A Woman of Good Reputation

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 11 (v.1)

Submitted: June 02, 2007

Reads: 665

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Submitted: June 02, 2007



"Is this all your land?"

Stephen squinted into the hills rolling into the setting sun. "My father's land."

"How can the Merritts be desperate for money?" she asked, in wonder.

Stephen snorted. "Decades of mismanagement, that's how."

She looked at him frankly. "Do the men in your family not have a head for numbers?"

"The men in my family do not have any sense of responsibility."

"Has that particular affliction skipped you?"

"It seems to have, yes."

"Good," she said.

They lapsed back into a pleasant silence. The ride out had been a hard gallop. He was pleased to find she rode well. No one would ever say his wife was not accomplished. Most of the ride back had been a gentle canter. Neither pace had given them much opportunity for conversation. They had slowed the horses to a walk now, approaching the stables, cooling them down a bit.

"Well, your horses are fine," she said, after a moment.

"That is, I confess, my doing. I am loathe to spend money on luxuries, but one must have a good horse."

"We agree on that point," she smiled at him, then leaned over and patted the sweat off her horse's neck. She was silent for a moment. Then she said, hesitantly, "Is there a chance that I could be with child?"

He regarded her in surprise. She was not looking at him. Did women really not know these things? Did they honestly keep them this innocent? "No."

She looked at him then. "No chance at all?" she asked, a bit wistfully.

"We never did anything that would create a child."

"I see," she said, thoughtfully, looking off in the distance.

"You would like a child, wouldn't you?" he said, after a moment.

"Very much." She glanced at him. "Am I that obvious?"

"No more obvious than I. How many would you like?"

"Oh, twenty or thirty at least, my lord."

He shouted laughter. "You will keep me busy."

"And they will keep me busy." She looked pleased with that.

He ventured, "I never cared much for the idea that my children might love their nanny better than they loved me."

She sent him a look of surprise "Why would you think that, my lord?"

"Because I loved my nanny much more than I loved either of my parents."

"But you are very unlike your father, Stephen. And I am very unlike your mother. Or so I should hope."

He chuckled. There was a moment of silence between them. "Yesterday you were talking to me of marriages built on love."


"And then, shortly after that, you were encouraging me to take Lady Meredith as a mistress."

"Y-yes," she admitted.

"What happened to make you think I would find that idea at all palatable?"

She looked at him. "Don't you?"

"Don't I what?"

"Find her palatable?"

"No. Not at all. It is you I want. I thought I had made that clear."

"Not clear at all, my lord."

"Are we going to discuss again how I did not call on you for a fortnight? I am heartily sorry for that."

"If it is me that you want," she said in confusion, "why did you leave my room last night?"

"I will not have you that way." The stable had come into view ahead of them. He looked closely at it as they approached. "I will not have you say my lord at me."

"Why not?"

"It is not what I want." He looked at her then. "Would you like me to say my lady at you in bed?"

"I do not want you to say that to me at all," she said, in distaste.

"And yet you persist in calling me ‘my lord.'"

She was silent for a moment. "Why do they all call you Chesham?"

"It is my title."

"I do not mean-Your sisters. Even your parents. Why do they all call you Chesham?"

"I have already answered that question," he said, a trifle irritated.

"No wonder you hate when I ‘my lord' you," she remarked. "Have you ever had anyone call you Stephen before?"

"Rose calls me Stephen."

"She calls you Uncle Stephen."

"Well, she is my niece."

"How hard did you have to fight to be Uncle Stephen and not Uncle Chesham?" He did not answer. "Your title is not the most important thing about you."

He laughed a bit. "You speak like an American. Of course my title is the most important thing about me. Without my title, I am nothing. Without my title, I do not even have you."

"That is not true. It matters not to me what your title is."

"Do you really think your father would have let you marry me had I not been Earl of Chesham?"

"What choice did he have? You had ruined me."

"I had really not. Not if he kept it quiet. No one would ever know. He would never have kept it quiet because he wanted you to be the Duchess of Camberley. And thus we sit here today, riding toward the Camberley stables." He said this as they entered the stable yard. A groom came up to him, and he slid off his horse and handed him the reins.

He then walked over to her, fastened his hands around her waist and lifted her out of her saddle, setting her down on the cobblestones in front of him.

