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Denbigh, Nicci, Anne-E | Sidethread- Xmas 1677


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Nicolette and Anne-Elisabeth (approach Denbigh)


"You don’t need to flatter me." Nicci returned with a grin, "still we make quite a bouquet now together don’t you think?"


"Which coast is it on?" she wanted to know of Cambray, "for I am traveling to Badminton in the recess, perhaps I shall pass Cambray and visit?" It did sound as though Elizabeth Anne loved the ocean very much. Nicci liked it well enough, but was not devoted to it like that, while her mother actively abhorred it. "Do tell me why you adore it so?" Nicolette asked, curious.


Yet falling into gossip Lady Cambray revealed a bit of herself also. Widowed apparently. Nicci's best friend was a young widow also. "Oh I dare say you can ease your grief now you are here at court, there are so many gentlemen, and all just love ladies attention." Nicolette flashed a smile.


"Dorset’s wife was not an actress, although, aren’t we all a little bit of an actress? He was fleetingly married to Lady O'Roarke, to both of their horror. Oh but you must meet Lady O'Roarke when she returns to court, she is simply the most wonderful woman. She must be so relieved to be rid of him, so will surely return to celebrate her freedom again. She is probably away in confinement right now, though I cant be certain - apart from being the most wonderful woman she is also the Duke of Yorks Mistress." she paused, then voiced the thought out aloud, "I suppose it was the Duke that assured the annulment."


Assured that Elizabeth-Anne did not want to meet courts matrons, Nicolette drew her upon tge approach of Denbigh. "Then you might help me seduce my dear friends best friend to our affection. There he is, talking animatedly, I have little idea of whom he is talking to, but for a certainty they shall not be as charming as us." Nicolette laughed with the fun...


To meet Denbigh but how?


With a conspiratorialsmile to her newest friend, Nicolette turned about to position herself back to back to the Man Denbigh was talking to.


"Well I might tell you that the gaining of the role of Lady of Misrule required a little creativity in itself." she replied to Elizabeth Anne just before bending enough to perform a stout bump to the man behind hers bum!


That ought to get a reaction.


Denbigh was talking to man in his thirties. The girls were close enough to hear the word kidnapped before Nicolette bumped Denbigh in the derierre.


Like a polite person, he turned his head around, and when he saw that it was a woman, he knew what he must do.


"My apologies, Mademoiselle Vauquelin, it is quite the packed room, is it not?"

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{OOC: Reposting here so no one has to sift through the main thread to find Anne-Elisabeth's last reply.)


“I only speak the truth,” Anne-Elisabeth insisted. “And yes, the two of us do make a lovely bouquet. No gentleman will able to resist our allure.” Mademoiselle Vauquelin had a pretty way with words, and the Countess pondered how to turn the idea of women as bouquets into a limerick.


“Cambray is on the southern coast but I'm not completely certain if I'll be returning there during recess. I just got here and I might want to stay in London. But if I do, you're certainly welcome to visit. There's not a lot to do there, but we can walk along the shore and collect seashells or ride our horses on the sand.”


A wistful expression crossed her pretty face when asked why she loved the ocean. “I grew up in Barbados. My father's sugar plantation was only a short ride from the beach and I spent a lot of time by the sea … or in it. It's such a beautiful place and the weather is always divine. I've been in England a little over a year and I still miss Barbados dreadfully. I adored the way the sound of the breeze ruffling the leaves of the pine trees and I still crave the taste of the water inside a coconut.” Anne-Elisabeth sighed. “I'll go back one day, even though my place is here now.”


A moment later, she smiled. “What lady, widow or otherwise, can resist the charms of a handsome gentleman?”


So Lord Dorset and his former wife had both been appalled to discover they were married. They must have been really drunk the night they were wed. Lady Cambray reminded herself never to drink too much. She didn't want the same thing to happen to her. Marriage was not in her future, at least not for several years and possibly not ever.


Ahh, no wonder this Lady O'Roarke had not wanted to be tied down, as she was the Duke of York's mistress. Their names even rhymed. Perhaps she would compose a limerick about them one day. “I look forward to meeting her when she returns to court. We have at least one thing in common. Though I found Lord Dorset both witty and pleasant, I have no desire to become his wife.”


