John Thornton, Look Back at Me – pt 19

Warning: Adult Content, this chapter

Chapter 19

     More Then Joy

 

Finding John unwinding from the excitement of the day, lounging across the couch, Margaret curled up beside him.

“Today was so wonderful.  I can’t think of any other day in my life that I have enjoyed more.  Sadly, I think I shall have to be going home tomorrow.  John, thank you for these past days; they’ve meant more than you could know.  They have been the loveliest and happiest days of my life, ever”

“Do not thank me.  I need no thanks from the one I love.  I cannot tell you how it has pleased me to my very soul to have you here.  I’ve laughed more in a few days than, literally, my entire life.  And like you, our time together has meant more to me than all my life experiences.”

Margaret smiled at John.  “You’re going to have to be on your best behavior tonight because sooner, or later, you will discover that Dixon is out for the entire evening.  She will return to my house instead of here.  So, we are totally alone all night.”

His body flooded with warmth at her words.  He knew his control would not last through the night.  His mind started whirling, and he could feel the heat rising in his body.  Damn the proclamation; this chance may never happen for a long time, he thought.  He more than thought – he wanted to act.  He dreamed and hoped that the night would bring him the opportunity to allow Margaret to know herself and feel like a real woman.  John wanted that more for her than anything.  His own ecstasy was secondary.  “Hmm.  This presents a dilemma,” he said.

Again, Margaret was experiencing sensual stirrings that were causing her body to shiver, and this was not the first time since returned to Milton, only a month previous.  She was not so naive as to misconstrue them as anything other than a passion for John.  Against all propriety and a pious upbringing, she wanted him to make love to her.  She knew he could make her feel like the woman she wanted to be for him.  Margaret still held doubts about herself, as she had never known anything different with Booker.  But sensing the differences that her body was telling her, she knew that John was the one to clear all doubts.  Although, just coming out of her bereavement period and already feeling a commitment to John, there was no chance of intimacy tonight.  The possibility of conception was at its peak.  She knew she had to move away from being so near him.  She rose and went to sit by the fire.  “What do you mean by a dilemma?” she asked, refocusing her mind.

“Excuse me just a minute; I will return, momentarily,” John said, as he walked to his bedroom.  He turned up the gas heater so the room was warm and pulled down the sheets.  He came back, passing through the parlor into Margaret’s room.  He ruffled her sheets so it might appear that she had slept on her bed and then leaving, he closed the door.

“John, what are you doing?”  Margaret asked in bewilderment.

As John sat down next to her in front of the fire, he said, “I am preparing for a dilemma.”

“What dilemma?”

“I think we are out of yarn,” he laughed.

Margaret broke into a smile, but it further deepened her knowledge of the disappointment she knew was coming.  She started to rise from the carpet to sit in the chair when John grabbed her arm.

John sensed she was pulling away from him, but this time it seemed serious.  “Please, sit with me, here.  What is wrong, my love?  Are you apprehensive about what you perceive this night could bring to us?  I can remain the perfect gentleman if that’s what you truly want, but please let me be near you.”  John looked over and saw tears welling in her eyes.  Was she frightened of him?  He couldn’t bear it, if she was.  “Please don’t be afraid of me.  Nothing will happen unless you allow it.”

Margaret didn’t know anything else than to be honest with John.  “I am not afraid of you; it’s quite the reverse.  I am afraid of myself.”  Margaret paused, wondering how to explain the rest.  “I am well aware that the Thornton Proclamation is not, in effect, tonight.  I am sitting here . . . very . . . much desirous of you.  But it cannot happen tonight.  I am quite sure that I’m near or at the peak of conception.  I’m sorry.”  Margaret exhaled loudly, finally getting those words out of her mouth.  She was embarrassed about sounding so unladylike, or being too forward and expectant.

John fell back on the carpet, reeling at her words, not so much about the conception, but that she desired him enough to let him love her.  Every day of heartbreak for the past four years dissolved in those words that she had just spoken.  He put his arm over his face, and only pride kept his tears from falling.  It was the epitome of his hopes and dreams.  A word had not been invented that expressed his emotions at that moment.  He was not sure he could withstand the rush of four years of unrequited love, now reversing its course.  If Margaret’s feelings for him in the past had been a drop of water upon his face, he was now standing under a delirious waterfall.

He sat up quickly, took her hands in his, as her tears fell, and studied her.  He looked at her face, her eyes, her lips, her hair, missing nothing of her beauty.  She was his world, his universe, his everything.

 

Can this moment really be happening?

 

Margaret couldn’t understand all that was showing on his face, but he now expressed the most intimate smile she had ever seen, if there was such a thing.  He was in awe.  “John, you’ve said nothing in the last five minutes.  Please speak to me.”

