Business Marriage

The place: London.  The time: 1942.  In his Specials Operations office, Colonel Welles gazed seriously at the man and woman standing before his desk.  He’d just given them their mission.  They had to pose as a married couple, go into Nazi-occupied France, infiltrate a German spy ring, and bring back a top agent whose tactics were undermining British security.

There was one hitch.  They really had to be married.

These two people had never met until three days ago.  Bruce Conover was an American working for the Office of Strategic Services.  He’d come over to England because the Special Operations Executive needed cooperation with U.S. intelligence.  Thirty-one, unmarried, and serious, he looked the part of a stereotypical white American male.  Eleanor Grange had joined the SOE shortly after the war started two years ago.  She was twenty-five and had lost her boyfriend in the London Blitz.

“Colonel, is there any…well, any other alternative?” Bruce finally inquired.  He glanced at Eleanor.  “I don’t want that to sound like a slight, Miss Grange.  But with us being complete strangers….”

“I understand,” she returned.

Colonel Welles was shaking his head.  “Mr. Conover, Miss Grange, the Gestapo is very thorough.  They’ll check and recheck you back to the day you were born.  Before that, even.  If this is going to succeed, you must be legitimate in every aspect.  But this is a volunteer mission.  I can’t force you to take it.  If you feel this is an unsurmountable objection, you have the right to withdraw.  Of course, it means I’ll have to find another couple.  It’s your decision.”

Eleanor licked her lips, deliberating.  Because of both her English heritage and her recent tragedy, her demeanor was exceeding cool and reserved.  She discouraged any attention from male SOE members and never joined her friends when they went out with their soldier sweethearts.  On meeting Bruce Conover, she unconsciously kept up her guard, though she quickly discovered that he seemed much more focused on the war than on flirting with a girl.  His clear, grave mindset and determination reassured her about his character.

It wasn’t a mere façade.  Bruce’s goal ever since Pearl Harbor had been to join the OSS and serve his country.  He used to think he’d find a girl, fall in love, marry, and work hard for his family like any other average American.  Then the war interrupted, and he figured this wasn’t the time, so romance was out of his head.  Only now and then, maybe when he saw fellows kissing their girls goodbye at the train station or necking in the park, did he feel a faint twinge of loneliness.  He wished he had someone to come back to.

Colonel Welles’ proposal struck a chord of both intrigue and awkwardness in Bruce and Eleanor.  Bruce had tried, for the lady’s sake, to avoid it.  The colonel said that was impossible.  So it was Eleanor’s call.

“All right, Colonel.  I’ll agree to it,” she announced in a determined tone.  She didn’t look at Bruce, but it wouldn’t have mattered.  His expression didn’t change.

“Good.”  Colonel Welles sounded relieved.  “I’ll have the chaplain come in at once and arrange for the paperwork.  In this case, we can waive the three-day wait.”

So that’s how it started.  Before the afternoon was over, the two independent special agents had become Mr. and Mrs. Bruce Conover.

They went to Bruce’s apartment that night, a rather dingy place but the only one available in this part of the city.  From his manner, Bruce seemed unflustered, concentrating on the big picture of their upcoming mission.  In a way, it comforted Eleanor.  Yet she was still uncertain.

“So, Mr. Conover, how are we going to do this?” she began.  Then she flushed, sensing that her question could imply something else.

“First off, just call me Bruce.  We’re going to be working together, so we might as well get past the formalities,” he remarked, unbuttoning his coat.  “I’ll bunk on the couch.  I’ve been doing that anyway.  You can have the bed.”

“Are you sure?” she hesitated.

He gave her a slight smile.  “It’s fine.  But it’s still pretty early.  Eight-thirty.  How about some coffee? I mean tea?”

“If you have some honest tea, I’d be delighted,” Eleanor declared, forgoing her chilliness for a moment.

“Get yourself settled in.  I’ll be in the kitchen.”

While he boiled water and hunted for the tea he’d brought from the States, Bruce mused.  He guessed that Eleanor felt uncomfortable, suddenly married to a man she didn’t know.  Well, if he could help it, he’d ease her mind.  This was a business marriage.  Besides, he knew nothing about her.  What was she really like?  Maybe tonight was a good time just to talk and learn about each other.

