Johanna stretched her legs behind her as she tried to focus on her yoga. She had spent the past two nights restlessly tossing and turning, dreaming of Samuel. She hadn’t seen him since the night of her coronation, and today was the Opening of The King’s Warf celebration. That meant he wasn’t going to be able to hide from her much longer. After the way she’d left him in the garden, it was obvious he had changed his mind about her. By now he had most likely found another woman to warm his sheets, so she would be out of the running for the man’s affections. Not that she was trying to win it, of course. It just happened that she was around when he became…
Her thoughts trailed off as she moved into a cross legged position. She refused to allow herself to think of what he was doing. She had a lot to focus on and she had little time to prepare. Maybe a few moments of peace and quiet would help her. Meditation always worked so well for her in the past, perhaps she could introduce it into her present.
She had just managed to clear her mind when a loud knock sounded at her door, pulling her back to reality. With an angry growl, she slapped her hands on the new carpet that had been laid out across her veranda floor, then pushed her way to a standing position. She clenched her jaw as she imagined one of the maids standing outside her door, telling her that another outrageously huge breakfast was ready to be served.
With a quick jerk, she pulled the barrier open to find Sarah and Angela on the other side. Sarcastically, she thought it must have been the first time they were actually awake before noon, dressed and decorated with a layer of cosmetics. Their bleached blonde hair was pulled back in ponytails at the base of their necks, their slender figures accented beneath a matching pair of cream colored shorts. They wore tight tank tops to accent their small, braless breasts. Angela’s top was a hot pink, Sarah’s a robin egg blue.
“Is there something I can do for you?” Johanna asked with a stern expression.
“Ouch, someone woke up on the wrong side of the throne,” Sarah said with a wide grin.
“I’m busy, what do you want?” Johanna asked again.
“We haven’t spent any time with you since we got here,” Angela said. “We were hoping you would go to the beach with us. A bunch of kids are meeting at the east docks and they invited us to come along. We’re going to take a boat out and do some scuba diving before the festivities start.”
“Thank you, but I have a lot to do and I can’t afford the distraction.”
“Oh, come on,” Sarah insisted. “When was the last time you were out of this place. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely gorgeous, but you need to relax and have some fun, and enjoy this little island of yours.”
“I’m not sure if you were aware of this or not, but I’m the queen of this little island. That means I have an exorbitant amount of responsibility, not to mention a speech to rehearse for the celebration this afternoon. None of that allows for frolicking on the beach with a bunch of under aged delinquents who should be studying their homework.”
“Well, excuse us,” Sarah snapped. “I’m so sorry to have disturbed you your Majesty. Please forgive us for wanting to spend some time with you. Please don’t send us to the gallows.”
“Westerly doesn’t have gallows,” Johanna clarified. “We have a punishment circle where criminals receive their just rewards at the end of a cat-o-nines whip.”
“I’m sooo sorry,” Sarah said rolling her eyes.
“Come on, Johanna,” Angela pleaded once more. “The schools are out because of the celebration, and we’ll be back in time for your speech.”
“I cannot just leave the palace, anyway. I have to arrange my plans with my guards in advance and have an escort everywhere I go.”
“You can bring along that scrumptious Samuel Carrington,” Sarah said with a small growl. “I’d love to see him without his clothes…the pirate outfit and tuxedo, I mean.”
“I know what you mean,” Johanna answered with a jolt of jealousy that seemed to grip her nerves in a tight bunch. “How Captain Carrington chooses to spend his day is his business, so long as it doesn’t interfere with his duty. Now, if you’ll excuse me,” she started to shut the door when Angela stopped her with a hand on the edge of the wooden barrier.
“Come on Johanna,” she asked again. “We’ll even help with whatever you have to do when we get back.”
Johanna laughed sarcastically before answering the girl.
“Exactly how well are you at budgeting a deficit, or reducing taxes?”
“You’ve changed, you know?” Angela asked with a sympathetic frown. “You were always a study nerd, but you were never a snob, and you always had time for your friends.”
“I have a lot more on my shoulders than before, and I cannot risk taking the chance of ignoring my responsibilities.”
“You’re going to grow old before your time,” Sarah said with a pouty expression.
“For your information,” Johanna began, feeling like she was scolding a child for neglecting his schoolwork, “I have three million people depending on every move I make, looking up to me to guide them with logic and compassion. I am the person to enforce the laws and see that life on this island continues to be peaceful and tranquil for each of them. It’s up to me to keep them safe so they can play in the sand and go scuba diving. I have factories closing because of the economy, people facing foreclosure because of taxes, unable to afford their mortgages because of the high cost of living. Farms are failing because the cost of fertilizers and pesticides are astronomical. Food is running low in several Regions, and crime is on an upward climb. And those young friends you met, are part of the problem. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise, and the vandalism and burglary of homes and businesses throughout Westerly have caused peaceful citizens to carry guns. Which is illegal on this island. They would rather face time in the dungeons than lose everything they own or have their families terrorized. So, tell me, what part of all of that do you think I should ignore so I can go play at the beach for an afternoon? Which area do you feel you’re most qualified to help me with?”
Angela and Sarah stood silently staring at Johanna. The expression on their faces told her they had no idea what her life was like, or how drastically it had turned from the innocent study nerd they left last summer. With one last look at the girls, Johanna closed the door and walked into her bathroom.
Just telling the twins what she had to do made her realize she was putting off the start of the day. She had a lot to accomplish before she left for Northern Shores and postponing the inevitable wasn’t getting anything done.
Johanna was thankful the palace was much quieter than it had been the past few days. She had spent every evening entertaining different sects of dignitaries who were staying over for the festivities of the King’s Warf celebration. Fortunately, most of the visitors were enjoying the hospitality of the island, so she wasn’t forced to dine with them. That, however, would change the day after the festival ended. She would not be able to avoid the final dinner with her guests. She couldn’t afford to be deemed as unhospitable, or rude to outsiders in the eyes of the press.
She lifted the list of requests for testing and began reading through it. Over the past two days, Johanna had approved more than a hundred special requests for testing from those who came to witness her coronation, so they could visit the bordellos. While the women were out seeing the island or shopping for souvenirs, their husbands were learning a unique avenue of sex. Looking through the list of visitors who had been granted privileges for testing, she did run across more than twenty female names asking for testing permission.
