The call had gone out that the Black Diamond was heading back up the coast and the villagers set about getting wagons down to shoreline under cover of darkness. A misdirection had been issued to the excise men, who all found themselves waiting in Dover for boats that never arrived to the remote coves dotted along the cliffs. By late evening the ship had been secured and the last of the crew and cargo ferried to the beach with a few of the local men carrying Ethan between them, through the tunnels to the house.
Christian was aware soon after their arrival at the house that things were not as they should be at the Grange, which was both a blessing and a curse. It seemed that the entire family, his and hers, had taken it upon themselves to descend on the Grange in their absence. Mrs Jones was in her element ensuring that all was as it should be for the Duke and Duchess of Carrick, and Ana’s parents. However, their presence at luncheon the day after they arrived home was not his first clue that the rest of the family had been in residence.
He had walked straight into his study upon their arrival, leaving Ana and Mrs Jones to settle Ethan into his rooms. Taylor arrived in the study not long after.
“I take it my brother is here somewhere.” Christian held a crystal decanter up to the candelabra, inspecting its meager contents. Elliot had obviously been making the most of Christian’s cellar. “Welch!”
The butler entered the room before the sound of his name had finished echoing around the room.
“You called, M’Lord?” A little out of breath, Welch used a long bow to recover his equilibrium.
“Why the hell aren’t the decanters full? Just because my brother sees fit to drink me out of house and home, there is no need to allow standards to drop.” Christian didn’t mean to be angry but he desperately wanted a bath and to make love to his wife before falling into a deep sleep from which he had no intention of waking until noon. Prior to this, he had wanted a snifter or two of his finest brandy, however, his brother appeared to have left him a finger full at best.
“I’m sorry, Sir. Things have been a bit hectic what with all the comings and goings. I’ll fetch it for you immediately, Sir.” Welch cross the room to retrieve the decanter when Christian held it up and away at the last minute.
“What do you mean comings and goings?”
The little man looked slightly flustered as he glanced between Taylor and Christian. “Lord Elliot is no longer here, Sir. Nor are Lady Katherine and Lady Mia. They left with him this evening. They’ve all gone north, Sir.”
Christian quirked an eyebrow. “Have they just?” He was about to question the brevity of his siblings respective visits as a source of his own amusement when he noticed his butler shuffling rather awkwardly. “There’s more?”
“Aye, Sir. You won’t be pleased.”
At that moment, Ana entered the room. “Won’t be pleased at what?”
Welch looked down, his hand busy spit-polishing a non-existent blemish from the side table.
“Yes. What won’t I be pleased about?” Christian was tired and Welch’s anxiety was beginning to grate on his nerves.
Finally, the wiry butler said, “Lord Elliot left this evening when word of your impending arrival first came in from the village. He thought it best to leave and take the ladies and Master Nicholas with him.”
“What?” Christian slammed down the decanter harder than he intended making them all jump.
“Who is Master Nicholas?” Ana asked. All the men turned and looked at her, the butler in shock, Taylor stoic and Christian switched quickly from irritation to distress as he realised how much he had kept from Ana before they had gone to France.
“You may leave us, Welch.” Christian kept his tone low and firm. He needed the butler gone quickly before he had this conversation with Ana. A nod to Taylor dismissed him as well. Once they were both gone, Christian turned and faced Ana with arms folded across his body.
“Nicholas is my 5 year old ward. He has lived at the Grange for most of his life under my care.”
Realisation dawned in Ana’s eyes with startling lucidity. “The little boy? I thought I had imagined him.” Her gaze dropped to the carpet and she leaned back on the table with both hands. All this time she had thought he was part of her own impending madness. But… “He was real? Why didn’t you tell me? And why on earth didn’t he live in the house with us?”
Christian’s face twisted in anguish. He knew that the secrets had been wrong to keep from her but the less people who knew about Nicholas, the better and he felt he had to win her heart before he broke the news to her that they had a young child in their care.
“Ana, I… Nicholas is…” He was scrambling for words to explain the lad but nothing seemed to be quite right. Who was he protecting if he said nothing? Meanwhile, Ana had that look that said the toe-tapping was about to begin. Her arms were already folded across her body, warning him that the explanation better be a good one and it had best be the truth. “Nicholas is the heir to Ravensthwaite.”
