Lady Westbrook's Discovery (7 page)

BOOK: Lady Westbrook's Discovery
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“Always thinking of you, my dear.”

“I am not sure that that behaviour
would
have speeded up our courtship, you know. Of course, had you followed it up with a demonstration of your remarkable finesse in the bedroom, it may have been a different story. I think if I had had any idea of the magic you could weave in that department, I should never have let you out of my sight again.”

Felix’s manhood, already stiff from administering Margaret’s spanking, stiffened still further.

“Really?” he said, his voice hitching slightly. “Should I have bent you over the dining room table and ravished you there and then? It’s certainly a marvellous thought.”

“Oh hell,” said Margaret suddenly, looking at the clock. “We’re going to be late if we don’t get a move on.”

“Oh ho. No you don’t, madam. You can’t fill my head with that sort of saucy talk and then expect me to behave myself at the Waverley’s. Either you let me take you now or I really will do it over our host’s dinner table in front of the assembled throng.”

Margaret smiled. “Oh, if we must, we must, I suppose.”

He lifted her from his lap slightly in order to extricate his engorged manhood from the confines of his trousers. Margaret hitched her petticoats to her waist and positioning herself above his member, sunk down onto him. She gasped prettily as, sitting astride him, she felt him penetrate her deeply. She wrapped her arms around his back and rode him enthusiastically, pressing her legs against his to give her purchase. He grabbed her bottom, guiding her movements as their bodies moved with perfect synchronicity, pushing them quickly towards a climax. Felix felt Margaret stiffen, and her fingernails dug into his back as she cried out in release. Her head dropped to his shoulder, and with a few swift strokes, Felix reached his own climax, releasing his seed into her with a groan.

“That was wonderful,” he said.

“Mm it was,” she agreed, pulling away and climbing down from his lap. “Now I have to get ready. Not another word about ravishing me over
anyone’s
dining room table. Don’t even
think
of such things while we are at the Duke and Duchess of Waverley’s.”

“I’m not even allowed to think about it? That seems scarcely fair. I shall behave impeccably, I promise you, but you can’t very well control the erotic images that might be playing in my mind as I do so.

There were
twenty guests at the Duke and Duchess of Waverley’s including Lady Catherine Hockering and the local member of Parliament, Lord Elmbridge.

“Good evening, Mr Oliver,
Mrs Oliver,” said the Duchess, greeting them each in turn. Margaret wondered if she was imagining it but she was sure she heard a slight emphasis on the word ‘Mrs’ as though the Duchess felt the need to remind Margaret that she no longer carried the prestige of her late husband’s title.

The party broke into groups as they circulated prior to the announcement of dinner. The Duchess approached Margaret straightaway. “
Mrs Oliver, it’s so lovely to see you. I feel I have seen so little of you since your marriage to your scientist.”

“Thank you, Duchess. Perhaps I haven’t been
quite
as involved in the Waverley Ladies Society lately. Organising our new home has kept me busy.”

“Of course. Your new home,” the Duchess affected a maddening look of pity. “How are you finding Colonel Huffington’s old place
? I imagine it must be quite a shock to you - having to adjust to such a small house when you have been used to Westbrook Manor.”

Oh
, for pity’s sake, thought Margaret. Anyone would think that Felix and I have moved into a one-room hovel from the way she’s carrying on.  Out loud she merely said “It’s lovely. The house suits us very well.”

“Ah well, I suppose you will have less need to entertain now that you are, strictly speaking, no longer part of the village nobility. Although I assure you, you will always seem like a Lady to me with or without your title.” She whispered the last part conspiratorially as though bestowing a great
honour.

Margaret was saved from having to formulate a response by the announcement of dinner. Felix appeared by her side to take her arm and escort her into the dining room.

As newlyweds, Margaret and Felix were placed next to one another at the table, exception being given to the usual rules of placement for anyone married less than a year.

When
they sat down, Felix gave her hand a reassuring squeeze beneath the table. As she had suspected, as one of the few couples without titles in the guest list, they had been placed a long way from either the Duke or Duchess of Waverley.

The conversation round the table
centred on its usual topics of local news and gossip. Margaret wondered whether she and Felix had provided conversational fuel for a number of dinner parties since their marriage.

“Have you heard about Lady
Spelthorne?” asked Lord Elmbridge. “She gave birth to her baby last night.
Another
girl.”

There were murmurs of dismay amongst the guest. “Poor Lord
Spelthorne,” said Lady Catherine. Is that three daughters now?”

