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In Search of a Evening Cup of Tea April 7

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It was true that no one could announce party games better than Darlene.  She could announce rules to a game she had yet to devise.  Who could do that, other than her?

He laughed with her when she reacted to the word "arse."  It was a test really.  Surely she would not be offended, and she was not.

"That was just an example," he offered, though he appreciated her embellishment.  "We could pick on other towns ... one's you hate.  Maybe we like people from Cornwall but if they are from some place north, not so?  What do you think? I am sure you will be far better at it than me.  What would you suggest?"

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Bodies cooled, and in a practical movement Darlene shifted about to pull the far corner of the comforter over them; so there they lay wrapped in a triangle. You might even say a Cornish Pastie of a sort.  "Oh yes I love Cornwall." She agreed, so never having been there she held bright beliefs in it's wonderfulness. Covered like this, it seemed the most perfect time to let her hand roam over his torso. Her fingers were a tad too cold, but he was still so warm.

"I suppose it cannot be too obvious, like we cannot use Oxford for meaning clever, for that is a code too easily cracked." How perfectly happy she felt just now, and alas rather less than inclined to give this new game her complete attention.  And also something about it did not quite fit right, for she hardly imagined Charles to be the critical-of-others sort.

"We should make words for the usual things gossip is over, affairs, corruption, and debauchery." her hand found his, and drew it over to rest on her side, as she lay with soft fleshy pillowlyness mooshed against his side.  "What about with foods?  An affair might be butter churning, corruption is taking a cookie from the cooling rack, and debauchery...?" she looked into his eyes, silent for him to think of the next one. Even as he hand resumed caress of his belly, and with thoughts to progressing lower soon. 

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What was not to like about Cornwall?  It was his home and it had the most beautiful coastline in the kingdom.  Either reason would have been sufficient.

He could have objected to the cold hands that found his flesh, but what gentleman would deny his lover this accommodation?  What soldier worth his salt would wince at such an icy assault?

"Butter churning.  I like that, though that might be a bit easy to guess.  Maybe just use a single word churning," he offered. Eating cookies works."  As for debauchery, he felt a smidge defensive.  He had to think for a time as ideas did not come to mind readily. "Maybe crossing the park at night?"  A simple word would have been better.  "It is dangerous, dark, and something you should not do."  He was thinking of his arrests in the park.  He looked dissatisfied with his choice.  "Maybe plucking," though that sounded too close to the word with the "f."  "Or maybe fruit eater?"  That was better.  It was like plucking fruit.

As her hand ventured lower, he made no effort to present an obstacle.  He would be happy to do a half dozen rounds with her and awake in the morning.  Yet, he had a nervous energy that he wanted to talk, though she seemed less inclined.  There were all sorts of fears dancing in his head -- marriage, other lovers, finances, her brother, and the unknowns.  Perhaps there were better times to discuss.  That did not mean that he would not feel a nervous energy until these issues were confronted.  He needed to relax and Darlene had the right tonic.  He sighed and cuddled with her invitingly.  

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“It was a bit rude wasn’t it!” Darlene grinned as he pointed that out.  These were interesting testing and prodding of boundaries, for this pairs relationship prior had been surprisingly innocent in fact.

Charles floundered around for an apt code-word for debauchery. It evaded him, he who had begun the begun the game so well. “A fruit eater? That’s terrible Charles!” Darlene laughed, “all I can think of now is sticky juice dribbling down fingers, why those words make me want to snatch for a napkin!”

Snuggling closer she mused, “Anyhow, such are our circles, that we likely do not know any debauching kinds.  I might have said Heather was a tad that way inclined, but look at her now, fairly nearly domesticated in the country with the Duke of Yorks babe.”

Could she think of anyone else she knew who was a bit of a roue? Nope. All her friends were practically puritan!

“Why really, you and I would be the closest to debaucher-ers I currently know, and yet 'This',” a now warming finger poked his robs to indicate, “is not even that.”  Her hand resumed stroking over his chest, “ 'This' is quite nothing not to be proud of.” Hadn’t that been what he’d told her even.

Her dashing soldier, whom she loved and he loved her, with plans to marry.  Falling hush a moment she was content.

“Your parents must have been so proud of you too.” Words dreamily said, and with them the realisation that he’d not told her about his childhood. “What were they like Charles, what was your Mother like?”

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It seemed that she moved on from his code word game.  Perhaps it had been a bad idea to bring it up in the first place.  As such, he let it die.

The way she spoke of debauchers, he was inclined to query whether one was a debaucher if the lady was so willing; yet, that could only end in a ruinous conversation.  Some topics were best to avoid.  "Oh let's pretend that we are being scandalous.  Though my heart sings each time I behold you, it is even more thrilling is it not that we sneak about.  Don't you agree?" he asked softly.