A thousand thoughts streamed through Ana’s head at once. Remembering the way the little boy looked. His smile, his coloring, the small mannerisms that had reminded her of Christian. When he had appeared as an illusion, a dream presence, she hadn’t minded that link. Now, she felt the bile rise in her throat. Because as much as Nicholas had looked like Christian, he had also looked like Kate and the thought of the two people she loved the most, sharing a child, had her mind reeling. And since Ethan had no son, this child, his nephew, was the next Earl of Ravensthwaite.
The pain that lanced through her body took her down so suddenly that she found herself seated when she hadn’t the least intention of doing so. Christian and Kate. No wonder her friend felt such animosity toward him. It all became so clear. All the reasons Ana had attributed to that animosity had been to do with her parents and Ethan. But now it seemed that wasn’t it at all. Ana tried to make the event of Nicholas’ birth and their betrayal match up. Only it wasn’t a betrayal was it, because Ana had not even known Christian then. Closing her eyes, she wished it wasn’t true, and then her mind took over.
“How old is Nicholas?” At first she had shut him out, her expression seeming to wish him gone. Then she raised her eyes to look at him and he saw they were glassy with tears that she refused to shed. Trying to read her facial expression had been impossible. That closed look was one that betrayed nothing so he superimposed disgust, because that was what he expected. That was what experience had handed him time after time, as he had traveled through life. Disdain, disgust, barely concealed hatred. If she was going to shun him or his family for covering up Nicholas’ presence, if she was going to judge them, then perhaps she was not the woman he thought she was. He hoped that this was not the case. None of them deserved it. They had done what they had to keep Nicholas safe. To protect him from harm. And to protect his parents. He had hoped that Ana would claim Nicholas as her own but her expression was fast diminishing that hope. Bereft of the woman he thought she was, he started to turn away. “I asked how old is he?”
Her voice was more forceful, more demanding. Turning to face her, he held back the answer, making her wait. She was proud, defiant, so damn sure that she was in the right. Well, he had had enough of self-righteous, judgmental do-gooders and gossips all of his life. He would be damned if he would tolerate it from her. If she didn’t like it, she could leave.
“He’s just a boy, Anastasia. An innocent. Do not put a label on him that you will live to regret.” The anger coursed through his body in waves. The rage shook him as he stared her down. The intensity in his eyes made her blanch. This was the inscrutable and intimidating captain, the war strategist.
“I don’t mean…I just wanted…” She looked genuinely terrified and he was glad of it.
“All of my life, I have heard the word ‘bastard’ thrown around with abandon. My life has been tainted by the poison of those crones who are supposedly the arbiters of good taste and guardians of societal norms, appointed by right of birth. If it hadn’t been for the strength of my stepmother in standing up to them and the power she could wield as a duchess, I would have left London to its ill-conceived devices years hence. As it is, I cannot stand to be in their ballrooms any more frequently than I have to be. I am not one of them, will never be one of them, no matter how much my father claims me. I will not have that for Nicholas. I will move us to the Americas if that is what it takes for him to live a normal life without judgment. So don’t you dare say it.”
Tears were now streaming down her flushed cheeks. He knew that she was so tired and disappointed in this situation, but it pierced him to his soul that she was not doing a thing to hide it. “I want to know how old he is and I want to know why you didn’t marry her! If you are such an honorable gentleman. Why the hell didn’t you marry her while you could? Why didn’t you give him your name?” Ana had stormed toward him, unleashing her fury in the small fists that pummeled his chest. He grasped her wrists trying to restrain her.
“What the hell are you talking about? I couldn’t marry my own sister! We might not have the same mother but we are still blood.” Then it dawned on him what she was saying. “You thought, Kate…?”
Wracked with sobbing, Ana heaved in a breath and collapsed into his chest, barely swallowing down enough breath to stop from choking on her own tears. The pain in her heart would never be extinguished. She had no right to feel betrayed by them but she would never forgive Christian for not doing his duty. Then she allowed his words to sink in and her tears of anguish turned into tears of relief. Such relief that Christian had to catch her before she hit the floor in a puddle at his feet.
