A Love by Any Measure Outtake
This brief outtake from A LOVE BY ANY MEASURE was included in an anthology which is now out of print. I thought, then, I might now share it with all of you. (Spoilers ahead.)
This would take place between Maeve and August leaving Killarney, and their arrival in England.
Maeve peeled back the curtain and looked again to the horizon. A forest of masts, some with trimmed sails, others with billowing clouds driving them to sea, as far left and right as her vantage afforded. She’d never seen a tall ship, though Owen had told her stories from the year he’d thought he’d find his lot there and sailed between Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Somehow his scant recollections of rats, men with poison tongues, and storms that made him fear his death, didn’t impress upon her their scale or grandeur.
“How many are yours again?”
“In port? Three, including the one we’ll leave out on if there’s room for us. Though I’d hesitate to call them my ships. They are the property of Grayson Commodities and Shipping. The business is more than just me.”
He hadn’t bothered to get out of bed yet this morning. Why should he? To him, this sight held nothing novel. What they’d done in the bed, however…
A traitor thought tugged at her security. There had been many of those the last few days, frankly. Maeve came away from the window and lowered herself beside him. Immediately, he wrapped his arm around her, coaxing her head to his shoulder, pressing a kiss to her forehead.
“Yes, mo chroi?”
“How many others have there been?”
He lifted his head to look down at her with confusion. “I’m not certain. A dozen ships currently, but if you mean since the founding of our industry…”
She pressed her fingertip to his lips. “Not ships. I mean, how many…” Her eyes flashed down, indicating both of their bodies. “Others?”
“Oh? Oh!” August pulled back his frame and sat up against the headboard, Maeve sitting up as well and tucking her legs under her nude frame. “You expect there were a great many, don’t you?”
“You fancy the eye and you’re a man of power. More than that, you move in a way that suggests you’ve had practice at it.” She winked at him. “You know, it.”
His smile broke a bit of her nerves. August threaded his right hand into her ebony locks and pulled her head forward, planting a kiss on her rosy lips. “My darling creature, must I divulge that? I’ve just won you over with my charm, I’d hate to lose you with my lack of chastity.”
“You think my feelings for you are that fragile, that I’d do all this, find out you weren’t as pure as I am, and run?”
He tapped the end of her nose with his index finger. “You mean, as pure as you were,” he teased. “Though I’d bludgeon any man or God who tells me you’ve lost any sanctity for having been with me, for expressing with your glorious body no less than was in your glorious heart.”
“You’re diverting me with flattery and avoiding my inquiry.”
“On the contrary, I’m merely avoiding its answer.” As Maeve’s brow furrowed, he found it in my to relent. “There have been three. The first was when I was sixteen. She, mind, was all of twenty-eight. A common woman, but still fetching to the eye and welcoming to the lot of us college boys. Very welcoming to some of us, if you understand me. Not a very memorable experience. I think it was over before I even realized she’d begun.”
“And the others?” She could hold no grudge with his for the fancy of youth. Still, her mind fretted. What concerned was not so much if August had lain with many woman. What her hear feared was that he had called out his heart’s song to another in the throes of passion as he’d done with her repeatedly the last few nights.
“A servant girl, though not my own, and not my pursuit. She tip-toed into my chamber while I stayed at an inn in Paris. And one other,” he admitted, and his smile faltered. “I am not entirely at ease with the recollection.”
Her heart seized. “Did you force yourself on her?”
“Did I what?” The skin around his eyes wrinkled. “Of course not. What I mean is, I don’t believe it was something she wished to do, only did out of a sense of obligation. I hate now that I allowed it to happen, no matter how I try to justify it, telling myself that she did not resist, refusing to acknowledge that I knew as well she did little to encourage it. I don’t want something so false again, Maeve.” His hands fell to her cheeks, framing her face as he pulled her in to press their mouths together. “I want what I have with you. I want to give you as much pleasure with my body as your body gives me. I want to deliver my heart to you, and to demonstrate its worth by providing you ecstasy.”
“Now you’re just trying to seduce me again.” She lowered her mouth to his, but he stopped her short.
“Is it working?”
Maeve pulled back the covers, exposing the evidence of his willingness to provide testimony towards his claim. She threw a leg over him. “Veritably.”