The Countess Chapter Eight

Christiana gasped with surprise when her husband jerked her upright, and then gasped again when his mouth covered hers. This was definitely an unexpected turn of events. The very last thing she would have expected. Dicky hadn't kissed her since the wedding ceremony, not even on their wedding night during the supposed consummation. And he certainly hadn't kissed her like this. This was . . . her toes curled against the wooden floorboards and a smal moan slid unbidden from her lips as his tongue slipped into her mouth and stirred up a wealth of sensation within her. Who would have imagined a simple kiss could be so arousing? Why had no one told her this? And why the devil hadn't he kissed her like this before?

Christiana was sure the last year would have been much less miserable had she had this to look forward to every night. That was as much thinking as Christiana's poor passion-stunned mind could handle, and those thoughts drifted away to float in the far reaches of her mind as she was consumed by the different points of pleasure suddenly springing to life inside her. This was like their earlier dance times a hundred when it came to excitement level. Her lips were tingling where they met his, her breasts were tingling where they pressed against him, and there was a strange hunger that seemed to be yawning inside her, urging her to stretch and arch her back in his arms. She was so distracted by these things that she hardly noticed when his hands began to move over her. They were simply an extension of the kiss, shivering up and then down her arms. When he moved one hand to press against her bottom through the lace of her gown, urging her tighter against the hardness nestled between them, she went with it, pressing herself as close as she could get and moaning again at the wel spring of reaction it caused in her nether regions. The feeling was so intense that she nearly rubbed herself against the hardness prodding her, but then was distracted by his other hand traveling to and squeezing one of her breasts. Christiana clutched at his bare shoulders as Richard kneaded the tender flesh, a long drawn-out groan sliding from deep in her throat that ended in a gasp as he suddenly wrenched the fragile bodice of her nightgown aside to touch her without its encumbrance.

"Oh, Dicky," she cried when he suddenly broke their kiss, and was surprised at how breathless she was.

"Cal me Richard," he muttered, dragging his mouth along her neck as he gently pinched the nipple he'd revealed.

"Oh Richard!" she cried dutiful y, fingernails digging into his shoulders. "Oh please."

"Yes," he muttered and suddenly his mouth was replacing his hand at her breast.

His lips closed around the nipple, tongue swirling across it briefly before he began suckling, drawing on it and pul ing little mewls of pleasure from her. Christiana was vaguely aware of his hand moving on her bottom, squeezing it and using his hold to rub her against his hardness as she'd wanted to do, but she was so overwhelmed with al the sensations attacking her that they were al melting into one raging storm of desire and a mil ion wants. She wanted him to kiss her again, but didn't want him to stop the lovely things he was doing to her breast to do it, and she wanted him to do the same to her other breast at the same time, and she wanted free of her nightgown so that she could feel him against her more ful y, and she wanted . . . she didn't know what, but she wanted something to end this sweet torture and yet didn't want it ever to end at the same time. Desperate to ease one of the wants raging inside her, Christiana raised one leg, half wrapping it around his hip in an effort to get closer to the hardness rubbing so excitingly against her. She then groaned with pleasure at the increased pressure. He was rubbing against the very center of her now, the cloth of her nightgown the only barrier and it only added to the pleasant friction. Richard groaned in response, the sound vibrating across the flesh of her breast.

He then raised his mouth to claim her lips once more. Christiana closed her eyes and kissed him back the best she could, opening for him and then instinctively sucking on his tongue as it invaded her. She felt his hands shifting their position on her, but grunted in surprise when he suddenly grasped her by the waist and lifted her. She instinctively wrapped her other leg around him then, holding on by hooking her ankles together behind his back as the room suddenly spun around them, a whirl of color, light and shadow.

Christiana was vaguely aware that he was carrying her across the room, but this new position opened her to the caress of his hardness and had her hardpressed to compose much in the way of thought. She was very disappointed when he paused after only two steps and set her careful y back on her feet.

"What - ?" she began uncertainly, but paused when Richard bent to untangle the knee breeches that she hadn't ful y removed and had gathered about his ankles.

Understanding struck her then, and her next thought was the strawberry. Leaning forward, she managed a quick peek before he shifted position and started to rise.

Christiana straightened at once, but she was pretty sure she'd seen a red mark on his behind. She had married Richard Fairgrave, the Earl of Radnor, not his brother.

