The Officer’s Temptation, Chapter 2

Mr. Croft, the butler, started in surprise when Marlowe let himself in through the servants’ door that led to the kitchens. “Your mother said you would be gone to town, sir.” Though he raised an eyebrow at Marlowe’s unkempt appearance–hair wild from the wind and damp from the light rain that had accosted him on his way home, coat and boots splattered with mud, he didn’t ask where he had been. “Shall I send your valet to your rooms?”

Marlowe yanked his boots off, leaving them by the door along with the messy heap of his greatcoat. “Yes, thank you, Mr. Croft. Is there any supper?”

“I can have something sent to your rooms, sir. Although I believe they are still serving in the dining room.”

Marlowe looked up in alarm. “I beg your pardon? Are my parents here? I thought they said they were going to call on the Jennings.”

“It’s my understanding that the Jennings called on your parents first, sir. They are all upstairs in the main dining room. Shall I tell your mother that you will join?”

“Ah. Well, thank you, but no, Mr. Croft. Just have someone bring something up to my room. I’m afraid I’m a bit of a mess.”

“Of course, sir.” Mr. Croft inclined his head briefly.

Marlowe took the servants’ stair to his room on the first storey, slipping a bit in his stockinged feet over the polished wooden floors. He ran his fingers through his damp hair, body alive with a hundred emotions. First, there was elation, a giddiness so profound it bordered on intoxication. The taste of Arabella’s skin was on his lips, the memory of her lush body played over and over in his mind, the sounds she had made, mewling underneath her as he had sheathed himself inside of her echoed over and over in his ears. Dear God, just the thought gave him goosebumps.

But then, of course, there was the irritation. His parents, unfortunately at home and with the Jennings, no less! And here he was, sneaking into his own room like a whelp, fresh from a tryst with a married woman. He swallowed hard. Ah yes, married. He had conveniently forgotten that she was married while he had been grinning like a madman as he walked home, conjuring visions of her milky breasts in his mind’s eye. What a fool he was!

It was a delicate situation and no doubt about it. No wonder his nerves were frayed.

He had scarcely sat down on his own bed when there was a knock at the door. “Enter!” he called, frowning to himself, flexing his stiff hand against his thigh.

“Ah there you are, Thomas,” he said as his new valet entered. Thomas had just been promoted from footman and was still very formal and eager to please. “I’ll just get ready for bed, if you don’t mind. Oh and a bit of supper. Did cook not send you up with anything?”

“I beg your pardon, sir, but your mother has requested… well, demanded your presence downstairs.”

Marlowe stopped exercising his hand and glanced up in alarm. “What?”

“Mr. Croft sent her your regrets that you would not be joining the party in the dining room. She said that no one is to bring dinner to your rooms, that you are to be dressed immediately and join the company downstairs.” Thomas twiddled his gloved fingers at his sides, clearly uncomfortable.

“What am I? A child again?” He stood quickly, glowering. “No, no, it’s not your fault,” he said, seeing Thomas’s nervousness. “Just help me dress, then. There’s no arguing with her when she’s like this.” He sighed as Thomas helped him out of the damp clothes and into a fresh suit of clothing. “There is nothing quite like staying with one’s parents to make one long to return to war,” Marlowe quipped sourly as soon as his coat had been slipped on over his shoulders.

Thomas gave him an alarmed expression. “As bad as all that, sir?” Marlowe lifted his chin as Thomas set about tying the cloth around his neck.

When Thomas was done, Marlowe gave his appearance a once over in the looking glass across from his bed and straightened the cravat, loosening it just a bit. “Pay no mind to me, Thomas, I’m just in a dark mood.” Thomas was collecting the pile of Marlowe’s soiled laundry. Marlowe wondered if Arabella’s scent still clung to clothes and frowned. “But thank you for your help, Thomas.”

He sighed again. It was time to face his mother.


Marlowe coughed awkwardly as he entered the dining room. Five faces turned to him in unison. “Well I’ve made it to dinner,” he announced, making a beeline for the chair that a footman was even now pulling out for him.

