By the Bay Ch. 13

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When Anita awoke, she needed a moment to orientate herself. She wasn’t familiar with the room, the bed and even the air she was breathing. Everything felt different, foreign. Even the birds outside the window seemed to sing a different song. But different didn’t have to be a bad thing, did it? Different could be good. Maybe even exciting.

She turned over in bed and reached for Jay, realizing belatedly that he wasn’t there. The sound of creaking pipes indicated that he was in the bathroom.

So this is England, Anita thought, sitting up in bed. She hadn’t seen very much of it last night. The ship had docked just as the sun was setting and the hackney ride was mostly shadowed by darkness. She promised herself that she would explore the area today, though. Jay had told her there were several beauitful ruins around Bridgewood manor that she would enjoy exploring. And as long as he was exploring with her, she didn’t doubt his words. She was missing him dreadfully.

They hadn’t been intimate for over a week, and honestly, Anita had begun yearning for the moment when he would initiate their coupling again. He hadn’t touched her last night when they’d stumbled into the room around midnight, except only to place a fleeting kiss over her lips before telling her to go to sleep. The longing in the pit of her belly frustrated her.

The logical part of her said that he was holding back only because he assumed that she was still having her woman’s time. Jay was being considerate and it would be her duty to tell him that her time was over. Even so, her cheeks burned when she thought about telling him such a personal thing outright. Wasn’t that too… brazen? Wanton?

No, telling Jay definitely wouldn’t do. She had to find some other way that wouldn’t put heat into her cheeks.

The pipes stopped creaking and she heard Jay moving around in the bathroom. Without pausing to think about the consequences of her actions, she scooted down onto the bed again and unbuttoned the first few buttons on her prim white blouse, ensuring that a fair amount of her breasts were showing. Foul play or not, he was going to touch her this morning without them discussing embarrassing business.

Turning onto her side, she pretended to be asleep.

The door to the bathroom opened and she heard him walk around before stopping short in mid-step. There was a moment of silence before she heard his footsteps heading in her direction.

Water droplets fell on her skin as he knelt on the bed and whispered into her ear, “I know you’re awake, sweetheart.”

When she didn’t respond, he continued, “You’re the most proper woman I know. You’ll never fall asleep with your buttons all undone like that.”

One eye popped open. “That is not true! I sleep naked with you all the time.”

“That’s different,” he said as he straddled her. He began lowering himself on top of her, inch by slow inch. “If you wanted my attention, why didn’t you just ask?”

“I do not-.” He silenced her with a kiss.

“Admit that you were trying to seduce my innocent self by displaying your breasts.”

Her feigned gasp of outrage filled his ears. “I was not-.”

Another silencing kiss. Then, “Admit it.”

She shook her head.

“Then what if I say that I was seduced? That you managed to accomplish your extremely wanton goal?”

He placed soft kisses along the length of her cheekbone and paused at her earlobe.

A small smile played around her lips. “Perhaps I would…”

A moan escaped her lips when he took her earlobe between his teeth. Her fingers curled around his arms, still damp from the shower. The feel of his solid, unyielding muscles coupled with his ministrations played havoc with her senses. His teeth on her earlobe sent tiny pinpricks of pleasure racing across her skin. Her fingers rose to fully unbutton her blouse, but his fingers captured hers. She couldn’t question his actions because his lips had slid to hers and had begun its ritual of sliding, prodding and pulling apart. When his tongue touched hers, she found that there was nothing else in the world she wanted – or could – think about. Their bed was her world and pleasure was her only agenda.

When he began to pull away, she clung to him, unwilling to let him go, until she ended up straddling him instead. She controlled their kisses now, with her fingers fisting almost painfully in his hair, her tongue sliding over his. Jay had to admit that he liked having her take the lead. He liked seeing his maiden of propriety become something of a vixen.

But when her fingers rose to her blouse again, he stopped her and she raised questioning eyes to him.

“I want to watch you take if off,” he murmured, his voice husky with desire. “Very slowly.”

She sat up, the fever in her nether regions grinding into his body and making her tremble. What he was asking was new to her, but she didn’t want to spoil the moment by saying she didn’t know what he meant. So she lifted her fingers to the button that edirne escort held the material together over her breasts. But he stopped her again.

“Start from the bottom.”

