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Aria

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  1. The three-story manor on Pall Mall that Juliana had rented was more beautiful in the spring than it had been in the winter. Crisp new leaves were growing on the trees and the bushes along the circular drive bloomed with multicolored flowers. Even at night, their bright hues could be seen if one carried a lantern. Their pleasing fragrance was strong upon the cool breeze. The plain red brick building was bathed in moonlight, making it seem both eerie and beautiful. Candles flickered in a few of the higher windows, but all of the others were dark. Inside, the self-styled princess put the finishing touches on her preparations, a wicked smirk on her face as she waited for her highly anticipated guest to arrive.
  2. 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.
  3. 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?”
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.
  7. Juliana could tell that Charles was in a lot of pain as he stood up. Maybe I left him too long, she thought with a pang of guilt. His muted hiss of discomfort made her wince. This was supposed to be a pleasurable night for him, not one of agony. Unless he enjoyed the pain. She knew he liked being spanked from the last time she had invited him to her manor. He seemed to recover quickly enough, carrying out her instructions perfectly. She picked up the glass of wine he set in front of her, noticing how he paused before offering her a pastry. “Lift it to my lips,” she instructed. When he had done so, she began to nibble on it slowly and seductively until she reached his fingers. Grabbing his wrist, she held it in place while she thoroughly licked his fingers. “Another,” she demanded as she took a sip of wine. After she had consumed three of them, licking his fingers each time, she sat back and smiled. “You have done well. I believe you deserve a reward.” Juliana held her hand out to one of her ‘priestesses,’ who gave her a silky black scarf. Standing up, she walked toward Charles, her hips swinging sensuously. “Remain still.” Moving behind him, she tied the scarf over his eye so that he wouldn’t be able to see what she did next. The other ‘priestess’ brought out two long boxes that had been hidden behind the drapery. She opened one and admired its contents for a moment. The collar had been made to her specifications. It was fashioned of black leather and had sharp silver studs on the front and sides so that Charles would not be touch it. He could unbuckle it from the back if he really wanted to be free of it, but she didn’t think it would. It also had a large golden ring hanging from the front and back where a leash could be hooked attached, depending on whether she wanted him upright or on his knees. Juliana picked it up and fastened it around Charles neck, making certain that it wasn’t too loose nor too tight. Then she stepped in front of him and plucked the blindfold from his face. “There,” she said with satisfaction. “Now you belong to me forever. Do you want to see how it looks on you?”
  8. What was he thinking while I was gone? Has he learned his lesson about being punctual when I send for him? Juliana herself could forgive Charles for such a small transgression, but Venus couldn’t. Venus must never be kept waiting and she must have perfect obedience from her slaves or they would be cast from her presence into eternal disgrace. The pretend princess did relish the role he had cast her in last winter. This wasn’t the first time she had portrayed the Goddess of Love, but it was by far the most satisfying. She watched as Charles rose to his knees. After a half hour of lying face down, his muscles were probably protesting. He kept his eyes lowered and didn’t say a word, waiting for her instructions. “I find myself in need of refreshment.” Her voice was low and seductive, hoping to paint images in his mind of various types of sensuous refreshment she might wish for. “There is a tray containing an assortment of pastries on a table near the fireplace, along with a carafe of wine and a glass. Stand up and bring them to me.” One of the whores fetched a small table from in back of the tableau and set it before Juliana. The other one brought out a second table as well as a basin full of water and a clean cloth. “You will set the tray on the empty table. You will wash your hands in the basin. Then you will pour me a glass of wine and feed me." She sat down upon her throne ... an ordinary chair draped with cloth-of-gold ... within the circle of candles. “If you please me, I will bestow upon you the gift that I planned to give you before you disappointed me."
  9. Aria

    Back in the Office Tuesday Afternoon

    Sam understood his concerns. If the King was not in danger, then Charles would be free to pursue a personal matter while off-duty. Now, though, his obligation was to make certain that the murderer was caught and locked away. She also understood how dedicated he was to the King’s service and that he would never shirk his responsibilities for any reason whatsoever. It was definitely possible that the monarch had been the assassin’s true target and that the victim had stopped him at the expense of his own life. The King’s safety must be protected at all costs. His dilemma was difficult to solve. Sam was pleased that he had shared the problem with her and asked for her advice. She was also sorry that she had misunderstood him. He wanted to link Lewin to a plot against the King. When he turned and looked her in the eyes, she met his gaze. A frown creased her forehead. “It will be tricky, as he has shown no animosity toward the crown. It seems that he is interested in the dagger for reasons of his own. But he could just as easily be involved in either plot. His obsession with the dagger may jut be a ploy to distract you. Or he plans to use it against the King.” She sighed. “There are so many things we do not know. I agree that he can’t be accused without solid proof. If it turns out that he is innocent, then you will lose credibility. If he was in those secret passages, he could be a threat to the King. I don’t know them well, but there might be a door that leads into the King’s apartments or those of York. He could even be the assassin himself. I don’t think he’ll flee. He wants the dagger. Even if he does elude us now, he’ll be back for it.” Charles’ frustration was almost palpable and Sam’s heart went out to him. She wished she could reach out and take his hand, but she did not dare. “I don’t think the servants know more than they have already told us. The children might. Trijntje told me that she sneaked into his house more than once when she rode beneath the seat of the coachman who took him home. I also know that the she and her brother speak a foreign language when they’re alone together. I can’t recognize it and they run off when I ask them about it. Perhaps they would be more likely to talk to you.” Sam tilted her head to the side as an idea popped into her mind. “You need proof to arrest Lewin, but not to suspect him. We know he’s hiding something and that he was probably in those passageways. Would not suspicion itself warrant an investigation? No stone should be left unturned when the King’s life is in peril.”
  10. Juliana smirked as she looked down on Charles, lying flat on the floor at her command. She thought about leaving him there for an hour or two. He would probably like that form of punishment, and it would give her time to get herself back under control, but it would be insufferably boring for both of them. The idea was too enticing to resist, but she would not leave him that long. In light of his disobedience, she was going to change her plans a bit and needed to rearrange some things in her bedchamber. The self-styled princess had returned to Sweden during recess because she knew of a shop there that catered to the kind of sex play that she and Charles enjoyed. They even made items to the customer’s specifications and the owners knew her well. She had brought quite a few things back with her that she planned to use tonight. “You will lie there and contemplate your transgressions and how you can better serve your goddess. My priestesses will stand on either side of you to make certain that you do not move.” The two whores didn’t have to be told what to do and soon they were standing at Charles’ sides, silent and still in their white robes. Juliana strode toward the door that led to her bedchamber, her bare footsteps a bit louder than usual because she wanted him to know that she was leaving. She pulled open the door, stepped inside, and then closed it firmly behind her. As she set reorganizing, her body hummed enticingly as she imagined Charles face-down on the floor waiting for her. What, she wondered, was going on in his mind? Was it painful lying on a rigid cock? It took about a half hour before she was satisfied. Juliana walked back into the sitting room that she had transformed into her temple. Gliding over to Charles, she lifted one foot and gently traced the marks on his arse and then moved it further up his back while fluttering her toes. At a nod, the whores went back to their original places by the circle of candles. “You may rise to your knees now, slave, and I shall give you a task to perform for me.”
  11. 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.
  12. 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.”
  13. 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?”
  14. 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.
  15. 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?)
  16. 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.”
  17. 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.”
  18. 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.
  19. 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.”
  20. 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?”
  21. 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?"
  22. 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.”
  23. 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!”
  24. 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.”
  25. 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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