His mother’s face soured under her artfully piled hair. Her dark locks were only now beginning to be streaked with gray and her face was still attractive, though in a sharp sort of way. “To dessert, you mean.”

His father patted her on the hand. “Now, now, dear.” He turned to Marlowe. “You’re back early from your engagement, then.”

Marlowe forced a smile. “A misunderstanding,” he said. “I got the date wrong.”

His mother’s eyes sparked and she rose to give her son a kiss on the cheek. “Well, isn’t that lucky. Now you finally get to meet my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Jennings. You’ve already met Miss Jennings, of course.” Marlowe did not miss the slight note of reprimand in her voice in reference to the dinner he all but ruined only three nights ago. He ignored her reproach and turned to the older gentleman who had risen from his seat at his side.

“Mr. Jennings,” he bowed his head, “how do you do?”

He walked over to the other side of the table where the two women sat. One, older and plump, but with a kind face. “Mrs. Jennings, what a pleasure.” The other… Marlowe blinked rapidly as she stood, carrying with her the scent of jasmine and orange perfumes he had not thought of since he had been under the Spanish sun. Had she worn that scent at their last meeting as well? Dark waves of rich brown hair framed her face. Her extremely attractive face. He had been so distracted after his first meeting with Arabella that he had forgotten the fineness of Miss Jennings’s features. “Miss Katherine Jennings, so good to see you again so soon.”

She blinked at him slowly and her generous mouth spread into a smile. “Lieutenant,” she said, “the pleasure is mine.”

He returned to his place at the table and sat quickly, feeling cross at his mother. Miss Jennings was unfortunately lovely, he noted, as if for the first time. It was unfortunate because he already knew that there was nothing that he could offer her. And it was clear from the glance exchanged between his mother and Mrs. Jennings that there were certain… expectations. Clearly, his mother was going to attempt to throw the poor girl into his path at every opportunity. Perhaps if he had met her but a week sooner… but no, there was no conceivable world in which he could pursue Miss Jennings if he knew that Lady Arabella Balfrey also existed.

He felt a flush come over his cheeks at the thought of her. He swallowed hard.

“Marlowe’s just returned from the war,” his mother was saying. “We’re so pleased to have him back.”

“Where were you stationed, my boy?” asked Mr. Jennings. He had a weathered face, but it was clear that he had once cut a dashing figure himself and still retained an athletic look. “I spent some time in Spain, myself. Of course it is nothing compared to Italy.”

“Oh darling,” Marlowe’s mother cut in, grabbing his father’s hand, “wasn’t I just saying that we should see the continent?”

His father scratched at his graying sideburns and didn’t comment, only pressed a spoon into the cake that had just been set on the table.

“Perhaps we could all go together,” his mother continued. “I’m sure we would all love a tour.”

Marlowe tried not to choke on the first bite of lemon buttercream at the thought. What could be worse than staying with his parents than touring the continent with them? A footman hurried to fill his glass at the sound of his startled coughing, and he drank gratefully.

Miss Jenning’s face was flushed. “It would be so exciting to visit Florence,” she said. Her voice was wistful, hopeful even.

Her father looked at her indulgently. “Dear Kate has a flair for the arts,” he explained. “She’s been begging to be set loose in Italy to see the works of the Renaissance masters.”

Marlowe looked at his plate. If he wanted to be polite, to give the appearance of interest in Miss Jennings, he would have inquired about her artistic pursuits. He did not. An awkward pause settled over the diners while he helped himself to more wine.

His father cleared his throat. “I confess it has been many a year since I’ve toured Italy.” He looked at his wife and patted her hand. “Perhaps we should make arrangements. Especially if it would please you, Meg.”

Mrs. Jennings beamed and looked at her daughter. “Nothing could please me more than to travel with such dear friends. Although, we would, of course, have to return before the start of the season, wouldn’t we Katherine?”

