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“Amelia my sweet, what is wrong? Usually you don’t cry during our time together. Tell me what is troubling you. Why did you ask me here if you don’t want to play?”
Amelia Turnston shook her head, trying hard to stop the tears that were falling down her face.
“Please forgive me, Edward. I do care for you and I love our time together. But I can no longer see you. And I need to be released from my membership in The Rakes Club.”
“You cannot be serious?” Edward Morton, Lord Cannonberry stared at the beautiful woman in front of him. “You love The Club. Whatever would cause you to want to leave us? I insist that you tell me right now!”
Cannonberry stiffened as Amelia’s tears turned to sobs. He gathered her in his arms and patted her head gently. “Tell me, sweet one. Let me help you.”
Amelia pushed away from him, wiped her tears and walked to the desk on the opposite side of the room.
“I received this message today.” She sniffed and handed Cannonberry a piece of foolscap. The frown on his face deepened as he read the short missive.
I know about your little Club. You will give me five thousand pounds by Friday or all of London will know about your group and their nasty little habits. Gather the money and I will contact you again.
The note was unsigned, and Edward frowned. “When did you receive this?”
“This morning. Please forgive me, Edward. Someone has found out about The Club and it is my fault. Why else would they send the message to me?”
“Why indeed?” Edward crossed the room and sat down on the divan. “If someone knows about The Rakes it is not your fault.”
Cannonberry frowned as he stared at Amelia. She was standing in the middle of the room, her face buried in her hands, sobs racking her body.
“Come here, sweet one,” he whispered, smiling as she crossed the room quickly and buried herself in his arms. “It’s not your fault, truly. And you should have trusted me to take care of this. You will not leave The Club.”
He gently pushed her hair away from her face and ran his hands over her wet cheeks. “As my wife your membership in The Club will be mandatory.”
Amelia pushed herself away and stared into Cannonberry’s eyes. “Wife?”
Cannonberry smiled. “I should have done this long ago. I love you, Amelia. I have no desire to be with anyone but you. When you are my wife I can care for you properly, and you needn’t worry about things like this.” He rattled the paper, and then kissed Amelia softly.
“Oh, Edward.” The words were breathed against his lips and Cannonberry laughed.
“There is the little matter of trust. Of you not trusting me enough to take care of this problem. Instead, you took matters into your own hands with this ridiculous idea of leaving The Club, and me. Perhaps a spanking will help you to remember to come to me, to not be afraid. Do you agree with me, Amelia?”
Without saying a word, Amelia stood, and gathered her long skirts around her waist. She undid her underclothes and bared her behind, lying herself across Edward’s lap so that her bottom was fully exposed.
He rubbed her bottom and then smacked it. “I will take care of this situation, Amelia. You relax and enjoy one of your favorite activities.”
He smacked her bottom again and she groaned in pleasure.
Edward pushed away the thoughts of blackmail and centered his thoughts on reddening the pretty bottom across his lap, and how there would be many more nights of pleasure before them after they were married.
“Did she say how it was delivered?” Julian Gregory, Lord Buxton, eyed the piece of foolscap in his hand.
“A maid found it on her doorstep this morning, wedged under the mat.” Cannonberry took a sip of his port. “We need to check with the other single female members of The Club to see if they received similar messages.”
Buxton stood and walked to his desk and picked up two similar pieces of foolscap.
“Margaret Walker and Hannah Morrow. These notes were delivered in the same manner that Amelia received hers. Our ladies sent them to me this morning, desperate for help. I checked with three other single ladies. None of them have received missives. The only member left to check is Shelia McCoy.”
“She has received nothing.” Jonathan Barrow, Lord Barton, stepped into the room and closed the door. “I thought I would check with her on my way over here.”
Buxton smiled at the young lord as he took a seat. “So that’s why you’re late. I’m glad to see that the two of you are getting along so swimmingly.”
“You were a fool to let her go, Buxton,” Barton answered. “She’s quite delicious.”
“Yes, well, let’s just say we didn’t see eye to eye. So, three of our single female members have received notes of blackmail. We need to plot our next move carefully.”
“Pay off the notes and it all goes away,” Barton said, taking a glass of port from the table.
“On the contrary,” Buxton replied. “If we pay off the blackmailer he, or she, will continue to seek money. We need to find out who this person is and contain the situation before it gets out of hand.”
“And how do we do that?” Cannonberry’s voice was harsh. “I don’t want to see Amelia hurt, or frightened, any more than she already is.”
Buxton smiled. “I agree, about all our ladies. I’m sure our anonymous friend will send more instructions later in the week. I say we make it look like we are complying with the request. And we set up someone to watch the situation and report back to us about who arrives to pick up the money.”
