Authors: Jennifer McNare
God she felt good, her welcoming sheath warm and tight around his engorged cock. Gavin was still for a moment, savoring the pleasure of it as she lay quiet and unmoving beneath him. But unlike their previous encounters, her body was limp not from unresponsiveness, but from the lingering effects of her climax, only the first of the many he intended to give her. He smiled into the darkness. He had so much
more to teach her. With that pleasant thought, he raised his hips, nudging slightly deeper into her, and then pulled back in one long, drawn-out motion.
Melody was stunned by her body’s reaction to the feel of his slow withdrawal. She felt it again, that slow burning heat that seemed to take over her body and her mind. Was it possible? Could that happen again, so soon? How could her weak, tired body possibly withstand another explosion of such incredible magnitude? She hadn’t even begun to recover from the first. But as he pressed forward, filling her once again, she felt her body begin to respond. Forward and back, forward and back, his movements slow and rhythmic at first, and then becoming steadily faster and more forceful. Before long, her hands were gripping his back, pulling him tighter against her as her hips rose to meet each of his thrusts. She was overcome again by an overwhelming need, a hunger for fulfillment, for release. Her head thrashed restlessly against the pillow, her breathing turning to short little pants intermixed with tiny gasps of pleasure, as he took her on another journey to paradise.
Gavin fought to slow his raging desire to find his own release and spill his seed into her waiting depths. He wanted to prolong it for as long as possible, to savor every minute of the exquisite agony, to push his body to its ultimate limit of control. It was impossibly difficult. She was so responsive, following his lead with fervent ardor, readily embracing her newly discovered passion. Her fingers, clutching against his back, pressing deeper and deeper into his flesh with her escalating need, drove him, spurred him to take them both higher and higher. When he felt her body arch beneath him, her muscles tighten and tense as she reached the pinnacle of her desire, he finally let go. With a groan of satisfaction, he poured into her, flooding her with his seed.
As sanity slowly returned and he was able to think once again, he lifted his weight from her body, rolling onto his back, instinctively pulling her with him, one arm wrapped around her waist, holding her to his side.
It took a few moments for Melody’s breathing to return to normal and for her scattered thoughts to rearrange themselves in her head. The enormity of what had just happened was difficult to grasp. This man, this nameless, faceless stranger had just taken her to a place she hadn’t known existed, awakening a part of her that she’d never known was there. How was it possible? How had she gone from an unwilling victim of her husband’s madness, to a willing and eager participant in a journey to such unimaginable pleasure? It was unfathomable. But here she was, lying next to the man who had just shown her the true meaning of ecstasy, held tight against his side, her cheek resting lightly against his shoulder, her hand, fingers splayed, lying atop his naked chest. She didn’t speak. She didn’t know what to say.
Gavin too was quiet, lost to his thoughts. Their coupling had been so much more than he’d anticipated. He had wanted only to make it easier for her, to show her that she could derive pleasure from a man’s touch, his touch, despite their circumstances. He hadn’t expected to lose himself so completely, hadn’t predicted that he would enjoy it as much as he had. Though he’d hoped for the best, he hadn’t known with any degree of certainty how she would respond to his touch. They were strangers after all, not to mention helpless victims in a twisted plot that neither of them had wanted a part in. But she’d put her
trust in him, setting aside her fears, allowing him to lead her into the unknown, responding with a natural ardor that was surprisingly more alluring, more exciting than anything even the most experienced courtesan could have offered. It affected him more than he could have ever thought possible, something he’d never anticipated.
It was Melody who spoke first, breaking the silence when it might have grown awkward. “Thank you,” she whispered, her cheek still pressed against his shoulder.
“No regrets?” He kept his voice light, adding a slightly teasing edge to it, hesitant for reasons he didn’t completely understand to keep the moment from turning too serious.
Melody smiled, grateful for his playful tone. It made it easier. “No, no regrets.”
He heard the smile in her voice and pulled her more tightly against his side, his thumb moving once again in slow circles along the base of her spine. He thought of a hundred different things he could say, charming, witting comments he might have made to any one of his former lovers after a delightful romp in bed, but he didn’t. This was different.
Melody kept her features carefully devoid of expression as she left the darkness of the hallway and entered the cottage’s main room. Though it was now John and Mary’s custom to wait for her outside once John’s light knock had alerted her that the required hour had passed, she wasn’t taking any chances. Fortunately the precaution wasn’t necessary, as the room was empty as usual. Sighing in relief, she pulled the door closed behind her, leaning back against it for a moment. Though she doubted that Mary or John would notice any outward difference in her, she
like a completely different person, and she needed a moment to pull herself together.
She took several slow deep breaths, and then, when she was certain that she had her emotions firmly in check, she pushed away from the door and made her way outside. Exiting the cottage, she saw that Mary was already seated in the curricle and that John was standing at its side, waiting to assist her. “Thank you,” she said, taking John’s hand as she stepped up into the vehicle. She adjusted her skirt, pulled on her supple leather driving gloves and then quickly grabbed the reins, eager to have something to focus her attention on. With a polite nod toward John, she flicked the reins and started the horse down the now familiar dirt road.
They traveled in silence for a while, Melody struggling to keep her attention focused on the road, but it proved difficult. No matter how hard she tried she couldn’t seem to keep thoughts of the past hour from her mind. Even now she could almost feel his lips, soft and warm against hers, the touch of his hands against her breasts, the weight of his body against her own as he’d shown her the true meaning of pleasure.
she chided herself time and time again, but to no avail. She seemed unable to think of anything else, of anything but him, and it wasn’t long before she noticed Mary casting curious sidelong glances her
way. She tried to think of something to say, a topic of conversation to divert Mary’s attention, but she wasn’t quick enough.
