Sarah walked over to the maps. “Have you figured them out yet?”
Devon looked at her. “How did you know there were more maps?”
“You left ink markings on my map and besides, do you think I left my book with the map lying around by neglect.” Sarah smiled at him devilishly.
“She is no fool my boy.” Grams shouted from her sofa. “What does all this mean?”
“Well, Sarah needs to fill me in on a few things.” Devon gazed at her knowing he was going to have to watch her read the letter from her father.
“Me? I do not think I will be any help Dev.”
Devon pulled out the letter from behind his back. He held it out to her. “This is a letter to you from your father. I just received it this evening.” Devon noticed his hand was starting to shake slightly.
Sarah slowly reached out and said, “He did leave me a letter then. I knew it was unlike him not to have.” She sat down next to Grams.
Grams patted her leg and looked to Devon.
Sarah opened the letter. After a moment, she handed the letter to Grams. “I can’t see the words Grams. Could you please read it aloud?” Sarah looked at her sitting next to her. Sarah’s tears were huge, cascading down like a waterfall would.
Devon went over to her and sat down beside her. He handed her a handkerchief. He surprised himself when he took her hand in his.
Grams began to read it.
My Lovely Sarah,
I know I am far away, from where you are right now, but if you close your eyes, you will be able to see me. Remember my voice in you Sarah. Trust in your own voice my dear you will need it.
You hold the key to all your answers on your wrist. The box to this key will be found within hearts of flowers. Pieces collectively reveal secrets. Conviction of your inner voice guides you precisely where and with whom you find yourself.
My lovely Sarah there is not a single word to divulge my love for you ever. You are my heart, my child, my legacy. Do not let my passing impede you from living. Smile Sarah my lovely, the world needs you to.
Your loving Father
Grams laid the letter down in her lap and for once was silent.
Sarah looked to Grams and then to Devon. Wiping her tears away she said, “What do we do know Dev?”
Devon smiled at her. He had not expected her to react with such grace. He placed his hand on her cheek and said, “We start from the beginning.”
Grams announced, “We will need some snacks and tea.” Grams turned her head towards the open door and shouted, “Richards.”
“Yes Lady Wilsbee.” Richards was standing behind her.
He scared her to death. “Richards! Do you have a super magical power I am not aware of? If so, it was not listed on your credentials and I should have been made aware of it.”
Devon and Sarah were trying to hold in their laughter. Richards started to chuckle.
“If I did, I would surely not tell you, for you would abuse it.”
“Yes well, zip-zap yourself to the kitchen for snacks.” She was waving her hand back and forth in the air.
After a moment she went to turn to say, “And tea”, but as she turned, Richards was holding a tray next to her head. Grams looked up at him and said, “I do love Molly’s muffins.” Grams took two off the platter.
Sarah and Devon went over and over the maps. An hour later, they really were not much further. Devon took out the middle piece of the map.”Sarah, your father enjoyed puzzles right?”
“Yes very much so Dev.” Sarah was standing on the opposite side of the table.
Devon turned the map to face her. “Does that look like a heart to you?”
Sarah squeezed one eye shut and tilted her head to one side. “I see it.”
“Hand me your father’s letter.” Devon held out his hand waiting for it. Sarah placed it in his hand.
“The box to this key will be found within hearts of flowers.” Devon read it aloud. “Does this mean anything to you?”
“No I do not know what it means. Wait my garden. I have a heart shaped garden Dev. It was our special place. I told you of it only the other day.”
“Sarah I think you almost have this solved. I think that is where the box is hidden.”
Grams shouted from the sofa as she was eating her fifth mini muffin, “I think you are a smart boy. I do not care what Richards says about you my Devon.”
“Thanks Grams. I do not care what he says about you either. Although, that does not mean I do not agree with him.” Devon looked to Sarah who was giggling.
“You are lucky to have such a loving family. I have to say though, not a very quiet one.
Devon smiled. “That it is not.”
“Sarah we must discuss your gown my dear for the Gavin’s Ball. Devon I am tired of tea. Would you please make me my drink?”
Sarah walked over to Grams and sat next to her. Devon handed Grams her drink and gave Sarah a glass of wine.
He whispered in her ear, “You are going to need this.”
“What did he just say? I have a few embarrassing stories I could tell of you my boy. Anyways, I was thinking crimson red for you gown.”
“That is a bold color. I do not have anything in that color among my attire.”
Grams laughed. “Oh dear, no we will go out to the shops tomorrow my dear. We must make sure you are adorned in the latest fashion.” Grams nudged Sarah and added, “We must make sure to apprehend the attention of a well to do suitor.” She then winked at Sarah.
Sarah laughed. “Then it is settled, crimson it is.”
“Devon has agreed to aid us in our pursuits for a taker for our offer. He would like to oversee and obtain a proper suitor for the marriage match my dear.” Grams smiled and patted Sarah’s leg.
Sarah felt suddenly sad. She gazed down at her lap and started to fidget with the ribbon on her dress. She could feel Grams starring at her, so she smiled slightly. “That is wonderful news, although I am not interested in marriage. I would just like someone to engage with me a short while then he can be paid and on his way.”
“Yes well, never close yourself to possibilities my dear, you never know where you will find love.
Sarah could hear Grams talking of plans for the ball but she was not listening really. Why had Devon kissed me? What happened between us in the dining room? Perhaps he now regrets our kiss and only saw me as a friend to begin with. Am I nothing but a foolish young girl in his eyes? She gazed up at him in his chair and her heart fluttered.
Devon was sitting in the chair facing the fire. He had tuned them out and was watching the fire dance for him. Thoughts of chubby odd Eli were running through his mind. “The risk then, is easier to surrender too.” Devon thought it odd that he would use the word surrender. He had thought it many times about Sarah.
Surrendering to my need to have her consumed more of my mind then I want to admit to. It is a potent need that seems to grow stronger with every passing hour. Surrendering my heart to her is asking too much of me. My heart is that no woman has touched. Surrendering my trust to her in trade of my need for her is a risk. Can I trust that she would never leave me?
Devon did not like where his mind was going, at least not tonight. He stood up from the chair and went to the bar. He saw Grams on the sofa sipping her brandy.
“Where did Sarah go?”
“She is dressing for bed. Did you talk with the trust attorney this day Devon?
“I was able to talk with his assistant.” He wanted to tell her about the odd little man but he was not in the mood to give her ammo, to tease him with for the next month.
“What did Lady Wilcox say?”
“Not much more than we all ready know. She did mention a Mr. Collins.”
“That is Mcmay’s live in assistant, I was told. Sarah has a marriage contract with him.”
“No! Why did she not tell us as much? What else were you able to discover?
“The attorney who Benjamin hired for the trust is no longer handling it, Mr. Beaker is. Apparently, he is a close friend of Lord Mcmay. Sarah has not signed the contract yet.”
“Well, then it is not valid. Who is this Collins fellow my boy?
“I do not know Grams. I do know there was a dispute between all parties involved and Lord Mcmay was able to take the trust account and furnish it to his friend. This Collins fellow has no income and will be paid handsomely for his marriage to Sarah.”
“My boy, I smell a rat. Unsightly dreadful hideous man Lester is. What are we to do my boy?”
“I will find out more tomorrow. I will embark again first thing in the morning, for now, I am exhausted Grams.”
“You look it. I think I will retire myself.” Grams began to brush off the crumbs from the eight mini muffins she had eaten. She rose to her feet and brushed off the few remaining bits. Grams looked up to Devon who was standing next to her.
“Devon my dear boy, I shall like to ask you something.” Devon raised his eyebrows at her. “I have seen the way you gaze upon Sarah, is it wrong for me to think possibly you might like to ask her for her hand in marriage yourself?”
Devon was surprised. “She is merely a friend, nothing more. I do not plan to marry.”
“Friends do not invite other friends to sit on each others laps and kiss. Richards, as you can imagine, is concerned for her reputation and her innocence Devon. I believe myself to be as well. The way you look at her is not merely lust or desire, my dear boy. That can be a difficult thing to say no to, the heart I mean.”
“Sarah is very beautiful and as you know I have been overseas for quite some time. I am perfectly able to keep myself composed, Grams.” Devon felt his cheeks grow hot and he was starting to sweat. He knew he was lying to himself and Grams. She knew him to well and he knows this. Grams was always able to see right threw him. They kept no secrets from one another. Devon finally gazed down at her and said, “I will not repeat my actions from last night. Sarah is a friend and I will look at her as such. You have my word.”
Grams eyed him closely then said, “Do you not have a lady friend you can call upon in the mean time, preferable tonight my boy?”
“I do but it is a late hour.” Devon said slowly feeling foolish. He could not imagine any other grandmother telling her grandson to go sow his wild oats. “I shall leave shortly and stay at the flat in town for the night.”
Grams nodded her head in agreement. “I do wish you would give Sarah some more consideration. I would hate to see you go through your life and never have felt love, my dear boy.” She placed her hand on his arm.
“End up hurt and alone with a broken heart as I have watched you go through.” Devon immediately regretted saying what he had, as he watched the pain wash over Grams face. “I am sorry Grams.”
“I will never look at your father or grandfather with anything other than a smile. I feel for them as I do you Devon, which is something I would never hold with regret. It was worth the heart ache my dear boy. Love is always a risk of the heart, but the cherished moments we surrender to is never forgotten.”
“I do not see it that way Grams. I am not as strong as you.” Devon placed his hand on top hers on his arm.
“My dear boy, I am as strong as I am because I have loved. I have you Devon.” Grams smiled sweetly at him. “I am off to bed my dear boy.”
“Shall I help you to your room?
“I am perfectly capable of making it up the stairs. If Richards has super human strength I dear say, I would have him carry me though.” Grams paused as she reached the door. “Would that be abusive?”
Devon laughed. “I say it would be border line.”
“Yes then I would make him. Good night my boy. Hugs and kisses and a slap on your bottom.” Grams shouted from the hallway.
Devon sat back lounging on the chaise starring into the fire. His mind was racing in many different directions at the same time.
Maybe Grams was right, I should call on a lady friend. Possible this might cure me need for Sarah. It had been a long four months since I have felt the warmth of a woman.
Devon took his coat and left. He headed out towards town. After thirty minutes, he found himself at MaryAnn’s door above the “Lucky Travelers Tavern.” Devon knocked on her door.
MaryAnn opened the door, “Devon when did you return? Come in please.”
Devon smiled at her and answered her question. She walked over and poured him a scotch. MaryAnn was in a reveling see through under garments. She put her hands under the sleeves of Devon’s coat and began to slide it off his body. Devon smiled at her. MaryAnn smiled back, eager to get him undressed. Devon was one of her best-looking visitors, as well as most satisfying filling her fully. She leaned up and kissed him as she started to unbutton his shirt.
Devon began kissing her but he did not feel as if it were he doing it. He saw Sarah’s face as she was smiling at him flash in his mind. Devon had not realized it but he was no longer engaging in their kiss. MaryAnn asked him what was wrong. Devon shook his head and told her nothing. He grabbed her with intension. An intension to rid his mind of Sarah. Kissing her forcefully, he heard her moan. MaryAnn trails her mouth down his body. She continued with unbuttoning his shirt while still whispering and moaning as she did with all her visitors. Playing on a man’s needful ego was what her specialty was. She let out another sultry sound of desire.
Devon heard Sarah’s voice again. His eyes drawn closed tight and his hands dangled at his sides. He felt delicate fingertips crawl up his chest to find his neck. Kissing his bare skin and hinting a desire for more. He heard himself call out her name with need pushing past his lips.
After a moment, MaryAnn pulled back and said, “My name is MaryAnn.”
“What?” Devon looked directly at her.
“My name is MaryAnn. You called me Sarah. Who is Sarah?”
Devon pushed away from her further, out of her arms and crossed the room. How could he have done that? Why had he done that? He was stunned and speechless. Devon turned to MaryAnn and walked toward her with steadfastness in his stride. He kissed her again hard. He was determined to get a hold of his emotions. Devon was fine for the first few minutes until he saw in his mind, Sarah with her head thrown back moaning his name.
MaryAnn broke the kiss and began to laugh. “Devon, I do not know who this Sarah is but, she has you upside down sugar.” MaryAnn rubbed his back and said, “Why don’t you tell her how you feel?”
Devon shrugged off her hand from his back. “I do not feel any way for her other than friendship MaryAnn.” Devon was frustrated and angry, mostly with himself.
“No man calls a woman’s name unless he feels for her strongly. Have you forgotten my profession Devon? Believe me, you would not be the first.”
Devon refused to answer her or listen to one more person, tell him what they think of his feelings towards Sarah are.
“Do forgive me. I have to take my leave at present.” Without waiting for her reply, Devon left. He went to the flat further into town. He remained there the rest of the night and through the next day. He had contemplated remaining there until Sarah was gone. The last pleading favor of Benjamin Mcmay in his letter to Devon drove him home. Failing a dead man’s request was not honorable in Devon’s mind.
When he arrived back home it was already eight o’clock. Devon had figured, well hoped, at that late hour he might be able to avoid everyone. He went straight to his study.
Devon had thought he just had to make it until the end of the week, four days away, and Sarah would hopefully, have her mind on someone else. He had to find a man who would take care of her, good care of her. He had to be charming, honest, smart, and faithful to her.
“Do you have any more wine?” Sarah was standing off to the side in a pretty cotton pale pink bed dress.
Devon felt dazed by the sight of her standing there. She had her hair down and looked ravishing. “Ah yes, yes we do.” He started to get up.
“Dev please sit down. I can get it, you look exhausted.” Sarah walked over to him and took his glass from his hand. He did not dare look to her.
She filled his with brandy. “I have to ask you something Dev. I passed Grams on the stairs and she said the weirdest thing to me. Hugs, kisses and a slap on the bottom.
“She slapped your bottom didn’t she?” Sarah giggled and nodded yes. “She did it last night as well.”
“Grams has said that every night to me, since I can remember. Even when she would be out of town, she had Richards give me a new note every night that had said that.” Devon smiled as he shook his head. “She is something is she not?”
Sarah handed him his drink, taking a seat next to him on the edge of the chaise. “I think everyone should have a Grams. Imagine how happy the world would be.” Sarah then sipped her wine. She gazed at Devon as he lay next to her. He had one arm behind his head and one knee up. She imagined crawling on top of him and kissing him again.
“Wine at this late hour Lady Sarah? I believe you may be adapting a few bad habits while your stay here at Price estates,” Devon said.
“I will have this one then retire.” Sarah began to fidget at her bed dress ribbon suspended from the low-neck line.
