Posts Tagged ‘nobility’

With a pleasant sigh, I rolled onto my back and stretched out beneath the covers. Soft morning light streamed in through the window overhead.



I’d just had the most lovely dream.



Except, it hadn’t been a dream at all.



I buried my face in my hands, giggling. Me and Lord Ruvano had made use of every last inch of that gigantic bed last night. I could hardly believe half of what we’d done together. Of course, I’d been so horny I probably would have fucked a table leg. Not that I regretted it in the least.



And why should I have? I’d just had the most incredible night of sex in my entire life and I was waking up in the bed of one of the most influential people in the entire kingdom. There was a new king on the throne, and with the Steward dead, it was a new start for not only the kingdom but me as well. What did I care if I had to make that new start as a woman?



It wasn’t as if my manhood had ever gotten me anything. As a man, I’d always been given the heaviest labor in the palace. I had to jump through hoops just to get a woman’s attention. I was thought of as stupid and slow-witted by everyone who saw me. Why would I ever want to go back to the life of a dirty stable hand?



Now I had beauty and freedom; the best food, the nicest clothes, and the grandest trinkets. Most importantly of all, I’d have people waiting on me for a change instead of the other way around. I’d be a fool to pass all that up.



Even if I one day changed my mind, there didn’t seem to be any rush. Lord Ruvano still had the wand, so I could change back whenever I wanted. For now, I couldn’t see any possible reason why I shouldn’t just enjoy my sudden reversal of fortune.



Lord Ruvano had left early in the morning to attend to all kinds of matters which I was fortunate I’d never have to worry about. Having the room to myself, I dozed in for a while longer, only half awake. So relaxed and comfortable, I could have remained between those soft sheets all day. They were so different than the course linens I was used to.



It was some time later when I was roused by Lord Ruvano’s return. I heard the doors closing behind him and the familiar click of his boots on the floor as he approached the foot of the bed. Then with a quick yank, he jerked the covers right off of my naked body. I let out a shriek, half in surprise, half playful.



“Get up,” he said. “There’s too much that needs to be done today for you to sleep until noon.”



“Is there indeed?” I said.



I would have thought last night would have dampened my sexual appetites somewhat, but seeing him again, I could only think of the pleasure I’d felt with his cock inside me. On all fours, like a cat, I stalked across the bed toward him, my breasts swinging freely with each step. He was looking quite elegant in that black tunic of his, but it was already quite rumpled. It must have been a rough morning. I kneeled before him and grabbed his cock through the front of his pants. It twitched appreciatively.



“I can think of a few things that I’d like to do today as well,” I said.



He smiled, taking a deep breath as I rubbed him. His cock stiffened, its contours becoming more defined as it pressed against his pant leg.



“Mmm, I can hardly believe you still want more. My cock is raw after what you did to it last night.”



My pussy was a bit tender as well, but I’d risk a little pain if I could recapture even a fraction of the pleasure I’d felt last night.



“I hope I didn’t injure you too badly,” I said, opening the front of his trousers. He didn’t resist, merely stared down at me. I reached inside and found his warm shaft waiting for me. Pulling it free, I saw it was every bit as long and hard as I remembered it from last night, though now a slightly brighter shade of red.



I ran my tongue around the swollen head and wrapped my lips around the tip in a sloppy wet kiss. I wanted to taste him again, but my pussy was tingling in anticipation as well. After swirling the head of his cock around in my mouth, savoring the slippery warm flesh against my tongue, I let it pop back out. It slid down my chin, leaving a glistening trail of precum. I licked it from my plump red lips as I looked longingly up at him.



“If you’ve had enough breakfast now,” Lord Ruvano said. “There ARE other matters yet to attend to.”



Reclining back on my elbows, I spread my legs for him, my pussy lips sticky as they parted hungrily. “Please, just a little longer…” I said. Going down onto my back, I began rubbing my breasts, rolling the nipples between my fingertips. “Please…”



Lord Ruvano looked down at me and shook his head as I reached for him with my foot. “Are you sure you’re the same woman I first met those few short days ago?” he said. Gently, he brushed his fingertips across the inside of my leg.



“I’ve always been this woman.” I said, rubbing the underside of his cock with my toes. “I just never knew it until you showed me.”



