Rings Rings

Romantic Marriage Stories

Story 14
Lace, Ruffles, and the Swish of Silk: The Romance of Yesteryear

by Bill Quinn

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"A what?"

"A Victorian dance," Laurie replied with that glow of excitement in her voice. "You know--Queen Victoria, England, last half of the nineteenth century..."

"Yeah, I know what the Victorian era is. But what exactly is it that we're going to?"

"A very romantic dance," Laurie answered dreamily. "Completely authentic: we'll dress in Victorian styles, we'll dance the way they did back then..."

"We don't know any Victorian dances," I interrupted.

Laurie assumed her most affronted look. "Speak for yourself, Terry," she said with great dignity. "I've been doing a considerable amount of research for over a month. I wanted it to be a surprise."

Then Laurie assumed that "little-girl" look, as her eyes glazed over in contemplation. "It'll be a very romantic evening," she added.

"You said something about dressing in Victorian styles..."

Her eyes refocused on me.

"Yes! I've ordered everything we need from the Internet. The whole evening will be a return to the elegance of yesterday. The ladies will be dressed in beautiful gowns; the men will look so handsome and debonair..."

Again, Laurie's imagination was carrying her away as she envisioned the evening. She was more excited than I had seen her in quite some time.

"A romantic evening, eh? Victorian elegance? Do we arrive in a horse-drawn buggy?"

"Oh, don't be silly," she said with mock scorn. "We'll drive there in our car of course."

Laurie had waited until rather late in the evening to break this news to me. We were sitting on the sofa and about ready to retire. She had turned to face me, pulling one knee onto the sofa. My arm had been around her, but she had pulled away a bit so that she could face me while describing all this.

Her scorn was almost immediately replaced with that dreamy look again. She reached over and gently laid her hand on my knee.

"I can hardly wait. I'm looking forward to it so much. And wait until you see what I got for us to wear."

"Well, OK, let's have a look." I was still lacking somewhat in true enthusiasm but tried to appear more interested. I know how a negative attitude can hurt when you are really excited about something.

"Oh, no...I want that to be a surprise too. You'll see everything on Saturday when we're dressing for the dance."

Today was Wednesday. It was no big disapointment that I was not going to see some old-fashioned clothes until Saturday. Floor-length dresses on the women--not even being able to see any shapely legs. How sexy could clothes from the Victorian era be?

"Well, I suppose with much effort I'll be able to wait," I said with playful sarcasm.

But then a thought hit me. I remembered one particular item of Victorian female attire that might hold some interest.

"Authentic Victorian fashions, did you say?"

"Absolutely authentic," Laurie assured me.

"Well, then, I assume you're going to wear a corset?"

I really did not "assume" any such thing. My goal was to tease her a little at the point where her authenticity would be breaking down. However, to my utter astonishment, Laurie tilted her head just a bit as she assumed a rather impish smile.

"Yes, a very sexy corset. Is your interest beginning to pique a bit now?"

I was too stunned to think of anything to reply. I had seen some corsets in movies that I thought looked really sexy, but I had always assumed they were extremely uncomfortable to wear. Laurie was really going all out for accuracy. Or was she doing it just for me?

"Uh, well..."

"You're not excited to see me in a corset?" All of a sudden Laurie's voice seemed deflated, her expression almost hurt.

"Of course I am!" This time I really meant it. I was indeed getting intrigued at the prospect of seeing Laurie in a corset. Some rather interesting images were already forming in my fertile mind.

"Yes, yes, of course I am. Man, what do you think? All those Westerns we've seen with girls in those sexy corsets...I can hardly wait!"

Laurie burst into a bright smile. But then she purposely switched to a stern, matronly expression. Wiggling her finger at me, she said, "But you will just have to wait. No advance floor shows."

Then a sweet smile returned and she reached out a touched my face. "I can hardly wait too," she added.

But we had talked enough. All evening I had been thinking about making love tonight. In fact, I had been about ready to make my move when Laurie brought up this whole business about the Victorian dance. I stood, took her by the hand and led her into our bedroom. Seating her on the bed, I said, "But there's one thing I don't want to wait for..." Gentling pushing her into a prone position, I gracefully got on the bed next to her.

"Or are we going to be 'Victorian' tonight?"

I half expected her to play act and prudishly decline, but it seemed tonight was my night for surprises. Laurie reached up, put her arms around me, and gently drew me to her.

"That's a complete myth. The Victorians had a very healthy attitude about sex. And I'm in pretty good health tonight..."

Her voice dropped off as she kissed me.

Yes, we were both quite healthy that night.

Thursday and Friday nights were devoted to Laurie teaching me what I needed to know about Victorian dances and Victorian etiquette.

The event we would be attending was not as extravagant as the now-famous "Tall Stacks" festival held in Cincinnati every three or four years. That event, spread of five days, celebrates riverboat history from the nineteenth century. Many participants come in Victorian fashion from the era, accurate to the last detail.

Our event was just one night. It was to be a gala affair recreating a formal Victorian dance. Tickets were rather expensive, as are the Victorian clothes. Fortunately for Laurie, she was able to break the surprise to me before the VISA bill arrived.

Thursday night we covered Victorian dances. During the nineteenth century, dance was the most popular form of entertainment. An elegant grand ball would normally start around sundown on a Saturday evening. It opened with the Grand March followed by the first waltz. Then around midnight there would be a sumptuous meal, followed by more dancing until dawn. I did not think I was up to what we used to call in college an "all-nighter." To my relief, Laurie informed me that the event we were to attend would break up around midnight with everybody going home.

