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Ultimately, it was the stab of light that tore at the veil of darkness Marguerite had chosen to draw over her consciousness. The veil that blocked out the pain. The pain of memories, the pain that wrecked her body, the pain that was barely concealed in Henry’s eyes every time she regained consciousness and gazed at his face. She did not wish to confront the darkness that had been visited upon her scarcely a month ago. She chose the darkness of sleep and oblivion. Burrowing deep into that black pit, she wished it would allow her to deny the tragedy of her continuing existence. And a tragedy it was, a lesson her own family taught her in recent weeks.
She remembered the first meeting with her parents after she was returned to Henry’s estate. While her parents had been civil in Henry’s presence, it had been very different when Henry excused himself to allow them some privacy. Her mother had dissolved into tears as she decried her misfortune in having such a daughter that brought disgrace and misfortune to the family. Growing increasingly hysterical, Lady Crofts asked what had been so wrong in Marguerite’s conduct that brought such disaster upon her and her companions. The blame that Cicely’s parents had heaped upon Lady Crofts for their daughter’s suffering was unloaded in its entirety upon Marguerite. Not quite believing her ears, Marguerite looked to her father. A glance at his implacable expression made Marguerite’s heart sink.
Deliberately avoiding even looking in her direction, Lord Crofts announced in a dispassionate and cold voice that Marguerite was henceforth on her own, disavowed by the family and forbidden to contact or make claims on them.
Stunned into silence, Marguerite tried to defend herself. “Why? Why are you doing this to me?”
“It is not my lack of…morals, or my behaviour that brought this disaster. It was William, the son of your friend, who caused this. He kidnapped Cicely, Mary and me and offered us to the Brotherhood… All because I refused his offer of marriage.”
Marguerite fairly screamed those last words as tears obscured her view of her parents.
Her father’s shaking of his head and the look of disbelief on his face brought a wave of nausea that almost overwhelmed Marguerite.
“No, William is too honourable a young man to have done what you accuse him of. I have known his father for decades, his son will never do something so despicable. Marguerite, how could you cast such imputations upon the character of such an honourable gentleman just to save yourself. Do you really think anyone will believe the lies you weave?”
The look of disgust and the cruel sneer upon her father’s face, accompanied by her mother’s endless sniffles, made Marguerite double over in dry heaves.
Fortunately, she was spared the need to respond by Henry’s sudden entry. The punch he threw at Lord Crofts made it clear he had heard much of the conversation.
“What is the meaning of this, your Grace? Surely, you do not believe the lies of this little trollop. She is merely attempting to rescue herself.”
“You, sir, will leave my estate and never set foot upon it for the rest of your life. And if you ever besmirch Marguerite with your blind aspersions, you will suffer the consequences.”
“Your Grace, surely you do not believe her or intend to continue the engagement, not when she has been so disgraced. She will only bring dishonour upon you.” Lord Crofts continued unwisely, as he lay sprawled across the floor.
“You will leave before you test my patience any further. I will communicate in future only through my solicitors.” Henry pronounced coldly as the sputtering Lord Crofts was assisted by his wife.
“And Crofts,” the duke continued, fixing his glare on the man who he once regarded as his future father-in-law. “You will do as I say or face ruin. And you know I am certainly capable of ruining you.”
Henry watched dispassionately as Lord Crofts paled. The old man evidently wanted to defend himself but thought the better of it and scurried out the door with his wife.
The tension in Henry’s shoulders ebbed slightly as he turned back to Marguerite, whose dry heaving had turned to silent tears. Uncertain of what he could possibly say to comfort her, Henry could only hold her till her tears ceased.
When Marguerite moved out of his embrace to sit upright, Henry spoke his first words after the altercation with her parents. “My love, have no fear, I will ensure your family accepts you once again. I will do all within my power..”
Marguerite’s finger against his lips stopped Henry from speaking further.
” Bostancı Escort No, Henry. That is of little use, I have lived among strangers all my life it seems and I have no wish to foist myself upon them any longer.”
The silent question of what Marguerite’s future would be lingered in the air between them. Aware that Marguerite did not wish to address that issue at present, Henry gave Marguerite her dose of sleeping draught that had become almost customary. Trying not to show his awareness of her shrinking away from his touch, Henry pressed a chaste kiss to Marguerite’s forehead before leaving the chamber.
The hysterical screams and sobs that echoed through the mansion brought Marguerite to her feet. Tearing through the hallway, she reached the guestroom where two maids, with the assistance of Mary, were trying to restrain Cicely who was in one of her outbursts that had grown more frequent in recent days.
“Begging pardon milady, Miss is trying to throw herself out the window again.” A maid tried to explain after Marguerite had helped calm Cicely as they coaxed and put her back in bed. The pain etched on Cicely’s face and the wild state of her hair brought new pain to Marguerite. Biting back useless tears, Marguerite stroked Cicely’s hair, noting the new spots of blood that dotted Cicely’s nightgown. Without flinching, Marguerite looked to check that the stitches on Cicely’s mound had not been torn in one of her frenzied outbursts as had happened only three days ago. Cicely was starting to heal physically but Marguerite feared the same could not be said for her mind. Noting the worry on Marguerite’s face, Mary tried to reassure her mistress. “My lady, do not worry, time will heal us all.”
