tagRomanceAt Any Cost Ch. 02

At Any Cost Ch. 02

byAMY_Monaco©

Author's Note: It's wonderful to hear that this story was so well received. I'm having fun creating these characters and I hope you enjoy reading them!

***

On the eve of his engagement, Derek Trentham got very drunk. It was the advantage of being an 'idle gentleman', as it were. He could let his guard down for a little while and drink himself into a stupor and no one would question him. Or steal from his pockets.

Upon reaching the comfortable detachment only a decanter of brandy could bring, he sat slumped in a winged-back chair, staring into the fire. The burly figure of his butler came into view and he watched dazedly as Sykes took the seat across from him.

"Fine miss ye got there, milord." Sykes said casually.

Fine miss, indeed. Derek almost laughed at his predicament. Here he was, a former crime lord, about to settle down with a well-to do debutante who'd thought to escape a betrothal by losing her virginity in a brothel. A brothel!

He let out a dry chuckle, and then it faded as he remembered the softness of her body beneath his...

"Send her back home, Sykes."

Sykes arched a sandy brow, settling his great weight more comfortably in the chair. "Yer bleedin' mad."

"Am I?" Derek heard himself ask. He rubbed his chin absently. "Know how I proposed to her, Sykes? I announced I would marry her after I tupped her good at Francesca's brothel."

Sykes made no sound.

"She was there in hopes of ruining herself to escape a marriage to Lord Garner."

"An ugly bastard, he is." Sykes comment was almost comical, as it was coming from a man who's face was covered in scars.

"Her cousin was forcing her to wed him." After a moment of silence, Derek dismissed the thought of Vivian's relation and said, "Just send her back home."

"She's not stayin' the night?"

"She's not staying ever. I've decided I can't marry her."

Sykes grunted a response, stood up from his chair and came over to knock a good one on his master's head.

"What the devil are you doing?" Derek demanded, rubbing the side of his head gingerly.

"Cannot let you make a mistake, milord." Sykes said with all the politeness of a real butler. "Got me a feelin' she'll do you a world of good and you ain't lettin' her go."

Derek's eyes narrowed. "You forget yourself, Sykes." His anger was rising, battling with several other emotions. In the underworld, he'd been known to have a quick temper. "You are under my employ and you follow my orders."

Now it was Sykes turn to glare down at him, making him look more dangerous. "And you forget, milord, I been lookin' after yer hide since you landed in prison."

He was right...Derek would never have survived on the streets without Sykes. Born to privilege and title, Derek had fallen into crime because it held an appeal of danger he craved. But he'd been unprepared for prison and it was there the two met. Sykes was a few years older, had taught Derek the ins of who to avoid, who to talk up. They managed to escape and with Sykes as his right hand, Derek had made a name for himself as a smuggler, a leader of thieves.

"I'll be gettin' you a special license tomorrow." Sykes said, when Derek had no other comments of taking Vivian home.

Wearily, Derek said, "And see to hiring some women."

Sykes looked at him, surprised. "Wenches? I thought with the miss upstairs, you be wantin' to – "

Derek smirked, understanding his butler's meaning. "Maids, Sykes. I need a housekeeper and some maids. Can't have footmen serving my wife all the time."

His butler left.

Derek thought about his very delectable wife-to-be upstairs. His body and mind were tired, yet images of Vivian bathing her supple, silky body had him stirring to life. By the time he reached the door to his bedchamber, he was as hard as a rock and his breathing was not so steady.

He didn't bother to knock, heard a soft gasp to his left. Vivian was wearing one of his shirts, clasping the still unbuttoned front together to hide her naked flesh. Blood roared in his ears at the sight of her wearing his clothes. The shirt was so large on her that the hem skimmed her mid-thigh and the sleeves she had rolled up to her elbows.

"I didn't have anything else to wear." She said defensively, mistaking his gaze. He closed the door firmly behind him and went to stand before her. He let his eyes roam over her lazily, the drink doing a bit more to enhance his senses to her scent and the heat of her body.

