In Her Majesty's Secret Service
Summary: This is a story from Joseph's POV regarding a special service he provided to his Queen.
Rating: MA Adult material. If you are underage, you should go read another story.
Disclaimer: The owners of these characters would NEVER allow them the fun that I do, and I do it all for FREE!!
Hugs and thanks to my beta, revsue
Chapter 12: Duty and Responsibility
The next week was a whirlwind of activity as Andrew and Mia tried to get to know each other under the very watchful and public eye of the citizens of Genovia. Elsie Kentworthy made sure that their every move was recorded and displayed each day on “Eggs with Elsie”.
Shades, along with Lionel, provided most of the security necessary for both the Princess and the Queen during the many public appearances that week. Joseph kept an ever watchful eye on the entire royal family and the staff while they were at the palace. He found, however, that keeping up with Mia and Nicholas when they were trying to be elusive proved more difficult than he had anticipated. Additionally, Clarisse had requested that he monitor security closely at the palace as they didn’t want any safety risks to Andrew or Amelia once the engagement was announced.
“One can never be too careful, Joseph.” she pointed out.
“Of course not, your Majesty,” Joseph replied as he watched her complete her paperwork for the day. He noticed her countenance was a bit happier today perhaps a bit of relief that the engagement would be announced tomorrow. After that information was made public, the unrest over the future of the monarchy for both the Royal family and the citizens of Genovia would be somewhat quieted.
Joseph caught Charlotte’s eye and silently asked her to give them a few moments. The younger woman nodded her head slightly before speaking. “I have some details that I need to review with the Princess and Andrew, your Majesty. Would you please excuse me for a few moments?” Charlotte asked.
Clarisse looked up from her paperwork as she removed her glasses, the strain in her eyes a little more evident when not shaded by the slight tint the glasses provided. “Of course, Charlotte. Would you be so kind as to have some tea brought in when you return?”
Charlotte bowed slightly. “Certainly, your Majesty. Do you require anything else?”
Clarisse fought the urge to rub the bridge of her nose to ease the strain of the past week or so and the stress of the weeks to come. “No. Thank you, Charlotte.”
Charlotte left the room, but not before casting a ‘please do something to help’ glance in Joseph’s direction. Once they were alone, Joseph moved behind Clarisse’s chair and began to gently massage her temples. He smiled slightly as she let her head fall back against the chair, her eyes closed as a small, “Mmm” escaped her lips.
He spoke in low, husky tones. “You have been working far too hard, your Majesty.” He let his fingers trail softly down her cheeks to her shoulders where he began to massage the taut muscles.
‘Oh Joseph…that feels so nice.” Her eyes remained closed as she continued, “I’m afraid, though, that working hard on this is my responsibility…I must ensure that everything goes according to plan.”
“It is a responsibility you need not bear alone,” he quietly offered.
He felt her tense at his words. She stood and turned to look at him. “Thank you, that was very nice.”
“It is my duty, Joseph. I cannot let the people of Genovia down. If that means a little stress and tense muscles, then so be it.”
Joseph sighed audibly…there it was again…his competition…her ever-present sense of duty. He started to argue with her, but saw the tired look on her face and decided she didn’t need one more thing to deal with on that particular day. “Come here.”
She looked at him curiously as she had expected an argument; but hesitated only a moment before deciding to follow his request and took the two steps necessary to be in his arms. She felt the welcoming comfort and strength of his embrace. For just a moment she wasn’t the ruler of a country with the responsibility of thousands resting on her shoulders. She was simply a woman in need of comfort.
He held her close, slowly stroking her back as he placed chaste kisses on her forehead and temple. When he sensed she had relaxed some, he whispered, “Whatever will we do to pass the time when I am no longer the head of Security and you no longer have to shoulder the hopes and expectations of thousands when you have only duty to yourself to consider?”
He waited, continuing to hold her to see if the Queen or Clarisse would answer his question. Finally, she raised her head and smilingly offered, “When the time is right, I’m sure we’ll be able to figure it out.”
He kissed her gently on the cheek before he stepped away as he answered, “That time will be here before you know it, my dear. You might want to give it some thought…”
When Charlotte arrived a moment later with the tea, both were back in their starting locations conducting business as usual. Charlotte served the tea and then looked over at Joseph. She received a wink and slight smile in response to her questioning gaze. Realizing Joseph had done what he could for the moment; she nodded her thanks and returned to the ever increasing list of things that needed to be accomplished in the next few weeks…
The next evening had brought a restless sleep, filled with less than pleasant dreams for Joseph. The day had gone fairly well. The announcement of the Royal Wedding had gone off with only a slight hitch when Mia knocked the pot of flowers off of the ledge. She had, however, caught them; and Andrew, being the gentleman that he was, had picked up his flowers as well and held them up as Mia did in order to save her the embarrassment. Joseph had thought it a rather sweet gesture and that, perhaps, Andrew would make a perfect husband for her…arranged marriage or not.
So when he woke up in the middle of the night from a terrible dream…no, a nightmare, no one was more surprised than he. He found it odd; but realized that he couldn’t remember the details of the dream. He made his way, through the darkness, into the bathroom to splash some water on his face. Only a small nightlight illuminated the room, casting a rather eerie orange glow in the small space. He caught a glimpse of his face in the mirror…his age made very apparent in the reflection cast by the harsh light. The visual cue caused the memories of the nightmare to flood into the forefront of his mind.
He had seen himself and Clarisse, both well in their eighties…still clinging to some self-imposed sense of duty…still waiting for the right time to openly declare their love for each other. He knew that she would continue to hold on to that duty…it had been her lover and companion for far longer than Joseph had been. He had to find a way to convince her to consider the duty she had to herself…to have her make a choice…It was risky; he knew that; but taking that risk seemed more bearable than facing a life wondering what could have been.
What was stopping them? Mia had found a husband. In less than two weeks, she would be married and a week later be crowned the new Queen of Genovia. There was no reason for Clarisse to stall any longer. Yes! He had made up his mind…within the next forty-eight hours…he would ask Clarisse Renaldi, the Queen of Genovia to be his wife!
