A Marriage Most Scandalous (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters Book 2)

Scandalous Ballroom Encounters

Victoria Vale

 

Book 2:

A Marriage Most Scandalous

 

 

A Marriage Most Scandalous

Victoria Vale

Copyright 2015 by Victoria Vale

Edited by Zee Monodee (Divas at Work Editing)

Cover Art by PJ Friel

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, laces, or people, living or dead, is coincidental.

Chapter One

Brighton, 1816

Sheridan Cranfield stood in the doorway of his wife’s dressing room, peering through the half-open door into her chamber. She sat at her vanity alone, facing the mirror, her honey-blonde tresses hanging down to her waist like a curtain of spun gold. A yellow dressing gown had been cinched at her waist, undoubtedly covering one of her prim, white nightgowns. She held a lock of hair over her shoulder and brushed it with rhythmic strokes, her eyes unfocused as she stared off into the distance.

He wondered what her thoughts consisted of, if she anticipated him coming to her with the same eagerness he felt.

Steady, Sheridan,
he chastised himself.
You don’t want to frighten her.

The madness of his lust for her had become a tangible thing—one that had been driving him insane. Yet, his wife remained an innocent, newly initiated to the marriage bed.

This reminder did not douse the fire in his loins as he stood there, watching her perform the simple task like a voyeur taking in a tawdry exhibition. Sometimes, he liked to run his fingers through her silky locks, marveling in the erotic caress of them against his skin. But then, that just led to imagining giving it a rough yank, pulling her head back to expose the column of her throat before plundering that exposed, vulnerable skin with his mouth.

He shuddered at the thought and his erection throbbed, becoming downright painful. Not a night passed when he did not toss and turn in his bed, suffering from dreams of the forbidden fantasies he wished to experience with his lawful wife.

However, he could never touch her that way, sully her like he would a brothel whore. She was his wife, and thus, deserved his utmost respect and gentle care. A young woman, she’d just ended her first season when they’d met in Bath.

In those days, he still suffered from a broken heart over having been rejected by Margaret Seymour. Though, he must remember to think of her as the Duchess of Avonleah now. She’d spurned him for another man, claiming to love him. He’d retreated just before the end of the season and avoided attending their wedding, hoping to nurse his wounds in the serene environment of Bath while taking the waters for his health.

There, he’d found Cecily Montgomery and fallen so utterly in love that Margaret’s rejection became a distant memory he hardly recalled. She’d charmed him with her pretty smiles, dazzling him with her beauty. Yet, as he’d come to know her, he’d found her to be smart, witty, and kind. Her compassion awed him, most of all. A member of various ladies’ charitable societies, she spent much of her free time tending to orphans, feeding the poor, and helping others in any way she could.

The daughter of an Earl, she’d been raised in the lap of luxury, her every whim catered to. Her large dowry had hardly been needed. While Sheridan had yet to inherit his father’s title of Viscount of Perth, wise investment and management of his allowance had expanded his own wealth tremendously. As such, he was happy to allow her complete access to her dowry to use as she pleased, though she seldom indulged beyond the occasional gown or hat.

Three months of marriage, and she had made him delirious from happiness. Aside from the fact that his crude fantasies were likely to drive him insane. Try as he might, he could not rid himself of them.

His father’s teachings came back to him now, reminding him of why he could never indulge, no matter how much he might want to.

A gentleman’s wife is to be treated gently, as women possess delicate constitutions. A man must ensure that he is never aggressive in his amorous attention, lest he frighten or traumatize her unduly. Copulating with one’s wife is for the sole purpose of producing an heir, a duty to be taken seriously by both parties. With his mistress, a gentleman need not practice such restraint. Not gently bred, courtesans and whores can endure all manner of treatment, since they possess hardy constitutions and the knowledge of how to fulfill a man’s baser needs.

