tagRomanceEnglish Rose Ch. 03

English Rose Ch. 03


The week before Sabrina's wedding went by in a daze. Her days were spent with her mother planning and preparing for the wedding while her evenings were reserved for Douglas.

Together, they attended the last of the Season's balls, a music recital that was painfully bad and the theater. Their arrival at each event was marked and noted but even the gossip mongers were hard pressed to find fault with either of them.

The night before the wedding the Duke and Duchess of St. Ives were hosting a dinner party for their daughter and her fiancé. It was to be a small, private affair with only family and a few close friends. Sabrina appreciated the sentiment but was concerned when Douglas didn't add to the guest list.

"Your father won't be joining us?" she asked. It was the night before the dinner party and they were on their way home from the theater when she broached the subject.

Douglas sat with his head resting against the back of the carriage seat, eyes closed. "No."

Sabrina bit her lip and wondered at the wisdom of pressing further. Up until now, they had carefully avoided the topic of Douglas' father and the circumstances of his birth. "Did you invite him?"

"No," Douglas said and sighed. Sensing that Sabrina wouldn't be put off he lifted his head and caught her looking at him. "I didn't invite him because I already know that he is too sick to travel."

"Oh," Sabrina said. She'd never considered the possibility that the Duke would be physically unable to attend his son's wedding. Taking a different approach, she asked, "Is there anyone else you'd like to invite?"

Douglas smiled; it was obvious that his fiancé was worried about him and his lack of family. "The only other family I have is my father's sister and she's currently caring for him. I wouldn't ask her to leave him."

"You don't think that either of them would want to be there?" Sabrina sensed something more.

Douglas looked away and out the carriage window. "I haven't spoken with my father since he legally recognized me and made arrangements for me to inherit. It was the first and only time we'd ever spoken. As for my Aunt Mae," he shrugged, trying to appear casual, "she was always good to me, as much as propriety would allow, but she's very close to my father and I doubt she would leave him."

Knowing that he wouldn't want her pity, Sabrina covered Douglas' hand with her own silently offering what comfort she could. Touched by the gesture, Douglas gripped her fingers tightly and continued to stare out the window.

A moment later the carriage came to a stop outside the St. Ives townhouse. When Douglas didn't immediately move to open the door Sabrina looked up to find him still staring out the window.

Quietly, she slid into his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck. "What are you thinking?" she asked.

"Dark thoughts," he admitted, "nothing worth sharing."

Comforted by her nearness, Douglas slid his arms around her waist and pulled her closer. Immediately, she softened against him allowing him to rest his head against her chest. Nuzzling her neck, Douglas took in the smell of the light scent she wore before moving to press a kiss to the top of her breasts.

Sabrina sighed and shifted closer, a low heat already starting to build. With her arms around his neck she pulled him closer and let her head fall back.

Douglas moved down the valley between her breasts raining light kisses along the way. She wore one of her new dresses, the low-cut bodice giving him easier access to her generous cleavage while his hands explore the curve of her waist and the flare of her hips.

Sabrina couldn't stop the small moan of pleasure as Douglas continued his exploration of her breasts or the whimper of frustration when he failed to release her from her dress. Restless, she moved against him trying to tempt him into easing the pressure. "Douglas, please."

"Hush," he whispered. He could sense her struggles and knew that it was unfair to start something he had no intention of finishing. He had promised himself that he wouldn't take her again until they were married yet time and again he found her in his arms.

He wanted her, his need for her as desperate as the need to breathe to a drowning man, yet he resisted. After the other night in the carriage he'd fought with himself and his conscious. It didn't feel right making love to her without the benefit of marriage, not so long as she remained unaware of their shared past.

Douglas had convinced himself that everything would be different once they were married. He shied away from the truth, from the thought that once Sabrina knew the truth she would hate him.

Turning his attention back to the handful of woman in his lap, Douglas eased down the front of her dress releasing her breasts. In the dim light of the carriage he was just barely able to make out the dark color of her nipples. Dipping his head, he drew circles around the tight peaks with his tongue, taking his time with one before moving on to the other.

