the duke and i | m ; f
“The Duke of Hastings can show you much more than what you write of.”
oneshot | bridgerton! au | f2l! au | 32.3k words
s u m m a r y >> wishing to be a successful writer in the regency period seemed next to impossible for the sole daughter of a dead earl. with arising pressures from your mother to tie the knot, you turn to your dearest friend, hwang hyunjin, duke of hastings and the most eligible, scandalous bachelor of the season, for assistance. when he suggests the insane of idea of marrying each other to help each other, you agree to the proposal, unaware of how much the duke can teach you of the wonders of matrimony.
w a r n i n g s >> noble! reader, duke! hyunjin, hyunjin is a fucking rake, reader is a fucking nerd, also really really innocent, hyunjin is sosososo hot, a lot of teasing, foul language too, endearments, sexual tension, kissing, making out, corruption kink!!!!! corruption! fucking! kink! oral (f. receiving) fingering, unprotected sex (stay safe hoemies!!) orgasming on multiple occasions, there is fluff i promise, yes there is angst, also seungmin cameo of him being a drunk fool, and slight references to regency poets and writers here and there
p l a y l i s t >> here!
t a g l i s t >> @fivefootfuryanon @h0eforhyunjin16 @seoulicitae @linoscult @aliceu @hwangi @shipsaremything98 @babyyynatty @kabira @danyxthirstae01 @sunseokkies @lunefilm @severetimetravelnerd @minaamhh @starry--koo @ninjaleeknow @hyunjeonnies @inlovewithasa @titleisyettobemade @maedesculpaeusoubi @fleeingreality @healinghyunjin
a u t h o r ’ s n o t e >> help i am back from the dead to finally give you bridgerton! hyunjin!! big apologies for taking so long, and i hope you enjoy this whopper :’) thank you for the constant support, and hope you won’t miss me too much while i’m gone ;)
back to masterlist
YOU TURNED THE PAGE OF YOUR BOOK AS YOUR MOTHER REPEATED THE RULES FOR THE TWENTIETH TIME THAT EVENING.
“And remember,” she droned on, voice barely audible from the din of the carriage ricketing across the cobblestone. “You must dance with as many dukes you can get your hands on. Especially those worth over 10,000 a year!”
“As you say, Mama,” you got out, not particularly focusing on her orders, but the characters in your novel, bickering sweetly with each other. You smiled at the heated conversation, marvelling at how the two people did not realise their undying love for each other.
Unfortunately, your mother caught the slight happiness on your face, and simply had to stample it. “Are you even listening to me, child?”
You hummed out a cryptic answer, but that was not enough. “Stop reading that rubbish, ____!” she ordered, trying to seize it from your hands, but you were too quick, keeping it out of her range. “You have a bigger issue at hand here!”
“Leave me be,” you murmured, hugging the novel to your chest, unable to feel its leather due to your long gloves enveloping your fingers.
Of course you knew of the ‘bigger issue’ she would not ever stop speaking of. It was another matter entirely that you did not care for it.
“____, listen to me.”
Groaning, you directed your gaze towards your mother, who looked regal in a light golden gown, shawl enveloping her shoulders. “I know you would much rather have your nose stuck in those silly little novels of yours all day, God knows why.” She brought a hand out, planting it on the silk of your lap. “But that may have been excusable before.”
You understood where she was going with this conversation.
Your father is dead now.
Pursing your lips, you looked out to the tiny window, exposing the other carriages closing up to the huge pathway of the Buckingham estate. The clattering of horseshoes upon the gravel entered your ears, but still could not blank out the information that lingered.
There is no hope for single women in search of a career. Especially if they have no fathers or brothers.
As your own vehicle came to a rest, behind the dozens of others, you held onto your book, a footman opening the door and holding his hand out to your mother. She taking it, you followed suit, dusting away at the dress and tilting your head upwards at the destination.
The Duke of Buckinghamshire could rival the queen herself with his estate — the faded, grey-red brick was alight, orchestral music tuning outside and seducing the guests to enter. Hundreds of windows plastered on the towering walls gave a glimpse of the chaos residing inside, a few couples leaning a little too close behind fans on the sill and men screaming over card game losses. A flourish of men and women adorned in their finest attire rushed to the entrance, the gigantic double doors of the manor welcomed every guest, and you stayed close with your mother as the two of you made your way up the steps, and into the estate.
The interior was even more marvellous — golden chandeliers dangled from the vast, painted ceiling, like glittering diamonds as it shed light on the hallway, servants ready to take any apparel and lead the way to the ballroom. Marble floors glistened as your eyes skimmed over the crowd, looking for a specific person among the riches.
Your mother, finding the host of this ball, patted your shoulder as she began to hurry into the main hall. “Come, my child,” she said as she tugged you along, “I shall reacquaint you with Her Grace.”
Before you could object, the woman rushed into the ballroom, the music louder as the orchestra resided right at the end of the hall, playing its sultry tune to the dancers emerging in the centre. You wished to study the place further, but were turned to face a large duchess of overwhelming dress, red skirts flowing and feathers of the same colour jutting out from her updo.
“Ah, Lady ____!” the Duchess of Buckingham greeted with a shark’s smile. “Lovely to see you back in society. So soon, might I add.”
You had a right mind to say that it was against your wishes, but your mother chipped in, “You know how it is, Your Grace. When one has an unmarried daughter one can only stay in society until that is undone.”
“Rightly so.” the Duchess brought her fan to her chin, studying you thoroughly. “My sweet, you are a pretty girl.” Her eyes landed on the book you held. “But bringing a novel into a ballroom? Do you not wish to socialise at all?”
“Perhaps not tonight,” you said with as much disappointment as you could muster. “The Dashwood sisters will entertain me well enough.”
The Duchess could not respond as you bowed lightly and left your mother’s side, rushing past the other men and women of titles before they could converse with you. Your eyes skimmed the crowd, in search of a particular man, but the amount of guests made it incredibly difficult.
The dancing continued on, laughter ringing throughout the hall as you secluded yourself in a corner, next to the refreshments. The wondrous scent of cakes, pastries and other deserts seduced your senses, but you restrained your temptations as you sat upon an ornate chair placed beside the tables of food.
An unfamiliar lord, as if waiting for you to be at peace, walked over to your side, and you had to contain your disdain as you instantly deduced the motivations behind his coming over.
Reaching out his gloved hand to you, he asked the most irritable question.
“May I have the first dance with you, my lady?”
Brilliant. You looked up at him, plastering a tight smile upon your face. “I deeply apologise, sir,” you began, opening your book. “I am afraid my firsts are promised to another.”
Confused, he tried again. “How about the next dance, then?”
Why was he being so persistent? “I shall see,” you replied, not outright rejecting him, but hoping that he understood the implications behind your lack of acceptance.
Beyond puzzled, he hesitantly dipped his head in adieu, wondering at his rejection as he thankfully left you alone.
It was not like you were lying to him — your firsts for everything had been promised to another man. You were just fortunate enough to use that to your advantage.
Glancing over the crowd one last time in search of that particular man, you dove into the novel, hoping he stayed lost in the crowd for the night.
A sad smile exposed itself on your face.
The thought of Jane Austen gaining little acclaim for the writings in your hands crushed you. Maybe that contributed to her publishing anonymously, but still — everyone knew she was the lady behind your favourite works.
In general, there was simply no other form of joy for you other than reading the works of women. The soul of your gender had only ever been captured by the writings created by ladies of your age and mentality. It almost felt like you possessed a personal connection with them when you read these novels; It felt like that Austen understood you on an emotional level, a degree not many people could comprehend.
You dearly wished you could write such flawless books yourself.
A slight frown enveloped your lips.
As if your mother would let you. Or any man she marries you off to.
Progressing further into the novel, you became so engrossed that you did not notice another man walking to where you were isolated, the soft leather boots near silent on the marble floor. You wished you had perked up at his presence, but you did not realise him there until he got hold of your book.
And snatched it right out of your hands.
A gasp escaped you, features twisting into anger as your eyes followed the origins of such fingers, closing your novel with a snap!
“Of course I see you engrossed in a book rather than in another man’s arms.”
The roll of your eyes was inevitable.
Because before you was the Duke of Hastings, smiling like a pirate finding long-lost treasure.
Your answering grin was more a flash of teeth. “No man is ever as interesting as a good book.”
Clicking his tongue, he plucked a flute of champagne from the table next to you. In truth, Hwang Hyunjin, unfortunately, was one of the most fascinating men you had ever encountered. The greatest giveaway was his appearance — the lean, delicate figure, elevated by his gorgeous features. His eyes, the colour of bitter coffee, shone with mischief as the glass settled on his plush lips, tilting his head back so his lustrous golden curls fell from his shoulders.
His hair alone sent a shockwave through the city. The gentlemen in society spent their time in the barbers’ salons after his new appearance at Lord Lee’s spring ball, and although they aspired, they simply could not compete.
Your best friend was a sacred image no being could ever attempt to replicate.
Releasing a dreamy sigh, he propped the empty flute back on the table, dusting away at his cream-coloured tailcoat. The trousers of the same colour hugged his legs perfectly, tightening at his thighs. “Now, ____,” he began, holding out his free hand before you. “It is time for a human being to entertain you.”
You raised your chin in challenge. “And what if I were to say no?”
The scoff that escaped his lips dared you to try.
“You cannot escape me, angel. Alas, you have promised your firsts to me.”
Grimacing at the truth, you eyed the object he had seized from you, crossing your arms. “What about my novel?” you asked. “I cannot let you discard it in any old place.”
“How about this?” He took a step closer to you. “I will keep hold of it as we dance.”
“And how will you do that, blondie?”
The man narrowed his gaze at the term — a nickname you had established the moment he had revealed his golden locks to you, to his utter dismay. “Well, darling,” he mused, the hand hovering closer, “You are going to have to accept me first.”
First. Always him as your first.
Of course, you were never the one to refuse the Rake of London.
So, making sure you exaggerated as much disdain as you could, you grabbed onto his hand, feeling the determined tug of his hold as he led you to the dance floor. Finding a fairly empty spot among the dozens of other couples, he fully interlocked your fingers with his, snaking the book-held hand around your waist. Feeling the hard leather on your back, you let out a hum of approval as you propped your free hand on his shoulder.
“If you dare drop the book, Hyunjin,” you warned, digging your gloves further into the fabric. “I will tread on your boots.”
His answer was patting your prized possession behind your book. “You worry as if you don’t tread on them anyway.”
As the orchestra began, so did his feet, commencing the dance.
You saw his eyes wander, pausing at a particular image which made him smirk knowingly at you. “I think you should be worrying more about your mother.”
Fearful, you followed his line of sight. There she was, talking to the other countesses with smiles and frivolous laughter as she pointed to your general direction. Their sons pursued her finger, and as they caught sight of you, you gulped. A small chuckle huffed out of your partner. “I think I might see you engaged at the end of the evening.”
“Do not even utter such words!” you exclaimed. “I will either die a successful writer or die a spinster.”
“You do know you can be an author while you are married,” Hyunjin pointed out, turning you about the room.
Shaking your head at his statement, you countered, “That could not be further from the truth! Do you remember Lady Andrews?” An absent-minded shrug was his answer. “Well, she lives up north now, but she once confided to me that she wished to be a painter. Guess what happened to her?”
“I assume this is the part where you attack marriage.”
“Yes! Because her life was ruined after she was wedded to some wretched old viscount!” You shuddered depicting the details. “In the last letters she wrote to me, she spoke of her easels and paints being taken away from her. God, it enraged me when she begged the heavens for any kind of assistance to be rid of the man, but after she became with child, there was no escape.”
Sensing your fingers clenching onto him tighter, the duke instinctively patted the small of your back with your book. “I cannot risk such chains, Hyunjin,” you guttered. “I may not have much freedom now, but it is still better than none.”
Allowing yourself to be twirled by your friend, he brought you back into his arms. His silence, although heavy, was temporary, as his eyes settled on you. “Not every man wants to imprison their wife, ____.”
You did not bother remarking on the statement. “What about your own marital status?” you asked, changing the subject slightly. “Have you not found yourself a nice girl from the many you speak to?”
Hyunjin scoffed. “Speak to,” he parroted softly, as if in disbelief. “The ladies that I...merely speak to...their families are a nightmare.” The repetition confused you, but you persisted until he pressed his lips in an unamused line. “I just...do not want to marry these women. I do not feel any sort of affection for them.”
After a moment of quiet, you let out a huff of laughter. “Look at us, blondie.” You gestured to the crowds around the two of you, the chaos of it all. “Both of us are plagued by pressures of matrimony.”
The music began its path to the crescendo, instruments sounding louder with every second your feet moved in tune to your friend’s. “It seems the value our freedoms too much to sacrifice it forever.”
He did not respond, eyes lost beyond you and the entire ball. His fingers upon yours tightened slightly, feeling the drum of his hands reverberating upon the book latched on your back. You cocked your head slightly, studying his faraway expression, wondering what matter had gained his interest so deeply. It was not an easy feat to gain Hyunjin’s attention.
As the violins sang out higher, the man’s grip on you loosened, almost as he became transported in his mind, losing all grasp on the reality he shared with you. Only when you smacked him lightly on the shoulder did he blink back, staring at you with mild irritation. “Hello?” you said, waving your gloved hand over his face. “Earth to Hyunjin?”
“Ah, um...sorry, angel,” he muttered, looking away as he picked up the pace of the dance once more. “I was just thinking.”
“Of what?” you asked, and when you caught the hesitancy in his gaze you groaned at him. “Oh, do not tell me you are thinking of some poor lady once again!”
“No!” he began, but then he frowned, shaking his head. “Well, yes, I...I suppose I was thinking of a certain lady.”
You grinned. “God help her, then.”
There was another moment of quiet among the buzz of the ball when he spoke again. “____.”
Your stare remained on his face. “Yes?”
As you kept watching him, you witnessed a slight blush arise on his cheeks. “So, um...as you said, correctly, that we both highly value our freedom…”
Not quite understanding, you drawed, “Yes?”
“And of course, you know how we are the best of friends,” he carried on, eyes boring into you, as if you were some child who needed extra explanation. “You know, how everything I would ask of you would be in our best interests.”
A raised brow was your response to his rambling. “Hyunjin…what is the matter?”
He stopped, realising he could not meander any further. Sharp sigh escaping, he proposed a plan which had been haunting his mind since the dance.
“I think you should marry me, angel.”
The words caused you to still completely. Not a very wise decision, considering the dance was still in motion, resulting in Hyunjin stumbling forward into you. His tugging hands had you continuing, albeit with much more shock.
“What…” your insides threatened to retch out of your mouth. “What did you just say?”
“No, no, listen to me for a moment!” He clamped his lips together, searching for the right words to argue his point with. “Now I know marriage is something you have disliked—”
“Dislike?” A scoff. “I think you mean absolutely detest!” You saw him almost flinch at your snarl. “How dare you even suggest such a thing to me?!”
“I know, damn it!” he exclaimed, discomfort clear in his voice. “But if you would hear me out!”
“And what is this plan you speak of, Hyunjin?” you seethed, suddenly tempted to ram your heeled slipper into his boot.
The man looked much in need of escape from this situation, but he merely twirled you about once more, the climax of the music about to begin. “I am very aware of your hatred against matrimony, and believe me when I say that I share in your disdain. Have I not complained of the very ceremony when mothers from every corner of London came to insist for their daughters’ hands?
Grumbling, you nodded. “Exactly, so obviously I must have a good reason why I spoke of this matter.”
“Well, spit it out, then!” you snapped. “It already sounds outrageous.”
With the instruments chanting louder, he commenced. “We both have a dilemma with marriage, especially concerning the burden. Your biggest problem is the freedom being taken from you. Mine is having to live with a woman I have no feelings towards.”
He continued, feet moving quicker and quicker to the melody of the music. “But see, if we wed each other, then those problems would be solved instantly!”
You looked at him as if he was insane. “You do realise that I would still be married. My scrap of independence would be snatched from me anyway.”
“That would be true if you were marrying some silly old lord, who had no interest in you other than your titles.”
His hand on your back pulled you a little closer. “But you see, angel, you would be marrying me.”
Around and around, the two of you whirled, never stopping for a second to the music. “And you have known me long enough to know that I would never stop you from pursuing your passions.”
Higher the melody climbed, lost to your ears as your eyes widened.
His words rang through you with every note that escaped the instruments, sailing through the crescendo that washed over the ball. “You...you would let me write?”
Hyunjin furrowed your brows. “Did you think any different?” he asked, quite offended by your surprise. “Did you really expect that kind of behaviour from me?”
You did not hide your fears. “You may be my dearest friend, but you are still a man.”
That had him twisting his mouth into a scowl. His hands on you clenched harder. “You know me better than that, darling.”
You did, in fairness. The Duke of Hastings, leading you along this dramatic waltz, had been a constant in the entirety of your life. It was in these very balls that he had happened to stumble upon you, a child barely touching your second decade with a children’s book buried in your face. He, the exact same age but with much more excitement, snatched that book from your hands and made you leave your seat, chasing the boy around the ballroom till you burst into tears. After that rather unfortunate event, you vowed never to be in the same room as him, but you somehow ended up being his best friend instead.
Maybe it was because both of you had overbearing parents, driven by pressures of society and personal expectations. Or maybe it was the simple notion that after a while, you began to enjoy his eccentric behaviour and rather addictive smiles.
Perhaps it was better that way, too. For you could not imagine life without Hwang Hyunjin.
Your gaze was apologetic. “I do, blondie,” you supposed, but you steeled yourself once more. “But I have a condition!”
“And what condition would that be?” he asked, swirling you around and around, waiting for the climax to strike any second. The ladies around you were breathless, ecstatic, the gentlemen smug, but you and the duke had only business in your minds.
“Promise me that we remain the same,” you said, never leaving his sight when the music boomed across the ballroom, raw melodies dancing along with everyone within the four golden walls. His grip on you was firm, unflinching as he spun you across the marble floor one last time, dark boots never missing a single note as he nearly swept you away from the chaos of society. “Promise me that you and I will not change.”
And as the music drifted to an end, he finally slowed down. There was a moment of silence, heavier still under his stare.
“I cannot promise you that.”
His next words sent the strangest sensation down your spine.
“For we would not be friends anymore. We would be husband and wife.”
The ballroom erupted into applause.
You blinked back at the new noise, head darting at the couples beginning to clap at the ended dance. Although the others began to depart, the two of you lingered on the floor, hands still clasped.
His stare never faltered. “I cannot promise you that,” he repeated, slowly shaking his head. “Nor can I guarantee you continuity.
