Times were changing, and many in their social circle were frightened someone would throw open the doors of their world and let the magic out. Vivian’s mother predicted their way of life would end with her generation as subsequent generations were incapable of preserving their traditions and customs; the era of plutocratic families, great houses, and rites of passage would wither and fade in the shadow of what she saw as quasi socialism. But even to her cynical eye, the day a Vanderbilt couldn’t halt an objectionable press release and save thousands of jobs was inconceivable. However, clothed in a shroud of political correctness, that day past as quickly as it came; thankfully, Vivian’s mother didn’t live to see it.
Vivian’s consortium didn’t bow gracefully to modernity; they shaped it to their benefit. Giving an outward appearance of conformity, while maintaining the aesthetics and instilling in their values in their children. What her generation proved was an oligarchy and meritocracy could exist on the same solarplate without imploding. Judge them critically if you will, but this was their greatest gift to posterity.
The maitre d’ saw Vivian and Maureen to their sunlit breakfast table and soon the other guests trickled in behind them. The waiter came immediately, took their for a le petit déjeuner with a pot of tea, and departed. It was strange not having the family together for breakfast however Sadie was with her girlfriends and the twins were nowhere to be found. Vivian settled herself, glancing around the dining hall as she did. She hadn’t noticed before, but the hall had been refurbished. While more formal than most are accustom, the surroundings were pleasant, comfortable, tasteful, and even warm. It was certainly light years away from the ‘old guard’ functions at Belcourt with its hardback chairs and gold plated cutlery.
“Viv…” Maureen unfolded her napkin and placed it in her lap. “What do you make of the Lockwoods?”
“They’re new money but nice enough. Why?”
“Well, since you asked.” Maureen retrieved her pocket organizer from her purse, which hung from her like an appendage. “My records show you haven’t eaten one meal with them…however you have had three breakfast, one lunch, and two dinners with the Mitchams. Now, under different circumstances, this isn’t an issue however since Dean has shown ‘special attention’ to Rebecca Lockwood, everyone is saying you’re snubbing them because, like you said, they’re new money.”
Vivian’s facial expression read ‘it’s too early in the morning for bullshit’. “I entertain the Mitchams because I enjoy their company—Rhonda is a breath of fresh air…” She paused and kissed Bart’s cheek before he took his seat. “I’ve been introduced to the Lockwoods.”
“Yes, but you haven’t broken bread with them.” Bart added. “And since Winston and Andrea are known to hate one another, you swanning around with the Mitchams reeks of a matrimonial plot. And while the Mitchams are new money, they’re academics which counts for something nowadays.”
“What one wasn’t given by birth, one might acquire through diligence and effort.” Maureen spat quietly. “I hate it. I hate it all.”
“Hate it or not, that’s the way of the world. If Prince William, the future King of England, can marry the daughter of a tradesman, then American society doesn’t have a leg to stand on.” Bart said to her, and then turned to Vivian.
“I like Rhonda.” Vivian said. “It wasn’t meant as a snub.”
“Aunt, I’m sure it was an oversight. You’ve been working very hard and you’ve held this party together brilliantly. But for the sake of appearance, there must be a small gesture, anything. You know how rumors begin and so soon after Uncle Stanley’s death would set tongues wagging.”
“Fine,” Vivian rubbed her temples. “What do we know about Rebecca?”
“She’s a Canadian national,” Bart replied. “Until she was taken in by her aunt and uncle, she hadn’t traveled beyond Canada and America. They sent her to Leeds where she earned a Bachelors of Arts, so she has lived abroad.”
“On her own or chaperoned?”
“Carole Matthews was her chaperone.” Maureen answered. “There were no other girls in the house.”
“Correct. Rebecca was her only charge at the time.” Bart continued. “She speaks French fluently, she rides well, and she has a spotless reputation ….”
“Dean will soon see to that.” Maureen laughed.
Bart sighed. “She’s a good person.”
“How is she adjusting to her newfound financial security?”
“Quite well, actually! She purchased her parents a home last year, but she hasn’t spent extravagantly since then.”
“I don’t trust young women who don’t spend money.” Maureen nodded at the waiter delivering their breakfast. “There’s nothing so unfashionable as lowbrow living. I’d consider it a flaw but that would be putting it mildly.”
“Her monthly allowance and expenses?” Vivian searched the room for the waiter. “How much is her entail worth?”
“Her allowance is twenty-five K, her expenses a less than a thousand, and the entail is worth thirty-seven billion and with the estates she and Dean are equals.”
“She is not his equal!” said Maureen.
