Marrying for Money Ch. 04byharemgirl©
They reached Virginia the following afternoon, the storm having propelled them toward their goal at an accelerated pace. Leanna busied herself in their cabin, carefully packing their belongings into the cases and trunks while the men docked the ship and scrambled to secure all the sails. Then, there was the precious cargo to be unloaded, and Leanna repeatedly heard her husband's voice as he called out orders to his crew.
As the hours dragged on, Leanna became increasingly nervous about her impending meeting with Trevor's family. Would they like her? Would she like her new home? What would her role be? These questions and many more floated in her head as she paced before the window, fidgeting nervously. When Trevor suddenly appeared, she nearly jumped out of her skin in her agitation.
Trevor eyed her with concern as he closed the door behind him and crossed to her side. He turned her to face him and placed a finger beneath her chin, assessing her pale cheeks and the faint circles beneath her eyes. Last night, when he had woken her to make love, she had hung back, resisting his caresses as long as she could before giving in. He had wondered about it then, but he had been too aroused, and afterward too tired to delve into her reasoning. Now, he was determined to find out what was wrong, because his wife was definitely not herself. He tenderly traced her bottom lip with his thumb.
"What's the matter, Leanna?"
"Nothing, I'm fine."
Leanna looked down at her hands resting on his wide chest. How could she confront him about Eliza when he had never made any promises of love to her? Her pride wouldn't allow her to beg for his affection nor to admit the depth of her own love for him for as long as it wasn't returned. The last thing she wanted was to become a whining, nagging wife.
Trevor wasn't satisfied with her lame answer, and he pressed her further. "Have I done something to hurt you? If I have, I'm sorry."
"No, I'm just tired from the long journey. I'm anxious to see your home."
"Our home," he corrected with a smile. "I hope you will come to love it as much as I do." He paused for a moment, causing her to fidget under his close scrutiny. "Are you sure there is nothing else you want to discuss with me. I've noticed over the past few days that you seem somehow different, more reserved." He waited patiently for her answer as the moments stretched out in silence.
So he had noticed the changes in her, Leanna thought with surprise. She had begun to wonder if he even cared what she thought or felt. She shook her head slowly, unable to meet his gaze.
"No. I . . ." she stammered briefly, grasping for an excuse, "I'm not feeling all that well, because it's almost time for my monthly," she mumbled, blushing profusely from giving the lie. It had never been easy for her to lie about anything, and she bit her lip to still its quivering.
Trevor's brows raised in momentary surprise. He was still growing accustomed to the intricacies of his wife's monthly cycles, and he hadn't been thinking about that. He flashed her one of his roguish grins and assumed her blush was simply due to the delicacy of her statement.
"I had thought you might not have a monthly. I had begun to wonder if we had managed to make a baby together," he said softly, watching for her reaction.
Leanna's blush darkened by several shades, and she shifted uncomfortably beneath his gaze. "Would you like that?" she whispered. "To have a baby, I mean?"
Trevor brushed a wayward lock of her hair back from her upturned face, bending to catch her glance. "It is my fondest wish to have a baby with you," he breathed. "I'll be the proudest papa you've ever seen."
Leanna's gaze was snared by his compelling stare, and she finally broke the contact and turned to look out the window. Trevor wrapped his arms around her from behind and nuzzled the side of her neck.
"Of course, once you do get pregnant, there may be a few months when I won't get to enjoy your luscious little body," he murmured in a husky whisper.
His hands drifted up to cup both of her breasts and he began to twist her nipples nice and hard. Just as expected, she moaned and arched in his arms, thrusting her tits into his hands. He loved the way her body responded to his touch so readily, begging him to use her for his pleasure, and his voice took on a teasing note.
"On second thought, I don't think I'm ready to be without the services of my sweet little whore just yet. Maybe we should hold off on making a baby for a while longer. We are still newlyweds you know. There's no need to rush things."
The combination of Trevor's words, his hands, and those hot little kisses he was trailing down the side of her neck were enough to cause Leanna to soak her pantalets. Noticing that she was uncomfortable from his teasing, he chuckled and hugged her to his chest, breathing in her intoxicating scent. He could smell her delicious pussy, and he knew she was dripping wet.