Mademoiselle Vauquelin was quite naughty, wanting to seduce a dear friend's best friend. Anne-Elisabeth's eyes followed hers but there were so many pairs of gentlemen engaged in conversation , she wasn't certain which one she meant. “I would be delighted to help you.” Narrowing her eyes impishly, she added: “As long as you don't mind sharing his attention with me. I promise to leave you alone with him whenever you wish.”


Her new friend implied that she had become the Lady of Misrule by her own machinations. What an intriguing woman she was! “And how did you manage that?”


When Nicolette purposefully bumped into a gentleman's backside, Anne-Elisabeth assumed that was the gentleman she wished to seduce. Since the other lady obviously knew what she was doing, she decided the best course of action was to follow her lead.

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"Oh never mind perhaps some other time." Nicolette replied cheerfully. Her own recess plans were very well developed already, though of course she needed to remain a little fluid for other royal possibilities if presented. (Possibly she might be invited to recess at the Kings favourite Windsor - you really never knew what might a-recess happen!)


Nicci was absorbed by Anne-Elisabeth’s descriptions of Barbados, her eyes widening with surprise as she spoke of swimming, and then blinking lack of understanding of water inside of cocoanuts. "Mmm, I like hot cocoa." she wondered if it was something the same.


But all in all she understood that lovingly reminiscing of home did not mean that you wanted to be there right now. "I am the same." she replied thinking of her own childhood home, so near to her heart yet distant too. One day she might visit again, but she knew it would never be the same.


They were chattering about Lady O'Rourke (Nicci's mentor, though Heather did not know that for it was a secret) as they sidled up to the men - and she was just telling Elizabeth of the creativity to get what one wished at court, when Nicci demonstrated just that thing with a derriere-collison in lieu of introduction!


Kidnapping, had she heard the word kidnapping?


In a slight misjudgement of angles, she collided with Denbigh himself, who then turned. Turned to see Nicolette lift hand to her mouth in a classic 'whoopsie' pose. Though her eyes shone with amuse.


""Yet not near so crowded as I like it, don’t you agree dear Denbigh?" Nicolette illustrated her point by moving closer still to the fine gentlemen, and coaxing her new playmate Elisabeth and to shimmy up cosy-close with her too.


He knows my name, that must mean that Ranelagh has been talking to him about me, or, or perhaps I am better known at court that I've thought?


"But we could not help except over hear that you are talking of kidnapping. How exciting. I have always thought that must be such an adventure," she teased him with a wink, "providing one has exquisite kidnappers of course." She smiled towards the other gentleman. Who is he, she wondered?


"Oh but I’ve not yet introduced my new friend, and you've yet to introduce yours."


"My Lady Cambray, recent from Barbados, enjoying the liberation of widowhood even if never kidnapped - yet! Please may I introduce you to Lord Denbigh - man of the finest tastes and pleasures, with a merry smile as you can see, and I'll warrant a fine dancer too."

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Anne-Elisabeth took Nicolette's cheerful change of heart to mean that she had no desire to spend her recess in a place where there was nothing much to do. She couldn't blame her, for after only a few days in London, she didn't relish going back herself. If she did, she supposed that she could throw a lot of parties and devise entertainment that would have courtiers begging for an invitation. Unfortunately, it would have to be done over her mother-in-law's dead body. The two of them disagreed on almost everything, particularly her spending, but the estate was hers now and she could do with it what she would. Maybe disregarding the old harridan's wishes would even hasten her demise.


Was it possible that Mademoiselle Vauquelin had never seen a coconut? She seemed to think that coconut water and hot cocoa were the same thing. Then again, Anne-Elisabeth had never heard of hot chocolate until she had been shipwrecked in England last year. Nor had she experienced cold weather. The Countess didn't want to insult her friend's intelligence, so she said nothing more than: “So do I. They are both quite delicious, but hot cocoa is more enjoyable in winter and coconut water is more refreshing during summer.”


