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Five Minutes Alone With You

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Daphne could remember no part of her day. From the moment she had woken up, to the very point of standing at the top of the stairs, nothing came to mind. There had to have been breakfast, and tea, and there was a dress appointment, and a ride to the ball, but the only thing she could remember was the feeling of her fingers sliding between her folds, touching a part of her body that she had never before explored, and thinking of Simon. Thinking of him touching her. Not there , of course, but-

Each time their hands touched, although through her gloves. The way his fingers brushed at her back, the top of her dress as he held her close. She thought about the way he looked at her when they spoke, as though he truly saw her. She thought about how close they would dance, when he held her body close to his. She thought about the tingles and tumbles that went through her belly when she was in his presence, so similar to the tingles and tumbles she had felt as her fingers moved through the slickness, how her body had felt on the edge, much like when his eyes locked onto hers, and the little breaths-

He stole her breath with his mere presence. It was impossible to ignore any longer. It was not love, of that she could be certain, because love between them was impossible - he was rude, a rake, a womanizer, a-

He saw her, he looked right into her soul and he knew her, knew what she wanted in a husband, what she wanted in her life, and he listened to her when she talked about it, about what she did not know and what she wished, and he-

It was not love. She did not know what love was, but it could not be this. No, this was lust. It had to be. He had bewitched her, somehow, and now all she craved was his presence once more, his eyes upon her, being held in his arms…

She had missed their standing lunch appointment, which her mother had cancelled on her behalf, citing that Daphne had looked unwell. They had been to meet for ice cream again, which always brought a new set of desire as she watched him enjoy every bite, but it had given her time to breathe, to rest in her rooms all afternoon. 

She had considered touching herself once more, but… she had already done it three times the night before, each one more unimaginable than the last. She had touched herself until her fingers cramped and she had had to change her nightgown from how damp the fabric felt on her skin, and come the morning, she had hidden the extra nightgown, which she had used to wipe the inside of her legs.

She did not want to explain that to her mother. Not even slightly.

Fluttering her fan in front of her, Daphne tried to ignore how her skin burned as she looked out into the room. Simon was there, his eyes on her, as he stood near Lady Danbury. She licked her lips, remembering the way he had licked the spoon a few weeks past, and imagined him licking her like that, her lips, her fingers, her skin even? She did not fully understand what occured in the marriage bed, still, but now…

The possibilities were endless. She wanted to ask more, to learn from him, to press until he told her everything, but the thought of asking him what came next, now that she knew how it began… She felt faint once more.

“If you are unwell, we can return home,” her mother said beside her.

Turning to look at her mama, Daphne shook her head, then took another deep breath in. She should be thinking about other things, like finding the husband that would actually do such things to her… except, what if he did not? It had taken some time to find that perfect spot, and what if her husband had no interest in such things? Now that she knew it existed, how could she ignore it?

The Prince stood at the foot of the stairs, but Daphne barely acknowledged him with more than a polite nod, walking with her mother towards Lady Danbury. She ignored Simon as she smiled at her mother’s friend, fanning herself as she did so, and then finally, allowed her eyes to look towards the Duke, who was looking at her with some concern.

“My dear, you are flush already,” Lady Danbury said, looking her over. “Are you well?”

Daphne smiled politely, trying to remember how to breathe, but it was hard when he was so close. His hand had moved to her forearm, touching out of concern, and she imagined his fingers trailing higher, to the top of her glove, to drawing it down her arm… “Yes, I am, thank you. I think I might already need to step outside. It is so warm this evening, is it not?”

She went to take her mother’s arm, to be escorted out onto the terrace, when Lady Danbury interrupted her.

“Fetch the girl a drink, Simon, and then escort her out into the cool night air. I shall chaperone.”

It sounded a final decision, one which Daphne could not stop from occurring, and she gave the Lady a polite nod, stepping to her side as Simon bowed, excusing himself to find them all drinks. Her mother hovered a few steps away, clearly allowing Lady Danbury to, indeed, chaperone.

Daphne suspected, of course, that Lady Danbury’s idea of chaperoning was much different from what Anthony would consider to be a chaperone. A good thing her brother was not here, then, except it meant that she would be, in essence, alone with him once more.

Indeed, she now did feel quite faint.

 

Simon did not know what was wrong with Daphne this evening, but at the sight of her at the top of the stairs, all thoughts and plans had disappeared from his mind. After their last promenade, the discussion they had had… it was unacceptable. He never should have allowed this to go so far. The only thing to do, was to end it, before she asked anything else of him that would compromise her further. Telling her of night time activities, of what she could do when she was alone?

When she had cancelled their meeting, or her mother had, he had imagined the worst, that she never wanted to see him again. Of course, it was what he wanted, right? To end this, whatever it was. He was in far too deep, unable to escape his orbit around Miss Daphne Bridgerton. He was still not certain how she had done it, but she had drawn him in, and he was caught by her, always hovering nearby, answering her every whim. He had to end it, without question.

But, for her to withdraw from him… had he pushed it too far? What if she told someone, what he had said. The idea that she might have actually gone through with it had not crossed his mind… of course she would not do such a thing as he had described. She knew so little, her eyes had been wide… she knew nothing of even touching herself! Why would she do such a thing at his urging...

Seeing her, though, at the top of those stairs, she had looked radiant. There had been a glow about her, with her cheeks flushed, the white feather fan in her hand, and he had been unable to look away. Her eyes were locked with his, and for a moment, just a breath of a moment, he imagined that she looked as she did for him, had put in extra care because she wanted to attract him, because - because, she was here to catch a husband… and he was well and truly caught.

She had walked past the Prince, walked past everyone else, until she arrived at his side, although, as she approached, her attention had instead gone to his Lady Godmother, who had that look in her eyes as though she was plotting something, or figuring it out. Simon knew that he should be wary of such a gaze, but when he turned to look at Daphne, she looked near to fainting, her cheeks red from the heat, even her collarbones red with a blush. Her hands were even shaking slightly - the excitement of the evening, then, although he was not certain as to what might have caused it.

Perhaps… perhaps her mother had been correct in cancelling their meeting. Daphne did not look well at all. Well… a part of him thought she looked much like the sun, a glow certain about her, even more so than normal. He knew, however, because he knew her, that her cheeks were never normally as red as her lips. 

A drink, yes, a drink - he went to collect one for himself and one for Daphne, and when he returned to her, he offered her his arm, ready and willing to escort her from the room so that she might collect some air. A pity her elder brothers were not here - surely, she must be here at the urging of her mother. Unacceptable. 

It was not until they stepped out onto the terrace, and he could no longer hear the click of Lady Danbury’s cane, that he realized what had occurred. Played. He had been tricked and maneuvered by the older woman, who seemed to know something she did not, because now, Daphne was looking out into the gardens, her skin still flushed, with him just a step away. They were not alone, of course, as they had a chaperone, but they could speak freely, truly, without a concern of being overheard.

Daphne was paying him no mind, so she was no part of this plan to isolate them. What was it, then, that the older woman saw? She looked tinier than normal, her shoulders hunched, and her hands shaking slightly, the free one wrapping itself up in her skirts. She was still so flushed, the redness running down her neck, onto her chest, and her gaze… it flicked towards him, and then her cheeks darkened once more. To have such a reaction at the sight of him, not the heat then, and not a fever…

Blushing. She was blushing.

Why would she be-

“You are still rather flushed, even in this cool night air. Are you certain you do not want to return home?” he asked politely, hoping she would say yes. It became clear to him, now, what was going on… but how would, how could - how had Lady Danbury known . And know, she had to. Had she overheard the conversation between them? If another observed them, would they suspect that something improper had occurred? 

You are not a real suitor she had said… But, what if he was? Everyone else thought he was… what if…

You will know when you know he had responded to her question about what she was to be looking for. What if… what if…

She had looked up at him with the biggest of eyes when he had mentioned touching yourself, as though she had no true idea… the blush on her skin now… Did she know what it was, then, that happened at night? Did she know what it felt like, to explore your body, to know true pleasure?

Did she know, then, what she wanted from her future husband? What he should make her feel? Who had she thought of, what had she thought of…

They had been so close to one another when he spoke of the pinnacle, of the peak. He had felt her breath on his lips, could see the brilliant diamonds in her eyes, sparkling and shining. She was a true Diamond, and he might not be a real suitor, but in that moment, he had wished he was. He had wished that she imagined those things with him-

It was why he had planned to pull away. It was why he could not.

What was happening between them, it had to end. It had to end now. Before he fell even deeper with her.

“Returning home does not seem the best of ideas,” she finally responded, and he blinked, realizing he had grown lost in his thoughts as he stood there, waiting for an answer. “Being at home right now… no. I think I spent quite enough time alone last night.”

He blinked, staring right at her, and saw that blush once more spreading down the back of her neck, across her back, onto her chest. Her clear embarrassment was adorable, but he craved to know exactly why she was so embarrassed… even though he had a good suspicion.

“And what was it, that you did, while alone last night,” he asked, his voice becoming more and more breathy with each and every word. He should stop this, should walk away now, excuse himself, leave her in the capable hands of Lady Danbury, but he could not. Walking away, it would mean the end of this. He could not walk away from her. Not until he knew about what she had done. Not until he knew whether or not she knew what kind of man to be looking for.

Not until he knew whether or not he stood a chance.

Her breath had caught in her throat, and he watched Daphne drain the glass, then set it upon the terrace wall. He set his own glass there, and then reached towards her, unable to help himself. His fingers touched the silk of her glove on her forearm, and she froze. He watched her gaze, watched how her eyes moved to where he touched, and then her big eyes looked up at him, fear clear in them. Fear, and desire.

“You know exactly what I did,” she breathed out in response, and he could not stop himself as he shifted closer. Their breath mixed in the cold air, and he could nearly taste her. It would be effortless, to kiss her, and he doubted their chaperone would even stop them. “You know exactly what I… what I enjoyed.”

His brain seemed to escape him, all of the blood rushing to other parts of his body, and he wanted to adjust himself, but he could not move, his eyes studying hers as he tried to process her words. He could guess, he could…

“You… enjoyed it, then?” he asked, and he tried to run exactly what he had told her before through his mind. They had been discussing how she would know what to look for in a husband, and it was not something he could teach. It was… “Do you know, then, what you are seeking?”

She took in a deep breath, her chest rising and falling so much that the gems at her throat were sparkling in the lamp light, and he wanted to draw her closer, to draw another noise such as that from her throat. Never before had he been so close to a Lady, to a woman he should not desire, but he did. He craved her. He burned for her.

“Simon,” she whispered.

His name had never sounded so beautiful on her lips.

“Yes?” he asked, and his hand fell from her arm to go to her lower back, meaning to draw her closer.

“A husband… a husband would do such things to me?” she asked, and her eyes were so wide as she looked up at him, so vulnerable. He wanted to tell her the truth, that most men would not, but he would. If he were her husband, he would bring her to that peak over and over again.

“I - A husband would do that, and so much more,” he confirmed, and he wanted to correct himself, to tell her that he would do that to her every day, but he held his tongue.

“But what if-” She cut herself off, and then she was pulling away from him, turning to look out at the gardens. He chased after her a step, his hand resting on the wall beside hers, and he gave her a moment to breathe.

“Ask your question, Daphne,” he murmured into her ear, trying to resist the urge to draw her into his embrace.

“Simon,” she whimpered, whimpered , and he resisted the urge to groan, but he had to know now, would claw at her until he knew what it was she wanted to know, what it was that was on the tip of her tongue.

“Ask me, Daphne. Tell me what it is…” Tell me what you thought of .

Her eyes closed, and he could see her hands shaking. He had to resist the urge to cover them with his own hands, knowing…

They were too close. Far too close. He had chased this for too long. It was not proper. She was trying to find a husband, to start a family. She was trying to find happiness, and love. And he? He was still committed to ending this, to ending all interaction with her. He had to leave London.

Had he not just said as much to Lady Danbury, not ten minutes ago?

“What if… What if the person that makes me feel such things… what if they do not desire me in the same way?” she asked, and her eyes were not on him, instead off in the garden, but he could see it, a tear running down her cheek. She was crying. She was crying for someone. For someone that made her feel such wonderful things.

He had made a vow, a vow of hate, a vow to cruely hurt the man that had destroyed him. That vow had fueled him, year after year, through every lesson, through every goal, through every step he took. His hatred had been what helped him succeed. Had helped him to survive.

Love Conquers All .

It was not love, whatever it was between them, but if Daphne looked at another with love and adoration, he might die. Hate would no longer be enough to keep his heart beating within his chest, for it would surely break.

It would be cruel of him to deny her her Prince… but would the Prince give her pleasure? Would he worship her, worship her very being? Would he enjoy laughing and talking with her? Would he crave her affection and attention? Would he give her every bit of happiness she deserved?

Simon had never been a selfish man, but in this moment… would it be selfish, though, to let himself fall in love with Daphne Bridgerton? To break his vow, to love her, to spend his life with her? Would it be selfish, to want to be the one that gave her eternal happiness?

Fuck. Fuck . The blush on her cheeks, the way she looked up at him, the way that she trusted him. He had been cruel, cruel to himself, to imagine that he might walk away from one such as Daphne Bridgerton. He had endured such cruelty all his life. How could he continue to punish himself, to allow his father’s cruel words to continue. Did he not deserve happiness as well? Did he not deserve to feel the warmth of her sunlight?

“Daphne,” he whispered, his hand reaching up to brush her cheek. He had touched her skin so rarely, she had gasped at his touch, her gaze going immediately up to his. “Daphne… there is no man alive, that does not desire you in all ways.”

Her lips shook, and another tear fell down her cheek as she looked up at him, fear clear in her eyes. “No man?”

He should deny her. He should send her back into the ball, tell her it was over. He should end this, here and now. He should-

He could love her, just like this. He could fall desperately, madly in love with her. He could do it. He would do it. He was already in too deep to escape. He would marry her. 

“You should go home,” he finally said, and he swallowed hard, trying to choke down the words that were eager to spill from his throat.

“I should?” she asked, her eyes flicking between his, surprise clear on her face.

“Yes,” he said, and he prayed for strength as he spoke, withdrawing his hand, trying to resist the urge to pull her to him. “You should go home, and wait, for in the morning… In the morning, a man that is not worthy of you, but would love nothing more than to give you such happiness, will be arriving for tea. If, of course, you will have him.”

She looked on the verge of tears again, and he had to stop himself from kissing them away from her cheeks, had to resist the urge to draw her close and whisper into her skin how much he adored her, how much he desired only her. 

He was going to do this. He would not allow himself to back out now.

If he sent her back into the ball, the Prince would approach, and if he lost her to the prince…

“Simon, please, you must know-”

He took her hand, covered in her silk gloves, and pressed a kiss to the back of it. Oh, how he wanted to draw the fabric from her arms and feel her bare skin once more.

Instead, he withdrew, taking a few steps back.

“Lady Danbury,” he called towards the old woman, who was watching them with her shrewd eyes. “I must escort Miss Bridgerton to her mother. She is still feeling unwell, and must return well.”

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” Lady Danbury said as she approached, looking Daphne over.

“Yes, quite unfortunate to end our evening so early… but I shall call on her first thing, of course, to check on her wellbeing.”

Lady Danbury looked them both over once more, then gave a nod.

“I shall return home as well. Such excitement already this evening. You will escort me, your Grace,” the woman said.

He gave the woman a nod, then offered his arm to Daphne, trying to not say anything else. He had much to plan, much to think about, much-

“Will your brother be home in the morning, Miss Bridgerton?” he asked, looking down at her.

Daphne stiffened slightly, then gave a slight nod.

“Excellent. I think… I think I would speak with him in the morning, after we have visited.”

Daphne tightened her grip on his arm, and he stopped just in the doorway, then looked to Lady Danbury, whose eyes were now up on the balconies above.

“Daphne-”

“Promise me,” she whispered, looking up at him. “Promise me, that you will come in the morning.”

She looked on the verge of tears, on the verge of a smile, and he thought to ask her now, but first… first, they must have a conversation. A conversation that might end their courtship, for good.

“I promise,” he vowed, and for the first time in so long, it was a vow made out of love, not hate. 

Love . Yes… yes, he liked that word indeed.

“Good night, Miss Bridgerton,” he said, seeing her mother approach them where they stood.

“Good night, your Grace,” she said, and she released his arm, going straight to her mother, who was looking at them both with a question in her gaze.

He watched them walk away, then felt the tap of a cane on the side of his leg. He did not flinch, however, his eyes still following Daphne as she and her mother left the ballroom, Daphne’s eyes still wide even as her mother questioned her.

“You made your decision, then,” Lady Danbury asked.

He did not look to the woman, just gave a nod. “I cannot… I can deny it no longer. It was a ruse at first, but-”

The woman snorted, and he shot his gaze over to her, his brow raising.

“The only two people that thought it to be a ruse was the pair of you. Neither of you whisper very quietly. It was a matter of time, however. She will do well, as your wife.”

He swallowed hard, imagining, processing that idea. His wife . Daphne Bridgerton might be his wife .

“Only if she accepts,” he finally said.

“She will.”

 

Daphne felt the world going about her in a blur, until finally, the carriage was arriving home. Her mother stepped out first, then wrapped her arms around Daphne. The woman had been concerned the entire way, asking what was wrong, asking what the Duke had said, had even asked if she should send for Anthony. The memory of Simon mentioning her elder brother was enough to bring Daphne back into the moment, and she nodded as they walked up the steps of their home, her gaze still lost in the distance.

“Yes, mama. It would be best if you send for Anthony.”

Her mother gasped, asking once more what it was that Simon had told her, what he had done, what impropriety…

He had taken her hand, kissed it… 

What had she said, what had she done, to change his mind? How long had he felt the same as she did? Had he felt it from the beginning? No, no. There had been nothing in the beginning, save for a mutual need for the other. 

When had it become something more? When had it all meant more? She had called him not a proper suitor just the day prior, so what had changed? Had it been a change within her? A change within him?

She had dreamt of him… but that meant nothing. Of course not. One could not control their dreams. Dreams were not some sort of sign. No, no, it was simply his proximity to her that caused such dreams, except…

Except, she had desired him, the night before. She had noticed him before that. Had noticed the way that he looked into her eyes, how he had touched her, how he had listened to her, laughed with her. Some of it was for show, of course, to make others believe they were deeply in love, but not all of it. Not the hours of conversation, nor all of the laughter. Some of it had been real, surely. 

Had it all been real? Had they been falling in love since the beginning? Or, had they simply started as friends, and then fallen in love along the way?

“Mama, how do you know that you are in love?” she asked, pausing as they stepped into the house.

Her mother blinked at her, then took her hand gently, leading her towards the stairwell.

“Well… it is a funny feeling, at times. Deep, within your stomach. A fluttering at first, and then something more with time.”

That sounded much like Daphne had experienced the night before, but she doubted that was what her mother meant. It also sounded like when Simon touched her, when he looked into her eyes, when he listened to her. It had started small.

“And then? How do you know that it is true?”

Her mother smiled kindly at her, brushing her fingers over Daphne’s cheek, then gave a nod. “If you are questioning the Duke’s feelings for you, I can tell you, he is the picture of devotion.”

“But it was not real,” she said, interrupting her mother. “None of it. He asked me, if we might have an arrangement, to form an attachment to one another. It would keep the other mamas of the ton from approaching him, and in turn, it would gain me the attention of every eligible bachelor, all wanting to see what it was that made the Duke fall in love with me. It was all entirely a ruse.”

“Whatever do you mean, Daphne? A ruse? It was not all… But-” Her mother sounded flustered, processing what her daughter had just told her, but Daphne heard none of it, turning on the top step to look back at her mother as she spoke.

“Mama… it was never meant to be like this. It was all for show.”

Her mother shook her head, eyes wide as she looked at her daughter. “Daphne, the way that man looks at you… not all of it was show. I have never seen a man so in love.”

Did her mother speak true, or had Simon truly tricked them all?

The fluttering had been building with time, but it went far beyond when she touched herself. Her heart raced when he smiled at her, and she burned for him at times, burned for him to simply look her way. She felt nerves when waiting for his arrival, and grew saddened when their time together came to an end.

She had been pursuing another husband, yes, but why? Because Simon had not wanted a wife? Was that the only reason she had not previously allowed herself to entertain the notion of being his? Because he had never expressed interest?

It had made him feel safe, the idea that he was not by her side because he wanted her , simply that he wanted protection by being at her side. There was no chance of romance, for either of them… and within that, they had become friends. Real and true friends. She enjoyed his conversation, his opinion, his laughter, his knowledge, and his company.

In fact, she enjoyed his company so much… she did not think she could bear it much longer, to be separated from him. To be with him, always. To be his best friend. To be his wife.

If Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings, asked her to marry him… there was only one answer she could give.

“Mama, Anthony must be here in the morning. Simon will need to speak to him. I think… I think he means to ask me to marry him...”

Her mother was silent as Daphne reached her bedroom door, and then, her mother’s voice, a gasped whisper- “Oh thank God.”

Chapter Text

He had been a fool, to resist this for so long. To waste so much time, to pretend that there was not something between them. Of course, in pretending that there was no romantic future between them, he had well and truly fallen in love with her. It was only the thought of pushing her away, and then realizing that she yearned for him, that she wanted him as her husband, that had finally brought him back to reality. He could not step aside. He could not be a better man.

No, he would instead be completely and utterly selfish. He wanted her as his wife. And she… she had confessed her desires to having him as her husband.

He hoped. God above, he hoped.

He had run it over and over through his mind, turning each word, each blush, each glance…

No. He was not wrong in this.

There was no man alive that did not desire her, but he was the only man that she believed to be faking it. He had even said as much, that a man not worthy of her, that desired her of all things would call in the morning… and then told his Godmother that he would, in fact, be calling on Daphne.

He had had much to do in such a short amount of time, but as he stood across from Daphne’s house, watching servant after servant bringing in large vases of flowers… That was what she had asked, had demanded. If we were truly courting, you would buy out every florist in town.

And he had done so. He had bought out every florist in town, every single flower he could get his hands on. He should have done it long ago, but he had clung to that stupid vow, to that promise he had made to his father.

But, the old man was dead, and he would no longer allow his tormentor to control his life. The man had died, believing that his line would end. There was no way his father was looking down from heaven, to see that his son had fallen in love. No, the future belonged to both himself and to Daphne, and he would no longer allow his father, and the resentment he carried, any part in it.

He once more tapped his pocket, making certain that the box was within. Lady Danbury had placed it into his hands almost as soon as they had returned to her home. He had been utterly silent, but she had seen through him, a smirk on her lips. When she had called him into her study, he had been given the jewelry box.

Within was a necklace, lovely and delicate. It looked so familiar… something he had seen on a portrait…

“It belonged to your mother. She left it to me. It was a gift to her, from her mother. I think it would make an appropriate engagement gift. Do you not agree, your Grace?”

He did agree, most wholeheartedly. 

With the necklace in his pocket, and a page sent to every florist in town, Simon had been left with the hardest task of all - to sit down, and gather his thoughts into a certain order. It had always been easier for him, to put ink onto paper, to organize his thoughts with written word over spoken, but as he sat trying to work it out, for the first time, Simon struggled with his pen as well.

He did not know where to start, did not know how to begin. If he married Daphne, she must know that he would not be a good husband, nor a good father - and indeed, until the night before, he had never entertained the thought that he would ever be either. She should know, about his struggles , should know about the vow. He should tell her all things, bare them to her.

Lady Danbury had told him, only two days before, and how had such a short amount of time past it was unreal, that if he had made a decision to not pursue Daphne, then he should step away. He had made that decision, that he would ask if she would marry him, but she deserved all of the facts. A woman in her position… She wanted to marry for love, not for position or wealth. She should know the man that loved her, or at least, wanted to.

He still did not know if he loved her, if he was even capable of it, but he wanted to. He wanted to love her, to be worthy of loving her. He just had to hope that she might hold some affection in return, that it was not just the desire of her body, of having him in her bed.