He smiled and, taking me forcefully by the ankle, pulled me across the bed. As he held my foot over his shoulder, he sank his cock into my tender pussy with a single violent thrust.



I let out a long protracted cry. My warm folds were on fire after last night, but the lightning that raced through my impatient flesh more than made up for the pain. With my hair splayed out across the bedcovers, my body squirmed under him as he began his long, steady thrusts. I bit my lip and clutched the sheets. He crashed into me and I threw my head back. It was just as good as last night. Even better.



“Yes! Yes! Yes!” I cried in time with his jabs.



I wrapped my other leg around his waist and helped pull myself onto his cock. My breasts jiggled from each impact. I kneaded and mashed them in anxious desire as his cock raked over and over again against the soft flesh inside my pussy. I was going to cum again, just as hard as ever.



But then there a quick knock at the door and Bakoro stepped into the chambers without waiting for a reply. I shrieked for real this time and pulled off of Sir Ruvano as I scrambled to find something to cover myself with. By the time I jumped off the bed, took up the bedcovers laying on the floor, and wrapped myself in them, Bakoro had already gotten quite a show. He didn’t even make any effort to pretend he wasn’t staring. Oddly I didn’t mind all that much. I must have been growing more comfortable in this body than I’d realized.



“Latest dispatches have just come in, m’lord,” Bakoro said, jerking his thumb over his shoulder as his cold eyes remained fixed on me.



“I’ll be right there,” Lord Ruvano said as he casually put his cock back into his pants. I nearly sighed in despair upon seeing that. I would have liked for him to finish. Turning to me, he said, “It’s time for you to get ready.”



“Ready?” I said, readjusting the bed covers but nearly dropping them entirely. “For what?”



Lord Ruvano smiled broadly. “The king has requested a personal audience with you.”



“The king? With me?”



“You must have made quite an impression yesterday. He’s been doing little else but talk about you all morning.”



And why did he want to see me? I hadn’t done anything to catch his eye — at least, not on purpose. And I hadn’t tried to make him think that I was the least bit interested in talking with him either. I knew that he fancied me, but with his wife, there wouldn’t be any chance of him trying anything improper with me. What could he possibly want?



“I’ve summoned servants to help you get cleaned up,” Lord Ruvano said over his shoulder as he started for the door. “There isn’t much help available at the moment so you’ll have to make due with your old friends from the kitchen staff until we find you some proper chambermaids.”



I barely heard him. Bakoro had continued staring at me until the last possible moment, the lust plain in his eyes. Despite Lord Ruvano’s warning to the contrary, he still wanted to have his way with me. At that moment, I was nearly ready to drop the sheets and let him. Had I really become the whore everyone already thought I was?



The two of them left the room and the promised servants arrived in short order. Greta was again among them. As my bath was being drawn, she approached with eyes respectfully lowered. I almost wished she would make another off color remark about how big my tits were rather than keep addressing me as she did.



“Will you be requiring any Lankshire Root Tea or Banann Leaf Ointment, mistress?”



“What for?”



“Very well,” she said, turning to go, “Your bath will be ready shortly.”



“No,” I said. “I meant, what are they for?”



Greta looked at me as if I’d just asked if water was wet. “The Banann Ointment is for the…soreness…” she said, motioning uncomfortably to her lower regions. I suppose it stood to reason there was little doubt about what had transpired in these chambers last night. “And the Lankshire Root is to prevent a child.”



A child? The possibility had never even crossed my mind. But I WAS now a woman and Lord Ruvano was indeed a man. If I had been trying to get pregnant, the things we’d done last night would have been a good start. My stomach lurched.



“Yes! Both please!”



The tea was dark, foul smelling, and bitter. I nearly gagged swallowing it but wondered if I should ask for a second cup just in case. After bathing, the Banann Ointment did indeed help to sooth my tenderness, but even the finest silk still felt harsh against the sensitive skin between my legs so I chose to go without any kind of panties. The dress which had been selected for this occasion was more conservative than some of the others I’d worn, but it still showed off a great deal of cleavage and hugged my body close enough that it wouldn’t take much imagination to know what I looked like underneath.



