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New Years Eve Central Drawing Room- Xmas 1677


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Oh, but he was charming!


“I do not think any high-ranking English lord wished to wed me or my guardian would not have betrothed me to a Spaniard.” Sophia shrugged nonchalantly. “Perhaps he saw my lord husband's potential and knew that he would rise in status. Or he thought it was best I marry a foreigner because I love to travel. Englishwomen rarely leave their country and seem to have no desire to see more of the world. I have an adventurous spirit and first left my home to live abroad when I was only eleven years old.”


If this Lord Deverill had been at court last spring, would he have asked for her hand in marriage? Or was he one of those silver-tongued rakes who saw ladies as nothing more than notches on his bedpost? Perhaps he had left his wife in the country so that he could philander to his heart's content. Or he could be a respectable man with honorable intentions. At this point, it was impossible to tell what kind of person he was.


Carefully feigned confusion flickered across her face when he mentioned seeing her with a gentleman. She and Henry had pretended to ignore each other while they made their plans. Was Lord Deverill so perceptive that he had guessed what they were up to? If so, she had to throw him off of that particular path. “You are the first gentleman whose company I have enjoyed this evening. My lord husband had dinner with a friend and I do not know if he has yet arrived.”


She frowned thoughtfully. “If you mean the gentleman I was sitting next to at the game table, I hardly know him. I think he said he was a miner, or maybe an iron merchant,” Another pretty shrug. “Something having to do with iron anyway.”


Sophia's heart went out to him when he explained that his father had died. “I am so sorry, my lord.” Her lyrical voice was full of compassion. “My own father passed away shortly before the holidays last year. Christmas came and went and I didn't even notice because my heart ached for him.” She sighed softly. “I still miss him dreadfully.”


Asking to be her knight brought a smile to full lips that had been touched with sadness only a moment before. She knew she should turn down his offer, but she actually wanted him to stay with her while she waited. When Henry returned, she was confident that he would come up with a way to extract her from the other Earl's presence.


“Of course, my gallant hero.” Sophia waved a delicate hand toward the nearest chair. “You may sit with me if you wish, but I think you would find more interesting diversions in the Banqueting Hall. The main ball is being held there and I imagine that any lovely young lady would consider herself lucky to dance with you. The damsel in distress you have rescued from solitude is not very exciting, I fear."

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"I find that hard to fathom - they must all have been blind! And this Guardian of yours I think did not have your best interest at heart. A Spainard can offer little but then an Ambassador has, as you state, potential."


She was Adventerous was she. Well that had yet to be determined.


"Why do you continue to utter such strange and unbelievable things I wonder? Am I suppose to think then that you prefer this solitary state? If you were my wife I'd not let you far from sight I can assue you."


He smiled down at her and then took up a chair that had been brought for his use by an attentive servant. He let her remarks pass about who she had been 'talking to' for he had watched her the whole time and his guess was she was deliberate in her words designed to throw him off perhaps? She was smart or at least protective and used to keeping her own counsel as well. It was surprising what a man could gleam about women just from how they walked talked moved and spoke.


He looked away for a moment as if lost in his own thoughts and then whispered


"Ah. A kindred Spirit so rare a thing here in this place.I am sorry to hear of it. You are kind-hearted indeed to say such to a stranger."


He leveled his gaze back to her meeting her eyes directly - this was to show his 'sincerity' as much as gift her with his warmth again - which she had reacted well to before.


"A Challenge? Shall I do such and then will you require proof that I have completed my Task? How should I do that - bring that oh so willing Lady to wherever you have placed yourself next and see if your theory proves true - did she find herself lucky to partner with me?"


His eyes danced at the idea and picture he was creating for her. He wanted to make her laugh and to begin to relax in his company. Once that first step was accomplished then the others would fall cleanly into place.


"Distress? Are you then and how may I help."


His became serious and the last was said in a quiet tone for them alone.


"I shall be most unhappy if you send me off now."


He did look sad and his shoulders slumped a bit to add further credence to his speech.

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“My lord father arranged for English guardians to care for me because he thought that since the new Queen was German, German wives would be in high demand. Apparently, that was not the case.” Sophia chuckled wryly. “I have to admit that I was not the model ward. I was rebellious and prone to getting myself in trouble. I wouldn't blame my guardian for jumping at the first offer of marriage just to get rid of me.”


She couldn't tell him that she had begged and pleaded with Lord Kingston to let her marry Esteban. Her marriage had actually been arranged by Don Juan so that they would have an excuse to see each other more often without any suspicion that they were lovers.


He should be here with me tonight, like he promised. There was still a chance that he would be waiting for her when she went home. Sophia didn't think that he was at the ball or people would be whispering about it. A visit by the Prime Minister of Spain would not go unnoticed. But she wouldn't hold her breath. He could still be in Italy, entwined in the arms of a beautiful opera singer. Or he could be living in deplorable conditions and longing for her as much as she longed for him. Guilt twisted through her heart at the latter notion.


“So you would not give your wife any freedom?” A pale eyebrow quirked curiously. “My lord husband can be possessive, but does not lock me away. He puts few restrictions on my activities and even allowed me to sing the lead role in last week's opera. I wish you could have seen it. It was a magnificent success and the King was immensely pleased.”