He went back to bed with a renewed sense of purpose and began to plot how he could arrange some alone time with Clarisse.
The next day certainly did not provide the right timing for arranging the alone time. Ms. Kout had cornered him shortly after returning from escorting Andrew to the airport for his return trip home.
He fought to contain a sigh of frustration as she recounted the somewhat compromising position in which she had inadvertently found the Princess and Lord Deveraux. He knew this did not bode well for his plans for the future. If something went wrong with the upcoming marriage of the Princess, any chance of Clarisse agreeing to bring their love out into the open would recede into the realm of the impossible.
He was brought from his rather dismal thoughts by Ms. Kout’s question, “Would you like to inform Her Majesty or shall I?”
“No thank you, Ms. Kout, I’ll inform the Queen; and Ms. Kout?” Joseph’s voice took on a warning tone.
“No one else is to know about this. We don’t want the press gaining knowledge of this.”
“Of course, Joseph.” The woman seemed hurt that he would even imply that she would be less than discreet, but he took little notice as the thought of the damage that could come to the Royal Family far outweighed any other considerations.
It was not his intention; however, to wound her dignity, so he touched her shoulder as he offered, “I have no doubts of your loyalty, Ms. Kout. Sometimes things are said out of habit and necessity rather than warning.” He offered her a warm smile to ensure she knew that he realized she could be trusted with this delicate information.
She nodded her head in acknowledgement and then left him alone in the security office contemplating the best way to tell Clarisse with minimal destruction to his agenda.
The next day provided the perfect opportunity, he thought, to accomplish both of his objectives. He spoke with James, the head gardener, and asked that the Queen be given some privacy during her afternoon walk as he had some highly classified information that he needed to share with her. James had assured him that when Joseph and Her Majesty approached, he would ensure the area was cleared to allow him the privacy requested.
“I’m told this Lord Deveraux is a native born Genovian…recently graduated Cambridge, gourmet cook, plays polo and rugby, and is known as quite a ladies’ man.”
“She was in a closet?” Clarisse couldn’t believe her ears.
Joseph hated this…but knew the Queen had to be told. “With him. Yes.”
Clarisse sighed. “Does she have the makings of a Queen?”
Joseph saw an opportunity to help both Mia and himself out, “Well, she’s young, but I’ve always believed in her!”
“The wedding invitations have been sent out. She and Andrew make a fine pair, I think. She’s very set on it, you know.”
Joseph saw the grounds men clear out…he knew he had a limited amount of time to ask her what he had been waiting to ask for so many years, “Clarisse, my dear. Forget the wedding for a moment.” He cleared his throat, feeling more anxious in her presence than he had felt in years. He was standing so close to her and wanted to take her hands into his as he said the next few sentences to her…but duty and responsibility and the chance that someone might see them…kept his hands clasped tightly in front of his body. “In less than a month, you will no longer be Queen, and I will no longer be your head of security.”
She was nodding her head in agreement at his statements; he silently hoped she would continue in that manner. “I think it’s time we bring our friendship out of the shadows.”
A look of…he wasn’t sure what…surprise, disbelief…crossed her face…she actually stammered a response, “Oh, Joseph, I…”
“Yes? Yes, my dear. I would kneel if it weren’t for my knee replacement.”
She smiled slightly at his statement, but her head had already started the slight shaking motion that indicated a less than positive response. He did take her hand…hoping that she would feel his love in a very physical way…the most that he could give her at that moment anyway. Her smile gave him hope…all was not lost; however, her words did not match her smile.
“Joseph, there’s a wedding to be planned. Mia needs to win over the people of Genovia, all in less than thirty days.”
He wasn’t going down without a fight…he pulled out a card he hoped would remind her of what they shared…what she needed, “Perhaps it’s time to consider the duty you have to yourself.”
She pulled her hand away…her face a mixture of sadness and resignation…as though that was the ONE thing she could not do. “Oh…”
“Clarisse…my darling, please think about it. Please?” It was all he could ask…he knew forcing her to make a decision now would not bode well for their relationship.
He closed his eyes, focusing only on her touch as cupped his cheek…and held it; no, more aptly…held his heart…in her hand as she softly replied, “I will.”
Joseph and Clarisse walked back to the palace in silence, both lost in their thoughts over what had transpired in the last fifteen minutes or so.
“He has just asked me to marry him…he made it sound as though it were the easiest and most natural thing in the world…to reveal to everyone in Genovia that I am in love with him AND open my reputation…a reputation I have spent a lifetime protecting, to potential scrutiny. Of course, I HAVE been having a secret affair with my Head of Security for over five years now…oh the press would have a field day with that…BUT I am a woman…a woman who is very much in love…with a man…who just happens to be in my employ…I wish I could have been more enthusiastic as he spoke the words that I’ve longed to hear my entire life from someone who truly loves me; but the nagging insistence of my constant companions, duty and responsibility, ensured that the best I could muster was a gentle touch and the promise that I would think about the things he had said.”
Clarisse fought the urge to shake her head in dismay over how poorly she had just handled what should have been the most romantic and special moment in her entire life. Her first marriage had been arranged…romance was not even considered as a necessity. “Of course, the proposal HAD been tendered on the heels of the disturbing news regarding Mia and Nicholas…that information was highly troubling and following it with an offer of marriage was…well…NOT the way things were to be done. I may not know much about romance and marriage proposals…but I do know that the one I have just received was seriously lacking in both departments…”
Her stance became more positive as she justified the merits of her responses; but a still small voice whispered quietly, “And how exactly was he supposed to give you a proper proposal? You’ve insisted he love you in secret…your time together is rarely private; but he managed that today, didn’t he? It was just the two of you in the midst of your favourite gardens…in a gazebo surrounded by your roses and the beauty of nature…perhaps it was as romantic as your situation would allow…don’t judge him too harshly…it’s rarely that simple…”
Her posture slumped slightly as she realized the truth of the wisdom she had just imparted to herself. She stole a quick glance in Joseph’s direction and noted that his countenance was far from positive as well…
“Well that certainly didn’t go well, did it? What on earth possessed you to ask her to marry you not even five minutes after sharing information that threatened the one thing she held most dear…the monarchy of Genovia…the Renaldi rule…It was a serious error in judgment…NO, old man…it was just plain stupid…”
Joseph fought the urge to shake his head in dismay over how poorly he had just handled what should have been the most romantic and special moment in his entire life. “There should have been dinner and candles…an intimate dinner for just the two of them…champagne and strawberries…and a ring…what kind of man asked the love of his life to spend eternity with him without a ring?? ... The kind of man who was in love with a woman who insisted that every interaction outside of their professional dealings be kept entirely secret…and that their professional dealings be completely above reproach as she had a reputation to protect…and apparently, if a relationship with him were known, would cause serious damage to said reputation..”