Lord Ruvano returned shortly after my preparations were complete and escorted me to the king’s private chambers. I still had no idea why he wanted to see me, especially with Lord Ruvano along as well. It didn’t help my churning stomach any to have my pussy exposed to the air like it was either. With each step and swish of the dress, I was reminded that I was not fully attired. Thinking that I was going to be presented to the king like that caused my cheeks to take on a rosy tint.



Apart from a somber mood still hanging heavily over the rest of the palace, everything seemed more or less to have returned to the way it had been before coup. A few doors showed signs of having been hacked open, but all the blood was gone, the servants again scurried about on their tasks, and the nobility stepped respectfully out of Lord Ruvano’s way.



The room which made up the king’s personal chambers were of a more human scale than the great halls and throne rooms I’d seen yesterday, but the decoration was no less generous. Very few but the highest members of the nobility were ever invited into those rooms. A handful of them were already waiting in the antechamber upon our arrival. With the way they spoke in hushed whispers amongst themselves and glanced at me out of the corners of their eyes, I was thankful to have Lord Ruvano at my side.



The doorkeeper was sent to announce our arrival and within seconds the king’s booming voice shouted that we were to be seen in right away. The gold-chased doors swung open and I took a deep breath. Me and Lord Ruvano walked through with the other nobles filing in behind us. For a personal audience, it apparently wasn’t going to be terribly private.



The room we found ourselves in and everything it contained was starkly white — the carven pillars, the polished floor, the arched ceiling overhead, and even the marble throne. Austere in design as well as decoration, the room was entered through a door in one of the long sides directly across from a matched doorway which stood open and granted views of the gardens beyond. At one end of the room sat the throne atop a short dais, and at the other, the only pieces of furniture which did not conform to the monochromatic pallet: a large, perfectly rectangular block of black granite and a few crates. The way they were cluttered there haphazardly suggested they were new additions which had not yet been properly unpacked or arranged.



Looking just as brazen as he had when last I’d seen him, King Rosenthall jumped from his throne at the sight of me and bounded down the stairs. In the middle of my curtsy, he took hold of my hands and pulled me upright, kissing my fingers as he stared into my eyes. Unsure of what the protocol was when one was being accosted by royalty, I attempted to stand my ground without clinging too obviously from this mountain of man pressing in on me.



“Oh, Stephanie, I’m so glad you came,” he said, kissing my hands again. As if I had a choice to refuse a royal summons. “I was feeling lost without your beauty to inspire me.”



I glanced at Lord Ruvano out of the corner of my eye but he merely stood there without showing the slightest sign of concern. The other ministers shifted their weight uncomfortably, but were equally mute.



“Um, I’m, um, honored by your summons, sire.”



“Yes, of course you are,” he said. “We didn’t get a chance to speak yesterday during my coronation but after Lord Ruvano told me about your skills as a conversationalist, I just knew I had to find the time to make your acquaintance as soon as possible.”



I smiled nervously. Skills as a conversationalist? Was Lord Ruvano trying to make a fool of me?



The king motioned toward the garden. “Walk with me.”



“Of…course.” What else could I have said? “It would be my pleasure.”



Offering me his arm, we passed through the doorway into the gardens. Lord Ruvano fell in with the other ministers of state as they followed us at a respectable distance of several paces, remaining absolutely silent the whole time.



The gardens were similar to those Lord Ruvano had shown me previously, but this was a private section reserved for use by the king alone. The sunlight sparkled from the last of the morning dew which still clung to the lush green foliage. Most of the flowers had yet to open but the clever way which all the paths doubled back on each other turned the relatively small space into a labyrinth of intriguing views.



Plodding along beside the king as he droned on about how wonderful he was, I had very little to do but take in the sights. I listened as best I could, but without being given any chance to speak for myself, it quickly became apparent the only trait the king needed for a good conversationalist was one who could stomach his company and listen to his ramblings without speaking her mind.



After passing around a hedge, however, the king suddenly came to a stop and turned toward me. “You are without a doubt, the most beautiful woman in the entire kingdom, Stephanie. I haven’t been able to get you out of my mind since I first saw you.”



With my back to the hedge, I could do little but blush. Down the path we’d just walked, there was no sight of the others. They must have been waiting around the bend, right on the other side of the hedge.



The king squeezed my hands in his and kissed them desperately. “I can’t take this any longer. If I wasn’t already married I would make you my queen.”