As they approached the two gentlemen, one dark brow arched upward at the word 'kidnapped.' Had somebody they known been abducted or were they planning on doing the abducting themselves? Maybe they were just discussing a book they had read.


The man Nicolette bumped into turned around and apologized, as if the collision had been his fault. A true gentleman, it seemed. He knew the Frenchwoman's name already and she moved closer to him as she spoke of enjoying crowds, encouraging Anne-Elisabeth to do the same. She strategically placed herself at an equal distance to both gentlemen and favored them with a cheeky smile.


Mademoiselle Vauquelin expressed her views on kidnapping, and the Countess couldn't resist adding her own. “I would rather be the kidnapper myself. The kidnapper gets to choose her victim and he will be completely at her most satisfying mercy. If a handsome gentleman were to abduct me, though, I would turn the tables on him and make him a very willing prisoner who would refuse all attempts at rescue.”


Her friend introduced her to Lord Denbigh, flattering the gentleman in the process. Anne-Elisabeth dropped a curtsy, unsure whether he outranked her or not. It was always better to be safe than sorry. “Charmed, my lord,” she said, holding up one slender hand to be kissed. “My friend obviously thinks quite highly of you. Perhaps you are the one who should worry about being kidnapped.”

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  • 3 weeks later...

"In truth, mademoiselle, so long as it is crowded with the right people," and then he leaned into her ear, "And not those like that gentleman over there, who I urge you to avoid, he clearly cannot even afford a wooden tub." He laughed gently.


"And exquisite kidnappers are a must. You shall have to ask Rochester and Buckingham about their kidnapping a few years back," Denbigh said, with a wag of his brows. He chuckled at Anne-Elizabeth's desire to be the kidnapper so that she might have choice. "Very wise."


A real kidnapping was no matter to talk to ladies about at a ball, so he kept silent on his conversation with his friend.


"A pleasure, my lady," Denbigh said with a nod, as the other was finally introduced. "And does she? Hmm, I wonder where she has been getting her information!" He kissed the offered hand with courtly aplomb.


"And my friend is Lord Ibracken."


The other gentleman smiled at the pair. "A pleasure, ladies." He too kissed any hands that were offered.

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"Not even a wooden tub?" While she herself was a charity case, Nicolette adopted the apt tone of dismay as her eyes swung to see who he was talking about. It was good advice after all, no sane woman would waste her time with a pauper!


While the men had been in serious tones, they (or Denbigh at least) seemed content to leave sober conversation behind. The ladies flirted: Nicci begun and was pleased to find that her new friend could hold her own.


"Well call me reckless for daring the surprise." she laughed, though she understood the more cunning choice was to be the kidnapper as Anne Elizabeth suggested.


Denbigh quizzed where Nicolette had been getting her information. "Oh do not worry, I have been making it all up." she assured him with a cheeky grin, "persons of our calibre can hardly let facts get in the way of frivolity. Besides, any friend of Lord Ranelagh simply must be a stylish sort. Moi of instance." she struck a pose.


It was fine fun, and not in the least bit serious.


The gentleman friend was introduced - it was yet another of those barely pronounceable names. Nicci guessed he was also from that further side of England near to the Emerald Isle. "Enchantee." Nicolette curtsied prettily, curious of him, though trying not to be distracted from Denbigh himself.


Wanting to leave the topic of kidnapping behind now (in case one or t'other had a most private concern of that sort), Nicci pipped up, "Gentlemen, may I ask you both something serious." her eyes flared flirtatiously, "Upon tubs - wooden perhaps, perish the thought! Yet more importantly - how big is yours?" she flashed a grin towards Anne Elizabeth.

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Anne-Elisabeth didn't hear what Nicolette and Denbigh whispered about but they were obviously discussing somebody else in the ballroom. A mutual friend perhaps? Or maybe an enemy?


A dark eyebrow rose in curiosity at his declaration that Rochester and Buckingham had participated in a kidnapping. She had not met Buckingham but she had heard of him. As for Rochester, he did strike her as the type to engage in such mischief, especially if their victim had been willing to give him a good swive. Who had she been? Perhaps she would ask Lord Dorset when he came to collect her for her introduction to the King.


