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Training Lady Townsend(14)

By:Annabel Joseph

“Who has?”

“Lansing, damn you. The Duke of Lansing. My lofty, putrid, godrotting father-in-law has seen to it that I’ll never stray in my marriage to his precious daughter.”

Warren made a sympathetic sound. “Sit down. You’re in a panic, man. You’ve been on the prowl already, eh? So much for wedded bliss.”

“Wedded bliss is a romantic figment of poets’ imaginations.” He threw himself on the divan near the fireplace and stretched out his legs. “Being married is like being in a cage you can’t escape. It’s torture.”

“Come now, torture? Lady Townsend seems a sweet enough girl.”

“She’s exceedingly sweet. That doesn’t help me get my cock sucked. It doesn’t help me bugger her arsehole or stripe her bottom with a cane. It doesn’t help me stroke myself to climax while she writhes in ropes at my feet.”

Warren grinned. “You’re a dirty bastard.”

“This isn’t funny. My wife can barely stand to touch me, you know. She thinks the most standard marital acts are lewd, and suffers through them with the mien of a martyr. I tried for a week to be faithful to her, but she’s so cold and distant. I believe she actually hates me. She was the one who suggested I go elsewhere rather than continue to visit her rooms.”

“Why does she hate you?” Warren asked. His brows drew together. “Have you terrorized her, you idiot? Her brother wouldn’t hesitate to call you out at dawn, and Severin’s a crack shot.”

Hunter held up a hand. “I haven’t done anything at all to her, aside from that spanking on our wedding night.”

“Well done of you. Idiot.”

“Otherwise, I doubt our marriage would have been consummated,” he said, speaking over his friend. “What am I to do? We’re absolutely unsuitable for one another. All I want is one night of blessed release, one night of a melting, obedient courtesan who’ll allow me to discharge all my pent up frustrations.” He dropped his head in his hands, then looked up at Warren. “Can you call one of your doxies over here? We can share her if you like.”

“It’s four in the morning.”

“You can have her first.”


“We’ve shared women before, and we like the same things. What would it matter?”

“Lansing’s come to see me too, old fellow.”

Hunter’s mouth fell open. “What?”

Warren sighed, leaning forward in his chair. “He came to see me just before your wedding, and he wasn’t very nice. Threatened to do a job on my public reputation, which I miraculously cling to. Threatened to ruin me if I did anything to assist you in committing ‘extramarital vices.’ He talked about Minette.”

“Minette? He threatened your sister?”

“Not in so many words. He only explained how much harm could be done to her marriage prospects with a word from him here and there.” He looked at Hunter. “She’s my responsibility, and she’ll be hard enough to marry off as it is. I can’t help you run around anymore, Towns. I wish I could.”

Hunter was flabbergasted. He bent over, grasping great handfuls of his hair. “Why didn’t you tell me? Warn me? Did he visit all of you?”

“Me. August. Arlington. Yes, all of us.”

“None of you said a word to me. None of you warned me that going through with this marriage would mean—”

“It wouldn’t have mattered what it meant,” Warren interrupted sharply. “You couldn’t have gotten out of it at that point. Not without ruining Lady Aurelia and yourself. Now she’s your wife and you’re stuck with her.” His friend’s voice rose in frustration. “We haven’t always been the most honorable bunch, but the ruination of decent ladies used to be unthinkable. What has changed in you?”

“My situation has changed,” he said through gritted teeth. “Reproach me if you like. When you’re married, you’ll see.”

“When I’m married, I won’t give up within a week. Any woman can be tamed and taught if you put your mind to it.” Warren crossed his arms over his chest. “Aurelia is a very good girl. She’s Lansing’s daughter. She’s a dormouse, for God’s sake, who shrinks if someone looks at her meanly. She will do as you like if you demand it. You must insist upon the behaviors you expect.”

Hunter looked up at his friend. “Insist upon—what—? What the hell are you suggesting? You’re talking about bedroom behaviors?” He laughed.

Warren didn’t laugh. His arms remained firmly crossed over his chest.

“Has she made you into a mouse too?” he asked. “When I marry, my wife will obey me in all things. If I want her to perform unconventional sex acts in the course of our bedroom play, she will. This purity of marriage stuff is nonsense. You are the husband, the ruler of the household. You’ve spanked her once to assert your dominance, and doubtless can do so again.”

