English Rose Ch. 01


Sabrina waited until he was gone before slowly rising from the bed. She was stiff and sore and the skin between her legs was tender. Dipping a corner of her torn shift in a pitcher of water she bathed herself before crawling back into bed. She lay in the dark clutching a pillow to her chest trying to control the tremors. It was only when the first rays of light breached the windows that she was able to let herself sleep.

She slept late, waking only when Jared entered bearing a tray of hot chocolate, toast and fresh fruit. Burying herself deeper under the covers, Sabrina watched warily as he cleared the dishes from the night before.

Jared moved with quick efficiency, careful to keep his eyes from the bed. "Good morning, ma'am. One of the maids will be up shortly with your dress and a bath. The master thought you might like to have it laundered. You'll find a robe in the armiore that should do until then." Jared gave her a quick glimpse and started for the door. "I'll be escorting you home in a few days," he said, adding quietly, "just as soon as you're able to travel."

Sabrina watched him leave, the door locking behind him. Her appetite had yet to return but she sipped the hot chocolate gratefully. True to his word, a maid arrived and helped her to bathe and dress, curling her hair and even adding a bit of rouge to her cheeks.

Alone, Sabrina stood in front of the mirror and considered herself. She didn't look any different. A little paler then usual and the rouge not her normal color but otherwise it was the same green eyes that stared back at her. She had always thought that losing her virginity would somehow change her, mark her as different in some comprehensible way. Perhaps it would have if her virginity had gone part and parcel with marriage.

Raising one hand to her face she considered the sharp angle of her jaw, the high arch of her brows and the fullness of her lips. She was beautiful. She'd always known that, had been told often enough by family, friends and admirers. Yet she'd always known that it would be her position as the daughter of a duke and her dowery that would ensure a good match. The pragmatic part of herself understood this and had accepted it long ago. However, there was that part of her that was just a girl and had dreamed of marriage and family, had hoped for friendship with her husband and maybe even some day love.

Staring at herself in the mirror, knowing that beneath the modest ball gown stood a woman touched by man, Sabrina knew that any hope of marriage and children was gone. On wooden legs she turned from the mirror and made her way to a window seat. It was Thursday and she was due to lunch with Ellie in the park, outside the day promised to be warm, the perfect day for a picnic. Absently, Sabrina wondered what her folks would give as her excuse to Ellie. Whatever it was, it wouldn't be the truth.

The truth was almost more then she could bear. Unbidden, moments from the night before floated to the surface. Once again she could feel his hands holding her down, the weight of him pressing her into the mattress and the pain of him tearing into her. All of it came crashing down, threatening to suffocate her. Her chest felt tight, as if he really was once again pressed against her. It wasn't until her vision started to dim and bright spots of light burst beneath her eyelids that Sabrina realized that was holding her breath against crying out.

For the next several moments it was all she could do to breath. She forced herself to focus on taking each breath and letting it out until she felt some of the tension leave her body. The panic gone, Sabrina tried to decide what to do next.

Without her virtue there were few options for her. Her station in life prevented her from engaging in academics or working as a nanny. More than likely, her father would order her either to the country where she would remain or to her sister's, if her brother-in-law would have her. She'd alway loved the country but her sister's would allow her the chance to spend time with her nieces and nephews. There would be no children for herself but she could take what joy there was in being a dotting aunt.

Sabrina frowned at the idea of being an old maid in her sister's house. She'd always lived an active life and stretched her independence as far as society would allow. The thought of living her life vicariously through her sister left a bitter taste in her mouth.

That left the country where there was little to do but read, pen notes and ride out into the surrounding area. All very fine for the summer but a lifetime? Where did that leave her? As long as she was the daughter of a duke, Sabrina would be confined to living a quiet life of solitude. But what if she wasn't the daughter of a duke? What if she were to step outside her appointed role as obedient daughter? Could she risk the quiet, comfortable life she was destined to for something else? What else was there? Agitated, Sabrina stood and paced the room. She needed to weigh all of her options, even those that were previously closed to her.

