Chapter Twenty Five
“John, I cannot possibly pull that over your head.”
“Here. You sit on the edge of the bed. Part your legs a little bit so I can get close enough for you to pull it over my head.”
Margaret did as she was told, ensuring her nightdress was pulled down properly.
John snuggled between her knees and lifted the bottom of his shirt to give her a start. As he felt it being pulled from his body, he was exhilarated. No one had done that for him before tonight. When the shirt was removed, Margaret was staring into his eyes. He watched her drop it to the floor without taking her eyes off of him. She was hypnotic to him. She put her small hands on the sides of his face and pulled him to her mouth. John gradually slipped his arms around her waist as he pressed her lips hard.
Margaret moved her hands to his hair, eliciting a moan from John. In another moment she was trying to rub down his back.
John lowered his head to her lap. He snuggled into the wedge between her parted legs. He thought how he would gladly die right there.
Margaret couldn’t stop feeling his skin under her hands or John’s hot breath where there were already flames.
Finally, she lifted his head. He hugged her tighter, not wanting to part from where he was.
Margaret had to reach down to raise his chin.
“John, you’re drooling on me.”
“I’m not sure if that is you or me,” he looked at her with such joy in his heart.
“Me? Never mind. I do not want to hear your explanation just now. I want to feel the hair on your chest. You cannot imagine how many times I’ve dreamt of doing that.”
“This is a bit awkward. I will lie on the bed next to you. I hope you are not too attached to this side closest to the door. A man always takes that protective post.”
“I love you, John Thornton.”
John stood, almost heady with his own dreams after being where he was. Lying right there had been the best moments of his life, and still, they were only at the beginning of their lovemaking to come.
“You’re not going to remove everything, are you? Margaret asked hesitatingly.
“I think it is best that I do not do that just yet. I will leave on my undergarment. Will that be all right with you?”
John moved into the shadows and disrobed to his last cotton garment. He slid into bed before the light could fall on him and startle her. The night had brought so much to him that was not expected. He was walking on air.
“We’ll meet in the middle,” laughed Margaret.
“Could I try something, love?” John asked.
John laughed, realizing what she might be thinking. “I want to test several areas where I can lay my arm across you. I want your head lying in my neck, but I will need some guidance from you of where the other arm will not hurt you.”
John and Margaret began the testing of the situation. He found that it was her bottom rib that was the painful area. Anywhere other than that, seemed to be tolerable to her.
“Can you lay on your side at all,” he asked.
“I can only roll towards you and lay on that side.”
“That will do just fine for kissing you all night long.”
Margaret asked John to lay on his back for her. She was able to roll over on her good side and place her hand on his chest. Before she could even start to feel the magic, John lifted her hand and kissed her palm.
She began her quest in earnest and swept him from his neck to his garment. All the way down, it tickled her hand. She giggled. Upon hearing that, John reached for her hand again and kissed it once more.
Once it was returned to her control, she initiated her wish slowly. Moment after moment went by as she ran her fingers everywhere. Occasionally, she would stop to circle his nipple because that seemed to produce a shiver in him and she loved that.
“This has been the greatest night of my life. You have brought me such joy tonight. I could never form strong enough words to tell you how wonderful it all is. I feel at one with you. You are my other half. Without you, I know I could not live.”
“Shh… You’re going to make me cry. I feel the same way. I am uneasy that I could lose you, though. You don’t have that to contend with that as I do.”
“What do you mean, love? I will never leave you, you know that.” John said with conviction.
Margaret didn’t say anything. She stopped the pleasure of his chest and laid back down. Why did she have to go a spoil her most beautiful evening, too? She knew why. She was deeply feeling his love and to lose what she had experienced tonight would shatter her world, now. Margaret began to weep.
John threw his arm over his eyes, wanting to weep himself. He realized what she was talking about and there was little he could say and not lie.