John didn’t know where to begin.  “Those words that you just spoke, and I know they were from your heart, have fulfilled a hope and dream I’ve had for many years.  You are giving me the chance to love you, because you desire ME, John Thornton, a person you hated at one time in your life.”

Margaret flinched at the remembrance.

“I’ve had a ladder to climb all of my life that would equal the tallest building in the world, and I am only a couple of rungs from the top.  And I know the top is achievable, now.  As for the Thornton proclamation, it is now null and void because I know that you love me, even if you are not completely and utterly sure for yourself, yet.  Still, I do not want you to say the words.  And least of all, about your conception worries, let me love you tonight without any concern there.

“But . . .” Margaret started to say.

“No buts . . . Do you trust me?”  John asked solemnly.

“I do.  I just don’t see how . . . “Margaret trailed off.

John searched her fire-lit face for any signs of dissent.  All he saw was a weak smile.  He slowly stood, pulling Margaret up with him.  He looked into her eyes, his heart still hammering through his chest.  “Margaret, are you sure?”  John asked, very tenderly.

“Yes, John.  I am sure.  I’ve never been this sure about anything.”

His passion and want of her lost its long-suffering control.  The brake was released.  He took her passionately in his arms and kissed her sensuously, for a long time.  Margaret clung to him, clutching his shirt, and then finally trusting the night, encircled her arms around his neck.  Without taking his lips from hers, he lifted her to his chest, carried her to his bed, and closed the door with his foot.

“John . . .?”  Margaret said, holding her glance steady in his eyes as their lips parted.

“Shhh, Margaret,” John said softly.  “These moments of our love are going to happen between you and me.  They have been waiting in the shadows of our dreams for a very long time.  I will be extremely gentle with you.  If you say stop, I will.  I will be slow until you show me differently.  He looked deeply into her eyes for any sign of fear; the light was dim, but he saw none.  John gently set her down allowing her to stand.

“Margaret, I love you.”

He lightly moved his finger tips up her arms to her shoulders and neck.  Touching his lips to hers, his fingers slowly traced her cheeks, down her throat and finally to the nape of her neck; he pulled the ribbons and pins from the back of her hair, letting her light brown curls cascade.  His dreams and fantasies were no longer in his mind.  They were in his hands.  She had beautiful, long, full tresses that wound around her neck and down her back.  John raked his fingers through her hair, feeling its silkiness, and pulled it to his face to inhale her stimulating scent.  He held her face and hair in his hands and drew her to him for another long sensual kiss, probing all, stroking the inside of her mouth, searching for her tongue.  Margaret hesitatingly entwined her arms around his waist.  John pulled away just enough to look into her eyes, for any signs of discomfort, one final time.

“Are you very sure?”

“I am very sure.  But . . .”

John smothered her mouth with devouring hunger before she could finish.  His lips were warm and wet and they covered her mouth.  He lightly nipped and sucked on her bottom lip before parting her lips with his tongue.  John was pulling her face hard against his.  He tightened her to his frame, so they could each feel every soft curve and rigidness of the other.

“Margaret?”  He could see her eyes were closed, but she was responding sensually, whether she was aware of it or not.

“John, I am anxious and frightened at the same time.  This has been a very long time for me.  There was very little intimacy in my marriage.  So . . . please John, take care with me.  I’ve had a very sheltered and sparse physical relationship and don’t know what to expect.  I am already more overwhelmed than I ever was in my marriage.  I don’t think I will know what to do.  I feel so different,” Margaret said, with a hushed voice that trembled as she spoke.

“Margaret, I love you more than life itself.  You will not have to know what to do.  I will guide our passionate journey, my love.”  John whispered these words as he wrapped his arms around her and held her for a long time, letting the fear lessen and the anticipation grow.  John knew he didn’t want to scare or spare her.  He swayed and rocked her, there, where they stood.  He would not let it end too soon.

The gas light from the mill yard cast shadows and spilled angles of light into the room.

Still standing by the bed, John began kissing her again.  He teased her with his tongue.  Long slow probes that were making Margaret’s knees weak.  He held her tightly realizing he was overwhelming her, which he had intended.  He slowly turned her toward the light streaming in the window and unbuttoned the clothing that bound her.  He did this as he kissed her, stopping only to place her hands on his shirt, encouraging the same sensual act of removing his clothes.

Margaret began to unbutton his shirt at the neck, exposing his dark chest hair across his broad frame.  His maleness was unfolding in the dimness of the night.  The slowness of this passionate act was building the anticipation, stronger than it had been only a moment before.  She unbuttoned his shirt further, pulling it out of his trousers.  Only recently, she envisioned  this moment.

