Since the girl fully intended to run from her present situation and start life anew, why not really run? Why not venture somewhere the earl would never think to look?
With great enthusiasm, the doctor used his persuasive abilities and painted a picture of freedom and happiness like no other with his description of the newly formed country. A country founded on the preface of freedom.
Stephen found the experience of a willing seductress much more compatible to his tastes and had therefore never bedded a virgin. Even so, he knew they needed to be treated much differently than the way he treated his poor young bride. His recollection of their battle was a hazy fog. From the bruises on her tender flesh, her swollen eyes, the torn gown, the stained bed covering, and the scratches on his chest, he was positive he treated her more like a whore than a new bride. No, worse than a whore. He provided no cooing and coaxing her fears away. Even a whore would have received that courtesy. The unbridled lust Stephen worked so hard to control had gotten the better of him. The fact that it was released by an excess of alcohol magnified the situation.
Ashamed and embarrassed by his barbaric actions, he debated what to do. Since it was clear she had not been pouting over the loss of a lover, he could only assume that his new bride simply did not find him appealing enough to want to marry. Of course, after last night, he could hardly expect her to like him enough to be his friend, let alone love him.
Resigning himself to his self-inflicted fate, Stephen decided to bed her until she got with child. Then he would leave her alone and allow her to live as the rest of London society seemed to live. He had no desire to force himself on a woman who truly found him repulsive any more than he had to. If it were not for the fact that he was expected to produce an heir he would have walked away and never touched her again.
He sighed. Such is the lot of the aristocracy. Surely Elizabeth understood this. She may not have had a mother to instruct her, but she was a lady born and bred and some things were simply common knowledge. She would have to endure bedding him until the family line was secure and then he would set her free. She could remain in London and he would travel between his estate in England, his plantation in Jamaica, and his plantation in Georgia. Surely she would be tolerant of the rare visits this type of schedule would allow him.
The only flaw in Stephen’s plan -besides the tortuous fact that he loved her- would be if the first child Elizabeth bore was a girl. If that should happen he would have to remain in England and bed her until an heir was presented.
He would worry about that later.
Stephen avoided Elizabeth all day. He was far too ashamed to look at her, let alone enter into a conversation. If their paths did happen to cross and they had a need to address each other, the bare minimum was spoken.
When evening came and he once again entered her chambers, he found her reluctantly huddled in the middle of her bed with the richly embroidered covers pulled tight around her neck. His petite young bride looked small, innocent, and frightened on a mattress that looked spacious enough for her entire wait staff to slumber on.
He moaned with remorse for his own stupidity. If he had not been expected to impregnate Elizabeth immediately for his ailing father's sake, he would have left the room and allowed her the peace her rich violet eyes so clearly begged him for. If only his father was not so ill, he could delay things and give her time to recover from their wedding night fiasco. Actually, he too would have appreciated some time for the memory and guilt of his drunken abandonment to dissipate.
Stephen did his best to avoid Elizabeth’s haunting stare as he crossed the room and poured himself a hefty amount of brandy in a straight stemmed, intricately etched, wide-mouthed crystal goblet.
Her wide eyes never left him.
Tossing back the amber liquid as quickly as he could, he had another, and then another. Relaxation spread through his body almost instantly as the brandy’s warmth reached his stomach. Its artificial power surged through his veins, giving him the courage he needed to finally face her.
Glancing in Elizabeth’s direction, he poured a small amount into another glass and walked to the bed.
Cringing as far away from her new husband she was able, while still retaining coverage over her slender body proved impossible. The weight of his bulk as he sat down on the edge of the bed tossed her closer and the covers no longer guarded her as they had once done. Her chemise slipped, exposing her silken shoulders, as she struggled to regain composure.
