I stared at John once the spy was gone, attempting to suppress the desire for him that had bloomed within me when he had threatened the man.
Like to like, I thought, my focus falling to his lips. Much as my quasi-serious plans for Aberdine’s demise had stirred my husband’s lust during our carriage ride, this display of his savagery had likewise lit a fire within me.
What complicated matters was the fact that throughout the conversation, he’d remained so intensely self-contained, the anger he hid causing barely a ripple to disturb the surface calm. It made me want to drive him mad. Nothing but his total and absolute undoing would satisfy the emotion that now swelled within me; a feeling that I feared was more akin to bloodlust than arousal.
In my mind, I heard a haunting melody, the ghost of the one Jane had played earlier.
Again, I wanted the ferocity it promised, craved something uncontrolled and unstructured, inadvisable yet unavoidable.
As I stared at my husband’s lips, I contemplated where this rising need for such destruction had come from. We couldn’t afford to be swept up by passion or emotion given recent events, and the fact that I was yearning to be carried away by them frightened me.
I had never been a thrill seeker. My youth had cured me of any inborn wildness. The danger of our liaisons being discovered didn’t excite me as it might others, and the risk of it didn’t set my heart aflutter. So where was this coming from?
It took me a long moment to work the problem out, but once I had, it seemed quite obvious, and I felt foolish for not recognizing it for what it was immediately.
My entire life was made up of rigid structure. I worked to constantly keep my emotions in check, guard my words, school my facial expressions. I had to remain in control at all times, and it was wearing me thin. There was no outlet or hobby for me to lose myself in; I wasn’t artistic, I had no ear for music, and I detested needlework. Yes, I enjoyed reading, but books only served as a temporary diversion, for they required very little on my part. The moment I left those stories to re-enter the real world, my frustrations returned, which was why I read voraciously: to distract myself.
I needed to lose control. No, I needed to cede control. To surrender myself to something or someone. I needed to free my mind from its fetters, to be helpless without feeling unsafe, to allow myself to feel, to want, to…
I needed this. Them. John and Henry. The safety I found in Henry’s arms, the way his gentle yet insistent nature made me feel as though I could give everything over to him and he would shelter and protect me. The way John drove me to near lunacy. The unknown of what might happen when he finally set his mask aside.
I wanted them to love me with the same emergent fierceness that I loved them.
“Katherine,” John said.
I blinked, coming back to myself, realizing that all this time I had been staring at him while such thoughts filled my mind. I’d done nothing to control my expressions. Perhaps that was why John stared back at me so intensely. He was a better read of me than I was him; I had no doubt that he had seen and understood each emotion as it flitted across my features.
“I’m still angry with you,” I told him.
“I understand,” he said.
“But I need…” I said, unable to voice exactly what.
“Can we truly be so alike, I wonder?” John said, a touch of surprise just barely visible in his expression. His gaze slid from me to his lover.
Henry shifted beside me, and I turned to stare up at him. That bottomless look was back in his eyes. The less safe, less polite part of himself. The inexplicable thing that had caused McNaught to pause at the door after John’s threat and look over at Henry with a hint of unease. As though he thought the man truly capable of such violence.
The air between us became charged then, heavy and dense like it did before a thunderstorm.
“Yes, I believe you truly are that alike. At least in this regard,” Henry said. Then, to me, “Do you trust me, Kit?”
“Yes,” I said, the word falling from my lips unbidden. It wasn’t until I spoke it that I realized it was true.
“Tell me to stop if you want me to,” he said, pulling me onto his lap.
I shook my head in response. No, I didn’t want him to stop. Ever.
He shifted me then, so that my back pressed against his chest. “Lock the door, John.”
I thought John would protest then. Be the voice of reason. Say no. That whatever was about to happen, couldn’t. Not now. But he surprised me by pushing gracefully up from his chair and did as he was bade. He didn’t immediately retake his seat. Instead, he returned to stand near it, waiting.
“You may sit there,” Henry told him. “But you are to watch only. I’m still angry with you, too.”
John, with an unfathomable expression on his face, turned my surprise into outright shock by retaking his seat without a word of defiance. As though…as though he’d given over all control of his actions to his lover.
“Spread your legs, Kit,” Henry said, softly, so that his deep voice wouldn’t carry. “Place your knees on either side of mine.”
My pulse pounding, I did as I was told, a thrill of boldness shooting through me. I didn’t even consider disobeying, and I felt not even a sliver of embarrassment about that or a shard of self-consciousness. Was this what John had meant? Is this the way that we were alike? This need to give ourselves up to someone else? The resulting euphoria I felt as his lover’s will dominated my own?
Henry curled his fingers around my hips. “Are you bruised here?” he asked.
“No,” I breathed.
He used his grip to pull me backward toward him, closer, so that we had contact from shoulder to thigh, before he released me to gently lift my left hand to his lips.
I turned to watch from inches away as he placed the softest kisses imaginable over the bruises that peeked out from beneath my bandaged knuckles.
“I’m so sorry he did this to you,” he murmured into my skin.
It felt as though a string inside of me finally snapped under pressure. Tears stung my eyes, all of my anger and fear and frustration finally finding an outlet.
