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Authors: Viola Morne

Tags: #Domestic Discipline, #Victorian Romance

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BOOK: Taming His Scandalous Countess
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"Position, Isabelle."

She leaned forward again, accepting
Frost's thrust and this time, as he pushed himself further inside her mouth,
she controlled her response, keeping her throat loose, her lips tight around
his hot, sliding skin, suctioning his essence. Frost went rigid and with a
final pulse, came down her throat. Snow's hand pressed down on her neck. She
swallowed until every drop had been consumed. Frost fell back, sated. Snow let
go her wrists, and she raised one trembling hand to her lips to wipe them dry.

Snow fingers rubbed through her
hair.

"What a good girl.
Leighton?"

"She sucks cock like an
angel." Frost's cold eyes were warm with his pleasure. He stretched like a
cat. "Now can we beat her?"

Snow pulled her up. He pushed a
strand of hair away from her flushed face and kissed her cheek gently.

"Oh, yes." Snow led her
to the desk and pushed her down over the top in his favorite position. A pause
and then he pushed a pillow under her stomach, raising her hips. He pulled up
her gown, tucked it beneath her. Then he shoved a hard knee between her legs.

"Open, wider."

Isabelle trembled and complied. The
complex mixture of desire and shame ebbed as fear drummed along her veins. Snow
caressed her bottom with gentle fingers.

Frost spoke from behind her.
"Lovely, quite lovely."

She felt another hand, Frost's
hand, glide along her curves. One finger traced the cleft between her buttocks
and she shuddered, but forced herself to remain still. A moment of stillness,
anticipation warring with terror. Then the quick crack of a hand against her
skin. Pain and heat coursed across her skin. Another pause. Crack. Then a
flurry of slaps in quick succession until her whole bottom bloomed with heat.

"Something new for you, my
love." She smelled leather, and then something smacked against the desk
where her cheek lay. She flinched.

"This is called a tawse.
Usually used by masters for erring schoolboys. The end of the leather is split
in two. I think you'll find the sensation memorable."

A whisper of cloth. He must be
drawing back his arm. Pause. The strike fell on her shrinking flesh, and then
the agony came. God, it hurt so much. Another pause while the pain eddied along
her skin; another strike and then another until she heard herself scream and
scream again. She lost count of how many strokes were dealt her.

Isabelle felt fingers move between
her legs, insinuating themselves against her drenched folds. She moaned. A cock
replaced the fingers, delved deep inside her. Her thighs were forced further
apart, and he slid in hard and then thrust even deeper. It was a fierce rhythm,
without tenderness, with no thought for her pleasure, only for his release. She
heard the wet impact of his flesh in hers. Her womb fluttered. He swelled
within in her, and then her husband groaned in her ear as he emptied himself
inside her

*
* * * *

Isabelle woke slowly, as the late
morning light filtered through the windows. She stretched, luxuriously, and
rolled over on her back. And quickly rolled back on her side. Her bottom ached.
Snow had really laid it on last night. She smoothed a hand over herself,
wincing when her fingers touched the welts patterning her skin.

The events of last night returned
slowly. She remembered pain and fierce, shameful pleasure. She remembered
Frost, his cock thrusting inside her mouth, her husband behind her, the warmth
of his hand and the strength of his will. She raised shaking fingers to lips
which felt swollen, the taste...God, no. She leapt out of bed and ran to the
chamber pot behind the screen, falling to her knees and vomiting.

A discreet knock and her maid
entered.

"My lady, you are ill!"
Nan bustled over, holding her hair while Isabelle retched, her stomach finally
empty. "Let’s get you back to bed."

"I'm fine. A stomach upset,
nothing more."

"But..."

"I said I am fine. Now, please
draw my bath."

 "Of course, my lady."
Nan withdrew. Isabelle dipped a washcloth into the basin and washed her face.
She wet it again and carefully, thoroughly, washed out her mouth.

*
* * * *

Snow rose as Isabelle entered the
dining room. She wore pale primrose muslin, her hair simply dressed. She looked
lovely, if a trifle pale. She moved to her seat and sat down, slowly. Her ass
must be sore, indeed. A small, possessive smile tugged at his lips. His wife
had been truly used to his purpose last night. God, what a sight she'd been. He
cleared his throat. Any more remembrances and he'd be bending his wife over the
breakfast table.

"How are you this morning, my
love?"

Isabelle was already reading her
letters. She looked up, as if interrupted unwillingly.

"I am well, my lord." One
of the footmen stepped forward to pour her tea. She added a little milk and
resumed her reading.