He accepted her invitation to sit with her, as she had hoped he would. When he looked away, she regretted speaking about her father's demise, for it appeared that it had brought him painful memories of his own father's passing. Sophia wanted to say that she wished they could be kindred spirits in joy rather than in sorrow, but she had to make sure she did not appear too interested in him or Henry would think she had changed her mind about sneaking off with him.


A bright little thrill meandered down her spine as Lord Deverill turned those lovely green eyes upon her again. The moment of sadness had apparently passed for he jested with her about the suggestion she had made. Again, she chuckled lightly, lyrically. “Oh, that is not necessary. We will both go to the Hall eventually and I will be able to see for myself the delight on the faces of the ladies you ask to dance.” Looking down at her extended foot, she added with a sigh: “All I will be able to do tonight is watch.”


She smiled up at him. “I am in no distress. I just said that because knights usually rescue damsels in distress.” He looked so sad at the possibility that she might send him away that she had to clutch at her skirts to prevent reaching out to him. “I would never do such a thing,” she assured him.


“So what kind of interests do you enjoy, besides for coming to the aid of injured ladies?”


While she enjoyed his company, she was impatient for Henry to return for her. Perhaps she would see Lord Deverill again before the night was over. Or would he forget all about her when other ladies flirted with him? Any ambitious single woman would jump at the chance to marry a handsome Earl.

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"I did not say that at all. Merely that She would not be much out of my sight because I could not bear the idea of not looking upon her at every moment. I think all men are possessive. We hold close that what we treasure and to place ones wife in that context is seen as possessive well ... "


He shrugged as if the thoughts of other men made little interest with him.


"You sing? And Opera no less! I can well imagine the response and I am sad yet again to have missed it. Will you do such again? I confess I am not fond of it yet I think I could be persuaded (insert smile) if you were to ask me to hear it."


She was indeed something of a surprise - young and wed to a man older (or so he surmised) than she, with a body that begs for hours of attention, and well able to create an assignation with other men (if that was what she was doing) - all combined only served to make him want her more. No other female present this night would hold him and he was quite sure his body would need a release sooner than later. Any servant girl would easily scratch that itch after all.


"There is that possibility." He stated on her claim that she would watch for him. "And yet the picture of you there, like this, gives me no pleasure. You are ment to dance and laugh and tease - a thing I think you very good at espically when you smile like that."


"Yes. We Kinghts resuce fair damsels and if ever you have need then you must reach out to me for after all I am the first of your Knights and so claim precedence."


"Interests? I am not much for Sport yet a good ride does wonders for my humours and gives pleasure would you not agree? And I would always resuce a Lady even if my days were filled with every hour spoken for."


He sensed that she was getting a bit anxious for her 'partner' to return even if she did not look to the doors and so he would not linger much longer. He needed her to start wanting his company after all. So he would take his leave knowing that she had taken the bait.


He smiled inwardly as he watched her face and saw the way her fingers grasped her skirt - an all to familiar signs that she was but another soon to be conquest.


Except that there was something that made him want to be less swift with her. He wanted to have her and would he knew but she was well worth taking more time for. There was much that he might gleam from her other than their coupling.


An Ambassador's wife knew things after all, was bound to, and that could help him.


He wondered where her lover had gone to - if it had been him they would aready be encased in each others arms their naked bodies pressing together and her soft voice begging him to never stop .....

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What a sweet sentiment! Sophia had naturally … and erroneously … assumed that because the reason that Esteban had her followed was his lack of trust in her, that Lord Deverill would feel the same way about his own wife. How different things might have been had he been at court last spring. Maybe she would have been his beloved Countess now.


Yet then she would not have met the love of her life. Or she would have become Juan's mistress anyway and betrayed a husband who adored her. She had been drawn to her royal lover from the moment they met, but had tried to deny her feelings until he had confessed his love for her. Maybe he didn't want to let her out of his sight either, but unfortunately, his obligations to his country would always come first. He didn't have a choice. She could not very well go to war with him.


“Forgive me for misunderstanding,” she said. “My English is still not very good. I envy your future wife. She will be a very lucky lady to have a husband like you.”


He didn't like opera? Well, she would just have to change his opinion. “That opera was commissioned by the King to be performed exclusively for nobles. Unless he commissions another one, I will not be singing onstage again, as it is not appropriate for a noblewoman to entertain the general public. I hope to sing for the King and Queen again, though, and perhaps someone will request an aria at tonight's ball.”


Her ice-blue eyes lit up. “I can sing for you if you wish. I often go to the Music Room here in the palace to sing and practice playing the piano, since I do not have one of my own. We could arrange a time and then you could 'happen' to walk in while I'm singing. Then it will not look like we met on purpose and my lord husband will not be suspicious if he finds out you were with me.”


Another blushed blossomed across Sophia's fair cheeks at his compliments. “I am a married lady, my lord. I do not tease.” However the twinkle in her eyes and her mischievous smile suggested otherwise … and that she was teasing him now. “Perhaps I will be able to dance after all. My ankle hardly hurts at all now. It seems that you are good for me.”


Lord Deverill was not the first gentleman to profess that he was her knight, but if she told him that, sadness might overcome him again and she would much rather see that exquisite smile that made her blood race through her veins. “Of course,” she agreed. “You will always be my first choice when I am in need of rescuing.”


