Samuel stepped into the room quietly and tried to focus his eyes in the darkness. After speaking with his father, he went to get a drink and ran into Patrick. They talked for over an hour, and afterwards, he was feeling much calmer and more confident than when he left his father. Patrick was his best friend and knew him better than anyone. When he saw how distressed Samuel looked, he decided to let him talk. After he spilled his guts to him and had another drink, he was more receptive for what Patrick had to tell him.
It didn’t matter if love was a part of her vocabulary or not, the way they were able to express their feelings through their body language was all that was needed. Patrick told him words were just words, they really didn’t mean anything. People were always throwing around the L word and never meant it. But to truly feel like one unity, one soul the way they did when they were in each other’s arms, that was the real way to express and experience the emotion.
Samuel ordered the floor to be secured, then instructed his guard to walk the halls on each level in order to prevent anyone from coming up to the Royal Suites. Once his men were busy elsewhere, he slipped quietly back into Johanna’s room, closing and locking the door behind him.
The light in the office was still on, and her computer was open which meant she had been working while he was gone. Their glasses had been moved to the bar with those from that morning, waiting to be replaced when the maid came to clean the room. He shut off the lights behind him, as he quietly made his way into the bedroom. He stopped long enough to remove his boots and set them outside the bedroom door, then continued his journey. It was so dark, he could barely see his hand in front of his face, and silently he cursed the thick backing behind the sheer drapery that held back the night’s bright stars.
Cautiously, moving in the direction he remembered the bed being, he began unzipping and lowering his pants. Then he did a strange dance-like step as he stumbled over a round object, then stepped on something soft and tripped over something firm and square. He fell to the floor with a loud thump, cursing under his breath. Before he could manage to get off the floor, Johanna was on top of him, pinning his large arm behind his back in a steel vice-like grip, her knee thrust into his spine.
“What the hell?” he snapped angrily, hearing Johanna’s sharp inhale.
“Samuel?” she asked in surprise then released him.
She stood up and flipped on the ceiling light, blinking her eyes repeatedly against the sharp contrast to the darkness.
Johanna exploded in a sudden laughter, seeing Samuel spread out across the floor, his legs tangled in the pile of pillows, his pants around his knees. He looked shocked, angry and confused and she nearly fell to her knees laughing.
Samuel just stared at her, but he wasn’t sure what shocked him more. The pillows he’d fallen across, the fact Johanna had pinned him painfully and easily to the floor, or that she was laughing so hard she was crying. He hadn’t heard that laugh but once before and like then, he would do anything to hear more of it.
“I’m…so…sorry,” she gasped, her arms wrapped around her waist as she tried to control herself.
“If you’ve finished, could you give me a hand?” he asked feigning irritation.
Johanna wiped her eyes and sniffed, reaching a hand out for him to take. Samuel reached up and in a quick jerk, pulled her down beside him to his makeshift bed of pillows. He began tickling her sides, making her squirm and squeal in an attempt to escape.
“Laugh at me, will you,” he said, pinning her to the floor as he moved on top of her, sitting across her hips.
“Stop!” she shouted between giggles while she tried to push him off her.
“Tell me you’re sorry for booby-trapping the bedroom.”
He couldn’t help but smile, chuckling with her as she continued to struggle beneath him.
“I didn’t…do it…on purpose!” she screamed at him, her hips bucking upwards to dislodge his weight.
“Then why did you put them in front of the door?” he asked, stopping his fingers from tickling, allowing her to regain her composure.
“I just tossed them off the bed,” she panted, wiping the tears from her eyes again. “I didn’t pay attention to where they landed.”
“It could have been disastrous. I could have fallen onto the bed and flattened you like a pancake.”
“I’ve had your weight on me before,” she smiled.
“That was for pleasure, and that was never my full weight.”
“I think I can handle it,” she giggled.
“Why didn’t you leave a light on for me?” he asked, tugging his pants off and helping her up from the floor.
“I didn’t think you were coming back. I thought your father had talked you out of seeing me again.”
“I’m an adult, Johanna,” he assured her as he sat on the edge of the bed, pulling her down to sit on his knees.
“I’m aware of that, but he’s your father and I know you’d never do anything against him.”
“That’s true, but if it comes down to him or you, I’ll choose you every time.”
He saw the confusion on her face and understood that if the time came, she would never allow her own desires to stand between him and his family.
“Besides,” he continued, caressing her outer leg from knee to thigh, “my father likes you a lot. He isn’t going to stand in our way. He just warned us to be careful when it comes to the public display of emotion.”
“Like that’s going to happen,” she smiled, slipping her arms around his neck. “It’s impossible to get out of the bedroom whenever you’re around. Being in public is going to be the only rest I’ll get. It’ll be like a holiday.”
“Speaking of bedrooms and rest,” he asked with a wicked grin, “are you tired, or do you think you could be persuaded to indulge in a little…nocturnal entertainment?”
Johanna’s smile was all the answer he needed, and he stood, gathering her in his strong arms, then turned her and laid her across the mattress before stretching out next to her. He kissed her gently as his fingers moved down to caress her bottom beneath her shorts. The heat he had felt when he had her penned to the floor was quickly becoming an urgent demand. She had a way of making him forget the world outside her arms, but it was far from being a sorrowful place to be.
“Do you know how beautiful you are?” he asked as his lips trailed across her cheek to her neck.
“Yes,” she answered in a soft pant causing him to raise his head and frown into her flushed face. “I know I’m attractive, and I know men find me desirable,” she continued. “If I tried to deny that, I’d be a liar, but that doesn’t mean I have to feel the same way. Just because I happen to be pretty isn’t an excuse to flaunt my looks or try to attract the opposite sex into my bed.”
