Ravendorf Ch. 03byBelle_in_south©
Leaves, grass, and pine needles quietly crunched underfoot as the duo walked silently through the towering trees. Quinn scowled as he followed Lila’s sullen lead. A painful throb shot through his head as the sun broke the canopy and pierced his blue eyes. He squinted and grunted. “Did you have too much to drink last night?” Lila asked, her voice a whisper in the wilderness.
He chuckled, rubbing his hand over his unshaven face. “These local breweries can make some strong stuff,” he answered. He regarded Lila from the corner of his eye as they walked. He knew something was troubling the woman he thought of as his sister. Her family had practically adopted him when he was just a little boy, and everyone assumed Quinn and Lila would one day be husband and wife.
She had barely said anything since she had returned from her ride yesterday. She had brushed her horse in quick motions, keeping her back to the other members of their small band of travelers. She had disappeared into her tent soon afterward and not even emerged to eat some of the succulent roast pig that Lord Ravendorf had sent them as a gift for their excellent performance. He had invited her to go with the boys to the local tavern. Lila’s voice and lithe dancing body never failed to earn them some free drinks and the attention of the local ladies.
Instead, he’d had to buy all his drinks and had gone home without easing the ache in his lower extremities. “You should have gone with us last night,” he mused. “There were several beautiful ladies at the tavern.”
“I spend so much time rejecting the local married men with their roots hanging out that it’s a waste of my time to travel with you and the boys.” She picked up a rock as she walked, studying the smooth contours of the pebble. “It’s really too bad that I’m not interested. I could make enough money in one night that we could stay in one place all year long.” She tossed the rock into the woods and exhaled slowly.
“Except your father would have your hide and mine, too, if that happened.” He tried to laugh, but the action made his head hurt more, so he returned to his squinted scowl. “I like when you travel with us. It’s easier to take home ladies when you get them all worked up, then only choose one.”
A wind whipped around the trunks of the trees. Lila’s dark, heavy hair flew around her face and she tried to force it to stay in place. She wore a purple blouse today that folded across her bosom. Her breasts swayed freely as she walked. The wind pushed her skirt against her strong legs. Quinn loved Lila’s body. He fantasized about how it would feel trembling against his own powerful muscles. He had tried once to make Lila share his fantasy, but she had promptly silenced him.
Ravendorf Manor loomed against the bright sky as they cleared the forest. Lila’s step faltered slightly and Quinn reached out to steady his friend. His rough fingers curled around her elbow. She resisted the urge to lean into him. Quinn had always been her safety net. Any time the wrong man had attempted to approach her in any of the local taverns, Quinn had been her protector. He’d taken the heat from jealous husbands and angry fathers for her. He’d suffered a broken nose and countless black eyes for her.
Lila led him to the rose garden gate without hesitation. He didn’t question her intimate knowledge of the Ravendorf grounds. Wherever they went, Lila often explored the area around their camp. They stepped through the gate and trod along the path surrounded by the climbing rose bushes. They fell into silence again as the path wound toward the courtyard. A movement to the left caught their attention and Lila’s stumbled again. She stopped. Quinn also halted, following Lila’s eyes to gaze through the greenery. A young woman knelt near one of the bushes, her hands pulling weeds and kneading the dirt around the base of the plant. Lila took a step toward the thick vegetation, pausing at the edge of the path. She leaned forward, watching the girl’s body move.
Quinn glanced from Lila to the young girl, then back to his friend. Even though the girl was dressed in little more than rags and had her blonde hair tied beneath a kerchief, Quinn recognized the young Mistress of Ravendorf and von Goring’s intended. He also recognized the look in Lila’s dark eyes. He gripped her elbow again, pulling her away from the vision on the ground. “I seem to recall a warning that involvement with that girl would end with a long sword,” he hissed.
Lila shrugged out of his grasp. “Go on to the garden, Quinn,” she ordered.
His frown deepened and he opened his mouth to continue his warning. “She’s engaged, Lila,” he growled through clenched teeth.
“I’ll end it,” she promised, handing him the basket she had carried from the camp.
He hesitated but knew that Lila had made her decision. “Be quick about it,” he snapped, taking the basket and storming away from the rose garden.
