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  1. Lisa’s only reaction had been a polite smile. Well-schooled from an early age at hiding her feelings and an expert at navigating court intrigue, it took more than few sardonic comments to break through the serene facade she presented to the world. Margaretha would learn that words could hurt you only if you let them, but such things came with time and maturity. The girl had been bullied most of her life for being born on the wrong side of the blanket and needed help bolstering her nearly nonexistent self-confidence. “I completely understand,” she replied, her smile now more genuine. She nodded as Cordelia spoke of no guarantee of happiness in marriage. Lisa believed that Margaretha would be happy just to get married and would do her best to be the kind of wife her husband wished for. It was sad but true that the oppressed often tried harder to please. If he was worth anything at all, he would recognize her cleverness and intelligence and realize that she could be much more than just a baby factory. Lady Lucas turned to Margaretha, asking her a series of questions about her upbringing. “My father made sure that I would receive a proper education even should he pass away before I was grown. He loved me very much.” The girl wiped away an errant tear that slid down her cheek. She missed him dreadfully. If he had lived, he would have arranged a fine marriage for her to a gentleman so wealthy and influential that the ladies of the Dutch court would want to befriend her rather than insult her. She liked to think that her father had looked down from heaven and, seeing the problems she was facing, he had sent Lady Basildon to her to do for her what he could not. “I know how to manage a household, though it is run a bit differently here than in the Netherlands. Lady Basildon is teaching me the English way.” Margaretha was curious about the other girl that Lady Lucas mentioned. She had met few young ladies around her age since she had been in England. Lisa chuckled at Cordelia’s comment, though she wondered if the older lady was trying to figure out how much influence she had over her own husband. “Margaretha is already quite persuasive. I’m sure she will be able to manage that.” She smiled at the girl. “Perhaps we can find her a husband who is musically inclined. She is remarkably gifted at playing the violin.”
  2. Juliana had sowed the seeds of desire within Charles and now she was reaping its rewards. She watched myriad expressions cross his face as he drove into her again and again. He was the main reason that she had remained in London for a second season and while she remembered what it felt like to shag him, she had forgotten the sheer primeval thrill of his lovemaking. We definitely need to do this more often, was her last coherent thought before she completely surrendered to the exquisite sensations he evoked in her. His groan made her shiver delightfully when she draped her ankles over his shoulder. His rhythm faltered momentarily but he quickly got himself back under control, thrusting into her over and over with such passionate abandon that she bounced upon the mattress and could hear the bedsprings creaking. Juliana gasped when she felt his hand upon the pearl of her pleasure, stroking her to one of the most longest and amazing climaxes she had ever experienced. It seemed to go on forever, blinding her with the white light of ecstasy. Slowly the tantalizing sensations abated, leaving her basking in the golden glow of satisfaction. She looked up at Charles, still on top of her but looking like he was about to collapse. Juliana was exhausted as well, but at least she was roll to the side so he could lie beside her. Propping herself on one elbow, she laughed at his comment. “Oh, you managed hard all evening. And I’m sure it won’t be long before you rise to the occasion again.” Reaching over, she playfully pulled on the ring on the front of his collar. “You look so delectable with that on. You should wear it all the time.”
  3. Juliana reveled in Charles’ laugh. He seemed quite happy to be released from his slavery. Every part of her he touched sprang to lusty life, desire unfolding within her like the petals of a flower. Spreading her hands, she ran her long fingernails playfully across his chest, stopping to tweak both of his nipples at the same time. “An excellent choice,” she purred leaning forward to kiss him lightly. “There will be time for sweet and slow later. This night is far from over.” Her laugh echoed his when he rolled them over until it was her bare back pressed against the silken sheets. The retort she had been about to make turned into a delighted gasp as Charles plunged into her, hitting her back wall and sending divine sensations coursing through her body. Her inner muscles spasmed around him, as if attempting to pull him in even deeper. Juliana arched her back and pulled her legs up so that she could place her ankles on his shoulders which should increase the pleasure for both of them.
