"Susanna" Chapter 5 - One Night
by Beth

On Friday morning, Edward awakened bright and early. He flexed his shoulder
and winced at the pain. Still, there was no doubt it was more manageable
today. He dressed quickly and went downstairs. He had been hoping to find
Susanna or Lord Fairchild still at the breakfast table. But, Susanna had gone
out for a morning walk and Lord Fairchild was nowhere to be seen. He sent
Henson off to fetch Mr. Hornblower or Mr. Bracegirdle and to convey a message
to Admiral Winslow. Back up in his room, and at his desk, he stared out at
the harbour. There she was, his beautiful ship, lying in wait for him. He
felt anxious and pensive. He tried to recall if there had ever been a time
when he had been so close to her, and yet so far away. He could not think of
one. He heard a rustle behind him, and saw Susanna standing at the back of
the room, staring at him. He went to her quickly. She smelled of sunshine,
flowers and walks by the sea and looked radiant. He leaned in to kiss her and
she responded, eagerly at first. Then she drew back and stared intensely into
his eyes.

"Is something wrong, my dear?" He asked.

"No, my darling. I am just so relieved to see you looking so well this
morning. It is a glorious day -- perhaps we could take a walk together, later
on?"

"Yes, perhaps. I mean, that would be nice, of course, my dear! I am awaiting
Mr. Hornblower, or, Mr. Bracegirdle, and I have sent word to the Admiral - -"

At that moment Mr. Bracegirdle arrived. He greeted Susanna enthusiastically,
as ever. As she took her leave, she heard Mr. Bracegirdle mention something
about the Admiral and an urgent dispatch. Something was up, to be sure. It
was more than that, though. It was the look she had seen in Edward's eyes as
she caught him staring out the window -- - that longing, and restlessness. It
was possible that the time had come, she reckoned. Time for him to return to
where he belonged. Was he ready for it? He still favored his shoulder, and
there was no doubt that he was thinner. How he would possibly gain back any
weight while on board ship was anyone's guess. Would he manage to get enough
rest so as to fully recover? No, most likely not. But then, would he be able
to stand being cooped up here much longer - that was another easy answer.

She went out into the garden and sat under a shade tree with her quill and
several sheets of paper. She had long owed a letter to Edward's Mother, and
to his sisters. She might as well see to them now. She certainly had no
shortage of news to tell them. She was about halfway through the second one,
when Lady Fairchild hurried out to find her. The Admiral's Attach had just
arrived. It seemed that the Captain was urgently required at Admiralty House.
She rushed into the house and made it to the foyer just as Edward and Mr.
Bracegirdle were descending the stairs.

"Ah, my dear, here you are," he said as he saw her. "I am required at
Admiralty House urgently. I trust I shall not be too long, but will send word
if I learn otherwise." He seemed rather energized, reaching for his hat, and
tucking it under his arm.

Bracegirdle went out ahead of them, just in case the couple needed a few
private moments.

"But, Edward, the carriage ride, are you sure you feel up to it?" The worry
in her voice must have irritated him, but she did not care. "You have not yet
been out of the house, you know!"

"I shall be fine, I assure you." He stopped and turned to her, embracing her
shoulders. "You have nothing to worry about any longer" He smiled and kissed
her quickly, and was out the door. She watched as Bracegirdle assisted him up
the steps into the coach and then they were off.

Suddenly she felt as though she had been dashed to the depths of despair.
Dear God, was there another urgent top secret mission ahead? Just like the
last disastrous one? What if he sped off again as he had in London -
straightaway from Admiralty House? He could not do that. He would not.
Besides, Henson was still here.

Thank goodness Lady Fairchild found her pacing aimlessly through the hall.
She could sense that Susanna was troubled, and not only that, she, as usual,
had a bit of news to tell. They returned to the peace of the garden.

