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Darlene Hamilton

Dorchester Discooperire part two, Monday 4th April 4ish

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"Fury?" Darlene gasped with the wind briefly knocked from lungs, "that had better be a promise!"

She could not help herself but let her feet tangle with his as he made his haste, not that he was to be hindered.  Getting back to her elbows she watched as he undressed Jacket, Hat, Boots and Breeches all flying off of him.  It was almost comical, except that it was not, as he was more and more naked before her.  His muscles moving, his legs, his shirt just that bit to concealing to reveal the coming attraction. 

Mesmerised in the watching of him,  Darlene had barely begun to loosen her stomachers laces...

“Oh I am not ready!”  but she abandoned immediate thoughts stripping off, he was in such a rush, she'd not stall him!  Instead grabbed handfuls of her skirts to hoist  them, "Well, I am ready, just not naked, is all!” she laughed, reaching to catch him as he returned to her, touching his cheeks and finding his kisses.  

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Charles was indeed a furious lover, especially when he was overly eager for a special attachment.  He had been more gentle in his lovemaking with the lady he dared not think about in this moment.  They were having a tiff at the moment.  Darlene did not strike Charles as the soft and quiet type.  She was no porcelain doll.  She was a creature of passion and adventure.

He grimaced as she claimed she was not ready.  He used the moment to unbutton his shirt.  At last she hoisted her skirts, which was all the invitation he needed.  He pounced on her, not to take her breath away from his heavy frame coming into contact, but to take her breath away with his hungry kisses and the fury of his entrance.  He expected that she would need no foreplay and hoped he was right.

He was in excellent shape and of the perfect age to have the stamina for prolonged activity, treating her loins savagely while pressing lips and tongues hungrily.  "My darling Darlene.  Together at last," was all he could manage between the grunts of kissing and physical exertion.  With his pent-up passion, one would not expect him to last long; but, he wished to show her the type of shape he was in.  She had all but begged for fury and rigor, so he was not going to disappoint with a quick swive.  He wanted her to remember this coupling for the rest of her life.  He would hold off, he told himself, until she begged for mercy.  At least that was the plan.  it was going to take all of his willpower to prolong things.

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So it was not the sort of savouring she'd imagined he'd meant, but rather an eager, even impatient onslaught!  And Darlene was ripe for it, having been widowed for months and months and months, lover-less and yet inclined to be a very demonstrative sort of girl.  She squealed her delight as he leapt atop her with an military efficiency to his movements!  

It was plain he meant for directness, and lifting her knees she cheered him on. "I need you now!" which was precisely what he intent.  There was no strategizing required for this attack! 

Her recent abstinence made that first thrust all the more dramatic.  He was hardened steel and she was soft clay.  His home was found, warm and deep.    At that first movement Darlene tried to cling, to hold him there, crossing legs around his hips, their union at last found.   But Charles was not to rest.  Entrance made, he set about to his work, driving the breath out of her, he became a machine, stirring the deepest sensations with his sexual battery. It was wonderful, and it was also nothing at all like her late husband had ever been.

Surrounded by silk, satin, various types of cotton and netting too, her arms slung loosely around his shoulders, while he beautifully abused, exploding her mind with sensation, she kissed then nipped his neck.  

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Doors had been rammed down more gently than he was treating her with his own rammer.  It did not occur to him until well into the pounding that he might actually be hurting her.  Yet, she seemed as wild for it and he was.  If she was in pain she would surely beg him to stop, and he would comply if he thought her serious.  Yet she goaded him as he might Fireshot in the last lengths of a horse race he might win.  Dutifully he performed as a champion stallion should, giving that extra effort in the end.  This included lifting her legs higher to be violated even further.

He sensed her swooning and he hoped it might be multiple times.  His thoughts of Fireshot were aptly conjured as he relented at last to shoot the fire of his passion deep into her.  He doubted he could pull out, even if he wanted.  Her legs were locked about him.  There was no fear of pregnancy because they were in love and they had already discussed marriage, though without careful thought.

The perspiration cooled his forehead and chest while his loins and muscles burned.  "And that, my darling, is what we have been missing for three years!" he announced as he bent to kiss her that grateful kiss that marked a battle gone well.