The Grand March, she explained, was a majestic entry into the ballroom. In form, it was just a simple march into the hall, but couples would show off their finery with pomp and circumstance. It was led by a Proctor.

Following the Grand March, the couples would begin the first waltz. Now the waltz as music was actually introduced during the period of Romanticism, which began in the early 1800s. However, as a dance it was at first considered risque because of the way the dancers held each other throughout the dance. In pre-Victorian dances, couples generally only made contact by occasionally holding hands. However, later in the century, the waltz became not only acceptable, but quite popular.

Again, this was most fortunate for me. What kind of a night would we have if I could not even hold Laurie while we were dancing?

I said as much to Laurie, thinking it would please her, but then she gave me another surprise.

"Well...yes. You'll get to hold me...but you won't be the only one," she added tenuously.

"What do you mean?"

"There'll probably be some form of the Spanish Circle Waltz."

"What happens in the Spanish Circle Waltz?" I asked suspiciously.

"Well, it's a form of waltz, still in 3/4 time, but it's a progressive dance where partners advance and dance with other partners throughout the dance. Then too, in addition to a circle waltz, it was considered impolite to dance every dance with the same partner."

I frowned, but then put a smile back on my face.

"That's all right with me. But keep in mind that old rock-n-roll song by the Drifters, 'Save the Last Dance for Me'..." I humorously wagged my finger at Laurie as I repeated two more of the lines:

And don't forget who's takin' you home
And in who's arms you're gonna be...

"Yes, dear, I'll remember," she said with a suitably submissive smile.

"Any other surprises?" I asked.

"They'll probably do the Virginia Reel."

"Well, at least I've heard of that one, but I've never done it."

"Then you're in for a real treat!" Had she intended the pun? "Of course, the dance goes all the way back to Colonial times, but it was still very popular during the Victorian era."

"But how do you do it? And what kind of music is used?"

"It can be done to any number of tunes if they have a sort of 'Turkey-in-the-Straw' type beat." Then she added rather pedantically, "The dance itself is done in what is called contra-formation. Couples face each other in two lines with the ladies on one side and the gentlemen on the other."

I raised my eyebrows a bit. This came out sounding quite formal, and Laurie obviously was getting into the Victorian spirit again.

"The double line has a head and foot, with the head nearest the orchestra, band, or music source. The couple at the head of the line are called the top couple. The dance is usually limited to six couples at a time. They're called a set."

"Only six couples form a set? Oh, good! Maybe we can avoid it," I joked.

"Not on your life! I'm really looking forward to it. Anyway, once the first set of couples completes the dance, another set is formed with the next six couples.

"Now here's how it goes. Beginning with the top couple, each couple in turn reels the set, a whirling, spinning combination of maneuvers that resembles a reeling drunk weaving his way home from the tavern. That's where the name comes from. Come on, get up, I'll show you."

I stood up and Laurie took her position facing me. "Now we're the top couple. Here, take both my hands. All the couples do this and go forward and back for eight beats of the music. At this point, the other couples return to their lines, but we're the top couple. So next you take my hand in your right hand, and I rotate once for another eight beats. Then you take my hand in your left hand, and I do another three-sixty the other way around."

I was beginning to feel awkward, but Laurie continued in an encouraging tone.

"Next we do-si-do--start shoulder-to-shoulder and sashay around each other back-to-back for another eight beats."

Laurie put her right shoulder next to my right shoulder and demonstrated this maneuver.

"Now we hold hands with both hands and sashay down the center of the set and then back to the top. That uses up another 16 beats."

Laurie took my both my hands, and we "sashayed" in a sideways manner across the room. I was enjoying the hand-holding part.

"This is getting complicated," I protested.

Laurie laughed. "Just wait. You haven't seen anything yet. Now as the top couple, once we get back to the top of the set, we begin to reel the set. First we hook right elbows and whirl around one and one half times."

Laurie took my arm, and we twirled around. Then she stopped, faced me, and continued the description.

"Then the top gentleman--that's you--goes to the next lady in the ladies' line, and the top lady--that's me--goes to the next gentleman in the gentlemen's line. Both couples lock left elbows and whirl around once. Then the top man and woman meet again in the middle, lock right elbows and spin around once. After that, they split up again and go to the next couple in the set and repeat the process. It's described as right to your partner, left to the next. By doing this again and again, the top couple reels all the way down the line."

At this point, my head was reeling, not my feet.

"Now comes the really pretty part," Laurie said.

"There's more?" I asked incredulously.

Laurie frowned but continued undaunted. "The top couple sashays back up the center of the line to the top, then peel off from each other to their respective lines. Stepping to the outside of the lines, they go back to the bottom, come together, and make a two-handed arch. All the other couples follow them down to the bottom and up through the arch, leaving the top couple at the bottom, and the second couple at the top ready to reel the set."

Laurie was still smiling as she pictured the whole thing in her mind. But to reassure me, she added, "I've seen it done, Terry, it's not as complicated as it sounds, and it's really great fun."

"It will be as complicated as it sounds," I responded pessimistically.

Training in physics occasionally comes in handy in married life. As I sat back down on the sofa, I began mentally applying various quantifying factors by which I might be able to assess the degree to which I will make a fool of myself Saturday night.

Laurie bounced down on the sofa and put her arm around me. "But it'll be so romantic, won't it? Just think: it'll be like going back in time."

"What makes you think the Victorian era was any more romantic than today?"

Somehow Laurie sensed she was on slippery ground here. "Well," she began cautiously, "I'm sure every era has always had its share of romantic men like you."

She began tickling my ear. Yes, the buttering-up strategy was in full swing.

