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London's Burning

As London burns, a couple come together

Oh the miserable and calamitous spectacle! Such as haply the world had not seen since the foundation of it, nor be outdone till the universal conflagration thereof. All the sky was of a fiery aspect, like the top of a burning oven, and the light seen above 40 miles round about for many nights. God grant mine eyes may never behold the like, who now saw above 10,000 houses all in one flame; the noise and cracking and thunder of people, the fall of towers, houses, and churches, was like a hideous storm, and the air all about so hot and inflamed that at last one was not able to approach it, so that they were forced to stand still and let the flames burn on, which they did for near two miles in length and one in breadth. The clouds also of smoke were dismal and reached upon computation near 50 miles in length. Thus I left it this afternoon burning, a resemblance of Sodom, or the last day.

London was, but is no more!

The Journal of John Evelyn – 3rd September 1666 

***

The summer of 1666 had been sweltering hot, with barely any rain to wash away London’s stench. “What’s that smell?” Anne asked.

“Rotting fish and faeces?” Meggi ventured, stepping round a stinking mound. Lombard Street was never the most pleasant of places, even by slum standards but the dry weather had reduced the central drain to a sluggish trickle which was incapable of carrying the street detritus away.

“Worse,” Anne muttered darkly, directing Meggi’s gaze by lifting her chin. “Catholics.” She spat the word loud enough that the group scuttled away, their feet kicking up little clouds of dust.

“Would you hate me so if I were Catholic?” Meggi enquired.

“Meggi! Do not say such a thing! It is bad enough that you are Welsh. Would it be that you were Catholic, we would not be friends.” The words hurt as though Meggi’s heart itself had been stitched. She knew that Anne was a good person deep down; it just seemed that the good had been buried more deeply since she had married her tea merchant. Anne’s husband had been away for eight months and Meggi knew that she waited for her beloved’s letters as a drowning person waits for breath.

Still.

That was when Meggi saw him for the first time, emerging from the shadows as might a thief - except a man dressed in such a fine-feathered hat, with a full-skirted coat of emerald green and a waterfall of white lace would have no need to steal.

Eyes as clear and blue as a mountain stream swept the filthy street for dirt and danger before returning to lock onto Meggi. The stranger dipped his head in acknowledgement before making his way out into the harsh sunlight, stepping carelessly along the most direct route to where Meggi was frozen.

“Meggi? Meggi!” Anne said harshly. “What is wrong with you, girl?” A moment later he was there, hat removed to reveal a long mane of wavy brown curls. The stranger bowed, deep and long and Meggi’s heart was stolen in an instant.

Meggi shook her head as colour rose to her cheeks. “Surely, you are a thief,” she murmured.

“Jeremiah Johnson, at your service,” the vision said, dipping his head without taking his gaze away from Meggi’s eyes. “And no, I am not a thief,” he added, with a private smile.

“And I am Anne Hodges, wife of William Hodges.”

“The tea merchant?” Anne pulled herself up straighter.

“Do you know my husband?” Meggi felt a flash of annoyance at her friend’s rudeness in not making her introduction but stilled the emotion as Jeremiah’s perfume drifted on the stifling air. The man smelled good, despite the heat. He looked good too, although the white stockings on his shapely calves were blackened with dust and soot.

“Meggi? Don’t be so rude!”

Meggi gasped, realising that she had been day-dreaming. Jeremiah’s hand had been extended and was waiting to take hers. A rush of blood overtook Meggi as Jeremiah took her hand and looked straight into her eyes as he pressed his lips to her knuckle. The blue of those eyes sparkled with the shards of broken glass, nay diamonds. “Jeremiah Jordan, surveyor, at your service, Miss…?”

Gasping as though scalded, Meggi clutched her hand tightly against her bosom as soon as it had been released. “Jordan.”

“Mrs Hodges and Miss Jordon?” The way Jeremiah emphasized Meggi’s marital status made her heart leap behind her heaving bosom.

“And what brings such a fine gentleman into this area of London, Mr Johnson?”

“The fire,” Jeremiah responded. “I am here on behalf of the King himself.”

“The King?” Anne asked, sounding as though she were about to faint.

“The fire? It still burns? I heard reported that the Lord Mayor himself said that a woman could piss it out,” Meggi quoted, earning a critical stare from Anne. Jeremiah’s face creased with amusement.

