WARNING: Sexual content.
Bran helps Lot after her adventure.
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London – 1844
I loved baths. I hadn’t always been able to afford them but after a childhood in the workhouse I never felt clean. Sometimes the smell would come back to me as vivid as if I was there, the stink of caged humanity, and I’d to scrub myself raw. It wouldn’t fade. I couldn’t forget it. I couldn’t forget anything.
Of his own accord Bran had emptied a small room of books and had a bath room installed for me. There was a copper to heat the water, when I bothered to heat it, and a tap so I could have a bath whenever I wanted without bothering anyone. None of the other gentlemen’s wives had a bath room. It was better than jewels or fine clothes. It was love.
No longer needing to breathe I could sink under the scented water and stay there until it turned cold. It was tempting, but I might fall asleep and the children could burst in and find Mummy apparently drowned in the bath. I came up from under the water and rubbed it from my face, better safe than traumatise my children.
Memories were banging at their boxes to be let out. I pulled my knees to my chest and rested my face against them, wrapping fresh chains around the boxes in my mind.
Bran tapped the door.
I raised my head. ‘You don’t have to knock, Bran.’
He came in and locked the door to keep the tiny terror and her troop out. ‘Habit. Can I get in with you?’
I folded my arms on the edge of the bath. ‘Please.’
He kept his back to me and peeled off his clothes in a slow attempt at seduction. He took his waistcoat and shirt off and dropped them then bent over to take off his trousers. As he’d, unintentionally, put his arse near my face I cupped it with my wet hand.
‘Jesus.’ He straightened and blushed.
I shook with supressed laughter. ‘Sorry, you’re just so tempting.’
‘And you’re so wet.’
I sat back in the bath. ‘You have no idea.’
He got in the bath in front of me, without trying to hide anything, sighed and sank down in the water so his head was level with mine. It was awkward, he had to flex his knees so they stuck out of the water like uncomfortable icebergs.
‘We need a bigger bath,’ I said.
‘I don’t think they make them my size.’
‘Big fella, are you?’
He tilted his head to kiss me. ‘So my wife tells me.’
I chuckled. ‘You’re developing a wicked sense of humour, Brandon.’ I played my fingers through his hair and kissed his ear, tangling my other hand with his. ‘I love it. Fancy playing billiards?’
‘Not today,’ he murmured.
I nipped his ear lobe and he hissed.
‘What’s the matter?’ I asked.
He sighed. ‘I feel like I’m disappointing you.’
I wrapped my legs around him. ‘Never. Have you thought about a night at a hotel?’
‘I thought that was a joke,’ he said.
‘I never joke about doing wicked things to you.’
‘You joke about it all the time.’
‘Ah, yes.’ I put my mouth to his ear. ‘But do I do them?’
He rested his face against mine. ‘You haven’t found anything then?’
I smiled at him impressive conversational pirouette, he was very good at them when the mood took him. ‘No name, a few people have seen her around.’
‘There you are going out and doing dangerous things while I’m sitting around scouring newspapers and books for clues.’
‘We all have our talents. Sitting still isn’t one of mine.’ I wrapped my arm around him. ‘I do love the danger.’
He kissed my jaw. ‘Something’s bothering you.’ A sneaky manoeuvre if ever there was one.
‘I saw a woman today who was once very kind to a scared little girl then…’ I frowned at our conjoined hands. ‘It reminded me of things I’d rather not be reminded of.’
He nodded; he didn’t need explanation, we had long discussions through long nights about things that kept us awake. It was how I knew all about Elizabeth and her malice.
He tilted his head and cupped my face. ‘You’re safe now.’ He kissed me softly, drawing the tension out of me like poison from a wound. The past was the past, all that existed in that moment was Bran and our kiss. He hesitated, then guided my hand downwards and moaned against my lips.
‘I thought you weren’t in the mood,’ I murmured.
‘I’m always in the mood but sometimes not all of me agrees.’
I chuckled then whispered, ‘Does your cock need persuading?’
He smiled. ‘Mmmm, aren’t you persuading now?’
I wiggled the fingers of my free hand. ‘I’m magic.’ I gave his shoulder a nudge.
We shifted about in the bath, banging places that didn’t like to be banged, splashing water on the floor, and laughing. I put my arm across the lip of the bath behind his neck and straddled him. As far as I was concerned the only thing the water lubricated was my hand on his cock, anything else led to chafing in places I’d rather not chafe, but he was tall and I had short arms.
He tilted his head back. ‘You are magic.’
‘You’re a hand full.’ I kissed him deeply, fingers finding all his most sensitive spots.
A little hand banged at the door. ‘Muma, Papa,’ Edward shouted. ‘Where you?’
‘Coming, little fella,’ I called then whispered to Bran, ‘What was I saying about time?’
‘I need a minute,’ he replied.
‘Muma!’ Edward cried and banged on the door.
I climbed out of the bath and wrapped my robe around myself before I opened the door. ‘Hey, little fella.’ I knelt down in front of him. ‘What’s the matter?’
He sniffled and peered out from behind his wooden wolf, Rawr. ‘Not sleepy. Scary monsters get you when you’re sleepy.’
I wiped his face with my sleeve. ‘Monsters are scary but I think there’s one monster you do like.’
He shook his head.
‘What? Not even the… cuddle monster.’ I swept him into a hug and lifted him up so fast he squealed with delight. ‘Oh no, the cuddle monster’s got you and she’s going to eat you up.’ I rocked him from side-to-side. ‘Nom, nom, nom.’
He laughed and squeezed my neck, shoving Rawr’s nose into my jaw.
I squeezed him back. ‘You’re always safe with the cuddle monster.’
Bran was grinning at us with his arm folded on the edge of the bath and his chin resting on it.
‘Shall we leave your pappy to finish his bath and go raid Mrs Stapleton’s coco?’ I asked.
Edward blew a raspberry on my cheek.
‘You’ll have to be quieter than that or she’ll catch us.’ I hunched slightly and put a finger to my lips. ‘Shhh, sneaky sneaking.’
He put his finger to his lips. ‘Tippy-toes.’
We left Bran in the bath and slipped down the hallway, pausing at each corner so Edward could peek round and check it was clear.
By the time Bran appeared in the kitchen we were sitting at the table with our drinks and Edward was telling me how Rawr would eat all the monsters up. By the mysterious means of children he’d got chocolate round his mouth and all over his hands, it seemed to be more than had been in his cup.
Bran sat down beside Edward where a cup was waiting for him. ‘Mummies eat monsters too,’ he whispered.
I leaned in and winked. ‘They’re delicious.’
Edward giggled and climbed onto Bran’s lap, leaving a trail of chocolate handprints. He snuggled into Bran’s chest, wiped his face on Bran’s white shirt and fell asleep. Bran beamed at him then kissed me. The man who never thought he’d have a family had one and the little lost girl was found.
There were a happy endings after all.
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