tagNonConsent/ReluctanceCarnal Knowledge Ch. 15-16

Carnal Knowledge Ch. 15-16


Author's Note: If you are looking for quick story to tickle your happy parts, this likely is not the one.

Dear Readers,

I thank you for your continued support and encouragement for more of the story. If you hadn't kept commenting and emailing me, I probably would have given up.

A few things:

1) There is a reason that this story is in the noncon section. If this is not your thing, maybe a different story would better suit your taste.

2) There's a lot more "story" in these two chapters. Some of the stuff with the supporting characters should be edited out no doubt, but it's free, it's mine, so... :)

3) I will eventually get it all written to the end. I estimate there are about 4 chapters after this to finish the story. So no, don't look for an easy resolution just yet.

Once again, thank you for reading, voting, and commenting!

Much love,



Chapter 15

Rockdale rode hard for Verity Hall, his mind a jumble of chaotic thoughts. Reason told him to stop for the night and set out again at dawn, for there was no way to make the trip before nightfall.

Worry for his son lodged in his throat like a clump of bitter-tasting thorns. Could Miles Barlow, now Lord Atherton by some twist of fate, somehow be responsible for Nicholas being gone?

"It cannot be," he muttered.

Young Ned, the messenger from Verity Hall, had said Nicholas had been missing since the morning. He and Atherton had not had their confrontation until the afternoon. And even a miscreant like Miles wouldn't dare to bother one of Rockdale's children.

Would he?

You should have been there. If you had been at home, then this would not have happened.

The words of self-reproach circled like vultures in his head. But even as he flayed himself for leaving his children once more, a part of him grieved for the loss of his sweet Eliza.

She was gone from his life forever. He growled and ruthlessly tried to shove the unwelcome feelings down, but emotion bubbled up from somewhere in his chest. It felt as though part of his heart had been brutally ripped away, leaving a bruised and bloody remnant.

"Damn it, damn it, damn it!" The words burst from his mouth into the evening air. His horse flicked its ears.

So much loss in his life, so much pain. The clouds opened up above his head and rain began to fall, slow at first, then harder.

William grimly took little notice. Of course, it would be raining. He expected nothing less from fate. Perhaps it was exactly what he deserved to atone for his many sins.

A ragged sob tried to force its way out of his mouth. "Please, Lord, I know that I am not a righteous man, but please, I beg of you, let my son be safe from harm."


Eliza stood before the window in the upstairs bedroom of Rockdale's townhouse. The shadows lengthened as twilight began to settle over the landscape.

"Sweet Nicholas," she whispered. "What has happened to you?"

Though she had only been with the earl's children for a matter of months, the thought of harm coming to either one of them filled her with anxious worry. Though mischievous at times, Nicholas was at heart a sweet child, intelligent and loving. She couldn't imagine that he would run away. A lump settled hard in her chest as she pictured him out somewhere lost on the estate, afraid and alone.

I should be there. The thought kept repeating in her head like a litany.

No, she told herself firmly. You do not belong there.

Blast it! She had fought so mightily to be free of Rockdale and his control, but at this moment she would have given almost anything to have his large comforting presence by her side. Eliza could not forget the stricken look on his face when they had been told Nicholas could not be found at Verity Hall.

Releasing her hold on the curtain, she began to pace about fretfully. Of course, she must return home to her family in Lancashire. Any other option was madness.

But how would news of Nicholas reach her? She wouldn't know what had happened. It could be something as simple as the young boy had only fallen asleep somewhere on the grounds, or perhaps he had hidden away with his wooden soldiers under a bed.

You could write a letter, she reasoned.

A bloody letter!

She threw up her hands in disgust and paced faster. A letter would take an age to be delivered, and then another must be written and returned to her. For all she knew, no one at Verity Hall would even take the time to pen a note to one such as her.

A tap at the door caused her to whirl so abruptly, Eliza almost lost her footing.

Mrs. Crawley's head popped through the cracked doorway.

"I've got some nice stew for your supper, dearie. Will you come downstairs to dine?"

Eliza attempted a wan smile. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Crawley. My appetite seems to have deserted me."

"Nonsense," Mrs. Crawley pronounced, pushing the door open further. "I had a feeling you were going to spout such nonsense, so I went ahead and made you a tray."

Seeing Eliza wavering, she frowned and pointed at the small table and chair in the corner. "Sit."

Eliza hesitated, but not wishing to be difficult, she finally nodded and sat.

