| A DEBT OF HONOUR
by Julia Harringsford
This is a work of fiction. All characters are fictious.
Any resemblance to real people is coincidental.
Those offended by sexual imagery should not read this story.
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England – March 1814
"You bet what?"
My George looked out to the garden a moment, then
spoke without turning.
"I bet your virginity, my dear Amelia. It now belongs to the
Earl of Hardforge."
I gripped his shoulder and made him face me. "No! You
George still wouldn't meet my eyes. "He wants to take you out
to his estate as soon as possible. Tomorrow. He'll be by for you at
eleven. I suggest you pack."
I was stunned into silence.
"You'll stay with him for a week, then come home, only a little
worse for wear."
"No! I won't do it. I simply refuse."
"You can't, Amelia. It's a gambling debt. A debt of honour."
"But – my virginity?"
"It's not like any one else was going to take it," he said curtly.
"You've been on the shelf for years."
I winced. It was true that, at twenty-three, my marriage
prospects in London society were nearly at an end. I was the and of a duke, which kept those of lower rank than an earl at a
distinct distance. Others shunned marriage to a in such deep
debt. All the estate lands were mortgaged. George, convinced he
could turn things around, had wasted away my dowry at the gaming
hells. Truthfully, there were only a few months left between me and a
position as a lady's companion, a servant.
I forced my attention back to the situation at hand. "I can't
believe you've done this! How could you George!"
He reached out to awkwardly touch my arm. "Don't worry,
Amelia. It's only a week, and you'll have saved the honour."
"By sacrificing my own?"
"No one needs to know," George said desperately. "We can
tell them you went to visit Aunt Beryl. She's not going to refute it."
Aunt Beryl was commonly believed to be mad. She was
incoherent even on her best days. Indeed, she would be silent as the
grave. I shook my head. How could I be tempted to actually go along
with this terrible plan? To go through all that pain and humiliation,
for something as stupid as George's gambling?
"George...!" I appealed helplessly.
"I don't have a choice, Amelia," George looked away. "And
neither do you. According to Father's will, you are under my
guardianship until your marriage or your twenty-fifth birthday. Lord
Hardforge will be here at ten tomorrow morning. I advise you be
ready for him." With that, he left the room. I followed him to the
hall, but he proceeded directly though the front door. "I'll be at
White's," he threw over her shoulder as he disappeared.
Alone in the house, I allowed myself the luxury of a violent
tantrum that only ended when I smashed a favourite china cupid
against the fireplace. With a startled gasp, I desperate clutched at the
pieces. As I fruitlessly tried to fit the dozen or so pieces together, I
burst into tears, for I knew I would go along with George's plan. He
was right. There was a difference between petty bills to merchants
and a debt of honour between gentlemen.
And, I had to admit, the idea of lovemaking interested me. I
was twenty-three, an maid. I would never experience it in the
confines of marriage. Perhaps, just perhaps, this was an opportunity.
But I had heard it was painful. Very painful.
Leaving the ruined cupid on the floor of the room, I dragged
myself upstairs to my bedroom. I would lie down for a few hours, and
perhaps when I woke I would feel better.
My arms felt incredibly heavy as I pulled off my dress, shift
and stockings. Walking across the room to the bed, I caught sight of
my naked reflection in the full length mirror. I paused and looked
My body wasn't entirely unattractive, I decided after a
moment. My medium-sized rode high on my chest, even
without the aid of a corset. The brown-tipped nipples were puckering
in the cool air of the room. My fingers wandered up and gently
touched the hardened nubs. My waist, hips and bottom were just full
enough to look pleasantly rounded in the afternoon light. My slender
legs met in a tuft of brown hair. One hand snaked down toward the
coarse brown curls, but I stopped myself.
Crossing to the bed, I lay down without bothering to put on a
nightgown and fell asleep almost immediately.
He rubbed his greasy hands over my body, ignoring my
squirming. "Nice, nice," he hissed. "Now open up for me," he pried
a hand between my thighs and forced them apart. I thrashed my legs
and arms, trying to struggle, but his heavy stomach pinned me into the
mattress. I felt his shaft probing at my genitals as he drooled over my
"Please, Lord Hardforge. I'll give you anything you want, but
please let me go."
My body ripped in two as he plunged into me with a fierce
grunt. When my scream of pain had ended his lowered his mouth to
my ear and whispered, "I have what I want."