“What I can promise, though, is that I will not take away your freedom. You may write as much as you wish.”
It was then his hold on you eased, stepping away as he held out the book — never dropped from his hand, but firm as he brought it before you, a silent offer.
“What do you say, angel?” His gaze was impenetrable. “Will you be my wife?”
Among the lords and ladies, there was only you and him.
You and him against the world.
It was difficult, finding allies in a time you lived in. Reminded of your mother, you had a terrible feeling that only doom would fall upon you if you refused his help.
With good reason, too. No man could match what Hyunjin offered. No man would ever let you pursue your literary passions.
Not a singular male in this society would ever care for your basic freedom, other than he.
Another first, then.
So, in the middle of the ballroom, with your mother watching, you held onto the book, gripping it with a firm promise.
You dared not depart from the Duke of Hastings’ stare.
You exposed a smile, a mocking quirk in your brow.
“A thousand times yes.”
THE WEDDING HAPPENED QUITE IMMEDIATELY AFTER THAT NIGHT.
You insisted the wedding be small and intimate, for the ceremonies were already boring enough, but both your mother and Hyunjin insisted it be a grand occasion.
The two of you tied the knot at Fulham Palace, a most esteemed estate dating back centuries, adorned in the finest flowers and gifts of nature surrounding its red-bricked walls. You had been there often in your childhood, due to the place being situated at the heart of your friend’s lands outside of the city, but seeing it decorated for your own wedding elevated the speciality of this abbey.
Many of London’s lords and ladies, dukes and duchesses had rushed to your invitation, fawning over the festivities and seated impatiently on the uncomfortable seating to await your arrival. Your friends, some bridesmaids, prepared your hair and fixed your dress, ordering everyone to take their places and sounding the instruments behind the altar to begin playing.
In truth, the ceremony was a blur.
Because this whole occasion was merely a plan, you did not deign to remember the memorable details of each event, the people who came or even the words recited by the priest.
However, the one figure you could not forget was your best friend.
No, you could not forget his face as you walked up to him slowly. It was a sight you had seen him expose only a few times in his life, when he would observe a flower open its petals in the morning, or regard a particular enchanting piece of artwork in an exhibition, which he would refuse to walk away from. You had raised a quizzical brow at him then as you slid the ring upon his finger, but he only offered you a wink, expression fading when the priest addressed you both.
Of course, another little detail you distinctly remembered was the declaration. The words which sealed a woman’s imprisonment.
“I now pronounce you man and wife.”
Your gaze had darted to Hyunjin at that, finding him staring at you already. Meeting his gaze, you found the comfort you hoped you would receive.
The Duke of Hastings will not throw you into the cages of matrimony.
This very thought had relieved your nerves as you thanked every guest who congratulated you on the wedding, a few friends wiggling their eyebrows and wishing luck for the honeymoon. You waved them off, not really understanding the connotations, but carried on struggling at the reception until the sun had descended, and it was time for everyone to return home.
That very evening, the two of you set off for this particular honeymoon.
You bid your farewells to your mother, she much too emotional for your liking, and because Hyunjin had no parents to bid his farewells to, the wedding carriage was up and running before the moon had taken reins of the night sky.
Conversation never ran dry as you journeyed out of the din of London and into the countryside. Your destination was a couple of hours away, so rest was mostly out of the question as the carriage sped on, eager to get the newlyweds to their new home.
It was well into the night when you arrived at Hemingford Manor, one of the many estates Hyunjin had ownership of ever since his father’s passing. Engulfed within the lush nature of Cambridgeshire, the little estate exuded a comfortable sort of radiance which you would expect from warm fires of winter. The gardens surrounding its walls was a whole maze of trees, bushes and an assortment of flowers, heightening its already ancient regality.
The arrangements were made immediately, a small household welcoming you at the door as they took your luggage, unpacking everything as Hyunjin showed you around. It was extremely intimate, you noticed, every feature of any room possessing an unusual air well before your time, almost telling a story of theirs from centuries ago.
He brought you to the bedroom, the grand bed instantly in sight as it’s curtains were fully drawn around its wooden columns, bedsheets black and red with gold thread stitched in swirls at the hems. Two ornate chairs sat beside the windows, and a huge dresser sat opposite the bed, beside it the door to the en-suite bathroom. Oil paintings littered the red walls of his ancestors, noticing your friend’s portrait made in his youth. The entire room radiated warmth, and you found yourself easing completely in his den.
“Well, I guess I should prepare for sleep,” you began, shrugging off your coat, walking over to the chairs and settling it upon one of the arms.
Hyunjin blinked back, as if his thoughts had been interrupted. “Ah, yes, of course.” He gestured to the bed. “You can have this room. I can stay in the one next door.”
You looked at him as if he was insane. “Do a husband and wife not share the same bedroom?”
“Well—” the man put his hands on his hips. “Yes, but I do not want to make you uncomfortable.”
“Uncomfortable?” You stepped towards him, quite offended. “Have you forgotten when we would sleep in the same bed whenever I stayed at yours for the summer?”
He narrowed his eyes at you. “We were children then, sweetheart. The situation is quite different now.”
“No, it is not,” you countered, matching his stance. “You were my dearest friend before, and you are my dearest friend now. That will always stay the same.”
That certainly quietened his tongue. He studied the stubborn quirk of your lips before sighing, unbuttoning his waistcoat. “Fine,” he quipped. “But I will not hesitate to throw you off the bed if you hog the sheets!”
You only offered him a scoff in response.
As the both of you began to ready yourself for bed, you opened your bag, making sure your papers were still intact. Counting up your drafts, you hummed in satisfaction before tying up the bag once again, setting it beside the dresser. Now, in your white nightgown, you went to the grand bed, slipping into the sheets.
Grabbing hold of Pride and Prejudice, you continued reading from where you left off as you waited for Hyunjin to be suitably dressed for slumber. You hoped he would take longer than usual, but he disappointed you, as the fool always does, by arriving much earlier, frilled-collared shirt all loose and trousers all slack.
The minute he saw you reading, he let out a groan. Leaning over, he snatched the book right out of your hands. “Hey!” You exclaimed, trying to take it back, but he stretched his hand away from you, propping it not-so-gently upon his bedside table. “Oh my God, not that harshly, you oaf! The book could tear!”
“I do not care!” He jeered, sliding into the sheets, propping his elbow so his hand supported his head. He swiped his locks away from his face, showing his full irritation. “Having your nose in a book on our wedding night!”
“Mr. Darcy was entertaining me just fine,” you sniped, crossing your arms. “You just had to be a Wickham and ruin the whole experience.”
“If this Wickham is a gift from the Lord Himself, then damn do I accept his name with pride!”
His ignorance made you laugh. Sliding your eyes to him, you matched his position, snuggling further into the pillows. “What does one even do on the wedding night anyway?”
Hyunjin’s amusement faltered at this, plush mouth parting ever so slightly.
The Duke knew exactly what one does on the wedding night.
As he raked his gaze over you, you waiting patiently for his answer, he wondered whether he should answer you truthfully. Tell you that he should be towering over you, kiss those pretty lips until they’re swollen and spit-slick, and take off that nightgown and uncover you before the stars. It was only customary, but the thought had his insides churning.
So he decided completely against it, to his absolute disappointment.
“How would I know? It is my first marriage as well.”
“Yes, but you’re aware of the ladies, and the gossip.” You leaned closer to him, unaware that the man’s heart halted for a second at the mere action. “When the guests were wishing me luck on my honeymoon they kept chuckling like children, as if they were in on a secret I was excluded from.”
“To hell with the guests, angel.” Hyunjin patted on your pillows, urging you to put your head down. “Our joining was very different from theirs. We can make our own rules.”
“Finally, an intelligent word from you!” You declared, but yelped as he pressed his hand on your head, sending you to the cushions. “Too harsh!”
“As I said, own rules,” he reminded you, a smile curling his lips. “Now please sleep! It is well past midnight.”
You shook your head no, resting your head in your arms. “Come on, Hyunjin! We have the whole night to ourselves, and you wish to sleep?”
Yes, he very much did. Because if he kept looking at you, excited and giggly and adorable, the tight leash he kept on himself would snap.
He could not have his hands on you on the very first night. Not when you had no knowledge of what that meant.
“Well then,” he started, using all the strength in him to not curl a stray lock around your ear. “Tell me of your writings.”
His request had you face burning. “Never.”
The man made a face. “What?” He demanded, nudging you with his fingers. “Now you must tell me!”
“No, not now,” you hurried off, hiding your face in the pillows. God, the thought of your friend reading anything of yours made you sick to the stomach. “Argh!”
“But why?” he asked, a beginning of a pout etching onto his lips. “Do you not trust me, even though I have tolerated you for all these years?”
You turned to him again, furrowing your brows. “I do trust you!” You reassured him. “And I will tell you at the right time. Just...not at this moment.”
When you saw a frown develop on his face, you pouted at him, shame coursing through your bones. “To tell you the truth, Hyunjin, I am just embarrassed. It is so rough at the moment, so I want to show you the very best.”
“But I want to see everything,” he muttered. “Your worst and your best.”
“And you will see it!” You reached out, wrapping your fingers around his slender hand. The boy gaped at you at the sudden contact, but you continued. “You will be the first to see my drafts. I give you my word.”
The honest consolation brought the duke to a stillness. Hand enveloped by your fingers, he watched you await his reaction.
Being the first to see your private writings was truly an asset. A special secret he would never share to another.
“I wait patiently for that time, then,” he said, offering you a smile which melted your heart. “Now, I beg, sleep!” he added, bringing the sheets up to your chin. “I can tell you’re exhausted.”
Knowing your whining would be of no use, you looked at him through heavy-lidded eyes. “Fine, you absolute bother.” You closed your eyes. “Goodnight, blondie.”
A small chuckle escaped him, never forgetting the hold you had over his hand. He regarded over your resting figure, curling ever so slightly next to him, and he just could not help himself.
Stretching out his other hand, his fingers tucked away your stray locks from your face, curling them behind your ear. The smile ghosted on his lips, and only then he sank further into the pillows.
MARITAL LIFE WAS NOT AS TERRIBLE AS YOU IMAGINED IT TO BE.
A couple of weeks had passed as this ‘honeymoon’ period progressed in Hemingford, and you were beginning to settle in quite nicely to the peaceful time. The birds never ceased to chirp joyfully around the manor, the nature which engulfed the two of you like another living being surrounding you, silent yet welcoming.
The scenery was perfect for someone like you, who was waiting for an environment like this to bring out the papers and put that inspiration to use. Hours rushed by as you sat under the trees beside the manor, writing away the scenes in your head as the maids brought you food. A few of those hours may have just been wasted on daydreaming, but that was the beauty of this entire situation — you simply had the time to waste in this retreat.
Hyunjin had been more than satisfactory: he always came to dine with you for all meals, never concluding conversation, and made sure to accompany you on walks around the lands. Everytime you would step into new landmarks he would instantly recall the history behind it, explaining the work his forefathers had done on the manor, and lead you along till the sun followed you two down the horizon.
You had initial fears. Just because he was your best friend before, it did not predict what his behaviour would be after marriage. You had heard many marital horror stories during the seasons of London society, and each one was worse than the last. Although you always knew the duke could never hurt you, there was no trusting the opposite sex. Fortunately for you, he rid those doubts from your mind, and maybe you began to have faith in the future.
There was, however, a downside to your new husband.
“Why will you not show me the drafts?!” he whined for the last time, following you into the house. Rolling your eyes for the millionth time, you took off your bonnet, handing it to the maid nearby. “I have waited long enough!”
“I do not have to explain myself to you!” you argued back, grabbing your skirts as you rushed up the stairs, Hyunjin right at your heels.
The man was much too quick, overtaking you instantly and barring you from stepping into the hallway. A groan was your reaction. “Let me through!” you ordered.
“Tell me what your book is about.”
“I am not telling you anything!”
He curved closer to you, blond locks sliding off his shoulders. “Why?” he hissed, and you stayed stubborn as his hand on the bannister snuck closer to yours. “What have you written in there that is so exclusive?”
You bit the inside of your cheek, crossing your arms.
It was not like you had written an anti-Duke of Hastings manifesto. Once again, it was just your humiliation — although you loved to write, there was absolutely no way you could ever willingly show him your work as of this moment.
You could not have your best friend be disappointed by your creations.
So you turned completely on your heel, descending down the stairs.
“Hey!” you heard the man shout as you stepped into the entryway, picking up your book. “Where are you going?”
“To talk to the trees!” You looked over your shoulder, making sure to give him a glare.”Because I know they will not argue back!”
Before he could speak any more, you thundered out of the house, taking Pride and Prejudice with you.
An enraged sigh escaped you, walking rapidly into the maze of hedges as you tried to stroll the anger away. When these silly arguments occurred, you began to wish that you had never told him of your work in progress. You could have just admitted that you liked to write, and feared that any other men would rob you off that hobby.
And on the last day of your honeymoon, too. Maybe you should have told him you were illiterate instead.
Settling yourself upon the white wooden bench, right beside the forest, you opened up your book, gritting your teeth still as you immersed yourself in the world of Elizabeth Bennet. Although progressing, your thoughts drifted to another man who did not reside in the pages, and you found yourself even more aggravated.
Damned the beautiful bastard. Of course you were going to tell him of your writings. Why could he not simply wait?
The thought had you rigid on the bench as you read on, the mere wind and trees your silent company as you read away your rage. The duke did not come searching for you — it was for the better, because if he tried you would have ran away from his stalking figure.
Night ascended from the horizons, and as the sun retreated so did you, back into the manor, book at your side. You nodded to the guards who opened the huge doors for you, letting you inside as you went straight for the stairs, void of the man who refused to let you pass.
Dim lights illuminating the way, you walked right up until your bedroom door greeted you, and when you saw Hyunjin, leaned back in the ornate chair as he looked out of the window, you paused at the entrance.
Although your steps were quiet, he turned his head to you. His features held a veil of unreadable emotions, cemented by the slight down curve of his mouth.
You scowled at him as you stepped inside. “I am not showing you the drafts.”
He closed his eyes, nodding. “As you wish.”
You removed your coat, a brow raising. “I won’t show them to you tomorrow either.”
“As you say.”
Another brow joined its partner. “Nor will I show you them the next week.”
What was this sudden change? “Hyunjin, are you unwell?”
“I am perfectly adequate, darling.”
The endearment had you frowning further. “Fine,” you muttered, knowing he was hiding something from you. “I will be inside, taking a bath.”
You were about to enter the bathroom when his voice halted you.
Looking over your shoulder, you answered, “Yes?”
The man let out a soft sigh, crossing his leg over the other. “I...I wanted to say that I apologise for my persistence.”
Now that was a statement you were not expecting. You opened your mouth, but closed it, thinking it was for the better, and instead leaned at the doorway.
“I…” he clasped his hands. “I realised that as I insisted and shouted, I was becoming the very man you wished to avoid. That is the last thing I want for us. If you are uncomfortable in showing me your writings, that is fine. A husband, most of all a best friend, should respect that decision.”
His eyes lifted to yours, pinning you with a fierce stare. “I will not persist with you anymore.”
You found yourself unable to break this stare as you, too, locked your hands together, biting your bottom lip at this turnout.
The duke had never apologised for anything.
In the many years you had known him, he would always stand by his decisions, even if they turned out to be disastrously against his favour. His stubbornness refused to let him submit to the other, and you had watched him have his boney backside beaten almost every week for it.
Hearing the plea for forgiveness had certainly changed that perception.
You took a few steps toward him, willing your hands at your sides as his gaze followed.
Was the denial really necessary? The poor man only wished to take a glimpse into your mind. Was that too much for him to ask for?
No. You had to stay upright. So what if he apologised? He should have! The man had caused a ringing in your ears from the arguing.
But now, even though the entire time your body repulsed at the thought before, you found yourself reaching for your satchel.
His eyes did not leave your hands as you brought out the papers, dumping your bag beside his feet. You held them out, knowing there is no way out of your actions.
Hyunjin looked at the papers as if they were hemlock. “Why are you showing me your drafts?”
You pursed your lips. “Because I want you to eat them.”
“I have no appetite for paper this evening, I’m afraid.”
The attitude had you warning, “Do you want to read it or not?”
He regarded you with an adorable puzzlement. “Darling,” he started, and the word had you raising it closer to him. “You do not have to show me. I cannot have you forcing to do something which you do not—”
He paused. Kept that beguiling stare upon you. You carried on, “Hyunjin, I need you to understand that it was never anything personal. It was me just...not really believing in myself.” Gently putting the small stack of papers in on his lap, you locked your hands behind your back. “But I gave you my word on our wedding night. And the day you proposed, and the day I realised you were a dear friend to me.
“You will be my first for everything. Especially in the goals and dreams I treasure the most.”
The duke’s eyes enlarged, darting to the drafts settled on his thighs and then to you, capturing your lip between your teeth in nervousness. He wished ardently that you would break that habit, for if you kept at it he might just grab your face and continue for you.
My first for everything. The declaration had his stomach turning in on itself. He knew he had been there for many of your firsts, but saying it out loud was something else. Saying it out loud meant you were aware of that fact as well.
So unimaginable, that you did not even realise the impact you had on him. So unbelievably innocent, eyes searching for his answer, desperate for consolation, when he had completely different matters in mind.
By God, if you did not turn around and leave him, he would let the control on him falter.
“I...I need to take a long bath, Hyunjin,” you said, finding his stare unusually penetrating. “By the time I am done you would have finished reading half of it.”
Turning, you stalked back to the bathroom, looking over your shoulder as you took a step inside. “No sweetening the feedback.”
You did not wait for his answer as you went inside, shutting the door.
Both of you, not realising that the other was doing so, let out a quivering sigh.
Something was amiss.
There was this...tension. You did not know the origin, but you knew it was there, underlying and creeping closer. Hyunjin was unusually quiet. Compliant even. A small part of you feared that maybe you should not have given him the most vulnerable possession in your care.
Deciding to fill the hot water in the bath yourself, you got on with your task, filling buckets of water in the copper bathtub till it nearly overflowed. Once done, you got rid of your clothes, and stepped inside. You instantly relaxed as the warmth of the water soaked your skin, calming your nerves, which were running high moments before.
As you progressed with using the soap, you distinctly heard the pages turning in the room next door. Scrubbing yourself, you hoped that the man was enjoying your words, or else you were never leaving this bathtub again.
At one point, you leaned your head back, closing your eyes as the water, now mixed with the scent of roses, lapped lazily against you. Your thoughts, once again, wandered to the man a wall away from you — what was he thinking? You wished you were there beside him, witnessing his reactions to the actions, dialogue, romance you had added in there.
