tagNonConsent/ReluctanceDuplicity Ch. 01

Duplicity Ch. 01

bywws_wws©

Dear Reader:

I've decided to add a prologue to this tale that may add something to this story that will be uncovered later


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Prologue

"You're nothing!" the giant of a man growled into the face of the girl beneath him. "You tell anything of this and I'll have your beloved equerry flayed alive. Then I find you and I do this again and again! Understand?"

He, disgustingly bloated from a life of decadence, held the lithe, nubile young woman in place by her slender waist. Her sleeping gown was pulled up over her hips, giving him unfettered access to her womanhood. He grunted each time he pulled her hips back and forced his turgid cock into her tight pussy with each word he uttered. He laughed, his breath putrid a mouthful of near rotting teeth, hot in her face. Her cries of pain, anguish and humiliation went unheeded. He ignored her tears that flowed copiously down her cheeks. It didn't take him long before he grunted his release and flooded her with a spurt of fluids deep inside of her.

A miserable moan, full of anger, helplessness and disgust emitted from deep within her. Somehow she found the strength to roll away from under him. Somehow she was able to force her legs to move and carry her in a sprint from this monstrous beast who stole away all that was precious to her. Her little bare feet made light slapping sounds against the heavy stone. She took a tumble and her left knee came crashing down on the stone floor. For a moment she felt a strange sensation shoot through her, that quickly turned into a white-hot flash of pain. But she could not stop. She must keep moving even as she heard the rumbling guttural laughter behind her.

"You cannot run where I won't find you!" came the menacing voice behind her. "There's no one who can protect you. I have not finished with you yet!"

Chapter 1

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There were two types of beautiful women in young Philip Mallory's opinion: Those who understood the value and knew how to utilize her beauty, and those who did not.

"It's like this," he explained to his friends. "All beautiful women are vain. The truly exceptional ones understands that a cultivated mind and enduring curiosity enhances her beauty better than anything. She thinks about her looks, but she also thinks of how to enhance her experience in this world with her beauty. Those I consider the type who knows how to utilize her beauty. For she realizes those looks will wilt as surely as the pedals on a rose. When they do fall away, she had better be married to a deserving husband or she faces a lifetime of unhappiness. Those who don't know how to utilize her God given graces will live with its short term benefits, till she wakes up one day with the realization-- her time is finite! Then this second set of women will scramble to preserve her charms with useless lotions and potions sold to her by any of charlatans residing in our fair city today. But the unfortunately lady would only be speeding her aging as she would have wasted herself worrying about the impending doom. Isn't that so, John?"

Gathered around the card table where Philip sat and opined, were both card players and spectators, all men of wealth, privilege and pedigree. Yet all eyes were on a singular figure seated across from Philip. This man, with his thick black hair, heavy dark brows and pale face was extremely large and powerfully built. By his dress -- sharply tailored black evening attire, crisp white shirt, high collar and cravat, he was like all the others. What made the others watch his handsome face with interest and deference was his quiet authority and measured movements as though he was constantly weighing something of importance no one else could detect. Every time he drew breath, the air crackled with coiled energy. This man puffed lightly on a freshly lit cigar as he studied his hand of cards. Then he flicked his deep-set blue eyes up till the lip of his long lashes nearly touched his heavy hooded brows and met Philip's earnest look. Ribbons of smoke rose around his handsome, chiseled face. He turned his chin slightly and spat out a piece of bitter tobacco leaf.

"A woman's worth lies in how desirable she is to men," Lord John Mallory, Marquess of Devonport replied lazily. "That's all."

"Who bloody cares!" someone else cried out, exacerbated and full of impatience. "Make your wager and stop you're stalling, Philip."

Philip ignored the comment as he tapped his cards' edge lightly on the surface of the table. "I find women fascinating. Such angelic creatures so beautiful and delicate. They truly are like flowers. And just like flowers, their bloom lasts but a moment. Yet they have such a wonderful view of the world. I love to hear them speak--"

"A woman's mouth is best used for one purpose and it's not for speaking!"

