The Devil's Inheritance Ch. 04bysushi_taco©
His discovery of her in the millpond overwhelmed Sophia's thoughts. As she had touched herself, her mind had swum with the dark fantasy of James taking her there in the still water. Without warning her vision became real as he had dragged her down over his swollen cock and held her trembling form in his arms. She fought back these thoughts, angry and fearful that James would take her behavior to mean that she needed him.
But in that swirl of conflicting emotions the truth was inescapable. She did want and need him. Powerfully. Sophia went to her room and stripped off her rumpled wet chemise, using it to towel-dry her wet hair.
"Why are you in here?"
Sophia shrieked and startled turning to face James, dropping the chemise, naked as the day she was born. His mouth curled upward in amusement before his eyes narrowed at her once more. She looked at him, confused and bewildered, "I'm here because this is my room. Why?"
"This isn't your room, its Katje's and Aletta's room."
She straightened up, her heart racing. Was he throwing her out now that he was done with her? A chill crept up her spine as she imagined her dim future as a ruined and penniless woman, "What do you mean?"
"Your room is upstairs. You are mistress of this house."
She looked at him aghast, trying to form words, "I not mistress of anything. I am an indentured servant of this farm—"
"No. You are bound only to me, and I will not have you sleep in the servants quarters," he said folding his arms. Sophia opened her mouth to protest but was cut off by James, "Your purpose here is to warm my bed and to keep it warm in my absence."
"So that is why you sent them; to keep me in your bed? You could have at least written me to let me know they were coming instead of them show up on the doorstep."
James raised an eyebrow at her, "You can read?"
"Yes, I can read! That's hardly the point," she stopped herself too late. If he knew she could read, it would arouse his suspicions. If he suspected or knew of the letter at all, then he knew that she would be seeking it out. She silently cursed herself. Now she would have to move ever more carefully around him.
Her statement took James aback. A country servant girl knowing how to read was unheard of. He would ask about this later but for now his eyes scanned her nude body, flaxen tresses her only covering, and advanced forward ready to take her here and now, silencing her protests once and for all. They both startled as they heard the gate screech open outside. In a single motion he grabbed her by the wrist, and scooped up her cast off chemise, dragging her out to the foot of the staircase, "I'd love to continue this conversation with you, dear, but it seems our servants have arrived home early. Now go upstairs."
He playfully smacked her on the bottom. Sophia shrieked as she scampered up the steps before stopping at the landing, "I have no clothes!"
"I hardly see that as a problem," he said, waving her cast off chemise back and forth in his hand.
James watched her give him an adorable look of indignation before she darted into the room and shut the door behind her. Outside she heard the muffled sounds of the clinking of coins and James speaking to Katje in Dutch as she tried to avoid the front windows. Sophia gave up and climbed under the bed sheet, listening to the language. She had guessed he would be educated. He'd already spoken to her in a little bit of French, she recalled blushing, so she wasn't terribly surprised he also knew Dutch. She looked out the window next to the fireplace to see Katje taking his horse to the barn as James walked in with a long flat box.
Moments later, she heard the staccato of his feet ascending the stairs. The door opened. James burst through with the box under one arm before spying her in the bed, the sheet pulled up demurely under her chin. He couldn't stop chuckling, "You're a little premature Sophia."
She wrinkled her nose, "I had to cover myself up somehow since you stole my chemise."
"Well I've solved both of those problems. Here," he said heaving the box onto the bed, "Try this on."
She let the sheet fall, giving James an unintentional full view of her breasts as she crawled over to the foot of the bed and examined the box. Sophia undid the satin ribbon and pulled the lid off. James didn't expect the flummoxed look on her face as she pulled out its contents. She examined the dress, a pale green and cream paisley gown with loose box pleats in the back from the collar to the hem. The front sloped in a low square cut, edged in white lace. The sleeves cut off at the mid arm, framed with the same white lace from the plunging neckline. She looked in the box to find a coordinating white sleeveless chemise in the finest silk she had ever seen with delicate lace straps and neckline, and below that a light green silk and cotton herringbone set of stays, with gently curved boning and the satin ribbon already loosened.