Devon thought about telling her he had to retire to his room but he did not want to be rude. Instead, he watched her play with the ribbon between her fingers. He imagined pulling at the ribbon with his teeth. Eventually revealing what was underneath. His mouth would find soft eager skin awaiting his lips. He would reach up and take her in his hand again, as he did before, but this time, there would be no interruptions to stop him.
The silence in the room was deafening to Sarah’s ears. A hiss from the fire with an occasional crack and snap was the only thing filling the room. She could feel his gaze on her. Just look to him and smile. He cannot read my mind. He has no idea you want him to kiss you again. He does not know. Sarah thought.
“Your hair is very long. It is such a shame women were it up all the time.” The way her hair descended the length of her back and over her shoulder made him want to touch it. Devon realized he had forgotten to breath. He turned his gaze to the fire. Four more days damn it. He thought to himself. Stand up and cross the room. Do not reach for her.
Sarah found the courage to glance at him. “I would love to cut it short like you have yours. It is not easy to work with. It is so thick. I have to wash it twice when I bathe.” Sarah knew she was talking fast because she was nervous all of the sudden. She talks fast about really nothing of any importance when she grows nervous. She turned back to the glow of the fire. You sound like an idiot. The man does not care of your grooming dilemmas.
Devon was quiet. She said bathe, which means she would be naked. The water would be swathing her in its warm surroundings. A wet, warm, soft naked Sarah. He turned back to her. She sipped more of her wine. He watched her lips on the glass, her throat as she swallowed, the way she licked her lips slightly after her sip. His heart was beating in his ears again. He put his hand over his chest, pressing down on it. It felt as though it was going to pound threw his chest.
How does she do that? The simplest things she does drives me mad with need. Licking her lips that way. Talking of bathing, naked. Well, how else would she bathe, but still, she-I have to leave this room. I cannot be alone with her any longer. He thought.
“I should be heading off to bed now Sarah. Would you like for me to walk you to your bedchamber?”
“No, I would like you to sit with me a while longer.” Sarah said without looking at him. Oh god, why did I say that? Just let him leave. No, ask him. You have a right to know.
“Sarah, I do not think that is a wise idea for me to do.” Devon said to her, slowly with a voice was soft.
Sarah looked at him. “Why not? Do you have someone else to entertain? A lady friend perhaps? So, this is what you do? You merely run around with women and touch them and kiss them and, and-?”
“You know I do not Sarah.”
“Then what is it? It is something I have done or not done?” She needed to know why. She wanted an answer as to why he kisses her one minute, and then leaves without a word to her the next. She searched his eyes for an answer, a clue, anything.
Devon let a long sigh out then said, “I no longer trust myself around you. I am trying to be a gentleman Sarah.”
“How Devon? By kissing me then leaving for nearly two days without a word to me. Why did you kiss me? Why did you touch me the way you did?” Sarah felt uncomfortable but she needed to know. She turned away to the fire and began to fidget again with her ribbon tie. She could feel him watching her. She would feel foolish tomorrow, if she suddenly dashed out of the room, but that is what she wanted to do.
Devon finally answered her. “I cannot get involved with you Sarah. You are Benjamin’s daughter. I just don’t feel right about it anymore.” Devon saw Sarah’s expression harden and he had no clue as to what she may be thinking.
“I am very attracted to you Sarah. I find myself having a hard time after being overseas for four months.”
“That is all it is Dev, just your need to be with a woman? I see then.” Sarah felt heartbroken and used. How could she have been so foolish in thinking he would have any interest in her other than a need that he was trying to fill.
Devon shifted his weight and Sarah flinched slightly. Devon leaned towards her. He put his hand on her back, playing with her hair.
Sarah froze for a moment. She should slap him across the face, but she couldn’t she still cared for him. “I wish you would have told me this before you kissed me the other night Devon. I can understand you not wanting to become involved with me. My inexperience, my father, my uncle, all of it must be bothersome to you. I think it is better that you do leave now Devon. I-I would like to be alone for a moment.”
Devon leaned in closer to her. “Sarah, I do feel things for you, don’t misunderstand me. It has nothing to do with your family or your innocence Sarah.”
Sarah stood up swiftly. “You are confusing me Devon and if you hold no feelings for me than you should have never kissed me. You used me and it hurts.”
Devon stood up next to her.”Sarah if you have any hope of finding someone to engage with you, then I will have to stay out of the way. I do not know if I can do that if-”
“If what Devon? You have to share me. I am something to be passed off, into another man’s arms. Was your plan to test me out to see if I may be suitable for your play time?” Sarah felt the sting in her eyes. She did not know if it was from the hurt or the anger she was feeling.
Devon stopped himself from reaching for her and just starred at her. His body was numb and alive at the same time. “The hell with this.” Devon grabs her and kisses her hard at first. Then he softens his kiss slowly. “This is the reason I cannot trust myself in your presence.” He kissed her again. “It is everything about you Sarah that leaves me defenseless. It is everything” Devon kissed her so passionately he felt dizzy.
Sarah fell into his arms and fell into his kiss. The flutter of her heart from his words was shattering. She could only hope he meant he loved her as she does him. He said it with his eyes.
Devon grazed his lips across hers. He could feel her body was as tense as his was. He dipped her back as he slid his hand up her back to her neck. He broke their kiss and gazed at her. “Sarah.”
She opened her eyes. He was starring at her with such a greedy gaze with an underlining uncertainty in his eyes. “I want to be with you tonight Dev. Even if just for tonight only”
Devon could see in her eyes, she was serious. He put his forehead to her head. The curiosity she had for him was going to kill him. He closed his eyes for a moment, wondering if he should cure her curiosity. How far would he allow it to go? He was not willing to be the one to cure her curiosity deep from within her. Taking her virginity was out of the question. Would he be able to stop himself if she pushed him to? His need for Sarah was greater than his will. This made this situation, in his mind dangerous.
“Let me touch you Dev. Show me how you want me to touch you. I want to know what your bare skin feels like under my hands.” Sarah then kissed him on his neck. “Please Dev I want to explore you. I do not need you to touch me. I merely desire for my lips to experience the taste of your skin.”
He let out a deep moan from the sensation of her sucking on his neck wantonly. He walked her back up against the chaise and laid her down on top of it. Sarah pulled him down to her and she kissed him with a kiss full of eagerness. His body reacted instantly and became excited with the thought of her touching him.
He broke from the kiss and sat up. He felt his stomach begin to flip around. Devon suddenly grew anxious.
She watched as Devon slowly pulled his shirt out from his breeches. He looked nervous to her. She could see his hands were a little shaky. Devon removed his coat and tossed it off to the side. Sarah felt a funny sensation rush over her body.
“Do you ever feel uneasy when you are with women?”
Devon surprised by her forwardness. He reached up and worked on his necktie. “When I was a lad.” He also wanted to add, “And have felt it with you Sarah,” but he was struggling enough as it was. He had a hard time looking at her. She was beautiful and she was Sarah. He had been with many women, never once had he been so restless before. It was not helping to remove his necktie with shaky hands.
Sarah saw his necktie was stuck. She crawled forward to him and moved up towards him kneeling on her knees. She smiled at him as she reached up to the tie. “Let me help you.” She whispered to him.
He would not look at her. He was starring off behind her. The knot was tight and Sarah slowly worked on untying it.
He could smell the scent of ginger and jasmine in her hair. She moved her gaze to him briefly, then back to the tie. He watched as a lock of her hair fell to her face, landing across her cheek then down to her lips. She threw her long hair back off her face, with a quick flick of her head. All her long wavy curls swayed back and forth. The lock of hair stayed in place only for a moment. Devon reached for her and ran his fingers thought it, tucking it back behind her ear. How could such a simple thing feel so intimate? He had never done that for a woman before now. With Sarah he realized at that moment he did a lot of this things without thinking. It scared him.
Sarah moved her gaze to his and smiled. “Thank you,” she whispered. She could feel his body beginning to trembling. He looked almost terrified to her.
“Dev how is it you seem to be more nervous than I am?” Sarah was smiling softly at him.
He moved his eyes to hers. “I do not know.” His tone was low and soft almost a whisper.
“Have you never undressed in front of a woman before?”
“No, I have.”
“Are you always this jumpy with them?”
Sarah smiled and said, “Well I am glad to be me then.” She freed the tie from its knot and slid it out from its collar. “There,” she stated.
Devon did not move. There was a long moment of silence. Sarah then took his face in her hands and kissed him, softly with slow movements. Devon still did not move. Sarah could feel his body tremble more as she deepened their kiss. His skin had grown moist under her hand.
Devon realized she was comforting him. So many things were racing through his mind. Devon heard odd Eli’s voice. Who better to trust than a friend. Devon then asked himself. Can I trust her? He realized he could not trust anyone more than he did her. She has pushed him to do nothing other than be his friend. Without judgment. Without demands.
He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her the way he has never kissed a woman before. He kissed her with his heart, his trust, his very being.
Sarah let a moan out as she felt his passion for her in his kiss. She reached up and wrapped her arms round him, tightly embracing him to her body.
Dev please let me to touch you.” Sarah told him through their kisses.
Devon could not help himself he continued to kiss her. After a few minutes, Sarah broke their kiss. She sat up on her knees and said, “I think you are teasing me.”
He laughed. “I assure I am not, although I could.” He looked at her rakishly.
Devon began to unbutton the rest of his shirt with deliberate lengthy slow movements. Sarah watches as he exposed more of his chest with every button he undid. She bit up her bottom lip. Devon slowly peeled his shirt from his body, dropping it to the floor at his feet. He saw how Sarah’s eyes were filled with excitement and anticipation. He felt sexy. He was aware she was hanging on his every movement. Devon wondered what she was thinking. He removed his boots and sockware quickly.
He stood before her shirtless. His tan skin was glowing in the light of the fire. Sarah felt herself take in a deep breath. His chest and stomach were solid, looking as if he was chiseled from stone by god himself.
Devon tucked his thumbs in the waistline of his breeches. He gazed at Sarah as her mouth dropped open.
He pulled his thumbs out of his breeches and said cheerfully, “I think it is time for a drink. Perhaps you would care for some more wine.” He went to turn heading to the bar. Sarah nearly leaps off the chaise.
“What?” She shouted, her voice full of disbelief and pleading.
Devon began to chuckle. “Oh, are you sure?”
“Yes yes I am sure.” Sarah was holding her hands out in front of her with her arms extended, waiting to grab him if necessary.
Devon moved towards Sarah and stood before her. Sarah was kneeling before him on the edge of the chaise.
Devon looked down at her as she was staring up at him. “You have to take them off Sarah.”
Sarah reached for the waistline of his breeches. She slid her fingertips into the top of his breeches directly in front of her.
He shuttered from her touch. Devon took in a short breath. Sarah looked up to him, their gazes locked onto one another. Sarah pulled down his breeches slowly.
Devon’s hands were into fists at his sides. He looked like something out of a painting to her. Her gaze began to cascade down to his chest. He watched her examine him.
Devon wanted to share himself with her. He felt exposed. Not in a naked way, although he was, but in a way that made him feel he was helpless when it came to her.
Sarah placed her hands on his chest, tracing all his lines with her fingers. Devon closed his eyes and whispered her name. His skin was burning under her touch.
Sarah moved her fingers further down to his abdomen and grazed the tip of his hard arousal with the side of her hand. Devon let out a moan as his body jerked slightly. Sarah then took him into her hand. She began to trace over him with the tip of her finger, running it around the tip of him. In a deep voice, he released a long, “Mmm.”
She smiled at the sounds he was making. She continued on, running her fingers down the long length of him. Sarah repeated this along the other side, the top, and bottom, not neglecting any area of his length. She moved back up to his tip again, tracing the underside of his head.
“Sarah.” He said. He had never wanted a woman to touch more than he did right now. He was hanging on her every move. His eyes closed tight, as he just felt her, felt her soft touch on him.
She wrapped her hand around the middle of his firm length. She whispered, “Show me.”
He placed his hand over her hand and moved it up and down. Devon then let go. Sarah moved slowly doing as he had guided her too. She watched his reactions to her touch. She was making him moan. Her eyes moved to her hand on him, not caring if he saw her starring at his large arousal. His skin felt soft there, much softer than the rest of his body.
Devon could not believe how good it felt. She was so close he could feel her breath on his length, on his tip. Devon suddenly felt the warmth of her mouth on him.
“Oh god. Oh god Sarah.” He felt her run her tongue all over his length. She made her way back up to his tip. She took him in her mouth, exploring with her tongue.
He could feel her circling his tip. She was teasing him wickedly with her tongue. Devon grabbed the back of her head sinking his fingers into her long thick hair. “Sarah suck down hard.” His voice was needy. “Please Sarah.” He knew this was much further than he intended to go, but my god her mouth was around him.
Sarah began to fulfill Devon’s request. She took in more of him repeating the same movements he had showed her with his hand. Sarah heard the pleading sounds coming from him the further down she moved on him.
She took her time, experimenting and figuring out what made him moan louder as she listened to his reactions.
Devon looked down at her. Her eyes were closed and her hair was in her face. Devon pulled back the sides of her hair to see her face. He watched as she took him in with desire, an eager desire to please him. Sarah released him from her mouth momentarily and licked her lips quickly. Devon watched her as she took him slowly back into her warm moist mouth. He would have never known she had not done this before. She slid more of him in and then back out. She did not take him in all the way down, but it was ad least half way and that was all he needed.
“Sarah you have to stop.”
Sarah released him from her mouth. Devon made an Mmm sound when he left the moist warmth of her mouth.
“Why? Am I hurting you?” Sarah’s voice was full of concern.
“No. I am going to release and spill myself into your mouth.” Devon got the sentence out between his deep breaths.
“What happens if you do?”
Devon shook his head, as he said, “Nothing. It will merely bring pleasure for me, but you are not ready for this Sarah.”
Sarah aggressively took his arms and pulled him down onto the chaise, pushing him on his back as he fell. She placed her hand on his length and again took him back into her mouth, moving on him with more force this time.
Devon grabbed at the material of the chaise. “Sarah please.” He could not believe what she was doing. He quickly reached the point where a man cannot turn back from.
He grabbed Sarah’s hair at the back of her head. He screamed her name as he released into her mouth. She did not stop. She continued until he was done.
Sarah sat up took her glass of wine from the floor and chugged it, all of it. Devon lay motionless behind her.
“Dev are you ok?” Sarah asked him as she laid her hand on his thigh.
“I cannot describe to you how good I feel right now.” Devon’s eyes remained closed.
