Authors: Harper Alibeck
And the result? Evan was no longer good enough for Claire.
The advantages of such a match were not high on Evan’s reasons for wanting Claire. He was, quite simply, in love with her. Utterly and completely. Yet he had spent the year since after being told he would not wed her chasing anything in skirts. Or paying for the pleasure. Because all in all, when he fornicated, his mind filled with lust and fog and he could, for a few sweet moments, forget Claire.
That had been fine and good for a year or so, but he had backed away from it all, settling in to irregular visits to houses of pleasure with friends at intervals that were just frequent enough to slake his sexual thirst, providing some company other than his stroking hand.
Today he had woken at the crack of dawn from a dream he could not remember. A pink light from the horizon gave his room an odd shadow and on a lark he dressed, headed outside for a walk. His family’s estate abutted the Hanscombe lands and he had thousands of acres to roam.
The morning dew made his trek a messy affair within minutes, but the fresh air and the sound of the rooster awakening was a balm, emptying his mind as he found himself near the waterfall, the sound like a siren’s call.
Quite literally, for he heard a woman’s voice.
No – a moan. As he rounded the trail, a large lilac bush obscuring his view, he came to a startled halt at the sight before him.
For there floated Claire Hanscombe in the water, her legs spread wide under a trickle of waterfall from eight feet above, the water pouring over jagged granite, her head tipped back in sheer ecstasy, her throat crying out passion’s song.
Sara had told her what she had found one day, on a walk alone as she prepared for her wedding last year. Katie, the daughter of the Michaelson’s steward, pleasuring herself with the waterfall.
“What?” Claire had cried out. “You jest! How would one do such a thing?” When Sara had explained the mechanics of it, and admitted that she had tried it herself, Claire had been scandalized.
“If one positions the...part of the body one wishes to...touch with the water,” Sara had hissed, her words halting, a pink flush over her cheeks as she whispered in Claire’s ear, not making eye contact, “then the force of the water from the waterfall can be quite...excitatory.”
“But what if someone sees you! Like you saw Katie!” Claire’s words came out with a heady rush, her pulse beating hard, her mind taken by the entire idea.
“One would need to pick a time when one would be less likely to be discovered,” Sara said, then turned and left the room. They never spoke of this again.
Claire had spent the past year trying to find a quiet time when she could try the waterfall with safety. Each time she tried to go Mama needed her for stitches, or Papa sent her to visit relatives for months on end, or a kitchen servant walked on the same path to go to market, or, or, or... And part of the year, the rush of water from the melting in the mountains made the current too great, the pounding of the rapids too dangerous to try.
The idea to come at break of dawn hit her last night, and here she was. Stripping off her dress, she left on only her chemise and slid into the frigid water. Her nipples tightened and her belly clenched. So cold! But she would not be deterred.
Fortunately, she knew how to swim; Mama had insisted they all learn, though her father had grumbled that it was not ladylike. “Neither is drowning,” Mama always said, so swim they could. Now, oh, how she was so grateful to her mother, for the water was deeper than she was tall as she swam to the bottom of the waterfall.
Finding the right place to balance was hard; slippery moss covered the rocks that she could reach and in other areas the water was too deep to gain purchase on anything. Floating on her back, she finally positioned her legs in the right manner, hiking the thin cloth of her chemise over her legs and hips, feeling absolutely ridiculous and doubting whether this was worth it.
And then. Oh.
Somehow, the water found a spot on her womanhood that was, oh, it was just so – and then it was gone. She nearly cried out in frustration. Floating once more, she sought it out, like an archer and a target, lining the shot up just right for the –
. This time she moaned, the sound involuntary, the trickle of water hitting some part of her just so in a manner that sent little ripples of pleasure through her. She widened her legs and arched her pelvis up, but then lost her balance in the water. She righted herself and looked around the small alcove.
Rocks. Rocks would be the key to mastering this. With dexterity and efficiency driven by the need for more, the need for release, and the need for speed as the sun rose, she loaded rock after rock into the small space alongside the trickle of water.
The larger rocks soon held to create a place to brace her feet and hands and she tried once more, fumbling for stability and then arching her pelvis under the –
Oh, goodness. Ah, glory. The feeling was like nothing she had ever known, a keen writhing growing in her like an untamed stallion racing through an open field. Faster, faster, her mind flitting to Evan, imagining his muscled body, dreaming of him touching her there, where the water hit, like a perfect, liquid lover she could only fantasize.
And then the rocks collapsed. She stood, so close, so frustrated, and scrambled to create another platform, pausing to listen for passersby and scanning the woods for interlopers as she manufactured her solution.
