Jump to content


Your Stories Await Telling

This shall do Nicely | Chatham Residence afternoon of the 2nd April

Recommended Posts

  • 19 Chatham Residence

A tidy house built of red brick, Number 19 sits some distance back from the street and is approached via a curving drive that bissects a neat, well-manicured lawn.

It is Jacobean in design with contrasting sandstone trim and several heavily paned bow windows overlooking both the front yard and the rustic garden to be found at the house's rear. Informal, this garden has been planted with several bushes of red and pink roses, some beds of spring bulbs, and, surprisingly, perhaps, a very well-kept physic garden close to the house. An ancient, gnarled oak tree boasts pride of place at the very center of the garden and an ornate, circular, ironwork bench has been constructed around the tree's trunk to make use of the copious amounts of shade offered by the canopy of leafy foliage. Surrounded by a brick wall, the garden is partitioned from the small stable and coach house though both can be accessed via a small door hidden behind a curtain of trailing ivy.

To enter the townhome, one must present oneself to the panelled black door and make use of the silver door-knocker in the shape of a shell.


"Move the chair nearer the window... no no, not like that, angled a little bit, yes that is much better." Lady Chatham instructed a pair of Charles servants, the pair huffing and puffing with nervous looks towards the door as they rearranged the reception rooms furniture to her liking. 

Lord Chatham had not been in that morning when she arrived, not that she let that stop her from making herself very much at home. 

Edited by Hope
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles paused in the hallway, ears pricking up at the curious sounds. Who the devil was manhandling his furniture, and why? Frowning to himself, he strode off to investigate, only to stop dead as the sound of a voice reached him. His frown deepened.

Charles thought a moment, and shrugged. His stepmother's presence might be irksome, and inconvenient, and a dozen more things besides, but it was not entirely unexpected. There was nothing to be done about it now, in any case, save make it clear that this was his house and his household. Relaxing into an air of languid, urbane amiability, he sauntered towards the reception room.

"I like it where it is," he offered drily upon entry, inclining his head slightly to Mary in greeting. "I hope you did not find the journey too troublesome. Will you join me for lunch?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was an awkward spot for the servants, upon hearing the masters instruction they paused. 

"Resume please!" Lady Chatham instructed.

Which did not actually resolve their uncertain state!  The usual situation was for Ladies to oversee household day to days, with the Gentlemen commanding all that lay beyond. But everyone knew that Lord and Lady Chatham did not see eye to eye - also, Charles was the one paying them.

"I would love to stop for lunch darling, but I am having a reunion at two - no time to stop!  Now where are the flowers, they should have been here by now."  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles had little enough use for 'the usual situation' at the best of times, and to have Mary actively countermand him like that fired his temper as little else could. For the barest fraction of a moment he considered indulging his fury, but he swallowed it. There were better ways of achieving his ends. Almost as satisfying, too.

"Could one of you fetch a pot of coffee to the parlour, please?" he asked the servants, smiling. Despite his best efforts, his voice had taken on the soft, smoothly sibilant quality that marked his most dangerous temper. The servants at least, should neither notice nor understand if they did, he assured himself. One had to know him to recognise that for the warning sign it was. "And the other might see to it that my stepmother's maid and baggage are properly settled."

(The 'and you may both make yourselves scarce thereafter,' he left as merely heavily implied, along with the fact that, whatever his phrasing, those had not been requests.)

Servants dismissed, Charles turned to more fully face Mary, smile widening as he met her eyes.

"A reunion? Anyone I know?" he inquired, all polite interest. "And do you have time to at least join me for coffee?"

Another question occurred to him and he cocked his head slightly.

"And what is this about flowers?"

Edited by Charles Audley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles did not need to repeat himself - the requests which placed these servants 'anywhere but here' were snatched up with relief.  (There was practically a puff of smoke and they vanished!)

Meanwhile his stepmother turned with a smile upon her face, it was so much more interesting than country life: playing these games in London.

"Unlikely.  My guests shall be persons of Quality."  her eyebrow rose with her jab.  He needn't know that her entire event was but a charade to provoke. "I'd have invited you to attend as well, but expected you'd be leaned up against a tavern wall by this hour. It's already after twelve."

Did he believe that she actually thought that poorly of him?  He'd practically admitted last season that he was upon a reform, and truth be told she'd even witnessed it.  Rather than a stream of strumpets passing in and out of Chatham over the recess, the man had practically locked himself in the library!