Sabrina sighed in relief as her breasts were freed from her dress and then moaned in pleasure as Douglas pulled one nipple into his mouth, suckling gently. Each pull of his mouth sent a corresponding pulse of pleasure to her clit until she was wet and aching. "Oh God, Douglas, don't stop."

"Never," his whispered. Douglas felt his desire grow as she responded in his hands. Her body was warm, almost pliant, moving with a sensual grace that she seemed completely unaware of. He ached to lay her out before him, to take his time with her and make love to her with every part of his being.

Carefully shifting their positions, Douglas settled Sabrina on the carriage seat. Looking up, he felt his desire surge at the sight of her. Her hair was slightly mussed and her eyes, bright with desire, stared down at him as he knelt between her legs.

Eyes locked on Douglas' face, Sabrina braced both hands on the bench beneath her and lifted her hips watching as he pushed up her skirts and spread her thighs. She couldn't turn away, couldn't stop the slight hitch in her breathing as she watched him slowly lower his head. He was darkly beautiful, his black hair striking against the pale skin of her thighs.

Douglas slid his hands beneath her, cupping her buttocks and pulled her forward to the very edge of the bench. The movement caused her thighs to part further revealing her delicate pink pussy.

Already wet and swollen, Douglas could see her juices glistening in the moonlight. Bending his head, he slowly slid his tongue up the length of her slit enjoying the now familiar taste of her. Hearing Sabrina sigh above him Douglas eased forward settling himself more firmly between her thighs.

He used his lips and tongue to taste and touch every part of her from the base of her slit to the tip of her clit. He parted her folds and dipped his tongue into her core. Almost immediately her muscles tightened, drawing him in deeper. Unable to get deep enough with his mouth, Douglas swirled his tongue around the edge of her opening before replacing it with his fingers and sliding them inside.

Sabrina moaned deep in her throat at the satisfying feeling of being filled. Rocking her hips forward, she pushed herself more firmly against Douglas' hand and shuddered. Unable to stop, her body picked up a rhythm that she would ride to completion.

Douglas curled his fingers and stroked that spongy spot she enjoyed so much. At the same time, he moved to take the tip of her clit into his mouth sucking gently and stroking it with his tongue. It didn't take long for them to match pace, his tongue stroking her clit while her hips rocked back and forth on his fingers.

"Oh God, Douglas. Harder, please, harder," Sabrina groaned, the pinnacle of release just out of reach.

Douglas obliged, curling his fingers and taking her clit more firmly into his mouth. A moment later, Sabrina arched in his hands, her body growing taunt before shuddering in release.

Sabrina came back to herself slowly; her body felt heavy but relaxed as she opened her eyes and contemplated the man still kneeling before her. Douglas sat with his head resting on her thigh watching her, his eyes were bright and his lips glistened. Without thinking, Sabrina leaned forward and kissed him, tasting herself for the first time.

Douglas felt his cock surge as she licked at his lips and slipped her tongue into his mouth. Maintaining the kiss, Douglas rose up onto his knees following her as she sat back and pressing up against the front of her.

Sabrina reached out and drew Douglas to her, she could feel the evidence of his arousal pressed firmly between her legs and longed to free him, feeling him sliding into her body. Running her hands down his chest she pulled his shirt free and reached inside, feeling his stomach muscles flutter as she brushed against him with her fingertips.

"Sabrina," Douglas growled in warning as she reached for the front of his breeches.

"It's my turn," she said and slipped the first button free. The rest quickly followed, each one bringing her that much closer to her goal.

She caught him as he sprang free. Wrapping her fingers around his cock, she smiled in satisfaction as he groaned, his forehead dropping to rest on her shoulder. She took her time, teased and touched, caressing the length of him before once again wrapping him in her grip.

Douglas couldn't stop from moaning or from thrusting himself into her hand. Closing his eyes, he allowed her to tease and torture him, her gentle touches sending little shock waves of pleasure along every one of his nerves. Finally, desperate with the need to cum, Douglas reached down and wrapped his hand around hers urging her to grip him tighter.

Sabrina felt her nipples pebble as Douglas guided her movements. This was the first time he'd allowed her to explore and she reveled in the sensation of him coming alive in her hand.

