Heart of Stone Ch. 18bypsyche_b_mused©
Mary stood in the shower and let the hot water wash the tension of the past few hours from her skin. The yelling had started even before everyone was assembled. Neither she nor Robbie could rein the others in. Aiden's booming voice worked well enough to get everyone's attention, but no one was willing to listen beyond that. Unless Aiden wanted to shout the entire time, it was clear that nothing was going to be accomplished as a group. She went to the other end of the dining room with Robbie, Nigel and Caroline and the gargoyles, allowing the others to shout and fling insults to their heart's content.
She ran her fingers through her hair, massaging her scalp, trying to get the tension in her forehead to relax. When it came right down to it, the only change they were looking at was in the timeline of events. With the new insight, their opponent was going to be able to structure and direct his assaults on the group's weakest points. While the others argued, they worked out a plan to wake one of the remaining gargoyles every week, along with strictly monitoring and perfecting Mary's defenses daily. She could tell that Aiden wasn't pleased with that, but he knew it was the best thing in the situation.
She wasn't sure that she liked it either. The new ones were able to communicate relatively well after a week, but Esme was still adjusting to the cultural differences, so were the others. There was the matter of clan differences, too. Mary worried that waking the others too quickly would cause a schism between those who supported Aiden, and those who didn't. That couldn't be a good thing for anyone.
The doorhandle rattled, breaking through the white noise of the shower and the worries spinning in her head.
"Mary?" Aiden called.
"Just a minute." She stepped out of the water, wrapped herself in a towel as best she could. She unlocked the door and opened it for him. Aiden ducked through the low frame, then shut the door behind himself.
"You never lock doors." His heavy brows were drawn together.
"I know." Mary sighed. "For some reason I'm just not feeling very secure right now. There are so many strangers in the house, not to mention all the weirdos outside."
"You cannot believe that any of them would walk into your room without being invited, let alone your bathroom." He cupped her cheek and looked into her eyes.
"Logically, no." She sighed.
"Tomorrow you will meet the ones you have not met yet." He opened his belt and undressed. "Robbie and the rest will respect your privacy, I am certain of that." He kissed the top of her head, and took the towel away from her.
"How do you know I'm not done." She laughed softly.
"I do not smell your soap or your shampoo." He smiled a little.
"Then you can help." She got back under the water and handed him a shampoo bottle. He chuckled and squeezed a bit into his large hand. "I thought you were out with the others."
"I was, but time with you has become so precious." He stood behind her and began to work the shampoo through her hair.
Mary leaned her head back and enjoyed the light scraping of his talons against his scalp. No matter how many time he did it, she was always amazed that his talons, which had wounded her so many times in the past, could apply just the right scraping pressure to her scalp. Relaxation spread down down her back.
"I'm glad you're here." She sighed.
"Because you like it when I wash your hair?" She could hear the little smile.
"Yes." Mary laughed softly. "And because today has been so awful I needed to feel close to you."
He turned her around and kissed her lightly. Mary closed her eyes and tilted her head back into the water at his direction. When her hair was rinsed, he combed some of the conditioner through it with his fingers. Mary sighed.
"Maybe you should open a salon." She said.
He chuckled. "I do not think that is what my father had in mind for me. Besides, I like doing it for you only because I know how much you enjoy it." He leaned down to whisper in her ear. "And I get to see you like this." He pinched her nipple lightly between two strong fingers. A giggle and a moan mixed.
"I should have known it wasn't entirely altruistic." She smiled and ran her hands up over his chest and then down to his hardening member. His moan rumbled off of the tiled walls, his head tilted back.
"If you are not able I will understand." His wings trembled when Mary began to stroke him more fully.
"I can't think of anything in the world I would rather do at this moment." She stood on her toes to kiss him and promptly lost her balance. He chuckled and caught her.
Mary sighed. "I'm never going to be able to be spontaneous again."
"Of course you will, though it may take a few more months." He bent down, letting his tongue explore her mouth. Mary moaned and leaned into him, her tongue teased his, her desire simmering along with his. "Let me help you finish." He murmured against her mouth.
"We could wait," she nipped his lower lip lightly. "Until after."
