Peking 1900 Ch. 04byjerseyblue©
Jack stood looking out the window of the study. It was too early to be drinking but he took a quick shot of Scotch anyway. He had just punched his best friend in the face and his friend had stormed out. All he wanted to do was talk to Michael and find out what was the matter between him and wife, Caroline. Instead he had made it worse. So much for becoming a diplomat!
The most important thing was to explain this to Caroline and then try and fix it.
"That didn't go so well, did it?" Jack was startled by Caroline's voice as he didn't hear her enter the room. "I heard everything through the door."
"I'm sorry I made a mess of things," Jack trying to apologize.
"I don't think you made things worse. I'm sorry that you had to do what you did," she replied. "Did you really hit him?"
"Yes, I did. I lost my temper and I shouldn't have. But he said some things he never should have said. I think it for the best I leave right now."
"And who am I going to have help me tonight? You are not going anywhere." Caroline moved to stand next to him. She put her arm through his. "You heard Michael. He said you could stay here as long as you want and use whatever you need." With that she rested her head on his shoulder.
Jack had very little to do and felt he was in the way most of the time. He was impressed with the way Caroline managed the staff, double-checking everything but in such a way that she didn't seem overbearing. The staff though small was very efficient and on the surface had everything under control. They made it seem as if having a formal dinner for 24 people was an every day occurrence.
He was also curious as to why the dinner was being held in the first place. He went to Caroline with that question.
"Michael is rather new to the position of MP and if he is ever to stand for office again, he is going to have to build a base," she explained. "This dinner was Michael's idea and it was planned months ago. The guests are mostly the local gentry but there will be a few titles among them. It was going to be his chance to meet a few of them."
"But he won't be here. How is that going to help?"
"I don't know," she answered. Then she smiled. "To cancel at the last moment would be very bad. It is up to us to make it help." With that she was off to check on some other detail.
"Michael must be out of mind," Jack thought. "Doesn't need her! Good God, she is the best thing he's got. And even after this morning's scene, she is still trying to help."
As time came for dinner, Jack dressed in his formal eveningwear and waited for Caroline in the study. He had attended State dinners on three continents but for some reason he felt very nervous. He shouldn't, as he believed what happened tonight really didn't affect him but he wanted it to go well. Hearing the door open, he turned. It was Caroline.
She was dressed in a black formal gown that sparkled like diamonds from the sequins. The dress truly enhanced her figure. Her auburn hair was piled high upon her head with a few loose curls to accent her face. Around her neck she wore a string of beads that reached her breasts, which were modestly exposed. Jack had seen Caroline many times dressed for such occasions but she never looked this gorgeous.
"Aren't you going to say anything," she laughed.
She moved effortlessly to him. She reached up and straightened his tie. As he looked into her face, he could smell her perfume. "Jack, be a dear and check my back. I believe a hook has come undone."
She turned and Jack could see her smooth, flawless skin of her back. He found the hook but it took him a few tries to rehook it. His hands trembled as he tried to avoid running them on her. "There."
Turning back around, Caroline kissed his cheek. Offering him her arm she said, "Jack, let's go meet our guest."
The dinner was a complete success. Caroline was the perfect hostess. She made sure that she talked to everyone at least once and by name. She pointed out to Jack just who was important and Jack did his part. When it became know he served in China with Michael, many wanted to hear all about it. As he told his tale, he made sure to stress Michael's part in it all and down played his own. After all, it was Michael who needed the votes.
He held his own after dinner as the ladies left the room and the men had their cigars and brandy. The Morocco affair held the main stage but surprisingly to Jack, what was important to these people was the local affairs. On these Jack mainly listened but on issues, like women suffrage, he was asked to give an American's point of view.
After about an hour, the doors were opened and the women returned. For the remainder of the evening, Caroline stayed close to Jack and the two of them mingled with the guests. All the guests left by midnight and each one as they left declared the evening as success.
When the door finally closed, the two looked at each other and laughed. "We did it," they said together. Instinctly they embraced and then kissed. All the stress and tension of the day seemed to melt away as they did. As they broke the kiss, they looked at each other and stepped back.