He rolled so he as facing her. He placed his hand on her cheek and stroked her face.
“Margaret, you know how much I love, don’t you?”
“Yes. As much as I love you.”
“Margaret, I will never do anything to ruin what we have. I am not going off to London to play hero. As much as I would want to avenge you, I cannot chance losing what we have now. You do believe me, don’t you?”
Margaret could hear the tears in his voice. She felt tired of making John sad and come to his own defence every time she alluded to her imagination. She would desist talking with him about it.
“John, I promise never to bring that up again. Just hold me.”
John moved as close as he could to her and rested his hand on her hip.
“Something’s wiggling down there,” Margaret said in amusement. Are there three of us in this bed.”
Chuckling, John said, “I am afraid so. When you married me, he came along for the ride.”
“Does he need a driver?”
John broke out in a bout of laughter. Margaret felt the bed shaking.
“No, sweetheart. He has his own driver.”
“Maybe tomorrow night, I will be brave enough to meet him.”
“We have an accord, Mrs. Thornton.”
John stayed awake several hours, just holding his life in his arms. He wished the light would never come.
Frederick left the night lodging house and found a distant surveillance spot. He felt good that his practice of running from the Navy was now going to pay dividends. As much as he would like to shoot that man where he lay, he would be arrested and then the Navy would come after him. He liked his sister’s husband and knew that he needed to be in on the annihilation of this man as much as he did.
Since there was no definite plan yet, Frederick decided to follow Hartford and see where he would lay low for the day. He could not be sure if Hartford knew what he looked like, so he had to keep out of sight from the man.
Frederick did not have to wait long. Hartford emerged pulling his brim low and proceeded to an ale house four streets over. There were a lot of people moving about at this time of the morning, allowing Frederick to blend in well enough. Frederick was staying three building lengths to the rear of him and behind other walking workers.
Hartford entered the tavern and sat in a booth. A bar wench came to his table and asked what he would like.
“You got bangers?”
“Yeah, honey. You want that?”
“Give me the bangers and whatever comes with ‘em and a pint, Miss.”
The waitress turned and left the table. He was surprised at all the workers eating in there. He thought there must be a lot of single men in town. From what he’d overheard last night, he expected these men to head for their mills in about thirty minutes. That would give him enough time for the privy and eating his food. When he found Marlborough Mills, he could walk straight through the gate and look around.
Frederick waited patiently for Hartford to come out. He only hoped the man was not spotted by the bobbies and arrested before his revenge party could get to him, themselves.
As Margaret opened her eyes, squinting at the light coming through the window, she noticed John watching her.
“Good morning, husband,” she said, yawning.
“Good morning, wife of mine. Do you feel any soreness around your rib?”
“What did you do? Have your way with me while I slept?” Margaret said smiling.
John grinned and leaned over to kiss her fully awake. He must have kissed her a hundred times during the night and still was unquenched.
“Since you don’t know the answer to that, I will have to practice more.”
Margaret attempted a laugh and then held her rib.
John thought she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Her hair was scattered all around her face and across his own pillow. As she slept, he noticed how her lashes swept her cheeks and saw the movement of her eyes behind the closed lips. Her full mouth would part sometimes, and he lightly traced his finger over each one. She had soft, smooth, lovely skin. To John, it seemed like she would take the sun when it was available in London. It had a luster to it, unlike strikingly white porcelain. Would it be that she would stroll the parks and then sit to read a book – perhaps, about randy men? That made him laugh quietly which must have brought Margaret awake.
Margaret rolled to face him, and John felt relieved that he could hold her more firmly, circling her back.
She tilted her head up to look into his eyes, placing her palm on his unshaven face. Again, he reached for her hand, kissed her palm, and returned it to his face.
