the opportunity by licking his fore finger and running it over the nub of her sex.

“Mmmmm,” she hummed. Thus encouraged, Charles began to explore with his hand, twirling circles, entering and withdrawing from her folds until her moist center became damp and throbbing. Her skin flushed and her mouth’s grin formed into a soft ‘O’.

Charles’ stiff cock throbbed for release. Lifting Linnie’s hips, he placed her atop his erection and slowly eased her sex around his. ‘Oh,’ she sighed. After adjusting to his size, Linnie lifted her hips up and down, feeling the wave of warmth within her, she continued the motion, faster and deeper, rocking to an internal rhythm, towards a peak that only she and he could feel rising. Tasting sweat and heat she nearly lost control. Charles grasped her bottom and guided her rhythm faster and faster, until they both called out clasping one another tight in mutual release.

~ ~ ~

Lindsay and Charles spent the next few days in a lover’s fog, discovering the joy that a carefree honeymoon has to offer. They christened the bed chamber, the attic, and the sitting room in similar fashion to the study. Charles’ appetite for his wife only increased as the days grew. He woke each morning, his member hard with dreams of their coupling.

The night before their departure to the docks, Lindsay lay contentedly in Charles’ arms. They relaxed upon an impromptu bed Charles had fashioned of both leaves and their own garments, in the midst of a copse of trees.

“I really must balance the books before we depart tomorrow, my love.”

“Yes, I know. But, let us lie here, just one more moment. I feel deliciously wicked out of doors without a stitch of clothing. Oh, Charles! Let us bathe together in the nude this week!”

“There are leeches in the pond, Linnie.”

“Since when do you care, old man?”

“Old man, huh? I cannot imagine an ‘old man’ holding your curvy form up against that tree as I did just now, can you?”

Lindsay giggled delightedly, and then grew serious. “Charles?”

“Yes, Lindsay?”

“Tomorrow, can you drop Betsy and me in town while you go to the docks, so that we might pick up some necessities?”

“Yes, of course, I would prefer not to take you down to the docks, as it is a most inhospitable part of town.”

The next morning, the small party set off at dawn, fully enjoying a bright summer day. Thin clouds softened the sky’s glare and Lindsay was pleased to leave the curtains of their newly acquired carriage pulled back with her head peering out in a most unsophisticated manner. She cared not. She was free to explore and spend her dowry upon the house that would most likely shelter her in her old age. She smiled in the direction of her husband’s back-what a fine figure he made on a horse!

The day slipped by in a daze of shopping and dining. By the time Charles had loaded the windows upon his tenant’s wagons and headed back onto the road towards Braxton Hall, Lindsay was weary and ready to return. She looked forward to seeing the new draperies and windows installed by the end of the week. The tenants had readily agreed to aid in installing the windows and treatments in exchange for the farming equipment Charles had provided.

Renewed from three days of frivolity and love making, Lindsay refocused her efforts on the house. Cleaning, gardening, and sewing, she hardly noted Charles’ absence come Thursday, at least until she fell into their bed, exhausted and alone.

Each day showed marked progress in the house and she was an integral part of the improvements. On the Sabbath, Lindsay rose early, said her prayers, and walked around the house, surveying her efforts in the quiet purples and reds of a dewy dawn. The windows were installed and all the main rooms sported fresh, new drapes.

All chambers had been swept and dusted, mopped and set to rights with the furniture currently available. Charles had ordered furniture for the billiards and music rooms. The rest of the chambers would have to wait for the following year’s rents. With this, she would be content. If they were cautious and prudent in their spending, there was enough left of her dowry to cover any necessary repairs and expenses for the next two years. Lindsay had no doubt that Charles would see to that.

The shock of her original home coming had worn off and been displaced with a general sense of usefulness and hope. She had hope that in being needed, Charles’ love for her would deepen to that of an equal regard and respect, a love that would not wither and die at the first difficulty or unpleasantness. Had she not proved to him that she was made of sterner stuff than society flounce and fluff?

Yet, Charles had been disturbingly somber, upon his return from the Bonneville’s this past Friday. Her forced cheer did little to charm him, offering up a wan smile at her attempts at levity; Lindsay wondered aloud what might be plaguing his thoughts. He had not shared his concerns with her, however, undermining her impressions of a developing partnership between them.

~ ~ ~

Charles’ last trip to Wilson’s estate had been disconcerting. Cynthia had increased her efforts to ensnare him into a liaison. During dinner Thursday night, all had come to a head.

“Married?” Wilson barked, incredulously. “You
married
?”

“Aye, My Lord, I have married.”

“But, well, how could you, Charles? I had thought, well, I had half expected that you would come up to snuff and marry Cynthia.”