He absent mindedly traced her exposed flesh along her collar bone with a finger as he offered her the brandy. His thoughts fought his lustful anticipation of what was to come. She was so lovely, so delicate and beautiful, his body responded on its own. It would be different this time the told himself. He consumed only enough brandy to take the edge off his boyish nervousness, not enough to make him drunk. He was in complete control now and would move slowly, sensually. He would woo her and show her what it was like to be loved by a man. He would wipe the memory of last night with his kisses and tender touch.
“Drink this. Twill loosen you up,” Stephen cooed.
“I do not wish to drink.” Elizabeth spat with squeaking emotion.
She may not know her husband well, but she conversed with him enough over the months to know she detected a mild slur in the handsome man’s voice and wondered how much he drank before he entered her bed chambers and downed half a decanter of brandy before her very eyes. It was all too obvious that Stephen disliked bedding her just as much as she disliked bedding him.
“Tonight you do,” Stephen commanded with a little more force than he intended.
Upon seeing Elizabeth’s eyes open wide with fright, he heaved a deep sigh. This was not going well. He had no experience wooing a reluctant woman. If only she could like him just a little. This would be so much easier... and pleasurable. He wanted to walk away and leave her at peace. He was at a loss at what to do or how to act.
Taking a deep breath, he continued in a manner less abrupt, “Please drink this. ‘Twill relax you just a little.”
Elizabeth raised her chin defiantly, “I do not wish to...”
“Drink it,” He blurted in frustration with a controlled voice that was barely above a whisper.
Stephen found the entire situation incredibly frustrating. He was not prepared to deal with a woman who resisted him in this manner night after night. He had no idea how he should be acting. The fact that Elizabeth was so obviously repulsed by him when he wanted nothing more than to lay with her forever surprised, infuriated, and devastated him.
Elizabeth was stunned by her new husband’s sudden display of aggression. What type of man had she married? Her uncle assured her he was a well-bred young man who came from the finest of the finest. He would be able to provide for her and her children better than most husbands could. He seemed so quiet and, well... dull during their brief times together. He certainly managed to fool people by hiding this horrific side of his nature quite efficiently. One would never guess this side of his persona when he is out and about. Never.
It was no secret that Lord Stephen Carlson was the most sought after bachelor in London society. Her good fortune was pointed out to her by more than one person on many an occasion. If they knew about his drinking problem would they think so highly of him?
Had it really been good fortune? Remembering Stephen’s drunken assault on her tender and innocent flesh just the night before, and hearing his aggressive manner just now gave Elizabeth cause to wonder just how fortunate she really was to have married the most sought after bachelor in London society.
Having watched him drink far more in a short period of time than was recommended over the course of a full night she determined she had the misfortune to have married a drunk. She heard whispers about such things. Would he beat her now? She prayed for a reprieve until she and the doctor could execute her plan of escape.
Thinking it best not to provoke him, Elizabeth took the glass and unceremoniously tossed the amber liquid down her throat. She rarely found cause to drink brandy. On the few occasions she did she found it quite distasteful and rarely let more than a few drops touch her lips. Therefore, she was not prepared for its fiery assault as it caused her throat to contract. Spinning into a fit of coughs and gasps, she struggled to suck in air.
Stephen pulled her close and patted her back in an effort to ease her discomfort. The sweet scent of lavender that mingled with the coarse heavy curls of her shiny, thick raven hair filled his nostrils, accentuated his headiness, and tantalized his loins. He groaned with dismay as unbridled lust twisted and beat at him in an unmistakable demand to be set free. It was like a wild beast seeking freedom from its cage.
Stephen summoned all his might to subdue his urges, for subdue them he must. He had no intention of repeating his actions from the night before. Tonight he would move slowly, carefully. Even if his wife did not desire him, she could at least enjoy the experience. He pleasured enough women to know that the mind did not require love for the body to enjoy its pleasures.
Realizing his intentions, Elizabeth pushed Stephen away with all her might while she struggled to free herself. In doing so, the lace of her loosely draped chemise fell off her shoulders, exposing a small, perfectly formed breast. Was this seemingly innocent goddess torturing him on purpose?