"But today is not really what you'd call a romantic era," she continued. "More and more women work, and on the job men tend to treat them as 'one of the guys.' Women practically dress like men, and the feminist movement has pretty much succeeded in raising a generation of men and women who know little about the fine etiquette and courtesies that gentlemen used to extend to ladies. But back in the Victorian era," her eyes began to glow again, "women were so feminine, dressed in such finery, and men were so gallant...Which reminds me: tomorrow, we cover Victorian etiquette."

"Yeah, all that might be romantic for you. But how exciting will it be for me at that dance? I won't even be able to see your legs!"

Laurie still had her arm around me. She gave my shoulder a squeeze. With her other hand, she reached out and gently touched my face with her finger.

"Yes, that's true. But you'll know what I have on underneath..." she said in a sultry tone. Then she eased me down into a prone position, leaned over, and kissed me. "Does that thought make it more romantic for you?"

"Is that a promise that we're going to make love Saturday night?"

Laurie backed away and looked quite indignant. "Certainly not! What sexy wife would ever make a promise like that? She has to maintain the mystery..."

Laurie believes sex is more exciting when there is always that element of uncertainty--and from my point of view, it has been. Anyway, I thought I would tease her a little about tonight. While Laurie was still leaning over me, I took my finger and began drawing delicate circles on her breast.

"Yeah, well, the aura of mystery is beginning to fill my mind tonight..." I let my voice drift off.

She pushed herself upright by putting her hand on my chest. "Two nights in a row? No way. Don't even think about mysteries tonight! Now, Saturday night...maybe...if your lucky!" she added giggling.

That usually means "yes," but with Laurie I never know for sure.

As I drove home from school on Friday, I was in a pensive mood. As might be expected, my excitement was building up for our Victorian dance tomorrow night. Yes, I was anxious to see Laurie in her corset, but it went deeper than that. I just enjoy doing things with her, especially when she is looking forward to them with such a child-like enthusiasm. So I was also anxious to see her enjoying herself so much.

As I turned into the drive, another feeling swept over me. It is difficult to put into words, but I have felt it often enough before. There is just something really special about arriving at home for me. In a sense, it is entering another world, my very own world. The driveway, the yard, and then especially the house close in around me with warmth, comfort, cosiness, and assurance. It is where I am revitalized, and it is where Laurie is. I love coming home to Laurie. We have a very affectionate relationship.

All-in-all, I was in a pretty good mood tonight.

After dinner, it was back to the business of preparing for Saturday night. Laurie sat me down on the sofa for instructions on Victorian etiquette at dances.

"First of all," she began, "it is not considered proper to dance with only one partner the whole evening. That might result in some ladies getting preferential treatment and others getting neglected. A gentleman is always ready to dance with a lady in need of a partner for one of the dances."

"Isn't everyone there going to be married?"

"Actually, probably not. And anyway, it might be that some husbands there will be cads and ignore their poor wives."

"And you want me to be a gentleman..."

"Of course."

Ah, now here was an opportunity for a bit of pleasant teasing: emphasize some delightful aspect for me that Laurie might not have anticipated.

Rubbing my chin with a contemplative expression, I said, "Well, now, maybe this dance won't be so bad after all. There might be some very cute girls there in need of a gentleman. And of course you would want me to come to their rescue and dance with them."

Laurie scowled at me. "Don't get your hopes up too high, Casanova. The really cute girls will have no trouble getting dances. They probably won't be able to fit you in." She paused.

"That brings me to the next subject. All the ladies with have 'dance cards.' These cards list each dance that will be played during the evening, and for each one, there is a place to write in a man's name. When a gentleman asks a lady for a dance, she consults her dance card to see if she has one available for him."

"I see! All of a sudden we change from neglected damsels who need a man to dance with to bells-of-the-ball before whom men line up hoping to be fit in."

"Well, one never knows how things will turn out. Men do do the asking. There might be ladies there who fall into both categories. What I'm saying is that real gentlemen don't just concentrate on the beautiful ladies, but help make all the ladies feel beautiful and popular."

"OK, I understand how the card works. What about your card, Laurie?" I had a devious smirk on my face. "How fast do you think it will fill up?"

She giggled and gave me a little push with her hand. "Well, it just might fill up sooner than you think. I'll try my best to work you in, but..." Laurie broke off, and I think she was searching for a subtle way to kid me about how popular she was going to be. Apparently, she did not come up with anything really clever.

"Well anyway, here's how it works. Gentlemen who are escorting ladies to the dance generally sign up for dances with those ladies first. By tradition, he has the first dance with the lady he brings, as well as the last dance of the evening."

"I've already covered that point myself--by decree rather than by tradition!"

"Yes, dear, I remember."

"So then after you put me down for a few dances, I have to go around and ask for dances with other ladies?"

"That's pretty much how it works, as I understand it. Other dances are usually divided between your old friends and of course new attendees or ladies without escorts."

Laurie paused, probably waiting for another smart remark from me about looking for the prettier ones. But I fooled her and said nothing.

"Now here's how it goes between dances. After thanking his current partner, the gentleman escorts her to her place or to her new partner for the next dance. Then he seeks out the lady who has promised him the next dance, if he has managed to find one," Laurie added with a sly smile. "He then leads her to her place in a set, as in the case of the Virginia Reel, or onto the dance floor. When the music begins, the gentleman bows, the lady responds with a courtesy, and the dance begins. During the dance, the gentleman is the lady's cavalier, and he gently leads her through the dance. At the end of the dance, he thanks her for the pleasure of her company and escorts her off the floor, as I've already explained."

Laurie, leaned back on the sofa, smiled, and shook her head in wonder. "How romantic! Beautiful, don't you think?"

