This is the first story I've written using the sims aside from legacies, so I apologize in advance for my inexperience. Also, I think I should put in a PG 13 warning for a bit of sexual content, and possibly violence late on. Enjoy!
ps. It's also available on my blog, still under construction. If you're interested, feel free to read it
Lady Lavinia Whitfield glanced sideways at her maid's reflection in the mirror.
"Do I look suitable?"
The girl smiled slightly and nodded.
Lavinia scowled and swung around to face her.
"Don't call me that, Ethel, it feels unnatural."
Ethel's smile widened. She felt something close to worship for Lavinia, who had helped her with her bastard daughter. Even before that, the pair had been close since birth; growing up on the streets together. It was only luck, thought Lavinia ruefully, that their positions were not reversed.
"Yes ma'am. And, if I may ask, suitable for what?"
Lavinia turned back to her reflection and smoothed a wrinkle in her skirt.
"Henry is coming today, and I must be appropriate for whatever business partner he's bringing with him."
Ethel reached for the clothes brush.
"I'm sure you will be m'la- I mean, Lavinia."
The sitting room was small, cozy. As she stood and looked around at the paneled walls and crackling fire, she felt a sudden rush of appreciation for their summer home. Henry hated it, it was too small and understated for his tastes, but Lavinia felt at home here. She paused in the doorway and waited for a moment, surveying the room. Henry occupied a place on the sofa directly across the fire, and another man sat in an armchair. Lavinia met his gaze and felt a small shock run from the base of her skull down her spine. Hastily, she looked away, the silence in the room suddenly pressing on her eardrums. Recognition was not always a pleasant thing. Carefully avoiding his gaze, which was just as intense as she remembered, she turned to her husband.
"Welcome, my Lord. I'm afraid the other servants haven't arrived yet, but the maids have done their best."
Henry gave her a tight smile and followed her gaze to where Beth stood, tending the fire. It was cheerful, leaping and crackling in the grate, and lent a warm light to the otherwise oppressive room. Lavinia glanced again at the man occupying the armchair, and this time spoke, her voice as stiff as her tensed spine.
"I don't believe we've met, sir."
He rose and made a brief bow.
"That we have not, my lady. I am Sir Elliot Carlisle"
She extended her hand, directing her gaze out of the arched bay window in order to avoid meeting his eyes. Sensing Henry's scrutiny, she let go rather quickly and sat beside him on the couch. He placed one arm casually around her shoulders, where it hung like a lead weight. He only ever touched her in the presence of his business partners, his way of staking his territory. Lavinia met his gaze sardonically, raising an eyebrow as he made to touch her breast. Elliot looked amused at their silent exchange. Lavinia shot him a dirty look and tried to relax her shoulders. Henry reached for his decanter of scotch.
"Sir Elliot here is one of the most promising business partners I've seen."
Lavinia smiled demurely.
"Oh? I must confess, I know very little about business."
Here, Elliot let out a real laugh that was poorly disguised by a cough.
"Pardon me. It's the allergies. Spring, you know."
He sipped his own drink, eyes still twinkling with mirth. Lavinia clenched her jaw and was silent as he and Henry lapsed back into conversation about horses.
The bed gave slightly under Lavinia's weight as she sat down. Henry was already lying propped up on the pillows. She glanced at him as she smoothed the coverlet.
"Well? What are you planning to do with him?"
Henry never brought business partners home unless he was planning to ruin them in one way or another. He grinned.
"You don't miss much then, do you?"
Lavinia smiled teasingly as he rolled over and clasped her in his muscular arms. They suited eachother well sometimes, being almost equally devious.
Henry kissed her roughly, bruising her lips against his teeth.
"I don't think that is any of your concern."
She allowed him to push her backward against the pillows, though she dreaded what would follow. He was never gentle, though that was more due to inexperience than cruelty.
"Henry, I'm tired tonight, and still slightly ill..."
He ignored her half-articulated protests and leaned over her, eyes cold as they ran over her face.
"No excuses. I've waited a long time."
"Oh please! You really expect me to believe you were faithful?"
Henry scowled and placed a hand roughly over her mouth.
"Maybe not, but you know better than to speak about it."
Lavinia, feeling the bite of cold on her shoulders as he removed her shirt, frowned.