The object in question being a good half way through a bottle of Claret, nodded, like a marionette. “Yes, Charles, once one is bedded, she does expect to be wedded.”

“Cynthia! What vulgarity!” Lady Rochester paled, aghast at the direction of the conversation. Waving her hand dismissively, she cleared the room of the staff.

“Well, Mother, I am a widow now, and entitled to freer rein in my deportment. As it happens, I am a very rich widow. In short, I may do as I please.”

“Not with me, you shan’t,” Charles returned, glowering.

“Well, not now, I suppose...Can you not see about getting an annulment? If you needed money for your estate, you knew I was a much better bet, Charles, really, how droll of you!”

“I will not abandon my wife for you, Cynthia.” Charles roared, losing his prized aplomb in the face of her wicked grin. “We never had an understanding, and you very well know it!”

Throwing her head back, Cynthia chuckled wantonly. When silence greeted her she looked about the table, her laughter turning brittle.

“Come, child, you are overwrought,” sighed Geneva Bonneville. Clearly tried by her daughter’s viscous behavior, Lady Rochester rose and ushered her daughter from the room. As she followed her mother, Cindy looked back over her shoulder, a look of surprise upon her gilded features. For once, she would not get what she had set out to gain.

“I understand that Cynthia is not the model of decorum that you might expect in a wife, Charles, but she is my daughter and I love her. Is it true, that you have defiled her?”

“It is not true. She is brazen and beautiful and not accustomed to hearing the word, ‘nay’. While she could use a husband with a firm hand to bring her to heal, I am not the man for the job.”

“You will be leaving your post here to run your own estate, then,” Lord Rochester stated resolutely. “How will I continue without you, Charles?”

“Well, Wilson, for that, I have a plan.”

 

 

Chapter Eleven- A Sinful Sabbath

 

“It's when we start working together that the real healing takes place...it's when we start spilling our sweat, and not our blood.”

 

~David Hume, Scottish Essayist

 

Although Lindsay looked forward to attending church once a weekly routine could be established, she was, for now, glad of a reprieve. At the close of her four week honey moon, her sister, Leah, would bring her remaining trunks and, with appropriate attire, they would attend the small parish together.

As two bed frames and mattresses had already been prepared for John and the future maid, Linnie and Betsy had plans for finishing a third feather tick. Bobby, bless his hands, had skillfully repaired the master bed. As Charles would be soon gone to the Rochester estate, Linnie planned to welcome him home to a newly refurbished master suite.

Walking from the French doors, through the wild garden, the soft wind picked up suddenly and then changed directions, whipping her shawl around and turning her head to the East. Lindsay felt a thrill, a premonition that was at once exciting and terrifying. She knew her life as she had experienced it for the past two weeks was about to change dramatically, but how?

Continuing on, she slowly made her way to the simple cottage in which Betsy resided. It was early, barely seven, but Lindsay did not worry that her companion would not be up and about. Betsy lived strictly by the adage, “Early to bed, early to rise.” Unaccustomed to the luxury of abundant candles, she believed in using the sun’s light to go about her business. After five lean years as the manor’s house keeper, Betsy was not likely to change her habits.

Rumor had it, Bobby had told Lindsay, that she was still smitten over a boy from her childhood, who had left to tend a grand estate in York. She had denied all suitors for the ensuing fifteen years. Now, her David had returned to seek employment in his home town and she was eager to see him employed here, at Braxton Hall.

“Seeing as his expertise is in gardening, and we are in dire need of a grounds keeper, I too am eager to win his attentions, Bobby. How convenient it would be to have him settled with Betsy in the cottage!”

So Bobby set off to fetch the infamous David from church that very day. Lindsay felt it prudent to warn Betsy, so that she might make herself and her cottage presentable. Seeing Betsy at work at her sink, Lindsay let herself in. Betsy looked up from her dishes, eyes shining. “Is it true? Have you sent Bobby to fetch Mr. Blane?”

“Aye, Betsy, I have. I hear he has never married. We hope to hire him on here. He can stay in the tack rooms at the stable, at least until he finally gets around to marrying you, then I thought you would both get along well, right here. What do you say, Betsy?”

“Oh, Mistress, I say that I am most eager to reacquaint myself with his person. Do you think he’ll be overly changed? I know I am just as round as I was at his departure and he admired me well enough then.”

Smoothing her best apron across her Sunday dress, she sat to take up her needle and sew the last side for the large feather mattress. Lindsay took over the messy work of stuffing the gigantic tic. While Betsy began to sew an identical mattress, she explained, “Master will be buying some sheep from Lord Bonneville’s herd and another layer of padding will come in handy for that huge frame.”

“The bed’s or the man’s?”

