~An Erotic Historical Romance~
Young Cecilia Danet is introduced to the opulent world of royalty when she joins the court of King Louis XIV—the Sun King. Having been groomed her whole life for the role of a courtesan prepares her for everything but the intense passion she feels with the brooding and powerful Louis. Their romance builds, but an intriguing twist changes the trajectory of Cecilia’s course and leaves her caught in the middle of a royal love triangle.
I found it was the marble that fascinated me. The alabaster veins winding their way through the rich burgundy. I reminisced about quiet moments that provided glimpses of polished beauty. Stolen seconds in the hall of another’s home as my mother kneeled, scrubbing away at the floor. I was ever mindful of her warnings as I crept and investigated the world of the nobility at the age of eight.
Mother had been a servant in a home that could not dare compare itself to the wonder of this palace in which I now stood at nineteen years of age. In that home she had given all of herself. Giving her all resulted in the loss of countless hours with family as she gained calloused hands and aching feet. She worked tirelessly in an effort to support her children and their future aspirations.
She wished for us to rise above the life of grueling labor. Her reasoning—that there were many ways to serve the rich. One simply needed to be agreeable to the task. “In the end”—she would say, removing her soiled boots after a day of drudgery—“love is for the weak and does not guarantee happiness, only heartbreak.”
Instead of countless hours toiling and sweating, my days overflowed with studies of etiquette, exotic places and foreign languages, and the ways of the court and its subjects. The constant pressure of a pen or a brush caused the only callus to be found on my well-cared-for finger. Whatever the implement, a highly regarded tutor placed it in my hand during expensive lessons paid for by the physical exertions of my mother.
My feet ached from the repetition of the waltz and minuet, not from traversing the acres of another’s farm to harvest their crop. To avoid sharing in the same fate as my mother I accepted the lessons placed upon me with great fervor. In many ways, it was her dream and ambition more than my own that guided my life’s path.
That path led me here, to the outskirts of Paris in the Château de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Inside a room of the king’s palace, I craned my neck to look higher and higher above my head. Inspecting the mural that covered the entirety of the twenty-foot ceiling became a needed distraction. I found my wide eyes gazing back at me in the mammoth, golden-framed mirror. My long chestnut colored hair, parted in the middle, fell across the sides of my forehead and temples in tight ringlets. An attendant had fussed at and pinned the uncomfortable hairstyle earlier that evening. I caught my mouth again agape in the reflection and vowed to clamp the jaw shut with my fingers, if need be, to ensure it remained closed. I paced in front of the fireplace, ever mindful of my posture.
Will he approve? Of course, I think he already does from what he has seen, but will I fulfill my duty as he expects? Enough to earn me a permanent apartment in his palace?
An artist’s rendering of the king on a massive canvas held my attention. The eyes of the portrait’s subject followed my every move. I tried to ignore it. The soulful gaze, an ocean of aqua, burrowed its way into my body. The painter captured the king’s wavy mane of golden brown hair, coiffed to perfection, and the lips pursed together at the base of the chiseled jaw of the divine ruler of France.
If only a painting of this being causes me such distress, how will I deal with the genuine article in my presence?
Those eyes brought me back to the first time he spotted me in the crowd.
He appeared startled, caught off guard. The stoic expression everyone bowed before moments ago was replaced with curiosity. His appraisal created a heat upon my cheeks. A wave of whispers billowed around me.
The expression followed me as he descended the stairs to his garden. With every step he took, it changed unhurriedly from interest to haughtiness.
The mouth crinkled into a grin.
A lopsided grin.
“It is done.” My brother Michael whispered the simple phrase in my ear once the owner of the gaze made his way to greet the noble guests.
I turned at the statement, still dazed from the contact made. “What?”
“You will be his. It is only a matter of days.”
“You can’t be certain,” I whispered back, shaking my head.
“Sister, I have seen that look before…as have others.” Michael was not known for exaggeration. His earnest countenance mixed with pride and sadness. “You must be sure, Cecilia.”
I stared at the cut grass beneath my silken yellow shoes. My brother’s black boots pressed firmly into the ground. An appointment to corporal for Michael had been bandied about often in conversation as of late. His chief sergeant, most impressed with his eight years of service in the king’s army, recommended to one of the ensigns that Michael should be advanced in rank. He hoped to have news within the month.
He did not forget his little sister as he rose in rank and status, however. His gregarious nature and influence with the other musketeers, almost all possessing noble backgrounds, kept the royal invitations flowing. Attendance to such functions in the past year allowed many chances for him to inspect the king.
How many nights did Mother and Michael spend mulling over the most minor details? How to style my hair? What color should my dress be and of what material? Would some things be left to the imagination or would a bold showing of my curves be in order?
The few garden parties I attended as dress rehearsals for this one were children’s tea parties in comparison. I strolled through the grounds with Michael. The greenery, exquisitely manicured, flowed in beautiful symmetry next to the castle. He introduced me to some of his military cohorts as I attempted to appear like I belonged in this environment. Musicians wafted in and out of the crowds. I lost sight of the king soon after our brief contact at the steps. Members of his court enveloped him, their very life dependent on maintaining close proximity.
