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The Talisman

© Alex de Kok, 2002

To Jon and Quint my grateful thanks for matters editorial. To them also must go some of the credit if you enjoy my tale. The mistakes are purely my own.

For Katherine





"What am I to do, Mr. Hamilton? Do I take to the streets of Newcastle and work as a twopenny whore? I have no money, nothing at all. All I have is debts!" Emma Dodd sat down abruptly in the seat facing the lawyer and regarded him, her face flushed, eyes brimming with unshed tears.

Cornelius Hamilton steepled his hands and regarded her gravely over the top of his spectacles, his face anxious. Emma's heart sank and she regretted her outburst, but was she always to be burdened by the debts incurred while she nursed her father until his untimely death?

Hamilton cleared his throat. "I am afraid that the circumstances are as we feared, Emma. Even after the sale of your father's house at the asking price, there will still be the matter of some seventy-three pounds, sixteen shillings and eleven pence owed. As your father's friend I have waived my own fee, but what remains is owed elsewhere, I'm afraid, and must be paid."

Emma gestured helplessly, fighting back tears. "I ask again; what am I to do, Mr. Hamilton? The best I could hope for would be governess or companion and no one is seeking any such person. Must I go to London, or perhaps Edinburgh? Even if I did, there is no guarantee I would find a position." She laughed, short and bitter. "In any event I have no money to fund my journey."

Hamilton grimaced, and gestured dismissively. "As your late father's friend, even as your own friend, I would happily advance you the money for such journey, but I do think that I have an alternative which may suit you."

Hope flared in Emma. "What is it, Mr. Hamilton? Please, tell me."

"I have two possible purchasers for the house. One is a businessman from Newcastle, seeking a refuge, I think, for occasional escapes from the city." The lawyer coughed, embarrassed. "I think he intends to install his mistress."

"And the other?" asked Emma, thinking wryly that to be someone's mistress might be a better position than that in which she found herself.

"A moment, Emma. The businessman would pay the asking price for the house, yes, but you would still have the outstanding debt remaining."

"You mentioned an alternative, Mr Hamilton," said Emma, her hopes sinking again.

"I did. The other purchaser is a military gentleman, recently retired from the army. Colonel Faulkner. He was wounded at Waterloo in the defeat of Bonaparte and has now resigned his commission. In the event he purchases the house, he requires a housekeeper. If you will accept the post he will settle the debts and pay you a small wage. If at the end of a year you find that you cannot continue he will give you fifty pounds and pay your fare to your chosen destination." Hamilton grimaced. "After all, the house has belonged to your family for some considerable time and it may be that you cannot bear to be a servant in what was your own home."

Hamilton sat back and watched Emma as she pondered. The housekeeper position had been his own idea, the only one he could think of to save his friend's daughter from homeless poverty. He studied her. A tall girl, slender, but unmistakably female. Dressed now in unrelieved black, her unruly tawny hair tied back in a tight chignon, pale faced, she was still a very good-looking woman, Hamilton thought, and he again repressed the thought that had flashed across his mind of trying to make her his mistress. Delightful as the concept seemed, he owed it to the memory of his dead friend not to take any such action.

After all, he had known Emma virtually all of her life and had watched her grow into the beautiful woman that she was now, quiet and reserved with strangers but with a warm and friendly personality, even strained as it was now following the death of her beloved father and the realisation of the debts which had accrued during his long illness. Hamilton wondered why she had never married but acknowledged that she had been caring for her father virtually since her seventeenth birthday, leaving her but little time for any of the niceties of courtship. There was still time, he reasoned, as Emma was yet but four-and-twenty.

Emma looked up. "A year, Mr. Hamilton; if I work as housekeeper for a year and it does not suit, then all of my debts are cleared and I will have fifty pounds of my own?"

Hamilton nodded. "Precisely. Will you take the position?"

Emma smiled ruefully. "I have little alternative, do I? I do not relish the thought of poverty. When may I meet Colonel Faulkner?"

Hamilton smiled. "Would you be my guest for dinner, Emma? I have invited Colonel Faulkner, too. You can stay with my wife and I tonight, as our guest, after you have discussed the position with Colonel Faulkner."

Richard Faulkner was a surprise to Emma. Because of his rank, she had expected him to be an older man, but he was scarce ten years older than herself. Hamilton had offered Faulkner the use of his study so that he might discuss the position with Emma in private, and it was to his study that Hamilton escorted Emma to meet the Colonel prior to their sitting down to dinner. Faulkner was gazing out of the window when Hamilton ushered Emma into the room, so that she was able to contain her surprise at his age, surprise which she feared might offend the Colonel.

"Colonel Faulkner, may I introduce to you Miss Emma Dodd." Faulkner bowed courteously and she dipped in brief curtsy. "I shall leave the two of you for the moment," said Hamilton. "Dinner is in a quarter-hour."

"Thank you, Mr. Hamilton." Faulkner turned to Emma. "Miss Dodd, pray, be seated."

"Thank you, Colonel." Emma sat and looked up at the Colonel while he gathered his thoughts. Clean-shaven, but with what later generations would come to know as sideburns, his hair was dark, with an unruly curl to it that Emma knew must be uncontrollable, reminding her of her own tawny tresses which could only be guided, never controlled. His face was open, friendly, his eyes dark like her own. He was wearing a brass-buttoned blue coat and tan breeches, brocade waistcoat and crisp linen shirt. All this was ordinary, as was his wiry build, and Emma could find nothing that might distinguish him as a soldier, save perhaps for a fading scar on his cheek.

Faulkner caught the direction of her glance and gave Emma a wry smile. "The legacy of a clash with a French Lancer. I got the best of the encounter. I have grown tired of war, Miss Dodd. It has been too much part of my life these eighteen years."

Emma made a sympathetic murmur and Faulkner smiled. "I believe Mr. Hamilton has explained his idea to you, Miss Dodd?"

"He has, Colonel."

"And how do you feel about it?"

"May I be frank, Colonel?" Faulkner nodded and gestured her to continue. "I have little choice in the matter, Colonel, for without your offer I would be homeless and penniless. I am not an experienced housekeeper, but I did act as my late father's housekeeper these past three years, so that I am aware of the economics of running a household. If you will have a little patience, I am confident that I will manage."

"I need a cook, too, Miss Dodd. Do you know of anyone?"

"I can cook, Colonel. I enjoy it. If you will permit me that post, too, it will save you money. Other than that, unless your wife has other requirements, I think only a maid."

"I am unmarried, Miss Dodd. As for the maid, my servant, Dan Thompson, his wife Maria will, I think, be suitable." Faulkner smiled at some memory. "Maria is Spanish. Dan wooed and won her while we were fighting Wellington's Peninsular campaign. They have not had a proper home as long as they have been married. The cottage next the house will suit them well."

"I look forward to meeting them." So, Faulkner was unmarried. A catch for someone, thought Emma. I like him, I think, but as his housekeeper we will no longer share the same social circles.

"There is only one other thing, Miss Dodd. Stables." Faulkner smiled. "I am, or rather was, a cavalry officer. How big are the stables? Hamilton could not say."

"Ample for a dozen, Colonel. At present there is only the pony for the gig. The others were sold."

"Do you ride, Miss Dodd?"

"When I can, Colonel. Not lately, of course."

"You may have the pick of the stables, Miss Dodd, and ride whenever your duties permit. I know this has been but a brief conversation, but I make quick judgements. If you will accept, Miss Dodd, I am happy for you to become my housekeeper."

Relief filled Emma. At last she could begin to hope for the future. She smiled at Faulkner, startling him with the contrast to her reserved and sober look of but moments before. "Gladly do I accept, Colonel. I trust that our relationship will be cordial."

Gods, but she was exceeding handsome, thought Faulkner. That smile! Aloud, he said only, "I'm sure it will. Shall we rejoin our host, Miss Dodd?"

* * * * *

That had been almost nine months ago, Emma reflected as she sorted freshly washed cutlery. Fourteen months since her father had died and she could hardly remember the life she had lived then. Her mourning black was now replaced by sober grey, but she allowed herself a touch of colour in her russet jacket on her walks to the village. Colonel Faulkner had proved to be an exemplary employer, understanding as she eased herself into her unaccustomed role, patient with her, always polite.

She was the only one who lived in the house with Faulkner, with her having agreed to take on the role of cook as well as simply housekeeper. It was no hardship for her, because she enjoyed cooking and told herself that she was skilled in it. It also added a few shillings to her income. She smiled wryly to herself. She had heard of the whispers that placed her in Faulkner's bed at night, whispers that no one dared face her with. If only it were true, she thought. Indeed, in order to conceal her admiration for him she had adopted a polite and reserved manner which she thought best suited her position.

Faulkner had allowed her to retain her own bedroom, but then, she thought, she had chosen one in the upper reaches of the house. One she had chosen so that she would have a view from her window, north-westwards to the escarpment and the remains of Hadrian's Wall, now some seventeen hundred years old. It was unlikely that Faulkner would wish any of his rare guests to climb all the stairs to the upper rooms when there were guest rooms more easily reached. Guests which as yet had not included any potential brides, although she knew Faulkner had received invitations from the fathers of several available young ladies; invitations which he had generally declined. Although only Faulkner and Emma lived in the house, Faulkner's servant, Dan Thompson, and his wife Maria were within call in the adjacent cottage and Maria's help as a maid greatly aided Emma. Emma amused herself helping Maria improve her English, for being around soldiers so much had peppered her speech with earthy epithets, which embarrassed her when she realised what she was saying.

The bell rang, summoning her to the parlour where Richard Faulkner was finishing his breakfast. Emma automatically began to clear the breakfast dishes, but Faulkner stopped her and gestured to a chair.

"Please, Emma, a moment of your time."

"Of course, Colonel," Emma responded, seating herself.

Faulkner was holding a letter, one that Emma recognised as having been delivered that very morning. He gestured with it. "This comes from my cousin Alice, Emma. What I have to tell you must not go beyond this room."

Emma nodded and waited. Faulkner seemed unusually agitated, for she had learned that her employer was a man of steady mien and sound intellect. He took a breath and faced her. "Alice's daughter, Lucy, who I believe has not long turned nineteen, seems to have become involved in a scandal of some sort. Alice asks if I would have her as my guest for a month." Faulkner frowned. "What do you think, Emma?"

