English Rose Ch. 01byGojenngo©
Eighteenth Century England...
Sabrina sighed with relief as the last strains of music faded and the dance came to an end. Rising up from her curtsy, she allowed Lord Brigham to lead her off the dance floor and steer them towards the punch bowl. For the next few minutes they made polite conversation discussing minor matters of their families and careful to stay away from topics of business or politics.
Flipping open her fan, Sabrina was relieved when Lord Brigham took the hint and went to find her a refreshing glass of champagne. While an acceptable dance partner, he tended to drone on and on about the weather deeming it the only acceptable topic of conversation for a young, unmarried lady. Alone for the first time since she'd arrived with her family, Sabrina eased back into the shadows. Eyeing the crowd around her, she counted the hours until her disappearance wouldn't be considered rude.
A deep laugh caught her by surprise and drew her attention down the length of the room. Lord Douglas Radcliff, the next Duke of Spiegel, stood with several other young men engaged in a lively conversation. His unrestrained exultation seemed out of place in the staid London ballroom.
"Devilishly handsome, isn't he?"
Sabrina turned with a smile at the familiar sound of her dearest friend. "Ellie, I didn't hear you announced."
"I came with the Fergusons." Ellie returned her long time friend's embrace. Standing side by side, a person instantly noted the differences between the two young women. Lady Sabrina Montague was tall with black hair and green eyes. The modest evening gown she wore did little to hide the swell of her breasts or the curve of her vulouptuous hips. All of this stood in sharp contrast to Lady Eleanor Mills' petite frame, blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Where Lady Eleanor's pale beauty was considered the height of fashion, Lady Sabrina's dark good looks made her an exotic beauty.
Despite the differences in their appearance, the two young women were similar in nature. They had met as children, their parents members of the ton, and had quickly become friends. Their similar stations in life ensured that they moved in the same circles and they often spent the evening together. "I hear he's considering marriage."
"Who?" Sabrina had already forgotten Ellie's earlier comment.
"Lord Radcliff," Ellie sighed at Sabrina's lack of interest in anything male. "Rumor has it he's looking for a wife. His father finally recognized him and now that he his nearing the end insist that his son take a wife." Ellie smiled and sipped at her champagne, her eyes taking stock of the men and women that swarmed around them.
Ellie was a fountain of information. Had it come from anyone else Sabrina would have brushed it off as simple gossip, however, Ellie had a knack for knowing everything that was going on within the ton. "Hmmm, interesting without a doubt but just because his father insists he marry doesn't mean that Lord Radcliff is actually looking for a wife."
The current Duke of Spiegel had suffered a series of set backs all of which led to him reluctantly legitimizing his bastard son. Two years ago the Duke had taken to his bed, his heart beating by sheer will alone. It was rumored that the Duke was ready to face death until his only legitimate son was killed in a carriage accident. Near death and faced with the likelihood of his title passing to a distant and unpleasant cousin the Duke did the one thing no one thought he would do. Calling Douglas to his deathbed the Duke ordered his solicitor to draw up the necessary papers to ensure that the title would pass to Douglas.
It was rumored that Douglas hadn't spoken with his father since and the old Duke was nearing the end. Sabrina had met the man on more then one occasion. He was a crotchety old man, blunt regardless of a person's status or gender and Sabrina had liked him immensely.
"You might want to consider him; he'll be a Duke soon and your position ensures a good match." Ellie suggested.
Sabrina gave Ellie a small smile, a hint of reproach in her eyes. "You know that's not possible."
Ellie reached out and gently touched her friend's arm. "I know you think that marriage is beyond you but I refuse to believe that. You are too young to put yourself out of reach and with Radcliff's own questionable paternity you wouldn't have to worry about..."
"No." Sabrina sighed at the struck look on her friend's face. She hadn't meant to snap but she had already resigned herself to her situation and it didn't help having Ellie constantly pushing her. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have snapped at you like that. Please, let's just drop it."
"No, I'm the one that should apologize. I know how you feel and yet I keep insisting." Ellie took Sabrina by the hand and pulled her out of the shadows. "Come, a few of the ladies are playing cards in the other room, why don't we join them?"