“M’Lady!” Betsy shrieked, and they both dissolved into giddy laughter.

Just as she shoved the last of the feathers into the enormous mattress, the breakfast bell clanged and Lindsay brushed her front free of stray down. “Will you come, Betsy?”

“If you will permit me to close up the feather tic and straighten the cottage, first? I don’t think I could eat a bite just now, either way.”

Pausing to really look at her house keeper, Lindsay examined her sweet round face, imagining its appearance to the eye of a suitor. Much of Betsy’s soft brown hair had slipped from her bun and fallen flat against her cheeks and the nape of her neck. Her smooth, pink complexion looked younger than her thirty years, but her disarray left her looking indecisive and timid. It would not do.

“I too am feeling a bit on edge this morning, Betsy,” Lindsay responded. “Allow me to stay for a moment and help you with your hair.”

Smiling to reveal a row of neat white teeth, Betsy ran to the back room to fetch her brush and pins. Chatting and giggling like school girls, they soon had Betsy’s hair to rights. Standing back, Lindsay sighed at the effect. Pulled back from her face, the wisps added fullness to the front of her hair. Where a distracted, disheveled maid servant had stood, the competent, tidy, house keeper had emerged.

Task completed, Lindsay felt a need to return to the dining room and break her fast with her husband. “Betsy, will you bring the mattress to the empty guest room beside mine? I am loathe to let Charles see what we are about.”

“Aye, Mistress Donovan. You’ve a way of making routine repairs seem like a right fun adventure, sneaking about and surprising the Master as you do. I can see why Sir Charles married ye, ye suit him well.” Grinning, she returned to her stitching.

Lindsay too smiled, as she retraced her steps back through the garden, thinking,
Perhaps I am good for Charles. Perhaps he will cheer up when he sees our bed chamber.

The breakfast fare surprised her. Eggs, toast, bacon, tea, fruit, and milk were spread in abundance. Typically, Bernard laid out most of the food. Expecting that the servants would dine after the gentry, Bernard often set out plenty, but this was amazing. She marveled at the sheer amount of fruit and bread.

“Bernard! What is all of this?”

“Oh, I suppose I got carried away, M’Lady. I hope you are hungry.”

“Hmmm,” was Lindsay’s only reply. Charles came in and cheerfully loaded his plate, clearly unconcerned by the evident waste.

“Where is John? He is normally an early riser.”

“He has already eaten and gone. He has a list of duties a mile long to attend to. It is just you and I, My Dear.”

“I wish we could go visiting today, but we really should not be seen about for another fort night. Shall we go for a ride? It promises to be a stifling day and I would like to visit the pond.”

“Oh, perhaps another time, I have several entries for the books. Perchance we can go after luncheon, but I am making no promises. I would like to start chopping the felled tree for firewood.” Seeing Lindsay’s crestfallen expression, he quickly changed his mind. “It is Sunday, however. Let us go.”

At which point Lindsay looked up from her eggs, gifting Charles with a radiant smile. The smile faded from her face as she caught a sound from the drive. Straining to hear, she became certain that she detected the creak of wheels. Abruptly, she turned to look through her new window. A carriage approached.
Her
carriage approached.

“Did John take the carriage into town?”

“Oui, Mademoiselle,” Charles responded in a hideous French accent, lifting one eyebrow.

“Whatever for?”

“It seems that the peasants are revolting, Mademoiselle. They insist upon palatable cuisine, clean linens, and a Mistress with haute coiffure. I bend to their wishes. I have sent for the best cook, maid, and abigail that our quaint town has to offer. John, having some skill with the reigns, has yet again come to my aide.”

Leaving her eggs untouched, Lindsay dashed past her husband, but was stopped by an arm around her waist. He dragged her back, pulling her into his lap, despite her annoyed struggle. “I require a kiss and a demonstrative show of your undying gratitude.”

“Ugh!” Hastily, Linnie wrapped her arms around his neck and showered him with kisses about his face. “Thank you, my kind and benevolent Master. As you have provided me with servants, I shall service you, later.”

“Ho! Ho!” he laughed at his clever young wife. “How witty you have become with your bedroom talk. I shall have to keep a tighter reign on you, my saucy wench!”

Struggling to get free, she scurried out into the entryway, eager to meet her new helpmates. Within a matter of moments, Bernard opened the door to Dorothy and a girl of not more than twelve.

“Dorothy! Are you here to serve as my abigail?”

“Aye, M’Lady, if you’ll have me. I would like to serve one Mistress, for a change. Dress making has proved very tiresome of late.”

“Then we are well met, as I am in dire need of your assistance, as you can see,” indicating her hair and gown. “And who is this you have with you?”

“This is my daughter, Molly. Molly, make your curtsey to the lady. Molly hopes to be your new chamber maid.”