He used me harshly, driving into me painfully, grunting with
pleasure at my cries that he was hurting me. His hands wedged
between us and attached to my sensitive nipples like vices, pulling
them painfully. "Will you bleed, do you think?" he asked. "I collect
virgins, you know. And I think you're the tightest of all." He gave a
last, fierce grunt. I felt something warm up into my insides. He
pulled out of me, then chuckled evilly. Shaking, I looked down. His
erection and my thighs were covered with blood. It flowed out of me
like a river.
I awoke in a cold sweat. Gasping for breath, I let my hands
drift slowly over my body, somehow convinced the dream had
left marks on it. My nipples were taut barbs at the tips of my breasts.
A strange heat pulsated between my legs, at exactly the place I had
dreamt of his painful, pounding thrusts.
I turned onto my side, trying vainly to control the shaking that
raked through my body. Could I do this? Could I really do this?
I heard the carriage rattling over the drive, but I couldn't bring
myself to turn to look and kept my eyes fixed on the garden hedge in
the opposite direction. George was pacing behind me as I stared out
the window. Fear had fled, leaving only a feeling of numbness.
The door opened behind me. George greeted him, his voice
gruff and emotionless. Only when he cleared his throat and called,
"Amelia, may I present his lordship, Charles Fitzroy, Earl of
Hardforge," did I turn to face the room.
I barely managed to suppress a gasp of recognition. I knew
Lord Hardforge. I had seen the handsome, dark-haired at the
theatre, at Vauxhall Gardens, even once or twice at private balls,
though we had never been introduced. On nearly every occasion,
especially lately, his eyes often landed on me, his mouth twisting into
a strange smile. He had that same smile on his face now. He seemed
to be looking straight through my clothing.
He couldn't be more different from the in my nightmare.
Only an inch or two taller than myself, he was thin: athletic if not quite
muscular. His coat was immaculately cut for his broad shoulders. His
breeches clung to his sinewy legs as he crossed to me.
"A pleasure, Lady Amelia," he said suavely, holding out his
hand. I reluctantly put my own into it and allowed him to kiss my
fingers. His mouth rested against my skin for much longer than was
decorous. He turned my hand over in his and pressed another kiss
against my palm. A few stray whiskers, missed by his morning razor,
brushed the tender skin. I tensed, bracing myself against the
"I trust your will excuse me if I whisk you away
George's was visible, even from across the room. "Of
Lord Hardforge tucked my hand into the crook of his arm and
took up my small valise. I walked stiffly beside him as we crossed the
drawing room. At the doorway, I impulsively turned to look back at
my brother. His face held such guilt, I crossed to him and enclosed
him in a fierce hug.
"I'm so sorry, Amelia."
"It's alright, George." I kissed his cheek. "It's the only way."
When I turned back to Lord Hardforge, his smirk had disappeared, and
he courteously held his arm to be taken again. At the door, he paused,
releasing me again, in order to take my cloak from the butler and set it
across his shoulders himself.
He led me outside, where his large, covered carriage waited for
us. He handed me inside, where I nervously adjusted my skirts as he
gave orders to his coachman. After he entered the coach and it jerked
into motion, he took up my hand again and began to feather kisses
over my wrist and forearm. When I tried to pull it away, his hand
clamped onto mine, his mouth opening to actually lick my skin. A
moment later, his power affirmed, he carelessly released me.
Sitting back in the rocking carriage, he smiled at me, looking
strangely shy. "As you probably know, we're going to my estate. I
usually only conduct my affairs in London, but this one is special. I
don't want you to feel like you're waking the neighbours each time
I trembled harshly.
He reached for my hand again. "Not that kind of scream, Lady
Amelia, believe me. I'm not a rapist. I'll give you all the pleasure I
can, provided you return the favour."
"I-I hardly think I know how to –" I broke off, almost ashamed
of my inexperience. "I'm a virgin, you know."
"Oh, I know." His hand came up to touch my face. "That's
why I arranged to keep you for more than a single evening. I don't
want you to be frightened at any point in our affair. But I will have
you, Lady Amelia. I've wanted you too long to give you up now."
"Wanted me?" I couldn't help asking. "For how long?"
"Years," he said simply. "By the end of his week, I'll have
lived out a treasured fantasy. That of lying over you in my bed, buried
to the hilt in your lovely body."
I blushed and turned away. Another feeling, deep inside,
displaced the knot of fear ever-so-slightly. I didn't examine it, not
knowing what I would find.
We didn't exchange another word for several hours, not until
we stopped for luncheon at an inn. Lord Hardforge engaged a private
dinning room and ordered enough food for four people. I couldn't
make myself more than a couple of bites. He smiled
encouragingly at me from the other side of the table. "Eat Lady
Amelia. I'd like to reach the estate before supper, so we likely won't
I shook my head, pushing the plate away from me. He poured
a glass of wine and handed it across the table. "It will help you relax.