She grinned when Denbigh proclaimed her desire to be the kidnapper instead of the kidnappee was a wise one, but she was quick to reassure her new friend. “You are more daring than I.” Only time would tell whether this was true. The Countess was quite adventurous but the pretty Frenchwoman seemed to be equally so. Maybe Nicci's boldness exceeded her own and she could learn how to be more reckless from her.


Her lovely partner-in-mischief was certainly charming. Anne-Elisabeth chuckled as she proclaimed herself to be stylish and struck a pose. “If you are making it all up, it seems to be true,” she remarked after Denbigh had kissed her hand. “He certainly is gallant.”


The other gentleman was introduced. She too, thought his title was a bit difficult to pronounce, and so she did not try. “Delighted, my lord,” she said, dropping a perfect curtsy and then holding up her other hand for him to kiss.


Nicolette then asked about the size of their tubs. Was that some sort of courtly innuendo she had not yet heard? Anne-Elisabeth supposed that she could be talking about actual tubs. A two-person tub was preferable to a one-person tub but they were all important. Lady Cambray was fastidious about bathing and had one lugged up to her room every evening.


In Barbados, bathing daily had been sensible because sand found its way into every part of your body, swimming in salt water left you feeling sticky, and people tended to sweat a lot. Anne-Elisabeth had a sensitive nose and abhorred foul smells. There she had preferred the water cool, but in the colder climate of England, she liked it piping hot.


“Oh yes, do tell.” With a conspiratorial wink to Nicolette, she glanced from one gentleman to the other. “I've heard that when it comes to a man's tub, size does matter.”

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  • 2 weeks later...

Denbigh looked first at Ibracken and then back at the young ladies.


"Mine is quite large and made of marble," the earl said, and it was true. Both his estates had luxurious marble tubs.


"As is mine and habitually adorned by my lady wife!" Ibracken said, tittering.


Denbigh gave him an encouraging pat of consolation. Looking at the beauties before him, he added, "Ibracken is cursed with the affliction of loving his wife, but in his case it is most certainly for the best, for she is cousin to His Majesty."

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  • 3 weeks later...

"The best fiction is the believable one." Nicolette laughed brightly with her newest friend, convinced that jointly they had utterly charmed the gentlemen. It was a fine first step towards completing her dare. How was Ranelagh faring she briefly wondered (but resisted looking for him to check). Caroline was libertine, it was true, but that did not mean she was a pushover!


"Oo la la! Marble is notoriously hard to heat up, it must take just ages to get your tub ready for some splashing." She grinned to Denbigh, "unless you have some secret to the doing of it?"


Ibracken self-revealed he was married, no imediate impediment surely. Ah but Denbigh woefully revealed the marriage was happily. Usually that meant that he was faithful too. But really, that only meant he was more of a challenge... and so close to the King too!


Nicci swung her gaze to Anne Elizabeth to make reply.


Part of being a good conversationalist was to share, so even while a saucy reply was upon the tip of Mlle Vauquelins tongue, she deferred. At least for now, while her primary target was bragging of his laudable proportions! It was a marvelous conversation.

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“The best fiction is also close to the truth.” Her chuckle joined Nicolette's and she grinned at Denbigh. As both gentlemen spoke of their marble tubs and Ibrcken mentoned his wife, whom he was apparently in love with, Anne-Elisabeth's gaze was drawn to the door where Lord Dorset had just entered with Lord Rochester and Master Merriweather. Was it time for her introduction to the King? She glanced at the blond Earl and smiled, wondering if he would beckon her over.


Her friend's remark was as witty as always. “So your tubs are not only large, but hard and smooth as well. My favorite kind. Though they may be difficult to heat, they tend to stay hot longer in my experience. You just have to take good care of them, making sure that you drain them dry and gently suck or stroke any remaining moisture away."


To Lord Ibracken: “Your lady wife is wise to take full advantage of hers. I would do the same, if I had one of my own.”


Anne-Elisabeth glanced toward Dorset again, hoping that he was not planning on going back on his word. She fully intended to keep her promise if he kept his.

