A/N: Please, read this author's note!

Firstly, this story was born as a parody, a spoof on those love novels with a hench bloke on the cover and a half dressed maiden with a bosom heaving out of atlas bodice trembling in his arms in a very uncomfortable position (seriously, have you seen them? :D). Its continuation, on the other hand, grew to be a bit more realistic, still very dramatic, and "slightly" angsty (if you've read my stories before, you can assume how slight this "slightly" is :D).

It is still pretty much romance and drama and isn't to be taken seriously :)

Secondly, this one is eventually to contain smut but of very specific sort, it has to do with loss of virginity. Please, be informed!

Thirdly, I just wanted to write another chapter for "We Are Scattered in Time and Space" and realized that it seemed to be escaping from under my control when it was already 14,500 words long and still going. So I decided to chop it into chapters and post them one by one.

Mr. John Thorington was not looking forward to his breakfast that day. His brother, the only person with a shard of common sense in the house, was away, and John was to be the only victim of endless chatter of his sister and overbearing concern of his mother over his morning tea. Fortunately for him, the society gave both of them another topic for a conversation.

When he entered the dining room, their voices were already ringing, and he winced. "He cannot possibly expect the society to accept her? Can you imagine this woman in Mrs. Chesley's sitting room?" His sister's mocking tone was venomous.

"Deadre, darling, I am certain he would not dare bringing her there, not with her parentage." John joined them at the table and immediately hid behind his newspaper.

"John, we were hoping you would join us in this discussion," his mother's cold tone made him lower the paper.

"I am certain I have very little to contribute into it."

"It is about Lord Harligton's granddaughter. He is bringing her to the dinner at Mrs. Gobey's tonight." John inhaled slowly. He had no choice but to concede and listen to the prattling. He folded his newspaper and looked at his mother expectantly. "Lord Harlington is bringing his granddaughter over to the formal dinner tonight, and we are concerned whether being seen in the company of such woman could influence Deadre's reputation." His sister was expecting a proposal from a rich manufacturer, and as little as his mother approved of the choice she was determined to protect the security of such matrimony.

"I am certain that a ward of such noble gentleman as Harlington is not a threat to your reputation, Dea." John really wished Frederick was here, he had a much better talent for managing the women.

"But her mother ran away from home! With an Irishman!" His sister's blue eyes widened, and he almost groaned.

"Besides, John, she is known to be a bit of a… suffragette," his mother's calm face wavered, and John felt acute sympathy towards the young lady in question. She was not to enjoy the celebrations that evening. The society did not take well on liberal views, especially from a woman of questionable upbringing.

"Can you imagine Harlington's heirloom jewels on a neck of an Irish woman?" His sister's tone was triumphant, and John gave her a reproachful look. Whatever the poor child looked like, he predicted a lot of criticism of her appearance. And if the nature was not generous, he only hoped that Harlington had enough sense not to allow this woman wear the famous diamond necklace of his late wife.

XXX

The necklace was indeed on the neck of the aforementioned Miss Wren Leary, the daughter of a poor Irish painter and Harlington's daughter. The doors opened, their name was announced, and she stepped into the hall, her arm elegantly looped through her grandfather's, and he felt for the first time in his life he could not form a certain opinion on a person in front of him.

The flaming locks in an elegant do according to the latest fashion, demure refined dress, long slender neck, she looked regal and dignified, while her strange green eyes were wide and innocent. She held her head high, obviously aware of the apprehension from the society around her, but then a mischievous smile adorned her lips, and she leaned to her grandfather's ear. Her comment was too quiet to be heard, but Harlington's laughter in response was a quiet obvious confirmation that Miss Leary was mocking the astounded faces of the guests in the sitting room.

With the evening passing, John felt even more confused. He prefered forming his opinion on people's personality in the first few minutes after being introduced to them. Everything in her was a contradiction, she was not attractive in the general sense, but confident and alluring, and after an hour he realized that most of men were gathered around her. She obviously had good education and impeccable manners, but her views were indeed liberal, and soon he found himself in a rather heated and, honestly speaking, unpleasant discussion of women's rights to vote. For the life of him, he could not understand how that transpired, considering he had never before found himself interested in the topic. Even more so, he rarely contradicted anyone in such emotional tone in general, preferring barking commands and intimidating his opponents with sharp arguments and burning glare from his looming height.

