An English House Party Ch. 07byAMY_Monaco©
Penny paced her bedroom, restless and unable to sleep. The picnic earlier in the day had stirred emotions inside of her for Jason she didn't think she could feel. She felt anger for being betrothed to him when he was practically a stranger.
She felt confusion about how vulnerable and yet, safe she was when she was with him. When he wasn't being bossy, he was actually charming and kind, even romantic.
She shook her head. No, he was trying to confuse her. Because Julian was gone now, he probably wanted to break her down so she'd accept her fate as his future wife.
Penny took a seat at a small desk positioned near the window. She took out a sheet of parchment and lifted the quill to write. But the words 'Dear Julian' didn't appear on the paper – wouldn't appear. Something was stopping her.
Her eyes came upon the worn letter sitting next to the inkwell. It was still unopened and in the same condition as when Jason gave it to her. Now she took it in her hands and flipped it over. She brought it with her to the bed and settled under the covers. It was addressed to her, but the ink seemed to be slightly faded, like the rest of the letter.
She broke the seal and unfolded the paper.
That same night, Emma didn't wait for the Earl to join her. She slipped from her room and down the hall, dodging a maid who was carrying out a last minute request. Without knocking she turned the knob of the door.
His room was empty as she closed the door quietly behind her. Then her eyes went to the connecting room, where she heard a soft splash of water. He was taking a bath. She stood there, completely still, wondering if she should go in and surprise him. She would miss being with him after they parted. She would miss talking to him in the darkness as they held each other after lovemaking; she'd miss his soft laughter and deep voice.
Just then, the connecting door opened and Alex walked in with nothing but a towel around his waist. He was using another towel to dry his damp hair when he looked up and froze.
"Emma, what are you doing here?"
She slowly untied the sash of her robe and let it fall to the floor. She stood before him naked. His eyes roamed over her with appreciation.
"I think you know the answer to that, Alex." She said in a sultry voice. She let out a soft laugh when he tossed his towel aside and went straight for her. He brought her hard against him. His mouth claimed hers in a demanding kiss as he pushed her up against a wall.
His skin smelled of soap and she breathed him in, raking her fingers through his damp hair, pulling him closer. She was ready for him. Frantically, she unhooked his towel and spread her legs, wrapping them around his waist. Instantly, he slid into her to the hilt. They both sighed.
"I need you so much, Alex." She whispered. He answered with another hard thrust into her.
"Damn it, cara, come to Italy with me." He grunted. He pounded into her, as if it were the last time they would make love. He rained kisses all over her face and neck, unable to get enough of her taste. "We cannot end this here." He added more strongly.
Emma moaned as he ground against her clit with each deep stroke. "You...you know I cannot."
Nostrils flaring, Alex plunged as deep as he could, her efusal driving him. His darkened eyes alighted on her face, flushed; her rosy mouth moist from his kisses and parted as she sucked in air.
He was coming to realize he needed her. Actually needed her. The mistresses he'd kept had been good for one thing only – sex. But with Emma, it was making love. And he was coming to realize he wanted more from her than just a tumble in bed each night while sneaking around at night. He wanted her in the morning, afternoon, just before the sunset – and not just in his bed.
"Deeper, Alex." She sighed. "I need you deeper."
He obliged her by pulling almost all the way out of her, teasing her wet slit with the swollen head of his staff for a moment – then plunging into her. He alternated between short and long strokes, taunting her with his body until she was begging.
"Ah, cara, you feel so good around me." He groaned. He nuzzled the side of her neck, damp from their lovemaking. Her inner muscles clenched around him and he felt his entire body tense. Without thinking, he blurted out, "I want to come inside you."
Emma bucked and dug her nails into his back. "Alex!"
Blinded by his release, he barely had strength enough to pull out of her. The groan was forced out of him and he managed to push away as his seed spilled. It was an eternity as they stood, with only the wall to hold them up as they panted for breath.
Emma vaguely felt Alex lift her into his arms and lay her on his bed. Then she felt the coolness of a washcloth on her stomach, cleaning off their lovemaking. She snuggled up to his body when he joined her, laying her arm across his chest as she slipped her thigh between his. Content to just lie in his arms, she listened to his rapidly beating heart slow to a steady rhythm. His large hand came to hold hers over his chest.
"Hmm?" She lazily looked up to meet his eyes.
"Emma, will you do me the honor of being my wife?"
She blinked, her heart starting to beat faster. She stared at him disbelieving. Had she heard him correctly? Had he asked her what she longed to hear? No, she must have dozed off and imagined it all, wishing only to hear what her heart desired. A rake, especially one like the Earl of Whittenhall would never –
"Emma, I just asked you to marry me." He reinstated. "Have you no answer for me?"
"I...I don't know what to say."
"Say yes. I want you to say yes."
Her heart soared. Oh, how she wanted to. Yet the small voice inside her that remained wise told her that becoming his wife would only mean heartbreak. He wanted to marry her now, perhaps because he was still feeling lust. But weeks from now or months from now, he'd tire of her. And then where would she be? She would be miserable, because her husband would be out entertaining his mistress.
"My answer will have to be no."
He frowned and sat up to lean against the headboard of the bed. "I just asked you to be my wife."
She sat up, too to face him. "You just say so because it's a solution to my coming with you to London or Italy."
"It is a solution, but not the one you think. I want you by my side. I want to introduce you to my family and show you Italy."
Emma only shook her head sadly. "Alex, I meant what I said. I don't require anything of you. I made love with you knowing very well I'd never see you again after this."
He lifted her chin gently. "Are you telling me you will have no problem walking away from what we shared, from us, cara?"