“Then we take that person down,” Cannonberry said. “But who do we get to watch the area where the transaction is scheduled to take place? Whoever is doing this is smart enough to deliver the notes at night and will not go out in broad daylight to pick up blackmail money.”
Buxton laughed. “Correct again, my friend. That someone will more than likely set up the payoff at night, while we are otherwise engaged at a party. If he sees any one of us he will run. No, I know someone who could do the job for us. Let me handle it.”
“And is this man discreet? We’re taking a very big risk here.” Barton sat his glass down and eyed his friend.
“It’s not a he, it’s a she,” Buxton replied. “And I know she will be very discreet.”
“To what do I owe this surprise visit, Lord Buxton?” Alice Hamilton gave her guest a cup of tea, took up her own and sat down. “I must admit your note came as quite a shock. I don’t often have contact with Lords and Ladies.”
Buxton tried not to stare at the lovely vision sitting across from him. He had no idea that Hamilton’s widow was so beautiful, or so young. Hamilton must have been in his fifties when he died. The woman sitting before him now couldn’t have reached her thirtieth birthday.
He looked at her with open admiration. A curvy brunette with full breasts and hips. Beautiful, brown eyes looked at him with undisguised curiosity. She was the type of woman he loved to welcome into his bedroom.
“I was a business associate of your late husband,” Buxton replied with a smile. “I have missed him since he passed.”
Alice laughed lightly. “Joseph has been dead for some time, Lord Buxton, almost two years now. Surely, you are not here to pay a condolence call.”
Buxton laughed. “No, I believe I missed that time. And I’m very sorry for that. I hope you will forgive me.”
Alice nodded at him and smiled, her silence encouraging him to continue.
“Your husband helped me solve quite a few problems,” Buxton said, setting his teacup on the table. “And he told me that you assisted him with some of his cases.”
A chill ran up Buxton’s spine as she laughed. It was a light, feminine laugh that he could tell she felt deep in her heart. My God, how she affected him.
“It’s true,” Alice replied. “Joseph taught me everything he knew. He was a very good man. And a very good problem solver. Unfortunately, no one wants to use a female to solve their problems. I have been very bored of late.”
“Perhaps I can give you something to do that will relieve some of that boredom,” Buxton replied.
Alice took a sip of her tea, but Buxton could see that her hand shook just a little. It was obvious his visit was unsettling to her. He needed to try and put her at ease.
“Several female friends of mine are being blackmailed,” Buxton said.
Buxton smiled. “Something like that. I’d rather not go into too many intimate details.”
“Sometimes the devil is in the details, just as the old saying goes,” Alice replied calmly. “If you wish for me to help you, Lord Buxton then you need to be open and honest with me. I can assure you I will tell no one.”
“Very well, Mrs. Hamilton,” Buxton replied. “Several members of my social group are involved in a Club whose activities would be frowned upon by others. These ladies are part of that Club, as am I.”
Alice swallowed visibly, and Buxton suppressed a laugh.
“Is this a sex club?”
Buxton’s laughter filled the room. Instead of sounding disgusted she sounded intrigued. “You’re nothing if not blunt. Not exactly. I would rather not tell you those particulars until the time comes. We just need to work on finding the blackmailer.”
“And you plan on paying this blackmailer?”
“No, I plan on making it look like we are paying him,” Buxton said. “I want you to watch the site where the transaction is to take place. Then report back to me on who showed up to collect the money.”
Alice nodded approvingly. “I can do that, Lord Buxton. It seems straightforward enough. You are telling me the truth?”
Buxton laughed. “Indeed, I am. And I’m prepared to give you a thousand pounds for your assistance.”
“I have no need of your money, Lord Buxton,” Alice replied as she twisted her hands in her lap. “As you see, Joseph left me very well off.”
“Indeed, he did,” Buxton replied, looking around at the comfortable surroundings. “But every little bit helps, Mrs. Hamilton.”
When she didn’t reply Buxton gave her an appraising look. “You had another idea in mind, Mrs. Hamilton? Or may I call you Alice?”
“You may.” Alice continued to twist her hands.
He watched as she continued to work her fingers. She was obviously very worried about something. “Alice, please take a deep breath and tell me what you want to ask.”
She did as he asked, and then said quickly, “Lord Buxton, how well did you know my husband?”
“It’s Julian,” Buxton replied. “And I thought I knew him very well. Although it seems I’m about to find out differently.”
“My husband may not have been a member of society, but he was well known, and well respected. I don’t want anything to tarnish his memory.”
When he nodded, Alice looked at the floor and continued. “Would it surprise you to know that in the nine years we were married Joseph never touched me as a husband touches a wife? I was not to his, um, liking.”
