Tuesday, 19 November 2013

NaNoWriMo Day 19 Word Count 1652

At the moment her lips touched his she felt suddenly insecure. Everything between them had been so bewildering to this point that she was for the first time in her life unsure about the reception her move would receive.

For his part he had been startled by the sudden kiss, but his impulse to retreat from such a brazen act was overcome by the shy hesitation, as her lips paused, soft against his, her held breath on the verge of mingling with his. At that point he took control, almost without conscious thought. He moved his mouth against hers to align their lips, ran his fingers into her hair and firmed the pressure of the kiss. It lasted maybe ten seconds before his warring confusion once again kicked in and he pulled himself away. He stared down at her, almost accusingly, and without a word, turned and left.

She was left, shaken and confused once again. She had absolutely no understanding of the conflicts of his upbringing and belief of what a lady versus a woman should be. She had no way of understanding that his mixed signals came from his inability to assign her to one category or another: lady or tramp. In his absence, she decided that it simply wasn't worth it; and she would rather investigate the more intense emotions she experienced around Sir Francis.

Having made a decision she did next what came naturally to her: she formed a plan to ensure her decision was seen through to fruition. That night she had a number of invitations to various events. Gathering them together, she flicked through until she found a large event which was guaranteed to appeal to a man of a certain social status who wasn't wholly abandoned to the pleasures of wine and gambling.

It was also an event she could attend in a slightly more glamorous and revealing gown than normal, without people thinking anything peculiar of it. Gathering her skirts she went to her bedroom and rang for Mary. Once she arrived Melissa requested a bath. Mary sent the instructions via a chamber maid and waited patiently for her mistress to make a further request. Melissa stood, gazing out of the window tapping the gilt edged invitation against her teeth for almost a full minute. At the end of that time she turned and gazed at Mary. “Peach, I think. Do I have something in peach silk or velvet with a low neckline and a lacy overskirt? Ideally with a little beading decorating it.”

Mary was startled. Melisa usually had a good idea of what her style for the night would be, but she had never been so specific before. She turned to the garderobe and sought through the amassed gowns, seeking the colour combination Melissa had requested. After a relatively shirt time she had found a velvet gown in the right shades, and a pair of silver spangled scarves that complemented it nicely. She suggested the dress could be marginally amended while Melissa bathed, if they could take a little time to fit it now.

Melissa consented to be helped nto the gown and the older woman began to drape and pin the two scarves around her form. As she watched the effect of the darker colour overlying the rich, yet delicate blush of peach, Mary realised the illusion Melissa was trying to create. She was, despite her broadminded nature, slightly shocked and hesitated breifly, but then simply carried on.

Finally, she stood back and observed the outcome of her handiwork. Melissa gazed critically into the mirror and was satisfied.

The lacy nature of the scarves allowed the colour and form of the underlying dress to show through, but they were sufficiently dark that the peach underneath disappeared against the distraction of the spangles and the details of the scarves. Because it faded into her skin tones at the neckline and arms, when Melissa was in a candlelit room out of the cold wintry sunlight, the suggestion would be that under the spangled scarves she would be nude.

Melissa smiled and disrobed. The process had taken over an hour and by now the clanking and splashing indicating a bath being filled had begun in the next room. Mary sat down to ply her needle as Melissa draped herself in a light robe and moved into the next room. There was a series of maids unloading water and one who had lined up her soap and other implements for the bath within easy reach. She checked the layout of the room to ensure that she would be able to reach everything she wanted as easily as possible.

She had been in the household long enough for her servants to be aware of her unusual desire for privacy while she bathed and one of them wordlessly positioned a series of screens that would enable a tub of hot water to be brought up as she bathed, which she would retrieve herself when she wanted a little heat boost.

She reclined in the large tub – she had it specially made after attempting one hip bath and deciding that even if money had been an issue she wasn't putting up with that. It took significantly longer to fill and several test runs had proved that for her enjoyment the water really did cool too quickly. Regardless, she had now settled happily and lay, gazing at the ceiling. For a while she planned her seduction of Sir Francis. Then she took a brief detour into the possibility of painting the ceiling so she had something to look at as she bathed,. Then she decided she was cold and topped up her bath. Finally she returned to her contemplation of the ceiling and planned once more how she would bring matters with Sir Francis to a head.

Some time later she arrived at the ball. Through the crowds she was unable to see the blond giant. It was not long she was left alone to do that; within moments several gentlemen attended to her and although she already knew the majority it was clear that her choice of gown had expanded her circle of admirers immediately. Hopefully it woulf have a similar impact on Sir Francis.

It was almost two hours later before she became aware of the gentleman himself. She was whirling round the dance floor in the arms of a slightly tedious gentleman farmer when she felt a warm tingling sensation in her spine. It was all she could do to not turn her head to find the source. After a moment or two the motion of the dance enabled her to turn her head naturally in the direction and after scanning the crowd her eyes lit upon the intense gaze of the man she had been hoping for.

She smiled at him when their eyes met, then refocussed on her partner and resolutely did not seek out Sir Francis again throughout that dance or the two which followed. Finally, she was stood on the edge of the dance floor, half hidden behind a pillar and stepping backwards out of a conversation when a gentle hand took her wrist and tugged her into an alcove. There, he gazed admiringly at her for a few seconds before he kissed her. There was no subtlety. This was a man who was willing to give her any space or leeway she wanted – if she had hinted him off he would have disappeared instantly and forever, but her gentle encouragement and, tonight, blatant advertising, had given him sufficient confidence that he understood her intentions.

This kiss was very different to the one earlier in the day. His tongue swept into her mouth and plundered her. Her knees began to shake and she clung to him, pressing her hips up against his as she fought a whimpering sound. The kiss broke naturally, after a short while and he bowed to her.

“If you will permit me, Madam, may I escort you home at the end of your evening?”

She nodded. She didn't trust herself to speak.

Some hours later, after the two of them had spent independent evenings she made her farewells. He subtly followed out after her and when she retrieved her coat he happened to be standing beside her and, as any gentleman would, took it from the lackey to help her into it. Then he called her landaulet and she offered to take him to his next destination. When they arrived at her property Mary had, with her usual knowingness of Melissa's mindset, ensured the house was fully retired so that Melissa could escort her guest to her rooms in privacy. There, Mary had provided a fortified wine and two glasses; to which Sir Francis quirked an eyebrow, but smiled and quaffed the drink he was offered.

The next morning she awoke alone. When she called for Mary, that caretaker assured her she had witnessed Sir Francis depart in the early hours of the morning and that no harm – always assuming Melissa was not taken unawares – would come to her.

Although Melissa was initially bewildered by the euphemism for finding oneself pregnant in unexpected or unapproved circumstances, she was relieved by the information that Sir Francis had not, for instance, been compelled to snoop through her personal belongings or steal any of her valuable items. The possibility that he worked for Lord Penthvere had not escaped her, despite the men's mutual antipathy and it was only after their mutual satisfaction had been reached that she realised how many secrets she had to hide in this home and how unwilling she was for it to come crashing down around her.

It did not dramatically change her circumstances, but the realisation of how highly she valued the situation she was in, both socially and personally, caused her from that day on to behave with more circumspection.

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