Nothing edited here, really. Just some romantic nonsense off the top of my head. Enjoy! :D
The gathering at the Dormer house was a boisterous affair. The wine and ale were flowing freely and the food was plentiful - as were the wenches.
Fucking whores, Guy thought.
His eyes narrowed - his mouth turning down in a frown. This was not the kind of celebration he had accepted an invitation for. It was meant to be a small get-together of only a few neighbors, during which they would spend their days hunting and their nights discussing politics and enjoying some light festivities. His main objective in coming had been to discuss Thea’s marriage contract, which had thankfully been negotiated with success before the small party had erupted into a wild and crowded debacle. One of the women came to his side – slowly, it seemed. He refused to look at her at that moment, but he had seen her looking at him earlier in the evening. Her manner of dress was suited to an elegant lady. She was young and beautiful, to be sure - with neatly curled black tresses that fell to her slender waist, alabaster skin, and bright green eyes. But the look in those eyes, and the way she carried herself, was blatantly unrefined. With a soft and sultry tone, she made her intentions known.
“You have a most pensive look, my lord. Is there something I might do to raise your spirits?”
Her hand was purposefully slow as she reached out to touch his arm, her fingers traveling down to his wrist and the top of his hand – and suddenly he seized her wrist, gripping it tightly.
“You can do nothing for me, trollop. Find another man to service and infect, and tell your friends to do the same.”
He felt no shame at the disgruntled look on her face, and he was glad to see her depart. Reaching for his cup, he downed the contents quickly, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand as he put the goblet down with some force. If there was one consolation, it was that his gaming had brought him a good deal of money. But at that moment he had no more desire to play, even with the promise of profit.
“I am retiring for the night,” he said to his companions. Gathering up his winnings, he ignored their grumblings and their drunken pleas to remain.
“We have hardly begun to celebrate, Gisborne. Stay and play another round.”
“I am done, gentleman. Carry on with your rabblerousing. I shall do well enough on my own.”
Despite their continued protests, he left them all to their own devices and made his way upstairs.
He wanted to depart right then and there – to sneak down the back stairway and go home. But such an abrupt departure would be an insult to his host, and in turn, could jeopardize important plans that had been set in motion. He had agreed to remain for a fortnight, and by God, he would hold himself to his promise. But Lord above, he hated wearing such shackles of duty. It would have been easy to lose himself in drink and the warmth of a willing female. But if Cassia knew of such behavior, she would be furious, and rightfully so. And what sort of father would he be if he had no ability to temper himself?
No, he would not get completely drunk on honey-meade. But he would have enough of it to dull his senses and find rest. He reached for the flagon – and found it empty. With a disgruntled sigh, he called for his valet.
“Frances, I need more wine!”
Even with the aid of wine, his sleep would not go unbroken. How could it not be broken? The room given to him was a comfortable one – warm, well-appointed, and quiet. But therin was the small but significant cause of his restlessness. He found it impossible to truly sleep unless he heard the sound of gentle breathing near his ear, or the occasional murmur uttered during a dream. And where was the sensation of a head upon his shoulder, or the feeling of a soft roundness pressed back against his thighs? Thinking of it, he felt a stirring in his loins. God in heaven, he missed the smell and silkiness of her hair, either against his cheek or his lips, depending on how he had settled his head against hers. His blissful thoughts were quickly shattered by the disappointment of reality, becoming a grumble of frustration and anger.
“Frances, where the devil are you, man?” He waited a few moments, and shouted this time.
Good God, where is that useless servant?
“Temper, temper, my lord Gisborne.”
He turned instantly, not believing the sound of her voice. But there she stood in the doorway, looking at him with a smile – a small but radiant smile, and her dark eyes were shining with a familiar mischief that set his heart to beating madly.
“I would ask after your well-being, but I have seen already what a miserable creature you are without me.”
He could not wait a moment longer, closing the distance between them in a few short strides. At last she was in his arms, which twined around her in a fierce embrace of love that he could hardly suppress. She seemed not to mind in the slightest, holding him just as tightly. Their kisses were many and potent, ceasing only when they managed words. He buried his nose in the lovely softness of her hair.
“I have indeed been a miserable cretin. You cannot begin to know how vile.”
