Samuel stared at Johanna as he thought back on the day before. He didn’t answer her friend because he honestly didn’t know if he had one. That had been the real reason he avoided her the entire day. In a way he felt he was very similar to Johanna. He spent the past five years pushing women away in an attempt to keep from suffering their manipulation again. In his mind they were all hateful, spiteful, deceiving bitches who wanted life to work out for themselves and to hell with anyone else. He was basing all women on his experience with his late wife. But Johanna was different.
She didn’t want a better life solely for herself. She was determined to make other people happy, to make life better for those she felt she served, even to the point of leaving the protection of her gilded cage to travel to an area far less than respectable, just to clean up a mess her worthless cousin left behind.
Now, she was faced with the reality that her grandfather, and possibly her own parents, had been murdered. Not only did she have an island to contend with, she now had to figure out who had taken her family from her. She had to discover who it was that had destroyed her life at such a young age, and he was determined to help any way he could.
“What is this?” Johanna asked licking her lips.
Samuel didn’t answer at first, all he could do was stare at that tongue. With a soft clearing of his throat he looked down into his glass.
“It’s a Westerly specialty,” he answered in a husky tone that seemed to vibrate through the room. “It’s pineapple juice, orange juice, and egg, a bit of tequila and a lot of gin.”
“At nine o’clock in the morning?” she asked with a wide-eyed expression.
“It’s nine thirty,” he told her with a smile as he glanced to the wooden clock on the mantle. “Besides, it looked like you could do with a little liquid courage.”
Johanna laughed, and Samuel realized it was the first time he’d actually heard her laugh.
“Thank you. I think I do need something. Perhaps we should call it…nerve tonic. That way we won’t feel like we’re slowly becoming alcoholics.”
“It’s a deal,” he smiled, clinking his glass to hers then taking a sip. “How was your trip down here?” he asked taking her hand and leading her to the sofa.
He could sense her anger with him for not picking her up as he promised, and at first feared she wouldn’t allow him to touch her, but when she didn’t argue, he tightened his grip and continued to hold her hand.
“It was alright,” she answered hesitantly.
“What’s wrong? What happened?”
His tone was filled with concern as he stared into her beautiful eyes, frowning when she looked down to the glass she was holding against her thigh.
“Nothing. It’s just…”
“What?” he asked with a frown.
Johanna didn’t answer for several long moments, then she drew a deep breath and looked up at him.
“I thought you were going to pick me up, not Patrick.”
“I was,” he told her honestly. “But I had work here to do, and I’ve been monopolizing your time. I didn’t want you to feel burdened or overwhelmed.”
They fell into a tense silence as they both continued to sip on their drinks.
“I thought you were going to come back last night,” she told him a few minutes later.
“I did,” he answered. “But after hearing your beautiful music and seeing how content you were at the piano, I decided to let you be. I met Patrick on the way home and ended up going out instead.”
“To a pub near the shoreline. Why?”
He looked into her eyes again, watching closely as she looked down, blushing, then glanced up to him from under her long eyelashes.
“I missed you,” she said in a soft voice, then nervously bit her bottom lip.
Samuel felt his arousal growing again. After what Michael told him, this was probably the closest she had ever come to admitting a desire to be with someone.
“Do you know what it means when you bite your lip?” he asked in a deep, husky tone, watching her shake her head as her lip moved out from between her white teeth. “It means you want me to fuck you,” he whispered with a challenging smile. “If you keep tormenting that soft lip, I’ll be forced to answer your request.”
Taking her glass from her hand and setting it on the table beside his, he turned to her and cupped the side of her head in his large gentle hand. Tipping her face upwards just a breath, he leaned into her, brushing his lips against hers very tenderly. The touch was like the brush of a butterfly’s wings and it made Johanna’s breath catch in her throat.
He slipped the tip of his tongue into her mouth, tenderly touching hers. Together they caressed each other, stirring the embers of the fire between them until it ignited into a bonfire. There was one solid bond that tied them together, and that was their passion.
Gently, he moved her to lay against the arm of the sofa, never breaking the contact of their lips. Stretching out beside her, Samuel wrapped his arms around her, keeping her in his strong embrace as he continued to kiss her lovingly. The heat of the moment grew as his lips moved across her cheek, trailing a hot path of moist kisses to her ear where he paused to lavish the curves in a slow exploration.
Continuing his trek down her throat, he kissed every inch of flesh, fueling the fire to a roaring blaze. Johanna tipped her chin up to allow him to continue his journey across her neck and down to her collarbone. He nipped the delicate flesh with his teeth as he kissed and licked until she was panting.
Instinctively, she lay her leg across his hip, allowing him to move between her thighs. He rolled her onto her back and positioned himself against her in such a way that she could feel the steel heat burning beneath the fabric of his pants. The urge to touch him was overwhelming and she found her fingers tugging at the silky tunic.
Kneeling between her legs, he removed his sword and laid it on the coffee table, then pulled his shirt off over his head. Johanna bit her bottom lip as she ran her fingers down the muscles, smiling as he flinched against her tender touch.
“Don’t do that,” he growled as his hands cupped her breasts through her shirt.
“But you said it meant…” she paused watching him raise an eyebrow in a challenge for her to say it. “Well, you said that’s what it meant,” she finished with a blush.