“Four,” replied Lord
Elmbridge.

“How horribly disappointing for him” said Lady Catherine.

“Is it really so terrible?” Margaret could not help asking. “Surely daughters can bring as much joy to their parents as sons.”

“Yes, well, you would say that,” said Lady Catherine. “
You
were lucky enough to have two sons.”

“I was lucky enough to have two healthy children,” replied Margaret.  “I should have been just as happy had they been girls
.”

“Really?” asked Lady Catherine, her eyebrows arched. “Did Lord Westbrook feel the same way?”

It was a low blow. Her late husband had certainly wanted boys. Producing the required ‘heir and a spare’ for the Westbrook family line had been the most important thing in the world to him. To pretend otherwise would be to betray his memory.  Margaret saw a slight smirk on the lips of Lady Catherine as she failed to answer the question.

“And what do you think, Mr Oliver?” Catherine turned her attentions to Felix. “Would you prefer to have sons or daughters?”

“To be honest,” he said, “I find the whole topic of children to be entirely uninteresting.  I doubt either sons or daughters would hold much interest for me.”

“Your progeny being your scientific discoveries, I suppose?” said Lord
Elmbridge.

Felix chose to ignore the sarcastic tone employed by Lord
Elmbridge. “Well, quite. It certainly doesn’t seem to require much wit to produce a child. Nor does it seem to be especially more commendable to produce a male rather than a female. I believe my wife has the right of it when she says that the most important thing is the health of the child.”

“Well I for one wouldn’t want to be saddled with a bunch of daughters to have to marry off,” scoffed Lord
Elmbridge.

“You know
, Lord Elmbridge,” said Margaret, “I believe that way of thinking will soon be considered most old-fashioned indeed. Women are even now campaigning to have the right to vote. Once this has been achieved, I believe we should expect to see them given as much responsibility as men in public and political life. Perhaps we shall soon women run for political office alongside the men.”

Lord
Elmbridge gave a short bark of derisive laughter. “Women voting! It’s a preposterous idea. Surely you can’t support such a ridiculous notion, Mr Oliver.”

“I most certainly do,” replied Felix. “In fact, it was a discussion about the very topic which first persuaded me that
Mrs Oliver was a lady worthy of consideration.”

The conversation moved onto other topics. Margaret sensed a certain coolness from the other guests towards herself and Felix. As the plates were taken away
, she glanced at him.

“Are you all right?” he asked softly
.

“I feel we have upset the other guests
,” Margaret replied in a whisper.

“We
could upset them still further,” said Felix, looking at Margaret before glancing pointedly at the dining room table.

Margaret didn’t
appreciate the significance of the gesture at first. Then she remembered their earlier conversation where Felix had threatened to make love to her over the Waverley’s dining room table in full view of the other guests. She blushed deep red, which made Felix grim infuriatingly.

The men remained in the dining room for cigars and brandy as the ladies withdrew to the drawing room. Margaret didn’t relish spending time exclusively with the other women.
She gritted her teeth and resolved to get through the rest of the evening as best she could.

As the gentlemen were returning from the dining room, Margaret was in conversation with the Duchess. “You and Mr Oliver are quite the pair, aren’t you?” she said. “I can see why you must have been attracted to one another.
But we were all surprised that you decided to rush into marriage so quickly. Perhaps you should have heeded my advice, after all, and arranged for a chaperone the night he stayed at your house.”

Margaret’s blood boiled at the not-so-subtle accusation. “My dear Duchess,” she said hotly, “
it is surely not the done thing to accuse one’s guests of illicit behaviour in such a way. Did you intend to be quite so rude?”

The Duchess of Waverley scowled. “I assure you that no rudeness was intended.”

“I see, it was stupidity that triggered such a remark rather than rudeness.”

The Duchess gasped.

Felix was at her elbow by the time she finished her sentence. The rest of the party were clearly listening to every word while pretending that they were not.  Without looking at anyone else, Margaret turned to Felix. “I find I have a headache,” she said. “Would you mind if we went home now?”

“Not at all,” said Felix.  He bowed to the Duchess. “Good evening, your Grace,” he said. “Thank you so much for a pleasant evening.”

The Duchess did not answer him, but Felix retained his unruffled composure as he escorted Margaret to the door. As she left, Margaret glanced at the usually affable Duke of Waverley, who had an expression of fury on his face. Surprisingly, Margaret noted, the look wasn’t directed towards her but to his own wife.

