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Aria

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  1. Her mother’s question startled her, but Lisa kept a polite smile on her face. Lady Worcester had never been one to mince words, a trait that her daughter had learned from her. Yes, she had heard some rumors about the Dutch, but she didn’t believe for a minute that her young ward was not trustworthy. “Margaretha is an innocent and pious young woman. The Dutch nobility treated her poorly because she was born on the wrong side of the blanket. They looked upon her as if she was a servant and I could see how much she loathed it. She practically begged me to bring her back with me. There was no future for her in her own country. She is also ambitious and quite clever, but there is no reason for her to turn against us. I wouldn’t trust her with important information simply because of her age. I don’t think she poses a threat to us, though.” Lisa glanced at Nicci, wondering if she had anything to add. Her cousin thought that Margaretha hated her, so perhaps her opinion of the girl might be less flattering. Everyone was entitled to their own opinions and it was possible that her fondness for Margaretha had blinded her to her faults. She agreed with her mother about the Duke of Chevreuse and his reason for returning to England for the most part. “Perhaps the Duke is behind the rumors or maybe his associates are spreading them. They would, of course, prefer us to change sides." Lisa leaned forward. “What exactly have you heard?” Having resided in the Netherlands for several months, she had learned quite a bit about the country and its customs. She even understood why they wore klompen.* If she'd had any doubts about Princess Mary's safely, she would have stayed with her. Then again, she understood the French mindset too. They were obviously working against each other, but who was truly at fault? *wooden shoes
  2. Davina was right. Even if the tapestry looked good lying on a table, it might look horrible when hung on a wall. Since it was now in three separate pieces, how could they view it while hanging? Mistress Wellsley had an answer to that too. Lucy watched as she went over to her basket and took out some heavy purple thread and then returned to baste the panels together. The young Duchess held the sides to the center as Davina stitched, suddenly feeling a bit useless. Why didn’t I think of that? The baby kicked, as he did quite often lately. It seemed like he was reassuring her somehow. Mistress Wellsley knew just where to hang it as well. “Of course,” Lucy agreed to Davina’s inquiry. Susan took the side she indicated and between the two of them, they easily hung it between the brass holders. Lucy grinned and stepped forward to get a better look. “Yes, that is much better. Thank you., Mistress Wellsley. You are so creative. Now we can also figure out what we need to do to to finish it. I can see already where new flowers need to be added. Come stand beside me, ladies, and let’s hear your ideas. Do you think this arrangement is best or should we try it the other way too?”
  3. Lucy wasn’t surprised that Davina deferred to her. She was the highest ranking lady in the room, after all. Was that the real reason she had asked, to receive that very reaction? Perhaps, but she really did value her fellow ladies’ opinions. Susan nodded in agreement with Davina. “As you wish,," Lucy conceded, "But if either of you think it would look better arranged differently, please speak up. This tapestry has to be perfect so that it will soothe Her Majesty during her confinement.” She nodded at Mistress Wellsley’s suggestion. “When we have them arranged, we can decide whether to add new flowers and colors or stick with the ones we have. If we add new ones, they have to be scattered across the entire tapestry.” Her biggest fear was that the finished product would look like three separate parts instead of a whole. Studying the pieces closely, she reached out and placed Davina’s to the right of hers and Susan’s to the left. Her gaze traveled from Susan to Davina. “What do you think, ladies?” Susan glanced over at Davina. It looked fine to her, but she didn’t really have an eye for art. It’s just as well that Lord Chichester found someone else, she thought morosely. I would have disappointed him. “It looks fine to me,” she remarked, “though maybe we should try it the other way as well.”
  4. Lisa had dressed for this occasion in a gown of turquoise moire silk accented with beaded white lace and featuring an underskirt of rose. Her stomacher was covered in iridescent beads. She wore a stunning diamond necklace and earrings and diamond combs fastened her curly blonde hair in a fashionable updo. Little ringlets were left loose to frame her face. Louis looked magnificent in a wine hue that she thought complimented his luscious dark hair and Nicolette’s gown was gorgeous. Her wardrobe had improved along with her status as the King’s mistress and Lisa was happy for her. She had hoped to bring Margaretha with them, but she had not been invited, even though her mother knew that she was sponsoring the Dutch girl’s stay in London. Margaretha was not a member of the family either. To compensate for leaving her alone, Lisa had asked the cook to make her favorite Dutch dishes. She had also left a box in her room containing an emerald necklace that Margaretha had admired at the jewelers when she had taken her shopping last week. The dinner was delicious, and Lisa smiled at Louis as the ladies and gentleman separated. Once they were settled, a thin golden eyebrow quirked upward at her mother’s cryptic statement. Her heart fell to the pit of her stomach. “Is something amiss?” she asked, glancing briefly at Nicci before turning her attention back to Lady Worcester.