“Please. Not tonight. I... I hurt,” Elizabeth wailed in frustration.
Although she did not want to anger him, she wanted even less to repeat the nightmare of the night before.
“Sadly, my dear wife, I know of no way of avoiding the hurt. I assure you that you will not feel hurt tonight like you felt last night, if you feel hurt at all.” Stephen looked away and sighed, “Had I realized, I would have done things differently.”
“Realized?” Elizabeth had no idea what he was referring to.
“’Tis no matter,” Stephen smiled. “Now, remove your gown please.”
Elizabeth froze. Was he serious? Did he actually expect her to remove her clothes like a wanton woman? Surely he was jesting.
“Shall I remove it for you?” Stephen asked gently.
When Stephen moved to do just that, Elizabeth scrambled quickly to the other side of the bed. She had no intention of baring her body for this brute of a man. Not now, not ever. A sudden decision struck her and she was no longer concerned about angering him. Let him beat her until her body was covered with bruises. Surely the pain would be less to endure than a repeat of the night before.
Stephen caught the edge of her gown and tugged in an effort to subdue her. He wanted nothing more than to make this night a pleasurable experience for the young, exotic beauty before him, but her repulsion of him was not making things easy. He never had to force a woman to bed him. He found the experience degrading. He was at an absolute loss at what to say or do.
“We must create an heir,” Stephen growled in frustration. Perhaps if he explained the situation to her, she would calm down. “Then, my dear wife, I shall leave you alone.”
Elizabeth stopped short. What was it that she detected in his tone of voice? Could it be that her new husband found this situation just as distasteful as she did? She had not taken into consideration the fact that perhaps Lord Stephen Carlson married her to appease his father and not out of a desire for her. It had not occurred to her that he may have been forced to marry her, like she was forced to marry him. Was that why he drank himself drunk on their wedding night? Was it to block out the fact that he must bed her? Did he find her so undesirable?
Having no mother to confide in and no married friends, Elizabeth was not clear on what really went on between a wife and a husband. She assumed what she experienced the night before was typical behavior. That being the case, she was not anxious to repeat it. Could it be that he too was reluctant? Had it hurt him like it hurt her? These were things she did not know and had no one to ask. She certainly was not going to ask him.
The thought that the two of them were coupled against their will never entered her mind. Until now.
Noticing his wife was deep in thought, Stephen took advantage of her unguarded state and reached for her shoulders. His large, weathered, yet well-manicured, hand barely gripped her gown before she spun away, leaving him with a fist full of fabric. As she pulled against his hold, the delicate trimming of her light weight garment tore from its meticulous stitching. He scowled. It was not his intention to ruin yet another gown. What would the servants think? If he kept this up, he would not have to worry about how to get the gown off this breath taking creature for she would have nothing left to don.
In her struggles to release herself from Stephen’s ever increasing grip, Elizabeth unwittingly forced an arousal in him that he could no longer deny. With a goodly amount of brandy coursing through his veins, all sensibility and caution was lost as his body took charge on its own accord. It ignored anything his mind might think that would stop him from fulfilling his needs and desires.
His lips burned against her skin, while he explored her wantonly. Within seconds he regained control of his senses and his love making shifted from that of a heated animal to the soft and sensual caresses of a most adept lover.
Stephen spoke the truth. The experience was not painful for Elizabeth as it was the night before. In fact, his tender ministrations were so wildly enjoyable that she was sure she would lose herself in ecstasy at any moment. Her mind reeled in confusion. Was she supposed to enjoy it like this? Was she expected to respond or should she simply allow him his pleasures like a dutiful wife? She had no idea.
Although Madeleine proved more than efficient when it came to her education on etiquette within society, a wife’s house management duties, and world affairs, not once had she carried on a woman to woman discussion with Elizabeth about husbands and wives and what happened between them behind closed doors. The subject seemed practically taboo. If it was referred to at all, it was with a whisper that crept out from behind her hand. Elizabeth attributed it to the fact that Madeleine never even possessed a beau to kiss, let alone a man to marry.
