Thanksgiving was upon us before we were really ready. It was our first holiday where all the families were going to be together and it was time to tell everyone our news. It wouldn't be much longer before George and I started to show. We were already wearing our skirts without buttoning the side button and blousing out our tops but that wasn't going to work much longer.
We'd gone to shop in Littleton and the selection of maternity clothes was horrible. George declared that we'd have to run up to Manhattan to find the flattering styles. Since I'd finally finished having morning sickness, I had more energy for shopping. Dad and Ned were both busy with the new house and a series of law cases that took most of their attention.
But George and I knew that we were always first with them, the same way that they were first with us. The old gods had done a wonderful thing in bringing us together and I said a little prayer to them every night when we all lay in our big bed, wrapped around each other. I didn't know if our dreams were another gift from them but several times we spent a week or longer dreaming of past lives.
In every one, we were together in some form or fashion.
The Duke and his Elizabeth still made appearances every few weeks, a little further along in their lives. It turned out that I was their son, William and George had appeared as the infant daughter of the nearby Earl of Essex. It was like being in the best kind of movie where the events unfold around you and you can hardly wait to see the next part. I discovered that Ned was keeping a journal of our dreams and I thought that an excellent idea so I started keeping one also.
If nothing else, I could use the plot of our former lives to write a novel. It would be a best seller and probably banned in Boston. I liked that idea a lot and so did George when I told her. She teased me about taking notes when we made love and I just batted my eyelashes at her and said 'of course, I was'. A tickle attack usually followed after that and sometimes the men would join in.
I was still a slut and still the most satisfied woman in America.
But back to the dinner preparations, I scolded myself. We were having it here at the town house because there wasn't the chance that one of the parents might see something they shouldn't. Here the bedrooms showed only what we wanted them to find, one man and one woman in each suite. The clothes that Ned left in my room and the ones that George left in Dad's room showed us as the perfect married couples we were.
And we really were, I laid another place at the dining room table that had all three leaves in place. Perfectly normal and perfectly satisfied with our lovers, I smiled at the crystal wine glasses that glowed in the early morning light. The table was going to look beautiful and the scent of roast turkey was already wafting through the air from Hannah's kitchen.
"Hey, beautiful," George's arms slid around me. I leaned back into her and shivered when she kissed behind my ear. "Hm, much as I'd like to take you back to bed, I think we'd better finish the table and start shredding cabbage. Hannah promised to make that sumptuous coleslaw of hers."
"Oh, yum," I licked my lips. "She's making lots, right?"
"If we shred and dice, she'll make extra just for us." George bit my ear lobe gently and then released me. "Nancy, you think they'll take the news well, don't you?"
I looked into her eyes and saw a hint of fear there. Drawing her close and resting my forehead against hers, I kissed her gently. "They're going to be ecstatic. Gloria and Evelyn are going to go into baby mode and I can just see the booties being knitted as we speak."
She chuckled. "I hope you're right. Mother is kind of touchy about getting older and having a grandchild will be a big shove in that direction."
I snickered. "Just remind her that Dad is going to become a grandfather at almost the same moment he becomes a father again. That should reconcile her to the inevitable."
"Angels?" I heard Dad call us from the study. Arm in arm, we joined Ned and him in one of my favorite rooms of the house. We've always been readers in the Drew family and I was determined that the new children of the house would be, too. Ned agreed and had planned for a library twice the size of this one in our new home. The nursery already had bookcases in the making to go with the rocking chairs.
Every once in a while I could see myself rocking a baby in the old rocker that Dad was having refinished from his grandfather's time. It was old and a bit creaky but he'd rocked me in it for several years while reading me fairy tales and poetry from the books that he and Mom had picked out. I had only a vague memory of my mother rocking me in it while she sang lullabies to me.
All in all, it was a most necessary piece of furniture and I was glad that another generation was going to experience it.
********* Carson *********
The news was taken pretty well. I could see Robert trying to come to terms with his little girl having a baby. I understood completely and got him alone after dinner so we could talk. He's a good man but rather passive, understandable if you knew Gloria. It was easy to see that she was excited but torn between joy and dismay at this sign that her little girl was soon to join her as a parent.