On Westerly, even women were free to experience the techniques being taught in the Bordellos, either as a Guest, the spouse or significant other to a Guest or as a stand-in lady. If a woman wanted to explore Westerly’s sexual activities as one of the ladies would, she would be given to a Guest who wished to have two women. Which many did. She would be offered as a trainee. The man would be informed how to teach her, and the bordello lady would be her instructor. The two would guide the trainee through the session together, and she would receive the same gratuity as any of the ladies did.
The thrill and allure of the home pulled on the senses of even the most reluctant visitor, until their curiosity became unbearable. Once inside the home, the Guest experienced something so unique, they often returned for a repeat performance, some visiting nightly until they left Westerly. Not that Johanna had much to say about it. Anyone on the island, visitor or citizen, had the right to enjoy every aspect of the island - even the sexual ones.
Echoes of beachgoers made their way up the distance to the open office window, making her feel irritated and slightly jealous. She longed to go to the seaside, to lay in the warm sand and feel the heat of the sun soothing her sore muscles. But she couldn’t afford to take the time away from her work. There was too much at stake, and far too much to do, to allow herself to become distracted, even for a single afternoon.
Johanna pulled up the file she had set up for the palace staff. She made notations, with the help of Russell’s assistance, on a new pay scale for each person in her employ. It was the one thing she wanted to get out of the way before the week was over. She didn’t want her staff to feel neglected while she was away in Northern Shores, or to think she was paying more attention to another Region while ignoring her own.
She had spent Tuesday at the bank, with her solicitor’s help, and managed to get all of the accounts transferred into her name. Those the Elders were responsible for were liquefied, and the monies left behind were added to the funds she now had control of. She had ordered checks from the bank before leaving it and received them yesterday. With a stack of them in hand, she placed them in the computer and began printing one for each name in the file.
A pot of coffee, three pastries, two breaks to use the bathroom, and three hours later, her task was completed. She had managed to write out checks for the staff, along with an additional bonus payment for the past years’ of loyal services. She knew she would never be able to afford paying them retroactively for the time they should have been getting pay raises, but she was determined to award them with a gratuity to let them know how valued they were to her.
Johanna stretched her arms out in front of her as she extended her legs. Her back was stiff, and she felt like she was growing roots in the seat beneath her. With a yawn, she decided to take a break from her computer and moved to the window. The sun was high without so much as a single cloud to distract from the warmth. The sounds of birds in the trees made her feel comfortable for a few brief moments, and she closed her eyes to allow the heat that shone through the glass panes to caress her.
A big part of her envied the twins. Martin had never enforced rules on them, and the most they had to worry about was what pair of shoes to wear to the store to buy more. She would love to be at the beach, playing and laughing in the sun, swimming in the crystal clear tropical waters. The idea of scuba diving sounded like a dream. It had been almost a year since she last enjoyed the pleasure of relaxing on a boat, or swimming in the ocean.
Before she knew it, her mind woke up to the memories of her conversation with Samuel, pushing aside the way it had ended. When she was younger, she often wondered what her life would have been like if her parents had lived. She always imagined she would have gone to a normal school, had normal friends, and did all the things teenagers would have done. But then her grandfather wouldn’t have made her his heir and she wouldn’t be sitting where she was today. She wouldn’t have met Samuel - even though they were currently avoiding each other - and the island would be without a ruler for the first time in history.
With a heavy sigh she returned to her desk. Life worked out the way it was intended to and dwelling on what if’s wasn’t going to change anything. She was here for a reason, and she was not going to object to fate’s insistence that she obey her destiny.
A soft knock sounded at the door, and Russell stepped in followed by Penny with the typical mid-morning tray of sweets and coffee in her hands. She placed it on the table as usual, collected the tray from a few hours ago, then curtsied and left the room.
“Will you be so kind as to see that these are given to the staff before the festival begins, please?” Johanna asked, pushing a box of envelopes toward him.
“Yes ma’am,” he agreed.
“Have you heard from Captain Carrington this morning?” she asked, hoping she didn’t sound too eager.
“Yes ma’am. He called to inform you that he would be here by noon to review the security for the celebration.”
“Very well,” Johanna answered, feeling her palms moisten at the thought of seeing him. “I need to go over my speech with Charlotte-Anne, and I’ll need to speak with Mary.”
“Very well ma’am. I’ll take care of that.”
Russell turned to leave, taking the box with him, then paused and turned back to his queen.
“I beg your pardon, ma’am,” he began in a hesitant voice that was not at all like the man’s normal tone. “Will you be enjoying the celebration after your speech, or should I arrange supper for you here?”
“I’m not sure at the moment,” she answered honestly. “Alissa and Martin wanted me to join them today, but that all depends on the amount of work I’m able to get finished before I have to leave.”
“Very well, I’ll leave you to it.”
Russell left the room, closing the door quietly behind him. Johanna leaned back in her seat and closed her eyes. So much was going on, and even more was about to start. She wasn’t sure where to begin, and yet she found herself not wanting to do anything. She wanted to enjoy the day’s festivities. The rides brought in for the carnival portion of the celebration looked like a lot of fun, and she wanted to see what all the fuss was about with the hundreds of booths set up. Perhaps if she could sort out the files she needed to take with her, and her meeting with the banks, she’d be able to arrange some time to work on the rest of her tasks in Northern Shores, so she could partake of the pleasures her island had to offer.
Another soft knock sounded at the door and she looked up as Charlotte-Anne stepped in. She was an older woman, kind of gruff and determined, but nothing Johanna couldn’t handle. She reminded her of Sister Francine, the second nun hired to instruct her. She was proficient with grades three through nine, so she was with them for over two years. Sister Francine was hard to get to know, but once she had managed to find a similar interest - the love of everything Victorian - they became quite close. Johanna was certain it would be that way with Charlotte-Anne, as well.
“Good morning your Majesty,” the woman said, sitting down across from Johanna who waved her hand to a chair.