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If there had been a point when she'd thought it was too much, it might have been after he'd fetched her that first time and then hoisted her legs and went even deeper still.  Had he seen her eyes glisten with love?  She was near to tears for certain - but she was not admitting anything of that sort to Charles.  Three years in the brewing, three years of pent energy to be expend.  Next time might be less violent she thought. She ached inside in a satisfying way, but was not so sure at that moment if she'd want a repeat.  

"Oh my god Charles." never one to take the lords name, here she did, and pulled him closer needing to recover, needing a quietness as she tried to catch her breath.  That was what they had been missing for three years?  "That was three years worth, to be certain!" 

Her mind tangled around a feeling that she needed to tell him the thoughts right now in her head.  At last they had done it, but, doing like that was not what she wanted again when he recovered, for recover he would...  how strange it was that she could not find words to tell him she wanted warm and tender.  She was usually very forthright about what she wanted and how. But this. Now.  This was Charles. This was different.  

So instead she held him more tightly than ever, burying her face alongside his neck, squeezing her eyes closed.

 

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He had been a bit more violent than he had intended, but there were many contributing factors that caused his release in such a way.  There was the three year wait, perhaps some disappointment in himself and Darlene for not getting together sooner, perhaps a jealousy and an anger with Thomas, wanting to mark his wife as hers at last.  There was the need for speed in that Dorchester House was not a place to linger.  There was but time for a devotion and then a departure.  One could pretend that Darlene had twisted her ankle, but not if they spent hours alone in a spare room.  So, perhaps he had thought to be extra ruthless in hoping that one mere bout would hold her this day.  He had wanted it to be memorable after all.

As she made her utterance, Charles laughed and fell beside her so that his weight would be lifted from her.  "It is all your fault for exciting me so," he jested as he let her hold him tight.  He was silent for a time.  In part he listened for the sound of servants listening at the door.  He whispered "we best not stay here long.  We'll just say you twisted an ankle or needed to lie down."  There was humor in the thought.  "We should continue to either my house or yours when you are ready.  Either would be a far better place to languish in each other's arms."  

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He was chucking as he said it was her fault. She'd already been thinking the same thing. She'd teased him far too many years, shed dangled herself like a carrot, and this violent pairing had was the result of that. 

But perhaps now lust was done, hed see her. She hoped so. Hoped that there would be tenderness to come. Hoped at the least he might help her undress so the could feel skins touch. 

But. Instead he was ready to leave. She'd not expected that. 

Suddenly all those nerves in lead up, second guessing herself, uncertainty, was validated. She should have said no, and walked away. What was I thinking?

Still stunned she got up from the bed, pulling down her skirts, making to retighten her needlessly loosened stomacher. "Yes, best be off. Though not to your house, for the same reasons as I said last week. Nor mine either. I'd thought that here, at Dorchester, it would be different." 

Shed certainly never thought she was here for a quick fuck then to be packed off.  She'd thought that Charles... well it didn't matter what shed thought. 

Her fingers were not working the laces properly, her eyes could not see them clearly. 

Was this my fault, really? 

"My ankle is fine." Her voice caught as she moved towards the door. His seed melting down inner thigh, so so upset at herself for thinking, everything she'd been thinking of him. 

 

 

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One need not understand the thinking of women to understand when something was bothering them.  "What is wrong Darlene?" he whispered.  "I told you we cannot trust the servants here.  Anything we do here could be common knowledge within hours, whereas I trust my servants or your servants to be discrete.  If we lay here together for hours, there can be no explanation other than we were in bed together.  If we lay and snuggle together for hours at either of our homes, nothing will be said of it.  Would you not prefer that?"  She had seemed keen on maintaining a proper image and not one of a merry widow.  As such, it seemed that some discretion was in order, otherwise they might as well be making love in the drawing rooms of the palace.

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"I told you that I am not a merry widow and have a no intentions of being one.  I am not going to be paraded in and out of Piccadilly for the neighbours to see.  At your house the other day, I did not even want your own servants to know. That was why I suggested the Dorchester. You'd told me when you brought it, that you thought it a place for secret liaisons."

He was completely clueless to how she felt, as a result of it all Darlene felt raped and discarded. 

"You have no idea who I am, what sort of woman I am.  You have no respect for me."  She unlocked the door. "And I was completely wrong about what sort of person you are. You talk a sweet story Charles, and I believed you.  But what you just did, you used me as a hole for your cock, nothing more.   I thought that after the first rush you'd want to...  well touch my skin.   I was not talking hours, but I did want more than two minutes."

