Husbands Love Curves
a short story by jemma frost
On a country road in England, 1822
“I apologize again for the change in our plans. I knew Aunt Philomena was unwell, hence her absence from our wedding yesterday, but the severity of her illness is surprising.” Sir Michael Claymore wilted into the carriage seat across from Sarah as they raced towards his aunt’s home in York.
Newly married, she took in the sad state of her husband—black hair tousled from the anxious run of his hands, gray eyes equally as stormy as the weather outside. She’d never seen him so undone in all the years of their friendship. From children of twelve, when they’d made a marriage pact to only wed the other after witnessing the
less-than-perfect relationships between their own parents, to the scandal of her father marrying Sarah’s friend—a woman twenty years his junior.
Michael always maintained his composure and kept a level head.
Leaning forward to squeeze the hand tapping out a staccato rhythm on his knee, Sarah’s mouth twisted into a semblance of encouragement. “You must stop apologizing. Of course, we should visit your aunt before embarking on our honeymoon. You love her… along with her menagerie of pets and plants,” she teased, recalling an evening when he shared the eccentric older woman’s affinity for furred and feathered friends whilst building a veritable jungle in her home. A slew of foliage lined walls and shelves, he’d explained, and the avoidance of hollyhocks was essential, or else he’d become a sneezing fiend.
Sarah found it all quite charming.
Michael smiled and turned his palm upward so their fingers could entwine. “Who would’ve thought a couple of twelve-year-olds would be so wise? I’m happy you’re my wife, Sarah. You’ve always understood me best.” A round of barking and high-pitched yips followed the boom of thunder overhead as the storm outside strengthened. Raising his voice to be heard, he continued, “And accepted Dreamer and Duncan as no other lady could have. Not many would agree to bring the dogs on their honeymoon trip, even if we are delayed a bit.”
“What can I say? They’re too adorable to leave behind.” She scratched the black and white Cairn Terriers behind their pointed ears, attempting to soothe their concern over the troublesome weather. “Besides, it’s been a dream of mine to open an animal sanctuary, and these little imps give me good practice on caring for the stubborn and rambunctious.”
“Two words I could use to describe you, as well.”
For the third time since they’d wed, Sarah noted the darkening of Michael’s eyes from silver to pewter—a lustful gleam that she’d never seen before yesterday.
Or perhaps he’d never been so open about his desire before.
Thanks to Her Dark Earl, a naughty book her friend and new stepmother Clara had procured, and a vague discussion with Sarah’s Aunt Ida months ago, she felt relatively confident going into her wedding night. However, this side of Michael was a revelation.
Their courtship had been chaste with a few pecks on the lips here and there, but nothing as wicked as written on the pages of Her Dark Earl. To be honest, sometimes Sarah worried she’d made a mistake in accepting Michael’s proposal. He’d always been a friend. An excellent one, but she’d never viewed him in a romantic light.
The silly marriage pact they’d made as children shouldn’t have led to an actual exchanging of vows, yet here they were bound together in holy matrimony.
Because you didn’t want to trouble yourself with the games that came with flirting and trying to capture a man’s attention.
Because you didn’t want a marriage like your parents—one founded on scandal and ended with husband and wife seeking affection outside the marriage.
She didn’t begrudge her parents’ decisions, though. Society was filled with such relationships, but Sarah desired fidelity and friendship. Things Michael gave in spades.
Except now it seemed as if he’d like to give her more than just amiable conversations and monogamy if his studious observation of her breasts, or his clear focus on her mouth, were any indication.
“Whoa!” The carriage came to an abrupt halt, cutting Sarah’s words short. Through the window, a shabby inn came into view, its dingy exterior withstanding the cleansing powers of rain battering its walls.
Their driver whipped the door open and beckoned them out into the storm. “I’m sorry for the interruption, but we must pause our journey until the storm lets up. I’m worried the horses will spook with another crack of that thunder.”
“No need for apologies, Paxton. Better to be safe than sorry. We’ll see if there’s room inside for—” Suddenly, Dreamer and Duncan jumped from the carriage with barks of glee to chase a wayward duck, its fat body waddling easily through the downpour.
“Dreamer! Duncan! Get back here!” Michael hopped down, and Sarah quickly followed, her boots sinking into the muddy ground. The dogs ignored their master’s command as they ran merrily after the poor duck, its incessant quacking combining with happy yips to create a hilarious cacophony of animal sounds.