The waiter sat the three tier server on the table and began plating. The top tier consisted of thin slices of various cold meats, and cheeses. The second tier was arranged with slivers of assorted French breads, while the lowest tier bloomed with jelly and jams, croissants and yogurts. Once everyone was served, he left and their conversation resumed.
“She will have advisors, correct?” Vivian asked.
“Naturally,” Bart reached for the jam. “I pegged her for a romantic but she’s held her ground with Dean. I’ll admit I was wrong. She may have more sense than we’ve given her credit for.” He bit off his croissant. “All and all, she’s a good match…if it comes to that.”
“Knowing Dean, it won’t.” Vivian laughed. The dining hall was almost full when the Lockwoods arrived. She asked the maitre d’ to have the Lockwoods seated with them.
Concealing her shock, Trudy strolled proudly through the sea of hushed whispers of the other diners. For Vivian, social timing was practically occult.
Dean squinted against the morning sun, his gaze strayed across the rumpled bed and scattered pillows to where Rebecca lay sound asleep. Her legs tucks to her chest as they did when not entangled with his. He brushed back the layers of corn silk hair shrouding her face. He smiled remembering the times he and Rhonda had woken up together and how their relationship had evolved from the occasional rump to something that gave him pause.
They met at the Bruce Museum’s Dimensions in Dining in Greenwich; one of the few functions Dean enjoyed attending when visiting Hyde Park. That night was the first of a series of eleven intimate dinners in private homes throughout Greenwich over three nights organized by the museums’ by co-chairs. The halls of the Stockman’s home swam with local zillionaires—some of whom honestly appreciating the art while others appreciated being in the company of those appreciating it. Dean was standing in one of their smaller galleries admiring a lithograph by Kiki Smith when Rhonda joined him and commented on the piece. He was sucker for the mature brainy type, and Rhonda was just that. Her extensive knowledge and casual elegance impressed him, but over the following days, it was her ease of rhetoric and poise that held him captive.
The final dinner was held on the Bouley’s estate. For the sake of propriety, Dean and Rhonda quartered themselves to nonverbal flirtation—and for a man accustomed to bedding females within hours, this was brute torture. After dinner, the twenty-five guests in attendance roamed the house, admiring the Bouley’s latest acquisitions. Dean pulled Rhonda into a small, darkened parlor and pressed her against the far wall, flinging off his tux jacket in the process.
“Dean, what if someone comes in?” Rhonda asked breathlessly as he hoisted her dress up to her waist and threw the shreds of her panties to the ground.
“They won’t.” His mouth came down on hers; she answered his kiss violently.
She broke their bond. “Right here and now?” she gasped. “What exactly do you want me to do?”
“I want you to cum for me,” he reached in his pocket and retrieved a condom. “Open it.” He handed it to Rhonda and unzipped his pants. Skilled in the art of fucking on the fly, Dean had the condom on before his pants hit the floor! He moved his hands under her ass and lifted her up. Her legs splayed around him, the tip of his cock teased lips before he entered. He buried his face in the curve of her neck, intoxicated by her perfume.
A heavy groan escaped her, and she locked her ankles as his thrust grew urgent. She palmed the back of his head and smiled to herself, triumphantly. She’d done it; she had Dean Bellamy’s beautiful, young, thick cock thrust between her legs. If her first orgasm were possible, he’d be the one to give it to her—and hot damn he lived up to his reputation!
This was their first night together.
Their relationship progressed over the next few months. Normally the homey feeling of domestic bliss would’ve sent Dean running in the opposite direction, but it didn’t. He and Rhonda spent more and more time together when her work permitted. Dean even planned a holiday in the Jura, where they spent an entire week tucked off in their yurt. For the first time in his life, Dean was satisfied with one woman; she wasn’t a mere fixture—she was an equal partner; and the idea of her being so didn’t unnerve him.
Whether or not Rhoda realized she was taking Dean into uncharted emotional territory is debatable. What is certain, is the hurt he suffered when his valet presented him with the truth while en route to meet Rhonda in Madrid. While Dean was no saint and he didn’t hold the monopoly on heartbreak and betrayal, his unimpeachable honesty was unquestioned and he never thought the woman he cared for would hurt him with unnecessary lie when the truth, while painful, was on the tip of her tongue. Regrettably, Rhonda didn’t share his view.
At her condo overlooking the city, Dean confronted her. Her admission was more for her own benefit than his. The weight of her secret was finally off her chest. But if she thought for one moment Dean was sticking around, she had another thing coming. For an hour or so, Rhonda berated her husband, blamed her career, and a host of other excuses which went clear over Dean’s head. In the end, none of it mattered. He stood, kissed her cheeks, and left for his home in France, where he immediately gutted the place.