Maybe that was the real problem. The couple you had added in this story had a strong relationship, but because you yourself had never experienced any sort of star-crossed love, you did not particularly know how to portray the raw romance. Still, you made sure they held hands in the ballroom at chapter 49. That was the pace in every other book you read, anyway.
After what seemed like a whole night later, you finally got out of the water, drying yourself with the towel hanging beside the tub. Grabbing your white nightgown, you donned the light dress, keeping it as loose as possible as you tried to dry your hair further, opening the door.
When you looked up, you saw the duke, head down, scanning through the papers with a face so focused it worried you. You made to say his name, but his hand shot up, silencing you. He did not even glance at your figure, bringing the hand back to swipe a finished page.
A little smile appeared on your lips. Is he...invested?
Does he enjoy your writing?
Another ten minutes of observing him, and he put the last paper down.
Slowly, he tilted his head upwards, turning to where you stood. His face expressed something cryptic — unable to decipher the emotion which swirled beneath his dark, glinting eyes.
He then let out a scoff.
“Darling, I need you to sit.” He gestured beside him, on the edge of the bed. “Right here.”
Perplexed, you obliged, settling yourself on the soft sheets, watching him heave off his chair, the last piece of your draft still in hand. He began a pace back and forth across the room, shaking his head as he turned at every end.
The pacing began to concern you. “Hyunjin, is something the matter?” you asked, hands grabbing tufts of your nightgown. “If you really wish to walk then you have all of Cambridgeshire waiting.”
“Tell me, dearest,” he said, still thundering across the room. “Remind me why you did not want to show me your drafts.”
That was an usual first comment. “Umm...because I was embarrassed about my writing?”
Your answer made him stop. Whirl to your direction.
His features twisted into anger.
You blinked back. “I-pardon?”
“No, you shall not be pardoned!” he exclaimed, pointing at you with the stash of papers. “Not when you have written something like this!”
“Hyunjin, what do you mean?”
The man nearly ripped his hair out.
“____, you have written a bloody masterpiece!”
Your entire body stilled.
“I...I did what?”
“Wrote a masterpiece!” He swiped through the pages, lighting up at each word that passed his gaze. “A bestseller! An award winning novel!”
A smile worked its way onto your lips. “You...you really think so?”
Sighing out in exasperation, he set the papers upon the desk as he began to lose his initial anger. “How could you be embarrassed about something so beautiful?” He put his hand on the gold chair, leaning onto its head. “Your descriptions were lovely, the characters are perfectly imperfect. You have outdone a lot of the writers in circulation.”
Your shoulders sagged a little — almost as if you had been carrying a heavy burden, and this man had taken it off of you.
You made sure he saw your joy when you said, “Thank you, blondie.”
Seeing the pure contentment upon your face had your friend looking away, eyes narrowing to the plans once again.
“There was, however, one thing which needed improvement.”
The setback had you straightening once again, eager to hear. At least he was not sweetening it fully. “Go on.”
“As I was reading through, right till the end, I noticed a lack of very important details.”
That was quite strange. “A lack of?” you asked, when you were so sure that you had added too much of everything.
His fingers drummed against the velvet of the chair. His other hand tightened upon his hip.
“I noticed that there was a deep lack of...passion.”
An incredulous look was your reply. “Passion?”
“Yes, passion. Desire.” He jerked his head towards the papers. “I hardly saw any of those emotions in the book.”
This new information was certainly quite worrying for you. “But I do not understand,” you started. “My whole novel is based on this relationship, of the love that blossoms and grows—”
“I understand that, darling, I really do,” he said. “I know what you are going to say.”
The drumming continued. “But where is that residing in the chapters? Where is that physical lust implied in the characters?”
You had heard of the word before. Heard of its implications, yet never grasped the weight of its meaning. Was it just another form of longing?
If only your mother had given you an education on this side of love.
“What do you mean...lust?”
Hyunjin raised a groomed brow. “What else could I mean, angel?”
The way he voiced that question, that endearment, had you parting your mouth, unable to say anything. You tried to speak, to say something to ease the tension which came slithering back into the bedroom.
“I...what were you expecting? From the relationship.”
Curling his locks behind his ear, his gaze became obscure. “You spoke of forbidden love, of...of a coupling which should not be occurring but happened through the fate of the universe. Is that right?”
When you nodded, he carried on. “See, I did not sense that from their exchanges. Their emotions are tame, chaste. An innocence which cannot be tainted.
“Now where is the fun in that?”
You dared not break his gaze. “What is that ’fun’?”
His eyes seemed to darken. “That ‘fun’ in the relationship is physicality. Where is that in your novel?”
He took a step towards you. “Where are the unbreaking stares? The curious hands, aching to caress another’s? Where are the trembling breaths, the lust-stained sighs that fan lovers’ lips?”
The duke had you craning your neck back as he looked down at you. “Where are the kisses, my darling?”
You gulped. “K-kisses?”
“Yes, kisses,” he repeated softly. “Lips enveloping lips, tasting your inner workings? Travelling to your neck, your collarbone...places which cannot even be whispered in polite society?”
Each part he mentioned had goosebumps pricking at that certain place.
The bastard still did not stop. “Where is that passion, ____? Where is that forbidden love, which only makes the heart burn wilder?”
And as he descended before you on his knees, delicate hands settling on your lap, you had a feeling swirl up your sides which had never struck you before.
“If I were the man in your book, I would not be tame with you.”
His eyes offered a new, intimidating darkness. “Because if you were my woman, then I do not think I’d control myself. The moment I’d catch the innocence dancing in your eyes, I’d have waltzed it away into my shadows.
“Only God could save you from my hunger, then.”
Silence descended upon the two of you.
One waiting for the other to speak, and the other unable to form the words to do so.
The moon had illuminated your husband, one side of his face glowing like a celestial being, the other side basked in darkness. How strange, when he had compared himself to it just a few moments before.
You seemed unable to look away from him. His gaze, always intense, now had become so penetrating you wondered whether he could glance at your soul, quivering from his feedback.
Improvements which you still did not quite comprehend, despite the implications.
Somehow, he could see it on your face. “I have a feeling you still do not grasp the idea. Is that correct?”
A half nod. “I…” God, speak! “I just...I have never understood it, Hyunjin.”
Your head dipped down, darting at the plains of your hands. “You asked me about lust, and I simply cannot answer because I do not know. I have never experienced such emotion.
“Hell, I have not witnessed a single action that you spoke of. How could you expect me to write of desires I have never even felt?”
This was unchartered territory. This was a terrain you had not explored with him.
Yes, he was your best friend. But one does not talk of such...dangerous conservation when your best friend happens to be a male — a complete rake, at that.
It seemed as if the rake, too, was thinking the same.
His legs, a force which had never let him down, threatened to buckle under him. His mouth opened, only for silence to answer you.
Lord and all His subjects help him. He did not think he could contain it any longer.
And as his eyes exposed you, vulnerable before him, he only knew of one thing — one fact within this ocean of uncertainty you swam in.
He would jump into the waters for you. But not to haul you out to safety.
No, the duke would drag you down further, with him as your sole saviour.
Or even your destroyer. Your fated undoing.
For the Duke of Hastings will absolutely ruin you, body and soul.
A singular action, dragging him back to dark, dark reality, even sweeter than his fantasies as it sat before him, shy and wide-eyed.
An innocent reality all for him to defile.
You tried not to shudder at his lilting whisper. “How am I to be helped?”
The man did not even think of the possibilities, to your surprise.
If only you knew, how long he had kept them hidden for.
“How about...how about I assist you?”
Confusion washed over your features. “And how would you assist me, Hyunjin? You have never written a novel.”
His answer was a chuckle, revealing slight glimpses of his teeth as he stood.
“That is true, yes.”
Sitting down beside you, he planted his hands behind him on the bed, leaning into the position.
“But what I can provide aid for is the one feature you lack in your writing.”
His voice right behind gave you a fright.
“Pure, raw lust.”
Looking over yourself, you watched him reclined in ease. Your speech was uneven as you said, “And...and how will you help me with that?”
“Simple, my darling.” A pause, looking you over. “I shall provide you with examples. Show you what truly happens between a man and woman when all they yearn for is each other.”
He saw the further questions in your gaze. The questions you dared not voice out loud, perhaps dared not understand.
Smirking, he sat himself up, eyes never leaving yours as his hands encircled your own, bunched up in your dress. As his fingers brushed against your linen he felt his skin go aflame.
“If, of course, you would let me.”
Tilting your head slightly upwards, you sensed a foreign warmth envelop your face, burning at the sight of your friend studying you like an empty canvas, begging to be filled.
Perhaps you were an empty sheet of paper, waiting to be painted with guidance by the master. Maybe that master was beside you all along.
“What will you do to me, Hyunjin?”
There it was. The question which may have been his drug — his purest form of opium.
Because when his hands travelled upwards, sliding to your face and imprisoning you with his stare, he knew he would become addicted.
“Not only show you what real passion looks like.”
A shame he did not care for his well-being when you were so fucking tempting.
“But show you what real passion tastes like.”
The shuddering breath that left you caressed Hyunjin’s lips, and he debated throwing the whole course of patience out of the window, and ravage you this second.
But he would never do that. Not unless you asked him to.
“May I?” He whispered, eyes heavy lidded. The need for an answer was beyond rationality.
You looked at him one last time before you let your heart answer for you.
“Show me, Hyunjin.
Those three words were all it took for the duke to close the distance.
Close the final space which had stayed so irritably prevalent, when he brushed his lips against yours.
The first thought that came to mind was how soft his mouth felt.
Plush lips, moving against yours with the utmost gentleness; as if testing the waters, familiarising their new surroundings. He did not know what to expect, which was a thought that shocked him. Had he not bedded half of London to know the ins and outs of how a man should pleasure a woman?
Still, his vast knowledge could not prepare him for you and your shy acceptance.
His fingers cradling your jaw, satisfied, he delved in a little deeper, the weathered leash beginning to loosen as he found his opium upon your mouth.
You attempted to follow his actions — letting him lead the kiss as if it were the many dances you had partaken with him, treating this as yet another waltz you both had to share. The issue was, dancing never brought you the unnerving thrill that these ministrations did.
Hyunjin’s kisses were quite indescribable.
When he tilted your head with the pressure of his fingers, gaining the fullest possible access to your lips, he thought his heart would burst from his chest. So compliant, you were, trailing after his actions. His pleasure heightened when he felt your heartbeat race beneath his fingertips, which resided just underneath your jaw.
He would have been a happy man if he continued the kiss forever, but he forced himself to break away, remembering that this was your first, that you were not acquainted with the dance of passion. His gaze pried over your features, and a famished smile nearly broke upon his face.
He found you shivering beneath his grasp.
Lips glistening, courtesy of his own, eyes wide and skin warm, there was no other reaction which the duke would have savoured more. A fearful excitement resided upon your beautiful face — almost as if you were scared of yourself, of the feelings he ignited within you.
The man was not far from his prediction. You were positively terrified.
Terrified of the fire-like emotion that threatened to turn your stomach in on itself. It was an extraordinary sensation — as if you were engulfed by some unknown, mysterious fire, and Hyunjin was the one sparking it to life.
You parted your mouth, trying to speak but to no fruition.
And him, whose eyes grew darker at the lack of words, curled his fingers to your jaw, smirking. “I can hear your heartbeat from here, darling.” A singular finger tapped against the spot, where your blood pumped quicker than usual.
Your heartbeat thrummed in your ears too, making you all the more aware of the situation — you may not know what these feelings were, but you needed to find out.
It was not entirely your fault. A writer must do their research, after all.
Painfully swallowing the lump in your throat, you made yourself speak, asking the questions which haunted you. “Is...is this all?” you got out.
Hyunjin slanted his head a little, narrowing his eyes. “What do you mean?”
“You know…” your hands instinctively reached for your lips. “What we just did. Is that all that happens?”
The hesitation had him chuckling, the shaky exhale caressing your mouth. “Do not pretend that you were unaware of kisses,” he mused, and you desperately tried to look away.
The slight grip on your jaw had you unable to do so. “And as for your question…” the smirk remained. “We have barely touched the surface.”
His other hand skirting downwards, it grazed along your collarbone, tumbling to the free space at your side. It settled itself among the bunched linen, holding you steady.
“I can show you more,” he whispered. “If only you wish it.”
Face burning further, you closed your eyes, letting your head dip in acceptance. You could not even think at this point — you were curious. Beyond intrigued, wondering whether these feelings would swell up more, take you into another reality farther from your imagination.
It was a slight inconvenience that Hyunjin shook his head.
“No, my darling,” he said softly, the fingers on your jaw sliding to your chin. “I want you to say it. Say you want more.”
You had not the slightest idea what this ‘more’ was, but you sure wished to discover — judging by the ravenous gleam in your husband’s stare, he wished for you to find out too.
“Fine then, Hyunjin…” one last pause ensued. “I...I want more.”
The said-man let a small groan escape before capturing your lips again.
He knew he was being selfish — almost pouncing on you like a man starved, grip on your side tightening as he quickened his pace, slowly prying your lips open.
When you felt his tongue skim along the seam of your mouth, you found yourself opening up to him, shocked at the sudden enthusiasm. Your hands, unoccupied, fumbled at your lap, unsure of their use until Hyunjin, his own hands leaving you, held onto them.
With precise direction he placed them on his shoulders, all the while slithering his tongue inside. You found yourself gripping onto him harder as he explored you, he himself nearly transcending at your yielding. A groan threatened to escape, but was drowned out by his mouth, closing over yours and kissing you insane.
His tongue worked wonders within you, swirling along with yours, desperation increasing with every time you complied with his actions. He opened your lips a little wider, sliding his tongue along your bottom lip, and you could not contain your moans any longer. The whimpered replies had him tugging on your lip, slowly sinking his teeth on the swollen flesh. Your fingers could not grasp harder, the lock around his neck tightening with a growing need.
Is that what it all was? Urgency? What was this need for?
You hoped with all your heart that Hyunjin would know.
He pulled away from your mouth, and with gasped breaths, he got out, “Angel, may I—” His thumb caressed the corners of your lips, trailing down to your neck. “May I kiss you here—?”
The second the ragged yes escaped, the man’s mouth began peppering little kisses along his finger’s trail, leaving your skin burning with every touch. Dipping his head into your neck, he tugged down the neckline of your gown, settling on your collarbone. The hem descended to your shoulders, threatening to fall at your waist.
His kisses did not falter, even when you gasped out his name, a soft cry which only grew when his teeth grazed at your skin. Pain bloomed at the touch, but the feeling did not last long, replacing it with his tongue lapping up the mark. The dull ache remained, yet forgotten as he created a pattern of these stinging sensations.
“____,” he whispered upon your skin, a hypnotic chant which only had you whining in response. His mouth skimmed right up to your ear in frantic. “I...I must show you even more.”
You stilled completely. “E-even more?”
Hyunjin’s eyes did not leave yours as his hands travelled down, holding onto your sides. Slowly, he tugged you forward, your body merely following as he laid you down into the bed. Your heart hammered as he towered over you, the loose shirt revealing a glimpse of his chest, and his locks, drooping down to your face.
Your hands held onto the sheets. The gesture had him melting, so endeared by your little scares. What would you know of what will follow?
His idle fingers began to roam. With every shuddering breath they journeyed further below, until they found the hem of your nightgown. He held onto the fabric, slowly sliding it upwards.
You hissed slightly at the cold that welcomed your bare legs, but it was overshadowed by his warm caresses, every touch causing butterflies to erupt in your stomach. Or something of the sort. That was what it felt like to you, anyway, with how out of place the reaction was.
You asked him as his fingers paused, right on the edges of your upper thighs. Confusion, mixed with an overwhelming sensation, washed over you with every phantom touch. “What are you—” you paused as his hand tugged your legs open, ever so slightly. “What are you to do with your fingers?”
His answering gaze had you praying for the Lord. “How about I show you instead?” The contact lingered. “I promise it will feel wonderful.”
There was no other answer you could offer him. A hasty nod could only suffice as, with that signal, the duke braced himself for what he had been dreaming to do.
Nothing prepared you for the feeling of his fingers past your thighs.
Your breathing hitched as they teased against your entrance, running slowly along your slit. He collected the arousal which pooled at the apex, mouth agape from your reaction.
How you were drenched for him.
The very sight, and the prolonging idea, had the man exhaling sharply. Even now, he could see in your gaze — you were unaware of your own responses, your body’s hurried joy as it begged for his fingers to delve in further.
Tonight, he would show you a glimpse of his fantasies.
His one finger slipped inside you, and you felt the world turn.
Slowly, so painfully slow it slid between your folds, completely halting your breath as you gaped at him. He held your stare with a dark intensity — no doubt there was hesitation on his part, scared his control would shatter, terrified he would submit to your desire and break you under his hold. Already the thought was so appealing.
Still, he kept his fantasies at bay, holding your face like a fragile artifact as he delved deeper. A soft moan escaped your lips, and he cocked his head, realising it was a whine you tried to contain.
“Angel, please,” he murmured, and when he paused on his journey you looked at him in desperation. “Don’t be shy with me.”
And then, grip on your side tightening, he began to pull his finger out.
This time, it was impossible to restrain.
A heightened gasp shuddered out of you, gripping onto his shirt. How could an action so simple be so electrifying? The idea could not make any sense, but it did not need to when it brought such pleasure. You pulled on the fabric harder, elevating Hyunjin’s joy at seeing you so bothered.
“Yes, just like this,” he cooed, repeating the movement. This time, though, he quickened the pace as he began peppering little kisses upon your face. Each brush of his lips was like fuel to the fire below, growing angrier with every leisured plunge. “Say it all for me.”
You did not need to be told twice.
Your whines grew as he quickened, foreign waves of mysterious origin overtaking your body. You feared his singular finger might be enough to do something drastic, but then his thumb started to wander. When he found your clit, he created a slow pattern of circling the bud, causing you to squirm beneath him.
Seeing him above you was all too much — you needed his lips upon yours, needed to be lost in his tongue or else you would lose your mind. “H-hyunjin,” you stammered out, and the dazed expression had him reeling. “Please...please kiss me.”
He nearly moaned at the request itself. There you were, asking for his touch. His delirium spoke for him, letting his delusion a little astray. “But darling,” he muttered, leaning his face closer to you. “How can I watch you like this if I simply kiss you?”
Releasing his finger till the mere pad remained, he smiled at your panting. “How will I be able to watch you when I do this—” and brought two digits inside you.
