An Earthquake in Leamington Spa is a timeslip story featuring Ruth Townsend, mother of two, wife of one, part-time legal secretary and part-time picker-up of damp towels and other people’s shoes. A minor earthquake catapaults Ruth back in time where she encounters Harry, a randy Edwardian butler, living in her attic. Here, Ruth is visiting Harry for the second time.
An Earthquake in Leamington Spa is published in Black Lace’s Love on the Dark Side. It’s one of my lighter, sweeter stories and also one of my favourites. I fell in love with my characters. I couldn’t help it.
I might have been sobbing slightly when I broke through because I was starting to grow frustrated, fearing I’d never see him again. But suddenly I was in 1909, pressed against his door, and I dashed away a tear, calm settling around me. Harry wasn’t remotely startled.
Standing by the washstand, he was naked from the waist up, splashing water onto his chest, and soaping his armpits. I could have stood there all day, watching droplets spill over his pale healthy contours and explode at his feet in a pitter-patter of splashes. I felt such a happy sense of peace, and the urge to tell him about the strange goings-on at home slipped clean away.
Harry crossed the room, rubbing himself briskly with a small towel. His forearms were polished brawn, and his nipples were dusky-pink buttons within a haze of dark hair. His abdomen seemed deliciously old-fashioned, its muscled strength overlaid with a subcutaneous softness I wanted to clamp my fingers and lips to.
‘Mrs Townsend,’ he said, smiling. He flung the towel onto the bed before he reached me, brown twinkly eyes never once leaving mine.
For one tiny instinctive second, that towel irked me then I remembered it wasn’t my responsibility. To hell with damp towels! To hell with responsibility!
Resting his big hands on my hips, Harry bent to nuzzle under my hair, kissing my neck and making little noises like ‘mmm’. I leant my head back, offering him the stretch of my throat before I tiptoed to suck on the damp skin of his shoulder. He tasted of fresh cool water and I was melting faster than butter in a desert, my hands scooting over the slippery skin of his hard wet back.
‘Oh, Harry,’ I said, adoring his name.
Our kisses were big and wild, his lips so moist and mobile. His body made damp patches on my dress, cooling the skin beneath, and before long I was practically faint with lust.
‘I’ve been dreaming about you,’ he said, and he undid the first button of my dress.
I’d chosen to wear a slightly shabby dress which for some reason I feel very sexy in. It was apple green with a pattern like creamy sprigs of elderflower, and those colours suit me because I have a pale skin and ash blonde hair that, admittedly, gets ashier each year. The dress looks better than it sounds. It clings to my figure without being slinky, and I enjoy the way it swings when I walk.
I, however, look worse than I sound. ‘Waxy,’ Robert once said of my wintertime complexion, presumably thinking our marriage was strong enough he could insult me with impunity. He was probably right. Sometimes I do feel waxy, as if I ought to be in Tussaud’s, smiling blankly and giving the impression of life. But that’s beside the point, isn’t it? You don’t go telling your wife she’s waxy.
‘Were they good dreams?’ I whispered as Harry undid the second button, big fingers fumbling on little fastenings. It was difficult for me to talk because he was gazing down at my newly boosted cleavage, and a hint of lemon-yellow bra. Let me tell you, there was nothing waxy there!
He raised a glance to my eyes. ‘Bad ones, Mrs Townsend,’ he cooed. ‘Very bad indeed.’
I should perhaps mention that my dress buttons all the way down, so, when Harry undid the third and fourth button, I realised where this was leading. He gazed at my exposed flesh, untied the belt around my waist and continued with five and six. His fingers were ticklish on my belly and I held my stomach in and arched my back because you do, don’t you?
‘In what way were they bad?’ I breathed.
Harry shook his head, feigning reproach. The edge of my pastel-yellow camis were revealed. Button seven, and I knew he could see the gold-brown of my hair crushed beneath the lace.
‘Oh, the things you make me do to you,’ he said.
Love on the Dark Side
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