“And?” he coaxed, moving his hands down her abdomen to the hem of her pullover.
“Well…I’m waiting,” she told him with a wide grin.
“Am I to understand, your Majesty, that you were biting your lip on purpose?”
Johanna gasped, biting her lip again as he moved the bottom of her shirt up her torso, the tips of his fingers tickling the sensitive skin.
“You said if I kept biting my lip, you’d have to answer me. I’d hate to make a liar out of you.”
“Is that a royal command?” he teased moving her shirt up further across her chest, growling under his breath at the new lacy bra, noticing the front closure.
“Absolutely,” she giggled.
Samuel chuckled deep and leaned into her chest, biting the fastener between her cleavage, quickly opening it with a flick of his tongue. He braced his feet on the floor as he removed her boots, trying to get comfortable between her legs. His mouth moved one lacy cup off her firm round breast then the other. He fought to get a better position on the small sofa, readjusting his hips and struggling to find an easy way to accomplish his task.
“This isn’t working,” he snarled under his breath, straightening up on the foot of the sofa.
He stood quickly reaching down and taking her hand in his, pulling her to a sitting position.
“I think it’s time we tried this in that large bed,” he told her, pulling her to her feet.
“Samuel, we can’t,” she argued watching the angry expression on his face.
“Why the hell not?” he barked.
“I have meetings starting in half an hour, and it’s going to take all day.”
“Then why the bloody hell did you let me go this far?”
The angry look deepened in his eyes as the frustration grew inside him.
“Because I was hoping we could do this quickly, then return here when I’ve finished, to try again…maybe a bit longer and a little more…intense.”
“You mean you really do want to fuck?” he asked her with a curious frown, watching the color paint her cheeks and neck. Johanna nodded silently, biting her lip again. “You know it will be hard and fast and urgent?”
“I know, but I’m tougher than I look. I can take it…at least I’m willing to try.”
“Alright,” he said with a wicked grin. “But we can’t do it here. Anyone can walk in on us, and that bloody sofa is too small.”
“But…” she began with a confused expression.
“However,” he continued, wrapping her in his strong embrace. “I think we can still do this in the bedroom. I have a few tricks up my sleeve that may prove…interesting.”
Samuel took her by the hand and walked her into the bedroom, closing the door behind them. Once inside, he pulled her back into his embrace, turning her around so her back was pressed against him as he unfastened her pants. He slipped his hand inside the black material, smiling at the moisture that greeted his fingers.
“Have you finished reading King Edward’s books?” he asked her, walking her to the bed. Johanna didn’t answer, she simply nodded her head. “Have you read his book on sexual positions?” Again, she nodded.
Samuel stopped at the end of the bed, pulling her shirt off over her head, then slipping her bra from her shoulders.
“The king knew that positions aided in determining what provided deeper penetration, deeper contact, and deeper satisfaction for each couple individually.”
He sat on the bed, pulling her between his knees and slipping her pants down her hips.
“He felt that exploration was the soul of sexual stimulation, and while exploring each other’s body, it was a man’s job to take control of the woman.”
“Is that what you want? To dominate me?” she asked catching on to the idea of how he planned on proceeding.
“Damn right,” he growled slapping her bottom and smiling as she yelped. “I’ll offer you a preview of what we’ll be doing later. Just enough to make you want to come back into my arms.”
“What do I do?”
“First, you get out of these,” he told her as he lifted her leg and pulled her boots off, one at a time before tugging her pants down, allowing her to step out of them.
Once she was completely nude, Samuel stood and removed his boots and pants before sitting back on the edge of the bed. He moved her back between his legs with a firm hold on her hips, then turned her around to face the door. He slid his hands down her bottom, slapping one firm cheek before continuing to the back of her thighs. He lifted her in his arms and sat her on his lap, her legs spread wide. His hands moved back to her breasts and began a torturous pinching and twisting of her nipples.
Johanna moaned. His touch was rough, yet gentle enough to assure her he would never hurt her - though she was far from being afraid. She leaned back in his arms, her hands braced on his outer thighs. As he pinched her again, she gripped his muscular thigh. He twisted, and her nails dug in causing him to gasp.
“Careful Sweetheart,” he growled in her ear. “You keep that up and I’ll get the idea you want to get rough.”
“And if I did?” she asked, closing her eyes as he began kissing her neck.
“That’s an event for another time,” he chuckled. “Right now, we need to get busy or you’re going to be late for your meetings.”
Samuel’s hands slid under her bottom. He lifted until she was high enough above his arousal for him to press the hard head against her wet vagina. Holding her above him, he helped balance her on the tip.
Johanna’s moan was short lived as he leaned her forward on his lap, forcing her to brace her hands on his knees. Holding onto her upper arms, Samuel slowly pressed her down the length of him, smiling as she gasped.
“Easy,” he told her in a soft voice.
“It’s too big,” she told him tensing her bottom against the size.
“It will fit. Just relax and take it slow.”
Johanna closed her eyes, trying to do as he instructed, slowly sitting further onto him. She could feel his heat embedding her, encouraging her to continue. Taking her by the hips, he helped ease her down, smiling when she gasped again.