"Well, 'formal' would probably the word I'd choose to describe it."

"But formalities like that are so graceful, so romantic!"

"We'll see," I said with a smile. Actually, I agreed. At the very least, it was often romantic to return and relive any era long gone. But then too, there was definitely something highly romantic about the "formal" graces between men and women in the Victorian era. It was a time when it could be truly said that men aspired to be gentlemen and women aspired to be ladies--and very feminine, indeed.

"Anything else I need to know?"

"I guess that's about it," Laurie replied. Then she looked at me with warm and hopeful eyes. "What do you really think, Terry? Are you looking forward to it?"

I knew that Laurie certainly was looking forward to it and that she was really hoping that I was just as excited about this dance as she was. I reached over and put my arm around her. She slid over and snuggled up to me.

"Sure I am," I said reassuringly. "It'll be fun. Like you said, it'll be like going back in time. I'll get to see a new you, a different you. A grand, elegant, and beautiful lady."

Laurie looked up at me with love in her eyes. "I just can't wait," she whispered.

Saturday began quite normally. There were things that needed doing around the house. Also, I figured that since we were not going to have a swank horse and carriage to take us to the grand ball, I should wash and wax the car--make it really special for tonight.

Finally it was time to dress for the big occasion. Now this I was genuinely looking forward to! Laurie had wanted all the clothes she had bought to be a surprise, and now was the time for that surprise to be revealed. I was really anxious to see not only her gown but to learn what she would "have on underneath," as she had said in her tantalizing way Thursday evening.

Laurie came into the bedroom after finishing her shower, and it was time to start dressing her. She had said she would need my help with the corset, but that she could handle to rest herself.

She finished drying and with the towel still wrapped around her walked over to the special dresser drawer where she had stored all the items she had bought, except the gown, of course. Laurie had looked at a number of Web sites that sold vintage lingerie and Victorian gowns. She liked Bloomers4U.com the best, and bought most of the items from that site. Several were handmade, historically accurate replications. Laurie used some other site for my clothes.

The first item she brought out of the dresser drawer was a pair of panties, always my favorite item of lingerie. I had been wondering what panties looked like in the Victorian era. The pair that Laurie had bought were somewhat voluminous but incredibly fancy. I think my eyes opened a bit wider.

Red PantiesShe dropped her towel on the bed and pulled the panties on. They were bright red and replete with ruffles. Below the elastic waistband, there were about two inches or so of smooth, silky material, not unduly baggy but certainly not skin-tight. Then around the hip portion, the panties had no fewer than four rows of pretty ruffles. The last of these rows was just above the elastic leg bands. Each leg band also consisted of yet another set of ruffles encircling the legs and forming a delightful cradle for the bottom portion of her derriere.

I was reminded of a scene from Fastest Guitar in the West, a rather obscure and unusual Western starring Roy Orbison, set in 1865. In one of my favorite scenes, the two leading heroines were singing on stage in a saloon. At one point during the song, they turned their backs to the audience, bent over, and flipped up their dresses. They were wearing ruffled panties very similar to the pair I was admiring right now. When watching the movie in the past, I never dreamed I would one day see Laurie in fancy panties like that!

Laurie turned slightly toward me as she again reached into the drawer. Her breasts were still bare, but my eyes were drawn inextricably to that incredible pair of panties she was wearing. They were full-cut, of course, and certainly did not hug her delightful feminine curves as snuggly as the skin-tight, microfiber modern panties she often wears. Nevertheless, she looked incredibly sexy in them. No doubt the striking contrast with the familiar added to the alluring image they projected. Even though historically they were "vintage" panties, their newness for me created an truly exciting image.

ChemiseNext Laurie took out what looked like some type of man's undershirt and pulled it on over her head. It had a squared, lace neckline and what almost amounted to short sleeves, also ending in lace trim. It was drawn in a bit at the waist, but its hem went to the hips, just above the first row of ruffles on her panties. The material looked somewhat silky, and her breasts, though veiled by the shirt, created shimmering silhouettes through the thin material.

Laurie looked up at me and caught my intense stare.

With a look of mild exasperation she said, "I hope you can keep your presence of mind--I still have quite a bit more to go, and I need you for the corset."

It took a second or two for me to regain enough composure to answer her. "What is that you just put on?"

"It's called a chemise. Women wore it under their corsets to protect the skin from chafing and to keep the corset clean from sweat and body oils. Corsets couldn't be washed, you know. This chemise is made of silk. More often cotton was used, and they came in different lengths. Just for you, I ordered a short one, so that my..." she paused, "derriere would hang out the bottom."

I had to smile at her hesitation on how to word that. I think she almost said "panties," and knowing how sexy I find it when she uses that word, she ordinarily would not have hesitated. However, this time she probably thought modesty was more consistent with the vintage lingerie she was going to be wearing.

But then despite the mesmerizing view in front of me, all of a sudden something hit me.

"But you didn't put on a bra. You can't go out without a bra..."

"Yes, I know that. But the corset I bought is called an over the bust corset. It covers the breasts and accomplishes the same thing as a bra. Now come over here and help me put it on."

Being satisfied about the bra issue, my mind immediately returned to how sexy Laurie looked. But her mind was on more practical matters. She picked up the corset and handed it to me. Then she turned around with her back to me.

The corset was red to match the panties and surprisingly heavy. It was indeed a very substantial garment.

"Now here's what you need to do. Take an end in each hand," she instructed, "and wrap it around me so I can grab it in front."

That was it! I could take no more. I paid little attention to the corset, laid it on the bed, and instead wrapped my arms around her, gently caressing her breasts through the thin, satiny chemise. Laurie leaned her head back, almost touching my shoulder, but her eyes were open, and I could tell she had one of those cute, twisted smiles on her face.