"But instead you tell me to leave."  and that she did.  One benefit of him having stripped off was that he could not come after her, with his it's all your fault and I am innocent talk, trying to make her feel even worse than she did already.  "Well I am leaving. I never want to see you again." 

Slamming the door on him in his own house was scant satisfaction.

 

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Though in a state of undress, that did not stop him from leaping to stop her from exiting the room, fighting to keep the door closed.  "Hold off.  What are you doing?"  She made no sense to him.

"There's nothing I would rather do than to touch you.  I love you.  I am sorry if I hurt you.  It was the farthest thing from my mind.  I was merely trying to protect you from being viewed as the merry widow that you despise.  You worry about being paraded about Picadilly.  You do not want my servants to know, but you are content to carry on in front of the whole staff of Dorchester House?  If we tarry here, they will spread the word like fire that you are the merry widow that meets with me.  My servants would not.  Your servants would not," he explained.  "I thought to leave quickly only to give us grounds to deny the gossip of servants.  It was to protect you."  His reputation certainly would not suffer for bedding a widow.

"If you are seen coming to my house or me to your house, that is perfectly proper because I am courting you.  I have to hide nothing.  We can boast of spending time visiting each other.  It is perfectly normal and proper to call upon you.  Contrast that with meeting at Dorchester House in broad daylight for illicit purposes.  It doesn't sound like I am courting you if we are meeting at a third place to make love does it?"  He could not understand how she could not see that.

"If you wish to use this House, then we should do so at night or times when there are less servants about."  Why did she think this house full of proper tenants would be blind to the scandal that they did so little to hide?

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The door slammed closed, but by his hand, and she still on this side of it!  Turning about Darlene heard him out, his was an impassioned speech, and biggest of all, he said he loved her. 

With that she burst into tears, and with ineffective fist hit, then sobbed against him. "I have no idea Charles, I dont know what I'm doing at all. I dont know what is best, or how I should behave.  I only know that I... wanted to be with you."

He was sorry for being rough, it wasnt even the roughness that had upset her. "I'd thought our first time might be so special..." there were no secrets now, an upset like this laid truths bare. "then I was just so wrong to suggest Here. I'd not thought any of it thru." 

"Courting?" Voice small and laced in hope, she looked up to his eyes, seeking the soul within that her heart had told her was a match for her own. 

"I wish I'd not, we'd not, rushed." But in saying so she forgave them both. "I dont want to skulk Charles.  I had daydreamed of you so much, and how it might be when we were alone at last.  I love you too, and want to show you. We need time, hours at least..."

It was a very dramatic day, her emotions entirely overwrought, she felt exhausted. 

"Im sorry Charles, I didn't mean shat I said before. About your, you know what." Bleary eyed, she was not sure if she should feel relieved or not.  But at least she was not marching home thinking shed lost her best friend.

 

 

 

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It was something of a surprise to find Darlene at a loss of what to do or what to say.  She had always been in control, more ways than one.  She was always ready to tell everyone what to do, so it was a surprise.  Perhaps that made her more vulnerable and he collected her into his arms to calm her.

Holding her in a hug, he rubbed her back as he pressed her to him.  "We rushed nothing.  It was overdue.  Yes, let me court yo and call upon you at your house and invite you to mine," he suggested.  "We shall also work together to create ideas for Dorchester House.  All will be well."  He sensed that she needed to be held, so he did so quietly until she was ready to push away.

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This change in her circumstances, being a widow, was something she was at a loss over.  She returned his embrace, thankfully, the assurance from his gesture meant much. "They teach you how to debut, and how to be a wife, but they don’t teach you how to be a widow."  She did not like it, she might have married the first chap she'd come across to rid herself of the widow status.  But instead she'd come to court, and... 

"Yes lets." voice relaxing, his words had her see possibility again, so that she felt a tad embarassed at herself.  "A shan't hardly be a widow if we are courting."  Which might not be clear logic, but was enough to ease her mind  Darlene squeezed Charles a little tighter for a moment, to be courting was a most wonderful thing.  He'd said the word twice now, so he cant have been just kidding. "People might just say, 'oh that is Lady Oakham most often seen in the company of Lord Langdon.'  People shall be jealous of us, wont they.  I would be jealous of us."   

"But you are right, and we shouldn’t tarry here." Her hands slid down his side, and with effort of humor added, "Though it's an awful waste of a naked man if you ask me.

