Authors: Raven McAllan
To Please a Lady
by Raven McAllan
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or
persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
To Please a Lady
Copyright© 2011 Raven McAllan
Cover Artist: Victoria Miller
Editor: Jackie Moore
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in reviews.
To Paul, for putting up with a wife with a laptop attached to her and dust bunnies going forth and multiplying under the bed.
Also to UCW and Jackie. Thanks for all your help and support. Wouldn’t have been written without you all. To Victoria for the great cover.
No one, except Auberon Ashton Antigone Stray, Earl of Langlosh, would consider gray to be the color to wear.
Sitting in her elegant drawing room, waiting for her aunt to join her before they made their way to what promised to be a more-than-interesting ball, Hermione pondered on his affectation. Looking at her own elegant attire—muslin in shades of pink and red, which skimmed her body and hinted at delights never shown, and a deep red rosebud, nestled between dark tresses—she wondered if indeed she was any better. Neither conformed to the acceptable ways of the
. Each was unconventional in his or her own manner and attitude.
Meeting Berry on a jaunt to Assinger Abbey arranged and led by a friend of her brother, she had immediately been attracted to his dark good looks, his acerbic wit, and his interesting companionship. Not to mention the way her pussy contracted when his gaze smoldered in her direction. He had been frank and forthcoming about his desire. No milksop maiden, Hermione had been eager to discover the delights he could show and give. Indeed, delights they were. The first time he impaled her on his eager cock she was hooked, ready to follow the road of discovery with all eagerness. A willing pupil to his clever tutelage.
She stood as her aunt entered the room. A chaperone in name only, Lady Symons was a chatterbox, providing all the gossip and
Hermione wanted, and more besides. At five and twenty, Hermione had decided she was no longer a deb and not prepared to do duty as the maiden aunt of her brother’s family, always at their beck and call. Being an heiress in her own right, she had defied convention and set up her own household.
Harry, her elder brother and the head of the family, had put every obstacle in her way but eventually had to grudgingly admit defeat. Hermione had no need to rely on him for anything. Indeed, to his chagrin, thanks to a very generous godfather, her fortune was considerably larger than his own. His one pleading proviso was that she not defy convention totally and would thus have a chaperone.
Sophia Symons, widowed and penniless, had been only too pleased when her niece had rather diffidently asked if she would like to come and share her homes and, to a certain degree, her life. The one stipulation was that she neither question nor condemn her niece’s absences. As far as she knew, or indeed chose to think, when she was at her select soirees, musical evenings, and card afternoons, her niece was also doing things so innocuous. Hermione was happy to leave the status quo thus, and four years later, both had established harmony in sharing a household. Hermione may be the “head” of the house, but never was Sophia made to feel the poor relation.
Now Hermione looked at her aunt with genuine affection. “My love, you look stunning. That deep blue is perfect on you. Much better than the pale green. So insipid, I thought. The sort of color Lady Livingston would wear.” The mention of one of the foremost harpies of the day elicited a laugh. Neither lady had any time for her or her actions, and as both preceded her in rank, their lack of attention to her was acceptable. Not by that lady herself unfortunately, but neither Hermione nor Sophia cared or generally noticed her attitude.
Sophia gave a crow of laughter. “She does, doesn’t she? Perhaps, as harbingers of fashion we should drop a word in her ear?”
“I said we should—”
“No, not that,” Hermione butted in impatiently. “The bit about fashion.”
Sophia gurgled. “I was told this afternoon at Venicia Manerston’s tea we are now considered to be harbingers of fashion. Debs are pleading with their mamas to find out where and from whom we acquire our clothing. I said ‘twould always be our secret.”
“’Tis just as well you did. I have no liking of dozens of silly young girls looking like either of us or demanding the same style of dress. Good grief.” She moved to show the deep split that opened up the side of her skirt, showing more than a hint of elegant leg. If she chose to stand in a certain way, she could be sure to show a glimpse of curls. “If they saw this, neither would their mamas.” One
, and the slit was concealed. “Are you ready, aunt? The carriage is here.”