He wasn't an imposter, which was a good thing since she was quite positive the marriage was about to be properly consummated. Now she just had to worry that it would be a bearable marriage bed she'd somehow made for herself in trying to spot the birthmark. Or she could flee the house right now, head to Robert to arrange for a doctor's exam and have the marriage annul ed, Christiana reminded herself. She was nibbling away at her lip, trying to decide what to do, when Richard finished with his task and straightened. A slow smile spread his lips when he saw what she was doing, and he suddenly cupped her face, his voice a husky growl as he said, "Every time I see you do that, it makes me want to nibble your lips too."

"It does?" she asked faintly.

"Mmm hmm," he murmured, proceeding to do just that.

Christiana's eyes drifted closed as he nipped and licked at the swol en flesh of her mouth, and then his lips moved to her ear and he nipped playful y at her lobe as he added, "Your lips and everything else."

"Everything?" she asked in a breathy voice.

"Everything," he assured her, one hand sliding down to press her nightgown between her thighs. Christiana moaned and trembled as he found the core of her through the cloth.

When his mouth suddenly covered hers again, she opened wil ingly to him, her kiss almost desperate as the tempo of his tongue thrusts matched the caress between her legs, both building an unbearable heat and pressure within her.

"I'l make this up to you," he gasped, suddenly breaking their kiss and removing his hand to lift her by the waist again. "I'l make everything up to you."

"Yes," Christiana breathed. Giving up any thought of annul ing the marriage and giving up this heat and passion, she wrapped her legs around him again. Her eyes closed and she dug her nails into his shoulders as he walked forward again and his hardness took up where his fingers had left off.

"I'l be a good husband. I'l make you happy," he assured her, his mouth trailing over her cheek to her ear.

"Oh, yes please," Christiana sighed and it was almost a prayer that it would be so, that her marriage would no longer be the misery it had been, and then he was suddenly easing her onto her back and coming down on top of her. Richard's hips settled in the cradle of her thighs and then he ground himself against her again, this time with al his weight behind it as he rotated his hips, pressed forward and rotated them again, rubbing himself from side to side atop her.

When he suddenly broke their kiss, Christiana opened her eyes, recognizing her room and that it was her bed they lay on, and then Richard distracted her by suddenly latching on to one breast again. Her gown had somehow slid back into place as they'd moved from one room to the other, but he didn't seem to notice, or perhaps he didn't care because he was licking and suckling through the lace and then blowing on the damp cloth and flesh, making her shiver as wave after wave of pleasure slid through her.

"Richard," she moaned, her legs moving restlessly against his in a sort of frustration. While he was stil lying on top of her, he was no longer grinding himself against the center of her and she wanted that building pressure again. But then Christiana felt a tickle along her knee and glanced down past his head to see that he had snaked one hand beneath the hem of her gown and was urging it up her legs, his fingers skating along her flesh as he went. She shivered and wiggled beneath him as his fingers ran along the inside of her thigh, moving higher and higher in a teasing caress. When his hand stopped just short of the core of her, which seemed to her to be screaming for his touch, she dug her fingernails into his back and shifted with frustration, a low groan rumbling in her throat.

Richard nipped lightly at the nipple he was ministering to then, but final y al owed his hand to move again, the rough pads of his fingers gliding across her skin.

"Oh God!" Christiana cried out when he final y brushed lightly over the center of her.

"Not God, Richard," he said in a teasing voice from her breast, surprising a laugh from her that ended in a gasp as he touched the core of her again, this time more firmly. Her hips bucked instinctively in invitation and reaction, and then Christiana became aware of his other hand tugging at the bodice of her gown.

Eager to help, she pul ed the gown off her shoulders and then shimmied a little to get the bodice off and push it down out of the way around her waist. Even as she did it, her hips were moving to a different rhythm, dancing under the caress of his fingers, but she stiffened in surprised confusion as she felt something pressing into her even as he continued to caress her.

"Richard?" she said uncertainly, not sure what he was doing.

His response was a soothing murmur as he raised his head to claim her lips once more and then his tongue was thrusting into her mouth in time with the invasion taking place below. The combination didn't so much soothe her worry as overwhelm it and she soon found herself responding to both caresses, kissing and sucking on his tongue as her heels dug into the bed and raised her hips into the other touch. Under this onslaught it was only a matter of moments before Christiana was a trembling mass of need, her body demanding more as she strained toward something she couldn't quite define or understand. And then in the next heartbeat she understood as her world rocked under an explosion of pleasure so intense her whole body vibrated with it.

