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Aria

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  1. Aria

    Away & Here Notices

    The last two weeks have been really tough on me. I won't go into details but it's just been one problem after another. It won't last forever, though, and I will post as soon as I can.
  2. Aria

    Back in the Office Tuesday Afternoon

    Sam was an expert at hiding her feelings. She had been masquerading as a man for years and nobody suspected that she was female. And so it was easy to conceal her eagerness when Lord Langdon invited her to stand at the window with him. The view of the Thames was quite lovely with the sun sparkling on the water. She had never thought of the river in pleasant terms, for she had seen foul things, including dead bodies, floating on its surface, and the stench was quite deplorable. Luckily, the glass kept the odor from seeping in. She listened as he gave her report of recent events, including what he knew about the murder while reveling in the warmth of his presence beside her. Sam knew Charles well and understood his frustration at his inability to locate the killer. The man had probably been a professional assassin if he had covered his tracks so well. That didn’t mean he couldn’t be caught. It just meant that they would have to be clever about it. He wanted to ambush Lewin tomorrow morning, but he was concerned about pursuing a personal matter when the royal family might be in danger. His sense of duty had always been firm and unwavering. It was one of the things she liked about him. Some of the soldiers she worked with did they were told and nothing more. Lord Langdon went the extra mile. Even if he had not been born into privilege, he would have moved up the ladder to a position of authority anyway. Sam mused thoughtfully over his suggestion. “It is not impossible. He has used nefarious means to get to that dagger. He’s a crook and he probably knows other criminals. Perhaps he associates with spies and assassins. Maybe that’s why he is so secretive. He could be acquainted with somebody involved in either plot. It would not be out of place to question him.”
  3. Aria

    Back in the Office Tuesday Afternoon

    Sam had heard about the murder yesterday and she figured that Charles would be too busy with a possible threat to the King’s life to confront the man who was so interested in the dagger that he had found in a secret room in the dungeons. She had become as caught up in the mystery as he, and was eager to find some answers. Though disappointed that the ambush would have to wait, there were plenty of things to keep her busy that day. She was taking a break and sparring with Joost when Lord Langdon called for her. The redheaded boy, who was twelve years old, had grown a lot in the last few months and was nearly as tall as she was. He was also a natural at using a sword, though he had not yet progressed from wooden practice weapons. He was still keen to become a soldier when he was old enough. Sam thought that he would make a good one. She had discovered something else about the two children Charles had brought to the palace last season. They spoke in another language to each other when they were alone. She was not good at identifying foreign languages and both Joost and Trijntje ran off when she asked them about it. Perhaps she should mention it to Lord Langdon. Stepping into his office, she saluted smartly, trying to ignore the way her heart skipped a beat when she looked upon his handsome countenance. “You wished to see me, my lord?”
  4. Aria