“Honesty has never been one of your failings,” he chuckled. “Just know that with looks like yours, you can easily tame a savage beast.”
“Are you tamed?” she smiled as he rolled her onto her back and slipped his hand beneath the waistband of her pajama shorts.
“Tamed, perhaps, but never restrained. Once a beast tastes the sweet nectar of forbidden fruit, there’s nothing he wouldn’t do to satisfy his hunger for it.”
“So, I’m forbidden fruit?”
“Very much so,” he smiled moving his hand further down into her clothing. “Sweet, juicy, delicious…but very forbidden. That makes the effort all the more tempting.”
Johanna looked at him with a smile that said she didn’t believe a word of what he was saying, but she was far from being willing to cause an argument. There were much more pleasurable things to do than fight with the man whose fingers were waking her passion.
She closed her eyes and moaned as his fingers slipped into her shorts, feeling the hot silky moisture covering her smooth labia.
“You shaved,” he whispered, moving his lips to her ear. “Next time, I want to watch you do it.”
“Why?” she asked tipping her head back.
“Because I want to watch you touch yourself. I want to see you please yourself.”
“I don’t please myself with a razor in my hand,” she insisted, causing him to chuckle.
“But do you please yourself?” he asked leaning back, so he was staring at her. “Have you ever touched your own body?”
“No, not really, but I’ve never had these feelings before either.”
“Do you think you could do it now?”
“I don’t know. I’m not sure what to do.”
“If I help you, will you let me watch?”
“Yes,” she smiled, certain her face was going to look sunburned in the morning.
“I’m going to teach you how to use your fingers, and later after I’ve gotten a vibrator for you, I’m going to teach you how to use it, then I’m going to sit back and watch you satisfy yourself.”
“Are you going to let me watch you?”
“Do you want to?”
Johanna nodded, smiling as he laughed and moved off the bed, hitching his fingers around the waistband of her shorts and pulled them off her long legs. He growled when he saw her white panties, then narrowed his eyes to her.
“How much do you like these?” he asked with a wicked grin.
“My knickers?” she asked with a frown. “It’s just underwear. I have a lot of them.”
With a deep chuckle, he wrapped his large hands around the thin material and pulled. Johanna’s eyes widened, her breath catching in her throat when she felt the air of the room against her skin as the fabric ripped. He laughed openly at her expression, tossing the material aside before climbing back up on the bed.
“That was unnecessary,” she scolded.
“I will tear every barrier down that separates me from this amazing body,” he assured her, spreading her legs with his knees as he sat between them.
Without another word, Samuel slipped his middle finger deep into her vagina, in a smooth, gentle thrust.
“You are a very unique woman,” he assured her, slowly moving his long finger in and out of her. “Only in the bordello have I ever known a woman who will do what I’m asking you to do.”
“Are you saying I belong in a bordello?” she frowned, unsure exactly which feeling to pay attention to first. The one his finger was causing on her lower body, or the one of concern for his insult.
“Only as a guest, darling, and only if I’m with you,” he assured her as he moved a second finger inside her. “We can go any time you desire. I’ll even hire an instructor to teach you how to behave.”
“You mean how to submit to a man.”
“Yes. You submit to me and satisfy me, and I make you cum more times than you’ll be able to count.”
“That sounds interesting,” she said as he removed his fingers and wrapped them around her hand.
“It is definitely interesting,” he assured her. “And I can promise, you’ll enjoy what happens to you.”
Johanna could feel the heat return to her face when he moved her hand between her legs, resting it against the smooth apex. Watching her closely, he laid his hand against hers, moving her palm further down until it was resting against the moist opening of her vagina. With gentle pressure, he pressed her middle finger into her wet hole.
“Perhaps we should arrange a time to visit one,” she smiled, bending her leg and leaning up on her elbow so she could more easily reach the lower half of her body.
“Any time, any day,” he growled as his eyes traveled down to her fingers. “I want you to move up against the headboard,” he ordered and watched as she scooted backward until she was reclining against the pillow. “We’re going to teach you the art of stimulation. While you’re playing with your pussy, I want you to squeeze your breasts and pinch your nipples. Do what I’ve done. Pretend it’s my hands teasing you.”
Johanna did as he said, watching as he stretched out again. He lifted one of her long legs and placed it over his firm hips. His warm hand gently caressed her calf as his eyes drank in every inch of her, watching with heightened interest as she continued to play with herself.
Samuel was enjoying the show, feeling his own passion begin to grow as his penis twitched against his thigh. He watched her for several long moments, smiling as a soft moan escaped her throat, her eyes closing and head resting back against the thick padding behind her. He enjoyed watching women satisfy themselves. It aided in stimulating the heat of the moment, but nothing was as pleasurable for him as this.
Several moments passed before he noticed the change in her breathing, and he knew she was about to find her release. But he wasn’t finished with her yet. Reaching between her legs, he took her hand and pressed her fingers gently against her clitoris. After a moment of silent instruction, he released her finger and watched as she continued the firm caress against the swollen, pink bud. Her breathing deepened to an audible pant as he continued to watch, but as the seconds ticked by, he found his desire growing.
Shifting his position, he moved between her legs, kissing his way up her thighs until he reached her wet fingers. Taking them into his mouth, he sucked and licked, smiling as her hips began to move against the duvet. Pulling her fingers gently from between his lips, he lowered his head, allowing his tongue to replace her actions. With a loud moan, Johanna moved her hand into his hair, pressing him closer to her as his tongue caressed her wet body, his finger moving into her vagina with a hard, rough thrust. It took less than a heartbeat before she arched her back, crying out her release.