John pulled it over his head and then turned to Margaret, completing all the fasteners of her clothing.

His body was beautiful, muscular, and so . . . masculine.  She rubbed her hands through his chest hair and circled his flat nipples, stimulating them into a hard bead with the light touch of her finger tips.  He closed his eyes and sighed, almost bringing his own movements to a standstill while he felt her delicate touch to his body.  He couldn’t ever remember being this hard.  Opening his eyes and looking into hers, he slowly slid the dress off of her shoulders and let it drop to the floor, revealing lovely, pristine, translucent shoulders.  He pulled her forward and kissed each shoulder, her neck, and throat, moving back to her lips as he let her corset and petticoat slip from her body.

Margaret was standing there, only in her undergarment, in shyness, with naked bosoms.  John looked down and cupped both of her well-rounded breasts with his warm hands, as he leaned down and gently kissed each one, running his tongue over her nipples.  He loved the fact they were already responding like lush berries, pink, pebbling, and sweet.  He breathed in the scent of her.  He was on fire.  He could feel her feminine shivers as he moved from her breasts.

He took Margaret’s hands and brought them back to his trouser opening.  She found all the closures, and she could not miss the hard ridge that was lying beneath.  She trembled at his size.  His manhood was . . . He was a big man in all his attributes.  She wasn’t sure how . . .

His trousers dropped to the floor.  He stood in his undergarment and she stood in hers.  John gently removed her undergarment slowly and then his own, freeing his erection.  He sat on the edge of the bed, and drew her in front of him.  With the pale light of the outside gaslight casting its light upon her, with her ivory cream skin, she was the most beautiful creature his eyes had beheld.  He moved her back a few inches so he could take in the whole radiant image of her femininity.

Margaret was quaking with her own shyness.  “What does he think of me?”  She trembled.

Holding her arms out to the sides for her, he said, “Margaret, you are exquisite.  You are perfect and lovely, and soft.  You are more beautiful than I dreamed.  You are the closest I can get to heaven, while here on earth.  I have imagined this moment for years.  God help me to be the man worthy of the woman who stands before me.”

Margaret, having been holding her breath, now exhaled a loud sigh.  She felt relief from John’s most beautiful words.  “I am here because I want to be with you, she told him.  “I want to know you; I want you to hold me, and I want to feel your body and to feel your breath upon my face.”

He kissed her almost translucent skin, circling her nipple with his tongue before drawing her into his mouth with a strong but gentle suckling.  The taste of her was sweet as honey, and she started to sigh softly, while wavering on her feet.

He reached for her and pulled her down on top of him, as he lay back on the bed.

Lying on top of John, she was very aware of his erection.  Margaret felt the heat stirring her own womanly area as he pressed against her.  He adjusted her so that his hardness was pressing into the notch of her thighs.  She was always inhibited with Booker when they were naked, even in the dark.  She now felt nothing but the need of John and his firm lean body touching hers.  Two naked lovers were casting shadows against the wall for the very first time.

John sensing that his own firmness was losing control, rolled her onto her back, so he could look into her face and kiss her again, but he knew he had very little time left before he erupted.

“Are you sure about the conception?”  Margaret asked softly, still unsure.  “I trust you, but how can you stop now, or me, either?  I’ve never felt these sensations.  I don’t know how to bring them down.”

“You won’t have to, and I certainly won’t let you.  Give yourself to me without any fear.  I have waited an eternity for this moment.”

“I want to give myself to you, but it’s the wrong . . .”

“No, my love, there are no wrong times.  These ‘times, that you seem embarrassed about, make you a woman, and I love you because you are this woman.  God has brought you back to me.  We will be united as one in the future, but not tonight, and neither of us will be disappointed.”  He turned her wet simpering face towards his.  “Look at me.”  He knew she would soon find solace.

“Give me your hand, my love . . .  Keep looking at me.  I want to look into your face.”

John took her hand and slowly guided her toward his erect penis.  “With your warm hand, just hold me and feel me.  That is the only passion that I need right now.”

Margaret, timidly, took John into her hand, grasping the firmness of his manhood.

John inhaled loudly.  “Oh dear God, Margaret,” he barely whispered.

Feeling his length and girth, and smoothness, she slowly started to stroke him, even though he hadn’t asked for that.  She sighed at first and then trembled over his size.  John, struggling for concentration, was looking at the uninhibited innocence on her face as she touched and caressed him.  Margaret watched as he slowly closed his eyes and shuttered heavily against her, gasping deeply with completion.  She felt the flood of his warm release.

