Chapter Sixteen (continued)
Ketteridge House, Leicestershire, England, end of February, 1816
Rowena fought not to stiffen rigidly at his ultimate invasion. She braced herself not to flinch, knowing how much pain it would inflict. Peter had always hurt her quite immensely when he possessed her.
The pain did not come. Alex was gentle to the extreme, claiming her slowly, without hurting her. She felt him inside her every inch of the way, but his slow invasion generated unknown yet pleasant tickling sensations that were swirling up and down her core. Her body throbbed with pleasure, heat spreading from head to toe. He did not stop kissing her, nor did he cease to caress her aching breasts. From her hardened nipple to her pulsing core, a wave began spiralling through her, and she arched up to him, eager to be closer. He released her breast and touched her where they were joined, stroking her swollen flesh with slow caresses, while he thrust deeply into her core.
Then, suddenly, she seemed to fly off a cliff in sparks of white, hot pleasure, gasping, crying out, when a wave of warm bliss nearly drowned her.
Exhausted and spent, it was all Alex could do not to collapse on top of his wife. With an effort, he turned onto his side and drew Rowena into his arms, feeling her relax with a deep sigh. Seconds later, she was asleep, and he smiled against her mass of chocolate hair, inhaling her sweet scent of lavender and woman.
Good Lord, but he had never been so sated in all his life. In France, they called this feeling ‘la petite mort’ or ‘the little death’, and by Jove, they were right. Yet what a glorious death it was! Before succumbing to sleep himself, he vowed to make work of Peter Johnston once and for all; that infamous blackguard must be dealt with.
“Major, there’s the vicar wantin’ te see ye. Says he ‘as some urgent ma’er to discuss.”
Porter stood in the library door, his shoe brush still in his hand. He had probably been polishing his boots, Alex inwardly chuckled. After all these months, Porter still was more batman than butler.
“Please, let him in, Porter.”
The reverend Silas Bonneville was a short, rather rotund man with a rapidly receding hairline of white fluff and fading blue eyes. He had held the parsonage at St Crispin’s church for over forty years and was in his middle sixties. Since the villagers of Ketteridge were mostly farmers who attended his services faithfully each Sunday morning, his task was not very demanding. There were the marriages, christenings and funerals, of course, but other than happily toiling over his weekly sermon, Mr Bonneville had no difficulties enjoying his declining years in the small but cosy vicarage boarding the green. He was a kind, quiet man, with a big heart and a pleasant disposition.
“Good morning, my lord,” he said in his deep voice, one that did not match his short posture. One would have attributed it to a large, broad-shouldered man instead.
“Good morning, reverend. My butler tells me you have some urgent business, so what can I do for you?”
“Well, my lord, there has been some concern about Josiah Turnbull’s house on the far east side of the village. As you must surely know, after our esteemed blacksmith died, the house was left to stand empty, as his wife passed away years ago. You might recall that Josiah had two sons. John, the eldest, died several years ago from a bad fever, and it broke old Josiah’s heart, since he had been training the young man to be his successor as a blacksmith. Jeremy, the youngest, is a dear but weak-minded boy. In no way could he have stayed in his father’s house on his own, so the Carters from the nearby farm took him in.”
Alex listened to his vicar with mild interest, not grasping where all this might lead to. He kept his peace, however, knowing Mr Bonneville was not to be rushed at all. He always took his sweet time in explaining matters.
“Well, to keep it short, my lord, young Jeremy was out rambling, the weather being somewhat milder, these last few days. He came pelting back to the Carter farm in an uproar seldom seen before, yelling at the top of his head that there was a ghost in his father’s house. Now, this is unaccustomed behaviour for Jeremy, who is most of the time a quiet, happy child. A child of eight-and-twenty, yet a child nevertheless. Abe Carter and one of his farmhands went over to the Turnbull house, and what they found there was most distressing, indeed.”
Alex sighed at the vicar’s prevarication and indulgence to tell as compelling a story as he could possibly accomplish. He smiled encouragingly and gestured for the vicar to continue. What he learned next, was thoroughly distressing, and no doubt about it.