Before she had a chance to come down from her heightened level of pleasure, Samuel pulled her down to lay on the mattress and stretched out above her, pressing against her as he thrust his penis into her, hard and fast. They were hot and sweaty, yet neither noticed. The maddening demand for release overwhelmed them as they struggled to breathe. Johanna felt his arousal harden inside her and she knew he was nearly spent, but it wasn’t until he rolled to his back in a surprising movement that had her clinging to his arms.
He pushed her to a sitting position across the hard length of him as she ground her hips against him, growling savagely while her body convulsed around the hard shaft. Instantly, he joined her, filling her with the heat of his release. He held her by the hips and forced her to absorb the full length of him inside her tight womanhood while the last heartbeat of their climax pulsated between them.
A moment later, Johanna fell across his chest, panting and gasping for air as he wrapped her in his strong embrace. It seemed to her, every time they…bonded…it was more intense and much hotter than anything they’d ever shared. It was the one thing that made desire and passion such a unique, primal urgency.
Several moments passed before Samuel rolled her onto her side, smiling as she yawned. He kissed her very gently then stood and walked to the light switch on the wall. He picked up one large, firm pillow and kicked the rest out of his way, before reaching for the switch that encased the room in darkness again.
That night Johanna slept contently in the arms of the man she had waited a lifetime for. A man her heart begged for. As she drifted to sleep she heard the sweet sounds of a whisper that wrapped her into a warm cocoon. The words she would normally run from seemed to bring her a comfort she had never known, and in her quiet slumber, she smiled.
“I love you,” Samuel whispered, half expecting her to fight him. In her sleep, she responded in a way neither of them expected.
“I love you too.”
The following three weeks proved to be hectic and rushed as Johanna addressed her plans to reopen the factories with the workers who had lost their jobs. Like the first day she was here, booklets outlining her plans had been printed, the banquet room set up and food available to those who attended. The promises she made went over well, and people were beginning to have hope for their futures.
After the morning meeting, Johanna arranged to meet with the school district to discuss the truancy issue. She was aware that many students were forced to quit school to help make enough money to support their families, while others quit just because they were tired of going. The problem was growing worse with each day. Two gangs had been organized and kids of all ages were joining. Turf wars were beginning to take place, and people were afraid to leave their homes. It was something Johanna had witnessed all over the world, and frankly, she was tired of it.
Patrick worked with more than a hundred of the Royal guard to bring order to the Region. They had been confronted only once by one of the gangs who insisted they were in control of Northern Shores, only to learn the guard had no tolerance or patience for stupidity. After that, the gangs avoided the guard at all costs.
Word spread quickly that Johanna would not tolerate any insubordination from minors and that all school age children were to report to school the next day. As for those families in need of the child in order to afford a living, they were to file a report directly to the queen, who would review each case individually. By noon, twenty requests had been submitted.
Walter sat in the living room of the Royal suite, patiently waiting for Johanna to approve the list he made of additional supplies necessary for finishing the first factory. Based on his estimates, the factory that made marital toys would be up and ready for business by week’s end. All they needed were orders.
“I’m impressed,” Johanna told the older man honestly. “Mary will contact the marketing team and get the orders ready to be filled, and I’ll talk to the former workers to see who needs a job. As for this list, I’ll support any materials necessary to get this finished. The mechanics told me a little while ago, all but one machine is being repaired. That one will need to be replaced, so I’ve approved the purchase of a new one.”
“When was the last time you took a break?” Walter asked once she handed the report back to the man.
Johanna frowned as she watched him, seeing an almost fatherly concern on his face.
“Don’t worry about me,” she answered after a few moments. “I’m not overloading myself and I’m not going to burn out. I’m used to a very strenuous life with loads of responsibility. I’ve been managing my grandfather’s businesses since I was eight. If I can turn a failing business into a profitable one in less than twelve months, just imagine what I can do with an entire island.”
Walter chuckled at the expression on the queen’s lovely face, watching the smile that seemed to light up her eyes. Johanna reached for the coffee pot in front of her but found her hand retrieved and held in his warm grip.
“I’m worried about you, Johanna,” he said in a soft voice. “I know you can handle the job, but I don’t want you getting old before your time. I’ve spoken with Samuel, and I know how serious your relationship is. I’m concerned about both of you. You’ve been working nonstop since you came to the island. Please take my advice and take a few hours off. Maybe go to dinner or take in a movie. Do something young people like to do.”
“That sounds like a brilliant idea,” Samuel said, joining them.
He had come in unseen by either of the two and listened to his father’s advice. He knew Johanna was strong enough to handle the stress, but he wasn’t so sure about himself. He wasn’t used to the amount of pressure that went along with Johanna’s job. About the only relaxation, either of them got was when they were in bed, and that was only after a serious session of heated shagging.
“I appreciate your concern, both of you, but it really isn’t necessary. Once the factories are reopened, and people are back to work, I’ll take a few hours off. Until then, there’s too much to do.”
“Johanna, listen to Father,” Samuel insisted as he knelt down in front of her. “You’re exhausted. You barely sleep more than four or five hours a night, and that isn’t very restful.”
“That has a lot to do with you,” she said in a hushed tone that brought a smile to Samuel’s lips while Walter cleared his throat.
“Patrick told me the hotel has a nightclub. What if we take some time off and visit it after supper? We can work like maniacs until then, and after a bit of dancing and a couple of drinks, we can start again tomorrow, perhaps a bit more refreshed.”
“I have never been to a nightclub,” she said with a feeling of temptation. “But I’ve never taken time off, as you put it. I’m…really not sure how to do it.”
“Then I’ll show you,” he smiled. “I’m a very good instructor.”
Johanna blushed as she fought the giggle that threatened her composure.
“If you promise to work hard the rest of the day, I’ll promise to take some time off,” she agreed.