Laughing, Sarah darted to the left, raising her skirts to an indecent height but uncaring about propriety at the moment. “I’ll see if I can’t cut them off behind the inn, while you follow them around the building.”
With her directive hanging in the air, she sprinted away in amusement.
What an extraordinary way to begin our marriage!
If that doesn’t beat all…
Michael knew his wife was unconventional at the best of times and downright stubborn at her worst, but he never imagined he’d see her running through a thunderstorm chasing down his rebellious dogs.
“Dreamer, Duncan! Stop this nonsense right now!” he called for the troublemakers again to no avail. This wasn’t exactly how he’d intended to spend his first full day as a married man—slipping and sliding through the rain feeling like a damn fish out of water. His mind had conjured many scenarios, but none of them resembled this farce.
Instead, they centered on bedding his beautiful wife.
A girl he’d secretly been in love with for years.
The only woman he envisioned in his future or bed, which made him a damned virgin at twenty-one years of age. Last night, any hope of changing that sad fact had been unceremoniously ruined after receiving word of his ailing aunt. Sarah and he departed for York as soon as their servants readied their belongings, heading north rather than east for Dover to board their ship to France.
“I swear when I get my hands on you two…” The threat trailed away as Sarah rounded the corner and slid across a particularly slick spot of mud, tumbling backward to land on her back. Distracted by the pained cry of their new mistress, Duncan and Dreamer left their prey alone to nudge at Sarah’s prone form, licking her face and neck with pitiful whines.
“Are you alright?” Michael fell to his knees beside her. If she was harmed…
“I’m fine… Just need… to catch… my breath.”
Carefully, he helped her sit up, swiping at the streaks of muck painting her cheeks. “Let’s get you inside. The dogs should follow us now that their concern for you has overpowered their hunting instinct.”
Treading through the marshy land surrounding the inn, they stumbled into a warm eating area, where guests stared agog at their entrance. Water puddled beneath their feet. The sticky squish of their muddy boots filled the air.
Any other time, Michael and Sarah may have chuckled at the absurdity of their situation, but humor was hard to come by with a chill seeping past the layers of their drenched clothing.
“Your finest room for my wife and me, please.”
The innkeeper nodded and motioned for a maid who guided them upstairs to a worn room housing only a bed, a table, and two chairs. After stoking the fire, the young woman disappeared before coming back with stacks of towels and a fellow who brought in their trunks.
“Here you are, sir. If you or your lady need anything else, just ask. My name’s Cecily.”
“Cecily…” Sarah clapped a hand over her mouth as a red flush turned her cheeks the color of a tomato. For as long as he’d known her, she’d sung strangers’ names to remember them, though she tried hard to break the habit.
Personally, he found it adorable.
A quirk unique to his Sarah.
The maid ignored the odd melody of her name, though her movements seemed stilted as she curtsied without a word, leaving them alone to dry off and wait out the storm.
“I can’t believe I did it again. She must think I’m mad.” Sarah ripped a folded towel from the top of the neat pile and scrubbed at her cheeks, neck, and arms. Grabbing her hand, Michael gentled her ministrations.
“No one thinks you’re mad.” His hand cupped hers as together they drew the soft cloth over her skin. “You’re incredibly smart, strong-willed, and my wife. If anyone dared to voice such nonsense, I’d ensure they regretted it.”
“My knight in shining armor,” she mused, gratitude brightening her green eyes.
“Your knight in soaking wet armor. Shall we divest ourselves of these clothes before catching a chill?” Sweeping a gallant arm forward, he pulled one of the chairs away from the table, only to be shocked by the sight of a black spider scurrying across the floorboards. “Bloody hell!” Michael scrambled backward, tripping over Duncan who’d run over to see what the commotion was about.
A flash of black appeared at the corner of his eye, and he hastily scooted across the floor, leaving behind a damp trail of rainwater and mud as he sought escape from the tiny demon.
Suddenly, a prim boot heel crushed the spider with little fanfare. “Honestly, Michael… How you still fear spiders is beyond me. You’re a hundred times bigger than them at least.”
“Remind me of that next time you find a ladybug perched on your dress.”
“It bit me. I know it did! And you saw the welt on my arm. My trepidation around ladybugs is understandable, but what harm has a spider ever caused you?”
“Lack of sleep,” he retorted, a childhood full of nightmares featuring hairy, long-legged spiders rearing its ugly head. Struggling to his feet, Michael shrugged out of his coat and draped it over his trunk. “Come on, let’s warm up before we find any more creatures living in this room.”