He had tried to sleep, after abandoning his thoughts, and that had resulted in hours of tossing and turning within the blankets. He had considered, more than once, on reaching for alcohol, but Lady Danbury still had a flask, and he suspected the old woman would be sitting there waiting for him to seek out liquor, likely wanting to talk about his feelings.

Instead, he was once more up and pacing, running ideas through his mind, over and over again. He thought about his father, about his vow, about the one he had made to Lady Danbury so long ago with a simple nod, about how he had promised Daphne he would come to her in the morning-

He looked out the window over and over again, until eventually, he saw the first rays of sunlight. There, then. It was morning. He could go to her now, go to her on his knees and beg her to give him a chance, to allow him to love her, to allow him to someday be worthy of her smile.

He could do this. He could go to her, to his Daphne. 

He had wasted enough time. If he was going to act, he must act now, before another stepped into his place.

He had dressed quickly, and strolled downstairs to see Lady Danbury waiting for him, looking as though she had slept peacefully, rather than sitting up all night, likely waiting to stop him from going to her in the middle of the night. The woman, to think he had no self control. He could control himself. He had done so, just the night before, had he not?

After all, Anthony had not been in attendance at the ball, which meant it would not be appropriate for him to ask Daphne for her hand at such an occasion. No, he had allowed it to wait until morning. He had perfect self control, clearly.

“Did you even sleep?” he asked, reaching for a piece of pastry.

“Did you, your Grace,” Lady Danbury asked, her brow raised. “I’m impressed you lasted until morning.”

He scoffed at her, not willing to sit down, instead hovering near the breakfast table. If he sat down, he would be obligated to stay and have a proper breakfast, and he refused to wait any longer. What if another suitor called? What if there was an issue with the florists? What if-

“And what a glorious morning it is.”

He patted his pocket once more, checking for the necklace, then took another bite of the pastry. He would eat, like a civilized human being, and then ride directly across town to Daphne’s house. He would not even waste time walking. The sooner he was with her-

“The girl will not even be awake and dressed,” Lady Danbury said, scoffing as she picked up her tea cup. “If she even slept at all.”

His heart suddenly stopped at the thought of Daphne in her bedclothes. Of Daphne undressed. He thought about what she had said the night before, about how it had felt, about how her cheeks had been red. She had asked if it would be like that with her husband…

That, and more .

Daphne Bridgerton might be his wife. He would be able to watch those little fingers slide up between her legs, perhaps even covering her hand with his own. He would be able to feel her hand wrapped around his cock, stroking as he rubbed at her little nub. He would be able to watch pleasure spread across her skin, watch her head thrown back, back arching. He would be able to swallow her moans and her pleas in every kiss.

Daphne, in just her bedclothes, waiting for him to arrive.

He set the pastry back down on the tablecloth and spun to leave.

“Your Grace,” Lady Danbury called, but he did not look back over his shoulder. “Your Grace, it is far too- Simon! Oh, honestly. The folly of youth…”

Simon could not stop himself. Not as he donned his coat. Not as he climbed atop his horse. He could not stop himself as he rode across town to the Bridgerton House. He did not stop until he was finally across the street, and watched as bouquet after bouquet was carried within. 

He truly had bought out every florist in the city.

Climbing down from his horse, he went to cross the street, to approach - and then stopped.

Sitting there, at the front window, he could just barely make out a shape. It was still so early, the reflection of the light upon the glass a bright reflection, but still, he could make it out. Long hair curling, a soft and willowy form. He knew those hands, fingers folded together as her forearms rested on her raised knees. He knew that elegance, that grace.

He knew from where he stood, across the street, that Daphne was awake, sitting in the window. He could only hope that she was looking for him.

With renewed courage, He tied up his horse and crossed the street, stepping around servants and maids carrying in the flowers he had purchased. The vases looked to be everywhere, being carried up the stairs, into various rooms like the dining room and the drawing room, with various wait staff looking overwhelmed as more and more filled the space.

He was not announced, did not look towards the steward nor the housekeeper, and instead, looked to the top of the stairs. Standing there in her housecoat, likely over her night dress, was the woman that consumed all his thoughts. She looked a vision, radiant, a glow about her as she smiled down at him, and he smiled back.

“Your Grace, we were not expecting you so early,” called a voice that he recognized, but he could not look away from Daphne, could not look away from her brilliant smile. 

“My apologies, Lady Bridgerton, but I could not wait any longer,” he said, still looking up at Daphne, who had not moved from her place at the railing.

They could only see one another, and he grinned even brighter as she bit her lip, smiling down at him.

“Daphne, you look a fright! Did you even sleep, my dear? Your Grace, please forgive her, she is still not quite well. Give her a moment to dress, and we shall meet you in the drawing-”

“She looks a vision, madam,” he said, interrupting her mother. “Does she not? Absolute perfection. An angel, in truth.”

There was absolute silence for a moment, and then he saw Lady Bridgerton step to her daughter’s side. Daphne finally looked away from him, but he could see her cheeks going flush. She was clearly trying to stop her mother from something, but-

“Lady Bridgerton. Might I have a few minutes of your daughter’s time? Alone.”

There was only one reason for a man to request to speak to a woman alone, unchaperoned. Only one occasion at all. He knew it. Lady Bridgerton knew it. Even the maids, who had all suddenly frozen around them, knew it.

“I… Daphne?” her mother asked, breathing out. “Anthony is not… he has not yet arrived.”

Daphne was looking at him once more, a smile blossoming over her cheeks, and she began walking across towards the stairs, seeming to glide down towards him as she did so. “Then you must send for him, mama, as I think his Grace may need a few moments of his time.”

Simon could feel his heart bursting in his chest as she finally approached him, but he did not step towards her, instead gesturing towards the Drawing Room. A flutter of maids all suddenly stepped around them as they exited, and then Daphne was entering, Simon a half step behind her. Daphne had stopped a few steps into the room, seeming to take it all in, and he paused, looking at the door.

Taking a deep breath, he looked out, seeing the delighted faces of Daphne’s mother and the housekeeper. He gave them both a nod, and then shut the door.



Daphne had been unable to sleep.

At first, she had thought that the racing of her heart would eventually exhaust her, but eventually, she had had to accept the inevitable - she would not sleep. Not until she saw Simon again. Not until she saw if he kept his vow to her.

She had tried touching herself again, but then pulled her hand away. She had been unable to even look him in the eye that evening, after having touched herself to thoughts of him. What if she was unable to look at him again?

Instead, she had spent the night up, walking, pacing.

At first, Eloise had kept her company, and while Eloise had rambled on about nothingness that Daphne did not understand, it still gave her comfort, to have another with her. Eloise was replaced by Rose, who kept giggling off and on, which then made Daphne’s cheeks turn red. Once, Rose had whispered Your Grace , and that had been enough to make Daphne completely lose it with laughter - until she had sent Rose away and broken down in tears.

What if Simon did not come? What if he broke his promise? They had never planned for this, had never planned for it to be real, had never planned to fall for one another…

He had sent her home. He had done that, after telling her that there was no man that would not want her - had told her that a man that wanted to give her happiness would come to call. He had then told Lady Danbury that he would be calling on her in the morning.

Was she reading too much into it?

No. No!

No, Simon… he would come in the morning. He had said he would. He was coming, he had to, he-

She had spent the last few hours sitting in the window, staring out, waiting for the sun to arrive.

And when it did, so too did the flowers.

She had seen the first cart to arrive, overlaid with flowers, and Daphne had to assume that a proposal had been made at the ball the night before, after she had left. Except, the cart stopped in front of her house. 

And then another cart. And another. And another.

In fact, it looked like every florist in town had sent flowers.

Her hands had shaken, as she had drawn on her housecoat over her nightgown, and when she went down the stairs, it had taken more than once to find her voice, to ask the housekeeper who the flowers were for, and who had sent them.

“They’re for you, my Lady,” the housekeeper had gasped, taking in the carts that were all outside of the house. “From the Duke of Hastings.”

It had taken two maids to keep Daphne upright as she burst into tears, seeing them all.

Simon… he had well and truly bought out every florist in town. Just as she had mentioned, all those weeks ago.

They had helped her back to her room, where she forced herself to brush her hair and wash her face. He said he would come to tea, which felt so far away, but had also mentioned morning - it was morning now, was it not? How long would she have to wait?

She had nearly dressed, but her mother had only just risen from her bed. As soon as her mother came to her, she would ask the woman’s opinion on which dress to wear, and until then, would sit in the window, watching as more and more flowers arrived.

And then, across the street - she could see him. He was looking towards the house, looking at her window, she imagined. He was here. He had kept his promise, had come to her-

Daphne knew she should dress, but that was not important. Simon had told her he would come, and he had indeed come. She would not keep him waiting for even a moment.

Seeing him standing there in the entry hall, her face had hurt. He was grinning up at her, a true smile on his face, and she wanted to cry at the beauty of it, at how relaxed he looked, how at peace. There had always been a bit of tenseness to his shoulders, but it was now gone. Whatever burden had tied him down, it had been released.

“Daphne, are you certain that you do not want to dress?” her mother had asked her, grabbing her hand.

“And keep him waiting?” Daphne had responded, finally looking at her mother. She felt her cheeks turn red, but she pushed it down. “Mama… You know why he has come. And I know how I will answer. I do not want to wait even a minute longer.”

Her mother gave her a nod and pressed her lips to her daughter’s forehead, and then, Daphne had gone to him, forgetting everything else, even the words that passed her lips as she entered the drawing room, and saw all of the flowers.

She heard the door close behind them, but Daphne did not turn towards him, instead taking in the vision that was the drawing room, covered in flowers. Every surface had a vase, a basket, something, anything to hold every bouquet. It smelled like a garden within the room, and she closed her eyes, breathing it in, breathing in the moment.

“Daphne…” he said behind her, and she had to resist the shiver that ran down her spine. Instead, she turned to look at him, to see him still frozen where he stood by the door.

“You came,” she said, and she had to resist the urge to go to him.

He seemed to think about his words for a moment, as though her simple phrase had meant something, and then he nodded, stepping forward. His hand reached out for a breath, and then he jerked it back, his gaze hitting the floor. “Yes, I- I made a vow to you. I would never break it.”

Something about those words felt monumental, and she waited for him to say something more, but when he did not, she turned away from him, walking towards some of the flowers arranged on the pianoforte. She could hear his footsteps behind her, but she did not turn, instead touching a few of the petals.

“You once told me” he said, his voice deep and warm as he stepped behind her, so close she could feel his coat touching the back of her housecoat, “that if you and I were truly courting, that I would buy out every florist in the city.”

She swallowed down her gulp, remembering how he had responded. Her cheeks turned a brilliant red and she ducked her head, taking in another breath through her nose before she answered.

“I did, your Grace. And… it looks as though you have done so.”

She wanted to look at him so badly, but instead, she let her eyes close as she felt, then, his hand touching hers. It felt strange, the warmth of his touch on her bare skin, and she took in a sharp breath. His touch paused, and then it continued, until he was turning her with a slight touch, turning her body so that she was facing him, lifting her hand so that he could press a kiss to the back of it.

Her eyes opened to look up at him, to see that his gaze was entirely on where his lips had just pressed, and then he was stepping back, no longer so close to her. She already felt a loss of warmth at the loss of his proximity, although he still held her hand, but she said nothing as he led her to the sofa.

Sitting down on it, Daphne looked up at Simon, watching as he seemed to move to sit beside her, and then instead rising back up again, taking a few steps away after releasing her hand, and then returning to walk towards her.

“Daphne.”

The way he said her name sounded more question than statement, and she lifted her chin, looking at him with big eyes. He had said he would never marry, although he had never given her a reason, and had even repeatedly said he would never marry her. This must be quite a significant change for him, for him to be so unable to say the words…

But, if Daphne were the one to ask, she thought the words might burst from her lungs before she had even filled them with air. She was brimming with the desire to simply say yes… 

Unless, that was not what he had to say.

Courting. Perhaps he was simply here to start courting. But then… they could not be alone. And Anthony, why would he need Anthony, if not to discuss her dowry. Why-

“Daphne, I must tell you something, but it shall be hard for me to get out. I must beg of you, please allow me to finish.”

Nodding, Daphne pressed her lips together. She wanted to reach out to him, to take his hand, to draw him in, but he looked like a dog kept in a cage, unable to escape, pacing back and forth as he worked through his thoughts.

“I tried… Dammit, Daphne, I tried to write it down, but the words, for the first time, they would not come to me. I thought to be more elegant in my explanation, thought that I might slowly ease you into the truth, but I must instead state it plainly, for I can not, I will not ask you what I must, unless you know everything.”

She nodded, her hands going into her lap, and she tangled her fingers together, watching him as he paused, just a few steps away, his eyes wide as he looked at her.

“I never thought to be a husband. I made a vow to my father, a wretched and cruel man, that I would take no wife, and have no children, but you-”

He cut himself off, his hand going over his mouth as he laughed, and he looked near to drunk, or perhaps flushed, or angry, or-

“You came into my life, Daphne Bridgerton, and I find that the vow I made myself, to become better than him, to end his line… It was a vow based on hate. Hatred, which led to loneliness. I was content to lead a life of loneliness, but now that I have shared just a fraction of time with you-”

He cut himself off again, and he laughed, shaking his head as he looked at her. She swallowed, trying to process what he was even saying - how could a father be cruel to his child, so cruel that the child would not want to be a father himself. If he did not want children, then he would obviously not want a wife, but-

“How can I return to my darkness when I have known what it is to look at the sun. How can I walk away from you, when I have seen such brilliance, it truly leaves me breathless. How can I allow you to even give another man your smile, when I wish only to be the one to place it there.”

Her lips parted, and she forgot her promise to remain silent, All she could do was whisper his name. “Simon…”

“I have never been one to enjoy flirting, or chatting, or indeed talking at all. But with you… conversation has always been easy. Your laughter, it brings me such joy. I know we said that there could never, would never be romance between us, but when we removed it, with time, I think we have found something far greater. We have found friendship.”

She swallowed hard, nodding, her hands starting to shake in her lap. Yes, yes, they had friendship, but what she felt for Simon… the word friendship would never do.

“Daphne, you and I, we have been fooling all of Mayfair with this ruse, but in truth, I have enjoyed your company so greatly, that I could not stay away from you. When I realized that I had grown too close, I decided that I must push you away, so that you might marry a Prince, but then- Daphne, at the thought of you marrying another - I did not want you to be my friend. I wanted you to be my wife.”

He stepped towards her, then, and sank down onto the couch beside her, and reached out his hand. She shakily led go of her own and took it, letting her hand slide into his.

“I want you to be my wife,” he repeated, his eyes locked on hers.

Her lips parted again, and she wanted to say something, anything, but it felt as though all words were trapped within her. He had not asked her a question, but she wanted to scream yes all the same. She wanted to tell him beautiful words, of how she burned for him, how she felt on fire even now as he looked into her very soul.

“Daphne,” he breathed out, and his hand tightened on hers slightly.

“Ask me,” she whispered, her words more air than tone. “Ask me.”

He smiled at her, something brilliant, something bright and blinding. He had called her the sun, and said he would be in darkness - no, he was the moon, for when she smiled, she saw his bright reflection back at her, the brightness within him, as though he lit up in her presence.

“Simon, please ask your question,” she finally found the words to say, and she felt a tear run down her cheek.

His free hand raised to touch her cheek, brushing it away, and then he leaned forward, his eyes entirely on hers. She could not breathe as he looked at her, looked into her very soul.

“Daphne… will you do the honor of being my-”

She could resist it no longer, leaning forward to kiss him, cutting off his words. He did not move as she then jerked away, too stunned at her own action, and she wanted to apologize for cutting him off, for not answering, for-

He kissed her back, the hand on her cheek going to the back of her neck, and within seconds, he was pulling her closer. She slid across the couch to him, her arms going around his shoulders, gripping into his coat as he pulled her to him. Her legs were half over his before she could even think, and he was kissing her lips, her cheeks, her jaw. A gasp escaped her as his hand slid over her backside, down the side of her buttox, and she heard a whimper escape her as his teeth grazed her throat.

He growled, oh God he growled into her skin, and she felt wetness between her thighs in response. A high pitched whine escaped her, and she wanted to be underneath him, spread out on the couch, allowing him to touch, to explore, to show her more, to show her what it might be between a husband and wife, what it would be like between them.

He seemed an animal, finally let free from his cage, and she was his willing captive, moaning and gasping in his arms.

His hands slid over her back, up and down, as though searching for a way through, and she thought about sliding her housecoat off and down her arms, so that he might reach the laces.

One arm dropped as she clung to him with the other hand to keep herself upright, and then the coat slid down from her arm enough that it hung loose from the other shoulder. His hand immediately went to the top of her nightdress, and she felt his leg lift as though hitching her up higher into his lap. Something, something brushed between her legs, and she realized then how high her night dress had risen, but she did not care.

No, all she cared about was the delicious feeling of Simon’s hand sliding down the back of her night dress, the other gathering it up in search of something underneath. She hoped, prayed , that he found it, that he-

“Mama, what are all of these flowers?” came Anthony’s voice from outside the drawing room door.

Within a half of her racing heartbeat, Daphne flew from Simon’s lap, turning and walking away from him quickly as she grasped at her housecoat, quickly drawing it back up onto her arm and upwards, covering herself. Her face felt on fire, her chest rising and falling quickly with every breath and every beat of her heart. She could not turn and look, simply heard Simon rising from the couch, and then the door opening.

“Hastings. Daphne! My God, are you still in your nightdress? What are the two- where is your chaperone?”

Daphne turned, taking in another shaky breath, and she could see Simon, also breathing hard, taking a few steps back from her brother. The same brother that now looked angry, looking between them, the question clear on his face. 

“What… what is going on in here?”

“A moment, please,” Simon said, looking back towards her. “I have just asked your sister a question, and desire it’s answer.”

She sucked in a breath, her eyes going from Simon to Anthony, and she placed her hands over her cheeks, trying to calm how hot and red they felt even now. “I-”

“A question? What question?” Anthony demanded, looking between them now.

“I believe I cut you off before,” Daphne said, her eyes going from Anthony back to Simon. “Anthony, will you please allow Simon to finish his question.”

Anthony did not, however,  move.

“Anthony, dear, please leave your sister to her question and-”

Her mother entered the room, then looked between the two of them. Daphne could feel her face turning red once more, and her mother’s eyes went wide, her hands then going to Anthony’s shoulders. “Come. You shall speak to the Duke once he has finished talking to Daphne.”

“But mama,” Anthony said, and he looked to be resisting, although not very much.

Benedict then stuck his head within the room, giving them both a nod, then grabbed the door handle. “Well then. Carry on… or perhaps not. All of us were standing just outside the door when Anthony came in… and we noticed it had become rather quiet in here.”

He gave them another nod, then shut the door, leaving them both to silence.

Taking in another deep breath, Daphne walked across the room towards Simon. He was frozen where he stood, looking at her as though near afraid - no. No, that look in his eyes was not fear. It was something far more dangerous, she thought.

She reached out towards him, her hands taking one of his, and she stood before him, a smile sliding over her lips.

“Simon. I must apologize for interrupting you. I think you were asking me… something wondrous, which I fully intend to answer yes to, but -”

Her breath cut off as she looked up at him, waiting for his response, waiting for his question.

He blinked down at her, then lifted his free hand to her cheek. His thumb brushed over it, where there had earlier been tears, and then his thumb brushed over her lips. He seemed to be painting her with his eyes, and she remembered what her mother had said - devotion .

Simon looked at her with devotion .

“Daphne Bridgerton, you have consumed me. I cannot live another day without you in it. Will you do me the greatest honor, and give me the greatest gift, by becoming my wife?”

 

In truth, Simon could think of no better death than being between Daphne Bridgerton’s legs. Having her atop him, having her kiss him , having her kiss him , having her in his arms, undressing herself as he sought to touch her-

His words had all come out in a blur, a melody of words strung together, held together by absent thought, and he had feared, as he spoke them, that none of them made sense, that nothing made sense, but it seemed to not matter, for he did not even have the entire question from his lips before she was launching herself into his arms.

Her kiss was hard at first, then timid and shy, and he had been unable to resist her any longer. The sounds from her lips, the little gasps and whimpers, the way her body had molded to his-

Surely, this was death. A wonderful death.

He had had his hands slipping lower on her skin, wanting to touch more of her. He had felt her grinding on his leg, could even feel the slight dampness, and he was crass enough even now to know that he wanted a smell, a taste of her. God, if he could reach high enough, he would slide his fingers between her legs, exploring, touching, tasting-

The sound of Anthony Bridgerton’s voice was enough to send his entire body into shock, and he froze, watching as Daphne flung herself from his lap and across the room, leaving Simon to quickly stand and turn his body away from the door, hoping that the spot on his pants was not visible, nor the bulge that had grown at the very front.

Gods be damned, to think that Bridgerton would cockblock him so thoroughly-

He could not even turn and look at his friend, not knowing what to say. He wished he could tell Anthony that he had just proposed, and his sister had accepted… except, that was not what had happened. She had interrupted him, given no answer, and now, they were far apart from one another.

“A moment, please. I have just asked your sister a question, and desire an answer,” he finally said, the words wanting to choke themselves in his throat.

He heard nothing more, just saw the redness in her cheeks, the way her chest rose and fell, even how she could barely look at him for longer than a second. It looked much the same as the night before, and he felt somewhat the same, except - except now, now , he knew what she sounded like. He had felt her in his arms. He was so close to having her, to making her his.

Now, he just had to have the courage to ask it once more.

She walked to him slowly, and he watched each step, until eventually, she stood before him, so close that he could see every little freckle on her nose, the way that her eyes were flickering between his, even how her lips quivered slightly, looking fuller and nearly bruised from their kissing.

“Simon. I must apologize for interrupting you. I think you were asking me… something wondrous, which I fully intend to answer yes to, but -”

Yes. Yes . She intended to say yes . Now all he had to do was ask her the question.

His eyes slid over her face, taking her in. He looked at the loose waves in her hair, which had been curls last night. He looked at her lashes, so long and framing her beautiful eyes. He looked at her perfect lips, so pouted, soft, with a taste he would never forget. He looked at her cute little nose, and he wanted to kiss the tip of it. He looked at the way she looked up at him, as though she saw no one but him, as though she dreamed of him, almost as much as he dreamed of her.

His free hand lifted to her cheek, brushing over the soft skin. His thumb caught a tear, running from her eye, and he made a quiet vow to himself that he would do everything in his power to prevent more tears spilled on his behalf. His hand slid lower, his thumb running over her lips, and her lips pursed enough to kiss the pad of it. 

Oh, how he envied even his thumb in this moment, the same thumb that just a few minutes before, had been running under her night dress, lifting it higher and higher in search of a greater prize.

How could he have ever thought that what he felt for her was anything other than love? No, this was love, this all consuming madness, this need for her, this inability to stay away. He well and truly loved this woman, and he intended to spend the rest of his life proving it.

“Daphne Bridgerton, you have consumed me. I cannot live another day without you in it. Will you do me the greatest honor, and give me the greatest gift, by becoming my wife?”

She said nothing, her lips parted, and then he watched as her mouth spread into a smile, lips working to form the word yes. Nothing came from them, though, no sound, and instead she started nodding, nodding and laughing and smiling.

He smiled back at her so hard his face hurt, and then he was laughing with her. His hands fell from her, and instead went around her waist, picking her up and spinning in place. She was laughing harder, and then it started to come tumbling from her lips, likely words she herself had wanted to organize the night before, but now were all just spilling from her.

“Yes, Simon, yes, yes I’ll be your wife, and you are not in darkness, you are the moon that I look up, and oh my, yes, yes-”

He kissed her again, holding her tight in his embrace, and then he pressed another kiss to her forehead, to her eyelid, to the tip of her nose. She was still smiling all the while, a brilliant smile on her face, and when he pulled back slightly, her eyes opened to look up at him.