She still didnt want to leave him, but, if the Dorchester staff might talk, what was the alternative.  

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"I understand," he whispered, even though he did not understand exactly.  What were the challenges to being a widow?  He was a widower and, frankly, was glad of it.

"Yes, the beauty of courting is that it can be done openly.  I am one of your many suitors and you are one of my few admirers," he offered with a sense of humor.  "And it is true.  We must see if I will just be another Thomas or maybe something more suited to you and your happiness.  And you … I shall need to determine if your love letters are sufficiently persuasive,"  he offered his handkerchief as a peace prize to dry her tears.  In fact, there were other issues to consider between them but he would give no voice to them this day.  Would she have a dowry that would help him afford to purchase Dorchester House and Bagshot from his wards?  How would Darlene react to the news of his pregnant mistress and his other hidden lovers?

"You can have plenty of naked man if you invite me to your house for tea," he encouraged in reply to her humor.  At last she realized the peril of staying at Dorchester House overlong.  "Let me get dressed quickly."

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This pair did have very different views - their opposing views on widowhood being just the first they might negotiate.

But for now Darlene nodded, a smile that needed to be held in place as the next conflict of views became apparent: his idea of courting was very different to her own. 

"So.. you dont mean us to be exclusive." 

To her mind if she 'courted' many ( by courted he had already revealed he meant meant bedding) then she would be the exact merry widow she loathed the concept of. 

"Well no then, Charles, I won't be seeing many naked men. I do not want to 'court' other men.  I'm not that sort of woman.  I refuse to be. I'll wait, untill you realise that you want me, and me only.

He was getting himself dressed... she talked more on the subject.

"You could not want a wife who's bedded with all the bachelors at court now would you? What is to make a light skirt become faithful after marriage? You could never trust her."

It helped that she was wrung out from previous emotion, for she was now able to talk about such things with apparent  calm even.  

Yes it was dawning on her that they saw things very differently. Even if he had said he loved her, and she said it too. Could their outlooks grow into each others, and become a harmonious whole together? 

She tried to smoothe the bed.

"You are not at all like Thomas."  She stepped back and viewed her handwork, then smoothed the covers a little more. "I suppose you need time to decide what you want, who you want, I mean. Here I've turned up out of the blue, catching you by surprise even. 

Perhaps it had been her earlier outburst that was making him back off now, encouraging her to see other men. Likely whatever other women were in his life, did not, had not  made such a performance. Those 'few admirers' were probably looking really good to him right now. 

With rung out emotions she didn't even shed a tear at that thought just now, just a low sort of sadness that was repressable. Only time would tell if hed want to see her again, after all this. 

"Do you want me to leave separately to you."

 

 

 

 

 

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Just as things were getting mended, things were becoming complicated again.  Why did that seem to happen so often.  Did one hear what they wished or feared to hear?  He needed to be careful.

"You are the only one I would court," he answered readily.  It was true.  He had not thought to marry another.  He defined courting as trying to convince another towards wedlock, as opposed to sex.  Wedlock was important.  Sex was less so.  "After my disasterous marriage, I had almost sworn to never marry again," he confessed.  "Your arrival and Thomas' passing has allowed me to hope again."

The Darlene I knew would love to claim that she had multiple suitors," he remarked with a smile.  "My comment was in that regard."

"I do have some female friends, but I do not court them.  I shall need to be reordering things now that we are together."  He hoped that it sounded alright.  Darlene would learn soon enough about Catherine Sedley.  He did not want her to think that he had lied or withheld something from her.  "You are the one I love and have always loved.'

She offered to leave separately.  "Nonsense, we are leaving together," he replied.  "The Court is just going to have to get used to seeing us together a lot more," he offered as he finished his final buttons and belt.  "Shall we go?"  He offered his arm and a reassuring smile.

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It was only complicated in that Darlene had no wish to 'shop around'. These frets that she voiced (this one of him) were partly amazement that after so much unhappiness - a fulfilling future might be possible. It was too good to be true, was there some catch?  

"Oh yes, I shall like to have many admirers, yes I see what you mean." She smiled getting a grasp on what he meant, "But I shall not be inviting any other of them to have 'cups of tea' with me, at my place."  Darlene blinked as he thought about it. "I suppose if you look at it like that, then we should both have as many admirers as possible. It will be like a horse race with a huge field, and then the winners of the race are more fabled for the sheer numbers of losers they left in the dust!"