“I’m not sure battling in the nude is preferable to facing them cold but clothed.”
References to nudity finally broke his concentration on the ground—searching for any other pests that might be lurking. “I can’t speak on its benefits for defending oneself from insects, but I do believe it’s necessary for a couple to consummate their marriage.”
Sarah paused the unlacing of her boots. “Consummate our marriage? Here?” Her wide eyes glanced about the room, lingering on the filmy windowpane. “But this is hardly the place for such a momentous… I mean the sun’s still out, despite the darkening of the skies. We’re not going to sleep yet.”
Oh, his innocent Sarah.
He knew the kinds of books she read. He read them, too.
This display of maidenly nerves he might have expected from her twin sister, Mary, but Sarah was the braver of the two. Full of curiosity. Eager to explore. To discover that perhaps there was a side of her he’d yet to meet—this anxious virginal side—filled his heart with tenderness.
They were both novices when it came to the art of lovemaking.
However, for all his inexperience, Michael understood that their relationship would be a passionate one, free of unwritten rules like Husbands shall only bed their wives in the evening. Or only once a week. Or whatever other nonsense matrons stuffed their young charges’ minds with.
“Sex isn’t a precursor to sleep, Sarah. We can partake in its delights whenever and however we please.”
Visions of scenes from Her Dark Earl flitted through Sarah’s head, men and women displayed in lurid positions—their mouths, hands, and most intimate parts connected, twined together in pleasure.
And she would be just like them… with Michael. With your husband. A man she’d known for years.
So why am I so nervous?
“Bold of you to assume I’d be a willing participant in our current circumstances,” she said the first thing that came to mind. The naughty nature of making love in the daylight, in a strange new place, appealed to her sense of adventure, but Sarah wasn’t above daring Michael to work for her approval.
Their conversations usually revolved around animals or which one of his friends to introduce her sister to. Rarely did they flirt. They skirted the line between friends and lovers, but with the rest of their lives laid before them, perhaps it was time to take the plunge. To dive headfirst into the deep sea of pleasure everyone else seemed so interested in.
Even her father had let desire rule his heart!
Marrying Clara, a woman two decades younger than him, rather than finding solace with a more suitable partner.
White cotton fluttered to the floor followed by black breeches until Michael stood bare before her. Muscles coiled and bunched under his skin while her gaze wandered helplessly over his magnificent form.
Goodness, he is handsome. How had she never noticed?
You noticed but weren’t affected because he was… is your friend.
And now he’s my husband, too.
“Don’t tell me the indomitable Mrs. Sarah Claymore is cowed by fornication.” His eyebrows wriggled in the most ridiculous way possible as he mimicked her impression of Aunt Ida.
She knew she shouldn’t have shared that particular conversation with him.
Drawing a fortifying breath, Sarah made quick work of her boots before rising to her stockinged feet. “Hardly. But who knows when the storm will subside? The sun may shine in the next five minutes. I’d hoped our joining might last a little bit longer, though I’ve heard rumors of some men struggling with stamina…” She shrugged her shoulders, allowing the straps of her chemise to fall down her arms. “Shame to learn my own husband falls within their ranks.”
A husky growl rumbled in the room—the warning sign of an insulted male, the battle cry of a man determined to prove her wrong.
Desire bloomed in her belly, sinking lower to become an ache between her thighs. Sarah’s skin felt tight, the thin cotton of her underclothes chafing her nipples. A condition he immediately took note of, his hooded gaze centering on her breasts, his nostrils flaring with a rough inhalation.
In fascination, she watched Michael as he stalked forward, his muscled form resembling those Greek statues at the museum—contoured and firm and oh-so enticing. Her fingertips twitched with a yearning to trace the line of curls leading down to an impressive…
Cock, that’s what Her Dark Earl called a man’s aroused member.
What Michael would use to pleasure her.
Sarah licked her lips in anticipation, past concerns over a possible lack of passion between them due to friendship dissipating rapidly.
No, there was nothing lacking here.
The gap of space separating them disappeared in seconds as Michael’s long strides urged her back until Sarah bumped into the door. “Unruly little harlot,” he rasped. “Is this what you discuss with your friends at balls? Men’s sexual endurance?”