"Oh Leanna, my sweet. You are truly enchanting. I can't seem to get my fill of you, and the more I indulge my appetites, the hungrier I become."
The words were galling to Leanna, as she stood surrounded by his strong embrace. He seemed to be confirming her suspicion that he thought of her as his plaything. Still, she could not summon the will to reject him, and she stood pliant in his arms.
With a sigh, Trevor finally released her and looked down at her with a boyish grin. "As much as I would like to bury myself inside you, now is not the time. It's time you had your first look at your new home. It will take at least two hours to get there, so we'd better get going."
Leanna tried to hide her disappointment as he ushered her out of their cabin. Trevor carried her cases in one hand and the small trunk with his clothes in the other. Once they got on deck, he turned over their luggage to one of the ship's mates with instructions to have them loaded onto his coach, and he tucked his wife's arm through his own to escort her off the ship. She waved goodbye and smiled to the many sailors who gathered to see them off, and they returned her smile, doffing their caps and waving.
As they descended to the pier, Leanna's eyes scanned her surroundings with curiosity. The docks reminded her of London, but on a much smaller scale. The waterfront was teeming with activity, as fisherman hawked their wares and harlots strolled about in scandalously revealing dresses. Several of them would have made a move toward Trevor, but Leanna chilled them with a cold glare and hugged his arm tighter against her bosom. She might have to concede that her husband was still in love with his former fiancée, but she would be damned before she would share him with a prostitute! She bristled when her husband chuckled beside her. He hadn't missed her jealous display, and he bent low to whisper in her ear.
"Don't worry, my sweet. These women have no idea that I am married to my own private little whore, and I have no need for their services."
Leanna narrowed her eyes as she flushed with anger and humiliation. How dare he taunt her! She turned away with a flippant shrug of her shoulders, but his repeated chuckle told her he wasn't fooled by her feigned disinterest in his sex life.
"What town is this?" Leanna finally inquired, not looking at her husband. She was still angry at him for teasing her, but her curiosity about this place was getting the better of her.
"This is Norfolk, but our home is almost a two hour drive inland. You cannot imagine how much the whole area has changed since the war. It took quite a toll on the people and the city, but now everything is thriving and growing so fast, I sometimes have a hard time recognizing the city."
As he spoke, Leanna saw a group of soldiers ambling down the pier, their dark blue uniforms making them stand out in the crowd. They all tipped their hats to a group of young ladies who were strolling along the boardwalk, but the ladies lifted their chins and turned away in pointed dismissal.
"Why are there still soldiers here if the war is over?" she inquired, chancing a glance at Trevor.
He met her gaze and smiled grimly. "It's part of the plan for reconstruction. The Yankees are here to keep us all in line and make sure we abide by the new laws they have imposed. It's martial law, in effect."
Leanna turned back to watch the soldiers as they disappeared from view. It was obvious from her husband's tone of voice that he was very bitter about the war, and she longed to offer a comforting word or gesture, but she remained silent. Only a few minutes had passed before a gleaming black coach pulled up, and Trevor gave instructions as their cases were loaded. Once they were inside, the coach lurched into motion.
Leanna reminded him of an eager child, as she took in their surroundings, sometimes pressing her face close to the window to get a look at something before it disappeared from view. Trevor smiled at her obvious enthusiasm, and he felt his chest swell with love for the charming woman beside him. She was so full of life and eagerness that she made him notice things as if for the first time.
As was quickly becoming his habit, he thanked Fate for dropping Leanna into his lap. More and more, he was convinced that they were meant for one another, and he couldn't imagine any other woman fulfilling the role of his wife. Every day he spent with Leanna brought him closer to making a declaration of love and loyalty, and strangely that notion didn't scare him as much as it once had.
Only when they finally passed through the outskirts of the city and entered the rolling hills of the countryside did Leanna relax back against the seat. However, she still kept her gaze on the view outside the window, not wishing to be drawn into a discussion with her husband. Trevor gave a slight frown of puzzlement as he watched her. He was at a loss as to how to get her to open up to him.
"You're awfully quiet," he finally drawled. "Are you sure you're alright?"
