Thomas had taken Emma to the library at the back of the townhome. It was a small library and rarely used as his father had his own personal library in his study and Thomas was often busy with other matters than to use the library. Emma was still sobbing much to his discontent, muttering words that were incomprehensible all the while. Thomas saw that a fire had been built in the room and all the lamps lit, casting the room in a soft glow. He found a plush leather chair near the fire, but not too close and settled himself there. Without a thought, he pulled her into his lap as he sat down and wrapped his arms around her waist.
Emma, in her sudden misery, had not even noticed being pulled from the room and moved to a different area of the house. She did register, however, Thomas' soothing voice over her head, softly murmuring nonsense to her that she could not recall. And she was most certainly aware of his sudden close body contact, which she was sure was most improper.
"T-Thomas?" Her voice sounded watery and tired to Thomas' ears. She lifted her head from his chest and stared up at him, brown eyes bloodshot and nose red. Thomas thought she looked like an upset child, at which he could not help but smile. Her lips drew into a frown and she scowled suddenly. "Do not laugh at me. I do not appreciate being laughed at," she told him rigidly. Her fiancé chuckled and pulled her close to him again. He kissed the top of her head.
"Tell me what is upsetting you," he ordered gently. Emma was silent and then she leapt off of his lap and began pacing a small expanse of the floor.
"I am not sure at all. You may find me very silly, Thomas. But, it is no one thing. There are the wedding preparations. I find that though it concerns me, I could honestly care about wedding colours and the like. It is so very much work and in such a short amount of time. But it is my job to do and I am worried about mucking it up. That would not do for a future Duchess. I know the ton is just expecting me to mess up for further proof that Caroline was the correct Wren daughter for you. Then there is my blasted mother who I heard talking to one of her friends yesterday. She is convinced you shall leave me at the altar for Caroline since it is only right. And she shall only ever accept you in the family if that is to be the case. She went on and on and I grew so tired of her gabbing that I had to take a nap afterwards." She paused in her tirade and ripped out the pins from her dark hair, tossing them angrily on the floor.
"But I am not mad at Caroline for I know she has no warm feelings for you. I have always known that fact. I am madder at myself, I think, which is just silly. I am upset that people do not think I am good enough to be your wife. What is so wrong with me?" She tossed her hands up in the air exasperatedly and halted her pacing. Emma turned on her fiancé and crossed her arms over her chest.
"There is nothing wrong with me. I'm pretty, wealthy, intelligent, is that not what men are looking for these days? Of course, I am not fair, which is in style and nearly everyone in the ton is wealthy. Plus modesty and domestic skills are valued over book intelligence. This is just terrible. You should not marry me, Thomas. I am not suitable at all."
Lord Thomas listened to her patiently though he felt his ire growing as she veritably insulted herself due to the opinion of the ton. He rose to his feet and moved to the fire.
"You are being quite absurd, Emmy, if you do not mind me saying." He chuckled and turned towards his fiancée. "But of course you mind very much that I think that, correct? And it has quite a lot to do with your not so hateful feelings towards me, hmm?"
"What do you mean?"
"What I mean is that you are so upset by everything because you are in love with me," he announced triumphantly, shooting her a wide smile. Emma leveled her gaze at him and managed to scoff.
"You are mad. Whatever gave you that idea?"
Thomas merely smiled knowing this to be purely a defense mechanism and he was not going to let her wheedle her way out if it this time. He leaned his back against the mantelpiece and began to explain. "At first, I was drowning in my sorrows at having been engaged to you. But I found it peculiar that you had no complaints at being engaged to me, merely that it was forced. You never said it in that way, but it was duly implied. As we spent more time together, I knew that you cared more deeply for me than you would ever care to admit. Your anger at my late arrival and every time you smiled at me. It never occurred to me that it was love until this evening at this very moment when you deemed yourself unsuitable to be my bride. You are in love with me, are you not?"
She looked down at her bare hands, having since removed her evening gloves, and let out a breath. "Why does it even matter? Can you just leave me to my feelings and forget about it?"
"It matters, my dear Emmy, because I am in love with you. I have been for quite some time. I find that you are an impossible person to which to confess."
Emma's eyes shot wide open and she stood rigidly in her spot near a table where she deposited her gloves and pins.
"You, Marquess Hartwell, love me, Emmeline Wren?" Thomas rolled his eyes and closed the space between them in a matter of two long strides.
"No, I, Thomas, love you, my little Emmy." He told her with a smile. She felt a blush warm her cheeks and covered her mouth.
"Oh my, this is a startling revelation."
"Had you no inkling of this?"
The brunette shook her head, dropping her hand from her mouth. "I had not the slightest idea. I knew you did not hate me and that you found me to be a great friend, but I could not have imagined…" A beatific smile lit up her face and she threw her arms around his neck. "This is wonderful!" she exclaimed. Thomas let out a laugh and returned the impromptu embrace.
"You are so very precious to me, Emmy. I cannot wait to be married to you in just a few short days." Thomas instantly regretted his words though when Emma pulled from his embrace and pulled on her hair.
"There is still so much to do. I must return home. Has my family left yet?"
"You are not returning home tonight, dear. A room has been readied for you and your aunt and sister shall take care of the rest of the preparations to give you some relaxation."
"But it is my duty, is in not? Thomas, I really must…"
"Not a chance." The marquess entwined his fingers with Emma's, gathered up her gloves and hair pins and smiled down at her tenderly. "I shall take you to your room. I should hope it meets your expectations."
"Am I to share with you?" Emma inquired softly. Her voice was so quiet that Thomas nearly thought he heard her incorrectly. However, when he looked down to his fiancée, he detected the faintest trace of red lining her cheeks. This startled the marquess, but a contented smirk played upon his lips.