With misted eyes, John hugged her tightly.  “How I’ve longed for you to touch me in that way.  Thank you,” he reverently whispered into her ear.

Margaret wrapped her arms around John, loving the fact that he reacted to her with his manhood.  “Thank you, John, for responding to me in that way.  I feel . . . well . . . I don’t know how to explain how I feel . . . needed.  Perhaps, I feel needed or wanted, as a woman, to bring you to that act.  It was so fast.  Could I do better next time?”

“That was fast for both of us, but it’s only because I have wanted you and needed you for four years.  There was love from both sides, and that never warrants regrets.  We will learn together, since I will need and want you for the rest of my life; this will happen again.”

Margaret kissed him, but he pulled her over on top of him again, and they kissed for a long time.  He slid his hands up and down her smooth back and buttocks, just feeling her fevered skin and soothing her emotions.  She could feel that John’s arousal was returning.  She lifted herself up on her elbows and said, “Maybe, it’s best if we stop now.”

John held her fast, not letting her go.  “Oh, no . . . not yet.  I’ve only just begun.  You are staying in this bed all night.”  He gently turned and laid her on her back.  He lingered over her, kissing and licking her face, while he parted her legs slowly with his knee, determined to show her pleasure.  He was going to explore and enjoy every part of her body.  “I want to know all of you, Margaret, the feel of you, the scent of you, and the taste of you.  My hands and tongue have been waiting for the discovery of every texture of you, from head to toe.”

John began very slowly letting his hands and tongue, cover all of her.  Margaret started wincing beneath his touch, to some extent from embarrassment and partly from ecstasy.  Her sheltered life had never prepared her for this.  “Oh John,” she murmured.  She felt like a thunderbolt was starting to travel through her body, searching for a release to the outside, as his hands roamed.

He began his soft kisses around her neck and down to her breasts, already hard with anticipation.  After licking and suckling at her breasts, he continued down to her abdomen, circling her navel, while his hands now glided from her breasts to her inner thighs.  He encouraged her slim thighs to open for him, to welcome him into their embrace.

Timidly responding, she felt exposed and helpless, about to burst into flames.

“How long can I bear this . . . this . . . ?” she moaned.  It did not matter, for he was not going to stop.

“Just let the sensations happen; just let go,” John whispered.

Still kissing her lower abdomen, his gentle hand stopped at her soft mound.  His finger entered her.  First one and then another.  He loved hearing her moans and her rapid breathing.  His slid his wet fingers out of her sheath and found that most sensitive area of her, and started to massage her delicately, like butterfly wings’.  He knew this was going to cause the greatest response.  Her legs started to tremble.  She was too close, so he stopped for a moment, watching her body yearn to go on.  She started to arch her back.  John wanted to sustain her pleasurable torment a bit longer.  He could feel her sensual desire rising, so he held her writhing hips and legs tenderly, readying them for his sensual assault.

Her consciousness started to reel out of control.  She was shuddering on the brink of . . . what… she didn’t know.  “What’s happening to me?”  John heard her gasp.

“I am loving you, Margaret.”

She quieted down, but John could feel her body shaking violently.

“Margaret, don’t hold yourself back from me, release your feelings.  I love this as much as you do.”  He had wanted to give, only her, this pleasure.

John lightly parted her soft mound with his tongue.  He had waited a long time to pay this sweet tribute to her femininity.

A startled cry tore through her when he claimed her with his mouth.  He knew to be as gentle as possible now.  Tenderly exploring her folds, his slow tongue swirled and licked, and stroked and savored the sensitive area at the top of her cleft, wanting to send her over the edge.  He gently circled the outer rim of the soft entrance to her body.  Returning to her sweet erect womanly nub, he could feel light throbs there as he paused; they matched her rapid heartbeat.  He knew she was there, teetering, where he wanted her.

Margaret would have screamed from the wildfire running through her if she had any breath, as everything seemed to center on that one single spot.  She could feel his wet hair lightly brushing the insides of her thighs.  Her back bowed in agonizing pleasure.  She was the tempest to his calm.

“Joh . . .”

John knew she was existing only through her physical sense at this moment, and he was controlling her.  She was heavenly in her responsiveness.  She was fire beneath him.

He was dispatching her to luscious torment.  “John,” she cried out, piercing the silence, as she was consumed in sensual swirls sweeping her upward to the pulsating darkness at the top of the unknown.  Her body clenched unbearably and tightened, and John held her down with his mouth.  She cried for mercy, but John had none.  The sensual tension became tighter and tighter.  She couldn’t breathe, and her heart was beating so rapidly, she was beyond caring whether she lived or died through this.  She could not hold on any longer, and it suddenly snapped.  She heard her own blatant cries and moans, disbelieving they were coming from herself.