His hands moved over her back and down to her bottom grasping it, pulling her a little closer.
"What is to stop us from coming back?" His lips traveled down the side of her neck.
Mary moaned, her eyes closed. "Nothing."
"Then allow me to help you finish." He kissed her forehead and stood up again. He retrieved shower gel and a soft washcloth.
He started at her shoulders, gently massaging her muscles as he cleaned her skin. Mary relaxed, letting him move her body. Though the gentle, stroking touches were similar to those from earlier in the day, these were clearly calculated to add to her building arousal.
The cloth lingered on her swollen stomach and then moved up over her breasts. His tail moved up between her legs, and then inside her. Mary moaned, her eyes closed. Her hands moved over his stomach and then down lower. His tail started to move inside her as she stroked him. Her little moans mixed with his low growls, and for a few minutes nothing else in the world mattered. She was so close her knees were trembling, but he stopped before she could finish.
"Aiden-" She moaned. The cloth drifted over her legs, teasing her inner thighs and the tender place between them, sending new shivers through her. His mouth found hers and lingered there while he turned off the water. Eventually, he broke the kiss and handed her the towel she'd been wrapped in earlier.
"Dry off, dear one." He kissed her forehead lightly and stepped away from her to shake the water off of his wings. His fine scales felt like human skin to the touch, but they shed water much more efficiently. He brushed at his body with a towel and kissed Mary one more time.
"I'll be out in a minute."
"Take the time you need, dear one." He smiled a little and left her alone in the bathroom.
It took Mary longer to finish. She left the nightgown in the bathroom and wrapped her robe around herself. In the bedroom, a few candles were softly glowing. Aiden had arranged two on the king sized pillows and one long body pillow on the bed.
"Awww." The disappointed sound was marred by the little smirk on his face. Mary noted that he hadn't bothered to dress again, and his desired hadn't waned in the slightest.
"What? I had to bring it out anyway." She toyed with the sash of the robe, a little smile on her lips.
"You could have carried it." He tugged at the end of the sash, untying the bow.
"Impatient." She giggled and took the robe off.
"If I were impatient I would have found a way to take you in the bathroom." He held out his hand to her. Mary took it and let him guide her into bed.
Her mouth found his, his tail found its way between her legs again. She pressed down against it. Her tongue danced with his. Her hand wrapped around his shaft, pressing against the underside of it with her thumb. A low, purring growl was building in his chest. It mingled with her own little whimpers and moans of growing need. This tip of his tail found the nub of her pleasure. The flickering sensations were almost enough to bring her over the edge. She realized that he must've been close too, because he grasped her wrist, removing her hand from his shaft.
His lips softened, his hands started to move her body onto the pillows. Mary turned so that her back was to him, her body was supported by the pillows. He settled behind her, his teeth nibbling gently on her neck, one of his arms supported her head, the other wrapped around her body. The broad tip of his erection brushed against her entrance, then pressed against her firmly. Mary whimpered and tensed. Her hand quickly found and gripped his, her nails bit into his skin. The painful pressure eased.
"Child?" She could hear the concern in his voice.
"Slower, please." Her voice quivered. His lips feathered over her temple and ear.
She relaxed her grip on his hand. He pinched and rubbed her nipple until she moaned and pressed down against him. He maintained a constant pressure, letting her body relax around him until he was as deep inside her as she was comfortable with.
For a moment, he stayed still inside her. His talons teased her nipples, his tongue traced the shell of her ear. Mary felt completely taken over by him. She turned her head finding his mouth and pressing him hips back against him. He began to move inside her, and she moved with him. His tail moved around and flickered against the swollen bundle of nerves when his hips gained momentum. She cried out sharply against his mouth, feeling the tension building in his stomach. His movements became more erratic, Mary let her own release overtake her. She screamed, he growled when she clenched around him. He pressed deeper and held onto her hips, keeping himself buried deeply. Just from feeling his release, her own pleasure crested again.
Mary let the world and all the anxiety associated with it slip away for a few blissful moments. All that existed was Aiden and the way he made her feel.
The next morning, Mary walked into the kitchen to find a heated argument going on between Bennett and a young woman she had never seen before.
"-and for another, this ain't even your house!"