He returned to the sitting room, tea in hand, and found her tucked into a corner of the sofa, her feet under her and the prim gray suit exchanged for pajamas and a robe.  Without realizing it, he admired the hue of her copper-red hair in the lamplight.

“Thanks,” she said, accepting the cup he held out.  She took a long sip and mulled over it.  “Wonderful.  Oh, it seems ages since I had real tea.”

“My aunt gave me some to bring over.  Said I’d make friends more quickly,” he explained.

“In this instance, she was right.  Of course, we don’t begrudge giving up little luxuries,” she defended, “but we do love our tea.”

He just grunted in assent and proceeded with his own sipping.

Discreetly, Eleanor peered over at him.  She couldn’t deny he was attractive, in a sober sort of way.  The way he filled his shirt intimated he had a muscular chest and strong shoulders.  He was dark-haired, just like…

“Mind if I ask what made you join the Special Ops?” Bruce broke into her thoughts.  “I’m fascinated by female spies.”  He smiled a little.

“Well, I’m no Mata Hari, I can tell you that,” she rejoined a bit archly.  “The patriotic thing to say would be that I love my country and would do anything to save her, just as so many are doing their part.  But I’m not poetic, so I’ll be frank.  I like adventure; I think I even like danger.  I’d have been hampered by regulation and rules if I’d joined the Women’s Auxiliary, and I don’t do so very well with those things.  A spy has something close to freedom, even in the stickiest wicket.  There’s room for daring, and most important to me, for honoring your principles.”

“I like that.  And I agree with it,” Bruce nodded.

“You do?” Eleanor was surprised.  “Most of the girls I know who joined the WAAFs think I’m puritanical.”

“To some people, maybe it sounds that way, but I think if you believe something’s right, you’ll do all you can to be faithful to it.  In my case,” he went on, putting his cup on the coffee table, “it’s my faith in God.  Can I ask if that’s what you mean?”

“Yes,” Eleanor answered, beginning to smile.  “It’s just… I’ve gotten laughed at so often that I don’t generally say so right out.”

“Then we’ve got a little more in common than we thought,” Bruce observed brightly.  “To be honest, I don’t know how anyone’s going to get through this war if they don’t have the Savior’s help.”

Eleanor lowered her eyes, softly letting out a sigh.  Bruce caught it.

“I didn’t mean to touch a painful subject,” he said apologetically.

She shook her head.  “No.  It’s all right.  It’s just that I… I know what you mean.  Even in these past three years, I’ve seen and felt things that would destroy me.  Only Christ gives me His peace.”

“May I ask what some of those things are?”

Just a few minutes earlier, Eleanor would have been indignant at his gall for asking such a personal question, but since this bond between them had been revealed, her heart was much more open to him.  She glanced at him, trying to smile despite the mist moistening her eyes.

“My boyfriend, Roger, was killed in the Blitz.  He… was a flyer, on leave for a few days.  I thought maybe he was going to ask me to marry –”

Bruce looked down.  “I’m so sorry.  And I’m sorry for asking.  It was inconsiderate.”

“Please don’t apologize,” she cut in.  “You seem to be a decent chap, and I’m grateful.”

His chin and jaw tightening a little, Bruce thought how wrenching it must be for her to remember the guy she’d been in love with and hoped to marry and to now find herself with a stranger for a husband.  He stood up and aimlessly paced the room, hands in his pockets.

“I’ve been doing all the talking.  Tell me about you, won’t you?” Eleanor asked, calling composure to her aid.  “What made you join the OSS instead of the regular service?”

Bruce’s eyebrows flicked upwards in a thoughtful shrug.  “I guess because of my dad.  He was a spy in the last war.”

“What does he think of this war?”

“He died in ’37, so he doesn’t have to see it, which is a good thing.  Another war would’ve distressed him.  He didn’t talk much about his experiences other than a few stories, but he’d teach me things.  Small things, but important things for a spy.”

“I’m sure he was a wonderful father,” Eleanor remarked.

“He was.”  Bruce resumed his seat beside her.  “Are your parents living?”

“Yes, they’re in Northern England.  I wanted them away from London when things started to look dangerous, so they’re staying with relatives.  Irish relatives, as a matter of fact.”  She smiled.  “You can imagine the clashes they have.”

“Irish and English still feuding,” Bruce chuckled.  “But they’re all on the same side now, right?”

“Oh, yes.  As far as loyalty to the ideals of freedom goes, we’re all united.”