Sarah got up with her glass and went to the bar. She returned with a drink for Devon. His eyes were still shut. Sarah skimmed the glass over his inner thigh. Devon jerked away. Sarah giggled while handing him the drink.
Devon sat up. “You are devilish Lady Sarah.” He kissed her neck and gave her a little nibble.
“I can be. You might want to keep that in mind Lord Price. You never know when it will come creeping out at you.”
Devon laughed. He placed his hand on her cheek and said, “I will take your devilishness anytime, anywhere.” He then kissed her and he pulled her down to lay next to him. Sarah curled up into his arms. Devon covered them with a blanket.
Dev, do you think you will ever meet a woman whom you can love?
Sarah awoke in Devon’s arms the next morning. She gazed at him wondering if things were going to be different between them now in some way. She knew Devon only wanted to remain friends but she hoped he would wake up and suddenly declare his love for her.
She thought to herself. There was still time for him to change his mind. Maybe he will fall in love with me. It could happen. Sarah let long silent a sigh. That is not likely though. We could be lovers. However, would I be upset if he decides he was no longer interested, after years of being lovers? I think I shall just try to enjoy the time I have with him and remain open to something new as well.
Sarah looked back at Devon lying next to her. I should not have allowed myself to fall in love with him. How am I to stop myself from loving him?
Devon began to stir. He opened his eyes to see Sarah across the room gathering his clothes for him off the floor. “Good morning,” he said.
Sarah looked up at him. “Good morning. I think breakfast will be ready soon. Richards may come looking for us.” She handed him his shirt and breeches. Sarah went searching for his coat and found it under the table. Sarah turned to hand it to him and Devon scooped her up into his arms. “Dev!” He had startled her.
“That is Lord Price to you Lady Sarah. Where is the morning beast? Is she hiding?” Devon kissed her muffling her giggles.
Devon and Sarah both looked towards the door. Richards was standing in it. Devon slowly let go of Sarah’s legs, as she slid down his body. A familiar scene Richards has witnessed before.
As Devon stood with his shirt open he said, “Do you not know how to knock Richards?”
“Sir.” That was all Richards said. He was clearly upset with Devon. He knew Lady Wilsbee had spoken to him. Devon obviously had not taken her seriously nor Sarah’s reputation.
Devon changed the subject. “Is breakfast ready Richards?”
“Yes Sir. Molly wishes for me to tell you, both of you, if you make another mess she will charge you double this time.”
Devon started to chuckle. “Sarah promises to behave this time.”
Sarah hit him in the arm.
Richards left the room without saying a word. Sarah began to run her hands over her hair attempting to smooth out the wild pieces. Devon sat back down on the chaise. He watched her as she was fussing over her appearance.
“We have eleven more days until the ball. I think we should concentrate on finding the box in your garden,” Devon said.
“Do you really believe my father left something in the box that will help me?” Sarah said to Devon, her eyes filled with so much hope.
“I do believe so. Your father would not have written the letter otherwise. The question is can we find the box.”
Sarah smiled grimly.
“I will find a way for you to be free of your uncle, Sarah.” Devon said to her, while trying to offer her some kind of reassurance.
“Grams had mentioned to me last night, you were going to help me in my search for a gentleman in my offer of temporary engagement.” Sarah looked towards him hoping he was going to refuse to do it, because he now loved her. Sarah realized she was holding her breath.
Devon gazed towards his feet. He had one sock on his foot and was holding the other in his hand. “I will aid you, if that is what you are still choosing to do.” Devon felt a heavy weight building up in his chest. He did not turn to look at her. Devon instead began to put his other sock on.
“I do suppose if I am left with no other options, that is what I will have to do.” Sarah turned to the door. “I think I should freshen up before breakfast.” She waited a moment to see if anything else was going to be said. There was only silence. Sarah left the room and took the back stairs to her bedchamber.
Devon did not see her leave the room. He waited for a moment then made his own way up stairs to change.
Thirty minutes later, Devon was bathed and dressed. He began making his way down the stairs to the breakfast room. As he past one of the sitting rooms, Grams yanked him through the door and shut it. Devon let out a grunt from the force of her strength.
“You buffoon! I told you not to touch her. What are you doing boy?” Grams was furious, she hit him in the arm hard.
Devon was surprised. He had no answer for her, because he did not know himself.
“She is not ruined.”
“That is not what I asked you Devon. You gave me your word.” Grams was pointing her finger up to his face.
Devon remained quiet. He offered nothing in defense.
“I want a list from you of gentlemen that we will call upon on Sarah’s behalf. You are to leave this house every evening after super is finished and upon returning the following morning, you will announce yourself to me. Do not at any time; allow me to find out or see you alone with Sarah.” Grams backed up form him and left the room, slamming the door as she did.
Devon had decided to skip breakfast and go to his study. Sitting behind his desk, he pulled out some paper and a quill. He began with the men he knew who may have some gambling debits. Devon started to write down their names. A list of seven men is what he came up with. As he sat and analyzed each one, he drew a line through their names.
Devon then made a list of all the men he knew of, who did not want to marry this season. Possible if he pointed out to them, that if they engaged for the season, all the mother matchmakers who wanted to marry off their daughters would leave them alone for the season.
Devon was pleased with his idea. He began to narrow down his list. What had started out of a list of twenty-three men was now diminished to zero. Devon had found fault in all of them. Some of the men Devon crossed off the list for having a reputation of being rakes. Others eliminated because of their status in the social scene. In Devon’s mind, if Sarah engaged to a man of not high enough ranking, then her chances of finding a gentleman are hindered later on. Devon crossed men off the list for all different reasons. Devon removed Phillip Johnson from the list because his hair was too long.
As Devon thought harder about it, he could not come up with one name.
“I shall have the tailor over this afternoon for your fitting.” Grams said to Sarah as they entered Devon’s study.
“My dear boy, what is all this?” As Grams and Sarah looked around, they were standing in piles of crumpled up papers.
“I was working on something.” Devon stood and walked to Grams, kicking the balls of paper as he did.
“The list I hope, that I requested from you.” She gave Devon a questionable look.
“A list of what?” Sarah asked Grams then looked to Devon.
“I asked Devon to provide me with a list of gentlemen for our offer.” Grams turned to Sarah and patted her arm she was holding.
“Oh, I see.” Sarah gazed towards the floor. “Did you go through the whole ton, Dev?”
Grams began to giggle loudly. Sarah started to giggle as well. Devon turned and went back to his desk. He didn’t say a word.
“Well my boy, you have been in here for nearly three hours.”
Devon had not thought it had been that long. “I have some ideas of a few choices.” Devon sounded defensive.
Grams made her way to the sofa with Sarah still on her arm. “Do you have any left my boy because it would seem we are standing in a sea of your ideas?” Grams began to laugh again at him. “Devon you cannot see the floor any longer, my dear boy” Grams stated through her bellowing giggles.
“I have someone in mind” Devon stood from desk. At this point, he was growing angry. “Landon Fields.” Devon finally said.
“Landon Fields, I adore him. Lord Donald Fields boy, right?” Grams said, as she started to grow excited.
“Yes, he is a good friend of mine and a good man.”
“Pleasing to the eye as well!” Grams said as she looked to Sarah.
Sarah tried to smile at Grams. Devon turned away from them as he sat back down.
Sarah said softly, not sure, if Devon could hear her over grams excited giggles. “Do you think he will do it?”
Devon stood back up and walked to the bar. “I am positive of it.” He did not make eye contact with Sarah and certainly not with Grams. While pouring himself a drink he said, “I shall call on him soon.”
“It must be this afternoon my dear boy. The sooner the better,” Grams said.
Devon paused for a brief moment while pouring his drink. “Alright as you wish.”
Sarah felt uncomfortable. Devon would not even look at her. Why does he seem so upset? If he does not want me in that way, then why would he be angry?
Devon through back his drink then said, “I will take my leave now.”
Sarah watched as Devon left without another word.
“Do not worry yourself my dear.” Grams patted Sarah’s hand. “I had words with him this morning, he is angry with me not you.”
“You had a disagreement this morning?” Sarah asked her.
“That is one way to put it.” Grams shifted her weight to face Sarah more directly. “Sarah, I am going to speak with you now as I have always done with Devon. I feel you need some advice, seeing that you have been raised by a man only.”
Sarah grew nervous. She was dreading what candid things she was about to say. She began to fidget with the corner of a pillow in her lap.
“Devon has assured me he has not taken your virginity. My fear is, if you two keep going the way you have been, he will.”
Sarah wanted to die. Her face and ears were on fire.
“My dear, do not be embraced. It is only natural desiring to be kissed, touched, and to explore the opposite sex. As well as, let them explore you. Oh goodness Sarah the look on your face my dear.” Grams started to giggle.
Sarah was shocked at what she was saying.
“I do not want to see you ruined Sarah or worse yet, with child. Could you be with child now Sarah?”
Sarah whipped her gaze to Grams with fear filling her eyes.
Grams voice softened and she took Sarah’s hand in hers. “Sarah, you can talk to me about anything my dear.”
“I am not sure.” Sarah swallowed hard. “Grams, can I become pregnant from, ah, touching a, ah man’s, ah?”
Grams stopped Sarah from talking. “The only way you can become pregnant is from having intercourse Sarah. Did you have that with Devon?”
Sarah could not believe she was having this conversation with her about Devon. She did not think they had sex but then again, no one had ever explained it to her before. Sarah did not look at her and remain silent.
Grams could see the poor girl was shrinking in her own skin. She needed to make her more comfortable. Sarah would not talk to her, if she did not trust her Grams decided.
Grams sat up proudly then announced, “Sarah, I am having an affair with Richards. We are madly in love with one another and have been for the last seven years.”
“Oh child, do not be so shocked. Old people have relations too.” Grams started to chuckle.
“Grams, what if you become with child?” Sarah was concerned and surprised. She was having a hard time imagining Richards and Grams madly in love.
“Sarah, I cannot have any more children. I no longer have my monthly. I can see no one has told you of these things.”
Sarah shook her head no. “Will you explain them to me?” Sarah asked.
“Of course I will.”
After Grams explained, with a lot of detail, to Sarah about the birds and the bees, Sarah assured her she was not with child. The more Grams explained everything the more comfortable Sarah became with her. She was not so serious about it, which helped Sarah not to be shy about questions she had.
“Grams does Devon know of your affair?”
“No my dear he does not. I will tell him when the time is right. Richards is not comfortable with Devon knowing.” Grams looked up towards the ceiling and sighed. “I have never told a soul of my love for Richards. It feels good to be able to share it with someone.”
As Devon stood on the porch talking to himself, the door flung open.
“Devon, my old friend how are you?” Landon gave Devon a large smile.
“I apologize for not sending word before my arrival. I have a matter to discuss with you Landon.”
Landon patted Devon on the back a few times. “Devon why does that sound like I may not like it?”
Devon smiled and said, “My friend, you will love it.”
Both men began to laugh as Landon invited Devon inside. Devon followed Landon to his study at the back of the house. The study was comfortable with masculine décor and furnishings. Landon motioned for Devon to take a seat in a grouping of club chairs near the fireplace.
Landon handed Devon a glass of brandy. “I almost fear to ask you what is on your mind.”
Devon chuckled. “I want to call in that favor you owe me. I honestly need your help Landon.” Devon then looked to him seriously. “There was a promise to Benjamin I must fulfill.”
“Devon you merely only need to ask once my friend.” Landon patted Devon on the knee. He raised his drink towards Devon and said, “To old Friends.”
“To old friends here and gone” Devon repeated it as their glasses clanked together.
“Alright, tell me everything Devon.”
Landon sat back comfortably in his club chair. He listened quietly with only very few questions. Landon had known Benjamin quite well. He understood the relationship between Devon and Benjamin. He knew Devon as well as a brother would know one another. If he had made a promise to Benjamin, he knew Devon would not stop until that promise was fulfilled.
While Devon told of Lord Lester Mcmay and his plans to marry Sarah off to his assistant, Devon paced the room. He tried not to leave out any detail. He told him of the book and the maps. He did not speak much on the matter of Sarah. Landon found that curios.
“Why do you not engage her yourself Devon if it will only be temporary?” Landon asked an obvious question, he thought.
“I have grown to become good friends with Sarah. Whoever she is engaged to will have to act the part in public with her. I-I, I would not be comfortable with doing that.” Devon threw back what was left of his drink.
“I understand Devon. As for me deciding on whether I will do it or not, that is not a question. Consider it done, for you my friend.”
“I knew I would be able to count on you Landon.” Devon was relieved in a way.
“When do I meet your Sarah?” Landon asked him.
“I will send word to Grams to expect one more for supper tonight.”
“Well alright, until then what do you say we catch up on old times at the pub?” Landon walked over to Devon and gave him a hard pat on the back.
Devon sent word to Grams. The men proceeded to the pub, just like old times. Diner was not for another three hours, which gave them plenty of time to swap stories. Devon found himself even telling Landon about chubby Eli. Landon thought it was amusing. Devon had explained how helpful Eli had been and he actually like the man. Devon thought him to be funny.
When Devon and Landon arrived at the estate, it was an hour before diner was scheduled to be served. Sarah was still upstairs. Grams had instructed her to wear one of the new dresses they had purchased recently. As the men stood in the entry, they were greeted by Grams.
“Landon my dear, is that you?” Grams approached him with her arms open. She had not seen him in at least a year.
Landon smiled at her and embraced her. “Grams, words do not convey how much I have missed you.”
Grams giggled loudly. “Oh Landon, you haven’t changed a bit. You look so grown up. How long has it been since I last set eyes upon you my handsome boy?”
“Too long my love.” Landon was holding her hands in his and raised them placing a kiss on each one.
Grams giggling grew louder. She adored Landon. She knew him almost as well as she knew Devon. The boys had spent so much time with her since they were just young lads.
Devon gazed up to the top of the staircase and saw Sarah. A rush of heat ran through him. Landon and Grams looked up as well. She was wearing a soft cotton dress that was a pale pink. Her hair was up at the sides only, leaving her long blonde hair falling down her back and over her shoulders. The sleeves of the dress ended right above her elbows and the neckline was low. Her bountiful cleavage was spilling over the top.
“Ah, Sarah my dear come and meet Landon,” Grams shouted with excitement.
Sarah smiled and began to walk down the stairs. As she looked at all three of them, she noticed Devon was the only one not smiling. She told herself this was all his idea to help. She did not ask for it. Sarah had decided since Devon did not want her, then maybe she could find companionship else were, as Grams had with Richards.
Landon leaned into Devon and said, “You left out the part about her being so beautiful. Remind me again why you will not do this yourself.”
Devon did not say a word. He felt sick and hot. Sarah took her place next to Grams and Devon did not remove his eyes from her.