Sweeping her up into his arms he crossed the room to a chaise and sank down, cradling her in his lap. He stroked firmly down her back until her breathing came under control and the heaving sobs changed to quiet sniffles. Just when he thought she might never stop crying, the door opened and his stepmother appeared wearing her night clothes and a wrap.
“Darling, is everything alright?” She was a picture of concern and the angel of his childhood.
“I don’t think she is going to stop. How did you…?”
Grace crossed the room and sat down beside them, taking Ana’s hand. “I could hear you fighting from my slumber.” Christian looked at her with the same lost look she recalled from when he was a little boy. “A mother knows.” She smiled.
“You always say that, as if you had given birth to me yourself.” This was a thought that often came to Christian’s mind when dealing with Grace and her maternal instincts but this was the first time he had ever voiced it aloud.
“You think that because you are not the fruit of my womb that I don’t feel as connected to you as Elliot and Mia. Christian, you disappoint me. Haven’t I loved you enough?” She was not chiding him. Her tone was far more matter of fact than that. She was under no illusion that Christian had suffered for not being her actual son over the years. However, he had arrived in their lives between a series of miscarriages and her pregnancy with Mia and mended an aching crevice of a wound that was in her heart with his intensity and empathy. He always knew what she needed before she could voice her desires or emotions. That was his gift to the world. Only it seemed he might possibly be having some issues using this same emotional intelligence when it came to his wife. It did seem rather ironic that Ana would be the one person in the world with whom he could not empathise with any degree of consistency.
“I’m sorry, mother. I didn’t mean…” Grace placed a palm on his cheek to silence him. A serene smile fell across her face as she tried to reassure him.
“My darling, Elliot is my strength, Mia is my spirit but you…she stroked the stubble on his jaw…you are my heart, and have been since the day I set eyes on you. You’ve always been the serious one, the thinker, the voice of reason. I knew that your father took your mother because it was expected of a young husband to have his mistress. But Ella was not just a fancy. Carrick loved her, as much as he loves me. If he didn’t I am not sure that I could have put up with her in our lives for as long as I did. She was a good woman and she adored you. She made me promise to take care of you, to keep you close in my heart and raise you as my own. I would have anyway, because you are Carrick’s, but I love you because Ella was like a sister to me.”
Christian had heard this a thousand times before but he appreciated the telling of it every time. However, he knew that from the way her body calmed in his arms, Ana was listening and taking in his mother’s words. And that, he knew, was why his mother was telling the story again, now.
Ana sat up and straightened a little without pulling out of Christian’s embrace.
“There, there my sweet. Is that a little better?” Grace was the soothing voice of calm in a storm that had washed over them with abandon. Christian had no idea how Ana had misread the situation so drastically but he was glad that she was calm enough to hear what he had to say. He stood up and placed her on the chaise next to his mother. The older woman wrapped an arm of support around her daughter-in-law while Christian sank to his knees in front of them. He wanted to see Ana’s eyes as he told his tale.
“Ana, Nicholas does not belong to me and Kate. He is Ethan’s son. Ethan and my sister, Mia. He is five years old. Mia got pregnant on the eve before Ethan left for France.”
Ana’s eyes were still glassy but she held her tears in check. “I’m sorry. When I saw him those few times I was taken by how much he reminded me of you and Kate. It never occurred to me that he might be Ethan’s and certainly not Mia’s. But you have to understand, no matter who he belongs to, I would never have called Nicholas a bastard. He would always have been family. I just…”
“You thought that I had been dishonorable and that is why Kate does not like me?”
Ana lowered her eyes, nodding her head. “I’m sorry.”
Christian tucked a finger under chin and lifted her head.”Darling, I’m sorry. I should have known that you are made of sterner stuff. I think I fell in love with you because you remind me so much of my mother. You have her compassionate heart.”
A small sob escaped from Grace. Ana and Christian looked at her with a little alarm. “I’m sorry. You don’t call me ‘mother’ enough. I mean, I know I am not her but I really do love you as my own.”
Christian grinned. “I know you do. And I love you for it.” He turned back to Ana who was frowning into her lap. “You have concerns?”