He didn't seem to have many interests, but maybe most of them were political and he would not speak of such things in front of a lady. He had mentioned taking his father's seat in Parliament so he must be politically inclined. “I like to ride too. It is quite satisfying and most pleasurable. When I travel, my horse Acapella goes with me and I ride for a few hours every day during the journey.”


She tilted her head to the side. “Have you traveled much, my lord?” He had probably been to the Continent or he would never have seen an opera. Her favorite musical genre was still virtually unknown in England.


Oh Henry, wherefore art thou?

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"Sing for me?" He queried one eyebrow raised at the suggestion. "The Music Room, it would seem, has advantages for many instruments on which to practice and I am always in favor of furthering educations."


"I do not know if that will be such a good thing - your husband is after all a Spainard and they are well know to have hot tempers - and I have no wish to end up on the wrong end of a sword. But how can I refuse what is such a charming offer?"


He looked more serious now as was his intent. It was important that she understand he was in possession of Morals after all and so his token resitanace was a necessity.


"Yet you phrase it so well that my hopes are lifted that it might indeed work!"


He noted her blush the way it tinged her skin lightly in places and it tugged at his own places as she smiled back at him clearly enjoying the complements. She would be a handful he knew but so worth it.


"Then I shall pray that tis so for I would much like to dance with you. We will pair well I think the two of us."


Was she being deliberately obtuse in NOT getting his double meanings? How was that possible? Her command of English was well enough and she was a Courtier after all here in a place where that was a daily if not hourly occurrence! Or maybe she was pretending not to yet had she said she too liked to ride? But then that silly comment about an actual horse ...


"Indeed. Italy - which is where I had my first and last exposure to that thing called 'Opera' and it all Truth twas as if cats were tied together and all crying out at once."


He gave a chuckle and a shake of his head at the remembrance of it


"I hope that will not be held aganist me? It will be a challange indeed to change my mind. Are you sure you are up for it?"


Here then was a warning made as was his custom to ensure that the other was acceptable of the Game about to begin. It was possible that Lady Toledo would not be as aware as the other conquests had been but then was she not even now awaiting a lover?


"I shall not tell all my secrets now Madam! For to do so gives no reason for us to continue does it? And I think I shall take my leave of you now - much as it pains me to do so - for we have I think been seated here a while and I will not have it said that the Ambassador's lovely wife has been in the company of a man not her Husband."


"For he will I am sure come to fetch you or send someone - I would come myself but then I am English ...."


He trailed off then with the purpose of actually taking his leave. His gazed rested over the room noting that many still seemed engaged in childish games so he nodded inwardly. That was a good thing. He would not have tarried like this if there had been older men or women present. No need to risk it all right from the start!


He stood and settled his clothing then looked down at her his eyes on hers then slowly trailing down to her lips and he longed to look lower but dared not too.


He would begin now.


He wanted her to start to want him. For her to become frustrated at not seeing him and then grateful when she did. She would be so highly strung by all of that when they at last coupled he would spoil her for any other Man.


"Lady Toledo. It has been a pleasure. One I hope we repeat. Out there ( a nod towards the Hall) or in some other place."


His hand reached for one of hers and his lips pressed aganist the fair skin seconds longer than needed and he let his fingers slide silkily away then gave her a bow of his dark head and turned away.


He did not look back.



(thank you for being his introduction to Court! until next time)

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“There are many delights to be found there.” Was she the instrument he wanted to practice on and hers the education he wished to further? He was probably quite skilled in the art of intimacy. An image popped into Sophia's mind of the two of them locked together in a passionate embrace. What would his lips taste like, she wondered? What would it feel like to let him …?


A provocative reply formed on her lips, but she managed not to utter it. She had never realized just how difficult it was to refrain from flirting.


“Do not worry. My lord husband is not as temperamental as most Spaniards, and he does not forbid me to associate with gentlemen. He knows that I must be polite to everyone or it will make him … and Spain … look bad. We must pretend we meet by chance, though.” She grinned impishly. “Of course, it will work. But if you think my plan too risky, then I completely understand.” It seemed to her that his reluctance was feigned, or perhaps she just hoped it was.


“I agree. We would dance superbly together. I hope you will ask me later this evening. I will bear the minor discomfort of my injured ankle to test our theory as to how beautifully we will compliment each other in such a pleasurable activity.”


Sophia understood his double-entendre about riding, and started to answer in kind, catching herself in time and adding an innocent comment about riding her horse. Her eyes widened when he mentioned that he had been to Italy. “I lived in Venice for nearly five years and my voice was trained by some of the best opera singers in the world. I was so happy there and hope to return for a visit one day.”


She laughed at his description of how opera sounded to him. “I assure you that I am up to the challenge. I shall be in the Music Room in the latter part of the afternoon on Sunday if you wish to join me.”


Sophia's lips turned down into a pretty little pout when he said he must leave her. “He will not send anyone to fetch me, but if he ever does ...” She grinned playfully. “I would certainly want it to be you who comes for me.” Oops. That saucy remark had just slipped out without thinking, but she didn't regret her unintentional words.