“Landon my dear, I would like to introduce Lady Sarah Mcmay.”
Sarah held her gaze with Landon and smiled as she curtsied to him. Landon bowed as well.
“It is a pleasure to meet you Lady Sarah.” Landon took Sarah’s hand and kissed it.
Sarah could not believe how handsome he was. He had blonde hair and golden hazel eyes. They were a color she had not seen before. He was as tall as Devon and just as built.
Devon walked between them and said, “Perhaps it is time for a drink. I know I want one.”
Everyone made their way to the drawing room. Devon poured drinks for Grams and Landon. Then sat down in the club chair across from Sarah.
“Dev, my I have a glass of wine?” Sarah said with some amount of confusion in her voice. She did not understand why he chose to leave her out.
Devon sat in the chair and just starred for a moment. Sarah narrowed her eyes at him.
“You are being rude, Lord Price.” Sarah whispered to him. She knew Grams and Landon were sitting far enough away on the sofa together, that they could not hear.
Devon got back up and got her a glass of wine. He walked over and handed it to Sarah.
Sarah looked at the glass he rudely held out to her face. It was only filled half of the way up. Sarah looked to Devon and said, “Did you run out of wine, Lord Price?”
“You won’t drink anymore than this, Lady Mcmay.” He smiled at her with a smirk. He was not going to give her any more than that, not in that dress with her breasts so exposed to Landon and the world.
Sarah pinched her lips together and took it out of his hand. She looked towards Grams and Landon and engaged in their conversation. A few minutes later as Devon was beginning to speak, Sarah held out her glass to him, for a refill.
Devon gazed at the empty glass and took it. He placed it down on the table next to him.
Sarah was growing irritated with him. She waited another ten minutes then offered to fill everyone else s drinks.
“I would love another Scotch and water Sarah.” Landon said as he gazed up at her.
Sarah bit her bottom lip between her teeth. “How much water am I to put in?”
Devon watched her and a fire began to burn within him. Why is she biting her bottom lip up for him? Devon watched as Sarah’s lip slowly slid out from between her teeth as she smiled for Landon. Sarah bent down and took the glass from Landon’s hand and Devon saw Landon’s gaze move to Sarah’s chest.
“I shall be happy to show you myself.” Landon turned to Grams and said, “My love, I shall not be but a moment absent from your presence.”
Grams giggled and tapped him on the arm. Sarah started to laugh. Devon was starring at Sarah. He watched her movements and did not like the way she was moving around Landon. Devon believed her to be flirting with him. Landon demonstrate to Sarah, how to make his drink. He was charming and had Sarah laughing. He then filled Sarah’s wine glass up for her, to the top. Devon gazed at them with fury.
She came and sat back down across from Devon. Before she took a sip of her wine, Sarah tilted the glass towards Devon as to say cheers and ha-ha.
Devon was glaring at her with resentment. He did not know why he was growing angry with her. He could feel his blood begin to boil. I wanted her to change that damn dress. She needed to stop biting up her lower lip at Landon. She also needed to stop smiling at him so damn much as well. And if she flirts with him one more time-
“My dear boy, tell us of one of your stories.” Grams shouted to Devon from the sofa.
Devon was trying to shake off his sudden bad mood. He thought for a moment. Grams and Landon were both shouting out suggestions for him. Devon finally said, “I have one.” He gazed at Sarah and said, “You’ll love this one, although it is a little bit risky, not shall I say, for the proper kind.”
Sarah narrowed her eyes at him. She had an idea of what he was about to do.
“Oh, that is my favorite kind.” Grams said while clapping her hands together. “There are no proper eyes in this room here tonight my boy. So do not dare leave anything out.”
Landon looked to Grams. “You are a devilish woman and I love that.”
Devon began the story. “It begins with a prince in Egypt and a young woman. She is a woman of another tribe, who had offered the king the greatest riches on earth in exchange for her freedom from her father. The king agreed to her offer and sent her to the prince.”
“The prince was a very kind man, always taking pity on the poor and needy. This young woman had come to him and asked for his help. She had teased the prince with her beauty. She knew she was so beautiful. No man was able to resist her. The prince needed time to think about what his father was asking of him.
She would whisper things in the prince’s ear at night in his dreams. Naughty things of her desire for him.”
“What my boy? What did she whisper?” Grams said softly.
“She told of her need to touch him. Her wanting need to explore him and bring him pleasure. A promising pleasure that he had not had with any other. Her beauty was tempting and offered pleasures only a god should be allowed to have. The prince knew it was forbidden by the king and queen and resisted. For to touch her would mean his death. This began to drive him mad.”
“The king had summoned him to find the jewel of her people. This jewel would grant to whom every held it, great power over the gods. The prince is then commanded by his father the king, to take her with him on this journey. Only the young woman knew of the place it was hidden away from man by her tribe”
“He was to suffer every day, to have to gaze upon this beauty of the young woman. He is forced to endure the temptation of her beautiful smile and her movements of allure.
At night, she would come to him in his dreams. She would let down her long beautiful hair and dance for the prince. The young woman taunted him with her body and with her words. She told him of her burning desire to touch him, to pleasure him with her lips and the warmth of her mouth. As she danced for him, she wore nothing more than a sheer wrap around her sensuous body. The sheer taunted him to take it in his hands, away from her revealing the body that lye under it.
Every night he watched as her body moved for him in every way he desired it too. Her breasts were nearly bare as they moved about with the rhythm of her body dancing, against the sheer fabric. Her dark nipples hardened with the brush against the fabric. Night after night, he endured her pleas. She begged him to touch her, to taste her. Just one kiss, she would whisper in his ear.
“The night before they were to find the jewel she came to him again. She whispered to him to let down her hair. The prince removed the clip from her hair and watched as it feel over her shoulders, down her back and across her bountiful breasts. The young woman began to dance for him. As she did, she slowly began to remove the sheer that wrapped her naked body. She teased him as she exposed her breast to the night air. Slowly she danced seductively out of her sheer wrap that separated her body from his need.”
“The prince tried to turn from her but she came to him and danced for him with her bare body against him. She caressed his in a way no other had before. The way she felt against him made him grow weak with need. His need for her was over whelming. The poor prince remained standing with his eyes closed not daring to gaze upon her. The young woman grazed her lips against his.”
“Diner is ready Lady Wilsbee-”
“Will you sit down Richards! Go on boy do not stop. What happened to the prince?”
“The prince remained still. His body grew paralyzed with her touch. Everywhere the young woman placed her finger on him, his skin burned with pleasure underneath it. A pleasure so powerful it nearly hurt him. The young woman brushed her breast against his bare chest. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck and whispered.”
“I do not know if I dare to say it.” Devon said with a chuckle.
“You better boy!” Grams said as she slapped Landon’s leg.
“Devon she is hurting me.” Landon pleaded.
“What happens to them Dev?” Sarah asked shyly.
“She whispers to the prince, “Fill me with your deepest desire and I will dance for you forever. Let me pleasure you in the way you most secretly desire. Touch me with your lips and taste me where you please” The prince could take it no longer. He takes her into his arms and kisses her passionately. His need for her over spilling into the kiss. She moans his name as she begs for his touch on her skin. Every touch from her was so powerful it took his body to a place it had never been before. The prince and the young woman spend the rest of the night fulfilling one another’s desires.”
“Upon returning with the jewel for the king, he finds out his father knows of his betrayal. He had touched the forbidden young woman and now the king must punish his only son. The prince declares his need for the young woman to his father the king but offers no apology to him. The king takes pity on his son the prince and banishes him to the tower.”
“The king tells the price that he may have any other woman in the kingdom other than the young woman for one year. The price accepts the kings ruling and is band to the tall tower. The prince summons many other women but cannot bring himself to touch them. He sees only her face. He hears only her whispers. The prince dreams of only her touch on his body. For a year the prince endures this torture, until finally he is set free from the tower.”
“The prince goes before his father the king and asks for the young woman. The king sadly tells his son, she has run off. The young prince waits for her arrival in his dreams every night. He calls out to her in desperation. The young woman never returned to him.”
“That is a horrible way to end the story my boy,”Grams shouts at him.
Devon laughed and said, “Not all stories have happy endings Grams.”
“Well I say you should redo it. How could she not have come back for him?” Grams said.
Devon smiled and said, “She never loved him.”
“Why did she not love him?” Sarah asked. She was obviously as upset as Grams was.
“She only needed him to bring back the jewel for the king. The young woman ensuring he would do it so she may have her freedom.” Devon then got up and poured another drink.
“I think I need a cold soak after that story,” Landon said with a chuckle.
“You and me both,” Grams said as she patted his arm.
“Grams are you asking me to join you in the tub? Landon looked at her teasingly.
Grams burst out in a giggle. “My dear Landon, I do not have a tub big enough for the two of us.”
Sarah laughed. She watched Richards grow uncomfortable. She had forgotten about their affair. Richards butted in and again announced diner was ready. As everyone left and went to the dining room, Sarah excused herself to freshen up.
Sarah made her way to her room. She sat in front of her mirror. She knew the story was about her and Devon. She did not understand why he had portrayed her that way. He does not want me in a way that is respectable, but then he wants to be jealous. Sarah shook the thought out of her head and went to rejoin the rest of the group down stairs.
Devon was waiting for her in the hallway outside her room. Sarah opened the door and saw him.
“What are you doing up here?”
“I came to escort you back down and tell you I don’t think you should drink any more wine.”
“Why shouldn’t I.” Sarah snapped at him.
“Because you are becoming too…too flirtatious. The way you were biting your lip, and fidgeting, and smiling. Ladies don’t become drunk Sarah.”
“I have not even had two glasses of wine, not that it is any of your concern. And what does it mean I was biting my lip up.”
“You know bloody well what that means, you…you flirt!” Devon was whispering loudly in her face.
Sarah gasped. “I will drink as much as I care to drink, Lord Price or shall I call you Lord…Prince.” Sarah left not waiting for his reaction and walked to the stairs.
“What was that supposed to mean Lady Mcmay?” Devon shouted as he followed her.
Sarah ignored him and kept walking. Devon grabbed her by the arm and spun her around. Sarah looked up at him as he looked down at her. Neither one of them said a word. Their lips were merely inches away from one another. Sarah could feel the heat of his breath on her lips. Devon still held her arm and after a long moment, he slowly released it. Sarah backed up and walked away.
Landon told them about the work he does traveling all over the world making maps. He, like Devon, travels and loves doing it. He had been to more places than Devon or Sarah’s father. Sarah and Grams asked many questions. Landon told them some funny stories about different countries he had lived in for a short time. Devon had gone and retrieved an atlas Landon had published, one of many.
After diner was over, they went to Devon’s study, which was more spacious for them. Everyone began to go over the atlas. Grams and Sarah were amazed at how beautiful it was. There was so much depth and color to it.
“Did you do the actual, I am not even sure what to call it, drawings yourself?” Sarah asked him.
“Yes I did. The entire book took me six years to complete. I am quite proud of it. This atlas is the largest one I have mapped thus far.” Landon said and then smiled at her and Grams.
“I think it to be magnificent Landon. I am very proud of you.” Grams stated.
“So you are an artist then, are you not?” Sarah asked.
Landon chuckled. “I believe I may be.”
“Can you paint people my dear?”
“Yes I am able to paint portraits. I have not done it in a long time though.”
“He has hardly been in the country the last ten years.” Devon patted Landon’s shoulder and chuckled. “You have been missed my friend.” Devon added.
Landon looked towards the women and said, “He is teasing me. Devon and I not too long ago, met up with one another in China. We spent about a month working together.
Sarah went on to ask them more questions. Grams added her opinions as well.
Richards brought in some tea and placed it on the table in front of Sarah and Grams. Richards then began walking towards the door to leave the room and Sarah said, “Please join us Richards? I would like for you to sit with us and talk.” Sarah smiled at him.
As Richards turned to see Devon’s reaction, Sarah nudged Grams in the side.
“Yes Richards, will you not join us?” Grams said with a smile.
Devon did not object to the matter. Richards usually joined them after supper anyway. Landon had spent enough time at the estate to know that Richards was a part of this family. He personally did not see anything wrong with it. The liked Richards very much and knew how close Devon was with him.
Richards took a seat next to Grams. Sarah turned to Grams and gave her a quick wink. Grams began to giggle. Sarah poured Grams some tea as well as herself. All the men drank brandy, including Richards.
Devon got up from his seat and said to Landon, “I want to show you something.” Devon pulled Sarah’s book off the shelf and handed it to Landon. “This is the book Sarah has written. I want to ask you about the maps.”
Devon shows Landon the maps and they spend the next thirty minutes going over everything Devon and Sarah had so far. Richards had escorted Grams up to her bedchamber. Sarah was watching the men from the sofa.
Landon notices the map does not look right to him. The entire map is not scaled correctly. To Landon it was obviously done on purpose.
“Sarah can I ask you a question?” Landon said to her.
Sarah rose from the sofa and walked over to the table. She stood between Devon and Landon. “Of course you may Landon.”
“Did your father give this map to you?”
“Yes part of it right before he passed away.” Sarah was looking up at him. She bit up her bottom lip.
Landon saw the intense gaze Devon had on her. To Landon, he looked as if he may be in a trance of some kind. She was a beautiful woman and it was obvious to him that Devon felt far more than mere friendship for her.
“This map is not an original. The map was intentional not scaled correctly. Let’s separate the pieces of the map and look for odd marking or unique land marks that would seem like something familiar to us.”
The three of them worked on the map for the next few hours. Landon finally ask Sarah and Devon if they would mind if he took the map home with him. He had other maps he would be able to compare them too.
“I would be honored if you would help us Landon.” Sarah said and then smiled at him.
“I promise you I will take exceedingly fine care of it. Devon do you mind?”
“Not at all. You know I would trust you with anything.” Devon patted him on the back.
Devon looked to the clock on the mantel and said, “We should be going, the hour is getting late.”
Landon bowed at Sarah and then kissed her hand. Sarah smiled and thanked him again for all his help.
Devon walked with Landon to the doorway. He stopped and turned to Sarah who was not far behind him and said, “Would you like me to walk you to your room?”
“Are you not coming back to your study?” Sarah asked Devon.
“I am leaving with Landon, Sarah.”
“Will you be back later? I would like to talk with you if you will offer a spare trice for me.” Sarah softened her voice.
“Sarah, Grams has sent me away at night while you are staying with us. I am leaving to the lot of flats we own in town.”
Sarah looked down to his chest. “Why?”
“I think you and I both know why Sarah.” His voice was a little firm.