“Good thing.  We need to be if we’re going to stop Hitler,” Bruce mused.

“I know.  Sometimes I can’t believe it.  The things happening, the cruelty… Have you heard the stories of the prisoners who’ve escaped the Nazi camps?”

“Not a lot.  Is it bad?”

Eleanor’s facial muscles went taut.  “They say it’s hell.  Trainloads of people—Jews, mostly—brought in from all over Europe, and they’re either worked to death… or mass-murdered in gas chambers.”

“God help them,” escaped Bruce’s lips.  “If I didn’t know what the Bible said about the evil of man’s heart, I’d say I couldn’t understand it.  But wickedness and destruction result once God and morality are thrown out of a nation.”

“I’m glad you feel that way,” Eleanor confided.  “Usually, you only hear the political reasons for war or unrest, not the spiritual.  It’s a pleasant change to work with someone who actually believes as I do.”

Bruce met her eye, his expression somber but kind.  “When I said we had to be united to win this war, I forgot we were married.”

For a few seconds, Eleanor felt unable to tear her gaze from his, but then she recalled her propriety and began to study her folded hands avidly.

Her reaction made him fear he’d been unwise with his rather intimate remark, and awkwardly he rose.  “Well, we’ll have to leave early tomorrow.  You’d better get some sleep.”

She got up, then paused and turned to him.  “I’d be very glad if we were friends, Bruce.  Still, this marriage only came about because of our job.”

A slight nod of understanding was all Bruce gave in reply.  They said goodnight, Elenor went to the bedroom and closed the door behind her, and he settled himself on the couch.

Their mission was simple in theory but deadly in practice.  Getting into France was the first challenge.  They were supposed to be English citizens with secret sympathies for the Vichy government; that would explain why they’d come over the Channel.  As long as their story held up under any questioning, they would be all right.

Then they needed to befriend other Vichy supporters, those who would connect them to the Nazi agent who was continually wrecking British schemes.  All the SOE knew for sure was that the man was based in Paris, had friends among French sympathizers, and would turn his own mother over to the Gestapo.  Finding him and then convincing him that they were on his side would be very risky, and the Conovers knew it.

After accomplishing the first step, the couple built a routine.  They found a tiny apartment in a crowded part of the city and set up home base there.  Of course, they continued their masquerade, even in private, in case the Gestapo got suspicious.

Insinuating themselves into the circles of Vichy proponents wasn’t so hard, yet the risk remained. The local Vichy government wouldn’t easily take the word of an English-American couple, so Bruce and Elenor must be extra persuasive.  One slip-up would blow their cover.

They were walking through the streets one day, pretending to explore the city.  They’d just left an interview with several Vichy officials and a Gestapo lieutenant in which they spoke of their desire to “help” local authorities in any way they could.

“What do you think?” Eleanor asked.

Bruce pressed his lips together musingly.  “So far, so good.  I thought of something, though, when they asked questions about our wedding.”

“Yes?” Eleanor didn’t look at him.

“We better be filled in on each other.  I mean…as in, likes and dislikes, hobbies, jobs, things that seem little.  They’ll catch us up on those.”

With a brief nod, Eleanor raised her eyes to his face.  She liked his profile.  It was sharp and masculine.  “All right.  What do you like to eat?”

“Steak and baked potato.  You?”

“Chips.  Fries, I think you call them.”

“Hmm.  Okay.  Uh, what’s your favorite color?”

Eleanor thought a second.  “Pink.”

“Not a surprise.  I could have guessed,” Bruce grinned.

“Why?”

“You wear pink very nicely.”

She smiled, feeling her cheeks flush.  “Thank you.  What’s yours?”

“Dark blue.  As in, navy blue.”

“Type of music?”

“Anything swing.”

“I like Impressionist and Romantic.”

“Debussy?”

“Oh yes,” Eleanor replied enthusiastically.  “Do you like him?”

“My mother used to play some on the piano.”

“Do you play?”

A laugh escaped Bruce.  “‘Mess around’ would be more like it.”

And so their conversations progressed, sometimes light, other times more serious.  Discussing their Christian faith became paramount, followed by topics close to them, such as family, life before the war, and of course, the present task.

Their mission seemed to take a step forward when one of their Vichy friends invited them to a dinner party at his mansion.  Eleanor had slipped into a deserted side room to freshen her makeup when the door opened, and a man slipped in.  She looked a bit uneasy.