"My mother was an independent lady," Charles began as Darlene asked after her.  "Any lady married to a soldier needs to be prepared to spend long portions of time alone.  She had the three of us boys to look after," he remembered with fondness.  My father was often gone with the King for days if not months at a time.  She grew happiest to be in Cornwall away from court.  Her family had mostly died out and was not prominent, so there was little reason to prance about court.  She used to tell me that court was for peacocks and not mother hens.  Of course, I went away from home as a mere boy to join the navy.  Like my father, I rarely saw her much after I began my career.  William and Bradley spent more time with her.  I was not there when she died but I remember her fondly.  She would sing lullabies to me when I had trouble sleeping or was ill. What of your own mother?" he asked in return.

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Where did Charles get these ideas from?!  It was almost as if...

Darlene pouted, “But I don’t want to be scandalous Charles, most especially I don’t want to pretend to be.  But if you want a good secret, I am sure we can invent one between us. Like maybe in the dead of night we fire one of Whitehall’s best cannons. Now that would be something to never admit to.”

Darlene would continue to ask to fire a cannon, one day it might actually happen.

“Are some cannons better than other cannons?” The thought continued, “ -- Because I forgot to tell you that I don’t want to fire a tiny little one.”

It was a good idea to get that established.

But then it became extra special, what with her sweetheart telling her about the other most important woman in his life.   “Long periods of time alone?”  Darlene did not like the sound of that so much, Charles would not expect her to be likewise too?

“Oh Charles, she sounds very special…” though a little worry niggled at her now. “And was she tall, and very fine, just like you? It was a shame really, to deny Whitehall of her company.  And your Papa, he must have wanted for her to go on the campaigns too I bet.  Aren’t we lucky that you are stationed in London, or at worst Windsor. We shall just always be together, wont we.”

“What was the lullaby you remember, I love singing Lullabies, those and also Psalms.” And as Charles was asking after her own parents she continued, “my Papa told me I should sing a Psalm to calm myself when I get upset. I was closest to my Papa, I think Mother might have had her fill of children by the time I was born. I have four older brothers and one sister. She was lovely still of course, but Father was more…” indulgent. “ah, he had more time for me I suppose.”  


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As usual he did not put it well.  He had meant to pretend it was scandalous after it was common knowledge they were betrothed or married.  It was an idea to add spice to monogamy.  For some reason he was having a hard time saying anything about marriage,

"It need not be a secret to fire a cannon.  We will fire one ceremoniously."  He did not mention which announcement might proceed the shot. 

"Campaigns on the Continent are full of mud, disease, and danger.  It is hardly a place to bring a loved one, except a brother you are training to the toils of war."  He could not imagine a lady like Darlene being cold, wet and dirty.  It would be unbearable for both.

"Any lullaby or psalm  would do.  Though I was rather partial to over the hills and far away.  It was just the assurance of her voice ... the promise that all would be well."  A hint of a boyish smile appeared as he spoke about events almost 20 years prior.  The revelation of her own mother seemed in contrast.  It seemed there was a difference being the first and last child.  He had always thought Bradley had the better of it for being the youngest.  What could he say? "So, you were closer to your father then?"

"Tell me of your siblings then.  Are any here is London?"

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As certain as Darlene was that they were perfect for each other, and that they would be married someday (she had been telling him just that for years!) as a romantic at heart she did not actually want to force or trick. Darlene lived for the grand gesture.  But then here today she'd already arranged their big reveal to friends and engagement party - all while being aware that he'd not yet actually proposed.  So that when he said things such as 'lets keep it a secret', or 'pretend we are a scandal'... well, she knew it was cold feet, even if Charles himself did not.

In a soothing voice, "It's all right Charles." Darlene replied to his silence, and rested her head on his shoulder. As excited as she was to be with him, she needed to back off. 

He was happy to agree to let her fire a cannon. "That would be fun." she voiced, wondering if Charles talked of marriage like he talked of cannons.  Perhaps these where all things he agreed to in theory, but practicality was quite another thing.  

"So I’d need to say in the country, like your Mama did."  Perhaps Charles pointed this out to help her see clearly, he knew that Thomas had wanted her to be safe in the country too. Charles was no fool, he knew how she'd recieve that news; as forbode of a death knell.  

"Oh I love that one too, perhaps I will sing it to our babies one day." ignoring the looming sense of impossibility, Darlene chose to savour the now. She was here, warm and safe with Charles, and he day dreamed with her, and the imaginings were lovely.  Closing her eyes she hummed a few lines of the lullaby. "Ours would be the happiest children ever. What names would we give them Charles?"  

"My eldest brother is at Oxford, the next is in the navy, then the next died in the Kings service." she explained, "I raised a memorial to the lost sailors at the docks do you recall?  Another of my brothers is in the Church, Percival even spoke at the memorial for Henry, it was very moving, actually was the last time that my brothers and sister were all together."  The Chesterford children were scattered to the winds.

"Are your brothers settled on their careers yet?" they were younger than Darlene's siblings were. 