    The House Guest from Hague Monday Afternoon

    “With every noble jostling for power at court, there is nobody who is not suspected of something, particularly those like us who are rising in esteem and stand in the way of their own ambitions.” Lisa leaned her head upon Louis’ arm. “Like I said before, some courtiers probably think that I am spying for the Dutch as well. Some may think that you know where Danby is hiding and that you report to him regularly. We are a threat to others and so they want to rid themselves of us and take our place.” Lifting her head, she grinned. “We do the same, you know.” They paused before a vivid flower blooming early upon its bush. She thought about plucking it and tucking it behind her ear, but thought better of it. It was a tenacious blossom and deserved to enjoy its brief life in the sun rather than be cut short by an eager hand. With her blonde head back against his arm, she listened to this thoughts. Maybe he was right and the King would distance himself from them for the rest of the season. Their best bet for remaining in His Majesty’s regard was Nicci, who could sing their praises and bring them back into his good graces. Unless she succumbed to the temptations of her own countrymen, who would try to pull her into a different direction. Lisa promised herself to spend more time with her and to remind her in subtle ways of her duty to her family. Nicci, though a year older, was new to court intrigue while Lisa had been playing the game for most of her life. Building their ties with foreign powers would help as well. They would become more influential and therefore more sought after by the King. While Louis’ affinity with the French was natural because he was half-French, her connection with the Dutch had been serendipitous. If Princess Mary had not married William of Orange, she would never have gone to the Netherlands and made friends and allies there. There were people she knew she could count on if she needed them, including Mary herself, who saw her as more of a big sister than an attendant. Oh, how well she knew his lack of patience! “You are right, my love,” she replied when they stopped by the fountain. “This is just a temporary setback and we will grow stronger because of it. His Majesty will see reason and will elevate us to his inner circle as soon as this current mess is over and done with.” Lisa had, of course, heard about the murder that morning, though only through secondhand sources. It was possible a foreigner had been planning to assassinate the King but had been killed before he do any harm. She was about to ask Louis if he he knew more about it when he changed the subject and brought up a much more pleasurable way to spend their time. Her body flared to life with delightful sensations. “Do I?” Dipping one hand into the fountain, Lisa scooped out a palm full of water and tossed it playfully at him. “And now?” Closing the distance between them, she wrapped her arms around his neck, raising her own so that she could nibble on his ear. Oh, how she loved him! “Let’s save the sparring for later,” she whispered. “I would rather you put your sword in its sheath … the sheath that is already humming with enthusiasm and anticipation.” Now who is being impatient? she thought.
  5. Aria

    Newcastle House, Tuesday 2 PM, Marriage Talks Part Two

    Lady Newcastle wasn’t sure how long the investigation into the candidates’ backgrounds would take. First, she had to present her suggestions to the Duke, who would most certainly whittle down the list. It was even possible that a suitable gentleman had asked for Margaret’s hand or that her husband had already decided who she would marry. It was his decision in the end. She had not been consulted on the matter of Frances’ marriage and had no idea whether Dorset had approached the Duke or if it had been the other way around. The poor girl had seemed upset and disappointed and it had broken her mother’s heart. She wanted to spare her other daughters that torment by taking matters into her own hands. “Very well,” she replied graciously. “We shall meet when the inquires are completed and when you think Margaret is ready.” Lady Lucas had more sage advice. As Frances was soon to be wed, the Duchess had given her quite a few household responsibilities. Perhaps it was time to do the same with Margaret, though she would likely not marry until next year. Managing a household seemed to come naturally to Frances. It might not be so for Margaret. Catherine was the one she was most worried about. Her second-youngest daughter was free-spirited and capricious, but she was only thirteen and would likely become more mature with time. “An excellent suggestion, Lady Lucas, and one I shall implement immediately. I have been concentrating on Frances. Perhaps learning along with her sister will be good for Margaret.” Business settled, Lady Newcastle was content to converse amiably with Cordelia until she finished her tea. (OOC: Ready to wrap things up?)
  6. It was difficult to remain still while so many alluring sensations careened through her. Juliana willed he legs not to tremble and mastered it only with all the willpower she possessed. Though she’d had many lovers in her life, both male and female, Charles was able to satisfy her better than most. Perhaps it was because he took such utter joy in being humiliated and played his part so well that it was easy to believe that he truly was her humble slave. Or maybe it was the way each touch of his lips left a trail of fire in their wake. His breath was a hot breeze against her skin, sensuous and arousing. She could feel her inner muscles contracting already in anticipation of feeling him inside her. Perhaps she should let him bring her to climax. There would be more to come for both of them. No, he needed to be punished first, and this was like a reward. His lips moved steadily upward. Juliana bit her lip to keep from moaning. This had to stop before it went too far. Just as he reached the apex of her thighs, she grabbed his hair again and pulled him away. “You have not yet earned the right to drink at my fountain,” she hissed. “How dare you take such liberties with your goddess.! Prostrate yourself before me while I think of a suitable way to teach you your place.”
  7. Aria

