Eight Years Later
Dorothea slammed into the house yet again and Harry rolled his eyes, getting up to make sure the door to his study was firmly shut. He had no wish to find out what new complaints she had about her husband, her children, or her servants.
He had no idea why Adelia tolerated her tantrums. Even her parents had long since stopped entertaining her hysterics. Just recently they had picked up and left, stating that it was high time they saw the world now that their children had their own homes. The last letter they had sent had been from the coast of North Africa.
Harry was quite envious of them at this particular moment.
He could hear Adelia’s raised voice emanating from the den and then the high pitched voices of his twin boys, both clamoring to speak at the same time as they greeted their favorite aunt with excitement. To a couple of seven-year-olds, all her shenanigans were apparently very exciting.
It also helped that she always had sweets on her person for them.
Alexander slid into the room, peering out as if the hounds of hell might be chasing him.
“What is it now?” Harry asked.
“Apparently her husband has a new mistress.”
“Oh yes? And that is a topic to discuss in front of my children?”
Alexander smiled. “Hopefully because they don’t understand what it means yet?”
Harry scoffed. “Why doesn’t she just send her away?”
Alexander shrugged. “She’s her sister. Adelia never could turn away anyone she considered family.” He said it fondly, if a bit ruefully.
“Well, I am beginning to think we should also go on a cruise of our own. Perhaps in the meantime, Dorothea will learn to solve her own problems.”
Alexander laughed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she just followed you. She uses Adelia like a crutch.”
Harry snorted. “Yes, exactly. Considering she didn’t even want her as a sister in the first place, it is truly ironic.”
Alexander laughed. “Considering she wanted to be her…”
Harry frowned. “What do you mean?”
Alexander’s face underwent a metamorphosis as if he knew he had said something he was not supposed to.
“Alexander,” Harry said warningly.
His steward sighed, closing his eyes. “You were not to know. That was the agreement.”
“Agreement between whom?”
“Adelia’s parents and she. She promised not to tell you that Dorothea pretended to be her, if her parents forgave the Rabys for what they did.”
Harry gaped at him. “When did Dorothea pretend to be Adelia?”
Harry sighed again. “The one with memory loss was Adelia and not Dorothea.”
Harry shot to his feet, his eyes like thunder. “I beg your pardon.”
“Calm down, Your Grace. It was a long time ago.” Alexander flapped his hands as if he thought that might calm the Duke. It didn’t work.
“Was Dorothea responsible for the injury as well?”
Alexander sighed. “You always were too quick for your own good.”
“I want that woman out of my house,” Harry began to march to the door, his nostrils flaring with anger.
Alexander stood in front of the door, barring his way. “Please, Your Grace, you need to calm down. Your children are out there. As is your wife. They do not know that you know. Can you please control yourself for just a bit longer? I am sure Adelia will get rid of her soon.”
“How can she…how dare she,” Harry was inarticulate with rage.
“I know, Your Grace. I know, trust me. I had the very same reaction when I found out. But it has been handled. It is over. Let it go.”
Harry grabbed his hair, going to the window to look out into the garden. His breathing gradually slowed.
“Besides, she has gotten her comeuppance. See how unhappy her marriage is?” Alexander said.
Harry did not reply or turn around. He simply continued to breathe as he looked out the window.
“Plus she was given less dowry because of it. I have heard her complain about it more than once.”
Harry shook his head. “She just never learns.”
“She is a spoiled chit of a lady. But she is your wife’s sister and you must let her handle it however she sees fit.”
Harry sighed. “You are right. I know you are. It’s just…”
Alexander came to stand beside him, nodding his head. “I know.”
Adelia finished up her letter to the orphanage and folded it up, addressing it to Katherine. She smiled, still thinking about the letter she had received from them, detailing Fin and Freya’s graduation from the orphanage as they had attained a majority. She placed the letter at the bottom of a package that also contained a velvet purse. The money in there should be enough for the twins to get to Rosemond, as well as make sure the other children could have a treat.
She was sure that Harry could find something for Freya and Fin to do about the estate. There was always so much going on. Sealing the package with her ring, she addressed it and then put it aside for a footman to find in the morning. Then she got to her feet, stretching, feeling that it was past time that she went to sleep.
Adelia slid into bed next to him, having come from reading a bedtime story to the twins.
“I understand you and Alex had an interesting conversation today,” she said as she walked her fingers across his bare chest.
“You should have told me.”
“I am sorry.” She reached up and kissed the corner of his mouth, “I just couldn’t tell you. But I wanted to. I wanted you to know.”
“I understand. You were protecting your foster parents.”
“Yes, I was.”
“Have you heard from them lately?”
“A letter came yesterday. They are in Dublin now.”
“Huh, that is…far.”
“Yes. They are still fearful, even with Mother and Father’s assurances. I do not blame them.” She sighed. “I don’t blame Mother and Father, either. If someone had taken one of the boys, I’d—” she choked, looking up at him with brimming eyes, “I do not think I would be able to live.”
“Is that why you choose to forgive her?”