  5. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    John and Fiona Lord Silverbridge pointed out the flaws in her reasoning, but she was undaunted. “I think quite highly of myself, actually. I’m worth too much to become shackled to some moron who thinks me of me as nothing but a womb and sends me away to the country forever. Some ladies long for that kind of life, but not me. “By the time my beauty fades. I’ll have saved up so much money that I travel around the world. I’ll be free to do whatever I wish. And I’ll always be a Viscountess. I hold that title in my own right.” That was Fiona’s dream … to be free of the restrictions society placed on women. Unfortunately, to claim that title of hers, she would have to marry. If she didn't, it would probably go to whichever of her younger sisters were married first, and she would not let that happen. Luckily she had at least at least a year before she felt compelled to wed. Shona would be old enough to attend court next spring. Aileen still had a few years to go. Not all gentlemen wanted to wed chaste ladies. Some libertines liked their wives to be experienced in the ways of pleasure. That’s the kind of husband Fiona wanted … not some proper prudish fool who would keep her locked in a cage. She remembered Doug’s advice. He had told her that she should marry an old man with one foot in the grave. That way, she would be widowed while she was young, which was another path to the freedom she craved. Her charming Colonial companion went on to describe how he planned to seduce her. A delicious heat suffused her young body as he spoke. This was going to be one of the most pleasurable games she had ever played and she could hardly wait for it to begin. With the confidence of youth, she had no doubt she could satisfy him beyond his wildest dreams. But let him think what he would and then delight in the surprise. The stupid Bishop was ready to start the service, standing silently at the front of the chapel and waiting for his congregation to quiet down. It was Fiona who was surprised when Lord Silverbridge decided to move a few pews away. She had assumed that he would sit with her, but it seemed that he wanted to draw out the anticipation of their eventual union. He stood and smiled down at her, claiming she needed rest before their next encounter. Fiona grinned saucily. “And you should get plenty of exercise so that you’ll have the stamina to keep up with me. my lord.” She watched him as he walked away and then focused her eyes on Compton. Lost in her daydreams, she didn’t hear a word he said. For the first time in nearly a year, her fantasies did not feature Lord Langdon as her leading man.
  6. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    The Chathams and Juliana Of course Juliana knew that Charles had been at court last season. She had been curious as to whether his stepmother had been with him. Apparently, he had summoned her halfway through. Why? Had the self-styled princess so inflamed his passion that he needed a willing woman at his beck and call? Or had he truly missed her? Considering what Juliana was doing to him now, she wouldn’t be surprised if he took Lady Chatham against the door as soon as they got home. The thought amused her. It was too bad she couldn’t watch. “I was at court last season too,” Juliana confided. “I’m surprised we didn’t run into each other before.” She sighed as the noise died down. The Bishop was standing at the front of the chapel, waiting patiently. Her hand moved to Charles’ thigh and rested there. Throughout the service, she squeezed his cock every time the Bishop spoke of repenting.
  7. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    Charles and Catherine Catherine didn’t plan on waiting more than a week to see Charles. They really did need to talk about the future and he had not even seen Caroline since the season started. She hadn’t decided whether she was going to spy on him or not. It might be better to have one of her friends or servants do it. Or perhaps she should simply trust him. His explanation seemed plausible. Taking something the criminal wanted and luring him into a trap sounded like something he would do. Charles had always been clever.. Unfortunately, the Bishop was ready to begin the service and further conversation would have to wait. At least Charles sat by her. If he didn’t want to be seen with her, he would have found somewhere else to sit. Many courtiers entertained themselves during a boring sermon by looking around to see who was seated with whom. She did it as well.
  8. Davina acted as if she was in charge, but Lucy didn’t really mind. Impending motherhood had toned down her jealous streak. The other lady's suggestions were similar to those she would have made, and she was the oldest of the three of them and the most experienced at embroidery. Maybe that was why her stitches were finer than hers or Susan’s. “An excellent idea,” Susan agreed, moving to a large table and placing her piece upon it. Lucy did the same after unfastening it from its frame. “Mine will go in the center, as we agreed upon last season. But we need to figure out which one looks best on either side of it. Thank you for bringing the backing, Mistress Wellsley. After we sew it together, we may have to add a few flowers to the areas where each part is joined so that it won’t look pieced together.” When all of the pieces were lying on the table, the ladies studied them. “How do you think they should be arranged, Mistress Wellsley? If your fashion sense is any indication, you are well-versed in how well things look together.”