“I would never hurt you, Kit,” Henry said, lifting away a little, so that the heat of his breath alighted on my hand. “Do you understand?” He turned his head toward me, his brown eyes in shadow, darker because of the wide expanse of pupil that crowded out his irises.
I nodded at him in answer.
His eyes crinkled up at the edges as he smiled. He released my hand to reach forward and cup my face, his thumb wiping away my tears. In my heightened state of awareness, his calluses scraped deliciously across my cheek. Our mouths were so close that a deep breath might seal them, and though I longed to close the distance between us, I held myself still, waiting, with baited breath, for him to make the move.
The edge of his lips curled up, the same dark, Not Safe for Public smile from our carriage ride reappearing, as though he knew what I wanted and took pleasure from withholding it. “Will it hurt you to put your arms up and around my neck?” he asked.
I had no idea, so I lifted them up and backward, clasping my hands behind his neck to keep them in place. It stretched me out, forced my back to arch slightly, made me aware of the soreness along my left side, but no, it didn’t hurt.
“This is fine,” I told him.
“Good. Keep them there. Don’t move them until I tell you to. Do you understand?”
I nodded in response.
“Do you think you can be quiet, Kit?” he asked, shifting his hand from my cheek to my jaw, turning my head with gentle pressure so that he could drop a kiss onto the side of my neck.
“Quiet?” I asked, shivering in response.
“When you climax,” he rumbled.
He’d turned me so that I was staring at my husband when he answered. John’s gaze, which had been trained onto the point where Henry’s lips touched my neck, snapped to my own just as the resulting blast of lust seared through me. I was helpless to hide it, and wouldn’t have even if I could, because the intensity of John’s focus only served to further inflame me.
“Yes?” I told Henry, unsure.
His lips remained on my neck as he chuckled, our contact sending his laughter vibrating through me.
The fingers holding my chin in place released me then. His other hand lifted from my hip. He placed them both on the tops of my thighs and slid them toward my knees, where he stopped to bunch the fabric of my skirts in his fists, pulling the hem of my dress slowly back up over my legs.
John’s focus fell to watch its progress, and I stared at his face, drinking down the darkening of his expression as inch after inch of my bright blue stockings were exposed. I was suddenly glad he was there, forced to stare at us while Henry and I shared this intimacy. I told myself it was because he deserved such banishment after all his lies, but if I were being honest with myself, the thought of him watching from so close and keeping himself there only because his lover had ordered him to drove me slightly wild.
Henry paused in his progress when the fabric of my dress crested my knees to expose the garters that were tied tightly around my lower thighs, holding my stockings up.
“Those pink bows are adorable,” Henry whispered into my ear. He dropped his mouth a fraction and nipped at my earlobe, just hard enough to pinch. “I want to untie them with my teeth,” he said.
I was worried then, that I wouldn’t be able to remain quiet, because the feeling of those teeth on me combined with the image of him doing what he wanted nearly caused me to moan aloud.
Across from us, John shifted in his seat, his hand falling to adjust his manhood, which had pressed his trousers up in a way that couldn’t be ignored. Beneath me, there was a similar stirring in Henry. My thoughts flashed back to the three of us, here, on this couch, and the way I had felt between the two of them.
“Lean back, Kit,” Henry said.
I did as he told me, wondering when it was that I had moved forward, toward John.
He pulled my skirts the rest of the way up, sliding an arm low around my waist to hold them in place with one large fist. The other hand went to the band of exposed skin between the top of my garters and the bottom of my undergarments. I looked away from John then, to watch his long, deft fingers slowly trace their way upward.
“Spread your legs wider,” he told me.
I immediately complied, my core aching now with the need to be stroked. He was taking his slow, torturous time, tormenting me with wave after wave of anticipatory pleasure. My impatience almost got the better of me then, almost caused me to slide my hips forward and meet his hand halfway.
Finally, he reached the edge of my undergarments.
My breathing staggered to a stop as he slid the tips of his fingers beneath the hem and traced its line from the top of my leg all the way to my inner thigh. I lifted my gaze from it to see John staring at us like a drowning man might look upon the shore. Seeing his expression did nothing but heighten my arousal, and when I felt the first brush of Henry’s fingers over the fabric that covered the apex of my thighs, I had to bite my lip to keep from crying out.
John must have seen the struggle play out over my features, for he raised a finger to his mouth. “Shhhh,” he cautioned, his smile downright sinful. Then his gaze shifted slightly to my left, no doubt meeting Henry’s. “May I touch myself?” he asked.
“No,” Henry said, the word clipped.
John’s smile only widened.
Henry’s fingers grazed over my sex again, teasingly, and my breath hitched. Abruptly, his hand was gone. I was momentarily bereft at the loss, but the feeling was crushed under a wave of anticipation when he slid his fingers along the bottom of my corset and then down into the top band of my drawers.
There was nothing between us now, no barrier to buffer the feeling of his calluses sliding over the delicate skin of my lower belly, gliding into the soft curls that surrounded my most intimate parts. Where before he had taken his time, now he pressed onward, charging downward until his fingers slid over the bundle of nerves that would lead to release and stopping only when he reached the wetness that marked my desire.