Laughter erupted around the table, but Philip continued, unphased. " Women are such fascinating creatures like hothouse flowers most of the time. Exquisite in their loveliness and intoxicating in their allure. I'm often surprised by how they differ from us men--"

"Ha!" one of the older man at the table scoffed. "When have you the chance to closely inspect the fairer sex?"

"I just mean---"

"--If you had you'd know they're about as ruthless if not more so than the most brutal ruffian. Beneath those lovely exteriors those cunts all have teeth and claws that would wound deeper than any saber. Mark my word!"

"Those of your acquaintance, Milton," Philip replied. "I speak of the high-born lady, gentle, refine and sweet no matter how cruel the world may be to her. I think we men would never bear some of their burdens with half the grace. I would venture to say their sex is far superior sex to our own."

Lord Davenport's chin jerked up slightly and he careless discarded a card and then picked up another. "Far superior? By what measure did you arrive at your conclusion? Which lady do you or I know has suffered more than being told she may not purchase another gown? Which lady possesses any distinct trait beyond the usual ability to sing, dance or look pretty in a new frock?"

"Ah, but women are naturally gifted with a softer, gentler nature, and therefore more capable of understanding subtle nuances we men are not. You disagree John?"

"Then their ability to deduce subtle nuances ought to have them wonder why they are placed beneath their fathers, brothers and husbands. Why it's commonly agreed that logic, which rules men's judgement, is vastly superior to emotions, which rules women's actions. There are a few women who may rise above the rest in the general esteem, but as an entire sex? Come, would you condescend to them with empty praises and false platitudes? Simply by saying they're superior does not erase a universal truth. But, I say, Philip, what sort of value do you place on these beauties?"

The men around then, seven or eight in all, enraptured in the last moments of an intense card game between the cousins, all roared with laughter when Lord Davenport fanned out four queens across the smooth surface of the table.

Several arms reached out to the Marquess to thump him on the back as his long arms reached forth to scoop up his winnings from the center of the table. Phillips groaned with good hearted disappointment and he cursed softly at his two useless pairs. Damn! Philip's mind had been elsewhere and he hadn't had a winning hand all evening. Dragging a hand over his handsome face, Philip smiled sportingly and extended his right hand in defeat.

"Stick to deducting the intricacies of women's nature, you would-be Lamark" Lord Davenport teased Philip as the two men shook hands. "Games of chance are not for you."

"It's one thing to play at being a humanist" said Lord Milton, a childhood friend to both men. "Rather than observing and deducting, I say place those observations into practice. Either you are a practicing monk or you are even more secretive than Davenport here about who you are keeping company with at night?"

"I have no secrets!" Phillip said with a deep scarlet blush as he grabbed what remained of his little pile of chips off the table.

"Well I'd keep that under wraps before you're thought to be a puff ol' boy!" someone else said to another round of hearty laughter, earning them all a stern glower from Lord Davenport on his cousin's behalf.

Philip merely shrugged his shoulders, refusing to take the bait. "I don't see how talking about my conquests would make me more of a man." Philip cast a meaningful look at a few men around him. "No, I cannot dismiss the fairer sex so easily."

"Another hand Philip? Davenport?" Lord Milton asked.

Philip Mallory shook his head no, as his youthful, handsome face suddenly clouded over as he impatiently slid back from the table. Philip swept an arm around the bustling, glittering, vaulted gaming room filled with a throng of noisy men all decked in their varying shades of black evening wear. "Is this what we've been reduced to? We few, we band of brothers of the aristocracy, of the most power empire on God's green earth?"

At every card table huddled, shoulder to shoulder, groups of darkly clad, ruddy faced men. More gathered to watch as they chatted in hush voices over cigars and hard liquors. Attendants darted quietly and deftly around them to clean spills, clear empty glasses, and fetched more decanters of darkly amber color libations under a thick bluish, hazy cloud of cigar smoke.

Phillip's light brown eyes took it all in at once and his shoulders slumped slightly as he continued. "Is this what you've been reduced to? You the peerage? Have you all little more to do than coming here night after night to these illustrious clubs to gamble away our fortunes or to twirl about elaborate Rococo ballrooms with the Season's debutantes? We, who are descendants of such conquerors have nothing better to do than engage in a bit of intrigue before death claims us all?"

