The unspoken Promise...
Taking the steps two at a time, Jaylon met Nettie in the hallway in front of Aniela’s bed-chamber door. Out of breath, he hesitated and cleared his throat before speaking, uncertain if she planned to impede him from entering. “Is she sleeping?” he asked in a guarded tone.
“Finally, yes,” Nettie whispered as she contemplated him up and down through puffy tear-filled eyes. “It has been a very rough afternoon for her.”
Nodding his understanding, Jaylon stared at her for a moment noting her distressed and unsettled appearance. “I know it has,” he responded, working to advance around her, but Nettie stopped his progression by stepping in front of him. For a moment, his eyes sank to the floor, and his jaw stiffened with a preparedness to force his way past her if needed.
“I’s never seen her like this before,” she choked, setting her hand on his arm. Her emotions bubbled to the surface, and she lifted her apron to dab at her eyes. “Who is this Meetza she speaks of?”
Drawing a deep breath, Jaylon felt now was not the time to go into an in-depth explanation about Meetza. His only desire was to be with Aniela and assure she is safe in her bed. “I promise to elaborate sometime to you, but not right now, Nettie.”
Nettie mulled over his pledge. “Please, Sir Jaylon, tell me you are the one who is going to get her through all of this... please.”
Jaylon nodded his head slowly, then peered into her dark soulful eyes. “I propose to do my best, Nettie,” he asserted, seeking to maintain his voice at a whisper. “I swear it.”
Wiping her tears again, Nettie gave him a slight head nod offering her concession of his word; then, she dropped her hand and turned the knob to Aniela’s bed-chamber door. “Lady Rosanne and Sir Michael have left for the day and plan not to return until tomorrow. As yet, they don’t know what transpired at the boutique, and I will make certain you two are not disturbed for the remainder of the evening.” Then she turned the knob and stepped aside, granting him access to Aniela’s chamber. “Bolt the door behind you,” Nettie added, then she turned and walked away.
Standing with his back to the door, Jaylon drew in several deep breaths as he stared at Aniela’s sleeping form in the center of the bed. Seeing her caused a rush of relief flood through his body, and he hung his head working to calm his raging emotions.
After a few moments, he slowly lifted his hand to begin releasing the buttons on his jacket until he was able to slide if from his shoulders and tossed it to the floor.
Walking to the bed, he paused, taking in her vision, and his heart swelled with love and apprehension of how this turmoil in her life was all going to end.
He sat in the armchair and quietly removed his boots; then he rose and pulled his shirt over his head. It found its place on the floor next to his discarded jacket as he tossed it across the room.
The clear blue morning sky had led to a thick blanket of clouds in the afternoon. Nettie had pulled the drapes closed, distributing only a crease of subdued daylight to invade in the room.
As he stood beside the bed, his eyes traveled the length of her body, taking in the exquisiteness of her beauty. She laid on her side facing him, and a tangled wisp of hair lay scattered across her cheek. More than anything, he yearned to tuck the curls behind her ear and press his lips to where the hair had once laid on her skin.
Instead, he slowly lifted the blanket and settled himself up against her warm body. He hesitated to move at first, but when she didn’t stir, he gently pulled her into his arms. He breathed in deeply, allowing his mind to revel in the pure essence of her; then, his hands began to work their way down her back and arms. The subtle movement prompted her to nuzzle herself tighter into the nape of his neck.
In the process, her hand folded around his waist and a content-filled sigh flowed from her lips, but she didn’t commence to open her eyes. Exhaustion had a tight grip on her.
Struggling with himself on whether to wake her, he exhaled with the gratifying knowledge that she was safe and sleeping back in his arms. He said a silent prayer, praising the Lord for that.
He listened to her calm breathing as her warm breath floated across his exposed skin. It was like a hypnotic whisper that soon lulled him into joining her in a peaceful and dreamless slumber.
As the moon snuffed out the day’s sunlight, the room slid into a gray, muted darkness, and Aniela’s eyes slowly fluttered open. She could feel the soft burdening weight of Jaylon’s hand draped at her hip, and her cheek rested on his bare chest.
A faint sob flowed from her lips as the remembrance of seeing Meetza on the street today flashed across her brain. Clamping her eyes closed, she worked to extinguish the image away before it generated a simmer of dread to swell to the surface, and her mind scrambled to think of anything else, but Meetza’s soul-filled eyes.
The feel of his breath gliding across her skin and hair was a welcomed distraction, and it induced a building shiver to rush from her toes all the way up to her chest.
She pressed herself tighter to him, reveling in the feel of tranquility and utter safeness she felt in his arms.
