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Monday Puzzler > Feb. 28, A Most Interesting Breakfast

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message 1: by Manda (last edited Feb 27, 2011 02:31PM) (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1880 comments Mod
Hero and Heroine were eating breakfast. At least, it had started out that way. Somewhere along the line, it had shifted into Hero watching Heroine eat breakfast. She ate a good deal, but very neatly. She cut everything up into ladylike bites, chewed slowly, and washed it all down with ladylike sips of tea. It was refined, sensible, and a little too careful, like everything about her. Just now she was spreading a thin layer of jam on her toast, with an adorable frown of concentration.

“Are you going to cut your toast into tiny pieces too?” he teased.

She flushed. “Of course not. Whoever heard of cutting up toast?”

“I just wondered.”

She looked away. “When my parents sent me to finishing school, the girls made fun of me for how I ate. I suppose I overcompensated.”

Hero felt guilty suddenly, and angry. “Wretched cats. You ought to have eaten with your elbows on the table and your fingers in the food. That would have shown them.”

“Perhaps, but it wouldn’t have been very attractive.”

“Who cares?”

“I rather think you would. You’ll have to sit across the breakfast table from me for the rest of your life.”

A life sentence. Heroine only, always, forever. Hero thought of all the times he had eaten breakfast with Amy. They would rise late and make their way to the breakfast room, and Amy’s cook would make them buttered eggs and crumpets. Amy hadn’t had good table manners—she ate quickly and used her fingers sometimes. But Hero hadn’t minded; it just meant he could eat as messily as he wanted too. They would always laugh and talk and read each other things from the morning paper, and sometimes he would feed her strawberries. Of course, he and Amy would have just risen from a night of lovemaking. He and Heroine hadn’t even kissed since his proposal.

Heroine began to take a bite of her toast, then pushed it away, with a blush and a little laugh. “I can’t eat it now, you’ve made me embarrassed!”

Hero wondered if he would ever know the right thing to say again.

“I suppose I’ll have more tea.” She poured herself a cup and reached for the jar of honey. But as she opened it, she glanced up at Hero. She fumbled with the spoon, and honey flew all over her fingers.

Hero stared at the sticky molten gold sliding down his wife’s ink-stained fingers.

Heroine saw his fixed look and misinterpreted it.

“Don’t look at me like that! I know I’m hopeless!”

“That’s not it,” Hero said with utmost sincerity.

“That…looks like it tastes good.”

“Well, it’s wasted now. Unless you want to lick it off?” She spoke sarcastically, as if she were proposing an obviously implausible alternative.

“Of course I want to lick it off. But I said I wouldn’t touch you till we knew each other better, and—”

Heroine looked at him in perplexity, then laughed. “A few weeks of celibacy, and this is what men descend to!”

“It’s not that,” Hero told her with sudden conviction. “It’s you. You’re driving me mad. Just watching you eat breakfast is enough to make me want to—”

“Really?” A mischievous light came into Heroine’s eyes, and she raised her honey-spattered fingers to her mouth. She sucked lightly on her index finger, then withdrew it, letting her mouth drag open. Then she licked a drop of honey off her lip.

She was teasing him, he realized—to her, this was no different than the tickling or the fighting over that absurd list. It was only a game. She felt nothing.

Hero’s eyes narrowed. He was fairly sure he could do something about that.

He rose from his seat and bent over her, one hand flat on the table. Grasping her wrist, he pulled her honeyed hand toward him; she only resisted for a moment. He took the same finger into his mouth and sucked it gently. Heroine’s eyes widened. He slowly pulled the finger in and out of his mouth and watched her eyes glaze over. He moved on to the next finger, and the next. Then he kissed her.

She gave a startled gasp and let him. He began gently, coaxingly, and she melted like honey, her mouth soft and pliant beneath his. He nipped at her lower lip, and when he teased with his tongue her mouth opened under his. She did not know what to do, that was clear, but she followed his lead willingly enough, sending her tongue forth to touch his lightly.

Hero was disarmed by the utter honesty of her response. She had never done this before; she wasn’t letting him kiss her because she wanted anything from him. She was his, his to teach. She had never known passion, he was sure of it. Hero could scarcely wait to show it to her.

His hand still around her wrist, he drew her out of her seat and set her on the edge of the table, the teapot and the rolls forgotten beside her. When he stepped between her legs, she murmured a little in satisfaction, and he felt it everywhere.