Yes, she could feel quite happy about that. Charles might have many ladies fawning around him, but he loved her.  And she, well she had always been happy to flirt and tease gentlemen, she just did not want to take it further than that with anyone. Unless it was Charles. 

Moving away from the mostly-tidied-bed she thought to help with some of his buttons. 

"It's a bit scary, isn’t it, for both of us. But we shall be fine I think, and not always so serious as this. I don’t meant to be so serious Charles, you are just to terribly important to me. And I want to understand properly, you must know I sometimes... don’t." she gave a shrug. He would certainly recall that she'd made some huge mistakes over misunderstandings in the past. 

Very pleased that they could leave together, it seemed like a lack of shame, even if chances were the servants would gossip.  "But first," she tilted and tiptoed, wanting to kiss him again, a lingering kiss that she did not want to end… fingers that moments before had helped button his jacketed, now undid a button or two.  “Do we really need to leave Charles?” she whispered and kissed him again.     

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She seemed to understand at last, which allowed some of his pent up tension to fade.  "Yes, if you have many suitors for your hand and then you choose me, it shall be a further compliment to us both," he suggested.  "I fear if we had a race between us, you would win handily with the number of admirers," he flattered.

"Yes, less seriousness is a good thing I should think," he offered in a light way, he hoped.  What husband would not cringe when his wife declared that they needed to have a serious discussion?  One might as well flee the house in panic rather than face the prospect of what was to follow.

The lingering kiss was a good thing.  It meant that all was well.  Her suggested sorely tempted him.  He paused and was about to unbutton his jacket again.  Properness got the better of him in the end.

"I should not like it if servants suggested that the lady I was courting was a mere merry widow," he whispered with a smile, using her own logic against her.  "I was thinking I could do with a spot of tea and I was thinking that your house is on the way home … ."

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"But you have had a head start, so I would put my money on you." Darlene grinned at how easily they created a game together, this was part of the reason that they were so perfectly matched. "I shall bet..." eyes brightened she sought a bid of something she'd want to give, "to fire the cannons for you at your next cannon firing event -" which was more of a reward than a forfeit she supposed. But would Charles really mind? She been begging him to let her fire the cannons for years now!  "-if you have more ladies after you than I have gents come seasons end." 

As amusing as it was, she was really quite serious and hopeful he'd agree!  He agreed on other things, such as not to be so serious.  But firing cannons did not count, even if it was a seriously (exciting!) business, Darlene knew that much, there was every chance he would agree. Perhaps. Then all she needed to do was loose, to win!

Charles teased with her merry widow aversion. "Heavens, we cannot have that." eyes sparkled, there was little she enjoyed more than a tease, to her the feeling equalled feeling loved.

"That's an excellent idea, tea for two is my new most favourite thing." she was dully aware that he'd suggested (his or) her place after previously, but it seemed entirely different now that they'd talked. Refastening the button, she grinned then readied for their exit!   

For the staff's benefit she spoke about Dorchester as they descended the stairs. "I think what is needed is some manner of annual event for Dorchester House, a charity garden tea party perhaps, that the lady-guests can participate in arranging.  It might make a fine publicity thing too, we could invite the newspapers, and have them report on it' success..." she chattered away, while her eyes turned with affection upon the gentlemen rather than her topic.

Really Dorchester house had become far less interesting to her now that she had the prospect of seeing Charles in her very own home. 

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Charles Whitehurst learned a valuable lesson that day.  Everything he had suggested initially, and had been met with tears and termination, was entirely acceptable in the end.  He was learning what all men learned with time.  Sometimes it was more important the way you said something, than the substance itself.  It was also likely that if you assured and reassured your love that she would be more apt to see things your way.

As for the wager, Darlene knew him well.  He was unlikely to refuse her regardless of the circumstances.   "A single cannon," he clarified.  He would not force soldiers of the King to wait while his lady went down the row of cannon.  "My regiment does not even have a cannon," he noted aloud.  "We shall have to remedy that one day."  It then dawned on him as he thought about it as they walked .. "if I win, you shoot the cannon?"  He was trying to gain a better understanding.  "And if you win?"  It seemed sort of backwards.  Perhaps she would clarify.

"Yes," he observed as they exited, "some noteworthy event would be the best advertising."  What that might be was hard to know.  He assumed it would have to do with things that proper ladies liked to do.

