Diana woke up the next morning with her back hurting a little from the couch where she fell asleep. She got up to check on Jack and he seemed to be sleeping peacefully, so she went away, leaving him to rest the time he needed and went to ask Martha for help. She needed to bathe and change her clothes. Martha helped her bringing water to the tub in her room and Diana spent some time with her body under warm water. Soon, the annoying pain on her back began to abandon her and her sore muscles seemed to relax. That’s exactly what she needed after such a bad night sleep.
After the bath, she lay on her bed just staring at the ceiling. Tears of sadness assaulted her eyes as she remembered James’s words right before she rejoined Jack, but she had already made up her mind and Jack was a great man. She got up and began to get dressed. She decided that she needed energy and to look great for when Jack would wake up. She wanted to be pretty for him. For the first time in her life, she wanted to look beautiful for a man other than her master. Later, when she entered the kitchen to have her breakfast, she found a great surprise in there. Her lips opened in a smile when her eyes hit the brunette in a salmon dress.
“Ellen!” Diana exclaimed and both girls held onto each other. Ellen was Martha’s only daughter and the only friend Diana ever had while growing up. Ellen was her company when Ellen was on holydays, for she was raised with her grandmother and came to visit her parents only once in a while.
“How’s married life?” Diana asked her when they parted, as Ellen had been recently married to a 35 years old man. She was 23.
“Good.” Ellen smiled. “We need to catch up! I heard you’re engaged!”
Diana rolled her eyes. “I am not!” She exclaimed.
“But I thought…” Ellen looked at Martha.
“You know how they’re always trying to find me a man to get married.” Diana laughed.
“I can serve you breakfast in the balcony my lady, if you wish.” Martha suggested so the girls could have some privacy. “And Lord Jack Byron may not yet be your fiancé, but it will be soon.”
“Oh Martha…” Diana laughed again.
“Jack Byron?” Ellen curled an eyebrow.
“You know him?” Diana asked surprised.
“His family and he attended a party Anthony threw the other day.” Ellen explained. “He’s a great catch! And cute!” She added giggling and pinching Diana’s arm. Diana opted to say nothing and took the tray outside herself. Ellen followed her and only when they sat Ellen spoke again. “You look sad…”
“I am just tired, that’s all. Your mother might have told you that Lord Byron had dinner here last night and then he felt a little ill and spent the night here. I was there too, with your mother, looking after him, so I slept terribly.” Diana had the perfect excuse.
“You’re in love with him?” Elle asked.
“Lord Byron of course! I mean…you spent the night by his bedside table…”
“It’s not that.” Diana shook her head. “I like him…that’s all…” She said shrugging. “But, how’s married life?”
“It’s good. Anthony is a great man and he’s an aristocrat and that brings me some social stability.”
“And the rest?” Diana insisted for she knew Ellen was just talking about the money.
“I lay there to comply with my duty.” Ellen told her. Diana was a bit shocked.
“You know what they say! You can’t enjoy it because your husband will think you’re a whore!” Ellen shrugged. “So, I do that. I comply with my duty as a wife.” Diana was shocked with the news. She always thought Ellen had a healthy marriage on that side, because they seemed like a close couple and in the end she was like every other marriage. Obviously she couldn’t tell Ellen that it was ok to enjoy sex, that sex was good and that she liked it, that she couldn’t understand why not let your husband know that you like it. Probably, and she concluded that, none of these women actually enjoyed sex because it was such a taboo. There were exceptions, obviously, but then…
“Is it bad?” She asked innocently. Ellen blushed and then giggled. Diana’s eyebrow curled surprised with her reaction and smiled.
“Ok…” Ellen hushed. “It is good.” She admitted. “I did as mother said in the beginning, but then it felt good when Anthony touched me, still I was ashamed of liking it, you know. I thought only whores were supposed to like it. Anthony once told me it was ok to enjoy it, that he wanted me to enjoy it.” Diana remembered how James had told her the same. What if Jack wouldn’t? What if Jack expected her to be the regular woman on that expect and not a modern one?
“So, you just don’t lay there.” Diana stated, deeply happy for her friend.
“No.” Ellen blushed again
“Do you love him Ellen?” Diana then asked and Ellen looked away. “You don’t…”
“I like him.” She said.
“It’s not the same thing.” Diana stated.
“How do you know?”
Diana couldn’t explain why. “For some reason both things have different names.” She said the easiest thing that came up to her mind. Jack made her heart beat fast and she liked his sweet kiss and liked the way he looked but then James…James made her world crumble.
“They say love comes with time. I am married for a couple of months, I know I like him more than when we got married. I cried a lot on the wedding night. It’s weird to have someone touching us so intimately when it’s barely a stranger. It won’t be your case with Jack…”
“I like Jack.” Diana admitted again.
“I think you’re going to love him soon enough.” Ellen grabbed her hand in support. “If you like him now, imagine you’re going to like him more after…you know… it happened to me!”
Ellen was still so naïve. “It might be true.” She said anyway, because somehow she wanted to believe in that. She wanted to forget James’s existence and love Jack, so there was a big chance that would happen. After all, she already liked him, he already moved her in mysterious ways. He already made her heart beat faster, she liked to be with him and she found him attractive. In an overall, she simply liked him since the first time she saw him. She felt something…she knew she felt something stronger for Jack.
Conversation flew longer. The two friends had a lot to catch up since it had been long months, ever since Ellen have gotten married, since they have been together. A noise approaching disturbed them and they looked to see who was coming. Diana’s heart raced as she saw Jack and Ellen noticed how her face flushed. She smiled knowingly.
“Good morning ladies.” Jack greeted them with a bow.
