Monday, 25 March 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013 -

Absolute Pleasures

by Abigail Armani
Published: Mar 25, 2013
Words: 30,934
Category: romance
Orientation: M/F
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As the lash of the rain battered the windows and the trees beyond the house bent beneath the frenzied wind, the old man shifted in his chair by the fire, his gnarled fingers grasping the rug that covered his legs and feet. Age sat heavily on his frame and his old bones ached from the winter chill. From the west came an ominous rumble of thunder, and as the teeming rain continued, lightning struck blue in a black afternoon sky. Yet the flames from the pine logs blazed bright, illuminating the expectant faces of the children gathered round. The youngest was fast asleep, contentedly curled up in a ball near the hearth. The older ones waited patiently, for they had been promised a story, and a story was what he would give them.

"I shall tell you a story," he began, "of love, loss and lies, and of cowardice, courage and adventure." He raised his cup to his lips and sipped the hot liquid. And as the tongues of red flame flickered and danced within the heart of the crackling fire, his rheumy old eyes took on a faraway look as he harnessed his thoughts and began his tale.


Lord and Lady Thoresby had one daughter, Elizabeth. She was beautiful and clever and high spirited, and was quite unlike her aristocratic parents in that she had little regard for social mores. Wealth and high-ranking titles and position in society were of no interest to her. Her loves in life were books and horses. Unlike other well-bred young ladies of her age and station, she avoided embroidery and filigree work, and didn't give a stuff about drawing and painting, preferring to ride the hills and dales, tend to the horses, or curl up in her room with a book. She read avidly and absorbed information eagerly and with great enjoyment.

To the despair of her parents who wanted a good match for their only daughter, Elizabeth shrugged off countless suitors. They were either too fat, or too thin, or too stupid, boring or ugly. It wasn't until she was seventeen that Elizabeth began to show any interest in the opposite sex, and the object of her affections was not the son of a Duke or a Lord or a Baronet, but a common groom. His name was Edward Lovell, and along with two other grooms, he was employed by Lord Thoresby to tend the horses in his stable. It was ironic that Lady Thoresby inadvertently initiated the relationship between Lovell and her daughter.

"Elizabeth! Out riding again?! This is the third time today."

"Yes mother, it is. I love riding, you know that ... and we have so many horses that need to be ridden daily. I'm helping papa out by exercising them."

Lady Thoresby gave a derisive snort and shook her head. "It isn't seemly for a young woman to ride out alone. Take Molly or Sophie with you."