She elegantly positioned herself on recently moved chaise. Apprantly she did have time for coffee.  "You know, those things that grow in the garden. Charles darling, of everything it is the concept of flowers that upset you?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles would freely admit that he enjoyed fencing with his stepmother, in spite of the stakes, and he let that enjoyment well up, swallowing his temper. He would remember, though, the temerity she had shown. (Later, upon reflection, he would wonder why that had stung him so.)

He smiled a thin smile and sighed tolerantly at Mary's little jab.

"You would be surprised," he told her, "I have some acquaintances who are people of quality, to use your idiom. Try me." He made no verbal reply to her talk of taverns, but his eye glinted, telling her to do better.

He moved after her to the chaise, leaning casually against it, perhaps a trifle closer to Mary than was appropriate. To discomfort her, he assured himself, not because it gave him an excellent view of her cleavage.

"Upset is a strong word," he noted. "I was merely curious as to what sort of flowers you might have purchased, and for what purpose, and so invited you to elucidate."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She could have done without his tolerant sigh, to be humoured was hardly the response she goaded him for.  "It's not my idiom sweetling, it it Englands."  Catching herself short of revealing her peeve at him, she gave blonde head a shake and flicked a stray strand away from her face. "We really should have kept you at school for longer. Look at me, I am become a school marm, and you at your lessons." 

Her senses tingled as he leaned against the chaise.   The very worse thing about being a widow, is knowing exactly what one is missing. The physical proximity of the man quickened her heart beat in a infuriatingly pleasurable way!  Drawing a full breath her bosom heaved to his view.

"Ah, so it was the purchasing aspect that caught at your curiosity.  Fret not, I put them on the Chatham account - not one penny left my pocket."  Perhaps that would make him break his composure? Oh hers was petty game to be sure, yet she could not resist playing it, call it a bit to incite passion for passions sake.

Meanwhile she was very much aware of the abysmal state of the Chatham books, although she had her widows bed, it was not sufficient to content her to times indefinite. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles found himself unconsciously tracking his stepmother's movements as she elegantly brushed her hair from her face. Internally clucking a disapproving tongue at himself, he let his smile widen a tad, just enough to show the very tips of his teeth.

"The phrase is England's, yes, but the exact details of its meaning change for each who speaks it, hence my wording. When I said 'your idiom,' I meant that I have acquaintances that you would consider to be people of quality," he countered, tone full of distant amusement. "As you can see, I paid enough attention to my education to argue semantics. But I will indulge you. If you were my school mistress, what perceived lack in my education would you seek to repair?"

Despite his best intentions, Charles could not keep his eye from the swell of Mary's bosom as she breathed. Her closeness was a enjoyable thing, and he felt his blood start to heat pleasantly. That was a tangled, taboo mess of emotion and neuroses, though, and Charles had no intention of prodding at it yet. He allowed himself a moment of appreciation before returning his attention to the conversation, a momentary frown flickering over his face at her words.

"I note that you still have not answered my question, despite the fact that I am apparently paying for this... horticultural endeavour. What, pray tell, am I buying?" he asked, affecting a light tone.

Inside, he made a note to consult a solicitor, just to clarify his legal obligations. Charles was by no means an expert on such matters, but surely he could not be expected to fund her every whim? 

Edited by Charles Audley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

“Then should we combine, and host a mixed bag of a reception? I can hardly imagine how such a gathering would turn out… our interests hardly overlap.  Or then, do they?”

With a theatrical sigh she made it plain that the subject of tutoring was beginning to bore her (could that be because he’d ‘won’ that aspect of her argument?) “Semantics-schmeemantics.” Said with a shrug and moving on.

Yet he was not letting her gloss over details of the flowers she mentioned.

“Heavens Charles, you can be quite a bore." Mary pouted, “there are no flowers ordered at all in fact, nor have I been in London long enough to arrange an afternoon tea.  I just said that to get a rise out of you, for I do so enjoy it when you get all worked up.  But here you are, passive as a dead fish. It’s dreadfully disappointing don’t you know. At this rate I truly will invite bunches of stuffy old maids to fill up your drawing room, and bunches and bunches of prosaic daisies.”

"If I had been certain of a welcome I might have tested a more conventional arrival." she rose an eyebrow towards him. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles snorted with amusement.

"You know, that does actually sound potentially entertaining," he mused playfully, "but as for our interests, I'm sure if we tried we could find some common ground."

He was very careful not to look smug as Mary conceded in the face of his petty pedantry, instead offering her a slight nod and a cool smile. She would know what he was doing, and that made for much more effective gloating.

Her pout was a pretty thing, but Charles was far more pleased by her admission that she had made no arrangements or purchases since her arrival. Sighing with relief internally, he met her eyes and leaned in towards her, smirking. Her acknowledgement that she enjoyed seeing him 'all worked up' felt like a victory to him, and he felt bound to press his perceived advantage.