Sarah’s gaze flew up to meet his. “I did not know she had done this. I am sorry. I will talk with her right now. This is entirely my fault Devon.”
“No it is not and she is right, it is for the best. Would you like me to escort you to your bedchamber? I have to go up and gather a few things for myself.”
“Alright then. Thank you.” Sarah’s voice was very soft. She felt horrible that she had caused Grams to do this to Devon.
Devon walked her to her room then said good night to her. He waited until she closed the door before he departed. The entire night had left him feeling spent.
Sarah had sent her maid to bed earlier. She was struggling to unbutton her dress in the back. There were so many tiny buttons and she was failing in her efforts to reach them. Sarah lost her balance and knocked into her dressing table, sending most of the things on top crashing to the floor causing a raucous.
Devon had closed his door and was walking past Sarah’s door. His heart sank when he heard the loud crash. Devon ran to the door and knocked on it a little harder than he intended to.
“Sarah are you alright? Open the door.”
Devon wasn’t trying to be quiet. Grams was on the second floor and Devon and Sarah were on the third floor. He was not too worried about waking her.
“Sarah open the door.” Devon felt panicked. “Sarah I am coming in.”
Sarah opened the door. “I am sorry, I knocked into my dressing table and a few things fell off.” Sarah felt her cheeks growing warm.
“Are you alright?” Devon looked towards the floor.
“Yes I am fine thank you.”
“What happened to your hair Sarah? I just left you not more than ten minutes ago?” Devon was curious to what her answer would be.
Sarah began to feel her hair to figure out what was wrong. “I must have messed it while I was trying to unbutton my dress.” Sarah started to giggle nervously.
Devon eyed her up and down then said, “Your dress is still on.”
Sarah bit her bottom lip and said, “I sent my maid to bed early and this dress has a lot of tiny buttons up the back.” Sarah moved her gaze down to his chest. She felt foolish all of the sudden.
I am going to regret asking this. “Do you need some help?”
“No, that will not be necessary Dev.” Do not ask me again because I will say yes before the words escape your lips.
She called me Dev again. God Sarah say it one more time. I love the way you same my name. “Are you planning to just sleep in your dress then?”
Sarah started laughing. “Honestly, I was going to do just that.”
Devon began to laugh with her. She always managed to amuse him in only the way she could. Devon then stepped into her room and shut the door behind him softly. Sarah stopped laughing and replaced it with a nervous smile.
Devon said to her, “Do you want me to stand in front of you and reach around to your back to unbutton your dress?” He started to chuckle. Say yes and I will kiss you.
Sarah turned around and walked to the middle of the room away from the door. “There are quite a few buttons. If you could just do half of them, I will be able to wiggle out of it. I know Landon is waiting down stairs for you and I do not want you to make him wait for you on my account.”
“Landon has already left. He had someone he needed to speak with.”
“Oh I see.” Am I breathing to loud? Maybe he can hear it.
Sarah was standing sideways slightly from the mirror. Devon could see her reflection in it. She was unaware of this fact. He reached up and moved her hair gently off to the side. He then began to work on the small buttons that started at the top of her neck and went down to middle of her bottom.
Sarah suddenly remembered she had not put on a under garment on her top. “Ah Dev.”
“I want to tell you that, Ah…I am not wearing a top under garment. I was feeling quite warm this evening when I dressed and I chose not to wear one. I know it is not proper but-”
“Sarah you are not the average woman, so I am neither surprised nor worried about it. Alright.”
As he worked on the second button, he moved his gaze to Sarah’s reflection in the mirror. She was starring slightly down. It looked as though she was daydreaming. Devon freed a few more buttons. As he did, his hand brushed up against her bare skin. Devon watched her as she closed her eyes tight and then opened them. Sarah moved her gaze up to the ceiling. He could see she was talking to herself silently, only moving her lips.
Devon was stuck on a button at the place between her shoulder blades. He slid a few fingers inside her dress. He watched as she slowly closed her eyes and kept then closed. Sarah then bit up her lip. That bottom lip of yours has caused me nothing but trouble. It is the single most sumptuous lip I have ever beheld Sarah.
Sarah was trying not to think about his hands on her bare skin. She was attempting to imagine herself on a beach in the warm sun. She was digging her toes into the sand, and then wiggling them back to the surface. She felt Devon slid his hand further into her dress. Sarah’s body shivered. Her eyes flew open. She knew he felt it.
“Did I tickle you?” Devon said in a soft voice to the back of her ear.
Sarah closed her eyes again and shook her head yes. She had no clue Devon could see her every expression. Sarah licked her lips and took in a deep breath, then slowly let in out. She felt herself growing moist in several places. Do not think about him touching you. Think about a soft cuddly puppy or perhaps a loud goose. A goose?
Devon could feel her breathing begin to deepen. He saw her licking her lips again. Devon became caught on another button. He had made it down to the middle of her back. He slid his hand in again to get a better grip on the tiny button, forcing it through the small buttonhole with his lar finger.
Sarah’s head was down with her eyes still closed. His hand was so warm on her skin. She began to think about the other night when he stood in front of her naked. Sarah cleared her throat in an attempt to clear her head.
Devon’s gaze went to her reflection. He could see her lips were red and swollen as if she had been kissing someone. He had not realized it but he had stopped moving. He stood watching her in the mirror. He knew she was becoming aroused.
“Are you finished Dev?” Sarah’s voice was cracking and sounded higher than normal. She whisper it to him again. She didn’t open her eyes she just remained still.
“No I am trying to figure out why this button will not go through the hole. Did Richards pick out this dress for you?” Devon asked.
“No why?” Sarah said softly back.
“Richards made a joke about you and a lot of buttons and it was safer with me around-” Devon just stopped talking. He knew he was not making sense to her. He moved his gaze to her reflection again.
Devon freed the button and moved on. Sarah’s shoulders and the very top of her chest was exposed from the dress falling. Devon could not stop starring at her. He wanted to lean forward and kiss her shoulder right now. He slid his hand back into her dress for no reason other than he wanted to touch her and watch her reaction to it. He had gotten the buttons as far down as the base of her back.
As he slid his hand inside her dress, Sarah shivered again. She then tilted her head back slightly and opened her mouth a little. She could not believe how much she wanted him to touch her. She could feel his breath on the back of her neck. It was warm and moist against her skin. She wished he wanted her, the why she wanted him. She knew she was going to end up in bed thinking about this moment most of the night.
Devon moved his hand further down grazing her bottom with the back of his hand. He watch Sarah’s mouth open a little more. Devon worked on the few remaining buttons, slowly. As he continued to work, he opened the back of her dress wide exposing more of her warm skin to the air. Sarah gasped then shivered. Devon saw goose pimples covering her skin.
“Are you cold?” Devon asked her. He ran his fingertips across the top of her bottom.
Sarah after a brief moment answered him. “I feel warm and you feel warm as well Dev?”
The way she had said that was in the sexist voice he had ever heard. He watched as she dipped her head back further. He could see her hands clenched in to fists at her sides with her dress taken up in them.
Devon worked on the two buttons left. Sarah’s bottom was nearly hanging out of her dress. He had pushed down her cotton under garments while he was working on the buttons. He suddenly realized Sarah was swaying back and forth.
“Sarah,” He shouted taking her in his arms as she fell backwards.
Sarah opened her eyes quickly. “I’m sorry.” She said as she brought her hand up to her forehead. “Oh my goodness, I am seeing spots. She looked up to Devon but was unable to focus on his face.
Devon picked her up and held her against his body. “I believe you nearly fainted.”
“I do not know what happened. I feel dizzy.” Sarah was blinking her eyes in an attempt to clear the spots in her vision.
“You were most likely standing in one place for too long is all.”
Devon came into focus and she smiled at him. “I feel a fool,” Sarah whispered.
He starred at her then smiled. “I like fools.” He began to lean closer to her lips and she quickly licked them. Devon stopped.
Devon picked her up and placed her on the bed. “I think I should take my leave now.”
“That he is in love.” Landon turned to her with a smile.
Sarah and Devon returned to the house. Grams began to give Sarah quite an earful. “And further more if you insist on lying in the middle of the field on top of a horse, I must be notified first. You scared me to death!” Grams was shouting with her arms flaring around in the air. Sarah stood before shaking her head in understanding. She glanced quickly over Grams shoulder at the two men at her back.
Devon looked to Landon who was trying to keep a straight face. Devon said,“Theatrical is she not.”
Landon shook his head in agreement and turned his back to her. “That is Grams though and I think she is amazing.” Landon said with a smile at Devon.
Off in the background, Sarah was still being scolded. Richards entered the room bringing tea and snacks. He walked past Devon and Landon as he said, “This will shut her up.” The two men could not contain their laughter and burst out. Sarah began to smile as she had heard what Richards had said.
Grams stopped talking when she saw some of Molly’s mini muffins go by. Richards began to pour some tea for everyone. Sarah turned to leave the room.
“Will you not stay for tea Lady Sarah?” Richards asked.
Sarah turned and said, “I think I shall bathe first. Save me a mini muffin for when I return.” Sarah then left the room.
Devon over heard what she had said to Grams and wrapped a mini muffin in a handkerchief placing it in his pocket. He joined Grams, Landon, and Richards near the sofa.
Sarah asked her maid Lisa, to draw her up a suds bath. It did not take long for Lisa to fill the tub. Before she left she asked Sarah if she needed her further. Sarah smiled kindly and told her no she may retire for the night.
Sitting at her table she let down the rest of her hair. She then stood and began to remove her clothes. Gazing at her naked body in the mirror, she wondered what other women looked like compared to her. She realized she had never thought of that before now. She examined her body in the full-length mirror. Turning around she looked at her bottom. She wondered if it was too large compared to other women? It looked large to her or maybe just firm and full. Sarah turned back towards the mirror and gazed at her breasts. She knew they were large enough because men were always gawking at them. She lifted her arms up above her head to see what they looked like at that angle. She thought it odd she had never once done this in the past.
Grams had noticed Landon looking at Devon with that smirk of his. As everyone talked with each other, Devon was starring out the window thinking of last night with Sarah. He wondered if she had removed her clothing yet. He could not picture her naked for some reason. He had never seen her naked, well not entirely naked but knew she would have to be beautiful. He thought about when he had grazed his finger across the top of her bottom and how soft she felt under his touch.
Sarah let her arms fall to her sides. She then stepped into the bath and slid down under the water. It felt so good. She had not realized how sore she was from riding. Sarah had used muscles she had not used in over six months. She remained in the tub until the water grew colder.
She braided her hair in a lose braid off to the side, seeing there was not much she was able to do with it being wet. Grabbing a light cotton soft blue dress, she to put on. Comfort is what she was looking for. The dress was similar to the one she wore the night before.
Sarah rejoined the group downstairs. Devon was the first one to see her standing in the doorway. Their gazes locked. Devon loved her hair that way. He smiled at her softly.
Landon noticed Devon smiling like a fool. He looked at the doorway and saw what was making him smiling that way. Landon chuckle to himself and thought that maybe Devon needed a reason to notice Sarah. Quite possibly if Landon was to began to adore Sarah a little, then Devon would have to speak up about the way he felt for her.
Sarah saw Landon’s expression on his face. Sarah looked to Devon and saw why Landon was making that face. She quickly moved towards the sofa.
“Oh look the dead is walking,” Grams said.
Landon walked over to Sarah. “Would you like some tea Sarah?” He smiled at her with his charming features.
“Yes thank you Landon.” Sarah returned the smile.
Devon asked himself. Why did he just call her Sarah and not Lady Sarah? Devon moved in closer to the group. He took a seat in the club chair. Grams was sitting at one end of the sofa and Sarah at the other with Landon in between them. Richards sat opposite of Devon in a club chair next to the fireplace.
“So Landon, do tell me who is new in the ton this season?” Grams said.
“To be perfectly honest, I have no idea. I do not have any interest in getting involved with the young ladies of the ton.” Landon looked to Devon.
“Grams you know as well as we do that a man can become easily trapped. It is best to stay away from the young ladies coming out and their mothers,” Devon said.
“Ah, entrapment is the name of their game I see. I will admit, I have witnessed myself many a times men becoming trapped into marriages. Does it not seem that it has gotten to the point, that a family can merely suspect an inappropriate gesture and the poor chap is then forced into marriage?” Grams asked no one in particular.
“The men always comprise an option though. He can simply departed from a scandal, were as a woman remains optionless.” Richards pointed out.
“Yes, why is that do you think? It does not at all seem just,” Sarah said.
“Because men can run about and chase skirts and proper ladies keep their skirts down. It is the way it is.” Grams said. “Being a woman is not easy to say the least. I personaly would not care to be a male. We females do have our advantages.” Grams smiled at the thought and looked to Sarah.
Sarah began to giggle at Grams as she had winked at her.
“Landon you have no plans to marry as Devon does not care too?” Grams asked him.
“Not at this time, perhaps in the future. I have far too many things to complete before I consider taking a wife.” Landon said.
“What if you fall in love?” Sarah asked him.
“Simple, I do not plan too.” Landon chuckled and looked at Devon as if it were that simple.
Grams started laughing, as did Richards. Devon, Sarah, and Landon were looking at each other.
“Falling in love is never something one plans or does not plan on doing my dear boy Landon. Grams said.
Richards was still chuckling. “If you have ever been in love you would surely not be saying that, Landon.”
“It happens as easily as the sky releases rain or someone blinking.”Grams said to all of them.
“Nor do you ever choose who to fall in love with.” Richards said as he looked to Grams and smiled at her.
“Yes, that is true as well. One minute you are not than the next minute you are.” Grams said.
“How would you know if you are then?” Sarah asked.
“There is no mistaking being in love. It is the strongest feeling on earth. Love is a life force in its self.” Richards answered Sarah. “It is a feeling like no other feeling. Love consumes your every thought of the one you love and you cannot resist the feeling you have for that person when they are near to you.”
“That is true. The feeling is so powerful it cannot be denied. When two people fall in love they feel it the instant they touch. A touch as simple as touching the others hand or arm. Having that person brush a hand across your knee” Grams said.
Devon shifted uncomfortably in his chair. He felt as though everyone in the room was reading his mind. He had felt that when Sarah brushed his knee and he cannot control himself around her with every thought he has is of her. Devon wanted to leave, but he couldn’t.
“What does it feel like?” Sarah asked them again.