“A little further,” he moaned, unsure exactly how much more he could take before the urge to plunge deeper overcame him.
At last, she was sitting flush with him. Her tight vagina felt fuller than she ever imagined it could. She smiled as she felt his deep twitching inside her. It was a feeling she had never experienced, even the many times they were together over the past weekend. The heat of his body was overwhelming, making her eager to feel the amazing fire of climax, though she wasn’t sure how she’d be able to move against him.
Samuel drew in all the willpower he possessed, fighting not to thrust against her just yet. He wanted to give her a chance to get used to the feeling and the size of him before he began to move, but her tight canal was encasing him inside her like a glove, driving him to the brink of insanity.
Slowly, he began moving as he leaned her back against him again. He massaged one breast in a firm grip, while the other slid down her torso to her moist clitoris. He rubbed the swollen bud until she moaned. Leaning back on his elbows, he began to thrust into her harder. Her body tightened around him each time he slid out as if to hold him in place.
“You are so damn tight,” he groaned. “I love how this feels.”
“Samuel…” she gasped, and he realized he said the only word that could tear their world apart.
“Help me please you,” he told her pretending he didn’t hear the hesitation or fear in her voice. “Give me your hand.”
Johanna did as he told her, moaning as he slipped her fingers between her smooth, wet labia. His hand held hers captive, forcing her to touch and explore her heat with him. It was enough to drive her to the edge of orgasm.
“You do it,” he insisted, allowing her fingers to explore on their own while he placed his hand on her lower abdomen. Gently he pushed each time he thrust into her, causing her to moan deeper and harder.
It took a few deep thrusts before she felt the heat begin to overflow. Her body was responding to her own touch the same as it had to his. She could feel his engorged penis thicken inside her and she smiled. They were both going for gold and she was eager to explore it as much as he was.
“Samuel,” she moaned deeply, her hips gyrating against him as his thrusts began to quicken.
“Make yourself cum,” he ordered.
He began a harder, deeper pounding into her with as much vigor as he could. He could feel her elbow moving as her hand rubbed harder and he knew she was enjoying the touch of her own fingers, and he smiled. He had brought this little shy angel out of her shell and created a woman who longed for the touch of passion.
“Samuel,” she panted, “please help me.”
He laid his hand against hers, moving it rhythmically against her twitching body. He kissed the back of her neck, nipping and sucking the flesh, knowing she was going to be angry later. Her moaning grew louder, and he knew there was one way to make her come hard, but he wasn’t certain if she would be able to withstand it. Tempting her resistance, he bent her forward until she was forced to brace her hands on his knees for support. He filled her to the physical brink with the length of his firm rod, then moved a long finger down to her bottom. He rubbed the tight hole for a few moments, listening to her panting grow deeper.
Very gently, he pressed his middle finger into her, smiling as she gasped and tightened her bottom. Taking advantage of her position, he moved his finger deeper inside her. By the time he was up to his second knuckle she was grinding her hips into him so hard he nearly came, but it was her crying out that beat him to the punch.
Johanna moved against him hard, rocking into him with each deep thrust as he filled her with his own heat. Again, and again they pounded against each other, his finger mimicking the action of his penis. Beads of sweat formed on his face and torso, but he barely noticed as he joined her, filling her with the heat of his climax. Several long thrusts later and they collapsed onto the bed, panting and struggling to fill their lungs with air.
“Tell me, darling,” he whispered in her ear, leaning over her to caress it with the tip of his tongue, “do you like fucking?”
“It was definitely intense,” she smiled.
“It serves a purpose when you’re in a hurry, or you’re so torqued up you can’t think of anything else.”
“It satisfied the cravings quite nicely,” she giggled as he deliberately began nipping her ear in such a way that he tickled her.
“Do you like it better than lovemaking?”
Samuel felt like biting his own lip when she froze against him, twisting enough to try and dislodge his arms.
“Don’t say that word,” she snapped fighting to get out of his embrace.
“What else do I call it?” he demanded, holding her tightly against him as she rolled to her back. “What we normally do is not fucking, it’s not sex or intercourse. I don’t have as wide of a vocabulary as you do, so tell me what else to call it, Johanna.”
She ceased her struggle as she silently considered his comment. She was a book nerd with a wide variety of language skills. She searched her mind but couldn’t come up with a term to fit what they shared. She considered the slang words she’d heard the twins say over the years.
“Shagging,” she said at last. “I’d rather you call it shagging, or even bonding, but not…that.”
“Alright. From now on when I want to…shag you, I’ll just call it bonding. It may be a safe way of telling you how deeply aroused I’m getting without causing anyone to become suspicious.”
“Fine, then we bond. I’ll concede to saying that.”
“Well, your Majesty,” he smiled, kissing her lips briefly, “would you like to bond the right way, or do you still want to wait?”
“As much as I’d like to do it the right way, I’m running short on time,” she told him, pushing out of his embrace and standing. “Maybe once I’ve got the homeowners out of the way, and I’ve met Molly and her Nana for tea, we’ll be able to settle down for a long night of bonding.”
“That sounds good to me,” he smiled sitting up off the bed. “I’m rather fond of forming a bond with you, and I’ll be more than happy to spend an entire night satisfying you.”