“Sire, I don’t think — “



I jerked back as he leaned in and kissed my neck. His rough beard tickled my skin as his hands gripped my waist and slid up to cradle my breasts. The feel of those gigantic hands on my body sent an thrill through me. I felt like a little child in his embrace, totally at his command. His kisses worked their way up my neck, his tongue occasionally flicking out, rough against my soft skin.



“Sire, this isn’t…oh…” I whimpered effeminately as he pinched my nipples through the fabric of my dress. Again I looked down the path but there was still no one there. “The queen would surely not approve…”



“Fuck her,” the king said as he forced his lips over mine.



I cringed away, but as his tongue invaded my mouth, I parted my lips and kissed him back just as forcefully. I was still so horny from last night I couldn’t help myself. He mashed my breasts and I could feel my pussy growing damp.



Backing away from me, the king reached between his legs and pulled open the front of his trousers. As he released his cock, I gasped. It was huge, as big around as my wrist and with a swollen, knobby head befitting his burly physique.



I wanted it. More than anything, I wanted it inside me.



Seizing me by the shoulder, he spun me around and pushed me against the hedge. I tried not to giggle too loudly. The lack of control was exciting; as was the knowledge those other men were standing just a few paces away.



I stuck my ass toward the king and spread my legs as he lifted my skirts. If Lord Ruvano wasn’t up to the task of pleasing me, then I’d just have to make due with whomever was willing. The king dragged his bulbous cock over the folds of my pussy, letting my slippery juices coat his shaft. My skin was still tender, but that monstrous cock would likely hurt even if I weren’t.



Leaning his massive body in against me, the king wrapped one arm around my shoulders and groped my left breast. With his other hand, he took hold of his cock by the base. Slowly, it slid down the valley between my ass cheeks, stiff and hot.



“Have you ever taken it in the ass before?” he whispered in my ear.



I nearly cried out in surprise but he clamped his hand over my mouth, stifling any utterance I might have voiced. There were always those who said doing such things were amoral. I’d never yet found a woman who was willing to let me try it with her, but the thought of having a cock that large invade my own ass was terrifying and exciting at the same time. I felt the head, lubricated with my own juices, press against my puckered little asshole.



“Just relax,” he said.



I did as instructed and he pushed his cock forward. The pressure was intense. There didn’t seem to be any way it could possibly fit. Involuntarily, my body tensed, instantly sending a tinge of pain through my ass. I cried out but his hand over my mouth closed even tighter.



“Relax…” he said again and I did my best to comply.



He entered me, slowly but steadily spreading my reluctant ass. As his head popped just inside, the pain was pronounced. I was thankful he backed out then and lubricated his cock from my dripping pussy once again.



Stretched as my ass now was, the pain was more bearable when his cock returned. He slid up inside me as far as before, but then with a forceful jab, drove it in even further. It felt like he was pushing my insides up into my stomach.



I bit down on his finger to stifle a cry and he laughed in my ear. Softly, he began to rock his hips. At first his massive cock slid back and forth only a few short inches, but as my ass became accustomed to his girth, the pain lessened and his strokes became longer.



“That’s it, Stephanie, swallow it down,” he said in a low, breathy voice.



Each jab carried his cock a little farther into me until I could feel his hairy thighs resting against my ass cheeks. He paused and then pulled it back in a single long, smooth stroke. It wasn’t anything as intense as being fucked in the pussy, but I still couldn’t believe how good it felt. As he dove back in, I let out a moan and pinched my eyes shut.



He must have taken that as a sign, because he went faster this time, quickly building to a furious pace. With each thrust, I could feel his hefty scrotum swing forward and slap my wet pussy with a splat. He grabbed my hips with his huge hands and practically slammed my entire body up and down on his cock. It was oddly intoxicating to be dominated like this by a man so many times larger than myself.



I could feel the pressure inside me building. I was going to cum without hardly having my pussy touched at all.



However, he beat me to climax. With a deep muffled grunt, he rammed into me and I felt a warmth spreading out through my ass. His cock moved more freely now and a wet squishing sound accompanied each thrust. He didn’t stop ramming into me, however, and the slippery gooeyness spilling from my ass only intensified the feeling.