"All right, all right, that's enough..." she started to say.

But before she completed the sentence, a ran my hands down the chemise to catch its hem. Then I began to raise it, watching her reflection in the dresser mirror as her breasts became visible.

Still smiling, Laurie took my hands in hers and gently pulled them away from her; the chemise floated back down over her breasts. Letting go of my hands, she turned around and put her arms around me. I wrapped mine around her. With her one hand, she reached up and, running her fingers through my hair, pulled me toward her. She pressed her body tightly against mine in a passionate embrace, closed her eyes, and kissed me.

As our lips parted, Laurie pulled her head back just a bit and looked into my eyes. "Is that what you wanted?" she asked sweetly.

"Well, yeah, but I can also think of a lot more." I ran my hands down her sides and began playing with the ruffles on her panties.

"I can think of a lot more too...," Laurie answered with a provocative lilt in her voice. "...but not now," she added much more matter-of-factly as she took one finger and gently increased the distance between us. "If we make love now, we'll be late for the dance."

"We can be a little late," I suggested weakly.

Laurie stood there for a moment, smiled slightly and shook her head in feigned disbelief. Placing her hands on her hips, she said, "Well, let me put it another way: No."

There was certainly sense of finality in her tone, but no anger at all. I occasionally do make advances at somewhat inopportune times just to see her response. And who knows? I might get lucky. And I also suspect that Laurie secretly likes it that she has this effect on me. I want her to know that I find her attractive and sexy, so I enjoy teasing her at inappropriate times--it's fun! That is one of the things I like about being a man: as the male, it is my job to make a play for her often, even at awkward times like this, to show her how desirable she is to me. As the female, it is Laurie's job to decide when the mood and time is right for love making. She never seems to tire of my advances, even when she says no.

I must admit that standing here watching her in nothing but ruffled panties and a silk chemise and hearing her say no has the effect of making me want her all the more. That is how a wife can build sexual passion in a marriage. For now, however, I would just have to wait and get back to the business of helping her put on that curious thing called a corset.

Apparently in two pieces, it was indeed a very curious garment. In the back, the two parts were laced together with string. It reminded me of the way a man's shoe would be laced up. The corset itself was made of a sturdy, red satiny material with stays from front to back. There was some really stiff material where the two parts were to come together in the front. That is where I had to hold the corset to hand it to Laurie.

"What's this stiff material in the front?" I asked.

"Probably contains metal," Laurie replied. "It's called a busk and has these metal hooks that hold it together in the front. Once I have them hooked, you need to tighten the laces in the back--but not all the way--for now, just enough so it stays up."

I handed her the two parts and she wrapped them around her. Beginning with the top clasp, she hooked the corset together in the front. Then she gave me the instructions for lacing up the back.

"Now pull the loops gently and then tighten the lacing progressively towards the middle from both top and bottom. Not too tight now--this is not the final lacing. They need to be a little loose for the next step."

I must say that I performed this task with much difficulty, as if possessed of all thumbs. But finally Laurie said, "OK, that's tight enough for the time being."

Now that the corset was on her, I examined it more carefully. It did not cover her breasts completely but appeared to rest on them. The chemise extended well above the top of the corset. Since the corset came down to the hips, however, none of the chemise extended out the bottom. There was a smooth transition from corset to panties.

Red CorsetAnd what a combination! The bright red color of the corset was a very good match for the panties. The top and bottom edges of the corset were lined with black lace trim. The effect was stunning!

Then I did a double-take. "It has garters!" I exclaimed. I suddenly hoped my mouth was not drooling.

"Yeah, this one does. It's actually an Edwardian corset. This style was somewhat longer than the earlier Victorian style and came down to the hips. Some of them, like this one, also had garters for silk stockings."

"You're going to be wearing silk stockings?"

"Of course! That's why we couldn't lace this up to its final tightness--I wouldn't be able to bend over far enough to pull on the stockings!"

"They had silk stockings back then?"

"Oh, yeah, both silk and cotton stockings were available in the 1880s and 1890s."

With that, Laurie took out a pair of what looked like traditional nylons from that same dresser drawer. She sat down on the bed and with obvious difficulty managed to bend forward enough to pull them on. If she had hoped to put on some prolonged, sensuous display of gliding the stockings over each extended leg, the stiffness of the corset prevented it. She had all to do to reach down far enough to get the stockings on. She pulled them up rather quickly, and then took a deep breath.

After attaching the four garters to the stockings, she stood up and again faced away from me.

"OK, now tighten up the laces and tie them."

I proceeded to do so but evidently pulled the lacing too tight.

"Whoa! Not so tight. A corset is supposed to give a woman that 'hour-glass figure,' so I don't want to be completely flat on top! The instructions that came with the corset said that there should be a 'pleasant hugging' sensation, but that I should still be comfortable."

I laughed a little. "Was the word 'pleasant' appropriate in this context?"

Laurie laughed also. "Well, I'm beginning to think the description was a bit generous."

While tightening the laces, I recalled an ad I had seen a few years ago. It was in the window of a combination gas station/country store in a rural area of Georgia. The owner must have had quite a sense of humor. The store sold pantyhose, and he had the following sign in the window: "Pantyhose, $2.00. Installation, free." It occurred to me that if we lived back in the 1800s, I might enjoy running a store that sold corsets and advertising similarly. After all, fringe benefits were important in a man's job!

My brief reverie ended as I finally managed to get the lacing tightened to Laurie's satisfaction. She turned around and faced me, looking more and more desirable with each new layer. The fact that this kind of lingerie was all new to me, at least on Laurie, made her all the more alluring.