Along with his father’s words came the distasteful memories of the ‘lessons’ accompanying them, causing him to shudder. The viscount had ensured that his own beliefs concerning marriage and sex had been so deeply ingrained into Sheridan that they could never be undone.

Despite knowing it would be socially acceptable for him to take a mistress, he could not bring himself to do it, no matter how burning his urges. When his day ended, he wanted nothing more than to come home to his wife. No mistress could bring him the warmth and companionship she did.

Bad enough he bothered her more than he should to ask for his marital rights. Yet, he couldn’t stay away. It did not help matters that she welcomed him with kindness and an eagerness to please him. He wondered what she would think of him if she ever knew it would gratify him to treat her like a common tart.

She would be disgusted with you.

Sucking in a deep breath, he turned away from the door, crossing toward the washstand. He must calm his racing blood before he went to her, lest he be tempted to sweep the contents of her vanity table to the floor before bending her over it, lifting her dressing gown to reveal her perfect, round arse, and fucking her in a mindless fit of passion.

No, he must never do something so crass. He was a gentleman and she, his lady … he would get a grip on his wild fantasies before going to her bed.

Closing his eyes, he opened his belted dressing gown. He imagined her undressing him, opening the robe to find him naked underneath, her fingernails raking the light blond hairs sprinkled over his chest and in a thin line down his abdomen. He gritted his teeth and took hold of his hard cock, stroking it once firmly. His knees buckled and his stomach clenched, pleasure washing over him as he imagined pushing her to her knees before him, fisting her hair, and thrusting into her open mouth. Her plump lips would feel so good around him, her tongue hot and wet.

A man visits a whore if he wants someone to suck his cock, not his wife.

Grunting in frustration, he shoved the unwelcomed thought aside and tried to regain hold of his torrid fantasy. Thinking about it wouldn’t be so bad, would it?

He conjured up the sight of her naked breasts, large and rosy-tipped. His throat went dry as he imagined laying her down and fitting his cock in the valley between them, his fingers caressing the nipples while he pressed them together and thrust back and forth. Her tits must be the most marvelous pair he’d ever seen, soft and round and his to touch and taste. Ah, how he wished to fuck the cleft between them.

His hand tightened around his member, his strokes growing faster and less refined. In less than a minute, he spent, snatching a cloth from beside the washstand to catch his seed. His chest heaved as he fought to control his breathing.

He hardly felt satisfied, but better prepared to join his wife without fear that he would send her running from him in a fit of tears. The closeness and intimacy she offered him would have to be enough to satisfy.

If he could not live with that, then perhaps he could find a new home in Bedlam.

 

 

 

 

Cecily stood when the door between her dressing room and bedchamber swung open. She smiled, turning to greet him, hands folded before her. As always, the sight of him caused her pulse to race. She had married a beautiful man. He stood tall and slender, his tousled, golden hair shadowing spring-green eyes as he approached her. His features appeared refined, if even a bit ethereal. With the glow of the lamplight cast over him, he almost resembled some heavenly being.

And he was hers.

Unlike most marriages of the
ton’s
lords and ladies, theirs had been a love match, something she’d never thought to hope for when striking out to find a husband. Sheridan had spent the entire season courting a lady who’d gone on to marry someone else. Fortunate for her that she had; otherwise, he’d have never come to Bath, where she’d accompanied her arthritic aunt who’d wished to take the waters for her ailments.

She’d ended the season without incurring an offer, a happenstance which had caused her to feel a bit maudlin at the time. When he’d asked her to dance a minuet with him during a fête at Bath’s Upper Assembly Rooms, she’d been swept away, captured by his gallantry and charm.

From that evening on, they’d been inseparable—strolling along the Royal Crescent to take in its scenic architecture and sprawling, green parks; meeting for breakfast chaperoned by her aunt at a little coffee-shop that had fast become a favorite haunt of theirs; browsing the circulating libraries for tomes to pore over together.