“I think I can harbor a guess,” she replied, the sound of her voice oddly strained, until the explanation came with a little sound of amusement, and she declared, “Guy, I can scarcely draw my breath.”
He sometimes forgot his own strength – the volatility of his feelings often being so strong. Loosening his hold, his clasped her hand in both his own, kissing it with reverence.
“Why are you here?” he inquired, but in the next moment he shook his head. “Never mind. I care not the reason.” Drawing her back into his arms, he was more gentle than before – the shock of her appearance easing now, allowing him to better maintain his emotions. He sighed with pleasure at the feeling of her head against his chest.
“Matilda told me I should come. She said you would be pining for me, so it was my duty as a wife to look after you.”
He chuckled, and for the first time in many days, he smiled a genuine smile.
“The old harridan. I must remember to reward her for her wisdom.” Kissing the top of her head, he reveled in the feeling of her – the reality of her being here, and not some momentary imagining. But with the realness came some concerns. Looking down at her, gently turning her face up to look at her, his smile lessened. “Tis’ such a long journey from home. And surely you did not come alone?”
“Stephen escorted me. And then promptly found company with his mistress.”
The mention of the word filled him with a quickly passing but strong sense of guilt. His voice became low, and he averted his eyes for a moment.
“You can hardly blame him for seeking such comfort. Loneliness is a painful condition. At times, an intolerable ache that can only be soothed with drink, or the warmth of a willing partner.” He glanced up at her, knowing that she was studying him. He saw a little smile growing in the corner of her mouth.
“And have you indulged in such healing practices?”
She knew him well enough to know the truth. So this was her habit of teasing him, and it was utterly delightful and tantalizing. God, how he had missed it, and her. He grinned.
“Drink?” he said, “Yes. I freely admit to emptying many flagons. But women…”
The suddenness of the response was a dare. He knew it to be so, and he was tempted to mention the wench that had propositioned him, just to toy with her. But he found himself uninterested in playing games at that moment.
“I have but one mistress. And I thank the maker for having her returned to me.”
Her smile was such a joy, and he expressed his thankfulness with many kisses. The closeness of her stirred his senses, igniting a desire to feel her entirely against him. But her riding cloak was covering most of her. It was in the way, and he intended to be rid of it quickly, pulling at the clasp at her neck. But he paused at the weary sound of her voice.
“My love, this is all very well. But rushing to your side has made me quite tired and hungry. You will indulge me, dear husband.”
A momentary feeling of displeasure crossed his mind. He wanted so badly to be with her. For a moment he was tempted to have the pleasure of her and damn all other concerns, and he knew that if he was persistent enough, she would comply. But he loved her too well to be a complete brute. She would soon reward him if he showed tenderness – that he knew from experience. And she deserved every ounce of devotion he was capable of.
“Come,” he said. “You will sit and rest.”
She nodded, unfastening her cloak and draping it over a chair – and all the while he watched her, taking in every graceful and feminine movement. The way her hands arched in a delicate fashion. The way she reached up to lift the thickness of her hair from her neck. Lord, she was such a temptation, even in her sober black traveling gown. Despite his better intentions, he was sorely tempted to pounce on her like a hungry wolf – so strong was his desire for her at that moment. But relying on a soldier’s sense of self-command, he held back the wild impulse, and was satisfied instead – for the moment - with sweeping her off her feet, much to her surprise. She gave a soft cry of shock, but laughed.
“Guy, what are you doing?”
Carrying her to the window seat, he smiled. “I am indulging you, as requested.”
Just as he sat her down – stealing a soft kiss as he rose to a standing position – the door opened. He turned and saw Frances, who was carrying a tray and a wine jug.
“At last! I have been calling for you! Lady Cassia is here, and she requires nourishment…”
“Yes, my lord. I have brought something already.”
Placing the tray on a table, Frances removed the linen cover to reveal a rind of cheese and a bowl of fruit. He began filling the two goblets on the tray, much to Guy’s surprise. Cassia reached out and took his hand. Looking down at her, he saw her smile.
“I encountered Frances on the stairs and asked him to bring up a tray.”
