My Lady Compelled
By Shirl Anders
erotic regency, m/f
. The 1st novella from Shirl Anders in her continuing erotic Regency series, the Archangel’s. Meet our Lady St. John who is bought from a scandalous “wife’s sale” by her first beau and now former ex-spy, the Duke of Kittridge.
Read an exciting excerpt:
Gabriella wanted desperately to ask him to touch her, to put his hands on her loins. His fingers. But she couldn't. She could only stand there trembling as she watched the flicker of disappointment in his gaze, come and go so quickly that . . .
"And now, madame, for my second gift," he said briskly as he began to pull a long gold chain out of his pocket. The chain was as delicately wrought as a necklace, however, too long to be so, but it did have an oblong-shaped pearl-colored stone in the very middle of its length.
"This is a special stone, madame, called a passion pearl." Drummond reached forward and drew the chain around her bare waist.
"Drummond, I-I," Gabriella stuttered, looking down at his tan fingers working to close the clasp.
"Hush now," he murmured deeply as he brought the opalescence pearl forward and the delicate chain caught on her naked hips, while the pearl-stone slid downward through the springy nest of her woman's hair . . . and lower! Drummond touched the pearl with the tip of one finger and pushed it. Right into the crease of her femininity! Gabriella gasped, jumping backward, but the pearl-stone was wedged and she was completely flustered as she reached her shaking hands to the chain, trying to pull the pearl free.
Gabriella glanced over at Drummond just as the pearl pulled free to settle harmlessly in the curls of her woman's fleece.
"Ah well, madame, you shall wear it from now on regardless," he said as he leaned back into the chair and idly regarded her. "You are never to take it off and should I ever find it not around your waist, I will have to punish you."
"Punish," she exclaimed, grabbing a linen from beside the brass tub to cover herself as she glared at Drummond.
"Precisely, madame," he replied as he stood. "We shall commence with spankings at anytime or place that I do not find you wearing my passion pearl about your waist."
Gabriella gasped when she heard Drummond say spanking and she stepped backward a step, and blurted, "How barbaric, Lord Kittridge!"
"Madame, nothing would please me more than for you to find me very barbaric," Drummond stated as he strode with a lethal grace toward the door. "I should like you to wear a low-cut gown for dinner this evening," he drawled as he opened the door. "Because we are now both aware of how much, I do covet your breasts. Are we not, madame?"
Copyright © 2000 Shirl Anders
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Drummond Penhurst, Duke of Kittridge, relaxed in the lavishly furnished gaming salon of his country manor as he regarded the five gentlemen seated around the table. The game was Monte and these five men, chiefly including himself, compromised one of England's most successful spying circuits in the last forty years. The fact that he had been the administrator of this notable spying venture brought him satisfaction. The fact that it no longer existed with Napoleon's demise, brought him feelings of restlessness that he had seldom before encountered.
Their illustrious code name had been Hellagon. Regardless, the clandestine people in the offices at Thirteen Whipple Street had called them surreptitiously as the Queen's Archangels. The pretentious naming had adhered and until the last throes of Napoleon's demise, one needed only mention the Archangels on French soil to obtain a pale and fearful reaction. Yes, Drummond considered pragmatically, he had done his job with skill and even exceedingly artful at times, managing over the years to deliver them through alive. Barely.
His gaze flicked casually to Harrison, the reclusive Earl of Ravenscar and the only man present who was near to his own middle age. Together, he and Harrison had operated in the macabre world of espionage for more than eight years. His gaze followed the movement of Harrison's leather gloved hands, dealing the next round. Harrison's hands were perpetually gloved now, hiding the acid burns from their last spying operation gone array, just as Harrison's voice was now a permanent rasp from those same acid fumes.
, Drummond cursed silently. He had nearly lost Harrison in that last fateful debacle. He still questioned seriously who had betrayed their team. Who was it that had nearly cost Harrison his life and had cost Radford the Duke of Sutherlin one eye and Brynmore, Baron of Duneagan the hearing in one ear?
He felt every day since that time that he had better find the traitor before Harrison did. Harrison was set for his own style of dark vengeance and it was nearly as if Harrison knew who the betrayer was. Nevertheless, he reflected, it was unlike Harrison not to confide in him if he did indeed know. And all of this coming to pass well over a year before, so now it seemed to him like so much muddied water beneath the proverbial bridge.
What in the hell, he wondered, for the hundredth time since his return to England, did a master spy do with his life after the intrigue of espionage was no longer viable because of peace time? It appeared to him that he had arranged his life a bit too well around his spying efforts. His one and only wife had passed away several years before he had taken up the cause of spying, but not before she had given him the prerequisite heir and one daughter.
His son, Samuel, was a fine man and everything but the Duke of Kittridge in name. Samuel administered all the sundry ducal concerns with a firm hand and intelligent mind, having done so for several years now. His daughter, Tabitha, was married with a child of her own and a life completely established well without his presence. Neither of them had need of a slightly jaded, retired spy gumming up their well-ordered lives. So what did men of his age and accomplishments do, finding themselves very well unneeded at all turns and certainly not interested in the frippery of London's ‘ton'.
, he mulled as he tapped his fingers on the armrest of his chair, while he surveyed the men around him once again. It was quite clear that the gentlemen surrounding him also needed some type of settling. Not that he would consider, especially for the younger men, the possibility of foisting a wife on each of them. However, with the others injuries, there was also Saxonhurst, Marquess of Hartely's hand lost to cannon fire and Wyndham, Earl of Hawkenge's bad leg caught by shrapnel at Waterloo.
So he pondered soberly that all of his companions, well including himself, had definite needs of settling, perhaps there was a purpose yet. He would have to consider it. However, just then Harrison raised the ante and he turned his ear to the waggish conversation around him.
