The usual warnings apply. Blah, blah, blah. I didn't realise just how much I missed writing this, and I'm going to blame the sudden surge of inspiration on watching POTC the other day for the first time in a loooong time. Much, much love to all who are still with me. Apologies for the epic hiatus!
The Fortunate Mistress Part XIX - 'Lesson'
"This…?" Beckett questions as one of his ink-stained fingertips slowly traces an invisible line down her throat; beginning under her chin and ending in the hollow at its base.
"…Quel est ce nom?" he asks in a whisper, sharpening his gaze.
Elizabeth can feel his breath crawling across her clavicles as she clenches her eyes shut and attempts to bring forth the correct answer from the back of her mind. It pops into her head when she feels his hand close around her throat. "La gorge?" she answers uncertainly.
His lips curl and he hums his approval. "Very good."
Her reward for a correct response is an open mouthed kiss to the side of her neck, with both teeth and tongue.
Elizabeth shudders and sighs. The sound released is somewhere between relief and pleasure.
She'd eaten dinner alone that evening. The warm plate of roast lamb and stewed vegetables had been a welcome end to a day spent as Lady Althea's doll. She hardly noticed nor cared that she sat alone at the large mahogany dining table; she had assumed as usual that Beckett had been held hostage by a desk full of customs receipts. Feeling tired, she'd resolved to get an early night, and as soon as she'd cleared her plate she took a book from the library and gave orders to Hester that she should not be disturbed.
Her plans were scuppered however when she entered her room to find her bed already occupied by a foreign object. Resting on the satin coverlet at the foot of the bed was something which didn't belong. Long, thin and beetle black with a leathery head, she almost mistook it for a Coluber; a harmless black snake that had laid its eggs in the shrubs surrounding the Governors House in Port Royal. Finding one furled in the laundry had not been uncommon.
She snatched it from the bed and examined it. "Hester?" she called over her shoulder, balancing it on her fingertips. "What's this?"
Hester, who was the middle of closing the curtains, joined her obediently. "Why, it's a riding crop my lady," she said.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "I know what it is," she sighed irritably, "what I'd like to know is why it's on my bed."
Hester shrugged. "Well, I couldn't say," she replied innocently, shaking her head. "Would you like for me to find its rightful home?"
On second inspection, Elizabeth found a folded piece of parchment in the place where the crop had been lying. "That won't be necessary," she replied as she picked it up and unfolded it. She edged into the light of a nearby candelabra to read it (and to escape Hester's prying eyes).
'Your presence is required urgently. Bring the crop.'
Elizabeth scrunched the letter into a ball and hurled it onto the fire. The flames swallowed it quickly. She turned to face Hester. "Perhaps my husband knows where it belongs," she said.
Hester nodded. "I think he's retired for the night. Would you like for me to take it to him, my lady?" she asked.
Elizabeth shook her head. "Thank you, Hester," she replied, striding towards the door, crop in hand, "but I think I can manage."
Lord Beckett's room was three doors along the corridor; nestled comfortably between the library and his office. It was a place Elizabeth rarely visited. It seemed that her husband didn't like to share in company of others within his inner sanctum. The only person she ever saw passing through the large gilt doors was his dog of a manservant, Mercer – until now.
Elizabeth raised the crop and tapped firmly on the door three times.
"Enter," said a voice from inside.
She grabbed the handles, turned them, and then pushed.
If the rest of the house was magnificent, then Lord Beckett's bed chamber was its masterpiece. With its walls of champagne coloured damask, gold sconces and scarlet drapery, it was a room to rival a royal bedchamber. The ceiling was hand painted; with nymphs and putto dancing from cloud to cloud around the ceiling rose and vast chandelier. The bed was enormous, and inviting; dressed in crimson and concealed by curtains of a similar shade. A small vanity in the corner held a porcelain wash bowl and jug. A powdered wig rested nearby on a stand.
She found her husband reclining in chair beside the fireplace and in a state of undress; his coat, waistcoat and necktie having been folded neatly over a screen in the far corner. He sat there in just his shirt and breeches, observing her quietly over a glass of cognac.
Elizabeth was first to break the silence. "I wasn't aware that you'd returned," she said, hovering in the middle of the room.
"Actually, I returned before you did," Beckett replied, running a hand through his cropped brown hair. He took a sip from his glass.
Elizabeth was surprised. "Oh."
He eyed her firmly. "How's my mother?" he asked as he placed his glass on a small table beside his chair.
"…exasperating," she answered with a long sigh.
He stood up and took his near-empty glass over to a small cabinet that was filled with various aperitifs. He removed a deep ochre coloured bottle, removed the cork and filled his glass. The sound of the liquid glugging from the bottle and swirling in the glass was soothing.
"I found this on my bed," Elizabeth said, sauntering towards him and waving the crop. "Any reason why?"
Beckett hesitated as he returned the cork to the bottle. He glanced over his shoulder. "Your French vocabulary leaves much to be desired," he explained as he put the bottle down and strolled to meet her in the middle of the room. "Something we must urgently remedy."
He offered her his glass.
Elizabeth shook her head, busying her hands with the crop, bending and flexing it. "No, thank you."
Beckett studied her momentarily and then took a hefty sip himself.
She groaned. "I don't see why learning French is so important."
"You don't," he repeated flatly.
Elizabeth rolled her eyes. "Well, for a start we live in England, not France," she replied, distractedly swatting her skirts with the crop. She liked the sound that it made each time it hit the satin.
Beckett frowned. "French is the language of diplomacy, and you'll find a simple understanding of the language necessary if you are to circumnavigate the parlours of le bon ton," he explained, his tongue rolling over the French words lithely.