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Charles did not want or expect to be in the country, unless he was there too.  She was a creature of court and should be at court.  It would only be when he was on campaign on a battlefield that he would not have her there.  Creatures of court had no business being amongst death and filth.  Frankly, no one did.  It was only the promises of honor and duty that kept soldiers putting themselves in harms way in such a fashion.  "No, you would stay with me here at court," he clarified.  "If I go to France to face a Frenchman's musket, you will stay here in London where you will be safe.  Or you could go to Cornwall or visit your family or whatever you want.  Only, you cannot join me on the battlefield.  As many men die from disease as a mini ball.  I would never forgive myself were you to become sick or hurt because I was foolish enough to bring you to an enemy battlefield."

He smiled at the vision of happy children.  "How could they not be happy?" he retorted.  "They would have a famous father and the most charming mother the court ever beheld.  They would want for nothing," he boasted.  After pondering a bit he added "I confess that I do not have much money Darlene.  I was nearly penniless when you first met me.  My marriage to that odd French woman saved me.  She gave me enough wealth to finance my regiment.  My wards have wealth.  They own Dorchester House and the Hunting Lodge Bagshot; not me.  I'd like to gain enough money to buy both from my wards.  I do not expect Thomas had much wealth."  Soldiers rarely did.  "Would we have much wealth together?"  It was a gauche thing to ask, but it seemed alright when speaking about giving their children everything.

"My brother William is an academic I suppose, happier in libraries than with cannon.  He is visiting the Empire doing some research.  My youngest brother Bradley is about 17 now.  He was not very happy in the military but since arriving here in London he has a newfound passion for uniforms.  He even was able to get into the Life Guard.  Frankly, I think he has learned how uniforms melt the hearts of ladies at court," he laughed. 


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Darlene had not even realised she been holding her breath or the tension that had formed in her muscles, until it was released with relief.  “Oh I understand, and I’d not want you to have to worry about me.” She squeezed Charles, the effect of his reply very visible.  “But you will be all right wont, you, I mean you would be in some officers tent on top of a hill. With cups of tea. Or something stronger if you need it.” Her view of what nobility did if at war was thus revealed.

“I suppose this is why we need to expand our circle of friends, so we have good company to keep ourselves distracted when apart.” Which perhaps had been his earlier point, Darlene often missed points until they suited her. And now, as long as she did not have to spend her life alone in the country, it suited her very well!

Yes theirs would be privileged children, and they would be wonderful parents.  Charles then revealed something to her that she’d not thought about before – after all her own was a wealthy family, and Thomas’s had been comfortably off, even more so after her dowry.  The effect of those things was that the men in her life had never talked to her about money, never at all.

“Goodness.” She replied quietly in buying herself a little more time to digest. 

“Well I must have my widows bed, though I don’t know how much my dowry even was, let alone what remains of it now.” To her uneducated understanding she thought that the remainder of the dowry after her husband had passed, was returned to her and might serve a future dowry.  “It would be my brother James who knows about such things, I could ask him, if it helps.”

Women were not supposed to be bothered about such things, and that Charles did so she took as a compliment. Perhaps he would want her help in this. Perhaps money would become her new hobby even (though done discreetly of course)

“How much money do we need Charles?” she almost felt excited of the prospect, “I could have a bake sale… oh or why don’t we bet all our money on your next horse race! No silly, I am only joking. Not all of it, but we should bet a bit on you, it’s only sense.”

"That sounds interesting.” She replied of William, and wanted to ask where the Empire was, but did not ask in case it made her seem uneducated. “Probably my brother James would like to study in the Empire too.” It could not be another word for Europe, perhaps it was a fancy word for the Colonies? “Probably William and James would have great conversations together, hmm?”

“Aha, so he’s learnt the secret to your success!” she laughed along as Charles explained Bradleys change of heart towards the military, “So am I just another statistic Charles?” giggling she pressed into kisses. 

However distant a proposal might be,  Darlene so loved him that she knew it would be worth it. 

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I would be lucky to have my own tent at a battlefield  I might have a board or two to stand on or sleep on, and dirty water to drink.  It is quite the contrast to court," he noted in amusement.  He was certain that such an image would have her happy to not accompany him.

"Yes, more friends." he agreed.  Could one ever have too many friends?  He agree that it sounded like William and James would get along well.

On the subject of money, there was great risk in putting a lady like Darlene in charge.  Increasing one's wealth through gambling hardly seemed prudent to Charles, but then there were people who seemed to gamble as a profession.  "Maybe ypu could ask James what sort of wealth you have.  Do you have an advisor or steward who looks after your money?" he inquired.  How had she gotten by without Thomas present all those months?   "To give you an idea, it cost me around 15,000 pounds to purchase and refurbish Dorchester House and Bagshot, as I recall.  I do not have that kind of money.  I would need to marry two wealthy ladies to get that much," he laughed.  "If only bigamy were legal," he jested.  I receive rents from my lands in Cornwall and I have my soldier's pay.  I have won a few purses racing, but nothing large," he admitted.  "I supposed we can just keep using Dorchester and Bagshot.  Francis will not be an adult for another 8 or 9 years and her mother will be in my care for the rest of her life."  That seemed the best plan as it required no cash.  "The best way for me to gain more wealth is to gain more land, titles and offices," he explained.  "I lose money on the regiment but it brings me great prestige.  It is one of the King's few standing regiments."  Bake sales were not going to help.