"Oh? Should I have shouted and snarled and stormed about the room then?" he asked, voice low and silky. "Let the fire burn hot and uncontrolled? Would that have satisfied you?" He straightened up, still smirking. "Ah well. Losing is supposed to be a chastening experience. And should you fill my drawing room with creaking dowagers and dying flowers, I shall have no choice but to break out the opium and the Turkish dancing girls." His eye shone with mirth mixed with something else, which even he himself could not name.

He arched an eyebrow of his own in answer to hers.

"Did you really think I would turn you away?" he asked, genuinely curious. He would not have, as it happened. Charles was a firm believer in keeping problems where you could see them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mary’s eyes narrowed with an almost puzzled expression at that statement, was Charles making an overture of peace?  

All in all he’d disarmed her, and she was not at all certain how she felt about that.  Meanwhile he fell silent but in that way that said much… and she pouted, falling back on that female artifice.  

She had noted however that speaking honesty seemed to draw more surprise from him than anything else.  

“I thought if you tantrum’d of that, you might not be so bothered of the rest. I was selecting my field of battle as it were.” She did not mind admitting as much, for though it had flopped, she thought her devised plan had notes of genius. 

“Where is the coffee?” The fair haired woman sighed while trying to resist a smirk at the scene he painted (dancing girls parading through a matrons afternoon tea!)  “Nobody could say that the Chathams are dull or unimaginative.  But really I would guess you know more court matrons than I do; for I know but one, a most insightful and straight spoken woman named Lady Lucas.”

“Well.  I hoped not.  It would not present a very unified front if I had to reside at St Marks while you rattled about in a whole house in Piccadilly.  And whatever disagreements we may have had Charles, we need to present the expected charade.” Which while true, mad her feel old to give voice to. And Mary did not want to feel old. She wanted to savour this her revisited blush of youth, this freedom of widowhood discovered.

In a radical counteraction she suddenly said. “I bet you actually know where to buy opium.”

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles swallowed a grin at Mary's pout. Victory was sweet but showing it so blatantly would quite take the sheen from it.

Besides that might make her stop pouting and it's such a lovely expression on her...

He ignored the thought, cocking his head to one side as she explained her thinking.

"Tantrum?" he asked quizzically, pronouncing the word with slow fastidiousness. "Do I tantrum? I suppose the word fits as well as any, through for future reference I would caution you that I perfectly capable of throwing tantrums for more than one reason simultaneously." He laughed. He did not, in fact, think that the word fit at all, but this new strategy of not engaging his stepmother seemed to be working wonders, and Charles saw no reason to change what had proven to be a winning plan. 

He snorted with amusement at the mention of coffee.

"Given the, ah, atmosphere, shall we say? Given the atmosphere when the servants left, they are likely leery of returning until they can be sure that we are not in the process of murdering one another. Give it another few minutes."

Mary might be trying to resist smirking at the conjured image, but Charles had no such compunction. He smirked his amusement proudly.

"I rather doubt they can say that anyway," he pointed out drily, "and as for court matrons, we are exactly tied on that score. I, too, know but the one, and that is Lady Lucas."

He listened patiently as she expounded on the need to keep up appearances. He knew that as well as she, and might well have told her so, had it not been for what she said next. 

"You would win the bet," he told her slowly. "I have some here, and a hookah, as it happens." He leaned down suddenly, lips next to her ear.

"Why? Would you like to... indulge?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

She was aware of a slipperiness about him, but had not put her finger of just how he was managing to elude her.  'Not engaging' was a practise that was quite alien to Mary (apparently).

"Would you prefer the word fury perhaps, or some other more flattingly masculine term I dare say.  Peeve is the least of what I was expecting however - but besides you really had not properly arranged the furniture.  When I arrived this morning the sun was shining perfectly through that window - yet with no chair there.  The warmth of morning sunlight it all too precious to waste upon floorboards."

And so here she was recommending herself, while he was the last person she expected to be at all grateful. 

He made a fair point on why the servants were taking so long. "What amateurs they must be, where did you hire them from, a nunnery? Well I dare say by seasons end they shall have thicker skins."   

Well here was a surprise. Abandoning prior restraint of amusement, Mary now gave a laugh! "Of all the people we might jointly know we certainly do know how to pick them. Cadogan. And now Lucas.  But tell me Charles how on earth did you happen to make her acquaintance, I would never have thought you to be compatible spirits."

