Devon walked into the library, poured himself a snifter of brandy, and sat in one of the comfortable leather chairs. Although he frequented the houses, he was not accustomed to attacking them to rescue whores. It amazed him that Rob who was only twenty years old had been so competent. He’d shown a potential for leadership he himself had never considered developing, if he possessed it.
His friend’s consideration of the women and child showed himself in a poor light. Yes, he went after Ellen, but she was his fiancée. Even so, he was more concerned about spying on her than mounting a rescue. In a matter of hours, he realized his concerns about her behavior were unfounded. Ellen would make an outstanding duchess, just not now.
The door opened and Ellen entered. She took the chair beside him. “Did the rescue go well?”
“Well enough. The women and Maddie are safe now.”
“How fares Isabeau?”
“Jacqui was correct. Francois beat Isabeau because he believed she had betrayed Marie. It is not an uncommon situation for women of the demimonde.”
“What is a demimonde?”
“You don’t need to concern yourself with these matters.”
“Mr. Stanley, do not think to judge what I should and should not concern myself with. If you refuse to answer my question, I will ask Rob tomorrow.”
He smiled. “I believe you’ll discover Lord Robert is not familiar with the subject. He does not frequent the houses.”
“I suppose you do.”
“Occasionally. I am a single man with needs.”
“I know nothing about your needs. If you won’t answer my questions, I’ll ask Jacqui and Isabeau. I know Isabeau from my church and the school. I’ve not seen Jacqui there. I doubt Father John would allow her in church in those strange clothes she wears. I will ask about those also.”
“You can’t speak to those women. They are not of your class.”
Ellen jumped out of her chair and advanced on him, glorious again in her anger. “Do not speak of class to me. Those poor women want what is best for their children. They should not be looked down upon for how they earn their living.”
He stood and towered over her. “You know nothing about how they live or what they do. They sell their bodies to men to do with as they please. You should not associate yourself with women like that.”
“I saw far more than I should have when I visited Marie’s. None of which I understood, but I will discover what I need to know. After all, according to the newspapers, my fiancé spends much of his time in places likes Marie’s. Why should I not know more about the company he keeps?”
“He is a man with a man’s needs. It is not for you to say what he may or may not do, even after you are married. I’m sure he would not tolerate it. No doubt he will keep his mistresses. True ladies ignore their husbands’ extramarital activities.”
“I’m sure you know all about him. Wedding vows are sacred. Once taken, they should not be broken. Adultery is a sin. I won’t tolerate it.”
“The women of the Ton accept what they must. Some even have affairs of their own, but a duke’s wife must hold herself above that.”
“There will be no affairs for me, but I hear no talk of love. I will not marry where there is no love. My mother did not, neither will I. Emmy swore she would geld Rob, if he was unfaithful. I will ask Jacqui about gelding unfaithful husbands. I think she knows much and would be willing to share.”
“You’re not to visit those women. Thank God, you don’t know where they are staying. Rob said he knew just the place. I’ll make sure he doesn’t tell you anything.”
“You’re awfully cozy with your employer. Why should I not know what I wish to know? My fiancé is known as a reprobate with vast knowledge. Why should I enter a marriage without ever being kissed?”
“A kiss. You want a kiss, Lady Ellen? Here’s your kiss.” He pulled her into his arms and lowered his lips to hers. She froze in his arms, then melted and returned his kiss with an innocence that touched him. He eased back to give her a moment to adjust to him, but she pulled him closer. Her eagerness excited him. He eased his tongue between her lips. She started and pulled back, then touched her tongue to his.
He pulled her against him and deepened their kiss. His hands slid down her back to her bottom, liking the feel of her against him. He kneaded the cheeks of her bottom and pulled her even closer against his burgeoning erection.
She stilled, then pushed against his cock. Her small gasp pleased him. He allowed her to rub against him while their kiss continued, seemingly without end. Then she pushed away and took a deep breath. Should he have warned her to breathe?