Hunter pursed his lips. “It’s wrong to use force in sexual matters. She’ll resist me and start sobbing or something.”

“I have more faith in you than that. If you go about things the right way, there won’t be much resistance at all.”

Hunter rubbed his temples and groaned. “Says the man who’s not married to the daughter of Laudable Lansing. I have as much chance of training her into a whore as I have of sprouting wings and flying across the Thames.”

“Not a whore, my friend. A wife who obeys. A wife who wishes to please her husband and has been trained how to do so.”

Hunter lay back on his friend’s divan. A wife who obeys. Lansing had drilled obedience into Aurelia from her earliest days. If Hunter could prevail upon her desire to obey, train her to perform these acts, even enjoy them, what a dream their life might be. But she was so unresponsive in bed. She hadn’t the first inkling of sensuality or erotic awareness. She was as glacial as a block of ice. The idea of training her to please him was so absurd it was beyond imagining.

“She cannot even tolerate straightforward intercourse,” Hunter said. “She hates when I touch her.”

“If that’s true, then you have a lot of work to do, old boy.”

“I can’t, Warren. It’s a ludicrous idea. It would never work.”

His friend stood and brushed at a spot of lint on his rumpled dressing gown. “In the end, you’ve no other choice. Lansing has got you hemmed in. You can go without the finer bedroom games for the rest of your miserable existence, or you can teach your wife to play them with you. Now, if you please, I am dead tired and you are three-parts drunk. Sleep there on the divan if you want. I’m headed to bed.”

Chapter Six: Denial

By the time Hunter woke with a clashing headache, Warren had summoned the other lads to his place. They drank with him and agreed he was in a hell of a situation, and that Lansing was a wretched old blowhard with more rectitude than wit.

It was evening before he made his way home to Townsend House, mostly sober, but no less unsettled than the night before. He had the damn bad luck to run into his wife at the bottom of the grand staircase. If she could have avoided him, he was certain she would have, but she couldn’t very well flee back up the steps.

“Good evening,” he said, sketching a slight bow. He looked a fright, he knew. Disheveled, puffy eyed, unshaven, not like any sort of gentleman at all.

Miss Perfect Lady Dormouse, on the other hand, was dressed in pristine ivory silk with puffed sleeves, mounds of petticoats, and an ornately splendid bodice that revealed the lovely expanse of her breasts. She blinked at him, a blush spreading over her cheeks. “Good evening, my lord.”

“You can call me Townsend, you know. Or Hunter. We’re married.”

“Good evening, Townsend,” she repeated in a level, hollow tone. “You are well?”

“Perfectly well. I’ve been with my friends.”

He saw in her face that she didn’t believe him. She believed he had spent the past few nights with dissolute women. If only... If he had, he wouldn’t feel so roused by her curvaceous figure, her pleasing, upthrust breasts bundled into her lace-trimmed gown. Damn her for such heartless temptation. He’d best get away from her and regain control of his lustful emotions. “I will see you at dinner,” he said.

Her gaze flicked down at his dusty, rumpled clothes in a way that made him feel chastened. “I have a bit of a headache,” she replied, lifting a hand to her forehead.

He had no patience for theatrics at the moment. “Let me restate, then, Lady Townsend. I expect to see you at dinner, headache or no.”

She narrowed her eyes, dropped the briefest of curtsies, then turned from him to continue on her way. Her tightly coiled curls bounced as she fled across the hall and into the southernmost drawing rooms. She did boring, mousy things in there, like reading and embroidery. What a waste of her luscious body. He’d rather fill her hours with training on how to do the perverse acts the women performed at Pearl’s...

Hunter shook his head. Warren was a blighted idiot for suggesting such a thing, since there wasn’t a chance of it coming true. He stalked to the study off the grand, high-ceilinged foyer, and knocked out a half hour of necessary correspondence, then went to his rooms to bathe and dress for dinner. His valet hung up his wrinkled coat and waistcoat and shaved his overgrown stubble without a murmur of judgment or question. The warm water, the rasp of the razor, the familiar ritual of putting himself in order finally worked to calm his nerves.