She raised her eyes. Buxton stared at her in confusion, and then realization dawned.
“Ah. I see. I’m sorry, Alice, truly sorry.”
Alice glanced down at her lap. He could tell how embarrassing this was for her. He was sure he knew where this was going, but he would not embarrass her further by letting her know. He would allow it to play out as it would.
“Joseph was a good husband, in every way but that. He found me on the streets and took me in. He married me because he needed a woman in his life. People get suspicious otherwise. I loved him dearly and he took very good care of me. My point, Lord Buxton…”
She looked at him and Julian wanted to get up and take her in his arms. Gone was the confident woman who asked him about his lovers. This woman was frightened, asking for something that made her very nervous. Asking for something that she wanted very badly. His cock swelled as she looked at him. He imagined her across his lap, her bottom reddened from his spanking. Such a beautiful woman to have been untouched all these years. The thought was almost unbearable.
“My point, Julian, is that I have been a widow for almost two years now. It is time for me to wed again but I don’t want the man I marry to know that I’m still virginal. I won’t dishonor Joseph’s memory in that way. But if you take my maidenhead then the person I marry doesn’t need to know about Joseph’s preferences. Only you need to know.”
Alice looked at the handsome man before her. “My husband trusted you. He spoke of you often. I believe I can also trust you. Unless, of course, your preferences run as Joseph’s did.”
She lowered her eyes again and Buxton laughed out loud. “I can assure you, Alice that my preferences do not lie where your late husband’s did. Do you need proof?”
He stood, and Alice looked up at him. He ran his hand over his crotch, where his hard cock rested under the fabric of his trousers. Then he crossed to her and pulled her from her seat, lowering his lips onto hers gently, pressing them together until she sighed in pleasure. Then he reached up and cupped her breast, rubbing the nipple through the material until she moaned.
“Help me discover who is causing my problem, Alice and I will rid you of your little problem.” His voice was soft and husky against her lips.
“Keep my secret, Lord Buxton and I will keep yours.”
“It is a deal then,” Julian replied, and he kissed her again, his tongue gently probing her mouth. She rose up on her tiptoes to try and gain more access to his mouth and he laughed softly.
“You’re going to be a wonderful pupil, Alice. I have much to teach you about what happens between a man and a woman. Some things you would never have thought about.”
“Can we do it now?” Her hands were on his chest and her voice was breathy. Buxton laughed.
“Not yet, little vixen. After the problem maker is identified I will teach you all sorts of new things. I promise.”
Julian ran his fingers down her cheeks. Then he pushed her head up with his thumbs. “You do know that people are bound to find out we are enjoying each other’s company.”
Alice smiled. “I do, and I don’t care if they know we are lovers. I just don’t want them to know I’m a virgin.”
He kissed her again. “Very well, little one. I’ll be in touch.” Then he left and when he got outside the door he smiled to himself. This was going to be an interesting scheme that would bring much pleasure to the both of them.
Little one. He’d called her little one. No one had ever referred to her in that manner. But then again, she’d never met a man like Julian Gregory before.
She stared at the place where he’d sat and wondered what in the name of the devil had possessed her to tell him about Joseph, to ask him to take her maidenhead. She still couldn’t believe she’d done it. It was an embarrassment to be a virgin at her age, and she’d made things worse by telling her secret to a man she didn’t even know.
True, he’d known Joseph, but she shouldn’t have laid all her cards on the table with him. It certainly wasn’t something she’d planned to do. When she’d received his note asking to consult with her about a problem she’d been intrigued. But when he’d walked into the room all her good sense had flown out the window. She’d managed to recover enough to have a civil conversation with him about what he wanted her to do.
It had helped her to get her emotions under control, but obviously not enough to stop her from telling him about Joseph and her personal life, about her secret. What had she been thinking?
She put her head in her hands and bent over, studying the floor as if it could give her the answer. She hoped she hadn’t done something that would make her look like an idiot in the man’s eyes.
What must he think of her now? A virgin who wanted nothing more than to spread her legs for a man she’d just met.
Joseph had told her once that all men craved sex, whether it was with a woman, or with another man, like he did. He’d offered to help her find a man to take her maidenhead. But she’d refused his offer. Even though he’d taken lovers she didn’t feel like it was being loyal, so she hadn’t taken him up on his offer, or gone out to look for a lover on her own.
During the two years since Joseph’s death she’d considered it, but she hadn’t really known how to go about it. Somehow, approaching someone at a teashop, or in the park, didn’t seem like the way to find a lover.