Snow felt his satisfaction ebb
away, to be replaced by anger. So her amorous adventures of the previous night
had not improved her submission. What did it take, for Christ's sake? He'd lent
her to his friend, then beaten her ass and fucked her in of front of him, and
there she perched, unruffled and unchanged.

Snow flung down his newspaper.

"Please join me in my study
when you have finished your meal."

"Of course, my lord," she
murmured, still entranced with her correspondence.

He stalked down the hall. The
butler interrupted his progress.

"If I may have a word, my
lord?"

*
* * * *

A soft knock interrupted Snow's
churning thoughts. He stood as Isabelle entered the room. He motioned her to a
chair and sat down. His cravat suddenly felt uncomfortably tight.

"Warwick informs me that you
were ill this morning. You told me you were fine." He hadn't meant to
sound like a crown prosecutor, but Isabelle's lips tightened.

"What else did you expect me
to say in front of the servants?"

He wanted her to smile at him, to
tell him her sweet secret. Instead she clenched her fingers in her lap.

"I'm not breeding, if that's
what troubling you."

Not with child. Disappointment sat
like a stone on his chest.

"But I thought, when I heard
you were..."

Isabelle pressed her lips together,
then shook her head.

"If you must know, when I
awoke this morning, the memories of what I'd done, what you made me do...I thought
of taking your friend in my mouth and the memory of the taste made me vomit.
Now may I leave?"

Snow leaned back in his chair.

"Where are you going?"

Isabelle stood up, her expression
arctic. "Hatchard's has a copy of the new novel by Sir Walter Scott. I
have several other errands and then I promised your sister a morning
call."

"I'll bid you good morning
then." No hope that she might like him to accompany her.

She sketched him a stiff curtsy and
turned on her heel. The door shut smartly behind her. Snow rubbed his face.
Even when he'd possessed her body, her spirit eluded him. He didn't know what
it would take to make her truly his. All he did know was that he still wanted
her, in every way, and he was damned if he'd give up now. Devil take it, he was
still her husband. Snow grabbed his hat and walking stick and stormed out of
the house to track down his elusive bride.

CHAPTER SIX

 

The clerk at Hatchard's wasn't
surprised to see her, though she hadn't been to London in two years.

"A man was inquiring about
your ladyship," Mr. Carter told her. Alarm sparked within her.

"What was his name?"

"He didn't say, my lady.
Pleasant fellow, soft-spoken. But he did leave you a note."

Isabelle extended her hand with
fingers that trembled. "Thank you, Mr. Carter." She pushed the note
into her reticule, picked up her book and left the store. She was unnerved. The
anonymous letter writer knew her, where she lived, and now where she shopped as
well. Who could know so much about her?

Her carriage waited down the block.
She hurried towards it, glancing over her shoulder. He could be anywhere. The
footman jumped down to open the door and she climbed inside.

"Tell Coachman to wait a
moment, Purvis."

He closed the door and stepped
back. She pulled out the note and tore it open.

 

Dear Lady Snow,

Please meet me in Green Park.
I'll wait for you at the pond.

 

The words were roughly printed, the
signature illegible. Did this person want her to meet him at once? She peered
out the window. Someone must be watching her, even now. He must have followed
her from the house, and slipped in the book shop while she browsed the shelves.
Isabelle racked her brain, but could remember no suspicious characters lurking
about.

She rapped on the window. Purvis
opened it.

"I'd like to go to Green Park."

"Yes, your ladyship." He
shut the door and Isabelle sank back on the seat, feeling almost as trapped as
she had been at Larkspur Hall. Here in London, an unknown figure stalked her,
terrifying her with those ugly letters that hinted at some kind of retribution,
for crimes she wasn't even sure she'd committed.

And then there were the tangled
relations with her husband, at once proud and passionate. Isabelle had been
whipped as a child, as children were, either by her nurse or governess. Her
father had whipped her once for taking out his most high-spirited horse without
asking permission. She'd sprained her ankle, and he'd been afraid that she
might do herself greater harm. She hadn't liked her punishments, but she'd
understood them.

What her husband did to her, what
she let him do, passed beyond anything she had experienced before. He hurt her,
but he also pleasured her. Her feminine parts tightened at the memory of his
firm hand on her flesh. She wanted him, God help her, even after what had
transpired with Frost. Isabelle shuddered, but her traitorous body grew wet.
What a coil.

The coach lurched to a stop, and
Purvis swung open the door.

"Green Park, my lady." He
helped her down and she adjusted her skirts. She lifted her chin, and strode to
nearest path, which wound down to the water. At least she was not alone.

