“Frederick, there is no need for all these things, I had given you a list of things we would need already”, Anne protested. She stared with wide eyes around the room. There were gowns made from silk, royal blue, rich forest greens, a black gown embroidered with blue the color of midnight and many others in quantities she could not count and colors she could not name. There were open boxes of jewels to go with each of the gowns, glittering in the candlelight with a brilliance that left her stunned.
“I should have known it was a mistake to trust you and Lady Russell with the wedding trousseau”, she said, smiling even though her chest contracted with discomfort. Frederick was beaming, taking her scolding without protest. His eyes widened as he saw her jaw set and her hands wringing as she tried to think of how to convey her uneasiness.
He put his hands on her shoulders. “You can send away anything you want, I promise. I wanted you to have everything you’ve missed all these years”, he said and laid a quick kiss on her forehead. “I want you to have everything you want, love”, he said, holding her face in his hands.
She looked surprised. “I have everything I want”, she said and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Right here".
Frederick’s breath left him in a huff as he smiled and pinched her cheek lightly between his index finger and thumb. “What have I done to deserve you?”, he said and sighed as he gazed at her, eyes wide with wonder.
“Absolutely nothing”, she said and chuckled at his narrowed eyes.
“I agree”, he said and returned her teasing smile. “I hope you still wish to marry me, Annie”, he said as he picked up a cashmere shawl and draped it around her, pulling her closer. “Have I mishandled this so spectacularly that you’re reconsidering?”, he asked as she shook her head, smiling.
“Of course not, Frederick! I am uncomfortable with the expense and extravagance, that is all”, she said and frowned, looking at the spread again.
He looked her over, examining her rigid posture. “Are you sure?”, he asked.
“What do you mean?”, she asked as she turned to him, confused.
He hesitated.”You have been a little distant ever since we started planning the wedding”, he said, worry creasing his features.
Anne sighed. “Frederick”, she chastised him. “You know my tastes are simple, my needs few and yet you insist on dressing me up like a queen and taking me to every event in Bath! I think we have been to four balls, eight dinners and at least fourteen lunches”. She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“Only a fool would not flaunt you, Anne”, he said, lips pouting.
The innocence of the gesture made her smile despite herself. “Frederick”, she said and kissed him slowly on his mouth, tongue darting out to taste his lips before she withdrew to look at him. “I cannot wait to marry you. All of this”, she said and gestured to the heap of rich, exquisite clothes, “though exceedingly sweet of you, love, is.. excessive. Every dress I have to examine represents another task I have to accomplish before I can be with you”, she said, her voice low as she leaned into him and kissed his neck, one hand on his roaring, thumping heart. “Every day I have to spend looking over the wedding arrangements is an obstacle in my quest to ravish you”, she said and grinned as he chuckled, his eyes crinkling at the edges with amusement.
“Then I am assured you will cherish this one particular gift I have for you”, he said hoarsely and kissed her, his touch light as his fingers traced her neck and jaw. Her heart thrummed erratically, the blood rushing to her face. Anne ran her hands up his chest and into his hair as she kissed him back. His mouth was sweet, the lips warm as they opened to let her in. She lost herself in his taste, hardly aware that she was on tiptoe, pressing into him. A flick of his wrist would send her flying backwards and landing in a heap on the floor, but this was not the time to care. As her tongue stroked against his, Frederick dropped the cashmere shawl from her shoulders and pressed her closer, one hand in her hair and the other running down her back and gripping her hips closer.
Unbidden, a moan escaped her as she felt him hardening. Frederick moved his leg so his knee gently separated her legs, coaxing her open. Anne shuddered and broke the kiss, searching his face. Frederick frowned for a moment before smiling at her and leaning in to whisper in her ear, fingers skimming over her sides until his thumbs traced her nipples. “I got you the gift you wanted the most”, he said and nipped at her neck, until her head fell back and she gripped his shoulders. “Ever since you accepted my proposal, we haven’t been left alone for a single moment”, he said, his voice a low growl. Anne pressed her hips into him, her neck arching to give him access. “I have been dying to touch you”, he whispered, punctuating his pauses with kisses as his mouth traced her collarbone. “To take off every layer from you”, he said with a nip under her right clavicle, “To hold you as you come around me”. His voice broke here and Anne slid his jacket off of him, mourning the loss of his warmth for a second before his arms returned. “I have yearned to touch you too”, she said shakily, her head swimming as she picked up his hand and placed it on the knots that held her dress together at her back. She frowned again, trying to remember why she had hesitated a few moments ago. “What if someone-”, she asked, only to be silenced by a quick kiss.