But when Julian Gregory walked into her sitting room she’d known that he was someone she could trust. She also proved that an attractive male could turn her into a blabbering idiot. She knew she had two choices. She could change her mind and tell him that she’d been mistaken, that she’d allowed her emotions to get the best of her and she didn’t want him to take her to bed.
But she knew she’d never do that. She’d allowed her mouth to get her into this situation, and she wouldn’t back down. She wanted sex, and she wanted it as soon as possible. That meant she needed to do her job, and then collect her reward, so to speak.
She got up and went to her private study, a room that no one but herself and the housekeeper entered. Once at the desk she took out paper, ink and a quill. Then she wrote out notes about her meeting with Buxton, leaving out his name in case someone broke into her house and took the papers. She also left out the part where he would take her to his bed once the situation was resolved.
Then she said a silent prayer that it would happen as soon as possible.
“How do you know you can trust this woman?” Tristan Mallory, Lord Ellington, looked at his best friend and frowned. “This is a huge risk. I think perhaps we should just lie in wait for the person and take care of it ourselves.”
“Would that not also pose a risk? This way we can get some idea of who is behind the blackmail. We put packing into a bag and leave it for the person to collect. They think it’s the money and take it. They won’t stop to count it in public. Mrs. Hamilton follows that person and we have our blackmailer.”
Buxton followed Ellington’s gaze as it strayed across the ballroom. The newlywed stared at his wife, Carin. She was with Amelia Turnston, whose engagement to Cannonberry had been announced the night before.
“Does it not worry you, Julian, that only the single female members of The Club received the blackmail requests? Those of us higher up in society could provide more money. Why would a blackmailer choose a widow to blackmail?”
“Because he knows those widows are well off,” Buxton replied. “Perhaps he thought the ladies would not come to us. Our reputations alone would show this person that we would not sit still for blackmail. But a lonely widow engaging in activities of this nature would pay up to save her name.”
Ellington pulled out his pocket watch. “The bag should be in place by now. I hope your little friend is capable of following through on what you’ve hired her to do.”
Buxton’s cock stirred as he imagined Alice Hamilton, her curvaceous form hidden in men’s clothing as she waited to see who picked up the bag. Then he imagined her moaning as pushed her to her knees and offered her his cock. He intended to do more than rid the sweet little vixen of her maidenhead.
“That’s what I thought.” The laughter in Ellington’s voice rang out and Buxton shot him a confused look.
“Thought about what?”
“I asked you what Mrs. Hamilton was like and you ignored the question. You’re obviously lost in thoughts of bedding the woman. Do we have a new member of The Club on the horizon?”
Buxton shifted in his seat to adjust his hardening cock. “It’s a distinct possibility. And before you ask, no, I haven’t bedded her. Yet.”
Julian had every intention of keeping Alice’s virginity a secret. He thought about Joseph Hamilton. He would never understand how a man could prefer the company of another man over a woman, especially a woman like Alice. Soft and supple, warm and willing, eager to learn.
He’d been very tempted to stay the other day but knew that was a bad idea. He wanted her first time to be sweet and memorable. He felt himself harden further and he shifted yet again to make room in his pants. After the first time, she would learn to take things roughly. At least he hoped she would. Not all women were open for the type of sexual activities he enjoyed, but he’d managed to find a few over the years. After Alice’s first experience, he would seduce her into another session, and he hoped that she would give herself over to him in the way he desired. Nothing ventured, nothing gained his father always said.
“That good, huh?” Ellington laughed at Buxton’s discomfort.
“What?” Julian asked.
“Buxton, you’re thinking about bedding her, aren’t you?” Ellington asked.
“She is rather fetching,” Buxton said. “She has beautiful breasts, and full hips for grabbing hold of while I plow my way inside her.”
“And we all know how much you like breasts,” Ellington said. “Does she know you’re planning on taking her to bed? Or anywhere else you’d like?”
Buxton laughed softly. “Let’s get over the blackmail problem, and you leave Alice and her affairs to me. She and I will get to be good friends.”
“I have no doubt of that,” Ellington said with a laugh. “You can be very persuasive. The question is will she lie down with you, or will she run?”
Buxton thought about Alice bent over, her hands tied at the wrists behind her back, her legs tied to the bedposts. His cock pulsed as he thought about driving himself into her wet pussy. He could practically hear her words, screaming out for more, and he would give it to her. Then, when his cock was dripping wet he would spread her ass cheeks and dive into that tight, untried opening.
He needed to push away the thoughts. If not, he would have to find a necessary room and bring himself to orgasm before he wet his breeches like a teenage boy. Ellington didn’t need to know, but the deal Buxton had made with Alice was the sweetest debt he would ever have to pay.