Isabelle looked around cautiously,
once she reached the pond. Beyond the usual nannies and carriages, the park was
deserted. She glanced back at the carriage, where the coachman and Purvis stood
talking. She closed her eyes for a moment to steady her nerves.

"My lady?"

Isabelle gasped and swung around. A
small round woman, hands clutching a string purse, smiled at her. Isabelle knew
her face but the name...her name was...the effort to recall her caused a
familiar stab of pain behind her eyes.

"My lady, it's Rose. Rose
McNab, I was when I was with you. Are you unwell, my lady?"

Rose! The nursemaid she'd hired for
her daughter. She
remembered
.

One gloved hand pressed her mouth.
A quick calming breath, and Isabelle dropped her hand.

"I am well, Rose. I am just
surprised to see you."

Rose blushed. "I beg your
pardon, my lady, but I saw the notice of your marriage and I wanted," she
hesitated, "I wanted to make sure you...oh, my lady, I've not had word of
you since that dreadful time. I've been that worried."

"Oh, Rose! I never thought. My
brother came to take me home. I was still ill and when I recovered, I never
thought...I am so sorry. Where are you living now? May I assist you in any
way?"

"I am fine, my lady. I never
expected anything from you, bless you, not with all your troubles. Your brother
wrote us references and we've all made out. I went home to my village. I hadn't
the heart to stay in town. I married my old beau. It were him who left the
message with the clerk. He went each day with a new message until you turned
up. I knew it was your favorite shop."

Isabelle's head pounded. Her chest
was tight, releasing each breath with effort.

"There, my lady. You
are
unwell. Let's go sit down, shall we?"

Rose led her to a bench facing the
water. She fussed over her, moistening a handkerchief from a vinaigrette and
holding it to Isabelle's nose. Isabelle waved her back.

"It was just the shock, Rose.
Please, let's just sit still for a moment." Isabelle grasped Rose's hand,
who held on with a comfortable grip.

"Now, let's start at the
beginning. I want you to tell me everything you recall from that night.”

"The baby was ailing, feverish
and coughing. Then, my lady, you fell ill yourself. I had to force you back to
bed, because you didn't want to leave the little one. I asked Rogers to tell
the master to send for the doctor, I was that worried. Then..." Rose
paused, shook her head. "The master, he'd been drinking, worse than ever.
He stormed into the nursery, said he wasn't at the beck and call of servants,
that he wouldn't stand the expense of having a doctor in. Oh, my lady, he
wouldn't even look at the child.

"I begged him, my lady, said
you were so poorly I doubted you'd survive the night." Rose's grasp tightened.
"It was touch and go...but he, oh, my lady, he laughed! Then he went back
to the library and roared for the butler. He sacked us all, there and then. We
had to pack and be out. The master said he'd send for the constable and see us
all locked up if we wouldn't leave. I tried to stay, but the master, he threw
me down the stairs. Rogers helped me out of the house. Some of us stayed
around, to see if somehow we could back in the house to help you and the child.
But the master barred the door. The next morning when I returned, it was
already too late. Your brother had taken you away and we were told by Sir
John's servants that the child was dead. They were all over the house, cleaning
up all the...blood."

The pain in Isabelle's head grew
worse, with each beat of her thudding heart. Flashes of memory surged through
her mind: her wedding day; her daughter, plump and pink from her bath; her
husband, drunk and unkempt, screaming at her.

"But here you are, healthy,
married again, and to such a great lord. I'm that happy for you, my
lady."  Rose smiled. The past, as far as Rose was concerned, could be
tucked safely away again.

Somehow Isabelle mastered her pain,
and summoned a smile.

"Yes, Rose, it is just as you
say. My husband is all that I could wish for. Thank you for taking the time to
come and see me. My memories of that night were unclear. You have helped me to
resolve them."

They parted finally, Rose to her
new life far from London, and Isabelle to visit her sister-in-law. He had
laughed. She remembered him laughing.

*
* * * *

He'd just missed her at Hatchard's,
the clerk told Snow. The volume in question, ‘Quentin Durward,’ was in great
demand and Lady Snow had seemed most happy to obtain it. He left the shop,
remembering the books that lined her cage back at Larkspur Hall. Reading had
been her solace and escape. He'd forgotten that, obsessed as he had been with
his sensual pursuits.

Perhaps the secret to wooing
Isabelle lay more in trying to please her than himself. A novel concept, he
acknowledged to himself wryly. He tried to find her among the other shoppers
who thronged the streets of fashionable London, but failing to do so, retreated
to his club. At least Frost was out of town. He was the last man he wanted to
see right now. Snow entered the reading room to see a large gentleman leaning
lazily against the mantel.

