Authors: Virginia Henley
“Do you have any of that stuff you were telling me about?” she asked in a husky voice.
“Stuff?” he puzzled.
“Amyl something-or-other that one inhales to make the climax harder.”
Charles chuckled. “Yes, I have a vial or two about somewhere. It’s an amber liquid that tastes and smells of pears. You inhale it deeply just before you are ready to come. Would you like to try it, you wanton little wench?”
“Why not?” She slanted him a glance.
“Why not, indeed?” he echoed. “Let’s see, it’s over here on this shelf with the other items which induce lust.”
Barbara’s curiosity was piqued. “Really?” she asked, moving toward the fascinating containers. She lifted a small jar, removed the lid, and sniffed. “Mmm, what are these? They smell like violets.”
Charles looked at the small purple gelatin capsules and grinned at her. “Intimate as we are, love, I blush to tell you what the apothecary said these were invented for.”
“Oh, Charles, tell me,” she urged.
“Well … you insert one up past your sphincter before you make love, then if you pass wind in bed, it smells like violets.”
Barbara fell against him with laughter. “Darling, I must have some. It’s quite an art to be able to do disgusting things delicately.”
He gathered her close and looked deeply into her eyes while he pressed his swollen member against her soft belly. “I rather like you to do disgusting things … disgustingly.”
“I know you do,” she whispered, undoing the laces on his codpiece.
“I enjoy taking you in broad daylight so I can watch you warm and flushed with passion.” His hand slid down inside her bodice and the slow, languid strokes of his fingers upon her throbbing peaks soon sent excitement hurtling through her body. He loved the way Barbara responded instantly to arousal, rather like himself.
“How about some of these creams you can rub on to provoke lust?” she suggested.
“God’s flesh, you above all others should know I need no nostrum for that.”
“There’s always room for improvement,” she teased. “Here … let’s try this … it says it’s made from white mustard seed … it says it bringeth heat to the parts,” she said, giggling, as she took a firm hold on his erection and dipped her finger into the pot of cream.
“Careful, Barbara, just a little dab, you don’t want to burn the damned knob off!”
Barbara couldn’t stop laughing as Charles pulled up her voluminous skirts to fondle her bared thighs. “God’s flesh, you never wear undergarments and I swear whenever you come into the same room, my mind fixates on your nakedness.”
Their tongues began to parry and thrust and Barbara put an extra large dab of the cream on the head of Charles’s shaft. His large hands slipped over her bottom cheeks and held her imprisoned while he impaled her with his great weapon. “Serves you right, it will rub off inside you and then we’ll see whose parts are heated,” he teased hoarsely.
She gasped with pleasure at the fullness of him, then her insides felt as if they were afire with the heat of their joined bodies. The friction of his movements turned them both hot and swollen until they thought they would go mad from their heightened sensitivity.
Charles braced his legs wide apart to hold Barbara pressed against the cabinet. They were both oblivious to the tinkling of the glass bottles as their vibrations made the colored liquids foam and splosh wildly upon the shelves. Barbara was ready to scream with her excitement. Charles, always slow to reach full peak, still had a measure of control. He reached for the vial of amyl nitrite and held it so they could inhale the pear fumes deeply. They exploded together. Barbara let out the scream which had been building in her throat as she felt her blood pounding from the top of her scalp to the soles of her feet, then she fainted and collapsed upon him.
Charles had never experienced anything quite so volatile either. He carried her over to the open window and sat her upon the sill. She opened her eyes, still dazed from the finesse of his lovemaking. “Barbara, are you all right?” he asked anxiously.
“Oooh, I’m more than all right,” she purred.
The Queen glanced up from the courtyard on her way back from evening prayers. She saw Barbara and Charles at the window of his laboratory and thought wistfully that Lady Castlemaine must be helping the King with his experiments.
Later in the day when a seaman came to collect Summer’s boxes, she sent him back to the
Ruark Helford was forced to come for her himself, pledging his responsibility for her safety to Lady Richwood. His impeccable manners were in full display, much to the private amusement of the two women, and Summer finally allowed her aunt to persuade her to change her mind and sail with Lord Helford.