Some people seek therapist to help them work through their issues. Dean sought the sales guy at Ace Hardware and the largest sledge hammer permitted by law.
Though Rhonda pursued him afterward, he cut off all communication and he was fairly surprised she joined the house party. After many months, his feelings for her were right on the surface—she had her claws in him, but not as before. It wasn’t nearly the same. And quite frankly, watching Rebecca sleeping beside him while thoughts of Rhonda twirled in his head sickened him.
Unlike most cads, Dean remained friends with most of his lovers. It was common knowledge: he simply wasn’t the settling-down type. Women seemed to forgive his roving eye because he was forthcoming and treated them with some measure of respect—he never hurt anyone; and Rebecca wasn’t going to be his first. He hadn’t lied or strung her on—still something felt wrong. Yes, there were times her unsullied innocence sat his teeth on edge (her stamina in bed more than compensated for this ‘flaw’) but he would never hurt her.
Rebecca stirred, smiling slowly as she woke under Dean’s gaze. “Good morning.” She rolled onto her back, stretching. “What time is it?”
“Oh goodness,” She lifted her head, looking around the tattered room. “We got kind of crazy last night, didn’t we?” She collapsed again. “I’m sore. Rub it for me.” She placed Dean’s left hand between her legs.
Dean rolled on side and massaged her gently as she settled into his warmth. “They say sex isn’t good for a virgin the first time. Was it disappointing?”
“By the time you penetrated me, I’d cum so many times I was begging for you to take me.” She met his eyes. “It was painful but you were patient. You kept asking if I wanted you to stop…I almost cried when you did.” Her pussy grew wet.
“I didn’t want to hurt you.” His index finger teased her slick lips.
“I know. It was so…aw!” She cried when his finger pushed inside of her. “…it was so damn good.”
“Why didn’t you wait until you were married?” He slowly fingered her, rubbing her clit with his thumb. “You’re swollen, baby. Does that feel better?”
“Oh, God. Yes,” She arched into his hand. “I don’t want to get married. Deeper.”
“Why me?” Her hips reared upward. “Why did you give me your virginity?”
Rebecca closed her eyes as a thundering orgasm consumed her. Trembling and shaking, she removed his hand and pressed it against her mound. She lay panting, and said after some time, “When I came to your room that night, I hadn’t expected to give you my virginity. It…it just felt right. It still does.” She looked up at Dean. “I don’t regret it.”
Dean smiled faintly but said nothing.
“If he doesn’t look at me, I’ll die.” Lexy, Sadie’s spindly girlfriend said as Isaac past them, leaving the dining hall.
“I’ve never heard of anyone dying from want of attention.”
“I will! I’m a complicated woman.”
Sadie rolled her eyes. “You’re fifteen. You’re not that complicated.” They went to a small bay window and watched Isaac cross the rear grounds towards the hunting lodge. The heavy bags he carried weighed him down like a pack mule, crashing expertly cut livery. They sat talking and watching Isaac crisscross the ground four more times, assuming their hideout had been commandeered by one of the guests. At least the gothic hellfire club down by the river was at their disposal, and though it lacks electricity and the comforts of the lodge, with a few candles it would make the perfect escape from their chaperones.
“I’m asking him out.” Lexy giggled.
“Does your mother know you’re psychotic?” Sadie padded across the marble floor. “He’s too old. Nope! I don’t want anything to do with that. And don’t bring him to the club. If my brothers find out, I’m finished. I’m not even supposed to know where the club is much less invite servants down there.”
Lexy ran behind her. “He’s a footmen…what’s that?...nineteen?”
“He’s the first footmen, which makes him about twenty-five. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. He’ll be fired for looking at any of us. But he’ll do time for messing around with you.” Sadie stopped short of the music room. “I’m not kidding. If your folks catch you flirting with him, I’ll get trouble. You know how Winston is. Just don’t.”
“What about the other boys?”
“No,” Sadie cut her eyes sideways. “Maybe…we’ll see.”
Andrea sat up in bed, stiff as a reed. The smell of breakfast and the memories from the previous night drifted in slowly. A quick inventory of her clothing and the lack of tell-tale aching in her most intimate of places solved the rest of the mystery.
“I invited her over for the weekend. I thought it would be a nice change of pace. She’s staying with mother but she’s leaving this afternoon—something to do with the purchase.” Andrea heard Winston’s voice coming from the next room. She crawled from the bed and tip-toed to the crack in the door, her eyes skated around the room where Winston, shirtless, paced back and forth on the phone. Good heavens, he was ripped! It simply wasn’t fair how sexy he looked, those long, strong legs, his lean and tapered hips, and God Almighty his chest! Andrea took a deep breath and reminded herself to hate him.