Charlotte-Anne pushed her mousy brown hair from her forehead, a nervous habit Johanna assumed, and forced herself to smile. The attempt never seemed to reach as far as her gray-blue eyes, and the downward impressions around her mouth told everyone she preferred to frown.
“Charlotte-Anne, I wanted to go over this speech with you.”
Johanna took the paper she’d made notes on out of her drawer. She passed it to the woman who tried not to frown as she read through it.
“I can make these adjustments for you in a few minutes,” the woman said.
“There’s something else,” Johanna added, stopping the woman from standing up. “I’ve found an additional three percent I can offer to the island as a tax reduction, though not all at once, and I’d like it if you could find a place to insert that in the speech.”
“Of course,” Charlotte-Anne answered with a slight frown.
“Is there something wrong?” Johanna asked with a frown of her own.
“May I ask you a question?”
“Of course. If we’re going to continue working together, we should have an open line of communication.”
“I’ve spoken to Lord Oscar recently, and he seems to believe that you may be rushing the tax reductions just a bit.”
“Lord Oscar? You mean Ethan Oscar, Reginald’s assistant?” Johanna asked watching the woman nod once. “From what I understood, Lord Oscar had decided to move to England to spend time with his sister’s family. I don’t see where he has much to do with anything I decide, especially since he’s not even on the island.”
“He has just returned from England and has assumed his life in West Hallow.”
“West Hallow? I wasn’t aware he was a part of Eric Sorensen’s Region.”
“He is Lord Sorensen’s brother-in-law.”
“Well, imagine that,” Johanna said with a curious expression on her delicate face. “Why does Lord Oscar believe I’m rushing the tax reductions?”
“It’s a good plan, and I have to agree with him, but if you offer too much too soon, other areas of the economy may suffer.”
“Such as?” Johanna asked watching the woman closely.
“Have you considered what a tax reduction would do to the tourism?” Charlotte-Anne asked. “If you lower taxes, then prices will come down, and the country’s dollar will decrease in value. The foreign exchange will decrease and Westerly will suffer an unfair loss. Imports will remain the same cost, regardless of how much you lower the cost of living for the island. Our exports will decrease in value, and we will never see a profit on the products we ship out.”
“If I continue to lower taxes - which I will do until I’m convinced it’s enough - then our dollar will increase in the foreign exchange. If our dollar is worth ninety cents in America now, then in a few months it will be worth a dollar and a half. When the taxes come down, the economy increases by the sheer volume of spending. People are able to shop again, and businesses will be able to purchase more imported goods. Our exports will be able to profit highly, simply by popularity among those who order our merchandise. It’s a matter of cost and demand. The island will change overnight once the citizens are able to breathe comfortably again, knowing they can afford food and shelter at the same time.”
Charlotte-Anne didn’t say anything for several long moments. She just stared at Johanna as if in deep thought. After a moment, she cleared her throat and stood up, taking the paper with her.
“I’ll make the changes you’ve asked for and get it back to you in half an hour,” she said.
“Charlotte-Anne,” Johanna said stopping the woman from leaving the room. “The next time you speak with Lord Oscar, or Lord Sorensen, about what I am doing, or about me in general, I would appreciate knowing about it right away. I do not appreciate being gossiped about behind my back. If you have something to say to me, then tell me to my face. I will not tolerate interference from outside sources. If you’re unable to perform your job for me, as my Press Secretary, then I will find someone who will. I demand loyalty from my staff, and I offer it in return. Is that understood?”
“Yes, your Majesty,” she answered and for a moment Johanna actually thought she saw a blush tint her aging cheeks. “I am quite capable of performing my job. I will not allow gossip to distract me from my duty to you, and I assure you, I will not be a party to it.”
“Thank you. It’s my hope that we will have a long working relationship. You’re very good at your job, and I appreciate your dedication to this island. But just know, I have never tolerated insubordination, and I am not about to start now. I took over my grandfather’s businesses when I was eight years old. In the span of two years, I turned six failing companies around and was making a profit, double to what my grandfather was making when he was alive. I will do the same to Westerly, despite intervention.”
Charlotte-Anne stared at Johanna with slightly wider eyes, then nodded and left the room. It was one thing to have a queen barely older than a teenager, but to have one as determined and strong willed as Johanna Abbot-Worthington, was a ride she hoped to be on for a long time.
With a grin to herself, the woman returned to her office and began setting out to rewrite the speech. She was curious as to how Lord Oscar and Lord Sorensen were going to react to the queen’s announcement. If only she could be a fly on the wall when they heard it.
Janessa had finally decided that the queen would continue to wear her old jeans, unless she began making pants for her. True, Johanna didn’t care much for the feel or style of dress clothes, but it was a far better idea than dresses. At least the young woman would wear them without deliberately trying to stain them or rip them - an occurrence that had happened on three separate occasions since she arrived on the island. If she wasn’t aware of how old the queen was, she’d swear she was a child rebelling against wearing a simple dress.
Samuel stopped outside her office door, when he looked down the hall to see her approaching him. She had her eyes downward as she studied her cell phone, allowing him a moment to absorb her beauty without being caught. She looked stunning in a pair of pale khaki colored gabardine dress slacks and an African violet colored blouse with short sleeves and pearl buttons up the front. The outfit wasn’t exactly form-fitting, but it was slender and accented her natural curves. The buttons on her blouse was strained just a bit across her breasts, offering the man an idea of what lay beneath.
With her hair pulled back in a thick braid, a simple tiara on the top of her dark head, she looked every bit the part of what a young royal should be. In her hands she carried a pair of tan colored, low heeled pumps and it brought a smile to the man’s lips. She would always be a child of the desert, no matter how many crowns she was forced to wear.
Johanna looked up as she neared her office, then stopped in mid-step. Samuel was standing just feet away from her, his strong firm body covered in his formal pirate uniform, complete with sword and hat, which he held in his hand. She couldn’t understand why she thought he looked more handsome every time she saw him, but then she brought up the excuse she’d been hiding behind. It was just a primal attraction that drew them together.
“Good morning, Captain Carrington,” she said, forcing herself to continue walking. “I was expecting you earlier. I thought you wanted to review the security measures for the celebration before we left, not in the car on the way.”
