Authors note at bottom of page.

Chapter Twenty Three


"That vile wench!" the young woman cursed as she paced the floor in agitation. She clutched the morning newspaper within her left hand and with each pace gripped it that much tighter. Sunlight slipped into the aged room through a gap in the heavy curtains and highlighted her companion's face. He was the most handsome gentleman she had ever laid eyes on and she was incredibly glad to have met an individual that shared her thoughts on this subject. This was not a subject to discuss with just anyone, not unless you wished to spend the remainder of your days in the Tower of London.

"I feel your pain, my Lady," his voice floated towards her and instantly gained her attention. She had never come across a gentleman that could capture her in such a simple way. His feign accent was not unlike the woman that she wished to destroy, but it was different with him. He wished for the same things that she wished for. The feign princess would suffer if her companion could only make their dreams a reality.

"I know you do," she replied airily, "I am not hurting now my love because I know you will bring about her down fall."

Her eyes were clouded with her lust for revenge and for the man who sat before her. They had spent much time together over the previous couple of months, plotting and planning for the assassination of the young princess. Her companion read the signals from her heated gaze and knew where their conversation was heading. He could always predict this outcome, it was always the same; her lust for revenge always became a lust for him. He benefited much from their friendship and he would certainly be holding up his side of their partnership. It could take many months to finalise but his radiant little vixen would have her revenge. The Princess of Wales would meet her death by his hand and that was a promise he intended to keep.

The ceaseless ticking of the carriage clock upon the mantel, a gift from the King of Spain, drove him to near madness as he sat impatiently before his father. Darkness had fallen over an hour ago and he desperately wanted to get to his wife. She was probably waiting up for him and wondering why he had not made an appearance yet. How he wished he could abandon duties and responsibility to enjoy his wife's company. He longed to caress her, to touch her and hold her in his embrace. It was all that had occupied his thoughts since their conversation in the gardens. She waited for him and the very thought drove him to the brink of madness.

"Edward, are you listening?" His father enquired, not looking best pleased at his son's dreamy expression. His Royal Highness was extremely glad that he was alone with his son and that they were not surrounded by the entire council as they would be in the morn. Edward's distracted gaze found its way over to him. His Majesty awaited an answer; an answer he was sure his son would not be able to offer.

"You were talking about Spain?" The Prince attempted, hoping against hope that he had taken in enough of his father's words to answer correctly.

"Why was I talking about Spain?" His father continued, slightly amused by his sons behaviour. He was impatient and fidgety like a small child awaiting a surprise.

The Prince racked his brain for the correct response but came up with nothing of consequence. He remained silent long enough for His Majesty to realise that his son could not reply. He sighed, an unhappy sigh.

"We are on the brink of war, Edward, thanks to your brother's irrational behaviour," His father supplied the answer that he'd been searching for. The Prince of Wales had the decency to look sheepish. He felt the guilt settle in his stomach at the realisation that his country was in peril and he had been too busy fantasising about his wife's luscious form to even pay attention to his father's worries. His thoughts began to stray at the mention of her form; her soft lips, perfect breasts, delicately smooth skin…

"Oh for pity's sake, Edward!" His father was most displeased. He knew that much from the tone of his reprimand and his ill-tempered expression.

"There is only one thing in this world that can distract a reasonable man like yourself," he stated, "Go now, and take your wife to bed. Maybe then you can return in the morn for council with a clear mind and the ability to hold a conversation."

His Majesty hid his amusement under a cover of irritation. In truth, he was annoyed by his son's lack of attention towards a very serious conversation but he was very much amused to see that even his son could be taken over by the attentions of a woman. He was pleased to see it, in fact, when his son had first taken Isabella as his wife His Majesty had been nervous. Now he was assured of his son's normalcy and he was most grateful to see it.