"Stephen," she said, softly, looking up into his gray eyes.


The wind had blown a lock of his hair the wrong way on his head. She reached out and fixed it. "Your title is not the most important thing about you." And then she leaned up and kissed him.

There was a moment when he hesitated to respond. It would not be a good idea to respond, he warned himself. In the next moment, he groaned and crushed her to him, wrapping his arms around the wondrous curves of her body and pressing her close against him and plundering her mouth with his tongue, sliding against hers.

She tipped toward him, against him, slipped her hands into his hair and dipped her tongue into his mouth for a taste. "Mmm," was what she said, shifting their fit to give herself better access to his mouth.

Stephen shattered. He felt himself lose his mind, realized it dimly, as he stumbled across the uneven cobblestones, his arms full of the bundle of his wife and his mouth frantic not to lost contact with hers.

He reached, grasping backward for the entry to the stables. They crashed inelegantly into a stone wall but he absorbed all of the impact, and did not notice it anyway. The kiss was getting wet and messy and urgent. She made a sound in the back of her throat, striving on tiptoe for deeper access to him. He gave it to her, lifting her until her toes cleared the ground, and she made a sound of affirmation. He heard himself groan helplessly into her mouth.

Balancing her weight, he twirled them through the door to the stables. He sensed they were inside and lifted his head away from her for a fleeting instant, taking in the astonished grooms. "Out, out, out," he growled at them.

"Stephen-" she began

He cut her off by capturing her mouth again. He'd put her down, her feet solidly on the ground, although she could not feel it. She could feel nothing but him, his hands possessively on her waist. He tore his mouth away from hers, dragging it down her neck. He found the race of her pulse point and bit at it. She gasped with pleasure, knees buckling, eyes closing with it.

He found what he wanted: a solid, unyielding wall that she backed up against. He looked up briefly, saw, through the haze of his passion, that the grooms had abandoned the stable, and someone had done him the favor of slamming shut the stable doors. He reached for the damnable layers of his wife's skirts, gathering them up frantically, trying to rip them out of his way.

She opened her eyes, looking at him from under heavy lids. "What are you doing?"

"Help me, will you?" he asked, impatiently. "Hold them for me." He thrust great bunches of cloth into her hands.

"Are you doing what you did before?" she asked, already feeling breathless with anticipation.

"I promise I'll do that later," he assured her, tightly, fumbling momentarily with his pants.

She frowned a bit. "Later? But-"

He paused, looking down at his wife, with her skirts gathered in her arms, collecting himself for a second. "I think this is going to hurt you."

Her frown deepened. "Hurt me?"

"Just a bit. Just because it is the first time."

"Stephen, I don't want this," she decided. "Do what you did before."

"Not right now."


He watched her eyes flicker closed, as he slid his hand between his legs.

"That's nice, too," she told him, smiling, as he coaxed her legs open. "You're wrong. That doesn't hurt-ow." Her eyes shot open as he thrust his way inside her.

He had thought one single quick thrust would be the best way of doing it. But her cry of pain, as it ripped through him, made him rethink that now that it was too late. "I'm sorry," he said. "Sorry, sorry, sorry." He rained kisses on her shoulder.

"Stop this," she said, sounding shaken.

"Oh, please don't make me stop," he begged her, leaning his forehead against hers and fighting for his breath. He knew he had hurt her, and he could not bear to withdraw from her. She was probably going to hate him, he thought. And he could not make himself stop.

"It is better the other way," she informed him, affronted.

"Not for me it is not. Besides, this is how we get to have children."

She wrinkled her nose. "Like this?"

"Exactly so."

She was silent for a second. "You are telling the truth?"

His breath tore out of him harshly. It was killing him not to move. "Yes."

She shifted a bit. He bit back an oath. But, even more surprising, he noticed that she said, sounding surprised, "Oh."

He lifted his head. "Oh?"

Understanding was dawning on her face. "There is more to this, isn't there?"

He moved inside her, slowly, purposefully.

"Oh," she said again.

He moved again, bracing the palms of his hands against the wall. His wife, a quick study, tipped up to meet his thrusts. He found a tempo, listening to his own desperate gasps for breath, to Abby's soft exclamations. She let go of her skirts, clutched at his shirt, feeling the racing of her heart as he drove into her. This, she thought, was the least proper and most divine thing in the world.