“Will you be able to?” she asked reaching for her discarded clothing. “What if anyone needs you? Can you stay here all night?”
“I decided not to share a room with my father, mainly because I was hoping you would want to pay a nocturnal visit, so I don’t have anyone watching over my shoulder. The only thing is that we are both on this floor with you. There may still be a chance one of the guards, or perhaps a maid will see me coming out of here every morning.”
“Samuel,” she said once her pants were back in place. “I’m not ready for anyone to know about us…not yet. I cannot allow my personal…or sexual life to interfere in my work, and I don’t want anyone assuming we’re going to…well…become more serious…more…permanent.”
“Johanna, I haven’t had a woman in my life in five very long years,” he told her, taking her hands in his. “If the press got wind of our…bonding, it would humiliate my father and my ex-in-laws. Spending my nights at a bordello is acceptable but being caught in the arms of the queen…well, it would be awkward to explain. As much as I l…enjoy our bonding, I’m in no hurry to make anything permanent.”
“So, it’s agreed. We’ll keep this a secret, for now at least.”
“Agreed,” he told her, shaking her hand then pulling her into his arms and smacking her bottom hard enough to penetrate her jeans. “We will just have to be content with bonding in secret.”
Johanna sat on the sofa, her computer on the coffee table in front of her, while Samuel went to the main floor to discuss the security for the remainder of the day. She reviewed the list of owners who had lost their properties over the past twenty-four months, frowning at the number of names. Over fifty homes had been foreclosed on and nine businesses. The ones who had lost their properties prior to two years ago were nearly as large. Meeting with each one individually was going to take much longer than she had intended. She had to consider a different course of action.
Samuel returned a few moments later as she struggled to work on her computer on the small table. She had called Mary and asked her to contact all of the owners from both lists and have them meet her at the hotel at eleven thirty. She would have to arrange for a banquet room for the meeting, something large enough to accommodate nearly two hundred people, and she would discuss their options as a unit rather than individually. At least she’d be able to answer the questions she was sure each would have asked a dozen times over if she’d met with them individually.
“What are you doing?” Samuel asked with a frown.
“I’m trying to get some work done,” she grumbled.
“Why aren’t you working in the office?”
“What office?” she asked turning to see him leaning against the back of the sofa behind her.
With a smile, he walked to a door next to the main entrance and opened it. Johanna hadn’t noticed it when she was investigating the suite earlier, and she was proud of her keen perception…until now. She stood and walked into the room, looking around.
Like the rest of the place, the furnishings were rich and elegant with Chippendale style furniture. The desk was a highly polished, rich cherry wood piece. It was much smaller than the one back at the palace, with no drawers, just a surface for her computer, a phone, a small lamp, and a wooden stationary set. Behind it was a thick, dark brown leather office chair with a row of dark wooden bookcases lining the wall, one shelf with a printer, another with a fax machine. In front of the desk were two high back wing chairs of the same matching leather as the desk chair, with the same elegant curved legs as all the furnishings had.
A large window took up nearly the entire wall across from the door, while a credenza stood against the wall opposite the desk. On the wall above it was a mirror, smaller than the one in the living room, but similar in design and style. Two large potted plants stood on white marble pedestals on either side of the credenza. A large round rug sat under the desk and chairs with the same design and pattern as the one in the bedroom. All in all, it was a beautiful office, and one she could easily work in.
Turning back to Samuel she offered him a small, silent smirk, then walked past him.
“I think I’ll work in the office,” she told him, causing him to chuckle as she returned to the living room for her computer. “I’m going to need your help,” she told him as she set her computer on the desk. “I’ve decided to meet with all the property owners at once. Mary is calling them to arrange the time. I’m going to need a banquet room or a conference room, and someplace where I can get some printing done in a hurry.”
“There’s a printing shop down the block,” he told her, taking his phone out of his pocket. “I’ll send one of my guards to get what you need, and I’ll have Patrick secure a room.”
“Perfect,” she told him sitting down at the desk. “I’d like a small luncheon prepared for the meeting. Maybe some sandwiches or perhaps a few pastries and something to drink.”
“I’ll contact the restaurant and get them working on it.”
“If everything goes as planned, I should be able to have the properties returned to their rightful owners by the end of the week, then we can start concentrating on the factories.”
“Have I told you how amazing I think you are?” he smiled then winked at her and walked out of the room, his cell phone against his ear.
Johanna could hear the front door close and she looked back to her computer smiling. This was definitely not the sort of life she had originally anticipated having when Lord Oscar advised her Reginald was dead. She thought about the only thing she would have to do was arrange festivals and greet occasional dignitaries. This was absolutely a better way of life. At least she was busy, and she had…what was Samuel? A friend, a lover…no that wasn’t it at all. The light of truth suddenly shined down on her and she felt a strange tingling, almost panic, set in on her. For the first time in her twenty-years, she had a boyfriend.
Eleven o’clock arrived quickly and Johanna felt the sting of anxiety set in as she looked at her watch. Mary had managed to get in touch with nearly all the property owners instructing them to attend the meeting, leaving messages for a dozen more. The restaurant scrambled to prepare a table of sandwiches, sliced fruit, lettuce and pasta salads, fresh baked chocolate chip cookies, and Westerly’s famous fruit punch. The banquet room had been set up with enough tables and chairs to support each homeowner and one guest, with room to provide more seating if necessary.