Author’s note: This is a work of fiction. While many of the characters are historical personages, the main character and her family are fictional and do not knowingly resemble anyone who actually lived.



*



Joanna Nolan followed her parents Lord and Lady Coe off their river barge and towards the great hall of Greenwich Castle; gaily decorated for Yuletide. The cold chill of the Thames was barely kept out by her billowing boat cloak. She shivered half from the wind and half from excitement. In spite of the cold, Joanna’s cheeks were hot. She was finally being presented to the Queen-the great Sovereign Lady who had been held up to her as a role model since she was a girl and for whose sake her husband had died and her family had left the country.



She shivered again, remembering the fierce cold of Bern. The small group of English exiles had pooled their few resources to keep from freezing and starving in a foreign land. The Nolan pewter had gone to pay for food for the struggling Protestant community. She could still see the accusing eyes of her deceased husband for betraying his family, but today she hoped would be the first step to recovering his legacy and making up for her crime to his ancestors. She thrilled at the thought that she could see Larkswood again soon.



Joanna was wearing the only gown she had managed to save from her trousseau, carefully preserved for the day Bloody Mary’s reign of terror ended and her family could return triumphantly to serve the Good Queen Bess. The brocade was embroidered with gold lace that had been her husband’s final New Year’s present. She shed a tear for her departed Edward; he would have been so happy to see this day.



A herald met them at the entrance to the Presence Chamber. He took their names and gave them to the Secretary. In stentorian tones he announced, “Presenting the Lord and Lady Coe of Stoutbridge and Mistress Nolan of Larkswood Bend.”



Joanna nervously searched the room for a familiar face and saw that of Letitia Knollys whose family had shared their exile in Switzerland. Letitia however, looked right through her as if no one was there are all. Indeed Letitia (or Lettice as she preferred to be known by) had recognized her old acquaintance, but as the Queen’s own cousin, and possibly niece if the rumor that Catherine Knollys’ father was really old King Henry was true, she needn’t acknowledge someone as insignificant as Joanna Nolan. Joanna took the slight in stride and choked down the insult. The Queen could hardly be as graceless as her snobbish Boylen kin.



Behind her parent’s Joanna dipped into a deep curtsey. She barely dared to peek up through her eyelashes at the glorious Queen. Instead her eyes were drawn to the most handsome man she had ever seen in her life standing to Her Majesty’s right. He was tall and perfectly proportioned and his cunningly cut velvet doublet emphasized his masculine presence. She was shaken and quickly dropped her eyes once she realized that he was looking at her as well.



The richly melodious and highly imperious voice of the Queen said, “Arise my Lord. Your sufferings for our cause are well known. Loyalty like that is well rewarded. And you my Lady as well.” Elizabeth signaled from them to stand, but Joanna remained kneeling having not been given leave. Elizabeth smiled. She was rarely disposed towards attractive young widows barely older than herself, but given the circumstances she could afford to be kind. “Well that is proper respect. Please rise Mistress Nolan. And how did you spend your days in Bern?”



Joanna stood and replied, in Italian, “I spent my days expanding my mind after the example of our great Queen.”



Elizabeth exclaimed, in the same tongue, “Ah! A woman after my own heart.” She changed back to English. “My Lord, you are to be commended for your dedication to education.”



“Thank you Your Majesty, but Joanna deserves the credit for pursuing it regardless of anyone’s opinion on the matter,” Lord Coe responded with a mild chuckle.



Elizabeth smiled again. Yes, she was quite inclined to be kind to this family. “It is our wish Sir that you serve us as Gentleman Usher. My Lady Coe we would like to serve as Lady of the Bedchamber and Mistress Nolan as Lady of the Presence Chamber.”



Joanna was shocked. While the Coes and Nolans were honorable old names she had not expected to be given a Court appointment. As a Lady of the Presence Chamber she would serve beside the highest born in the land. She dropped to her knees again, “I am honored Your Majesty.”



Her parents followed suit. “Indeed Your Grace we are all honored,” Lord Coe said.



That quickly, the Queen was done with them. She turned away to speak to the handsome man standing beside her throne and the herald signaled that their interview was over. As Joanna and her parents followed a page out of the room to their assigned quarters the man gave her one last searing look. She shivered again, even though it wasn’t cold.