She sighed when he stood up, resigned to his departure. “Thank you, my lord, for allowing me to share your enchanting company. If our paths do not cross again soon, I will be devastated.” She didn't protest when he lifted her hand, and it tingled pleasantly as his lips whispered over it, lingering just a bit longer than necessary. Her face flushed a becoming shade of rose and it was possible he could feel the delicious little tremble that shuddered through her young body.


He walked away from her then, and she admired his fine form until he disappeared into the crowd. Feeling suddenly restless, Sophia rose and began circling the room again, looking toward the door every now and then, hoping that Henry would soon stride through it.



(OOC: And thank you too. It was a fun encounter and Sophia definitely hopes they meet again.)

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A few minutes later Henry returned to the room, with a male servant in tow. His eyes searched out Sophia. Though he located her easily enough, his gaze did not tarry upon her, though he nodded to no one in particular. Rather, he whispered to his manservant who looked more directly In her direction. The man seemed to understand and kept just inside the doorway while Henry moved back into the hallway, seemingly leaving the room.

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Ahhh, there he was!


All thoughts of Lord Deverill fled from her mind when she beheld him. He nodded in acknowledgment that he had seen her and then spoke to his manservant, who glanced toward her. Henry ducked out of the room, as expected, and the manservant waited by the door. Slowly, Sophia strolled closer, but not close enough that any of the servants could see her from their places in the hallway. If they witnessed her 'accident,' Karl might hear of it and go in search of her.


And now it was showtime!


Placing her glass on the tray of a passing servant, she stumbled convincingly, gently and harmlessly twisting her ankle beneath her. Her first instinct was to crumple to the floor, but that would attract too much attention. And so with a silent grimace of pain, she grabbed onto a table, pretending that she needed its support to keep herself upright.

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Her performance was masterful and had the desired effect. Arundel's servant began to move in her direction, with his own practiced look of concern. Arundel had slipped away, awaiting a rendezvous imminently.


Yet, the male hands that first arrived to assist Sophia were those of Benjamin Tobin. He had been watching her the whole time and was closer to her location. "Lady Toledo, are you unwell? How can I assist you?"

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As expected, Henry's servant began moving toward her, but Benjamin Tobin's appearance was a complete surprise. Startled by his touch, Sophia instinctively pulled away. While unwelcome, he offered her a perfect opportunity to back out of a tryst with Lord Arundel if she no longer wished to go through with it. The Earl would understand if she was unable to get away because of the interference of another gentleman. Their affection for each other must remain a secret at all costs and they could always arrange another meeting at a later time.


But was she having second thoughts?




The encounter with Lord Deverill had heightened her desire and she wanted nothing more than to taste Henry's lips and his skin, to feel his hands explore her breasts and that garden of delights between her thighs, to enjoy the way his muscles rippled beneath her own caresses. She longed for him to thrust himself inside her, to hear his groans of pleasure, and see the look of bliss upon his handsome features.


The only thing that would make her stray from her current course of action was if Don Juan walked through the door of the drawing room. An iron merchant was certainly not going to stop her.


It was fortunate that she'd had to improvise quite often during her two years singing opera on the Venetian stage. Sometimes singers would miss their cues, leaving her alone onstage, or they would skip a verse of a duet and she would have to get them back on track. Objects could fall, singers could stumble … all these things required prompt and artful reactions.


In this situation as well, Sophia thought fast and a solution presented itself immediately. “I am fine,” she told her would-be rescuer. Her voice lowered and she willed a hint of caution into it. “The best way you can assist me is to leave me alone. My husband is a jealous man and does not like other gentleman to touch me. Nor would he appreciate you telling him that I was in distress, for he will know that you were watching me and will believe that you fancy me. A servant will be able to help me without suspicion.”


As if noticing Lord Arundel's manservant for the first time, she turned away from Benjamin and took a tentative step toward him. “You!” she called softly. “Find me a quiet place where I can sit and rest for a few moments.”


Without looking back, she whispered: “For my sake and your own, Master Tobin, go back to your game. I assure you I will be all right.”

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Tobin was positively glowing at the opportunity to be a hero; yet, Sophia was quick to release the wind from his sails. "Oh, I see." Spaniards were know to have ill-humor. Alos, if anyone had a wife as beautiful as Sophia, they would likely have her followed wherever she went. He was about to offer to fetch her servant when the blond instead called out to another servant. Having lost his incentive at intervening, Ben retreated. There was nothing to gain here. It was better for him to set his sights elsewhere. This lady was too dangerous. "As you wish," he mumbled, while taking his leave.


Arundel's servant, however, was quick to approach. "Yes your ladyship. I know a quiet place. May I assist you?" He offered his arm for her to lean upon as he led her into the attached servant's corridor. Walking slowly with her, the pair was avoided by the other servants bringing food and spirits into the room.


It was not far to the storage room. The door creaked inward and there was already light in the room, a lit lantern atop a nearby keg. "Right in here maam. I'll be back with cider." He ushered her into the room and then closed the door behind her, standing sentinel outside.


As the door closed, Sophia would find the Earl of Arundel, wearing an amused smile. His jacket was off, despite the cold, and his shirt was open, his cravat resting elsewhere. A bottle of wine rested nearby.


The storeroom had a stack of crates that were just high enough for Sophia to sit upon comfortably. Arundel's fur cloak was draped over accrete quite near. There were kegs and barrels along the wall.