He held his head a little higher as he justified the merits of his actions; but a still small voice whispered quietly, “And how else could she react? You share with her news that invokes her heightened sense of duty and responsibility…not to herself…but to the monarchy and the people of Genovia. She’s carried that burden so long…she doesn’t know any other way. She’s given so much of herself over the past five years. You know she loves you more than any other individual person…she’s told you as much over and over again. Your impatience forced her into a corner…don’t judge her too harshly…when you love a woman who happens to be Queen…it’s rarely that simple…”
His posture slumped slightly as he realized the truth of the wisdom he had just imparted to himself. He didn’t dare glance her way as he felt her gaze, at that moment, turn quickly his way. He could only hope that the misery on his face conveyed his sincere apologies over how he handled this whole encounter and that she would, true to her word, think about what he had asked.
If Joseph had thought that Ms. Kout finding Mia and Nicholas in the closet together was the biggest threat to her impending marriage to Andrew and her assuming the throne of Genovia, he couldn’t have been more wrong…
The next few days were filled with one disaster after another that increasingly threatened the goal of the Princess marrying and assuming the throne in the next couple of weeks. First, her eye-hand coordination, or lack thereof, was causing a great deal of distress over the tradition of the flaming arrow lighting her eternal flame. The next day was worse with the now infamous ‘chicken situation in the throne room’ fiasco. All of those events leading to the disastrous review of the royal guard. What a nightmare that day had been…after Mia had ridden off, humiliated; the Queen had said the required goodbyes before retreating to the shelter of her private garden.
Joseph had watched from a respectable distance…unsure if she preferred solitude at that moment or not, he waited for a cue from her. His heart hurt as he watched her shoulders uncharacteristically slump as she allowed the emotions from the setbacks of the past three days to overtake her for a brief period of time. Proper or not, his love for her dictated that he close the distance between them so he could offer her support.
She felt his arms slip around her waist as his solid chest came into contact with her back. She chided herself that this was quickly becoming a habit; but her emotional need outweighed her sensibilities at the moment and she allowed herself to lean back into his embrace. Suddenly it seemed as though it had been a lifetime since she had been in his arms, rather than a mere thirteen days. They had not even allowed themselves but the briefest of touches when he had asked her to spend the rest of her life with him only three days ago. She cursed the human side of her that craved the reassurance she found in his touch.
She knew things were not going well…today was just another nail in the coffin of her future. Sooner or later, she would have to admit to herself that there was very little chance that Amelia would be ready to assume the throne in a couple of weeks. After the success of finding Andrew and securing an arrangement for them to be married, things had gone from bad to worse. She would soon have to turn her full focus on convincing Parliament that, even if Mia married as they had dictated, she would need some more time before she would be ready to assume the throne.
Feeling the heat and love radiating from the man standing behind her, she gave herself the luxury of deciding that later would be preferable to sooner. Knowing they were alone…at least for the moment, she turned in his embrace; her slightly tear-stained face finding solace in the depths of his loving eyes. “Joseph take me away…just for a few moments…from this downward spiral I find myself in…before I have to find the courage to rise above it once again.”
His thumbs gently brushed the tears away; she closed her eyes and focused on the sound of his deep, soothing voice as he began to speak. “Imagine we’re in our secret place…tucked away in the mystical clearing in the middle of the forest that belongs to only us. Night is upon us and we are gazing at the beauty of the stars in the night sky; the full moon casting a heavenly glow over our bare bodies.”
She felt a pleasant chill run up her spine as he spun the fantasy meant only for her. She pulled him further into her embrace and whispered, “Don’t stop…”
His hands slipped lower, to the small of her back, holding her close to draw from his strength and love, “You are so very beautiful, bathed in moonlight, I spend several minutes just looking at you and gently caressing your soft, yet very provocative body. Your eyes are angelic as they reflect the moonlight and the thousands of stars that have joined us that night to provide just the right ambience for us to make love. Finally, I can wait no longer and my lips seek to retrace the path that my fingers followed earlier. I move with maddening slowness, savouring the taste of each inch of your beautiful flesh.”
He felt her nipples harden through her blouse as her body reacted to the images he was evoking in her mind. The last couple of weeks had been hard on their relationship, both emotional and physical. They were both wise enough to realize that it was probably going to get worse before it got better.
He pulled back slightly so he could see her face. The unguarded and heightened desire he witnessed caused his breath to catch in his throat; they were no longer at the Palace in the gardens…his tale had transported them both to a place many miles away. His hands moved to frame her face as he lowered his head to capture her willing lips in a kiss. Conversely, hers moved lower to cup his bottom and pull him as close as possible to receive physical affirmation that he was as affected by this encounter as she was. When she felt his hardness strain against her to find the softness that it now considered home, a moan broke free from her depths as the longing she felt in that moment in time seemed too intense and large to be contained in her seemingly small body.
A hoarse whisper tore from Joseph’s mouth in response, “Oh God, Clarisse…what you do to me…”
Their mouths clashed in a hungry need as their tongues engaged in a dance that moved from one mouth to the other…a blatant mimicry of an act that time, duty and responsibility would not allow the rest of their bodies to partake of on this unforgiving afternoon.