"Yes!" exclaimed Lord Milton. "and I'm damned glad of it! Isn't this so much more preferable to constant warfare? You are a young man. You only know of the romanticized accounts told in books. Several of us lived through the darkness and the horrors of war, including your cousin here. There's nothing romantic or even glorious about it. Speaking of material comforts, my own fair lady awaits me. If we're not to play cards, I'll leave you to your musings, Phillip. My lords!" he stood up and bowed curtly to the company of young noblemen.

The cousins stood up with the rest of the table and inclined their heads towards Lord Milton before their friend departed. Someone was about to speak to Philip then, but Lord Davenport held up a hand and waved away the would be speaker. He held his cigar in one hand and clasped the other on his cousin's slender shoulders and led Phillip from the group.

.

"What's this about?" Lord Davenport inquired when they had a moment away from the rest. "You've been distracted all evening. I know I've taught you to play better than this?"

Philip sighed and took stock of the larger man leaning back casually against a carved banister. With a quick wave of Lord Davenport's hand, an attendant hurried forth to bring snifters of whiskey.

"I've find myself restless lately," said Philip as he started gloomily into his cut crystal glass. "I envy you you're unaffectedness, John. You're so damned dashing, levelheaded and certain of yourself with your wealth and title. You are everything every young woman dreams of for her husband. If you were to offer for the Princess Royal herself, she would jump at the chance."

"Is matrimony on your mind then?" his lordship asked lazily. His sharp blue eyes studied the younger man's face for a moment. "Have you gone and fallen in love, you silly sod?"

Phillip's usually boisterous brown eyes were forlorn. "Love? I wouldn't call it love. Deep, hopeless infatuation perhaps. I've encountered God's most magnificent creation in my Lady Evelyn. I say this, even when this Season boosts of some of the most delectable debutantes ever to come out. I would have been perfectly happy settling for anyone of them and put my father's mind at ease. But no! I had to be enchanted by Venus herself and like Venus, she is out of my reach."

"Nothing is out of reach if one has the will to make it so," Lord Davenport replied coolly, blowing a puff of smoke into his whiskey glass. He allowed the smoke to swirl and dance wistfully in the glass for a bit before taking a drink.

"It is if she doesn't care for me. I certainly have nothing to recommend yourself. I will learn to forget her in time I suppose... Ugh! I thought of nothing else but her the moment I laid eyes on her. Her skin--! Those lurid, dark blue eyes! What a magnificent creature she is! How miserable I am!"

Lord Davenport sharply slapped his cousin's back in equal measures solidarity and sympathy.

When the two men stood side by side, there was no mistaking the family resemblance. It was in the shape of their deep-set eyes, the firmness in their jaw, and even the long athletic physique. Long ago Philip accepted his place in the shadow of his cousin. Lord Davenport exemplified masculinity that made other men seek his friendship, and made women vie for his notice. He was effortlessly seductive.

Philip was noticeably the lesser of the two. He emitted the mild, reticent nature of a romantic poet to those who thought kindly of him. Those not inclined to be gracious would say his manners bespoke his status in life as the youngest son to a noble family of limited fortune and too many sons and daughters. In the small world of the aristocracy, who stood firmly in Fortune's favor, and who didn't was known to everyone, especially to every eligible young ladies in need of a husband.

No one felt the imbalance of the cousins' circumstances more acutely at the moment than Lord Davenport. His lordship silently cursed women kind and felt justified in his own bachelorhood. All his years fighting France did not prepare him for the hordes of husband-seeking aristocratic young ladies who hunted him like game. He never met a bunch more merciless, more vicious or more duplicitous than the blue-blooded daughters and their mommas. It became his life's pleasure to deny any of them his title and wealth, choosing instead to keep the company of women who were well beyond those pursuits.

Lord Davenport took another puff of his cigar before grounded it out on a near by ashing stand. "If your lady is only after a title, well then, no sooner does she gain a coat of arms will she realize it makes for poor companionship. Wait awhile and she will soon set her attention outside her marital bed. You'll have a chance between her milky thighs--"

"I don't want a chance to --!" Phillip protested immediately as his heart swelled from his eyes. "Do not be so boorish and cynical, John. No, no! Lady Evelyn is beauty incarnate through and through! She's too beautiful, too pure to marry for anything but love. She deserves nothing less than the love of a deserving man who will treasure her. I simply don't possess the qualities to interest her."