Transfixed, Evan ducked behind a large lilac bush that gave him great cover. What on earth was she doing? He watched as she positioned herself under the water’s spray, her face unfocused. She floated, her chemise wet and diaphanous in the water, bunched about her waist as –
Good God. Was she doing what he thought? He peered and craned his neck.
Claire Hanscombe was using the water’s rush to pleasure herself. He grew hard, immediately, as he realized what he witnessed from just forty yards distance. His pants tightened and he felt the familiar flush of need and desire course through his veins.
A cluster of those veins throbbed with more desire than others.
She seemed to change position, then tread water upright, climbing onto the rocks and dropping them into the water at intervals. How methodical! She appeared to be
a system for this!
And, sure enough, she returned to the waterfall, widening her hips and angling the water to her delicate place until she cried out with joy.
His hand found its way to his shaft as if drawn by an outside force. A few tugs of his pants and he was freed, the cloth fallen about his knees, hand stroking himself to the same place she sought, his release quick as he imagined his mouth on hers, hands roaming over those breasts, lips teasing one nipple, finding her pleasure center and –
He was done.
Damn her! Too quick, but so guilty, his need quenched in body but most definitely not in spirit. He made hasty moves to right himself, pulling up his trousers and tucking in the now-flaccid member that gave him so much trouble, and as he fixed his pants he lost his balance, falling a bit into the bush and making far more sound than he wished. He froze, hoping she did not hear him.
. Was that a sound in the bushes? Terrified, she scrambled over the rocks and to her clothing, hurriedly dressing. If she were caught, the shame would be so great she would happily be married off to live in the Kingdom of Siam!
She fairly ran up the trail, measuring her breathing as best she could. What were those touches the water created? She felt as if her entire body might explode at once. Sara’s descriptions had been quite technical.
The results were most definitely not.
As she rounded one bush she was absolutely mortified to find a very familiar face staring back.
“Evan!” His sudden appearance along the trail startled her, as if she had conjured him in her fantasies. Her eyes narrowed but she said nothing. Oh, but he had matured these last few years, his features deepened by a gravitas that seemed to come from spending a year in battle with the French. He had purchased an officer’s commission just three years past, a noble act that befitted an honorable man. After a year in the field in Portugal and Spain under the Duke of Wellington’s command, the Evan who returned was somber, quiet, more contemplative and considerate than the rake who had left.
The news that Papa would not allow the marriage changed Evan once more, leaving him wizened and even more attractive to Claire, his countenance signaling a certain knowing that she craved to join. Paradoxically, once the potential for betrothal was ended he had been a regular in houses of ill repute and the homes of wicked widows, breaking Claire’s heart with the creeping flush of righteous frustration. And not just a touch of envy.
The Evan who smiled at her now, with a wanton flicker in his eyes, was the last person on earth – aside from Papa – she expected to encounter in this place and, especially, after what she had just orchestrated. A prickly numbness shot through her; of all the people to find her...
“What are you doing here?” he asked affably, as if they had merely encountered each other in Hyde Park during a leisurely stroll. He seemed nervous, shifting his hands to his hips, then cracking his knuckles, finally settling on leaning against the large trunk of the lilac bush.
She was befuddled by the question, her body still numb and glowing from what she had felt, her mind full of cotton and sweetness and confusion. Fearing she looked like a soaked maid, she touched her drenched blond hair, smoothing it away from her face, and patted her skirts, all frustration. Fearing she looked like a soaked maid, she touched her drenched blond hair, smoothing it away from her face, and patted her skirts, all-too aware of how wet her underclothes were against her skin, spots of water soaking through her thin cotton dress. She must look a mess; being this disheveled before him added to her general state of disappointment at the steady unfairness of the world.
Being forced to think and speak made her irritable, less charitable, and so her words came out with a bite. “What am I doing here?” she repeated, giving herself a second to consider an answer. “Well, the same thing you are doing!”
He grinned. “Oh, I very much doubt that.”
What did he mean? His smile was...different. Wolfish. Intimate. The look of a lover, not of a suitor.
“Well, then what are
doing here?” she challenged, now full of humiliation and shame, but not quite knowing why.
He watched her, his features flushed and intense. “Enjoying the view.” He broke eye contact then, giving her a few seconds to examine his face. Relaxed and confident, she liked this Evan so much more than the proper, polite officer who had returned from war a hero, then been spurned by the earl. Their most recent conversations had been stilted at best, beleaguered by an unspoken resentment at forces neither could shift.