Once they were inside their carriage, Felix turned to Margaret. “Was that wise?” he asked.

“She made a snide remark about us. She implied that we had been enjoying sexual relations prior to our wedding!”

“And you called her stupid.
Do you think that was a good idea?”

“Are you going to punish me for my behaviour?”

“God, no. How you want to behave amongst Surrey’s gentility is entirely your own business. In fact, if you have spared me having to spend another evening with those puffed-up, self-satisfied parochial bores, I should be most grateful.”

Margaret let out a relieved giggle. “So you didn’t enjoy yourself this evening, then?”

Felix grimaced. “I can’t believe we interrupted the lovely time we were having beforehand in order to go to it.”

“I believe we can always return to our previous activities on our return home,” smiled Margaret.

He slowly traced the side of her jaw with his fingertips. “I should like that very much, indeed.”

Margaret was surprised when the Duchess of Waverley came to call on her the very next day.

She knew that apologies were in order for her sudden departure from the party last night and had steeled herself to make them. She fully expected, however, that she would be the one who would be paying the visit to the Duchess’s home. She hadn’t expected the Duchess to come to her.


Mrs Oliver,” she said, “it has... been brought to my attention that the way I spoke to you last night was very rude. I should not have implied what I did. I would be grateful if you would accept my apologies.”

“Of course, your Grace. And p
lease accept my apologies for the way in which I responded.”

The Duchess looked relieved. “You are most gracious,” she said. “I trust we can put this sorry incident behind us.”

“I would be happy to,” said Margaret, wondering at the sudden change in the Duchess’s behaviour. “Would you care to sit down? I shall ring for some tea.”

A
s the Duchess sat down, Margaret could not help noticing that she visibly winced as her bottom made contact with the couch. In fact, the whole time she sat, the Duchess seemed most uncomfortable, shifting her bottom from side to side as though trying to put as little weight as possible onto it.

Margaret recalled the Duke’s furious expression from the night before and realised that perhaps it wasn’t just Felix who believed that corporal discipline was beneficial to one’s wife’s behaviour.

Chapter Five

 

“I’ll be staying at the club in London tonight,” said Felix, collecting his top hat from the hat stand in the hall. “The lecture’s likely to go on late and I want to be on hand to answer any questions.”

“That’s fine,” said Margaret. She took the hat from his hands and placed it on his head, kissing him quickly on the lips. He placed his hand on her back and pulled her closer for another kiss.

“Oh, it’s really not,” Felix replied. “Every night I spend away from you feels like a night wasted.”

“Even if it’s necessary for the advancement of scientific discovery?” she asked, pulling away from his grasp.

“Even then. God, I waste far too much time messing about with currents and conductors. That time would be far better spent pushing you to new heights of sexual ecstasy.”


Marvellous as that sounds, I don’t want to be responsible for a delay in bringing electricity to the homes of the masses. Go to London. The Royal Institution are expecting you. They’ll be disappointed if you don’t turn up.”

“You know, we could always take a quick trip upstairs first,” said Felix, running a finger gently up the side of Margaret’s neck.

“Absolutely not. You told the coachman you’d be ready to leave an hour ago. Besides, I am expecting Jasper at any moment.”

“Jasper’s coming to visit? I didn’t
realise.”

“I only got his letter this morning. I believe he has something he needs to tell me.”

“Ah well. Give him my best wishes. I will be on my way. Our continued passionate lovemaking will need to wait.”

“I look forward to it. You can abandon yourself to your carnal urges when you get back,” said Margaret, smiling.

“Oh, I will. I promise you.” He gave her one last kiss and headed out the door.

Jasper walked through the doors of the drawing room as Margaret leapt up to meet him.

“Darling what a...” The words she had been planning to say next – “nice surprise” – dried on her lips. Jasper looked terrible. His face was haggard, and the bags beneath his eyes betrayed many nights without restful sleep. She saw a nervous tic in his face, which had been a disorder of his as a boy that she thought he had outgrown. “Whatever’s the matter?”

“Mama, I’m in trouble,” replied Jasper.

She guided him towards the couch. “Tell me,” she said.

“There’s a porter at college –
chap by the name of Flint - who is making trouble for Charles and me.”

“Charles and you?”

“He’s blackmailing us. Threatening to expose the truth about our friendship unless I give him a substantial sum of money.”