Grams and Richards looked to one another, then Grams looked to Sarah and said, “The moment they touch, it is if the world has fallen away and all you see is the one who stands before you. A warm sensation washes over your body as a wave washes over you in the ocean. You suddenly feel alive and alert. Imagine walking though life asleep and you are touched and suddenly awoken. Your heart begins to race, you may have a hard time catching your breath, or you simply cannot move as you are stunned by the rush of emotion. The sensation of the first touch is something that you have never felt before. It is like a static shock but over your entire body, your mind, and your very soul. The soul knows and will not allow you to deny the feeling it desires and needs.
“It sounds painful.” Landon said with a light chuckled.
“It can be for some. Have you never heard of dieing of a broken heart?”Grams said to Landon.
“Can that really happen to people?” Sarah asked.
“It most certainly can and does. My sister Maggie died of a broken heart. She was my younger sister and she was so very much in love.” Grams looked to Devon. “I have told you the story have I not Devon?”
Devon cleared his throat. “I thought she had died from a fever.”
“No no no.” Grams said.
“I have heard your family talk of it in the past.” Richards said. He looked to Sarah and said, “Her portrait hangs in the hallway outside Lady Wilsbee’s sitting room.”
“What happened to her? Why did he leave her? Did he not love her back?”Sarah asked Grams. Her eyes were wide with fascination, wanting to know the poor woman’s story.
“Maggie was just merely a year older than you Sarah my dear. She was twenty-three years old. The whole family gathered for a family picnic at my cousin’s estate. It had been dreadfully hot that summer. Maggie was sitting under a large oak tree watching the younger children fly their kites in the summer's warm breeze.”
“The way that Bruce liked to tell the story was that, he saw Maggie earlier that day running with the children in a field and her beauty caught his breath. He was nervous and not quite sure what to say to her or how to approach her. Bruce poured two glasses of lemonade and walked over to her. He said his heart was beating so fast he thought it my beat out of his chest. Bruce knelt down in front of Maggie, who was sitting on the ground, and offered her the glass of lemonade. Maggie’s gaze locked with his and she smiled at him. No words were ever exchanged between them. Maggie reached out and touched his hand that held out the glass in front of her.”
“Now, Maggie and Bruce both say it was if they had known one another for life times. It was many life times of the past, present, and the future all in one single moment, in one touch. Bruce leaned forward and kissed her.
“Bruce and Maggie were engaged within less than a week. Our parents insisted to a long engagement. The young couple in love did not care. They were not waiting for the honeymoon to share their love with one another. I know because I walked in on them. The position I had found them in, I still to this day do not believe to be physically possible.”
Everyone started laughing. Sarah was smiling shyly. Devon looked to her and he knew she was confused but trying not to show it.
“What happened to the young couple?” Landon asked after a few seconds had past.
“Oh yes. Well they remained very much in love throughout their nearly six-month engagement. Bruce was over at our estate from the time the sun rose until long after it set. He wrote Maggie poetry, which I still have to this day. When you were in the room with these two, the room was alive. You could feel the love they had for one another in the air around them.”
“Three days before the wedding Bruce told Maggie he had to go pick up the wedding gift he had made for her by a friend who was a jeweler. Maggie did not want him to leave. Bruce was to be gone for a day and a half. He had left early on a Thursday morning. Maggie sat in the big picture window awaiting his return, right here in this very room.” Grams pointed to the window seat at the big picture window.
“Friday evening came and there was a caller for Maggie at the door.” Grams put her head down to compose herself. “I still remember the cries coming out of that room were the strange man was with Maggie. The whole house heard her and grew silent. The carriage Bruce was riding in flipped over and crashed. The driver had fallen asleep and Bruce was killed.”
Devon heard Sarah gasp as she chocked back her tears. Devon leaned forword and handed her his handkerchief. Sarah looked to him as he smiled at her.
“The stranger in the room with Maggie was Bruce’s old friend, the jeweler. He gave to Maggie her wedding ring that held in it three birthstones. Maggie’s, Bruce’s and in the middle of the ring, was the birth stone of their unborn child.”
“Maggie slowly died six months later of a broken heart. She never wore the ring. She just held it in the palm of her hand.”
Grams got up off the sofa and walked to Sarah who was trying to keep up with wiping her tears. Grams held out her hand to Sarah. As Sarah gazed at Grams's hand, she saw the ring.
“It is beautiful.” Sarah said as she ran her fingers over the stones.
“Upon her deathbed she told me she would do it all over again, even knowing she would only have six months with him. “Live your life with love in your heart,” was her last words to me. Then she handed me the ring and died in my arms.” Grams said.
After a few moments Grams said, “I think we have had enough of love stories and tea. Devon would you like to pour us some drinks and we shall have a toast.”
“What shall we toast to Grams?” Landon asked her.
“We shall toast to good friends and the pursuit of love.” Grams let out a giggle.
Sarah sat quietly and thought about the story and Grams description of being in love. She had decided she wanted that. She wanted to feel that feeling and share her heart with someone. She thought she had felt that with Devon but she couldn’t have because if it was love, then he would have felt it as well.
Devon sat next to Sarah on the sofa as everyone else was by the bar. He handed her a glass of wine. Sarah smiled as she looked at the glass. She thanked him while not moving her eyes away from it.
“Are you alright?” Devon asked her softly.
“I am wonderful.” Sarah said as she was still smiling.
“Wonderful? Most people would be saddened after a story like that one. You seem to have lifted spirits Lady Sarah.” Devon chuckled as he teased her.
“I think I do. I think I may have changed my mind about marriage. I do not want to be scared any longer of becoming hurt. I believe Grams was right when she told us to live life without love, is not to live life at all. I want to fall in love.” Sarah said to him. Then she smiled again slowly at her glass of wine she was still starring at in her hand.
“Shall we toast?” Sarah shouted happily. She then got up and knelt on the sofa, resting her arms over the back of it.
Devon remained quiet. Everyone else clacked glasses in a cheer. Sarah looked down at Devon.
“I cannot take a sip of my wine until you raise your glass with me Dev.”
Devon raised his glass to her and gazed at her bright smile.
“Cheers to you Dev, I hope you find the woman who will make you feel alive in love.” Sarah said to him sweetly.
Devon said, “If it happens then it happens.” Devon shot back his whole drink in one gulp. He stood up and went to pour another.
Grams moved over to where Sarah was and Devon could hear them discussing the upcoming ball. Landon walked over to him as Richards, who he was talking with left the room. Devon shot back another drink in one gulp.
“I can get you the whole bottle if you like.” Landon said then laughed.
Devon chuckled. “Why do women get so caught up in the idea of love do you think?”
“You do not believe in love?” Landon asked him.
“No, I didn’t say that. I just think people should not chase fairy tales their entire lives is all I am saying. If it is as Richards and Grams describes it to be, then hardly anyone would ever marry. It could take a lifetime to find that person. Could you imagine how much time one would spend looking for it,” Devon said.
“Or avoiding it as well. I think if you fall in love, you cannot deny it to yourself. My parents are still madly in love after thirty years, so I have seen it myself. Believe me Devon, my father still looks at my mother like a fool in love.” Landon then smiled at the thought of his parents.
Richards entered the room and announced supper was ready. Grams and Sarah strolled to the dining room arm in arm as Devon and Landon followed behind them.
Grams had her usual place at the head of the table. Sarah was off to her left and Landon was at her right. Devon was sitting next to Sarah. They started the meal with clam chowder soup. As it is set down in front of Devon and Sarah, they look at each other and start to laugh.
Richards gave them the eyebrow and said, “Do attempt to keep it in your own bowls this time. Otherwise, I do believe Molly will quit.”
Grams looked at the two partners in crime laughing hysterically, which of course made her begin to laugh.
“Is there something in the soup?” Landon asked.
Sarah started to slap her hand on top of the table. She could not catch her breath.
Grams shouted for everyone to stop laughing because she was in danger of wetting herself. A moment later, she then announced it was too late.
Sarah had rolled off her chair holding her stomach and was snorting. Devon’s face was red. He watched Sarah roll off her chair and fall to the floor. Devon burst out in a harder laugh.
Richards took it upon himself to explain the incident that took place in the room they were in and the explosion of food within it. He had explained that Devon insisted Sarah had dropped her plate but Richards added she must have had to drop it a thousand times over.
Grams then began to describe what she had seen, as well as the way Sarah and Devon looked when she had opened the door on them. Sarah and Devon began to argue who had really started the fight. Sarah took everyone else’s opinion about the matter and of course, they all agreed Devon deserved it. Devon threw his napkin at Landon and announced he was a traitor.
A while later, everyone had quieted down and began to eat the now cold soup. Landon looked at Devon who was watching Sarah as she was speaking with Grams about the ball. He gazed at Sarah at times the way his father looked at his mother. Landon had decided he would talk with Grams about it later. Devon needed a little encouragement concerning Sarah.
“Have I told you this evening how breath taking you are?” Landon said to Grams.
“I do believe you have not! And to think, I have had to wait patiently while you had not notice until this very minute.” Grams started to giggle at her own witty humor.
“Please do forgive me my beauty.” Landon picked up her hand and kissed it gently. “Do not make me beg for an apology.” He flashed her a devilish wicked smile.
“I like my men to beg my dear boy and beg you will my exquisite creature.”
Laughter again began to fill the room. Sarah told Devon how she loved to watch Grams and Landon do this to one another.
“It is a contest to see which one can stump the other.” Devon said to her.
“Or whoever blushes first.” Sarah said.
“It will end up being Landon, I’ll bet you. Grams tongue can become quite wicked at times. I would wager on it.” Devon said with a chuckle.
“Alright then, what shall we wager?” Sarah said back with confidence.
Devon looked at her and smiled. “I am not sure.”
“Perhaps a dance at the ball. If I lose you get to pick my partner and if you lose I can pick yours.” Sarah suggested.
Devon said. “For one dance or every dance?”
“Oh, shall we do it for every dance. This will make it much more interesting. What if they have a tie?” She asked.
“How are they going to have a tie at this Sarah?”
“They could both very well blush at the same time. Could they not?” Sarah looked to them then back at Devon.
“Then we will split the dance choices for each other evenly.” Devon stated.
“Agreed then,” Sarah finalized it with a nod.
Sarah stood and clanked her fork on her glass. “Devon and I have a wager going concerning you two. I have wagered Devon, that Landon can make Grams blush before Grams can make Landon blush.” She looked to Grams and said, “Sorry Grams, I have blushed with the things he has said to you.” Sarah then sat down.
Devon looked to her and said, “He makes you blush?”
“Have you not heard what comes out of the man’s mouth?” Sarah faced forward and smiled.
“What do you purpose we will get out of this? Landon asked.
Devon asked him, “What would you like?”
Landon replied. “Nothing from you Devon.” Landon moved his gaze to Sarah“What will you offer to me Sarah?”
Sarah instantly blushed. She looked to Devon and said, “Oh he is good. Look at my face. I believe I shall win.” Sarah began to giggle.
“I am not being serious. I do appreciate your confidence in my ability though Sarah.” Landon laughed at Devon’s expression.
“My boy, have no fear for you know my mouth. I shall not let you down.”Grams was shouting.
“You may start at any time throughout the remainder of the evening but, everyone must be present.” Sarah said to all of them. “Our hope is that by night’s end we shall have a winner.”
Devon questioned her no further on the subject.
They continued to talk with one another sharing stories and telling jokes. Sarah gazes around the table feeling at home. Two months ago, she would have never thought she would have found such kind friendship so close to where her home was. That house was also filled with happiness once upon a time.
“Sarah is something wrong?” Grams asked with her with a sweet round face full of concern.
“I was thinking how blessed I am that Devon had come across me in the park last week. Your kind friendship has been one of the most important in my life Grams.”
Afterwards everyone moved to Devon’s study. Grams and Sarah sat on the sofa. Landon and Devon took a seat across from the women in the club chairs.
“Sarah and I have been discussing the ball Landon my boy. I was thinking if you could take the first dance with her, then we can see who else may be interested. After hearing my story earlier, she has confided in me that she is open to seeing who may be out there of interest.”
“I believe that is a good plan.” Landon stood up and walked to Sarah and said, “Have you not taken me into consideration though?”
Devon’s heart was racing. He watch as Sarah looked from Grams to Landon and then back to Grams.
Landon reached down and touched her hand. He placed his other hand around her hand as well and fell to one knee before her. Landon waited for a moment then said, “I am sorry, I felt no warn rush consuming my very soul. Did you?” Landon then flashed her a smile.
Devon was nearly ready to jump out of his chair. What he was going to do after that he had not thought of.
Sarah started to laugh. She was fanning her red face. “Landon I thought you to be serious. I had no clue what to tell you. A little devil is what you are.”
Grams laughed and slapped his bottom as he passed by her. “You had me going as well, you fiend”
Landon turned and said, “Can you spank me again?”
“Will you be bare bottom when I do?” Grams started laughing again.
Sarah gasped at what they said. “I think I shall learn more tonight from you two then I care to know.” Sarah was shaking her head back and forth at how in proper they were speaking to one another. She secretly loved it though.
“Shall we play a card game?” Grams asked.
“Grams, must you insist on playing cards with every guest who comes over?”Devon teased her.”
“I will if you would like me to...Devon.” Landon said and then laughed. “Did you tell Grams of your new friend Eli?”
“I had not planned on it.” Devon said through this teeth at him.
“Perhaps that is a story for later.” Landon said with a wiry smile at Sarah and Grams.
“Sarah my dear, with the upcoming ball we must freshen up on your dance steps,” Grams said as she had grabbed Sarah’s arm. “Landon, would you please help Sarah to freshen up my boy?”
Landon shoved his drink at Devon and said, “It would be my pleasure. Hold this would you, I have been waiting for a reason to touch her.”
Touch her and I think I may be forced to break your hands, old friend.Devon shot back Landon’s drink.
Grams was standing next to both of them in the middle of the room. Devon watched as Grams was instructing Sarah on where to place her hands on Landon. Devon cringed the moment Sarah placed her hand on Landon’s shoulder. He saw Landon whisper something in Sarah’s ear, she laughed and turned to him, and Devon turned away. Bloody hell!
As Sarah and Landon began to dance about the room, Landon drew Sarah closer to his body. He then stopped and dipped her.
“Oh!”Sarah shouted with surprise. “What dance is this?”
Landon smiled at her with his devilish smile and said loud enough for Devon to hear him. “I have a name for it and I believe it allows a man to gaze where he wishes to, at the woman he is holding.”
Sarah shook her head and said, “Why was I foolish enough to ask you that”
Landon threw his head back and laughed. “This one is called the devilish dip. It is a move and not a whole dance. You should travel to Spain Sarah. The type of dancing they do is not anything like we partake in here. The women dance with their entire bodies. Like in the story Devon was telling us about the young woman in Egypt.”