Not only did he know where to buy opium from, but he was fully kitted out already with a hookah and the liquid (or was opium  sold as a powder, she did not know).  She gasped as a shiver ran up her side when he whispered with warm breath - either the topic or the nearness thrilled her body.  This was not at all how she expected a home making to be! 

"Perhaps. But, it's daylight still." which was possibly the weakest protest Charles had ever heard. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles shrugged.

"As I said, tantrum fits as well as any other word. Use whichever pleases you." He gave a sardonic look, rather enjoying this new game of not taking the bait. "Though I daresay you would do just that regardless of anything I say."

He shrugged casually as she complained of his placement of the furniture.

"I feel obliged to point out that I do not use this room in the morning, nor do I expect to receive guests so early, and so of course neglected to arrange things to take advantage of the early sunlight. But if you anticipate spending your mornings here, then by all means, rearrange the furniture to suit yourself. I merely ask that you keep me appraised of any changes, preferably in advance."

He snorted at her appraisal of the servants.

"Be fair," he chided gently. "We are an unconventional menage, and not every servant can be as professional as Wodehouse."

He joined in her laughter at the odd coincidence of their mutual acquaintances.

"We met at the sleigh race last season," he explained. "Lady Misrule paired us together. We won." 

Oh, that little gasp and shiver were worth any aggravation she might have caused him earlier. An appealing spectacle in its own right, it was made all the better by who and what she was. Her protestations were far from convincing, as well. (Charles would be lying if he said that this did not have the shape of some idle fancies he had entertained in the past, though in those scenarios he had been trying to convince her to do something other than smoke opium.)

"So it is," he murmured, "but by your own admission you have little else planned, and a little harmless fun and relaxation would do you good, especially after I left you to deal with my siblings alone these past few weeks."

Edited by Charles Audley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

“That is not entirely true, I have been resisting calling you snookums following a prior conversation.”  Hadn’t he even noticed?  And here she’d resisted that derogatory pet name at least 20 times!

However pipped she felt of that slid into perspective as he conceded this room to her morning use. Of that she was quite visibly relieved (it signified her acceptance into the household) and some of the tension about her vanished.  “Oh. Oh thankyou.  It is a rather lovely room is it not, and if you are promised to not disturb it’s peace in the mornings, then I might plan on late morning teas here with persons of my circle now and then.  I would like to invite Arabella over at least.” Said she, being quite forthcoming all things considered.

Nodding of his comment about Wodehouse (though she hardly knew the man, she might guess him used to nearly anything), “The exposure shall no doubt add to their qualifications.”

"Oh yes, now I recall.” Of the sleigh races, and Charles with Cordelia. “While she and I had initially planned to compete together.  I was paired with Lord Langdon, who decided not to enter on account of his ward who… well suffice to say that in the end it was just as well I could assist her.”

It was tempting in that ‘you should not do that’ way.  And Charles voice was soft and encouraging…

Her lips pressed together as she considered, eyes needlessly darting off to the side to the door.  Here they were in a discreet location, who would ever find out?  “Well then, perhaps.” She was even prepared to ignore his jab of her children…

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles smiled and waved a hand. "Then you may consider the comment withdrawn." 

Her evident relief at what were quite minor concessions on his part almost raised his suspicions, but he dismissed the latent paranoia after a moment's thought. It was a minor concession, and it could be easily withdrawn if such should prove necessary. And perhaps Mary might prove easier to deal with in general if somewhat appeased on minor matters.

"You're welcome, but there is no need for thanks. It is a lovely room, as you say, but I have little use for it, and thus to deny you would be wasteful, not to mention pettily cruel." He shrugged. "I abhor waste, and I like my cruelty to have a point, these days." That point could often be amusement, of course, but there was no need to point that out. "As I said, merely let me know when you have a use for it, and I shall return the courtesy should I find myself in need of the room."

He cocked his head quizzically as she told him of her experience at the sleigh race. "I shan't inquire further," he commented drily. There were any number of unpleasant afflictions that might strike a young girl, and Charles had interest in discussing any of them. "But you were spared an ordeal of your own, I think. I have spoken to Langdon once or twice, and find him a pompous bore."

He swallowed a smile as his coaxing seemed to find purchase. There was a remarkable pleasure, he found, in playing the agent of her corruption, however minor that was. (For who considered opium to be properly risque, truly?) It was the same sort of thrill that came with a seduction, which made sense, for he was seducing her, really. 

Even if we are both likely to remain fully clothed.

"Very well. I shall indulge anyway, and you may join in if it pleases you, hmm?" He was almost purring in her ear, he realised, and almost laughed as he remembered what had happened when last he had done so.