“No-one shall interrupt us for an hour”, he said and undid the knots with surprising speed, given how much his hands quivered. “I have arranged for everyone to be on errands”, he said, chuckling at the beaming smile on her face. She stood on tiptoe and pressed her lips to his cheek. “This is why I agreed to marry you, you devious, handsome man”, she said and giggled as she began to unbutton his waistcoat.
“Aah, I was wondering how I eventually convinced you”, he said and jerked her arms up to tug the sleeves down till the dress dropped to the floor. He gulped and stared at the flimsy chemise, his fingers playing with the thin straps on her shoulders as he panted. Anne blushed furiously and attacked his clothing with as much vigor as she could muster. She whimpered as he kissed her, the force nearly knocking her backwards. His tongue slid against hers with fury, as he grabbed her hips so hard he left bruises. She wrenched away the opened shirt and waistcoat from him, smiling with victory. She breathed in his scent as tentative fingers traced the buttons on his trousers. “Yes”, he growled, before picking up her left leg and placing it around his hips. Anne could barely think or keep her hands steady through the inundating, submerging heat that spread through her. She unbuttoned the trousers and gripped his hard length through the cream silk pants, making him gasp and release her mouth. “Oh God”, he whimpered and gripped her wrist, his breath leaving him in erratic gusts as she squeezed ever so slowly.
“Anne”, he said, his voice hoarse as he wrenched her fingers away and pushed her shoulders gently until she fell back on the sofa and shifted to make space for him. A spark of brilliance took flame within her and she stood up to shrug off the remaining layers from herself as he did the same. By the time he stood in front of her, his tanned skin glowing in the candlelight, eyes blazing from under long eyelashes, his mouth open, Anne didn’t identify the greedy moans spilling out of her. She ran sure fingers over his chest, gripping him again and biting his lower lip until his nails dug into her waist. “Anne”, he said, head thrown back as he stared at the ceiling, his Adam’s apple bobbing. “Glorious”, she said and stroked him slowly. A stream of nonsensical words escaped him as his knees shook.
“Sit”, she said, relishing her newfound power and releasing him. He sank gratefully to the couch and tugged her toward him by her wrist. “Come here”, he said, his voice so low it rattled her. She pushed his shoulders until they made contact with the head of the couch and leaned over him, gasping as he touched her down there with two fingers. “Gods, you’re...”, he said, losing his train of thought as she kissed his face and his neck, breathing in his scent and clenching around his fingers. She straddled him and put her hands on his shoulders, inquisitive eyes meeting his. He was beautiful, so beautiful it was hard not to taste every inch of his skin and savor the sounds he made at her touch. But she was too far gone now. “Frederick”, she said, her voice high as she moved her hips so his fingers entered deeper.
He looked up at her with wide eyes before gently pushing her hips down again. Anne was sure she must have cried out, so wondrous was the sensation of him inside her. She leaned backwards to accommodate him better, gasping as she felt rough fingers grasp her nipples and pull at them, the brief flash of pain sending a delicious shiver down her spine. “Frederick”, she groaned, putting her hands on his legs to balance herself better. Her hips moved above him with plain instinct, as she looked in wonder at him spread out in front of her, skin glistening with sweat and eyes closed so tight he almost looked like he was in pain.
She kept moving slowly, finding the right rhythm until she felt a sharp jerk pass through her limbs. Not yet , she thought as she dug her nails into his flank, leaning toward him. “Please”, she whimpered to his wide eyes. She fell into his embrace as he pushed himself up and held her in place with his legs around her. “Gods, you’re beautiful”, he said as he thrust into her slowly and soothed her with warm hands running up and down her back. “ I can’t ”, she said as another jolt lit her nerves ablaze. “I know”, he whispered. “It’s alright”.
His skin was warm against hers, making her press into him and pilfer some for herself. Anne bit his lower lip and rolled it between her teeth before releasing his mouth, pulling the hair at the back of his head and licking the shell of his ear. “Glorious”, she repeated and laughed with joy as he moved faster, hips snapping up until she bit into his neck and held on to him, a guttural sound scraping at her throat. Frederick was speaking into her ear, she realized belatedly. “I have waited so long to be inside you, love”, he whined, keeping his hips moving as Anne’s eyes rolled back in her head. “I have missed you”, he said and kissed her, causing her to clutch at his back, her movements erratic and unfocused. Being around him, tasting him on her tongue, hearing him whisper sweet nothings into her ear as he moved inside her was all she’d wanted. Even if you took away everything from me , this consuming, burning need for you would still remain . It belongs to me more than anything else does. she thought as she held his face in her hands and kissed his closed eyes open. “I love you”, she said, knowing she had never been more sure of anything else. “I love you, I love you”, she said as his eyes glittered and his lips parted in a wide smile. “I love you , Annie”, he said and placed a bruising kiss on her mouth before laying open mouthed kisses down her cleavage and sucking a nipple between his teeth.