A twitchy little man burst into the small grouping we formed while the afternoon ticked away leisurely. He pointed to Michael and panted out his command.
“Danet! The king requests your presence in the courtyard immediately.” His hand waved at me. “And bring your companion.”
My pulse quickened. The splashes of water circulating in the fountain filled my ears for some seconds. Michael carefully grasped my wrist and placed my shaking palm over his.
“Come, little sister. Let us go make our introductions.”
Three stories of arched stained glass greeted us as we passed below in the courtyard. The castle had indeed served its purpose well as a fortress for centuries. The party awaiting us huddled on the far end of the expanse.
“I fear I will faint.” I dallied, trying to slow down Michael’s pace as he pulled me beside him.
“None of that, now. As Mother says, you were born for this moment.” He nodded in confirmation.
On our approach, the guests parted and offered the brilliant sight of our host, King Louis XIV. His golden attire glittered in the daylight. He posed on the cushioned throne, placed atop a foot-high step. He glanced down at Michael and then to my person. On instinct and etiquette, Michael bowed and I curtsied. I slowed my breath and waited for his order.
I studied the countenance of the king. He was a young ruler at twenty-one. His mother, Queen Anne of Austria, had served as Regent upon the passing of his father, Louis XIII. Young Louis XIV, only four when his father died, was not officially king until his thirteenth birthday. Many said he ruled as a mere figurehead. His youth required advisors to handle the day-to-day mundanity of taking care of a country. He was known to pursue pastimes filled with beauteous art and dance and drama and women. His skin, unblemished and unlined, proclaimed a life of pampering.
“I am told you are a valuable asset in my army…” His voice trailed off, and he bent down a fraction. The same advisor who found us in the garden whispered in the king’s ear while balancing on the tips of his feet. “Michael, is it?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
The king looked to me. “And I’ve been told this is your sister, Cecilia.” His smile emerged and illuminated his visage. The blue eyes narrowed. “I hope you are enjoying the party.”
I nodded. “Very much, Your Majesty. Thank you.”
“You have been tutored in the arts?”
“Yes, Your Majesty.”
“Hmmm.” The strong contours of his face appraised me further. Then, with a flick of his wrist, he dismissed us. “That is all.”
We walked silently down the halls of the palace to his room. The absolute grandeur
of his suite took my breath away. His bed, a monstrosity of wood and fabric, was the centerpiece, almost twice the size of mine. Portraits and statues decorated every ounce of wall space. Gilt covered everything not made of claret marble.
He kissed the side of my neck, speaking from behind me. “You must remain focused on the task at hand.”
I leaned back, resting my head against his shoulder. I let his hands wander over my body. Lips glided along my neck teasingly and covered my flesh with warmth when he spoke. “You are exquisite, Cecilia.”
I shuddered. Why does he have such an effect on me?
His fingers slowly worked the laces of my dress. Teeth nibbled lightly on my shoulder. He pulled at my dress with unsuccessful results. I heard him sigh.
My hands assisted and released the layer. His fingers traveled from my hands upward to my shoulders. He held me firmly and pressed his body against my back. His hands slid over the top of my breasts, heaving against the constriction of the corset. A finger delved into my cleavage, slick with sweat, and gently explored.
“I need to feel you,” he begged in my ear. “Help me.” I worked at the corset strings.
Both of his hands hugged the curves of my hips sheathed in the underskirt.
Will he be surprised when he realizes I am wearing nothing under it? I hope it wasn’t a mistake to take Marissa’s suggestion. How big Charlotte’s eyes got when she followed my request as she dressed me.
He bent down to my back and planted kisses on a shoulder blade. The sensation arched my body forward. I managed to pry open the corset. His hands reached under my arms, peeling it from me. The bony spines of the stays pressed between us as he pushed into me again from behind.
His hands cupped my breasts, and began to knead. He found my nipples, fanning his fingers over them back and forth. I brought my hands to his neck to hold myself up, reveling in the feelings his touch created, as he sucked on my shoulder.
Soft pinches and tugs followed. “You feel so ready, my treasure.” His excitement pressed into my backside.
As do you. “Yes, Louis.”
“But I do not know what I wish to do with you first.”
I moaned, not caring, wanting anything and everything he would give me.
“You have learned of what pleases men?”
“Have you learned of what pleases a woman?”
He pulled the corset from between us and turned me around in his hands to face him. His stare skimmed over my body. “Do you know what pleases a woman?” he repeated.
His fingers trailed down the middle of my chest, over my stomach. They came back up to massage my breasts. He licked his red lips in anticipation.
Before I could comprehend his actions, he picked me up and carried me carefully to the bed. Gingerly placing me on top of the sheets, he tugged at the skirt. The fabric slid farther down and exposed my hip bone. I watched the awareness of my nakedness wash over his face.
