His groan of pain turned into one of helpless need. She was making tiny, breathy sounds, so feminine and dainty. Were all ladies this polite in bed? He never would find out. This was the only one he ever wanted.
Quicker still, she moved, greedily taking him deep, lodging his cock high in her silken heat again and again until the pleasure was too much. He released one breast and sought the other, catching the stiff peak in his teeth and giving it a light nibble. He wanted to consume her. To keep her in this bed forever and fuck her a hundred—nay, a thousand—different ways.
Suddenly, she stiffened, sinking down on his cock, hard. Her sheath clamped on him with so much force, he had to release her breast and fall back against the pillows. He closed his eyes for a moment, regardless of how determined he was to not miss a second of her wild surrender. As tremors rolled through her, the last thread of his control snapped.
His release roared through him with the fury of a powerful storm. He was everything and nothing, the pleasure so intense that he cried out, his hips thrusting from the bed as he buried himself even deeper inside her.
There was no time, no consideration for withdrawal. Instead, he lost himself, spending with furious abandon. And she rode him as he did, her body seemingly determined to drain his mettle until there was not a drop remaining. Until he was limp and sated beneath her, humming with the effects of his release.
Panting, wrapped in a hazy combination of pleasure and pain, he helped her to disengage and fall to the bed at his side. She was as breathless as he was, facing him, flushed and prettier than he had seen her yet.
“Oh,” she said again.
He kissed the tip of her nose, that queer tightening in his chest returning. “Oh indeed, minx.”
Octavia folded herself into a chair between Anne and Elizabeth in the nursery, the abecedarium she had acquired in hand. She had never taught a child to read before, and she was not altogether certain she would succeed. However, she was willing to try. Jasper’s daughters had very quickly won over her heart, and she wished for them to live prosperous lives in the future. Learning to read and write and becoming educated was an important requirement in all such endeavors.
“What do you suppose I have here?” she asked the girls, hoping to intrigue them in what was sure to be a boring subject.
Why spend all day learning one’s letters, when one could wander about The Sinner’s Palace, finding all their aunts’ clean stockings and tying them in knots? It had not taken Octavia long to discover the twins’ impish sides. Poor Pen and Lily had been most displeased when they discovered what the girls had done.
“A book,” Anne said.
“Ain’t a secret,” Elizabeth added with an indelicate snort. “We can see it in your ‘ands.”
So much for her attempts at intrigue.
“Of course it is a book,” she agreed, careful to keep her tone bright and laden with cheer. “Elizabeth, do try to make certain to pronounce your words fully, as we discussed. The letter h is an aspiration. Also, it truly does wonders to keep in mind one’s manners.”
The poor dears had precious little experience with the latter, she knew. Their mother had often locked them in a room while she had seen to her gentlemen callers, according to the twins. They had invented games and their own language to entertain themselves. Octavia hated what they must have endured, and she was heartily glad the woman had surrendered them to Jasper. Neither Elizabeth nor Anne spoke of their mother with fondness, which was quite troubling for children their age and also telling of the relationship they must have shared with her.
“Sorry, my lady,” Elizabeth said, her brow furrowing. “I’s trying my best.”
“Of course you are.” Octavia gave the girl an encouraging smile and chose not to correct her questionable grammar just then. Plenty of time for more lessons of that variety later. For now, it was time to teach them their letters. “This is not just any book, my dears. This is called an abecedarium.”
“An abby what?” Anne asked.
“An abecedarium, or a book of letters,” she explained, before opening the volume to a page prominently featuring the letters A and B. “It is filled with lovely engravings and rhymes, all to help you learn the alphabet, that you may then learn how to read.”
Elizabeth crossed her small arms and fixed Octavia with a mulish look. “Don’t like rhymes much.”
Perhaps she ought to have expected her charges to be reluctant. Somehow, Octavia had not. Instead, she had been thinking of the raptures which had delighted her when she had been capable of reading books and transporting herself to other worlds. How many times had she lost herself within the pages of an entrancing story? Too many to count.
“Do you know what rhymes are, my dear?” she asked Elizabeth gently.
“Reckon it ain’t anything we can eat.”
“Not inside a book, silly,” Anne said.
“I’m wearing the bands, I am,” Elizabeth grumbled.
Octavia supposed that meant Elizabeth was hungry. Correcting their penchant for using cant would take some time. A lot of it.
“First, we shall read through the abecedarium together,” she said, “and then, we shall see if the chef has any seed cakes to spare. What say you?”
“Why can’t we ‘ave seedcakes first?” Elizabeth queried, apparently unimpressed by Octavia’s attempt at encouraging their scholarly endeavors with a reward.