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Old 03-16-2011, 08:17 PM   #1
Xyantha
 
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Default Cravats and Coat Tails - by Xyantha (~BHM, ~~WG, Romance)

~BHM, ~~WG, Romance - Period romance

Author’s Note: Historians please bear with my attempt at a period romance.


Cravats and Coat Tails
By Xyantha


Katherine squealed as her uncle Edward swept her off her feet. Roaring, he threw her into the air before catching her and turning her around in circles until the sky whirled. He lifted her into the saddle in front of him. He grinned down at her, blue eyes twinkling, and winked. “How is my favorite girl?” His deep voice vibrated through his chest against her, his beard tickling her cheek. Her cheek nestled against the fabric of his chest, she closed her eyes, feeling the warm summer air caress her cheeks, teasing her hair.


Pain lanced through her eyes as the sun fell on her. She nestled her face deeper into her pillow. Kitty groaned, propping herself up on her forearms. A dark curtain of hair slipped between her and the early morning light. Slowly blinking, she tried to ease into wakefulness. She braced her hands on the edge of her bed, sitting up slowly. Sighing, she rose, gazing into her looking glass. She smiled half heartedly at her reflection. A wane young woman smiled back at her, pretty enough but hardly a beauty.

Dressing herself had become easier over the years, but the laces at her back always defeated her. She knocked on Fanny’s door before entering. Smiling at her “maid” - an old family friend who had been old when she was born - who was still abed, she pulled the covers down. “Come Fanny, lace me up. I have a husband to catch.”


*~*~*~*



Katherine glanced over her shoulder as she entered the ballroom, her satin and lace gloved hand hovering lightly in the crook of her father’s elbow. Smiling softly, she dipped her head as she curtseyed.

“My Grace, thank you for having us,” She murmured. The opulent splendor of his house was obvious, from the marble entranceway to the exquisite wood banisters. Her father looked like he was out of his element, caught between a business demeanor and grateful for the condescension of the invitation. The fool could hardly draw more attention to their being out of place than shouting it from the rooftop.

The Duke smiled down at her, patting her free hand. “It is a pleasure to have you and your family to our little assemblies. My dear Emily would be distraught without you.” Eyes sliding past her he greeted his next guest, releasing her hand and dismissing her. Grateful not to be singled out, she tugged her father after her. He was unsteady on his feet, but not overly so. She only prayed he would not become so drunk she was unable to leave with him.

Gliding smoothly into the room she glanced about subtly for Emily. Her father laid his right hand on hers, drawing her attention from her search. His face wore its usual stoic expression but the lines around his eyes were creased deeper than usual. Leaning down, bathing her in the smell of liquor, he murmured, “You must take advantage of this opportunity to acquaint yourselves with the gentlemen in this room. You are nearly five and twenty. This is your fourth Season-”

Smiling at a passing couple she tilted her face slightly to his “I am aware, Father. I have no prospects and am bound to be a spinster and be a burden if I do not find a Lord.” She touched the hand of a passing matron who she had met previously. “Mrs. Jenkins, a pleasure to see you again.” The woman paused briefly, introducing her companions, before breezing to the side of the floor where they could gossip in peace.

Her father’s eyes tightened. “Do not take that tone. Your mother was an excellent woman and it is only through her connections that you have moved into this circle. Do not think for a moment that I can secure your fortune. Your dowry is sufficient but hardly abundant.”

Anger flared, and words sprang to her lips unbidden. “Perhaps then you should have avoided drinking the money for this season, so we could have hired a chaperone for me to –“

“Dearest Kitty!” Emily gasped, swirling to a stop in front of her, eyes alight with mischief. She curtseyed to Katherine’s father before gently – but firmly – tugging her away. “We shall stay in plain sight, my Lord!” she called. Tittering lightly she weaved their way through the crowd. “Oh dearest Kitty, I have the most wonderful gossip!”

Mentally closing her eyes to brace herself for the sea of inane gossip and useless prattle, Katherine gave no outward sign of her irritation. Emily was not only the daughter of the host; she was also the daughter of her Mother’s oldest friend, and in many ways her only hope for marrying well. Instead, she opened her eyes wide, parting her lips in excitement, and grasped both of her friend’s hands. “Emmy - You simply must tell me!”

“Well,” Emily preened. “I suppose I simply must. It is far too juicy to keep to myself, I daresay!” Leaning in and linking arms, she began to take a turn about the room. “He is here,” she nearly hissed, eyes darting about. “Mama and Papa simply had to extend him an invitation, but it was only out of courtesy. Who would have thought that he would have accepted? It is the first time in years that he has been out in respectable society!”

“Who?” Katherine asked. Her pale lavender dress swirled about her legs. It had taken her two weeks to make this dress. She was very proud of her work. She was getting practiced enough that only the closest inspection would reveal that this was not the result of a professional tailor. Luckily, she had managed to steal the dress money back from her father’s purse before he spent it all last month.

“Lord Nottingham!” When she looked uncomprehending her friend actually rolled her eyes. “Really Kitty, at times you are downright provincial. He is the most infamous Earl around, my dear! The stories that one hears…!” She shivered artfully, lowering her dark lashes. Her blond hair, wrapped in a complicated hairstyle caught the light, making Kitty sigh with envy. She acknowledged a certain lack of style and too much practicality in herself – but blond was so much more beautiful than plain old brown.

Ignoring the slight, she looked around. “Truly? Is he here to find a wife?”

“Well, he is five and thirty.” In the prime of her Season, and also the daughter of one of the most influential Dukes, Emily knew that at some point she would accept an offer this year. Ever the obedient child, she did not buck the expectations her family had for her. There was gain to be made by fantasizing about a wayward letch. Katherine’s interest, however, was piqued. A lord was a lord, after all.

“Do you know him? Could you point him out?”

Her friend hit her with her fan, tittering. “Kitty! You are the naughtiest thing!”

Damnation. She was not that obvious, was she? “How shall I be able to avoid him and keep my reputation if he tries to seduce me and I do not know who he is?”

Featherbrain that she was, the chit believed her. “Oh. Well, I have not been introduced yet, but I expect to at some point this evening. I doubt you will be, but I shall be sure to point him out later if you remind me.”

Just barely succeeding at not looking skyward in exasperation, Kitty lowered her head – ostensibly in appreciation, in actuality to hide her expression. “You are too good to me.” She murmured, the words scathing her tongue. “I see your card is full – go, I will be fine here.” Her friend hugged her and swirled off, mind already elsewhere.

Puffing a breath through her lips she glanced around. Unsociable naturally, at least in large groups, she detested these rounds of silly chatter. Every time she had to remind herself that she was here to accomplish a purpose – to secure herself a husband. As soon as she did that she could leave this behind except on those occasions as she chose. Glancing about the room she saw Geoffrey Telford. Her first true smile of the evening blossomed across her face. It felt so good to just smile because she was happy. Gliding towards him she touched his thick arm.

Looking to his side he spotted her, grinning. “Kitty,” he cried delightedly, kissing her knuckles through the cloth. His chubby cheeks bunched, giving him an irresistible cherubic look. “You look stunning tonight. My compliments on your seamstress,” he winked.

Rolling her eyes fondly she hooked her arm through his, letting the outside of her arm press into his straining waistcoat. “I missed you, you horrible wretch. You know how I hate being in these dresses.” Her stomach flipflopped as his thick side gave in to her touch.

“You should have been born a man, then you would have the freedom you so crave. You always were one for adventures. Running after squirrels….playing in ponds….” His eyes sparkled mischievously as she looked around to make sure no one was close.

“I was young!” she hissed, giggling in spite of herself.

Shaking his head ruefully Geoffrey patted her arm. “I know. I love teasing you, my dear.” His face grew sly. “Though I do believe you had quite the hero worship for me for a time.”

“Maybe. A little. A very little.” Her lips quirked against her will. “I did have a strapping young man dive into the pond after me and carry me home.”

“Strapping? More like straps bursting!” Geoffrey laughed so loud his stomach jiggled, and a few people cast glances their way. He was the most unabashed, happy man she knew. It was funny that he brought up that instance. It was permanently branded onto her brain.




She had grown up next to his estate and had always been fascinated by the water. One evening, just before her Mother died, she had snuck out to his Father’s estate. She couldn’t recall exactly what her little mind had been thinking, something about pretending to be a hunter like her uncle. She remembered seeing the water, still and shining in the red glow from the sun. The cool serentity of the surface called to her. She had played around in the water up to her stocking knees, enjoying the rare moment of freedom. The initial reveling in the glory of being herself quickly converted to panic as, before she knew it, she had stepped off a ledge and the water closed over her head. It seemed like it was pulling her under, squeezing in on her. No matter how hard she thrashed she couldn’t seem to get back to the surface longer than to gasp enough air and water to stay alive. What was once light fabric swirling around her turned into a morass of heavy hands grabbing at her.

She remembered the feeling of soft, yielding flesh connecting with her, strong muscles propelling them back to shore. Geoffrey had looked down at her, panic easing on his chubby face as she coughed up half the lake, her resting on his thick middle. He was the most handsome thing she had ever seen, the last rays of sunlight shining on his face, his linen shirt stuck against every roll. At twenty, he had just enough childhood left in him to cover for her incident, and just responsible enough to teach her to swim when he realized that the incident hadn’t fazed her in the slightest.

One day she had leaned over and grabbed his hand, looking at him adoringly. Startled, chubby cheeks red, Geoffrey had looked at her. “You are the most handsomest, wonderful man in the whole wide world and I want to marry you some day,” she told him solemnly.

“Handsome, not handsomest,” he had corrected her absently. He had grinned and kissed her on the forehead in a fatherly gesture. “You are the most beautifulest girl ever.” He had left it at that. The intervening years had brought the restrictions of society into their friendship, and his marriage at the age of twenty four to an heiress had crushed her heart to breaking. Coupled with her mother’s death a few years before and her father sliding deeper into the bottle, she had felt completely bereft.


Hugging his arm she sighed. “I still think you should have waited for me,” she teased.

“Me too,” Geoffrey admitted, blushing slightly. Poor man. The loveless marriage to that harpy must really be wearing on him, Kitty realized.

Pulling back slightly, she looked away. “Sorry,”

“Don’t.” His normally unflappable affability overshadowed by sadness, Geoffrey slid a thumb across her chin before letting his hand fall. His voice was husky when he continued. “You are one of a kind, my dearest. You have grown into a beautiful woman any man would be proud to marry. If there is anything that I can do…” Sighing heavily, he kissed her knuckles and turned away, ambling along on thick thighs.