"Bravo," he whispered. He moved quickly to take a kiss unbidden. "No deception or performance is too great to be in your arms."

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Sophia was glad that she had not lost her touch when it came to influencing people with her acting abilities. She had not actually lied to him either. Esteban did have the stereotypical fiery Spanish temper and while he might not be the jealous type, he was definitely possessive, if only to keep her from the temptation of betraying his master. In fact, she could have said that he had killed a man to defend her honor and she would still have been telling the truth.


Her warning had been designed to appeal to Master Tobin's sense of self-preservation. and it had the desired effect. He escaped back to less dangerous pursuits, leaving her with Lord Arundel's servant, who played his own part to perfection. “Thank you,” she said, taking the arm he offered her. “I will make sure you are rewarded for your help.”


Leaning heavily against him, she let him lead her into the servant's corridor, reminding herself to keep limping and wincing from time to time. There were other servants in the hall and if she suddenly started walking normally, it would be noted and probably remarked upon. Limping on purpose was a bit more difficult than limping from an injury and Sophia was relieved that the closet Henry had appropriated was not very far away.


Her heart began to beat rapidly in her chest as the door was opened. As soon as she stepped over the threshold, she would not be able to change her mind. Was this what she truly wanted?




She walked inside without hesitation, looking around as the door closed behind her. It was some kind of storage room, filled with kegs, barrels, and crates. The flickering of the single lantern created a romantic glow. And there was Henry, haloed by the light and looking more handsome than ever with his jacket discarded and his shirt open. A tantalizing heat suffused her young body, escalating in that sacred place between her thighs.


When he kissed her, she placed her small hands against his chest, reveling in the warmth and texture of his skin. “I would do anything to be with you,” she whispered, leaning forward to kiss his exposed flesh. Pulling back to study him, she added in a teasing tone: “I have to confess that I feel a bit overdressed.”


She glanced toward the lantern on the keg. "There's nothing flammable in here, is there? Our passion may blaze brightly, but I don't want to burn the palace down around us."

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"It is we that are flammable, my love, for surely we shall immolate in passion," Henry whispered huskily in response to Sophia's quip. "I have the necessary powder and it shall explode with a fury that shall please you."


"But come, time is short, and I have been burning with desire to taste your love for days," he added urgently as he embraced her, kissing her feverishly and lifting her up so that she might rest on a crate that was at a convenient height to allow him to enter her while standing.


Fumbling with his breeches momentarily, he loosened them to permit union, his own manhood turgid in anticipation. Only then did he resume kissing while his hands slid up her silk skirts. Pressing against her, it was clear that he was consumed with ardor and he moved with urgency to complete the coupling that had been long in the waiting.

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“Fireworks,” she purred. “When my flame ignites your powder, we will create the most exquisite fireworks together, more beautiful than anything we have ever seen before.” Pulling away from him briefly, Sophia picked up the lantern and placed in a safe part of the room, where it wouldn't accidentally set anything on fire or be knocked over in the excitement of their joining.


And then she was in his arms, returning his kisses with all of the ardor that she had suppressed during the past week. A storage room was her not her ideal place for a tryst, but neither was a carriage, which was where she had first made love to Juan. Hopefully, they would be able to sneak away to Henry's cabin soon and explore their love for each other more thoroughly, but now all she wanted was to feel him inside her right away. They had both waited so long for this moment. Her desire was like the pinnacle of a raging storm, consuming her mind, body, and spirit.


He lifted her up onto a crate that would have been impossible for her to reach on her own. Her legs swung beneath her as she watched him undo his breeches and little waves of bliss rippled through her when she saw the proof of his passion. Reaching out, she stroked his rigid member, wishing that there was time for her to taste it.


Yet his kisses were sweet and demanding and she gasped against his lips when she felt his hands glide smoothly up her skirts. Wetness blossomed between her thighs and she spread them to give him easy access. She could feel her inner muscles contracting in anticipation, increasing the dazzling sensations surging within her. Their bodies were pressed together, her silk-covered breasts crushed against his chest. Moaning softly, Sophia gently tightened her grip on his manhood and guided it toward the source of her delight, tilting her hips upward and lifting her legs to joyfully receive him.


"Now, my love." Her lyrical voice was sultry and a bit breathless. "Take me now and make me yours."

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Henry needed no urging. In fact, it might have taken a regiment of pikemen to keep him at bay from Sophia in that moment.


He was speedy in his work, a rushed intrusion, Kisses were fervent and muscles were tense. Yet, he was a bit too speedy in his work, perhaps as a result of heightened arousal. He lasted a bare three minutes before exploding inside. It took a sober minute afterward for him to feel guilty about his hasty arrival. He kept up the motion as he assured his lover "fear not I am good for more." While some men might need a few minutes respite, the Earl was good at his word, maintaining a steady lunge. There was little sense that his flesh would fail him. In fact, he seemed to stiffen within, after another several minutes.


This time he seemed to last ten minutes before his grunts signaled another release was imminent. He hammered away like a smithy with only flesh as his trade. There was no attempt to pull the blade from the furnace. Rather, his lungs sounded as bellows to fan the flame inside, and the metal became molten as the coals collected their liquid.