Despite her protestations, her mouth began to water as the steam from the bowl of stew Mrs. Crawley placed before her wafted before her nose.

"Here's some buttered bread and jam and some nice cheese as well," Mrs. Crawley said, arranging the items along with a mug of milk on the little table.

A gust of laughter escaped from Eliza. "Good heavens, this is enough for two people. Thank you, Mrs. Crawley."

The older lady stood over her. "Well," she said. "It is meant to be."

Eliza spooned up the stew, closing her eyes as the delicious broth rolled over her tongue. Her eyes flicked back open as she swallowed, peering up. "Oh, are you sharing with me?"

Mrs. Crawley clucked and folded her arms. "Keep eating."

Eliza obediently spooned up another mouthful.

"I'm referring to the wee babe growing inside you, of course."

Eliza choked and dropped the spoon. Eyes tearing, she fumbled for her milk. Talking a long drink, she set the cup back down carefully and cleared her throat. "I beg your pardon?"

Mrs. Crawley sighed, but her eyes were kind as they regarded her steadily. "Eliza, I know that I am only Lord Rockdale's housekeeper. But you are young, and your mother is not nearby. I cannot help but feel that you and I should have a talk, if you will allow it."

Eliza felt her eyes burn with sudden tears and her lips wobbled. She nodded jerkily.

The other woman smiled gently and perched on the side of the big bed nearby. "This is a small household, and I couldn't help but notice you've dashed out of the dining room three times this past week when I served Lord Rockdale his morning kippers. You've hardly eaten a thing for breakfast all week, and then you've been ravenous the rest of the day."

Mrs. Crawley folded her hands primly. "I can hardly think this should come as a shock to you? When was the last time you had your monthly courses?"

Embarrassment, hot and fiery, crept up Eliza's face and neck. Oh, dear heavens. If only she could jump into the bed and pull the covers up over her head and hide. "They didn't come when they were supposed to," she whispered. "But I just thought..."

Eliza cleared her throat and found herself unable to meet the housekeeper's gaze. "His lordship...he said...he said he didn't think that w-w-would happen," she stammered lamely.

A rude sound erupted from Mrs. Crawley. "Men! Pah! They think with their wiggly bits and naught of the consequences."

Eliza's heart began to thud. Dear God, a child? "Oh, Mrs. Crawley," she said miserably. "What you must think of me?"

"Eat, dearie," Mrs. Crawley urged until Eliza picked up her spoon once more. "To be quite clear, I think you are a sweet, young lady with a kind, loving spirit."

"Lady?" Eliza curled her lip with disdain and reached for a piece of bread. "I'm naught but Rockdale's whore, I'm afraid." She sniffed as a tear rolled down her cheek.

"Oh, for goodness sake. You are not a whore! I ought to know, seeing that I was one myself."

Eliza froze mid-chew and swiveled her head around.

Mrs. Crawley airily waved a hand. "I wasn't always old and wrinkled you know." She winked then sobered. "Not pleasant business having to spread your legs over and over for a bit of coin in a bawdy house. That's what a whore does," she advised baldly.

Eliza managed to finally swallow her lump of bread and blinked at the blunt words.

"Shocked you, haven't I?" Mrs. Crawley huffed lightly in amusement. "I was desperate and young at that time in my life. My parents had taken sick and died, so I set out for London to make a new life for myself." She shook herself as though casting off bad memories. "Dumb as a sack of rocks."

Clearing her throat, Eliza managed to ask, "So how did you end up...in a place like that?"

"Well," she replied. "I was in a pub attempting, rather unsuccessfully, to convince the barkeep to hire me on as a serving girl. I was approached by a smartly dressed older lady who offered me the first kind word I'd heard since arriving in London. She bought me a pint and a bowl of broth and then listened quite sympathetically to my tale of woe. She even offered me a job, though it turns out her idea of a new upstairs girl was quite different than mine. Though... working there did allow me to meet Mr. Crawley," she allowed.

Seeing Eliza's widened eyes, she hastened to add, "He wasn't a patron, mind you! Least not he's ever told me." She chuckled. "He was a footman for the old Earl of Rockdale. Now, that was a mean, rotten bastard if there ever was one!"

Mrs. Crawley shook her head. "The old codger was a regular visitor to the bawdy house, but I only had to bed him the one time, thank God." She shuddered. "He found one of the other girls more to his liking. I think she enjoyed all the caning and whipping before he finally got his cock stiff, but I despised it. Almost screamed the roof off when he came after me with that cane, I did."

