Sunday, March 04, 2012

Sunday Serial: Lord Merville's Whore Part 2

Lord Merville's Whore: Chapter Two
Madelynne Ellis
All Rights Reserved.

“What do you want with me?”

The click of the key turning the latch raised further nervous heart palpitations, and made her spin towards him. Richard didn’t respond until he’d stripped the kid gloves from his hands.
“Surely, better my company than that of the mob.”

“At least I know where I stand with them.”

“With Stark?  I’m afraid Edmund is still rather uncouth, despite his glossy coat. I’m told he’s much in favor of the scold’s bridle. Imagine the taste of the metal between your teeth, and suddenly, I’m not such a bad option after all.”

She shuddered, envisaging the bars of the cage about her head, and yet, her fears over what the mob intended for her collapsed like the ash in the fire as she gazed at Richard, leaving behind a sooty stain, like the mark he’d left on her psyche. The coppery taste of blood flooded her mouth as she nicked her lip with her tooth. Thea sucked upon the tiny wound. Admittedly, Richard wouldn’t bring her physical harm, but then, he didn’t need to. His presence caused pain enough in her chest. Pain she continually failed to disconnect herself from. “Why are you here?”  With Phillip gone, there was no need for him to come to assert his ownership, which meant he’d come for no other reason than to torture her.



“Thea. We’re old friends. I came to offer my support and condolences.”

“Friendship… You forfeit any claim to friendship when you abandoned me in favor of your six thousand pounds a year whore. What have you really come for? To rub grit in the wound?” The surface of the table felt oddly cold against her hand, as she tentatively curled her fingers around the shaft of her hairbrush. Any closer and she’d stripe him with the same devil’s marks Thieftaker Stark bore.

Richard cast his gloves onto a chair. “Did no one ever tell you it’s amiss to speak ill of the dead?” He settled upon the chair arm, one long leg crossed over the other so she could see the scuffed soles of his boots. “She was the perfect wife, Thea.
Everything you’d never be, rich, meek, willing, like a hothouse flower that needed constant tending.”

“And what does that make me?”

His lips twitched, extending his smile. “A hardy perennial?”

She raised the hairbrush, causing him to rise and back step with his hands raised.

“Wait now,” he soothed. “Don’t misunderstand me. I said she was the perfect wife, nothing more. She contented my father, she never contented me. She never satisfied me. There’s no joy in lovemaking if your partner lies stiff as a corpse. I’ve dreamed of your cries, how you’d keen like a bean-sidhe every time I raised you to a peak, how our bodies would meet, and joyfully slap, raising the sheen of sweat upon our skin.” He stretched towards her, his fingers curled to caress her cheek. “It could be like that.”

“Never.” She slapped him with the hairbrush. “I know what your games are like, and I’ve heard all your promises before.” She didn’t ever want to let him get that close to her again.

“Be reasonable, Thea. You must have realized that Frosterley wasn’t his.” One blunt tipped finger traced over the brass upholstery studs of the chair he placed between them. “Phillip can barely balance his humors let alone a column of figures. How long had you known, in your heart, truthfully? How long have you anticipated his ruin? You must have seen this coming.”

Had she? Maybe she’d glimpsed the warning signs the morning after her wedding, after Phillip had bedded her, and abandoned her, to return to his friends. Maybe she’d seen the losses etched into his face, seen the pain of constant heavy drinking leave him sweating and snarling, a tyrant before noon and a puppy dog of an evening.

And maybe, he’d simply fallen foul of the friends that prayed upon his geniality and his addiction, and she’d anticipated nothing save a long life bound together, for better or worse.

“I can help,” said Richard.

Anger surged up from her gullet along with another searing jet of bile. She jabbed at him over the chair back. “You had your chance, and I wasn’t good enough to be your wife. I’ll go to hell before I become your whore.”

“Did I imply?”