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When he slammed into her all at once, Sophia's cry of bliss was muffled by Henry's vehement kisses. Wrapping his legs around his waist to pull him in deeper, her hips momentarily rose so that she could sweep the back of her skirts out of the way. Now she could feel the smooth texture of the wood beneath her bare bum, and the flames of pleasure raging through her small body burned brighter. She returned his kisses with wild abandon, tilting her hips with each thrust he made. He filled her completely and they moved together with a perfect and delectable rhythm.


Perhaps it was a testament to his love for her that he climaxed so fast. She didn't have time to be disappointed for as soon as she felt the warmth of his seed spurt through her, her own ardor overwhelmed her with a suddenness that both startled and delighted her. Wave after wave of excruciating pleasure washed over her. Yet she wasn't completely satisfied. She wanted more, so much more.


Apparently, so did he, for he assured her that he wasn't done. How could either of them be blamed for surrendering so quickly to the passion that had consumed them for so long? “So am I,” she whispered, her breath brushing against his ear. Tantalizing sensations continued to shimmer through her, rapidly building in intensity. Feeling him harden inside her was an intriguing experience, so enthralling that another influx of pure ecstasy shot through her about five minutes into their second round. She writhed beneath him, reveling in the way her inner muscles convulsed around him.


And still the fire within her blazed intensely. Sophia's hands caressed his back, moving to his neck and through his hair and back again as he steadily drove into her. Her tongue danced sublimely with his, and her ankles were securely crossed around his waist as she bounced up and down on the crate. Not a complete novice when it came to sex, she could tell when he was about to explode again and her legs tightened around him. Her kisses became more demanding as her mind, body, and spirit sang a beautiful refrain that she was certain would culminate in the most breathtaking crescendo of all.

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For a second time he exploded within her. This time a slower build to a crescendo. His voice was limited to grunting loudly. He dared not shout anything, even surrounded with a background of loud ambient noise from the festivities outside.


Sophia was skilled for a young girl the Earl noted. Most young woman knew little other than be a passive receptacle. The blond beauty seemed willing to be an active participant. It was worth the wait. Henry had wondered whether she was a flirt that would not make good on whispered promises. Yet, here they were, in the aftermath of a true assignation. "That was fantastic love," he murmured appreciatively.


There were noises outside the door and Henry heard his servant tell others that no one was allowed in the storeroom. The bribes would only last so long in deterring those in need of more mead. Already his mind began to think of how they might carry on in the future.


"We do not have much time he whispered." Knowing that he might not have another opportunity for days, if not weeks, he declared "I need perhaps 15 minutes to recover." He reached for the goblets of wine. "Shall we chance it?" There was concern about her manservant, or a more senior servant forcing his way in, but Henry was willing to take the risk. Was Sophia?

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Icy hot thrills pulsed through her, directly to her brain. Sophia was lost in her need for him, and

she would do anything, anything at all, as long as he did not stop, as long as he continued to give her such exquisite sensations. Her desire increased with each thrust, so intense she thought she was going to die from the sheer bliss of him.


Without any warning, her passion reached its peak, and the most magnificent flood of ecstasy erupted within her. If Henry's lips had not been pressed against hers, she would have screamed out his name, but as it was, her lyrical cries were muffled by the kisses he lavished upon her. Her joy strengthened, intense euphoria spreading through her mind, body and soul, sending her soaring on the wings of pleasure to place of beauty from which she never wished to return.


But at last, the lovely feelings began to subside and Sophia sighed in satisfaction. “It was positively divine,” she agreed. Her heart still beat rapidly as brilliant little aftershocks rippled through her. Although she could hear his manservant turning people away from the storage room, she was still floating on air and wasn't really alarmed.


He suggested that they have another go in about fifteen minutes and she could feel herself becoming aroused again. “Perhaps we should play it by ear. We can have a drink while you recover, and if anyone does insist upon entering, we can keep to our original plan and say that you're looking in on me after hearing that I had twisted my ankle.”


Leaning forward, she kissed his bare chest again. “But everything has to look innocent so you must dress yourself and stay a proper distance away from me until you are ready again.” Reluctantly, she unwrapped her legs from around his waist. When he slid out of her, she felt bereft. “Do you have anything that I can clean myself up with?”


Bringing an extra cloak to disguise herself with was not the only preparation Sophia had made for a possible romantic rendezvous. There were plain handkerchiefs in her petticoat pockets as well as a small vial of expensive perfume to mask the scent of lovemaking. Still, she would rather use his handkerchiefs than her own, as she would need them later if they surrendered to their passion a third time.


“We can also plan our next meeting while we wait. I would love to go to your cottage again and I think I may have figured out how to sneak away without anyone realizing that I'm gone.”

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Half hidden in the shadow recesses where walls curved and torch light did not reach fully he watched. His first thoughts had been proven right - no Noble Lady, let alone an Ambassadors Wife, would slink off to some room used for storage no matter how adept the 'injury' was. Yet had he not also preformed such tricks? hide in plain sight was such a simply yet clever way to not be seen!


He knew the name now of the man she had waited for - twas an easy thing to ask any Court servant in livery to provide - and a penny here and there was no loss to his purse. That man had, in his haste to sample the Gardens of Spain, been careless. Using his own manservant to act as watchman was foolish for now any with eyes might note the actions of the Master. That manservant would wear a badge that told anyone in who's employe he was and that he also had protection.