Edward left swiftly; he did not need to be told twice. His Royal Highness was spurred onwards by the thought of his wife; soft, warm and with any luck, eager for his attention. She had always been eager and impatient for his affection before their daughters were born onto this world. He had heard her agony that day, the day she had delivered them into their lives. He was not ignorant of her suffering and so he understood her hesitation to return to their previous activities. Unfortunately, he was powerless to control his need for her and completely unable to stay away from her. He needed her affection and her love to get him through his daily responsibilities. Duties were tiresome, dull and time consuming. How he wished for a day like before? A day in the arms of his beautiful wife, a day of togetherness and informality… he wished for nothing more than to return to their sanctuary in Wales and never return to Buckingham. He wished he could be like his brother; away from court and having endless hours to spend pleasuring his wife.

"You're late," her ladies maid informed him upon his arrival. He smirked at her comment.

"I am very aware of that, Lady Weber."

She chuckled at his expression and bid him goodnight. The Prince of Wales slipped into his wife's bedchamber. A single candle glowed by her bedside as she re-read the letter that had arrived early in the morn. She chose to ignore the lateness of the hour as he shyly moved around her door and placed the letter down on her bedside table. Now was no time to read; now was the time to do her duty. She had not thought of love making as a duty or a chore in so long that the thought startled her. When had she begun to think of it as such? She was unsure. They had not spent time together in this way in such a long time; she hoped that tonight he would rouse the dormant passion from within her since childbirth had ruined this act for her almost completely.

She smiled delicately as he approached and tried not to think of the consequences of their coupling. A son was desired by all but herself. She had no desire to be expecting another child so soon after her girls and the very thought of losing another child caused fear and pain to clench at her heart. She pushed the terrible thoughts from her mind as her husband advanced; his intentions plain. He removed his clothes before her eyes and she was surprised to witness him behave so daringly. It was true that similar displays had occurred in the past year but she had become unaccustomed to his nakedness. A shyness like no other before overcame her. She averted her gaze and inhaled heavily. Gently his finger tips brushed against her chin.

"My lady?" he addressed her formally despite his most informal lack of clothing. Slowly, her gaze shifted to meet his. He saw the fear that her gaze contained and reached for his clothes. He would not allow her to be afraid, it did not matter how much he longed for her. This would not happen unless she consented. He would not be that man.

"What are you doing?" she enquired, almost panicked by his change in attitude, "Edward, I will do my duty by you."

Her statement caused rage to flicker in his expression.

"Your duty?" He confirmed, "Isabella, I do not want you to lie back and think of England! I want you to want me."

She frowned, she had never thought of England during their encounters. If anything, on their wedding night her thoughts had perhaps drifted towards France but that was mainly to seek comfort from the pain.

"I assure you, when seeking comfort from our early couplings, I do not think about England nor will I ever. If anything, I would think of France."

Laughter rippled through his body, loud and uncontrollable. He collapsed beside his wife, convulsing at the weight of the hilarity. It was simply too much to contain. Once he had regained control, his gaze found Isabella's. Confusion marred her beautiful features.

"It is simply an expression, it means nothing of consequence," he explained, reaching up to smooth out the crease that he formed on her brow. Her face relaxed, but his fingers continued to caress her delicate skin. At his touch, her skin gradually flushed turning a glorious rose pink. Desire burned inside him, a feeling that he struggled to contain and endure. Skimming across her cheek, towards her neck, his hand gently brushed against her heated flesh before reaching the base of her throat, where he clutched at her and leant to place a whisper of a kiss upon her collar bone. He felt a shiver past through her body, and moved to place his lips upon her own.

A spark ignited beneath her bosom. Renewed were her passions, an unholy presence had taken up residence inside her, clawing at her body and mind in demand of what only her husband could give her. His surprise was evident as her hands snaked around his neck, her left gripping him for support while her right wound itself within his hair. In a swift motion, she placed herself a stride his lap and kissed him with more heated passion than she had possessed in many moons. It felt like Wales all over again, the couple rejoiced secretly at their reignited passions as they joined. The motion of her hips caused her breasts to bounce. They had grown, he felt as much as he fondled them. Her face was alight with ecstasy as she panted through the act of pleasuring her husband. He had never seen her appear so wanton, so driven by lust as to take control as she did this evening. He had never been more delighted. His fingers gripped at his hips as she led them both towards the blissful sensation of concurred desire.