Emma was surprised, for Faulkner but rarely asked her opinion. When he did, he frequently took her advice, she had noted with some pleasure. "Of what, Colonel?" she asked.

"Would it be right for me to have a young lady as my house guest, a young lady who is unwed?"

"Society might be scandalised, but your guests are your concern, Colonel, no-one else's. I have been living in this house with you these nine months and you have made no issue of that."

Faulkner glanced at her sharply and she realised with some embarrassment that she had replied rather forcefully. Emma flushed and began to apologise but Faulkner waved her to silence.

"But someone else has, I take it? Who? Do I know them?"

Emma hesitated. "No one directly, sir, just whispers." She smiled awkwardly. "I pay them no mind."

"Well, if I hear them, whoever they are, they shall hear a piece of my mind. You are too good a woman to suffer innuendo, Emma. I will not have it."

Emma risked a glance at him. There was concern on his face, and while she took pleasure in his concern for her, she wished it were because he felt more than just that. Even so, she was surprised at the emphasis in his tone. "They do not bother me, Colonel. I know you to be a gentleman."

Faulkner regarded her steadily for a long moment and she felt heat rise in her cheeks. Aloud he said, "You are right about my having Lucy as my guest, Emma, as usual. I shall write to Alice and confirm the visit. Thank you." Faulkner stood and Emma resumed her interrupted task of clearing the breakfast table. As she left the room with her tray Faulkner watched her. He sighed. She is too gentle a creature for a rough soldier like me, he thought. I have little experience of gentlewomen. Camp followers, yes, one or two of those, and lonely wives and widows. But Emma, dear Emma, so correct, so remote, so lovely. Ah, if only.... He sighed. I have been in the thick of battle and survived, yet I fear paying court to a young lady who attracts me for fear my past will repel her.

Emma wondered about the scandal concerning Lucy that Faulkner had mentioned. A man, perhaps? Emma smiled ruefully. Although she had been paid court by some of the local bachelors before her father's death, when her reduced circumstances became known they had quietly faded away. Seeking wives with financial advantages, no doubt, she thought. She had not been particularly attracted to any of them and since meeting Richard Faulkner had no regrets on that score. Had they met before her father took ill.... She sighed, then smiled as she remembered his return from an invited ride with the local hunt. "Poor riders, Emma, most of them," he had said, "save Sir John and his son." He smiled. "Reynard got away, cunning beast. It was hard for me not to laugh."

* * * * *

Three weeks passed and Emma had almost forgotten about Richard Faulkner's cousin, when her employer sought her out in her little parlour. She was taking a brief break from her duties and had prepared herself a buttered scone to eat as she drank her tea. She had just taken a bite when Faulkner knocked briefly on her door and came into the room. Surprised, Emma caught her breath and found herself choking on her scone. Quick to realise what was happening, Faulkner struck her a sharp blow in the back and the obstruction was dislodged. Faulkner was holding her by the shoulders, concern on his face.

"Are you all right, Emma?" He was looking her straight in the eye, concern on his face.

"I am, sir. Thank you. I...," she faltered.

"Emma," said Faulkner softly and drew her gently towards him. Her heart pounding, Emma slowly raised her face, her eyes closing, when Faulkner abruptly released her. She stepped back, startled, and he cleared his throat, a flush on his face.

"My cousin's daughter arrives tomorrow," he said harshly. "I arranged that I would collect her from the coaching inn in Hexham, but I have a meeting in Corbridge tomorrow. Would you go to Hexham in my place, to meet Lucy and fetch her back here?"

"Of course, Colonel. It will be my pleasure." She took refuge in formality.

"Thank you, Emma," said Faulkner. "I would like you to prepare breakfast early, so that we can leave by seven. I'll ask Dan to harness the gig for you and I will ride with you as far as the crossroads."

"Of course, Colonel. Breakfast at half-past six, perhaps?"

"That will be fine, Emma. Thank you." He turned abruptly and went out, and Emma stared after him for a long time, her thoughts confused.

Seven o'clock the following morning found Emma riding in the gig with Faulkner as far as the crossroads where the routes to Hexham and Corbridge diverged. Faulkner mounted and looked across at Emma.

"I do not know what time I shall return, Emma, but I will make every effort to return for dinner tonight." He smiled. "I know you will make Lucy welcome." He nodded, gazed at her for a moment and seemed about to speak, then wheeled his mount and spurred him off towards Corbridge. Emma watched him until a bend in the road took him out of her sight, then sighed, clucked at the gig's horse and turned the gig towards Hexham. The town was quiet when she arrived as it was not a market day and the streets were virtually empty. The inn was calm and a private room was certainly available and did the lady want any refreshments? Settled in the private parlour, Emma looked around, found some books on a shelf and settled herself to read while she waited for the coach.

As she was the only female who left the coach, Emma surmised that the young woman must be Lucy, the blonde hair and bright blue eyes a notable contrast to her own tawny locks and dark brown eyes. With the hint from Faulkner that there had been some scandal, Emma had expected something different to this seemingly friendly, slightly plump but otherwise apparently ordinary young woman.

"Miss McFey?"

"Yes? What is it?"

"My name is Emma Dodd. I am Colonel Faulkner's housekeeper. He has business in Corbridge that he could not avoid. He sends his apologies and will join you for dinner this evening. He asks me to escort you to his home."

Lucy pouted in disappointment. "I was looking forward to seeing cousin Richard. He might be the only thing worth consideration in this forsaken place."

Stung, Emma was icily civil. "He did assure me that he would conclude his business as soon as possible, Miss McFey." Emma looked around. "You have no maid with you?"

"Alas, no," said Lucy. "Mary is not a good traveller. She stayed at home. I assume that I can hire someone locally? Someone experienced, I mean."

"I'm sure you can. I'll ask Colonel Faulkner just as soon as he returns. In the meantime I will assist you in any way you need."

Lucy McFey nodded, accepting Emma's offer as if of right. "Is there anything to eat? I feel rather hungry now I am no longer on that accursed coach."

Emma gestured to the inn. "I have arranged lunch for us. I have a room reserved and I trust you will not object to my sharing."

"I suppose not. You do at least have decent manners compared to some of these locals."

"This way, then," said Emma, her face revealing nothing, but determined now to dislike this girl who was so dismissive of her beloved Northumberland.

With food and a glass of wine inside her, Lucy McFey was a more amiable companion and she submitted Emma to a barrage of questions about the Faulkner household. She was obviously disappointed when Emma told her that Faulkner did little entertaining at the house, but cheered up when Emma told her that she had been invited, with Faulkner, to Sir John Armstrong's home a few miles away.

"Well, that is good to hear. In London I attended at least one ball each week."

"I am afraid that we have simpler tastes here, Miss McFey, and I think Colonel Faulkner enjoys the quiet life after his military service."

"I shall have to persuade him otherwise," declared Lucy.

The rest of the journey was made in comparative silence and Emma decided that Lucy was sulking. She showed her to the room chosen for her by Faulkner, situated directly beneath her own, and left her there.

"Dinner will be at seven, Miss McFey. If you require anything in the meantime, please ring. Either myself or Maria will attend you."

Faulkner returned earlier than he had expected and at four-thirty Emma was serving him tea in his study.

"Has Lucy arrived safely, Emma?"

"She has, Colonel, and is presently taking a nap. Is there anything else?"

"Not at the moment, Emma. Please ask Lucy if she will join me in the parlour."

Lucy was awake, had changed and was looking out of her bedroom window. She took Emma's hand and pointed. "What is that, over there? It seems to be a wall, but if it is, it must run for miles."

Emma smiled. "It is, and it does. That is what is left of Hadrian's Wall, built by the Romans almost seventeen hundred years ago."

"Goodness," cried Lucy. "I heard tell of it at school, but never thought I should see it myself. Can I get closer?"

"Tomorrow, I shall show you, if you wish," Emma offered, trying not to show her reluctance.

"Please, Emma, I would like that."

"Come downstairs if you are ready. Colonel Faulkner asks that you join him in the parlour." Lucy was dressed now in a light gown of palest blue, cut low over her full breasts, gathered tightly beneath them, supporting and enhancing. Her blonde hair was piled on her head and she had satin slippers on her feet. Her mood seemed much different now to what it had been as Emma travelled with her in the gig.

"You know, you are quite the most handsome housekeeper I have ever met," declared Lucy. "Are you Richard's lover?" she asked abruptly.

Emma gasped, and about to issue a vehement denial perversely checked herself. "Alas, no," she said as calmly as she could manage, laughing lightly. "I fear Colonel Faulkner does not notice me." Emma glanced across at Lucy, noticing for the first time a medallion pendant suspended in the warm valley between her breasts. The dim light of the hall did not lend itself to inspection and she resolved to look more closely in the brighter light of the parlour. There was something else about Lucy, too, for she was not the same girl she had been on the journey from Hexham. Strange, thought Emma, it is almost as if she were a different person altogether.

"Not notice you?" cried Lucy. "I shall make sure that he does."

Alarmed, for she wished for nothing that might damage her relationship with Faulkner, Emma put her hand lightly on Lucy's arm. "Please, Miss McFey, say nothing."

Lucy looked at her for a moment, then put her hand over Emma's and squeezed it lightly, sending a sudden unexplained tingle through her. "As you wish, Emma."

Faulkner was waiting for them in the parlour. A decanter of claret stood waiting at the side. He stood as the women came in and almost stared at them for a moment before remembering his manners and smiling a greeting.

"My dear Lucy, words fail me to describe your beauty."

"Why, thank you, cousin Richard," said Lucy, and she dropped into a deep curtsy, so much so that Emma almost expected her breasts to pop free from her gown. Richard Faulkner must have thought so too, Emma thought, as his eyes were fixed on Lucy's swelling bosom. A faint flush suffused his cheeks as he caught Emma's eye. As Lucy rose from her curtsy her eye caught Emma's and a smile, smirk almost, flitted across her face. She was about to turn to the table when Faulkner stopped her.

"A moment please, Lucy. Your pendant; I have not seen its like before. May I examine it?"

"Of course, cousin. Here," she said, lifting the cord over her head and handing him the medallion. As she did so she looked almost confused for a moment. Faulkner inspected the medallion closely, examining both sides, before handing it back to Lucy, with a piercing look.