Tearing her mouth from his, Christiana cried out and then turned her face into Richard's shoulder and bit down, holding on to him with everything she had for fear he'd leave her to drown in this swel of sensation. However, Richard held her as she rode the waves, and only once the worst of her trembling passed, eased from her embrace.

Spent and lethargic, she opened her eyes to see what he was doing and then gasped in surprise when he reached for her nightgown and quickly tugged it gently from where it had pooled around her waist and hips, removing it from her completely.

Christiana felt herself blush, but raised her hips to al ow the material to be removed. He tossed the material aside and then rejoined her in the bed, climbing between her legs and urging them wider apart as he crawled up her body.

Richard stopped to press a kiss to the curve of one hip along the way and Christiana sighed as the gentle caress caused a tingling to erupt there and spread outward. He then moved further up, pausing to press a kiss to her bel y that sent it jumping and rippling with growing excitement. He next took first one nipple into his mouth for a quick suckle and swirl with his tongue before turning his attention to the other to do the same. By this time Christiana was breathing heavily again, the relaxed satiation of moments ago forgotten and she curled her fingers in his dark, silky hair and tugged lightly. As delightful as what he was doing was, she suddenly wanted Richard's mouth on hers again. He answered the silent demand, shifting further up her body until his hips rested between her thighs and he could reach her mouth with his. She felt his hips shift and his hardness rub across her core as he claimed her lips in a kiss, and responded by groaning into his mouth and raising her knees again to tilt herself into the caress. Richard chuckled at her eager response, and then nipped her lower lip lightly as he rubbed against her again. Christiana sucked almost desperately at his tongue to keep him from withdrawing it again, however he did, easing it out, only to thrust it back in, this time plunging his manhood into her at the same time.

At least Christiana thought that was what he'd done. She was now ful to bursting, her body straining around something much larger than what had invaded her earlier and the only thing she could think was that the very large appendage that had fal en out of his breeches when she'd opened them was now planted firmly inside her.

While Christiana had been ignorant of what exactly the consummation was, she was smart enough to figure out this was it. And she wasn't at al sure she liked it.

However, while his tongue withdrew from her mouth, he stayed planted firmly inside her and merely lifted his head to get out in a choked gasp,

"You're a virgin."

Christiana peered up at him blankly, wondering at his surprise since they definitely hadn't done this on their wedding night. But then she recal ed that he'd had a good deal to drink at the wedding celebrations and it suddenly occurred to her that he might not even be aware that he had never properly consummated the marriage.

Clearing her throat, she pointed out gently, "I was a virgin."

Richard groaned and dropped his face into her neck.

Thinking he was feeling unmanned by the news that he had not consummated the wedding as he'd apparently thought, she patted his back soothingly.

"You were quite drunk on our wedding night. I am sure you would have consummated it otherwise."

"I'm sorry," he muttered into her throat. "Had I known I would have gone more slowly, taken more time to better prepare you."

Christiana wasn't sure what he meant by better prepare her, but didn't say so.

She simply lay there and patted him again. However, now that the excitement that had possessed her for the past several minutes was fading, she was having second thoughts about what she'd done. And what she was doing. Dear God, she was soothing the man who had made her life so miserable for the last year. Worse than that, she'd actual y consummated the marriage. It could not be annul ed. What had she been thinking? Unfortunately, she suspected she hadn't real y been thinking at al , at least not clearly. She wanted to blame it on the spirits she'd had to drink, but Christiana had felt pretty clearheaded when debating what to do while he was removing his breeches and suspected she hadn't been as affected by the drinks as she'd thought. She'd been more affected by his kisses and caresses. Of course, she hadn't known then that the end would be so disappointing. Real y the first part had been lovely, but this last bit rather spoiled the rest.

Sighing, she stopped patting his back, and tried to decide what to do now. Surely it was over? Should he not get off her and leave her to sleep? If she was able to sleep, Christiana thought with a grimace. Rather than sleep she would probably lie here fretting about what she was to say to Robert when next she saw him. Perhaps she could just leave out the bit about the marriage no longer being annul able, and simply say she had decided to uphold her vow, and yes, he has the birthmark. She had seen it. Wel , at least she'd managed a glimpse of a somewhat red spot on his behind anyway. It was probably the birthmark.

Christiana frowned, suddenly worried that it might not have been. It had been a brief glimpse and she couldn't say for sure it was a strawberry-shaped birthmark she'd seen. She supposed it could have been a red mark caused by his leaning on the windowsil as she'd disrobed him. That thought made her frown and she raised her head to try to peer along his back to see if she could see his behind, but of course she couldn't. Her wiggling about in an effort to do so, however, roused Richard. It also had the rather startling effect of resurrecting some of her own passion that she'd thought gone.