Staring after him a moment, Kitty tried to collect herself, rapidly blinking tears away. It was amazing how the years changed everything and nothing. He was still married, and more handsome than ever. Every other man in the room seemed lessened by her knowing him. Feeling off balance and moved, she made her way to the refreshment table to mingle as best she could. She was woefully out of her circle. Her mother may have been the wife of a viscount but the marriage to her father had lessened her own birthright in society’s eyes. Without a proper introduction she was very much an outsider. One woman looked her up and down. Kitty took an immediate dislike to her pinched face and beady eyes. Her lips were cruel, and her smile looked more like a grimace. Without lowering her voice she sighed dramatically. “I simply shall have to speak to Geoffrey.” No wonder Geoffrey looked miserable. “There always seem to be those hangers on who just hover even though they are not welcome.”

Her fat friend nodded her head sagely without noticing Katherine. “Quite so, my dear.” Everyone around the two women glanced around subtly, and seeing only her, stared while managing to not look at her directly.

Face warming, Kitty pretended not to notice. Raising her head she stiffened her back. Geoffrey was nowhere in sight. A feeling of dread settled in her stomach. This was so embarrassing. The likelihood of making any sort of graceful recovery was all but nil. She would simply have to fill her cup and try to exit as gracefully as she could. Perhaps pretending she didn’t notice would be the best course. The stupid, ignorant woman had probably just ruined her chances of making a good match.

(Continued in post 5 of this thread)

Last edited by Britt Reid; 12-05-2011 at 10:42 PM.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:21 PM   #2
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Great start--please continue!
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:48 PM   #3
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Wonderful story! I would like more, however xD

Oh, and Tad has a fantastic quote .... and I'm listening to that album right now xD
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:34 PM   #4
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Good rollicking story!

Its those tight breeches that make those Regency beaus look so stuffed. I remember (as a fat lad) having to wear them in a school play and being desperately embarrassed at all the lasses laughing. Budgie smugglers have nothing on what they reveal.
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Old 03-17-2011, 04:34 PM   #5
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Raoul gritted his teeth as that horrible Martha woman raised her voice. He genuinely did not hold to the mindset that women were less than and should not speak, but there were definitely exceptions to that rule. This night was turning into one giant headache. Nothing had changed in the last ten years. The same gits slavered after the fluff headed little girls’ dowries. The fact that he was here looking for a well off prospective mate was hardly the same thing. The only thing that had changed was that he was no longer a wastrel, not that this circle would ever realize that fact.

Hearing titters, he glanced over, bored. The object of their attention was a young woman he was unfamiliar with. Tilting his head to his friend he made a minute gesture with his finger. “Hornby?”

His friend, so bored he looked ready to loosen his caravat, glanced over to where he gestured. “Kitty Chelsey.”

Intrigued, Raoul looked her up and down. She was voluptuous, but despite craning his neck he couldn’t make out her face. One didn’t have to read her expression to see her nearly toss her head in defiance, back going stiff. “…not welcome,” the harpy screeched.

Grinning at the opportunity to snub the irritating gossip monger that had so often irritated him, he stepped boldly through the crowd. Halting beside the woman in the pale lavender dress, he touched her wrist lightly. “I apologize, Ms. Chelsey. I am here to collect our dance.” The greenest eyes he had ever seen looked up at him, startlement flashing quickly over her face. She touched her fingertips to her forehead as though forgetful, expertly shifting her expression to one of apology. A becoming flush dusted her cheeks.

“No, I apologize, I was not paying attention to the time.” She offered her hand, which he took and placed firmly in the crook of his elbow, guiding her away. His satisfaction was overshadowed by his curiosity. He looked down at her rich red brown hair. The simplicity of the knot was as charming as the way she looked up at him directly instead of through lowered lashes or subtle looks. “I must thank you for your kindness…” She began, making a helpless gesture with her free hand. He looked at her pale wrist, perfect for trailing kisses across. It was unfortunate that he wasn’t in this for a good time.

“Do not thank me,” Raoul interrupted. “I take pleasure setting down those harpies whenever I can. Besides, I may have ruined your reputation more than their simple words did.”

“I highly doubt that,” she looked away, cheeks crimson. Unlike the artful pink that these dandelions practiced, her blush extended down her neck and onto the tops of her exposed breasts. “You seem to know my name, but I do not know yours,” She finally managed, looking back up at him boldly as they stepped onto the dance floor. Her gaze was intense, as if she was willing the truth out of him.

“Nottingham. Raoul Nottingham.” Her eyes widened fractionally, but she could not reply as she swept into the turn with the other ladies. He watched her, watching him, and wondered what she saw. A dark haired and eyed man, relatively handsome with good clothes? Her eyes travelled down his body boldly as she passed him again. In his darker times, a few years earlier, he would have found that confident look frightening, but now, as in his youth, he found it arousing him. He found himself imagining those catlike emerald eyes looking down at him as she straddled him, moaning. Looking away he took her hand, which was surprisingly large and firm in his own compared to the delicate girls around them. Enough.

He hadn’t intended anything more than to slight the Telford woman, but this woman’s eyes, grazing over him without shame, was causing him more acute arousal than he had felt in years. Angered at his body’s unfair reaction, he examined her with the same frankness. She was much more petite in height than he had initially thought, probably three fingers over five feet, but her body was luscious under the pale lavender fabric. As she stepped forward to meet him her, her shapely thigh pressed into the fabric, and as she bounced the fabric rippled around her posterior. Damnit. Flaws, Raoul. Her skin was more tanned than was fashionable, with a light sprinkling of freckles over her pert nose…adorable.

The dance ended abruptly and he found himself breathing slightly heavier than he would have liked. He cocked a leg, hoping his attraction was not too apparent through his form fitting breeches. She immediately stepped off, disappearing into the crowd. Shock and irritation crawled over his skin. No one slighted him that he had singled out like that. Served him right for rescuing the ungrateful chit. Before he had a chance to get truly angry – disappointed, really – she was beside him holding a glass of wine. Blinking in surprise, he grinned at her, gulping it down. More and more interesting – adorable and thoughtful. Although it was hardly her place to fetch things like a serving wench. “Thank you, I –“

“Nottingham! You always have had a gift for finding the diamonds.” A gentleman stepped forward. “Would you introduce me to this beautiful flower?” Lean, muscular, and devilishly handsome, Westmore smiled at him. Calculating ass.

“Westmore,” he acknowledged grudgingly, refusing to relinquish his place at her side. “This is Miss Chelsey.”

“Ah, Chelsey! Father is a lawyer? Yes, good man. Your mother was an excellent woman, my condolences on your loss.” He stepped forward, forcing Raoul back.

The bold cat was gone, replaced by a curtseying young woman, cheeks lightly rosy. A lawyer? So she was not an heiress or even the daughter of a Lord. Damn. Anything that came of this wouldn’t benefit him or his estate. Westmore was smiling at him again. “Chelsey married the second daughter of the Winston family, eh? Big step up in society for him,” the man said, not bothering to lower his voice. Katherine looked down. The only indication of her distress was her clenched hand, buried in her skirts. Raoul tightened his jaw, stamping down the immediate protective urge. Not his problem

Turning back to her, Westmore placed her arm in his elbow. “Come, my dear. After your escapade with Raoul here you will be the talk of the ton. I am sure an offer will come your way despite your…unfortunate connections.” He patted her hand reassuringly, oblivious to her wounded expression. “Come. I will introduce you to my party.” Westmore led her away. Her head tilted back towards him, lips parted, before she closed her eyes and a resolute expression settled on her face.

Raoul seethed, empty wine glass clenched in his hand. Stalking to the corner next to his friend he tapped his glass for a refill. “I think I’ll join you for the rest of the night. I almost forgot why I hated these fools.” He gazed after the girl, watching her socialize. She was out of her circle if what Westmore said was true, but she was certainly holding her own against the scrutiny of the ton.

Hornby gazed at him through bleary eyes. “My mother wants me to ask that horrid Elsa woman, the one with the lump on her face. I can feel it staring at me!”

“I’m sure it’s not that bad.” Raoul looked at the beautiful girl dancing with Westmore. “What can you tell me about the Chelseys?” She was playing the part of a little chit, laughing and looking coy, but when the round brought the partners facing away from each other he noticed she rolled her eyes minutely before plastering a pleased smile back on her face. At one point she seemed to be looking for him, but Raoul couldn’t be sure. Other men were beginning to take notice of her. He slouched, growling. He had found her first. Years ago he wouldn’t have just sat back, the realization slowly dawned. His…recent past had made him more squeamish and nervous than he would have liked.

“Chelseys? Respectable family. Wife married low, a lawyer, can you imagine? There was talk of her eloping but I think its nonsense. They had a respectable wedding - I can remember Mother and Father going to it. She always was a headstrong though, her father couldn’t prevent her from marrying Chelsey.”

“A lawyer? So what is she doing here?”

Hornby looked mildly baffled. “Trolling for a title, I daresay. Just like you and I are trolling for money. She wouldn’t be a bad catch, but hardly anything to write home about.” In his cups and oblivious to his friend’s glower, he twisted in his chair to look at her. “Look at those peacocks. Looks like you did her a fine turn rescuing her. She will be the talk of the ton for at least a week.”

Taking a fortifying gulp of wine, Raoul glanced at her. He caught his expression in a mirror, startled to see jealousy darkening his features. He glowered into his cup. It was true – the speculation would run rampant, adding to her allure. Somehow that thought didn’t sit well with him. If speculation was what they wanted, gossip is what they would get. He liked her. He had come here with the intention of finding a bride. What was that saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions? It seemed the time had come to bring the rakehell back.

*~*~*~*

Kitty glanced over her shoulder, still hoping in vain to see Nottingham. Two weeks had passed and despite her best efforts she had been unable to set the man aside in her mind. Every moment she was idle his face would flash into her mind, glowering, smiling, taunting. His sensual lips curving, an eyebrow cocking…it was positively unbearable. Despite never being attracted to a thin, muscular man before, something about Nottingham was alluring. He moved like he dominated the entire room. Her dreams had been vague and exciting. She could remember undressing him, but the man underneath didn’t seem to be the same. She also remembered that they had made delicious love all night, she hoped that the real thing was as good as her dream had been. Never fanciful, her inability to dispel his image and scent was driving her mad. Despite not the type she knew herself attracted to, his body was so masculine, her body clenched just thinking of it.