Lila took a deep breath and moved to the edge of the path again, peering at Margaret as she worked unassumingly with the rose bushes. She wore a plain yellow dress with a simple apron. Lila admired the curve of the noblewoman’s back and her round, slightly upturned bottom.
She hadn’t lied to Quinn. She intended to make sure things were over with Margaret. She didn’t want the young girl to have any misconceptions. She admired the small body, remembering the timid but curious way that Margaret had responded in the glade yesterday. Lila hadn’t responded to another person the way that she reacted to Margaret in a very long time. She had lovers. They didn’t camp many places where Lila didn’t join the boys in bedding a local peasant’s daughter. She’d had better luck than Quinn with the ladies. She could even list a queen as one of her conquests. Only one other woman had pushed her to distraction the way that Margaret did.
She glanced over her shoulder, knowing it would be best to join Quinn and never step foot on Ravendorf Manor’s grounds again. Instead, she tilted her shoulder and broke through the bushes. “This is not a job for the lady of the manor to be doing the week of her wedding.”
“You keep reminding me it is the week of my wedding,” Margaret responded without looking at Lila. Lila flinched a little at the lack of tenderness in the girl’s voice. Margaret sat up, wiping her hands on her apron. “This was my mother’s special place,” she continued, plucking at dead buds and leaves. “I feel close to her whenever I am here. The bushes were mother’s other children.”
“What happened to your mother?” Lila questioned, folding her arms around her middle. This awkwardness was a new feeling to the gypsy. She had always been in total control of her relationships. With Margaret, she could not keep her senses from somersaulting.
“She died in childbirth along with my brother,” Margaret answered.
“Your father visited the camp this morning. He invited us to come get vegetables from the manor while we are here.” Lila hated trying to fill the silence. She enjoyed the comfortable quiet that had accompanied them home from the lake two nights ago. Now, the silence felt oppressive.
“I know,” Margaret said, still not turning to look at the gypsy. She shifted her attention to another plant. “Did I do something wrong yesterday?”
“No,” Lila replied urgently. “No. You did nothing wrong.”
Margaret finally turned to Lila and the gypsy felt burned. Margaret’s green eyes, red-rimmed and swollen, held hatred, an emotion that Lila didn’t think the girl possessed. Lila loathed herself for making it possible for Margaret to know hate. “Then why did you treat me like a common whore?”
Lila fell to her knees beside Margaret, taking the dirty hands in her own, using her thumb to catch a tear and wipe it away. “I left because of this,” the Roma insisted. “The more we are together, the harder it is going to get to be apart. I don’t want to do anything that would make you not want to marry Herr von Goring.”
“I already don’t want to marry him,” Margaret admitted, allowing her fingers to entwine with Lila’s. “I didn’t want to marry him long before I met you, but I will. I will marry him because it is what is expected of me. Ravendorf Manor will need a lord after my father dies. He needs an heir. Phillip is . . .”
“A good match,” Lila finished. “You’ve said that.”
Margaret released Lila’s hands and went back to her rose bush. She tore at the weeds. “I asked you to show me . . . to make me feel good,” she said as she worked. “Instead, you used me, and left me alone, confused, and scared.”
Lila sprang, grabbing Margaret’s shoulders and pushing her to the ground. “I didn’t use you!” she snarled. “You asked for my help and I gave it willingly.”
“That doesn’t change the way you left me,” Margaret cried, trying to twist away.
Lila put one leg over Margaret’s body, holding both of the girl’s wrists in her palms to prevent escape. “Stop fighting me and listen to me!” Lila yelled. When Margaret still did not give way, the gypsy bent and pressed her lips to the noblewoman’s. Margaret continued to struggle for a moment, struggling against the strong body holding her prisoner. Lila’s kiss was hard, her teeth scraping against Margaret’s lips. Her tongue pushed until Margaret whimpered and opened to the invader.
Lila knew the moment that Margaret surrendered. The stiffness left her body and she relaxed into the yielding ground. Her lips softened, closing around the tongue exploring in her mouth. Their tongues rubbed together, sending electric shocks through both of them. Lila released Margaret’s hands, prepared to wrestle again if it proved necessary. Margaret’s arms circled Lila’s neck, holding her lover in the kiss. Lila pulled away, reluctant to leave Margaret’s sweet tasting lips. “You belong to someone else,” she whispered. “You could never belong to me.”