Sabrina smiled in relief as Ellie let the matter drop and followed her out of the ballroom. Later that night as she rode home with her mother and father, Sabrina found her thoughts turning again and again to Douglas Radcliff. She had seen him several times in the past year and a half but they had never been formally introduced.
He was tall, even for a man, with broad shoulders and long legs that looked splendid no matter what he wore. Tonight he had been dressed in simple black and white, the cut of his clothes the only indication of his tremendous wealth. Most men today accented their bright colored coats with lace and jeweled buttons but Radcliff kept things simple. Recognizing the danger in continuing her current line of thinking, Sabrina pushed all thoughts of Radcliff from her mind and concentrated on what her mother was saying. It wasn't until she slipped between the sheets that Sabrina let herself feel the loss of a husband and family she would never know.
At twenty Sabrina should have been married with a child on the way. Instead, she was enjoying her second Season in London before permanently retiring to the country. The second of three daughters, her older sister had married two years ago and next year her younger sister would make her debut. Since a match was no longer possible Sabrina couldn't expect her family to fund the cost of another year in London without any hope of arranging a marriage.
To the rest of the ton there was no obvious reason why Sabrina shouldn't be married. There had been several suitors last year, all of good linage and in good standing with the ton. In fact, her father had been in negotiations with three different gentlemen when tragedy struck.
On her way home late one night, Sabrina's carriage had been attacked. At first thinking they were just footpads, Sabrina had insisted that her coachman cooperate. She didn't want anyone in her father's employ loosing his life over a few jewels. Prepared to hand everything over, Sabrina was surprised when the carriage door was yanked open and a large hand reached in and grabbed her.
Pulled off balance, Sabrina landed in the man's arms only to be handed up into the saddle of another and whisked away. For several seconds she was rendered speechless. There were three men, all on horseback. None of them spoke and so far none of them had done her any harm. It wasn't until they were leaving the limits of London that she questioned them.
"Where are we going?" She asked.
"I've been ordered to take you to the country, ma'am." The burly voice behind her was quiet and gruff.
"I'm sorry, ma'am, it's not my place to say." Sabrina felt him shifting in the saddle behind her. "Here, it's going to be several hours before we reach our destination." A warm blanket enveloped her and Sabrina felt her head pushed against one strong shoulder. "Rest."
She didn't think she could but Sabrina was soon asleep. The long night and the fear did much to exhaust her and it wasn't until she was being lifted down from the horse that she woke.
Jared placed her on her feet, silently offering her the support of his arm until she woke enough to walk on her own. He dismissed the others ordering them to the kitchen for a bite and then to their beds. Jared had been in his master's employ for several years. Through the times when there had been no money to pay his fee Jared had remained loyal but in this he had voiced his firm disapproval. Once again he sought to dissuade his master from his current course, all to no avail and now he delivered this young woman to her ruin. Time and time again throughout the night Jared had considered returning her to her carriage. A few words to the coachman would ensure that no one learned about the events of this evening and her reputation would remain in tact. In the end he did the only thing he knew how to do and followed his orders.
Sabrina looked around. They had ridden around to the back side of a large cottage and into the stables. Despite the late hour, two stable boys immediately appeared and took over the horses. A moment later, Sabrina found herself escorted into the house where she was greeted by a stoic looking butler.
"If you'll follow me, ma'am."
With a nod, Jared handed Sabrina off and went to find his master.
Sabrina followed the butler up a flight of stairs and turned down the west wing of the house. After introducing himself as Martin, the butler showed her to a small suite of rooms. Once inside she saw that a bath had been prepared and a light supper laid out for her.
"If there is anything you need, ma'am, feel free to call." Martin turned, leaving Sabrina to herself.
Sabrina jumped at the unmistakable sound of the door locking behind her. Rubbing her hands up and down her arms she hugged herself and for the first time acknowledged her fear. She had yet to see any other women in residence and she had no idea what was going on. She'd been away all night and her parents were likely frantic looking for her. If her driver had managed to return to their townhouse he had explained the situation and hopefully her family would come for her soon.
