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Felicity Prescott sat at the end of the very long banquet table at her own engagement celebration, not at all welcoming the salutations that had been sent her way throughout the evening. Her green eyes stared ahead of her at a large cut glass vase full of birds-of-paradise and other exotic greenery. She was beside herself with anger, hating her father, Lord Prescott, in a way that would have had her hanged for homicide had anyone known.
That gentleman was at the other end of the room, entertaining the mostly Spanish guests with ridiculous stories of his own twisted imagination. Since Lord Prescott spoke no Spanish, only a fraction of his listeners could understand him. Felicity spoke no Spanish either, which made her conversations with her husband-to-be rather limited since he spoke only a smattering of English. She found it extremely thoughtless of him to have taken an English bride without first learning the English language. She on the other hand had absolutely no intention of learning Spanish since she considered it a language far beneath her dignity. She understood it, but she would never speak it. She did, however, speak faultless French, and would have engaged anyone in her company thus, if all of them were not such ignoble brutes.
How have I gotten to this place? she had to wonder. She was twenty-two years old and a beauty at that. Her reputation was faultless. Everyone she befriended—and granted, there weren’t a lot—thought her of superior intelligence. Yes, her wit needed some polishing, but that would come with maturity. She rode well, possessed a suitable knowledge of music, and could paint the most exquisite miniature roses. What more could a person ask for?
And yet no suitable husband had been forthcoming. She’d watched as plainer and less wealthy acquaintances were snatched up and dragged to the altar as though they were prized pigs. How was it that a girl like Penelope Castleton, with her nasal voice and ridiculous giggle, could get a husband and Felicity could not? At times she thought the world had surely gone mad. There could be no other explanation.
“And now a toast,” Don Felipe Juventino said in his native tongue from his end of the banquet table. “To my English rose, flower of my love. Her very name means happiness, and in agreeing to be my wife, has brought to me the greatest joy I have ever known. To Felicity.”
The gathering toasted her. She tilted her head in acknowledgement, having understood every word. Since no one told her she must reciprocate, she merely reassumed her indifferent air, sat back in the very stiff chair, and continued consuming the fine red wine Don Felipe produced on his impressive Castilian estate.
The wedding would be in only two weeks. That in itself was shocking to Felicity; in England, there would have been an engagement of at least a year. But Lord Prescott was needed back in England and was eager to be on his way. Indeed if he’d had his way, Felicity would have been married off to Don Felipe the moment they had stepped off the boat at Santander. He knew her well and spent much of his time fearing that she would make such a scene with her violent temper that Don Felipe would send her packing.
So far, however, she was behaving herself—for Felicity, at least. She seemed to finally understand that while indeed her father possessed a sizable estate, he had also accumulated a large debt and required a substantial loan to maintain the standard of living that was his noble right. However much she hated her father and the situation she was in, she would rather die than see the Prescott name discredited.
Felicity herself was part of the arrangement between Don Felipe and Lord Prescott. Her father owned, among other things, a fleet of cargo vessels that he would sign over to Don Felipe once the marriage vows were spoken. The business aspect of the marriage did not trouble her nearly as much as the man she was going to marry.
Don Felipe had stood from his chair and was gesturing for his guests to withdraw to the various sitting rooms beyond. He was not much Felicity’s senior, not even thirty, and yet already his longish black hair was touched with streaks of gray at the temples. He possessed the blackest eyes she had ever seen; when he looked at her, she wanted to run away and hide. She could well believe he was descended from Moorish blood.
Felicity knew, of course, of her wifely duties. Had she been in England engaged to, say, a pale-skinned vicar with a soft manner, she would have welcomed her wedding night the way she welcomed baths: as something she must endure for the sake of society and, in its own way, faintly enjoyable. But with Don Felipe, the thought of actually copulating with him was appalling. He had the look of a predatory animal just waiting for a chance to seize its prey between its blood-thirsty jaws and rip it to shreds.