"Stephen," she begged him.

He groaned against her neck. "Oh, Abby, Abby," he murmured. "My God, I-"

"Yes, yes, yes." She threw her head back, arched against him and into him. His rhythm was growing quick. Urgency licked through her. His hands left the wall, drifted over her, fit her against him. Instinct washed over her. Desperate for something she could never have named, confident he would hold her weight, she wrapped her legs suddenly around his waist.

He gasped, and for a moment she wondered if she should not have done that. And then he said, "My God, yes. Take me deeper. How can you possibly feel better than I imagined?" He caught her mouth in a half-mad kiss.

She tore her mouth away from. "Breathe," she managed. "I need to breathe. Oh, God. Stephen, please. Please." The pleasure slammed into her then, ripped through her, and she felt herself lost, riding off with it into magic.

He felt her climax, felt her shudder with it, heard her shout his name on the driving force of it, and it whipped him into his own, and he was vaguely aware that he cried her name into the curve of her neck, and then he was aware of nothing but how utterly, fabulously fantastic his wife was.

He slid to the floor. He could not have stood up if his life depended on it. He landed in a disgraceful heap in the middle of all the straw, and Abby landed with the same lack of grace on top of him, and he collapsed backward and tried to catch his breath. Abby sprawled over him, her breath as ragged as his, still shivering with the licking aftermaths of her splintering climax.

"Bloody hell," he gasped, staring at the ceiling of the stables above him. Had he just taken his wife's virginity against the wall of the Camberley stables? He was dimly aware of the snorting of horses in stalls up and down the main walkway.

Abby, head dropped limply on his chest, said, "Was that not good?"

"That was bloody magnificent. And I don't even care at this moment if you didn't think so. That was bloody magnificent."

"No one warned me it would be like that."

"I suppose I should have explained it better. I didn't know that was my job."

"No, not the mechanics of it. I mean the marvel of it."

The marvel of it. Stephen, feeling pleased with himself, smiled in a self-satisfied manner up at the ceiling.

"I am very tired," she said. "Will you take me into the house?"

"In a moment."

"Why a moment? I am going to fall asleep here on the stable floor."

"I am not capable of moving just now. Give me a moment."

"I am not capable of moving either. Is that normal?" She sounded suddenly worried.

Stephen considered. He had never felt so sated in his life. He thought it would be years before he gathered enough energy to walk into the house. It was definitely not normal. It was a thousand times better than normal. He let his eyes drift shut, thinking a quick doze might help. "It is normal when the sex is spectacular," he mumbled.

She was silent. Underneath her, he had managed to catch his breath. His breaths were deepening, evening out. She still felt slightly short of breath. And, although she was exhausted, she also felt too strange to fall asleep. She felt almost as if the preceding abrupt interlude had happened to someone else, not her. They had been moments of the utmost insanity. He had treated her in a most unladylike manner, and she had done nothing to stop him. At points she had urged him on. And so she had been introduced to the first delights of her marriage bed in a stable.

He seemed to be well-pleased, though, if the effusion of his chosen adjectives was any indication. She had not just lain there. But then, they had not been laying down at all. Confused, she tried to determine if she had behaved correctly. He did not seem to think that she hadn't.

She was startled by a sound very like a snore, and she lifted her head and looked down at him. He was sleeping. Actually sleeping, sprawled out on the filthy straw. In sleep he looked surprisingly defenseless and alarmingly young. She had never thought of him as being either. She was seized with a sudden impulse to protect him and keep him safe, a sudden aching of her heart. He was not happy, she knew. She had never seen him look even slightly happy until that afternoon, playing croquet, when his gray eyes had seemed so light and unworried that they could almost have been a pure, pale blue.

She buried her head against the soft cloth of his shirt, breathing him in and wishing she could absorb all the unhappiness that she sensed in him, absorb it and bury it deep inside her, far away from him, so that he would be left with nothing but the delightful exuberance with which he had lived that particular day with her. And then she admitted it, out loud, in a tiny whisper she was confident he would not hear, into the uninterrupted rhythm of his slight snores. "Oh, Stephen. I really think I may love you."

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