Now he had gained another thing of usefulness to be aired or not at the right moment. Timing was, after all, Everything.


He would remian there until one of them emerged and he would wager it would be the man and by the look of things that would be soon. Some sweet words to her saying that he would 'see it safe by leaving first' perhaps a lingering kiss and then she would find herself alone.


He was curious now to see how the ending would be played. She herself had said she had been upon a Stage so he knew her now to be capable of anything to achieve the fullfillment of her desire and the fact that she enjoyed a risk pleased him. Yes. He had found a distraction for the coldness of Winter.


He would be the Ideal Lover.


Did she long for romance or adventure? He would create the illusion she longed for. Amongst all the disenchantment and baseness that surrounded her here at Court. Wed to a man older than she and one who did not warm her bed or was enough for she was young was likely. He will create the illusion she was desiring.


To Begin ...

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"Yes, let us see how quickly we can recommence," Henry agreed. Her kisses upon his chest were helping.


"I have two handkerchiefs," Arundel revealed. He had not thought to seek a bucket of water. It would likely be too cold anyway.


"I shall ignore you the rest of the evening," he pledged. "Now tell me your idea for coming to my cottage alone." He was intrigued.

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Sophia believed she could speed up his arousal with expressive hands and eager lips, but it would be disastrous for both of them if someone should push his servant aside and open the door, finding them in a compromising position. Everything should appear innocent, as if Henry was just keeping her company while she rested her ankle.


“One should do,” she said, holding out her hand for the handkerchief and then wiping herself clean in a sensuous fashion to further inflame him. “I don't think we should ignore each other,” she mused as she stood up and smoothed down her skirts. “My lord husband knows that we are acquainted. He might become suspicious if we have no contact at all. In fact, dancing together is an excellent way to throw him off. He would expect us to avoid each other if we were lovers.”


Sitting back down, Sophia folded her hands primly in her lap. “Last winter, I received a bump on my head that causes headaches every now and then. I usually remain in my bed with the curtains drawn and my husband has never disturbed me. If we meet on Monday or Tuesday, he will probably be at the Embassy anyway and my bodyguard doesn't follow me when I'm at home. Anna usually stays with me in case I need anything.


“I have some old clothes that I can wear to disguise myself as a commoner, as well as a dark wig I bought last spring. I can then sneak out of my room and leave by the servant's entrance. If anyone asks who I am, I'll say that I am Anna's niece and I needed to deliver a message to her. She's German too, and I can thicken my accent so that I sound different.” Her maidservant had brought Henry the news that she could not meet with him last week, so he would know that she could be trusted.


“I'll be on foot, so you will need to meet me somewhere close by and then take me to your cottage. Or send someone for me with a special password like you did before. We should have several hours before I have to return.”

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"I spoke too quickly when I said ignore," Henry replied as he straightened his own attire to look more proper. There was the matter of his breeches still pulled down. He used the other handkerchief briefly and pulled them up, temporarily at least.


"I meant disinterest," he corrected. "A dance would be fine, but no obvious interest in each other during or after," came the advice.


Arundel found himself nodding at Sophia's plan. When a woman wanted a good shag, she would let nothing stand in her way. She would become quite creative.


"What will you say if someone looks in your bed and you are gone?" That would be hard to explain. He did not wish to discourage her; rather, wanted to think through the various risks. "Is there a shop nearby that I van have a coach collect you there, while you pretend to be shopping?" His mind, even though under the influence of stiff drink, was still churning. "Shall we pass notes through your maid Anna?" Thinking further he indicated "I have a flat just off the Strand. We could meet there. It is unlikely you will have enough time to travel to my cottage unless your husband is out of town."

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Henry amended his suggestion to compliment her own. “You should approach me when I'm with him and ask him if you can dance with me. He will appreciate you requesting his permission and will not believe we know each other well. And yes, I agree that we should not even glance at each other after our dance.” Sophia smiled seductively. “It's going to be hard to keep my eyes away from you, but I suppose I'll manage.”


He raised a good point about her escape plan. “Nobody has ever bothered me before. Anna turns them away at the door to my sitting room. The bedroom is beyond that and even if the door is open, you can't see the bed unless you walk inside. But just to be safe, I can have some linens piled under the blankets to look like a human form. Perhaps Anna can purchase a blonde wig that can peek out from beneath the covers.”


She shook her head when he asked if there were any shops nearby. “There's nothing but the other Embassies. We can exchange messages through Anna, but it would be better to work everything out now. It's less dangerous.” Sophia spoke as if being alone together in a storeroom was not perilous at all. “I didn't know you had a flat in the city. It doesn't matter where we meet as long as we can be together.


“It's a long walk to the Strand. I could do it, but it would waste some of our precious time and I would rather save my energy for more pleasurable pursuits." She tilted her head thoughtfully and then looked up and grinned up at him. “I think I have the perfect solution. Disguise yourself as a coach driver and pick me up yourself. We can both pretend that we're commoners until we get to your flat. It will be fun.”

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"Very well." He would ask for a dance in the presence of her husband. That was a wise idea.


He felt differently about the plan with the bed. "Better to be caught with an empty bed. You could say you went for a walk. A bed with an illusion of a person inside is an admission that you are sneaking out for wickedness."