“The truth about your friendship? Whatever do you mean?” As soon as Margaret said the words, she knew exactly what Jasper meant. She suspected she had always known.
“The two of you - you’re more than just friends?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, Jasper... does he know for sure?”

“I am afraid so.
He found letters we had written to one another. He has them in his possession now. They are pretty explicit, I’m afraid. There would be no denying the charges if the police got hold of them. ”

“Oh my poor boy. That
can’t be allowed to happen. A trial would be unthinkable. You might go to prison.”

“Well, at least I won’t be hanged at any rate. They removed the death penalty for sexual deviancy ten years ago.”

Margaret winced. “What exactly does this man want?”

“Two hundred pounds. To be handed over to him at The Grocers Arms in Cambridge tomorrow. I’m sorry to spring this on you, Mama. You must understand that I am quite, quite desperate.

“We have to do as he says. We can’t risk him going to the police.”

“Do you have that kind of money?”

“Yes. Well, Felix does. I know his safe combination
; it will be all right. Does anyone else know about this?”

“No just me and Charles. And you, now, of course.”

“I think that’s best. We must keep this to ourselves. We cannot risk anyone else finding out about the true nature of your relationship with Charles. The stakes are too high. We will go first thing tomorrow. With any luck we will be back before anyone knows we’ve been gone.”

Felix headed out into the damp grey air of the London morning. Not even the inevitable drizzle dampening his greatcoat could diminish his good spirits.

He had had a hugely promising response to the paper he had presented at the Royal Institution. He’d been introduced to scientists who had previously worked with Thomas Edison on developing the phonograph and who were able to offer some fascinating insights into the practical applications of electricity, which Felix believed would prove invaluable in his own research.

And now he was heading home to his beautiful wife
, who he intended to render naked as soon as he possibly could and then pleasure relentlessly until she was sated and exhausted. Life was good.

“Felix!” a voice called, snapping him out of his reverie. He looked up and saw his brother, Paul. Paul was the second youngest of Lord Rochester’s children, two years older than Felix and the confirmed bachelor of the family.

Paul was accompanied by a young blond man who didn’t look older than 18 or 19. The man looked vaguely familiar to Felix although he couldn’t place him.

“I didn’t expect to run into you here,” said Paul. “We were just heading to the club. However as you’re here, this could be very helpful. You know Charles? He’s a good friend of Jasper Westbrook’s.”

“We met at your wedding,” said Charles.

Of course. Felix made the connection
, although the young man in front of him seemed a good deal thinner and gaunter than the man he had met six months before.

“Charles, would you acquiesce to my telling my brother about your situation?” asked Paul. “I am sure he would be most supportive.”

Charles nodded his ascent.

Inside the club, Paul quickly explained to Felix about
Flint and his threatened blackmail of Jasper and Charles.

“You and Jasper, you’re...” Felix was struggling to find a polite term. Inverts?
Too harsh.  Buggers? Too damn personal. ‘Of a similar bent to my brother’ would probably sum it up nicely. “... together,” he finished.

Charles nodded.

“Do you know this character Flint?” Felix asked Paul.

“Oh god
, yes. He’s a regular at half the secret member’s places in Cambridge.  Besides I know everyone. It’s why Charles came to me.”

“You know everyone of a certain... temperament.”

“Of which Flint is undoubtedly one. Charles came to us because Jasper received another letter from Flint and has now disappeared. Charles thinks he may be planning to pay the money that Flint’s asking for.”

“I have no idea where he is,” said Charles

“He’s at my house,” said Felix. “Or at least he was yesterday. He sent a letter to Margaret telling her to expect him.”

“Do you think he plans to ask for help?”

“I have no doubt. Come,” he said to Paul and Charles, “I have a carriage waiting to take me home. Come back with me and we can all sort this mess out together.”

When they arrived back in Waverley, Margaret and Felix were not at home.

“Did Mrs Oliver leave a letter for me?” he asked. The butler responded in the negative.  “A message?” The butler gave a barely perceptible shake of his head. Felix strode to her bedroom, checking for a note or some other information about her plans. Nothing. He tried his study and, on an impulse, checked the safe.

He saw at once that a significant amount of money had been removed. He scanned his desk for a letter from Margaret. There was nothing.

This was ridiculous, he thought. Confound the woman. How on earth does she expect me to assist if I do not know what her plans are?

The answer was obvious, he realised. He was so unprepared for it that it struck him like a blow. She didn’t expect him to assist; she didn’t even want him to know about it. She intended her actions to be entirely secret from him.

