By the Bay Ch. 14byKillerRomance©
She awoke naked, wearing only a sleepy smile. She already knew who was touching her, kissing her, nibbling on her skin. Content, she purred in his arms as he slid his hands over her breasts once, twice, just to tease. Her fingers curled in his hair, encouraging him to do more.
"Jay," she murmured, fusing her lips with his. His reply was lost in her mouth.
He straddled her, holding himself above her with one hand and cupping her cheek with the other. Her sapphire eyes stared into his own, laced with both sleep and desire. He pulled back a little to nibble his way down to her neck. As he bit the smooth expanse of her shoulder, she moaned and clutched his arms.
"I missed you," she said on a gasp as he gently licked the spot that he had marked with his teeth. "I missed you so-."
Her back arched in pleasure as he entered her without preamble. His breathing immediately turned choppy, as did hers. She clutched at him urgently now, wanting, needing him to move within her. It felt so natural that her body should be fused with his, giving them both unspeakable pleasure.
She tried to move with him, tried to coax him into a state of hot, frenzied need, but he held her down.
"Don't move," he whispered, and the sound of his voice shot straight to her core. She moaned his name again, but he kissed her to silence her, holding her hips down with his hands.
Then, slowly, with their lips still mated, he began a languorous, delicious rhythm that had her aching to move with him. She was trembling with need, aroused to fever pitch and he was merely teasing her with his slow, delectably tedious thrusts.
She reached for him, thinking only to urge him to move faster, but he held her down with his body, murmuring, "Don't move."
She was being burned alive by the heat inside her. With each slow thrust, the inferno in her seemed to burn brighter. She wanted to cry from the intensity of the pleasure, wanted to grab onto him for an anchor, but his body effectively pinned her to the bed.
Jay could see that the pleasure was getting too intense for her. She was trembling, her flesh clutching at his as he withdrew. Her hands were fisted at her sides; he knew she wanted to hold onto him but her pleasure would be more intense if she didn't.
As a keening cry left her lips, he bit her neck roughly and slammed into her. Once, twice, three times. She came off the bed and clutched at him as release spiraled through her like a searing bolt of lightning. He could almost taste her orgasm as it milked him, her sheath convulsing violently, making him spend himself within her with a satisfied groan.
She was completely out for the count after that. She didn't even murmur in her sleep as she usually did when he pulled her up against him and tucked the covers around them. He prided himself that he'd exhausted her so thoroughly. Placing a kiss on her cheek, he let himself drift off to sleep.
He was dressed when she awoke that morning. It was barely dawn, and she was surprised that he was awake. He was usually one to sleep in until noon on some days.
As she watched him go about his morning toilette with half-lidded eyes, she realized that she was quickly getting used to life with him. The thought made her smile.
"Good morning," she said, her voice still husky with sleep.
He turned from the mirror, having finished the battle with his curls. His hair now hung loose around his neck, the glossy curls reflecting the dawn sunlight.
"Good morning," he returned, coming over to the edge of the bed and kneeling beside it.
She reached out to twine a curl around her finger. "Where are you going? I thought you were going to show me around Bridgewood."
His expression was pained. "I know, sweetheart. But I have some business to tend to in the city. I have a meeting and then I need to go through the accounts for the past months..."
She placed a finger over his lips to stop him. "I understand. You don't have to explain."
He kissed the finger on his lips. "I don't want to be working. I want to spend time with you."
She smiled. "We all have obligations. Don't worry, I'll be waiting for you."
He leaned in to press a chaste kiss on her lips. "I'll be back for dinner... hopefully."
As she watched him gather his belongings, which included a briefcase that looked utterly out of place in his hands, she felt an overwhelming urge to make him stay. She missed him. She didn't want him to leave today. Over the past few months, she'd gotten used to having him to herself.
Suppressing her wants, she kissed him goodbye instead.
* If Anita knew that her sister had snuck back into the house at the break of dawn, she would have been furious. But Meera had taken every precaution necessary to ensure that her sister did not find out about her little escapade. Upon reflection, she realized that she'd behaved like a petty young child. Her sister had only been trying to protect her, albeit a little too much, but that didn't call for the mean things Meera had said to her.
