"Oh!” Miss Flora Greysteel said. “Oh dear!”
Arabella Strange looked up from her novel. The drawing room was suddenly filled with the scent of pine and windblown moors. It was a delightful smell, decidedly invigorating. She smiled at her friend.
“What did you say?”
Flora blushed. “I was only trying out a spell. I didn’t think it would actually work!”
A small suspicion rose in Arabella’s mind. “What kind of spell?”
The blush on Flora’s cheeks became a deep crimson. “It- it was a spell called For the Quickening of Spirits Concerning Convivial Society.”
With an exasperated sigh, Arabella put down her book. “Really Flora! I can’t imagine a more inappropriate spell for an unmarried young lady to try. It’s not something any woman, no matter of her marital status, should ever even consider!”
Flora hung her head. “I know. You won’t tell Papa and Aunt Greysteel, will you?”
“I think I won’t. I’m glad no one is at home apart from you and me and the maid, though. Otherwise I wouldn’t have any choice.”
The room was silent for a few minutes and Arabella returned to her book. Flora fidgeted in her seat and eventually remarked the room felt unusually stuffy.
“You don’t mind if I take a short walk, Arabella? I feel the need of some fresh air.”
Alone Arabella shook her head. There was nothing wrong with an inquisitive mind, but sometimes Flora could be a little reckless. Then she continued reading, not feeling too concerned over her friend’s ill-advised choice of spell. Not until the maid opened the door to admit John Childermass.
He greeted her and then looked around the room. “Have you been doing magic, Mrs Strange?”
“Oh no, it was just Flora who was practising a little. Won’t you sit down, Mr. Childermass?”
They sat down, and Arabella thought he, this particular morning, made an unusually striking impression. He wasn’t handsome, exactly, not like her Jonathan had been. But his figure was well turned out underneath his worn coat. And with his black hair and eyes he made a rather romantic looking fellow. Smouldering eyes, really, she mused and felt a pleasurable frisson down her back. It made her think of unfair life sometimes was. You fall in love and you get married and realise that the bedroom activities are something remarkably agreeable. Only to get abducted by fairies and have your husband disappearing into the darkness. And suddenly you find yourself thinking a casual visitor smells absolutely divine. Childermas smelled, she realised, exactly like Flora’s spell.
Arabella tried to pull herself together. So the spell had had an effect after all. It was sheer luck Childermass hadn’t been in the house when the spell was cast. She gave him a polite smile and realised he had stopped talking and that she had no idea of what he had said before he fell silent. Now he was staring at her with a slight frown.
“I beg your pardon, Mr. Childermass. I’m afraid I didn’t catch the last thing you said.”
Childermass looked confused for a moment as if he didn’t know exactly what he had said either. Then he rose, took a few long strides through the room and pulled Arabella up from her chair and kissed her. Then he took a step back and looked at her in horror. He did not, however, let go of her.
“I am terribly sorry, Mrs. Strange. I don’t know what came over me.”
“Not at all, Mr. Childermass. I can assure you it wasn’t your fault.”
Childermass looked suspicious. “What kind of spell was Miss Greysteel doing?”
“I’m afraid it was a very unsuitable one. I thought it wouldn’t affect you, but I seem to be in the wrong.”
“I should go.”
“Yes,” Arabella agreed and applauded herself for sounding so resolute.
Childermass nodded decisively and let his hands slid down over her arms. It felt very nice. His hair, though ragged, looked soft and touchable. As he kissed her again, Arabella let her hands sneak up and unknot the ribbon of his queue, letting it fall to the floor. Running her fingers through his hair she could conclude it was very soft indeed. Like silk. Ridiculous really that a man should have hair so immensely touchable. Childermass moaned into her mouth, his own hands busy skimming over her body in an exceedingly pleasant way.
They broke apart, both of them panting slightly, and Childermass shrugged out of his coat, throwing it carelessly to the side. Not to be undone Arabella tried to untie the bow of her chemisette, but it proved to be too stubborn for her suddenly shaking fingers. Childermass solved it by simply ripping it off, thereby exposing a good deal of Arabella’s breasts.
Arabella thought Childermass looked a lot less shabby out of his coat. His shirt was made of fine white linen, clinging nicely to his torso. She had little time to admire him, though, as it was admittedly hard to look at someone who was busy kissing your throat and breasts. So she closed her eyes instead and let herself enjoy the sensations his actions brought. Indeed, such an enjoyable assault on her body made her feel a little weak in her knees.
Childermass paused for a moment to back her up against a wall. It was, Arabella dimly thought, quite shocking to engage in these activities in the drawing room. What would the maid say if she came in? It was also morning and bright daylight filled the room. Jonathan and she had been quite enthusiastic about their amorous congress, but it was also something one engaged in at night, in the bedroom. Even if they had been so daring as to leave the candles burning.
But all such thoughts disappeared as her hands, wholly by their own accord, found their way up underneath Childermass shirt. His skin was very soft too, she noticed. Childermass’ owns hands were busy pulling her gown up, so he could touch her better. Arabella had time to think of how practical it was that ladies drawers didn’t have a crotch before he hoisted her higher up against the wall, letting another part of his anatomy inside her. Very adequately sized he was too and for several minutes neither Arabella nor Childermas thought much of anything but the mounting pleasure they both felt.
To Arabella’s mingled relief and mortification the spell wore off after they had reached a mutually satisfying end. For a few moments they clung to each other while their breathing calmed down. Then Arabella smoothed down her gown and adjusted the neckline to let it return to something mimicking decency. Childermass retrieved his coat from the floor and put it on before picking up his hair ribbon and Arabella’s chemisette. He looked at the ribbon and showed it into a pocket instead of trying to bring his mussed hair into order. Then he gave the chemisette back to Arabella. It was, it turned out, ripped beyond repair. Childermass looked embarrassed, and Arabella had no doubt she did too. It wasn’t their fault, none of what had happened had been of their own doing. It had been awfully nice though. Needed.
Childermass picked up Flora’s spellbook and let it go the same way as his ribbon.
“I think I better relieve Miss Greysteel of some of her literature.”
Arabella nodded her approval. “I promise I will keep an eye of what she acquires in the future.”
They looked at each other, and Arabella thought there was a distinct lack of polite phrases one could use after a spell-driven burst of passion. Childermass, for once, didn’t seem to know what to say either. He bowed his leave instead, but just as he was stepping out, Arabella called after him:
“Please visit again, Mr Childermass. Miss Greysteel always goes out on Thursdays, but I will usually be found at home.”
He turned back towards her and gave her a crooked smile. “With pleasure, Mrs. Strange.”