“You did. And the answer is no, so spare me your lewd bargains.”
“I would, believe me, I would, but I’m afraid it’s not as simple as that.” He thrust a square of folded parchment at her. “Read it. Please. I think you’ll find it enlightening.”

Thea ran her finger over the flaking red wax of the seal, which still bore the impression of Phillip’s insignia. The wax was already cracked, and left tiny pinprick fragments upon her skin as she smoothed the parchment over the surface of the dressing table. There was no explanation writ alongside the debt note in her husband’s spiky hand, nothing about why the contract had been made or should be upheld, just the facts. She was Richard’s for the night.

“He gambled and lost.”

“Why should I honor this? How can I be sure it’s even real?” She should have refused to read it, should have cast it into the flames.

“It bears both his seal and his signature, Thea. Don’t make me present it to Lord Crewe alongside his other debts. Honor it. Think of the joy as a reward. I accepted it in good faith, and I’ll take the payment in lieu of everything else he owes me.”

“I’m not an animal to be auctioned at will, or bet upon.”

“Sh-hh! I know it.” His arms surrounded her, the brush of his satin coat raising the hairs upon her arms. How had he slid so close, unnoticed? His lips traced the tip of her ear, making her heart hammer. ‘Thea,’ he purred, pressing their bodies closer still, so that the luxurious curls of his wig tangled with her equally dark locks, “I’d have come for you anyway, note or not. I won’t see you scrounging in the gutter. I won’t let him destroy you. Don’t you see this simply makes it easier for us?”

“Richard, there is no us. I’m a married woman, and we’re mere acquaintances, nothing more.”

Only she looked at him and knew every word of that statement to be false. There was no forgetting what he’d done, but no escape from the joy that had preceded the betrayal either. Sorrow welled in her throat. A lone tear tickled as it tumbled over her cheek. “Burn it.” She cast the parchment onto the floor. “If you ever loved me, take something else instead. Take these.” From the top drawer of the dressing table, she drew a box, and held it out to him.

Richard coaxed open the brass clasp, to reveal the spray of emeralds Phillip had presented to her only a few nights earlier. “Paste? If they were real he’d have gambled them.”

“They’re real, and they’re all I have. Take them.”

She had few other jewels and a mere five guineas in her pocket, perhaps a crown or two more lay pressed into the toes of her slippers. She’d have to sell her dresses, though they were rather countrified in design and out dated, supported by a bustle not a hoop.

“I told you, I won’t see you starve.” He caught the tear from her cheek, which he sucked from his fingertip.

“Richard,” she hissed.

As a family the Mervilles were all angular and long-limbed, save for a propensity to sport puny, dimpled, little chins. A fate Richard had seemingly been spared, his jaw being rather squarer and a little more pronounced than was strictly handsome. A dimple formed as he scowled. “Forget Eleanor, forget Phillip. They’re both out of reach now. Think of what we can finally have. What we both wanted.” His hands swept up her arms to the bare skin of her throat, raising excited shivers.

“I made a vow before God. I’ll not abandon my husband.”

“And yet he has abandoned you. Do you know what he considered the value of your virtue?”

She didn’t want to hear it, refused to acknowledge his words, refused to acknowledge that he was also raising trembles in her innards that had nothing to do with anger, just the pleasure of his touch. How she’d loved him. How she’d dreamed of a life as Lady Merville, but that reality was no longer even a possibility.

“Thirty guineas.”

Why had she never stopped wanting him?

His pupils were so wide and dark she could barely see the slivers of green that bounded them. His brows were drawn into a frown.
“He sold you for less than a stake in the round. He had to throw in his pocket-watch as well.”

Why did he insist on being so cruel, telling her this?

Richard’s lips pressed against the top of her head, then against her temple, while his fingers entwined the sable strands of her hair and combed through the glossy waves, before rising to cradle her jaw.

“Thea, what happened before, it wasn’t how I wanted it.”