But, she recognized with absolute fear and dread; that if Meetza was in Cheshire, the likelihood Gordon was likewise there was a terrifying high probability.
Forcing herself away from his arms, Aniela leaned up on one elbow and allowed her eyes to wander freely over his masculine form. She lifted her hand and settled it to drift across his abdomen. With a feather-like caress, it strayed up his chest until her it halted and settled over his left breast. The feel of his heart beating under her palm caused a warm feeling to float across her body, and she gathered an anxious breath as her love for him swelled into her breast.
The sense of her touch caused him to rouse, and Jaylon’s eyes slowly creased open.
She watched him stare at her for a moment before she finally found her voice to speak. “I’m sorry if I woke...”
Her words became suddenly smothered by Jaylon’s passion-filled lips as he rolled to his side and curled his hand through her hair, pulling her to him.
Feeling the desperation in his kiss, she wrapped her arms around his body and opened her mouth to him. “I am okay, Jaylon,” she whispered into him, but her words presented only to inflame his ardor even higher, and he pressed her down into the mattress.
“Every-time I blink my eyes,” he rasped, pulling his lips from hers and rendering a trail of burning kisses across her skin. “I am in fear of losing you all over again.” Lifting his head, he stared down at her with hooded eyes. “I won’t survive it again if I do,” he confessed, stroking her cheek. “Tell me, Aniela. Tell me you love me, and you will never leave me.”
Her eyes pooled, and she pulled him back down to her lips. “I do love you, Jaylon,” she sighed against him. “I-I love you so much that sometimes it hurts to breathe.” As the words flowed from her mouth, Jaylon crushed his lips back down onto hers, tasting and probing into her soul. When he abruptly left her and rose from the bed, she felt a cold emptiness settle over her body.
Rising up to her knees, she watched him move for the top button of his breeches, but she hastily pressed his hand away and stared into his eyes as she worked the button lose herself.
A groan flowed from his parted lips and his hands lifted to sprayed through her hair at the nape of her neck, angling her chin up for his mouth to recapture hers.
As his lips seduced her mouth, she pushed his breeches off his hips until they landed in a heap on the floor. He stepped from them, then lifted one knee onto the mattress, preparing to center himself between her thighs.
But Aniela pulled away from him and moved to press on his chest until he laid down flat onto his back.
Without hesitation, she lifted one knee to straddled his hips and immediately felt his desire pressing into her, so she lifted her hips and slid down onto him until he became fully embedded inside her.
She leaned down, bracing her hands on his broad shoulders, and slowly began to rock her body, setting a slow, tentative pace.
But Jaylon’s hands wandered up under her shift, caressing her thighs and leaving a molten trail until they rested on her hips.
From there, his hands guided her movements, setting a faster climatic rhythm until she sat up with her palms braced at his abdomen.
Pulling himself up to a sitting position, Jaylon faced her as his hands urged her hips tighter into him.
Aniela wrapped her arms around his neck and flung her head back, permitting his lips access to shower kisses along her throat, neck, and breast. When he drew a full lobe into his mouth, suckling her, a moanful gasp flowed from her parted lips, and she cried out his name. Her thighs tightened around him as her body convulsed. Jaylon’s shuddering apex soon followed.
Each of them crested in an unfettered climatic release.
Through hooded eyes, she observed him rise and walk over to the fireplace. He lifted a few pieces of wood and turned, tossing them on to the diminishing red embers; then he shifted his gaze back towards her.
Never in her life did she ever imagined a man could affect her mind, body, and soul this way. As her eyes drifted over his muscled physic, she determined that she had been most definitely wrong in her assumptions of love and its understanding or meaning.
It was at this very moment, as her eyes traveled over him, she realized that she absolved him of all his transgressions with Elizabeth and his marriage farce. If it took months or years to resolve his union with her, it didn’t indeed matter anymore.
She would wait for him, no matter how long it took.
The fresh logs on the fire commenced having pirouetting flames develop underneath them, distributing a brilliant golden light to dance across his exposed skin.
A half-smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, and he turned to walk back to the bed while her eyes feasted and marveled on his nakedness.
Jaylon was clearly a man who alluded confidence in himself and bore no shame in his virile form. Of course, if she was male and looked as magnificent as him; she would probably strut around naked without a care at all times.
Rolling onto her side, Aniela faced him as he lifted the blanket to join her. He, too settled on his side with mere inches separating their bodies. They stared at each other, both not yearning to fracture the pleasurable thoughts they held captive in their minds.