He felt your walls pulsate around him, and he revelled in your reactions, the groans that followed with his delving. So, so compliant. So wonderfully welcoming, when all he did was touch the surface.
Your speech was all muddled, broken words and half-prayers as his fingers worked within you. As if that was not enough, he curled them inside, and there, he brushed against a spot which had you seeing stars. You could hardly stay still under his grasp, squeezing your legs together.
“Fuck,” he slipped out, and the curse itself had you fisting your hands in his shirt, damning the turnout if it were to tear. “Sweetheart, it’s okay to let go, keep those legs open.”
Further fastening his labour, you found yourself developing the most intense feeling in your gut — like a dark, swirling ball, aching to be released. You tried to raise your head to kiss him, but he only did the same, you barely missing him.
“Hyunjin!” You gasped out, and the said-man knew that no orchestra could compete with the music you tuned for him. Grabbing clumsily onto his collar, you tried with meak strength to bring him down. “Something...it’s wrong, something is amiss—”
You cut a glance down, where your cunt was more than occupied with his digits. “Wh-what am I feeling?!” In a frenzy you stared at him again, tears pricking your eyes. “Why do I feel—”
The duke only shushed you, a gaze akin to affection being offered to you as he trailed a slender finger upon your cheek. “Oh, sweet angel,” he whispered, voice a little breathless.
“That is me keeping my promise.”
And when he finally swooped your lips in a heart-wrenching kiss, fingers never stopping below, you let the overwhelming feeling take over. The aching was freed, and you broke away with a cry as you released onto him, spilling onto the sheets.
Hyunjin commenced a trail of sweet kisses upon your face, slowing his work inside you. Lethargy washed over you, and you barely sensed him slip his fingers out until the hollowness of your cunt welcomed you in his stead.
Through heavy-lidded eyes, you watched him as he brought the two digits to his parted mouth, sucking softly on the skin. A low noise hummed out of him, and you found yourself growing warmer all over again.
He caught you looking at him, and he slipped his fingers out with a pop!
“Truly divine, you are.”
Skin burning, you quickly shimmied your nightgown down, earning a chuckle from your husband. “That was…” you began, and you did not know why the thought made you so flustered.
“Do not worry your pretty mind, sweetheart,” he reassured you, flicking your nose. “Your release was answer enough.”
That only had you all the more embarrassed. “Hyunjin?”
His eyes rooted to yours. “Yes?”
“Was this…” you paused, trying to find the right words. “Was whatever we did...everything? Was this the end?”
Despite the two of you only finishing now, the duke had his gut turning in on itself all over again. This time, he let patience take over. He had been rewarded more than enough.
He still answered with a hushed tone, offering you another vision. Another promise, which he intended on fulfilling even further.
“Of course not, angel. This was merely the beginning.”
THE NEXT MORNING SAW THE TWO OF YOU IN LONDON.
It was a much more gradual journey than the previous one, with all the time in the world to go back to the duke’s main estate, where he was called to work after weeks of leisure. You, first indignant, were now devastated to leave Hemingford, a place which became a special haven in such a short time.
But of course, one could not neglect their husband. Not when that husband would never let you leave his side.
Hyunjin was all eye-smiles in the carriage, hands refusing to let go of you despite your complaints. You did not particularly mind, but when he resorted to kissing you with the curtains drawn, your levels of embarrassment nearly broke the scale, amusing him to no end.
There was no stopping him, though. After taking the first heated step with you, the vault of restraint in his senses had cracked. All this time he had proceeded with caution, but your heightened whimpers of the night before had undone the cellar of his desires.
Once again, you had experienced another first with him. A first which he wanted to conquer for a long, long time.
Unfortunately, business called, or else he would have stayed a few weeks more. Damn the men begging his presence, when he could have explored every layer of your innocence in that manor, revelled in ruining you of your ignorance.
He thought he had time to show the world of pleasure.
Alas, the fantasy he created in his Manor had to fade.
Reality crashed upon the two of you unfairly quick — there was not a moment’s rest as you arrived at Lansdowne, the official estate of the Hwang family nestled in Mayfair. It was more an enchanting palace than a home, every room, furniture and painting like pieces out of a fairytale. You could never forget the first time you entered, knowing that despite your previous comforts, you were to be spoiled in this abode.
The unfavourable situation which turned out from this was that your husband was not present to spoil you in his royal den.
As the days began there, with banality taking over, the two of you barely had any occasion to spend some time together. Business sunk its claws into the duke, refusing to show mercy. All the days and most nights, he managed tenants on his lands, heard their complaints and attempted to provide solutions.
The problems arose while he was away tending to you in your getaway, his subordinates incapable of handling the work he did so effortlessly. It frustrated Hyunjin to no end, when he had to learn these strategies since his adolescence, yet his employees, far older than him, could not manage to use his funds efficiently.
Although this meant time was sparse together, you did not mind so terribly. Having solitude meant having opportunities to write, and so you threw yourself into your drafts. You revised the more intimate scenes between your couple, and dared write down your first experiences onto the page.
Even documenting the occurrence had your stomach fluttering — when he kissed you delirious, going as far as slipping his fingers inside you. It felt like a delusion in your mind, scared that you merely created such events through your imagination, but you could not not make up such passion.
Hwang Hyunjin had shown you a very tangible fantasy.
It was these memories that kept you company as you penned down your world, a couple thousand words being scrawled on paper everyday. You wished to talk to him about taking matters further with your novel, but whenever the two of you had the occasional dinners you could not bring yourself to address the subject. He was already so occupied, and dumping your own tasks on him would devastate you
So you secluded yourself into your room, and only wrote.
Few weeks into Lansdowne, and you began to miss him.
You did not know how this feeling entered, but the moment it crawled into you it was all you could endure. It was not uncommon for you to miss your dear friend, even before marriage, but now that you lived with him, the situation changed. During the afternoons, when you burned your mind from the constant writing, you longed for his presence; conversation never ran dry when he was around, and the maids who offered refreshment were hardly an alternative.
Your longing, unfortunately, did not stop there.
Ever since that fateful night, you failed in shaking off the ever present tingling. His midnight eyes, akin to the devil, haunted you in isolation, and the sheer image of his full lips quickened your heartbeat. In fact, when you wrote a similar recount into your writing, the incident came into your mind so clearly you had to abandon the task altogether. The familiar wetness pooled at your core, and you cursed the heavens for being weak.
His fingers had an everlasting impression on you.
That was a whole other problem — you and Hyunjin, because of his tightening schedule, hardly had any opportunity to explore further of what happened. Teasing words and stolen kisses were your only alternative, and you dared not ask of him to do more. Your cowardice may have been one of the main reasons, but he was another factor of your silence. The man came home every night, so exhausted that even requesting to have him satisfy you brought you shame. He was much too tired, and you could not be selfish.
So you did not bother him. Let him leave every morning, and imagine what would be if he did not have so many responsibilities.
However, another couple of weeks later, and the need became unbearable.
Your every thought and feeling was replaced with this...this urgency. It was horrifying to you, never having been forced to such extremes, but it preyed on your mind like a beast. Meaningless tasks turned into burdens, sleep was lost, and your very heart threatened to burst from the intuitions. You wished to stop, but once you remembered that phantom touch, it was over. There was simply no alternative.
During those times, you could barely look at Hyunjin, offering you tired smiles as he disappeared into your chambers. You figured he did not notice, or else you knew he would make a comment on your worsening state. Truthfully, you were overjoyed that he was too exhausted to see you like this. If there was any chance he was aware, that alone would kill you off.
But this desire, too, was slowly withering you away.
Even as the sun began to descend, birds singing softly beyond your intricate window, soon to be drawn to a close. The library was bathed in gold from the light, painting your face as you attempted to write the last of the chapter, but to little success.
You figured your creativity had had enough of being stuck in your bedroom, so you opted for a change of scenery, but the parasite was at hand, churning just below your stomach. Even with the thousands of books settled all around you, radiating their knowledge, the ache remained, dull yet present. You scowled, pushing the pencil harder in your hand.
The poor lead broke suddenly, making you flinch. “Argh!” you let out, throwing the object upon the desk. Useless — you were so utterly useless, reduced to a mold of nerves, growing with each image that passed in your head.
Cursing, you put your hands in your lap, looking to the gardens beyond the window.
There is nothing you can do, ____.
The need arising, you slid your palms back, enough so they rested over your core.
A dangerous thought entered your mind.
That’s not true. There is one solution.
Your eyes widened.
Of course, there was always that alternative. Glancing down, you involuntarily pressed your palm to your clothed cunt. Already a wave of pleasure washed over you, and you suppressed any sound with a hand to your mouth.
You cannot. By God, you cannot do such a thing.
Especially in a bloody library.
Turning around, you glanced at the bookshelves guarding your figure, stretching to the painted ceiling. As an aspiring writer yourself, you cursed yourself for suggesting to do such an action in your temple, with the place your church and the books your Bible.
However, when the ache begins to creep over, your morality seemed to fade at first flight.
What a shame your brain was not to be listened to.
Shooting up from your chair, you nearly fell to the plush carpet, leaning against the desk. Gradually, you took a step forward, and another, searching for any secluded area among the lines upon lines of populated shelves.
“Where is it, where is it,” you mumbled to yourself, passing the Greek Literature aisle, moving further into the darker section. When you spotted the end of the library, you turned to a dim lit section of Romantic poets. “Aha!” You exclaimed, finding the place you were searching for.
This particular section has been a favourite little hiding place for Hyunjin. Recalling the memories, you always caught him here whenever the two of you played hide-and-seek, or when to comfort him here after a particularly harsh spat with his father, the late Duke of Hastings. Above all else, he found himself isolating here whenever he wished to read by your insistence, finding solace in the words of Blake and Wordsworth, picked up on the shelves.
You, on the other hand, did not come here to read.
Backing up against the wall, you let yourself fall to the lush carpet. There was barely enough space to stretch your hands apart, feeling the wall on one side, and the bookshelves with the other. It was small trouble, though, as space was not the priority — simply distance.
Thankfully, you had time — dinner would be served in about an hour, and the servants had been told not to disturb you as you ‘write’.
It was now or never.
“Lord forgive me.”
Grabbing onto your skirts, you raised them upwards, along with your petticoats. After undressing your pantalettes, your white stockings came into view, ending right above your knees, tied with baby pink ribbons.
With your underwear gone, you felt the cold caressing your dripping cunt. Immediately your fingers rushed to swipe at the arousal that pooled onto the carpet, a hiss escaping your lips. Then, moving higher, you felt the swell of your clit, and began to rub circles, so, so slowly — just like Hyunjin did, exactly like his fingers did.
The ripples of pleasure crashed over you with every swipe of your fingers. It was the most wonderful feeling, experiencing it after a span of weeks. Yes, somewhere in the back of your rational mind, you knew you looked pathetic, whining softly from your own efforts, but your desperation took over; you had been patient long enough.
Your desire, however, had no such moments to waste with such gradual rubbing, so pent up inside you that it forced you to quicken your pace. You prayed that no one heard you, for the sobs that flew out your mouth increased, playing and teasing your clit till it nearly numbed you.
The real bliss poured out when you plunged two of your fingers into you, going deeper and creating that identical pace, relished before. You closed your eyes, and images came flashing back — the midnight eyes returned, along the malicious grin, and suddenly it was not your fingers that pulled and pushed into your cunt. Your mind dared to conjure up Hyunjin, his dark laughter ringing in your ears as he curled his fingers into you, reaching a spot which had you seeing the seven heavens.
So far along, you did not care if the others heard. With your concoction before you, fingering you delirious, you called out his name. A panted “Hyunjin!” squealed out of you, the word laced with madness. How you begged for release, when it was actually in your control.
And maybe you would have come all over your fingers at that moment. Maybe that was a fantasy that would have been rewarded to you if reality had not been so unkind.
For it was reality that arranged a presence turning to his favourite hiding spot. For it was cruel, cruel reality, bringing at your secret aisle the very man who caused your current frenzy.
Sweet Duke of Hastings, who thought to surprise his wife and return home early, so he could join her at dinner this evening. Curious Duke of Hastings, who found the servants informing of your ‘work’ in the library, and so walking to you himself, expecting the distant sound of sighs and scribbles on paper.
Shocked Duke of Hastings, when he heard his name instead, being moaned at the end of his library.
His pupils dilated, gloved fingers hanging on the edge of the shelf, he grew flushed in his attire as he watched your near undoing. You whimpered his name over and over, as if that was your only comfort among the heavy sensation in your gut, the pleasure which numbed your senses. He trailed down to your sopping fingers, clumsy in their rhythm.
A shuddered breath escaped him.
It was then he let out the most self-satisfactory scoff.
That moment, you opened your eyes. Widened when they settled on your husband, face exposing an aghast expression as he crossed his arms, gaze never leaving the mess between your legs.
He had the audacity to grin wickedly.
“Oh my, sweet angel. What do we have here?”
Your entire body stilled, fingers frozen inside of you. Every ounce of strength, which tried to make you speak, abandoned ship.
Noticing clearly, a splutter of hellish laughter spilled from his lips. “All this time,” he began, feline amusement dripping in his voice. “All these lonely, lonely weeks, I was so guilty.” His boots made a soft thump against the carpets, grey longcoat fluttering after him. “I kept thinking, see, of you, so alone and unentertained. Stuck in her chambers all day and night, burning out her brain with her words. Writing of my examples.”
He unbuttoned his overcoat, pinning you with his gaze. “Little did I know you were impersonating me.”
You almost cried with shame.
“God, I doubt I can call you angel, again,” he drawled, tossing his woolen jacket behind him on a nearby chair, pulling off his gloves.
He uncovered his slender hands, continuing, “Not with your fingers still in your cunt.”
That nearly had you in tears — you yanked your digits out, making to push your skirts down in a hurry but were dutifully stopped by his raised voice.
“Pray, darling,” he inquired, and you could taste the ridicule as he stood before you, crouching down. “What do you think you are doing?”
He did not give you time to answer as he grabbed your hand, half-soiled by your endeavours. “Why have you stopped the show when the intended audience has arrived?”
All these questions messed with your senses, squeezing your thighs together as the high, threatening to undo you before, began to fade. “Hyunjin—” you said, but you were interrupted, as, with his hand, he lifted your trembling figure with ease. Legs unstable, you let him steer you until your back hit the bookshelves.
“Another notion puzzles me too.” His golden locks skirted along as he cocked his head.
“Why did you scream my name when you touched yourself?”
Your mouth parted, remembering your incessant whining. The thought caused your entire body to burn up, your husband taking instant note. “Come on, now, darling,” he taunted, grip on your hand tightening. “We both know you are more than capable of speaking.”
It was surprising how you managed to speak, despite the phantom touches.
“I…” you paused, embarrassed that you tried to tell him the truth. “I do not know...damn it!” you hissed as you saw a phantom smile accompanying his hands. “I had this...this need, Hyunjin. Everytime I recalled that night, I…all I wanted was some sort of...release.”
“Oh?” he got out, and he had to cage you with his hands for his own stability.
The thought of you, withering in pleasure — pleasure you did not realise you yearned for — had his mind transcending any sense. There he was, stirring the cauldron of desire bubbling in your veins, your face twisting in pain from your lack of knowledge.
He had to pray for forgiveness for his mentality, but at this moment in time, he only knew of one religion. You, and your wishes, whispered in panted breaths.
“If that was what you felt, then why did you not tell me?”
If it was not for his hand gripping yours, you would have covered your face. “How could I?” you whined out. “You were so busy! I could never be selfish enough to put myself before you.”
His heart nearly burst from his chest. “My darling,” he hummed, stroking away the flyaways upon your face. “Do you not realise that I put you before myself?”
Your confusion had him continuing. “If you had told me that you had such...needs, then I would have damned the work to hell.”
Suddenly, you wished you were the most selfish person in the world.
“Every wish, your every want…” his eyes promised the world. “It is mine to bring it to you.
“So tell me, angel.” His fingers lingered on your face. “What do you want?”
Alas, that fated question.
What you wanted was to tell him without doubt that you wished for his fingers inside you again. What you wanted was your husband fulfilling his promises, showing you more, more, more until you forgot your name from the sheer force.
You hated how your speech could never voice it out loud with confidence.
The man noticed your face warming beneath his touch as you stammered, “I-I want—” pausing from his fingers on your cheek, “Hyunjin, I want you to…”
Your pathetic attempts had him chuckling. “So innocent to me still?” He asked softly. “Even when I caught you moaning my name like a whore in the night?”
Whore. Sane you would have slapped him for saying such a thing, but the arousal that pooled at the term meant completely different. He was aware of your reaction, causing him to be compliant.
One day, he would voice it out of you. One day, you would say from your own mouth that you wished for ruination.
“How about this, ____?” he started. He brushed a small kiss upon your forehead, heart fluttering at the chaste action. “When you want me to stop, voice that out instead.” The next kiss was upon the tip of your nose.
You thought up a worrying confession, but when you saw his expression change, you realised you blurted it out.
“I don’t think I would want you to stop, Hyunjin.”
The molten lust in his eyes nearly undid you then and there. He offered you a low, satisfied growl, wondering how in God he could ever resist you.
“I don’t think I would be able to, angel.”
He did not say any more, swooping down and enveloping your lips with his.
You instantly accepted him, wrapping your arms around his neck as you pulled him closer, closing your eyes and letting him paint an artwork of desire upon your mouth. You could tell he was trying to be gentle, but your confession cracked the glasshouse of desire he had tended for so long.
His tongue was inside your mouth at once, and you relished its desperation, letting it explore all of you as his hands wandered down, your own sliding into his locks. Softer than all the silks in the land, you already felt the moans bubble within your throat, partially escaping with every parting. His heavy breathing in your ears only wished for all distance to fade.
There was so much of him, all at once — you had shared kisses with him after that fated night, but you knew those kisses were the sole form of affection he could offer in those lonely weeks. The way he bit your bottom lip, soft and then a little harder, had you losing all sense.
It was such things that made you realise how much you missed his presence.
Tearing away from your lips, he gave fevered attention to your neck, trailing his kisses down your skin, open and wet and restless. “Hyunjin—” you began, but then you gritted your teeth at the pain of his suction upon your throat. His hands pushed you further into the shelves, and a few books began to fall at the force.
“H-Hyunjin!” you exclaimed, eyes darting frantically to the classic editions that scattered on the floor. “W-wait, not here!”
The man blinked in his haze of desire, looking at you. “Huh?” he got out, spit-slick lips parted, his whole body raising from his breaths. “Why not?”