Margaret split the silence again with her exquisite sounds of euphoria.  “Dear God, John!”

John heard her loud cry and felt her body quake and her muscles quiver.  He allowed himself a smile and only a few brief moments of breath before he started again.  He did not want to stop.  He felt her hands tighten on his shoulders, and her nails dig into his skin.  This moment was so spectacular; he loved giving her this pleasure.  She found his hair and pulled it, trying to coax him away, but he wouldn’t stop.  He wanted so much to hear her sounds, to listen to her continued moans, to feel her legs tremor and spasm.  He climaxed again only from the pleasure of feeling and listening to her.  John wanted to enter her so badly, but he knew he could not.

“Joh . . . Joh . . . John . . . I’m . . . going to . . . faint . . .

He pulled himself up to kiss her neck and shoulders, and cheek, and held her while she quivered and cried as her orgasm floated her back to consciousness.  He almost cried himself for this most precious of moments.

“I didn’t know . . .  I had the capability to feel whatever that was, in every muscle, and nerve ending, “Margaret said between gasps for air.  “I can’t stop crying and I can’t stop smiling from the miraculous feelings.  John, you have brought the dawn of an awakening to my womanhood.  I thought I was being driven mad until . . . until I  . . .

“You climaxed, Margaret.  It’s called an orgasm, apparently your first, and you don’t know how happy, as a man, it makes me feel to be the one to bring that to you.  I once hoped to be first in your life for that experience, and now I find that I am.  I’m afraid I am going to weep, myself,” John said ardently to her.

“I have never experienced this, or anything close to it, before.  And just when I thought I was falling gently back to earth, you brought it back again, leaving me unable to breathe.  I think I was on the verge of a delirious faint.  John, I felt your passion run all the way through my body; every fiber was on fire. All worry and embarrassment was gone, until I just burst inside.  I didn’t want you to stop, but I just couldn’t take the pleasure anymore without fainting.  I feel so selfish.

“Margaret, you are a woman in every way possible and thank you for allowing me to show you that.  I was taken away with your rapture, by your response to me.”

John held her close, both their hearts racing because of the physical action, but more obviously from the emotional connection they had just shared.  These were the most wonderful moments of both of their lives.  It ended all too soon, though.  It wasn’t all it would be someday for both of them, but it is everything right now.  He had taken Margaret to the edge and caused her to fall into ecstasy.  He had never wanted this kind of exalted pleasure with anyone else, and had never felt this gratification, so overwhelming to him.  John realized that this union, this evening, had brought to him the most aspired moment in his manhood: His ability to carry Margaret to the zenith of her orgasm and hold her there, giving her all she could take.

 

She is a woman, and she is mine.

 

“John, I don’t have the words to describe what you caused to happen to me.  I’m sorry that you could not engage in it the way you would have wanted to do,” Margaret said, feeling her breasts heave as she struggled for air.  I’m not sure I would have permitted it, had I known the immeasurable pleasure that I would be receiving, and you with none.

“Margaret, I would not have exchanged my own pleasure in this for anything in the world, except more of it.  You cannot know the emotional climax I have experienced.”  John held her tightly.  “Someday, we will have a life full of this, you know.  I just want you in my arms every minute of the day.”

They lay together in silence letting their luxuriant feelings ebb.

“Margaret, you are positively glowing,” John said, as he watched the light streaming in on her face.  “And we still have the whole night ahead of us.”  Although she couldn’t see it, she could hear the smile in his voice.

“I wonder how long this floating feeling will last.  I feel like I have wings.  I would have it forever if I could, but John, can I ask you something?”

“Of course, you can.  Never ask if you can ask me.  Whatever is on your mind, I want to know all about it.  And yes, you can have it forever.  That’s certainly my intention.”

Margaret looked rather embarrassed and in hushed tones asked, “Was that legal?”

John, trying to be a gentleman and a sensitive passionate man, couldn’t help himself, but nearly came off the bed, bursting with laughter.  He should not laugh but he was so happy, and it was the perfect finish to their first hour of the night.  “Oh Margaret, my love, how innocent you are.  Magistrate as I am, let me put it this way:  Whatever two consenting adults want to do in their own privacy is legal.  The key word, of course, is consenting.  But yes, it is legal between two people who love each other.  Why?  Do you wish to file a complaint to someone?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Yes? . . .  You do?”  John almost gulped.

“Yes.  Why have we waited this long to be together like this?  I wish you were the first man to take my virtue, but then again, I wouldn’t have known what an extraordinary lover that you are.

“And Margaret?”

“Yes, John?”

“It gets better!”

