I'm participating in the kissing blogfest hosted by Sherrinda over at A Writer Wannabe Making A Dream Become Reality if you want in just followed the link and sign up.
One morning in April
Miss Claire Maxwell made the relatively short trip from her late papa’s employee’s estate in Regents Park to her first position as ladies companion in Portman Square with near relief coursing through her veins. All had been strained after her papa’s will was read thought there was no surprise revelation.
Her bothers were given the bulk of his small estate to purchase promotions and secure their futures in the military. What remained was meant to see her mother into her old age and so it was decided that she would accept a lady’s position there in London, while her sister Eleanor would endeavour to make an advantageous match during Bath’s little season.
A month after all was settled arrangements where made for her to take a position assisting Viscountess Westmorland present her twin daughters to the ton for one season then follow her mother and sister to Bath.
Needless to say, things did not go as planned. Her sister, a year her senior and of beauty unparalleled, was meant to partake of Bath’s little season in a sort of limited capacity due to required mourning observation for their father and the family’s meagre income with the hope that she could lure a husband wealthy enough to allow for Claire’s introduction to society.
Only Eleanor fell in love and married the modest second son of a lowly baron, which, as it turned, out was just fine with Claire for she too had fallen in love.
She arrived at the Viscountess’ elegant townhouse shortly after nine o’clock and was place in a stunning French style salon done in delicate blues, dove-grays and a tastefully restrained gilded wall. It was in that room that she met the man of her life, Lord Henry St John the new Viscount Westmorland.
He too was reeling from the loss of his father and had, the moment after her arrival, returned from a night of debauchery with two his rowdy friends in tow. She could hear the little butler’s horrified ‘My Lords,’ as he censured the young men who called for food in loud bellows, then receding footstep and laughing voices.
Then he was inside the door with a disarming smile and the slow measured words of one who had clearly had too much to drink.
“Are you an angel?” he asked after rudely staring.
“I am not,” she had replied with an amused smile, her hazel eyes sparking more green than amber.
“And still your halo blinds me.”
“It’s but the effect of my offensive hair by the mornings light,” she assured him and he stepped forward with a steady, serious expression then he kneeled down before her as devout worshipper.
He stayed thus, then with hand so gentle, he brushed a stray curl from her face and rested it behind her ear his words an insistent hush, “Celestial light goddess. Your hair is no less than heavenly and you are as Aphrodite swept from the ocean to make light this lowly mortal’s existence.”
He had seen her as beautiful where most all since the onset of puberty had viewed her as wanton, due largely to her preposterously furious tresses and overly voluptuous body.
She had, until that moment, felt akin to a gigantic girl with a too pretty face made undesirable for her vulgar excesses. She stood a daunting five foot seven inches and weighed somewhere between ten and eleven stones which made her feel more like Norman Conqueror than gentile a miss.
It meant everything to her that this smiling elegant gentleman thought her a beautiful goddess, even if he was foxed out of his mind and had yet to see her rise to her full height. His hand was still on her face, his clear blue eyes sparkling from beneath ridiculously long lashes as his stare turned from observant to sensual.
“I should like to kiss you goddess,” he said with fermented whisper, “Will you allow it?”
She did not see how she could deny it of him when he had in one instant transformed her. She had been strangely calm in her giving. Touching her fingertips to the hard lines of his jaw before resting her cheek against the soft waves of his ash-blonde hair. He smelled warm, clean and potently masculine.
He was so close then, his face buried at her bosom, one of his hands wrapped around her waist the other still on her face. The atmosphere around them was charged with intent, intimacy and a sort of reverent hush that seemed to mark the moment as sacred.
Claire could no more stop her fingers exploring the contours of his face than she could slow the frantic beating of her heart. He had set her aflame and was pouring fuel upon her burning flesh with his hot breath and the sweet friction of his lips pulled tortuously slow from her bosom to column of her neck where he lingered.
Both their breaths rushing over anticipation as he kissed his way from neck over chin and onto her soft welcoming lips. His sure strong hand holding her close gripping hungrily in order to deepen their kiss. His lips on hers light as a whisper, then persistent, coaxing and blissfully probing.
It was at once ache and elation, them moulded together as tender lips parted to encourage the uninhibited licking and arousing suckling of tongues.
Then he pulled his lips from her held her eyes with solemn vow and said, “I am yours goddess.”
Claire put her hand on his cheek, her heart in her eyes and he turned his head to bury his face in her palm. His eyes closed as he pressed his lips to the inside of her hand before crumpling in a content sleeping ball at her feet. Claire leapt up, her still frantically beating heart suddenly in her throat.
She stooped down next to him with gentle hands that were only successful in pulling from him a content sigh and then she was set upon by his two companions followed closely by his irritated butler. He was lifted away by two footmen as his intoxicated friends laughed a round the mouthful of food they stole from the kitchen.
Then his mother entered the salon and shooing the two drunken louts to a waiting carriage and took her in hand with sincere apology for the conduct of her son. She was shown to her room in the family quarters with instruction to join them for tea.
She arrived in the salon early and sat quietly waiting with her back to the door when he entered sober, washed and impeccably dress with no recollection of the kiss they shared. He looked at her with polite curiosity and she prattled on nervously about the absurd colour of her hair that he had but hours before called divine light.
He would never sleep in residence again while she was there. He moved out that very afternoon back to the bachelor apartments he had occupied until his father’s death had made it necessary for him to come home.
They fell into easy conversation relating as old friends. They would remain thus nearly a full decade, she falling deeper in love with him with each passing day while he in a state of wounded suspension kept her just in his grasp, taking with him a bit more of her heart each time he called.
In their decade long friendship, she became a sort of unholy priest to his scandalous confessor. Listening without judgement to his descent into depravity feeling the whole time he would find his way to her. He was suffering from the loss of his Viola.
His sisters told her how Viola had after a lifetime of friendship and an entire season of courtship refused his offer of marriage to marry some dashing Spanish aristocrat. She separated from her husband only a year later and took Henry as a lover only to abandon him a week after his father’s death in order to give her marriage a second chance.
It had nearly killed him and he had been feeling the effect ever since. Not even Viola migrating to Spain had eased his despair. And then, last Christmas out of nowhere he invited the Winchilsea’s with their beautiful daughter Constance home for the holidays. They had all expected him to offer for her and that had nearly killed Claire.
When he didn’t Claire resolved to settle all with him and move forward with or without him.
Chapter One Here
A lovely week to all,
A lovely week to all,