"Winter! I didn't know you
were in town."

Major Caine Winter raised his cup
in greeting. "Snow, as I live and breathe. Heard you'd been shackled at
last."

Snow clasped his free hand warmly.
"May I join you? What in blazes are you drinking?"

Winter looked down at the cup.
"Tea."

Snow looked at him sharply but said
nothing. He asked a hovering waiter for a glass of ale and flung himself in a
chair. Winter looked as imperturbable as ever, his large frame clad in riding
clothes and worn boots.

"I thought to find Leighton,
but I hear he's decamped to his aunt's home in Cornwall."

Snow looked down at his glass.
"Yes, he left this morning."

The major heaved himself into the
chair opposite. "Everything all right?"

In spite of his rustic appearance,
Winter was a formidable man: a leader in war, and the ultimate country squire
at home, caring for a vast retinue of servants and relatives, as he'd cared for
the men serving under him. Those bonds formed on the battlefield had held
tightly over the years.

"I'm damned glad to see you,
major."

Winter sipped his tea. His
expression remained noncommittal, but Snow could sense the sharpening of his
focus.

"In a scrape again,
Julian?"

Snow leaned his head against the
worn leather. "You have no fucking idea."

The major sighed. “You’d better
tell me everything.”

Winter listened, arms crossed,
while Snow recounted his courtship and marriage. Then the major leaned over and
stabbed a large finger into Snow’s chest.

"I never thought you a stupid
man, Julian, but, frankly, I'm beginning to wonder. You treat your wife like a
doxy, allow that incorrigible libertine Frost to accost her, and then you sit
there whining about how your wife doesn't love you the way she should. Pardon
me while I whip out my handkerchief and shed a tear."

Snow gaped at him. A whore. He
hadn't, he would never...had he?

"Christ, you're right. I am
that fucking stupid." Snow dropped his head into his hands. "Now what
am I going to do?"

The major glared at him. "You
are going to go find your wife, tell her that you are an unmitigated ass and
beg her pardon. If she has any sense, she'll tell you to bugger off. Isabelle,
however, did agree to marry you. She may be touched in the head. But she may also,
and it is a remote possibility, accept your apology. If you grovel enough. Then
you can go back to beating and fucking her yourself, like a husband is supposed
to."

Snow shook his head. "It can't
be that simple."

Caine smiled, not nicely. "Oh,
no, not simple. You're going to have to crawl like hell. Remember the Battle of
Vitoria?  Picture your bride as a French soldier, only clad in muslin."

Snow swore. "You're enjoying
all this, aren't you?"

"Immensely, old friend."

*
* * * *

Somehow Isabelle got herself to
Lucy's. She crammed all her fears and memories back inside, in order to simply
carry on. She'd managed it before; it was either that or collapse altogether.
Isabelle had done that the night her daughter died, and it had not served her.
Life was unrelenting. Isabelle had no choice but to keep going.

 "Isabelle! I'm so happy you
came." Lucy fluttered across the drawing room, hands outstretched in
welcome. "Let me perform the introductions."

The other ladies in attendance were
family members in the main, a scattering of cousins and aunts. Isabelle pinned
a smile on her face and tried to act naturally, murmuring greetings to ladies
whose names she would never remember. She found herself sitting beside one of
Snow's cousins, a sprightly young woman whose conversation centered on the
exhaustive accomplishments of her three young children. A stir at the door
heralded the arrival of the young heir, a boy of six months, with his mother's
smile.

After much cooing and admiring on
the part of the ladies, Isabelle looked up to see her hostess bearing down on
her with the precious package held in her arms.

"You haven't met our little
James, Isabelle. Here."

Before Isabelle could object, Lucy
placed the baby in her arms. Oh, God, the feeling of that warm, tiny body, with
its sweet baby scent. Isabelle looked down at little James, her whole being
frozen in horror. She couldn't do this, she just couldn't...she looked up to
see her husband in the doorway. He was speaking with Lucy, but his dark, steady
gaze was fixed on her. Isabelle's fingers tightened on the baby, who mewled his
discomfort. She gasped, loosened her hold. The baby kicked his fat little
thighs. She closed her eyes briefly and wished to be anywhere else.

"My dear, I think you've had
your fair share of our newest family member." Snow reached down to scoop
up baby James. Her arms tightened automatically, but at her husband's nod, she
let the baby go. Relief coursed through her, but her arms felt empty, bereft.

BOOK: Taming His Scandalous Countess
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