Sighing, she placed her satchel on the bed and stripped out of her skirt and blouse. Clad in her underwear, she crawled beneath the quilts to fight off the early morning chill.
She felt awful, especially riding out as she had with Charlie. She'd disobeyed her sister's commands entirely. Though Anita didn't know it, it still made Meera feel horrible inside.
Well, at least the trip had not been a complete waste of her time. She'd given Charlie the address of the publishing house Mrs. Druberry had recommended and Charlie had brought them to a halt in front of it about two and a half hours later. By then, the sun had been setting and the office doors were shut tight.
Charlie had promised to take her back there sometime the next day. They had spent the rest of the night exploring London by moonlight, though they did keep mostly to the well-lit streets where other carriages and automobiles drove past them. It was safer that way; the crime rate in the city had increased tremendously after the war, Charlie had told her, and one had to be careful in the city, especially at night.
She smiled, thinking about Charlie. Her new friend had such an easygoing, amusing character. She really admired that about her. Charlie had been through a lot of trials in life, yet she remained surprisingly upbeat. Her optimism, at times, was infectious.
Meera closed her eyes, feeling the sun's warm rays caressing her cheeks. It was another day already, her second in England. She wanted to see all of it, drink in the atmosphere and experience the country in full measure. Anita had told her that Jay would like to bring them around to view the scenery but Jay hadn't been around yesterday. Well, she was tired of waiting. With or without Jay's guidance, she was going to explore the place later today. With that comforting thought in her mind, she huddled between the quilts and fell fast asleep.
"This one is gorgeous, Rae. Who is it?" Pierre, her friend and confidant, asked. "Is she the-."
"Yes. That's her," Rae replied before he could get the question out. She looked around the showroom, admiring the glorious lighting the curator had put in place to show off her eight paintings. It had only been three days since she arrived in Paris, yet Madame Rouge, the curator, had already made the showroom ready for the gallery showing that weekend.
"She's absolutely breathtaking. It's no wonder that you're besotted by her."
Rae turned away from the oil painting of Meera, finding it too painful even to look at what she'd left behind.
"I'm not besotted, Pierre. Let's put this topic behind us."
Pierre tugged on the lapels of his sleek but bold purple suit. "I don't think so, Rae. I haven't seen you act like this since you fell in love with young Catholic Angela Marie when you were fourteen."
Rae's eyes were narrow as she turned to glare at her friend. "Shut up, Pierre. I can still grind your face into the dirt like I used to do when we were fourteen."
He grimaced at the memory, knowing without a doubt that she could carry out the threat. Even as an adult, his build was smaller and leaner than hers, something he had tried to make his peace with over the years. Although his men liked the fact that he was slender, it was hard to make a statement with such a small build. Sometimes it felt like people didn't respect him enough because they judged him based on his size.
Rae walked over to stand by the windows and he observed her with an artist's eye. She was definitely upset and depressed over this woman and needed some solace. He went forward to stand next to Rae, staring through the stained glass windows. They were on the second floor of the gallery, watching as the sun set in the distance. He linked arms companionably with her.
"Did you ever think we'd be here, Rae? Having our own showing?"
Rae's lips tilted up at a corner. "I knew I'd be here one day, but I wasn't too sure about you."
Pierre sniffed aristocratically. "I refuse to be insulted by that remark. But I really have to thank you for coming down on such short notice."
Rae shrugged. "That's all right. Though I hate to admit it, some of your sculptures are pretty good. It's an honor to be a part of your collection."
"Oh, don't you be so formal with me. You know I love all your work. To be showing it with mine..."
Rae smiled. "Hush. Now you're going to make us both uncomfortable."
They stood in companionable silence, watching as the sun's rays were lost and the moon rose in the dark sky.
"The girl -- she's special to you, isn't she?"
"You need to know when to stop talking, Pierre."
"Rae, I'm serious. You look horrible -- "
"And miserable. Something had to have happened. If you need to talk, I'm right here."