Westmore, on the other hand, was a pretentious pig. It had been hard to maintain a smile with Nottingham glaring at her as if she had killed his favourite dog. Luckily the men had seemed charmed by her absent, hairbrained remarks. Westmore had seemed glued to her side, reappearing after each dance. He did seem to be correct about the attention she was receiving, though. Even now, she had been asked to another dance. Although not the most graceful of dancers, she was adept enough that her mind was free to wander over the encounter with the infamous Nottingham. He was devilishly handsome. His dark eyes, framed by sculpted eagle winged brows, had watched her broodingly the entire dance. The way he jerked his head to move his wavy hair from his eyes had accentuated the start of a very slight double chin. For some reason his thick, powerful body excited her. It had been like being near her uncle’s stallion, all muscle and energy, even while obediently walking. The intensity he gave off was incredible.

Multiple parties had come and gone, but he had not made another appearance. Every evening she was out she found herself eyeing the room, hoping to see him. Her fervent hopes were dashed every time, and after a week she had tried to turn her mind back to the resolution of finding a husband to secure some sort of comfort. Smoothing a hand down her waist she sighed. And the rich food was making her put on some weight. Her corset was tighter than usual. Nottigham could probably have his pick of any of the slender girls on the floor.

Enough! She berated herself firmly. She needed to act quickly. Her father had once again drunk himself into a stupor. Luckily, in one of his more sober moments he had locked her dowry into an iron clad deal with the bank. The money would be released to no one except her husband, not even her father himself. It was her only hope of securing her fortunes.

“Ms Chelsey,” a deep voice murmured behind her, close enough that his warm breath tickled the hairs on the nape of her neck. Jerking around she found herself looking into the dark eyes that had been haunting her dreams the past few weeks. Her lips unfurled in a happy smile. He blinked, then grinned back. “It is good to see you again.”

“And you,” Kitty nearly breathed. Suddenly she could feel her breasts against the plunging neckline of her dress. Her upper arms felt as if he was holding them, tingling and tight. He was close enough that his breath tickled the sensitive skin of her chest and neck. Stepping back slightly she blinked rapidly and looked around to gain her composure. “You look well.”

His cocky smile slipped for a fraction of a moment. “Thank you. You are positively glowing tonight.”

Ignoring the compliment she fanned herself. “I had not thought to see you again…I mean…I have not seen you these past few weeks.” Completely thrown off kilter, she looked into his face. Big mistake. He was looking down at her – when did he get so tall? – with a famished look on his face, eyes feasting on her body.

“Business drew me away, but I feel that I still had…business here that I needed to attend to.” His eyes looked deep into hers as he entwined her arm with his. His tone was more intimate then was proper, and he seemed to be taking enjoyment from her discomfort, from the way his eyes crinkled. From this distance she realized his eyes were the darkest shade of grey she had ever seen, flecked with lighter shades.

“You must have been very busy indeed.” Something about him was perturbing her. Her body was simultaneously crying out for him and hesitating. His thick, muscular arm was exciting, but the muscles and bones of his ribcage pressed into her arm almost revolted her.

He seemed to sense it, because he paused, looking down at her seriously. “You are well?” His strong hand reached across his chest, patting her hand. His hand seemed to dwarf hers, thick and strong.

“I am indeed, though flustered, I must confess. I…you…” She cleared her throat, switching topics. The man was absolutely insufferable in all the right ways. “The weather has been very fine. Did you take the opportunity to ride much while on business?”

“I did. Are you much of a horsewoman?” His tone held no mockery or the condescension of other men who had asked her that question - only curiosity. He seemed to be looking for some sort of reaction. Whatever it was, she seemed not to be giving it, from the deepening crease in his handsome brow.

His muscular arm bulged as he withdrew his hand, she noticed absently. He seemed thinner and more toned than the last time they had met. “I love riding. I learned to ride before I learned to walk.”

“Well, you are very graceful on foot, despite it being your leg’s second language,” He teased, making her laugh before covering her lips with her fingertips. “I would enjoy seeing how graceful you are on a hack.”

Looking to the side, she could feel her cheeks heat. “I would love to join you, but I fear it would hardly be appropriate for us to go alone together.” Her breasts tingled, her womanhood moistening. It was very strange – the only other person she had felt this way for had been Geoffrey, and even then it had been more of an attraction than lust.

“The park is hardly alone,” he argued reasonably. “It is a public path frequented by children and chaperones. We will be on horseback. I can hardly make any inappropriate moves there.” When she blushed he chuckled, patting her hand. “My dear, I am fully aware of my reputation as a Rakehell and I assure you that I am a perfect gentleman.”

“As any Rakehell would claim,” she shot back before she could stop herself. He threw back his head and laughed. It was a deep, robust laugh and sent tingles down her back. His throat bared slightly from his cravat, making her think of trailing kisses down it.

Instead of chiding her he grinned toothily. “Wisely put. Perhaps not a perfect gentleman, but I do promise I will not compromise you.” When she remained silent he leaned down slightly, putting his face into her view. A smile played around his lips. “If you don’t accept I will simply die of heartbreak.”

She let out an unladylike snort of derision, then stamped a foot in frustration at her behaviour, flushing.

“How about die of mortification?” When she rolled her eyes he raised his eyebrows. “But it is true. Here I am, laying my heart bare with my interest in you, and you would spurn me?” He laid a dramatic hand over his heart.

Kitty laughed, feeling more lightheaded and lighthearted than she had in years. She could feel herself giving in to his charms, while a part of her brain yelled for her to stand back or be ruined. “I accept your challenge of a ride - on one condition,” someone living inside her skin said. It was certainly not something she would agree to!”

“Anything,” he promised dramatically, looking pleased.

“You accompany me on a little shopping expedition.” He wrinkled his nose in distaste, and she grinned at him. “Take it or leave it, sir.”

He hesitated only a fraction of a second before pumping her hand as if she were a man. “We have a deal. Tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow.” she echoed faintly.

“Excellent. I shall leave you to socialize but I would request the next two dances.”

“They are yours,” Kitty said simply, extending her hand. The look on his face changed from urbane and a cultured tease to a look of intensity, grey eyes locking with hers. Her nipples tightened in response. His eyes fell to her chest, almost as if he could tell, before returning to her face. The rest of the evening was going to be unbearable.

(Continued is post 8 of this thread)

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Old 03-17-2011, 07:45 PM   #6
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I am greatly enjoying this - I love period pieces. I can't wait to see where it goes!
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Old 03-18-2011, 06:17 AM   #7
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Each section leaves me grinning like a fool. I'm loving this
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:54 PM   #8
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The evening did pass, as did that night, despite Kitty’s tossing and turning. Every time she tried to calm herself for sleep she would find herself re-living their conversations and their dances. He was so graceful he made her feel clumsy. She couldn’t fathom what his intentions were – he certainly couldn’t be interested in her for her money, but despite knowing she was just being played with she simply couldn’t resist. Not even the threat of her father’s wrath could dull the excitement in her chest.

Sunlight fell across her face. Luxuriating in the warmth, Kitty sighed happily. Today was the day for her ride with the handsome Raoul. He has never given her permission to call him by his given name, but the dreams she had had last night had been far too personal for surnames. Moving stiffly from the bed she looked in the mirror. The bruise on her shoulder and hip was darkening. It served her right for trying to find her way in the dark. Luckily the sconce on the wall hadn’t fallen when she snuck in late last night, and the desk she had hit her hip on had been too heavy to move. Settling down on her stool she carefully mixed her dye compounds to cover the marks. Pinching color into her cheeks made her look almost normal from the long night. Her own eyes sparkled back at her, almost glowing in their happiness. Her closet on the other hand was slightly disappointing. The only dress she had to cover the bruise was a high necked green gown, more suited to a schoolteacher than an outing.

After dressing, she slipped downstairs, careful not to wake her snoring father. Very suddenly, she halted. “Oh nooooooooo!” she wailed softly, covering her eyes with her hands. How could she have forgotten to make arrangements on where to meet? This was a disaster. Blinking back burning, disappointed tears, she gritted her teeth. The shopping still had to be done, even if her little fantasy was over. Slipping some coins into her purse she opened the door, preparing herself to face the day utterly disappointed. Tying her bonnet in place she closed the door, swearing softly.

“Talks like a lady, swears like a sailor, and dresses like a prude. Interesting combination.” Whirling, she stared at Nottingham. How was he here? “Not a usual combination in a lady, that is for sure.” Jumping down from the curricle he sauntered forward, taking her arm. “I almost thought you were avoiding me for a little while there.”

“No….I just forgot that we didn’t set a time…or a place….” She closed her eyes, mortified that he had seen their modest little house. His horses and curricle were fancy enough that it was drawing speculating looks from the neighbors in their little neighborhood.

“I realized that myself last night, so thought I would save you the trouble of making the arrangements.” He helped her up, obviously noticing her stiffness, before settling down beside her. “Are you well? You seem to be in some discomfort.”

“I am fine.” He placed a hand on her shoulder, unfortunately right on top of the fresh bruise. Her smile was marred by a wince. His face grew somber, though he said nothing. They were with off with a flick of the reins. Although not a country road, the small bumps in the road made her ache.

“I would prefer not to ride today, myself,” Nottingham said after a few minutes, tone carefully chosen. “I believe I drank too much wine last night. Would you be very disappointed if we postpone that part of our outing?”

“Not at all,” Feeling unaccountably shy, she looked away. He was so thoughtful. Once again his strong presence seemed to overwhelm her. She bit her lip, thinking.

“Please stop that,” Nottingham requested, voice strained, eyes on the road. She looked up at him, startled, then bit her lip shyly again. “Yes, that, stop that,” he repeated, eyeing her. “It makes you look like a naughty school teacher in that outfit. What possessed you to wear it?”

“I wore it because I like it,” Kitty snapped. “And if I was a school teacher I would be sure to discipline someone like you.” For some reason this threat made him grunt, eyeing her appraisingly. “Can we please stop off at the shop on the corner?”

Nottingham looked at her for a long moment before relenting. “Of course.” Pulling up to the store he assisted her off, placing both hands on her waist and lifting her right off her feet. He held her there for a moment, gazing up at her.

“Please put me down,” Kitty wanted to hang there forever, clasped in his strong arms, but pain was lancing through her. Even more than that, he would draw attention to them. He obliged, strangely silent. She had to grab his arm to steady herself. “I apologize, sometimes I get lightheaded,” she improvised, trying not to cry. This was so unfair, why couldn’t this day just go smoothly? Just to be held in his arms without hurting…

He just gazed at her until she went into the fabric store. He followed, still silent, and watched as she made her purchases. She felt a bolt of sapphire silk, closing her eyes in delight at its softness. When she opened her eyes he was looking at her oddly. “If you are not enjoying yourself you can always leave – I am sure you were just humoring me yesterday.”