Breathless, they finally broke apart; the sparks of unrequited passion still hanging heavily in the air. Joseph finally found his voice and teased, “Well, I certainly hope that provided an adequate distraction for her Majesty…If anything further is needed, I fear we will require a room or at least a bed.”
The strain of the past few days momentarily forgotten, Clarisse laughed…a beautiful, rich, and full laughter that did its duty in releasing endorphins that helped to alleviate the strain and stress of the past few days. Her hand found his cheek as her smile brightened both of their countenances. “Thank you, Joseph. You always know exactly what I need.”
He bowed slightly. “Glad to be of service.” He paused, not wanting this moment to end but knowing that duty called, “and, as much as I hate to…”
“I know…duty calls.” she added; a sad smile present on her face.
They walked, side by side, towards the stables where Mia was hiding from the press. As they passed by one of the smaller stables, Joseph caught sight of something out of the corner of his eye that made him stop causing Clarisse to stop as well. “Joseph?” she started to ask, but was quickly silenced by Joseph placing his finger over his mouth in a gesture to indicate she should be quiet.
She watched as pressed his earpiece and spoke quietly into the air to summons Shades to his location. Within moments, Shade was standing behind her as Joseph quietly opened the door a little further to allow him access to the space inside. Clarisse could only see shadows and hear Joseph’s voice in a low, threatening tone the other voice was very meek and quiet in response to the statements being made towards him. A few moments later, the young lad…she believed his name was Squire Tom, was escorted not so gently out of the stable at Joseph’s insistence.
“Shades, please escort this young man to the Security Office and process his termination papers then escort him off of the grounds. Do NOT let him return.” Joseph instructed.
“Yes, sir.” Shades replied as he took Tom by the arm and led him toward the Palace.
They continued walking toward the main stable again. “Would you care to explain that?” Clarisse asked.
“Just a security matter, my dear; do you really want all of the sordid details?” Joseph asked sincerely.
She thought about it for a moment, then sighed. “No…no, I know you’ll take care of it and that, truth be told, I probably don’t want to know about it! You deal with whatever that was and I’ll take care of Amelia.”
He smiled as his hand pulled her close for a moment as he offered, “See what a great team we make?”
She smiled in response and threaded her arm through his as they finished the walk the rest of the way in companionable silence.
It broke his heart to see Mia crying. As difficult as his personal life had been; he knew the past few weeks had been incredibly hard on the young Princess. He was incredibly found of Mia and took it personally when someone, especially Viscount Mabry, created situations that not only hurt her, but made her doubt her self-worth. He would not stand by while that happened…not on his watch.
“Princess, excuse me. The Queen has arrived.” He wanted to pull her into his arms and let her cry; he felt as protective of her as he did her Grandmother. He knew Clarisse would take care of Mia, though, as he had a pressing matter to which he must attend. He knew the Viscount would arrive shortly. He dealt with Nicholas…not too harshly, though, as he suspected the boy was being manipulated by his Uncle.
When he finally had the Viscount alone, he gave him his most menacing glare and advised, “Viscount. You may not be aware of what my job entails as the royal head of security. My job is to protect the crown, to make sure no harm comes to the crown. To step in when someone toys with the crown’s emotions, you see.”
He wanted to smack the smug look off of the Viscount’s face when he spoke. “I think the entire country understands how well you cater for the crown’s emotions.”
Joseph showed restraint, however, and continued with the glare and added a threat…no, a promise, “If you hurt my girl, you will answer directly to me. And whatever crimes I commit against you, remember, I have diplomatic immunity in forty-six countries, including Puerto Rico!”
Joseph’s words had impact, but the Viscount made one last attempt to regain dominance in the conversation. “Sir, you will find that the word “fear” is not in my vocabulary.”
“Perhaps. But it’s in your eyes.” With that final statement, Joseph tossed the rubber snake he had recovered from the now terminated stable lad. “You forgot something…” He left the Viscount to consider exactly how far he was willing to go on his threat.
They had approximately twenty-four hours of peace while the Garden Party was being planned. Everything was going off just as planned…Charlotte had worked with Mia tirelessly to prepare her for all of the “major mingling” she was going to need to do to win over the people of Genovia.
Once again their futures took another serious detour when Mia left the party soaked to the skin after taking an unscheduled dip in the fountain with Nicholas. While Clarisse was furious, she waited until later that evening to unleash her fury. She started with Joseph before moving on later that night to Amelia.
“Joseph, I asked you to keep an eye on Mia and Nicholas. Yet first they are found in a closet together and now in a fountain. How can I expect you and your staff to protect the Royal Family when you can’t even keep an eye on Mia and Nicholas?”
He knew she was angry; but his anger boiled as well. They were security officers…NOT babysitters…how dare she compare the two! He fought to control his temper and kept his voice level as he responded, “With all due respect, Your Majesty, I believe those two responsibilities are mutually exclusive. Protecting you and your family and…permission to speak freely?” He wanted to point out that keeping two hormone driven young adults apart was another matter entirely.
She turned around quickly, meeting his gaze. “Permission denied!”
He couldn’t believe it…he saw it in her eyes she blamed him, well…his security team, as he had been out checking the parade route for tomorrow to make sure everything was in place to secure their safety tomorrow. He knew her well enough to know that whatever he had to say at this moment was irrelevant; she needed time to get her emotions under control. He would not, however, apologize for his team not babysitting…despite what she may believe, that was NOT their job. He held her gaze as he stood a little more erect and simply responded, “As you wish, Your Majesty.”
He caught a glimpse of something in her blue depths before she turned away and simply said, “You may go.”
The tension in the Palace the next few hours was unbearable. Joseph made Lionel stand guard outside the Queen’s suite and put Shades on Amelia. “I trust that you two will keep the Princess away from Nicholas?”
Both men were abashed, they had heard about the wrath of the Queen being unleashed on Joseph. “Yes sir. Sorry about today, sir.”
Joseph sighed. “Everyone is alive and no one was hurt or injured…you did your jobs; no need to apologize.”