“I have something for you,” he said, and he set her back down onto the floor, then reached into his pocket. Withdrawing the box, he opened it slowly, showing the necklace to Daphne, his future wife. Her eyes went wide immediately, and he reached into the box, withdrawing it. “It belonged to my mother.”

She took in a deep breath in surprise, and Simon moved behind her, draping the chain covered in jewels around her throat. It took a moment for him to work the clasp, but once he had it, Daphne’s hand rose to touch it as her body leaned back against his.

“It was a gift from her mother, and she left it to Lady Danbury, her dearest friend. She thought it might make a lovely gift to celebrate our… our engagement.”

He could not even believe the words coming from his lips, and Daphne turned in place, looking up at him, grinning from ear to ear.

“Our engagement,” she repeated. “We’re going to be married.”

He nodded, and then the door opened once more, more Bridgertons interrupting.

“Almost done in here?” Colin asked, and Simon did not look away from Daphne, who was now running her hands down his chest. “Anthony is already drinking, so if you are looking to discuss her dowry, best to do it soon, before he refuses to give you anything.”

“I will not accept a dowry,” Simon said, and he had not considered it before, but now, now he was loath to even leave Daphne’s presence. “I have no need for the funds, and your brother has three other sisters to marry off. Anything else your brother wants to discuss… tell him that I am still talking to my future wife.”

Daphne did not look away even as she blushed, and he had to resist the urge to run his fingers into her hair, wanting to pull her back into his arms, never wanting to let her go.

“Hmmm,” Colin said, and Simon could feel the Bridgerton boy’s eyes on him. “Have you two been kissing?”

“Colin!” Daphne gasped, looking away from him, and then she reached for a pillow from the sofa, throwing it at the doorway.

Simon could not help but to laugh.

Chapter Text

It was so strange, to think that she was engaged. The necklace that Simon had placed upon her neck not even an hour earlier was still sitting there while Rose helped her dress in her finest gown, something fitting to go and greet Lady Danbury. Simon was waiting for her downstairs, chatting with her brothers still, likely about her Dowry, which Simon was refusing to accept, and the welcoming of him into their family.

Engaged. Engaged to Simon. Engaged to be a Duchess. It still felt like some sort of fairy tale. No longer was she living a ruse, no longer was she harboring a secret, nor was she out selecting a future husband. No, everything was now out of her hands - her future was set. Was made.

She should feel some sense of peace, some sense of settlement, acceptance, but instead - 

All Daphne could think about was his kiss.

Well, his kiss, and so much more.

All she could think about was the way his hands had moved over her skin, exposing it to his touch. How he had pulled aside her housecoat, how it had fallen from one arm so that his fingers could touch the back of her nightdress. She thought about how his fingers had gathered the fabric of the skirt, lifting and raising it. She thought about how firm his body felt beneath her hands… and beneath her legs. She thought about how she had rocked against him like a common girl, seeking pleasure. She thought about kissing him again-

And waiting. How was she supposed to wait to do that again?

Of course, now that they were engaged to be married, they would have a bit more leniency. Now, they could enjoy private conversations with their chaperones only just within vision. Most things would be overlooked. That stated, she would still have to say good night to him each day; would not be able to spend every moment with him. She would not be able to sneak away to ask him about touching herself again, nor would she be able to feel his strong hands touching her body.

She wanted to know what his hands could do, what they could do between her legs. She wanted to know what it would be like to have someone else touch her, explore her. She wanted to know what it would be like to have his eyes staring into her very soul while he slid her hands lower on her body. She wanted to know what he looked like underneath his clothes. She wanted to know what it was like when he touched himself. She wanted to touch him, to explore him as he explored her. She wanted-

“And to marry for love! Oh, Daphne, it truly is everything you ever wanted.”

Daphne’s cheeks were once again inflamed as she checked back in with what her mother was saying. She was happy, of course, and in love, but her mother was talking about how romantic it was, and how she would have children and be happy, and how everything was perfect, and the Duke was the perfect man for her.

A part of Daphne was happy. Of course she was. Her feelings for Simon had no true description - yes, she loved him, was in love with him, but this was so much more. It felt all consuming, all powerful, overwhelming at times even. She craved his presence, even now whilst he sat downstairs. She yearned for him, for his touch. It left her breathless, this desire to be with him.

A month. She must wait a month for the wedding banns to be read. Who had come up with such an idea? If a couple agreed to be wed, then they should be wed immediately! What if he changed his mind, what if something happened, what if-

A month! How could she wait a month?

“Are you alright, my dear? You are once again so flush. Oh, you surely did not get enough sleep last night. It can wait a day, to go and see Lady Danbury. You should be abed, not getting dressed to go out.”

Daphne sighed and looked over towards her mother, who was draped across the foot of Daphne’s bed, fanning herself.

“There is nothing wrong with me, mama. I am simply eager to be wed. It has taken far too long for Simon and I to accept our feelings, and it already feels as though we have wasted such time.”

She wanted to be married now… but, a special license was only applied for in the rarest of circumstances. Sometimes, it was because there was a desire for a wedding ceremony to occur at home, at a different point of the day… and sometimes, it was because a Lady’s honor was in question. 

But… Daphne had no desire to put on a show for the wedding. That was what the breakfast reception was for. The wedding… she wanted intimate. Her siblings were enough, and Simon did not have a great number of family himself, only mentioning a friend, and of course Lady Danbury.

There was no need for a large ceremony, no need for a later time in the day, and so, they would go the normal course… except, the normal course took time. Time that Daphne did not want to waste.

“This is how things are, my dear,” her mother said, rising up from the bed to walk towards Daphne. “It will give us time to plan, time for you to grow used to the idea of being a wife, a Duchess.”

Daphne snorted, annoyed. She did not need time to grow used to the idea of being a wife - she had dreamed of nothing else for so long. And the idea of being a Duchess? Well, she would know nothing about it, until she had become one.

“I simply… I do not want to wait,” she said, not certain how to elaborate. “The Duke and I… I…”

She did not want to tell her mother how much she craved his body, particularly given how little she and her mother had discussed such things, but then her mother cut her off, thankfully saving Daphne from having to explain herself.

“I understand, my dear. Your father and I… well, we have eight children. It was quite a passionate marriage. But, we waited the four weeks, although, I will admit that at times, we may have… snuck away…”

Daphne’s breath caught at the thought of sneaking away with Simon to get a moment alone. Perhaps she could involve some of her siblings to distract their chaperone, but-

“But you, my dear, can wait.”

Daphne nodded, swallowing, and then turned to look in the mirror. Her hair was perfectly brushed and resting over one shoulder, the dress she wore had the perfect neckline for the necklace she wore, and her cheeks, while flushed, had started to settle. She looked picture perfect, a future Duchess.

She just hated the future part.

“Come, my dear. We must not keep the Duke waiting,” her mother said, touching Daphne’s shoulder.

Daphne jumped slightly, brought back into the moment, then gave her mother a nod. Rose was just a step behind, her approved chaperone until she was at the home of Lady Danbury, who would then assume the role of chaperone. Until then, Daphne would be in the open carriage, while Simon was on his horse, riding beside her. 

After all, they were only engaged. No displays of any sort of affection would be allowed.

Except, Simon did not seem to approve of such things himself, for when Daphne came down the stairs, he immediately halted in his conversation, and came to her directly. Daphne took his hand, allowing him to help her down the last few steps, and he bent down to kiss the back of it, and then draw her close to him, as though he could not be apart.

“Ah, your Grace, please remember, the two of you are not yet wed. A bit more space would be appropriate,” her mother chastised. It sounded more like a tease than anything else, but Daphne still withdrew her hand, giving Simon a smile.

“Are you ready to go, my dear?” he asked her.

“I am.” She took his arm, as was offered to her, and allowed him to lead her out towards the carriage, where Rose was already waiting for her. “Although… I wish we could spend a few more moments alone together.”

The look that Simon gave her told her that he might, perhaps, feel the same way. She felt her heart dance within her chest as he helped her up into the carriage, pressing another kiss to the back of her hand as he did so. Then, with a bit of flourish, he climbed atop his horse. 

All Daphne could do was stare.

 

Simon was still in a bit of a daze as they arrived at Lady Danbury’s home. 

He was engaged to Daphne Bridgerton. Daphne was to be his wife. He had told Daphne the truth, and she had kissed him. He had had her in his lap, had touched enough of her that he was quite certain it was not a dream, and now, she was going with him to tell the closest thing that he had to a mother that he was engaged.

He had never thought this day would come - truly, he had never thought it possible that he would ever wed. A part of him was still unsure, wondering if he would be enough to make her happy, if he even could make her happy… but the smile she had worn, how bright her eyes shined even now, he had to hope that he would be enough.

Make her as happy as she made him.

Climbing down from his horse, Simon immediately went to the carriage, climbing up before it had even come to a complete stop and opening the door. Daphne took his hand immediately, another beautiful smile clear on her lips, and he lifted her down with his hands going to her waist, so that Daphne was left to pick up her skirts so they were not tangled on the steps.

“I hope you are here to bring me good news,” called out Lady Danbury.

Simon turned, his arm going out towards Daphne as he did so, to see his Godmother approaching. She was practically running in his eyes, moving far faster than he had ever seen before.

“Come in, come in. I want you to tell me all about it.”

Simon looked down at his fiancee, his future wife , and led her into the home, following Lady Danbury. A spread for lunch was already out, with two extra places set - it appeared that Lady Danbury had been far more optimistic than even Simon had been.

Daphne, with all of her grace, did not even seem surprised, simply folding herself into her seat. Simon had never seen a true Duchess before, having been raised by a Nanny and then in schools, but he had always imagined a Duchess to be somewhat like Lady Danbury, in that they commanded everyone’s attention, but also somehow more delicate in their words, more graceful, not quite as demanding.

She truly would be perfection.

He said nothing as lunch was served, and Daphne began telling Lady Danbury about the proposal - and then proceeded to tell the woman of the whole ruse. She spoke of their original idea, leaving out the fact that Daphne had punched that fool in the garden, and Simon had seen them. She spoke of how she had noticed the Duke’s calm presence, how she enjoyed the dancing, and then how she had grown more fond of him over time.

“I did not even realize it until we spoke of finding a proper husband for me, now that I had the attention of the ton,” Daphne was saying, her cheeks coloring. She had yet to mention their conversation while on promenade, the one where he had told her about touching herself . “I was forced to consider the kind of man I would want to marry, to spend my life with… and I realized that I wanted a friend. A friend that I could converse with, laugh with… and it was Simon.”

Daphne’s attention then turned back to him, and Simon could do nothing but smile at her, his face nearly hurting. It was so real, so genuine, and he felt his shoulders relax. With every passing moment, more and more weight seemed to be lifted off of him. She did that. She took his pain away. With every smile, every touch, every kiss

“I’m sorry, what was that?” Simon asked, turning his attention back towards Lady Danbury, who had just called his name for likely a second or third time.

“I said, are you thinking of having the wedding on Wednesday or Thursday? There is another ball Friday, and I doubt you will want to wait until next week.”

Simon blinked, the words processing, then raised his brow before looking towards Daphne, who’s eyes had gone very wide, and her face very red.

“We… had not discussed it. I was intending on returning to my estate, to make certain the house is prepared for the future Duchess and I to take up residence there, for at least a few months, before returning for the end of the season.”

Lady Danbury raised her eyebrow, and he could feel the scathing remarks and her judgement already. “You do not intend to apply for a special license?”

Simon did not look towards Daphne, for if he did so… he would have to confess the truth to her. And in doing so, he would reveal far too much to their current chaperone. No, it was for the best that they have some time apart. He felt wild for his wife, losing all sense of control over himself, and so the distance would allow him to gather his wits. He did not want to lose himself immediately once he was alone with her. 

“It… I…”

Of all the times for him to struggle to consider his words, and Lady Danbury just charged forward.

“A traditional month long engagement is for girls with old husbands, or those with an ugly bride. Your courtship, no matter how much of a ruse you intended it to be, was long enough. A long engagement as well? No, people will talk. You’ll apply for the special license.”

Simon felt himself sit rigid in his chair, and finally looked towards Daphne. Daphne’s face was turned down towards her plate, her hands in her lap, and her face very red. He wanted to ask her what she wanted - after all, it was her wedding, and her wedding reception. He had thought it would be something small, but what if she wanted something more? Would a few days even be enough to plan?

“The two of you should discuss it. Excuse me a moment.”

Simon shot up from his chair as Lady Danbury rose, half because it was proper behavior, and half because he wanted to stop the woman. Their chaperone, leaving the room… it was… they were…

The woman seemed to move with a speed he had never before seen, and then, Daphne and Simon were left sitting alone in the dining room, without even a servant or a butler to look on.

“Is there a reason you want to wait a month?” Daphne asked politely, picking at her plate some. Her  eyes were still upon the half eaten food, and he wanted to draw her back to him, draw her attention entirely back onto him.

He said nothing for a moment, then just swallowed. The need to kiss her, to touch her, to-

“No. There is no reason. I just thought you would require such time, so as to prepare your wardrobe and your dress, and-”

“Mama has had many things ready for many weeks,” Daphne said, interrupting him. She licked her lips, and his eyes followed that movement, his heart stopping him where he stood. “I am not opposed to a long engagement, if you have such desires or a great need, but… the thought of…”

She seemed to lose her breath, everything catching in her throat, and he wanted to push further, to ask what it was… and then her cheeks colored further. In fact, it was spreading down her neck, to even her chest. Whatever she was thinking of… well, he knew what he was thinking of in that moment.

“I do not want to wait a month until you are my wife,” Simon said, taking a moment to be brave. “I would wed you this very day if you would allow it.”

Daphne said nothing, her chest rising and falling as her eyes remained now on her lap, where her hands had gathered. 

“I had thought to leave, to wait out the month, because the thought of being around you, but unable to touch you…”

A noise came from Daphne, a gasp, and he feared he had gone too far, but now she was looking up at him, her eyes wide and her lips parted. 

“Simon, I beg of you, do not leave for a month. A month away from you… I could not bear it.”

He felt his heart aching in his chest, and he stepped forward, reaching down to take both of her hands into his. He did not touch her further, and maintained a distance as much as he could manage, but it hurt him, wanting to feel her once more, to continue his earlier exploration…

“Say the word, Daphne, and I will go and apply for a special license today.”

She said nothing as she looked up at him, and then, a tiny nod. It was enough, and he nodded in response, smiling weakly at her.

And then, to his horror, she burst into tears.

Concern immediately filled him, and Simon dropped to one knee, her hands still in his as his face was lowered to her height. “What is it, Daphne? Why are you sad? Are you afraid? What could possibly be the matter?”

“I’m not sad ,” she gasped at him, and then, she sounded nearly mad. “And I’m not afraid.”

“Well, now you sound angry,” he said, his voice filled with the confusion he felt. “And you are flush. I had thought it for another reason, but now you are upset with me.”

“I am not angry!” Daphne shrieked, and she was most assuredly angry with him now. “I am flush because…”

Her words cut off, and he felt frustration building in him. What could possibly be the matter? “You are flushed and crying because you are upset.”

“I am flushed and crying because I burn for you!” she snapped. It took a half beat of his heart, and then her hand was withdrawing from his, going up and over her mouth, covering it in shock.

Simon could say nothing as he stared at her, at the way the tears seemed brimming in her eyes once more. Why would she have tears for such a thing? Why would she be embarrassed, on the verge of tears, and angry?

“You… burn for me?” he asked, his voice sounding weak.

“You have consumed my thoughts,” she said, her hand falling back into her lap. She looked away from him, back into her lap, and he wanted to draw her to him now more than anything. “You have consumed my dreams. I thought it would never be, and now you have asked me to be your wife, but you ask me to wait a month? And then, to hear that you planned to separate us… I burn for you, Simon. I cannot live without your laughter, without your smile, without-”

“Why do you think I needed to leave?” Simon demanded, moving forward on his knees so that he was sitting before her, so close his hand now rested on her thigh. “Why do you think I thought to wait a month? It was so I could learn to control myself, to leave so that I might keep myself from making a move that you were not ready for. I burn for you.”

Her lips were parted, eyes wide, and then she sucked in a gasp of air. Her hands were shaking once more, and he could not help it - he moved his hands to her waist, turning her in her chair so that she was now facing him, her legs falling apart to go on either side of his knees.

“I desire you so fully, Daphne, that you have consumed me. My thoughts of you, they never end. I am yours, I have always been yours. I do not want to frighten you, but if I am to remain in your presence, I will be unable to-”

It was like before, except different. In the drawing room at Bridgerton House, she had climbed onto his lap. Now, she pulled him towards her, grasping him by his neckerchief and tugging him to her.

His lips pressed to hers as his hands moved to the seat of the chair, and he tugged it as close as he could, leaning up and forwards so that his body pressed to hers, pulling her to the edge of the seat. 

He was a man possessed, now holding the object of his desire and affection, and he could not be stopped, not now that he had her.

“I need you,” he demanded against her lips.

The only noise to come from Daphne was a whimper, and he tugged her further until she was out of the seat, coming onto the floor with him, her legs going around his waist. It took considerable effort and the help of one hand on the table, but he pushed himself up, and set Daphne upon it, so that he could stand between her legs and have her body close.

“And I intend to have you.”

Another whimper left Daphne’s lips at his words, and he fell back onto his knees between her legs, lifting her skirts as he did so. He saw her stockings covering her legs, higher and higher until he reached the garters holding them up. He wanted to draw them down, to kiss the perfect skin there, but instead, he went higher, touching the inside of her thighs, until he reached where he sought, the very crux at the top.

“Simon, what are you doing?” she gasped, and he looked up to see her gazing down at him. Their eyes locked, and she gasped again, her head falling backwards as his fingertips brushed the inside of her legs, one side and then the other.

“Having my lunch,” he said with a smirk.

Daphne clearly did not understand what he meant, but she would soon enough.

Using one hand to keep her skirt gathered out of the way, Simon used the other to slide between her folds, spreading the damp curls as he did so. She was already so eager for him, pink and wet, and he had to resist the urge to just bury his face between her thighs and never leave. This was why he should leave, should be away from her, because, because-

His thumb ran down her slit, catching on the swollen nub there for just a moment, and Daphne nearly shot off the table, a shriek coming from her as he did so. He could not help but to grin, his thumb rubbing at it again, and the noise that came from her had him hard in an instant.

He could not wait to hear every sound she made.

“Another time, you will show me how you touched yourself,” he insisted, and she made a noise to the affirmative, his thumb now rolling the bud around underneath the pad of his thumb. “And tell me what it is that makes you peak.”

She whined a little as his thumb left her clit, going deeper between her folds until he reached what he was searching for, the source of what he desired most. His thumb caught in her opening, just barely in enough, and he watched her juices run onto his fingers, finally freed from within her. Oh, he would have her soaking the bed before he had even been inside of her.

“Simon, I need, I need something within, I need-” Her voice was a melody singing to him, and he wanted to join in the harmony, to work together until she was singing his name and he was singing her praises. His thumb ran around the opening, going no further than to the knuckle, and Daphne nearly shot up as he then withdrew, going back to the nub. “Please, please-”

Oh, how he could not wait to hear her truly begging for him, when she was on the edge of insanity and he had driven her completely mad with need...

“That’s it,” he hummed at her, and he used two fingers to spread the folds, finally taking a good look at the pretty picture she made. Oh, he would most assuredly spend hours between these thighs, having her screaming his name and scratching up his back. He knew it already, she would be loud and violent with every orgasm. “Beg for me, Daphne, tell me how desperately you need-”

The click of a cane was enough to stop Simon from his words, his stomach dropping out of his body. His hands immediately left Daphne’s body, his clean hand going to the edge of the table, and he turned to look towards the doorway, his eyes wide. Daphne sat up, a gasp on her lips, and together, they both rose, Daphne returning to her seat while she forced her skirt back down, then grabbing her water glass, drinking down the entire thing in one gulp.

Simon forced himself to walk away from the table, his body turned away while he willed himself to be calm. His heart was thundering in his chest, and he knew that Daphne’s was doing the same.

A month. How could he think to wait a month for her?

“Ah, my apologies for stepping away. I trust all is well?” Lady Danbury asked, standing in the doorway.

Simon gave a nod, and he looked to Daphne to see her refilling her glass, and then drinking it down once more.

“You have discussed it, then?”

Simon gave a nod, his hand going to his mouth, and without thinking, he rubbed it over his face as he often did when considering words. He felt the wetness from between Daphne’s thighs rub over his lips, and the scent… the scent of her filled his nostrils, the dampness now covering his beard. He wanted to suck his thumb into his mouth, and then return to her, to continue his explorations-

Daphne made a gasp, and he knew she had seen his thumb running over his lip, knowing what was there. He licked his lip, and God above, he was tasting paradise in this moment.

“We will apply for the special license.” He said, looking to Daphne. “Tuesday, my dear?”

She gave a nod, as that gave them three days to plan the wedding. They could have the announcement in the paper in the morning, even have the banns read during service, not that they needed them. Then a day to have any final additions made as needed and to give the cooks time to prepare the cake and the breakfast, and then the wedding.

Three days. Three days, and he could hear her make those noises again.

“Excellent! The Archbishop is on his way here right now!”

Simon’s jaw dropped as he stared at Lady Danbury, surprised that the Archbishop of Canterbury would even make a house call, but- Well, it was Lady Danbury. How presumptuous of her to assume… 

“Thank you, Lady Danbury,” Daphne said, rising from her seat. “If you will excuse me…”

Daphne went to the door, passing by Simon, her eyes staring into his. Her steps were quick and light, and he could see her chest rising and falling hard. He could not look away as she passed, but he did manage to resist the urge to reach out and touch her. When she finally left the room, he looked towards his Godmother, who was standing there with her brow raised.

“Really, Simon? On the dining room table?”

 

Daphne practically fled from the room, searching for Rose, who was sitting with a few other Lady’s Maids looking as though they were busy. Daphne did not know what she was seeking, as leaving during a meal, or anything at all, was highly improper. She had no excuse, not truly, but she could say she felt overwhelmed, perhaps?

“A room, somewhere quiet,” she demanded of Rose, who immediately turned to the housekeeper.

“I’m feeling very faint,” Daphne choked out.

She was then shown to a sitting room, and left there alone.

Her cheeks felt on fire as she sank onto the sofa, a fan in her hand, and she began fanning herself quickly. A part of her wanted to reach below her skirts to touch where Simon had touched her, but how could her hands ever feel the same as the pure delight she felt from his touch? Nothing could ever compare.

Dropping the fan into her lap, Daphne ran her hands over her cheeks, her neck, her chest, all trying to escape how choked she felt. She had been so close with the first touch, and yet, it had not been enough. She had felt so empty under his touch, as though she needed to be filled, powerfully.

And watching his hand touch his face, his thumb enter his mouth!

She still could not believe such a thing, the way he had teased her at eating lunch - what could he possibly mean, but to place his mouth there between her legs? Such an intimate place, somewhere that she had never even considered touching until he had suggested it… why, that place was for private matters, and womanly flows. He had seemed delighted by it, by the thought of touching her-

Daphne could not stand it.

Her chest rose and fell as her hands slid down between her legs, to seek out what it was he had been touching. Her fingers felt so different from his, much smaller and thinner, the pressure less so. Her hand moved down in between her thighs, and she glanced back over her shoulder towards the door, still closed, before moving it just between her legs.

She felt the soft curls, damp from wetness that had seemingly just appeared the other day, and had not seemed to stop. No… it had started sooner than that, ever since Simon had come into her life, it seemed. In fact, she kept thinking it was her courses, but no, no. This wetness was something new.

Her fingers touched the little nub his thumb had rubbed over and over again, and she nearly jumped out of her skin. No, that had been enough of that for one day. She then touched the lower place, the spot where her courses came from. She was always fervently washing there once they stopped, not wanting any blood to spread on her shift nor on her bedclothes. Now, though… it had felt strange, to have his finger placed there, and so empty, even now. 

One delicate finger slipped in - and then she withdrew it. No. No, that was quite enough for one day.