Neither seemed to have much influence on Miss Leary's cheerful disposition. Her eyes were glinting with mirth, and he felt even more irritated. John Thorington did not enjoy being laughed at. And then to his own surprise he heard his own voice, and his speech sounded surprising like growling, "I am surprised that a woman of your political disposition, Miss Leary, would then concede to attending such gathering as this, where women are expected to comply with social rules and behave accordingly. Should you not be setting mailboxes on fire and chaining yourself to lampposts? Although I would imagine it to be very hard to do in such a feminine attire."

He could not understand what made him so irked. Was it her curled up lips, seemingly reflecting her inner laughter at some joke, known only to her but obviously made at his expense? Was it the way the green eyes were studying his face and an almost pitying look she gave him when he scornfully cocked his brow when she was talking about Asquith's 'cowardly actions'? Or was it the fact that her skin so radiant, alabastr like seemed to lure him, and he suddenly imagined pressing his lips to her shoulder? He recoiled from his own thoughts, they were not to be addressed at a lady, but something in her awoke the most primal, animalistic surges in him.

He left early, and on his way out he ran into his brother. He was late but still showed up, and John clapped on his shoulder. "Fred, my chap, enjoy the menagerie. It is exceptionally turbulent today." His brother looked at him in confusion, but John only smirked and hurried out. He desperately needed a drink.

XXX

Six months later he was returning home when a bell boy rushed to him and grabbed his sleeve. Stunned by such insolence he let the boy drag him in the alley, when a small figure in a hooded cloak stepped out of the shadows. Miss Leary, and it was hard not to recognise her slender build and a flaming lock escaping from under the hood, threw the servant a coin, and once he sprinted out of the alley she stepped closer. He opened his mouth to inquire of such strange circumstances, when she pressed her body into him, her arms wrapping around his neck, and suddenly he found himself being kissed by the woman that would not leave his dreams and deprived him of peace.

It took him but a second to realized what was happening, and then his hands lay on her delicate shoulder blades. She had to stand on tiptoes to reach him, and he bent his tall body to accommodate her. Her lips were as soft and as intoxicating as he imagined in his wildest fantasies. She sighed into his lips, and he suddenly felt mad. He pressed her into himself harder, his hands bunching her cloak, and he took charge of the kiss. His head was swimming, strange ringing in his ears, and all his skin heated up. Suddenly she pushed him away and even took a step back. Her face was confused and apprehensive.

And then she gasped and pressed her hands to her mouth. "You are not him, you are not Frederick..." Her pale face and trembling hands told him at least half of the story. She expected his brother, the appearance indeed hardly distinguishable, especially in the dim light of the streetlamp, and they both prefered the same cut of a jacket. He immediately understood, it was a clandestine affair, her grandfather did not approve. John got momentarily distracted by the thought that such matrimony was indeed impossible, which was one of the many reasons why he strove to avoid seeing Miss Leary in any social circumstances. He assumed Frederick was not that wise.

"Oh dear, please, promise me you will not tell… How could I have mistaken?" Her remarkable green eyes were roaming his face, and she stepped closer. The faint fragrance of her perfume hit his nose, mixed with the fresh smell of her skin, and a shiver ran through him. Now that he knew the taste of her lips and the contours of her slim body under the cloak, he craved more. She lifted her hand in a pleading gesture. "Please, Mr. Thorington, you have to promise me..."

"I do not have to promise you anything, Miss Leary," his tone was sharp, but only because he was fighting with the burning desire to pull her into himself again. She shrank away from him, but then she governed her emotions, and he saw her jaws clench stubbornly.

"What are you inclined to do then? Disclose your brother's secret?" When she was nervous her slight accent was stronger, and he found her rolling r's endlessly alluring. He stepped closer and placed his palms on her shoulders.

She did not move away from him, and he suddenly realized she was as affected by his closeness as he was by hers. As a test he slowly leaned in, keeping their eyes locked, and he saw his lips open slightly. He dove in, pressing his lips to hers, claiming her mouth, pressing his splayed palms to her back. She arched into him, and he saw the long thick lashes flutter. After a few moments of delicious silence, he let her go, and she opened her eyes and suddenly smiled to him. "You are nothing like you twin brother, Mr. Thorington."

"You can call me John," he said, his voice raspy, and claimed her mouth once more.