His tone was exasperated. “Yes. I always humor women by asking them out for a picnic, forgetting to get their address or a meeting time, then running all over hells half acre to get their addresses, waiting on their front step for two hours, and following them around while they shop. You sure have me pegged. Are you going to buy that?”

“No. It isn’t practical.” Letting the fabric fall she ordered two yards of the linen. “We are going on a picnic?” The thought was strangely appealing. To sit with this tall, handsome man in the sun.

He stepped closer when the man turned to cut the cloth in the back. “If you don’t mind.” He slid his hand along her neck, making her shiver and pull away. “I didn’t have the forethought to bring the lunch, so you shall have to buy it for us, if you please.” When the man returned with her cloth he put it on his tab, despite Kitty’s humiliated protests. “Stop it,” he finally commanded, holding up a hand to forestall her as she continued to protest all the way back to the curricle. He paid a man to stay with their purchases before turning back to her. “I want to treat you. Is that such a foreign concept? Just enjoy it.” He took her arm and looped it with his, strolling towards the food carts.

It was ‘such a foreign concept’. No one had ever treated her to anything, other than dim memories of her mother, and of course, Geoffrey. It was so strange that she felt guilty. Every time she looked at something she had always wanted to buy or try, he seemed to get it for her. When they returned to the curricle he laughed. “I think you bought us enough food for a party of ten!”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to,” she was so flustered she felt her cheeks begin to burn, which only made him laugh and sweep gentle fingers across her cheek. His fingers were long and broad, slightly calloused, and infinitely gentle. It was only a short distance to the park and he carried their basket in one hand, the other swinging loosely by his side. He also assisted her setting up. “I’ve always wanted to go on a picnic,” Kitty said shyly, on her knees, smoothing the blanket.

“You’ve never gone on a picnic?” He paused in smoothing the other side of the blanket, a look of disbelief on his face. He raised his eyebrows. “Well that certainly puts pressure to make sure that your first one isn’t a disappointment!” He helped her unpack the food, and they made small talk.

Kitty nibbled on the food, closing her eyes in bliss. This was so much better than the food at home. She rarely got the chance to eat sweets. “You simply must try this!” She looked at him, realizing he was looking back. He gently grasped her wrist, slid his lips over her ungloved fingers, and sucked the candy from her now lax grasp. A shiver rippled through her despite the warmth of the day. He grinned at her.

“I love candy too,” he admitted. Tentatively, she picked up another piece of food, this time an apple. He chuckled, breath warm against her fingers, before nipping it out of her fingers so fast she squealed and giggled. He seemed to enjoy it, so she kept feeding him, watching him slowly savor the flavor, jaw muscles working as he chewed. It was hardly difficult to keep feeding him, watching his eyelids fluttering slightly as the flavor burst over his tongue, and the greedy look in his eyes as he watched her. She found herself becoming more and more aroused, their breathing quickening in time. They didn’t say anything for a while, both totally engrossed in the little space in time they had created.

It was only when the last piece was gone that they both came out of their trance. Raoul looked startled, doing a double take at the empty picnic basket. A strange look passed over his face as he glanced down at his stomach, visibly swollen, even covered by his waistcoat. Kitty almost would have identified it as fear, if she hadn’t known better. He glanced at her, face guarded. Whatever he saw in her face made him relax a little. “Well, at a normal picnic food is generally shared,” he joked, bracing himself on his arms as he leaned back.

The little rounded ball in front of her riveted her attention, and it was only with difficulty that she tore her eyes back up to his. “But I did share,” she replied absently. Her ears were roaring, and her heart thundered in her chest so hard she feared her ribs might break. The most handsome man she had ever seen was half sprawled beside her, looking mildly drunk on food, belly pushing at his shirt, ankles crossed, as if this was the most natural thing in the world.

“Well, I was thinking of sharing with you in this case, but I seem to have eaten everything. The only solution is another outing,” Raoul responded casually, looking at her sidelong.

Kitty looked away, trying to draw herself back to propriety and prevent herself from unbuttoning his coat and running her hands along his swollen midriff. “I…should not.”

When she looked away he frowned, sitting up. The fact that he had to push himself into a sitting position with a huff made her inhale sharply. When he looked back at her he had a grim look on his face. He leaned forward, looking at her with a dangerous look. “What, you just agreed to come out with me so that you could have me spend money on you? Now that you have some pretty gifts you have lost interest?”

“What?” Startled, Kitty looked into his eyes. She was so shocked she didn’t know what to say. Why was he acting like this? And why was she here, really? This man was not going to make her an offer. He was the type to love them and leave them, as her uncle used to say.

“You heard me.” Something in him seemed to change, and he looked haughty and disdainful. Shutters seemed to come down over his eyes.

“I…” Frozen, shocked, she stared at him, eyes and cheeks burning. Grasping her bonnet she swallowed several times. “You say you ride. Have you ever shopped at the market for one?” He gave a grudging and slightly confused nod. “Have you ever picked one just because it called to you, even though you knew another would be a better choice?”

“No. I make my decisions based on logic and reason, not on some girlish fancy.” He looked down his slightly aqualine nose at her, grey eyes dark. His cheeks were growing ruddy, contrasting with his swarthy skin. The thought briefly crossed her mind that he was much darker than one would expect for a gentleman.

Kitty’s ears grew warm. Lurching to her feet she hurriedly slapped her bonnet on her head. “Well then, I suppose we have no further business to discuss. I would hate to bore you with my ‘girlish fancies’.” She turned smartly on her heel, stalking off so hard her skirts whirled around her legs. Furious, she strode down to the walkway.

“Ms Chelsey, wait!” Raoul called. She glanced back, picking up her pace as she saw he was following. “Goddam it woman, don’t make me run after that lunch!” He called, closer this time. Catching her wrist he spun her about. He glared at her.

Glaring back she jerked her hand, but he refused to relinquish his hold. “You are that stallion that is no good for a pleasure horse or a work horse, so why I’m fascinated I don’t know! And you know those horses at the market? The ones who go around, sale after sale, and never get bought? And even though they are decent horseflesh no one will buy them because they have been on the market too long? That is what I am, Mr. Nottingham!” Her voice was venomous. “I am not one of the privileged few, whose futures are assured! I am five and twenty, and I have been on the market too long, sir!”

“You are not a piece of horseflesh, first of all, and second of all you cannot be five and twenty,” Raoul eyed her, obviously disbelieving.

“Horseflesh, woman flesh? What difference does it make? Both are bred and owned by their masters! The best either of us can hope for is to find one who is not abusive!” Humiliated, both at the situation and her outburst, she stared at him, tears standing in her eyes. For a brief moment in time she had believed that he truly thought she more than some piece of flesh, that she was an equal in some way.

“Where did this even come from!” Raoul snapped, throwing his hands up. “I don’t know what gentlemen you have been raised with, but I respect women and do not want to own anyone.” He stepped closer, wiping the tears from her eyes. He seemed to deflate, eyes softening. “Shush now, we are making a scene.” He walked her back to their picnic. “Now, this seems to be my fault. I am sorry for accusing you of using me for my money. I am not used to refusal. I lost my temper.”

“We were having such a nice time…” Kitty wondered aloud, looking up at him. He led her past the picnic basket, around the side of the hedge. He looked around, and apparently satisfied, lowered his lips to hers gently.

Luckily, his arms were around her or she would have fallen. She had been kissed once or twice but never like this. A noise seemed to come deep from inside her, thick and wanting. She tried to kiss back, but she had no idea what to do with a kiss like this, where his lips worked at hers, nipping, sucking, teasing. His rounded little tummy pressed into her, causing delicious shivers to run through her. Slowly, her mind went numb, and her fingers found the sides of his stomach, the small bulge packed firmly with food. Digging her fingers in slightly she shuddered, shivers racing along her body.

Raoul gave a startled grunt, lower half pulling away from her, out of her reach. Lifting his face, he looked down at her, an odd emotion playing across his face. He released her and wiped at his lower lip with his thumb absently, a look of consternation written across his handsome face. When she looked back at him wordlessly, still shocked, he seemed to fold in on himself. He bent down and scooped up her bonnet, simultaneously shoving it at her and striding past without a further look or word.

Kitty stared after him, terrified. Was this what it was like to be in love? Geoffrey had never been like this, dangerous and fragile, angry and caring. She had felt safe with him, it was true, and happy, but her entire being had not called out for him, as it did for Raoul. She didn’t know what scared her more; being stuck with a man she detested and be without Raoul, or to have to live with his moodiness if something were to happen. She might just have to kill him if he got her wound up like this and walked away again.

(Continued in post 11 of this thread)

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Old 03-21-2011, 11:41 AM   #9
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Continues to be intriguing!
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:01 PM   #10
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Thank you I hope it continues to entertain
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Old 03-21-2011, 05:02 PM   #11
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Raoul was in a foul mood. His interest in Ms Chelsey was materializing in his life with unforeseen consequences. The most prominent and most frustrating was that every matron within a mile seemed to have sensed his attraction, forming a nearly impenetrable phalanx around her at every event. When they were not physically barring his way they were watching, making it impossible to do more than bow and speak of mundane matters. Even when dancing with her, he could feel their heavy gazes on his shoulders. Also, ever since their outing in the park she had seemed more distant, more considering towards him. He couldn’t tell if it was because of the scrutiny they were under, or if it was because of his boorish behavior, gorging himself then losing his infamous temper. Either way it was driving him mad. Where was his naughty kitten, who looked at him as though she wanted to ravish him?

The second consequence was as a result of the former. His appetite had come back. He had grappled it into compliance, if not submission, over the past few years, but his nervousness fueled his appetite into an inferno. It caused him to search it out to relieve the tension he was feeling. It was like peeing in your pants, the son of one of his footmen had told him solemnly one evening when he brought him his meal. It felt good for a second but then it was just cold and wet. It was a good, if crude, analogy. Eating itself was a pleasure. The way it looked, the way it smelled, the way it tasted and felt sliding into his belly. The feeling of being full was like being sexually satisfied. Until the guilt kicked in.

The first night, after the picnic, he had tried to make himself vomit. The only thing he had succeeded at was to make his knees and throat sore, and spit mucous for an hour. He had spent the rest of the evening after dropping her off beating himself up over his behavior. The shudder when she touched him had burned worse than any brand. He seemed to derive some sort of sick pleasure from remembering her touch, feeling guilty, eating, then feeling guilty again. The following week he made sure to counter his eating by spending a few hours boxing and fencing, and in the evening hunting Kitty Chelsey like an animal.