Frozen, her breath grew heavy in her lungs as he paused just short of tracing her lips. When they’d first kissed he’d tasted of cinnamon tarts and brandy fumes. He’d chased her along the picture gallery at Otterburn, while the other dinner guests supped sherry, and he’d cornered her below his grandmother’s portrait. Every subsequent kiss had been similarly stolen. They engineered trysts, mere minutes in length at dinners and recitals, and at picnics in the summer. She’d never kissed him in the morning. She’d never known the simple pleasure of waking in his arms. These were things she’d dreamed of, never expecting to experience. Her tongue felt swollen now in anticipation, yet angry fires still burned in her gullet.

Used as a tool by men in their bargaining, was there no escape from it?

“Do you know why I married Phillip?” she spat, making the question sound like an accusation. “Because he was there, and I had no desire to return to Ireland, a failure, to rot in a garret of my parent’s house. Not even a second son would want me. I couldn’t bear to be so isolated.”

“I didn’t know. I was told it was a love match.”

“It was a bond of security, and I won’t compromise it. This is a misunderstanding. Phillip will be home tonight.”

“Don’t, Thea. Don’t.” His shook his head. “Phillip’s already been fool enough for you both. This isn’t going to right itself, they won’t free him until he’s satisfied his debts.”

“I’ll speak to Mr. Pounder.”

“Thea.” He traced his fingers along the edge of her chemise to the soft swell of her breast. “What good do you imagine it will do? There’s nothing left. Not a penny.”

“Let go.”

“And if I don’t?”

“Don’t force this.”

His tongue subtly moistened his lips. A wicked smile had reached his eyes. She remembered how he loved the chase, the tousle involved in winning her kisses.

“How hard do you suppose I’d have to force you, when you’re already trembling with lust?”

“With rage,” she snapped, only for him to shake his head.

“You’ve always wanted this, from the moment we were introduced. Have you forgotten the secrets you whispered to me, about how you frigged yourself to sleep after our first kiss, while imagining my hands upon every inch of your skin?’ He tugged open the drawstring of her dress, so that her breasts spilled free of the binding. The nipples crinkled, like clipped pennies. Mesmerized, she watched as he coaxed one teat with his thumb. The touch was brief, but the pleasure it raised seeped through her body like dye in a vase, causing her lips to part as she released a gasp.

He’d played games such as these with her before. They’d gained her nothing save an ache.

“I’m not a virgin anymore, Richard. I’m a married woman, not so easily seduced by a pair of wandering hands.”

“What sort of experience did a life with Phillip give you?”

“A satisfactory one.” If things hadn’t precisely been good, nor were they terrible. If Phillip threw the odd tantrum, it was nothing compared her father’s temper.

Richard’s tongue dabbed at the pulse point in her neck, than traced upwards to her earlobe. He bit gently. “Did he ever make you come?” Breathy and low, his words caressed her ear. “I think he took his pleasure and left you desperate. Is that right? It’s not what I intend.” He released her breast, leaving the skin cold, freed of his touch. Instead, his palm curved over the top of her skirts, cupping her quim. His middle finger pressed into the channel between the lips of her sex, causing her to sharply inhale at the resulting stab of joy.

“I’m loyal to Phillip.”

“Yes,” he agreed. With another touch, her body was opening for him, the linen of her chemise growing damp where his fingers pressed. The scent of her heat filtered through the still air. Her clitoris ached. Knots of indecision further tightened in her belly. She wanted this and she didn’t want it. Could never forgive him, for what he’d done.

Likely enough, he’d helped ruined Phillip.

“Thea.” The rub quickened. “Touch me, Thea.”

He nipped, making her scowl.

Touch him. She wanted to murder him. Heat rose in her cheeks as she struck, fists curled.

“That’s right,” he coaxed, laughing off the blows and cradling her closer. “Touch me. Hurt me. God, I want you.”

His solid muscles pressed tight to her near naked form her. How good he felt. She lashed out, catching him upon the chin and the ear.

“We were always meant to be together.”