"I'd prefer you to wear nothing." He said in a low voice, his hands going to cover her. He forced her hands apart, pulling open the shirt. His nostrils flared at the sight of more creamy flesh. Her breasts, perky and full beckoned him to taste, the smoothness of her stomach down to the soft triangle of hair tempted him to touch and take.

He lowered his head to her neck, grazed his lips over her pulse. He felt her shiver as she tried standing perfectly still. He pushed the shirt off her shoulders.

He started to scrape his teeth lightly up her neck to her ear, breathing over her ear until she was panting. "I'll kill any man who even thinks of being our lover..."

Vivian swallowed. "What?" He moved his head to nibble at her other ear.

"I don't like sharing. So if you think to take a lover while we are married...think again."

While moving his mouth slowly over her shoulder, licking a trail over her collarbone, he shed his shirt, and welcomed the feel of Vivian's hands on him. For a moment, he closed his eyes, reveled in the fact that she touched him of her own accord, not because she was forced to or because he had paid her to do it. His hands worked on the buttons of his breeches and kicked them off.

With his hands on her hips, he slowly walked her to the bed.

"Y-You're drunk, Derek."

"A bit." How she found out his Christian name, he didn't know, but he liked the sound of it. "Rule number two: I won't have a prudish wife."

They tumbled into bed, his hard body landing on top of hers. Swiftly parting her legs, he rubbed the head of his erect cock at her entrance. She was already wet for him and he moved teasingly against her, running the swollen tip over her slit until she was squirming.

"I'm going to teach you every possible way to make love." He vowed, his eyes half closed as he continued to move. She whimpered helplessly, the sound urging him to bury himself deep inside her.

"I may be making you my wife," he lowered his head to nibble at the corner of her mouth, heard the intake of her breath. "But you will be acting like a mistress in bed."

He plunged his long, thick cock inside her, muffling her cry of pleasure with a deep kiss. He was relentless. Perhaps it was the brandy or the way she moved with him, but Derek couldn't seem to find control where Vivian was concerned. Never mind that she may still be sore from their first coupling, his mind could only register the fact that she was his, she was here with him and seemed to accept him willingly.

Vivian couldn't comprehend why she wanted Derek Trentham so much. But each time he moved, each time he filled her, everything felt right. Like the first time, she felt the warmth coil from deep within and she cried out, wanting release. She wrapped her legs around him, pulling him in deeper.

They came at the same time, ending with Derek rolling onto his back as his release shuddered through his body. He brought Vivian with him, felt her going lax above him, her hair fanning over his body.

A deep calm settled over him as his breathing went back to normal. Brandy, combined with a good bout of sex with a beautiful woman had been enough to make him forget. Grateful that he got what he originally wanted that night, Derek settled an arm over his fiancée and closed his eyes to sleep.

***

It was a strange feeling to wake in a bed not your own. For Vivian, it was even more startling when, upon waking, there was a knock on the door and Ham walked in. He was the other footman, a balding, lanky man with a quick smile.

"Pardon me, miss. Sykes sent me up to ready you for the wedding."

Scrambling to cover herself, she backed up against the headboard of the bed, glancing around. "Where's Derek?"

"He's gone to get the holy man to perform the wedding. I'm supposed to make sure you dress right proper for it."

Was he indeed?

Ham set down a gown for her on the bed.

"Where did that come from?" She asked, fearing the answer. He was, after all an ex-criminal.

"Lord Trentham had your trousseau brought here."

Puzzled, she stared down at the gown of pale cream silk. "But how? My cousin wouldn't allow such a thing. He's wanted me to wed Lord Garner."

Ham shrugged a bony shoulder. "Not many can refuse Lord Trentham." Then, as if suddenly noticing her state of undress, he flushed to the neck and bobbed his head shyly.