He was happy to change the topic to his brothers and laughed along with the notion that Bradley was chasing skirt.  It was one thing for him to chase Catherine and quite another to go after the Queen's friend.  That lady was out of bounds for a lad like him.  She needed to marry some senior nobility. 


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"You have to drink water?" Darlene was proper dismayed, and the talk of sleeping on a plank was sheer madness. "Charles, you should stay in London, where it's comfy, with me."   

Did Darlene have a steward? (more specifically did Oakham have one that might still be taking care of Darlenes finances). "Goodness, I don’t know. I just put things on the account, and there has never been a problem." smiled she.  It was the same process she'd used with her brother. 

It did not truly seem such a problem, until he said that really big number that started with 15.  It was such a huge number that her mind was unable to understand much of anything he said after that.  "You mean fifteen hundred pounds?'" she quietly asked,  though pretty sure he’d said thousands. 

He laughed of needing multiple dowries, she understood it to mean that her widows bed would be no help.  The alternative solution being to grow in rank and titles, "But it costs more money to buy titles," her emotions yoyoing, did this all mean he could not afford to marry her. What was this about 8 or 9 years? 

"I don’t think my brother will have the sort of figures you need. I don’t even know really, but I had guessed my dowry was about 5 thousands of pounds, and Thomas is bound to have spent a good deal on Oakham when he received the sum. And also we travelled, and I travelled, a lot. At best I'd guess half of that might be left."  It was not nice to realise that she was not as perfect for Charles as she had imagined, and nor was he (with indebtedness revealed) the provider she has imagined.   

"Where is an heiress when you need one mmm?" she tried to be funny, while her eyes slid to the wild daisies he'd brought and newly understood them. There was an awful rushing noise swirling in her head. 

Darlene pushed herself up to seated position, drawing the covers around her.  "Such grand ambition. But you cannot make a bonfire from a couple of twigs."  she tried to smile, for if nothing else she knew she was doing the right thing.  She could not oblige him like she had been doing, praying on his friendship and good nature to save her from being alone.  For Charles, the man, would only add to his burdens by marrying her, she was not being a friend at all if she did that. 

"Perhaps you should marry your wards mother, you already care for her and the daughter. And then all that you've managed to invest in for them, will benefit you at last."  it was ever so hard to hold back tears, Darlene made a smile, "You deserve it, who else would have looked after them so well." 

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Perhaps this was why one did not discuss finance with ladies.

"Trust me, I would always prefer to be with you." He offered a squeeze.  Young men, however, were led to believe that, despite horrid conditions and mortal risk, that the battlefield was the call that one could not ignore.

The conversation about finance started rationally enough and then ... it started dissolving into emotion.  Why must women see things with their heart rather than their mind?  He needed to be careful about what he said next.  He thought of what a love letter to Darlene might say.  That was always the best course.

"We do not need that sort of money," Charles attempted to soothe her.  "We can use those properties without buying them," he offered with a smile.  "Without you at my side, where would be the caring, the warmth, the hope, the inspiration and the love?  Money buys none of these.  I would rather be happy man with a loving wife as a companion than an unhappy man with gold as a companion.  You bring the sunshine into my life.  My wards bring only duty.  One is an imbecile and the other tries to run away preferring to live in the filthy streets and alleys of London rather than in a comfortable bed.  She is showing signs of coming around though."

"All we need is a spot of luck and we will be set for life.  If I rescue the Duke of York again from an assassin, surely there will be a reward.  And, when we get to Cornwall, I think we will unearth something even more valuable in the ruins of the castle.  Who knows what you might find?  I could see you overseeing an excavation party."  He knew she liked leading things, so surely that would find favor.  He looked to see if his mercurial love would once gain blossom.

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She was comforted by his squeeze and reply, “I suppose it is duty.”   Charles was far too diligent a man to even consider shirking off.  She hoped the King noticed that too.

The talk of money was a more difficult thing, Darlene who thought frugality was buying two dresses instead of three, or hiring a quartet instead of full orchestra.

But now Charles retraced.. which came as a great relief, and she wiped at her bleary eyes. “And you already sacrificed your happiness once, with that French woman.” She reminded to punctuate his own point. “Love shall tide us far better, but still I wish I could be more help.” Her hand came to rest on his arm. “I do not know anything of Bagshot, but Dorchester house… it just ought to be yours.  You may not need that sort of money my love, but if it is your goal then it is my goal too.  And besides, I’ve wanted to give deportment and some-such lessons to the young ladies who shall reside there.” She smiled and added, “Perhaps I should practise those on your young ward.”