“It’s a deal,” Samuel said, leaning into her and kissing her lips tenderly. “In the spirit of that, I think I might have an idea on how to bring the Bordellos back to Northern Shores.”
“How?” Johanna asked.
She had been trying to figure out a way of reintroducing the Ladies to the community but had yet to come up with a sensible plan.
“I know Blankenship will likely have a nervous breakdown, but what if we take over a floor of the hotel? I’m sure Father’s men can rebuild the homes, but it will take time and until then, we’re stuck with young men having to deal with their frustrations the best way they know how, which usually means the affections of an innocent girl, willing or not.”
“The Ladies can bring order back to the Region rather quickly,” Walter said. “Look what they did the first time they were introduced to Westerly.”
“They can reintroduce the lessons and provide additional aid to the rest of the community,” Johanna said as if thinking out loud.
“Exactly,” Samuel said, moving to sit next to her on the sofa.
“But where do we find the Ladies? The Bordellos aren’t exactly overflowing with workers.”
“We can call the Head Mistresses of the homes and ask for volunteers,” Samuel suggested. “There are forty-nine rooms on every floor, except this one. All the rooms are larger than the normal hotel, so the ladies can work out of them easily. We can use an additional floor for their private quarters.”
“I’ll set up a fund for all the boys, so nobody will be turned away, regardless of the ability to pay,” Johanna added. “I can do what Edward did, and provide the monetary means for everyone until the Region is functioning again.”
“It’s worth a try,” Samuel said. “I can have A.J. spread the word among the young men, and we can inform the school board as well.”
“I’ll have Mary contact the Bordellos, and I’ll send the plane to pick them up. I’ll set up a press conference for tomorrow and explain what’s going to happen.”
“Let’s get busy,” Samuel said as they stood up and walked together to the door.
Walter paused and with an arm around Johanna’s shoulder he chuckled.
“Blankenship is going to shit a brick.”
Johanna stood in front of the mirror staring at the image looking back at her. She felt as nervous as usual, and she couldn’t understand why she ever agreed to this in the first place. She felt ridiculous and stupid in the short sapphire blue skirt and white satin blouse, and she was actually in high heels. She had just a hint of makeup, and her long hair was pulled up into a ponytail at the crown of her head.
With a single phone call to Mary and an innocent mention of the nightclub, Johanna found a box with the clothes and shoes waiting for her when she returned to the hotel. Now, she was forced to concede and keep her agreement with Samuel.
Leaving the bathroom, she walked on semi-wobbly legs into the living room. Glancing to the clock, she realized she had an important phone call to make. She hadn’t had a chance to think of anything outside of Northern Shores, nearly a month ago, but she promised herself to complete another task before leaving the security of her hotel room. Moving into the office, she dialed the number to Ward Carson in England, putting it on speaker phone so she could review her itinerary for the following day. She waited as the phone rang, feeling anxious and a little frightened.
This man may have the answers to the mysteries behind Reginald’s journal, then again, he may not have anything to say. What if Reginald was as delusional with his theories as he was with the way he ran a country?
Just as she was about to talk herself out of speaking with the man, the phone stopped ringing.
“Ward Carson Investigations,” the woman said in a thick British accent.
“Um…” Johanna began, then cleared her throat, remembering that she was the queen of the Island of Westerly. “I would like to speak with Mr. Carson, please.”
“May I ask who’s calling?”
“Johanna Abbott-Worthington, of Westerly.” The phone went silent and Johanna frowned. “Hello? Are you there?”
“Oh, yes, I’m very sorry. Please hold the line, your Majesty. I’ll see if Mr. Carson is available.”
Johanna leaned back in her seat and waited, anxiously tapping her fingers on the desktop. She knew Samuel was going to be there any minute to pick her up and she wanted to get this over with first. She needed to be assured this whole journal thing was nonsense.
“Hello, Queen Johanna,” a deep male voice said with an accent far less British, and strong American.
“Mr. Carson?” she asked hesitantly.
“Yes ma’am,” he answered with a sense of humor in his tone. “I know, I don’t sound very British. Don’t worry, I was born in Sussex but raised in New York USA, so I am legal in both countries.”
“I see,” she answered. “Well, the reason I’m calling is on a personal level.”
“Allow me,” he interrupted. “You’re following up on the information I sent your cousin a while back.”
“Well, yes. I’m very interested in what you were working on. Reginald’s journal ended three days prior to his death. He said he believed my parents’ were still alive and an unknown assailant was responsible for four deaths. Could you clarify what exactly he meant?”
“I found evidence of a white van following your parents two months prior to their trip. It tried to run them off the road on their return trip from London, and again after a late-night dinner at Edward’s golf club. The morning the plane took off, the security cameras recorded the same white van outside the hanger prior to their departure. It left within moments of your parents' arrival.”
“That’s very interesting,” she said absently. “Do you have any idea who owned it?”
“It was rented to a movie studio but was reported stolen. The van was never recovered.”
“Is that the only thing you had to share with Reginald?”
“No, actually it wasn’t,” he answered. “Your grandfather contacted me the day before he was killed. He said he knew who was behind Edward’s accident and he intended to hand over the evidence to Scotland Yard. We made arrangements to meet the morning he died.”
“You were working for my grandfather?” Johanna asked with a frown.
“I was working with him before Reginald contacted me. I worked on many cases for Charles. Background checks on employees, that sort of thing. Reginald found my name in some of your grandfather’s papers.”
“Did my grandfather tell you who he suspected?”
“No, but he did say he was close to the family.”
“He? The killer was a man?”
“Apparently, or at least that’s what he said. The problem was he never told me a name or suggested how he was involved in the plane crash. However, he did say he left a record of everything in case anything happened to him, and it was to be delivered directly to Scotland Yard in the event of his untimely death.”
“What kind of record?” Johanna asked curiously.