They’d spent lazy afternoons in the park seated on one of the benches as she read to him from their chosen book, or window-shopping on Milsom Street. She’d come to love him for more than his easy charm and good looks. Within the four weeks they’d spent together in Bath, she’d come to love Sheridan Cranfield for the man he was.

To cap their whirlwind romance, they’d conducted a simple ceremony at Bath Abbey, with the few acquaintances they knew who’d sojourned to Bath after the season in attendance.

After their wedding, he’d whisked her away to Brighton for a honeymoon, where his family owned a residence facing the sea on Marine Parade. From their bedroom, a balcony stretched out toward the beach, offering them a lovely view of sunrises and sunsets.

They bathed in the ocean, walked along the sand, picnicked on the grounds of the house, attended balls and card assemblies at the Castle Inn and the Old Ship, and the theater in New Road. Her wedding trip proved to be a marvelous time, filled with romance and companionship with her husband.

After that, they’d gone to his family’s country estate, Edenwhite. There, they’d spent the colder months walking the snow-covered park around the major, exploring the home Sheridan would someday inherit, and getting to know one another better.

Spring fast approached, which meant the time had come to return to London. The season would begin and when Parliament sessions resumed, Sheridan would again take up his seat in the House of Lords.

Life would be as it had been; only now, she would be married to the man of her dreams.

There remained just one problem.

As a lover, her husband left much to be desired.

It wasn’t that she found their coupling unpleasant. Their first mating had been painful, but his tenderness had caused it to fade quickly, and by the end, she’d come to appreciate the closeness she’d experienced while having him inside of her. Yet, there seemed to be so much missing from the experience. At least, for her.

Her mother had been very frank in explaining marital relations to her, so she’d found nothing surprising or unexpected about the experience. She knew where all the various body parts were supposed to go, and that it resulted in the creation of children. Her mother had warned her that it wasn’t always pleasant and some men could be selfish, not at all interested in pleasing their wives.

If she did not know her husband so well, she might believe him to be selfish, when their every coupling ended in satisfaction for him, and the opposite for her. However, she’d come to realize that lack of care on his part was not the problem. Nor lack of desire. She saw his hunger for her every time their eyes met, and when his stare raked over her from head to toe. Sheridan loved her; she believed that. He also desired her.

Unfortunately, he lacked finesse when it came to making love, a fact she’d long resigned herself to. Her mother had always told her the marriage bed existed for the purpose of bearing heirs for one’s husband. She should not have expected to gain her own pleasure from it. Yet, every now and then, he would touch her or kiss her in a way that left her yearning … and she knew there had to be more. The promise his caress gave her proved something else existed beyond the monotony of their lovemaking.

Still, she remained uncertain of how to broach the subject with him—or even if she should mention it at all. She did not want to hurt his feelings or make him feel inadequate.

So, she became determined to make the best of it and focus on the things she did enjoy … like when he held her close and kissed her as he did right now.

“Did you enjoy the theater tonight, my love?” he asked, tilting her chin up and smiling down at her.

The radiance of that smile stole her breath away and she found her heart squeezing in her chest.

“I did,” she replied, resting her palms on his chest. The heat of him became apparent through the fabric of his dressing gown. He was slender but wiry, with corded muscles stretched beneath supple skin. “I have so enjoyed our time in Brighton. While I am anxious to return to my charity work, I will miss the seaside and our seclusion here. I don’t want to have to share you with the
ton
.”

He chuckled, causing his chest to rumble beneath her fingers.

“I am loath to leave it behind, too. Yet, our duties call us back. But never fear; I am always yours when you wish me to be. There is no duty that can distract me from ensuring you are kept happy.”

“Just now, I am delirious with happiness,” she replied, rising up on tiptoe to kiss him once more.

She parted her lips, a soft sigh emitting from her throat as the taste of him lingered on her tongue. His grip on her waist tightened, the evidence of his arousal swelling between them.

“Shall we adjourn to the bed, darling?” he murmured, his lips still against hers, his hands already loosening the belt of her dressing gown.

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