Clarisse spent the evening in her suite trying to determine the best way to handle the discussion she needed to have with Mia. If she didn’t do something to salvage all of this, she could kiss any future with Joseph good-bye. She would never be able to shed her duty and responsibility to Genovia to pursue a life with the only man she ever loved. Responsible…that’s what Mia needed to be; it was high time she understood that being Queen was not all fun, games and garden parties.
“When are you going to start acting responsibly?” Probably not the best way to open her conversation with Mia, but it was the best Clarisse could do under the circumstances. “Hiding in a closet with a man who is not your betrothed? Coming out of a fountain dripping wet with the same man, who is not your betrothed?”
Usually Mia would be very distressed that her Grandmother was this angry; however, she noted that her Grandma seemed irrationally upset…as if this was about more than just her latest round of screw-ups. She tried to placate her, though, because it was never good to have your Grandmother AND your Queen upset with you. “Do you think I plan for this kind of stuff to happen? I lost it…sometimes you just lose it.”
Clarisse’s irritation level went up another notch. For her entire life, she had behaved appropriately and always guarded her emotions and her behaviour and from that Mia had somehow gotten the impression that it was alright to be anything less than perfect. “You can’t afford to lose it. Other people lose it; we’re supposed to find it! People look up to us, and we’re held to higher standards of behaviour. Can you try to grasp that concept?” She poured herself some tea…she needed something to calm her frayed nerves; and something told her that Joseph would be less than willing to come to her aid tonight.
Mia couldn’t believe what she was hearing! “The concept is grasped. The execution is a…little elusive.”
Clarisse couldn’t help but laugh at how obvious Mia’s statement was. “I should say so.” The anger adrenaline was gone now…she was tired. She tried to mend things a bit with Mia. “Try to get some sleep…you’ll want to look fresh for the parade tomorrow.”
Mia did not take the olive branch she had extended; instead she crawled over the furniture shooting her Grandmother an ‘I dare you to yell at me for that’ look and made her way to the door.
“Good night!” Clarisse exclaimed.
Mia took a deep breath and said evenly, “Good night, Grandmother.” Her calm exterior lasted until she exited the doors when a stream of expletive related words erupted in a loud manner.
Clarisse sighed…in one day she had alienated and angered the two people closest to her. She walked over to stand in front of the dog bed. “Well, Maurice, it’s just you and I…or are you upset with me too?”
Maurice barked and ran into the other room. “I guess I am alone then…” she offered to no one in particular. Sleep did not come that night until she finally gave in and retrieved Joseph’s t-shirt from her nightstand drawer. She inhaled his scent and thought of the special memories they had shared over the past several years…her tears falling silently until sleep finally claimed her.
Clarisse left the bridal shower feeling as though she truly were flying. It had been a lovely evening, sharing in the fun with the young girls. Things certainly seemed to have improved since the fiasco two days ago. The only thing missing tonight to make the picture complete was Joseph. She had given him the night off things had been a little tense between them since the Garden Party incident as it was now referred to by the staff. As she walked to her suite, a plan started to formulate in her mind…a way to hopefully make amends with him. She knew that part of the tension came from the fact that she still hadn’t given him her answer with regards to the marriage proposal…she knew why she was putting it off…he wasn’t going to like the answer. It was yes...but included a ‘but not just yet…’ clause in it. She knew he deserved better than that…but duty and responsibility kept her from giving herself wholly to him.
After getting settled in, she excused her ladies’ maids, advising that she would ring them when she was ready in the morning and that she didn’t want to be disturbed before then. When she was finally alone, she carefully removed “The Sound of Music” from the shelf to activate the door to the secret tunnel that connected her room with Joseph’s.
She moved quickly as she didn’t know how much time she would have until Joseph’s return. She knew he hadn’t been in the palace at the time she had arrived in her suite…she just hoped she had time to make all the necessary preparations for his surprise.
A short time later, she surveyed the room feeling very proud of the atmosphere she had created. She hoped Joseph would enjoy it as well. There was one final preparation to be made before he arrived. She stood quietly in front of the mirror, surveying her reflection. She slowly lowered the blue slacks that she had been wearing earlier that evening. Her arms crossed to grab the hem of her shirt and slowly raise it until she was left standing only in her undergarments. The black lace seemed a stark contrast to her pale skin. The effect was softened somewhat, though, in the ambient glow radiating from the flickering candlelight placed carefully throughout the room.
She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly; taking in the scent of the roses that now filled the room, providing, she felt, the best kind of aromatherapy. She could almost feel any remaining tension leave her body as she continued to draw in the fragrance, slowly being replaced by a different kind of tension one that only Joseph could release.
Joseph. Just his name brought a small smile to her face. She loved him deeply feeling it all the way to her very core. She reflected on the words he had spoken to her a couple of weeks ago when he, very affectionately, had shared many of the things he loved about her. Tonight was about thanking him for his tender sentiments and loving attention. She took another deep breath as she admitted that it was more than that…if she were honest with herself, she would admit that it was about securing a future with him. One that would take place just a little further in the future than his plans currently predicted. Even with things improving with Mia, there was still too much that required her attention before her Granddaughter would be ready to rule on her own.
Tonight would be a gift that she would give to him she would offer everything she had…except the one thing he wants most…in hopes that he would understand that she wanted nothing more than to spend the rest of her life as his wife. She just couldn’t do it right now…her duty and responsibility held her captive to a life that she had been unable to find a way to escape.
She subconsciously shook the negative thoughts from her mind and refocused on the task at hand. She walked to his closet and pulled out one of his black, button-up shirts. Her face brightened and she felt a slight tingling sensation as his scent enveloped her. She pulled the shirt on and slowly fastened the middle three buttons or so…just enough to cover and provide her with something to unfasten at just the right moment. Her hair was slightly mussed and she fought the urge to tidy it, remembering Joseph’s comments about how it was only unkempt when they were making love…and she fully intended to make love to Joseph tonight.
She arranged the pillows on the bed; and, spying the half full decanter on the cart in the corner, grabbed two glasses and moved the container holding the amber liquid to the bedside table. She took a sip of the fiery liquid and instantly felt warmed. She seemed to recall someone; somewhere referred to alcohol as ‘liquid courage’…she took another sip knowing she would definitely need some of that tonight.