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The Reclusive Aristocrat – Part Five

 

Chapter Four

Ketteridge House, Leicestershire, England, December 8th, 1815

Rowena descended the long, spiralling staircase and looked down on the tall, regal figure of the earl waiting for her. Dressed in black evening attire, he presented a sight that made her mouth dry. Even though she realized he could not see her, Rowena was nevertheless glad that she had donned the only evening dress she had brought with her. The style was not in the latest fashion, but the burgundy-coloured silk suited her dark colouring to perfection. Trixie had adjusted the waistline so that it fitted Rowena’s condition, which fortunately was not too marked yet. The little maid had also styled Rowena’s hair into a loose chignon at the nape of her neck, allowing stray curls to grace her brow and shoulders.

“Such a pity the master can’t see ye, miss! Ye look a right picture, ye do!”

The master was presently extending his gloved hand to her, and Rowena took it, the strength of him flowing into her, comforting her. As he led her into the small parlour where they had recently taken their meals, Rowena felt every inch the gentlewoman she had been, just a few months ago. She savoured the feeling, grateful to her host for bestowing it upon her by his behaviour.

Alex cursed his affliction, and not for the first time, since Rowena Drake had entered his lonely existence. He could make out the rich colour of her gown, but had no way guessing what her figure looked like in it. He so desperately wanted to know her features, admire her form, her stance and her manners. Avid curiosity plagued him, helpless rage gnawed at him, all because of his stupid inability to see. Never before had he regretted his fate as he did now.

That small fact puzzled him. He could not fathom why it mattered to him what Rowena Drake looked like. She had not been here until a few days, for pittance sake! Yet it did matter. It mattered a great deal, because, for some inexplicable, crazy reason, he was attracted to her. Another conundrum, that. How could he possibly be attracted to a woman he could not even see?

As he led her to the settee and the low table, where Porter had laid out drinks, Alex realized Porter had been wrong; she was not short. She did not nearly come close to his six three , of course, but her head would come to rest against his shoulder very nicely, should he ever take her in his arms. All of a sudden, he had to tamp down the strongest urge to do just that. Blast, what was wrong with him?

He quickly deflected his own confused thoughts by addressing his guest.

“Would you do the honours, Miss Drake? I fancy whisky neat, if you please?”

Rowena complied and served him, pouring herself a small measure of Amontillado. A very decent one, she mused, after sipping it. And wondered how the earl could afford such extravagances.

“My lord, I want you to know I have written to the Wallisses. I expect their answer in a few days. Would you like me to complete your current staff with more servants? Thus far, I have only seen to employing female staff, necessary to the maintenance of the house. You are, if I may say so, in need of a butler, a head gardener, and at least five sturdy footmen.”

He smiled, widely. She wanted to talk housekeeping matters? That was fine by him.

“Miss Drake, if you would make up a list of what and who you are thinking of, I would be obliged. The only person I do not need, is a valet. Porter will do very well in that function.”

 

They enjoyed their meal in silence, for a while. Just being in each other’s company suited them both to perfection, as Mrs Hall seemed to have outdone herself, that night. A succulent sirloin of beef, accompanied by dumplings and an assortment of winter vegetables like turnips and onions, and all had been prepared to perfection. Raventhorpe had Porter serve an excellent claret and afterwards a sublime port, which Rowena sipped delicately. She had never before been allowed to even taste port wine. She had just registered the strong, highly-spirited flavour of the wine, when Raventhorpe addressed her once more.

“Mrs Hall tells me that your child is due at the beginning of February. Have you consulted a physician regarding the confinement? I gather this is your first pregnancy?”

Rowena swallowed and stiffened. Good heavens! She had had to tell the dear old busybody about her due date, had she not? Foolish!

“Yes, my lord, it is my first child. I have not yet made any preparations. I … I have not had the chance to do so.”

“But you are going to, are you not? Pregnancy is a condition that needs some elemental preparations, such as finding a midwife, or a wet nurse. I am sure Dr Orme can be of help. Shall I send him a message?”

Rowena could not answer; her throat was clogged with unshed tears. How thoughtful of him!

How did he – a gentleman and a soldier – know of such female domestic concerns? She stayed silent for far too long, but she had no inkling as to what she should say.

“Miss Drake? Do I get no answer?”

“My lord … I do not know what to say … what to do when a man like you talks of such situations. It … it confuses me greatly. Men in general are not familiar with female problems, to my knowledge.”

