I am numb, though not from cold. His grace made sure of that on our journey here, insisting that I snuggle up close to his body, absorbing his warmth while he enveloped me in his thick cloak.
I was warm, comfortable, I even slept. I was in his arms, and I felt safe there. Even his brute of a horse seemed less terrifying after a while, the steady gait beneath us, the rhythmic clip-clop of the steel-tipped hooves pacing the distance, laying mile after mile behind us, taking me farther and farther from Sophia.
His grace told me she would be taken to Vienna, which lies somewhere to the east of us, I think. I have lost my bearings somewhat, though I know our destination lies south of Bavaria. Richtenholst is a long way from Vienna, from Sophia.
Richtenholst. My new home, whether I wish it or no.
It is done now, I am wed. I obeyed, as I always do when intimidated. I gave my responses, and I did what was expected of me. I am married, for the third time. This time though it is to a man I hardly know and already fear.
He hurt me. He spanked me, and he will do so again when the mood takes him. He as good as said that. He has talked of using a switch on me, and his belt. I will be black and blue, if I survive at all.
“It is our wedding night, Tally. I intend to make it memorable for you.”
The duke’s voice is soft from across the small room that serves as living area and sleeping quarters for Mistress Lars. I lift my gaze to meet his, conscious that I am wringing my hands together. It is a nervous habit. I suspect I will be doing it a lot from now on.
My husband is lying on the narrow bed. He looks at ease, comfortable. Everything that I am not. He smiles at me, and despite my inner tension my stomach flips over. My quim is damp too, disgustingly so. There must be something in the human condition that creates this reaction to wedding nights, I can think of no other explanation for my embarrassing condition. Though neither do I recall any such effect with either of my previous nuptials. To the best of my recollection both those occasions were somewhat stilted, painful, and not especially pleasant.
Based on this morning’s demonstration of the duke’s prowess, and my incredible response to it, I do not expect tonight to follow the same pattern. What I do expect lies somewhat beyond my powers of description.
“I would like you to undress, please. When you are naked, come and lie here beside me.” He delivers his instructions in a calm, matter-of-fact voice, his expression inscrutable.
I do not move.
“Tally, I think you know by now that I prefer not to have to repeat myself.” His tone has hardened, gone is the lover-like lilt. Now his words are tinged with an edge of command, a timbre that demands obedience, expects it. I have no doubt that he will punish anything other.
I should be afraid. I am afraid, but it is more. Without doubt I am aroused too, my inner muscles clenching at the harsh, uncompromising thread of steel that laces his curt commands. I do not want to be here, I have not chosen to be here, did not wish to be his wife. But regardless, here is where I find myself, Stefan’s duchess, and I have enough experience of the married state to know what is coming next.
I untie the ribbons at my throat and slip the cloak from my shoulders. Mistress Lars has banked up the fire so the room is warm. Still holding my husband’s gaze, I reach behind me for the ties fastening my kirtle. I loosen them and slip that from my shoulders too to pool around my feet. Clad now in just my shift, I break eye contact as I bend to pick up my clothing and drape the garment over the back of a small wooden chair. I do not look back at him as I perch on the chair to unfasten my sturdy leather shoes and remove those too.
I am left in just my heavy cotton shift. It is serviceable, fashioned for warmth not seduction, though I doubt I would need to apply much in the way of effort. His grace seems to know what he is about, he is in control here. My role is to obey.
Despite the unexpected intimacy that occurred between us this morning, nudity does not come easily to me. The duke’s instruction was quite specific though; he told me he wanted me to be naked. I see no viable alternative but to obey him. I am embarrassed, mortified with humiliation as I stand to slip the remaining garment from my body. My every instinct screams at me to cover myself, at the very least to wrap my arms across my chest, but I fight that urge. He would simply instruct me otherwise if I tried such a tactic and I would be compelled to submit yet again to his wishes.
The duke rakes his eyes along my body, from the top of my head to my toes. His expression does not alter. Seemingly satisfied with his perusal, he pats the mattress at his side, a reminder that I have not yet fully complied with his requirements. My heart is in my mouth as I move toward him, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other until I reach the narrow cot. Taking care not to touch him, I lie down at his side.
At first I lie on my back, staring up at the ceiling. Then it occurs to me that he may expect something less passive from me. Anxious not to attract further censure I roll onto my side to face him.
“My lord, I am not sure what…”
“No matter, Tally. I am sure, sufficient for us both. Lie on your back, please, and put your hands above your head.”
His tone is less harsh now, though could hardly be described as soft. When he spanked me this morning he instructed me to remain still. Perhaps he intends such again. I position myself as I have been told, only to squeal in alarm when he takes my wrists in one of his hands and produces a strip of fabric from somewhere beside him. In moments he has tied my hands together, and secured them both to the bed frame behind my head.
“My lord, release me. Please, there is no need for this. I will not fight you…” Thrown into a sudden panic I am struggling, tugging at my bonds but to no avail.