"I should be happy to be your driver milady," Arundel declared with a feigned bow. "One street away? Up one or down one?" he sought to clarify. I shall have a red ribbon around my hat so that you cannot miss me on my coach," he chuckled. "What day and what hour is best for you?" It was clear that he was planning to accommodate her schedule. It was easier for him to get away than her.

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Her ankle felt fine now. There was no reason she would not be able to dance, although she might not be able to participate in every dance of the evening. Though she had pretended to twist her ankle again, she would say that 'resting' had improved it greatly.


“Wickedness?” Sophia flashed him an impish sideways smile. “I wouldn't call what we did wicked. It was divine.” But her husband wouldn't see it that way. “I'll leave the bed empty then. Nobody is going to try to disturb me anyway. They know how protective Anna is when I'm ill.”


She laughed with delight when he bowed and promised to play her coach driver. It seemed that he was as adventurous as she was. “Two streets away from the Embassy in the direction of the Strand. You can drive toward me and ask if I need a ride just in case there are people out on the street. No one will think it's odd that a handsome coach driver volunteers his services to a pretty young girl.”


As for a date and time, Esteban would most likely be home on Sunday and she would be visiting Lord Langdon and his ward after Church. Sophia wished she could meet with Henry on Monday, but she had a painting lesson with Lord Chichester in the morning, and tea with Lady Frances Cavendish in the afternoon. And she had all but promised to be in the Music Room in the later afternoon to sing for Lord Deverill. Assuming he decided to show up.


“Tuesday,” she said. “Around noon, if that is all right with you. I would like it to be sooner, but I've already made arrangements to spend time with friends and I can't cancel them or it will look as if I planned to have a headache in advance.”

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"Wickedly delicious," Arundel amended. "Like chocolate." He offered an appreciative smile.


"Two streets toward the Strand around noon on Tuesday," he repeated back to her. "If you send me a note, send it to my townhouse on Picadilly." He was not proud of the lodgings he had secured. It had been a house owned by his father and he had acquired it as part of a dispute with his father. "I have separate lodgings that my manservant acquired for me, and I use it when I wish to escape my father's spies. That is where we will meet."


Impatiently, Henry began to rub his groin, hoping to awaken the slumbering instrument. Time was wasting and he was keen to have one more go before Tuesday. "I'm getting there," he assured the blond beauty.

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“I would rather have you than chocolate any day.”


Sophia feared that Henry would have made previous engagements on Tuesday afternoon, but it appeared that he was free. “I'll only send you a note if I can't get away and I'll have Anna personally deliver it to your manservant.” She wasn't certain that her correspondence wasn't opened and read before it was sent, especially since the opera. Perhaps she should have Anna look into the path her letters took when they left her desk.


“Maybe you should give your servants that afternoon off? Or do you think they will not suspect my true identity when I'm dressed like a commoner? If Anna really does have a niece, I will use her name. Otherwise I will just invent one, which I will reveal to you when you pick me up.”


While one would assume that planning another assignation would enhance one's libido, Sophia didn't feel quite as amorous as she had before. Maybe so much thinking had pushed her desire to the back of her mind. It seemed to be the same with Henry. She was experienced enough in the art of love to rekindle his passion and her own.


“I think I can help,” she purred. Standing up, she closed the short distance between them and pressed her luscious curves against him. As she kissed him,one small hand moved up into his dark hair, and the other slipped into his breeches to fondle him.

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"The feeling is mutual, Henry replied.


Henry had other plans for Tuesday but they paled against a chance to have another go at Sophia. An assignation with her would likely trump most anything else he might be doing.


"Worry not your pretty head about my servants. Only a select one or two will be ivolved and they are most discreet."


Sophia's hand moved to assist Arundel in his dilemma, It was a welcome touch surely though it did not receive the immediate response desired. Men were sometimes cursed with an inability to rise to the occasion, especially when trying so hard to command obedience from one's body. The mental pressure on himself worked to undo the benefit of the gentle touch. The kiss was most welcome but Sophia, even as young as she was, could sense anxiety on Henry's part as his body yielded not to command.

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Sophia nodded when he said his servants were discreet. She trusted him, He had as much to lose, if not more, than she did if their affair was discovered. Esteban had already killed a man to protect her honor. He would probably have no qualms about doing it again.


She would have thought that the sight of her alone would be enough to get a rise out of him, but not even her touch was enough to bring his cock to attention. Her own desire came rushing back in full force as soon as she began to caress him.


He was anxious, she could tell that much. Maybe he needed another kind of distraction to take his mind off of his dilemma. Removing her hand from his breeches, she stepped back and began to run her fingers sensually over her own body, caressing her cleavage and moving slowly over her silk-covered breasts and down to her waist.


“Can you tell how much I want you, my love?” she asked. Lifting her skirts with one hand so that he could see her stocking-covered calves, the other moved below her stomacher to caress her mound over her skirts. “Come to me, Henry," she coaxed. "This time, I want to be on top."


If her sensual performance didn't work, perhaps it would be wise to have their third round on Tuesday They had been in the storeroom for nearly half an hour already, if not longer. How much time did they have before they ran out of luck? “I want you so much, my love,” she whispered. “But if we must wait until Tuesday. I will understand and will long for you until you are inside me again.”

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