She positioned herself on the bed and waited…
It was close to midnight when Joseph finally arrived back at the Palace. He stopped by the security office to make sure all had gone smoothly for the Princess’ party, although he already knew that his staff would have everything well in hand and would have alerted him if any trouble had arisen.
Shades was on duty and smiled at Joseph when he walked in. “Hey Joe! How was your evening off?”
“Uneventful…I’m sure not as invigorating as yours watching a gaggle of young women scream and laugh.”
“Young and young at heart is more like it.” Shades offered.
“What do you mean?” Joseph asked, curious as to why Shades would phrase his information in that manner.
Now Shades was an observant young man…if he hadn’t been, he would not be the next in line for the Head of Security position, so he had noticed the growing relationship between Joseph and the Queen. “You should have seen her tonight, Joe. It was no she was - wonderful. I haven’t seen her that…free…in a long time.”
“Shades, it’s been a long day and even longer week…enough with the riddles, just tell me.” Joseph chastised him slightly…although he knew exactly at least who the ‘her’ was to which Shades referred.
Shades chuckled; he loved messing with Joseph and the opportunities to do so were limited. “Her Majesty, Queen Clarisse, was mattress surfing! And, if that weren’t enough, she even sang a song for Mia and the girls and danced a bit as she sang on the stage with Princess Asana.”
Joseph was stunned. He knew Clarisse had an, shall we say…uninhibited side; but he thought he had been one of the few that had been privy to that side of her. He felt a pang of regret that he had not been able to witness this rare event, when she would let down her guard a bit in public. He bit back a sigh as he responded, “I’m sure it was something to see, Shades. Thanks for letting me know what I missed!”
As soon as Joseph entered the room, he sensed something was different. Her scent filled his room, although he was uncertain how that was possible. He knew he had been missing spending private time with her and that things had been strained, especially the last few days. He feared, with each passing day, that her silence in response to his proposal for marriage did not bode well for a positive response. He had promised, though, to not lose hope…so, until he heard her say no…he would hold on to the promise of tomorrow.
He stepped into the semi-darkness of his room and immediately his eyes were drawn to the vision in black sleeping peacefully on “her” side of the bed. His features softened considerably as his love for this woman fully surfaced as he gazed on her form. He surveyed the room, noting the candles and the roses…that explained the pleasant aroma that had greeted him when he had entered. He quickly stripped down to his boxers and crawled on to the bed next to her.
He wasn’t sure how long he just laid there and watched her sleep…it seemed like an eternity; however, it was probably only a matter of minutes. Her long legs were tucked at the ankles; the tail of his shirt barely covering her…he could see a wisp of black lace partially concealed under the material. He lightly ran his hand along the soft flesh, stopping just as he reached the hem of the shirt.
She shifted slightly, but did not wake up. Her movements caused the top of the shirt to move, allowing him a glimpse of another swatch of black material…barely containing their precious mounds of flesh. His eyes followed the swell of her breasts up to her neckline to the delicate line of her jaw. He couldn’t resist the temptation to cup her cheek, his thumb grazing her lips. His actions caused her to adjust again, her eyes fluttering slightly as she began to rouse from sleep.
She felt warm, soft lips melding with hers as familiar hands smoothed down her body. Her body didn’t need to be fully awake to react...it instinctually knew whose touch was upon her and what it needed to do in response. She arched into his touch, her mouth opening to receive the fullness of his kiss. It was a game of give and take, where they sought to share the joy of pleasing each other.
Clarisse, now fully awake, broke the kiss. “You’re late,” she teased.
He kissed her forehead. “I had the night off and didn’t know I had an appointment. However, seeing you here in my room, dressed only in my shirt, I regret that I did not make it home earlier.”
She moved to a sitting position, forcing him back a bit. “Well, I’m afraid you’ve missed the wild night of lovemaking I had planned for you; however, you’re still in time for a bedtime story.” she smiled.
Catching the glint of mischief, mixed with desire in her eyes, Joseph quickly caught on to her meaning. “I shall listen most attentively, my love.” He moved over to the side of the bed and reclined on his side.
Clarisse took a deep breath, licked her lips, locked her eyes on his and quietly began, “It was a hot, summer night and our heroine was very…very…very steamed.” Each ‘very’ was accented by a button being slowly undone.
Joseph swallowed hard as more of her creamy skin came into view as the shirt fell away from her body. He fought the urge to reach out and touch her. He heard her voice begin again.
“The air conditioning in her room was not functioning properly. A fan had been brought in to help alleviate the stifling heat; however, she opted for a cool shower first.” As she spoke the words, she reclined onto some pillows and slowly lowered the black lace that had been providing coverage to her lower half. “When our heroine exited from the bathroom, clad only in a towel, the breeze was very refreshing; and, in a moment of weakness, she allowed herself the luxury of dropping her towel and feeling the cool air caress her body. Her lover, you see, had been gone for several weeks and she was missing his touch…so before long, her body responded to the stimuli and demanded attention. So she began to touch herself in the same manner she knew her lover would.”
Clarisse closed her eyes and slowly touched her own face, letting the fingertips create feather-light trails starting at her forehead and moving downward until her lips parted slightly at her own touch. She drew one of the tips into her mouth and sucked gently, arching her body slightly at the same time. She gently caressed her mouth with the same fingertip before letting it move down her jaw line and over her throat until it came to rest at the top of the swell of her breasts.
Joseph was mesmerized…he didn’t think anything, not even a National emergency, could pull him away from her at this moment in time. He worked to keep his breathing steady and even as his excitement grew.
Clarisse found that, with each touch, her nervousness diminished and she receded into a world where her only goal was to bring Joseph pleasure…and, right now, that meant successfully showing him how she pleased herself in his absence. Her hands began to trace small circles on the exposed part of her breasts, working their way down to the tips. As she took one tip and then the other, rolling the taut buds between her fingers, a small moan was heard in the room. Whether it emanated from her mouth or Joseph’s…neither was sure. She found her voice, “Our heroine paid close attention to detail, wanting the touch she gave herself to be as close to her lover’s as possible. The heat she had been experiencing all day had quickly been replaced with an internal fire that had to be sated.”