“I apologize for being late,” he told her as she opened the door to her office and stepped inside. “I had a little difficulty with a lady and it delayed my plans.”
“I’d appreciate it if you didn’t discuss your nocturnal activities with me,” she snapped as he closed the door behind him. “I care little what you do, or with whom you do it, so please keep the details to yourself.”
“My, aren’t we in a bit of a tizzy today. If I had known you were so eager to see me, I’d have left her earlier.”
“I was not…I am not…I was only concerned because you are my guard, and I thought I’d have to leave without you,” she said, sitting on the sofa to slip her shoes on, hoping she wasn’t as embarrassed as she felt.
“You’re a terrible liar, Johanna,” he told her, sitting on the arm of the chair next to her and setting his hat on the cushion.
“Whatever,” she grumbled. Once her shoes were on, she stood up and moved back to her desk. “What am I expected to do today? Besides the speech, of course.”
“I was hoping you’d take in the festivities with me, since I am responsible for your safety.” Samuel stood and followed her, sitting in his usual seat across from the desk. “I think we could both do with a bit of relaxation for a while.”
“I can protect myself, thank you. Besides, I thought you were delayed because of some wench. Is she someone you keep on the side for temporary relief, or one of the whores at those homes?”
Johanna glanced up at him seeing the humor in his blue gaze, then quickly lowered her eyes.
“You know, never mind. I’d really rather not know. I was talking about the security measures for the festivities.”
“I have men staked out at the ports and docks, along the main roads to the Festival Grounds, and all the entrances and exits. I have two dozen men on the rooftops of the businesses around the grounds, and another dozen on motorcycles driving the streets in order to keep everything calm.”
“That sounds very sufficient,” she told him with an approving expression. “I’m surprised your lady would allow you enough time to plan that much.”
“I thought you didn’t want to discuss her?” he grinned.
“I don’t, it was just an observation.”
“Of course, it was,” he said watching the color tint her cheeks. “I’d like to introduce you to her before we leave for the festival. She’s waiting outside.”
“What? You brought her here? What the bloody hell were you thinking, bringing a…woman like that to my home? I’d have thought you had better sense than that.”
Johanna stood up and moved to the door. Her hand had just touched the knob when a firm grip fell over it, preventing her from turning the handle.
“I don’t understand you,” Samuel said in a low, almost menacing voice as he leaned in closer to her. “One moment you act as if you’re happy to see me, then the next you’re yelling at me for something you think I’ve done. If it wasn’t for the fact I find it impossible to keep my hands off you…if you weren’t the bloody queen…I’d have taken you in my arms the moment we met and carried you off to a world far away from here.”
“Then I suppose it’s a very good thing I am the bloody queen,” she growled back, jerking her hand away from him.
“Why are you so angry?” he demanded, blocking the door so she couldn’t leave.
“Why should I be angry? It’s not like you belong…I just assumed you would be here…you’ve been darkening my doorstep every day since I arrived on Westerly. I just thought…”
“You missed me,” he said in a hushed voice as he took half a step closer to her.
“I did not!” she snapped, backing up.
“Yes, you did. I can see it in your eyes.”
He took another step closer and watched as she backed up a little further.
“Am I? Are you sure you weren’t disappointed when I didn’t pull you in my arms the moment our eyes met?”
They continued to play their pacing game as they spoke. A step closer, a step backwards.
“I have no intention of allowing you to touch me again.”
“Not even my lips?”
“Especially not…those,” she said as her eyes drifted downward to his mouth.
“But you enjoy them,” he said moving a step closer as she backed into the side of the desk, letting out a soft gasp when she realized she was cornered. “You like how they make you feel. You like how perfectly our bodies mold together. It’s as if we were cut from the same piece of fabric.”
“That’s ridiculous,” she said in a voice far less intimidating than she had hoped.
“Perhaps I should demonstrate exactly how it feels to be in my embrace. Perhaps I should set your blood on fire. Make you pant with desire and passion.”
He stepped directly in front of her, placing his hands on either side of her, bracing them on the desk and preventing her from moving away.
“You’ll do…no…such thing,” she whispered as he moved closer to her, brushing her lips with his in a tender, butterfly kiss that sent her heart pounding in her chest.
“Are you sure you don’t want it?” he asked, his lips continuing to brush against hers, just enough to excite her, but not enough to claim them in defeat.
“No…I mean yes…I mean…”
“Shut up Johanna,” he demanded as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her so close to him, she could feel the strain of his arousal pressing against the combined material of their clothing.
Samuel pressed his lips against hers and easily slipped his tongue into her mouth, claiming hers as his prize. They played a game of cat and mouse inside her sweet mouth until she surrendered and offered him as much as he was giving her.
He slowly began caressing her back as he moved his hands to her hips and lifted her to the edge of the desk, never once breaking his hold on her lips. He reached for her leg and moved it up around his waist, moaning when she lifted the other one on her own and locked her feet behind him. He opened his eyes and glanced to the desk behind her and nearly smiled as he briefly inspected the empty surface. Everything had been cleaned off. No files, no computer, nothing, not even a pen was left out to prevent him from taking advantage of its smooth surface.
Very slowly, he slid his hands up her spine to the back of her bra and with a quick flip of his fingers, he had it unfastened. She didn’t notice what he was doing. Her mouth was far too involved with his to notice much of anything else. The action of his fingers didn’t registered through the passion filled haze in her mind, not even when he began unbuttoning the front of her blouse.
Johanna moaned, wrapping her arms around his neck, feeling the stiff ruffles of his tunic against her abdomen. The heat of his skin burned through his clothing. It felt like the sun baking her slender body, but the fire of his passion was so much better than laying on the beach.
Samuel slowly broke his kiss, as he reached up and removed her tiara from the top of her head, then trailed his lips across her cheek to her neck. Again, she moaned as he carefully set her tiara aside. He moved his hot, moist tongue across her flesh, over her neck and down her chest, easing her backwards until she was lying across the cool surface of the desk. Johanna kept her eyes closed, savoring the sensation of his mouth as it traveled down the center of her breasts. His hands caressed the sides of the firm mounds, then pressed them gently together, allowing his tongue to explore and tease her erect nipples.