“I still cannot picture what it may look like.” Sarah said to Landon as they continued to dance.
“You have been to India, right?” Landon continued as she shook her head yes. “Have you not seen the women dance in India?”
“I understand now. No we would never dance it that fashion here.”Sarah giggled.
“Well, at least not in public view. Behind closed doors is another story.”Landon looked to her and moved his eyebrows up and down at her.
Sarah slapped his arm and said, “You are supposed to be using this on Grams, not me. I am rooting for you remember.”
“Ah yes, the contest. It will take a lot more than that to bring forth a blush on that dirty old woman.” Landon smiled.
“I heard that.” Grams yelled from across the room.
Landon and Sarah laughed louder.
Devon took a seat in a club chair after pouring himself another drink. Grams sat back down on the sofa and was sipping her drink as she watched them dance about the room. Devon was watching also and was not comfortable with were Landon had been placing his hands on Sarah. He swore Landon was doing it to get a rise out of him.
“My boy, why have you been so pouty the last few days?” Grams asked Devon.
“I have been asked to leave my home every night. That could be reason number one perhaps.” He did not bother to look at her.
Landon held Sarah in front of Devon and turned to Grams who was laughing at Devon’s expression. Landon said to Grams, “Dance with me my impure woman of my deepest desire.”
Grams got up from the sofa after letting out a loud burst of laughter.
Landon looked back at Sarah and said, “I do apologize, my true love awaits me.” Then he glanced at Devon and said, “Hold this would you?”Landon dropped Sarah in Devon’s lap.
Devon caught her. “Landon!” Devon shouted at him.
Landon paid Devon no attention. He walked over to Grams and spins her up into a dance.
Sarah lay in Devon’s lap still giggling. She started to push herself out of the chair but could not without pushing against Devon. He waited a moment then said, “Perhaps you truly do not wish to leave my lap, Lady Sarah.”
Sarah felt bold and said, “Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I wish to sit on top of you for the remainder of the evening and into the next morning, Lord Price.”
Devon had not expected that answer and he laughed. “Would you care to dance?”
“Would you like to do it from the chair?” Sarah gave him smile.
“Sarah Mcmay. You are as dirty as Grams. Wow.” Devon was shocked and amused at what came out of her mouth. She had no idea what she had just implied to him and why it was so funny.
“What did I say? What did that mean?” Sarah was surprised at his laughing towards her. She began to hit his shoulder and demanding that he tell her.
Devon grabbed her hand in his and held it for a moment. Devon began to lean into her. “Will you dance with me Sarah?”
Sarah shook her head yes. She had noticed how his entire body language had just changed. He had looked at her with such intensity. Sarah could feel her hands begin to tremble.
Devon asked Sarah if she knew the waltz. Sarah had told him no. Devon then asked Grams for some assistance in teaching her. Devon and Grams demonstrated the moves for her.
Sarah watched with delight as she thought she would like this dance very much. Grams then handed Devon over to Sarah.
Devon could feel Sarah’s hands trembling as he took them in his. As they started, Sarah continued to watch her own feet.
“Sarah you will miss step if you keep starring at your feet. Look up to me and let me lead you.”
Sarah started to become frustrated with herself. “I am not sure if I can do this dance Dev.”
“You can and will, just look up at me. You cannot very well stare at you feet while dancing the waltz with someone you do not know.” Devon encouraged her to trust him.
As they began, both of them moved through the room with ease, until Sarah looked down again. She missed a step and landed on Devon’s foot.
“I am sorry Dev. Did I hurt you?” Sarah was blushing.
Devon chuckled. “No, I have another foot I can use. Why did you look down?”
“Because I had forgotten which direction we were to move next.” She smiled and shrugged her shoulders slightly.
“That is why you follow my lead. I, meaning me, and you, meaning you. Who leads?”
“You are to lead.” Sarah said while rolling her eyes.
“I follow you.” Sarah was annoyed at his teasing.
“Alright are you ready to begin? You have to look at me Sarah.” Devon squeezed her hand. “You can learn this. Look me in my eyes and do not look away to your feet. Keep you gaze on me.” Devon said to her.
As they both began, Sarah found it quite easy when she looked Devon in the eyes. She did not think, she just followed his direction. She started to think how very blue his eyes were.
“What about my dear sinful sweet?”
“It is about Devon and his intentions towards Sarah or I dear say lack of. I have an idea but I will need your help.”
“Shall we go look for a snack in the kitchen?” Grams asked with a giggle.
“My dear love, who needs food when you have this to feast on.” Landon smiled at her as he waved his hand down the length of his body at her.
Grams patted him on the arm while saying, “Landon my love, I would chew you up and spit you out.”
Landon laughed as they left the room arm in arm.
Devon and Sarah had not realized they were alone as they continued to dance beautifully. Devon was beginning to regret telling Sarah to look him in the eyes. All he could think about was kissing her. Kissing her lips, then moving down her neck, and pausing at the base where her long soft neck met her shoulder. Devon’s gaze was on that area.
Sarah asked him, “What are you looking at?”
“You.”It was all he said to her.
Devon’s gaze flew to Sarah’s lips as she bit up her bottom lip.
Sarah slowly let her lip slid out from between her teeth, as she was aware Devon was starring at it. She began to feel foolish.
Devon thought about taking her bottom lip up between his teeth.
Devon released her from his arms. He was still staring intensely at Sarah’s lips. “Sarah can you walk away for me, please?”
Sarah stepped back from him and turned to the sofa. “Where did everyone go? Shall I go find them?” Sarah was still looking about the room.
Sarah looked to Devon. His eyes were wild looking to her. She took another step back and turned to leave. The look in his eyes was making her uncomfortable. He looked odd to her.
She started for the door. Devon reached out grabbed her arm and pulled her to him.
“Devon.”Sarah was startled.
Sarah pushed against his chest. Devon whispered, “Don’t go.”
She felt weak. Her knees began to buckle. Devon caught her and held her in his arms. He gazed into her warm jade colored eyes.
How am I to ever give you up to another man Sarah? Tell me how I let you go. I wish you could see that I am no good for you Sarah. That this is wrong…that we are wrong. Can you not see you are turning me towards madness!
“Landon did you just see what I think I just saw?” Grams asked him as she stopped in the center of the hallway ten feet from the door.
“If it was Devon and Sarah in a passionate embrace with their lips on each other, than no.” Landon looked to her and said, “We should give them a moment.”
“Sarah’s back was to us, so I did not actually see their lips touch. Did you?”Grams asked him.
“Odds are if they hadn’t, they were just about to.” Landon said as he guided her forward down the hallway.
Grams and Landon headed to the drawing room to wait. She took a seat on the sofa and began to eat her sweets. She slowly bit into a mini muffin as she starred off at nothing in particular. Her mind was on Devon and Sarah.
Landon stood looking out the window. He was hoping Devon had come to his senses concerning his feelings towards Sarah.
Devon and Sarah entered the room together a moment later.
“Why did the two of you leave?” Sarah asked.
“I was craving a snack my dear,” Grams said.
Both Landon’s and Gram’s gazes were on Devon as he stood next to Sarah in the doorway. Devon reached up adjusting his collar as it had suddenly grew tight. He did not like the way the two of them were glaring at him.
Devon walked over to the bar. Landon after a moment followed Devon. He saw Landon coming over and pulled out another glass for him.
Landon came to Devon’s side and whispered, “What the hell are you doing?” Landon did not intend it but his voice had a hint of concern.
Devon kept his eyes on the glasses he was filling. He calmly said, “What are you referring to?”
Landon leaned in closer over Devon’s shoulder. His whisper was a little harsher this time. “Please tell me you intend to ask for her hand in marriage Devon.”
Devon moved his gaze to Landon’s and held it there for only a moment. Devon looked away to the glasses again. He then grabbed a bottle of wine from under the bar.
Landon understood what Devon’s eyes had just told him. “I do not even know who you are any more. The man I know to be Devon Price would never have considered doing what you have done to her. What are you thinking Devon?”
Landon ran his hand threw his hair and let out a long sigh. He turned back over Devon’s shoulder and said, “Why don’t you admit to yourself you love this woman because it seems you are the only one in the room who cannot see that fact.”
Devon was working on opening the new bottle of wine for Sarah. He paused for a moment, he then continued working on the cork in the bottle.
Landon was growing angry with Devon’s cold demeanor. “Benjamin is turning in his grave for what you are doing to his daughter. She loves you and you are using that for your own amusement with her.”
Devon slammed the bottle of wine he was holding on the bar top and shouted,“I do not have to explain myself to you or anyone else.”
Sarah and Grams immediately whipped their heads around to Devon.
Devon pushed past Landon and stormed out of the room. Landon stood behind the bar still starring at the doorway. A moment later, everyone heard the front door slam shut with great force.
Grams turned her gaze to Landon. Her mouth was open with shock from Devon’s behavior. She had never seen him so angry, it worried her. “What happened?”
“Landon, is Dev alright? Should we go to find him?” Sarah asked.
Grams took Sarah’s hand. Sarah held Grams hand tight. Both the women were waiting for Landon to say something, anything to fill them in on what had just happened.
“He is a fool! That man is pig headed and stubborn. He is his own worst enemy. Damn it!” Landon was frustrated and angry.
Landon please explain to us what has happened between you two.” Sarah said her voice growing with worry.
It is not what has happened between Devon and me. It is what has been taking place between Devon and you, Sarah.” Landon came out from behind the bar and walked towards her.
Grams said to her, “We saw you and Devon in the study as he was kissing you.”
“He did not kiss me,” Sarah said.
Grams squeezed her hand. “You do not need to defend him Sarah. He knows what he is doing to you is wrong.”
Landon sat down next to her. “Sarah, he is denying to himself what he clearly feels for you. Devon does not intend to ask for your hand in marriage.” Landon tried to tell her the truth as gently as he could.
Sarah gazed down at her lap. She was fidgeting with a ribbon on her dress. Sarah could feel her bottom lip begin to quiver. “He did not kiss me. I stopped him. Well he had asked me to walk away from him and I did, but then he pulled me to him and asked me not to go. He stopped himself from kissing me” Sarah felt the sting of tears in her eyes.“I know he does not care for me the way I care for him. I wanted him to kiss me anyway.”
“Oh Sarah, love is difficult at times,” Grams said to her.
“Why is it Sarah you think he struggles with himself when he is around you?” Landon asked her.
Sarah began to blush as she said, “He has not been with a woman since his return.” She whispered it as if she were telling a deep dark secret to someone.
Landon and Grams looked at one another with amusement.
Grams said to her, “Sarah he loves you. That is why he cannot think clearly around you. If Devon wanted to he could have been with a woman since his return, but it is you he wants, that is why he has not. Oh sweat child do you not see it?”
Landon smiled at her and said, “She is telling you the truth Sarah.”
“Did he tell you as much,” Sarah asked him.
“No but I know Devon very well and I believe that he is in love with you.” Landon answered her.
“He has not confided in either one of you as to his feeling for me. I will believe it to be true if Devon tells me from his own lips.”Sarah could taste the salt on her lips from her tears. “Will you please excuse me? She stood and left to go to bedchamber.
Grams began to tear up herself. Landon handed her a handkerchief. As grams wiped her tears away she said, “What are we to do Landon?”
Devon pushed Rear to run faster than he was. He wanted to hurt someone or punch something. He wanted to never go back. That was what he really wanted. Landon had no right to pry into my dealings with Sarah. What does Landon know any ways. Why does everyone insist on telling me what I feel? I know what my own feelings are and they do not include marriage or falling in love.
He rode for hours passing two towns on the way. Devon finally stopped at a small town miles away from home. He took a room above a tavern and booked it for only the night.
Devon took a seat in a corner set back from the small crowd of men in the pub. A young barmaid came up and asked him what he would like. She smiled flirtatiously at him. Devon ordered a bottle of scotch, ignoring her advances towards him. He was not in the mood for company.
He began to think about how he saw Sarah’s face every time he had tried to kiss MaryAnn. He told himself it was his concern over Sarah’s situation that had cause it. He just need to do what Benjamin had asked him to get her out of his head and out of his home.
Who did Landon think was to judge him? He does not have to stay under the same roof with Sarah tempting him. Landon has no clue how torturous it can be with her around all the time. Landon would not be able to resist her smile or the way her head tilts to the side, when she is thinking hard about something. He has seen the way she bits in her bottom lip and looks up gazing at you with her big hazel green eyes, so he should understand.
Devon threw back his second shot, feeling it burn as it slid down his throat. He ran through his mind what Landon had said to him. They had never had words before in that manner. Landon had always been his closest friend and honestly more like a brother. It hurt him to know Landon saw him as a rake. The very thing Devon despised. How could he have let things get so out of hand with Sarah? Landon was right. He is not the man he once knew. Devon didn’t even know who he was any longer.
Sarah began to cry harder into her pillow. She had been holding these feelings inside for so long and know that she was allowing them to the surface, they would not stop hurting her. She felt as though someone had died. How could she morn for something that was never truly real. It was merely her own hopes for his love that she longed for.
She hugged the pillow tighter against her chest and face. Sarah wanted her father. She wanted him to draw her up into his arms and tell her everything will be all right. She wanted to hear his voice again, just one more time. To have another chance to hug him and smell his scent of books and tobacco pipe that had always lingered on him.
Richards stood outside Sarah’s door. He could hear her deep gasping cries. Richards raised his hand to the door then he stopped dropping his hand back down to his side.
Grams came up the stairs and saw Richards standing outside Sarah’s door.“Richards,” she whispered.
He turned to her and said, “What is going on tonight in this bloody house? Why is she crying?”
Grams explained the story with a few short cuts to get to the point and brought him up to the current moment.
“I am going in there.” He lifted his hand to knock on Sarah’s door.
Grams grabbed his arm and said, “She wants to be alone. The poor girl is a mess.”
“That is why we must check on her Darleen.” Richards raised his voice.
The two of them froze as they heard Sarah’s cries grow louder.
Richards turned to Grams and said, “I stood outside your door in the same manner, do you not recall. You needed someone then as Sarah does now. What if I had left you alone and walked away, honoring your privacy Darleen?”
Grams studied his face for a moment then said, “Knock on the door Richards.”
table in the corner. He does not know why or how they had come to sit with him but they were. Devon had ordered a good meal for the table and shared his bottle of scotch with them.
The two men seemed to Devon to be an odd pair to be friends, seeing that they were complete opposites. The calm easygoing man was John O’Brien. The other man Bob was very loud and seemed angry, but also a man of very little words.
“So what brings you here to drink alone?” John asked Devon.