“Come”, he groaned and moved so his hips snapped with hard thrusts that shook her and left her scrambling for support. “Frederick!”, she shouted to the ceiling, yelping as his two fingers stroked her right there until her legs shook hard and she felt her muscles grip his hardness, tighter and tighter until the sensations were too much for her to fathom. Her head fell on his shoulder and she traced his mouth with her thumb, knowing he was chasing his own end and was nearly there himself. Frederick growled as she gripped his bottom, the nails leaving angry red marks as she tried to pull him towards her. “Annie, Annie”, he said, voice broken and high as his mouth opened wide and she felt him fall to pieces, the muscles in his neck and shoulders taut as he arched up into her and swayed dangerously. Anne coaxed him down until they lay flat on the couch, panting and entangled in each other’s limbs.
They stayed that way for long, wondrous minutes until their breathing slowed down and she felt his fingers run through her hair. “Just as I remembered”, he said and she heard his smile in his voice.
“How so?”, she asked, unwilling to give up her position yet. It was warm and wonderful here in his arms, with her head on his heart.
“Just as greedy”, he said and laughed at her indignant face as she looked up at him.
“Just as wild”. She stuck out her tongue at him.
“Just as unpredictable”. She giggled, still surprised how easily the response came to her. He traced her right cheekbone with three fingertips, his touch almost reverent.
“And you, just as loquacious”, she teased and kissed his fingers.
His chest rumbled as he laughed and pulled her closer. “I never realized”, he said, a dark shadow passing across his face. “That you were alone”. He frowned, his jaw set. “I never believed you loved me until that moment at the White Hart”.
“Frederick”, she said as she touched his cheek.
“No”, he said and held both her hands in his. “I have been an angry fool for too long. I have hurt you for too long. I promise you now, I will never be the source of your tears”, he said, his grip so hard on her hands that it nearly hurt.
She pressed a chaste kiss to his mouth and smiled. “I know, love”, she said and laid her cheek against his. “Nor I yours”.
She gave him a moment to rest his jaw on top of her head and hold her, until she could hold her query no more.
“You have questions”, he said and smiled down at her as she nodded.
He sighed before he counted off of one hand. “Lady Russell thinks you’re unhappy with the embroidery on the blue silk gown I bought for you two weeks ago. Understandably, she appointed herself to the task of having it repaired”.
“Mr. and Mrs. Musgrove, along with Charles and Mary, are busy preparing their rooms to host Lady Russell, you and I for dinner. I expressed my dismay to Mrs. Musgrove over how often she had hosted dinners in my honor and how rarely in yours”, he said and winked. “I was merely jesting, I never expected her to succumb to my tricks”, he said and hissed as Anne pinched his arm.
“Frederick!”, she said, astounded.
“You can expect lengthy tributes to all your noble deeds tonight, even from Mary. We are all determined to embarrass you until you are forced to flee the room”, he said, chuckling.
“My sister and the Admiral”, he said, pressing her hand to his cheek and turning his head so he kissed her open palm, “are busy looking at houses for us”.
Anne gasped, eyes wide with surprise. “Houses?”, she asked, confused. “But you said..”.
“I know, I promised we would be economical and sensible”, he said, pressing kisses to her forehead. “And I have kept my promise. Why else would I choose Sophie for this task? Once she has given me a list of the three best houses near Kellynch Hall, you and I will visit them and pick the one you like the best”.
He moved them both so he lay on top of her. Anne whined as his tongue delved into her mouth. “Mrs. Smith is busy inspecting the church where we are to wed”, he said hurriedly, answering her query and kissing her again.
Anne rested her ankles on top of his back as she pressed up against him, her pulse racing again.
He broke the kiss to look at her, his hair drooping over his forehead in unruly locks and warm brown eyes shining. The smile spread on his face like the morning sun in the sky, slow, deliberate and luminous. “Which gives us not one, but two hours”, he said, chuckling as she giggled with delight.
“I love you", he said, the warm, beautiful eyes taking her in from head to toe, his fingers curling around her own, insistent.
“I love you”, she said and pulled him closer until their noses touched. I could get accustomed to this, she thought as the tender caresses gave way to urgent, demanding brushes of hands, whispered pleas and more promises than she could keep. But she would keep each and every one, even if it took eternity to accomplish them all. This, she thought, is my rendition of bliss.