They’re rolling out the teasers and promos for the new season of Downton, complete with all the mouth-watering usuals: elegant gowns, dapper gentlemen, priceless ornaments … and plastic water bottles.
Yes, one of the promo photos has a water bottle left on the mantelpiece behind Lady Edith. Snarf. Made me laugh, anyway. Job done, even if they are cursing themselves. To be honest, it took me ages to spot it. That’s the thing about see through things, they’re sort of … see through.
Despite the thirst-quenching anachronism, it’s getting us all in the mood for a bit of upstairs/downstairs intrigue, scheming and rumpy pumpy. Can’t wait.
And if, like me, you can’t wait, how about easing your yearning with some more stately home shenanigans? In Service to the Senses tells the story of the feisty relationship between frustrated Lady Isabella and the brooding valet, Edward. And, if that’s not enough passionate fun, when a handsome new footman arrives, Isabella’s eye is drawn to him too.
Here’s a snippety-poo. The staff have just been interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Lady Isabella in their kitchen. She sends them outside.
Despite her startling appearance in the kitchen and her bizarre request, the staff knew better than to argue with Lady Atherton. With a surreptitious glance at each other, they rose rapidly to their feet, bobbed quickly, muttered ‘My lady’ in rushed breaths and hurried out. All except one.
Edward didn’t move. He remained seated as he had been, legs crossed, posture reclining, staring up at the lady of the house with a coolness bordering on arrogance.
Lady Atherton did not enquire as to why he had not left with the others, but instead stared down at him, her tight disdain now gone, replaced by a flush on the smooth cheeks. She drew in rapid breaths. At last Edward slowly, languidly, pushed himself up, tossing the polishing cloth dismissively onto the table. He took steady steps across to the countess, stopping a foot in front of her, and stared down.
“Bored, are we?” he drawled.
“You didn’t come to me last night, Marham.”
“I were busy, my lady. Yer husband wanted his shirts sortin’. Took me all night.”
“What, my lady?” He didn’t move. He didn’t uncross his arms.
“I was expecting you. It has been three days since…last time.”
“I’m a busy man, my lady. We can’t be havin’ all fun and games now, can we?” He smirked.
“You told me you’d be there last night.”
Edward sniffed derisively. “Oh, it don’t work like that with me, my lady, y’know that.”
She stepped into him, her sculpted face now open and needing, her words urgent. “Show me how it does work with you, Marham.”
His mouth curled up again and he cocked a teasing eyebrow. “What? Right here and now?”
“Yes. Now. Right now.” She could barely speak between breaths. Lady Atherton reached up a hand and placed it on the valet’s shirt, drawing it up over his torso with deliberate sensuality.
Edward moved swiftly and strongly, gripping her wrist hard and pulling it off him. He leaned in again. “Oh no. You’ll have to ask more nicely than that.”
She glanced down at where he held her. “You’re hurting me.”
He only tightened his hold, causing her to suck in sharply. “You like me hurting you. That’s why you’re here. You need me for the pleasure and the pain. Don’t you…my lady?”
She looked up, her eyes wide, fearful and desirous. Isabella nodded.
“Now…ask me nicely.”
She swallowed, held his gaze, and stuttered, “Please.”
Leaning across, he brought his mouth close to her ear. “Good girl.”
Reader advisory: Be close to a cold shower when you read this, or at least several bottles of cold water. (You’ll find one on a mantelpiece in Downton Abbey.) If you’d like to see what happens next, you can find In Service to the Senses in the following places:
and all other good online bookshops. 😉
For further cold water-needing moments, here you go: Demelza Hart’s Amazon author page
Happy, hot reading!