He straightened and crossed back to the door. He opened it, and was only half-surprised to find Wodehouse lurking nearby. The old man might well have thought he would need to dispose of a body Charles thought, amused, as he beckoned his manservant over.

"Fetch the hookah and a little opium, please. Oh, but see what's become of our coffee first, would you?"

He returned to his stepmother, smiling pleasantly.

"It shouldn't be long now," he assured her.

And it wasn't, Wodehouse soon ushering in a servant with the coffee service, and then bringing in the hookah, an elegant construction of silver and glass.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

“I am coming to see ownership of a Townhouse suits you.” Mary commented of this ‘agreeable’ version of the rogue there had been so many stories about.  

She was not complaining. Not at all. “Those are agreeable terms. I rather doubt either of us wants to be surprised by the other, perhaps we extend the pacts to consider entertaining at other times of the day also.” She was thinking of herself but was diligent to imply otherwise, “I mean, I would hate to walk in upon you in the midst of anything or rather.”

Here she smiled with remarkable sweetness.

“Truly? I had heard him to be one of Courts most eligible batchers.” Of Langdon she’d done her homework. “But a pup still.”  Far too young for her, although his late wife had been of a similar age.

Talk of opium was a far more diverting distraction however, and his whispered agreement sent a shiver that ran all the way down her spine…

While she was uncharacteristically silent, as he strode to the door and made arrangements, she enjoyed his decisiveness in that moment, or was it his butt cheeks that she most appreciated.

 “I’m not in a rush.” Contrary as ever she discovered her tongue once more, “after all, I have all day with no where to be. But what of you, you have much planned I am sure,” Her eyes went back to the door, dreadfully curious to the appreance fo the hookah. It was wildly excitind, but she'd not tell Charles, instead Lady Chatham sat a little straighter in her seat. 

Perhaps the servants had been poised in the kitchens waiting, for in the pair then arrived in force arranging cups and pouring fresh coffee.  A three tiered plate of cakes and pastries was also set pride of place - though the offering was 1. an overkill and 2. the location was going to be needed for the hookah when it arrived.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles shrugged.

"We'll work around one another easily enough, I expect, so long as we both remember our courtesies, and keep each other appraised of our plans. Little point in making more rigid arrangements, when neither of us knows what circumstance might throw up."

He did not believe her smile for a moment but he matched it all the same, two leopards grinning and waiting to see if the other would show their back.

"Langdon is one of court's most eligible bachelors," Charles conceded, " but that does not stop him from being a wearisome little prig as well." He cocked his head quizzically. "As an aside, can you call a widower a bachelor, just as a technical matter?" He grinned apologetically at Mary, and gave a short laugh at his own pedantry, dismissing the matter.

If Mary had been admiring his backside then Charles had not noticed, nor would he have thought it anything other than natural had he noticed - in his own opinion, Charles had exquisitely formed hindquarters.

"I have no plans until late this evening," he assured his stepmother, not about to let her use him as an excuse to cry off, "and the effects do not persist overly long if one is careful not to consume to excess. You need not be concerned on my account."

Conversation was briefly curtailed by the arrival of their coffee. Charles clucked a disapproving tongue at the quite unnecessary pastry platter.

"You may take that away with you and share it amongst the staff," he directed, before turning to Mary and arching a questioning eyebrow.

"Unless you're feeling peckish?"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Quite so." remarkably enough this pair were forming agreements. Who would have ever thought. Though Charles was as bad as she when it came to inability to resist needling for long...  "Is that jealousy Charles?  But you too are 'most eligible' even if only a bachelor without the added poignancy of widowhood."  It simply pleased her to nip.  

Yes, it was definitely his decisiveness she enjoyed, and quite as decisive he returned (while she refrained from an equal inspection of the frontal view.)

"So have you some party to attend this evening?" taking up cup of well steeped coffee brew regarded the tray with aloof. "Yes take it away, a lady must watch her figure or how can she expect others to do likewise."  

He was rather generous to allow the treats to be enjoyed by the servants, charitable even - Charles was in so many ways an unknown to her. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles laughed at the little prod, a more natural smile curving his lips as he gave the question genuine consideration. If he was jealous of Langdon at all, and he did not think he was, it was of the preferment the other had been shown.

"I do not think so," he opined after a moment. "Envy is not an emotion I have overmuch experience with." His grin shifted, becoming a lazy smirk. "But I do have an ego, and it is most pleased to hear you speak of my eligibility so."

Claiming a cup of coffee, he savoured a welcome sip before replying. 

"Aah. Yes, a little get together at Buckingham's, for those of my... persuasion, shall we say?" 