His pulse began to pound when he handed her into his carriage entirely alone. She was sailing without a tiring woman, a ladies’ maid, or a chaperon of any description. Inside the dark carriage the silence stretched between them. The tension was thick in the air and it was charged with sensuality. There was no way to hide the fact that the male had scented the female and would pursue her.
His voice came rich and low through the darkness. “You must think it odd that I came at such a late hour for you, but we’ll have floodtide around three in the morning to carry us out to sea.”
“You forget, Lord Helford, I am a child of the sea,” she said softly.
“Of course. ’Tis said we Cornish have salt water in our veins and fire in our hearts,” he added warmly.
“And more guts than brains,” she added pointedly.
He raised an eyebrow at the lady’s language, but took the rebuke seriously. “Well, London has its diversions but for a man who thrives on an active life ’tis too confining. I for one am happy to be going home to Cornwall … it’s been a long time.”
It was on the tip of her tongue to ask him about his appointment as magistrate but she knew she must be wary with this man. In a way he was her enemy. Any way you looked at it, he represented the law, the authority, the power of the Crown, while she was up to
her pretty little neck in smuggling. A thrill ran up her spine. Being neighbors was going to be the challenge of a lifetime.
“How about you, Lady Summer? Will you miss London?” he asked casually, yet he felt a deep need to know.
“I cannot miss what I have never known, my lord. I have always lived quietly,” she said softly. “I love my freedom, but above all I think I value my privacy.”
’Ods blood, he thought wryly, that’s the second time in as many minutes she’s tried to teach me my manners. Such a prim and proper lady. I’ll have to see if I can change all that!
The carriage slowed, and when Ruark Helford opened the door, the smells and sounds of the sea rushed inside. As he arose, his hard thigh brushed against her leg, hip, and then her arm and she knew without a doubt it had been deliberate. He jumped lithely from the carriage and held up his arms to assist her descent. She held her beautiful head high at a defiant tilt; every line bespoke outraged innocence. She hesitated a full minute before she deigned to place her hands in his.
The moment their fingers engaged she swept her lashes to her cheeks and he imagined she blushed at the intimacy. ’Ods blood, if she blushed when their fingers touched, what would happen when his mouth explored all her most secret places? The anticipation was almost unbearable. The ache she had set up in his loins was pleasurable yet painful. He fought the urge to sweep her up into his arms and carry her to his berth, but promised himself he would do exactly that in the not-too-distant future. He ushered her aboard with a strong, steady hand at her elbow to make sure she did not misstep in the darkness.
All hands were on deck and stood smartly to attention as the master of the ship came aboard. In the faces closest to her she saw respect—or was it fear?—reflected by the ship’s lanterns.
“Mr. Cully,” his harsh voice rang out.
“Aye, aye, sir,” came the immediate reply as a wiry-looking sailor of indeterminate age stepped up smartly and saluted.
“My lady’s boxes,” said Ruark Helford crisply.
Summer shuddered. He who must be obeyed, she thought with a slight tinge of apprehension. Much to her surprise he did not show her down to his cabin but took her to a small, well-appointed cabin located forward in the bow.
“You will see I am observing all the proprieties,” he said huskily. “I knew if I offered you a cabin adjoining mine, you would refuse.”
Summer let out a tiny sigh of relief. At last he had gotten the message that she was a lady. She could afford to unbend a little. She looked up at him and reached out a hand which aimed for his arm, but managed to fall upon his broad chest. “You have been so very kind to me, Lord Helford,” she murmured, and she felt the strong beat of his heart beneath her hand. In one more second she knew she would be swept up in his arms, but at that very moment Mr. Cully pushed open the cabin door with his knee and swung two heavy boxes from his shoulders.
Ruark looked down at her ruefully. “When you have everything you need, lock this cabin door until morning. That is an order. Good night, Lady Summer.”
When he had gone, she leaned her back against the door and threw her muff into the air with a little whoop of joy. Before she was done with him she’d have him eating out of her hand like her stallion Ebony. Mr. Cully returned with the last of her luggage, showed her the little cabinet which contained water, soap, and towels, then drew the leather curtains across the latticed window from which could be observed the deck and above that the quarterdeck if you crouched at the right angle upon the cushioned window seat.