Always a step ahead – that was his beloved. His mood was more blissful than it had been in a very long time. She had made it so. He was not required to be generous to a servant, and his servant was not expected to hope for generosity from his master. But as he dismissed Frances for the night, he put several gold coins in his palm and ordered him to enjoy himself until morning in any way he pleased. After the delighted valet left, Guy turned back to Cassia with a certain smile of his own. The corner of his mouth crinkled up in a grin.
“Alone at last,” he said, his words full of obvious meaning. But she just looked at him with a teasing expression.
“Yes, and I am famished. Before you have your way, I will have mine. Please bring the tray and sit with me. We will eat and talk. Get these important matters out of the way.”
“What matters more than you and I?” he asked, carrying the tray over and placing it on a side-table that was within reach. Taking her by the hand, he made her stand so he could sit down – and placed her on his knee. It felt glorious to have her this way, and he kissed her forehead and cheek.
“The children are well again,” she said, her tone becoming more serious. And at the mention of Thea and William, the mood became more sober. He cursed himself for having put them from his mind, even for just a short time.
“Thank God for that,” was his true reply. He sighed, resting his cheek against her hair. “Damn the measles, and all sicknesses of any sort. I have feared for them so, and not being at home…”
“Do not feel guilty, my love. This journey of yours took you away, but fear no longer. Matilda and I kept vigil over them during their recovery, and by the grace of heaven, they are healthy once more.”
Her reassurances were welcome, but still he felt the sting of guilt. He had wanted to stay home, knowing how terrified she had been at the dreadful illness their children suffered from. It was known to ravage even the healthiest body, causing blindness or paralysis – and death. Especially in ones so young. He shuddered at the thought of it. But damn his required duties as a nobleman, he had been expected to leave his family despite his concerns. It was more important, according to society, that he see to his business and leave the worrying up to his wife.
“Damn all expectations,” he muttered, not intending for her to hear – but she did. Sharp-eared thing that she was. Lifting her head, she looked into his eyes, studying him. He brushed his fingertips over her cheek. “Forgive me for not being at your side.”
She pressed a finger to his lips. “Hush, my lord husband. Put it from your mind. You had important business to attend to. Which begs the question – were your negotiations successful?”
As she ate an apple from the tray, his mood changed again. Thinking of the business that had brought him here in the first place, he grumbled his reply.
On her face, he saw the beginning of a smile. “Why regrettably?”
She knew very well the reason why. She was just waiting for him to say it, which he did with surliness.
“I have found our daughter a husband, and I am not ashamed to say it was a most unpleasant business for me. I would prefer it if Thea would grow and become a spinster.”
Her giggle was a merry sound. “This nonsense again,” she said, placing her free hand on his face, and she kissed him sweetly. “Oh, Guy. You are so delightful when you are fatherly.”
He truly did hate the matter of marriage contracts – and his grumblings about them were genuine. But in them, he found a measure of deep contentment in knowing that they always led to attention from her. Her kisses and smiles were such joys to him. He could not remain disagreeable in her presence – especially when her kisses tasted sweeter than usual, bettered by the apple. But she wanted so much more than a few gentle brushes of her lips against his. Being a father was one thing – being a husband was something else entirely. Gathering her closer, his arms tight around her waist, he brushed his nose and chin against her neck, feeling her give a little shiver. His words were playfully harsh.
“Troublesome witch, never allowing your husband to utter his complaints.”
His lips pressed against the hollow of her throat, and he felt her hand against the back of his head, holding him in place. The urgency in her voice was clear, even as she scolded him.
“You DO utter your complaints – frequently! And then I must force myself on you in order to find peace in our household. My duties as a wife are an endless burden.”
Their eyes met, full of fire, as he pressed his forehead against hers.
“Well they are a burden you must endure.”
“Brute!” she cursed him.
He knocked the apple out of her hand. “Harpy!”
A brief moment passed between them as they shared a burning look. Moments later she was lying in bed on her back, pinned down by his weight as they shared an opened-mouth ravishment of a kiss. They paused only for moments, untying laces and buckles. She smiled up at him, a devilish expression.
“Your fellows downstairs are probably wondering about you. By now I am certain they heard that a woman is in your chamber.”
“Damn their souls,” he replied, pulling at the stubborn laces of her dress.
“But we should not disappoint them,” she said in return, her fingers yanking his shirt loose from his breeches. “Let us give them something to talk about…”