It took her a moment to bring her thoughts together. “So what happened when you found out that Mia was pregnant?”
Grace and Christian shared a look and then Grace continued the story. “To hear Mia tell it, she seduced Ethan. She thought herself in love and threw herself at him as a gift on his last night in London. He was young and foolish and the four boys had been out on the town drinking to his last night of freedom. Elliot brought him home to our townhouse to sleep it off and Mia, well, she was young. Christian knew she was pregnant before any of us. He suggested that we to take her to Italy to visit my sister, Olivia. We had been in Italy a week when he convinced her to confess that she had not been seasick on the journey. Christian departed and we stayed in Italy until Mia gave birth. While we were gone, Ethan was arrested in France and thrown into La Force prison. Then his parents were lost at sea, all within weeks of each other. We knew little of this until James arrived in Italy and insisted it was time to bring us all home.”
Christian took over the story. “We had established, by then, that Ethan had been suddenly released without explanation and we thought it best to bring Nicholas and Mia back to England to await Ethan’s return. She railed against it, saying that it was a mistake, her mistake. But we knew that Ethan would do the honorable thing.” Christian paused and leveled Ana with a stare. “As we all would.”
Ana, shame-faced, nodded her head. She had accused him, wrongly and he was making sure that she knew what type of man she had married. The mortification at her false and baseless accusations made her feel faint. Taking a deep breath she urged him on.
“Weeks turned into months and Ethan didn’t come home. Then we heard that he had been killed. James went to France seeking proof and instead found that Ethan was on the move. He had left France for Vienna and there were enough witnesses to confirm he was still alive. When the second report of his death came in, we began to suspect a plot. Again, James found proof and then a third time, James uncovered a very real attempt on Ethan’s life. In the mean time, Mia was hiding at the Grange with Nicholas and months had turned to years. Mia hadn’t been seen in London for four years by this time and we kept circulating the story that she had remained in Italy but we couldn’t keep this up forever. Given the falsehood of the claims, we determined that if anyone discovered Nicholas’ identity, he might be at risk.”
“Because of being the sole heir?” The incredulity of the situation had Ana’s mind reeling as she tried to process all the information she was hearing. She and Kate had known so little of any of this and to think of someone as vibrant and sparkling as Mia, in hiding with her son for all that time.
“Yes. Although his legitimacy reduced the chances of his inheriting, my father is powerful enough to petition the King for him to at least inherit the unentailed lands, even if he could not inherit the title. However, someone in government wants Ethan dead and there is no reason to believe that Nicholas isn’t at risk. However, keeping Nicholas a secret also meant that Mia was trapped.”
“And because you brought them to Trevelyan Grange,those harridans in Faversham know that he is here, don’t they?”
Christian frowned. “Harridans. What do you mean?”
“The women in Faversham. They were so mean. Saying awful things about you and your harem of women in the village. Do they know that Nicholas is here?”
“It’s entirely possible, although I am not sure how. He doesn’t leave the estate. Nor did Mia while she was here. You didn’t tell me that they were mean to you.”
“It doesn’t matter. They would not deign to visit the estate and given the situation, I am glad that they haven’t. We don’t want those, what did you call it? Guardians of societal norms? No we don’t need them judging Nicholas, or us.” Ana smiled at him. Then frowned. “Only, you said he was gone.”
Grace spoke up. “Yes, Mia insisted that they leave and once Kate had discovered the truth about Nicholas, well, she agreed. They have gone to Dumfries. We tried to talk them out of it but they insisted that Nicholas’ safety might depend on it. Elliot was also in agreement.”
“Yes, well, given the state that Ethan is in, perhaps that is a good thing.” Ana muttered almost to herself.
“What do you mean, dear?” Grace asked.
“Mother, Ethan is not in good shape. He has suffered from his incarceration and his recovery will be lengthy, I would imagine.”
“He is physically unwell?” Christian shook his head.
“Not as bad as he could be, although, he has not been treated kindly in prison. No, it is his mental state that worries us the most. He has spent the most time with Ana on the return voyage. He seems to trust her in a way that he doesn’t yet feel able with me or any of my men. Even James failed to penetrate his haze.”