Sabrina had no idea how they would know where to find her. They had ridden throughout the night, often times diverting off the path and circling back. She had finally stopped trying to figure out where they were going and slept. If she didn't know where they were it was unlikely that her parents would have an easy time finding her.
Despite the few hours of rest she had been able to snag while riding a horse, Sabrina was weary. Slipping out of her dress and into the tub she sighed with relief as the warm water helped to ease the tension in her muscles. A fire had been built up in the hearth and after washing both herself and her hair Sabrina wrapped herself in a towel and brushed her hair out. Letting it dry while she ate she contemplated her surrounding.
From her place in front of the fire, Sabrina noted a large sitting room led off from the bedroom. It appeared to be an inside room with no other way out. The windows lining the outside wall overlooked the front drive. Glancing down, Sabrina could just make out the front door and no obvious way down. She was well and truly caught.
While generously furnished, Sabrina noted that several pieces of furniture were dull and their edges frayed. It would appear that the owner had either fallen on hard times or didn't care to keep up the small estate. Financial difficulty would explain her kidnapping. Hopefully, all anyone was after was some of her father's money. Finishing her light supper, Sabrina climbed upon the large four-poster bed and slipped between the sheets. She held on to the hope that she would be held until whatever rasom demand was paid and then allowed to return to her family. Thoughts of her family helped to alleviate some of her fear and she quickly fell asleep.
Sabrina woke with a start. Listening, she waited for the sound to come again but all was quiet. Despite the still night she knew she wasn't alone. Sitting up, she searched the room until her eyes fell upon the large, dark figure sitting in the chair across from the bed. "Who are you?"
He shifted, stood and started walking towards the bed. "For obvious reasons I prefer that we forgo with names."
A shot of warning flashed through her. Slowly she edged off the opposite side of the bed and stood clad only in her shift. "Why am I here?"
"I have...business...with your father." His voice was low and menacing.
"If your business is with my father then what do you want with me?" Even in the dark she could sense his smile and it wasn't pleasant.
"I don't expect that you'll understand. You have no idea the true nature of your father."
Sabrina felt her spin stiffen. Recognizing that she was at a serious disadvantage, nevertheless, she insisted, "My father is a kind and honorable man. If you have issues with my father and the way he conducts business then perhaps it has more to do with your methods then his."
"But, my dear," he drawled, "I'm taking a page from his book." He took another step towards her, she was poised for flight but he had no intention of letting her go. He had worked hard too get to this point, spent too much time putting his plans in motion and he intended to see it through to the end.
"What do you mean?" Sabrina felt a moment of uncertainty. She knew that her father could be ruthless when it came to business and she wouldn't be surprised to find that this man was one of the many to pay the price.
He felt the familiar anger at the memories. "Your father was instrumental in the downfall of a good woman," he paused letting the silence add weight to his next words. "I can only repay him in kind."
The implication of his words slammed home and Sabrina felt her blood run cold. It finally dawned on her why he had waited until late at night to visit her. With the cover of darkness she couldn't make out his features and she would be unable to recognize him by size alone.
Panicked, Sabrina tried to run past him. Part of her knew it was useless, even if she made it there was no where for her to go. She had no idea where she was or how to get back to London. Still, some primitive part of her brain urged flight and she bolted towards the door.
He'd seen the intent in her eyes the instant before she moved. Reaching out he easily wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her back up against his chest. It was like trying to hold onto a furious cat as she struggled in his arms. Lifting her off her feet, he carried her to the bed grunting in pain as she clawed at his arms with her nails and her heels beat against his shins.
With little care, he threw her onto the bed and watched as she scambled backwards. He found no pleasure in her desperate flight and it was with simple resolve that he reached forward, grabbed her by the ankles and pulled her back towards him.