“No.” Her denial sounded more like a mew of content, as he took her nipple into his mouth and sucked, just a fraction too hard, so that a slender thread of pain made her nerve endings sing. Hell, she wanted to feel him bite, as he’d done in the past, leaving behind raspberry marks upon her skin.

Cool air kissed her thighs as he raised her shift. He turned her around, and urged her up against the dressing table, her nose pressed almost to the cheval glass, so that the smell of beeswax polish disguised the scent of their arousal.

He held back a moment, releasing the frontfall of his breeches. Thea strained upwards, almost losing her grounding as she tried to escape the assault, even as dark ripples of pleasure brought scarlet heat to her face. Richard’s cock lay against her arse like a brand of iron. His bare skin kissed her rear, and then his cock rose between her thighs, seeking union with her. She caught a glimpse of herself in the silvered glass. Glossy tresses of unruly black hair fell across her bared breasts and shoulders like vines. Her mouth was a red smear of hunger.

They’d never truly make love. Her passion had been curtailed by a healthy regard for propriety. She’d overstepped societies rules, but never really far enough to damn herself. This was different. She was going to betray her wedding vows.

She wriggled her hips, half hoping to escape the torment of his rubbing, but the movement only brought further wetted pleasure. .

“Yes, that’s right. Move for me. God, I want you to touch me.” 

His fingers found her nubbin again, coaxed pleasure from the eager bud, until dizzy; she lay across the oak surface in a breathless swoon.

This was wrong. So very wrong, and he was the devil, but damn her soul, if part of her wasn’t eager for him.

“My stays…” They weren’t even tightened. “I can’t breathe.”

“Take the fool things off.” He turned her, and swept her over to the bed.

Pushed into the soft eiderdown, Thea watched as he straddled her hips and worked at cords restraining her flesh. Finally, he released her, and shoved her shift up to her shoulders.

Pleasure licked lavender hues across his irises.

She’d done her best to be a loyal and true wife, but God help her, she wanted this now. Not just the press of his fingers, or his thumb testing her entrance, but his cock, thick and hard inside her, fucking her until it made her teeth rattle. “Your coat,” she protested.

“What of it?”

“Take it off.”

He tossed it across the room, swiftly followed by his waistcoat and shirt. She’d always imagined him to be furred beneath his finery, something appropriately beast-like, but he was surprisingly hairless, save for a few pale tufts in the pits of his arms. Instead of removing his breeches, he simply thrust them lower, so that they hugged his thighs.

She’d seen Phillip erect. Not when he entered her, but when he bathed. He liked to have her wash him like a serving maid, and always that involved her hand wrapped around his cock bring him to a soporific climax. She almost reached out to touch Richard there too, where the skin was drawn tight and so smooth.

She’d dreamed that one day he’d take her like this.

God—where had her fight gone?

Richard rubbed the head of his cock against her clitoris, and she arched up to him, wanting more, wanting the fullness, the possession and the sweet, bitter pleasure.

One push and he’d be right inside her.

‘Yes,’ he gasped triumphantly into her shoulder, as their bodies neatly molded themselves together. Then his lips and hands seemed to be everywhere at once and she could no longer keep hold of her breath. She clawed at his back, lifted her hips up to meet him, relishing each possessive thrust. This was how it should always have been.

Her breasts ached.

Eyes closed, she reveled in the sensation of her muscles hugging his cock, and sucking him deeper.

‘Yes.’ He somehow drove a hand between them and mashed his fingers against the swell of her clit.

Pinpricks in the darkness, her flesh on fire, climax gripped her with swift and shocking ease. Breathless cries emerged as screams.

“That’s it. That’s it,” Richard coaxed. “You know this is right for us both.”

Abruptly, Richard slipped from her cunt, leaving her bereft and clawing at him. Still erect he sat back on his haunches, and squeezed together her breasts. “Grint’s right. You do have fantastic tits,” and he thrust his glistening cock into the channel between them.

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