Her eyes glittered and a smile curved her lips before looking up at James, his arms folded and his countenance triumphant as he watched her open the box. Where there was once a whirl of delighted expressions crossing her uncensored face, her expression tightened when she realized James was observing her. The disdainful crinkle returned to Sophia's nose, "When exactly do you expect me to wear this? While I'm cleaning the soot out of the hearth?"
"You will wear it when we dine together. Tonight," he said as Sophia looked at him with feigned disregard. She saw something in his eyes, and it wasn't anger or lust. Was it hurt?
"Dine with you? Why would you want me to—"
"As our part of our bargain, you agreed to let me have you where I want, when I want, for as long as I want. And tonight you will dine with me downstairs before I take you to bed. Unless of course you would prefer to sleep at the crossroads," James stiffened and glared at her, his eyes once more betraying nothing.
He turned on his heels and walked out of the room, slamming the door behind him. His departure quelled any protest she may have had. Before trying and failing to bed the blonde whore at the Rose Tavern, he had taken her as a model to measure for Sophia's dress. She had been more than happy to oblige for an extra three shillings she didn't have to lay on her back to earn; never mind the sack of guineas he'd thrown the tailor when the dress was completed.
James had watched the look of excitement course over Sophia's face when she saw the dress and realized that it was the first time he had seen her genuinely pleased. He had seen Sophia angry, frightened, sad, solemn and in the throes of passion, but never content. He felt himself swell seeing that look on her face, and not just below the waist. But her happiness has disappeared when she looked up at him. James just shook his head. She hated him.
Sophia slumped after he shut the door. She looked at the dress again, confused as to why he would give it to her. The careful, fearful side of her said that it was because he didn't want to admit to having a lowly indentured servant for a mistress, so he was dressing her up like a fantasy doll. The hopeful, vulnerable side of her, which she hadn't acknowledged for longer than she cared to admit, said that this was a gift, an act of tenderness, perhaps even the best apology a man like James could offer for his initial treatment of her.
She heard more Dutch conversation downstairs and watched Katje climb back into the empty milk cart with Aletta and drive off again toward Ashford. They were alone in the house now. She half expected James to come upstairs again and decided to put some impediments between her naked body and his desire for it.
She slipped the chemise over her head. Cool silk hung on her curves, caressing her skin. She hadn't felt something this soft since the fine dresses she had worn as a young girl. Those memories were quickly pushed to the back of her mind where they belonged as she slid the stays over her head. Sophia grasped at the ties in the back and realized that she couldn't string it together herself properly.
She opened the door and tiptoed out, seeing James stop in his tracks at the base of the staircase. He looked up at her coldly, waiting for the shrew to speak.
"James?" Sophia said meekly, almost surprising him with her soft demurring voice.
"Hmm?" he responded cautiously.
"Can you please help me with this?"
He locked his eyes to her and walked up the stairs slowly, watching her tense as she held the front of the stay to her breasts, the strings causing it to sag around the rest of her figure. She backed up as James silently followed her into the room, standing with her in front of the mirror. He had removed plenty of stays in his lifetime but had never laced one up. The dressmaker had insisted on James buying one despite the reservations he had about restraining Sophia's beautiful curves. He had thrown such a fit over the possibility of the gown not fitting correctly that James had finally given in and bought the sodding thing.
Using his knowledge to reverse his more familiar motions with these contraptions, he carefully pulled the loops from the center to the top and from the center to the bottom, giving each loop in front of his fingers more slack on the strings. With one quick snap he drew the strings out tight, causing Sophia to gasp to gain back the air that had left her lungs momentarily. His hitch of the lacing brought her back against him, her shoulders crashing against his chest as her back arched from the snug fit, not crushing but hugging her from hip to breast.
James was treated to a full view of her large uplifted breasts spilling over the top of the stays as he looked over her shoulder and back at her face in the mirror. With another quick tug in back she gasped again and let out the slightest moan he had ever heard. He gently pushed her forward so she wouldn't feel how that sound had quickened him. The bottom string looped over the last zigzag of the satin as he tied it firmly, then did the same to the string at the top. Eyes still locked to hers in the mirror, his hands came to her waist as her intake of breath swelled her breasts even further.