Grateful for the loyalty of her maid where only condemnation came from her own family, Marguerite hugged the maid who was barely a year older than her.
“Are you still troubled by those night fears?”
Marguerite asked with trepidation, knowing all three were plagued by night fears frequently in their first weeks of recovery. Mary shook her head even as her trembling hands proved her lie.
“Mary, you need not comfort me by concealing those fears,” Marguerite said softly as she gripped her maid’s hands.
“No, my lady, they are truly fading. I…I am uneasy because I have not had my courses since…since that night.”
Staring in horror at Mary, Marguerite realised the import of her words. At Mary’s pointed glance at Cicely, Marguerite’s horror grew.
With some effort, Marguerite stemmed the bile that threatened to rise and reassured the worried maid that she would find a solution.
Marguerite was not surprised to find Henry waiting for her outside the guestroom. They had become accustomed to these night rituals, Marguerite thought with bitter irony.
The lines of exhaustion that ran along Henry’s beautiful face brought a familiar ache to Marguerite’s chest. They also brought an understanding that the present situation was untenable.
Marguerite’s request to retire to the study for a discussion surprised Henry. Seeing the firmness and resolve in her expression that had disappeared since that disastrous night brought both relief and unease to Henry.
As he watched Marguerite seat herself across from him, Henry felt himself dreading what she had to say.
Forcing herself to get the words out of her mouth rapidly, Marguerite spoke without hesitation, avoiding Henry’s gaze.
“Henry, you must announce that our engagement is off.”
Holding up her hand to forestall his protest even as Henry jumped to his feet, Marguerite soldiered on. “You must, Henry. You know, the ton has heard the gossip that has spread since that morning I arrived on your doorstep with Cicely and Mary.”
“You know I do not care for the ton or its opinion-“
“I care, Henry. And unless you wish to increase my misery, you will not insist on continuing our engagement. For all purposes, Marguerite Crofts, your fiancée, has ceased to exist since the attack.”
“No, you are alive and I still love you, that is all that matters.”
“Stop fooling yourself, Henry. You know that even your position and power cannot completely protect me from society. The best I can hope for is to disappear from society and for all to regard Marguerite Crofts as one who has never existed in this world.”
“No! That cannot be. I will not allow that! No one would dare to insult me or my family, they will accept what I say.”
Glancing with weariness at her fiancé, Marguerite knew he was in denial. “You know the truth Kadıköy Escort is far from what you have said. The ton will condemn me if I dare to defy the rules and reenter society. A ruined woman will never be accepted back into its fold. This is something we have to accept. Not even a duke can change that.”
Grasping desperately for a solution, Henry’s next words came without thought.
“Why will you not reveal the names of your attackers? Surely you know some of them. Was William Wentworth not one of them? Marguerite, I heard his name among others that you kept repeating when you were in a delirium those first days after you returned. Once they are brought to justice, things will be…”
Henry’s voice trailed off as even he realised how impractical his words were. No, Marguerite was right, the ton would never accept her again, however unjust it may be.
“Henry, you have seen how my own father reacted to the truth I revealed of William. Do you really think society will react differently? Gentlemen are rarely doubted or blamed but for women, that is hardly the case. They will excuse William and the Brotherhood, but they will never excuse me for my loss of virtue even if I did not cause it.”
“Henry, you must let me go. I could not bear it if I dragged you into the mud along with me.”
The stubborn set of Henry’s jaw told Marguerite he was unconvinced.
Swiftly snatching up the sharp letter opener on his desk, Marguerite held it to her neck before Henry could react.
“Promise me, Henry, you will make the announcement soon.”
Fearful of triggering an act of desperation, Henry sought to distract Marguerite. “Where can you possibly go? You have seen your parents’ reactions, they will not offer you safe haven.”
“They will, if you convince them. I doubt my father prefers ruin to sacrificing a small estate. Swear you will do what I ask of you, now, Henry.”
Henry nodded slowly, hoping to placate her.
Even as Henry’s hands wrestled with hers for control of the letter opener, Marguerite stared intently at his face and features, etching his image into her memory for all the lonely years that stretched in front of her in her mind’s eye.
Henry’s triumph at having successfully gaining control over her weapon was short-lived.
“Henry, remember your vow. You must fulfill your oath. If you do not, you will find me dead. You may watch me to prevent that but you cannot watch me all the time. “
The steely look in Marguerite’s eyes made Henry realise she was deadly serious.
Crushing her frail frame to his, he cried, “How am I to live the rest of my life without you? It is too much to ask of me. Please…”
Restraining the emotions and tears that threatened her resolve, Marguerite replied shakily. “We will learn to live without each other if that is what it takes to ensure you are untouched by this horror.”
Meaning to offer only consolation, Marguerite lifted her lips to Henry’s for the first time since the attack. The bittersweet kiss exploded into carnal desire as Marguerite sought to push the awful memories of the attack out of her head and Henry sought to reclaim what was his. As his lips trailed down her neck and his hands caressed her nipples into aching points, Marguerite drew back as apprehension filled her. Henry looked up with some disappointment, but concern quickly tempered his rampant desire.