“The-the books, they...!” you tried to explain, but with the stare he offered, you quietened within moments. “...Hyunjin?”
His answer was his hand taking your wrist and turning from the secluded corner. He steered you out of the hiding place, pace hurried with each step he took. Head whirling to every aisle, he cursed under his breath, finding the spaces between the shelves filled only with books.
“What are you...searching for?!” you demanded in bated breaths, but then he let out a satisfied noise as he found an open aisle, the first line of shelves in the library.
In front of those shelves sat a large, wooden step ladder — no doubt there to grab onto the higher sectioned novels. A knowing smirk enveloped his features as he led you to where it stood, backing you against it.
A small yelp escaped you as the man hoisted you upon the steps, you holding onto his shoulders as he slithered his arms around your waist. “There,” he said, tilting his head slightly upwards. “Now you shan’t worry about your novels falling.”
“Easy for you to say!” you crowed, already feeling unstable, despite sitting on the sixth step. “This time it might be me falling!”
“Well then,” he began, tugging your legs apart till he fit snug between them, “You just have to hold on tight, don’t you?”
Oh, you were going to kill him.
Leaning forward, he halted your breath, brushing his lips across your neck. “I can stop if you wish,” he whispered on your skin. His hand rested over your chest, where it rose unevenly under his palm. When you did not answer he looked up, climbing so he levelled with your face.
You felt his heavy breathing fan your lips. “Do you want me to stop, angel?”
His eyes saw right through you — with the way a malicious smile began playing at his lips, he knew his answer long before you registered it yourself.
Head shaking hurriedly, you murmured out your response as you grabbed onto the lapels of his longcoat.
You pulled him down, desire taking control of your senses as he undid you with his lips. His hands, sliding down, hitching your skirts higher than before, bunching it at your waist. Never giving himself a break on your mouth, he peeled off his coat, tossing it beside the ladder. Only when you broke away to take a panted breath did he begin his descent — kisses on your neck dragged down further, along your clothed abdomen until he parted, shuffling the fabric from between your thighs.
An uneasy fuck flew from his mouth — your glistening cunt welcomed him again, the recollections of the last honeymoon night crashing back.
In truth, the events had not left his mind. The memories of his fingers playing with you, inciting those sinful sounds were the few things which brought him a high in the dark days of work. You, drenched by his efforts, dripping for him, and only him, to take care of you.
Seeing the sight before had Hyunjin restraining his cock. Fuck, he thought, leaning closer till his face was a mere inch from the center. He did not comprehend the consequences of this; what if he went crazy? A part of him was distinctly aware that if you were heavenly around his fingers, then you with his tongue would transcend reality.
Hands holding the back of your knees, he slung your legs over his shoulders, securing his fingers upon your thighs. With one last inhale, he closed the distance.
Nothing compared to his tongue running along your slit.
A hiss left you at the contact, tendrils of pleasure curling up your spine as he explored the edges of your cunt. He was teasing, being too leisured for your liking — he could not help himself, fearing he would rush the process and end it too quickly.
He wanted to be inside you the entire night.
Your incessant whining had him lapping up the wetness, gripping onto your legs a little harder as he delved in further, tasting your arousal and letting out a satisfied noise. Leaning your head back against the higher steps, your hands carded through his hair, his locks a comfort for the slow torment below.
When his tongue dove upwards, circling your clit, an obscenely loud moan tumbled out of you. He was so exceptional, so good at what he did to you, licking away at the bud as if he had not been served for days. Your whining was more encouragement for his antics, increasing his strokes with a slight curve to his lips.
What reduced you to choked gasps was an old prospect from the first night — his digits, leaving one of their spots on your leg and slipping one inside your folds. As if his tongue was not enough, that singular finger created a rhythmic pattern of plunging in and out of you.
You thrashed under his grip, hips rolling giddily along with his work. Even the ladder began to shudder, jutting slightly back and forth from your desperation. Although the squeeze on your thigh was an indication to calm down, you ignored it, too intoxicated by the thrusts of his tongue to realise his signal.
He made you realise as he paused his ministrations entirely. You nearly shrieked at the lack of his presence, but then you looked down, and found his lust-hazed eyes staring at you.
“H-Hyunjin?” You mumbled, voice raspy from your previous moaning.
The slick glazed on his lips brought you another level of high. “I need you to stay still, darling,” he voiced, slender hand gripping onto your thigh. “You even have the poor ladder shaking.”
You willingly nodded your head, knowing you were lying through your teeth. If he continued with his tongue prodding at your clit, then you would start trembling from the thrill.
“I don’t think I believe you,” he mused, blowing on your drenched cunt. Seeing you shiver had him chuckling. ”I need you to be still if you want true pleasure, sweetheart.”
An ironically chaste kiss upon the edges of your thigh gave you more reason to grip him harder. “I want you to enjoy this as much as I am.”
As much as I am.
Good, sweet Lord.
Maybe you will never move an inch again.
“K-keep going,” you whispered, near frantic as you played with his locks. “Please.”
The please at the end was exactly what he needed before he pounced into you again.
His tongue was relentless — a second finger joined in the venture, and the fullness of him was back again, with an intensity that only promised satisfaction. You knew it was coming, with the heaviness in your lower abdomen.
You needed that release. Whatever it took, it was the only image in your mind, taunting you of the relief that came with it. With the hard grip of his locks, your husband sensed it straight away, quickening his pace with both his tongue and digits.
Damn Hwang Hyunjin to Hell, for he was so unfairly good to you — licking your clit to a frenzy, touching a certain spot inside you, over and over again. He never missed, never faltered his labour as the burden inside you intensified. You sang his praise in your stained mind, hoping he could see the joy on your face.
“Hyunjin—!” You whined out, stealing a glance at his head, moving back and forth slightly between your legs. “It’s—the feeling, the one before—!”
You did not have to say anything else; his free hand, wrapping fully around your slung over leg, made you realise of his awareness. The feeling was at its peak then — one more of his stripe along your cunt, and it was over.
Fortunately for you, the Duke of Hastings kept his promises.
One little nibble of your bud, plunging in his two fingers at the same time, and it was useless. Your release came rushing through, cries escaping your lips as you undid yourself onto his mouth. All sense of surroundings abandoned you: you were drifting away, like a kite losing its roots, further and further as his fingers slowed. You feared that you would lose all sense until his tongue lapped up the release. His hums of satisfaction anchored you back into the library, hands at your hips as he heaved upwards, watching over your dazed expression.
You saw his every move, licking the remnants of your release off on his face. He then hovered closer, locks more sweat slick as they caressed your skin.
“God, angel,” he rasped out, holding your chin with his stained fingers. “You…I can’t...I can’t get enough of you.”
He stole a kiss upon your mouth, but your shy whines caused him to go deeper, sliding his tongue along your bottom lip. “Shit,” he whispered as he parted from your lips. “You must stop me, ____. I cannot take you all at once, I…no matter how much I wish, I cannot...fuck, I cannot taint you.”
And maybe it was your husband, admiring you like a poet would his muse. Maybe it was something more than the dull ache inside you, the flutter moving to your heart which had you saying the next words.
“But I...” you paused, every panted breath heavy. “I never…never asked you to stop.”
Hyunjin stilled completely before you.
His eyes were too much, but you did not stop the confession pouring out. “If...if there is something more, I…” his thumb on your chin hardened.
“I want to know. I want to see it all...even if it may taint me.”
There it was.
The thoughts which haunted you for the past few weeks. You wanted more, even if that meant that this more would one day be satiated. You wanted to see the end, the final stage, because you knew deep down, your best friend was still holding back from you.
You saw it in his eyes. You saw his unadulterated desires, dark and fearful, yet you wanted to be surrounded by his darkness.
You wanted Hwang Hyunjin to break you like he wished.
Sure enough, he saw it all over your face too. His jaw turned slack, and he debated slamming his head against the shelves to make sure he was not dreaming.
He did not think his wife would let him have a moment’s peace.
“God help you, sweet angel,” he murmured, glancing at your dress — more specifically, how to get you out of it. “I don’t think I can leave you innocent any longer.”
You parted your mouth to speak — Hyunjin was about to interrupt you, perhaps take you to the final stage of your passions.
Everything was about to descend when you heard the shrill knock on the door.
Your heart jumped out of your dress, the man above you catching onto your shock. With an unexpected burst of anger, he turned his head towards the large doors and screamed, “Who the fuck is it?!”
The servant at the opposite side flinched at the tone of voice. “Um, there is a guest in the living room, Your Grace!”
That did not help his case. “Then tell them to piss off!” The Duke demanded, holding onto you a little harder.
“But Your Grace, he urgently requests your presence!” The boy insisted. “We tried telling him of your...distractions, but he would not listen!”
Hyunjin looked like he was about to tear the manor down with his orders, and you widened your eyes, holding onto him. “It’s alright,” you reassured him, and possibly reassuring yourself too.
He glanced at you, and the frenzied stare he pinned you with shut you right up. “Fuck,” he cursed, running an angered hand through his hair, the other not leaving your side — as if you would fade from his grasp.
You feared it too, in truth, that he would disappear. The thought plagued your senses, much more than you would have liked.
“To hell with that bloody guest,” he growled, leaning into you again. He pressed his forehead against yours, cupping your face with his hands. “To hell with everyone.”
“Hyunjin,” you breathed out, relishing the contact. “Hyunjin, it’s okay…” you held his agitated stare, wondering why you were convincing him to go when you wanted him to stay. “I will be here, you know...when you come back.”
He searched your gaze for confirmation, needing to affirm your words. When he found the suppressed desire within, he could not help himself.
He planted his mouth upon yours, finding solace along the lines of your lips — he loved how your every kiss was a comfort, a sweet little sin all for him to enjoy. In honesty, he could spend an eternity basked in your warmth, but alas, reality was a villain in his tale.
Forcing himself to pull away, he ran a tender thumb along your cheek. “I shan’t take long, angel.”
You nodded tiredly, in time to the man holding your waist as he settled you back onto the carpet. Lingering for a few moments, he made himself leave your side, grabbing his coat and donning the heavy fabric. He satiated his desires with a glance towards you, dazed off with your hands clinging the ladder railing still.
A small smile catching onto his lips, he turned on his heel, promising murder to whoever disturbed the moment he dreamed of. Opening the door, he looked back, catching your stare.
The smile upon his face grew wider. A smile so sincere, so loving, with all the world’s miracles nestled upon his pretty mouth. It was a smile that you had never seen before, with all your years beside him — seeing it now had you wishing you could bottle the image and carry it with you forever.
It was a smile which had you so in love with him.
It was then your heart dropped.
Hyunjin, unaware, closed the door behind him, leaving you to your revelation.
Instantly, you clutched at your chest, heartbeat racing.
You were in...in love with Hwang Hyunjin.
“No,” you slipped out, mind rushing a mile a minute. “No, no, no, no—”
You gripped the railing harder as the hand on your heart trailed down, shivering from the phantom touches of your husband.
Hell, of the husband that you had fallen for.
One would think love was an entity writers would idolise — your own inspirations searched and indulged in all kinds of love, but you always accepted that an emotion so intense was not for women like you. Love was a rarity. Love was unconditional, strong and vivid and all-consuming.
Love, undoubtedly, was a weakness.
Your breathing turned ragged, hands reaching to clasp your head in panic.
I will be here...when you come back.
Your promise to him, before he left you to your hysteria.
Why would you ever say such a thing to him?
“Oh, no,” you kept chanting, turning over to your side, away from the door and towards the window, where night was small comfort to your nerves.
You could not let yourself succumb to a man. No matter how dear he was to you.
And if that meant staying away from your husband, then so be it.
IT WAS UTTER AGONY AVOIDING YOUR BEST FRIEND IN EVERY PASSING MOMENT.
Perhaps you should have given reasonable explanation to why you decided to distance yourself, but of course, reasonable explanation was never your forte.
Hyunjin, damn him, tried to make more effort in returning home earlier, despite his business demanding his presence with every passing day. You were almost powerless under his tender gaze, but you knew that you could not be swayed.
As if you had not fallen under his spell already.
Your only distraction was your novel, so you did just that — even with your husband in the manor, you closed yourself from everyone, writing furiously on your desk as if committing to anything else would cost your life. The flushed skin did not shy away as you wrote of your second experience, changing the events slightly so they fit your story. The memories tried to torture your mind, but you refused to submit. You could not fall for Hyunjin.
You could not fall for a man.
The duke did not realise of your avoidances, simply thinking that you evading his more heated kisses, his dangerous touches, was a result of your fatigue. He understood, knowing you worked your brain as hard as he. He was upset, obviously, when he craved your touch every waking second. For you, though, he would do anything. If that meant waiting, he would do that too.
However, your recoiling could only last so long. Your best friend knew you like the back of his hand.
He figured something was amiss when he decided to grace you with his presence one evening, expecting another show of your moans behind the door, only to have the distant scribbling of ink against paper. Entering inside, he awaited your surprise, your unadulterated joy, bracing himself to have his arms engulfed with your hug.
In reality, he received a mumble of blessing, and the continuing scribbling.
He was not trying to coax you into giving him affection. He was well aware of how hard you worked on your novel, but that day, he dearly wished you would abandon your project for just a night. Just one, single night, so he could show you how much he missed you every single moment.
Poor, unfortunate man. How was he to know that your affection was the one thing you could not give him?
Another few days into the silence, and Hyunjin had had enough.
He called to you one dinner, ushering the servants away with the flick of his hand. The dining room became all the more huge, like a lush vault, perfect for a sweet interrogation as the velvet curtains drew to a close, and the eyes of a hundred paintings focused on you. You swirled the soup with your spoon, refusing to look at him.
Damn him and his endearments. “Hmm?”
The man, too, seemed to be unsure of how to talk of the subject. “Is…” he put his cutlery on the table. “Is everything...alright as of late?”
Your gaze remained rooted to your food. “Of course,” you said. “Why would I not be?”
There was a heavy silence in the room, new and uncertain between the two of you. Your friendship with the duke had never been filled with such quiet — why were you creating such awkwardness around him?
You already knew the answer.
“Do counter me if I speak incorrectly,” he began, grabbing the stem of the wine glass. “But I have noticed you to be quite...secluded.”
“I am busy, Hyunjin,” you said curtly. “I have a whole novel to edit.”
His lips twitched downwards before opening his mouth, bringing the glass to his lips and taking a small sip. “I know you do, and you know I am proud of you for it.”
Choosing to not say anything, you tried finishing off your dinner, aware that you were losing your appetite. It seemed your husband did not want to back down tonight. “____, I feel as if you are hiding something from me.”
The spoon in your hand nearly clattered in the bowl. “And why would you think that?”
“Because—!” Hyunjin paused, downing some more wine. “I do not know, but I feel as if you do not want to speak to me.”
He was too smart for his own good. “You are imagining things,” you waved him off, finding your salad fork oh so interesting in the candlelight.
“Look at me.”
His voice stopped you cold.
Your gaze scrambled to meet his, and although his command was rough, his eyes exposed a completely different emotion.
Pure concern washed over his features as he muttered, “Have I done something wrong?”
That question broke your heart.
“No, no, of course not,” you quickly said. You bit your lip in guilt, watching him sigh, almost in relief.
This was the consequences of your actions. A man who had done nothing unjust, yet was being punished. Pure shame coursed through your veins, catching the distress on his face, and you wondered whether you were being cruel. Maybe this time, your feelings were exaggerated.
If you were aware of such truths, then why could you not look your best friend in the eye?
That night, you hurried to bed, leaning on the edge in wait for him. Your thoughts were in disarray; your heart impatiently desired his return, and your brain berated you for daring to.
Truthfully, it was horrifying how you had become so dependent on someone, when your entire life you relied on the fantasies in your head. Although your revelation was every lady’s dream in society, you felt as if another burden had been dumped upon your shoulders. This time, though, this burden would last for the rest of your life.
These thoughts were your singular company, when you lay awake all night. You were acutely aware of Hyunjin slipping between the sheets, but you did not move a muscle. A small part of you knew that if you turned, you would be unable to resist his whimsical gaze and wandering touches.
So you lay rigid, only letting yourself sleep till your best friend submitted himself to oblivion.
He, too, could not bear to live like this.
The Duke of Hastings was not a fool. He had not known you for over a decade to discard you lying through your teeth. It was beyond his understanding the reasoning of your change, but it deeply disturbed his soul.
He turned in the bed, watching your back bathed in moonlight. Why would you not tell him what bothered you? What had he done wrong?
As he watched you stay rooted in one position, his thinking turned to dark corners. A realisation struck him; you started acting this way the day after he nearly took you in the library.
This alarmed him greatly — was that why you were so troubled? Were you...uncomfortable with his touch?
His heart dropped down to his gut.
If you truly detested his affection, then he would not know what to do with himself. Recently, it was all that haunted him — you, you, and a little more you, strolling through his mind as if it were your domain, creating stories underneath his eyes. It only worsened when he discovered your sweet moans, triggered by his kisses and touches. God, the very thought of you, whining his name as you touched yourself, brought him a familiar feeling amplified. So ardently he wished to taint you further.
Even thinking of the images had him clutching his pillow tighter, fingers aching to turn you over.
However, the harsh fact was that you could not bear to look at him, and he had to live with that. Questioning you was of no use.
Hyunjin only prayed that he did not scare you off.
Unfortunately for him, his prayers were not to be answered.
Days passed, and the distance grew. The man dared not say a word to you in fear you would stray further, and you dared not approach him in fear you would fall harder. It was the most abhorrent situation, and you knew you had to get away somehow.
Fate spoiled your plans when Hyunjin revealed some news.
You looked at the invitation in slight horror. “A ball?”
Scratching the back of his neck, he explained further. “When we were...interrupted that day…” he sighed a little. “It was Seungmin who was downstairs.”
“Kim Seungmin? Has he returned from the States?”
“Yes,” he confirmed. “And he has decided that the first thing he wishes to do is throw a huge ball in celebration of his return.” A roll of eyes followed. “Forever the dramatist.”
You restrained your laughter. “It has been over 2 years since we met,” you wondered out loud.
“Well, you can meet him at his estate when we attend the ball.”
He felt your eyes on him as he declared his words. Awaiting your outright rejection, settling down on the chair in the living room. You watched his thighs tense under the peach trousers as he folded a leg over the other — damn him for being too attractive to refuse.
“Very well,” you only said, not ignoring the nerves which threatened to take over. They increased a little at seeing the smile on your husband’s face.
You needed to stop leading the man on. Never could you go to the ball with him.
“It is a week from now,” he added, bobbing his foot excitedly. “I shall write back in acceptance as soon as possible!”
