Chapter 04: Close Enemies

OCTOBER 1860

“Yes, Jessie! Please! Harder! Harder! More!” Michelle cried out as her lover pounded into her from behind. It did not take him long to spill inside of her tight, contracting pussy.

He collapsed against her before carefully laying their spent bodies onto the floor of the old cabin on the Stackhouse property. He and Michelle had been using the structure ever since they had become lovers, six years before. Sadly, her health did not allow her to meet him very often. But occasionally, she would feel up to joining Caroline for tea. Her personal lady’s maid, a Mulatto named Martha, who had been with Michelle since even before she’d married Corbett, would always drive her to the Comptons’ estate in the Stackhouses’ finest carriage.

And then—after tea—Martha would drive Michelle straight to the cabin, where Jessie would be waiting. And then Martha would keep watch for the lovers.

“I only feel better when I am with you,” Michelle said dreamily. She shifted in Jessie’s arms to look up at the man she loved more than she would even love her own husband. “How I wish I had met you first! How I wish that you were my husband!”

“I feel the same way,” Jessie lied smoothly.

“We should run away together!” Michelle suggested excitedly.

“You know that we cannot,” Jessie responded. “We have discussed this before. We would both be ruined if our relationship became known.”

“But I love you,” she whimpered.

“As I love you,” he lied. In truth, Jessie did care for Michelle, but he did not love her. For years, he had enjoyed their flirtations before he finally “won” her. She was also a good fuck—given the amount of sexual energy she stored up between their encounters. Moreover, he enjoyed the clandestine nature of the affair.

His own wife still pleased him sexually, but Jessie had always been tender with Caroline—and he always would be. For instance, he would never have fucked his wife from behind as he had just done with Michelle. Indeed, with her and the others he had taken as lovers over the years, he could be rougher.

But there was no way in hell he would ever risk his marriage or his reputation for Michelle Stackhouse. In fact, he paid Martha to talk Michelle out of any notions she might have about confessing to Corbett, and—thankfully—the Mulatto was very good at keeping her mistress under control.

Even if laudanum was required to insure that she was.

Michelle sighed. “I suppose we will have to content ourselves with being together like this.” She looked up at Jessie with intensity in her eyes. “You were telling me the truth when you said that you no longer shared Caroline’s bed—were you not?”

“Of course,” he lied. He and his wife did have separate rooms—as did most affluent couples—however, he was in her bed and in her body often enough.

“And I have not been with Corbett since we made Sookie,” Michelle assured her lover, though Jessie only pretended to be happy with such information. In truth, he did not care who else Michelle bedded—as long as she saved up her more lascivious desires for him.

Jessie held her for another ten minutes before he began to feel restless.

“We must go now, my love,” he whispered.

She brushed away a tear, but did not argue as he began to dress. After he left, Martha would come in to put her to rights.

“What of Sookie and William?” Michelle asked as he tucked in his shirt.

“I have told William that he must get over his silly notions about the Northern girl and propose to Sookie by the end of the year,” Jessie shared, “though I am not certain that Sookie will accept. In truth, she has never shown William much preference.”

“She is shy and naïve,” Michelle said. “But she will say yes to him—for the sake of her family if for no other reason.”

Jessie nodded, though he was a little sad at the thought that Sookie might not be a “warm” wife to his son. He had contemplated allowing William to marry for love—to wed the Northern girl, Lorena, similarly to how he had once wed Caroline. However, having more Northern in-laws was not something Jessie could abide. Several years before, he had lost all of his tolerance for Godric Northman, the brother of his wife. And—invariably—his brother-in-law stirred up trouble during his visits. He would try to fill Caroline’s head with notions that went against Jessie’s beliefs, and Caroline was already ambivalent enough when it came to such matters.

Jessie sighed. No—marrying a Northerner now would be even more uncomfortable for William than it had once been for Jessie. And he did not want that for his son.

He gave Michelle one more passionate kiss. “I hope you are right about Sookie accepting William.”

“I am,” she reiterated. “And—if she tries to deny the match—I will simply have another ‘episode’ to convince her,” she added, an evil glint to her eyes.

Jessie smiled at her. Certainly, Michelle was often legitimately ill, but he had always recognized her propensity to exaggerate or manipulate when it came to her condition. Corbett was a fool not to recognize it too!


MARCH 4, 1861

Dearest Eric,

Please do not hate me when you hear that I have become engaged to William. In truth, the whole thing is a sham! I swear that to you! William and I spoke at length about the pressures we had both been feeling from our parents, and we have agreed to this pretense for several reasons—none of which involve love!

My mother had another fit when I initially denied William. In fact, her condition worsened to the point that both Martha and the doctor thought we might lose her! So I relented, but—again—just for her sake and my father’s sake and William’s sake.

Indeed, my mother became calmer when she learned that I had accepted William. And, because of that, her tremors have lessened. The doctor believes that her nerves were frayed by the fear that my future was in jeopardy somehow. And she was already overwrought with anxiety since Jason has quit the army and has gone to South Carolina to train the militia that is growing there.

In better news, William has convinced his father to allow him to travel abroad to investigate some investment opportunities in France. He leaves in two months, not long enough for a wedding to be planned, even in my mother’s opinion.

Thank God!

Once in Europe, William intends to defy his father. Lorena will be in France when he is, and the two plan to marry there—obviously, ending his engagement to me. So—you see—William and I have only an engagement for convenience sake. He needed his father’s approval and support to go abroad, and he would not have gotten it unless he and I seemed to be a happy couple. And, after William elopes, it is our hope that Jessie will feel more obliged to the Stackhouse family than ever, given the situation.

With any luck, by then, my mother will feel better and will take the disappointment without succumbing to another episode. Regardless, however, I can no longer live my life with her happiness in mind—especially since she is so rarely happy even when all is going exactly as she wishes. Moreover, I cannot give away my love for you to a woman who has never really shown me much love at all! In truth, I am more concerned about my father’s position; thus, I am ready to act the heart-broken, jilted woman in order to insure that he continues to have Jessie’s support. Without it, I fear that our other neighbors might begin to take out their frustrations against the North on my father!

William might have told you this himself, but he plans to stay in Europe until his father retroactively approves of his marriage. And he has told me that he would be willing to stay there indefinitely if need be.

Regardless, a fake engagement helps us all—for now.

I just pray to God that you understand. I did not tell William about us, though I hope that—very soon—all secrets can be revealed. I am tired of living as if I do not love you—as if I do not burn for you.

My heart is yours and will always remain yours.

Sookie


 

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