A few more minutes passed in silence. One look at Rae and Pierre knew that she wasn't even in the room with him anymore. Her eyes were clouded, as though she were reliving a memory. He sighed, disengaging himself from her.
"I'm going to go downstairs and see if Antoine is here to give me a lift home."
As he stepped on the first spiral step, he heard Rae call out to him.
He turned, eyebrows raised.
"Her name is Meera," she said, still staring out the window. "And I think I love her."
"No." The single word held a deadly finality. Jay stared at the man before him, anger seething in his blood. He was seated in his Roger's library after being summoned yet again by the man for an 'urgent meeting'. "This is ludicrous."
Roger took a long drag from his cigar. "I'm afraid it isn't, my boy. Your father told me -."
"Well, he never once told me. I refuse to accept this. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have much to finish today." Jay tried to rise, but Roger's voice stopped him cold.
"The marriage contracts are right here. You may take a look if you desire proof. You'll find identical copies in your father's study in Shackleton manor."
A leather folder was handed to him. Utterly confused by Roger's words, Jay slipped the sheets of paper out and read each and every word, looking for a clue that might state that this was all a hoax, a jest played on him by his late father's friend. But as he saw the confident scrawl of his father's signature at the bottom of the contract, his throat tightened.
"This isn't possible."
"But it is, boy! We signed this agreement when you were away at school. Edward said he had written to you regarding the matter."
Jay frowned, looking over the papers repeatedly. Just one clue. He needed just one clue.
"No, he hadn't. I can't -- I simply cannot go through with this."
"What do you mean, boy?" Roger's tone was gruff.
"It's too sudden. It seems impossible to me. I cannot marry your daughter, sir, though with all due respect, I'm sure she's lovely and will make a wonderful bride. Put yourself in my position, sir, and imagine if you're told, after 28 years, that you have a fiancé whom you've never known!"
Jay stood and began to pace the length of the library. "What if I had already been married by now? What would you have done then?"
Roger took another puff of his cigar. "Thank god you aren't! We've been waiting for my Elena to turn 18 so you can wed her. When you didn't come for her on her 18th birthday, I became worried. I thought you had forgotten the contract!"
Jay raised a hand to his hair, pushing the curly locks away. "I didn't know the contract existed, Sir Roger. You cannot expect me to honor this contract in this situation."
Roger stood and picked up the marriage contract again. He put the papers carefully into the leather folder.
"Is that not your father's signature on the contract?"
Jay kept silent.
"Are you going to honor your father's word?"
Jay needed some time to think. It was just too much information, too soon.
"I need a few days to think about this."
Roger gave him a curt nod. "Very well. This time next week, we'll be discussing this matter again. I hope you'll return with good news."
Jay picked up his coat and walked to the door. At the door, he turned. "Does Elena know that we have been engaged for the past 14 years?"
Roger scoffed. "Of course she does, my boy. Who else do you think she's been waiting for?"
Jay's lips thinned at the response. His head swam with all the information that had been revealed in the past few minutes. Even so, he refused to accept it. It was impossible that his father had neglected to tell him of something so important. It was Father who had taught Jay to appreciate life and respect differences. He had been such an unconventional man. It did not make any sense that he would sign something so conventional as a marriage contract.
As he slid behind the wheel of his automobile, his head began to throb. There was something very wrong with this whole marriage business. He needed to find out what it was, and fast.
He found his father's copy of the marriage contract stashed in one of the desk drawers in the library. It was a replica of the one he read at Roger's residence. There was nothing amiss in the contract; all the details were properly listed, including the fact that they were to be married after Elena's 18th birthday. Edward's damning signature was on the signature line, right next to Roger's signature and the one of the lawyer who had been present.
Jay let out a frustrated groan. How could it be that just this morning, he had been anticipating spending the next few months with Anita, traveling around the world? And now, he had so quickly acquired a fiancé whom he had to marry as quickly as possible! It was too much.
He poured himself a shot of whisky from the decanter his father always kept in the library. When that did not work, he poured himself another. Only then did he feel the stress slowly draining away.
He needed to think. Was there anything Roger could gain from the wedding? Did he have a motive to set up this marriage? Was it just a farce with his father's signature? It was just too unbelievable to Jay that his father would arrange something so life-altering and not inform him about it.