“Why do I have to belong to anyone?” Margaret asked in a breathless voice. She focused on Lila’s face, staring into the dark brown eyes that had haunted her sleep for two nights.
Lila stroked Margaret’s hair off her cheeks. “You said it yourself, that is the way the world works. You are going to marry him. If I let myself get attached to you, then I’m going to end up hurt. I’m sorry I upset you yesterday, but I have to protect myself.”
“Let me up, please,” Margaret requested, her voice a quiet, wounded whisper.
“Will you run?”
“No, I’ll stay,” she promised. Lila pulled away from Margaret, sitting at the young girl’s side. Margaret scooted away a little before sitting up. Lila attempted to stroke Margaret’s leg, but the girl pulled out of reach. “I am not your first girl.”
Lila heard the declaration in Margaret’s statement and shook her head honestly. “No, honey, you’re not.”
Margaret’s brow furrowed as she attempted to form her next question. “Have you only been involved with girls?”
Lila’s lips pinched together as she carefully considered her answer. “There have been men. I have not enjoyed those experiences.” She slid a little closer to Margaret. “I love the feel of a woman’s slim body pressed against me.” Lila’s fingertips touched Margaret’s breasts through the material of the dress, circling the nipple till it hardened and pushed against the material. “I love a woman’s breasts. I enjoy the way they respond to my touch. I could spend hours nursing at yours.”
A flush crept up Margaret’s neck to her cheeks and she lowered her eyes. “Men don’t blush the way that you just did, and I find that endearing. I want to make her blush more. I want to feel the heat as the color creeps up her body.” Lila’s thumb moved over Margaret’s slightly parted pink lips. “A woman’s lips are so soft, and inviting, and taste so wonderful. Her tongue, a small dart, dueling with my own, can make me melt. Soft, long hair, brushing against my face, my breasts, and my thighs is a delicious sensation.”
She leaned closer, her breath warm on Margaret’s face. She had not intended to seduce the noblewoman, but she could not stop herself. “I love to feel her breath, short and hot, on my neck, like yours is now. I love to hear a woman’s soft moans of pleasure turn to rapturous screams of delight.”
Margaret’s breathing was ragged by the time Lila finished her impassioned speech. Her breasts were rising and falling and she felt a pulse between her legs. She was leaning toward Lila, her body yearning for the gypsy’s touch. “I won’t belong to Phillip for a few more days.”
Lila shook her head. “You already do, darling.”
“Before I enter into this arranged marriage and am tied to Phillip for the rest of my life, show me what it means to be really loved.” She saw Lila’s hesitation. “Let me love you the way you loved me yesterday.”
Lila frowned, wanting nothing more than to grant Margaret’s request. For a few minutes, Lila wanted to not care about having her heart broken. She wanted to find bliss in Margaret’s arms. She leaned forward, placing her hand on Margaret’s hip. Her free hand combed through the long, blonde, healthy hair. She tilted her head, parting her lips.
Margaret placed her hand on Lila’s thigh, opening herself for the kiss. Lila’s firm lips touched hers. She didn’t resist at all. Her tongue met Lila’s, twisting with the playful intruder. Their lips rubbed against each other, trying to make the kiss deeper. Lila’s hands moved from Margaret’s face to her shoulders before cupping the small breasts through the dress. She squeezed, massaged, and caressed until a soft moan escaped from Margaret’s throat and floated into Lila’s mouth. Lila pulled back, her eyes focused on Margaret’s, and opened her own blouse, pushing it off of her shoulders.
Margaret gasped, her eyes focused on the large, brown globes. Lila’s skin was a consistent color and her nipples large and brown. Margaret wet her lips, lifting a shaking hand. Lila took Margaret’s pale hand and placed it over one of her breasts. Together, they stared at the contrast of Margaret’s light skin on the olive colored knoll. Margaret felt the nipple pucker and push into the center of her palm. Lila leaned in for another kiss, her hand moving on Margaret’s breast again, showing her young lover the touches that felt good. Lila’s tongue danced along the roof of Margaret’s mouth, behind the perfect teeth, and against the rough tongue.