“No. I forgive her because she’s my sister and she truly does not know any better. She grew up thinking that she was entitled to anything she wanted. If anyone is to blame…” she trailed off, her face getting rosy. “Well…I suppose when you lose one child, you tend to lavish all that love on the other.”
Harry smiled. “You really do not like to speak ill of anyone, do you?”
Adelia shrugged, her lips twisting ruefully. Harry reached over to the bedside table and poured her some rum.
“Oh, are you trying to get me drunk?” she asked with a smile as she took the glass.
He smiled back. “Would you have any objections if I did?”
“No. I have absolutely none.”
“Good. It’s been a long day and I could do with some relaxation.” He swallowed down his own drink and then they were smiling at each other.
“Come here,” he whispered.
There was something about Adelia when she had her knees on either side of Harry's hips, gasping with her eyes shut and her blonde mane hanging back, while her body rocked against the one below her.
On a soberer night when there was time and coordination to spare, they might have taken the time to tease and tantalize. But tonight it was all fingers, mouths, and dexterity. Adelia's head fell forward as her hands gripped even more tightly on Harry's shoulders.
“For God’s sake, don't stop,” was the breathy command.
Harry originally had no intention of doing so, but he also knew what that meant. Adelia was close, so he changed his current tactic and slowed his pace. “Oh, you think you can tell me what to do?”
“Harry Abberton, I swear to God—“ Adelia tried to sound tough, but her voice was bordering on a whine.
“What? I didn't stop.” He thrust into her very deliberately, then took his time drawing back.
Adelia's reaction was to grind herself down harder against Harry. She started to say something, but the words were cut short, almost like Adelia didn't want to use them.
“What was that?” Harry knew full well what was on the tip of his wife's tongue. She didn't get an answer, right away. Instead, Adelia kissed him roughly, then bit at his bottom lip.
Finally, she pulled back so they were looking at each other. “Please, darling.” Adelia rocked against him, again, and it was obvious how desperately she needed this.
But Harry was drunk and miffed, so he was extra obnoxious. “Please what?”
Adelia glared at him, but that just made Harry harder than he already was. There were no further words. Instead, Adelia dropped her hand between them and tightly gripped the wrist that was currently flexing at its own leisurely pace. She pushed herself up on her knees, then drops back down against the manhood that was already inside her. The action forced a sharp breath out of her lungs that was accompanied by a low groan.
Leave it to Adelia to find a solution that suited her needs.
It was made Harry feel quite turned on; he was surprised at how much.
“Are you going to make me do this myself?” Adelia's body flexed as she moved back up, but Harry tightened his arm around her back.
“Don’t you worry, I will take care of you.” He resumed his previous pace. But then it suddenly became a challenge because as soon as Adelia let go of his wrist, he felt himself harden further, his own climax approaching. “That's... distracting.”
“Not my problem.”
Even madly in love with each other, married for eight years, they were still competing to see who would crack first. Their teasing had only intensified with time and children but it was never done with malice or intent to hurt.
Harry wasn’t sure who was winning this war of theirs, because while he was not really a quick trigger, that little feat Adelia had pulled a minute ago certainly intensified things. It was fine, however, because he knew how to turn things back around.
“So, today I realized as I was sitting at my desk that you'd probably fit right under it. On your knees. And if I happened to wear some loose-fitting breeches, it'd be really easy for you to just...” Adelia gasped against his shoulder and Harry knew she was close, too. “Yes, you would like that, wouldn't you? Your perfect little mouth on me, my hands in your hair.” His arm slid up to tug a little at the back of her blonde head.
“Heavens,” she whispered.
“Mmm-hmm.” There was one flaw in this plan, if he could really consider his own climax to be such a thing. All the naughty talk was getting to him, too. “Addy...”
They didn't exactly climax as one. Adelia still went first, but Harry was a very close second.
“I love you.”
“You'd better.” Adelia twitched against him before saying, “I love you, too. Especially for doing that.”
Exhausted, Harry fell back against the bed and pulled Adelia with him. A footman’s footsteps could be heard on the landing and someone dropped something that fell with a thud on the carpeting somewhere below. They were both breathing audibly, but it made for a peaceful collection of sounds.
Harry heard his own voice before he realized that he was talking out loud. “Do you want to have another child?”
“Do I what?” Adelia's voice sounded tired but intrigued.
He knew there were probably better ways to approach this subject. But Harry had never done anything the way it was expected. “Let’s have another child, or children...not right away perhaps but…”
They had discussed more children in the abstract sense. He knew Adelia was willing to have another child, eventually. Maybe eventually could just be sooner rather than later.
Adelia propped herself up on one arm to get a better look at Harry. “But what?”
Harry was a little worried that maybe he did this all wrong, but then he realized one side of Adelia's mouth was turned up in a half-smile. “But maybe we could think about it.”
“Ye, all right,” Adelia said, draping herself over Harry's chest. “We could definitely think about it. But not until tomorrow.”
Harry laughed. “Why tomorrow?”
“Because I'd be much more comfortable if you weren't thinking about our future children while I'm doing what I'm about to do to you.” She pressed her mouth to Harry's ear. “Not that you'll be able to think about anything but my mouth while I'm down there, anyway.”
To Adelia's credit, she was absolutely correct.
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