The heat of his mouth against her cool flesh sent waves of desire to wash over her. Her back arched, and she groaned as her breasts made a closer contact with his lips. She smiled and bit her bottom lip to keep from crying out as he suckled her breast deep into his mouth. His tongue flicked easily across her nipple, driving a deep groan from her throat. She felt like she was going to combust with need as he kissed a hot path across her chest to the opposite breast and began suckling it in the same delightful way.
Samuel knew he was playing with dynamite, but he didn’t care. He wanted this as much as she did, and he wasn’t going to stop until she pushed him away. His own need was burning inside his veins, sending surges of yearning straight down to the hardening length of his manhood.
Moving is mouth off her breast, he mapped out a hot moist trail of kisses across her ribs and stomach, until he reached the firm skin above the snap of her slacks. Very carefully he pulled the fabric apart then eased her legs from around his waist as he slipped her slacks down her bottom.
Johanna gasped at the cool wood against her buttocks, but it still hadn’t registered to her what was happening. She was far too engrossed in the new sensations she was feeling to allow reality to interfere. She moaned again as he lowered his head, moving his mouth downward, kissing the sensitive skin of her smooth body. Instinctively, her legs fell further apart, granting him access to the junction of her apex.
Samuel licked and kissed his way to the lips of her labia, sucking and tasting each one in turn. He smiled when she gasped, exhaling a deep moaning sound. His tongue slid between the lips and he very slowly teased the swollen bud of her clitoris. He knew the satisfaction was going to be one sided, but he wasn’t going to stop. He wanted her to experience her first orgasm with him, and he would gladly endure all the anger she could muster afterwards, when she finally came to her senses.
The tingle between her legs grew more intense as he licked her, nipping and suckling at the tender flesh of her womanhood. Slowly, Johanna opened her eyes and focused on the ceiling above her. Samuel’s incredible tongue was flicking wickedly across her most private spot and for a split second she thought of stopping him. It wasn’t right, it was immoral, even…naughty, but she wasn’t going to end it. She could feel the heat inside building to a volcanic explosion and she wanted to know more. She wanted him to give her what her body hungered for every time she looked into his brilliant blue eyes.
As he slowly, carefully inserted a finger into the wet opening of her tight canal, she moaned, feeling the tingling increase to a level of near frenzy. Johanna reached down and wound her fingers into his hair, holding him against her wet heat. Within seconds the volcano erupted, and she cried out. Her veins were baking in a fire she had never experienced before…the flames had her panting and writhing beneath his touch.
When he was certain she had experienced enough, he slowly kissed his way back up to her breasts, playing and tasting each one before raising his head. She had her hands on his shoulders as she opened her eyes, panting and flushed from the incredible experience he gave her. She saw the need burning in the blue depths of his eyes. The look of concern pulled at his jaw as he waited for her to push him away, but she didn’t. She just looked at him, making the need for her grow deeper.
“Please,” she whispered. “I don’t want this to end.”
“Do you mean…do you know what you’re asking…are you sure?” he asked with a curious frown.
“I’ve never been surer of anything in my life.”
He just stared at her for a long moment, then closed his eyes and lowered his head down to hers.
“We can’t do this,” he insisted in a voice filled with regret. “You have a speech to make, and we don’t have enough time to…”
“For the first time in my life, I want to be late,” she told him, raising up on her elbows to meet his lips as he straightened up above her. “I need you…I want you…” she growled as she kissed him hard and urgently.
Samuel could no longer deny his throbbing need and quickly turned around. He moved to the door and locked it, then unfastened his pants on his way back to the desk. He reached for her legs, kissing the flesh of her inner thighs as he pulled her pants completely off. He tossed them aside, then gently began caressing her lower abdomen. For a long moment they just stared at each other. They were about to do the one thing that they would never be able to take back, and he wanted to make certain she understood what was at stake.
“You’re a virgin,” he whispered watching the amused smile pull at her lips. “You can’t go back once we’ve done this. You’ll be ruined for any man…for the man you choose…for your husband.”
“Don’t you want me?” she asked, knowing the answer before she even finished her question.
“Oh God, Johanna, I’ve never wanted anything more in my life.”
“Then what’s stopping you?”
“You have to be sure. I can’t…I won’t… not unless you’re positive this is what you want.”
“Samuel,” she whispered as she wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him again. “Shut up.”
With a deep moan, he returned her kiss, pulling the hard rod from beneath his pants. He wrapped his arms around her waist and eased her to the edge of the desk until she felt certain she would fall. Wrapping her legs around his waist again, she held his hips against her as their tongues played the familiar game inside her mouth.
Johanna could feel the moist, hot tip of him press against the small opening of her vagina and she squeezed her eyes tighter. The twins told her about the searing pain a woman felt her first time, and as much as she wanted this, she suddenly became frightened. She was strong, she could endure anything, and had suffered more pain than most people could tolerate in a lifetime. This was a pain she was not prepared for. A pain in the one part of her body that, until recently, she hadn’t realized had sensations.
“Last chance,” he whispered against her lips, giving her a final option to back out.
Instead, she shook her head and kissed him again, clinging to his lips as he pressed the throbbing, steel rod further inside her.
A sting of pain traveled up into her abdomen and then he was sheathed inside her. It was nothing like the twins had told her, and she found a wanton desire she’d never had before. She wanted to explore the depths of this new world, and she wanted Samuel as her only guide.
Slowly, he began to rock against her, pulling out until just the tip of him was in her, then pressing forward, bringing a surge of heat with him. Over and over, he thrust into her, renewing the tingle that she now understood as desire. She needed him more than she needed air to breathe, and she wasn’t ever going to look back on this moment with anything but fond memories.
It took three more deep thrusts, and she felt his erection harden even firmer than it had. He spilled his seed into her with a low growl, tipping her over the edge of release. The two lovers clung to each other in desperation as they shared the climax together. It was the most amazing sensation she had ever experienced, and she finally understood what all those men over the years were wanting.
“Talk to me,” he whispered in her ear a few moments later as he held her close to his chest, keeping her wrapped in the strength of his embrace.
