Chapter Three

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So deep was the ache of his unrelieved arousal, Toad's stride was uneven all the way from the bed to the dressing room, trying to subtly adjust himself in his tight trousers without being so obvious as to take his bollocks in hand in front of Sal. He managed to survive the walk across the room with his dignity intact, but as soon as he cleared the room, he crouched to cradle his poor, neglected manhood in one hand, unbuttoning his falls with the other, leaning against the locked door to ease the desperate craving with three quick strokes of his hand.

With a groan, he spilled his seed into the handkerchief from his pocket, grateful beyond words—beyond thought—he had, just barely, managed not to defile his best friend in her father's bed. The smell of her on his body, now combined with his own raw desire, made him hungry in a way he had never before experienced and could not explain.

His orgasm eased the physical pain, but did nothing to stem the need. The pull to her was like a different kind of umbilical cord, one that couldn't be severed, perhaps even by death, and might provide nourishment to the end of his days. At the same time, he felt the reins his mother and father held slipping out of their hands. He might break his traces before the night was through.

I should marry Sal, and soon. I am old enough to establish my household. What need have I to play the field and hedge my bets, when the best woman in the world is offering herself to me in the next room? I should go to the Archbishop and get a special licence and marry her tomorrow, instead of going back to school.

He could have her. If he turned back around and went back into her father's Fornicatorium, he could have her. His cock rose again, as though he had never relieved it, and his groan was more in the line of a whimper.

You cannot go back in there and ruin her. This. Is. Sal. You randy poppycock. You cannot use Lady Sarah Grenford like a common doxy, no matter your intentions.

He made certain his falls were securely fastened with no buttons askew, took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and ran a hand through the hair on his chest. Finally, he turned the latch and opened the door, with one last, comforting stroke of his hand along the length of his erection. He muttered to his suffering manhood, "No, Sir Frogmore, you shan't have to wait forever."

At her giggle, he flushed, wishing he hadn't spoken aloud. But he could not identify or control the noises that came from his throat when he saw her studying her debauched, half-dressed form in the mirror above the bed, her tongue caught between her teeth, fingers dancing in her tangled tresses, the other hand idly running up and down her hipbone, the barest hint of soft curls peeking from the slit in her drawers. Her expression suggested she was dreaming up some mischief and considering how to drag him in. Heaven help him if she ever discovered she need only crook her finger.

Eyes bright with amusement, Sal asked, "Sir Frogmore? You've named it after a royal residence and knighted it? Did you have it invested by the queen?"

Eyes narrowing at her teasing, he muttered, "One of her ladi... Never mind. It does not signify."

With another giggle that turned into a guffaw, she said, "Well, I shall call it Froggy, for does it not jump at every pretty girl it sees?"

Not when they laugh at it, Toad thought, desire waning in the face of her naïve mockery. Instead of snapping at her, however, he only said, in a faintly injured tone, "There is no need to make fun. I am not the degenerate I am said to be." Feeling the heat rise in his cheeks, he added, "Not entirely, at any rate."

She sat up on her elbows, stroking her fingertips along her waist. "Well, that is a blessing, to be sure. Can we do it again, David?"

The quickly diminishing craving for her touch rose again with a vengeance. It took all of his strength, courage, and dubious honor to say: "No, Beauty, we cannot. There is not time, for one thing, before my parents come looking for me at home." 

She flopped back onto the pillows, and he sucked in a breath at the undulations of her perfect body. "I suppose you are right." Leaning up on her elbow, her breasts swaying, inviting his touch with each movement, she added, "You have given me all I asked and more, and I shall miss you terribly when you return to school."

She seemed to be fishing for something, but he had no idea what. "I miss you every minute I am away, Monkey. It has been so all my life." He was drawn over to her once more, as if by sorcery, and the feel of her coal-black hair under his hand brought back the ache in his groin.

She tilted her head into his hand, and he brushed his fingertips along her cheek. "Soon enough, I will have my Season," she continued, "and your lessons will be of great help as I navigate the rogues of the beau monde."

"Sal!" He barked, jumping back. "Never say so! I shall unleash the fires of Hell on any man who makes sport of you." 

She had to marry him. He could not bear the thought of losing her to another man, especially not one who might use her and toss her away. But she wanted her Season and the attentions from gentlemen that would come with it; it was painfully obvious. Did he have the right to ask her to forgo it?

She slapped at his chest and the touch of her fingertips felt like a brand. "Do not be so silly. I meant only that I will not fall prey, now that I know I must stop them before they begin."

"Indeed you must. If not, I will run them through for taking liberties. If your father does not reach them first." At that, he looked over his shoulder, suddenly even more aware of the depravities Uncle Haverford had told him about when first he showed his godson the Fornicatorium.

He handed her the petticoat and her corset, adding a scowl to underscore his plans for any man that touched her. Once she had adjusted it to her waist, she said, "Will you help me with this, please?"

He used both hands to refasten the corset hooks, unable to stop caressing her in every motion, with his fingertips, his nails, the palm of his hand. His lips traced her shoulder and the nape of her neck, beneath her tangled tresses.

By the time her dress was back on, she was making the same breathy whimpers as she had when he drove her to climax, and he was even more aroused, the ache more poignant, than before he relieved himself.

"Oh, David, I wish we could do it again."

He chokes out. "A million times."

"At least," she said, turning into his arms and pursing her lips for a kiss. He obliged with one last passionate embrace, but then pulled back. He toyed with her hair and stroked her shoulder, memorizing her features for the coming months he would be away at school.

Should I ask her? kept running through his mind as he twirled one of her curls around his finger. He could feel her heart beating in time with his, both running fast, and her soft exhalations of breath against his chest and stomach were sending shivers through his entire body.

Should I ask her? Not without a ring, surely. But if he didn't, it would be too late only hours from now, perhaps too late forever, if she found someone she liked better while he was stuck in Cambridge.

Should I ask her?

"Sal, I wonder if you would consider—" He stopped at the sound of a door closing, and they both sat up straight.

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