Even now, as he stepped to her side and took her elbow in his hand, she felt his eyes roaming pendik escort over her body as though imagining her naked. His lips curled in a way that made her sex feel uncomfortable. She hated being sexually aroused. It was so undignified. She despised her sex, in fact, and gladly would have had it cut out of her the way the Africans did, if civilized physicians practiced such things.
“A few more hours,” he said for her ears only, speaking in heavily accented English, “and then our guests will be gone. May I come see you tonight?”
Felicity lifted her chin. “We’ve discussed this before, Don Felipe,” she answered stiffly. “I am a woman of principle. Please do not continue to suggest I compromise my dignity.”
“I hardly think visiting you in your boudoir would compromise your dignity,” he murmured, reverting to his native tongue.
“Others may have the wrong idea,” she said, retaining her English though understanding him perfectly.
“So what? We are to be married. Should I not be passionate for you?” he demanded, continuing in Spanish.
“Passion is just a pretty name for lust,” she retorted. She’d heard some preacher say that once. “And even in your religion, Don Felipe, lust is a mortal sin. Do you not fear for your soul?”
“The Creator made me the way I am,” he replied with a touch of vanity. “With fire in my blood and desire in my heart. If He would damn me for the way He created me, then perhaps He is not worthy of my praise.”
“Dangerous words,” Felicity answered. “Heretical, in fact. I’m surprised you haven’t been excommunicated…or what ever it is you Catholics do.”
They had walked together to the drawing room, where the ladies had gathered while the men went to a different part of the house for cigars and port. Here Don Felipe dropped her hand to leave her. He was not happy with her. In fact, he looked at her disapprovingly, as though she had crossed an invisible line. Felicity didn’t care. If she had to be married to this barbarian, she would at least indulge in the luxury of speaking her mind.
Hours passed before the company left. She retired to her own rooms with a headache and a sick stomach. A little maid fluttered around her, anticipating her every need. Felicity only wanted to go to bed. She wore a long starched nightgown with her light brown hair braided down her back. Grateful that another terrible day was over, she crawled into the huge bed and closed her eyes.
It was a warm night. She tossed back and forth, bothered by the sensation between her legs. Would it never go away? Angrily she got up to open a window. She looked out at the clear night scintillating with a million stars. The house was built on the top of a hill and a forest of trees stretched out just below her. Her eyes ran over the tops of the trees to where a flickering light shown near the river.
What is that? she wondered. It seemed to be a campsite of some sort. Probably squatters. There was music coming from that direction as well, strains of a fiddle and perhaps a guitar. She wasn’t sure. She’d never heard music like that. It stirred her in a peculiar way. She stood listening to it, wishing she could be closer. But of course she could not. It wasn’t like she could just throw on her robe and slippers and go running down that path into the forest.
Something moved just below her window. A door opened and light spilled out onto the lawn that stretched away from the house and down to the trees. A man emerged and she recognized Don Felipe. He had taken off his coat and tie and wore only a loose shirt and trousers. He walked in a hurry into the forest. She was stunned that he should go alone to confront the squatters. And then it occurred to her: perhaps he was going to listen to the music.
Felicity had a peculiar bent in her personality. She resented anyone enjoying themselves when she was miserable. How inconsiderate of him to saunter down to the river to listen to music when her head was splitting and her stomach hurt. She had half a mind to join him, if only to make him angry.
She turned from the window and sat on the edge of her bed. What was wrong with her? She felt restless and uneasy. Her skin seemed to crawl. The room was suddenly stifling and claustrophobic. She needed air. She needed to go for a walk.
Putting on her robe and slippers, she really had no intension of walking all the way to the river. She only planned to go to the tree line and back. But when she arrived at where the lawn ended and the trees began, she saw that the path Don Felipe had taken was quite straight and well-defined. In fact, she could see all the way down the path to where the camp fire was blazing against the darkness of the river. The music was even louder here and she could hear people laughing and making odd noises. Her curiosity was piqued.
She walked cautiously down the path. In her mind she could imagine Don Felipe coming upon her and demanding why she had followed anadolu yakası escort him. She needed a suitable lie. She would act surprised to see him. After all, he needn’t know she had seen him leave the house. She would only say that, having opened her window and heard the music, she wanted to see what the commotion was about. She smiled at her own devious thinking, congratulated herself on her cleverness, and continued down the path.