  4. Of course there was English politics involved. Lady Lucas hit the nail on the head with her comment about alliances. Lisa doubted that there was a single noble family in the country that didn’t use marriage to form connections to those who could help them further their goals. It was the same with other countries as well, but she was fairly certain that they had played no part in getting Margaretha to England. The older woman’s cynicism didn’t sit well with Lady Basildon. It seemed to have the same effect on Margaretha, who lifted her eyes and stared at Lady Lucas with a steady and rather offended gaze when she implied that she was incapable of thinking for herself. Lisa knew that remark would inspire a reaction from the girl. She most definitely had a mind of her own, and she also had the wisdom not to speak it at this moment. Lisa smiled. “How can a pearl shine when trapped within its shell? A sixteen-year-old girl can only do so much on her own. She was unable to separate herself from it while in the Netherlands, but here she can cast it aside with my assistance.” She didn’t hesitate when Lady Lucas asked what she hoped to achieve. “I want Margaretha to be happy. And with that happiness, my lord husband and I hope to make an influential alliance. In that regard, we are no different than any other noble house. Basildon’s star is rising quickly and …” Her voice broke briefly as she thought of the three beautiful baby girls she had lost. “And we have yet no daughters of our own. Other families may wish to marry into ours too. She is no true relation to us but we have taken her under our wing and consider her as our own.” Well, I do. I’m not sure about Louis until those spy rumors run their course. She looked over at Margaretha and smiled encouragingly. It was her turn now. The redhead’s look did not soften and she still stared squarely at their guest. “I want to fulfill God’s plan for my life.” Her voice was pleasant and polite, but had a nearly undetectable edge to it. Had she not yet forgiven Lady Lucas for her perceived insult? “And the best way to do that is to marry, support my husband, and raise my children in a Christian home.”
  5. Charles hesitated, and Juliana wondered for a moment if he would agree. He did seem to like subservience and if he wished, she could continue to order him around. Then he smiled … that wolfish grin that never ceased to heighten her desire. Ever since that night in the snowy maze, she had adored it. His words brought a smile to her own lips and a moment later, he leaned forward, placed his hands on her hips, and kissed her. She deepened that kiss, enjoying it immensely, and pressed herself tightly against him, slowly backing him toward the bed. When he could go no further, she pulled away and pushed him onto it. “For a while, we will be just Charles and Juliana instead of goddess and devoted worshiper.” Climbing atop him, she poised herself over his cock. “Do you want it sweet and slow or would you prefer it hard and fast?"
  6. To her credit, Lady Lucas did not storm out of the house after discovering Margaretha’s origins. Lisa heard Margaretha exhale in relief. Whether she truly wanted to help the girl or wished to avoid insult from a very well-connected Countess was not apparent. Lisa would not have ridiculed her had she refused, but, of course, the older lady didn’t know that. Whatever the case, she did not seem put off by Margaretha’s illegitimacy. There were, after all, illegitimate sons whose fathers wanted them to marry well and who could add prestige and influence to the Basildons’ rise at court. “Then we shall get along well, for I, too, do not like to mince words.” Lisa smiled at both Cordelia and Margaretha. “There are no politics involved. Yes, she is an orphan and her father’s wife treated her poorly, as she was a living reminder of her husband’s infidelity. I am not certain what her uncle thinks of her, but he did not forbid me to take her to England. “Maybe he, too, knows that her prospects are better here than they are in the Netherlands. I believe her stepmother’s attitude poisoned the minds of many nobles against her. She is well-educated, and speaks English, German, French, and her native Dutch. She is clever, perceptive, and deeply pious. I thought it sad that a young woman of such potential would probably end up as an old maid and so I decided to bring her with me to find a husband here.” Margaretha, her eyes still lowered, blushed, her cheeks turning nearly as red as her hair.
  7. The removal of each fibula intensified the lovely sensations coursing through her. Juliana knew that Charles wouldn’t touch her if he could help it. A slave never touched his mistress without permission. Perhaps knowing this increased her longing to feel his hands roam over her curves and press into her softness, but whatever the reason, she trembled whenever his fingers accidentally brushed against her flesh. Glancing down at his turgid cock, her inner muscles began to contract and she felt a trickle of moisture running down her inner thigh. There was an open window in the room and the cool breeze warmed her heated skin. As soon as Charles unfastened the fibulae at her shoulders, she sighed, raised her hands above her head, and stretched while he folded the peplos and lay on an empty table. Juliana looked at him as he knelt again, keeping his eyes lowered. She was getting a bit tired of issuing commands and having them followed while her body was making demands of its own. Surely Charles must be feeling the same way. “Stand up,” she instructed. Looking over at her ‘priestesses’, she inclined her head in the direction of the bed. The two whores stepped forward and drew the curtains on either side and then turned and left the room. Around each bedpost at the level of the mattress, a padded leather restraint had been attached. On a bedside table which had also been covered, sat a small assortment of dildos. There was a shelf under the table which held another unopened box. Stepping toward Charles, she reached out and ran the nail of one finger up the length of his cock. “Even goddesses need sexual fulfillment.” Her voice was softer now. “And sometimes they would like their slaves to be equal participants. That is what I wish of you now. You may speak freely and tell me what is is you would enjoy the most right now. Do not leave the decision up to me or you will feel the kiss of my whip again.”