I'd had longer to come to terms with it but I still paused now and then wishing that Nancy had had more time to be a young woman making her way in the world. More time to play at being an adult, I thought to myself in the still of the night when regrets can ambush you unawares.
"Carson, something happened on your trip." Robert looked shrewdly at me while we walked through the back yard. "The average citizen would say that you're still the same man who left on July 5th. But they'd be wrong. You've shed twenty years somehow. You move like Ned does. I was in court last week when you argued for Silas Wheaton and the DA didn't have a chance. The facts in your case were murky to say the least but you laid it out so even an idiot could see what should be decided."
We walked a little further, coming up to the fountain in the small herb garden that Barbara and I had made one weekend before Nancy was born. I didn't know what to say. But Robert wasn't finished quite yet.
"You've always been the best lawyer in the state. You advocate for those underdogs who usually have no voice in our legal system." He gazed at the empty fountain, drained for the winter, then back at me. "I'll not ask for details but is this change going to mean that you won't leave George a comparatively young widow?"
"I don't know what years I have left," I met his glance squarely. "But yes, I was given the gift of an . . . extended life. We were each of us given our heart's desire. Both Nancy and George wished for a life with children where they didn't have to give up their love."
He nodded sagely with a little quirk of an eyebrow. "Yes, I've known of their great and abiding . . . friendship. Gloria doesn't know and I don't think she needs to. This new house will keep you all quite safe, won't it? The children born there will have four loving parents instead of two."
"Yes, Robert." I smiled at the thought of the years to come. "They'll grow up happy and wanted and loved."
"No parent can ask for more," he looked around at the golden chrysanthemums that bordered the back fence. "But someday, I'd like the whole story even if it is fantastic."
It was my turn to nod. "I promise to tell you when the babies turn 21." He smiled more broadly and we turned to walk back to the house. "That's unless Nancy writes it down for her first novel." Looking up, I saw George at the back door, her figure outlined in shimmering gold. "Your daughter is one of the most magical women I've ever known. I promise that she'll be safe with me, Robert."
He smiled at her. "Of that, I have no doubt, Carson. Of all the men in the world, I know that she'll be happy with you and Nancy. The same way that Edward should know Ned will be safe with the pair of you."
While I was processing that amazing statement, Robert was hugging George. "Sweetheart, there's a nip in the air. Wear a sweater when you come outdoors. We wouldn't want the baby or you to catch a chill."
The rest of the day went quite well. The women vanished upstairs to see what clothes might be altered to fit over expanding waistlines while the men gathered in the living room to watch the obligatory football game on our new RCA television. Ned enjoyed watching sports so I'd gotten it for him only to find that I was soon addicted to the Perry Como Show on Wednesdays at 7:45.
Walter Cronkite also had a show called Open Hearing that produced thoughtful documentaries about our world. It was interesting to see the bigger picture about how America was seen by other nations. I thought this new medium might just surpass radio one of these days.
But finally our guests left and Hannah went to her rooms to rest. Once we were all in bed, I told them about Robert's concerns and surprising leap to conclusions. George promised to talk with him alone and make sure that he really was all right with our surprising quartet. Then we slowly made love to each other to celebrate this new phase in our lives.
Changing partners, I cuddled Ned close and thought about our new home. "Ned, do you think we'll be in by Christmas?"
"All the interior work won't be quite finished but the building inspector was out on Tuesday and he okayed all the services, electricity, water and gas. The kitchen is finished and Hannah's rooms are close to being done. The painters will be in next Monday." He looked over to the girls. "Guys, I think you should stay away for a week or so. It may be an old wives tale but one of the painters told me that paint fumes can cause miscarriages. In fact, it might be a good week for you to go into Manhattan to shop."
George smiled at him. "Better safe than sorry, Ned. Mom and Evelyn have already booked us into the Ritz for Monday through Thursday next week. We plan to lighten our bank accounts significantly."
I mock-groaned and Nancy stuck out her tongue at me. "Just keep it under ten thousand or so, please."
Both their eyes widened but Nancy spoke first. "That much, Dad? What did you do . . . rob a bank?"