“Do you know Ellen?” Diana asked politely, though Ellen has said he had been to her house already.
“Yes.” Jack affirmed. “Lady Ellen Macintyre.” He said.
“That’s correct.” Ellen smiled.
“How’s your husband?” Jack asked interested.
“He’s somewhere with my father, probably talking about wine.” She smiled. Ellen’s husband was a known wine trader.
“Would you ladies like to go for a walk?” Jack asked but Ellen noticed how his shining eyes were set on Diana. He was being polite, but he didn’t want her company, only Diana’s.
“You two go alone.” Ellen suggested.
“I have to tell my father first.” Diana said promptly, not denying his invitation.
Knowing there was a risk of letting his daughter go out so many times with a boy, Constantine still gave her permission to go. He was feeling this boy would be his daughter’s salvation, plus it was daylight, they wouldn’t do anything obnoxious in the garden with the risk to be seen. Jack and Diana walked side by side silently first, then she turned to him.
“Are you feeling better?” She asked him.
“Much better. Thank you for taking care of me.” He said.
“I wouldn’t leave you alone.” She told him. Her blue gaze encountered his and unnoticing, his hand searched for hers. She allowed his touch and his fingers curled with hers. Her fingers responded promptly, even surprising her and she found herself liking that touch. They walked that way, away from other’s eyes.
“I haven’t showed you the lake yet.” She said smiling. His hand clutched onto hers so naturally. It felt so perfect and her heart was racing so much.
“Let’s go there. Is it far?” He asked feeling his palm sweat from the proximity between them. Just like hers, his heart was beating on his throat. He felt so nervous that moment.
“No, it’s right behind that hill.” She pointed and she also wanted to stay away from everyone but she didn’t dare. She couldn’t dare with him as much as she did with James.
They walked there. No words were shared, just their hands united. It didn’t repulse Diana, the fact that they were walking like lovers, it felt so good. When she got to the lake, she pulled her hand away and she sat on the grass and then lay on her back.
“I come here to do this.” She said. Jack smiled down at her and sat by her side. “I know this is not a thing a lady can do, but it’s so wonderful. Try it Jack.” She asked, and Jack looked back. They both stared at the bright blue sky.
“It feels good.” He said feeling this peace invading him.
“Yes, that’s why I do it.” They fell silent after her last statement, but little by little, his fingers searched for hers. At first, there was just this brush of the tip of his fingers against hers, but then they searched for her hand and Diana offered it to him. They held hands again. Diana gasped softly and they were both a little tense. Jack turned around and leaned on his elbow looking down at her
“Is it him Diana?” Jack asked not containing his curiosity inside.
“What are you talking about?” She asked clueless.
“The man who deceived you. Is it him? Lord Smith?” Diana felt the sky falling down on her. She turned her gaze away from his, but Jack was determined to get an answer. Gently, his hand left hers and rested on her cheek, pulling her face back at him.
“Yes.” She said low.
“I knew it, because he treated you by your name.” Jack stated.
“Jack…” Diana sat. “He made it on purpose. Please…” She said expecting Jack to go away and she didn’t want him to.
“I know.” He said.
His eyes locked on hers and then went down until her lips. They were slightly parted and hankered for him to kiss her. His hand flew to her cheek once more and he caressed her soft skin there. Diana closed her eyes enjoying his touch so much. Jack approached his face to hers and stopped when his nose touched hers. Diana held her breath expectantly and then she felt his lips brush hers, then he pulled away and her eyes opened. They found his staring at her with that glitter she loved. A soft smile formed on her lips.
“I thought you were going away.” She said low.
“Oh no…” Jack whispered caressing her cheek. “I am not going anywhere.”
Again he approached her face and kissed her lips tenderly, softly and slowly. Diana responded to the kiss and unashamedly, she wrapped an arm around his neck and he pressed his lips against hers firmly. When his tongue demanded entrance, she parted her lips to allow it. His tongue joined hers in a slow and easy dance. He tasted sweet and she loved the way his lips moved against hers. He lay her down on the grass and continued kissing her, taking her breath away. Finally he pulled away and smiled at her, Diana smiled back. Jack pecked her and held her hand like they were lovers.
“You think evil of me?” She asked fearful she had admitted she had let James touch her and now she was there kissing with him. A lady wouldn’t do that, she was sure.
“Never.” He told her. Jack rubbed his nose on hers. “No one has to know what we do alone. I still want to marry you…” Instead of answering, she just smiled. They stayed there for some time, hiding and kissing and telling stories. Jack’s smile cheered her up and his laughter warmed up her heart.
Jack left after lunch, leaving Diana in a better mood. Ellen kept her company for part of the afternoon and then left too. She lived a bit far from the palace and meanwhile the time for dinner arrived. As usual, she went to the dining room, she knew she’d find James in there but that time she got a surprise.
“Who are you?” She asked impolitely for she was so surprised to see a guest in the palace.
“My lady…” Dave bowed with a smile on his lips. “David McNamara, my lady.”
“Diana Davenport.” She said introducing herself, though Dave knew very well who she was.
“You are a friend of Lord Smith?” She asked him with curiosity.
“Oh yes…from the time when he still live in Scotland.” Dave said. Diana looked at James surprised. James tensed.
“I didn’t know you were from Scotland my lord!” She said.
“James is full of secrets.” Dave laughed.
“Enough.” James shot, feeling Dave wasn’t going to give him an easy time, still, he had to keep an eye on him. He knew he wanted Diana.
“This dinner is going to be interesting.” Dave smiled evilly.
Diana watched the man. She was sure he was a vampire like James but she didn’t like him. She didn’t like the way he looked at her. There was something so evil in his glare, it made her shudder and fearful.