Paul and Charles were sitting in the drawing room when Felix came back in. He tried to remain calm despite the anger bubbling up inside him over the way that Margaret had chosen to handle the situation. “It seems they may have already gone to settle with Flint. Do you have any idea where he might have asked to meet?”

Charles shrugged. “I’m not sure... although there’s a pub in Cambridge – The Grocer
’s Arms – I believe that Flint and the landlord have an, um, understanding.”

“Well that’s as good a place as any. What do you say, Paul
? Shall we head back onto the road?”

Paul  was
already standing up and putting on his gloves. He knew better than to ask Felix any awkward questions about why his wife had not left word of her intentions.  They had a long journey to Cambridge ahead of them and they needed to get going as soon as possible.

As
soon as Felix, Paul and Charles entered the grimy public bar of the Grocer’s Arms, Felix saw Margaret and Jasper sitting at a table with a thin, greasy man in a threadbare coat. The man, presumably Flint, wore an odious expression of satisfaction. He looked like a cat enjoying the struggles of a mouse caught under its paw.

Felix
approached the table as quickly as possible. Margaret and Jasper were clearly too preoccupied with Flint to have noticed their entrance. As he came close, he heard Margaret speak  to Flint.

“How do we know that once we give you this money
, that will be an end to it?” she said.

“You don’t,” said Paul
, swiftly taking a seat at their table. Margaret looked up, startled. Her eyes travelled from Paul to Charles to Felix. She looked pale, and he could not read her expression. Was she relieved? Annoyed? Scared?

Paul continued speaking “I’d venture that once he had his money, he’d just keep asking for more and more, wouldn’t you Flinty boy? That’d be just your style. Unscrupulous and greedy.”

The look of smug satisfaction that Flint had been wearing when they entered the bar had entirely disappeared. He looked horrified by Paul’s sudden appearance.

“You!” he said. “Why are you here? How do you know these people?”

“Oh, Flint,” laughed Paul, “one thing you ought to know about me is that I know
everybody
. I certainly know all about you. And that underage choirboy you were knocking about with. Featherstonehaugh, wasn’t it?”

The name meant nothing to Felix
, but it was obvious from the stricken look on Flint’s face the type of relationship he had had with him.

“You ever heard the expression ‘takes one to know one?’” asked Paul. “That’s the reason you were so quick to catch on to what was going on between Jasper and Charles here. Why you went to the bother of swiping their letters.”

Flint found his voice, at last. “What does it matter? It’s true about them, isn’t it? They’re lovers, and there’s laws against that.”

“You breathe a word about them to the authorities and I will make sure that they know everything there is to know about your dirty little secrets,” said Paul.

“It will be too late for him,” – Porter jerked his head towards Jasper – “if I’ve already gone to the police, won’t it?”

“You think the law will do much to a couple of nice boys like these? Jasper, here, is the brother of a Lord. Charles is the son of a bishop. They’ve got friends in high places. Whereas vermin like you... who’s going to stand up for you when you’re in the docks?”

Flint looked pale. Paul’s threats had evidently hit home. Felix felt the time had come for him to speak. He leaned across the table. “I see my brother’s words have given you something to think about,” he said softly. “Now I suggest you leave. Do not make any further attempts to threaten my family or it will go very badly for you.”

“Your family?” Flint looked at Paul.  “I had no idea... I never would have tried anything, Mr Oliver, had I known ...”
He left quickly.

Jasper looked at the assembled group, visibly shaken. “Do you think that will be an end to it?”

Paul shrugged. “Perhaps. It is certainly more likely to be the end of it now than it would have been if you had given him the money he’d asked for. You should never give in to blackmailers. Once he’d known you were good for the money, there was nothing to stop him coming back with more threats.”

“You’re right, I know. It just seemed like the only way at the time
,” Jasper said.

“Trust me I have enough dirt on that scoundrel to keep him running scared for a while. Not clever to try and blackmail a couple of fellows ‘cause they’re queer when you’re of the same persuasion yourself. You’d think there’d be honour amongst thieves. Us sexual inverts need to stick together.”

“Thank you, Mr Oliver” said Jasper to Paul. “And thank you, Mama. I should never have dragged you into this.”

“Not at all. We may not have handled it correctly, according to Mr Oliver, but I am glad you came to me about it. You must know I will stand by you, Jasper. Whatever happens.

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