I chuckled. "No, angels, I got five new clients last week who are paying hefty retainers for me to help them plan their trusts. I love the courtroom but I'm going to let Jimmy take the next few cases."
"He's working out, then?" Ned turned a little so he could see me.
"Jimmy reminds me of me about fifteen years ago." I admitted, thinking about the young firebrand I'd taken into the firm. "He doesn't always look before he leaps but he's learning and the next few cases should either prove his mettle or let him fail without too many repercussions for our clients. I think he'll succeed."
"Well, he's learning from the best, Carson." George smiled at me and I blushed a bit.
That was always good to hear, especially from someone I loved. "It's time I cut back my caseload a little so I can spend more time with my very own angels."
Everyone chuckled and we traded goodnight kisses before the girls left for their room. I could hardly wait for us to move into our new home, where the master and mistress bedrooms had king-sized beds. I loved having room to move without worrying about kicking someone off the mattress. Ned told me that he had a surprise of me in the master suite but he wouldn't tell me what it was.
Not even after tickling him silly would he give me a hint. But for now, I snuggled him close and closed my eyes to sleep.
Little Will was staggering towards me, his carved wooden duck clutched firmly in one baby hand and the other flailing away to help him keep his balance. Every time I have to leave to follow the King, I miss a little more of his childhood. This last month had been spent in Hampton Court, a little manor house that he was adding on to for his retreat from pestilent London.
The meetings had been long and boring but necessary to keep the rest of the nobility in line with his reforms. The only compensation was the growing friendship between me and the Earl of Essex. Richard had a new wife and a one-year old daughter he was enamored of. We exchanged stories about our families, both having endured frigid marriages planned by our fathers and both having selected new wives whom we loved.
One evening, when we were in our cups, we pledged our children to each other. Looking at Will now, I hoped that Richard's daughter was being raised with the same love and care that we were lavishing on our son. He finally reached me with a beaming smile and a soft kiss to my cheek while I praised him to the skies for his long walk.
********* Ned *********
I watched Peter playing with our son and wondered if now would be a good time to tell him that I was carrying another child. I'd rather suspected it when I missed my menses just before he left. We'd made love fervently once we knew he would have to leave to be with the King. I expect it was right here in the heart of the maze where our new babe was conceived.
"Sweetheart, you are very pensive." Peter sat beside me on the stone bench with Will in his arms. "Is there something wrong?"
He knows me very well indeed. "Nothing wrong, my love, just some news that I hope will make you as happy as it has made me." I took a deep breath and smiled at him. "Agatha says that I am with child again."
His eyes widened but then the biggest smile I've ever seen grew on his dear face. "Beloved Elizabeth, you have made me the happiest of men." He leaned in and kissed me while Will giggled at his silly parents.
I savored the hard kiss, leaning into it and suddenly wishing we were alone so we could make love again. Like before, I wanted my Peter insatiably. When we broke apart to breathe, the same fire was in his eyes. "Elizabeth, I think perhaps we should retire to celebrate this wonderful news. Agatha, would you please take young Will for a snack in the nursery?"
My maid and confidante smiled slyly but curtseyed to him and took Will up into a fond hold. Now that he was almost a year old, he was a much bigger armful than when he was just a baby. He was still breastfeeding a little but with his teeth coming in, we were weaning him to more solid foods. His father's nips at my nipples were quite unlike our son's accidental scrapes.
Rising from the bench, Peter held out his hand and kissed mine sweetly. Leading me through the maze, he told me in soft words that reached only me what he was going to do to me this warm afternoon. We were walking rather quickly when we reached the manor house and we stole up the back stairs to the bedroom floor while Agatha took the baby into the kitchen.
Once in our bed chamber, he stripped me out of my summer dress while I unfastened the pearl buttons of his linen shirt. His breeches were hastily shoved to the slate floor then he picked me up, kissing me all the while he laid me down in our featherbed and followed me in. The feel of his skin against mine is always wondrous and today was no exception. His skin slid across mine, the hair on his chest tickling my nipples to hard peaks. His lips slid from mine to smooth a path down to my aching breasts and he carefully nursed there for a long moment.
