An Undeniable Passion Ch. 21byopels©
Virginia stood out on the balcony, deeply breathing in the cool night air. She tugged on the bodice of her dress attempting to loosen it a bit. How did Violet tolerate the long hours of dancing and socializing in dresses so tight she wondered. She was leaning her arms on the stone railing when she heard a familiar voice at her elbow.
"Would the belle of the ball care for a drink?" he asked softly.
She turned and saw Drake standing near her holding out a glass of wine. "You said that your intention tonight was to live up the expectations of hosting the social event of the season. You seem to have succeeded." He raised his glass to her in salute.
"Yes, it seems to be a great success," she replied coolly, accepting the proffered glass, glancing behind him, noting that he had closed the french doors that she had left open.
"You and Timothy seem to be enjoying yourselves," he said.
"His name is Thomas," she corrected him impatiently, knowing he most likely called him Timothy on purpose.
"Yes, of course, of course," he murmured dismissively.
"Yes, we're having a wonderful time."
"He's not half good enough for you," he stated, casually removing his frock coat and draping it about her shoulders.
She was momentarily taken aback by his chivalrous gesture but was determined to not be swayed by it. "Drake, is it possible that you're jealous of Thomas?" she said with mock surprise.
"Don't be ridiculous," he retorted.
"You are jealous!" she said gleefully.
"And what would I be jealous of?" he asked angrily.
"That someone else is able to hold my interest? That someone other than you can send a shiver down my spine?" She stared at him imperiously.
He returned her stare with glittering eyes. He came very near to her, so near she thought he was going to kiss her. When he spoke she could feel his breath on her cheek. "Does he make you feel the way you do right now? Does his very nearness make you feel the way you do when I stand this close to you?" he whispered.
She hated to admit it but she was reacting simply to his being close to her. Her heart was pounding, her breath was uneven and, of course, the butterflies were fluttering. He could easily see how he effected her.
"I've been watching you my dear V, and I haven't seen him once get this sort of reaction from you." He stared into her green eyes, his hazel ones glowing in the moonlight. "I don't even have to touch you and look at you, you can barely breathe," His fingers rose and gently stroked the base of her throat. "your pulse is racing, and I believe I once heard you mention something about butterflies? Are they there too?"
She gasped and stepped away from him. He chuckled, knowing that he was right. She kept backing away from him, but he kept advancing until her back was against the far railing of the balcony and he was so close his legs were lost in the voluminous folds of her skirt. "Drake, please," she pleaded softly turning her head.
"Please, what?" he replied, his voice a mere whisper. She closed her eyes and sighed deeply as his fingers trailed softly across the lushly exposed tops of her breasts. His hand dipped lower and cupped one mound, squeezing gently. She gasped and grabbed his wrist, pulling his hand away.
"Please don't touch me," she said in a hard even tone. "You may not be aware of this, but I do not care to be groped by you tonight," she said straightening her dress.
"And who would you have grope you? Thomas?" He chuckled softly, twirling a tendril of her hair around his finger. "I'd be willing to wager that other than kissing you, he hasn't even touched you. Have you ever asked him to touch you? Have you ever wantonly pressed yourself against him? The same way you did the second time we met when all you knew of me was my name?" He put a finger under her chin, tipping her head back. "You know very well that I'm the only man who can make you feel that way. Admit it, V."
Instead of sparks of passion his softly spoken words were met with sparks of anger. "Will you please stop pestering me about that! Not now, nor will I ever say such a thing to you!" She pushed him aside and stalked back down the balcony. She stopped halfway down, took a long sip of wine, and rested her elbows on the railing.
He caught a whiff of cigar smoke and looking over the edge of the railing, he saw Thomas lighting a cigar on the lower terrace.
Leaning his back against the railing he said to her just loud enough for Thomas to hear "Come now, Virginia, you know it's true, why do you deny it?"
She rolled her eyes and without looking at him, said, "I came out here to get some peace. Could you please leave me alone?"
"Ah, but my dear, I can't leave you alone. And as much as you'd like to think so, you can't stay away from me either."
"I can stay away from you quite easily, I assure you," she replied, still clearly annoyed with him.