"My Dear, I have just heard from my husband that there is perhaps at long
last a development in this despicable war!" She drew a breath. Breathing was
always the hard part when one had so much news to report, and a most captive
audience. "It seems that His Majesty is prepared to send a group of envoys
over to Paris. My dear, the rumour is that England is at long last
entertaining the possibility of formally recognizing this Citizens'
government or whatever it is they're calling it. They intend to possibly
restore diplomatic relations and attempt to reach a treaty of peace! Can you
imagine it! Such a so called civilized country and they shall never have
another king. Just like those backwoods Americans, no doubt. Do you know, my
dear, I really think those Americans are to blame for so much of this
nonsense, they're the one behinds this chaos in France. Don't you think,
Susanna?"

But Susanna was only partly listening to the prattling by this point. Could
this envoy be the reason Edward had been called to the Admiralty? Well, of
course they would leave out of Plymouth, that made perfect sense. And they
would want safety in numbers no doubt, so obviously there would be other
ships along as well. And for negotiations on a peace treaty! Oh, thank the
Lord. Perhaps the end was truly in sight. Susanna nodded along as Lady Anne
rattled on with the rest of her speculations on what was ëreally going on.'
Susanna never once mentioned Edward's meeting, but Lady Anne seemed content
to be the sole informer.

After lunch, with Lady Anne, and thank God, Lucy and her mother, who joined
them as well, Susanna and Lucy took a long walk along the garden paths.
Susanna mentioned what Lady Anne had told her, and Lucy added that Howard,
who sat in Parliament, had said something about this latest effort as well.
He was not as forthcoming with the details as Lord Fairchild had been. Sir
Howard had a very reserved approach when it came to females and what
information they might be permitted to know. Lucy did not seem to mind or,
perhaps even realize this. It would, however, have driven Susanna mad to have
had a husband such as Sir Howard. She had to stifle a giggle when she
recalled past visits with them. Whether during their ride home, or when at
last they were alone in bed, she would pester Edward relentlessly for
whatever news Howard had imparted to him that was not, he would whisper,
suitable for the ladies.

Edward arrived back at the Lord Mayor's just in time for dinner. Lucy and
Howard had been invited to stay, along with Aunt Elizabeth. Sir Howard
sought out Edward when he entered the drawing room, and Susanna took note of
the fact that Edward seemed eager to speak with him as well. Normally, Edward
thought Howard Fellowes was one of the more boring, but obviously
non-negotiable, members of Susanna's family --owing of course to her
closeness to Lucy and Elizabeth. They were out of the room for some time.
That settles it, thought Susanna. He is leaving me -- most likely as early as
tomorrow morning. He was involved in this mission, it was all adding up now.
She stepped away for a moment to find Eliza. She wanted her to find out
whatever she could about any arrangements that had been made for the Captain.
It wasn't that she thought Edward would not tell her - no doubt he would tell
her everything. But what if he did not have the chance to?

Dinner went on usual in the Fairchild residence. Lord and Lady Fairchild
held back a bit on conversation, no doubt thanks to Sir Howard, Susanna noted
with frustration. Every so often Edward would stare at her with a look in his
eyes as though he had something important to tell her, and then one of them
would get drawn into the stilted chatter. After dinner, as the men headed
off to the Lord Fairchild's study for their brandies, Susanna overheard
Edward excuse himself. He said that his shoulder was bothering him a bit, and
that, as they would of course, understand, he did have some matters to see
to. She could not make out the rest of the conversation, as the other ladies
had apparently just discussed something outrageously funny and were ablaze
with laughter. Susanna found a way to excuse herself and went up the stairs.
She stopped in her room first and took something from her trunk. She drew in
a deep breath and knocked on Edward's door.

"Come," he said, sounding distracted.

As she entered the room he was leaning over the desk sorting out dispatches.
He had taken off his frock coat, and put on his dressing gown, perhaps to
ease the chill in the room. He did not turn around, obviously lost in his
paperwork, so she walked towards him, her papers in hand.

"You must think me such a fool. I had completely forgotten to give these to
you, my dear." She said nervously.

He turned around and looked at her, totally confused. So confused that he
forgot to launch right into what he had wanted to tell her earlier. "What are
you talking about, my dear?"

"The sketches!Emma's sketches. I promised her I would get them to you. !.I
thought I had better remember them now, so you would have them when you leave
tomorrow."