Following his lead, Sabrina kept a firm grip on his cock that allowed for his thrusts. His cock wept pre-cum, which she used to lubricate her hand and ease his passage. Her hand slick and tight, it wasn't long before Douglas was pumping his hips, his body growing tense.

Lifting his head, Douglas grabbed her by the back of the neck and pulled her in for a kiss. Feeling her open up, her lips parting and her tongue darting out to meet him, Douglas gave a low moan of pleasure. At the same time he felt his sac pull up tight and cock surged. Thrusting forward, Douglas felt his hips lock as he came. He had just enough sense to cover the head of his cock with his hand, catching most of his cum and avoiding making a mess of either of them.

Sabrina held him, her hand still wrapped around his cock, for the space of several heartbeats until his body no longer twitched and he had begun go grow heavy against her.

"Thank you," he said and pressed a kiss against the side of her neck.

Sabrina laughed quietly, the sound husky in the dark. "It was my pleasure."

Douglas willed his body to move, his orgasm having left him feeling relaxed and boneless. Suspecting himself of crushing her, he braced his hands on either side of Sabrina and pushed himself to his feet taking a seat next to her. His head once again resting against the seat, he said, "I don't know how much more of this I can take."

"I beg your pardon?" Sabrina asked, amused.

"I had thought to wait until our wedding night to make love to you again but every time I touch you all thoughts and good intentions seem to flee." Douglas said.

Sabrina felt herself smiling in the dark. She was highly aroused from having watched Douglas despite her earlier release. "You may have thought to wait," she said, "but that doesn't mean we have to."

Douglas groaned. "You are a tempting minx," he said. "But no, the next time I take you it will be in a proper bed with the benefit of marriage."

Sabrina huffed in mock displeasure. "Who would have thought you'd be such a stickler for propriety."

Laughing, Douglas pressed a quick kiss to her forehead before jumping from the carriage. For a moment he thought Sabrina would refuse his offered hand, which only made him laugh harder. "Come now, it's almost dawn and we have a busy day tomorrow."

Sabrina sighed but allowed Douglas to help her from the carriage and escort her to the front door of her father's townhouse. A moment later he broke free from their kiss and practically tossed her inside. She felt a childish sense of satisfaction at seeing him as aroused and frustrated as she was and let that thought carry her to bed. Serves him right, she thought.

The next day was more of the same; Sabrina spent the day with her mother in conference with the modiste, the florist and the caterer while Douglas spent it wrapping up business for the summer. Still, she managed to find a moment to draft a quick note and send it, hoping that her mother wouldn't notice the absence of a single footman.

That night, as she readied for dinner, Sabrina found herself feeling uncharacteristically nervous at the idea of spending the evening with her family. This was the first time that they would be together with Douglas; she wasn't sure which she was more afraid of - that they wouldn't like Douglas or Douglas wouldn't like them.

She was the last to arrive and could hear the light sounds of conversation as she neared the sitting room. Relieved at the lack of tension, she forced herself to step forward and into the room.

Almost immediately her eyes found Douglas; he was hard to miss standing as he was with one arm resting comfortably along the back of her mother's chair. Once again struck by how handsome he was Sabrina noted that he stood out among the others. From the length of his hair to the breadth of his shoulders to his quick laugh he stood in stark contrast to the other men in the room.

The other men consisted of her father and brother in-law, both of which were precise specimens of the English nobleman with their pale good looks and quiet demeanor. Sabrina wasn't surprised to find that she preferred the dark good looks of her fiancé.

Douglas watched Sabrina as she entered. Not bothering to wait, he crossed the room and greeted her with a smile. "Good evening, my lady. You look wonderful."

"Thank you," Sabrina said. Douglas was stunning in his usual black and white; his blue eyes accentuated by the fact that his hair was tied back. Catching sight of his eyes, Sabrina noted a tightness that hadn't been there before. "Is everything alright?"

"Everything is fine," Douglas assured her. Taking her hand, he slipped her arm in his and escorted her across the room.

Sabrina looked up from under lower lids; Douglas was scanning the room and she saw the slight narrowing of his gaze as he passed over her sister and brother in-law. "What did he say?"