Samuel placed a row of guards in front of the hotel and at the main entrance of the room. Their main responsibility was to keep the reporters at bay as the guests began to arrive, steering them away from the barrage of questions. The property owners were escorted into the conference room where they were asked to make themselves comfortable. A podium had been set up next to a table where the booklets the printing shop had miraculously managed to make in less than an hour, would be placed in a few minutes, along with pens and papers for taking notes. A microphone was set in place on the podium with a projector ready for the slides Johanna had made the night before.
All was ready…including a very nervous queen.
At eleven thirty exactly, Patrick and two men set up the booklets on the table along with the pens and paper provided by the hotel, then instructed the guests wandering around the room to be seated. The small luncheon had been enjoyed and the tone of the room was significantly lighter than it had started out.
Johanna opened the side door just a small amount and looked through it, fighting to pull herself under control. She was nervous and feared she would make a fool of herself in front of so many people. Crowds were never her idea of fun, and she hated them even more now that she was the main attraction. She would much rather be a spectator than a participant.
Samuel watched her pace the hall outside the banquet room. She was twitching her hands beside her and chewing on her bottom lip. Her normally tanned complexion looked slightly paler and her chest was rising and falling at a quicker rate than usual. He frowned as he watched her. For a woman who was steady, determined, and always in control, she appeared as timid as a child on the first day of school.
“Hey beautiful,” he said as he walked closer, hoping to help her find the spunk to complete her mission.
Johanna turned and smiled watching the grin that pulled his full lips apart.
“Hello,” she said in a slightly weak voice.
“I’m glad you haven’t gone in yet,” he told her pausing in front of her. “I wanted a chance to tell you how impressed I am that you’re doing all of this. If it were Reginald - or even the Elders - those people would never have a chance to reclaim their property. Some of them have been uprooted from the homes their families have owned for generations. There was no hope for them ever reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs until you took the throne. I’m very proud of everything you’re doing for Westerly. You’re showing the world, and this island, that the name Abbott-Worthington truly is respectable.”
“I’m not sure what to say,” she answered with a small smile. “Thank you.”
“I also wanted to remind you,” he continued as he moved closer, lowering his voice in case anyone could overhear them, “I can’t wait to get you back upstairs. I haven’t finished exploring that body, and I think you’re due for a little exploration as well.”
“What do you mean?” she asked with a soft pink tinting her naturally tanned face.
“After I’ve finished mapping out all the points of interest on your arousing body, I want you to do the same with me. I have a few things I want to teach you…and all of them are naughty.”
“You’re incorrigible,” she giggled causing him to chuckle softly as he moved behind her, speaking close to her ear.
His breath warmed her neck, but he didn’t touch her. He just allowed his words and the images he created inside her mind to do the caressing for him.
“When this is over, I’m going to pick up a special…gift, for you.”
“What kind of gift?” she asked biting her lip again.
“The kind that vibrates and provides hours of stimulating pleasure,” he whispered, turning her to face him and placing his thumb on her chin, gently tugging her lip from between her teeth. “Something that will bring hours of naughty enjoyment to the bedroom.”
Johanna wasn’t sure if she should ask exactly what he meant, but from the look in his eyes, she knew the gift was going to be nearly as naughty as the idea of what he wanted to do when they were alone.
“You need to get this over with,” he growled softly in her ear. “I don’t know how much longer I can wait.”
Johanna giggled again and stepped to the closed door. She realized what he was doing as soon as he walked down the hallway, but she was too enthralled with the visions he was painting with his promises, to stop him. She paused before opening the door and turned, looking across her shoulder to him.
“Thank you,” she told him in a soft voice.
Samuel didn’t answer. He merely smiled and winked, watching her open the door and step into the room. She may have been nervous, but she was still the most impressive woman he’d ever known. He followed her through the door, securing it behind them, feeling a bit solemn. If only he could tell her he was falling in love with her, perhaps they could explore the feelings a bit more seriously.
The future looked uncertain for both of them, as long as they were unable to discuss their feelings openly. For now, he would have to be content letting her think he was simply addicted to her body. With a small smile, he moved into position, providing the tight security his queen needed. His passionate obsession with her exquisite figure was one fact, he would never deny. It was an excuse he would gladly use in order to have her tucked up against him. Their bonding was going to be the one way he would make her feel the love he wasn’t allowed to speak.
“Queen Johanna arrived in Northern Shores today in what started out as any other visit, but quickly escalated into a whirlwind of activities,” the woman on the television said. “She arrived shortly after seven o’clock to an explosive welcome of over six hundred spectators. Uriel Palmer has this report.”
The screen moved from the attractive young blonde to the video footage of Johanna’s plane landing and then to her stepping out onto the stairs, waving at the crowd.
“The young queen seems to bring a sense of excitement wherever she goes, and age has no boundaries, as one young fan learned this morning at Northern Lights,” a deep male voice said as the screen showed Johanna kneeling beside little Molly, accepting the flowers she had brought for her. “People are calling Johanna the People’s Queen, and for good reason it seems. She not only tried to make two fans warm by offering her own coat and gloves to them, but when she learned the crowd outside the hotel had been waiting for hours, some as long as overnight, she ordered a hot breakfast be served to them, despite the objections of the hotel’s General Manager, Nelson Blankenship.”