“Oh, goodness. That does not sound good. Poor love. Well, he is lucky he has you.” Grace looked from one to the other. Christian and Ana looked briefly at each other, both wondering if they would be the ones to help Ethan at all.
“We’ll certainly do what we can but it could take some time,” Ana replied.
Grace stood up. “He’s in good hands, Ana. Now, I shall take my leave. I might not be sleeping but you can guarantee that your father will awake before the first birdsong. How a night owl can live with a rooster, I will never know.” With a smile and a wink she left the room.
“Come.” Christian stood and held a hand out to Ana. After a moment, she placed her small hand in his large one and allowed him to assist her up from the chaise.
“Are you going to forgive me?”
“Ana, there is nothing to forgive.” He sounded so certain that she almost believed him.
“Yes, there is. I leapt to a conclusion that was unfounded.”
“You might not have noted this fact but that is the story of my life.” And she knew he was not just talking about being the bastard son of a Duke. He might have forgiven her, but she wondered when he might begin to forgive himself.
“You’re a good man, Christian.” They were making their way hand in hand through the dark hallways to their apartments, the lamp casting ghostly shadows upon the walls. Her words were doing nothing to wipe the haunted look from his face. “Is this about Nicholas? Or Ethan?”
“Is what?” He replied in a rather distracted fashion that was less than convincing. He was not in the least bit distracted.
“Your mood. Ever since I met you I have been aware that you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. I used to think you were arrogant and aloof but I know better now. You seem to be worried about so many people, concerned for their welfare and motivated by a need to serve. Yet, who serves you, Christian? While you were at sea there was freeness to your spirit. Since we put foot on that beach this evening, you have been struggling.”
“It is nothing.” Yet he knew, now that they were on home soil, he would have to have a conversation with Ethan and the outcome might have devastating effects on the young man’s fragile psyche. While Christian longed to be forgiven for his misdemeanors, he had no intention of compromising Ethan’s state of mind in the process.
Ana was pensive. She saw the stiffness in his shoulders and the set of his jaw. Something had changed and the shifts had been subtle. She thought she understood him better now but he was still chasing demons, ones that made him question his own self-worth. And she had added to that tonight with her baseless and stupid assumptions. If she had truly listened to what he had said, instead of jumping to conclusions, she would have had more faith and seen the truth. Instead, she had rushed in with the same thinking and judgments that had plagued him all his life. He was the bastard son of a Duke and no matter what he or his family did, no one in society would let him forget it.
Christian paused at the door to her room, readying to leave her there but she was having none of it. They had established the rules of their relationship at sea and she would not let that go. He needed her and she needed to give herself to him. There would be none of the accepted norms of marriage for them.
Allowing him to place a chaste kiss on her hair, she stepped into her room, she saw that Louisa had left her night rail out on the bed and banked the fire. Ana listened at the adjoining door to Christian’s room as he moved about. He was alone, no valet. The slosh of water indicated that he was bathing which gave her a little time. Ana quickly undressed and bathed herself in the luke warm water that had been placed in her room. Then ignoring the night clothes, she took a deep breath, opened the door and walked through.
Reclining under the sheets, Christian’s eyes were closed but he knew sleep would not come, no matter the aching tiredness in his bones. Now that they were home, he would have to deal with the issues he had been avoiding. Not talking to Ana about Nicholas prior to France had been a mistake exacerbated by the ridiculous promise he had made with her father. The thought of all that meant weight heavy in his mind. And then there was Ethan. His mind was churning and his body wanted Ana, but tonight, he understood better than ever why he didn’t deserve her. Then he heard the click of the door and there she stood in her naked glory, her long dark tresses curling over her shoulders, breasts high and proud, a smile on her face and a scarf in her hand; harlot and angel.
“Ana, what are you…?” He sat up, his body instantly alert and wanting her with fierce intensity. Then she did the one thing he would never have expected in a thousand years.
“Sit back.” Her voice was strong, authoritative. Her eyes hard, inscrutible.