"The medallion is ivory, I think, but this cord is most fascinating, for I have never seen its like before. Look, Emma, see how the cord seems woven from golden thread, but it is endless, without a fastening. These images, however, these I have seen before. Or something very like them," he said as Lucy lifted the cord of the medallion back over her head, her breasts again seeming likely to escape their flimsy restraint as she raised her arms.

"Do tell us, sir," said Emma, "where?"

"In India," said Faulkner, tearing his gaze away from Lucy's bosom.

"India?" asked Lucy excitedly, "when were you in India?"

"It was back in '03. I had just been promoted to lieutenant when the regiment was sent to India. I had been there some three months when I was sent to escort one of the local bigwigs. I had some free time and there was a temple, which I was encouraged to visit by my brother officers. I realised why when I saw the carvings." He flushed.

"Carvings, Richard? Of what?" asked Lucy.

"Errm, er, um, men and women," said Faulkner, obviously embarrassed.

"Doing what?" asked Lucy, her eyes wide.

Faulkner hesitated, and Emma spoke up impulsively. "In coitus, I believe," she said, feeling heat in her cheeks and berating herself for speaking so freely.

Lucy gasped and clapped her hands together and Faulkner glanced sharply at Emma. "How do you know that?" he asked.

She faced him steadily. "My father had an excellent library. Some of his books are still with me, here." And there are illustrations, which make me feel most strange when I look at them, she thought.

"I see," said Faulkner, nodding. "You are right, of course. There were also carvings of the local deities. Unless I am mistaken, Lucy's pendant bears likenesses of Shakti and Shiva, the Nurturer and the Destroyer, or something much akin to them."

"Goodness," said Lucy, lifting her pendant so that she could look at it. "How exciting." She smiled. "I care nothing for its origins, I just like wearing it. I feel good when I do, exciting and attractive."

Interesting, thought Emma. She laughed to herself. I don't think I have anything that makes me feel good wearing it. Aloud she said, "If you will excuse me, I have the dinner to prepare. I will call you at seven?"

"At seven," Faulkner confirmed.

Emma retired to the kitchen where Maria was preparing vegetables and the two women worked in companionable silence for a while until Emma broke it.

"Maria?"

"Si, Miss Emma?"

"Colonel Faulkner?"

"Si?"

"Did he have no lady friends, I mean, when you knew him in Spain and France. No, I'm sorry, I should not ask you such questions." Emma found herself flustered.

Maria regarded her, head tilted like a bird. "The Colonel, he have lady friends, si, but no one he like special, I think." Maria smiled. "He like you, Miss Emma, but I think he scared of you."

"Scared of me? Ridiculous," said Emma, and hurriedly changed the subject. "Do we have enough vegetables prepared, do you think?"

Maria looked at her for a moment, then smiled. "I think you like the Colonel, too, Miss Emma. Si, we have enough vegetables. I wash them now."

Emma let her mind dwell upon Richard Faulkner and Lucy McFey. Lucy was playing the coquette, she thought, finding herself unusually irritated by the thought. A thought that was confirmed when she served dinner to the two of them, for Lucy was hanging upon every word Richard Faulkner uttered, oohing and aahing at his tales of military life. She was still acting in the same manner, but this time sitting next to him on the sofa, when Emma served them tea in the parlour after dinner was finished.

"Thank you, Emma, that will be all for this evening," said Faulkner.

"Very well," said Emma. "What time do you want breakfast tomorrow, Colonel? Eight? Eight-thirty?"

An embarrassed look appeared on Faulkner's face. "Oh, Emma, forgive me! I forgot to tell you. I have to go to Newcastle tomorrow. I need to leave early and I will be away overnight. Could you prepare breakfast for seven, please?"

"Of course." Emma glanced at the clock. Almost ten. "I'll go to bed now, Colonel, if that's all right, if I have to be up early. With your permission, I'll get these dishes in the morning."

"Of course. I'll see you at breakfast, then."

Emma turned to Lucy. "Will you require an early breakfast too, Miss McFey? Or shall I make yours later?"

"Later, Emma. About nine would be most satisfactory. Might I have it in bed?"

Emma smiled. "Of course. Goodnight then, Miss McFey. Goodnight, Colonel."

The others smiled and wished her goodnight in their turn, and Emma made her way back to her room. There was still some summer light in the sky and she had no need for a candle, so she undressed in the warm gloom of her room and in moments was in her bed, dropping off into a sleep where her dreams were peopled with Richard Faulkner and Lucy McFey, who for some reason kept trying to remove her clothing. She woke suddenly, startled awake by some unheard noise and lay for a moment trying to orient herself.

'What was it?' she thought, listening, and then it came again, a moan. The sound came from the open window and she realised it was probably coming from Lucy's room, below her own. 'Is she ill?' Emma wondered. 'Mayhap I'd better check'. Slipping from her bed, she donned a light wrapper and went soundlessly down the stairs in her bare feet.

The door to Lucy's room was ajar, candle light spilling softly into the hallway. Emma tiptoed closer and peered round the door, a gasp stifled in her throat, her hands to her mouth to still her cry. Richard Faulkner was lying on Lucy's bed, on his back, head comfortably supported by pillows. He was naked. His hand was at his groin, idly stroking the first erect male penis Emma had ever seen. She felt a flush of guilt and excitement rush through her at the sight, and her nipples tightened as she stared at it, fascinated. At first Emma could not see Lucy, but then the blonde girl moved into view. She had removed her gown and was wearing a light wrapper like Emma's own. Unlike Emma, she wore no nightgown beneath it and the shadows of her nipples were clearly visible. She had loosened her hair, her blonde curls cascading down her back and around her shoulders.

Lucy's bed was oriented so that its head was towards the wall in which the door was cut, so that Emma had a good view of Faulkner's body, but not his face. Emma could also see Lucy clearly in the candlelight. She was startled when Lucy spoke, her voice husky.

"Pray, do tell me what you are planning to do with that magnificent weapon, Richard?"

"Why, I plan to tup you with it, lass, since you have made it very plain to me that such is your desire."

"Oh, it is, Richard, indeed it is!"

"You need to be a little nearer, then, I think." Richard Faulkner's tone was playful.

"I do believe you are right, cousin," said Lucy, an eager smile on her lips.

"It would be a welcome sight to see you naked, too, girl."

"That I will arrange immediately, cousin. Like you what you see?" Lucy asked as she unbelted her wrapper and dropped it to the floor. She pirouetted, giggling.

"Why, most certainly, little cousin, for you are indeed beautiful."

And she was, thought Emma. A little plumper than Emma, Lucy's belly was gently rounded and her breasts stood proud from her chest, soft pillows tipped with enticing pink nipples, pink nipples which were hardening and crinkling even in the warmth of the summer evening.

"Thank you, cousin," said Lucy, curtsying, incongruous in her nakedness, her breasts swaying to her movements. She moved over to the bed and knelt astride Richard Faulkner's legs, then shuffled forward until she was poised above him. "Are you ready?"

"Aye, lass, as ever I will be. Feel me," he suggested.

Lucy reached down and took his erection in her little hand. "Mmm," she murmured, "it is indeed exceeding firm, Richard." She moaned softly. "I must have it, I must have it now!" she cried.

"Well, have it lass, for faith, and we'll both enjoy the coupling."

Emma watched breathlessly as Lucy lowered herself so that Richard's prick parted her lower lips and penetrated to her very core. She was fascinated as she watched, a tingling growing between her own legs as her excitement grew. Lucy's nether lips were pushed in as she lowered herself over Richard Faulkner's erection, and then pulled out as she rose again, the gleam of her secretions covering Faulkner's rigidity.

Faulkner groaned as she came down again, a lustful groan that made Emma quiver as she watched and listened.

"You are wonderfully tight upon me, Lucy, wonderfully tight. As tight as I have ever felt," said Faulkner thickly.

Lucy giggled. "Thank you, cousin. That is what dear Arthur said, too."

"Who is Arthur?" asked Faulkner, then groaned again as Lucy sank down on him.

"Arthur Pendleton. He it was who gave me the pendant. Aye, and took my virginity the very same night. Oh, it was so good!" she sighed.

"You are cock-smitten, then, lass? You enjoy this?"

"Oh, I do, cousin! And so do you, I vow, for if I am exceeding tight, then you are exceeding hard, and you fill my quim most wonderfully."

Emma suddenly realised that Lucy McFey was still wearing the pendant. But only that, and a most satisfied look upon her face as she rose and fell steadily on Richard Faulkner's erection.

Lucy raised her hands to her breasts and cupped them, lifting, squeezing, pulling the nipples. Her movements were quickening and a slight gleam of sweat was on her brow in the warm summer night. Emma could feel her own excitement building as she stood in the gloom of the hallway, wanting to tear herself away but finding her legs unwilling to move her in her fascination at the scene unfolding before her. There was no sound save Lucy's heavy breathing and her occasional moan, and the liquid slither of her movements on Richard Faulkner's prick, so that Emma was startled when Faulkner spoke.

"Lucy, my little lover, I come very close to spending." His voice was tight, strained.

"I too, Richard."

"You want my seed within you?"

"All of it!" cried Lucy, then screamed tightly. "Oh, Richard! I come!"

"Aargh!" cried Faulkner. "I too!" He was driving up into Lucy, lifting her on his prick so that her breasts bounced and her face was contorted in a rictus of pleasure.

Gradually they stilled and Lucy collapsed forwards on Faulkner. Emma saw his arms come up to clasp her and she made to tiptoe away but paused when Faulkner spoke.

"I hope we did not wake Emma. Her room is just above this."

"You do not worry about a servant, do you?" asked Lucy, surprised.

"Emma is more than servant, Lucy. This was her family home, until her father died and left her in debt. Only by selling the house and becoming my housekeeper could she escape homelessness and poverty. She is too fine a lady for that to happen. Yes, she is my housekeeper but I consider her a friend, too."

Surprise and pleasure struck Emma. Oh, that you were more than friend, she thought, and that it were I rather than Lucy sharing your bed.

"Have you told her that?" asked Lucy.

"No, I regret not. Perhaps I shall."

"You should." Lucy sat up then, still rosy and dishevelled, still impaled on Faulkner. She smiled down at him. "Perhaps Emma would like to have joined us?"

Faulkner snorted. "I think not, Lucy."