His fingers ripped the front of her chemise down the middle, and the shocking show of dominance made her weak in the knees. Goodness, who was this man? Certainly not the Michael she’d played snapdragon with during Christmas. Or executed mischievous pranks with as children.
This man demanded attention. Commanded her body to submit to whatever he wished.
And Sarah didn’t submit to anyone.
“Listen closely, wife.” Michael dipped his head to nip at one of her budded nipples before glancing upward. “I am the only man you will ever know. The only man allowed the privilege of learning your most intimate thoughts. Of tasting your intimate secrets.” Two fingers slid between the curls at the apex of her thighs and confidently circled her clenching sex before massaging the bundle of nerves begging for his touch.
Sarah rose to the tips of her toes, a gasp of urgency tingling on her lips. She needed more. Needed everything.
“Michael… Kiss me. Please.” And not one of those proper pecks of our courtship. But Sarah kept that stipulation to herself because her husband’s mouth brushed against hers—once, twice—then whatever chains of restraint he had broke free.
An animalistic grunt vibrated from Michael as he devoured her with the rough plunge of his tongue. Ravaging her senses with the punishing force of his mouth, the insistent plucking of his fingers at her breast, his palm between her thighs.
It was too much.
It wasn’t enough.
Overwhelmed by sensations, Sarah dug her nails into his shoulders and twisted her head to the side, panting for air, helplessly searching for stability.
But Michael wasn’t having it.
“Don’t turn away from me, Sarah.” Authority emanated from him. “Don’t fight this. Don’t fight me.” For a moment, his movements gentled. “I know you’re scared. I am, too… You’re the only woman I’ve ever loved, and I want you to enjoy this. Want to satisfy your every need—even if all my experience was learned from those T.L. Kenny novels.”
Surely, he didn’t mean… “But that would make you a virgin.”
A lopsided grin softened his features. “Men can be virgins, too, you know. As I said, I love you. Have only ever loved you.”
Michael loved her.
He was in love with her.
Tears suddenly sprang to her eyes, and embarrassment made her hide her head in his neck. “I don’t know why I’m crying, but I think I must’ve always loved you, too. But with our parents’ marriages as examples, and you never indicating a deeper affection… I convinced myself that we were just friends. That it was safer to believe the lie than to hope in the truth.”
“Sweet Sarah…” he nudged her temple with his chin until she stole a peek up and saw the fondness in his eyes. “We’re not our parents, although your father seems to be happy with his second choice of wife. We shall blaze our own path, and it will be abundant with love because I adore you. The way you sing to remember a person’s name. Your peculiar interest in Blackbeard and finding his buried treasure. Your infatuation with lurid novels. Every unique, exquisite part of you, my love.”
As declarations went, Sarah didn’t think the esteemed novelist T.L. Kenny could’ve written a better one.
Because it came from Michael’s heart.
Honesty and devotion beamed like rays of sunlight to soothe the restlessness inside her.
“Now, I really won’t be able to stop crying. When did you become such a romantic?” She sniffled and snuggled further into his sturdy chest.
“Today, apparently. You bring it out in me. As for your crying, shall I endeavor to distract you?” His hands resumed their previous activity, although reverence seemed to layer each caress rather than the wild passion of earlier—no less powerful, but tender in its approach.
“For a novice, you appear to have a certain talent for this,” she muttered as the tide of tension rose in her blood again, a pulsing tingle desperate for freedom.
“Happy to have your approval. Now give me your release.” He stroked and pinched and lapped at various points on her skin. His motive was obvious: to bring her satisfaction by any means necessary.
“Come for me, Sarah. You’re safe and loved, and your husband demands it.” Moments later, Michael’s lips stole over hers and caught her cry of surrender, her body shaking with each surge of pleasure.
It surpassed her dreams.
Eclipsed her reading of such things.
And Sarah knew it was because of Michael. Their bond had always been strong. Kindred spirits, her twin sister would say. But now love tied them together. Tethered their hearts to one another’s with an unbreakable thread.
Chests heaving from exertion, Sarah and Michael considered each other speculatively—a whole new light shining upon them.
Then her husband swept her into his brawny arms and whooped with delight. “Shall we do that again?”
Cupping his cheek, she nodded. “But it’s your turn now. It’s time I test my husband’s resilience.”
The challenge hung in the air as he walked them over to the bed. “As you wish, wife. Do your worst.”
And she did.
A newlywed bride loving her husband.
CURIOUS ABOUT SARAH’S FATHER AND HER FRIEND, CLARA?