Having created a sufficient ache to distract her from the rest of her journey, she allowed her hands to move lower to lightly brush along the skin of her stomach. “As her hands moved lower, she thought about her lover and how he would rest his head here…” she lightly circled her abdomen, “after loving her with his mouth. These thoughts caused her body to grow even more aroused and she found her fingers moving lower…seeking to abate the burning desire quickly growing within her.”
Joseph wished he had poured himself some scotch before he took his position on the bed as he could definitely use a distraction…something to ease his burgeoning desire. He found no respite, however, as he watched Clarisse’s fingers slip into her damp curls. “Oh god…Clarisse…”
She didn’t even hear his words as she was deep into the tale she was weaving for his benefit. Her fingers began to stroke her heated flesh, making it difficult to speak. “She imagined…mmm…his skilful touch…yes…moving her closer to the edge…oh…” Her legs separated further as she increased her efforts. Her body was moving in counterpoint to her touch, responding as she wound the coil within her tighter and tighter with each movement of her hand. She gave up the pretence of trying to speak; one hand focusing on her upper body, the other lower.
When she dipped first one finger, then two into her well of moisture and then increased the friction and intensity of her caress, Joseph thought he might die of pure bliss. He was now on his knees, his body at full attention as he watched the love of his life lose herself to the pleasure of her own touch. Just when he thought neither of them could take any more…she stopped!
She removed her hand and rested it on her abdomen as she fought to control her breathing. Her chest was moving steadily up and down in an effort to draw in the required amount of oxygen. She spoke in quick, short statements, “Just as she was about to complete her efforts. She was interrupted - by her lover. His voice guided her and she began again…”
This time she bent her knees just as he had instructed her that night and imagined him kneeling between her legs. Her hands massaged her breasts and began to build the tension in her body once again. Soft moans began escaping her lips as spirals of pleasure began to descend on her skin, carefully making their way deep within her body to the point where the pressure would build until it had no choice but to escape by any means necessary.
Joseph watched, in stunned silence, as her hands made their way down to massage her inner thighs, seeking to release some of the tightness brought on by her earlier endeavours. After a few moments, she allowed her fingers to slip back to the core of her desire, “Oh god…oh yes…” was the faint whisper that escaped her lips. Joseph smiled to himself as he thought he couldn’t have said it any better. His hand was on his erection; but more in an effort to control his desire than to enhance it…he may have settled for that temporary relief on that hot, summer night; but tonight, he would find no release lest he be buried deep within the cradle of her love.
Because the fan was absent tonight, she decided to leave out the next stopping point and cried out, “and then…she finished it…finding release commanded by her lover’s voice…oh YES!” Her fingers alternated from delving into her wet heat to circling the sensitive bud. Her feet planted firmly on the bed allowed for a great deal of movement from her lower body…her head was thrown back in abandon as the coil finally snapped and her body shuddered as wave after wave of pleasure crashed over her.
There was a palpable sexual tension in the room as she slowly floated back down; Joseph found that he couldn’t take his eyes off of her. He was warring with himself trying to decide whether to prolong the pleasure or cover her body and claim what he so strongly desired. Before he could make his decision, her sultry voice cut through the silence. “Joseph, did you enjoy your bedtime story?”
He moved beside her, taking the hand that she had just used to pleasure herself, and pulled two fingers into his mouth to remove the remaining juices. Once he was confident they were clean, he slowly removed them and spoke. “In fact I did. However, I find that I am not sleepy…instead I find that my appetite has grown to an insatiable level.”
Her smile grew as he used the hand that he still held in his and pulled her to a sitting position. The candlelight flickered at that moment and he caught sight of a decoration she had placed on the bed that he had not noticed before. His hand moved behind her to caress the silky fabric. “You brought the scarf?”
Her face was only inches from his now. “Yes…to commemorate the first time we made love. It was highly memorable.”
His mouth claimed hers with a fiery passion, their love and desire being shared in a very physical way. He broke the kiss and spoke, his voice thick with desire. “Indeed it was…we’ve come so far and learned so much about each other. Tonight, we will celebrate our progress and remember the afternoon that brought us together.”
He helped her move to the center of the bed, adjusting a few pillows to make her comfortable in a semi-reclining position. He grabbed the scarf on both sides of the post it was draped around, and let the silky material slip slowly through his hands, “Are you up for a challenge?” he asked softly.
She gave him a sly smile, “I believe, after what I accomplished a few minutes ago, I should be able to conquer any challenge you toss my way, sir.”
He chuckled and kissed her fully on the forehead, “I do so love everything about you, my dear. I love your sense of humour, your quick wit, your sense of adventure, every inch of your luscious body…” he stopped himself before getting too distracted. He took one of her hands and kissed it gently on the back then lifted it slightly over her head. He took one side of the scarf and placed it in the palm of her hand. He repeated the action with the other side. “Your challenge is to not let go.”
She smiled, “I think I can handle that…”
“Don’t be certain. I intend to pleasure you until my name is the only word you can speak or, more accurately, shout…as you reach heights of ecstasy that only I can take you to. Also, please remember that, while your suite is NOT soundproof for security reasons, mine is…so I don’t intend to stop until I feel satisfied that you can think of nothing but me.”
The smile left her face, replaced by pure desire. Her voice was deep and sultry as she spoke, “Make me forget everything, Joseph…everything but you…”
His hands started at her hands, still clasping tightly to the scarf, and made their way down her body, barely touching the skin…separating at her hips to travel down their respective legs. Once at her toes, he made one final adjustment. He moved in between her legs and bent her knees, placing pillows under each one until her feet were no longer resting on the bed. He knew this would limit her movement and help focus her concentration on the same area that he would be focusing on…plus, he decided, it created quite the visual effect.
She, too, was apparently affected because her chest was rising and falling in the tell-tale heaving motion that lets your head know that the rest of your body’s in the mood to do something naughty. Her eyes were half-closed as she watched him move into position; his mouth descending to the heart of her throbbing desire.