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“A single cannon then.” She was entirely happy to agree, before discovering that his regiment didn’t even have a cannon.

“We could fundraise for one, but I suppose you might not need one in the city…” she grew thoughtful on the trouble of that, when a sudden idea lit her mind. “Oh I know. What about at my monument - the monument to Our brave men lost at sea? I have been thinking I need to go to the docks to check it. What if we create a ceremony, and with the firing of a cannon for salute.  I will ask my James to buy a cannon, he will say yes, I am certain of it.”

The Chesterford family was affluent indeed, and the memorial had been begun as Darlene’s way to honour Henry’s passing.  Her brother had not even had to pay for it,  points that she’d need to mention to James.

“And if I win…” She knew Charles was onto her, so she needed to come up with a prize for her winning (and he betting on her to win) that would make him happy too. “… then.”  But it was so much harder to think of a prize he might like!  It couldn’t be about cannons again - or could it? 

Darlene sighed and looked back to him for help.  “What would you like Charles?”  

Downstairs, in the foyer, all seemed rather hush.  Perhaps the servants were keeping low, or perhaps they were busy out the back.  

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"You think your brother will agree?"  He almost laughed.  How could she convince her brother to purchase a cannon for a ceremonial salute?  What sort of brother would say yes?  Maybe he would rent one for the occasion, Charles supposed, though he was not sure who would rent cannons.  "If we can get a cannon, you can fire it," he agreed.

"If you win," he began, as he searched his mind for something appropriate.  "You will need to calm my jealousy by writing me a love letter once a week for the duration of court," he offered with a smile.  They had spoken of love letters and Charles was feeling inadequate never have received a love letter from any woman.  It seemed as though has should have a stack by now.

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"Why wouldn’t he?" Darlene was quite sure that James would agree, "A cannon there shall probably be useful for London City, like if the French decide to attack. Or the Dutch. Again. I’ve heard the stories, something about a chair at the top of one of their masts sailing up the Thames. Our port needs defending now that I think about it. James shall be more than happy to do his part."

She was very interested in his answer to what he wanted, the question asked seemed one she should know the answer to already. 

"Oh Charles," she murmured softly, leaning into his side with a terribly loving feeling towards him;  she wanted to kiss him again, so sweet it was. "I would love to do that, even if I loose. When you say 'for the duration of court' you do mean forever don’t you?  For the words of love shall be like a dam opened, I shan’t be able to stop once I am started." It was a happy thought.  “But would I trust such letters to the royal mail, I think I would rather slip them directly to your pocket.”    

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"Well, when you put it that way … perhaps he might," Charles conceded about the cannon.  Darlene was a persuasive lady.  When it came to money, he hoped that James might see his way clear to providing the money to purchase Dorchester House away from his ward.  If that meant foregoing the cannon, so be it.

"I thought asking for one a week for a lifetime might be a bit much to ask for, it being only our first true courting date together," he laughed.  "Perhaps you could slip one into my pocket this week, just so I can see what I have been missing," he offered with a feigned innocent look.  "Otherwise I will be left to collect love letters from my few admirers to prove how many admirers I have collected.."  The thought did appeal to him to collect love letters from others, but who could be persuaded?  Catherine loved him the most but would never put it in a letter for fear of losing their game forever.  Davina might, but not after their fight.  Fiona might if he offered to swive her in return.  Susan was far too proper for such things. 

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Compared to how much was going on in this young mans mind, Darlene was a very uncomplicated creature!   

He declined her lifetime offer.  "You shall regret not seizing the opportunity of forever, who is to say if it shall ever be offered again," she sighed as they stepped out into the sunlight again. His telling her that he'd collect other love letters to rival hers, was not a particularly nice counter.  Didn’t he realise? 

"I could be excused for thinking that you are trying to make me jealous Charles, and that is what you would prefer from me instead of declarations of love."  she pouted. 

Courting was definitely no easy business. Perhaps their courtship would be rife with obstacles in the same way that her's and Thomas' had been.  They had been broken up far more than they'd been aligned. Even right up to the moment he'd actually proposed, it was anyone’s guess to whether they were a couple at all. 

"I'll give you a sample love letter if you can give me a teaser to firing a cannon. And I wont even threaten you that I'll get some other man to let me fire his cannons otherwise. Though I might.  Just to make a point."