“Is everything alright, dear?” Mary asked, concern evident in her voice.
She turned and made a concerted effort to keep her tone light. “Yes, I’m fine, Mary. Why?” Was there a telltale blush on her cheeks, or was it simply her unusual silence that drew Mary’s attention? Whatever it was, she had to be more careful. She didn’t want anyone to know what had happened between her and the man at the cottage, not even Mary. It was too private, too personal, and too shameful.
She struggled with that for a moment. Was it shameful? Shouldn’t she be ashamed of her behavior, of her wanton response to a stranger’s lovemaking? Yes, of course she should.
But was she?
Mary studied her curiously. “I’m not sure. You seem a bit,” she hesitated for a moment as if searching for the right word, “distracted.”
Melody wasn’t in the habit of telling untruths, but in this instance she saw no other option as she wracked her brain for a plausible reason to account for her
. “I was thinking about Adam, my brother,” she said a touch guiltily. “I miss him.” That part was true enough. She missed him dreadfully, her parents as well. It was hard not seeing them every day, as she had for the past eighteen years.
Mary smiled sympathetically. “The two of you are close?”
“Very,” Melody nodded, feeling a lump rise in her throat. “He is younger than I am, only twelve, but we have always had a special bond.” The handful of doctor’s who had evaluated his condition early on, a rare blood disorder that left him perpetually weak, fatigued and highly susceptible to illness, hadn’t expected him to live more than a few years, but Adam was a fighter and he’d stubbornly defied their dire predictions. Knowing that she could lose her only sibling at any given moment had made their relationship stronger and all the more precious over the years.
Mary reached out and squeezed her hand. “Things will surely get better dear, once the earl has his heir.”
“I hope you are right, Mary.”
Charles allow her to spend more time with her family, once she’d given him what he wanted? She wanted to believe that he would, but she knew better than to get her hopes up. Only time would tell, she supposed.
She and Mary spent the remainder of the journey home in relative silence, but this time it was a comfortable silence, as Mary seemed to have accepted the explanation Melody had given her for her apparent distraction. Instinctively, she knew that Charles would not be so easy to fool. Once they arrived back at Edgington she would have to be on her guard. She could never allow Charles to learn of what had happened that afternoon. Though her husband had proved more than willing to send her into the bed of a stranger, she wondered what his reaction would be if he realized that she had come to enjoy it. Would it prick his ego, his vanity? Would he see it as an affront, an insult to his damnable pride? Would he allow such a thing to go unpunished? She wasn’t sure. But of one thing she
certain; she could not afford to take the risk. She would not let him find out, not ever.
That night, when Charles came to her room, Melody pretended to be asleep as she did on most nights. Eyes closed, she listened to the dull thud of his cane against the floor as he moved across the room, heard him toss his dressing gown onto a nearby chair and kick off the heavy woolen slippers that he wore even on the warmest nights, and then felt the mattress dip as he drew back the covers and settled onto the bed. Within minutes he was snoring softly. She sighed in relief. He hadn’t seemed to notice anything unusual in her behavior at dinner, and now, with him slumbering peacefully beside her, she felt confident that he suspected nothing had changed after today’s visit to the cottage. If she was careful, and she would be, there was no reason for Charles to believe that the situation was any different than it had been before.
different. Everything had changed. She had changed.
had changed her. With his lips, his touch, his body, he had changed her, permanently and irreversibly. For the first time since leaving the cottage, she allowed herself to really think in depth about what had happened between them, and about him. Now, at last, here in the darkness, she didn’t need to push the memories aside. Now she could embrace them. She replayed every moment in her mind, relived every touch and recalled every delicious, mind-numbing sensation.
unbidden the word entered her thoughts as it had earlier that afternoon, and she asked herself again, was it shameful? Certainly not the act itself she reasoned, that was natural, what their bodies were designed for. But was it shameful to enjoy such intimacies, natural or not, with a man who wasn’t her husband, a man she wasn’t in love with, a nameless, faceless stranger? Perhaps it was, but then again, thanks to Charles, the entire situation was a shameful disgrace. So did it really matter then?
She was married to a man old enough to be her grandfather, a man who obviously cared nothing for her, other than for her ability to produce a child. Was it so wrong then, to enjoy another man’s touch? She hadn’t wanted it, hadn’t asked for it. Charles had forced this situation upon her. Was it so terrible then, to make the best of it? She rolled onto her back staring into the darkness, her thoughts in turmoil, until finally near dawn she fell into a restless sleep.
When Melody awoke the following morning her thoughts were surprisingly clear. She had made a decision. She wasn’t going to punish herself for wanting him, for wanting the pleasure he could give her. If it was wrong, so be it, she no longer cared. She was a good person, she knew that, and she would try to accept the choice she’d made without a guilty conscience. What had happened between them, and what she now hoped would happen again, was magical and incredible, and in her heart she knew that it was not something to be ashamed of. Regardless, she wasn’t going to question it any longer; she was simply going to enjoy it, Charles Cavendish be damned.
Nearly three weeks had passed since Melody had resumed her daily visits to the cottage. Three weeks since the man whose chest she now lay sprawled across, naked and sated, had permanently altered the course of her life. She was quiet, listening to his heartbeat, steady and strong beneath her ear. So much had changed in such a short time. It was extraordinary and still somewhat bewildering, often seeming more like fantasy than reality. She was falling in love with him, this man whom she would likely never know outside of this dark room. She knew that it was foolish and irrational, irresponsible even, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. She would suffer for it later, the pain of losing him when their time together was over. She knew that, feared it even, but despite that knowledge she seemed unable to control her rebellious heart.