This is a scary thing, posting a story. So thanks to my betas for their help and encouragement: Robin Helm, Annette (rainbowpromise), Steph (Sdhamm), and Wendi (wenditripletmom). And thanks to Laura Hile for the picture she posted on her blog that became the inspiration for this story.

The Tryst

She waits in the grove.

Her hands travel the length of the oak table, smoothing the pristine white cloth that covers it. She stands, mesmerized by the billowing clouds of fabric that rise and fall with each breeze that blows the doldrums of winter away.

Her fingers alight on the dinnerware, straightening the knives that rest beside the plates, pressing the folds of the napkins so that each crease is perfect.

She runs her fingertip around the rim of the wine goblet, knowing that his lips will soon rest upon the crystal edge.

She touches the pots filled with the first flowers of spring. Purple anemones. Yellow jonquils. Blue crocuses.

She closes her eyes, inhaling the scents of new grass and flowers mingled with the earthy aroma of the forest.

Her eyes are drawn to the blossoms in the apple trees that dot the field. She watches as the wind scatters the blossoms among the grass, a pink carpet softer than the finest hand-woven rug.

She wears a thin, white muslin gown, eschewing the binding corset for this afternoon interlude. Her unbound breasts move with her every step. The dress is gathered underneath their fullness, a blue satin ribbon holding the folds in place. The fabric threatens to fall from her shoulders. The sheer sleeves reach her wrists. Belgian Lace falls to her fingertips. The gossamer wrap is but a whisper on her arms.

Her dark hair is down, loosed from its pins, curls flowing to her waist. A wreath of ivy and lily of the valley holds the tresses from her face. The warm wind blows the escaping tendrils across her cheeks.

She awaits her lover. Her clasped hands betray her anxiety. How will he respond?

She espies a man coming towards her from across the field, disturbing the coveys of recently returned wrens. Her eyes follow his movement as he makes his way around the pond and proceeds through the trees.

She recognizes the graceful strides of the man she loves. A man who knows the value of physical labor. A man whose body carries the weight of muscles made strong by long hours atop his steed. A man whose arms wield a blade with deceptive speed and deadly accuracy.

She knows that his appearance confirms his receipt of her impromptu invitation.

She watches from beneath long dark lashes as he searches the trees for her. For her. Just for her. Only for her. Always for her.

She knows the very moment his eyes find her. He pauses but briefly, his eyes taking in her shapely form, before a smile lights his face, igniting the fire in her heart.

She welcomes him into her outstretched arms with words of love. She wants him to know the depth of her feelings for him. She communicates that message with tender kisses that hint at the passion to follow.

She ceases her forward attentions and places her fingers upon his lips, tracing the fullness of their shape, while whispering promises of more. Later. Passion momentarily postponed, she bids him sit. She feeds him from the bounty of the intimately set table.

She pours the wine. He sips from her goblet. She sips from him, savouring the flavours she finds on his lips, on his tongue. Black cherries. Mint. Oak. Liquid velvet.

Crusted bread and cheeses. Roasted pheasant. Ripe strawberries. Rich red wine. A sumptuous feast for two.

He eats the bits of pheasant from her fork. She accepts a strawberry from his, the sticky sweetness lingering on her lips. Temptation. He leans forward, his eyes on the prize before him. His lips find hers. Slowly. Softly. He pulls her lower lip into his mouth as his tongue gently suckles the plump flesh.

Once again, she pulls away. Her eyes hold a great secret. It is for him to unravel the mystery. She takes another sip of the wine. He shares the cup. A private communion.

Hunger satisfied, he looks about him, surveying the objects she has carefully included for their benefit. He finds the blanket in the open basket that rests beneath the tree. His eyes find hers, and he smiles, knowing that she has come prepared to offer further treats. Afternoon delights.

He spreads the blanket on the mossy ground, beneath the ancient arms of the giant oak.

He holds out his hand, silently beckoning her to come. Come to him. Lie with him.

She walks towards him, her eyes fixed on her future. Her love. Her life.

He takes her hand and guides her towards him. She kneels beside him on the blanket, carefully lowering herself into his arms.

He kisses her mouth, the taste of wine mingled with the strawberries still lingering on her tongue. She fills his senses. He wants more. He wants her.

He pulls her to his chest. He lowers his head to once again claim the lips that whisper his name. His fingers caress her face, and then gently thread through her curls, anchoring her to him.

She wants more. She wants him. She glides her hands over the contours of his chest. She presses lingering kisses on his neck, long since freed from its covering. She opens his shirt and places her lips against his skin. She draws a deep breath, savouring the scent that is his alone. She feels the rhythm of his breathing.

She turns her head to nuzzle his neck. She hears the beat of his heart.

She holds his face in her hands. She whispers words of love as she kisses his eyes, his cheeks, his nose, his mouth. He opens to her, receiving all that she so willingly gives. He gives back to her in kind. Her mind is overwhelmed by the intensity of his possession. He has bewitched her. Her thoughts are no longer her own. They belong to him. She belongs to him. He knows the language of her body. He knows how to pleasure her. His body speaks to hers.

She recognizes the change in his touches. His eyes are dark with desire. He pushes the muslin from her shoulders revealing the curve of her breasts, the tautness of their tips. He feasts upon them with his eyes as his hands caress them. He breathes in the scent of her. His lover. His mistress. His everything. His mouth follows his hands, and he tastes her sweetness. She moans in anticipation of completion.

She fills her hands with him. Her lover. Her protector. Her master. Her everything. She delights in the response of his body to her touch. She thrills with the knowledge that she will soon be filled with all that she holds in her hands. She strokes him in the way that he has taught her. She knows that their coupling will be soon.

He tilts her head back and presses sweet kisses to her throat. She shivers at the pressure of his mouth on her skin. Her moans are confirmation of the joy he gives her.

He loves her in all of the ways that she likes best. His hands run the length of her well-muscled legs. He kisses her, ever drawing nearer to that part of her that yearns for his touch. He senses her desire. His tongue finds the center of her passion. He pulls her into his mouth. He loses himself in her, her scent, her slow undulations. He feels her crest. She weaves her fingers into his curls and urges him toward her. She will have her way. He finds his way to her, his mouth on hers, his body pushing deeply into the one who holds his heart.

She whispers his name. Quietly. Reverently. She feels his words against her lips as he tells her of his love for her… only her. He will always love her… for all of eternity. He will never leave her. He releases into her and lowers himself to her side. He holds her tenderly to his chest, wanting this moment never to end.

She lays her head over his heart. She waits for him to calm. She tells him that she carries his child.

She holds her breath, awaiting his response. He speaks not a word. She feels the rise and fall of his chest.

She wonders if he is pleased with such news. She fears that perhaps it is too soon.

She searches his eyes, dark beneath thick black lashes. She waits for him to speak. Her lips are dry. Her heart beats frantically within her chest. Does she always hear it so?

Will he welcome this child, his child?

He holds her tightly.

He senses her unease. How can she doubt him? He will find a way to keep them safe.

He strokes her back. He kisses her hair. His lips find her mouth. His tongue runs along her dry lips. He kisses her deeply.

Her breathing slows.

He turns and places his hands on either side of her slender hips. He carefully rolls her to her back, suddenly afraid to place his weight upon her lest he harm the babe within. His child. Their child.

He bends over her and tenderly kisses her belly, yet firm and taut...

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...

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...and welcomes the next master of Pemberley.