Jay groaned, taking a swig of whisky directly from the bottle. With the fire of alcohol blazing in his stomach, he grabbed the contracts and headed for the door. There was one person who could authenticate the contract -- the lawyer that had been present. He was going to find this man, no matter how long it took him, and wrangle the truth from him. He knew, deep in his bones, that something was awfully suspicious about the contracts, and he was going to find out what it was.
"He's left again, hasn't he?" Ruby asked as Anita stepped out of her room. Ruby had just dressed for breakfast and was stepping out of her own room herself.
Anita said good morning as she shut the door. "Yes, he left early this morning."
Ruby frowned. "Doesn't have enough sense to come and say hello to me."
Anita came forward to stand beside her. "He thinks the world of you, Ruby."
Ruby's features brightened dramatically. "He does?"
"Yes, you are like a mother to him."
"He needed love from someone. His own mother is a total bitch. The poor boy just needed a substitute, and I happened to be there for him." They descended the stairs for breakfast.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the lady was so upset that Edward was not faithful to her that she made her husband's life hell. Not only that, she took her frustrations out on Jay as well."
Anita nearly tripped on the last step. "What?"
Ruby reached out a hand to steady her. "Don't worry, dear. It only happened a few times before Edward found out and brought both Jay and his brother here to live with us."
"How old were they? What- what did she do to them?"
Seating herself gracefully on the chair, Ruby arranged her skirts around her. "Jay was about ten, his brother, nine. I'm not too sure what she did to them exactly; Edward never told me."
Anita stared at the china pattern thoughtfully. "Jay never told me all of this."
"It's part of his painful past, dear. I think he'd rather forget it."
As breakfast was served, Anita felt that she'd lost her appetite. Her heart went out to the little hurt boy that Jay had been. She'd always heard that if a child was abused at a young age, they never turned out to be respectable adults as it affected their mind. It seemed like a miracle that Jay had turned out to be the carefree, easy-going person that he was.
At Ruby's urging, Anita nibbled on a scone half-heartedly. She didn't know if she should speak to Jay about his past. Was it her place to do so? Would it be overstepping her boundary?
"Do you realize that our breakfast conversation always revolves around Jay?" Ruby asked, and Anita smiled.
"I suppose it's because he's the only person we both know."
"What about you, dear? Why don't you tell me a little about yourself?" Ruby sat back and sipped her tea.
"There's not much to say, really. We led a very simple life on the island. Perhaps you'd like to share something about your life?" The request was made in a shy voice as Anita had never thought she'd have a conversation like this with a British lady.
"Well, there's not much to say. I used to be a dancehall girl before Edward professed his undying love for me and bought this house for us. I knew he was already married at that time, but beggars really can't be choosers. He was a handsome man, and I grew to love him. We have a daughter, Catherine, who's away at school. She's due back home in a few months. Perhaps you'll get to meet her."
Anita bit her tongue, remembering that Jay had told her not to mention Catherine to her mother.
"Your daughter sounds lovely. I've seen a few pictures of her in the hall and a family painting of all three of you. It's really beautiful."
Ruby's eyes grew sad. "Yes, well, we seem like a real family, don't we? If only he didn't need to drive back to that woman every other day, it would have felt like a real family."
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Ruby. I didn't mean to upset you."
"No, that's all right. I just miss him sometimes."
"How did he -?"
Ruby sniffed, dabbing at the corner of her eyes with a napkin. "We don't know. It was a disease that the doctors couldn't ascertain." She cleared her throat. "It was many years ago and I need to move on."
Anita reached out to pat her hand. "There is no use dwelling in the past."
"That is true. Let's talk about something else now, please. This conversation is getting too dark for breakfast." She exhaled gustily and smiled. "Perhaps I could tell you about the time Jay ran away from his boarding school?"
Anita's eyes lit up. "Did he really?"
As the breakfast extended into an hour, Anita had learned about all the little naughty things Jay had done as a kid. He had been a mischievous and spontaneous little boy, not unlike his present self.