Sometime later, Sabrina sat down heavily into one of the chairs before the fire. She had come up with a number of ideas. Unfortunately, none of them were very realistic. She had been forced to admit that her life so far had done little to prepare her to step out into the world alone. She could read and write and had a basic understanding of math but the reality of it was she had been raised to one end and that was marriage. However, the idea of letting any man touch her - ever - had caused her to shiver in revulsion. Surprisingly, on the heels of revulsion had come anger at the man that had left her feeling repulsed by the idea of being made love to. Not just anger, she was furious!

Grabbing the tea pot sitting on the table beside her, Sabrina flung it across the room. The tea pot shattered against the back of the bedroom door just as Jared came in with a light supper. "Get out!"

"Ma'am?" Jared ducked as what sounded like a tea cup followed the pot.

"Get out! Get out and stay out!" Sabrina kept throwing until there was nothing left on the table beside her. A moment later there was a soft knock on the door. "Go away," she said but this time without heat.

Jared pushed the door open slowly. "My lady?" He saw her sitting next to the fire. The sun was setting and the room was growing cold. "Ma'am, if you'd allow it I'd like to build up the fire and clean up the mess." The floor in front of the door was littered with broken china, shattered tea cups and several dented pieces of serving silver.

"I don't care," Sabrina whispered. She watched as Jared entered and quickly went about cleaning the room. A moment later a maid followed; Sabrina turned away when she went to strip the bed. "What is your name?"

Jared hesitated for the barest of moments. "Jared."

"Is that your real name," Sabrina asked.

"Yes, ma'am."

"I see." Sabrina wasn't sure why it mattered. She had no way of knowing if he spoke the truth or not. "Well, Jared, I have a message for your master. Pray tell him that I request an audience at his earliest convienence."

"Yes, ma'am." Jared nodded and then quickly ushered the maid out the door.

Once again alone, Sabrina forced herself to eat the light supper that had been prepared. Despite the slightly worn look of her surroundings the food was excellent. The ingredients were fresh and light with no heavy sauces to cover lesser quality meat. There was also a light wine and a chocolate souffle for dessert. Finished eating, Sabrina settled into wait. The sun had set and the room was filling with shadows. Still, she didn't move to light any of the many candles in the room but left the only light in the room that of the fireplace.

It was late, well after midnight before he slipped into her room. He was surprised to find her still up and dressed. She sat in the same chair he'd occupied the night before and the only light in the room came from the dying fire. Despite the low light, he was careful to stay in the shadows near the door.

"You wished to see me?" He hadn't expected to see her again and was surprised when Jared relayed her request for an audience. He had order Jared to make it clear that she would be free from his attention for as long as she remained. The only thing keeping her here was her inability to ride. There were no carriages kept at the cottage and he wanted to give her time to heal before sending her home.

"Yes, thank you for coming." Sabrina stood as he entered. She had been sitting in the dark, wondering what to say. The words formed and fell time and time again, never sounding quite right. In the hours since she'd first made her decision she must have changed her mind a hundred times only to change it back. Once she embarked upon this path there would be no turning back. While her life was already irrevocably changed she still stood free of any wrong doing. What she contemplated now would change all of that.

When she remained silent, he asked, "did you have something you wanted to ask me, say to me?" He had heard about the incident with the tea pot. In truth he'd been surprised that her outbreak hadn't been more sever. He'd known women of the ton to throw larger temper tantrums over a torn flounce.

Sabrina shook out her hands in obvious distress. "I'm sorry, I don't know where to begin."

"Lord woman, you shouldn't be apologizing to me. Ask whatever it is you want or say whatever it is you need to say. If it's a request and it's within my power I'll see that you have it."

"Can you give me back my future?" Sabrina asked quietly. "Can you give me back the husband and the children that I'll never have?" Angrily she brushed at the tears that had started to fall. This was not how she wanted this conversation to go.

"No," he whispered. "I swore never to regret my decision but I do regret hurting you in the process. For that I am sorry."