The crush to enter the Earl and Countess of Marchmont’s ballroom was unrelenting. Even exiting the carriage had taken over twenty minutes, due to the numbers waiting to be helped out and divested of cloaks. Eventually, they reached the doorway and were announced and thus able to make their curtsies to their hosts before being free to make their way across the room.
Leaving Sophia conversing with several of her cronies, Hermione was free to chat to her own coterie of friends. Generally popular—if one discounted Lady Livingstone—her progress was slow, and she could have filled her dance card several times over had she so chosen. However, on setting up her own household, she had also set up her own rules. One being that she would only dance if she chose to, to a dance she enjoyed, and with a partner she liked, moreover, a partner who knew the score and would try neither by affectation or coercion to engage her affections. Over the years, it had been made known that Hermione, Lady Missenden, was no slouch in the intelligence department and therefore, did not suffer fools gladly.
Neither, according to those who knew him, did Auberon Stray. He may affect gray, but beneath that disguise was a shrewd and clever man, one who knew how to draw attention away from where he did not want it to where he chose—in his case, from his actions to his clothing.
Indeed, Hermione thought, as she watched him make his languid way around the ballroom, bowing to some ladies, kissing the hands of others, and—to their chagrin—ignoring the matchmaking mamas and their overeager daughters, who else would have realized the myriad shades of gray one could wear? From his gleaming hessians to his immaculately tied cravat, he was a vision of that color. An artifice, surely, but one destined to make him stand out in the
, where pretension was the rule rather than the exception. Truly an individual. Amused she watched his progress, his methods of disengagement, and wondered just what his approach would be. And how she would address it.
Berry had hinted at his relationship with Ran before coming to the point and explaining all to her. A risk, he told her later, he had undertaken gladly to show her how important she was to him. A few weeks later, on Ran’s appearance in the recreations of the
, her introduction to him had resulted in her second lover being taken and enjoyed with the knowledge and willing acceptance of both men. The status quo remained thus until they had approached her, together with their request.
Now she remembered how Berry had told of their joining, how he and Ran, working incognito on behalf of their country, had spent a dangerous period of time together. Their safe passage through this period had culminated in their passionate release within each other and the realization of their love. No dissembling regarding the fact that their couplings continued was made, even though both were also sated within her. Hermione had been satisfied with this existing state of affairs. Seemingly Berry and Ran had not.
The week previous, she had been requested to partake of tea with them. An unusual request for two men, both of whom made no pretense of their abhorrence for the ritual. Her interest piqued, she accepted and with her maid—she was not so rebellious to ignore
proprieties—was welcomed into their elegant drawing room at the appropriate time. Her companion was dispatched to the servants’ quarters for a quiet coze with the housekeeper, who fortuitously was her aunt.
Her teacup raised to her lips, she was about to take her first sip when Berry, the leader it seemed in all things, inquired in a conversational tone, “My love, what know you of ménages? Where more than two persons indulge and delight in all things arousing together?”
Her reply had been to spray tea across the dainty table and require her back patted to stop her choking cough. Eyes streaming, she had eventually composed herself well enough to regard both men with wary eyes.
“Elucidate.” She had watched as they looked at each other before turning back to her. Again it was Berry, the man in gray, who spoke.
“We have a capacity of love here, between we three, that is much greater than its sum.” Hermione was not conversant with the meaning of his statement and therefore, waited, one eyebrow raised, for him to continue. His shoulders under their form-fitting dark gray jacket moved slightly.
“As you know, Ran and I are committed to each other and will continue to be so. Equally each of us is committed to you and will also continue to be so. Unless we are mistaken that commitment for you is equaled by a commitment from you?”
“Forsooth, my lord.” She had spoken in a mocking tone, somewhat perturbed by his admissions. “I fear you talk in riddles.”
Ran had laughed. “You fear no such thing, my lady. You are
cognizant with what is being asked of you. However, do you wish me to be specific?”
“Oh, if it so pleases you, my lords, do so with my blessing.” She wanted to see how they would phrase their request.
Simply and crudely.
“Should it please you, Hermione, it would please us for all three to fuck together, in a myriad of ways, discovering all we can do for each other. What say you?” Berry regarded her with a laughing eye.