Christiana was trying to ignore that, but Richard just made it worse by shifting slightly against her as he raised his head to peer down into her face.

"I am sorry," he said solemnly. "You deserved so much better than what you've had this last year."

Richard sounded incredibly sincere and Christiana looked into his eyes and did not see the cold emptiness she'd become used to. Instead, she again saw the warm concern and sympathy she'd seen in him at the bal . The combination brought the unexpected sting of tears to her eyes. She closed them quickly and turned her head away, swal owing a sudden lump in her throat as wel , and then Richard pressed a gentle kiss to each of her closed eyes, the tip of her nose and then final y to her closed lips.

Christiana remained stil for a moment under the caress, but then turned her face back and let her lips drift open, inviting him to deepen the kiss. She wanted to experience the passion again, she wanted to forget if only for tonight how miserable he had made her this last year and pretend for a few hours at least that she'd gained the happy ever after that she'd wanted.

Much to her relief, Richard did deepen the kiss, he also began to move, withdrawing from her and then easing back in. At first he was gentle, giving her body the chance to adjust, but then he slid a hand between them and began to caress her again, reinvigorating her already awakening passions until she was again the trembling mass of hunger she had been earlier. Once he'd achieved that, his gentleness gave way to a more vigorous tempo as they both strained for the release she'd just experienced moments ago. This time when Christiana found it, Richard joined her, and they shouted out their pleasure together.

Richard stared at the drapes over the bed, his mind replaying what had just happened. He had kissed Christiana, partial y to silence her, and partial y because he just couldn't resist doing it. He was only human after al and her unintentional caresses as she'd stripped off his clothes had been rather arousing. Once he'd kissed her, however, that hadn't been enough. He'd been like a house on fire, the flames raging through his body and ravaging his good sense. His only moment of clear thought had been when he'd set her on her feet and bent to finish removing the breeches she'd undone. He had almost put an end to things then and sent her back to her room. However, by then, Richard had wanted her with a passion he hadn't enjoyed even during his first experience as a cal ow youth. By the time he'd straightened, he'd concluded that if the only way to have her was to uphold the marriage George had initiated in his stead then so be it. It would protect al three women from scandal and he'd have a very passionate partner in his marriage bed. It was more than some men enjoyed.

Richard hadn't expected her to be a virgin, however. Bedding an experienced woman who thought she was your wife and whom you intended to al ow to continue to believe that was one thing, slightly inebriated or not. But her virginity had put a whole new slant on things. It meant she'd had a choice. The marriage could have been annul ed and probably with a minimum of scandal for her, since as the man he would be the one thought lacking for not bedding her this last year. But he'd taken that choice away with his actions.

Christiana murmured sleepily and shifted slightly where she lay snuggled half on his chest. It was where he'd put her after finding a cloth and water to clean them both after their exertions, an action that had seemed to embarrass and subdue her, which he found rather charming after what they'd just done. Richard peered down at her with a little sigh. He may not have thought her attractive on first sight, but once she'd got that bug-eyed horrified look off her face she'd been attractive enough, stil too thin for his taste, but passable. And when she'd smiled and laughed with Langley and the others as they danced, she'd been more than passable. But she'd been downright irresistible on her knees with his manhood waving in her face, he thought dryly and knew it was that very manhood that had thought so.

Stil , looking at her now, her face softened in sleep, Richard acknowledged that Christiana was an attractive woman, adorable even, and he was briefly tempted to rouse her with soft caresses and kisses and take her again. However, there was the little matter of a dead George in the carriage outside his townhouse.

The thought made him grimace and ease out from beneath the woman who would now definitely remain his wife. Christiana stirred and murmured sleepily, her hand drifting down to his hip as Richard shifted, and then sliding across his groin in an unconscious caress as he slid out of the bed. The touch was enough to bring his manhood back to life and he had to grit his teeth against the temptation to simply crawl back into bed and forget about George. But that just wouldn't be a smart thing.

His clothes were stil in the master bedroom and Richard made his way silently through the connecting door, grateful for the light cast by the dying fire to guide his way. He found the clothes by the window and started to draw them on, but paused as a glance out the window showed an empty street. Daniel's carriage was gone.