He approached her and said, "Just like on my ship? If you will recall, you were the one who seduced me." He gently pushed his jacket back off one shoulder and trailed his finger along her bare skin.
"Yes, and what a mistake that was," she snorted.
"Come, my love, admit it, you enjoyed yourself immensely," he said tucking a stray lock of hair behind her ear. He trailed his finger around the edge of her ear, and down her throat.
"It doesn't matter whether I enjoyed it or not, it shouldn't have happened."
"It matters to me that you enjoyed it and I enjoyed it as well. Memories of our times together out on deck late at night gave me great comfort during the long voyages back to you. Images of your ivory skin glowing in the moonlight, your eyes shining with desire, ah yes, for many nights they filled my dreams." He paused gazing down at her face, her cheeks flushed, her eyes fairly snapping with irritation. "And not just on my ship. It also happened just down the hall from here. A few steps from where we stand right now."
"That should never have happened either. And you know it wasn't the same. I was very vulnerable, you took advantage."
"How am I supposed to resist you when you stare into my eyes and ask me to kiss you, ask me to take you to your bed. I told you before, my lovely V, I'm a man of strong will, but you are just too tempting." He again trailed a finger along her shoulder. She sharply tugged the jacket back up over her exposed shoulder.
Changing the subject he asked, "What did you tell Thomas of your journey from England? I'm quite sure you didn't tell him that you spent most of it in my arms."
"What I told him is none of your business," she snapped.
"Let me guess. A tale about a luxurious passenger ship? Yes, that must have been it."
Annoyed that he had guessed correctly, she glanced at him sharply. "Oh, you are just impossible."
"Impossible what? Impossible to resist? I'll wager, I can make you beg me to take you down that hallway in just a few minutes."
She calmly sipped her wine. "I'm not going to give you that chance," she replied.
"All I'm asking for is a dance. You've danced with just about every other man here tonight."
"You know very well why I won't dance with you," she said tersely.
"Because I literally sweep you off your feet and into bed?" he teased.
She turned and refused to look at him. He chuckled quietly, but not so quietly that Thomas wouldn't hear.
"Yes, I believe I would win that wager," he said still chuckling.
She just stood at the railing, fuming.
"Come my love, am I so distasteful? You know that Thomas will never be able to make you happy the way that I can." He took a step towards her. "You've all but admitted that he doesn't stir your passions like I do. And you know that no other man, Charles, Thomas or otherwise, will ever be able to. He could never satisfy you like I can," he said, reaching up under the velvet coat and lightly running his hands down her arms.
"Perhaps I will just have to teach him how to please me. That could be most enjoyable, spending long hours in bed showing him just how to touch me, just how and where to kiss me, how to trail his tongue over..."
Rage suddenly flared in his eyes and he threw his wine glass over the edge of the terrace, causing it to break on the stones below. He snatched hers from her hand and it joined his on the lower level. He gabbed her by the arms and pulled her close to him, causing his coat to slip back off her shoulders. He stared into her startled eyes for a moment and then kissed her, pressing his lips roughly against hers. Shocked by his sudden anger, she twisted in his arms, struggling to get away, as his mouth punished hers, stealing her breath away.
This was no tender, giving kiss. It was driven by frustrated desire and whatever he wanted from her tonight, he took, and he did so greedily. He ground his mouth against hers, thrusting his tongue between her lips. Try as she might she couldn't help but respond, and she felt a warmth begin in her belly as her mind swirled. Almost against her will, her tongue danced with his and her lips answered his demanding ones. In her mind she was struggling to maintain control but she was quickly losing the fight.
Her head spun and without thinking she pressed herself against him and as he relaxed his grip on her arms, she wound them around his neck. The ribbon soon fell from his hair to his feet where a soft breeze blew it to the terrace below. His kisses grew even more insistent and his arms wrapped around her, holding her tightly. He felt her surrender and moved his mouth to her neck. He pressed his hot lips to her flesh and she flung her head back giving him full access. He trailed wet kisses down to her heaving breasts, where he nibbled the tender flesh.
Her fingers wound through his hair, holding his head to her. As his lips continued to tease along the low neckline of her gown she moaned softly, "Oh Drake, more, please more."