“Why?” had been her reply.
“For we all wish it. The delights will be many-fold, from participating to regarding. All guaranteed to make our cocks hard with desire, and your cunt wet with anticipation.”
Indeed so it had been. She had finished her tea, taken and eaten a dainty cake, and gravely thanked them for their kind invitations. Both of them. Then she left them after promising to furnish her answer within a sennight.
Now, that sennight was up, and it seemed the man slowly but unswervingly making his way toward her was desirous of her answer.
Berry Stray, bored as was normal at formal occasions, was plotting his way out. He had it planned to the minute: so long for the receiving line; a certain number of minutes for the necessary and uninteresting conversation with his mama, her bosom-bows, and their offspring—hideous and uninspiring as they may be; to be followed by a mandatory ten-minute perambulation around the ballroom. The latter, he knew, was guaranteed to add a certain cache to the host’s standing, especially if he chose to favor any attending debutante with a smile or, heaven forbid, a passing word. Since Ivo Daranton had generally withdrawn from the
and its activities, unattached peers of an interesting age, were somewhat thin on the ground.
The Earl of Langlosh was spoiled. Something he freely acknowledged. Succeeding to the peerage whilst still in leading reins, his every whim pandered to, it was no small wonder he had succeeded in growing up into a fine, upstanding young man. Now at the age of five and thirty with several years working for His Majesty in such a capacity it could not be acknowledged, he had returned to the land of his forebears. Bored and not at all forbearing.
He was a man with a mission. A mission he would have preferred not to execute at a ball, but with his quarry becoming ever more elusive and his intentions decided, here he would.
Hence his perusal of the ballroom, his steady progress around its perimeter, and his determination to reach his chosen goal. Something, owing to the press of bodies, a lesser man would have shunned. However, he was not a lesser man, merely a determined one, and therefore, his progress although slow was constant.
“Hey, Langlosh.” He was heralded by a peer from his schooldays. “Heard the latest
about Marsh and his stables?”
“An eon ago.” He was not to be distracted from his objective. Already precious time was being stolen from his allotted hour at the cards. “My apologies, Chirrings. I must speak to an acquaintance to pass on a message from my mama.” All lies, but acceptable lies, he felt, in order to facilitate his movements. Sometimes, he mused, prevarication was the only path to follow.
It took twenty of those precious minutes to reach his goal. By which time his patience was at the limit of what was deemed acceptable and his humor distinctly lacking. To then be singularly ignored by his quarry did little to restore said patience, let alone his good humor. To be presented with a back—albeit a fine, long, smooth, back lightly covered by lace—was not his goal, unless it was part of a hot, willing female body, writhing in desperation for his cock to press hard into a moist cunt or arse. Neither of which was the case.
Listening to inane chatter was guaranteed to make him walk. Only the fact that he had a message to deliver stopped him, along with the mental promise to later extract retribution in a most enjoyable and arousing manner for that unacceptable and unwarranted behavior. That the message was not from his mama was immaterial. Berry had a duty to himself to discharge and had every intention to do so. Now, he waited.
Eventually, his displeasure must have registered, as one elegant shoulder moved, and the body it was part of turned to look at him. The other lady with whom his quarry had been conversing took one look at his face, blushed scarlet, and after making polite but hurried apologies, scuttled away, almost knocking over a dowager and her companion.
“There now, my lord, the scowl on your face was such to have poor Amelia running. If you had been but kind enough to pass a few moments in her company, her status would have improved. Strange, but true.”
Against his will, Berry laughed. “True; however, if I chose to speak to her later, single her out for one of my famous comments, do you hedge a guess as to what her demeanor would be?”
Hermione’s eye’s twinkled. “I could, my lord. I choose not. Poor Amelia. I fear she will go through life with the suffix ‘poor’ attached to her given name. Now, how may I help you?”
“I would suggest you know,” he observed. “If not, may I take this opportunity to disclose such details as you may need?”
Hermione felt she could have slapped him. These events were difficult enough without him adding his own personal mix to the equation.