I don't know who feels more cherished when he does that, him or me? I just know that I crave his touch at all times and he craves me, too. I was the luckiest woman in England to have such a caring husband. Now that I was almost seventeen and had met more of the nobility, I knew that he was the exception to the rule that men are uncaring beasts to their wives.
His lips had reached my belly and he whispered to our new child the same words of love that he spoke to me. "Little one, you will be born to the most wonderful woman in the world. Your mama is sweet, kind and loving. We already love you and can't wait for you to be born. Now go to sleep while your father makes mad, passionate love to your mama."
I laughed and stroked my fingers through his long black hair. "I've been telling her that since I first suspected that I might be pregnant. Except that I told her that her papa is the wisest, most caring and adoring man in all of England."
He chuckled and slid between my legs to tongue that little spot that nestled in my blonde curls and made me tingle all over. I arched my back at the wonderful feeling, spreading my legs to coax him inside. It didn't matter that he'd already taken me once today, I needed him again.
We kept a bottle of sweet timothy oil by our bed. The apothecary in the village was run by the Widow Sawgrass and she made sure that we always had some on hand. She thought I used it on my body and she was partially right. After Will was born and we'd begun making love again, Peter had introduced me to a different position. He wanted me to have a rest and not get pregnant again right away.
He'd told me that his mother had died too young, birthing stillborn baby after baby. She was only 28 when she passed on and he firmly believed that his father had simply worn her out. That would not be happening to me and I acquiesced since the new caress had proven to feel very, very different than simple fucking. The first time he slid an oiled finger into my back passage; I'd tightened up and frozen.
But he just waited me out and gradually, I relaxed enough so he could move it in and out. While tonguing me almost to climax, he'd worked two fingers inside of me then gave me release. For the next few days, he'd patiently gotten me more and more ready until I finally was loosened enough to take his cock inside of me in that new place. It had hurt for a long time but I kept telling myself that he loved me and was taking care of me.
Gradually, I'd grown accustomed to the new position and with his cock behind me and his fingers inside of me; I finally began to enjoy making love again. Agatha had warned me that cleanliness was important when taking his shaft there so Widow Sawgrass had made up a kind of douche with which I could clean myself out before we made love. Peter approved wholeheartedly and spoke of a brief liaison with a childhood friend who'd fought with him in France.
There were no women on the battlefield and he had experimented with male to male loving with his friend. It's how he knew about this particular position and I couldn't be jealous since it had kept him from getting the 'French Disease' that had infected some of the soldiers and through them their wives. He'd shuddered when speaking of the sores and foul discharge that afflicted one of his friends.
I was a very lucky woman to have such a knowledgeable and caring husband. I said prayers daily for the childhood friend who'd helped him through their battles only to succumb to the plague that hit London five years ago. But all thoughts of him faded when I felt Peter's large shaft nudge my opening and begin to forge its way towards my molten core.
Groaning at the blissful feeling, I almost shrieked when I felt his oily thumb pop into my back chamber. I was full everywhere and when he leaned in to tongue my nipple, I felt it leaking milk again. He sucked hard on the tight bud and rocked deeper and deeper into my body. I wrapped my legs tight around his waist and ran my nails up his arms to the broad shoulders looming over me.
He liked the scratching so I made sure that I tenderly plucked at his own flat brown nipples while he caught his breath. His eyes were hot and the smile on his face was lusty. "Dearest Elizabeth, now that you're with child, we can go back to all day fucking without the need for oil."
I arched again and thought about the fullness behind me. "Indeed we can, sweet Peter, but I do not wish to give up having you within my other channel completely. I think when the new baby grows too big for me to take you where you are now, you could keep making love to me behind."
He pulled out a little then thrust back in, his thumb wriggling a little while his fingers tickled my skin. "I think you are right, sweetheart. Thank you for the gift of your love, Elizabeth. You are a Queen among women to be so open to our lovemaking."
A rhythm was emerging between our bodies that moved with one goal in mind - a celebration of the new life we'd created. She had been loved from the moment she was conceived and she always would be.
I woke up long enough to feel Carson spooning behind me before falling back to sleep. Elizabeth was an amazing woman and I was kind of looking forward to living through another pregnancy. I could hardly wait to see what was next in store for our growing family.
The end of part 4