Charles had arrived on his horse, while Darlene had used a city coach which she'd told not to wait.  She lingered now on the path, wondering how transport could be resolved. Lucky she was a Lady, so it was the gentlmans problem to fix.

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"I was just teasing you," Charles hastened to explain. He was tempted to tell her he had received no other love letters anyway, but that sounded rather pathetic for a dashing officer of the King. He was still learning to communicate with her and the only way to know her well was to learn what alleys were best not tread.  Eventually he would have the map to her heart, but not before taking multiple wrong turns.

"I would love a lifetime of love letters from you!  Do you have to win for me to get that?  I am ready to concede right now," he offered with a smile.  He supposed she was ready to concede as well to get her chance at a cannon.  

""Would you like to shoot a musket?  We could come up with a mount so that you would not need to hold the thing in your arms.  That would be like shooting a very small cannon."  It made noise and produced a good quantity of smoke.

With her coach gone, he was left to transport her home.  "I do not have a side saddle but I will lift you on the front and then I will mount behind you and hold you and the reins in my arms and hands.  It will be cozy," he promised.  Or we can share a carriage and I'll tie my horse behind it."  It was her choice.

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He changed tune, and the woman of mercurial emotion smiled brilliantly in response.  If Charles truly contemplated a life with her, it was bound to be a rollercoaster of magnificent highs and lets not mention the dreadful lows.  Perhaps the financial rewards from the match would pacify him during the worser times, or, utterance of Dorchester house might become an under-the-breath oath!  

You’d let me fire a musket?” He got her attention with that.

“I brought  gun once, did you know, it was a tiny one. Adam MacGregor said he’d teach me how to shoot it, but when he saw it he said it was quite useless, and impossible to aim accurately. So he did not actually teach me at all.” She told Charles, mid chatter she nodded at his suggestion to share his horse, and moved as he directed.  “He said that my best defence was to ack wildly, and look like I would actually shoot it. That a villain might flee on the gamble of being shot.” She laughed, while holding her arms out to Charles, thinking to steal a quick kiss if close enough.   “Unfortunately I never got to try it, and then I got tired of carrying it around. I cant remember where I put actually.”

“But a Musket. That’s a real gun, I’d love to fire one of those.”

None of the men in her life, father, brothers, various suitors, or late husband, had ever offered to let her shoot a proper gun before.  It was very exciting.

“And I shall secret a letter to your pocket, and you might never know when it might be” she dropped her voice to a whisper for the effect.

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Charles was no friend of Adam McGregor.  the two of them shared a mutual distrust.  As such, he scoffed at Adam's offer of a useless pistol.  "Leave it to a Scot to favor bluff over action," he commented.

"It is a real gun," he confirmed with a laugh.  "It would knock any lady on her rear should she fire it unaided.  I shan't allow that to happen to you."  He held her close as Fireshot walked his way back towards Picadilly.  "I hope I should find that letter soon," he proclaimed as they rode along like two lovers.  "It would do my soul good."  he offered a smile while trying to think how she might secret a letter inside his jacket.  He knew Darlene to be resourceful but he concluded that he would be too watchful for her to accomplish it undetected.

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A finely shaped eyebrow rose at Charles’s scoff, and Darlene guessed she should say no more about Adam - ever!  And since she adored Charles, she’d go a step further still, “Yes trust the Scotts.” She’d blacklist the north completely if Charles wished it!

Meanwhile she leaned against his chest, feeling happily cosseted, and with such a fine vantage on the world at this height.  It was possibly scandalous, it was practically an announcement, but she had her heart settled upon him so why pretend to be restrained? Besides, he loved her, so that made every difference.

“Oh I would hate to be knocked over.” Actually it sounded a bit exciting, but with Charles being all protective she was not about to disagree. “Shall you show me how to load it too? And shall we have a fuse, like for the cannons?”

“I hope to discover many things that will be good for your soul Charles.” Fondly she crooned, it was a promise of a letter and more besides, though just what she hardly knew yet.  Being an imaginative girl she was bound to come up with some grand ideas.  

Of right now, and this very moment she said. “This is perfectly lovley." 

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"One thing at a time." he laughed.  "Loading a musket is messy business and likely to ruin your dress.

As they held each other and attracted gazes from people in the street, they both seemed content with the seating arrangement.  "It is indeed," Charles agreed.

 It was not a long ride to Picadilly.  Her house would be approaching soon enough.  Charles was left to wonder whether she would invite him in after all.

 

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