The music was rising and falling in a gentle, almost seductive melody. Felicity gazed wide-eyed at the scene that, with each step, became clearer. There was a large campfire and several wagons and horses. They were gypsies. People wandered around, but for the most part the company was settled in chairs and stools around a half-circle. Between them and the fire, a woman danced. Her hair was long and black and wavy. She wore a low cut white peasant blouse that all but revealed her huge breasts. The fabric of the blouse was thin and gauzy, and her large, hard, dark nipples strained against the material as she danced. Her skirt was made of several layers of red and black cotton and hung only to her knees. As she danced she raised her skirt even more, to the level of her mid-thigh, showing off her long, slender legs covered in a fine sprinkling of dark hairs. She was barefoot.
Crouching a little in a tangle of undergrowth in the forest, Felicity watched in mute fascination. She had never seen anything like it. The way the woman’s body moved with the music…it made something stir in Felicity that was both delicious and sickening. The woman’s hips lifted and fell against an imaginary lover. Her arms reached out to him, drawing him closer. Her full, luscious lips parted as she took in his hungry tongue. She pressed her hands against the sides of her breasts and they almost popped out of the top of her blouse.
The men watched her with ravenous expressions of lust. The six or seven men of all ages licked their lips and made encouraging remarks to her in a language Felicity had never heard. There were women there, too; grandmothers and young girls, watching as the dancer simulated sex in front of their eyes. The women looked as aroused as the men, smiling in that way that foretold how the night would end.
Sitting among the company was Don Felipe Juventino.
Felicity’s breath caught. So, this was why he had stolen into the night. This is what had brought him to the edge of the river.
He watched the dancer with unabashed lust curling his lips and making his eyelids heavy. He lowered his hand to his crotch and touched something. Again Felicity gasped. The front of his pants bulged with an erection, straining at the seams. Only then did Felicity realize the dancer was performing for him.
Suddenly the music swelled into a feverish beat. The dancer seemed to become possessed as she stood in front of Don Felipe and swayed and gyrated her hips. Felicity watched, her breathing becoming more rapid with each second. What was happening? Why was the woman dancing like that? Why was her face contorted as though she were in pain and going to die?
The dancer began to cry out, running her hands over and over her breasts as she swirled. Her cries became louder, more urgent. She pressed her hand against her sex and gyrated only inches away from Don Felipe. Then the music rose to a crescendo, the dancer fell to the ground, and the company rose to their feet clapping.
They did not tarry long. The men and women quickly went into their wagons and closed the doors. Only Don Felipe and the dancer remained. The woman lifted her head from the ground and rose up on one elbow to speak to him. Felicity had no idea what the woman was saying.
She watched as the dancer got up on her hands and knees and crawled like a cat to where Don Felipe sat in a chair. Her hands went up his thighs to his crotch. With expert fingers, she unbuttoned his trousers, reached inside, and withdrew his thick, hard shaft. Felicity bit her hand. She had never seen one up close before, only on the village toddlers when they ran about in yards in summer. The size of it stunned her. It was longer than the woman’s hand.
The dancer smiled up at Don Felipe, then lowered her mouth and took the shaft into it. Felicity swooned a little. What was the woman doing? Her lips squeezed around the shaft and her head rose and fell over it. Don Felipe watched her, a dreamy look in his eyes. His hands lifted to hold the back of the woman’s head. It was not a tender hold. He was keeping her there, making her do it. His hips began to lift off the chair a little and his nostrils flared. He said something to the woman that Felicity couldn’t understand and the woman abruptly stopped.
The dancer stood up and lifted her skirt and stepped forward, pressing her sex into his face. She wasn’t wearing anything underneath her skirt, and his hands reached around to grasp her white ataşehir escort buttocks and held her still while he did something to her with his mouth. Felicity strained her eyes to see but the fabric of the woman’s skirt was in the way. What ever it was, the woman liked it. She cooed and stroked his head and swayed her hips against his face. She lifted her own face to the stars and murmured something and panted loudly. Felicity stared, unable to breath. She thought she was the only one watching, but when she looked, several of the company had moved to their windows and doors and stared unashamedly.