Sweat gathered at her brow as her thighs tensed around him. His release came only moments after hers. She collapsed onto his chest, utterly exhausted and dishevelled: he had honestly never loved her more.

"I did not realise just how much I had missed our nights together until this moment," she breathed as she cuddled herself into his embrace. His arm rested against her hip and he held her close him.

"I have missed you greatly, my Bella," he stated, "you are so very beautiful." He looked directly into her brown eyes. A shy smile graced her face, she did not take compliments as well as he would like, but that did not mean that he would cease to issue them. He enjoyed her beautiful reaction to much to stop. She would simply have to learn to appreciate her own beauty and except his praise.

Her eyes began to flutter closed, her tiredness was apparent but he was simply not able to release her to sleep just yet.

"I beg of you not to sleep," he pleaded, "the night is too young, and you are too glorious."

Her cheeks flushed and she replied, "The night is certainly not young."

"So you agree that you are glorious?" he asked, eyebrows raised at her sudden ability to except his admiration.

"Why would I not?" she questioned, eyes drifting to a close. A yawn escaped as she continued, "after what just occurred between us, I do believe I must be glorious, in fact, I would go further than that and insist that I deserve a medal."

His expression was humorous as he stared down towards his young wife in disbelief.

"You believe you deserve a medal to lie with your husband?" he asked, astonished. Her eyes did not even flicker as she muttered her reply.

"Oh no, I believe I deserve a medal for being kept awake by my husband."

Edward thought on this a moment, "Then my dear," he began before moving to lie above his wife, his hips placed between her legs. Her eyes opened, startled by the movement, and she stared directly at him, a lustful smile upon her lips.

"I will have one commissioned in the morning."

Their laughter lingered in her chamber until the early hours of the morn. By the time he rose, streaks of daylight decorated the carpeted floor. Council was due to meet at eleven; the height of the sun could only meet one thing. It was late: he was late. He had never moved with more speed, he granted his wife a simple kiss upon her brow and a hurried farewell before throwing his clothes onto his person and dashing from the room. His valet was waiting outside his chamber, anxiety radiated from him.

"Do not say it," Edward stated, "I am aware."

There was no ceremony, no time to exchange pleasantries. His Royal Highness left his chamber a mere fifteen minutes after entering it. His clothes were fresh, but he smelt anything but. The scent of his wifes perfume and the glorious scent of her skin still lingered upon him, but he was too late to wash. There was simply no time.

The council was already sitting when he arrived, his knew he should appear ashamed, but his father had taught him that a prince did not show weakness, no matter how small. His chair beside his father was of course still vacant. The chatter around the table fell silent as he slipped into his seat. His father's gaze assessed his appearance and he smirked before issuing the command that reinstated the conversation.

"I trust your evening went well," his father muttered, leaning inconspicuously closer. A simple but telling smile formed on Edward's face. His father knew all too well what had occurred between his son and Isabella. He would go as far as to believe that the entire wing of the palace had knowledge of their goings on last night.

"I will forgive your lateness, on the hopes that there will soon be a Prince and that you are able to listen a little better now," His Majesty the King told his son. Although, Edward hoped for a son, he did not wish it upon his wife at this moment. She needed to rest before carrying another child, she was only young after all, and it could not be good for her. He tried not to think on such things, and instead replied to his father.

"Believe me, father, I am all ears this morning."

A/N: Hi guys, hope you enjoyed the chapter. I cannot apologise enough for the wait on this one: I started University and although I studied Victorians (the era this is set in) it didn't leave a whole lot of time to write. I then broke up with my boyfriend so wasn't feeling overly romantic. However, I'm quite proud of this after so long away, and I hope you liked it. I intend to re-plan the future chapters, so there won't be a huge amount left about 10 – 15 chapters as I would like this finished before I start back in September (which will go quicker than I would like). Hopefully I would update in a fortnight or sooner Abbie