An Undeniable Passion Ch. 18byopels©
She awoke to someone caressing her face and gently saying her name. She opened her eyes and saw Drake leaning over her, his face a mask of worry, his warm hazel eyes tinged with fear. "Oh no, not you too," she groaned. "Not both of you in the same day." She moaned and closed her eyes again. He said something about being right back but she didn't quite understand.
He returned with a bowl of water and a cloth and began dabbing at her lip. She was lying on the couch and she struggled to sit up a bit but that caused the tears that Charles had made in her dress to gape open, fully revealing her breasts. Her hands quickly attempted to pull the fabric together but Drake had already seen too much. He averted his eyes and saw something glittering on the floor. It was her pendant. The one that reminded her of his eyes. He reached down and gently picked it up, holding it in his palm as it glowed in the light. Women before had commented on how his eyes were like pieces of amber and he wondered if that was the reason she had it. Laying it on a nearby table, he turned his attention once more to her lip. The familiar sparks of passion burned in his eyes as he attempted to maintain his composure and tend to her.
As she gazed up at him, her heart pounding in her chest, her frayed nerves tingling, her battered senses whirling, she could hardly believe he was here. Once again, having him so close set the butterflies in motion. She hadn't felt them once since leaving the ship. Clutching at her torn dress with one hand, she pressed the other against her stomach in an attempt to quell them. "Are you all right?" he asked.
"Yes, I think so," she replied weakly. Under her breath she cursed, "Damn butterflies."
"Butterflies?" he asked. He wondered if she hadn't yet fully come around and was hallucinating.
"Where's Charles?" she managed to ask.
Drake gritted his teeth and said "On his way back to England, if he's got any brains at all." He glanced at her dazed eyes and said, "I kicked him out, threw him in his carriage and told the driver to take him back to the harbor."
"Why are you here?"
"Stop talking, you're making your lip bleed again."
"I don't care. What are you doing here?"
Dabbing at her lip again, he looked into her eyes and said, "Apparently rescuing you."
Virginia met his gaze and was drawn in again by those amber eyes. He was so close to her that she knew she wasn't going to be able to resist him.
"I came back to see you," he said softly, staring into her emerald eyes.
"To see me?" Still slightly dazed and disoriented, she put her hand on his chest. Her touch sent shock waves through him and he sucked in a deep breath.
She could feel the hardness of the muscles there and the beating of his heart. He seemed to radiate heat and she again looked deeply into his eyes.
Quietly he said, "I think your lip is fine now."
"Good, you can kiss me then," she didn't realize she had said the words until a moment later.
Drake wasn't going to wait for her to change her mind. His lips gently descended onto hers. She kissed him back, winding her arms around his neck, her entire body tingling with delight. He wound his large hands into her hair which had come loose during her struggles. His hair tumbled to his shoulders as her small hands pulled it loose. He sighed as he felt the strands sliding over his cheeks. How he had missed her doing that. The passion in their kiss deepened and he gathered her up in his arms. He climbed to the top of the stairs and she murmured "left, end, left." He turned into her bedroom and lay her down on the bed.
He sat next to her and stroked her hair back. He again kissed her gently and asked, "Shall I leave you alone?"
She had gone this far and she wanted more, she wanted all of him. She could find out later how long he intended to stay. Right now, in this moment, her desire for him overrode all her senses. Her need to have him touch her, to once again take her to the heights of passion, quieted the small voice in the back of her head that was trying to warn her, trying to tell her that this was unwise and was going too fast. She reached up and wound her hands around his neck, kissing him again, and she said, "No, stay."
He got up and walked over to the door. She was at first terrified that he was playing some cruel game with her and that he was going to leave, but he just closed the door and returned to the bed. He discarded his coat, waistcoat and shirt before crawling across the bed to her, pinning her in place with his eyes. A thought about Thomas floated through her mind but then Drake's lips were on hers again and she forgot everything except him.
