Peking 1900 Ch. 03byjerseyblue©
Jack could feel her warmth as she moved against her. He moved his hand from the small of her back to the soft curve of her ass. She slid her hand lower along his stomach. He responded to Kate's touch.
"I see you are an early riser," she said.
Jack opened his eyes to see Madame de Montespan straddling him and beginning to move her hips.
Major John Percival had meet Madame at one of the frequent dinners he attended while in London. He was now the Ass't. Naval attaché at the American Embassy and besides the important work he did there, he found time for other things. Standing just over 6 feet with blue eyes and a fine build, Jack was in demand at all the fine dinners around town.
This latest one was given by England's opposite party leader but was attended by many of the current government's cabinet members. Jack was there with the US ambassador and acted as an extra set of eyes and ears for him. Representatives from the French Embassy were also there and with Jack being completely at ease with their language he was able to converse freely with them.
At this moment there were serious problems in Morocco. A recent agreement between England and France had given the French control of Morocco and Germany objected to it. The Kaiser had threatened war over it and attempted to bully the French. The US wanted to be a part of conference if one was going to held but needed information on which way things were going. Jack was part of the solution.
He was also good friends with an important member of the British foreign department. Michael Smyth-Beddoes survived his wound he suffered in China and had returned home to be elected to Parliament. Michael was a rising star in British politics and Jack knew it.
As a result of his wound, Michael had to walk using a cane. The doctors did what they could and managed to save the leg. The result was it was now 2 inches shorter and it meant the end of his time in Royal Marines.
"So Michael, any news on Morocco?" Jack asked.
"Not much movement yet," Michael replied taking a swallow of his drink. "We are going to back France though and the Navy has been put on alert."
"That's new. Of course it hasn't been announced yet." Jack knew how diplomacy worked. There had been no formal announcement yet but Germany knew about it. "Any ideas floating around?"
"We're hoping someone proposes a conference, neutral country maybe?"
"I see," Jack nodded. "How is Caroline?"
Caroline Clarkson was Michael's wife. It was her picture he carried in China and showed Jack. She was a handsome woman, just right for a MP on the rise. Jack was a little jealous of Michael to have such a woman to love. He was sure he missed his only chance for love.
"She's fine. I don't get home very much any more especially with this going on. You are coming this weekend?"
"Wouldn't miss it," Jack replied.
"Good. I'll see you there. I must go talk to Winston right now. Take care."
Jack was a little puzzled at the way Michael spoke of Caroline. In China, Michael would use any opportunity to talk about her. He couldn't say enough. Now this time and the time before, he was short and abrupt. Jack couldn't help but wonder.
For the rest of the evening Jack mingled. He talked to many people and also listened in on many conversations. At dinner he was seated next to Madame de Montespan, wife of the French foreign minister who was here. Madame was almost forty and full figured. She had a delightful sense of humor and loved the fact she could talk to Jack in French. She had a very good understanding of politics and knew many things. She also knew all the latest gossip.
"So Major, I understand you were at siege of Peking," she asked.
"Yes, I was. It was a rough time for all," he answered.
Madame leaned closer and brushed against him. He could smell her perfume. "Is that where you earned the name ' Mad Jack '?"
Jack stammered. "Yes I'm afraid that true."
Madame moved closer and rested her hand on his thigh. "Do not be ashamed. I heard that you were involved in many things and were very daring. There is a time when we all should go a little crazy. Don't you agree?"
The Madame stayed close throughout the rest of the evening and even though they both knew where the night was leading, the sparring and maneuvering was fun.
Making love with Madame was fun too. Both she and Jack understood that there were no strings attached so they were able to enjoy each other to the fullest. He found out that she was insatiable also and never needed to rest. Not that he minded.
As they lay together recovering from their morning passion, she said, " Jack, you were fantastic and I'm not just saying it. It has been a long time since I enjoyed making love this much. But all good things must end." With that she kissed him and rose from the bed. Walking away she said over her shoulder, "You can see your way out."
Jack entered his apartment in Grosvenor Square and headed up stairs. He needed some sleep but also some breakfast. He just didn't know what he needed most.