"Now you listen to me my girl, you're here to assist Miss Beeson, just like the rest of us."
"That don't mean I have to listen to you." The blond girl crossed her arms. "And I'm not here for her neither. I'm here for Mr. Milbourne and nobody else."
"Good morning." Mary said uncertainly. "Am I interrupting?"
"Breakfast is over." The blond girl said.
"Connie!" Bennett looked shocked. "Did you need something Miss?"
"Well, I was hoping to get some breakfast." Mary was unable the keep the uncertainty out of her voice.
"Of course, Miss." Bennett said. The girl rolled her eyes. "Mrs. March prepared eggs with bacon and sausage this morning. Would that do?"
"Not the eggs. Maybe some sausage, toast and some carrots." Mary said.
"Carrots?" The girl asked.
"Cooked or raw, miss?" Bennett asked. If he was surprised, his voice didn't betray it.
"Raw, please." Mary smiled shyly.
"Shall I bring it into the dining room with some tea?" He asked.
"Yes, please." Mary smiled nervously at the blond girl and left the room. She found a copy of "David Copperfield" in the library, then went to wait for Bennett or someone to come in.
The night before, Maureen had announced that breakfast would be a buffet available between eight and eight-thirty. Lunch would be served promptly at noon, tea at four and dinner at eight. The schedule worked for her, except for breakfast. Her morning schedule became more fluid since she started spending time with Aiden. She wasn't used to feeling like she was putting anyone out though. She tried to read, but she found herself at the end of the page without any understanding of what she had just read. She sighed and put the book aside. She leaned back and closed her eyes. A few minutes later, she heard Bennett clear his throat.
"Are you well this morning, Miss?" He set a tray on the table in front of her. She took the napkin that he offered.
"Yes. I'm just feeling a little off balance with all of this still." The smell of the food was making her mouth water.
He took plates and utensils off the tray and arranged them in front of her. "I imagine it's very different than what you've become accustomed to."
She laughed a little. "You can say that again. I don't know what it's like to have a staff of more than two people. Half the time Caroline and I pitch in and do almost as much as Maureen and Joanna."
"At their request?" He sounded shocked.
"Oh no! It's just that when I came here I was used to doing things for myself, so I just kept on that way. Everything was getting done so I didn't think I needed to hire anyone else. I've had to slow down a bit recently." She ate some of the sausage, instantly calming the wave of nausea that was building. He took a pot of coffee off of the tray. "That smells so good, but I can't have coffee."
"Mr. Barnaby will be joining you momentarily."
"Unless you'd prefer to eat alone." Robbie said from the door.
"No, not at all." Mary was glad to see a friendlier face.
Bennett finished taking the rest of the items off of the tray. "Will either of you be requiring anything else at the moment?"
"No thank you." Mary said.
"I think I have everything I need as well, thank you Bennett." Robbie prepared the cup and then poured a cup of coffee for himself and watched Bennett leave.
"Did you sleep well?" He asked.
"I did. Where is everyone? With so many people in the house I expected more activity."
"Well, a number of us are able to telecommute so Mrs. March directed us to set up in your drawing room. Nigel and Jenna are setting up some sort of treatment room in one of the unoccupied guest rooms. I hope that's not too inconvenient."
"Not at all. I don't spend much time in the drawing room and if there's an unoccupied guest room it's not likely to be occupied any time soon." Mary finished the sausage and started nibbling at the carrots.
"Good, none of us mean to put you out. I know that having us all here has been rather shocking. As far as the others, I'm not sure where they are. I haven't seen anyone else since breakfast. It is a lovely day though. I wouldn't doubt if they're outside taking a bit of air. Carrots?" He smiled a little.
"I know it's a little silly, but sometimes I think the baby just wants certain things. Even if it's the totally wrong time of day." She smiled a little.
"Who's to say when the right or wrong time is?" He chuckled. "Have you had a chance to meet the rest of the servants?"
Mary looked away. "I don't think some of them want to meet me. Besides, it's not like they work for me."
"That's true and it's not true. Each person brought who brought a servant with them meant it as a kind of a contribution to your household. While they're here, they ultimately answer to you."
"That doesn't mean I know what to do with any of them." Mary said.