The shadow of her areola poked up over the stay behind the thin chemise. James stood behind her in the mirror and smoothed his hands up the side panels of the stay, her hands instinctively drifting to his shoulders and up to the back of his neck as he raised her arms up, his hands covering the mounds of flesh above the line of the busk.
In the mirror they looked like two perfect apples on a tray. James pulled a nipple over the border of the stay, teasing it to a point through the silk. Sophia gasped and leaned against him, the stay containing her pleasure and forcing it down the length of her body, straight to her core. He leaned close to her ear and inhaled deeply before whispering, "I could get lost in your hair, your scent..."
Sophia felt warmth start to unfurl between her thighs at his words. James reached around to brush her hair aside before nipping at her earlobe, then lightly on her exposed neck under the lobe. He watched her reactions in the mirror. Her lips parted slightly and her eyes had narrowed to slits as he kissed down her neck, turning her toward his body before kissing her full on the mouth, his tongue twining with hers as his thumbs ran in circles over her nipples. She moaned softly into his mouth and ran her hands down his muscular back through his shirt.
He broke the kiss and smiled at her, seeing the need in her eyes as his thumbs continued their slow circle. Sophia tried to bring her lips back up to his but James tilted his chin up at the last second and kissed her on the tip of her nose, "After dinner, my dear."
She silently gaped at him, wide eyed with surprise as her body reeled from his absence.
"Rest up until then," he said smiling, bringing his hands away and giving her a wink before striding across the room like a conquering king and closing the door behind him. The look of unrequited lust and surprise on her face was worth the blood pooling painfully in his loins.
Sophia stood there for a moment and wandered back to the bed, laying down and panting from the compression of the stays and the ease with which he could make her body respond. She let herself get used to the material holding her snuggly and laid back on the pillows, shutting her eyes momentarily. It seemed so long since she had slept peacefully. The moment stretched on until she slipped into a fitful sleep, lost in a dream.
Sophie ran in her little gold embroidered gown, her tiny silk strands of blonde hair coifed back in an intricate comb, lace falling over the back of her hair. Her dainty child's shoes trampled the grass underfoot as she ran toward a tall man dressed in black with a blue sash and a long curly brown wig on his head, faced away from her. The sky was a brilliant blue and the towers of Pembury Castle stood in the distance.
She had been here before. Countless times.
"Papa!" she called out again but her father did not turn around.
She kept running toward him but the harder she ran the more distant he became until he faded onto the horizon. She felt hands reach out and pull her back. Sophie looked down at her dress, the beautiful frock now replaced by the gray uniform of the orphanage, the manor's mason stones and grass melting into the dull cobblestones of Ashford's church square and twenty girls dressed just like her.
"Sophie!" The head of the orphanage, a harsh woman with gray hair and pinched features voice called her back in line to keep her head down as she walked.
"Miss Sophia!" Katje shook her as she whimpered in her sleep.
Sophia bolted up with a start, gasping in air, a hard feat in the bonds of the stays.
It was growing dark outside, the late summer sky cloaked in dark violet and pinks as the sun started to set. How long had she been asleep? She looked up at Katje. The room was awash in candlelight, illuminated by far more tapers than she knew she even had in the house. Was this his doing? The smell of rosemary and cooked game hens wafted through the room from the kitchen below.
Katje twisted her fingers as she often did when trying to find the right words to use, "Master James said you coming down to dinner soon?"
"Y-yes," she said, trying to shake the recurring dream and come back to reality. James was waiting downstairs for dinner. She looked down at the tight stay she wore and remembered the dress, now laying on the chair, spread out in all its glory.
"Katje, can you help me with my—"
"Master James says I help you put on the... the... Franse robe?"
"The dress. Yes, thank you Katje."
"You're welcome Miss Sophia!"
Katje lifted the garment and rolled the edge of the hem as if she had done this a thousand times. It suddenly occurred to Sophia that perhaps she had. She didn't know if James was married or not. She felt a knife go through her at the thought then chastised herself for caring.
