Copyright © 2011 Anya Delvay
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Such a delectable morsel.
Standing in front of the fireplace, fingers knotted into the sides of her skirts, Miss Annabelle Frasier tries to stare me down. The generations of aristocracy in her lineage allow a credible effort, but it isn’t enough. No matter the careful styling of her wig into a powdered coiffure fit for a queen, the width of her panniers or richness of her accoutrements. To me she is a fledgling, sweetly young, trying wings not yet adult enough for the journey attempted.
The sight of her moves and angers me, stirring feelings I never imagined experiencing under such circumstances. She is an unwelcome disruption in the carefully crafted pattern of my life, and the urge to set her upon her ear is hard to resist.
Oh, the delicious danger of it.
“You must realise he is now mine, Lady Gillingham. Surely you know the time has come to let him go.”
My gaze travels slowly from the pale heart-shaped face to the tips of her pink shoes peeping from beneath costly striped sarcenet, trimmed with the finest Brussels lace, and back up again. Compounding the insult, with a sweep of my hand I encompass the room and, by extension, the entire house. “My dear Miss Frasier, do you see your intended husband here? Believe me when I say I am not holding him captive.”
For a long moment, she simply stares at me, the remarkable grey-green eyes flashing, lips parsimonious with annoyance.
Even so vexed, she is a fetching sight and, although still amused, a frisson of fear touches my spine. Skin like a peach just ripe on the branch rises above the low-cut bodice of her striped gown. Eyes clear, wide-set and beautiful, even without the aid of cosmetics. Not a wrinkle or line mars her complexion. I know, without even a glance in the mirror, the same can no longer be said of me. When she finally replies, I watch the movement of her soft pink mouth, fascinated against my will.
“Lord Harrington and I are to wed, my lady. Surely your conscience tells you there cannot be three in a marriage? The vows taken are sacred, not to be trifled with.”
It takes some effort to bank my annoyance and present only laughter. “I take no vows, madam, make no promises, so my conscience is clear.”
Miss Frasier pales, delicate lips trembling, and for a moment I think she might cry.
I want her to. Base though the sentiment is, I want her to know pain, to hurt as I do.
But, true to her cold breeding, she rallies without even a single tear. Raising her chin, she glares at me, but the rapid rise and fall of her bosom betrays her agitation. I watch that motion of tender flesh, think of David filling his palms with it, and allow myself, for the merest second, to imagine what he would feel.
“You have had your time with Lord Harrington.” Her voice is frigid and stern. Arrogance resonates in every syllable, and my amusement melts beneath the heat of irritation. “As of the date of our marriage, he will no longer require your services.”
Prideful chit, to seek to dismiss me as though I were no more than a housemaid! Rising from my chair to swing my skirts around the intervening table, I step close enough to see the pulse beating in her throat. So close our hems touch and I imagine the frantic pace of her heart surrounds me.
“I doubt, little one, you will be capable of giving David what he needs, so I caution you about trying to be rid of me so soon.” The corners of her lips turn down, my use of Lord Harrington’s given name causing anger, as is my intent. “Many a married lady will tell you, better the mistress you know than the one you do not.”
Her face tightens, grows paler yet beneath the powder, and when she speaks, it is in a disgust-laden rush. “There is nothing you give Lord Harrington I, as his wife, will not.”
I laugh then, for how could I resist? But beneath the laughter lies rage and an honest contempt for her innocent avowal.
“You are correct, of course. There is nothing I give David you are incapable of, although I doubt you would be willing.”
I move closer yet, using my superior height as emphasis, seeking to shock and frighten. Her eyes widen. “I do not know to what you refer.”
There is a wealth of reluctance in her words, but curiosity echoes strong in them too. I laugh again, reaching out to caress her velvety cheek with my finger. Instinct makes her recoil, but pride stems the motion and causes her to still beneath my touch.
“What can you know of entering the lists of love?” I let my voice soften and fall, so it strokes her ears just as my finger does her face. “What would you need to know to keep a man as…adventurous…as David happy?”
She turns her gaze away, does not deign to reply, and I chuckle quietly, letting my finger circle her throat as I step around behind her. Leaning close so she will feel my breath on her cheek and neck, I whisper, “You will marry a virginal bride. All honour will go to you. At night, when he comes to your bed, David will give you his seed, hoping to get you with child. It is his duty, and it will be done. But when he comes to me, it is not because he has to but because he wishes to. When he comes to me, it is to find true release—the release you will never know to provide.”
I feel her shudder beneath my fingertips, hear the sudden cessation of her breath. Finding the pulse-point beneath her ear, I stroke over it, absorbing the fearful, thumping rhythm. When she breathes again, it is in rushing gasps, and it takes three or four inhalations before she finds her tongue.
“He will teach me whatever he wants me to know—to do. I will never gainsay him.”
For a moment, the images assail me, driving through my heart, my body. Annabelle Frasier supine, glorious in her youthful desirability, legs spread to reveal the flushed pink cunt, nipples puckered, elongated with need. David strong and masterful, bending over her, smiling, his thick cock rampant, prepared to initiate her into his diverse world of intimate pleasures.
A fresh wave of rage almost overcomes me, tempered not at all by the spiralling frisson of lust heating my belly and quim. My fingers curl before I realise, nails scraping across the tender skin below Annabelle’s jaw. She flinches as I spin away. Crossing the room to the window gives me precious moments to collect myself, but the passing of those seconds is not enough to quell the need to shock, to hurt.
“Your intended husband is a man of much experience, with needs even I have found…varied.” Turning to face her, I release a salvo from my considerable arsenal—one guaranteed to cause as much damage as possible. “When night after night you lie on your back in bed, legs open, being fucked the same way, over and over again, think of this—I have never had David the same way twice. As you wonder at the sameness, the lack of pleasure, the brevity of your couplings, remember my words. The man you are marrying has desires far beyond the boredom of a bed, a fuck and a spending of his seed. Yet, that is all he will demand of you. For the rest, he will turn to me, or someone like me. Resign yourself to that, my dear, and you may yet achieve a happy life.”
Now her eyes fill with tears but I know they are those of rage or disgust rather than sadness or pain. Miss Frasier’s face contorts, her lips open, but no sound emerges. I want to laugh once more but know my small, triumphant smile is far more effective. Speechless, unable to formulate a reply, flushed with overwhelming fury, she glowers, and after a moment to savour the sight, I turn away to pull the bell cord at my hand.
The door opens immediately, and I have the final word as I sweep past her frozen form.
“Thank you for coming, Miss Frasier. Lincoln will see you out.”
Dismissing her is easy, but her words linger. I have won this battle, but, as I make my way upstairs, I am saddened by the knowledge that, in the end, we both will lose the war.