The rough ruffle of his tunic pressed up against her cheek, and she could feel the soft rhythm of his heart as they slowly began to relax.
“I don’t regret it,” she assured him, knowing exactly what he needed to hear. “And I did miss you.”
Samuel laughed, hugging her tighter in his arms. She couldn’t help but smile at the sound that came from deep inside his muscular chest. He leaned back just enough to capture her lips again, kissing her hard and urgent.
“I’ve wanted to do that since the moment I laid eyes on you,” he told her as he eased away from her, staring down at her firm round breasts. “I’ve wanted you since you were sixteen.”
“You don’t remember me back then, do you?” he asked with a smirk.
Johanna shook her head as he backed up, bringing her off the desk to stand in front of him. She had no idea they had met before, and she was very proud of her photographic memory.
“It was the last time you were here to visit your uncle,” he told her, glancing down to his slacken penis. “Reginald purchased a horse from us and I was here to deliver it. His one and only mare was ready to foal, and since I knew more about horses than he did, I volunteered to stay over to help.”
Johanna accepted her discarded clothing from him and adjusted her bra across her breasts then fastened it. She began to slip her legs into her slacks but paused when he wrapped her back in his embrace. He pulled her to him and kissed her hard, but brief.
“That’s a bathroom, isn’t it?” he asked looking to a door beside the fireplace.
Johanna nodded, and he took her by the hand and walked to it. He opened the door and walked in, then took down a small rag from the shelf and turned on the faucet. He turned her to face him, trapping her between him and the porcelain sink. He kissed her again, then shut off the water and rung out the cloth.
She gasped at the coolness of the rag as he placed it against her naked body and gently cleaned her off. His actions were slightly embarrassing, but somehow stimulating. She looked up and saw the smile pulling at the corners of his mouth, then lowered her eyes again.
“You are absolutely beautiful,” he told her.
He kissed her again and moved enough to release her from the hold he had on her. He watched for a moment as she began pulling on her panties, then rinsed out the rag and washed himself.
Johanna looked to him and gasped, noticing the blood he was cleaning off his manhood. Samuel looked to her with a curious frown, then back to the cloth he held in his hand. He quickly rinsed it again, then hung it across the edge of the sink to dry.
“Where did that come from?” she asked in a hushed whisper.
Samuel moved to stand in front of her, lifting her chin up with his finger, then kissed her gently.
“It’s proof you were a virgin,” he whispered against her lips. “There’s nothing more precious to a man, than the blood of a virgin, willingly given in the moment of passion.”
“Oh,” was all she said, then continued to dress as he straightened his own clothing.
“It was raining that night,” he said, wrapping his hand in hers and continuing his story as they returned to her office. “You came down in a slicker four times your size.”
“I remember that night,” she replied, looking at her reflection in the mirror on the wall as she set the crown back in place. She walked with him out of the office and down the hallway to the stairs. “Russell made me wear it. He was always the one who knew when I snuck out.”
“He’s a good man. I like him.”
“He’s probably the closest thing to a friend I have on this island.”
“What about me?” he asked, pausing momentarily in the hallway and looked into her eyes with concern.
“You are so much more than a friend,” she told him, gently caressing his cheek. “You’re more of a lifeline for me.”
“I’ll take that,” he smiled, turning his lips into her palm and kissing it.
“Tell me how it is we met, but I can’t remember it?” she asked as they continued walking.
“The mare had just delivered an hour or two before you came to the stables,” he told her holding tightly to her hand. “You took the slicker off and climbed over the side and into the stable. You were more interested in the foal than me, so I was able to stay off to the side and watch you. Even as young as you were, you had an amazing body.”
“I developed early,” she said, with a soft blush.
“Yes, you did,” he growled, stopping just before they reached the stairs, pulling her into the nearest room.
The lights were off, but the aroma of cleaners made them realize it was a storage closet, but that didn’t stop him from pressing her against the closed door. He covered her mouth with the hot urgency of his, allowing his hand to caress her firm breasts through the thin fabric of her blouse.
“Samuel, we have to leave,” she told him with a soft giggle as he nipped her neck and collarbone, then moved to her ear. “We don’t have time for this.”
“Remind me to show you how quick we can slip in a romp between meetings,” he growled as he licked her ear causing her to giggle again.
With his hand under her bottom, he lifted her easily in his embrace, holding her eye level with him as he kissed her full lips. It took barely a moment before he pulled her blouse and bra up above her breasts, latching onto one of them and sucking it hard enough to make her moan.
“Still want to wait?” he asked in a deep husky whisper.
“No, but we have to,” she panted.
“Promise me we’ll pick up where we left off.”
“I promise,” she told him as he lowered her back down to her feet. “I believe I’ve just discovered what it must be like to have an addiction.”
His hands caught hers preventing them from straightening her clothing. The need to have her again burned like a wildfire inside his loins, and there was only one way to quench the heat.
Johanna knew from the way he held her, they were going to be a little later than she anticipated, but when she felt his hand slip beneath the soft fabric of her slacks, she no longer cared. It took a few quick movements and she was once again free of her pants, her arms around his neck and her legs braced on the strong forearms of her lover.
As he entered her, he could feel her slight resistance and knew she was sore from their first encounter, but he couldn’t stop now. They’d gone too far to pull back.
Samuel thrust into her full and hard until she was panting. She felt the heat of desire build again and wanted to experience the mind searing orgasm he had introduced her to. As he began to swell inside her, she knew he was about spent, but she hadn’t felt the burning need of her own yet. She had just about given up hope that she would experience it again when he gently began to play with the tight hole of her bottom. It was a sensation she had never felt before, but it was all it took for him to send her over the edge.
Johanna clung to him as he covered her mouth, absorbing her cries as he joined her. It had taken barely three minutes, but they had once again found that small piece of paradise together, and neither of them regretted it.
Slowly, she felt herself slipping down the length of him until her feet were once again on the floor. By the time they had redressed and gone downstairs, they were half an hour late for her speech. Johanna was eager to get to the festival and have done with her duty, so they could once again find a hiding place to explore their passion when Angela and Sarah came through the front door. They nearly ran into Johanna who was reaching for the handle.