Lucy looked up and Emma realised that she was looking straight at her. "Do not be so sure, Richard. I think Emma might be very interested in what we do tonight."

Shocked, Emma realised that Lucy could see her. Her face aflame, she turned and fled, soundless in her bare feet, locking herself in her room and throwing herself on her bed. She lay sleepless for a long time, imagining every night noise to be further lovemaking by Faulkner and Lucy, realising that she wished it was herself that Richard Faulkner fucked. Yes, fucked, she thought; rutting like an animal, because I want him. Sobbing into her pillow, eventually she fell into a troubled sleep.

* * * * *

Morning found Emma serving breakfast to Richard Faulkner before his trip to Newcastle. She tried to avoid his eye, being certain that Lucy would have told of her watching, but Faulkner was his usual polite and almost silent breakfast-time self and she began to think that perhaps he did not know, although he seemed unusually troubled and somewhat tired. She bade him farewell at seven and watched as he rode away, watched until he had gone from sight. At eight, Dan and Maria came to check what provisions were required for the household and by eight-thirty were away to Hexham, to purchase what was necessary. Emma did not expect them back until evening, so she was alone in the house with Lucy.

At nine, Emma prepared a breakfast tray and took it up to Lucy McFey's room. Taking a deep breath, she knocked and then opened the door and went in. She almost stumbled, startled, as she saw Lucy sitting up in bed, quite unconcerned, obviously still naked for her breasts were on clear display, the nipples dormant now, the medallion pendant resting comfortably between them.

"Good morning, Emma," said Lucy brightly. "Did you sleep well?" she asked, her tone implying the anticipation of a negative response.

"I - I - I." Emma faltered.

"You were watching us, Emma, weren't you?" asked Lucy quietly.

"I heard a moan, I thought you were ill. I came to check." Emma subsided into silence again, the breakfast tray still in her hands.

"Put the tray on the dresser, Emma, and come sit on the bed," said Lucy gently.

Almost numbly, Emma did as she was bid, sitting on the edge of Lucy's bed, hands tightly clasped, avoiding Lucy's eye. She jumped, startled, when Lucy put her hand gently on her arm.

"It's all right, Emma, I didn't tell Richard that I'd seen you watching us. It's our secret, yours and mine."

Emma looked up at Lucy. "Thank you," she whispered.

"But if you want me to keep our secret, you'll have to do something for me in return."

Emma looked at Lucy, surprised. "What?"

"Take off your clothes, all of them."

"No!" cried Emma.

"Yes," said Lucy quietly. "I know we are alone in the house, for Richard is gone to Newcastle and Dan and Maria to Hexham. I know where they have gone as I was listening behind the door when they came to see you."

"But - " began Emma, scarcely knowing what she was saying, but feeling a rising excitement that she was at a loss to explain.

"But nothing," said Lucy. "Your clothes, all of them. Please, Emma dear, just for me. Don't you like me?"

"Of course I do." Although do I? I wonder, for you have bedded Richard Faulkner and I have not, she thought. I think I hated you last night.

"And I like you, dear Emma, so please, take off your clothes."

"Why?" whispered Emma.

"Because I want to make love to you and I cannot if you are fully dressed. Have you not daddled with another woman before?" There was surprise in Lucy's tone.

Numbly, Emma shook her head.

"It is exceeding pleasant, Emma, for only another woman can truly know where and how to touch to give the most pleasure. Your clothes, Emma. Your dress, your shift, your stockings, your shoes. All of them. Now." She smiled. "Or do you wish me to tell Richard that you were watching us?"

Almost in shock, reluctantly but with a rising excitement, Emma complied, retaining enough sense to fold her clothes neatly until she stood naked and barefoot beside Lucy McFey's bed, trying to shield herself with her hands. Lucy swung back the bedclothes and stood before Emma. "Don't worry, Emma. I'm not going to hurt you." She reached out and gently but firmly took Emma's hands and pushed her arms down until Emma stood straight with her arms at her side, her fists clenched.

"That's better," said Lucy. She studied Emma so intently that Emma's flush deepened. "Do you know, Emma dear, how lovely you are? I think if Richard could see you now he would not rest until he had made love to you all night long. Would you like that, Emma? Would you like Richard to make love to you all night long? You would, wouldn't you? Answer me, Emma."

"Yes," Emma whispered.

"Louder, Emma," demanded Lucy. "I didn't hear you properly. Would you like Richard to make love to you all night long? Would you?"

"Yes!" Emma screamed, "Yes, yes, yes!"

"I thought so," said Lucy musingly, walking around Emma, studying her. Emma was startled to feel Lucy's hand squeeze her bottom as she passed behind her.

"Nice," said Lucy, "so firm. Richard will like that."

"He'll never come near me," Emma cried despairingly.

"Oh, I'll make sure he does, dear Emma. If you couldn't be his wife, would you be his mistress?"

"Yes," Emma whispered.

"Ah," said Lucy. "I thought so. You love him, don't you?"

"With all my heart," said Emma, realising with a great sense of relief that she had spoken nothing but the truth, and finally fully acknowledged the desire she had been denying to herself.

"I will be leaving soon," Lucy said.

"I thought you were staying for a month," said Emma, startled again.

"That is what dear Mama thinks, Emma, and so does Richard. Arthur said he would come and rescue me, just as soon as he could."

"Rescue you," cried Emma. "From what? I do not think that what I saw last night was unwilling!"

Lucy smiled reminiscently. "Not on my part, true, but Richard took some persuading. When he realised that I was serious, I swear he grew to hardness almost immediately." Lucy giggled. "He was exceeding pleased to be rid of his breeches." She sobered and studied Emma again. "But now it's time for us."

"What do you mean?" asked Emma cautiously, wondering just what Lucy McFey had in mind.

"Have you ever made love to a woman, Emma?"

Numbly, Emma shook her head.

"I have," said Lucy, "and I assure you it is very pleasant, so I'm going to make love to you, Emma, and then you're going to make love to me."

"I don't know how," whispered Emma, a strange excitement building in her.

"I know what feels good to me, when Richard or Arthur do it," said Lucy, "so I'll do that to you, as best I can. Then you can return the favour." Lucy reached out and pulled Emma gently towards her. The two girls were almost the same height and Emma closed her eyes as Lucy raised her lips for a kiss.

The shock as their lips met was followed by a greater one as Emma felt Lucy's breasts press against her own. Lucy's lips were warm and soft and Emma realised with a guilty shock that she was enjoying the kiss. Tentatively she put her arms around Lucy enjoying the feel of the warm smoothness of her skin and felt the younger girl press against her. Lucy gently broke the kiss and leaned back in the circle of Emma's arms. She smiled.

"That was nice," she said. "Let's do it again."

Eagerly this time, Emma leaned into Lucy's kiss. It was firmer this time and with a shock, Emma felt Lucy's tongue pressing into her mouth. Unconsciously, her lips opened and her own tongue crept out to duel with Lucy's, the heat of the kiss building in both of them until Emma broke the kiss, shuddering, staring at Lucy who regarded her with equal surprise.

Lucy smiled at Emma. "As nice a kiss as any man e'er gave me," she said.

Emma smiled tremulously back at her. "My first with either sex. At least, a kiss of that sort."

"It shall not be your last, Emma. Come, let us lie on my bed." Lucy took Emma's hand and pulled her to the bed, urging her onto it. "Lie in the middle, Emma, that I may kiss you and touch you."

"Touch me?" asked Emma, something in her thrilling at the thought of the younger woman's touch.

"Yes, touch you." Lucy scrambled onto the bed beside Emma, kneeling, her legs spread. Glancing across Emma saw the rosy cleft of Lucy's quim peeping through her blonde curls, glistening now with a hint of her juices.

I must look like that, thought Emma, for I certainly feel as wet. Lucy reached out to her and caressed her cheek, cupping her chin and stroking with extended finger along the line of Emma's jaw. Impulsively, Emma turned her head and kissed Lucy's hand.

Lucy chuckled. "I think I sense a slackening of your resistance, Emma."

Emma laughed. "Poof! It is gone! I want now only to enjoy what you plan for me, and to repay you in kind." Oh, yes! Touch me, Lucy, she thought, for I am on fire.

"Aah," said Lucy, "you like my touch?"

Emma flushed and smiled. "I do."

"You shall have more of it," said Lucy, running her hand over Emma's shoulder, to her elbow, then stroking back up the underside of Emma's arm, softly cupping the lower slopes of Emma's breast, until with a shock as fierce as summer lightning, Lucy's thumb stroked across Emma's now-engorged nipple. Emma gasped and Lucy chuckled. "You like that; I can tell."

"Oh, yes!" cried Emma, "I have never felt my nipples harder, ever."

Lucy glanced down at herself and giggled. "Mine own, too, Emma dear. Look!"

Emma looked at Lucy and saw that her nipples were, like her own, full and hard. She reached out tentatively to touch Lucy's breast, feeling it soft and heavy in her hand, the nipple a hard nub against her thumb. Her hand brushed the pendant and she felt a sudden rush of something - love, desire, lust, she knew not - rush through her. She drew Lucy to her and kissed her fiercely, their mouths open to each other, their tongues fighting for dominance in the arena of their mouths.

Gasping, Emma broke the kiss, her hands all over Lucy as the younger woman trailed kisses down her neck, her shoulder, kissing down the valley between her breasts, then kissing each nipple, her teeth clamping gently, tightening in exquisite torment on each nub. Lucy moved down further, kissing Emma's belly, moving down, excitement building rapidly in Emma as Lucy's teeth tugged playfully at the soft, tawny curls on Emma's mons.

Emma moved her legs apart unconsciously as Lucy moved lower, lapping at the juices in her cleft, her tongue pointed to pierce and probe Emma's quim, flicking her clitoris lightly, tormentingly, building sensation in Emma, so fierce that she felt as if all the sensation within herself was centred between her legs. Lucy's tongue was tormenting her, teasing her, torturing her so that she could scarcely breathe, building, building. Emma screamed in sudden climax as Lucy's teeth closed gently over the bud of her clitoris, peeping from its sheath in her excitement. Her belly rippled as the sensations ripped through her and she felt herself falling, falling, falling….

"Emma, Emma dear, are you all right?"