    The House Guest from Hague Monday Afternoon

    “I have no doubt that we have unwittingly hired a professional spy or two,” Lisa shrugged. “All powerful families are covertly monitored. We should consider it a point of pride that they have been placed in our midst. It means we are rising in prestige and influence.” Those informers would find out nothing that they wished to hide, only what they choose to publicly reveal. She was a bit paranoid herself. “What I meant was that our servants have been carefully selected for loyalty. Of course they would do the King’s will if he asked them for information about us, but I don’t think they would accept bribes from the average courtier.” Louis disagreed with her about sending Margaretha away. Perhaps it would be a step in the right direction, but it wouldn’t solve the problem. The suspicions would still be there. They weren’t going away unless her Dutch ward was proved innocent. Lisa had promised the girl a new beginning and a better life, things that were impossible in the Netherlands simply because she had been born on the wrong side of the blanket. Now she was being accused of something that had nothing to do with her illegitimacy but everything to do with her nationality. The fact that some of those allegations had come from French lips did not surprise her. The rumors had possibly originated with the Duc and moved up into the royal circle to deliberately put distance between the King and his most loyal gentlemen. Lisa didn’t think that the Basildons were the only family being lied about. Maybe their latest plot involved isolating the monarch from the courtiers he trusted, save those like Buckingham who were trusted implicitly. She could not even guess at their plans. They would probably not try to kill him again, but perhaps influencing him to take their side against the Dutch was their goal. Louis agreed not to send Margaretha away immediately. Most of the responsibility of proving her ward’s loyalty would fall on Lisa, but that was as it should be. Margaretha was more likely to confide in her than in him, and it wasn’t proper for a gentleman to search a young lady’s room and go through her possessions. His part would consist mainly of hiring an actor to impersonate a spy who would naturally report back to him. “Agreed.” Squeezing his hands, she let go and again took his arm so that they could continue their slow stroll through the gardens. “I still think she is innocent of any wrongdoing, but we do have to be completely certain of her. Perhaps you can find other ways to test her too. You might also mention to Buckingham that you don’t mind if he employs his own methods to test her. He has the King’s ear and if he finds out that she’s loyal to us, the King will believe him.”
  8. Juliana enjoyed the way Charles tried to pull away from her. He knew that she would never truly hurt him, yet he played his part so well that she could almost believe he was deeply humiliated for disappointing her. Idly, she wondered if he had timed his late arrival on purpose, longing for this very outcome. His whimpers intensified the desire within her and she smirked at him wickedly before letting him go. Perhaps he was intent on disappointing her again so that he could feel her whip kiss his flesh once more. Charles spent what seemed like an eternity worshiping her feet. Juliana's ardor began to give way to boredom. She felt like lashing his back but true torment was not giving one what one wanted. Her hand remained at her side and she reacted not at all. His lips began to move upward. Had he been teasing her by paying so much attention to her feet? Her skin tingled beneath his kisses, and the dwindling flame within her rekindled. Still she did not react, curious to see how far Charles would go to convince her that he deserved another chance to serve the goddess of love.
  9. Aria

    Newcastle House, Tuesday 2 PM, Marriage Talks Part Two

    Lady Newcastle was pleased that Cordelia wanted to meet with Margaret more than once. Perhaps her daughter would be more forthcoming with the other woman and she would gain insights into her true personality. And it could work in Lady Lucas’ favor too, if she wished to arrange marriages for other young ladies. Being seen with with Margaret would show she truly cared about the girls and wanted them to be happy with the decisions made for them. The Duchess had heard that Lady Basildon wanted to meet with Cordelia to discuss prospects for her Dutch ward. Perhaps others would follow. “Yes, please keep me informed of your progress. In a month, the investigations should be complete and the list of candidates will likely be quite a bit smaller.” Her husband might want to look into the backgrounds of the gentlemen he was willing to consider. It was much easier to investigate a gentleman if one was also of the male persuasion. If he asked to her handle it, she had many contacts she could call upon. Either way, no stone would remain unturned. “The spring season usually doesn’t end until the His Majesty's birthday, so we should be able to meet before then. In case it ends early, you are more than welcome to visit our estate.”
  10. Aria

