"Jamie…darling…" Her voice was light, lilting, soft, as she tried to summon him from sleep–-though he remained a silent lump anyway, snug beneath their eiderdown. He had decided he didn't care to breakfast with the family this morning, and that he didn't really give a damn that they would be disappointed once again. So long as she was not welcome at his parents' table, he would not dine in their home, nor shelter beneath their roof. As the situation stood, he had his gentlemen's club to repair to instead–-at least on those nights he didn't find his way to Fannie's flat. And Jamie had been opting more and more for the latter, in the weeks since his victorious return from France.

"Darling, please," she urged him in her way, insistent yes, but gentle, "I've laid out your uniform, and the coffee's nearly ready." Fan sat beside him on the bed–-exactly as he'd hoped she would–and bent close to brush a kiss upon his bare shoulder.

"None for me this morning, Fan," he growled, burrowing his head deeper into his pillow, and relishing the way the ends of her lush, dark hair skimmed against his skin. "Set the pot to cool, love–-I need you back in this bed at once."

"And a sinful man you are," she exclaimed, her faux cockney sounding as genuine as any guttersnipe from Whitechapel or Stepney, "And doing your all to lead me to temptation's door!"

He chuckled wickedly, recalling all their shared sins of the night before, and rolled onto his back, finally opening his eyes. "You passed that threshold some time ago, sweet Fan…" Fire flashed in her deep blue eyes, though his woman smiled knowingly, surely tallying each sin he had wrung from her since he had found her once again. Through the months of his deployment, first in France, and then in Flanders, he had held on tight to the promises she'd made him, never doubting for a moment she would give herself to him entirely once his part in the Great War was done. He had sought her out the same day he had returned to London–-even before finding his way to the Stewart family manse in Mayfair–-calling upon his lovely Fannie at the London Hippodrome, where she was preparing for her part in the latest musical review. Jamie had stood boldly at the foot of the stage, interrupting her in rehearsal, and kissing her soundly before all and sundry, once she threw herself into his arms. Having faced the many unspeakable horrors of war–-and death itself-–he had felt no compunction whatsoever about claiming what had been promised him. He'd had her that very night too, and nearly every night since.

As he would have her now.

She offered no resistance as her pulled her to him, giving him that throaty moan that meant she was happy to bow to his desires, and laughing softly as he turned her onto her back. How readily she always let him conquer her, let his needs and wants and lusts fill their many hours together-–and though Jamie had not told her so in words, how readily she had conquered his heart. The time was fast approaching when he would tell her so; when he would scandalize his family, friends, and smart social set, and take her for his wife. If pushed to it, he would even turn his back on the family fortune, and allow himself to be snubbed by the genteel class, all for his saucy mistress from the wrong side of the Thames.

Wrong side of the Thames. He always chuckled inwardly at the clever expression he had coined–-for his sweet and loving Fan was from about as far west of the Thames as any woman might be. He had thought her British that first night when she dazzled him upon the stage of the Apollo–-but it was only when he'd spoken to her over dinner that next night, that he learned where she was from. Fannie Delilah Moore, born and bred in Iowa, daughter of a corn farmer and a school marm, had traveled cross the wide Atlantic to find her fortune on the London stage. His family called it ludicrous for the son of landed gentry to involve himself with an American, and 'theatrical trash' to boot. Jamie called it kismet, and intended to lose himself forever in her generous, loving arms.

He loomed above his Fannie, fully awake now, and fully aroused. So pretty in the morning, he thought for the hundredth time, with his marks upon her from the night before–-her swollen lips bruised from his hungry kisses, the purplish love bites on the creamy flesh of her neck (she had begged him to stop, insisting that no stage makeup would properly conceal them for Monday's performance–-and he had obliged her by leaving them elsewhere on her sacred skin). Fannie's glorious, waist-length, raven hair lay spread about her on the pillow, reminding him once more of some of their favorite sins; he smiled down at her, recalling the wantonness she reserved only for him. Ever for him.

Oh, the ecstasy she gave him when she loosed her hair upon his chest, his hips, his thighs, and then wrapped its silken thickness around his throbbing cock. It overwhelmed his senses at times–-so that even when he watched her from afar, her hair modestly braided or decorously piled atop her head as she danced across the stage, he ached to think of the intervening hours that must pass before she spoiled him with its luxury again.

He tugged away the bothersome comforter pooled around them, trapping her beneath his naked flesh. "Sweet, sweet Fan," he growled, tracing her throat with hot, wet kisses, while she ran her fingers through his hair.

"You are insatiable!" she giggled, squirming beneath him, angling her hips in preparation for his entry. He slid a hand beneath her silk dressing gown, fondling one breast while seeking to suckle on the other. Fannie yelped when he grazed his teeth on her stiffened bud, and in doing so moved him to soothe her flesh with the flat of his tongue. She arched into his mouth, moaning his name. "Jamie, darling…do all of me that way…oh pul-leassssse, my darling…" she begged unashamedly, "Please…my god…just make me your feast!"

That's no sooner begged than done, he thought, raking his hands along her willing contours, parting her gown below the waist, finding her bare but for the soft, dark curls that covered her mound. Fingers tight in his hair now, Fan urged his face to the juncture of her thighs, and he basked in her musk, parting her lips and laying his mouth upon her most delicate, sensitive spot. He had come to crave the taste of her, and she knew it too; reveled in it, telling him always that she had never allowed any lover in her past to taste her so. How potent it made him feel, to mark her as his in this way, laving his tongue upon her wetness, drinking her in. This morning he planned to make her come with his lips and his tongue alone, tasting her in her rapture, before seeking his own, buried deep inside her.

How warm she was, how very wet–-and how willing for him to have his way with her. His friends would surely tell him he was besotted, and with a creature unworthy of his noble blood. But James Thomas Killingworth Stewart IV knew things those fools could never imagine: that once such a woman, a temptress, a goddess, got into your blood, there was no turning back. He had paid a miserable price in the fields of Flanders, lived in bloodstained mud in the trenches of Belgium–-and his dear Fan was his prize for having survived it all. His soul might be tarnished from some of the things that necessity had made him do, but she judged him not for his errors, nor for the outrageous pride that eventually led him to blind folly- which had ultimately brought his comrades in arms down.

Warm she was, so warm as he loved her–-and her imagined warmth was a blessing to him now, erasing the past for a time, giving him the only comfort he would know. The comfort of a fevered dream, and of flights of fantasy, all meant to distract him from the constant gnawing pit of hunger in his stomach, the ever present thirst that left his tongue to cleave to his palate, the guilt that cut him each time he opened his eyes from threadbare sleep-as he lay shivering in the cold, damp tent he shared with three other British Calvary officers, all taken by the Germans, in the weeks following his own capture on the failed Field of Quieverchain…

(to be continued)