The result was that his temper, normally brooding, was downright surly, and he was short with all his staff. Everyone in his employ knew their master to be fair, just, and generous - which hardly hurt their level of forgiveness. They also knew that he was moody, and when it was wise to stay away. Then there was his cook Martha. Older, busty, and almost tougher than his footmen, she looked ready to chew nails when she came into his bedroom with barely a tap at the door. Her massive chest strained at the apron she was wearing. She held her wooden spoon in her hand, propped on her hip as though she duel wielded it as a weapon and cooking implement.

Turning his head, he gave her a dirty look. She raised her chin and crossed her arms, looking back. They stared at each other for a few moments before he snorted in frustration. “What?” He looked back at his plate, scooping up another bite of egg into his mouth and chewing forcefully.

“I love you like you are my son-”

“Oh good, I pay you enough to.”

“-but if you keep lolling about like this, pining over whatever girl has caught your fancy, I swear I will beat you!” She raised her spoon like a finger, waggling it at him.

He shifted, then had to cut off a burp as it rose up. He pushed himself to his feet, belly heavy. Ignoring her glare he wrapped an arm around her shoulder. “Why don’t you go back downstairs and make me some more of those wonderful sandwiches you made yesterday?” He wheedled, smiling at her winningly.

“No! If you were drinking you would be in the bottle!” Her huffing anger covered very real concern. The last week her master had stayed home, gorging himself and ignoring his duty to find a wife. He went out every night but she was pretty sure it was to gamble or loll about with some lightskirt . He wasn’t anywhere close to being fat again, but he was starting to look a little soft.

Face stiffening, he pushed away from her. “No. I kissed her, Martha, and do you know what she did? Shuddered like I was some lout forcing myself on her. She isn’t interested in me. I’m not the man I used to be. I used to be confident and, and, attractive, and –” A thwap across his left butt cheek made him yelp, staring at her in shock.

She stepped forward threateningly. “My master is a wonderful, intelligent, and handsome young man! If I hear you insult him again…!” She trailed off, looking speculative. “Why don’t you invite her to dinner tonight.”

“Martha…” He looked away, looking humiliated. He yelped again, gritting his teeth, when she smacked his belly with the flat of her spoon. “Stop that!” Convinced she wouldn’t smack him immediately, he lowered his hands from their protective position around his tender stomach. “Good Lord, no wonder I can’t catch Ms Chelsey, I can barely control my own staff! Look, Martha, you do whatever you need to, I’m not interested. I said I am not interested!” He snapped. “I’ll find another solution, I want to be back in the country by next month.”

The mulish look on her face didn’t ease, but at least she curtseyed before she left. Raoul found himself sitting on his bed, belly round and heavy. Poking it in disgust he watched his finger sink slightly into the new layer of fat, the mass shifting slightly. Food had been the problem and solution to all of his issues since a young age. As a young adult his metabolism had been able to cope with the onslaught of rich food and wine, as long as he exercised religiously. As he approached his late twenties, and met Edith, he had started to put on weight. Feeling comfortable in her love, he had let himself go. But even a companion of the night had standards, it seemed. One night after he had dined heavily, she sat on the bed, looking at him in disgust as he disrobed.

Point by point she had ripped into his self confidence. It wasn’t hard – he had trusted her completely. Despite his reputation of being a Rakehell, once he met Edith he had become the most devoted lover and companion, and trusted her implicitly. Her scathing words had hurt more than even she possibly intended.

“Raoul, you need to do something, this is getting out of hand. Look at you, you have breasts!” She had cried. Rising, she grabbed his belly with both hands and shook it, sending ripples up and around his sides and back. “Your belly looks like you ate yeast, rising higher and higher! You barely run or exercise anymore, you get tired halfway through making love – I can’t do this anymore, do you understand? I need a man at my side to take care of me, not a pig!” Gathering up her belongings she had vanished. No further word, no letters, no explanation. She made sure to send someone to pick up her other items the next day, and ask for an allowance, though. Heartbroken and shocked, he had almost agreed until Martha nearly beat the man outside, hustling him out so fast he nearly tripped on his way down the steps, then again as she threw the chest of her belongings at him.

He flopped back on the bed, throwing an arm over his burning eyes. This trip to town was supposed to be simple. Nab himself a rich bride who he could stay far, far away from. Get the hell out. Kitty was not part of the plan. Her behaviour was so odd. One second she was bold as brass, eyes undressing him, lips parted, breasts straining her plunging neckline, and the next she was honestly not only shy, but hurt like child. The look of disbelief she had given him in the park, when he had eaten the entire basket of food, had hit home so hard he had almost vomited in shame. Her look was different somehow…there was no derision. In fact, if he had not known better, he would almost have said desire. Then the kiss…she obviously didn’t desire him, she recoiled when he pulled her against his chest, shuddering when she felt him.

“Martha!” He bellowed. “Tell my man to get my riding clothes together!” Hurling himself to his feet, he looked in the mirror. If he stood straight and sucked in, he didn’t look too much softer than the typical gentleman who enjoyed food and wine. He needed to get out and get some fresh air. He was being pathetic.

*~*~*~*

Sitting perfectly upright for hours on end was much harder than it looked, especially while under the scrutiny of dowagers and matrons. They seemed to be born with ramrod spines, Kitty noticed dourly.

She had never been one to enjoy doing the minutia of daily ‘womanly’ life. Needlework, playing instruments like the piano – anything that was suitable for a young woman of good breeding, really. She was far more interested in riding, playing with the estate dogs, and going for long brisk walks. On the one hand Raoul Nottingham had done her a favor by singling her out like that at the Duke’s party. It had introduced her into a whole new circle of acquaintances, and invites to other women’s little get togethers. On the one hand she knew that this was a necessary evil of finding a husband, but on the other hand, Lord was it BORING!

She looked out the window, wishing in vain that Raoul would appear and whisk her off to do something. She had only seen him once on the street since their disaster of a picnic. He had been friendly, but seemed…anxious. He hadn’t made any attempt to renew his offer of a ride, and after the unceremonious way he finished their day she was not inclined to give him an opening to slight her again. As she had turned the corner she had seen him looking after her, but he had not made any move to follow.

“Do you agree, Katherine?”

“I beg your pardon?” Kitty blinked, withdrawing her attention from the street.

“I said that even if you are not the most beautiful or young woman, I think it very likely you will receive an offer. Not all men of good fortune are after a young, flighty girl. There are several you know who very much prefer a calm woman of good sense and character such as yourself.”

“I…thank you.” It was one thing to know that you were rather more plain, plump and boring than you would wish to be, it was another to have strangers constantly point out your flaws. The woman smiled at her kindly, then turned her attention back to her friend. “I beg your pardon.” The woman turned to look at her. Flushing, she met their eyes. “I am feeling rather faint, would you mind terribly if I cut our meeting short?”

“Of course you should go if you are not feeling well! You young ones are so active, going to late parties and get togethers. You must keep your strength up!”

“Thank you,” Kitty said gratefully, standing. She left their house carefully, heading towards the street towards her house. Instead of turning left, she carefully and subtly looked around before turning right.

Walking quickly to the public stables she paid the man. When he pulled out a white palfrey she shook her head. “Please, I want to be less obvious.”

The man itched his head, pushing back his cap. “Th’ only bay we got is a little feisty for a woman, beggin’ your pardon.” His eyes widened as she slipped another coin into his hand.

“For your trouble.”

“Ah…Alright Ma’am.” When he came back out he had a sixteen hand high gelding, who looked far more spirited than the placid mare. He pranced in place beside the man, chewing his bit and looking around alertly. “Are you sure you can ‘andle ‘im?”

“I think we will get along splendidly. What is his name?” She took the reins gently but firmly, stroking his velvet nose and blowing gently in his nostrils so he could get her scent. The bay nuzzled her hand, lowering his head and sighing contentedly.

“Thunder.” The man boosted her up and she smiled at the man. She personally found riding sidesaddle far more challenging than the way men rode. The bay tested her a few times, pulling at her hands and rising into a trot before she firmly settled him. Content that his rider was competent he settled into a brisk walk, head bobbing, eyeing the scenery with interest. He tried to spook a few times, but it was good natured, and they were soon trotting along the path at a relaxed pace.

After a good ten minutes there was no one around, and Kitty felt a mischievous smile tug at her lips. Checking to make sure no one was looking, she urged her mount into a rolling canter. She guided him confidently towards a fallen log placed specifically for that purpose. Muscles bunched beneath her and they were airborne. He landed gracefully, tossing his neck in excitement. They jumped a few more obstacles before slow clapping made her rein in, looking about wildly.

There, seated on a fine looking gelding was Nottingham, clapping slowly. Somehow even his mount emulated his sauntering walk. As he neared he flashed her a tight grin. “Good afternoon, Ms Chelsey. You were right – you are a natural horsewoman.”

“You disapprove.” She raised her chin, her cheeks nearly painful they were so warm. How embarrassing that she should have been caught.

“I absolutely approve – you are graceful and even more so when on the back of a horse. What I disapprove of is you riding alone in the middle of a secluded park. What if you fell off and there was no one who saw? What if some man accosted you?”

“I appreciate your concern but I am perfectly capable of handling myself.” She raised her chin, still smarting from their last outing together. His brows drew together, and he moved his horse alongside hers. She stared back at him. “I would have thought after the last time you wouldn’t be concerned with my safety. I would hate to think I was just after your money,” She spat acidly.

If her own behavior surprised her, it seemed to shock him. He jerked away, looking like she had smacked him in the face. “I’m sorry to have bothered you, madam.” He tipped his hat to her and heeled his mount around.

She wanted to cry out “Wait! I’m sorry!” and grab his upper arms, which she could tell would be heavy with muscle and slightly giving to the touch. Instead, her pride closed her throat and lifted her shoulders. She turned Thunder and set him back into a canter. Her eyes blurred with tears. Stupid, stupid. She wasn’t sure who she was more upset at – him or herself. She should not be acting that way but at the same time he was being cruel, acting warm one minute and cold the next. What did he expect her to do?

Thunder approached the jump. A bird swooped in front of his nose, causing him to start and dig his front legs in. His head went down as he struggled to keep his balance. Kitty did not even have time to gasp before she impacted the log. She lay there for a moment, blinking. The world turned in lazy circles. She found she couldn’t inhale.