When Mrs. Crawley pointed at the bowl, Eliza forced her jaw closed and resumed eating while listening.

"Oh, Mr. Crawley was so handsome in that smart blue and gold livery," she continued dreamily, looking off across the room. "Caught me bathing in the kitchen one night, naked as the day I was born." she giggled, sounding more like a young girl. "You'd have thought the poor man had never laid eyes on a woman's bare bosom before. Not a month later he took me away from that dreadful place and made me his wife. Never again did I have to worry about being hungry or hurt. He vowed to always keep me safe, and he has."

Her misty eyes and contented smile made Eliza's heart ache. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be loved like that and love in return? To have a husband to lean on and support her...

"Look how I've prattled on and on," Mrs. Crawley said. "I can tell Lord Rockdale cares for you, Eliza. You should tell him about the little one. He will take care of you both, I feel certain," she assured.

"I don't know what to do," Eliza murmured wretchedly, running a hand over her stomach. The food she had just eaten felt unsettled.

"Nothing has to be decided right this moment," Mrs. Crawley said. "Let me help you into bed. A good night's sleep will clear your head. Good for the wee babe, too."

A baby, dear Lord!

Eliza lurched to her feet. "Pray excuse me, Mrs. Crawley," she said faintly. "I believe I am going to be sick."


Atherton stared with glum intent down into the dregs of his snifter of brandy. Despite being welcomed into Sinclair's latest debauched gathering, he had little interest in the lewd goings-on around him.

He glanced up as the sofa protested with a squawk as a sizable presence sank down beside him.

"I say, Atherton, you're not even paying attention to the floor show. I'm surprised you don't have a ladybird under each arm." Sir Harold Cavendish winked at him lasciviously.

"I don't have the funds for whores these days. I'm lucky that Sinclair allows me to drink for free." Miles hunched his shoulders and took a sip of his drink, wishing the other man would find someone else to pester. Harry had never been a particular favorite of his. The older man had usually been more interested in hanging after Rockdale.

Atherton grimaced at the thought of his former friend. "Rockdale isn't with you tonight, is he?"

Harry scowled darkly. "No, I haven't seen that ungrateful bastard lately."

"Why ungrateful—" Miles attempted to ask until a sharp female cry stole his attention.

Sinclair had his mistress Violet kneeling over a small wooden stool with her hands bound behind her back. Their host's usual self-satisfied smirk was missing, Miles noted, and instead the man wore a fierce glower of displeasure as he swung a wooden paddle in hard, repeated strikes against Violet's bare and cherry red, raised rump.

"Damn," Harry muttered, staring avidly while Sinclair continued to rain blows to over the girl's quivering cheeks.

Violet cried out again, and Sinclair paused only long enough to gesture at one of his watching male servants.

"Gag her," he ordered tersely. "And hand me my leather strap."

Violet's answering wail was muffled as the servant stuffed a cloth in her mouth.

Atherton let his gaze skitter away uncomfortably. Seeing a woman being brutalized had never been arousing for him.

"I heard Sinclair caught her fucking some young artist fellow. He was livid," Harry volunteered gleefully.

"Why? He lets other gents have her in his gatherings all the time."

Harry snorted. "But only with his permission, boy. Oh, bloody hell, he's whipping her right on the quim now!"

"Ahem," Atherton said. "Cavendish...you must tell me. Why is Rockdale an ungrateful bastard?"

His question finally severed Harry's rapt attention to Sinclair's display.

"I provided him with an incredibly generous gift, and he allowed it to attack me!" the other man explained indignantly. "Can you fathom such a thing? I thought Rockdale and I were great chums!"

Miles scratched his head. "You gave him a...dog? An ill-tempered goat?"

"Ye gods, Atherton, are you daft? I gave him a woman! Well, I didn't give her to him exactly, but I provided the means to have her delivered right into his lap. Bloody charitable of me, too," he muttered. "I was helping the girl provide for her family and repaying a debt to Rockdale at the same time."

"So, you arranged for a whore to be sent to Rockdale, but she viciously turned on you?"

"Not a whore, a virgin," Harry said, nodding sagely.

Miles opened his mouth to reply but drained the rest of his brandy instead. He set the glass down on a table. "That does sound like quite the gift." He furrowed his brow, thinking. "Is the girl you sent him a lovely blond with rather large..."