Johanna watched from the comfort of the sofa as the entire exchange between herself and the manager played out on the evening news. She felt ashamed for degrading the man in public and made a mental note to apologize to him the next time she saw him.
“As if that wasn’t enough for one day,” the voice continued, “the queen then met with over two hundred Northern Shores’ residents who have lost their properties due to foreclosure or bankruptcy in the past two years. She offered each of them a remarkable deal that has left everyone’s jaws flapping.”
Johanna heard enough and flipped the channel, finding two additional stations also reporting on her day’s activities. Every detail of the deal she and the bank had made was reported on all three channels, along with a number of interviews and comments from those who were benefiting from her hard work.
The general opinion was favorable, though interviews with the former Elders were mixed. Lord Reading of Timber Pines supported the queen’s actions, as did both of the other previous Elders, Lord Jackson of Red Bluff and Lord Michaels of Oak Port, but Lord Sorensen of West Hollow and Reginald’s assistant, Lord Oscar, rejected the plan audibly. It was obvious there was no love lost between Johanna and Sorensen, as the reporter stated, with Oscar standing on the side of caution. Lord Sorensen insisted that he believed Johanna was leading the island into an unnecessary recession that it may never recover from, and Oscar merely stated, “we’ll have to wait to see what happens”.
Sorensen’s comments led into a brief interview with a professor of finance from Westerly University. He stated that lowering the taxes was a step in the right direction to allow the island to recover from many years of depression and hardship. The expert also mentioned that Johanna’s growing popularity would provide a long overdue strength for the future. Because of her new reputation for getting things done, he was optimistic that all would work out well for the Islanders.
The interviews continued with comments from many citizens from different locations around Westerly. As for the people she represented, they were eager for change and backed Johanna without hesitation or reservation. Business owners around the island were encouraged by the recent reduction of taxes, as people were beginning to spend money again. The Head Mistresses of two bordellos praised her on behalf of their ladies for her logical reaction to the backlash she received when she dismissed the Elders.
“It looks like you’re a big hit,” Samuel told her as he moved from behind the bar to the living room where Johanna sat watching the news. “Nora just texted me and said her webpage is going crazy with comments from supporters, not just from Westerly, but from many other countries around the world. Everyone is asking why their governments don’t adopt a similar plan of bailing out failing businesses and struggling homeowners.”
“I didn’t do this in an attempt to change the world,” Johanna grumbled as she accepted the wine he handed her.
“I know that, but it doesn’t stop the fact people are going to be watching Westerly very closely for the next few years. As for me, I am going to be watching you very closely.”
He smiled as she blushed, taking the remote from her fingers and flipping through the channels to find something else to watch.
“You never told me how your tea went with Molly and her grandmother.”
“Molly is a sweetheart,” she told him with a smile. “Did you know the Summerhays were once the leaders of this region? It was about a hundred and fifty years ago, but for a brief twenty years, her ancestor was the leader. When he died, his young bride couldn’t hold the region on her own. She lost the manor and the title.”
“That’s rather unfortunate, but not completely unexpected,” Samuel told her. “Women were controlled by the male population, even worse than they are today. If the region didn’t have a man to hold it together, then the people would look for someone who did.”
“Were you aware Molly’s father was working in Australia to support the family? He couldn’t find work here, in his own country. She hasn’t seen her father in over a year, and her mother died when she was two. She only has her grandmother.”
“From what I’ve learned about Northern Shores, I can see where that was necessary. It’s unfortunate, but until the factories are up and running, I can’t see where there’s much you can do about it.”
“I could give the leadership to him,” Johanna said, staring at the man from under her long lashes. “The estate is large enough to raise cattle or horses. Mrs. Summerhays said her son has experience in management. I had Mary contact the plant where he’s been working, and they have only good things to say about him. If they were in the need of a manager, they would have promoted him long ago.”
“And the factories should be up and running in the next few weeks,” Samuel said with a knowing smile.
“I was thinking more about putting him in charge of all the factories. I need someone who can oversee the daily operations, and report to me. I could arrange an assistant to help him with the books, and a salary to reflect his position.”
“Something substantial I assume,” Samuel smiled.
“With the available allowances, the manor could be repaired in a very short time, and ready to move into.”
“But would he be willing to come back?” Samuel asked, taking a drink from his glass.
“I can find out easily enough,” Johanna said, taking her phone from her pocket, and dialing a number as she took a drink from her own glass.
“Mary, it’s Johanna,” she began. “I need you to make a phone call.”
Samuel smiled, listening to the woman. If there was one thing he could say he admired most about the beautiful young queen, it was her determination to get things done. She wasn’t willing to sit around, and hope things would change. She embraced the challenges head-on, and never looked back.
“I thought your father was going to stop by today and give me a report on the factories,” Johanna said.
She pulled her bare feet up to the sofa, then leaned against his chest as he reached a large arm around her shoulders.