Dark hair and eyes swooped into her vision. Thick, strong fingers checked her pulse. With a huge shudder Kitty regained her wind. Tears filled her eyes as shock set in. Her tears leaked onto his coat as he carefully set her on his lap, supporting her and burying his nose in her hair. Slowly, her shuddering sobs eased and she touched the back of her head. “Oww,” she whined. She looked up at Raoul, half in defiance, half sheepishly. Instead of a scowl of irritation his pupils were enormous, a look of panic slowly easing from his features.

Kitty slowly relaxed her body, feeling a pleasing softness pressing against her side. She felt giddy. What if she did become his wife? Would he kiss her? His lips looked soft and supple, beckoning. Some distant part of her from the past looked on in interest as she leaned into him, planting a nervous kiss on his lips, bracing herself on his stomach.

“Hoy!” A voice called. Terrified, Kitty jerked back. She heard an odd noise and looked at Raoul, who wouldn’t look at her. He carefully set her on his feet as a man rounded the turn, panting. “You all right? We had two horses run back to the stables without their riders!”

“We are fine. The lady here took a tumble when her horse spooked. Please send for my carriage.”

“Right away, Master Nottingham!” The man bowed and ran back the way he had come.

Kitty looked up at the man who was literally and figuratively making her world spin. What would it be like to be known just because you are who you are? When she reached up to kiss him again he stepped back, holding her wrists gently.

“Don’t feel that because I came back you have to show any sort of gratitude,” He rumbled, looking self conscious.

Kitty stared at him as if he had two heads, then began to laugh. Uh oh. The laugh slowly turned slightly hysterical until she was laughing, crying and hiccupping so hard she could barely breathe. Raoul actually had to help her into the carriage. Instead of the dingy, smelly public carriages, this one was lush and comfortable. His looks of concern only made her relapse into fits of giggles.

He looked exasperated, sitting next to her and looking into her eyes. “You, missy, have a bad concussion. Come here. Don’t fall asleep,” he warned.

“I won’t.” Raoul shook her. “Why did you do that for,” she asked plaintively.

“I told you not to fall asleep,” he snorted.

“I didn’t!” she said, indignant. Her face was against the soft fabric of his shoulder, her arm draped across his stomach. How did that happen? She was looking at the buttons of his coat which, she noticed, were pulled tight against the openings, making the fabric in between the buttons bulge slightly. She fiddled with one of his buttons, unbearably sleepy. She undid the button with some difficulty. That was better.

“Woah now, what are we doing?” Raoul half propped her up, redoing his button.

She frowned at him, confused and disoriented. “But it was tight, it needed to be looser!” His cheeks went red and he stared at her until she tried to undo the button again. He grabbed her hands. They were so big and strong. His nails were clean and cut short. She placed her palm against his so that their fingers and palms were flush together. Her hand looked like a child’s beside his. Raoul’s hand slowly curled around her until their fingers were interlaced. “Mmm.” Kitty said, sighing and curling into him more. He was so warm.

A chuckle rumbled through his chest. “Don’t. Go. To. Sleep!” He tilted her face up to his. “What do I have to do to make you stay awake, woman!?”

“Ice cream.”

“You want ice cream?” An eagle brow raised. “You will vomit all over my carriage.”

“Ice cream,” she said insistently.

“All right, all right!” Raoul tapped on the roof. The carriage slowed and he popped his head out. He settled back with her until a knock came to the door. “Ah, thank you.” He held the bowl in his hands gingerly. “Here.” He handed her the spoon, looking fully resigned to the gastrointestinal consequences.

She took the small spoon and dipped it in the ice cream. She looked at it for a moment, then proffered it to him. When he shook his head she held the cold spoon to his lips.


*~*~*~*

Raoul slowly took the spoon into his mouth. The taste cascaded over his taste buds, and he groaned without realizing it. The look of - slightly glazed - intensity on her face increased. She offered another spoonful, which he slowly licked off.

Kitty curled a foot under herself and leaned forward, biting her lower lip. She made a sound of approval in her throat and lifted another bite. With every spoonful she leaned slightly closer until he could see the flecks of yellow in her green eyes. When the last spoonful was done she made a sound of protest. “More?” she asked petulantly.

“No! This thing will get even bigger!” Raoul laughed, placing his hands on his belly and patting self consciously. Her hands slid in beside his, palms flat and fingers splayed on his stomach. He could feel her touch through his clothing like fire. His breathe caught in his throat. She had a look of intense concentration on her face. “See? No more ice cream for this monster!” he managed.

Her lower lip stuck out slightly, and her fingers spasmed slightly. The adipose on his stomach gave beneath her touch. He jerking back instinctively, sucking in.

Dark brows furrowed, and she looked up at him. “I’m going to throw up,” she said conversationally, then proceeded to lean over and vomit all over his other seat. She sat back up and looked at him, a look of consternation crossing her face. “Oh my.”

He had caroused enough that the smell and sight of the vomit didn’t distress him. He took out his handkerchief and gently wiped her lips. “See? That is what you get for making this gross thing even bigger!” He settled her back against him, thumping on the roof to tell the driver to take him home. He wasn’t certain, but it sounded like she mumbled “Oh, shut up!”. Her fingers drifted across his stomach, fiddling with another button. He sighed, looking at his belly rise up as he inhaled. Fending her off had no effect whatsoever, and by the time they pulled up to his townhouse she had undone the lowest three buttons on his waistcoat. He lifted her in his arms and took her inside. The doctor was inside already. Raoul hesitated slightly, then took her to his chambers. Laying her down on the bed he stood back.

The doctor did a perfunctory exam then nodded to him. “She is fine. She has a concussion and will likely be very sore tomorrow. Don’t let her go to sleep for the next three hours, then wake her up every hour thereafter. If you cannot wake her up have someone send for me immediately.”

“Can she be moved?”

“I wouldn’t suggest moving her for the next two days, at a minimum at least one day.”

“Also, she seems…disoriented, almost childlike. Is that normal?”

“It can be.”

Raoul looked at her after the doctor left. He had dreamed of this woman on his bed for the last several weeks. His lust was tempered only by his worry for her.

He sat on the bed next to her. She opened her eyes, nestling her face into his pillow. “I know it probably smells, but the doctor said we cannot move you for the next day or two.” He laid a hand on her forehead, then cheek. She nestled her face into his palm, making him smile. “You really are disoriented, you poor thing.” He reached over to his bedside table for his book so he could read while he watched over her. Cold on his stomach made him yelp and jerk. He looked down in horror to where her cold hand rested on the exposed lower side of his stomach. His shirt must have worked its way free when he was carrying her inside and reaching for his book.

Feeling nauseous he swallowed and looked at her face with dread. She tilted her face against the pillow, eyes on his stomach, and deliberately squeezed. Raoul knew he wasn’t ‘fat’ per say, but he still had enough padding that she managed to get a handful. He winced, but was surprised when she made a noise of pleasure. “You like that?” he joked softly. “Don’t worry. You can have that piece. I have more.” This was probably the only time that he was going to see Kitty Chelsey unguarded and unfettered, and a little destructive part of himself wanted to see what she really thought when she wasn’t focused on what other people thought.

Instead of answering she tugged at his coattails, which he took off. She lifted his shirt, exposing the top of the roll which had formed by him sitting down and turning his upper body. She slowly slid her index finger from his back to halfway down his stomach, causing shivers to race through him. His heart thundered in his chest as she looked him full in the face and brought that same index finger across the front of his little pot, to rest right in his belly button. She wriggled it. He stared in disbelief as the corner of her lip quirked slightly, lower lip caught between her teeth, then giggled shyly, burying her face in his pillow as she turned on her side, breasts pushing out of her low cut dress.

Raoul stood up, an odd mixture of shame and lust running through him. He ran a shaking hand through his hair, reminding himself she was not his wife and he could not, would not compromise her. He would propose to her right now if he thought she was in her right mind. It was more important than ever he stop this rampant eating and get himself back into shape. She might find his disgusting body funny when she had slammed her head into a log, but sooner or later she would come back to her senses. When she did he needed to be there, whole and every inch the man she would want and desire. He looked down at her half lidded eyes, lips parted in an unconscious come hither look. Walking stiffly to the bellpull, he tugged for Martha. He was going to need a chaperone.

(Continued in post 21 of this thread)

Last edited by Britt Reid; 12-05-2011 at 10:46 PM.
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Old 03-22-2011, 04:39 AM   #12
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this is brilliant, i'm really enjoying the read, please continue.
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Old 03-22-2011, 07:01 AM   #13
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agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!agouderia keeps pushing the rep limit!
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Interesting new installment - I can't wait to see how this one plays itself out, given the social restrictions of the time period.

At any rate, very happy to see a talented new BHM writer here!
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Old 03-23-2011, 10:22 AM   #14
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Oh, I'm sucker for period pieces. This is making me veeeerrry happy.
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Old 03-25-2011, 09:03 PM   #15
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Lovely! I am eager to see how this develops!
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Old 03-26-2011, 11:10 AM   #16
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I second that this is brilliant. Keep going!
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Old 03-27-2011, 03:56 AM   #17
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i rejoice in the fruit of your talent, and eagerly await your next installment anon
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Old 03-27-2011, 11:34 AM   #18
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This is absolutely fantastic, so far one of the best stories I've read on here! can't wait for the next part.
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Old 03-28-2011, 06:30 PM   #19
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Another reader happy... please continue!
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Old 03-28-2011, 07:08 PM   #20
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Sorry for the delay, I should have the next bit posted shortly!
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:51 PM   #21
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She stared up at Raoul as he straddled her, slowly climbing up her body, kissing her hungrily. He was deliciously round. His cheekbones were obscured by a layer of pudge on his cheeks, merging into a soft double chin that deepened when he grinned.

He straddled her, naked, and patted his soft middle. “I’m going to get so fat,” he growled to her, hands caressing his bulk as she fed him ice cream. “I know you love it, you saucy wench. You want it bigger, don’t you?” He grabbed the sides of his belly and under her gaze it grew perceptibly, bulging into a sizeable paunch, eating the ice cream more quickly. “You want to feed me until I explode, don’t you?” He let go of his belly and it sloshed forward, sagging down. He looked into her eyes, smirking as his face rounded, his double chin thickening. He jiggled it, and each wave that rippled through it caused it to sag further and further, jutting out demandingly. “You want this big gut to smother you.” He hefted it and let it fall. The massive globe of quivering fat covered her from stomach to chin, sagging onto the bed.