“May I have a little wine, Mr. Cully?”
He indicated a rosewood panel in the wall and showed her how to open it. Inside silver goblets and a decanter of wine were fastened in brackets and a solid silver box held dry biscuits. He said in broad cockney, “’Is nibs runs a tight ship, m’lydy.” He touched his forelock and spirited himself through the door like a wraith.
She pushed home the bolt. “Weil, Ruark Helford, I’ll obey the first order you’ve given me … after that we’ll see!”
After Summer examined her surroundings, reading the barometer which indicated a storm, twirling the globe of the world in its wooden frame, and feeling the soft wool blankets which made up the berth, she sipped two glasses of the full-bodied red wine, turned the oil lamp low, and undressed.
She didn’t want to disturb the beautiful new clothes she had packed with such care and slipped into the bunk naked. The ship still at anchor rose and fell gently, lulling her to sleep. Vaguely she became half-aware that the ship was moving and the wind had picked up considerably. She turned over and went back to sleep.
She was rudely awakened by a thudding roar as a great wave hit
the deck and the cabin stood on its end. She realized they must be out in the North Sea, being buffeted about by a gale before they could turn into the Strait of Dover. She threw back the blankets and staggered across the cabin to a porthole. The storm outside was raging. Rain swept horizontally across the heaving seas. As she struggled to shut the port she heard a man’s voice roar over the thunderous storm, “Hands to braces in the maintops,” and the ship gave a sharp plunge before she was brought around to the wind again.
Summer’s pulses raced. It was an exhilarating experience to be in a storm at sea. It was frightening and exciting at one and the same time and her blood sang recklessly. She would have given anything to be on deck at this moment, but she had more good sense than to distract the sailors when the ship was in peril.
She hugged herself. Ruark must have known about the storm, yet it hadn’t entered his head not to brave it. She clung to the braced window seat as the ship pitched and plunged. It seemed to climb upward over a mile-high mountainous wave, then wallow down into the trough.
Gradually the heavy weather lessened until the ship merely rolled about from side to side. The danger was past, but Summer knew a need to release her pent-up energy. She began to sway with the ship, keeping up with its undulating rhythm. Her dancing grew wilder, spinning and turning in an abandoned frenzy. Her black cloud of hair flew about her naked limbs until it was a great disheveled mass. She flung her head back in ecstasy as if she would sacrifice herself to some ancient sea god.
Ruark Helford had had no time to spare for his passenger until he had safely weathered the storm, but now that the sea was less heavy he thought of her immediately and imagined the great fear she must be experiencing, alone in the little cabin. His eyes were drawn down from the quarterdeck toward the cabin’s latticed windows, and as his eyes focused on a chink of light through the leather curtains he was rooted to the spot as he saw the wildly erotic dance of the completely naked girl. He was stunned. Could this untamed creature be the same innocent young lady he’d brought aboard earlier? He was mesmerized by her beautiful young body, spinning and twirling, her cloud of black hair alternately concealing then revealing her full, rounded breasts. He’d never seen a female act so abandoned before, not even dancers in Turkish brothels. And yet her natural grace and total lack of artifice lent a
piquant innocence to her uninhibited display. Something inside him was irresistibly drawn to her free spirit.
He knew the storm had affected her to the same degree it had him. Its danger had excited her to such a pitch she had to expend her energy in a lavish, excessive physical outburst. If he made love to her, he knew she would be capable of the same wild excess, the same delirious abandon. His blood was high, his pulses pounded from battling the raging seas, and he, too, needed release. His tongue licked the salt from his lips and his eyes devoured the long slim legs crowned with a triangle of black, silky ringlets. Her arms flung out as if to summon a lover. My God, she was like a pagan. And then he knew exactly where he’d seen her before. It was as if she had posed for the figurehead on his ship, the
All his senses cried out for her. She was utterly different from any other woman he had known, His blood, already intoxicated by the storm, was now enflamed with lust.