Her fingers were wet now, and she stared at them, wondering what they tasted like… no, that was a bit too strange for her, even in this time of some sort of exciting awakening. But then, a new thought came to her - what if Simon was to suck her fingers into his mouth?

A whimper escaped her at the thought, and she closed her eyes imagining it… no! She had to stop this!

Three days. Three days, and Simon would be her husband. They would be finally alone. They would be -

Oh god. She would be having sex in three days. She would have him between her legs as often as he desired… as often as she desired!

This was too much. This was…

She needed a bath. And probably prayer. And patience.

She was going to need so much patience.

Chapter Text

Nothing had ever felt quite so strange to Simon as preparing to be wed. So much of his life had changed in such a short amount of time. He was having to visit lawyers, completely turning around all he had done on his father’s affairs. He had taken up residence in his own house in London, rather than Lady Danbury’s home, so that he might make certain it was prepared for his wife, upon their eventual return to society. He had had to send a letter to the housekeeper at Hastings, to be certain that they were aware he was to be wed.

Everything was so urgent, given they only had three days, and everything felt short on time, except…

Somehow, Simon also had all the time in the world. 

He joined Will for boxing, took a Promenade with Daphne, sat with lawyers and bankers and housekeepers, took tea with Lady Danbury, sat at the club with Anthony… and yet still, all he could do was think. Think about his father. Think about his marriage. Think about his wife.

Well, his soon to be wife. It was painfully obvious that he was being kept from her, by both Lady Danbury and her mother. They were allowed their short Promenade, during which time the older ladies were never more than a step behind, and then she was whisked away to another appointment. Apparently, the fitting of her dresses and completion of her wardrobe were of the utmost importance. 

In the rarest of moments that they could speak without anyone overhearing, Daphne had whispered to him that her mother kept her in the sitting room most of the day, not allowing her out of her sight, and that her mother had announced they would receive no visitors. He had quite the idea as to why it was.

It was because they knew that Simon could not be trusted… because the next time he had Daphne alone, he would not waste his time.

He had tasted her once, just a brush of it, and now, he was a man that was dying of thirst. He was dying from lack of her. He craved her, her laughter, her smile, her affection, her touch. Each day, Daphne wore long sleeves and gloves, her hands and forearms never exposed, and it was rather obvious that Daphne had not been the one to select her wardrobe. 

They were under careful watch, so no impropriety could occur, and yet, had not both women encouraged it, before their engagement. Honestly, these two had flipped so quickly in their schemes, no longer allowing them the opportunity to have a moment alone together, allowingthem to… explore .

Any more than three days of waiting, and Simon would go mad.

On his final morning as a single man, Simon had gone to Will, simply pummeling the raised gloves, working out his frustrations. While each day before it had been a frustration of a sexual nature, today, Simon felt a sense of dread. It had been with him from the moment he awoke, and now, as he was getting dressed for the wedding, he felt true fear.

Had he told Daphne enough? He had told her of the vow, yes, how he had intended to never take a wife, nor have children, but had he explained enough as to the why?

She wanted a happy home filled with a family, a marriage based on love, a husband that desired her above all things, and he could give her that, but the children… could he be a good father? Could he be the sort of father she imagined for her children? His father had not even been one in name, had barely recognized him, had not bothered to pay for his education nor even respond to his letters.

Would Simon do that? Would he have a son and heir, and then not be a good sort of father? How could he follow an example when he did not have one? If Anthony’s father was alive, he might have known the man, would have been able to emulate his behavior towards his youngest…

The only thing Simon knew was how to be was a rake. A well and proper rake. And now that he was to be a father, he felt himself lacking. Inadequate. Broken. A failure and an embarrassment.

He wanted to go to her, to stop this now. He would never be enough for her, would never be what she needed. Daphne deserved someone strong, someone that she could rely on, while he doubted himself even now, mere hours before their wedding.

But, there was no stopping this. They had the license, the church was booked, the reception was prepared, and Daphne… Daphne was at her home, being prepared for their wedding.

He could run. God help him, he could do it. He could run, and it would be an embarrassment in the ton, but he could save her a life of pain. He could do it, except…

He well and truly was selfish. The thought of leaving now, of never seeing Daphne again nearly brought him to his knees. He loved her. He loved her smile, the sound of her voice, the way her eyes lit up, how she played pianoforte, how she had hopes and dreams, and how she trusted him with them.

How could he think to leave her now? Selfish indeed for she should have a husband that would never falter, particularly now…

Tonight. He would tell her tonight of his fears and if need be… he would work something out. He had to, to save her the pain of seeing the failure that he truly was.

The walk to the church was long but needed, keeping Simon centered as he entered to see the church was well decorated. He was the first to arrive, although within a few minutes, Will and his wife, his Godmother, and his soon to be wedding family all entered. Simon took his place at the front, waiting for her, waiting for his Daphne, trying to stamp down his fears.

They were all forgotten when he heard everyone behind him rise, and he turned to see Daphne, on her brother’s arm, walking down the aisle.

In truth, Simon did not know how much he believed in God. God could be so cruel to take a mother from her most wanted son, to give a boy an impediment, to take away his mother but leave him his father, to take away the Bridgerton Patriarch that was so loved… But now, now that he saw Daphne, he could believe.

He had done so many things wrong in his life, failed in so many ways, but it had all been for a reason, not for lack of trying. He had wanted to be a good son, to not be a disappointment, to be smart and funny and charming, but it had never been enough. He had simply been the broken son. If there had been another option, he never would have been made the Duke.

And yet, now he was receiving his greatest reward, Miss Daphne Bridgerton as his bride.

She was a vision. Perfection. Grace. She was so very lovely that it hurt to look at her, and then their eyes locked, she smiled at him, something bright and brilliant and something for him and him alone. He smiled back without thought, without pause, because he loved her, and that was something he should tell her tonight as well.

He should tell her that he loved her, truly. That he loved who she was, and who she could be. He loved her hope, her optimism, her determination, her stubbornness… He loved her above all things. He loved her more than anything else. He loved her more than he hated his father. More than he missed the mother he had never had.

He loved Daphne Bridgerton, and he would tell her tonight.

Anthony brought her to him at the end of the aisle, and Simon could not look away from her, not even as she finally looked from him to the Archbishop, who was personally overseeing their ceremony. All he could do was look at her and smile.

“Dearly Beloved…”

 

Daphne had been in hell the past three days. To think, Simon had initially wanted to spend a month apart! Even now, she was dying without him nearby, and that was with them enjoying a short walk the past two mornings. It was not enough, however. She was not getting enough of him.

No wonder newly wedded couples took to the country for a few weeks, or even months… surely it was because they could not stand to be apart. After their wedding, she would never be apart from Simon again, so long as she could help it.

Of course, they would likely have separate bedchambers, and he would likely take off for hunting trips or business or to head to town, but surely… she would think of something. Of some way to keep him close to her.

She had been practically locked up the whole time, her mother keeping a constant eye on her, which was beyond frustrating. Her mother was clearly working up to some sort of important conversation, but never seemed to manage to just, spit it out! Instead, her mother would simply praise her for marrying for love, and for falling in love with a Duke at that, as though Daphne had any choice.

She would love Simon no matter his rank or circumstance. Of that, she was certain.

It meant that she was counting down the very hours until their wedding, and it was only sheer exhaustion from the previous two nights that Daphne was even to sleep the night before the grand event. She had spent each night frustrated, frustrated because she missed Simon, but also frustrated for a different reason.

She had tried touching herself each night, as she had done before. She had sought out the place she had touched herself, explored where Simon had done so as well, except now, she was unable to reach any sort of pinnacle. In fact, it nearly hurt, her hand cramping and her belly aching. She had given up each night, more and more frustrated, until now, she wanted to cry.

She wanted to cry even as she was dressed for her wedding, knowing that she must still wait so long until she was with him again.

It had to be mental. A mental block of some sort. Daphne had to compare it to the pianoforte and her own attempts at writing music. It could be so close, just there on the edge of her mind, and yet, her fingers would be unable to play the correct notes, the chords sounding off and the rhythm too fast or slow. Normally, Daphne would walk away and return to the bench at a later point, but this was not a tune on the edges of her mind - this was her body, begging for release, and unable to achieve it.

Her mother had clearly noticed the look on her face, for as they were about to leave, the woman had pulled her aside, concern clear as she looked down at her daughter. “Daphne… if you are having doubts about Simon, you should know, your father and I-”

Daphne wanted to know nothing of her mother and father. Now that she knew what it was, between husbands and wives, that could produce so many children, she found she had no interest in hearing of what occurred between her mother and father to cause so many to be born.

“Mama, I am having no doubts about Simon. I am simply ready to begin my life as his wife. I know the reception is important, but we shall have to spend our first night in an inn, and I…”

She did not want to spend it in an inn. She wanted to spend it in his bed. With no one around. Anywhere. Just the two of them.

“Oh my dear, I am quite certain the Duke will have separate rooms for the two of you, so that you might relax. There will be plenty of time for your marriage bed once you have arrived at your new estate. Is that what has concerned you? Fears of the wedding night?”

Daphne did not want to say otherwise. There was no fear. None at all. No, instead, Daphne felt ill because she wanted it, desperately. Her body had felt so empty ever since his last touch, and her stomach had been unable to keep food down due to her nerves. She wanted him completely, wanted their bodies to become one, wanted to know what it was to have him fill her… but instead, she was being forced to wait. 

Hopefully, not until tomorrow.

“Let us go, mama. It shall all be resolved soon enough.”

That had seemed to settle her mother, and then it was a whirlwind, Daphne climbing into the carriage, and then arriving at the church. Rose had accompanied, to make certain that her veil was perfectly set, and when the doors had opened, Daphne had entered on Anthony’s arm, to see both her family and Simon’s friends rising at her entrance.

But all Daphne could see was him.

Simon. Simon, her soon to be husband. His eyes locked with hers, and all she could do was smile at him, smile so brightly her face hurt, until eventually, she was at his side. She barely even noticed her brother, and as they turned towards the Archbishop, she had to force her eyes forward, knowing that soon… she would be able to look at him as much and as often as she wanted.

It was impossible to pay attention to the sermon about love and matrimony, despite it being so short. Instead, Daphne’s eyes kept going back to Simon. Her gaze would shift towards the side, and then her head would turn slightly, and then she would see him doing the same, his gaze turning towards her. They would both smile, and then look forward once more, trying to pretend they were paying attention.

They were certainly fooling no one. Just as their ruse, it was likely apparent to everyone that they could not keep their eyes off one another.

She felt Simon turning towards her, and Daphne did the same, her eyes lifting to look at him. He was doing his best to try and not burst from his smiling, and Daphne could not help it, she laughed softly, knowing the Archbishop would likely consider her a silly girl.

It was no matter. This was a marriage of love, of passion. A marriage that could not wait a month. A marriage between two souls that desperately loved one another, for even though the words had not passed between them yet, what else could it be?

She watched him as his hands went to her glove, and he carefully pulled at the tip of each finger, until eventually, he slid the entirety down her arm. A shiver ran down her spine, and she gasped, her lips parting. His eyes lifted to hers, and they stared at one another as he withdrew a ring from his pocket. She did not look at it, did not even care if it was simply a piece of string, for that did not matter.

What did matter was that Simon was sliding a wedding ring onto her finger, his eyes locked with hers, and the Archbishop was announcing them as husband and wife.

The man had barely finished the last word before Simon was pulling her close, his hand never leaving hers, his thumb pressing to the top of her ring as he drew her in. His lips pressed to hers, and it was hard but fast, a simple press and then he was pulling away. Tears began to fill her eyes, but it was not fear, nor was it nerves, or even desire.

No, her heart felt to be bursting in her chest.

Everyone behind them applauded, and they turned together, fingers interlocking as they held hands between them, his thumb rubbing the back of her hand as they looked towards everyone. She was married. She was the Duchess of Hastings. And Simon was her husband.

There were congratulations and hugs, cheek kisses and an introduction to the couple that Daphne did not know, and then Simon was leading her out of the church and towards his carriage, which she had never before seen him use. He, not a footman, helped her within, and she noted that it was a covered carriage, not an open one as was tradition. 

Once they were within, they both waved at the rest of their party, who was to meet them at the Bridgerton hope for the reception, where the rest of the ton was waiting. Daphne could not help but to laugh as her youngest siblings all cheered their loudest, and the carriage began to move, taking them from the church and towards their first stop.

As soon as the church was out of sight, however, Simon was reaching over to either side, tugging the curtains closed, and then dropping onto his knees on the floor of the carriage, his hands going to the bottom of her skirts.

“Simon, what are you doing?” she gasped, watching him. His hands were already underneath, and he was tossing the skirt higher with his exploration until even she could see the top of her stockings. She had a good suspicion as to what he was doing, but - 

But surely not! Not in a moving carriage, with footman and a driver, and-

“I have five minutes, and I intend to make the most of it,” he said, grinning up at her before he moved face first between her legs.

Daphne had not know what to expect, his face between her legs, but at the first touch, she was already gone. Simon had her legs drawn up over each of his shoulders, his hands holding up her skirts, and she had wondered what it was he would be able to do with himself, given how he already seemed so occupied. She was wrong, though, to think that anything could stop her husband.

Her husband. Oh god, her husband had his face between her legs, and he was sucking her nub into his mouth, tugging at it with his teeth, lapping at it with his tongue.

It was too intense from the start and she nearly shot up from her seat, gasping so loudly she was certain everyone outside could hear.

He gave her some respite, though, his tongue dipping lower, so low she was embarrassed, for was that not the place that blood and children came from? Yes, he had touched her there before, but with his tongue! He hummed with delight as his tongue dipped in, and she could suddenly feel the appeal of it.

It was strange, yes, and different, but she could feel his tongue lapping at her slit, lapping at the juices that were surely leaking from her. She actually rather liked it, how his tongue seemed to swirl against sensitive spots she had never known she had. His tongue slid up, and then again, it was at that little spot, the one she had rubbed at for seemingly hours with no result.

His tongue was so much different from her fingertips. It was almost as though he was playing with it, his teeth nipping at the sensitive skin and then his lips sucking again. Each suck, short as they were, had her rocking her hips. She did not intend to do it, but her hands went to her skirts, knowing no where else to put them. She wanted to touch him, touch the back of his head even, to hold him there or try to push him away, but she resisted, instead digging her fingers into the fabric.

“Please, Simon,” she gasped, and she had no idea what she was gasping for, but surely he would know. He seemed to know everything, from what she should do at night while alone to how to please her now, to drive her body wild. She could feel him smile against her thigh, his lips pressing to the inner skin there as he did so, and her eyes closed as her head fell back, feeling one of his now freed hands sliding down and around, near her buttox, and underneath her leg. His hand then trailed up between her thighs, to the very crux, and she felt one finger rubbing against her inner core, where his tongue had just been searching and lapping.

“Mmmm, what is it you desire?” he asked, his finger seeming to dip in, then back out with no other care. He must know, then, what it was she desired, even though she could not find the words. Not as he likely wanted to hear them.

“Complete me, please,” she cried out, and one of her hands went to the back of his head, trying to force him back between her legs. “I tried and I tried every night, and I could not achieve success. I dreamed of this, of you, and I am so close but so empty.”

She felt like crying, already on the verge of tears, and she tried to hide her shame, another few sniffles escaping her.

“Please, Simon! I just want to feel you in me.”

She was whimpering now, begging for that which she did not truly understand, and she knew that. Still… 

He knew. She knew that he knew, what it was she wanted. His finger dipped back into that private slot again, and then a second one joined it. She could feel them dipping in further and further with each rotation, until Daphne could feel something… strange. Something within her, something pressing from inside. 

She wanted to describe it, or to ask questions, but then his mouth was back on the sensitive nub, and she was lost. His fingers resumed their movement in her, no longer withdrawing, but instead stroking her. A low groan came from the back of her throat, she realized with horror, but there was no stopping what was to come.

And indeed, she did. The pressure of his fingers rocking inside of her, his lips wrapped around that sensitive spot he seemed to love to suck on most, his free hand pressing onto her lower abdomen, and Daphne could not help herself, could not stop what had been begging to be released for too long. 

Her nails dug into the back of his head, her hips trying to rock and her legs shaking, and she felt a scream leave her throat at the power of it. There was no denying what was occurring within their carriage, but Daphne did not care, did not care about anything other than the pleasure she felt, the wave upon wave of tingling energy running through her body.

She felt energized but exhausted, her mind going fuzzy, and she could feel Simon’s tongue licking at her. She was surely dripping, needing a new gown at this point, but Simon did not stop, and she was still gasping for air, searching for words, for anything to say.

A few whimpers escaped the back of her throat as he continued licking, and she opened her eyes to look down at him, to see his gaze up towards her. There was a dampness on his face, but he looked completely and utterly pleased with himself as he sat back, licking his lips.

“What was… what was that?” she rasped out, her throat feeling sore and her voice still finding itself.

His eyes were still on hers and he was not moving, a grin spreading across his lips as he looked up at her, sitting back onto his heels fully.

“That, your Grace, was quite possibly the most magnificent thing I have ever seen. Truly, I shall crave you the rest of my days. The way you responded to me, your body…”

She saw him coming, and knew she could pull away, but Daphne was unable to move, unable to think as her husband pulled her skirts down, then pushed himself up. He sat on the bench beside her and then kissed her hard. 

She could taste herself on his lips, and it was not what she had expected. It was not pungent nor sour, just something tangy, almost salty or savory? It was beyond description, but whatever it was, it was not unpleasant. In fact, it seemed to spur Simon on, that she was kissing him back.

Her lips parted for him, and she considered her next move, trying to not overthink, but knowing there had to be ways to return the favor…

There were three taps upon the roof of the carriage, and Simon withdrew immediately, his hand going to his mouth. He sucked at his fingers, three of them, and she could not believe that all three would have her juices upon them. He seemed delighted as he reached into his pocket for a kerchief, and wiped at his face, his hands, and then lifted her skirt once more to slide the cloth between her legs.

It took a moment for her to realize what that knocking meant-

“Simon, did you tell the footmen to warn us when we approached my house?” she asked, her voice becoming high pitched as she did so. “They heard us! What will they think?”

Simon, rake that he was, her rake, her duke , simply grinned at her. “What does it matter?”

She wanted to have an answer, she really did, except… except she still felt glorious, and perhaps it was sort of exciting, to have done it in a carriage while the world was just outside.

Simon reached over her, opening the curtains, and she recognized the houses, knowing they were near her own. She could hear the celebration already, people cheering for them, and she reached for him.

“Kiss me again,” she demanded, tugging him by the back of his neck.

He went to her, kissing her hard for just a breath before the carriage stopped, and then he was opening the door and climbing out, reaching back for her. Daphne took a deep breath, hoping no one knew… And took his hand, climbing out.

 

Simon had known it all along. His beautiful Diamond of the First Water, his Duchess, his perfect English Rose, his wife … she was fire. She was loud, and demanding, and not shy at all. Her legs had spread for him, so trusting as he sought out both their pleasure, and when he had pushed her closer to the edge, she had started rocking with him, her hand digging into the back of his skull.

Oh, he could not wait to have her in his bed, in a real bed . He would have her in every room of the house, across the grounds, anywhere he could get beneath her skirt. He would send all of the servants away, even the housekeeper, so that they could run around naked, never wearing a shred of clothing ever again.

He would have her on every surface, against every wall. Never would a time come he did not desire her, his beautiful Daphne. 

God, he loved her.

Having her in the carriage had been a plotted risk, but it had been worth it. He knew that he was nervous for their first night together, and this was not his first time with a woman in bed. He worried she might be nervous, feel afraid… but she also knew how it could be, the desire, the burn, the yearning. Now, she had had her release… and he would wait for his, but it would be worth it.

She was radiant, now, as he climbed from the carriage and turned to take her hand. She immediately came to him, and he pulled her close, kissing her on the lips. They were no longer courting, no longer engaged, which meant that, while not really encouraged in public, he could kiss her wherever he chose.

After all, this was their wedding day, and he was a Duke. Society might dislike it, but, his wife was now the head of society, save perhaps for the Queen, but she had had the Queen’s approval, the Queen’s great achievement, selecting the crown jewel that was now a Duchess.

His Duchess. His Daphne. His wife.

He could not stop repeating those words in his head. He could not wait to repeat those words into her skin.

The fact that she was so willing to taste herself on his lips, was so open and free, it was unexpected. A part of him thought it was perhaps because he had started this sexual adventure with him teasing her to touch herself, and from there, she had simply concentrated on him for her sexual awakening.

Gods, he would be there every step of the way, teaching her to make her body sing, drawing every last drop from her, rocking into her body until she could not move, just moan and beg. He wanted her now, wanted to take her up to her room and have her…

But it would have to wait. The reception, first, and then they would start their journey. He could have her tomorrow night, have her in his bed, and then have her on the dining room table, in the library, on the grounds-

He was going to teach his wife how to chase her own pleasure, how to drag his from him. He was going to show her everything a wife was never taught, and he would enjoy every second of it.

He was the luckiest man in the ton, and he wanted every man to know it.

She was glowing, now, as they walked up the steps and entered the front hall, covered in white everywhere to celebrate their union. A beautiful display of foods lined the walls, a lovely cake in the center of the room, but he saw none of it, only his Daphne. 

He accepted a glass of champagne and handed it to his wife, then took another for himself. Toasts would come later, and likely an announcement for their arrival already made, but first.

“Thank you for joining us! Please forgive us if we do not speak to you all this day, for I do not intend to step away from my wife’s side. I waited far too long to become her husband. Please indulge me in my desire to never be parted from her again.”

There was laughter and applause, and he looked to her, his perfection. Her cheeks were coloring red and she was still glowing, but she was beautiful. So ethereally beautiful. His wife. His Duchess.

“Your Grace,” he said, lifting his glass towards her. “I think I shall ask every dance of you at this reception.”

She smiled up at him, her eyes shining, no nerves, no fear, just complete happiness. Her glass raised, she took a sip, then finally answered. “That sounds practically scandalous. Whatever shall people think?”

He did not care, wrapping his arm around her middle, pulling her body to his. There were eyes on them all around, but he did not care. He was a Duke, she was a Duchess, and none could reprimand them. None would dare.

“Does it matter?” he asked, raising his brow.

She laughed, going onto tiptoes, kissing him again.

Chapter Text

Daphne could not leave her husband’s side. 

Part of it was because she could not stop looking at him. He was so beautiful, his shoulders so relaxed, no longer tense. He was conversing easily with everyone around them, laughing with her family, with his friends. Everyone that approached, he offered a nod and a hand shake. He looked so peaceful, so joyous. Every time his eyes looked towards her, they shined even brighter, as though he was re-energized by her mere presence.

It took her breath away, to see him like this, She did not want to think it was entirely her influence, but since he had proposed, since he had released himself from his vow and moved forward from whatever damage his father had caused, the Simon beside her was a man that was truly happy. She loved it, loved seeing him like this. She wanted to place that smile on his face every day.

The other part was because, simply, she refused to let go. Whether she was holding his hand, or holding onto his arm, or even just touching his shoulder, they had not yet separated. His hand was constantly brushing over her back, her forearm, her hand, touching and keeping her near. 

She could not be parted from him, refused to ever be parted again, for fear that this was all a dream, and she would wake up and he would be far far away from her.

Everyone seemed to be interested in offering their congratulations, with a great many mentioning the quickness of their wedding, but there was no lie when they looked to one another, sharing a smile.

“It was love,” she would say each time.

“I finally convinced her to wed me,” he would say as well. “And I did not intend on giving her a chance to change her mind.”

They would then share another look, a great big smile, and Daphne would melt a little bit more.

In fact, Daphne did not think she could love her husband any more, until he turned to her, and asked her to dance.

“Dance, your Grace?” she asked, teasing him with the title. “But, this is not a ball, and there is no dance floor.”

“What of it?” he asked, glancing around the room. “You and I are the highest ranking members of society, save for the Queen, who is currently talking to your sister.”

Daphne turned, looking to see Eloise was in fact talking to the Queen, which was beyond shocking.