Shifting his feet, Richard frowned, wondering why the man hadn't come in search of him, or at least waited for him to meet him by the carriage. He then worried over what Daniel would do with the body and briefly considered fol owing in his own carriage to find out, but that would mean rousing the servants and waiting while a carriage was prepared, and real y he had no idea where Daniel would take his brother. He wasn't likely to take him to his own townhouse, which meant he would go somewhere else and Richard had no idea where. He could head to Daniel's townhouse and wait to find out, but depending on where Woodrow took the body, he could be waiting for hours. It just seemed better to let the matter go until the morrow. He would go see Daniel first thing and find what he'd done with George, Richard decided.

Satisfied that this was definitely the smartest course of action and that a naked soft and warm woman in the bed in the next room had nothing to do with the decision, Richard dropped his clothes and slid back through the connecting door to Christiana's room. He moved to the side of the bed and peered down at her briefly, noting the way the fire cast light and shadow across her face in slumber, and then she sighed sleepily and rol ed onto her back, the bed coverings sliding down off her breasts.

Richard stared at the pale globes briefly, unconsciously licking his lips, and then bent down to catch the edge of the bed coverings and draw them slowly down her body, revealing inch after pale inch of flesh. She was too thin and he would have to see about fattening her up, he decided, but she was stil mouthwatering and he found himself climbing onto the bed intent on tasting to see if she was as delicious as she looked. Christiana woke slowly, her body stretching and smal mewling moans slipping from her lips before she was even conscious of what was causing them. Al she was aware of at first was the pleasure coursing through her body, originating somewhere in her nether regions and sliding out to al points. Groaning aloud now as she came ful y awake, she found herself stretching again, her body arching on the bed and hands reaching blindly for Richard because surely he must be the source, for it was only with him she'd experienced this sweet torture before. It took her a moment to find him, however; the man was not directly atop her as expected and she had to open her eyes before she saw that he was further down her body. It took another moment for her mind to accept what he was doing. The man was not caressing her with his hands or his hardness as he had before, instead it was his head buried between her legs and while she wasn't quite sure what he was doing, it was delicious.

Stil , it was also rather embarrassing. The man had his face buried between her legs as if searching for treasure. No one had ever even seen that part of her let alone at such close proximity and it just didn't seem ladylike to recline there while a man examined her quite so thoroughly. Biting her lip, she reached for him, intending to urge him away, but her hands never made it to his head. Instead, they stopped and grabbed for the bedsheets to hang on as something, his tongue she thought, rasped over the center of her excitement. The shock of it had her hips bucking off the bed and a smal "ieeee" of startled pleasure slipping from her lips.

Richard chuckled softly at her reaction, the sound vibrating across her tender flesh and sending her scrabbling in an effort to escape the undignified and yet frighteningly exciting whatever it was he was doing. He didn't al ow her escape however, but merely caught her thighs in his strong hands, urged them further apart and redoubled his efforts.

"No - Rich - Oh - " The words came out broken and gaspy as Christiana col apsed back on the bed and twisted her head, her fingers pul ing at the sheets so violently she feared she would rip them. That fear wasn't enough to stop her tugging, however, as he did things to her Christiana had never even imagined.

Did al husbands do this? Was this what the marriage bed consisted of? Dear God, she'd been missing out on so much, Christiana thought dazedly, finding herself alternately grinding herself into his caress and stil struggling to escape it. The depth of passion he was pul ing from her was almost terrifying this time, perhaps because she didn't have him to hold on to in this position and as much as her body responded, her mind was looking for an anchor in the storm.

There was no anchor to be had, however, and when he slid a finger inside her to join his tongue's caresses, Christiana screeched and bucked like a wild thing, her body suddenly exploding as wave after hard wave of pleasure tried to pul her under. Much to her relief, Richard moved up her body after that, crawling to cover her.

Christiana immediately wrapped her arms around him, holding on for dear life as her body shivered and quaked beneath his. She groaned and held on even tighter when she felt him enter her, her legs instinctively wrapping around his hips, and her heels digging into his behind to urge him on as he began to build a new fire in her even before the last waves of the first had died. Spent as she was, al Christiana could manage at the start was to cling to him like seaweed, but as her excitement built anew, some of her energy returned and she began to move with him, shifting her hips to meet his thrusts, taking him as deep as she could manage.

While Christiana had been whol y uncertain she liked this part of the consummation when he'd entered her the first time, she now reveled in it, enjoying the way their bodies joined, how he fil ed her, how her body clung to him, trying to prevent his escape and then welcoming him back at each return. She thought they should do this al night and kept thinking that right up until they both found their release again, and even as she drifted off to sleep once more, satiated, spent and smiling.

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