Marital relations as necessary. Love not sought nor required.
This line from former slave Caesar King's ad convinces Queen Esther Payne a freeborn Black from Philadelphia, he's the man for her. Queen's acceptance assures Caesar he can have the platonic relationship he wants...until their first meeting proves an exciting tussle of wills that stirs him physically, intellectually and -- despite Queen's condescending manner -- emotionally too. Queen is equally surprised by her unexpected attraction to, and growing desire for, Caesar. Privately, she admits coming West to be his wife has benefits she hadn't known she craved.The issue of having children, however, creates an obstacle neither anticipated. He wants them. She doesn't. Each vows to resolve this impasse and wages a campaign to overcome the other's objections. But in the battle of sexual one-upmanship that ensues, both discover surrender can be as fun and fulfilling as winning.
“Our children?” She swiveled in her seat. “You made no mention of wanting children, just marital relations as necessary. I understood that to mean intercourse.”
“I wrote I wanted to leave a legacy.”
“A legacy. Not a dynasty.”
“Legacy. Dynasty. Is there really so sharp a distinction?”
“To my mind there is. I understood you meant to affect future generations—endow schools, found churches, create civic associations. I didn’t realize that meant children. I agreed to having sex, not having children.”
“Of course I want children.” His brows grew heavy as he frowned. “Doesn’t having sex lead to having children?”
“Not with the right precautions.”
His frown deepened. “Precautions?”
“There are many ways to prevent your seed from taking root, Mr. King.”
“I want children, Mrs. King.”
Her lips twisted and her brow furrowed, but she kept her silence.
“All right,” she said. “You can have children with any woman you like. I won’t stop you. I free you from any claim to fidelity.”
“Legacy—or dynasty if you will—means legitimacy. No bastard will carry my name, not when I have a wife to bear me children.”
Her tone signaled she didn’t.