The weight threatened to cut off her breath, and slowly it began to hurt. She struggled, but was unable to move his massive bulk, which was hurting her ribs. Raoul rocked forward, bracing himself on her shoulders, and licked her.

Jerking back with a squeal, Kitty pushed. Two massive dogs looked at her, panting. One had a paw on each of her shoulders, tongue dangling. The other was sprawled across her middle. When she looked at it, it barked, rolling off her and kicking the sheets. Both dogs began barking excitedly as she began shifting.

Where was she? She inhaled, then groaned. The entire bed smelled of Raoul.

It wasn’t as if she couldn’t remember anything that happened yesterday. It was odd – it felt like she was viewing memories of someone else’s past. Or perhaps the future. It was a struggle, but she remembered seeing brown hurl towards her. There was a blank space where her brain seemed to twist around the memory, avoiding whatever happened. The next thing she really remembered, that felt like it actually happened was…feeding Raoul ice cream? That couldn’t be right, that must have been a dream. She turned between the soft sheets. Musky, heady, pleasant, the smell of him filled her nostrils. She lifted her head, groaning as it began to pound and nausea set in as her stomach lurched.

The lighter brown dog whined at her, big, begging eyes moving from her to the door. “Do you need to relieve yourself?” Both dogs cocked their heads, ears pricking and staring at her. “Relieve yourself?” She repeated, amused. They stood motionless before launching off the bed and spinning around on the floor, play bowing.

Kitty looked around the room. Although she had no proof this was Raoul’s room, she had a strong feeling this little space was his. It was exactly how she pictured it would be. Well put together like its tenant, it was a tidy mess. Books were stacked on a bedside table carefully but not precisely, the spines on several well worn from reading. The closet door was slightly ajar. A cravat hung off a closet knob. The sheets she lay on were high quality but not overly fancy. Large pillows were piled beside the bed, along with a half chewed bone and a mangled doll.

Curiosity overcame her and she slipped out of bed, ignoring her head and stomach. The dogs panted at her, laying down patiently. Instead of cold floor, a lush carpet tickled her toes. Curling them in delight she smiled, sliding a hand down the mahogany bedpost. Making her way to the window she looked out, breathing in the air. It was a beautiful view of the park, with a pond twinkling merrily in the distance. The thin linen night rail she had been dressed in flapped against her gently in the late summer air. A clicking noise made her look over her shoulder. Raoul stood against the door frame, looking at her intensely. The mirror beside the door reflected her own wane image back at her.

The summer sun from the window filtered through the thin fabric, highlighting every curve for him to see. Half turned as she was, the underside of her left breast was clear, and there was a deep shadow between her legs, highlighting their contours. Heat flooded her cheeks, and she moistened, staring at the man in the doorway as if for the first time. He looked haggard but still deathly handsome, hair mussed and cravat messy . The first time she had met him he had seemed a cultured tease, darkly if typically handsome.

Something about him had changed. Her dream intruded, and she felt her nipples tighten. Dark grey eyes still eyed her boldly, but a shadow of hesitation darkened them. His face looked more inviting – less rigid and hard. Not only figuratively, but literally, she realized. His cheeks were softer, with the slightest shadow below his chin, which deepened slightly when he looked down. His broad chest was the same, but instead of sliding into a trim waist, he looked ever so slightly rounder and fuller. The silver button on his waistcoat on the thickest part of his waist winked in the light, catching her eye.

He followed her gaze. “Get dressed. You’re father will be along shortly. Bird, Hedge, come.”

Kitty stared at the vacant space he had been standing, feeling more naked than before. Both dogs looked after him, undecided. “Is your Master always so…so…URG!” she clenched her hands. She held out her hands and both dogs came to her, entire bodies wriggling in delight as her fingers took out their frustration on their most itchy spots.

Once both dogs were pools of liquid happiness on the floor she dressed herself, using the mirror to try and lace herself up. “Ready?” She asked the two. Both got up and padded out the door. Unsure where she was headed, Kitty followed the two, who were very obviously leading her somewhere.

Kitty looked around as she walked, interested. Unlike the bedroom, the rest of the house was beautiful, but austere, without Raoul’s distinctive touch. Every room looked like it had been specifically designed to be beautiful - and uninviting.

The dogs scampered into a doorway. Rounding the corner, she inhaled sharply. “It’s beautiful,” she breathed as she entered what was obviously the breakfast room. The room was painted a golden cream color. Mirrors around the room reflected the morning light without blinding. The large table was set with food. Raoul stared at his empty plate, brooding. He barely glanced at her, not rising. Something in her snapped. This was ridiculous. The man was hot as a summers day and cool as a winters night the next. One moment he looked like he was interested and the next he was ignoring her like a serving wench. “Thank you for your hospitality.” She curtseyed, patted both dogs on the head, and walked back out of the room.

“Wait, Ms Chelsey,” he called. When she did not return, she heard the chair scrape. Booted feet followed her. “Stop running away from me.”

“I’m not running, I am walking at a decorous and proper pace.”

“You know very well what I mean.” He grabbed her arm.

“Let me go!” Temper frayed, exhausted, and hurt, she jerked at her arm. She hit his chest weakly with her other fist. “You are intolerable and have no self control and I hate you!” Two low growls made them both look at the dogs, who were looking at their master with eyes gone flat, ears pinned back.

“You are traitors,” Raoul told the dogs in disgust. The smaller male sneezed and bigger male wagged his tail. He looked at her, dark circles under his eyes. “You have no idea how much self control I have,” he ground out, touching a trailing lock of hair at her neck. “Do you think for a moment that I am not attracted to you? Did you think that I will now lay tortured in my own bed where the smell of you lingers, while I dream of you?” She felt her eyes widen, and he looked into them with grim satisfaction.

“You have no love for me. You don’t even know the first thing about me,” Kitty managed, unwanted tears welling in her eyes. “You are cruel to play with me. I have nothing, nothing you could possibly want. I have no family, no connections, no fortune. I am not beautiful, talented, or interesting. No, it is better if you say nothing,” she forestalled him when he tightened his grip and opened his mouth. “I have no family or friends to speak of other than the Duke’s family who have been very kind to me, and my father, who spends his days drinking to stop thinking about my mother! I do not even have a reputation since meeting you!” Jerking out of his now lax grip she wiped at her eyes. “All I can do is beg you to not importune me anymore. I thank you for your kindness in rescuing me, and thank you to leave me alone!”

Kitty stopped at the door, trying to calm herself. “If my father does come, which I doubt, please tell him I am fine and will be at home shortly.”

*~*~*~*

Raoul looked down at his two dogs, who looked back up at him with expressions of disgust. Hedge sighed heavily, laying his massive head on his thick paws and staring after her. Bird went to the door and stared up at the handle expectantly. And now his dogs were as besotted as he was. Wonderful.

Hungry and irritated, he stalked his own front hall, hands clasped behind his back. She was wrong. He did know about her. She liked horses and dogs, and being outdoors. She loved to read but only outside, and hated society as much as him. She…was practical and sweet. He glared at a statue of an ugly dancing angel. Her family wasn’t a disgrace, despite some questionable issues with her parents.

But what was her political views? Did she want children? Those things, no, he did not know. He would have the rest of his life to find out everything about her. Because she was wrong – she was beautiful, intelligent, vivacious and stubborn. He grinned at the thought of her green eyes flashing up at him, hitting his chest. He walked up the stairs to his room and fell face first on his bed, his dogs going to their beds.

She was also right. He was an untenable ass to her. He couldn’t understand why he kept acting that way. Then again, her behavior hadn’t exactly been the model of consistency either. He inhaled her womanly scent. She didn’t use perfumes, and she had a heady natural aroma he found enticing. He found himself hardening, remembering yesterday when she fed him the ice cream. And her touching him. He did so have self control. His own thoughts sounded sulky even to himself. How could she look at him with such stunning sexual confidence, even when looking at his recent weight gain, then the next day treat him like…like…he didn’t even know!

He sat up and buried his face in his pillow, which smelled like her hair. He wanted to do something special for her, he realized. But what? What would she like? His mind raced. A puppy? No. That was not the kind of gift he was looking for. A necklace? Had she ever even worn a necklace?

“Wait a moment,” Raoul grinned. “I have it.” Both dogs looked back at him.


*~*~*~*

Kitty walked into her house. “Fanny?” she called. The old woman tottered out of their drawing room, clutching a wrapped box carefully. “What do you have there?”

“A gift, it says. From Bird and Hedge? Is that a new store?”

Kitty stared at the box, a lump in her throat. “From Bird and Hedge, you say?”

“Aye, that’s what it says.”

Taking the box she brought it up to her room. It was a very large box. Placing it on her bed she stared at it, undecided. She opened the card.

Two large paw prints covered most of the surface area. I know you said it isn’t practical, but please, I beg you, take this as a token of sincere affection and respect for you.

She covered her face, choking back laughter. It was probably a dead cat, if it was from the dogs. This was madness. She should return this. Fingers wriggling above the bow, she finally pulled at the silk. It slipped off. The white box stared up at her. Opening it carefully, she gasped.

Yards of sapphire blue silk looked back at her. Sliding shaking fingers along the smooth surface she closed her eyes. His voice echoed in her mind, exasperated. Are you going to buy that? She remembered her own response. No. It isn’t practical.

She had never owned anything so fine. Carefully, she lifted the bundle and let the material slide along her face. There was a letter at the bottom of the box, and a smaller box. She lifted the smaller box. A pair of pearl earrings were nestled inside. “I can’t accept this,” she breathed, panic setting in. She opened the letter, hands shaking.

Yes, you can accept this, Kitty. If buying you anything the day we picnicked together showed me, it was that you deserve every single piece. I have been wrong so often with you, all I can do is beg your indulgence. I hope to show you a constancy in my character that seems to have been lacking so far.

Kitty looked up at Fanny, who was staring at the material and pearls with surprised admiration. Could he mean…? “Fanny? You were married. Did you love your husband?”

“I was a very lucky woman. We loved each other very much.”

“How did you know? How did you know he loved you?”

Instead of answering Fanny sat beside her, smoothing her hair. “Why? Is the young man who sent this to you bothering your head?”

“Nottingham is the most insufferable man I have ever met!” Kitty exploded. “One moment he is all affection and gentle words, then the next he is as forward and bold as can be! Then the next, he is cold as ice or angry!”

“Nottingham?” Fanny raised her brows. “Raoul Nottingham? My dear, if that boy is anything like his father he will not stop until he has what he wants. Oh yes, I knew his father, and grandfather. Your grandmother took me with her when they used to dine with them. My dear, if a Nottingham has set some sort of design on you, there is no doubt that he wants you. They are a proud, temperamental bunch, but they are utterly devoted. To their family, to their staff, to their animals and their estate. They may seem impetuous but once they set their mind and heart to something they will not give up.”