While Charles said the money was not essential, Darlene saw it as a potential problem between them. Like how Thomas had told her she was not to flirt about.  She'd felt uncomfortable the moment Thomas had said that, and look how big a problem that had then become. 

And of ways she might help Charles suggested two. The first inspired her imagination,  “You could orchestrate an attack, hire some men to be thugs to attack him.  Then you could turn up at the right moment to save the Duke. That would be some grand theatre.”  Theatre fit for one of her much loved Moliere plays.  "It might be a perfect plan, if you were not to nobleminded for such deciet.” she smiled with affection to say. 

The second idea was also fun, most especially as it was something that she herself might do.  “Ooh, like dinosaur bones?” Darlene knew about dinosaur bones because last time she was visiting James at Oxford the university was all abuzz with it’s unique discovery.  “Or maybe more crystals.  Or maybe proof that Merlin lived there.” She could see it so clearly, except for one problem. “But I have not the right clothes for excavation parties.”

It niggled that perhaps she’d have to go without new clothes, though she would try her best not to think about that.

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"Yes, that French woman was an embarrassing chapter of my life," he admitted.  She had been old enough to be his mother and she was a drunkard.  He had wondered at the time how a drunkard could be so pious at the same time.  She loved to collect religious relics.

"I shan't plot some phony assassination," he replied quickly to Darlene's plan.  "If I was discovered, it would be the end of me.  It just so happens that there is an existing plot to kill York and I will be speaking with Bradley about going down to the docklands to look for the suspects.  We have some general information from an informant in Savoy," he explained.

As for an excavation party, he smiled at her quip.  "It shan't be a social party, rather it is just telling a crew of sweating men where to dig and having slackers disciplined.  I should think something simple might do."

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  • 2 weeks later...

"She was a terrible mistake." Darlene sagely agreed, "But you can hardly be blamed for that, some women, especially the French, are just leeches.  When she saw you and leaned how possitively lovely you are, she would have thrown herself at you I dare say. And you, well you are just too nice to tell a lady to be off... though I still don’t understand quite how you went along with it until you were actually married." she mused quietly and indulgent of his misspent past, but had come to a conclusion that she realised he really did need to know.  "It is alright to refuse a lady Charles, you cant just agree to them all of the time."  Being a gentleman he might not have known that. 

"Oh, except if it's me, then you should always say yes."  she giggled at this last instruction. 

"Savoy? Like that Duchess, ah, Noni's aunt or some such." if there was already a plot to kill York, well that was not very nice. "Why would they want to kill him, I mean, he wont even be the heir to the throne soon." 

"Well I still wont have anything to suit, I feel like I shall need some sort of explorers outfit, probably in beige - but dont worry I shal still look stunning."  Darlene was quite matter of fact about her beauty, which perhaps weakened the effect of male compliments as they seemed to be more of a statement of truth.  Far rarer, for her, was to be called clever.  

"...oh and a tent. And probably mosquito nets, because mosquito nets look rather lovely I think." No excavation led by Darlene would be a 'simple' affair.  “Oooh, and perhaps we should invite my James and your William, since they are the academics of the family. And we shall probably need a… um, one of those people that write things down, what are those called again?”   

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"Yes, it was a mistake," he admitted sheepishly, wondering he should tell Darlene the sordid details of his agreement with the Duchess of Savoy.  She might see him in a poorer light.  Really, was he all that endearing as she characterized?  He supposed he was to ladies but he was hardly proud of more than a few of his antics.  It made him wonder whether Darlene held any dark secrets herself.  The attack upon Killigrew was certainly no secret.  There was the time that she spent with the elderly Duke of Newcastle, who had gifted her this home.  She had just been a friendly face hadn't she?  Had she done things she had regretted?  He supposed that everyone did; but, he saw Darlene through the lens of perfection that was the frailty of all men and women that had been smitten with love.

"Yes, I shall always listen to you," he pledged with a smile.  "I shall only tell you no when it is appropriate."

"Yes, Noni's aunt, as you recall.  I was close to the Duchess and her son when she was here and I visited them in Savoy.  It was she that thought I should marry Jeanne, who lived in Savoy.  It was a mistake to listen."  Of course, he had received a good deal of wealth from her.

"I suppose there might be those on the Continent that wish York ill for whatever their purpose.  It is hard to know, but we should take the warning seriously.  I have Bradley down at the wharves listening for visitors."