His valet, Johnson, followed him upstairs. "A rough night, sir?"
Jack gave him a glare. "A cup of coffee, black with sugar. I'm going to bed."
"Yes, sir," Johnson replied but didn't go.
"Now what, Johnson?" Jack was losing his patience.
"I would just remind you that you have a meeting at the Embassy in one hour. That should give you enough time to clean up. I laid out your other uniform for you."
"Damn," he said under his breath. "Yes. Thank you, Johnson. I still want the coffee."
The meeting went fine. All the important members of the delegation were there. Jack was able to tell the ambassador about the naval alert. The ambassador was unaware of it but had heard about the request for a conference. The alert made the need for one more urgent and he planned to cable President Roosevelt right away.
"May I ask where you got your information, Major Percival? I assume your sources are good," the ambassador asked.
"A gentleman never reveals sources, sir." Jack smiled. He thought it better to leave as much to their imagination as possible.
"Hrrmph. Yes, yes." The ambassador coughed. "Very well, that is all. I will see you all Monday, bright and early." It seemed he directed that last statement towards Jack.
Jack took the afternoon train out of King's Cross Station as he headed north towards Michael and Caroline's home. He was going to take the opportunity to catch up on his sleep. He also was going to do some reflecting.
As far as his decision to join the Marine Corps, Jack had no regrets. He was going to blaze his own course without the influence of his father and he had. He was well known outside the Corps by important people and he found his opinion mattered to them. He was the youngest major in the Corps and was definitely going places.
His father had been won over and after Jack returned from Peking, he visited the family home on the Chesapeake. It was a little uncomfortable at first but by the time the visit ended, it as if nothing had occurred to cause the split. Jack felt his father was pleased that he had acquired a nickname, a good fighting name.
Jack felt he owed it to his stepmother for the ease in which the meeting went. Calmly she worked on the old sailor and brought him around. Jack also told her everything that happened between Kate and him. She gave him as much advice as she could. She tried to get him to understand that he felt awful about being unable to follow through on his love but he would get over it in time. But she was wrong. He could never forget Kate. He felt her locket against his skin under his shirt.
Upon his arrival in Chesterford, he hitched a ride out to his good friends' home. Their home was somewhat large and Michael's family came from old money. Caroline's family was what one would call 'new money' as her father made it from the railroad. The home seemed just large enough.
Caroline greeted him at the door. "Jack, it is so good to see you. I thought you might not be able to make it."
"I wouldn't miss a chance to see you," Jack laughed. There was more truth behind the statement that he cared to admit.
Even though he had seen her picture it seemed like a thousand times in China, it wasn't until he met her at the wedding that he realized what a women she was.. She was physically the opposite of Kate with auburn hair, green eyes, and a petite frame but she has the same zest for life Kate had. She made the time spent with her enjoyable. And it seemed the past year and a half Jack was spending a lot of time with her.
At first it was the three of them attending the theater or symphony. Many times Jack brought another women or Caroline brought one for him. But the last 6 months Michael claimed he was too busy and instead of letting Caroline miss these occasions, he urged Jack to take her. It was becoming a regular thing. No one gave a second look as it was common practice in popular society at the time. The King did it regularly with his lady friends.
"Is Michael here?"
"No. He is taking the night train. He said the crisis is moving quickly and he must do some work on it." Caroline shrugged her shoulders.
Jack stopped. "Then perhaps I should leave until he arrives."
"Jack Percival, you will do no such thing!" Caroline slid her arm through his. "Besides I need to talk with you about something." She lowered her voice.
They headed towards the garden. Jack waited for Caroline to talk. When she began she looked straight ahead. "I don't know where to start. Michael has changed."
"In what way," Jack asked.
"He is totally involved in his work. He always has an excuse why he can't be home or with me."
Jack tried to be diplomatic. "He has a very important job and I'm sure he has good intentions."
"Jack," she said turning to him, "He is drinking quite a lot. I think his leg is paining him but he won't let me know. When I ask him, he brushes me off."