Again, she picked up on my wide-eyed stare and my barely-constrained desire for her.

"I thought you might like the look of this ensemble," she said. "I could have ordered calf-length knickerbockers. That's what was often worn in this era: the chemise and knickers with a corset. But panties like these were also worn during that time...and I got them just for you," she added with a sweet smile. "This outfit might be more like what a saloon-girl would wear, but it is accurate to the era, and I wanted to get you really turned on!"

"Well, you're doing that for sure!"

And indeed, what a vision of heavenly delight she was! The loose, white chemise about her shoulders, the red corset gently supporting her breasts and then hugging and shaping her figure as it encircled her narrow waistline and ended just above her hips, those ruffled, red panties emerging from beneath the fringed end of the corset, and finally the garters over a short stretch of soft, bare legs holding up those silk stockings, giving her legs an incredibly sexy sheen. As Laurie stood there, she projected the quintessence of the seductive image. Her attire seemed to draw out every passionate impulse I possessed, and I longed to have her.

But Laurie's "no" had sounded pretty final, so I had to abandon the idea of making love to her right now. However, I knew that the memory of this image would be firing my imagination throughout the evening. This, no doubt, was her plan.

With some effort, I tried to quell the raging passions within me, at least to the point where I could link more than two sentences together intelligently. However, my fixation was still too strong to get my mind on anything else but Laurie and what she was wearing.

Two items of clothing remained.

Laurie took out a slip from the dresser drawer. It was long and contained considerable material.

Petticoat"Boy, that's some slip!"

"They called it a petticoat back then. Some had a lot more layers than this one. Sometimes they were even worn with hoops in them to create a wide circle around your legs. I didn't think I'd be able to manage that. This one is big enough. It has a 4-inch sweep and a 10-inch ruffle. The 'swish of silk'--that's what characterized those days for the elegant woman."

She pulled on the petticoat.

"Now for the grand finale," Laurie added. She went to the closet and brought out a gorgeous, floor-length dress--or perhaps I should say gown. She stepped into it and pulled it on.

GownIt began with an velvet top with a deep, square neckline in front and back. The sleeves were almost what I would call three-quarter length, fairly "puffy" along their whole length, and then drawn in with some elastic at the end to give a ruffled appearance. The waistline was tight, no doubt a design that assumed a corset, and was followed by a steady, outward flow for the skirt portion.

The skirt, also of velvet, had a front drape with a double ruffle of velvet and brocade. It was slim in the front, but slightly gathered in the back to give a very Victorian look to the gown. The entire hem had a double ruffle of brocade and velvet around the bottom.

"This dress doesn't have a train," Laurie explained. "Most of the Victorian gowns did. But again--I didn't think I could handle that."

I think she was being generous here. What was more likely is that she thought I would be continually stepping on the train myself!

I looked at her and marveled. "Laurie, what can I say? When you dress up, I often say you look cute or pretty. But in this outfit--you are beautiful, absolutely stunning: a veritable picture of feminine elegance."

She smiled brightly. "You do have a way with words, sir," she said in a formal Victorian manner.

But then her face assumed a more practical countenance, as her eyes scanned me from head to foot.

"You don't seem to have gotten much on yet. Or are you planning to go like that?"

All of a sudden I realized that I had not put on a single item of clothing since Laurie had walked in the room. I was wearing only my shorts and a T-shirt.

"Well, could you really have expected me to think about my own clothes when all this was going on?" My hand gestures indicated her general attire.

"No, I suppose I couldn't," she said with a sigh.

Right: as if she had not known the effect watching her getting dressed would have on me!

"But now you'd better get cutting, or my prudent refusal of your ardent advances will have been in vain: we'll still be late!" Laurie was smiling.

With that, I pretty much snapped out of the semi-trance with which she had held me transfixed since first walking into the bedroom. I started to hustle and headed toward the closet to get my outfit. Her outfit she had kept secret, but mine she had agreed let me see earlier.

Laurie claimed to have decided that it would not add that much additional fun to this festive occasion for my attire to be true to the late 1800s all the way down to the underwear. That level of accuracy was important for her, but for me? Who cared what I had on, if it could not be seen? At least that is what she claimed. More likely she was trying to avoid a revolt on my part. So the only thing Victorian about my attire would be outerwear.

Man's ShirtMy shirt was long-sleeved with long cuffs and cuff studs. The collar was turned upward and I put on a black bow tie. The pants were also black. I hate suspenders, but to please Laurie, I reluctantly consented.

The matching black jacket was a knee-length, fitted coat tapered at the waist, almost giving an "hourglass" appearance. "After all," Laurie had explained, "the gentlemen had to 'keep up' with their lady counterparts!"

Man's SuitThe boats were black and ankle-length with laces. To top it all off, I had white cloves, a top hat, and a walking stick.

Laurie might have felt elegant in her fine and proper attire, but I felt self conscious. But this was one of those "things we do for love."

Men generally did not wear beards during the Victorian era, but often did have mustaches. Unfortunately, this part of the image was not possible--or there would been a revolt.

When I was done dressing, Laurie stood back and looked me over. "Well! Don't you look quite the gentleman! Suave, sophisticated. A girl has to be pretty lucky to be going out with you!" She paused, deep in thought. "No, that would not be the Victorian way of putting it. You look very fine this evening, sir, and I shall be delighted to accept your invitation to the dance."

I laughed. "I don't know if I believe all that, but I do know one thing: you may very well change your mind about how debonair and suave I am once I try doing those dances and end up on your feet more often than mine."

Now it was Laurie's turn to laugh.