“Would that still be the case,” Mr Johnson said. “Above a thousand houses have been burned down by the fire. The last time I saw it, it was an arch of flame more than a mile long.”

“A thousand? Those poor people.”

“Where are you two ladies heading?”

“Smithfields,” Anne answered.

“Then I should escort you both.” Meggi gasped as Mr Johnson gathered her arm as lightly as a feather and led her out into the street. It was not easy to walk three-a-breast and it seemed that Anne had claimed both the ear and the attention of their gentlemanly escort.

“Perhaps it was selfish of me?” Anne said lightly. “For I barely allowed you to use your voice.”

“Not at all,” Meggi responded politely, clutching her stricken heart as she watched Mr Johnson retreating towards the Thames. That had been her chance; perhaps her one chance and her ‘friend’ had deliberately snatched it away.

It was then that Mr Johnson presented Meggi with another chance, for as he pulled his handkerchief from his pocket, something fluttered unnoticed to the ground as he strode on. Anne shouted a warning but Meggi gathered up her skirts and ran.

*** 

Meggi felt confused as a pleasant aroma filled both her nostrils and her mind. It was familiar somehow. Then there was a voice; his voice, and she snapped back from the dreamy place. “You had a lucky escape.”

“Escape?”

“When I saw the horses hit you, I…” The skin crinkled around Jeremiah’s eyes. “Well, I feared the worse.”

“Horses?” Meggi asked.

“Oh, you foolish girl!” Anne cried. “You could have been killed!” Jeremiah moved his body to shield Meggi from both the sun and the hysterical words of her friend.

“Give the girl some air,” Jeremiah snapped, before turning back to his patient. “There’s blood on your cheek, Meggi. Shall I wipe it away?” Meggi gasped as Jeremiah rubbed his scented handkerchief across her face. “I’ve hurt you. I’m sorry.”

Heat rushed to all areas of her body, including the cheek which had just been wiped by the most handsome man Meggi had ever seen. “No,” she said, feeling embarrassed by her body’s response. “I need to…” she said, squirming.

“Please, be still,” Jeremiah instructed, placing his hands on Meggi’s shoulders. Meggi gasped as his fingers pressed into her flesh and again as Jeremiah moved his hands down her body and squeezed again.

“What… what are you doing to me?”

“Checking that nothing is broken,” Jeremiah said loudly. His hands finished tracing down Meggi’s arms and started running down her chest. Meggi gasped as she felt gentle pressure running over her breasts. “Does it hurt here?” Jeremiah asked, squashing down on both breasts.

“Surely he can feel my heart pounding?” Meggi thought, as his fingers skirted around the bottom of her ribcage.

“You are fortunate that you are so… slender,” Jeremiah murmured. Meggi knew that Jeremiah had changed the word he’d been thinking and felt her cheeks colour. “It appears that you bounced.”

“I feel queasy,” Meggi groaned as Jeremiah gripped her hips. She was finding it increasingly difficult to cope with the way Jeremiah was touching her and but for the ring of faces peering down, she might have given in to the temptation to lift her lips to those of Mr Johnson.

“Give the woman space… and get a carriage!” Jeremiah shouted.

“A carriage?” Anne asked.

“It is best to be cautious in such situations. I shall take Miss Jordan back to my house where she can be attended to by my physician.”

“I shall come with you,” Anne announced.

“That won’t be necessary,” Mr Johnson said. “And I’m sure you’ll be anxious to let Miss Jordan’s employers know what has befallen her.”

“Well, yes. I suppose,” Anne said, folding her skirts as she backed away. “I shall pray for you, Meggi.”

“It won’t do me any good, dear Anne,” Meggi groaned, squinting up at the white disk of the sun hanging in the smoke-scarred sky. Anne frowned. “You see, you’ll be praying to the wrong God.”

Anne hid her open mouth behind her gloved-hand as Jeremiah carefully lifted Meggi towards the waiting coach. “Hurry, man. She’s delirious!”

*** 

Meggi had grown quite used to the elegant room. She could see the sun blazing away through the high windows but somehow there was no heat from it. In fact the room was cold.

The door opened.