Leanna turned to meet his gaze and found real concern in his eyes. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you. I'm just a bit tired and anxious to reach your . . . our home."
He watched her closely, wondering what she wasn't telling him. He sensed that he had done something to hurt her, but he didn't know what. He placed a protective arm around her shoulders and pulled her to his side, as he settled comfortably into the corner of the seat.
"Why don't you sleep for a while? It'll be a couple of hours before we get home, and you could use the rest."
Leanna laid her head on his shoulder, eager to comply with his suggestion since it would relieve her of the necessity to answer his probing questions. However the idea of being able to sleep while she was nestled against his firm chest and his nearness played on her womanly senses seemed ludicrous to her. It was therefore surprising that before long, she was barely able to hold her eyes open, the rolling motion of the coach lulling her into a pleasantly drowsy state. It seemed like only moments later when the coach pulled to a stop, and Trevor squeezed her shoulder gently.
"We're home, my sweet."
Leanna's eyes flew open as he murmured the words close to her ear, and she jolted upright to look through the window. Trevor chuckled warmly and reached to open the door. Stepping down, he turned back to assist her, giving her a lopsided grin.
"Come, Leanna. You can see much better from outside."
Leanna gasped as she gazed around at her surroundings, gaining her fist sight of her new home. The plantation house was a huge, impressive structure, standing stark white against a background of breathtaking green hills. Although it was massive, it had been well designed, and its elegant lines blended seamlessly with the surrounding countryside. The house was two stories high, and a wrap around balcony was supported by elegant columns. A multitude of windows faced the front, framed by green shutters, and there was a wide porch that extended around the entire house.
Several huge oak trees framed the house, bathing it in thick shade and giving it an air of relaxed gentility. As far as she could see, fields of rich black dirt were ready for spring, when they would be planted with various crops, and a long row of outbuildings faced along the side of one nearby field. Everything was immaculately kept, with care and pride evident everywhere she looked. She turned to look at Trevor in wonder. It was obvious that he must be extremely wealthy to maintain such a large plantation. For some reason, she had been expecting a modest home, never dreaming that he was so rich.
Trevor winked at her with humor, guessing the path of her thoughts and pleased to see that she liked his home. "Welcome to The Meadows," he murmured in a husky voice.
He didn't wait for her to answer, but took her arm in his and lead her to the wide steps just as the front door burst open and a young man bolted outside. Leanna could see instantly that he must be Trevor's brother, for the two looked enough alike to be twins. Steven had the same coloring and general build, although Leanna noted that he was a couple of inches shorter than her husband.
"Welcome home, Trevor," Steven called with a broad grin, as he rushed to meet them. He eyed Leanna with curiosity, giving her a smiling nod of greeting.
Trevor clasped his younger brother in a fierce hug, clapping him on the back. "It is good to be home again," he said sincerely. "Steven, I would like you to meet my wife, Leanna."
Trevor turned to pull her forward into the crook of his arm, and Steven's face registered clear shock at the announcement. A slow smile spread across Steven's face as he scanned her features, and he reached to bring her hand up to his lips.
"Well, a wife is the very last thing I expected Trevor to bring home, but I have always loved surprises! I can certainly see why he chose you as his bride. My brother has always had excellent taste in all things of beauty, and he's outdone himself this time. Welcome to the family!"
Leanna blushed from his profuse compliments but felt instantly at ease with his friendly manner, and she gave him a dazzling smile, deep dimples appearing in her cheeks. "Why thank you. You are very kind, and Trevor has told me so many things about you."
"Well, don't believe everything he tells you about me. I'm really as innocent as a lamb."
"That is highly unlikely," came a smooth feminine drawl from behind him.
They all turned to see a young woman approach. She had rich auburn hair and large brown eyes, and she moved with grace as she came to stand beside Steven, even though she appeared to be in the late stages of pregnancy. She was pretty and petite, and she was clearly comfortable in the role of Steven's wife. She gave Steven a teasing grin.
"If you were as innocent as you claim, I wouldn't look like this." She rubbed her swollen belly, making them all laugh.