“I don’t know, and unfortunately nothing was ever found. When I advised Scotland Yard, they dismissed it as an old man’s grief-induced rantings.”
“I saw the autopsy report,” she continued. “It showed my grandfather was stabbed and shot in the neck.”
“Yes, I know. I was the one who was able to get that report. The coroner deemed it as a homicide but stated that he believed it was accidental. There is a shooting range not far from Cherrington Cross. The police stated it was a stray bullet from there.”
“That club is on the other side of Cherrington Cross. It’s too far away for a bullet to travel that far, stray or not. What about the wound on his back?”
“The coroner said that could have been caused by the rock your grandfather fell on.”
“What do you believe?” Johanna asked, certain of the answer before he spoke it.
“I believe the same thing you do,” he told her. “Your grandfather met the killer and was murdered in order to hide his identity, then made his accident look like a horse trampled him.”
“Scotland Yard never received a package from my grandfather?”
“No, but I was never certain if anyone was given the package to forward, or if it was still at the castle.”
“My grandfather had a number of solicitors, perhaps one of them had it?”
“I checked with them, but nothing was ever discovered. If he intended one of them to receive it, then it never made it that far.”
“Mr. Carson, I would like to retain your services, if you’re interested in continuing your investigation,” she stated into the speaker.
“I’d be happy to do what I can, but I’m not sure what else I can do.”
“Anything you can find would be appreciated. I will contact Bronson at Cherrington Cross. Perhaps he has an idea of where the package might be. He was closest to my grandfather than any of the staff were. They were practically best friends.”
“I’ve spoken with him in the past,” Carson said. “The day after Charles died, I went to Cherrington Cross to speak with him. I always had a feeling he knew something more than he was telling me, but he insisted he didn’t know anything more than the police did.”
“I’ll take care of that end,” Johanna assured him. “Please keep in touch. I’m anxious to get some answers to all of this.”
Johanna was about to hang up then paused. “Reginald said the person who was responsible for my parents’ accident was responsible for four deaths. Who exactly was the fourth?”
“Your grandmother, Lady Catherine.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Lady Catherine’s stroke was not natural, or at least Reginald didn’t think it was. She had a new nurse by the name of Wanda Parker, who was responsible for giving her, her medication, but she left the castle the night Lady Catherine died and was never seen again. Reginald told me he believed her death was deliberate. He believed her stroke was caused by her bleeding disorder.”
“How did that happen?”
“The morning Lady Catherine died, she had a full agenda. She arranged a brunch for several people, most of them were the management of the many businesses Charles owned. That afternoon she went to her book club, then to a fundraiser for the children’s hospital. That evening she had a cocktail party in honor of Lord Charles. By the time she returned to Cherrington Cross, she began acting strangely. Later that evening she was found unconscious on her bedroom floor. The doctor was sent for, but by the time he arrived, she was conscious and refused to leave the castle. She was put to bed and died a few hours later from what her physician labeled an ordinary stroke. Reginald believed that someone at one of her meetings had introduced an overdose of blood thickeners into her system. It would have been virtually impossible for anyone to have noticed until it was too late.”
“Lady Catherine was diagnosed with blood clots only a few weeks prior to her death,” Johanna said, unaware that Samuel had stepped into the room. “I heard my aunt telling Martin that she hadn’t been able to regulate her blood levels before she died. It was very likely it was natural.”
“Reginald said he believed Lady Catherine found the information Charles left for Scotland Yard and tried to confront the killer herself.”
“Do you know who was at this brunch, or the other events she attended?”
“No, but I’m sure we can get a list.”
“It would be interesting to see who attended. I don’t remember all of the people my grandfather did business with. I was only five when he died. I do know the managers of the businesses though. I’ve dealt with them a considerable amount over the past ten years. I’ll call Bronson and get the lists.”
“Charles was a good friend,” Carson told her. “I’d love to bring this bastard to justice. If this nurse of Catherine’s had anything to do with her stroke, then I want to find her as well. I owe it to Charles to bring closure to all of this.”
“If what you’ve told me, and if what Reginald suspected is true, I’ll see him led to the gallows.”
Johanna hung up feeling angrier than curious. Someone had taken her entire family from her, and she’d be damned if she didn’t find him.
Samuel took a step further into the office but stopped when she dialed another number. He waited patiently as the phone was answered before joining the woman, sitting in a chair opposite her.
“Cherrington Cross,” a deep voice on the other end answered.
“Bronson, it’s Johanna Abbott-Worthington,” she said, hearing the sudden intake of air from the receiver.
“Your Grace…I mean your Majesty…it’s a pleasure to hear from you.”
“Thank you. I’m sorry it’s been so long. How is everything there?”
“Everything is fine, ma’am. Are you calling to say you’re coming home?”
“No, unfortunately, I can’t right now. I’d like to come this fall though. I love England in the autumn.”
“Yes, ma’am. It is especially lovely as the trees turn colors.”
“Yes,” she paused for a moment, then drew a deep breath and looked at Samuel. “Bronson, I’m doing some research into a journal Reginald was keeping. The morning Lady Catherine died she had a brunch there at the castle. Would you remember who she invited?”
“Not off the top of my head, but I’m sure I can find the list.”
“Would you email that to me please?”
“I’d be happy to.”
“My grandfather told Reginald he was keeping some information he wanted Scotland Yard to receive. Would you happen to know what it might have been?”
The man on the other end of the phone was silent for a few tense moments, then cleared his throat and continued.
“He gave me a package to deliver if anything was to ever happen to him,” the man continued. “I mentioned this to Lady Catherine and she demanded to see it. After that, I never saw it again. She told me she would see it got into the right hands.”
“And did she?”
“I do not believe so, your Grace…I mean your Majesty.”