  8. “I am glad to hear it,” Lisa replied. “And thank you for the compliment. This room, while perhaps a bit unconventional, is where I prefer to receive guests and do business. The atmosphere is very serene.” She waved her hand toward the chairs and the empty couch. “Please have a seat.” Lady Basildon sat beside Margaretha. “As you know, my ward is looking for a husband. I shall tell you a bit about her.” A practical woman, she felt it best to lay the cards on the table immediately. “She is the niece of William of Orange by his natural half-brother Frederick Nassau. Lord of Zuylestein. Her mother was an actress who passed away during childbirth. Her father loved her and provided well for her, leaving her a decent dowry.” Lisa planned to augment the dowry herself, but had not yet broached the subject with Louis. “She’s intelligent, clever, and artistically talented. I don’t expect her to marry extremely high in status, but at the very least, there are illegitimate sons of prominent noblemen who are in need of wives. Her royal connections might also work in her favor with families who wish to expand their influence on the Continent.” Lisa could have sent Margaretha out of the room before being so frank about her humble beginnings, but she was strong emotionally and had no illusions about her prospects. The girl cast her eyes downward demurely as both ladies waited for Cordelia’s response.
  9. When Charles shivered, it seemed so real. Juliana knew that he wasn’t afraid of either her or a little pain. After all, he had given her that riding crop for a reason and she had been looking forward to using it. He obediently counted each stroke, his voice a raspy whisper. As she watched the red marks appear on his arse, her own desire heightened and while she had a few other things planned, she decided it was time for a pleasurable interlude, both for his sake and her own. When she was done, Juliana handed the crop to the ‘priestess’ who had given it to her. She smiled at Charles in the mirror. “You bore that well,” she complimented. “I hope you have learned never to show arrogance in front of your goddess again.” Yanking on his leash, to turn him away from the mirror, she strolled over to the bed. “I feel myself in need of satisfaction. I hope you are up to the task.” Of course he was. She could see the evidence and it sent a thrill of excitement rushing through her body. “Undress me, and be careful that you don’t stick me with the fibulae.” The sparkling pins held the front and back of her peplos together at her shoulders and along both arms. “Leave my shoulders for last.” If he unfastened that part first, the rest of the garment would slip right off.
  10. The garden room was not close to the main door of the manor and Lisa was unaware that her guest had arrived until she heard two sets of footsteps approaching from the corridor. Margaretha, standing at the window overlooking the garden, nearly jumped out of her skin. She turned panicked eyes to the Countess, who smiled at her reassuringly and gestured for her to take a seat on one of the couches. Of course she was a bit frightened. She was a young girl trying to make a life for herself in a foreign country after being ostracized in her own. Putting her fate in the hands of a stranger must be terrifying. Even Lady Basildon herself would be daunted in the same situation. As the butler led Lady Lucas into the room, Lisa’s smile was polite but warm. “Good morning, Lady Lucas. I hope you have been faring well since our last meeting.” She was not a formal person, and found small talk quite tedious. Margaretha stood up and curtsied. She had regained her composure and looked poised and confident, even though Lisa was certain that her thoughts were in turmoil. The girl was truly a lot like her, the reason she had been initially drawn to her.
  11. Lisa had prepared the garden room for her meeting with Lady Lucas. It was her favorite room in the house and it was difficult to feel anxious surrounded by the beautiful plants that decorated the area. Two couches and two chairs, upholstered in green brocade with a floral print in red and blue accented in gold thread, formed a semicircle in a corner. Pillows in complimentary colors adorned each seat. Large potted plants were arranged on the sides and between each piece of furniture. A low table covered by a blue tablecloth, with red flowers and green leaves embroidered around the edges, sat in front of the seating at the exact center. Upon it sat a golden vase filled with red roses that gave the room a sweet fragrance. The setting was lovely and serene, a perfect place for a friendly discussion. Margaretha roamed restlessly around the room, obviously nervous. She was dressed in a lilac gown that contrasted beautifully with her bright red hair. Lisa had known that she would be too curious to miss this meeting, as it had to do with her future. The girl was well-behaved and quiet and the Countess expected no trouble from her. In case she was asked to play, she had brought her violin, which was lying on the table that Lisa usually used when answering her correspondence. Lisa wore a gown of pale blue, sprinkled liberally with pearls. Pearls formed her necklace, earrings, and bracelet as well. Her curly blonde hair was arranged into a bun with a few ringlets left loose to frame her face. Though she didn’t show it, she was not quite as composed as she looked. What if Lady Lucas refused to help her ward find a husband when she found out that Margaretha was born on the wrong side of the blanket? It didn't feel right to keep such important information from her. The young Countess sighed. This might be a very short meeting. Or perhaps she will sympathetic to Margaretha’s plight. Myriad scenarios, both good and bad, ran through her mind as she waited for her guest to arrive.