“It’s done.” Winston continued, taking his shirt from Isaac and slipping it over his head. “When we return, she’s on her own. My hands are clean.” He paused. “No, Bart is will be your point of contact from our side but Ms. Guillory will be your primary.” He took the phone away from his ear and asked Isaac. “Is breakfast ready?”
“All ready.” Isaac handed him a glass of apple juice. “Should I wake Dr. Mitcham?”
“No, let her sleep. That’ll be all. Thank you.” Winston returned to his call, but disconnected when he realized Isaac was standing shakily after being dismissed. “What is it?”
“There’s been talk…” Isaac fidgeted with his hands, searching for his words. “…about what happened with you and Dr. Mitcham in the dining hall…the riff between you.”
“What about it? Speak frankly.”
Isaac steadied himself. “You came off like a chump. She got the better of you in front of everyone.”
Winston masked his concern with a laugh. “Its lower servants chatter, nothing more.”
“With all respect, sir, they’re repeating what’s being said upstairs.”
“Right.” Winston sighed, his voice quiet, very deep.
“I’ll come for Dr. Mitcham once the other guests have gone to the dining hall.”
“Thank you.” He hated being the subject of gossip and whispers, especial when it involved a female. Under those circumstances, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. Maybe he was a chump. He’d bent over backwards for a woman who held him in contempt. He’d allowed her to goad him into a public argument. He’d ran after her in the middle of the night like a lovesick puppy and, worst of all, spent the night with her, which given the rumor filled atmosphere of the house would be spun into a scandal and viciously circulated. How the hell had he landed on page six for a woman who hated him?
Isaac finished setting the table, and slipped from Andrea’s view. Winston resumed his call and Andrea trotted to the bathroom. The image staring back from the mirror was ghastly: puffy eyes, an aggressive case of bed head, and a headache to boot. Her elegant façade was a thing of the past, which given her rustically modern dwellings was right on point. She flipped on the shower and stepped under the stream of warm water, quickly washing her body and shampooing her hair. She almost felt bad about embarrassing Winston in front of everyone—almost. He had, after all, deserved it. He’s a horrible, self-centered ass, she repeated, attempting to rid herself of any trace of guilty for her misconduct.
“He’s dreadful. He deserved to be humiliated.” Andrea said aloud as if the words verbalized held more weight….maybe then she’d believe them.
“Good morning,” Andrea said briskly, plopping down on the large sectional sofa beside Winston. She was surprised to see they were both dressed in casual jeans and tee-shirts; an every day occurrence for her, but she assumed Winston was either humoring her or Isaac was playing a very cruel joke.
“Feeling better?” Winston asked without pulling himself away from his book. Truth be told, he wasn’t putting himself out for her; this fact wasn’t lost on Andrea. He kicked his feet up on the sofa.
Winston grunted. “Isaac’s downstairs. He’ll take you back to the house.”
“My head is hurting.” she threw out, hoping he’d glance at her.
“Breakfast is over there.” he pointed over his shoulder.
“I’m sorry to interrupt your reading, but we need to come to an understanding.” Andrea took the book from Winston’s hand. “You haven’t spoken to me in for the past two days, barring the necessities of convention.”
“That’s what you wanted, right?” His voice was deep and warm and sexy, and Andrea felt her skin break out in goose-bumps. “As publicly as possible, you wanted to prove you weren’t afraid to put me in my place—that you were better than me—that you could get under my skin to the point where I wouldn’t address you at all. And I, by keeping my distance, gave you exactly what you wanted. Everyone knows you played me. I hope you’re happy.”
He was right, of course. But victory wasn’t supposed to taste like hard boiled shit, but it did. She waited for the moment he would acknowledge her triumph; but his calmness, his matter-of-factness made her victory difficult to savor. This angered and shamed her to the point an apology seemed disingenuous especially given her actions were intentional.
Andrea’s eyes flickered between stubborn resolve and prostration. Winston had seen the same look in Sadie’s eyes. Thankfully Sadie had out grown of such behavior whereas Andrea hadn’t; she struggled with outward capitulation. It nearly frightened her. Underneath all the accolades and attitude, Andrea was a girl who was accustomed to having her way.
“Why do you hate me?” He asked, tossing Andrea a throw blanket and pillow. It was time to clear the air.
“I don’t hate you. I hate what you represent.”