The lovely Miss Jennings smiled most becomingly and met Marlowe’s eye. He looked rapidly away, trying not to scowl.

“Well, let us make the proper arrangements, then!” Mr. Jennings raised his glass. “To Italy!”

Marlowe tried to keep the dismay from his face as the rest of the glasses were raised with laughter and good cheer. Still, there was plenty of time to excuse himself from the trip. He wondered how he could do it gracefully, without risking his mother’s ire. He barely spoke through the rest of dessert, preoccupied as he was with his plotting.

“How about the gentlemen go for a smoke in the study?’ Marlowe’s father queried as they all rose from the table. “I have an excellent brandy to show you, Joseph,” he said turning to Mr. Jennings, who smiled amiably and clapped Marlowe’s father on the back.

Marlowe’s mother gave him a look. “Oh no, dear. You know that I had my heart set on cards. We can’t play without an even number. If you aren’t inclined to join us, at least lend me Marlowe.” She hooked her elbow through his, practically pulling him into the drawing room.

Mr. Jennings chuckled and shrugged his broad shoulders. “Perhaps another time, then, Henry. We must let the ladies have their say.”

“Of course, of course. Though there’s no reason we can’t bring the brandy to us.” Marlowe’s father rung a bell as the company entered the drawing room, sending a servant to fetch the drink from his study.

“Set up the card table, dear,” Marlowe’s mother said to his father. “I just want to stretch my legs for a moment. Marlowe will accompany me, of course.”

“It only just rained, mother,” Marlowe said, still attached to her via her surprisingly strong grasp.

“No matter,” she said, giving her friend Mrs. Jennings a knowing look as she whisked him out the door and into the damp gardens.

The air was humid and close though the light rain was over. Marlowe sighed as he was tugged down a garden path, away from the house. The smell of the rain tickled at his nose, fresh and sharp with the scent of the wet flowers. “Mind your step, mother. The paving stones are slick.”

“And you, mind your manners!” she said hotly. “What was that business at dinner? You could have scarcely ignored poor Miss Jennings more thoroughly. I thought perhaps I ought not to mention it, that you were merely tired the first time. But this is twice now that you have slighted the company!”

“I was not expecting company.” A wet branch slapped his trousered leg as they passed. He scowled, but fortunately it was too dim for his mother to notice.

“You were trying to avoid company, is more likely.” She sighed and her tone changed from vexation to kindness. “I know things have been difficult for you,” she said softly. “Since you have been home. Don’t think that I haven’t noticed all of the hours you spend in solitude. It isn’t healthy.”

He stretched his hand reflexively.

“And there is something different about you,” she mused. “Some change has marked you. You’ve been almost frenetic the past few days. Always riding, always pacing. What ever is the matter with you, my dear boy?”

It was kindly asked, but still he sneered. “There is nothing the matter with me, mother. Although I predict that you will remain unconvinced of it and that you already reason that whatever ailment it is you have prescribed to me will only be cured by a wife.”

She snorted through her nose. “So alike, aren’t we! Mother and son. So stubborn! But yes, you have guessed it. To be frank, I do think that a bit of romance would cure these wild moods of yours.”

“I have no need of romance.”

“You have no idea what it is you need,” she chided. “At the very least, I do expect you to be kind and attentive to Miss Jennings. Do you not find her to be a lovely girl?”

“She’s very lovely.”

His mother harrumphed. “Let’s turn around here,” she said stopping abruptly in her tracks. They looped back towards the house, but she was only content to walk in silence for so long. “Get to know Miss Jennings, at least. Even if it is only as a friend, it would do you some good. And speaking of friends, I did hear that Lord Balfrey was returning soon. You got along well enough in your boyhood. Perhaps he will call when he returns from London.”

He felt his body stiffen and hoped that she didn’t mark it. He changed the subject to something safer. “So tell me about Miss Jennings,” he said, regretting it even as the words passed his lips.