And so she did. When there was only one button between his view and her breasts, he stopped her fingers and gently traced the swell of her nipples through the fabric. Then his fingers entered the opening of her blouse and caressed the underside of her breasts. He loved to watch her expression as he found a spot that made her quiver. He loved to feel her nails digging into his flesh, spurring him on. But most of all, he loved the little sighs and whimpers that escaped her when she found pleasure in his touch.

Slowly, he inched her skirt up and pooled them around her hips. She leaned forward, her hair cloaking them as she bent down for a kiss. The position gave him the leeway he needed. His fingers slid over her buttocks and into the moist cleft that awaited his attention. Anita jerked in his arms with a loud cry, but he silenced it with his lips.

Within seconds, he could feel her tightening around his fingers, but he didn’t want to give her that satisfaction yet. He wanted to tease her, as she’d tried to tease him. So he pulled away, steeling his heart to her frustrated moan of disappointment.

He pushed her back onto the bed and settled betweeen her thighs, caressing both her legs from thigh to foot before settling them against his shoulders. He brought his body closer to hers, teasing her femininity with the tip of his shaft, dipping slowly, feeling her agitation build in the way she locked her legs against his neck.

It was only when she screamed his name that he slid into her to the hilt, burying himself into her welcoming warmth and let their bodies take over the act as old as time.


Such a beautiful day, Meera thought as she awoke. The dawn sun was was slowly becoming a ball of fire, but the day was cool enough for her to need a quilt in bed. She looked around her room, admiring the teakwood desk and the gilt-framed mirror. The walls were painted a bright, gay yellow that complimented the light rays of sun that shone through her closed window.

Her eyes fell on the clock that ticked away on her bedside table. It was seven in the morning. Her brows furrowed. She’d gone to bed only around dawn, having felt the need to document everything she’d seen on her hackney ride in her journal. She’d barely had three hours of sleep. What had woken her?

Rubbing the sleep from her eyes, she wriggled out from under the covers and tied her hair into a knot at the top of her head. She was sliding her feet into her slippers when she heard the low sound wafting into the room.

Her first thought was catfight. Back home, she’d heard cats fighting countless times and they always made low, keening noises like the one she was currently privy too. Shrugging, she went to the window to see if she could catch sight of the felines.

As seconds ticked by and nothing stirred the bushes below her window, she turned instead to see to her morning toilette. She’d just begun to splash cold water over her face when she heard the noise again. Only this time, she realized that it was coming from the room next door.

Next door? she wondered belatedly. But Anita and Jay are next door. How could cats get into their room? Especially with Beau in his basket?

She watched her eyes widen almost comically in the nightstand as comprehension finally dawned. Anita was… Jay was… They were… She was completely unable to finish that thought, especially not when a man’s low groan tore through the wall and assualted her ears.

She feared she might throw up if she heard anything more. Racing for her journal, she was out the door before she could hear anything else that might put the fear of god in her.

Since she didn’t want to cross her sister’s room, she ran in the opposite direction, away from the main staircase and towards the back of the house. The hallway was long and unlit but nothing could be worse than her early morning wake-up surprise. She tried to block it from her mind as she descended a small flight of stairs she found at the back of the house. She didn’t need someone to tell her that she was using the servant’s staircase. The roughly-cut stone beneath her feet was a good indication in itself.

She passed a small, empty washing area then ran across a bustling kitchen. A stout lady with a gentle smile and an accent as thick as the bread she prepared, asked Meera if she’d like something to eat. Trying not to turn green, Meera declined the offer as she breezed past and headed for the door she saw at the back of the kitchen.

She reached for the knob just as the person on the other side of the door did. One moment, there was cold metal beneath her hands, and the next, she was clutching nothing but air.

She looked up into a pair of brown eyes that reflected surprise.

“Beggin’ yer pardon, miss. Didn’ escort edirne see ye there.”

Belatedly realizing that her hand remained curled in the air as thought it was still clutching the doorknob, she withdrew it and slid it into her skirt pocket instead.

“It’s fine. I didn’t see you there either.” When the stranger continued to stare at her, she gestured with a tilt of her head and said, “May I?”

“Oh. O’course.”

When the stranger stepped aside, Meera took a few steps forward before realizing that she wasn’t in a garden or backyard as she’d hoped, but a walkway.