Emma became aware of Lucy's anxious face, concern in her look. She reached out and squeezed Lucy's fingers, then ran her fingers up to stroke Lucy's breast. "I believe I fainted, Lucy." Emma smiled slowly. "I think that was the most exquisite sensation I have ever experienced. What did you do to me?"

"I bit on your little soldier, but ever so gently, and I slid a finger into your quim, then you screamed and fainted." Lucy grinned, suddenly. "I know you're still a virgin," she said.

Emma flushed, embarrassed suddenly. "I am," she confirmed.

"We must get Richard to change that for you, shall we?" asked Lucy archly.

Emma bit her lip. "I will not force myself on him, and I cannot conceive of a gentleman forcing himself on a lady."

"There will be no forcing, Emma dear, believe me." Lucy smiled. "But I believe it is now your turn to pleasure me."

Emma sat up eagerly. "It is, and if I can make you feel anything like as good as you did me, Lucy, then you will be in heaven." A small corner of Emma's mind was wondering what she was doing, but the pleasure she was experiencing drove sense from her head and she was suddenly eager to show the younger woman that she could give her equal pleasure in return.

Lucy lay back and Emma leaned forward and kissed her lightly on the lips. Her own nipples were still hard and erect and in sudden inspiration she bent and rubbed her breasts across Lucy's, so that their nipples rubbed against each other. Involuntarily she moaned as she heard Lucy's gasp of pleasure.

Emma moved down and trailed her tongue from the valley between Lucy's breasts, broadened now as she lay supine, up to a nipple, to suck on it then lightly clamp it with her teeth, hearing Lucy's fresh gasp of pleasure with pleasure of her own. Then back, down into the valley and up to the other summit, nipping lightly on the bud, a shock of pleasure passing through her as her tongue touched the pendant.

Lucy was stroking Emma's head and suddenly she tugged the combs from Emma's hair, combing Emma's tawny locks with her fingers so that her hair was in wild profusion about her shoulders. Emma concentrated on running her tongue down Lucy's belly, pointing it suddenly and dabbing at Lucy's navel. Lucy giggled and Emma smiled, her tongue tracing lazy circles over Lucy's lower belly, then weaving its way through the blonde curls to Lucy's sex, hot and open, pungent to her nose, inviting.

Again Emma pointed her tongue and this time pressed lightly into Lucy's quim, hot and salty-sweet on her tongue, inviting. Emma lapped at Lucy's sex like a kitten with milk, smiling to herself as she heard Lucy's moans of pleasure, licking at Lucy's clitoris, more prominent than her own, but just as sensitive judging by the taut moans Lucy was uttering, moans that thrilled and stimulated Emma, exciting her as she brought the younger woman closer to climax. She remembered what Lucy had done and slid a finger into Lucy's sex, feeling it tight around her finger, then let her teeth brush Lucy's clitoris, exulting in her power as she felt Lucy tremble and then scream as her climax shot through her.

As Lucy gradually calmed, Emma sat back on her heels, knees apart, and lifted her arms to push back the heavy mass of her hair. That was the scene that greeted Richard Faulkner as he burst into the room, exclaiming, "I heard a scream!"

Emma yelped and tried to grab the bed cover to cover herself, failed to get a grip properly and threw herself face down on the bed, trembling, trying to cover herself with her hands. Oh dear God, she thought, for Richard Faulkner to find me like this! Lucy smiled sweetly at Faulkner who stood with an amazed look upon his face.

"You're back early, Richard," said Lucy calmly, "we didn't expect you back until tomorrow."

"I forgot some of my papers," said Faulkner absently. He shook his head as if to clear it. "Will someone please tell me what passes here?"

"Emma and I have been making love, Richard, is it not obvious? I have heard it told that it can be sweet to love a woman, but I confess I find it lacking. Emma's finger is no substitute for that mighty cock between your legs."

"You and Emma have been making love?" asked Faulkner, perplexed. "Why?"

Lucy shrugged, her breasts bobbing prettily. "I wanted to and you weren't here, so I persuaded Emma. She's lovely, isn't she? She's virgin, too."

Beside Lucy Emma wailed, her face buried in the bed, her hands over her head, trying to curl herself into the smallest space possible. Faulkner regarded her. His housekeeper, always so polite and correct in her dealings with him, so remote, seemingly unattainable, now found naked on the bed with another woman. Absently he admired the curve of her spine as she crouched, the flare of her waist, the saucy jut of her bottom. His prick twitched in his breeches. Is her front as exciting as her back, he wondered? He looked at Lucy and she smiled, cupping a breast and offering it to him while her other hand played idly with the soft curls on her mons.

She looked up at him under her eyelashes. "Why don't you take your clothes off and join us, Richard?" she asked softly, "Emma is in love with you. She wants to make love to you, don't you, Emma?"

Emma wailed anew and tried again to make herself invisible.

A shock went through Faulkner. "Is it true, Emma?" asked Faulkner urgently, "Are you in love with me? I pray it is so, dear Emma, for I have long wanted you."

Emma could barely believe her ears. Richard Faulkner declaring his desire for her? Was it possible? She raised her tear-stained face slightly and looked shyly up at him. Faulkner sat down on the bed next to her and put his hand on her bare shoulder, stroking lightly, revelling in the warm touch of her skin.

"It's true, Emma," he said softly, "I love you. I have almost since the day we met, but you were so correct, so remote, I dared not speak of it, lest I offend you. I did not dare to think a woman like you could love me."

"You love me, Richard?" Emma said wonderingly.

"Aye, dear heart, I do."

"Oh, Richard, I love you too," Emma cried, springing up onto her knees on the bed and lacing her fingers behind his neck, raining kisses on his face. She stopped suddenly, horror on her face and tried again to cover herself.

"Oh, what must you think of me?" she cried.

Faulkner took Emma by the shoulders and shook her gently. "Emma, look at me. Emma?"

Shyly, Emma raised her tear-stained face. "Yes, Richard?"

Deliberately, Faulkner let his eyes roam over Emma's naked torso, admiring, taking in the curving swell of her breasts, the slenderness of her waist, the flare of her hips, the tawny mane of hair flowing about her shoulders. She gasped at the almost physical impact of his gaze.

"You are lovely, Emma, truly. I want to make love to you; I want to make love to you now. May I Emma? May I make love to you?"

"Oh, yes, Richard, please, yes," whispered Emma and, trembling, raised her lips to his as he brought his head down to kiss her.

The kiss was soft at first, shy even, but Emma was losing herself in the sensation and she was not surprised when Faulkner's lips parted and his tongue insinuated itself. Eagerly she welcomed it, twining it with her own, the kiss lifting her, an ache growing between her legs, an ache that could only be eased by feeling Richard Faulkner's prick entering her. It was almost a physical blow when Lucy spoke.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, my dears," she said, "but this is my bedroom. I wish the two of you well, but I'd rather like to have my breakfast now. Emma is very tasty, but she doesn't satisfy normal hunger. Why don't you take Emma to your room, Richard? I'll join you later if I may, but I think that perhaps, just for now, three is very much a crowd. Do you not agree?"

Faulkner laughed. "You are right, Lucy. May she join us later, my dear?" he asked Emma.

"Please, yes, do join us, Lucy," said Emma, reaching out for Lucy's hand and squeezing her fingers, but thinking, 'No! I want him to myself!'

"I will," said Lucy, laughing as Faulkner slid a hand under Emma's knees and shoulders and picked her up, naked as she was. Emma put her arms around Faulkner's neck and buried her face in his shoulder, so that she did not have to show the raw desire in her gaze.

"Would you open the doors for me, please?" Faulkner asked Lucy, chuckling as the naked young woman sauntered past him with an exaggerated roll of her hips. Lucy opened her bedroom door with a flourish and waved Faulkner through, then scampered past and opened his own bedroom door. All the while he was carrying her, Emma was raining kisses on Faulkner's face and neck and when he laid her down on his bed she stretched luxuriantly, like a cat, exulting in the desire that showed on his face, desire that could only match her own, never exceed it.

"Oh, Emma," whispered Faulkner, "you are so beautiful, my love." He sat on the edge of the bed and reached out slowly, giving Emma plenty of time if she wished to avoid his touch, but as his hand came down, she arched her back the sooner to let her breast feel his touch. Her nipples were hard and aching and the warm roughness of his horseman's hand sent a quiver through her. She moaned softly and Faulkner hesitated. Quickly, Emma's own hand came up to keep his in place.

"Your touch is exciting to me, dearest Richard," she whispered. Faulkner smiled and bent over to kiss her gently.

"Are you ready, my love?" Faulkner asked softly.

Inspired, and led by an impulse so new to her that she was unaware, she took his hand and placed it between her legs. "Feel me," she whispered, "feel how ready I am."

Faulkner groaned and stroked his finger along her cleft, then brought his finger to his mouth and licked off her juices. Emma was startled and stared at him.

Faulkner smiled. "I love the taste of a woman, Emma, and you have the sweetest flavour I have known." He stood and removed his jacket, discarding it on a bedside chair, and then sat to tug off his boots.

Emma lay on her side, propped on her elbow, watching her lover prepare himself to take her. I am about to lose my virginity, she thought, and outside of wedlock, too. I should be ashamed, but I am not. I am excited, I am willing, and at this moment I want nothing more than to feel Richard Faulkner's prick enter my body. She studied Faulkner as he undressed. His back was to her and she watched the play of the muscles in his back, gasping as he turned, his erection rampant, ready like a stallion for her.

"Oh, Richard," she whispered, gazing in horrified fascination at his hardness, "you are too big!"

"Hush, sweet Emma," said Faulkner, laying beside her and taking her in his arms. "You are so wet I think that you will scarce feel my entry." He reached out and tucked a tendril of her hair behind her ear. "Touch me, my love, feel me." He chuckled. "Make friends with he who violates your maidenhead."

Trembling, Emma reached out timidly and touched Faulkner's prick, then snatched her hand back. "It's so hot," she whispered, but then reached out again, this time to stroke, then lightly clasp the bulbous top, scarcely getting her hand around it. "It feels so nice, as if it were covered in velvet," she said, surprised.

Faulkner groaned again. "Ah, Emma, your touch…" He pulled her to him, kissing her fiercely, bruising her mouth. Uncaring, she kissed him back as fervently, stroking his back, feeling him move. She moved her legs apart, so that he could kneel between them, the swollen purple head of his prick vivid in her gaze. Faulkner propped himself on one hand and took hold of his erection with the other, pointing it, aiming.