“Please, do not be alarmed,” he said quickly.  He was dressed as a waiter, probably hired for the evening.  “You are with the American gentleman, are you not?”

Eleanor maintained an admirably diffident mien.  “Yes, he’s my husband.  Why?”

The waiter came closer, glancing around alertly.  “Is your name Conover? Do you know a man named Welles?”

Her eyes glinted.  How did this fellow know Colonel Welles? She was intrigued and suspicious at the same time.  Carefully, she decided to take a chance.

“I’ve heard of him,” was her reply.

The man let out a breath.  “You’re very wise to be wary.  But I can assure you I’m a friend.  Colonel Welles contacted our cell.”

“Cell?” Eleanor began to understand.

“We’re part of the Resistance.  My name is Duval.”

“I’m glad to meet you.” Eleanor gave him her hand.

“And I to meet you.  Sadly there’s no time for pleasantries.  I’ve been instructed to tell you that the man you’re looking for frequents a café in the city’s eastern part.  You should be able to find him there.”

Eleanor felt excited.  At last, a lead on their quarry! “What’s the name of the place?” she asked.

“Olivier’s.  Now I must go.  Be very cautious, Mrs. Conover!” and Duval backtracked his way from the room.

Of course, Eleanor hastened back to Bruce, telegraphing to him with her eyes that she had information.  Once they were able to say goodnight to the host, they went out into the night, and during their walk, Eleanor told Bruce the whole incident.

“We’ll go tomorrow night.  It’ll be Saturday,” Bruce observed.

“Then what? Do you have a plan?” Eleanor was interested.

He grinned, though it was a kind of absent grin.  “We’re sympathizers, remember? We just need to let him know that.”

“If he hasn’t heard about us already from his friends,” Eleanor remarked.  Her tone was dry.

Bruce glanced at her.  He noticed how the moonlight shimmered on her rich hair.  “Are you nervous?”

“A little,” she said, somewhat defiantly.  “But I suppose I shouldn’t be.  This is the reason we’re here.”  She kept her voice low, an easy thing because it was ingrained in her.

“And God is always walking with us,” Bruce said softly.

Her face relaxed, and she turned to look at him.  “Thank you.  Sometimes I… forget.  You help me to remember more than you know.”

Bruce just smiled.  Eleanor missed the tender light that flickered in his eyes and then passed on.

The next evening found them seated at a little table outside Olivier’s Café.  They were covertly studying the other patrons and finally rested their gaze on a man they deduced was their spy.  He remained long after others had come and gone.  Abruptly, he glanced their way and caught Eleanor’s eye.  She shifted her gaze, attempting a blank stare at her surroundings.

“He saw me looking at him,” she whispered, her lips hardly moving.

Bruce took a swig of coffee.  It was weak.  “Careful.”

“Oh no.”  Eleanor’s brow furrowed a little.  “Coming down the street.  German patrol.”

The events of the next few seconds confirmed to Bruce that they were in danger.  The spy noticed the approaching patrol as well, got up, paid for his drink, and walked in the direction of the soldiers.  He seemed to know the head officer and said something to him, then ducked into an alley and disappeared.

“We have to leave.  I think he suspected us and told them,” Bruce whispered.  A little flash of alarm sparked in Eleanor’s eyes, but she kept up a front of nonchalance.  They left some money and skirted the other tables on their way to a perpendicular street.

Walking fast, Bruce and Eleanor cut deep into the city’s heart, passing swastika-adorned buildings and darting down alleys.  Bruce held Eleanor’s hand firmly.  She glanced at him once to see lines of worry on his forehead.  Her heart started beating a little faster.  If the patrol caught up with them…

They pulled up behind an archway, and Bruce listened.  The hurried sound of boot soles on stone caught his ear.

“They’re definitely after us,” he whispered.

“Oh no, please no,” Eleanor couldn’t help saying.

They started again, almost running.  Going home was out of the question; they mustn’t bring suspicion on their apartment.  Right then, Bruce caught sight of a wide aqueduct ahead.  Beneath it were arches, some almost entirely out of the low water.

“Down there!” he urged.

Carefully, lest they trip on the steep bank, they clambered downwards.  They could hear the heavy footfalls getting closer.  They tiptoed into the water and headed for the arches further out.  The water came above their waists.  The Germans wouldn’t dream of looking there.