The duke says nothing to calm or further alarm me. Nor does he make any attempt to prevent my hopeless thrashing around. Instead he lies beside me, waiting until I exhaust my efforts, until I finally accept that there is to be no escape until he unties me. At last I lie still, regarding him with a heady mix of dread, and what I am starting to realise is anticipation. He has shocked me, scared me, but still I am eager to know what he intends to do to me now.
“Are you comfortable, Tally?”
I shake my head slowly. Comfortable would not be the correct description.
“Too tight?” He gestures at my bound wrists.
Again I shake my head.
“Ah, the problem lies here then.” He extends his hand to tap my temple with the tips of two fingers. “You think you should not like this, so you tell yourself that it is awful. You struggle, you fight to be free, when all the while you just want me to touch you. You want to be at my mercy, though perhaps right now you do not know why that should be. Am I right, Tally?”
“I am not certain what I want, my lord…” This much at least is true.
“No? I have some idea, and I intend to show you, my lovely little Natalia. I intend to teach you. Do you intend to be my willing pupil?”
“I cannot. I do not know what you mean.”
“You will. I have tied you to the bed this time. You fought, but you have accepted the restraints, and I consider that to be enough. For now. Soon I will introduce you to a blindfold, or a gag, and you will accept those too. I intend to explore your beautiful body at my leisure. I will touch you, lick you, kiss you. Like this perhaps…” He takes my nipple between his thumb and forefinger and squeezes it.
I gasp at the contact, then squeal as the pressure builds to become painful. At once he releases me. He leans over to plant a kiss on my stomach, then drifts a little lower to circle my navel with the tip of his tongue.
It tickles. I have never liked that feeling, and delivered by his grace with such consummate skill the sensation is unbearable. I arch my back under the featherlike caress in a hopeless attempt to throw him off.
He stops after a few moments and props himself up on one elbow, to peruse my body. He seems especially interested in my breasts. I glance down to see that my nipples are swollen and hard, like deep pink cherries tipping my not especially ample curves.
“Tell me, Tally, which did you like best? I am about to touch you again. Should I torture your nipples, or tickle your tummy? Your choice.”
In truth, I hated being tickled, but I fear what further pain he might inflict on my nipples. “I prefer the tickling, my lord.”
He turns his head to meet my gaze, his expression playful but somehow serious too. My belly clenches, though this time with unease.
“Your first lesson, my sweet—here, in our bed, I make the choices.”
He leans in to take my nipple in his mouth. I groan, the sound evolving into a low moan as he sucks hard. It feels heavenly, absolutely divine. Is this what he means by torture? My vocabulary is developing fast.
He scrapes his teeth over the tender, distended nub, and I shiver. This is more ominous. He is not hurting me, but he could, he so easily could. I am vulnerable, helpless, but it is that very edge of danger that makes the sensation so intense, so heady. My quim is soaked, the moisture surely dribbling onto the bedding beneath me. I arch again, this time to thrust my breast upwards, offering him more.
Begging for more.
He lifts his head, now taking the pebbled bud between his fingers again. He rolls it, his touch gentle though firm, the tender peak slick from his mouth.
“You like this? You like me to touch you this way?”
I close my eyes, allowing my head to drop back against the pillow.
“Answer me, Tally. I want to know what you like, and how you like it.”
“I like that, my lord.”
“Stefan. You will call me Stefan. We have a new rule. Whenever you are naked in my presence you will use my given name. If you do not, if you forget, I will spank you. Do you understand?”
“Yes, my lo… Ah!”
I let out a scream as he squeezes hard and twists my nipple between his fingers. “Stefan! Stefan!”
“There, you are learning already. So you agree to this new rule of ours?” His caress has softened once more, but I am wary now, my body primed for some new assault on my senses. He has not hurt me, or if he has the pain has been fleeting. But in just a few minutes, using nothing more than his fingertips and his lips, he has brought me to this state, stretched taut as a bow string, my every sense attuned to whatever he might do to me next.
“So, for the avoidance of doubt, you understand and accept my new rule? Yes?”
“Yes, Stefan.” My voice is breathy, the words forced out between gasps of pure pleasure as he continues to roll the pad of his thumb over my nipple.
“And you like to be touched in this way? You like me to stroke your nipples, to squeeze them, to suck them and lick them?”
“I… yes, Stefan. I like this. But it hurts when you squeeze.”
“A little pain is good. It hurts, but not much. Not too much. Shall I squeeze again?”
He chuckles, the sound low and sensuous, melodic almost. “Ah, my sweet little whore. I shall enjoy you.” He tightens his grip, increasing the pressure again.
This time when he twists the hard nub in his hand I hiss and arch my back, but I do not cry out. He holds me there for several long moments, suspended between pain and pleasure, before he releases me.
“Such rapid progress, sweet Tally. Now tell me, do you like being bound?”
“I do not know, my lord.”
He squeezes my nipple hard, and I scream out loud. That was definitely pain, not pleasure.
“Stefan! Please, please….”