With a shock of pleasure, Emma felt the head of his prick in her cleft, huge, menacing, but oh, she wanted him so! Faulkner rubbed the head up and down her slit, coating it with her juices, causing shocks of pleasure to run through her as the head rubbed against her clitoris.

"Come into me, Richard, fuck me!" " she begged, shocking herself with her own language.

"Aye, lass," said Faulkner hoarsely, "I must, ere I spend upon you instead of within you." He steadied himself and then pushed, and Emma, for the first time in her life, felt a man's erection ready to enter her. Faulkner paused a moment, getting used to the feel of her, coating himself with her juices, then pushed again.

Emma gasped as she felt his prick against her hymen, then winced as Faulkner pushed, gasping in pain as he pushed anew. He drew back, concern on his face.

"Do I hurt you, my sweet?"

"A little. A moment, please," she whispered.

He eased back, the tip of his prick still lightly touching her, while Emma adjusted her position slightly. She smiled up at him, a faint beading of sweat on her brow.

"Again, my love. Be gentle, please."

Faulkner pressed forward again. Emma gasped as pain shot through her, then cried aloud at a fresh spasm. Faulkner eased back, concerned, but Emma seized his hips, pulling him towards her as she thrust fiercely with her own. Stabbing pain shot through her, and then receded as she felt the enormity of sensation of having him within her, deep within her.

"A moment again," she gasped, trembling, trying to ease herself into a position of comfort. Faulkner paused, holding himself immobile. Emma felt the pain diminish, then began to thrill to the sensation of having him within her. Oh, Mama, she thought, you told me I must bear the discomfort of penetration in order to bear children, but you said nothing about the pleasure. She smiled up at Faulkner.

"Love me, Richard," she whispered.

Faulkner began to move, pressing gently forward, then easing aback until he almost left her, coating his prick with her juices, then pressing forward again. She felt tight about him, tighter even than Lucy, and he knew it could not be long before he must spend. He lengthened his strokes, letting her feel the length of his weapon, enjoying the slither of his prick in her quim; enjoying, too, the sound of that slither and the soft springy feel of Emma's pubic hair rubbing against him as he moved.

Emma had closed her eyes, concentrating on the sensation of Richard Faulkner's prick within her, enjoying it, abandoning herself to the sensation, feeling herself fill as he pressed forward, empty as he pulled back. Her arms were around him, not clasping but touching him, stroking him as he moved. Her hands moved lower, to his buttocks, stroking him, feeling the flexing of his muscles as he thrust vigorously into her. She revelled in his thrusting, feeling unfamiliar but wonderful sensations welling in her, so that the world became only her quim and Richard Faulkner's prick, raising her, lifting her, taking her to levels of pleasure she had never anticipated. Her breathing quickened so that she was almost gasping for breath.

"Oh, Richard!" she gasped.

"What is it, dear heart?" he managed to say.

"I know not. I feel so…. I feel… I, oh, I feel…. Oh, Richard," she cried as her climax took her and carried her to pleasure on a wave of sensation she had never experienced before. She was dimly aware of Faulkner's own ecstatic thrusts as his own climax took him and she sank back into the bed, clutching him, gasping for breath, almost unconscious, drifting….

When she became aware of her surroundings again, her first sensation was weight. Faulkner was lying on her, his arms clasping her, his breathing laboured as he too came back into awareness. She could feel him still within her, but smaller now, shrinking. She giggled, suddenly.

Faulkner eased himself to his elbows and gazed warmly down at her. "What is it that amuses you so? Is my lovemaking so bad as to be worthy of your laughter?"

"No, no," she cried, smiling, shaking her head in denial. "'Tis just that I have ne'er seen your prick in anything but its most mighty state, yet I feel it diminishing within me."

Faulkner chuckled. "You will soon see the insignificant reality of me, dear one, for I must either withdraw purposefully, as if I meant to do so, or else I shall suffer the indignity of falling out, rejected by that sweet opening that I have violated."

"Never violated, Richard, do not say that!" Emma cried. "Say rather, awakened."

"Awakened, it is. Nevertheless, I must withdraw." So saying, Faulkner gently moved to remove his softened prick from within Emma's quim. Easing himself back and sitting back on his heels, he looked down and grimaced ruefully.

"What is it?" asked Emma, concerned.

"Proof, if proof were needed, sweet Emma. I am stained by your virgin's blood."

"Oh, I am glad that you have that proof!" Emma sat up and looked at him. Soft and limp his weapon now, coated with her juices, those both of love and of lost virginity. She smiled at him. He leaned forward and kissed her, just as there was a tap at the door.

Lucy came in, a wrapper about her shoulders but unfastened, her lovely body still on display. She carried a tray with a jug of water and a soft towel, which she deposited on the dresser. She came over to the bed and bent to give Faulkner a brief but positive kiss, then bent over to kiss Emma. She glanced down and smiled.

"Was it well with you, Emma? Did my cousin satisfy those urges that you and I developed in your sweet body?"

"Oh, yes, Lucy! I never dreamed before today that I could feel such pleasure."

"Aye, I felt that way too, when Arthur took my own maidenhead and rendered it history." Lucy glanced over at the clock in the corner of Faulkner's bedroom. "'Tis almost one. I think we should take luncheon and renew our strengths."

"Almost one," cried Lucy. "I should be preparing things for dinner tonight!"

"And I must leave and go on to Newcastle. I can make it by evening and will return as soon as I can tomorrow," said Faulkner. He smiled ruefully at the keen disappointment showing on the faces of both of the women. "My sincere apologies, my lovely ladies, but I must. It is a business matter and Thomas Anderson leaves for London on tomorrow afternoon's tide. I must see him ere he leaves."

"Go then," said Lucy dismissively. She shook her finger at him. "But hurry back, else Emma and I find another lover."

Emma blushed and giggled, but said nothing, although she thought to herself, 'Never another. Only Richard Faulkner is welcome within me.'

"Bathe yourselves, and I will fetch your clothes, Emma," said Lucy.

* * * * *

A scant hour later, Lucy and Emma were finishing their luncheon. Faulkner was gone to Newcastle, his promise to return as soon as possible renewed with a kiss for each of them.

"Emma, it is only we two for whom you must prepare dinner tonight, is it not?"

"Yes, indeed, dear Lucy."

"Is there nothing cold on which we might sup?"

"Indeed there is, Lucy. May I inquire as to your questioning?"

Lucy smiled. "It is but two of the clock, and you promised to show me some of the Wall. If we go now we can be back well before sunset and satisfy ourselves with a cold supper and an early night." She smiled meaningfully and Emma detected a hidden purpose in Lucy's suggestion, a purpose that resulted in a tingling within and a moistening between her legs.

"Get your coat. I shall harness the gig and we shall be away directly."

Picture of Roman Wall


And they were. The day was bright and sunny and they chatted happily, or rather Emma listened while Lucy told of Arthur Pendleton, as Emma drove the gig towards the line of the Wall. She pointed. "See, the wall runs along the top of yon escarpment. We must drive a little way yet before we can approach it on foot; there is a path along here that we can take." They arrived at Emma's chosen spot and tethered the pony, walking up the steep path until they arrived at the ruins of that great feat of engineering, Hadrian's Wall. Lucy exclaimed at the views northwards towards Scotland.

"Just imagine," she said, "what is must have been like to have been a Roman soldier on this wall, defending the Empire against invaders. I think this wall could tell many tales."

"The folk hereabouts talk of ghostly regiments marching through the night," said Emma, smiling, "but I have never seen them."

"Oh, that is too exciting, Emma. I fear I shall dream of nothing else!"

Emma laughed. "There are worse dreams, dear Lucy. Come, let us return. I want to be home before sunset."

They returned to the gig and turned it homeward. Approaching the crossroads where they would turn towards home, a rider approached from the direction of Newcastle. Spying the women, he reined in his horse and waited, doffing his hat in greeting as they approached.

"Arthur!" cried Lucy. "Emma, it is Arthur, come to rescue me as he promised!"

"Lucy, is it you?" cried the stranger, hurriedly dismounting. "I saw the gig and thought to ask directions. I can scarce believe my fortune in finding you so readily."

Lucy by now had leaped heedlessly from the stationary gig and rushed into Arthur Pendleton's arms, raining kisses upon his face. Eventually, he disengaged himself from her embrace and turned toward Emma. He bowed in greeting.

"Arthur Pendleton, madam, at your service. May I ask whom I have the honour of addressing?"

"I am Emma Dodd, sir, housekeeper to Colonel Faulkner."

"Excellent. This is well met indeed. May I please ask you to ask Colonel Faulkner to do me the honour of receiving me, Miss Dodd?"

"I shall, sir, but I fear that Colonel Faulkner is in Newcastle on business. I expect his return tomorrow. I shall ask him then."

Pendleton's face fell. "I had hoped to see him tonight." He sighed. "No matter, a day more will make no difference. Tell me, pray, where I may find accommodation?"

"Arthur can stay with us, surely, Emma?" asked Lucy excitedly.

"I fear not, Lucy," said Pendleton ruefully, "it is not meet for a single man such as myself to take a bed in a house where only the ladies are present. Not so, Miss Dodd?"

"I fear you have the truth of it, sir."

"Accommodation, then?"

Emma pointed. "There is an inn a scant mile along there, sir. They cater for travellers such as yourself. Food and bed; simple fare, but sustaining."

"It sounds capital. May I have a private word with Lucy?"

Emma hesitated, and then smiled. "I shall admire the wild flowers over there, sir. In sight but out of earshot."

Pendleton smiled, a smile of great charm, Emma thought. "I am in your debt, Miss Dodd," he said simply, and then turned to Lucy.

Emma walked out of earshot and pretended to study the wild flowers growing at the verge. Pendleton seemed amiable enough and she thought he showed some semblance of resolution in following Lucy this far North. Emma smiled. From the candid tales Lucy had told of his prowess, he was also an excellent lover. She looked up to see the lovers coming toward her hand in hand.

"It is agreed, Emma. Arthur will stay at the inn tonight and call on Richard tomorrow. Will it be all right if Arthur calls tomorrow morning and escorts me on a ride?" she asked winningly. "I couldn't bear not to see him again until Richard returns."