Accustomed to being on guard so as not to displease the man of the household, Elizabeth decided it was best to remain as still as she could while her husband took his pleasures. She held her breath and closed her eyes as tight as they would close and used every ounce of strength she could find while she struggled to keep her composure in check. It took all her strength to subdue the moans of pleasure that threatened to escape her throat. It would not do to upset him with her selfish wiggling and squealing from this absolutely incredible experience.
The thought of having to remain stoic and stiff while she endured such delightful pleasures for the rest of her life was crushingly sad. Was this her fate? How did wives around the world do this? Those who did received her humble admiration, for she did not think she could possibly bear it night after night. It was no small wonder why so many women encouraged their husbands to take a mistress. Being alone in bed would be far less punishment than the tortures of having to subdue one of the most pleasurable sensations a body could have.
Elizabeth did her best to remove her thoughts from the pleasures of the flesh in hopes it would help her retain her calm demeanor under Stephen’s wildly arousing ministries. In doing so, she found herself recalling the laughter and pleasurable conversation that transpired between the two during the many social engagements they simultaneously attended. She recalled how handsome he looked as he stepped onto the dance floor at Lord Milo’s ball. His deep throated laughter had caused shivers of delight up her arms and down her back at the Andersen’s picnic. She recalled how well his muscular thighs rippled when he maneuvered his stallion next to her carriage while outing in the park. He was a handsome and virile man any woman would be overjoyed to claim as hers. Yet he was hers. He was hers and he was here doing the most marvelous things to her body while whispering the most wondrous devotions in her ear. She loved him for it. She loved him for everything. Oh dear, she loved him.
The ecstasy of realizing the truth of her feelings for Lord Stephen Carlson clashed with the knowledge that he married her out of duty and nothing more. She was crushed to the core. She loved a man who did not love her. Yes, he spoke devotions while in the throes of passion, but surely they were simply words in a moment of passion. He made no mention of love outside their coupling. He'd made it perfectly clear that once she gave him a son they would have nothing more to do with each other. What joke of fate? How could God be so cruel? She was a dutiful ward of her uncle and a model young lady to society. She accepted her situation after the death of her parents with grace and dignity. All she desired in return was one thing and one thing only... to be loved. Now, her dreams of that happening were crushed. She was married to a man who did not return her love. She was no fool. She listened to enough conversations to understand that men enjoyed women without loving them. This was certainly what must be happening now. It was impossible for him not to be enjoying the sensations of their coupling, was it not? He certainly seemed to be enjoying himself.
The situation was just too saddening. Thank goodness her plans to escape with Dr. Jameson were still in the making. Would the doctor come through with a message that all was in order soon? She fervently prayed that it be so.
Feeling Elizabeth’s stiff body beneath him frustrated Stephen even more. After his initial lustful attack on her person, his senses returned and he did his best to show as much tenderness and consideration as he could. It was a difficult task to be sure. The woman’s beauty and appeal was of such to drive the best of men mad. One could not be too harsh on him for his occasional loss of control.
He pulled himself up and looked down on Elizabeth’s slight frame while she lay looking anywhere but at him. She seemed so small and vulnerable. Her eyes were dry of tears but filled with what looked be sorrow. He sensed her mind preoccupied. Did she wish herself away? Did she find being with him that distasteful? Did he sicken her to such an extent that she could not allow her body to relax and enjoy his expert ministries of pleasure? Never had he failed in bringing a woman to the heights of passion, yet it seemed he had failed now... and with his own wife.