Knowing what she wanted, he tugged gently on her bodice and was rewarded with a dark pink nipple. Flicking it with his tongue, he continued to tease her. He nibbled the hardened nub before slowly sucking it into his mouth as soft cries slipped from her throat and her hips surged against his, pure desire driving her. A soft groan escaped her lips. He raised his head and licking her ear he whispered "What do you want?"
"You, only you, Drake. Nobody but you," she replied breathlessly.
He chuckled softly and replied, "Finally, you admit it."
His words shocked her back to reality and with fury quickly replacing desire she pushed him away so forcefully he stumbled. His loose hair fell into his eyes and he again chuckled as he pushed it back. He gazed at her, her face flushed, lips slightly swollen and red from his kisses, a precocious nipple peeking at him from above her neckline, but it was her eyes that entranced him, brilliant emeralds burning with a mixture of fury and passion.
"Stay away from me," she hissed at him.
"What, didn't you enjoy my kiss? You were responding quite ardently, my darling."
"Don't call me that," she said, smoothing her hair back.
"Am I not allowed to call you by any endearment?"
"No, just leave me alone!"
"Is that really what you want? Oh wait, I just asked you what you wanted, didn't I? And what was it you said?" He tapped his lower lip as if trying to remember. "Oh yes, you said you wanted me," he said with another chuckle. "That is what you said, isn't it?" he asked her, his eyes dancing with amusement.
She stared at him with a venomous glare. With a cry of pure frustration, she tore off his elegant coat and flung it at him. She was about to fling open the doors to go back when his voice stopped her. "You may want to adjust your neckline before going back in...my dearest," he said, a smug smile curling his lips.
Shock and dismay colored her face as she gazed down at the errant nipple still standing erect in the cool night air. She angrily tugged her gown back into place before she turned on her heel and stormed back inside. He couldn't help but laugh as she closed the door behind her. As he shrugged back into his coat, he peered over the edge of the balcony. The door was just closing behind Thomas as he went back inside. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something moving on the ground. He looked closely and realized it was the ribbon from his hair. He couldn't think of how to retrieve it without walking through the ball room with his hair about his shoulders. A sudden thought struck him and plucking a candle from one of the candelabras lighting the balcony, he slipped through the doors back onto the mezzanine.
Instead of going downstairs, he crept down the hall, stopping outside Virginia's bedroom door. He pressed the catch to open the door to the hidden staircase and holding the candle high, he made his way up. He walked into her sewing room and quickly located a spool of velvet ribbon. One that he noticed she had used in her dress tonight. Setting down the candle, he cut off a length and pulled his hair back. He retrieved the candle, made his way back downstairs and rejoined the party.
As he entered the room he saw Thomas talking with his sister. They were having quite an animated discussion and he wondered if he was telling her about what he had just overheard. He would assume that Doris would be shocked to the core at what had been said but instead she had a most serious frown on her face. He wondered what they could be talking about. Virginia was chatting with Elizabeth and as he walked towards them he realized that Thomas must have been able to determine that it was he she was having the conversation with. She had said his name several times, and even though it had been in breathless whispers, it may have carried down to him below.
He approached her and placed a hand possessively on her waist. She started at his touch and seeing that it was him, glared and stepped away. He pulled her back and pointed up, "It would appear to me that we're standing under the mistletoe, my dear," he said softly holding onto her arm.
As he turned his head to look up, she saw the green velvet ribbon in his hair and stared at it. Surely he hadn't been wearing that same ribbon earlier. "Where did you get that ribbon in your hair?" she asked him quietly.
In a low voice he replied, "Well my darling, during our "conversation" just now, you caused the ribbon I was wearing previously to come undone and fall to the lower terrace. I couldn't figure out a way to retrieve it without walking through here with my hair about my shoulders so I slipped up to your sewing room and snipped off a bit of yours." Seeing the anger in her eyes he said "You don't mind do you?"
"You could have just come downstairs and gone through the kitchen. It does have a back door."
"Does it? I didn't know that. Besides, I like this ribbon better."
He was still holding onto her arm and she tried to pull out of his grip. "Not so quickly, my sweetness." He looked up at the mistletoe. "I get to kiss you."