“Johanna,” Sarah panted softly.
She glanced to Samuel and smiled an invitation that he was in no way going to accept.
“She’s beautiful,” Angela said, excitedly. “Wherever did you get her?”
“Excuse me?” Johanna asked with a frown.
“I believe they are referring to the lady who detained me from getting here on time,” Samuel smiled, taking Johanna’s hand and casually walking her out of the door.
Standing in the circular driveway was Kelil, and at the end of the leather reins was the beautiful brown horse Johanna had fallen in love with. She let out a soft squeal and hurried down the stairs toward the horse who was fighting to get away from the boy.
“Easy Johanna,” Samuel ordered her. “She’s skittish and she’s in unfamiliar surroundings.”
Johanna took the reins from the boy and very slowly began to stroke her nose. She held tightly to the leather strap, keeping the horse’s head still. The filly snorted and tried to rear up but couldn’t move out of the tight grip the woman had on her.
“I told you, she’s skittish,” he snapped at her.
“Why is she here?” Johanna asked smiling as the horse began to lose her fight.
“It was my parents’ idea, not mine. They said they promised you a horse as a coronation gift and wanted to give you this creature.”
“She’s beautiful,” Johanna insisted, petting the horse on the nose until she calmed down under her gentle touch. “I wish I had time to ride her.”
“You’ll have plenty of time when we return, but for now, you’re late. Let’s get you to the festivities before people start thinking you’ve forgotten them.”
The platform was decorated in the traditional purple and white ribbons, with a podium and microphone. When her limousine pulled up at the entrance, the crowd began to applaud, calling out her name and cheering. She stepped out of the back of the sleek black vehicle, waving to the crowd and walking beside Samuel to the Festival Grounds.
She paused on her path to the stage to accept flowers or shake hands. Several times she signed her name to slips of paper and smiled for pictures. By the time she reached her final destination, she was nearly an hour late, but it appeared that nobody noticed.
Samuel moved up to the stage behind her, joined by Patrick who had been waiting for them. They looked out across the audience who gathered to listen to their queen, just to make certain nothing looked suspicious. The sound of voices ceased as Johanna laid out the speech Charlotte-Anne had rewritten for her. She looked up and smiled, noticing Eric and Julius Sorensen near the front of the stage. They were standing beside an older man with a bald head, and a gray beard and mustache. He was older than she remembered, but Johanna recognized him as Ethan Oscar, Reginald’s former assistant.
“Today celebrates the five hundred and thirty-ninth Opening of The King’s Warf celebration,” she began as the crowd cheered and whistled. “The first celebration was the year after Black Jack set free the hostages left on this island to be used as slaves. Since that time, this island has grown from two hundred citizens to over three and a half million, with more than five hundred thousand visitors a year. We have shot off forty million fireworks into the night sky and served two million pounds of pineapple. We now move into a new era that has never been seen on this island before. An era that starts with myself, the first female heir to sit upon the throne in more than three hundred years.”
Once again, the crowd burst into an explosive round of applause as cheers and shouts of jubilation filled the air.
“To honor this day, the first of many celebrations of my reign, I wish to extend a gift to the island. Effective today, all taxes will be decreased by 2.78 percent, with my promise that further reductions will be coming soon.”
Johanna paused for another burst of applause, looking directly to Eric Sorensen and Ethan Oscar. She raised a slender brow to them and bowed her head slightly, almost as if challenging them to stop her. The two men seemed to puff up their chests as Sorensen turned and walked back through the crowd, leaving Lord Oscar to finish her speech with Julius Sorensen.
“Many changes are going to embrace our little island,” she continued, glancing down to the notes. “I have accepted the challenges left by my cousin, and stress patience as I move through a very long list of tasks. I am eager to see where Westerly will be one year from today. Now, without further delay, I welcome every one of you, guests, visitors and citizens alike, to the five hundred and thirty-ninth Opening of The King’s Warf celebration. Let the festivities begin.”
Johanna stepped back and waved as she moved off the stage, shaking the hands of those eager to make her acquaintance. She could feel Samuel’s warm hand on the small of her back as he helped steer her through the crowd. They had nearly made it out of the mass of spectators when Julius Sorensen stepped up to her and bowed with a wide smile that revealed his straight white teeth.
“Your Majesty,” he said, lifting her fingers to his lips and kissing her soft knuckles.
“Lord Sorensen,” she answered pulling her hand away, then casually wiped her hand on her slacks, removing the moisture he had left behind.
“That was a very impressive speech,” the man said. “I’m amazed at how much you have done, in such a short time.”
“Really?” she asked with a curious expression on her young face. “I would have assumed that you would feel the same as your father.”
“My father is not a visionary. He still believes that a country must be ran by a man in order to see any sort of positive progress.”
“Are you a visionary, Lord Sorensen?”
“That I am, and the name is Julius. There’s no reason to stand on formality. After all, we are practically related.”
“And how do you see that?” Johanna asked with a slight frown.
“King Ian gave his younger sister to one of his crewmen, a good friend of his from England. She and her husband assumed the Leadership of West Hallow after Oliver Holladay was executed for killing Queen Maria. Surely you knew this?”
“I have not followed the lineages of branches outside of the direct blood line to Black Jack.”
“My ancestor may not have had Black Jack’s blood, but she did have the Worthington blood. My line suffered the curse the same as yours did.”
“As I recall it,” Samuel said, stepping to Johanna’s side, “It was your great-great grandfather who was the last of the Worthington line. He married late in life, never having had a child of his own. He took a widow as his wife and adopted her five children. The curse you claim to have attacked your lineage, died with him, so genetically speaking, you are no more a Worthington than the jackass in the field.”
“Ah, Samuel,” Julius began with a smile that looked more like a sneer, making Johanna wonder about the relationship between the two. “I didn’t notice you there. I suppose I should have, with that hat and feathers.”
“Don’t tell me you’re still put out that you didn’t make the cut to be a guard?”