“It is a woman. It is always damn women!” Bob answered for Devon.
Devon chuckled. “Well yes it is a woman but not in the sense you think it is”
“Women don’t make no sense. They just make problems is all they do,” Bob said.
Devon put his hand up to his chin and studied the angry man.
“Ah.”John said as he waved his hand at Bob. “Pay him no attention lad. He is still angry for his wife up and leaven him.”
“I am sorry to hear that.” Devon said.
“You think he’d be over it by now, she left twenty years ago.” John said and started to chuckle.
“Yours left you too.” Bob said to John.
“Bob you damn well she did not.” John turned to Devon and said, “Me wife died a few months after given birth to me daughter. She caught a fever and died. It was a long time ago.”
“You did not remarry?” Devon asked him.
John smiled and shook his head no. “I wanted to but could not bring me self to. I loved her a wee bit too much and I looked to no other woman the way me did her. Oh, she was a beautiful woman. My daughter looks just like her.”
“What do you do for work John?” Devon asked him as he saw the spotted burns on his hands.
“I am a black smith and handyman I guessen you’d call it. My daughter Brook and I get by. She works at a library a few towns over in Clairfield.”
“I know that library. I live not far from town. Sarah Mcmay is a friend of mine who works there as well,” Devon said.
“Ah I know Sarah. She is such a sweet little lady. She always sends Brook home with sweets for me. It is sad about her situation.” John shook his head at the thought of Sarah. His gaze then rose to Devon. John sat up in his chair and said, “You are not friends with that Collins fella are ya?”
“No I was Benjamin Mcmay’s business partner and friend. Sarah is staying with my family at Price estates. What do you know of this man Collins?”
“Well I tell ya this, if he had done to me Brook what the little bastard had done to Sarah, I would have tied him up to the back of a horse and sent him running threw a garden of rocks I tell ya. A man has no business putting him hands were they aren’t wanted. After Brook had told me what had been done to Sarah, I told her Sarah should stay with us if she saw fit to. Brook was going to tell her the next day but she hasn’t seen or heard from Sarah since. She is worried of it too.
“Please tell Brook she is safe with my family and she may visit any time she would like to,” Devon said.
“Thank ya very much, I will.”
The barmaid brought over their food. Devon went to go eat and John grabbed his hand.
“Lad, when ya eat with me, ya gives thanks first.”
Devon raised his brows at the little Irish man and said, “My apologizes John.”
“Oh you poor dear.” Grams said as she walked to Sarah’s bedside with her arms out to her. “Come here Sarah.” Grams wrapped her arms around Sarah and held her tight.
“Is there anything I can fetch for you?” Richards said softly.
Sarah shook her head no, as she wiped her tears away. She looked a mess with her hair falling out from the pins that had secured it and her eyes were red and swollen. She brushed back her hair off her face as she looked to Grams.
Grams took Sarah’s face in her hands and looked to Sarah with such pity. Sarah’s face began to frown in Gram’s hands and then crumbled as tears streamed down from Sarah’s eyes and over Gram’s fingers. She pulled Sarah to her chest and Sarah let her cries begin again.
She rubbed Sarah’s back and gazed at Richards. “Perhaps some tea may help.”
Richards put his hand on Grams shoulder, gave it a little squeeze and nodded.“Where shall you like me to bring it Darleen?”
“I will tidy her up and we will have it in the drawing room Fredrick, thank you my love.”
“Very well then.” Richards then left to fetch some tea for the two women, quietly closing the door as he exited the room.
Grams lifted Sarah away from her and said, “Shall we clean you up a bit and take some tea. We have all night to talk my dear. Come on let’s get you to the dressing table and I will fix your hair.”
Gazing at herself in the mirror as she sat at the dressing table, Sarah did not recognize the young woman who was staring back at her. All she saw was a sad weak woman who has a dark lonely future in front of her.
Who could love that kind of woman? Having no dowry to offer any suitor. Growing up without a proper education, only the experience of the travels with a father. Left without any connection to family and remains still removed from society. A woman who was left alone and penniless. What could I possibly have to offer anyone? Nothing is what I have and nothing is all I will ever have.
Grams watched Sarah in the mirror. Her heart was breaking for her as she could see Sarah’s sad eyes. Sarah’s gaze into her own reflection was hollow. Grams remembered feeling that way with the loss of her husband and then tragically, with her son. The loneliness that covers you like a blanket, wrapping you tight as if trying to smother what little life is left in you out. She recalls what a threatening place that can be.
“There we are my dear.” Grams said as she finished placing the last pin in Sarah’s hair. “You are so handsome Sarah. I never had a daughter or a niece of my own to do hair for my dear. I do hope you like it?”Grams smiled at Sarah’s refection.
Sarah gazed down at a few pins that lay on top of the dressing table in front of her. That last thing she felt was pretty. She did not want to look at that woman in the mirror any more. Sarah does not know her and does not care too.
As she stood up from the dressing table, she thanked Grams and walked towards the door. Her body felt heavy and sluggish. She felt numb.
Grams came up beside her and looped her arm through Sarah’s arm. Together the two women proceeded to the drawing room for some hot tea.
“Poor Bob, if he had spent less time here and more at home, his wife wouldn’t have left him. He had always liked the drink a wee bit too much though,” John said.
John turned towards Bob upon hearing a loud crash. Devon went to stand to offer aid to the man. Bob had finally made it on top of the bar stool and then fell over sideways as he passed out.
“Aah Bob.” John said. He stood up and went to his friend lying on the floor. “Come on their Bob, time to go home. Let’s get ya up and will put ya to bed.” John helped Bob to his feet. Bob’s arm was hanging over John’s shoulder.
Devon came up next to Bob, and took his other arm and put it about his shoulder. “How far does he live?”
“Oh on the outskirts of town in the country, but we’ll bring him to me house for the night.” John said with labored breath from the weight of Bob on him.
“How far do you live John?” Devon asked as he was trying to turn himself and Bob sideways to get through the door of the tavern to the street.
“Ah on the out skirts of town, a wee bit in the country but closer.”
Devon started to chuckle. “Closer you say?” He shook his head back and forth with amusement at John’s humor. “Alright then, which direction are we to go?”
“To the right and down the road a bit.” John replied.
John and Devon made their way down the road with Bob. It was a struggle for Devon to hold Bob, he was quite a bit taller than John was, and to add to that Bob was not walking. Bob’s feet were dragging behind him.
After about fifteen minutes of walking, Devon threw Bob over his shoulder.
“It is right around the corner up ahead.”
Devon was thankful being that Bob was a heavyset man with a very round belly that did not balance well upon his shoulder.
John opened his front door and Devon stumbled inside with Bob. John pointed to a room off the kitchen for Devon to place him. Devon bounced off the narrow doorway of the room hitting Bob’s head on the frame. Devon hurled Bob’s body on to the bed, nearly falling on top of him as his body lunged forward.
Devon pointed to Bob’s head and with labored breath and said, “He may feel that in the morning.”
John laughed at that. “Oh believe me lad. He has been in far worse shape. A little knock on the noggin won’t do much to him.”
Devon smiled at him, placing his hands on his hips while trying to catch his breath.
“Come on Devon. Let us see if we can find us a drink.” John patted him on the back.
Devon sat down in a chair at John’s kitchen table. His breathing was still labored. It was a long walk from town with an encompassing man about his shoulder.
“Ah Brook me girl,” John said as he looked past Devon’s shoulder behind him.
Devon stood up and turned to greet the woman. He bowed to her and said,“Nice to meet your acquaintance Lady Brook. My name is Lord Devon Price.”
Devon was surprised at how beautiful she was. Brook has big gray-blue eyes and long wavy deep red hair. Both features were stunning against her pale milky white skin.
Brook curtsied to Devon and smiled. “How do you do Lord Price?”
“Devon is a friend of Sarah’s,” John said as he sat back down.
Brook moved quickly to Devon but still maintaining a respectable distance.“You have not seen Sarah recently have you?” Brook’s expression filled with worry for her friend.
“Sarah is currently a guest at my estate with my family. I assure you she is sound.” Devon said to Brook with a reassuring tone in his voice.
Brook smiled at him, looking relieved upon hearing the good news.
Back at the estate Grams and Sarah had settled down for tea in the drawing room. Sarah was staring out the widow. She had not really taken her tea yet. Richards had Molly make a variety of quick sweets for Sarah but mostly for Grams.
Sarah sat in the club chair next to the warm fire. She began to wonder if it would be best to go back to Lady Wilcox’s to stay for a while. It was not right that Devon was to leave every night because of her. Sarah felt she had caused this family enough problems.
“A sweet treat for your thoughts my dear,” Grams said as she held out a sugar cookie in her hand.
Sarah shook her head and said, “No thank you.” She then turned her gaze back out the window. “I think it would be best if I return to Lady Wilcox for a visit.”
“Sarah I don’t want you to leave. I enjoy your company immensely my dear, you are as family to me Sarah.” Grams scooted closer to Sarah off the chair across from her. “Everything will work its self out.”Grams patted Sarah’s hand. “You will soon see.” She tried to smile at her.
“I would feel more comfortable to be honest with you Grams. I am sorry.”
Grams face fell. “Will you not still come to visit with me?”
Sarah smiled weakly at her, “Of course I will. I do not think I would be able to stay away from you even if forced too.” Sarah took Grams hand in hers. “You are family to me as well Grams. My only family now.”
“I will take you to Lady Wilcox’s myself, if you do not mind?” Grams then sat back and took a mini muffin off the silver platter from the side table next to her.
Her gaze fell back upon the window once more as Richards entered the room and asked Grams for a private word with her. Sarah had not wondered why. Her mind was on Devon and the horrible night’s events.
Brook and Devon began talking at the small kitchen table. She filled Devon in on what she knew of Sarah’s situation. It took Devon some time to convince her all the information was to help Sarah. Brook is a very loyal friend. She did not want to spread gossip or embarrass Sarah in any way with anything she was to tell him and Devon respected that.
Given the late hour, Brook had offered for Devon to take the remaining spare room to sleep in for the night. Devon had agreed and Brook retired to bed. Devon remained in the kitchen sitting at an old small wooden table in front of the fire.
Devon gazed into the flames as they shifted and moved wildly from the wind picking up outside. He suddenly felt exhausted. It had been a long day and an even longer night. He began to drift off into sleep at the table.
Devon saw Sarah standing in the middle of a field, just beyond the forest. She was wearing a white wedding gown that blew around her in the wind. Her hair was down and whipped in every direction in the gusts. She was staring at him as he rode towards her on a black stallion. Devon could see her bright green eyes glisten in the moon light as he approached her.
As he came up beside her on the horse, she turned from him and began to walk away. Devon dismounted and called to her. Sarah did not answer, she only gazed back and smiled. Devon followed her as she walked further into the field towards the other line of trees across from where they were.
He slowly walked behind her a few yards back. He was confused. Where was she going? Why would she not answer him?
Sarah drew closer to the tree line and gazed back at him again. She was breath taking in the wedding dress he though. Devon suddenly panicked at the thought of whom she was going to marry. Who had asked for her hand?
He called to her again through the strong hollowing of the wind. Sarah turned away and entered into the forest, disappearing in front of his very eyes. Devon for some reason did not want to go in after her. He stood in the spot where she had left him, staring into black emptiness.
Sarah called his name as she appeared in the line of trees in front of him. Devon asked where she was going. Sarah answered wherever her heart takes her. Devon asked her where that would be. Sarah walked toward him and told him to you.
Devon was shaking in his dream. She was asking him to love her. Sarah with a tear in her eye turned from him and began to run away.
He did not want her to leave. He was also scared to follow her. He watched her run away into the darkness. There was a frightful pain building up in his chest. Devon drew his hand up and placed it over his heart. He could feel it thumping rapidly. Sarah was gone and he screamed for her. It was a dreadful scream filled with desperation and regret.
Sarah did not answer and never reappeared. Devon fell to his knees and let out everything he had been holding in for her, for Benjamin, his father and grandfather. He needed her. He wanted her and now he was too late, she was gone.
“Devon, Devon wake up.”
Devon awoke as Brook was gently shaking him in the chair. He looked up and saw Brook’s expression.
“Are you alright Devon? You were screaming for Sarah.”
Devon felt the tears rolling down his cheeks. Brook handed him a dry cloth for his face. Devon wiped his face and shook his head.
Brook had poured him some water and handed it to him. Devon took it and sipped it.
“You are sweating. What were you dreaming about?” Brook went to the pail of water and submerged the cloth in it. She then handed it to him and sat down. “You sounded as if you were in a great deal of pain.”Brook then poured herself a small drink of water.
“I’m not sure. I was in a field and Sarah was there with me and I-” He stopped as it came rushing back to him. “I am not sure what it was about.
“My goodness Devon, you are turning pale. You are as white as a ghost is. Come with me and I will help you to bed.”
Brook did not wait for his response as she took his arm and nudged him to his feet. She led him to the spare room and pulled back the covers for him. His hands were shaking and he felt dizzy. Devon began to sway towards Brook.
She stood up straight after turning down the bed and turned to face him. All she saw was his pale face falling into her. Brook jumped off to the side as she let out a little yelp.
“Devon are you alright?” Brook asked.
He did not answer her. He was face down on the bed and sweating. Brook rolled his body over and began removing his coat. She then moved onto his boots. Brook stopped as she took off everything other than his breeches. She went to the kitchen and grabbed the cloth and water pail. Brook wiped him down and took his clothes to wash them.
As she left the room, she began to giggle to herself. Her bedchamber was right off the kitchen and she heard everything Devon was talking about in his sleep. She had not woken him until he had started to scream for Sarah. Brook heard enough of his dream to figure out he was heartbroken over Sarah. Whatever the dream was about, it had upset him enough to cause him to faint. Brook laughed again and thought who ever heard of a man fainting over loving a woman.
Sarah had gone up to bed hours ago and was still lying awake, staring out the window. The blue curtains from the window were gently blowing in and out of the window. She felt her tears begin to fall again. They began to form a wet spot on her pillow. Sarah wiped her tears and turned the pillow over.
She had decided to leave late morning after breakfast. She most likely would not eat but, if Grams was to escorting her, she could not deny Grams her appetite. Perhaps she would begin to feel better once she arrived at Lady Wilcox’s home. She did love spending time with her. Sarah felt for her as if she were an aunt. Lady Wilcox always made her feel welcome and at home.
Sarah watch the sun start to rise as the sky turned all shades of pink and purple. She loved those two colors. The birds were chirping their morning greetings to the world and Sarah let a small smile out.
Sarah whispered aloud, “Devon Price I deserve better.”