Nodding, you returned to your reading, hoping the faux conversations were enough distraction.
A week. Seven days to somehow escape from this event, or else everyone would see you enter the ball as an official couple, and then your fate as another man’s property would be sealed.
Had he ever made you feel as such?
You did not let yourself ponder over this further. Your only objective was getting out of this invitation.
However, you were a duchess. Trying to hide yourself from London society was an unattainable feat.
The reminder had you nearly ripping the page off your book, too stressed to read on.
This became your focus of the next week, pondering over the night of the ball, scouring your mind with the possibilities which may occur at Seungmin’s estate. As the days neared, Hyunjin insisted you go shopping in search of a special ball gown, and you only obliged so you did not have to be in the same house as him. Still, if he was not there physically, his image preyed upon you in the markets, constantly reminded of his opinions and likings in every fabric you ran your hands upon.
There was no escaping him. You were disgustingly obsessed.
Purchasing everything you needed, you requested it to be charged on Hastings’ tab, a privilege awarded to you ever since your joining with the duke. You always argued that you wished to spend your own money, but he would not listen.
“But I adore spoiling you, angel,” he would merely say, and buy up half the boutique, leaving you a flustered mess. The conversations did not leave you as you bought your dresses and accessories, returning home and dreading interaction.
Excusing yourself, you shut yourself in your room once more, and wrote.
Wrote away your soul in the last days, till it was the morning of the fated event. The sun shone magnificently on your home, but failed to radiate its light on your darkened mood. You had no choice on the matter — you were to accompany Hyunjin to Seungmin’s celebrations, and that was final.
You were about to fake typhoid when a letter arrived for you.
It was from your mother; she wrote in question of your wellbeing, and how much she felt your absence in the house. The content was not very interesting, and you debated writing back with a lack of enthusiasm when you read the last section.
She mentioned tonight’s ball — more significantly, how she felt ever so lonely without you with her, “enlivening her spirits”. The praises were nothing further from the truth, but it was her confession which had an idea rushing to your head.
“Lonely without me, huh?” you murmured, as you rang a bell for a maid. Arriving, you requested for a little trunk, asking for your new dress and other adornments to be packed. “For once, Mama, you have been useful.”
The packing did not take much time, the other servants calling for a carriage as you made preparations to leave for a night. Hyunjin, making his presence known, descended down the stairs, a grin upon his face as his hand fished in his inner pockets.
When he saw your endeavours, though, his beaming flickered. “What is going on here?” he asked, refusing to look away from your luggage.
You turned to him, mustering up the bravado to face him with your decision.
“I received a letter from Mama this morning,” you explained to him in faux ease, gesturing for the servants to bring your belongings outside. “She is feeling rather lonesome, so I thought to see her.”
The man was not convinced in the slightest. “Since when did you garner sympathy for your mother?”
Never confide in your best friend again. “Please,” you stressed, holding the letters in your hands. “She still took care of me the best she could. Plus, I would never want to be lonely at that age.”
He was not listening to this explanation though, his hands going into his pockets. “When will you be back, darling?”
The endearment made this all the worse. “The morning after.”
A heavy pause instilled on the both of you before he broke it. “But...but the ball. A-are you to just...abandon the invitation altogether?”
“No!” you began, locking your hands behind your back. “No, I shall meet you at Seungmin’s estate. It is a small setback, but—”
“____, this will be our first social event as husband and wife!” he countered, you grimacing at his minor outburst. “I want you by my side when we walk down the steps!”
“But I will be there, Hyunjin!” you exclaimed. “I do not understand why you suddenly want to follow these silly traditions!”
Gritting his teeth, your friend pinned you with his stare, growing fiery the longer you held it. Traditions never interested him, but this one had been a certainty he had been looking forward to. The image of you, descending the stairs with your hand on his arm, brought him an absurd amount of joy.
But there you were, bursting his bubble of dreams.
“Why is this all coming to light today?” he muttered, taking a step towards you. “Why, on the day of the event, you decide to tell me that you would rather go with your mother, who never truly cared for you, than me?”
Than me, who always did?
You dared not answer his question truthfully — instead, you let your undeserved anger take the reins of your tongue.
“So you are already suspicious!” you snapped. “Why am I not surprised in the slightest?”
His eyes narrowed at the statement. You did not look into it further as you turned on your heel, heading towards the door. “Do not run away from me, ____!” He shouted, following after you. “Tell me what you implied from that horrendous comment!”
“Oh, let me uncover it clearly for you, dearest,” you snarled, standing at the doorway. The words which were to leave your mouth had sure consequences, but in the moment, you did not care. All you wanted then was an escape.
“You accuse me of scheming and demand me things which I do not want to give you.”
Your hand gripped the letter behind you. “You’re becoming the one thing I feared, Hyunjin. You’re turning into a typical male.”
The man froze entirely at your claims.
Did not utter a defense against him as you sighed out, glancing away from his shell-shocked eyes. You did not bid your farewells as you descended down the stairs, reigning in your temptation to look back as you made your way to your transport through the gardens.
As you slipped inside the carriage, clasping your hands in your lap, you wondered whether you had taken a step too far.
You wondered, with rising dread, whether you had broken your best friend’s heart.
MAYBE RUNNING TO YOUR MOTHER HAD NOT BEEN THE BEST OF IDEAS.
Biggest reason being that she was truly a pain in the rear. The moment your carriage had arrived on the rocky entryway of your mother’s manor, she rushed down the steps. After engulfing you with an embrace which might have caused a minor stroke, she hurried you inside, her servants bringing your possessions.
You did not particularly miss your previous abode, although it gave you small relief. You passed the familiar hallways, and settled in the nostalgic parlour room where your mother gushed over your presence.
Still, this manor did not seem like home to you.
Conversation was mostly struck from your opposite, you nearly silent as the woman vented out her frustrations of every family in London, drinking her tea and urging you to take a biscuit or two. Your stomach was void of an appetite, missing other emotions which you abandoned on the other side of the city.
By the time evening arrived, all you wished to do was hide yourself into your old room, but your mother would not accept. Having the maids open your trunk, they brought out the ball gown you had picked for the occasion.
It was a dark, seductive red, swell of its puffs cuffed with black lace — this lace scattered over the fabric, lining not only the neckline but down the chest, rose-like stitches etched onto the bust. The high-waistline also bled further black stitching, almost all over the gown as it fell to the floor, with a midnight ribbon trailing at the back.
You bit back a fevered sigh. Hyunjin would have adored this gown.
The thought had you pursing your lips, requesting the gown be pressed. Then, walking over to the dressing table, you settled yourself onto the seat, using the accessories bought previously to style yourself. With the assistance of a few maids, you managed to accentuate your hair, adding small pearls within the locks.
The ballgown came back in an instant, and you undressed yourself, waving away the girls in your room. Firstly, you slipped on a thin chemise — then, you allowed a maid to enter to help with the corset, who tightened it at the back without mercy to your body. Barely able to breathe, you loosened it slightly after the girl left, focusing your attention on the gown. After adorning the petticoats and white stockings, you adorned your attire, slowly as to not crease its fabric. Hooking the back yourself, you turned to the mirror, holding the black gloves.
There was no doubt about this countenance — it was exactly to your husband’s taste. Clamping your lips together, you donned the gloves, the silk smooth beneath your touch as you filled them to the fingertips. With one final peek at yourself, you slipped into your shoes, and left the bedroom.
You were a fool to think of any other person but your mother welcoming you at the entrance, but wishful thinking had always been your flaw. Her string of compliments had you adorning a ghost of a smile, but you did not say much as you both climbed into the carriage, instructing to journey to Seungmin’s estate.
Without a novel to distract you, you fell into a habit of clasping and unclasping your hands as you sat, waiting for the ride to be over. Your mother was small comfort as she filled the silence for you, but even her voice strained your mood — you wished for other discourse, or other meaningless entertainment.
You ached for laughter.
Whatever. This was your consequence. You must bear with it.
If your mother knew of your troubles, she certainly did not voice them out loud. She did ask of your relationship with Hyunjin, but you waved her off with false reassurances — you could not have her prying into your private life.
“I hope he has burned off your silly writing fancy!” she drawled, catching the lights of the destination flickering closer to our transport. “As a wife you have much more important duties.”
Gazing afar through the window, you spoke your truth. “Actually, Mama, he encourages it.” A small chuckle escaped you. “I think he wants me to be an author more than I do.”
“Oh?” The woman brought a hand to her chin, impressed. “That is a rare occurrence indeed.”
Catching your raised brow, she scoffed. “Do not gawk as if you are not aware of men. I am shocked he has given you freedom.”
You listened to her, watching the estate linger closer. “Child, you have found a man who does not restrict you in your passions. I do not know how you accomplished such a feat, but you must be extremely thankful.” A glance was stolen towards her. “Such husbands only exist in those books you love so much.”
Before you could comment on her statement, the carriage slowed to a stop, reaching the final stop. The footmen opened the doors, and your mother stepped out first before you followed, careful not to ruin your dress on the pathway.
The crowds had you leading inside the estate, luxury which could compete with the Duke of Hastings being exulted in every corner of the interior. Dozens of lords, ladies and other aristocrats wandered in all places of the house, your own mother being swept away by her friends in her social circle. Your presence felt less relevant with each passing second, fearing you would lose yourself in the rush of golden curtains, rose perfume and unwelcome conversation.
You thought that this ball would grant solitude, but then you heard the bright drawl of a familiar lord.
“By God, is that my dear bookworm I see before me?”
Jumping from the voice, you whirled on your heel. A surprised smile caught on your face.
The said-man returned your shock with a mischievous grin. Lord Kim Seungmin changed greatly since the last time you saw him — what was once thinned, pale cheekbones were now full and golden, amplifying his eye-smile, which he did not lose in the Americas. He was adorned in navy blue, contrasting with his off-coloured pants, black hair styled effortlessly away from his forehead.
“My goodness!” he began, strolling over to you with his mahogany cane. “Even after two years you upkeep your radiance.”
“You flatter me,” you said as your smile widened. “You certainly have changed. I adore the tan!”
“I fear you are the sole admirer,” he confided, narrowing his gaze at his incoming guests. “As if I wish to look like a ghost among men!”
“You have earned my approval, at least,” you complimented in earnest. “Not that it would matter much.”
Seungmin scoffed at your comment. “Says one of the most affluent women in the country! When were you going to tell me you were Hyunjin’s bride?”
Your irritation sparked as your heartbeat raced. “It was very recent, I admit. I would have sent word, but it would not have reached you.”
“I daresay I am not surprised.”
You peered at him, then. “No?”
He gave you an incredulous look. “My dear, everyone anticipated the occasion. Only you were clueless to the possibility.”
Gritting your teeth, you jabbed him with your hand, causing him to chuckle. “Ow! I was hoping you would mature by this time! No doubt your duke encourages this!”
Preferring to stay silent on the matter, Seungmin continued on the subject, making it difficult. “Where is he, by the way? Gossip tells me it is your first ball as a couple.”
“Is he not here?” A shake of his head had your nerves creeping back. “Oh, um, my mother was alone, so I thought to accompany her instead.”
You nearly grimaced at his callous features. “How bizarre,” he murmured. He then offered you his arm. “If so, then allow me to accompany you in his absence.”
Accepting his arm, he helped you navigate your ways through the huge foyer, the grand stairs welcoming you two as dozens upon dozens of aristocrats came into view — the host nodded his head in greeting at every passerby, leading you down each step, until your feet landed on the floor of the ballroom.
Examining the area, you marvelled at the pastels colouring each wall, corner and crevice of the vast space in the room. Sweet music filled the air, and murmurs of many ladies and gentlemen resonated everywhere around you, growing louder as their eyes rested on you, your sensual attire, and the lack of husband on your arm.
“How about a dance, Duchess?” Seungmin asked you as he brought you closer to the center.
Instantly you shook your head, stopping in your tracks. “No,” you refused, tugging on his arm. “I have no wish for dancing this evening.”
“As if you ever have,” he mused, earning your glare. “I presume you await for your beau? Everyone knows you dance first with him.”
A sharp breath exhaled from your nose. “Nevermind that, just take me where the cakes are.”
Laughter spilled from his lips, stirring you to the refreshments. “As you wish, ____.”
Making your way through the guests, you finally ended up where the food resided, tables lined from one corner of the room to the other, flanked in every type of nourishment. Your gaze found stands of cakes, and you left your hand on your friend’s arm, raised towards the deserts. As soon as a servant handed you a plate, the chocolate cake was in your hold.
“Honestly,” the host started, as you cut a piece with a fork, digging straight in. “And they call you the pinnacle of grace!”
“Who in heaven said that?” you asked, baffled as you ate another small piece. Seungmin, snapping his fingers, brought a tray of champagne over to you. Picking up two flutes, you began, “For me?”
Downing the first, he offered you a grin. “What made you think that?” he replied, already sipping the second. “My party, my alcohol.”
This time you giggled at his demeanour, he handing you a drink as you finished your cake. The bubbly goodness was welcomed, warming you up and calming your senses.
After the third glass, the champagne-induced man let out a huge sigh. “Right!” he exclaimed, propping the glasses on the table beside you. “I must find myself a pretty lady to dance with.”
“Do try to stay on your feet, Seungmin,” you said, raising your flute in toast.
“No promises!” he merely countered, disappearing into the crowd.
Your smile faded at the isolation which hit.
There you were — hundreds of people surrounding you, many potential partners to dance with, yet there you were, hand not in another hand but wrapped around your alcohol.
You could not blame a single soul. This was all your doing.
That had you consuming the champagne to the last drop.
At least there was some form of relief in this ball, as you watched Seungmin and about a dozen couples form a circle at the center of the room. With the first opening of the music the host led his partner, all the others following suit.
Watching the waltz had you remembering the last dance, the fateful night where this union came into fruition. Your friend’s smile, his hand on another’s waist, all these images reflected the very same you experienced many weeks before.
You bit the inside of your cheek, reminiscing deeper and deeper. You hated how every fibre of your body ached for his presence. The worst part was that it was not mere lust, or the carnal desire which erupted at his thought.
You longed for him — his banter, his mischievous eyes, and his rather heart-wrenching smile.
The music heightened, the climax of the dance falling on the ball room as Seungmin whirled and whirled his partner, a string of giggles faintly heard from the crowd. When he twirled her one last time, he caught her instantly, at perfect harmony with the ending of the sweet melody.
Applause scattered across the hall as the couples bowed to each other.
A curse escaped you then.
There was simply no doubt of your feelings — avoiding him could never be the solution.
This revelation may have arrived at the perfect time.
Because, as the music played once more, a figure emerged at the entrance.
The murmurs, one by one like a slow wave, died down as they caught sight of him, gazes shocked.
Sipping your champagne, quite puzzled, you turned to the origins for this change of atmosphere.
Every atom in your body stilled.
Froze completely at the sight which stood at the foot of the steps.
You were unable to suppress his name.
It was as if, by a miracle, he heard your shivered whisper — his eyes skimmed the crowd, frantic beneath the calm.
They found you in the chaos.
Your very breath disappeared from your lungs.
Hwang Hyunjin looked like the devil’s greatest fantasy; as if he stole the night and imprisoned it in his attire. He was adorned in lustrous black, waistcoat patterned with red swirls of velvet. His collar was slightly ruffled, cravat of midnight as it barely brushed against his chin. His tailcoat somewhat glistened in the chandelier light, dark leather boots still as he stood before the hall.
His greatest change was his hair. Once golden like the lights of heaven, it was now as black as the underworld. Half of the locks were swept up in a ponytail, the rest curling at his shoulders.
The flute nearly dropped from your hands.
Seungmin, finding his friend on the steps, burst into a smile. “Hastings!” he broke through the silence with enthusiasm. With his voice the crowd fell into frenzied discourse, the host making his way through his guests, strolling towards the new arrival. “By God, it has been too long!”
Hyunjin hummed, not particularly interested in what he had to say. His gaze from you did not stray for a heartbeat. Seungmin, catching on, wrapped a hand around his friend’s shoulder. “I see you only came for one person,” he said, leading him to where you stood.
Champagne was not the only substance which heated you further, cheeks growing warmer the closer he walked over to you. Every move he emitted exuded sensuality, as if his bones were made of silk.
You let yourself to a third serving when he stopped before you, Seungmin clapping his hands together in excitement. “Look at the two of you!” he proclaimed. “Your clothes match so perfectly!”
Sure enough, both of you adorned the same hues of dark reds and raven blacks. You felt his eyes rake over you, and you restrained to not do the same, lest you let more than your stare wander. “I always knew you two were right for each other,” your friend continued, grabbing his fourth flute, drinking away in glee. “I am overjoyed to see that you both see it.”
Something cold swirled in your husband’s stare, and you ran a finger along the empty glass, embarrassed to hear such genuinity. “Hyunjin, the second waltz is about to start.” He gestured his flute towards you. “I know you always dance with each other first.”
The duke’s eyes flickered to the host for a mere second before pinning on you again. “I have no desire for dancing tonight.”
You had trouble downing your drink. “How strange...” Seungmin noted, darting between the couple. “Your wife here said the same thing not an hour ago.”
“Did she now?”
The silence that followed was quite unbearable. Even your friend was unimpressed, offering Hyunjin a drink from the waiters nearby. “Oh, you both are such bores! Maybe marriage is not the solution after all.”
You dared not look at him then, fiddling with your black ribbon. “I need to get drunk!” the host declared, tutting his head at the tension created. “I will come again when you two stop being so bloody shy.”
Shy would not be the most accurate term, but Seungmin was too intoxicated to care. He strolled to compliment a gathering of ladies within your radius, which left you with the one man you feared to be alone with.
Hwang Hyunjin, in his changed, midnight glory, watching you with an indecipherable intensity. Creating the wildest butterflies ever felt inside your body.
You did not know where to start.
The man did not understand where to begin either, tongue at loss for words. There were too many words to spill, too many feelings left constricted.
He wished to say something, but his senses had failed him. So, much like you, he stayed silent, wondering if the two of you would ever break this barrier.
Even then, he could not help but linger closer, leaning against the lush walls of the room, right beside you. His presence was a blessing and a curse at the same time.
Tailcoat brushing against your skirts, he examined the ballroom along with you, itching to reach for your hand. He would never really, but in that moment, you were beyond tempting.
You see, he had no idea what you would wear tonight, and after the spat at Lansdowne, he yearned for change — hence the raven hair and darkened clothing, so unlike his usual pastel attire. He did not even think that you would attend the ball in fear of his presence, but seeing you before him, engulfed in his favourite colours…
He would have damned society and taken you in this very hall.