She turned back and asked the stranger who still stood holding the door open, “So, where am I?”

But before she could finish her question, the woman made a statement of her own. “Ye’re a friend of Rae’s.”

To say that the sentence managed to shock her was an understatement. Meera froze for a second, her eyes trained on the woman in front of her. Short, shoulder-lenth brown hair, darkly tanned skin, riding trousers and boots to complete the look. An uncommon look for any woman, but Meera had gotten so used to Rae that the difference hadn’t registered.

Then the woman wiped her right hand on her dark blue shirt and extended it to Meera with a smile. “So am I.”

A little bubble of laughter escaped Meera. She should’ve guessed from the woman’s clothes. She extended her hand. “It’s nice to meet you. I’m Meera.”

“Meera,” the woman said, drawing out the syllables like she was testing the way it sounded on her tongue. “Beautiful. Very lyrical. Charlie.”

“How did you know I was a friend of Rae’s?” Meera asked as she withdrew her hand.

Charlie shrugged, sliding her hands into her pockets. “A hunch. Some’n about ye made me think of ‘er.”

“What exactly?” Meera looked down at herself for some kind of clue.

Charlie shrugged again. “I can’ say exactly wot it is, but it’s there.”

Meera rolled her eyes. “Great. Now she’s branded me.”

To Meera’s surprsie, Charlie laughed. “Nothin’ like that. It’s just the way ye move. All bold-like.”

A small smile tilted Meera’s lips. “So, how do you know Rae?”

“We met when we were kids. Me mother cooked meals fer the school Rae went to. Rae and I… we are very alike, we became friends very quickly.”

Meera’s eyes ran down the length of Charlie’s body. “I can definitely see that.”

Charlie smiled a little sheepishly. “She got me a job here, too, when me folks passed on. Gave me a roof over me head and food on the table.”

“A job?” Meera’s curiosity was perked. “What do you do?”

“I’m the stablemaster.”

Meera raised her brows, impressed. Horses were usually considered a man’s pride and joy and most owners were hesitant even to leave their horses in the care of stable boys. But a stable girl… Meera wondered how Charlie had gotten the position.

“So, Master,” Meera said with a smile. “Would you like to show me around the stables?”

Charlie grinned widely. “Be happy to.”

“Anything to take my mind off matters,” Meera added under her breath.


Body tingling with aftershocks, Anita curled herself around a pillow like a contented kitten. Jay was already up and dressing. She wondered how he could summon the will to stand after what they’d done just minutes before.

“Where are you going?” she murmured sleepily.

Jay answered as he buttoned his vest. “I have to head to town to handle some business matters. I should be back by tonight.”

She threw a shapely leg over her pillow. “Do you have to go?”

He looked at her over his shoulder. She was lying on the bed, as naked as he’d left her. Her hair was spread across both their pillows like a dark waterfall. With her eyes half-closed, and her soft, supple skin glowing in the early-morning sun, she tempted him to crawl right back into bed and exhaust her until the afternoon. Any man with half his senses would do just that.

He wanted nothing more than to spend the day with her, showing her new places, new things and new people. But he had to take care of business matters first. As rare as it was, his duty as a Duke reared its ugly head and Jay knew that he couldn’t run from it. He’d been gone from England too long and he needed to set his affairs straight before leaving for another long trip with Anita and her sister. Besides that, there was also the matter of arranging a meeting with his late father’s friend, Roger, to discuss ‘something of great import’, as Roger’s letter had stated. Well, whatever it was had to be done by today, because Jay wasn’t planning on staying in London for more than a day. And looking at Anita’s soft, pliant, sleeping body, he had good reason to return to Bridgewood posthaste.

Giving his hair a final comb with his fingers, he walked over to his sleeping lover, the Oxford bags he wore swishing against his legs. The enormous pantlegs were a nuisance, but they were the height of fashion, and appearances edirne escort bayan did have to be kept up.

He knelt next to her and placed a soft kiss on her lips. Her brows furrowed in sleep and he kissed her forehead in an effort to ease the tension there.

But as he pulled away, she murmured, almost too softly for him to hear, “I love you.”

He froze, staring at her now-unmoving lips, and wondered if he’d really heard her say those three forbidden words. But she didn’t seem to be conscious of the fact that she’d just admitted her love for him; she lay still in a deep sleep.