"I would favor a woman with the attributes of a courtesan for my wife, gentlemen, if you must know," Wyndham replied, somewhat defensive, to Radford's question.
Wyndham had gone to war, an idealistic young man and returned world-weary, but tightly honed, Drummond thought, as he watched the gilded-haired man propping his injured leg up on the brocade stool provided by his chair. Perhaps they all had, Drummond mused.
"You clearly have no one to answer to except yourself, Wyndham," Radford said, dropping some of his sardonic veneer that went with his piratical, black satin eye patch. "What with your brother and his wife killed by way of that carriage accident, while we were all dancing the minuet of Napoleon's demise." Radford turned his one startling light blue eye balefully on Wyndham. "I do imagine that you are required to produce an heir for your title, and what a deliciously wicked idea . . . to take a whore for a wife."
"I surely understand the man's need to be carrying on his family line by marrying," Brynmore interrupted. "In your position you canna do no less," he finished with a firm tug of the red and black tartan, tossed over his shoulder as if to emphasize family pride. No one in the group had more familial pride than the Scottish, Laird Duneagan, especially after the loss of nearly all the Duneagan's clan at Waterloo.
Radford sharply turned his vivid blue eye over the table at the Scottish Baron, then resumed his interrupted speech. "And, I must admit that I would rather have an intelligent tart in my bed for the next thirty years . . . if I were to choose wisely."
"It should be possible to find," Harrison rasped, sweeping the group with his brooding, black-eyed gaze. "Somewhere among all of the prissy and frigid daughters of our peers. There has to be a few worth training to a man's needs. The crux of the matter is not to mount the mare while searching."
"No cock in the pussy," Drummond mused.
"Exactly," Harrison replied in his raspy voice. "Last card," he added to those around the table in general.
"Really," Saxonhurst chuckled sadly. "Harrison, you are too ruthless at this game for my innocence," he added as he tossed his cards down conceding Harrison's win.
Drummond casually watched Saxonhurst maneuvering the silver hook that replaced his hand with dexterity as Saxonhurst took up the next shuffle. It was an amazing feat after only a year of dealing with the missing limb.
"Still, gentlemen," Saxonhurst continued in his pensive way. "The ladies of our esteemed 'ton' are very unlikely to offer forth any sort of courtesan persona. If only they understood that life is too short not to indulge in full-blooded passion from the very beginning of their tender ages. Then by admitting that they do have the capacity of heated passions, they would secure their husbands to them more tightly."
"What cause would any man have for a mistress outside of his marriage if he had a hot-blooded woman at home in his bed?" Wyndham asked, seriously intent.
"Think of the trouble to be spared the families lives, his wife, and their children, if a man was not driven to take up a wee doxie on the side. Those lasses can be a bit of trouble as many times as not," Brynmore observed.
"What man does not dream of a passionate woman as his sole possession?" Drummond mused. "The facts are, gentlemen, that if you discover a lady with potential, it is for you to exploit it because the lady will never admit to herself the baser instincts that could control her. Unless the man teaches her inexorably otherwise."
"Speaking from experience?" Harrison asked with a hedonistic glean in his ebony eyes.
"It is no mystery that I am the only man here who has been married," Drummond replied easily. "I have incurred two such errors in my life along this very line. With my wife it was understandable, for it was an arranged marriage. Even still, with the wisdom that I have now gained, I do believe even that very proper lady could have been turned to more passionate natures if I had simply proscribed to put my wit and intelligence into the matter."
"Put forth as much effort into making your wife your mistress as you put into plotting Napoleon's fall?" Radford quipped with sarcasm.
"Exactly," Drummond replied. "I know now that the feat could be well accomplished with, ah, shall we say, firm resolve and a masterful plan. I aver, gentlemen, that most women need us to thrust through their inbred moral objections and show them the way." He paused and held forward his glass of amber colored whiskey as if in toast. "They would applaud us in the end."
"Here-Here," Brynmore announced, raising his glass. "Here is to wiping away all the lasses' inhibitions."
"Here-Here," Radford followed. "And to instructing them each intimately on their passionate natures."
"Here-Here," Wyndham offered intently. "And, to provoking each of them into hot-blooded courtesans."
"And to showing them that life is too short not to be enjoyed to the fullest." Saxonhurst toasted with solemn brown eyes.
"Now," Harrison rasped as he finished toasting the last decree. "Here is to discovering the second woman in Drummond's tale and I could be just patriarchal enough to remember the lady's name."
Drummond gave Harrison a calculating glare, as he drawled, "Really, Ravenscar?" Harrison nodded in the sublimely venomous way that he had. It was a product of his deadly assassination skills, Drummond supposed.
"The Lady Gabriella St. John, if I recall correctly," Harrison replied in a hoarse whisper, pausing to take a sip of his whiskey. "You were quite young and enthralled, I am told."
"I certainly place you too well, Harrison, to find that lady's name from my past a coincidence from your mouth," Drummond observed, feeling a heightened sense of awareness strum along his nerve endings. He had not heard the lady's name spoken in more than twenty-five years. However, he had never forgotten . . .
"Her husband, Lord Reginald, proposes to
her," Harrison conveyed. "A wife's sale. You have heard of these sales in the lower classes before, I'm sure."
"I see," Drummond uttered through his throat gone suddenly dry. He was shocked and for a man who seldom let anything unravel him, this came perilously close to doing just that. He leaned forward, snuffing out his expensive cigar. "It appears, gentlemen, that I have some unexpected business to which I must attend. Stay as long as you will and, Harrison, I do thank you for finally arriving at the point of your suggested gathering this evening."
Then as Drummond strode from the salon, he heard Harrison's last toast. "Here-Here, gentlemen. Here is to finding that right woman."