Lettice Knollys’ eyes flashed fire. She was not at all happy to see the Queen bestowing favors on this family, especially not to another young unmarried woman. She had also noticed Robert Dudley looking at the beautiful widow. She would show this little Mistress No-One what it meant to be in her way.



*****



It was a few days before Christmas and Her Majesty had finished her last interview of the morning. Joanna looked up from the quiet corner of the room she sat in waiting to assist the Queen and sighed. After four days at Court she had well learned of the resentment held against a woman of her stature being raised to the level of one of the Queen’s ladies. Lettice’s nickname of Mistress No-One had quickly caught on with her fashionable set, confirming Joanna’s position on the margins. Mealtimes were the worst for the continuous stream of insults.



The only positive was that she was so irrelevant that she could be in a room and most of the time nobody would even notice. Joanna overheard more conversations than a Scottish spy and in a short time she knew more people’s secrets than the simpering old Spanish Ambassador. She hoarded her knowledge for her own amusement. These fine figures could condescend to her all day and with her knowing their darkest sins she could more easily laugh off their petty jabs in private.



The Queen signaled for her ladies to follow her into the hall for Dinner. Joanna put away her needlework and took her place at the back of the line. Elizabeth began to walk past them as they each curtsied in turn. Elizabeth smiled down at the quiet and efficient young woman dressed in the plain smock typical of the Protestant exile and stopped to comment, “Your lacework is truly exceptional Mistress Nolan.” She paused to think for a moment and came to a sudden decision. “There is a length of burgundy velvet in the Royal Wardrobe. We would like to give it to you as our New Year’s gift. We prefer to see our ladies well-dressed and you are in need of a gown for the holiday revels.” She smiled again generously.



Joanna was taken aback. She dropped to the floor, “I…I am truly honored and grateful Your Majesty.” She was grateful as the Queen quickly moved on, but it left a sour taste in her mouth. A length of velvet was a generous gift, but not nearly as valuable as her dower manor and every time she tried to get a moment to ask Elizabeth about it the Queen quickly changed the subject or moved on. She knew well that Elizabeth could more cheaply “reward” her family by housing them at Court then by restoring their property and every day she was forced to endure snubs was a day she resented. Her Edward hadn’t died helping Wyatt to see his widow slighted and denied her rights!



Joanna kept her head down so that no one would see the sudden fierce anger in her face. She looked through her eyelashes to see when Her Majesty’s train would finish passing and met the eyes again of the man standing right behind the Queen. She knew who he was now-Sir Robert Dudley, son of the former Protector and the Queen’s closest confidante. She had overheard many conversations saying that the Queen wished to marry Sir Robert. He had recently been widowed, but the same voices whispered that the timing of his wife’s death seemed far too coincidental. Joanna had heard so many stories the last few days of the man it made her head spin. In spite of the dark rumors there was something in his powerful posture, his rugged looks and his fierce glances that sent a sharp pain into her sex. Damn the enforced celibacy of virtuous widowhood! And damn the man for looking at a good woman with such open and naked lust while covering it with praise for another woman, even if she was a Queen!



Lettice was fuming. She had been planning to wheedle the Queen for that cloth and to see it handed over to another was infuriating. She sat down at the table and turned to Joanna with a vicious grin to all her friends seated nearby.



“It is fortunate for our Mistress No-One that the Queen is so generous. Too bad she did not give you enough for an everyday dress as well. That thing you are wearing looks like it has seen more winters than you have.”



Joanna seethed. “Well Lettice, if I recall you were not dressed much better when we were in Bern, but none of us but you ever cared about so piddling a thing compared to our freedom and our faith.” She motioned for a page. “Please inform Her Majesty I am ill and I would like to request permission to retire from table to my chambers.” The page quickly returned with permission and Joanna excused herself to the surrounding women.



Joanna went back to her bedchamber and was surprised to see that the promised cloth had already arrived. She fingered the delicate, soft velvet and draped it around her body to see its flow. The deep burgundy color was a striking contrast to her fair skin and dark hair. Her maids exclaimed at its perfections. Joanna asked them, “Can we finish a gown by Twelfth Night?”



“We will Mistress,” one maid responded. The other was busily pulling out dress patterns. Joanna stood looking at her other gown, the one she had arrived at Court wearing. It was a sacrifice, especially since the lace she was currently working on would be going to Her Majesty as a New Year’s gift, but she would have to take the gold lace off of this dress for the new one. Even if it left this one bare.