Shaking his head, he rose, shelving the past few seconds under the ‘mistake’ category of his brain. He waited for the panic, the trapped feeling and the need to be free to appear and begin to claw at him. It usually happened when women used the L word and scared the hell out of him. He stood over Anita, waiting for the expected emotions to tumble through him. Hell, he even closed his eyes to prepare for it.

And yet, nothing happened.

When he opened his eyes, he only found himself fighting the overwhelming urge to smile.


The lady of the house, Ms. Ruby, sat at her pinewood dining table and waited for tea to be served. Her companion for the night, the wealthy Dr. Harolds, had already left her home with a sex-induced smile on his lips, leaving behind only a bevy of tiny bites on her neck and a fat case of jewellery on her desk.

Lovers are such wonderful things, Ruby thought as she stirred in honey and milk into her tea. They give so much for such little in return. Her latest catch, Dr. Harolds, was a perfect example of that. He’d bought her a waterfall of diamonds in hope of coaxing her into bed. Little did he know that she’d have settled for something less… costly. He was a fine-looking man, and it hadn’t been a hardship to let him in her bed. She was, after all, just an unmarried woman trying to make her way in the world. These little presents from her lovers were necessary to ensure her well-being, just in case the money Edward had left her ever ran out. She didn’t want to depend on anyone for money ever again.

Just then, the door to the dining room creaked open, and Ruby set down the copy of the Tatler that she’d idly picked up.

Then she stared in absolute fascination as a vision in buttercup yellow stepped into the room. Jay had warned her that his companion was unusual, but she hadn’t expected…

“Oh,” Anita said as she spotted the lady seated at the end of the table. She instinctively averted her eyes and folded her hands in front of her. “I didn’t mean to intrude.”

Ruby tried not to let her surprise show. “That’s quite all right, dear. Come, have some breakfast. I’ll ring for some fresh toast and eggs.”

The girl now looked alarmed. “That’s all right, milady. I’ll eat in the kitchen.”

“Nonsense. I won’t hear of it. Jay would have my head.”

“I’m not exactly hungry, milady. I was just about to go looking for my sister…”

“But you’ll have to eat all the same. I know you’ll need all the energy you can get to keep up with Jay.” Her eyes fairly twinkled with amusement as she watched Anita bite her lip indecisively.

Without waiting for Anita to make her decision, Ruby rang for breakfast.

Feeling cornered, Anita took a seat next to the lady, watching her out of the corner of her eye. Ruby was very pretty, with flame-red hair and cherubic lips. She looked a lot like her daughter, Catherine Mae – Jay’s half-sister. The gown that she wore was dark blue and elegant, making Anita feel like a girl playing dress-up in her own yellow blouse and brown skirt. She looked down at her hands as she waited for breakfast to be served.

Ruby stared at the girl curiously. “You have the most interesting eyes I’ve seen.”

Anita’s gaze flickered to the older lady. “Thank you, milady.”

Ruby laughed. “I’m not a lady, and I resent being called one. Just Ruby would do, dear.” She paused, then said, “Who did you get them from?”

“I beg your pardon?”

“Your eyes. They fascinate me. Who did you get them from?”

Anita managed to find a small smile for the lady. “My father.”

“And is he…?”

Anita looked down at her hands again. “British? Yes. I barely remember him, though. He left us when I was two. My mother was his mistress for a time.”

Ruby made a humming sound at the back of her throat. “Do you know his name? Now that you’re in Britain, why don’t you search-.”

“No!” Anita shocked herself by the clipped tone she’d used. “I mean, no, but thank you for suggesting.”

Breakfast was served. Toast with thin shavings of butter, eggs, more tea and sconces. Anita found it a little odd that for once in her life, someone was serving her. But she filled her plate with the food anyway; she was starved from all the activity her body had been put through.

Ruby, too, helped herself to some sconces. “So, dear, what ethnicity do you belong to?”

Anita swallowed a piece of toast before replying. “I’m Indian, milady – I mean – Ruby.”

Ruby nodded, lathering a thin layer of jam onto her scone. “Jay’s always very fascinated by exotic women. Though I have to say that this is the first time he’s brought anyone to see me.”

What could Anita say to that? “Oh. Exotic women?”

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