"With your permission, Miss Dodd, as it seems you are in charge of the household until Colonel Faulkner's return," said Pendleton.

Emma thought for a moment, but could see no harm in the suggestion. "Very well, Mr Pendleton. We shall expect you after breakfast tomorrow."

"Thank you, Emma," said Lucy, turning to kiss Pendleton. "I shall see you in the morning, my love. I can scarce wait. I shall not sleep a wink tonight."

"Do try, my sweet," said Pendleton, smiling. He kissed Lucy again, bowed to Emma and mounted his horse. "Until tomorrow," he said and wheeled his horse towards the inn, waving a hand in farewell.

"Oh, Emma," cried Lucy. "I am so excited, with Arthur so near."

Emma laughed. "Calm yourself, my dear Lucy. Tomorrow will be here soon enough. Ah, I see Dan and Maria have returned. I shall ask Dan to saddle the grey mare for you in the morning. You have your habit with you?"

"Oh, yes. I feared that riding might be the only entertainment here, so I made sure to bring it." Lucy laughed. "Tomorrow will never arrive!"

Supper was soon behind them and as nine o'clock came Lucy stood. "I am going to bed now, Emma." She smiled and reached out to touch Emma's cheek. "Please join me, Emma, you can help me to sleep," she whispered.

Emma pressed Lucy's hand against her face, and then turned to kiss the palm. "I shall, dear Lucy, just as soon as I have cleared away our supper dishes. Go, while there is still light. I shall be along directly."

As soon as she had cleared away the dishes and set things ready for breakfast, Emma undressed in her own bedroom and donned a wrapper over her nakedness. She tiptoed down to Lucy's room, only to find the younger woman in a sound sleep. Emma smiled and bent over, lightly kissing Lucy's cheek, then quietly made her way back to her own room. She reached for her nightgown, hesitated, and got into bed naked. She lay for a while reflecting on the day's events, then flushed in remembrance at her wanton behaviour with Richard Faulkner. She had behaved like a strumpet, flaunting her nakedness before him and urging him to penetrate her virgin body. But, oh! How she had thrilled to his touch, how she had enjoyed his caresses! How she had welcomed the invasion of her body by his mighty weapon! Emma felt herself moisten just at the thought of Richard's touch. But Richard is not here, alas. What am I to do? She smiled. Pretend, she thought, and let her hand stray to the fork of her legs. This is Richard's hand, not mine, she told herself as she began a gentle caress.

* * * * *

Emma woke to find Lucy standing at her bedside, the light of morning at her window.

"You did not come," said Lucy, pouting in reproof.

"I did. As I said I would, but you were sound asleep and I had not the heart to wake you."

"You should have." Lucy leaned forward and kissed Emma on the lips. "But now I shall go and get ready for dear Arthur arriving."

"And I shall go and prepare your breakfast."

"May I eat with you in your little parlour, Emma?"

"Of course, whenever you are ready. I'll bring a jug of hot water for you directly." Emma kissed Lucy lightly and swung her legs out of bed, mildly surprised to find herself naked.

Lucy smiled at her, with eyebrows raised. "Naughty Emma, not wearing her nightgown," she teased.

"A lesson you taught me, Lucy. Now go, for I must wash and dress before I can prepare our breakfasts."

Breakfast was cheerful, for Lucy was eagerly anticipating Arthur's visit and Emma in her turn was looking forward to Richard Faulkner returning home. It was not long before Lucy, watching eagerly from the window, clapped her hands in delight.

"It is Arthur," she cried, "come to fetch me." She ran to the door to welcome him. Emma followed her. Lucy was on tiptoe, kissing Arthur Pendleton in welcome, but when Emma came up Lucy turned to her. "Will Dan have my horse ready?" she asked eagerly.

Emma laughed. "I asked him to saddle her just as soon as he spotted Mr. Pendleton, Lucy. And look, there he comes now with her."

Emma was soon waving goodbye to the young couple. When noon came without their return she was not anxious, for she knew that they were eager only for each other's company, but as midday moved into late afternoon she began to worry. With Lucy's absence Emma also began to ask herself why she had let herself be dragged into a sexual liaison with Lucy. Yes, and with Richard Faulkner, too. How he must despise her, for giving in to him so easily. Whatever had become of the level-headedness for which Richard Faulkner admired her? She had shown no sign of it yesterday, that was certain, letting herself be taken out of wedlock like a common trollop. What was she thinking!

So it was with mixed feelings that Emma spotted Faulkner as he made his way up the lane towards the house, easy in the saddle like the cavalry officer he had been. Her heart lifted just to see him, but her mind raced as she wondered how to greet him. Her mind was in turmoil as she tried to tell herself to be formal when part of her wanted just to fling herself into his arms.

Faulkner was smiling as he came inside where she awaited him, a smile soon lost as she greeted him with a formal, "Good evening, Colonel, welcome home."

A part of her mind berated her for her stupidity as the smile disappeared, replaced briefly by a terrible sadness before he replied coolly, "Good evening, Emma. Is Lucy around?"

"Ah. No, Colonel. Miss McFey went riding with Arthur Pendleton."

"Pendleton is here?" There was surprise in Faulkner's tone.

"He arrived yesterday. He wished to call on you this morning, but when I told him you would be delayed he asked if he might take Miss McFey riding. I could see no harm in that."

"Indeed not, Emma. How long have they been gone?"

"Since ten this morning. I confess I begin to be anxious for their return."

Faulkner looked hard at her, frowning. "Since ten?"

Emma nodded.

"Did they say where they were going?"

Emma shook her head. "No. I assumed they would just ride the lanes for a while."

"They may have got lost and will return directly. In the meantime, I would be grateful for some food."

"At once, Colonel." As Emma turned away she caught a frown on Faulkner's face and a thoughtful look in his eye.

Emma served Richard Faulkner's dinner and then retired to her little parlour. Eight o'clock came without Lucy and Pendleton, then nine o'clock. At ten, Emma went to Faulkner's study.

"Colonel, I am worried about Miss McFey. What can have become of her?"

"I, too, Emma. Have you been up to her room?"

"No," said Emma, surprised. "I saw no need to."

"Come," said Faulkner. "Let us take a look." He lit a candle and led the way up the stairs to Lucy's bedroom. Inside they looked around, seeing nothing untoward until Emma turned back the bed covers.

"Colonel, a note!" she cried, holding it out to him.

"What does it say?"

Quickly, Emma opened the note. She read aloud. "My dear Richard and Emma, I hope it will be evening before you read this, so that we will be well on the road. Arthur and I are going to Gretna Green, to be wed. I hope you will wish us well. We both hope for your own happiness together, too. With fondest love, Lucy." Emma's voice trailed off and she looked at Faulkner. "They must have planned this last night, for Lucy never went back to her room following Pendleton's arrival this morning."

"We can do nothing tonight. I will leave at first light." Faulkner regarded her gravely. "And what of us, Emma. Only last night you told me you loved me, but since my return you have been most cool toward me."

Emma forced herself to face him. "I thought you must think me the most common trollop, the way I let you take me. I…" She faltered, not knowing quite what to say.

"Emma, Emma," said Faulkner gently. "I think you are a most uncommon trollop. You are a beautiful and passionate woman and my dream of heaven is to be in your arms." He moved closer and put a finger under her chin, raising her face so that she must look at him. "Am I no longer welcome in your bed, dearest Emma?"

Emma burst into tears. "Oh, Richard," she stammered, "You will always be welcome in my bed." Faulkner put his arms around her and held her to him. Emma buried her face in his chest, happiness bubbling through her. Faulkner held her for a moment, then eased his embrace.

"I have a confession," Faulkner began, just as Emma began to speak.

"I must tell you," she began, then stopped. She gestured to Faulkner. "Speak first, my dear."

"It's about Lucy," he began, and then paused.

"You bedded her," said Emma. She took his hand as he looked at her, guilty, astonished. She put her finger on his lips as he began to speak. "I saw you, Richard. I heard a moan. I thought she was ill and came downstairs to see. The door was ajar and I saw the two of you. I'm sorry, Richard, I did not mean to spy on you." Emma shrugged. "I think watching the two of you made me realise how much I loved you. Lucy spied me watching, but did not tell you, and when she seduced me into her bed, her intent seemed only to have you bed me in my turn." Emma smiled. "That, my dear, I would not resist if my life depended on it."

"Can you forgive me?" asked Faulkner quietly.

"Of course, for I believe Lucy has becharmed us both," cried Emma.

"The pendant," said Faulkner thoughtfully.

"What of it?"

"I think Lucy's pendant has affected us. It must be something of that ilk, for I would not ordinarily bed my own cousin's daughter, even if she were begging me to do so." Faulkner smiled ruefully. "I fear I did not need much persuading."

Emma laughed. "I have seen Lucy's unadorned beauty, dear Richard. Remember? Were I male I fear I too would have little resistance if she were trying to lure me into her bed."

He looked at her warmly. "Her beauty pales against your own, my love." He smiled. "The carvings on the medallion. Shakti and Shiva, I believe. I saw things when I was in India that defy conventional wisdom," said Faulkner seriously. "If I were told that the pendant was bewitched I might find it hard to deny. We must count ourselves fortunate that it is Shakti who affected us and not Shiva the Destroyer." Faulkner looked deep into Emma's eyes. "Tell me, Emma. Tell me true. Do you love me?"

"With all my heart," said Emma simply.

"As I love you," said Faulkner. He grinned, the sombre mood over. "To your bed, my love," he said. "I will join you directly, if I may?"

"Oh, dearest Richard, yes!" cried Emma.

"Go then. Take the candle, I can manage."

In her room, Emma undressed quickly. She reached for her nightgown automatically, and then discarded it. I sleep naked a second night, she thought, but not alone tonight. She set the candle carefully on the dresser and got into bed. I do not know which side Richard prefers, she mused, and then giggled to herself. I will lie in the middle.

She lay, waiting impatiently, her heart racing. I want him, she thought, I want him so very much. If it is my fate to be only his mistress, then so be it. I am content. She heard Faulkner's step in the hallway and sat up to welcome him.

Faulkner stopped just inside the doorway and smiled. "Ah, Emma, such beauty awaiting me." He loosened and discarded the loose robe he was wearing. Like Emma, Faulkner was naked, his erection already formidable. He lightly stroked it. "See what you do to me, dear Emma."