Billy returned home from the smith with the repaired chandelier pieces and as he stood in the front foyer he could hear the floor above him creaking. He cautiously mounted the stairs and turned down the hall towards their bedrooms. He saw that Virginia's door was closed. Wondering what she was doing to cause so much noise, he was about to knock when he heard voices. Virginia's voice and a man's voice. They weren't exactly talking though and it took a moment for him to realize what was happening. Wide eyed, he stepped back from the door. The sounds coming from inside her room were unmistakable and blushing, he quietly tiptoed back down the hallway. He stopped at the top of the stairs and looked back down the hall, puzzled over who it could be who was in there with her. It must be Thomas he thought to himself. He went into the ballroom and climbed back up the ladder to continue his work on the chandelier.
A while later he heard someone coming down the stairs. Wanting to make his presence known, he began to whistle. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw someone standing in the doorway. He turned and almost fell off the ladder when he saw Drake standing there wearing only his breeches and a loosely buttoned shirt.
"Hello Forrester," he said cheerfully.
"Hello, Cap'in," he said warily. He had suspected that the relationship between the two of them while on the ship had been physical, and he had, of course, heard the rumors, but thought that they were nothing but rumors. And even if he hadn't approved it had not been his place to say anything. But things had changed and now he was going to say something.
Drake knew that he and Virginia hadn't been very discreet during their lovemaking and that Billy surely knew what had happened. Even if he hadn't, his current state of dress would confirm it. "I suppose you know what just happened," he said as Billy came down the ladder.
Billy approached him and staring up at him, he said coldly, "Yes, I do."
Hearing the tone in the younger man's voice, he said, "I take it you don't approve?"
"What I don't approve of is the way you keep hurting her. I'm not exactly sure what happened between you on the ship that hurt her so much but you leaving so quickly had something to do with it. And now you're back, toying with her, probably to be gone again in a few weeks and leaving her behind, broken and hurt once more. I know I can't fight you but I can ask you to please leave her alone. She's trying to get over you and this," he gestured to Drake's rumpled appearance, "doesn't help." He considered telling him about Thomas but figured that was up to Virginia.
"You know how I feel about her. Doesn't the very fact that you're here prove that?"
"I'm beginning to wonder what your intentions are with her. I thought you wanted me to stay here with her so that you would know she was safe, not so that you could easily find her so you could have some sport while in town."
"I did not come here for that reason. I came because I love her and missed her. I asked her if she wanted me to leave and she said no. She asked me to kiss her and she asked me to stay," he said, wondering why he was defending his actions.
"Don't you know she's vulnerable around you? You confuse her, she doesn't know how you feel about her and she's not even sure herself how she feels about you."
"I plan to stay awhile this time, Forrester. I love her and I plan to prove it."
"Proving it to me is one thing, convincing her is another," he said walking back to his ladder. At the foot he paused and said, "Please, just try and not hurt her."
Drake turned to leave but then turned back and said, "By the way, Forrester. I stopped at the mercantile to ask directions here and met your fiancée. Congratulations."
Billy just nodded and began climbing up the ladder.
"Can I ask you one more thing?" Drake asked. "I saw her ring and commented that the man who gave it to her must be wealthy. That's when she said you gave her the ring and that you are indeed wealthy. How did that happen?"
Pausing on the ladder he said, "You'll have ask Ginny about that."
Ginny? he thought to himself as he went back up the stairs. Everyone was calling Forrester Billy and now Virginia had become Ginny. Does everyone change their name when they move here?
He crawled back into bed with Virginia and wrapped his arms around her. "You were gone awhile," she said. "I heard you talking to Billy. It didn't sound like a pleasant conversation."
"No, it wasn't. He doesn't approve of me being here like this, with you."
"He doesn't approve? We don't need his approval," she said, offended that Billy felt he had the right to judge them.
"I don't think its his moral sensibilities I've offended. He's worried about you. He's afraid I'm going to leave again and hurt you."
"And are you? Going to leave again?" she asked in a worried voice, pulling away from him and sitting up.
"Well, eventually I will have to go back. But I intend to stay this time for at least a little while."
"A little while?" she said, her voice rising. "What does that mean? A whole month this time instead of just three weeks?" She got out of bed and pulled a robe about herself. "How could I have been so stupid? I should have known. Get out," she ordered.