“I will need my sewing tools. I will be right back, “Joanna told them.



She raced down the corridors back to the Presence Chamber, hoping that everyone would still be dining. She heaved a sigh of relief when she saw the room was empty. She quickly headed to the corner where her sewing basket was stowed. Just then the door opened behind her back. Joanna stepped back into the shadows and was shocked to see Lettice with her arms around a man. He was kissing her passionately.



“God’s breath I want you,” a deep masculine voice said between kisses.



Lettice pushed him off with a flirtatious and triumphant laugh. “And what do you offer me Sir in exchange for my maidenhead and my virtue?”



“Body of God Lettice you know I cannot marry! The Queen will never allow it. But that should not stop us.”



“It may not stop you my Lord, but it does stop me.” Lettice dropped her eyes and played demure.



The man turned around and stormed out of the room and Joanna recognized Sir Robert. He did not see her though as he exited. Lettice grabbed one of Elizabeth’s silken pillows and shrieked her frustration into it and then threw it across the room. She then regained her composure, smoothed the cushion, put it back into place and left the room. Lettice was not sure, but she thought she may have seen someone in the corner of the room. It could not have been anyone important or she would have noticed them when she entered. And no one would dare go to the Queen with a story accusing her dear Robert. Lettice smirked and headed back to the Hall.



Joanna was shaken by what she had just seen as she slipped back to her room. The only clear thought in her head was of Sir Robert repeating the words, “I want you.” Her entire body tingled at the thought of hearing him whisper that in her ear. Unlike Lettice, she was not a virgin and her body missed what it had once known. Her chances for matrimony seemed slim and the prospect of permanent chastity was not sitting at all well. The beginnings of a plan began to form in Joanna’s mind.



*****



Twelfth Night and Sir Robert was not in a good mood. Ever since New Year’s, in spite of the fortune he had spent on her gift, the Queen had been ignoring him in favor of her other courtiers. He knew that the eyes of Europe were on them; ready to accuse them of perfidy in the death of his wife, but she was taking avoidance a bit far. He watched as she fawned over Sir Christopher Hatton and burned with anger and jealousy. She had no right to expect him not to pay attention to any other woman while she had so many men waiting on her every word.



He was in his finest Italian velvet doublet with a matching domino mask, but he knew it barely hid the identity of the most famous man in England. Women watched as he left the dais and headed onto the dance floor. Several of them tried to catch his attention. He saw Lettice, recognizable in spite of her mask, surrounded by a group of suitors almost as large as Her Majesty’s. She was flirting wildly with Sir Walter Devereux. Damn the girl and her so-called virtue! She would throw it away in an instant if she had or could get a ring around her finger. He heard the signal from the musicians for the opening pavane to begin and watched them line up. He was about to back out and off the floor in a huff when he looked across-and saw a vision.



Robert almost could not believe she was real. He had never seen such vivid coloring on a woman. Her skin shone like purest alabaster and her hair was black as jet. She was wearing a burgundy velvet gown cut simply and decorated with exquisite embroidery and the finest gold lace he had ever seen although he vaguely remembered seeing some like it before. She wore no ruff. Her mask was made of the same red velvet. He stopped himself from leaving and turned towards the mystery woman. The music began and he bowed to her as she curtsied in return. Who was she?



He attempted to reckon it out, but there were a dozen or more women who could fit. He would need to look for clues. Robert gracefully took her hand for the opening figure and noticed her wedding ring. A married woman or a widow he wondered? Either way she was no virgin. He smiled at her and asked, “Have you been long at Court, Mistress?”



“No Sir. My family arrived only a short time ago,” the lady responded.



A family, he thought. Even more likely she was married, but still not out of the question that she was a widow. Many women had been forced to return to their parents in the wake of the recent troubles. Still the information narrowed down the possibilities.



They made a stately turn and were next to each other again. “And where are you from Mistress?” he asked.



“So many questions Sir! Since you ask, I grew up in Kent.” She smiled with her eyes and Robert felt there was something familiar about them.



Kent, well that narrowed the list down further. Her home, her coloring and the quality of her lace would seem to indicate French blood. There were only a few possibilities left and one seemed to be scratching at the back of his memory.