Steven placed an arm around her shoulders and faced his brother and sister-in-law. "This is my wife, Amanda," he announced. "Amanda, you already know Trevor and this is his wife, Leanna."
Amanda blinked with momentary surprise before she gave Trevor a warm smile. "Welcome home Trevor! We have been wondering when you would be here and whether you would arrive before or after the baby."
Trevor clasped her hands as he kissed her cheek and returned her smile. "I'm glad to be home again. I confess that when Steven wrote and told me he was marrying Amanda Wentworth, all I could remember of you was a scrawny little girl, all knees and elbows. I'm pleased to see that you've grown into a beautiful young woman. My faith in my brother's good sense has been restored. But you must be a patient woman to put up with the antics of my crazy brother," he teased her lightly.
Amanda chuckled with humor. "I don't put up with them, I simply put a stop to them."
Steven shrugged and both Trevor and Leanna laughed at his unrepentant grin. Amanda finally turned toward Leanna with a somewhat stilted smile, and her mouth appeared almost pinched as she extended her hand in greeting.
"It is nice to meet you, Leanna. It will be nice to have another woman around the house."
The coolness in Amanda's eyes belied her kind words, but Leanna clasped her hand in greeting. "I'm pleased to meet you as well, Amanda. I hope we can become friends."
Trevor and Steven seemed oblivious to the chill between their wives. They ushered them inside, speaking in excited voices about the journey and the news of the plantation. As they entered the house, Leanna's eyes skimmed the rooms, awed by their elegance and the obvious good taste of the person who had decorated them. Trevor pointed out various items of interest, and she was surprised to find that almost all of the furnishings had been purchased in the past few years.
"The Yankees didn't leave much," he said bitterly. "We lost everything but the house itself. I added furnishings slowly, as we were able to afford them."
"You did this? You decorated the house?" Leanna's amazement was evident on her face, and Trevor and Steven couldn't help but laugh at her reaction.
Steven was still chuckling as he commented. "I told you, my brother has excellent taste in all things of beauty."
Amanda turned to Leanna with a stiff smile. "It will still be a few hours before dinner. Why don't I show you to your room and you can settle in and freshen up a bit, while I arrange to have two more places set," she suggested.
Leanna nodded her agreement and followed her up to a large master suite. The room was decorated in cool blue and mint green, and Leanna wandered around, noting the luxurious appointments and the gleaming hard wood floors, interspersed with thick, plush rugs. A huge four poster bed dominated the room, and there were two tall wardrobes in opposite corners, presumably his and hers. There was a dressing table with a matching stool, and a beautiful desk with quills, ink and paper.
Several tall windows and a set of French doors opened, just as she had suspected, onto the wide balcony, bathing the room in an abundance of light and giving it a cheerful glow. Leanna opened one of them and, ignoring the chill, she stepped out to admire the breathtaking scenery. A river wound lazily through rolling fields of deep, luscious green, and she could see for miles all around. Amanda came to stand beside her.
"Everything you see around you and more is part of this plantation," she stated crisply, the pride evident in her voice. "Steven and Trevor have worked tirelessly to restore The Meadows to its former splendor, and as you can see, they have succeeded marvelously."
Leanna turned to her and smiled warmly. "It is lovely. You must be very proud."
Amanda seemed to be measuring her reaction. "Yes I am. I have been very happy here." She eyed her closely. "Steven and I had no idea that Trevor was planning to wed. Have you known each other for very long?"
Leanna bristled slightly but forced herself to remain outwardly calm. It was natural that Amanda would be curious about her, and she answered carefully.
"No, we met not long before Trevor was intending to return here. We had a whirlwind courtship and decided to wed."
Amanda raised one brow, nodding slightly. "Oh, so you really didn't have much time to get to know one another. It must not have been a love match then." She ran her hand absently over the smooth wood of the railing. "Were you intrigued by the prospect of being the lady of such a grand plantation?"
Leanna felt a flush of anger tinge her cheeks, and she met the other woman's gaze directly. "If you are implying that I married Trevor for his money, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, I thought he was merely a ship's captain and the owner of a moderately successful shipping company. He didn't tell me much about his home or his holdings. I certainly didn't know that he was so wealthy."