“My dear Miss Drake, I have been a soldier. I have been campaigning all over the Continent for ten years. One day in 1810, we were summoned from Spain where we had been quartered, to go to Portugal to reinforce our infantry near Sobràl. Porter and I were riding ahead of the troops when we saw a little girl – she could have been no more than six – calling out to us. She was such a tiny thing but she shouted that we should help her mother who was very ill. We followed her to a dismal little hovel and found the mother on the verge of having a baby. There were three other children in the house and I swear the mother could not have been older than twenty. So Porter and I did the best we could to help the mother. We had a difficult time of it but we managed to bring the child into this world. It was another little girl, and she was utterly beautiful. We went on our way after we called in the help of an old woman who lived nearby, and asked her to look after the family. We left all our provisions there, and all our money. It was a humbling experience, Miss Drake, just to see the courage of that little young mother.”

“You delivered a baby? How did you know what to do?”

“Porter knew. He was married at one time, before he joined the army. His wife and son died of pneumonia which was even more sad since he had helped when his own baby was born.”

“Oh, how horrible!” was all Rowena could utter.

“I think,” Raventhorpe continued in a tone he deliberately kept light, “that he must have adopted me as soon as he set eyes on me, when I stepped up in front of my cavalry squadron. That was fourteen years ago, and Porter had been a batman to one of the elderly officers for ten years. That officer retired from the army, so Porter needed another young buck to mother over. We got on extremely well from the first day. We were never separated, since.”

He drew in a breath and sighed. “Regardless, Miss Drake, I doubt that you would find comfort in Porter’s assistance when your time comes. We should find you a midwife.” He waited for just a heartbeat, the continued, “I take it there is no one you want to inform about the babe?”

Rowena shuddered with surprise. He had again breeched her defences, damn him!

“No, as I told you, my betrothed died at Waterloo. He was a cavalry officer, just like you. When he took his leave of me in May, I did not know I was with child. He never knew that he was to be a father.”

For some totally hare-brained reason, Alex suddenly felt a stab of jealousy for that soldier who had possessed and known this courageous young woman. And also, fury, because of the man’s egotism, to have sexual intercourse with his betrothed and know that he would be away to war.

“I met him when I was visiting my aunt in York,” Rowena continued, unaware of the earl’s anger. “We pledged that we would marry after the war, so when he …”

A sob reached his ears and Alex rose. In three steps, he was beside her, feeling for her hand to lay his own over hers.

“Hush, Miss Drake, no need to upset yourself so. That cannot be good for the babe. You loved your betrothed, and he loved you. That memory of him will always be with you, and be reflected in your child.”

She abruptly stood. “I am so sorry, my lord … I did not want to …” Another sob, and he had to close his arms around her. With an odd little cry, she buried her head against his chest and shuddered while she quietly wept. He stroked her hair, neck, shoulders, caressed her back, her arms without releasing her. Merciful heavens … how perfectly right she felt within the circle of his arms.

He heard himself whispering meaningless little words, desperate to calm her, to free her from her terrible grief. He inwardly cursed the bastard who had done this to her.

“Has your betrothed – by any chance – left you with some means to provide for yourself? I know it is highly unlikely but I could have my man of business inquire whether you have a claim to it. Was he a man of means? If he was a cavalry officer, he must have come from a wealthy family.”

She shuddered against him, as if in fear. It cut through his heart.

“If you would tell me his name, I could find out,” Alex ventured.

An incredibly strong urge to blurt it all out threatened to overwhelm Rowena. She had been so lonely since Peter disappeared from her life. Roderick – heartless, selfish rogue that he was – had not even given her time to grieve over Peter’s death. Her brother was making his way into the world of politics and he wanted no connections with a wayward and ruined sister, who could easily keep him from becoming prime minister one day. So conceited was his self-image that he felt entitled to sent Rowena into exile. To make certain she would never return, Roderick also cut off her allowance. Rowena would be forced, he told her, to make a living on her own.

All this weighed heavily on Rowena’s normally high spirits, and she had had no one to turn to in her distress. And now, here was this gentle earl, a damaged soul like herself, who was offering her the much needed comfort. But she could not, would not take advantage of his kind offer. He was an earl, for heaven’s sake. An aristocrat who must not have anything to do with a ruined woman like her. She could only bring him shame, and that would be a dismal way to reward his kindness in offering her hospitality. She gently freed herself from his hold.

“My apologies, my lord. I fear I was very ungracious. If you will excuse me, I must retire now. Good night.”

She meant to turn and leave, but his strong, unyielding hand closed around her elbow.

“Without your dinner? I cannot allow that, Miss Drake.” He drew her closer, lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of her fingers. Rowena shivered, but the earl did not seem to notice her stirrings.

“How I wish I could see your face,” he said quietly. “All I have to assess your temper, is your voice, and it is not very helpful, right now. You are quickly learning to keep your emotions out of your voice, my dear. So there is only one option.”

