ExcerptAn Excerpt From Chapter 8
Synopsis of the story so far:
WPC Shannon Aguerri is the new police officer in the village of Fleetworth Green. Very early on in the course of duty she encounters the wayward son of the lord of the manor and through him, gets to meet the man himself – Spencer, the widowed, 11th earl of Bloxington. There is an immediate emotional and physical attraction between them.
He invites her to traditional afternoon tea to welcome her as the new village constable. He is beguiled by her honesty and forthright attitude. They talk openly about his son, the village and their lives. She is intrigued and impressed by him as they exchange their inside stories. Against the overwhelming backdrop of Bloxington Manor, its seductive history and glorious ambience, a tentative relationship between a reserved and lonely nobleman and a streetwise cop begins.
In the mean time Shannon has to concentrate on her duties as the village constable. She has no idea if Spencer will seek her out, or if such a relationship is even possible, given their social differences. She goes to a routine meeting of the parish council, unsure of what the next moment or chapter of her life will bring. Will she be able to develop her relationship with him?
Then as she leaves the meeting she sees a vehicle similar to his in the car park......
Excerpt from Chapter 8
A Land Rover was parked outside. Her heart leaped. Colonel Robertson strode towards it. For a second she had thought it was Spencer’s. Her spirits sank. Then the driver’s door opened and Spencer stepped out beaming a huge smile over the head of the advancing colonel. He brought himself to attention and saluted. Both men stood facing each other, stamped feet, and snapped their hands back to their sides. She kept a little distance, both amused and impressed by their military discipline. Her own police career had nearly ended in an insolent comedy on the drill square at the Hendon police college.
“Still good for Sunday?” said Spencer.
“Absolutely! Absolutely!” replied the colonel in a stentorian tone.
“Top man,” he said, waving for Shannon to join them. “The Colonel will be our other umpire at the match. He’s a first class chap.”
“It’s an honor.”
“We’ve had a couple of players cry off on world affairs and maternity matters. Shannon has saved us.”
He reached out and took her hand and brought her to his side. The colonel’s eyes widened and he appeared to gasp for breath. Clearly he had never seen the earl holding hands with the village cop. Spencer took mercy on him and let him go with another round of stamping and saluting. Then he put his arm around her waist and pulled her to him, smiling happily. “I hope you didn’t mind me—you know—being here.”
“I think you shocked the poor chap.”
“Maybe a little. He’s my superior officer. I only made it to major.”
“He’s a sweet guy.”
She sensed his awkwardness. He longed to be spontaneous and had come to find her. Now his reserve left him not knowing what to do. She watched his face, his eyes on hers pulling her in. She was dying to kiss him. She let his gaze brush a thrill through her body. She pressed the button on her police radio.
“Three-eight-eight to Zulu Delta off duty Foxtrot Golf.”
“See, just like that, I’m all yours.”
“Are you? Are you?” he said with such a compelling shyness that she hugged his waist as his arms folded around her.
“You’re my hugga-bear man,” she said.
For a while he simply swayed her gently holding her to him. One hand had moved to her head that rested against his chest. She breathed in the maleness of him, letting a small switch click in her core. He stroked her hair. Pins and needles shot through her. She kissed his chest through his shirt.
“I wanted to see you. I had to....”
“I’m glad you did.”
“Glad I wanted to or glad I actually turned up.”
“Glad you saved me from inventing some way to see you.”
“You just say what’s in your mind, don’t you?”
“If I can, I’ll always give you what you give me, Spencer.”
She heard herself saying these words. It was what she wanted to say simply because she knew it was true. She knew she was signaling a bond and commitment to him. She was falling for this man and she was losing things to cling to.
“Shannon, can we talk a little?”
“I’ve just finished my shift. I’m in uniform and grubby.”
“Come up to the house for supper. You must be hungry.”
She thought for a moment. She wasn’t prepared but she had no will to fight against the flow of the moment.
“Supper, eh? We never had supper in our house.”
“It’s a simple snack with a shy posh bloke.”
“Decision made. Let’s go,” she said, vaulting into the Land Rover.
He drove round into the stable yard and parked in a garage.
“Not going out again tonight then?” she said, kissing his cheek.
He let out a sigh.
“I’m so sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I must seem very presumptuous....”
“Relax, Spencer. I wouldn’t have said yes if I’d thought you were gonna throw me out.”
He looked at her, leaned forward, and brought his lips to hers with such a tenderness that she felt as much emotion as desire, as if he had kissed her mind.
He took her hand and led her through the orangery where they had had tea just two days before. A corridor led to an enormous old-fashioned kitchen with a flagstone floor. A scrubbed wooden table big enough to seat twenty was set with two plates, two glasses and a bottle of wine. She stared up at the old oak beams high above her head. Spencer went to the fridge and took out plates of meat, cheese, and salad. She wanted just to look at him and feel his eyes on her. Just for these last normal moments of her life she made some conversation to give her some control.