Stephen prayed Elizabeth would conceive an heir soon so he would no longer be required to force himself upon her. As beautiful as she was, he found the situation sickening. There were plenty of women in wherever he traveled who were willing to throw themselves at him for just one night in his bed. He had no need or desire to keep returning to a woman who recoiled and remained like a piece of wood beneath him, even if she had captured his heart and he thought her to be the most beautiful creature he ever encountered.
Having been summoned by his father to assist with matters of estate after only a few nights with his passionless bride, Stephen expected to be gone the better part of a fortnight. Although he was remorseful about leaving his young wife so soon without having accomplished the removal of the cold barrier between them, it could not be helped. Their fortune, and the inheritance of their future heir, required his immediate attention.
He questioned the waiting maid selected from his staff by Elizabeth upon the dismissal of Madeleine Hardy after her treason -at least that was how Elizabeth viewed it- about her mistress’s female cycle and learned she was expecting her moon time soon. He would have liked to have continued to lay with her in the night for at least another week to fortify the possibility of producing an heir as well as break through that shell of resistance and get her to realize, understand, accept and respond to his love. Unfortunately, there was nothing to be done about it. If he was unsuccessful at begetting her with child already he would simply have to start again in her new month cycle when he returned. At least it would provide him with a greater opportunity to win her over - not to mention additional time making love to her.
His duties at his father’s estate took surprisingly much less time than Stephen anticipated and he found himself returning home after only a few days of absence. Those few days were all it took for his reluctant bride to slip off in the night and disappear. He would have never thought his socially proper Elizabeth capable of doing such a thing. Was the concept of being his bride that reprehensible?
He had initially joined in the general panic of the household while they speculated on what could have become of their young mistress. After questioning Lord Roberts about the possibility of him knowing something of his niece’s whereabouts, he discovered that thwarting her original plan to run away before the wedding could occur was the reason behind their rushed marriage, he quickly realized that the earl’s insistence of an early marriage had not in the least deterred his head strong niece’s plans. His bride had not been kidnapped or taken against her will. It was clear his beautiful, reluctant wife ran away.
Furious with the earl’s deceitful actions, Stephen commanded he remain silent about what occurred. He was certain that the man’s pride would keep him so. After all, he was still suffering -in his mind, if nowhere else- from the shame of his sister’s actions so many years ago. Stephen then put on a ruse to the rest of the world. He claimed his wife longed for time away from the city so they took up residence in a small cottage his family owned in the upper country and would remain there until she was ready to continue their honeymoon abroad.
People smiled and nodded in agreement about how lucky Lady Elizabeth was to have secured such a loving husband. Few husbands would grant his wife’s every wish like Lord Carlson was doing, even if they were just newlywed.
Fortunately for Stephen, his family was long standing in London society and had strong connections in influential places. It took but a few days to trace Elizabeth’s actions to the doorstep of the Jameson household. After a lengthy, heated and impending conversation with John Jameson, Stephen was able to learn of the doctor’s scheme to act as Elizabeth’s guardian in exchange for her funding their journey to the former colonies.
John explained to Stephen how he was the eldest brother and the doctor had been living on his good graces. Because of this, the doctor convinced Elizabeth to use her inheritance money to fund their trip. Knowing how naïve Elizabeth was to the ways of the world, Stephen imagined that would not have been too difficult a task. Somehow, the conniving scoundrel also managed to solicit his other brother, who was a lawyer and the trustee to Elizabeth’s inheritance, to release a considerable amount of her inheritance money to them. It mattered not to Stephen that John had been against the idea. He held the entire Jameson family accountable.
Stephen’s first concern was to find his wayward minx of a bride and bring her home. Once that was completed, this family of scoundrels would be duly dealt with.
Copyright 2015 Ailene Frances
When a pampered socialite in post civil war Boston seeks adventure and romance, she finds peril, heartache, and tragedy along with it. Answering an ad in The Matrimonial News, she secretly marries by proxy, but is widowed before she gets to meet her husband. The fact that she's naive and unskilled in the ways of love when she finally encounters the man of her dreams only adds to her situation.
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