She squeezed his arm in excitement. “She’s a wonderful girl. Just had a very successful season. Two proposals! She’s quite the catch, and I do hope you realize it soon because I would not be surprised if some other gentleman snapped her up quickly. I doubt she will make it through her second season without an engagement. She’s very accomplished. And of course nothing would be grander than having the dear girl as a daughter. Her mother and I have been friends since our girlhoods, though she only recently moved back. And her father and yours were chums at Oxford. No two families could be closer!”

They had returned close enough to the drawing-room door where his mother didn’t think it prudent to continue her gossiping and for that he was glad.

The drawing-room was alight with activity when they returned indoors. Mrs. Jennings was at the pianoforte, playing a lively number while Miss Jennings sang along. She did have a nice voice, Marlowe granted. It was strong and sweet and clear as a bell. The two older gentlemen had already set up the card table and were clinking together their brandy glasses, clearly in the middle of a lively discourse. There was nothing to do but sigh and take up a seat next to his mother at the card table.


The next day was uncommonly hot and Marlowe found it impossible to remain indoors as well as desperate to see Arabella. He felt restless and ill at ease in the warm house, especially with the news that his mother had given him the night before concerning Lord Balfrey’s imminent return and the family trip to Italy already seemingly moving forward.

He therefore lept at the opportunity when his father, over breakfast, mentioned that he had noticed some disrepair of the old stone fence that ran along the northern property line. Marlowe’s mouth had gone dry at the mention of it, as that was where his family’s land bordered on the estate of Lord Balfrey. The section of fence that his father mentioned was near a shady copse of trees, just off of a broad field where he imagined a lady might go riding for pleasure if she were so inclined.

“I’ll see to it myself,” Marlowe had said. Though his father had protested that some of the grounds workers would be sent in due time to make the repairs, Marlowe had urged him not to send anyone else. “I need to be out of doors doing something useful,” he had told his father simply, but perhaps some emotion had cracked in his voice, for his father had only looked at him with regretful eyes and nodded, telling him to be sure to at least have the supplies taken over by the grounds workers.

Marlowe had felt conflicted over the falsehood for a moment. It was clear that he had touched his father in some way, stirred some sort of pity in him when the truth was that he only longed for a glimpse of Arabella. The thought of her chased away any negative feelings however, and he soon found himself under the blazing sun, a cart of stones and mortar by his side, facing down the crumbling little wall.

And so he had set to work, dust and grime soon covering his hands and upper arms. His injured hand ached a bit in protest at the rough treatment, but he was glad for the exercise, the feeling of the blood surging through his veins as he lifted the heavy stones into place, and the ache of his muscles as he spread the thick mortar.

The day only grew hotter as the morning stretched towards noon. He found himself constantly using his arm to wipe his lank hair from his face, his thin linen shirt clinging to his sweat soaked back. He soon cast the shirt aside without another thought, savoring the sensation of the sun and wind against his bare chest. He smiled, and realized that he was content, Arabella or no.

It was almost just after that thought that he heard the light sound of faraway hoofbeats. He gazed through the thin line of trees, squinting in the bright light and his heart surged as a horse and rider came into view. The seconds stretched as he waited for them to come closer, for the pair was a woman, clad in gray, astride a dusty red horse. He hailed them, looked at his ruined shirt on the ground, and decided not to put it back on, choosing instead to wipe his hands on the cloth as the horse and rider approached quickly, at a trot.

The excitement was like a lightning storm throughout his entire body as he raked his starving eyes over her upright carriage, the soft swell of her body under her gray riding habit, the curls that burned like golden flames around her cheeks, escaping from under her hat.

Her green eyes were wide and serious, her mouth slightly agape. “Lieutenant,” she breathed and she slowed the horse to a stop, raking her eyes over the sight of his bare chest, flushed from the sun. She dropped the reins, and he came beside her, helping her dismount.

He swallowed hard as he placed her gently on her feet. “Lady Balfrey,” he said tentatively. His face was threatening to break out into the most ridiculous grin. “Arabella…”

“Marlowe,” she took a step forward, her voice still so quiet. “I hadn’t expected to see you here. Or anywhere… ever again.”