Her hand lifted to the silk tie on the front of her shift and fiddled with the silky material, wrapping it around her fingers.
Jaylon settled his hand on top of hers, interrupting her movements. “What happened today, Aniela?”
Her teeth tugged on the thickness of her lower lip as she mused over his question, and her eyes roamed up his chest until she reached his serious stare. “While at the boutique, Harlow and I waited for Miss Tamara to prepare Camille’s gowns. I stepped to the window and stood to gaze at the street below, and I saw Meetza in the crowd,” she whispered, dropping her gaze to look at her hand. Even as she spoke her name, Aniela’s mind grappled with the hope that it wasn’t true.
Lifting his hand to her chin, he made her look at him. “Are you positive it was her?”
Nodding her head, she grappled to fight off the tears beginning to pool in her eyes. “Yes.”
His thumb caressed her skin. “Harlow stated you stepped out into the street in an attempt to find her,” he whispered. “What were you planning to do? What if Gordon had been...”
“He wasn’t,” she cut in. Hearing his name on Jaylon’s lips made her stomach tie up in knots. “I-I merely sought to help her. If it wasn’t for her, I am certain I would not be here with you today. I owe my life to her.”
Pondering over her testimony, Jaylon grasped her hand and lifted it to allow his lips to drift across her skin. “Did she seem to be in distress or battered in any way?”
Her eyes softened as she watched his lips leave a trail of kisses over the scars on her wrist and palm. “I don’t know,” she exhaled. “I never got close enough to her.”
Pausing his sensual assault on her warm flesh, he lifted himself up onto one elbow, and his face had turned serious. “Promise me you won’t pursue her if you should happen to see her again,” he asserted in a desperate tone.
Leaning away from him, her eyebrows furrowed with surprise and disappointment. “What?” she said, shaking her head. “N-no, I could never adhere to such a pledge and walk away from her. Not when I know what kind of abuse she is possibly suffering from his hands because of me.”
“But you stated she appeared unharmed,” he countered.
His careless words both shocked and hurt her.
Releasing his hand, she sat up abruptly and turned her back to him. She closed her eyes and drew in a couple of sharp breaths attempting to soothe her surging emotions.
It was several moments before Aniela felt she had the capability to speak. “So because Harlow and Camille have never seen the scars scattered across my body, does that mean they are not there?”
Closing his eyes, Jaylon hung his head. “No,” he whispered, his voice threaded with anguish. “I’m sorry, Aniela, I didn’t mean it that way at all.” He ascended up to his knees and settled behind her, then folded his arms around her waist and drew her against his body. “Please forgive me,” he whispered against her ear.
Sighing, she melted into his gentle embrace and allowed herself to relax against him. She understood he meant no malice by his poor choice of words, and she quickly admonished his indiscretion by lifting his hand to her parted lips. “You are forgiven,” she whispered against his skin. Parting his fingers, she drew them into her mouth one by one until his breath quickened at her neck.
He watched her lips caress his skin, and he sighed against her ear. “Promise me, you won’t pursue Meetza alone if you ever see her again,” he implored, dropping his head to place feathery kisses along her neck and throat.
Sighing, she closed her eyes and turned to capture his lips with her own, but she didn’t offer a concession or Promise. Instead, she shifted her body and forced him back down onto the bed.
Straddling his hips again, she pushed herself up and stared down at him. “Will Elizabeth ever let you go,” she challenged in a throaty whisper and effectively altering the subject.
As his eyes feasted on her beauty, his hands traveled slowly up her thighs and under her shift. “I don’t know,” he answered. “But I propose to move heaven and earth to make certain she does.”
She watched his hands work their way up her body, stopping only when they reached her breast. His thumbs caressed her until her nipples became taut, enticing him to sit up and take her fully into his mouth.
Leaning her head back, a sigh escaped her lips as her hands raked through his long hair in an attempt to pull him tighter. “If it were me, I would never let you go,” she sighed, trying to catch her breath.
Pausing the onslaught on her skin, Jaylon lifted his head to stare at her. “If it were you, I would already be wedded to the woman I love.”
His eloquent words made her heart catch in her throat, and she leaned into him, urging him back down onto the mattress. “It’s almost dawn,” she whispered, then clutched the hem of her shift and swiftly drew it over her head, tossing it to the floor.
The corners of his mouth curve upward, and his eyes became intense with longing. “Yes, it is,” he whispered in understanding. Then his hands dragged her back down to his waiting lips.
A dull light started revealing itself through the slightly parted curtains as the sun peaked over the horizon. But neither of them noticed or indeed truly cared.
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