Bringing his cup back to his lips, Charles ran an eye idly over his stepmother's figure. It would have been rude not to, he assured himself, after she had drawn attention to it. He would have been amused to learn that she thought him charitable. There was no altruism in his motivations, merely an appreciation for the value of being thought well of by one's servants. It was an insignificant gesture for him, but was likely much more meaningful for its recipients.

The servants had not long departed when Wodehouse glided silently into the room, a case in his hands. Moving with brisk efficiency, the manservant unpacked and prepared the hookah, an elegant item, cast brass stem perched upon a base of glass.  There were two hoses of camel leather, each tipped with a long handle and ornate mouthpiece. Soon, Charles could hear the welcome sound of the hookah bubbling to life. It had been a while since he had smoked, he realised. He was quite looking forward to renewing acquaintances, as it were.

"Will there be anything else my lord?"

"Not for the moment, Wodehouse, thank you."

His valet bowed and left the room, the soft click of the door closing behind him the only sound of his passing. Charles grinned at Mary, and took up one of the hoses.

"Your health," he murmured, offering her a salute with the mouthpiece before bringing it to his lips and inhaling, luxuriating in the feeling of the black smoke coiling through his lungs. Almost unconsciously, he let out a small sigh of satisfaction as he waited for the opium to take effect.

Edited by Charles Audley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

He alledged to not be familiar by Envy, “A pretty claim for any man, but what is the truth of it. Isn’t jealousy and envy linked closely with ambition to drive forwards and exceed our peers. Were you jealous of him I would probably praise it, but as it is I shall praise you anyhow for the lie told shows you would not be an open book – which I think a terribly irritating trait in a man related or not.”

 Over their coffee he revealed the part later on, not any party, but at Buckingham’s, arguably the very closest of Dukes to Charles Rex.  “Well then I too ought attend… for I can be of persuasions, or at least persuasive .”

She watched as Charles servant arranged the contraption.  “It is as if we are in the orient.” She breathed, not meaning to, but revealing a little of her excitement.

“Yes thank you Wodehouse.”

And to his credit (possibly) Charles then demonstrated how it was done, and with a toast apparently.  Intent to observe the protocol Mary took up another of the hoses and added her own, “And prosperity.” Before sucking on the thing.

The sucking was not at all difficult, but when the smoke reached and went untampered into her lungs it was a physical disturbance her innards was not prepared for.  Mary spluttered into much coughing.  It was horribly embarrassing and what was worse, she was pretty sure that all of the spoke taken had been too swiftly expunged – it was a dreadful coughing and spluttering waste!  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles frowned thoughtfully,

"I would argue that envy is a motivating force for ambition, but not the sole motivating force. It is perfectly possible for one to seek to improve one's self and standing without the thought of one's peers playing any role at all," he argued. "But thank you for the compliment in any case."

He arched an eyebrow at Mary's declaration that she would attend the party at Buckingham's.

"I do not doubt that you are, but are you sure? I will not attempt to talk you out of it, but do be sure you know what you are getting into." He shook his head, deciding not to try to dissuade her. "Have you your own transportation there and back or shall I make arrangements? I would offer to take you with me, but, well, that might leave you in difficulty when it comes to getting back." He very carefully did not smirk or waggle his eyebrows. That would have been crass.

Neither did he draw attention to her little outburst of excitement as Wodehouse readied the hookah, merely smiling to himself. It was almost adorable really, not a word he had ever thought to apply to his stepmother.

She was eager, he saw as she took up the other hose, more so than he had realised. He was about to warn her to take her time when she preempted him, sucking in a great lungful of the smoke and immediately coughing it out again.

He reached across to clap her on the back.

"Relax," he murmured. "There is no need to rush. This is a leisurely activity. Small, slow inhalations. Savour it." He demonstrated again. "Now have a sip of coffee and try again."

Quite unconsciously his hand remained on her back, rubbing in slow circles.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Considering his viewpoint for a moment Mary decided, “I disagree.  If not spurred by our very natures of comparing ourselves to each other and wanting to outdo, then what is to incite desires of advancement?

“Who dresses in their finest for instance, when dining by themselves.  Who re-decorates their living spaces before visiting an abode that reveals it’s inadequacies. Who strives to learn more, until their lack of knowledge has been thrust to their face.    

“Envy or jealousy may be rough terms used, but the power behind the terms is mighty.”

“If you possess none of it, then I might take the compliment back.”      

Surprisingly  (or was he banking on that) when he agreed to her attendance she had second thoughts.  “Mmmm… well I might think about it.”