That moment . . . that very instant, with her looking up into his eyes as they lie in bed together, her hand on his cheek, pressed in on John like an epiphany. He was startled at the awareness of that very moment in time as if he were endowed with that vision forever. The moment was being branded into his memory. Her eyes were filled with love for him; the spell was sweet utopia, and he recognized it for what it was . . . the pure look of love. He bent down and kissed her like he had never kissed her before.
Margaret had noticed it was a moment for John and his kiss verified her feelings.
“John, you went somewhere in your thoughts. Where is that world?”
He was surprised at her perception, but she was coming to know him in ways he did not know himself. “I cannot explain it. The look you gave to me is now tucked away forever in a special place. I will be able to take it out and relive it anytime that I want to. It’s inscribed for eternity. He kissed her again. And they laid there in silence for a while.
“Mrs. Thornton, please know this is not a normal morning that you will experience.”
“I suppose you will have risen, dressed, and left for work?”
“Dressed . . . eventually, risen, most definitely. You shall be thoroughly ravished before breakfast each morning.”
“Is that when we do it . . . mornings, I mean?
John was about to laugh loudly when he saw her smile. John continued the play.
“Is there a better time for you, my love?”
“How can I know yet? I have heard some lady’s don’t like it and some love it. How do I know which one I will be?”
John sensed this was a real question. “I am of the opinion that all women have the capability to enjoy that side of their life if – and only if – they have a caring and experienced partner.”
“And that would be you?”
“That would be me, indeed, my love. I have practiced enough during my youth and years until now. You, my love, are my grand performance.” John beamed. “I will admit there will be a first for me, here and there. I have reserved those pleasures for the woman that I married.”
Still looking into his eyes, Margaret pulled a few strands of chest hair.
“Ouch! You are lucky, Mrs. Thornton, that you are in a delicate way or that would have resulted in luscious punishment.
“So, I can do that without having to ask the words?
John smiled at her. “I seriously doubt you will ever have to ask.”
“Now,” John continued, “how do we start this morning process of me pretending not to peek? Ouch!”
Figuring out the procedure was indeed a challenge. John insisted that she use the pitcher with water and the bowl first. Margaret headed that way and then declined, knowing she washed more than her face, but could not tell him that, yet. John using the water in the same way; could not tell her that, either. He could not walk half naked, carrying his clothes to the privy and he did not trust Margaret going down the stairs carrying anything. They stood and stared at each other and burst out laughing finally realizing both had the same thoughts. Margaret was about to wet herself, and the situation worsened. She put one hand over her mouth to stop laughing and one hand between her legs, like a little girl, to stem the tide that was coming out as the case seemed to be. She started jiggling, and it got worse as John was laughing so hard at her. She finally just pee’d where she stood, still holding herself. The most shameful look came over her face as John saw what she was doing. He fell on the bed holding his stomach as the use of his laughing muscles were so new, it hurt.
“Stop laughing. I am a disgrace,” she said.
John continued to roll around on the bed enjoying this new first and maybe only adventure like this in their life.
“I actually don’t think it will leak through to the downstairs, Margaret. I guess no one told you about the chamber pot under the bed. That’s for emergencies such as this.” He beamed.
“Did I just hear you say something like ‘ooh-ooh’?” John asked in all seriousness, as he rose to find a towel.
“No, I didn’t say that.”
“I am sure you did, my sweet.”
Margaret started to laugh again.
“What does ooh-ooh mean? John asked. “It sounds like a child’s word.
Margaret blushed quite badly.
“You are really piquing my interest now,” John smiled, as he bent down to dry the floor. Ooh-ooh, Mrs. Thornton, if you please.”
“John, stop saying that. It’s vulgar.”
“Margaret, you could hardly ever say anything vulgar. I shall walk around all day saying that word unless you tell me.”
“I’m not telling.”
“Fine, I shall ask your brother.”
“He will laugh at you.” Margaret smiled.
“Let him. It shall be worth it.”
“I’m not sure he knows,” Margaret replied.
“I shall see. And that is my final word on the subject. Now . . . what do we do about you?