“I think he’s still planning on it,” Samuel answered finding some mindless comedy to settle the television on. “I saw him when the evening guard took over. He has a crew working on a few of the really bad homes. There’s an apartment complex near the edge of town that is run down. Twenty- six families live there, all of them very impoverished.”
“I can’t believe things are this bad,” she said sadly. “Whenever I thought of Westerly, I imagined the island I knew as a child. I would never have thought it could be like this.”
“It won’t be in a few months,” he assured her, kissing the top of her head and stretching his feet out to rest on the coffee table. “Everyone just needs to give you a chance and have faith in your plan. I know I do.”
“I think you are prejudice,” she smiled, hoping to get past the feelings of despair that were embracing her.
“You know it,” he told her taking a drink from the glass in his hand.
“So…what are the plans for tonight?” she asked with a knowing smile when he began caressing her breast with the hand he held around her shoulders.
“I already told you,” he answered, moving his hand under the neck of her tank top so he had a more intimate contact with her body. “We’re going to spend the rest of the night exploring each other.”
“I thought you were going to get me a special gift for tonight?”
“I wanted to, but…” he paused, unsure if he wanted to tell her about the other businesses that had been closed down.
“What is it?” she asked looking up into his blue eyes.
“What I wanted to get you is a common product the bordellos carry.”
“I see,” she said, unsure how to respond. “So, what’s the problem?”
“There aren’t any in Northern Shores.”
“You mean they don’t carry…what was it you were going to get?”
“A vibrator,” he told her, “and the bordellos do carry the item, it’s just that there are no bordellos in Northern Shores. The closest one is fifty miles away in Greenville.”
“You mean there are no bordellos…at all?” she asked sitting up next to him, dislodging his hand from inside her shirt. He shook his head silently, causing her to frown. “I thought every Region had at least two.”
“They do, and there were four here up until a few years ago. They were forced to close, and the ladies moved from Northern Shores to find positions at other homes. The bordellos fell under disrepair, and with the throne increasing their taxes and denying them financial backing, they couldn’t afford to maintain the properties. It’s always been the throne’s duty to improve and update the homes, ever since King Ian began building them. Reginald only provided money for the homes he frequented, and the last one here closed three years ago.”
“I can’t believe it,” she snapped angrily, setting her glass on the table and standing up from the sofa. “It’s no wonder there’s so much crime. I’m surprised it isn’t worse.”
“It is,” he said softly, standing and walking to her. He took her hands and leaned against the arm of the sofa. “Out of the fourteen schools, only six are still in operation, and they are barely halfway filled.”
Johanna didn’t say anything for a long time. She just stood staring into space. She knew the schools were struggling to keep students, but she had no clue so many of the young were being denied an education because of the economy. It was a fact she was going to have to confront, sooner or later.
“Samuel,” she said softly, “what am I going to do?”
Samuel reached up and caressed her cheek with his thumb, then cupped the side of her head in his large hand. He wanted to take away all of her pain, to provide for her the island she had dreamed of, but reality was something that had to be faced. Northern Shores was a lot worse than anyone knew.
“Tonight, you’re going to allow me the opportunity to provide you with multiple, amazing, orgasms, then you’re going to fall asleep in my arms. Tomorrow when you wake up, we’ll attack one item at a time until your agenda is clear, and the Region is back in order. Then we’ll move to the next one and start all over again.”
“I think you have more confidence in me than what I deserve,” she said in a weak voice that pulled at his heart.
Samuel eased her between his knees and wrapped her in his strong embrace, kissing her with as much tenderness and passion as he could offer her. He wanted to give her his strength to carry on and to face each day with the courage and determination he knew she had inside her.
Slowly, his desires began to change, and he turned his attention to his plans of seduction. His hands slid down her back to her buttocks, cupping and squeezing them until she moaned. Just as the idea to carry her into the bedroom seeped into her lust filled mind, a knock sounded at the door and Lord Carrington stepped in. He paused in mid-step as his eyes settled on the sight of his eldest son and the queen in a very compromising situation.
Walter didn’t say anything, he just stood there for several long seconds until the couple broke contact and turned to see him watching them. The three stared at each other with wide eyed shock until the older man cleared his throat. With an expression of disapproval, he left the room, and the young couple, closing the door behind him.
Samuel knocked on the door, then stepped into the room to find his father sitting at the small table, a notepad in front of him, a pen in his hand. He didn’t look up as his son joined him, pulling a chair out and sitting across from him. For several long moments, they sat there in awkward silence. Samuel looked around the room, hoping to keep his mind clear of the anger he knew was about to engulf the confines.
The room was elegant enough and large with a living room, dining room, two bedrooms, and a shared bathroom. It was furnished in a comfortable design of Chippendale furniture like the Royal Suite, only not as much or as elegant as the room Johanna was calling home for the next few weeks.
“Are you planning on ignoring me the rest of my life?” Samuel asked, repeating the words Kevin would say whenever their mother would give him the silent treatment.
“What would you have me say?” he asked his son, still looking at the paper in front of him.
“I know what you think, Father,” Samuel told him, trying to keep his anger in check. “But what Johanna and I feel for each other is…special.”
He paused for a few moments, then stood and went to the bar, pouring a glass of brandy.