The topic then switched to the frivolous, but a welcome relief.  "Practical clothing I should think.  Monmouth's wife, Anne Scott, is all about ladies wearing boots and seeking adventure.  She might have a wardrobe to suggest."  It might be a good way for Darlene to meet the Duchess, who was greatly in need of female friends.  "What would you think of having tall shiny boots like mine to wear?"  He was jesting of course.  Next she would be wanting trousers.  "A wide brimmed hat I would think, to protect your porcelain complexion."  As for their brothers, "it might capture their interest, but academics think this nothing but fanciful mythology, not history.  As for me, I believe that myths have history an history has myths.  One is never devoid of the other I should think.  There must be truth to find in Tintagel Castle."  As for a scribe, Charles asked "do you mean to have your own secretary in this affair, to record things?"

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Darlene felt, in her own little way, to have helped him with this revelation. Wasn’t that was good relationships were made of, a mutual sharing and growing together – or at least this now felt quite a different thing to the self containment that her 1st husband had shown.  Had he ever developed into more because of their union, no.  She might even claim he’d regressed.

"And if any lady becomes too demanding of you, pressing your good charity as a gentlemen, just let me know, and I shall redress them.” She was pleased to say.

That Duchess of Savoy sounded to be one of them. “What a shame she is so far away.” Thank goodness! “I’m far too busy in London to tell her off for her meddling.” And she hardly knew if shed even dare with such a powerful woman!

“But the main thing is not to feel bad about it sweetheart, we are moving forward to happy futures at last.” She gave Charles a squeeze, he was so warm, so dear and so close. She was so happy to be with him, and like this, “I can still hardly believe it.” Even if sometimes he did say no when he oughtn’t. (which blew her previous theories out the window, but she chose to ignore that)

"Oohh, do you think Bradly might like some assistance?”  One day she did intend to adventure again, perhaps this was her opening?

The topic then switched to the important matter of costume.  “I’ve never actually met Lady Monmouth, I tend to mingle more with brunettes and redheads.” Darlene replied all quite serious.  “…but perhaps for educational purposes I make an exception.”

“Oh but you are just being silly now, I doubt I could even walk with great pieces of leather on my legs, they go right up to your thighs don’t they? Goodness, I would be walking around like a bow legged horse rider. That is hardly my look!” she was laughing at the very thought.

“Well if you say.” He was against the idea of involving their brothers, perhaps he was shy of his hopes for great discoveries, and wanted to keep it more hush. “I wont say a word to either of them then, not until we find something miraculous.  And yes, a scribe. In fact I really have had a need for a scribe so many times, I ought to secure one into my permanent employ. To write out party invitations and all that sort of thing.”

Charles might perhaps recall that Darlene’s was the worst hand writing he’d ever seen*


* Its her antiskill! Though tbh she writes hardly any letters so you would be excused to have forgot :)

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Darlene had offered to take on any lady that was vexing him.  Though, at first, it seems like an offer to decline readily, there was a certain comfort in thinking that he might have a weapon against a lady.  A lady could compel a true gentleman to do most anything, if she was skilled.  So, he nodded with a smile and gave her a hug.  He too enjoyed the warmth of her body beside him.

"Boots are quite comfortable I'll have you know,  Most end below the knee.  They are better for walking in dirt and mud.  You just clean and polish and they are ready to serve again."

A scribe seemed sensible but it hardly sounded like a job that would require effort all day.  "Perhaps he could hold the umbrella for you too."  That still seemed too menial.  "I wonder whether you would want a woman scribe/" he mused.  "You rarely see women as secretaries except to other women I suppose."  They were known to have better handwriting than men anyway, present company excepted.

As he thought about it, Charles decided "perhaps you could aid Bradley, not in anything dangerous.  Perhaps gaining information on Savoyards that are new to London."  He was certain that most any role would be welcome and she would be effective in gaining information where a soldier might not.  


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Enjoying his embrace, Darlene placed a kiss on his neck.  "I think I'll leave the boots for you," said she, "I really dont mind how long it takes Maisie to clean my shoes, and what if I am killed. It's like wearing clean underwear, I would not bear the thought of people saying 'and she was wearing boots!" she was giggling to say. 

Covertly perhaps she would try out a short pair of boots, but they would have to be of a most beautiful kind, a clue to her thinking was given by her next question, "Perhaps you could introduce me to Lady Monmouth?" 

"Oh heavens, I would not let a scribe do that, my maid would be terribly upset if someone else took her job!"  she giggled again. Men, they could be so obtuse!  Just as well Charles now had her to help him, who knew how many mistakes like this he'd been making in his life!  Darlene would sort everything out, and have a grand time while doing it.

"But I also need a scribe for my groups, the Garden society for instance.  It's been just ages since I put out a newsletter, and I have use of an office to do it and everything. Oh, perhaps I can just share Lord Heneage junior's clerk..." she rose an eyebrow, wondering if Charles might appear at all jealous at mention of another mans name.  Not that she wanted to make him jealous, well, maybe just a little bit. Perhaps just enough to nudge him to make love to her again.

"Oh thank you Charles! I shall keep safe, I promise." it was proper amazing that Charles gave her the nod to hunt out villains at the Docks! 