Kitty looked at her, eyes blurring. She had been so cruel to him and he only treated her with kindness - rescuing her, taking her for a picnic, rescuing her, sending her gifts. Perhaps he wasn't as inconsistent as she had thought...

“Now. Lets get this made into a beautiful dress for you. Blue is a little cold. I think if we add rose pink trimmings it will brighten it up and bring out the pearls.” Fanny looked at her, her blue aged eyes peering at her more sharply than in many months. “I notice you didn’t ask how you would know if you loved him back.” She smiled.

Last edited by Lou Grant; 04-05-2011 at 03:17 AM.
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Old 04-01-2011, 09:24 AM   #22
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Washing himself in the tepid water from the morning, he avoided the softer parts of his body. “You will do this, coward,” he muttered, rubbing himself off. When his man arrived with his clothes he almost threw a fit and called it off. His slightly thicker thighs and ass bulged in the tight material, while his belly created a gap, showcasing his white shirt between his coat buttons and pants whenever he forgot and relaxed his middle.

Hopping into his curricle he drove himself to the party he knew Kitty would be at. The Duke was a kind man, and always extended him an invitation, if only out of respect for his long dead father. Luckily there were few people on the streets, because the entire ride past in a blur and he couldn’t have recalled anything if his life depended on it. Throwing his reins at the nearest man blindly, he made his way up the stairs and through the throng. There were hundreds of people packing the rooms, and he made his way from one to the next with an increasing sense of urgency.

“Emily!” her voice rang out nearby. Sliding through the crowd, he caught sight of his woman. His heart hammered in his chest, and he felt a grin tighten his cheeks. Her curvaceous form was sheathed in his blue silk, too tight then was appropriate, given her curves. He frowned at the appreciative glances she was receiving. The curve in her waist was highlighted by pink silk, which was also braided into the plunging neckline of her dress. The crowd moved, allowing him to move closer and drink her in more fully.


She was hanging off the arm of a huge man, smiling up at him affectionately. A young woman came up to her, listened to what she had to say, then grabbed Kitty’s hands, squealing in excitement. His gorge rising, he watched the pair. They seemed to natural together, and despite the man’s massive girth Kitty did not seem repulsed at all, actually letting her arm press into the man, flirting. Who was that blob? He would almost have preferred Westmore. And he had thought…stupid…stupid…

Looking to the side he began to melt back into the crowd. “Nottingham!” Westmore called, appearing at his side.

Kitty’s head jerked up, bright green eyes finding him. Unwilling to see any derision on her face he pretended not to see her, looking at the man. “Westmore,” he bowed back. “I say, there are a few too many people in here.”

“You are telling me! I’m thinking of leaving soon myself. This is just foolishness.”

“Why are there so many people here?” Raoul took the glass of wine Westmore handed him, remembering to stand tall and suck in.

“Daughter of the Duke just announced her betrothal to some whats-his-face.”

“Whats-his-face?”

“Do you really care?”

“Not particularly,” Raoul admitted.

Standing closer, Westmore glanced at Kitty Chelsey. “Speaking of reasons, why are you here?” When Raoul spluttered, coughing on his wine, Westmore rolled his eyes. “Come man, you disappear for years, show back up, start socializing in polite society, then show interest in a woman who will undoubtedly turn into a spinster. Or whore, based on that dress. What game are you playing?”

No, he took it back, he would not prefer Westmore. His vision darkened with rage. Adrenaline pumped through his veins, making him feel light headed. This pompous, stuck up, idiot - “And why would Ms. Chelsey turn into a spinster? She is a beautiful young woman, who is charming and funny. She is intelligent enough to hold a conversation with, and has a body any man would be lucky to touch. I would be very much surprised if she did not find a suitor.” He stepped towards the man, who stepped back smartly.

“I couldn’t agree more, though perhaps the woman herself might be embarrassed if we continue to wax eloquent on that particular subject,” a voice said behind him. The man from across the room who Kitty had been talking to was smiling at him.

“Ah, Nottingham, Telford. Telford, Nottingham.” Westmore toasted them both. “I see I shall have to keep my comments to myself in the presence of two such great admirers of the lady.” He bowed shortly, face sour, and took himself off.

Raoul studied the man silently. Bright blue eyes regarded him steadily and merrily. The man’s lips looked like they were constantly smiling or on the verge of it, causing his chubby cheeks to stand out. He looked, well, fat. Big belly, big double chin, thick arms and legs. The memory of Kitty smiling up at this man flashed through his mind, followed by a mental image of these two making love. The man raised his hands, placating. Raoul swallowed hard, realizing he had locked his jaw and had probably been glaring, fists clenched. “You know Ms Chelsey?

“Like a sister,” The man emphasized, grinning when Raoul’s breath expelled sharply. “I am a married man, and no competition to you.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about,” he bit off.

“If one were to consider me a brother to her, I would be forced to concede that I have some very protective urges in regards to her happiness and well being.” Telford told him, looking serious for the first time. “And as a figurative brother, I am noticing some attachment on her side. I would hate for her to have her heart broken. You know the type.”

Growling, Raoul clenched his fists. “I have no intention of breaking anyone’s heart, if that is what you are implying, sir.”

“Perhaps I misunderstood, but I got the impression you showed her remarkable favoritism at one time. She looks very beautiful in that dress tonight, doesn’t she?”

The man did not seem intimidated at all. Most men shrank back when he was this angry. He could feel his pulse pound in his neck. “Come, let us walk,” he ground out, clasping his hands behind his back. Making their way slowly through the room Raoul struggled to get his temper back. “At one time?”

“She seems to think you have reservations. Am I correct in assuming her gift was from you?”

Raoul wanted to howl in frustration and triumph. “She is gravely mistaken on that count. And yes, it was from me.”

Telford frowned. “It isn’t like Kitty to misinterpret. Oh, I approve, don’t you worry! Are you sure you made your interest clear?”

Raoul offered the other man his hand. “Raoul. I appreciate your support, but Kitty does not seem inclined to commit any sort of regard for me.”

“Geoffrey. What you have to realize is that as romantic as Kitty is, she is also very practical. She is twenty five, with little but her charms and looks to recommend her. Her Mother was well liked and respected, despite being headstrong, which is the only reason that she is really allowed into our circle at all.” He looked up at him earnestly. “She knows she needs to find a husband, and will do so even if it injures her pride or any other emotion she might be feeling for another.”

“You have no idea how much I want her,” Raoul tugged at his cravat, breathing faster as the realization of what the other man said hit home. “In my life, in my house, in my –”

“-bed.” The other man laughed. Many people laughed, but not many people did with the simple pleasure of it. Geoffrey had that loud, infectious laughter that made even Raoul smile. “Come. I am infinitely respectable to a matron, being kindhearted, well known, and fat, I am hardly a temptation for the young women.” And it was true. When the phalanx began to form as it had before, Geoffrey suddenly turned into a charmer. Not of young women, but of older women. He laughed, joked, made himself harmless. The only time he had to withdraw his teeth was when one made a comment about Raoul.

Geoffrey looked at her with a kindly expression on his face and simply said “As a gentleman of integrity I have high standards in those I associate with, which is why I seek out your company regularly, madam.” The women all looked confused, trying to interpret whether that was a compliment, or slight.

Taking that opportunity, they slipped up to Kitty’s side. She had their back to them, serving herself some punch. Raoul froze, all the anger draining out of him. He stared at her back, feeling profoundly protective and vulnerable. He wanted to wrap his arms around her, kiss her, soothe her fears and telling her he loved her until he was hoarse. Because he did love her.

Geoffrey looked into his eyes. Whatever he saw made him nod with satisfaction. The man clasped his hand, standing back a few paces as a deterrent to those looking to approach.

(Continued on page two, post 33, of this thread)

Last edited by Britt Reid; 12-05-2011 at 10:49 PM.
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Old 04-01-2011, 11:02 AM   #23
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Loving this.
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Old 04-01-2011, 12:52 PM   #24
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It's fascinating how you manage to emulate the pre-Freudian tone of period novels, where characters show their authenticity by speaking their mind and acting on impulse, disregarding that many of these emotions and sensibilities are predominantly reserved to the subconscious, even in an open society.
Living in the post-Freudian - believe it or not - world, it at first irritated me when I started reading authors like the Bronte sisters, who strongly used this literary approach until I understood that this was just a very different, truly period way of developing characters.
So - congratulations on your talent in capturing this and can't wait for the next chapters!
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Old 04-01-2011, 05:03 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by agouderia View Post
It's fascinating how you manage to emulate the pre-Freudian tone of period novels, where characters show their authenticity by speaking their mind and acting on impulse, disregarding that many of these emotions and sensibilities are predominantly reserved to the subconscious, even in an open society.
Living in the post-Freudian - believe it or not - world, it at first irritated me when I started reading authors like the Bronte sisters, who strongly used this literary approach until I understood that this was just a very different, truly period way of developing characters.
So - congratulations on your talent in capturing this and can't wait for the next chapters!
Thank you - I think I hope it's not too unsubtle!!

I'm trying to make it as authentic feeling as I can. I'm trying to avoid that "overlord narrator" feeling of the reader being informed of something that the characters themselves didn't know. It's not like these two can just roll into bed after a date and find each other out over the course of months by living together, or just date without pressure like we can today. It always seemed to me in that period if you were interested in a woman you may have a narrow window in which to pursue her if she was on the market (as it were), and that there was so much subtle language that went on day to day that more clear, bold language would have to be spoken on both sides to differentiate that there was a special interest that would be more than the simple flirting thjat was expected with any eligible man/woman.

My boyfriend commented on it when I made him watch pride and prejudice (bbc version all the way!). He said he knew how Bingley felt when he thought he might have missed out on Jane after they left Netherfield. He said that even today attractive women don't stay single long (not that I agree, there are plenty of pretty and stunning single women who can't find the right guy, that was just his verbage!), and if you don't make your interest clear that you might miss your change or sink through the friend threshhold and be just a dude in her life. When he was interested in me I was with another guy, and he only waited a week before asking me out for a drink, and was not subtle in expressing his initial interest or that he was falling in love with me.


Just as an aside..."Large pillows were piled beside the bed, along with a half chewed bone and a mangled dog" were supposed to be "...mangled doll." A mangled dog beside a bed wouldnt rather distrubing...lol.
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