"What? V, what are you talking about?"
"Don't call me that!" she practically screamed at him. "Get out of my house right now!"
"No, V, I mean Virginia, please let me explain."
"I don't want to hear any of your silver tongued excuses. Now get out."
"Please, just listen to me," he pleaded.
"Now!" she yelled at him. "Billy taught me how to fire a pistol and if you don't leave, I swear I will go and get one and shoot you right here!"
Knowing that she could not be reasoned with right now, he quickly dressed and left. After he had gone Virginia lay on her bed and wept. How could I have been so stupid? she asked herself again. Why can I not resist him? I was going to be cool and polite when I saw him, but instead I immediately unraveled, she chastised herself. I was under duress she thought, Charles had just attacked me and even though Drake stopped him before he could complete his intentions, it was still traumatic. She had been vulnerable and he had once again taken advantage. She would never forgive him for that.
She suddenly lifted her head and whispered, "Thomas! Oh my goodness, Thomas." She lay her head back down as tears continued to slide down her face. She already felt bad enough at her own foolishness but now she had to contend with the guilt of betraying him. First she had flirted and kissed Drake while engaged to Charles and now again with Thomas. She wasn't officially engaged to him, but it was quite clear that he was courting her. If he ever found out, it would be over between them. It wouldn't be the worst thing for her, but to hurt him over this, would be horrible.
Billy heard her yelling at Drake and then saw him storm out the door moments later. He ran up the stairs and down the hall to her room. He stood in the doorway and saw her lying on the bed crying. "Ginny?" he asked. "Are you alright?"
She raised her tear stained face to him. "Is he gone?" she asked.
"Yes, he's gone."
"Good, I never want to see him again." She put her head back down on the bed, tears silently trickling down her cheeks.
"Is there anything I can do?" he said, standing in the doorway feeling helpless.
"No," she said quietly.
He gently closed her door and went back downstairs. He paced through the rooms, cursing himself for being gone this morning. It wouldn't have happened if he had been here. He stopped in the sitting room and looked around. The furniture was out of place and the small table against the wall was knocked over, the figurines that had sat on its surface lay broken on the floor. What had happened while he was gone? he wondered. It looks like there had been a fight. He noticed a broken necklace lying on another table. The one she had made at the goldsmith the day he had placed the order for Elizabeth's ring. He picked it up and stared at the warm golden stone. It reminded him vaguely of something. Something he couldn't place. He put it back down and after straightening the room and sweeping up the broken porcelain, he returned to his task in the ballroom.
Drake sat in a tavern cursing himself. He hadn't intended to wind up in bed with her the moment he saw her. But when she stared into his eyes and asked him to stay, he couldn't help himself. How was he supposed to resist her? He shouldn't have kissed her, even though she invited him to. After her struggle with Charles he knew she would be extremely vulnerable and he should have resisted. Now, once again she was angry with him. Most likely furious. Would he ever get a chance to set things right with her? Not with Forrester also angry with him. There was no way he was going to be able to get close to her without his help. His first order of business would be to win him back over to his side.
He heard a chuckle and looked up. Charles was sitting a few tables away watching him. He had a bottle in his hand and he filled his glass before raising it up in salute. "She's a hell of a woman, isn't she?" he asked, before downing the drink. The scratches from his fight with Virginia were still red and raw on his face and his right eye was beginning to swell from where Drake had hit him.
Drake only glared at him before lowering his eyes.
"What did she do? Throw you out?" Charles asked, his voice slightly slurred. "Not very nice of her was it?" he continued, not waiting for Drake to answer. "You rescue her and then to show her appreciation, she kicks you out."
Drake only glared at him again.
"But then again, she does have a temper doesn't she? Yessir, fiery red hair and a fiery temper to match." He poured himself another shot and quickly downed it. He chuckled again. "I heard that you were able to tame her. For awhile anyway," he leered. "Tell me, how was she? I always wanted to know."
"Shut up, Thompson," Drake growled at him.
Charles picked up his bottle and staggered over to the other man's table, sitting down heavily. Drake straightened and sneered at him. It took every ounce of self control he had not to punch him again.