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Charles laughed.  "Heaven forbid boots or unwashed under garments."  He rubbed her back affectionately.  "You shall not die Darlene, my darling, for I will prevent it.  You shall be my widow rather than I your widower.  And, I shall die with my boots on I think."

He agreed readily to introduce her to Anne Scott.  The Duchess would have Darlene wearing boots in no time, or Darlene might convince her to give up adventuring in favor of gardening.

"Ah a newsletter."  He had thought that she needed a scribe to chronicle her exploration of the castle.  "Finch?  How do you know him?"  It was a silly question really, as people met each other court   Maybe he was a bit jealous.  A bit.  What he really wanted to know was how well she knew him; but then, it did not really matter.

He was happy that she was happy with assisting him.  He was certain to rue the decision in later days, but in the glow of pillow talk, it was hard to resist making her happy.  Perhaps he could sense what she wanted next, or perhaps it was his own loins that felt the need, for the seriousness stare melted as his gaze softened by taking in her nakedness.  One did not need to be a mindreader to know how he was thinking of pleasing her, and himself, next.  His hand lightly traced her form as if mapping its contours.

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“Or perhaps we could die together, that would be the most romantic.” She grinned knowing it entirely silly, leaning forwards she kissed her Charles again, murmuring, “but I know you shall save darling, I only don’t know how I could be happy still if you were lost to me forever because of it.”

Which perhaps meant she ought not do anything that might endanger her hero, but then she didn’t like to put such restrictions on herself.  Hardly anything dangerous really happened after all, and she was really quite eager to start asking people questions down at the docks.  (Charles would be so pleased with her if she discovered where the villains were hiding.) 

When Darlene suggested her scribe help with the newsletters, she was just thinking of additional duties to justify hiring one full time (as opposed to only for the excavations at Tintagel).  That as a topic slid out of relevance though, as her dangling of Alesford’s name did the trick.   Darlene’s eyes brightened at Charles question, “Well I am letting him use my office at the Palace you see, so I expect he must think very highly of me actually…”

Looking into Charles eyes, she thought to visually measure how jealous he became? “I’d not be at all surprised if he secretly dreams of marrying me… but of course my heart is already taken.” Charles hands begun to rove, and she breathed up into his touch. Her exhalation stilted as her breath quavered from lips, “I can hardly bring myself to tell him though.”

Her eyes slid to Charles lips, while her body melted to his touch.  

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"Romantic but sad perhaps," Charles replied with a smile.  As she kissed him at the thought of his death he quipped "best I not die then."

 It was one thing to mention Finch's son, but she disclosed ... "you have an office at the palace?  How on Earth?"  There had to be a good story behind that surprise!

On the subject of jealousy, Charles was a flatterer.  "Who would not secretly dream of marrying you?"  Did he seem jealous?  If he did, he tried to hide it well.  "When can I meet this person that has stolen heart?  Will I like him?" he played along.  "Or should I challenge him for your affection?"

Whispering as he moved to embrace her "does he quicken your breath as I do?"

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  • 2 weeks later...

"At least not until I am tired of you,” Darlene teased in reply between little kisses to his cheeks, “… which I rather doubt will be any time soon. Imagine when we are old and grey together Charles, I think we shall still be laughing and having games and sport together.”

Games like dropping an unexpected fact-ette. Charles was suitably surprised, and quizzed to know more.  “Well I must admit that it was not entirely honestly gained, though nothing actually criminal of course. You see when I found out that Lord Mountjoy had moved office, hed been upgraded, it struck me as a most obvious opportunity you see - it was not even very hard to get the key.  Its hardly my fault that someone more qualified was not as clever to ‘seize the moment’ as I was.” 

Looking to her lover, she hoped he thought her clever for that (and respectively that he was clever to have his sights on such a clever lady, etc.)

Charles did adore her, this slightly possessive tone he now took cemented that fact in her mind. “I don’t think you should like him Charles, it’s hardly good form to befriend your fiancées other suitors. It would make it so confusing for me.”  Snuggling closer, their bodies pressed close, and she was less inclined to talk nonsense. "No my darling, only you do that to me."    

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Had any other lady claimed the story about the office, he would not have believed it.  Yet, Darlene was never unsure about seizing the moment, or an opportunity.  "How clever and opportune," he complimented.  "I shall not reveal the truth but act as if that office was given to you by His Majesty," he laughed.  "Perhaps you can find a better office for me!"  He kissed her forehead.

"We need to find a clerk or two to keep in that office, looking busy doing your correspondence.  If no one seems to be in the office, the Chamberlain might note it and reassign it.  Maybe I should assign a soldier to stand at the door," he laughed, but immediately regretted giving voice to the idea, knowing that Darlene would insist and he would be placed in an awkward position.

"Far be it for me to confuse whom you love," he played along.  He kissed her lightly on the lips.  As they snuggled tightly, Charles whispered "I feel my breath quickening, to match my heart."