She fought the tears misting her eyes. "I don't wish to change who you are nor do you wish to change, I think. I will not marry a man who will later take a mistress."
His frown deepened. "I said nothing about a mistress. When I marry you, you will be the only woman I'll make love to."
Frustrated now, she tucked a long lock of dark hair behind her ear and tried to focus her thoughts. His confession only confused her. She couldn't allow herself to accept it so easily. She shook her head. "Alex, this is marriage. And not just any marriage, but one where the man and wife will stay faithful to each other. I know it is not the way of so many people of the Ton, but in my heart, I desire a husband to remain true, as I will. I admit that I am jealous of the women who've known you before me, but I have accepted what you are. Rakes are never happy in marriage."
"Fine speech for one so young."
"I am nineteen, my lord. That may be young to you, but I know what I want."
"As do I. And I want you as my wife."
Emma shook her head again. "You won't be happy."
"Let me be the judge of what makes me happy, cara."
"You'll want to bed other women. I'll end up boring you in a few weeks."
He cupped her face and kissed her. "I highly doubt you will ever be boring. Listen to me, cara. Yes, I admit that my past is...colorful. Truthfully, I have bedded more women than I care to count or remember. But since meeting you, I have thought of no other female. Have you never heard the phrase that reformed rakes make the best husbands?"
The sad smile lingered on her lips. "It won't work. Can't you just settle for something brief and good? You've probably done it with other women."
"All of them." He muttered, then, "But I will not just settle for that. Not with you."
She pulled the sheets aside and straddled him. With her mouth, she licked at his skin, nibbling on his vulnerable areas like right underneath his earlobe and where his neck and shoulder met. He grasped her by the waist.
"Do not think to distract me, Emma. This isn't over."
She rubbed her moist pussy over the length of his hardening cock. "I hope this isn't over, Alex." Then she settled her heat over him. He watched her through desire-heavy eyes. "I love the way you fill me."
She rode him slowly, whispering words into his ear until they both panted and moaned. She made to lose herself in this ecstasy, reveling in his hot embrace and the feel of his chest pounding beneath hers. She knew that in years to come, she would remember these moments with vivid detail. She would know she had lived, for even a brief period in her life, she had known this profound love for one man.
I know I have neglected to send you any news of me and I thought I should since we are betrothed.
I understand from my father that you've started lessons on Latin. I myself find the language fascinating, though it seems impractical to learn it unless one wishes to translate old documents. But it came in use these past few months while I was guided through the ruins of Greece. The history here is so rich and well recorded, from the architecture, ancient scrolls to artwork. I wish you could be here to see it with me. I would describe it here in this missive, but I know I wouldn't do these ruins justice, nor would I have pages enough to do so. Perhaps someday I could take you here or I can tell you about it in person.
It's nearly midnight now. My friends have all gone either to bed or out to enjoy local entertainment. I decided not to join them, as I've been restless for many nights now. All these thoughts of our future marriage...perhaps you share the same infliction.
Earlier today, I was walking with my guide down a small, narrow street. Being among the locals helps to enhance the journey and I've learned a lot during these hours with my neighbors and their families. We came upon an aging couple that sat leisurely in the front of their home. As the day was hot, they kept the front door open and watched the world pass by as they sat in their old chairs.
Somehow a conversation began, though they knew no English, they were patient and happy enough to allow my guide to translate our words. They've been married fifty-two years. The man was bald with a weathered face and rough hands. He wore thick spectacles on his round face. His wife, a petite woman with small eyes and never failing smile still had her wedding ring on.
What amazed me about this seemingly ordinary couple was their faith in marriage. They had eight children and six and twenty grandchildren, and there they were, holding hands as we conversed with them.
There was no mistaking the look of affection they gave one another as they told their story. While the woman told me how they met, the man fondly described each of his grandchildren.
Recalling the old couple made me think of you and our future. When I saw their frail hands touching, even on a hot, average day as this, it made me want what they had.
I understand there is a large age gap between us and we may be strangers to each other, but I would very much like to make our future marriage to be harmonious.
Like the old couple, I hope to share with you children and dull days, along with the exciting ones. Right now, all I can picture is your youthful, impish face framed by black hair, but I hope one day to see laugh lines mar the corners of your eyes, like those of the old woman. It would mean you have shared a happy life with me. I hope to see the gold band slightly dulled on your finger, an indication that you never took it off.
It is my deepest wish to see you look at me one day as the old woman did to her husband, with love and devotion sparkling in your violet eyes.
As the Marquess of Fords and the future Duke of Delaford, there is much expected of me. I have known of my duties to my title and to you for a long time. But I don't want you to assume I think these thoughts simply because it is my duty. I've never loved anyone and frankly, don't quite know the meaning of the word. But as you are my future wife and the mother of my unborn children, I give my heart to you.
I sincerely hope this letter finds you in good health and I await your reply with anticipation. There is no need to address my confessions specifically, but know that you hold my heart in the palm of your hand.
Jason The Marquess of Fords
After rereading the letter for the second time, tears were sliding down Penny's cheeks uncontrollably. She clutched the letter to her heart. So many emotions were warring inside of her and she couldn't seem to focus on just one.
Why had Jason never sent this letter to her? It would have helped her understand him better. It would have made her feel less alone in this arranged marriage.
She couldn't understand why she was crying either. She'd always had feelings for Jason. At first it was child adoration, then friendship, and now...
Penny cried harder. Jason said he wouldn't ever fall in love, yet in this letter, he confessed to want to know something akin to the emotion. But then again, it had been written years ago, exactly how long ago, she wasn't sure. His views could have changed.
There were so many questions she wanted answers to. But of all the questions, the most she wanted answered was why now? Why did he give it to her now?