He smiled. "Luckily you don't have to. You have Mrs. March and Bennett, and I'm certain that Mrs. Bennett will assist as well."
"I'm not sure what you mean." Mary admitted.
"Servants are separated into upper staff and lower staff. I dislike those terms, but you can think of it like a company. The CEO has direct contact with very few members of his staff. They all know who he is, but he communicates to those in his inner circle and they disseminate information to the rest of the employees. A household is much the same. You have direct contact with the upper staff, namely Mrs. March and Bennett. They manage the lower staff on a day to day basis."
Mary shook her head. "I'm not very good at giving orders, Robbie."
"The lovely part about this is, that you don't have to be. Bennett and Mrs. March will take care care of that part. When you meet the others all you have to do is to tell them what you expect of them."
"Sounds like you have this all planned out already." She smiled a little.
"Well, last night there wasn't a great deal of time for introductions. I thought this morning might be a better time." He poured himself another cup of coffee.
Bennett appeared a few minutes later to collect the dishes. He asked him to come back with Mrs. Bennett and Maureen. Between the three of them, they worked out a plan to keep the house running smoothly.
"What about Aiden and the others?" Mary asked.
"I'm not sure I know what you mean, Miss." Bennett said.
"Well, it's just that to Maureen, Joanna and I, seeing the gargoyles wake up and move around, both outside and inside the house is normal. I don't want Aiden and the others to feel like they're being stared at. This is their home too." Mary said.
"Certainly the others are aware of Aiden and the others," Maureen paused. "I think. I don't think any of them were there last night when all of you were in the dining room." She started to look worried. "I see what you mean, Miss."
"I doubt that the others would have brought anyone who has no awareness." Robbie said.
"You'll forgive me, but meeting Mr. Aiden for the first time can be rather shocking." Bennett said. "I believe it's only human to stare at first."
Mary smiled a little. "It was a shock to me too."
"I think the best approach would be to meet the staff yourself and then, if the gargoyles feel comfortable, introduce Aiden and the others tonight." Robbie suggested.
"I think that's a wise idea, Miss." Maureen said.
"Alright." Mary said. "When will all the others be together again?"
"Whenever you want them to be, Miss." Mrs. Bennett said.
"Give me twenty minutes then." She wanted to be done with it. Mary was decidedly uncomfortable playing the role of 'lady of the manor', even in this limited way.
Twenty minutes later, Bennett led five women of varying ages into the dining room. All were wearing simple black dresses, two wore white aprons. All eyes were on Mary. She glanced over at Robbie, he smiled slightly. Mary was reassured by the small gesture.
"I'm Mary Beeson. I'm sorry I wasn't available to greet you all as you arrived, and I appreciate you coming and being so willing to assist Mrs. March and Joanna. If you have any skills that might be of special assistance, please let one of them know. You'll be receiving your assignments directly from Mrs March or Bennett. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to meet all of you, and know who you came with."
"I'm Eliza, I came here with Miss Veronica." The dour-looking woman said.
"Lila, with Mr. Quentin." A plump girl with frizzy hair said.
"Alice, with Mr. Andrew." The girl looked nervous. Mary wondered why, but figured if she worked for Andy she might be nervous too.
"Emma, with Miss Ramona." The girl smiled, her eyes sparkled.
"Connie, with Mr. David." The blond from the kitchen said. It was clear that she was still upset by this turn of events. Mary didn't know what to say so she ignored it. "I work for him, not for anyone else either."
"That'll be enough of that. You're not on vacation here." Bennett said sharply. He looked at the others, his voice softened. "Mrs. March has your assignments in the kitchen."
Mary and Robbie were silent until the group of servants had disappeared into the kitchen, some silently, some grumbling.
Mary sighed. "I get the feeling I made a mistake."
"Why? Because of Connie?"
"She's right. I don't have any authority over her." She rubbed the side of her stomach lightly.
"I'll let you in on a bit of gossip," Robbie started with a little smile. "Connie provides more than just maid service for David."
"You mean they're-?" Mary was surprised.
"That's the rumor that's going around. Seeing her reactions, and how cranky David was when he couldn't find her earlier this morning I tend to think it's true."