Don't worry," he added quietly when I didn't take it immediately. "I
didn't put anything in it. I have plans for you, my lady, and I want you
to be awake and lucid to enjoy them."
I reluctantly took the glass. It was surprisingly good wine. I
quickly downed the whole of it, but refused the second glass
adamantly. He shrugged and pushed himself up from the table,
suggesting we move on.
At some point in the afternoon, I fell asleep in the carriage. I
didn't wake under we came to a sudden halt. I was shocked to find
myself leaning against Lord Hardforge, my fingers resting on his thigh,
embarrassingly close to his crotch.
He gave a wicked smile, then slipped away from me to exit the
carriage. He reached back to help me descend.
The house was smaller than George's, but much better kept. I
nearly wept at the thought of how beautiful my childhood home had
once been, before all the troubles began.
Lord Hardforge didn't give me much time to observe the
facade, dismissing the hired carriage. He touched my arm and gently
led me into the house. Our footsteps echoed in the empty hall.
A in a butler's uniform appeared at my side and took my
cape. "Welcome, Lady Amelia," he said in sombre tones.
I tensed. "Do all your servant know who I am?" I asked Lord
"No. Only Williams. And he's as silent as the grave. In fact,
most of the servants have been given a week of holidays. I want your
body, Lady Amelia, not your reputation."
I blushed again.
"We'd like a light supper in my suite, Williams. And have the
maids prepare a bath for the Lady Amelia."
I was pleased Lord Hardforge had order supper. As he had
predicted, I was feeling quite hungry after the long ride.
Lord Hardforge led me quickly upstairs and into a luxurious
sitting room. Releasing my arm, he shrugged out of his coat and
tossed it over a chair. As he quickly undid his cravat I was torn
between fascination at the strong body evident under the fine lawn
shirt and terror that what I had dreaded was finally happening.
Once his cravat was removed, however, he proceeded no
further. He picked up my valise again and set it in a corner of the
"Should I unpack?" I asked timidly.
"No," he said flippantly. "You won't need anything in there
for the next week. Or any of those clothes your wearing now." He
smirked. "Allow me to dispose of them for you." In an instant, he had
closed the distance between us and was undoing the buttons of my
bodice. My fluttering hands did nothing to stop his motions.
"L-lord Hardforge – " I stammered.
"Charles," he corrected as his fingers snapped open another
button. "We are to be quite intimate over the next few days, Amelia.
I think we should call each other by our Christian names, don't you?"
I didn't answer, but the feeling of open air on my bosom made
"Are you cold, Amelia? Don't worry, we'll have you into a hot
I tried to ignore the growing heat in my stomach as his hands
slowly worked at the lacing of my corset. The whalebone garment
came away from my skin and fell to the floor with my dress. His
hands rucked up my shift. He whispered, "Lift your arms." I obeyed
instinctively and he pulled my shift over my head, leaving me wearing
only my garters and stockings. He took a step back, his scalding gaze
burning my skin.
The heat from my stomach had already spread to my chest
when the knock sounded on the door. Lord Hardforge turned away
from me with an annoyed grunt. He crossed immediately to the door.
I had barely time to up my shift and hold it in front of the
It was Williamson with a large, covered tray. He didn't spare a
single glance my way, but crossed directly to the table in the centre of
the room. Setting a chair on each side of it, he bowed to Lord
Hardforge and left the room without a word.
Lord Hardforge looked me up and down. "Drop that," he
Without thinking, I let the shift fall to the floor. He smiled
wickedly, but his expression changed after a moment. "I'll never
understand why women do that to their bodies." His hand reached out
and lightly traced the creases caused by my corset, sending a jolt
through my body that settled between my thighs. His hand drifted
toward my again, but then fell away. I was unable to explain
the disappointment that coursed through me.
Dragging a chair before me, he sat. "Take off your and give them to me."
Blushing deeply, I shook my head, crossing an arm over my
nipples and covering my sex with the other hand.
Lord Hardforge indicated the covered tray on the table. "No
stockings, no supper."
The tantalising scent of roast beef tempted me. Slowly
lowering my hands, I reached for one of my garters. A few moments
later, I held the out to Lord Hardforge with a trembling
hand. He took them and, with a smile, tucked them into his pocket.
"Come," he said kindly. "You must be hungry."
I was horribly uncomfortable in my nakedness, but I managed
to eat some of the chicken Williams had brought. Lord Hardforge
continually caught my eye across the table. Each time, he would
deliberately focus on my until I blushed fiercely and looked
"D-do you not have any family, my lord?'