“She’s soaked, John,” he said, just loud enough for his words to carry.
John covered his mouth with his hand to stifle his low groan, his gaze fixated between my legs, where Henry’s hand and what he was doing to me was obscured by the thin, white cotton of my undergarments. Slowly, Henry slid his fingers back up, parting my folds, slicking through my arousal to circle one digit over the most sensitive part of me.
I locked my jaw and drew a ragged breath in. My breasts suddenly felt heavy and full within my corset, my nipples uncomfortably peaked, in need of attention. I wanted to drop my hands from Henry’s neck and ply them with my palms, but he hadn’t told me I could let go yet, and the lack of that command only made me more aware of how much power I had given him over me. How at his mercy I was.
And yet, I had no doubt that if I only whispered the word, “Wait,” he would stop, immediately, which made me feel as though I might have the real power here. This realization heightened my arousal to an almost painful point.
I was on the cusp of begging when his fingers slipped back down again, toward my opening, teasing me once by pressing over it, gathering more slickness to drag back upward. I wanted to close my eyes in relief and revel in the sensation, but the sight of John’s face across from us was something I wanted far more. Gone was his mask. Gone was all trace of artifice. The real him stared out from his eyes as he watched us with a ravenous expression that stole my breath away.
Henry’s hand slid down again. His palm flattened over that sensitive bundle of nerves as the tip of one finger paused over my opening and then slowly, gently pressed in. My head fell back against his shoulder in pleasure, my eyes lidded as I watched John watching us.
“She’s so tight, John,” Henry said.
John’s fingers curled around the arms of his chair, as though only his grip were keeping him in place. His jaw strained as he clenched it, nostrils flaring and chest heaving as he drew down lungfuls of air.
Henry’s finger slid further into me, dragging his palm across my desire. My sex clenched around him, and I couldn’t help but slide my hips forward, pressing myself harder into his hand.
“Do that again,” Henry told me.
I rocked my hips backward, framing his erection with my buttocks before thrusting forward again.
Across from us, the chair creaked as John’s knuckles turned white.
“Kiss me, Kit,” Henry said.
I had to arch even further back to do so, craning my head around so that I could press my lips against his. My left side protested the movement, but somehow the sting of soreness only added to my pleasure.
Henry’s mouth was insistent on mine, immediately seeking greater access. I opened my lips and let him in, and as his tongue slid against my own just as his finger slid further into me. There was no stopping my moan of pleasure then, but Henry’s mouth captured the sound and swallowed it down greedily.
He slaved the movements of his mouth and his hand together, so that as his tongue brushed against mine, his finger followed the movement, out, and then deliciously back in. Soon he began a slow, unrelenting rhythm. My muscles clenched around him in reaction, only serving to pull him deeper.
John made a strangled sound from across from us. Henry increased his pace in response, driving me higher, up toward the precipice of pleasure. His lips plundered my mouth while his finger drove into me.
Yes, this was what I wanted, this reckless desire, this all-consuming mixture of lust and need and longing. This intoxicating chase of release.
My hips quickly caught Henry’s tempo and matched it, so that as he pushed his finger into me, I surged down to meet it. His palm remained fixed to my clitoris, so that I ground into it with every thrust.
I broke our kiss, panting. “Henry,” I said, my tone pleading.
“She’s going to come, John,” he said.
“I can see that,” he ground out. He sounded furious.
I turned to look at him, and yes, there was fury on his features, but not the fury of anger; the fury of lust.
“Oh, God,” I moaned, to see such an expression.
I was close. So close to the edge now.
“Come for me, Kit,” Henry purred into my ear.
His words undid me. I tipped my head back, closed my eyes, and gave myself over to the pleasure, my mind shutting down as my body came to life around his fingers. They slid in and out of me more easily now, slick from my wetness. With every thrust my inner muscles pulsed tighter and tighter, each clench more pleasurable than the last.
My desire built to a crescendo, gathering at my core like spring coiled too tightly. Suddenly the pressure burst, blinding light shooting beneath my closed lids as release tore through me.
Half-mad with ecstasy, my hips lost the rhythm as I arched backward into Henry and locked my jaw shut to keep from crying out as his hand wrung every last bit of pleasure from my body.
His finger slowed only as I came back to myself, stilling entirely when I collapsed back against him in exhaustion. Gently, he pulled it out of me, careful to keep his hand curled inward as he removed it from my undergarments.
“You can put your arms now, Kitten,” he said.
I unlatched my hands and sank even further into him. One of his long arms came around me to pull me closer and just to the side, so that I had an uninterrupted view of his profile as he, his gazed locked on John’s, put the finger that had just been inside me into his mouth and sucked it.
“Christ,” John growled.
Henry’s gaze came back to mine. “You taste incredible,” he said.
My lips popped open in surprise, lust already beginning to stir back to life within me.
“I believe we’re even now,” John said, his voice hoarse.
“Not even close,” Henry answered, his tone unforgiving.
Copyright © 2018 by Navessa Allen
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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