Emma giggled. "I cannot show so easily how you excite me, Richard, save for these manifestations of my desire," said Emma, indicating her swollen nipples, "but if you would care to join me, I am sure your touch will reveal all."

Faulkner chuckled and got into bed beside her, reaching for her, to put his left arm around her neck and stroke her body with his right. Emma moaned involuntarily as Faulkner's hand passed lightly over her nipples.

"Does my touch please you, my love," he asked.

"Oh, yes!" said Emma fervently.

"Forgive my impatience, but I can wait no longer, Emma, I must have that other touch, that of your body around me," said Faulkner, moving over her. Emma spread her legs to give him access.

"Now, Richard," she cried, "love me now!"

Faulkner eased his prick towards Emma's opening. Unsure in the dimness of the room, he missed his target. Emma chuckled and as if she had been doing it for years, deftly guided him into her, sighing as she felt him enter. Faulkner pressed forward into her, then back to spread her juices over his prick, then forward again, until he was buried to his root within her core. He paused, and kissed her gently.

"I love you, dear Emma," he said softly.

"And I love you, Richard," she said. "With my head, and with my heart, and with my body, I love you."

Faulkner began to move again and Emma moved with him. As he pressed into her, she pushed up against him, trying to swallow him entirely within herself. She clasped him with arms and thighs and heels, revelling in the smooth workings of his prick in her juices, an excitement rising in her, stimulated by the filling and emptying of her quim by his prick. The excitement built and built within her and her breathing quickened until she was almost gasping, sweat beading her brow, her nails digging into Faulkner's back until she could deny herself no longer and she surrendered to the tumult of her climax, a wordless cry escaping her lips as she peaked, before sliding slowly down into a hazy awareness that Faulkner was still rhythmically pushing into her, his breath labouring as he approached his own climax until with a grunted oath he came, thrusting almost violently into Emma's quim as his prick swelled to exquisite sensitivity in the warm wetness of her core.

Gradually the lovers descended from the peak of climax, clutching each other, trembling into stillness, slowly regaining control of their breathing, until Faulkner withdrew from Emma, collapsing on his back beside her, fingers entwined with hers. Emma came up onto her elbow and kissed him.

"I'm coming with you," she said.

"How well do you ride?" he asked bluntly.

"Very well," she replied simply.

"Side-saddle may slow you."

Emma laughed. "I have breeches and boots. I can dress myself as would a boy, if it will not embarrass you."

Faulkner laughed in his turn. "It will take more that that to embarrass me, lass." He reached out and caressed her breast and her hand came up to cover his. "You can never look like a boy to me, my dearest darling Emma. Have you done that before?" he asked curiously.

"Before my father became so ill. I was sixteen. I think I embarrassed poor Papa, but he never forbade me." Emma smiled in recollection.

"It will certainly make our journey quicker. General Wade's fine new Military Road will take us most of the way to Carlisle, then we can swing North for Gretna." Faulkner chuckled. "I think being a cavalry officer might explain my love of horses, but even that cannot say why I keep a near dozen of the beasts." He pondered. "'Tis nigh thirty-five miles to Carlisle, and another ten to Gretna, but if we bear off at Brampton and cut across to Longtown, we can cut five miles off. Get some sleep, my love, for we'll leave at first light."

* * * * *

The sun was just peeping over the horizon to the east as Faulkner and Emma rose to prepare themselves for the journey. Faulkner looked across at Emma as she reached for her clothes.

"A moment, Emma," he said.

Emma stopped what she was doing and looked at Faulkner, curious. He smiled at her.

"Stand straight and tall for a moment, my love. I would fix your beauty in my mind for our journey."

Emma laughed and did as he asked, standing straight and tall. She clasped her hands together over her head so that her breasts lifted and stood on tiptoe for a moment, before relaxing, giggling. Faulkner came to her, smiling, and took her in his arms. He looked at her, soberly.

"You are lovely, Emma Dodd, and I love you."

"I love you, Colonel Richard Faulkner," said Emma, staring deep into his eyes, trying to put all her love into a look.

Faulkner smiled again. "Dress now, my love, and let us go seek my fair cousin." He kissed her, briefly but fiercely, then turned to go to his room.

"Richard, a moment," cried Emma. "What will you do if we catch them, before they wed, I mean."

Faulkner studied her for a moment. "What would you have me do?" he asked lightly.

"Do not punish them for love."

Faulkner laughed and took Emma's hands in his. "I had more the idea of being certain in my own mind that they love each other and wishing them well." He smiled ruefully. "Wed they must, or Lucy is forever disgraced."

"Oh, Richard," cried Emma and flung herself into his arms. Faulkner took hold of her and kissed her fiercely, but as Emma responded the kiss changed, becoming a kiss of love and passion. Emma let her hand move down between them to touch Faulkner's penis, dormant now but twitching slightly at her touch. She grasped him and Faulkner broke the kiss, smiling.

"You would delay our departure?" he teased.

"Only as long as it takes to show you yet again how much I love you. If this confirms me as the shameless hussy I am, then so be it, but I want you Richard Faulkner, I want that beautiful weapon of yours, all hot and hard, to pierce me where my juices flow to welcome it, and I want it now."

With a joyous laugh, Faulkner picked Emma up and laid her on the bed. She threw her legs apart and Faulkner gazed for a moment at the opening revealed beneath her tawny curls. He reached out and stroked her cleft, running his finger the full length of her, lightly stroking her clitoris, then gently pushing two fingers into her while he held her gaze with his eyes.

Emma looked back at him proudly, heat in her cheeks, then gasped as his fingers moved within her.

"You like that?" Faulkner asked gently.

"I do," said Emma, "But much more do I like this," reaching for his burgeoning erection and clasping it with her small hand, lightly stroking the length of him while she revelled in the smooth, hot hardness.

"Then you shall have it," said Faulkner and moved to kneel between her spread legs. He bent to position his prick at her opening and Emma gasped in pleasure as he entered her.

"Oh, you feel so big!" She smiled at him. "And so urgent."

Faulkner eased himself into her until he was rooted in the snug, wet warmth of her and paused. He smiled down at her, and deftly rolled them over until Emma, with a startled squeal, suddenly found herself on top.

"Perhaps Miss Dodd would care to control the urgency?" he murmured, brows lifted in query.

Emma giggled and, careful not to lose his prick from her quim, brought her knees up alongside his hips, pressing on his chest so that she could sit upright. "Oh!" she said, startled, as Faulkner penetrated even deeper within her, then sighed. "Oh, dear Richard, that feels so good!"

"Oh, indeed it does," said Faulkner, relishing the tight, warm feeling of her about his prick. He smiled up at her. "You are exceedingly snug about me, Miss Dodd," he teased.

Emma flushed, but smiled down at him. "I should feel guilty, should I not? Miss Emma Dodd, spinster, fornicating with Colonel Richard Faulkner? But Richard, dear, I do not! It feels so right to me, to have your wonderful weapon within my maiden's sheath. Can it be evil, something that feels so good?"

Faulkner shook his head in warm denial as he looked up at Emma, seeing the sparkle of her brown eyes, the tawny hair loose about her shoulders, her breasts, beautiful and so soft to his touch, her nipples, engorged now in her passion. He looked down and saw her nether lips, rosy with her need, full, snug - oh, so snug! - about his erection. He looked up again, to see the warmth of her look, the love in her eyes.

She began to move, lifting herself the full length of his swollen prick, pausing, squeezing with her internal muscles - where did I learn to do that, she wondered to herself with an idle corner of her mind - then slowly letting herself slide back down the slippery length of him, then again, again.

Faulkner raised his hands to cup her breasts, squeezing gently. Emma moaned softly with pleasure as his thumbs found her nipples, rubbing lightly, caressing. She was moving faster now, a joyous slither up and down, feeling him filling her. A murmur of pleasure escaped her lips, followed by a moan as she came down harder and took his full length within her, a grunt from Faulkner at the same instant. They were breathing faster now, picking up her rhythm, hearts beating faster, rising to a peak, a peak approaching quickly now. Faulkner grunted again as she came down and he thrust up into her and she gasped as she felt him. She could feel herself getting closer and closer to the peak of pleasure, so new to her, yet so welcome, until with a joyous cry of "Yes!" she peaked, her belly rippling, her quim clamping down on Faulkner's prick in a climax of ecstasy as in his turn he thrust into her, his own climax seeded by hers, the two lovers clasping each other as they slowly descended from the summit of their shared passion.

Gradually, they stilled, and Emma eased herself from him, to lie beside him, his arm around her, holding her to him, her arm resting lightly on his chest.

"Emma, my love?"

"Yes, dear Richard?"

"When we reach Gretna, whether we catch Lucy and Pendleton before they are wed or not?"

"Yes, Richard?"

"Will you marry me?"

"Oh, yes, dear Richard! Yes, yes, yes!"

Faulkner kissed her, gently, but with a vast promise in his kiss.

"Something else, dear Emma."

"Yes, my love?"

"I fear society may turn up its collective nose at us, my marrying my housekeeper."

"I fear you have the right of it, Richard," said Emma sadly.

"I think we should go away when we are wed."

"Away, Richard? Where? London? Edinburgh? I have been to Edinburgh, but never London."

Faulkner kissed her, laughing. "No, my sweet. Not London, not Edinburgh."

"Where, then?"

"America."

"America?" cried Emma. "Why there?"

"You have no family, I have no family. We have no ties. I was there with the regiment in 1812. Yes, we got our noses bloodied, but I fell in love with the country. There is opportunity there, Emma. A new life, new beginning, and we will be accepted for who we are and what we do, not for who our fathers or grandfathers were. What do you say, my love?"

"I say 'yes', Richard. Wherever you go, I go," said Emma simply, thinking, a new life, a new beginning, hope for the future.

"Perhaps Lucy and Arthur might come too, for it is certain that my cousin Alice will be most displeased with Lucy, aye, and with me, when she learns what happens."

"Perhaps, dear Richard, but whatever happens, wherever we go, so long as you are at my side, by day, and in my bed at night, I am content."

* * * * *

For those of you who have read this far, I hope you have enjoyed my little tale. Feedback is welcome. Don't forget your own e-mail address if you ask a question or require a response!

Alex



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