"Charles," he corrected again. "None but my father. And he
died when I was sixteen."
"Have you never been married?" I stammered, desperate to fill
"No," he said. "Women lose their fascination for me once I've
had them. Sad, but true."
I was suddenly aware of his stockinged foot sliding its way up
my calf. I moved my leg slightly and cleared my throat. "A common
malady, I'm told."
His foot pressed against my right thigh, moving higher. I
"Yes. Part of me will regret leaving you behind. But first,
we'll have a week of intense pleasure together."
His foot found the apex of my thighs and rubbed up and down
against my sex. I gasped and moved back in the chair. The heat that
surged through me was frightening in its intensity.
He stretched his leg a little further and resumed the light
rubbing. At first I resisted the sensations in my body. Slowly, though,
my eyes closed as small warm gasps escaped my lips.
"That feels nice, Amelia?"
When I didn't answer, he pulled his foot away. My eyes
He stood and held out his hand. "Come. A bath."
He lead me into the adjoining room, where a steaming bath
waited. I walked over to it and had nearly climbed into it when I
noticed that Lord Hardforge had found a seat in plain view.
"Of course, my dear. I've been wondering for years if you're
as beautiful out of your clothes as you are in them."
"And?" I asked, unable to resist.
"And I am far from disappointed."
With a pleasureful shiver, I slipped into the water.
I hardly knew what came over me. Perhaps it was the look in
his eyes. Perhaps it was my own nakedness. Or perhaps it was simply
a woman responding to a man. I slowly lathered my body, moving as
seductively as I could, slowly moving the washcloth over my breasts,
thighs, calves, all the while watching him through lowered eyelashes.
I repeated the process as I rinse the soap from my skin, noting
with a strange satisfaction that there was a large bulge in Lord
Hardforge's breeches, straining against the fabric.
It wasn't until I was clean that I noticed that the drying cloths
were hung before the fire, out of reach. I stood. Lord Hardforge
moved at the same moment. He crossed and took up a cloth,
unfolding it slowly. Draping it over his hands, he asked quietly. "Will
you allow me?"
His drying was one long caress. His hands lingered on my
breast, brushing over the nipples until the stood out at attention. I
gasped at the warmth as he dried me intimately. With the last
common sense I could gather, I asked: "Are you going to take me
He paused his hands, then continued to dry me, more quickly
and roughly. "I hadn't planned to, Amelia. You tempt me to change
my mind. Lie down on the sofa."
Trembling, I obeyed. There was no going back now. This was
it, what I had feared for so long.
He crossed the room slowly, pulling his off over his head.
I found my eyes locked at his breeches, where his erection was quite
visible. To my chagrin, he noticed. "Do you want to see, Amelia?"
I shook my head. He only smiled silently.
He knelt beside the sofa, his gaze raking slowly over me.
"Beautiful," he whispered. His hands circled my waist. "But you're
so tense, Amelia. I told you, I'm no rapist. Do you believe me?"
His eyes were wide and honest. I nodded. "I believe you."
"I'm going to use this week to make you want me. You're
going to beg for my hard length to be inside your body. But that's for
later. Tonight, we play. Close your eyes."
His hands were unbelievably gentle as he explored my body.
He thumbed and teased my until I could feel them harden into
taut peaks. His mouth began to play over the soft mounds as his hands
wandered to my hips, then lower.
I gasped at first touch on my sex. His fingers stroked over me,
making my body relax involuntarily. When his mouth found my
nipple and began to suckle, I gave a slight, involuntary whimper. He
slid a finger up inside me.
"God!" I breathed. "It's so sinful!"
"Yes," he said as his thumb searched briefly and found the
most tender spot of all, making my hips arc off the sofa. "But what a
delicious sin it is."
I wasn't aware of much more of the next few minutes. I shook
and moaned and cried until I was certain I was dying from the
delightful sensations, then the world suddenly exploded into rainbows
I was vaguely aware of Lord Hardforge carrying me into
another room, then found myself set gently onto a feather mattress and
left there. After a few moments I found the energy to roll onto my
back and look around. Lord Hardforge was just returning from the
now darkened sitting room, crossing back to the bed. Instinctively, I
moved over to make room from him, but he didn't join me. He set a
hand beside my head and leaned over me. His mouth came to within
and inch of my own, then moved to kiss my cheek instead.
"Goodnight," I answered, unable to make sense of the
conflicting emotions inside me.
Lord Hardforge reached to the bedside table and extinguished
the candle sitting there. As he moved away, I heard his voice once
more in the darkness, "Sleep well, my sweet little virgin."
END OF CHAPTER ONE