He complied, sitting back against the headboard. Moving across the room, he followed her with his eyes, drinking in the sight of her long, confident limbs, the gentle curve of her stomach and hips. His tongue snaked out and licked his dry lips. She was stunning, enticing and his mouth was watering as a man who craved his next meal but he held still.
Taking control of his hands, she knelt on the edge of the bed and bound his wrists with the scarf, first together and then above his head. As she did so, her breasts touched his face in a deliberate swipe. Powerless to resist, he took one hardened nipple into his mouth and sucked hard. She pulled away with a jerk and slapped his face, then retreated quickly to the far side of the room. He tugged on his restraints in frustration, wanting to pull her back to him.
“No!” He smiled but she kept her face impassive, as she approached the end of the bed again. So close but still so far out of his reach. “You think to take control, Sir? I think not. You have fought to control all of your life. You have been the keeper of secrets, the rescuer, the philanthropist, the hero, all of your life. Trying to ensure that you give your all to your country, your family, your friends. I understand that. I love that about you. Tonight, you need to relinquish that control, Christian. You need to receive love, pleasure, acceptance. Do you understand me?”
There was a long silence as he considered what she was saying. What she was offering. Release of control and responsibility. The thought was divine. Impossible. Yet, here she was, offering him exactly that. Her head was tipped to the side as she awaited his answer. There was no shyness to her. Only desire and love burned behind her eyes. Surrender was his only option.
“And you will understand, that you are worthy of this love?”
He closed his eyes for a moment. Worthy? Of her? He wanted to be that, always. Opening his eyes, he took a moment to capture her gaze.
“Good.” She knelt on the end of the bed and bent her head to his feet. “You have beautiful feet,” she whispered. Then she began to kiss, first the top of his foot, then around to the ankle and heel as she lifted the foot into her lap. With one long lick, she made her way from the heel to the arch of his foot and his cock jumped in response. He let out a groan and she placed his foot firmly against her breast as she smiled at him.
“Do you like that?” Her voice was still husky. He knew she was not entirely sure of what she was doing. She was improvising and he loved it. He wanted more.
“Yes, Ana.” He tried to keep his voice as even as possible, an enticement for her to make him suffer. He wanted to suffer at her hands. It was agonising, this slow seduction, and he desired from his core.
Lifting the foot again, she began to suck on his toes, one at a time. The sensation was unbearable and he had no idea that his basest desires were so connected to his feet. His little minx was surprising him, dominating him, one metatarsal at a time. The agony was so sweet and his erection was straining and jumping in erratic response, made all the more painful by the look of delight on her face as she played his feet and his cock like a sexual flute.
Another groan as she started on the other foot, this time letting his foot rest against her breast, his toes firmly in her mouth, as she massaged up and down his aching calf muscles. It was release and tension all in one, the tightness of his leg muscles relaxing under the warmth of her touch while his manhood stretched and strained to be touched.
“You are very responsive to my touch. Have I told you how much I adore your feet? No?” He shook his head, trying desperately to suppress another groan. “Well, I do. I suppose that makes me some sort of sick, pervert in some circles but I believe that you love this as much as I do. I shall worship your feet with monotonous regularity if you will let me. Will you let me, Christian? May I worship at your feet?”
Her words sounded wrong. He wanted her to continue her pleasure attack but to have her worship at his feet? No. That was not what he wanted. He started to pull his foot away but she held it firm, a challenging look her eyes. He tugged and she bit down hard making him yell out and his cock almost exploded. Then she sucked, firmly soothing the bite. The press of her hands into his flesh, the suction of her hollowed cheeks, the desire in her eyes was too much and he felt the familiar pressure at the base of his spine. Without much warning, his body bucked and writhed as his cock ejaculated of its own volition all over his body. Ana’s eyes sparkled as she watched the eruption, still sucking firmly on his big toe.
“Yes, Ana! God!” The explosion did not seem to want to stop and he wanted her to touch him. No sooner had he the thought than he felt her crawling up his body, her hand wrapping around his still firm cock and taking the last of his orgasm into her mouth. She sucked in the last of it before moving to lap up the glistening cream that now coated his stomach. “Ana, please, stop. You don,t… arrgh!”
Her hand squeezed his balls as she bit into the flesh on his hips. What the hell? She smiled up again.