  9. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    Charles and Juliana Juliana had known Countesses who were in their teens She had no idea how old Lady Chatham was, but she looked to be in her thirties. Perhaps she was going through an early mid-life crisis and wanted to be thought of as youthful. The lady’s mention of a relationship of passion sealed her suspicion that they were lovers. Or maybe she had misunderstood. She spoke excellent English, but it wasn’t her first … or second, third, or fourth … language. “I doubt the good Lord judges a book by its cover,” she replied with an innocent smile. The phony princess adored Charles’ villainous visage.’ It was part of his appeal. It was a pity that his stepmother had not revealed why she really thought he deserved a good smiting, but the subject moved to the differences between the church services of England to those in Switzerland. “I grew up in Stockholm. I don’t know about the provinces. There are disparities, yes, but the message is always the same: repent, repent, repent.” Under the cloak, she squeezed the bulge in Charles' breeches in rhythm with each ‘repent’ she uttered. Bored with the topic of church, Juliana changed the subject. “So how long have the two of you been at court?” She was curious as to whether his stepmother had joined him last season.
  10. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    Charles and Catherine “You would never do that because then I would walk right past you and you would be utterly heartbroken. You are so besotted with me that you make sure than I will always see you.” Charles turned down the opportunity to feel his child kick. Why? Was he worried about what other people would think? When had he become so prudish? They had never hidden their relationship, nor had they advertised it. Maybe he just thought it would be inappropriate at church. His whispered promise soothed Catherine’s irritation. Hopefully, he meant he would visit her later tonight. No, he didn’t even plan to visit her during the coming week. She didn’t buy his explanation. It sounded too contrived. She knew his job was dangerous but she doubted the miscreat he planned to arrest knew anything about his personal life. There was something else going on. She just didn’t know what. Yet. Catherine willed herself to shiver. “I will do as you say. I certainly don't want to be kidnapped. And please be careful, Charles. Our baby needs his father.” He would be less cautious if he thought she was staying home, and wouldn’t look closely at the faces of courtiers to see if she was among them. In disguise, she might be able to figure out what he was trying to keep from her. Maybe I’m just being paranoid and Charles is truly afraid that I will be harmed. I know he cares about his child. Or perhaps he wants me out of the way so that he can plan a surprise for me. Maybe she should heed his warning after all. “Come to see me as soon as he’s in prison." She titled her head to the side. Why not test his explanation? “I’m curious, though. How does this criminal know so much about you?”
  11. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    John and Fiona “Those are reasons to run to you,” Fiona clarified. “I’ve always been drawn to danger.” She had expected Lord Silverbridge to flirt back, but not so blatantly. He was not one of those pious idiots she ran into every now and then. If so, he would have been appalled when Lady Susan fell into his lap. The young Scot was glad she had approached him. He was far more appealing than she had thought he would be. She loved blatant flirting, which often led to more pleasurable pursuits. Her enchanting companion expressed concern for her reputation, which was, unknown to him, completely in tatters. Older and wiser than she had been last year (after all, she was seventeen now!), she was more discreet about her affairs and more selective in her choice of lovers, but nobody who had been at court for long would think she was chaste. She knew that her main draw as a wife would be her title; her future husband would most likely care nothing about her. So why give him a virgin bride? Plus, she needed to sow her wild oats while she could. There was a brighter option than the bleak ones that Lord Silverbridge stated. Leaning forward, Fiona whispered in his ear. “I can become a mistress. Mistresses are treated better than wives and they have a lot more freedom. Their lovers shower them with gifts in order to keep them. I would rather that be my fate than marrying some fat old geezer and being sent away to the country for the rest of my life.” He seemed to think that dallying with her was a risk, but then abruptly changed his mind and accepted her challenge. Desire flooded through her young body as he outlined his plan. He wanted to chase her? How exciting! Usually she was the one doing the pursuing. “Very well,” she said with a sultry smile. “You will not find me easy prey but the reward will be well worth the hunt.” How, Fiona wondered, was she going to learn how to play hard to get?