"Thank you!.they are lovely, aren't they? My dear, I am afraid that I must be
off tomorrow. You knew it was going to be soon and so ---" he stopped and
stared at her incredulously. "What did you just say?"

"I know about the envoys, my dear. Perhaps there is at last some hope for
peace - so that is a good thing then, I expect." She continued. "As for you
-- your leaving tomorrow, well, I just knew!I have known it since this
morning, I think."

She smiled softly although she looked away. Edward came to her. Gently, he
softly cupped her cheek in his hand and turned her face to his.

"How?" He whispered. "How have you known?"

"I could see it in your eyes, my dear... this afternoon, when you were
worried and yet so excited to rush to the Admiral's side. But mostly I saw it
in the steady gaze you cast out toward the harbour this morning. I have
recalled nothing else today but that look of longing on your face" She took
a breath, and steadied herself. This was a point she needed to make. "I have
lived with that look for some time now. Edward, when I married you, I know
that I also married the sea, and your ship, both underscored with your vow
of duty, Sir. I ... I know that... I have always known that. I hope, I
pray, that you have known it as well."

Edward could but stare in loving awe at her. "Oh my love," he murmured,
pulling her close and stroking her hair. "My dearest love."

She drew back for a moment and gazed up at him. "Please, Edward, grant me
but one thing," she asked him.

He answered her gaze with question in his piercing eyes.

"Please, give me tonight... It has been so long since we have been,...
together...., my love. To have been so close to you these past few days, to
have nursed you so tenderly and seen you through the worst. And now, to have
you so nearly recovered, and yet, to not have had you sir, as my husband, as
my lover, is very nearly too much to bear-"

In an instant she was caught up in his arms and in the throes of his most
potent kiss. Any doubts she may have had about his wish to perhaps return to
his ship even tonight, were swiftly dashed away with the searching and
searing force of his lips on hers. Edward finally drew back and gazed again
at the longing in her eyes. How deeply he loved her - and how blessed in this
life he was to have found such a soulmate and lover.

"My Lady," he whispered, "I know I should be the gallant husband here, the
ardent lover. Dear God, I nearly feel as I did on our wedding night! I know
my chivalrous duty is to lift you up right here and now, and carry you off
to the bed with such a flourish, and as much, as sincerely, as I wish I could
-"

She laughed softly. "Dear Edward, you do me such honor!. No, my dearest I
do not think your shoulder is quite ready for that much exertion. Indeed we
shall have to take some care!you understand!"

She smiled then and looked down for a moment, and as she did, Edward gently
lifted her chin towards him so their eyes met again. Softly and achingly
slowly, he once more began to kiss her. Susanna returned his kiss haltingly,
trying desperately to hold back the overwhelming passion rising up in her
body. He drew back, with the same look of restrained passion all over his
face. With a knowing simile she led him to her bedchamber, delighting further
in the fact that there were no servants about. No doubt her subtle request to
Eliza to suggest an early night to Mr. Henson had been heeded. Well done! In
an instant they were in her bedroom behind closed doors.

As Edward closed the door behind them, Susanna stepped over to stoke the
fire. A brief burst of light filled the room as she overturned the smoldering
coals and coaxed forth a flame or two. It was just enough to take the slight
chill from the room and envelope the couple in golden warmth. Edward had
taken off his dressing gown and draped it gently over the chair. He came up
behind her and wrapped his arms around her, gently brushing aside her long
beautiful hair, and slowly he began to softly kiss the nape of her neck.
Susanna sighed as his touch sent waves of another kind of fire through her
body. As she turned to face him, she was overjoyed with the look of desire
she saw burning in his eyes. He caressed the curve of her face, the outline
of her lips, all the while staring softly but directly into her eyes. It was
as if he wanted to pay homage to her beauty with his hands and his own
beautiful eyes. Neither of them seemed able to speak, yet Susanna ached to
reach for him. Edward held her firmly at bay a moment longer, seeming to know
the overwhelming effect of his restraint.