Douglas shouldn't have been surprised; Sabrina was observant and she had quickly learned to gauge his moods. "Let's just say that your brother in-law and I see eye to eye on very little."

"You didn't try and talk politics with him, did you?" Sabrina groaned. "I should have warned you, Jeremy is many things but open-minded is not one of them."

Sabrina allowed Douglas to escort her around the room. They made small talk with her mother and father, chatted easily with her younger sister Lily and enjoyed an animated conversation with her best friend Ellie. In between, Sabrina continued to fill Douglas in on the eccentricities that were her family.

Overall the evening went well. Douglas noted that, like her mother, Sabrina made a marvelous hostess directing conversation and smoothing over any awkward moments effortlessly.

Sabrina walked Douglas to the door, grateful when the footmen slipped quietly from their posts leaving them alone in the foyer. "I'm not sure whether to apologize for my family or thank you for bearing with them," she said.

Douglas noted the wryly smile on her face and acknowledged the humor in the situation. "No worries, it was exactly what I was expecting. Besides," he said, his smile just as mocking as hers, "I believe that they find me to be a particular oddity as well."

Sabrina was surprised when Douglas suddenly turned serious. "Sabrina, if it wasn't already, tonight had to make it clear how different our backgrounds are. I will never be the kind of man that your father or brother in-law are. No matter where I go I will continue to make people uncomfortable. I can't offer you a comfortable life within the ton." Taking a deep breath he continued, "if you wish, I will release you from the marriage contract. I know that you did not wish to marry..."

"Oh for the love of..." Sabrina interrupted, a slight tone of exasperation tinting her words. "I know that things aren't always going to be easy. If it wasn't your past that we had to deal with it would be something else."

Looking up into his face, Sabrina could see that he was sincere in his concern. "I appreciate the concern but I made my choice knowing full well what I'd be getting myself into."

Douglas took a deep breath as his heart once against started beating. He hadn't intended to make the offer, hadn't thought the words through before uttering them and wasn't sure he would have been able to honor them had she accepted. "I just want to make sure that you understand that this is just the first of many nights like this. There will be other dinner parties, other events in which I, we, are judged by my past."

"I know," Sabrina said softly, "but the fault for that is not yours. You should not bear the burden of your parents' choices."

"The day may come when you will resent..."

"No," Sabrina said simply. "I have my own past to contend with. You do not judge me for it, I will not judge you."

Douglas stared down at her and saw the truth in her eyes. Once again he marveled at his fortune at having found this woman. Of course, with the wonder came fear. What would he do when the time came to tell her the truth? He still had no answer, no idea of how or when to tell her. He could only hope that when the time was right he would know. Until then he would continue to hold her to him and hope that she would be able to forgive him. "Very well," he said, "until tomorrow."

Sabrina heard the promise and nodded. She wouldn't see him again until it was time to exchange vows. By this time tomorrow they would be husband and wife. "Until tomorrow," she said and watched as he slipped out the door and disappeared into the night.

The next morning Douglas stood waiting in a small room off of the main chapel. From the looks of well-worn carpet many a bridegroom had stood here before him waiting to meet their brides.

He waited alone; if he had been anyone else he might have waited with a brother or a friend, certainly a father. But he was Douglas Radcliff; his half brother was dead and he had very few friends.

He would admit, if only to himself, that he was a little morose at being left to wait alone. Of course, the prize he waited for more then made up for it. Lost in thought, it was a moment before he realized that there had been a knock at the door. "Enter."

"Douglas?" a soft, feminine voice called.

"Aunt Mae?" Douglas watched in surprise as his aunt poked her head into the room.

"May we come in?" Mae didn't bother waiting for an answer; hurrying across the room she wrapped her arms around Douglas and gave him a fierce hug. "Don't be mad," she whispered.

"Mad?" Douglas asked, confused.

"Hello, son." The current Duke of Spiegel stopped just inside the room watching as his sister embraced his only living child.

Douglas felt himself stiffen at the sound of his father's voice and the sight of him following Mae into the room. "Your Grace," Douglas gave his father a short bow. His arm still resting lightly on Mae's shoulders, he asked, "What are you doing here?"

Mae frowned, "You didn't think we would miss your wedding?"

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