“You are making it easy for me to show you, my treasure.” His fingers grazed across my thighs and calves. My shoes were the final article to drop against the rug.
He took his time to stare at my naked form. I began to blush, not knowing what to do and intimidated by the power he held over me. Still fully clothed, he inspected me slyly in the well-lit bedroom.
“I will show you that pleasure.”
I breathed in excitedly. He smiled and began to disrobe. Further embarrassed, my gaze traveled to the ceiling.
“I wish you to look at me.” He spoke softly. When I turned, he was unbuttoning his jacket. Done, he placed it atop the chair beside him. His shoes were next. Then his vest and slowly, deliberately, his shirt unwrapped from his chest. I admired the smoothness and inner glow of the golden skin. His hands went to his breeches, but he looked at me, contemplatively.
“Perhaps we shall wait for that.”
I giggled and he nodded, pleased. “Yes, I think we shall.”
I waited for him to join me on the bed. I want his body against mine. Instead, I watched in confusion as he stopped at the foot of the bed. He seized my feet.
“You must trust me.”
“Good.” With that he pulled me toward him, along with the sheets trapped beneath. My legs dangled at the knees with feet high above the floor over the edge of the tall bed.
“I want you to watch me, Cecilia.” I propped myself on my elbows. My modesty yielded to my inquisitiveness. Once again, my king kneeled before me.
“You realize not many can say they have had a king bow in front of them.”
I grinned happily, knowing he appreciated the irony of the situation as much as I did.
“You should feel honored.” He ran his hands up my legs, over my knees, which he slowly parted in order to fit between and across my thighs. “Louis, what…?”
“Shhh. You will find out soon enough.”
Those blue eyes were now filled with smoke, intense and passionate. “I have tasted you but once. I need to taste you again.”
He kissed my stomach and his face burrowed against me. His tongue licked me up to the crevice between my breasts. Arching my back with the push of his hands from behind, he met my nipple with his lips. He suckled, wrapping tightly around my skin, with a force that made me moan in ecstasy. I felt his tongue attack my hard, hot flesh. His teeth scraped me. He did the same to my other breast as I watched in approval. He stopped, looking up at me.
“You are ready?”
He smiled. “For what?”
“For you to claim me.”
“You are already mine. Are you ready for me to taste you?”
I bit my lip and watched his face contort in desire. “Taste me.”
“Hmmm…” He purred softly.
I became even more heated by the sound. He moaned against my skin, down to my stomach. His hands left my back, floating over my sides to the backs of my knees. He pulled me farther toward the foot of the bed, and I struggled up again to look at him.
He sat back, staring at my body, all of it presented to him. I closed my legs on instinct, and he shook his head.
“No, my treasure. This is what I want.” He brought his hands to part me again and leaned in, brushing his lips against my inner thigh. I gasped, watching him tickle my flesh with his tongue. My eyes widened as he advanced still farther up. I felt my wetness increase, my anticipation aching within.
“Your smell…” He closed his eyes, his nose brushing over my hairs which covered the source of my scent. “It makes me so ravenous for you.”
His eyes opened and met my gaze. He hovered above my most private of parts.
“Please, show me.”
He smiled. His tongue slid over each nether lip with deliberateness. Opening his mouth, he placed his wet lips against my flesh, kissing me softly. I watched his mouth make love to my skin. His tongue brushed the entrance before softly pushing between my lower lips. My hips bucked under him as he tasted me in the ultimate kiss. His hands guided my legs over his shoulders and then curled under me to grip my backside. He pulled me to him as his mouth opened farther, licking, and then sucking at me. He found a spot within that made me shiver uncontrollably, spasms racking my body. He rolled the flesh around with his tongue and then took it in his teeth to tug slightly.
I fell back against the bed, no longer able to hold myself up. I heard his moans echo over mine as he continued to feed from me. I arched my back again and again, whispering his name. He would stop often. I knew he was watching my body as it gave itself to him, wanting more.
“You must give me what I need. I need to taste all of you.”
His tongue pushed in farther, lapping inside my secret place. I wanted so much to please him. His fingers stimulated the flesh his tongue had given so much attention. He worked with gentle force. More spasms took hold of me as an eruption began to form, working from his tongue and fingers up to my brain.
He sucked at me, stopping long enough to beg, “Give me what I need.”
When his tongue entered again, my body gave in. I felt a rush, every cell exploding.
I screamed helplessly as my body shook. My wetness appeased him as he licked at me, moaning. Tremors continued with every touch from his mouth.
“Oh, yes, you taste so sweet.” I stared up at the fabric of the canopy, feeling the tears in my eyes for the first time. His face soon filled my vision as he lay beside me.
“Now you know, Cecilia, of the kind of pleasure you brought me.” He smiled softly. “Giving you that gives me great pleasure as well.”
He nodded. “Will you share my bed with me tonight?”
I found my way under the covers with him and slept, expecting to be happily awakened by his craving. But he slumbered soundly, holding me in his embrace until morning.
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