He was still just a shadow to her. Throughout the day she had avoided thinking about him or the night before. When she finally let herself remember she was surprised at how many details she was able to recall. Staring at him from across the room she found that many of her memories proved accurate. He was obviously a tall man, wide across the chest and shoulders. She could see where his hair brushed the collar of his coat making it just this side of fashionable. While she had no idea what his face might look like his voice was deep and a little rough. That combined with his comments about business with her father led her to believe that he was of the merchant class. The apparently fine cut of his clothes, the cottage with its servants and the food suggesting that he had worked his way up rather far.

Squaring her shoulders, Sabrina blurted out, "I want you to make love to me."

Whatever it was he'd been expecting this was not it. So stunned was he by her request that it was several moments before he realized that she had continued talking.

"...never going to have a husband and last night definitely wasn't how I pictured my first time..."

"Stop." He held up his hand to emphasize the order. "Just stop, for one moment and back up." He could not have heard her correctly. "Let me see if I've got this right, you want me to make love to you? Me?"

Sabrina swallowed past the lump in her throat. "Yes. As I was saying, once I leave here I'll never again have the opportunity..."

"I'm sure there are any number of men that would gladly show you the ways of bed play."

"I'm sure," she agreed dryly. "But none of them are strangers and any...bed play...with them would ruin what little reputation I have left. You've made it clear that I will be allowed to return home. I assume since you haven't aired the bloody bedsheets in the window that you don't intend on making a public announcement as to the state of my virtue."

He snorted at her sarcasm. "And risk a public hanging, no thank you."

Sabrina ignored him. "That must mean that the only one you want to know about this," a wave of her hand took in the bedroom in which they stood, "is my father. Therefore you are the best choice if I want to know what it's like to experience pleasure."

This was all just too crazy. He needed to sit down, and a drink. "Did Jared bring up anything stronger then tea?"

Sabrina realized that she'd given him quite a turn. It was obvious that he required a moment to gather his wits. "Yes, there's brandy on the table."

"May I?" He asked, indicating the table. It was on her side of the room and would put him closer to her.

"Of course." Sabrina watched as he walked across the room, poured a rather large dose of brandy and then tossed it back.

His hands flat on the table, he waited while the brandy worked its way down the back of his throat. Turning to study her, he considered her request. She stood straight, almost defiant, with her shoulders thrown back. As the silence stretched out and he continued to watch her he saw her shudder violently. Straightening up, he turned and started for the door. "No."

So shocked at his denial, Sabrina almost missed catching him as reached the door. "Wait! Why?"

Running a hand through his hair, he turned back to her. "You can barely stand to have me look at you. I can't say that I blame you. I've done you a greivious harm but I can't undo it and I won't compound it. Now, I will leave you in peace for the rest of your stay. Goodnight."

"You bastard," she hissed never knowing how true she spoke. "So much for your willingness to grant my any request." Ashamed and embarrassed, Sabrina felt herself flush. It had taken all of her courage to make the request. She had never thought for a moment that he might say no. Ironically, she found herself feeling offended at his rejection.

His hand dropped away from the door but he didn't turn back to the room. She was right; he'd been more then willing to do anything when the only thing he thought she'd want was an apology or to take a tea pot to the head. Both of which were easier then what she asked. It wasn't that he wasn't attracted to her, quite the opposite in fact. She was beautiful, stunning even and he knew exactly what it would feel like to press his body against hers.

He'd been in a rage the night before and while he tried to deny it he had to admit that he'd found pleasure in taking her. The fact that it was rape was distasteful, to say the least, but the feel of her breasts in his hands, the taste of her lips, had been exquisit. What he didn't know was whether or not he possessed the ability to walk her through the painful memories that he had created to get to the pleasure.

"Please don't make me beg." Her voice was quiet but he could hear the undertone of desperation.

Turning from the door, he looked at her. "Are you sure? Absolutely sure that you want to do this here, now, with me?"

Sabrina held up her hands, "what choice do I have?"

He snorted, "not exactly a resounding yes." He held up his hand to stop her protests. "I understand what you mean." He took a deep breath and sighed. "Alright then." He walked back over to the table, this time pouring two drinks and offering her one. "I think we'll both need a drink before we get started." He held his arm out, holding it steady while she hesitated.

