We need to get something out of the way that is long overdue.
“We are also alone, for once. How careless of them. Why should we delay other things that we need to put behind us, and with some urgency for both of us, with no one to see us?”
She moved the covers aside and pulled her nightdress up and out of the way, pleading silently with him to help her remove it. “There will be no one here until you ring for them.”
He smiled upon her but was firm. “No, my love. As tempting as your wonderful and exciting proposition is, I shall not oblige you just yet. We need be patient for only a few more hours. Marriage first.” He shook his head at what he had just said. “And I never thought I might hear myself refuse such an offer or utter those words when faced with such irresistible temptation. I think I can wait longer for such a prize, though where I might find the patience I am not sure.” Nor was she.
She accepted that and smiled at the flush upon his face at what he could easily see of her. She did not correct the situation, but moved her nightdress even more out of the way, up and under her arms, and lay back before him, knowing what pleasure it gave him to see her as she was. She knew the effect it would soon have upon him, as it always had upon Charles. All she had to do was wait, and he would be helpless to resist her unspoken pleading, and the allure of her body upon him.
“Can we get away with it, Robert? Getting married?”
He smiled at her. He knew what she was doing, feeling his temperature rise. “I don’t see why not, as long as you remember to call me, Charles. They do not see any alternative role for me here. I am the villain about to be sacrificed, as I deserve to be, to save you—and I intend to go to that sacrifice willingly, to protect the most charming woman we have all learned to love without reservation. They cannot know how much I have loved you with every waking moment; with every breath I took over the last ten years.”
He smiled upon her and, realizing that he could not win this battle. “Damn, Madam. I surrender. You knew I would.”
He lifted the shawl from about her, and then lifted her nightdress over her head and put it to one side as he kissed her everywhere, and then upon her lips. She was conscious of the mounting flush upon his face, feeling him then kiss her upon her breasts again.
“They may not like the thought of me sharing your bed every night, as I will be—broken leg, or no broken leg—but they will get used to it. They will see it as a way of putting hobbles about my feet, and they will have to excuse it, as it will be giving you and your children, the security and the stability that I might otherwise have removed from you.”
She began to cry once more, but they were now different tears; tears of joy. He leaned over her and kissed them away. He could feel her warmth, her welcoming softness. She knew the effect she was having upon him and began to undo his clothing. “I believe, Robert…Charles, that we shall have a comfortable and very busy night together, at last.”
“Yes, my love, we will, though we shall have three children with us in our bed tonight. Four, if we include young Charles, here.” He gave in to her and rested his hand on her abdomen as she lovingly touched his head.
“We will?” She was not sure she could believe him.
“Oh yes. I had to promise them. They will be too excited to sleep otherwise. Sophia is likely to be here too, but on the settee. Our family.” He chuckled, seeing the shocked look on her face as she wondered if what he said could be true.
“But they will all soon be fast asleep, and then we shall have the entire night for each other. I have waited ten years for this moment without daring to believe that it might arrive as soon as it did, or ever.”
Selena recollected something else as he gently caressed her. “Speaking of Sophia, I wonder where she got to. She said she would be here by now.”
Robert looked into her eyes, kissing her at the same time.
“Sophia will not be here until noon, my love… just before we begin the ceremony… and the celebrations. If they make it back in time. I saw her walking across the lawns with Mr. Rogers. She said something about visiting the infamous Belvedere that I told her about when I told her how I had first met you.”
Selena had already put his coat to one side and began on his cravat and shirt. He was not slow in helping her by then, fully attuned to what she intended for him.
“If they are not there, then they are lost somewhere in the infamous maze.” Selena chuckled and moved beneath him, pulling him down onto her as she adjusted a few things, moving her good leg out of his way, to make more room, and to make them both more comfortable. She seemed to have only a little difficulty.
He wondered if he might have hurt her. “What is the matter, my love?”
“Nothing important now. I was about to suggest that you should go at once and rescue Mr. Rogers, but it would be difficult without your clothing. No matter, it is too late for him, just as it is too late for you.” Much too late. “Sophia is too much like me, and you know what invariably happens in that Belvedere between young persons, when they first meet there. The same thing happens in the maze too. However, it is too late for you to do that, either.”
He already knew that for himself. He leaned over her more, and kissed her, feeling her arms go around him and hold him lovingly, close above her. “No Charles, do not pull that bell just yet, we have other things to complete first.”
“I had no intention of pulling that bell, my love. I was moving with a far different and much more desirably inviting goal in mind.”
“Good.” She looked up into his face. “You will also need to get rid of your shoes, Charles.” He was already doing so. She heard them fall to the floor, and felt other things beginning to happen as she helped him along.
“There you are! You can’t escape now. It is too late for you. For me too. Abandon hope all ye who think to enter there.” She kissed him encouragingly. “Yes, exactly there, Charles.” She gasped at what he was doing, and then moved again to adjust her position with him with what he was doing to her, and she laughed again in full knowledge of what she had just achieved.
She relaxed back against her pillows then and smiled up at him as his body blended excitedly with hers. “The ceremony will have to come after, rather than before, Charles. You can’t leave me now. And by the way, happy birthday.”
He could not have left her at just that moment even if his life had depended upon it. “Thank you,” he managed to say. They neither of them spoke for some moments as they kissed and continued what they had begun.
She laughed. “Oh, Lord, I think I hear the children coming.”
He struggled to bring his jumbled thoughts into focus so that he might respond, but he had difficulty speaking and he had no intention of changing anything about what they were doing together, as he couldn’t.
“They are not the… only ones… my love.” She could feel that for herself as she stroked his head with them both becoming breathless. Words, failed them both for some time.
They relaxed like that together as they savored what had happened between them at last and recovered their breath and their disordered senses.
“I hope you have a handkerchief close to hand, Charles, or everyone will see what we have done, and will know what happened here, and to me.”
“They already know, my love. They will be able to read all of it in our faces, as well as from the evidence of what happened. They are far from objecting. Why do you think they decided to leave us alone together for so long? In fact, I believe we may have time for an encore performance.”
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