  12. Aria

    Back in the Office Tuesday Afternoon

    At first, Sam had thought that Charles was only teasing about the secret room and the skeleton. She had heard that he liked to frighten ladies with his scary stories and practical jokes. But she was no lady, and had seen things that would cause most ladies to faint. She wasn’t even certain that Charles saw her as a woman. Sometimes she wished she could tell him the truth about the tryst at Newmarket, but she was afraid that it would ruin their friendship. He might feel betrayed or used, perhaps to the point that he would either have her reassigned or tossed out for impersonating a man. She didn’t regret what she had done, though. No, she would always savor that experience, even if it was destined never to happen again. Now she believed that he was telling the truth about where he had found the dagger.. It wasn’t impossible that a secret room ... or several of them ... existed in the passageways below the palace, and somebody could have been murdered there and left to rot for a century. Sam wondered how Charles had found the room, but that was something to ask him when they got there. As for the ghost, she was absolutely certain he was either teasing her or he had stumbled upon the room when he was drunk. If an inebriated Life Guard didn't want to be see until he sobered up, the passageways were a good place to hide. She didn't think that he was a sot, but she imagined all nobles drank too much occasionally at all those balls they attended. “The witching hour?” she asked, a playful tone to her voice. “That’s fine with me. Are you hoping that your ghost might make an appearance if we show up at midnight?”
  13. Juliana admired the image in the mirror … she holding the end of the leash looking gorgeous in her peplos of purple silk and Charles on his knees beside her, adorned only in the collar that proclaimed him her pet, or perhaps her possession. I should have our portrait painted like this, she thought, though I doubt he would ever agree. The collar did suit Charles and he wore it with pride. A little too much pride. When she saw him preening, she wondered if he was doing it just for the sake of more punishment. “You dare show vanity in front of your goddess? Have you not learned by now that I like my slaves to be humble?” She called for one of her ‘priestesses’ to bring her riding crop. “You will receive ten lashes for your arrogance.” In truth, she loved his arrogance, but in his current role, it was inappropriate. Moving behind him, she bent her knees and swung the whip low so that it once again bit into the flesh of his arse. Charles would be able to see what she was doing in the mirror and know when each strike was coming. “Count each lash for me,” she instructed and continued until all ten had been delivered. They were hard enough to sting but didn't break the skin or leave permanent marks.
  14. Aria

    Back in the Office Tuesday Afternoon

    Sam was as eager as Charles to discover why Lewin was so determined to get his hands on the dagger. She thought about suggesting that she confront him herself with a couple of the men as backup, but she knew that he was too much of a gentleman to allow that. If he still believed that she was a man, he might have agreed. He would never put a woman in danger, even though said woman was as capable a soldier as the men under his command and knew how to take care of herself. “An excellent suggestion, my lord,” she concurred. He said nothing about the children. That was a mystery she would have to solve on her own. “I’m very curious about the secret room you found the dagger in.” She smiled up at Charles. “You did promise to show it to me.”
  15. Juliana had purposefully not eaten much at dinner so that she would truly enjoy the pastries that Charles fed her. There hadn’t been much time for sitting down to a proper meal anyway. Perhaps if she hadn’t decided to taste the delights of her 'priestesses', there would have been, but she didn’t regret that pleasurable interlude. She noted how he reacted to the licking of his fingers. Maybe he was envisioning her licking another part of his anatomy, which had already risen to the occasion. There was a limit to how long she could make him wait, but she knew how well he could keep control of himself from their previous encounter. The sight of his rigid cock sent waves of arousal through her own body. She had learned to control her own desires, also, from playing both dominant and submissive roles. Charles followed her instructions well and showed no reaction at all to the blindfold. However, when she fastened the collar around his neck, Juliana felt his entire body twitch in surprise and … judging from the condition of his cock … pleasure. I’m really going to have to do something about that soon. She had not asked him to kneel but she assumed he had done so in gratitude. Her voice hardened slightly. “I would not have asked if I would not permit it.” Deciding to keep him on his knees (and his hands), she opened the second box and removed a leash made of shiny silver links with a black leather looped handle. She attached it to the back of his collar and led him into her bedroom. Candles flickered on the floor and on tables. Sparkling golden cloth had replaced the usual curtains around the bed and they were currently closed. She led Charles over to a beautifully carved full-length mirror. Both his image and her own were reflected in it. “Do you like it?” she asked.