“Just call me Johanna,” she insisted absently. “Do you know what Lady Catherine may have done with the package?”
“No ma’am, but I found a portion of the envelope in the rubbish the evening she died. It had been ripped as if torn from the package.”
“I want to know who was there for that brunch, and what was served. Also, I’d like to get a copy of her recent medical record. Do you think you can obtain that for me?”
“Yes ma’am, in fact, I have a copy of it in the files. Lady Catherine always received a copy of the notes from her visits. She was convinced that the physicians were charging her more than they were owed for services they did not perform. She kept a record of every test and every visit she ever made for that specific reason.”
“Thank heavens she was such a paranoid old…thank you Bronson,” she concluded, preventing herself from saying what she truly felt about the old woman. “One more thing. Do you remember the nurse who was hired for her?”
“Yes ma’am. Wanda Parker. She was sent by Lady Catherine’s personal physician to help get her blood thinners under control. She left during the chaos after her ladyship died and was never seen again. I caught her trying to take Lady Catherine’s medication out of her sitting room drawer. She said she wanted to give her another dose and see if it would help her regain her strength. By then, Lady Alissa told me Lady Catherine was dying and there was nothing anyone could do for her. I thought this was strange, so I took the bottles from her and locked them in Lord Carrington’s library safe.”
“Are they still there?”
“I believe so.”
“Would you please send them to Ward Carson, and please give him whatever assistance he needs,” Johanna said, a tone of authority in her voice.
“Thank you for everything, Bronson. I’ll be watching for those lists.”
They concluded the phone call with several minor pieces of information; the weather, the reactions to her coronation, and the condition of the island and palace. Johanna switched the phone off and leaned back in her chair, placing her elbows on the arms and tapping her upper lip with her folded fingers. A part of her was hoping Reginald was just crazy and suspicious, delusional in his grief, but now it was turning out that he may have actually known more than either of them had imagined.
“Are you ready to leave?” Samuel asked, bringing her out of her silence. Johanna glanced up to him with a frown, then remembered what was going on around her.
“Yes,” she answered. “I need to get that purse Mary sent.”
She stood and walked ahead of Samuel to the living room, then turned when he whistled at her.
“I approve of the outfit,” he smiled. “You have amazing legs, and that firm bottom…” he ended his comment with a soft growl making Johanna giggle as her face warmed.
“I’m awfully glad I pay you to protect me,” she teased as she picked up the small sequenced handbag laying on the table beside the door.
“You couldn’t pay me enough to keep my hands off that incredible body,” he chuckled.
He wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her back against him. He gently kissed her cheek, then her neck, nipping at the tender flesh across her collarbone.
Johanna leaned her head back against his shoulder, allowing him the time he wanted to explore her exposed flesh. His hand moved to the satin of her white blouse where he teased and played with her nipple until she moaned.
“If we don’t get out of here, we may never leave,” he whispered in her ear.
“And that would be a bad thing?” she asked, then giggled as he moved his hand to her skirt and pulled it up.
“We have to get back here so I can rip these things off you,” he told her, slipping his hand under the waistband of her panties.
His hand caressed her bottom, his middle finger slipping between her cheeks to caress the small tight hole.
“Are we leaving or staying?” she asked.
“When we get back, I’m going to show you how much fun this little hole can be,” he growled.
“There’s only so much you can do with it,” she said, smoothing her skirt back down and walking beside him out the door. He paused inside the threshold and turned to her, whispering in her ear.
“You have three holes,” he said quietly, so the guards down the hallway beside the elevator wouldn’t hear them. “I’m going to teach you how to enjoy all three of them.”
“How?” she asked with a frown, watching his smile deepen the blue hue of his eyes.
“The same way we do the sister in front,” he assured her watching the shocked expression cross her face. “Has anything I’ve shown you been painful or difficult?” he asked her in a hushed voice.
“Well, no, but…”
“This won’t either, and we’ll both enjoy it. If I can tip you over the edge with my finger, just imagine what I can do with something…larger, and harder.”
“I don’t think so,” she said with a disgusted look.
“We’ll see. Right now, we have a night of fun and dancing to get to. We’ll discuss everything else later.”
Johanna walked with the man to the lift and smiled to the guards who stood at attention, their hands over their chests. The lift arrived in a moment and they stepped in beside an older man who operated the controls, then waited until they descended the floors to the main lobby. She was excited to have a chance to relax for a little while, but the anticipation of what waited them when they returned to the room made her heart skip and her palms sweat.
There was one absolute when it came to the involvement with a man like Samuel Carrington. Nothing was off limits, and if could be kissed, touched, or fucked, it would be eventually.
The music played on, loud and thumping, but it only aided in helping Johanna relax. She spent every dance on the floor with Samuel, moving with him and against him in ways she never would imagine doing with another man. The nightclub was crowded, but that only helped in keeping her close to the man whose touch she craved as much as her lungs did air.
They sat at a small round table near the back with Patrick and three of the other guard, while over two dozen off-duty guard mingled with the patrons.
Johanna felt hot and sweaty, but she was laughing more than she had in years. They ordered drinks between dances and enjoyed both the limit on alcoholic beverages, as well as sodas and fruit drinks. Samuel made certain her glass was never empty, and their supper consisted of nachos, a grilled fruit platter, and a large beef burrito with rice. All provided by the club.
As a slow song began to play, Samuel wrapped his hand in hers, excused them from the table where Patrick sat with a young woman he’d met at the bar, and took her to the dance floor. He wrapped her in his warm embrace and held her close as they moved to the music.
“I thought Patrick was married?” Johanna asked, glancing to the man who was kissing the attractive tall blonde in a very short green dress.
“He is,” Samuel told her.
“Then why is he with a woman like that?”