Sabrina's legs felt like lead as she stepped forward. Reaching out, she could see her hand shake as she took the offered glass. Following his earlier example, she tossed back the brandy, coughing slight as it burned its way down her throat. Silently, she handed the glass back to him before retreating back to her side of the room.

He stood staring down into the drink in his hand wondering at this new turn of events. He'd bedded many women, all of them older and more experienced then Sabrina. He'd never taken a young lady to his bed, certainly never one he'd raped the night before.

"Have you changed your mind," she asked quietly.

"No," he said quietly. Setting aside his drink, he started across the room only to stop short when she scurried backwards. The realization of just how scared of him she was hit him like a punch to the gut.

Sabrina stumbled into the bedside table, the adrenalin hitting her so hard and fast that she hadn't realized that she was in flight until she'd been stopped by the table.

He didn't move, just brought both hands up, palms facing out. Dropping his voice, he addressed her as one would a wounded animal. "It's okay. I'll stay right here until you say otherwise." Belatedly, he realized it might work best to urge her to come to him. "We'll take this slow and stop whenever you want to. Okay?"

Sabrina nodded and eased away from the table. "What do you want me to do?" She asked uncertainly.

"Why don't you come a little closer. I promise, I won't move or reach out to touch you until you're ready," he assured her. He waited through several heartbeats, watching as she struggled to step towards him. Finally, just when he thought she would call a halt to the evening, she started forward.

Moving slowly, she seemed to glide towards him. He could feel her eyes on his face, knew that if he so much as twitched that she would bolt from the room. Perhaps that would be for the best, he thought. He still wasn't convinced that this was the best thing for her. Yet, she seemed resolved and he knew how hard it was to turn someone away from a path that they'd set themselves on.

As she drew closer he was able to make out more of the details of her face. He could see the angle of her jaw, the straight line of her nose and the long line of her neck. He could also hear her breathing. "You need to slow your breathing, sweetie," he warned gently, "otherwise you're likely to hyperventilate." Sarbrina nodded. Staring at his chest, she took deep breaths until once again the fear was under control.

She stood mere inches away from him. He could easily reach out and grab her but his hands remained at his sides. They stood face to face in the dark; the light from the fire continued to dim leaving the room in shadow and the only noise was the sound of their breathing. Sabrina realized that he was waiting for some single from her to begin, letting her set the pace. "I'm okay," she said.

He didn't buy that for a moment. "Look at me," he said and watched as she raised her eyes to him. He couldn't see their color in the dark, didn't know if they were a bright blue or a dark brown. What he could see was that they were bright, likely with fear rather then desire. Slowly, with her eyes on him, he raised his hands to her face and cupped it gently.

Sabrina felt the shock of that first touch all the way through her and shivered. His touch was gentle yet she still had to resist the urge to jerk away. "Remember," he said, "we can stop at any time."

Sabrina nodded, her face still held in his hands. He didn't do anything else, just held her face for a moment until he felt some of the tension start to leave her body. As she started to relax he slowly lowered his head, taking his time and giving her ample chance to call stop. When she didn't, he let his mouth settle lightly upon her lips.

Sabrina held still as he brushed her lips back and forth with his mouth. After a moment he stopped to nibble lightly at the corners letting her feel his lips part slightly and his breath brush up against her mouth. She sighed at the sweet scent of the brandy they'd drunk earlier floated against her lips but couldn't help startling when she felt the tip of his tongue.

He didn't pull back, just stopped and went back to brushing her lips lightly until she was once against sighing against his mouth. This time when he touched his tongue to her lips he felt her open up. He didn't plunge ahead but continued to keep it light alternating between brushing her lips and tasting them with his tongue.

Sabrina felt the heat of his lips settle into the pit of her stomach. It was a pleasant sensation and she found herself stepping closer, pressing herself lightly against his chest in open invitation to take more.

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byGojenngo© 20 comments/ 140669 views/ 136 favorites

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