“Well, what will people say?” Daphne asked, reaching out to take his offered hand.

“Does it matter?” he retorted.

And with that, she had joined him in a dance.

No one else mattered as they danced and danced. They danced one song and then another, laughing and smiling with each turn. They spun, and spun, and eventually, things were pulled aside so others might join in, couples, parents with children, a loud and boisterous affair. It was far more relaxed than a ball, and even Lady Danbury was caught tapping her cane.

When Daphne could no longer catch her breath, she finally begged off, asking her husband for a break. He grinned, pulling her from the dance floor they had created, and allowed her to lead him away from the rest of the group, towards the bottom of the steps.

“I do believe, my beautiful wife, that it is nearly time for us to leave,” he said, his free hand going up to brush a few loose curls from her face.

“Then I should go and change for the journey,” she said softly, her eyes flicking up the stairs towards her bedroom door.

Simon was silent for a moment, then bent over, taking her hand and pressing a kiss to the back of it as he bowed. “I shall miss you, every second you are away.”

Daphne’s breath caught in her throat, and she stared at him, trying to think of her options. Never again parted… that was what she had promised herself, was it not? And… it would be a long ride to the inn where they would spend their wedding night. She would not be so brave as to attempt something else in a carriage-  but upstairs, while the music and party was loud downstairs…

“Or, you can join me upstairs momentarily,” she said softly.

Her hand slid from his, a smile curling over her lips as she saw the astonished look on his face, and she began walking up the stairs, looking over her shoulder to see her husband watching her, his mouth open in shock.

Giggling to herself, Daphne continued up the steps and slipped into her bedroom. It was less than a minute later before the door was opening, and she was being drawn into her husband’s arms, his mouth pressing against hers in a desperate kiss.

 

The Wedding Reception had gone on long enough, in Simon’s opinion. He had spoken to everyone that approached, had chatted with those he actually cared for, and when he could no longer bear anymore conversation, he had drawn Daphne into one dance, followed by another, and another and another, until it was nearly time to leave.

Soon, very soon, he would have her in a carriage on their way to Clyvedon Castle. He would not take her virginity in the carriage, of course, nor would he do it on the road at the inn halfway on their journey, but he would have her in his arms, able to tease her over and over again to orgasm. He could not wait to hold her body to his, to run his hands up and down her inner thighs, to have her body peaking over and over again on his fingertips.

By the time they reached his home, she would be ready for him to finally have her, for him to fill her with his cock, and fuck her until neither of them could walk. 

He just had to resist, and make it there.

However, with one hint, one invitation, and one glance over her shoulder…

Simon did not care who watched, who saw, who noticed him dashing up the stairs after Daphne - he had to have her, right now, in this very house. He charged up the steps, two at a time, and when he reached the room she had just disappeared into, he could not stop himself, grabbing her arm and pulling her into his embrace.

His lips pressed insistently against hers, demanding entry, and she gave into him willingly, kissing him back as her arms went around his neck. His hands grasped at the back of her dress, lower, sliding down her buttox to the top of her legs, and he was ready to hike it up now, press his face back into her warm cunt and taste everything he had left behind earlier.

“Simon, we have but five minutes before our lack of presence is noted,” Daphne gasped as he pressed kisses to her throat. He did not respond, even as she gasped his name, Simon sucking on her skin as she moaned for him.

“It is a good thing I will not last that long, then,” he insisted into her throat, forgetting all of his thoughts on dragging this out, waiting, being patient, allowing them to take their time.

Daphne, however, seemed to have other ideas as she grasped his upper arms, pushing him away from her as she stepped back.

“You will not last that long?” she asked, raising her brow. “A good thing, then.”

Daphne lifted her skirts just enough that he could see the top of her shoes and her ankles, and he wanted to see more, except, then she went onto her knees before him, so prim and dainty. His jaw dropped as he looked down at her, and he wanted to step away, move, to pull her up, but his knees felt weak, nearly unable to support his weight.

“Daphne…” he groaned as she looked up at him, her lips pouting slightly as their eyes connected.

“Five minutes, your Grace. You said it would not take long at all.”

He wanted to argue. He wanted to insist that she should not do such things, that he would not debase her so. He wanted to stop her from being on her knees, he wanted to pull her up and dive back under her skirts, except…

Except, Simon Basset knew his wife. He knew she was stubborn. He knew she was determined. He knew that once she made up her mind, it was set. He knew that arguing with her was pointless, and in this case, a true waste of time.

He groaned, stepping forward and grabbing her chin, forcing her to look up at him. He wanted her eyes on him, to look into his very soul, so that she would see the truth in his words. “You need not do this, Daphne, but I shall not stop you. We can stop at any point, do you understand?”

Her lips parted, likely to argue, and he raised his brow at her, wanting vocal confirmation. Her lips closed, and she took in a breath, then gave him a nod. 

“Please, just allow me to try to make you feel as wonderful as you made me feel?”

Oh God, how could he deny her that? How could he deny such a pretty request from such beautiful lips, lips that currently wanted to wrap around him. He groaned again, his hand going to the front of his breeches, and he fumbled with the top buttons of his trousers, until they were held up only by his suspenders. He took a deep breath before finally allowing the front flap to fall, allowing his hardened cock to fall free in front of her. 

He groaned as his hand wrapped around the base, stroking it once, and then he looked down at his wife to see her reaction.

Daphne’s eyes were wide, her lips parted as she took him in. He knew this was likely her first time ever seeing a cock, and he wanted to allow her time to explore, but they were on a clock at present, stealing moments until they were once more interrupted.

“Daphne,” he murmured softly, his hand running up and down his length once more. His thumb rubbed over the head, and then he slid his hand back up, exposing himself entirely to her as he did so. Her eyes widened even more, likely at the sight of the precum dripping from the tip, and he watched, his breath catching in his throat, as her hand came up to join his, wrapping over top.

He wanted to give her time, he did, but when her hand wrapped around his length, he could not help but to thrust into her hold. She squeezed him as he did so, and he groaned, the need for her already feeling overwhelming.

He could do just this, thrust himself into her palm, get himself off with her holding onto his length, and he closed his eyes, letting her run her hand up and down, rubbing him with her thumb as she did so. He did not see anything, could not have guessed what was coming next, until her mouth was around the tip of his cock, sucking on the head.

“Fuck,” he moaned, not even slightly embarrassed to have used such coarse language in front of his delicate wife. She squeezed her hand as she licked her tongue around the head, and he nearly lost himself right there as she sucked the head harder, as though sucking on a spoon while enjoying ice cream. It would take no time at all, even with how slow she was.

“It feels good,” he groaned, his voice going lower. His hand covered hers, helping her to pump him slowly, and her lips went lower on his cock, just enough that with each thrust, the head of his cock ran over her tongue. He did not want to gag her on it, but he loved the feeling of being in her mouth, of feeling her licking at the slit. “Daphne, it feels so good, so very good.”

He did not even realize he was talking, babbling even, as they continued together, both their hands stroking him, her tongue and lips working at the tip.

“I cannot wait to have you to myself, have you in the carriage, on the grounds, in the library, anywhere you will have me. Want to lick your body, cover you in kisses, have you scream my name, beg for me, beg for it, fuck, Daphne, I want you, please don’t stop.”

His free hand went to the back of her head, and he had to resist the urge to push her onto it, but his fingers did get lost in her hair, gripping at it, pulling it from the pins and clips. She made a noise around his cock, the vibrations shaking him all the way into his boots, and he looked down to see her eyes closed, no fear or worry on her face.

“Do you like that?” he asked, tightening his grip slightly. “Do you like me tugging on your hair?”

She hummed again, and it was most certainly to the affirmative.

“Just wait until I get you into my study.” he insisted, trying not to pull on her hair or force her onto him, simply maintaining his grip. “I’m going to bend you over my desk, flip up your skirts, and fuck you from behind, your hair in my hand while I do so. I’ll give you every peak you can manage, until you are no longer able to stand, and then I’ll pull on your hair until I cum so deep inside of you, you feel me for days.”

She made another whimpering moan, and he looked down to see that her free hand was pressing through her dress, grasping at her breasts, then lower, adding pressure to between her legs. Oh fuck, he wanted to see that, see her naked and touching herself while she sucked him off. It was a new fantasy he had never imagined until now.

Or no… the thought of having her riding his face, her mouth around his cock, fucking up into her throat while he drowned in her juices… He would die a happy man just like that, smothered in her, covered in her, unable to escape every last drop.

“Daphne, I will never not want you,” he groaned, his head falling backwards and his eyes closing as he grinned. “God, you are perfect. Perfect wife, Duchess, lover… perfect for me.”

Her tongue wrapped around the tip, almost like she was licking at it and sucking at it, and it was enough, just enough to get him to the edge. His hand thrust harder, and he groaned again, knowing that she needed to release him from her mouth so he might cum into his handkerchief.

“Release me, so I may finish,” he said with a low groan, and he opened his eyes just in time to see Daphne do as he asked, her eyes wide and her lips swollen.

“Why?” she asked, her head tilting to the side.

He blinked, trying to find the answer, then shook his head, attempting to clear it. “Because, it is messy, and I do not think-”

“What does it taste like?” she asked, blinking as she looked up at him.

He had no answer, just gave a shrug of his shoulders.

“I should like to find out,” she said, and she went back to sucking at his cock.

Her mouth was deeper, now, nearly to where her hand was wrapped around him, and he nearly fell over at the force of her sucking, a groan escaping. He should withdraw all the same, stop her, except then her mouth bobbed up and then back down on his length, her tongue running around the head, and he was gone.

“Daphne,” he groaned, his hand tightening in her hair. “ Wife .”

The word came out low and harsh as he felt his body jerk, his balls contracting as he felt his seed leave his body, and into his wife’s mouth. He forced his eyes to stay open, watching as her eyes widened, but she did not lose a drop. Her hand released him as her mouth did, her hand covering her mouth, and he expected her to spit it out, except she instead licked her lips, as though catching the last drop, and he-

She was absolutely perfect and he was going to kiss her and fall to his knees once more.

“Daphne?” came a voice from outside the door, and his eyes went wide as he realized it was her mother. 

Looking around the room, Simon saw the thick curtains at her window, long and dark, long enough to cover even his boots. He stumbled to them and hid himself behind one, holding his breath, his cock soft in his hand as he covered it, unable to button the flap.

He heard the door open, and the sound of his wife’s mother enter, and he tried to not move, not breathe, as he heard her talk.

“Goodness, Daphne, are you praying?”

Simon heard nothing for a long moment, and he wanted to jump out and save his wife from her mother’s wrath, save for the fact that, if he should reveal himself, he would be subjected first to Lady Bridgerton, and then to Lady Danbury. And then… the Queen was downstairs. And the rest of the ton.

He would die for his wife. He would not face a trio of matriarchs for her.

 

Seeing, touching, tasting Simon… it was all so strange. Everything about the idea was foreign, having this thick and heavy thing within her mouth. It was musky and had a strange taste to it, but then Simon had groaned, and Daphne had found herself lost. She allowed him to lead with his hand, her mouth working at the end of it. There was one spot in particular, each time her tongue went around, he moaned louder. 

Yes, he had told her to stop, because he did not want to spill into her mouth, but had he not done the same thing to her, licking and sucking at her until she had completed? She had even liked the taste on his lips, in an odd way. It only felt fair to continue in this endeavor.

The things he had been saying, hinting, demanding… all of it. She wanted all of it. A thousand experiences between the two of them. She wanted everything he was offering to her, everything he was asking for. It all started with this, with her learning to give him as much pleasure as he gave her.

The low growl of her name, followed by her title, calling her wife … it was enough that Daphne thought she might be able to bring herself to peak like this. She moaned around his length, sucking down each drop, until he fell from her mouth. Her hand went up, keeping any from dripping out, and she tasted it, the saltiness of it. She wanted to shudder from it, the texture of it strange as well, likely something she would have to grow used to, but she did not want Simon to see that she was unsure of it.

Her eyes went up to look at him, and his face was such bliss, so relaxed, a grin spreading. She smiled back up at him, ready to reach out and take his hand, let him draw her up-

“Daphne?” she heard come from outside the door. Her eyes immediately went wide as she realized who it was, and she looked to Simon, just in time to see him disappearing behind one of the window curtains.

The door opened, and Daphne did not have enough time to rise from where she was.

“Goodness, Daphne, are you praying?” her mother asked with concern.

Daphne’s head hung as she tried to think of what to say. What was there to even say in a moment like this? She was most certainly not praying. She licked her lips again, tasting the last of Simon on her tongue, and fought everything to not look towards the curtains. That was the only way this situation could become worse - if Simon was found.

She pushed herself up from the floor and sat down at the foot of her bed, knowing her mother would follow. She still said nothing, but eventually, her mother seemed to take her blushing to mean something , anything , and moved on from Daphne having been on the floor.

“Oh, Daphne, are you worried about tonight? Is that what is the matter?”

Somehow, that topic of conversation was worse. Daphne nearly choked on her own air as she turned to look at her mother, eyes wide.

“What? No. Of course not.”

“Well, good,” her mother said, not sounding too convinced. “After all, the two of you are a love match… and it is well known that rakes make the very best of husbands.”

Her mother’s cheeks then turned red, and Daphne had to look away, knowing that her face had to look the picture of horror. Of all the things she wanted to discuss with her mama, it was not what had occurred between her parents. Surely, her mother had never performed such an act as she had just done, nor received…

She was going to be sick.

“Yes… well… I have no concerns regarding our wedding night,” Daphne finally said, playing with her hands in her lap. She kept twisting the ring on her finger, so new. She had not even truly had a chance to look at it yet. 

“Really?” her mother asked, sounding surprised. “And why is that?”

Daphne could still feel the weight of him on her tongue, the press of his lips to hers, the feeling of his fingers sliding between her legs. Her face grew hot, and she tried to catch her breath, to keep the embarrassment down, but it felt impossible.

“I… we care for each other, mama. Surely, whatever is to occur, it will be a continuation of that care,” she finally said. Her eyes were still on her lap as she spoke, her fingers twisting at her wedding band, stroking her palm, anything to soothe herself. “My husband… I am certain all will be well.”

Her mother rested a hand on Daphne’s shoulder, and Daphne could not help but to glance towards the curtains. She could just barely see his boots from underneath.

“Well, just remember, when the time comes, to lay back and relax. He shall help to guide you through it. Your body will respond very naturally, my dear. And, with time, he shall learn what it is that makes you happiest.”

Of all the things Daphne wanted to discuss, it was not having sex with Simon, particularly with Simon in the room.

“Mama, I think it is about time I get changed for our journey,” Daphne offered, trying to rise from her seat.

Her mother grabbed her by the forearm, pulling her back down however, and Daphne had to return to sitting beside her mother.

“Daphne… you need not be afraid. Truly. When two people love one another, well, they… they can do things.” Daphne did not want to hear any part of this, and in truth, wished the ground would now swallow her whole. “They may seem strange at first, perhaps even not something you enjoy, but, you will learn to find pleasure in it. And remember, with time, spending time with your husband brings children, and you will love those as well.”

Daphne looked to the ceiling, wanting to disappear. Oh God, what was her mother even alluding to? This was by far the worst moment of her life.

“Mama, the carriage,” she said, trying to rise again.

“Just remember, Daphne,” her mother finally finished. “If he asks you if you like it, be careful to not… insult him. Men can be so sensitive. Smile at him before offering suggestions.”

Daphne forced herself up, going towards her mirror and reaching for her traveling dress.

“Yes, yes, okay mama. Now, my dress.”

“Oh, I remember my wedding night…” her mother said with a sad voice. However much wine the woman had had, it was clearly far too much. “He was so good to me, making certain that I… well, you are a married woman now, Daphne, so you should know, there are little bursts of pleasure you may feel-”

“Mama, the dress,” she said, turning her back towards her mother.

“Alright, alright,” her mama finally said, giving up and helping with the buttons. “You are in such a rush to travel towards your wedding night,  I would have thought you might have wished more for my council.”

“I could wish for nothing less,” Daphne muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” her mama asked.

Daphne said nothing, simply letting her mother help her out of one dress and into another. 

The next person to undress her would be Simon. It would be Simon undoing the buttons, Simon working at her laces, Simon helping her with her hair, Simon…

“Ah, there it is,” her mother said, brushing a finger over Daphne’s cheek. “The look of love. It has returned to your face.”

Daphne could not help but to smile as she looked towards her mother, giving a slight nod.

“Come, mama. I do not want to keep my husband waiting much longer,” she said. 

“Ah, yes! He disappeared a few minutes ago, likely to retrieve the carriage! We should not keep him waiting!” her mother agreed, going to the door and stepping out.

Daphne gave her mama a few steps, and then turned towards the curtains. 

“Get down there!” she hissed, waiting for his head pop out from the curtains. “Go!”

“How?” Simon asked, looking about the room. “Is there another exit?”

Daphne looked around, knowing full well there was not. “Oh God, Simon, just… just leave quickly, and do not respond if you are seen.”

It was the best idea she could come up with as she left the room, heading down the stairs.

Of course, so many were still waiting to see them off. Lady Danbury, of course, plus a few close family friends. All of her siblings. A number of the wait staff were waiting for her, and the Queen! Oh goodness, the Queen was still in attendance.

Daphne smiled at them all, coming down the stairs. She took her mama’s arm, trying to lead everyone’s attention towards the front door, and not towards the stairs.

“But, where is the Duke?” Lady Danbury asked, seeing Daphne.

Her lips parted, ready to come up with a lie about him having to return to gather the wedding carriage, when her littlest brother, traitor that he is, pointed up towards the upper level of the house.

“Look, there he is! He is coming from Daphne’s room.”

All at once, the entire group began turning towards Simon, to see him frozen in the doorway of Daphne’s old bedroom.

Daphne could feel her cheeks going red, and she looked towards someone, anyone, for help.

Lady Danbury had a smirk on her lips. The Queen had raised an eyebrow. Her elder brothers were a mix of fury, amusement, and delight. And her mother… her dearest mama…

“Daphne!” she gasped, releasing Daphne’s arm as she turned to look at her. “In your room!

Daphne’s lips parted, searching for a response, when Simon sauntered down the stairs, casual and calm. Still, Daphne could see that the stress he had previously carried had once again returned as he stepped beside her mother, kissing her on her cheek.

“We shall return to London before the end of the season and host a ball,” he said, turning to offer Lady Danbury a kiss on the cheek as well. “Do not expect to hear from us before then.”

He offered his hand towards her, and Daphne took it, not wanting to look back at her family.

“Daphne,” her mother hissed at her. “Was he in there when we were discussing…”

“I shall miss you all dearly,” Daphne said, still not turning back around as Simon pulled her towards the door. “You may write to me, of course, but I suspect we shall be far too busy to respond.”

Simon grinned as he looked back to her, and Daphne grinned back, then looked over her shoulder.

Her mother was crying into Anthony’s shoulder, Benedict was doubled over laughing, Colin was banging his head into the wall, and Eloise looked confused.

“But, why would a boy be in Daphne’s room?” she asked Colin, who simply groaned louder.

Lady Danbury looked completely amused with the pair of them. Daphne then looked towards the Queen, who was now appraising them both. Her eyebrow was once again raised, and then she gave a nod of her head, a confirmation that she approved.

“Are you ready, wife?” Simon asked.

Daphne went onto her tiptoes and gave him a kiss on his cheek, then led him down the steps.

“She’ll be pregnant before the end of the Season,” Lady Danbury said.

The Queen’s laughter followed them on their way out.

Chapter Text

Sitting with Daphne in his arms within the carriage, Simon was delightfully surprised when she quickly turned and began kissing him once more. Even after his recent release, he still ached for her, although he would have to wait some time. They had quite a late start, and would have to stop at the halfway point in their journey, so that they could arrive at midmorning to Clyvedon Castle. He did not much relish the thought of spending his wedding night away from his wife, but he was unwilling to have her first time occur in a roadside inn.

Once he had her naked, he did not want her to dress ever again. Or at least, not for a few days.

Daphne’s hands ran down his chest, towards the front where his breeches were still roughly buttoned, and he tried not to moan when she groped him through them, but when she climbed into his lap, he knew he had to stop this. The only thing worse than taking her in an inn would be to have her in this carriage. Touching her, bringing her to peak, that was one thing, but to have her body and his connecting in such a small space, with so many just outside?

The first time he had his wife, he wanted her spread out for him, so that he might take his time, give her every joy, have her body soft and delighted for him. He could not achieve such things in a bouncing carriage. He would not have it, even if Daphne thought she knew better.

“Slow down, my darling,” he murmured against her lips, trying to pull back from her slightly. “I know you are eager, but it is a long journey to the inn where we shall be staying. Please trust me, once we are at Clyvedon Castle, I will have you naked within moments.”

He kissed at her cheek, her neck, and Daphne sighed as his mouth went lower, to her collar bone, to as low as his mouth could go, when she suddenly jerked away from him. He looked up, startled that he had done something to upset her already. Her lips, however, were parted, her eyes wide, clearly shocked.

“You intend to wait to consummate our marriage at your estate?” she asked, her voice rather higher pitched than normal.

“Daphne,” he said, trying to keep his voice from sounding too patronizing. “I would not want to take you anywhere that I do not think you would be comfortable. It should be in a home, our home , not-”

“Then take me to our home here,” she said, her eyes big and wide as she looked up at him. “I know you stayed with Lady Danbury while you were in London, but you do have a House here, do you not?”

Simon immediately wanted to dismiss her - the staff had already been sent ahead to Clyvedon, the limited staff that remained were not maids and staff and cooks, but-

“We would have to be on the road before morning,” he said, a grin sliding over his lips. “Lest anyone see us as we make our grand escape to the countryside.”

Daphne smiled back at him, then shifted forward to kiss him quickly on the lips. “I do not intend on sleeping this night, your Grace. We can sleep on the road, do you not think?”

He kissed her back, his hand going around the back of her neck to hold her close as he pressed himself against her, wanting to feel all of her. Soon. His brilliant little wife, thinking around the situation-

He stuck his head out of the carriage window, calling to the driver to instead take them to Hastings House. He did not need to see to know that the driver and the footmen were likely all surprised, but Simon did not care. This was his wedding night, and given the way that he felt for Daphne, the staff would soon grow used to the Duke being unable to keep his hands from his Duchess.

“Five minutes, my darling, and we shall be back at my- our house,” he murmured into her throat, pulling Daphne back into his lap. 

Daphne went to him willingly, her arms going around his neck. He pressed open mouthed kisses to her throat, then lower, sucking at her collarbone, then the tops of her breasts. He could not wait to have her free from this dress, to take off her petticoat, her shift, unlace her stays…

He could not wait to unlace her stays and allow her breasts to fall free into his hands.

“Tell me what you’re going to do, what we’re going to do,” she gasped, her sweet voice coming out in gasps, as though she was unable to even breathe fully from need and desire.

His hands went down to her legs, straddling either side of his lap, and he drew up her dress in search of the top of her stockings. First thing… those were coming off.

“I’m going to undress you, slowly,” he insisted into the valley between her breasts. His mouth moved higher, back to her throat, before he continued. “Then I’m going to explore your body with my hands and my mouth until you’re begging to peak.”

A breathy moan came from her lips, and he pulled away from her skin to chase it, to kiss her lips once more and swallow each of her sighs. She kissed him back, lips parting as she moaned again, his fingers reaching the top of her stockings, but she pulled back, looking down at him, her face flushed.

“And after I beg you?” she asked quickly, her eyes bright and shining at him.

“Then,” he said softly, his hands slipping up higher, cupping her backside through the folds of her shift, that last layer still in his way of truly grasping and kneading her bare skin. “Then, I’m going to undress, and enter you. You will peak upon my cock, again and again, until we are so tired, we can no longer move.”

His eyes had remained on hers as he told her what he intended to do, and she gasped at his final words, her eyes closing as he mentioned being so tired they could not move. She rocked her hips against his and he groaned, feeling the layers between them become near nothing, only the cover on his trousers keeping them separated.