“Because he hasn’t seen his wife in a month, and there’s only so much sexual tension a man can handle before he breaks.”
“Does she know he’s cheating on her?”
“He’s not exactly cheating, at least not by Westerly standards,” Samuel told her, pulling her closer and speaking in her ear so she could hear him over the music.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Based on the type of marriage you have, a man can have sex with another woman as long as his wife approves, and he doesn’t fuck her pussy. The only pussy he’s allowed to fuck is his wife’s.”
“What the hell?” she asked with a frown, watching the smile pull his lips apart.
“Unless a man is in a Bordello, he can only have oral sex or anal. Patrick’s wife agrees to it because she would rather have him faithful to her than cheating behind her back. She has other men she sees when he’s away, and when they go to the Bordello, they often take another couple with them. It keeps them happy in their marriage and content in each other’s arms.”
“Do you agree with this?”
“Personally…no, but we have a different wedding vow in Spring Arbor than they do in Red Bluff.”
“What’s that mean?”
“Every Region has their own take on the traditional wedding vow,” he told her. “Spring Arbor uses the traditional one with love, honor, obey, all of that. Red Bluff has the same with the exception to always return to your spouse at night. It’s vague enough to allow both partners to find satisfaction when the other isn’t around. Both Patrick and Olivia are sexually oriented. They love orgasm and have a very sexual marriage, but if they see someone they want to fuck, they know they’re safe to enjoy the body of another person, as long as the pussy is never used. When Olivia has sex with other men, it’s no different than when Patrick has sex with another woman. The pussy belongs to the marriage, and neither one will break their vow.”
“That’s bizarre,” she growled.
“Perhaps, but for Westerly, it’s a normal way of life. It helps prevent assault or rape by a person who finds another person desirable.”
“Patrick is going to go to bed with this girl and…”
“Fuck her ass, eat her pussy, deep throat her…yeah. It’s what he likes to do when Olivia isn’t around.”
“Disgusting,” she grumbled.
“You have a lot to learn about the way Westerly lives,” he told her, leaning in and placing his cheek against the side of her head.
“Do you agree with his belief?” she asked moving back enough to look into his eyes.
“I’ll never do anything with another woman, while I’m with you,” he promised. “I didn’t make use of a Bordello, or any offers after Melinda died until I met you. I will not abuse your trust, and I hope you won’t either.”
“Never,” she said, then leaned back into him. “Did you love her?” she asked a few moments later.
“Melinda? Did you love her? Is that why you didn’t try to find another woman?”
Samuel was quiet for several moments forcing her to lean back again and look into his eyes. There was a hint of anger lingering in the clear blue and she frowned.
“I never loved her,” he said softly. “I married her because our parents argued they wanted an heir, but I grew to hate her. By the time she gave birth to Jason…I would have killed her with my own hands if she had lived.”
“Because of your son’s death?”
“Yes, and because she was a conniving, hateful bitch. If she had lived, she would have been disgraced in Spring Arbor, and on Westerly in general. She wouldn’t be able to show her face in public.”
“I’m so sorry you had to go through that.”
“You know I want us to be together,” he told her, pulling her back close to his chest. “I will never abuse or mistreat you in any way. All I ask is that you not get pregnant. I can’t go through that again…not yet…maybe never.”
“I have no time or space in my life for a child,” she assured him. “I don’t know that I will ever want a child, but I know I’ll eventually have to give Westerly and heir. It’s not exactly a thought I want to entertain.”
“We’ll let time take its pace,” he told her, kissing her neck gently. “Let’s get out of here,” he whispered. “I’m eager to get back upstairs and finish your private lessons.”
“Were you serious about…that?”
“Yes, and I promise, you won’t hate it. We’ll try it once. If you don’t like it, we will never do it again.”
“Do you like it?” she asked, leaning back again and watching the passion fill his eyes.
“Let’s talk upstairs,” he whispered as the music ended.
He wrapped his arm around her waist and walked with her to the table where Patrick was sitting with the girl he’d been spending the past two hours with. He was latched onto her mouth like a leech, his hand caressing her thigh under the hem of her skirt.
Johanna narrowed her eyes on the couple as they approached. Samuel cleared his throat, bringing the two out of their lust induced coma. They looked up to see the expression the queen was giving them, and easily moved away from each other, the girl smoothing her hair as Patrick straightened his shirt.
“We’re going to call it a night,” Samuel told them. “We have a lot going on in the morning, so get some sleep. I’ll see you at seven.”
“Yes sir,” Patrick smiled, then nodded to Johanna. “Your Majesty.”
“Good night your Majesty,” the girl said, blushing as Johanna turned her violet gaze on her, quickly looking her over from head to waist then back to her eyes.
“Night,” she answered and left the club, followed close behind by Samuel.
“That was rude,” he assured her as they walked down the hall toward the lift. “You shouldn’t get involved. It’s normal behavior for Westerly.”
“It’s not normal, it’s adultery, and he should be ashamed. I thought his wife was pregnant.”
“She is, but that doesn’t mean they have to stop enjoying sex.”
“It’s barbaric,” she grumbled. “You’d think we were living in the middle ages.”
“In some ways, Westerly has never truly come out of the middle ages. A lot of the old beliefs are still practiced today. Men are free to explore other avenues of sexual fulfillment, and women are used as sex objects. I don’t see where it will ever change.”
“Probably not,” she agreed with a disheartened expression.
“Stop worrying about it,” he told her when they reached the lift. “They are what they are, and it’s just how their lives are. I don’t want Patrick’s habits coming between us, especially tonight.”
“You really are serious about that,” she frowned causing him to laugh.
“You are way overly worried about everything. Just relax and enjoy it for a change. I promise you’ll survive.”