Even though her eyes were closed, Meggi knew that it was Jeremiah padding softly into the room to deliver her meal: she had grown to recognise the sharp click of his boots on the wooden staircase.

Her mouth went dry as she felt his weight on the bed; her heart accelerating as she anticipated his touch. The way he stroked her hair wasn’t just comforting – it was electrifying. In the cosiness of the bed, Meggi had done things which she had never had opportunity to in the crowded house back in Shoe Lane.

She had felt a need whenever Jeremiah was close and against everything she had been taught, she gave in to that need… again and again and again, yet still the heat of desire wouldn’t be satisfied.

But Meggi knew what would satisfy the need and had worked out a plan to get it.

As Jeremiah stroked her hair, Meggi opened her eyes. Jeremiah smiled with a softness in his face which she hadn’t seen before. “Welcome back, my dear,” he said.

Meggi examined the line of Jeremiah’s jaw as he assessed her with cool blue eyes.

This was the moment.

“I’m so hot,” Meggi moaned. Meggi watched Jeremiah’s brow crease with concern as he placed his hand on her forehead.

“Indeed you are, I shall send for the physician immediately.” Meggi’s hand gripped Jeremiah’s wrist, preventing him from leaving.

“I don’t need a doctor,” she whispered.

“Then what do you need?” Meggi sat up suddenly, exposing her bare breasts as the sheets fell away.

“Forgive me!” Jeremiah exclaimed. His eyes rounded in surprise and it was clear that he would have fled but for the tight grip on his wrist.

“Look at me,” Meggi whispered huskily, squeezing Jeremiah’s wrist when he failed to move. Jeremiah swung round stiffly and looked into Meggi’s eyes with deep unease, aware that there were things on display which he simply shouldn’t see.

Meggi smiled. “This is what I want,” she said, moving close enough to capture the scent of him in her lungs. The smell was cleaner than she remembered from that first time in the street and she secretly wished for a repeat of the smoky smell on him from The Great Fire as it was being called. Breathing him in again, Meggi went cheek to cheek with the man who had caused her own internal fires to rage for weeks on end. His skin was sharp and prickly but she had grown to love the way his bristles scraped and burned her skin.

“This is my dearest wish,” she said, lunging forward to take his lips with her own. He didn’t move and Meggi was soon forced to retreat. “Forgive me,” she said, unsure how to regain her dignity as she pulled the sheets up around her naked body.

“No. It is I who should apologise,” Jeremiah said after an uneasy silence. “You… caught me by surprise. After all these months…”

“Months?”

“It was the new year but six days since. There is ice on the windows.” Meggi had lost her grip on time as surely as she had lost her grip on Jeremiah’s wrist in pulling up the sheet. He was free to do what he wanted – leave, most likely. Instead, he twisted on the bed, gripped both of Meggi’s hands and pushed them down to the mattress with surprising conviction. “I confess that I have been thinking about your…” Jeremiah said, looking directly at Meggi’s breasts, “since I attended you in the street.”

“And my breasts have since longed for your attention.” Meggi giggled. “It is their dearest wish.” Jeremiah’s mouth fell open in surprise.

“You would let me…”

“I am not in the mood for chatter,” Meggi said, pulling Jeremiah’s hand onto her bare breast.

You will remember what I have told you and behave as befits a daughter of a teacher, will you not, Meggi? You know what happens to wicked little girls.

Meggi’s parents had been dead for over a year, yet her mother’s derisive words reached out from the grave. “Shut-up, mother!”

“What…” Jeremiah started to ask but his words were cut off as Meggi pressed her lips against his while closing her hand over the back of his hand, mashing the soft tender flesh of her bosom underneath. Now that Meggi was acting-out her desires, she was impatient and felt Jeremiah shudder as her hand went to the crotch of his breeches.

However, there was no doubting Jeremiah’s physical desire for her and in the blink of an eyelash a hot curve of flesh was in her hand.

What to do now?

Meggi knew about the biology of sex, if not the art, but it was clear from the situation that Meggi was going to have to drive the situation – after all, she had his cock in her hand, full of hope and expectation.

Meggi pulled down, unwrapping the shiny dome of Jeremiah’s cock. A knot of tension loosened somewhere under her breastbone as he gasped with obvious pleasure. Smiling tentatively at him, he smiled back. “Shall I go straight to supper?” Meggi asked.