Though she was thinking more about the Hookah instead. Making an awful hash of first inhale (which left her throat feeling hot and irritated!) she became meeken’d kitten and took sip of coffee at his suggestion. It did help. A second sip was taken.

Cautiously now, she took a small puff.  Meanwhile Charles with his practised ease felt the warmth of his opium toke wash over him… his mind opening.

Following her small puff, Mary took another  precautionary sip of her coffee.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles wagged a finger, smiling thinly.

"Ah, but a man — or a woman — need not feel a scrap of envy to desire that others think them impressive or attractive. Ambition can be fuelled by thoughts of legacy or the desire for a more comfortable life or even just the search for a stage suitable for one's talents just as easily as it can be by jealousy." His smile widened. "And personally I need not have any experience of envy to want to inspire the emotion in others."

Charles shrugged easily as Mary dithered over the matter of her attendance.

"It is entirely up to you, of course."

It was... odd, to say the least, to see his stepmother so off-balance. By no means unpleasant, though, Charles decided, which was odd, for he usually despised timid women. Perhaps the opium was taking effect more quickly than he had anticipated. And it was not necessarily just her manner, he conceded, fighting to keep his eye on her face as her bosom swelled with her inhalation. His hand was still on her back, he realised with a mental start. After a moment's thought he left it there, still rubbing slow, soft circles. She would not be shy about complaining if it displeased her, he reasoned.

"There, that's better, isn't it?" he encouraged, sprawling out lazily, for all the world the image of a contented tiger. He laid down his hose to sip at his coffee (it would be a great shame to let it go cold, after all) and smiled at her. Legs stretched out in front of him, he slipped his court shoes off and sighed in satisfaction before laying down his cup to loosen his cravat.

"The heels do wonderful things for me, but damned if it is not always a relief to get them off," he confided.

Taking up the pipe again he drew in a mouthful of the black smoke, letting it permeate through his lungs for a few moments before letting it out, blowing a smoke ring to amuse himself. His head lolled back in lazy satisfaction.

"I had forgotten just how pleasant this can be."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"I am my own woman, free to make my own decisions." she seemed to be agreeing upon a coffee soaked breath, though she was still uncertain of it.  It was his saying that he might not come home at all, well, something to that effect, that had her cautious.  She'd heard of swingers parties, but it was not the sort of thing that she herself as interested in. Where was the advancement in that sort of scene - but then again perhaps she was overthinking.  

Taking another tiny puff she shifted slightly enjoying the movement of his hand. "I could hire one fo the city carriages, then I might leave whenever. If it is boring perhaps." 

He kicked off his heels.  He is undressing.  She was aware, but his reasoning seemed fair, and looking at her own shoes she noticed their inconvenience. 

"I paid 5 pounds and 6 for these shoes..." she did not show him her shoes actually, but took another baby puff with coffee chaser.  "How much did yours cost?"

Charles managed to blow a smoke cloud in a circle.  He captivated.  "See now, if I did not envy that, Id never try to make one also." Conversation seemd to be muddled around, was that an effect of the Opium she wondered?   

She took another little puff and blew it out to disrupt his pretty circle.  Her coffee cup was running low, so leaning forwards she took up the pot and refilled it (and almost refilled his too, but stopped shy of it cause he’d think it some sort of triumph or something.  The place on her back where he'd been rubbing, suddenly felt rather abandoned. Leaning back again she hoped he's resume the stroking.  

"I've never been interested in the stage, all those actresses, Mrs this and Mrs thats, they are just whores really."  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Whatever suits you," Charles said agreeably. If it came to it, he would rather she did not attend, of course, but it was no great matter. (And he had a fairly shrewd idea that she would go just to spite him if she suspected that he would rather she did not.)

In more sober moments, Charles had often found great amusement in reflecting on those things that became topics of great imlortance when one was in an altered state of consciousness. Take this, for instance.

"Do you know, I genuinely cannot remember," Charles said, staring hard at his discarded shoes as though he could divine the answer from them. "I shall need to have new ones made soon in any case. Those have begun to pinch." A horrifying thought struck him. "Is it possible for one's feet to get fat?'

He could not help but laugh at Mary's reaction to his smile ring, both her words and her effort to destroy it. 

"Childish," he chided through the opium induced chuckles, faking a pout before taking another puff at the hookah and blowing a second smoke ring. The opium was beginning to hit him properly now, and that warm sense of nigh-euphoric relaxation began to fill him from scalp to toenails.

He watched her movements as she pourssd herself more coffee intently, fascinated by what he could discern of the play of muscles under her skin. It was almost a shock to feel her leaning back into his hand. Even through the fabric of her dress, she felt warm and soft. Charles smiled to himself and let his fingers walk down her spine to the small of her back, where his hand resumed its slow, circular stroking. He was getting very close to her, he realised distantly.