"Dull, dull, dull," Elizabeth complained childishly. "I was never complimented for my concentration during French lessons."
Beckett took the crop from her grasp.
"Ah. Then we must find a way to make them more interesting for you," he said with a small smirk.
Elizabeth waits patiently as Lord Beckett devises his next question; watching his pale eyes scan her bare torso for vocabulary to test.
They'd begun with items of clothing. Gown, robe, shirt, chemise, breeches, culotte, underwear, sous-vêtements; discarding each one until they were left with only bare body parts to name.
Beckett's eyes eventually fall upon her shoulder. His finger strokes the faint freckles over its surface in a circular motion. "This," he asks, "quel est son nom?"
Elizabeth frowns and chews on her lip. She's not sure. "Um…" Oh, what's that word again? The one which sounds vaguely like a name…
"Quickly," he urges.
She pulls a face. "…I don't know."
Beckett removes his finger from her skin and tuts. "Disappointing," he replies, and the bed creaks as he lifts himself from her body and onto his knees. "On your front," he orders calmly.
Elizabeth groans as she rolls her body until her breasts are pressed into the coverlet and her spine curves like a cobra. "Is this really necessary?" she asks wearily, glancing over her shoulder as her husband retrieves the crop from amongst the sheets. It glistens in the candlelight like liquorice.
"Yes," he replies flatly. "I find that pupils learn far more from pain than they do from pleasure."
Elizabeth watches as he bends and twists the crop threateningly; testing its strength. "The stable master will be looking for that," she notes, catching his eye with a playful grin.
"Let him look," he replies striking her quickly across the back of her thighs; short and severe. The sound resonates in the quiet room.
Elizabeth inhales sharply, arching her back. The pain's peak is intense, but ebbs to leave a warmth in its place. She exhales slowly and turns her head.
"You know, I think I'll keep hold of it," Beckett says thoughtfully, examining the crop briefly before dropping it onto the bed. "…and the answer, sweet, was l'épaule."
Reprimand over, Elizabeth resumes lying on her back. Beckett joins her, parting her flexed thighs and resting between them.
The test continues.
He lies on her stomach. "What might we call these, hm?" he asks, planting a kiss on the slope of each breast.
Elizabeth smirks. "Easy," she replies confidently. "Les seins."
"Et cela?" he continues, teasing a nipple between this teeth. He glances up at her expectantly as he releases it.
He's impressed, and as a reward descends the steps of her ribs with his lips.
Elizabeth sighs and swallows hard. Ribs. "Les côtes," she labels them, before he even asks.
"Excellent," he mumbles against her belly. His hands close around her hips, delving underneath her lower back to lift her abdomen off the bed and closer to his lips.
Elizabeth closes her eyes. There are a few words she's just dying for him to test her on. They're the words she learnt before any others. She lifted them out of a banned French novel she had hiding beneath her bed many years ago. She memorised them quickly, and even though she isn't exactly sure how to ask the time in French, she'd have no trouble should she ever stumble into a brothel in Pigalle. If her base knowledge can hold out for just little while longer, she's sure he'll get there and reward her focus.
She moans as he kisses the curve of her hip bone.
"This," he quizzes, lifting his gaze and looking up her body.
She hesitates, but from somewhere recalls the correct word. "Hanche," she whispers.
"Yes," he says, squeezing the flesh of her arse in his hands.
Elizabeth bites her lip as she watches him hover between her thighs. She can feel her body humming with anticipation. She wants to reach out and grab his head, force his lips to where she wants them most, but she knows how much he likes to torture her and the rewards that follow if she lets him.
She almost breaks apart when he presses his lips to the concave space just above her pubis. "This," he whispers, lips curling up at her deliciously.
To her horror, her mind is suddenly as empty as a cave. Strangely, only one word screams out from the hollow. It's the wrong word. It's the word for a filled womb, not the womb itself. Enciente. Enfant. She aches. "…I don't know," she says.
Beckett clenches his jaw and sends her a sour look. "Roll," he commands impatiently.
Elizabeth does as she's told without complaint.
She cries out as the crop stings her flesh; more pleasure in her voice than pain this time.
Beckett sighs loudly. "You're not supposed to enjoy it," he comments wryly. "That defeats the purpose."
Elizabeth looks back at him. "Sorry," she says with a little shrug.
He strikes her once more for luck and then orders her to lie on her back. She can actually feel the red stripes left behind now, crop's kiss.
Beckett pushes her thighs apart and kneels between them. She's hoping he'll continue where he left off and pouts when he doesn't. He lifts her thigh up against him and proceeds to untie her garter; tugging at the pale blue satin until it unravels in his fingertips. She watches closely as he rolls her stocking down her calf and then places a kiss to her kneecap.
"Le genou," Elizabeth says.
It earns her a nod. "Correct."
She feels a frisson of pleasure from within when he kisses the insides of her thighs and then lowers himself between them. Thighs. "Mes cuisses," she says, labelling them correctly.
When he dips his finger along her slit, she arches her back. "And finally, this?" he asks, wetting his lips as he glances up at her.
At long last! "Chatte," she responds eagerly, pleading him with her eyes to allow her what she's been waiting for.
He smirks. "Yes, I thought you might have no problem remembering that one," he remarks sarcastically. "But can you use it in a sentence?" he asks.
Elizabeth scowls down at him. "Sucer mon chatte," she replies impatiently, annunciating sharply.
Beckett glares at her. She's forgotten something.
She sighs. "…s'il vous plaît," she adds quietly with a roll of her brown eyes.
"Manners don't cost a penny," he drawls before lowering his mouth onto her.