The now familiar throbbing had started the moment Margaret had sensed Lila lurking at the edge of the bushes. The knowledge that the woman was nearby had made her blood quicken. It had been difficult for her to remain on her knees with her hands in the dirt while smelling Lila’s heavy scent. It had been even harder to remain angry once Lila had started speaking. Now, her anger had melted and all that mattered was Lila’s taste and touch. All that mattered was the girl’s eagerness to please her patient tutor.
Margaret’s fingers began exploring, at first mimicking Lila’s touch, then searching on her own. She used her fingertips to stroke the hardening nipple, and then rolled it. Lila whispered her pleasure and encouragement in Margaret’s ear as the young girl shifted her hand to the other breast.
Lila’s hands were working on the opening of Margaret’s dress. She worked the material off the smooth shoulders, her mouth following the descent of the material, kissing toward the peak of the first milky white orb.
Margaret exhaled sharply as Lila’s mouth covered her nipple. Her hand left Lila’s breast and delved into the thick black hair. She held Lila’s head to her breast, pushing into the wet warmth. Eagerly, Lila opened her mouth wider, suckling more into her mouth until her cheeks were full. She closed her eyes, enjoying Margaret’s soft sounds of pleasure and the gentle caress of Margaret’s hands. She curled her hand around Margaret’s ankle and worked slowly up the curve of her calf. Margaret groaned, her body twitching as Lila’s hand touched the inside of her thigh.
“Lila!” a voice boomed into the thicket. The voice did not penetrate the gypsy right away. Instead, she quickened her ministrations. Margaret’s body stiffened, and she pushed against Lila’s head, trying to pull away from the strong lips. Slowly, Lila became aware of the change in Margaret’s body. “Lila,” the voice growled.
Lila pulled away from Margaret’s body, looking briefly at her lover before turning to the source of the voice. Quinn was standing over them, holding the basket of vegetables in his hands, and glaring at his friend. “This isn’t ending it,” he hissed.
“Quinn,” she mumbled, dropping her eyes back to Margaret. Margaret was busy covering herself, trying not to look at either of the musicians. “Go on back to camp.”
“Not without you,” he insisted.
“I’ll be along shortly!” she yelled, her voice rising in pitch. She could see Margaret shutting down and knew she only had a few minutes before the window of opportunity would close.
“Get dressed, girl,” he ordered.
Lila cut her eyes to Quinn. “Give me a moment,” she requested. He hesitated, and then nodded his head, stepping back onto the path. The gypsy returned her attention to Margaret, who now had her back turned. Instinctively, Lila knew her lover was crying again. She crawled to kneel behind Margaret, touching her lips to the back of the smooth neck. “I’m sorry.”
“You talked about us?” Margaret asked in an unsteady voice.
“Quinn knows me well, sweet Maggie,” Lila explained, readjusting her blouse. “Maybe it is best that we were stopped. If we have another time, we’ll always want one more time. That’s not very fair to any of us, including Herr von Goring.”
“I don’t care about being fair to him!” Margaret snapped, pressing her face into her hand. Lila put her hand on Margaret’s shoulder, trying to find the words to comfort and explain. She stroked the girl’s arm. Margaret jerked away. “Just go. He’s waiting.”
In a panic, Lila tried to find a solution that would satisfy everyone. “Meet me tomorrow, in the glade.”
“No,” Margaret sighed, gathering her few belongings together and standing. “You’re right. Tell him that it is over.” She burst through the rose garden, glancing briefly at Quinn before sprinting away.
Lila tore after her, fighting through the thorns that tore at her skin, but Quinn kept her from chasing the young girl. “We’ve done this before, Lila, and I’ll not let you do it again,” he growled in her ear, his hands wrapped around her arms. “You are out of control. The last time you were out of control, we almost didn’t get you back. You have that look in your eye. You have the same look you had with Aidan.”
Lila spun on her friend, fire in her eyes. Her hand flew back and her palm landed with a snap across his cheek. He didn’t flinch.