He could have her, right here, right now, if he so chose.

He resisted, however, and instead, let his hands move up to her waist. He could feel the bottom of her stays, the top of her short skirt shift, and his thumbs rubbed over the bare skin there as he rocked and rolled her. He could feel the wetness through his breeches even now, and it was a struggle to resist the desire to not just take her.

If they were not so close, he very well might, and God help him, he would never forgive himself, but who could judge him? With an angel such as Daphne on his lap… it was a wonder he had resisted for so long.

The carriage arrived at the side of the house, the servant’s quarters, and Simon gave the footman and the driver a nod. “Feed and water the horses, but expect us to leave within the hour.”

“Only an hour, your Grace?” Daphne asked, a smile on her lips as he pulled her up the steps.

Daphne walking was taking too long, and he scooped her up amidst her laughter, carrying her up the steps and into his home.

“An hour, you minx, and then we must be away before anyone notices. Most neighboring households are within, but those that wander the night are out, and I would not be surprised if your brothers discovered we were still within the city.”

Daphne was still shrieking with laughter, her arms around his neck as he continued taking two steps at a time, wanting her in his bed, here and now. “What of it! We are married!”

Simon laughed all the same, using his foot to push open the door to his bedchamber. “Because, while your brother is a terrible shot, I would not like to duel him!”

He set her down onto the floor, then turned to the bed, now covered with one of the sheets that was placed over all furniture. He stripped it off, then went around the room, pulling the sheet from the sofa, the chair, the dresser - it was not a proper first night, but it would do.

“Simon,” Daphne whispered, and he turned to see her fingers at her throat, unhooking her cloak.

Oh, how he wanted to go to her on his knees and worship her, but first…

“I must start a fire, wife, or you shall freeze once I have you naked,” he insisted, each word feeling thick and heavy in his throat.

“Or you could warm me up,” she requested, grinning at him.

Simon bit into his bottom lip, knowing it would take time to find a servant, anyone within the house, to come and light the fireplace… Time that he did not want to waste. At least the candles within were lit, likely done quickly once whomever was keeping watch over the house had seen the carriage approaching.

He would have to give whomever it was a large Yuletide gift for the forethought.

“Oh Daphne, what have you done to me,” he asked of her, going to stand before his wife. His hands reached for hers, interlocking their fingers while he raised them to his lips. He kissed the back of each one, and then released them, his fingers going to her throat.

“Tell me again,” Daphne breathed out.

His fingers unhooked the clasp of her traveling cloak, and he took it from her shoulders, setting it over the back of the chair before the fire. Then, he turned her away from him slowly, stepping forward to press his back against her chest, his fingertips running from the top of her shoulders down to the middle of her back, where a row of buttons began.

“First, I’m going to undress you, and then I’m going to taste you…”

 

Daphne could not breathe as Simon’s hands slid over her body. First, his thumbs ran over the top of her dress, and she had thought he would begin to unbutton it, but instead, his hands moved back over her shoulders, down over the tops of her breasts, and then lower, lower to her stomach, to her hip. He held her close as his mouth pressed against her throat, and Daphne could do nothing but moan, her hands going to his forearms, digging in to keep herself upright. 

He had just said he would undress her, but this felt to be taking ages. His hands were rubbing at her hips, keeping her body close to his, and she could feel him, his length, hardened against her lower back. She had felt it earlier that day, first in her hand and then in her mouth, and now, she wanted it the most important place of all. It was so large, so much thicker than she had expected, and long, so very long.

Yes, Daphne had explored herself, sort of, but her tiny fingers had felt so intrusive on her lower body. The thought of that within her, stretching and spreading her… a part of her was nearly afraid, but the other part of her was secretly wanton and lusting for it. She wanted to feel him within her, feel him split her in two, become a part of her, the two of them unable to escape one another.

“Simon,” she begged, her body leaning back against his as her legs became weak. “You promised, and I am already begging.”

Her eyes closed as his lips parted against her neck, sucking on a spot so hard, she thought it might bruise.

“Oh, my darling wife, you have not even begun to beg. Allow me to unwrap you at my pleasure, for indeed, you are the greatest gift I shall ever receive.”

She gasped at his words, her breath feeling heavy in her chest, and he stepped back, one hand moving to her back. He seemed entirely at ease, unhooking each button, five of them, until her dress was becoming loose around her. It fell to the floor, leaving her in her skirt shift, her stays, and her stockings. She wanted to turn around and look at him, but she felt him move behind her, going to his knees. 

She had to force herself to stay upright, her hand going to the chair beside her, and she held onto it as she felt Simon’s hands go to the top of her legs, lifting her shift so that he could reach the top of her stockings. He undid each garter, then slid her stockings down and off her feet. She held onto the chair as she shifted from one foot to the other, and then she turned as he rose, turned to look up at her husband once more.

“You are so very beautiful,” he said softly before leaning forward to kiss her. Daphne kissed him back, losing herself in the moment until she felt his hands go to the back of her corset.

He must have done this before . Daphne tried to not think on it, but within seconds, he had it untied and unlaced enough that she was holding it up with her forearm. Simon then returned to his knees, working at the tiny pearl buttons at her hip, unhooking them. The shift fell to the floor, and then Daphne released her corset, so it too fell to the floor.

Her eyes were down, lowered, as she stood there naked, waiting for him to say something. She watched as Simon rose up from the floor, but he said nothing, just touched her, her shoulder, her neck, her cheek, and then he was lifting her chin. She closed her eyes, letting him kiss her, and then she felt his bare hands running down her sides, her back, until he reached her buttocks.

“Please, forgive me,” he groaned, but he did not release her, and Daphne did not mind. “If you need me to slow down, I will, or to stop, but Daphne, you must say the word.”

She could not help herself but to laugh, to laugh at the idea she would want him to stop, or to even slow down. In fact, all she wanted was for him to move faster, for him to be as naked as her, for his body to be over top of hers, to show her all of the ways a man could worship his wife.

She had had enough of talk; she wanted and craved his touch.

Her laughter continued even as Simon pulled away, his brow raised. She feared she had upset him, but instead, he looked amused. Her hands went over her mouth, trying to slow her laughter, but she could not do it.

“Oh my God, why am I laughing?” she asked, her giggles continuing through her words.

“I do not know,” he offered, shaking his head, a smile sliding over his lips. “But it is lovely to hear.”

“No!” she gasped, and she reached out to him, ignoring the fact she was naked and wanted to cover herself, instead grasping his waistcoat. “No. Please, Simon, make me be quiet, or draw another noise from me, I beg of you.”

“There it is again, that word,” he said as he stepped closer, his hand going around her back, sliding low into the dip above her rear. “ Beg . You do not yet know the meaning of the word.”

“All talk,” she retorted.

Simon’s hands went to her waist and he picked her up, lifting her so her legs went around his waist. He was still fully clothed, including his coat and cravat, and she wanted to tug at his neckerchief again, to use it to drag his lips where she wanted them.

“Onto the bed, your Grace,” he said with a growl, and he tossed her back onto the bed. She nearly bounced as she landed, her legs spreading open and her arms going across her middle.

She grinned, watching him approach the bed, crawling onto it in front of her.

“Are you going to use your mouth now?” she teased, pushing herself up onto her forearms.

“Now, I’m going to prepare your body to take me,” he instead replied, grasping her by the outside of her knees. He tugged her down onto the bed, setting her legs over either shoulder, and leaned down, beginning to lick at her slit.

“Simon!”

 

Simon was surely in some sort of afterlife paradise as he undressed his wife. With each layer removed, he saw more and more of her soft skin, until eventually, he was on his knees, rolling her stockings down her legs, exposing her perfect toes, her creamy skin, the little dip at her knee, even a few freckles that dotted upwards. He wanted to explore them all with his mouth, to explore her body with it as he had promised, but first, there was a delicious scent he was chasing.

And, he wanted to be within her. There would be time to worship her body later, after they had finally become one. He had waited long enough to be with the woman he loved. He did not intend to wait much longer.

His fingers tugged at the laces in her corset, until eventually, it was loose enough it could fall from her body. The pearl buttons on her shift were tiny, but he unhooked those as well, until eventually, she was naked for him, bare.

He removed no layers of his own clothes, for fear that if he did so, he would be unable to wait. This was her first time with a man, and she had only just touched herself for the first time a few days before. He wanted her body weeping for him, soft and pliant, so that when he slid into her, there was no resistance, that she felt only pleasure and not pain. 

She was beautiful, his wife. He had always known that, even from before he knew her, but to see her now, naked, trusting him… Oh, he was a fortunate man indeed. This was his reward for his years of trial. This was the greatest gift. Daphne Bridgerton, Duchess of Hastings…

He loved her more than he could ever even imagine.

His hands ran over her shoulders, her arms, touching her, marveling in her. Nothing could be more perfect than this, the ability to simply touch her. Simon knew that this must be a dream, for she was too lovely indeed. “Please, forgive me. If you need me to slow down, I will, or to stop, but Daphne, you must say the word.”

He did not think anything else could stop him in this moment, and when he heard her laughter, his heart soared. He could imagine it might be nerves, but she asked him to change the noise coming from her lips, and he was all too happy to do so. 

He scooped her up without thought, his hands kneading into the softness of her back end, and he imagined flipping her onto her belly, taking her from behind… soon. Or later. There would be time for that, but not this first time. Simon knew he was not a small man… the first time, he would need to be gentle, cradle her, have her allow him to settle between her thighs. Next time, perhaps.

“Are you going to use your mouth now?” she asked him, and he looked up, a grin sliding over his lips as he did so.

“Now, I’m going to prepare your body to take me,” he said with a growl, His hands reached up, grabbing her legs, and he yanked her back towards him where he kneels on the bench, her legs going over either shoulder. She was completely bare for him now, unable to pull away as he grasped the tops of her legs, keeping her in place as his mouth found her clit.

She was screaming his name within seconds, and it spurred him on. She needed only say the word, to tell him to halt, to slow, to anything, but instead, she gasped and grasped for him, her hands on the back of his head. His hands found hers in seconds, their fingers interlocking, and he pressed her hands into the bed, so she could not pull away from him.

His mouth was diving into her, licking and sucking at the nub, at her slit, at the opening, but his eyes never left hers. He watched, watched for worry or concern or stress, but then Daphne’s head was falling back, and her fingers tightened on his. He squeezed back, sucking the nub back between his teeth, and then she is shrieking once more. 

She called out his name, begging for release, a plea coming from her over and over again. It was music to him, to hear her so lost in her own passion, and he licks her through it, until her back is bowed off the bed and she’s crying out. She soaked his tongue, his beard, the blankets, but he does not care.

Releasing one of her hands, Simon’s fingers went to her slit, two of them together. They curled within her, stroking, and she’s whimpering louder, clearly sensitive, but still not asking him to stop. He added a third, and it’s tight, but when he curled his fingers within her, she gasped and struggled against him.

His fingers immediately withdrew, his mouth leaving her clitoris, and his hand releasing hers. He pushed himself back, eyes wide, waiting to hear-

What was that ,” she gasped, her voice sounding harsh and ragged, likely from all of the screaming she had done thus far. “That stroking, Simon-”

Oh, the minx, she had felt him touching her at her most sensitive point, and nearly lost her mind. He would work her up to it, the idea of having her spread out for him to tease and enjoy for hours, but right now, he wanted another one from her, this time from deep within. It would help her muscles to relax further, to have it all worked out.

“That is the most sensitive spot within you,” he informed her, sliding up on the bed so he laid beside her. His hand went back between her legs, and he ran his hand up and down the inside, before pressing three fingers back at her slit, running them up and down before pushing them inside. “Let me give you another peak before I take you.”

Daphne nodded, her eyes closing as she leaned in towards him. He was surprised, that she was willing to kiss him with his face damp from her juices, but she had not cared earlier either, and he was delighted, to know she would not withdraw after he had pleased her.

He kissed her, hard enough to distract, as three fingers went as deep as they could, before he began rocking his fingers within her, curling and stroking. His thumb sought out the nub again, rubbing at it over and over. She must have still been so sensitive from her first peak, because within moments, her hands were grasping at his arms, nails digging into his skin.

He pushed her through it, dragging every last bit of pleasure from her, until she was boneless beside him, her head falling back as he sucked his fingers into his mouth.

He could get drunk on her and her alone. The way she responded to him, looked at him, sang for him… a man could very well lose his mind, lose his very sanity with such a siren in his bed. She had called to him and he was powerless, particularly now that he was so close to having her. To think, he had thought to wait until Clyvedon, the next evening, to have her…

“Am I prepared enough?” his wife asked, her breath still coming in little pants.

Simon grinned, climbing off the bed, returning to the foot of it.

“Why don’t you come help me undress, and we find out together?”

 

Daphne felt utterly boneless after not one, but two peaks. Was this what utter bliss felt like? Her whole body was tingling, and yet also on fire, but also somehow chilled? It was a mix of sensations that she could not properly organize in the slightest. What she did know, however, was that nothing about this, or him, was little. Whatever her mama had been going on about…

She had no idea what happened in a marriage bed.

Watching Simon move to the foot of the bed, a cocky look on his face, Daphne was unable to find any sort of shame in herself. A part of her wanted to cover, to hide, but her husband was worshiping her with his eyes, and she felt powerful from it. There was something in him, something about the way it looked at her, there was no reason to feel embarrassed of her nudity. Not at all.

Not when he looked at her like she was a goddess, and he was there to pray.

Climbing off the bed with him, Daphne went around, looking her husband over, much as he had done with her. She enjoyed this, how Simon would act, and she would then respond. He had undressed her, worshipped her, and now, she intended to do the same.

Her fingers went to his vest, and she unbuttoned it quickly, pushing it down his shoulders and onto the floor without care. The suspender straps went next, pushed off so they could hang from his waistline. The cravat, she grasped in one hand, tugging him to her. She rather liked holding both ends and leading her husband about - she would do more of that in the future

Simon went to her willingly, and she went onto tiptoes, kissing him. His hands moved to her backside, down to her rump again, and she wanted to feel him do that once more, lifting her up into his arms, except that next time, he should be as naked as she was. Her body rubbed against his, her naked and him still half clothed,  and he groaned into her lips as she released the neckerchief.

It fell onto the floor, and then Daphne was left to tug his shirt from his trousers.

Simon helped, lifting it over his head quickly, and she was left to look at his naked chest, smooth, no hair, the light from the candles making him look to glow. He was so beautiful, and now, he looked like a piece of art, or perhaps a statue. Truly, he was a man that filled many fantasies, shaped them and molded them, and now he was hers. All hers.

Her fingers went to his shoulders and trailed down, lower on his chest until she reached his abdomen. He was so firm and solid, and she ran her fingers over the hard edges and lines, making him gasp at her touch. She could not help but to giggle, her teeth catching her bottom lip as she did so, and then she looked up at her husband, smiling up at him.

“Hello, wife,” he murmured softly, bending down towards her.

“Hello, husband,” she whispered back, closing her eyes as she went onto tiptoes, cutting the distance between them.

Their lips caught in a sweet kiss, so gentle, and she hummed happily into it, delighted at how his own hands moved to her back, holding her close. She could melt into him in this moment, and be perfectly content, having known what true joy was within his arms.

Still, she forced herself to pull away, wanting to see the rest of him. 

Simon kicked off one boot, and then the other, and she took a step back as he toed off his stockings as well, leaving him in just his trousers. He turned slightly, showing her the buttons, and she reached for them, tugging at them hard to get them unbuttoned enough that they fell to the floor, joining the rest of their clothes.

He stepped out of them, towards her, and just like that, they were both naked.

“Would you like me to return your attention to preparation?” she asked, not certain what else she should call it, placing her mouth upon his… form.

“No, no, I would ask that you not,” he said with a smile.

He stepped towards her, pulling her body to him, and for the first time, she felt her naked flesh meet his. There was such warmth in him, his body so hard, but in no way rough. His arms went around her, pulling her close, and she wrapped her own arms around his middle, tilting her face back so that she could kiss him once more.

He hummed into her kiss, as she had done earlier, and she smiled against it, finally withdrawing so she could climb up onto the bed, settling herself in the middle so he could join her there.

“What are you going to do next?” she asked, her voice cracking slightly as she spoke.

His hand reached down, stroking himself, and her eyes watched as he pumped himself a few times, much as she had done just an hour or two ago.

Had it truly been only an hour ago, if even? Had it been thirty minutes? She could no longer remember the passing of time, the events that had occurred - all she knew was that she was with her husband, no one knew they were here, and they would not be interrupted again.

“Now, my body is going to enter yours, so that we may become one,” he said, his eyes running over her body. She felt herself become enflamed, every tip of her form on fire, and she gasped softly at the words, arching her back slightly as she slid higher, until she was sitting like a queen at the head of the bed.

“And after?”

She wanted to sound seductive, enticing, even with her innocence. She knew that there was more after that, after they were joined. At some point, the actions created children, and there had to be another peak. Would he peak with her? Would she peak again?

“And then…” 

He swallowed hard, and she noticed then that he looked to be nervous.

“What is it?” she asked, leaning forward, no longer reclined back on the pillows.

“And then… then we shall enjoy one another until we both peak.”

It should have been something he said with joy, desire, happiness, lust… instead, he looked nervous at the thought, and not because it was their first time. No, something in his words was upsetting him.

His hand touched the foot of the bed, as though he was about to climb up towards her, but she would not allow it. Moving to the side of the bed, Daphne quickly climbed off, which seemed to pause Simon in his movements. She went around to him, and she longed to not be naked, particularly with how vulnerable Simon looked to be, but there was nothing to reach out and grasp, save for their dropped clothes and the bed spreads.

“Simon, you look as though you feel ill. What is it?”

He was swallowing hard again, and she noticed that his hand had fallen from his body, the stiffness within the member having started to fade. Whatever was the matter, she could not allow this to continue. She could not enjoy herself when her husband was clearly in pain.

He would not look at her now, his eyes stuck on the floor, and his lips kept parting, as though to speak, with no words coming out. She did not want to place words for him, nor did she want to force him to speak, but she could see him withdrawing from him. Her husband had such pain, she could not allow it, not when she might be able to ease it, whatever the burden was that was falling onto his shoulders once more.

She remembered, then, the day that he had proposed. Had it truly only been a few short days prior? It felt so long ago, eons. The time when she was not to be his wife, it felt so foreign to her now, now that she was his in wedded bliss, and had only been such for half a day. Such a different life she had led before Simon.

Even the time since the start of the season, it felt as though years had passed.

That vow. He had told her, when he came to her, that he had made a vow, one which he was breaking for her… was it that vow, now, that held him back? She could still remember it clearly, Simon mentioning his father, a man that was cruel and wretched, a man that he truly hated. What little she knew from Anthony was that she would not have liked the man, if he were still alive.

He had made a vow to take no wife and to have no children. He had broken it, in marrying her. Was the second part of that vow what held him back now?

“You made a vow… to take no wife, and to have no children… is that what is holding you back from me now?”

She tried to keep any anger or pain from her voice, although she felt some fear. She longed to be a mother, to have a family, a fact that Simon well knew. Was he wanting to go back on that vow now? Was he rethinking having children with her? Surely… she did not know the specifics… there had to be a way in which they could prevent it, at least for a time, until Simon was ready?

But, what if he was never ready? Would they never be man and wife?

Was he already regretting breaking that vow for her?

“Simon… please, speak to me.”

His eyes finally met hers, and all she saw was pain. He looked to be in true anguish, his shoulders slumping forward, his eyes darting to the bed, then back towards her, and she felt terrible. Clearly, he was truly upset. She had caused this, somehow, although she did not know for certain what it was she had done.

Making a split decision, Daphne decided to at least cut down some of the vulnerability, reaching for the blankets from the bed. The sheet came with it, and she wrapped one around her own body, and then the other around his. Simon seemed to accept it, his gaze lost, and he sunk down onto the sofa within their room, his weight collapsing down onto  it. She went to him, sitting at his side and taking his hand, waiting for him to speak.

She would always wait for him to speak, whenever he was ready. He was always worth waiting for.

 

Simon could not find the words to speak.

He had not thought that he would find this to be difficult. In fact, he had thought that all was well. He had forced the words out to her, the day that he had proposed. He had told her that his father was a cruel man, had told her of the vow, had even told her that he was breaking it for her, because he wanted her more than he wanted to keep the promise he had made his father on his deathbed.

And, while Simon had not said the words out loud, he already knew that he loved Daphne far more than he hated his father. He loved her so much, he wanted to have a family with her, and wanted to have a future with her. He loved her so much, he could see happiness on the horizon, and knew that with Daphne, there would be more good days than bad.

But now, as he said the words of what he planned to do to her, to be within her, to peak together, for him to peak within her…

Now, he was filled with fear, self doubt, loathing, and hatred. Because, if he did this, there was no taking it back. If he got Daphne with child, there would be no running from it, no running from his past. How could he be a good father, when he did not know what a good father was? And, now that he thought about it, how could he be a good husband, when he had never seen his father treat his mother with any respect.

The only kindness his father had ever given his mother was a statement that she had done her duty in providing a son. Once Simon’s own brokenness was discovered, however… it was his mother’s fault, or so his father said. Never again did he hear a kind word pass his father’s lips. It was his mother’s fault, always. His mother’s fault that Simon could not talk, his mother’s fault that he stammered, his mother’s fault that he was broken, his mother’s fault that he was a failure.

Nevermind that his mother had been dead ever since the very day of his birth.

If Simon was to place blame, he would place it entirely on his father’s shoulders. The seed was weak, others would say. His father’s own failures reflected in Simon’s, of course. It was his father that had created the son, not the mother that had reared him, who had been the perfect Duchess.

It would be much the same, if Simon was a father. Simon would fail his children, never know how to show them love and affection, would expect too much of them, he was sure of it. He did not know anything else.

And what if he lost Daphne? What if she bled out, just as his own mother had done?

He did not remember freezing, did not remember Daphne wrapping him in a blanket, nor did he remember sitting down. The next thought that clicked for him was that Daphne was holding one of his hands in both of hers, her head on his shoulder, patiently waiting for him to speak.

Her gentleness, her kindness, her patience, it knew no bounds. He was a fortunate man, indeed, and wholly unworthy of her attentions.

“I am broken, Daphne,” he finally said, his voice cracking on both the word that shamed him, and on her name. He hated it, hated that he fumbled for his words. He had not done so in years, and now, with Daphne, he was broken once more. “A failure in my father’s eyes.”

Daphne said nothing, and he wanted her to agree with him, to accept him, to push him away… he wanted her to yell at him, to tell him otherwise, to coddle him as Lady Danbury once had.

He did not know what he wanted. And all he received was silence.

Simon let out a staggering breath, and realized, then, that he was not done talking. Had Daphne realized that? Was she… was she not rushing him?

“My speech… I did not speak until I was much older. And when I did, I stumbled over my words. I knew my numbers and my letters, but it was not enough. My father, he sh- sh-” Simon wanted to yell, to hit something, to get angry, to throw things, but instead, he swallowed it down, forcing himself through. “He shut me away. I was an embarrassment in his eyes. It would have been better if I was dead.”

Daphne said nothing still, yet her grip on his hand tightened, a squeeze to keep them connected, a sign she was not letting go.

“It was more than that. He pushed my mother through pregnancy after pregnancy, despite her struggling to conceive, always losing early along. And when I finally came, she passed within moments of my arrival. My father… he was not even in the room, too pleased that he finally had a son. A son that, in the end, was his greatest disappointment.”

He could feel Daphne growing tense beside him, but she said nothing, and he let out another shaky breath. He should do this, should confess his fears. She was his wife. They were to make a life together. If they wanted this to succeed… He had to be honest with her. No secrets. No building fears or anxiety. He must get this out. He would not allow this to go any further until he had done so.

“I was expected to be perfect, and instead, I was a disaster. Without Lady Danbury, I would have never gone to school… but even after I overcame my struggles, my father never responded. He ignored every letter I sent. It was never good enough. I was never good enough. And sometimes… I loathe him. How can a father hate his son so? And then… I think he was right. I have grown up to be a failure. I push everyone away, I abhor conversation, I aim to end my family line… I am truly not worthy of his love.”