Bruce led Eleanor under the tunnel-like arch, quickly noting a big crevice where it had been damaged.  He motioned her to squeeze in and crammed himself in after her.  It was so tight they had to stand parallel with the opening, so their right sides faced the water; Eleanor felt Bruce’s taut body pressed against her back.

He’d drawn out an automatic and raised it, listening sharply.

They both could hear voices above them, distant but distinctly German.  The soldiers were on the bridge.  A sudden clear shout startled them, and Bruce realized they were searching the bank, but they hadn’t entered the water.  He tightened his grip on Eleanor’s arm reassuringly.

Splashes sounded.  Bruce went tense, and Eleanor craned her neck so she could look at him.  He could just see out into the moonlit darkness and distinguish the silhouettes of soldiers, guns raised above their heads, slowly wading into the water.

“Don’t make a sound.  Don’t… even… breathe,” he whispered, his lips almost touching her ear.

Her nod was so slight he might have missed it if he wasn’t so close.

The wait was torture.  If discovered, they would more than likely be shot.  The Nazis weren’t known for decent procedural arrest, much less mercy.  Eleanor shut her eyes for a second, praying that God would blind the Germans’ eyes.  She felt weak.  She let her head drift back until it rested on Bruce’s shoulder.  His practiced handling of the gun and his strong frame suddenly comforted her.

Subconsciously, Bruce let his arm creep around Eleanor’s waist and grip her closer to him.  He only noticed it when he felt her pulse quicken as his hand came to rest beneath her left breast.  Eleanor didn’t try to pull away; his touch made her feel safe.  Neither made a sound—they couldn’t.  But strange sensations were muddled up with the terror of the situation.

Bruce found himself breathing in the scent of her hair since his nose was practically buried in it.  In the dim light, her pale neck was visible.  The overpowering desire to press his lips to it lit his body on fire.  He rebuked himself.  This was not the time.  He could see the Nazis wading right past them, maybe twelve yards away.  Yet Eleanor’s warm slenderness imprinted against him distracted his alertness.

On her part, there was a stirring, a combination of admiration for this protective American and a desire to feel a good man’s love.  Being this close, with the very real threat of meeting danger and death any second with him, tied her to him as she hadn’t thought possible.

The soldiers continued on, their powers of observation hampered by the night.  Gradually, Bruce and Eleanor detected the sounds of men leaving the water and clambering back up the bank and heading away. Finally, their voices faded into quietness.

Eleanor let her breath out, realizing she’d been holding it.  She glanced at Bruce, meeting his eye as he lowered his gun and looked at her.

“That was so close,” she began in a low tone.

Bruce dropped his eyes down to her lips.  “Too close.  We’ll have to be more careful.”

“If they’d caught us….”

“Hiding might not have been the smartest move,” Bruce said slowly.  “If we’d….” He paused.

“If we’d what?”

Against his will, Bruce’s fingers tightened around Eleanor’s waist.  “They probably wouldn’t bother a guy and his girl who were… necking,” he finished.

Eleanor felt a little throb in her stomach—a throb of excitement.  “And… you’re suggesting we… do that instead next time?” was her uncertain query.

“Might do the trick,” he answered.

A distant dog bark suddenly broke the aura.  Bruce’s eyes darted to the outside world, and he listened cautiously.  Then he gently pushed Eleanor out of their hiding place.  “We’d better go now, just in case the Gestapo decide to drop in at the apartment.”

Saying nothing, Eleanor followed him.  She didn’t understand her feelings.  In a way, she was relieved.  She kept telling herself she wasn’t ready to fall in love again.  But way back in the mists of her mind, she knew she was disappointed.

After a week passed and nothing further happened, Bruce and Elenor continued to plan.  They hoped they hadn’t scared the spy off.  There was still a chance they could convince him they were friends.  Duval had “bumped” into them and arranged for them to meet some other members of the French Resistance.  They might be able to help capture the spy.

It was night, maybe eleven-thirty.  Eleanor had finally finished her book and craved a little coffee, bland though it was. She emerged from her room in a nightgown and robe, her coppery hair fluffed out over her shoulders.

Bruce was perched on the edge of the couch in the sitting room, studying some maps.

“What’s up?” she asked, coming over.