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  • 2 weeks later...

[OOC: This is a continuation of my last post, since this thread and the main ball thread are taking place simultaneously and Anne-Elisabeth has just been beckoned by Dorset.)


Anne-Elisabeth nearly rolled her eyes when Dorset looked at her and immediately and imperiously crooked his arm in her direction. Does he think he owns me now? How arrogant he was! But then he had admitted that fault during the limerick contest. While she wished that she could ignore him, she really wanted that introduction to the King. At the moment, he had the upper hand, and there was nothing she could do but swallow her pride and go to him, even if it almost choked her.


She nodded affirmation that she had seen him and smiled at her current companions. “If the three of you will excuse me, I have a previous engagement I must keep. It was a pleasure meeting you, my lords,” she said to Denbigh and Ibracken. “Perhaps our paths will cross again before the night is over.”


Leaning toward Nicolette, she squeezed her hand and whispered in her ear. “I hope I'll see you later. But for now, take advantage of having these two fine gentlemen all to yourself.” She hoped that said gentlemen wondered if she was whispering about them … a parting gift of mischief that her friend could tease them with if she wished.


Grinning at Nicolette, Anne-Elisabeth turned and walked away.

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The two gentlemen bid their goodbyes to Anne-Elizabeth and watched as she moved off. Denbigh kept an eye on where she was headed.


"The other cousins wins, alas," he said with a quiet chuckle, shaking his head at Middlesex's allure. Or rather, Dorset, as he was now.


"There are quite remarkable ways to heat up marble," Ibracken said, redirecting their conversation back around to where it had been.


"Light a fire under of within anything and it heats up, eh?" Denbigh chuckled.

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Nicolette's smile remained in place - though her lashes did flutter some with the brash of the English girls comment. Suck? Sacre Bleu! It was another of those times when the audacity of the English frankly shocked her - causing her French toes to curl in their pretty slippers.


"Bon Chance..." She then cheerily wished, as some other target drew Elizabeth Anne away.


Nicolette almost felt sorry for Ibracken for he'd hardly got his share of flirtation (her reasoning figured Married men needed flirtation the very most!) Yet fortunately for her the Gentlemen were prepared to continue their conversation in any case.


Flapping open her fan she worked a breeze upon unflushed cheeks, "Why Gentlemen! I am beginning to think you are not talking about your bath tubs at all!" with dancing eyes she accused.


"You have put me all a fluster with such seductive talk, why, you arouse feelings within me that I barely understand at all..." feigning a weakness she reached to steady herself upon Ibracken's arm - though she was stealing a look at Denbigh as she did so. It was he she quested for; that she tried to provoke.


"I feel a little breathless my Lords." Which was her subtler French way of saying 'take me outside and kiss me'.

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  • 4 weeks later...

"A most becoming look on you, I think," Denbigh replied, grinning.


He knew, of course, what such words generally meant, but he was feeling playful and did not wish to take the hint so easily.


"All talk of tubs must cease then, but what shall we talk about to calm the fervor of hot marble tubs?"


He cast his eyes around, "The sight of that pair there." He pointed a particularly surly married couple who were ignoring each other pointedly whilst standing next to each other. "Whomever walks away first loses that battle," he commented. Why else would they continue to share each other's company?


Then he chuckled and said, "I would suggest a walk but it seems Ranelagh just left for a walk."

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"The poor gentleman," Nicotte commented of the barely-tolerating-each-other couple. She found she rather liked Denbigh, he was a proper courtier gleaning gossip as it was lit. "If she is that dull and in public, I daren't imagine how abysmal she is in the... er tub."


But any interest in that pair then vanished.


"Did he?" her lower lip pouted as she looked for Ranelagh’s disappearance.


"Did she kiss him first? Oh pooh, that will mean I am the looser of our game." she sighed dramatically as if amid oldest and dearest friends. After all, when she was married to Ranelagh they would come to have that status wouldn’t they, so why not commence that relationship now.