His hands gently massaged her inner thighs as his tongue began to work its magic. Because she had already pleased herself, it didn’t take long before her heart rate increased sending blood racing to every tiny nerve ending in her body. Her breathing became shallow and she tried to find some way to move to help relieve the intensity of her growing desire. She found that presented quite a challenge…she had a limited range of motion with her hands as they were restricted to the length of the scarf; her legs were limited as they could only make small movements due to Joseph’s handiwork with the pillows. Her breasts ached to be touched and the throbbing between her legs was reaching a critical mass…
Clarisse fought to maintain some semblance of control…but Joseph was certainly not a novice in the art of lovemaking…and he knew her…better than anyone else. He had been her constant companion, protected her, befriended her; and, loved her…She let her love for him wash over her as the first crest of waves rolled over her like the ocean tide coming in for the night. A satisfied, “oh yes…” emerging from her lips.
Joseph gave her a moment to start the journey downward, then resumed his efforts…working the tiny bud into a frenzy. The outside world began to fade away…the shackles of duty and responsibility fell from her wrists and ankles and her spirit soared as a prisoner experiencing freedom for the first time.
Over and over again, he brought her to the brink and beyond. He was driven to please her…no…no, it was more than that…he was driven by a selfish desire to know that, for once in their lives, there was no one else on her mind or in her thoughts…but him! No clamouring masses of subjects, looking to her for guidance; no duty; no responsibility…only him only the one who loved her more than anything else in the entire world.
The world darkened momentarily as Clarisse thought she might pass out from sensory overload. She had wrapped the scarf around her hands at least two more times in an effort to give her upper body some leverage to control her lower body…but each time she made an adjustment, Joseph moved with her. She found it maddeningly frustrating and yet erotically pleasing all at the same time. She lost count of the number of times she had ‘lost it’ under his expert touch; but apparently her cries had not quelled Joseph’s need to completely possess every pore of her being as his assault on her had continued.
She was writhing on the bed, lost to everything but the feelings of immense pleasure when she felt his strong hands move to still her. He stopped for just a moment to make her calm somewhat and regain her focus. His hands held her legs as his fingers opened her for what he knew would be the last time this session…he kissed her inner thighs gently and marvelled at how he could feel her pulse racing through her veins…the room was quiet save the sound of the beating hearts and heaving lungs. He placed his mouth carefully over her and then began to hum…not just any song; but their soul song. It only took a few moments before she recognized it… the song closed the remaining gates to outside intrusion and sent Clarisse into a world that went from darkness to a brilliant flash of light as every cell in her body cried out the only other person that existed in her world, “JOSEPH!!!”
He waited patiently for her long trip down; it was the strangest sensation…he had yet to satisfy the physical needs that were crying out for relief, yet his soul felt completely content. He knew that, for that one moment in time, everything else had been forgotten…there was no one but him. Call that selfish, egotistical…whatever you like; but he called it heaven.
He had moved the pillows to allow her legs some rest and he had moved up so that his head was cushioned on the soft pillow of her abdomen while his hands gently stroked her neglected breasts. Never to back down from a challenge, her hands still held fast to the scarf…he would remember to praise her for that later.
Several minutes later, she spoke, “Joseph?”
“Might I release the scarf long enough to make love to the only other person in my world tonight?”
He smiled against her body before moving to a sitting position. “Indeed, you may.”
She removed her hands and he started to move over her, but a hand in the middle of his chest stopped him. He gave her a questioning look that was barely discernible in the remaining candlelight. She smiled and lifted her hand to ask for assistance in getting up. When she was face to face with him, she asked, “I believe that tonight was to commemorate, was it not?”
Without waiting for an answer, she turned so that her back was to him. She took the ends of the scarf in her hands and wrapped them around once again; her legs were parted and she leaned forward to brace herself against the head of the bed. Once settled, she turned her head and whispered, “Care to join me?”
Catching her double meaning and remembering that the first time they had joined, it had started similar to this, he moved in behind her. He positioned himself and entered her in one swift motion…her back arching to ensure that he was entirely cocooned within her warmth. He put his arms on either side of hers and grasped the scarf just above her hands, holding on partially to the scarf and partially to her closed hands. His mouth was next to her ear and he whispered, “I love you, Clarisse Renaldi; you are my everything…”
She had no chance to respond as he punctuated the end of his statement by beginning to move against her. Having been pleasured so thoroughly that evening, her body was very accommodating to his desire to completely possess her. The tempo of their bodies clashing together gave rhythm to their song, drowning out everything but their two souls.
A moment later, Joseph stopped. Clarisse couldn’t believe it; she gasped “Joseph, if this is your idea of some kind of joke…I do not find it funny.”
He chuckled as he remembered her uttering those exact words their first time together. He repeated…almost…his words from that afternoon as well, “I want to be able to look into those beautiful eyes when I give you your sweet release. There can be no other way.”
She turned around and lay back down, facing the headboard. Joseph kissed his way down her body and then moved to the spot where he had wanted to be since he found her asleep in his bed a little while ago. She lifted her legs and braced her feet on the headboard, the edges of the scarf now resting freely over her ankles. Joseph kissed each knee and then joined with her once again to bring the night to fruition.
Any pretense of further control diminished just as the candlelight had. Joseph grabbed Clarisse’s hands and held them above her head as his tempo increased to match their strong need for release. Within moments, their passion crested as the tidal wave washed over them…soothing the taut muscles and heightened nerves. They found that no words were necessary as their bodies rode the wave into shore…Joseph collapsed onto her welcoming body as her legs dropped to wrap loosely around him to continue to hold him close.
They rested in that manner, completely sated until physical discomfort demanded they shift positions. The shift was only minimal, though, as neither wanted any disruption in the peace they had discovered that night in each other’s arms. Tomorrow would bring the intrusion of real life…their duty and responsibility to others…back into their world. However, until dawn came and the first rays of light shone through the window…there was only Clarisse and Joseph…and the love they shared with each other.