“Just trying to get all points down so we won’t blow anything when we meet with the Resistance,” Bruce explained.  “It’s tough.  No markings allowed, you know.  The Gestapo might get their hands on these.”

Eleanor sat down beside him and joined him in scanning the maps.  “If we can actually talk to them, they might have a lead on our man,” she mused.

“That’s what HQ wanted,” Bruce rejoined.

“I was thinking about something Monsieur Delaney said today at the luncheon,” Eleanor mused.  “He kept referencing his friend, LeSeine, who does so much for the Vichy movement, etc., etc.”

“Hmm.  We’ll have to find out who LeSeine is.  You’re very observant,” Bruce commended.  “I do wish we had a radio.  Then I could get in touch with our contacts in England directly.”

“But it would be so very dangerous,” she remonstrated.  “If they found the signal….”

Bruce turned to her, realizing her face was quite close to his.

“Well, we’re getting along fine on our own,” he conceded.

“You’re looking exhausted.  Weren’t you up all last night memorizing those coded messages?” Eleanor asked, her voice a little softer.  She, too, felt the glow between them.

“I hadn’t even noticed, but… yeah, I’m… pretty tired.  I thought you were asleep.”

“No, I was reading.”  She said it hastily, though why she didn’t know.

“Maybe you’d better go to bed,” he began.  Slowly, deftly, he leaned closer to Eleanor.

“You should, too,” she whispered.

The spark was almost visible in the space between his lips and hers.  Bruce held himself, unsure.  Eleanor had made it plain in the beginning that this was a business marriage.  He could see the pucker of her brows, the uncertainty in her breathing.  But he also saw her eyes slip downward, resting on his lips, then jumping back up to meet his eyes.

“Eleanor, I can’t keep fighting it,” he said huskily.  He darted to meet her mouth, catching her lips so swiftly that she lost the chance to get a breath.

Her hands instinctively clung to his upper arms as he pulled her closer to him.  She trembled a little as she felt herself pressed up against him.  All the while, he kissed her, his lips parting and gently wandering over hers.  Not since she’d kissed her boyfriend goodbye for the last time had she felt so aroused by a man.

They had fallen back against the couch’s cushions, the kiss boiling into something more passionate as Eleanor abandoned her reserve and returned Bruce’s hungry seeking with an equal desire.  She moaned, sucking in air when she could and stealing looks at him through her eyelashes.

Her hands strayed—she couldn’t help it—and very quickly noticed both the heaving of Bruce’s chest and the stiff tent in the front of his trousers.  It shocked her, but in a delightful way.  He wanted her; here was the proof.

“Eleanor… you’re so…” Bruce murmured, not finishing because his mouth covered hers again, then traveled along her jaw to her ear.

“Oh my… don’t stop… Bruce…”

And just then, someone knocked at the door.

They both stopped abruptly, startled.  Only something major could bring anyone to their door, and the thought dispersed their passion.  Bruce dove to his feet, straightening his wrinkled shirt and trying to hide his obvious erection, while Eleanor sat upright and smoothed her hair and rearranged her loosened robe.

Outside stood a soldier, a messenger from Gestapo headquarters.  The officer in charge had a few more questions to ask of Mr. Conover if he would so kindly come down at his earliest convenience the next morning.  Bruce promised he would and shut the door.

When he turned around, Eleanor was on her feet.

“It’s all right.  I’ll have to go in to talk to that lieutenant again,” he said briefly.  He could see that she was still aroused, her breasts rising and falling, her hair soft and wild around her face, a flush on her cheeks.

“Be careful, please.  After the other night… what if they suspect us?” she asked earnestly.

“I know, I know.  We’ll walk softly,” he assured her.  He wanted to say something else, to step towards her, but wasn’t sure he should.  He still couldn’t believe he’d just kissed her.  It was wonderful, better than anything he’d imagined.  And from the look of her, she felt the same way.  Maybe she would do it again?

But she was evidently trying to be sensible.  “If you have to get up early, you have to get some sleep.  Otherwise, you won’t be sharp and on top of everything.”  Her tone was gentle but firm.  He had no idea that she was trembling inside, struggling to speak calmly when she wanted more than anything to have him stride over, grab her, and continue his passionate kisses.

“All right.  But you go to bed too,” he insisted.

She nodded.  “Goodnight.” And turning, she went into her own room and shut the door.