He stepped closer to her, felt the heat radiating off of the baking stones of the wall, the smell of the horse, and the perfume that clung to her skin. “I hoped that you would ride this way today,” he said. “I wanted to see you. I’ve been dying to see you.”

She watched him closely through her lashes. “I wanted to send for you, but I couldn’t see how to get rid of them for another night, the servants, I mean. And I wasn’t sure if you… if you still wanted me.” Her blonde curls were sticking to her forehead in the heat. Her cheeks were in high color and she looked briefly away, as if uncertain of herself.

“Of course I still want you. You’re all I think about.” It was true. God knew it was true. The desire for her was singing through his veins. He woke up every night in the throws of it, cock impossibly hard at the frustration that she was not beside him in his bed to relive his dreams.

Her eyes danced over his body. “Everything has changed,” she said as she stepped away from the horse and closer towards him. He caught her in his arms, breathing in the scent of her, feeling the soft crush of her full breasts against his chest as he grabbed her by the waist. Their mouths seemed to meet in a rush, lips against lips and tongues slipping past tongues.

He felt his cock instantly stiffen as he kissed her with a fierce hunger. He wanted to rip her clothes from her body, to be inside of her immediately, but he schooled his impatient body with difficulty, broke his mouth away from hers at last. “I know someplace we can go,” he said meeting her hungry eyes. “If you would like.”

She licked her lips. “Yes. Now?”

He bent and picked up the linen shirt he had left heedlessly on the ground. “Now.”

She nodded and he went to retrieve her horse, which had edged away to forage in the grass underneath the trees. He helped her up quickly, and then mounted behind her. It was a tight fit. Her rump pressed against his groin, sliding against his already alert cock with every bump in the horse’s gait as he edged it into motion towards the woods. He drew her closely to him, splaying a hand over her stomach as he guided the horse.

“I thought you were giving the horse away,” he murmured in her ear, pressing his lips against her soft skin. “Said he had a bit of the devil in him, didn’t you?”

She shivered at the caress of his mouth against her ear. “I like a bit of mischief,” she purred. She could doubtless feel the evidence of his own appreciation of mischief poking into her backside, so he only grabbed her tighter in response.

“Where are we going?” she asked, leaning against him. The shadows of the leaves above cast a dancing pattern against her skin and he could hear the slight burr of her accent as she spoke.

“A place I found as a boy.” He nuzzled his head against the back of her neck, trailing a few kisses along the sensitive area as she arched her back towards him. He had to remind himself to pay attention to the path, to guide the horse forward even as his hand explored her stomach, rising over her ribs and higher, towards the collar of her gown. She stiffened as he let his hand trail over the round swell of her chest. Heavens, how he longed to free her of her clothes, to touch the bare skin underneath the fabric.

The ride to the glade felt both torturously slow and horribly fast as they continued deeper into the woods, him drinking in all of the sensations of having her so near while wishing to be nearer still, and her seeming to delight in the attention, pressing against his chest and sighing in delight. “I’m so glad things are not awkward between us,” she confided. “I had worried…”

“You shouldn’t worry,” he said. “I would let anything unpleasant come between us.”

The small glade was just as he remembered, including the clear brook that had swollen in the late summer rains. He dismounted quickly and offered her his hands. “Do you fancy a swim?” He asked as he placed his hands around her waist, pulling her down off the horse.

She grinned at him, eyes sparking like the light that shone through the branches. “It is ever so hot today,” she said. He could see that she was breathing heavily. Her chest was rising and falling quickly underneath her stays. Her throat and cheeks were quite pink above her white shirt.

He grinned back at her, stupidly, and pulled the horse near a small tree, where he tied its reins around the trunk. “Sit beside me,” he said, gesturing to an outcropping of stone near the water’s edge. He sunk to the ground and pulled off his boots while she sat elegantly beside him, gray skirts pooling around her legs. Slowly, she removed her own gloves and set them aside.