"C'mon, you can tell me. I was her fiancé for heaven's sake. How was she?"
Drake violently pushed the table away from himself hitting Charles in the chest, knocking the wind out of him and tipping the bottle over, spilling whiskey onto the floor. He stood and stalked out of the bar, leaving Charles behind, bent over in his chair, gasping for breath.
Virginia peered at her reflection in the mirror with a grimace. She looked terrible. Her eyes were red and puffy and it was going to take her forever to brush out the tangles in her hair. It was two days later and she had finally gotten out of bed. She was to see Thomas that afternoon and she was dreading it. How was she going to face him when all she would be able to think about was Drake in her bed? She groaned and picking up a hairbrush, she sat at her vanity table and began the task of bringing the mass of red tangles under control. As she slowly worked her way through the knots, she pondered how she was going to handle Thomas' visit. Billy had gone into town but had promised to be back in time for moral support. This was not going to be easy.
Billy sat on his horse staring at the Aurora as it bobbed in the harbor. Drake had invited him to visit, but he didn't know if he wanted to see him. He was still angry at his former employer. Virginia hadn't emerged from her room for two days and when she did her eyes were red and puffy, her face pale. Shamelessly, she had poured out her heart to him, told him everything right from the instant she had met and fallen hopelessly in love with Drake up to his unexpected arrival earlier that week. She even admitted that she had invited him into her bed. Billy better understood her confused feelings for the man but that did not excuse the fact that Drake should have behaved better during his last visit. After pulling Charles off of her he should have known that she was in no state to make a clear headed decision about anything, let alone whether or not to allow him back into her heart.
He rode over to the mercantile and tied his horse up there , then walked back down to the harbor. It felt good to once again be walking along the docks, amongst the ships. Climbing aboard the Aurora he greeted his old crewmates before making his way down to Drake's cabin. He knocked at the door and entered at the summons.
Drake turned to see Billy enter and he breathed a sigh of relief. The first hurdle had been cleared. He would have been lost had the young man declined to see him. Offering Billy the chair, he perched on the edge of his work table. "Thank you for coming to see me," he said. "I appreciate the opportunity to clear the air between us."
Billy didn't respond, just stared at him with cold eyes.
"I appreciate the fact that you've grown fond of Virginia and feel the need to protect her. That was one of the reasons why I chose you to watch out for her, because I know that you're an honorable man and wouldn't let anything happen to her. However, I want you to know that I had no intention of hurting her the other day." He paused and trying to make Billy understand he said, "I'm not sure if you fully understand the circumstances..."
"I know the circumstances," he interrupted. "She told me about Thompson arriving before you and how you threw him out, but that did not give you the right to do what you did." Drake opened his mouth to speak but Billy continued. "Yes, she admitted that she asked you to kiss her and that she invited you into her bed. But you knew how distraught she was, how vulnerable. You should have known she would be incapable of making a rational decision. You should have resisted."
"Don't you think I haven't beaten myself up a hundred times over those very things? I hate myself for bringing her any kind of misery but I just can't help myself when I'm around her. Forrester, I love that woman. I've loved her from the moment I first stared into those big green eyes of hers. And I'm fairly certain that she loves me as well. But for some reason I always seem to make her angry." He paused and then said, "Forrester, help me, please. Help me get her back. If I can win her back I will stay here and never leave."
"You mean you'll marry her?"
"If she'll have me, yes, I'll marry her."
Billy hesitated, not sure if he should help him. He also once again considered telling him about Thomas. Perhaps he should know that he had some competition. He again decided that it was up to Virginia to tell him. Drake looked at him with pain in his eyes and Billy suddenly realized what it was that the amber pendant reminded him of. If Ginny carries around something that reminds her of Drake like that, then she must have feelings for him. And she had admitted on several occasions that she did love him. But she had also said a couple of days ago that she never wanted to see him again. He drew in a deep breath and slowly let it out. Making up his mind, he looked at Drake and said, "Alright. Against my better judgment, I'll help you. What do you want me to do?"