“Oh, I see. Have you any experience, Molly?”

“Aye, M’Lady. I ‘ave been cleaning the rooms at the boarding house and the dress shop these two years past.”

“How old are you?”

“She is nearly twelve, M’Lady. Too young, by half, I know, but my husband passed on three years now and we have had to fend the best we can.”

“Yes, I can see that you have done so. Molly, we can certainly use your services. As your mother must share her bed with the chamber maid, this arrangement should work well. I will be expecting an hour of each day for you to come and read with me, Molly. I expect all of my staff to be literate. Do you agree to these terms?”

“Aye, M’Lady. I would so love to learn to read and scribe. I will work hard. I vow I will not disappoint you.”

“Thank you, Molly. I am sure we will work well together. You should follow your mother into the kitchens for breakfast. Are there any others?”

“I am sorry, Lindsay, but the cook we hired, Mrs. Brown, must remain with her employer another week. It seems her mistress will not now be leaving her residence until next Sunday, when her son arrives to escort her to Stratford,” explained John.

“Oh, well, I suppose you will all just have to suffer through my cooking for one more week,” Bernard responded dryly.

“John, do you mind helping Dorothy and Molly with their luggage? I will show you upstairs to your quarters and by the time you finish your breakfast, Betsy will be in the kitchen to go over your routine.”

Thus having dispatched the newcomers, Lindsay descended to Charles’ study and let herself in. Engrossed in his ledger, Charles did not look up. Lindsay bent to strip her stocking from her leg and dropped it before him on the desk.

Looking up, Charles grinned mischievously. “I have a feeling you do not intend to let me commit the sin of working on the Sabbath. Let me see. You have something in mind that involves the removing of stockings?”

“Aye, my love, the removal of all of our clothes, I would wager.” As he leaned to gather her in his arms, she stepped back, out of his reach. “I intend to go swimming in our pond and I do not wish to wait. Will you force me to wait, Sir?”

Lindsay had knelt in front of her husband’s seated form. Looking up at him, she marveled that she had ever considered him average compared to other men. This was the man who had made her childhood bearable. Through his challenges and instruction he had kept her focus upon improving herself and not upon her family’s odd dysfunctions.

Charles’ hazel eyes glowed amber in candlelight and toffee in sunlight. His angular cheeks and sculpted shoulders, his dimpled smile and ever-ready wit were hers to have and to hold. She peered up at him, the old adoration gleaming in her eyes.

“Get dressed,” he sighed down at her, his face grave but his eyes laughing. “We must at least look the proper Sir and Lady, out for a ride.”

Seeing her face light up in delight, Charles was spell bound.
How could this sweet, intriguing lady have ever deigned to fall in love with me?

As Lindsay rose to depart, she paused at the door. “Charles?”

“Yes, Linnie?”

“Thank you for Dorothy.”

She slipped out before Charles could respond. “Thank you for you,” he murmured to her receding footsteps.

The ride was blissful. Once they reached the pond it took them only a few short moments to relieve themselves of their clothes and splash into the water. Doc and Diamond grazed happily as Linnie and Charles raced towards the wooded side of the pond. Charles was impressed at how Lindsay’s skills had improved. She could nearly out swim him. He would have to remedy that.

Their love making upon the bank of the pond was rapid and desperate. Both came to the other needing reassurance. As Charles pushed his length into his wife again and again, he lost himself, lost his restraint. She clung to him, wrapping her slick legs about his hips and calling out his name horsely again and again.

“Charlie,” she cried. “Yes, please, Charlie.”

When he came into her, she rose to meet his release with her own. His first rational thought, as he lay spent upon her small frame was,
Please, God, let her breed. Let my seed take root so that she might never leave me.
Out loud he whispered, “Please, never leave me.”

Stiffening, Lindsay looked up into Charles’ face and questioned, “Why would you say that?”

Charles knew that his fears were not unwarranted. Not only did Lindsay still believe that he was willing and capable of abandoning her in her time of need, she had always been a bird of flight. She dealt with all of their arguments by avoiding him. Even now, as she lay docile beneath his rasping bulk, he could imagine she was thinking of visiting her sister, of going to London for another season, of leaving this place for a while.

Charles knew that if she did not receive enough stimulation, she would not be happy. If she sensed the least bit of distance between herself and him, she would panic into flight.
Soon, I will have resolved my responsibilities to the Bonnevilles and be able to devote my attentions solely to my own family
, Charles thought. To her, he said, “I know you, Linnie. We have married quickly and have had a rocky start to our marriage. I worry that something will happen that will cause you to want to run. I want your assurance that you will not.”

BOOK: How to Impress a Gentleman
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