Finally, he relaxed his grip on her shoulder, and in an instant their lips
met in yet another rapturous, searching kiss. Edward pressed Susanna close
as he leaned down to kiss her throat, her neck, her earlobe, drinking in the
scent of her perfume. She could feel the hardness of his body against her as
they embraced, and another flush of heat stirred from deep within. She
reached up to undo his cravat and unbuttoned the top of his shirt. She slid
her hands inside to caress his chest and he sighed with delight. .

She reached up to Edward's face and cupped his cheek in her hand. Softly, in
a whisper, and with a bit of a tremble in her voice, she asked him if they
might not be more comfortable in bed. He nodded, in between still more
kisses. Suddenly she heard a soft knock on the antechamber door -- the room
leading to Eliza's room. Did she have some news? Susanna told him she would
just see to Eliza, and reluctantly, he released her. Eliza was meekly
awaiting her Lady - and was only there, as requested, to tell her what she
had found out from Peabody and Henson. Indeed the carriage had been ordered
for 7am to deliver Captain Pellew to the Port Admiral. What a wonder she was
- always getting the inside scoop! Now, Susanna was sure to have the whole
night with her beloved. Her skin was flushed and tingling. Quickly, she
undressed. She slipped her silk dressing gown on and loosely gathered the
sash at her waist. At last, with her heart pounding, she opened the door to
the bedchamber.

She could not help but smile when she saw Edward. He was already in bed,
waiting for her. He had undressed and turned down the comforter, with just
the sheet covering his naked body. The candle at her bedside fluttered as she
came closer, its flame bathing the room in a soft amber glow. He sat up
slightly as she came into the room, propped up on one elbow, and regarded her
there in the muted light. Susanna felt an intense rush of desire course
through her as she gazed upon her husband's golden body. He had given her
the assurance she had longed for and now she slowly undid the knot of her
gown. The silk slid away to the floor. Edward gazed upon her with rapture, as
he did each and every time he beheld her body, the fullness of her breasts,
her slender waist and slim hips. He sat up to reach for her and in a moment
she was in his arms.

They made love, but so achingly and blissfully slowly. It was almost as if
they had never done so before. They savoured every second of sensation and
each inch of skin. Together they found enchanted and undiscovered nuances in
wonderfully familiar caresses. After, Edward slowly stopped rocking against
her and lay still, his head upon her breasts, their bodies still joined and
glistening. At last, he lifted his head from her breasts and moved up to kiss
her. He gazed into her eyes and saw his own serenity and gently smiled. As he
lay back against the pillows, Susanna moved in to rest her head on his
shoulder.

Slowly, Susanna turned to lean onto Edward's chest. She softly caressed the
furrow in his brow, and the outline of his face, as if to etch his face at
this tender moment firmly into her memory. All the while he gazed gently upon
her and then broke into an exhausted but beautiful smile. She leaned in to
kiss him, but he seemed to also just want to stare at her, perhaps for the
same reason. Susanna suddenly felt shy and started to blush.

"Why do you stare at me so?" She whispered.

Edward reached up and pulled her down underneath him.

"You are, so beautiful...," he whispered. "I love you so much."

"Oh, my love.." She whispered, and gently stroked his cheek.

They nestled within their embrace. Sated and secure in each other's arms,
they drifted off to sleep. First, Edward, as the inevitable exhaustion from
his injury seemed at last to take its toll. Once she knew he was asleep,
Susanna sat back up to gaze upon him. So at peace, so utterly disarmed, with
not a sign of the momentous journey he would so shortly begin. She felt a
tear well up in her eyes as she softly stroked his hair. Her touch did not
wake him, but even in sleep he reached to curl her in closer to his body. His
instinctive reaction touched Susanna to her very soul and she closed her
eyes. The rhythm of their lovemaking washed over her like a wave and lulled
her to sleep. In a few more hours Edward would be back in uniform, in his
coach, on the way to his other mate. She knew that. But, she was contented.
He had given her everything he could these past few days - every part of
himself but that he must save for his ship, for his men. It was as much as
she could have wished for, and more.


"Oh, the rhythm of my heart,
is beating like a drum,
with the words "I love you"
rolling off my tongue.
No, never will I roam,
for I know my place is home.
Where the ocean meets the sky,
I'll be sailing!."


END