For a minute, he just stood, looking down at the sofa.  Moments ago, she’d been lying there beneath his heavy frame, soft and fiery and accepting of his caresses.  It dumbfounded him in its raw glory.  That kiss, that embrace, had revealed to him what he was missing.  No, what they were missing.  Husband and wife were not meant to go along like business associates.  He replayed, with shiver-inducing clarity, the scene in his head and felt the thrill all over again of her warm responding body and hungry lips.

Three days later, they meet Duval and his Resistance friends.  The conference revealed some exciting discoveries.  The man called LeSeine was, in actuality, the spy Bruce and Eleanor sought.  They had a chance to catch him the next day out in the country because LeSeine would be traveling alone in a truck.  If they could just intercept him, then with the help of the French Underground, they’d smuggle him over the Channel and have him in custody.

When the couple returned home that evening, Bruce was so tired that Eleanor commanded him to go into her room and sleep.  She could manage the couch for a night.  He obeyed.  The day had been long and wearisome, concluding with unanswered questions and unsolved dilemmas. Nevertheless, tomorrow they would make their move.  With the opportunity to catch LeSeine, they might soon complete their mission.  Of course, this was the plan, but it might not work.  Anything could go wrong.

Eleanor softly floated to the bedroom door, which was just ajar.  She couldn’t sleep.  She’d had some supper and tried to read, but her thoughts kept racing to the man sleeping in her bed.  She was at the point in her cycle when she felt so alive, so fiery, so in need of a man.  She was married.  She knew she was in love with Bruce.  Perhaps, just perhaps, this marriage could be more than just a business deal.

She silently pushed the door open and leaned against the doorframe, gazing at Bruce as he slept on her bed.  He’d evidently gone out like a light; his body twisted in a convoluted fashion and one arm flung above his head.  He was shirtless and in pajama pants, with a light blanket tossed over his feet.  To Eleanor, he was so very alluring, his bare chest so bronzed and muscular and rising softly with his breathing.  And she knew she was attractive to him.  How often had he glanced discreetly at her breasts, always covered by her clothes but their shape never hidden? Just the thought of that kiss a few nights ago cemented in her mind how strong their attraction was.  Her lips burned with hunger, thinking of it now.

As Elenor stood there, her eyes drinking in the man she had come to love, she untied and dropped her robe so she was left in only her nightgown.  It was thin and silky, one piece of luxurious clothing she hadn’t been able to leave behind in England.  The sweetheart neckline framed her round breasts so very seductively, pressing them together to create the illusion of even deeper cleavage.  The tension in her loins urged her hips to move, her thighs to rub against each other.  She felt a warm wetness leaking from her.

Licking her velvety lips, she took a step forward, then another, gliding with the gait of a woman who knows she is desirable and delights in it. Finally, she reached the bedside and bent over Bruce.  He didn’t stir.  Weariness had conquered him.

Eleanor bent down, admiring and adoring the manly face, the strong brow, the rugged jawline and chin.  Peace filled her, and she knew that she was in the right place, no matter what tomorrow, the next day, or the next year held in store.  God had brought this marriage about, whatever the circumstances.  It was good, and she needed to let Bruce know it.

She pressed her lips to his, loving his taste, inhaling his breath as he slept on.  Then she kissed his chin, down his neck, all over his bare chest.

Coming to consciousness, Bruce sensed something touching his body.  He let his mind reorder itself, blinking a few times.  Someone was kissing him.  He could feel the warm lips meet his abdomen and ribs repeatedly.

There was enough moonlight coming through the high window for him to take in the scene.  Practically lying on him was a beautiful woman, her dark copper hair glowing with moonlight, her kisses sweet on his body.

Without a word, he reached for her and drew her up.  Their lips met as she rested on his chest and flung one leg over his.  The ribbons of her nightgown slipped from her shoulders, almost fully revealing her breasts.  They kissed with intensifying lust.  Bruce felt the blood of desire hardening his manhood and let his hands stray over Eleanor’s smooth back.

Finally, he broke for air, though his mouth remained close to hers.  “Oh God, I want you so bad, baby,” he groaned.  “I can’t be your husband and not make love to you.”

“I’ve wanted to tell you… I’m ready.  Forgive me for holding back.”

“Shh.  There’s nothing to forgive,” Bruce rejoined, rolling over so he was above her.  “I love you.  You know that?”