“You keep saying the wrong things, Christian. I want to worship at your feet, I want to worship your body with my tongue and taste the fruit of our love in my mouth. I will offer myself to you and worship you and love you and you will understand that you deserve this. You don’t have to do a thing. Just accept. Cede control and let me love you.”
Her mouth returned to his cock and she sucked and laved, pumping her hand up and down its length bringing it back to life even more quickly than he had ever believed possible. The most practiced whores could not achieve this result the way his Ana could. She rubbed her breasts along his thighs as she ministered to his sex, her pussy pressing and coating his leg with its juices. Cleaning him, licking him, fucking him with her pretty mouth and hand, had her hot and ready for him.
“Will you let me?” she finally whispered, her blue eyes fixed on his.
“Yes, Ana.” He swallowed, unable to believe what she was doing but not wanting it to end. She sat up, leaning over him and kissing his mouth before sitting back, facing him but not touching him. His body felt bereft of her touch but she looked so beautiful that his eyes simply feasted.
Making sure that he was completely focused on her, she placed her finger in her mouth and sucked on it before slowly pulling it out with a pop. Then she lifted her body up, shifting her legs apart and reached down to touch herself. Beginning somewhat tentatively, she merely stroked the top of the thatch of hair at the juncture of her thighs, then pressing harder, she slid her finger down and inside the folds. Glancing down she noted that he would not be able to see properly so she reached between her legs and parted her folds for his viewing pleasure. When she glanced up his tongue had sneaked out again.
“Do you see what you do to me, Christian?” the sound barely cut through the air, she was so breathless with lust for him. The more she touched, the more the juice of her desire began to flow down the inside of her thigh. “Would you like to taste?”
He nodded. “Yes, Ana.” His own erratic breathing made his voice no more than a husky whisper and she laughed at the strain she heard there. Pulling her finger through the moistness, she lifted it to his mouth. He took her finger in and sucked hard, swirling his tongue around her skin. She moaned and closed her eyes, letting her other hand continue working on her clit while he sucked. “I want more. Please, Ana.”
There was a pause while she considered this and then she stood and walked up the bed until she was standing over his face. Kneeling on the head board, one leg either side of his head, she gripped the bed posts and leaned herself into his face so he could taste her. The shock of his tongue on her hard clit made her jump and then they settled into a rhythm as he thrust his tongue and she parried with her hips. He sucked her hard, making her gasp but she pressed down for more, allowing him to drive her on until she felt she could hold back no more.
Pulling away from his face, she reached down and released his hands. Lowering herself down, she positioned him at her entrance before impaling herself on his length. Kissing him hard, she responded to her own salty, musk on his face. His hands, now free went to her hips and held her firm as he pressed up to meet each of her downward thrusts. The undulating movements were slow and steady, as if they were still anchored aboard the ship, moving to the swells of the ocean as the tides ebbed and flowed. This was who they were, an eternal give and take, tension and release, control and surrender. This was how they loved and each of them understood this to the core of their souls. And the rocked each other to a powerful, simultaneous release.
“You are mine, Christian. The rest of the world may try to lay claim to you but in then end, you are mine.” Ana whispered into his neck as they held each other in the aftermath. They were still sitting, still joined but now Ana slumped into the protective circle of his strong upper body, his muscled arms wrapped around her.
“Yes, Ana.” She giggled as she lifted her head and looked into his eyes.
“Promise me that you won’t ever doubt that?”
“And you are mine. I don’t know what I did to deserve you but…” She placed a finger over his mouth to silence him.
“Don’t do that. It doesn’t matter. The point is you do deserve me. You deserve my love and that of your family. You are a worthy person, Christian.”
“Well, I suppose my navy record…”
“No! I mean, yes, you are a naval hero and there is no denying that. But you are so much more. You have given all of the people at the Grange a home. You saved your friend, your sister, your nephew. You give so much of yourself. I will spend the rest of my life making sure that you know that you are worthy.”
A yawn escaped her mouth and he quickly shifted her so that their bodies spooned. Eventually, he heard her breathing change. She might convince him that he was worthy of her love but the label naval hero stuck in his throat, as it always did. It always would.