She bent over at her waist and took a few deep breaths. When she stood up, there was a fire in her eyes. He watched her as she pulled back and slapped him hard across the face.
“How dare you?” She ran out of the library as though it were on fire, leaving him alone with his erection. The woman would be the death of him. He drank deeply from the snifter. He would have to warn Rob to keep quiet about the whores’ refuge.
He climbed to the ground, then assisted Ellen to descend. “Perhaps we could meet later in one of our rooms, if you’re willing.”
“I look forward to furthering my knowledge of the erotic arts, Mr. Stanley.”
He smiled. “That’s not exactly what I had in mind, but as you will.”
Everyone piled into the inn carrying their small bags, went upstairs to their rooms, and availed themselves of the hot water waiting for them. After a hot bowl of stew in the common room, they returned upstairs and fell into bed. Except for Ellen and him.
A half hour after everyone had quieted for the night, he heard soft steps in the hallway followed by scratching on the door to his room. He eased the door open and Ellen slipped inside.
“Good evening, Lady Ellen.”
“Mr. Stanley.” She walked into his arms and nuzzled his neck.
“Thank you for visiting, Ellen. It was torture sitting beside you for two days without touching you. I plan to make up for that tonight, if you’re willing.”
She threw her arms around his neck. “I’m willing and eager, but woefully ignorant.”
Her attitude pleased him. They’d been through hell the last two days, driving in the July heat with no protection from the hot sun. He wanted to make the night good for her. Lifting her in his arms, he carried her to the bedside. He untied her robe and helped her remove it, then lifted her gown and threw it on the bed. He loved the little gasp she made when she realized she was naked. He sat her on the edge of the bed. “Lay back, darling.”
He started with a slow kiss, then moved to her breasts. She was gasping and they’d just started. He feathered kisses down her belly to her mons. Ellen propped herself up on her elbows and looked at him. “Are you going to lick my pussy?”
“Where did you hear about that? Never mind. Jacqui.”
“Annette. She says she likes it very much, but the clients never do that. She says the women are nothing but cunts to them. Jacqui loves her and licks her pussy to have the petite morte.”
His virginal fiancée had far too much contact with whores. He’d put an end to that and teach her to mind her language. Then he thought about Annette’s comment about being nothing but a cunt to a client. Had he treated women like that? Had he ever considered a whore’s pleasure? More than most, he supposed. He was far more considerate of his lovers in the Ton. Some of them were little more than whores, especially when they demanded attention and gifts. Ellen demanded nothing.
“Is something wrong?”
“No, something is very right.” He kissed her mons and slid his tongue into her slit. He held her hips to keep her still, and circled her clit.
“Oh my God, that feels so good.”
“It will feel even better soon.” He returned to teasing and sucking her clit while she moaned. He could feel her tension building. Her hips left the bed and she cried out as the little death took her.
“Annette was right. It is amazing. I don’t know if I can move yet.”
He eased her up onto the bed. She hadn’t lied about not being able to move. Her arms and legs flopped around as he moved her. He spread her legs, kneeled between them, and pulled off his nightshirt. Ellen gazed at him through half-closed eyes.
“You are a beautiful man, Tobias.”
“Thank you. Have I mentioned recently that you are magnificent?”
“It’s always nice to hear, thank you.”
When they were married, he would be sure to tell her that every day. Damn! Where had that thought come from?
“Is something wrong, Tobias?”
“No, Ellen. As I said, everything is right.” He entered her without further thought. He felt her reaching for another release. He rubbed her clit and she gasped. She grabbed his hips and pulled him deeper inside.
“I might need to tie you down sometime to keep you still.”
“Jacqui told me about that, except it was the man who gets tied up.”
“We’ll discuss that later also.”
He pulled back and entered her again and again, gradually increased the rhythm until he lost control and was mindlessly thrusting into Ellen.