“My lord, I have all the information, and may I say physical appreciation, I need. Now I have need to speak to you and Lord Ranulph together. Say, tomorrow at eleven? Perchance you may pick me up at that hour for a drive in the park? With Lord Ranulph, if possible. He seems noticeable by his absence this eve. I would have thought him attending on such an, ah, auspicious occasion.” Could she make it any clearer how she had expected a two-pronged advance?
He nodded, and Hermione noted with satisfaction the gleam in his eyes. Whether it would still be there on the morrow was a moot point. He bowed; only Hermione could see the mockery in his eyes.
“My pleasure, my lady. Our pleasure henceforth, I may beg to hope. Lord Raykes will be with us.”
Hermione wondered how he could be so sure. It seemed Berry read her mind. “Ah, my dear, he would have been here, except for an urgent missive from someone I may not admit exists. And I can say categorically not a mistress or rather not a mistress as you would recognize.”
Hermione tried not to show her amusement.
Well, that was clear enough.
Ranulph Jessop Raykes had in the past explained enough about his and Berry’s life to give her food for thought. This mistress in question, she felt, may indeed be the government, and questions therefore not permitted. Heaven knew what else he needed to do, however, for Bonaparte had been exiled to St. Helena for well over a twelvemonth, his menace thus dissipated. Nonetheless, she forebode to question, merely nodding before adding with a swift upward glance, “And need I leave the side door open, my lord? Or is altruism now to the fore?”
His reply was swift. “Not that uppermost that I decline to avail myself of your offer, my dear.” His tone changed, and she saw a veritable explosion of color and extravagance advancing with mincing steps. Lord Stevensby, doted on by his mama, encouraged in his ridiculous poses, and considering himself to be a tulip of the highest degree, was strutting in their direction.
Berry escorted her on the dance floor before she drew breath, leaving the young man in question standing, mouth open. A somewhat difficult action to accomplish, so high was his cravat.
“’Tis lucky we have a waltz, my lord,” she remarked in glacial tones, “else my reputation would be severely tarnished, and your face would be severely slapped.” Truly, her fingers were itching to make contact with his face. He and Ranulph Jessop, Lord Raykes, were much too sure of themselves. The problem, Hermione thought, as she twirled around the floor with a master of the art of dancing, was whether on the morrow she could stand fast in her determination to succeed and arrange things as she so desired rather than as they so did. The result would be the same; it was the way that result was achieved that had need to be decided. That conclusion made, she gave herself up to the sheer enjoyment of the waltz. One of the advantages of being an old maid, she thought as she was twirled with elegant precision, was no longer worrying with whom she danced. She had no interest in finding a husband. Her own or someone else’s.
Berry held Hermione firmly, feeling her body move and sway as they progressed around the dance floor. A master of suggestion, to say nothing of seduction when he desired, he was able to increase their body contact with certain moves. Designed to be innocuous to any onlooker, to Hermione he hoped they would be arousing. To his cock they were a tease, one he knew he could control, but enjoy nevertheless.
“Well, Mione-mine”—his tone was bland and conversational, his intent not so—”do you not enjoy the way we can hold each other and enjoy these brief meshes of our bodies? My cock is anticipating all sorts of delights to be had later.” He saw her frown but felt her hand tighten, and with a swift downwards glance, her nipples outlined against her muslin.
“We cannot be overheard,” he soothed her, “if it is that what worries you.”
“Thankfully, Lud Berry; you are a wicked tease. And your cock is always anticipating all manner of delights, for which I am also thankful.”
He felt her press up against him as he skillfully maneuvered them around another couple, before curtseying to him gracefully as the waltz ended. As he returned her curtsey with an elegant bow and escorted her toward the door of the ballroom, he saw the hint of bare leg as it showed through the concealed slit up the side, so brief a glimpse it could easily be missed. Not by him, or his cock, however. He crushed his arousal brutally. Later, he told himself, you can exact retribution.
“Supper, my dear. I took the liberty of securing your company for it.” He watched a myriad of expressions cross her face before she laughed.
“I give in, my lord. I see you know me well. What would you have done if I had chosen another escort?”
“You would not,” he replied simply. “We both stick to the rules of our arrangement. Supper tonight is part of them, we agreed.”