"Haven't you kissed me enough tonight?" she whispered angrily. "And stop with the pet names!"
"I could never kiss you enough," he replied smoothly as he placed a quick kiss on her lips. He released her and giving Elizabeth a quick bow he walked away.
Virginia was livid and glared at his retreating back. "He is the most infuriating man ever!' she declared.
"I think he rather likes you," Elizabeth replied with a knowing smile.
"Yes, and that's exactly the problem," she said watching him walk away.
Thomas approached her. "My dear, I was beginning to wonder what had happened to you!"
"I was just on the upper balcony, getting some air. I was getting rather warm from all the dancing."
"Are you up to some more?" he asked, guiding her towards the dance floor.
"Yes, I believe so," she smiled.
Drake was also back on the dance floor, the pretty blond once again in his arms, however, his attention was directed towards Virginia and Thomas. He was amazed that Thomas wasn't reacting to what he had heard. If it had been him on the lower terrace listening to that conversation he would have been furious. Yet, he was calm and smiling as he twirled Virginia about the dance floor. Perhaps since they weren't yet engaged, he didn't feel he had any right to be upset by her past indiscretions. Still, she had all but admitted lying to him about how she got to America from England. He would have cause to be angry at her for that, although he could hardly blame her for making up a story.
It was two o'clock in the morning and the ball was finally winding down. The last guests were leaving and Virginia was exhausted but also exhilarated. Her first ball and it had been a smashing success. She had received no end of compliments on her home, her lavish decorations and the sumptuous buffet.
Drake was back leaning against the wall and could see Doris and Thomas saying goodnight to Virginia in the foyer. He watched her exchange a few words with Doris and briefly embrace her. Jealousy then flooded his veins as he watched Thomas slide his arm around her waist and briefly kiss her before departing. He filled his brandy glass again and swallowed the contents in one gulp.
She wandered back into the room with a contented smile hovering on her lips. The orchestra was still playing and Billy and Elizabeth were the only ones on the floor. They seemed oblivious that the party was over. She watched them happily as they stared deeply into each others eyes.
Suddenly a pair of arms were around her and she was swept onto the dance floor. She looked up into Drake's smiling face. "I insist on at least one dance with the hostess," he said.
He was holding her at a respectable distance and she said, "As long as you keep some space between us, I guess it's alright." But as she stared into his warm, inviting eyes the gap between them closed and they were suddenly a mere breath away from kissing. Catching herself, she closed her eyes and turned her head. She pulled out of his arms and almost ran across the dance floor. Before he could catch up with her she had left the ballroom and was heading up the stairs for her room.
Walking along the mezzanine, she was thinking how nice it was going to be to get out of her gown when a thought struck her and she suddenly stopped. She hesitated and then looked down to Drake, who was watching her from the foyer.
"What is it, my dear?" he asked as she just stood looking at him. It was clear she wanted to ask him a question, but something was holding her back.
"How much have you had to drink tonight?" Her question caught him off guard. It certainly was not what he was expecting.
"Too much," he replied with a laugh. She still stared down at him, uncertainty furrowing her brow. "Surely that isn't all you wanted to ask me."
"No," she said slowly. "It's just that...well..." She debated whether to even tell him. "I'm wearing a very restrictive corset tonight and as I'm not used to wearing one and the laces are so tight, I know I won't be able to reach them properly." She again hesitated. "I need some assistance. And who knows how long Elizabeth is going to be wandering around in there?" she said indicating the ballroom.
Drake was already halfway up the stairs. "Why didn't you say so? I would be most delighted to assist you with disrobing, Miss Templeton," he said as he approached her.
"I do not require assistance disrobing, only with loosening my corset," she said icily.
"Yes, of course," he said quietly, passing by her and moving down the hallway towards her bedroom. He was walking backwards, keeping his eyes on hers. She eyed him warily, not sure if she could trust him.
"Well, are you coming?" he asked, stopping outside her door.
She took a few steps towards him but then turned to go back downstairs. "Maybe I will just wait for Elizabeth." She was past the end of the mezzanine, when she heard voices from downstairs. It was Billy and Elizabeth.