“There was a fantastic character at the meeting. Vandervell O’Brien—do you know him?”
“Good gracious, yes. He’s one of the luvvies you know. He was some sort of media guru to the prime minister’s wife. She got him a knighthood. He’s harmless and quite famous for some film....”
“Red Flag of the Grimethorpe Zombies,” she said. “I’ve seen it, and I told him.”
“Yes, that’s it. God, he’ll love you forever.”
“That’d be wonderful,” she said.
He stopped and stared at her.
“Wonderful if Vandervell loved you?”
“No, to be loved forever.”
His eyes stayed on her. She’d known him for less than a week. “I wouldn’t want to be loved for any other length of time by anyone. Would you?”
“No, it wouldn’t be love, would it?”
He pulled his eyes away and went to a cupboard. He returned with a loaf of crusty bread. He seated himself opposite to her.
“Do you have a preference in wine?”
“They do three-for-ten-quid in Walmart. They suit my budget. You guess what three colors I like.”
“Red, red, and red,” he replied with a quick shy glance.
She laughed and leaned back, holding out her arms. She’d wanted him to be right or funny because she could feel him tuning in to her and she didn’t want to lose reception.
“I’m a right old open book, aren’t I?”
He opened the wine and poured it. Her heart was suddenly banging as she took a sip. It was deep rich and smooth.
“Not a Walmart bargain special, I guess?”
“Um ... no.”
She closed her eyes and breathed in the fragrance. She tried to relax as the wine spread pleasure in her belly. So far they had filled the time with words. He had said he wanted to talk to her and that conversation lay between them like an unopened letter. She had no doubt that on the other side of this time with him lay the rest of her life, either because of what would happen or because of how she would feel.
“It’s silly. I just had to see you,” he said.
She didn’t think it was silly but she was desperate not to say anything flippant. She looked into his deep dark eyes and let him try to express himself. She wanted him. She didn’t need too much explanation.
“Things have come along very quickly, haven’t they?” he said
“These things can be that way.”
He cleared his throat before trying again.
“There’s no reason why we shouldn’t—you know—be like this.”
“This is what I like being like, you know—when this sort of thing comes along.”
“I didn’t expect this. I didn’t expect you. I haven’t had the chance to catch my breath.”
She watched his face. He was looking down into his wine as if trying to rescue his drowning words. She knew she was letting him struggle. She also knew he was a man who would need to explain himself to her. He would not take her for granted even though she was wantonly granting herself the joy of being with him.
“You feel it’s improper to be at this point after just a few days?” she said.
He smiled and jumped into the warmth of her understanding. She was a woman. She was at least six weeks ahead in this conversation.
“Yes, exactly, but I don’t want you to think I’m right to think that.”
“I promise never to think you’re right. Unless you completely agree with me of course.”
He shook his head.
“You’re amazing. I had to see you and I’ve brought you here and I’m just bumbling about.”
She took both his hands in hers across the table. This great dam of a man was ready to burst. He was strong, chivalrous, and proud. She would draw out the essence of him and swim in it.
“Shannon ... I did something today. I’d like to show you later.”
“You finished welding the Jaguar.”
“No, nothing like that.”
She knew that he hadn’t invited her to see his car-mending skills. Her mind flicked back to the jolt she’d felt when she’d first seen his chest through his open overalls. She just had to stop teasing him! For a couple of seconds he fell silent, then stood up and came round to her side of the table. He was behind her and let his hands fall on her shoulders. She felt his kiss on the top of her head as he massaged her flesh. Added to the warmth of the wine, the sheer maleness of the man, and the exquisite sensation of his hands on her, this was a moment of paradise. She groaned in pleasure.
“Sweet, sweet woman. I’m so stiff aren’t I? There’s never been anything like this and no one since....”
She put her hand on his. She couldn’t tease him now. How must it feel for him here, on the edge of a relationship with a new lover? His last few years had been a homage to memories. Probably he hadn’t thought of another woman until she’d barged into his life. Maybe to him this was a kind of goodbye to Saskia and he was stepping out alone with burdens of guilt as he left her at last. She would hold him firmly but he didn’t know that. He was a complex man. As a wealthy aristocrat he had a natural self-confidence. Yet, here with her he was shy and stumbling. He made sudden advances and then drew back in fear of his desire, emotion, and hopefully, lust.
“Spencer, we’re in the same place. If you built a perfect clock, it would just have the word NOW written on its face. I’m here with you now because I want to be....”
He continued to squeeze and soothe her shoulders. She resisted a temptation to mention Saskia. She didn’t want to tread anywhere on sacred soil. A time would come for that.
“I want you so much,” he said in his deep, considered voice. “I don’t think of anything else.”