"Do you wish to? I am quite sure it could be arranged. Are you not quite worried that I might ravage you during the course of the night? Did your mother or aunt or some other well-meaning relative warn you about men and our insatiable lust?"
Emma laughed merrily and shook her head. "I am afraid not. There was not a concern about me entering into dangerous and improper situations. I am known to have a good head on my shoulders, the epitome of sense…though many do not know that I enjoy silly poems and novels just like the rest of the twits in the ton. I am much more sensible than Caroline; she is truly the ice queen." She let out a sigh. "I am afraid that I shall be resigned to wake up a ruined woman, Thomas. You shall have no choice but to marry me when the morning light strikes."
"You give yourself up so willingly; I find that rather intriguing. As for your sensibility, there is nothing at all wrong with it since you do not allow it to overtake your sense like Alice. My father told me recently that he always knew you to be very practical; however, he felt that you often bottle matters up inside, which cannot be good for your health." The two arrived at the stairs and began to climb them slowly, hoping to be as quiet as possible.
"Considering that, I do hope you know I am always available to her your tirades about your mother, the ton or any other matter that may have upset you or even made you happy."
Emma did not reply immediately, choosing to engrain his words in her memory for whenever she was ready to burst from her bad habit of not expressing what she felt.
"Thank you, Thomas. I-I…" she trailed off as they arrived at their destination. Thomas glanced down at her and felt another smile creep upon his face. He felt more happiness than he had in quite some time. His darling fiancée was truly just that now since she begrudgingly admitted her feelings for him. Though she had yet to say the words, he was happy none the less. Never before had he encountered a woman less likely to use the word 'love' or any other phrase to show affection.
"Here we are." He opened the door to his room and ushered her inside. A small breakfast table rested near the door and he deposited her gloves and pins there. Emma tentatively stepped around the dimly-lit room, unsure if she should inspect or merely stay where she was. Her eyes rested firstly on the four poster bed with navy hangings and a warm-looking cover. There were just as many pillows on his bed as she had on hers, which she rather well liked. Next she noticed a nightgown had been laid out on the left side of the bed along with a pair of slippers.
"I never wear nightgowns," she announced.
"Then whatever do you wear to bed?"
"My chemise. Nightgowns are ever so uncomfortable and I tend to twist and turn a lot in my sleep though I do not know how it shall be with someone next to me." Emma walked over to the bed and held up the nightgown. She clucked her tongue and shook her head. "Impossible…is that alright?"
"As long as you are comfortable, I do not mind at all." He told her honestly. A smile grew on her lips and she dropped the nightgown back to the bed. Emma turned on her heel and began a slow perusal of the room. Thomas watched as she strolled through the expanse of his room as if she were in a museum, hands clasped behind her back, letting out a sigh of appreciation every now and then.
He left her to her tour and moved behind a dressing screen to change out of his evening wear. Like her, he did not really enjoy nightgowns as his night wear. Instead, many years ago, he opted to don a pair of old breeches for sleep instead of the loose, long-sleeved nightgowns favoured by most of the ton, male or female
As he changed, he heard the door to the actual dressing room shut, where Emma presumably went to change for the night. Thomas finished dressing and walked over to his bed and found himself absolutely riveted at the sight of it. His mind was certainly on their wedding night that was soon to come, but also on the night that would pass soon. He was very content at the moment to know that soon he would be sleeping with Emma at his side and that her feelings were the same as his own.
Emma had changed quickly and returned into the bedroom in her chemise, her dark ringlets pulled back with a ribbon. He already knew her to have an attractive figure, but it was much enhanced by the absence of other layers.
"You look lovely," Thomas said. She smiled at him and went to her side of the bed. The maids had already turned down the bed, so she just climbed on the bed and then decided to scramble to sit next to Thomas. She leaned her head against his shoulder and lightly drew circles on his bare arms.
"I shall be ruined in the morning," Emma told him lightly.
"Not quite so ruined, my dear. For I have yet to even kiss you."
"You are very welcome to do so though." But before he even had a chance to process her words, Emma impulsively rose to her knees and placed a kiss on his lips. He was so shocked at her brazenness that he did not return the kiss. She pulled away from him triumphantly, her lips quirking into a grin.
"You have robbed me of my chance to kiss you first," Thomas complained, only earning a laugh.
"You can kiss me this time," she offered. Emma stared at him with her big brown eyes, waiting. Thomas however found his mind once again detouring to how voluptuous she looked in just her chemise and how soft her lips felt. But he found himself and smirked down at his fiancee.
He placed a hand behind her head and bent to kiss her lips. It was a gentle kiss and he felt her lips move against his own. But then Emma wrapped her arms around his neck, pressing her body close to his own. He then lost a bit of his control. His hands settled on her waist and he brought her to sit on his lap. Her mouth let out a soft moan at the closer contact.
Emma arched her back more into him, causing him to lose his balance and fall back onto the bed. She ended up straddling his hips and devious grin on her face.
"Emmy, you seem to have done this before," he commented to her. She shrugged her shoulders at his words.
"As have you, Thomas." Emma was a virgin, of course. But her extended sojourn in the countryside did lead to boredom. And she often attended the local town's festivals and there were many a handsome man that should could flirt with and kiss. No one knew of this though, save her maid, Mary since she had been her partner for many of these adventures. Everyone assumed she was the demure and frigid Wren sister, but everyone had desires.
"I do not care if you have. I am not judging you, love. I much prefer that you have some experience though," he told her with a wink. And he was not lying. Emma seemed to have a healthy appetite for their bedroom activities, which only endeared her more to him. He may be in the minority in believing that if men are expected to come to marriages with experience, why could women not as well? In the end, everyone was happy. And he could tell he would be very happy.
Author's Note: This is not the end, lol. More to come. :D