    The House Guest from Hague Monday Afternoon

    Lisa listened attentively to her husband’s suggestions. For about five minutes she remained silent, mulling over the solutions he had presented as they strolled companionably through the garden. “I’m not sure that sending her away is going to help, Louis.” She stopped in her tracks and turned to face him, taking both of his hands in hers. "If we send her to Basildon or even back to the Netherlands, there will be rumors that she has spies in our household who report to her. Servants can be easily bribed. We know that our servants will never betray us, but the King and Buckingham have undoubtedly had servants betray them who were eventually discovered. They will expect our servants to be equally corruptible. “We are associated with her now. She isn’t the only reason that we are excluded from the King’s inner circle. As you already pointed out, your connection to Danby and my extended stay in the Netherlands is hurting us too. It might be assumed that the Dutch won me over and that I’m now sympathetic to their cause. If that is what they believe, will you send me away too? And how do you know that the Duc isn’t trying to cover up France’s involvement by planting doubts in everyone's minds?” She paused for a moment, considering her words. “If you still wish to send her to Basildon, I will make sure she is ready to leave at the end of the week. However, I think that it may be more beneficial to us to prove ourselves to His Majesty … by either confirming that she is, indeed, a spy, or establishing beyond a shadow of a doubt that she has never been in contact with the Dutch conspirators.” Lisa smiled. “It will take some investigating, but when have we ever refused a challenge?”
  11. Aria

    Newcastle House, Tuesday 2 PM, Marriage Talks Part Two

    Margaret’s smile widened. Lady Newcastle wasn’t sure if she liked the idea of showing off or if she was just relieved to receive a chance to redeem herself. The girl did seem to visibly relax, so perhaps it was the latter. Of all her daughters, Margaret was the most enigmatic. The Duchess could read little in her eyes or her expression unless she chose to reveal her emotions. Even when she was punished, she did not protest. She laughed and joked with her sisters and had quite a few friends. Perhaps she only hid her feelings in her mother’s presence. “I think it will be good for the two of you to get to know each other better,” the Duchess replied. Lady Lucas sniffed the bouquet that Margaret had picked for her. “Thank you, my lady,” the young girl said, curtsying yet again. “I selected flowers with scents that compliment each other. If my future husband does not have a beautiful garden, then I shall create one at our residence.” “You may go now, Margaret,” her mother instructed. The girl curtsied once more and walked back the way she had come, a spring in her step that had not been there before. Once she was out of earshot, Lady Newcastle smiled at her guest. “Is there anything else we need to discuss,Lady Lucas?"
  12. Juliana got as much pleasure from striking Charles as he did from being struck. Hie bare arse looked delectable with the red stripes from the crop adorning them. Having played this role many times before, she knew how to apply the perfect pressure without drawing blood or leaving scars. It would sting for a few days and cause him a bit of pain when he sat down ... which would, most likely, remind him of her. “You can’t explain yourself?” Her voice was softer now, but still full of rage. “You think that I am so pleased with you that I would forgive you for loitering around when you’re supposed to be serving me?” Her bare feet were silent as she walked forward, bent down, and grabbed a fistful of his hair, pulling until Charles was able to look into her face. “Do I look pleased to you? You have mocked me! I should cast you away from me forever for your insolence!” Letting the hunk of hair go, she moved back into the circle of candles. “Until now, you have served me so well that I planned to bestow a gift upon you. Now, I am not so sure you deserve it. Convince me that I’m wrong … without saying a word.”
  13. There was just enough room for Charles to crawl between the two front candles. He might feel their warmth on his bare skin as he passed them. Juliana knew that he would not speak when they were playing these roles until she gave her permission, and as his eyes were downcast as a proper slave’s should be, she had no idea what he thought of her elaborate pageantry. She could see that he had already risen for the occasion, and the teasing glimpses of his cock as he moved forward sent ripples of pleasure and anticipation through her body. The fact that he had no idea what she was had planned increased those sensual stirrings. As did his warm breath on her feet as Charles kissed them. Since he couldn’t see her face, she smirked as she watched him shivering, her eyes straying to his well-formed arse. If she leaned forward just a bit … “You’re late!” she suddenly roared. The hand she held behind her back shot forward and the whip he had given her for Christmas snapped through the air and sharply struck one of his arse cheeks. “Do you not know better than to keep your goddess waiting?” The whip crackled against his other cheek. “Speak, slave, and explain yourself!”
  14. Aria