Sabrina gave a cry of alarm as she felt herself pulled across the bed. Looking back over her shoulder, she could see him standing at the edge of the bed, a dark shadow looming behind her. Her heart beat hard against her chest and the blood rushed in her ears. "No. Please." Eventually, she stopped trying to pull herself across the bed. Allowing him to flip her over onto her back, Sabrina kicked out with her feet. It was no use. His grip was like a vice, hard and unbreakable. Unable to free herself, Sabrina succeeded only at kicking her legs free from her shift.
He couldn't miss the growing expanse of exposed skin and took a moment to appreciate the sight of her long legs, delicate feet and slightly plump thighs. Whether it was her natural coloring or moments glimpsed in the sun, he didn't know but whatever it was gave her skin a slightly gold hue.
Her struggles were growing more frantic as he drew her closer and more of her body was revealed to him. He had drawn her close enough that she sat on the edge of the bed, her feeting hanging towards the floor. Quickly, he step between her thighs, putting him where he needed to be while keeping her from kicking out with her feet. Grabbing her wrists, he bent her back onto the bed and pinned her hands over her head.
Sabrina stared up at where he stood braced above her. The lower half of his body held her immobile while his hands on her wrists kept her from clawing at his face. Even in the dark she could see him staring at her chest. Looking down she saw that her struggles had caused the ties of her shift to come undone exposing her breasts. The sight brought renewed strength to her struggles and she bucked furiously trying to escape.
"Easy, I don't want to hurt you any more than I have to." Moving slowly, he covered her body with his and brought his head down. He gave her time to discern his intentions so as not to surprise her. His goal was clear but he felt no need to unnecessarily frighten her in the process. Settling his mouth on hers, he kissed her lightly.
Sabrina went absolutely still. Holding her breath she waited while he explored the outside of her mouth. His lips pressed gently but firmly against her urging her to open up to him. When that didn't work, he released one of her hands and wrapped his fist in her hair. Pulling back violently he caused her to cry out. Taking advantage, he slipped his tongue between her lips and started exploring her mouth.
He felt himself growing hard at her taste. He had no heart for rape but he had set his course and would see it through. When he'd first entered her room he had been unsure of how to proceed. He had thoughts of seducing her, of giving her pleasure despite what he was about to do to her. His own desire had been nonexistent until he saw her sleeping. It was the first time he'd seen her up close and personal and he was surprised by the voluptuousness of her feminine curves beneath the blanket. It had given him pause and he sat watching her for several minutes before she woke up.
But as she lay struggling beneath him, her taste strong in his mouth, his desire grew. Releasing her hair, he grasped the front of her shift and rendered it to her waist. His breath caught at the sight of her breasts and he couldn't stop a whispered, "lovely." They were full and heavy, perfectly matched to her voluptuous frame. When he cupped them they filled his hands to nearly overflowing and her breath, coming in shuddering spasms, pressed them more firmly into his palms. Cupping them gently, he rolled her nipples between his thumb and forefinger until they were both hard and throbbing.
Sabrina shivered with humiliation. Instinctively, she tried turning away from him, covering her breasts with her arms. Realizing that her arms were once again free she ranked her nails down the side of his face.
"Bitch," he roared, rearing back. Pinning both wrists with one hand, he reached between their bodies and freed himself from his breeches. She was naked beneath her shift and he easily found her entrance. Despite her heat she wasn't ready for him but all thoughts of seduction had fled. In a rage, ignoring her struggles he thrust forward and penetrated her.
Sabrina screamed at the pain of being violently entered. Unprepared, her body protested as he forced his way into her, tearing her maidenhead and shattering her virtue. Defeated, all fight having left her, Sabrina sobbed even as his passage was made easier by her blood. She didn't know how much time had passed before he groaned in release and she felt a rush of warmth between her legs.
He didn't rest with his release, instead pushing himself away and quickly fastening the front of his breeches. For a moment he stood over her, watching as she lay silent and unmoving. Her head was turned from him and the room dark but he didn't miss the tears that marked her face. He forced himself to look at her, to take note of the blood staining the inside of her thigs and the blanket beneath her. He had used her as an instrument in his revenge against her father. This young woman that was as innocent as his mother had been now lay broken and ruined by his hand. Feeling no satisfaction, he turned and left.