He releases me. “Try to remember the rules. I do not want to be unnecessarily harsh with you, but you have agreed to these conditions, so I will be enforcing them. On the next infringement I will turn you over and spank your bottom. And you really would not like that as it would mean I could no longer do this for you…”
His fingers are again at my nipples, the caress firm, sensual, and utterly delightful. My emotions are scattered, my wits in turmoil as he flips me between intense pain and erotic bliss. My responses are beyond my understanding, but despite the occasional flirtation with something akin to brutality I know I want it to continue.
“So, you do not know if you like being bound, Tally? You seemed certain enough at first, when you fought to be free. You did not like it then.”
I moan again as he shifts his attention to my other nipple, subjecting that to the same tender attention.
“I was not expecting it, so I was surprised. And very scared. But now, now I believe I might get to like it.” Heaven preserve me, where did that come from?
“That is good. Now, I have another idea for something you might get to like. Spread your legs wide for me.”
“I, Stefan, I…”
“Love, honour, and obey, Tally. Do I need to remind you of the consequences? And I think by now you might believe me when I tell you, you will love the honour I am about to do you, when you obey.”
I do believe him, why would I not? I spread my legs, my knees straight and my ankles now perhaps a yard apart.
Stefan grins at me, shaking his head. “Tally, let me explain. I intend to lick your quim, then I’ll fuck you with my fingers while I suck on your plump little clitty. For this I need better access than you are allowing. When I tell you to spread your legs wide and promise you joy, I do not expect you to play the modest virgin for me. Show me your cunt, my whore. Present it to me. Offer it to me. Beg me to take it.”
I turn my head to meet his gaze. His eyes are intent, pinning me to the bed as surely as his bonds have fastened me there. In some curious display of mental gymnastics it is almost as though I am outside my body, watching from a distance, as if some stranger has slipped into my consciousness and is doing these outrageous things. My movements are slow, but I obey him. I bend my knees and bring them up toward my chest before opening them as far as I am able. I am exposed, waiting. Hoping.
One corner of Stefan’s mouth lifts in a satisfied half-smile, and I offer him a tremulous grin in return. I am drawn back into this moment knowing I have pleased him, and this makes me proud. I will do anything he asks of me, just to win that smile from him again.
“Well done, love. Now you may lie still, and enjoy what is to happen.”
I close my eyes, conscious of the shift in the bed as he moves. I know he will be positioning himself between my thighs, looking at me, at my most secret self, but I find I do not mind. Well, not overmuch. The cool draught of his breath flutters across the exposed lips of my womanhood, and I wonder if he has blown on me on purpose. It happens again, and I know.
My entire body jerks as he draws his tongue slowly around the entrance to my quim, but I recover and hold myself still for him. This position is difficult, not comfortable, but he has demanded it and I will comply.
He circles the lips of my sex again, then opens them with his fingers to plunge his tongue inside. I am astonished, it had never occurred to me that he might do such a thing, but he has. And it is wonderful, so intimate, so intense.
“Is this good?” He has replaced his tongue with a finger as he talks to me. He is stroking it in and out of me, each movement slow, deliberate.
I can only nod, so wholly focused am I on the sensations he is generating at my very core.
“I will always keep my promises to you, Tally. You may rely on that.”
My inner walls are stretched as another finger joins the first, and his head dips toward me again. This time though it is that sensitive nub just at the front of my slit that attracts his attention. It is swollen, just as my nipples have grown and hardened under his caresses. He takes the jutting bud in his mouth and sucks on it.
It is too much, the thrill too intense. I shatter, my senses scrambling in every which direction. I thrust my pelvis up, desperate, demanding as I squeeze hard around his fingers. My quim is clenching, though not through any effort of mine. I am spinning again, loving the sensation of weightlessness, a rhythmic pulsing that wracks my entire body, gripping, twisting, and eventually relaxing to allow me to drift back into myself.
The waves of pleasure recede and my writhing dies away. Eventually I lie still, my eyes closed as my world rights itself. I feel dizzy, a little lightheaded perhaps, confused certainly. Twice now he has touched me, created such intensity of sensation that I lost control of my body, my responses. I had heard of such a thing, in those naughty whispered conversations girls sometimes indulge in, discussing the mysteries of married bliss. I had thought such stories to be a myth, a wishful fantasy woven to soften the harsh reality of a life filled with duty and pain and culminating usually in the perils of childbirth.
Not so, it was real. Is real, here, now, with this man as my husband.
I prise my eyelids open. He is close to me, propped up again on his elbow as he gazes down at me. His face bears an amused smile, perhaps laced with a trace of indulgence. His grin widens and he leans in to kiss my mouth.
I part my lips under his, then widen them further as his tongue slides into my mouth. I suck on it, loving the taste of my body on him, my wetness. He angles his head to deepen the kiss, tilting my face back to gain better access. I tug at my bonds, wanting to wrap my arms around his shoulders, hold him to me.
He breaks the kiss with a low chuckle. “Not yet, my beautiful little bride. I am not nearly done with you yet.”
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