“I know it.  I… I’ve known for a while, and that’s why I came in here like this.  I wanted to tell you.  That I love you.”  Her eyes, raised to his face, were big and soft in the dark.

He lowered his head and touched her lips again with his before kissing her jawline and neck.  His mouth wandered down over the warm swells of her breasts while, gently but lustfully, she stroked and gripped his arms and his back and combed her fingers through his hair.

“Oh, baby,” he murmured, his fingers traveling up under her nightgown to her secret place.  Hot wetness met him.  She gasped.

“Yes, Bruce, yes.”

She hiked up her nightgown as he reached down to release his solid rod from his pants.  Then he settled between her legs, pressing against her and rubbing as they both got used to the feeling.  It was their first time, after all.

A long moan of enjoyment trembled in her throat.  “Oh Bruce, please don’t wait,” she whispered.

“I just don’t want to hurt you,” he explained.

“You won’t.  I’m so… so ready.”  Eleanor felt her face grow rosy.

He kissed her vehemently, opening his mouth and ravishing hers.  At the same time, he pushed in.  It was true.  She was so wet, so full of need, that there was little resistance.

Her breath was pulled out of her by the amazing sensation as he filled her.  With a pause, he gazed all over her face and into her eyes, tenderly brushing back the stray tendrils of hair from her forehead.

Then he began to move, to draw himself up close and then pull back, twisting his hips, burrowing into her with slow, intentional gyrations.

Neither could speak.  Only gasps and moans broke from each.  Eleanor let her hands wander over her husband’s body, down his chest and abdomen, and around to his firm buttocks.  Every few seconds, their lips met, just one of the many points of connection.  They glided; they shuddered; they jerked, learning to blend and reveling in it.

It lasted only a few minutes, yet they were glorious minutes.  Eleanor guided his hand to her love button and encouraged him to massage all around it.  Combined with the thickness of his shaft inside her,  it was enough to send her into a quick, delicious convulsion.  The sounds of lovemaking—her fast breathing and groaning, the squelch of his cock plowing into her dampness, his own gasps for air—excited Bruce so that he couldn’t contain himself.  The pressure in his loins exploded.

Eleanor let her breath out in a long, quivery cry, loving it as he emptied himself in her.  She felt him throb and flex inside her canal.  He continued to catch his breath, the act having taken its toll on his tired body, yet he couldn’t stop touching her.  His lips were all over her face and neck and breasts again, slower and more tender than before.  His hands gripped her soft shoulders and strayed down to stroke her buttocks, thighs, and smooth belly.

Finally, Bruce fell back on his pillow beside Eleanor, and she raised herself so that she was again on top of him with her breasts crushed against his chest.  He moved his hand through her hair, pushing it away so he might look deep into her eyes.

“I love you, Eleanor Conover,” he declared.

“And I love you, my Bruce,” she whispered back.

No longer were they bound in a business marriage.

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3 replies
  1. LovingMan says:

    LovelyLonelyLady I absolutely love your historical romances. I appreciate the context of the married sexual relationship. It means so much more when you get to read about their growing attraction and developing love first!

  2. carmelsk says:

    War is hell, they say, and the positions Bruce and Eleanor found themselves in certainly not an afternoon in the park. Some might argue that she should have declined, conscientious objector and all that. Few would have faulted her. It’s not unlikely another candidate could have been found with no compunction about such an arrangement. Others would argue, “Duty to the motherland, what? Be a good chap, now. Moral conventions be damned.” Still others may claim the colonel or Bruce wimped out for putting Eleanor in the position of having to make the decision. I’ve never had to face such a decision so it’s only theoretical what I might do under similar circumstances.

    I re-read your story this morning. Intrigue. Moral dilemma. Awkwardness. A man and a woman thrown together during wartime, living with danger, overcoming fear, coping with sexual tension and having it dissolve, with no compromise in principles – all elements of a good story. Perhaps I liked it most for the commitment Bruce and Eleanor made to each other to fulfill a purpose in life, not knowing, perhaps even not caring, whether love would follow. Marriage is more than a “get out of jail free card” for copulating.

  3. SophTea says:

    I ADORE your stories, I am always eager to read the next one, you do an amazing job bringing glory to the marriage bed through the medium of your storytelling. The period pieces you write are amazing, and as you've said before the way you reflect the era in them is amazing! Please keep writing, sending hugs and prayers 🤗❣️

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