“Did I cause you pain? I am sorry. Is it too soon?”
“No, no…” Marguerite moved to reassure him. “Do-ddon’t you find me dirty? All those men..that night,” she asked hesitatingly, her eyes cast down, in fear of seeing disgust enter his face.
Lifting her chin, Henry stared into the face of his beloved fiancée and said steadily, “No. And nothing will ever change what is between us. I was the first to take you and since then, nothing has or will ever stand between us.”
With tears in her eyes, Marguerite moved sensually down the front of Henry. She knew her boldness pleased him as he sprang to life in her hands when she freed him from his dressing gown. Staring at the growing proof of his desire, she willed away the unbidden images of the grotesque tools of the men of the Brotherhood who raped her. As her lips tentatively closed upon the bulbous head of Henry’s arousal, she heard a groan from deep inside his throat and was amazed how such a sound that had disgusted her the night of the attack was now reaffirming her prowess as a female. Desperately wishing to give Henry as much pleasure as possible, she tried to take as much of him into her mouth as possible, almost gagging as Göztepe Escort its swelling head hit the back of her throat.
Henry knew he was near spending as he jerked frantically in Marguerite’s mouth. Growing lust battled the initial surprise he felt when Marguerite took him into her mouth, she had been hesitant and reluctant when he had first taught her to please him that way. Now, she seemed almost desperate to bring him to climax in this fashion. A sudden flash of realization crossed Henry’s mind, she was trying to reaffirm herself as a woman. The emotional force of that realization barely had time to register itself in his brain before a rainbow of pleasure took its place as he exploded in her mouth. Marguerite swallowed the copious flow from Henry’s manhood, letting it chase away the bitterness of the attack, replacing it with the tart tang of Henry.
Pulling away at last, Henry lifted Marguerite onto his table, sweeping away all objects and obstacles before laying her on its surface. The beauty of Marguerite had never failed to amaze him and her delicate condition upon recovery merely enhanced that. As his semi-hard manhood started to flex at the sight of his fiancée spread out before him, covered only by a diaphanous nightgown that concealed but also suggested the treasures underneath it, Henry gave himself a stern warning to slow his pace lest he scare her. Kissing the mouth that brought him such pleasure just moments ago, he tasted himself and was surprised to find it more arousing than previous experiences had been. Skilfully using his hands and lips to bring her breasts and its sensitive points to aching desire, he sought to revive the desire that had lain dormant since the attack, buried under the pain, horror and fear that the attack had brought. Slowly and carefully, he raised and bent her knees before his lips moved down in a trail across her thighs. Feeling his lips on the raised skin of the hideous brand, Marguerite cried out in panic, “No!”
“My love, do not be ashamed of something you were not responsible for, let me love you and heal you.”
As Marguerite’s protests subsided, Henry moved to the apex of her thighs and started to explore her core, starting with her outer lips. Marguerite’s gasp of pleasure as his tongue licked skilfully at her portal, making the lips tingly and plump even as his fingers stroked across the nub hidden in her hood. Henry could feel her edging closer to climax as she bucked and thrust towards his mouth. He felt triumphant when she cried out in pleasure and her juices poured into his mouth.
Watching as the last tremors ran through her, Henry moved to place himself right at the entrance to her portal. While Marguerite did not flinch, her stiff stillness was clear indication of her fear. Henry watched her intently as he rubbed the head of his manhood across her wet lips and lodged just the head of it in her portal. Marguerite braced herself for the pain she expected but was surprised by the tiny sparks of pleasure as Henry glided slowly into her. All thoughts of proceeding slowly vanished as Marguerite raised her legs and locked him in.
“Love, no, I do not wish to hurt you…”
Henry’s voice trailed off into a groan as Marguerite began thrusting her hips towards him. Watching Henry’s face closely, Marguerite realised that the wonderful tendrils of pleasure spreading through her were mirrored in his face as he seemed to delight in her response. Though he was larger than her abusers, Henry was careful not to allow himself to hurt her. Thrusting slowly till he felt her impatience, Henry brought Marguerite to the brink of pleasure, without allowing either of them to tip over. He softly asked her to open her eyes. “Look at me, love, from this moment, you will only remember me.”
Marguerite felt the moment sear itself into her memory as both were lost in the moment of pleasure. Refusing to let the precious moment slip from her grasp, Marguerite clasped both her legs around Henry’s waist, locking him within her. If only she had not lost the babe, she would have a small part of Henry for herself through all the dark years ahead, she thought with grief and bitterness.
Henry roused himself, fearing he was crushing her. Marguerite’s refusal to release him brought a rueful smile as he shifted them onto their sides, still locked together. Perhaps there was a way to change her mind after all…
To be continued…
Thank you to readers for suggestions and responses via email and comments. Hope you like the direction this story has taken. As this is not part of the original storyline, I’m still undecided about the revenge angle though the basic structure is already there. The next two chapters may be a bit more violent and hopefully they won’t put off too many readers. For readers who like the original story, part 2 is out in stores!
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