Electing to come clean perhaps plotting a new conspiracy, Nicolette then launched her confession. "You see Gentleman, Lord Ranelagh and I set out upon dares to provoke kisses. I assigned him Lady Kendishall, and he assigned me... you." she gave Denbigh a wink. "Alas I was to discover that his friends hold more moral conviction than my own. I must admit I am rather surprised at Caroline, the little minx!"


"Paint me utterly devastated." she effusively expressed, "and here I was rather looking forward to a good... ah, how do the English call it? A good snog."

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"Kiss him?" Denbigh said, confused. "Under the mistletoe or otherwise?" He chuckled.


Then he tilted his head to the side as she revealed her game.


He grinned some. "I did not see them kiss," he revealed.


"No single gentleman would wish to leave a lady wanting. Perhaps all is not yet lost. Let us find a convenient mistletoe."


Surreptitiously walking with her toward one of the doorways, he paused to get drinks and it just so happened that there was mistletoe above them.


"Let us quench your thirst, shall we?" he said, before he leaned in to kiss her.

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"A kiss any-whichever-wise." the girl declared, the subtler terms of the dare fading out of her mind by now.


But then Denbigh thought not to disappoint.


Her smile ignited, "Thank heavens for well bred Gentlemen," she crooned as she caught his hand as he moved to opportune of a well stationed mistletoe.


"Yes please." was her willing reply, and kissing was what they next did. Nicolette with her eyes slipped closed to better relish the unique of his lips movement upon hers, the taste and yes the scent.


She was reluctant to stop, but in the end all kisses did.


With slightly dizzy mind she thanked the gentleman with a smile, as she claimed, "I think I have won. I feel like I have won. Don't you think I have won Lord Denbigh?" She could not help but lapse into giggles at that point, such was her elation at kissing her future husbands best friend.

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  • 1 month later...

Denbigh quite enjoyed the kiss and could see why the young mademoiselle was gaining a name for fun. 


"That shall ruin all sweets for the evening," he said as they came apart. 


"You shall not hear me say otherwise. I think we very solidly beat him. I have to wonder what they're getting up to, though!" he chuckled. 

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  • 1 month later...

"It's bound to be mischief they are up to, why Lord Ranelagh is as precocious as Lady Kendishall is eager.  We might not see them again for some hours yet." Nicolette thought these to be amusing thoughts.  While perhaps some girls might feel jealous of their future husband, Nicolette did not intent to judge that she might not be judged either. 

"Lord Ibracken, might you like to celebrate also?" She invited the more reticent partygoer to a kiss,  but she knew better already.  He was that marvellously steadfast sort.  "... ah, but I see you celebrate that which few others ever may, a marriage so pure and true. Lady Ibracken must be a very special lady, I shall pray that one day I have the honour to meet her."  rather than a kiss she gifted him a compliment to his lady wife. 


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  • 3 weeks later...

"Indeed, Ranelagh is surely part rapscallion," Denbigh offered. Ibracken's amusement seemed to agree. "It is good she is also such a brazen lady."


When Nicolette offered her kiss Ibracken's cheeks turned just a bit pink. He smiled and then licked his lips, "When your lady wife is His Majesty's favourite little cousin...well, there is an expectation of treating royal relations properly." And their joining was one of political importance. His was an old, Kingly lineage, as clearly was hers. "But I wish you much luck in all of your kissing conquests, my lady. I shall be happy to send you off with a kiss of the cheek."


Denbigh gave a silent little applause to tease his friend.

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  • 4 weeks later...

"Which part are you talking about?! Lord Denbigh." Nicci returned with a grin. 

Meanwhile Ibracken's reply was just adorable.  Nicolette hardly needed encouragement to find the loveable aspects of any man she met, and this was certainly true for this abstaining gentleman. "But nobody could think you anything but the ideal." she wondered if there was a hint of sadness in his voiced stance, that perhaps he looked at those rogues about court and wondered of the fun that they had. "Honour and elegance surround you like an aura... " softly said, as she placed a kiss upon his cheek. 

"Thankyou Gentlemen," here the girl dipped into a curtsy, "for an enjoyable interlude, I shall only hope that we might make a habit of it." 


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