He turned to her then, caressing her neck and jaw. She closed her eyes, dark lashes resting against her flushed cheeks. He pulled his hands up to her hat, unpinning it, and setting it gently beside his boots and her gloves. Her beautiful mouth was open, face uptilted as he did so. How he longed to kiss her!

But he did not. Instead, he slid his knuckles back down her neck, beside the lace of her collar, fingertips touching her hot collarbone as they slid down the white shirt and over to the buttons that closed her short riding jacket. He undid them easily and brushed his hands over her shoulders, pulling the jacket off her slowly. Still, she sat beside him, trembling with her eyes closed.

He moved on to the buttons of her skirt, undoing each fastening nimbly until the skirt sat loosely around her waist. Then he pulled at her white shirt, lifting it easily above her head. His heart beat faster as her chest and pale arms slipped from the cloth. He untied her stays, removed them, to be placed in the same pile as the rest of her clothing.

She opened her eyes and looked at him, burning with longing. He could not help himself then. He rounded on her, pulling her to him as he kissed her. Her mouth seared against his as she kissed him back furiously. He found himself lowering her to the ground, her body flattening below his, knees rising to either side of his hips, skirt bunching between them as he pulled his hands over her body, cupping her soft, full breasts over the fabric of her shift. She moaned and arched beneath him, yanking her hands through his hair and over his bare shoulders while he flicked his tongue against the hot, soft skin of her neck, and reached between them to pull her legs free of her skirt. Soon only the shift remained, a flimsy barrier. He pulled it up her silky legs, higher and higher while she rolled her hips against him.

He was about to reach between her legs when she pulled her mouth away from his. “No,” she said rolling away.

His fingers froze on her thigh, inches away from her hot center. The word caught in his mind, stunned him. “What?” He raised himself up, and she wriggled out from under him.

She grinned, and stood, pulling her own shift over her head. “You promised me a swim,” she said, bending to yank off her stockings and shoes.

The sound that escaped his lips was more of a growl than any coherent word as he stared at her suddenly nude form. He had not thought that it was possible to be any more aroused, but his damned cock felt like it would explode, his chest, his stomach, his balls tight with anticipation and need. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Her elegant arms, her full breasts, tempting as ripe fruit against her chest, capped in deliciously pink, peaked nipples. The planes of her flat stomach, the hint of her ribs underneath, the curve of her navel, the triangle of golden hair that clung between her legs… He wanted to be inside of her so badly it hurt.

She smiled devilishly and turned quickly, his view of her bouncing breasts replaced with one of the perfect curve of her buttocks as she ran to the edge of the pool. “You minx!” he groaned, jumping to his feet, yanking off his trousers as fast as he could, then chasing her to the water.

She shrieked playfully and splashed into the pool. He caught her within two bounds, yanking her to his chest as the cold water surged over his legs and hips. He shivered, but buried his face in her hair, pressing his insistent cock against the heat of her skin under the water. It slipped between happily into the cleft between her cheeks, and he ground it into her backside as she struggled to get away, giggling.

“Are you a water nymph, then?” he asked into her ear as he pulled his hands up over her stomach, dragging cold water over her body.

She wriggled some more as his wet hands found her breasts, cupping them, kneading the warm skin, teasing her hard nipples roughly. She rolled her backside against him in protest, eliciting another growl.

“Yes,” she said, but it turned into a breathy moan as he lowered lips to her warm throat.

She twisted in his grasp, and he let her, so that she was facing him once more. Her slippery body pressed against his, soft mounds of her breasts sliding against her chest, his cock now pressing against her warm belly. She rolled her hips towards him, and reached up for him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders. Their mouths met again and again in exploration. Her slick tongue coiling around his, flicking against his lips. It was torture and ecstasy.

And then she yanked at him, pulling him off his balance and forwards into the water. They both went under in a tangle. He made a shocked sound as they surfaced and splashed her in the face while she laughed. “No wonder your horse is such trouble,” he said as he blew droplets of water from his face. “I see where he gets it.”