"Caroline," Jack said placing his hands on her shoulders. "He is trying to be strong. He loves you."
"Really?" She spun away from him. She turned back with tears in eyes. "If that is true then why hasn't he touched me in almost a year? Why then?"
Jack was struck dumb by her statement. He didn't know what to say or do but what he did next seemed right. He put his arms around her and held her close. "I'm sorry," he said.
Caroline buried her face into his chest. She put her arms around him and held tight. It felt so good to feel his strong arms around her. She tried to mold her body into his.
Their embrace lasted longer than it should have considering their relationship. As they parted, both realized it too. They stood looking at each other, understanding they had crossed the line and things might not be the same again. They stared at each other for a moment.
"I better go, Caroline."
"No! Jack. It will be alright." Caroline pleaded with him.
Jack looked at her and smiled. He couldn't go. "All right."
The rest of the evening past slowly as the two of them tried to keep a distance between themselves. They talked about the week's events, the weather, everything but each other as they awaited Michael's arrival. As it became late, Caroline went upstairs to bed. Jack stayed up hoping to have a word with Michael but when he arrived, Michael reeked of cheap booze. Jack knew now wasn't the time but tomorrow would be.
Jack had a very restless sleep as the events of the day preyed on his mind. The embrace in the garden had so many meanings. Each one bothered him. She was right. Michael had changed and it was obvious. Most of all he felt he was betraying his best friend and Caroline too. She needed his support not his lust. What would tomorrow bring?
It started at breakfast with Michael's announcement. "I won't be here for the dinner tonight. I'm needed back in London."
"Please Michael, you promised," Caroline said putting her fork down. "Surely they can miss you for one day. The dinner was your idea."
"Look, some things are more important than a dinner," Michael's voice began to rise. "I'm sure you can manage."
"What do you mean by that?"
"Jack can take my place." He turned to Jack. "You would like that, wouldn't you?"
Jack threw his napkin down. He could feel the anger rising in his face. Rising up to his full height, he said, "Michael, we need to talk, now. The study, perhaps?"
"I agree and it is over due."
The two excused themselves and headed to the study. Jack shut the doors and Michael limped over to where the brandy was. He poured himself a glass. "Drink, Jack?"
"It's a little early, don't you think?"
"Not really. Now, what's on your mind?"
"All right. Are you out of your mind? Why are you treating Caroline like this? She is your wife, for God's sake!"
"Yes, she is and I'll treat her any way that pleases me. What business is it of yours?" He took a big swallow
"I'm your friend and her's too. When we in China, you worshipped her. What happen?"
"Oh yes China." Michael waved his hand. "Well, that was long time ago, my friend." He suddenly threw his glass on the floor. "You saved my life and became a hero. 'Mad Jack' Percival! I was left with a leg that is two inches shorter. No good to any one. I found out what I'm good at and I don't need her or anyone. I'm going places."
Jack was confused by Michael's talk and what he was trying to say. "Listen to yourself. She wants to be with you, at your side, to see you succeed. She married you for who you are."
"Coming from the man who believes in the purity of marriage," Michael's voice dripping with sarcasm. "The man who has sullied many a married bed. Madame de Mountespan being your latest conquest. How many are there, Jack? Of course, you loved the Baroness. Any others?"
Jack moved closer. His fists were clenched and he knew that he might strike Michael. He needed to stop him.
"Oh and there is one more," Michael smiled an evil smile. "The lovely Mrs. Smyth-Beddoes. Is she as good as the Baroness?"
At that Jack lost control and struck Michael in the face. Losing his balance,Michael staggered and fell to the floor.
"How American of you," Michael said wiping a trickle of blood from his mouth.
Immediately Jack moved to help him but Michael pushed him away.
"Leave me alone," he said struggling to his feet. "I should ask you to leave but since it is I who is leaving, I won't. Our friendship is over, Percival. What we once had is finished. I request that if we meet again, it will only be in our line of work. Stay here as long as you want and take anything you need. I bid you, adieu." With that, Michael left the room.
Jack needed that drink now.