Just before leaving the bedroom, I asked, "How do you feel in that corset?"

Laurie feigned an exaggerated effort to take a breath. "Very tightly wrapped." But then she smiled sweetly and put her hand to my face. "But very feminine."

As we walked out of the house to get in the car, I was wondering how Laurie would manage it. Would she even be able to bend over enough in that corset?

I opened the car door for her and stood to one side. There would be no opportunities tonight for looking up any skirts.

Laurie did raise her dress a bit, but only a little above the ankles. She managed to climb in and then more or less plopped down with a groan. With a certain amount of relief, she straightened up, I think to enable her to breathe again. She adjusted her gown as best she could in that rather small area, and I walked around and got in the driver's seat.

As we pulled out of the driveway, Laurie said, "Boy, am I glad I didn't get a hooped petticoat!"

I turned to look at her and just smiled.

We arrived at the ballroom in plenty of time for the Grand March. Indeed, it was grand--formal, elegant, and impressive. We really did not see anyone we knew but picked out several couples to introduce ourselves to. I also noticed that there were several present, both men and women, who came without escorts.

The opening waltz with Laurie went very well. We both acted quite dignified and tried to experience the ambience of an earlier time. It gave me somewhat of a strange feeling.

As we danced, I looked around the grand ballroom. The couples all had a certain elegance to their movements. The ladies created an especially stunning atmosphere in their beautiful gowns. Each one seemed to be unique and possessed of its own charm. I thought sure that I could even hear the "swish of silk" as voluminous petticoats and long, flowing gowns carressed each other in the graceful movements of the waltz.

I had already gotten on the dance cards of several ladies, but during one dance for which I had been unable to get a partner, I noticed a girl standing by herself near the door of the ballroom. When the dance ended, Laurie's partner brought her back to me.

During the break between dances, I asked Laurie, "See the girl over there?" nodding my head in the right direction. "She's been there for the last two dances. I don't think she's with anyone, and it doesn't look like anyone's heading her way for the next dance."

"Well, what are you waiting for? Go and do the gentlemanly thing."

I knew the music was about to begin, so I starting walking toward her. She was not the prettiest girl I had ever seen, but she had a genuinely wholesome look about her and was reasonably attractive in her gown. She had a dance card in her hand but was not looking at it.

I walked up to her and nodded my head in a quick, introductory bow. "Ma'am, I know I am not scheduled for this dance with you, but if you have not already promised it to another, I would be honored if you would care to dance this next waltz with me."

She hesitated just for a moment, but then said, "Oh, yes, I'd love to."

While we were dancing, she began to talk. "This is actually my first dance tonight."

"You are here without an escort?" I thought it was expected that I keep in the Victorian mode. Her response was a bit more modern.

"Yes. I read in the paper that there was going to be this Victorian dance. It sounded really exciting. I read up on the Victorian era, and bought my outfit." Then she looked down toward the floor. "But I didn't have anyone to take me."

"You're between boyfriends?"

"Sort of..." Her voice sounded sad.

It was a slow waltz. She was not the best dancer in the world, and she was a little shy. I put her age at about 24. During the dance, I told her my name, and she said her's was Nancy. After the dance, I led her off the floor and bowed in the Victorian manner.

"Thank you, Nancy, for a lovely dance."

Her face flushed, but she managed the appropriate response. "You are entirely welcome, sir. The pleasure was indeed mine."

She smiled a very pretty smile, and I turned and walked back to Laurie.

Several other men evidently had taken note of her while we were dancing. One or two of them did not seem to have brought anyone to the dance. As the evening progressed, I noticed that Nancy did not stand out any more dances.

Unfortunately, it finally came time to do the Virginia Reel. Due I am sure to Laurie's mischievous maneuvering, we were in the first set, the third couple from the top. At least I would get to see three couples "reel the set" before we got to be "top couple."

The lively music started, and I watched carefully. Of course, we got spun around as the top couple worked their way down the set. That was not so bad, and it was fairly easy to keep beat with the music. By the time we became "top couple," I believed that I had the routine down pretty good.

I took Laurie's extended hand, and we began to reel. She was so cute as we danced together, and her eyes were sparkling. Even after we split up to make our way through the rest of the couples, the dance was actually fun. My attitude toward the Virginia Reel had changed: it was indeed a "real treat," as Laurie had claimed Thursday night.

As we made that arch by holding hands after reaching the bottom of the set, we were a little winded but both smiling at each other.

There were a few more dances after the Virginia Reel, but soon we reached the final waltz. I took Laurie's hand and looked deeply into her eyes.

"I believe this is my dance, ma'am."

She did a brief curtsy and replied, "Indeed, it is, sir."

Then she melted into my arms as we began the slow waltz. It felt so good to hold her, and my heart glowed.

"This has been just a beautiful evening, Terry, and it was you being mine that made it so wonderful."

I looked down at her, and her eyes were moist.

Laurie continued in a whisper. "I was so proud when I watched you dance with others tonight. I love you so much."

I inclined my head close to her ear. "And how warm and wonderful you feel in my arms." I raised my hand and softly caressed the back of her neck as her head rested gently on my shoulder. "I really enjoyed being here with you. The Victorians seem to have had something that's been lost today."

As the music ended, I cradled her face in my hand a whispered, "I love you, Laurie."

We left the ballroom and walked to our car holding hands. Once again I realized how much a liked the feel of her soft, small hand in mine.

The dance had been a beautiful and profound experience, and I had luxuriated in the warmth of the love between Laurie and me. However, during the drive home, my thoughts took a rather natural turn, for a male, and began to focus on my growing desire to make love to her tonight. As Laurie herself had pointed out, I would know what she had on underneath her elegant blue Victorian gown. Those images had indeed flashed across my mind on several occasions as I watched Laurie during the evening. Now they were filling it completely.