  12. Davina’s stitches were even and perfect, much better than Lucy’s own. She hid her jealously well and tried to appreciate the full effect of the piece and not just the gorgeous needlework. “It’s lovely. I think it would look best on the right side of the tapestry. That part will be closest to the Queen when it is hung upon the wall." Mistress Wellsley was rather secretive about her recess. Perhaps it had not gone well, or had been unbearably boring. The young Duchess knew that her brother was marring one of Norfolk’s daughters. Maybe the two of them didn’t get along. “I am well too.” Lucy patted her round belly. “During recess, I didn’t do much but rest and embroider. That’s why I added a few extras to my piece. I had nothing but time.” There was no bitterness in her voice. She was willing to do whatever she had to do in order to ensure that her baby was born healthy. If she lost it, both her husband and her brother would be disappointed in her. This child had his or her own part to play in the building of her family’s dynasty. Susan entered, a bit out of breath. Servants followed behind her with her embroidery and her stand. “I hope I’m not too late,” she said. “I was in the library and I lost track of the time.” She had not done much research but she did discover one tidbit of information that might help in the mystery she and Lord Langdon were attempting to solve. “That’s easy to do in libraries,” Lucy replied. “Show Mistress Wellsley and me your part of the tapestry.” "Yes, Your Grace."Taking it from her maidservant, Susan held it up so that both ladies could see. It was just as she had promised, hyacinths and zinnias in multiple hues. Lucy noted that her stitches were also superior to her own. “Let’s put them together and figure out what we need to do to fasten them together.”
  13. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    John and Fiona Lord Silverbridge turned toward her and Fiona did the same, smoothing her skirt so that it ‘accidentally’ brushed against his leg. She pretended not to notice. Her eyes wandered over him once more. “If I were a savage, I wouldn’t think you were too tough. I would think you were the most delicious meal I ever had.” As for running: “More figuratively than literally.” She was running from a marriage arranged by the King, though it was possible that he might have forgotten about finding a husband for his mistress’ unruly and hedonistic sister. Fiona had heard that he had a new mistress now. Maybe that meant she had nothing to fear anymore and could marry a man of her own choice. Her charming companion was as flirtatious as she was. The auburn-haired Scot grinned playfully. “I can’t think of any reason I would want to run from you.” Lord Silverbridge seemed surprised that she was alone. Her grin broadened when he listed the things he had gathered from their brief conversation. He was quite perceptive, she had to give him that, and she enjoyed the way his eyes traveled over her lips … and lower. “I’m not actually all by myself. A chaperone accompanied me and when my brother returns, he will look after me.” Fiona leaned forward and her voice lowered to a whisper. “My family is hoping that I will find a husband this season, but I think I’m going to disappoint them.” Moving back, she swiveled so that she was staring straight ahead. “You could be right about me, but maybe you aren't. There is only one way to find out.” Her full lips turned up into a saucy smile. “Sometimes I think God tests us because he likes to grant us forgiveness when we give in to temptation. If you’ve never sinned before, you should try it. It’s fun. Or so I’ve heard."
  14. Aria

    EASTER 1678 | Saturday Services *closing*

    Charles and Catherine “That’s because you were standing in plain sight so that I wouldn’t miss you,” she retorted. Catherine didn’t think she would ever get tired of their long-running game. It was fun to match wits with Charles. He was one of the few gentlemen who was able to keep up with her. Maybe that was one reason she liked him so much. He halted their repartee to ask how she was. The concern in his tone of voice pleased her. He should be interested in her well-being, since there was no doubt whatsoever that this child was his. “I tire often. It was the same way with Caroline. Other than that, I am doing quite well.” Unlike her last pregnancy, she now knew what to expect. “Our baby is thriving.” Taking his hand, she placed it on her growing belly. He would be able to feel his son or daughter kicking vigorously. “See?” Catherine smiled up at him. Do you have time to come over this week? Caroline would love to see you and there are things we need to talk about.” The practical matters had to be discussed, such as how much support he was going to give his illegitimate child, and if he planned to provide for its future. The son of an Earl deserved a fine education. A daughter would need a substantial dowry.
  15. Lucy looked up when Davina walked in. “Good afternoon, Mistress Wellsley. May I see your piece while we wait for Lady Susan?” She waved a hand toward the frame, which contained a garden scene. There was a large white trellis in the center with red, white, pink, and yellow roses climbing over it. A bench sat beneath it and upon it lay a straw hat with a blue ribbon around it that trailed to the ground. She had thought the hat was a nice addition. “This is mine. In that box on the table are the colors I used so that we can weave all three parts together.” Despite the fact that they both served the Queen, they’d had no time alone together since the new season began. “How have you been.? Did you enjoy recess?”
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