    The House Guest from Hague Monday Afternoon

    Lisa listened as Louis spoke. A lot of things were clearer to her now. Pieces of a complicated puzzle were falling into place. It made perfect sense that the King would be wary about trusting the Basildons because of their connections and the fact that they had a Dutch guest in their household. Anyone could be a spy, even a child, but it was difficult to fathom that the innocent and pious Margaretha would be involved in a nefarious plot against the English monarch. The young Countess sighed. “I can understand why her presence raises suspicions, but it’s hard to believe that she has been drawn into Dutch intrigue. Margaretha is not adept at hiding her emotions. She’s not the least bit sneaky. I got to know her quite well in Den Haag. Her mother died in childbirth and her stepmother hated her. She needed an older sister figure to give her guidance and advice, and I filled that role for her. We became very close. I have to admit that I get a bit annoyed by her piety, but her deep faith in God might keep her from being corrupted." Stopping to pick a bright red flower, she began to twirl its stem in her free hand as they continued their stroll. Lisa always thought better when she was fiddling with something. “However, she did practically beg me to bring her to London. I was planning to ask her anyway. She felt that she would have a better chance at happiness here, and seeing the way she was treated at the Dutch court, I agreed with her.” She looked up at Louis. “I suppose it’s possible that she was pushed into it, but I can’t imagine what she would get in return. If she’s involved, we can’t send her home or she may be harmed or even eliminated. Neither of us wants the death of a sixteen-year-old girl on our conscience. We can have her watched, as you suggest, and search her room when she’s away. Margaretha is always accompanied by a chaperone when she leaves the house without me. Perhaps the chaperone might be able to tell us more. As far as I know, she only goes to the Chapel to pray.” Lisa squeezed Louis’ arm. “You are wise to be cautious, my love, but I honestly don’t think she is collaborating with the Dutch. You don’t know her like I do. Still, we should take precautions. Lucy asked her to lunch tomorrow as she doesn’t have to serve the Queen. Perhaps I should go with her. I ‘I’ve also arranged to meet Lady Lucas on Wednesday to discuss marriage options for Matgaretha. I will watch her carefully. Maybe you should also talk to her yourself, Louis I admit I might be a bit biased toward her. You might see signs that I cannot.”
  15. Aria

    Newcastle House, Tuesday 2 PM, Marriage Talks Part Two

    The Duchess also noticed Margaret’s lack of proper deference. She would speak to her about it later. The girl had probably forgotten in her eagerness to present the bouquet and ask for forgiveness, but such mistakes could be fatal to a young lady’s reputation. As if she had read her mother’s mind, Margaret blushed and curtsied but offered no further apologies, only a sheepish smile. She seemed quite surprised … and a bit confused … by Lady Lucas’ offer. Her eyes sought her mother’s and Lady Newcastle nodded her approval. Margaret's gaze moved to Cordelia. Her smile brightened. “I would love to stroll in the gardens with you, Lady Lucas. The day and time suits me well, and I have several new spring gowns I haven’t worn yet.” She had gone shopping a few times with friends before Easter, but other than that, there had been no other occasions to dress up. She curtsied again, as if multiple acts of deference would erase her earlier faux pas. Or at least that was how it seemed to her mother.
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