And what if he was? Sophia knew from the way he could manipulate her body like a finely tuned instrument that he must have had several dozen women, most likely one in every city, town and hamlet he ever visited. She wondered how many of those women were just like her: a convenient bedmate to which he had made an offer they couldn't refuse. Even at that, the thought made her realize that apart from knowing that he was Mr. Farthing's nephew, she knew nothing about James.
She lifted her arms over her head and felt Katje straighten out the laces flounces just below her elbows. The neckline fell softly on her breasts and the pleats spread out from her shoulder blades, flowing downward in vertical waves of silk. Sophia stared forward in the mirror and hardly recognized herself.
"Oh!" Katje clasps her hands together and smiled broadly admiring her handiwork, "U kijkt buitengewoon! So, so beautiful, Miss Sophia!"
Sophia looked at the woman and couldn't help but echo her smile. The dress seemed so out of place on her but if it pleased this sweet mothering woman, then it made Sophia happy. A corner of her mouth turned up as she realized that her hair was not coifed high up as was the fashion, she wasn't wearing a padded farthingale, nor did she have any shoes to match the dress.
"Come! Come, Miss Sophia. Dinner is ready!" Katje said, motioning at the door before trundling down the stairs ahead of her. Sophia gathered the hem of her dress and descended, the wide pleats stretching behind her like wings, each step sending a wave up the fabric as she made her way down the steps.
Just as James started to wonder what was taking so long, one lithe bare foot descended a step, followed by another. Damnation, he forgot to get her shoes! He snickered to himself. Perhaps that wasn't half bad; it would be an excuse to carry her up the stairs later. His attention turned from her bare feet as more of her was revealed to him. Her gown billowed behind her, the pleats moving down the stairs at her back as she gracefully carried herself like a queen. Her blonde curls fell down her back and across her shoulders and her face was lit angelically in a shy half smile. When her eyes met his, her face turned solemn and withdrawn.
Sophia was afraid of him. Of course she's afraid of you, you fool, James thought to himself. You committed rapine; stripping her of home and maidenhead as you made her your slave. What other emotion could he ever expect? And why did he want more? James felt this thought flit across his expression before returning himself to solemnity and smiling at her as she stopped in front of him, "You look beautiful."
Sophia demurely curtsied, "Thank you, but the compliment belongs to the dress, not to me."
"I would beg to differ," he had seen women of all stations. Some years back he had been the plaything of a countess, and had kept mistresses for a few months at a time before learning that it was easier and more to his liking to bed doxies and courtesans instead. Of all the women he could remember, none compared to her.
A blush ran across her face, before it was replaced by her previous anxiety and confusion, "James, why did you do this? Buy me a dress and invite me to dine with you?"
James ran the back of his hand down her cheek, "Because I desire to know you better."
"Why? I am your... your whore. You don't need to know me, I can be anything you want me to be," she stared down at her dress. Sophia was sure that if she ever went out in public in this thing she would be put in the stocks for dressing above her station. She was convinced he had her wear it to ease his revulsion at taking a girl who gets up at dawn to milk cows into his bed.
"The dress only enhances your beauty. It doesn't change you or make you something else. I don't want you to be anything else; I desire you as you are," James pulled out a chair and motioned for her to sit, "As such, I want to know all of who you are."
Sophia smoothed out the folds of her gown beneath her as James pushed her chair in. She flicked the napkin and delicately smoothed the cloth in her lap as if she had done this a thousand times. Katje brought out two mouth-watering plates with Cornish game hens and fingerling potatoes with a sprig of rosemary each.
James tucked his napkin into his shirt over the cravat and started cutting into a potato before realizing that she wasn't doing the same. Her eyes were shut and her head bowed. James was just about to swallow his first bite, then quietly, guiltily put down the knife and joined her in silent prayer, winking open one eye every so often to see when she was finished. Sophia prayed, though she knew not to whom. God most certainly wasn't listening to her prayers; she was damned and fallen for the bargain she had made with James. Still, she had bowed her head in prayer before each meal since she was a child...