The abrupt topic of the theatre threw him briefly, wits slowed by the warm honey of the opium suffussing him. 

"Hmm? Oh, the stage. Well, can't really blame them, can we? If they were actually any good at acting they'd be at court. I cannot fault them for seeking to make the best of what talents they do have." Charles laughed again.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles ploy of indifference was effective, and remarkably enough Mary was completely unaware of it.  Besides, the Duke of Buckingham’s shindig faded into insignificance in light of the newly discovered interest in the fatness of Charles feet.

"Ooh. let me see?" The lady tried to focus, done while not wanting to lean forwards again (and loose the pleasant comfort of his hand). "They do look a bit fat.  Of course, I'd not seen them before your court indulgences." she smiled. "They all say people change after coming into their title... but I'd never thought them talking about feet." she giggled of it, unable to help herself even though it was Charles right there. Charles who she knew to be wary of. 

"Perhaps you should elevate them, and they will shrink." which seemed amusing too, "although, that theory has not worked for your head."  Her laugh came out as a snort.  "Oh." hand moved to her lips. "I hope you didn’t hear that." 

"I am a child then..." she was laughing still, while vaguely aware that she shouldn't be, but it also seemed like nothing was a trouble any more.  Frankly, she was feeling just lovely.  Reaching to take another tiny puff, she smiled dazily into Charles' face.

I quite like you." who said that? She felt like she was lifting and floating above herself, and looking down kindly with abstract amusement of how rather physically close they were.  So close that if she poked out her tongue it might touch him.  Will it?  Mary poked out her tongue to see if it would touch him, feeling like her tongue might meander forth like a snake, winding out along to then touch him on his cheek. Or perhaps on his nose. Or maybe both. And her tongue really did reach a long way*... all the way until it touched his cheek. 



*she is leaning forwards but unaware of doing so 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Oh God," Charles moaned, horrified. "This is how it starts, then. Fat feet first, then greying and thinning hair, then the rest of me shall swell as well, and then  for a finish I shall lose my wits and die."

But Mary offered a possible way to avert such a fate, and Charles grasped gratefully at it. He swung his legs up, draping them over Mary's lap, which was as close to elevating his feet as he could manage.

"Hear what?" he asked, in either gallantry or confusion. His own laughter came on then, as Mary destroyed his first smoke ring.

"And I'm growing very fond of you," he told her, "which is doubtless very stupid of me." He smiled blearily at her and chuckled again. They really were very close, he noticed. Why, any closer and she would be in his lap. That was a very pleasant thought, and he had almost decided to forget about elevating his feet and make it reality when Mary licked his face.

He blinked in brief confusion, unsure if he should reciprocate, before taking note of a far more important matter - his hand was no longer caressing her back. He corrected that, nodded self-importantly, and kissed her.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There was laughter and a sense of foolish levity, the weight of the world was lifted and only bemusement of it remained... Charles was spun around and her mind giddied of it, and then somehow they were kissing. It tasted sweet like more coffee, and she happy to drink it from his lips. 

"It does make our problem so much harder...doesnt it, although does it need to be harder at all." she breathed sing song style, shifting out from beneath his legs and walking her hands up his chest to look down over him. In her enjoyable rellased state she did not feel so much aroused as indulged... but perhaps?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Charles knew that there was a reason he should not have done that. Many reasons, in fact, but not a one of them could he bring to mind. It was just harmless fun wasn't it, entirely of a piece with their sharing a hookah of opium? Just a way for both of them to relax, and no business of anyone outside the room. He had not even used his tongue! Much.

"Hmm? What do you mean?" he asked, voice halfway between a sigh and a purr. Mary's words were quite possibly important, but it had been the breathy tone Charles had been paying attention to, and the feeling of her hands stealing up his chest. His thoughts came as though someone had coated his mind in warm honey, all slow and sticky but pleasant nonetheless. With unhurried solemnity he took one of her hands in both of his and held it up to examine. Very soft, he thought, and then found himself delicately kissing each fingertip, the back of her hand, her palm and on down to the inside of her wrist. He looked up at Mary.

"You really are very pretty," he told her gravely. "It is most unfair." He frowned. That was not what he had meant to say, was it?

But there was another conundrum to hand for him to consider. He was stretched out and Mary was looking down at him, and that was not right either, for reasons he could not recall. 

More easily rectified, though.

Charles nodded decisively. It was. Smiling up at Mary, he made to pull her down atop him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Hope locked this topic
This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...