"Thank you, Cranshaw," Drusilla said, rising from her dressing table. "And have a good night."
Silently her maid Cranshaw nodded, smiled, and effaced herself. The presence of a London dresser, after three weeks of marriage, still seemed remarkable to the Miss Morville who often mentally commented on the vagaries of life as the Countess of St Erth. The quiet of a solitary boudoir was much more familiar, and comfortable—
Until the crash of nearby thunder and the swift shots of rain on the window startled her into nervousness.
At dinner that night, Martin and Gervase had remarked on the heavy air as a presage of storm. She had heard them, but they had then segued into discussion of rainfall and crops, which was not her concern; more to the point, at that moment the Dowager Countess (newly arrived and uninvited; completely unwelcome) had begun a peevish query about yet another change Drusilla and Gervase had made to Stanyon, which unfortunately was her concern. What with one thing and another, she hadn't had time to prepare herself.
Thunder, rattling glass, drumming rain on the roof: it sounded as if the bad weather was coming inside. She felt that unhappy tremor in hands and that shiver up the spine which was the result of her fear of storms. "Oh dear," she said quietly.
"My dear," Gervase said from the connecting door to his dressing room. "My dearest robin."
She cast a look at him over her shoulder. Even as she shuddered at another clap of thunder, she noted the gleam of candlelight on his golden hair and the warmth of his smile. Her husband was staggeringly beautiful, and only grew more so with time and intimacy, which she felt rather unfair. "My lord," she managed to say. "Gervase."
He crossed swiftly to her, his loose banyan swirling about his person. "As I recall, my dear, you couldn't sleep during one of our last storms. You're not over-fond of this kind of night, are you?"
"Not over-fond, no."
His arms went around her from behind, just as thunder boomed again. He had a tremor in his hands too, she realized. He'd not seemed unnerved by storm that night she'd met him in the corridor, so – ah, yes. Of course. Waterloo, or one of the other engagements of that horrid war, had given wounds which had only partially healed, and the sound of thunder might well open those wounds again.
She chose not to comment. Instead, she leaned into his strength, and lent him her own. Better to shiver together than apart, she thought.
His arms tightened, his hands moving on her body softly, surely. "Wise woman," he said. "You aren't going to ask, are you."
"No, Gervase. You'll tell me if I need to know," she said in her usual sensible way.
"I chose so very well when I chose you," he whispered in her ear. This time her shiver was pure pleasure.
Another clap of thunder, and they moved even closer to each other. She had spent the best part of three weeks learning his body: the long, surprising muscles in arms and legs and center; old scars from sabers and one fresh scar from Theo's perfidy; his male member, also long and surprising and all delight. Regardless of storm and bad memory, he was ready for love.
"You offer an excellent distraction from the weather, Gervase," she said, and turned in his arms, and kissed him as she had learned, open-mouthed, sharing breath and soul. He had been an excellent teacher – but then, as she had told him on the third night of their marriage, of course the lessons had benefits for him as well as for her.
He had laughed that night before he had pounced, and he laughed now, so deep it was almost a groan. "Drusilla, darling. Your bed or mine?"
"Such good counsel, my robin." With a sudden show of strength, he caught her up in his arms – she swallowed a shriek, but it was a near-run thing – and carried her to the bed. When he tossed her in, she let the shriek out.
Laughing that deep groaning laugh, he followed her down. His hands dove under her nightgown, and travelled higher, and higher –
Thunder, rattling glass, drumming rain. She heard the storm as from a distance, because nearer was Gervase, breath and heartbeat and hot body under silk and linen.
It was entirely better to shiver together than apart, she thought, and she let herself enjoy, as was only sensible.