"Well, if you don't need anything else, I'll be outside the door. You'll be going to the drawing room. That's where you'll be marrying."

***

By the time she descended the stairs, Vivian had decided that this probably wasn't a good idea. She was no longer a virgin now, and surely Lord Garner wouldn't want her now. It really wasn't necessary to marry Derek Trentham. Perhaps he felt obligated to because he took her to bed. She should go into the drawing room and just explain to both him and the priest that there was no need for a wedding.

Sykes stood at the landing in his livery, the coat buttoned a little too tight over his belly. In daylight, he looked even more unsightly.

"Lordship's waitin' in the drawing room, miss." Sykes said without so much as a greeting or asking if she slept all right.

"Is he?" She asked nervously. Was Derek really serious about going through with this? Well, she would just have to explain to him that this was a mistake.

"He's been pacin' all mornin', waitin' on you." Then he thrust forward a bouquet of hothouse flowers. "And he sent fer these. Ain't right fer a bride to walk without some pretties."

She took the flowers, a smile tugging at her lips at such a thoughtful gift.

"Come now, miss. Drawin' room's this way."

Sykes noticed her hesitate and wondered what was going on with these two. Last night, he had seen the way Derek had looked at her, the way his expression softened when he spoke of her.

And surely the girl desired Derek...Sykes had heard her cries of pleasure as he passed their room. But then there were many who looked their noses down on their lot. Derek Trentham may have been born to riches, but he certainly wasn't the crème de le crème of society now...his reputation was just acceptable and only because of who his father was.

The girl didn't know the person Derek was – she didn't know about his unswerving loyalty. Vivian must have hesitated a second too long, for down the hall, the drawing room door opened and soon Derek came forward, a frown on his head.

"Vivian, the man's waiting. We should go in." He said.

He looked impatient and slightly annoyed, with himself or with her she didn't know.

"We need to talk, Derek." She said, taking a deep breath.

"We can talk once we're married."

"Yes, about that..." She grasped the flowers tightly. "I don't think we should get married."

"Yer both bloody fools." Sykes grumbled, walking away.

Derek's eyes darkened. "We had an agreement." She could see his jaw tighten, saw the subtle flew of muscle there. His expression was guarded. Why was he angry? She was giving him a chance at staying a bachelor. Wasn't that what most men wanted?

"Should I remind you what would happen if you don't marry me?" He asked slowly. "Word will spread that you've spent the night in my residence. Garner may still want you, only this time his proposal may be of the unsavory sort and whether you like it or not, your cousin is still your guardian until you turn one and twenty."

"How could you possibly know this?"

"I've had my man check into it."

"I still have some money left to me by my mother. I'm not completely destitute."

"A very small amount that won't last you a fortnight. You're too trusting to survive out there. Take my word on that, Vivian."

That last sentence was said with such conviction that she paused, considering the truth of the matter.

For the second time, she agreed to marry him, only this time; she could only whisper the vows as their union was sealed. In the end, Derek tugged her close for a long, searing kiss, uncaring of the witnesses they had, the man who performed the wedding, Sykes and Ham.

Then suddenly there was a loud crashing noise coming from the outside. The doors to the drawing room burst open and Wendell appeared, held up by the collar of his shirt by the giant footman, Pete.

"Intruder, milord. Insisted on plowing in here. Says he's a relation."

"Unfortunately." Derek muttered.

"This cannot be legal." Wendell announced. "This man has forced my cousin to wed him."

"Is this true, my lady?" The elder man asked, surprised. "I was under the impression that you desired the union."

"I did." She assured him.

Derek went over to Wendell, his expression hard. "You have an annoying habit of interrupting me with my wife."

Wendell had the grace to flush at the memory. "I am concerned about Vivian's welfare."

"I give you leave to end your concern. She's my wife now and I take care of my own." Derek said, and then looked over at Pete. "Take him out of here. I don't want him near my wife again."

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