Daringly, he let himself wonder whether you felt the same — he heard your shocked murmur when he arrived, and the further shocked stare which made him ever so smug. If only you would let him do something about it.
If only you would let him ease this tension before it spiralled out of control.
His thoughts were rudely interrupted as Seungmin came stumbling back, alcohol, swishing back and forth in his new glass as he giggled at his guests. “Dear friends!” he broke out, hands raised, some of the drink accidentally slipping out. “Oh, forgive me, gentlemen!”
You heard Hyunjin sigh beside you as he held his own hands out to steady his friend. “Steady now, man!” he warned. The drunkard only chortled, foot stepping onto your dress.
“You should not have drank so much!” you scolded, raising your skirts. Glimpses of your stockings came into display, and Seungmin shrieked.
“Careful duchesh!” he slurred excitedly, leaning right into you and wiggling the glass as if it were a finger. Unfortunately, he had little control over how hard he shook his alcohol, and it all spilled over.
Right onto your white stockings.
Yelping, you saw the middle part stain in pinkish-red, murking the material with every drop landing. “Seungmin!” you yelled in agitation.
“Oh bollocksh!” he cursed, causing a few gasps around the hearing radius. “I apologishe, dear, so very very much—”
Hyunjin, witnessing the scene, stopped a nearby servant. “Please tend to your master, here,” he ordered, pointing towards Seungmin begging for your forgiveness. Nodding, the boy took the host away, the latter hiccuping as he asked for more wine. “And do not give him any more to drink!” the duke added.
Focusing on you, he rushed over, assessing the mess made. “Damn fool has spilled quite a bit.” Whirling his head to any exits, he spotted a dark hallway, remembering the route of the estate. “Come with me.”
You glanced at him, frantic. “Where to?”
He did not answer fully as he wrapped a hand around your waist, almost making you forget that you had wine spilled over you. “Seungmin has many spare rooms,” he explained, leading you out of the ballroom. Thankfully, the crowd was too occupied in preparing for the second waltz to care for the distressed couple.
Keeping your skirts raised, you managed to keep your gown safe from spillage as Hyunjin led you down the less crowded hallways, depictions of the Kim family painted on the walls. “Ah!” He got out, reaching to a familiar room as he opened it, ushering you inside. “This is where I usually reside whenever I stay at the estate.”
The room was basked in dark, velvety colours, perfect for the man next to you. Lush carpet underneath, the huge bed, nestled at the wall at your right had its curtains drawn, revealing glistening indigo sheets, matching the framing of the bedroom. Dressing tables, wardrobes and the like were furnished at each corner, your focus drifting back to the dweller.
There was barely any light, save for the oil lamp sparked to life by his match. Setting it to the side of the bed, it brought much more life to the room, previously engulfed in mystery.
Without the upheaval, the space was basked in silence. You realised the hand on your back was sorely missed, and Hyunjin, standing a few feet away, clenched and unclenched that very hand, yearning for his fingers upon you once more.
But the two of you kept playing that little game of keeping quiet. Sooner or later, one of you will have enough of this sickening ploy.
Groaning, you walked over to the edge of the bed, kicking your heels off as you saw your stockings, fully stained. “Damn it,” you muttered, promising Seungmin murder.
Another few minutes of your grumbling, and he had had enough.
“Maybe I can be of assistance.”
Perking up, you found Hyunjin, walking slowly to you, hands fumbling in his coat pockets. After a few seconds of rummaging, he brought out a package, tied with red string.
You raised a brow. “What is this?”
“Open it,” he merely said, taking a step closer as he held it before you.
Hesitantly accepting, you tugged on the end of the bow, unraveling the tie. You did not forget the stare which rested on you the entire time you opened the wrappings.
When the paper unfurled, you examined the contents.
Before you were a folded pair of black stockings.
A soft exhale escaped as you beheld the present, the midnight silk soft to the touch, already aware of its rich feel. You delved in further, and uncovered white ribbons at the top, for tightening their grip.
“How…” you trailed off, dumbfounded at the coincidence. “How did you…?”
“No, no, this was…” he locked his hands behind his back. “Something I was supposed to give you this morning.”
“Oh.” This morning. When you two had that particularly nasty fight. “I see.”
You glanced down at the present again. Hyunjin had proven, once again, how refined his taste was. “I have never seen such exceptional detail on stockings before.” Discarding the paper at your feet, you ran your thumb across the material. “I doubt this suits me at all.”
There was a pause at that.
You knew there was something he wanted to say. The way his jaw ticked, the boot lightly tapping on the floor — he was bursting to add a comment which may be a risk, considering the circumstance of your relations.
Allowing yourself to be the first to dare, you peered up at him. The curiosity, explicit in your eyes, had him clearing his throat.
His hesitancy faded. “Show me, then.”
Catching the ferocity in his stare, you swallowed, hand at your skirts. “If…if you wish.”
And that was all he needed to begin.
You watched as the man descended on his knees, lingering upon you until he looked down, revealing your white-clad legs the further you raised your gown. You stopped before the ends, holding onto your skirts and petticoats as if your life depended on it.
Hyunjin’s gaze did not waver as his hand raised forward, finding themselves upon the bow at the top of the stockings as the other gently held your ankle. Untying the ribbon, he hooked his fingers under the tight fabric, your skin brushing against his knuckles. Slowly, he pulled down the stocking, uncovering your skin before him under the dim lamp light. When it bunched up, his hand at your ankle stretched the ends of fabric, sliding the stocking right off.
Discarding it behind him, he repeated the unveiling on the other leg. He noticed your skin heating underneath his touch, and he dared not expose his growing delight.
Once the other half slid off, joining its partner, a hand raised in front of you. You stared at him in dazed confusion, and his fingers curled, save for the pointer directed at your present.
“The stockings, darling.”
The endearment had you falling short — his caresses on your shin brought you back to consciousness, your hand beyond your control as it handed the gift to him. Taking it, he put one of them beside him, bunching the other with his hands till he directed the entrance to your foot on his lap.
Slipping them on, he worked his way upon your heel; his hands were slow, fingers softer than the silk beginning to cover your leg. Every fleeting touch had small shockwaves coursing up your body, as if it was the first time he laid his hands on you. How were you so unaccustomed to his caresses still?
Maybe because he knew how to agonise you.
When reaching above your knee, he brought the ends of the stocking to your thigh. His fingers fell to the ribbon dangling from the underside and, with the utmost care, began to tie the two pieces together, forming a pretty red bow.
As he closed the pattern, he tightened the bow, securing the fabric — snuffing out any possibility for the fabric to fall.
He then continued on the other leg, gaze flickering from your legs to your face. He caught every laboured breath you released, every flutter of your eyes slipping you in and out of a daze. His fingers were slower still, as if he never wanted this to stop. The stockings were like a second skin, adding a lustre to your legs the more he covered you with it.
Sliding over your knee for the last time, he held onto the blood-coloured ribbons. Fingers skimming against silk-stained skin, he tied another perfect bow, tightening it at the ends.
His gaze lingered on the bows, the sliver of skin past your thighs. His hands too, refused to leave your legs.
It was then his eyes flicked upward — right into yours.
You caught every swirl of desire residing inside.
Every little detail etched on his face was stained with lustful anguish, suppressed hunger of things you dared not imagine. You held onto your skirts with more force, afraid you would lose strength in your hands.
Hyunjin’s hands, however, had no such troubles.
For they began to carry out his wishes — they slid upwards, past the stockings and upon your upper thighs, spreading them enough to slip himself between your legs. This alone had you near crumbling for him, but his eyes asked for more. Even with the dim light, you had never seen a man so beautiful in agony.
You wondered whether he was going to say anything. Silence was a giver of many answers, but the questions you held could only be answered by his lulling whispers. Despite protest, you willed your hands beside you, clutching the sheets, waiting for him to tear your soul in pieces.
Finally, the Duke of Hastings parted his mouth.
“One word, angel.”
He squeezed your thighs softly.
“One word, and I will never torment you with my presence again.”
A bated breath escaped you.
It was much too late for that. Hyunjin had already tormented you, had done so ever since your fateful realisation, and you knew he would do so for the rest of your life. It would hardly matter whether he was oceans apart or a hair’s breadth close — him, and everything he represented, was complete and utter affliction.
Such a shame that he was a torment you would sacrifice everything to be around every day. Such a horrible, horrible shame that Hwang Hyunjin was a presence you loved more than you could let on.
Hence was the reason you did not answer him with words. What you wished to say was much too vulnerable.
No, you answered him in actions — replied with your hands raising to clasp his face, leaning down to envelope your lips with his.
You were surprised to hear a pained moan leave his mouth, and you realised that was the sound of pure, heart-breaking relief. Instantly his hands travelled further as he kissed you back with twice the fervour, hands sliding to grip your waist. Pulling you to him, he erased any distance between you, delving deeper into your mouth. He shuddered at how he went so long without your tongue swirling along with his, like parting from a lost companion.
Fingers sliding to his neck, you welcomed his enthusiasm, his desperation which heightened with every searing touch, every soft bite of his teeth against your lips. He broke away, peppering open-mouthed kisses along your jaw, eliciting the sweetest whining from you.
“...missed you,” he murmured on your skin, sending chills down your body as he kissed the edges of your dress's neckline. “I...missed you so much.”
“Hyunjin—” you began, wanting to say that you yearned for him, but the words on your tongue faded when his fingers bunched up the skirts of your gown, hitching it higher until the midnight stockings were back in view — he did not stop there, pushing the fabric further till it bunched at your waist, along with the petticoats. His hurried hands pulled down your underthings, sliding them right off your legs, discarding them behind them.
Seeing your cunt glistening in the lamplight nearly broke him.
“I—God,” he breathed out, hands spreading your legs apart. An aching whine escaped you at the action, the cool night air caressing your inner thighs. “Angel, tell me...we do not have to do this.” He glanced up at you, and the madness residing in his eyes infected your soul.
Maybe madness was the only reason you damned the consequences.
“Don’t you dare stop.”
Hyunjin licked his lips before blessing you with his closure.
The first stripe across your slit set you on fire.
A soft groan through your mouth at the familiar sensation, the overbearing feeling of being ascended far away from this obscure bedroom. He had always worked wonders, but this time, the languor had faded, desire hardening his tongue against your folds. He pulled on your legs, sending his face further into your cunt, and you yelped at the ferocity of his actions.
There was no denying it — the man had grown frantic without you.
Swiping in the arousal coating along your slit, a satisfied hum escaped him as he travelled upwards, your seething more encouragement. He struck gold as he found your clit, circling his tongue along the bud, rendering you helpless as you moaned without shame. You cared little if the guests heard you beyond the door, your husband making it too hard to contain yourself.
Perhaps you would have survived his treatment if he did not leave one of his hands upon your leg, trailing up your thigh. He slipped in not one, but two fingers straight inside, and your voice raised an octave — the gradual rhythm of his digits had that overflowing feeling creeping over you all over again. Your grip on his half-ponytail tightened, pleading for him to give you mercy, but the man was relentless, never opting for a break in his devouring.
“Damn it, please—” you grated out, instinctively rolling your hips against his face. The edge of the bed seemed more like the edge of the world. “Wh-whatever you do—”
You did not finish as Hyunjin squeezed your thigh, and you knew then in your dazed mind — a certainty that he understood.
Within moments his pace quickened, fuelling the spark of nerves which swirled in your gut, threatening to overtake you. Teething your clit softly, then swirling his tongue along, you knew that if he carried on, he would break you on this bed. Something within you felt as if that was his was his very purpose.
Why the thought thrilled you, you would never know.
His rapid fingers and sensual tongue working harmoniously finally got through to you, as, with a whimpering cry, you came all over him, closing your eyes as spots of white stained your mind. You felt his ministrations slow, a small kiss gifted upon your sensitive clit before his lips pulled away. Other hand brushing across your leg, he soothed you from the high you experienced, whispers of his lilting voice perking you from your stupor.
“Hyunjin?” you quietly called, gazing at his lust-struck face. He did not look away as he brought the finger to his lips, sucking away at your residue.
You did not think you could ever get used to this image.
“Yes, angel?” he rasped out, straightening on his knees so his head nearly levelled with yours.
Catching the implications within your eyes, his own widened slightly.
“More?” he let himself wonder, and when you nodded much too desperately, he realised he had done it.
All he needed was for you to voice it.
“Oh, my sweet little darling,” he whispered, taking one of your gloved hands. Slowly, he slid off the long gloves, repeating the same for the other. “This time, I cannot let you off.
His hands then clasped yours. “This time...I need you to say what you want for me.”
The declaration would have had you closing your legs in embarrassment if your husband was not between them. Not even embarrassment for what he said but...the idea of you wanting to completely oblige it.
Look at you — a few months ago, you possessed not a single inclination of what he suggested; what he asked for, what he so direly wanted you to say. The woman before this one would have rather buried herself under the earth than admit such desire for a man.
The Duke of Hastings, though, brought her out from her underground retreat, and revealed to her all that she was capable of. He showed her what everyone was so afraid to even talk about, and made you addicted to what was forbidden.
A dire shame you wanted Hyunjin to keep you intoxicated for the rest of your life.
You faced him once and for all. Asked him for the one thing which you never thought imaginable.
“Show me...all of it.”
Your hands travelled to his shoulders, keeping him close.
“Show me everything.”
If there was a way to bottle this moment and hang it on the walls of his heart, Hyunjin would have jumped at the chance.
Had he defiled you, after so long? Had he slipped his dirty fantasies into your mind, tainted you with his infatuation?
The answers to his questions were found upon your lips. He collided his own against yours as he gathered you up in his arms, standing up and taking you with him.
Your legs would have given way if we’re not for him keeping his grip — a grip which wandered upwards, catching the little metal hooks of your dress. He thrust his tongue inside your mouth, and the harsh frenzy delighted you, welcoming all of it as you opened for him wider. A shuddered breath escaped you at the hooks being undone by his hands, one by one till you felt your gown loosen.
At the last hook, Hyunjin pulled the sleeves off your arms, and the dress fell to the floor, leaving you with your corset and petticoats. You were caught off guard when he swivelled you around, you feeling the tugs of lace being unravelled with each pull of his fingers. The kisses did not cease, being rewarded at the crook of your neck. Each caress of his lips sent shivers down your spine — more so when he eased off the corset from your body, tugging off your petticoats along with it.
All that was left was a thin, loose chemise, everything shown clearly beneath the white veil of its fabric. The man turned you to face him again, and his gaze turned molten at the sight that welcomed him. Taking your lips in his, he ripped off his own attire — the long coat, waistcoats, every piece from the waist up being discarded. He had to break away for a moment to take his shirt off, and you caught the sight of his lean figure, turned golden in the light.
You could not help reaching out, running your curious fingers against his skin, soft and warm beneath your touch. He dared not speak, fearing you would take away your hand, but that was the last thing you wanted to do.
Tonight, you did not want distance — and neither did he.
Kissing you again, he pulled the lace in front of your chemise, loosening the attire until, with wandering hands, he dropped the last layer you upheld. Slowly, never leaving your lips, he backed you against the bed, holding you steady as he laid you upon the sheets. You never let go of him, aching to take all of him in your mouth, taste his very soul till it was the only thing that remained on your tongue.
“Fuck—” a curse escaped him as he broke away, catching the swelling of your lips. His gaze trailed downwards, upon your breasts which perked at the sight. “You’re so—so beautiful, I—”
Trails of open-mouthed kisses attacked you after, falling upon your breasts where Hyunjin began swiping his tongue along the nipple. The foreign wave of pleasure had you ripping out the most atrocious moan, caring less if the whole manor were to hear.
While his tongue played with you, his fingers worked at his trousers, unbuckling his belt as he peeled off the clothing, tossing it to the ever growing pile. You craned your head forward, glancing at the bulge near bursting from his underwear. A quivering sigh escaped you, rendering louder by the quickening of his actions.
Getting rid of his underwear, his cock sprung free, and you were surprised you had not passed out from the mere sight, red and angry and too bloody big. You could not stop staring, hard to believe that a man could possess such...such substantial anatomy.
“Like what you see, angel?” Your husband mused, leaving his place upon your nipple. Flustered, you tried to look away, but it was no use, when the man caught your chin with his fingers. “I’m surprised you can be shy even now.”
That did not help with your situation, causing you to heat drastically beneath his touch. Chuckling, he dropped a little kiss upon your nose before resting his forehead against yours.
Grasping his cock, he levelled it against your leaking cunt, the head teasing your folds. Even the small action had you seething, the warm residue sending shockwaves across your body. You held onto his neck, fearing you would lose yourself if you dared not hold onto him.
His midnight eyes turned to yours, noses brushing. “This may hurt for a second, ____,” he confessed, voice barely a murmur. “But I promise I will make that second up to you.”
Nodding slightly, you watched only him as his gaze travelled downwards. Fear threatened to take over, but one look at your husband, and it all faded.
With a final prayer to the heavens, Hyunjin began his descent.
Slowly, ever so slowly, his cock slid into your cunt. A heightened whine bubbled up to your throat, and you let it free with each inch that entered, terrified that this man could break you with what he slipped inside you. Your walls tightened with its entrance, and the more you voiced out the more he tended, peppering sweet kisses upon your cheeks.
You did not know how long it was till he stopped, letting you adjust to him inside you. Your eyes threatened to bulge out of their sockets, yet your husband was a huge comfort, circling smooth strokes upon your hip with his thumb, holding your face as he held the universe in his hands.
Breathing deeply, he glanced at you — a nod was your response to his consoling gaze, knowing what he meant.
With that, the duke began to pull out.
He was slow, just as he was when he first entered you. He was gradual, languid, and the terror that haunted you was replaced with a new, different kind of high.
You had never felt something so pleasurable.
You revealed your surprise to Hyunjin, stare glistening at the foreign sensation — your entire body was up in the clouds, relishing the slow withdrawal and the skill he brought in the bedroom. You were so sure that he was terrified too, scared of ruining this, but all you could feel was pure, unadulterated delight.
When the head reached the beginning of your folds once again, you thought that this was it — there was no more to be done, and your contentment was short-lived.
However, your husband surprised you as he slid inside you once again.
This time, there was a slight increase of pace, and it kept getting better, your feelings heightening with each passing second as he dipped further into you. He was so unbelievably good, knowing just how to make you whimper — God, his gaze was enough to undo you, ablaze with all the hellfire from the underworld. The devil worked hard, but Hyunjin worked overtime, bottoming out into you once more.