The Queen looked up to see where Robert had gone and saw him dancing with a strange woman. She began to grow angry at his neglecting her for another when she recognized the burgundy velvet and calmed down. He was just dancing with Mistress Nolan; there was nothing to worry about. Her “Eyes” had always enjoyed a fine dance partner and she was pleased to see Mistress Nolan so proficient and that she had put her gift to such good use.



Elizabeth looked over at her cousin Lettice, still dancing with Sir Walter and gave them an encouraging smile. She approved of the match. Lettice would get herself into trouble if she did not marry soon and better someone like Walter Devereux than…others.



Robert saw the look of approval the Queen gave to Lettice and Walter and swallowed his rage. He turned back to his charming companion as the pavane ended and the galliard started up. “Mistress may I have this dance?” He gave his most courtly bow.



The woman curtsied again and replied, “You may, Sir.” She looked up at him through her eyelashes and he suddenly knew to whom he was speaking. His carnal desire roared from deep within.



Robert grinned like a wolf as her pulled her close for the first throw. He could feel the heat of her breasts through the velvet and his hand lingered a moment longer than was proper. She did not rebuke him. Instead she gave a sly smile in return before she pirouetted and flew through the air in a controlled arc. She landed gracefully into the next figure to a round of applause from nearby dancers.



It became a pattern, a part of the dance. As the dance progressed he took increasing liberty with his hands before each throw. On the third he tweaked her nipple. Instead of admonishing him her coy smirk and small covered up gasps proved that she was enjoying his touches. Robert could hardly stand any more teasing. He surreptitiously touched the side of her breast again and whispered, “I long to touch these-bare.” Joanna’s whole body throbbed with fire as she soared higher than ever. On another pass he ran his hand over her buttock and down her leg and Joanna had to control herself to keep from showing her response. On the last throw he pulled her ear close, “Meet me in the room just before the entrance to the north tower later tonight.”



Joanna nodded and he sent her into the air. She landed with a flourish into a formal curtsey as the music ended. He could see a hint of nervousness in her eyes and hoped she would not back out. He bowed, kissed her hand and headed back to the royal dais. Robert attempted to settle his face into an expression of boredom at having spent the last two dances with someone of little significance. The last thing he wanted was to pique Her Majesty’s jealousy. The Queen nipped his shoulder with her fan for leaving.



“I am sorry Your Grace, you were engaged and I wished to dance.”



Elizabeth’s expression softened. “And very well you do it too my Sweet Robin. You and Mistress Nolan brought us great enjoyment to watch.”



Robert smiled. The Queen had confirmed his suspicion as to the identity of his mystery paramour. “A fine compliment from the best dancer in England, nay the world. And indeed Mistress Nolan was an exceptional partner, but nothing to Your Grace. May I have this dance Your Majesty?”



Elizabeth kept Robert at her side the rest of the evening as he had expected. He saw Joanna Nolan take the floor several more times with other partners and he tried to keep his jealousy in check. On that night there was not a more beautiful or sought after partner than Joanna and the thought that she would soon be his had his blood burning.



“It is late and time to retire,” Elizabeth announced, signaling the Ladies of the Bedchamber. Joanna curtsied politely to her last partner, Sir Thomas Howard and thanked him for honoring her with a dance. She left the Hall and let herself into an anteroom to wait for the Court to settle to bed. Time passed, but Joanna was not bothered. She had waited nearly seven years since the death of her husband to break her chastity; a few more minutes would just add to her growing storm of eroticism. Her breath was rising and falling rapidly in anticipation and she could feel the dampness of her shift clinging to her thighs. She had her triumph at the Ball. Now she would have her triumph over Lettice and the Queen-by having the man they wanted.



Joanna heard the changing of the guard and peeked out the door. The corridors were clear. She slipped out the door and headed for the north side of the palace. She avoided Sir William Cecil coming out of his office and a group of chambermaids loudly laughing and turned towards the tower. Just to the side of the staircase was a door. She scurried over and opened the door, but before she could get it completely open she felt a hand cover hers and pull her into the room. The door was closed behind her and she was pushed up against it by the man inside. She caught her breath as Sir Robert’s mouth crushed her own.

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