Not waiting for an answer, Meggi dived down towards Jeremiah’s crotch. “It’s beautiful,” she breathed. The last rays of the winter sun were shining through the frosted window as she pressed her lips to the very tip of Jeremiah’s crown. The room filled with a loud exclamation of delight as Meggi dropped her warming mouth as far down the shaft as she could manage before retreating entirely to catch her breath. The golden flashes of her saliva became an invitation and Meggi went to work again before she had fully recovered, easing her way down until her throat constricted.

“My God, woman!” Jeremiah exclaimed. “This is a wrong. A great wrong, for we are not yet married.”

“Bring me a parson and I shall take you as my husband. If not a parson, I shall take you as a man,” Meggi announced, launching her leg over Jeremiah and feeding his upstanding cock inside her body before he had chance to respond. “You have been kindness itself in attending to my needs these past months, Jeremiah.” Meggi groaned as she sank down, taking more and more of Jeremiah’s cock. “Let me attend to your needs as a man.”

“This would cause such a stir in church on Sunday, would it become known,” Jeremiah murmured, with a mixture of pleasure and amusement pulling at his handsome features.

“Not so much as if it were known I am a Catholic.” Meggi had meant only to think the words but in her passion, they had escaped her mouth. She dropped her gaze to Jeremiah’s blue eyes and saw a flicker of animosity.

“Catholic?” Never had a man looked upon Meggi with such a chill and her eyes soon gleamed with tears. Every hair stood on end as her skin tightened, her body sensing danger, even as it remained impaled on his cock. Catholics were the hidden danger, their allegiance to the pope treated with utmost suspicion.

Two drops of water fell free, each rolling down the burning slopes of Meggi’s cheeks, and then more, until there were too many tears to count.

Having stayed hidden for so long…

Of all the times to expose herself…

“Nobody’s perfect,” Jeremiah concluded, erasing his sour expression as his stiff-jointed fingers wiped away Meggi’s tears, just as they had wiped away her blood on the day of their first meeting. “Least of all me,” he added, making Meggi gasp as he thrust up meaningfully into Meggi’s hungry body.

The tears were still flowing as Jeremiah dropped his hands down, gripping either side of Meggi’s narrow waist. He twisted her onto the bed, pressing down heavily, trapping her slight body under his.

“And now, Meggi,” he said, enunciating with a careful, soft voice as he trapped her wrists in his hands. “I mean to have you as I will on our wedding night.” A sudden sob caught Meggi by surprise as she surrendered totally, her legs wrapping around her lover’s back as he thrust into her. Waves of pleasure accompanied his every stroke, obliterating the negative emotions which had threatened to overtake Meggi’s body. Her slippery hole clutched tight, trying to capture Jeremiah’s cock; yet it escaped again and again. Each time it returned with increased urgency but that wasn’t enough – Meggi needed it inside her and dug her heels into Jeremiah’s lower back, desperately trying to hold him and capture him until at last it he stayed.

Waves of purple pleasure pulsed out from between Meggi’s legs, pounding her lungs as her back arched. Jeremiah shouted a warning that he wanted to withdraw; was desperate to withdraw but Meggi was in no mood to let her lover escape. As his cock erupted, he found himself still trapped in the soft heat of Meggi’s body.

“That was a brave thing you did, Meggi, but perhaps not a very wise one.”

“Consummating our marriage before there is a marriage? You are a man of your word, are you not?”

“I am indeed. I was thinking if you should fall pregnant.”

“If in the days to come I find that I am with child, I should think myself the most fortunate of women.”

“You may count on me,” Jeremiah said, his blue eyes smouldering with passionate heat. “I vow this with all my heart.” Meggi lay back, letting the winter chill of the room take the heat from her naked body as she thought about her future. “May I enquire as to what you are thinking?”

“I was thinking about our wedding night.”

“What of it?” Jeremiah asked blandly, although the reaction of his body betrayed what he was truly thinking.

“With no mother to advise me, perhaps you should spend some time... instructing me in my marital duty.”

“Meggi!” Jeremiah scalded, his jaw set in an expression as unyielding as stone. “Why, I can think of nothing better.”

*** 

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Copyright © Copyright ©2015 Abigail Thornton. All Rights Reserved.

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