Of course, I knew it was late, but hopefully Laurie had not gotten too exhausted during the long evening. I remember feeling a little tired myself as we had left the ballroom. However, I had now become miraculously transformed into a mass of raging desires and felt no exhaustion whatsoever. Males seem to have some sort of ability to create energy out of nowhere when sexual desire inflames the mind--in a rather direct violation of the laws of physics.

As visions of mad, passionate love-making tonight mixed with intermittent thoughts of the dances earlier in the evening, an interesting play on words occurred to me. One of the technical expressions used in describing the Virginia Reel was "peel off." As I pulled into the driveway, I was enjoying a vision of "peeling off" the various layers of Victorian garb that Laurie was wearing.

That "peeling off" would be a bit more involved than when Laurie is wearing modern lingerie. I have read that some men apparently have no interest in lingerie and seek only to get their wives naked as soon as possible. No doubt such men would find a corset the ultimate frustration! However, I was looking forward to the role it would play and was delighted that this enticing activity would be more extensive than usual. I have never understood the lack of interest some men have in lingerie and have always believed that these men miss a great deal. I find it incredibly exciting to watch Laurie undress or, even better, to participate in the process. With all the unusual items Laurie was wearing tonight, I contemplated an ecstasy beyond my wildest dreams.

As we walked into the house, I was trying to think of some clever way to initiate our foreplay, one that would put Laurie in the mood and keep her from thinking about the lateness of the hour. A few minutes later as we entered the bedroom, I asked, "How did a Victorian husband and wife undress and prepare for sex after an engaging evening?"

That question clearly lacked finesse, but it was the best I could come up with.

"I haven't the slightest idea," Laurie answered. "But I do know what you're going to do right now. You're going to take off every item I have on, one at a time and very slowly."

Well, Laurie was obviously not worried about finesse at all, and to my delight, exhaustion was not the emotion that had taken possession of her.

"Yeah, I was thinking about that on the way home. But first, I'm going to perform a time-honored fantasy with this very long, and elegant dress."

Then in a formal Victorian manner, I took her hand, bowed slightly, and said, "Ma'am, if you would kindly lie down on the bed..."

"Now would a Victorian gentleman say that to a lady?"

"A gentleman consumed with passion and desire for his lady would say it."

Laurie looked into my eyes and slowly started to smile. I walked her over to the bed. She removed her hand from mine and sat down on the side. Then placing both hands under her knees so that her dress would move with her, she swung both legs up on the bed and reaned back on the pillow. Her gown was smooth, straight, and exactly where it belonged.

"Now what is this fantasy of yours?"

One of my greatest turn-ons in our foreplay was talking Laurie's skirt and slowly pushing it up. This dress would provocatively prolong that whole maneuver because it covered every inch of her legs--nothing was visible. Having an affinity for alliteration, I said, "Tonight I am calling it the 'long lift.'"

Standing beside the bed, I reached down to Laurie's ankles. As I touched each one, she said, "You know, it was considered scandalous for a lady to expose her ankles."

"Well, young lady, I intend to expose a lot more than that."

With one hand around each leg, I began to life her skirt. Slowing more and more of her silk-covered legs became visible, then the garters and garter gap, and finally those incredible, red, ruffled panties.

"A good thing you didn't have to do the Can-Can tonight," I said. "No man there would be able to restrain himself."

"All right, all right. You got your thrill. That really didn't do much for me. If you expect to get anything tonight, you'll have to do better than that. Now let's see if you can ignite my passion by undressing me."

I waited a few moments as I stared at Laurie lying there with her dress bunched up around her waist. But then I took her hand again and helped her off the bed.

I started with her pretty gown and then her petticoat. The result was again that incredible vision I had experienced earlier this afternoon: the almost sheer chemise veiling her breasts, the tight, red corset, the matching ruffled panties, the garters and finally the silk stockings. The quintessence of the seductive image, generating an intense, passionate desire to have her.

Laurie intinctively knew that it would be wise to pause briefly at this stage. She came to me, and we embraced and kissed. Then I turned her around to repeat the caresses I had started this afternoon. Sliding my hands under her chemise, I reached around and gently fondled her breasts. Laurie pushed her back against me with a sigh of pleasure, closing her eyes.

I backed up and let her chemise flutter back into place. After easing her onto the bed again, I hopped up beside her.

Laurie's head swayed slowly back and forth on the pillow as ran my hands along her legs, thighs, and panties.

How astonishingly strong passion can become! The power of the image she projected in that seductive attire was irresistible magic. Every fiber of my being wanted her.

Laurie opened her eyes. In a low, quivering voice she said, "The evening wanes, dear sir, and my passion runs deep. Drive, I pray thee, my desire to new heights."

I noticed the formal Victorian wording, but I really no longer had the presence of mind to think of a Victorian response.

"How much frolicking can you do with this corset on?"

"Not much. It needs to come off."

I started by undoing the garters and sliding her stockings off. The mixture of silk and her soft flesh was a sensuous delight. Then I started on the laces of the corset and finally lifted it off of her.

Laurie looked up at me with intense passion in her eyes. My own desires had reached another crescendo as I took in this new sight lying before on the bed: the loosely fitting chemise gently draped over bare breasts and her pretty, red panties covered in ruffles.

I stretched out next to her and began toying with those ruffles.

"To the Victorians," I said.

"To the Victorians," Laurie whispered.

She closed her eyes again and moaned softly as my hand glided over the sensuously silky material to more responsive areas of those red panties.

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