Preparing for my husband’s return was not a great task. Caleb had never crossed the threshold of my husband’s house since he had come to apologize. In fact the only evidence I held of our time together was the portrait I had done of him. Without really thinking about it I knew I could trust the staff in our house. I could feel their loathing of Faolon and knew they were just as disappointed at his return as I was.
It was dark when he came home. I heard the rattling of the reins as the coachmen eased the horses to a stop. The commotion of Faolon exiting, not alone, it seemed, and entering the house was louder than I would have expected from a gentleman at that hour. He summoned the head of the kitchen within seconds of walking through the door by calling out his name, a giggle, from his companion followed.
“The lady wants bacon.” He bellowed in what he thought was a whisper.
“And I will have tea and biscuits.” And so my husband was home. After they clumped wildly up the stairs to his chambers I heard no more. There were many reasons I was thankful for our large home, this was one of them. Faolon often reassured me, in his more tender moments, that he had never broken our marriage vows and I believed that. I knew, that whatever he was doing with that woman in his room, was not what I had read about in some of the more descriptive novels the ladies and I had shared, in secret, in the past.
When I awoke the staff was going about their business as they had in the days before my husband’s return. I knew then that he was still sleeping, or at least still in his chambers. Having heard the early morning demand for bacon, I was now craving it and requested for kitchen to serve it for my breakfast, along with some fruit. I sipped my tea and looked out over the stretch of green hills that decorated our view.
I had done this every morning since I had moved into this house and in the last few months, while I looked, I anticipated my time with Caleb. This morning that was not the case. Instead I dreaded my husband’s ascension and wondered when I’d next see Caleb.
As it was, the former was resolved first, though not until it was almost dinnertime. I have no idea if the mystery woman was still in the house when he found me, but if she had left before, I had not heard her. His smile was wide when he saw me, but lacked sincerity. I was a figurehead in his life. A symbol of purity, a way to balance his cravings with what the public saw. He preferred me a virgin and reminded me often that he could taste the difference.
I was in the drawing room, reading a book. He closed the doors behind him and without saying a word beckoned me towards him. I knew the drill. This was a test. He had his fill while away, last night included. He had no pent up desires. He eyed me suspiciously.
“I have a gift for you.” He hinted toward his inner coat pocket with a tap of his finger.
“Do you deserve the gift I’ve brought for you?” He was taunting me. Like I longed for him to come home with pockets filled with trinkets. If he only knew how I’d have preferred him to stay away.
“I have done nothing to deserve your mistrust.” I mustered up.
“We shall see.” Motioning with his finger, he asked me to turn around and I obliged. With my back to him I felt him approach. Using his body, now pressed against mine to guide me, he bent me over the writing desk. He put a hand on my head and forced it to the side, pinning me, and with the other found the ‘sweet spot’ just above my collarbone and pierced it with his tool. I cried out in surprise, it had been awhile and I had forgotten the sharpness of this exchange. His lips fenced in the flow and he tasted me, every now and again attempting to taunt me with a whisk of his tongue. Pressing into my back, was the gift hidden in his pocket. I recognized it immediately. A bottle of perfume. What else would he bring me from Paris? It was what he had always brought me.
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