He could feel Daphne shift against him, and he turned just in time to see his wife straighten up, her mouth dropped and her eyes wide, a clear picture of horror.

“Simon,” she gasped, one of her hands dropping his. “Please, tell me that you do not believe you are unworthy of love.”

He had no answer for that. He wanted to push it aside, say that it was absurd, that he should be allowed to be loved… but it was the truth. He was a Duke, a near royal, and there were expectations… and yet, he was a failure in everything. Even this, bedding his wife, he was failing in the task.

“Oh…” she breathed out, her free hand going to his cheek. “Oh, Simon.”

He said nothing, but he could feel tears in his eyes; another weakness his father had tried to beat out of him. He was always one of two things - either he was too emotional, too upset, too pathetic - or, he was too detached, silent, simply watching and not participating.

It was not the right look for a future Duke. His father had lamented that often enough.

“Your father… Simon, he may have made you think that you had to be without fault to be loved, but your father was wrong. Just because something is not perfect, that does not mean it is any less worthy of love.”

Her fingers curled over his cheek, stroking his jaw, and he closed his eyes as she forced his face to look towards hers. She continued stroking, brushing over his beard, over his cheek, her thumb brushing his lip, and he tried to not cry, despite how close he felt he was to doing so.

“Simon… a father’s duty is to love their child, despite everything, and to raise them up to be a good and kind person. To raise them up to face their own duties. An inability to speak… why, Hyacinth, she did not speak until she was nearly four, and Gregory, he often spoke with such speed, none of us ever understood him. And Eloise, she often used words that were far larger and mispronounced, but-”

“I had a stammer, Daphne, I could not speak at all. I would sit mute, for days on end.” His words had snapped out of him, in a way he had not meant to, but now, he was angry - not at her, of course, but at his father. His father, who did not love him, who despised him. “He told me it would have been better if I was dead, and sometimes, I truly believe he was right.”

He expected his wife to yell, to strike out at him, to snap at him, to something. Instead, she simply stared at him.

The hand holding his released, and then, she was touching both sides of his face. Her blanket fell away with the movement, but he did not look away from her eyes as she shifted closer, up onto her knees on the sofa, so that their eyes were nearly level. He could not look away as she filled his view, filled his senses.

All he could see and know was Daphne Bridgerton.

“I love you,” she finally said. “You may think that you are too broken and damaged to be loved. You may think you have too many scars, too many flaws, too many imperfections. You may even think yourself too dark and shameful. You can say that you think he was right, but do you know what I see?”

He shook his head, his ears still ringing with her first words. She loved him. She had said she loved him.

“I see a man that is kind. A man that is gentle. A man that protects a woman’s honor. A man that was willing to walk away from his desire because he was selfless, even though I find that to be stupid. I see a man that longs for a family, whether it be siblings or a parent or children I do not know, but a man that is truly lovely, that smiles at me like my mere presence is his happiest joy, a man that could one day love me as much as I love him.”

Her thumb went over his lips, stopping him from speaking, not that he had intended to do so. His eyes simply stayed on hers, and he watched her face as it shifted, from one of near anger and fear, to softening, to the look she gave him and him alone, as though studying him, tracing every line of his face, every bit of worry fading from him as though she were painting his skin with a look.

“Should you ever need any proof that you are worthy of love, then look no further. I love you, Simon. I love all of you. And I’m going to continue to love you. I choose to love you. Even when you doubt yourself. Even when you are afraid. Even when you do not want to talk, when you want to shut yourself away, I will still love you. And… I hope that one day, you can choose to love me, as much as I love you.”

She licked her lips, and then her hands fell from his face into her lap. The sheets were pooled around her lap, but he did not even look at her lovely breasts, instead allowing his eyes to fall to her hands. 

“It is up to no one else. It is your decision. If you wish to have children with me, if you wish to not, if you wish to be my husband, if you wish to pull away… it is your decision, but I am telling you, here and now, that I will love you, burn for you, crave you, desire you above all others… and not just your body, but your mind, your spirit, your mere presence within my life.”

She rose from where she was sitting, her feet going to the floor and the blanket falling down around her. She paused where she was, looking down at it, and she finally bent down, picking it up with one hand, and walking towards the bed.

“Whatever your decision, we should likely rest before we leave for Clyvedon. If you would like… I would greatly enjoy being wrapped up in your arms. I have thought on it, a few times, the idea that you might want to hold me in your sleep. If we are to have separate bedrooms… I would at least like to share this one night touching you.”

She went to the bed, and then, Simon could finally breathe. He gasped, forcing air into his lungs, so loudly that Daphne turned where she stood to look back at him. 

He forgot the blanket, forgot his fears, forgot his worries - Daphne loved him. She loved him so much, she would allow him to choose. To choose their future. To perhaps even give up her dreams for him, only wanting to have him near her, even if just for the night.

“Daphne, do not-”

He felt he could not breathe, all of a sudden again his lungs felt full of pain and emotion, and he half stumbled to her, grasping her by the waist, pulling her to him. 

“I want a future with you, I do. I want to be with you. I want to never be parted from you. Separate bedrooms? I would never be separated from you again, if I had my choice. And, I do. I do choose you. I choose a life with you, a future with you. I choose to love you.”

Daphne smiled up at him, tears coming into her eyes, and he smiled back, feeling the tears running down his cheeks. He tried to suck them back in, his back of his hand running over his cheeks, and then he pulled her close, his lips pressing to her forehead.

She said nothing, her own arms simply wrapped around his middle, holding him tight.

They held onto one another for a long minute, not letting go.

“I do not know how to do this,” he finally whispered against her temple, still not pulling away. “I do not know how to be a husband… how to be a father…”

Daphne seemed to relax in his embrace, and they swayed slightly where they stood, until she finally pulled back enough that she could look up at him. His eyes locked with hers, and all he could see was understanding and love. He hoped to never again see anything other than love in her gaze.

“And? I do not know how to be a wife, or a mother.”

“But, your mama-”

“Simon, I have seen how she behaves, and I love my mother, I do, but my mother told me nothing. She allowed Anthony far too much freedom at the start of my season, does not reign my brothers in, and allows my youngest siblings to run wild. I know how to be an elder sister, but I do not know how to truly be a mother.”

He wanted to tell her she could do anything, be anything, but instead, he was silent.

“We shall learn together, with time,” she said, her hand moving from his back upwards, out from his embrace, and up to his shoulder, the side of his neck, his jaw, his cheek. “We have all the time in the world. A lifetime together.”

He swallowed down his fears of losing her and nodded.

“I do not know… is there a way we might prevent pregnancy for a time?” she asked, her head tilting to the side slightly.

“Do you not wish to be a mother?” Simon asked, surprised. He had thought it her greatest desire.

“I do,” she replied quickly, her hand moving back to the side of his neck, stroking there. “But, I desire to be your wife first. For a short time, perhaps. To enjoy one another. Learn one another.”

He liked the sound of that, and he grinned, his hand sliding up and down her back. 

“There might be… if I withdrew from you.”

There was confusion in her gaze, and he remembered how little she knew…

“But,” he said after a moment. “It is not said to be a guarantee. And… I should like to be close to you. As close as I can be. If… that would be acceptable to you.”

Daphne smiled up at him, and it was like seeing the brightest light on the horizon, a beacon calling him home. He had never considered anything to be home before, not the estate, not London, not Hastings House, not school, not even Lady Danbury.

But Daphne… Daphne was his True North. So long as he followed her, he would always be home.

“I simply desire to be your wife, Simon. Now, and always. If you wish to take me to bed, to be within me… then I could desire nothing more.”

Chapter Text

Daphne stared up at her husband, letting the words float between them. She wanted him. She wanted to be with him. She simply wanted to be with him. To exist, to have time, to touch and talk and discuss - she wanted a life of together, where she could touch him and kiss him. She wanted to know him, to know his touch on instinct alone, to know what it felt like to have his arms wrapped around her, to spend hours on end just touching for the sake of touching, wanted to feel this night with his body wrapped around hers.

Children… they would come with time, and before then, Daphne would learn to be a wife. Yes, a Duchess, but more his wife. She wanted to learn Simon’s favorite foods, what songs he enjoyed, the books he read, even how he liked the bed turned down, or the strength of the fireplace. She wanted to know the intimate things, and wanted to learn all the things about him that would make her love him more, make her choose to love him over and over again.

The hand running up and down her back had stilled with her words, but then, Simon was tightening his grip on her, his hand sliding around her back to her hip, grasping her body fully against his. They were both naked once more, the blankets having fallen to the floor during their discussion, and she suddenly blushed, realizing she could feel him against her stomach, the length of it beginning to harden.

His eyes left hers, and she realized he was looking at her mouth, her own eyes moving to his. He kissed her hard, his grip on her hip tightening until her legs were almost trying to tangle with his, although they did not lift from the floor. Her arms went around his shoulders, the tips of her fingers digging into his skin, and she gasped as his kiss moved to her jaw, her neck, and down to her collar bone.

From there, he continued, open mouthed kisses going towards the top of her breasts, and then lower, catching a nipple within his mouth. She had not known that she could have so much pleasure from a mouth upon her skin, an immediately pleasant shockwave from his touch going straight from her breast to between her legs. One breast was left abandoned as he went towards the other, the cool air making the point harden after his warm mouth.

Back and forth he went, lapping and sucking at each point, until Daphne thought she might lose her mind. She tried to catch his lips in a kiss, but instead they went back to her skin, at her collar bone, her neck, below her ear, and then at her hairline.

“Please, allow me to take down your hair,” he whispered into her ear, and Daphne was powerless to stop herself as she nodded, a moan escaping her as his lips parted and he open-mouthed kissed at her neck again. “Let me feel it run through my fingers, I beg of you.”

“Yes,” she gasped, her eyes finally falling closed as she allowed herself to get lost in the feeling and touch of her husband. He was overwhelming her, consuming her, and she was powerless to do anything but simply enjoy his presence… and his touch.

His mouth left her skin, and then he was turning her body away from his, his hands sliding down from her shoulders where he had grasped and spun her, down her breasts, to her hips, over the tops of her legs… one hand slid between her thighs and she arched her back in response, gasping as her shoulders pressed into his chest. His mouth returned to her skin, sucking at her neck, and she nearly fainted as his fingers found the sensitive nub hidden in between her legs.

“Simon-”

“I know, I know my love, but I cannot stop myself from touching you,” he groaned into her ear.

Still, his hands left her body, and she tried to not shiver from the cold as her eyes opened and she felt his hands on her hair.

He removed each pin, each comb, slowly but surely. He seemed to take great pleasure in it, as much as he had when he had undressed her, and when another section of hair fell, he would run his fingers over it, as though checking there were no tangles. She tried to keep from moaning as the last pin was removed and her hair fell around her shoulders, but it was impossible when the pads of his fingers pressed into her scalp, soothing from where the pens had earlier been pulling. 

It felt delicious, and she was delighted he had taken the time to do such a thing, but this was not how she wanted him to explore her.

“Please, Simon, make me wait no longer,” she begged, her body pressing back against his. She could feel him, the hardened length against her backside, and she wanted it within her. Surely, that was what it would do, what it must do. As large as it was… it was to go within. She could wait no longer.

“Up on the bed,” he whispered against her brow, and he pressed a kiss there. “And lay on your back. Let me see if you are ready for me.”

She whined a little at that request, as her body had been ready for him earlier - surely it still was now. Still, she did as requested, laying on her back - but she was not alone for long. Simon climbed on with her, one of his legs settling between hers, and she gasped as she felt his length fall onto her thigh, the heavy weight of it shocking her.

“What do you call it?” she asked suddenly, and Simon blinked at her, clearly not understanding her question. “Earlier, you called it… you called it your cock ?”

It was spoken like a question, for that was what it was, but she received no answer, save for Simon groaning, his hand going back between her legs.

She forgot her question when she felt his fingers spreading her apart, his thumb going to the nub he had teased before. She nearly jumped from her skin at his touch, and she gasped as she felt a finger slide within her. Her hips rocked upwards almost immediately, shifting her body on the bed slightly, and then she felt a second finger join it, spreading her slightly. His fingers must have separated, because it felt like more, and her eyes nearly rolled back in her head as she felt him stroking her slowly.

“Made for me,” he insisted, his forehead pressing to hers as he curled his fingers within her. “You were made for me.”

Daphne lifted her neck and head up just enough so that she could kiss him, her lips catching his in a sweet and gentle kiss. His lips pulled away for a breath, and then again, they kissed slowly, almost like an experiment, as though they had not already kissed many times before. It felt newer, more intimate.

Daphne’s hand lifted from the bed beside her, touching his chest, and then slid lower. Simon gasped against her lips, but she did not stop until her hands were at just above where his trousers sat on his hips. Just a few more inches from touching him.

“May I touch it?” she asked against his lips.

He seemed to choke on the words, even his fingers stopping in their stroke, and he gave a nod, kissing her hard. With the shift of him, his cock , for that was what she was certain he had called it earlier, rubbed against her upper leg, and against her wrist. Her fingers wrapped around it quickly, and she was delighted to feel it throbbing within her hand, a pulse to it.

“I shall not last long if you touch me thus,” he murmured against her lips, and she grinned into it, rubbing the side with just her thumb.

“Mmm, but you shall have to last, husband, as you are teasing me and making me wait.”

His hand withdrew from her, causing Daphne to whimper softly, and then she felt his length leave her hand, the weight of it then settling in between her legs. She could feel how large it truly was in comparison, now, and had to question whether it would truly fit - although, she kept that question to herself.

“I am a fool for having made us wait so long, wife, but I shall make you wait no longer.”

His lips moved to hers, a distraction from whatever he was doing with his hand, and Daphne could do nothing but lift her eyes to look up at her husband. His eyes were entirely on hers, as though their souls were connecting, and then he kissed her again. Her eyes drifted close as her lips parted, and she could feel him moving on the bed, shifting so both of his legs were between hers, her legs spreading further and lifting higher.

Daphne knew she was completely open for him now, spread out on the bed, her hair loose around her shoulders, her arms falling to either side, her legs hiked up high, almost to his waist, but in truth, she felt no shame or embarrassment. In fact, this whole process, she had barely even been nervous. How strange, that she already trusted her husband so much… the power of love, indeed.

Lifting her head up just enough, Daphne kissed Simon harder, her eyes pinching shut as she did so, and then she felt it, an intrusion on her body. Her head fell back onto the pillow, eyes immediately wide, and she gasped at the feeling of him at her entrance.

“This may hurt,” he said softly, his eyes on hers, and she gave him a nod. Yes, a bit of pain… it was natural, of course, entirely natural, as he broke within her, taking away that last bit of her, so of course with the blood there would be pain, and she could grin and bear it, she would show no fear, let him see no pain-

The length of him within her was strange, different, but she felt no pain. Her teeth caught her bottom lip, waiting for it, waiting for the pain that caused so many to cry, as she had been warned about - except, as he sunk in lower, she felt utterly delicious. A moan escaped her as she felt what must have been the entirety of him within, and she could not help but to smile.

“Are you… well?” he whispered, as though scared to interrupt her thoughts.

She nodded, smiling brighter at him, nearly on the verge of laughing, and she lifted herself enough again to kiss him, her legs hiking higher up onto his waist, trying to pull him closer, as though upon a horse… although, she was underneath him.

Simon did not seem to hold back, his body moving over hers much as she imagined, withdrawing and then pushing back in. She braced herself for the pain again, but instead, her body was melting under his as he set a steady rhythm. A few seconds in, a few seconds out… this was lovely and pleasant indeed. No pain, nothing…

The preparation. It made sense, now, that he had spent such time. Was that what he had meant, preparing her body for him? Preparing her to take him? Her mind was spinning with hundreds of thoughts, of questions, and they all seemed to jumble together,

His lips left hers, although they hovered just a few inches away, and Daphne opened her eyes to look up at him, to see how he was watching her, his lips parted as he too gasped for air. Her hand went from the bed to his shoulder, his neck, anything she could touch, anything to urge him on. She wanted more, although more of what she could not explain, simply more of his body and hers rocking together, connecting, his body filling hers.

His hand moved from where it was beside her hip on the bed lower, until it reached her knee. Daphne moved on instinct, lifting her leg higher, and she felt Simon grasp underneath the bend, holding her open for him. The change in the angle made her body hum, and thoughts about children and pleasure and pain were completely lost as her head fell back. She wanted to cry, wanted to scream, to shout, for everyone in the ton to know that her husband was within her, that he was rocking her body towards something she could not describe, and she tightened her grip on his neck, pulling him back to her over and over again.

“I beg of you, please,” she gasped, her voice a high pitched whine to her ears. “Please, I never imagined, I’m so close, although I do not know to what.”

It was different this time, something like the carriage, although also more, as he lifted her leg higher, reaching deep within her. His thrusts seemed to slow, and she wanted to cry, to hit, to demand.

“What did you imagine?” he asked, his voice a purr against her ear. His forehead was pressing against the side of her head, so she was unable to see him, which helped to keep herself from blushing too quickly. “When you touched yourself, what did you imagine?”

She remembered back, not even a week ago, the first time she had touched herself. She remembered thoughts of him, of his body over hers, of him touching the bare skin of her back, her hair, her lips… She imagined him between her legs, touching her, spreading her, exploring her.

It was nothing compared to this. She never could have imagined this. The warmth of his body over hers, the delicious sliding of skin together, the way his mouth left kisses on every sensitive spot, how he spread and filled her, how their bodies seemed to rock together to some song that she did not know - she was made for this. Made for him, Made to be like this with him. It felt as natural as breathing. As natural as existing.

“You,” she gasped, tears prickling in her eyes. “I imagined you, touching me, being over me, but this is better, so much better, so-”

She felt his free hand between her legs once more, and he rubbed against the nub that already felt so sensitive and swollen.  The scream that was ripped from her was surely loud enough to wake the whole street, but she could not stop it, could not stop as her head pressed back into the pillow, as her back arched, and as her legs shook from the pleasure. It was overpowering, overwhelming, her entire body on edge as he kept moving, the thrusts timed with his fingers. 

He did not stop moving within her even as she felt the rush of pleasure through her, and she cried out again, gasping his name, her nails surely drawing blood as they dug into the skin at his neck. His fingers slowed, but his movements within her sped up.

She had thought them well timed before, but now, now he was moving as though in a race, as though he were pushing his prized racehorse towards the finish line. She gasped with each thrust, unable to catch her breath, until she felt him stiffen within her. He seemed to be on edge, frozen, and she thought to ask if he was okay, his face a picture of shock-

And then his eyes pinched closed, a groan coming from his lips as his hips jerked, and she felt something extra within her, more wetness, something that made him no longer fill her as much as before. His hips moved a few more times, and then he was falling to his side beside her, allowing Daphne to finally catch her breath.

She rolled onto her side almost immediately, as though the change in position would help her lungs to draw breath, and she looked to him to see his eyes wide, as though in shock.

Daphne could not help but to laugh, almost like the nervous laughter that had come from her when she was first undressed. Simon laughed with her, a few chuckles, and he reached towards her, his arm going over his chest as he drew her towards him.

She went to him willingly, her body pressing to his, and she noted how sticky she felt, both between her legs and on her body itself. How strange, to have worked her body so hard, that even now her heart was racing. 

She could not help but to laugh again  as Simon looked at her, searching, as though he could not find something important.

“I love you,” she whispered, smiling at her husband. She could not believe he was real, that this was real, that she could feel his warm body wrapping around hers, that she felt the evidence of their coupling drying between her legs.

He smiled back at her, his face soft, and his fingers brushed over her temple, pushing her bangs back from her face. “Are you well?”

She nodded, still smiling, although her face softened as well at the gentleness, how his hand kept moving from up and down her back to her temple, then into her hair, then back down once more. It was as though he could not stop touching her, and she would certainly not complain.

“I feel… perfect,” she responded, her words feeling soft and airy as they passed her lips.

He smiled back at her, then moved closer, his lips pressing to her forehead, and then his body shifting so that his head was resting on the pillow beside hers. Their temples were touching, and she smiled, curling up against him slightly.

“Rest…” he said against her cheek. “We shall have to leave soon… but for now, just rest.”

Daphne closed her eyes, and did just that.

 

When Simon next opened his eyes, it was to see his wife staring at him, a smile curling over her lips. Her fingers were running over his face, touching his jaw, his cheekbone, his temple, across his brow, down his nose, over his lips… he did not move, barely even breathed, as she finished her path, her hand finally settling on the side of his neck.

“How long have you been awake?” he asked, his voice sounding far more hoarse than he had intended.

“Just a few minutes,” she whispered back, her voice soft and whimsical. “It has only been an hour or two. Listen- you can still hear the city move outside.”

And indeed he could; there were sounds of carriages returning home from dinners, of groups of young men heading out towards the clubs, of dogs being taken out towards the park now that society had gone to bed… A short amount of time, but now he felt well rested enough that they could rise, and go about their journey.

“I long to hear only silence,” he murmured, his eyes closing as his lips and nose brushed against her temple. He pressed two kisses there, then dipped lower, kissing her brow, her eyelid, her nose, and then her lips.

He kissed her lips slowly, softly, a kiss, then another, over and over until eventually, her lips parted for him, and he could not drag his away. Her hand moved from his neck to his chest, and then lower, until it wrapped around his middle. His own hand went over her shoulder, down her back, until it finally reached her backside where her hips dipped before flaring out. His body pressed to hers, holding her tight, and he was loathe to remove himself from this bed, but it had to be done.

“I long for you again,” Daphne breathed against his lips when they withdrew for air, and he groaned, wanting nothing more than to give in.

“We must be away from this city, Daphne, lest your brothers discover that we are in residence.”

“But we are wed,” she insisted, her lips parting against his with the last word, drawing him in.

Any thought of responding was lost as his wife pushed on his shoulder, forcing Simon onto his back. Her body moved with his, so she was laying half atop him, one of her legs between his. He could not resist but to thrust his hips upwards as her hand moved down towards him, grasping his length in her tiny grasp. He had never questioned his size before, but with his wife’s dainty fingers wrapped around him, he felt like a king, or perhaps even a God.

“You entice me, woman,” he groaned against her lips, and he ran his hand into her hair, his fingers spreading in the long tresses, holding her mouth to his.

She moaned into his kiss, and he rocked his hips again, thrusting up into her grasp. He could feel her own body rocking against his upper leg, and he could even feel the wetness there. His leg moved with her, searching between her folds, until he felt her rock her hips and he could feel all of it, her need for him, the heat of it, the warmth that he longed to be within.

“And I cannot resist,” he growled out, his hands moving to grasp her waist. “If you mean to have me, then you shall be on top.”

Daphne blinked at him just before he lifted her upwards, and her lips parted, clearly confused, as he settled her over top his stomach. His hand went down between them, pumping himself once, and then he lined them up, his cock parting her folds in search of it’s warmth.

She worked with him, her legs bending and her hands going to his chest, and when he finally let her sink onto him, Daphne’s eyes seemed to roll back in her head as her head fell backwards, a gasp escaping her.

“Ride me,” he encouraged, his hands rocking her hips, helping her to adjust to him. “Like you would a horse. Rock your hips with mine.”

Her fingers dug into his chest at his encouragement, and she moved her feet, her knees. He watched as she found the right angle, moving herself around on him, and he groaned as he felt her body clench around him. This was a torture, but it would be a sweet death indeed, to have one such as her riding atop him.

“That’s it. You have this, Daph-” he groaned, his own head falling back as she started moving. A grin slid over his lips, and he let his own arms fall out of the way, his feet planting into the mattress as she started moving, giving him a bit of leverage to push himself upwards, giving him more depth. “God, woman.”

“Wife,” she gasped.

He blinked, the word what leaving his lips without thought.

“I’m your wife ,” she gasped, a high pitched squeal leaving her lips with the last word.