"What if I did? Tell people?"
But it was no good trying to blackmail him, and she knew it. His smile was dangerous.
"Then I will tell a solicitor about the circumstances of our marriage and request a divorce."
She sighed and succumbed to his rough handling, wishing she still possessed the power to manipulate him as she had before they were married.
Henry left the following evening. She said goodbye to him on the porch. The air was warm and sultry in the precursor to what would be a lovely summer evening. Robert placed his hands lightly on her waist and kissed her forehead.
"Be good. And please, don't manipulate that poor man. I fear I've taught you too much about deceit."
Lavinia smiled coolly.
"Likewise, my husband. We suit each other."
He laughed slightly and squeezed her elbow before running down the steps to where the carriage was waiting. She watched him go, sighing with both relief and genuine regret. He was good company when they weren't confined to their bedroom. He understood her better than most, and often condescended to teach her things many women weren't able to know. In the event of his death, Lavinia knew she possessed the tools to do at least as well as he had in business. With a small smile, she disappeared back into the house.
Her footsteps echoed on the hardwood stairs as she mounted them, in search of Ethel. She had thought long and hard about what to do now, teetering between practicality and adventure. Eventually, as she always did, she settled on adventure. After all, Henry had his fun while she was gone, why couldn't she do the same? At the same time, what she wanted was riskier for her than anyone else and if they were caught, it would be her ruined reputation, not his, that would matter most. She caught Ethel just as the made was about to enter her bedroom.
She turned slowly to face Lavinia, eyes wary. Her Ladyship was unpredictable at best. Ethel had true loyalty for the woman, but she was always slightly nervous about what she would do next. Beauty such that she possessed was dangerous in the wrong hands. Ethel was sometimes grateful for her own plainness watching how Lavinia used the people around her. One day, it would all turn out very badly.
Lavinia's eyes sparkled mysteriously as she responded.
"I think it would be best if you and Beth go into town tonight. I don't want your job to be at risk should something happen."
"Do you intend to try your hand at archery again? Because I don't fancy making excuses for you to his Lordship."
Lavinia shook her head.
"Well that's why I want you to go into town!"
She pressed a handful of coins into Ethel's palm.
With a sigh, Ethel acquiesced and disappeared to find her daughter. Lavinia let out a sigh. She still hadn't made up her mind entirely, but part of her was excited for what might happen.
She spritzed perfume on her wrists and rubbed them together, still half convinced she was being idiotic. Still, everything was done now. She looked as beautiful as she could possibly manage, and now it was in his hands. She knew he still wanted her, she had seen the flash of anger in his eyes when Henry had touched her. Still, he may have grown more prudent over the years. She hadn't seen him for nearly three years, maybe he was different. Lavinia wouldn't approach him, she was too proud for that. If he wanted some excitement as much as she did, he would approach her. If. And if he didn't, she would be much safer anyway.
Ten minutes passed before she heard a knock on her door. Her heartbeat sped up, but she remained standing where she was. He would have to come to her. The scent of perfume hovering in the air was eventually disappated by a wafting breeze coming from the hallway. He had opened the door. She smiled at the sound of creaking hinges and reached up to tuck a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Elliot strode over, she could hear his footsteps on the thick carpet, and thought vaguely that he must still be wearing shoes. She felt his hand on her elbow, more gentle than Robert had ever been, and felt a pleasant chill run over her.
His eyes were intense on her averted profile, though his mouth relaxed into a smile.
"Ha! As if I'm the only one."
The side of her lip turned up slightly as he started to kiss her.
"How is your wife?"
He paused, grinning now.
"The same as your husband. Conniving, rich, and spoiled. Now do you want to or not?"
Lavinia met his eyes cautiously. She did want to, she definitely wanted to. Last time they had met, she had turned him down. Now that she was safely married, and rich to boot, she had more to protect her. Besides, she was bored. Nothing exciting had happened in a long time aside from a miscarriage which she had been almost grateful for. Dull, settled, married life simply didn't suit her. She was twenty now, and should have had a dozen children by now, but every part of her protested settling into the role of a houswife and mother.
"Yes. But only if there is no attachment. You must understand, I'm comfortable where I am and would like to stay there."
He smiled slightly and lifted a hand to touch her cheek.
"Likewise, Lady Whitfield."