“I thought you’d be happy that I’m finally moving on with my life,” he continued. “Isn’t that what you and Mother have been telling me to do the past five years? Melinda and Jason are gone. It’s time to find a decent woman to build a life with,” he said, mimicking the long-argued sentiment. “Well, you can’t ask for a more decent woman than Johanna.”
“I know that,” Walter said quietly.
“So why are you upset?”
“Actually, son, I’m not,” the older man said, sitting back in his seat. “Oh, I’m shocked that I found you in that situation, and I’m glad you’re wanting to start living again. You’re still young, and you’ve always had a great deal to offer a woman.”
“What am I missing here?” Samuel asked with a curious frown as he returned to the table.
“Johanna is a wonderful girl,” Walter continued. “She’s intelligent and beautiful, and she’s the daughter of one of my best friends. If I had to ask for a daughter-in-law, I would definitely want her for one.”
“But…” Samuel asked, hearing the hesitancy in his voice.
“She’s the queen, Samuel, not some local girl you can seduce and play with. She’s the bloody queen!”
“Don’t you think I know that? I want to be with Johanna more than I ever have with another woman, and if I had my choice, she’d be nothing more than your old friend’s daughter, but she’s not.”
Samuel stood up and began pacing the room as he spoke, venting the frustrations he had been feeling the past few weeks.
“When we’re apart, all I can do is think about her. I dream about her, I hunger for her. I’d do anything to be with her, and then when we are together, I’d do anything to stop time, so I wouldn’t have to leave her. Father, I have never felt like this about a woman, and it scares the hell out of me.”
“I don’t know how far I can take this relationship with her. At any time, she can order me out of her life and I’d have no choice but to obey. There’s always the chance I could lose her because of her own fears. Johanna has a lot of hang-ups. You heard what Alissa and Martin said. She’s got this ridiculous idea that she can’t feel emotional for anyone because if she does they’ll die.”
“What are you going to do?” Walter asked him, watching his son pace the floor.
“The only thing I can do is stay close by and try to convince her she’s not a jinx.”
“Are you having sex with her?” Walter asked boldly, causing Samuel to look at his father with a serious expression.
“Yes,” he answered honestly.
“Do you understand what you’ve done?” Walter asked in a quiet voice.
“I’ve seduced the queen and stolen her virginity away from any man she may choose to be her husband. Yeah, I know what I’ve done.” Samuel sat back down at the table, running his hands through his hair. “I hate the idea that another man may one day be touching her,” he continued. “And I know I’m not the kind of man she needs.”
“So why are you with her?”
“Because I can’t leave her,” he said in a loud, bitter voice. “As much as I know I have to, I can’t do it. That woman has worked her way into my heart and I’m too weak to resist her.”
“Then quit fighting it,” Walter said in a fatherly tone. “Let nature take its course and fate will decide what the future holds for you both. If your destiny isn’t meant to be together, then you won’t be.”
“That’s a lot easier said than done, Father,” Samuel answered.
Samuel looked at his father with an expression as serious as the one he had when he told them his baby was dead - murdered by the greed and conceit of his own mother. With a deep breath, he looked back at his drink, lifting it and swallowing the entire contents in one mouthful.
“Because I’m in love with her.”
Johanna retired to her temporary office and tried to concentrate on her files and the numbers in front of her. She pulled up the internet and began researching the coordinates and information Reginald had been working on, though focusing on the information was difficult. Her mind kept wandering back to Samuel and his father. She saw the shocked expression on the older man’s face and knew they’d been caught in something that could easily become her downfall, but how was she expected to stop it? She needed Samuel, she hungered for him. Her body craved his touch, her heart was full when he was with her…almost as much as her body was when they bonded.
As the clock struck twelve, she knew he wasn’t going to return to her. She knew he had a mess to straighten out with his father, and there was nothing she could do to help. Oh sure, she was the queen. Big damn deal, she thought. It wasn’t like she could order Lord Carrington to ignore what he had seen and to stay out of what his son and she had together. She knew Samuel would have no choice but to respect his father’s wishes, even if it meant she’d never feel his touch again.
Johanna went into the bathroom and quickly showered. She washed her hair and shaved, paying special attention to the area Samuel loved so much, then stepped out and dried off. She pulled her hair into a thick braid and brushed her teeth, then slipped into a clean pair of shorts and tank top before returning to the bedroom.
The bed looked extremely large and much colder than it had a while ago when Samuel suggested they share it together. Without his arms around her, it was just a mattress and a set of sheets.
She pulled all but one pillow away from the headboard, tossing them to the floor at the foot of the bed, then pulled the comforter back. She slipped between the cold white sheets and shut off the bedside lamp. Perhaps tomorrow she’d find enough courage to speak with Lord Carrington in support of the man she…no, she thought angrily. She would not allow that word to interfere with her feelings for Samuel. The sentiment was a waste of time and a ridiculous emotion reserved for poets and fools.
Punching her pillow, she rolled onto her side toward the balcony window and closed her eyes. She would never admit to having feelings for the man, other than sexual and physical. He was a body - a strong, handsome, powerful body - and that was it. She enjoyed the way he touched her, and the way they bonded. Other than that, there was nothing but friendship between them. That’s how it started, and that was how it would end.