He grinned, thrusting his own hips upwards, and then looked down between them, his hand finding where hers was going, back between her legs. His fingers joined hers, and they both found her nub together, the wetness making it slippery to find it, but find it they did.

Together, they moved their fingers, rocking in time with the way Daphne moved her hips. Simon grinned up at her, pleased and amused at his little wife, clearly so determined to do well, to do this right. Her lips were parted, eyes half closed, and he thought he had never seen such a vision before in his life.

Another time, he would leave open mouthed kisses down her body, would flip her over and take her hard, perhaps even from behind… but he would not interrupt this. She would come into her sexuality, with time, would discover what she enjoyed, what she desired. She clearly seemed to enjoy this.

“I’m so close,” she gasped, and one of her legs shifted awkwardly, as though she was having a hard time. “But I don’t think-”

“Allow me,” he murmured, his hands moving back to her hips. He moved her body for her, lifting her up and then tugging her back down, forcing his own hips upward in time. Her fingers kept rolling over the nub, and he watched her free hand leave his chest, and instead go into her hair, drag down her neck, to her breasts, squeezing one of them.

He could feel it building, the need to finish, but he tried to ignore it, wanting to last longer than his wife. His feet moved higher on the bed, planting them in, and he bit into his lip hard enough to draw blood, determined to push her over the edge. 

Little pants and gasps came from her lips with every thrust, and when he finally felt her start to tighten around him, he pushed harder, forcing her body deep onto him, unable to escape how far he was. With a few jerks, he was emptying himself into her, his hand moving from her hip back to between her legs, pushing her the rest of the way over the edge. She sobbed into his chest as she fell forward, and he held on tight to her, his own body still twitching. 

He had never felt so sensitive in his life, every part of his skin both ice cold and yet on fire, and he had to resist the urge to not get up and shake it off - he did not want to offend his wife, who was now slumped over his body, still not moving, even as he softened and slid from her.

Daphne let out a little gasp, stuttered, as though her body was too tired to do much more than breathe, and he ran his hand up and down her spine, soothing her as she continued to try and catch her breath. Neither spoke, neither moved, save for his hand up and down her back. It continued until her breathing evened out, and he thought she had fallen asleep.

He was nearly drifting off himself when she spoke, startling him enough that his hand paused in it’s movements.

“Will it always be like this?” she whispered into his skin.

He did not know what exactly this was supposed to mean… but he knew what was on his mind.

“I will always love you,” he said, his voice firm, not a whisper, not even soft. He wanted to be sure that she understood what he was saying, that he had no doubt in it. “I will love you for the rest of my life, and beyond.”

She sniffed slightly, and he wondered if she had been crying, or if tears had simply come to her eyes. He held her tighter, his hand spreading over her shoulder, not allowing her to pull from him, wanting to give her comfort, to keep her close.

“I meant the sex…” she said with a bit of an awkward laugh, and he smiled to himself slightly.

“I imagine, with time, we will slow down. Perhaps we shall hit moments where it is not so exciting, or when we are busy… but I will always desire you like this. I will always long for you in my bed… and so, we shall share a bedchamber, for as long as you will allow it. We will spend our nights together, every night, whether we are making love, or simply holding one another.”

She hummed into his skin, and he could tell she was shifting as though to fall asleep, particularly as her legs moved, allowing his cock to be completely freed from her warmth. He felt sticky and gross from their combined fluids, but he could not bring himself to rise, even knowing that she should relieve herself and clean up, particularly as this was their second round.

Still… he had something to say, before she drifted off.

“I have always been alone,” he confessed, his fingers pressing one at a time into her skin, a single pulse before moving onto the next finger. “And I never feared it. I accepted it, my lonely life… but I have never feared it. Not until I knew what it could be like to have such companionship as this. I fear it now, the thought of being alone, of not having you by my side.”

Her breathing was slow and deep, and he thought that she had fallen asleep, but then her head lifted just enough that he could turn and look at her, their eyes locking together. Her voice was soft as she began to speak.

“Shared bedchambers, shared lives. Meals together, activities. When you come to London, I shall always join you. When our family goes to the country, you will always join us. You shall never be alone again. I will always be with you.”

She finished her words with a soft kiss to his jaw, and he could feel tears welling up in his eyes as she laid back down, her head on his shoulder.

They should get up. They should rise and dress, prepare themselves for the journey, should clean up from their relations…

But right now, in this moment, everything was perfect, and he was loathe to end it.

Responsibilities and duties, their new house, their honeymoon, it could all wait until tomorrow. Tonight, he would simply hold his wife tight, and never let go.

 

When Daphne opened her eyes again, Simon was still asleep - a second time she had woken up before him. She had to wonder if that would be normal - would she often be the one to wake up first? Well, Daphne was often the one up before her brothers, so perhaps it was a thing that men did, sleeping in late even when there was work to be done.

Then again, it was still dark outside, although she thought that she might see the first rays of dawn on the horizon. They had not bothered to draw the heavy curtains that would block out all sunlight, instead simply relying on the normal day curtains, which provided privacy.

Shifting on the bed, Daphne knew she had to relieve herself and clean, particularly before they left. She looked about the room and found the chamber pot, but she could not find a basin with clean water… which would make sense, given that no servants were in residence. She would have to make do with one of the bed sheets, and she did so, attempting to wipe away what was left of the two of them between her legs.

Looking back over her shoulder, she saw her husband starting to shift, his hand going out towards where she had been on the bed. Daphne was not accustomed to sharing a bed with another, although she could find joy within it. Simon, however, looked used to such an idea, his hand already reaching out, seeking her warmth. She would not think on it further than that - she was within his bed now, and he would never stray. Of that, she was certain.

Going back to the bed, she climbed onto it, noticing that, beneath the sheet that he had drawn over them, Simon was hardening once more. She was quite sore, of that she could be certain, but Daphne did not care… already, just the thought of the pleasure he could give her made her want him again.

Just once more, and then they could begin their journey. After all, his length was hardened and needy, looking to be verging on painful, with so much blood flow within. 

She could put her mouth upon it… 

Her hand went down to touch him, but he seemed to wake almost immediately, one eye cracking open to look up at her. She froze with her hand just over top, and he quickly moved, rolling her onto her back and climbing over top of her.

He did not kiss her; instead, his chest hovering over her, his lower body settled between her thighs.

“Good Morning, wife,” he said, his voice sounding exceptionally pleased.

“Good morning, husband,” she hummed up at him.

One of her legs went around his waist, trying to draw him down, and she leaned forward, trying to kiss him. He resisted, however - he knew it was late, and that they must be away, and soon. These summer hours, the sun rose far too early each day. They did not want to be seen as they left for the country.

“No, you vixen. We must dress and be away.”

She pouted up at him, her lower lip coming down as though she was one of her younger siblings, but he resisted all the same, pressing a kiss to her forehead. He climbed off of her, looking around for his pants, and heard her moving about on the bed. 

Finding them, Simon picked them up, glancing around as well for his stockings, when he heard a huff come from his wife.

Turning, he  looked to see her body stretching… although she was not on her back. No, instead, she was laying on her stomach, her chest pressed into the mattress, her knees bent, and her buttocks up in the air, giving him a lovely view as she stretched out, showing him the round globes of her backside, and then her pretty slit, swollen from the previous night’s attentions, but already dripping for him once more.

“Did you do that on purpose,” he growled, dropping his pants to the floor.

Daphne looked over her shoulder, the picture of innocence, and he knew that she could not be aware that men could take their women in such a manner, but he felt unable to escape all the same, needing to press into her body, take her like this.

His hand gripped her hip, tugging her back against him as he ground herself into her arse, and she gasped, likely feeling his cock pressing at her folds already.

He was going to fuck her just like this, until she could not move, and then he would wrap her in the bedspread and put her in their carriage completely naked otherwise, so he could fuck her all the way to Clyvedon-

A knock came at the door, and Simon was ready to growl, to go and demand who had dared to bother him and his wife, when he remembered that it could not be a housekeeper, nor a maid, nor even a cook. The only people that knew they were here were the driver and the footmen.

And neither would have any reason to knock and interrupt them…

“What is it,” he called out, his voice sounding rough.

“Your Grace, there is a group of Bridgertons at the door, one demanding a duel…”

Simon said nothing for a moment, then listened to what was outside. The Master bedroom was on the top floor, but you could still hear the city below, particularly the front door if you listened close enough.

Still, his wife climbed out from underneath him and went to the window, looking downwards.

She remarked, “Why, I can see my brother’s horses. How did they even know we were here?”

Simon groaned, climbing off the bed, and went to the door, banging one hand against it.

“Five minutes, and we shall leave. Have the horses and carriage ready, and be prepared to make haste. I have no desire to shoot any of my wife’s brothers this day.”

Daphne was still at the window when he turned around, and he quickly found his pants, his shirt, his stockings and boots. He dressed quickly, and watched as she finally turned around and pulled on her own shift, and then fumbled with her stays, attempting to lace them by herself.

Simon helped her, his fingers feeling clumsy, but it was enough that she was within her underclothes. The dress, he was able to hook enough buttons, and he draped his coat over her shoulders to protect her modesty.

Her hair was a mess, and he did not bother to fully button his shirt nor tie his cravat in any manner, and both of them were carrying their shoes, but there was no more time.

As they went down the stairs, they could hear the pounding more clearly, along with the voice of her brothers.

“I KNOW YOU’RE IN THERE,” came the booming voice of Anthony.

“Brother, they are wed, and you are still drunk,” insisted Benedict.

“Hungover at this point,” came the groan of Colin.

Well then. All three of the fools were in attendance.

Simon took his wife away from the front door and towards the back, lifting her up into the carriage quickly and settling in beside her, pulling all of the blankets over them both. He banged his hand on the roof, and away the carriage went, jostling them.

“Look, there they go!” called the happy voice of Colin.

And with that, the chase began.

Daphne was laughing as they left the city, the carriage going as hard as it could manage. Simon could see Colin with a flask, laughing as they rode, while Benedict was trying to keep up with Anthony, who was waving his riding crop in the air as though it were a pistol. Simon had seen Anthony’s aim a time or two, and knew it to be terrible - a good thing he was lacking a bullet, then.

“Shall we always have our time together interrupted?” Daphne asked, her hand gripping onto his arm as the carriage jostled.

He looked down at her, his face tender, as he wrapped his arm around her. Daphne quickly tucked herself into his side, even as the carriage continued shifting and moving about. The blanket, he tugged into place, making certain that his wife was warm in the chilly early morning air. He could not stop touching her, no matter what, his hold on her firm, secure.

She had promised that he would never be alone again. He intended to have her keep that promise.

“We shall steal five minutes, five hours, five days, five weeks together, five months, five years-”

“Five decades?” she offered. “I think that is what comes next, is it not? Shall we have five decades together?”

It was a very long time, but if that was what his wife demanded of him…

“Is that your request, your Grace? That we plan to steal away five decades together.”

She gave him a kiss, and Simon answered it quickly, closing the curtains to the carriage, and pulling his wife back into his lap.

Chapter Text

Simon watched as his wife carefully laid their son down into the bassinet within the nursery, her face softening as she brushed her fingertips over the babe’s cheek. He often did the same, so mesmerized by his son, by the perfect child born from the union of the two of them. To think, so long ago, that he had thought to deny himself this joy, this happiness…

To think, that he had once thought he would rather be alone.

Daphne lifted her gaze up from the baby, as though she knew his thoughts, and she smiled towards him, then settled a blanket over the boy. The baby did not move, as he was well and truly asleep, and he watched as his wife touched the baby’s chest one last time before walking towards the door that separated the nursery from the Duchess’s bedchambers.

Simon had already closed the door that led into the Duke’s bedchambers, knowing that would be the first place anyone looked for them. It was where he and Daphne still shared a bed every night, even when she was round with child. It was where he took her as often as she allowed, enjoying wave after wave of passion between them. It was where he held her after she gave birth, encouraging her and whispering to her how proud he was.

The Duchess’ bedchamber was now more of a lounging room. The bed was the one that she gave birth in, but there were long chaises to enjoy the fresh air coming from outside, and it was where Simon often enjoyed having his wife in the morning, after the baby was laid down for his nap.

Daphne reached the doorway where he stood, and Simon stepped back, smiling at his pretty little wife as she came into the bedchamber, closing the door behind her. They both waited a breath, to make certain that the noise of the door closing would not awaken their son, although it never did. 

When she finally turned to look up at him, Simon quickly caged his wife in against the door, his hands going to either side of her head, and his lower body pressing her hips into place.

“The midwife said last week that you are well, but I did not want to ask until you agreed that you are ready for my attentions once more,” Simon groaned, his body already hardening for her.

Daphne’s head had fallen to the side, exposing her throat to him, and he began peppering kisses there.

“My body… it is struggling to return,” she gasped. “I had not thought… that you would… Simon-”

Was that what it was? He had been without his wife for nearly three months, and he was hard for her at every moment. She was still the most beautiful of women, and now that she had birthed his son and heir, he wanted her even more.

He did not even care that it was a boy, of course. All that mattered to him was that his wife was alive and well, that their son was in perfect health, and that they were both happy. That all of them were happy.

“I desire you,” he insisted, his mouth finding that spot beneath her ear. “Always, Daphne. I always need you. My body aches for you. Say the word, my love, and I shall fall to my knees here and give you such pleasure.”

His teeth dragged against the little spot that always made Daphne’s knees go out, and it seemed to work, her hands going to his chest, tugging at his shirt, his vest, and then his cravat, still worn loose after all this time.

“You will do no such thing,” she growled between clenched teeth. “In me, you total arse! I need you in me, Simon!”

He was a good man, a good husband. He always did as his Duchess commanded. Always .

“As you desire,” he growled, kissing her hard, using his mouth to keep her pressed into the door as his body shifted back, his hands going to his clothes.

It was much as it had been in her bedroom so long ago, his hands going to the front of his trousers, and he released the buttons, his cock bouncing free from its imprisonment. His shirt and suspenders remained on, as he knew time was limited, and he reached down to Daphne’s knees, grasping her long gown there and pulling it upwards, gathering more and more fabric until it was all around her waist. 

Her own hands joined his, pulling her shift up and to the side, until he could see the inside of her pale thighs, the soft hair there, and his favorite place in the world. He had been without it for so long, and he nearly bent at the knee to taste her again, but his wife stopped him, her hand back on his neckerchief, yanking him back to her lips.

Simon went willingly, his free hand stroking his cock, much as it had just that very morning while he was alone, and then he was lifting his wife up, her legs wrapping around his waist as she sank onto him.

They had not done this position in so long, not since they had discovered her to be with child, but it was one of his favorites. Simon groaned as her heat sunk onto him, neither of them able to escape. All Daphne could do in this position was feel and enjoy, with no worries about keeping with his rhythm, no concerns for her own pleasure as he controlled it, only giving her the ability to fist into his shirt, to grasp at the door frame above, and to kiss him as much as she liked.

Like this, Simon had only to lift his wife enough that he could slide out and back in, and even then, she was so deep onto him, her weight entirely reliant upon his body, his waist, his legs, his cock.

The kiss he pressed to her lips was hard, so hard he thought it might bruise, but Daphne gave no complaints as her hands fisted in his shirt and vest. He was glad he had already lost his coat, wanting to feel her fingers through the fabric, to feel her clinging to him with every thrust.

He grunted, rocking her harder, using the door to anchor himself, and he could already feel a bead of sweat at his brow.

Christ, this was harder than it had once been, keeping her up like this, lifting and fucking her with any sort of rhythm. But, he would be damned before he gave up. He wanted to feel her juices running down onto him, down into his trousers, to have her struggling to take a few steps after. 

Simon could feel his arms growing tired, and he knew he had to shift his arms and his hips if he wanted to find her nub, but it felt impossible. When had this become so difficult, to fuck his own wife? What had happened to them?

“Simon, stop teasing me,” Daphne begged, her back arching off the door in an attempt to get closer to him. “Please, let me have my release.”

She was begging for him so beautifully, as he had taught her, as they both enjoyed, but he was growing tired. Dammit. He was better than this. What was the point of being a former Rake if he was now unable to drive his wife to madness with his skills?

Simon knew he had to give in, and he withdrew, letting Daphne’s feet fall to the floor. Her eyes opened, lips parted, as though to question him, when he spun her around, pressing her chest to the door. Her head turned to look back at him, and he lifted up her skirts, stepping up between her legs and sliding back home into her.

This… this he could do. His fingers found her slit and he rubbed at the nub, pushing his wife quickly over the edge. She sang for him, cumming hard over his cock, and he kept fucking her through it, biting at the inside of his cheek as he did so. He would not finish until his wife was done.

When the last little shriek came from Daphne, Simon moved his body again, one hand curling around her hip, the other pressing into the door above her head. He yanked her hips back against his, happy to be back in this favorite position of theirs as well. 

He had fucked her like this nearly every night while she was with child… pressed against the door, bent over his desk, hanging onto the bed post. He loved having her this way, able to relax and enjoy, not worrying about her belly, nor having it crushing the rest of her body.

He knew how to push her to another orgasm with just his cock like this, and he was determined for one more, knowing what would greet him.

His thrusts were hard and purposeful, and were it not for his hand on the door, keeping it pressed shut, it would surely jostle so hard that it would wake the occupant within. Daphne was clawing at the wood, unable to find purchase, and her face turned to press into his forearm, her mouth going around the skin, biting into it as though to keep herself silent.

“Come on, Daph- One more. You can do it.”

The little shriek that came from her told him that she was close, and he grunted into her neck as he leaned forward, not willing to give up.

A few more thrusts, nearly taking her off her feet as he did so, and he was rewarded, feeling her fluids release around his cock, spreading down the front of his trousers, and down within. He knew it had even reached his boots, and he grinned, finally allowing himself his own release.

A few more grunts with his last few pushes, and Simon was pressing his whole body against Daphne’s, the strength of the door being the only thing to keep them both up.

It was a few seconds later that he heard the sound of feet running down the hallway. Three sets of feet, in fact.

Daphne gasped, easily pushing Simon back, who was left to look at the front of his pants, knowing he must change before they were interrupted. Daphne was reaching for one of the many cloths that she used after labor, sitting in a neat stack on the bedside table, and she cleaned off her inner thighs, then tossed it to him.

“You have to go and change!” Daphne insisted, but Simon already knew that they had been caught.

He could hear the door to the Duke’s bedchamber opening, and then the door connecting it to the Duchess’s flew open as well.

Three little girls in matching dresses stood there, although the last looked to be exhausted after such a run through the hallways.

“Mama! You said you would join us for tea once the baby was down!” their eldest daughter said cheerfully.

Daphne was the picture of a perfect Duchess, saying nothing in regards to the fact that Simon was awkwardly holding up the front flap of his trousers and reaching for his coat, trying to cover up the fact that he was not fully dressed from his children.

Daphne, however, was now delicately touching her lips, brushing out her dress, and even rearranging her hair. She looked as though she were completely untouched, unaffected… except, when she took a few steps, she looked a bit unsteady.

Simon could not help but to smirk.

“My apologies, darlings, but your father and I were enjoying a moment alone. I shall meet all three of you in my sitting room in a few moments. I believe Mrs Coulson is finishing up the arrangement right now. Go go, little loves, and I shall be there momentarily.”

The first two did as told, giving their father a smile, but the last toddled instead towards Simon.

He wanted to go to her, to scoop her up and smother her in kisses, but he knew better - if he did so, he would lose his covering over himself.

“You as well, my lady,” Simon said with mock seriousness.

The little girl fell hard on her bottom but grinned up at him before pushing herself up and running full force after her sisters.

Simon watched as all three disappeared back from where they had come, leaving the couple in peace.

“We shall never have more than five minutes alone again,” Daphne said with a grin, walking into the Duke’s bedchambers. From there, she entered the wardrobe, and found a pair of trousers for him. Simon kicked the door shut, and began undressing himself, changing into a clean set. 

His wife had thoroughly marked him, but propriety did demand that he change.

“Yes, well, I adore each of our daughters, even though they often interrupt us,” he said, kicking off his boots as he went to finish changing.

Daphne handed him the trousers, then stopped at the door before exiting. She had a soft look on her face as she watched him, soft and tender. It was not a look that said she was eyeing him for another round. No, it was the look of a woman that loved a man more than they loved their next breath.

“I adore our family as well,” she said softly.

Simon stopped in his changing and went straight to Daphne, pulling her into his arms, his chin resting on the top of her head. He held her tight, not willing to let go, wanting to hold her for all eternity.

“We shall never be alone again, my love, but I would not change that for the world. I would take a lifetime of being interrupted with you, over never again holding you within my arms.”

Daphne’s arms wrapped around his middle, holding him tight with a squeeze, and he smiled softly, knowing that after five years of marriage, his love for her would never wane. She was his light in every darkness, and their children were precious gifts that he could never, would never, abandon.

In truth, Simon would never understand what was wrong with his father. Becoming one himself… Simon had once thought that there was something truly wrong with him. He had thought that he deserved to be thrown away. He thought he had failed in some truly grand manner. He thought he, in turn, would be unable to love his children, as his father had never loved him.

Instead, what Simon had learned was that children, and a family, were his greatest joy. He longed to see such happiness, to give children such happiness. He loved all children, not just his own, but their nieces and nephews, the children of the village, even all the children of the ton .

He would rather spend an evening with children, over spending it at any ball or event.

Daphne had given him such light, such hope. He knew himself now. He was no longer a Rake, no longer just a Duke, no longer a boy that stammered. He was no longer the boy that felt no love.

Now, he was a man. He was a loving husband. He was a doting father. He was a playful uncle. He was a pivotal and upstanding member of society. He was well thought of, he was well spoken, well read, and a good benefactor.

Daphne had saved him from a life of loneliness. Daphne had saved him.

“I love you,” he whispered into her forehead. He already said it every day, every morning and every night, every time they were forced to be apart, but he had to repeat himself now, so that she knew it, without a doubt. He never wanted her to think he did not love her. He never wanted her to doubt his affection for even a moment. “I love you, Daphne Basset.”

Daphne pulled back just enough that she could look up at him with a smile. She was so beautiful, so radiant, and he knew that she would lament that her hair was starting to fall out as her body returned to normal after their son, and she would note the dark circles under her eyes, or perhaps even insist that there were wrinkles he could not see. All he knew was that she was beautiful, the light of his world, and he could do nothing but soak in her presence.

“And I love you, your Grace. Every single part of you.”

She went onto tiptoes, kissing him softly, when he heard a sound come from within the Duchess’s rooms. No, further than that. A sound from within the nursery.

They shared a smile as Daphne went back onto flat feet and stepped towards the nursery, when Simon stopped her.

“You promised our girls that you would enjoy tea with them. I would be a poor substitute for their mother. Go, enjoy time with your daughters. I’ll take care of our son.”

Daphne smiled up at him brightly, and he knew she did not doubt him. He had been there every moment, rocking their children, walking with them, even changing a few nappies when a nurse was not nearby. He knew how to take care of their child, but Daphne was always never more than a step away. 

This would be the first time Simon was alone with his son, without the mother nearby.

“Thank you,” she said softly, and she pressed another cheek to his kiss. “Perhaps this evening we shall enjoy some time together uninterrupted?”

They both knew their son struggled to rest at night, and Simon laughed, giving a nod.

“If not this evening, my dear, then first thing when we wake up?”

Daphne gave him a wink as she went to the door, opening it to step out, then looked back over her shoulder.

“I’ll pencil in five minutes,” she offered, then looked him up and down. 

Simon glanced down with her, remembering that he had still not pulled on the clean trousers, and blushed, reaching for where he had dropped them onto the bed.

Daphne was laughing as she walked away, Simon pulling on his suspenders and buttoning himself up, even as he crossed the way to the nursery, opening the door to his son.

When he entered the room, he saw beautiful eyes open and looking for him. Simon felt his heart leap within his chest as their son smiled at him, and Simon scooped the boy up, holding him tight to his chest.

“There, there, my son. I am here. Do not worry, your Papa is here…”