“That was years ago, and I’ve more than moved past it,” Julius answered, no longer hiding his distaste for Samuel. “Which I suppose is a good thing. I am free now to accept the responsibility of my status and title. Pity you can’t say the same. Who is standing in for you while you’re away playing pretend pirates, your brother? Or perhaps your sister? I understand she’s much more in touch with the talk of the island than anyone.”
“I would appreciate it if you did not speak to the Captain of my guard in such a manner,” Johanna said, in an attempt to prevent Samuel from punching the man’s turned up nose.
“I apologize, your Majesty,” Julius said, bowing and reaching for her hand again, kissing her knuckles once more. “It’s an old disagreement between…friends. If you’ll excuse me. I am quite eager to sample the wares of the lower classes.”
“What the bloody hell was that about?” Johanna asked, wiping her hand on the leg of her slacks as they moved quickly away from the large ears of those who stood close by.
“He’s a worthless bastard,” Samuel insisted, glancing behind him as Patrick easily caught up to them.
“He’s always assumed his family was so much better than others, because his line allegedly links up to Ian and Angelique,” Patrick explained.
“If it had linked up to mine, I’m sure I would have known about it. But that doesn’t explain his rudeness…or yours.”
She turned to Samuel, watching as he clenched his teeth.
“We go a long way back,” he answered with a voice of pure hatred.
“Care to elaborate?”
“No,” he told her, then stopped and glanced to Patrick. “Make certain the queen gets home safely. I have to check up on the guard.”
Johanna opened her mouth to stop him, but he turned and walked briskly away without another word spoken. She turned and looked to Patrick with an expression that insisted he start talking.
“They were never really friends,” he began as they started walking again. “Julius was in class with us, growing up. He has always been overly arrogant, and Samuel was much more the favorite to the young girls. When he and Melinda announced their engagement, Julius began a rumor that he had been her lover for years. Samuel called him out on it and forced him to apologize in public for the slander against the soon-to-be Lady Carrington.”
“That explains why Samuel hates the man so much,” she told him as they passed a small stand with samples of tarts and crisps.
“That’s only a part of it,” Patrick continued watching her slip a crisp into her mouth. She picked up a small bag of the sweet sugar treats and handed the young man behind the table the money to pay for it.
“Do you believe Sorensen’s claim?” she asked moving on to another table.
“Personally…yes, I do,” Patrick said, watching as she turned to look at him. “Melinda was nothing close to a lady. She convinced her father into offering her to the Carringtons as a betrothal to Sam, simply because she wanted the title and the notoriety. The fact he was young and handsome was an added bonus to her. After they married, and she learned he had no intention of assuming his father’s title before his time - as Julius has tried - she flipped out on him. They had a horrible fight and he left her. A couple of weeks later she called him and told him she was pregnant.”
“So, he took her back,” she surmised purchasing a shell necklace from another vendor before moving on to the table of needle work.
“Yes, despite everyone telling him not to.”
“Didn’t they want the child to be raised with his father?”
“It wasn’t that,” Patrick said, then stopped speaking as she inspected the blankets and tapestries, all stitched by hand.
She purchased a rather beautiful quilt with squares that formed a picture of a bird of paradise, for her aunt, instructing the woman to send it to the palace. Johanna assured her, Russell would see to the payment, then turned to walk on down the line of booths.
“What was it then?” she asked taking up the conversation where they had left off.
“When the baby was born, the physicians told Walter and Franny, the baby weighed, or rather would have if he’d lived, eight pounds and twelve ounces. Samuel believed the baby was premature. He had only been married to Melinda for a little more than seven months.”
“She was pregnant when they married?” Johanna asked, stopping and turning to stare at her guard with wide eyes.
Patrick took her by the arm, steering her out of the line of listeners. They walked to a small booth selling samples of Westerly wines and took two glasses, then sat down at a bench far enough away to prevent the risk of new gossip.
“There are a lot of us who believe she was pregnant when she married Sam,” he answered her in a quiet voice.
“Do you think it was Sorensen’s baby?”
“I will never be certain, but yes, I do. He has always spent more money than he earned at the bordellos. I’m not shy about going there either, but one night just after the wedding, I was at Miss Delilah’s when Sorensen came in. He’d been drinking more than legally allowed and ordered a room and a whore. Specifically, one with blonde hair and blue eyes. When three Ladies were presented to him for his approval, he told them he wanted one who looked like the mother of his child.”
“Melinda was blonde haired, wasn’t she?”
“With blue eyes. After he inspected the women, he finally chose one who was just sixteen. He told her, for the night her name was Lindy.”
“Don’t tell me, let me guess,” she began with a disgusted expression. “Melinda’s nick-name was Lindy?”
“You got it.”
“But there’s no way of proving the rumors. The child and his mother were both buried.”
“Franny insisted on snipping a piece of the child’s dark hair for a book of remembrance,” he told her. “She placed it beside the only photo ever taken of the baby, in case Sam ever wanted to see his son’s face again.”
“DNA testing can be done on the hair,” Johanna suggested.
“True, but are you going to be the one to tell him he wasn’t the father? That baby was more a part of Sam than anyone ever has been, or ever will be again.”
“Why did he stop seeing women? Was it because of her?”
“He claims it was.”
“You don’t believe him?” she asked, drinking down the last of her wine.
“I think deep down he knows the child wasn’t his. He had such a deep hatred for the bitch, it was a good excuse to avoid women altogether. He started labeling women as conniving, deceitful, money-grubbing monsters. That doesn’t sound like a term you would use for a woman who died in childbirth.”
“It sounds like a label for an adulteress.”
“Sam is my best friend. He has been since we were three years old. I would never do anything to hurt him, and I hope you won’t either.”
“He has feelings for you, you know?” Patrick asked watching the soft color tint her cheeks. “I think you feel the same for him. I hope it’s enough to help him start living again. He’s only twenty-four. He deserves happiness, even if it’s in the arms of a queen.”
Johanna didn’t say anything as they stood and began walking the booths again, discussing safer subjects such as the economy, or the weather. She didn’t want to cause the man any suspicions that could result in Samuel being put on the spot. But the more she had heard about Melinda, the more she understood the attitude he had toward her. She only hoped that one day he would be able to find the happiness he deserved, even if it wasn’t in the arms of a queen.