“I’ll take your word for it,” she told him, taking her phone out of her purse and checking the messages buzzing on the device.
“No work tonight,” he ordered taking the phone from her fingers and shutting it off. “You’ve been working nonstop since you arrived on Westerly. It’s time to relax and let the world take care of itself.”
“I’ve never, not worked,” she argued reaching for her phone. “I don’t know how to do anything else.”
“Then it’s time you learned.”
The lift doors opened as Johanna retrieved her phone and began to switch it on. They stepped into the elevator behind the elderly man and stood patiently waiting as the doors closed and the glass box began to rise. Johanna looked out at their surroundings, noticing a number of photographers all snapping pictures.
“I thought there were security guards to prevent them from entering the hotel?” she asked with a frown as they faded from sight.
“There are,” Samuel said with an angry glare as he took his own phone out of his pocket and pressed a single key. “Patrick, the hotel lobby is filled with reporters. Where the hell are the entrance guards?”
Johanna stood listening to the one-sided conversation, glancing to the older man who seemed oblivious to them.
“Get out there and put a stop to it. I want those men to report to me immediately, and I want this hotel locked down.”
Samuel disconnected the call and replaced the phone in his pocket as the elevator came to a halt, and the doors opened again.
“What’s going on?” she asked, passing by the two guards who remained at their post.
“Patrick doesn’t know, but there are supposed to be eight guards on the front entrance. I’ll take care of it, don’t worry, but that means I’ll have to leave you here. I’ll be back shortly.”
“Actually, I’m really quite tired,” she said. “I think I’m just going to go to sleep.”
“You’re working yourself up for no reason,” he told her as he opened the door for her to step in.
As soon as he closed the door, he pulled her into his embrace, pressing her back against the wooden surface. Samuel’s lips were on hers before she could stop him, his tongue invading her wine sweetened mouth, sparring with her soft tongue. He teased and tasted until she was panting, her arms clinging to his neck to hold him close.
“Get undressed and get in bed,” he ordered her as he reached down between them, hiking her dress up enough that he could slip his fingers into the front of her panties. He played with the moistness, smiling as he leaned down to kiss her neck.
“You can try and tell me you don’t want me, but your body is making a liar out of you.”
He roughly moved two fingers into her, wiggling them as he thrust them in and out of her vagina with an almost fevered action.
Johanna felt dizzy as she clung to him, his free hand lifting her leg and raising it to his waist. He lifted her off her feet with the pressure of his hands beneath her, forcing her to wrap her legs around his waist for support.
Samuel’s hands played a wicked game of desire on her lower body, playing and teasing her until she moaned. Turning her around, he carried her to the dining table and set her on the edge. He easily divested her of her clothes, pulling her blouse and skirt up over her head. Laying her back, he unfastened her bra, then moved down to her panties, ripping them with a quick jerk and smiling as she gasped.
He knew he had to get to his room to meet with his guard, but he had to assure her she wasn’t going to feel the pain she was expecting. Unzipping his pants, he pulled his engorged penis out. Reaching beneath her, he jerked her forward, chuckling as she yelped in surprise.
Johanna was teetering precariously on the edge of the table. The only thing keeping her from falling was his large arms. He lifted the hard shaft in his hand and placed it against her wet body and pressed hard, thrusting into her savagely. He reached down behind her and caressed and massaged her bottom as he watched her cup her breasts. He was very impressed with how easily she adapted to his lessons and watching her pinch her nipples drove him on at a fevered pitch.
As his actions increased her vaginal muscles tightened around his steel shaft, assuring him she was about to climax. He allowed her a few thrusts more and as she began moaning, hovering on the edge of release, he slipped his finger into her bottom. Immediately she cried out, clinging to his arms like a lifeline. Samuel joined her as he slipped two fingers into her bottom and began a thrusting movement to mimic what was happening in her tight, wet canal. He pressed down on her abdomen as he filled her, forcing her to cry out again.
“Do you still want to sleep?” he asked a moment later as they came down from the pinnacle of euphoria.
“Maybe,” she answered honestly.
Samuel laughed as he helped her to her feet, slapping her bottom hard, then squeezing the firm cheek and covering her mouth with the pressure of his.
“I’m going to teach you how to obey me,” he smiled, his free hand gripping her breast and squeezing as he continued to play with her tight bottom. “I’ll be back in forty-five minutes. I want you bathed and clean, and laying on the bed completely naked. You can wear some panties if you’d like. I rather enjoy ripping them off you.”
“And if I don’t do as you suggest?” she asked him with a defiant grin.
“I’m not suggesting, I’m ordering. Tonight, you will be my submissive and I will take extreme pleasure in teaching you how to relinquish your control to me.”
“Go see your men,” she laughed, pushing away from him and gathering her discarded clothing from the table.
“I’m not joking,” he told her, pulling her back against him as his mouth fell to her neck. “I’ll be back and we’re going to spend a night in very intense heat.”
“I’ll consider it,” she assured him.
Samuel pulled himself back together and zipped his pants. He smoothed his shirt and tucked it back into the waistband, then looked up into her beautiful violet eyes.
“If you aren’t ready as I’ve ordered, you’ll get that beautiful bottom spanked.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” she gasped.
“I know you can snap me like a dried twig, but tonight you will do as you’re told. You need to understand how women are treated on Westerly.”
“You mean in the bordellos?”
“Yes…and in their private playrooms. Men are superior, and we love to dominate a woman. It’s time you saw how much I adore this body and how addicted I am to your cumming.”
Johanna watched as he turned and left the room, feeling the tingle of excitement travel up her spine. She hurried into her bathroom and started the shower, then retrieved a nightgown Janessa had made her when she first arrived on Westerly. She was going to do as he ordered, but with her own spin on things.