"Tits?" Harry supplied helpfully. "Aye, that's her. An uncut jewel, she was! Too buxom for my taste, though." He wagged his eyebrows.

Miles tried to ease further down the couch. Harry really was a rather revolting chap. Revolting, but he did have healthy funds, Miles reflected. And if he was sufficiently annoyed at Rockdale...

"I saw Rockdale enjoying the girl you sent him at his little house in London. It's a shame he wasn't more appreciative toward you for such a boon. Chits like her don't come along every day."

Harry's eyes had drifted back to the center of the room where Sinclair had progressed to aggressively fucking Violet from behind, his hips ramming her bottom with an audible, repeated slap of flesh. "Tis true," he grumbled. "Thankless wretch. He could have at least insisted she pleasure me with her mouth. It would have been only fair!"

Miles grimaced, trying not to picture any part of Harry's naked anatomy in his mind. "Ah, right you are. I say, Harry... Wouldn't you love the chance to knock that selfish arse down a peg or two?"

Harry shifted his glance back to Miles speculatively. "Eager for a bit of revenge, are you? I heard things aren't going so well for you about town. Shame about losing Pelham's daughter off your hook. She's a tasty, young morsel with a well-padded dowry to boot."

"I have other prospects," Atherton returned curtly. "But, retribution...yes. I am quite ready to show that arrogant son of a bitch he's not as untouchable as he might think."

Harry's reply was forestalled by a commotion before them. Violet had somehow freed her hands and was struggling against Sinclair. The stool flipped over with a crash, and she scrabbled to her feet, jerking the cloth out of her mouth.

Sinclair advanced on her with a growled command. "Get back on your knees."

"No," she said defiantly, standing her ground before him, though he towered over her smaller, naked body. "I have had enough of being your pretty toy to whip and use!"

His face twisted into an ugly sneer. "Why do you think I allow you to live here? You know your place, Violet, so stop this nonsense at once. You had better have my cock stuffed in your hungry little mouth in the next thirty seconds, or I vow you will soon regret it."

He reached out to grab her arm, and she danced out of his reach.

"Regret is all I feel anymore," she snapped. "You don't care what I like or what I want; you only want to parade me about in front of your perverted friends. I have had enough of being hurt." Her voice wavered on the last bit then gathered strength. "Giovanni is right! I deserve to be loved and happy!"

"Giovanni? That painter lad?" Sinclair's mocking laughter rang out across the room. "Do you think he really wants more from you than another chance to stick his cock in your cunt? Surely, even you are not that stupid."

Violet's pale skin suffused with a flush of rosy pink, and with narrowed eyes she leaned over and very deliberately spat on Sinclair's shoes.

The murmuring crowd went still and silent, a few brave souls inching closer and jockeying for position.

Lord Sinclair's mouth contorted, and he gestured grandly at the enthralled throng circling them. "I'm reminded suddenly why one should not acquire a whore from pig farmers, even sluts with tight, little arses." He sighed dramatically. "They just don't have any couth about them no matter how you try and try to instill it."

His eyes glittered with malice as he shrugged. "So be it, then. Go and be a poor man's whore instead of mine if that is what you wish. But don't bother taking anything with you." His eyes raked her nakedness with leering disdain. "I'd say not even the clothing on your back...if you were wearing any."

A few titters of uncertain laughter broke out from the guests.

To Miles' surprise, Violet simply smiled. One by one she peeled off the sparkling rings from her fingers and dropped them on the floor. The gold chains around her neck and waist followed.

"My father might have been a farmer of swine," she said sweetly. "But you, Egbert, are a pig." She blew him a kiss before turning away, laughing. "Oink, oink, darling."

Miles and Harry froze. No one ever dared to call Sinclair his given name out loud.

"Get out!" Sinclair roared. "Get out all of you!" He grabbed a decanter of liquor from a nearby table and threw it against the wall where it shattered, causing those nearby to jump away and squeal in dismay.

"Get out, get out!" he shouted, shoving over a table with a loud crash.

Miles and Harry jumped up to join the panicked crowd struggling to escape Sinclair's wrath. Both men were panting when they finally squeezed out the front doors of the manor house.

"'Twas like a night at the theater!" Harry declared, mopping at his brow with a handkerchief. "Excepting the fucking and the nakedness, of course." He frowned. "I hope this doesn't mean Sinclair will cease holding his regular gatherings. Whatever will we do for entertainment?"

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