5 Blackwell House

    The last house to receive an invitation that day was Blackwell house. For Kateri and her grandmama had planned that she pay a longer visit to her uncle Andrew on the morrow, figuring that he could be relied upon to attend with less notification than her grandmother's friends. Kateri was hoping to have the whole afternoon to catch up with him. Pulling up in front of Blackwell house, Kateri realized that in this older, more spacious neighborhood, the prevalent stink of London subsided somewhat, and the scents of flowers and growing things tended to waft past the carriage on warmer passes of errant breeze. The elderly coachman handed her down, and prepared to wait cheerfully at this more familiar destination.

    She ascended the shallow steps to the door, and knocked. And waited. And uncertainly, knocked again. Just when she was about to turn away, the door popped open, and a slender man wearing an apron gazed at her with surprise. "Oh dear," he said mysteriously, and bade her to wait in the entry, "for just a moment." And then bounced up the wide stairs at the end of the hall.

    Voices could be heard indistinctly from above, and then a door banged. Sir Blackwell could be heard clearly to say, "The devil you say!" And he appeared at the top of the stairs, hair wet, a towel laid about his shoulders over an open shirt.

    Kateri gazed up at him in shock before dropping her gaze to the floor of the hall.

    "Good God! Miss Norwen," exclaimed Sir Blackwell. "Put her in the sitting room man, and bring some tea," he said to his servant, and to Kateri, "I'll just finish dressing and be right down."

    Kateri was guided to a somewhat dusty sitting room, and very shortly Sir Blackwell joined her. His brows were drawn down fiercely, and he greeted her by asking, "Why on earth are you here alone? You are alone, I take it," he said glancing out the window.

    "Yes, I just came to deliver this?" Kateri held out the invitation hopefully. He glared at her. She added hesitantly, "I would have left it with your servant, but he didn't give me the opportunity?"

    "Alone?" repeated Sir Blackwell rather thunderously.

    She nodded.

    "You are determined to ruin your reputation from the beginning?" he demanded rather severely.

    "What do you mean?" she asked uncertainly.

    "Coming to a gentleman's residence alone, unaccompanied by even a maid?" he returned a bit angrily. "Do you think then, that you are safe?"

    She paused, looked up at him, considered for a moment and then nodded.

    "Why? Because I didn't do anything to you when we met in company?" he demanded.

    She looked at him uncertainly and said, "Well, yes, I suppose so, that my impression of you was good enough?"

    "I could ravish you now, and you would be helpless!" he scolded fiercely.

    She gazed up at him in slightly open mouthed surprise. He took the invitation from her hands and tossed it onto a table. And then he bent down and kissed her. When she tried to pull back he slid a hand behind her head and the other around her waist and pulled her into the kiss. After a moment he pulled back a little. She laid her hand on his arm hesitantly. He gazed into her face and dropped his hands down behind her, and lifted her up off the floor, against his chest, tilting his head to kiss her more fiercely. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders, and melted into his kiss in a most improper fashion.

    His servant returned bearing a tea tray and exclaimed loudly, "Sir!"

    Sir Blackwell dropped her to her own feet, but didn't yet release her. She pressed against him and said tremulously, "I think I should very much like to be ravished by you." She gulped and continued while looking up at him, "But then you would be forced to marry me. And, and, maybe you wouldn't be very happy about that?" She let her gaze drop and her nose rested against his breastbone.

    He raised his hands to her shoulders and pushed her away from him abruptly. "Out," he said. "Leave. Now."

    "The tea?" She asked weakly, glancing at the shocked servant.

    "Damn the tea!" He said vehemently. "I should never have asked for it," he said while pushing her out into the entry hall. "I should have bundled you out the door the instant I laid eyes on you!"

    "Wait," he said, pausing at the door, "you must never go to another man's residence alone! Promise me!" he demanded.

    She nodded helplessly, and managed a shaky, "I promise." And then he had the door open, and was waving her out.

    "I hope no one sees you, or that it has been a short enough time. Gods," he cursed.

    She stepped out onto the steps, to have the door shut firmly behind her. She drew her shoulders up and descended to the waiting gig. The coachman made no comment over her abrupt exit, only helped her cheerfully back in, and away they clattered.

    She returned home, subdued. And when she reported on the afternoon to her grandmother, she said only, "and then I delivered the last invitation to Blackwell house and came home." But for many nights after, she dreamed of kisses far different than the childish pursed lip kisses that were exchanged among her family.
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