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"Oh do you need a better office?" She almost felt silly to have not realised that already, wasn’t there always a better office to strive for?  "I would love to help!  What sort of office would you like, perhaps one with a garden view? Oh, but you must mean with the life guards, don’t you.  Perhaps you should have Lord Albemarle’s office, from all accounts he is terrible at it anyhow." 

Cogs were whirling in his mind,  and her friendship with Lady Albemarle seemed a possible opening towards all of that. 

"Would you Charles, just for me?" Darlene crooned as he promised to hire clerks, and to have a guard posted at the door. "It's so generous of you, do you know that Some men would not be so indulgent.  Some men might think it rather unnecessary even.  You are so very special, you are so unique." she heaped praise upon her sweetheart as he indulged with the loveliest of things.  Other ladies might have huge bouquets, but she had staff and even her own soldier.  Soldiers in plural sounded better. "Charles can I have two?" 

Their bodies pressed, and he whispered sweet things. "My heartbeat quickens to match your own." these little kisses, so precious, so restrained, "while my breath - you've stolen it away." she gazed into his eyes.

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"I really only have a tiny office at the barracks at the palace," Charles admitted.  "The Commander of the Guard has a slightly better one."  Darlene was already angling to move Ablemarle out.  That would be near impossible, he imagined.  "He is a duke," Charles observed mildly, as if that were an excuse to not be very good at anything.

He was already regretting offering to have a soldier stand outside the office door.  It would be hard to explain.  Before he could answer, Darlene asked for two.  "Only the royals get two," he replied in a soft way not to upset her.  "Even one may need to patrol the hallway outside your office at times," he warned.

"Speaking of patrolling," he began as an attempt to shift the topic as they gazed into each other's eyes.  "I think I will need to inspect the most precious thing to me."  That would be her, of course.  "Any good patrol needs to be done regularly and sometimes unexpectedly."  Trying to lay her body back on the bed, he exclaimed "I had best start my rounds at your forehead and work my way down."  By that, he meant his lips, which moved to obey. 

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"Then how might you become a Duke too?" which seemed to be the solution Charles was suggesting. Darlene would not mind that, Duchess' got to be called 'Your Grace'. "We had better keep both our Houses Charles, for when we are Dukes and Duchesses, we shall need all the rooms for our sycophants to stay in."

Which was said with a little humour, for Darlene knew it was extremely rare to have a new Duke made, even if it was even possible any more.

"Do Duchesses get two?" her lips became a rosy pout, "I think I shall really need two Charles, because... well when my garden society ladies come to the meetings they will be very amazed to see two guards at the door.  It will practically be like an investment.  The return shall be that they will be marvelling about it to everyone, and you know what they say Charles, reputation is simply everything." 

"What if I have no guards most of the time, and then two, now and then. See, it's really quite frugal." she hoped he'd agree, even if he was getting himself distracted.  Distracted, and saying terribly distracting things too.  "Oh Charles." Darlene cooed happily, "You are most precious to me too." falling back onto the pillow she giggled, eyes slipping closed as he kissed her forehead.  

Soon enough she'd forgotten about negotiating for soldiers...

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"I suppose I could be a duke if the King adopted me," Charles replied with a chuckle.  He knew of no way to become a duke.  "I suppose if I married one of his daughters I might make it to Marquess," he added to torment Darlene.  The King had no remaining marriageable daughter of age that Charles knew.  "Maybe if I married two I could make it."  He attempted to tickle Darlene's ribs.  "You could be a duchess by just marrying one son."  There was another way as well, but he would not speak of her sleeping with the King, even in jest.  Charles had no idea how close Darlene had been to a duchess title.  If she had not been married when she was living with Newcastle ... .

He had no desire to debate the number of soldiers she would deserve.  It was just being silly anyway.

"If you want two of something, I'm thinking of something we might do twice ... like right now."  And so he was then kissing his way down from her forehead, cheek, ears, neck and bosom.  It did not end there, but as the kissing became more frantic, so did his desire to join with her more completely.  Really, there was nothing to say ... just sweet grunts and moans of pleasure that foreshadowed the crescendo to come.

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On cue to his teasing Darlene pouted.

"But his daughters are all ugly."  Darlene knew her beau well enough to know that was as great a deterrent as any!  (She remembered the time he'd been all angsty and upset when his guardian was arranging him a match with the allure-challenged Miss Boyle! )

"Besides, I shall feel like queen of the world to be married to you, and you might feel like King."  that topic came to a dead end, and really, she was not bothered.  Becoming a Duchess had never been a goal of hers, if she'd had that vision she'd not have married Thomas in the first place.  

No, she wanted something far more elusive at Whitehall.  Happiness. And here with Charles, was as much of that as she'd ever known.  "What if I said I want a whole legion then?" she purred, limbs relaxing around him as they made love...




OOC: shall we call that a wrap? 

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