He said no more but cupped her chin in his free hand. Rowena dragged in a much needed breath.

“What is that, my lord?” She could not help herself yet she had to know.

“I must feel … touch … assess your features’ expressions through my fingers.”

Alias Grace *** Nov 3, 2017 (Netflix)

‘ALIAS GRACE’  SARAH GADON MINI SERIES
The series will first air in Canada in September and after that on Netflix

for the mini series that will launch September 25th at CBC in Canada and then on Netflix November 3rd.

A 19TH CENTURY MYSTERY
The six part mini series follows Grace Marks (Sarah Gadon) a poor, young Irish immigrant and domestic servant in Upper Canada who, along with stable hand James McDermott (Kerr Logan), was convicted of the brutal murders of their employer and his housekeeper in 1843. James was hanged while Grace was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1843. Grace claimed to have had no memory of the murder yet the facts were irrefutable. A decade after, Dr. Simon Jordan tried to help Grace recall her past. Grace was one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of her time for her supposed role in the sensational double murder, but was eventually exonerated after 30 years in jail. Her conviction was controversial and sparked much debate about whether Grace was actually involved in the murder or merely an unwitting accessory. Zachary Levi is also in the cast alongside Reign‘s Michael Therriault and Edward Holcroft as the doctor! Atwood has a cameo in the series!

Sarah Gadon played Luke Evans’ wife in Dracula movie
Zachary Levi also stars in the 19th century set series
Edward Holcroft plays the doctor in the series
Sarah Polley both directed and wrote the series

Courtesy Hollywood Spy

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Knightfall 2017 TV Series (History Channel)

 

KNIGHTFALL historical adventure series which will launch its ten episode run sometime this Autumn  following the legendary Knights Templar who were the most powerful, wealthy and mysterious military order of the Middle Ages, entrusted with protecting Christianity’s most prized relic—the Holy Grail, and harbouring secrets capable of great destruction. Tom Cullen leads the cast which also includes Simon Merrells as knight Tancrede, Padraic Delaney as knight Gawain, Julian Ovenden, Bobby Schofield as Parcival, with Ed Stoppard as King Philip IV, Olivia Ross as Queen Joan and Jim Carter as Pope Boniface VIII.

Show Info

Airs on: United States History
Runtime: 60 minutes
Status: In Development; premiering November 2017
Show Type: Scripted
Genres: Drama History
Official site: www.history.com

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Universal’s New SF Series

UNIVERSAL CABLE PRODUCTIONS TO MAKE SF SERIES OUT OF HUGH HOWEY’S ‘SAND’, KURT VONNEGUT’S ‘SIRENS OF TITAN’ AND ROGER ZELAZNY’S ‘LORD OF LIGHT’!

 BASED ON HUGH HOWEY’S ‘SAND’

Sand will be helmed by Marc Forster

 

Fantasy delights today: Universal Cable Productions has revealed a plan of turning a number of sf novels into TV shows! One of them is SAND based on dystopian novels by Hugh Howey! World War Z’s Marc Forster is to helm the pilot set in a world ravaged by ecological devastation, savage winds, and shifting dunes. It follows a family who makes their way in this world as sand divers: the elite few who can travel deep beneath the desert floor to retrieve mysterious and valuable relics lost to the dust. Adrift in the wake of their father’s disappearance years ago, they rely on skill and each other to endure this ruthless environment where otherwise good people lie, sabotage, and kill in order to survive.

KURT VONNEGUT’S ‘SIRENS OF TITAN’
The second sf classic they will develop into series is Kurt Vonnegut‘s SIRENS OF TITAN to be produced by Dan Harmon and Evan Katz.  It follows Malachi Constant, the richest man in 22nd-century America. He possesses extraordinary luck which he attributes to divine favour and has used to build upon his father’s fortune. He becomes the centre point of a journey that takes him from Earth to Mars in preparation for an interplanetary war, to Mercury with another Martian survivor of that war, back toEarth to be pilloried as a sign of Man’s displeasure with his arrogance, and finally to Titan where he again meets the man ostensibly responsible for the turn of events that have befallen him.

ZELAZNY’S ‘LORD OF LIGHT’
Hugo Sf Award winning science fiction classic by Roger Zelazny LORD OF LIGHT is also on this list of adaptation. Terminator‘s Gale Anne Hurd will produce it with X Men‘s Ashley Miller. After humans have moved to a new planet, technological disparities allow a privileged few to assume the names and likenesses of deities, and rule over the common people. Tired of the system, a former “god” wages war against the unjust regime.
No release date known

Curtesy of Hollywood Spy

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