Lord Davenport could barely contain his eye roll at his melancholy cousin. "I doubt if your lady love could live long on the pedestal you've erected for her. Where does she fall in your spectrum of feminine types?"

"She defies categorization!"

Lord Davenport swallowed his irritation with Philip along with a mouthful of expensive whiskey. "May I never be similarly afflicted," he thought to himself. Out loud he said. "So who is this young lady then? I recall at least three Lady Evelyns."

"You would not know her as she's newly arrived from abroad. This is her first Season."

"Then who are her people? Would I know her father?"

"Not entirely clear. She resides with the Earl of Warwick's household at the moment. There's talk she has a distinguished guardian who provides for her. I never caught a family name and I never thought to ask."

"A bastard child of a lord perhaps?" Lord Davenport conjectured.

"Perhaps, but I would not be surprised if she's the natural daughter of Zeus. Only a sister of Helen of Troy could be as exquisite as she--"

"Enough!" Lord Davenport tossed back the rest of his drink and slammed it down on a near by table, startling its occupants.

"Let's go have a look at the girl. I'm sure to find some reason or flaw to set you free. I don't think I can stomach any more of your whining," Lord Davenport said with good-nature agitation. He threw an affectionate arm around Philip and headed towards the exit.

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Lady Evelyn was attending her second ball of the week, making it her fourth since she's been back to London. What a strange, violently wonderful place this city was, with its dark angry skies and impressive buildings and monuments, she had first thought. She would have preferred exploring more of the city itself but instead she found herself, stuffed and strapped into gown after gown as she's marched into ballroom after ballroom, salon after salon.

Upon her arrival Evelyn had done nothing but attend ball after ball, theatres, salon recitals and all forms of functions designed to display young women of class and worth to the bon ton, in hopes of inciting an advantageous marriage. The other young ladies did not take too kindly to the beautiful, mysterious stranger amongst them, but haven't outright snubbed her as she was a guest, some say distant relative, of the Earl of Warwick. Upon further inquiry from the current Lady Warwick, Evelyn was introduced as the niece of the first Countess, who succumbed to a difficult childbirth long ago.

That was as far as anyone knew of young Lady Evelyn, as she refused to speak of her life before her arrival. All questions to where she lived, her mother and father were all artfully dodged or she would look down at her clasped hands in stony silence. It wasn't the thing for a new comer to do and made her no friends at all. As soon as she left a room she could feel feminine tongues start to wag, and heard the venom-dripping whispers about other young ladies found wanting by the more established noble ladies.

Lady Evelyn did not appear to mind being mostly ignored by the other young ladies though. That did not sit well with her detractors. They scowled at her arrogance and turned their nose up to her serene indifference.

Beneath her polished exterior, however, Lady Evelyn was overwhelmed by it all. She allowed herself to be lead out for yet another dance by another handsome young nobleman with poetry on his lips and lust in his eyes. At this ball, as with all the others, there was little else to do but eat, drink, dance and make polite conversations neither amusing or enlightening. Evelyn thought it best to ignore the male eyes sneaking glances down her neckline when they pretended to admired her plain gold necklace with it's simple gold disk. At least THEY spoke to her. It was prudent to just ignore the snippets of feminine tongues as they savaged Evelyn's gown or mocked her lack of "proper" ornaments. Yes, it was best not to dwell on any of it or she would run screaming for the nearest exit.

Evelyn lifted her eyes above the huddled bodies of the young and fashionable set, to admire the detailed work of the ballroom's fresco ceiling. As she twirled and swirled with all the other dancers, she prayed silently wished herself anywhere but in this ghastly place.

And then--some the air shifted! It was a subtle change, but something was different!

An indescribable current rippled through the room like the growing rumble of thunder. It was only a rising murmur of excitement all around Evelyn. She noticed that everyone around her had their necks cranked towards the crowded grand entryway as they chattered excitedly. What was it? Who were they all looking at?

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