From that point on, your bodies began to move in sync, you giddily moving your hips along with his, aching to have him inside the whole time. Your hands carded through his velvety locks, taking out the ribbons so his hair fell all about him, curtailing his face as he rocked back and forth upon you. By God, he was so exquisite, something straight out of an artist movement, despite the sweat beading down his forehead, despite the parted mouth, the slight panting.
“H-Hyunjin—” you began, interrupted by another sharp moan from his efforts. “Hyunjin, I think I’m close—”
This time, you were interrupted by his lips upon your neck, teething love bites everywhere upon your skin. He hummed against you at your warning, and thrusted his cock into you. The head reached a certain spot which had you seeing seventh heaven, seeing truth and peace and everything in between, because fuck, he knew where to strike.
You did not know how long it had been till you felt yourself dizzying, the feeling in your lower abdomen warning you of its leash snapping. Hyunjin, aware that you were close, only brought his fingers to your clit, prodding at the bud till tears stung your eyes.
“I...fuck, angel—!” He gasped between thrusts, pressing sloppy kisses upon your lips. “Look at you, all...all messed up from my cock!”
Heightened wailing was your response, broken murmurs being spewed from your lips. Hastily the man shook his head, revelling in your utter ruination.
“Ah—! Come on now!” he cooed in his husky rasp, holding onto your head. “Say it for me, darling.”
A part of you did not think you could manage, but you had to if it meant he would bring you relief. The duke may have been the love of your life, but he was still, undoubtedly, a smug bastard.
Despite that, you could not believe how easily you resorted to begging.
“Please, Hyunjin!” You pleaded in half-pants, the tears spilling when he delved into that one particular spot again. “Make me do—whatever the hell I do, damn it!”
Huffing out a small laugh, the man held onto you a little tighter, retaining his grin. “Oh, ____,” he said, and the next words slipped out in his haze of lust, not realising he had revealed something of terrible importance.
After planting another disheveled kiss, he murmured, “You are so lucky that I love you.”
You did not have time for this declaration to settle before your husband obliged you in the best possible way; his thrusting turned erratic, fast and uneven, and the increased pace of his fingers was too much, all at once.
You had no choice but to let out a cry as you spilled onto him — some escaped from your walls and stained the sheets, whimpering breaths keeping you alive. His ministrations slowed as well, fingers stopping at your clit.
Watching you undo yourself for him was certainly the last straw for him — for the first time he released into you, grunting at the impact. Parts of his orgasm, too, sullied the sheets, but that was the least of his concerns, as he held onto you for dear life, nearly shattering his entire self upon you.
Pulling out of you, he collapsed beside you on the bed, his deep breaths breaking the silence. You, too, panted for a while, gazing up at the dark ceiling.
You expected your first thought to be utter delight at your first time. You had finally done what no one in polite society ever told you about, and it was so wonderful that you doubt anyone would have shared in your fortune.
However, your mind was occupied with another matter entirely.
You are lucky that I love you.
You closed your eyes.
Hyunjin loved you. Hwang Hyunjin, your best friend and husband, loved you when you thought it impossible.
Something within you then wondered if it was too good to be true.
Noticing your name, you turned, finding the very man staring at you — in a way which would have your theories proven true. You did not know about yourself, but seeing him before you, black locks disheveled, skin glistening from sweat, you could not deny that anyone would fall for him if they saw him now.
You tried to push your emotions past you, blinking back a bit of fatigue. “Yes?”
“Tell me what goes on in that mind of yours.” Turning over, he propped his arm, holding his head in his hand. “Are you alright?”
Perhaps you should have opted for a vague yes, but something in you did not want to beat around the bush anymore. You wished to tell him your truth.
“I was wondering about what you said,” you began, reflecting his position.
“I have said many things, darling,” the man drawled. “What do you specifically mean?”
“Well…” you tried to avoid his gaze, but you knew by now that evading Hyunjin was useless. “Before I...you know…”
“Know what?” He mused, which had you rolling your eyes.
“You know what I mean!” Sighing, you continued, constantly looking at his features. “Well, just before that, you said something to me...is it true?”
Silence fell on the room as your husband pondered at your question. His eyebrows raised, and you realised that he had figured it out.
“Ah, yes,” he said, nodding. “I know exactly what you speak of.”
You waited for his response, suddenly aware of how naked you were in this bedroom. Dread curled at your stomach, and you debated grabbing the sheets and sneaking out of the manor.
That is when Hyunjin gave you his answer. Gave it to you as he took your hand in both of his, pinning you with a stare he reserved only for you.
“They are the truest words I have spoken.”
He leaned into you, and your heart fluttered, much more dramatically now because of what he revealed.
A soul-saving smile adorned his lips. “Despite our circumstances, it was inevitable that I would fall, and I thank the heavens that I did. I love you, ____, even if you cannot return the feeling. I love you as the friend I never had.
“I love you because you are the most inspirational woman I have ever had the pleasure to meet.”
When he finished, you wondered whether you had the words to respond to a confession as heart-wrenching as the one your husband blessed you with. Tears pricked the corners of your vision, and you leaned into his hands which cupped your face.
Brushing his lips against yours, you willingly accepted, giving him all the affection you garnered within you for so long. The tears trailed down your cheeks, and you had to pull away, hands curling at his locks.
“I-I…” you sniffled, pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Hyunjin, I-I love you so much—”
The man’s heart burst from his chest.
His rashness got the better of him, interrupting you with a searing kiss as he sunk his teeth into your bottom lip.
Never in his lust-hazed mind did he foresee you reciprocating his affection.
He was ready to spend eternity in a one-sided relationship. He was ready to stomach the melancholy you brought if you were to fall for another, or if you simply never loved at all, blankly living your life without any form of affection to give.
But…to have you fall for him.
What he said to you was wrong.
You were not lucky that he loved you.
He was lucky that you loved him.
So the Duke of Hastings, pulling the clean sheets upwards, showed you how lucky he was, deepening the kiss and you offering all of you again, moving your lips along with his.
And in this night, the two of you made another revelation — that perhaps reality was not the villain in the both of yours tales after all.
THE DAYS AFTER THE BALL WERE NOTHING BUT EUPHORIA.
You wondered whether it was all a dream, with the happiness that followed without any strings attached.
The passionate endeavours between the two of you did not stop at Seungmin’s manor — hands wandered in the carriage back home, and the moment you stepped at Lansdowne, Hyunjin backed you against the wall and ripped your dress right off, never wanting to stop ravishing you. You did not stop him, did not want to stop him, when you waited so long for him to engulf you without any barriers. By the time you both stopped in the shy hours of dawn, you had been drained of all physical strength, but filled with mental joy.
You fell in love with Hwang Hyunjin, and had the fortune of this love reciprocated.
Sometimes, you wondered if it was all a dream — a twisted, subliminal illusion, tricking you into believing that marital life is what every writer writes of in the end, the solution filled with flowers and sweet kisses. You never thought, even in your wildest dreams, that you could achieve such bliss with another.
Then, you would wake up with your husband’s arms around you, and finally understand. Finally comprehend what it meant, to never stray from a soul connected with yours.
The weeks after also brought the finishing of your novel, your childhood dream all polished in your hands as you took it to the most famous publishers in town. You had fears of the reactions, as what you wrote during certain parts of the novel was borderline scandalous, but the men at the publishing house enjoyed the first few chapters you showed them, and asked for more on the next visit.
You were overjoyed by their reaction, but then doubt entered your mind at once — what if they were only agreeable to your writing because of your position?
The thought soured your happiness. You did not want to be a writer because of your position in society, but because of your skill. There may have been thousands of other women with talents surpassing yours, but would never be able to achieve even the interest of a publisher.
Hyunjin was the first to know of your news, and the worries which accompanied it. He listened to you on your second, third visits, scoffing at your disbelief of your turn of events. It was ridiculous in his mind how ardently you doubted yourself, waving off the publishers’ interests in your novel as sheer luck, or your station as the Duchess of Hastings. He assured you many a time, that your flair in creating stories surpassed no man or woman living in London.
He knew those publishers well — well enough to know that they had never released a novel written by a woman, no matter how influential she may have been. Knowing you had managed to enter consideration for publishing was a feat in itself. The duke had absolutely no doubt that he would see your works in the hands of every person who knew how to read.
What you did not expect, however, was the request from the publishers to have your novel anonymously published. You demanded a reason, and they provided a whole list — women writing was only considered a secondary activity, and if word were to reach the city of a Duchess writing books instead of tending to her family, then it would cause an outrage. You could not believe your ears, despite a small part of you expecting this setback.
You wanted your name on the book.
Confiding in your husband once more, you told him of the condition, angrily pacing back and forth in your home. “It is simply...awful!” you spat, locking your hands behind your back, turning the room once more. Hyunjin watched you with a concerned look passing over his features as he looked up from his book. “Why should I hide my identity? I am proud of what I wrote, damn it!”
The man let out a sigh. “I think you should keep the name anonymous.”
That had you pausing. “I beg your pardon?” you demanded, thundering over to him. “Are you saying I conform to their conditions?”
“I am not suggesting it because of their reasoning. I know they are still too ashamed to try publishing a woman’s creation.”
Closing his book, he set it to the side table. “My love, there is nothing that brings me more joy than seeing you accomplish your dreams. I want more than anything to boast of your mind, and the writings it invents. However,” he continued, “I fear when the public sees your name printed on the novel, a controversial one at that, and see it that they attack you.”
“But that does not matter to me,” you responded, hands on your hips. “In fact, I welcome their criticism! Let me see what poppycock they want to say of my hard work.”
Hyunjin clamped his lips together, trying to hide a smile. “I am happy you do not care for such people, but it would damage your future writings. It would damage your future.”
When you frowned at him, he held out his hands. You closed the distance, settling upon his lap, sliding your arms around his shoulders, while he did the same around your waist. “Tell me, angel, do you wish to write after this?”
“Well, see it like this,” he began. “Let us say you publish the novel anonymously. It would be in instant circulation, and everyone would read it, no matter who they are. Why? Because your identity is hidden. There would be no bias against you.”
“So?” you asked, and Hyunjin gave you a look. “Okay, okay, continue!”
“As I was saying,” he carried on, “This would not only help you gain an initial audience, but, if you do wish to reveal yourself after that, then it would be perfect. You would have not only shown the public that a woman had written such a brilliant novel, but anyone who would have had previous biases would either conform to reading your writing, or be furious that they had been tricked into reading a woman’s novel.” He then added, smirking, “Which, in my opinion, would be a very amusing situation to witness.”
You thought over what he said, mind in slight conflict. “In the end, though, it is your choice,” he reassured you. “Whatever you do, you have my undeterred support.”
The little addition had you smiling. “You make valid points,” you admitted, which had the man releasing a chuckle.
“You say that as if I have no intelligence,” he jeered, pulling you closer. “You will be thanking me when all of this goes as I predicted.”
“Don’t push it,” you countered. “We both know you have been proved wrong many times.”
“Hmmm…” he trailed off, leaning in, brushing his lips upon your skin. “At least I know I am right about one thing.”
“Oh?” Your head began to swim as he trailed a few lingering kisses up your neck. “And...and what would that be?”
He did not answer you — only offered an alluring smile before pressing his lips against yours. A soft hum left you as he moved his mouth against yours, slow and languid, teasing his tongue against the seams.
You would have offered yourself right then and there if he had not broken away, drumming his fingers against your waist. The smile darkened as he gave you his reply.
“You cannot resist me, angel.”
That, no matter how much it worked against your favour, was an undoubted fact.
After this though, you made your decision to keep anonymous, letting the publishers know of your change of heart. You knew that what Hyunjin said made sense, and, if your novel does receive recognition, then revealing yourself would create a huge statement in London society, positive or not. With this in mind, brought the final edited drafts of your work, and received information of the commissions and percentages taken by the publishing house.
Because the release of your novel was to take some time, you had some freedom with your everyday activities, which were once taken up by the constant editing. The duke, luckily, had begun to employ much more able men in his authority, and so his work was decreased significantly, to the point where he had days to spend with you alone.
During that waiting period, he suggested the two of you retreat to Hemingford, where you both spent your honeymoon. Your smile never left as you jumped at the idea, the man in turn making arrangements for the earliest carriage out of the city.
Within two days, you were welcomed by the little manor, nestled in the gifts of nature. You found yourself warming to the whole place once more, memories of the past months returning in a flash. Images of the many groves of trees, small network of rivers and a special presence, soothed you in every part you walked through. You nearly forgot how dear Hemingford was to you in the chaos of city life, engulfing its regal, almost mystical atmosphere. A part of you hoped that the book would take forever to be published, so you could never leave the natural retreat Hyunjin’s ancestors had created.
The man himself was glad he opted to take you to the manor — he saw your nerves slowly taking over in London, and knew that the more you stayed in Lansdowne, the more the wait was going to eat you alive. Aware of your attachment towards this place, he made it his personal mission to bring you here, and try to provide you with a little peace. When he caught that certain smile of yours when your eyes fell on the manor and the gardens around it, he felt half his worries melting away in the spring air.
He hated seeing you so unnerved.
After a few days resting in paradise, the situation was changed for the better. You, breathing in the very earth beneath your feet, observing the trees curved over you like a concerned parent, thought that you could stay here forever. Receiving a letter from the publishers’ of the near completion of copies made only brightened your spirits, and you sighed out into nature.
“Is something the matter?”
Perking up, you saw Hyunjin, who walked over from behind you.
“Ah...not much,” you said, watching him settle beside you on the bench you sat upon, folding one dark-clad leg over the other. In his hands possessed a book of deep-shaded red, which he held with great care. “Thinking about the letter today.”
“I see.” His eyes wandered down to his fingers. “Actually, I do have something for you, relating to the subject.”
“Oh?” You followed his trail. “Does this book have something to do with it?”
“However did you figure that out?” He drawled, but then he faced you properly, unfolding his leg. “Here.”
You took the possession, eyes on him. “Whose book is it?”
A knowing smile escaped his lips. “Look at the front, angel.”
Curious, you obliged, checking the title.
You completely stilled.
Written on the front was the name of your novel.
“Oh my God,” you got out, holding it with both hands, opening it to the pages. There it all was, inscripted upon the hundreds of pieces of paper.
Your sleepless nights, your labour, your every ounce of strength, tied together by paper and leather and string.
Rushing, you opened to a random section of the novel, smile widening at the typewriter’s neat, cleaner version of your manic scribbles. The dialogue, the description of each environment — it was there before you, but this time it was not in your head, whirling indefinitely without a place to explain itself.
It was all on paper — in your very hands.
“H-Hyunjin,” you stammered out, not realising your heart was becoming a little too heavy. “Oh my God—where did you get this? Have they—they have begun to sell copies already?”
“Oh Lord,” your husband murmured, hands on your shoulders. “No, no, my love, this was of my own doing.”
When he caught the confused expression upon your aghast face, he explained further. “Before we left for London, I paid a visit to the publishers’, who had started typing up copies of your book. I requested the first copy made be given to me.”
His thumbs began to stroke soothing circles onto your skin. “I know you would have wanted to hold it in your hands before anyone else.”
Heavens above. He truly knew you so well.
You focused back on the book, closing it as you ran your fingers over the leather cover. “I…”
“No need,” he said, giving you an amused grin. “I already know I am the best husband one could ask for.”
He expected his banter to be returned, but you responded to him with a heart-shattering smile.
Holding out the book, you propped it in his hands. “I want you to have it, Hyunjin.”
This time, it was his turn to be confused. “Am I missing the joke here?”
You held his gaze, albeit with much difficulty. “I promised you something once, quite a long time ago. All my firsts are yours.”
Your hand reached out, brushing against his. “This is my first novel. My most prized possession.” A pause, before holding that state with all your might. “I would want nothing more than for you to keep it.”
The duke used his every ounce of strength not to cry upon the bench. “Well then…” he began, taking the book from you. He turned to the front page, which was blank, save for the title name again, and the written anonymously typed onto its surface. “Well, ____, you must sign it for me!”
A laugh escaped you at that. “An autograph?” You jested, spluttering further when the man brought out his fountain pen, opening the cap. “I suppose with this enthusiasm, I shall throw in a little message.”
Hyunjin slapped a hand to his chest, brows raising in mock surprise. “By God, you spoil me!”
“Give it here!” You retorted, taking the pen and book once more as you found the landing page.
You pondered for a few minutes on what to write, earning a few hurry ups! and the occasional she does not love me after all, the latter greatly exaggerated. Berating him, you finally thought of the words, arriving straight from the heart.
Finishing off, you gave the novel back. “Let us see what faux sweetening you have made for me,” he chortled, eyes lowering to the text.
His grin began to fade as he read the message in his mind.
TO THE MAN WHO WAS MY FIRST FRIEND, MY FIRST KISS, AND NOW MY FIRST LOVE.
HERE’S TO MANY MORE FIRSTS WITH YOU. I KNOW THEY WILL ALL LAST.
I LOVE YOU.
Hyunjin knew that the sting in his eyes was not the spring breeze.
Slowly, he looked up, catching you staring at him with a smile—loving smile upon your face. A shuddered breath left his lips, unable to form the words.
“Oh no,” you began, jesting despite tears welling up in your own eyes. “It seems the duke believes in my faux sweetening after all.”
A coughed laugh left him at that, trying to clamp his lips together from smiling, but his emotions refused him to suppress himself. His eyes crescented, adding to his near teary grin. Propping the book to the side, he offered his familiar stare, laced with every fibre of affection.
You jumped at the command, leaning closer as he cupped your face in his hands and pulled you to him. He moulded his lips against yours, and you readily accepted him, offering yourself up entirely for him — as if you were not completely his by your own choice.
The slight madness laced upon his mouth had you whining onto him, taking in the entirety of his affection as you opened up to him. Your request was teased upon with his tongue, sliding along your bottom lip, but the man pulled away, panted breaths fanning your mouth.
He pressed his forehead against yours, fingers holding onto your face as if letting go would cause you to stray. “I…” he let out a deep, trembling breath. “I love you, ____. So much.”
Your heart would never tire of the declaration. “I love you too, Hyunjin.”
And as he claimed your lips once more, you wondered whether you had finally achieved what every work of literature praised in the most elevated of languages.
Still, at least you knew this — that once there was a duke who you promised all your firsts to, and had somehow found his way into your heart.
There was once a woman, who refused to believe in love for herself, only for this duke to convince her otherwise, by falling for her completely.
Love stories may be a mere creation of the mind, but at least, at the very least, you knew.
Your love story was real. The first which was not mere fantasy, but real and true and tangible.
You had a feeling that this first, out of all the others you shared with the Duke of Hastings, was going to last.
2K notes · View notes