He pulled her closer, pressing his erection against her heat. There were too damn many layers of black fabric in the way, but he ran his hands up along the bones of her corset and closed one hand over her breast. She sighed and relaxed as though she had been waiting for it—but only for a moment. When he brushed a thumb over her nipple, she tensed like a bowstring. He drew back to watch her. She kept her eyes closed, but her whole body was waiting—it was as if she were listening very carefully for the opening strains of an overture. Her face was flushed, and her hair was coming down, and she seemed aware of nothing but his hands. He drew a finger across her nipple again, watching, mesmerized, as her breath came faster. She made no sound—it was as if she did not know how to react to pleasure. He squeezed her breast, and she shifted restlessly. Hero groaned in pleasure and frustration at the friction against his cock.

She shivered at the sound, pressing up against him. Hero pushed back, and she opened her thighs wider and took a shuddering breath—

“I’m just up from town, Hero. I told Hathick there was no need to announce me, I—oh!”

He turned around, sure this was all a horrid dream, but it wasn’t. His mother was standing there, immaculate, her golden hair piled on her head.

He stepped frantically in front of Heroine. “God damn it, Mother, do you never knock?”

“Hero! Such language! You ought to know better how to behave to a lady! I saw no need to knock. I am sure it never occurred to me that you would be mauling your wife at breakfast as if she were a common trollop.” His mother sniffed, and for one furious, unfilial moment Hero would have liked to break her neck.

Heroine was tugging her skirts into place, bright red all over. Her eyes were open and full of horror.

“Go and wait in the parlor, Mother. I’ll be out in a moment.”

“You’re going to make your mother wait in the parlor?” Lady Bedlow asked. “I’ve had nothing to eat, and—”

“Go,” Hero said, with a firmness that surprised him. It surprised him even more when his mother actually left the room in a huff.

He turned. Heroine had mostly righted her clothes, and her hair was back in place, but she looked utterly wretched. His mother was right; he had no notion of how to behave to a lady. He had let his desire overcome what little sense he had, and he had exposed Heroine to ridicule. Of course one could not treat one’s wife as one might treat one’s mistress. No matter how enticing she was or how much honey she spilled on her fingers.

“I’m so sorry,” he said. “I should have been more careful.”

She shook her head. “I ought not to have allowed it, I know that very well. I suppose she is right. I am common at heart. I must be.”

“You are uncommon generous. She shouldn’t have said that. I really am sorry—this hasn’t been a good time for her.” Lady Bedlow had never stood up well to strain. When seven-year-old Hero had broken his nose falling out of a tree and, frightened by the amount of blood, had gone crying to his mother, she’d fainted dead away. You couldn’t blame her; she couldn’t help it. It had been Lord Bedlow who had stanched the bleeding and called the doctor, he remembered; and who had told him, not unkindly, that a gentleman didn’t cry, no matter how bad the pain. For a moment he missed his father.

Heroine’s eyes filled with sympathy. Thinking of someone else seemed to ease her discomfort. She smoothed her skirts, straightened, looked competent and reassuring again. Heroine, Hero thought, was naturally responsible. “Of course it hasn’t, poor lady. I promise you, I shan’t regard it in the least. Go on.” She smiled. “And please, tell her anything she wishes to take to the Dower House is hers.”

“You’re too good to me,” Hero said, and meant it.

She looked down and blushed. She was so easy to please. Hero wished his mother at Jericho.

message 2: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
I loved this book! I think you recommended it, Manda. I'm looking forward to her new one in June.

message 3: by Kasey (new)

Kasey | 560 comments Mod
I don't think I have read it, but parts of it seem vaguely familiar.

message 4: by Melany (new)

Melany (azingirlygirl) | 49 comments this is something i definitely have to read!!! :]

message 5: by Okie (new)

Okie (okieb) | 2038 comments Mod
I haven't read this one.

message 6: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1880 comments Mod
This was one of my favorites of last year:) I'm looking forward to the next one too, Janga!

message 7: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2060 comments Mod
It was definitely one of my favorites . I was just rereading it.

message 8: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1880 comments Mod
It's In for a Penny by Rose Lerner.

message 9: by Monica (new)

Monica | 548 comments Mod
I haven't read it, but it sounds GREAT!!! I'll add it to my ever-growing list!!! LOL!!

message 10: by Kasey (new)

Kasey | 560 comments Mod
I am gonna add that one to my list too.

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