“I don’t want you to think of anybody else. I don’t mind the odd random thought about the rest of the world.”
“That’s a deal then. How the hell did you come to me?”
“There was a vacuum in nature,” she replied.
She pushed her head back against his body and tilted her face upwards. She sensed that he too was bursting to kiss. He moved to her side and knelt down, taking her hands in his. She swiveled towards him and brought them up to her face as their lips met The joy of the kiss flowed from his hands into her body. An erotic charge released inside her. His lips found her soft, warm flesh. Any restraint had burned up in the heat of her flowing desire for him.
“This is your woman if that’s what you want,” she said.
“God, how I want you.”
She folded her hands around his head as he kissed her
“My lovely man, my lovely man,” she groaned.
“You are beautiful.”
“You’re a gorgeous hugga-bear.”
“I’m like a bloody teenager,” he said.
“I sure hope so, now that you’ve boiled me over.”
He stood up and drew her into his arms as she joined him.
“I was telling you about something I wanted to show you. I wasn’t sure, I’m not sure if it was the right thing to do.”
“Were you thinking of me when you did it?” she asked with a grin.
“Yes, it’s about you. That’s why I did it.”
“Then it was the perfect thing to do.”
“I fear I might seem a bit forward, a little presumptuous.”
“I won’t know if you don’t show me!”
She could tell he was still hovering on some kind of inner ledge. He poured the last of the wine and she slugged it back. He was such a handsome man. Even in his conservative shirt and plain trousers he could have been a model. She could only guess what was running through his mind. He was a peer of the realm. She was a street urchin from one of Europe’s roughest estates. Much could be made of their social differences, she knew that. She could have many motives for seeking such a man. She let the wine speak a little for her.
“Since we met I’ve wanted you too. I want you to know that. I’ll try to return whatever you give me. I know you’re a reserved man in some ways, but you don’t have to be with me. Does it help you for me just to say that?”
“Yes. Yes, very much. I want to say things that seem wrong to say. It’s like an ache. I’ve not had these feelings.”
“Me too,” she said simply.
“It’s like Napoléon and Joséphine,” he said suddenly as if some beam of inspiration had found him.
Her nature got the better of her.
“Napoléon—wasn’t he the top pig in Animal Farm? I did it at school.”
“I was being a minx, wasn’t I?”
“I think Joséphine was a bit of a minx too, and a lovely one. Napoléon fell so hard for her after one meeting.”
“And we’ve had four. Tell me more, my handsome emperor.”
He shook his head.
“I can’t hide how I feel about you.... I don’t want to hide it.”
“OK, I’m Joséphine. Tell me how beautiful, sexy, and intelligent she was.”
“She was all those things and she was very generous and extravagant too. I must admit I wanted to turn the conversation to her. She has a bearing on things....”
The wine was finished. He took her in his arms and kissed her deeply. She let herself relax and flow into the sensation of a wave floating her away. She was breathless as he took her hand and led her through the gallery. He stopped in front of a portrait of a beautiful elegant blond woman.
“She is Odile, Vicomtesse de Saintonge. She was a close friend of Joséphine. She is connected to what I’m going to show you.”
Still flushed with sexual heat, now she was also bursting with curiosity. They mounted a wide marble staircase to the second floor. He stopped at a large paneled door. He turned the brass knob. He took a deep breath.
“It’s in here,” he said sheepishly, leading her in. The room was warm. A huge Georgian window looked out into the darkness. The polished floor was boarded but mainly covered by expensive exotic rugs. To her right was a bed, but not a bed like anything she had seen or even imagined. It was a four-poster, each post topped with a bronze eagle. Swaths of rich red and gold fabric hung down in luxurious sweeps. The mattress was high and thick and covered with an embroidered counterpane.
“Voilà,” he said, indicating the bed with a flourish of his hand.
She stared at it. So, this shy guy had thought of her and come up with a bed. In the still air of the room she could smell his skin. Some presence of him zinged and flicked her inside.
“This bed belonged to the Empress Joséphine. She slept in it with Napoléon. She was a generous woman and gave it to my great-great-great-grandmother Odile. It’s been here unused until now.
Shannon gave a squeal of excitement.
“Am I gonna sleep in it?”
“I thought, I hoped....”
She let him tail away. There was no way she was not going to sleep in it.
“Is this your room?”
“No, it’s the Royal Suite. King Charles II slept here with Nell Gwyn, but not in this bed.
“Who sleeps here now?”
“No one.... I wanted a beginning, something apart from everything that had gone before. I had this put here today for my own special Joséphine.”
She slipped off her shoes and swung herself onto the bed. Looking up, the curtains seemed to sweep up to infinity. The mattress was soft. She propped her head up and turned to look at him.
“You’re so lovely,” he said.
“Better come and see up close then....”