The woman cried out like a savage, trembling against him. When she stood back, the lower part of his face was covered in a glistening liquid. He still held her hips, and now he brought her down over his hard shaft. Felicity grasped two small tree branches and squeezed them. She knew what he was doing now.
The woman slowly rode him. His head rested against her large breasts, his eyes closed, a look of utter contentment on his face. Felicity sensed this was not their first coupling. Their rhythm was well-established. The dancer was in no hurry either. She enjoyed this, that much was evident. Everything Felicity had heard or been told about the nightmare of copulation appeared untrue.
It went on and on. A minute passed, then two. The woman stayed where she was, rising and falling like the tide. Don Felipe sat back to take her breasts between his hands. He lowered the top of her blouse and her breasts spilled out, two huge melons with brown points. His mouth covered one nipple, sucking and licking it, much to the dancer’s delight. He did the same with the other. He licked and sucked the nipples over and over again, and with each passing minute the dancer seemed to become more aroused. Her hips rose faster and faster. She held his head between her hands and kissed his hair. She cried out again like before. She began to gyrate her hips and pant and say things. Her body rocked wildly on top of him, her hair swaying from side to side as her breasts bounced up and down in his face. Then she screamed—at least, it sounded like a scream—and fell against him. He shuddered quietly beneath her and stopped moving. For a long moment they remained that way.
Felicity turned and ran up the path. She was sobbing. Her heart was sick and angry by what she had just seen. But not out of jealousy. She told herself she didn’t care enough about Don Felipe to be concerned with whom he coupled.
No, she envied the dancer. She wanted to know that ecstasy, to experience that fire and burning and satisfaction. To feel that kind of pleasure…the thought of it was intoxicating. Felicity wanted what that woman had just had.
She returned to her bedroom and sat down on the edge of her bed. The room was dark; it was too warm for a fire. She took off her slippers and robe and lay down, staring at the canopy above her. The stirring between her legs had returned. She spread her legs apart a little, hoping the sensation would go away. It did not. She rolled onto her side and squeezed her eyes shut. All she could see before her was the woman’s mouth on Don Felipe’s hard shaft. She opened her eyes and pressed a pillow between her legs. She shouldn’t do this, she knew. It was a sin. But the burning was so intense she couldn’t stop it. She had to make it go away.
She ground her sex into the pillow, demanding satisfaction. Her lips parted, imagining Felipe’s shaft before her, waiting to be taken in. Yes, she wanted it. She put out her tongue and stroked the air, feeling his flesh against it. He held her head between his hands so she couldn’t move. It seemed so real, so real she could almost believe it was true. The crescendo between her legs rose like the strains of a fiddle and she cried out his name and climaxed. Her body spasmed against the pillow. She clutched it to her, her fingernails almost ripping the fabric. And then she relaxed. Her breathing quieted. She closed her eyes and slept heavily.
Don Felipe spent the next morning on horseback, riding with his men to the northern pastures where his prized cattle grazed. Felicity waited for him by the stables when he returned. He noticed right away that his future bride possessed a different air about her. Something about her face was softer; she even moved differently.
Her eyes swept over his leather chaps and stilled on his groin. Don Felipe’s eyes widened in surprise. This was unexpected. She moved to his side, her entire manner coquettish as she put her arm through his. He liked the change, of course, but it took him off guard. He was accustomed to her being a thorn instead of a rose. In fact, he had quite looked forward to “breaking” her of her indifference and making her into the eager wife he wanted her to be. Still, why make work if it is done for you?
She brought him wine and fruit on the terrace and knelt to remove his soiled boots. These she set aside, then reached up and unhooked his socks and drew them off his feet. She sat on a little stool and massaged his rather odorous feet with her soft hands, remarking in flawless Spanish how strong and capable his feet were, and how very fortunate she felt at the prospect of becoming his wife.
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