Caroline spoke first. "It is late and I must be up early tomorrow. Good night, Jack."
"Yes, it is," Jack replied looking at his watch. "I will be up shortly. I would like to speak to staff about tonight."
"By all means. Good night." Caroline walked to the stairs with Jack watching her every step.
Jack went down stairs to the staff's room where they were busy cleaning up. Everyone was rushing around trying to finish their work so they could go to bed. They stopped as he entered.
"I'll make this quick," he began, "On behalf of Michael and Caroline, I would like to thank you for a job well done, all of you. Now I'll get out of your way. Good night."
As he left he heard one of the butlers tell a maid, "Nice chap, that Yank. After this morning, the Misses must be happy he's around."
"You just shut your mouth and keep your thoughts to yourself."
Jack retired to his room and prepared for bed. As he undressed, he thought about the day. From seemingly losing his best friend to hearing the staffs' comments, he knew it was time for him to leave. He was also troubled by his behavior with Caroline. The embrace yesterday in the garden, her behavior towards him today, her comment about using whatever I needed, and then the kiss. It was all unsettling. Turning down the gaslight, he climbed into bed.
He had no idea how long he had been asleep when he heard the door open and then gently close. He sat up and saw Caroline. "Caroline, what is the trouble?"
She stood in the faint glow of the light. Her hair was down around her shoulder and she was dressed in soft white night gown so sheer that the light behind her outlined her body. She moved towards the bed.
"I've come to thank you for all you have done," she said softly. "You were the man of house tonight and you deserve all that entails." With that, she allowed her gown to fall to the floor.
Jack gasped at her. From her perk breasts to her slender waist to her hips which accented the reddish patch between her thighs, Caroline was a true vision. He had no doubt of her intentions. He stepped from the bed and placed his hands on her shoulders. Her skin felt just like he imagined. "Caroline, I can't," he said looking into her face.
The mere touch of his hands sent tingles through her body. It had been such a long time since Michael had touched her that she craved more. "Why not? Don't you find me desirable?"
"Oh dear God, it is because I do that I dare not."
She put her arms around him and felt his back. Pulling herself to him, she placed her naked body against his bare chest. Jack slid his hands down. She felt so small in his arms, vulnerable. "Make love to me, my darling."
It would have been so easy to say yes. She was offering him her greatest gift. "No, Caroline. You don't love me nor I you, at least not in that way. It would be wrong for us." Jack then knelt down. He could smell her scent and for moment his will left him. He wanted to bury his face in her and inhale deeply of it. Instead he gathered her gown from around her feet, brought it up, and covered her body. To her surprise, he picked her up and placed her in his bed. He climbed in beside her.
Placing his arm under Caroline, Jack pulled her close. He kissed her forehead. "Now go to sleep. You're safe now."
Caroline snuggled in close and placed her head on Jack's shoulder. The simple feel of his body touching hers at first excited her but now it seemed to calm her. He was giving her something more than a physical act, something much deeper.
Jack slipped from the bed quietly so not to disturb Caroline. He quickly dressed and headed down stairs. He was surprised to see everyone up after the late night.
"Breakfast is in the library, sir," Wilson, the head butler, told Jack. "The newspaper is on the table."
"Thank you, Wilson." Jack headed that way. He grabbed some ham, sausages, and toast. Taking a sip of hot tea, Jack browsed the newspaper. Nothing was new concerning Morocco. He didn't expect anything, as it was the weekend. That didn't mean that behind the scene, diplomats and foreign ministers were burning the midnight oil. It just meant there were no new 'public' announcements. It was interesting to see that the public didn't know about the Navy.
He flipped to the society page. He wasn't really interested in it; just checking to make sure his name wasn't in it. He laughed. As he was about to set the paper down, a small announcement caught his eye.
"Lord and Lady Dufield of Wallingham Manor have announced that
their daughter, Katherine, Baroness von Schulenburg, has just arrived
from the continent. The length of her visit was not disclosed."
Jack leapt from his chair, knocking his plate to the floor, and spilling his tea.
Wilson came quickly in. "Is there anything wrong, sir?"
Jack grabbed Wilson by the shoulders. "Not a thing, Wilson. Not a bloody thing!"