She grinned and stood slowly, letting him admire the curves of her body, even more tantalizing with the silver droplets running in rivulets down her skin. “Come here,” she commanded, heading towards the shore. He could not help to obey.

She was watching him with heavy-lidded eyes. “Lie down.”

He chose a spot on the sun-warmed rocks and stretched out against, all too conscious of his heavy cock, still standing at attention. “Stop torturing me,” he begged as she walked towards him slowly, hips swaying suggestively.

And then she lowered herself over him, biting her lip, carefully placing a slender leg on either side of his hips. His heart was beating out of control as she lowered herself inch by inch until the cleft in her legs hovered just over his hungry prick. And then she lowered herself even more, brushing her slick lips against the ridges of his manhood, letting his cock slide lengthways between her legs. He groaned, pushing himself up on his elbows as she slid up and down his length, rolling her hips forwards and backwards, spreading her slick heat up and down his shaft.

And then, just when he thought he couldn’t take it anymore, she reached between them, raising herself slightly. He felt her tight grip on his member as she pulled it up, nudging the tip in between the hot folds of her skin. He groaned aloud as she took him inside of her, impaling herself on his shaft inch by inch until he was entirely housed within the tight, wet, hot confines of her magnificent cunt.

He grabbed her hips and shoved himself into her as far as he would go, closing his eyes in elation. “Lord in heaven,” he swore softly as she began to buck against him, riding him mercilessly. He snapped his eyes open as soon as he realized they were closed, not wanting to miss out on a second of the sight of her. Beads of water were dripping over her lush body, slipping over her round breasts that were swaying with her motions. In moments, she was whimpering, and leaned forward, bracing her hands against his shoulders.

“Oh Marlowe!” she cried, and suddenly, he felt the intense shock of her pleasure clenching around his swollen cock, practically milking him in waves of pleasure. He stilled his hips inside of her, clenching his eyes shut as she took her due. He was shaking with the need to find his own release. He tried to push her to the side, but she would not be budged.

“I need to.. Last time I didn’t think… Aren’t you worried about children?” he gasped.

She looked at him from under her long lashes, green eyes burning. Her thighs clenched around him, her cunt tightened. “I want you inside of me,” she begged. “I want you filling me constantly.” She bit her lip and rolled her hips forward again lurching against his already straining member.

It sent him over the edge. His whole body seemed to tense up and then suddenly break with release as she rode him. He gasped, eyes shut tight as he wove the flood of his release, filling her with his seed. She sank against his chest, breathing heavily as his heart gradually slowed. “My husband is coming back next week,” she said softly. “But I want to see you. I don’t think I can stop.”

“I can’t either,” he said, choosing to ignore the unfortunate mention of her husband. He paused, pulling her close to his chest. “My family is thinking of touring the continent–Italy. I may be gone for a few weeks.”

“No,” she said. “I couldn’t bear it! I need you to be near.”

He kissed the top of her head. “We will figure something out, my dove. Perhaps I will find some way to extricate myself from their plans.”

She hesitated. “Marlowe, you know my hus–you know Nicholas, correct? Your family is acquainted.”

He tensed. “Yes.”

“When he returns, I can make sure that he hosts company. Your family and you can come and we can see each other with permission! And then perhaps if we strengthen the friendship… Well, what if… we were to join you in Italy?”

He sat up in alarm, causing her to fall to the side. “What?”

“I’m quite sure that I could arrange it. And that way we could be together.”

“Arabella… that sounds like a uniquely dangerous idea.”

She frowned at him. “Nonetheless, I shall pursue it. I’m not afraid of taking a few risks in order to be with you, Marlowe.” She bit her lip, brow furrowed. “Unless you don’t want to be with me?”

He swallowed, eyes raking in her beautiful face, the tenderness and vulnerability of her expression. “Of course I do. I want it more than anything.”

She smiled gently. “Then I shall make the plans.”